The Poor In Spirit — LORD’s Day Thoughts

I love what J.C. Ryle writes about the first instruction Jesus gives us in the Sermon on the Mount when our LORD declared to us: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Ryle writes:

“The Lord Jesus calls those blessed, who are poor in spirit. He means the humble, and lowly-minded, and self-abased. He means those who are deeply convinced of their own sinfulness in God’s sight. These are they who are not ‘wise in their own eyes and holy in their own sight.’ They are not ‘rich and increased with goods.’ They do not fancy they need nothing. They regard themselves as ‘wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.’ Blessed are such! Humility is the very first letter in the alphabet of Christianity. We must begin low, if we would build high.”

I love the way Ryle puts that: “Humility is the first letter in the alphabet of Christianity.” Who refuses to see this when we come to know the LORD by being born again? We see it because we realize how it took God moving in us before we would believe. It took God’s Spirit giving us a heart of belief and removing our heart of stone. The true believer knows that he is a believer purely by God’s grace. God may have used the believer’s intellect in the process, but his belief is not a result of that intellect, or human reason. In fact, while faith is not void of intellect and reason, the true believer knows that more often than not, our intellect and reason stood in the way of our belief. It took a miracle in our lives to bring us to faith.

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The Bad Taste of Katrina

I know there will be barrels of electrons spilled today as we remember the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. There will be stories of the heroism that took place, the frustration that many faced, and the stories of the Next Big One will be there as well. Nothing like an opportunity to extrapolate the “what if” question into more fear mongering and hand ringing. I am OK with all those types of reports.

I think what bothers me most in my memories of Katrina was the way the tragedy was politicized. You may remember some of this. The first wave of politicized rhetoric came from the left as those who were bemoaning the government’s lack of response to the disaster and placing the blame for it on President Bush. There were even charges that he actually caused the hurricane to form and hit the gulf coast. I think most people discounted such charges. After all, Bush was just the president of the United States. The era of deifying our presidents had not yet arrived.

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From the Archives

Going through some photos and found this one, which was taken in December 24, 2011. Roswell received one of their largest snowfalls in decades and the boys made the best of it. It is also a reminder that December is coming. It will not always be August.

Christmas Eve 2011

Half a League, Half a League

Half a league onward, all in the valley of death rode the six hundred!

I have to admit, I am duly excited about the prospects of teaching my sixth graders about Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade. In the midst of the all the state requirements and the TEKS number, and all manner of muddled instructions from the state powers that be, I found something to get excited about since the poem is one of my favorites. That’s not saying much, since I’m not much of a poetry buff. I would say my list of favorite poems would be about two, unless you count the Psalms, then the number of favorite poems would be about 152.

But when it comes to Tennyson’s tribute to those men who bravely charged forward on that day in the 1850s… because they were told to, you have to admire the respect, courage and acceptance. I’m not sure if Tennyson was or was not a Christian. But the 600 men, were responding obediently to their superiors even to the point of death. In that, there is something noble and grand, which Tennyson points out in the last stanza of his poem, memorializing their charge into the Cossacks. The men, in one sense, emulated Christ who did the very same thing on a the cross 2,000 years ago. He went and laid down His life because someone told Him to. I’m not trying to spiritualize the poem, just noting the similarities.

LightBrigadeThe point is that I do look forward to sharing it with my students and I hope to encourage a few of them to memorize it (which in the state of Texas is a teaching sin, so I’ve been told). I’m not requiring them to do so, but will give extra credit to those who do memorize it on their first test. I checked with my department head and was told that this is perfectly acceptable.

I also plan on showing the following video to help them see the influence the poem still has today. This is from The Blind Side.

One of the reasons I included the videos here is because I cannot show videos directly from Youtube. But I can from my blog, so I’m actually doing school work while I write this… on my own time… not at school… so I’m not violating any rules. (Just want to be clear).

Here is the full poem:

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
II
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
   Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

 

III
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
   Rode the six hundred.

 

IV
Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
   All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
   Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
   Not the six hundred.

 

V
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
   Left of six hundred.

 

VI
When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
   All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
   Noble six hundred!
Hope you enjoyed that.

Hate Comes Naturally, Love Is Learned

I know, my title is the opposite of the meme bouncing around the internet. As you can see, it says just the opposite and appeals to our emotions by showing two boys of different tribes hugging each other. Here, look at the photo.

HateNaturally

It truly is a sweet photo. But the message it bears is false when compared to what the Bible tells us about human nature. In fact, the message of the meme is rooted in the belief that we are born “innocent” and then somehow have to learn to be evil. This view is known as semi-Pelagianism, meaning that we are born as empty slates and that we end up being whatever it is that we learn. Full-fledge Pelagianism is the belief that original sin does not taint us and that we are born good, without a sin nature.

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Streams of Living Waters

The Scripture often speaks of “living waters” and this is because the original hearers understood the need for “living waters.” Living waters were those which provide life for us. We need living waters to survive, both physically and spiritually. It is the spiritual need that is the greater need. This is why Jesus said “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living waters.”

Those words are truly comforting because we find the need we have provided for us in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Only through Christ do we find true life. By this, I mean life that is eternal in nature. Everyone has “life” on some level. Only those in Christ have eternal life and are made new creations. He is the only avenue to find the living waters that our souls hunger for. This is why we go to Him and believe in Him, for our greatest need cannot be met by anything in the world. There is no place to go in order to find the living waters we need in which to drink. Only Christ can satisfy that need, the greatest need. We need to go to Him alone, and drink deeply.

Gentle streams

Back to School

Yes, but as a teacher, not a student. Today I start back by reporting for “new teacher training.” The rest of the staff starts next week. I am excited about the new school year, and I know that in about a week, that excitement will fade, followed by disillusionment for several months, then acceptance, then… summer vacation. All a part of the process and hopefully, with lots of prayer and work, the students will learn to read gooder and spell write! Just kidding, couldn’t resist going for the punch line.

The first picture is me looking into my classroom, A107, and the other is of the hallway. I did look to see if they had a room number A 113, but the rooms only go up to A 112. This is a Pixar reference.

The building is the oldest in the district, and it doesn’t take long to figure out that for the most part, if you teach at the intermediate level (grads 6-8), you will probably be in the oldest building in the district. Districts like advertising new elementary and high schools… but seems to forget out middle school. Just an observation, not a complaint. It’s a neat building.

Drane 001

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Kitchen Graffiti

Here are some of the love notes that adorned our kitchen at our home in Bristol, TN. My lovely wife had me take these shots for posterity sake, since we moved from there in early August.

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The Burning Cross

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.  Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Burning Cross

Climbing The Dam

I have been climbing the dam quite a bit lately. Not the literal dam. But the metaphorical dam… and there have been quite a few of them. The first was finishing up my course work so I could get a job teaching school in Texas. I’m not finished yet. I have 7 days to finish the final section, then I can teach for a living. So, I’m not at the top, like Joey in the picture below.

The other dam is finding a job. That too was accomplished, and given the completion of the above course work, I begin work on the 13th.

But then there is the dam called “the move.” That is taking place right now as well. We are moving from our home in Tennessee back to Texas and that is quite an undertaking.

There are other things as well that I will not mention on this page that take up my time, emotions, and energy. Things that would sadden you if I shared them with you. Those are the most draining for me because they are issues that I can do very little about, but affect me greatly.

This is why my writing has fallen off here of late. When I write a serious blog, it is like climbing a dam. Some of you may think I just pop them out without any thought. Not true. I work very hard on them an make sure they say what I want to say. Each serious blog I post is like climbing another dam. I have to many dams in my life… so something has to give. Quite frankly, just running a bunch of photos has been a relief for me. It has made me want to pick up my camera more often. So look for the photos to come. Once some of the dams are behind me, I will write more then.

Dam 001

Yes, that is Joey at the top of the hill, and his brother Andy, about half way up. Of course, when he came down, he ran all the way. Andy took his time coming down.

Dam 002

Special Joey Message

Heidi and I went out on the back porch last week to spend some time enjoying the weather and found this message left there by Joey. He loves to leave messages around the house.

Message 001

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Here is what is says… we know this, because Joey copied it on to a piece of paper and left it for us on the table:

“Daddy rocks forever and ever… Andy stinks like a shoe… And this next sentence is about Mrs. Heidi and Dad… Mrs. Heidi is greater than flowers and Dad is tougher than metal.”

Cookies 004I did edit it for you since some of his words were sounded out. The entire message makes me chuckle. Joey is really funny at times. You can see that look in his eyes of this photo. Yes, there is a real stinker in there, waiting to pull his next trick.

Shadows

The reality of today will be but a shadow in glory… let the shadows in our lives be a constant reminder of this spiritual reality.

Shadows