Music Mondays- A Thousand Hallelujahs by Brooke Ligertwood

I watched the back story to this song A Thousand Hallelujahs by Brooke Ligertwood. She was in a church in California and thought about all of the people who had worshipped there over the years. It caused me to think about something.

When Jesus calls me home to heaven, there will be millions of people who arrived there before me. There will be millions who will arrive after me. There will be all of eternity to meet them.

Many people will say they want to meet Paul, Peter, Mary Magdalene etc. While I do look forward to meeting them, I also look forward to meeting the ones who are not famous. The ones who were faithful under harsh conditions and faced severe persecution.

I also thought about how all over the world right now, there are millions of people following Jesus. When we go to our own churches, we are joining with people all over the world to worship Jesus.

The amazing thing is that Jesus knows each one by name. His eye is always on us wherever we are.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Surprise Saturday Blessing

Yesterday I shared about my Not So Exciting Weekend Routine about how I stay home most of Saturday because of medication on Friday. My typical Saturday diet is anything easy because I don’t have the energy to do much.

Yesterday early in the evening I had a message from one of my Yazidi friends letting me know he was going to bring me some kebab. It was a huge blessing on a Saturday for me.

So your friendly fellow blogger who is a terrible cook, did not need to worry about cooking on his down day. His wife is in my morning class. I joke with him about how he and his wife need to eat kebab for their health and jokingly say Dr. Matt. When my friend brought me the kebab, he said, “Dr. Matt.”

It is not just me teaching English in my class. It is about the relationships we have with each other. I am so proud of his wife for how far she has come and also how she is now helping other students.

My Yazidi friends in Lincoln are so welcoming and appreciative. I love spending time with them and hope this whole COVID thing dies down, so I can starting visiting them again.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

My Not So Exciting Weekend Routine

My Friday/Saturday routine is anything but routine for other people. On Fridays, I inject methotrexate, once weekly, and by Friday afternoon, I am ready for a power nap. Yesterday afternoon the physical therapist did some stretching for my neck which relaxed me even more. So what was the result? I fell asleep at 8pm and woke up at 2am. That is typical for me and I usually go back to sleep about 5am for a few more hours, few as in 4 or so hours.

But sleep is not done yet. There is a thing those of us who take methotrexate call the methotrexate hangover. That is due to the fact that the day after it hits you that your get up and go has gotten up and went for the day. I meet with a friend from Venezuela to help her with English and for her to help me with Spanish and then I am done. Well done put a fork in me kind of done for the day.

Then comes that time honored tradition of a power nap. Last Saturday it was a three hour one. If they gave trophies for napping, I would certainly be in contention. By Sunday, I am back to normal and ready to go to church and have a full day.

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Why would I do this to myself and ruin my weekend you might ask? Good question. It is all about my students. I do not want the day after methotrexate hangover to interfere with teaching. So I wait until Fridays because by the time it hits me, I am done teaching for the week.

So there you have it, my not so exciting weekend routine.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Hope in Our Troubled Times

Hope seems to be in short supply these days as we look at life’s circumstances. COVID is ongoing, inflation is terrible in the USA, so much more bad news happening. Where can we draw hope from?

When I was in my teens, two fellow teens I knew completed suicide. They had lost hope. I had similar circumstances in life with them, but I had a sense of, an inkling of hope because a teacher in 7th grade English used the Psalms in class. Yes, that was back when the bible was allowed in school. I had an inkling that somehow God would work things out for me.

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That leads me to where we can find hope in our troubled times. In Psalm 121 we read:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber

We can look to Jesus our creator and Savior in our troubled times. He is our solid constant. He never changes. He has all power. We can lift our eyes to him even if we don’t live near mountains like me who lives hundreds of miles from any mountains. 🙂

I would like to share this song by Alisa Turner. May it be a blessing to you.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Tale of Two Coffee Mugs

Before Christmas I received two coffee tumblers one with a Christmas theme and one solid blue color. It was nice that people thought of me.

I received the first one, with the Christmas theme, at a teachers meeting for my program. It had chocolates inside. It was quite thoughtful of the coordinator to give them to all of the teachers in our program.

However, the first time I used it something happened. It is almost like a horror story. I went to the teachers lounge to make a cup of coffee when a fellow teacher, a nice woman, uttered those words that a guy like me does not want to hear. I know this will cause you to wonder how I survived. She said, “that’s cute.” Cute? Ugh. Cute is a word for something one puts the repurposed sodas in aka pumpkin spice lattes, cafe mochas etc. Cute is not a word a coffee purist wants to hear as he is making a cup of dark roast coffee.

To the rescue came one of my students who gave me one that is a simple solid blue.

A simple yet profound coffee mug that is worthy of being filled with dark roast coffee, black with no sugar or creamer. Now you can breathe a sigh of relief for me. I can proudly fill this one with my French Roast coffee that is dark roast. I promise I will never pollute it with cream or sugar. This coffee purist is happy.

What of the Christmas themed one you ask? Good question. It makes for a nice decoration on my desk in a classroom where I teach moms. There it can be appreciated for being “cute”. The moms tend to like cute things in the classroom.

So there you have it, my saga of the coffee mugs. Quite emotional I am sure, but rest assured your favorite coffee purist is okay. I made it out alive. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Validated People Others Overlooked

During conversation time with my students in my Family Literacy classes, they are all moms, I incorporate the week’s vocabulary words into the questions we ask each other. Last week one of the words was remember because I was explaining to them about holidays like Martin Luther King Day. I explained it is a day we remember him and what he worked for because he was a very important person in the history of our country.

One of the questions was, “what do you remember about the first time you met the teacher?” I strive to have a class culture of it is okay to say how one feels. One of the students answered, “I wondered where is Kolade.” Kolade was their teacher. He is a kind gentle older man originally from Nigeria. He was my assistant for one year and my friend. He had a stroke and is not doing well now.

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When she shared that she wondered where he was, my response was, “I understand. He helped you a lot and is so nice. He is my friend. I am sad about it too.” By responding that way, it validated her feelings and her sense of personhood. If I had responded any other way, it could have left her feeling less than. It is my hope that the moms always feel they can be honest.

Jesus validated people he encountered. He saw people others overlooked. He treated people with a dignity others would not. One such case for me is one of the healings Jesus did in Mark chapter 10. A blind man called out. “Son of David have mercy on me. Others rebuked him telling him to be quiet. But Jesus told them to bring the man to him. Jesus took note of him and asked:

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

Jesus healed the man others wanted to shun as not being important. Jesus took note of him. Jesus treated the man with dignity when others would not.

We seem to be in short supply of people validating others in our time. So my question for my readers is what is an encounter Jesus had with someone that is meaningful to you as an example of Jesus validating the person?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

His First Days in School-A Boy from Afghanistan

My city has received many refugees from Afghanistan and our schools have had many children from there enroll. My school had a boy from Afghanistan start last week. He is in the ELL, English Language Learners, class next to my classroom.

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I met him last Friday and he seemed happy when I bent down to shake his hand to welcome him. Yesterday I stopped in to say hi to the children and their teacher and I noticed he had his head down on his little desk. I walked over to him and asked him how to say hi in Dari his language. He told me Salam. So I said Salam to him and then looked at the other children and taught them to say Salam and asked them to greet him. All of the other children are Hispanic. When I left the classroom, he was sitting up at his little desk.

Can you imagine having to leave your country abruptly with your parents, coming to a new country, and starting a school where no one speaks your language, at the age of seven years old? It was my privilege to welcome this little boy.

It is important to me to bless children in the morning at school. Jesus thought it was important to bless children. In Matthew 19 we read:

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

It is a scary time for all children during this time of COVID. Children are aware of more than we think. They need small moments of kindness.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Say It Isn’t So- Emergency My Coffee Shop Is Closed

What is a fellow supposed to do? I stopped at my favorite coffee shop simply to buy some ground coffee to take home only to find out it is closed except for calling ahead to order. This seems a bit extreme to me. They have gone back to following 2020 COVID protocols without any mandate from the city.

This is an emergency situation of perhaps catastrophic proportions. The ripple effects of this will run through the city and perhaps the universe.

Can you imagine your friendly fellow blogger not being able to hang out at his favorite coffee shop? Say it isn’t so.

This messes up my whole personal universe. The coffee shop is next to the organic/natural foods store I like to go to for produce and to get nachos. It is also only a five minute drive from the school I teach in during the day.

Fortunately for us, God never closes up access to him for prayer. We can come to him anytime. 1 Thessalonians 5 says:

 Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

If we are told to pray continually, it means God is always listening. He never closes down the prayer line to him

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Details of Jesus’s Death and Burial Prophesied About Hundreds of Years Before- John Chapter 19

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah prophesied about the suffering of Jesus over 700 years before Jesus came. These verses are from Isaiah 53.

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Jesus was crucified. He was nailed to a cross and hung on the cross until he died. It was a brutal death that would normally take a few days. Jesus could have stopped it, but he allowed it to happen out of his love for us.

 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

Pilate, who had his doubts about crucifying Jesus, had a sign put on the cross as perhaps a jab at the Jewish leaders.

 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.  Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 

The Jewish leaders wanted it changed. But Pilate would have none of that.

Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

Even a small detail about the death of Jesus was prophesied about hundreds of years before he came in Psalm 22.

All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.

. The soldiers at the cross cast lots for his garment.

 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

“They divided my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.”

The soldiers came the break to legs of Jesus and the two criminals crucified beside him. They broke the legs of the two criminals, but when they came to Jesus, he had already died, so they pierced his side to let the blood flow out.

But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.  Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 

This fulfilled Zechariah 12:10 also written hundreds of years before Jesus came.

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son”

Even the burial of Jesus was prophesied about in Isaiah 53.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Jesus’s body would have been thrown into a common grave with the two criminals. but Joseph of Arimathea intervened and got a new tomb for Jesus.

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.  He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 

We see just from these verses that the death and burial of Jesus was in God’s plan all along. It was not some surprise and God had to quickly come up with Plan B through the resurrection. It was intentional on Jesus’s part to come and die for us.

Think about how much God loves you that he had this plan, The fact that details surrounding the death and burial of Jesus were prophesied about hundreds of years before he came is a faith builder.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Break Every Chain- Tasha Cobbs at Passion City Church

There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. Whatever bogs us down in life there is power in the name of Jesus. We can come to Jesus in confidence to find grace and mercy in our time of need.

There is no power greater than Jesus. He is the name above all names, and he loves us. He invites us to come to him to find rest for our souls. Let’s look to Jesus and not our circumstances. He has all power.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.