"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." (I Peter 3:15)
Our hope comes in Jesus Christ. It starts with Him and it ends with Him. The reality is that nothing else in the world really matters. We go through our days and do the best we can. If you are anything like me sometimes you have really good days and then there are the times when you have some tough ones.
On the good days it is easy to give a reason for the hope you have. We recognize hope in a lot of ways when things are going well. The hard part is letting people know about our hope on the tough days. The days where everyone seems to get under your skin a little, or the days in which you continually make mistakes.
Then those last few words in the verse really get to me. Do this with gentleness and respect. These two characteristics are what can separate us from other people. Live in your hope, and share that hope with others. But always show other people gentleness and respect.
In a world where we can take to social media every time we disagree with something this can be a difficult standard. Yet it is a necessary one. How are people supposed to recognize and crave your hope if you don't demonstrate these attributes to others? But through gentleness and respect people will actually hear the hope we have in Jesus and want to make it part of their own lives. - Bob Koehne
This past Thursday I had the chance to play the role of a proud parent once again. My daughter Miriam graduated from Grand Canyon University. I was so excited for her and so proud of the way she pushed through to the end to earn her degree.
School was not always easy for her. She was slow in learning how to read and didn't really learn until 3rd grade when we home schooled her for the year. When she was in high school she did well, but she always had to put in the extra effort.
As she started college I knew she was going to do well, but then in the middle of her sophomore year she told my wife and me that she decided to stop school for a while to go into the mission field. We were excited for her and happy with her decision. However, I think there was a part of me that wondered if she would ever go back and get her degree.
So here she was on Thursday, the girl who struggled to learn how to read, the person for whom school never came easy, who took a year away to do mission work, walking across the stage and getting her diploma. I found her name in the graduation book and there was an ** next to it to indicate she graduated Magna Cum Laude. I was really at a loss for words.
As I reflected back on all of this I thought of Hebrews 12:1-2, "... And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
It took a lot of perseverance for my daughter to run the race of education and graduate from college. She ran even though sometimes it wasn't fun for her and it was difficult. We are called to do the same in our race of life; to run with perseverance, but as we run see the goal. We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
Last week I was driving to school when all of a sudden traffic slowed. It was in a spot where there didn't seem to be a reason for people to slow down or stop. I was in the right lane and the center lane kept moving along just fine. People ahead of me started pulling around so I figured there must be something in the roadway.
When there was an opening I pulled around and as we moved up we could see why people had stopped. There was a homeless man who was riding a motorized scooter. He had gotten a little too close to the curb and the scooter had tipped over into the street.
As we neared I could see the man was getting up and it appeared that he was going to be okay. Yet there was something inside of me that said I should stop and help him out. So you know what I did next, I kept driving to school. I rationalized it in my own mind saying that I was sure he was okay, I was running late to a meeting, I had three students in the car and I shouldn't make them stop. These were all excuses. I know I should have stopped to help him. The fact that I am writing about this a week later and still thinking about it is another indication I should have stopped.
I started thinking about the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10. I had always thought of myself as the person who would stop and help someone in need. But here I was acting like the priest or the Levite and passing by on the other side. I literally moved over, just as they had in the parable, to get by and not stop.
I love the last line of the parable that Jesus told. In verse 37 it says, "Go and do likewise." There wasn't a condemnation of the people who had just passed on by, there was simply an instruction. The people were told to act in the way the Good Samaritan did. My hope is that the next time I come across a situation like this I can listen to the voice that is telling me to stop and follow the instruction to "go and do likewise."
During the summer months I cherish the time I get to spend with my wife. As I get back to my job at school we have less time together, but that isn’t the big change. The big shift actually happens when Mia goes back to work.
My wife is an amazing speaker and worship leader, and for the last several years has been a part of the Aspire Women’s Event which tours the country. She is the host of the evening as well as singing and speaking at these events.
This fall she will be in 31 different cities. This is an amazing opportunity, but as she travels it means she won’t be home during those times. I looked at the calendar today and realized she will be out of town 49 out of 73 days between September 13th and November 24th.
Sometimes we enter periods of our life when we feel like we are separate from God, spending a lot of time on our own. James 4:8 reminds us, “Come near to God and He will come near to you…” At those times when we feel alone or separated from God He calls us to seek Him and He is there.
Over the next few months I know my wife and I will often be in separate parts of the country. I also know she is only a phone call, text or Facetime call away. God is even closer. You don’t need modern technology. He is with you through everything, just come close to Him. I hope you can cherish the time you get with our loving Father while being assured that the time with Him never has to come to an end and you never have to feel separate from God again.
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.
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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