When I leave for school in the morning, I have to cross a set of train tracks. If I leave at the right time, I only have to wait for one commuter train, however, if I vary my time by just five minutes I can end up waiting for three commuter trains. Evenings, can be even more of a struggle. If I leave at just the wrong time then I end up getting stuck by a freight train and end up sitting there for upwards of twenty minutes or more.
Timing seems to be "everything". If I have my lesson plans too involved for a sub then the students feel overwhelmed and if they aren't involved enough, then the sub, feels overwhelmed.
In our society of today, we seem to be on a very tight schedule. Our children need to be so many places and at just the right times. They come to school tired and worn out. They seem so rushed. They mirror the lives of their parents. Their parents are rushed.
Our timing never seems to stay on schedule.
Where has the Third Commandment gone? "Remember the Sabbath Day" Our Father gave us this command so that we could rest! We have this so that we could rest and reflect on the Lord and His word. His timing is perfect. In Old Testament times, He put this at the end of the week. He tells us in Exodus 20:9-11 that we have six days to work, but that on the seventh day, we are to rest.
God's timing is perfect!
When Adam & Eve caused the Fall, God promised that He would send a Redeemer! He promised that He would send someone to take our place. Eve thought that as soon as she had her first son, that God had fulfilled His promise, but this was not to be. This was not His timing. It would take thousands of years before all the pieces of God's magnificent puzzle would be in place. It would not be until His fullness of time took place.
In Galatians 4:4-7 Paul tells us that," But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but God's child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir."
As we approach Holy Week, we remember all that our LORD, Jesus Christ went through as He approached the Cross. He gave His all so that we might be with Him in eternity.
Let us rejoice and be glad that we can celebrate in the Resurrection of our LORD, and in the perfect timing of the Father.
Shoes & Rules
Keep your shoes on, take your shoes off, don't take your shoes off. A few rules that I experienced over the last week.
I have been traveling this last week. I was blessed to be able to attend the LEA Administrators' Conference in Orlando. I had clearance to go through prescreened security at Midway and wasn't supposed to have to take off my shoes, however, my boots had metal and set off the alarms, so I had to take off my boots.
One of the sessions I attended was the Disney Experience. It was a behind the scenes learning experience at WDW. As we traveled to Disney one of the rules we were told was "Don't take your shoes off when behind the scenes." This rule struck everyone as a strange rule. We all thought, "Why would we (adults all) even think to take off our shoes?"
These "shoe" rules started me thinking about how we look at rules, especially the rules that God gave us.
When Adam & Eve approached the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil, did they think why would God make this rule?
What about the 10 Commandments? When God Gave Moses these rules, did he think "Why?"
God's rules are given for so many reasons, but first and foremost they are given for our benefit. Just as the rules for plane travel have now been put into place for our protection and the rules for keeping our shoes on behind the scenes at Disney are for our safety (who knows what might be on the ground). God wants us to be safe here in the world He created for us.
He gave Adam & Eve the one basic rule at the beginning of time. This rule was given to Adam even before Eve was created. The rule was to not eat of the Tree of Knowledge, Genesis 2:15-17. This was all the rules needed to survive in the Garden.
Once God and man were separated by the Fall, our Father had to give man more rules to live by to keep us safe. He first gave the Ten Commandments and then He gave the Israelites rules to live by to keep them safe and healthy.
The first of the Ten Commandments is to "Have no other gods". This so important that God put it at the top of the list.
When Jesus was approached and asked what the most important commandment was, His response was, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This the first and greatest commandment." But interestingly, Jesus didn't stop here. He continued before another question could be asked of Him, "Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:36-4).
What is even more interesting is what Jesus said in John14:23 (ESV), "If any loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." This is following right along with the First Commandment.
Here in our world we follow the rules because we have to, because we will receive a punishment, not be allowed on the plane, lose our place on the plane, not be allowed to participate in the event. But with Christ, we follow the rules because we love Him. The reason we love, is very simple. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19)
This past Saturday I had the privilege of leading the devotion for the parish nurses for the Northern Illinois District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. I was asked to do this by Nurse Pat, our school nurse, provided by CLEF.
On the drive home from this event, I started thinking about the growth of CLEF. They are now celebrating their 25th anniversary.
They started very small, with a man with an idea, a dream, and a group of dedicated people. These people approached a handful of Lutheran schools with this idea of helping in a small way. I was there the day my former school's principal was approached. Our school started with the painting and repair of a couple of students' bathrooms.
The seeds were planted!
I remember the words that were spoken to the principal of our school. It might just be bathrooms today, but who knows where this will go in the future? As CLEF grew the goal became to fill the desks to tell the children about Jesus.
Today, CLEF is so much more than painting bathrooms, and it never changed from the goal of telling the children about Jesus.
Also, on the drive home I began thinking about how I was asked to write and lead the devotion. This is not something I would ever have thought I would do when I graduated from Concordia forty years ago. In fact, this is the LAST thing I ever would have wanted to do.
When I took the call to my last school, I was required to write a devotion for a series of devotions our church was putting together. Our Pastor, Bob Burke, was insistent that ALL the teachers write one. I didn't feel qualified. He encouraged. The seeds were planted!
When I took the position of principal at my last school, our District Executive, encouraged me to write a weekly message for the newsletter. I didn't feel qualified. He encouraged. The seeds were planted!
When I would write for our newsletter, here at Grace, my late husband Gerry, was my editor. I didn't feel qualified. He encouraged. The seeds were planted & watered.
Today, I have another editor, and when I'm not sure how my message sounds, she encourages. The seeds are watered!
The children of our school are here because the parents have planted them with us.
We are now the ones that are planting and encouraging - watering and feeding.
Who knows what these seeds will produce?
THE LORD knows - just as He knew where CLEF would go those 25 years ago. Just as he knew that I would someday take the time to use His words to encourage others.
What will you plant today?
We are now in the church season of Lent!
This is a time of the year so many people give up something. There are many reasons for doing so. The reasons range from following Christ's example to making oneself better, to following the crowd - everyone else is "giving up something."
The tradition of giving up something for Lent has its roots in our doing something for God, rather than God doing something for us. This is what was required before Christ's death and resurrection.
While we observe the season of Lent as a time of sorrow and preparation in remembering what our LORD and Savior Jesus did for each one of us, we are not required to give up or deny anything for what Christ did for us. Jesus, "himself bore our sins" in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; "by his wounds you have been healed." (1Peter 2:24)
Jesus' death and resurrection is a pure gift, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8).
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were to sacrifice their first fruits to the LORD. They had to give of their best. This after all is what was going to happen when Christ would go to the cross - He is the only begotten Son of the Father who would be the final sacrifice for all.
Once Christ died on the cross and uttered the words "It is finished" (John 19:30) and the Temple curtain was torn in two, there was no more separation between man and God. We do not have to sacrifice to the LORD - Christ did it ALL.
Now, is there anything wrong with giving up something for Lent? No, not if your heart is in the right place. Is it being done for betterment? Is it being done for improvement? Is it being done to make a deal with God? When the item being given up during Lent becomes the focus such as "I can't wait until Lent is over so I can..." then the focus isn't where it should be.
Remember, our LORD doesn't call us to sacrifice to Him as was done in the Old Testament. He does tell us to "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24). This doesn't mean just for Lent - this means at all times
If you are giving up something "for Lent" are you focused on what you are giving up or are you focused on the better person in the LORD you are becoming? If you are giving up something for Lent that has cost you money in the past, are you able to use that for the betterment of others?
In last Sunday's sermon, Pastor Gomez spoke on the topic of giving up for Lent and suggested that instead of giving up for Lent we spend time giving, giving to others. He suggested that the use of these 40 days be used for making the world we live in, our little portion, a little bit better.
I like that suggestion - I want to see how I can do it, without anyone really saying that I have done something special, but at the same time know that I have enriched the lives of those around me.
How about you? What will you be giving for Lent?
Vicki Helmling is a teacher at Grace English Lutheran School