The Thing Is, You Never Know…


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John 15:13  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

I was struck by a verse I came across as I was collecting myself for another day in my middle school classroom this week.  The verse?  It came from John’s gospel chapter 1:

45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote– Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

How many times have we heard, or even said ourselves, something similar about a student?  How many times have we prejudged a student before they’ve even stepped a foot into our classroom? I will be the first to remorsefully confess I have.  Sometimes we do so without thinking about it (which needs to stop, right?).

Yet, as I read the passage and having done the same thing myself (oh me!), I immediately thought to myself, “Wow Nathan, what a stupid thing to say! I mean really?  This is Jesus we are talking about here.  Of course, something good can come from Nazareth.  He is the epitome of good!  He came to die for your sins and my sins. Get with it Nate!”  I’m not a Bible scholar, but it sounds as if Nazareth was perhaps an area that today we might call the wrong side of the tracks.

Albeit, it convicted me how quickly I sometimes, just like Nathanael did, come to the wrong conclusion about where my students hail from or rumors I’ve heard as to how they’ve behaved prior to arriving at my door.  Remember, just because a student didn’t gee-haw with one teacher doesn’t mean she won’t gee-haw with you or me, my fellow teachers.  I’ve seen this play out time and time again!  Furthermore, if our students are from areas we deem undesirable, those areas can bring forth students like Jesus or students that need Jesus.  Either way, Jesus died for both!

I want to again encourage you, as I did last week, to remember where we are on the Christian calendar.  It’s Good Friday as I write this post, and I’m overwhelmed with what came out of Nazareth.  My Savior, My Lord… Your Savior, Your Lord.  His death, His resurrection, His mercy, His grace…. There is no place on earth that is perfect, but as for me, I think if my Savior came from a no good place like Nazareth, then my students who come from the same types of places may have a little something to teach me and not the other way around.  The thing is, you never know!

Greater love hath no man… Let’s demonstrate that love to ALL our students.

Happy Easter!  He’s alive!  God bless you, dear Christian teachers, and stay devoted.

 

 

 

Significant Strangers

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Hello fellow teachers and happy Palm Sunday!

I want to share a quick word with you this week about how important you are to the body of Christ.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel pretty insignificant myself, knowing in my spirit that it’s a lie, but thinking it and feeling it nonetheless. How about you?  This is to be expected though, because we are strangers and our citizenship is not here but in heaven…

Hebrews 11:13-16

All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.

Philippians 3:20

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

A while back, I posted a video blog about the thoughts of life and the life of thoughts. Sometimes our thought life spirals out of control whenever “life” doesn’t go our way. Whether it’s something someone said, or didn’t say (both on a professional and personal level), that wasn’t nice, or we just don’t think we measure up to others in our profession – whatever the reason, human nature takes over and our thoughts can run a muck.

If that’s you, then I want to encourage and remind you of just how significant you are. Your sphere of influence is greater than you think, even when you don’t choose to believe it, dear teachers.  If we think about it, since we have many students under our tutelage, there is a multiplication effect, which in turn has a reverberating effect that can last a lifetime and eternally.  And, just because something isn’t going well in one or two different areas of our lives, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other things going better. Since we seem to forget, a shift in focus would do us well.  Amen?

Therefore, considering we are in the home stretch of our school year and we can become weary to say the least, I want to remind you of where we are on the Christian calendar.  If our mindsets need shifting, let’s shift those thoughts to what the Easter season is all about… what our Lord and Savior Jesus did for us. download (16)

Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a lowly donkey. Think about that a minute. Here he is, the King of Kings on a colt (no chariot with royal guards) .  What King have you ever heard of who does that? Kings enjoy pomp and circumstance, but not the Savior of the world.  He made himself of no reputation, being humble and lowly. When we think we are not important, Jesus put Himself in our shoes.  He knows how we feel. I think He would say to us, It doesn’t matter how you feel… you are loved and you are an important part of ministering to a sin sick, dark world.  Get up! Dust yourself off!

Even riding in on a donkey, Jesus shook it up didn’t He?!  Read John chapter 12. Check out the scene that took place that day.  The large crowd is also interpreted as a multitude, and the multitude ran to meet Him, praising Him, knowing Him to be the King of Glory!

We, likewise, shake things up for Him in our classrooms each and everyday.  We can’t know Him, be filled with His Spirit, and NOT shake up the world we our apart of each day.  It’s impossible! Therefore, dear Christian teachers, we never ever should believe we are not important to the body of Christ.  We are!  Period.

May we go accordingly and shake up our worlds this week as significant strangers my fellow teachers, doing it all for Him because of what He has done, and continues to do, for us.  God be praised! Stay devoted and blessings to you and your students during this holiest of weeks.

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It all started last Thursday…

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…and I can tell you how it began.

Longer Days + Warmer Temperatures + Buds Blooming  = Spring Fever + Students Like Worms In Hot Ashes!

Last Thursday, I kept noticing an uptick in the energy level of my classes – more than than the usual that takes place during a normal day, that is.  I kept asking myself, Is there something wrong with me? and, Is there more to it than just me?  By the end of an exhausting day of students bouncing off the wall, I had not only diagnosed the fever, but realized it had spread like an epidemic within the day leaving all in its wake, including me, needing bed rest ASAP!

Lord knows, if it’s happening to me then it’s probably happening to you too, dear Christian teacher, or at least you’ve detected it.  Oh the joy!  Oh the fun!  (Insert sarcasm if that’s allowed on a Christian blog! lol)  The question now becomes, How do we survive it?  Because as you well know, it will last until the end of the school year. Yikes!

Now’s the time to amp up our prayer life, asking God to help us through each day and for patience and wisdom along the way, praying at the beginning of each of our classes. If you don’t change classes because of the age of your students, then pray at least once every hour.  Here are some verses we can pray and recite aloud replacing the word you with me, us, or even our name in some cases:

  • Prayers of peace for us and our students – 2 Thessalonians 3:16 – Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

  • Prayers when certain classes or students are truly exasperating (and sometimes they can get that way, amen?!) -Psalm 50:15 – and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

  •  Prayers for patience – Proverbs 4:29 – Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly. Ephesians 4:2  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

  • Prayers for wisdom – James 1:5  – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  James 3:17 – But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

Sometimes a good nap will leave us temporarily rested and refreshed, but God’s word, through prayer and meditation, gives us so much more. It is the perfect medication for all that ails us, even teachers dealing with an outbreak of spring fever. After all, He is the Great Physician!

God bless you, stay devoted, and hangeth thou in there!  This too shall pass… summer is right around the corner. 🙂

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May I See Your I.D.?

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‘Tis the season for teachers to vote for Teacher of the Year (TOTY) at schools all around the country.  It’s one teacher takes all, which inevitably leaves the rest of the faculty wondering, Why didn’t I win? What could I have done better? or I’m just not good enough.  I’m sure most of us have encountered these questions at some point during our teaching careers… me included.  Can I get a witness?

If this is you too, then you and I both may need to be lovingly reminded that our true identity is not found in winning awards or, with the exception of beliefs, any of the following aspects:

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Sure, people may identify us in one of the above ways, as these characteristics do constitute our earthly uniqueness.  BUT, we are talking about SO MUCH MORE than that!

So dear teachers, I want to remind you of who your are in Christ, and that upon His foundation all the other facets of our identities are built.  Just take a moment and inhale what the living, breathing word of God emphatically states on this subject…

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… and the next time the aforementioned thoughts race through your mind at +100 mph, stop ’em in their tracks by exhaling it. For example…

  • I’m just not good enough!  No, I am a born again child of the living God. Blood bought and on a mission to win students to the Lord.  1 Corinthians 6:20…for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

  • Why didn’t I win? Am I who I make myself?  No, God works in me to do according to His will, His purpose, and His plan – whether I’m TOTY or not! Philippians 2:13 For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

  • Do I fit in?  Well, first of all does it really matter? We are in our classrooms to make a difference in students’ lives first and foremost!  Shine like a diamond in a gold mine. God has us where we are for a purpose.  We are where we are because He is in control of every facet of our lives.  Romans 12:1  And be not conformed to this world. And Daniel 4:35 says, He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” 

  • What could I have done better?  We all can improve, even the king or queen of the ball, also known as TOTY, and additionally, we can learn from each other. Proverbs 27:17  Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Deep, cleansing breaths are not just good for the body!  They are good for the soul and spirit as well.  Remember that! 🙂

One last thing to think about when these thoughts are scurrying about in our minds is to ask ourselves, How do our students identify us?  If we can honestly critique ourselves in a fashion affirming that yes(!) indeed most of the time our students i.d. Christ in us, then hey teachers(!) we’re doing the job God would have us do.  Can I get an amen?!  Yes. Yes. Yes!

Now shout HALLELUJAH!  Teacher of the year, or teacher of God… which do you identify with teachers?  Let’s whip out our identification! Is it stamped…download (15)??? We all receive an A when we teach for God and we only are able do that when our identity is found in Him and Him above all else.

God bless you dear teachers.  Put the titles, or lack thereof, to the side and stay devoted!