Quite often teachers tell me about their difficulties with managing student behaviors. It seems to be one of the reasons they leave the profession earlier than planned. Last week, I assisted a teacher with mock interviews. One of the students, a high school junior, said she wanted to be a pediatrician, because she loves working with children. She said she would not become a teacher because of how she has observed teachers being treated by students. “I wouldn’t be able to handle that,” she said. “They are disrespectful and do not know how to talk to adults. No ma’am. I cannot be a teacher.”
Last week I had a conversation with a teacher, from Kenya, about a recent interaction with a student. He said he asked her to wait in the hallway until she calmed down, but she refused, told him to mind his…business. She was unconsoled by her friends, was hitting them, using profanities, and interrupted him as he attempted to check attendance and begin the lesson. He said he threatened to write her up, but that did not influence her to calm down. After a few more exchanges, he said to her, “I’m sorry, but you really need to shut up.” That, he said, made it worse. He said it got so bad that the students, her friends, turned on her, agreeing with him. He said she finally calmed down, but it offered him very little time to teach the lesson he had planned. I asked if he had written a referral. This was his response, “No ma’am, I did not. I have written her up many times before and she just keeps repeating this behavior. I’m pretty sure she’s dealing with something at home. I don’t know what it is because I cannot talk with her. She received the rebuke of her friends. There is no greater reprimand than rebuke of your peers!
I ask myself what causes children to act this way. I hear this type of thing from teachers all the time. I’ve seen it for myself, in classrooms. Why? Why are our children not grateful for the education they are receiving? Why would they rather disrupt the classroom than learn the information their teacher has prepared to teach? A few years ago I became the sub for a teacher who left mid-year. Each day, it seemed the students wanted me to fight with them and if I won the battle, I would earn the right to teach that day. Several reasons have come to mind and they all are in regards to parenting.
We often refer to Proverbs 22:6 as a verse about how we should raise our children in the fear and admonishment of the Lord. I’ve heard it said that this verse is about helping children to begin using their God-given gifts and talents at a young age. It states, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” I’d like to use this Scripture to point out that children learn from what they see in their parents. We are teaching them inadvertently. They mimic our behaviors and attitudes. If they hear us speaking negatively or disrespectfully about their teacher or their school, they will do it, too. If they sit in on a parent-teacher conference and witness us blaming the teacher or challenging his/her classroom rules, they will do it too. If we start our children off without teaching them the value of school, the value of education, the value of their teacher’s time - they will never know the importance of it. In fact, they may spoil the educational experience for their classmates.
Proverbs 29:15, 17 has more on the topic of parenting. 15”A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother. 17"Discipline your children, and they will give you peace, they will bring you the delights you desire.” You may have seen in last week’s news that James and Jennifer Crumbley had their first court appearance. The charges claim that they created a chaotic home life, knew their son needed mental health care, but did not provide it, and bought him the gun that he used to kill 4 of his classmates in a school shooting last year. Parents, what you do matters! Your care and conversation with your children can make or break their future. It can also make or break the future of their peers.
In the OT we read about Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli. All three were priests of the Lord. Scripture tells us that “Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord.”1 Sam. 2:12 Their sinful deeds went on for a time until “Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” He spoke with them about it, but they did not change their behavior. God is patient with his children, and we can mistake His patience for absence. We may think that because He hasn’t punished us, that He won’t. There is folly in that thinking. We don’t know how many years passed, but God did punish Eli for allowing his sons to continue to dishonor the people’s sacrifices. He accused Eli of honoring his sons more than he honored the Lord. (v. 29) He punished Eli’s family with the wage of sin. Death. “...Although good will be done to Israel, no one in your family line will ever reach old age. 33Every one of you that I do not cut off from serving at my altar I will spare only to destroy your sight and sap your strength, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life 34“‘And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you—they will both die on the same day.” (v.32-34)
Parents, you matter. How you parent matters. You are training up the next generation. Yes, you should teach your children the ways of the Lord, but we must not neglect to teach them and demonstrate to our children the heart of God. The future is in our hands. Our teachers deserve better. They are imparting knowledge to the next generation, our children’s future is in their hands. We must support teachers and discipline our children. Amen.
Sometimes Scripture Makes Me Laugh
I could be alone in this, but there are a few passages of Scripture that give me a true LOL moment. I came across one this week in the first chapter of 2 Kings this week. Ahaziah, the king of Israel, fell through the lattice of his upper room and had what he thought could be life-threatening injuries. He sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, their idol god, to ask if he would recover. Along the way the messengers ran into God’s faithful prophet, Elijah. After asking a clarifying and possibly sarcastic question, Elijah said, “Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!”
Having an answer to the question, the messengers went back to Ahaziah. Since their trip didn’t seem to take as long as the king estimated it should take, he asked them, “Why have you come bacK?” They said, “A man came to meet us…he said, ‘this is what the LORD says…you will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’” The king asked them, “What kind of man was it who came to meet you and told you this?” They replied, “He had a garment of hair and had a leather belt around his waist.” The king said, “That was Elijah the Tishbite.”
I had to laugh at this! I read it as, “That ain’t nobody but Elijah the Tishbite!” I laughed! That was a rather vague description, but the king quickly and correctly concluded the identity of the man! How? What were the clues - the clothing, the words, or the “coincidence” of meeting up with him?
In 1 Kings 17 Elijah is introduced as he announced the prophecy of drought, “neither rain nor dew,” over the land of Israel. God directed him away from the drought and protected him from those who wanted him dead for three years. God then sent him back for a fiery showdown against the 850 prophets of Baal in the presence of Ahaziah’s father, then king Ahab. Maybe Ahab had told his son about Elijah, or maybe Ahaziah had met Elijah before, but we read in 2 Kings 1, that he correctly identified him from a vague description. (And he did die in the bed.)
Earlier this week, my son’s friend was about to tell me about a situation, then he said, “Zach told me not to tell you because he knows what you will say.” Over the weekend, Nick asked me to pick up a few items in Walmart and due to “supply chain issues,” I had to make a substitution. I heard his friend say, “I knew your mom would do that!” In conversation this week, a friend used me as an example, “If somebody told me Kim did that, I would never believe them, not in a million years would Kim do that! That would be totally out of character for her!” On Monday morning, I borrowed a classroom for a presentation. Someone came over the PA system and asked for the teacher who loaned me her classroom. When I said, “I’m sorry, this is Kim Massey, she’s not here,” the person said, “Oh, Mrs. Massey, someone just called the school to ask us to tell you your dog is loose.” I still don’t know who made the phone call or how I was tracked down, but I’m glad someone who knew me, recognized Bubba, and cared enough to make a phone call, maybe several!
It’s good to be known, sometimes. How are you known? Over the course of a friendship, in marriage, at work, through raising our children, or interacting with their friends, we come to be known. People know us by the ways in which we conduct ourselves, the jokes we thell, the questions we ask, the advice we give, and how we react in different situations. All of these things make up our character. People will expect certain things of us, good or bad, based on our history of past conduct. In Scripture, many of the kings of Judah are described as having done, “evil in the eyes of the Lord and sinned more than all those before him.” We don’t know if the people of Judah knew the sinfulness of their leadership, but we do know that they were led astray, and the kings “aroused the anger of the LORD.” People know us, but more than that, the Lord knows us. Proverbs 16:2 tells us, “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” I don’t know who will write my obituary or give my eulogy, but my character will be summarized in their description. Regardless of what they say, I want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:21 Amen.
For the Love of Money
After a very good friend asked me to help her find an apartment, I made a few phone calls. I have heard about the increasing cost to rent and the Fed’s increase in interest rates. Last year when we needed to rent an apartment, between houses, I experienced a bit of sticker shock, myself. In 1998, I rented a 2 bed 2 bath (new construction) apartment in Rock Hill, SC for $575/month. I called that place to ask about current rates for a 2 bed 2 bath and found the rent to now be “$1460/month and it includes water and washer/dryer connections.” I was a bit surprised and also troubled. When I lived there, it was my first year of teaching and my take home pay was less than $1460/month. Fortunately, by the grace of God, my parents had purchased my car, I didn’t have any student loans and I didn’t have any children, so I was able to make it work.
Last year we rented a 2 bed 2 bath apartment at a rate of $1260/month. I called the complex last week to inquire about current rates for 2 bed 2 bath units. “1791/month and it includes stainless steel appliances and a washer and dryer.” Frankly, if that price tag doesn't include 5 acres of land and that payment that leads to ownership in 20 years, I don’t want it! Unbelievable. I do Bible study at a women’s shelter each week and the ladies keep me abreast of rental rates as they are all in need of a permanent place to live.
Last year, when we listed our house for sale, I didn’t agree with the price calculated by my realtor. I didn’t want to be the first home in the neighborhood to cross a certain price point. Of course, the extra money would be awesome, but to me it would set a precedent and the next house to list would list for $5000 more and the next would list for $5000 more than that, and so on. I think home ownership is a privilege and I think every family should, at some point, own a home. I purchased my first home after living in an apartment for 7 months, just before my first year of teaching was complete. I want all young teachers and young professionals to be able to afford such a necessity. I prayed about a list price and also expressed to the Lord that our move was not accompanied by any increase in income (which He already knew). He knew we needed to make an “even exchange” that gave us more land area and potentially less square-footage. Sometimes, I don’t know if the Lord is answering my prayers or if I am praying and arriving at answers myself - maybe you wonder the same! I arrived at an asking price, our house went under contract then we wrote 6 contracts for homes to purchase, and none were accepted. We moved to an apartment, and just a few days later a house listed at the same price as our previous home…I prayed about it, I looked at it, liked it, prayed about it and wrote a contract. The realtor suggested I offer more than asking, which I prayed about and increased my offer, we are living in that house now! Did you catch the part about it being listed at the same price as our list price - that was a definite answer to prayer!
I don’t know what it’s worth now, but the couple who bought our old house has moved out of it already. They sold it for nearly $100,000 more than they bought it in 2021. I am not ready to leave my answer to prayer!
What’s causing this “housing crisis?” My mind goes to the Scripture that states, ”For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” This phrase is only a part of 1 Timothy 6:10, however, and this chapter contains a whole segment about seeking financial gain. 1 Timothy is one of Paul’s two letters to Timothy, a young pastor working in the church at Ephesus. It is sound advice for church leadership, but is also applicable to our everyday walk with Jesus.
Godliness with contentment is great gain. We must get our wants under control. There are all kinds of things this world has to offer, but not all of it is good for us. It’s common to desire something to the point that our minds can make the item seem like a need. Desiring to be like Jesus should be our greatest desire. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. Have you ever helped to clean out the home of someone after they have died? I haven’t done this, specifically, but I have been to a few estate sales. We die and leave a lifetime of accumulated clothes, shoes, hobby items, books, then there are furnishings, electronics, cars, etc. Everything is left behind. Jesus said in Matthew 16:26 “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” Our soul is what matters, not all of the stuff we see on Amazon. None of it will go when we go. What we need to focus on is our relationship with Christ.
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs Loving money is a trap. Money is like stuff. It can be helpful in many ways, but it is not the key to heaven. It does not lead to happiness or joy or peace. Loving money can take our eyes off serving God, and make us servants to ourselves. To me there’s something morally corrupt about a landlord who would raise his tenant's rent to the degree the tenant cannot afford it. It’s greedy to set rent prices so high that your tenant cannot possibly pay the rent and save up to be able to afford a mortgage one day. It’s evil to ask so much in rent that few can afford it and every week on the news you see, just like everyone else sees reports about the housing crisis and more and more homeless families.
To those seeking a place to live, pray. Your Heavenly Father knows your need. He will provide for you, in His time. And when He does, let it be a testimony that you share with others, how He provided. Take care of your new home. I used to tell my children “cleanliness is Godliness,” as if it were a Scripture. It’s not, but one way to show our gratitude to God is by taking care of that which He provides. When you move, clean up so that the landlord doesn’t incur any cleaning fees he will then feel justified to pass on to the next tenant. When God provides for you, do your part to continue the flow of blessings. Amen.
Winded, but Willing
We didn't attend church last Sunday. Yesterday, I took about 3 naps...and felt guilty about it, but according to my phone I slept an average of 4hrs 32min each night last week, so... Today we slept in, ate breakfast, missed the first 2 services at our church, but I said, "the devil is a liar - I am attending somebody's church today!" We went to Elevation's 11:30am service, late, but Pastor Furtick was sharing the Scripture passage from which his message was based. Matthew 14:22-36. It was the passage in which Jesus sent His disciples to cross the lake to Gennesaret, it was when Peter walked on the water out to meet Jesus, until he saw the wind and faltered.
Furtick called his message "winded." He talked about how we all get winded, or tired, how we lack sufficient "Christian Cardio." He said no matter how tired we are we must depend on His wind to do His work. He said, and it is very true, "The Holy Spirit does not consult human schedules." If we read the preceeding passages, we see that the disciples and Jesus, Himself, were also tired. In Matthew 14:1-12, Jesus' friend and cousin, John the Baptist was killed. In Matthew 14:13-21, Jesus learns of this, withdraws to a solitary place to grieve, briefly, then another crowd has formed, The disciples want to send them away because it is already late (v.15) but Jesus says no, we will feed them. There were 5000 men, but also women and children (v.21). As the child of a former caterer, I can attest to how exhausting this type of work can be, and with no preparation - they didn't rest up for this, they didn't have their minds right, Jesus said it was to be done and they did it - they didn't even have enough food, but they never ran out. Then they cleaned up after the crowd. "Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd." (Mat. 14:22). So after this huge catering affair, immediately, Jesus voluntold His disciples to get into the boat, and it wasn't a sailboat, but a row boat to head to the other side and the wind was against it (v. 24).
As Jesus walked on the water out to the boat, in the windy conditions, the disciples were afraid both due to the storm and seeing this figure appearing to walk on the water. When He spoke to them they recognized Him, but Peter wanted to walk out and join Him. “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
So, today at church, I was convicted by this passage and Furtick's message. I am winded. After today's message, I wonder if I may be taking the cultural stance of the importance of self-care too far. During Covid, we all became accustomed to church on TV and after so long, we began to enjoy two, fullI, weekend days. Once churches reopened, using Saturday and Sunday as days of rest had become a habit. When I think about taking on new tasks and duties, I also think about what I am going to give up. I wrote this blog each week for 4 years. In that time, we began to desire a new home, and God provided just that. We wanted a home with some projects to complete - God provided that. I let the stress of the projects convince me that I should take a break from the blog. Now, with the difficulty of finding people to do the work, the projects have been delayed, but God has not rescinded the calling He put on my life. He's waiting, patiently, for me to get it together and be obedient. But how long will He be patient?
He gave me a book to write during the closure of 2020. I wrote it, I've had a few people to proofread it and give me feedback, but I haven't fixed the mistakes they pointed out and I have not published the book. How long will He wait?
In about 2019, I dreamed I was in the pulpit preaching the Word of God to a large and responsive crowd. I dreamed it multiple nights in a row, but I said nothing about it. Finally, I told my husband, who is a licensed and ordained minister. He told me to calm down about that, that being a minister was a whole lot of work, that I should be careful what I ask for. I didn't ask for it. I told my Pastor and another friend who is a Pastor - I asked what I needed to do. Both were very cool about it and advised me to continue to pray. I have. I haven't had those dreams anymore. I have been asked to speak a few times during church service, but here lately, I am not satisfied with sitting having a message shared with me, I know the Word of God for myself and believe I am called to share it with anyone willing to listen. He already told me. How long will He wait?
I have realized today that we can get winded in a whole lot of ways. We can get winded by our grief. Jesus was grieving the loss of John the Baptist, but He still did His work. I lost my dog this past summer and all yard work ceased - I got winded. We can get winded by delays. We can get winded when the pile of work seems endless. We can get winded by the news - gas prices are about to rise, food prices are rising, the stage for nuclear war is being set, there's a hurricane coming - all of these things can cause us to pull back from the work God has called us to do. I've decided today, and I'm proclaiming it publicly, I'm winded, but I'm willing. Lord, use me. Lord, I am here to do the work you have planned for me to do. And, Lord, I'm ready to do it now. Lead me, Lord. Reveal my next steps.
How long will He wait? In this year's Bible study, we are reading in 1 Kings 11 about the kings of Israel. Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, loved the foreign women. He was told, "You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Solomon married 700 women of royal birth and 300 concubines. After some time the Lord told him, "Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. 12Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.” How long will He wait? We do not know. He gives us Scripture so that we know His character and how He has intervened and provided and punished and protected and loved those who claim to love Him in the past. How long will He wait? That is not for me to know. I know what He has told me and I know that He gives me a choice - to be obedient or not to be obedient. I am choosing obedience. I am winded, but willing. Amen. What about you?
I am a wife, mother,