Five Points Blog
- Brett Toney
- Nov 16, 2012
For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. — Ezra 7:9-10
As Israel's Babylonian exile came to an end, God raised up the priest Ezra to be a leader for the people. He was a seminary-trained, politically-attuned, culturally-aware shepherd for God's people. Even more important was the faithful, sovereign God had his back.
But why? Why would God bless this guy such that the Holy Spirit would inspire the biblical author to say that "the good hand of his God was on him"? The answer to this question provides insight to how every teacher of God's word should prepare for such a role.
The answer is not because of Ezra's status as a priest, teacher, or leader. It's not because he was holier than others or because he was better. Verse 10 says God had blessed him because he "had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach" it. Ezra did not presume he could just read through a passage of Scripture and immediately get up to teach God's people.
No, God had blessed him because he gave himself to study God's word; he didn't consider Scripture to be insignificant, inapplicable, or trivial. He studied it. But he didn't just study it and then teach it, treating God's Word as an academic exercise. Instead, he did it first. It wasn't until after he had studied and engaged in the personal practice of Scripture that he was fit to open his mouth to share with others.
This is a fitting example for any who are called to teach the Bible to others. Whether you are teaching kindergartners on Sunday mornings, high schoolers during the week, your own children at home, or preaching at a worship service, you must study the Word, apply and practice it in your own life, and then share with others what God says.
So as you prepare for Sunday's lessons or for family devotions, consider Ezra's example that the good hand of your God might be on you. You might also consider these three questions from Trevin Wax aimed at preachers but applicable for all who teach.
- Brett Toney
- Aug 25, 2012
Fall is just around the corner and I am excited for the many different classes that will be starting up on September 9. Let me highlight for you some of the opportunities you will have to connect with others in digging into God's word.
We will continue with a full spread of Bible Study Hour classes for adults. Pastor JJ will be teaching a class called "God Saves: Studies in Jonah & Hosea" (Room I/J), highlighting how these often-obscured prophets clearly anticipate Christ. One of our elders, Mike Houston, will continue to partner with Eric Leiendecker in leading the College & Career class through the Letter to the Colossians (Room A). Another elder, Dick Mills, will be teaching an expositional or topical study in the Sanctuary. Cindy Verner will continue teaching the women's class in the Gospel of John (Room D). And I will have the privilege of walking through redemptive history, looking at how God is working to establish his people in his place with his presence by creating his kingdom through a covenant (Room C).
And while we will mainly focus on the deep truths of God’s word on Sunday mornings, we will consider how those truths impact our daily lives at our Evening Family Gatherings. Pastor Brent will be teaching a class titled, "Marriage: A Marvelous Mystery" (Sanctuary). Elder Mark Kakkuri will teach "Apologetics to the Glory of God" (Rooms I & J), and Ken Whitely will be teaching the class "The Fruitful Credit of Faithful Finances" (Rooms C & D).
And of course, classes for children and students will be held during the same times as well.
Consider joining us as we pursue joy in Christ alone through the study and application of his word together.
- JJ Sherwood
- Aug 31, 2011
The Gospel Coalition has an excellent post on parenting in step with the Holy Spirit. Here is one paragraph:
"A better parenting paradigm is faithfulness-driven rather than results-led. Our role as parents is not to “produce” children who exhibit certain behavior criteria, but to be mere instruments in the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work in the heart of our children. We highly value and adhere to the wisdom of Proverbs, Deuteronomy, Hebrews, and other child-training passages in the Scriptures and realize only God transforms the hearts of our children."
You can read the whole thing here.
- JJ Sherwood
- Aug 23, 2011
Teach all the time: Young children live in the moment. Help them to learn in the moment by making the most of opportunities as they arise. Talk about God in the day-to-day things you are doing.
Teach at a special time: Try to set aside a special time to read about God. Prepare for this time. If you are going to read the Bible, think about what you will read and how to simplify and explain it.
Questions and answers: Listen to your children’s questions, and give quality time to answering them. But also ask them questions about what you’ve been trying to teach to check they have understood.
Teach through your life: You are a living example (or visual aid) of someone who loves God. Set a faithful example of dependence on God and let them see you reading the Bible for yourself.
Be prayerful: Like adults, children need God’s help to grow in Christ and they can learn to pray. So pray for them and pray simple prayers with them (e.g. “sorry God that we…”, “thank you God for…”, “God, please help…”).
Be simple: Young children are not abstract thinkers so be literal and concrete. Use real examples where possible (eg. God made this flower). Use simple vocabulary that they can understand. Avoid jargon.
Be specific: Move from the specific (God loves Ben) to the general (God loves everyone). Use lots of familiar examples so that they can understand.
Repeat and repeat again: You might get tired of saying it, but remember young children thrive on repetition.
Be thankful: Approach God with thankfulness. Model to your children how we can thank God in various situations and what we can thank God for.
Be visual: Young children learn through their eyes as well as their ears. Use pictures, visual aids, picture books etc.
You can read the article here.