Monday, June 30, 2008

Peter: Openness, Acts 9:32-11:18

Mark Rathel’s commentary on this week’s lesson, “Peter: Openness”, starts with a mention of how easy or difficult it is for us to accept new ideas, then he dives into the lesson context of how Jews were not open to acceptance of Gentiles.

Don Raney’s commentary goes further saying, “’new’ is seen as evil”, with respect to personal religious beliefs.

Stereotyping came to mind as I studied the opening material for the lesson. A set of questions to test positive and negative stereotyping is given on this site. Think about starting the lesson with a discussion of stereotyping. That in itself may be a test of how open we are to new ideas!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Picture of commitment vs that of a reordered life

Jeff Meyer’s lesson plan for, “Paul:Total Commitment”, starts with questions suggested by Lifeway. He ends it having members picture what it would look like if they demonstrated intense commitment to Christ.

Sam Tullock’s lesson commentary indicates that Paul’s experience with Christ reordered his whole life. Members might have an easier time describing an example of when their life was reordered as opposed to picturing themselves in total commitment to Christ.

If I could only find the right picture, but so far it has eluded my search!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Examples of commitment

Daniel Haigwood’s own commitment story opens his commentary on the lesson, “Paul: Total Commitment”. We know commitment when we see it—for example Paul’s commitment to Christ.

The story of Dick and Rick Hoyt speaks volumes about commitment, too. Consider using their story in your lesson. You can search the web and learn more about their commitment.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Paul: Total Commitment, Acts 9:1-31

Usually, the most anxious times in teaching for me is getting my lesson started, and having to answer a tough question. Getting started last Sunday (yesterday) was made easy by using the “job interview” idea proposed by S. Wiley of Carmel Baptist Church. My class had a ball with the questions and it grabbed everyone’s attention.

Answering a tough question was made easier by anticipating it and preparing for it. Sure enough I got a question about the Holy Spirit’s involvement being a two-step process. Another person pointed out the lack of mention of the issue in the Quarterly, so I was even more glad to be prepared.

How did your lesson go on Sunday? What’s "the hook" for your lesson this coming Sunday, “Paul:Total Commitment”. What tough questions do you anticipate when you cover Acts 9:1-31?

Consider showing a picture, for example this one, and asking members to say what’s wrong in the picture. Get around to the point that the person is not totally committed to driving!

Also, prepare for greater discussion about Paul’s conversion, and how he was changed.

Friday, June 20, 2008

PPT slides for "Philip: Consistency" from Acts 8

Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington offers interesting questions to discuss while teaching, “Philip: Consistency”. For example, they ask, “What disturbs you about Simon in this passage in light of his profession of faith and baptism in v.13?” They also ask, “What principles of “baptism” can you identify in these verses?”

Mike Womack’s commentary offers an interesting angle, that of church members thrust into leadership positions when their pastor leaves. I observed this in our church in the nearly two-year gap between a pastor retiring and the call of a new man.

Lastly, I offer my PPT slides in hopes they might help you organize your lesson plan.

May God bless you and your class!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Gift of the Holy Spirit

Acts 8:14-17 are troubling verses because they reference people receiving the Holy Spirit well after they were baptized in the name of Jesus. The LifeWay Adult Commentary on Acts (p. 44) says such experiences “appear unique.” The Adult Leader Guide is silent on this issue. My understanding is that believers receive the Holy Spirit the same moment they believe on Jesus Christ.

Sam Tullock ventures an explanation in his commentary, “Philip: Consistency.” These people were already saved (regenerated) having been baptized as believers in Jesus Christ by Philip (for example, the Apostles were already believers in Jerusalem when the Spirit came on them at Pentecost). See 1 Corinthians 12:3.

Tullock’s explanation that Peter and John prayed for the Spirit to come on these Samaritan believers as a confirmation sounds plausible since they could have been faking belief in Jesus (like those in 1 John 2:19). An obvious manifestation of the Holy Spirit would put to rest any concern they had.

How do you plan to handle these verses?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Worn out running shoes

In reading the Scripture passage Acts 8:4-40, for this week’s lesson, “Philip: Consistency”, I noticed Philip ran to catch the Ethiopian’s chariot. I’m thinking about carrying a pair of old running shoes to class and asking members to suppose they were Philip’s. They were well worn when he used them to bring good news to the Ethiopian. Does God ask us to fill Philip's shoes? Would they fit you well?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Philip, a winsome person

Sonshine posted her study questions on the lesson, “Philip Consistency”. Instead of taking the “consistency” angle proposed by LifeWay, her questions focus on the idea that God wants us to share the gospel with all peoples. She asks, “Who are the Samaritans?” She goes further by asking, “Why is the Ethiopian conversion an important story for us?”

Frankly as I read the background passage, Acts 8:4-40, I’m still in awe of the unquestionable work of the Holy Spirit.

S. Wiley of Carmel Baptist offers a lesson plan that approaches the material with the idea that Philip was a winsome person. Consider asking class members to define winsome and ask them to call out names of people they consider to be winsome. Here is one example in the news.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Phillip: Consistency, Acts 8:4-40

Philip: Consistency from Acts 8:4-40 is our lesson this week. In his remarks about it, Daniel Haigwood comments about consistency in a manner similar to Kendall Easley, the writer of the LifeWay Adult Commentary on Acts.

What, or who do you think of when you think of “consistency?” The thoughts necessary for a consistent golf swing come to my mind. We know we should witness consistently like Philip, but generally, we do not. Do you plan to use the Acts 8 focal passages to help members become more consistent witnesses?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A little bit of history

Because of the various Jewish groups mentioned in Acts 6-7, the background passage for “Stephen: Boldness”, Executive Pastor Jay Hancock of Carmel Baptist Church posted a crash course in Jewish History as well as a Historical Backgrounder for Acts (in PPT). He also posted a lesson plan, which is helpful. Thanks Jay!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rock the boat, or not

Daniel Haigwood describes his bold witnessing in the article, “The Chase was on”. That’s how he’ll start his lesson, I suppose.

Jeff Meyer’s lesson plan uses LifeWay’s ideas for introducing the lesson, which I like since they require members to do comparative thinking and analysis.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Stephen: Boldness, Acts 6 and 7

The lesson this week is, “Stephen: Boldness,” which is based on Acts 6&7. My lesson last Sunday went pretty well. Everyone locked into the main points, but some of my ancillary ideas were not appreciated (eg. the connection between a little utilized, but vast, available solar power and a equally untapped, immeasurably powerful Holy Spirit). I was either presumptuous, or bold :-).

I’m not sure what, or who personifies boldness these days. Maybe some picture comes to mind? Like the one of a cat walking in front of a line of German Shepherds?

How do you plan to start a discussion on boldness?

Friday, June 06, 2008

PPT slides for Empowered to Help

When teaching Acts 4:2 in the lesson, “Empowered to Help”, consider using this joke that demonstrates illogic. The Sadducees didn’t believe in a resurrection because of their particular reasoning about the Law. The Law required a man to marry his deceased brother’s wife. A resurrection was impossible they reasoned since she would necessarily have more than one husband in the end.

For those interested in using PowerPoint, I posted a complete version of my slides for the lesson. If you have any questions about the slides, don’t hesitate to ask!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Power in the Name

I’ll probably base my lesson plan on the commentary, “Empowered to Help,” by Sam Tullock. I particularly like the context in which he explains Acts 3, 4 and 5. This helps me understand how to teach the background passage in the cultural context of today’s church.

Power and energy are big topics in the news. We can read about the power of the wind, or the power in a peanut. LifeWay’s Adult Extra suggests starting the lesson with five ways to have more energy.

I think I’ll start with the song All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name, and then go into a discussion about available power from various sources (which will end with a challenge to look for examples of the power of the Holy Spirit in the lesson passage).

Here is a draft of my PPT slides. I post these early so that you have an opportunity to fill in key points in the text boxes labeled “To be completed”. If you have a good point to add, please post it so that everyone can benefit from what the Holy Spirit has taught you.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Talk of the town

Employees in a former company where I worked were often encouraged to “make a difference.” As I read the background passage, Acts 3, 4 and 5 for the lesson titled:
Empowered to Help, I see the Apostles making a difference in Jerusalem. You might say, “They were the talk of the town.”

Here is an interesting story about pastors who are making a difference in their town by addressing an obvious need.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Empowered to Help, Acts 3 and 4

A friend who owned a company explained why he did not use traditional advertising in his business by saying, “No one has time to read everything they receive. Everyone is too busy. They wouldn’t notice an ad by my company.”

He later sold the company for a hefty sum. Instead of traditional advertizing, he used a viral marketing approach. He sought to win editor’s awards from key industry magazines, and created a buzz among potential customers as a leading product.

According to item 6 in this story, a satisfied customer will tell three other people about their positive experience, and an unhappy customer will tell eleven others about a negative experience.

As you prepare to teach the lesson, Empowered To Help, based on Acts 3 and 4, think about what really makes the most difference in spreading the Gospel message. Is it traditional advertising, or a true witness of the resurrected Christ?