Tag Archives: learn

3 Lessons From George Washington

Recently I have been reading about the life of George Washington.  His incredible story continues to motivate and shape the direction of many people today.  His famous speech delivered to The Continental Congress, once nominated to be the first Commander in Chief, is worth repeating today for its sincerity and humility.

He said in part:  “But, lest some unlucky event should happen, unfavourable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered, by every Gentleman in the room, that I, this day, declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the Command I am honored with.”

His speech echoes what Paul wrote in Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 

So what does the newly appointed general do as he sets out to create an army and organize a rag-tag group of farmers and family men into an army to fight England?  He does three things from which we can learn from today and apply to our spiritual lives.

  1. He orders new uniforms.  Since the British uniforms are red, he chooses blue for the American “patriots.”   Identifying what side you are on is good for battles and for the spiritual battle we are in as Christians.   What team are you on?  Jesus said in Luke 11:23, He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.  Is it clear to yourself and to those around you that you are a Christian?  I think of being baptized and then being faithful in the life of your church as a sort of uniform that everyone can see.  Have you followed the Lord in believer’s baptism after you received Jesus for salvation?  And is your participation in church life a definite mark that you are on “Team Jesus?”  Do you “gather” with Jesus or scatter?
  2. The second thing Washington does is write up a will.  He ensures that his wife and other relatives know what to do in the event that he does not come back from battle.  Certainly a will is good financial advice for us and we should have wills in place today.  In a more practical way, Washington revealed by planning a will that he was ready to give his life for his country.  Truly, our lives are also on the line because we love Jesus.  in Luke 9:23, Jesus is teaching and says, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  No matter the cost: job, finances, business, friendships, relationships, fame, athletics, art, etc. We should be willing to lay all that aside for Jesus.  Washington was “All In.”  Are you “All In” in your walk and worship of Jesus?
  3. General Washington also ordered copies of several military books.  Getting a uniform for the troops was not going to be enough to win against the British.  He needed to read about military tactics and disciplines for soldiers, etc.  He studied what he needed to know to be as successful as humanly possible in his undertaking of being the Commander in Chief.  I wonder if you and I read and study as much as we should to be successful in the Christian life?  Paul told Timothy to study the Word.  2 Timothy 2:15 commands, Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

There are many good books that are Bible based to help with areas of life in which all of us need help!  Here are several examples to take to heart and consider:

  • Books for relationships; how to be a good friend, what to look for in a potential mate, what does the Bible teach about dating, etc.
  • Books for marriage; communication, commitment, intimacy, and more.
  • Books for parenting; developing your child in adolescence, spiritual formation, parenting with purpose, and gaining the heart of your teenager.
  • Books for teens; there are many good books I recommend you to have you tween and teenagers read as they begin to navigate choices, friendships, and the opposite gender!
  • Books for growth; so many good books have been written on prayer, Bible Study, and how to have  closer walk with the Lord.  Daily devotional books, Christian magazines, and other Christian books should be something that we utilize.
  • Books for finances; most people could have more money and do more good with money if they knew the best ways to manage it.  A person who is not disciplined enough to read a book about fiances is probably not going to be disciplined enough with his money to be considered by God a “good steward.”  Convicting thought.

Some people do not like to read.  Most of us fight the natural response to “study.”  Study is hard work.  Study does require reading.  If Washington took his role so serious that he ordered some books to improve his skills, certainly, we can follow his example to read a few books a year to further develop our Christianity, our home life, and the direction of our life.  After all, when you really think about it – we are in a battle too.  A Spiritual Battle.

Ultimately, the underdog Americans won against the superior forces of England because it was the will of God.  In incredible ways from the timing of travel to the delay of weather, to the involvement of other nations, and even the apathy of some of the British towards the Patriots, the Lord caused a nation to be born.  Many Americans were praying.  The leaders were seeking the Lord.  God did the impossible and He accomplished His will through George Washington and others who were willing to be in the right place at the right time.  God can use humble people.  God will continue use people who are willing to learn, grow, and take serious the Christian life – to perform His will even today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Screen Suggestions for Students

Screen Suggestions for Students

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Philippians 4:5

Screen suggestions for students, well, perhaps more for the parents of students.  All of us have noticed the exponential leap of digital devices creeping into our lives.  I like the new devices.  The digital things, screens of all sizes, and new tech can be terrific.  But at some point, we can have too much of a good thing.

Paul was telling the believers at Philippi that moderation should clearly be part of their lives.  We can go overboard – even with good things.  Balance is needed in every area of the Christian life.  If we are not careful the stuff we have will control us!

Here are some ideas to help moderate the tech stuff of life:

  1. Ensure your child gets a full night of rest, have a media basket for all the cell phones and connected devices to rest at night.  The temptation to communicate, surf, and feed possible addictions become less when a device is not accessible at night.  Even if music or other things are used on a device to help a child go to sleep, it seems like a short-sighted fix.  We should avoid being dependent on anything or anyone other than Jesus and His Word.
  2. Increase your child’s GPA; get rid of the smart phone.  With an increase of smart device use, the need for learning and knowing stuff for yourself tends to decrease.  A study came out recently suggesting that students learn better from print on paper books.  Even the talented people who create these devices and software do not allow their kids to have much screen time.  They buy their kids printed books.
  3. Work on social skills.  When children are visiting your home, have a phone basket for the phones to go in.  Have you noticed that with all the social media that people are actually less social in real life settings?
  4. Teach your children the sacredness of worship by instructing them to not play on devices while at the church building.  Turn them off.  A print Bible has less possible distractions than a digital one.
  5. Some have gone back to flip phones or what I call “dumb phones.”  These phones revert back to the whole reason for a phone to begin with – calling and texting.  It is good for children to know how to use devices without letting those devices control them.
  6. We do allow our kids to have “tablet time” but it is limited with time increments and we do not only monitor, but we know all of the programs that we have installed on those devices.  Parents cannot be too careful in guiding their children to enable and equip them for making right decisions.
  7. Much of these principles can be applied to video games and screens of any size as well.

I hope these suggestions will help you find a healthy balance.  Do you have several others?  Post them here and they may be re-posted for others to see…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting the New School Year Right

Starting the New School Year Right

The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.  Proverbs 21:5

You may enjoy this humorous story as much as I did:  “A college freshman was giving her friend a tour of the college she attended. She pointed out the various recreational sights in the area and the numerous places for eating out. When they returned to the dorm, the freshman reminded her visiting friend that they needed to be quiet because her roommates were studying. Before they entered the room she whispered to her friend, “All they do is study. Honestly, I don’t even know why they came to college.””  (Ministry127)

It was Francis Bacon who said: “Crafty men condemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them.”  We must be wise in our approach to the new school year.  Thinking and planning ahead is commended in the Scripture.  The person who is diligent in his thoughts will have results that end in plenty.  Nearly all of us would want not only “passing grades” but “excelling grades” for each class we take!

Apply this truth of diligence to the education department of your life and you can learn how to become successful in your pursuit of learning in this new school year.  Go for more than an “A+.”  These truths can work no matter if you are entering kindergarten or college.

Whether a student or a parent of a student, this list will help you think through the start of the new year to enable you to “Start the New School Year Right.”

  • Have a Good Attitude. Attitude is of paramount importance as you plan for a new school year.  Whether you have 0 or 15 years of schooling, each year is new and different.  There can be some intimidation that comes with new teachers, new subjects, and new classmates.  Speak with enthusiasm about the new school year.  Talk openly of fears, then resolve to have Bible faith to face those fears and move past them.  Avoid those who speak ill of teachers, class, or school.  Don’t listen to them.   Focus on the positives and be consistent to speak often of the great potential for learning and growing.  Good attitudes are reflected in our words and actions.  Your effort in studies is affected by your attitude.  Have a good attitude and purpose to look forward to each school day.
  • Have Personal Discipline. Leave early for class.  If school starts at 8:10 AM.  Plan to arrive at 8:00 AM.  If it takes you 20 minutes to drive to school, leave 30 minutes early.  Much of the hasty, rushing feeling and frustration on the first day can be avoided by being more disciplined with your time and when you actually leave the house or dorm room to make it to class.
  • Have a Healthy Breakfast. You have heard that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  Not only does it help maintain metabolism and even fights against obesity, breakfast can stimulate the mind and get the “thinking juices” going after a night of sleep and “fasting.”  Breaking the fast is important to the developing mind and body.  Inattentiveness, sleepiness and attitudes are all affected in a positive way when a healthy breakfast has been enjoyed.
  • Have a Devotional Time. Take a few moments to pray for each day to be the best day of this school year.  Read some Scripture and meditate on the Bible verses you have read to help encourage you and to guide your learning ethic and relational skills throughout the school day.  Dedicate your pursuit of learning to the Lord each day.
  • Have a Flexible Spirit. Not everything will go as planned.  That is all right!  God is still in control and He will help you through each day.  Things will come up that delay you, sidetrack you, and even slow you down from reaching your daily goals.  If you stop and focus on the distractions, then you will not achieve the learning that you need for that day.  Be flexible, and then learn how to refocus.

Those who rush thoughtlessly to the classroom may make a passing grade, but they may not learn all that they could have if they do not have these principles guiding them.  Many people come up short in knowledge because they do not think, plan, and execute their plan for success in the classroom.

You can do better than merely get a good grade on paper.  Ask the Lord to help you start the new school year right.  Then go on to have the best year in school that you have ever had!

“Then I Can Be a Helper”

“Then I Can Be a Helper”

She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.  Proverbs 31:20

Many churches all across the US conducts their own Vacation Bible School during the fleeting summer months.  Thousands of children and families are exposed to the Gospel and taught the Bible in a fun filled way.  Recently Wilton Baptist Church hosted our annual 6 night VBS.   The entire team from the check in people, to the “banker,” the teachers, game and craft leaders and our “mad” scientist did a great job!  We thank the Lord for their work.  A spirit of teamwork and excellence was evident each night.  In fact, it was in many ways our best VBS ever.

Talking to our 5th grader about VBS I suggested that she only has one more year left of VBS.  While the thought of her being “too old” to attend and participate as a student was not that exciting, she simply said: “…Then I can be a helper at VBS.”

I am thankful for her heart of wanting to continue to be involved in VBS.  When things are happening at church, you may notice in your children, they want to be involved.  Kids need to know they belong and their is a place of service and ministry for the, today.  Our kids do not have to “grow up” before serving Jesus.  Part of their “Growing up” is serving Jesus today.

Be encouraged to nurture a spirit of participation in your kids.  They may outgrow certain events, and reach “age limits” for VBS, camp, etc, but they should never outgrow an attitude of wanting to be involved in the work of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seek God – Find Life

Seek God – Find Life

The following quotation was read by Dr. Adrian Rogers and taken from an essay by a 17 year old boy.   This boy wrote an essay on the topic of “union with Jesus Christ” as part of his school work in a Christian school.  As you read this, at first it may sound like a terrific essay:

“If we examine the history of man’s nature as an individual, we constantly observe that spark of divinity in his breast. The enthusiasm for what is good. The struggle for wisdom. The longing for truth are being smothered by the flames of desire and greed. The zeal for virtue becomes deathened by the tempting voice of sin and turns into a mockery as soon as we feel the full impact of life. Our hearts reason, history the word of Christ all call out to us loudly and convincingly to tell us that union with Him is absolutely necessary and without Him we would be rejected of God. For He alone is able to deliver us. Once a man has obtained this virtue, this union with Christ, he will awake quietly and composedly, await quietly and composedly the blows of fate. He will bravely oppose the storms of passion. And endure undaunted the rage of the wicked. For who can crush him or rob him of his Redeemer?”

“What’s the problem with all of that? Not a thing in the world, so far as truth is concerned. But if he had been writing an essay on Geography or history he would have done just as good a job because he had a brilliant mind. He knew the answers but he doesn’t know Jesus. Founded atheistic Communism. Can you imagine, a person knowing all of that truth and yet not knowing the Lord?

The person who wrote it was Karl Marx. Karl Marx, the founder of godless, atheistic Communism. The one who wrote the diabolical book, Das Kapital. The one who has caused more misery, more bloodshed, more hatred, more violence, more division, I suppose, than any other man who ever lived. Karl Marx wrote this when he was a seventeen year old boy.”  – The Adrian Rogers Legacy Collection

Jesus said in Luke 12:48 For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Graduates, purpose to hold the following principles in your daily life going forward.  These principles are taken from Amos 5:4, 6, 8, 14.  For example: Amos 5:4 says, For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:

In fact, each of the above references say much the same thing: Seek God – Find Life.

  • You are leaving High School, but you are not leaving God.
  • Some people walk all alone in life. Israel was walking away from God and Amos warns them that they were walking alone.  Can two walk together except they be agreed?  No! They were all alone because of their sin.
  • No matter what happens in life, we must keep seeking God.

Keep seeking God.

God’s people, to whom Amos was preaching had been worshipping false gods for a long time.  They had a lot of stuff and in many ways they worshipped their material things, possessions, and money.  Read the book of Amos for more details.  Greed, stealing, and coveting was all too prominent in everyday life.  If they were living in our day and age, they would have looked a lot like us; plenty of food, too much stuff, and lots of money.  Possessions and stuff was now controlling them – much like many of us today.  If they were alive today, they would have had the best cell phones, the fastest computers, and the best-looking cars.  They had everything that mattered materially in life because God had previously blessed their fathers and forefathers.  They had enough and more than enough, but they did not have God.

Think of it this way: We do not have much of a life if we live without God.

God’s people had left God.  They were walking through life all alone.  They had stuff, money, families, jobs, land, chariots, and things – but they had left the Lord. Please note the following and examine your heart…

  1. Success Can Blur Your Vision of God.
  2. Stuff Can Weaken Your Value on God.
  3. Situations Can Lessen Your Victory in God.

Current and old chapters of life end, new chapters begin – Keep Seeking God.  Seasons go, and seasons come – keep seeking God. Changes happen in life – keep seeking God.

Follow what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

When we seek God first – that is when we really find living.

The Teachers’ Difference

The Teachers’ Difference

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.  2 Timothy 2:24

During teacher appreciation week (which concludes today) I noticed several “thank-you” and notes of appreciation on social media.  Many people were lauding their teachers from childhood and high school.  Amazingly my name was listed in some of the postings.  Around 15 years ago, I had the opportunity to be a High School Science and Biology teacher.   I was blessed to see that one of my former students posted that I had made Chemistry/Biology “fun.”  I am encouraged that his perspective and recollection of our class created, not just head knowledge of a subject, but that he enjoyed and benefited from the classes.  In other words- he did not just get data, or knowledge, he also learned some things about life.  Christians can be joyful and live happy, healthy lives!

As Paul is writing to Pastor Timothy, he speaks about the servant of God being apt to teach.  This is definitely a quality that is needed in ministry and certainly in classrooms of any kind.  Teaching and learning is part of the plan God gave to mankind.  We even have a Bible written by God so we can learn of Him.  We must be able to read in order to study and read His Word.  Thank the Lord for education and learning!

Who taught you – English with thoughtfulness?  Who taught you – math with order and purpose?  Who taught you and motivated you for history – so that the bad parts of history are hopefully not repeated?  Be thankful for those teachers who took the time to teach in the classroom and made the effort to mold and shape you in civic and Christian ways.

All teachers make a difference.  Some seem to make more an impact, and others less.  Some teachers make a difference in areas other than merely the subject they are teaching.  All teachers make some kind of a difference.

Every student knows the strong points and weak points of the teacher.  Each student takes away specific memories from the classroom.  Some memories are fond and are good.  Other memories are difficult, or sad.  Sometimes what is etched in the student the most are not the lessons, but the deportment, cheerfulness, or encouraging nature of the teacher.  Teachers can and should be terrific motivators.

One word spoken harshly could define the teacher in the mind of a student.  One off the cuff remark could ruin a reputation of the teacher in the mind of the student.  One kind word could make an eternal difference in the life of a student.  One expression of care or interest can make a big difference.  Christians, who are also teachers, can even make an eternal impact because of the Gospel of Christ!

  • Teachers reading this – thank you for doing what you do!  What kind of difference will you make?  Good or bad?  A positive and encouraging or a discouraging difference?
  • Students (and former students) will you look back and be thankful for the joyful moments and also be thankful for even the difficult lessons you learned in the classroom from a teacher?

Truly, teachers could be considered “servants of the Lord.”  Teaching is definitely a calling.  Thank you for being a difference maker in the lives of so many.

 

 

Making the Teacher Happy

Making the Teacher Happy

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. Luke 2:52

It makes sense to me.  Want good grades?  Want to not earn demerits?  Want to not be punished by your parents for wrong doing while at school?  Then make it a goal to “make the teacher happy.”

Don’t get this wrong.  Just about every week, the news tells us about impropriety and immorality between a teacher and student.  That is not how to make the teacher happy.  Making the teacher happy in the sense of gaining their favor in the classroom is something that should be expected.  Earning the esteem and admiration of the teacher should be like “second nature” to a student.

Here are some ideas to gain the favor of the teacher, earn good grades, and to become a more complete boy or girl for Jesus.  Parents, these are expectations you should have for your son/daughter.

  1. Work on your attitude. A student with a good attitude can do anything and become anyone that God wants him to be.  A student with a rotten attitude will not be able to achieve all God wants – because of the bad attitude.  As a parent, this is the most important area to work on.  If an attitude is demanding, selfish, reluctant, pushy, sarcastic, or manipulative, then the student is heading for a disastrous life unless there is an intervention.  Parents, work together with the teacher to remedy the attitude.  Rules do not make a bad attitude – a rebellious heart makes a bad attitude.  Attitude is a choice of the heart – not the circumstances. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  And Jesus said in Matthew 15:18, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.”  The attitude, good or bad, is a reflection of the heart.
  2. Know the score. Each student should know what is expected in each class.  Jr High and Sr High school students rotate between classes and teachers and there will be variations of expectations in each class.  The student should learn each nuance and expectation and adjust accordingly.  If the student does not know what is expected, he should ask for clarification.  For example: One teacher may want the student to sit more straight in the chair, while another teacher looks for the students name to be printed on the top right (instead of to the left) of an assignment.
  3. Think before you speak. The classroom interaction should remain positive and encouraging.  When a teacher corrects a child, it is not the same thing as disciplining a child.  For example: a student is disrupting the class and talking out of turn.  When the teacher says: “Stop talking” – she has offered correction – not punishment.  The embarrassment of being called out may impact the student, but no discipline has happened. If the student talks back by giving an excuse for disobeying the rules, then he should be punished for acting and speaking the rebellion in his heart.  Demerits and detention are examples of punishment.  When correction is noted and told the parent and when actually discipline talks place in school, I believe it is best that the parents follows up with their own personal discipline and punishment at home.  Students misbehaving at school are a reflection of the parenting, or lack of parenting in the home. Parents are advised to train their children to “think before they speak.”
  4. Respect everyone. A student does not have to understand a rule, just agree to live by it.  Institutional rules are not intended to be morally right or wrong, but to give order and structure to the organization.  Disobeying a rule is morally wrong, even when the rule has no moral bearing.  A majority of rules in a school have to do with respecting other people.  In this era of education, most people are focused on individual rights.  Surprisingly, some Christians have also adopted this humanistic philosophy.  The Bible and traditional education is more focused on the rights of others.  For example, an clothing outfit that is distracting to others is ruled against in order to not interfere with the learning of the other students.  Another example – talking and disrupting class with sarcastic remarks is not allowed so that other students are able to focus on their studies.  Teach your student to be considerate of others when he comes to the classroom.
  5. Expect more. Many parents allow their child to talk back, complain until the parent changes his mind, and even manipulate the decisions of the parents with emotional instability, constant nagging, and a persistent bad attitude.  I encourage you to expect more and demand less.  Expect more of a submissive attitude and demand less negative talking.  When complaining starts – stop it. When a sour expression glosses over the face – stop it.  Expect more. When teachers and others in authority inform there is a problem – get to the root of the problem – the heart.  Defending a student, making up excuses, or taking sides will not help develop the heart of the student for the Lord.  Dross is never removed from the gold until the heat is applied.  Just like gold, a student will not be worth much in life if all the dross and impurities of a bad attitude and selfish life are removed.  It is ultimately the student’s choice, but a parent, like the goldsmith, can make a big difference.
  6. Honor God. Each student wanting to honor the Lord willingly submits to the authority and the education the Lord has called him to.  While a student may not have a “paying” job, the Lord has called each student to the “full time job” of learning.  It is hard work to focus, pay attention to detail, write papers, and study for tests.  Being a student is a “Calling” with lifelong implications and dividends.  If a student does not develop good study habits, personal disciplining relationships with authority and peers, and make decisions that honor God while in his youth – it is much harder to learn it later in life.  Thank the Lord for many who have been saved, or saved people who have been restored to fellowship later in life.  But think of the years wasted, the relationships ruined, and the witness for Christ diminished during that time.  Help your student to honor God today.

By the Way:  The Jewish boys would become a “son of the commandment” at age 13.  In the years before age 13, the parents would do all they could to help the boy mature and develop into a respectable and responsible young man.  That is the context of Jesus “increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”  Mary and Joseph taught their boys before age 13 to put God first in their lives.  Parents, you do not have much time to help your student learn to “Be” and to “Do” right.

Learn to make your teacher happy. It will cause your educational years to be both enjoyable and productive.