Tag Archives: Christian Education

War and Peace

After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States entered into an almost 4-year war overseas called World War II.  Many young men enlisted or were drafted to fight this war. However, even those left behind in the states made deep sacrifices for the troops.  The government asked families to only use small amounts of certain food items and supplies so that there would be enough for the troops overseas.  Things like meat, butter, sugar, and gasoline, among other things were rationed. The country had just come out of the great depression and now they were being asked to sacrifice again for their country.  I was told stories of people keeping their aluminum foil and reusing it. My grandfather would go fishing in the stream nearby for catfish, hoping to catch some supper. Other countries were doing the same.  For example in England, there was a luxury ocean liner called the Queen Mary.  It carried passengers from New York to England (this was before citizens were traveling on airplanes).  It was transformed into a military troop transport. These luxurious rooms, think of a fancy hotel room, that used to have only three to a room at most now slept twelve soldiers.  The beautiful dining room was now a mess hall. It holds the record for the most troops in one passage, 15,740 on one run in July of 1943. There were changes because of the war. Life didn’t just go on as usual.

Today, we couldn’t imagine keeping used aluminum foil or washing out plastic baggies to use again, or only filling up a half a tank of gas because we want to make sure everyone had enough or making broth and soup so as to not waste the scraps of meat and bone.  We throw things away without even thinking about it. We plop down at our tables expecting a full, several course meal. If we lose something, it is no big deal, we will ask our parents for another one. Why are things so different now than the times I described in the 1940’s?  The difference is our grandparents and great-grandparents had a wartime mentality and today, we have a peacetime mentality. A mentality is a way of thinking, how we view the world around us. The United States got a little taste of that change on September 11th, 2001 but many of you here don’t even have that tragedy as a first-hand experience.  Most of us don’t really have to worry about the sacrifices of war. We have a peacetime mentality.

This week is our warrior week and I want to talk about the dangers of warriors who should be fighting a war, but instead, they are lounging around thinking they are at peace.  No, I’m not talking about a physical war, although we as citizens need to be aware of the realities of the world and the men and women of the military who are helping to keep us safe, no I am talking about a spiritual war.  Here are some things that show if you have a wartime mentality.

The first thing that needs to happen is we need to realize that we are at war.  There are two kingdoms fighting against each other. We have an enemy who is described as a roaring lion, who devours his prey.  Satan is our great enemy. When Christ came to earth as a baby, He didn’t come to give us a holiday so we could great presents, no, He came for war.  He came down to fight. Satan didn’t just say, ok, I’m sorry, you win. No, he fought back and although Christ defeated him through the power of the cross and His resurrection, Satan is still at war.  The question is if you are a Christian, are you? Are you at war with sin, the flesh, and the devil? It’s like a soldier in World War II landing on a Normandy beach and thinking he is here for a French vacation.  No, grab a weapon and go take that bunker. Christian, you are here on this earth to fight for the kingdom of God. And the first battlefield is your heart as you must wage war on your own selfishness and pride.

Next, we are to subdue things.  Genesis 1:26, 28,

“God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’ … God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule …’”

Another way to think of it is we are gardeners who cultivate and prune so that the potential of those things around us can display their beauty to the glory of God.  Your classmates that God has given you, are you doing things that allow them to grow and flourish or do you hack away and cut them down? Those books you read, those subjects that you study, do you allow those ideas to grow or do you leave them alone to wither up and die?  A soldier wants to learn and grow to be well rounded so he or she will be ready for any situation, and a good soldier never leaves a man behind.

Third, denying yourself shows that Christ is your supreme treasure.

Luke 9:23-25 says

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?”

Why is it you have no problem staying up late playing Minecraft or Fortnite but grumble and argue when your parents tell you it’s time to get up so you can go to church?  Those moments, if you pay attention, tell you where your treasure is. Soldiers at war make sacrifices. They sacrifice time, energy, and even themselves for the greater good.  We are Christian soldiers and we are asked to deny ourselves, take up our cross every day, and follow Christ. That is the wartime mentality.

Last, fighting the fight brings you true joy

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44).  

When I was playing volleyball, one thing my coach knew would really get me fired up is when he thought I wasn’t practicing well, he would move me to the other side of the net which was the junior varsity side.  Now, these players were working hard but they did not have the skill or experience that the starters had. Now I had a choice. I could stay on the JV side of the net and things would have been a lot easier since I was a more experienced player but would I have joy in what I was doing?  No, the enjoyment came when I gave great effort and made plays that allowed me to earn my spot back on the starters side of the net. When I had the self-satisfaction that I was doing all I could do to get better and I was making plays to help the team that I experienced joy. How much more for a christian who is engaged in the battle for the kingdom of God versus one who is sitting on the sideline just watching it?  The joy goes to the one who is in the fight.

We are at war.  We are called to subdue, to grow our hearts and minds to reach our potential as humans.  We are called to deny ourselves and make sacrifices to keep our focus on what should be our #1 treasure, and that is Jesus.  Last, being in the battle, being a man or woman of action, brings joy. Sitting around and waiting, letting the game go by, brings regret and misery.

So, as Ms. Watson would say, let’s warrior up.  Let’s remember that we are not at peace, we are at war, so

“put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

Whose is the kingdom of God?

I have always wanted to have a backstage pass.  A special card that lets you go back behind the stage at a concert to meet the singer and musicians.  Or a field pass that lets you go down on the sideline of a game. I haven’t experienced a VIP treatment very often but I did a little bit when I was still playing volleyball as an adult. My team was playing in the national championship tournament and my wife was with me.  We walked into this massive convention center for this week-long tournament. We walked down this ramp and a man stopped us. He said do you have your pass? I pulled my player pass out and he waved me through but my wife had to turn back and go up and around to sit in the stands.  I now could go anywhere I wanted to. There were numerous courts, carts of volleyballs, booths, sport medicine clinics, and extremely tall human beings everywhere. And I had access to all of it. My wife, on the other hand, could only watch from a distance.

We have been talking about the kingdom of God.  It is where God reigns as king. It is not the kingdom of self, where I reign as king.  We also talked about the kingdom of God being this big, huge place where love for God and love for my neighbor are the most important things.  Today we are going to talk about who is in the kingdom of God and who can only look at it from a distance.

What do you think would happen if anyone could walk on the floor of that volleyball tournament.  You didn’t need a pass, didn’t have to be wearing athletic clothes, no jersey, didn’t need to be on a team.  Anyone could wander around. What would happen to that tournament? It couldn’t happen. People would be everywhere, and there would be no benefit to being a part of a team.

The same is true about the kingdom of God.  Not just anyone can be a part of it. To be a part of this kingdom, you must see God as your king and realize that your sin keeps you from being a part of his kingdom and that Jesus took your sin, changed your heart, and now you can be adopted into God’s kingdom.  I had a players pass that allowed me access to the playing courts but your pass into the kingdom of God is your heart. One that has been radically changed by the grace of Jesus. We call someone like that, a Christian.

Let’s talk about what that means, to be a Christian.  1) A Christian is very concerned about keeping and living God’s law.  Not because that is what saves the heart but that is how we glorify God and enjoy Him and enjoy His blessings.  Obedience is the best way to show your love for God. We get to practice that here on earth when we obey the adults that God has put over us.  When we obey, all the way, right away, with a happy heart, we actually are practicing for when we are asked by God to obey his law. 2) A Christian always realizes that he or she is constantly in God’s presence.  Every thought, every word, and every deed is done knowing that God knows everything we think, hears every word and sees every deed. A Christian wants all of those things to be well pleasing to God. A non-christian has a completely different view of life.  They are worried about what they will eat or drink, what they will wear, what their friends will think of them. They depend on themselves and they are anxious, worried because they know deep down, there is something missing in their life. A Christian is completely the opposite.  They don’t worry because they know they are in the presence of God and He provides those things to His children because He loves them. 3) A Christian lives their life in the fear of the Lord. Godly fear is not being scared but it is properly worshiping God, showing reverence to God.  A Christian knows that they are not under God’s eternal judgment but at the same time they know they must appear before God to give an account of what they have done with their time, talent and abilities. Their life shows this understanding of how they live their life each day and how they treat others.  It clearly shows that they love God and they love their neighbor.

This all leads to one big question.  Are you a Christian? Are you a part of the kingdom of God or do you just look at it from a distance?  Your heart must be changed otherwise everything that I will talk about for the rest of this year will not make any sense nor will you be able to do it.  The beatitudes is how to live in God’s kingdom which means your heart’s desire is to love God as your king. Only a Christian can do that. What we are going to find with the beatitudes is that Jesus is calling all of his followers, all Christians to radical self-sacrifice.  Radical humility. And a radical call to serve other people, to your own hurt and loss. This is not what you see on TV. This is not what popular songs are about. In fact, it is the exact opposite. They tell you to live for right now. Live for yourself.

It is easy to think, oh yes, I am a Christian so I am fine, I can live my life, however, I want right now because I’m saved.  You need to understand that as much as you needed Jesus’ saving grace when you believed in Him, you need Him just as much today, and tomorrow, and the rest of your life.  The reason you need him is that you and I still fight against sin and temptation. In a minute, we are going to have a special song called Come Ye Sinners. When you listen to the song, don’t think, if it is about sinners, they must be singing about my brother or sister.  They are the sinners. Or think about someone else who you think is a really bad sinner. This song is written to you and to me. 

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy

Weak and wounded, sick and sore

 

That describes you and me.  Sin makes us poor, needy, weak, it wounds us, makes us sick and sore.  When we try to follow our own heart, do our own thing, seek after our own pleasure, which we all do all the time, sin crushes us and breaks us.  Makes us hurt and lonely. Listen to what the answer is:

Jesus ready, stands to save you

Full of pity, love and power

 

I will arise and go to Jesus

He will embrace me in His arms

In the arms of my dear Savior

Oh, there are ten thousand charms

 

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden

Lost and ruined by the fall

If you tarry ’til you’re better

You will never come at all

Don’t wait until you think you are good enough or worthy enough for God, because you will never come.  Here is what to do instead:

I will arise and go to Jesus

He will embrace me in His arms

In the arms of my dear Savior

Oh, there are ten thousand charms

We need to arise, get up and run to our savior.  Run to His embrace, his hug. Run to His forgiveness.  It is there that we find charms, those great delights. As the music team comes forward, I want you to listen and think about how this song is a call for you and for me to arise, get up, and go to Jesus.

What the fall destroyed, Jesus comes to save and make new again.  You and I can be a part of that by being a part of God’s kingdom but you must enter through the narrow gate.  You must enter by way of the cross. It is only there do you find peace of mind and peace in your soul. No more anxiety or worry about things you can’t control.  Only peace. The last song we sing today is about God’s perfect peace being like a glorious river. The chorus of the hymn is

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest

Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

If you are a Christian, you can claim that promise today and every day of your life.

What is the Kingdom of God?

What if I walked across the street to the local school and walked into the office, saw myself back into the principal’s office and sat down in the chair?  What if I got on the intercom and said, “Your attention please, everyone has a 15 minute recess, starting now.” What do you think would happen to me? Do you think the staff would listen to me or do you think the school would call security?  Probably call security. Why? Because I do not have any authority over there. Corpus Christi School District did not hire me to be a principal. Now, what if I announced here in chapel that I had decided that there would be no recess today. Could I do that?  Yes. Why? Because I am the principal at Annapolis. I do have the authority.

We will be looking at a famous sermon that Jesus preached while He was on earth called the sermon on the mount.  Part of the sermon is the beatitudes, which we will spend most of our time looking at. One of the big ideas that Jesus talked about in the sermon on the mount is something called the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven.  It is the same thing. Last week we talked about how in order to be a part of the kingdom of God, you must have faith. And God’s Word, through the work of the Holy Spirit, is how we get faith. And God’s Word also teaches us to live by faith.  

Today we are going to talk about what is the kingdom of God?  We pray almost every chapel, “thy kingdom come…” What are we praying for?  We sing “seek ye first the kingdom of God”, what are we singing about? So, what is this kingdom of God?  

Here is the first big idea.  The kingdom of God is where God reigns as king.  A kingdom has a king and the kingdom of God means God is its king.  Here is the second big idea. God reigns as king where He has authority.  I do not have authority as a principal in any school, just here at Annapolis.  My authority is limited. So where does God have authority? Is it in small places?  A church here? A school there? A few families? If God is the creator of all things and if God is all-powerful, then He reigns, where?  Everywhere. So where He reigns, there is the kingdom of God. It is hard to see that sometimes because there is the kingdom of darkness that fights against God’s kingdom.  We sometimes don’t see God’s kingdom because of the darkness so let’s talk a little bit more about what the kingdom of God is.

  1. God’s kingdom is real.  It is a physical place. The garden of Eden was its beginning and it will be re-established again physically at the end of time with a new heaven and a new earth.  All the events of time and history are marching forward. Christ will return to earth. God will judge every thought, word, and deed. Today is not some random day situated among a bunch of other random days.  It is one step closer to eternity. Today matters. This moment matters. What you think, what you say, and what you do, matters for the advancement of the kingdom of God.
  2. God’s kingdom is now.  When Christ came to earth, He crushed the head of the serpent and defeated the power of sin and death.  We do not have to wait until we get to heaven to experience the blessings of the presence of God. Heaven is a place that we should long for and will ultimately be the place that we will no longer struggle with sin but God reigns now.  He rules here. It may look like God is dead sometimes. God is absent but everything is under His control and done according to His will whether we see it or not.
  3. God’s kingdom is also spiritual.  It exists in the hearts of God’s people.  First in His church but also in places where God’s people, true Christians, come together, in a community, like here.  God’s kingdom is here at ACA because God’s people are gathered here. So if God’s people are here, then we should be living as God’s people live, as servants of God our king.  It should be very obvious that God’s kingdom is here, in the hearts of His children.

When God’s people gather together and work together, it is a chance to see and feel what heaven is going to be like.  Isn’t it neat to think that we get to start to practice what heaven is going to be like here at school?

What this would look like at Annapolis is that we would first of all love God.  That means we would love and cherish the Bible and what it says. Next, we would love one another.  The boys would gladly hold the doors for the girls. The girls would graciously say thank you. We would immediately be obedient to our teachers.  Play with each other at recess. Rush to help out a classmate. Smile to one another. 

God’s kingdom means bowing to the authority of Jesus.  Knowing that God is the king. He is the one to be feared, worshipped, and obeyed.  

So who reigns in your heart?  Who is king over your life? What kingdom is the one you are living for?  We all know the right answer, but the real answer to those questions can be seen in how you obey your teachers.  Right away, all the way, with a happy heart. How you obey your parents. Is that right away, all the way, with a happy heart?  Yes, that rule applies to you at home as well. How you treat your classmates. How you do your homework. How you spend your free time.  Would you rather stay home and play video games than go to church? All these tell you what is most important to you. If we are not willing to obey the authority of the ones we can see, our teachers, our parents, then you can be sure that you will not submit to God, whom you cannot see.  If I don’t like submitting to the authority on earth, then I will definitely not like submitting to the authority in heaven.

God is our king.  He has the authority to sit on His throne, over us and over our lives.  He created us. He has given us his law and He has made a way through His Son to change our hearts so that we can now follow that law and live a life of faith.  When we do that, when we let God reign over our lives, we are establishing His kingdom. We want to do that each day here at Annapolis.

My challenge to each of us, myself included, is let’s make Annapolis better today than it was yesterday.  That the kingdom of God shines brighter today because of our good deeds than it did on Tuesday. Let’s live today, right here, serving our king.  Bowing to His authority. Obeying those people whom God has put in our life to teach us how to submit. Who teach us how to obey. Who show us how to serve our king.  God has not left us alone to do this by ourselves or in our own strength. He has given us his word, the Bible, and the holy spirit to give us what we need to allow God to rule in our life, in our house, in our classroom, and in this school.

Faith

We will be studying the beatitudes this school year and how Jesus calls his children to live and work in God’s kingdom.  Today we are going to talk about the thing that allows you to be a part of God’s kingdom and that is faith. You can’t just show up at the door, ring the doorbell and say, I’m here, let me in.  In order to be a part of God’s kingdom, which is something so much greater than you or I, there has to be a radical transformation and commitment of the heart, and that is called faith. But not only does faith get you through the door to God’s kingdom, you are also called to daily live by faith.  

I want you to think about something.  There is a difference between amazement and faith.  You can be amazed at something but that doesn’t mean you put your faith into it.  I remember seeing someone bungee jump for the first time. You know that great idea of strapping yourself to elastic bungees and jumping off high places, to bounce around dangling there, for fun.  The first time I saw someone do that was at a fair. Extreme sports was just beginning and I had literally never seen anything like it. It was a huge crane where people would climb up this small ladder to the top platform.  They would get strapped in and then step off plunging to the ground only to be jerked back up. Down and up. I was in utter amazement. I just stood there. Now there was no way that I was going to put my faith into that crane, into those bungees or into those workers hands.  

In the gospel of Mark chapter 6 is a story of Jesus and His disciples.  Jesus sends the crowd away, he makes his disciples get into a boat to sail across the lake and then Jesus goes up a mountain to pray.  In the evening, a storm comes up. The disciples in the boat have been fighting this storm for about 8 hours. Can you imagine 8 hours of rowing in a wind-tossed sea?  They are literally going nowhere. Jesus comes down from the mountain and walks on this stormy water. Let me stop right there. Jesus walks on water. There is now no doubt of who He is, this shows He is the Lord of all, Creator, and King because no one in the universe can do that except God.  And how are we not blown away and stop and fall on our knees in worship? But we read that story and think, oh, that’s cool.

We have all been blessed to hear God’s Word read to us.  In school. Most schools it is very different. In fact, October 4th is Bring your Bible to School day because most kids your age don’t bring their Bible to school because they are afraid to.  They have been told not to. We should be in prayer for our fellow Christians who do not have the same access to God’s Word. You and I have been richly blessed to be in a school that has chapel.  Bible class. Prayer. But my fear is that we begin to start looking at our Bible as if it’s just another textbook and just another literature story. Reading the Bible is a relationship with the God of the Bible.  We are not meant to just read the Bible, but it is a way to meet the God of the Bible. A pastor Paul David Tripp says it this way,

“Your job is not to just master the Word but be mastered by the God of the Word.”

The passage in Mark reads,

And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure and marveled. For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.”

If all Jesus wanted to do was to stop the storm, he could have just said “be still” while he was on the mountain.  Instead, He takes a walk. In the storm. On the water. Why? He is not after the storm. It has nothing to do with blue skies and calm seas for sailing.  He is after them. The disciples. Their hearts.

Here is what is interesting.  Why are those disciples in a boat out in the middle of the stormy seas?  Were they running away? Did they do something wrong? No, in verse 45 it says Jesus made His disciples get in the boat.  Jesus put them in there. Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen. And put them in that boat, in that storm, because he was after something far greater than a little peace and quiet while he prayed.  He was after their hearts.

Why are you all here at Annapolis this year?  Are you here because your parents made you come here?  Perhaps but at a much deeper level, you are here because Jesus put you here.  I am here because Jesus called me here. The staff is here because Christ has called them here.  He put us all in this boat together. Hope you brought a paddle. And perhaps a life jacket if you can’t swim yet.     

More than just you and I being here.  God is here. He is present in our songs.  He is present in the Bible that we read. The verses we memorize.  But here is the danger. You can be amazed by hearing what you hear in Bible class-the cool stories like Jesus walking on water, you can be amazed at singing songs of worship, amazed by learning new things, amazed by good friends, you can be amazed by all of these things here at Annapolis, but not be living by faith.

Faith is a commitment of your heart to a new truth that changes the way you live your life.  Faith is more than your mind being blown. It is believing that the Jesus that I read about in my Bible, is king over all, including my life.  And I will do what He tells me because I love Him so much. It will change my life. Every day, my life will be changed more and more to be more obedient to what the Bible says.  It will be seen in how I obey my teachers. How diligently I do my school work. And how I honor others.

There is a profound difference between amazement and faith.  The passage in Mark says the disciples did not understand about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.  What? How was that possible? Jesus has just fed the 5,000 and then walked on water and calmed the sea. And their hearts were hardened?  A hard heart means it won’t change. It is like a rock. I can’t mold it. It is resistant to change. A soft heart can be molded and changed.  Here is the big question. Why did the disciples have a hard heart? They had a hard heart because they did not want change because they were satisfied with who they were.  

Your biggest challenge this year, and mine, is not that we are dissatisfied with who we are but that we are all too satisfied. We don’t hunger for the change of the lessons that we are being taught again and again and again.  We read God’s Word and think nothing of it. We hear our teachers tell us about God’s truth and we don’t think about what they are saying. We are corrected by our parents about the same things again and again. We disobey and face consequences but we do not want to change.  If this is you, and if I am honest, this is me sometimes, the warning from this passage in Mark is beware of a hard heart. One that chooses not to change. One that is content with a little faith. The challenge is do not be satisfied. Allow God’s Word to soften your heart because in His word you find a loving Savior who wants nothing less than a heart that is full of faith and courageously advances the kingdom of God starting right here at Annapolis.   

This school year there should be a hunger and thirst for righteousness.  When we get to go to Bible class again, do we think, I can’t wait! What, are you giving me another verse to memorize, yes!  When teachers point out the truths of God in science and books, do we think I cannot get enough of this? Are we in awe of the beauty of God in art and music?  In awe of how fearfully and wonderfully our bodies are made when we are in PE? Is our faith in a God who is in control of all things strengthened when we see the order and harmony in math?  Every day and in every subject, God’s Word and God’s truth is there so that your faith and my faith can grow.

We will not find that radical transformation of our heart that Jesus is calling us all to unless we deeply love the Bible, the wonderful words of life.

Satisfied

It was not good enough that he would be a king of Narnia.  He wanted to be the king.  It was not good enough to enjoy the bounty of the forest around him and eat of the generosity of the forest animals, Edmund, a character from CS Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Edmund wanted the White Witches’ Turkish delight.  His choices to fall to the temptation of power and selfishness, led him to betray his brothers and sisters and led to many good animals being turned into stone. And instead of ruling as king of his castle, he became a prisoner in the castle and was left alone, afraid and full of guilt over what he had done.  It was only through the grace showed to him by Aslan was he forgiven and restored back to his family and his throne.

It is hard to believe but it is almost the end of the year.  We have been working through Psalm 1 as the lense that we can put on to see clearly what is happening in the world around us.  Let’s take one more look through the glasses of Psalm 1. Here is the last lesson from Psalm 1.

You and I live in a world that is marching towards destiny

Our world has a beginning and an end, there is an eternity.  Judgment is coming. We will give an account for every word, whether it is good or worthless.  There is a holy, righteous God who is the judge. You see if there is no eternity then the game is get as much pleasure and comfort in the here and now, because that would be all we have, but there is an eternity.  The world around us says that is not true, the Bible is wrong. There is no God who judges. There is nothing after you die. Live for the moment. The world says everything is OK. If you think I am making this up, here is an example.  How many of you saw the movie Zootopia? It is about a cute little bunny that leaves the country to become a cop in a big city. One of the characters in the movie is a pop singer who sings the theme song of the movie. Do you remember what the name of the song is? “Try Everything”. Try, everything? Really? Everything? I won’t know if its good or bad until I try it and decide for myself.  That is a worldview that says, there is no eternity, you are in charge and you can decide what is right for you. Just need to try it and see. Psalm 1 slams the door on that worldview and says

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish.”  

We obey God’s word because that is the way of the righteous and we want to stand in the day of judgment.  We hear all around us a different message that tells us to try everything, do what you want right now, you are in control, and there are no consequences that really matter.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  

The world offers a “try everything” worldview as its Turkish delight, where you can be king or queen of your kingdom but Psalm 1 says if you follow that path your life will amount to chaff, which the wind will blow away.  You will want more but will never be satisfied. You can’t play enough video games, or eat enough food, or have enough toys, or have enough friends, or watch enough TV or have a long enough summer to fill that void in your heart.  There is only one place where your heart can find delight, find peace and be satisfied.

We were not made to figure out life on our own.  To go around looking for things to satisfy the longings of our heart.  We have been given Psalm 1 because it has the recipe on how to be satisfied.  Has the counsel of this world influenced you? Are you drawn to things on your device, TV, movies that are not honoring to God?  Do you look to relationships-parents, teachers, friends, classmates, for your identity? Is your comfort more important than obeying right away with a happy heart?  Do you honor yourself instead of loving your neighbor? All of this will leave you empty. The call from Psalm 1 is to delight in God’s word and to sink your roots deep in the wisdom of the Bible.

You are not on this earth to serve yourself and do what you think is right.  Here it is,

you were given life and breath to give glory to God.

That should move and motivate you. God knows what is best for you. You were created to depend on Him and His word, not yourself and your own understanding.  He is the only one who can satisfy your heart. As we close the book on Psalm 1, we should stand back and be in awe of the stunning wisdom of the bible. How a Psalm written over 1,000 years ago still applies to every one of us, every day, every minute and every fiber of your life and mine.  My challenge to you starting now and into this summer is to spend the time delighting in God’s Word and then follow it, obey it, and I assure you, God will be glorified in your life and you will be satisfied.

Glory

Have you ever wondered why we love a selfie?  It has become such an obsession that phone camera designers added the ability to turn a camera around by a push of a button.  Instead of pointing the camera outward, you can flip it around and point it at yourself. Why do we love pictures of ourselves? It’s not like we don’t know what we look like?  

The answer to that lies in the very beginning of the Bible when it describes the origin of the universe and cosmos.  You could say the four most important words in the Bible are, in the beginning…you?….No, in the beginning…God.

You see God has a rightful place as king of his kingdom because He created it. And as king, he is glorious. His glory is about God’s greatness, beauty, and perfection of all that He is.  All that He created was for His glory. We were created for His glory. When he put us together, he wired us for glory. We were made to live for the glory of God. It is in our DNA. In a perfect world, we would be happy to give God the glory for everything but we know this isn’t a perfect world. Our sin twists that desire for glory and instead of living for the glory of God, we look to ourselves and want to live for our own glory. It’s like a glory selfie.  

As we honor those that have achieved good grades over the course of the 3rd quarter, I want to make sure that why we want good grades is more than getting a free dress day and some free food. It’s more than wanting to be recognized for being a good student. All of those motivations are shadow glories and will disappear when you chase after them.  No, my challenge to all of you and myself included is to pursue excellence, work hard, and attention to detail, for the glory of God. The 4th quarter has already started and it is a time to finish strong. Not so that you can be recognized but because you realize that God has given you a mind, a body and a soul to be used to its fullest and without God you would be nothing.  

Why does God deserve all the glory? It’s not like what you see on TV when an athlete makes the game-winning shot and wants to start the interview giving a shout out to Jesus but then spends the rest of the interview talking about himself. We don’t do our thing and then make sure we send God a thank you note. We need to humbly realize that you and I would be nothing without God. Every brain cell, every muscle, every gift, talent, and ability comes from God. Can you read well? Does math come easy? Do you get good grades in Latin? Art? Music? PE? Give Him the glory for all you do because He should get it. He deserves it. You find success in those subjects because God gives you that success. You don’t have anything that God did not give you.

On the flip side, when you have the ability to use your mind and body or when you are called to show virtues of hard work, perseverance, and carefulness, and choose not to. You are stealing the glory away from God. If you are not working towards your full potential each and every day, growing in the grace that God gives you, for His glory, then you are moving in the opposite direction and seeking your own glory.  You think you are too important to do what a teacher asks you. You are going to do your own thing, your own way. You are not going to change your attitude because you think you are too righteous and don’t need to be corrected.

You see when glory is not given to God, it is an incredibly dangerous thing. We think more highly of ourselves because we think we deserve the glory.  My challenge to us all for this 4th quarter is to humbly admit there are times and places in each of our lives we live for our own glory. Then in a broken and contrite, humble heart, live our lives for the glory of God. What that will look like at school is doing our best and giving our best each and every day. Being humble in correction.  Working to be obedient with a happy heart.

The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31  

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

We don’t have the strength to do that on our own. Our focus needs to be outward and upward. Not turned around on us. No more glory selfies. 

Destiny

“For the Lord knows the way of the righteous.”

Let’s be honest, it is very hard to live a righteous life.  To truly obey God and his commands day in and day out. It is hard to obey right away all the way with a happy heart.  To not complain and grumble. To say no to other people doing the wrong thing. There are so many people and things out there that are so attractive but wrong.  People who look like they are having so much fun. Laughing and having a great time. They look like they have a lot of money and success. They are on TV. They have friends.  Sometimes saying no to temptation and bad things is, well, boring. Lonely.

Here is what King David wrote, the Lord knows the way of the righteous. When God says He knows someone, He knows it like a potter or woodworker knows the item that they made.  Each detail they have created and gone over with such attention. God created us and knows our every thought, word, and deed. Now at first, to be honest, that scares me.  I know I have thought, said and done things over and over on a daily basis that are sinful. But here is the amazing truth of this passage. If we are God’s children, which means we have been given the faith to admit our rebellion against God and believe that our only comfort and hope in this world and the next is Jesus.  If that’s true, Jesus takes off our filthy, dirty rags of rebellion and hatred towards God, and places the royal robe of His righteousness over us and when God now looks at us, it is as if we never sinned. All He sees is the perfect righteousness of Christ. Amazing.

But sometimes God seems so far away.  In the day to day moments here at school and at home, the temptations come out of nowhere.  They pop up in your face. It seems like when you do the right thing, you lose friends. It is confusing to know what is the right thing to do sometimes.    

There was the youngest brother of a large family. His older brothers hated him.  They hated him so much that when he went out to the field where they were to check on them, they wanted to kill him.  Instead, they settled for throwing him into a deep well. Eventually, they sold him as a slave. Can you believe it, their own brother!  Now a slave in Egypt, Joseph, works hard, is diligent, attends to details, and does the right thing day in and day out. He gets noticed and promoted because God blesses Him.  As He does his work as unto the Lord, he is all of sudden faced with the wife of his master who is lustfully tempting him to indulge in momentary pleasure. Here is Joseph’s response,

How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?  

His righteous stand eventually leads him to be falsely accused and thrown into prison for years. Again, He is diligent. Works hard. Does not complain. He gets promoted and is blessed by God. He interprets Pharaoh’s’ dream and becomes a ruler of the greatest country of that time.  A great famine comes over the land. There is no food. Only Egypt has food, thanks to Joseph’s planning. Guess who shows up in Egypt? Joseph’s brothers. The ones who wanted to kill him and sold him into slavery. When Joseph finally reveals himself to them, this is amazing, he says,

“Please come near to me.” (He doesn’t cast them away looking for revenge) Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not, therefore, be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. God sent me before you to preserve a future generation for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God.”

Here is the point.  Joseph refused to trade momentary pleasure, anger, revenge or feeling sorry for himself for the righteousness that God requires.  You see you cannot have it both ways. You are either moving your life in the direction of things that last only a moment and serve our own wants, needs, and desires or you are doing things that make the desire of your heart want to know God and His word more.  There is no in between. Every moment of your life and mine is moving us somewhere and in some direction. All those moments are marching towards a destiny. You don’t think this moment matters?  You don’t think that resisting a temptation really doesn’t matter?  It does. It matters for your destiny. Joseph knew that he could not compromise. He put His trust in the Lord. God was with him the whole time. In the dark well, through the desert, in the prison, and on the throne. God was with him and knew him and strengthened him to live a righteous life despite any temptations.  

Don’t miss this point. Your life is made up of millions of moments that are all marching towards your destiny. If you trust God with your heart, he knows you. He has made you righteous so that your destiny is with Him forever. You can stand up to friends who are making bad choices. You can say no to temptation. You can stand alone because you really are never alone. You can do your work as unto the Lord. All of this pleases the one who has done everything you need to live a life that glorifies God.  Hold on to the righteousness of Christ and do not compromise it. When it’s hard, scary, confusing or lonely. He is the great Jehovah who will guide you, every step of the way towards a destiny that glorifies God.

The Seven Deadly Sins Series with Rev. William “Geoff” Smith

The Bible says that a man who controls his temper is better than a man who can overthrow a city. Jesus himself says that anger can start a process in which an individual and the communities of which he is a part can devolve into the fires of hell. Paul says that unchecked anger gives a foothold to Satan. If anger is so dangerous and so difficult to overcome, what can we do about this powerful passion that dwells within us?

The Bible and the Christian tradition through the ages offer several solutions. We’ll start with tradition and end with Scripture. Thomas Aquinas makes the point that

one must distinguish between just and unjust anger.

Just anger is anger which desires to correct sin (whether personal or in others). Unjust anger is anger which wishes to harm others or get even. Knowing these distinctions can be very helpful, as we can ask, if we’re angry, “Do I wish to harm another or to correct sin? If I wish to harm, I should shut my mouth and not act right now. If I wish to correct a sin, I should measure my words to do exactly that and nothing more.” Another strategy, which Jesus recommends, is to take extreme ownership over your community, team, or family and if you are about to worship then remember that if you have wronged another, go reconcile immediately.

In other words, the Christian is a part of a kingdom whose citizens all take 100% ownership of their actions and therefore try to right whatever wrongs they have done.

A final strategy is one offered by Paul the Apostle. In Philippians 4:8-9, he recommends thinking of the best in others so that we might experience the peace of God in the midst of interpersonal conflict.

Coming up this week at SoLaR Chapel…”Pride!”

Meet Joree Jackson

Meet Joree Jackson. Joree has been at ACA since preschool and is poised to graduate from ACA in the spring of 2018. For the past fourteen years, Joree has worked hard to distinguish herself as one of ACA’s best and brightest young leaders, embodying the highest ideals of Annapolis’ mission and vision to graduate students who are:

  • Servant-hearted imitators of Jesus
  • Wise, virtuous, and eloquent lovers of truth, goodness, and beauty
  • Passionate about learning and prepared for life
  • Leaders who are broad-minded, well-rounded, and socially graceful

We are extremely proud of Joree’s many achievements as a student of Annapolis, but we are most proud of the person that she has become. We think you’ll agree.

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Make Haste…Slowly

Today we recognize the academic achievement of students from the second quarter.  We are now halfway through the school year.  I am guessing some of you are quite pleased with your grades so far this year.  Some, I would guess, are a little disappointed and would like to do better.  

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