Monday, February 27, 2012

the knowledge project

Anyone who knows me knows that my life has been consumed by The Knowledge Project for about the past 18-20 months.  There have been a lot of questions about the what and why of it, so I'll just take a moment and attempt to give a brief explanation...

As with any program or method, the 21st century presents huge challenges in attempting to take advantage of communication and teaching techniques which are changing at the speed of light! What worked 50 years ago, or 40 or 30 or even 10 years ago must constantly be updated in order to be as the children of Issachar and have "an understanding of the times." (1 Chronicles 12:22)

So, with Hosea 4:6 having been my life verse for more than 20 years (" people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...") and realizing that our discipleship/Sunday School/teaching system at POA needed a timely makeover, The Knowledge Project was born.

We felt that the last 25 years or so has seen a splintering of families and ages within the church, to the extent that communication has been hindered. We have become increasingly convicted that this is not Biblical. The plan of God is a multi-generational plan, with older teaching younger, and younger working alongside older, and the family unit exuding strength and unity and solidarity with the church.  Although they are useful and are a great additional resource, the youth group or the Sunday School class or the retreat should never assume preeminence over the home or church as a whole.

So, while our communication and teaching methods needed an overhaul, we also needed a jarring reminder of what the Bible is and what Deuteronomy 6:7-12 means to us in the 21st century.

And since I have a tendency to make anything I touch hard and involved and complicated, The Knowledge Project was born. :-)

Simply stated, the Knowledge Project is discipleship at the Pentecostals of Alexandria.

So far, it has consisted of 3 phases:


Launched in the fall of 2010, Phase 1 is the Module Phase. Each spring and fall, several 4-week modules are taught on the POA campus by various teachers. The modules are 90-minute classes taught at various times during the week--day, evening, Wednesday nights Bible study, Saturdays--and have a variety of focuses.  Some that have been taught include the Tabernacle Plan, Prayer Basics, Evangelism Basics, How to Teach a Home Bible Study, Eat This Book, Becoming a Woman of Influence, Old Testament and New Testament overview, Basic Apostolic Doctrine, and more.

This will be an ongoing phase to which we hope to add many, many more subjects. This will be the phase which will feed the growing Christian.

We are currently working on establishing these modules online as well for those who cannot come to the POA campus and take the course in a live setting. We will be announcing this as it gets closer to becoming a reality.


The Sunday School department of the POA has experienced growth and success for many years, but has not seen a major revamp of teaching methods in about 30 years.  The efforts of incredibly dedicated and faithful teachers have insured a wonderful environment of love and learning for our children. As time has passed, different programs and events have emerged in addition to our Sunday School and it became time to consolidate our efforts and resources.

Phase 2 of the Knowledge Project brings our children (grades K-5th) together in the same rooms and facilities for everything they do. A massive re-modeling project providing a central kids auditorium (Kids Central) as well as several breakout rooms for activities to reinforce the stories and concepts have been created. Sunday's lesson and breakout sessions will be reinforced in the 1-hour kids service on Wednesday nights in order to give as much repetition to the concepts as possible.

Our first Sunday in our new facilities is this coming Sunday, March 4. To say we are excited would be an understatement.


Phase 3 of the Knowledge Project is the most extensive and time-consuming.

Because we have been convinced that our families need to learn together and the church needs to be unified in their focus and purpose, we have created the Knowledge Project Curriculum which will also be implemented for the first time next Sunday, March 4.

Across the POA campus next Sunday morning, every teacher will be teaching the same lesson. The same concepts, the same memory verse, the same Bible story example--it will all be the same from Kindergarten through the senior citizens' class. Books will be provided to the students which include the lesson, the stories, and discussion starters for family night, meal times, and small groups. Suggestions for how to carry the lesson out in our neighborhoods as well as through global missions is there. Testimonies and stories of POA members through the years who have had events and miracles in their lives related to the lessons are there. A complete section is included for each lesson which provides a page per day for a personal, private devotion based on scriptures and thoughts from the previous Sunday's lesson.

We just simply cannot wait.

Although everything always works better on paper than it does in actuality, we are prepared to take the glitches with the good, because we are so convinced of the effectiveness of this curriculum for this hour.

Our first series is "Sure Foundations" and the five lessons include lessons on: the Word, prayer, fasting, stewardship, and communion.  The central Bible story for the series is the wise man who built his house upon the rock.

The team that is creating this incredible collection is God-ordained.

Work? Oh my! We have staggered under the load.

Worth it? Absolutely!

It's always worth it when you give your time to something that will outlive you.

"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my Word shall not pass away..."
~Matthew 24:35

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge:
because thou hast rejected knowledge,
I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me:
seeing thou has forgotten the law of they God,
I will also forget thy children."
~Hosea 4:6

© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock

Saturday, February 25, 2012

plate spinning

Plate spinning is a circus manipulation art where a person spins plates, bowls and other flat objects on poles, without them falling off.  Plate spinning relies on the gyroscopic effect, in the same way a top stays upright while spinning.

The unbroken world record for spinning multiple plates, verified as a Guinness World Record is held by David Spathaky, assisted by Debbie Woolley, who spun 108 plates simultaneously in Bangkok, Thailand on television in 1996.

It was broken over a period of 14 months in 2011 and 2012 by Melani Shock who spun human bodies in a vicious cycle at an unprecedented rate of relentless speed and reckless abandon.

Although no plates are broken as of this writing, it is only by the mercies of God and she is in a closet repenting.

© 2012 by Melani Brady Shock

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

smoak signals...

Richard and Pam Smoak are missionaries to Tanzania. Their son, Gordon, goes to college about an hour away from where we live and is an all-around great kid.  We have known the Smoaks for a long time and they are doing a wonderful work in Africa.

From time to time, Pam sends out emails to several people. She doesn't have a blog and these emails have a way of reaching into your mind and painting pictures.  She gave me permission to copy some of them here from time to time.  I'm sure you will enjoy them just as much as I do.

The traffic leaving downtown Nairobi was at a standstill.  Noisy, fuming busses and trucks idled on either side of us; their rumbling diesel motors vibrated our Cruiser.  We were running late leaving town.  A morning appointment had been delayed.  Last minute purchases and traffic, always traffic in Nairobi, ate up time.
At last, just past Nyayo Stadium, the traffic thinned; we were moving.  Not for long.  A stalled 18 wheeler blocked half the road.  The other lane and both shoulders were crammed with taxis, mini-bus transports, cars and delivery vans trying to go around the big truck.  We were at a standstill, again.
Since leaving the Sarit Centre mall, I had felt an uneasiness.  I was more nervous than usual, which is normally a lot, in Nairobi traffic and just felt a warning in my spirit.  Inching by the lorry, Richard and I both began talking at the same time.  We both expressed a doubt about continuing on our trip home to Moshi so late in the day.  Unanimously, we voted to turn around even before we got to the airport on the edge of town.  We returned to our hotel and left early the next morning.
After crossing the Kenya/Tanzania border the next morning, we started seeing signs of recent flooding. At one point the road was washed away and we had to divert upriver to cross.  Just before the city of Arusha, the road was clogged with lorries, tour vehicles, private cars and motorcycles.  In the torrential rain of the afternoon before, another river had flooded over a bridge sweeping away pedestrians, bicyclists and animals and depositing 2-3 feet of mud.  Vehicles had been stranded there all night and through the second day.  If we had continued the day before, leaving Nairobi late, we would have been stranded or worse, swept away downstream. 
Looking back on that trip, I must ask myself, “Did an angel stall that truck in Nairobi?”  Richard and I both had been ignoring the nudging of the Spirit not to travel.  It was the stalled lorry and that last delay that made us postpone our journey to Moshi.  We would have been traveling through those raging rivers during the hardest part of the rain.
Did an angel tinker with that truck's engine?  Was it angelic intervention and protection?  Maybe.

© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock

Sunday, February 12, 2012

reading: so many choices, so many questions

I recently received a question from someone who was honestly requesting feedback about a topic that has become quite a hot button among modern, Christian readers. It went something like this:

Why do people of our religious belief recommend books 
authored by those who do not hold to our doctrinal beliefs 
and who, through their study and research, 
do not agree with the Apostolic doctrine and, at times, speak ill of it?

I think this was a very valid question that deserves honest reflection.

(Just for the record, I guess this is a good place to say that I have yet to read a book, an article, or a study in which I agreed with the author, apostolic or otherwise, one hundred percent. I always find at least a little something that I disagree with!)

I addressed this issue in a post I made at the end of 2009.  You can read that post by clicking on this link:

In that post, I maintained that it is the personal responsibility of the reader to process everything they read through the filter of the Word. I said:

"It would be interesting as well as scary and horrifying to know how many well-meaning people with an intense hunger to know God were led off the path into the the side roads of humanism, self-adulation, and dependence on abilities and marketing instead of the Spirit, all because of what they fed their mind on a daily basis.  
Every book must be processed through the filter of the Word.  
Every innovative idea must be processed through the filter of the Word.  
Every emphatic re-discovered "truth" must be processed through the filter of the Word.  
Otherwise, our souls will soon become a product of of our culture, and the eternal will be swallowed up in the slick, and our lives will become worthless, empty, clanging bells. But there is no way to process all the new books and ideas through the filter of the Word if we don't KNOW the Word. If it isn't hidden in our hearts. If we don't read it over and over and over again to allow the layers of revelation it contains to overwhelm us fresh and new every morning."
I have not changed my position in that regard. I still maintain that so much misdirection occurs when good people read bad stuff and don't know it's bad stuff because they don't know the Word.
The problem does not lie with their desire to grow or do better--the problem lies in the fact that they do not have the Word hidden in their heart and, consequently, do not have the filter of the Logos through which the "stuff" can pass.
As far as whether or not we should read authors who do not agree with us doctrinally, I think the Word itself provides that answer. Paul talked about reading after the authors of the day when he spoke on Mars Hill in Acts 17:28 and told them that "certain of your own poets have said." In 2 Timothy 4:13, he also asked Timothy to bring him his coat and his "books, especially the parchments" when he came to see him in prison. It only stands to reason that those books were not all authored by ones who had accepted Jesus Christ as Lord. They were probably copies of Old Testament writings, but as evidenced by his knowledge of the Greek poets on Mars Hill, they almost certainly included books authored by Greek philosophers.

It is my opinion that the answer lies in how well one has metabolized the Word.  

The Word is the filter.

We must apply the same filter to the writings of those who do not share our doctrine that we do to conferences, sermons, and music of those that do not share our doctrine.

We must make a clear, distinct difference between "directional voices" and "inspirational voices."

The Word draws the line for us.