(F)acebook Faith

19 02 2011

Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”

Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.  James 2:14-18 The Message

It all began innocently enough…just a normal morning with a quick perusal of Facebook to “connect” with all my friends in a meaningful way : ) and then I saw it :

 “someone”  likes put jesus back in school on Causes

Those of you who know me well are probably thinking, “Oh dear, I hope she didn’t click on it!”  Those of you who don’t know me well are probably thinking, “What’s wrong with that?  That’s a great cause.”  

I did click on it hoping, but sadly not expecting, to see some great practical suggestions of how WE can be Jesus in the schools,  but what I found was what I’ve cynically (I’m not proud of that!) come to expect. Comments such as: 

Joke: Dear God, why do let all these bad things happen in schools. A concerned student. Dear concerned student, I’m not allowed in school! What a crying shame!!!! In God’s Grace

 Take the guns out of school. Put JESUS back in.

 jesus should never been taken out of the schools. they would be alot more polite kids

 Here is what I think…Jesus never left the schools!  I find it somewhat amazing that we believe we can legislate Jesus in or out of  schools. Jesus called US, His followers, to be Him to the world.  That doesn’t mean when we wear a Christian t-shirt, expend all our energy to fight to post the ten-commandments or have the Lord’s Prayer read in schools, leave a tract in the form of fake money lying around hoping someone will pick it up, press like on a cause on Facebook, or go to church every time the doors are open that we’ve done our jobs.  Far from it.  Jesus called us to be the light of the world – how can we do that if we’re only hanging out in the light and rarely venture into the darkness? It is messy, it’s not program driven, it’s very relational, it’s what we as the body of Christ are called to do and it’s rarely easy!

Too often we use so much of our time and energy to fight for our “rights” as Christians when truthfully we forfeit “rights” when we become followers of Christ and choose to follow His commands.  We can be a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal all we want to be, but if we don’t have love, we are nothing.

So, as I step on my own toes, what do we do?  I pray that the 52, 751 who pressed “like” on Facebook are already putting feet to their faith, but here are some suggestions, and I’m hoping you will add more.  

  • If you walk or run, include a school on your daily route.  Pray for students, families, faculty, and staff as you make a loop or loops around the school.  Even if you don’t walk or run, pray every time you drive by a school. 
  • Volunteer to listen to elementary students read or to read to a class.
  • Volunteer to give ongoing help in an after school tutoring program.
  • Ask your Sunday School class, ladies Bible study, Men’s Fraternity, etc. to adopt class at school or sponsor a lunch for the faculty.  Money is nonexistent and still being cut, so schools are thrilled to have a group help out.
  • Help your local school’s FCA program.  I sponsor FCA at our school and we have 200+ students coming.  About half of those don’t go to church and we would love to have more adults involved!
  • Get involved with PTO/PTA at your local school to be in the school in meaningful ways.
  • Volunteer with Big Brothers/Big Sisters to invest in the life of a young person who really needs a mentor.
  • Volunteer to hang out with kids, help with homework, or play games at a local shelter or children’s home.
  • Invest your time with children and young people at your church and encourage your church to reach way beyond its walls to do the same

I am in a middle school with 1450 students for 180 days each year.  In my position I am often involved with students who have lived a life I can’t even begin to comprehend.  I have many times thought that I may be the only person who has ever prayed for this child.  Whew!  I don’t ever want to forget or take lightly the privilege I have every day.   

To be continued…

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(F)inisher

12 02 2011

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  ~Hebrews 12:1-2a

One simple word, “Finisher”, is engraved on my two half-marathon medals.  There is a unique story for each runner who receives the title of finisher.  My story is highlighted in a note posted on my Facebook page entitled Before and After, so I won’t tell it again, but thought I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way to becoming a finisher.  Funny thing…I’ve realized most of these lessons can be applied to every walk of life, so here we go:

Running is best shared with a friend.  My best friend, Debbie, was a PE teacher out of college.  I was not.  However, for almost 4 years we have walked and we now run almost every day.  She encourages me and holds me accountable.  We talk, we laugh, we sing, we pray, we ask and answer tough questions, we’re quiet at times and we live life together on the trail.  So many things in life are best shared with a buddy.

When your mind tells you your body can’t go any further, it’s lying.  The mind can be a great asset, but an equally great enemy.  When I think I’ve run the last step I can run, most of the time I take the challenge and keep going and going.  Mental hurdles are roadblocks not dead ends.

Set a goal and work toward it.  When I first started running, I ran for 1 minute and thought I would die, but we set a goal of running for 3 minutes and then walking for 3 minutes.  I set my watch to chime at every 3 minute interval and would go for miles.  Eventually I could run 6 minutes, then 9, and then an entire mile without stopping to walk.  That was a little over a year ago.  Every time I met a goal, I would set another.  Today, I ran for 2 hours and 23 minutes without stopping. 

Celebrate Small Victories.  Debbie is a great journaler and has a record of so many of our small victories.  “Walked 5 miles today without stopping”; “Ran 1 mile!”  “Ran first sub 10 minute mile!”  “Ran 5.2 miles”  So many little “firsts” have been recorded on this journey and we’ve celebrated every one! 

Failure is inevitable, but rarely permanent.   In running, as in life, we will fail.  What we do with that failure is up to us.  I’ve recently gone through a series of failures on the running trail. (see lesson 2) It began after finishing our first half-marathon in November.  The following week, we went out for a run.  Debbie suggested 4 miles; I scoffed and said 6. We went for 6 but I stopped at 4 and WALKED the last 2 – epic fail (and I should have listened to her!)  The next few weeks out running I found myself often stopping before our goal mileage.  It was mental; it was physical, and it was maddening because I’m stubborn (ask my Mom) and I don’t like to give up!  I had to process the failure, work through it, and then decide to start again…small.  2 miles – success!  3 miles – success!  You get the idea… 

Preparation is key.  My Dad has a saying that’s often true when things go belly up – “PPP” – poor prior planning.  So many things that I never thought of are necessary for a good run.  1. Good shoes that fit well.  Spend the money, it’s so worth it.  Go to a store that specializes in running to be fitted.  Trust me on this.  Disclaimer – this may be TMI for the guys  2. Girls need good support and the correct undergarments are essential.  Guess that’s enough said, but it makes the difference between being able to run and not being able to run for me.  3. Get running clothes that work for you.  They don’t have to be expensive, but comfortable for the long haul which usually means flat seams, wicking, and double layer socks to prevent friction.  4.  Fuel your body well and NEVER, EVER  try something new (sports drink, energy gel, breakfast, etc) on race day!   Your stomach will thank you for it.  

Little things can turn into big things.  A tiny blister, a toenail cut too short, chaffing, a pedicure that messes with your calluses – these are all little things can totally derail a runner.  Read this as “lessons learned the hard way”!

Encouragement is vital.  I was reminded of that again today.  We are not elite runners and never will be.  Today was an out and back and I wasn’t far off my prediction of when we would meet runners coming back as we were going out.  We clapped and cheered for them just as many along the course clapped and cheered for us…it’s powerful!  NEVER underestimate the impact of encouraging words for those ahead and behind you.  We passed a girl today on mile 11…she had quit running and was walking.  As we passed her, I didn’t think to encourage her, but she said, “Great job ladies”.  Wow…

There is no time like the present.   Everyone has something they’d like to do, but think they can’t.  So what are you waiting for?