some thoughts on scripture that blessed me while teaching #11
I thought about this Bible passage below as I was presenting Buddha’s life to my students during holiday of Buddha’s birthday. I encountered the Buddhist assertion that the cause of suffering is stupidity and selfish greed and I found this to be very similar to teachings in the Bible. But there is an important difference in that this Bible scripture below asserts that people need the Holy Spirit to change our thinking away from stupidity and selfish greed. Interesting to reflect on the statements that we were created to be like God and that someday we will be free from our sins.
Ephesians 4:17-5:2 (CEV)
The Old Life and the New Life
17As a follower of the Lord, I order you to stop living like stupid, godless people. 18Their minds are in the dark, and they are stubborn and ignorant and have missed out on the life that comes from God. They no longer have any feelings about what is right, 19and they are so greedy that they do all kinds of indecent things.
20-21But that isn’t what you were taught about Jesus Christ. He is the truth, and you heard about him and learned about him. 22You were told that your foolish desires will destroy you and that you must give up your old way of life with all its bad habits. 23Let the Spirit change your way of thinking 24and make you into a new person. You were created to be like God, and so you must please him and be truly holy.
25We are part of the same body. Stop lying and start telling each other the truth. 26Don’t get so angry that you sin. Don’t go to bed angry 27and don’t give the devil a chance.
28If you are a thief, quit stealing. Be honest and work hard, so you will have something to give to people in need.
29Stop all your dirty talk. Say the right thing at the right time and help others by what you say.
30Don’t make God’s Spirit sad. The Spirit makes you sure that someday you will be free from your sins.
31Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. 32Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.
some thoughts on scripture that blessed me while teaching #10
Philippians 2:1-13 (CEV)
1Christ encourages you, and his love comforts you. God’s Spirit unites you, and you are concerned for others. 2Now make me completely happy! Live in harmony by showing love for each other. Be united in what you think, as if you were only one person. 3Don’t be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. 4Care about them as much as you care about yourselves 5and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought: [a]6Christ was truly God.
7Instead he gave up everything [c] and became a slave,
when he became
like one of us.
8Christ was humble.
He obeyed God
and even died
on a cross.
9Then God gave Christ
the highest place
and honored his name
above all others.
10So at the name of Jesus
everyone will bow down,
those in heaven, on earth,
and under the earth.
11And to the glory
of God the Father
everyone will openly agree,
”Jesus Christ is Lord!”
12My dear friends, you always obeyed when I was with you. Now that I am away, you should obey even more. So work with fear and trembling to discover what it really means to be saved. 13God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him.
The passage above helped me as I tried to understand the differences between Buddhism and following Christ. The passage describes harmony and love as coming from Christ to me and then to others in response to the gospel, rather than from within me by my own effort as some Buddhist teachings assert.
Another stark difference between following Christ and Buddhism is the Bible’s assertion that Christ was God and Christ claimed to be God, while Sidhartha Buddha never proclaimed himself to be divine. However, there are many different and varying accounts of the Buddha’s birth and life because nobody wrote anything down about the Buddha until 500 or 600 years later. Some stories about the Buddha believe he is the incarnation of a god, and like many religious myths of founders, there are some stories that say he was fathered by the spirit of a god or gods as symbolized by the white elephants circling his mom as she became pregnant.
“The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done - men who are creative, inventive and discoverers”—
Jean Piaget quotes (Swiss Psychologist and pioneer in the study of child intelligence, 1896-1980) from thinkexist.com
This helps me reflect on my teaching goals and methods: Am I inspiring my students to be creative, inventive, and discovers inside and outside the world of intercultural communication and English language learning?
Some help from a sermon from a friend in San Diego, and the accompanying scripture.
What I learned, relearned, and will be learning that helped: I am saved, am being saved, and will be saved through faith in the gospel, so now I can and should act like it. (as opposed to acting like a “good christian” so I am, was, or will be saved).
16You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], He may give it to you.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
65And He said, This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted him [unless he is enabled to do so] by the Father.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
44No one is able to come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me attracts and draws him and gives him the desire to come to Me, and [then] I will raise him up [from the dead] at the last day.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
11For I want you to know, brethren, that the Gospel which was proclaimed and made known by me is not man’s gospel [a human invention, according to or patterned after any human standard].
12For indeed I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but [it came to me] through a [direct] revelation [given] by Jesus Christ (the Messiah).
13You have heard of my earlier career and former manner of life in the Jewish religion (Judaism), how I persecuted and abused the church of God furiously and extensively, and [with fanatical zeal did my best] to make havoc of it and destroy it.
14And [you have heard how] I outstripped many of the men of my own generation among the people of my race in [my advancement in study and observance of the laws of] Judaism, so extremely enthusiastic and zealous I was for the traditions of my ancestors.
15But when He, Who had chosen and set me apart [even] before I was born and had called me by His grace (His undeserved favor and blessing), saw fit and was pleased.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
5Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you; [and] I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
17For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Amplified Bible (AMP)
9Do you not know that the unrighteous and the wrongdoers will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived (misled): neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality,
10Nor cheats (swindlers and thieves), nor greedy graspers, nor drunkards, nor foulmouthed revilers and slanderers, nor extortioners and robbers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God.
11And such some of you were [once]. But you were washed clean (purified by a complete atonement for sin and made free from the guilt of sin), and you were consecrated (set apart, hallowed), and you were justified [pronounced righteous, by trusting] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
1AND YOU [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins
2In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God].
3Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings]. We were then by nature children of [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind.
4But God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us,
5Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).
6And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
7He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in [His] kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.
8For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;
9Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]
10For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].
The link is to a blog by a longtime friend who has helped me greatly in my profession, as I follow Jesus, and also as a good role model for a father and husband. All his posts on his blog have helped me and I hope you take time to follow them. Here’s a recent post of his, that he shared before a year or two ago but I forget where, and it was a big help to me.
Because it comes from one of my heroes, this helped me by providing a sort of confirmation of my decision to focus my esl/intercultural communication class materials on discussions about values, wisdom, and integrity.
4. Thus, what enables the wise sovereign and the good
general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond
the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.
5. Now this foreknowledge cannot be elicited from spirits;
it cannot be obtained inductively from experience,
nor by any deductive calculation.
6. Knowledge of the enemy’s dispositions can only
be obtained from other men.
THE ART OF WAR by Sun Tzu XIII.
Despite the war imagery, this was helpful in my emphasis to my intercultural communication students on the need to gather information about others in order to effectively persuade, cooperate, and reduce misunderstandings.
Some thoughts on scripture that blessed me while teaching #9
This passage below reminds me that I was saved by faith in the Gospel message, which is outlined in the passage also. I have peace with God and I am accepted by Him through the death of Christ. I was rescued by God when I was helpless, undeserving, and His enemy. He has empowered me with His Holy Spirit which lives in me to stop being His enemy by causing me to love God. My own wisdom and futile efforts to be a good Christian have nothing to do with God’s promise of salvation.
While I was teaching about Buddha on Buddha’s birthday, I learned that this Gospel is the opposite of Buddhist teachings which assert that each person can escape suffering through their own hard work invested in good deeds and self discipline in pursuit of truth. Understanding this major difference helped me communicate to my students how different Christianity and Buddhism are from each other.
Another important difference between Christ’s teachings and Buddha’s teachings was the focus on suffering. Christian teachings focus on regarding suffering as a joyful opportunity to glorify God, with the primary focus on glorifying God. It is not that Christians should go out and look for suffering. They should avoid it when possible. But when it is unavoidable, especially in light of the call of Christ to love our enemies and serve others, Christians are called to embrace a positive attitude towards suffering as an event that God will use to transform them into the likeness of Christ. Buddhist teachings have a primary focus on escaping suffering and helping others escape from suffering while learning from sufferings experienced.
Romans 5:1-11 (cev)
1By faith we have been made acceptable to God. And now, because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace [a] with God. 2Christ has also introduced us [b] to God’s undeserved kindness on which we take our stand. So we are happy, as we look forward to sharing in the glory of God. 3But that’s not all! We gladly suffer, [c] because we know that suffering helps us to endure. 4And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope 5that will never disappoint us. All of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love. 6Christ died for us at a time when we were helpless and sinful. 7No one is really willing to die for an honest person, though someone might be willing to die for a truly good person. 8But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful.
9But there is more! Now that God has accepted us because Christ sacrificed his life’s blood, we will also be kept safe from God’s anger. 10Even when we were God’s enemies, he made peace with us, because his Son died for us. Yet something even greater than friendship is ours. Now that we are at peace with God, we will be saved by his Son’s life. 11And in addition to everything else, we are happy because God sent our Lord Jesus Christ to make peace with us.
Romans 5:1we live at peace: Some manuscripts have ” let us live at peace.”
Romans 5:2introduced us: Some manuscripts add ” by faith.”
Romans 5:3We gladly suffer: Or ” Let us gladly suffer.”
“Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.”—
Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (@trescerezas)
I stumbled on this excerpt and it helped me in a way that is probably out of context of the original source which I’m unfamiliar with. It helped me as I discussed with my Korean students about their feelings of hatred towards the Japanese. These feelings intensify for some of my Korean students when they encounter memories of the suffering of the past Korean communities at the hands of the Japanese imperial armies. These memories escalate a sense of vulnerability and inferiority towards the Japanese community today. As a result, the echoes of these memories prompts some of my Korean students to voice desires for vengeance, to even do the same terrible atrocities that past Japanese communities did to the past Korean communities. My Korean grandmother in law who suffered directly during the Japanese occupation has forgiven the Japanese and moved on, but younger generations in Korea may feel greater pains that are “intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes”.
Another example brought up in class was the intense feelings of pain among the people from the southwestern province of Korea due to the lack of development projects in their area compared to the development in the southeastern province. Students discussed how these feelings affect the long history of rivalry between the people from the southwestern province and the people from the southeastern province of Korea where I currently reside. My wife tells stories of how her father’s tires are slashed sometimes when he travels to the southwestern province because he has southeastern license plates.
Some thoughts on scripture that blessed me while teaching #8
1 Corinthians 1:17-31 (CEV)
While teaching about Buddha’s birthday and recently the Pentecost, this passage below helped me understand why some people are unmoved when they hear the gospel message of salvation given to us through the death and resurrection of Christ. The lack of belief in the gospel and its resulting emotional response of gratitude and love that moves people toward repentance is not a result of the good or poor communication abilities of the person sharing the message with others. Those people who are unmoved by the gospel message when they hear it need to be rescued from their own thoughts that belong to the world. They need to be given understanding from God through His Holy Spirit in order to believe the gospel and be moved towards following Jesus for the right reasons. Realization of this truth helps people overcome the barrier of their pride in their self-perceived smarts and wisdom.
17Christ did not send me to baptize. He sent me to tell the good news without using big words that would make the cross of Christ lose its power.
18The message about the cross doesn’t make any sense to lost people. But for those of us who are being saved, it is God’s power at work. 19As God says in the Scriptures,
”I will destroy the wisdom
of all who claim
to be wise.
I will confuse those
who think they know
20What happened to those wise people? What happened to those experts in the Scriptures? What happened to the ones who think they have all the answers? Didn’t God show that the wisdom of this world is foolish? 21God was wise and decided not to let the people of this world use their wisdom to learn about him.
Instead, God chose to save only those who believe the foolish message we preach. 22Jews ask for miracles, and Greeks want something that sounds wise. 23But we preach that Christ was nailed to a cross. Most Jews have problems with this, and most Gentiles think it is foolish. 24Our message is God’s power and wisdom for the Jews and the Greeks that he has chosen. 25Even when God is foolish, he is wiser than everyone else, and even when God is weak, he is stronger than everyone else.
26My dear friends, remember what you were when God chose you. The people of this world didn’t think that many of you were wise. Only a few of you were in places of power, and not many of you came from important families. 27But God chose the foolish things of this world to put the wise to shame. He chose the weak things of this world to put the powerful to shame.
28What the world thinks is worthless, useless, and nothing at all is what God has used to destroy what the world considers important. 29God did all this to keep anyone from bragging to him. 30You are God’s children. He sent Christ Jesus to save us and to make us wise, acceptable, and holy. 31So if you want to brag, do what the Scriptures say and brag about the Lord.
“Perhaps the most important skill for a writer is a sense of the comic, the ironic, the way the world is out of kilter and so deserves deep attention, and wry evaluation. It’s the greatest joke in the world that a crucified rabbi rules the cosmos. Deep attention to that cosmos-shattering truth is the foundation for ministry, or for me, for writing.”—Jason Byassee (via wesleyhill)
Some thoughts on scripture that blessed me while teaching #7
Philippians 3:17-4:1(Paul, an apostle and teacher about Christ is writing a letter to Christians).
The Message (MSG)
17-19Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.
20-21But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.
1 My dear, dear friends! I love you so much. I do want the very best for you. You make me feel such joy, fill me with such pride. Don’t waver. Stay on track, steady in God.
I thought about this passage while teaching about Buddha’s birthday. The above passage describes the enemies of God as those who are focused on their own needs. They are prideful, and judge things according to normal standards. Greed and selfishness, is also identified as a primary source of suffering in the Buddhist faith. Instead of focusing on our own needs, we are to remember that we are citizens of heaven and focus on Christ. I was thinking of this passage again yesterday when I was discussing the Holy Spirit during Pentecost. The only way possible to stop being focused on our own needs and focus on Christ instead is to be filled with Holy Spirit. See the passage from the Bible written also by Paul below:
Romans 8:7-9 (the message):
Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.
9–11 But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about.
And I think of Jesus saying in John 3 (the message):
Born from Above
1–23 There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. Late one night he visited Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.”
3 Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”
4 “How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”
5–6 Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.
Some thoughts on scripture that blessed me while teaching #6
The Message (MSG)
22 A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.
I agree that when I’m feeling down, I feel constantly tired. However, now I’m very happy and content, yet exhausted. I need to get more cheerful, more sleep or some supernaturally powered strength from the Holy Spirit:
The Message (MSG)
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.
“We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man (p.28).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
This quote above was helpful to me in explaining my view that being willing to be insulted and corrected is a way to grow in wisdom.
"The most dangerous belief is the belief that we are right when we are actually wrong. From that point forward we will always be asking the wrong question, and inevitably getting the wrong answer. We will want to move forward, not realizing that we have wrongly labeled backward as “forward.”
This difficulty is compounded by the fact that any significant task requires confidence and determination to achieve. If we are doing something worthwhile, we expect opposition and are willing to persevere for the cause. Yet in this case we would be mislabeling hardening our heart as “persevering.”
Motivation for changing our definition is thwarted by what would be required of us. If we admit we have mislabeled progress we will have to “waste time” going back to the point we got off track. Time will need to be spent “undoing” things (never a pleasant endeavor).
It is for these reasons that it is paramount that we live for something bigger than ourselves. And living for ourselves is usually the number one factor in mislabeling “progress.” ….” continued at http://bradhambrick.com/wp/lewisonprogress/
Culture Quote of the Day - don’t assume, don’t project
"The first step toward becoming more culturally intelligent is to become more aware of our own cultural identity…. We have a universal tendency to think that other people do things for the same reasons we do them. After all, we learned to do what we do by observing others around us. But as we become more aware of our own culture and its values, we’re less likely to project our values onto the Other. Understanding our own culture protects us from assuming the actions of the Other mean the same thing as when we act that way." David Livermore, Cultural Intelligence
some thoughts on scripture that blessed me while teaching #5
This long passage below helped me in my discussions with my students about the death of Osama Bin Laden and the appropriate reactions to this event for Christians. This passage helped me imagine how God feels when He must bring people to justice. Is He happy to destroy them? Is He feeling bad? The passage asserts that God doesn’t want to destroy people for being wicked and he doesn’t want people to be wicked. But God loves justice and must be just if He is to be good, so He warns people to stop their wickedness and repent so He doesn’t have to destroy them to restore justice and bring goodness and peace to the world. He is happy to restore justice and end evil (See proverbs 1:26). Everyone is wicked and in need of a savior from the eternal consequences of their wickedness, and in need of a Savior to truly repent.
The LORD Appoints Ezekiel To Stand Watch (God is talking to a prophet of Israel who was exiled with the Jewish people in Babylon during the 6th century BC).
1The LORD said:
2Ezekiel, son of man, warn your people by saying:
Someday, I, the LORD, may send an enemy to invade a country. And suppose its people choose someone to stand watch 3and to sound a warning signal when the enemy is seen coming. 4-5If any of these people hear the signal and ignore it, they will be killed in battle. But it will be their own fault, because they could have escaped if they had paid attention.
6But suppose the person watching fails to sound the warning signal. The enemy will attack and kill some of the sinful people in that country, and I, the LORD, will hold that person responsible for their death.
7Ezekiel, I have appointed you to stand watch for the people of Israel. So listen to what I say, then warn them for me. 8When I tell wicked people they will die because of their sins, you must warn them to turn from their sinful ways. But if you refuse to warn them, you are responsible for their death. 9If you do warn them, and they keep sinning, they will die because of their sins, and you will be innocent.
The LORD Is Always Fair
10The LORD said:
Ezekiel, son of man, the people of Israel are complaining that the punishment for their sins is more than they can stand. They have lost all hope for survival, and they blame me. 11Tell them that as surely as I am the living LORD God, I don’t like to see wicked people die. I enjoy seeing them turn from their sins and live. So if the Israelites want to live, they must stop sinning and turn back to me.
12Tell them that when good people start sinning, all the good they did in the past cannot save them from being punished. And remind them that when wicked people stop sinning, their past sins will be completely forgiven, and they won’t be punished.
13Suppose I promise good people that they will live, then later they start sinning and believe they will be saved by the good they did in the past. These people will certainly be put to death because of their sins. Their good deeds will be forgotten.
14Suppose I warn wicked people that they will die because of their sins, and they stop sinning and start doing right. 15For example, they need to return anything they have taken as security for a loan and anything they have stolen. Then if they stop doing evil and start obeying my Law, they will live. 16Their past sins will be forgiven, and they will live because they have done right.
17Ezekiel, your people accuse me of being unfair. But they are the ones who are unfair. 18If good people start doing evil, they will be put to death, because they have sinned. 19And if wicked people stop sinning and start doing right, they will save themselves from punishment.
This passage above helps me see how much I need Jesus because there is no way I could choose to repent and turn away from sin, and remain that way. Jesus rescued us from judgment for our wickedness and will transform us out of wickedness into the image of Christ. Wickedness includes failing to warn others of the disastrous consequences coming their way if they don’t stop investing in evil. It is a sin to see someone suffering or walking into danger and not try to warn them. We all have a responsibility for serving our communities in this way. Followers of Christ should be warning people and helping people, but in a way that is not wicked in itself. Our boldness in helping others should be inspired by not only love for God and a love for others, but also a sense of responsibility and duty.
some thoughts on scripture that blessed me while teaching #4
Romans 12:19-21(Paul, a follower of Jesus and an apostle is speaking to the Roman church in a letter).
19Dear friends, don’t try to get even. Let God take revenge. In the Scriptures the Lord says,
”I am the one to take revenge
and pay them back.”
20The Scriptures also say,
”If your enemies are hungry,
give them something to eat.
And if they are thirsty,
give them something
This will be the same
as piling burning coals
on their heads.”
21Don’t let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.
This passage above blessed me as I discussed with my students how they felt about images of Americans in the streets of New York City and Washington DC celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden.
This passage asserts that only God is responsible for acts of revenge to restore justice. I believe this responsibility is God’s because only God is worthy to do so since He is holy and has never betrayed anyone.
This assertion of God’s responsibility for revenge allows me to focus on loving, serving and praying for others, including those who I desire to be brought to justice. It’s not my business to run around seeking the death and rejoicing at the death of each law breaker, but rather I should be busy with more important matters of honoring God by loving and serving those He puts in my path.
I should have faith that God will use these efforts to honor Him as an effective way to defeat evil anyways. But I should ask God to give me this faith because it is too difficult for me to muster up on my own power.
These proverbs from the Bible written below are another hard thing to do because I honestly crave knowledge that those who hurt me in the past are miserable, and I hate to hear news that they are happy. These verse always bless me by prompting me to pray when I feel myself drawn towards wishing those who have hurt me are suffering. It encourages me to trust God, forgive them, and pray for reconciliation.
17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, 18 or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them.
19 Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked, 20 for the evildoer has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.
Excerpt from Patterns of Culture by Ruth Benedict p. 2-3
"To the anthropologist, our customs and those of a New Guinea tribe are two possible social schemes for dealing with a common problem, and in so far as she remains an anthropologist he is bound to avoid any weighting of one in favour of the other. He is interested in human behavior, not as it is shaped by one tradition, our own, but as it has been shaped by any tradition whatsoever. He is interested in the great gamut of custom that is found in various cultures, and his object is to understand the way in which these culture change and differentiate the different forms through which they express themselves, and the manner in which the customs of any peoples function in the lives of the individuals who compose them"
This helped me as I tried to communicate with my students about how describing and investigating customs can be helpful in intercultural communication.
some thoughts on scripture that blessed me while teaching #3
Some thoughts on scripture that blessed me during a time I was discussing with my students the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death, and discussed what a Christian response would be. Also, thoughts on scripture that blessed me while I presented Buddha’s Birthday otherwise known as Vesak day to my students. #3
This passage makes me think “Do I want to be an enemy of God and accept the terrible consequences of this?”
Deuteronomy 32:35our enemies… deserve: The Samaritan Hebrew Text and one ancient translation; the Standard Hebrew Text ” I will pay them back.”
15When justice is done,
good citizens are glad
and crooks are terrified.
There was a debate about whether it was right to kill Osama in the raid. This passage in proverbs asserts that governments should bring about justice in such a way that law breakers are terrified of those governments. Of course, restoring justice by effecting terror in what they perceive as law-breaking corrupt governments is the mission of Al Quaida too.
Makes me think of a lesson I did recently on vampires at the request of my middle school students. Count Dracula, or Vlad the Impaler, son of Dracul was remembered in Romanian history as a great man and ruler because he eradicated crime in the region by using the terrible method of impaling people on stakes for the slightest infraction of the law. However, he was demonized by the rest of the world as a monster of a man, especially by the British whose trade aspirations in the area were thwarted by Vlad.
We should be careful how we judge the deliverance of justice or acts of justice as individuals and Christian communities. We should be glad and happy at the restoration of true justice. But the death of Osama is not the establishment of justice, as the war on terror continues with innocent civilians dying everywhere at the hands of all militant elements involved. As a result, celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden seems silly, and we should not be so glad.
Some thoughts on scripture that blessed me while teaching #2
While I was teaching about Vesak Day, or Buddha’s birthday, and discussing Osama Bin Laden’s death.
Jesus is talking:
43You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” 44But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. 45Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. 46If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors [a] love their friends.
The words of Christ in the above passage are the most challenging to accept by my students in Korea, especially when they consider loving Japanese people. They label loving your enemies as crazy, and I agree.
It is the most difficult teaching from Jesus to apply in my own life. Forgiveness involves repeatedly letting go of what others owe me. This can be painful because it means I must accept and pay for the cost of what they owed me. This can be painful.
I believe that the point of this teaching of Jesus is for people to refrain from dehumanizing other people no matter what they do, and even commit to humanizing them. It also prompts me to put the wrongs of others towards me in perspective of the wrongs of myself toward God and toward others.
As a former enemy of God, and one who still behaves like an enemy of God as evident by my daily sins, it is good to consider God’s love for me in its grace and attempt to mirror that grace towards my own enemies or those who hurt me. Those who sin are God’s enemies as discussed in the passage below:
Hebrews 10:26-29: not the words of Jesus:
26No sacrifices can be made for people who decide to sin after they find out about the truth. 27They are God’s enemies, and all they can look forward to is a terrible judgment and a furious fire. 28If two or more witnesses accused someone of breaking the Law of Moses, that person could be put to death. 29But it is much worse to dishonor God’s Son and to disgrace the blood of the promise that made us holy. And it is just as bad to insult the Holy Spirit, who shows us mercy.
“"It goes against the American storytelling grain to have someone in a situation he can’t get out of, but I think this is very usual in life. There is the implication that if you just have a little more energy, a little more fight, the problem can always be solved. This is so untrue that it makes me want to cry—or laugh."
Vonnegut has assisted me in the development of my values as an adolescent. This quote helped me point out to my students the American tendency to value individual responsibility and ignore circumstances when looking into the affairs of others and making judgments on them. Stories form this American perspective and this American perspective forms stories. We then discussed how Korean stories have impacted the formation of Korean social values and their own personal values, followed by a discussion of how Korean stories and their stories are shaped by Korean social and their own values. Special focus in discussion on the hierarchy in Korean language and its relationship with Korean social values.”—