Mandela’s Education View

Jason:

Fellow educator Walter McKenzie referenced me in his blog after a conversation about what plagues our education system.

Originally posted on Actualization:

Jason Lilly (@WolfDreamer1112): “Some of us like to storm the castle from the inside… know what I mean?”

Walter: “Yes Jason! We need that too! We all need to be working for change from our own vantage point.”

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Mental Health and Damn Idealism…REALLY???

Jason:

“For some time I have questioned the way we ‘do life’ here in North America and other parts of the Western World.”
Excellet post from my friend Kenneth Justice, The Culture Monk.

Originally posted on The Culture Monk:

boston 3

By Kenneth Justice

“I think you’re just stubborn and don’t want to accept the world as it is” he said

~ I was sitting at coffee recently when an older gentleman struck up a conversation with me. He was one of those ‘let’s discuss politics and if you don’t agree with me I’m going to yell you” kind of people. I tend to take moderate positions in political discussion, partly because I’m at a point in life where political debates have begun to feel a bit tedious to me, and partly because I actually am a rather moderate person in my political philosophy.

However, somewhere between the older man telling me the only solution for peace in the Middle East was to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran and murder every single Middle Easterner and that white people are inherently better human beings than “people of…

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How Much More… Trusting God and Seeking First

I recently read a few pages of a book published by Reader’s Digest, Exploring the Secrets of Nature. As much as I know about the natural world, I always feel like there is more to learn. I have always been fascinated by animal behavior, especially how and why animals do what they do.

The book is written like a collection of “articles,” organized by themes. The first four articles I read were about animals risking everything to spawn or lay eggs. Of course, many members of these species don’t survive the journey and a lot of their young also die. But somehow, enough of them survive to keep the species going year after year.

God’s fingerprints are there, even in the common and the mundane. [Tweet that!]

The way the system works is incredible. Hungry animals hover along beaches or next to streams, waiting for this species of turtle or fish or whatever it may be to work its way upstream onto shore, lay its eggs, and provide the hungry predator with a necessary meal.

I experienced this a few years ago while kayaking the Poca River near my home. It was early fall and I found myself rowing on top of a massive school of minnows, possibly hundreds of thousands of them, swimming quickly downstream toward the much larger (and warmer) Kanawha River. As they swam, a group of kingfishers swept down one by one and expertly scooped tiny minnows into their mouth. I had never seen so many kingfishers near the river before, so I marveled that they must be gathering to fill their bellies with minnows.

I wondered what if the minnows weren’t there? Would the birds find somewhere else to feed? Or would they starve? And what of the minnows? How many of them would be picked off before reaching the Kanawha? Enough to threaten their species? Do the kingfishers ever worry about starving? Do the minnows ever worry about the elimination of their entire species?

This all recalls a metaphor Jesus used in Matthew 6 in which he addresses the concerns many of his followers have about money and giving to the needy. Jesus says:

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?

 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.

Why do you have so little faith?”

That final question bites hard enough that I feel it in my heart. And I’m certain Jesus’s audience that day also felt it. I’ve written before about enjoying the comforts of Christianity without sacrificing much of anything. Comfort is one of those things with me and it usually comes from a fear that I might lose everything.

It is easy to justify this fear. I have more than myself to think about. I can’t just walk around, not thinking about whether my children are okay. I worry that I might say or do something foolish to upset my wife. I’m concerned that my performance at work isn’t enough to keep me employed for much longer. I think… I worry… I’m concerned.

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Jesus challenges my faith everyday. The deeper I get into scripture, the more aware of life I become. Stories abound of threats to the environment, climate change, pollution. And yet I still see God providing for even the tiniest creature on this earth. A tiny bud sprouting after a forest fire. A fawn finding a new family after its mother was struck by a car. A group of kingfishers feasting on minnows from a threatened river.

Life sustains and life remains. That is the fingerprint of God. [Tweet that!]

So what do we have to worry about? Each day comes with its challenges, of course. Jesus isn’t saying that life will be without threats or hardships. What he is saying is much more profound.

We need to trust God with our lives.

We need to let go of worry, concern, and doubt. Instead, Jesus says:

33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Why do you have so little faith? Seek the Kingdom of God above all else…

And he will give you everything you need.

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Bad News

I knew something wasn’t right this morning.

Most mornings, we have the TV on in my house turned to the local news. Like a lot of Americans we watch it mostly for the weather and traffic reports. There’s just so much bad news anymore that I tend to unwillingly tune out the majority of it.

This morning, though, I didn’t turn the TV on. I don’t know if part of me wanted peace or if I just forgot. Either way, no news for us this morning.

On the way to work, the horizon was getting pinker and I was feeling good. Seconds later, though, I felt a strong urge to cry. I fought it and was able to swallow it back. I’m characteristically sensitive, so this sudden compulsion to weep wasn’t really that out of the ordinary. I assumed it was the beautiful skyline mixed with some uplifting music and some encouraging thoughts in my head about how the day was going to go.

It didn’t take long once I arrived at the school to figure out that something wasn’t right. It was quiet, quieter than usual, and I could feel some weird kind of tension like something serious had just happened and I had missed it. One of my colleagues stopped me in the hall and her question shook me.

“Did you know that boy who was shot last night?” 

My first reaction was Wait… someone was shot last night? She tried to remember his name and stammered some sounds until I cut her off with a proper pronunciation of the name of a student I had last year.

“He’s dead,” she said, eyes wide with shock and concern. I gasped, covered my mouth, felt tears close again and just shook my head.

This was a rough kid. In and out of trouble, he spent more time out on the streets than he did at home or in school. He was the kind of kid that a lot of teachers and administrators counted as a loss. He was also the kind of kid whom some said could drop off the face of the earth and no one would even notice.

Now that kid is dead. I passed many of his peers, their eyes wet and faces red with grief. They noticed. And a few of my colleagues, shocked with grief, they noticed. And I noticed.

I don’t know what else to say, really. A kid is dead. Regardless of his circumstances, regardless of what others may believe or think about his lifestyle, he’s dead and that hurts me. It hurts me that people are still talking about it like it was no surprise, simply because of the lifestyle he was living that put his life at risk.

It’s wrong and it sucks and I can’t help but feel like I failed as his teacher because I couldn’t talk him out of some of the choices he had made. No matter how many people say to me, “You can’t save them all,” I still feel my heart breaking because I wonder if there was something I missed, something I could have done that might have saved this one.

Right now, all I can do is pray. For his family and friends, for students who looked up to him and wanted to be like him. For the wisdom that it takes to see the purpose and reason in something like this. For the courage it takes to ask God the difficult questions, the most challenging being Why?

All I ask is that you do the same.

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Do The Work of an Evangelist

Jason:

Help spread the word about a new book from JourneyBits author Aurea Lewis.

Originally posted on journeybits:

2 Timothy 2:5 – But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

I had been struggling these last couple of months about starting a book campaign. The Lord had called me to write a book. I felt that if I promoted the book, I would be bragging. I felt that I would be shunned by the people for promoting the work God called me to do. Then on the other end, I thought that I wasn’t supposed to promote the book but that God would send someone to promote it for me. I felt since He called me to write it, He would send it out to those He prepared to receive it.

Ha! God must have laughed and shook His head at me. I could see Him sitting on His throne chuckling at the thoughts going through…

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New Friends and Free Books

I spend a lot of time on Twitter.

Through my twitter trolling and reading blog posts from sites like Sojourners, I stumbled onto this:

A Thread Called Grace” by Jonathan Merritt

I first met Jonathan on Twitter. Honestly, he was on a long list of “recommended” people to follow. I just clicked his name without really knowing who he was. In fact, he may have followed me first

In this excerpt from his newest book Jesus is Better Than You Imagined, Jonathan confesses with exceptional courage his struggles with sexuality that began after he was sexually abused when he was 7 by an older boy in his neighborhood. The abuse happened several times and Jonathan kept it secret out of fear, shame, and pure traumatic shock. The experience, he says, “singed a part of my soul in a way I can’t explain.”

But the article isn’t really about Jonathan’s sexual abuse. It isn’t about his struggles with sexuality. It isn’t about the scandal that almost happened when he was later caught up in an intimate moment with another guy.

It’s about grace.

God’s grace. Grace offered to each of us, in spite of our circumstances, regardless of our faults and follies.

It is about a fact that rings painfully true: Secrets keep us from accepting the full grace of God. [Tweet this!]

Jonathan says,

Secrets draw their power from shame. I convince myself that I am too messed-up, too tainted, or too tarnished for others to accept. Or maybe people will think I am a fraud. As I believe these lies, shame grows into fear, which is almost always at some level, fear that if others truly know me, they won’t love me. Or at least love me as much or in the same way.

How often does fear lock us into place because we are worried what others will think? When we make a mistake, when we sin against God and against others, how often do we hide behind a mask, as Jonathan says, in fear someone will discover our secret, dig up the dirt, unveil our true self?

Jonathan even mentions the story from Genesis when Adam and Eve hid from God because they were ashamed.

But God already knows our secrets. You can’t hide from God. If (when) you come out of hiding, you might even find God may be working through your struggle to make something amazing happen. He may be asking you to trust Him more and give up your shame and fear and self-sufficient attitude so that He can transform you  from the inside out by showing you who you truly are: a child of God.

In my favorite quote from this excerpt, Jonathan says this:

“As it turns out, sometimes God lets our house burn down so we can better see the sun rise.”

Fear, shame, those things that give us pause and make us reluctant to let go and be who God intends us to be, they keep us from accepting the forgiveness of God that was proven through the death, burial, and resurrection of His son Jesus.

We are redeemed. We are forgiven. We are made new. We are children of God. [Tweet this!]

So, it’s obvious Jonathan’s story shook me until my eyes became so wet it was tough to focus on the screen.

A few days later, I learned that one of my other Twitter friends, Margaret Feinberg (see the button for Margaret’s blog on the right of my home page), was giving away a copy of Jesus is Better. Everyone knows I love giveaways, especially book giveaways, so I entered.

I didn’t expect to win. I hardly ever win.

Today, after a tough morning and a battle with allergies, I decided to double-check Margaret’s blog and see who the lucky winners were.

“Congratulation, Jason.” My first thought was There’s another Jason. It’s not me. But sure enough, I was a lucky winner. This actually makes the second book I have won, written by someone I met through Twitter. Last month I won a signed copy of Jeff Goins’s The In-Between.

I love the Internet. I love Twitter. Even though real life friendships and fellowship with neighbors and fellow believers is most important, it is a blessing to find a way to connect with others who are in the struggle to serve Christ, to live in (and by) the grace of God, and to reach out to those who need to know that we are not alone, we are not damaged, we are not forgotten.

We are loved. We are accepted. We are children of God. 

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Latest Sojo column: 7 Reasons God Just Might Be Psyched about the Millennial Generation

Jason:

This is an excellent article about a generation of believers who are changing the face of Christianity… and that just might be what God intends.

Originally posted on Tyler J. Francke:

Originally published onSojourners’ God’s Politics blog.

Millennials are the worst generation ever, a recent study by the Pew Research Center confirmed. The other generations already knew that, of course, but the study has given them new insights into what characterizes me and my fellow Millennials beyond “They freaking love Starbucks” and “They refuse to move out of my basement.”

The study’s revelations include that we’re not making all that much money, we have tons of debt, we’re racially diverse and we use the Internet a lot (curiously absent was the fact that 97 percent of us do not like being broadly defined or labeled or otherwise demographed). We also tend to shun institutions, including religious ones, at rates far surpassing our parents and grandparents.

This last little detail has not escaped the notice of conservative media outlets, whose reactions have ranged from cautious reserved judgment to something bordering…

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