Teaching to Learn and Learning to Teach

Obedience to the Golden Rule is “So” Important
January 18, 2012, 8:26 am
Filed under: Christian Living, Cool Finds, Good Advice, Gospel, Lessons Learned from Reading

I really appreciated this post that explains that obedience to the golden rule is linked to remembering God’s goodness to us. It is worth reading the whole thing, but here is a little excerpt to whet your appetite.

We first must understand that God will always do good for us (v.11) — so therefore we can devote ourselves to doing good for others (v.12) … Jesus does not want us to obey the Golden Rule by gritting our teeth and ignoring our own needs so we can care for the needs of others. He wants us to obey by first trusting all our needs to our Father in earnest prayer — resting in the fact that He is rejoicing to do us good with all His heart and soul. Then — trusting that God is passionately pursuing us with good — we can devote ourselves to doing good for others.


Increase My Faith
November 16, 2011, 3:35 pm
Filed under: Christian Living, Good Advice, Gospel, Lessons Learned from Reading, Vocation, work

Recently my group of coworkers read a chapter from a book on words of life and words of death. It examined the counsel that Jesus gave to the people He encountered. It caused us to think about I Thessalonians 5:14. To be helpful we must choose our words wisely. They must not only be true but they must address that individual where they are at. The article reminded me of the fact that most people come into counseling with their interpretation of the problem and the solution. Martha did. She thought the situation was that she needed to put on a fine meal, the problem was her sister, and the solution was Jesus telling her sister to get her petuty into the kitchen to work. Jesus didn’t reply the way she wanted. To reply the way she wanted, would have been harmful to Martha. It wouldn’t have brought life to her soul it would have caused her to rely on herself, be preoccupied with making a meal, and to continue to judge God in thinking that He didn’t care for her, if He didn’t respond the way she wanted Him to, in order for her to control the situation. Instead he says, “Martha, Martha, You are anxious and troubled about many things. Mary has chosen the better portion and for that she will be rewarded.”

I am a people pleaser and as such these words about counsel are hard to think about. I need my faith, wisdom, grace, and love for God and people to be increased by God so I can walk in the Spirit and minister rightly. If I walk in the flesh, my counsel, is going to lead people away from Christ not to Him.

In chapel, a speaker spoke on evangelism. He said the fields are ripe for harvest and yet we tend to look at them and say they are green… Who can live this way? God why did you choose me? I’m so awkward, I’m not a good representative. Why didn’t you choose the best, the brightest, and the suave to represent you?

If God wanted to bring a person to the saving knowledge of Himself or encourage, confront, and have them change He could snap and it would be done perfectly. Instead He chooses to graciously and patiently work through imperfect you and me and He gets the glory and He works for our good.

Recently there have been a number of things where I have been led to cry out in response to God’s commands or God’s call on my life, “Who is sufficient for these things?” “Why did you choose me? Why didn’t you choose someone who was wise or more gifted, someone who wasn’t broken and didn’t mess things up?” “Lord, increase my faith and increase my love!!!” I’ve been led to see my desperate need for Him and I’ve been reminded of the confidence I have in the Holy Spirit abiding within me. I see the work He has done and I know that He will be faithful to continue it. I have a confidence that He will grow my faith and He will foster more love in my heart because He is faithful and He will finish the work He has begun in His perfect way in the perfect time. One day I will be with Him and I will be like Him and I will see Him as He is but for now I will walk humbly and faithfully, confessing my failures and sins, and depending on Him for truth, growth, and life. And in the mean time, I join with the disciples at seeing the great call of Jesus to forgive others in Luke 17, in saying, “Increase my faith!”

A Conversation with Joan and Ted

God is faithful! That’s the message I came away with after spending an hour or two with my grandmother’s friends, Joan and Ted. That is the summary of their life stories.

How did they meet? God worked it out. Ted had wanted to be married for a long time. He would pray for a wife but he didn’t really have a social group with women in it. He cared for his mother until she died and worked at the post office. He met Joan by going on a few dates with her sister :). He got along with her sister, but they didn’t fit. Then he met Joan! He was 54 when they married and she was in her 40s. That was 32 years ago. Neither had been married before. “We’ve made up for it since,” he told me.

How did Ted end up working at the post office? He would have been happy doing anything. His father didn’t like working in a factory, but Ted wouldn’t have minded, but His cousin heard of a job opening at the post office. Two weeks later he was working there in a job he loved. He continued to work in the same place until he retired. They’ve now been retired for around 25 years. They said they have been enjoying life ever since. I tried to correct them and say “But you’ve spent your retirement serving too.” They corrected me by saying, “That’s a large part of enjoying retirement!”

They also talked about how they ended up getting into my grandmother’s retirement home. They never could have imagined being able to afford living there, but a realtor put the idea into their heads as they sold one house and bought another. They got on a wait list as they fixed up their house. When the retirement home called them one August saying they had an apartment available, they declined it. The home called again on Labor Day and Ted said yes. Their house went on the market September 11, 2001. Joan asked Ted, “Do you still think this is a good idea?” He said yes. Their house sold in 2 days to a descendant of the man who built the house. It sold for more than they asked and was paid for in cash. They doubled their money and moved into the village before the housing market crashed.

Joan and Ted spoke on how they couldn’t have imagined or planned a better fit than what God had in store at the retirement home. It combines their “love for old people, music, and service.” Joan is a part of the choral group there and she plays the piano for several chapel services. Ted is the resident helper/fix-it man. They take people to appointments and to the grocery store. My grandma even has them book her doctors appointments to make sure they are free. If the doctor calls her about an appointment, she has them call Joan. They help the different chaplains, including my grandfather, and the different residents over the years.

They talked about my grandma as a favorite of theirs. They told me that different residents respond differently to pain and old age. Many are crotchety, but it doesn’t matter how much pain my grandmother is in she doesn’t respond grumpily. They said that they will be in the E.R with her because she is doing poorly and even then they can laugh together at something that happens. What a sign of the Spirit at work! They talked bout what a joy it is to serve here. They aren’t just serving her though, they are serving all of us who love my grandmother and can’t be there. It’s nice to know someone is watching out for her and is available if she needs. We’ve adopted them. They are such an example of a life of service lived for God. They may not have children, but their lives as a faithful man and a faithful woman have led to many spiritual children. May I live a life worthy of the call of my Savior as they have.

Counsel and Comfort from Good Friday
April 22, 2011, 9:29 pm
Filed under: Christian Living, Counseling, Gospel

“Isn’t God concerned for His glory? Didn’t He promise to work for believers’ good? I don’t see how that is happening. Where is God? There seems to be no hope here.” Perhaps you recognize some of those phrases. There have been times in my life where those thoughts weighed heavily upon my heart and where I cried out to God in tears, because I didn’t understand. If you are in the midst of a trial or helping someone else in the midst of sorrow, find comfort in Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. Those questions were asked by disciples on Good Friday. Good Friday seemed like the darkest day in church history to the believers in Jerusalem. It seemed that God’s plan was defeated, but He was still in control. It seemed like His promises were not sure and were not in effect, but they were. He was more concerned with His glory and believer’s good than they were and He knew how to best achieve it, better than they could have even imagined. God crushed His son for all of us (Isaiah 53:5). Apart from that dark day, there was no salvation available. He was and is the only way. He was sovereignly in control orchestrating the whole thing, but that’s not what it felt like! It felt like the Romans and the Jewish religious leaders had defeated God. The disciples were hiding and were scared.

Luke 24 gives the account of two despairing disciples on the road. They were despairing, not realizing that Hope Himself travelled with them. They could not see at that moment how God was a work. Their eyes were kept from recognizing their travelling partner as the resurrected Christ. They were sharing with Him the events of good Friday, not realizing that Resurrection Sunday had already come. Here was their interpretation of the events: “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people and how our chief priests and rulers delivered Him up to be condemned to death and crucified Him. But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel and now, some women are saying He was resurrected.” Their hope had not been misplaced. He was the one to redeem Israel; but they failed to understand how God was accomplishing that. Jesus responds to them saying, “O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?”

The wise and full of faith believe the promises of God even when they can’t understand how those promises are in effect in that situation. The wise and those who are quick to believe know that even though it is Friday, Sunday will come. The wise and those who are quick to believe understand that even though the wicked may seem to prosper and the righteous appear to be punished, that there is a different end. That God’s righteousness reigns and will continue to reign and eternity looks different than today (Psalm 73; II Cor. 4). They understand that although “my heart and flesh may fail, God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Perhaps you are tempted to despair as you question a family tragedy; the abuse of the helpless; a bitter argument; the sorrows, griefs, and persecution of believers; painful circumstances; or the public, blatant sin of believers. Perhaps it is a church split and you say, “Lord, don’t you care. Don’t you see what this is doing to Your church, to me, to Your reputation?” Remember that the darkest day in history was shortly followed by the brightest day of history: Resurrection Sunday. God knew what He was doing. He could be trusted even thought the outlook seemed grim for believers in Jerusalem on Good Friday as God himself hung on a tree, died, and was buried. Who could have orchestrated such beautiful events and procured eternity for us in such a way, the only way, except God Himself? God is at work. He is faithful and cannot deny Himself. He who did not spare His own son, but gave Him up willingly as a propitiation for our sins, will He not also give us all things? Believe in faith and wait patiently. Trust His promises.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been His counselor? Or who has given a gift to Him, that he might be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:34-36)

The Law is the Tutor That Leads us to Christ

Perfectionism, Guilt, and a Savior

There is no such thing as false guilt. We are all guilty. The Scriptural idea of guilt is the actual state a sinner is in as the guilty party. My feeling of guilt, however, may or may not correspond to my actual guilt. My problem was I had set up my own kingdom with my own laws and when I failed to keep them I felt the need to pay or blame. Jesus didn’t die to make me sovereign, for me to be perfect at everything I do or for me to be praised by others. He didn’t die so that my will might be done, so I didn’t run to the cross when I came up short, but the cross is where I needed to turn.

Piper speaks of this sense of guilt or shame and of the true guilt behind it:

We are so focused on the sense of guilt that comes from failing in front of other people’s eyes, that we fail to recognize our true guilt of being “self-centered” rather than “God-centered” (134).

Another author speaks of what sin truly needs to be repented of in this case:

Setting up one’s own standard is not only pride that needs to be confessed and repented of, but it is god-playing the “essence of sin” (Freedom from Guilt, 15).

This world isn’t meant to be perfect. I’m not the one who is supposed to be in control. I sought to be perfect, almighty, provider, with infinite resources and all wisdom. This is God’s role. He is the one that should get the glory and will get the glory and that might happen through my failure rather than through my accomplishments (Psalm 76:10; Acts 4:27-28; II Cor. 3:4-5; 4:7)” (Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety 98). God never promised I would be perfect, but He has promised to work everything, even my failures, for my good and His glory (Romans 8:28-29;  Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety, 98). I wasn’t meant to be perfect apart from Christ (I Cor. 2:6; Phil 3:15; Col 2:10). I needed to repent of perfectionism that sought a coup d’état and when I did that I took my place as a loyal subject who is living for the Sovereign’s kingdom purposes.

His opinion and his standards are really what matter and those have been met in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. If I seek my own kingdom or my own righteousness, I will come up short, experience guilt, and payment will be required. This will affect all of my relationships as I will seek to punish those who frustrate my plans. When my kingdom fails with no one to blame but myself, I might then try to punish myself or to run to escape the guilt. Everyone has an ingrained understanding that they are guilty of a penalty because of sin, “consequently, some people nurse their regrets and cling to their grief… to punish themselves. Unconsciously they want to pay for their sins” (Here’s How You Can Handle Guilt, 9). The other option, would be to turn to the Savior who already paid the penalty for sins.

It seems at first that one who has set up their own standards could not turn to the savior because he didn’t die for their standards and their kingdom, but all are truly guilty before God. The fact that Christ did not die for my kingdom and yet I was setting up my own kingdom was exactly
what I was guilty of and what I needed to repent of. Satan would love to tempt me to be so focused on feelings of guilt from violating my own law that I don’t look to Christ to forgive my pride, arrogance, and my self-sufficiency. He would like me to continue to contemplate my own lack of perfection, instead of turning to Christ’s perfection being imputed to me. He would like me to continue to strive for self-sufficiency instead of seeing the sufficient completed work of Christ who rose again and is seated in the throne room of God. He would like me to continue to strive to “serve” people in a way that brings glory to me and shows me to be the provider instead of a way that is dependent and points to Christ.

Once I recognized my idolatry, my pride, my arrogance of setting up my kingdom against God’s, I realized that was what I needed to take to the cross. Jesus died to pay for that. He died so I didn’t have to live that kind of a futile life. He died so that I might stand complete in Him. He died so that I could make much of Him and not of me. This was liberating. My sin and pride, my laws and rules, had kept me from turning to Christ, but that is exactly where I needed to turn. Not to confess my failure to keep the refrigerator well stocked or to keep every machine in the office running but to confess my self-sufficiency, my independence, my pride, my glory-seeking, and my people pleasing. When I turned to the cross, I tasted of the truth of Jesus’ words, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Women to Women

So, so thankful for opportunities this week:

Monday: Time spent with coworkers who all happen to be dear, close friends (Who gets to say that?)

Tuesday Morning: Redemptive conversation with my boss (Who has a boss who knows them, knows their sin, loves them anyway, is willing to help them, and who cares about their faith, their walk, and their future?)

Tuesday Lunch: Keller Family lunch (Waiting to hear two little boys tap on the front office door is always the highlight of my Tuesday.)

Tuesday Afternoon: Hosted different people in the office. I really like this part of my job.

Tuesday Evening: Hanging with Esther. We had dinner in the caf with a student from her dorm and then ran errands together (Costco, Marshalls, TJMax). Once again, time filled with redemptive conversation and I also bought a beautiful purse. When you can do both of those things together it’s extra bonus points :).

Wednesday Afternoon: SLS Class on what it looks like to speak the truth in Love. (Once again who gets to do this as part of their job and who gets to work alongside coworkers and students who are passionate about this because they love Jesus? Who gets to be excited at an opportunity to hear their boss speak because what he says is true and helpful and because you’ve seen his life match what he is saying?)

Wednesday Evening: Women to Women was a joy. We had such neat girls. We had fun, lively, humorous, encouraging and redeeming conversations. It was so good to hear what Heidi, Kim, and Kaylin had to say. Heidi hung out after the girls left and I enjoyed chatting so much that now she’s gone, it’s late, and I’m typing this post :).

And there is more to look forward to:

Thursday lunch: with Betty Price

Friday lunch: with Jess Stucky

Friday night: Piano Extravaganza on campus starring one of my wonderful interns (Well starring might be a stretch, but she is the reason I am going).

Sunday: Potluck and a walk around the lake with friends.

Love it! Thanks, Lord, for delighting to give us good things and for orchestrating redeeming moments, conversations, and friendships. Thanks for being faithful even when we are faithless. Thanks for your sovereignty and that you work to change our hearts. Thanks for placing us exactly where we need to be when we need to be there and for preparing us beforehand for what you have in store.