Finding New Strength

You caught me. I’m still engaged with those eagles! (http://www.dickpritchettrealestate.com/eagle-feed.html#) But this time I’m thinking about this verse from Isaiah 40:31:

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles.

2016 was a very difficult year for many people. There were certainly some cultural issues, whose effects are still being felt. But there were also personal struggles – illness, financial hardship, heart break, and loss. What I see in this verse is that when we put our trust in God, God will give us new strength. And not just any strength, but strength like eagles soaring in the air.

When you look at the baby eagle in the video, though, you don’t see much that you would want to aspire to. At just days old, the baby barely moves around and is totally dependent on mom and dad. Yet that’s how we all start out in our faith. We don’t yet have wings that will carry us through the hard times – we are just babies. It takes time and perseverance to develop the wings of an eagle. And even after the wings develop, it is still a challenge to learn how to use them.

If you’re going through a tough time right now, I would encourage you to not lose hope. Rely on God to get you through this, and have faith that he will. In saying that, I encourage you to seek the counsel, support, and love of your local faith community and pastor. They will be there for you as you walk through this troubling time. And as you traverse the valley together, you will come out the other side stronger in your faith and feeling more like an eagle whose wings will carry you through your next journey.

If you’re struggling to have hope for the future, take a little time and write down in a journal or even a Word document, how God has blessed you. Make this gratitude list so that you can see the many ways God has been faithful in the past. This will help encourage you for the future. God will never leave you nor forsake you – even if it feels like it sometimes.

Whatever your struggle, I pray that God would bless you and help strengthen you in the days and weeks ahead. If you have a personal situation that you’d like me to pray for, please contact me (kevin@hayschristianchurch.org) and I will pray.

Seasons Change, God Remains

I can’t believe we have entered the first week of August! This summer has certainly flown by! In just another week and a half school will begin, and before you know it, it will be time for Thanksgiving and Christmas! As I say that, I’m anxious, saddened, and excited all at once!

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Solomon tells us: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” (selected verses).

Of course we all understand this. We go through seasons of life – some good, some bad, and some “normal”. But we know that whatever we’re going through is just for a season. Seasons change and so do our circumstances. That can be encouraging when we’re going through hard times, and that can be disheartening when we’re in the happy times.

No matter what is happening in our lives, Scripture tells us that we are to “be joyful always, pray at all times, and be thankful in all circumstances.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18). True joy is not mere happiness and smiles, in fact, sometimes you can be joyful and profoundly sad at the same time. Joy has to do with our attitude in the midst of our life experiences. No matter what we are going through we can choose to rely on God and trust in his plan for our lives.

A counseling professor of mine, Dr. Greg Delort, drilled into us that the question, “How does that make you feel?” is a very bad question to ask. The reason? Nothing has the power to MAKE us feel anything. No matter what we’re experiencing, we ALWAYS have the choice to make about how we will respond. As a Christ-follower, I can take comfort that God is always with me, so no matter what I’m going through, I’m not alone.

But how do we find true joyfulness, a true attitude of joy, in the midst of suffering and pain? The answer is in the second and third parts of the passage. We are to pray and be thankful.

Prayer is our direct link to the Creator. It’s the primary way we have fellowship with God. When we pray, we speak with God, telling him our hearts, and we also listen to God, asking him to speak to us through the Holy Spirit. Often we think that prayer is only the time we are actually talking to God, but in reality, some of the most rewarding times of prayer are times spent being still, simply listening for God’s voice. As we pray, we connect to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the giver and sustainer of life. Through this connection we start to get a picture of the eternal matters of God’s heart. When we are able to recognize what’s really important through prayer, we begin to be thankful for the many blessings God has given us. That can give us the encouragement we need to make it through whatever season we may be going through.

3 Teachers Who Made a Difference

Teacher Collage High SchoolThink about teachers who have made an impact on your life. Who would you choose? For me, many teachers have made impacts on me, both positively and negatively. Being that my 20th high school reunion is just around the corner, I decided to focus on high school teachers. I would say that the teachers who made the greatest positive impact on me in high school were Joyce Mong, Ron Grimstad, and Georgia Kinkade.

Mrs. Mong was my journalism advisor and English teacher. I loved journalism and was the editor-in-chief of the school paper for both my junior and senior years. I appreciated Mrs. Mong because she believed in me. She encouraged me to do my best, and gave me the tools to achieve great things. She nominated me for a national journalism conference in Washington, D.C., where I was able to go and learn from active journalists in the nation’s capital. I was also able to go onto the floor of the House of Representatives for a lecture by a congressman.

Despite my shortcomings, frustrations, and obsessive need for perfection, she supported me and allowed me to flourish. She encouraged me in my writing and provided much needed support when things in the newsroom would go awry. I am forever grateful for the mark she made on my life.

Another teacher I had in high school was Ron Grimstad. Mr. Grimstad was the athletic director and my math teacher. He recommended me for my first job working for the district athletic department and was a straight-shooting caring teacher. He trusted his students, and put the responsibility of learning on us. He also had posters up in his room from former students. One of the posters was “The Creosote Principle.”

The Creosote Principle came from a time when he had a student working for him doing fence work who didn’t want to use gloves when working with creosote. That didn’t end well, and Mr. Grimstad used that story to remind us that he would never lie to us. He was an honorable man who truly made math enjoyable. I enjoyed working with him and appreciated the trust he put in me.

I was also encouraged by my business teacher, Georgia Kinkade. Mrs. Kinkade was the department head for the Business Department, and was another example of an adult who put trust in me and my abilities. She allowed me to work with her on computer networking tasks, even giving me the System Administrator password. She continually saw the best in me and encouraged me to do my best and work hard to reach my goals. I am grateful for her guidance and care.

Looking back at these three teachers, I’m seeing a pattern in them. A great teacher in my mind is one who encourages students to achieve their best and cares for his/her students. All three of these teachers did that. In addition to those qualities, each of these teachers went above and beyond in their own way to allow me to explore and hone my abilities in each of their respective departments.

I learned much about managing people, writing, computer networks, and working in many aspects of sports administration. I am forever grateful for these teachers for impacting my life for the better. I pray that my children will also have teachers in their lives who will allow them to grow and flourish in the same ways that I was blessed to have Mrs. Mong, Mr. Grimstad, and Mrs. Kinkade in my life. All three of these teachers have retired now, but they can be assured that their impact is still being felt 20 years later.