I believe in teachers.

I believe in the power of teachers to change lives. I believe in the power of education to change families. I believe that teachers can inspire, motivate, uplift, correct, and improve their students. I believe that I am a better person because of the teachers I have had in my life.

I believe that the profession of teaching is one that demands the greatest respect. I believe we will change the world when we spend more money on education than we spend on war. I believe we should pay teachers, at all levels, a wage that reflects the invaluable impact they have on all our lives.

I believe in the power of teaching. I believe in the power of learning. I believe teaching is the most important profession. I believe in you, teachers. I believe you make a difference. You do.


My Completetly Unoriginal Thoughts on Child Immigrants

To the Christians, I say, 
“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’” 
Matthew 19:14 NKJV

To the ‘Muricans, I say,
“Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for Your name’s sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your strong hand and Your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this temple, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name. 
I Kings 8:41-43 NKJV

To the Christian ‘yeah, but, in the Old Testament,’ I say,
“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” 
Exodus 20:21, NIV

“Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.” 
Exodus 23:9, NIV

To the true lovers of liberty, I say,
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 
Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus, posted on the base of the Statue of Liberty


One Despite Division

An image of the Church - many names, one entity.When I first read it and really thought about it, I was sad and I was hopeful. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

Jesus prayed for something I had never thought of Christians being – one. I asked a preacher about it. I looked for information on it. How could the church be one? There are so many different denominations, faiths, followers, and leaders. Paul admonished the Corinthians not to follow Peter, Paul, Apollos or anyone else but Jesus. That made sense to me, and gave me a certain sense of pride. After all, I was raised in the Church of Christ, not the church of Francis or Martin or John the Baptist (until the day she died, my mom was convinced that Baptists worshiped John the Baptist).

The answer for the Church of Christ, at least in the era and congregation of my raising, was that there is, indeed, only one church, and it is the church of Christ. Everyone else had doctrine or practice wrong, I was taught, and therefore was not part of the church of Christ. They were not real Christians.

Since then, my eyes have opened to the idea that my church, your church, even that other guy’s church – we all have something or other wrong. Not only that, but I believe that with most of those errors, like any of our sins, God the Merciful is going to save us anyway.

So what do we do with all of the name-calling – the Baptists, the Anabaptists, the Catholics, the Orthodox, the Christians, the Disciples, the Assemblies, the Pentecostals, the Methodists, the – well, you get the idea. We have so clearly divided ourselves by name and practice, by doctrine and by belief. Some do this, some do that, and some play with snakes (which I do think is weird), each basing their beliefs on the same set of holy scriptures. With all of this division, can there ever be unity?

I really wrestled with this idea. I mean, sure, sometimes my prayers didn’t get answered the way I wanted. But I’m me. This was Jesus’ prayer, and from my understanding, He has more of an in than I do. Sure God might give me a different answer than I expect, but this is His Son, who is One with Himself, and really ought to understand what He’s praying for.

What if Jesus’ prayer has been answered with, “Yes?” What if we are one, despite the name-calling? What if, regardless of our perceived divisions, in Christ, we are, in fact, one? What if I am eternally and spiritually joined to John Newton, author of Amazing Grace, and an (gasp!) Anglican? What if my soul is one with Christ and with Francis of Assisi?

What if being one is something, not to seek, but instead to recognize?

What if, just what if, Jesus wasn’t praying out of wishful thinking, but instead was proclaiming that we followers of Christ really are one entity working to make this world a better place? How would that change the way we interact with believers who claim a different creed, but also claim the same Christ? Think about it – we ARE one, even if we try to divide ourselves.

I can say for a fact that this attitude has changed my life. I no longer try to convert Baptists or Methodists. I try now (though I fail) to be Jesus to everyone.

NOTE: I’m not talking about Universalism here. Jesus talked more about Hell than anyone in the Bible, and I’m pretty sure some people are going there.


Just Help Other People

Last night, I was honored to dine with Bob (Dr. Robert S. Hunter), the well-known, former State Representative from Texas. Bob is a long-time leader and proponent for Abilene Christian University. As Director of University Events, he began the annual Homecoming Musical and Sing Song. He helped to raise millions of dollars for the university. After more than 20 years in the Texas House of Representatives, he finally retired from politics and returned to work at ACU as Senior Vice President Emeritus. His distinguished career is more than most would ever aspire to accomplish, and his smile still brims broadly across his face despite his acclaim.

As I talked with Bob, he told me of his history at ACU, in the legislature, and in Rotary. He kept repeating one phrase over and over. “You just help other people.” That was the theme of the conversation, and seems to be the theme of his life.

Jesus said this: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Zig Ziglar said this: “”You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
My friend, and fellow Rotarian, Bob Hunter says this: “You just help other people.”

Simple words. Simple purpose. Dynamic man. Thank you for the lesson, Bob.


Sunday Afternoon Free Write

Thank you God. Thank you for cold toes that get warmed up. Thank you for the technology you have allowed to develop that makes writing on this computer possible. Thank you for giving people such creative minds, kind of like yours. Thank you for creating me. Thank you for creating my wife and giving us to each other. Thank you for the many luxuries I have. Thank you for the simple things, like a Sunday afternoon free write, a cup of hot tea with honey, clean air, pigeons, all the little birds all over, tigers and lions and bears, thank you for us having so much stuff we need storage spaces and bags to carry stuff in. Thank you that I am not starving today. Thank you for the many organizations I can join with that feed people. Thank you for the opportunities I have to do good. Thank you for HOPE Church. Thank you for hope. Thank you for my friends and my 140. Thank you for your goodness. Thank you for different cultures that seek you. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for the Spirit. Thank you for songs about both. Thank you for my beating heart, my loving family, smiling, pleasure, and pain. Thank you for salvation. Thank you for what is to come. Thank you God!


This Day

I begin anew this year.
I begin anew this month.
I begin anew this day.

I choose not to look at it as “this time.”
“This time” looks backwards.
“This time” recalls my failure.
“This time” produces my doubt.
“This time” prepares my excuse.

“This time” is not my focus. This day is my focus. I cannot change the past, and I am not bound by my successes or failures in the past. But today, right now, I have control of myself. I have self-control. It is by choice that I use this self-control to eat well and exercise. All I have is right now. All I have is this day.

This is the day that the Lord has made.
This day, I will exercise.
This day, I will defeat temptation.
This day, I will eat tasty food.
This day, I will eat less than I could.
This day, I will eat all that I need.
This day, I will honor God with my body.
This is the day that the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice, and be glad in it!


Valuing Education – Celebrating Mr. Harris

*This is part of a series of posts celebrating teachers, those who shape our lives and provide education, for education is a powerful force for peace in our world. It is meant, in part, to answer the question, “What if we spent more money on education than on war?”

Wrestling was a big sport at my school, and Mr. Harris was a popular coach. But he didn’t teach me a thing about wrestling, as I didn’t wrestle. What Mr. Harris taught me was strength.

At probably 50 years old, Mr. Harris was stacked. This man had kept himself in bodybuilder condition. He could still do pushups with his feet lodged on a wall.

Physical strength was not what he taught me, however. Mr. Harris was my Driver’s Education teacher. It was 9th grade, and I was 14 years old, old enough to get a restricted license in Kansas. Mr. Harris taught us to drive defensively and safely (my wife later enforced these lessons, as I was reckless).

Mr. Harris was one of the teachers shot in 1985 by Alan Kearbey, a student who came to school with the intention of shooting. Mr. Harris tried to get Kearbey to relinquish his guns, and was shot for it (though not fatally).

Six years later, he was still teaching. He was still physically strong. And, oh, did he have a sense of humor! He began class each day with a silly joke from a Laffy Taffy wrapper. He loved to laugh at silliness. He never told dirty, racist, sexist, or otherwise inappropriate jokes. He just loved to laugh.

The first Gulf War took place that year, and he allowed us to watch CNN sometimes in class. We were witnesses to the most public war that had ever been waged, and he knew this was historic. We learned that America was strong. He was wise to let us witness it.

But Mr. Harris’s strength, the strength he taught me, had nothing to do with physical strength, driving, humor, or war. His strength was his gentleness. He was a victim of violence, physically strong, wise, witty, and one of the most gentle people I have ever had the privilege to know. His gentleness, his self-control, this was the strength he taught me.

I hope to continually become more like Mr. Harris. I am grateful he was my teacher.

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