Tag Archives: teaching
The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Education)
Having been an educator for several decades, I know both the joys and pains of teaching. My seminary and Bible college students wanted to know the SO WHAT? aspect of the topic under discussion, whatever it was. There’s a kind of incipient narcissism in that approach, but they helped me ask, “How is this particular doctrine going to change my life — if I let it?” All in all, I loved my career.
Pray for Me and for My Kirkland Students?
Some of you know that one of my greatest privileges each year is to teach a survey of Bible doctrine to lifers at the Kirkland Correctional Institute in Columbia, SC. The thirteen men in this year’s cohort are believers in Jesus and have committed themselves to a two-year cooperative program with Columbia International University to be trained to do ministry alongside chaplains in this state’s penal system. These brothers agree (upon their graduation) to be disseminated to other prisons, a great sacrifice in moving some distance from visits from family and friends.
This is, I think, my seventh or eighth cohort that I have worked with. These men are incarcerated for serious crimes. One said to me the other day, “I thank God for prison. This is where I met Jesus!” But prison is hard. I reflected a bit today on some of the privileges I have that they don’t:
I am not minimizing their crimes. Some have admitted to me that they deserve their punishment. But I have the privilege of teaching them the doctrines of God’s Word! Please pray for me — and for them!
My Time in Africa — Teaching a Master’s Class in Zambia!
I arrived at the Lusaka airport in Zambia on October 19th. I was picked up by a couple of brothers from the Ambassador International University. An hour and a half later we were way out in the bush at the school. The school, sponsored by Gospelink, has about 90 buildings and I was housed at a nice “visitors’ lodge” with a private room and bath.
My class consisted of eight Master’s level students. They were a joy as we went through three books that I had written: When Temptation Strikes (on the doctrine of temptation and sin), The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit (not yet published), and Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World. These men tackled the content and we had wonderful discussions about the implications for their ministry in Zambia.
To any of you who prayed for my time in Zambia, thank you! I will shortly write a brief report of the 2nd half of my trip, teaching in Ethiopia!
A Brief Report on My Trip to Zambia (Oct. 18-27, 2019)
First of all, friends, thank you for praying! I am presently (Oct. 30) in Ethiopia teaching a course to pastors and Christian workers.
My course in Zambia went quite well. I had eight Masters-level students and they were a great encouragement to me as we talked about three areas: temptation and sin, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and friendship evangelism. I used my book When Temptation Strikes for the 1st area, my just-published book Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World for the third area. And I recently finished a short manuscript entitled The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit. Whew!
The Gospel Link campus for Ambassador International University is quite impressive, but extremely remote. My accommodations were in a fine newer building called “The Lodge.” It was my joy to serve that school and those students! Above is a picture of the class.
One of the meals I tried ! Please lift me up prayer for my next week and a half here in Ethiopia. Thanks!
The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — He Illumines the BELIEVER! (Part 1)
“He illumines the believer? What in the world are you talking about?”, you might say. We are continuing our study of God the Holy Spirit and this morning we want to talk about ILLUMINATION!
It seems to me that some Christians either overemphasize the Spirit while others overlook Him. We need a biblical balance in understanding His ministries in the world . . . and in us!
We know that the Spirit of God was sent by Jesus as His substitute Teacher. We read the following in the Upper Room Discourse (John 14-16):
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (Jn. 14)
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. (Jn. 15)
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (Jn. 16)
We must make several points about these verses in John 14-16-
1. The Spirit of God will teach the disciples all things and will remind them of everything Jesus had said to them (Jn. 14:26).
The primary application of this verse is to the original Apostles and seems to be a reference to their being taught and guided into writing the New Testament Scriptures.
A secondary application which seems valid is that this verse applies to all believers who pay attention to what the Lord Jesus said. They will receive the Spirit’s help in focusing upon Christ’s teachings.
2. The Spirit of God is “the Spirit of truth” and “will testify” about the Lord Jesus (Jn. 15:26).
There is a definite curriculum for the Substitute Teacher and it is . . . the Lord Jesus.
3. This “Spirit of truth” will “guide [the disciples] into all the truth” (Jn. 16:12). His teaching ministry will not be a solo work — “He will speak only what He hears.”
There is an order in the Trinity that no one, especially theologians, understands. But John 16 indicates that the Spirit’s role is to “glorify” the Son. And the Spirit “will receive from [the Lord Jesus] what He will make known to you” (Jn. 16:15).
So, what does this have to do with ILLUMINATION? The Spirit of God is intimately involved in the believer’s studying the words of the Lord Jesus, and, by extension, his or her diligent study of any of the written Word of God.
Another key text in regard to this illuminating ministry is . . . — a text we will examine in our next post!
The Challenge: Get into God’s Word today — and let the Spirit of God teach you something new or remind you of something you have forgotten!
A Ministry Update — Thanks, in Advance, for Praying!
Some of you might want to know what I’m up to over the next few months. I am so grateful for the Lord’s kindness in using me in various ministries.
March 30-April 8 — I will be traveling to New Jersey to speak at Cedarcroft Bible Chapel, consult with their elders, and lead a 1/2 day seminar on my book DocWALK: Putting into Practice What We Say We Believe. I was so encouraged with my last trip to Cedarcroft and the seminar we did on my book DocTALK. We had almost 40 people come to that 1/2 day study. Please pray for strength as I preach and teach. I’ll also be privileged to share the Word with the believers at Fifth Avenue Chapel, Belmar, NJ. And I’ll stay with my 92-year-old mother-in-law Mary while I’m there (and catch up on missed episodes of “Little House on the Prairie”).
April 10 – My manuscript on Unlike Jesus: One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel is due today. This is a study of friendship evangelism. My concern is that some of us have confused not being a friend of the world (James 4) with being a friend of sinners (Matthew 11). I am convicted by Dr. Francis Schaeffer’s statement that “We have, in a real sense, lost sense of the lostness of the lost.”
April 21 – Preach at a local Chinese church on Easter Sunday (in English with translation). I would appreciate your praying for my preparation of that message and that it would be an encouragement to those believers.
April 28 – Tag-team preaching with Ministry Consultant /Teaching Team Leader David Olshine at Sandhills Community Church on the ascension of the Lord Jesus!
May 25-27 – Family Retreat at Camp Elim, Woodland Park, Colorado. We will be studying Paul’s epistle to Titus and the theme will be “The Spiritually Healthy Family.”
Again, thank you for praying for me! And for reading my blog!
What Does the Lord Have for Me in 2019?
Some of you are faithful readers of this blog.A few of you have stumbled on it by accident. I appreciate each of you and want to take today’s post to ask for your prayer for me and this new year! I’m so thankful that the Lord is using me in various ministries and you might want to know about a few upcoming events for which you can pray. Please let me know how I can pray for you.
Specific kinds of activities:
1. Writing projects:There seems to be good indication that I will have one (and possibly two) writing contracts for this year. Unlike Jesus: One Area in Which Jesus-Followers Excel is something I’ve worked on for a while. We need to become friends of sinners, like Jesus, don’t we? Another book, tentatively entitled With Friends Like These, will challenge us to develop deeper relationships with other believers as well as with those who don’t know the Lord. (I’ll announce on this blog when either of these contracts is nailed down). Please pray for clarity of thought and a clear guidance of God the Holy Spirit as I work on these two projects.
2. Speaking Opportunities: I am so grateful for the times I get to preach God’s Word or conduct serious study sessions on various theological topics. I’m hoping to present one or two workshops at the annual “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference at Emmaus Bible College in May. I’ve suggested several possible topics (the titles with brief descriptions are: “Learning to Be a Friend of Sinners Without Becoming a Friend of the World” Jesus’ being a friend of sinners (Mt. 11:19) and the command for us not to be a friend of the world (James 4:4) are often confused. How is it many of us need a refresher in Friendship 101? What is a biblical definition of the “world” and our place in it? “Theological Opposition: Where Should We Do Battle — and Why?” This is not the day for spiritual pacifists. As Chuck Colson used to say, “The battle is raging today all around, but many are perishing because we Christians have failed to engage the enemy at the point of attack. We not only flinch; for the most part we are not even looking in the right direction.” (Who Speaks for God?). Biblical guidelines for fighting false teaching will be discussed. “Battlin’ Brethren: Silly Squabbles Between the Saints” Learning to distinguish between the essentials of the faith and our own distinctives is crucial. The adage “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things charity” was sadly violated by J.N. Darby and his compatriots in the early days of the Brethren Movement. Their legacy, unfortunately, continues. Some recommendations for reversing the trend will be given. “A Discussion of Greg Koukl’s Book Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions” In an increasingly hostile world, this book provides practical steps in sharing the gospel without becoming obnoxious or defensive. Tactics such as the Columbo Method, Steamrolling, and the Rhodes Scholar are explained by this prominent apologist from Stand to Reason).
3. Ministry/Missions Opportunities: Apart from several trips to work with the believers at Cedarcroft Bible Chapel in New Jersey, I’ll be speaking in a Chinese church on Easter Sunday (in English, of course!). There is a strong possibility that Linda and I will travel to Ethiopia to teach in a small Bible school there for a couple of weeks!
There will also be some opportunities to edit book manuscripts for others, plenty of tennis with my friends (some who are not yet “in Christ”), some Bible conferences, etc.
I appreciate you, my friend. And I deeply covet your prayers for me for this New Year!
What’s So Amazing about Grace? — A Free Sermon Outline! (Part 2)
I wrote the little booklet Ten Specific Steps You Can Take to Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better a while back to help preachers (like me) not continue to make the same mistakes we often make. This is available on Amazon and is guaranteed to improve your preaching or I will preach your next sermon for you (just kidding).
In these posts I want to give away some of my favorite sermon outlines — with just a dose of explanation along the way. So, let’s continue with a sermon I wrote on God’s amazing grace.
What’s So Amazing about Grace?
(a study of Titus 2:11-15).
We’ve seen that —
I. God’s Grace Is a Salvation-Bringing Grace (v. 11)
Let’s notice secondly that —
II. God’s Grace is a Teaching Grace (v. 12)
I never thought I’d be a teacher, but the Lord had other plans. I could have been a much better student in high school than I was, but, by His grace, I’ve served for a bunch of years teaching undergrad and seminary students the Word of God.
We all need to be taught. And, thank God, His grace is a teaching grace! Verse 12 tells us that this grace “teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” Please notice that there is both a negative as well as a positive side to God’s teaching grace. We need to deny ungodliness and worldly passions. The world sees Christians as being primarily negative, don’t you think?
But we also need to be taught the positives of living a yes-kind of life! That affirmation lifestyle focuses on self-control, uprightness, and godliness, which the world desperately needs to see lived out!
Notice also that this kind of affirmative living is to take place, not in heaven, but “in this present age.” The expression is really “in the now world.” Right now. Where you live. Right now you and I are to be living out the grace of God in positive, attractive ways.
Are you letting the grace of God teach you?
Pray for My Teaching Trip to Myanmar August 9-September 4! (Part 3)
Friends: As I prepare to teach two theology courses to students at the South East Asia Bible College (here is their website) in Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Burma), I earnestly would appreciate your prayers for this trip. The Lord has kindly given me opportunities in the past to teach in Asia in 2000 (India) and I recently had the privilege of teaching at Word of Life Bible Institute in South Korea.
I will be going over the basic doctrines of the Christian faith, using my two books DocTALK and DocWALK. DocTALK is a study of all ten areas of Christian faith, such as the doctrine of God, the doctrine of salvation, and the doctrine of the Scriptures.
We’ll be using DocTALK for SEBC’s 3rd and 4th year students. Please pray for me that I will be able to connect with their situation in Myanmar and will have God’s wisdom in making the truths of Scripture relevant to their needs.
I will also teach a course to M.Div. students and we will be using my follow-up book to DocTALK entitled DocWALK. DocWALK asks the question, how do we put into practice what we say we believe?
Because both these books were written with a Western, American audience in mind, I’m a bit concerned about how they will practically relate to the situations of these believers in Myanmar. Would you pray about that need, specifically? I don’t know how these students will be in class, but I deeply care about our class discussions being relevant. Thank you.