More Than Wheaties

More Than Wheaties

Mr. W is a grade school teacher. When I knew him, over twenty years ago, he was witty and fun and adored by students and parents alike. His classroom was orderly, and his pupils appeared happy and successful.

Interaction between teacher and children, funny class in schoolI asked him one day—“How do you do it? In a growing culture of disrespect, how did you foster such a great attitude in your students? What’s your secret? Do you eat Wheaties for breakfast or something?”

“That’s easy,” he said. “I’m not Mr. Nice Guy for at least the first two weeks of school. I’m very strict. Yes means yes, and no means no—right away. If I say something and a student isn’t responding, I’m moving in his or her direction. I don’t raise my voice or get rough. Yet in short, I’m establishing my authority. Once that’s in place, the rest is easy.”

At least that’s how I remember his answer.

angry tutorAnother friend of mine graduated with a degree in Elementary Ed and took her first teaching job in a small town. She was kind, smart, and organized, but that didn’t seem to matter. The kids plowed right over her. She could not sustain any authority. My frustrated friend changed careers.

Since the turbulent 60s, “authority” has had a bad connotation. As writers, we are instructed to avoid an authoritative tone because it sounds condescending. Better, they say, to have a come-alongside voice. While this may be true, whatever happened to a wholesome view of authority?Continue reading

Suspending Disbelief

Suspending Disbelief

FDRFranklin D. Roosevelt is remembered for saying, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. ” By 1933, the Great Depression was severe, and skepticism ran high. One historian said FDR’s famous saying was in a sense ridiculous, because there were many things to fear—no food on the table, no job in the morning, a country flailing in uncertainty. On the other hand, he noted, the words served to suspend disbelief in a way that brought hope. FDR’s fatherly optimism touched the raw wounds of an entire country and soon brought about a turning point.[i]

A few words, a single thought, ultimately became life changing.

Imagine God in FDR’s place, touching your raw wounds and bringing hope with a few words. Is it hard to go there?

Wooden Blocks with the text: HowWe live in a cynical culture. Distrust is a hardened mindset. We doubt the sincerity of politicians, the character of priests, and the motives of corporations. Skepticism touches almost every aspect of life, including spiritual matters.

People not only have misgivings about the church, they wonder if God is just an invention of our imaginations.

Even the faithful are unsure about encountering God in any real kind of way. It might feel presumptuous. Some may have difficulties trusting a God who allows suffering. Others believe God is there, but they’ve never experienced His presence. That kind of thing is reserved for special people. It couldn’t possibly be for ordinary Christians.

What would it take to suspend your disbelief?

John the Apostle

The Apostle John

Throughout church history many people experienced points of contact with God. Some came from ordinary lives, while others had special callings.

John—the one who rested his head on Jesus’ chest—saw great visions of heaven and recorded them in the book of Revelations.

Thomas Aquinas by Carlo Crivelli

Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas, an intellectual giant of Christendom, wrote 25 volumes averaging 650 pages each on matters of faith and theology. Yet in 1273, near the end of his life, he was so moved during a mass that he never wrote again. He said, “Everything I have written seems like straw in comparison with what I have seen and what has been revealed to me.”[ii]

Brother Lawrence, a Carmelite monk in the 17th century wrote about abiding in the presence of God as he washed dishes. He said, “(My) habitual, silent, and secret conversation of the soul with God, often causes me joys and raptures inwardly, and sometimes also outwardly, so great that I am forced to use means to moderate them and prevent their appearance to others.”[iii]

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc…Continue reading

Empty Pockets

Empty Pockets

Mystify, arouse, and confuse me

Shatter all my plans and illusions

That I might lose my way

Don’t let me see the path or the light

Until I am ready to be led

To the harbor of the poor and willing heart

When there seems to be no remedy for darkness

Don’t fear to sink into it

Let God reveal Himself in all things, thru faith

And trust is my gift back to you, God…

 –Kevin Prosch, from “Every Ray,” Palaquin

Wendy Alec

Wendy Alec

In, Visions From Heaven, Wendy Alec recounts her conversations with God following a devastating two-year illness, which led to her husband’s abandonment.

Wendy and her former husband, Rory, started GOD TV, Europe’s first Christian television network. They had just signed on to work with Mark Ordesky, executive producer of Lord of The Rings, to make an A-grade secular blockbuster film from her end-times book series called, Chronicles of Brothers.

A week after she started working on the screenplay, she was hit with gastroperisis, a virus that damages the vagus nerve and causes intense and unending nausea. The condition was so rare that medical treatment had only been experimental.

iStock_000039953360SmallFeeling nauseous from morning until night, she began losing weight at an alarming rate. She sought healing prayer, medical advice, specialists, naturopathic help, experimental treatment ideas and drugs, but nothing abated the distress of being chronically sick every day and not knowing if it would ever end.

Her children and husband were bewildered and angry.

They lived out of their suitcases.

Their pets were kenneled for an entire year.

They abandoned their home for an entire year.

Her ministry with GOD TV seemed all but over.

The movie production came to a screeching halt.

And eventually her husband left her for another woman.

Trapped in a debilitating illness, she had lost everything.

She wanted her life to be over.

God had been her all in all, but now she was reeling with abandonment. That was the hardest part.

GodYet God was there the whole time. As the grip of her disease began to loosen, she had vivid conversations with Him in the night. God talked to her about the great sifting of His people, beginning with Job and Peter. That faith is proved genuine and strengthened beyond measure in these times. Or not. That people who come through it are prepared for a weighty “mantle” of responsibility and authority for the end-time season that is upon us. He answered her questions with tenderness and compassion.

Still, the trauma of her experience remained like a deep scar. She feared she would never feel safe again. How could such a bad thing happen to her when she had set her love on God?Continue reading