In my distress I called to the Lord…Psalm 18:6
If our high school would have had a debate team, I would have been absolutely the last person picked to be on it! I’m amazed at the way some people can eloquently deliberate a topic with conviction and finesse. Still others can bark an opinion and slam you with a defense that leaves your head spinning. I simply smell controversy or conflict and nearly trip over my own feet trying to get away from the conversation! We all have our own opinions and we all have the ability to make choices but that doesn’t mean we are obligated to yell them out. As Christians, it’s up to us to make sure our opinions and choices are based on truth and rooted in Scripture and Church teaching. Seems simple enough right?
As a society we don’t like to be told what to do. We aren’t so good with rules and regulations and I wonder if that is because there are so many voices yackin we can’t even hear the truth anymore. I’m not sure what happened to right and wrong; good and bad but we seem to live in a world full of clauses and sub-groups and exceptions. Some days I think gray is the most popular color in America. A very wise man I know always used to say, “Just do the right thing and keep your mouth shut.” Imagine what would happen if everyone was told to follow that advice for a day! What would happen if everyone was told they couldn’t say one thing for a day unless it was based in truth and steeped in Scripture?
A person could get pretty upset and discouraged with the state of affairs we seem to be in right now; but then that’s exactly what Satan wants. He would be delighted to think he’s reduced us all to a society of bickering, selfish, self-centered, slandering, lying, cheating, stealing idiots. He would be delighted to think we’ve forgotten our mission to seek the truth, live the truth and love the God who created us. Well news flash…WE HAVEN’T! I have come to realize a couple important truths of my own in the last couple days that seemed to yank me right out of my disappointment with our current state of affairs. The first; when we get to heaven we won’t present a summary of our best earthly actions nor will we be judged in groups. We are flying SOLO so it is our sole responsibility to make sure the choices we make and the opinions we base our actions on are in line with the will of the Father. One thing that is not gray…following the will of the Father is often very hard! He cares about our character not our comfort. The second; God is bigger than anything going on here on earth! He’s mightier than any ruling, leader, mandate or current event. He’s the one we should be aligning ourselves with, seeking protection from, gaining wisdom from and hanging on every word from. In order to do that well; to really follow His lead; we need to spend time in conversation with him. What would happen if the next time we see a post, or hear a news report that bubbles up our blood we stopped before reacting and spent a moment or two in prayer. Before we spout off our opinion what if we asked the Holy Spirit to inspire our words to be truthful and steeped in Scripture? God is bigger, richer, stronger and mightier than any of us combined but in order to see all of that clearly revealed to this hurting world, we have to live like we love him and become a world that prays first before anything else!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of three “things”, “people”, or “groups” that seem to bother you most. Your task for the next week is to pray consistently for those three things. In your prayer, ask God to guide your actions and reactions to those three things.
Blessings on your day!
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it. 2 Timothy 3:14
My heart is so full right now I can hardly type! Today I got to be the book ends to the school journey of some truly amazing young men and women. Today I got to see a group of students who were my very first class of 1st graders graduate from high school. The best part was that they invited me to be the speaker at their graduation and it was so much fun talking with my first group of little lovelies on this landmark day. I was asked to give a speech but instead I climbed down from the stage to stand on the field house floor and teach one last lesson to my graduate lovelies!
I spoke today on behalf of an entire community of teachers, bus drivers, school cooks, custodians, parents and grandparents who have invested in these kids for the last 12 years. I got to wish them well, offer some lessons on how to be an amazing human and invite them to be the catalyst for change in this world. In our small community these kids are known by name and they are prayed for and encouraged all along their way. I watched them walk across the stage right in front of me to get their diploma and I saw little backpacks and wide eyed first graders in my mind. It all zoomed by so fast that I felt a catch in my breath wondering if we had taught them all they need to know. I wondered if I did all I could to prepare them to make this world a better place. I prayed I had used well each opportunity I’d been given to help them grow in discipleship.
As I climbed down the steps to be closer to the kids for our last lesson, I remembered the first day they walked into my classroom and I’m pretty sure I was as scared then as I was today. I hoped I could cover my nervous voice and hold back the tears that stung behind my eyes. I hoped that the Holy Spirit would speak through me with the words he wanted them to hear. I felt the weight of responsibility that every teacher feels when they are given a classroom of young people. After the first couple of minutes I began to see their smiles and hear their laughter and every emotion bounding through my mind and my heart was replaced with hope and gratitude. They will do great thing, they will go great places and they will be amazing people! I have great hope that they will use their God given gifts and talents to make the world better. I’m grateful that I had a chance to be a part of their life, a part of their day, a part of their journey to this milestone. I’m grateful to be a teacher, it’s a vocation that reaps rewards that are too many to measure. Mostly I’m grateful that I landed here…in this place…in this community…to do this work. God is so good!
If the PW class of 2018 takes only one thing from todays lesson with them into the world I hope it’s the reminder that changing the world requires three simple things. Be kind, be honest and be grateful. When I give it some thought, that’s probably a great lesson for all of us!
A Seed To Plant: Which of the three things will you focus on today…kind, honest or grateful?
Blessings on your day!
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose HOPE is in the Lord. Jeremiah 17:7
Maybe it’s just a Kansas thing, but growing up I often heard older people talk about the woes of the day and it would very often be followed by the phrase, “It’s all goin’ to hell in a hand basket.” As a kid, I wasn’t even sure what a hand basket was! Then I watched The Wizard of Oz, and when Elmira Gulch showed up on her bike with a basket to take Dorothy’s dog Toto away, I figured out what a “hand basket” was! Among the things on the list of woes were teenagers. It seemed older folks didn’t have much hope in them.
This past weekend I had the privilege of chaperoning two busloads of high school students from our area to a conference at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. We joined more than 2,000 others Friday evening in the university field house and the atmosphere was like a rock concert. Kids clapping and singing their guts out, passing beach balls above their heads all through the crowd and forming human trains and running through the aisles...ELECTRIC is the word that came to mind. (It’s ok if you need to take an aspirin before you read on.) But here is the amazing part, it was praise and worship music…these kids were going crazy for their Faith! Their love of the Lord is what brought them together and fed their frenzy! I was awestruck about 30 minutes later when all those teenagers dropped to their knees on the bleachers and hard gym floor in complete reverent silence to pray, praise , worship and adore the God who had created them! I watched teenagers laugh, pray, weep, and scream with delight as they drew closer, dug deeper and became more connected to Jesus! I’m not sure I even have words yet to describe what I was so blessed to be a part of this weekend. I went to help, but left with more HOPE than I can even describe.
On the 7 hour drive home, I thought about that “hell in a hand basket” phrase and realized that if those teenagers were goin’ somewhere in a hand basket…it sure wasn’t where the older folks from my childhood thought. To be quite honest…we’d all be lucky to climb in the basket with them because they’re goin’ somewhere alright, and based on what I saw this weekend, I wanna go too! The Steubenville Youth conferences will reach more than 40,000 teenagers this summer…talk about setting faith ablaze! This is the generation that will design, construct, operate, manage and decorate the nursing home I’m gonna live in! They are also the generation that is going to renew the spirit of the church and they will do it well!
In a world where bad news is pretty easy to find, today’s verse from the Prophet Jeremiah is the key to settle our troubled hearts. HOPE in the Lord is our comfort! We get worried and anxious about the woes of the day and we forget that our blessings will spring from the trust and HOPE we place in the Lord. Those teenagers I spent the weekend with get it! They renewed my hope because their faith is alive, real and contagious!
A seed to plant: Hope is rooted in God’s plan. Pick three things from your “I’m worried about” list and pray specifically for each one to be blessed by God and then replace the worry with expectant hope!
Blessings on your day!
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