Getting Away With It

6 04 2012

Children know how to get away with it.

They run inside the halls of school. Then screech to a halt when a teacher is spotted.

A quick glance at a classmate’s test paper goes unnoticed by the teacher.

Students’ infractions don’t always go undetected. Sometimes they’re caught. There’s a price to pay. Consequences to be suffered.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone volunteered to take our punishment? Just for fun, imagine this surprise ending to exceeding the speed limit. You get pulled over by a police officer. Just before the ticket is written, a stranger pulls up behind you. He gets out of his car. The unfamiliar person persuades the officer to let him pay for your ticket. You drive away with a clean record. Like a dream come true.

It’s fun to fantasize. But daydreams end. Reality hits.

That’s when we yearn for Someone who really will save us. The Easter story is God’s love story to us.

We all are sinners. Even if we think of doing something wrong, the Bible tells us God counts that as sin. But, Someone has taken our punishment. Jesus died for our sin. He took our punishment so we wouldn’t have to go to hell after we die. He saved us from eternal death. His gift of salvation is offered freely.

Easter is a well-known story. Familiar even to young children.

Years ago, I wanted to help my second graders better understand Christ’s act of love.

In the Christian school where I taught, misbehavior at recess was punished by time out. The misconduct was dealt with by sentencing the student to stand at The Wall. There, the child would watch the others play until the designated time was up. The amount of time depended on the offense.

Not sharing nicely – 2 mins.

Bothering another child – 5 mins.

Teasing someone else – 10 mins.

Repeated naughtiness – 15 mins.

Throwing stones – 20 mins.

Intentionally hitting – 25 mins.

      

Aides supervised recess time during the teachers’ lunch. Before lunch one day, I told an aide to let me know when the first student disobeyed a rule. I would stand by The Wall instead of that student to illustrate an innocent person taking a guilty person’s punishment.

The first student to be disciplined owed 25 mins.!

“You may go play. I’ll take your punishment. I’ll stand here instead of you.”

Off the bewildered student scurried.

Quickly, a crowd of students gathered by The Wall. Never before had they seen a teacher standing there. Some were quietly curious. Others speculated. Many understood the point.

One called out, “Let’s bet for her clothes!” Referring to how they cast lots for Christ’s clothes.

The mob of onlookers roared with laughter.

It was a moment of insight for me. Reflecting on how they mocked Jesus while He gave the ultimate gift.

The ‘lesson’ was a success. Students of all grades were abuzz with the news. A teacher had to stand at The Wall! The humorous incident conveyed a powerful message.

We assume children understand Christian terminology/Church and Sunday School language. That’s not always the case. My intention: to take what they understood and use it to give deeper insight into phrases such as, “sacrificial love”, “took our punishment”, and “died on the cross for our sins.”

Reflecting on the crucifixion and resurrection helps to build greater insight. We can better comprehend our Father’s love. He gave His only Son to die for us. He who was sinless willingly suffered and died on the cross for our sin. To make a way for us to have everlasting life in heaven.

May you have a blessed celebration of our Lord’s resurrection.





Withstanding Life’s Difficulties

19 02 2012

You wonder: Does anyone know what I’m enduring? Who really knows what I face each day? Can anybody understand my frustrations and sorrow? How can I survive these problems?

Minor difficulties irritate us. Challenges confront our resolve. Failures shake our confidence. Unrealized expectations rob us of hope.  Betrayal angers us. Disappointments shred our trust in God. Tragedies shatter all joy.

Turbulence surrounds us. Where can we find security? Who can we depend on?

Visit Chronic Illness Pain Daily Devotionals (Rest Ministries) to read a devotional I wrote (and find more devotionals written by other people with chronic pain or illness).  This recent devotional is entitled, “Withstanding Disease.”

Are you currently being swallowed up in tribulation? As if quick sand is sucking you into despair? How do you withstand your life’s difficulties?





How do you deal with it?

2 02 2012

We all face trials at one time or another – some severe, others perpetual annoyances.

Living with multiple sclerosis challenges me to fix my thoughts on Him instead of my constant pain.

Visit Chronic Illness Pain Daily Devotionals (Rest Ministries) to read a devotional I wrote (and find more devotionals written by other people with chronic pain or illness).

This recent devotional is entitled, “Is Chronic Pain Your Focus? What Happens When You Shift Your Thoughts?”





God’s Living Show and Tell

15 01 2012

What’s the point of pain and suffering?

The typical response is to question God.  Why God? Why have You allowed this trial in my life?

Those of us who endure chronic pain experience God’s loving response to our secret cries. He reveals His love and faithfulness on a daily basis.

Visit Chronic Illness Pain Daily Devotionals (Rest Ministries) to read a devotional I wrote (and find more devotionals written by other people with chronic pain or illness).  This recent devotional is entitled, “Is My Pain a Punishment? It Can Feel Like it!”





What’s so exciting about Christmas?

18 12 2011

Knock, knock, knock.

The loud knocking interrupted the Bible instruction. The startled campers were learning about Jesus. I ignored the knocking, for good reason. The children all had intellectual disabilities. The visitor was part of the lesson, arranged ahead of time by me.

The knocking continued.

“Who is it?” I called through the door.

“Miss Barbara.”

Turning to the students, I reported matter-of-factly, “It’s Miss Barbara.”

KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK pounded Barbara.

Calling through the door I asked, “What do you want?”

“I want to come in.”

Returning to my seat, I resumed the lesson.

The campers looked bewildered.

“What’s wrong? Is something the matter?” I asked.

“Miss Barbara.”

“Yes, Miss Barbara is at the door.”

KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK. “Please let me in,” pleaded Barbara.

This time I remained in my seat.

The campers begged me to let her in.

Barbara’s cries became more emphatic. She started shouting, “I – want – to – come – in – now!!!”

The campers yelled, “Open the door!”

Refusing their requests, I explained my reason for ignoring her pleas.

“Why should I open the door? We don’t need to let her in. We know all about her. She lives up on the hill. She has short hair and a very nice smile. She sings our special song before meals.”

“But she wants to come in,” explained one camper.

“Yeah, and we want her to be with us. Let her in.” urged another boy.

They became adamant and shouted, “Open the door! Let – her – in!”

Finally, I relented. Once the door was opened, the children engulfed Miss Barbara like a coat. Clinging to her.

It was time to explain the object lesson.

“You know all about Miss Barbara. But that wasn’t enough. You wanted to spend time with her. She wanted to join us. It seemed very wrong of me not to let her in. Friends want to spend time with each other.

“That’s how it is with Jesus. You know a lot about Jesus. But that’s not enough. Knowing about Him isn’t as special as knowing Him as your special Friend. Friends spend time with one another. Friends do nice things for each other. Jesus loved you so much He died so you could go to heaven someday. You can spend time with Him, just like you can with Miss Barbara. You can talk to Him.

“Let Him come into your heart. Let Him be a part of your life. That’s so much better than just knowing about Him.”

*******

Christmas commemorates the birth of Christ. Historians will acknowledge that fact. The true celebration swells in the hearts of those who know Him – who have a relationship with Him.

Jesus stands at the door and knocks. How He longs for us to welcome Him into our lives! How He wants to fellowship with us!

He waits for each blood-bought soul to receive His gift of eternal life. Knowing the facts of His life pales in comparison to knowing Him in a personal way. Having a relationship with Him throughout the year enriches our celebration of His birth.

Jesus entered this world. The thought of God sending His only Son to die for my sin – my sin – is awesome to contemplate. The deeper my relationship is with Christ, the more Christmas means to me. God’s only Son left heaven to die for my sin, stepped into my life and fellowships with me. That thrills my heart.

What’s so exciting about Christmas? He did that for everyone. No wonder all the angels rejoiced.

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’”  Luke 2:13-14





Spending time with the ultimate BFF

11 12 2011

Nowadays, people make promises to be a best friend forever. We have good intentions to be a true friend to someone. We hope special friendships will never end. In spite of our good intentions, relationships have difficulties at times. Sadly, sometimes friendships end. They aren’t always forever.

There is One Friend who will truly be a friend forever. A trusted Friend. One we can have forever – past this life.

Visit Chronic Illness Pain Daily Devotionals (Rest Ministries) to read a devotional I wrote (and find more devotionals written by other people with chronic pain or illness).  This recent devotional is entitled, “When We Encounter Barriers Remember There Are None Surrounding God”

Many of us wish the weeks leading up to Christmas weren’t so busy. We want to spend more time reflecting on the true meaning of the holiday.

How do you find time to focus on the story of Christ’s birth?





Combating a Materialized Christmas

6 12 2011

When our sons 3 and 5 yrs. old people would ask them, “What do you want for Christmas?”

I found a way to teach them the Biblical meaning of the holiday and at the same time share God’s Word with unsuspecting strangers.

I taught them the entire Christmas passage in Luke. If young children can learn all the words to a song, they can learn Luke 2:8-14. Using lots of expression in my tone of voice coupled with hand motions, I taught our boys the passage.

When someone asked them, “What do you want for Christmas?” they responded, “Well that’s not what Christmas is all about.” They would go on to share the true meaning of Christmas by reciting the passage.  “And there were in the same country shepherds…”

Listen to our son, Bobby reciting that passage. He was 4 yrs. old at the time. Now he’s 29.

YouTube: Five year old recites Christmas passage

What do you do to help your children focus on the real meaning of Christmas?





Year-long Thanksgiving

30 11 2011

Each Thanksgiving, I used to teach my second grade students this poem (below).

Feel free to share it with your children as a way of celebrating a year-long Thanksgiving. Perhaps it’s timelier to teach this poem during the weeks leading up to Christmas. It may help to shift the focus from the materialism of the holiday to the reason for the season: Christ’s birth.

A Talk with Jesus

Thank you, Heavenly Father,

For blessings great and small

But more so for my Savior

The greatest of them all.

 

There are so many blessings

I often fail to see

Many times they’re in disguise

Yet mean so much to me.

 

Thank You, blessed Son of God,

For loving me so much.

It does not take Thanksgiving Day

For me to keep in touch.

 

But I admit it’s mighty nice

To have a special day

For all the faithful to unite

In gratitude to pray.

 





Fighting Self-Pity

30 11 2011

Visit Chronic Illness Pain Daily Devotionals (Rest Ministries) to read a devotional I wrote (and find more devotionals written by other people with chronic pain or illness).  This recent devotional is entitled, “The Battle Plan for When Life Gets Stinky.”





Thanksgiving Devotional

19 11 2011

Visit Chronic Illness Pain Daily Devotionals (Rest Ministries) to read a devotional I wrote (and find more devotionals written by other people with chronic pain or illness).