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Showing posts from March, 2010

The Lord's Students

I like thinking about Jesus as a teacher. Perhaps a pastor likes to think about Jesus as a preacher, but since I am a teacher, I like to think about him in teaching terms. Why? Because it gives me hope, especially when I get down on myself as a teacher, when I think of myself as being ineffective. Jesus was perfect in all that he did, but it seemed like he didn't get perfect results. Phew! If the perfect teacher didn't get perfect results, why would I expect to do any better when I am an imperfect human being? My goodness! If the Son of God - God Almighty clothed in human flesh - could not reach all of his students despite living among them for three straight years, is it realistic for me to expect to reach all my students when I see them for only 6 hours a day for 180 days, at best? I may give my very best effort and not succeed. This is not an excuse to give up or, God forbid, not even try to reach every student. No! Ephesians 6:13 says, "having done all," and as S…

The Medium is the Message

I have a lot on my mind today that I could write about and I am not certain where writing this blog will take me, so be patient, dear reader, and come along with me as we discover where God directs my thoughts.

I had a lot of time to think while I was away in Hungary for two weeks. I was out of my familiar surroundings and away from the people I usually see, sleeping in hotel beds, eating different foods, observing different routines, and largely unconnected via phone or computer to my regular network of contacts. It was a time to read education books, listen to God as He spoke in the conference sessions, and make new connections with people that I either had not known before or had only a passing acquaintance with. I discovered that I am basically the same person no matter where I go, but time away with God showed me things about myself that I might never have realized if I had stayed home those two weeks.

Perhaps the most important lesson I learned was the power of modeling. No, not m…

No Sweater

I think spring has arrived in Budapest because my eyes are itching and I have been sneezing like it is hay fever season. There was a big spring cleaning event here in the city this past week. Citizens could bring anything they wanted to get rid of and pile it beside the curb. I contributed to this pile one day when one of my beloved gray V-neck sweaters and I parted ways. It all started when Ben Tanguay graciously bought me a delicious gyro sandwich and I gracelessly managed to spill most of its tangy, brown juices down the front of my sweater. I took the sweater off in a bathroom and tried to clean it; the stain was mostly gone, but the smell remained. When I had done the best I could, I began walking back to my hotel to change my polo shirt, which had also absorbed some of the gyro juice despite being under the sweater when the spill occurred. I was carrying the soggy sweater over my shoulder when it slipped away unnoticed. Somewhere along the way, perhaps when I pulled my iPod out …

Destinations and Conclusions

I spoke to a group of Hungarian teachers the other day in Budapest, Hungary. I arrived to the classroom late, because an ambassadorial motorcade proceeding through the city brought all other traffic to a standstill until it was safely past, and the car bringing me to the school where I was scheduled to speak was part of the standstill for a while. Once in the classroom, I did not know how to begin. I had gathered some thoughts together on the ride to the school, but when I stood up to address the teachers assembled before me, all those thoughts flew out the door and waited in the hallway for me to recall them. I had a vague notion of where I wanted to go with my ideas, but no idea how I was supposed to get there.

This reminded me of when I got off the subway train at the Kalvin ter stop here in Budapest where I was confronted by multiple exits, not knowing which set of stairs would lead me up to the place I desired to be. After a few false starts, I eventually learned which stairway wo…

McDonald's is McDonald's

How's that for an odd blog title? It's the first thought that came to mind as I sat to write today at 5:52 p.m. Budapest time. I ate lunch at the McDonald's restaurant across the tram tracks and busy street from where I have been staying recently, and the meal was about the same as what I would have expected from the McDonald's near my home in Baltimore, except that the atmosphere was nicer and a woman came and took my tray out of my hands when I could not find a trash receptacle for my used paper goods. It turns out that she clears all the tables and disposes of all the trash in a trash can hidden behind a counter where she also cleans the plastic trays. I have, by necessity, eaten at McDonald's restaurants in many countries throughout the world (it seems that Greater Grace pastors like to hold rap sessions in them), and I always find myself experiencing a laxative effect from my meal. Yes, that may be too much information, and yes, I did consider leaving it out, …

As the boss sleeps...

It is nearly 11 p.m. here in Budapest as I begin writing this blog entry. Four feet away from me, Pastor Lange is snoozing and sometimes snoring. He conked out early. I think it's because of the soccer game he played this afternoon at GGIS (Greater Grace International School) where he helped the staff team defeat the student team and win a dress-down day for the staff this coming Thursday. He played hard, so now he needs some rest to rejuvenate before the demands of tomorrow arrive on his doorstep. I sit here with Matt Redmond singing to me through the earbuds plugged into my iPod - "We lift up our eyes, lift up our eyes, You're the giver of life. You alone can rescue, You alone can save. You alone can lift us from the grave. You came down to find us, led us out of death.To you alone belongs the highest praise." Awesome song!

I connected with Nate McFarland via Google Chat today around noon and heard that there was a request that I write another entry in my blog. I ha…

Thoughts while folding laundry

The other day I noticed that the uniform exchange basket was full, so I decided that I would bring home the uniform pieces and launder them so that others in need of shirts and skirts and such could adopt them. I managed to manhandle the myriad articles of clothing into the back seat of my car and then juggle them up the steps and into my home where I spilled them on the floor beside the washing machine. The jumble of maroon, black, white, and gray at my feet needed sorting, so I began with the maroon colored items, since there seemed to be more of them. Short-sleeved polos, long-sleeved polos, cardigan sweaters, and a single maroon plaid skirt all were tossed into the warm, sudsy water for a bath, and the black pants and skirts joined them to fill out the load. Once these clothes were clean, they went into the dryer and it was time for the gray and white shirts and sweatshirts to bathe.

I wasn't paying much attention to the clothing beyond its colors and washing instructions until…

Just Done It.

I am attempting to read the Bible in a year with an online program called You Version Bible that parcels out daily readings for me from three portions - two from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. Lately I have been traveling along with Moses and the children of Israel through the book of Exodus, and we are currently constructing the tabernacle in the wilderness. This requires multiple chapters to accomplish.

God first has to give the plans to Moses, and they are quite detailed, involving measurements and materials and design specifications for curtains and altars, lamp stands and the laver, incense and perfume, clothing, and the ark of the covenant. Although God does not go into great detail about certain creative elements of the project, he says to Moses that he has gifted certain men as craftsmen and artisans and that they will be able to make exactly what God has in mind.

Next comes the collection of materials from the people of Israel - gold, silver, bronze, precious…