Thursday, August 28, 2008

PPT slides for "Rome: Facing Limitations", Acts 27-28

In the context of Paul’s long imprisonment at Caesarea and Rome, Sam Tullock’s comments on the lesson mention that “life has many prisons”. I’ll use this to help stimulate discussion with class members.

I’ve posted my PPT slides for “Rome:Facing Limitations”. If you ‘play’ the slides and step thru the presentation you can get a feel for how I plan to interact with the class.

Feel free to post a link to your final lesson plan as a comment here. I'm sure it will help other teachers prepare. Remember--not all classes are on the same schedule. Some are behind the planned schedule. I know this since more than a third of the total downloads of my PPT slides happen in the weeks following the original presentation date.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Step 2 of the lesson, “Rome: Facing Limitations” suggests that Christians creatively make new acquaintances with whom they can share the gospel. I thought about the lyric, “Like to get to know you” by Spanky and Our Gang.

Marketers want to get to know you for business reasons, but increasing use of automation tends to make an impersonal world.

Paul called a meeting with the Jewish leaders in Rome. He may not have known them personally, but you can bet he knew them as a group—their concerns, interests and desires. You might say, he was “group-wise”.

What “group” do you know well? Or, what group is your church successfully reaching at this time? For example, my class had five visiting couples last Sunday. I’d like to get to know this group!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rome: Facing Limitations, Acts 27:1-28:31

Our final lesson from Acts is “Rome: Facing Limitations”, and it’s based on Acts 27:1-28:31. The word, “limitations” immediately reminded me of the Dirty Harry line, “A man’s got to know his limitations” in the movie Magnum Force. Paul seemed to not know any limitation when it came to sharing the gospel.

Bob Deffinbaugh’s commentary on Acts 28 is interesting because he asks a key question, “What is its message for us?” He concludes, rather interestingly, “It is about the advance of the gospel.” I urge you to read Bob’s comments since they helped me set a context for the lesson focus selected by Lifeway.

To start the lesson with the idea of advancing despite limitations, consider sharing the story of Ed McGuire, author of “The Little Light Bulb”.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Backhanded Compliment

Festus interrupted Paul in Acts 26:22-25, the focal passage for Step 3 of the Lifeway lesson plan for “Caesarea: Facing Secular People”. The material notes (pg. 134) that Festus paid Paul a left-handed compliment, otherwise known as a backhanded compliment. Use a few example, backhanded compliments to introduce this step (lot’s of examples on the web). Ask members if they’ve ever been interrupted while speaking. Ask how did they respond.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Don't call me

The Lifeway Leader Guide for Step 2 of the lesson, “Caesarea: Facing Secular People”, (pg 132) describes Felix’s attitude toward Paul as: “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”

To introduce the Step, ask members if they have placed their phone numbers on the national “do not call” list? Show this poll result for “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” Ask members what was the real motive behind Felix’s statement in Acts 24:25.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Caesarea: Facing Secular People, Acts 23:23-26:32

Last Sunday, co-teacher Curt picked up on current Olympics news and used Michael Phelps as an example of discipline. He succeeded in getting the class talking (interested in what he had to say). Then he likened this to Paul and the courage and discipline he possessed to go to Jerusalem even when he knew there would be trouble.

Sonshine’s study questions for this week’s lesson, “Caesarea: Facing Secular People,” leads with essentially the same idea (disciplined athlete) using Paul’s own words (see 2 Tim 4:7-8). You can create a lesson plan based on her questions, I think.

As I read the background passages, the word ‘curious’ came to mind. The Roman commander was curious as to why the Jews accused Paul (Acts 23:28). King Agrippa was curious to hear Paul (Acts 25:22).

How did Paul create curiosity? His listeners wanted to learn something they didn’t already know. So what was the 'news' Paul presented in Acts 24:10-21, Acts 25:10-11, and Acts 26?

Print media creates curiosity with interest grabbing headlines. Audio media uses sound bytes to create curiosity. Video media uses video clips. This suggests one way to begin this lesson is to put together a collage of attention grabbing headlines from this week’s news, and present your selections to get people interested. In addition, make up your own lesson headline for Acts 23:23-26:32 and present it to create curiosity about the lesson. Be creative!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wrong assumptions: "Jerusalem: Facing Criticism"

Criticism sometimes happens as a result of making wrong assumptions. Discuss a few examples of making wrong assumptions with your class. Then ask members to identify possible wrong assumptions (or jumps to conclusions) that can be found in the focal passage for the lesson (Acts 21:17-29, 39).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Criticism quotes

While teaching the focal passages for Jerusalem: Facing Criticism, ask members if (and how) they seek to avoid criticism? Read Elbert Hubbard’s quote: To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. Ask members if his statement is true.

Bob Deffinbaugh’s commentary on Acts 21:17-22:19 notes that Paul’s mention of his vision to take the gospel to the Gentiles triggered an angry lynch-mob action. Paul certainly didn’t seek to avoid criticism.

In the context of the lesson, ask members to discuss the truth of this quote by Winston Churchill: Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. Ask members to consider how criticism is necessary in their lives at the moment.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Jerusalem: Facing Criticism, Acts 20:1-23:22, 21:17-29, 39

I’ve discussed criticism before in a post about Blind Spots, which may be helpful in teaching this week’s lesson, “Jerusalem: Facing Criticism”. Paul faced unfair and untrue criticism in Acts 21:17-29, 39. How did he handle it? How do you handle criticism?

It’s interesting that by taking a Gentile Christian offering to the (poor) Jerusalem church, Paul was practicing the ministry of reconciliation. Yet, just the opposite happened. Paul ended up in prison, and that Church failed to bring people together in unity under Christ.

Perhaps a way to start this lesson is to talk about failures at home, at work, or in church. Then ask members what criticisms were leveled as a result. Or to take up the background passage in more detail, ask members to list criticisms that could be leveled against the Jerusalem church and its failure to reconcile with Gentiles, and how its leadership advised Paul to handle his critics.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Lesson plans

I’m not posting PPT slides this week, but check out the following lesson plans for teaching for “Ephesus: Facing Religious People”:

Jay Hancock, Carmel Baptist
Jeff Meyer, Bayleaf Baptist
Russ Rosser, Carmel Baptist

Why do I mention these? They are more or less, “lesson plans” versus commentary. For commentaries on the background passage of Acts 18:23 - 19:41, see the right side of this page.

Jeff leads off with a question about being a tutor.
Jay Hancock begins with the idea of passing down family recipes.
Russ Rosser just begins.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Passing down recipes

Dwayne McCrary, editor of the LifeWay Extra, created a Facebook group for Extra’s readers. I think it is a good idea, and joined it. Get a Facebook account and pile on!

To teach the lesson, “Ephesus: Facing Religious People”, make the point that Paul wrote the following letters while on his 3rd missionary journey: 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans. The act of writing down the truth helped others avoid making errors in the faith (see also 2 Peter 1:15).

One way to “Teach what’s needed” is to write it down so that others can read the truth. Have you written down your beliefs about Jesus Christ so that others may know what you believe? That’s one way you can help others who have an incomplete understanding of who Jesus is.

Ask class members if they pass down recipes in their family. Ask why? Make the analogy of passing down written beliefs about Christianity to help future family members avoid errors in the faith!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Annointed handkerchief

Mike Womack’s commentary for teaching, “Ephesus: Facing Religious People”, notes that the “handkerchiefs and aprons” (v 12) are not “healing paraphernalia”. He points to Luke 8:43-48, where Jesus told a healed woman, who had touched his cloak, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.” We wouldn’t fall for a “anointed red prayer handkerchief” today would we?

Given today’s philosophy about food supplements many members probably ingest a number of pills daily believing they have curative or preventative powers. I don’t know if you’d want to get into meddling, however.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Ephesus-Facing Religious People, Acts 18:23-19:41

Given the “question lesson plan”, members were very interactive as I taught yesterday’s lesson, “Athens: Facing Questions”. It was a welcome change from the rut I’ve been in lately. I added a slide suggested by a last-minute email from Lifeway referencing questions Jesus asked in Mark. It was a great way to warm up the class to answering questions presented in the lesson.

This week’s lesson, "Ephesus: Facing Religious People" is a challenge to teach, I think, but co-teacher Curt is in the saddle this week, so I’m studying it just to keep up.

Dr. Jim’s commentary on the lesson starts with this question, “On Saturday Morning if two people knock on your door; will it be Baptists from the nearby church? Sadly it will likely be some religious people from one of the cults.”

This lead me to think of discerning fakes as in knock-off, copy-cat, or look-alike products.