Friday, October 31, 2008

Student Devotions - Remember The Cost

Have you ever wanted something bad enough you could taste it? Of course that is just an expression but most of us have had that sense of overwhelming desire for something. Most of us are passionate creatures who over time have learned proper social graces to cover up the tantrums that we once had as three year olds. You remember, before you were taught how to control the expression of your desires, you would throw your entire passion into your demands for what you wanted?

There are things that our bodies, hearts, and minds crave that require us to use a great deal of self discipline to deny ourselves. Sometimes it can be as simple as friendship. Not all friendship is good for us. We realize that certain people could lead us to our destruction, so even if we find ourselves attracted to them we deny our need for friendship in order to preserve our life. This takes maturity and sometimes bad experiences to learn.

There are other examples that are clearer for us, such as cheating or stealing to get what we want. There is a whole list of things that the Apostle Paul gives when he says that we were once like that but now we have been changed and we live with a different purpose. Understanding and remembering that purpose helps us to avoid being attracted back to what we once were. It is not awlays easy, especially if we have allowed ourselves to become spiritually weak. This happens when we neglect spiritual things such as Bible Study, like-minded friends, worhsip and prayer. Then we find the pull of these things becoming stronger and we spend more time thinking about them.

In today's reading we find a new nation in this circumstance. In Numbers 11 we find people thinking back to their days in Egypt, when they had more to eat than just Manna. Look carefully at their words:

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost--also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!"

Due to their stomachs they lost sight of where they were going, could only consider the immediate moment, and started desiring what once they had. It is at this moment that the former things begin to look better than they were. Old times seem so much better than the reality of what they were. Things we experienced seem to become even better. Look at this: "... we ate in Egypt at no cost ..." Are they kidding? They ate those things at the cost of slavery. They ate those things at the cost of back breaking work as they laboured under the whip of their task master. This is how sin is with us as well.

Sin is always attractive. Even if we have learned not to through tantrums to get what we want, we still experience attraction to sin, especially when we are weak. We do not consider the cost of having what we crave. The reason we set aside the cost is because we do not consider that we will seriously possess it. We allow ourselves to think about it with no real hope of having it. It becomes a fantasy that we never hope to have. But that begins to shape us, the way we see things, how we act. Before long opportunities start presenting themselves. The full desire is there without thought to the cost.

The fact is, if we really want to go back to Egypt God will not stop us. If we really want to go back to slavery God will not stop us. If we really want to be possessed by sin again God will not prevent it. He has provided the way out. He is providing for us today. He completely loves us. However, just like the father of the prodical son, he will not stop us if we are determined. He has given us freedom of choice.

Beware! You can possess what you desire but what you desire can also possess you. Make the desire of your heart Jesus Christ every single day of your life and you will never find yourself desiring to go back to Egypt. Remember the cost.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Student Devotions - Thursday, October 30

Good morning students,

I spoke to you yesterday about decisions we make as leaders and followers. I told you that our God never forces us into anything but has given us the great Councellor, the Holy Spirit,to guide us through the choices we have. Yet, he leaves the decision for those choices in our hands with the understanding we will be held accountable for those decisions.

More and more, every day the world is souring toward Christianity. It is the powerful media and the elite of our world who want us to hear their opinions. There is nothing wrong with this because we have been having them listen to us for a long time. However, my fear is that you would take their opinion as truth, because that is how they present it. My fear is that you would fail to understand that you have a choice here; to listen or walk away; to listen and accept or to listen and question.

We have been trying to teach you to investigate not just the information but the source of everything presented to you. In investigating the source we are asking you to consider what interest they have in producing what they have and recognizing any bias they have. The Apostle Paul invited people to investigate, to ask questions, to seek the truth themselves. I want you to listen to this interview on a new movie that is out. I want you to tell me if the producer and director have based their movie on fact or opinion:

http://www.cbc.ca/thehour/videos.html?id=873392700

I want you to tell me how you react to this interview. Is it opinion or fact? How do you respond to it? Whatchoice do you hace with this?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Student Devotions - Tuesday, October 28

Good morning students,

I do not even want to talk about where I am this morning. Let's just leave it alone while I try to get past it.

We live in an impossible situation; we may even call it Mission Impossible. Our God has told us that we are to remain separated from sin, pure and holy in his sight. Have you taken a look around lately? Talk about a mess and we find ourselves in the midst of it.

The vast majority of Christians have not kept themselves separate from the world because that was never the Father's intention. He did not tell us to go buy an island somewhere and set up our own little world. Jesus asked that we would not be taken out of the world because we had a mission to complete. How can we minsiter to a world when we are aloaf from the problems of this world? But herein lies the struggle. How do we live here without becoming like here?

Face it, most of us have allowed ourselves to be sucked into the entertainment of this world. We watch the movies and the television shows; we listen to the music and read the books. When it comes to how we allow ourselves to be entertained we do not find much difference in the Christian heart and the non-Christian. And do not tell me it has no effect on you because it does; it does on me too. Watching the very things God told us to avoid as entertainment dulls our spiritual senses and we do not care. I am telling you we stop noticing how many people we watch get murdered in an evening. We are horrified by scenes of rape but we still watch. We do not even take note the number of times we watch non-married couples having sex; that's just the norm. With these being normal we rarely pick up on the more subtle things like the message that there are occasions when it is okay to lie.

It is because our senses have become dull to these things that we do not even notice the infectious disease in the midst of the Church because the disease is on us. In a collection of books called The Circle Series the author rights an allegory of what sin should look like to a Christian. It is a disease that hides our true form as God intended it. The ones with the disease cannot see that they are diseased because it is their normal. In today's reading you can see how careful God was about infectious disease in the camp of the Israelites. It was the same attitude toward sin. Drastic steps were taken to prevent any spread of the disease. Can we even see it?

I am fearful for you young people because you have come into a messed up world and a messed up Church. How can you possibly understand what is holy and pure with so much disease around? We often tell you to be careful what you watch, listen to and read because this is an echoing message from generations before but it is only an echo. We tell you but we do not listen to it ourselves. Thankfully we still have Jesus, even though the world has tried to cover him with disease. They have tried to deny the Biblical Jesus because for them he is impossible. Parts of the Church are now denying the Biblical Jesus because of the same disease that is in the world. So now you have two things you must decide on; to believe that the Biblical Jesus is real and to accept him as both Lord and Saviour.

In my opening I said that we have an impossible mission. It is a half truth. It is impossible if we continue on our present course because it means that we are leaving Jesus behind. Without Jesus it is impossible for us to live in the world and not be invected by the disease. However, when Jesus is our heart song, when he is our reason for existence, then the impossible becomes the possible. We will again have eyes to see and ears to hear. The solution does not begin by turning off the TV; it begins by seeking Jesus which will then give us the courage to turn off the TV.

In a world where being entertained is our greatest goal I have to wonder if this is just falling on deaf ears or should I say "rocky soil"?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Student Devotions - Monday, October 27, 2008

Good morning students,

It looks like I am not there again this morning. It is amazing what effect a 4 year old can have on a family and a school. I pray that most of you will be able to avoid this illness. It is not worth a day off.

So we are heading into the book of Numbers. Most of you probably cannot stand the thought of reading through this thing again. It appears to be dull as we read through the long lists of various things. However, like most things, it depends on your perspective.

As I read through this I think of family. Some of you may have mixed emotions when it comes to family and that would be most likely caused by your age of development. Some of you have excellent relations with your family members, including mom and dad. Some of you have strained relations, meaning that you have a number of arguments with your parents. These arguments are not that much out of the ordinary as you move from childhood to adulthood. Some adolescents and parents handle this change very well. Others hit some troubled waters. Yet, after the adjustment comes an appreciation for your family. Some of you may find it hard to believe but it is true. Right now you are learning independence, slowly. You want to have it quickly and your parents are making their adjustments slowly. Just keep in mind it is their responsibility to ease you into adulthood and there may be some hard lessons there for you to learn.

The family is a creation of God. He designed it and put it into place for a reason. It is a thing that we will be part of you for the rest of our lives. It is a place where people know us and love us. A place were mistakes and forgiveness happens every day. It is a place of protection and growth. It is like a cacoon that protects while children grow and transform into the next step. It is a place of challenges and formation. It is the one place in the world where we know we will be loved, no matter what kind of failure we become. It is a messy place because it doesn't always work as it should. Sometimes it breaks down. Sometimes it gets overwhelmed. Sometimes it needs help. But family never gives up on each other because God has knit the members together for the rest of their lives.

You will always need your mom and dad. The relationship will change. You will not always be so dependant on them but you will always need them. There will be times in your lives as a adults when you will only want to hear the comforting voice of your mom or the reassuring voice of your dad. The thing is that you will end up being like them. It can't be helped. When you spend so much time with someone for so long they rub off on you. You may not think so right now but in a number of years you will start hearing your parents in your own voice. Or you will catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and see your parents in your own reflection. We all start off determined that we will be different but we end up appreciating the likeness.

There was a pride in belonging to one of the twelve tribes. Each belonged to one nation yet each was so distinct from the other, with their own characteristics. You will take pride in your family name and you will want to know more of where the family came from and what some of your history is. It will give you a better understanding of who you are. It is good to know where you came from and how you got to where you are. That is what the Bible does for us.

As much as it is great belonging to our family here we belong to something even greater. The Father has brought us into his family as his adopted children. We get our identity from him and I hope our character as well. We should be able to see our brother Jesus in all our actions and hear him in our words. Jesus warned us that we should never be ashamed of him because if we are then he will be ashamed of us as well. There are some great consequences to being ashamed of our earthly family as well as our spiritual.

Take stock today what God has provided you with through your physical and spiritual family. Rejoice in it and celebrate. You will come to appreciate both. Have a great day.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Let's Party



Good morning students. I apologize that I am not with you this morning but having a large family means that sometimes it takes a while for an illness to work its way through. I will be in this afternoon though.

As we continue our journey through Leviticus we come upon chapter 22 which deals with respecting the things that are holy, belonging to Yahweh. Nothing imperfect can be in the presence of the Lord. We see this demonstrated time and again. Every priest and every tool used for worship could not be defiled and if they were then there was a method that had to be followed to purify them once more.

The lesson we should take from this is that Jesus Christ did an incredible thing when he redeemed us. Admit it, we tend toward the bad things, the wicked things, the vile things. It is our nature to put ourselves first and to do the things that bring us the most pleasure. We cannot be in the presence of the Holy One, Yahweh. It is only because of Jesus' sacrifice that we can be made pure. We ourselves are not holy. We are holy only because Yahweh has declared that over us. What was broken is now fixed. What was garbage has been renewed. We will be able to stand in the presence of the Holy One only because of what the Father has done to make it possible. We should never forget it.

Not forgetting brings us to the next chapter which deals with the many festivales Yahweh established for hispeople. Festivales are a time of celebration. Living in Montreal we should understand festivales. It seems like we have a festivale for every day of the summer. These festivales celebrate different aspects of our culture going from laughter to jazz. Some fesitivales celebrate various cultures, such as the Caribean Festivale.

Yahweh established feasts and festivales as a means of helping his children remember where they came from, who they were, who he is and where they were going. It is unfortunate that many of us look upon these things as religious. Festivales still have a great purpose in our relationship with Jesus. Christmas is a festivale; a time of remember the greatest gift we have ever been given. Easter is a festivale; remembering and celebrating the the salvation Jesus earned for us on the cross. This is how we pass on to our children an understanding of these two very important dates. There are many similar festivales that we should celebrate simply for the act of remembering.

We are a people who enjoy celebrating. We have parties and celebrations for birthdays, for engagements, for marriages, for the birth of babies, for wedding anniversaries, for death and so on. We do not consider these celebrations religious or rigid. We recognize them for what they are, an event to mark something of significance. So too should we consider the important celebrations of the significant things of Jesus in our lives. What is wrong with having a celebration to mark the day of our salvation? Why not celebrate the birth of the Church at Pentecost? There are an incredible number of things we could and should celebrate when it comes to the wonder and might of our incredible God.

Have a great day and remember to give God the glory for all the incredible things he is doing in your lives.
*images from www.photobucket.com

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Influence Makes The Diference

So students, because the video does not seem to work very well I have gone back to the old form of writing. Actually, that is a lie. I am not really writing as I am using the speech recognition program with vista. You should try it, it is very interesting.

So let us go on with our lesson. We’re looking at Leviticus 7-9. This is not a very easy part of the Bible. If you do not have much interest in the Bible than it can seem quite boring. Thankfully I have a lot of interest in the Bible. Yet the Bible is like anything else in life, if you do not have any interest in it then it will not have any influence in your life. For some of you the Bible is no different than any other book.

If the bible held any interest for you then you would find these readings fascinating. The law was given to God’s people to help them become his people. It was the giving of it that caused these people to become a nation. However if they had no interest in becoming a nation then these laws would have had no value for them.

Allow me to use our present situation as an example. Some of you have very little interest in school. My opinion does not matter very much to you. Your parent’s opinion does not matter very much to you. Many of you are influenced more by your friends then by your family. So when we have a day like yesterday when I am not around then you find it easy to do what you want instead of doing what is expected of you. This is because you do not see value in your schooling. Those of you who see value in your schooling had no problem with doing what was expected of you.

According to the reports I received about yesterday there was a lot of talking in the offices, and playing on the computers, talking, and other assorted problems. This was because I was not there. I am the authority at the school. So it comes down to your heart. If you’re here for your education then your heart tells you to do what is right. But if you are here because your parents say you have to be here than the rules do not matter to you.

But I am not God and god is not me. Where I do not see he sees. Where I am absent he is present. Thankfully where I am vengeful he is forgiving. If God matters to you than his instructions matter to you. If Jesus matters to you then how you live matters to you. If Jesus matters to you then you are more interested in obedience then control. This reading in the Bible is very important as it reveals the Father’s heart to us. It shows us how much he loved these people which also encourages us in that we would understand how much he loves us.

So my students you may think that you got away with yesterday but it does show me your heart. I hope, I pray, that you will allow the Father to touch your heart and reveal this to you. He really is supper. I pray that you will have a wonderful day. God bless.
video

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What To Do With Students Who Drag Others Down

I am writing this as an example for those of my students who lack imagination. Some people may consider students who lack imagination and desire to work to be a drain on a teacher and on the school system. From my perspective this opinion is a correct opinion. Such students drag down a school as an anchor drags on a ship. The winds of imagination are filling the sails and the whole ship strains with the effort of wanting to race across the waters, yet the anchor will not allow that ship to do what it is capable of doing. Does this mean we should cut away the anchor?

Just because part of the ship is not functioning properly does not mean we cast it away. We need to pull the anchor onto the ship so that the entire ship can carry it along on the great adventure of life. Instead of being cast away students should be drawn in so that the class may carry them along. If we keep them at a distance through the process of learning they will cause difficulty on the fringe of the classroom. However, if we are able to draw them in and excite the rest of the class then everything will move forward. The real challenge is how to draw them in at the same time as exciting the rest of the class to race ahead. I believe there is value and worth in every student, it simply is not found in equal portions in each student. We love them for who they are and believe they can go beyond their own limitations.

This is an example of a 200 word, five minute opinion piece.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

When Things Go Wrong

Have you noticed how much reality has worked its way into the fantasy world of television? It was once the great escape from everything that we faced in our day; a place where things hardly ever went wrong. Unlike our real world situations were resolved in the span of 30 minutes. The Brady Bunch was famous for this. Now television writers seem to want to remind us of the imperfections of our lives.

Yes, life is imperfect. It is never a matter of "if" something will go wrong but "when" it will go wrong. So what do we do when it does? The easiest answer is "go with the flow" and sometimes it is all we can do. Sometimes we just have to accept that our computer broke and now we have to "make do" with what we have. Sometimes we need to accept that we have to start at the beginning because we failed our test even though we put in all those hours of study. Yet, it is also healthy to consider a "cooling down" period as we adjust to the new reality.

I have the nature where I want to rush right into "getting on with it", trying not to give much thought to the situation. If I have to start over then I will do just that. Yet, where is the learning process in that? What is the sense in starting over if I am not going to learn anything in the process of it all. If my computer broke perhaps I should take time and consider how I used or abused it to avoid doing the same to any new computer in my future. Or what about the example of the failed test? Would it be wise to rush right into re-doing the work without considering where my mistakes were made?

I believe it is a prudent move to take the time to reflect on all these matters to save ourselves time, money and heartache in the future. Reflection is important in every area of our lives. We should try it more often.

Student Devotions - October 7, 2008

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Little Matter Of Time

I have struggled over the issue of time since my early 20's. It is like a war taking place in me between the "doer" part of me and the "poet" part. Time is a friend to a poet but an enemy to a doer.

During my training years we were encouraged to consider "time management" books that taught how to squeeze the life out of every minute of my day. I resisted. I faught against such a notion. I saught after free moments when I could just sit and allow random thoughts run through my head. Yet, at the same time, I would walk past a store selling agendas and begin to drool.

My 4 year old daughter gave me some insight into how I am doing in this war. Here is the jist of the conversation:

Jenny: I am going to be smarter then you when I grow up.
Daddy: You are?
Jenny: Yes. I am going to spend time with my children. You don't do that. You don't do what you're suppose to do. When you have nothing to do you are suppose to spend time with us. When I grow up I am going to be smarter than you. I am going to spend time with my children.
Daddy: But Jenny, when do you ever see daddy have nothing to do?
Jenny: Never. You are always working. When I grow up I am going to be smarter than you.

I am losing the war.

Student Devotions - October 1, 2008

video