Amazing definition for Courage that definitely puts it in a new light. Then again, it really is just applying Philipians 4:13 to the word Courage. And opponents are not just physical enemies, they’re anything that keeps us from doing our job the way we should: distractions, discouragement, laziness, busyness with other things that are less important. With God, all things are possible, we just have to be willing vessels.
Dear God, give me the courage today to see everything in my life as an opportunity to grow in Christ. Let me be confident that You will make sure Your work is done, and I just have to be a willing vessel. Give me the patience to wait and see you work in my life, and the courage to keep working while I’m waiting. Amen.
In my quest to both be green and save a little money, I’ve got our family saving plastic, metal, glass, and paper for recycling, and I usually take it to a recycling center near our house twice a month or so. We get about enough to buy a quart of milk per week from it, so not bad overall. That is, usually.
Of course, everything isn’t meant to be simple. This morning, I realized I’d forgotten to take the recycling for nearly a month, and empty bottles were threatening to take over the garage. That would never do, so it was time for action. I enlisted my younger brother Elijah to help me, and we set off to the recycling center with a station wagon full of trash, recycling, and more. But no more than I got to the recycling center than a worker informed me that my tire must have a hole. The tire he mentioned has had occasional problems with leaking air, so I didn’t think much at first, but quickly figured out there was more of a problem than usual when I looked at the tire and heard air hissing out of the tire. Recycling forgotten for the moment, we quickly drove over to a tire shop to get it fixed before it was totally flat.
Now, when you’re driving a 22 year old vehicle, you should always expect odd things to happen. But you never expect to get a 7 inch piece of metal stuck in your tire. I mean, how often do you drive over things and never think about them getting stuck in your tire? I’ve surely driven over millions of things that would be more likely to get embedded in a tire. The mechanic was absolutely amazed as he pulled it out … he said he’d never seen anything that sized in a standard tire before. And then, as he patched the tire, he discovered yet another hole, this one caused by a small 2 inch long screw. It’s amazing I had any air left in the tire.
God must have a sense of humor; He didn’t just let my tire go flat, He let me have an absolutely crazy tire problem so I could get a laugh out of it. So I spent around $10 getting the tire fixed, got about $8 for the recycling, and came back $2 and 2 hours poorer. But, I’d gotten to invite a receptionist at the tire shop to church, and she was genuinely interested in coming to English class. Plus, I had an incredible story to tell, and would always remember that problems just happen, and sometimes the best thing we can do is to just go along with them, see the best, and thank God for protecting us when we don’t even know He is. That's not such a bad deal, right?
From tomorrow, the Sun Chronicle, a Massachusetts paper, will charge would-be commenters a nominal one-off fee of 99 cents. But it has to be paid by credit card, which means providing a real name and address.
And the name on the credit card will be the name that will appear on comments. So it’s goodbye to anonymity.
This is an excellent idea, and I bet it will work: there will still be plenty of comments (not as many, but enough), and they’ll be more civil, more intelligent, and better written.
What a great idea. I’ve been complaining lately at how frustrating most online comments are, and that most people seem to comment just to be mean. This is a great way for the paper’s real supporters and fans to make their honest opinion be known while supporting the paper. Hard to say if it will be a viable system long-term, but it’s always nice to see people trying new, unique things!
“We just did a Skype video call with out grandparents in the States for the first time … the quality was far from perfect, but it’s amazing how close 10,000 miles suddenly felt. Technology is truly marvelous :)”—
Often we express discontentment at things in our lives. Nothing changes, we say. We want larger salaries, better things, more attendance in Church, better grades, results, rewards, recognition. We want our new desires to be met, our new goals to be obtained, our highest dreams to be achieved. We want it, want it now, and feel fretful, fearful, and frustrated when it doesn’t happen. Nothing ever happens; perhaps it even seems that everything we do fails.
And yet, at the same time, we say that we don’t want anything to change. We fear what the future might bring, and so grasp on to the present. We want the same friends, same responsibilities, same familiar situations and circumstances. Why do things have to change?
So on the one hand we’re sighing for change, big change, life-changing change, and then yet on the other hand, we fight change tooth and nail. Personal change, that is. We want everything *we* want fulfilled, but then want to keep doing the same old stuff, being the same old guy.
But therein lies the problem. We, we, we, I, I, I. I want this, but I only want to do this for it. Surely I’m already doing my best; I mean, you can only work so many jobs, wear so many hats. We’re wearing ourselves out thinking of how things could be, what we want them to be, that we are spinning our wheels and accomplishing little to nothing. Busy, but what’s busy worth if you’re busy accomplishing nothing lasting?
Perhaps we need to pray with the psalmist: Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Perhaps that psalm isn’t speaking of goals and ambitions and struggles, but it still applies. Because doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. We get so busy doing our own thing, we forget God, and somehow think we can keep going, and going, and going, on our own. So we keep trying, on our own strength, and leave God out. Hey, we’re doing stuff for God; we’re teaching, preaching, praying … but in our own strength.
We can’t. David couldn’t, Paul couldn’t and you and I can’t either.
It’s high time we lay all those ambitions and desires down at His feet, and let Him bring the growth, change, and fulfillment into our lives that we so desperately need. Our churches can’t live without it, our families can’t, our relationships can’t, our witness can’t, and we can’t. I can’t.
Languages must be one of the hardest things in the world to learn, let alone master. As hard as it is to admit, I must still give Thai people the laugh of their lives over some of the ways I butcher their language. As part of our ministry here in Thailand, my Dad and I teach English and Bible in the local prison on Wednesday mornings. The class is usually fun, as the prisoners enjoy the class and the break from the sameness of the prison, but this week’s class was unusually comical.
Our English lesson was on asking questions about what people were doing. ”What’s he doing? He’s washing his clothes.” Boring, but hey, you’ve got to start somewhere. So we’re going over sentences like this from the book, helping people with their pronunciations, and making sure they’re understanding what they’re studying.
One mistake we constantly noticed was that whenever they said “What’s he doing?”, it sounded like “What’s she doing?”. They weren’t making the words distinct enough, so Dad tried to help them practice saying it clearer. This usually backfires though, and whenever you try to get them to say it slower, it comes out too much slower. “What’s. He. Doing.”
This time, somehow, they managed to blur the words, making them even less distinct than before. Suddenly the prison classroom was transformed into a group of hooping Indians. ”Watzee, Watzee … what was that again?” Our attempts to get them to pronounce the words clearer backfired, and somehow they were saying it worse than ever. The simple question of “What’s he doing?” was such a challenge for these guys to say … either they said “What she” or “Wat-zee” or who-knows-what. It was hysterical! Try as they might, they simply could not get the words “What’s He” out correctly.
All we could do was laugh together … guards, prisoners/students, and us teachers. Something changed in the atmosphere, too. We were suddenly not a group of people separated by social standing, nationality, or position; we were a group of guys struggling together to study a language. It made the rest of the class go that much easier.
But you know what? This incident, and other like it, reminds me of something. It reminds me to stay humble, keep studying, and quit getting annoyed when people can’t understand me in Thai. Because I’m still not perfect, and I’m never going to be. I’m no different than my students; they might butcher English, but I for sure butcher Thai. I’m still a native English speaking American, and as much as I try, I’m not going to remove my American accent. And if they laugh at me, hey, I’m as likely to laugh about a mistake in their English, so if we can laugh together, it just makes life easier and helps you turn what could have been a frustration into a blessing.
The sooner all of us can learn to laugh at ourselves, realize we sound or act like a fool in some way, the better it will be. None of us will ever be perfect at everything, so why should we feel embarassed when we do or say something incorrectly sometimes?
The kids song says it best:
He’s still working on me
To make me what I ought to be
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars
Sun and the Earth, and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
He’s still working on me
One of my greatest challenges on the mission field is, well, when you think about it, pride. I want to be perfect at Thai, perfect at teaching, a perfect example … or at least I want others to let me think that I am. But God isn’t done working on me (or you!) yet, so we shouldn’t be so quick to think that we’re perfect. Because we aren’t. And we never will be!
There’s nothing quite as inspiring as listening to the church kids sing “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” with all their might, while the deaf are “singing” it in sign language. It just makes it a bit more worth it. Oh that more would come to sing those words … and mean them!
“If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises, they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened, and in complaining the rest of his life. A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He walks abreast with his days, and feels no shame in not “studying a profession,” for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances.”—~ Ralph Waldo Emerson via Linchpin
Great article on software development, but what struck me as I read it was how applicable it is to everything we do. So often, the lessons I teach at church are actually stuff that stuck out to me in devotions or even in my Bible college classes. If it’s something you actually need yourself, then I think you can put more passion into what you’re teaching, or building, or doing.