Faith is like a golf swing

Last week, I played my first round on the par three for the year. It was ugly, challenging and golf.

The first time I picked up a club, I thought the goal was to clobber the golf ball. I figured the harder I hit the thing, the straighter and further it would go, but this is far from the truth.

My stepdad, is always encouraging, critiquing and guiding my golf swing. If it was not for my stepdad, I probably would not spend any time golfing at all. Anyways, he reminded me that clobbering the ball actually is not the goal. He said “focus on the swing and let the swing take care of the ball.” This is amazing advice.

Another golf challenge is of self-thought and reflection. In order to focus on your golf swing there is a need to think. It is important to remember what a good swing looks and feels like. It is good to practice a good swing. How is my stance? How is my posture? How is my grip? Are my wrists bent? Can I keep my elbows straight? Will my back swing be slow and deliberate? Will my head stay straight? Will my forearm motion be smooth? It certainly is not about merely smashing the ball hard.

On the other hand, it is also easy to over think it. While I am standing in front of the ball, thinking about my swing, I need to actually hit the ball. Thinking about it will not do any good without the action. Also while I am contemplating all the details of my swing, my body gets more tense and tight.   The more uptight my body becomes, the less successful my swing actually is.

The faith life of a Christian is not unlike the golf swing:

My heavenly Father is always encouraging, critiquing and guiding my faith. If it was not for the Heavenly Father and His grace, I could not have such faith. The Father is always reminding me “have faith and in faith trust me to take care of everything thing else (Mt. 6:33).” This is amazing advice!

There is a need to think about our personal faith life. There is a need for personal reflection and outward strategy for faith in the church. We should think about our actions beforehand and do some planning. We should also do some praying and preparing (with God’s Word). Are we sinning? Are we living righteous? Are we surrendering to God?

On the other hand, we can easily over think and over plan. While we are sitting in our churches (or in our reading rooms) over thinking, we can become too comfortable. We can think about and talk about our faith all we want to be there also needs to be action (James 2:17).

So let us make deliberate good moves in our faith life, let us pray, worship and study His Word together, but let us also go out and in action in the real word and get on par about our faith by sharing the love of Christ.

The Pleasures and Challenges of Substitute teaching so far

So this school year I have been a substitute teacher in all of the Fairfield County Schools (FYI, Lancaster City is not a County school). So I have been to Amanda Clearcreek, Fairfield Union, Pickerington schools, Bloom Carol Walnut Township and Liberty Union Schools. (Berne Union is also a Fairfiled County school, but I have not been assigned there this year).

 I have taught all school age groups (K-12) and just about every subject (from the basics- like math  and science to languages Spanish and French to specialties like cooking and industrial arts). It has been a neat experiences, some days easier than others.

There have been a lot of fun and good things about being a substitute teacher. Naturally, I like teaching and it comes easy for me. Although where I am used to teaching is in setting where the people are motivated to be there on their own power: (church, young adult, youth groups, extra-curricular hobbies/instruments or second languages). This is not always the disposition of the students. Obviously, in school the kids are required to be there and many do not desire to be there. So, with that said, I have  had to learn to keep students in line. I have been stretched this year in many ways:

I can be a very easy going, relaxed kind-of-guy. In high schools, this is fine. The students are glad to see me working in the their high schools. They know that I respect them to obey they rules and they respect me and there is no reason to cause any trouble. Working high schools is one of the easiest jobs. The downside is it can be boring, especially when the permanent teacher leaves boring worksheets or assignments.

I middle schools and elementary schools, my relaxed temperament is not always a good thing. I can be too nice and let the students do whatever they want. The good part about teaching middle schools and elementary schools is that I have to be more hands on and the teachers expect me to actually teach something, which is fun for me. The problem is that once students get out of line, I am not quick enough to punish. I will give a few verbal warnings and hope that they do not act up again and when they do I used to just ignore it or give another warning. But this aspect of my teaching temperament has been changing and stretching over the school year. Now I am more likely to follow through with the proper discipline measures after giving a verbal warning. Now the students are respecting my authority a little more. They know that they cannot walk all over me just because I am a sub.

Obviously, there are certain kids that have a more difficult time focusing and obeying than others, but yet these kids seem like they want to be social and develop a relationship with the teacher. They are probably hurting or lacking quality male role models in their lives. So I walk a strange line as duel roles come into play. One one hand, I am the authority of the class and disciplining them, but on the other hand, I am secretly praying for them. Also I am a low-key guy, so I let the kids be kids and socialize a little bit. As long as the kids respect me and do their work and obey the rules of the classroom, I do not see why we should be so uptight about certain behaviors, kids are kids – they need to talk and socialize. They need to play and learn. Life should be a life of balance. For me as the teacher, the challenge has been finding the line, drawling that line so the kids know where it is at and enforcing it. I am still learning the lines.

Some of the more challenging but also more rewarding days as a sub, have been working as a “intervention specialist,” “special education” teacher and in the MD and DH classes. These classes I actually get to have one-on-one time with students and actually have to teach. These kids need a lot of patience, grace and persistence but once they actually make progress, even really small progress, it is very rewarding. I have intentionally taken a lot of these assignments because I feel like I am actually making a difference in these classes and have developed some relationships with the students since I have gotten these jobs on a pretty regular basis. I admit that these days can be draining and I would not want to do these classes every day, but these kids need the love.

Wait what just happened?

Ok so at dinner, my 55year old mother gets a phone call from her 70 year old mother, in-which  my Nana (in my mom’s words) made her (mom) feel guilty about not replying to a text message she had recently sent to my mom! The phone call lasted all of 10 seconds, mom said she was sorry and said she was busy and the phone call ended.

I was sitting there taking it all in, wondering why the two did not just have a real life phone conversation about the topic of the text message. Instead mom replied to the text message and then Nana texted back merely saying “call me.” So mom called her back and they talked…..oh technology and irony.

Skyrim and Rom 3

 10 As it is written:

   “There is no one righteous, not even one;
 11 there is no one who understands;
   there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
   they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
   not even one. (Ps 14:1–3, 53:1-3)”<sup class="footnote" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="[b]”>
13 “Their throats are open graves (Ps. 5:9);
   their tongues practice deceit .”<sup class="footnote" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="[c]”>
“The poison of vipers is on their lips (Ps. 140:3).”<sup class="footnote" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="[d]”> 
 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness (Ps. 10:7).”<sup class="footnote" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="[e]”>
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
 16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know (Is. 59:7).”<sup class="footnote" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="[f]”>
 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes (Ps. 36:1).”
This sounds like one really bad dude. Terrible dude. It reminds me of my character on Skyrim. He is one bad dude. He steals, kicks and destroys anything that gets in his way. Not nice. He is bad.
But the reality is that all men, you and myself included, before salvation are all equally bad. We are all sinners. There is nothing good man can do on their own that can save themselves! No one can even seek out God on there own! 
How awesome it is that God comes down to man and saves us, even in our unworthy state. This truth is one that NO OTHER religion believes in. In other religions man has to work to earn something for God, but not with the Christianity of the Bible.