Tuesday, February 17, 2009

On Teaching...

I am blessed to work at a Christian school, each year we have a day of spiritual renewal where all three school staffs (pre school, elementary, and middle) come together to learn and grow spiritually. This year our speaker was Sid Buzzel. Sid happens to be one of my favorite people of all time. He was my New Testament teacher when I was going to school at CCU. The class was life changing for me and any time I get a chance to learn from Sid I take it! His message today was outstanding, I wish that I had podcasted or filmed it so you could all experience it first hand. Since I didn't, you'll have to take the blog version.

Sid started by listing all of the requirements it takes to be a teacher: a degree, a license, certification, recertification, ongoing professional development, etc. "The enormous importance of what teachers do is reflected in the care we take to insure they are worthy of the trust we place in them." Then Sid had us reflect on teaching. Of all the teacher requirements, list any you would name as competing for "Most Important". Go ahead and think about your answer, what do you think the most important characteristic of a teacher is? Write it down...commit it to paper. I listed someone who is a life long learner, passionate, a mentor, compassionate, and kind. (As a short side note, Sid said, "the primary function of classroom management is managing the teacher" love that!)

James 3:1 says "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check." Why is it that teachers are judged more strictly? Could it be because we are role models? Our students model our behavior. So not only are our actions affecting our own life, they are also shaping the way that others live their lives.
So, what does James say is the most important qualification for teachers? James 1:2 says that teachers are to 'keep their whole "self" under control'.

James follows this with the 'tongue' being the symbol for our whole life. James 3:1-18 is all about control. In verses 3-6 the 'tongue' is compared to other small things that control larger things. 3-4 talks about controling a horse (a large animal) with a bit (a small piece of metal). Likewise a very large ship is controlled with a small rudder. James is pointing to a larger truth here, that small things can have a huge impact. (A small spark can set a whole forest on fire.) Our speech is an indicator of larger things, it can control our whole lives.
"Your small 'tongue' reveals GREAT TRUTH about you!"

James follows this illustration with the bad news about the tongue. In 7-8 James says that no one can tame the tongue, it is a restless evil, it is full of deadly poison, it is the world of iniquity, it defiles our entire body, it sets on fire the course of our life, and it is set on fire by hell. At this point you may be thinking "gee, if James is saying that NO ONE can tame the tongue, I'm sunk...there is no hope for getting this thing under control."
Out of the same mouth can come praise and cursing. This is not consistent with the rest of nature. Fresh and salt water cannot come out of the same stream, an grape vine cannot produce figs. Could it be that a cursing tongue cannot, by its very nature, praise? James 11-12 again tells us that the 'tongue' is a destructive thing we cannot control. (Keep reading, there is good news coming.) James 13-18 points us to how we become people who can teach.

At this point Sid gave us an acronym for spiritual formation that addresses the control issue.
C-O-R-E CORE stands for Circumstance (or context) Organism (person) Response Effect
Here is how the CORE works "I am thirsty" The circumstance is that I am thirsty, the organism is me, the response is that I get a drink, and the effect is that I'm not thristy any more. This is a simple illustration of the CORE concept. Obviously if you have a more serious circumstance like alcoholism, the desired effect may be harder to reach. Sometimes the response we have brings about the desired effect and sometimes it increases or adds to the problem. There are several ways that we try to address problems, we can set goals to bring about the desired effect, we can focus on the response and try to modify our behavior, or we can try to control the circumstance. By themselves, none of these are going to be enough. They may work for us for a while but in the end our will just won't be strong enough. What really needs to be focused on is the organism, the person. The CORE of our spiritual formation is the heart. The Bible talks a lot about the heart. In fact there are over 850 heart references! I won't go into them here but take a look at Luke 6:45, Matthew 12:34-35, Ephesians 3:14-21, and Mark 1:17-23.
Proverbs 4:23 says Above all else, guard your heart, for out of it flow the issues of life. Proverbs is a book of wisdom, Solomon gives us wisdom on a variety of life subjects and yet he says ABOVE ALL ELSE guard your heart. You see, the tongue is an indication of something deeper, you can't control the tongue but you can control the thing that controls the tongue. That is the heart. The heart has to be cleansed and fed in order for us to have control over it.

Sid gave us an excellent visual of a well where villagers can get clean water. No longer do the women of the village have to spend a third of their day collecting water. With a well they have clean drinking water. Then he said, suppose that an elephant fell into the well and died. Suppose it started to decay and stink, the well would cease to provide clean drinking water. What dead elephants do we have in out hearts that are making our water (tongue) dirty? Proverbs 4:24-26 teaches us how to cleanse the well. Sin, bitterness, anger, greed, and lust enter our heart. When a problematic circumstance arises, our response is clouded by the elephant in our well, as a result the product (effect) is also bad. To cleanse the well we need confession and forgiveness that brings a change in our heart. When the heart begins to change, the response and effect are going to be purer. We also need to feed the heart. We can feed the heart with Bible study, prayer, meditation, and fasting. We need to sit in God's presence. We will never have enough discipline to change our heart or tongue alone, we need God. You can't become a Christian by your own effort and you can't stay a Christian by your own effort. It is a daily walk, step by step. It is not a single act, "I became a Christian" it is a process.

Just as learning to read is a process, so is the Christian walk. When our students learn to read we don't stop them and say, "that is it you are now a reader...this is the point in time when you started reading." And then expect them to be able to read Shakespear. That moment in time when they started recognizing that letters form words and words form sentences, that is just a beginning point of their reading journey. The same is true of Christianity. That moment when Jesus enters your life is not all there is...it is the beginning of a process of learning and growth.

What we have to remember is that in those pressure moments with students, when they are making us crazy the decision about how we are going to respond has already been made. It all has to do with the state of our heart. If we have allowed constant sarcasm, bitterness, and anger into our heart, we will respond out of that place. But, if we are in the process of continually confessing, giving and receiving forgiveness, and feeding our heart, our response will be much different. It will be clean water coming from a clean well. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G.K. Chesterton What's Wrong With the World, 1910

In Galatians 5 Paul presents his explanation of how we control our 'tongue'. A Christian has two options for Life:
1. What our natural flesh produces- 5:19-21 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, sidcord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

OR option 2
2. What the Holy Spirit produces- 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Choose one option and live it! The key word in Galatians 5: 16 and 25 is walk. This is a walk, a journey and it happens one step at a time.

In James 3, James explains hwo we control our tongue. 3:13-18 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
Wisdom from the earth breeds (14-16) bitter envy, selfish ambition, disorder, and evil. It is unspiritual and of the devil.
Wisdom from above (18) is pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, impartial, and sincere.
Which of these characteristics would you prefer teachers to have?

James said that a teacher's most important qualification is...To develop self control. But the battle for control is not won or lost at the level of the tongue. The battle for control is won or lost at the level of the heart. The qulified teacher's first responsibility is to cultivate the Spirit's Fruit and Heavenly Wisdom by pracicing the Spiritual Disciplines God uses to transform us into the people He created us to be. What we say in the classroom reveals what they (our students) are.


  1. Totally Awesome.

    When I was in my first teaching year at my first "Meet the Teacher" night I was confronted by two leather-clad parents who told me that they were going to report me to the Principal. When I humbly asked why, they explained that I had described a dance routine their 6th grade daughter had choreographed and shown me in my drama class as "bitchen." Later that night at a birthday party for her grandfather, their daughter, my student, shared with her whole family what I had said. The parents told me, "It's not that we don't use 'bitchen' in our household, it's that you are a teacher and teachers are held to a higher standard."

    Tame the tongue, oh yes, tame the tongue.

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    I have an invitation for you to come and visit my art blog here in San Diego Southern California. I started this blog in an attempt at finding a creative way to find new friends, and explore my artistic skills through bloging. I have since found many new friends from an international audience. I hope you will stop by and enjoy the various labels and music videos I design for my art blog.
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  3. 請你這一次不要再刪
    跨宗教 跨領域
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    *Weiss 前世今生來生緣



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