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I have no problem with people saying prayer is power, but let’s set the record straight: Our prayer is NOT the power. We pray to the One who HAS the power. Let your focus always be Jesus.
My study today…
Paul says the people of Ephesus had these traits:
Paul thanked God that the people had these traits, and he prayed for them. Here is how he prayed for them:
He asked God to give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation… so they could KNOW GOD BETTER.
He asked God to open the eyes of their hearts…
Paul’s final petition (above #3) was for the people to know God’s incomparably great power. Then Paul continues to explain that incomparably great power.
It’s the working of his mighty strength, that same strength that raised Jesus from the dead.
This power is in Jesus! Jesus, who is seated in heaven next to the Throne of God… He is so high above any authority, dominion, any power or title we could ever think of! Everything we face, everyday, is under the feet of the One with the power.
God put it all under his feet. And then He put Jesus as the head, the head of the church. And guess what, we are the body! We are the fullness of him WHO FILLS EVERYTHING IN EVERY WAY.
From the head, the power flows down into the body. We receive power from the source: Jesus! His power is in us, but daily we need to be enlightened, we need to open the eyes of our hearts and be reminded of our HOPE, HIS RICHES, and HIS POWER that is already in us.
Prayer brings us to Jesus.
Jesus is the power.
Jesus is our power.
Jesus is the power of prayer.
You see, it’s that time of the year, where I’m tired, and I don’t want to continue repeating the same rules over and over. “We’re 27 weeks into the school year! Why don’t you have a pencil? Why are you talking without permission? Don’t run!” Aaaah. Teacher life.
But, I’m also at the point, where I know it’s more important for them to obey the rules than it is for them to like me. (Side note: I have a student who brings me a treat every time I punish him. I’m not sure if he understand it’s love, or if he’s trying to bribe me, but today I ate some deliciously stale vanilla Oreos) And so, when I should be able to watch them walk down the stairs and head to recess, I am standing at the bottom, reminding every child, “Walk. Don’t run. Walk. Don’t run. Walk.”
Oh, and then 6 kids thought I wasn’t serious, so they ran anyway. Welp, “Get your snack and come upstairs.”
100 sentences. “I will obey even when the teacher isn’t watching.”
“Can I write 25?”
No one finished in time. Bring the 100 sentences tomorrow or you’ll be back in here until they’re done.
….the next day
“I no can do my …”
“I can’t do,” I correct him. “Come back to see me at recess then.
“Can’t I just write I WILL OBEY.” nope.
And so, after much complaining, and moaning, I got my 600 sentences. And hopefully, the students will have learned their lesson. They did ALL walk today. So that’s progress. aaah, the struggle of consistency, but oh how it pays off.
(Do you know what I hate about consistency? IT ALWAYS MEANS more work for ME! SO unfair! Like this is my job or something?!)
So, once recess ended, I had a chat with the whole class. We talked about how rules are for their good and for their safety, and how their responsibility is to follow the rules. We make rules to help them, just like we give them work to help them. Sometimes the things that help us are hard things (Yeah, like when I have to be consistent with punishments!). I said, “Do you trust me? Do you believe me when I say that it’s for your good and for your safety? Or do you think I’m just being mean?” They all agreed that they believe me. They trust me. First of all, I’m thankful that in that moment I didn’t have any sarcastic kids who said no. I might’ve lost myself if one had. Anyway, the truth is, I really work hard to build a relationship with my students, to love them, and to earn their trust. So then, when there is a punishment, even if they don’t want it, they know I’m being reasonable. They know that’s how it is. So, the conversation went on, and I could see in some of their faces, that yes, they understood. And yes, they know I care about them.
I love when God hands me analogies that I KNOW will impact the kids. I handed back the English tests shortly after recess, and I told one of the boys, “You scored a 94, but can I just give you a 25?” NO WAY. “Pleeeease?” I begged. I slowly moved up to 30 and 40, bu he wouldn’t budge. This led me to say, why not? Well, because he earned that grade. And I used this to say, “When you earn something good, you want to own it, but when you earn a punishment, you act like you don’t deserve it. We all need to take responsibility for our actions, good or bad. If you earn a reward, excellent. If you earn a punishment, own it. Learn from it. Grow. Life isn’t about what makes me happy. What is going to make me grow? What is going to honor God?”
It’s not just one thing. It’s a lot of things. A lot of things I have to do to be the teacher I want to be. To be an example. To show them love. To show them Jesus. Consistency is one of those things. Conversation is another. I can’t just throw a bunch of rules at them and never have a conversation about WHY. Because it’s through the consistency and conversations that they will see … I care.
Today I shared some verses with my class, and I gave a little talk about hate and love and Jesus, and what it all has to do with being a Christian.
First, I read a few verses in Romans 2, and I described the importance of God’s righteous judgment. We’re all broken, messed up sinners, seemingly without hope. And worse than that, God’s wrath will be kindled against all that evil and sin. That’s a little bit scary.
But why is God so angry? Why does He hate so much? That was my next point: He hates evil and wickedness and sin so much because it hurts the things He loves. His love for us is so great, that He abhors the evil that hurts us, that separates us from Himself. He loves his creation, and He hates the wickedness that destroys it.
So then what?
God loves his creation so much, He loves you and me with such deep commitment, that He took all that wrath and punishment, and He put it all on his own Son, so that his perfect Son would take it and be the propitiation for your sin. for my sin. For all the sin and wickedness that God hates. Imagine how potent God’s wrath must be. And He put it all on his Son, on the cross, for you. for me. Because He loves is that immense.
When we see this, when we see our sinful state, when we see that our current situation is that we are awaiting God’s wrath, we know we have a problem. But as we see God’s love, and how his compassion for us is so great, so merciful, that He put that wrath on Jesus, for us, we can come to him for grace, mercy, forgiveness… we can be put back together! We can be made whole. This is what it means to be a Christian. It means we know and understand God’s love, and we receive it because of who He is. Because of what He did, we are SAVED.
The more we understand God’s love (like, hey, He put his hatred an anger on his Son for us!), the more we want to love the things God loves, and hate the things God hates.
And as I was teaching this today to my students, I thought, man I needed to hear it this way, too. As a believer, a follower of Jesus, my duty is to love the things God loves. Hate the things God hates. We often get caught up in some kind of man-made Christianity that puts us in a box, that we are to be a certain way. Often with good intentions, we build extra standards to separate ourselves from what seems to be evil. Unfortunately, we end up separating ourselves by raising ourselves higher than others. And then, not only do we look down on people, we cannot love them from above. We are not loving people… and we should, because God loves people.
Romans 2 talks about how those who seek honor will find peace. And those who seek evil or are self-seeking will find tribulation. When we live our self-made world we will find problems because no one else is living in that world. We will have fights and contention because we want to do it our way, and who else would want to live only to please us? But when we live with our eyes focused on Jesus, that peace surrounds us, no matter what the situation. We live to serve God and others, and that breeds peace. This is the love/hate idea… if we love the things Jesus loves, we fill find peace. If we hate the things Jesus hates, we will find peace. We cannot hate the things He loves. And we cannot love the things He hates.
Look at God’s love. Respond to it. Know Him. Then love the things He loves. Hate the things he hates.
While I was home, I had the opportunity to share our ministry of Las Palmas with my home church family. After having conversations with several people, I decided I should write a post to answer some of the questions people had. Many of us build our own assumptions based on what we see or think, but we don’t really know or ask questions. I’m glad my church family asked me questions, because now I can help them (and you!) have a better understanding of our ministry here at Colegio Las Palmas.
Almost all of our American teachers receive some financial support from friends and churches in the states. The school itself, however, receives almost nothing. The school functions based on the revenue and budget from tuition, tutoring, and a couple other small on-site activities.
2. Is the school just for rich kids?
After seeing pictures of the kids in class, all proper in their uniforms, some of my American friends assumed their families have money. Let me tell you something spectacular about my Dominican people… they are the cleanest people you will EVER meet! They amaze me. It doesn’t matter if they live in a mansion or a wooden house with a tin roof and dirt floor—when you meet them, you would never know it. Everyone is clean and smells good and looks good, and makes sure their white pants look brand new. I don’t know how they do it! So you might see someone who is beautiful, pristine, and sharply dressed, and that’s because they are very proud of who they are and want to look good! Don’t we all?! Seriously, I need to learn from them. I’m a slob!
So who does go to Las Palmas? Well, it’s pretty cool really. We have children of lawyers and judges and doctors. But we also have children of everyday, hard working moms and dads, who sacrifice to put their kids in our school. We have many students who are in our school through partial and complete scholarships because the families simply cannot afford the education. We also have boys and girls who live in children’s homes who attend our school. Then we have some American missionary kids, too! It’s a mixture of all kinds of families, and I love it!
So, no, we aren’t just a school for rich kids. If they look rich, it’s that beautiful Dominican pride that is showing through.
3. Do the kids go to school for free?
Based on what I’ve already written, you probably understand now that the families do pay to attend the school. It would be wonderful if we could offer free education, but reality says things cost money. Our financial director is an intelligent, Christ-loving business woman who does all she can to cut costs where possible so that our school tuition can remain affordable for the families here. We have had to raise tuition as the school grows, but we’ve also partnered with the families to help find scholarships so those who couldn’t afford the increase would be able to continue at our school.
4. Do the American teachers get paid or do they just have support?
The American teachers do receive pay from the school. However, the cost of traveling, living, visas, school supplies, etc., wouldn’t allow for most of us to live here solely on what the school pays us. Therefore, we do raise money from the states. Personally, I am able to pay my basic bills here from what the school pays me (Rent, local travel, internet, electricity), and then I use support for savings, food, U.S. travel, school supplies, personal needs, and more.
Sometimes I get caught up in thinking that “fruit” means I need to have 100 converts or an amazing story to tell about how I fed a village and gave them new homes and clean water. But what I’m learning, what I need to keep learning, is that fruit is inside me. And it pours out.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Sometimes it’s really really hard to love people. When you work on a mission team like I do, you’re kind of forced to befriend people that you might not really have chosen as friends. But because we have the same goal–the same mission, we’re able to work together, hang out, and even be friends. God has used this to teach me to love. He’s teaching me to be kind. I think He is saving patience for last because He knows I’ll be terrible at it.
Suzanne reads and reads and reads, and loves loves loves animals, and is one of those super-duper Harry Potter lovers. Me? I don’t enjoy reading. I don’t really like animals (in my home), and I’ve never touched a Harry Potter book. But guess what? We’re really good friends. I mean REALLY good. And I’ve only touched the surface of how different we are. She’s straightforward, speaks her mind, and is completely confident in her viewpoint. I’m passive aggressive, I hold things in, and I fear my opinion is probably never right. But guess what, we’re really good friends.
She probably gets really frustrated with me, and I sometimes get frustrated with her, but we work through things. God has used her friendship to help me be more straightforward, and she’s said our friendship has helped her to be more soft in her answers.
I can’t say, “That’s just how I am!” anymore. Because God is changing me. God has used my friendship with Suzanne to curb my passive-aggression, but also to get to a deeper root issue … my pride that says, “If you’re not like me, then I don’t want to be your friend.”
I was definitely the person who mocked and teased and said mean things to and about people that were different from me. Worse than I realized, even. Because I wanted to be cool. And if someone liked Harry Potter, or didn’t like sports, well, what good were they?
This is where I see God growing me most… helping me to see each person as an adored creation of God, one who Christ went to the cross for. I haven’t arrived–I never will–but I see God growing this fruit in me, this fruit of kindness and goodness and love. I need more of it.
God is growing me.
We are on our way to purchasing the school building and property in San Pedro de Macoris! I would love for all my friends and readers to invest what you can in the lives of the students and families who are impacted by Las Palmas. Won’t you consider giving toward the Kingdom?
The other day I was cutting potatoes, and the knife slipped and cut my finger. I screamed and jumped, and grabbed a paper towel to put pressure on it to stop the bleeding. Once I thought I would live, I decided to go back to cutting potatoes (I don’t learn lessons very easily). I thought I was being careful. But no, slip, cut. again. Other finger. Worse. Oh dear. I’m an idiot. Screamed, jumped, grabbed paper towel. Quit cutting potatoes.
You’re welcome for not posting the immediate pictures. Yes, I took them. This is the world we live in.
Anyway, I’m right-handed, and the cuts were on my left hand, so I was pretty sure I’d live, and not be too inconvenienced. Nope. Wrong. It’s amazing what you can learn about a part of your body when it’s injured! People say that about toes all the time, how you don’t think about how important they are until you hurt one. Well, this week, I learned how important the upper part of my left index finger is! And I learned by accidentally using it to loop my finger in a water bottle hook. OW! Trying to take off items of clothing! OW! And and assortment of other activities, none of which I can remember right now, which is why I probably shouldn’t blog.
Anyway, it got me thinking all spiritually… How we are the body of Christ. How each member is important. It reminded me that when someone is hurting, the body suffers. We all hurt together. It also made me think about how we forget that other people are hurting. I kept forgetting my finger hurt until I tried to use it. Then, OW. Dangit. I forgot again!
Don’t we do that with people? Don’t I do that with people? I forget they are hurting. I live in my great big ME world that declares I’m the only person who hurts. But no, we all hurt.
So this week, my super-not-awesome
potato cutting finger cutting incident reminded me that we are all in this together. We are all working for the same goal, to honor and glorify God, to show the light of Jesus to the world, and to be part of the reconciliation plan God has for this broken world. But in all of that, people are hurting. People in our own body are hurting.
Do you know what the rest of my body did when I would remember that my finger was hurting? My right hand took over. My other fingers jumped in. My thumb learned new responsibilities. Heeeey, guess what? If we realize people in the body of Christ are hurting, we have the opportunity to step in, to serve, to minister, to encourage, and to learn to do new things we’ve never done before.
So yeah, my finger still hurts really badly. I kind of wonder if I needed a couple stitches. But I’m glad God used it to remind me of Himself, and of the body of Christ. And my purpose here. ❤ Lord, help me to remember that other people are hurting.
Here I am at the end of year three in San Pedro de Macoris, praising God for so many wonderful blessings, and also praising Him that the school year is almost over! The end of the school year is always bitter sweet! I’m so ready to be done with grades and planning and disciplining, but I will miss the community, the discipleship, and the growing that comes with being a teacher. I will miss the students’ laughs and their stories, but I’m glad to have time away from excuses for no homework. Ha!
Just after my last update, God gave me an amazing opportunity to walk through the gospel with one of my students. He is the son of missionaries who are here with FCA. He raised his hand at the beginning of the year to say he was not a Christian, and I’ve been praying for him ever since. After a chapel message, a visiting speaker asked if anyone was ready to receive Christ, and this boy raised his hand. I was able to talk to him after chapel, to hear his heart and thoughts, and there, on the front balcony, he prayed to receive Jesus as his Savior.
The most exciting thing is that He is now a child of God! But, I must also selfishly admit that it came just when I needed it. I was at a point where I was feeling like my work had no fruit. Doesn’t Satan do that to us? We hear Satan’s lie that our work is in vain. It’s not. No matter what we see or don’t see, God has called us to labor for him. And God promises that we will reap if we do not faint! Oh, how tempted I am to faint! To quit! I’m so thankful God is patient and loving, and draws me back to Him each time I fall to Satan’s lies.
More recently, one of my students, Randally, has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer. She has completed her first round of chemotherapy, and the doctors are very happy with the progress. There was talk of amputation because the cancer was growing so rapidly, but I believe God’s healing hand is on her, and they have set aside that option for now. During this time, I was able to share the gospel with both Randally and her mom. Later that day, a Dominican lady from our ministry spoke to them also, and both accepted Jesus. I am so thrilled to know they are both children of God! It has been a (can’t think of a good enough word to put here!) experience to see Randally’s joy and faith as she goes through this trial. So many people in our community are rallying around her, as believers should. Please pray for Randally’s healing, and for financial needs of the family.
I will be flying to the states in June to renew my visa, meet up with supporters, and also visit family. Please pray for my financial needs for the summer. This tends to be my most costly time of year. I’m paying my medicare/social security, buying plane tickets, traveling in the states, and doing my yearly shopping for classroom and personal needs. God has always provided, and I’m not worried, but it is something that I always want to lay before his feet in prayer.
Continue to pray for the needs of the school. We are always looking for more American teachers as the school grows each year. We also have a need for Dominican teachers, as many leave us to teach in the public schools because the pay allows for more stable living situations. We are still working on the purchase of our building and property, and seem to have come up against more problems. We trust that God will do his work in his time, but again, we always want to lay our burdens in front of Him, to remind ourselves that He is in control.
If you know of any recent college graduates who love Jesus, teaching, and missions, please let them know about The Palms! You may be God’s voice to them, as Steve and Julia Griffin were for me three years ago when they said, “I think you’d be a great fit for this ministry!” Maybe you know someone!
I am so thankful for the Gospel that is being shared here, for lives that are being touched, and for how God is teaching me more and more about Himself each day. Please pray for me spiritually. Just like anyone, life is a spiritual battle each day!