St. Patrick’s Day: Rifts and Reconciliation

St. Patrick’s Day is a light-hearted celebration day. At least in the States. Everyone wants to be Irish. All the things, clothes, and food are green. Or you’ll get pinched.

I even gave into the spirit of the day. Irish Pandora playing (Chieftains for the win!) while I baked scones donned in a green shirt. My Irish great- uncle would be proud. Or at least amused.

Throughout the day, I’ve been thinking about the more serious, tragic themes of St. Patrick’s story and the reasons behind the green and orange colors: slavery, religious wars, paganism, Patrick’s own animosity to his Creator. These in turn remind me of the rifts I see today. Dissent and polarization in politics, denominations, and even families. Slavery still to be eradicated. Hate-filled wars continue. People still reject their Creator.

But then there are other themes from St. Patrick’s story: Patrick’s reconciliation to God, his forgiveness and missionary work for his former enslavers, freedom from paganism for those who believed in Christ.

Patrick’s story that reminds me of Joseph in the Bible. And Paul. In these stories and more throughout history, God has shown himself powerful to work even in the bleakest, most hopeless situations. And His purposes led to life for his people, even when it seems all is lost.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis‬ ‭50:20‬

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬ ‭

That gives me hope for the rifts today. Hope to pray for reconciliation. Hope that God is still at work. Hope to keep doing the work he gives.

Sunday Song: I Will Sing of my Redeemer

The book of Psalms is a great gift. It teaches us to remember, to trust, to cry out, to rejoice… in song.

When troubles, worries, temptations, and frustrations take hold, when I can’t see past tomorrow’s responsibilities or today’s failures, when I’m gladdened with deep joy and contentment, my soul needs most to remember Christ’s great sacrifice on my behalf. And from that remembrance, my soul and body must join together and sing.

By God’s grace, arranged and played by Katie

Thanks and credit to Marianne Kim who inspired the introduction.

To love and good works

“Look Miss W. I put the encouragement up on the board so that everyone would know to do their best job today.” -G, 5th grade

I smiled at his sweet sincerity and helpfulness. I was also a little disconcerted. Had he known that Hebrews 19:24 was that morning’s “verse of the day” on my Bible app?

It got me to thinking. I had to ask myself about what stirs up my heart – especially as a teacher- to endure in loving others and doing good, even when I’m tired and discouraged. A couple things came to mind. Admittedly, it feels disjointed, but it is a beginning of the beautiful canvas of hope painted in Scripture. So, disjointed thoughts or not, I want to share in hopes that it can encourage us all to love and good works today.

The love of God

“God loves his people. If you are a believer in Christ Jesus, trusting only in His merits, God loves you as surely as He is God. There is no question about the matter. His divine love is yours as certainly as His power is displayed in creation. Set God’s lovingkindness before your eyes. Think of His faithfulness! God’s lovingkindness never pauses. It is as constant as the flight of time. Never a moment but there has been love for that moment. Never an hour but there has been that hour’s portion of lovingkindness.” C.H. Spurgeon

Since I am loved out of a never-ending abundance of pure, perfect love, I am free to pour out that love on my students and others, not worrying about keeping back for myself. May God use the conviction of His steadfast love to increase my patience and kindness- in short- my loving actions. May His love empower my mouth to speak gracious words that build up, my eyes to shine kindness, my posture and tone to show His patience. Out of the divine security of resting in his love, may my classroom hold security for the children who enter.

God’s Presence

God goes with me today and everyday. He has promised to never leave nor forsake His children. So I can go back to our classrooms and say “God is in this place” and know He is. He is just as much with me when I’m walking to pick up copies as He is when I am dealing with a student’s battle of the will, or talking with a parent, or writing (more) lesson plans, or trying to get 5th graders excited about writing a summary… again. The presence of God gives me joy that doesn’t depend on my circumstances. May that knowledge make me smile and laugh and take joy in the presence of God today. May my students get to share in that joy.

“Surely His goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.” Ps. 23

That includes today. May the recurring refrain of my daily thoughts not be worry or resentment, but the thanksgiving of remembering:

God is so good, he cares for me, he loves me, he is with me.

For days to come

May the Holy Spirit always bring to my mind the words of the Bible so that I can get through each day strengthened (because of his power!) to bear good fruit and “work good work” as one of my students says. May I always delight to remember that in the faithfulness of God I have “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” (hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness)

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9 NIV

Saturday Song: Jesus What a Friend for Sinners

Jesus! what a friend for sinners!
Jesus! lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Jesus! what a strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him;
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my strength, my vict’ry wins.

Jesus! what a help in sorrow!
While the billows o’er me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my comfort, helps my soul.

Jesus! what a guide and keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night o’ertakes me,
He, my pilot, hears my cry.

Jesus! I do now receive Him,
More than all in Him I find,
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am His, and He is mine.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

By God’s grace, arranged and played by Katie

Saturday Song: It Is Well

How was your week? Was it long? Busy? How about just plain rough? One of those weeks that seems like its only purpose is to remind a person how many things could go awry.

Sin. Temptations. Bad attitudes.

Sickness. Car trouble. Plumbing trouble. 

Hurt. Relational drama. Forgiveness withheld. Bitterness.

Stress. Expectations. Fear. Anxiety.

In the middle of one of those weeks, I had one word given to me: perspective. That’s what all rough weeks need. Perspective.

That word drove me to Psalms. There I saw that my perspective is all too often on the things going wrong below. I spend so much time looking to the left and right of me, that I forget to look up.

But David did. (And he was having more than a rough week.)

The unfolding of your words gives light: it imparts understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments. Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name. Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me. Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your precepts. Make your face to shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes. Psalm 119: 130-135

Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true. Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight. Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live. Psalm 119: 142-144

In the middle of all trouble, big or small, there is…

  • Help from the Maker of Heaven and Earth (Psalm 121)
  • Steadfast love (Psalm 136)
  • Forgiveness and Full Redemption (Psalm 130)

In the middle of great sorrow, the Holy Spirit poured out remembrance of these truths to Horatio G. Spafford, who penned the words to “It is Well”. (Read the story and lyrics here.)

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll:
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul.

And Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Other lesser known verses:

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

By God’s grace, arranged and played by Katie

 

 

 

He Ordained Peace

 

 

O LORD, you will ordain peace for us; you have done for us all our works. Isaiah 26:12

Peace.

I doubt whether there is anything so sought after or valued in this world. Peacemakers are commended, both in Scripture and by society.

Why, then, is there not peace? War and conflict spread overwhelmingly and unceasingly around the world, which begs the question, “Is complete peace possible?”

And yet, God promised peace in Isaiah. Even more than that, the Sovereign Lord decreed, commanded, ordained that it should be so. Peace for us.

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
         And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:13-14

Around 700 years after Isaiah told of God’s promised peace, angels descended on the hills of Bethlehem to declare that peace had come to those of God’s favor.  What peace was this? This peace was Jesus, the Christ, who did our works for us. The Messiah who was our righteousness, became our sin, took our judgment, and delivered us from death.

And he ordained for us peace. Peace with God the Father through forgiveness. Peace because Christ has overcome this world — including sin and death. Peace that guards our hearts and minds. He is the Prince of Peace. Since it is his sovereignty that has ordained peace, peace must, therefore, be ours.

That must also mean, then, that wars and sin struggles are not the end. Senseless violence will not endure.

God has ordained peace.  By His Spirit we have peace with our God that our hearts can feel even in this war-torn world. By His perfect peace and strength may we persevere as peacemakers even as we await the fulfillment of time when the people at peace with God will live in a world of peace.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you; because he trusts in you.

Trust in the LORD forever, for the the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:3-4

 

 

Saturday Song: Glorious Impossible

“How will this be,” she asked.

“Who then can be saved?”

Impossible…That’s what we would say.  Impossible that a virgin should give birth to a son. Impossible that God would take on human flesh and come to walk on the earth He created. Impossible for the dead to live again.

“With man it is impossible, but not with God.  For all things are possible with God.”

Even today, God makes the impossible a reality.  “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” So, it is by grace we are saved, through faith, which is a gift of God and not our own doing.

Glorious impossible made possible with God.

Glorious Impossible:

See the virgin is delivered / In a cold and crowded stall / Mirror of the Father’s glory / Lies beside her in the straw

He is mercy’s incarnation / Marvel at this miracle / For the virgin gently holds the / Glorious impossible

Love has come to walk on water / Turn the water into wine / Touch the leper, bless the children / Love both human and divine

Praise the wisdom of the Father / Who has spoken through His Son / Speaking still, He calls us to the / Glorious impossible

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah / Glorious impossible Glorious impossible

He was bruised for our transgressions / And He bears eternal scars / He was raised for our salvation / And His righteousness is ours

Praise, oh, praise Him, praise the glory / Of this lavish grace so full / Lift your souls now and receive the / Glorious impossible