Thursday, December 31, 2009

Given authority

As I gained experience in the corporate world, I also gained responsibilities. For example, on occasions when my boss had to make business trips out of the country, I was given his executive authority via a document signed by each of us. Normally, this involved handling pretty routine matters—signing travel requests, approving personnel actions, or equipment purchases. Occasionally, however, I had to attend meetings for him that required me to make a commitment of resources from our department. Typically, a project manager would receive direction in a strategic business meeting. It was an awesome responsibility to alter a project involving many people and millions of dollars using the authority that had been given to me.

Based on this experience, I can imagine other situations where authority is given and exercised. For example, a new police officer is sworn in and given authority to arrest a fellow citizen. Imagine how he or she feels making that first arrest!

Jesus gave the disciples authority to drive out demons. Imagine the responsibility they felt as they exercised his authority!

Ask class members to relate an example of when they were given authority (no matter how small).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Expressing courage

I saw this news story on Fox News today. What caught my attention was the question, “Where is she getting her strength?” (see Automatically Generated Transcript and watch the video interview).

The question was asked in reference to the Cindy Wise, wife of a murdered Salvation Army Major Philip Wise. She is carrying on his work and evidently is a very courageous person.

I think she is an excellent illustration of expressing courage in a crisis situation, which is highlighted in the lesson, “How to be Courageous”, based on Mark 6:6b-56.

You can use this story to add interest to your lesson.

Monday, December 28, 2009

How to be courageous, Mark 6:6-56

The discussion questions for the lesson, “How to be courageous” (Mark 6:6-56) posted by FBC, Chester, IL suggest asking members to individually stand up and declare in a loud voice, “I am a follower of Jesus Christ!” Follow that with who would be willing to do it at work, or in a mall, or surrounded by a group of Muslims.

This made me think of what’s courageous v what’s stupid. See this example (click the chart to see a larger image). As I prepare my slides this week, I’ll have to think about how something like this might be useful.

Friday, December 25, 2009

PPT slides for "Is God Still Working in the World?" Mark 4-6

Merry Christmas! Co-teacher Randy Stewart posted his PowerPoint slides for the lesson, "Is God Still Working in the World?". Thanks Randy for the great present!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Unusual building

Dr. Sam Tullock begins his commentary with serious, heartfelt questions regarding the subject raised by the title of the lesson, “Is God Still Working in the World?” His questions may not trouble you, but I’m sure there are members in your class who have wondered about the same issues. Dr. Tullock doesn’t attempt to answer the questions he raises. Have you heard a good response to why prayer goes unanswered and the existence of evil?

On a lighter note, FBC, Chester, IL posted its question-based lesson plan. I like the opening question regarding a preference for working alone, or with the help of others.

As to how to teach this lesson, I still think the best approach is to first discuss the meaning of the phrase, “the Kingdom of God,” and then work thru the meaning of each of the parables in Mark 4 to help clarify the definition. Illustrate the Kingdom as an unusual building (at Futuroscope) with different sides (looks different based on one’s perspective).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

They just don't get it!

In Mark 4, Jesus began to speak to them in parables. Why? He wanted to challenge the people and the religious leaders to start thinking about what he was saying and not just seeing him as a prophet, or teacher who could perform miracles.

To teach Step 2 of the lesson “Is God Still Working in the World?” you might first present the idea of the statement: “They just don’t get it!” Find and discuss a news article using Google search that mentions “they don’t get it” such as the quote from the article: “Baltimore TV stations cover the storm”:

“Some people simply won't heed words of caution, and they just don't get it unless they see pictures of what will happen to them if they jump in their cars and drive like fools. I am glad WJZ and the others did show lots of cars skidding out of control at such locations as 41st Street or Northern Parkway and Falls Road. I wonder how many accidents those images helped residents avoid.”

Using the "don't get it" idea help members think about why someone “doesn’t get it” by comparing 1 Corinthians 2:14 with 1 Corinthians 2:12-13.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Is God Still Working in the World?, Mark 4:14-32

Jeff Meyer steps thru the parables in Mark 4:14-32, which is a good teaching plan for the lesson, “Is God Still Working in the World?”.

Perhaps a way to introduce this lesson is to show a couple of slides about agricultural output and productively in the United States, or present an outline of different types of soils. The purpose is to get members thinking about different soils, growth in output, and the elements needed for successful production. This will prepare your class members to think about their role in growing the Kingdom of God, which Jesus spoke about using parables involving seeds and soils.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New born, now 8 years old

I changed the "verification" step slide to include a picture of a small new born who is now 8 years old. So small you'd have to go see for yourself!

New slides for "Why Did Jesus Come?".

Monday, December 14, 2009

PPT Slides for "Why Did Jesus Come?", Luke 2:1-35

I’m traveling this week and so I decided to prepare Sunday’s lesson today primarily using the Lifeway material. I posted my PowerPoint slides for the lesson titled, “Why Did Jesus Come?,” which is based on Luke 2:8-15 and Luke 2:25-35.

I introduced Step 1, “Seek Verification” with the idea “I had to go see for myself.”

I introduced Step 2, “Hear Testimony” with the question, “Who influenced you the most this year?”

I introduced Step 3, Make Your Choice” with “What famous people have said about Jesus.”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Empty shoe box

Step 4 of the lesson, “What Does Jesus’ Call Mean for Me?” challenges Christians to be willing to meet the needs of others. As a teaching aid for this step consider taking the lid off an empty shoebox and asking class members to look inside and identify needs they can meet.

Obviously, nothing is inside the box, and they won’t see anything to do. Here, you can make at least a couple of points.

1. In the emptiness of the box, real needs cannot be observed. In Mark 2:23-24 the Jews were stuck inside empty religious practices (eg. their observance of the Sabbath) and could not see practical needs. Ask members if any of our current religious practices prevent us from seeing needs that should be met?

2. If we insist on staying inside an empty box we will never take any action. Outside the box, Jesus correctly understood the Sabbath and easily saw the hunger of His disciples.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

And you call yourself a Christian?

Step 3 of the lesson, “What Does Jesus’ Call Mean for Me?, is based on Mark 2:18-22, which includes peoples’ reactions to Jesus. Their questions to him revealed expectations of Him.

Yesterday in Little Rock, I watched a news report of a public board meeting where an audience member questioned the actions of the board. To underscore his disapproval of the board he asserted, “And some of you call yourselves Christian!”

To continue the idea of ‘expectations’, consider asking class members the meaning of the question, “And you call yourself a Christian?” Ask members to identify potential misconceptions inherent in the mind of the questioner.

Ask members to listen to this statement as you read it, and comment on the writer’s expectations. Then read Mark 2:18 and ask members to identify the expectations people had of Jesus.

He did not respond as they expected, however. He was determined to serve, not just act according to tradition.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Facebook analogy

Step 2 of the lesson, “What Does Jesus’ Call Mean for Me?” urges Christians to provide opportunities for others to hear and respond to Jesus’ call. To accomplish this Christians must be willing to reach out to those around us including people different from us.

Perhaps a way to approach teaching this step is to use the concept of social networking. Ask the class who has a Facebook page? Ask them to say how many friends they have. Ask if anyone has ever invited someone else to be a friend on Facebook? Ask them to say how Facebook makes it easy to invite someone else to be a friend. Ask if anyone has ever suggested a potential friend to someone else. Ask if anyone has rejected a friend request from someone else? Ask why?

Just as Facebook makes the opportunity to become friends easy, Christians need to make opportunities to meet and become friends with Jesus easy.

Monday, December 07, 2009

What Does Jesus’ Call Mean for Me?, Mark 2:1-3:6

Based on Mark 2:1-3:6, the lesson, “What Does Jesus’ Call Mean for Me?” teaches key principles from which we can extract three expectations Jesus’ has for His followers. In his lesson commentary, Mark Rathel summarizes these as follows:

1. Jesus calls me to reach out to sinners

2. Jesus calls me to live with a new attitude

3. Jesus calls me to meet the needs of others

To introduce the lesson, ask members to read the following list of complaints a manager has with an employee.

a. acts according to established norms versus doing what is needed

b. operates successfully only in predictable routine situations

c. tackles only trivial problems

d. inwardly focused and fails to exhibit any outward concern

e. task oriented, lack of understanding of the larger issues

Follow this by asking, “What would you do about this employee if you were the manager?” Then ask, “What would you do if you were the employee?” This should help class members to start thinking personally about the concept of expectations and what it may mean to them personally.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

PPT Slides for "How Can Jesus Help Me?", Mark 1

Sorry for the late posting of my PPT slides for the lesson, “How Can Jesus Help Me?”. My hope is they can be useful to some of you.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Can do person

The Lifeway alternate teaching recommendation for Step 4 of the lesson, “How Can Jesus Help Me?”, suggests using objects such as a key or a bolt cutter to illustrate the idea of freeing someone.

I like their suggestion, but the material also presents Jesus as a “can do” person. To help members relate personally to the lesson, consider selecting 5 of the items on this “Can Do Survey” and asking members to answer the questions.

Note: Because of travel, I will not be able to post my PPT slides for the lesson until Saturday.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Jesus made me into ...

An interesting point is raised in Mark 1: 16-20, the verses for Step 3 of the lesson, “How Can Jesus Help Me?” . In v17, Jesus said, “I will make you fishers of men.” He used the occupation of the disciples to help them understand His plan and a new purpose He had in mind.

How is that true in the lives of people in your class today? How did Jesus make your class members into new people? Did He make a banker of money into a banker of people? A developer of software into a developer of people?

Here is a list of occupations. Select a handful and put these on a list to present to the class, and ask them how Jesus would remake that person to serve His purpose. Put “fishermen” first on the list as an example and note how Jesus remade Peter, Andrew, James and John into fishers of men.

This should lead to discussion of how Jesus has “made” the members of your class (that are Christians) to serve His purposes (perhaps even using their occupational skills).

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

How people respond to Jesus

At the time Jesus would have preached in Mark 1:14-15, the term “good news” could not have had the same meaning it assumed after His sacrificial death, burial, resurrection and ascension. If that’s so, what did Jesus mean by “the good news”? How would Jews, mindful of earthly kingdoms at that time, have understood what He meant given that early point in His ministry?

FBC, Chester, IL posted a series of questions to use as a lesson plan for teaching “How Can Jesus Help Me?” I’m still noodling about what to teach in Step 2.