We celebrated Valentine's Day on Thursday. A day of showing those we love, that we love them. The kiddos really enjoy this day, as do the teachers. We receive joy in watching the children share their love with the important people in their lives.
We are here for the children. We are here to show them we love them. We are here to protect them. We are here for a multitude of reasons. Mainly, we are here to show them the love of the LORD. We are here to show them the GREATER LOVE! We are here to show them what the LORD did for them. We are here to show them Jesus and then let the Holy Spirit do His work.
We spend the year teaching the students about the Greater Love, the love that Christ gave us, the love of His laying His life down for us.
While we might not be called to lay our life down for another, we are called to do for others. We are called to love not just one day of the year but every day. We are called to show the love that Christ showed us to others. We are called not to ask about the person we are showing our love to but to show that love to them simply because Christ first loved us (1 John 4:19)
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Over the course of my teaching career I have been blessed with many leaders, guides, and mentors. They have all made an impression on me. At times I have wondered why these amazing people have given some of the assignments to the staffs on which I have served.
When I taught in Western New York, I worked with a wonderful principal, for one year. He often handed out "strange assignments" during our faculty meetings.
He would say one day next week I'm going to assign you to a random classroom without any warning, or for one day you must teach without any text books, worksheets, or support materials. He would pick the day and tell us on that day. We would have to be prepared to work in either a setting we had to adapt to/or an unfamiliar setting. Needless to say, many on the staff grumbled when he would do this.
The questions and statements always came up "Why? We're experienced teachers, we don't need these kinds of exercises!"
Our principal was training us for a path we might have to walk someday.
He was right, we would face experiences where we had to think on our feet, where we wouldn't always be prepared and have the best, near-best, or even close the to best of everything.
Over the years, I've often thanked the LORD for this mentor, as he taught me not only how to work in extreme settings, like we've had these past couple of weeks, but he taught me what the Bible Parable about the "Ten Virgins", Matthew 25:1-13, is about. Yogi Helming (no relation, different spelling) taught us how to always be prepared.
He taught us that in our calling as church workers we must be prepared, that we don't know what the day, or hour might bring. He taught us that we must be prepared to give an account in and of our faith. He taught us that we can not build up our faith for another. He taught us we must lead by example. He taught that our being prepared will lead others to be prepared.
Shortly after I left Martin Luther Christian School in Western NY Yogi contracted cancer. He led in this area too, by his faith. He faced this disease with strength and dignity. He knew his LORD and Savior. There was no doubt when he passed from this world into the next, that the next world was that where his Savior & our Savior, Jesus is. I know that Yogi is there. I know because he was one whose lamp was full.
What are you being trained for? What are you being challenged to do? Where will it lead you? Where will it lead your children? Let the LORD guide you.
In today's world these, two words often seem at odds. How can one serve and still be a leader? This week the students in some of the classrooms have been learning about just such a man. This man was someone who served the needs of others. He did this when times were good. He did this when times were tough.
Dr. King was a servant-leader. He was taught how to serve others by his parents. He was taught by his father, a pastor. He was taught by example. The examples were taught at home. The examples were based on what his parents taught him from the Bible.
He was taught by the examples of the greatest servant-leader, our LORD. Jesus came into the world to save us. He came into the world to show us the Good News of Salvation. He showed us how to live. John 3:17 says For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Matthew 20:27-28 tells us that Jesus came not be served, but to serve and to give His life up for many.
We know how Dr. King fought for equality for all. We know how Dr. King fought for the rights of all through civil disobedience. We know about Dr. King's marches. We know a lot about his public person. There is a lot written about this great man. Just one search this morning on Google for "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." turned up over 108 million hits.
We consider Dr. King a hero!
Dr. King had heroes as well. Three of his heroes were: Martin Luther (1483-546) Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) and Gandhi (1869-1948). From these three men he learned many things. He learned more about his faith and how to handle events in his life in a peaceful manner. Dr. King was no stranger to having to "turn the other cheek". Dr. King was a man of principles. He held his views high and expected that of those around him. Dr. King inspired a whole generation of people to look at their neighbor differently. He inspired a whole generation in history of people to move out of what we now call a "comfort zone" and do something different. I know he influenced my husband, as a college student to travel to Birmingham, AL during a turbulent time and register voters.
Although Dr. King held these three men in high regard, he didn't get his beliefs from them or those around him. Ultimately what he believed came from what he was taught by his parents as a child - What they taught him from the Bible.
When Dr. King was questioned about who he was, or what he considered most important in his life his first answers didn't have to do with what he had accomplished or the changes he made. His first response was that he was a Baptist minister. He was first and foremost a child of the LORD's. What he saw in people was that all were equal in the sight of the LORD. We are all equal in our sin and we are all equal in our forgiveness through Christ. Dr. King knew this, believed this, and practiced this.
When Dr. King faced the hard times in his life, it was to the Word that he went, it was to other ministers of different denominations that he went - to whom he reached out.
As we celebrate or remember Dr. King this Monday, January 21, 2019, in whatever way(s), take the time to thank the LORD for placing Dr. King in a time in history when he could speak out. Christ said," There is no greater love, than to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:13)
Take a moment and read the "I Have A Dream" speech. Take a moment and look closely to see how much Dr. King referred to words from the Bible.
As we enter a New Year, how do we handle the stresses and the challenges that we will face? They are often the same challenges that we faced at the stroke of midnight when the calendar went from 2018 to 2019. Just because the calendar year changed, doesn't mean our lives changed.
How do we handle the joys, disappointments, the ups & the downs in life?
We are instructed in 1 Peter that we are to always be ready to give an account for what we believe. But do our actions truly show what we believe?
Here are some examples and what God might say in reply:
You say: "It's impossible"
God says: "All things are possible"(Luke 18:27)
You say: "I'm too tired"
God says: "I will give you rest"(Matthew 11:28-30)
You say: "Nobody really loves me"
God says: "I love you"(John 3:16 & John 3:34)
You say: "I can't go on"
God says: "My grace is sufficient"(2 Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)
You say: "I can't figure things out"
God says: "I will direct your steps" (Proverbs 3:5-6)
You say: "I can't do it"
God says: "You can do all things" (Philippians 4:13)
You say: "I'm not able"
God says: "I am able" (2 Corinthians 9:8)
You say: "I can't forgive myself"
God says: "I forgive you" (I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)
You say: "I'm always worried and frustrated"
God says: "Cast all your cares on ME" (I Peter 5:7)
You say: "I feel all alone"
God says: "I will never leave you or forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5)
Remember John 3:17 says "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
I heard a Christian musician once say, that when she complains about this not being her day, her dad tells her, it's not, it's the LORD's day.
Psalm 118:24 - This is the day the LORD has; We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 136:1a O give thanks to the LORD
Small Business Saturday.
All but one of these are new since I grew up. We had Thanksgivng Day and then the day after was the day all the stores surprised us with their Christmas displays.
So much has changed over the years, but yet it still stays the same. Families look forward to getting together for the Thanksgiving holiday. Many of my family and friends tell me Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. They say this is the day "nothing" is expected of them. My question is "Really?" So many people set expectations for this day of family.
They have forgotten it was a day set aside to give thanks.
Why do we have to have expectations on the holidays? We plan, and plan, and plan, and then are disappointed.
We put our faith in what others should be doing in relation to what we have done for them.
Let's look at each of the above days.
Thanksgiving - giving thanks for what the LORD has given to us!
Black Friday - getting as much as we can possibly get. This has often turned into an example of the 9th and 10th Commandments' examples on greed.
Small Business Saturday - supporting those independent businesses in our community.
Cyber Monday - again, a way to get the best we can (often for our own benefit)
Giving Tuesday- Helping out others, usually a charitable organization.
Are we using the Thanksgiving season in a way that would please the LORD?
Black Friday was so named because this is the day that many businesses count on finally going into the "black" for the year.
We too have a Black Friday. This is a day when the sky turned dark, the ground shook, the Temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. This is the day that our LORD was crucified and put into the tomb. This is the day that all seemed lost. The followers of Christ gathered together, but they didn't do so to celebrate. They did so in fear. Then, like in the days when I was growing up, came the day (Sunday) of an "unveiling." This unveiling was different. While the stores after Thanksgiving had their windows all decorated, this unveiling had an angel telling the women, "He is not here! He is risen, just as he said!"
Let us put our faith in the risen LORD and not be disappointed! Let us enjoy the holiday celebrations!
Let us remember what we are celebrating as we go from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
Let us remember to set the example that we want children to learn from.
Let us remember the baby in the manger that lived His life for us.
Let us live our lives for Him
Let us read Psalm 136, where each verse ends, "His love endures forever."
Five loaves and two fish, that's all it took to be a good neighbor!
It had been a long day and the people had been listening to a rabbi (teacher) speaking. As far as we know most hadn't prepared a meal to bring with them and they were hungry! What were they to do?
The teacher had an idea! He asked his followers for advice and they were NO HELP! But the teacher had an idea. He called over a little boy who had a lunch with five small loaves of bread and two small fish. It couldn't have been much as it was his lunch.
The teacher had those assembled sit down in groups of fifty. He then blessed the food. He and His followers passed out the food. When everyone had had enough, they collected the remains and there were twelve baskets left that day. The number that was fed was about five thousand men (we don't know how many women and children there were in the group). This teacher was of course, Jesus! This history is of course the feeding of the 5,000!
Just think what Jesus did with so little!
It was a tough year and many friends and family are no longer around They have died, due to the extreme living conditions. They were among strangers who seem to be kind and helpful. Many speak a different language than they did; thankfully, there are those among them that understand your language.
They wanted to invite them to join as they gave thanks to the God, they know to be true. Yet this group of strangers didn't worship the same. They weren't certain they would join in the celebration. If these new-found friends do show up, there might not be enough food.
Yet, that is what happened 487 years ago in 1621, when the Pilgrims gathered together to give thanks that the LORD brought them through the harsh winter of 1620. Half of their family and friends had died. The LORD showed them the compassion of the Wampanoag Native Americans when they, the Pilgrims, were strangers in a strange land.
The Pilgrims were escaping religious persecution in England. The Pilgrims were scared. This was a new, unknown place.
The Wampanoags did not see the Pilgrims as a threat because they had seen many ships come and go. What was different with this group was that the Pilgrims brought their women and children with them. What they did for the Pilgrims in befriending them was part of their culture. As a result, both groups ended up working together that first year.
The Pilgrims knew that the only way they were able to survive the year of hardship was by the Grace of God. When they decided to give thanks to the LORD, it was natural to share this with their helpers - the Wampanoags. What the Pilgrims did not expect was the arrival of more than 90 Wampanoags.
The Wampanoags did not arrive empty handed. They made sure there was enough food for all. Again, the LORD provided. They turned a little into a lot.
The sharing & togetherness, the reaching out to one another was an example of "loving their neighbor" even though they were from very different backgrounds.
The Pilgrims had to make many choices in their lives for their families. These choices ended in tragedy in at least half of the families. They faced the unknown with the KNOWN - the KNOWN GOD. This is what took them through their first year and many more years.
We too have many choices to make as we face the unknown with our KNOWN God.
This Thanksgiving season, your children are choosing to bring in nonperishable items for people they don't know, for people they know won't have as much. They are being good neighbors, "Good Samaritans"! Let us always remember to give thanks to the LORD and to teach our children to reach out to those that need us.
Our children know who their neighbors are. They are those the LORD has called them to help. They have answered the call, "Here am I, send me!"
Our LORD was able to make a lot out of the little with the loaves & fish, simply through His word. The Wampanoags were able to make a lot out of a little with the Pilgrims simply out of their adding what they had to what the Pilgrims had.
Let us let the LORD use us to make a lot out of a little.
Sunday, we celebrate Veterans Day throughout the United States.
This year we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, the reason for which we celebrate Veterans Day!
Veterans Day is a day we remember and honor all U. S. military veterans who have served the United States of American.
This holiday was first created to remember the signing of the Armistice (an agreement between various sides to stop fighting with each other) with Germany to signal the end of the first World War - the "Great War" The War to End all Wars. The Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918 during the 11th hour. The holiday was celebrated first in 1919. It was called Armistice Day then and for the next 36 years; at which point President Eisenhower had the name changed to Veterans Day to honor all our Veterans.
This day doesn't just honor the men and women who have seen active duty, or those who are stateside, or just men, or just the women. It doesn't just honor those who have been injured in combat or just those who have made it home safely. It doesn't honor only those who didn't make it home or just those still alive. It honors ALL our veterans and all our veterans equally.
An interesting fact about the name is that the U.S. Government lists this day as "Veterans Day", without the apostrophe because it is not a day that 'belongs' to the veterans, but rather it is a day for honoring all our veterans.
We too, as Christians, have an Armistice Day of sorts. Ours was a day when a battle was fought and won - ours was a day when there was only One fighting - ours was a day when the agreement that was signed was not signed with a pen, paper, and ink between countries but rather with the blood of one innocent person. Our day continued for three long days. This day was Good Friday. It was the day our LORD Jesus died in our place so there could be peace between our Father in Heaven and the human race He had so lovingly created - those who had been born into sin due to the sin of Adam and Eve. This was the day that our LORD on the cross cried out to His Father, to our Father in Heaven, "It is finished" (John 19:30). Ours was the day the curtain in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51) This day was the silent Saturday as Jesus lay in the tomb and His disciples did not know what was happening. This day continued to the glorious day on Sunday when our LORD's body was not in the tomb and the angel was able to announce those coming to the tomb, "He is not here, he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay" (Matthew 28:8).
Because of our Armistice Day, we are forever in an agreement with the Father in Heaven. There is no more fighting between the two sides - Christ won the battle for us - the agreement is signed and cannot be broken! This was the WAR THAT ENDED ALL WARS!
This year we don't take the day off from school because Veterans Day falls on a Sunday. The Federal Holiday is Monday, but we will be in school. Thank the LORD for the Veterans in our lives - Thank the LORD for the saving Grace of Salvation -
Just thank the LORD....
....you have been signed, sealed, and delivered to the Father!
As we go through our years of training to become educators we learn there are various "Learning Styles". Among the styles of learning are those people who learn visually, those who learn, though listening, who learn through music, who learn when everything around them is silent. Some people learn best when snacking or having something to drink near-by. Many people are a combination of the different learning styles.
These learning styles apply to what we teach in the classrooms. What about what the children need in their day-to-day lives? What they do need in their spiritual lives? What really matters is how will they live their lives?
Children really learn best by examples. Children do not learn correctly by the "Do as I say, not as I do method". Child learn best by correct examples.
One of the earliest rules for teaching comes from Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."
As we teach, direct, and train, our children, they learn by our examples. When they are very little they learn speech from us. We spend countless hours repeating the words we want them to first say, "Da-da" Ma-ma". We crawl for them as we teach them crawling. They watch us walk as they begin to walk. So much of their early learning is imitation. When we laugh at something they do, they do it again. If it's funny to us, it must be funny, even if it's wrong. I can remember at age 14 laughing at something a young cousin did that was funny but unacceptable. I was quickly reprimanded and told if I laugh at him, he would never learn. I had to set the example for him.
As children get older, we teach them the ways of the LORD, the Ten Commandments. We teach them these are the right ways to live their lives. We show them that Jesus lived his life by these same Commandments. He was the only perfect one! He made the right choices. As we instruct our children in the way of the LORD, are we teaching them the right way?
But we cannot just tell them what the Bible says, we must show them by our examples. Jesus taught by example. When he said, "Let the children come to me" (Matthew 19:14) it was after the parents had been bringing the children to him for Him to bless them. Jesus lead by example when he spent time in prayer away from His disciples (Luke 6:12)
Just as Christ led by example, we too must lead by example. We must teach by example. We must teach that our children need to make the RIGHT choice, which is not always the best choice. The best choice for a 5th grade student might not always be the right one.
I'm glad Christ made the RIGHT choice for me when he stayed on the cross through all the pain and suffering. It might not have been the best choice for those watching Him suffer, but for all of us who will one day spend eternity with Him - I thank Him that He chose me!
This week after chapel Mr. Markworth mentioned the acronym I often use: J.O.Y. which stands for J - Jesus O - Others Y - Yourself. As he spoke to the children about this I began to think about how these words relate to the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments can be separated into two groups:
1. Those that tell us how to follow with God - #1-3
2. Those that tell us how to live with others - #4 - 10
The Ten Commandments don't give us instructions as to how to deal with ourselves. I find this interesting that we are told in the Ten Commandments to put God First and then others. Nowhere in the Ten Commandments are we given instructions on how to treat ourselves.
We are only given three Commandments on how to live with God, (granted they are three very important Commandments) and seven Commandments on how to live with others.
I find it even more interesting when we look closely at the Commandments that God has provided for us in them. He has given us a third part of JOY in these Commandments. Of course, the obvious is there, if we live in harmony with God (Jesus) and others we will have a much better life for ourselves. But let's look closely at two of the Commandments, one that deals with our relationship with God and one that deals with our relationship with others.
In the Third Commandment, we are told to "Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it Holy". This is not just about worshiping God. It is also about resting and finding rest in God. Genesis 2:3 tells us that God blessed the seventh day and made it holy and tells He rested. He set the example. By giving this Commandment for us to follow, He is showing us how to take care of ourselves (the YOU part of JOY). Jesus also says in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
In the Fourth Commandment, we are told to "Honor your Father and Mother that you may live long on the earth." This is the first Commandment with a promise (Ephesians 6:1-3). Again, our LORD is looking out for us, taking care of us. I like that! Some of us have parents that are easy to honor. I know I do! I've been blessed with exceptional parents. I know others who haven't, yet these friends continue to honor their parents, in various ways. While the life of these friends isn't always peaceful, these friends have had peace when their parents passed away. They have peace in the examples they set for their children. They didn't have the "guilt" feelings many others did. They knew they were not only honoring their parents, but more importantly, they were honoring their LORD. This Commandment also has to do with honoring those in authority, sometimes a much harder action for us. Remember, our outward behavior often reflects our inner heart.
I find it amazing, that as we focus first on our LORD and then on others we are then taken care of. That brings true JOY in our lives.
The LORD truly is our Good Shepherd. He gives us all we need. We just need to look to His rules for the guidance we need. We can find the JOY we need by putting Jesus first Others second and.....last.