Category Archives: Christian Living

Soli Deo Gloria

The year was 1695.  It was midnight.  There were no street lights or electricity.  It was pitch black in the house.  A ten-year-old boy is tiptoeing down the stairs with only a candle to light his way.  He shields the light with his hand to keep the light from spilling all over and waking up the adults.  He slowly opens the door to the study, knowing if he pushes too fast, the hinges will squeak and his adventure will be found out.  He has a burning passion for music but he has been told that the music used for the church is too valuable to be used by children.  He squeezes his arm through an opening in the lattice and he rolls up a piece of organ music and pulls it out.  He spends the rest of the night copying the music on another piece of paper, all by candlelight.  He cannot wait to play this music the next day.  

This boy will grow up and become one of the most well-known music composers of all time.  Who am I talking about?  Johann Sebastian Bach.  He was such a gifted musician that he showed up to an organ playing contest and the judge walked up to him and said, you won!  Bach said, how could I have won, I didn’t even play a note.  The judge said, when the other contestants heard you were competing, they stayed home.  You won because no one else showed up!

When Bach began a new piece, he bowed his head and prayed. “Jesus, help me show your glory through the music I write. May it bring you joy even as it brings joy to your people.”  Typically, when composers completed writing a piece of music, they would sign with their initials on the bottom of the last page, so they would get credit for it, in this case, Johann Sebastian Bach’s initials are JSB, but instead Bach wrote the letters SDG at the bottom of the page – Soli Deo Gloria, for the Glory of God Alone. He hoped that when the music was played, it would point the performers and the listeners toward God.

Today we are going to pause in our progress through Psalm 1 and talk about glory.  Today we are honoring students who received all A’s or all A’s and B’s on their first quarter report card.  It is a wonderful accomplishment.  The question I would like us all to think about, is when I am doing my work, who do I want to get the glory for it?

At the end of this month, it will be the 500th anniversary of a pivotal event in church and world history, the Protestant Reformation.  One of the main people of this event is Martin Luther.  One of the most influential things he did was talk about the idea of Soli Deo Gloria, to God alone be the glory.  What was so revolutionary about this idea was that at the time of Luther, everyone thought that God was only glorified in a few things.  He could only be glorified if you worked full time at the church or were a missionary.  If you were so dedicated to God that you chose not to get married so you had more time to spend reading God’s word.  Sunday was really the only day that mattered because that was when you went to church.

What was so revolutionary aboutSoli Deo Gloria, was that it proclaimed what the Bible says about God’s glory, it’s all in all.  It’s everywhere and it can be in anything that you do.  It doesn’t start when you walk through the doors of church and stop on Monday.  It’s here on Wednesday.  And Thursday.  In fact, every day of the week.  It isn’t just when you are praying, but it is present when you are playing.  It’s not just when you are memorizing your bible verse, but when you are practicing your math facts.  God and His glory are everywhere.  He is in grammar.  (And you thought grammar was of the devil.)  Well, you are wrong, in fact, when there is perfect subject-verb agreement, it is a symphony.  He is in science.  In how you write your name.  Finish your work.  Listen to your teacher.  Treat your classmates.  Everything can be done to God’s glory.  A well-known preacher named R.C. Sproul has said,

“right now counts forever.”

So the person that is in the back room of a restaurant washing dirty dishes has just of an important job as the missionary to a foreign country because anything you do can be done to God’s glory and that makes it something special.  Today we honor those who got all A’s or A’s and B’s which are wonderful achievements but the most important thing you can do, regardless of your grades, is whatever you are called to do, you do it to God’s glory.  Here is the thing though, just because you got good grades doesn’t automatically mean it was done to God’s glory.  One person can get all A’s and be doing it for their own glory.  Another person can work as hard as possible and get all B’s and be doing it to God’s glory and God would be more pleased with the one who made lesser grades because they are working as hard as they can and are motivated to work hard so that God gets the credit.  It is also true that God does not get the glory when we are lazy or half-hearted in our work.  Oh no, we must strive to do our best in all things and in all areas.

Remember right now counts forever.

We are weak and feeble and without God’s amazing grace in our lives, we really could do nothing.  So when we do something well or give our best effort, we should immediately see that as a gift from God and praise Him.

I pray that we all would have the same attitude as Johann Sebastian Bach did with our work here at school.  We would have a relentless passion to grow and learn and push ourselves to be better and better.  Knowing that the reason we can learn and love is that God has freed our hearts and minds to know Him and because of that, He gets all the glory.  Just like Bach, we should want our next report card to be signed SDG, Soli Deo Gloria, for the glory of God alone.


Let me ask you this question, what sets apart someone who is in favor with God and on the way to enjoy the blessings of heaven and someone who is turning away from God and on the path of destruction? The answer is, what makes you happy. I mean deep down, what you really want to satisfy your heart desire.

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Siren’s Song

Last week we talked about how every thought, every word, and every deed is moving us in a direction. We are going somewhere. In Psalm 1, David says you will be blessed if you don’t go the way of the ungodly, the sinner, and the scornful. It starts with going for a walk, standing, and eventually sitting.  It never happens all at once.

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An Alternate Function for Technology

As “there are no small things”[1] we are told to “work heartily, as for the Lord” (Col. 3:23), something as simple as making your bed[2] can do wonders for your happiness and health, and carefulness is a virtue, according to Aristotle, then paying attention to details and concentrating on bettering seemingly unimportant small skills is important for the overall well-being, success, and fulfillment of a student.  Thus, the insistence when a teacher makes you put your heading in the correct corner with each piece of information, or makes you use graph paper for math, or makes you re-do an answer that she cannot read—are all examples of an effort to help a student realize the importance of being careful with details.

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Don’t Go There

It is interesting to me that Psalm 1 starts off negatively. David writes, “blessed is the man who walks not”. You would think that a book that says a lot about praise and worship would start with a “Hallelujah” but if you remember, the first word is blessed. There are amazing blessings in Christ but the first blessing is something you should not do.  If you don’t do this, you will be blessed. What is it? Listen to verse 1 again

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Blessed (Part 2)

I am going to let you all in on a parenting secret.  The night before Christmas or a big birthday is not always all joy and happiness. It can be extremely stressful.  In fact, the weeks leading up to a big celebration are very tense.  For example, trying to get the perfect Christmas gift has meant fighting large crowds and driving all over the place to go to the right store that has the right gift.  Or it has meant spending hours and hours on the internet searching for something that you end up overpaying for shipping and handling to make sure it gets here on time.  When that big day arrives, we as parents are all thinking, it will be worth it to see the smile on our child’s face and as they throw themselves at our feet and wrap their arms around our knees and gush forth in humble gratitude.  However, especially when a child is young, they open the gift and…meh.  We rush down there and show them how it works and all the noises and buttons.  The child begins to play with it and we run around the room giving ourselves high fives.  But when we look over again, they are eating the wrapping paper and playing with the box it came in while the toy is lying by itself on the floor.  

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Your Only Comfort

If you were to ask people around here two weeks ago, what would you be doing on Labor Day? What would the answer be? Hanging out by the beach perhaps. Mow the grass. Grilling out. Lounging around. What if you would have asked people in Houston, Rockport or Port Aransas or any of those surrounding areas two weeks ago, and ask them what would they be doing on Labor Day? Then asked them today, what they actually did this last weekend, you would have had totally different answers.  I think this shows how we all get really comfortable with our lives, and the day to day routine of going to school, coming home, and relaxing on the weekends.  We are pretty happy with how things are going.  Then all of a sudden, everything we know is threatened.

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Blessed (Part 1)

The book of Psalms is a beautiful but extremely honest look at life. The very first word in this book is “blessed” and Psalm 1 sets up the whole book by talking about how you can live a blessed life.  The word “blessed” itself means either set apart as holy, like when I say Jesus our “blessed” savior, but it can also mean extremely happy like I am so blessed today.  The question that I want to ask today is, what do you think makes you happy, I mean really happy?  Last week was on Matthew 6:33 and keeping first things first and second things second and my own struggle with this.  God created us to want to be happy but we have to live life His way.  He made us to enjoy life not only now but forever.  The problem is that sin deceives and tricks us into believing that things in this world will bring about the great happiness that we all want.      

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Addition By Subtraction

I wasn’t born in Nebraska. My dad was in the Air Force so we moved around a lot when I was young but we finally settled in Nebraska and I consider it home.  I started attending a public school until my dad made the decision to quit his job and become a Christian school teacher.  I joined the school a year later as a student.  The school was not like Annapolis but I appreciated being taught in a Christian environment.  I participated in junior high band and enjoyed choir.  I acted in One Act and in one of the school plays, Anne of Green Gables.  I was in the pivotal role as “farmhand #2”.  I also played sports.  The sport I excelled in the most was volleyball.  My dad was the assistant girls’ volleyball coach and he was my ride home so, out of boredom, I began playing volleyball.  After high school, I went to a Christian college where I played college volleyball and got a teaching degree.  My first teaching job after graduation was back in Nebraska, where I spent the last 20 years in education.

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My Wish for You – A Farewell from Mrs. Pat Kinner

As we end the school year with our final chapel today, I want to take the time to share from my heart what my prayers and wishes will be for each of you as I retire this summer.  I am stepping down after being involved in various roles at the school for over 20 years—the last 6 as principal.  It seems only fitting that I take this last opportunity to speak to you in my final chapel talk today and address you as a student body and as individuals who I have come to know and love.

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