Monday, April 20, 2015

Message from Faith Daniels, MS Drama Teacher

Comfort in Affliction

"They will see My Face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me."
Hosea 5:15

O My People, has not My hand fashioned for you many signs and wonders? Have I not ministered to you in miraculous ways? How is it you say therefore in your hearts, "I will turn again to human strength"? How often have I spoken to you, and never failed to keep My word? Will you not, then, trust Me now in this new emergency, even as you have trusted Me in the past?

Your need is greater this time, and so I have made the testing more acute. I strengthen you in the furnace of affliction, and purify your soul in the fires of pain.

Lean hard upon me, for I bring you through to new victories, and restoration shall follow what seems not to be a wind of destruction.

Hold fast to My hand, and rest in My love, for of this you may be very certain. My love is unaltered; yes, I have you in My own intensive care. My concern for you is deeper now than when things are normal.

Draw upon the resources of My grace, and so shall you be equipped to communicate peace and confidence to your dear ones. Heaven rejoices when you go through trials with a singing spirit. Your father's heart is cheered when you endure the test and do not question His mercy.

Be like a beacon light. His own glorious radiance shall shine through you, and Christ Himself will be revealed.

Excerpt from
Come Away
My Beloved

Frances J. Roberts

Monday, April 13, 2015

Message from Ryan Stephens, Middle & High School Teacher

It’s interesting, in 1 Samuel 8:1-22 we read that God is saddened when the elders of Israel request a king. Yet in Deuteronomy 17:14-20, God had already given permission and laws concerning how a future king was to conduct his rule. Furthermore, in Genesis 17:6 God had already promised Abraham that “kings would come from him.”

The obvious question is, why is God upset at the request for a king in 1 Samuel when all along God has been paving the way for a king?

The answer is that in 1 Samuel God is not angry that they asked for a king. Rather, he is angry about the kind of king they are asking for. In 1 Samuel 8:20 we read that the main reason Israel wanted a king was so that they could have a “leader in battle” who would fight for them. Now is becomes clear why God is hurt by their request. All through Scripture one of the common themes is that God wants his people to know that when they are faithful He will fight for them. God wants to be our warrior, our savior, our redeemer. God wants his people to look to him in times of trouble, not to their own strength. Over and over again from Gen-Judges God showed his people, against the worst of odds, what happens when his people trust him to lead. Abraham rescuing Lot, the Exodus, Joshua in Canaan, and the Judges.

Going back to Samuel then, we can see that the problem was not with having a king, the problem was with asking for a king who would take God’s position rather than for a king who would understand that his role is as servant to the Great King.

As a reminder for us today, may we look to God as our warrior, our savior, our strength. May our leaders trust God to lead, and submit to Him as servant under His rule. And may we find security and contentment in our God who promises to fight for His people even when the odds seem insurmountable

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26

Monday, April 6, 2015

Message from Lauren Scharnweber, Elementary Teacher

“For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:18-20)

I am currently rereading Francis Chan’s book “Crazy Love” (if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it!). It has made me start thinking a lot more about heaven. Too often I find myself getting caught up in today. I tend to stay very busy and have lots of checklists. Although most of these commitments are “good”, they distract me from setting my mind “on things that are above”. Chan writes, “A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions, or commitments are piled on top… Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven. Daily life is mostly focused on today's to-do list, this week's schedule, and next month's vacation.” (pp. 67 & 75) My challenge to you today is to stop getting distracted by earthly things and remember that your citizenship is in heaven! “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2) Everything you do, every time you’re stressed or anxious, ask yourself “How does this affect me in light of eternity?” If we really did this, I think it would truly transform how we live our lives!

C. S. Lewis wrote, “If you read history you will find the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this”.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Message from Jennifer Saraceno, High School Teacher

In this season of resurrection, many of us often choose to focus on the living Christ, the one who is risen and has taken our sin. I know for me in past years the only time I think about the pain of Christ and how much he had to sacrifice and lower himself to save us is during an Easter play. This year I decided to really spend time with Christ on the Cross, by reading the accounts of his death and resurrection according in all four gospels.  Each one tells the story but each shares a specific detail or wisdom that is not shared by the others. I have found this year I have really started to appreciate the true spirit of this season, which is not the resurrection but the selflessness of a humbled God. 

Let’s take a look at Jesus on the cross according to the Gospels. 

Scripture says, “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.” (Luke 23:33)

Calvary’s Hill. Two thieves—gaunt and pale. With the cynicism of most of the crowd, one calls out, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself, and us too, while you’re at it!”

The other in defense says, “Don’t you even fear God when you are dying? We deserve to die, but this man hasn’t done one thing wrong.”

Lodged in the thief’s statement are what anyone needs to recognize in order to come to Jesus. Jesus is not on that cross for his sins. He is there for ours! And the thief on the cross makes the same request any Christian makes, “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom!”

On Calvary’s Hill, Christ lifts his heavy head toward the heavens crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). We would ask the same. Why him? Why forsake your son? Forsake the murderers. Desert the evildoers. Abandon them, not him.

What did Jesus feel on the cross? The icy displeasure of a sin-hating God. Why? Because Jesus carried our sins in His body. With hands nailed open, he invited God, “Treat me as you would treat them.” And God did. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Why did God scream those words? So you will never have to!

“It is finished.” Jesus cried! Stop and listen. Can you imagine the cry from the cross? What was finished? The history-long plan of redeeming man. The message of God to man. The works done by Jesus as a man on earth were finished.

Had Jesus’ hands not been fastened down, I dare say that a triumphant fist would have punched the dark sky. This is no cry of despair. It is a cry of completion. A cry of victory. A cry of fulfillment. Yes, even a cry of relief. “Take me home.” Come, ten thousand angels! Come and take this wounded one to the cradle of his Father’s arms.

Farewell, manger’s infant. Yes, take him home. Take this Son to his Father. He deserves a rest. Bless you, holy ambassador. Go home, rest well. The battle is over! It is finished.

This synopsis was provided by Max Lucado from On Calvary’s Hill.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Message from Jim Callahan, High School Teacher

23 “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” Luke 9:23-25 ESV

I would like to call your attention to the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. I trust that we have heard this before, but we all need to be reminded of this again and again. The cost is self-denial and cross bearing. I would like to focus our attention on self-denial. Normally, there is no theoretical problem with self-denial, we clearly know what it is; however there is an enormous practical problem here --- it is much, much easier said than done. Because we live in a sinful world, things often do not run smoothly. We experience major hardships resulting from people who forget stuff, break promises, lie, cheat, steal, do poor quality work, use and abuse others and simply do not love their neighbor as themselves. The sinful human heart often lusts for personal vengeance in hardship situations resulting from others having “done us dirty.” An important aspect of self-denial in these types of situations is turning over vengeance to the Lord and nailing to the cross the resentment and hostility that goes alone with pay back desires. As individuals, we are not to return evil for evil. May God by His grace enable us to deny ourselves in these types of hardship situations.   

Monday, March 2, 2015

Message from Katie McNeely, High School Teacher

Peace Like a River

As a natural worry wart and control freak, I struggle with submitting to God.  I struggle with the concept of allowing someone else to control what I do and when I do it.  With this being said, God has made the concept of peace quite prevalent in my life.  

When I was in my teaching program, I started struggling with giving up control.  I was given the calling of being a teacher when I was 6 years old.  When I finally got into the teaching program, it was a dream come true and nothing was going to stop me.  God had other plans.  It took me 7 times to pass my California teacher’s test.  Even though I had felt this calling on my life, I felt like God was trying to give me a sign that I was no longer supposed to be a teacher.  This caused great confusion in my life and I was left feeling empty.  With support and advice from friends and family, I did not give up. The final time I took my test, I walked out knowing I had most likely failed the test.  It left me so discouraged.  I immediately started praying asking God to give me a sign for what He wants me to do and to allow me to trust Him.  After that prayer, I felt a peace and I decided it was time to give Him control.  The week I was supposed to find out if I passed my test, PC called me and asked me if I wanted a job.  I was so overwhelmed by joy and excitement at this clear sign God had given me.  2 days later, I had found out I passed my final test and was officially certified to teach. Once I gave up control, God was allowed to work. 

This is a lot like the Israelites.  So many times God asked for them to trust Him and He would guide them.  However, they did not want to listen to Him because they thought their own ways were better than God’s.  

Isaiah 48:17-18 is a clear example of the God yearning for the Israelites to listen. “This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.  If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.

PC as a whole has had many tumultuous events this past year.  As a first year teacher, it has been overwhelming at times.  However, God has given me a complete peace about everything and I feel he has truly lead us through it all.  When we listen and wait for His voice, He will clearly direct His people.  It is when we chose our own way that we get lost in the chaos.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Message from Nathan de Laet, Middle School Teacher

          Any time I am asked to speak on spiritual matters, I get a little nervous. Discussing the deep love and mystery that is our God always leaves me apprehensive about misrepresenting the indescribable. 

This weekend I went to church still looking for what message of encouragement I was to deliver. To be honest, I had an incredibly difficult time focusing during worship. I was singing, praying, and focusing on the words, but I still was unable to establish that connection with the Lord I desire and experience during worship. Then the band began to play “Bless the Lord”. As I sang with the church the lines “Bless the Lord, O my soul. Worship His holy name”, the focus was shifted from me to worshiping the Lord of creation. Encouragement swelled over me, and I wanted to share. 

I looked up the psalm from which the song is derived, and I found Psalm 103. In this piece of art written by David and inspired by God, we are reminded and encouraged of all the great attributes of God. It is a longer work, so I will not include all of it; however, I encourage you to read it on your own. Instead, in current internet form, I will share with you the greatest attributes of God included in Psalm 103.

1.     He forgives all your sins (103:3)
2.    He heals all past iniquities (103:3)
3.    He redeems and renews (103:4-5)
4.    He is righteous and just (103:6)
5.    He cares for the oppressed (103:6)
6.    He is compassionate and gracious (103:8)
7.    He is slow to anger, and rich in love (103:8)
8.    He does not harbor anger (103:9)
9.    He has mercy (103:10)
10. His love never ceases (103:11)
11.  He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west (103:12)

Any one of these attributes is enough reason to worship the Lord, but David does not stop there. The end of Psalm 103 is a reminder of the infinitesimal tininess of man in comparison to God. David describes us as grass. As your water bills can attest, grass is dead in a heartbeat. However, the finite nature of our earthly selves provides the example for the greatest attribute of God: all of the greatness of God is directed towards people who could be nothing more to God than grass. All of the attributes listed above would be meaningless if we were deserving of any of them. 

Here are your words of encouragement. God has done everything for us who deserve nothing. God has opened the floodgates of blessing upon you and me. He will continue to pour out His blessings in times of plenty and in times of need. The list of the greatest attributes of God is unchanging, even when we change. Oh how great is our God!

It is now our turn to open our mouths, hearts, and ears. It is now our turn to burst out in tears and song. It is now our turn to “Bless the Lord, O our souls. Worship His holy name.” Will you join me in worship this week?