In the beginning of July, I started teaching a Sunday School class at my church. It's a great class -- it started about 10 years ago with a group of people who were interested in an in-depth study of the entire Bible: Genesis to Revelation. When the original teacher announced her retirement, the class approached me to "take over." I was honored and accepted.
So I've been teaching for a little over two months now. When I picked the class up, they were almost finished with 2 Kings. So we finished out 2 Kings and moved into 1 Chronicles. The format of the class is rather simple: I read a passage, lecture on it, and take questions and encourage discussion. I spend a bit of time in preparation for the class, but that still only keeps me a few weeks ahead of the current lesson.
I decided that I wanted to do a better job of preparing for the discussions. So, while continuing to keep up with my lesson plans for Chronicles, I've embarked on a personal study of Ezra. At the rate we're going, it will be months, if not a year or more before we get to Ezra, but since we'll probably get to 2 Chronicles pretty soon, it was the first logical place to start.
Over the past few weeks, I've worked through the first nine (of ten) chapters of Ezra and *WOW* -- has it been rewarding. I've got a mondo-keen study Bible called "The New Inductive Study Bible" which has wide margins for note-taking and advocates a system of marking the text in certain ways to help you get a better understanding of the text. Unlike most of my other Bibles, this one has no commentary notes -- the purpose is to allow the reader to be guided by the Holy Spirit in an understanding of the Bible without being influenced by other people's opinions. As a bonus, I get to play with colored pencils. It's a great tool and I highly recommend it as a second (or third, or fourth, or ...) Bible. I don't use it as my primary Bible because once I mark it up while studying, it's hard to follow when I'm looking up a passage during a worship service, for example.
Anyway, studying Ezra has been very fun for me the past couple of weeks. It is amazing to read about the Jews returning from Babylonian captivity to a destroyed temple and the struggles they had with the government when they tried to rebuild it. I'm really looking forward to putting together the lesson plans and teaching Ezra.
If you are in Greensboro, NC on a Sunday morning, you're more than welcome to visit my Sunday School class. It's the "Seekers" class at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church (corner of Pisgah Church Road and Battleground Avenue). We start at 9:45. I attend the eleven o'clock worship service after Sunday School and would love to have you join me in worshiping the Lord.