Thursday, May 28, 2009

Commitment story

To introduce the close of your lesson, “Commitment: A Path to Effectiveness,” read the following story and ask members what word they would use to characterize Connie?

Read: Connie Douglas spends part of her summers at Camp Waldemar for Girls along the Guadalupe River in Texas, helping teach horseback riding to girls, ages 7 to 16. What makes Connie Douglas so unusual is that she is 100 years old and has been doing this for 66 summers. She has also attended law school, taught school and worked with her husband as a rancher. When the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame opened this summer, Douglas was honored because she has taught more than 30,000 girls to ride horseback.Source: "Almost 101, cowgirl still saddles her horse,", 22 Sept. 02, Updated article on Connie.

As an alternative, here are a few ‘case studies’ you could ask members to read to uncover individual commitments.

1. Allan and Susan are new Christians. They thanked God for the blessing of giving them a grand baby, but Susan has just learned that her daughter’s newborn baby has a birth defect. She and Allan do not want to question God, but their new faith is being shaken. Others around them are blaming God for the baby’s problem. What is your suggestion for this couple to remain faithful and committed in the face of this discovery?

2. John has worked for his company for 20 years. He has just been informed that because of a downsizing, he will no longer have a job. He and Mary, his wife, have outstanding debts that demand monthly payments. The two are Christians, and their friends are urging them to sue his former company for age discrimination. They asked you for advice. What would you tell them?

3. Robert is not a Christian. However, he respected that Jesus could attract such a large following through His teachings, but feels that he can’t live up to His requirements. Robert’s life is unsatisfying to him and he does not like life’s lack of ‘real purpose’ as he sees it. You sit down beside Robert on an airplane trip and strike up a conversation. He asks you “In what way is your life with Jesus personally satisfying?” What would you say to him?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Incomparable God

On May 28, 2006, LifeWay’s Explore the Bible series offered a lesson from Isaiah and Micah titled, “Praise Our Incomparable God.” See blog posts Incomparable God, Matchless God of Wonder, God’s Incomparable Plan, God's incomparable deeds, No one is like Him and What have you learned?.

Step 4 of this week’s lesson, “Commitment: A Path to Effectiveness,” includes Micah 7:18, which begins with “Who is a God like You…?,” a statement of God’s incomparability. This suggests a way to introduce this step. Show a slide of a collage of people, places or things that are marketed as incomparable, and ask class members if the items are really incomparable, or are they just hyped?

The following is an example of the slide I have in mind. Are these items truly incomparable in the sense that they cannot be compared with anything else? The answer is no, and the claim of incomparability is more hype than reality. State that this step will help us commit to God because He truly is incomparable.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


For Step 2 of the lesson “Commitment: A Path to Effectiveness,” consider playing this video of a person writing with both hands. The people of Judah were “both handed” in accomplishing evil.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Commitment: A Path to Effectiveness, Micah 7:1-20

My lesson Sunday was well received. I knew the Lord used the preparation because the truth of His word was proclaimed. The PPT slides I used have been downloaded 129 times so far. I hope some of you were able to effectively use them.

This week’s lesson from Micah 7 is “Commitment: A Path to Effectiveness,” (Mark Rathel gave it a different title). I wonder if preachers today identify with Micah 7:1 when they are faithful to deliver God’s word, but likewise find no evidence of repentance among their congregations?

As I read the background passage, it occurred to me to use Micah’s action of searching in 7:1 as a way to start off the lesson. We all use Internet search engines to quickly locate relevant results. However, we have all experienced times when our searches returned lots of results, but none were useful. Like Micah, our search yielded no fruit. Show a PPT slide of a Google front page to get started.

Instead our search may return everything but what we looked for. Micah experienced that. He looked for repentance. Instead he found no one who trusted and followed the Lord. Judges demanded bribes, children rebelled against their parents, and neither close friends nor spouses could be trusted.

To strengthen this idea of using search as an analogy, Micah later refers to watchmen—individuals who could see a coming judgment on the people for their sin, and in verse 7, Micah looks to the Lord.

If you find a better idea than using ‘search’ as a analogy for kicking off the lesson, please post a comment so we can all benefit from the insight the Lord has given you.

Friday, May 22, 2009

PPT Slides for "Hope: A Path to Fulfillment", Micah 4-6

I posted my PPT slides for “Hope: A Path to Fulfillment,” which are based in a large part on the LifeWay teaching suggestions. I hope you find them useful. Pray that all the teachers sharing God’s Word this coming Sunday will be clear, interesting, and relevant to members in their Life Groups.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What can you see?

What can you see in the picture? McDonald Observatory is in the near-distant, left-center of the picture. I took this snap standing on top of Baldy Peak of Mt Livermore last week.

Looking out from where he stood, the prophet Micah could see the corrupt leaders and priests, the coming judgment, and a future hope.

I will use this picture to open the lesson, “Hope: A Path to Fulfillment” based on Micah 4-6. It will create interest and discussion, and challenge members to see into the distance. I can liken this to how God’s Word allows us to clearly see moral issues, and the future return of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Under siege

In Micah 5, Jerusalem was under siege from the Assyrians. I’m thinking it’s important for members to understand a siege mentality. How would you communicate what it’s like to be under siege? Illustrate it using a picture of Lachish under Assyrian siege? Relate a story of a school system under siege?

We’ve taught previous lesson on hope, and the following sets of PPT slides may be helpful to review.

What Hope Do You Have?

Live in Hope

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hope: A Path to Fulfillment, Micah 5:2-5

As I began preparing to teach this week’s lesson, “Hope: A Path to Fulfillment”, I wondered what the Lifeway editors had in mind by using the word “fulfillment.” For example, what if it was simply omitted and the lesson title was “Hope: The Path”? Does that state the subject of the lesson more clearly? As Bible teachers, we want to be clear, not just interesting and relevant.

Mark Rathel’s commentary re-titled the lesson, “Hope: a path to the future,” and he uses phrases such as “the path of hope,” which indicates to me his understanding that this is a lesson focused on hope, not fulfillment. He even coins the title, “Ruler of Hope” to put the focus on a Person.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Food preservatives

Dan Kassis, Internet Producer at Lifeway, suggests opening the lesson: “Corruption: A Path to Nowhere,” by having members share a time when they encountered spoiled food.

To add interest to the lesson, consider taking this suggestion a bit further in Step 4. What causes food to spoil? Some answers can be found here. Draw a parallel between the agents that cause food to spoil and those who pervert what is right given in Micah 3:9-12.

An important question is, how can we preserve food? The last two slides of the reference lists a number of methods. Again, draw a parallel between preserving food and the important question, how can Christians please God? For example, holding to ethical standards might be equivalent to “adding salt or sugar” to preserve food. Or, “Ionizing radiation” might equate to reading and studying the Bible.

Show a list of preservation methods and ask members to think about which one best applies as an analogy of a help that enables them to please God?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Money talks

Reading the lesson plan from Kelly Kinto, “Corruption: A Path to Nowhere”, I thought of a number of phrases like “money talks,” “take your money and run”, “do it for the money”, “easy money,” or “follow the money”.

You might consider having members read Micah3:5 silently and have them pick the phrase about money that best matches the political and religious leaders of Israel and Judah.

This is a simple idea, but it has merit. It gets members to personally read the Bible and then make comparisons, which means they have to think about what God is saying through Micah (not just listen). It's a step toward making your class interactive, too.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Corruption: A Path to Nowhere, Micah 3:1-12

Yesterday co-teacher Curt did an outstanding job introducing the book the Micah, which uses puns in the first chapter. He illustrated a pun using an oilman’s joke. Why do all the drug addicts in New Orleans want to work on offshore rigs? Answer: The rigs need pushers, there’s lots of dope, and the joints are all 40’ long. He went on to explain the important role of a tool pusher on a rig, the dope used to join pipe segments, and the typical length of pipe is 40’.

I can’t wait to see how co-teacher Randy tops that this week when we study the lesson titled, “Corruption: A Path to Nowhere,” based on Micah 3. For me, verse 3:11 holds the key to understanding the ancient Israelites. In view of their corrupt behavior, why did they believe the Lord would protect them (Jer 7:4)?

Jeff Meyer labels this phenomenon as a false sense of security. Perhaps you can illustrate this using this article on a false sense of security. After the depression investors have believed that regulation on the financial system prevented corrupt schemes, and so conned, they gave their money to corrupt managers like Bernard Madoff.

Were the people of Israel and Judah conned by their religious and political leaders?

Friday, May 08, 2009

Tattooing as an illustration of rebellion becoming mainstream

To help in teaching the lesson “Rebellion: A Path to Ruin,” I thought of using tattooing as an illustration of how rebellion permeates a society, or culture. Tattooing was once only for the “rebellious,” but now it has become mainstream.

Tattooing may have started small, affecting only a few people, but as a signature of a rebellious spirit, it has become widespread. Pictures of ruined bodies abound. Your reaction to a picture of such a happy person may help you relate to God’s response to rebellion.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Rebellion: A Path to Ruin, Micah 1:1-2:13

The first lesson from Micah 1-2, titled “Rebellion: A Path to Ruin” foretells a coming judgment of Judah (chp1) for a number of reasons: rebellion, exploitation, oppression, adherence to false teachings, etc. (chps and 3).

Micah anticipates Judah’s argument for a way out of the judgment (chp 6:6-7) . Lately there has been lots of news about buyouts of American companies in trouble. As individuals, how to we buy our way out of judgment (consequences of unwise or ungodly decisions)?

For example, we can prevent a ticket from showing up on our record if we will take a course in defensive driving. Fees are a means for buying our way out of just about everything you can think of: 20 fees to avoid.

In short, consider starting the lesson with a discussion of how people want to buy their way out of trouble. That is, if there is a way out. Praise be to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, believers do not get what they deserve.