Friday, August 21, 2015

An Ode to Teachers

In the fall of 1964, I began my academic career at Barnes Kindergarten at the Wylam Armory. Ms. Barnes sponsored a private kindergarten program for the “aggressive” parents in our community—since public school didn’t offer one. In the spring of 1965, I successfully graduated!

For the next 27 years I was enrolled in school! By the time I completed my PhD at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in July of 1992, I had been in the classrooms of many teachers!

Our two children both attended public schools and graduated from college. We now have two grandsons attending public schools. And – I spent 8 years on the Adjunct Faculty of Truett Seminary at Baylor.

All that to say – I have the opportunity to interact with countless teachers across the years.

So – to all of our teachers and administrators who are launching a new academic year, I want to say . . . THANK YOU! Thank you for all you do for our children. Thank you for spending untold hours preparing for your students. Thank you for being patient with parents. Thank you for spending your own money on the extra things. Thank you for going the extra mile time and again. Thank you for showing up early and staying late. Thank you for listening. Thank you for truly loving your profession and loving our children.

As I have reflected upon my own academic journey, I can’t help but think about the many great teachers I had in my classes. As I remember it, there are two things in particular I want to say about our teachers.

First of all, teachers are purveyors of information. The good teachers I remember are the ones who really knew their subject matter. And – they knew how to share that information with us in a way that helped us learn. At the end of the day, that is what teachers do—they teach!

Good teachers are well-informed. They know their material. And they know how to share the information with students. They understand that the knowledge they possess is valuable and useful to the students. Think about it. What a privilege for a teacher who leads a child to read. Or to spell. Or to understand basic math. Think about how those skills prepare a child for a lifetime of learning.

So, thank you teachers for being students yourselves. Thank you for spending time learning a subject and taking the time to impart your knowledge to your students. You truly do impact the world every day!

Second, the great teachers in my academic journey learned the art of inspiration. The great teachers understand that they can ignite something in a child through their influence. They offer that intangible quality of inspiring students to pursue endeavors that just may be life-changing.

When I was in fourth grade, my teacher, Ms. Buford, announced that our class was going to put on the school play that year. The entire school would be in attendance. We were excited about it. However, I was not the kind of child who was always “in front” in those days. I was a very good student. Honor roll every six weeks. But I was not an “upfront” kind of person. Well, she also announced, “Dennis Wiles – you are going to play the role of Jesus!”

I met with Ms. Buford after class. I asked her to reconsider. I had never done anything like that. Surely someone else could play the lead role. But, she insisted. And I did it. It was my first time to actually be in that kind of public setting (outside of sports). It was way out of my comfort zone. But, it ignited something in me. I actually could be up front. And – well, the rest is history for me. I have spent my entire adult life “up front” as a pastor. Thank you, Ms. Buford!

So, thank you teachers for inspiring students to reach for something new. Thanks for recognizing something in us before we see it in ourselves. Thank you for igniting passions in the lives of students. Again, you are impacting the world every day as you inspire your students.

I am grateful for our teachers and administrators who show up every day and make a difference in the lives of students. May this be a great school year!

Monday, August 03, 2015

What Does God Owe Us?

He is unfathomable. He is unsearchable. He is unknowable. He is unreachable.

He is Yahweh – I AM.

He is:
El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
El Elyon (The Most High God)
Adonai (Lord, Master)
Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)
Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)
Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
El Olam (The Everlasting God)
Elohim (God)
Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)

He is the God of ages past. He is God today. He will be God tomorrow and forever.

He is the God of our Fathers and Mothers. He is our God. He is the God of our children and our children’s children.

He is the God Who was, Who is and Who is to come.

Before anything was, He is.

He exists out of time. Yet, He lives in time. And He is always on time.
He is always righteous. He is always pure, He is always holy, He is always glorious – and He is always right.

His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. His ways are higher than our ways.

His yes is yes. And His no is no.

He is all wise. He is all knowing. He is all powerful.

He is a consuming fire. He is the LORD the LORD. He is majestic in splendor and glorious in array. He is immense in power and eternal in presence.

His Word is true. His Word is powerful. Through His Word, He created all that is. All of creation is an expression of His will. The heavens declare His glory. He is the God of the red moon. He is the God of the blue moon. In fact, before there was a moon, He is God.

He has no beginning and no end. He is immensitas as theologians have declared – He simply is. He exists independently of anything that is.

He is never confused. Never perplexed. He is never uncertain. He is never outmatched. He remains unimpressed. He has never consulted Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Steven Jobs or Bill Gates about anything! He is up to date and never goes out of date. He understands the internet, microchips, mobile collaboration, smartphones, 3-D printing, oculus rifts, robots, neuromorphic chips and the Apple Watch.

He has never had to explore outer space, wait for a photograph of Pluto or wonder if there is life on Mars and He was never waiting for the human genome to be mapped because He spoke it all into existence and all creation bears His signature!

He is the incomparable God of this universe. He sits now enthroned in eternity high and lifted up with the 24 elders worshiping Him, seraphim praising Him while angels do His bidding.

From the first to the last, He is God!

What does He owe us? Seriously? Is that really a question?