Mr. C's Blog

“All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.” Hebrews 11:13

I am sure that we have all been in a place where we do not feel at home. In fact, many of those times we feel so out of place and cannot wait to get out of that place. This past summer my family visited New York City and did all the sightseeing highlights. It was an incredible experience, but I can tell you that the entire time I was there I did not feel at ease. More than that, I was so glad to get out of that place.

The culture in which we live can be very difficult. There is heartbreak and things we see on this earth that greatly disappoint us. I also know that we can spend all the money we want, and it will not create an experience that will satisfy us for long. I experienced this on my incredible vacation this past summer as we visited Washington, Philadelphia, and New York. We had a great time, but no lasting satisfaction was created by that trip. Why? Because none of this is what we as Christians were created for.

The Bible tells us as Christians, that we will feel that way about our experience here on earth at times. We should enjoy life and as Jesus said we should experience “abundant life” here on earth. However, this is not truly our home as followers of Christ. We are citizens of Heaven.

This echoes what author C.S. Lewis once said:

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” C. S. Lewis 

Before you think I am saying that we should just lay down and wait for Heaven one day, that is not what I am saying. I do not want as the old saying goes, to “be so Heavenly minded that I am no earthly good.” I believe that we should recognize that we are not living for this world but instead recognize that we are living to advance the Kingdom of God on earth. Also, to recognize that this place is not our final destination. We are indeed strangers and nomads just passing through.

With that in mind, my prayer is that we would become laser beamed focused on making a difference in the lives of others while we are here as strangers and nomads. I want people to know that I love Jesus and I want them to see the difference He makes.

We tell our children, rightly so, to beware of strangers. I want to be a stranger and a nomad for Christ that leaves this place better than I found it, for His glory. I pray for those who may be reading this and may be a little discouraged by this world, that you will be reminded that we are “made for another world.”

I also pray that we all would begin to live in such a way that people would see that being a stranger is not always a bad thing!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”  But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:40-42

 Mary understood the priorities. Martha missed what was most important right in front of her in the person of Jesus. Before we get too harsh on Martha don’t we do the same thing so often? We know that in Matthew 6:25, 33 Jesus says, “I tell you do not worry about everyday life… Seek the Kingdom of God above all else.”

But does that really happen regularly in our lives the way it should? God does want us to see the bigger picture, but it is easy to get caught up in what is not that important. I readily admit that I can sometimes get caught up in things that do not really matter and miss what is most important and right in front of me. I have come to believe that the enemy, Satan, uses this on us as one of his primary weapons to keep us distracted.

The enemy knows that if he can fill our calendars with ball games, work, and get us to skip church then we are not likely to be intentional in growing ourselves or our kids spiritually. The enemy knows that if he can keep us distracted, then we will not recognize the real enemies in our lives. 

I have been at Metrolina for 21 years and this can still be my greatest struggle. The urgency of the day attempts to steal away what God may want me to be involved in daily. I read Ecclesiastes 12:6 the other day and the simplicity of the verse really made me stop and think. It says, “Remember your creator.”

Not the creation and not the work but the one who gave you the work. Solomon is reminding us that gaining real meaning in life is found in our relationship with God not the stuff that He has given us to do. I pray that today would be a day in which we “remember the creator” and get involved in things that He would have us to be involved in! 

Burn the Ships!

In 1519, Hernando Cortez sailed into Mexico. He did not want to leave his men with an option to retreat so he ordered them to burn the ships so that they would know that there was no turning back. Cortez wanted full commitment. Similarly, God wants full commitment from us. The decision to live for God can be a challenging decision. It involves eternity and it involves change. It is a tug of war between two worlds.

Moses faces this type of decision. Hebrews 11:24-28 speaks of his choice between being somebody in Egypt and leading his people out of Egypt.

“It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.  He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.  It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.”

To live as Pharaoh’s adopted son, Moses was a man of distinction and someone others looked up to. With the Jewish people he faced humility. In Egypt, he enjoyed all the pleasures of the world. With his people, he suffered persecution. In Egypt, he had riches. With his people, he faced ridicule. Moses chose to “burn his ships.” He chose not to turn back from living for God. He chose to walk away from all that Egypt offered him. The decision to live for God is a compelling decision.

It is very much a compelling decision for us to do the same. To live for Him completely does involve us walking away from some things that are not beneficial for us. Fear of these losses will sometimes overwhelm people and cause them to delay in giving themselves completely to the Lord. When I made the decision to live completely for God, I moved on from some lesser pursuits. I too was afraid at the time, but I can tell you in all honesty that I have been blessed beyond my wildest imagination and have never missed what I gave up.

The greatest blessing of our lives is to choose to live for Him completely. I am amazed at what God has allowed me to be a part of all these years. However, this compelling decision has come at a cost. It is a cost I would pay again but still it does involve “burning the ships” so we cannot turn back. Is there something that you may still be holding onto that keeps you from living for Him completely? I pray that today you might “burn that ship” that may be holding you back from giving yourself completely to God.

What to Wear! 

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12 

I was flipping channels on my television awhile back and came across a show that caught my attention. The title of the show was “What Not to Wear.” The idea behind the show as you may know is to take people who do not dress themselves in a way that is flattering and teach them how to better dress. 

It is important in life that we learn to dress for specific occasions and events. My wife and I raised three girls and we always sought to influence them to dress in a modest and appropriate format because they do represent God and our family.

Even more so, I am convinced as believers that God desires that the innermost parts of who we are, dressed in characteristics that honor Him and bless others. In Colossians 3:12, Paul gently reminds us that we are “the holy people that God loves.” We are a part of God’s family and as His chosen we should clothe our character with “tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

Can you imagine the impact Christianity would have on this world if all people who claimed the name of Christ would exhibit these characteristics? Genuine humility, mercy, patience, and more are not attributes we see a whole lot of these days. I believe that there would be an explosion of new converts if we were to live that way.

I want more than ever for our students and families to see our love, mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. We teach a lot of important lessons around the disciplines of math, science, language arts, history, music, and Bible. However, I do not believe that we can teach anything more important, than for our lives to model the characteristics of Colossians 3:12. If our students could see us live this, it will impact them so greatly!

How do we accomplish this? I do not believe that these are characteristics we can just muster up and do daily. I believe that these will come only from the outpouring of the Spirit of God on our lives. They are the fruits of the Spirit that only a close walk with God can produce.

Our job is to draw ourselves into a close relationship with God through the study of His Word and prayer. He then will produce these characteristics in our lives! My prayer is that Metrolina will be a community of believers who are radically different for the cause of Christ. With that focus and pursuit, our community can make much of Jesus to a world desperately looking for answers.

“Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!” 1 Samuel 17:46 

Great leaders do not become great leaders by accident. Great leaders have vision, passion, and are seemingly consumed with the pursuit of excellence. One of the things that separates great leaders from not so great leaders is that these traits above do not vanish when they face giants.

At a young age, David wanted his life to be about making God famous. He looked Goliath, his giant, in the face and told him that today “the whole world would know that there is a God in Israel.” A great Christian leader understands their role in elevating only one person, Jesus.

How does a great Christian leader gain that mindset? I was advised early on when I assumed the leadership role at our school that I needed to consult with a Christian school growth expert. You see my giants in the early days of my ministry were low enrollment and financial stability. These giants seemed so much bigger than Goliath.

Nothing against growth experts, which I did meet with, but I did not find the answer with those folks. I found the answer was not in programs but in a person. John 12:32 provided the answer.

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”

My answer was elevating Jesus and making Him preeminent in our school in all things. Ordinary me once again realized that I needed an extraordinary God to face and defeat my giants. I knew that I had to become more dependent on God and to do that I had to spend more time with Him.

I was reading one morning in my study and I came across a verse I had read many times before but this time it jumped off the page and spoke to my heart as never before. That verse was Acts 4:13.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”

It is clear from this verse that people took notice of the fact that there was something different and refreshing about Peter and John. It was also clear that the difference in these men’s lives was Jesus. What about us? As I read this verse again, I was moved to pray and ask God to make the presence of Jesus so evident in my life. I am a work in progress but more than ever I want to showcase His love and make a difference in the lives of others for Him. I want folks to know that I have been with Jesus. With that perspective as a leader or follower, we then can become focused on letting the whole world know that there is a God who loves us and stands ready to help us face any giant that may come our way.

“In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s laws and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful.” 2 Chronicles 31:21

I am an avid sports fan and I love to see a team play hard regardless of talent level. I get frustrated when I watch a team that is not giving an all-out effort in a contest. Similarly, I believe that God expects us to give our best in our daily walk with Him. God desires that we be committed to Him and make Him the top priority relationship of our lives. The Bible says in 2 Chronicles 31:21 that Hezekiah “sought God with all his heart and as a result he was very successful.” God has used that verse in my life as a powerful example of what faithfulness should look like.

There are two key phrases in that verse that speak tremendous life lessons to me. First, it says “in all that he did.” In other words, there was a consistent approach to obedience in Hezekiah’s life. I think sometimes we are tempted to think that there are areas of life that do not require us to be as devoted as others. In those areas, we may not always give our best.

Unfortunately for Christians, people are watching us closely to see if we live up to whom we say we are. When we are not giving our all in serving God and obeying Him, we present a poor testimony to those around us. I am afraid this happens all too often for Christians. It is no wonder then that many who are without Christ bemoan the fact that there are too many hypocrites in church. We need to give our all to serving and obeying God.

Second, “Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly.” Hezekiah had an undivided heart towards God. God was indeed the priority relationship of his life. What about us? Is there a consistent approach in our lives towards obedience to God and His Word? Are we seeking Him wholeheartedly? Is there anything in our lives that is crowding out God from being the top priority of our lives? Charles Spurgeon, a great preacher of times past, once said: “That God does not give great harvests to idle men.”

I do not know about you, but I do not want to live my Christian life in a mediocre fashion. I desire to see fruit in my Christian life. I would never want anyone to look at me and say that I am no different than any other Christian who does not live up to the faith. I know that I am not perfect and that I have not arrived, but my desire is to “know Him and to make Him known.”

We started this year with a theme of “All In” and I want us to close the year out with that same idea. There is no greater joy than to serve God with all our heart, soul, and mind and then pass that onto our children. I want to be “All In” when it comes to my relationship with God. I want my life to be one in which God can give a great harvest to.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

During my work career, I have always wanted to know exactly what I was responsible for doing and who my boss was and their expectations. I like to know upfront who is responsible for what. Unfortunately, many times people confuse those roles. Conflict and stress are inevitable when someone tries to do things that are not their responsibility. The same thing can happen to us in our spiritual lives. We begin to get the idea that we are responsible for doing great things for the Kingdom on our own. John 15:5 makes it clear that this was never God’s plan for us.

In that verse, Jesus tells us that that He is the Vine and we are the branches. It is interesting that He uses this analogy of a plant or tree. The vine is part of the tree that provides the nutrients and ingredients necessary to produce fruit. The branches simply bear the fruit.

What Jesus is telling us here is that He alone produces the fruit in our lives. As much as we try, we cannot produce fruit like love, joy, and peace in our lives that will last apart from Him. What then are we responsible for? We are responsible for staying in close relationship to Him.

With John 15:5 in mind, our responsibility is to abide in Jesus. What exactly does that mean? The idea of the vine here is that we must be connected to Him to receive the things necessary for us to produce fruit in our lives. Not only must we maintain the connection, we are also dependent on the vine for our direction, our hope, and our path forward. Also, we must continue to abide in Him for us to stay fruitful for the Kingdom.

All of this is reminding us who is responsible for what. We are not responsible for producing fruit. We are responsible for abiding in Jesus. This means that we are to no longer pursue our agenda for our lives but instead commit the control of our lives to Him. To do this, we must daily cultivate our relationship with Him through prayer and study of His Word.

I love how Frances Chan described this idea when he said: “There are periods that we forget that in the pursuit of fruit, that if we just abide in Him, then fruitfulness is a guarantee.”  May we all find comfort in knowing that Jesus will do in our lives what only He can do if we remain in Him. Because “apart from Him we can do nothing.”

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3 

Sometimes we Southerners use expressions that people outside the South do not understand. One of those phrases we use sometimes is the phrase “I am fixing to.” Translated it means that we are getting ready or prepared to do something.

In this crazy world we live in, I want to do all I can to be ready spiritually for all the issues of life that will come my way. I am convinced that if we are not ready spiritually we will miss out on the peace we all so desperately seek for our lives. I want to be focused and fixated on Him daily.

Isaiah 26:3 above gives us an incredible prescription for finding peace for our lives. In this passage, Isaiah tells us that God will keep “in perfect peace” all those who trust in Him and who are focused or fixated on Him.

As I thought about this idea of placing our trust in God, that is what we as Christians did when we received Christ as Savior and Lord. At that time, He secured our eternal destiny. This is the first step of gaining peace with God as the verse above says. We are secure in Him for eternity. Hebrews 9:12 describes this: “With His own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—He entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.

We are secure in Him and that should bring us peace. The second part of gaining that peace is in being fixated or focused on Him.  I researched the definition of fixed. Webster defines it as “securely placed or fastened.” Once we are saved and in relationship with God, we are to daily place our hope and trust in Him for all the issues of life. He is our anchor that will hold our lives calm and steady regardless of whatever the storms of life may bring us.

 Hebrews 6:18-19 confirms this when it declares: “Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.” Hebrews 6:18-19 

He is the only hope that can truly bring us peace. The primary thing we should be “fixing to do”, as the Southern expression says, is to allow our thoughts, our lives, and our hopes to be fixed on God!

“Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” John 13:7

Growing up, I heard my mom say many times “you do not understand what is going on now, but someday you will.” That statement never made sense to me as a child. I wanted to know now why something was happening. Even today, I think we all struggle with why certain things happen to us or people we know. Life does not make sense many times, whether it be in trying to find a career path or trying to understand why a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

In John 13:7, Jesus tells us that even though “you don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” What a great truth and reminder! In Isaiah 55:8, God reminds us “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.”

These verses teach us that God is at work in our lives many times behind the scenes and in a way that is far superior to anything we could think of. I am living proof that God’s plan is a lot better than mine. When I was fresh out of college, I really believed that my career path would solely be about finding the right business career.

It was not long that I was miserable in those business jobs. I began to pray and ask God, “Why do you have me here?” Answers did not come right away, and it appeared I was trapped in something I hated. When I look back on those times, I see now that it was as if God was telling me to hang on and learn all I could where He had me and that someday soon He would reveal to me His plan.

That was exactly what He did. He used the business experience in my life to help prepare me for the role to lead Metrolina. I did not have to wait to long for the Lord to give me that “someday.” He planted me in a role that I went back to school for and used those earlier tools in business to make a difference in ministry. I did not know then, but all these years later I gained an understanding of what God was up to.

What about you? Maybe you are in a place today that you don’t why something is happening in your life. I would remind you that God has His best planned for you if you will trust Him. Especially if you will trust Him to deliver you in His own unique way. I want to leave you with some verses that I pray will give you hope that someday you will understand.

“The Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you.” Deuteronomy 23:14

“The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.” Psalm 34:19 

“Then call on me when you are in trouble and I will rescue you and you will give me glory.” Psalm 50:15

 “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.”  1 Peter 3:10-11

Everyone remembers the key phrase from the Declaration of Independence which says:“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We are blessed to be Americans and live in this great country. I especially love the statement the “pursuit of happiness.” We are free to pursue happiness. In fact, I believe most if not all people long for happiness and to enjoy life.

1 Peter 3:10-11 gives us incredible insight into what enjoying life may look like. That passage tells us if we want to enjoy life and many happy days then we must do a few things. First, we must learn to control our tongue. How do we do that?

I believe that we must stay close to God through the reading of His Word and spending time with Him in prayer. I am convinced that if we make Him the focus of our lives we will be different. His Word will change our focus, or speech, and our conduct. How do I know His Word will change our speech? Look at Hebrews 4:12 and Isaiah 55:11 below.

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” 

“It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” 

Spending time in His Word will keep us from speaking evil and will instead enable us to uplift others with our speech.  1 Peter 3:10-11 also reminds us that we should seek peace with others and “work to maintain it.” Romans 12:18 also instructs us to: “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” 

From this passage, we are taught that to enjoy lie and see many happy days then we are to control our tongue and seek peace with others. As I think about this truth, I see the wisdom in what God could truly do for my life by submitting to this. Most of the problems I encounter are when I do not control my tongue and seek to live in peace. More importantly, this reminds me that finding real joy and happiness begins with me committing my life to God and following His Word. God will honor that kind of lifestyle. 1 Peter 3:12 confirms this when it declares: “The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and His ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns His face against those who do evil.”

Rev. Rick Calloway
MCA Head of School

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