In Our Schools, Who Will Win – Our Culture or Our God?

pexels-photo-373488I work in the schools.  I have been a speech and language pathologist for twenty-one years and nineteen of those twenty-one years I have served inside a school.

What I have noticed over the course of time is the decline of so much we used to take for granted-respect of self and others, kindness, and discipline to make the right choices and work within the rules.

When I was growing up, there used to be just a few “bad” kids who stirred up the pot of emotions at school, and we all knew who they were by name.  Looking back as an educator, I can see how some of those kid may have had a learning disability they were trying to cover up or a home life that made them feel insecure or unloved.  I can now understand why some of the “bad” kids were bad.

Today, the decline is not just for a few case scenarios, but actually it’s the good kids we are trying to search for in the crowd.  There are more of these kids who want to learn and work within the rules, be respectful, and learn, but the ones that don’t care are now drowning out the rest.  And there are a lot of them.  More and more each year.  Our quiet kids become quieter, and our loud kids become louder. 

Swearing down the hallways is the second language of choice and teachers being looked at like a fly ready to be squished by a student who didn’t want to be bothered by a directive.  

These are the children who are bolder, broader, and catapulted into the mainstream because they feel it is their right.  I wonder where they got that from?

I don’t blame the kids.  There is a much deeper issue, and I am tired of the deafening noise of the culture we have created allowing our schools to no longer  be a place of peace and learning, but a battleground for unrest and worry.  It’s hard to learn when you don’t feel safe.

What I have observed is a systematic erasing of the verses in our Bible – one by one:

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

Our culture serves a god that serves us, not the other way around.  We are told to pursue whatever make us happy, whatever gives us fulfillment, and makes us feel good.  The god we serve doesn’t ask us to love each other like ourselves.  We are asked to love ourselves above all else.

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. (Proverbs 22:66)

Our culture has the tail wagging the dog.  It asks of itself, “What would make the children happy?” “What would entertain them?” Cue in social media, advertising, parents giving-in, and kids feeling entitled.  What way are we training our kids to go?

Thou shalt not kill.

Our culture doesn’t value life.  It has created death as entertainment in the video games and movies even the youngest of our youngest are allowed to watch and unwanted life a hindrance that needs to be destroyed before it is born.  Why is the shooting up of a school become the battle cry choice of those who are hurting or in need of mental care?  We have become our own gods choosing who will live and who will die.

From what I observe, what my children come home and tell me, and other friends in different districts have shared, we have a new normal coming our way, and it is anything but normal.  With each verse of the Bible we red-line, our culture wins while we lose and our children lose.

The Bible can not be totally erased, no matter how much our culture tries.  It and we will one day have to account for our actions.  Many things need to change, and it needs to begin with the first verse our society decided to cross out:

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”

My hope lies in this:

But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have over come the world.

Dealing with Grief: My Mom is Just Around the Corner

How do you handle grief after losing your mom? Shield of Faith

My Wedding Day with My Beautiful Mom.  I Look Like a Giant Compared to Her!

John 11:25-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

The one year anniversary of my mom’s death came and went a week ago.  I anticipated that moment and wondered how I would feel.  A week later, and I am still wondering how I feel.  

I know that she is not far away.  If she was, I would feel the distance—but I don’t.  I continue to say “My parents” as if she is still here.  When I am at my dad’s house, my mind tells me my mom just ran to the store, and I just missed her.  When I am at the store, my heart tells me she is at home preparing dinner and gearing up to watch the shows she just taped.  When my dad calls and I am only talking to him, I envision my mom at the doctor’s office and not available to pick up the phone.

This last year has been a lot of, “Oh darn.  I just missed her by a second” thoughts, so when the year anniversary came and went, I still just feel it’s a matter of time before I bump into her again.  Our timing has just been off.

Have you ever experienced this?

In a lot of ways, I feel like my mom moved closer towards me.  Closer than has she ever been before.  A year ago she shed the worldly worries and jagged edges that sometimes define our outlook and is sheathed in the love and light of Jesus.  She can see, hear, smell, feel, and delight in the Lord in ways I could only dream about. Depression can’t touch her.  Migraines can’t trap her.  And a lung disease can no longer claim her.

I may not be bumping into my mom at the grocery store or seeing her physically on the couch playing her games on her tablet or deciphering puzzles in her books, but if given a choice, I doubt she would trade her now for our here.  Our here and now will one day by united with hers, but until then, I choose to say, “I’ll see you soon,” rather than, “Where did you go?”  I know where she is, so she never really left.

My mom is simply around a corner I can’t see, and she will step into view when God says it’s time.  She put in her time in a world that harbors sin, disease, and death and transitioned into her eternity.  Our grief of losing them has a way of making us reflect on our own mortality and wonder about life vs. death, but really there is no death.  We have a temporary life and an eternal life.  It’s life and life.

I prayed for my mom’s salvation for years, prayed over her and with her in her sickness, and asked her if she knew where she was going when her corner was swiftly approaching.  She said she knew and felt very peaceful.  I knew in that moment I would be okay because she would be okay.

My peace in my grief comes from the corner I know where my mom turned.  My bumping into her will be a true celebration.  On this side of the corner, I pray God can use me to point as many people as possible to Him.  My purpose and mission help my grief.

What we do with our time on this side of the corner can affect not only the here and now of those we love, but the future forever of the death corner they will turn.  Where do we want to bump into our loved ones when God says it’s time? 

In honor of those we lost and love, let’s begin a mission of seed planting and use our grief for a purpose greater than ourselves.  Let the line turning the corner to an eternity with Christ be so long, the ticket holder ran out of numbers. 

The day we turn the corner and see our loved ones standing behind Jesus, may there be a truck-load of people behind them holding a seed we helped to plant.  That will be a day we will count our grief as joy.

 

 

 

I Wish I Knew It Would Be the Last…

Our clocks are unyielding.  They stretch across time like marching soldiers going to war.  Nothing will deter its advancement forward, no matter how much we beg.

My girls are getting older-both are teenagers.  One just entered into this milestone, and the other one is on the verge of driving.  I was laying in bed thinking about all of their transitions in life, our transitions in life, and I wish I had a heads-up when each milestone in their lives was going to end before the next one began.

Our babies grow out of onesies and into a shirt and pants, but when was the very last time we snapped our child into a onesie?  If time tapped me on the shoulder and kindly alerted me to this passing of the baton, I would have savored my last moment of dressing my child in what I had lovingly packed away in her drawer while anticipating her arrival.

When our babies walk for the first time, we are so celebratory of that moment that we fail to notice something else came to an end.  It isn’t until months later we realize our now mobile child, who feels they now can rule the world, crawled for the last time, and before that, rolled over for the last time.  If I had known that day would be the last day before time wafted that moment like a sheet in the wind, I would have savored my baby rolling to get closer to her toy or performed crawl races with her, so I could watch her flying effortlessly on her knees.

I puffed up with pride the moments my daughters walked unassisted and shifted a little closer to independence, but now I wonder about the last time I held my hands out to support my wobbly child, or the last time she needed my extended finger for stability?  These moments escape so unnoticed until they are noticed years after they disappeared.

I am not asking time to stand still.  I am merely requesting an “ahem” or elbow nudge to let me know when this page turns, it can never be turned back again.

I can’t remember when my daughters became so big that holding them became too difficult.  Their weight and height outgrew my strength, and I had to tell them, “Sorry, mommy can’t hold you.”  The last time I was able to carry her in my arms, I may have held on for a little longer if I had known it was coming to an end.  I can probably imagine myself internally grumbling from struggling to hold my now hefty child, but if I knew I would never have that chance again, I think I would have loved through those minutes instead of wishing them away.

I guess I am just having a hard time discerning these transitions and wondering when did they occur.  Did I think I still had a chance to experience these things one last time or that the finality of them wasn’t real?

My oldest daughter loved digging up worms and filling her plastic cup to the brim. She would sit for long periods of time with her pink shovel softly digging in the wet ground as she carefully exhumed each one.  Dirt wiggled in her cup, and she lovingly carried around the fruits of her work.  I never noticed the day her shovel became idle or her cup remained empty.  If I knew it was the last time she decided this was a fun activity, I would have stopped everything to dig in the dirt with her.

My youngest daughter loved oranges and frequently ran around the house to find me.  She’d lift her arms up to get my attention wanting me to help her peel them.  I am pretty sure I was happy when she could eventually do this on her own.  I look back now and wish I had known it would be the last time I peeled her orange for her before her independence just took another giant leap forward.  I think I would better be able to savor that moment than fly through it impatiently since I had a million other things to do.

I think we spend so much time looking over the horizon at what is coming ahead, deciding this will be a better time, that we miss the time right in front of our eyes.

I know many of us can relate to losing a loved one.  When my mom passed, I wish the last time she came to my house before she got too sick to leave hers was known to us all.  We could have turned that visit into a celebration rather than the normal routine it had become.

I also wasn’t made aware of the last time I savored a meal my mom made, because she was an amazing cook, before the hose providing her life-giving oxygen trapped her behind the four walls of her home.  She tired easily.  I wish I could remember the last time.

Time is cruel but a necessary entity.  Unfortunately, it has yet to tap me on the shoulder and say, “Hey, you may want to savor this because it will be your last time.”  If it would, I would be feeling a lot less nostalgic today as I watch my girls grow into women, and my losses of loved ones wouldn’t be with regrets of missed opportunities and words of love exchanged.

Time marches onward with purpose.  It has to lack emotion, or it would bend and sway to our cries and pleas.  God moves us forward, so we don’t sit where we stand or live where we press pause.  Time is a force of nature created by God for His divine purpose.  In heaven, I understand there is no time.  There won’t be a need or purpose for it.  We will be reveling in the moments where we stand with our Lord and Savior.  That is the moment we will want freeze in time forever.

In the meantime, on this strange and exasperating side of the divide, we have to live with the fact that our moments will be fleeting, our lives will be measured in time and milestones, and in military fashion, we will be forced to march forward no matter what the circumstances may be.  We are marching forward for a reason, but as we do, let’s not take away from what is right before us by craning our necks to see what is around the bend.  We should leave that up to God to determine.  Our present is a gift for a reason.

 

The Power of Inviting a Friend to Church

This is my first video blog, and it is always better to do something for the first time with your best friend!

The topic is the importance of inviting a friend to church.  Because someone stepped out in faith and invited me, the course of my life and my children’s lives changed forever.

If you have someone in the back of your mind you have been thinking about inviting to church, listen to your inner voice.  It may just be God nudging you to change another generation of lives.

Click on the picture!

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Are Those You Follow Worthy of Your Time? Ask God First.

Many want to lead, but who should we follow?  Let the Spirit of God guide you.

Many want to lead, but who should we follow? Let the Spirit of God guide you.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”

(1 John 4:4-6) NIV

I always like to share the passages that I read. The Bible is just such a powerful gift. It’s our sword for a reason.

In 1 John 4, we are asked to be vigilant by testing those who claim to be of God. We are told God is love, and those who do not love are not from God. God sacrificed His Son, and those who do not believe in the sacrificial gift are also not from God.

How many people go out into the world proclaiming they love and they believe, but their actions and words really don’t reflect this truth? I can think of those who try to lead flocks of people when instead of being a shepherd, they really are the wolf.

God gave us His Spirit and with it comes our ability to perform a truth test. Our first commandment is to love God with everything we are, and the second commandment is to love each other as we love Him. We are sheep asked to follow His voice and not the voice of the world. Those who hate what we love-hate us. They never knew the atoning love of God and will make every effort to lead us astray.

You are given the Spirit of God. Listen and apply the truth test to those you follow and believe. False prophets are here, and you are given the ability to see through their facade.

Take a moment today to sit with the promises that God has spoken over your story

What a great message by Bethel. Our roads never end when we let God in. They only multiply.

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“As Abraham did, so I also speak God’s promises over my life. My faith is being strengthened to possess all that Jesus won for me (Romans 4:17-23).” Take a moment today to sit with the promises that God has spoken over your story and strengthen your faith as you declare them in partnership with all of heaven!

Bethel

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Satan Has a Crowbar, But We Have a Sword!

Don't let Satan divide and conquer. Wield the gift you have been given in the Armor of God.

Don’t let Satan divide and conquer. Wield the gift you have been given in the Armor of God.

“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” (1 John 3:21-24) NIV

On my way to drop off my girls at school today, I was praying the Armor of God over them. Watching them walk towards the front door of the school building, I could see how many different ways Satan had the opportunity to steal their joy and push them off the track that God has planned for them. It occurred to me that Satan’s weapon of choice is a crowbar.

He finds the cracks in our defenses, wedges in the curved neck of the beat-up tool, and pulls and yanks until the walls we thought were solid come crumbling down.

This is why our armor is so incredibly important. We can’t shore up every piece of brick and mortar we stacked around us because that would take our undivided diligence. Unfortunately, we are constantly facing division due to sin, and with every drop of its precipitation, our mortar will weaken.

First John 3:21-24 is asking us to keep God’s commands, and the very first one is to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ. It is through this belief that we are able to wear the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and carry the sword of the spirit.

How often in our lives do we feel like everything is running smoothly and out of nowhere, there is a division within our family, discourse at our workplace, jealousy and coveting of what others have, dissatisfaction with our place in this world, or love seems lost between a spouse but found in someone else?

This doesn’t start out big. It starts out small. It starts with a fleeting thought, a silent wish, anger at a wrong, or desiring more than God has provided. It’s a scratch in the weakened mortar until enough space is made for the crowbar to do its job.

The weapon of offense given to us is a sword. Our sword is the Word of God. In all honesty, sometimes our sword can be difficult to pick up. I know when I open God’s Word, it creates a call to action. I read a verse that reminds me to help someone, warns against a chosen path I have taken, informs me the anger I harbor at the unfairness of a situation is time being wasted, and asks me to stop living for the world and start living for Him.

Sometimes I will look at my Bible and think to myself, man, I just don’t have time to deal with what God may be asking me to do today. I have a right to be mad, and I just can’t let it go right now. But God, I want new carpeting! Can’t I just charge it this one time? Or my favorite, I have too much of my own things to deal with!

As I walk past my Bible and leave God’s Word idle, Satan is chipping away at the wall I created because I decided my armor was too cumbersome. The sword that he is deathly afraid of is left on my bedside table which makes his crowbar more powerful than it should be. One look at our sword and he will flee. How often do we leave it leaning on the wall to collect dust?

God’s Spirit is in you and Satan hates that. John tells us that by keeping God’s commands, God lives in us. His Spirit is dwelling within our very souls. Let’s show our enemy the glint of our steel by reading God’s Word, believing in His son, and following His commands. He will take his rusted crowbar and run.

Santa vs. Jesus

Who will win by getting all of your attention this Christmas?

Who will win by gaining all of your attention this Christmas?

I wrote this poem this past March, and oh how it struck me as I read it again.

My daughter went to the Casting Crowns and for King and County concert this past weekend with a dear friend of mine. When she came home, she told me she had heard something she never thought of before. At the concert, the singer said when Jesus was born, there was no room at the Inn. During every Christmas season since, there is still no room for Jesus. Year after year He is uninvited to His own birthday party. Mallory said to me, “Mom, I never thought of it like that before. That is so true, and it makes me really sad.”

If we could ask Jesus what He wants for His birthday, do you think His answer would be, “Please go into debt and spend a lot of money on your children, family, and friends and buy presents that no one will remember receiving by the following Christmas. Also, make sure you are a frazzled mess while you shop, wrap, and prepare in honor of a fictitious man who you pretend is the mascot of Christmas but really you are the one supplying the goods. Do all of this and let the days melt into seconds as you forget to reflect on Me because you are too busy catering to the world”?

I think we can agree that is not what He would want for His birthday. He wants you. He wants every part of you-the good, the bad, and the ugly. He wants you to lift up your face to Him and see Him in all of His glory. He wants you for Christmas. Will you invite Him to His birthday celebration this year?

 

I pencil God in on Sundays,
10:15 is when I’m bringing my crew.
 
I pencil God in on holidays,
It’s the right Christian thing to do.
 
I pencil God in at bedtime,
Falling asleep before finishing my prayers.
 
I pencil God in the next morning,
To finish telling Him my worries and cares.
 
I pencil God in when my life,
Brings me crashing down to my knees.
 
My mirror breaking into a million shards,
No longer reflecting a life full of peace.
 
I pencil God in when I’m concerned,
And control no longer seems mine.
 
I pencil God in when I’m pleased,
And life seems to be going just fine.
 
I pencil God in when I’m driving,
And a song reaches into my soul.
 
I belt out and sing of His praises,
My voice wavering out of control.
 
I pencil God in when it’s convenient,
Or when my mind wanders over to Him.
 
But my God’s pencil is broken,
His thoughts of me never a whim.
 
He carries no lead or eraser,
His calendar cleared open and wide.
 
Waiting for me to turn and see Him,
But my schedule makes me push Him aside.
 
My pencil is fervently writing,
All that I am required to do.
 
And time is just too precious,
To sit quietly and listen to His truths.
 
So the day my pencil slows to a standstill,
And my life is nearer to the end,
 
Will the moments I scheduled be remembered,
Or the times I introduced Christ to a friend?
 
Will the deadlines be oh so important,
Or the marks I made when they were complete?
 
Or the times when I faced my Savior,
While I sat and listened at His feet?
 
It’s time that I broke my pencil,
Making it look exactly like God’s.
 
No eraser or lead to speak of,
No appointment getting all of my nods.
 
I need to look up to my Savior,
Every minute of every day.
 
And put my life on the path He has chosen,
And throw my calendar away.

How Will You Approach Jesus on the Day of His Return?

“And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back in shame.” (1 John 2:28) NLT

How amazing it will be to see Jesus’ face on His return. Whether we see it on this side of heaven or while in heaven, the day He returns to wipe away all sin, sadness, and pain from this world will be a time to rejoice.

No matter how bad I feel on this side of the fall, I know this is temporary, and He is eternal. I do believe this pain has a purpose. Sometimes it takes our pain to bring us to our knees because from this vantage point, we can look up and choose to see Christ.

I want no one to shrink back in shame the day the Lord comes. I want as many people as possible to approach Him with courage. It is not in our perfection that we can courageously look upon our Savior, but if we chose to wear His righteous perfection, we are made worthy.

The Christmas season is upon us. The presents lack their luster because it is the presence of our Christ that I want to celebrate.
This is my favorite Christmas song by one of my favorite Christian singers. What beauty it will be to behold the Great I Am!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zybbNvK25Y

I’ve been asked many times what my favorite Christmas song…
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What Would Be Your Answer if Jesus Came Today?

What small thing could you do to change someone’s life?

What small thing could you do to change someone’s life?

“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28).

If Jesus came today, what worry that you are holding onto would be erased in an instant? Would it even matter anymore?

If Jesus came today, would you be able to tell Him about the people you pointed His way?

If Jesus came today, would you be confident or ashamed in how you are living your life for Him?

I read this verse today, and it really convicted me. I love my Savior, but how often is our time, talents, and treasures used for this world instead of pointing others to Him?

Not everyone is called to mission work or preaching. God gave each of us our own unique personality and strengths because they serve a very big purpose in His kingdom. We just need to pray to Him if we are unsure of what that is and ask for opportunities to present themselves where we can help. The best thing we can do is just be willing. He will open our eyes to those who are lost and provide ways we can love them and show them the love of Christ.

It may be as simple as providing a meal, raking someone’s leaves, offering an ear when someone seems like they are hurting, or inviting someone to church.

I was lost and searching until a friend invited me to church. That was all it took. My heart was ready to hear the truth, and God used my friend to get me to a place to hear it. She was open and willing to do what God asked, and my soul was saved.

Let’s not be ashamed when Christ comes but be confident we are loving people and pointing them towards His kingdom. We are His hands and feet. We just have to be willing to use them.