W O N D E R Teachers, Omega, & The End Game

As we continue our character study of WONDER teachers, today we land on the letter O.

Omega, the last letter in the Greek alphabet, symbolizes endings and literally means great O. How fitting, because God is the end of all things and His name is greater than any other name named in heaven and on Earth.  Since our goal is to put Omega into context for the classroom, I will present some essential questions (ever hear of those fellow teachers?!) for us to mull over…

What is God’s end-game, dear teachers?  What is our end-game?  Should not they be one in the same?

As I have purposely pondered God’s name Omega, I keep coming back to this same question, “What is God’s end-game?”  Ultimately, God has a divine plan and purpose for mankind, but for today’s post let’s call it teacher-kind.

Everything we do in the classroom should be predicated with this question in mind, or, I submit to you, it will be a waste for kingdom purposes.

So let’s get down to the bottom line, shall we?

In teacher-kind, God’s end-game is for us to acquaint as many students as possible to Christ, whether directly or indirectly, knowing when we do our part, He will do His.  You may be asking, but how? Please keep reading for a few suggestions.

First of all, I always ask God everyday to help me be His witness by bringing anything and everything that’s said or taught during the day back around to Him if at all possible.  For example, anytime I hear a student discussing their church, youth group, or Christian club activities, I take full advantage of that conversation, whether individually or in front of the class depending on where and when it’s said!

Also, I will give examples of whatever I’m teaching with a Biblical reference if possible. Today, in one of my classes, I was teaching the word allusion.  The example I gave was one of a character in a story being swallowed up in a dust storm like Jonah.  Jonah was swallowed by a big fish, so there’s the allusion!  Opportunities abound.  We just have to be ready on purpose, dear Christian teacher!

What happens as we purposefully take advantage of these opportunities a lot of the time?  Bingo!  A discussion does! 🙂

Still another great idea is to volunteer to sponsor a Christian club in your school.  Talk about a golden opportunity!… It offers a legitimate avenue to blanket your school for Christ.  We must use our imagination as well as pounce on these opportunities as they come our way. We are in this for the purpose of leading our students to Christ. Therefore, we must take advantage of each moment when it rears it’s beautiful head.

Yes, we need to be all about our non-verbal communication and underlying values in our day to day demeanor as we imitate Christ, BUT we must also be consciously watching, listening, and waiting as we remember the end-game – acquainting our students to Christ – includes much more!

Prayerfully, we can accomplish our goal in a way that doesn’t get us into trouble with our secular school systems.  But, if it does, He will take care of us.  That’s His job… a job He is very good at, I might add!

Honestly, I stand amazed that our God has, on purpose, placed us in the great mission field of the classroom. Aren’t you?  What a privilege to know we are part of His end-game!  It gives us a purpose and passion like none other.  Amen?!  He is the Alpha and OMEGA.  Keep looking up, teacher-kind, our ending is going to be like none other!

The letter N is up next time.  Until then, be a WONDER teacher! God bless, and stay devoted.

#WONDERteachers  #TeacherKind  #Omega  #GodsEndGame

 

Wonder Teachers & The Woman (Teacher) At The Well

Are we W O N D E R  Teachers?

I admire a strong woman.  I admire a strong man. Equally, I admire a strong teacher. Passionate about what they do and eager to learn themselves, strong teachers get the job done for their students, but, more importantly, for the Lord.  

And yet, sometimes, strong teachers don’t even realize the strength they possess. In my opinion, the woman at the well, in John chapter four, was the owner of great strength that was yet to be released until she encountered Jesus.

Let’s put on our spirit eyes and think about it together, dear teachers, by taking an omniscient view of the story (which God so graciously allows us to do) from the time she met our Savior until after she met and spent time with Him.  I hope you see where I’m going with this!

John 4 English Standard Version (ESV)  Jesus and the Woman of Samaria

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.[a]
A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.[b] The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word.42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Look at how the power – the electricity – generated from the living water which Jesus offered her changed that Samaritan town! Look at how many people’s lives were forever transformed that day – all because one woman (picture a teacher) took the vision and told others.

My take away from this character study of the woman at the well is this: we are like dried up wells when we don’t spend time with Jesus.  

It reminds me of the steady, small spring feeding the lake on our farm in Alabama. Due to the last few years of drought in the South, the spring stopped flowing – just plain dried up down deep. Thankfully though, the Lord has replenished our region with an abundance of rain this year and the spring is slowly, but surely, coming back to life and refilling the lake once again.

Also, I think of the Hoover Dam holding back all that water from the Colorado River until those towering turbines release it downstream generating a massive amount of power in the region… that’s the type of power the living water of Jesus unleashed in the woman at the well.  That’s what I picture when I think of her story. She got the job done after her encounter with the omnipotent Savior of the world.  Our stories should be one in the same – as she got the job done for the Lord and her town, we get the job done for the Lord and our students.

By spending time at The Well, we know our sin is forgiven. We know He fills us with His word. We know He fills us with His Spirit too, which, in turn, feeds the power grid of our classroom with passion and love. As it changed those Samaritans, so too it will change our students.  Let’s be like the woman at the well and GO TELL! Amen? AMEN!

Furthermore, when we abide at The Well everyday, dear teachers, it will make all the difference between just being a teacher and instead transform us into the WONDER teacher God wants us to be.

Next time, we will take a look at the letter O.  So, I’ll  leave you wondering about whom we will be discussing until then! 😉  God bless you and stay devoted.  See you next week here at Devotions for Teachers. Blessings to you and your students.

#RealizeYourStrengthInHim

 

WONDER Teachers, Introduction

Two weeks into a new school year…  Are you feeling the burn, dear teachers?  I know I am.  Planning began July 31 for our district.  Psychologically, that’s a hard date to swallow 😮 as August 1 sounds more palatable to this teacher.  Nonetheless, we are more than conquerors according to God’s word!

Speaking of conquerors, I had the opportunity to see the new Wonder Woman movie this summer with my cousin Deb.  I couldn’t help but witness the parallels the movie presented between the character of Wonder Woman and today’s Christian teacher.  It actually shouted a volume of correlations into my ears.  Here’s a quick synopsis from Google…

Before she was Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, Diana meets an American pilot (Chris Pine) who tells her about the massive conflict that’s raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time. Fighting alongside men in a war to end all wars, she finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.

Here’s my take on this summary:

Before becoming a Wonder Teacher, insert your name here, child of the King, trained to be an unconquerable warrior.  Raised in ___________,  __________ meets the Pilot of her soul who tells her about the massive conflict that’s raging in school classrooms across the globe.  Convinced that she can stop the threat, _____________ leaves her home for the first time.  Fighting alongside fellow Christian teachers in a war to end all wars, __________  finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.  

How about that?  Powerful, isn’t it?  This is not hyperbole in the spiritual realm whatsoever.  The hearts and minds of our students today are influenced by a myriad of evil forces.  We counteract these forces day in and day out in our classrooms whether we realize it or not.  Think of Minecraft VR. That’s us.  Spiritual warfare, however, is not a virtual reality.  It is reality.  Amen and amen.

For this reason, character studies intrigue me, whether fictional or not.  A lot can be gleaned from biblical characters specifically.  I think a good bit of the time, as we read about them, we don’t take the time to process exactly what God would have us take away from these narratives.  It would behoove us to learn from them, inspiring us onward or cautioning us from failure, destruction, or anything in between.

Over the next six weeks, I am examining six Bible characters that coincide with the acronym WONDER as a mnemonic device to facilitate remembrance of this study. Biblestudytools.com defines wonder as the following:

The verb “wonder” occurs only a few times in the Old Testament; “wonder” as noun is much more frequent, and is chiefly the translation of the word mopheth, a splendid or conspicuous work, a “miracle” (Exodus 4:21; 11:9, etc.), often conjoined with ‘othoth, “signs” (Exodus 7:3; Deuteronomy 6:22; 13:1,2; 34:11; Nehemiah 9:10, etc.). Other frequent words are pala’, pele’, a “marvel,” “miracle” (Exodus 3:20; 15:11; Joshua 3:5; Isaiah 9:6, margin “wonderful counselor,” etc.). In the New Testament the ordinary verb is thaumazo, and the most frequent noun is teras, a “marvel,” “portent,” answering in its meaning to Hebrew pala’. As in the Old Testament the “wonder” is chiefly a miraculous work, so in the Gospels the feeling of wonder is chiefly drawn out by the marvelous displays of Christ’s power and wisdom (Matthew 15:31; Mark 6:51; Luke 4:22, etc.).

God’s word is full of wonder and wonders!  Isn’t it exciting then to be reminded of John 14:12?…

As we begin our six week study, please pray about how God can and will make you a WONDER Teacher, not to glorify yourself, but so students may be the beneficiaries of your exploits on behalf of the kingdom.  We will begin with the letter W and the Woman at the Well.  I hope you will join me next week, dear teachers.  I am looking forward to it! God bless you in your classrooms this week, stay devoted, and let’s become WONDER Teachers together!!

#WONDERTeachers  #Conquerors  #BeOne

 

 

Jesus: Serving Savior & Serving Teacher

Jesus is a serving savior!

And…

Jesus is a serving teacher!

Fellow teachers, if we want to follow in His footsteps throughout the school year, let’s examine ourselves inwardly, before we gather our chicks around us in our classrooms, by asking ourselves two questions that will produce fruit for the kingdom outwardly.

1- Are we a serving teacher?  

2- Are we serving our students the way Jesus would?  

Now that we’ve completed our first week of school for the year in my district (four pre-planning days + one day with students), this thought has been on my mind especially after completing our first day with the kiddos yesterday.  I know I briefly touched on the subject of serving last week, but I want to add a little more icing on top of the cake if I may (or more chocolate on the donut, syrup on the waffle, or more whip cream on the milkshake…God’s word is that good!).

Last Sunday, our pastor preached a sermon with this same title as we were honoring military members and first responders.  It’s good to hear other perspectives on serving. What really resonated with me, though, was the fact that what he was saying about them could also be said of teachers, too.

Therefore, I’m tweaking it for my fellow teachers out there who are reading this blog post.  Let me say, if you are as exhausted as I am already, it will give you fresh energy and insight as to what’s important in the long run in our classrooms, because when we serve our students, we serve our Savior.

In order to accomplish the mission of service, our spiritual antennas must be sensitive to receive signals from our Father and our students, in order not to miss any opportunities He sends our way. I know sometimes I may sound dramatic, but nothing, I mean NOTHING, is more important then when eternity is at stake.  And eternity is definitely what is in the balance here.  Make no mistake about it!  Selah.

So here it is in a condensed version tweaked for teachers…

  • Serve others because Jesus served others – rephrase – serve students because Jesus served students.  I can think of at least 12 students Jesus had close by most of the time!

  • Jesus served people in crisis – rephrase – We have students (too many sometimes) who are in a crisis. Let’s serve them in their crisis’ situations.  The woman who was caught in adultery, the officer whose daughter was sick – too many to count, just like us!

  • Jesus served people who didn’t care about him – rephrase – sometimes all the work we do serving our students and their parents will go unnoticed or unappreciated, because they simply don’t care. Some students and parents can even be down right mean.  Let’s serve them anyway.  He died for them for goodness sake!

Serving others opens the door to a person’s heart.  Thus, serving students opens the door to our students’ hearts.  It’s both a natural (and a supernatural!) thing.  We want those doors open fellow teachers!  Why?….

While we certainly can’t be our students’ savior, by serving them we can introduce them to Him!  I find that to be the most gratifying act of service there is.  Bar none.  Now that’s something that will keep us energized as we press on toward the high calling. Amen?!

God bless you dear teachers.  Until next week, serve, serve, and serve some more!

#JesusServes  #SoShouldWe

From Him, For Him

Welcome back to another school year, dear teachers!  

As sure as the sun comes up, school begins again.  Amen?  As you know, I wasn’t quite sure I would continue the blog as the sun went down on the 2016-17 school year.  But alas, for my sanity, I must continue to write as it’s therapy for my thirsty soul.  I appreciate the responses you shared with me about Devotions for Teachers.  They truly blessed my heart.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

As we start anew, let’s forget about what lies behind.  A new year is a fresh beginning, not only for us, but for our students too.  Whether our 2016-17 was a home run or a strike out, we teachers have the opportunity to make that good year last year an even better year this year, or that bad year last year one we can reflect upon, learn from, and improve.  If this is you, please remember we all have them from time to time.  Get up, dust yourself off, and resolve to press on!

Let me begin by asking a question for us to mediate upon.  If God were to grade our teaching, what grade would we earn?  An A, a B, a C, or an F?

 

The first portion of today’s title simply states the words From Him, meaning God has given us a gift and we are to use it to serve others well.  I would venture to believe serving well translates to earning an A in God’s gradebook, wouldn’t you?  His is the highest of standards, is it not? Therefore, throughout the year, let’s keep asking ourselves, am I serving my students, administrators, fellow teachers, and parents well?   It’s His plan for us to do so and to the best of our ability.  We can do all things through Him who strengthens us.

The second portion proclaims: For Him.  Yes, we are serving others, not for ourselves or to be seen (lest we think we are something), and it is for them – whomever “them” may be (see list below). Ultimately though, it’s all for Him, in order that He shines through us whereby others may come to know and love Him too.  Simply put, we are God’s hands and feet with our gifts. Christian teachers in any school classroom can make a difference for the kingdom. Amen!

Therefore, I beseech you, both sistren and brothren teachers, to stamp it on the notepads of your minds this year that all that we do is From Him and For Him. It’s all about Him when we…

 pray for our students

 greet our students at the door

 model Christ-like values

 plan our lessons

 teach our lessons

 love our students

 discipline our students

 serve our students

 collaborate with fellow teachers

 meet with parents

 convene with administrators

 encounter criticism

 love our job

 question our calling (It happens!)

…and all with a smile on our face. 🙂  God can do the impossible!

Let’s drive it out of the park for God this year, dear teachers!  I’m praying God rains down His blessings on you until the riverbanks of your soul spill out onto the floodplain of your students and they, in turn, will bless the Lord.  Stay devoted, and I’ll see you back here next week at Devotions for Teachers.

#FromHim  #ForHim  #HomeRunsForJesus