Saturday, June 30, 2012

In Everything We Do

One of my favorite preachers is Alistair Begg on Truth for Life. He has admonished all Christians to read the Book of Titus for 30 days and then we will better understand what is expected of us in our Christian walk.  It’s the knowledge of truth that leads to Godliness. I’ve taken it to heart and have been listening to it each day through the audio tool.  Max McLean’s powerful voice enhances the reading experience and helps me to be focused and benefit from hearing the Word through someone else’s voice.  I recommend mixing up your Bible reading with a little Bible listening in this manner.  I would also like to encourage you to read the Book of Titus everyday until school starts in some format with teacher lenses. 
As a Christian educator, public or private, we have a high calling with high standards. Paul is teaching us in Titus to pass grace and peace to those who are near us and to live a life that is godly. There are only three chapters in the Book of Titus, which makes the charge to read it each day pretty simple. In the first chapter, I was struck by Titus’s admonition to appoint elders throughout the towns. The church could not grow without local elders. How can we ever grow Christian Educators without local teachers?  These elders/teachers were to be blameless.  Phew! That’s quite the charge. Who of us can live a blameless life? In the flesh, no one can. In the Spirit, He can mold us. We need a teacher at every school who loves what is good, is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. (1:8).  Christian Educators at the school level are encouragers.
In Chapter 2, the older men are taught to be without extremes, worthy of respect, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love and endurance.  The older women are to be reverent, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine and to teach what is good. They are also charged to teach the younger women. Wouldn’t it be great for each mature Christian Educator to purposely mentor one of the younger teachers? For those of us who have weathered the profession, it is certainly our gift to nurture our newest teachers, Christian or not.  What a blessing we can be to our school community by being a mentor. Our young men are to set a good example by doing what is good.  My favorite line of the whole book is 2:7 – “In everything, set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”
Finally in Chapter 3, Paul helps us to understand authority.  In our schools, we must be under authority.  A 16-9 educator understands the law and when they are on the clock, they are “Congress.”  We must be under authority to our administrators, obedient and ready to do whatever is good. We are to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate and always gentle toward everyone.  That’s the “9” part of our call.  When we are exuding the Fruit of the Spirit, (love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, patience, self-control and faithfulness), we are living out Paul’s charge to Titus and all leaders.  3:8 – These things are profitable for everyone.
During the summer months, please intensify your time in the Word and use some of the great new tools available to us through technology.  I recommended the app – Holy Bible because it is totally interactive and can read the Word aloud to you also. If you haven’t already tried, record your own voice reading the Word and then save it for a future generation, your children’s children.  The Book of Titus is small, but a powerful Christian mandate for living out our faith, especially in a world that does not share our same worldview.  Grace and peace to all.

Prayerfully yours,

Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Peace in the Classroom

It’s easier to speak about peace during the summer months when most teachers are off, but I’m wondering how you display peace in the classroom. Isa. 48:18 – “Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea;” I love to be at the water’s edge to prayerwalk, but most often I go to the ocean when possible. This picture above is the St. Johns River in Clay County Florida, which to me represents peace. To have peace like a river is to be smooth and inviting. Others are attracted to that kind of peace and often wonder how they can have it to.  It’s supernatural. it’s not man-made. On that particular day, I remember how delightful it was to take in the smoothness and quiet of the river when a family of manatees suddenly broke the surface.  They, too, knew this time of day and the peace of the river was inviting.
            Peace in the classroom is a supernatural state. How do we display the fruit of peace and be smooth and inviting to our students and colleagues? The answer truly is a gift from God. In John 14:27Peace I leave you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. When Jesus left the earth, He gave us the Holy Spirit to be our peace. As a Christian in the public schools, there is no door or barrier that excludes the Holy Spirit. He is with you in every moment and in every place you go. We must learn to ask God for that peace that surpasses all understanding.  Since peace is not a natural component of the everyday classroom, how can we seek peace as a gift to those we are in contact each day?
            The first and most important step is to begin the day peacefully.  If your habit is to jump into the shower or dash to the computer or device as soon as you get up, consider reading the Word FIRST. If it seems impossible because you start far too early, purposely waking up 15 min. earlier (and going to bed 15 min. earlier) for the express purpose of adding 15 minutes of being in the Word will begin to place purposeful improvement into any hectic life. Second, try to memorize just a few scripture relating to peace so that when you find yourself in the craziness of the day, repeating the Word in your head is a blessing of peace to a weary soul. Third, practice saying nice things to others.  Go out of your way to greet people. Make every effort to ask others how their day is going. Look for ways to compliment (especially when you don’t feel like it.) God has designed us to be givers. It is not just a monetary act. We can be givers of our time, our talents, our energies, our word and be a gift of peace.
            Finally, others notice when you are in a peaceful state amidst a chaotic setting. It is often the opportunity to share Jesus’s love with our colleagues when they ask why we are so calm.  Just like a river so smooth and inviting is a Christian educator in a classroom of peace. It’s not by our efforts only that we can be peaceful, but by the enabling of God’s power through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peace.

Prayerfully yours,

Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

What They Have Taught Me

I love how technology connects us in ways we least expect.  Since beginning this 16-9 Movement blog, I have learned so much from others who are called to serve in schools across our nation.  This week one of our newest members of Christian Educators contacted me about the book he has written.  First of all, how many of us have written a book and secondarily, how many have been about teaching Christianly in the public schools?  As a 16-9 Christian, we must be legal and graceful, which is not always easy, but Daniel Fiore from South Florida is living proof of the struggles and triumphs of being a Christian public school teacher at the elementary level.
Mr. Fiore’s gift is sharing. He has opened his teaching practices and successes to all of us.  On his website he has made some amazing resources available to us including his money system for his classroom.  He has partnered with a local bank and it’s Future First program that teaches Financial Literacy for children to learn how to save, write checks and save money. Beyond his generosity on his website, his book is the most powerful gift he has given to us.  According to Mr. Fiore, “I believe teachers and parents can best relate to this book because they know the heart of a child and how blessed we are to have children in our lives daily.”
Daniel even has a blog where he can share his present experiences. I thought it was so great that he shared his initial anxieties about being changed from 3rd to 5th grade. Here is an excerpt from his blog: “On the last day of school, I began moving all my things to my new 5th grade classroom. Ironically, my new classroom was right next to the classroom I had my very first year teaching 3rd grade. As I passed my first classroom, I began to think about my first year at the school and how overwhelmed and worried I was as a new teacher.  I remembered how much I had to learn and how much time I spent getting my classroom ready for my students. I remembered feeling fear over whether or not I would be successful in that grade. (I wrote all about it in the first chapter of my book, What They Have Taught Me…) Suddenly, my worries and fears were interrupted by a sense of peace and calmness. I know it was God, once again, reminding me that it would all work out just like it did eight years ago.”
What They Have Taught Me” is written through eyes of blessings. At times we share how our colleagues or administrators have helped us grow and learn, but when do you learn about a teacher who tells the tales of how his students have blessed his growth?  What They Have Taught Me” highlights lessons on the “9” – love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control and patience. The greatest lesson of all is how to love others and God. He is even donating a portion of his sales to a scholarship foundation and is available to speak to other groups of Christian Educators.  Hopefully, we will host Daniel at one of our CEAI events this year.
I just downloaded his book to my Kindle version of my iPad and will devour it this weekend.  I highly recommend that you support Daniel in his effort to get the good news about God’s grace and love in our public schools by buying his book.  It’s available at Barnes and Noble, WinePress, and Amazon. I’ll add a comment to this blog post once I finish the book. Congratulations, Daniel. You have certainly inspired us to know our high calling as teachers.

Prayerfully yours,

Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Joy in the Classroom

This image is from my prayerwalk on the beach collection that helps remind me joy comes in the morning (Ps. 30:5) Each day is a new day in the Lord. In this 16-9 blog, the “9” in the 16-9 Movement is learning to display the Fruit of the Spirit in a public school classroom while honoring the laws of our great nation.  Have you ever noticed that the 9 fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” are really the fruit of the Spirit (singular). When we truly live out our faith, all 9 fruit are exuded as one.  I don’t know about you, but, displaying all the fruit at once, just doesn’t happen for me.  However, I know that it is God’s will for us to display His fruit, His way, by depending on His Holy Spirit to enable us. As we seek to display all fruit collectively, I would like to take the classroom-eye view of what it looks like to have JOY in the classroom.

            Joy is defined as the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; elation and a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated. When applied to our classrooms, it actually defines part of our high calling. We take great delight or experience happiness when something good or satisfying occurs.  There is keen pleasure for our students and classes when learning takes place and students are achieving. The whole reason we become a teacher is to make a difference and when we do, that’s joy! Perhaps one of the greatest reasons teachers don’t see their high calling or get discouraged is because the joy of impact is not always apparent.  Students don’t necessarily tell us that they understand. Many times we don’t even know if they “get it” until they are tested and too often we don’t even realize how much we meant to them until years later. Isadora Duncan said, “I do not teach children. I give them joy.” Being joyful and giving joy are symbiotic. How can we as Christian educators be purposeful about giving joy?
            Rather than a state of mind, I would like to have us consider joy as a gift to give. Walking in our classrooms each day, taking time to pray for joy and asking God’s help to give joy on purpose is an awesome way to begin the school year and each and every day throughout. These are a few simple questions we can start with as we arrive in our classrooms:  How can I give joy today to my students?  How can I display the fruit of joy in my life? How can I spread joy to my colleagues and administration?  Being joyful is contagious and often brings a sense of curiosity to others.  Their wonderment of how you can be so happy in difficult times as well as good times can only be answered by being Jesus with skin on.  I think of the thousands that Jesus purposely touched with joy and how they were better for their encounter with Him.  Are our students better because of their encounter with us? Do we display the joy of the Lord in our lives? Only with the power of His Spirit, of course.  When we do, we display the fruit of joy, against which there is no law!

            As I looked up joy in the Word, I was delighted to see hundreds of times this powerful word was used, but was most impressed with the shouts of joy given by God’s people for what He had done for them. Let us be teachers of the Book and have shouts of joy in our hearts for His incredible gift of becoming a teacher.  Be encouraged this summer to purposefully plan how you can give joy in the upcoming school year and displaying this powerful fruit in your life.  These are a few of my favorite verses of joy.

Psalm 16:11
- You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

John 15:11
- I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Romans 12:12
 - Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Psalm 30:5
- For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

How have you experienced joy in your classroom? What advice would you give others? 

Prayerfully yours,

Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.