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photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Photo by Curtis Hall

Photo by Curtis Hall

Peace

Peace I leave with you

 

Paths

Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About

Every week, in Sabbath school classes across the world, someone will be talking. It’s estimated that the normal pace for English speaking averages between 120 to 160 words per minute. That translates to 5400 – 7200 words for the typical 45 minute Sabbath school class.

How many of those words are being spoken by you the teacher? If your answer is that you are speaking the majority of those 5400 – 7200 words, you are more than likely missing the mark as an effective Sabbath school teacher.

Sabbath school teachers have to consciously fight the tendency to lecture and preach to the members of their classes. One of the 2 biggest complaints about Sabbath school teachers is that they do all or most of the talking and don’t involve the class members.

Although the information shared may be true and useful, we have to be wise in our manner of presentation. The evidence shows, without question, that members learn more and enjoy the process of learning even more when there is opportunity for meaningful interaction and dialogue.

Guiding a class that is consistently known for a great discussion takes a lot of preparation and forethought. Preparing your materials and talking points and devising stimulating questions is a process that demands time from the teacher. To simply lecture a class or read the lesson out loud not only short changes the members of the class but also stunts your growth as a teacher.

To give members “something to talk about” means that you have guided your class in a manner where they are actively participating and the learning is mutual and shared. Here are a few dos and don’ts to aid you in having great discussions:

Do prepare thought-provoking questions for each part of your theme
Do anticipate the probable answers you’ll receive and have follow-up questions ready
Do make your questions appropriate for visitors as well as long time members

Don’t answer your own questions. Let the class answer the questions.
Don’t limit the answer to the 1st response. Build on it and re-launch it
Don’t ignore raised hands in an effort to get to your points of interest

Following these simple guidelines can enhance any class for any teacher. When they come to your session this week, make sure that you give them “something to talk about.”

5 Resolutions that Don’t Include Dieting

New YearIt’s that time of the year for the annual ritual of making New Year’s resolutions. Heading the most popular resolutions will be losing weight and improving your health. Although those are great goals, they are not on my list of five.

Another frequently cited resolution is becoming debt free. I am all for that and it’s certainly the best way to live. “Owe no man anything” was written for a good reason. But that’s not in my five.

In accordance with the mandatory listing of New Years Resolutions, here’s my top 5:

The Jesus No One Wants to Talk About

Lonely JesusWe like Jesus. For some that’s too mild of a statement. We love Jesus. We especially love the Jesus who steps in on time, the One who comes to our rescue. We love that Jesus so much we even write songs about Him. Jesus on the main line tell Him what you want…

Nothing compares to the hope one can derive from knowing that Jesus cares. Through the deepest night of despair there is always the confidence that comes from believing that Jesus is with us and will see us through. We want that Jesus.

We also want the Jesus who will fight our battles for us. The text “vengeance is mine” has kept the sanity of many a believer. As we navigate through life we need a shield before us and behind us and no one can do that better than Jesus. We want that Jesus.

We especially want the Jesus that brings forgiveness to our guilty consciences. Lifting the burden of guilt that crushes our souls is a miracle in itself. Regardless of our past we have the promise of forgiveness to those who ask for it. We want that Jesus.

But there is a Jesus we don’t want. We never talk about this Jesus. He’s like that embarrassing relative we want no one to know of. It’s the Jesus that walks the narrow road and who goes against the grain of our lives and against the currents of society. We’re not the first to disown this Jesus but we may be of the generation who ignore Him at the greatest peril.

For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. Mark 8:38

No Inmates Beyond This Point!

PrisonNO INMATES BEYOND THIS POINT!

This was the sign that warned us each time we departed the prison grounds at the women’s federal prison in Texas. As we crossed the boldly red striped line each day we understood what a privilege we have to be free and able to leave the grounds knowing that those who watched us walk away could only dream of the day they could do the same. 

For three days Shelley and I have been conducting a series of workshops to the inmates on job readiness skills once they would transition back into society. For some, the departure date would be decades from now but they were none-the-less engaged as if their freedom was in the near future.

The group of women we served covered a broad spectrum. We had young women all the way to grandmothers that were in the years when most are planning retirement. We had multiple races and ethnicities.

During our time together we learned a little of each woman’s history. Some had been millionaires (not wanna bees), others had never really held a job. We had skilled artisans of a wide variety and even someone who had broken a racehorse in her previous life in the Midwest.

We were struck with how normal many of the ladies were yet through bad decisions they chose to make, they were now convicted felons. We shared useful job readiness information on how to move forward in life once they would be released. But even more important than that we were also able to share example after example of how Jesus had a habit of meeting people at their worst and changing their lives in ways they could have never dreamed.

Meeting people at their worst…, I might have to write something else along those lines.  

Did You Keep YOUR Word?

PromiseDisclaimer and Notice: This article is addressed only to those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ; aka Christians.

Over and over ad nauseam is the (feigned) outrage over the President’s (alleged) not keeping of his word regarding insurance policies for a segment of our insured population. If one didn’t know better, judging by the news and social media armchair journalist, this is the height of moral failure. There is disgust and vilification about this lapse in consistency regarding this very complex situation.

Never mind that he kept his word in making health care available to millions who just a short while ago, had none. Never mind that as of today, those with these unfortunate cancellation notices, still have insurance and I am optimistic that they will continue to have coverage. But that fact seems to be conveniently ignored.

I am Trayvon Martin… and George Zimmerman

ShadowI am Trayvon Martin… and George Zimmerman

I know you’re wondering how that’s even possible. Two people, so diametrically opposed to each other. One a man, the other a boy. Different races and different backgrounds. One married, the other not. One dead, the other alive. From different places in life yet they are both me.

As a young man who grew up in the inner city with my formative years as a public housing resident, I have walked the streets as Trayvon Martin. My daily life, though lived in another century, was not dis-similar. The color of my skin was a distinct liability for future aspirations beyond the cement patches that I called home.

My sons, nephews and cousins of today are Trayvon Martin lookalikes. It runs in our blood. Being young and viewed by default as less than honorable solely based on stereotypes and prejudices is a never-ending sad reality. Trayvon Martin’s physical description alone, without knowing the name, could have been the son, brother, nephew of many of my closest friends and family members.