Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Love Story continued ...

(Back to the story after the Anniversary post and long break from posting.)

We arrived in North Carolina in late July or early August (can’t quite remember which is driving me nuts). As we moved in, as I began my job and as we found a church, we discovered “we really aren’t in Kansas anymore”. One of the first evidences of that was … as I got close to our home in Greensboro, North Carolina I pulled into a Wendy’s and went to the drive through. I quickly gave my order and there was a long pause, then the voice in the box said (should be read with a heavy southern accent) “Could you repeat that please?”. We moved in and I began my job at a Building and Supply company while still applying for teaching jobs.

We were definitely fish out of our normal waters. Our lack of accent made us stand and we were learning that there were phrases that we didn’t understand and to most people we were considered foreigners. We were adjusting to a southern summer. The heat and humidity in July and August were brutal. At work at the Building and Supply company I spent a lot of time outdoors in the lumberyard, but the worst was when semi loads of fiberglass insulation arrived and I had to unload it in that heat and humidity. I had to wear long sleeves because of the fiberglass so that made it doubly miserable.

We were enjoying our church but even there we felt a little like foreigners with many of the people. We got very involved and worked mainly with the teens. My brother was the pastor there when we arrived and it was great to have family around. Jody was adjusting to a new culture. She was home with a toddler and was pregnant so it was not an easy adjustment. She also did not adjust to the language differences very well. I was hearing the phrases and the accents all day so I adjust rather quickly and our son sounded like a southerner in no time. We were living in a townhouse apartment with little furniture, but it had a pool which was a plus.

Through my work I met a man who was an Assistant Superintendent at a large nearby school district. He liked me and told to call a certain man and tell him that this guy told me to call and make an appointment for an interview. I was amazed at how quickly it happened but since school had already started I didn’t hold out much hope. I was asked if I was willing to teach Special Education and coach. I had some experience from a couple of other jobs with teens with physical and mental handicaps so I said sure I was willing. A teacher quit 6 weeks into the school year, that should have been a clue to me as to how difficult that position was, and I was offered the job. I jumped at it and began my teaching career.

My first hint at the uniqueness of the position was that my classroom did not have entrance from inside the school. You had to go outside the building to come through the door to my room. There was no plan for the subjects for the school year and I would be teaching science and math to a large group of 7th, 8th, and 9th graders with special needs in an inner city school. So I jumped in full force and starting teaching. I was excited to be teaching and got a position as the Assistant Junior Varsity boys basketball coach at the High School.

The pay period was once a month and when I began meant that it would be 6 weeks before my first check. I continued to work at the Building and Supply place on weekends and a few evenings so we could have a little food and pay our rent. When that first check arrived we were ready to celebrate but …

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Musings ...

We had a great day yesterday. There was a tremendous spirit in whole worship service. I was privileged to dedicate a precious baby. We had a moving video reminder of the events from 10 years ago. We had a very good attendance. We had a fun small group meeting last night.

The message was from Malachi 3:16-18 with focus on the part of verse 16 "A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence ...". There have been many tributes to those who lost their lives on 9/11 and many of them had a scrolling list of those who died. I reminded everyone that there are many lists in our lives. There are Christmas lists, to-do lists, honey do lists, waiting lists, call back lists, and many more. But the most important list is God's list of those who have answered his call to repentance and have accepted his forgiveness and salvation.

The scriptures reminds that God claims his own. It is a powerful thing to be claimed. To be identified with those you love and who love you. To recognize God's call and hear him say that you are his child. These are powerful things. In this passage we see that God shares that you can identify those who belong to him because they serve the Lord. Raising your hand, filling out a card, reciting a prayer are beginning steps but service is the real mark of identity. To get on God's list we need to fear and honor the Lord, and then serve him with our lives.

You need to realize that God is calling you, that he desire to claim you as his child and that he has a plan for you.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Monday Musings ...

Yesterday was another good day. We surprisingly good attendance for Labor Day weekend, thanks mainly to one family having a mini reunion. The spirit in the service was good and the congregation seemed very engaged in the whole service.

The sermon was from Romans 5:20-6:4 and asked the question "Where is the increase?" According to this scripture you have two choices for something to increase in your life, sin or grace. Which do suppose God wants to see increase in your life?

Sin is missing the mark, missing the goal that God has laid out for you, it is living for self instead of by God' Word and Will. This is obviously not God's desire. But there are those who would use the logic that God loves to forgive and man loves to sin so to make God happy we should sin more so God will be happy. Lousy logic and certainly against scripture. Evidently some were asking the question of Paul. His answer, "by no means!", he answered with emphasis.

Grace, we cannot produce grace, this comes from God to us. It is unmerited , we don't deserve it and can't earn it. G.W. Knight said, "When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day's pay for his time, that is a wage. When a person competes withan an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements, that is an award. But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award -- yet receives such a gift anyway -- that is a good picture of God's unmerited favor. This is what we mean when we talk about the grace of God." To have grace increase in our life means dying to sin and self. A crucifying of ourselves and our sin, a choice you must make for yourself. It means living in grace through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is not possible on our own power. This means living according to God's Word. Not our word, but God's Word must be our guide. Not what feels good to us, but what is right according to God's Word. This means living a new life. Accepting God's forgiveness and salvation means we need to live differently, a new life as Romans 6:4 says. It is a contradiction to claim to accept and follow Christ and then live as you did before you followed Christ. We are to live for Christ not for self, which means we differently once we choose to follow Christ.

What is increasing in your life? What needs to increase?

Here's hoping you have a terrific holiday. Enjoy some rest, some special time with Christ, some family time and something off the grill.