Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Confirmation: Exile and Return

To download and print this lesson click here:  DOWNLOAD

Work through the confirmation Lesson below.  Do the best you can on your own.  If you need help, or if you get stuck send me an email, (, text or call me (610-401-5602).  When you're done, post your answers at the bottom.  When we meet next I will go over this and we'll do an exercise to have some fun with it.  

Exile and Return

My Faith Story
Ask yourself this question: How can I be sure that God is really with me?

Think about a time in your life when you felt as if you were in your own type of "exile." This could be a time when you felt alone or when it felt as though God was a million miles away. How did God's promises of unfailing love, constant presence, and mercy see you through that difficult time?

Open the Bible
Turn in your Bible to Ezekiel 5:5–8. Read these verses. Even though we don't like to think of God as angry and destructive, the prophet Ezekiel spends a lot of time portraying God as instrumental in the destruction of, as well as the redeeming of, Jerusalem.

Q#1: Do you ever find yourself blaming God when things don't go your way?

Now turn to Ezekiel 36:22–32. These verses were written to offer comfort to God's people, who had been taken captive and had seen their homeland destroyed. This event was called the Babylonian exile and it lasted from 597 to 539 B.C.E. On a piece of paper, make a list of things from this passage that prove that God remained faithful to God's people.

Q#2: Do you think these things are important for us to know about God today? Why or why not?

Read about the end of the Babylonian captivity in Ezra 1:1–11. King Cyrus defeated Babylon and established the Persian Empire. He allowed the exiles (Jews) to return to their homeland. Reread verse 1.

Q#3: How does this verse show that God was behind the return?

Lutheran Study Bible page 737: Read and think about the Faith Reflections question.

Lutheran Study Bible page 2106: Look at the map of the Ancient Babylonian Empire. The return to Jerusalem would require a 900-mile (1,440-kilometer) journey from Babylon. Ezra led them on this four-month journey, and when they got to Jerusalem, they were eager to settle in the land and rebuild the temple.

Turn to Nehemiah 2:17. Read this verse aloud. Here we gain additional insight as to why rebuilding the temple was so important. Additionally, we learn that Nehemiah is concerned with restoring not only the temple but also the entire city of Jerusalem. The "disgrace" he refers to comes from the belief that God's people were exiled because they turned away from God. Nehemiah knows that rebuilding Jerusalem will restore power to the people of God. Nehemiah's enemies tried to keep him from succeeding.

Q#4: What tricks did the enemies use? See Nehemiah 4:1–23 and Nehemiah 6:1–13.

Now turn to Ezra 7:10. Again, read this verse aloud. Ezra, a priest, felt that it was not only important to restore Jerusalem in the physical sense but in the spiritual sense as well. Studying and keeping the law was a major concern for Ezra. Ezra focused on studying and teaching the law in this "new" community. The people not only returned to their homeland, but also to their faith, and Ezra wanted to help renew their faith and their mission in the world.

Open the Catechism
On a piece of paper, write the phrase "confession is good for the soul".  Write down what you think this means. Explore how confession reconnects broken relationships. The exile was a time when the sins of Israel separated them from God and from each other. Of the 12 tribes, only one, the tribe Judah (whom we call "the Jews" today), returned from captivity to rebuild their city, their temple and—most importantly—their relationship with God and one another.

Lutheran Study Bible page 753: Check out Nehemiah's prayer in Nehemiah 1:4–11. Then read and think about the Faith Reflection Question about confession.

Student Book page 306: Read together "What is Confession?" Because we sin daily, every day we experience mini-exiles in which we find ourselves separated from those we love. But because of God's forgiveness in Christ, we can also enjoy many happy returns from our daily exiles. Talk about the importance of and difference between public and private confession.

Cartoon Connection

Q#5: What other sorts of exile do we face today?

Q#6: In what ways has God provided inxile for you? Based on the cartoon, create a definition of “inxile” that reflects what you’ve learned today.
Q#7: Read Zechariah 1:1-6. What do you think God meant by the words in verse 3, “Return to me . . . and I will return to you”? How does Zechariah 8:14-23 describe ways we can “return” to God today?
Life Connection
Identify someone you know who is in some kind of exile. Write the person’s name on a sticky note and place it in your Bible. Like the prophets of old, your challenge is to be the voice of God’s hope. How can you bring hope to others? Pick two ways to bring hope to the person on your sticky note this week.


1. In the Babylonian exile, God's people were taken from their land and held captive in the city of . . .
     a. Judah.
     b. London.
     c. Jerusalem.
     d. Babylon.

2. The ancient city of Babylon is currently found in modern-day . . .
     a. Iran.
     b. Iraq.
     c. Turkey.
     d. Ethiopia.

3. When someone is in exile, he or she is . . .
     a. held captive against his or her will.
     b. usually unhappy.
     c. fearful of what will happen to him or her.
     d. all of the above.

4. The time in exile for God's people was more than . . .
     a. 100 years.
     b. 500 years.
     c. 50 years.
     d. 150 days.

5. Ezekiel's images of God included . . .
     a. a God filled with anger.
     b. a God of judgment.
     c. a God of faithfulness.
     d. all of the above.

6. An important thing to remember about the exile is . . .
     a. God was always with God's people.
     b. God stopped loving God's people because they were mean.
     c. God makes bad things happen to us so we will love God more.
     d. Babylon isn't such a bad place to live.

7. A prophet is someone who . . .
     a. works for the Internal Revenue Service.
     b. ignores God and does what he or she wants.
     c. proclaims a message from God.
     d. none of the above.

8. The prophet Zechariah called the people to . . .
     a. learn a new dance move.
     b. repent.
     c. return to God.

     d. both b and c. 

Confirmation: Esther

To download and print this lesson click here:  DOWNLOAD

Work through the confirmation Lesson below.  Do the best you can on your own.  If you need help, or if you get stuck send me an email, (, text or call me (610-401-5602).  When you're done, post your answers at the bottom.  When we meet next I will go over this and we'll do an exercise to have some fun with it.  


My Faith Story

OK, THE Big Question: What do I stand for?

The story of Esther is a story about identity. Esther knew her identity as a Jew in the midst of the Persian empirical culture of the time. She risked her life to save her identity and the identity of her people. What does that mean in terms of today? Think about a time when you felt as if you lost your sense of identity. What does it mean to you to be a Christian in a world that is increasingly non-Christian? Think about your sense of call, what you want to do with your life, and how it is a part of your identity. How do you strive to follow the example of our Lord Jesus in your life?

Open the Bible

Lutheran Study Bible page 774: Esther is one of the best stories in the Bible, with a plot that has many twists and turns, interesting characters, and an ending that makes you feel good. Read "What's the Story?" and "What's the Message?" to provide some background information and set the scene for today's Bible story. King Xerxes is looking for a new queen when he falls in love with Esther, a Jew. But he doesn't know she is a Jew; otherwise he would not have made her queen. Esther's cousin, Mordecai, who is a palace official, learns of a plot to kill the king, and he tells Esther. Esther warns the king, saving his life. But then trouble begins for Mordecai as we pick up the story in Esther 3.

Read Esther 3:1–8:8 and answer the following questions:

Question 1: Esther was the newly appointed queen when she discovered that the king had ordered the destruction of the Jewish people. What did Mordecai ask her to do, and what was the risk to her?

Question 2: Who are the people you most admire in this story? Why? How would you describe them—what are their identities?

Question 3: Who are the villains and heroes in this story?

Question 4: How did good win out over evil?

Question 5: What kind of evil happens in the world today? What happens if Christians are silent about this evil?

Question 6: How can Christians speak out against evil? Think about how you can speak out about faith in school, at home, and in their communities.

Open the Catechism

Write "Despair" on a piece of paper. When things start to go wrong for us, and it seems as if they just keep getting worse, we may get discouraged and lose all sense of hope. We despair, and our despair feeds on itself to pull us down even further until there seems to be no way out. Esther and Mordecai must have felt despair along with all the Jews that were living in exile.

Question 7: How do we try to prevent despair from happening? What part does prayer play in the answer?

Student Book page 303: Read the sixth petition of the Lord's Prayer. We pray that God would watch over us so that we are not drawn into such things as false belief and despair, no matter how attractive the temptation may be. God doesn't say there will be no temptations, but God shows us grace every day by rescuing us when we need to be pulled out of our despair.

Cartoon Connection

Question 8: Who was planning a big surprise for the Jews but ended up being the one surprised?
Question 9: Even though God’s name isn’t mentioned in Esther, how do you know God was present?
Question 10: In a day when women were powerless, what was surprising about Esther?
Life Connection
Standing up for what you really believe might be hard sometimes. Start small. Every time you notice something you want to stand up for this week, write it down. You’ll be surprised what that list can reveal about what you believe.

Choose the true statement for each pair of statements.

1a. Xerxes is the name of a remote village in Siberia.

1b. Xerxes is the king who ruled over 127 provinces.

2a. Mordecai’s cousin was Ezra.

2b. Mordecai’s cousin was Esther.

3a. Mordecai uncovered a plot to kill King Xerxes.

3b. Mordecai uncovered a plot to kill all the Jews.

4a. Haman was a godly man who worshipped the Lord.

4b. Haman was a wicked man who wanted to kill the Jews.

5a. Haman had a gallows built because he wanted to hang Mordecai.

5b. Haman had a gallows built because the town needed a new ride in its amusement park.

6a. When King Xerxes discovered that Mordecai had saved his life, he made Haman honor Mordecai.

6b. When King Xerxes discovered that Mordecai had saved his life, he quickly forgot about
it and did nothing.

7a. Haman begged Mordecai to save him.

7b. Haman begged Queen Esther to save him.

8a. Purim is a festival celebrating God’s deliverance.

8b. Purim is what your pet cat does.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Super Bowl Hoagie Sale

Enjoy a hoagie during the 
Super Bowl

Choose from:
Italian or American

Place orders by calling Denise
Pick them up February 2nd 
after worship

Confirmation: A Split Kingdom

To download and print this lesson click here:  DOWNLOAD

Work through the confirmation Lesson below.  Do the best you can on your own.  If you need help, or if you get stuck send me an email, (, text or call me (610-401-5602).  When you're done, post your answers at the bottom.  When we meet next I will go over this and we'll do an exercise to have some fun with it.  

A Split Kingdom

My Faith Story
Why does God let us all fight so much?

Think of a time when you found yourself in disagreement with someone you cared about. Maybe it was a family member or a friend or a member of your church. What issue or topic did you disagree about? What was at stake for you in the conflict? How long did you and this other person disagree? Was it painful for you to be at odds with someone you cared about? Were you able to resolve the conflict? If so, how did the resolution come about? Did you find an agreeable compromise?

Open the Bible
Open your Bible to 1 Kings 11. Read verses 1–4 to set the scene for what was about to happen then read verses 9–10. Finally, read verses 11–13 to discover God's response to Solomon. Because of Solomon's unfaithfulness to God and the unfaithfulness of the people, God warned that the once-united kingdom of Israel would split apart and come to an end. When Solomon died, most of his kingdom was ruled by someone other than his son, as God had said would happen if Solomon did not stop worshipping idols.

Question 1: What did Solomon do to upset God, and what was God's response to Solomon?
Question 2: Why do you think God chose to remove the kingdom not from Solomon, but from his son Rehoboam?
Question 3: Why do you think Rehoboam was punished for the sin of his father?
Question 4: Even though God punished Solomon and Rehoboam, what was the promise God made to them? Why did God offer this silver lining?
Question 5: Would you say that Solomon was a good king or a bad king?

Lutheran Study Bible pages 2102, 2105. The map "The Twelve Tribes of Israel" shows where the original tribes (sons of Jacob) settled, and the map "The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah" shows the split kingdom. You will note that the Northern Kingdom, Israel, had a lot more territory than the Southern Kingdom, Judah.
Question 6: In which kingdom is Jerusalem, the religious center?
The thing that unified the 12 tribes was the common worship of the one God, and that worship was centered in Jerusalem. Without that religious tie, the kings and the kingdom could not last. As the people strayed from faithfulness to God, things went from bad to worse. The nation split and became prey to stronger nations nearby.

Read 1 Kings 12:1–14. Solomon had imposed high taxes and slave labor on the people of Israel. After Solomon died, Jeroboam asked King Rehoboam to "lighten the yoke" placed on his people. Rehoboam refused. This strategy was perhaps the last straw. The ten northern tribes split off and formed their own kingdom. They chose Jeroboam as king of the Northern Kingdom, Israel. Rehoboam was left with the Southern Kingdom, Judah. Once Israel had established a worship center in the Northern Kingdom, there was no longer a need for the people to travel to Judah for worship in Jerusalem.

The kings who followed often refused to obey God's law and were unfaithful to God. We have an example of two kings of Judah in 2 Chronicles 33. For almost all of his reign, Manasseh was one of the least God-fearing kings. Read 2 Chronicles 33:1–20. Manasseh desecrated the temple and practiced human sacrifice. The people he ruled were more evil than ever before. But at one point, the king had a change of heart; perhaps he was sincere or perhaps he feared for his life. Despite what he had done before, God was willing to forgive him and restore him to the throne in Jerusalem.
Question 7: What does this tell you about God and God's grace?
While God punishes evil and unfaithfulness, God also forgives and restores. The prophets of the Old Testament warned the people that their punishment for unfaithfulness would be to be captured and exiled by their enemies. But God would forgive them and lead them back to Jerusalem where they could once again be a shining light to other nations.

Open the Catechism
Reflecting on today's Bible story, what were the Israelites and their kings, the people of God, tempted to do? What evil resulted? Make a list. What tempts you? Why doesn't God just take away all temptation from us?

Here We Stand Student Book page 304: Read the seventh petition of the Lord's Prayer.
Question 8: In your words, what are we asking for in this petition?
We are asking God to watch over us so that we don't get lured into temptations that can result in our being unfaithful to God. God doesn't remove temptations from our lives, but God gives us what we need when we are tempted—grace. God takes us as we are, sinners who don't always resist temptation, and forgives us, time and time again. That grace of God we receive in God's word and the sacraments. When we are weak, God's word makes us strong and able to overcome all the temptations we face. 
Cartoon Connection

Question 9: Do you think both the northern tribes and the southern tribes

thought they had God on their side?
Question 10: Do you ever think you have a better idea than God’s plan?
Question 11: Is it ever good to question authority?
Life Connection
Solomon asked God for wisdom and was granted a wise and discerning mind. For what will you ask God? Make a short list on a piece of paper and tape it to your mirror, dresser, or some other place where you will see it every day. Include asking for those things in your ongoing conversations with God. We live in a conflicted world. At times it can seem that unless you agree with someone about everything, you can’t be his or her friend. Are you currently having a hard time relating to another person—parent, sibling, friend, teacher, enemy?
How can you embrace the differences you might have with this person and still get along? Is there any hope for resolving this conflict?

Word Scramble
1. SLMNOOO             __ __ __ __ __ __ __

2. MOORABEH          __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

3. MOORABEJ           __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

4. AILJEH                   __ __ __ __ __ __

5. SAMCSDAU           __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

6. EOSHHHAAPTJ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

7. ZIHHAAA                __ __ __ __ __ __ __

1. 1 Kings 11:9 Man who made God angry.
2. 1 Kings 12:6 Became king after his dad died.
3. 1 Kings 12:20 Leader of Israel.
4. 1 Kings 17:1 Predicted a drought.
5. 1 Kings 19:15 Where God sent Elijah.
6. 1 Kings 22:41 Leader of Judah when 1 Kings ends.
7. 1 Kings 22:51 Leader of Israel when 1 Kings ends.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Confirmation: David & Nathan

To download and print this lesson click here:  DOWNLOAD

Work through the confirmation Lesson below.  Do the best you can on your own.  If you need help, or if you get stuck send me an email, (, text or call me (610-401-5602).  When you're done, post your answers at the bottom.  When we meet next I will go over this and we'll do an exercise to have some fun with it.  

David and Nathan

My Faith Story
Is God involved in the lives of powerful people today?

Think about a time you did something wrong and someone called you to task for it. How did it feel to be shown the error of your ways? How did you respond? Did you admit your mistake (sin) and feel sorry for having done it? How did it feel to be forgiven? You are often told to apologize when they do something wrong or hurt someone. Think about how you can make apologies more meaningful so that they help change behavior and improve relationships. In today's story we will focus on David's reaction when Nathan, representing God and God's anger with David, called him on his sins.

Open the Bible
Read 2 Samuel 11:14–27. This section picks up David's story after he sinned by sleeping with Bathsheba, Uriah's wife. When Bathsheba became pregnant, David sent for Uriah, hoping he would go to his house and sleep with Bathsheba. This would be a way for David to cover up the fact that he was the father of Bathsheba's baby. But Uriah did not go to his house, so David planned to cover up his sinful actions by having Uriah killed in battle.
Question 1: What were the unjust things that David did in this part of the story?
Question 2: What do you think of David and his actions?
Question 3: David won many military battles throughout the country. Why do you think he failed so badly with his life at home?

Read 2 Samuel 12:1–25. Once God had enough of David's abuse of power, God sent Nathan to David to tell him a parable so that David would recognize his sin. As a prophet, Nathan brought God's words of both warning and promise. The warning came true, and David's life going forward was full of unhappiness and family conflict. But God also forgave David and kept his promise to David that his descendants would be kings.
Question 4: How might Nathan have felt approaching David?
Question 5: Was it fair what happened to David in the end? To David and Bathsheba's baby?
Question 6: What does God promise David in 2 Samuel 7:12?

Lutheran Study Bible page 516: Read the Lutheran Perspectives sidebar "What are the two parts of repentance?" Name the two parts of repentance. How did David experience both parts? Repentance must have been difficult for David since he was the king and he commanded people to do whatever he wanted. Do you find repentance difficult? Which part is the most difficult?

The story of David and Bathsheba is a difficult one because of the issues of sexuality and temptation it raises, and also because it presents a very unflattering picture of King David. Think about how the Bible does not gloss over the shortcomings of biblical heroes. Other examples are Abraham, Jonah, and Peter. What does this honest portrayal of human sin and frailty say about God and God's grace? God continues to make promises to God's people, in spite of their flaws and misuse of power. What can we learn for today's world from God's promises and faithfulness to David?

Open the Catechism
 Student Book page 296: In today's lesson, David is guilty of breaking at least three commandments. Review the Ten Commandments and make a note of the three that David broke with his actions in today's story. Make a note of the broken commandments in the order in which David broke them, noting the progression of sin and evil.

Commandment 10, coveting your neighbor's wife: While few people have menservants and maidservants, or cattle, coveting is dangerous. When you want what belongs to others, you can't be with them without envy and suspicion. God forbids coveting to maintain order in our community.

Commandment 6, committing adultery: God's intent is for sexual relations to be a part of marriage. Just as God protects life in our communities, God protects our friendships and our love, the things that are dearest to us.

Commandment 5, committing murder: God gives life, and since life is God's gift, God doesn't want anyone else to take it away. God not only forbids killing; God forbids anything that even comes close to it.

Cartoon Connection

Question 7: Was it fun to be a prophet?
Question 8: Was it profitable to be a prophet?
Question 9: Is it risky to be a prophet today?
Life Connection
Find a speech given by a politician or world leader on TV or the web, and watch it this week. Write down responses to these three questions: What are three important things this leader is saying to the people? How does this leader compare to David? What can this leader do to better follow God’s message? Share your findings in class next week.

Quiz Show
1. David was a powerful man because he . . .
     a. won the state lottery.
     b. was king of Judah.
     c. was king of Israel.
     d. had a large army.

2. The two most important people in today's story are . . .
     a. Nathan and Bathsheba.
     b. Nathan and David.
     c. David and Uriah.
     d. David and Bathsheba.

3. Nathan was a . . .
     a. prophet.
     b. soldier in David's army.
     c. judge.
     d. traveling salesman.

4. The political, cultural, and religious center of Israel at this time was . . .
     a. Bethlehem.
     b. Rome.
     c. Joppa.
     d. Jerusalem.

5. David's sin was . . .
     a. coveting.
     b. adultery.
     c. murder.
     d. all of the above.

6. Nathan was sent to . . .
     a. kill Uriah.
     b. save Uriah from death.
     c. confront David about his sin.
     d. all of the above.

7. After meeting with Nathan, David . . .
     a. confessed his sin.
     b. put Nathan in prison.
     c. had a dream about his son's death.
     d. had a great feast.

8. David's son who would go on to be the next king was . . .
     a. Joab.
     b. Saul.
     c. Solomon.

     d. David Jr.