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 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 lessons on Psalms, commentary on Psalms, lessons on Psalms, Psalms, Sunday School lessons, Sunday School lessons on Psalms, Sunday School teachers
When I first became the teacher of an adult Sunday School class, we used the “quarter” system, whereby we studied through a different book of the Bible (or a grouping of shorter books) every three months. It requires a certain discipline to make it through some of the longer books in this amount of time, and, obviously, we couldn’t always go into as much detail as I would have liked, but I believe I always managed to make at least a few remarks about every chapter. Then we came to the book of Psalms. There are 150 Psalms, and I felt there was simply no way to teach through the whole thing in 45 minutes on 12 or 13 Sunday mornings. So we chose some “selected Psalms” and did the best we could. Perhaps one day I’ll get around to teaching through the ones that we left out. The Psalms are the Bible’s “worship” book, and they contain a universe of valuable truths, inspiration, and revelation about the character and attributes of our amazing and almighty God. Here are links to the lessons in the category called Selected Psalms:
1. Parallelism in Psalms (*)
2. Wise Watering (Psalm 1:1-4)
3. God’s Plan for Hurricane Preparedness
4. Give Good Advice: Avoid Sin
5. Give Good Advice: Delay Taking Rash Action
6. Give Good Advice: Vow to be Sincere with God
7. Give Good Advice: Inquire of Your Own Heart
8. Give Good Advice: Content Yourself with God and His Plans
9. Give Good Advice: Esteem the Lord as King
10. Light Is Attractive
11. Beware Foolish Functions
12. Danger + Weakness = Joyful Praise
13. Noisy Neighbors
14. Sweet Theology
15. God’s Revelation of Himself
16. Presumed Guilty
17. Preaching and Praying in Prosperity and Predicaments
18. Faster than a Speeding Shadow
19. Sheep Need a Shepherd
20. Are You Feeling Sheepish?
21. The Shepherd Knows Where We Are Going
22. How to Get High in Christian Ministry
23. There Are Some Absolutes
24. The Early Bird Gets to Wait
25. Light Gives Safety
26. A Child’s View of God’s Supremacy (Psalms 27:4, 73:25, 119:71)
27. Friends or Foes?
28. The Louisiana Flood of 2016 (Psalm 32:5-6)
29. Our Great Needs (Psalm 35:10)
30. Rest / Repentance
31. Water, Water, Everywhere…
32. Light Shows the Truth
33. Two Thrones (Psalm 47:8)
34. Clean and New
35. You the Man!
36. Catechism Question 6
37. The Lord’s Laundry
38. God Versus a Mud Puddle
39. Prayer, Protection, Praise, and Posture
40. From Garbage to Glory
41. Do the Righteous Really Suffer?
42. The Importance of Going to Church
43. Evil Angels
44. Heman and the Master of the Universe (Psalm 88)
a. Open Prayer
b. Obstinate Prayer
c. Obnoxious Prayer
d. Obstetric Prayer
45. The Beauty of Holiness (Psalm 96:9)
46. Certain Uncertainties
47. The Certainty of Christ’s Deity
48. The Crawl (Psalm 104:19-20)
49. The Other Ten Commandments
50. Leading instead of Watching
51. Creeping with the Enemy (Psalm 106)
52. Not Afraid of the Dark
53. Waiting and Training
54. The Great Rescuer
55. Two Sides to Every Blessing
56. Light Shows the Way
57. Graded by God: Turning Your “F”s into “A”s (Part Three)
58. A Word about the Word
59. The Word for Sinners
60. The Bible on Trial
61. God Knows Something about Everything
62. Quick Quiz Quietens Questioning Qualms
63. When We Are Tempted to Slam on the Brakes at the Fuller Revelation of God’s Mercy
64. Mercy / Memory (Psalm 136:13)
65. A Closer Walk with Thee
66. Healing for Truly Broken Hearts
67. Even the Children (Psalm 148)
* most-read post in category
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: Hebrews 4, Isaiah 53, Jesus, John 8, Luke 2, Matthew 26, Matthew 27, Revelation 1, Sunday School teachers
When I first became the teacher of an adult Sunday School class my biggest worry was that somebody in class would ask a question for which I didn’t have an answer. So I would tend to “over-study” in preparation for class. Even if we were going to be covering something really simple (Does Jesus say you should love your neighbor?) I would be prepared to do a complete exegesis on the Olivet Discourse and to defend my position on infralapsarianism versus supralapsarianism – just in case. Well, after a few weeks, I stopped worrying about that. I came to realize that I had more pressing concerns than somebody asking a difficult question and putting me on the spot. My bigger concerns had to do with just trying to keep everybody awake for 35 minutes – or trying to make sure the people who preferred the chairs to be arranged in a circle didn’t physically attack the people who preferred to sit classroom-style. Instead of being afraid that someone would ask a difficult question, I actually began to hope that anyone would ask anything – which would at least indicate that someone was listening or had read the lesson. Finally, it happened.
A particular fellow stayed after class one Sunday morning and came up to me as I was shuffling my notes back into my folder. Oh boy, I thought, maybe he wants to know about modalism or the Sabellian controversy! But instead he said in a gruff voice, “Hey you’re one of them Christians – one of them ‘church people.’ How tall do you think Jesus was?”
Of course, I had no idea. And although I don’t think Jesus’s height bears a tremendous significance on the essentials of the Christian faith, I did promise to study the matter and get back to him.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)
From the time Jesus was 12 years old He “increased in stature.” Presumably, this means that He “grew up” physically. So, however tall He was at 12, we can assume He got taller as He got older. The last part of that Verse, which says “with God and man” appears to apply to the part about Him growing “in favor,” but I suppose it might also apply to “increased in stature.” If Jesus grew “in stature with other men,” that would not tell us definitively how tall He was, but it would lead us to suppose that He reached an “average” height – similar to other men.
And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
Matthew 27:35 (emphasis added)
The Roman soldiers cast lots (gambled) for Jesus’s clothing after He was stripped and crucified. They did this partly to fulfill Old Testament prophecy, but it is unlikely that the soldiers in their own minds even knew this prophecy, much less that they knew the Divine hand of God was causing them to fulfill it. It is also unlikely that they cast lots hoping to win a valuable souvenir or a Roman Catholic “relic.” More likely, they were hoping to obtain some free clothing. (Clothing was relatively expensive back in those days.) From this, we might infer that Jesus was physically around the same size as the average Roman soldier.
In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.
When Jesus was arrested, He pointed out to His persecutors that He had been among them openly, and the fact that He referred to His teaching as the means by which they might have recognized Him and arrested Him sooner, rather than by His physical appearance, may mean that there was nothing especially noteworthy about the way He looked.
Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
It is possible that when Jesus escaped being stoned in the Temple He supernaturally camouflaged Himself, but it is also possible that, during the confusion, He simply blended in with the crowd and got away, which, if He was of average height and appearance, would not have been terribly difficult to do.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
If Jesus, during His earthly life, was tempted in all the ways in which we are tempted, might not that have included the temptation that comes with being made fun of for how we look? This does not really tell us anything about His height, but it does tend to support the idea that Jesus was not especially physically attractive. We know from the Gospel records that He was not a wimp, but He was gentle. Great stature (height or size) is usually associated in the Bible – especially in the Old Testament – with sin or great wickedness. (See Genesis 6:4-5; Numbers 13:30-32; I Samuel 17:4.)
These are only clues at best, but it seems that there was nothing glaring or especially attractive about Jesus’s physical appearance.
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isaiah 53:2-3 (emphasis added)
Regardless of whether Jesus was tall or short according to the standards of His day, we know that God looks at men’s hearts more than their outward appearance. Jesus was a giant when it came to righteousness and love. He did not intimidate people with His physical size. He was “tall enough” to bear our sorrows, griefs, and sins and to nail them to His Cross.
While we don’t have a detailed description of the physical appearance of Jesus during His days on earth, we do have something of a description of how He will look when He returns to set things right once and for all:
His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
By the way, that explanation did not satisfy my friend who stayed after class to ask me about it, and I suppose he went down the road to another church where the preacher got “a rhema word from God” and told him without a doubt that Jesus was five foot eleven and a half. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.
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.