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Archive for January, 2011

“For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,but the way of the wicked leads to destruction (Psalm 1:6).”

Dr. Chris Taub’s face has been splashed all over town on a billboard in an episode of the medical drama “House” called “Larger than Life”.  By the end of the show, Taub is throwing globs of paint at his image in the dark.

Taub’s face has been chosen as a marketing tool by the hospital where he works because he appears trustworthy. The slogan appearing with his picture is “Be Better”. He knows at heart that he is far from the view portrayed of him to the public.

Taub has had a problem in the past being faithful to his wife Rachel. While he professes to love her, and she him, the missus has taken up with a man online to get what she hasn’t been getting emotionally from her husband. 

Rachel has never met this man. Yet, she shares intimate details with him (which she doesn’tdo with her husband) and has developed feelings.

This has made Rachel happy. In a funny twist, the effect of her higher emotional state  has made her more amorous with her husband.

However, Taub thinks he sees through it all. He believes that since Rachel can’t engage in physical “l’amour” with this fellow from the Internet, she is using him as a substitute.

Once Taub has this seeming epiphany, he tells Rachel he believes they should get a divorce. He tells her that what she is doing is indeed his fault, and gets her to admit that she is not really happy.

TV critic Barbara Barnett summarizes what is going on inside of Taub and asks some good questions:

“Realizing her relationship is his own fault, Taub is disgusted with the image projected by the billboard image. He is a small man inside, and refusing to understand where Rachel is coming from, proposed to end their 11 year marriage. But has Taub overestimated the relationship between Rachel and the confidante? Does the relationship (in his mind) become needlessly intimidating? Or is it just an excuse to finally end a marriage to which he wasn’t all that committed anyway?”

Dr. Taub wants to walk away from the difficulties of his marriage. He doesn’t have the courage or will to fight for the woman he says he loves.

Walking away from a noble fight has a long history. This type of thing is even documented in the Bible.

Israel was preparing to cross the Jordan River to engage the tribes in the land God had promised to them when things hit a snag.  A couple of the Israelite tribes, the Reubenites and Gadites, went to Moses and told them that they wanted to plant themselves where they were and wouldn’t be coming along.

Moses reminded these recalcitrant folks what had happened to to previous Israelites who had refused to fight for what God had promised them. He told them that God had become angry and punished them (Numbers 32:1-13).

Moses further said to them,“And here you are, a brood of sinners, standing in the place of your fathers and making the LORD even more angry with Israel.  If you turn away from following him, he will again leave all this people in the wilderness, and you will be the cause of their destruction (Numbers 32:14-15).”

Occasionally, though, the Israelites produced individuals who fought for them. One of these people was a woman, Queen Esther.

A ruthless man named Haman had conjured up a plot against the Jews in the Persian Empire. However, his plot had been discovered and he had been executed.

Unfortunately, the problem for the Jews was not over. A law had been passed dictating their destruction. In Persia, once a law had been issued, it was irrevocable.

Esther, at the risk of her life, went to her husband the king and said:

scepter to Esther and she arose and stood before him.“If it pleases the king and if he regards me with favor and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king’s provinces.  For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family (Esther 8:5-8)?”

In response, the king issued a proclamation allowing the Jews to defend themselves agains those who might attack them. As a result, they soundly defeated their enemies (Esther 8:11-9:17).

Where did Esther get her courage, a bravery that not only saved her family, but her whole nation?  It isn’t difficult to figure out. She had a godly uncle named Mordecai who raised her, and encouraged her to defend her people.

When the leader of the home provides a good foundation of hearing and obeying God, then that home can withstand severe onlslaughts. On the other hand. of the head of the home doesn’t do this, or even sets the pace in wrong living, then that house is on quicksand (Luke 6:46-49).

Dr. Chris Taub’s behavior had led to the downfall of his marriage. Instead of battling to rebuild it and set his home on a good foundation, he gave up and walked away. He refused to try and “be better”.

We humans have been created in the image of God. The only way we can be better is to live out that image.

Taub throwing paint on his own image was appropriate. His was marred. God’s isn’t. Only a face with His reflection deserves to go on a billboard.   

If we walk away from our marriages and our families when things are bad, we won’t solve anything. In fact, we will set in motion destruction.

“We expected something, something better than before. We expected something more. Do you really think you can just put it in a safe behind a painting, lock it up and leave? Do you really think you can just put it in a safe behind a painting, lock it up and leave? Walk away now and you’re gonna start a war (from “Start a War” by The National).”

The message from God is clear. When the battle is hot, don’t walk away. Be better.

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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,700 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 233 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 343 posts. There was 1 picture uploaded, taking a total of 56kb.

The busiest day of the year was March 3rd with 72 views. The most popular post that day was Lessons from the Blind Side.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were alphainventions.com, en.wordpress.com, timofowler.wordpress.com, static.wix.com, and facebook.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for the blind side lessons, lessons from the blind side, the blind side bible study, the blind side activities, and the blind side lesson.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Lessons from the Blind Side November 2009

2

I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold August 2010
1 comment

3

I want my wife to say,”There is nothing for me but to love you.” January 2010
1 comment

4

We might not want to get involved, but sometimes we should April 2010

5

About SND August 2009

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“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness (John 12:46).”

Every year our president gives his State of the Union message. It’s supposed to tell the country how we are doing and outline some plans for the future.

Here is a column I ran across in the Washington Post right before President Obama gave his talk to Congress and the American people:

The state of Obama is strong

By Jonathan Capehart

“The President Obama you see tonight will be different from the one you saw on Nov. 3. That Obama was a little glum and introduced into our political lexicon the now-worn-out gerund “shellacking” to describe the beat-down he and the Democrats suffered at the polls in the midterm elections. No, the Obama you will see tonight will be strong. Really strong.

Folks were pronouncing Obama’s presidency pretty much dead for the next two years on Nov. 3. Heck, I even worried the president might not be able to get it together before the 2012 sweepstakes got underway in less than a year. But as John Heilemann reports in a fascinating must-read New York magazine piece, Obama recognized he and his administration were in trouble and started shoring things up before the actual reality struck in November. And the string of accomplishments in the lame-duck session are testament to a more focused, hands-on and assertive chief executive. You know you’re doing something right when your arch-nemesis, Charles Krauthammer, spends two columns complimenting you, including dubbing you “The new comeback kid.” Yeah, the compliments were all backhanded. But they were compliments all the same.

And now Obama has the surging job approval ratings to back up his strength and Krauthammer’s grudging admiration.”

 I too admire the fact that Mr. Obama woke up from the tar and feathering he took in November and decided to do something about it.  He could’ve run and hid, but he didn’t. He “manned up” and took action.

Whether you agree with his politics or not, you would have to agree that our president took his drubbing to heart. Mr. Obama got up off the mat and began to restore his status with the American people.

The last I checked his approval ratings had moved up to over 50 per cent. This is quite  a rise from the low 40s, even upper 30s, where they were recently.

Sometimes we get a wake up call that makes us do a turn around. This happened to the apostle Paul.

Here he was, minding his own business, walking along a road to Damascus in order to roust out some Christians and persecute them, when Jesus Himself appeared. Paul was blinded by an extremely bright light and heard a voice.

Paul fell to the ground. Jesus told him to stand up, and commissioned him for service (Acts 26:12-18).

The last few years I feel as if I have taken a shellacking myself. Life has been rough in many ways. Among my most recent problems is a serious illness.

As a middle-aged man, moving into the status of old age pensioner no too far down the road, I have been looking at my mortality. I realize I may have only a few years left. In fact, none of us are even guaranteed tomorrow.

The beatings I have taken in life have led me to a thought here at the new year, though.  Like Mr. Obama, instead of finding the next corner to hide in, I am ready to take it to the next level.

Whether I meet Jesus through passing into the next life, or by His sudden appearing, I want to be ready. I don’t want to be like the five foolish virgins in the Bible.

You remember them. Jesus told a story about these girls. They fell asleep waiting for the bridegroom to the wedding they were supposed to attend.

However, these ladies didn’t bring enough oil for their lamps, and when the bridegroom did show up in the wee hours they were off buying some. They missed the bridegroom and the wedding entirely. They weren’t prepared (Matthew 25:1-13).

Likewise, Jesus told a story about a wicked and lazy servant. What made this man receive such monikers?

Well, he received a bag of gold from his boss. Instead of doing something with it while waiting for the boss to return, he hid it in the ground.

He was too afraid and fearful to make a move with the money.  The boss returned and verbally whipped up on him.

I can relate to the women with the empty lamps and the employee with the gold. I’m tired, too. I’m also a little fearful of the future.

Despite my fatigue and fear, I think the answer is not to bury my head in my  pillow or become a recluse. Jesus wants more from me than that.

He told Paul when he commissioned him to reach out to the Gentiles:”I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me (Acts 26:18).”‘

I believe Jesus still wants me to have a vision for reaching people for Him. If I am to meet Him soon, I ought to have some people follow.

There’s something else that Jesus discussed which is really pricking at me right now. Here’s what He said:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

   “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

   “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

   “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

   “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

   “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

  “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

In addition to meeting people’s need for Jesus and his salvation, I it appears He desires that I do practical things for the lonely, the poor and the sick.

I have to make a choice. I can either be an old goat until the end of my days, or a sheep with a spring in his step.

I haven’t fleshed out Jesus’s vision for me this year. However, I do know ministering physically and spiritually begins at home, and flows from there. I also know I have a group of men who will help me get some perspective.

Yes, I have had something of an epiphany. Jesus may have me burn out instead of  flicker out. At least He wants me to stay fired up.

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” ‘If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer (Matthew 21:22’).”

I’m a big fan of  the alternate history fiction genre. All you have to do is twist one little thing in the real story, and you have yourself an intriguing book. The story unfolds like the true history, it’s just that the reality is affected by the change.

In one book I am reading, one of the characters is an American woman stuck in Berlin at the beginning of the Second World War.  American is neutral, but the Nazi government won’t let her out.

Not only that, but every few blocks some policeman or Nazi stops her and asks for her papers. No particular reason; they are just enjoying their petty power.

The woman, Peggy Druce, tries to go to a German ally and actually gets an official to give her a visa to enter that country. However, at another stop in the Berlin bureaucracy she is denied an exit visa.  The American Embassy officer she complains to explains that Peggy is having this trouble only because these little dictators like to say “NO”.

The power game was not limited to the enemy side during World War II. The true history of that conflict notes that the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor may have been thwarted if some government and military personnel acted on what they knew.

In one telling episode from the movie “Tora, Tora, Tora” (based on the facts of the attack), a U.S. Navy ship sinks a midget Japanese submarine trying to enter Pearl Harbor. The commanding offer of the ship passes along the news, but he is ignored.

The officer in charge of passing on the information from the communication desk  insists on confirmation. He just doesn’t believe the officer of the ship, since this man is new at his command. Plus, you get the idea since it’s Sunday morning, he just doesn’t want to be bothered.

The soldier at the communication desk is flustered and tells the officer in charge that he believes the information ought to be passed up the chain of command.  The officer yells into the phone,”I want confirmation!”, and hangs up.

Later, both the communication officer and the officer who refused to pass along the news are looking out the window watching the conflagration of ships smoking and blowing up.  The communication officer looks at his colleague and saracastically says,”Is this confirmation enough for you?”

I think we Christians believe God doesn’t listen to us.  We view Him as the kind of  petty bureaucrat described in the above stories. 

In a form of cyclical cause and effect our  lack of trust in the Object of our requests actually brings about what we fear: God in fact doesn’t listen to us because of our unbelief.

Since we don’t listen to Him, He in fact doesn’t listen to us. He made this clear to the people of Israel in ancient times when He shouted:

 ” Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!
   For the LORD has spoken:
‘I reared children and brought them up,
   but they have rebelled against me. 
The ox knows its master,
   the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
   my people do not understand.’…(Isaiah 1:2,3).

The prophet likened these rebellious Israelites to the infamous people of Sodom and Gomorrah, who God fried with fire and sulphur because of their heinous acts, which were  totally out of character with what He desired:

 “Unless the LORD Almighty
   had left us some survivors,
we would have become like Sodom,
   we would have been like Gomorrah (Isaiah 1:9).”

Here’s what God said to these people:

“When you spread out your hands in prayer,
   I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
   I am not listening (Isaiah 1:15).”

When Jesus showed up hundreds of years later, the descendants of these Israelites hadn’t seemed to improved much in their belief. They denied His authority as well.

Jesus tried to show them who He was. He fulfilled prophecy by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. He  entered the temple of God and raised a ruckus, telling the people there that they had turned His house of prayer into a den of thieves (Matthew 21:4-13).

All these folks could do at Jesus’s demonstrations was to complain about the children who were praising Him, which in their minds was blasphemy.  He replied to this whinery by asking:

“Have you never read,’From the lips of children and infants
   you, Lord, have called forth your praise’ (Matthew 21:16b)?”

Even Jesus’s disciples didn’t understand the authority God the Son had to do things, even the simplest ones. When he blighted a fig tree in a flash, they were amazed (Matthew 21:18-20).”

The things recorded about the Israelites and their descendants are not alternate history. They really happened.

They should be a warning to us, but I don’t think we believers today are much better, at least I’n not. We pray and hope for answers, but in our heart of hearts we think we’re just whistling in the wind to a God who acts arbitrarily and on a whim. It makes you wonder why we are called “believers”.

We see God as a minor potentate instead who may or may not care to hear, just like our human autocrats do.  What a pity.

Unlike our tight-fisted, small-minded bosses, rulers, officials and functionaries, God is the loving, generous sovereign of the universe. What He says goes, and He’s just waiting to help us out.

Believing this truth is a prerequisite to having our prayer requests  listened to and answered.  If we understand God is good AND the majestic Magistrate of the cosmos, we will run to Him with joy with our issues, requests for assistance, and “stuff”.

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” Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:30,31).”

“”Tora! Tora! Tora!”.

That’s the phrase Japanese pilots used to signal their commanders that complete surprise had been achieved in attacking Pearl Harbor in 1941, beginning World War II.

“”Tora! Tora! Tora! is also the name of a 1970 movie depicting the events leading up to the attack. The film shows that the Americans were asleep at the switch.

All the signs of an impending attack were there. The United States military had broken Japanese code and were thus able to read messages sent to the Japanese embassy prior to and up until December 7. However, even the White House seemed unresponsive.

When a final message to the Japanese Embassy makes it clear that war is imminent, the primary U.S. military commanders were unavailable to receive the information.  They were carrying out their normal routine on a Sunday: playing golf and horseback riding.

Even in Hawaii, when a U.S. Navy ships sinks a Japanese midget submarine and the American ship reports it, an officer in charge at Pearl Harbor doesn’t respond. He just thinks the new commander of the ship is nervous.

Thus, even though all the signs were there and were communicated to the people who could do something about it, the main U.S. naval base was attacked by surprise.  The American fleet was crippled and the country’s ability to respond to the attack significantly hindered.

You have to be pretty ignorant, or even stupid, to dismiss information from credible source, even if the message is too extraordinary and improbabale to be believed. As the destruction at Pearl Harbor shows, the result of not believing the truth can be horrendous.

There was a fellow in the Bible who had trouble trusting from he heard from what should, to him, have been a trustworthy source. Thomas heard from his fellow disciples that Jesus had risen from the grave, and he just couldn’t believe it.

It wasn’t until he met the risen Jesus face to face that he said,”My Lord and My God!”.  Jesus told Thomas, whose name in history had added an adjective, i.e. “Doubting”:  “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:24-29).”

The apostle Paul was out there teaching the truth about Jesus night and day, In fact, one night he went on so long about the amazing news of Jesus that he put a young man to sleep.

Eutychus fell to the ground and died. Paul miraculously raised him, however, and his family was extremely happy (Acts 20:9-12).

One has to wonder if Eutychus truly beleived what he was hearing. If he had, he wouldn’t have started snoozing.

I think we believers in Jesus tend to be somewhat “ho-hum” about the reality of  what we profess. Sometimes you have to wonder if we truly do believe what we say we do.

If we did, it seems we’d be out there shouting it from the rooftops and suffering any consequence. We’d endure suffering joyously and look forward to the return of Jesus.

I know one thing about myself. Personally, I am tired.

I have been a Christian all my life. Yet, I don’t seem to have the “joy of Jesus” in my heart.

“Why should I keep it up? Why shouldn ‘t I just fall away?” are the questions I have been asking myself today.

It’s a lot of work to get out of bed on Sunday morning and go to church. I am a busy man, and like the sleep I get on Sundays if I stay between the sheets.

Meeting with a huge group of men at 6 am on Tuesdays is a killer, too. It wrecks my brain in the middle of the week.

Is losing sleep for Jesus worth it? I guess it probably is, if He is real and the gospel is true.

If He is really in my heart, and others are truly going to hell without him,  then sure, losing sleep is the least of my problems.

But from what I can see, Jesus ain’t around. The only sign of Him is in the people who call themselves Christians and generally speaking, go to my church.

I hardly know most of those people, though.  I don’t interact with them enough to know if they are deluded or not.

Jesus was kind enough to address my doubts today, however. He showed me that He left something behind which is a reliable source concerning the reality of Him.

You know it. I know it. It’ s the book, which in my case, is sitting unread in the trunk of my car. In your case it might be collecting dust somewhere.

This reliable source is called the Bible. If what it says is true, and I believe it is, then I have plenty of reason to stick with what I believe instead of giving into my weariness and leaving the faith.

Yes, sometimes the Scriptures seem like they are written in code. And true, I like spending my Sundays doing other things besides paying attention to its message.

However, I know in my heart the Bible is true and Jesus is real. Sleeping in like its 1941 is the wrong thing to do.

Instead, I ought to be out there sounding the alarm and rejoicing in the reality of Jesus Christ. He indeed is coming again, and in fact, it could be soon.

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“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible…I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (I Corinthians 9:19,23).”

As a teacher, I know I can’t please everybody. I can only do the best I can, and hope for the best.

Some terms are better than others in that regard. Sometimes I have classes that really seem to go for what I am teaching them. Other times, well..you know.

Regardless of the consequences, I need to remain consistent. This is not easy to do when people are opposing you.

It is easy to become discouraged in such circumstances. It is easy to want to throw in the towel.

The main question to me is if I am where God wants me to be. If I am, then I have to put up with the good times and the bad.

I can’t expect pats on the back in my job. I may get them, but they probably will be the exception rather than the rule.

People are more apt to criticize rather than to compliment. It’s just the way we humans are.

Job was one of the godliest men of all time, but when times got tough with him, even he was mocked and spat upon. To him, attitude was everything.

Here’s what ol’ Job said in his plight;

 “God has made me a byword to everyone,
   a man in whose face people spit. 
My eyes have grown dim with grief;
   my whole frame is but a shadow. 
The upright are appalled at this;
   the innocent are aroused against the ungodly. 
Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways,
   and those with clean hands will grow stronger (Job 17:6-9).”

Job stuck to his guns, and tried to go stronger in the storm. So did the apostle Paul.

He was out their preaching the truth, but he wasn’t always received with open arms. However, sometimes he was.

Some people listened to Paul and received his Savior, Jesus. Others made it so hot for him he had to get out of town (Acts 17:1-15).

Some men in Athens even called him a babbler. Others asked him to come again because they wanted to soak up his teaching (Acts 17:16-21).

Paul knew who he was. Yet, he subjected himself to the whims of others for the sake of the  gospel (I Corinthians 9:1,12).

Paul really deserved financial support. But he purposely declined it so that he could preach the gospel free of charge. He gave up his rights (I Corinthians 9:15-18).

As far as getting applause on the job, it would be nice, but in reality I shouldn’t expect thanks.  And unlike Paul, I am getting paid!

Any other attitude smells of pride. Jesus told this story on the subject of expecting thanks when carrying out our duties:

 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’?  Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?  So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty (Luke 17:7-10).’ ”

What’s the old saying about servanthood? It goes something like this: you can tell what kind of servant”s heart you have by the attitude you have when you are treated like one.

Thus, if I am indeed in my workplace by the will of God, and my employer and my “customers” treat me like a dog, then I had better start lapping. Yes, I know. I don’t have to be a doormat. But I should have the attitude of a slave even though I know I am not one.

I shouldn’t expect “thank yous” from the masses. Even Jesus only got a 10 percent “thank you” rate when he healed some lepers (Luke 17:11-18).

Even as I write, the frustration of wanting plaudits and not getting them is rising in my chest. I don’t think I should hold my breath if I expect them from my students.

On the other hand, serving Jesus with a thankful heart and ministering to those young men and women in the midst of opposition will warm His heart. I can at least expect a “well done” from my true Lord at the end of the day.

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“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.(Romans 12:17-18,21).”

This Saturday morning I feel as if I have been hit by a truck — a big one. My brain is fizzled, my body is fatigued and my emotions are as if they just went through one of those ringers in the old washing machines.

It’s been a rough week, especially at work. Things have not gone well.

A little background is necessary. I teach English to international students at a major university. It’s really important that the students feel comfortable in the classroom, otherwise they won’t learn the language.

Thus, the chemistry must be right among the students and teachers. However, with my classes this week it is as if my chemistry experiment blew up in the lab.

Yesterday I received the following Email from my boss: “I have had a lot of students complaining about your classes, so I’d like it if you could come and talk to me about the specific complaints.”

Now, I obviously wasn’t a happy camper, for the reasons stated above. In addition, as I had only been teaching for two days, I felt hurt and misunderstood. How could anyone judge my performance in two days?

 During the afternoon I stewed about this matter. I tried to see my boss, but couldn’t because she was busy.

I needed to vent. We were preparing to go into  long holiday weekend, and I wasn’t about to have this hanging in my brain for three days.

Since I couldn’t see my boss, I did what I do best: I began to write. I wrote her a long Email in reply.

I expressed my frustration. I mentioned how unfair this was. I discussed my thoughts on particular students.

Finally, in the quiet of the late afternoon my boss came walking into the computer lab. I told her I was writing her an Email.

She invited me to talk. She went to get a cup of coffee and we sat down in her office.

In essence, my boss told me that my students were uncomfortable in my class. Now, this wasn’t good news for me, not only personally, but also because I knew that the term would be a disaster if the dynamics in the classroom weren’r right.

I knew instinctively what the problem was, and I said (to paraphrase) to my boss,”Let me guess: I intimidate them”. “Yes”, was her reply.

I had heard this before. As both of us (i.e., my boss and I) know, I am a curmudgeon. I joked with my boss. I told her,”I am an acquired taste.”

All joking aside, I still was a bit frustrated with this. What was I supposed to do? If the main problem was “me”, and not my methodology or process, or too much homework or something, I thought I had better start updating my resume.

My first inclination, which I guess is normal, was to blame my students. I thought how immature they were. But then, I realized that it is quite difficult to approach someone you don’t even know and tell them,”You make me uncomfortable” or “you intimidate me”.

I also interpreted things through my personal grid. In my view, men are wimpy today. Since a couple of the complainers were guys, I mused that my estimation of  today’s young male had been confirmed.

Further discussion with my boss helped to clear my head on this entire matter. My previous Email (which never got sent, by the way- a smart move. I told my boss that I wish I had a nickel for every vent Email I had put in drafts of trash) also unmuddled my brain.

Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, was correct when he wrote that “thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and across the fingertips.” I now know that I have to at least make an effort to be what my boss termed “more warm and fuzzy”.

My vent Email w0uld have been completely off target. I would have come across as a fool. Even though Eliphaz’s opinion was wrongly placed when he said, “Would a wise person answer with empty notions or fill their belly with the hot east wind?” (Job 15:2)  since he applied it to the innocent Job, he  could have said it to me with impunity.

Sometimes we are falsely accused. Even Jesus was. Yet, He didn’t reply to his critics because He knew the truth about Himself (Mark 15:1-5).

The mature person is comfortable in his own skin. I know I look like a curmudgeon, and sometimes act the part. But I also know that I have many good relationships with students.

Every new term I must  prove myself all over again. My students are in many cases young and immature and need to be trained. It’s my job to do it.

The early church leaders knew this about their charges as well. When some of them had a disagreement on how to best approach mingling the old Jewish religion with the new faith in Christ, the main factor considered was the welfare of the new believers.

These leaders didn’t want to burden them, so they wrote them a letter telling then not to be troubled and lightening their load. The result is documented in the book of Acts: ” The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message (Acts 15:31).”

Sure, maybe my students need to grow up some. But even at my age, so do I.

As their leader I should set an example by helping them to become comfortable in my presence, and showing them warm affection. It’s my goal for them to walk out of my classroom from now with the warm fuzzies.

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