Sunday, January 31, 2010

God Loves People

God Loves People./ Any Shape. Any Color. Any Size./ You Don't Have to Be an Angel. To Be Really Special in His Eyes./ Well He Said it in John 3:16. And He Proved it on Calvary too./ God Loves People. Ordinary People. People Like Me & You....God Loves People. Ordinary People./ He Even Likes Me & You.

Perhaps you too grew up singing this song; or perhaps you have never heard it in your life. I used to sing it Sunday School; but haven't thought of it in years...until it just popped into my head tonight. You see, I have felt to blog about the recent experiences in my life now for a while, but my thoughts have been swirling in so many directions, I haven't been able to anchor them down yet to start typing. They're still swirling and there's much I have to share, but for now, I want to leave you with this:

God LOVES People.
Christian means Christlike.
As Christians we too must love people.

Not just our favorites. Not just those who flatter us. Or those who we think we can benefit from. Or those who we find pleasurable being around.

People. All people. Those we have things in common with. Those we have nothing in common with. Those who make us feel good. Those who annoy the fire out of us. Those who mean what they say. And those who don't. Those who exemplify Christ toward you. And those who don't.

Over the last month I have met MANY people. Here at TCMM, between the off-campus students, resident kids, staff kids and all the staff, I've probably met over 150 people. And not just met them, but am trying to learn their names, where they're originally from, who they are related to (when applicable), their interests, desires & goals, dislikes, etc.

I have also visited Memphis, a church about an hour from here, and a local church.

People. Lots and lots of people. From befriending a very sweet & classy evangelist's wife in Memphis to meeting a paraplegic lady in MS, who once taught in my home town in AR, to meeting a very simple, but very sweet couple, while leaving the church I visited tonight.

People. God loves them ALL.

Recently I heard someone refer to the school where I am teaching as a "glorified reform school". (The person's child attends there; this statement was made in an objective, not a belittling, manner). Most of my students come from troubled backgrounds; particularly the resident students (aka: Mansion Kids). Some of the off-campus students have been kicked out of other schools and some of the off-campus kids are angels. It makes for an interesting & challenging situation.

So what do I do? Well, I've prayed a lot about it; that's for sure. The answer? Love. Love them authentically and equally. Easy? No. Absolutely necessary? Yes.

And you know what? I believe they know.

It's not just kids that can read people. Everyone can. People have an innate ability of knowing whether you're real or fake. Of knowing whether the love your showing is real & from God or whether it's manufactured.

Love people.

How you might ask?
Love God first.
If He's truly first and foremost in your life, loving people, no matter how unlovable they may seem, will seem like less of a challenge and more of a privilege.

This morning Pastor Judd asked a question that I think is good for everyone to ask themselves:
"Has there ever been a time that you were more in love with God than you are now?" If the answer is yes, perhaps you should start with falling back in love with God.

My friend, we are indeed so blessed, because it's true:
God Loves People. Ordinary People. He Even Likes Me & You.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Facing Your Giants"...Why David?

So, I'm doing the unthinkable...I'm blogging twice on the same day! And it's not even because I have a bunch of free time on my hands! Just figured I'd shared some negative comments regarding a book I was reading, so thought I would share some positive ones on another one I am reading: "Facing Your Giants" by Max Lucado. It's really good thus far and I don't really have much to actually "say" about it, but rather have some parts that have stood out to me that I'd like to share. (For background, the book is about facing giants in life and is paralleled with the story of David defeating Goliath.)

Giants. We must face them. Yet we need not face them alone. Focus first, and most, on God. The times David did, giants fell. The days he didn't, David did.

...And that's where we find David, in the pasture with the flock. Scripture dedicates sixty-six chapters to his story, more than anyone else in the Bible outside of Jesus. The New Testament mentions his name fifty-nine times. He will establish and inhabit the world's most famous city, Jerusalem. The Son of God will be called the Son of David. The greatest of psalms will flow from his pen. We'll call him king, warrior, minstrel, and giant-killer. But today he's not even included in the family meeting; he's just a forgotten, uncredentialed kid, performing a menial task in a map-dot town.

What caused God to pick him? We want to know. We really want to know.

.....God saw what no one else saw: a God-seeking heart. David, for all his foibles, sought God like a lark seeks sunshine. He took after God's heart, because he stayed after God's heart. In the end, that's all God wanted or needed...wants or needs. Others measure your waist size or wallet. Not God. He examines hearts. When He finds one set on Him, He calls it and claims it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

God of the Detour

So here I am. Arrived at TCMM on Saturday and I have already almost finished getting settled into my apartment, met somewhere close to a hundred people, all of whose names I’m trying to quickly memorize, and started teaching 5 different subjects for my first time ever.

I am really excited about a class I didn’t realize I would be teaching and that’s the Bible class for the Junior High students which has about 30 students in it. Not only that, but I get to create my own curriculum (in other words teach whatever I feel to teach). What an awesome opportunity! I had brought tons of my notes and books from my Bible school years, because I was wanting to do a lot more studying this year in my free time, however now I’m reeeally thankful I decided to bring them, because I sure know I’m going to need them!

The other classes I’m teaching are English I, Health (twice), Biology, & Basic Math. Yeah for English & Health! As for Biology & Math..I shall survive. :o)

Being the new girl at TCMM is quite interesting. Before classes started I had lots of the kids ask me random things like, “Are you my new Science teacher?!” or state, “My name’s _____ & you’re my new English teacher!” And then there are the ones who have asked if I’ve started college yet, since a lot of them think I'm about 19. Some of the staff have shared with me random comments the residents have made regarding their first impressions of me. Amusing stuff. :o)

My first day of classes went waaay smoother than I had expected. The plan had been for someone to assist me a few days, but that didn’t end up happening. I’m glad though. Think they would have made me more nervous than the kids!

A few things I can say about the people here so far: I have never been around so many people that truly have a servant’s heart. Any help I have needed, not only has someone been more than willing to assist me, but they often offered before I’ve had a chance to even ask. Also, everyone has been very welcoming, to the extent that I can totally understand how this would be a great place of healing for a hurting child. I have felt very welcomed from the second I arrived here.

I know the future will hold many challenges. As I already knew, all my students are not little angels. A few in particular, who I’ve already figured out from just the first day, are going to be extreme challenges. And I also know that working, eating with, going to church with, and living in such close vicinity with around 50 of the same people (staff) and approximately 50 resident kids will be an interesting experience in itself. But I am going to learn. I am going to learn a lot, no doubt, and grow in ways I didn’t know I could, or perhaps even knew I needed to grow.

Yesterday I met one of the youngest resident girls and, within 5 minutes after meeting me, she had sneaked up behind me to hug me. My heart melted. That's what it's all about. These kids need to know that they can love and are lovable.

Sometimes detours happen in life. I used to get lost and get frustrated. Now when I get lost, if I’m not on a tight schedule, I don’t sweat it. It is at times like this that I have had the most awesome experiences. Of all the places I have lived, short term or long term, it is during times of being lost, or rather “detoured” that I made the most beautiful discoveries. In Indianapolis & St. Louis I discovered beautiful, “I thought these only existed in movies”, neighborhoods. In Holland I discovered a beautiful marina. In Estonia, the best place to see the prettiest view of the city. In Lithuania…a whole lot of awesome things (I got lost really bad one day. lol).

My point is, sometimes in life you may feel like you know or even you may know for sure where you are supposed to be headed. However, if God steers you a different direction for a bit, don’t sweat it. He has His reasons and I assure you they are good. Eventually it will all make sense. For me, being at TCMM is somewhat of a “detour” but also a fulfillment of a long forgotten childhood dream.

Apparently God remembered what I had forgotten. Imagine that. He is indeed a God of the details. And even if you’re a perfectionist I assure you that He “dots his Is and crosses his Ts” much more than you do. Your creator knows exactly what you need and at what time you need it. If He decides to take you on a detour for a short while, don’t explode in frustration. Look around; enjoy the scenery. Learn from it. I feel confident that if you look closely you just might find beauty in a place you never imagined it could exist.

It is Well with My Soul

Today I learned (and taught my English class) about how the song "It is Well with my Soul" was written by Horatio Spafford, a man who had just lost 4 of his daughters in a shipwreck. This same man had, within the last 2 previous years also lost a son to scarlet fever and also had his many real estate investments destroyed in the great Chicago fire. His wife, who had been traveling with the daughters, was the only family member that survived the shipwreck.

When the survivors of the wreck had
been rescued, Mrs. Spafford's first reaction was one of complete despair. Then she heard a voice speak to her, "You were spared for a purpose." And she immediately recalled the words of a friend, "It's easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God."

Mr. Spafford was originally supposed to be on that ship also, but was held back due to business and had sent them on ahead. While on the ship heading back to New York from England to be with his wife, shortly after crossing the area where the ship had sank, he penned the words to this beautiful song:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

"Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well."
~2 Kings 4:26

I want to have this attitude, no matter what the circumstances of life. When asked, "Is it well?" I want my reply to always be a resounding "Yes, it is well."

(I highly recommend listening to Selah's version of this song. It's probably available on Youtube; I just don't have access to Youtube here at the Mansion to post it. *sigh* :oP)