Routine Maintenance

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42

Most of us have a structured routine when it comes to work. We have an established wardrobe, a usual breakfast and lunch, a regular time to get up, leave the house, and to return home. We take the same route to work, so we learn the traffic patterns. We stop at the same stores for a coffee or soda, so we see familiar people in those places. On the surface, this routine might appear boring and mundane. In truth, our routines provide us a level of comfort that we grow to rely upon. That is why we work hard to maintain our routines every day. Disrupt the routine of our mornings, and it often creates frustration and stress that can carry on throughout the day.

Having established that as a reality, I can imagine that for the people impacted by the shelter in place orders and the closure of school campuses, life has become a new adventure with our routines tossed out the window. The first few days might have been novel, but by now you’ve probably started to grow frustrated by the change to working at home. At work, you have the tools you need and the people in place to get things done. Now, you’re piecemealing it together with your spouse, children, pets, laundry, dirty dishes and that bathroom floor that needs to get mopped all vying for your attention.

At least you’re saving money on gasoline!

images8O6IAV89

Working from home can be frustrating because there’s just so many things to get done. On one hand, you’re at home, so you should have time to get some of those things accomplished. But on the other hand, you’re at work, so you have many other things to do. But you’re not at work, so things that might have gone smoothly in your office or school take longer because you don’t have everything you need within arm’s length.

If I have just described your current situation, I would invite you to take a breath, pause for a moment and remember the story of Martha & Mary from Luke 10. You remember how Martha shared her frustrations with Jesus over her sister’s unwillingness to help her with the many chores that needed to be done. You also remember Jesus’s response to Martha, calmly reminding her of what was more important. “’Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”

Martha’s work ethic isn’t a bad thing. Neither is yours. We take pride in the things we accomplish, and for those of us who are serving our children in Lutheran schools, we feel a greater level of importance because we share not only math and reading, but the love of Jesus. This adds pressure to make us feel as though we need to do more to accomplish our goals. Now, when we struggle with changing plans or failing technology or one of the dozens of other things that can go wrong we have all the more reason to throw our hands up in the air and cry out to Jesus for His help.

Of course, you do realize that His message to us will be the same thing He told Martha.

Fact of the matter is that while we do important work, God’s love will be shared with us our without us. His power, His glory, supersedes anything we could dream of doing. It’s important that we remember our role in this grand plan is not only to teach and serve, but to also learn and receive God’s grace and forgiveness.

May the Lord continue to give you peace as you accomplish great things in the lives of those people God has entrusted to your care.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Every Morning

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” – Lamentations 3:22-24

I know that many people love winter and the many fun activities that come with it. I am not among that crowd. I tend to fall more in the group of people who start the “First Day of Spring Countdown Clock” sometime in late September. So, I guess you could say that the first day of Spring is a big deal for me.

This year, the joy of that great day was diminished by the global coronavirus pandemic. In many ways, it seems as though it may have been lost on many people that March 19 was the first day of Spring. This is understandable. There are a lot of stressful things happening in the world right now that are giving all of us reasons to be distracted, worried and a bit fearful. But what I find myself thankful for this morning are the little reminders that God has given us that He is still here and will with us to guide us through these difficult days.

I own a puppy whose idea of sleeping in differs greatly from my own. This gives me frequent opportunities to wake up early and greet the coming day in its infancy. This morning, as I opened the door to let her out, she was startled by an unusual noise and didn’t want to move. Knowing she needed to get outside, I decided to step out and face the scary noise with her. Reassured by my presence, she agreed to go out and do her duty in the backyard. So, what was the sinister sound from which I was protecting her? The morning songs of the birds in our maple tree. One cardinal was in a very good mood as he chirped to celebrate the coming of the sunrise.

CardinalAMmd

I laughed as I thought of my dog’s fear of something so harmless and simple, but the more I thought about it, her fear made sense. We adopted her in December. Every morning she has gone out at our house featured the tranquility of winter. She is learning something new about mornings. I am sure that in a day or two, she’ll recognize the chirping as normal and it won’t phase her. But after processing all of this, something finally dawned on me as well.

Spring is here. The birds have returned to their active morning patterns. The sun is rising earlier. The grass is starting to get a bit greener. The trees have buds and the crocuses and daffodils are starting to emerge from the ground. The long winter is coming to an end. Warmth and light are returning.

With that in mind, allow me to share a similar thought as we face the uncertainties of this pandemic. God is here. He always has been. He always will be. For a time, our patterns and routines are going to change for us to stay healthy and safe. But this change, like the winter, is only for a time. Soon we will return to our active patterns. Soon we will be celebrating warmer temperatures, blooming flowers, and the resurrection of the Savior God sent forth to save us from sin and its consequences.

Keep your faith firmly planted in the garden of our Lord. He will keep His promises and will deliver to us the warmth and light we seek in all things.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spirit Animals

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” – Psalm 46:1-3 (ESV)

Take a moment and go back with me to a time when life was simpler. Back when toilet paper was in such plentiful supply, we would use it to decorate the trees of our enemies. Back when social media was being utilized for its originally intended purposes: narcissism and political fights. Ah yes, those good old days that we all call……. February.

It’s been a long few weeks.

I hope you will forgive my humor. I don’t mean to make light of our situation. I only wish to point out that not too long ago, our thoughts, plans, and priorities were vastly different. So, while social media has transitioned a bit into a community of people sharing information, humor, and compassion for others, I would enjoy our world returning back to normal and allowing us to go back to online quizzes telling us which member of the cast of a TV show we are based on our birth month and first letter of our last name or which critter is our spirit animal.

That said, perhaps we should look at the spirit animal question more closely.

A spirit animal is a metaphor. We choose them based on perceived character traits that the animal has that we emulate or admire. Are you athletic and fast? You might choose a cheetah. Are you determined and persistent? You could be a turtle. Are you intuitive and wise? You would likely pick an owl. Finally, if you demand constant attention and frequent feedings, you’re a dachshund (sorry, personal observation based on a four-legged member of my family).

Why discuss all of this? It’s because at this moment in history I think we as Christian educators can all relate to two animals whose traits would serve us well: The chameleon and the leopard.

chameleon and leopard

Why a chameleon? I think that’s easy. Chameleons have a unique defense mechanism of changing the color of its body to blend in with its surroundings. This adaptability reflects the mood of the chameleon, and it also helps to protect it from predators.

Why a leopard? Well, it has less to do with the leopard than it does with the common phrase associated with them: “A leopard never changes its spots.” People say this about the leopard to demonstrate how deep down, we can not change who we are.

So, what do you get when you combine a chameleon and a leopard? A ridiculous contradiction! True, but let me explain.

Right now, your profession has you acting like a chameleon. You’ve adapted to a rapidly changing educational landscape. Online platforms, video conferencing, and mailing packets of work have suddenly replaced our classrooms and desks. At least you had a day or two to prepare for this! You have accomplished a tremendous amount in a short time, and you will continue to adapt because your students’ needs demand it. I thank God for you and for your dedication to the ongoing success of your students, no matter what the world throws at you.

But more important than being an occupational chameleon is the need to be a faithful leopard. In a time of travel restrictions, supply shortages, a volatile economy, and shelter in place orders caused by the coronavirus, we must stand firm in the knowledge that God remains in control. Our faith in Him and His promises does not waver. Despite the challenges that we face, God’s love for us remains constant and unchanging. As we adapt to the rapidly changing world in which we live, we cling to the firm foundation that is our God.

May our Father send you the extra measure of strength and perseverance you will need to face each day with renewed faith and purpose, now and always.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fear Not, For I am with You

The spread of the corona virus and its impact on society has been like nothing we have seen in our lifetimes. The rapid spread of the virus from its origins in China to what now seems to be every corner of the globe has created a frenzy in the media, a rush to buy certain supplies in our stores, and prompted the closures of many schools and other public buildings. The numbers of people allowed to gather in any one place have been limited and many of our most beloved hobbies and entertainment activities have been suspended or cancelled. Some people seem to be panicky. Others seem blasé about it.

coronavirus-img

Image Credit: https://www.keckmedicine.org/coronavirus/

There is no shortage of people who are offering advice, predictions, and opinions about this crisis, so I will not join them by telling you what I think about any of this. Instead, I will remind you of the things that we know to be true that will help us maintain our perspective in this most unique of situations.

God is with us. Amid the most difficult of situations, God has been here since before time began. He is here now and will be for eternity. We are His creation, living in a world that He designed. His power is greater than any force on earth. He holds an intimate knowledge of everything in existence on a molecular level. His love surrounds us and provides us with the strength, comfort and peace we need for anything COVID-19 or our sinful world could bring us. God’s words to Isaiah serve as a wonderful reminder of this for us:

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 40:10 (ESV)

So, as we face this pandemic we can do so without fear, relying fully on our God whose love for us is greater than anything this world could produce to come against us. Be safe and at peace as we care for one another until the day we return back to normalcy…

and for that matter, for the rest of our lives!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Don’t @ Me!

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)

If you spend any time on Twitter (or other social media outlets), you’ve probably seen the phrase “Don’t @ me.” It’s a message that accompanies somebody’s opinion requesting that the people reading the post would not feel compelled to respond to debate what was originally shared. The word “at” or “@” is in reference to Twitter’s use of the @ symbol as a heading for your Twitter handle. For example, I might say something like…

Dachshunds make the best pets ever. Don’t @ me!

I know this isn’t exactly a contentious statement, but for those of you who own a bulldog, a cat, a lizard or a chinchilla, you might be tempted to reply to me and set the record straight. Of course, it’s nothing more than an opinion on my part, but social media is designed to encourage others to share and when necessary debate. So, if a statement regarding a favorite pet can lead to a discussion, imagine what a strong comment on a more controversial topic might produce. In attempting to avoid an unwanted debate (or the list of countless people explaining why they disagree) people will disinvite others to respond.

On one side, I understand the point of this. Sometimes you just want to share what you think without opening yourself up to criticism or a lengthy discussion. However, by denying other people the opportunity to share their thoughts, it makes the person who posted it seem self-important or disinterested in what others might think.

cant-hear-you

We live in a world where many people want to be heard rather than hear; to speak and not to listen. Our social media driven society is fueled by the desire to tell others what we have to say, to show others what we’re doing, and to promote our own personal brand. This is who I am. This is what I do. Disagree? Don’t @ me!

Thankfully, this is not God’s approach to us. God welcomes us into His presence with open arms. He wants us to come to Him with our praises and our worries, our thoughts and our frustrations. He reveals Himself to us through His inerrant word – a concept that doesn’t sit well in a world that values individual truth and personal ethics. But even in the face of our world’s selfishness, God’s love has been vitally important to us. From the moment He created us, God’s love for us exceeded anything we have ever experienced. Our sinfulness drove a wedge between us, but in love God shows us the way back to Him. The blood Jesus shed on the cross paid the price of our sinfulness. God sent to us His Holy Spirit to bring us to and keep us rooted in our faith.

Maybe that’s why God had millions of followers long before Twitter!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Work in Progress

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:3-6

Do you ever struggle with things in life that are frustratingly contradictory? The term for such occurrences is oxymoron. At first glance, you may think this term would describe a dim-witted person with an acne problem, but thanks to our friends at dictionary.com we learn that definition of an oxymoron is actually…

“a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect…”

Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? I guess that’s why most people define oxymorons by giving examples of them. Things like “jumbo shrimp,” “deafening silence,” or the one I demonstrate most often; “clearly confused.” You can add your own favorite oxymoron to the list, but I think most of us would agree the most frustrating oxymoron we encounter is found on the side of the road. It’s written on a bright yellow, diamond shaped sign, placed at the beginning of a construction zone proudly declaring: Work in Progress!

work-in-progress-md

Road construction is a necessary evil. We despise driving on roads that resemble the surface of the moon, but we share an equal disdain for having to wait or be rerouted by the road closures caused by repair work. But what I think irritates us most as drivers is when we come upon a construction zone on the highway that lasts for several miles, creating traffic backups and slowdowns, only to find that nobody is doing any actual work.

Before I go any further, let me say clearly that my intent is not to criticize construction workers. These people work hard in lousy conditions and get little credit for the work they do. The real issue goes back to our human nature of wanting a perfect road that allows us to have a perfect trip without any hint of trouble. When we must wait, merge, slow down, or let people into our lane, we tend to give a response that varies between mild irritation and irrational rage. Makes you wonder if the “work in progress” is referring to the condition of the road or the attitudes of the people driving on it!

We are all works in progress. God created us with unique interests and abilities. We also have been created with unique levels of patience and triggers. Some people can effectively manage minor day-to-day issues but panic when facing a major crisis, while others are at their best in an emergency, only to lose their cool when simple things go wrong. This is only one example of the many struggles people have when it comes to managing their emotions, controlling their impulses, and generally being on their best behavior. Add fatigue, frustration, failure or fear and our reactions become even less predictable.

Thankfully, we have a reliably predictable God. The love that He has for His creation has no bounds (Jeremiah 31:3). This can be confirmed in many ways, but none more clearly than in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem us from our sinfulness (Romans 5:8). This undeserved gift brings us back into a right relationship with God, who sends His Holy Spirit to sustain and strengthen our faith. This action allows us the ability to share the word of God and to model our faith to others who may not know Christ and whose interactions with us may be the catalyst to seeking His love and grace.

My prayer for all of us mirrors that of Paul in his words to the Philippians. May God, who began this good work in us, bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life.

And if He can do all that, He can probably help us to tolerate road work with more patience too!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Allegedly

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’” – Luke 2:10-11

house-decorations-busy

Since the stroke of midnight on November 1, it seems as though the world has gone into a Christmas frame of mind. The pumpkin-spice was replaced by peppermint sticks, and except for that turkey eating Thursday known as Black Friday Eve, we’ve been told that we’re simply having a wonderful Christmastime!

This is evident as you drive around town seeing people pay homage to Clark Griswold by stringing more lights on their houses than most airport runways. It’s evident when you hear people feeling bold enough to admit that they enjoy watching the Hallmark Christmas movies in public. But perhaps it is most evident when you scroll down the radio dial to that one station which has for nearly two months played nothing but Christmas songs.

NOTHING.

It’s not to say that I am opposed to Christmas music. I tend to prefer choral or instrumental Christmas carols. What I do not like is popular music artists and their attempts to ensure royalties for the rest of their lives from the playing of their renditions of classic carols, or worse, an original Christmas song. There simply aren’t any original songs worth a darn. NONE! You can argue with me on this point for the rest of time, just know that I am right. Think about it, if someone gave you their heart last Christmas and the very next day you gave it away, you wouldn’t care to whom he gave it to this year!

And why are you letting him waste your time singing this to you anyway?

But despite my logical and indisputable opinion on the matter, Christmas music continues to be played repeatedly on stations for weeks and weeks on end. I guess people must like it or they wouldn’t do it. I think it’s a conspiracy to convince people that despite the cold, snow, ice, low humidity, lack of sunshine, limited daylight, and hyperactive children losing their minds over Santa, it really is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

Because for some people, it isn’t.

Many people love this time of year, but some people don’t, and with good reason. The holiday season can be difficult for people who are separated from loved ones, estranged from their families, or forced to spend time socially with people they don’t like or who don’t like them. Some people must spend their holiday dealing with illness or disease. Some people are preparing for the first (or next) holiday without a beloved family member. So while some people love the season and other (like me) love to poke fun at it, many people struggle with the festivities and long for January to come and return life (and the radio stations) back to normal.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the schedule and traditions we place onto Christmas. But in love for those of us who dread the holiday with the most understandable of reasons, allow me to quote the angels message to the shepherds:

 “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Christ has come into a world filled with pain, suffering, and the very worst consequences of sin. Why did He do this? Here’s how it was explained to Joseph in Matthew 1:20-21:

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

Pray for those people who are struggling this year as Christmas draws near. Remember that the pain that we feel, the hurt and disappointment that comes from life, and the anxiety and despair that feels like it could consume us are swept away by the love and peace that can only come from the Savior of the world coming into His creation to save it. Jesus began this work in the manger and completed it in Easter’s empty tomb. Seek His comfort. Know His peace. Feel the joy that can only come from heaven above as we join in the chorus!

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Happily Ever After

If you’re like most of the majority of the 7.2 billion people living on planet earth today, you will never have a biography written about you. For some of you, this may come across as mean or rude, but for most people, that is understood and frankly appreciated. There are only a few people whose contribution to society deserve a writer taking the time to study them and share their story for public consumption. But what if I told you that each and everyone of us have been writing our own autobiography for most of our adult life? Would you believe me? Well, you should because it’s true.

So, what is the name of this book that will reveal these details about you? It’s called…

Your checkbook.

It is often said that you can learn a lot about a person if you learn how and on what they spend their money. This should come as no surprise. People buy products they believe in, support causes that are important to them, and invest in things that will produce the results they most desire to see in the world. The simple truth of it all is this – people won’t want to pay for something that they don’t value.  If you truly value something, money is no object.  How many stories have been told about parents who will stop at nothing, who will spare no expense to save the lives of their children?  They do so because the love they have for their children, far exceeds their personal wealth. Students pursuing a career will pay for the bachelors, masters, or even the doctoral degree without flinching at the cost.  Why?  Because if it is needed for a person to pursue their dream, they will value it.

What is the most valuable thing in your life? If you look at this from a materialistic view you would probably list things like your house and car. Of course, you knew to stay away from that trap and thought of things that money can’t buy. After all, most people would give away their fortunes for the safety and well-being of their spouse, children and grandchildren. To that I would say that you’re getting warmer, but you’re still not quite there. After all, if my family spent every last penny to save me from a life-threatening disease, our whole family would celebrate. We would treasure every moment we had from that time forward as a gift. That is, until I eventually died anyway. I know this sounds terrible, but the truth of the matter is this; the wages of our sin is death (Romans 6:23) and eventually, death comes to us all. Therefore, the most valuable thing in our lives would have to be something that doesn’t only delay death but takes it away.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Consider Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:55-57. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus paid the price for our victory by taking our sin to Calvary’s cross. What’s more, this gift is freely given to any man, woman or child by grace, through faith. No hidden costs. No fine print.

Now, because we know what Christ has done for us, what is stopping us from doing all that we can to share this great gift with our 7.2 billion brothers and sisters who need to hear it? God has blessed us with so many great gifts. How wonderful it is for us to follow His example and give our time, our talents, our treasures, and our knowledge of the one true faith that gives to us the greatest gift imaginable: eternal life in Heaven with our loving Father.

So as the chapters of your biography are written, may the story be filled with the love of God being shared with those who long to hear it that we all may live happily ever after for eternity.

Image_4019

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Here We Go Again

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

At the conclusion of every school year many teachers find themselves balancing a competing set of emotions:

  • A sense of pride after having accomplished a great deal over the past 40 weeks
  • A tinge of sadness that this class will be moving on
  • The anticipation of new growth opportunities
  • And last, but not least…
  • SUMMER VACATION!!!!!!!! (feel free to add exclamation points as you’d like)

Some teachers feel the need to bury that last bullet because others outside of education might criticize them for getting so much “time off.” I say teachers shouldn’t apologize for the time off they’ve earned. Education is hard work and a break that allows teachers the chance to relax, renew, regroup and recharge is critical to maintaining success year after year.

But then it happens. It’s imperceptible at first, but little by little it builds until finally it becomes this powerfully undeniable reality. From the people who brought you “Sunday Night Dread,” here comes the summer blockbuster you’ve been ignoring…

BACK TO SCHOOL TIME IS HERE!!!!!!!! (feel free to remove exclamation points as you’d like)

One minute you were sipping your favorite beverage in an inflatable unicorn on a lake, the next you were cutting out laminated name cards and sticking them on desks. Summer reading turns to content reading and girls’ night at the winery relocates to the Starbucks drive-thru which needs to move a little faster or I’m going to be late for my “Back-to-School Faculty Meeting.”

teacher help

In fairness, not every teacher takes the start of the school year this hard, but most will admit that while they’re truly excited about the upcoming school year, they will miss the slower pace that summer brings. But some of us were called to be teachers, and we can only do that if we take the break we were given and put it to good use in our classroom this year. But as we head into the start of this new year, many teachers find themselves balancing another set of emotions:

  • A sense of purpose, knowing that they’re heading back to the job they love
  • A tinge of sadness that vacation is ending
  • The anticipation of creating a classroom community that will be exciting, safe, and filled with learning
  • And last, but not least…
  • A touch of anxiety over getting back into that grind of long days, endless grading, parent concerns, and the many unknown challenges to come

Many people would tell you that it’s okay; anxiety is normal. I guess that’s true, but I would also tell you that just because it’s common doesn’t mean that it’s necessary. Consider Paul’s words to the Philippians.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. As concerns weigh us down we know that we have an effective way to respond to them. Prayer is valuable because it allows us to take our troubles to the Creator of all things. We are no longer left to worry by ourselves. We aren’t merely venting to a friend who can’t understand and is powerless to help. God knows you intimately. God loves you deeply. Christ lived on earth and shared in the experience of being human. Think for a moment about Jesus’ own reaction to anxiety He felt about His coming crucifixion. He went to a quiet place and prayed, giving His anxiety to His own Father. That alone would be valuable, but God’s power isn’t limited to just listening.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” God Himself will give you peace and the sure knowledge that our hearts and minds will be guarded from anything that the world and Satan can bring our way. Jesus has paid the price. By His death and resurrection, we have forgiveness of sins and the assurance of spending eternity in Heaven as a fully redeemed child of God. So, as we face the anxieties of returning back to school, the dread of misbehaving students, upset parents, overzealous administrators, and unrelenting deadlines, may we always remember that God knows what we’re up against and wants to help us overcome it. Jesus reminds us of this in the words of Matthew 11:28-30.

“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

But if you’re able, feel free to sneak in one last trip to the beach!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Change

Progress and Change

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

I recently came across a quote from George Bernard Shaw that held an impactful truth. “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

Many people look to improve their lives. They may want to earn a promotion, have more time for family, look better in the mirror, write poetry, learn how to play an instrument, or volunteer in their community. While all of these and the countless other goals we can share are noble and worthwhile, they all have a common denominator. They all require us to change the things we’re currently doing to give ourselves the chance to do something else, to do it differently and to do it better than before.

As I read this quote, I was taken aback by the power of its simplicity and by how applicable it is to so many areas of our lives.

  • Want to become thinner and stronger?   Change your diet and exercise routine
  • Want to have more money?   Change your spending and saving habits
  • Want to have more time?   Change your schedule to be more accountable
  • Want to eliminate a bad habit?   Change your patterns and routines

Simple? Yes!

Easy? Ehhhh…..

In science we learn that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The same can be said for our ability to change. For every salad and treadmill there is a bowl of ice cream and a couch. For every dollar in the bank there is a sale at the mall. For every spare minute we find there is social media, and for every vice we overcome there are hundreds more waiting to entice us.

We are creatures of habit and the notion of making substantial and sustained progress is often difficult because of our strong desire to avoid change in our lives. Most people like what is familiar. It may not be adventurous, but it is safe. For us to push ourselves out of this pattern we will need a level of strength and motivation that will propel us into starting, encourage us when we feel like stopping, and sustain us until we reach that point where the change becomes our norm and we have truly made progress.

As Christians we turn to God to help us with these things. To some, that may seem a bit surprising. Why would God care about these seemingly minor things? Because to God, they (and we) aren’t minor things! Christ’s words in Luke 12:6-7 demonstrate our value when He says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Our God is a God of details. He created the vastness of the universe and the intricacy of the smallest microorganism with a synergy that can only come from the most intelligent design. We can surely rely upon Him to help us with any concern that we have in our lives. And why are we able to turn to Him with our needs?

Because our great and loving God is UNchanging.

Psalm 102:25-27 describes God’s unchanging nature: “Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but You are the same and Your years have no end.”

James 1:17 describes God’s unchanging love for us: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

And finally, Hebrews 13:8 shows us how God’s Son is also unchanging as it declares, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

It is in the consistent, unchanging strength of our loving God that we are able to change at all. Our sinful nature is so ingrained into the fabric of our DNA that it makes it difficult for us to have the power to change anything about ourselves. In our fallen world sin is normal, comfortable, and often desirable. It is by God’s grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus and the sustaining work of the Holy Spirit that we are able to make the greatest change of all – from sinner to saint.

May we always strive to make the changes in our lives that are necessary for us to fulfill the destinies to which we have been called; sharing the word of God with others who are looking to change their lives through the hope found only in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Posted in Devotional | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment