Sunday, September 22, 2019

Hello


Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is a bit of a departure from my normal message style. Something happened that I want to share with all of you, to encourage you to reach out in Jesus’ name.

          Yesterday I published a message on positive attitudes.  From that message I received a very heartfelt email from a sweet friend. She and I go back many years. We didn’t know each super well then. I met her because I was close friends with her brother. Through the years and the quick connect of social media, I have grown closer to her. This morning I read a message from her that tore at my heart.

          The odd thing is I have been reminded of her brother quite often this week. He resides in heaven now and therefore does not need my prayers, so I focused them on his family, in particular his sister. As it turns out, she does need my prayers.*  

          The point of sharing this here is to encourage you to give yourselves over to God’s will and timing. There is no way I could have known so many years ago when I became friends with the brother, that one day God would choose me to stand in the gap for his sister. (Ezekiel 22:30)

          Listen to God. Pray for the people he puts on your heart.  It will bless them but it will also bless you in ways you can’t begin to imagine.

          “A new command I give you; Love one another.  As I have loved you, so your must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35

 

 

*(She needs your prayers too. To protect her privacy I won’t share her name but God knows who she is. Please say a prayer for her.)

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Positve Attitude



Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:5

In our classroom we have a point system for behavior. The things done well earn points; things done poorly or in a negative way take points away and there are things that are just are, neither giving nor taking a point. Recently we added a category to the mix. It’s a potential point earner and the label is, “positive attitude all day/no tattling.”

          Our angels love to point out what the other student is doing or has done wrong. They also love to start arguments with each other and complain about our schedule. (Did I mention that they are pre-teens and ours is a special ED. classroom?) In an attempt to deter conversations about opposing sports teams, politics (Yes, politics, mostly the president.) and racism, we added the positive attitude point getter. It has yet to make a real impact but we remain hopeful.  

          Hopeful that the thought of an extra point will keep them focused on their own behavior with no thought to what the others are doing.  Drop the measuring stick and take off the judge’s robe. Pick up a mirror and take care of you. Oh, and do it without complaining or criticizing. Uh-oh!

          When I look at it that way it shines a light on my life. How many times a day do I judge my brother or sister’s speck and ignore my plank? How often do I engage in less than positive speech? I may not discuss the president but I am quick to talk about a co-worker, family member or friend. If only the whole world could do it my way! My friend Mary and I say that a lot. “Oh everyone should be like us!” It’s said tongue in cheek, usually after we’ve done or said something not terribly bright or helpful. Still, there’s a little truth. If I think I’m right, then it follows that I want you to think and do as I do.

          What if we looked at our behavior on a point system? What if I could get something for being positive more often than negative? What if rather than bringing discord or hurt, I could bring more smiles, joy and peace to the world?  What if I got something for that? Oh, I do! I get to give glory to God who enables me to be a peacemaker and further blesses me for doing it.

          Too often we forget that our actions have both immediate and eternal results. For just one day measure your thoughts and actions as if you were getting points or losing them depending on the nature of those thoughts and actions. In other words, for one day see how often your words and deeds bring glory to God. It’s been eye opening for me and I pray it will be for you as well.

 

 

Friday, September 6, 2019

Keeping Watch


 

So do not fear I am with you;

do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

There is a huge difference in being watched and being watched over. Too many people have a concept of God as judge. They see him as standing nearby watching and waiting for the mistake, the sin that will surely come. When it does he will pounce. “Gotcha’!” That isn’t who God is or how he operates. God is omnipresent, yes, but he is here with us to protect us, guide us and love us.

          We love the words in Romans 8:38-39.  Nothing can separate us from God’s love. That’s sounds great but does he have to watch every move? Yes, yes he does.

          I thought about this the other day when I heard our kindergarten teachers talking about classroom visits from the administrators of our school. For the most part the ladies were rattled. One of the teachers new to our school this year, asked if they pop in often. The atmosphere at that lunch table was a little bit stressed, until one of them spoke and flipped the idea on its head.

          “I see it as them trying to help us. They come in, see what we’re doing and then from a different perspective they can tell us what to do, how to fix stuff that isn’t working.” She went on to say that she does the best that she can each day but it is very open to new ideas. She saw the drop-in visits as fresh eyes and new outlooks. She wasn’t at all threatened and her attitude gave her whole team a new way of seeing things.

          We love the idea of Immanuel, God with us, when we are sad, frightened or lonely. When we’re in sin or contemplating sin or simply just goofing off, we’re not so sure omnipresent works for us. Is God watching and looking for that mistake, that misstep, that sin, just so that he can punish us? No! No, he is not!

          The words of Scripture that tell us that God is always with us are usually accompanied by, “do not be afraid” or “do not be discouraged.”  God is not waiting to attack, he’s waiting to help. God loves us more than we can possibly imagine.

          I love Kelly’s take on the administrator drop-ins, there to help not criticize. I hope that more and more we can all see God’s presence in the same way, here to help, to guide and to lavish love.