Posted in 2022 Lent Devotions

Teaching Tuesday

“Mirror of the Passion” Lent devotion for April 12, 2022. Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Jesus was teaching daily in the temple. (Luke 19:47)

Tuesday of holy week is often called teaching Tuesday or tricky-question Tuesday. The religious leaders tried to trip up Jesus with questions about taxes and marriage after the resurrection. This is the day Jesus taught about the end times, told important parables about his coming, and came down hard on the Pharisees who were in it for their own glory, not God’s. Jesus knows the timeline. He’s not pulling any punches in these last few days of his life.

Jesus was clearly into teaching. Some addressed him as “Teacher.” So that would mean we are the students. He could call us “Class” right?

That’s the way it should be. However, I’ve certainly heard a lot of tricky questions over the years. They usually go something like this:

  • So if some guy lives on a deserted island all by himself for his whole life and never gets to hear about Jesus and believe in him, does that mean that he’s going to hell?
  • If Genghis Khan, Jack the Ripper, Sam Berkowitz, Jeffrey Dahmer, or Adolf Hitler repented at the last minute before their death and believed in Jesus, would they go to heaven?
  • If your family is starving and you can’t get a job and you steal some food, is that a sin?
  • What happens if someone kills themself? They have murdered, but they can’t repent. Are they automatically condemned?

Books have been written about such questions for generations. Trust me, they are way above my pay grade. And yours. It’s not our job to distinguish the sheep from the goats. You and I don’t get to decide who gets kicked out of the banquet. Jesus said, “Don’t go and pull up all the weeds. You’ll destroy the wheat.”

A better question is, “Is he still the Teacher?” If your answer is, “Yes,” then the next question is, “Are you still learning?” If you’ve got questions, you obviously don’t know everything. Are you taking some time each day, with his word open in front of you, letting the Spirit teach you and remind you of his promises? When’t the last time you attended a bible class at your church? When’s the last time you taught a class? (Remember, the teacher always learns more than the students.) What questions (yes, even the ones I’ve mentioned) have you brought to him in prayer?

One sign of spiritual maturity is admitting there’s a lot you don’t know and you’ve got so much to learn.

If it’s been a while, start slow. Start on Tuesdays. Teaching Tuesday. The Teacher is in.

Lord, I have a question. Or two.

Posted in 2022 Lent Devotions

Jesus’ classroom

“Mirror of the Passion” Lent devotion for March 16, 2022. Photo by Dom Fou on Unsplash

“When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me.” (Luke 22:53)

I like to imagine what it would have been like to be there in the temple day after day listening to Jesus teach. I’ve read his words on the printed page and heard them read aloud many times. But just imagine being there, hearing his voice as he tells a parable, answers questions, and teaches about the end times.

A lot of Jesus’ temple teaching towards the end of his life was prompted by questions. “Who gave you the authority to teach?” “Do we have to pay taxes?” “What do you think of divorce?” “What are the signs of the temple’s destruction?”

Jesus’ answers to those questions stepped on a lot of toes. His stories pointed out the unbelief and hypocrisy of the audience. It got real quiet real quick. They stopped asking questions.

What questions would you like to ask Jesus? A lot of folks tell me they have a whole list ready to go for that day when they get to see him face to face. You know, there might be a line. But we’ll have time. Lots of it. Eternity.

Those who got a glimpse of heaven in the bible didn’t ask a lot of questions. Jacob was awed and afraid (Genesis 28:16,17). Isaiah was overwhelmed (Isaiah 6). At the transfiguration, Peter babbled about putting up tents (Luke 9:33). Stephen wanted forgiveness for his murderers (Acts 7:60). John passed out at the sight of Jesus (Revelation 1:17). When that day comes, I think I’ll have other things on my mind besides, “Why did you create mosquitos?” or “Why weren’t you there when I needed you?”

The apostle Paul wrote, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12). Right now we have a lot of questions. But it sounds like one day, we’ll understand.

Over the years, I’ve had teachers who were interesting. I’ve had professors who were brilliant. Some were inspiring. Rarely was an instructor all three. I went out of my way to enroll in their classes.

Jesus taught in the temple every. People came back day after day. They hung on his words. Those who sent to arrest Jesus came back empty-handed, because, “No one ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46). They forgot what they were supposed to do!

What do you think? Would you come to the temple day after day to hear Jesus teach? (You can sit next to me.)

I can’t wait to be in your class, Lord. Amen.

Posted in Lent devotions

Every day at the temple

“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotion for Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Photo by SPOTSOFLIGHT on Pixabay.com.

And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” (Mark 14:48-49)

Since the temple wasn’t a formal place of teaching like the synagogue, I think we would call what Jesus was doing at the temple “street preaching.” People gathered around Jesus to hear him teach about the widow giving more than all the others, his sheep who know his voice, the greatest commandment and the resurrection. He also instructed them to watch out for the teachings of the scribes, who were in it for themselves.

Why didn’t the chief priests and scribes and elders just grab Jesus at the temple? Sometimes it was the crowds. Jesus was just too popular. Sometimes it was Jesus’ teaching. Some who were supposed to arrest him were instead fascinated by his words. It might have been fear. Jesus had quite a temper when he cleared all the animals and moneychangers from the temple.

Continue reading “Every day at the temple”
Posted in children, Ministry, teaching

Can I have your attention?

loren-joseph-286131-unsplash
Photo by Loren Joseph on Unsplash

Post-Easter Sunday excitement, wiggles and sugar-hangovers made the Good News Club a little more challenging last week. After a few songs and teaching about the resurrection via the account of the two disciples who met the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus, it was craft and review time. The room divided up by grade to work on a few peel-and-stick crafts and see who could remember a few things from the story that day. Conversation and laughter filled the room, but everything remained under control — except for a few boys in the second grade group. The adult working with that group could have used a few dogs from the herding group to help corral those nine children. I was done teaching for the day so I tapped the four boys on the shoulder and said, “You guys come with me.”

Continue reading “Can I have your attention?”

Posted in Confirmation Class

What I’ve learned from teaching confirmation class this year

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 9.58.41 PMWe are down to just a few more weeks of confirmation instruction. One more lesson to go on the third article or the creed (resurrection and everlasting life), and then a review week for three students to be confirmed in April.

This will be the thirty-first time I’ve taught the catechism to seventh- and eighth- graders (with a few high schoolers tossed in from time to time). In some ways it gets easier the more you do it. In other ways it gets harder. But after all those years, I am still learning myself, and I thought I’d share some of those lessons.

  • With ten students all together, all of whom are busy with lots of other activities, I broadcast my classes on Facebook live. I learned how to use this convenient platform that saves the feed to watch later. Plus, I usually had about 75 assorted people tune in to watch a few minutes of the class, from all around the world.
  • I learned a lot, again, about how much young people grow and develop from the beginning of seventh grade and the end of eighth grade. This is the time when they discover who they are. They learn new skills, work together with new teams, ride waves of failure and success, and make me laugh in endless ways.
  • I learned that there are some I just cannot teach. I had to cry, “Uncle” when confronted by some of the behavioral challenges dumped into my class. I felt completely helpless when teaching students who were completely uncooperative and disruptive yet were intriguing in their comments. There are no seminary classes in special ed.
  • Kids have an appetite that just does not end. I brought pizza, Girl Scout cookies, fried chicken, and chips and salsa. I never brought enough. They will consume everything in their path. Like locusts.
  • I am getting old. The gap is widening. These kids are programming robots, living in virtual reality worlds, and communicating in so many different ways. I’m not. I’m just barely treading water in their world. RPGs? I’m not there. I don’t follow any You-tubers. I’m a dinosaur.

Teaching young people keeps me young – as young as I can be for now. I’m thankful for that little bit of eternal life!

Posted in church, lessons, teaching

Paper airplane and cootie catchers.

Picture1So here’s what I learned in bible class yesterday. I am teaching a class on Dr. Howard Hendrick’s book Teaching to Change Lives, previously titled The Seven Laws of Teaching. It is part of our ongoing effort to quip our bible class leaders to become better teachers.

Yesterday’s class on “the Law of Education” encouraged teachers to involve students in learning, teaching them how think and learn rather than just simply sitting there hopefully absorbing material. I used a suggested exercise and gave each person a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Each was to draw a picture on the paper, make something with the paper, or do something with the paper to symbolize the statement “How does a person learn?” I knew it would be a challenging exercise, but I was surprised at how effective a lesson it was.

There were as many creative ideas as there were people in the room, everything from a paper airplane to a “cootie catcher” to stick people learning in some way. The exercise actually primed their creativity for further exercises in the class, and will probably be the thing they most remember about that hour.

So what did I learn? Give my classes more things like that to do! I’ve done it from time to time, but it may be worth adding to every class. One activity per lesson each week is well worth the time spent to encourage discussion, questions and creativity.