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The time I was thrown out of my own classroom.

January 18, 2018

7One of the most famous parts of my teaching year is the week that we have Distraction Speeches.  If you meet any student of mine on the street or at a mall – even if they were in my class twenty years ago – ask them what was the most hated/loved part of Dr. Zockoll’s Bible class and they will no doubt tell you that distraction speeches are tops on the leaderboard.

If you have not had the chance to read any of my previous blogs about this unusual subject, please let me explain:  a distraction speech is a two-or three minute speech on a subject (maybe an overview of the book of Mark, or a verse study from the book of Revelation) that is interrupted by a pre-planned event in the room.  When the student is called upon, he steps out into the hall while I give the other students the timing and the incident that will break into the speaker’s routine.  The purpose of this exercise is to train the speaker how to handle a distraction during a discourse.

The distractions vary widely but are carefully prepared.  Please understand:  I take no suggestions from the students at any time. My distractions have all been catalogued over the years, and although it may not seem to be at first glance, the exercise is organized and specifically timed.  Each speaker is given two ushers to help deal with the problem.

Jerry was in the midst of speaking about Capernaum when two “kindergartners” started fighting over crayons.  Micah was in the final point of a speech on miracles when a “dog” ran into the room, with members crying out about the possibility of rabies.  Jim was about to move into his second point about the Dead Sea Scrolls when an overly eager listener chewed on a pen too hard and “broke” it, spilling ink all over her mouth and making her gag.  There was no ink, of course, but the acting was superb.

I once hid a small ninth grader in an empty crate in the corner of the room with instruction to whistle a short burst every fifteen seconds.  The effect was so confusing that speaker Michelle actually threw everyone out of the room.  “Okay, I’ve had it.  Everyone get out!” Only she and I and Whistle Boy were left.

Speaker Jenny got so frustrated over someone secretly but loudly humming an irritating tone that she started guessing the source and having them removed from the room.  I was in no way the noise-maker, but she threw me out.  “I’m sorry, Dr. Zockoll, but I will not tolerate this kind of distraction.  Ushers, would you please take him out?”  I am not kidding.

In their conclusions, the students admit that it might get nerve-wracking but the lesson is valuable:  In your speech, you know the outline and points; you know how to act.  However, when someone explodes into your carefully-laid organization of thoughts and notes, you must learn how to react.

We all face interruptions.  We really don’t like those intrusions into our otherwise orderly day, do we?

My morning reading today brought this out in full force:  that’s one of the fantastic things about Jesus.  He could handle – and even invite – interruptions. 

Consider the fifth chapter of the book of Mark.  Jairus was a leader of a synagogue who literally threw himself face down and begged, begged Jesus to come and save his dying twelve-year old girl  Time was of the essence!

Yet as they moved purposefully in front of the massive crowd, one jumped into the scene in a desperate way.  A woman suffering a hemorrhage for twelve years -as long as Jairus’ daughter has been alive! – reached and grasped Jesus’ robe with the full faith that she would be healed.

This is a noble interruption, now.  This dear lady had this “unclean” bleeding since Jesus was twenty years old.  She was weak, embarrassed, and depressed.  The ancient laws said that a woman who suffered from bleeding was unclean in society.

I am not exaggerating:  According to Leviticus chapters 12 and 15,  a woman who bled was considered unclean  and unworthy for temple worship for seven days.  This poor woman was unclean for twelve years. 

You know the story.  She was healed.  Jesus showed kindness though He was interrupted.  His kindness (one of my favorite words in any language) overcame His orderliness and direction.

This is an amazing lesson on one of the great things about Jesus.  The Savior will pause to give personal attention because He cares about those who suffer.  He is approachable, always approachable, because He cares so deeply.  He does more than just listen.  He takes action.  He cares.

Look at Matthew 9:36, “When He saw the multitudes He was moved with compassion.”

Look at Matthew 14:14:  “He was moved with compassion.”

Look at Mark 1:41: “He was moved with compassion.”

Mark 8:2 says “I have compassion on the multitude.”

When I was younger I was puzzled by the quote about Jesus found in Matthew 12:20 which is a reference to Isaiah 42:3: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”  I didn’t understand that part of the quotation until I lined it up with the many examples of His compassion.

Your life right now might be bruised from depression or failure.  Thank God that Jesus didn’t come to complete the break and humiliate you;  He reaches out to help.  Your life seems to have lost the flame of joy of Heaven and the love of God because of hurtful circumstances around you in this daily world of disappointment – and indeed, the flame seems ready to go out.  Jesus doesn’t snuff that wick out. Jesus comes to you daily to restore you.  Do you see the joy of Matthew 12:20?  I certainly do.  What a relief to the difficulties, and, yes, the tragedies of life.  Jesus waits for your intrusion of faith.

He doesn’t mind your prayers of interruption, because that’s what He’s about.

So go ahead this morning, have a prayer of interruption and get some help from the Son of God.

He’s ready for you.


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  1. Reblogged this on Brandon J. Adams and commented:
    An incredible piece, hope-inspiring and God-elevating. Take some time and read it.

  2. Oh, I love this post! Brandon referred me here and I’m so glad he did. So much truth acknowledged and many smiles given as I read this! Thank you!

  3. Amen! This was really well said.

    Love how you, “hid a small ninth grader in an empty crate in the corner of the room.” Can we just do that with all the 9th graders now? 🙂

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