Monday, June 26, 2017

Hebrews Study Questions from 6/25


My Sunday School Life Group is studying Hebrews. Every Monday, I post questions that were discussed the day before in Sunday School. I encourage you to ponder/think about them and jot down your thoughts.

On Wednesdays, I post some of the ideas that came up in the Life Group's discussion for you to consider.  

Make yourself comfortable, this is most likely going to be a year-long experience.

These questions were discussed in my Life Group yesterday. Take time to reflect on them. I'll post thoughts from the class discussion on Wednesday of this week. 

Hebrews 2

Vv 5-18
Who does God intend to be in charge of the world to come?
Vv6-8. Where is this quote from? What notes can you find about that verse and this one?
Look at v8 and v15. What’s contradictory? What’s the cause of that contradiction?
How did Christ’s death lead to glory and honor? Why did Christ have to die?
Find two characteristics of Christ and the reason Christ died for us? <hmm. Answer to above?> 
vv10-11. How can suffering lead to perfection?

How do we become part of Christ’s family?

Why is Christ not ashamed to call us brothers [and sisters]?  How’s that make you feel?

Find some common connection between the four statements in vv12-13

Who are the children given to Christ?

Why is it mandatory that: 1) Christ share humanity with us? 2) He die?
How did Christ free those held in slavery to fear of death?
What’s important about v16?
What three things do we learn about Christ in v17?

What gives Christ credibility concerning temptation?
We stopped here this week.
If you'd like a PDF of the pages of questions in table form with room for you to write answers, email me at The first set goes through Hebrews 3. You can request the remaining sets when I give them to my class. That will be in the post of questions for that week.

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Almanac for Teachers. Grading Over The Years #5 – Grading Group Projects

Almost every teacher uses student groups at some time. Many teachers do a great job explaining the expectations for the group dynamics. At least that many do not explain those expectations. Another group, which might be the intersect in a Venn diagram of the teachers above, misuses group terminology.
Let’s start with some background.
 When I started teaching, groups were usually random assemblages of students. Often self-selected, equally as often teacher-selected, the directive was, “Work together to finish this assignment.” Most nightmares involving group work are the result of the above situation.
In the 1980s, Cooperative Learning Groups became popular. Hosts of teachers were trained in cooperative learning methodology. Regardless of the extent of a teacher’s training, too often, what was advertised as “a cooperative group activity” wasn’t one. What follows are the definitions used in this post.
Cooperative Learning
One of the most popular pedagogical strategies in the last decades of the 20th Century is cooperative learning. Much research has been directed at the effectiveness of students learning in groups vs. students learning in individual situations. The vast majority of data collected by these studies support group experiences as the most effective learning modality, particularly for students from underrepresented groups.
Group/Team/Cooperative Group
Many teachers use the word “group” any time they have more than one student working on a common assignment. For purposes of this class the following definitions will be used:
Group                         a loose, frequently randomly assigned, collection of students whose task is to generate some form of product. Roles within the group are not defined prior to group formation. The group itself determines resources and access to those resources. The most important outcome is producing the product. The size of the group and the length of time the group is together as a group is highly variable.
Team                          a loose, frequently randomly assigned, collection of students with a goal. While the goal may be academic, it is more likely to be physical (e.g., “to win”). Achievement of the goal is the primary reason for the team’s existence. Size tends to be more than 6 team members. Teams function for single contests through entire seasons.
In Teams and Groups, little attempt is made to be certain that all individuals on the team or group contribute equally to the task at hand. In fact, in the case of a team, lesser skilled members are often excluded from much/all the group activity.
Cooperative Group   a tight-knit collection of students with pre-defined roles working together to produce a consensus product. Contributions from each cooperative group member are expected to be both equal and appropriate. In addition to academic processes, learning and demonstrating appropriate social skills are frequently goals of this type of classroom organization. Working together in a tolerant and supportive atmosphere is a crucial component of a cooperative group. Resources (or access to resources) is limited to specific cooperative group members to assist in the cooperative nature of the venture. Size is usually 3-4 students. The length of time a cooperative group functions varies.

Without a doubt, the most common student complaint about group work is . . .
. . . The Group Grade.

Far too many teachers give everyone in a group the same grade without considering the quality of the contribution to the product by individual group members.
I’m not saying that a teacher should never give everyone in a group the same grade. There are plenty of times when I did that. However, those times were always when the grade was minimal and/or the entire group activity was clearly visible to me.
Example. Quizzes in groups using whiteboards to display answers. When I used this strategy, it was obvious if all students were participating “equally,” or at least equally enough to all receive the same grade.

Most of my group work was some level of cooperative grouping. It was uncommon for all students in one of those groups to receive the same grade. Some version of the formula below was used in that group grading.
[(Your question score) x 2] + [average of all individual questions in group] + [group score on the GC] = 120 pts possible.
As displayed above the formula was for an exam.
What? You gave group tests?!?
Yes, at least one—more on that a bit later.
Right now, let’s look at a “catalog” assignment. Here student groups research a single part of the whole topic. I taught science. Over the years, I assigned
“The Whole Cell Catalog”—each student researched a cellular organelle.
“The Invertebrate Catalog”—each student researched one or two invertebrate phyla.
“The Botany Catalog”—each student researched a structure found in a flowering plant. Shown below.

Notice on the three numbers on above page and the page below. Those are scores received from the rubric below.

Ideas for other disciplines abound.
“In every disciplinethere are key concepts that are grouped together to form larger sets of information. Dictators, kings, and presidents are linked to various Forms of Government. Onomatopoeia and simile are two of many Literary Devices. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc., are grouped as Mathematical Functions. Cell Organelles make up cells. The list of such aggregations is very long.” (p 130*)
*For specifics see pages 129-140 in Chapter 5, You Can Do It! Implementing Success in Your Classroom in Tune Up Your Teaching & Turn on Student Learning by Dr. JoAnn Jurchan and me.
     Let’s take a look at the most complete version of the peer grading process I used for any group project. Clicking HERE for a link to a downloadable copy of all these as a .zip file. Also, the complete Whole Cell Catalog assignment and two other catalogs are in a FREE download at:  

 I also used the following.
When grading, each student gets his/her page plus an additional amount based on the entire catalog (the Group Grade).  I’ve even used this modified version of the Group Test formula.
[(Your page score) x 2] + [average of all individual pages in group] + 
[group score on the Cover/TOC] = 120 pts possible.
I know this formula ends with 120 points and the formula above is for 60 points. As teacher, you are the keeper of all points in the universe. I discuss course grades in the last blog in this series.
When using the formula for a catalog, you only average the pages included in the final product. If a student doesn’t turn in a page, they get zero for their page, but that zero is not included in the [average of all individual pages in the group].
Regardless of the method used for scoring, you can see how grades of students in the group might/could/should vary depending on their contribution.

This post is long enough now. I’m adding yet another “edition” to the series. Next time, #6 in this ever-expanding series, I’ll explain grading procedures for study guides and group tests.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Expressions of Faith: Hebrews Ch 2. Subjected

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet.”In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
 Hebrews 2:5-9


Americans bristle at the term “subject.”
    ·      Not what’s studied in school.
    ·      Under rule or under control of.

Reality is that all humans bristle at the idea.

We are born with a rebellious spirit.
Some show it more than others, but we all spell our names with a capital I.

God put Jesus in place of supreme authority.
How did He respond?
He “tast[ed] death for everyone [you and me]”

To whom are you subject?

If you’re not subject to Christ, it’s time to fix that!

Next Expression of Faith: Family

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Timeless Truths. Baccalaureate Address: Allspice and Crescent Wrenches - Part 1

This is the first of a series of blog posts that were originally Baccalaureate Addresses for the Monte Vista High School Classes of 1981, 1984, 1985, 1988 and 1 year with no reference date, probably in the 1980s, too.

Originally, each Address was part of a Baccalaureate ceremony. Not once in the five times that I was asked to speak was I given any limitations. Because of that, I preached five sermons with a salvation message in each. I'm grateful to God and the MV Administrations for those opportunities.

For these blog posts, the Addresses are presented over two weeks. They didn't take that long at the time of delivery. Now, part of the second week will be a reflection and comments on what I might change if I was giving the address in 2016.

Each Address included a “magic trick.” I am not a magician. My magic tricks required minimal digital dexterity—digital meaning fingers not computer savvy. I thought about videoing myself doing them, but I gave away the prop box, and now it’s missing. When possible,  I’ve included a link to a YouTube video of the trick. 

Each of the colors used for the bottles in this post represents the color of solution used in the magic trick in 1981.

If you are an MV grad in the year of one of these Baccalaureate Addresses, I hope it brings back a fond memory.

If you are not an MV grad in the year of one of these Baccalaureate Addresses, I hope it becomes a fond memory for you.

Read on, MacDuff!!

June 18, 1981

I man I know asked four members of a graduating class what academic position each was in.

The first replied, “I’m in the top 10%. I’m graduating cum laude—with honors.”

The second replied, “I’m in the top 5%. I’m graduating magna cum laude—with high honors.”

The third replied, “I’m in the top 2%. I’m graduating summa cum laude—with highest honors.”

The final student approached the man.

“What position are you graduating?” the man asked.

“I’m number 475 out of 476. I guess you could say that I’m graduating lawdy how cum?”

NOTE: All Scripture quoted is from the Good News Translation.

The title of my talk today is
Allspice and Crescent Wrenches.

Allspice. Doesn’t that sound like it’s good for anything? It’s one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean jerk seasoning, in moles, and in pickling; it is also an ingredient in commercial sausage preparations and curry powders. That’s not even close to all kinds of cooking.

Crescent Wrench. By adjusting the width of the jaws, it is useful in a large number of situations from small nuts and bolts to a nut or bold as big as the jaws open.

There are various philosophies, theories, ideas, and concepts that all sound valuable and worthy of living for. However, some are like ALLSPICE, the only sound good. Others are the CRESCENT WRENCHES of life. They work in any situation.

Do not deceive yourselves; no one makes a fool of God. You will reap exactly what you plant. If you plant in the field of your natural desires, from it you will gather the harvest of death;  Galatians 6:7-8a

The field of “natural desires” is filled with ALLSPICE. Let’s look at some examples.

 Some people live for HAPPINESS. This usually gets confused with pleasure.

I decided to enjoy myself and find out what happiness is. But I found that this is useless, too. I discovered that laughter is foolish, that pleasure does you no good. Driven on by my desire for wisdom, I decided to cheer myself up with wine and have a good time. I thought that this might be the best way people can spend their short lives on earth… Anything I wanted, I got. I did not deny myself any pleasure. I was proud of everything I had worked for, and all this was my reward. Then I thought about all that I had done and how hard I had worked doing it, and I realized that it didn't mean a thing. It was like chasing the wind - of no use at all. Ecclesiastes 2:1-3, 10-11

Not very rosy picture.

Some people live for SUCCESS.

Then Jesus told them this parable: "There was once a rich man who had land which bore good crops. He began to think to himself, "I don't have a place to keep all my crops. What can I do? This is what I will do,' he told himself; "I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I will store the grain and all my other goods. Then I will say to myself, Lucky man! You have all the good things you need for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself!' But God said to him, "You fool! This very night you will have to give up your life; then who will get all these things you have kept for yourself?' " 
Luke 12: 16-20

What good was all the man’s success?

“I know, I know,” you say. “It’s MONEY. You could live for MONEY!”

The problem with money . . . it’s hard to every get enough. If you live for money, you always need/want more.

Confidence placed in riches comes to nothing. Proverbs 11:7b

Remember the SUCCESS story? It contains this admonition that’s not included in the parable from Luke that’s printed above.

And Jesus concluded, "This is how it is with those who pile up riches for themselves but are not rich in God's sight." (Luke 12:21)

When a reporter asked John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in the world at that time,How much money is enough?” He responded, “Just a little bit more.”

Living for SUCCESS and/or MONEY comes to the same end.

You might live for FAME. 

Let me ask you two questions. [No Googling!] 

1) Who ran for Governor against Governor George Deukmejian
2) Who was Harold of Hastings? 

Both were famous . . . for a while. 

Answers: 1) Tom Bradley, then Mayor of Los Angeles.  2) Loser to William of Orange in the Battle of Hastings.

 FAME does not satisfy indefinitely.


Jesus went on to say, "There was once a man who had two sons. The younger one said to him, "Father, give me my share of the property now.' So the man divided his property between his two sons.
After a few days, the younger son sold his part of the property and left home with the money. He went to a country far away, where he wasted his money in reckless living. He spent everything he had. Then a severe famine spread over that country, and he was left without a thing.
So he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him out to his farm to take care of the pigs. He wished he could fill himself with the bean pods the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything to eat. Luke 12:11-16

The story above is known as “The Prodigal Son.” The son was wildly popular for a while. However, it soon became evident that his popularity was based on “things,” not the son himself. In Jesus day, caring for pigs was about the worst job a Jew could imagine. The “popular kid” was stripped of his dignity and ended up a pariah. Well, not really, read verses 17-20; that’s where this part of the parable ends.

The lesson here is that POPULARITY is fickle.

Well then, what about WISDOM? Surely WISDOM is a worthy life goal.
Solomon was the third king of the nation of Israel. He is considered one of the wisest men of all time. When he was anointed as king, he asked God for WISDOM everything else he could have asked for.

“So give me the wisdom I need to rule your people with justice and to know the difference between good and evil. Otherwise, how would I ever be able to rule this great people of yours?” 1 Kings 3:9

Ultimately, WISDOM became its own end.

I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.”
Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. Ecclesiastes 1:16-18

WISDOM sounds like a wise choice, but it does not satisfy.

What are we left with?

How about LOVE? The Beatles sang, “All you need is LOVE.” LOVE must be the answer.

There are three distinct types of LOVE in the Bible. You hear about two of them daily in popular songs—think Beatles. English does not distinguish between the different types. That’s unfortunate.

First. EROS or EROTIC LOVE. Lust is a synonym. This type of LOVE is sexual. Relationships built on EROS last only as long as the physical attraction.

Second. PHILIA or BROTHERLY LOVE is associated with the idea of deep friendship. Philanthropic organizations are based on this concept. 

PHILIA LOVE is, perhaps, the best of all ALLSPICE. However, even PHILIA LOVE is unfulfilling if not reciprocated. It can lead to a feeling of pity for those being given this type of LOVE.

When you harvest from the field of natural desires, all you get is ALLSPICE.

Well, this is a bummer. Thanks for sharing.

Don’t give up yet. 

I purposefully ended the Scripture quote at the beginning in the middle of verse 8. Let’s go back to the Letter to the Galatians and finish Paul’s thought.

If you plant in the field of your natural desires, from it you will gather the harvest of death; if you plant in the field of the Spirit, from the Spirit you will gather the harvest of eternal life. Galatians 6:8

It’s in the “field of the Spirit” that we find CRESCENT WRENCHES.

But, that’s for next blog.

 Oooooh! A cliffhanger!

Next weekALLSPICE and CRESCENT WRENCHES - Conclusion

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