Core scripture: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31).
Message: I got the e-mail yesterday. You know the one I am talking about. The good old “Welcome Back” e-mail. There have been years when I groaned upon seeing it, but not this year. The message rekindled a fire in my soul, yearning for that fresh start. That opportunity of wonder and awe to make a difference in the life of a child. To show these kids how much I truly care about them. That fire inside me is already spreading, and it is time to fan the flame to the loyal followers of this blog as we introduce the new theme for the 2018-2019 school year: All In.
What does it mean to be all in? Go straight to the core scripture above. Loving God with all your mind and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself. If you profess that type of love, you have no choice but to be all in. It is time to start thinking about how we can be all in for Christ in a job that restricts our religious freedom. If you teach in a public school like me, Separation of Church and State laws must be respected; however, the Christian teacher can still be all in for Christ. You just have to know how to do it. Here are some applicable ways you can be all in this year.
- Be all in with your colleagues. The biggest sin you could ever commit with your co-workers is to isolate yourself. Get to know your colleagues. Bond with them over lunch. Greet newbies with a friendly smile. Find ways to twist conversations toward the spiritual realm. Find out who your fellow Christian teachers are and start a prayer group or Bible study before school hours. Invite the non-Christians to fall church events. If your colleagues do not know you are a Christian, you are not all in.
- Be all in by teaching character. This needs to start week one with your students. You cannot teach scripture, but you CAN teach character! Through videos, quotes, and thought-provoking discussion, you can begin to mold these kids into quality young adults without citing a word of scripture. Need some ideas? I have worked tirelessly this summer on updating my “Character Lessons” link at the top of this blog. Check it out. The coolest thing is that it can be shared easily with non-believers, and I challenge you to do just that.
- Be all in by praying without ceasing. I tape a reminder to my desk below my keyboard every year reminding me to pray. The moment you walk in to work, pray at your desk in the quietness of your empty classroom. Pray in your head as you encounter trials. Walk through the hallways, restrooms, and cafeteria, praying quietly for God to protect children. Pray for your colleagues and pray with your colleagues. Pray those quick rifle shot prayers between classes, and if you have a longer break, pray more intensely. Live out 1 Thessalonians 5:17 with a joyful heart.
- Be all in by sharing. You have access to an all-you-can-eat buffet through the ideas on this blog. Who would not want to share the delicious food that Jesus gives us with others? If you happen to find a message here that strikes a chord in your heart, share it. Post it to Facebook or Twitter. Use social media to spread the gospel like a wildfire. There will be plenty of blogs this year tailored to the non-Christian crowd simply to get them on board and enlighten them to a new way of thinking. Allow others to feast on this smorgasbord of awesomeness!
- Be all in by modeling Christ. Last year our theme revolved around the Fruits of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Live out those qualities in your daily work life. Let others see you acting patient when others are angry, faithful when others doubt, joyful when others complain, and loving when others hate. You will stand out for the good. Do not be ashamed to be what you are. “Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires” (Romans 13:14).
Jesus is drawing a line in the sand. You are either in or you are out. He does not accept anyone on the fence. There is no dipping your toe in the water. Jesus tells us in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” Notice the exclamation mark. Do you think He means what He says? My fellow believers, I challenge you to take a dive in His pool this year and make a splash worthy of His name. It is time to be all in!
Challenge: Take the suggestions above and implement them as the 2018-2019 school year begins.
Song application: “All In” by Matthew West
My feet are frozen on this middle ground
The water’s warm here
But the fire’s gone out
I played it safe for so long
The passion left turns out
Safe is just another word for regret
So, I step to the edge and I
Take a deep breath
We’re all dying to live
But we’re all scared to death
And this is the part where my
Head tells my heart you should
Turn back around
But there’s no turning back now
I’m going all in
Headfirst into the deep end I hear
You calling and this time the fear won’t win
I’m going, I’m going all in
I’m all in
Listen to Matthew West’s song below.
Video application: Allen Parr has a great five-minute video with some powerful scripture to back up the thoughts of being a lukewarm Christian. Check out the video below.
Do you have a bit more time since the school year hasn’t begun yet? Check out this movie on YouTube for free! It is called Lukewarm, and it is well worth your time to watch.
Journal/Accountability: Journal or talk to a trusted Christian friend about areas of your life where you might be lukewarm. Create a plan to heat up in those places.
Quote: “To love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is all-consuming and all-encompassing. It is no lukewarm endeavor.” (Ezra Taft Benson)
Bible story: Read the story of Jesus walking on water in Matthew 14:22-23. How would you interpret Peter’s reaction to Jesus? Is he all in or lukewarm? Would you have done the same thing if you were Peter? How can this story inspire us to be all in for Christ?
Prayer: Father, I pray that we can be all in for You in the new school year ahead of us. May we influence young minds the way You need us to with relentless passion. Amen.