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Parent-Teacher Conferences and the Goodness of God

When I woke up this morning, I grumbled in my heart: it was conference day, and I knew that meant I wouldn’t be leaving work until 7pm. Do you ever have meetings at work that require you to stay late?

Well, during mine tonight, God gave me some grace to see a lot of blessings, despite having to be at work and away from my family for longer than I would have chosen. Mostly, these blessings centered around the opportunity conferences give me to get to know people better.

Meeting my students’ parents is always a privilege. It is fun to see the physical resemblances, and it is a joy to complement parents on the positive attributes I notice in their children. Also, it’s nice to get to talk to fellow staff members during the down time.

Anyways, I guess what I’m trying to say is, God is good! Even in those mandatory meetings that require us to work later hours sometimes, He is sovereign, and, as a Father who is constantly parenting us, there are opportunities for thanksgiving and growth in every situation.

May we grow in joy at our jobs, and may that joy make us better at what we do.

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Movie Notes – Star Wars, Episode I, The Phantom Menace

Crystal and I started watching the Star Wars movies last night with Episode I. She’s never watched them before and was pretty leery about making a start at it, but she’s hooked already. We decided before we watched them that we’d look for gospel parallels, just for fun. I know, we’re dorks, but what do you expect from Star Wars fans?

Here’s what we found:

Parallels

  • “Fear gives way to anger, anger to hate, hate to suffering.” Yoda says this regarding Anakin. We’re not sure if it’s God’s timeless truth, but undoubtedly these things are all connected in the mess of our sinful hearts. Relying on a sinful “chosen one” spelled suffering for the entire universe in Star Wars.
  • Anakin is the “chosen one” (or is he?) who will bring balance to the force. Jesus came and brought His followers back to Himself by living a sinless life and taking our sins upon Himself on the cross. Anakin will eventually die for the galaxy by sacrificing his busted up body as Darth Vader in Episode VI.
  • Anakin is born to no father. “The Force” spawns him, allegedly. Perhaps God the Father is the force in these movies — the insurmountable problem with this, of course, is that the Force has a dark side, and God is infinitely far from darkness.
  • There is always hope for sinners, even for Anakin, who is given much and eventually uses what he’s given for evil.
  • We leave a legacy of ourselves in those we disciple, just as Qui Gon Jin leaves a legacy in Obi Wan Kenobi. At the start of the film, Obi Wan seems to be more of a straight-and-narrow type, but by the end, after Qui Gon is dead, Obi Wan seems to be ready to step into his defiant shoes.
Non-parallels
  • The Jedi are an elite group, and they  gain entry into the group by born qualities and demonstrated ability. Christians are part of an incredibly amazing group (God’s children), but they are invited into an eternal family based not on their performance or abilities, but rather on Christ’s.
  • Anakin, the chosen one, is sinful. And his son, Luke Skywalker, who may be the real chosen one, is also sinful. Jesus isn’t. He’s perfect.

Sinful motivation for teaching well: reputation

Driving in my car the other night, God revealed something to me in the form of a question: If I trust God for the future of my students, why do I toil anxiously? The answer is reputation. I hear the conversations that go on about others in the faculty room, and I want to protect myself in the faculty room when I’m not in there. Thus, I try to limit office referrals, engage students, propel achievement and learning, and all of these are good things, but the motivation behind them is sinful.

Trying to protect my reputation in the faculty room is placing my reputation as god in my life. Reputation is an evil, demonic god that takes. Instead of giving me complete protection in Christ as God my Father does, reputation requires me to constantly work and toil and worry.

So, while it is good in many ways to seek to limit office referrals, engage students, and propel achievement and learning, these things are for naught when sought after out of fear and sin and reputation worship. These good things can completely destroy me (and any teacher) when they take the place of the One true and Almighty God, Who is a beneficent, all-loving, better-than-life Father that accepts us meandering children on the basis of His perfect Son.

Brief sermon note – Mark Driscoll, “The Rebel’s Guide to Joy in Poverty,” Phillippians 4

Mark Driscoll, Fall 2007

The Rebel’s Guide to Joy series (taught from the book of Philippians)

Sermon: “The Rebel’s Guide to Joy in Poverty”

Teaching is based on Philippians 4

This is a sermon that edified me much, causing me to reflect on the absolutely giving nature of God. Unlike the gods of any other religion, ours is a God that gives.

Pastor Mark ended this excellent sermon with an illustration: When Mark was 3 or 4 years old, he asked his dad if he could go to work with him. Mark’s dad was a construction worker, but, being gracious, he said yes. That morning, Mark’s dad put on his jeans, t-shirt, and hard hat, and Mark did the same. Mark’s dad filled his thermos with coffee, Mark filled his thermos with juice. Mark’s dad filled his lunch box, and Mark filled his. Mark was a man, going to do man work. He was a little man, but he was a man. When they got to the job site, Mark’s dad showed Mark the plan for the day, what Mark would be responsible for, why it was important, etc. After he had given him instructions, Mark got his little tool box and went to work, thinking, “Boy, it’s a good thing I’m here.”

Looking back, Mark sees that what his dad gave him to do was little more than a pile of scrap wood and some nails, but at the time Mark thought it was crucial work. Mark’s dad didn’t take him to work because he needed him to do help–in fact, Mark’s dad likely got less done that day than he could have had he left Mark at home. Mark’s dad took him to work because he loved him and wanted to include him.

God is our Father, and He can fix our spheres of life way quicker without us–He could do it with a snap of his finger.

God is your Dad. Your Dad doesn’t need you, He wants you. Your Dad’s not taking advantage of you, He’s including you. Your Dad could get more done if He did the work without you, but He loves you.

What great motivation to go about the work of God in pursuit of humility and faithfulness to this exceedingly perfect Father, our God. Thank you, Father.

Tim Keller sermon notes / Series: Practical Grace / Sermon: Forgiving Grace

Please note that these sermon notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio of the sermon may be found at the Redeemer Sermon Store.

I dug up these sermon notes this morning, wanting to post them today. I picked them seemingly at random. But as I read them, what joy I had. I just spent a half hour meditating on Romans 15:7, which is basically the gospel (I’m unacceptable, yet I was accepted, so I can accept people). My thoughts went to a situation today where a student whose been defiant and disrespectful to me for a long time made pretty clear evidence against herself as a vulgar graffiti artist. My inclination was to get out a sample of her writing, compare it to the graffiti, and take the case to our assistant principal tomorrow.

But this is a good word from Tim Keller: If you try to get justice before forgiving someone, you’re not going for justice, you’re going for vengeance. And, you’ll never get justice.

God bless you, and may He use these notes to sanctify You as a Father instructs His children.

Tim Keller / Series: Practical Grace / Sermon: Forgiving Grace

Scripture: 2 Cor 4:7-18 “jars of clay”, 12:7-10

 

Suffering = not a choice

Long-suffering = an active choice

 

Forgiving spirit: the ability to bear injuries and mistreatment from other people without it taking your poise or getting you down.

 

Hebrews 12:15 Take care lest any harbor a root of bitterness…

–Anger is called a root in this metaphor, the deepest part of the tree.

1. We can admit to others and ourselves the sin of anxiety, worry, lust, depression, but we cannot admit anger. We hide it from ourselves, we always minimize it. We always minimize just how mad we continue to be. The anger passes into you and it twists you, making you cynical and hard and starting a low- grade spiritual fever that goes on and on and on and on.

 

2. Anger works in a subterranean way in your life. It’s down there and you don’t know it, it’s affecting you and don’t know it.

 

Long-suffering—to not have how you’ve been wronged affect you. This is the big task!

–If you don’t have this, you’ll be in prison, tortured, not free

 

What is it?

3 things you’ve got to do when the little roots of anger try to come in:

  1. Cancel the debt, refuse revenge

    • You do not make the other person pay the debt of emotional pain, but you pay it down yourself. When someone wrongs you it creates an emotional debt of pain, it’s a debt that you feel.

    • The other person has to pay: insult them, gossip about them, ruin their reputation with other people, slander them, all while saying “revenge is beneath me”

    • You want to hurt them because it makes you feel better. It’s paying down the debt. You want to see them pay. Slowly you feel less and less that the person owes you.

    • BUT it passes into you. It has melted you into its likeness. When we make the other person pay, we are becoming like the evil it did to us.

    • Paying it down yourself: Every time you want to rehash the past with a person, but you don’t, it hurts. Every time you want to rub their nose in it but you don’t, it hurts. Every time you see them prospering and you refuse to stick little pins in them in your imagination, it hurts.

    • Why does it hurt? Because it’s costly not to take the revenge. (Wow.)

    • But dealing with that hurt and refusing to take revenge means you still possess your soul. You’ve beaten your wrongdoer—you’ve beaten them with love.

  2. Be moved with compassion for someone else’s misery.

    • Automatically when someone wrongs you your heart is going to start enumerating the differences between you and that person.

    • If you want to possess your soul, you’ve got to stress the commonality between you and the person.

    • Whenever someone wrongs you, you caricature them in your heart, making huge their worst feature. Deep in every human soul is a deep desire to justify yourself. We’re afraid that we’re not okay, that we’re not desirable. That fear is behind workaholism, racism. It’s all self-justification, rooted in fear. It’s behind how you caricature the person who wrongs you. You need to feel noble, you need to feel superior, you need to feel better.

    • In order to transform that to grace, you’ve got to focus on the commonality. I am fallible, so is this person. I am weak, I make dumb mistakes, so does this person. (This is amazing.)

3. Let him go.

 

I don’t want to forgive, I want justice. If you want to confront them before forgiving them, you’re going for justice. You’re going to hurt them. AND you’ll never get justice.

 

Vengeance is selfish, you’re not concerned with truth, it’s all about you.

Resignation is selfish, you’re letting a person go on sinning.

Forgiving spirit: Doesn’t like conflict, doesn’t avoid it. Doesn’t do vengeance, doesn’t do resignation.

 

How in the world are we ever going to do this?

Behold the king who became a servant. Jesus Christ: It’s paid. He knew that his servants would ruin him—that’s why he came.

After all she’s done for me, I’m almost happy about this tiny opportunity to show her how much she means to me.

Jesus didn’t make you pay a bit.

You’ll never be able to pay the debts people have to you unless you see the infinite debt. After all he’s done for me, I’m almost glad to have the opportunity to show him what he means to me by paying this debt.

 

Col 3:12 Therefore as God’s chosen people set apart and dearly loved clothed yourselves with patience.

Not be patient in order to be loved, but because your utterly loved you can be patient. — (This is a facet of the gospel-changed heart.)