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I want to make my students sick

August 4, 2018


Yesterday was the final day of In-Service training for the coming year at Grace Christian Academy.  We teachers gathered up the final details of the classroom procedures and calendar. We prayed for preparation and inspiration.  We met in departments and discussed principles and ideas.  We then parted for the weekend to get a final breather and kind of sort out our agendas – and our personal reflections  – as the final days approach.

Over the summer and especially in these last few weeks I had been incubating some different thoughts about this coming year as to my in-class ministry.  What would God have me to do, literally each hour as soon as the doors close?

It brought back a remembrance of a former student who had come into my classroom after regular school hours.  “Philip” wanted to talk – not about a spiritual problem or something in the negative; he wanted to know how to grow more in Christ.  He wanted a private conference on growth in individual Philip-to-God prayer and God-to-Philip Scripture study.  He carefully turned the pages of the Bible with a gentle, slow-moving gesture as if every page of his Bible needed to be shown the utmost respect.  We would have many a good hour in private conference; this particular day stays with me though.

I have had a policy for years about my classroom bookshelf.  Any book on my shelf is free for students to take and keep – as long as the student promises to read it and use its contents to better themselves.    I have volumes of commentaries, devotionals, biographies, Bible translations and doctrinal teachings. All meant to be given away – to a serious student.

Philip got up and reached over to shake my hand, as he always did.  I nodded toward the shelves.  “Gift time.  It’s time for you to get a book.”

He blinked and looked back at me.  “Really?”

“Yes,” I nodded.  I told him my policy.  “As long as you promise to use it.  If you promise me you’ll read it and at least one time come back and tell me what you learned, you can have any book in here.”

He pointed at a two-inch thick concordance of the Scriptures, complete with interlinear Greek and Hebrew instruction.  He shook his head as he looked at me.  “You’re not serious.  I can have that?”

I nodded.  “You can have that.”

He picked it up and looked at the cover for a full ten seconds, not saying a word.  He cradled it as he opened and turned its pages, glancing at various passages.

His face was priceless.  He kept shaking his head and saying, “Wow.”

This is a Bible commentary, mind you.  I didn’t give him a car or a gift card.  This is a book.  A book to read. He acted like I threw him the keys to a new Mercedes Benz.

This is where this guy’s heart was.

Philip was expressing a joy in learning more about God and His kingdom.  Ensuing months have firmed up this emotion; we get to talk about his spiritual growth, walk with God, and next step in ministry, even as a teenager.  He is in love with the Kingdom and its Owner.

He has his feet firmly planted here on Earth (Philip is well respected as a leader among his peers) but there is no doubt that he has a heart for Heaven.

I want to continue to stoke that desire.  My eyes were opened to a passage in Mark where in the narrative of Gethsemane’s scene I read that Jesus went into the Garden being “very depressed”.  The word in Greek is adémoneó and means “sorrowful,”  and more than one Bible scholar adds that the depth of the language tells us that word means “not at home”.

Do you get the point here?  Jesus’ sorrow included being in an unfamiliar territory; He was of Heaven, right?

Jesus was homesick for Heaven.

That’s what I want to share with my students.  I want to share Heaven, its hosts, it’s joys and especially the glory of its Founder and Father.  I want to make it so clear that students will want to dig deeper and fuller and grasp the clearness, color, excitement, power and magnitude of this future abode.  I want them to desire the Heavenly destination so much that they get homesick.

Yes, homesick.

I want them to find an indifference and even a distaste for the world’s routine.  I want them to develop a disgust for the debasing habits of man and the low-level life that satisfies so many people.  I want each soul to see above the life of quiet desperation that drags a person down.

I remember the comment of one of our school’s ballplayers – a Christian guy who nevertheless was searching for peace –  who came to my Theology Camp and joined us in a study of Heaven.  His words at the end of the week were “I had no idea that this was my future.  It’s changed me.”

The following years proved his words true.  He changed.

I pray that this can happen again.  Many times.  Jesus, please make it happen.

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  1. Debbie Dierking permalink

    I have enjoyed reading your posts.

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