Thankful Prayer Is Not Like Internet Connection

Yesterday one of the main internet providers in my city had a major outage that lasted several hours. So what started as a humorous intent for a blog post of what to do about coffee shops, ended up being fortuitous. I had added unlimited data for my cell phone for mobile hotspot thinking of my coffee shop unaware that it would be needed to be able to host my Zoom class last night.

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Technology is great when it works, but when it doesn’t, it can really mess up plans. I am thankful for technology in the classroom such as the computer cart that connects to the projector, My handwriting is terrible, so I use the computer/projector to type for students to see.

Zoom allowed classes to continue during the shutdown in 2020, but for some students it was a bit tricky. Internet connection is so important in our daily lives now, it could make one wonder how people survived before the internet. 🙂

Thankfully our connection with God in prayer does not depend on the internet. Jesus opened the way for us to pray and nothing can stop our prayers. There is no buffering, slow connection, or any such thing when it comes to praying.

The only interference in our prayer lives is ourselves. At times I can feel lazy, or let things that happened hinder me from praying. Satan can try to hinder me from praying but that only works if I allow it. The interference is never on God’s part. He always wants to hear from his children.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

She Passed!!!

We met when she was in my ESL class a year and a half ago. She was a pediatric dentist in her country with a dream to become a dentist here in the USA. She had to leave her country with her husband because their lives were in danger from the government there. I won’t share her name or where she is from because she still has family back home.

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She joined my Sunday morning group for a year and we studied together for a year on Saturdays to help her improve her English. When we explored the requirements for her to be admitted to the dental college here, we found that she needed to take the Dental Boards Exam, so that she can be in a special two year program for dentists from other countries.

She took her Dental Boards a few weeks ago. Yesterday she called me to share with me that she passed the Dental Boards. To say she is excited is an understatement. I could tell over the phone that she was beaming. I joked with her that a good way to celebrate is to share some of her country’s food with us on Sunday. It was great to hear her laugh.

It is rewarding when one of my refugee/immigrant friends achieves a goal and to know I had a small part in helping them. It is my conviction that it is important to care about the whole person. If I care about the whole person, genuinely care, then when I share Jesus with them, it means something.

Tomorrow morning will be a special time to celebrate.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Do I See Color?

Last night in my class, we read about the Civil Rights movement and talked about the importance of the Civil Rights Act. We also watched Martin Luther King’s I have A Dream Speech. In class were students from Afghanistan, El Salvador, Mexico, Sudan, and Ukraine. As my students were working on some reading comprehension questions, I had time to think.

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I realized that at some point in the past twenty-six years of teaching, international ministry trips etc., that a shift has occurred in my thinking. Long ago in the past I would have said something like I do not see color as it relates to other people and how I treat them to express not discriminating.

Now I would say that I do see color. I also see different languages, different cultures, different people groups. But I see them through the lens of John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

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God loves all of his most beloved creation-Human Beings. The beautiful diversity comes from God. I see the diversity and celebrate it. I see the value that each person has in God’s eyes. It has been my privilege to worship Jesus in many cultures and to appreciate how though the worship styles differ, each time we were worshiping Jesus.

Now I would say that I see the diverse people as all being in the image of God who created us like an artist holding a color palette. Different skin tones, different cultures, but all created in the image of God and all loved equally by God.

So yes I see color. I also see the whole person as being created in the image of God.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

If I Had My Own Coffee Shop

You can blame this post on my friend Gary of because he commented on my post yesterday- At My Alternate Coffee Shop. He commented that I need my own coffee shop, which sparked the thought for my post today If I Had My Own Coffee Shop.

If I had my own coffee shop. what would it be like?

Gary had a few suggestions that I would definitely incorporate. There would be a meeting room in the back with a TV on a cart that could be checked out and could be connected to USB on laptops for presentations. There would also be a classroom where I could teach English and my students could bring their coffee into class.

If I had a coffee shop, I would need a 100% reliable person, make that two people. who could be responsible to opening at 6am for the early birds seeking coffee. 6am opening would mean having to wake up at 5am which is not in my realm of possibility. 🙂

If I had a coffee shop, there would be plenty of gluten free snack and treat options. There would also be a donation box for people to donate food for anyone to choose from no questions asked.

If I had a coffee shop, there would be worship music played for background music and a bookcase of books for people to read including Christian books.

If I had a coffee shop, there would be Lord of the Rings posters on the wall to give the coffee shop a special ambiance.

If I had a coffee shop, my role would be to walk around chatting with people, telling jokes, and following the lead of the Holy Spirit as to people to share Jesus with.

If I had a coffee shop, there would be a designated booth with very comfortable seating reserved for me and whoever I meet with.

If I had a coffee shop, nurses would get a discount every day because nurses are awesome. I Love Nurses is a post I shared that shows my reasoning.

What do you think of my hypothetical coffee shop? Any suggestions?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

At My Alternate Coffee Shop

In preparation for my coffee shop closing some time in the next year or so, I started coming to an alternative coffee shop a few times a week. It is called The Mill. It is locally owned which I prefer for coffee shops. No corporate coffee shops for me.

I am happy to share that I was able to joke with some students studying, or should I say hanging out, and shared a few jokes with the barista. That helps to make it feel like home a little bit.

I needed coffee because on Wednesdays I teach a morning class, an afternoon class, and an evening class. So that makes Wednesdays a three cup day. Spending time in is also on my agenda for the afternoon. I have been reflecting on the connection between we love because he first loves us and the love of Christ compels me.

My friends Alexey and Ruslana from Ukraine might show up here before class. They love hanging out here before class. I think coffee shops are a cultural universal. 🙂

How is your Wednesday?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Cause Effect

Yesterday evening we were practicing cause effect sentences in my class. Being the light hearted comedian I can tend to be while teaching, I wrote some sentences for them.

‘The teacher cooked food but the students did not eat because it was burned.’

‘The teacher cooked food but the students did not eat because they did not want to get sick.’

‘The teacher cooked but the students did not eat because they know the teach is a bad cook.’

My students laughed as I wrote the sentences. 🙂

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So this morning cause effect is on my mind regarding the cause effect of Jesus coming the first time to become our Savior. John 3:16 uses for to show cause effect.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

God’s love for us why Jesus came.

I love the truth of Ephesians 2:10:

 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

What precedes it is that we are saved through faith in Jesus by God’s grace. Because of that, we become God’s handiwork. God equips us to live out our Christian faith and to serve him.

What cause effect verse comes to your mind from the bible?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Gave My Student A Cucumber

One thing I do in my class to make it a little fun is to throw chocolates to my students. They seem to enjoy that moment especially the chocolate. But one student recently told me she does not eat chocolate at this time because it doesn’t taste good to her now.

Why? She is almost three months pregnant and sweet things do not taste good to her. She is eating mostly cucumbers and bread. She eats other things like eggs and fruit, but she is craving cucumbers.

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Wednesday after class, I felt bad that she did not want chocolate after I threw chocolates to the other students, so I had an idea. Yesterday before my afternoon class, I stopped at a store and bought a cucumber. After all the students arrived, I gave her the cucumber telling her I felt bad she was the only one that did not receive chocolate. She smiled and laughed.

For her the cucumber was a good gift. It was a little thing, but the fact that the teacher would bring her one meant something to her. If I had given a cucumber to any other student, they would wonder why.

It caused me to reflect on what Jesus said in Luke 11:13:

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

If we know how to give good gifts, how much more does God the Father. What is the gift Jesus was speaking of specifically? The Luke 11:13 finishes with:

how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

The Holy Spirit is our comforter, guide, teacher, and is the one who empowers us to live as Christians.

The Holy Spirit is our guarantee of our eternal destiny in Jesus. Ephesians 1:13-14 says:

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,  who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

There are so many other wonderful gifts God the Father gives us. I am grateful for the Holy Spirit and for all The Father gives.

I think I will give my student more cucumbers. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Doing Homework Is Better Than Shopping?

I enjoy having fun with my students as we study together and using humor as I teach. My thinking is that it is stressful to learn English while trying to make a new life in a new country/culture as adults, so a little humor helps reduce stress. An example? Yesterday afternoon at the Ukrainian church one of the questions during conversation practice was:

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“Which is better walk ten miles in a thunderstorm to go shopping or stay home and do homework?”

100% of my students answered it is better to stay home and do homework. I pointed out that all of them would rather stay home and do homework, so I needed to give them homework. They all laughed shaking their heads no.

Another question- “When did you come to Lincoln?” My answer- I came to Lincoln when I was three months old twenty years ago. They smile seeing my white beard and silver hair.

Another question- “What is your favorite restaurant?” My answer- My favorite restaurant is any restaurant a friend pays for my lunch or dinner.

Just a glimpse into my class at the Ukrainian church and other classes. I was grateful to be with them yesterday afternoon. My friend Alex, also one of the students, gave me a ride, My Jesus car is still not finished yet. Alex will give me a ride again this morning and after class drop me off at the coffee shop to meet with my friend Todd.

Tomorrow my friend Luis from El Salvador will take me to church for our conversation class and join me to worship after class. Then it will be off to lunch, but it will be his favorite restaurant because I will pay for his lunch to thank him for the ride. We have friends from Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico and Venezuela join us in class.

I am so thankful Jesus has blessed me with friends from so many countries. It keeps life interesting and fun.

What are your weekend plans?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When Jesus Says- Come Follow Me

It was twenty-six years ago this weekend that my adventure began. We had a weekend training to prepare for a ministry trip to Romania in 1997. The two men doing the training for us had served as missionaries in what is now Congo. The weekend training was fun for me as we prepared for teaching English and also as they spoke to us in a tribal language, Lingala, to start the training. I still remember how to greet people in Lingala from that weekend and have fun surprising students from Congo with it.

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That weekend was made even more adventurous as it snowed Friday evening to early Sunday morning. It was a March snow of 13 inches by the time it was done.

That weekend I had no idea about how much it was about to change my life. It was through my seven trips to Romania that Good called me to teach English Second Language and have a ministry for immigrants and refugees. As I look back, I can see how God fit all of the pieces together along the way. That weekend was the first action step of the journey. The first step was signing up to go.

Because of that weekend, it has been my blessing since then to meet people from all over the world teaching them and sharing Jesus with them. That weekend was a “Come Follow Me” moment with Jesus.

“Come Follow Me” moments lead to wonderful experiences. Yes, there are difficult moments. Yes, there are trials along the way, but as I look back over the past twenty-six years, I do not regret responding to “Come Follow Me.” Instead I am filled with gratitude that Jesus would choose to ask me of all people to follow him.

Have you experienced a “Come Follow Me” moment?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

The Logic of a Six Year Old Boy

During conversation practice with students, we take turns asking and answering questions. That might be a time my sense of humor comes forth such as telling the students I was born in 2000. Last Friday when I said that along with that I am 22 years old. my friend Azari told me I wasn’t. He told me I am 25 years old.

Azari is a six year old boy who comes to my Friday class at the Ukrainian church with his mom. He knows exactly where the snack box is and likes sharing snacks with the adults. So what was his logic behind thinking I must be 25 and not 22?

In his six year old mind, I have a beard and men cannot grow a beard until they are 25 years old. The color of the beard does not matter just that I have a beard, so I must be 25. I thanked him for his astute observation that I am 25 and gave him some chocolate.

Children are a blessing and valued greatly by Jesus. He blessed children while on earth such as we see in Matthew 19:14:

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 

I enjoy seeing Azari each Friday afternoon, I wonder how much longer he will think I am 25?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.