Tag Archives: teaching

Risk Manager in Residence

 

IMG_0833The letter from the Spencer Educational Foundation informed me I had been selected by the Katie School of Insurance & Financial Services at Illinois State University to spend two days with their students as Risk Manager in Residence. I was thrilled! Then, as the reality of this commitment settled into my brain, I was humbled.

My ISU "home" for two days: The State Farm Hall of Business.

My ISU “home” for two days: The State Farm Hall of Business.

I have enjoyed a very fulfilling career, and the opportunity to share some of my experiences and wisdom with my industry’s future was quite an honor. Over two days I was to lecture in three courses, two sessions apiece. Tuesday evening I would deliver a presentation to which all students of the Katie School were invited. I wanted the content to be meaningful to the students, and the Katie School faculty was extremely helpful in sharing information on class size, majors represented, and course content thus far in the term.

I began preparing my material a few weeks before departure. My aspirations were grand: I wanted to teach, encourage and inspire these students. As I began preparing my first course outline, my brain froze. “Who am I to stand before these students,” I began to ask myself. “What if my content is too basic? Or too advanced? What if I’m boring? What if we don’t connect? What if…”

I hate self-doubt. Self-doubt is one of the greatest barriers to success that we place before ourselves. Looking back in hindsight, however, I realize this wasn’t really a case of self-doubt. It was more an acknowledgement of how important this program is to the schools and students who participate. I would tailor a message with content specific to each class I would address. And I would deliver a presentation Tuesday evening that would be informative, entertaining, and inspiring. I prayed to God that He would give me the words to say, and He did.

As I write this, I am sitting in the Central Illinois Regional Airport awaiting my flight home. I’ve received lots of positive feedback from the Katie School. I’m pleased that my offerings were well received and added value. Over my two days at the Katie School, I was given a glimpse into my industry’s future. The students I met were bright, engaging, articulate, and excited for their futures. They asked many insightful questions. They each have much to offer. The future for my industry is very bright, indeed!

As I think back over the last two days, I’m betting that, in many respects, I gained more from this experience than the students did. I leave Illinois State inspired and refreshed. I have a renewed vigor for my career, and I have a new set of young friends to keep me on my toes. I thank God for this experience, and I will continue to seek to honor Him with my work.

If you are a risk management professional, I strongly encourage you to consider volunteering your time and expertise to the Risk Manager in Residence program. Trust me: you will be blessed.

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Finding Comfort in God’s Sovereignty ~ Jeremiah 18:1-20:18

But if I say, “I will not mention His word or speak anymore in His name,” His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. ~ Jeremiah 20:9

God’s sovereignty is a touchy subject in the modern church. Many preachers these days don’t preach about it, and many believers don’t like to hear about it. That puzzles me, as I take great comfort in it.

In this passage, God directs Jeremiah to visit a potter and watch him work. As the potter forms his object, it becomes misshapen so the potter punches it down, destroys it, and begins again. The potter has complete control over that which he creates, and he shapes and reshapes it until it becomes exactly what he intends. God then directs Jeremiah to take a completed pot outside the city gates and smash it before the people, telling them that this is what God will do to Judah and Jerusalem for their disobedience.

For prophesying these things, Jeremiah is beaten and placed in a stockade overnight. After his release, he cries out to God in despair for the persecution he has endured for bringing God’s words to the people. But even through his despair, Jeremiah offers praises to God, knowing of course that God’s will is perfect.

Members of some modern-day churches might interpret my speaking of God’s wrath as a lack of “peace in Jesus”. They feel that way because they are not being taught the entirety of God’s truth. God, as preached in some churches, is our buddy. He’s not angry; He’s just a bit disappointed. He wants us to be happy and prosperous. He would never send anybody to Hell, and He has provided many ways to salvation; Jesus is just one of them. Blasphemy indeed! But sadly, I know many members of Christian churches who believe these things.

Here is the irony: I have peace in Jesus because I understand and appreciate God’s sovereignty over His creation, the righteousness of His wrath and the fact that it applies to me because of my sins. When I consider the love God has for me, that He sent His Son to take my punishment, I am awestruck. I don’t deserve it, but He did it anyway. Through Jesus, and only through Jesus, our Sovereign God has forgiven me and spared me of the eternal consequences I deserve. That, my friend, is the message of the Gospel. For the nonbeliever to come to Christ, we must make him aware of his need for Christ. We must share the whole truth.

Indeed, Christians are persecuted around the world for sharing God’s truth. Facing such persecution is sometimes extremely difficult. Let us lift these faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in prayer as we seek to follow their example – boldly and honestly proclaiming God’s truths to a world that seems to be increasingly turning away from Him.

Ponder this: Does your church preach and teach the entirety of God’s truth? Are you equipped to share it?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, today I lift up Your church and all who share Your Gospel. Give me boldness to speak Your truth faithfully out of love for my fellow man. Let your Church be a beacon of truth in a land ensconced in darkness. Guard and protect me, and use me as You will to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. In His name I pray, AMEN.

Trivialized Faith ~ Jeremiah 7:1 – 8:3

This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” ~ Jeremiah 7:3-4

English: The lake you see in the picture is no...

English: The lake you see in the picture is not real. It is an inferior mirage that sometimes are seen in deserts. Photographed by Mila Zinkova in Primm, Nevada on April 4, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this passage, God spells out His wrath against Israel for having abandoned His ways in exchange for worship of foreign Gods. Israel is living a fearless and carefree life, and feels safe doing so as long as the temple is standing. They think they can do what they want, as long as they have the temple to go to and offer trivial praise to God at their convenience. They have bought into deceptive teachings and serve foreign gods to the point of putting God in the background.

God reminds Israel that He has already destroyed His first dwelling place in Shiloh and tells them He will also destroy the temple in Jerusalem – removing their security blanket sewn with words of deception and foreign gods of no truth. He will leave their bones exposed to the elements to rot. Unless Israel returns to the true God, she will not enjoy the benefits of the covenant carved out so many years ago.

As I read the book of Jeremiah I become increasingly aware of the inconsistencies in my own life. Have I trivialized my faith to the point at which I am a different person on Sunday morning than I am the rest of the week? And what about the church at large – have we become so enamored with society’s ways of thinking that we are crafting our doctrine around humanist “wisdom” rather than God’s eternal truth? Is the church becoming nothing more than a security blanket – something to turn to when the inevitable happens after we’ve abandoned God’s truth?

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

As we Christians ponder these questions, take heart: God still raises up faithful preachers and teachers of the Word! We must seek them out and stand with them on the rock-solid foundation of God’s Word. Let us lift them up in prayer, but let us also lift up in prayer those that are preaching and teaching deception and those who sit in their pews.

Ponder this: Has my church succumbed to the whims of societal viewpoints? Do I live out my faith each and every day?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from the consequences of our sins. And thank you for faithful preachers and teachers of Your Word. Give us the gift of discernment, that we may recognize false and deceptive teachings when we hear them and instead seek preachers and teachers who stand firmly on Your good and perfect Word. We also pray for those who have succumbed to false teachings: show them their error and move them to seek Your truth as You’ve revealed it in Your Holy Word. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Spiritual Nourishment ~ Acts 16:1-5

So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.                         ~ Acts 16:5

Paul and Silas first met Timothy in Lystra. Timothy was the son of a Jewish mother and a Greek (Gentile) father. He had not been circumcised but Paul does so here “because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek” (vs 3). It appears that Paul came to Lystra, at least in part, to find Timothy as we are told that the disciples in Lystra and Iconium had spoken well of him. Paul wants to take Timothy along on the journey. Although not required, Timothy’s circumcision gave him credibility among Jewish Christians.

Paul also is delivering the letter from the apostles and elders in Jerusalem recorded in chapter 15 regarding salvation for the Gentiles. The apostles and elders, in coming to consensus on the Gentiles, gave these directions to the Gentile Christians: “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality” (15:29).

English: Communion setting at an Evangelical L...

English: Communion setting at an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America worship service: an open Bible, both unleavened bread and gluten-free wafers, a chalice of wine, and another containing grape juice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paul’s mission, and that of all of the apostles traveling in ministry was twofold. First, they visited the churches to strengthen the faith of those already converted. Second, through the church they reached out to those who did not yet believe. By nurturing the flock of believers and equipping them to witness, the church grew. The modern church can take a lesson here. Many churches today have diluted Scripture’s message in an effort to not offend the non-believer who just might wander inside. They often focus more on style (entertainment) than substance (Word and Sacrament). They serve up milk, but little solid food.

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13-14)

This diluted approach to worship and preaching is of little value to the mature Christian, and hence he becomes malnourished; and a malnourished Christian is ill equipped for witness. Diluted preaching and teaching is of little value to the nonbeliever either. The lost need to hear the truth: We are dead in our sins and in need of the forgiveness that comes only through faith in Jesus Christ. They can go anywhere to be entertained or affirmed as individuals; the church must present the Gospel. If the church does not strengthen the believers and preach the entirety of God’s Word, neither the church nor its membership is equipped to reach the lost with the eternal truth of the Gospel.

Ponder this: Does my church present Law and Gospel? Do we celebrate Word and Sacrament? Am I being properly nourished for witness?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, today I lift all pastors, teachers, and leaders in Your church. I pray that you would guide their ministries so that they are effectively nourishing and nurturing Your flock. Equip us for ministry, Lord, according to Your will. In Jesus’ name. AMEN

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