Paying Back Your Instructors


How many of your teacher’s names can you remember?

I am positively TERRIBLE with names, but I can still remember many of my teachers.

Mrs. Head, my 6th grade teacher who gave me extra attention.

Mrs. Gerling, my 8th grade English teacher who sent me to the principal’s office. (I deserved it)

Mr. Waccholz, my 10th grade biology teacher, who talked way too much about spiders for my comfort.

My education adds up to 13 years of teachers, plus college and seminary.  That must be close to 50 people who helped to teach me and guide me along the way.

Well, the scripture above talks about instructors.  It makes it sound like I owe them something.

It says I’m supposed to “share all good things” with my instructors!

Actually, on a second reading I realize we’re talking about instructors in the Word–so maybe I’m indebted not only to my school teachers, but also my Sunday School teachers!

(How many Sunday School teachers can you name?)

And not just Sunday School teachers, but also Pastors, I suppose.  Pastors did a lot to instruct me in the Word.

And parents and grandparents.  They taught me how to read and how to pray.

And there were certainly others along the way.  Yikes!

Are you telling me I’m supposed to share all the good things that have happened to me with all of these people?


Here’s what you do:  Get out your checkbook.

Whatever your bank account is right now, split it into about 60 amounts.

Can you imagine what your 11th grade physics teacher’s response would be if she opened up an envelope and there was a check inside and a note from you that said, “Thanks for instructing me”?

Actually, that would be kind of cool, but I’m not sure that’s what the passage has in mind.

I think it means celebrating that you have learned with the people who have taught you.

That you have learned.  That a connection was made.  Information retained.  Wisdom acquired.

That efforts to teach you were at least partially successful.  That the learning has been passed on, from one generation to the next.

You may not remember all your teacher’s names (I only remember about half), and you may live far from where you went to school.  Maybe enough time has passed that your teachers are long since departed.

How do we pay them back?

I’ll tell you what. Why don’t we try to share our thanks?

Let’s simply thank our teachers for teaching, and keep them in our prayers.

Not just our teachers, but all teachers.

That may not seem like much, but the simple acknowledgment that teaching is making a difference may be all most teachers ever need shared with them.

Now if you want to write them a check, that’s entirely your call.

Have a great week,


Teacher Subway Sign

A Prayer for the First Day of School



Kids are going back to school today.
For some, it’s their first first day.
For some, it’s their last first day.

Bless each student as they enter new classrooms,
make new friends,
open new textbooks.

Bless their pencils with perfectly sharpened tips.
Bless their backpacks, with the tags still on.
Bless their notebooks, pages blank with expectation, only a name written in the corner.

Bless every teacher.  Calm their jitters.  Grant them wisdom.
Bless every parent.  The ones crying tears of separation.  The ones crying tears of relief.
Bless every janitor, administrator, nurse, para, lunch worker and coach.

“See, I am making all things new”, you tell us from your throne.
So may all be transformed by this turning of the new school year.

May the ‘C’ student become a ‘B’ student.
May the outcast find a friend.
May the bully learn to love.

And may all of your children learn, most of all, to keep you in their hearts,
on this first day of school,
and every day.


Have a good school year!



25 one-minute faith fixes

A lot can happen in a minute.

If your faith feels a little faded today, try one of these quick fixes and reconnect with God.

1.  See the sky

1. outside

  If you’ve been cooped up inside all day, give yourself a glimpse at the sky.  Feel the wind on your face.
Remember that the Holy Spirit is present.

2.  Give yourself a temporary tattoo

4. tattoo

Really!  Take a pen and make the tiny sign of a cross or fish (ichthus) on your hand.
Every time you look at it today, you’ll remember Jesus.

3.  Remember your baptism

13. baptism

Use the drinking fountain or a sink.  Just wet your fingers and then make the sign of the cross on your forehead.
You are blessed and made clean by God!

4.  Go Green

16. green

 A potted plant, the tree outside the window, a flower, a weed — it doesn’t much matter.
Being in the presence of life like this points you towards the one who gives it.

5. Laugh.


 Make a joke, watch a Youtube video, remember your favorite episode of Seinfeld.
Every time you laugh your body, mind, and soul get a little healthier.

6.  Do this quick guided imagery

17. chest

Take 3 deep breaths.  Close your eyes and picture the following, using your imagination to add detail:
You are in a giant hall.  God is there, with you.  In front of you is an ornate chest.
You hear God’s voice telling you that there’s something specifically for you, today, inside the chest.
Open it.  What do you see?

7.  Donate for free with the click of a mouse.

14 greater

Visit and with the click of a mouse, you can help
support veterans, rainforests, orphaned animals, and much more.  See for yourself!

 8. Invite someone to church

11. invite

What?  In a minute?  Why not!
We spend more time fretting about inviting people than it takes to actually do it.
Ask a co-worker. Send someone an email.  You’ll feel good to have reached out.

9. Strive for silence


Take a minute and simply be in the presence of God.  What the heck.  Take two.

10.  Look at your hand


Look at the lines on your palm.  Your fingerprints.  The color of your skin.
You are a unique being, and you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

11.  Pray for someone in particular

25 pray

It could be anyone.  It could even be yourself.  The person you pray for doesn’t have to be sick, even.
But for one concentrated minute, you are channeling your spiritual energy in praying God’s blessing upon them.

12.  Memorize a Bible verse

6. memorize

In one minute, you can commit a simple Bible verse to memory.
Visit and you’ll find 10 simplified verses you can pick up easily.

13. Tell someone “I love you”

3. i love you

Who do you need say those 3 magic words to today?  Giving love to someone else helps you to feel it too.

14. Light a candle

1111 flame

There’s nothing like a simple flame to point us to the presence of the Holy Spirit.

15.  Remember your communion

21 Communion

We have the opportunity to take communion all the time — but not necessarily right this moment.
So take a moment and remember the bread and the cup, and what they mean for you and your life.
The love of Christ is still nourishing you — even now.

 16.  Pet your pet or kid with your kid

2. dog kid

The innocence of animals and children is like a giant arrow pointing towards God.
Call up a few fond memories and smile in God’s direction.

17.  Draw Creation

24. creation

I’ll bet you can draw the story of creation in one minute.  No time for perfection here–just sketch it out fast:
The Sun and the stars.  The sky and the water and the land.  The birds and the fishes and the animals and the humans.
Remind yourself of the grandness of God’s gifts.
And don’t forget to put God’s pronouncement on there somewhere:  IT WAS VERY GOOD.

18.  Confess

23. confess

You don’t have to carry guilt around a minute longer.
Don’t beat around the bush — just lay it out there for God to take from you, and ask for forgiveness.
And then, read this:
“Christ died for us while we were yet sinners.  That proves God’s love for us.
In the name of Jesus Christ, You are forgiven!”

19.  Hum Amazing Grace

14. amazing-grace_t

Or sing it, if you’re where you can.  Think of how many millions of believers had sung these same words and felt the same Grace.
You are not alone.

20.  Listen to the World.

12. listen to world

The world can be a noisy place, and we tend to block out a lot of ambient noise.
Take a minute, though, and really listen:  The car driving by, the hum of the refrigerator, distant footsteps.
You are called to be part of life’s symphony.

21.  Picture God’s arms around you

7. arms

I frequently share this idea in situations where people are feeling pain or loss,
but really, when wouldn’t God be holding you?  It’s not just an idea…it’s really true.

22.  Recite the Lord’s prayer

10. lord's prayer

This prayer is designed to align us with God’s Kingdom.
Pray it with the confidence and hope of a believer.

23.  put on the armor of God

22. armor

You are a member of the Body of Christ, and an ambassador of the Kingdom of God.  That means you are connected with the powerful Love of God and even able to use it in your life.  When conflict, abuse, or trials come, don’t forget that.

24.  Put a problem in your God box.

20 god-box

My wife does this, and swears it helps.  It’s based on some writings from Anne Lamott.  If there are problems you just can’t face, put them in your God box, and remind yourself you don’t have to be in control of everything.

25.  Recite the story of the Good Samaritan

19. good samaritan

This is one of those parables many Christians know by heart.
Take 60 seconds and tell yourself the story again.
By the time you’re done you may remember Jesus’ 2nd commandment as well
— to love our neighbors as our self.

There you have it!

It’s as if Jesus himself had walked up behind you, tapped on your shoulder, and asked:

“Got a minute?”

Have a great week,


That $%#^@ from Aurora.

I started to look up his name.

I’ve already heard it or read it a hundred times, but I wanted to make sure I was going to spell it correctly.

And then I stopped.

This guy gunned down a theater of people.

Do I really want to point out his name?

Truthfully, I have enough on my mind. It’s been a busy week. I have matters to attend to at work and at home.

Now, thanks to this inhuman act, my thoughts and prayers have been on people I’ve never met, who share with me the love of movies, and who never saw this coming.

Maybe my brain is just too full to remember your name, buddy.

I’ll think of you as $%#^@.

Or Monster.

Or maybe I won’t think of you at all.

Maybe you’re sick. Maybe insane. Maybe you need help.

Surely, you need help.

But I don’t want you to be famous for what you’ve done.

I want to say a name, but it isn’t yours.

I want to call out to the One, Jesus,  who can provide Peace to this violent world.

I want to hug my wife Jan and my dog Charlie, and remember to cherish the lives of those I hold dear, and never take them for granted.

These are the names I lift up.

And I pray for the families of Jon Blunk, Alex Teves, Matt McQuinn, John Larimer, Jesse Childress, Rebecca Ann Wingo, Alex Matthew Sullivan, A.J. Boik, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, Jessica Ghawi,  Gordon Cowden, Micayla Medek,

And yes,

I will pray for you, too, $%#^@.

Angrily, perhaps…

but I’ll pray.