As I start a new school year at work, I think of the many sunrises I saw over the summer. I love to get out and hike the Phoenix mountains, and really the only time to do that during the summer is as the sun comes up. To be at the top of a mountain as the sun rises in the distance is a beautiful sight. The different shades of orange, blue and purple that often shine through can be breathtaking.
Each year at the school where I work we pick a theme verse. Our theme verse for this year, Psalm 143:8, begins with the words, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love.” As I stand on top of a mountain and see the way God paints a masterpiece in the sky I can't help but to think of his unfailing love. This verse reminds us that every morning we can be reassured of the fact that He loves us and this love will never fail.
So whether you have the chance to stand on a mountain, are inside getting ready for work or school, or maybe driving with the sun right in your eyes, I encourage you to think of God’s unfailing love each morning. With this in our hearts and on our minds we can move on to share this love with others each and every day.
I used to think I was a good writer. In my role as principal I do a good amount of writing, whether it is for the our online posts, emails to parents, writing to other schools, or any of the many other avenues in which I need to correspond with people.
Often times I write and after checking it myself I am able to send it off. For other assignments I will have a person give it a quick read to make sure it looks okay and then send it out. Recently I did some writing that had more importance so I passed it on to my two expert proof readers, Mrs. Richter and Mrs. Stokes.
When I got it back there was more red and blue pen ink on the paper than black printer toner. Everything was underlined, crossed out, circled or written on. There was one whole paragraph that was completely scratched out.
I think it can be the same in our lives. Sometimes we think we are doing well and then all of a sudden the edits occur. Hebrews 12:11 tells us, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Just like the edits to my writing, the discipline we receive is for our own good. It helps us to bear more fruit in our lives. If I am stubborn and don’t listen to the suggestions then I will make mistakes and there will be errors in my writing. The same is true for my life. If I don’t want to listen to God’s discipline then I will continue to make the same mistakes.
No one likes to be told they are wrong. I didn’t like my paper being covered in red and blue ink with all the corrections. However, my writing will be better for it and my life will be better when God’s Word directs my steps, even when it doesn’t feel pleasant at the time.
After Christmas this year my wife and I switched our gym membership to a new gym that opened up near our home. She really likes it because it has a lot of different fitness classes. For me, it had everything I needed plus a basketball court where I could occasionally play some basketball as well.
Mia has really enjoyed going to the fitness classes. She has asked me a couple of times to come with her to the class. I always told her no and that I had my own workouts I wanted to stick with. A couple weeks ago I told her that the next time we had a day off school I would come with her to a class.
Well, President’s Day happened so guess where I was that Monday morning? I was at a High Fitness class with my wife. As we started out I was thinking this is no problem, I can do this. Then I made the mistake of looking at the clock. At that point I realized I was only 18 minutes into a 50 minute class.
Have you ever been pushed to your limit? You think there is no way you could or would want to keep going? 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, ’My grace is sufficient for you; for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that God’s power may rest on me.”
Sometimes we have to be reminded of our weakness so we can recognize God’s strength. If we think we can always do it all by ourselves we are missing the true source of strength that we need, God.
That Monday was a good reminder for me that my own strength is not nearly enough, but the good news is it doesn’t have to be. God is there for us and through His grace we are made perfect.
On Saturday I was working in my backyard getting some things cleaned up. I sprayed weeds and brushed the pool. I was getting ready to change the shoes on my pool vacuum when all of a sudden I heard an incredible boom.
I looked and the top half of my pool filter flew up in the air about 15 feet and landed 20 feet away. Then water was pouring out of the top of the filter before I could get over to shut it off.
I am not an expert on pool filters but it sure looked and sounded like there was a lot of pressure inside the filter that shouldn’t have been there and it caused it to blow.
Have you ever felt like my pool filter? I know I have. When we experience frustrations in life, disappointments or times when things don’t seem fair the pressure mounts and we feel ready to blow up.
Someone may say an insensitive word and it just continues to grow. How do we get rid of this feeling? Or how do we help someone else who is feeling this way?
Proverbs 12:25 tells us, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Our words can help diffuse the pressure someone else may be feeling. If we can just make our words be words of building each other up we can help many people without even realizing it.
You don’t know which people around you are feeling the pressure today; give everyone a kind word and see what happens.
This past Saturday morning when I woke up I checked my email as I do most Saturdays. I received an email from a person who lives in the neighborhood just north of the school I work at. The note asked why we didn’t take more pride in our school’s appearance. He stated that he walks daily along 7th Avenue and there is a lot of garbage that blows onto our grass, landscaping and retention area and we should do a better job of keeping it cleaned up.
My first reaction was, really, this is what I get to wake up to on Saturday morning? Then I instantly went into defensive mode. Doesn’t he see how much we have improved our campus over the last five years? Plus, it isn’t even our garbage! It blows from across the street or off the street onto our property and now I have a complaint about us not cleaning up other people’s trash.
Then I realized how I so clearly displayed the attitude one often takes when confronted with one's own sin. “It’s not my fault. I am better than the other person. Well if that person hadn’t provoked me I wouldn’t have reacted like that; they had it coming. It’s not my problem.”
I am glad I didn’t respond to the email in that moment of frustration. After telling myself to calm down about it, I could look a little more clearly at what he was saying. Whether we like it or not, sometimes we have trash in our front yard. We have to deal with it. The way I dealt with this on Saturday was, along with help of another person, to pick up all the trash along 7th Avenue.
As far as the sin we have to deal with, God gives us clear direction on how to deal with that. 1 John 1:8 tells us, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
It’s hard to hear that we are wrong. Our reaction is often to be defensive; at least I know my reaction can be that way. Thankfully God gives us a very clear path and as we confess what we did wrong, He cleans up the trash for us and takes all those sins away.
We have an amazing God who loves us and makes things clean.
Does anyone else ever get caught in this trap, or is it just me? I know what I want to do, but somehow I don’t seem to get it done. There are things I want to avoid, obstacles that have gotten in my way in the past and I am determined to avoid these same obstacles, only to find myself tripping over them again. Then I reread these words from Romans:
“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”
Romans 7:18-20 NLT
All of us have this sin problem. No matter how hard we try, we can’t avoid it. There is the reality that we still possess a sinful nature and we will continue to stumble; however, this doesn’t mean we give up the fight and give in to all of our sinful desires.
This is where God’s grace kicks in. He forgives us even when we struggle with that same obstacle right in front of us. The sinful nature won’t be with us forever. When we get to heaven with God we get to leave that part behind. What an amazing thing that will be; freedom from the weight of our sinful nature pulling us down each day.
In the meantime, continue to fight the good fight with God’s help. Then when you stumble, feel the grace and forgiveness God wants to freely pour out to us. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith; and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; not by works, so no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.
For the past 25 years I have been coaching high school basketball. I started out as an Assistant Junior Varsity Coach and then became an Assistant Varsity Coach. From there I went on to coach my own team starting at the freshman level, working up to JV and then the last 13 years was a Varsity coach.
When I look back at it, I have been coaching for over half of my life; however, this has come to an end.
A couple weeks ago I told my High School basketball team and their parents that this was my last year of coaching. It is still a little hard to comprehend because I have been doing it for so long. I am going to miss it tremendously, but as my responsibilities as an administrator continue to grow it has reached the time to hang up the clipboard.
I think there are some things that we count on to never change. Before I coached I played college basketball for four years, before that, high school and before that grade school basketball. I have been part of a team for the last 37 years. The last time I wasn’t part of a team I was nine years old.
For me there was the constant that as October turned to November basketball practice would begin and we would start a new season. That will no longer be the case. I am uncomfortable with the change and know there will be times I won’t like it.
There is one thing we can count on that never changes. Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Even the things in our lives that we think will never end, or we try to hold on to, will eventually come to an end. But Jesus will always be the same.
He will love us the same, He will forgive us the same, He will celebrate the good and comfort us in the hard times.
When the calendar turns to winter next year there will be times I wish I was still coaching and that it didn’t have to change. But I also rest assured in knowing that Jesus is the same for me whether I am coaching or not and He truly will never change.
I think we all have some tasks within our jobs or chores around the house we would rather not do. Sometimes we put on a good face and attack these with a great attitude. Other times we get irritated, frustrated or possibly even mad about having to do this. One of the things I struggle with sometimes is cleaning out the bleachers.
After home basketball games, at the High School where I coach and work, I take the time to try to clean up the bleachers or at least get as many of the big items as I can and throw them in the garbage. After a late game Friday night I decided to do it Saturday before people started arriving for the games that day. I think I hit the point of frustration when I found a dirty diaper left in the bleachers. I thought to myself, why can’t people clean up after themselves?
Later that weekend I thought about how my frustration was getting the better of me in this instance. The thought of "why can’t people clean up after themselves" just kept running through my head. That’s when I knew I was going to write about these thoughts. My thoughts led me to the reality that people can’t clean up after themselves. None of us can. We have a sin problem that no matter how hard we try we can’t clean-up for ourselves.
The amazing thing is Jesus never said He wouldn’t clean-up for us, he never got frustrated with the task, and he showed us how we are supposed to serve others in this way. Not only did Jesus clean-up our sin, he also did some cleaning that shouldn’t have been his responsibility.
In John 13 we read how Jesus cleaned His disciple’s feet. This was the job of a servant, but our Lord and King ended up on His knees doing the clean-up. If Jesus can do this for me, cleaning up the bleachers doesn’t seem like such a big deal.
I love that I am in a place where I’m constantly learning. Every Tuesday and Thursday at the High School where I work, we have chapel, and there always seems to be at least one thing I learn that’s new, or at the very least causes me to think differently about my faith.
This morning our Pastor, Jamie, shared a message about how God takes what is crooked and straightens it. We don’t need to come to God in perfect shape; we just need to come to Him. He will take care of changing us and fixing us.
Pastor Jamie often reminds us that God will never leave us alone. This also means He will never leave us alone. You can read this sentence two different ways, depending on the emphasis. God never leaves us, so we are comforted that He is always there, the common way in which we think of him never leaving us alone.
The other way to read that sentence is to imagine a person who won’t leave you alone…..that person who won’t stop calling or texting, or maybe when you were growing up that younger sibling who just kept nagging you because they wanted to always be with you. You see, this is how God is too. He cares about us so much that He won’t leave us alone.
He is going to keep working on each of us, persistently and unrelentingly, until He can mold us into the person He wants us to be. Not only will we never be alone, but God will never leave us alone. He has work to do on us and His love is too great to just leave us as we are.
1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind can imagine what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
I am thankful for a God who won’t leave me alone, even when I think I want Him to.
Are you familiar with 1 Corinthians 13? It is often referred to as the love chapter in the Bible. It lays out what it truly means to love someone else and shows us how God’s love is perfect for us. I find myself thinking a lot about this chapter in the Bible as I look forward to the rest of 2018. You see, just before Christmas my daughter got engaged and is planning a fall wedding. Then this past Saturday my son Aaron got engaged. He is jumping ahead of his sister and is getting married in July. At the moment I have all three of my children engaged to be married with weddings coming up in February, July and October of 2018!
As I look at the characteristics of love in 1 Corinthians 13, I recognize my own shortcomings in loving others. As exciting as our house is at the moment with wedding plans being the constant topic of conversation, I know that after all the weddings are over the real work begins in their marriages.
Verse 4 tells us, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” I hope I have taught my children patience and kindness, but I know there will be times when they fail in those areas, just like their dad did/does.
One thing we do know is that this description of love is the description of God’s perfect love for us. So whether we are in a crazy time of planning three weddings or in a time when life has knocked us down, we know God’s love for us is perfect. We can trust in this love every day. We can take comfort in knowing His love is true and follows what He says in verse 8, “Love never fails.”
Bob Koehne, husband to Mia, is an educator, coach, mentor and administrator with a love for Jesus and a passion to see lives impacted for Christ through Christian education. These are just some of his writings.
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