Isaiah 55:12

Isaiah 55:12 Tree
“You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.”
Isaiah 55:12

Walking with the Teacher # 2: He Starts with the Blessings

He Starts with the Blessings

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God,
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5: 3-10

To be “Blessed”

To be blessed means more than to be happy, healthy or overflowing with material goods. It indicates a joy that goes beyond mere emotion. Max Lucado, in The Applause of Heaven, calls it “…a delicious gladness that comes from God. A holy joy. A sacred delight.” It is what we all really want at the core of our souls. Any form of earthly pleasure is only a signpost or a substitute for what God really wants to give us. To be blessed by God… it is peace, it is bliss. And it is reward.

Jesus starts out his earthly ministry as a teacher by talking to his listeners about rewards. The notes in the NIV study Bible refer to the Sermon on the Mount as “…in effect, King Jesus’ inaugural address, explaining what he expects of members of his kingdom.” But there is no fanfare, no royal proclamation, no PowerPoint presentation. He simply climbs up a hillside and begins to teach the first group of students God has given him, those who would one day share these lessons and turn the world upside down. He does not start out with a list of regulations and the penalties that will result if they are breached. He does not promise entertainment or fun times ahead for those who follow him. But he does unmistakably appeal to his listeners’ desire and need to be rewarded for right action.

Jesus is the best teacher who ever lived. When we answer God’s call on our lives to be teachers, we are signing up to walk with the Teacher, to sit at his feet and take lessons from him about all aspects of this demanding and rewarding career and ministry. He will show us how to communicate truth in a way that touches the hearts as well as the heads of our pupils. Demonstrating the perfect balance of correction and encouragement,he can inspire us to inspire others. He will teach us how to teach.

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When Grey Turns Glorious

When Grey Turns Glorious
When grey turns glorious
it gets a new name.Winter sky and sea.
On this day there is coolness, but no chill.
Hard to put a name to the color spread before me.
Then suddenly I see that behind those clouds
the sun is shining still.All that’s grey becomes silver
When it is infused with that light!
When God sends the sparkle and shine,
It turns shimmery, silvery
Glistening bright.Lord, when my seasons turn to coolness and grey,
When there is limited warmth in my sunless day,
To the denseness and drear, send your brilliant light
To illuminate the clouds that surround.

The gleam of your glory,
Made manifest in silver.

~ Gail Bones

Walking with Faith – # 2 in a series

In the weeks that followed our meeting, Faith and I would greet one another and smile at various church events. A key step in the establishment of our friendship was the day I felt led to call her to pray when I’d heard she was having an especially difficult time in some aspects of her ministry at church. I have learned the importance of never saying “no” or “not now” when the Holy Spirit prompts me to drop what I am doing and pray with someone. The results are always so much greater than the awkwardness the situation might initially entail. It was a few weeks later after a worship service that she approached with a shy smile and said the words that every middle-aged Christian woman secretly longs to hear, or would if she knew what it would eventually mean to her : “I don’t know what it is that you’ve got, but whatever it is I want some! Would you be willing to mentor me?”

Wow. Saying yes to such a request assumes you have the confidence to believe that you have something to say that she will want to hear. I’d have to trust God with that one. I did not enter into this relationship lightly, but prayed about it and felt God directing me to say yes to the time commitment it would require. In addition to being Jeff’s wife, I was at the time a high school teacher and mother of my own two in high school and college, with a one-night a week commitment to direct and lead the high school praise band. Time is not a commodity I would have thought I would have had any kind of surplus of, but God knew what he was about to do and he guided me in the right direction. He gave me the idea to begin by killing two birds with one stone: I would incorporate my need for physical exercise with my desire to say yes to Faith by asking her to walk with me. And so I started walking weekly with Faith.

When Faith and I began to walk the streets near my home, I noticed that male neighbors I hadn’t seen outside with a garden hose in years would suddenly appear on their front yards, grinning from ear to ear, doing everything but a muscle-man flex as they attempted to appear to be casually watering their lawns as this vision of beauty passed by. What did this girl have? What was it like to walk through life like Cinderella at the ball?

Walking with Faith as her invisible sidekick brought some of my unattractive hang-ups up to the surface. The verse from Proverbs, “Beauty is fleeting and charm is deceitful, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised,” was pasted on the mirror in my bathroom for Pete’s sake. Didn’t I believe the Bible? Was I really this shallow? It was at this starting point, this identification of some of my true shallowness that the Lord began to go deep- deep into the wounds of my childhood, the rejection I’d felt, the insecurities that came on in junior high and never really left. Like a fungal yeast infection, the spores remained, sometimes seemingly symptomless, but always waiting for an opportune moment. So God had arranged for me, a middle-aged woman who felt she was losing her figure, her beauty, and although I hate to admit it, my feelings of worth because of it, to spend time regularly parading through the streets with a beauty queen. I must have prayed for God to humble me and he found just the way to do it!

Faith was, and is, unique. She is one of God’s greatest gifts to me, right up there with his gifts to me of my husband and my children. In a way that only God has known, she has been a sign of his mercy, grace, forgiveness, and comfort to me. I sometimes gloss over lists like this of religious words, so perhaps you do too. Let’s slow down and chew on this a bit. When I say mercy, it is because I know that my past is not forgivable, save for his mercy. When I say grace, it is because I know that a gift of this kind of friendship is nothing I deserve, nothing I drummed up or found on my own. When I say forgiveness, it is because he has given me in Faith what I regret daily that I gave away without knowing what I was doing, and when I say comfort, it is because the God who died so that he could forgive us does not leave us comfortless. He sends us people he wants to use to love us for him. Faith has taught me much about a Father who sees me as loved, accepted, forgiven and altogether beautiful. But we did not get there overnight. ( to be continued)

Walking with Faith – Introduction

Walking with Faith -Introduction

Walking up to the edge of the Pacific Ocean is an exercise in steeling one’s nerves. Icier by far than the Atlantic, the Pacific does not beckon bathers the way warmer Hawaiian waters do; it dares you to enter it. It taunts you with its aquamarine beauty while it threatens to shock you dead from the cold. It’s much harder even than to stand on a pier and dive into a New England lake where it is all over in an instant. No, at the California beach you have to go shallow before you can go deep. Whether you dart in like a child or tiptoe in inch by painful inch like a matron in a vast black swimming corset, it’s a process. Never comfortable. Always worth it.

I’m not afraid of my shallow side. I recognize that you have to go wade through the whitewash before you can ride the waves. Not that I surf mind you, but I do know first hand the joy of riding in on a boogie board. Not with reckless abandon, usually with some thought of the possible chiropractic implications, but with joy nonetheless. The exhilaration of those few moments always begins with my having to grab the guts to get in the water, to assume the risk, to get out there and live a little. But you do have to go shallow before you can go deep.

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