Presenting Lessons in a Series

There are times when a single, definitive, and passionate message needs to be delivered from the pulpit for those under my care. However, the majority of the time, a series is in order. This is already true in our Bible classes where a study guide or Bible book provides weekly lessons for a quarter or more. A lesson series provides time and opportunity to explore a book or topic in detail. All that the scriptures say on a given subject can be explored. More detail and background can be presented. The church can be led to see the cohesive nature of revelation and its grace and truth for us.

A series also gives me a structure and direction for my preaching. I usually know what I will be speaking about for weeks to come. I am a “bi-vocational” preacher – a new word for me! I work Monday thru Friday at the Sunset International Bible Institute; I preach and shepherd at the Tanglewood Church of Christ every weekend. Preaching in series makes it less of a challenge to develop my weekly sermons.

Therefore it is my practice to preach almost entirely in series. While not entirely followed, my general plan is to alternate a study from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and then a topical study. At least one series each year focuses specifically on Jesus – perhaps a gospel or his miracles or his teachings. A separate series is always being pursued at the Sunday evening services. Topical studies are usualy 3 to 12 lessons; book studies up 100!

In this series of posts (yes, this is a series as well), I will present and review some of the series I have found most helpful in teaching and feeding the flock at Tanglewood. Gradually I am posting the audio files of these lessons under the FREE RESOURCES section of this website; CDs with the MP3 files are also available for a small charge.

Keep checking back for posts which begin with “Teaching Series.” Perhaps you will find these useful in your teaching ministry as well.

Article last updated August 15, 2011.

TV – An Overlooked Potential Resource

We recognize the danger inherent in the “one-eyed monster” of television. It seems that few networks and production companies are willing to promote wholesome, family and value affirming programs. And sadDiscovery_Times.jpgly, that may be because even those who profess Christian faith do not support it! But there is programming which can be a positive resource for those of us who teach the Bible.

History_Channel.jpgI have found documentary style programs on networks such as History Channel, History International, Discovery Channel, and Discovery Times. Subject to careful weighing of some of the claims and worldviews presented, there are still some good things broadcast.

Here are just a few of the types of shows I have added to my resources:

• Specials on controversial topics such as The DaVinci Code, the James Ossuary, and Mary Magdalene
• Numerous specials about Rome and the Roman emperors
• Various historical presentations on Greece, Babylonia, Persia & Assyria
• A recent one-hour special on Pontius Pilate; another on Herod the Great
• Shows on Masada, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Qumran, Jerusalem, etc.
• Documentaries on the history and teachings of Masonry, Mormonism, Islam, and other religious faiths

The above is just a sampling. Some programs affirm historical Christian views; others provide “the other side” and give us the opportunity to critique and consider the strength or weakness of contrary views. Small clips of some of these can be used in classes or messages. A quotation or reference can be used if a video clip is not appropriate. But the main thing to realize is that these are available right in our own homes, free of charge. Always limit their use consistent with giving proper source credit, and copyright and fair use laws.

A challenge is get recorded programs off your DVD or TiVO into your computer. Several possible solutions can be found by searching the internet using Google or Bing.

Article updated August 11, 2011

“Know the Author’s Setting”

A most basic element of effective Bible study is illustrated well in this drawing taken from Getting More From Your Bible, by Terry Hall. Understanding the history, culture, background, language, and even geography surrounding a biblical author’s writing will make it more likely we will accurately interpret what he has written.

We plan to continue with more articles illustrating and expanding on this basic principle – that an author is always writing within a context. Each biblical writer’s original audience was very aware of that context, and needed little or no explanation from the author. Today, we need to practice “due diligence” and, as much as possible, put ourselves into the same position as the original recipients of the writing.

Here is a non-religious example to illustrate. Looking through some personal papers once belonging to your great grandmother you find a letter. As you scan its contents you notice a number of things. It is addressed to someone whose name you do not recognize named Martha. The date is in the early 1860s. The address is in South Carolina. The contents are a mixture of personal expressions of longing and fondness along with references to war. With the clues referred to we would correctly conclude that the setting was the American Civil War in the South, and this was a letter home from a soldier. Without these basic bits of background (context), much of the real message of the letter would be lost. The same is true of the Scriptures. More to come. . .

(Getting More From Your Bible, by Terry Hall was copyrighted 1984 and published by Victor Books. I have not been able to locate the author to gain his permission to use this drawing. I have kept this book these 20+ years because of its contribution to effective Bible study.)

Article last updated August 10, 2011

Using Matthew’s Gospel as a Sermon Series

“Sundays with Matthew”
A Bible Book as a Sermon Series

“They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching,” Luke tells us in Acts 2 about the earliest church. In 2004 I made the commitment at the Tanglewood church in Odessa, Texas to, figuratively speaking, help them sit at the feet of one of Jesus’ disciples. June 6, 2004 I began preaching through the Gospel of Matthew. May 21, 2006 the last message was delivered. Two years, 90+ sermons, and over 55 hours of public exposure to the text – what was the result?

Continue reading

“In the Laboratory with Agassiz”

“In the Laboratory with Agassiz,” by Samuel H. Scudder

The following story has long been used to illustrate the value of consistent and persistent study of a subject in order to discover more than the immediately obvious. It
makes a great illustration of the need for such study in the biblical text. (By the way, the “Haemulon” group of fishes are commonly called the “Grunts.”)

It was more than fifteen years ago that I entered the laboratory of Professor Agassiz, and told him I had enrolled my name in the scientific school as a student of natural history. He asked me a few questions about my object in coming, my antecedents generally, the mode in which I afterwards proposed to use the knowledge I might acquire, and finally, whether I wished to study any special branch. To the latter I replied that while I wished to be well grounded in all departments of zoology, I purposed to devote myself specially to insects.
“When do you wish to begin?” he asked. Continue reading

“First Steps – Studies for Those New in the Faith”

“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death…so we too might walk in newness of life” – Romans 6-4

Author: Richard Cravy

This study outline is excellent for both personal study and group study with an emphasis on those new to Christianity. First Steps features 15 lessons in 4 sections. Each lesson is designed to be self-contained and used as a weekly lesson for a class format.

The four sections of First Steps are:

  1. First Steps to Understanding the Bible
  2. First Steps in Christian Evidences
  3. First Steps to Understanding Salvation
  4. First Steps in Christian Living

“Effective Bible Study” Video Preview

Enjoy this free preview of the DVD set entitled Effective Bible Study. This video has been optimized for playback on the Internet. Video quality is much higher on the DVD version of the video. This DVD set is available for sale in our store.

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Extra Resources on the Feasts of Israel

Seeing_Jesus_CDs.jpgBack in November we announced the release of our 7 lesson series on Seeing Jesus in the Feasts of Israel. There were many resources I used while studying and presenting this series. Below are listed just a few of them:

Feasts and Holidays of the Bible foldout chart produced by Rose Publishing. Also worthwhile to make copies available to serious students in your audience. A set of 80+ Powerpoint slides is also available: Feasts & Holidays of the Bible PowerPoint CD-ROM.

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“Effective Bible Study” Class Now on DVD

EBS Classroom DVDFor many years I have taught various classes and series on “Basic Bible Study,” “Effective Bible Study,” and “Using Bible Study Resources.” Much of those various materials were brought together and presented in a series of classes at Sunset International Bible Institute in 2003.

The video from this live classroom setting has been edited slightly and recorded onto the DVD format. At the risk of sounding like I am “sounding my own trumpet,” I am really pleased with the results. In these 27 lessons I presented both the theory and practice I believe are necessary to be a good student of the Bible. I unashamedly believe the Bible to be God’s revelation to man, and approach it that way. Continue reading

Podcasts: Listen and Learn


I’ve just written several posts over on about podcasts. The audio broadcasts are widely available and provide a rich sourch of information and training for Bible students. Go read about podcasts at Wikipedia or what I wrote on my other website.

Meanwhile here are some podcasts you can find online I believe you will really enjoy: Continue reading