Tags: Bible teachers, children's Bible lessons, children's Bible studies, children's church, emotions, follow your heart, Jeremiah 17, Proverbs 28, Sunday School teachers, trust your heart
Last time, I discussed the problem of teaching Bible stories to children as though they are fables. Now we will see another concern that surfaces in many children’s Bible lessons: the emphasis on feelings.
Bible lessons are not therapy sessions. They are not really supposed to be opportunities for children to explore their emotions or feelings. Often, a children’s Bible lesson will have an “application” section so that the teacher can ask the child, “How do you think Jonah felt when was about to be thrown overboard? How do you think Jesus feels when you disobey?” And so forth.
Our feelings are not trustworthy, and it is better that our children understand, at a very early age, that the Bible is a book of absolute truth, not a sounding board for our opinions or feelings.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
A child should not be encouraged to see himself as the hero in every Bible story. Quite the opposite: he should be encouraged to see himself as the SINNER in every Bible story. Our feelings (just like our wills and our intellects) are fallen. That are bent toward self-glorification, self-justification, and self-interpretation. The hard thing about teaching children is not building up their self-esteem. The hard thing is replacing it (not tearing it down) with esteem for God. Our job as parents, or as children’s Bible teachers, is to utterly convince them that He is absolutely supreme. This task will face its toughest obstacle not in convincing them that He is supreme over the weather, the government, their earthly heroes, us, or even death and the grave. It will be convincing them that He is absolutely supreme over THEM.
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.
“Just trust your heart,” says Walt Disney. “Follow your heart,” says Cinderella or the little mermaid. “Listen to your heart,” says Oprah. NO! Trusting and following your heart will make you a fool and may cut you off from God’s help. In grace, you will fail quickly, but in His judgment He may let you have your own way, and you do not want to have your own way over God’s way. Walk wisely and you will figure life out on your own? No. Walk wisely and you will learn from experience? No. Walk wisely and you will be what? DELIVERED, which means rescued by someone more loving, more powerful, more wise, more SUPREME than you.
Let’s teach children Bible truth, not feelings. Then their God-given feelings will focus on Him – where they belong.
Tags: Bible teachers, Biblical Parenting, children's church, children's ministry, Christian parenting, commentary on Matthew, Jonah, Jonah and the whale, Matthew 12, Sunday School lessons on Matthew
The are various ways to teach Bible stories (which are true, factual, historical events) to children, and various techniques that can be used. This is not going to be a lesson about how to use sock puppets, or how to talk in a funny voice to keep kids’ attention, or how to string out a story over several weeks with carefully designed “cliffhangers,” so they will want to come back each week to find out what happens next. There are people who are far better at those things than I am.
No, this is about the actual teaching of Scripture. Teaching means that you are focusing on what they are actually learning, not just making sure they are having fun or being entertained. Nor am I talking about showing off Bible knowledge, or giving out prizes for participation or accomplishment. I’m talking about actually finding out what God wants us to know about a particular Bible story: Why did God put this in there and command us to read and study it?
Therefore, the first thing to keep in mind when teaching Bible stories to children is: Don’t teach fables. Bible stories are not fables. They are not fairy tales, and their purpose is not always to teach a “moral lesson,” although we usually can glean moral lessons from them.
The problem with avoiding the fable-teaching method in children’s Bible studies is that you will be hard-pressed to find a children’s curriculum or lesson book that DOESN’T use this method. Take the story of Jonah for example.
“Jonah was told by God to go where? Nineveh. But he didn’t want to go there, did he? No. Where did he go instead? To Joppa and then to Tarshish. And when he boarded the ship for Tarshish, what happened? A big storm that resulted in him getting thrown overboard. What do we learn from this? That if you disobey God something bad will happen to you.”
That’s true – as far as it goes – but remember, there are people disobeying God all over the place like crazy, and they seem to be doing fine. Several of them hold the highest government offices in our land! The story of Jonah is not like the boy who cried wolf – he did something bad so he ended up facing the consequences.
Try this instead: “What happened to Jonah when he was thrown overboard? Did he drown? No, God sent a big fish to swallow him up. That’s terrifying, but it turned out to be better than drowning, because he lived in the fish’s belly for how long? Three days… hey, wait a minute… hmmm, that reminds me of someone else who was supposed to be dead, and went down somewhere for three days.”
Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
It turns out that the Holy Spirit, when describing what happened to Jonah, was not really primarily teaching a lesson about the consequences of disobeying God, or even about how God can comfort you when you are scared and alone, or even about how God controls His creation (weather and animals). No, what He was primarily teaching is that we all have disobeyed God, and we deserve to be thrown into the sea to die, and we have absolutely no ability to save ourselves, but God can save us, because He Himself went down into the grave (the “belly of the earth”) and rose again in His Own power. Furthermore, just like Jonah’s testimony of coming back from the dead was the sign that supported his preaching, for us, the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is our “proof” that everything that Jesus said about our sin and His salvation is true.
We don’t want our kids to think of a cartoon man and a cartoon whale, and definitely not a cucumber swimming around with a talking tomato.
We want them to think of a real man and a real fish that God used to get people ready to recognize Jesus – the Christ – Who would one day fulfill what Jonah and the whale typified: sin, death, burial, resurrection, and Gospel preaching!
Tags: 2 Timothy 2, Bible teachers, Biblical teaching, James 3, quotes about swimming, Rosaria Butterfield, swimming lessons, swimming quotes
Some people probably learn how to swim by falling off a boat and almost drowning. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they would make great swim coaches.
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
II Timothy 2:2
Tags: Bible lessons on teaching, Bible teachers, Christian teachers, devotions for teachers, how to teach, Sunday School teachers, teaching the Bible, tips for teachers
The time between the last post and this one has probably been one of the longest time periods I’ve gone without adding a new post to The Deep End since the Lord allowed me to start it. So, instead of working on something new, and with today being the first day of a new school year for the kids who have been entrusted into my care by the Lord, I thought I would organize one of my already-existing categories.
When you assume the hazardous position of calling yourself a “Bible teacher,” and when the Lord begins to bless you with opportunities to do it in church or at various church-related functions, you will find that there are a limitless number of Biblical subjects from which to teach. I have even found myself called upon at times to “teach the teachers,” or to at least delve into God’s Word to see what He has to say about the subject. Below are the posts in the category called “Biblical Teaching:”
1. S.E.R.V.E. the Lord in Children’s Ministry
2. Teaching the 3rd and 4th Commandments to Children (Exodus 20:7-8) *
3. Explaining the Meaning of Biblical “Authority” to Children
4. Tips for Teachers
5. The Early Bird Gets to Wait
6. Key Words for Bible Teachers: Truth and Type
7. Key Words for Bible Teachers: Treasure
8. Things New and Old (Matthew 13:51-52)
9. How Tall Was Jesus?
10. Three Things to Bring to Sunday School (Matthew 10:27)
11. Christian Teachers Warned and Watched
12. Where Is Jesus in the Bible? (lesson 1)
13. Where Is Jesus in the Bible? (lesson 2)
14. Teaching / Temptation (John 14:26-27; Job 36:21-25)
15. How Rosaria Butterfield Learned to S.W.I.M.
16. The Most Important Children’s Ministry Tool (II Timothy 3:15)
17. Don’t Teach Fables (Matthew 12:38-41)
18. Don’t Teach Feelings (Proverbs 28:26)
* most-viewed post in category
Tags: Bible codes, Bible study, Bible teachers, Christology, codes, Jesus Christ, John 5, Luke 24, Sunday School
If I were to ask you to tell me a good place in the Bible to find out about Jesus, what would you say? The first four books of the New Testament are probably what come to mind. “The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John” would probably be a common answer. But let’s see what Jesus Himself had to say:
And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
This happened right after Jesus’s Resurrection.
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
One of the first things Jesus wanted to do after His Resurrection was have a Bible study. He showed these two disciples on the road to Emmaus all the places in the Bible where He could be found, going all the way from Genesis through the end of the Old Testament.
Then Jesus went to show His closest disciples that He had come back from the grave.
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
This is very important because the Bible is very important. As a Christian you are responsible for not just reading the Bible, but for understanding the Bible.
The Pharisees were the religious leaders of Jesus’s day, and they did not like Jesus – in part because He told the truth, and the Truth was that He was the Son of God, and that, because He was the Son of God, they would have to submit to Him. So they were always trying to get Him to do something to prove He really was from God, thinking that, when He failed, they could disprove Him. Here’s what Jesus said to them:
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
It was as if He said to them, “You are supposed to be the Bible teachers! And you don’t even know what (Who) the Bible is about?!”
I said earlier that you are responsible for understanding the Bible, and that should concern you, because it’s not always easy to understand. In some places it’s almost like a code. Here’s a simple code to illustrate the point:
I w2nt 2ll the 2l2rms in 2tl2nt2.
You can probably figure it out, but if you were stumped, you would need the “key” to understand the code, so I would give you the key: 2=A. And that makes it simple!
So where is Jesus in the Bible? Remember, at the time that Jesus said these things that we have read in Luke and John, there was no Luke and John, or anything else in the Bible after Malachi. But to the question, “Where is Jesus in the Bible?” the answer is, “Everywhere!”
We will look at some specific examples in lesson 2.
Tags: 2 Corinthians 3, 2 Timothy 2, accountability for teachers, Bible teachers, devotions for teachers, James 3, Joshua 4, Mark 9, Matthew 12, Titus 2
The job of a Bible teacher is an honorable job. Almost every Christian is called upon to teach someone something.
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
II Timothy 2:2
Teachers are warned.
My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
The word translated as “masters” in James 3:1 is the Greek word didaskalos, meaning teachers. Why will teachers receive the greater condemnation, or, in other words, why are they exposed to a stricter judgment by God? Because teachers use words to teach, and words are dangerous things. You can read the rest of James Chapter 3 and see that the tongue is our most powerful member. It’s like a bit that controls a horse, or a rudder that steers a ship. Just as snakes have poison in their mouths, people have a much deadlier poison: the potential for hurtful and destructive words. You can’t call back an arrow once it’s been shot, and you can’t call back a hurtful word that’s headed for a child’s ears, mind, and heart, once it’s left your mouth.
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
If every “idle” word will be scrutinized, how much more will the hurtful, angry, destructive words? Especially when it comes to children.
And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
Teachers are warned, and teachers are watched.
Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
II Corinthians 3:2-3
Children will not always read the assignments, but they will always read the teacher. The old maxim that “more is caught than taught” may be truer than some Bible teachers would like to think. Students are are looking for clues as to how sincere the teacher is as a representative of Christ.
And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying, Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests’ feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night. Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?
That’s what students really want to know. Not just what the things you are teaching mean. But what they mean to you. They need to know what you know in order to grasp the material, but what they really want to know is: Are you sincere? They can sense frustration, they can sense doubt, but, even more so, they can sense hypocrisy. Make sure that your relationship with the Lord is right. Make sure the “Rock” of Ages means everything to you.
Tags: Bible teachers, commentary on Ezra, Ezra, Ezra 7, Ezra 8, secrets of success, Sunday School lessons on Ezra, the Great Commission, the hand of God
It is interesting to note what Ezra himself saw as the reason for his success.
This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.
For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him.
And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.
And by the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of understanding, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brethren, eighteen;
For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.
Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way.
Ezra recognized that “the good hand of the Lord was upon [him].”
Artaxerxes was called Artaxerxes “the Long-Handed,” and we are reminded of the far-reaching consequences of breaking the laws under our own system of criminal justice when we use the phrase, “the long arm of the law.” Artaxerxes’s influence was certainly widespread, but he was really being used as God’s “long hand.” God’s hand moved Artaxerxes’s hand to sign the decree which granted the authority that Ezra needed.
Ezra Chapter 7 takes place 60 years after the dedication of the temple in Chapter 6. The Jewish remnant was having a difficult time when God raised up Ezra to lead the second group of refugees from Babylon to Judah. Ezra came from a Godly line of priests, and he knew who they were, and he sought to honor their memory. It’s one thing to be left a great material inheritance by your ancestors, but it’s even better to be left a spiritual inheritance. What a waste it would be if your grandparents and their parents deposited spiritual wealth into your account, and you are now squandering it.
Ezra was a student of the Scriptures.
For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
He read the Word, he obeyed the Word, and he taught the word. All Christians should be teachers. You may not have an official “classroom of students,” but if you think you don’t have anybody to teach, let me introduce you to your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your co-workers, etc. Find some children whose parents don’t come to church, or some single parent who could use some help, and share what God has shown you in His Word.
Tags: adult Sunday School, Bible teachers, Matthew 10, offering, Sunday School, Sunday School teachers, used by God
What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
There are some challenges that come with being a Sunday School teacher, and, honestly, I’m not very good at it. However, I admit that I do like the perks that come with the responsibilities. For one, there is a built-in motivation to not only read a portion of Scripture each week, but to actually study it in depth and try to be prepared to teach and answer questions about it. As a teacher, I am sometimes thought of as a person that other people can talk with about the Bible – and I love talking about the Bible.
My favorite thing about being a Sunday School teacher, though, is probably the idea that I get to be “useful.” All Christians should want to be useful, and by “being useful” I mean being used by the Lord in His work. What Christian would not want to be used by God in helping other Christians to grow in the Lord?
One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that we don’t get to be useful on accident. We must be prepared to be useful.
Matthew 10:27 speaks of the Christian’s duty to tell people openly (in daylight) what the Lord has told him in private (in the night). It also tells us to tell people openly what the Lord tells us in our ear (in secret). Attending church is a super-important part of living the Christian life. But it is not enough. The Lord wants to speak to us corporately, but He also wants to speak to you one-on-one – and at places in between. Where will you get a Word from God when your child gets into trouble? Or when one of your co-workers or relatives comes to you with questions about his or her troubled marriage? When you attend a church service or a Sunday School class, and the Word of God is preached or taught, that is one of the ways that the Lord speaks to you. He speaks to you personally, but He also teaches you things that you will be able to use to help others.
As a Sunday School teacher, I like to stress three things that every student needs to bring to class:
1. Bring your Bible.
A sword can be somewhat of a handy weapon, I suppose, even if you are not especially skilled at using it, but you would never go to sword practice without your sword. Your teacher or your preacher (hopefully) can tell you what’s in the Bible, but if you’re going to tell others what’s in it, you must get used to having one in your hand.
2. Bring a friend.
Sunday School is supposed to be a time of fellowship, family, and unity. Inviting a friend to Sunday School is the very least you can do for the Lord. That person you’ve invited a thousand times but still hasn’t come may just say yes on the 1001st time – you never know!
3. Bring your offering.
I’m not talking about a money-offering – that’s usually done in the church service. I’m talking about some kind of non-monetary offering. It may just be an an offering of yourself – a willingness to serve. It might be a willingness to bring donuts or orange juice to class. It might be arriving early to set up the chairs. It might be something that God has shown you from His Word during the week that will be a blessing to someone else who is hurting. Whatever it is, if God has called you to be in a Sunday School class, He’s called you to do more than just attend. Sitting in class and soaking up knowledge is a good thing, but sitting and soaking can lead to souring. Don’t come to Sunday School empty-headed, empty-handed, or empty-hearted. Sunday School may be the place where God will show you exactly the area in which he wants you to commit more of your time to ministry.
Tags: 1 Timothy 6, 2 Corinthians 4, accountability for teachers, Bible teachers, Matthew 13, scribes, Sunday School teachers, Sunday School teaching seminar, tips for teachers, treasure
As we learned previously, Bible teachers have a responsibility to teach the Truth and to make a “type.”
Treasure: Bible teachers must realize that the Gospel is a valuable treasure which we hold in “trust.”
O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
I Timothy 6:20 (emphasis added)
The Word of God is a treasure because of its value. In fact, it’s so valuable that I am not completely sure why God has entrusted it to us. From what I can tell, it somehow serves His glory to see that if He placed it in a weak vessel, the power of the Gospel itself would be seen to come completely from Him, and not the vessel itself.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
II Corinthians 4:7
God could have sent angels to deliver His Word. He could have written it in the sky. But He has given it to us in trust. Something given in trust must be protected, but it also must be put to work so that it “grows,” bears an “increase,” or bears “fruit.” So, as we teach, we must guard the Word of God. We must keep it from being stolen or contaminated. We do this by teaching it to our students as though it were a thing of great value. When you teach, be serious about the Word of God. Show your students how to treat their Bibles, how to read Bible verses, how to memorize Bible verses.
We treat the Word of God as a valuable thing held in trust by guarding it, but also by putting it to work. We will give an account for what we have done with our Master’s treasure. He will not be happy if we just dig it up, dust it off, and say, “Here, I’ve protected it. I didn’t lose it and I didn’t let anyone steal it.” He will say, “But did you invest it? Did you sew it? Did you plant it in hearts? Did you spread it around like seed? Has it earned interest? I trusted you to know that I was the kind of Owner Who let you use My treasure in such a way that it would multiply in spiritual fruit.”
Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.
When the Disciples answered affirmatively to Jesus’s question that they understood all those principles that Jesus taught them about the Kingdom of Heaven, do you think they really did?
Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
A scribe is similar to a teacher. Bible teachers must teach the basic things and new things (things that we find on our own in the Bible – things that are dear to us and are shown to us by God). These “new things” are not “fresh” Words in the sense of being private revelation. They are “fresh” in the sense of being “living” Words, and they are just as applicable today as they were when they were written, but they are new to your students – and maybe even to you.
Bible teachers are to teach Truth. We are to deliver a type of teaching. And we are responsible for a treasure.