The Substitute Teacher

Cache with his favorite teacher

I have done a little substitute teaching in my day.  . . . . . I really didn't like it. 

At first, that is.  Because at first, the teachers didn't know me, and so they made me do things like watch the first hour of Remember the Titans  - six times in one day.  Really. 

But other teachers, the ones who knew me and trusted me, would turn their class over to me and let me teach the next chapter in the history book or a fun lesson on poetry, or even a health lesson. Those days seemed to fly by. 

I was filled with purpose and focus. As classes came in and out, I would try a little harder to do a better job with each period. 

It was great. I felt like I was helping the students and having fun with them at the same time. I was learning new things right along with them. 

In the first scenario, I could have easily been a remote control.  Seriously. Pushing play on the VCR player was the extent of the challenge I faced that day. (Yes, VCR - I am that old) 

I recently was asked to speak as a fill-in for someone who couldn't make it on the day they needed her to, and that got me thinking about substitute teaching again. 

I wondered if I was asked to substitute teach for Jesus, how I would do. Don't get me wrong, I have no delusions of grandeur here.

Isn't that what the Church is, in a way? The substitute for Jesus here on earth while he's away? Thanks to the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we are His body. 

  "And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." Ephesians 1:22-23

So, if my experiences as a substitute are any indication, here's a test to find out if you are the kind of substitute who just watches movies all day, or the one He has trusted to teach others. 

Are you bored and under utilized? Or do you have focus and purpose? 
Are you having fun, being challenged and helping others while you learn more? 

Just checking. 


The A21 Campaign

A21 Card
A21 Card

The other day, Kelly Minter challenged me to find something that breaks my heart and do something about it. 

Ok, just to clarify here, I'm currently doing her study on the book of Nehemiah,  through which she challenged me to find something that breaks my heart and do something about it. 

So . . . a few days after reading that challenge, I came across this post by Anne Voskamp, on her blog A Holy Experience .

One of the things that breaks my heart is that young men and women around the globe are being sold into slavery, or forced into slavery.  They often end up in the sex trade. If you think slavery was abolished back in the 1800's, you are sadly mistaken. 

The A21 Campaign, (established by the firebrand for Jesus Christine Caine), exists to abolish injustice in the 21st century. 

They have a four pronged approach, as outlined on their website here.  They prevent trafficking through awareness and education, they protect those who have been trafficked by providing transition homes, they prosecute traffickers and they partner to meet the needs of those rescued as well as work to abolish trafficking altogether. 

I love that they are in the business of mercy for victims AND justice for the perpetrators. 

"He has told you O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

There are a list of 21 ways to get involved on their website here

I chose #1 - Write a Letter. 

I shared this idea with a friend of mine, and she not only designed two different cards for us to make, but graciously offered to host a card making party at her house. We invited some friends and fellow Bible studiers -  and the rest is history. 

I left her home that night with a pile of cards filled with love for the rescued. 

It seems like a small thing, but I hope that to each one of the women who receives one of the cards, it will be a big thing. 


Robert Louis Stevenson's defense of Father Damien

Father Damien

This is a two part post. You can read the first part here.

Last time, I mentioned that God had addressed two of my ugliest sins through the book Damien the Leper.  The first was self-pity, which I discussed in part one.  

He also taught me to hate the sin of being critical of other people. 

After his death, Father Damien's story spread worldwide. He was something of a sensation in the newspapers. A clergyman in Sydney, Australia wrote to his clergyman friend in Honolulu to ask about  the suddenly famous Father Damien. The clergyman in Honolulu had known Father Damien and answered the letter. 

His answer was short, but not sweet. It was bitingly critical and slanderous. 
Robert Louis Stevenson

Luckily for us, unluckily for him, his clergyman friend had the letter he wrote criticizing the dead priest published in the Sydney Presbyterian.  Robert Louis Stevenson, who was visiting Sydney at the time, read it and was so maddened by it that he beat his head upon the wall - to the shock of his wife. 

He then proceeded to write, and have published widely, a response.  He had visited the island where Father Damien lived, shortly after his death, and spent 8 days there. He had also met with the man who wrote the scathing letter. Those experiences gave him personal insight into the matter. And the voice to write a passioned response. 

You can read the letter, in its entirety here. Or you can download a copy to your e-reader here. And I highly recommend it. 

I became more and more disgusted with the critical clergyman as I read the letter from Mr. Stevenson. 

"How could he?" I demanded. 
"Yay for Mr. Stevenson!" I proclaimed. 
"Yes! That's telling him!" I thought.

And then I thought. "Wow, what if someone widely published a letter in response to every time I was critical of someone?" Ouch. 

Now, I'll admit, I don't go around criticizing the canonized often, (Father Damien was canonized by the Catholic church February 21, 2009) my targets are seemingly more fallible.  But I am not less critical for having easier targets than the clergyman.  

It really is so ugly. Stevenson says,"I conceive you as a man quite beyond and below the reticences of civility: with what measure you mete, with that shall it be measured you again;"

What I realized is that my criticism of others never says as much about them as it does about me.  And what it says is ugly. 

Think twice before you criticize. In fact, just be quiet instead. Every person you have a critical remark for also has a defender. And HIS pen is much more powerful than the pen of Robert Louis Stevenson. 

I do not wish to insult the memory of Father Damien, or the expertly written defense of Robert Louis Stevenson by making it all about me. But if we are not to learn from such men as these, and to allow ourselves to be shaped for the better by having known them - even just through their stories - then what is reading for? 

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
Ephesians 4:29