Across the country children are returning to school. Teachers are preparing their lessons and deciding what each student needs for future success. It is the beginning of an educational process that will last an entire year. By the end of the year the students will have not only learned new reading, writing and math skills, but they will have developed a relationship with their teachers. This relationship will have helped shaped the future success of each of the students.
A few weeks ago, I was at Dayspring Camp with our high school students. We were together with over 300 high school students from other Oklahoma United Methodist churches. The time together in small groups and worship were powerful testimonies of God at work in the lives of all those gathered. Many encouraging and inspiration words were spoken of knowing that whatever we are going through, we are not alone – that God is with us. I witnessed that even through the most difficult of times, these students and leaders could still find hope, joy, and gratitude because of God’s continual love and presence in their lives.
We have all been created with dreams and passions. There are many ways that we bring these passions to life. Some people focus their energy and passion in their work while others focus on their personal life to bring their passion to reality.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
He has showed you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,[a]
and to walk humbly with your God?
The weather in Oklahoma is a fickle thing. We move from one extreme to the other. The great Oklahoman, Will Rogers is famous for saying, “If you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, wait a minute and it will change.” Will Rogers may have been exaggerating a bit, but that just makes for good comedy. The truth is we are a state of extremes. During the summer months, we can experience several days with temperatures in the 100s while in the winter the temperature can be well below freezing. When you mix in the wind that comes sweeping down the plains our weather can be taxing on any given day.
We often show gratitude to other’s by saying thank you, writing a card or giving a gift. These are good ways to express our spirit of gratitude. I sometimes find it harder to remember who to truly thank for all my blessings. I catch myself praying for things or about situations. I sometimes forget to thank our Creator for the many blessings and guidance he’s given me in my life. It usually comes out God help be do this, lead me here, do this for me or please do that for me. I’m working on bringing gratitude into my prayer life by thanking Him for the many blessings in my life.
As Jesus went from town to town he encountered so many different people. Some of the people he encountered wanted to simply see him as he passed through their community. They followed him like a modern-day celebrity. Others sought after Jesus because they wanted to hear his intimate religious knowledge. Often, when Jesus entered a community, he would encounter people who were eagerly waiting on him because they needed healing and they had heard that Jesus was capable of great miracles.
Mrs. Ruth Unruh was my favorite teacher of all time. She was in her early 60’s when I was in her third grade class. She was a tough, no nonsense lady who made learning more of an event than an obligation.
There are so many reasons we divide ourselves as a people. Often, we choose to see our differences as our only defining traits. At times, we only see our racial differences, our cultural differences, our religious differences, or our economic differences and we allow them to define who we associate with. Sadly, when we define ourselves by our differences we miss so many special connections, friendships and blessing from the rich diversity of people in God’s great kingdom.