Friday, January 30, 2009

PPT slides for "Do you get along with others?" 1 Thes 5:12-28

I read Jeff Meyer’s plan for the lesson to understand his take on the focal passage before I posted my PPT slides. “Play” the slides, and I hope they will be helpful to you in preparing your lesson.

If you are friends with other Bible teachers, forward them a link to this post. It might help them, too. Also, if you haven't done so, sign up as a “Follower” on the right side of the page.

God bless!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Remember to drive safely

Sonshine’s introductory comments for the lesson point out that Paul nowhere corrected the church at Thessalonica for spiritual decline, or moral decay. According to chapter 1 of the letter, they were a role model to other churches, and imitators of Paul. They were his glory and joy (2:20), and pleasing God (4:1).

Hence, in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, I don’t see Paul correcting the church for the types of errors that would be indicative of one whose members don’t get along. I think it might be confusing to start off teaching that the Thessalonican’s were a model church (“When You Started Out”), and end up implying they didn’t get along with one another.

Sam Tullock’s commentary on, “Do you get along with others?” brings out the practical application of the text. He notes that Paul may have directed specific instructions to the Church’s leadership (vs 14), and I can see how persecuted believers (2:15b) needed the encouragement in vs.15-22.

As for how to present this section of 1 Thessalonians, I see Paul much like a concerned father (2:11, 3:5b) writing to little children and he gets in some final instructions. The equivalent today happens when we talk to our kids over the phone, and in ending the conversation, we say things like, “Remember to drive safely”. See this article and notice the admonition to “remember to drive safely.”

Ask class members for examples of what they say to loved ones in the closing moments of a conversation. "Be careful." "Drive safely." "Take care of yourself." "Watch out for ..."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Avoiding confusion

As I indicated in a post last week, the verses in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 give instructions on how Christians should live in view of Christ’s imminent return. Keeping the context of last week’s lesson on the 2nd coming in mind, I don’t want this week’s lesson to turn into one on “church unity.” There was keen interest in discussing 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 last week, and I don’t want to lose that interest this week. How do you plan on avoiding confusing in your lesson?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Do you get along with others? 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

The central truth of the lesson, “Do you get along with others?,” can be illustrated using the proverb Ecclesiastes 4:12 , which says “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

How do personal relationships affect the strength of a local church? Take a spool of thread to class, and roll out a single strand. Show how it easily breaks when placed under stress. Next, roll out two strands and twist them together. Have the class guess whether or not this pair can be broken using the same stress as before. Go ahead and break the strands.

Take out of your pocket a cord made of many threads (prepared in advance). Ask the class if this cord will break under the same stress? Demonstrate that applying the same stress does not break the cord. Ask members to identify what is it about the individual strands that allows the cord not to be broken (ans. their relationship with other strands).

Liken this chord to a church that has strong relationships between its members. Indicate that the point of the lesson is to learn ways Christians can relate to each other to create strong churches.
P.S. Even simple binding combs as pictured could be used to introduce the many ways individuals can relate to each other to create a single unit.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Expectant living

Gregory K. Beale’s comments on the lesson’s focal passage in 1-2 Thessalonians about the analogy of a thief are helpful to understanding how to live expectantly.

How can we encourage class members to live expectantly? If you expected a thief to visit your home, what difference would it make in your life? Would you hole up in the house and wait, or what? No, but Paul does give specific behaviors in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24 that Christians should practice.

To finish out the lesson, have class members scan 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24 and call out what we should do to live expectantly.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quadrant analysis

Mark Rathel's comments on the lesson, "Are you ready?" use Paul's points in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 to dileneate the characteristics of the following groups of people--unprepared unbelievers, unprepared believers, and prepared believers. If we admit one other category, prepared unbelievers, a chart can be constructed that's divided into four quadrants. The left-horizontal axis would be labeled "unbelievers," and the right-horizontal axis "believers". The top-vertical axis is labeled "prepared", and the bottom axis is "unprepared". Write the characteristics of each group in its corresponding quadrant.

Consider leading your class to complete this chart (drawn on a marker board), by reading the focal passage and suggesting one-word descriptions for the characteristics pertaining to each group. Do this one quadrant at a time. This should get members into reading and analyzing the text in the context of an interactive discussion.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Are You Ready, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

To prepare to teach the lesson, "Are you ready?" from 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, think about life situations where you, or your class members have had to prepare for a coming event. For example, do you know someone who is pregnant? How should she and her husband make ready for the expected birth? What sort of things should they purchase? When should they begin to make ready?

In the focal verses, Paul ministered to the Thessalonicans as he taught them how to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Essentially he encouraged them to live a holy life as preparation for Jesus' return. He exhorted them to be ready.

What would you give as tips to prepare for anything: a job interview, a physical exam, a move to a new location, an emergency, or to teach the Bible on Sunday?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Collage poster

The file, “Poster Size Collage,” contains the collage slide of a previous post, the PPT page size is set to 48” x 34”. This is a poster size I've used effectively in the past, but you can change the dimensions to whatever suits your printer. For example, go to File->Page Setup-> and change the size 10” x 7.5”, which fits on a 11” x 8.5” piece of paper.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Some do, some don't

Well, Jeff Meyer of Bayleaf Baptist provided a lesson plan for "Whose Life is Important?".

Interestingly, Carmel Baptist did not, and neither did Second Baptist, Houston. I could have missed their plans, but it appears they do not teach a "sanctity of life" lesson, or at least don't teach it on the same schedule as other churches.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Digging up the past

Two years ago, I posted on this blog my PPT slides for the sanctity of life lesson, “Valuing Every Life”. Since some of the focal passages overlap with this week’s lesson, I suggest you look at the slides to see if they can be of any help to you.

A couple of other posts related to that previous lesson includes Dumbfounded, and God Accompanied Noah.

I found these just by searching this blog. If nothing else, its at worst a good filing system for previous lesson material :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Whose life is important?

What makes a good lesson? Grabbing people’s attention is key. How do you accomplish this in Sunday’s lesson, “Whose Life is Important?”

You can start off discussing political correctness, situation ethics; end justifying the means, or philosophies like humanism.

However, I suggest something visual since the lesson is about life. One idea that strikes me as useful is to show a collage of various images like the example given below. These images correspond to the focal verses covered in the lesson, which all teach the value of human life (see Brian Harbour’s plan (p. 7)).

Friday, January 09, 2009

PPT slides for "What Hope Do You Have?", 1 Thes 4:13-18

I posted my PPT slides for Sunday’s lesson, “What hope do you have?” I structured the lesson to be more interactive, so instead of their usual density, the slides are more suggestive. I may need to add a slide concerning the timing of the rapture, but I don’t want to have a dispensational versus covenant theology discussion.

If my slides don’t help you, try using Jeff Meyer’s lesson plan, or the plan (p. 6) from the Riverland Hills Baptist Church site by Brian L. Harbour.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Without warning

Step 4 of the lesson, “What Hope Do You Have?” is based on 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. I thought it would be instructive for members to read these verses in two translations and a paraphrase, comparing the later to a formal equivalent translation.

In this passage, Paul clearly expected the Lord to return at any time, possibly while he was still living. He communicated “no early warning sign” that would tip off the occurrence of the rapture (harpazo). In other words, the rapture will occur without warning, and can happen at any moment (1 Cor 15:51-52).

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Putting 2+2 together

If I understand 1 Thessalonians 4:14 correctly, Paul took several facts into account. (1) Jesus died, and (2) was raised to life by God. (3) Believers die, and (4) are immediately with Christ after death of the body (2 Cor 5:8, Phil 1:23), which will be eventually resurrected (1 Cor 15). (5) Christ is coming again. Hence, those who have died and are with Christ will return with Him when He comes again. God will make this happen.

To help members think about key truths in the Bible, before I present 1 Thessalonians 4:14, I will show the following as a slide:
After a few members answer, I will move on to Step 3 on the lesson, “What Hope Do You Have?”.

P.S. I don’t plan to bring it up in class, but this week’s Travolta family tragedy may give rise to questions about what Scientology teaches regarding an afterlife.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ignorance and examples not to follow

Examining the key words in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, the emphasis in step 2 of the lesson, “What Hope Do You Have?,” is that Christians should not be ignorant and grieve in the same way as unbelievers who have no hope.

To make my lesson interesting on the point of ignorance, I'll cover the afterlife alternatives offered to unbelievers by various worldviews and religions (see Mark Rathel’s commentary).

For the element on grief, I’m considering an example of what Christians ought not to emulate by reading this 1932 poem by Mary Frye. I’d really appreciate your thoughts. Am I interpreting the poem as something unbelievers advise doing?

P.S. Below, you can “react” this post with a single click.

Monday, January 05, 2009

What Hope Do You Have?, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

The lesson, “What Hope Do You Have?” is exciting because it’s based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, where Paul explains why Christians have reason for hope.

The LifeWay Adult Leader Guide (p. 71) suggests introducing this lesson using an obituary page from a newspaper. This might go well in your class, but I can imagine this might not excite interest from members in my class. So I went looking for alternatives.

Mark Rathel’s commentary introduces this lesson by noting what various worldviews and religions teach regarding an afterlife. This approach could be informative as well as interesting.

Louis Johnson’s commentary introduces this lesson likening the irony in a local news story to that of how believers’ have trouble in their lives, yet they are concerned about leaving it (by death). I like the idea, but it may be too subtle to grab everyone’s attention.

Joy Ross’s commentary uses a child’s reaction at a funeral to introduce the lesson. Reminds me of the story in Jim McCullen’s commentary of a child’s reaction to an open grave.

My hope for a successful lesson opening is to use a simple quiz, which asks, “Which of the following words do not appear in the Bible?”

* Trinity
* Rapture
* Omnipotence
* Atheism
* Hope

This will get members thinking about what’s in the Bible, and what’s not. This can be leveraged into discussion of reasons why Christians have hope.

Friday, January 02, 2009

What's best for me, or others?

Steps 4 & 5 of the lesson, “What’s your goal in life?,” are exhortations to practice love according to Dr. Sam Tullock’s commentary. One way to think about agape love is to define it as “doing something that’s in the best interest of someone else” (which may not be in your own best interest).

With this idea of love in mind, read 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12, and think about how leading a quiet life, minding your own business, and doing your job can be something done in the best interest of outsiders (unbelievers). Check out an example of the normal mode: “to do what’s best for me.”

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Site Update, 2008

Happy New Year!

Usage of this blog grew again in 2008. The year-over-year growth can be seen in the following statistics (taken from

------------------------Average Per Month
Year: ----------------> 2006 2007 2008
Page loads: ----------> 2640 5296 8,307
Unique visitors: -----> 1046 2237 3,667
First time visitors: ---> 644 1327 2,224
Returning visitors: ---> 403 911 1,443

The bar chart (below) graphically shows 2008 traffic by month to this site. For comparison, I also reported traffic to this site in 2006 and 2007.

I also posted PPT-lesson slides 20 weeks in 2008, which were downloaded an average of 84/post. If I were more consistent, this number would probably increase.

Thank you for visiting here. Take a moment to sign up as a Follower (see right side of this page). May the Lord continue to bless Bible teachers in 2009 as we prepare together to teach His word each Sunday.