Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Time for All Season's

Pete Seeger wrote one of my favorite songs and the Byrds made it famous....but it actually comes from a bible verse I learned as a child in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. The verse goes, " To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun. A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;a time to kill and a time to heal ...a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance ...a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;a time to lose and a time to seek; a time to rend and a time to sew; a time to keep silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace."

These are the words of Kohlat, the Preacher. Did you know that? I did not. I have read the words hundreds of times but had no clue who said or wrote them until I started searching. I know Pete Seeger and the Byrds were not around they had to come from somewhere. They are timeless words. These words touch me. Some of it I do not like to hear. The hate, for instance -- what is that all about? I am a child of God and we are taught to love our where did the hate word come from and why? I found an explanation that I believed and wanted to share it with you.

"The Preacher, as he is called in Ecclesiastes, began by pointing out that for everything there is a season. Life, of course has its seasons, not just the seasons of the turning of the earth. We are born; we live; and then we die. We go through a lifetime of seasons and cycles. We go through puberty and then on into adulthood, and then we become elderly, and, hopefully, wise. Life waxes and life wanes. We notice the whole universe operates in cycles and seasons, and comings and goings. At the end of the cycle of seven days we practice the Sabbath and to be honest it's not terribly relevant whether you worship on a Saturday, a Sunday, or a Friday, or a Tuesday. The point is that every seven days we turn again to God and renew our connection. We take a journey, the journey is what it is all about."

"The Preacher then says there is a time for every purpose under the sun. The sun represents the great universal symbol of the higher Self, God manifest, the central source of light and life within the soul. So, there is a time for every purpose under the sun, under the soul, under our higher Self. Paul said, "Know this also, that now is the time and hour that we should awake from our sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than ever we believed (Romans 13:11).
A time to be born: Being born is symbolic of the consciousness being raised from the lower mind to the higher. This, is the second birth. The expression "to be born again" meant to change one's thoughts and habits. "

"A time to die. There is the physical death, but it is never a final death, because we know we are eternal beings. But metaphysically "to die" is to die to the lower aspect of oneself, because as we continue the journey and continue to raise our consciousness, we begin to lose contact with that lower, instinctual, animal part of our nature. That is the journey. And it is for all of us the goal. "

"A time to plant. It means to sow truth in the mind; affirmations in the subconscious. To plant seeds of truth and faith in our children; words of wisdom or consolation to a friend, that may be reaped years later. Sometimes you have the experience of being with a distressed friend and you say whatever occurs to you. Years later they say to you, "You know, you didn't realize it then but what you said to me changed my life." We have no idea when we sow what will be reaped. Its not our business. It is our business to sow; to share the truth that we know.
A time to pluck up that which he has planted. It is a time to harvest -- to reap the benefits of God's truth and God's good."

"A time to kill. Sounds pretty gruesome. But metaphysically it means to kill that part of us that holds us down; that limits us; the darker side of us. We all have a darker side. The way to get rid of darkness is to shine light on it; the light in the mind; the light in the heart. The more we open to light the smaller the darkness grows. "

"A time to heal: Healing comes through right-minded thinking which is to eliminate the sense of separation. There is only one basic problem in this world and that is alienation from one another; alienation at all levels. To the degree that we can handle that problem; to the degree that we can stop seeing differences and start seeing the fact that we are all one. "

"A time to tear down: To break bad habits of thinking; to give up prejudices; to eliminate our resistance to the fact of our own divinity, or to God. To sacrifice the belief structures that are no longer valid -- they never were, really, but now that we can see them more clearly; to give them up; to tear them down."
A time to build up: To lay a foundation of wisdom and understanding on which to build the structure of love and service to the family, to the church, to the community, to the nation, and to the world. "

"A time to weep: To weep for joy and to weep for sorrow. There are bitter tears at times; the kind of bitter tears that Peter wept after he denied Jesus three times, then realized what he had done. Jesus also spoke of a different kind of crying when he was carrying the cross to Golgotha and the women along the way were crying. He admonishes them, "O daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep over me; but weep over yourselves and over your own children." (Luke 23:28) Jesus knew he was going to his Father. The women and children would continue to suffer in this world. The shortest sentence in the Bible is, "Jesus wept." (John 11:35) -- a time for tears. "

"And then, of course, there is a time to laugh: Jesus said, "Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh." (Luke 6:21) So that is something to look forward to. The journey there may be tough at times, but the arrival is great."

"A time to mourn: For heaven sakes, why would we want to mourn? Of course we do when we lose loved ones to physical death, but the deeper meaning, here, is to yearn for spiritual awakening. Jesus said, "Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4) In the Psalms it is written, "Thou has turned for me my mourning into joy. Thou hast put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness." (Psalm 30:11) Translation: Hang in there! It will pay off."

"A time to dance: Dance is a symbol of harmony and rhythm. It is one of the stages as we open to the higher Self, to a higher meaning, to our higher nature. As we come into harmony with the higher nature there is a kind of "soul dance." We dance and sing to celebrate the triumph of the higher nature (Exodus 15:20-21)."

"A time to cast away stones: Metaphysically stones stand for truth and for knowledge. Why would we want to cast truth or knowledge away? Sometimes in the cycles of life it is time to stop learning and start practicing. There are times to stop the study and to assimilate what we have learned; to integrate it. There is a time to cast the stones away."

"There is a time to gather stones together. Well that's simple. Given that stones represent knowledge and truth, we gather that knowledge and truth -- the stones.

"Then the Preacher goes on to say there is a time to embrace. Embrace, of course, means not only the physical thing that we like to do, but it means to open to, and to incorporate higher truths into our understanding; to welcome new opportunities and new understandings. But it is still great to do the good old fashioned embrace."

"Then there is a time to refrain from embracing; to not accept what is not appropriate. Some of the things we have embraced into our lives require a second look and we discover it is time to give them up because they are not for our highest good at that time in our life."

"There is a time to lose: In the cycles of life there are times of diminishing activity. The entire universe is set up in these cycles. Scientists talk about the big bang theory There is also a time to meditate; to turn inward, and then to come back out into the busyness of life. We pay our bills; we live out lives; we raise our families. But there will always be a time of turning inward. It also means to lose outdated beliefs and prejudices."

"And then a time seek; Jesus said, "But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33) The Preacher, later in Ecclesiastes, says, "And I gave my heart to seek and search out wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven. To be engaged in it is a difficult task that God has given to the sons of man." (Ecclesiastes 1:13) That is what we are about. Whether we are doing it consciously or not, that is what we are up to."

"And then a time to tie up: To tie means to bind. "Whatever a man sows, he shall reap." (Galatians 6:70) The law is unforgiving. Once you trigger it, it responds, either to the positive or to the negative. So it is cause and effect. A time to tie up; a time to bind."

"A time to rend: There was an interesting practice in the Old Testament when, many times under stress of high emotion, the prophets would rend their garments. The rending of the garment is metaphysically a symbol of the rejection either of a truth or of an error. It also implies enlargement of the mind by the breaking forth of truth. There is a point in the trial of Jesus when the high priest rends his garments. It means he is refusing the truth and staying within his limited thinking. In other places in the Bible the prophets will rend their garments because of some error in thinking that is going on among the Israelites. What they are doing is rejecting the error. "

"Following that there is a time to sew: Not to sow in the sense of planting but to sew in the sense of repairing a garment -- maybe the garments that got rended! But when we repair the garments, we eliminate those portions that represent error thinking. The garment is our wisdom, our beliefs, our knowledge. What we must not do is put together a patchwork of beliefs and understandings. The truth is a whole cloth. What we must do, ideally, is focus on one teaching."

"And then a time to keep silent: To be still. In Psalms it says, "Be still and know I am God." (Psalm 46:10) Keeping silences and meditating."

"A time to speak: Jesus said, "What I tell you in the dark, [inner promptings] tell it in the daylight. What you hear in your ears, preach it on the house tops." (Matthew 10:27) What understanding God gives us within our own mind and heart must be shared with those who have not yet been exposed to the same light we may have received."

"A time to love. Paul said it so beautifully in I Corinthians, Chapter 13.:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love in my heart, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal,
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love in my heart, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love in my heart, I gain nothing. Love is long-suffering and kind; love does not envy; love does not make a vain display of itself, and does not boast, Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil, Rejoices not over iniquity but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is imperfect shall come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke as a child. I understood as a child,. I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a mirror, darkly; but then, face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. "

"A time to hate: A time to hate, in this regard, means to hate error; to hate the negative, etc. The Psalmist said, "He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who tells lies shall not tarry in my sight." (Psalm 101:7) Without deceit we are not short circuiting inside with guilt and are emotionally much more open to the guidance of Spirit."

"And a time for war: The war between the higher self and the lower nature is what is being spoken of here. In that same song of Moses that was sung after the Red Sea had been crossed, there is the line, "The Lord is a mighty warrior." It speaks to the war we fight within ourselves, not a war that is to be fought between us. In the Bible the wars always signify the struggle between the higher and the lower selves. There is also the war in heaven in which Michael and his angels cast our Lucifer."

"And then there is a time for peace: That means the union of the higher and lower selves; the integration of our minds. We know that peace begins within each of us, and that is how it begins. Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you. My own peace I give you, not as the world gives, I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled. Be not afraid." (John 14:27) Then Paul said, "And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)"

There is a time for everything, but the only time is now. Finally, to bring this to a close I want to share with a story you may have heard. This is the story of the Zen Buddhist monk who was being chased by some kind of beast and in his haste he doesn't notice the cliff ahead. He plummets off the cliff grasping for anything to stop his descent. He finally grabs a bush growing out of the cliffside. He holds on for dear life as the bush gives a little more and a little more. The outcome was inevitable and he knew it. He looked over to a little cleft in the cliff, and there is a beautiful ripe strawberry growing there -- of all places. The monk plucks the strawberry and puts it in his mouth. The taste is exquisite! The end was inevitable, but there was a time for being in the experience -- and he was."

What an awesome song, what an awesome scripture, what an awesome way to live. If we could only understand that there is a season for everything, embrace that fact, and live each season as it is to be lived....we would have such great experiences.

Peace Out!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Take Me Out to a Ball Game

I have never been a huge baseball fan. I like the game....but I have no idea what the stats of players are....nor do I care. I just enjoy watching the game. I am not a fanatic....I am just an interested observer. I have met the likes of Hank Aaron and Sandy Koufax when I was a child and the Braves and Expos did their spring training in West Palm Beach, where I grew up. They were both impressive men. The other day I found this little devotional about baseball and I had to share it with you today.

“In the seventh inning, Sandy Koufax found his arm once again and struck out the side. Larry “the Mouth” Davies catches a pop-up ending the inning with the bases loaded but not before Cal Ripken is hit home by Mike Schmidt: the score now stands as, All Stars 5 and Church Team only 3.

In sports, we quickly learn the sometimes ugly reality that one team wins while another must lose. Becoming a follower of God was never presented as a never-ending string of wins, victories and continual success. Sometimes, losing, tragedy and grief become part of our journey with God but either way I believe we are meant to play on a team and how we play, win or lose defines who we are. One of the most amazing things I find today is that kids are not taught that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. We seem to have taken away from the children and youth of today that sense of loss. It is sad because when they DO lose....and we all do sometimes they cannot handle defeat. I am a natural competitor and I hate to the point that I won't play Monopoly with my husband Frank because he ALWAYS therefore....I don't play, period. But given my natural instinct to win...which we all have by the way....I have lost in my life....and know how to deal with it. Fortunately since I was a young I have had God in my life...and understand how character building is played. I may not always like losing....but I do know that win or lose...God will get me through it...because....I am on the greatest team ever....I am on the Chosen Ones.

Romans 12 slightly altered using baseball terminology says: “And so, fellow teammates, I plead with you to give your team to God. Let them be willing to make a holy sacrifice—the kind deep in the outfield. When you think of what God has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of the other team, but let God transform you into a new player by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his coaching really is.” (Romans 12:1-2 NRBV – New Revised Baseball Version)

The best baseball teams are full of players who are ever willing and ready to give their all for the good of the team. These are the players you see slamming into the outfield wall or diving to the ground to make the big catch. Their passion and love for the sport is evident whether they are on the field or off. They live, breathe and eat baseball until at times you’re sick of hearing it but you admire their passion. That is what I pure and holy passion. I want the kind of passion for Christ....that I see at the ballgame on a Saturday afternoon. I want that Super Bowl shouting kind of dedication for Christ. So, I have to ask can I get some of that?....I want others to look at me and say those same kinds of words.....How can I get some of what she has?....or...I want a double dose of her enthusiasm. I don't want to be lukewarm....I want to be hot as a firecracker for Christ!

As Disciples of Christ we learn to concentrate on winning in a different way. We have the opportunity to give ourselves totally to God without reservation. This “give everything you have” attitude will allow God to transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. You will know God’s purpose and how much God wants to guide your life. Your passion and love for God becomes more evident whether in church or out. You live and breathe your passion for God until at times, others are sick of hearing you but they can’t help but admire your passion. This passion for God becomes your witness.

Speaking of passion… Jack Norworth wrote a poem in 1927 about Nelly Kelly a passionate fan who would rather go to a baseball game than anywhere else. The chorus is routinely sung during the seventh inning. Will you join me? “Take me out to the ball game. Take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks. I don't care if I never get back. Let me root, root, root for the home team. If they don't win it's a shame. For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out, at the old ball game.”

Paul goes on to say in Romans: “As God’s player, I give each of you this warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much ability God has given you. Just as your team has many players and each player has a special function, so it is with Christ’s team. We are all players of his one team, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one team in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs the others.” (Romans 12:3-5)
Good baseball players understand their strengths and weaknesses so when playing together as a team they know who plays first base, who bats cleanup and who pitches. I played right field in softball cause I am good at catching a left handers ball. I also played centerfield a good bit. I stink as a baseman. I am not agile enough....but in this devotional Paul is challenging us to honestly know our own gifts and talents so that we know what work we are to do. We are needed and wanted and knowing your gifts allows you to contribute in an exceptional way to God’s team.

Do you know your gifts? Your talents? Your strengths? Don't you think it is time you find out and get on the winning team....because let me tell or lose....with Christ on your are always a winner.

Peace Be With You!

Monday, June 23, 2008

28 Years of Love

Today is my daughters 28th birthday and I have been working on her present since Friday. Friday I sat in my pajamas and cried as I looked through 28 years of her life in photos. It has been a truly cleansing experience. How do you pick the right photos from boxes and boxes of them to fill a few frames. I love taking pictures and there are a lot of my kids. Anyways, I looked at all the pictures of my sweet munchkin and know....if I have ever doubted doing anything right....that for once I did something very good! She is a dream child. The one everyone wishes they had. I needed this child because she was my salvation during a most tumultuous time. The pictures reminded me of all the good and bad times during her life....the bad times not being evident in the pictures. The pictures show love....and she definitely is full of that. She is one of the most loving people I know on the face of the earth. I have never doubted her walk with Christ because every step she makes is a witness to that fact. She does not judge people and accepts all as they are. It is a good thing because I would have definitely come up short. I like to think I was a good mom....but then I have selective memory issues in my old age. The one thing I am sure of is that for 28 years I have loved everything about her....and today I, on her birthday, just wanted her to know that one simple fact. I love you baby!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I Am A Teacher

Wow! What an exciting past couple of days. My head is spinning with all the new technology I have learned. I have sat through a class on Dreamweaver and Adobe Fireworks. I learned more about blogging than I ever knew existed and there is still so much more to come. I will be attending classes on the Blackboard and podcasting this afternoon and I can hardly wait. It is amazing at all the stuff that is out there for the tech savy teacher of the twenty-first century. Amazing....absolutely amazing is all I have to say. When I signed up for the AETC conference back in April I was really just hoping to get my hours in before school started. We have to have 25 hours each year to keep our creditials current. I usually have way more than that....because to be honest I love learning. I do not ever want to be stale and tired in my classroom so therefore I attend a number of workshops through the year to keep my edge. Speaking of has an edge...if you don't live your life to its fullest capacity....then you lose your edge and become dull. I never want anyone to tell me I am dull. I want to be razor sharp always. This year is going to be a sad year.....Chad will not be working with me this year. His position has been eliminated and I will be the sole Spanish teacher for the system. I find this very kind of reminds me of the old days when I was the only teacher for three schools in the system. I hate that education has become such a pawn for Senators and order to get their own agendas passed they use the education budget as their hostage....this year is no different.....oh we talk a good game...we, the people, talk about education like it truly matters...but when it comes down to funding what we preach....well that is an entirely different matter.....that is why I am see what is out dream....our system is losing a million dollars this year......there will be no major technological overhaul....we will do without again....while other states move past us at lightening, internet connecting speed....we will drop down again to the lowest postion in the nation....the bottow 45. We already spend less than most states on our students....we rank lower than most states in most areas as well....yet our senators got a 60+ percent raise this year....where is the justice? How can we draw young beginning teachers to our state when the pay is low, the expenditures are low, ...everything is substandard....yet those of us who have been here forever still plug on....making the most out of nothing....spending money out of our own pockets to see that our students have the necessities and some extras....and by the time we implement the technology that I have seen in action here today....we will be even further behind. It is sad. It is sad that teachers....who teach doctors to be doctors and all the other professions be what they are....are barely at middle class income status. It is sad that pro sports athletes make mega millions....and teachers don't even draw 50,000 a year.....with a Masters Degree. We sponsor clubs, do dances, take care of the cheerleaders....all for is our job.....and we chose it. That is true. I did choose this job. I chose it...because I believed that I could make a difference.....and you know....when I see a student I had 10 years ago....that is successful.....I know I did....even if it is just for one. Oh, not all my students are success stories....I have a few that are guests of the state.....permanently....but those are exceptions. I have students who are wonderful moms....great football players....Indian chiefs.....and they are what they are today....because they passed through my life....and my classroom......and I am the better for it. Two roads diverged.....I took the one less traveled....and it has made a major difference in my life. To all my former students....thanks for allowing me to walk with you for a brief time.