Second Chances, Part 3

This Week’s Key Verses: Acts 16:6-8 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia,having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.”

Written by Lynne German
Written by Lynne German

She burst into my classroom, eyes dancing with joy and words spilling out non-stop as she hugged me and blurted, “I tried so hard to hate you this year, but I just couldn’t.  And then you gave me this wonderful opportunity that I would never have had . . . thank you so much!” I hugged her and told her she was a gem.  And she was.  A gem in the raw.

This was a student to whom I’d offered multiple types of second chances over the year. By second semester, I’d still not found a positive inroad with her.  And then it dawned on me . . . why hadn’t I committed her to God in my prayers?  Way more than just mentioning her name in the Throne Room, could I really commit her to God in my supplications?  So I finally did.  And then, God.  God revealed new ways for me to be humorous and supportive to her, enabling me to be candid and yet warm in my corrective words.  One day I teased, “Why is it so much fun to act stupid in my class when you’re really very smart?”  She winced – teachers are never supposed to use the word “stupid” – until the realization captured her, that I had not called her stupid, but rather challenged her behavior as such.  She shot back, “How did you know that about me?  You sound like my mom!”  So I began conversations with her mom and step-dad, encouraging them to stick to their guns with the discipline at home, but to always make sure this strong-headed daughter knew how much she was loved.  God ordained our exchanges.  In fact, I ran into both of them at the gym one day, quite by God’s coincidence, and I felt God’s leading to deeply encourage them in their work with her.  Her grades rose.  And then, suddenly, one day it occurred to me . . . why hadn’t I thought of this before?  This student was probably gifted.  A student who goes against the grain in the classroom, who has to know why you do whatever you do, who is impatient and impertinent, and who is smart but gets bad grades, could be gifted. This identification could give new strategies for success to teachers, parents, and the student.

That student had come here this day, elated, because I’d recommended her for gifted testing, and now she’d been placed into the gifted program.  I was as elated as she was; what a wonderful new opportunity for her to finally understand her own DNA and grow!

In the midst of this, I was reminded that God can’t work through me until He works in me.  The great Potter had to mold my understanding and remove my own judgment and frustration to provide this miracle.  He had given me a second chance, to do things His way, to see a student through His eyes, and to respond with a love I’d not had before.

It’s difficult, being human and often so slow to see situations clearly.  In all things,
“He must increase, but I must decrease,” as Paul said. (John 3:30)   Whenever my teaching is about me (“Why does that student work against everything I’m doing in the classroom?”), everyone loses.  When it is more about God (“God, what do You want me to see here?”) and the student (“What is really going on with this student and his/her learning experience?”), everyone wins.  Weariness, the endless “to-do” list, and personal feelings so easily get in the way of hearing clearly from the Lord.  No wonder He asks us to stop and listen.  “Be still, and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations.   I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

I’m reminded of a Jewish idiom for a joyful person: lirkod beshtey chatunot (one who likes “to dance simultaneously at two weddings). “Wedding #1:” We lay down our personal (usually hurt) feelings toward another and marry into deeper humility in the Holy Spirit. “Wedding #2:” We lay down our judgment of the other person and marry into sacrificing what we can to offer them a better opportunity and a reason to grow.  It’s a whole lot easier to dance when we lay our burdens down!  We don’t have any guarantee that the other person will embrace the second chance we offer, but we know God is always at work.

Lord, thank you for Your mercy, fraught with second chances.  May I live my life joyfully amidst my mistakes and those of others, as one who dances simultaneously at two weddings.  Listening to You.  Loving You.  Stepping to the dance of Your miracles, and living out highest praises to You, my “Lovesong forever”!

Ballet Magnificat – Be Unto Your Name

Lynne German


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

Let Him Hold You

This Week’s Key Verses: Acts 16:6-8 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia,having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.”

Written by Andy Wood, Consultant, Teacher, Writer, … Lifevestor
Written by Andy Wood, Consultant, Teacher, Writer, … Lifevestor

Hold.

Such an ordinary, blue-collar word.

Industrial strength, geared for protection and defense, holding commands attention – not by rising to dizzying new heights of adventure or romance, but by remaining ruthlessly still…

Safe…

Steady.

Boring? Only when, in your desperation for a change, any change will do.

Oppressive? Only when you think the grass is greener somewhere else and you can’t get there.

Holding is a sign that somewhere there is someone or something that is stronger than you are – at least for the moment. You may be held back by your fears. Or held safely by that seat belt and airbag. Or held in the arms of someone who can comfort your heart.

But sooner or later fears subside. Belts are unbuckled. And people, however well-meaning, let go.

But there are everlasting arms and an all-powerful Strength that promises to hold you in love and peace long after all other sources are exhausted or used up.  He said he would take hold of your hand and guide you. And even if you were whisked away to the far side of the horizon, even there He said He would hold you.

So let Him.

Let Him hold you.

When your life is overshadowed by dark clouds of doubt and despair, let Him hold you in the assurance that He will be your light and life.

When you are harassed and taunted by principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world, let Him hold you in the truth that greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.

When the straw that broke the camel’s back just landed on yours and you feel as though you’re caving under the pressure, let Him hold you in the prevailing strength that empowers you to mount up with wings like eagles.

When you’ve cried all you think you can cry and your sorrows have clearly won the day, let Him hold you with the tenderness of a Father who has promised never to leave nor forsake you.

When you find yourself looking back at one failed opportunity after another and every dream seems lost, let Him hold you in the steadfast hope that He is making all things new.

When you’re desperately hanging on to your sanity and strength and the easiest thing to do is quit, let Him hold you with a grip that is steadfast, immovable, and always abounding.

When you’re being strong for everybody else but it feels as though nobody’s looking out for you, let Him hold you in a generous peace that passes all understanding.

When you’ve exhausted every other resource and you’re out of ideas, schemes, or advisors, let Him hold you in a deep wisdom that is pure, peaceable, trustworthy and kind.

When you’re haunted by shadows of shame from your past or taunted by shadows of fear and insecurity from your future, let Him hold you in the brightness of His countenance that is turned toward you.

When you’re so overwhelmed with the demands and the busyness that you can’t give yourself permission to stop long enough to recognize the air filling your lungs, let Him hold you in the promise of a rest that remains for all who are His.

When your horizon at best looks as though you’re going around in cruel circles, let Him hold you in the truth that the steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord.

When you’ve prayed and prayed and heaven seems silent, let Him hold you in the promise that in due season you will reap if you don’t give up.

At the end of the day and the darkness of your way, what matters most is not what you’re holding on to – but Who is holding on to you.

Andy Wood

Copyright © Andy Wood @ www.LifeVesting.com
All rights reserved. Used by permission. 


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

God Has Not Given Us A Spirit Of Fear And Timidity

This Week’s Key Verses: Acts 16:6-8 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia,having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.”

Written by Valerie Fay
Written by Valerie Fay

In a time when there is so much chaos and confusion, when nations face complex issues that belie solutions, when it seems that any day we can turn a corner and come face-to-face with trouble – take time to look for the simple things in the beauty of creation all around us. Be still and listen for the sounds of heaven, hear the woodpecker on a distant tree fulfilling the purpose for which he was created. Watch the waves as they crash upon the shoreline. They tell of the boundary line that God ordained long ago. Notice the tinkling of a wind chime at it moves with the breeze and plays its tune. I hear it speak of a fresh wind of God coming to the earth.

And remember, the Lord did not create the earth to be filled with evil and violence …

For thus says the Lord—Who created the heavens, God Himself, Who formed the earth and made it, Who established it and did not create it to be a worthless waste; He formed it to be inhabited—I am the Lord, and there is no one else. I have not spoken in secret, in a corner of the land of darkness; I did not call the descendants of Jacob [to a fruitless service], saying, Seek Me for nothing [but I promised them a just reward]. I, the Lord, speak righteousness (the truth—trustworthy, straightforward correspondence between deeds and words); I declare things that are right. (Isaiah 45:18-19 GW)

In a day when nations topple, when one in authority is removed from office and another takes his place, God’s kingdom stands firm, His promises never fail. He is our only safe place. God is our shield and “as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord will surround His people, both now and forever.” (Psalm 125:2) Think on these words and fan into flame the spiritual gift that God has given you “…God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 11:7)

In the Sermon on the Mount, addressing all who believed in Him, Jesus said, “you are the salt of the earth … you are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:13-14) This is not a day to hide away or shrink back from the rising tide of secularism, but to stand firm in the faith. We are called to be spiritual warriors, but God’s armies are not like the fighters of this age. We do not wield the sword or spear, no axe or gun is in our hand. We do not lay traps for men, nor do we take captives to build up an army of flesh. The Lord’s warriors lift their voices and proclaim His word, they are men and women of valor, trained in righteousness and truth, their weapons are not carnal but mighty through God and designed to pull down strongholds. The weapons we carry are not forged of iron nor are they produced by the power of man. Through faithfulness and perseverance we are trained to use heaven’s instruments of peace and all who are numbered among the redeemed are in His ranks. Our aim is to shine His light, spread the good news, offer mercy and grace to those who are broken, and invite the lost into real life. And always follow the One who goes before us.

Valerie Fay


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

WWGRD?

This Week’s Key Verses: Acts 16:6-8 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia,having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.”

Written by Kathy Koenig, KPC Devotional Team Writer
Written by Kathy Koenig, KPC Devotional Team Writer

My first tentative mental step toward depression is usually when I ask myself, “Who needs me? What use am I? Is there any point to my existence?” I review everything that I do and conclude that it is all either in the past, unimportant, or done better by someone else.

About a month ago when I was really tired, I started down that mental path. To reach the truth, one must always check it out with God and (surprisingly) I interrupted myself to ask Him for His feedback. The unexpected answer was, “I DON’T need you!” Now, this is something that I already knew deep down, because I know God’s Word says,

“[God] is not served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things.” (Acts 17:25)

“Can a person’s actions be of benefit to God?” (Job 22:2)

“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.” (Psalm 50:12)

But this time, I continued my conversation with God and asked Him, “Then why am I still here? What is my POINT?” And an image entered my mind of a couple that I know that own two golden retrievers. (Before owners of other pets get offended, let me point out that other beloved pets can illustrate this same principle!) I thought about why they got their dogs . . . it certainly wasn’t to help get work done around the house, as I’m sure that they increased the workload. No, the purpose of their beloved retrievers was simply to bring pleasure to their owners. All the work and mess and expense are worth it because my friends enjoy their presence. The dogs were adopted into this family just to have something to love and to be loved in return.

Wow, what a concept! Is that why I was created, to be loved by God and to love in return? I’m really not needed, but I AM dearly wanted? I turned to the Scripture and found

“For the LORD takes pleasure in his people.” (Psalm 149:4)

“The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (Psalm 147:11)

So, in a sense, I do fulfill a need of God’s: His desire to love something and be loved in return. I began imagining how I could fill this need of God’s. In other words, if I were a golden retriever, what would make my Master happy? I created a little poster to remind me when I start asking myself the question, “What is my purpose in life?” It is titled “WWGRD? (What Would a Golden Retriever Do?)” If any of you wonder about your own purpose, I hope that it is meaningful for you. And for those who rightly want Scriptural validation for applying any of the statements to one’s relationship with God, I have included some references. (My appreciation to all of those whose photographs I ripped off the Internet to illustrate my little poster!)

WWGRD

Is excited to see his Master – Job 22:25, 26
Rests in his Master – Psalm 37:7
Shows gratitude for his Master’s gifts – Psalm 9:1
Listens to his Master – Isaiah 51:1, 4, 7
Loves to spend time with his Master – Psalm 27:4
Is faithful to his Master – Matthew 25:21
Is repentant when he disobeys his Master – 1 John 1:8, 9
Obeys his Master, even when he doesn’t understand the purpose – 1 Samuel 15:22

Rest assured, beloved . . . you have a purpose in life. Your purpose is to be loved by God and love Him in return.

Kathy Koenig


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

The Place Between

This Week’s Key Verses: Acts 16:6-8 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia,having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.”

Written by Jane Keller, KPC Devotional Team Writer
Written by Jane Keller, KPC Devotional Team Writer

My sister told me once that supposedly you do your best writing in the first few minutes after you wake up in the morning. I guess the idea is that you’re not fully conscious and so your creative thought flows with fewer inhibitions. I can’t be certain, but I think it might be true for me. At least I usually wake up with some profound thoughts rolling around in my head but to be truthful I’m too lazy to get up and write them down so I can’t know for sure.

This morning, after a particularly rough night of sleep, I woke up thinking about the word “communion.” As I opened my eyes there it was, just floating around in my head.

My thoughts turned to an interview I heard just this week given by Norman Lear. Lear is 93 years old and the interviewer asked him what advice he would give to those of us who want to make it to 93 with the same sharpness, clarity, and creativity he still has. This was Lear’s answer; “Two words come to mind: over and next. When something is over, it is over and it is time to move to what is next. And if there is a hammock hanging between those two words then that is what it means to be living in the present moment.”

Communion. Living between over and next.

And, not just living there but if you are in a hammock you are most assuredly reclining back. You are resting.

I love that picture. I wish it was as easy as it sounds. But that space between over and next can often be filled with anxious waiting, worry about the future or sadness for what has ended. Letting go of the past can be painful and scary. Looking forward to what is often an unknown future can be pretty harrowing.

I’ve been in this in-between place so many times. We all have. I’d like to say I am usually hanging out in my hammock, kicking back, and relaxing in the space of the unknown, but that wouldn’t be completely true. Sure, sometimes I can. Sometimes I’m at peace and then there are the other times.

Steve and I have a saying we each other. “Let me have my reaction.” In other words, after 25 years of marriage, we have learned to give each other the space and grace to have our freak outs. But, when it’s over, we gently (well, usually) call each other back to the hammock, back to living in the moment.

Learning to abide in the in-between is truly about resting and trusting. Resting in the security of God’s immeasurable love for us and trusting in the good he has planned for us.

Stay in the hammock. The one he has set up for you in green pastures, beside still waters. It’s the only place to find what we need between over and next.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. (Psalm 23 1-2)

Jane Keller


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

Change, God, and Gratitude: A Meditation

Monday Marvels Edition – July 25, 2016

chattHOP_logo-smsqLike the Chattanooga House of Prayer, KPC’s desire is to ignite the passion and action of the Body of Christ for “sustained and unified prayer, worship, and outreach.” ChattHOP has enthusiastically agreed to share their weekly blog with us. It is our hope that Monday Marvels will enrich our prayer lives and challenge us, as a family, to expand our borders in worship and outreach. We encourage you to visit the ChattHOP site (here) to discover fresh ways we can bring our KPC vision to Hampton Roads.

Praise is His gracious choice.

It is amazing to me how the seasons of life change, and how they change with God. I’ve often heard people say, “There are only two things that are certain in life: death and taxes!” But I would add “change” and “God” to the list.

Very little remains the same in life. You could say, “Well your relationships stay the same—you have the same wife and kids as you did before.” Yes. Sort of. But even those people change. The kids grow up, and neither my wife nor I are the same people we were when we got married years ago! The storms and the sunshine of life have weathered us and we are different now. So are our needs, wants, hopes, strengths, weaknesses, etc.

God does not change, but the way that He meets our needs in the new seasons of life, through the various changes that we go through, does change. I think it’s important that we are mindful of receiving from God what He has for us through every season that we go through. There is a little bit of keeping up with Him in all of this because we don’t always perceive when our seasons have changed. The provision God was previously giving us might not be how He is providing for us now.

So be it.

Every time a season has changed in my life, it has only spurred my heart on toward deeper worship and greater understanding of Him. I marvel at how He carries me and meets me in different ways, constantly working to bind my heart to His. There’s always some new thing I didn’t know about Him that is revealed. This could be mistaken by my heart and mind as a “whoa, God just totally changed on me there!” But really, I follow a Messiah who is infinite and as He leads me into different life seasons I learn a new aspect of His infinite nature previously unknown to me. Such stretching of my personal tent pegs is simply an expansion of His Kingdom within me and a preparation of my heart for an eternity where “the increase of His government” will know no end. There has always been and always will be a frontier in the Kingdom of Heaven.

As we seek to establish God’s Kingdom on earth, bearing in mind this frontier-less quality of the Kingdom would, I believe, serve us well. Changes in our life thus become calls to prayer. We discern them rightly only if we are rightly connected to God. I’m not saying this means stop everything and sit down and pray (though it could certainly mean that!). It’s more like asking God, “How are you calling me to yourself in this?” through each and every situation we encounter. The whole of our lives, says Paul in Acts 17:26-28, are set up in order that God have our undivided attention.

Recently I was driving in my car listening to some old hymns. (Before I go further, know that I listen to other, totally non-spiritual stuff, so please don’t make a categorical judgment about me by this admission). While I was doing this, a picture flashed in my mind. You can call it a vision, a revelation, an impression on my heart or just a fanciful imagination. Regardless my heart was really touched and provoked to worship by it.

The picture in my head was the state of my soul before my life was turned over to Christ, and it was pitch black. As it popped into my head it was at once horrifying and wonderful to me. Horrifying that it was SO BAD!!! Wonderful because I realized anew how great a salvation had been wrought for me. Sometimes I forget, especially in my emotions, just how bad things were, and this in spite of the fact that I try to, every now and then, celebrate my salvation.

No matter how far we have come or will go with Christ, even as we journey throughout all eternity’s frontiers with Him, there will still be the joy of our salvation with Him who defeated death for our sakes.

In my own devotional life, I have tried to make it a habit to remember that moment of salvation and what it meant to me then, as well as the process whereby God started setting me apart for His own Name’s sake and changed me from within. I have found certain hymn verses to be especially useful for this purpose:

I have light in my soul for which long I had sought since Jesus came into my heart.

Sun of my soul, Thou Savior dear, It is not night if Thou be near.

Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come.

Help of the helpless, o abide with me. (When I first came to Christ I was still so blind and helpless and FULL of sinful habits that I regularly prayed this line. I love the Name of God here, “Help of the helpless.”)

We know we have a long distance to go still with the Lord in our pilgrimage here, but oh what hope we have for our future based of all He has already done for us. Even when we have been set free from all our enemies and been given rest in His eternal Kingdom, we will have a bright, glorious and ever-expanding future—only then it will be in a pure and restful sense; the journey being filled with the goodness and companionship of God who is both our Way and simultaneously, our Destination and Final End.

God, grant us grace to see and enjoy You as our Way.

Adam Whitescarver, ChattHOP Executive Director


To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.