9/08/2012

Eagles in the Bible

There are over 8,000 kinds of birds. Approximately 400 varieties live in Israel, and Scripture mentions about 40. Modern scientists classify animals on the basis of what they look like inside and out. However, the biblical writers generally classified animals according to where the animals lived. Thus, in the Bible, bats are listed with birds as creatures of the air (Leviticus 11:19; Deuteronomy 14:18)(Visual Bible Alive).

The American English word "eagle" appears about 30 times (depending on the translation) in most English Bibles. The Hebrew word, "nešer," appears 26 times in the Old Testament. It is described as a large, carnivorous bird of prey known for its long feathers, wings, speed, power in flight, and keen eyesight (2 Sam. 1:23; Ps. 103:5; Isa. 40:31)(Baker & Carpenter, 2003).

It has been described as a “great vulture” in Lev 11:13 and “vulture” in Prov 30:17 and Mic 1:16, RSV “vulture” in the text once only, for the Heb expression “sons of the eagle” (Prov 30:17). Many translators have been satisfied with the term “eagle” because of the finer traits of strength, swiftness, and care of the young are cited, but where the eating of carrion or “baldness” (see Mic 1:16) is involved, a lesser breed of bird seems to be in order. Actually, not only did the Semitic languages tend to lump the large soaring birds into one family but the Encyclopedia Britannica defines “eagle” as inclusive of several day-flying birds of prey comprising, along with hawks, harriers and old world vultures, the family Acciptridae (Fisher, 1999).

This idea of renewal and strength in eagles is especially popularized by Is. 40: 31: Yet those who 1wait for the LORD Will again new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
And Ps. 103:5: [God] satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

I have been really curious lately about Eagles in the Bible. I have always wondered if the Biblical authors actually saw birds similar to eagles that you and I are familiar with. Ultimately it is near impossible to prove one way or the other but many sources that I have been reading recently have made some good points.
1. There is a myth out there that says that supposes that this bird (eagle or not) was a bird that had some extreme renewal habits: -going off and plucking its feathers and not being able to fly for about five months. The image has even been added that the beak and claws are knocked off and then grow back during that time, giving them another 10 or so more years to their life. I have been trying to find proof of that, and am not finding it. Most Eagle authorities state that that would not happen, because the bird would die during that time with no flight feathers or beak or claws (Lee, 2009).
A second source along with the American Bald Eagle Organization also makes the point that Eagles do not undergo the process of rebirth described in the myth/legend commonly used as a biblical metaphor (Christensen, 2012). Although there are some alternatives that still make the Bible true: It is NOT an eagle but a different bird. Or it is an eagle (see below) that goes through a different kind of renewal than the one described in the myth (see: Lee, 2009).
2.A reasonable suggestion that it is not actually an eagle but an Old World Vulture: a Griffon Vulture(The Wonder of Birds).
(Photo from Cortijada Los Gazquez).











3. In any case the eagle is known for catching its young on its wings after pushing them out of the nest....this is a great strategy to teach the young ones how to fly. So this bird, eagle or not could have demonstrated a similar process.

Other interesting eagle/vulture related discussions from the Bible: The Bible mentions the eagle’s strength and invincibility often with reference to powerful nations attacking Israel. The prophet Ezekiel described Nebuchadnezzar as an eagle (Ezekiel 17:3). The eagle builds its nest on inaccessible mountain peaks or at the top of the tallest trees, a fact noted by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:16; compare to Job 39:27-28; Obadiah 1:4). Eagles are devoted to their offspring and train them with great care in the art of flying. Some commentators interpret Exodus 19:4 and Deuteronomy 32:11 as evidence of the eagle’s practice of catching its young on its wings. Confronted by its impressive qualities, biblical authors observed the eagle with awe and wonder (Job 39:27-30; Proverbs 30:18-19). Since the vulture, like the eagle, was a symbol of sovereignty and domination in the ancient Near East, some gods were represented as vultures (Visual Bible Alive).
Here is a good site that mentions all of the verses where "Eagle" is used in the Bible: http://www.watchmanbiblestudy.com/biblestudies/Definitions/Eagles.htm


Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (760). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

Christensen, B. M., (2012). "Rebirth Of The Eagle Hoax." From Hoax-Slayer. Accessed Sept. 8th 2012 from http://www.hoax-slayer.com/rebirth-of-the-eagle-hoax.shtml.

Cortijada Los Gazquez. http://www.losgazquez.com/blog/?p=37

Fisher, M. C. (1999). 1437 נֶשֶׁר. In R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (606–607). Chicago: Moody Press.

"History of The Griffon Vulture in the Bible." The Wonder of Birds http://www.thewonderofbirds.com/griffon-vulture/nests.htm

Lee. (2009). "Birds of the Bible – Eagle’s Renewal" from Lee's Birdwatching Adventures Plus assessed on Sept. 8th 2012 from http://leesbird.com/2009/09/25/b-o-b-eagle-renewal/

New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. 1995 (Ps 103:5). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

"Birds." Visual Bible Alive. Accessed on Sept. 8th 2012 from http://www.visualbiblealive.com/resources.php?encyc_id=19&img_id=58130&action=encyclopedia&frame=divEncyc

9/03/2012

Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.

8/27/2012

RCI #25


Recently got home from being a part of Kairos #25 at Ross Correctional. It was an amazing experience. God showed up and started changing people's lives!

 I am pretty hooked into doing more of this Kairos ministry.You know that the fields are white and ready for harvest right? (Jn 4:35). Well in Kairos ministry, these men are hurting. These men are ready for some life change. The fields are white and the harvest is literally falling off the plants. All we do is bring the Gospel and bring our servant attitudes.
The Kairos weekend is set-up for success. It has been field tested and edited to a science. We know this because it works! We do not try to fix something that is working. God is using Kairos. People are coming to Christ through Kairos. We are just God's instruments.



God really worked even just within those 4 days that this Kairos team was at RCI. We now desire to pray for these men, that they will be able to continue their walk with Christ in this institution. They are the church of Christ. They are the community of change at RCI. They are the church! Together and with Christ all things are possible. Even within the walls of the dark prison blocks they can live for Christ! So please pray for them.

This was truly an amazing experience for me for a number of reasons. First I saw gang members find Jesus. Instead of living for themselves, they now want to live for Christ!!!!! It was so powerful.

Second, I got to meet and work in the back room with some of the leaders of this lay ministry. There are some amazing men living for Christ. That alone was so encouraging. I just wanted to eat up every word of wisdom I was hearing from these godly men.

Third, God was there. That was where I wanted to be, in a place I could feel the presence of the Lord!

I have a few more reflections: I found out that as an ordained clergy, I cannot lead Kairos. This is kind of a sad revelation but it is okay. On one hand this is relieving as the stress level will never really be an issue for me. On the other end, I am sad because the leadership track for Kairos looks like a lot of fun. I would enjoy it. But I am ordained and therefor not a lay person, so I have a different calling than leading the lay-driven ministry. I am called to be clergy at a table and/or be spiritual director. I can still do all the behind the scenes leading and serving. So it is actually quite alright.
Well there are so many stories. So little time. The point is that Kairos takes some dedication, although it is completely worth it. It is for Jesus.
God would have it that Governor Kasich loves Kairos and wants it in every prison in Ohio because it really does work.  The difficultly is that we need more volunteers. We need your help. My witness of the program is that it is utterly entirely worth the dedication, to serve Christ in this way.

8/06/2012

My First Kiaros

I had the opportunity to be a part of a Kairos Weekend, this past week. I was the table servant for the table of Paul at Pickaway Correctional Institute (PCI) Kairos #1! Learn about Kairos in this post.
It was an amazing experience. I really enjoyed it and was encouraged. Leading up to this weekend, I had been meeting with 40 godly men, for eight weeks, training and preparing for this weekend. At first, this was an odd experience, I did not really know what I was getting into. The first time I went to the training meeting I felt alone. I did not really know anyone very well. As the weeks went by, I had a new family. It was really cool to have fellowship and teachings from these godly men.
In no time, all eight training session had past and it was time for my Kairos weekend! I did not get everything I was suppose to get done accomplished. Each team member was suppose to bake about 100 dozen cookies. With the help of my church, I only contributed about 70 dozen cookies. I was suppose to contribute about $300. I only had about $200 to give. I did contribute some Agape: place mats, posters and prayer chains. I did complete all of my letters to the participants . To learn more about these things check out this post. And check out my Kairos Pin Board.
So as a table servant, I was a for the most part a waiter for the table of Paul. I kept my table clean, full of cookies, beverages and food! I did some other things behind the scene too to keep the weekend going. I was a servant. It was really neat to see the weekend from my perspective. As many of my team member say, the table servant job is the best job. I got to see the participants go from not being used to being served on Friday and hesitant to get involved...to being very involved and friendly on Sunday afternoon. They were hugging us and telling me how I deserved a tip for my hard work. It was nothing really, just service in love.
As part of the weekend, our team distributed cookies to every single staff and resident of Pickaway Correction Institute. I had the opportunity to help distribute cookies to all the residents of one of the dorms. It was really neat but also very interesting. In the dorm I went to, there were five locked bays. In each bay there was about 26 bunk beds or 52 racks. I was allowed into the bay area with the commanding officer and a few porters to help me pass out the cookies. Some of the residents were sleeping, so we woke them up with the cookies. They looked at me with surprise and confusion which quickly turned into curiosity and a smile. Many of the residents quickly said "Thanks" and "God bless you" as I told them "God loves you." That was fun. But I am sure glad I do not live in one of those bays.
I enjoyed the weekend. I did not get much sleep but it was okay. I really am encouraged by what God is doing there at PCI. I am excited about the future. It is would be tough living in those conditions as a new Christian. So my job is not over. We can all pray for them!
I want to do more of this type of ministry. I have a heart for these men. We all make mistakes. We are all sinners. God loves these men too. They need God's love a lot in their environment.

Opportunities to help Kairos

Kairos Prison Ministry is a volunteer, lay-led Christian ministry which conducts a highly-structured program designed for use in male and female medium-to-maximum security correctional institutions. I encourage you to read about what Kairos does and how it is helping in my first post. The recidivism rate was 15.7% among those who had participated in one Kairos session. The recidivism rate amongst the normal prison population varies between 30% – 50+%. Recidivism means the percentage of inmates that return to the prison system once they have been released from their initial term. There are a lot of ways to help Kairos.

1. Volunteer: - join a Kairos team, it will change your life. You get to do the hands-on work of ministry.
2. Bake Cookies- every Kairos weekend, needs thousands of cookies, anywhere from 2000 dozen to 6000 dozen cookies! So you can help by baking up some cookies and the main ingredient is love.
3. Donate "green Agape" or money. It costs money to provide for the food and materials for these weekends.
4. Donate Agape posters, place mats, letters, prayers, pray chain links. Have children draw hand prints, crosses, Scriptures, Bibles, all of these simple and cliche images really touch the lives of the participants. -Write a letter to the participants to encourage them.
5. Pray- we are powered by God's grace, love and the the help of the Holy Spirit. We need God's intervention in our lives and in the participants's lives!
6. Join a cooking team - we need help cooking all of the food!
7. Go to a closing- you will be blessed at a closing service when you hear the participants' stories. Also you will be blessing them by just showing up!
8. Offer volunteers breakfast and dinner during the weekend.
Check out My Kairos Pin Board. Check out the Kairos International and Ohio websites respectively.

What is Kairos?

Kairos Inside Prison Ministry (KI) is a volunteer, lay-led Christian ministry which conducts a highly-structured program designed for use in male and female medium-to-maximum security correctional institutions. The program is structured very similar to an Emmaus Walk, KI is a 3 1/2 day event. For the participants, this is a break from the ordinary prison life and is an opportunity to experience a religious renewal weekend retreat. It is an opportunity for finding and accepting God's call to Christian witness and service to one another. This is designed also to encourage the participants to establish and stay in a strong Christian community even within their lives within the institution. Kairos is not simply a one time spiritual high and then that is it. Kairos comes back every week and offers a "prayer and share" service wit hall of the participants of Kairos. Kairos also continues holding these weekend retreats for new participants every 6 months. Through-out the year, graduates of the weekend hold several reunion fellowship events.
The weekend starts with creating a safe and secure place, where volunteers fellowship and get to know the participants. Volunteers offer cookies and other refreshments. They sit down and talk with the participants. Trying to listen, listen and to love, love. Friday is talk heavy, but the theme is "encountering self." The participants and volunteers become a family...talk about choices and the basic needs of all men.
This leads up to Saturday. Saturday is more activity driven. On Saturday the talks and message is all about the Gospel, "encountering Christ." The participants are flooded with "agape love" through letters, posters, prayer, and fellowship. The main theme of many activities is forgiveness.
Then Sunday the theme is "encountering others." The talks center on application and beginning the process of growing faith and community with other believers.
Through-out the weekend, these participants are also given a lot of home-made cookies and food. They LOVE the food. This is not something they ever get.
This weekend is an amazing event with the potential for true life change. Even within the walls of prison, these men find hope in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The truth of the matter is, God loves these men too! We all make bad choices and are all sinners. These men got caught making some bad choices, they too need to hear the Gospel. Kairos provides many opportunities for this.
Kairos programs have gained the respect of the correctional system, too. In a recent study, the recidivism rate was 15.7% among those who had participated in one Kairos session, and 10% among those who had participated in two or more Kairos sessions. The recidivism rate amongst the normal prison population varies between 30% – 50+%. Recidivism means the percentage of inmates that return to the prison system once they have been released from their initial term. Check out more about Kairos and my experience on my Kairos Pin Board.

7/27/2012

In America, people, (business owners too), are entitled to their own opinion

Chick-Fil-a has had a rough week. My response to the Chick-Fil-A controversy is the same I have about the more recent news about billionaire Amazon.com founder and president Jeff Bezos is donating $2.5 million to support gay marriage. That response is that in America, we have the right to our own opinions.
America is founded on principles of capitalism, democracy, life, liberty, justice, freedom and the pursuit of happiness to ALL. That means Wiccans, atheists, Muslims, Jews, Quakers, Buddhist, Hindus, Scientologists, all the denominations of Christianity, Catholics, Orthodox and ANYONE else tied or not tied to any religion. We are all entitled to the same freedoms and rights. All human beings that are citizens of this country should be treated with the same equal rights and liberties, that is what America is about.
It is easy for the Christian to have "a Christian over-reaction" to any of the news stories listed above. Some of my Christian colleagues all of a sudden are extra supportive of Chick-Fil-A and intentionally are no longer going to ever use Amazon.com. For me, I am more relaxed about all this. Yes, I am supportive of Chick-Fila, but I would feel the same support if they were an atheist owned business. I simply do not think it is in one person, a mayor, who also has equally free opinion to use that opinion to block the building of a restaurant simply because his opinion does not match up with the Chick-Fil-A's president.
I think that a Christian business owner -an American citizen- is welcome to his opinion also. If you do not like these things, do not eat at his restaurant, that is a capitalistic strategy that I can appreciate. My point is that in AMERICAN, agree or disagree with the values (all values aside really), we are a capitalist society. That means that given the EQUAL rights and liberties, all companies can build and have a chance to succeed (if they can) in a capitalist system.
I am not going out of my way to eat at Chick-Fil-A. I am consistent with my argument. I will continue using Amazon.com because I am a capitalist consumer. I save money with Amazon. Amazon has developed an excellent service. What the Founder/President of that company does with some of his profits is not my concern. I do not feel like my using of the Amazon.com service is contributing to gay marriage. Even if it were a direct correlation, I would not be concerned. He is welcome to have his own opinion on gay marriage. He is welcome to spend his money on it. He is a citizen of America. He has equal rights to an opinion in this free country too.
I will go even further, I am even willing to say that I am not too concerned if gay marriage becomes legalized. Hear me out here, this is tricky and a touchy subject. Yes, I am a Christian, ordained minister and have strong conservative values, but listen. Do not have a Christian over-reaction. Yes you heard this Christian correctly, I think that the LGBT community can have equal rights. They are human beings too and live in America, home of the free.
Yes, you may see the obvious clash between my own Christian values drawn from the Bible and my public opinion and support for the LGBT community. There is some tension there. How can I possibly give my support if I am truly a Bible-believing Christian? Here is my approach on it. I do not see the point in fighting with legislation. I do not see how being anti-LGBT is showing the love of Christ to these people, who need Jesus. Obviously, I am not living the LGBT lifestyle. I even agree that that lifestyle is not natural, not healthy and sin. Although, my understanding is that I cannot tell people which sins they choose and do not choose. It is not my place to judge nor my place to control.
I have to give up control of that battle and focus on the heart. I want to show these human beings Christ's love and His Gospel. Only Christ can truly save them and change their hearts, which in turn, will change their lifestyle. Only Christ can do that. I want to be His ambassador. I do not want to live in the past and say, this America is suppose to be a Christian nation (that is another post) ....let's move past that. Read my responses to that argument in the links. Basically, we are America, home of the free and all are welcome to live free here in America right now, despite any special relationship you think America has with God. I do not see it. It may be hard or unfortunate for some Christians, but we are where we are in America right now, some call it "post-Christian." That may be a stretch since nothing is impossible with Christ!
To take my previous argument further, that is I think that the LGBT are free to live how they want to in American. There is not way I can possibly live a life that is not connected or associated with any sinners. Firstly, all men are sinners. Some way or another every screen I look at, every food I consume, every book/blog I read...if you dig deep enough there will be a connection to a non-Christian. That is ok. All men are sinners. We once were sinners too! Have empathy.
Let us not have "a Christian over-reaction." Let us live "IN but not OF this world." Let's be the workers IN the fields harvesting. Let us NOT live in complete isolation like monks, what impact would that have? How useful is it to avoid completely everything connected to sin? Especially in a capitalist society...we are blessed to be allowed to enter the harvest! We are blessed to have EQUAL rights (EVEN AS CHRISTIANS!!) Compare yourself to Christians hiding in Asian and Africa! We are so blessed to be consumer capitalists with equal rights! COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS oh spoiled American Christians.
Now let us use these rights and advantages for Christ's glory! Let us be SALT and LIGHT in this very diverse democracy. Let us Praise Jesus because we have so many opportunities to make a difference and show Christ's LOVE, hallelujah!

7/08/2012

Jesus Culture Experience

Alright, so I have always enjoyed  Jesus Culture band and have found their music to be very worshipful. I had never really taken the time to explore the backgrounds of Bethel Church in Redding, CA to see where they were coming from in doctrine. Instead I decided to go to a Jesus Culture Conference in New York City with some friends. 
I am a Baptist. Bethel Church and Jesus Culture are more charismatic. They fall most in line with the Pentecostals.  For the most part, the conference was not too scary or difficult for me. If the band and preachers and followers where mostly Pentecostal (or Charismatic) then they were really watered down during the conference. There was not a lot of people falling over slain in the Spirit and those sorts of things. 
Although, there were miraculous faith healings. I still cannot stop thinking about one instance. A deaf lady from birth, was prayed over with the laying of hands and everything. After the prayer, she started hearing things. I talked to her and her friends, it was a crazy thing.  I believe God can do healings, like this on Earth, if He desires to.
Bill Johnson, the pastor of Bethel, laid out an argument for faith healings....basically firstly, the disciples did it:
Mt. 10:8- Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Then in John 1: 50 - Jesus says that greater things are yet to come than these [things you have seen me do].
There were some areas I could not completely agree with Bill on, but why aren't we out in our communities/streets praying for healing for people in our local communities?

Obviously I have some warnings:
1. This is NOT about works. It can easily begin to look like and feel like works. But it is only God who does the healing, not us.
2. God may not always heal every single time we ask for healing in our prayers. Sometimes He has a greater purposes that we do not understand. Remember home is NOT on this earth.
3. Theology. One thing Bill Johnson said that is the most debatable is his understanding (or lack of it) in Christology. For me, Jesus was 100% man AND 100% God.
For Bill, Jesus was 100% man who forfeited completely ALL of His God-abilities and did the miracles as a complete man. Meaning any man can perform the same miracles if they rely completely on the Father as Christ did. 
This gets sketchy for a couple of reasons. Again, as with point one, it can easily start to become a works based system. But second and worse offense, is centered on Christ.  Christ had to be 100% (as well as 100% man), in order for His offering for our sins, as our substitute, to be acceptable and infinitely valuable (1 Pet. 1:18-19). 

So all of this has got me thinking all week and it is an amazing God thing. I see, not only at this conference but through-out history that God  can use us despite our bad theology and even despite our differences in beliefs/theology. I hear reports that Redding, Ca is a safe haven, a cancer-free zone and that the presence of the Holy Spirit is there. All of that sounds wonderful, I do not have any data to prove it but I believe that God can work in that way if He so desires. 

He is bigger than our human understanding of theology. I do not know who is more correct in a lot of areas in theology. I see good arguments on my areas of debatable topics and yet while it seems that the two sides can not agree and work together....they can. God is bigger. God does the Healing. He does the saving. I am just glad to be a part of it. I want to continue to work out my faith and continue to study these things. Do not get me wrong I desire truth and solid Biblical answers and I believe that a foundational worldview with essential doctrines is essentials....this is why I am willing to debate Bill Johnson on the points I did above. 
While on many non-essential, I am willing to hear the other side of the argument. I give grace and I agree to disagree and agree to say that "Wow, God is working through that, despite my understanding or belief." 
 

7/07/2012

Snakes on a Bikepath


Took Ginger, a Chichiwawa, for a walk today on a bike path. A biker stopped to warn me that there was a snake on the path a few yards up.
I paused a minute wondering what I should do. I had on flip flops and I am not sure the Ginger has every encountered snake. I wondered how she would react. I thought a bunch of what-if questions...

Hoping the snake passed by, after a minute of reflection, I kept walking the same direction. We did not encounter any real life snakes, but in my head I saw thousands...every broken branch, every twisted thistle, every broken bamboo shoot, everywhere I turned my mind was playing tricks on me.

What if I get bit? What if Ginger gets bite?  I am not prepared for this. What if the snake is poisonous? What if it jumps out and I have no time to react?

It was really useless worries. I made it all the way to the lake and turned around and made it back home without a hitch or a snake but my mind was still playing tricks on me.
What is the snake going to do jump out in front of me in an ambush and attack me with his poisonous venomous attack? What a silly thought, as if snakes had a mind of intent against me.
I've had crazier dreams, especially snake related dreams.

Nonetheless, Ginger and I made it home safe and did not encounter that snake or any other snakes.

7/04/2012

America

Ok, so do not get me wrong....I do love America. I am so grateful for the sacrifices made for me to be living in this country. I am so blessed to be a citizen of the USA and to have all of the rights and freedoms I do have. It is truly wonderful. In fact, it seems unfair even, at times, when I think about me...I could have been born anywhere, but God wanted me here, in America. He wants me to but all of these blessings, privileges, rights and responsibilities to use for His glory.

On all of these holidays, especially July 4th, Americans get a little high on themselves. I do not care so much for all the celebrating and pride. I see people posting things about how America is the greatest country ever, if you are not an American than you are somehow less human or less important and I hear preachers say that America is going to be revolutionized and redeemed. They say how America is undeniably the world's stronghold.....and this is where I start getting upset with holidays like today.These statements cross the line for me


 Maybe I am not Patriotic enough or American enough....but America is not some special country that God loves more....if anything it is just the opposite. There is no mention of America in eschatology. In fact, this is the wrong side of the world. The real action is in the middle east. And Americans 'hate' the middle east.....
Do not get me wrong, I will not dispute that God can save, revolutionize and redeem America, if He wants to. I desire to be a part of that. I am attempting to live my life in that way. But there is no guarantee that this is going to happen. Christ may come back today. That would be wonderful too.

And guess what? God loves ALL human beings on planet earth. Non-Americans are humans too. They are not any less loved by God. They are not any less important. The truth of the Gospel is just as true for them as it is for the American Patriot. One thing that we so easily neglect is our understanding of world history. Yeah, we know our own American history well. We are proud of it in America, too proud. Studying world history and other country's history offers an amazing perspective.

Other countries have amazing stories and perspectives from their own history too. There is a lot of amazing and miraculous things happening around the World, not just in America. God is so good and doing so many amazing things. God loves them too. I think Americans have narrowed their eyes and vision on themselves so much, that they miss   everything else. God is moving and working around the world. God loves the nations, America is just one.

Albeit, America has been and still is a major country economically, socially, and even spiritually...we have a lot of freedom. But with that comes a lot of responsibility.

4/03/2012

Spring Break

When I was in school, we had an entire week long Spring Break including 2 weekends equaling nine days.
This week Starting Thursday and running through Monday is the "spring break" for Fairfield County Schools. So basically the school only has to lose 2 days of instruction- Thursday and Monday (5 total days) because Good Friday is already an automatic holiday. What is funnier is that the teachers have to be there on Friday for teacher work day.    It is basically just an extended Easter weekend.

3/17/2012

Faith is like a golf swing

Last week, I played my first round on the par three for the year. It was ugly, challenging and golf.

The first time I picked up a club, I thought the goal was to clobber the golf ball. I figured the harder I hit the thing, the straighter and further it would go, but this is far from the truth.

My stepdad, is always encouraging, critiquing and guiding my golf swing. If it was not for my stepdad, I probably would not spend any time golfing at all. Anyways, he reminded me that clobbering the ball actually is not the goal. He said "focus on the swing and let the swing take care of the ball." This is amazing advice.

Another golf challenge is of self-thought and reflection. In order to focus on your golf swing there is a need to think. It is important to remember what a good swing looks and feels like. It is good to practice a good swing. How is my stance? How is my posture? How is my grip? Are my wrists bent? Can I keep my elbows straight? Will my back swing be slow and deliberate? Will my head stay straight? Will my forearm motion be smooth? It certainly is not about merely smashing the ball hard.

On the other hand, it is also easy to over think it. While I am standing in front of the ball, thinking about my swing, I need to actually hit the ball. Thinking about it will not do any good without the action. Also while I am contemplating all the details of my swing, my body gets more tense and tight.   The more uptight my body becomes, the less successful my swing actually is.

The faith life of a Christian is not unlike the golf swing:

My heavenly Father is always encouraging, critiquing and guiding my faith. If it was not for the Heavenly Father and His grace, I could not have such faith. The Father is always reminding me "have faith and in faith trust me to take care of everything thing else (Mt. 6:33)." This is amazing advice!

There is a need to think about our personal faith life. There is a need for personal reflection and outward strategy for faith in the church. We should think about our actions beforehand and do some planning. We should also do some praying and preparing (with God's Word). Are we sinning? Are we living righteous? Are we surrendering to God?

On the other hand, we can easily over think and over plan. While we are sitting in our churches (or in our reading rooms) over thinking, we can become too comfortable. We can think about and talk about our faith all we want to be there also needs to be action (James 2:17).

So let us make deliberate good moves in our faith life, let us pray, worship and study His Word together, but let us also go out and in action in the real word and get on par about our faith by sharing the love of Christ.

3/13/2012

The Pleasures and Challenges of Substitute teaching so far

So this school year I have been a substitute teacher in all of the Fairfield County Schools (FYI, Lancaster City is not a County school). So I have been to Amanda Clearcreek, Fairfield Union, Pickerington schools, Bloom Carol Walnut Township and Liberty Union Schools. (Berne Union is also a Fairfiled County school, but I have not been assigned there this year).

 I have taught all school age groups (K-12) and just about every subject (from the basics- like math  and science to languages Spanish and French to specialties like cooking and industrial arts). It has been a neat experiences, some days easier than others.

There have been a lot of fun and good things about being a substitute teacher. Naturally, I like teaching and it comes easy for me. Although where I am used to teaching is in setting where the people are motivated to be there on their own power: (church, young adult, youth groups, extra-curricular hobbies/instruments or second languages). This is not always the disposition of the students. Obviously, in school the kids are required to be there and many do not desire to be there. So, with that said, I have  had to learn to keep students in line. I have been stretched this year in many ways:

I can be a very easy going, relaxed kind-of-guy. In high schools, this is fine. The students are glad to see me working in the their high schools. They know that I respect them to obey they rules and they respect me and there is no reason to cause any trouble. Working high schools is one of the easiest jobs. The downside is it can be boring, especially when the permanent teacher leaves boring worksheets or assignments.

I middle schools and elementary schools, my relaxed temperament is not always a good thing. I can be too nice and let the students do whatever they want. The good part about teaching middle schools and elementary schools is that I have to be more hands on and the teachers expect me to actually teach something, which is fun for me. The problem is that once students get out of line, I am not quick enough to punish. I will give a few verbal warnings and hope that they do not act up again and when they do I used to just ignore it or give another warning. But this aspect of my teaching temperament has been changing and stretching over the school year. Now I am more likely to follow through with the proper discipline measures after giving a verbal warning. Now the students are respecting my authority a little more. They know that they cannot walk all over me just because I am a sub.

Obviously, there are certain kids that have a more difficult time focusing and obeying than others, but yet these kids seem like they want to be social and develop a relationship with the teacher. They are probably hurting or lacking quality male role models in their lives. So I walk a strange line as duel roles come into play. One one hand, I am the authority of the class and disciplining them, but on the other hand, I am secretly praying for them. Also I am a low-key guy, so I let the kids be kids and socialize a little bit. As long as the kids respect me and do their work and obey the rules of the classroom, I do not see why we should be so uptight about certain behaviors, kids are kids - they need to talk and socialize. They need to play and learn. Life should be a life of balance. For me as the teacher, the challenge has been finding the line, drawling that line so the kids know where it is at and enforcing it. I am still learning the lines.

Some of the more challenging but also more rewarding days as a sub, have been working as a "intervention specialist," "special education" teacher and in the MD and DH classes. These classes I actually get to have one-on-one time with students and actually have to teach. These kids need a lot of patience, grace and persistence but once they actually make progress, even really small progress, it is very rewarding. I have intentionally taken a lot of these assignments because I feel like I am actually making a difference in these classes and have developed some relationships with the students since I have gotten these jobs on a pretty regular basis. I admit that these days can be draining and I would not want to do these classes every day, but these kids need the love.


3/12/2012

Wait what just happened?

Ok so at dinner, my 55year old mother gets a phone call from her 70 year old mother, in-which  my Nana (in my mom's words) made her (mom) feel guilty about not replying to a text message she had recently sent to my mom! The phone call lasted all of 10 seconds, mom said she was sorry and said she was busy and the phone call ended.

I was sitting there taking it all in, wondering why the two did not just have a real life phone conversation about the topic of the text message. Instead mom replied to the text message and then Nana texted back merely saying "call me." So mom called her back and they talked.....oh technology and irony.

3/11/2012

Skyrim and Rom 3

 10 As it is written:
   “There is no one righteous, not even one;
 11 there is no one who understands;
   there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
   they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
   not even one. (Ps 14:1–3, 53:1-3)”
13 “Their throats are open graves (Ps. 5:9);
   their tongues practice deceit .”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips (Ps. 140:3).” 
 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness (Ps. 10:7).”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
 16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know (Is. 59:7).”
 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes (Ps. 36:1).”

This sounds like one really bad dude. Terrible dude. It reminds me of my character on Skyrim. He is one bad dude. He steals, kicks and destroys anything that gets in his way. Not nice. He is bad.

But the reality is that all men, you and myself included, before salvation are all equally bad. We are all sinners. There is nothing good man can do on their own that can save themselves! No one can even seek out God on there own! 

How awesome it is that God comes down to man and saves us, even in our unworthy state. This truth is one that NO OTHER religion believes in. In other religions man has to work to earn something for God, but not with the Christianity of the Bible.