Thursday, February 6, 2014
In the gospels there is a story about an effort to catch Jesus off guard. Some religious people bring Jesus a woman who was caught in the “very act” of adultery. They told him the law requires us to stone this woman. Jesus did not disagree. He stooped down and began doodling in the dirt.
Recently, many Christians have been feeling overwhelmed with what they perceive to be a legal assault on their faith. Laws upholding marriage as being between one man and one woman have been challenged in court, and they have failed. Abortion continues to be legal in spite of many efforts to stop it. Christian symbols are being systematically removed from our public places. Prayer in public is discouraged at best and banned at worst. It seems the entire world is against us. We have fought hard to outlaw sin. We have inherited a Christian nation and we must fight hard to keep it that way. Jesus would want this, wouldn't he? I am not so sure.
When Jesus stood there drawing in the sand, I am sure the gentlemen around him were convinced the law made their society more holy. The law must be respected. The law must show people what is right. Recently a Federal court overruled an Oklahoma Law limiting marriage to one man one woman. Many in my circle were concerned this was a major setback for believers. Others felt they were being pressured to keep their Christian views to themselves. They felt their religious faith was unwelcome and their views scorned.
So, what is a Christian to do? The answer for many believers is more signatures on a petition, more organization for elections, more courage to make the law reflect our beliefs, less tolerance of those who disagree. At some point this entire focus has become troubling to me. Many who proclaim trust in the gospel believe our law makes us a Christian nation. It appears we have forgotten that the law is horribly ineffective at changing the hearts and minds of men. We have forgotten that our battle is not to change laws or keep laws or to make laws. Our battle is to introduce people to the Savior. It is he who has the power to change the hearts and minds of men. Meanwhile Jesus writes, "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it." Then Jesus says, “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.”
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I made my way back to my podium, finished giving instructions, and then read the note. The print was bold, blue and loopy with hearts and wavy scribbles draped across the empty spaces. I didn't need to read it to know what was going on, but of course I did anyway.
A girl in one of my later classes was asking this young man out. It was thoughtful and considerate and well written. I thought it was a very unawkward note for such an awkward request. I slipped the note into my book a few pages behind the section we were reading.
Later, just after I had sent in the roll for my next class, I noticed the girl that had written the note sitting at the back of the room. I held the note up to give it to her and before I could say anything, and I mean anything she brought both hands up to her eyes, began sobbing and ran out of the room to the counselor's office. I was shocked. The rest of the class said that she already dealt with that situation, and that it did not go well.
Of course, as soon as she returned I apologized and again I was impressed with the maturity with which she accepted my apology.
In my last class of the day one of my normally happy students had a distant expression on her face. Of course, I figured that she was sad from some other teen relationship gone awry, so I asked her if she was alright. She said, "Yes."
"Well, good," I said. "I just noticed that you looked like you were a long way away just now."
She said, "I was a long way away. Sometimes it is just difficult." There was a pause.
"What is difficult?" I asked.
"Mr. Gibson did you know that my mother died last Christmas?"
My shoulders slumped forward, and I sighed heavily and said, "I am so sorry. I had no idea."
"Yeah, Mr. Gibson, sometimes I can't help wondering what this next Christmas will be like."
I said nothing for quite a while. I didn't know what to say. Finally, I asked her if she lived with her dad and if they were making plans.
She said, "No, Mr. Gibson, I live with my grandparents. My dad's in prison. I do hope to see him soon though."
Here is what I want you to understand. Both of these young ladies have been great in my class room. I am proud of them both, but as I think about it I just realize how pleased I am to have students in my class who can teach me as much as I can teach them.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
When I was very young my family went to "Platt National Park" for a family reunion. I remember almost nothing about the trip except that it was a day when I almost died.
Platt National Park is now called Chickasaw National Recreation area and it is a wonderful place to camp and swim in the freezing cold spring water. One swimming hole there stands out above all the rest as a destination for families to escape the summer heat...Little Niagara.
Little Niagara is close to the nature center at the park and features a 6 foot waterfall that empties into a small pool. On this particular day I remember watching as all of the older kids would creep out to the middle of the Falls, motion for their families to watch and then jump into the water. Each time someone went in they would yell when they surfaced because of the cold. I had already paddled around the shallow end of the pool, but now I was focused on the falls. To be able to defy gravity for a short period of time was something I longed to try.
I pulled my pale, almost blue, shivering body out of the shallow end and waltzed toward the falls. I had no plan. I was just getting closer to the action.
A few feet from the falls I noticed that the bank was steep and rocky, and there was a single tree growing from the steep ground close to the water. Many older people were sitting in lawn chairs a few feet from the tree. Occasionally one of the adults sitting there would applaud the teenagers as they grew more and more daring leaping into the pool with twists and somersaults and dives. I was fascinated.
Then I noticed that by the tree was a submerged shelf just under the water. That would be a great observation post. I crawled down the bank and began to re accustom myself to the cold water.
I realized that the shelf was a bit deeper in the water than I thought. Once my feet were resting on it my head was barely above the water. Looking up the bank I could barely see the adults sitting in their lawn chairs watching, smiling, talking.
Suddenly, a huge splash sent a wave of water over my head. I struggled to maintain my balance and felt my feet slip from the shelf. Now I was in over my head and I couldn't swim. I must have been about 5 or 6 years old, and I was in full panic. No one could hear me scream because I was too busy taking deep breaths on the few occasions that my head popped above the water. I looked back up the banks and there were two men leaning back in their chairs looking back at me. I went under again. I bobbed back up. They were still there, smiling at me. I tried to say help, but they just smiled.
I went under again. My arms and feet were in full flail. I was unable to coordinate my movements to make any progress. Finally, the surface and another breath. I went under again. I bobbed back up with my body bouncing from the wild movements of my limbs. I went under one more time and could barely see the smiling faces of the men through the cool clear water. They were still staring at me. I was too busy moving and bobbing to think anything dreadful. I was just trying to breathe, but I do remember a hot angry feeling warming me as I watched their apathetic smiles. I was sinking and flailing and sinking. Then, miraculously to me, one of my feet struck the shelf. I was able to gain just enough traction to get my hands close enough to the bank to find an exposed root of that tree. I pulled and brought my face out of the water long enough to gasp and breathe. I looked up. The men were still there laughing now instead of smiling.
At that time time I had no idea what to do. I had no words to share with the men who enjoyed my show so thoroughly. I was anxious to get away from the falls. I wanted to be away from the laughing and smiling. As I think back I think I know what would have happened if I would have been as knowledgeable as I am now. I wouldn't have said anything, but I think I have a few gestures that I would have shared with them.
I realized recently that there was something very spiritual about that little event. If you would have seen that little show for yourself many years ago you would have probably thought about how nicely I controlled myself in a stressful situation. You may have thought that I was embarrassed and you may have even felt sorry for me, but you would have missed the point.
I was angry and I would have if I could have. I think many times we think that when we are young we are innocent, that we don't know enough to make a mess of things, but I really believe that this is a wrong perspective. when we are young we aren't innocent. We still have the feelings and attitudes that can make us despicable as adults. Just because we are young does not mean that we are innocent. It just means that we are unarmed.
Last Friday I parked my motorcycle in front of the new performing arts center at
So, with a terrible year behind me, I worked hard, real hard. I did everything I could to teach well, to win hearts and minds and to make a lasting impact on the lives of my students. I thought I had made a lot of progress toward becoming the effective teacher that I felt like I once was. While spending my summer at Falls Creek as the recreation director I would occasionally see one of my students. In fact, I actually looked forward to seeing them and finding out how their summer was going.
So it was with a glad heart that I walked into the beginning of my new school year. When I got through the doors I saw a colleague of mine from the 7th grade team. I was a bit surprised to see her because I was almost 20 minutes early. When she saw me she walked over to me and said, "I saw some of our students the other day and they had some wonderful things to say about you. You may even be their hero!"
In spite of my desire to yell, "TELL ME WHAT THEY SAID!!!" I played it off with an understated, "Oh, really?" I thought Yesss! Someone is going to say that I was a great teacher because I worked hard to make great lessons that inspired my students to aspire to greatness. Maybe they would say that they learned a lot, or that they felt like they understood geography a bit better. Any of those would things help to confirm that my teaching career was headed in the right direction.
My colleague smiled at me and said, "Yes Trent, I ran into several of your students and they said that you were great because when you saw them at Falls Creek this summer you gave them a ride on your golf cart."
Really?!? Great because of a golf cart ride? I was disappointed, but I was careful not let it show. I smiled at my fellow teacher and said, "Yip, they do love those golf carts." Then I began developing a new plan to make this year even better than any that had come before. I felt like it was foolproof. It might even get me teacher of the year sometime... All I need is a golf cart that fits in my classroom.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Well, I got to thinkin'. It seems to me that many believers today are rebelling against denominational stances against alcohol because they have found that the prohibition against it does not jive with conviction in the veracity of scripture. But, this has left many in an uncomfortable position of having to justify their own abstinence. This, to me, is sad.
Abstinence for a believer does not have to do with how something tastes, or how healthy it is, or its color, or even how other people feel about it. For a believer the standard is Jesus. Whether you drink or not, whether you abstain or not it is for the glory of the Lord. Taste, What other people do or the current phase of the moon does not matter.
I hope for myself that I will be able to quit saving face with man to be obedient to God.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
"No, I haven't, and when I get to heaven I will be able to tell Jesus that I have never seen them."
"Well, Jesus will say you missed a good movie."