Sunday, November 28, 2010

Garments of Praise

Here is how priceless everything He has dumped into our laps is:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

Isaiah 61

This is a great and mighty Savior. This is a great and mighty God. And He is calling for a people who would be redeemed and who would receive a cloak of praise in the place of grief and mourning. Worship instead of weeping. Life instead of death. Abundance instead of poverty. Lives full of meaning and purpose and hope instead of despair.

Friends, let's run toward the goal-- toward Jesus, toward purity that can offer Him the praise He is worthy of-- let's not mock Him by living in a manner that would grieve Him. We need each other so badly-- we need to call each other up to good works. We need to -- we were created to-- open mouths that have been made pure by His sacrifice and offer Him the worship He deserves. He has redeemed us! He has saved us! He has set us apart-- He has placed His seal upon us, He has promised us eternal friendship, He has redeemed us for love. Let's not cheapen our testimonies and our friendship with Him and  the truth of who He is by living in carnality and then proclaiming that we appreciate His sacrifice. Let's worship Him and allow Him to break and change us and then rebuild us into a people who display His splendor.

Speaking truth instead of lies.
Sewing peace instead of strife.
Drunk on His Spirit, not on wine.
Free to be His bondservant.
Emptied of ourselves until we are filled with Him.

Maranatha, maranatha, maranatha...come quickly, Lord Jesus...

It's been forever...

Hey... it's been a while!

I know that many of you guys are teachers so you'll totally get where I've been-- first semester is just so overwhelming, it seems. Even after all these years teaching school, I feel like I'm pulling myself through mud as I march from August (July next year) to December, and I'm dragging about 120 students with me. No, I really do like it, but teaching freshmen has a unique set of challenges at the beginning of the year. They're so sweet, honestly, even when they're being bad (many times, anyway), but we find ourselves fighting to help pull them out of the middle school mentality, and they fight right back against us because they resent the fact that we're still referring to so much of their behavior as "8th grade stuff." I totally understand why they hate it-- they've arrived! They've waited forever to be in high school and it feels to them like we're trying to rain on their parade. But the transition, like so many transitions, is one they don't recognize while they're in the midst of it and it hurts, and they don't know why they're hurting. They're just trying so hard to fit whatever molds they've convinced themselves they're supposed to be fitting into. For some of them, the transition is fairly smooth. For others...

"Total chaos" doesn't come close to describing it.

Meanwhile, the freshman teacher is life coach/counsellor/instructor/babysitter/mom/dad/bully/nursemaid,etc. So many of them fail first semester and they don't believe us, no matter what we tell them. We have older students come back to tell them-- they don't believe them. Their parents tell them-- they don't believe them. They think, Nah, she'll just pass me with a 70. That's what they always do.

And then....

Second semester, they believe us. They do much better after coming through that first tsunami of a report card. "I can fail. It can happen. They weren't kidding. Dang." They come back to school (some of them) sobered up. After the initial, "Hey, you gave me a 48," (to which I respond, "I didn't GIVE you anything. I did the math. You gave me just enough stuff to equal a 48") they seem to do so much better.

Which is why I'm glad we don't do The Odyssey until second semester.


Oh freshmen. I'm exactly like them in so many ways.