May 27, 2004

still learning #2

I suppose that when most people start to think about what they have learned in the last year of their life, it happens in January. But as a teacher, I start to think about it in May.

I am working on a top ten list of what I have learned in the last year of my life. You can read the first one here.

Here is #2 - I love being a teacher.

I mean it, I really do! Now, there are plenty of things that go along with the job that I don't like. For example, the paperwork, the endless responsibilities, the low pay, etc.

But I love it!

This year has been the best year when it comes to getting to minister to students. I have had countless opportunities, and God has given me the Grace to handle them all. There is nothing more wonderful on this earth than doing exactly what God would have you to do. Nothing compares.

the van

Towing the van home........$43
Fuel pump & other parts....$86
Fixing the melted pieces...$52
Saving about $500 by
doing it myself...............$500
Being 31 years old and
crawling under the van
again with my dad ...........priceless


All around, it has been an expensive week for me. But as I have said before, God is good. And even in this He is good. I honestly don't know how people can survive without Him.

p.s. Thanks again dad, for all of the help that you have given me. Not only coming over and helping with the van, but also showing me how to be the kind of man that would even attempt to fix his own car! I can't ever thank you enough.

May 26, 2004

Creator -- creature

"Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let thy glory be above all the earth."
(Psalm 57:5)

Have we forgotten the creator?

The creator of the heavens and the earth... and the creator of us! Like Jeremiah the prophet, God could say to us, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you..." (Jeremiah 1:5) He is planning out and orchestrating our lives to conform us to the image of His son. (Romans 8:28-29) He knows the best way for us to be us!

He is the creator, we are the creatures. We can't forget that. In order for us to live the most peaceable, enjoyable experience that we can live, we have got to get that right.

It is true that order in nature depends upon right relationships; to achieve harmony each thing must be in its proper position relative to each other thing. In human life it is not other wise.

The right relationship with our creator would be to have Him as our Lord. Many of us would claim to be in that right relationship with Him. We might call ourselves "Christians" or we might say that we are "saved." We might even "call" Jesus Lord! But is that really true, or is it just words? How does this right relationship begin?

A satisfactory spiritual life will begin with a complete change in relation between God and the sinner; not a judicial change merely, but a conscious and experienced change affecting the sinner's whole nature. The atonement in Jesus' blood makes such a change judicially possible and the working of the Holy Spirit makes it emotionally satisfying.

There are many of us who have been "toying around" with God's grace most of our lives. We have claimed this salvation stuff, but we have never really lived it. It has only been words. Jesus is not Lord.

Much of our difficulty as seeking Christians stems from our unwillingness to take God as He is and adjust our lives accordingly. We insist upon trying to modify Him and to bring Him nearer to our own image. The flesh whimpers against the rigor of God's inexorable sentence and begs like Agag for a little mercy, a little indulgence of its carnal ways. It is no use. We can get a right start only by accepting God as He is and learning to love Him for what He is. As we go on to know Him better we shall find it a source of unspeakable joy that God is just as He is.

But how can we know if we are on the right path? How do we know that we are claiming Jesus as Lord and really meaning it?

Our break with the world will be the direct outcome of our changed relation to God. For the world of fallen men does not honor God. Millions call themselves by his name, it is true, and pay some token respect to Him, but a simple test will show how little He is really honored among them. Let the average man be put to the proof on the question of who or what is above, and his true position will be exposed. Let him be forced into making a choice between God and money, between God and men, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above. However the man may protest, the proof is in the choices he makes day after day throughout his life.

Who is your lord? What do your choices say about you? I hope that if Jesus is not really your Lord, if He is simply a figure-head, that you will repent and turn and seek Him. May you be like the prodigal son coming back to the father!

God wants the whole person, and He will not rest till He gets us in entirety. No part of the man will do.


Check out the book
The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer.

May 22, 2004

shaken

My van broke down.

Just at the worst possible time. Just when I am at my busiest. Just when we are getting ready to move. Just when we need the extra money. Just when we need everything to be working right. Just when a broken-down-van could be the straw that broke the camel's back. My van broke down.

It was a gripe. It was a complaint. It definitely didn't fit into my schedule! But there it was, nothing to do about it except get to work on it.

My dad came over the next day and we dug in. After some fiddling and tinkering with a couple of other things, we began to accept the fact that it was the fuel pump.

Now, I don't want to go into any great detail on the mechanics of fuel pumps, but this time I think it is important. The fuel pump on a Chevy Astro, like the one that we have, is inside of the fuel tank. (Now I don't know the genius that decided to put the fuel pump in the tank, but one day I would like to give him a big pat on the back, and say, "Thanks a bundle!") The pump itself is connected to its hoses and the power through the top of the tank.

When we took the pump out, I noticed that the electrical connector was completely fried. The wires coming out of it were melted through. My first thought was, "well there's the problem!" My next thought was, "whoa, wait a minute." I mean, here I was looking at this charcoaled electrical connector, that I found inside of my gas tank. So badly burned that the wires were melted,

Why didn't it ignite? Why didn't it explode? By all accounts it should have... It should have been like a bomb. There were a couple of other guys with us at the time, and we all just stood there for a couple of seconds until one of them said, "God must be looking out for you, brother."

He was.

I was pretty shaken up by it. For me I was thinking about that fuel tank... it is located right under where the boys usually sit. I am thinking about how I kept trying to start the van before the tow-truck came, with those burned, exposed wires. I am thinking about how this could have happened next week while my wife was driving on our way to South Carolina. There are a hundred other scenarios that could have been a lot worse.

And I was griping.

Usually when things don't go my way, that is how I react. With griping and complaining. I usually get a little angry and frustrated. And most of the time I never know why those things happen.

This time God showed me the why.

Like I said before, I was very shaken up by this. Life is fragile. Every moment is precious. And I will think twice before I complain about car problems again.

May 21, 2004

still learning - #1

A couple of weeks ago my good friend, Jonathan Lambeth, asked my to prepare a testimony for Chapel. The testimony was supposed to be about what God has taught me this last year.

At first, I was like, "no problem! This ought to be easy. I have learned a lot this year." The problem was that God really had been teaching me a lot this year. So much so that it seemed that it was going to be difficult to pick one thing out.

So, I decided to do a top ten things that Mr. Harmless has learned this year type of scenario.

I would like to share all of those things with all of you via -- da blog. Only, I am not going to do a count-down. I also threw away the original paper that I had the ten things written on, so these may not be the exact same ten things.

Anyway, here is #1 -- God is good.

I could type about this one all day. I am not going to, but I could easily talk about this one. It doesn't matter what happens to us in this life, we can never say that God is not good. Everything that happens in this life is for our own good, and His glory.

There are things that we go through on this earth that would make it very easy for us to say, "God is not good!" "This is too much, This is too hard!" But those are crys of the un-seeing soul. The soul that doesn't see that God is in charge, and that he has promised us our good.

This is a little example, but I will use it.

Thursday morning in Bible class, the words, "God is good. There is nothing that will ever happen to you that you can say that God isn't good. In fact, everything that happens to you has been perfectly orchestrated to give you the optimal environment to make you the most like Christ..." came tumbling out of my mouth.

Thursday night on the main road going through town, when we were in a big rush to get somewhere with something important... the van died. Griping & Complaining immediately followed.

Then in the back of my head, like a still small voice, came the question, "is God good?"

I pretended like I couldn't hear it.

But it came again, and I knew that I needed to change my attitude. Even this trial, this frustrating, annoying, bad-timing, expensive trial, was exactly what I needed and could handle.

God is good.

May 19, 2004

mister slick

elly and husbandAbout two seconds before this picture was taken,
my son was just "stretching" his arms...

May 18, 2004

Flight 207

Flight 207 was cancelled.

The cancellation of flight 207 will make me a single parent for a day. Only one day. It doesn't sound like much, but when I started thinking about all of the things that I needed to get done in order to get my boys to their proper destination, I started to freak out!

We're talking diapers, extra clothes, blankets (or "bunnas"), pack-n-play's, shoes, coordinations with the baby-sitter, breakfast, phone calls, drinks, more extra clothes, instructions, and all of the things that I am going to forget... It is mind boggling.

All of you mommies out there: I salute you!

... and please, please don't let the next flight get cancelled!

May 17, 2004

The Tree

The flames whipped across
the wide open field. Dancing
and turning, waltzing away.
Through valley, over hill.
The tempo ever faster.
Headed my way.
Burning, Consuming shaft after shaft
of tall slender grass.
Those with feet ran.
Those with wings flew.
But I stood my ground, like him
before me stood. Rooted and deep
my toes clenched the earth; holding
on to rock and dirt.
"'cause that's who I am, and here's where
I'll stand."
----------------------------
The flames flowed toward me
like an incoming tide of heat
and hatred and pain without care.
Burning, Consuming mile after mile
leaving nothing behind, but death
and darkness and gloom-filled despair.
And with a shell so thick from years
on this plane, buffeted by wind and sun and rain,
I thought to myself, "bark it is still bark.
Not stone or steel, and burn it will.
But here I stay, regardless of what comes,
I'll stand where I stand
'cause I am planted here still.
No feet for running,
no wings to fly;
just roots that run deep and leaves that stretch high.
I'll stay, I'll stay cause that's how I'm made."
----------------------------
burned. consumed. by flame and fire.
But standing, standing here still. Waiting
for the wind and the sun and the rain
to tenderly buffet on bark and branch,
restoring my heart, my life, my love.
----------------------------
Solid earth and bright sun,
my soft wind and my sweet rain.
My family are they, and they are my home
'cause I'm rooted in Him
and stretch toward her love.
blogger idol - week 16

May 15, 2004

quesa-hamburger-dilla

My wife is awesome!

The last few times she has left town she has gone out and bought me several meals worth of easy food to make. The last time she left, she left me with the boys. But we were doing good because of her provision.

This time she not only left me with food, but she also left me with a menu. She listed out all of the food that she had bought as meals that I could make. Very thoughtful, but she neglected one item on the menu: The quesa-hamburger-dilla!

You see, she forgot that I love to experiment with whatever I come across in the fridge. I mean, if you have two foods that you like... why not put them together and make an even better food!

Here is the recipe for my quesa-hamburger-dilla.
    Ingredients:
  • flour tortillas

  • shredded cheese (any kind)

  • butter

  • hamburger patty (already grilled on the grill)

  • salsa

    Directions:
  • Get the skillet nice and hot. Drop some butter into the skillet and let it melt. Put the first tortilla in the skillet.

  • Cover with shredded cheese. (make sure some spills onto the skillet -- nothing better than browned cheese around the edges of your quesa-hamburger-dilla)

  • Cut the fresh-off-the-grill-hamburger into small pieces. Spread evenly over the cheese.

  • Dollup some salsa onto the cheese and beef.

  • Spread a little more cheese over the beef and salsa.

  • Cover with a second tortilla.

  • Let brown on one side and flip.

  • Take it out of the skillet. Cut into quarters. Serve!

That is my newest creation. You can also add lettuce, tomato, and sourcream to make the quesa-hamburger-dilla supreme!

Enjoy!

The Maker of the Universe

Here is a poem written by F.W. Pitt. Phil Keaggy put this poem to music several years ago, and that is where I first heard it. It has always been one of my favorite poems, and I thought that I would like to share it with you.

Maker of the Universe
As Man, for man was made a curse.

The claims of Law which He had made,
Unto the uttermost He paid.

His holy fingers made the bough,
Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow;

The nails that pierced His hand were mined,
In secret places He designed.

He made the forest whence there sprung
The tree on which His body hung;

He died upon a cross of wood,
Yet made the hill on which it stood.

The sky that darkened o'er His head,
By Him above the earth was spread.

The sun that hid from Him its face,
By His decree was poised in space.

The spear which spilled His precious blood
Was tempered in the fires of God.

The grave in which His form was laid
Was hewn in rocks His hands had made.

The throne on which He now appears
Was His from everlasting years;

But a new glory crowns His brow,
And every knee to Him shall bow:

The Maker of the universe.

---- F.W. Pitt

May 14, 2004

new design

I almost put a post that said:
So, how do you like my new design? I would love to hear your feedback. It is a combination of the old design and one of blogger's new designs. Let me hear those comments!

But then I thought about it. I just spent several hours working on this stupid thing. And frankly, I don't care if they like what I did!

Am I having a bad attitude?

May 11, 2004

Blogger!

Well, Blogger has changed some things around.

Some of the changes I really like. But it is going to have to mean changing my template. I am not too excited about that. I don't remember where I got the template that I have, but I like it, and I am not looking forward to going back and changing all of that stuff.

Oh well...

May 10, 2004

"My kids..."

Ok, Mr. Harmless doesn't know that I'm posting this because he is off in dreamyland and would hate it if he knew....but, I thought you all would like to hear what he said about you this past Friday night.

We went to the Junior/Senior. It was our first time attending for various reasons and my heart grieves that it is our last. It was lovely...really. I didn't know what to expect because of the criticisms that I had heard from non-attending students (Paul...you big geek-you missed it). What I found was a really emotional evening with lots of students that I believe are great. Really great. I talk often of all that you guys have in our school while failing to mention what we have in you. Despite the questionable entertainment and the eating of the gold fish(es), I walked away grateful for being invited to such and event.

On the way home we were re-living the night and Mr. Harmless began the whole "I hate that we are moving" conversation that happens on a weekly basis at our house. The thing that stuck out this round was how he felt when he watched the video of all the graduating students. He said, "It was very sad for me. I couldn't believe how much they had all grown up. I feel like they are MY kids....in fact, when I think of them in my mind, I call them "my kids".

Do you all know how much you are loved by your silly ole' Math and Bible teacher? He took a chance on a temporary job "teaching" and you have hooked him. You made a failure feel like a champ! Thank you...we will miss you more than you will ever know. The Wife

May 7, 2004

teachers are people too

Like all good teacher's lounges, there is a coffee maker.

I am usually the first teacher here in the mornings. The only person that ever beats me here is the Highschool Principal, Scott Grass. But Mr. Grass doesn't drink coffee. So, when I get here, one of the first things that I do is get the coffee going! (I could talk alot about coffee, but I will save that post for another day.)

I normally head straight up stairs, set my stuff down, grab my coffee mug, and head to the coffee-maker. While the coffee is brewing, I will usually unlock the rest of the doors, unless Mr. Grass has beat me to it, and then go back and wait for the sweet nectar of life to finish its perking.

Now in the teacher's lounge there is also a sink. Above the sink there is a sign that reads:
Teachers,
please wash your dishes.
"Let everything be done
decently and in order..."

That sign is right above the sink full of dirty coffee mugs.

Now, I have to be honest, this has always bothered me. Mostly because I am trying to make some coffee and there are all of these mugs in the way. But also because the sign is right there! Now, I also have to admit, there has been a couple of times that I have left my mug in the sink, but I was the first one there in the morning to clean it.

If I was a real servant, I would probably wash the mugs every morning, but... I don't think so!

The other day the Head Administrator e-mailed all of us to remind us that the sign was there. So for one day there was a clean empty sink.

The funny thing about this is how often I hear myself and the other teachers talking to students about the importance of being obedient in the little things. I guess that teachers are just people too.

One of the things that I think makes a good teacher is when the teacher is real. They are as honest as they can be about their own short-comings. If a teacher is never open about their own struggles, it can be discouraging for the student.

Teachers are people too. Don't forget it.

May 5, 2004

becoming you

God is the creator.

Do you believe that? I mean, do you really believe that?

He made you. He formed you. He came up with the idea of you. Before he thought of you, you weren't. And I'm not just talking about your body; I am talking about the very person that you are! Your personality is a perfect design, by the perfect designer. There is nothing about you that He doesn't already know... not because he is observing you, but because you are his creation.

Because of this, He knows how you can be the best you that you can be! But in order for this to happen, in order for us to fulfill our purpose for which we were created and to have the richest fullest life possible... we have to surrender. We have to stop doing things our way, and start doing things His way.

C.S. Lewis puts it this way:
The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become -- because he made us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be.... It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.

Modern society tells us something different. In fact, you might tell yourself something different. It goes against our very nature to give up self. Its like when we think about that, self rears up and says, "whoa, wait a minute! I gotta be me!"

Today we hear a lot about, "finding yourself" or "taking time for yourself". Once, in an interview, Rich Mullins responded to that comment with, "... you'd be lucky to forget yourself!"

Jesus talks about self by saying, "take up your cross daily, deny yourself, and follow me!" Self, the sinful self that we were born with, must die. And it must continue to die... everyday!

You want to be the best you that you can be? You want to truly become you?

Then listen to your creator. Let the master potter form you, you lump of clay.

Normally I can't stand reading a book that I know several other people are reading, but I decided to swallow my pride and pick up the book, The Purpose Driven Life, By Rick Warren. It is a really good book. You should definitely consider giving it a spin around the block. You won't regret it.

May 4, 2004

Receptivity

As you may have noticed, I am reading several books right now. I am not reading any of them particularly fast, but I am definitely plugging through them. (If you scroll down the right side of this blog, you can browse the books that I am currently reading.)

One book that I thought would be a drudgery is The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer. But I have found it is one of the most insightful books that I have read in a long time. Since it wasn't written in this decade, it is a little bit more difficult to read. Probably because he uses words with more than one syllable. Nevertheless, Tozer has succeeded in, once again, making a point that I would like to share with all of you.

Right at the end of a chapter about the presence of God, he starts talking about this thing called receptivity. He begins by saying:

Why do some persons "find" God in a way that others do not? Why does God manifest His presence to some and let multitudes of others struggle along in the half-light of imperfect Christian experience? Of course, the will of God is the same for all. He has no favorites within His household. All He has ever done for any of His children He will do for all of His children. The difference lies not with God but with us.


Tozer then gives several examples of Biblical characters and other famous Christians, "whose testimonies and lives are widely known." Why did they follow hard after God, while others just sat there waiting for something to happen? What is different about these people? Tozer offers a suggestion that hits home...

They differed from the average person in that when they felt the inward longing they did something about it. They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual response.


I love that part, "...they did something about it." I mean, I can't tell you how many times in my life I have been in the middle of temptation, on my way into sin, and I knew the right thing to do... It was almost like there was that still small voice in the back of my head, telling me "Don't do that!" -- "That's wrong!" -- "It's sin!" And even though I knew the right thing to do, and I knew the voice was yelling at me, I did it anyway. I sinned!

That is what separated me from fellowship with God. I enjoyed it when my lips sang praises to him on Sunday, but I acted helpless on Monday. When I knew what was right, I still didn't commit to it.

I can even think of some times when I have turned that voice off. I didn't want to hear it.

I need to be able to repeat after King David...

"When you said, Seek my face; my heart said unto you, your face, Lord, I will seek." (Psalm 27:8)


Check out the book
The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer.