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Posts Tagged ‘inspirational’


picture of man rolling rock

This past week has been difficult in many ways. I'll spare you the details, but I have been über-busy with all sorts of responsibilities on top of my regular teaching load. In addition to all those responsibilities, our church had funerals three days in a row — Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In case any of you formerly lived in Greenville and know any of the deceased, they are Becky Alderson, Alex Chakeris, and Joyce Garland.

All of last week's events left me exhausted physically and emotionally. Hence today's post is one that is more serious than most of what you read on my blog. What I am posting is something I received from a missionary with whom we worked in France on one of our mission teams. She shared it as part of her testimony of what the Lord had brought her through personally in her personal life and in their missionary service. Here's a short version of her testimony:

After their language studies in France, they left for the Cameroon where the husband taught in a Bible school. Early on, the wife contracted malaria. She fought it for as long as she could, and after nine months, they had to return to the US for treatment. When she finally had her health back together, they left for Benin, having been told that perhaps there might be a different strain of malaria there that wouldn't affect her. After fifteen days there, she tested positive for malaria again (the incubation period is 14 days), and they knew they would have to leave Africa again. This time they went to France for treatment, and since they already knew French, they began their ministry there. In the spring of 2000 she discovered that she had cancer, went alone to the US for surgery, returned to France, and then the whole family came at the end of the kids' school year to be with the wife through her chemo. When that was completed and she was given the go-ahead, they returned to France. She shared with us that during these trials she learned total submission to God's will, though at times it was not easy.

As part of her testimony, the wife read the Rock Story to us. I asked her to send it to me so that I could share it with you all.
Click here to continue reading this post ⇒

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What Does a Teacher Make?

This past school year was my 35th year of teaching, and I still love teaching and students. This blog post is a reposting of something I sent out exactly five years and one day ago, at the conclusion of my 30th year of teaching. I can think of so many people in my past whose influence on me continues — several of them are reading this right now, and many who have passed away but who, in a sense, live on in their students. I'm sure many of you can think back to a teacher who made a huge impact on your life.

What does a teacher make?
by Taylor Mali

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"

He went on to tell the other dinner guests that he thought it was true what they say about teachers - "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."

To corroborate his statements, he said to another guest, "You're a teacher, Susan. What do you make?"

Susan, who had a reputation of honesty and frankness, replied, "You want to know what I make?"

"I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I can make a C+ feel like the Medal of Honor and an A- feel like a slap in the face if the student did not do his or her very best."

"I can make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall in absolute silence."

"I can make parents tremble in fear when I call home."

"You want to know what I make?"

"I make kids wonder."

"I make them question."

"I make them think critically."

"I make them apologize and mean it."

"I make them write."

"I make them read, read, read."

"I make them spell "definitely and beautiful" over and over again, until they will never misspell either one of those words again."

"I make them show all their work in math and hide it all on their final drafts in English."

"I make them experience music and art and the joy in performance, so their lives are rich, full of kindness and culture, and they take pride in themselves and their accomplishments."

"I make them understand that if you have the brains, then follow your heart ... and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you pay them no attention."

"You want to know what I make? - I make a difference."

"Now, what do you make?"

Updated 9/1/2010: Someone kindly sent me the name of the author of that poem, and I have inserted his name under the title. He himself mentions that there are several unattributed, "sanitized versions" of the original that have made the rounds and he's not bothered by it. I'll leave what's a sanitized version up since the original contains some stronger language not typical of ivman's blague.


"Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself." - Chinese proverb

=^..^= =^..^=

2 teach is
2 touch lives
4 ever

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The Chair

Today's iv is something I ran across in my files as I began to look for material for upcoming Father's Day posts. This was so nice, I couldn't resist sharing it now.

a caned rocking chair

A man's daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her father. When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair sat beside his bed. The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit.

"I guess you were expecting me," he said.

"No, who are you?" said the father.

"I'm the new minister at your church," he replied. "When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up."

"Oh yeah, the chair," said the bedridden man. "Would you mind closing the door?"

Puzzled, the minister shut the door. "I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter," said the man. "But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head." "I abandoned any attempt at prayer," the old man continued, "until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, 'Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here is what I suggest: Sit down in a chair. Place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It's not spooky because he promised He would always be with us. Then just speak to him in the same way you're doing with me right now.'"

"So, I tried it and I've liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I'm careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she'd either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm."

The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him and returned to the church.

Two nights later the daughter called to tell the minister that her daddy had died that afternoon.

"Did he die in peace?" he asked.

"Yes, when I left the house about two o' clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved me and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead.

"But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that?"

The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, "I wish we could all go like that."

2 Corinthians 5:7 reminds us that "we walk by faith, not by sight."


"Today you and I are walking billboards, declaring either that the gospel is powerful and true or that it is weak and false. ... Am I really part of what Jesus does in people's lives, or am I part of some kind of culture?" - Dr. Drew Conley

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Do you ever feel like you're diagonally parked in a parallel universe?

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The Dash and the Jar

We're doing well and settling in after our time up north. Many people have heard about our accident, some had read about it on the blog, and some had heard nothing about it. (It's been fun to see who reads the newsy update section my blog posts and who doesn't.) 😉

Our pastor, Drew Conley, said something Sunday - "The longer I live the more I see that life is about saying no to most things so that I can do what really matters" - that reminded me of several really neat things in my files. I sent them out in 1998, shortly after the death of our friend Alain Laurens in France. It's sobering to think how quickly those nearly *nine* intervening years have passed. Our accident on July 4th that could easily have ushered us into eternity reminded us very strongly of the brevity and fragility of life. Life is truly a vapor, as the book of James says.

I've heard and read some who hint that having a blog is a narcissistic waste of time. I hope that's not the case with my blogging. I truly want to bless and challenge others and to spend my little time in this world on what really matters.

by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning...to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth...
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;
the cars...the house...the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard...
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left.
(You could be at "dash mid-range.")

If we would just slow down enough
to consider what's true and real,
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
as we've never loved them before.

If we treat each other with respect,
and more often wear a smile...
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy's read
with your life's actions to rehash...
will you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent your dash?

One day, an expert was speaking to a group of business students. To drive home a point, he used an illustration those students will never forget.

As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered over achievers he said, "Okay, time for a quiz". Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar, and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top, and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full"? Everyone in the class said, "Yes". Then he said, "Really"? He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, "Is the jar full"?

By this time the class was onto him. "Probably not", one of them answered. "Good", he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in, and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full"? "No", the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good". Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration"?

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it". "No", the speaker replied, "that's not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is, if you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all".

What are the "big rocks" in your life? A project that YOU want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring others?

Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you'll never get them in at all. Tonight or in the morning when you are reflecting on this story, ask yourself this question... what are the 'big rocks" in my life or business?

Then put those in your jar first.


"God, deliver me from the dread asbestos of "other things.'" Jim Elliott

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There are two things I have learned: There is a God. And I'm not Him.

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What If One Lifetime Were like One Year?

It’s amazing all the threads of my recent life that are weaving together to remind me of the the preciousness of time and life, especially this time of life. Saturday morning was our annual Family Missions breakfast at our church. The speaker for our program that morning was one of our church’s missionaries, my friend, Dr. Tim Keesee. I absolutely love reading his newsletters - he writes so well! But I seldom get to hear him speak. He showed a DVD that his mission has made about the persecuted church in a mainly Muslim country in Asia. Afterwards he spoke about what that all has to do with us in our country. He encouraged us to spend our lives well by making much of Christ and by being willing to take risks for Him as we embrace His cross. This is exactly what our persecuted brothers and sisters are doing where they live. The power of the DVD and of what Tim said was evident to all in attendance.

Then Sunday morning I heard Dr. Ken Casillas speak from Eccl. 11 and 12 on the topic “What to Do with Your Youth.” That passage reminds us that our life is “vanity” = like a vapor that’s here and then gone. The passage makes it clear that it’s God’s will, not only that we enjoy the goods things He gives us to enjoy in our youth, but also that we devote to God our youth with all its energy and strength because old age limits our capacities. As one who is between youth and old age, I can still do much with my life.

Then Dr. Matt Olson spoke in our chapel this morning (Monday) on a topic that kind of wove threads in the other two messages together in my heart. This whole thing has been really neat because I had already been thinking a lot about the passage of time as we anticipate welcoming our first grandchild into this world in late April. There are three of us who teach French at BJU, and before the end of this calendar year, we will turn 60, 58, and 56. (I’d like to graciously say that I’m the youngster!)

All of this has reminded me of something I sent to those who were ivman subscribers over 5 (YIKES!) years ago! It was originally written by Pastor Gordon Dickson, a pastor in Findlay, Ohio. He wrote it to share with his congregation and sent me a copy at that time. I share it with you on the blog with his permission and blessing. We can all profit from such a reminder.

What if one lifetime were like one year?
by Dr. Gordon A. Dickson

Moses said in Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Here’s an idea - plan your life like you plan your year. All of us prepare for the seasons of the year. (If you don’t believe me, check the mall parking lots at certain times of the year.) All of us know how to plan for New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We understand the “rhythms of the seasons.” Now let’s see if we can look at our passing years the way we look at the passing seasons. If my math is right, every five days would represent one year (using Moses’ average life span in Psalm 90:10).

So, what if your lifetime were like one year?

The day you were born - Happy New Year! It’s the start of a brand new life and a brand new year. What a wonderful season! Your whole life and your whole year are before you!

At nine years old, you would find yourself at Valentine’s Day. It’s still too early for spring, but things are beginning to change. Valentine’s Day introduces you to love - and not just the mom and dad kind. When you discover this kind of love, everything begins to change!

You would be “sweet 16? on St. Patrick’s Day … and not a moment too soon either! This “green” day reminds you of the greening of spring. In this season of “spring cleaning,” you must sort out the treasure from the trash. At 16, you are choosing between good and garbage - constantly. Your choices in “spring cleaning” stay with you all year long, and that’s just like life. You need the Lord’s help to know trash from treasure.

At 18, you’re late in March and ready to march. Congratulations! High school is behind you, the world lies at your feet. Spring is in full swing! It’s a time to plan your planting. So much of the rest of your “life year” will be formed by the choices you make here. It’s time to ask the Lord for wisdom.

Age 22? You’re in the Easter season and already making some very adult decisions. As the flowers bloom and the weather warms, you see bright new horizons ahead of you. Already you have seen the results of some of those trash/treasure decisions and those “sowing and reaping” choices. As you plan out vacations and holidays, you begin to realize that the course of your “life year” is pretty well set. How you “applied your heart to wisdom” has made all the difference.

When you’re 27, you would be celebrating Mother’s Day, and, by Memorial Day, you would be “over the hill” at 30! The weather is warm and the plans are many. Now you are making decisions, not only for yourself, but for others. You have more responsibilities and more opportunities. Sometimes wisdom comes knocking - with some very hard knocks! It becomes more and more obvious what kind of life and what kind of year you’ve made for yourself.

If you are in your mid-thirties, it’s time to celebrate July 4th. Isn’t independence great? But how did time pass so quickly? Valentine’s Day was just yesterday, right? These are warm days, sweltering “years,” hot with the activity of many well laid plans. The real fruit of your choices is starting to show and grow. It’s time to “number your days” and “apply your heart to wisdom!”

By the time you’re fifty, it’s Labor Day, and the summer is over. It’s harvest time! So many choices you made earlier in the year, and earlier in life, are now ready for harvest. You begin to understand the phrase “too soon old; too late smart.” Fall is on the way. Is that snow on the roof already?

It seems a stretch, but if you’re 65 you would be at Thanksgiving. (Whew! let’s stop and catch our breath!) In this season of the year, you want to gather all your loved ones together. The word “family” is very important during this part of your “life year.” It’s time to gather together to enjoy the fruit of your labors. It’s time to bless and be blessed.

At 70, it’s Christmas … who would have believed it? Reminiscing in this season brings back the memories of a lifetime. The treasure of those beautiful memories must push aside the trash of the bad memories. It’s time to bless others with the fruit of your year and the fruit of your life.

In which season of the “life year” are you now living? Wisdom teaches us to use each season of life the right way. It’s never too late for “course adjustments.” As most of this new year lies before us, I hope you will treasure every moment that you have, and remember “time waits for no man.” None of us is guaranteed three score and ten years.

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12


“It’s not about how you die. It’s about how you live…. You cannot save your life. You can only spend it.” - Dr. Tim Keesee

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I am not getting old, just more time sensitive.

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