When Grace Steps In

It was probably her giggling that drew my attention. Sentence diagramming really wasn’t all that funny as far as I knew.

It was early May and I was facing a class of sixteen inner-city kids in South Central Los Angeles. Though I had almost three years of teaching under my belt, this particular sixth grade class had pushed me to the limits of my patience far too many times, and I was more than ready to wave goodbye to them for the summer.

I had come a long way from the idealism of my first year of teaching and living in the inner city. That first year I’d covered up the bullet hole in the window with an inspirational poster. I’d plastered the walls with pictures of places worlds removed from the industrial buildings across the street. I told the kids daily that they had something worth saying and that I could help them say it. Together we would work hard and make something of their lives.

The problem, of course, was that my ideals kept crashing up against reality. Not just the spirit-deadening reality of the inner city — gang pressures, poverty, drug-destroyed families. I was also up against the basic, universal reality of the twelve- and thirteen-year-old mind. A mind with the switch tuned in almost permanently to the channel called “You can’t make me!”

And now I was faced with a giggle when I should have had only rapt attention. Walking over to the young offender, I asked for the note she had in her hands. Frozen, she refused to give it to me. I waited, all attention in the room on the quiet battle between teacher and student. When she finally handed it over she mumbled, “Okay, but I didn’t draw it,” the first clue that this wasn’t just an ordinary note being passed.

After getting the class going on a sentence diagramming competition, I finally had a chance to sneak a peek. It was a hand-drawn picture of me, dress details down to perfection, teeth blackened, nostrils flaring, and the words “I’m stupid” coming out of my mouth. The artist had done an amazing job and there was no doubt about who it was supposed to be.

I managed to fold up the picture calmly and return to directing the competition. My mind, however, was working furiously as I wavered between wanting to cry and wanting to ream a certain few students up one side and down the next. I figured I knew the two most likely candidates for drawing the picture. It would do them some good to get taken down a notch or two, and maybe it was high time that I did it!

Thankfully, that’s when Grace intervened.

Somehow, in those moments of very real hurt and fury, God was able to save me (and my students) from myself, by asking me very softly, “You want to do it your way, or My Way?”

I’d had almost three years of mostly trying to do it my way, and my head and my heart were really beginning to hurt from pounding against so many little twelve- and thirteen-year-old walls of resistance.

“Okay, Lord,” I silently prayed, “what should I do? How can you ever bring good out of this?”

With loving faithfulness, God showed me.

When there were about six minutes of class remaining I had the kids stop what they were doing and get out a piece of paper. Then, suppressing my pride, I showed them the picture. The whole class was silent as I told them how hurtful this was for me. Struggling not to cry, I told them there must be a reason behind why someone would draw such a picture and that now was their chance to tell me anything they needed to tell me. Then I let them write silently while I sniffled in the back of the classroom.

As I looked over the notes later, many of them said something like, “I’ve got nothing against you,” or “I’m sorry your feelings were hurt.” A number of them said, “You give us too much homework.” One student said, “We’re afraid of you.” And two notes, from the girls I figured were behind the picture, had a list of issues. I was too mean, too strict, and I picked on certain people too much.

Reading those notes, I realized that over the course of this year of slipshod work and incomplete assignments I had moved from being disappointed to being downright angry. Instead of encouraging my students, I had begun commanding them to achieve. I’d set high expectations without allowing for grace. Where I thought I was driving them to success I was actually driving them away.

I had some apologizing to do.

When the kids walked into my classroom the next day one boy and one girl each handed me a card. The one signed by all the boys expressed sincere regret for the ugly joke. The one from the girls asked for forgiveness.

I was dumbfounded. And more than a little humbled. I had my little speech all ready to give to the kids, but they’d beaten me to the punch. God had not only been busy softening my heart but also the hearts of my students.

If only I had let Him lead more often before this. If only this was the only time I would need to be taught this lesson.

It wasn’t. And with the help of this recalcitrant class, who I would also have as seventh and eighth graders, God gave me many more chances to learn just Who was better at teaching (and loving) inner-city kids.

Amy Morrison Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teacher Tales http://www.chickensoup.com/   Changing Lives One Story At A Time

 

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Slippery Slope of Destruction

Google Photos

Google Photos

I am deeply saddened this week. America is sliding down a very slippery slope of destruction. The SCOTUS ruled last week that same-sex marriage is the legal right of every person. Another, laugh in God’s face. Men and women today cannot possibly understand the implications of what they have done. It sickens me to consider how our leaders have led, and continue to lead, us down this highway to Sodom and Gomorrah. God will soon pass judgment on this nation and those who do not head His warning will suffer.

The celebration is simple by those who pronounce Love Has Won. Even those who are not homosexual bark celebration out. Don’t you want them to be happy they ask? They have a right to the same happiness as everyone else. Along with this new happiness they believe that everyone must approve of their actions. As a follower of Christ we cannot, and will not, approve of their actions. Yes, Jesus commands that we love one another and so we do not condemn you. Only Christ can do that. We love you as a creation of our Father but we cannot accept your sin as valid. God will not either.

Let me say first that God does want us to be happy. However, He has never guaranteed our happiness. It is by our fallen nature men seek to run their own lives and cast off the demands of God he has upon each of us. Romans 1:18-32 talks about the why and the response of God towards men who reject Him. God promises one a happy life including his own as he promises we will be persecuted and suffer just as He was. We are promised eternal happiness in heaven as our reward for enduring. What makes man happy is pleasure and he loves self-gratification rather than God (2 Timothy 3:1-5). The Word of God will judge the inhabitants of this world and we are told that those apart from Christ are storing up wrath against themselves. God will not be mocked. What a man sows that will he also reap.

It is here I want to explain what God says about one of the many arguments in favor of homosexual marriage. The lie that is being spread is this: Homosexual marriage is no different than the 1960’s fight for interracial marriage.

Most of the people who speak this lie were not even around in the 1960’s. Like most, someone came up with this comparison and so have justified homosexual marriage. First of all the racial issues of the 1960’s, intermarriage being one, was more about the mores of the time. The equal rights battle was being fiercely fought. Some pastors and laymen argued the Bible said it was sin to intermarry. Of course, like so many today they don’t read their Bibles, they play pick-a-verse.

The scriptures used are these: Deuteronomy 7:3-4 “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to theirs sons or taking their daughter for your son’s for they would turn away your sons from following me to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you and he would destroy you…”

Malachi 2:11 “Judah has been unfaithful, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which He loves, & has married the daughter of a foreign god.” (Try placing your name in place of Judah, and America in place of Israel, remembering that the sanctuary is more your heart, where God dwells, than that of a building).

2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership had righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

The 1960’s was a troublesome decade. Nowhere in the Word of God can I find that God commanded one to not marry within another race based on skin color. God’s only concern was for His children to be equally yoked based on the fact that each was a believer in Him.

There is a huge difference between the 1960’s interracial marriage battle and that of God’s law concerning same-sex marriage. Let’s look at the Word of God.

Leviticus 18:22 “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.”

Leviticus 20:13 “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

Romans 1:24-32 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”

These verses teach us that homosexuality is the result of denying and disobeying God. When People continue in sin He gives them over to show them the futility and hopelessness of life apart from God.

He does not create a person with homosexual desires. The Bible tells us that people become homosexual because of sin (Romans 1: 24-32) and ultimately because of their own choice. Yes, someone may be born with susceptibility to homosexuality, just as some are born to violence, defiance, etc. That does not excuse the persons choice of sin by giving in to the desire. Still, it is his choice as to act on these feelings by allowing others to feed him a lie that it is what God wants for his happiness.

The Bible does not say that homosexuality is a greater sin than others. Sin is sin and offensive to God. In 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10 we read a list of some sins that keep people separated from God, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” Homosexuality is only one of them.

Micah 6.8_2824_edited-1

 The good news is the Word of God says forgiveness is just as available to the homosexual as it is to an   adulterer or a murderer. God promises the strength for victory over sin, including homosexuality to anyone who believes in Jesus Christ for his or her salvation. Here are a few of those scriptures:

1 Corinthians 6:11(Notice this falls right behind the previous two verses we mentioned before) “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

Philippians 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

God, in His love, knows that our conscience needs to be freed from our guilt and condemnation. He understands that forgiveness of sins is our greatest need. In the ultimate act of love, God sent His Son Jesus. He suffered not only the pain of our wrongs, but also paid for their consequences in order that we may have forgiveness available to us when we sin. All you need to do is accept His free gift of grace and forgiveness.

In His love, God knew that our conscience needed to be freed from guilt and condemnation. He knew that forgiveness of sins was our greatest need. In the ultimate act of love, God not only suffered the pain of our wrongs, but also paid for their consequences in order that we may have forgiveness offered to us when we sin. All we need to do is to accept His free gift of forgiveness.

Courtesy of Google Photos

Perhaps you have stumbled upon this web page looking for a prayer of forgiveness to soothe a tormented soul. For all who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, forgiveness has been freely given. If we acknowledge our wrongs and ask for forgiveness, God will forgive us – no questions asked: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

If you understand that you are a sinner, and you believe that Jesus Christ came as the one and only Redeemer of sin, then you understand the prayer of forgiveness. The question is – are you ready to implement the prayer, by receiving God’s gift of His Son, Jesus Christ? If so, believe in Christ, repent of your sins, and commit the rest of your life to Him as Lord:

Want you please go to Him now? If you do not know how to pray perhaps this simple prayer can help:

 “Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

If you need help or have questions you can contact First Independent Methodist Church, via our church web page found at madisonmethodist.com.

 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Note: some thoughts are borrowed from:
http://www.gotquestions.org/homosexuality-Bible.html
http://www.allaboutgod.com/prayer-of-forgiveness.htm

 

Sunday’s Coming!

It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming…

When I was in college back in the 1970’s I was privileged to hear Dr. Anthony Compolo preach this sermon. It is one I have never forgotten, especially when Easter comes each year. He has continued to preach this sermon for many years on Good Friday. Read and enjoy.

Andy

Taken from the following website:

http://apologetica.us/2009/04/10/its-friday-but-sundays-coming-2/

The whole tape is great but the best part is at the end when Tony Campolo recalls one Sunday when he had a little preaching competition with the head pastor at the church where he attends.

Dr. Campolo tells how he preached the perfect sermon in every way and had taken the congregation to ‘the heights of glory’. As he sat down beside his pastor, Dr. Tony patted him on the knee and simply said, “Top that.” The older black pastor looked at him and said, “Boy, watch the master.” Then Dr. Campolo recalls for us the very brilliant message which followed.

The following is a short printed version of the 45 minute sermon–the printed version doesn’t really do justice to the original, but you can at least get an idea what the last part is like:

It’s Friday. But Sunday’s coming—

It was a simple sermon, starting softly, building in volume and intensity until the entire congregation was completely involved, repeating the phrases in unison. The sermon went something like this.

Cross in Storm_0158_edited-1

It’s Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that has bits of bones and glass and metal, tearing at his flesh. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The Son of man stands firm as they press the crown of thorns down into his brow. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. See Him walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from His body. See the cross crashing down on His back as He stumbles beneath the load. It’s Friday; but Sunday’s a coming.

It’s Friday. See those Roman soldiers driving the nails into the feet and hands of my Lord. Hear my Jesus cry, “Father, forgive them.” It’s Friday; but Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The sky grows dark, the earth begins to tremble, and He who knew no sin became sin for us. Holy God who will not abide with sin pours out His wrath on that perfect sacrificial lamb who cries out, “My God, My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?” What a horrible cry. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. And at the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil of the Temple that separates sinful man from Holy God was torn from the top to the bottom because Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that’s because it’s Friday, and they don’t know it, but Sunday’s a coming.

And on that horrible day 2000 years ago, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God, the only perfect man died on the cross of Calvary. Satan thought that he had won the victory. Surely he had destroyed the Son of God. Finally he had disproved the prophecy God had uttered in the Garden and the one who was to crush his head had been destroyed. But that was Friday.

Cross-double_3016_edited-1

Now, it’s Sunday. And just about dawn on that first day of the week, there was a great earthquake. But that wasn’t the only thing that was shaking because now it’s Sunday.

And the angel of the Lord is coming down out of heaven and rolling the stone away from the door of the tomb. Yes, it’s Sunday, and the angel of the Lord is sitting on that stone and the guards posted at the tomb to keep the body from disappearing were shaking in their boots because it’s Sunday, and the lamb that was silent before the slaughter is now the resurrected lion from the tribe of Judah, for He is not here, the angel says. He is risen indeed.

It’s Sunday, and the crucified and resurrected Christ has defeated death, hell, sin and the grave. It’s Sunday. And now everything has changed. It’s the age of grace, God’s grace poured out on all who would look to that crucified lamb of Calvary. Grace freely given to all who would believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary was buried and rose again. All because it’s Sunday.

At the end of the message the pastor shouts out:

It’s Friiidaaaay!

And the whole congregation responds:

But Sunday’s Coming!

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If you would like to hear the entire sermon follow this link (the last 5 minutes will have this part in it).

http://tonycampolo.org/its-friday-but-sundays-coming/#.VRRQBGaYI7A

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