Monday, February 22, 2010

Temptation Sermon

One of my favorite preachers is Nadia Bolz-Weber.  I've never heard her, but she posts her sermons at the Sarcastic Lutheran.  They have been the basis for bible studies on more than a few occasions.  She has a terrific sermon about Lent up right now that is deeply insightful.  And challenging.

She references an article by Barbara Taylor Brown that I found at BeliefNet.  That's also an amazing read, and pretty quick.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Temptation and the Devil

Goal:  process goal is to start thinking about genre and how to use questioning.  Bible goal is temptation and how to find the devil, based on the account of Jesus' temptation.

  • Piece of Me - kids ask me questions to get to know me.  Each comes up with a question and then in pairs decide on what to ask.  
  • Bible Lesson - Jesus in the desert
  • Interview - they interview each other and present the result.  Works on questioning and helps me to get to know them.
  • 20 Questions - with any extra time.

Jesus vs. the Devil
Luke 4:1-13
Using Questions to Understand the Story

What do you know about the devil?

Reading the gospels:  A lot of the books of the New Testament are church leaders, like Peter or Paul, writing letters to new Christians giving them advice.  The gospels, like a lot of the Old Testament, tell a story.  It always helps to understand a story if you know what came before.  The story we’re reading today comes at the beginning of Jesus’ teaching.  He’s just been baptized by John the Baptist, and the Holy Spirit came to him.  He’s 30 years old, and none of the gospels say what he’s been doing from 12 years old (when he was found at the temple) until now.

Another thing bible students do in general is ask questions.  Since we’re reading 2000 year old, or more, writing, it can be quite difficult to understand.  As we go through the reading, I’ll share some of the questions I have, and you can always add more.  Some of the questions I know the answers to, some I had to look up, and some of the questions are just for thinking.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.

What’s the Jordan?  What is the wilderness like there?  Why 40 days?  What does it mean he was tempted by the devil?  What questions do you have?

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, One does not live by bread alone.”

Whoa!  Is there anyplace else in the Bible where we know what the devil says?  Why does even he call Jesus the son of God.  Could Jesus turn stones into bread?  What would be wrong with that? What does it mean, “It is written…”?  What questions do you have?

Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”

Wait – what does it mean the authority belongs to the devil?  Would he really have done it-made Jesus king of the world?  What does he get out of Jesus worshipping him?  In fact, that makes me wonder, why is the devil doing this?  Why is Jesus letting him? What questions do you have?

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you, and On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”

How high was that?  Is this a trick?  If Jesus did do it, would the angels protect him?  Is the devil really quoting scripture or is he making it up?  What questions do you have?

Jesus answered him, “It is said, Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

How did Jesus get down?  Were there more tests?  What does that mean, “put God to the test”?  What was a more opportune time?  Do the gospels record another exchange between Jesus and the devil? What questions do you have?

If you had to guess what Jesus advice for defeating temptation was, what would you say?

Reflection:  What’s one thing you got out of this bible study?

More time?  Here’s two other things the bible says about how to fight the devil.

James 4:7-8: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.

1 Peter 5:8-11  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Resources: - Youth Ministry resources, including a searchable games section.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

First Post

I'm just starting to teach a bible study for middle school, and wanted to share resources I find and work I do.  Starting a math education blog has put me in touch with many people who have similar goals and concerns and I hope that this might, too.  I also write the monthly bible study for a men's group at Lakeshore Lutheran Fellowship, and I'll share those studies, too.

The youth group is at St. John's Episcopal, Grand Haven, MI, and this past week we had our first meet.  It was a week earlier than I expected, and I think that helped keep me from over thinking it.  We read the scriptures for the week looking for text-to-text connections and text-to-self connections.  Did a multiple choice quiz Bowl type game about Lent factoids, and Paczkis (puhnch-kees) in celebration of Mardi Gras.  The readings were Moses coming down with the commandments, Paul's connection with that in 2 Corinthians 3 and the Transfiguration of Jesus from Luke 9.  The main connection I shared was that Paul is saying we can all be like Moses in our relationship to God through Jesus.  It was a bit too much for a first lesson, and the students definitely need more support in applying the strategy.  We'll focus more in coming weeks, and do some scaffolding to try to get at the connections strategy.  The Lenten game was mostly trivia, and the main point was that it's not about becoming more pure or saving ourselves, but opening up ourselves to God's grace.  How do the traditional prayer, fasting and almsgiving do that?

Episcopal Lectionary - with links to full text of the weekly readings.
Another Episcopal Lectionary - calendar format with Saint's days.

BibleGateway - great online, searchable bible.  Makes it easy to switch back and forth between the Message and NIV.
Oremus Bible Browser - has the NSRV, official translation of the Episcopal church.

Bev Van Kampen - best bible teacher I know personally; in particular, see her monthly devotional for this Lent.
Nice Lenten meditation - from God's Politics, which is sometimes political, but often has some deep spiritual writing.