Back To School: 4 Reminders to Put in Your Backpack

Summer is over. School has started.

Alright, that may have been a pretty depressing start for most of you. But this post will get better I promise, so please read on.

The beginning of the school year can be a mixed bag of emotions. Excitement, fear, anticipation, frustration, hope, despair, happiness, sadness, nervousness, peace and stress just to name a few.

Because there are so many mixed feelings surrounding the “back to school” season I think it is important for us to remind ourselves of a few important truths. While these reminders might be geared towards students, teachers, and parents at the start of school, I do think that they can apply to anyone during any time of year.

1-This is a time for opportunity.

Forget about what happened last year, the good and the bad. Today is a fresh start to a new year. What will you choose to do with these new opportunities that have fallen into your lap?

This new season opens the door to the opportunity to make new friends, learn more, experience new things, and trust in God to carry you through. Don’t squander these new opportunities.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Trust in God as you face these new opportunities and make the most of them.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

2-It is going to be OK.

You don’t know how this year will turn out, and that can be scary. But God does know, and we should be encouraged by that. No matter what this school year may throw at us we can be confident that, if we trust in Him, God will carry us through.

We need to remember and practice Philippians 4:6, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

And God’s words to Joshua in the Old Testament can be just as encouraging for us today. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

If you have a bad day just remember – tomorrow is always a new day. Don’t be anxious, it is going to be OK.

3-You are going to teach.

Your actions and reactions will teach others about who you really are. We need to remember that our words, deeds, and even our thoughts are a reflection of where our hearts are at. As we live our daily lives we need to make sure that we are both talking the talk and walking the walk.

Philippians 2:14 tells us to, “do all things without grumbling or complaining.” Why? Because, if we are children of God, then we are called to something so much better.

People are going to watch us. They will learn about us, and before long they will know who we are and what we represent. So, what will we teach them?

“Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

4-You are going to learn.

You can be sure that someone is lying if they answer the question, “what did you learn today?” with an unenthusiastic, “nothing.” We learn something new every day. And there is no age limit on learning either. The Proverbs make it very clear that fools despise wisdom, knowledge, and learning. Those that are wise, however, love to learn and are willing to be corrected.

Proverbs 3:7 reminds us to, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”

The school year is an excellent time to learn, not only that “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell,” but also life lessons that impact our daily lives. We can learn how to better interact with and love others, who we are, and how God sees us. Ultimately, though our hope and prayer should be that we learn how to love God and love others.

“Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14)

Class dismissed.

120 Over 80

Don’t ya just hate going to the doctor’s office?

I mean, sure, it’s necessary and all…but come on. No matter how good I feel about myself going in I always feel like an unhealthy blob when I leave.

I feel like I should take a moment here at the beginning to be sure to thank all of the incredible men and women who dedicate years of their lives to medical training. I am incredibly thankful for all that they do in order to help ensure the health and safety of others.

With that being said, I still don’t like Dr.’s appointments.

I have tried to nail down my reasoning for being apprehensive. It is the long wait? The florescent-headache inducing lights? The uncomfy bed-table thingy covered in the paper stuff that they make you sit on? The slightly judgmental look when you answer the “how many cups of coffee do you drink a day” question?

No. It’s not that stuff. The reason I don’t like going to the doctor is that every time I go I am reminded that I should be doing better, but I am not.

I am not as physically fit as I should be and that is no one’s fault but my own.

My doctor can tell me to cut back on the donuts, exercise more, and drink less coffee. But ultimately it is up to me, and only me, to make those decisions that will actually impact my health.

My health is my responsibility.

And guess what? The same goes for spiritual health.

Pastors, teachers, and mentors all are of tremendous value in pointing us the right way and helping us to grow in our relationships with God. It is so important that you have a person, who is more spiritually mature than you, to help guide and direct you. We need godly examples in our lives to help motivate, correct, rebuke, and instruct us.

But as the saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.”

Pastors can show you the good news of the Gospel, preach to you the truths of God’s Word, and exemplify Jesus’ love…but eventually, you must make your own choice.

You, not your mom, dad, spouse, pastor, teacher, friend. No, you choose whether or not you will live out a spiritually healthy life or not.

You choose what unhealthy things you will cut out of your life or not.

You choose whether you will exercise your faith or not. Whether you will stretch your discipleship and evangelism muscles or just allow them to atrophy.

But what will you choose to be?

Will you be spiritually obese? -Going to church on Sundays and reading your Bible every day, but yet never sharing with others what you have learned? Maybe you know a lot about Jesus and the faith, but you never actually do anything with that information.

Will you be spiritually malnourished? -Never cracking the Bible open for yourself? Maybe you try to do a lot for others, but you never actually allow your own soul to be nourished by the truth.

Or will you be spiritually fit? -Consuming truth both on Sundays as well as every other day and actually allowing that truth to transform you. Being both a hearer of the Word and a doer of the Word.

It’s time that we get serious about our own spiritual health.

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7

The Wait of it All

“There is one thing that we can be sure of, even as we wait, God has not and will not forget about us.”

“We have done everything we can…all we can do now is wait.”

This is what I usually say to well-meaning people who, with a smile on their face, ask me about our adoption process. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the questions at all. In fact, the other night I asked my wife if she ever got frustrated or saddened by questions that reminded her that we don’t have a baby yet. She said no. We both can see the love and genuine concern that people have for us that leads them to ask these sorts of questions. We don’t mind thinking about it. We don’t mind talking about it.

But what we do mind is the waiting.

It’s hard to explain the feeling – a sort of excitement and expectation mixed with frustration, joy, hope, and a bit of disappointment.

But I think what bums us out the most about waiting is that we can’t control it. We can’t do anything to make it go faster. We just have to wait.

If you know my wife and I, then you know that we and doers. We do things. We get things done. Go-getters are often a step behind us because we have already gone and gotten.

And that’s why this period of waiting is so important for us. It’s why it is so good for us. God will/is/has been teaching us lessons about the waiting, and through the waiting, whether we like it or not.

I did a quick search and found the word “wait” in one form or another in the Bible upwards of 135 times. The most common words from Hebrew that get translated into the English “wait” would be: קוה and יחל. Now, I know those squiggly lines may not mean much to you so let me just tell you what they mean. קוה means- to await, hope; to wait for. יחל means-to wait; to cause to hope. You don’t need to know Biblical Hebrew to see the common theme of hope.

In the New Testament the three most commonly translated words for “wait” are: προσδοκάω, ἀπεκδέχομαι, προσδέχομαι. Their definitions are in the same order- wait for; look for; expect – await eagerly – and wait for; look forward to. Here also is a common theme of eager expectation. I would even say that the Greek words help to “sum up” and complement the Hebrew.

Waiting, more specifically, waiting on God, has to do with hope which is an eager expectation of what will most assuredly come.

So why does the Bible talk about waiting so much? Well, there are a few reasons, but I will just highlight two in this short time.

First, the Bible talks about waiting a lot because it is a natural part of life on earth and we ought to know how we should respond in a God-honoring way.

Psalm 37:7-9  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. (Emphases added.)

While we wait we still need to continue to live our lives, and the quality of how we live our lives needs to be worthy of the Gospel by which we have been saved.

Second, waiting teaches us about God and His genuine care, steadfast love, and kindness towards us.

Romans 8:15  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Psalm 33 20-22  Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

God loves us with a love that is far beyond our own comprehension. But there is one thing that we can be sure of, even as we wait, God has not and will not forget about us. He will not forsake his own adopted children. If you are like us, in the midst of a wait, be encouraged. He is our shield. He is our help.

He is greater than the wait, and He is using this time to teach us and to draw us closer to Him and to one another. It kinda hurts, but I’m really thankful for it.

Proverbs 3:5-6