The Three Greatest Words Ever Spoken

it-is-finished

“It is finished.”

To understand the importance of these three, simple words, you must first understand their context.

The context is Jesus’ perfect life, led for us.  The events of Holy Week culminating with the most selfless act in the history of mankind.  The brutality and shame of Calvary.  The grim sight of the cross.  All of this, led us and Him to these three words.  The three words that would display love, grace, mercy, and our future.

Those words speak volumes.  His resurrection was the exclamation point.  The victory dance.  The ultimate celebration.

Those words tell us that there is nothing more that needs to be done.  He has done it all for us.  It truly is finished.  His redemptive work is complete, nothing that we do will earn His favor.

We are completely His, bought by His own blood.

Many of our Lutheran schools have resumed classes this week after Christmas break.  For many, it was a well-deserved and well-needed break from the rigor of school.  It also served as a time for us to reflect on the birth of our Savior, and the life that he was about to live for our sake that would culminate with those words, “It is finished.”

The second half of the school year will be filled with challenges, blessings, disagreements, and struggles that we cannot even imagine.  We live in a sinful world, and we will all have our failures.

When we have those failures, it is then we realize the power of Jesus’ statement on the cross.  It is then we understand the full scope of His love for us.  it is then we humbly fall at the foot of the cross, and realize that all we have is because of Him.

We have His treasured little ones in our presence every day of the week.  We have the opportunity to bring them up in the pages of God’s Word.  We have the fortune to proclaim to them every day, “It is finished!”

Look at the second half of this school year as an opportunity, an opportunity to share that pure Gospel message that is the completion of Calvary.  The knowledge that by grace alone, by faith alone we are saved.

It is finished!  Go forward this school year with the dedication, peace, and knowledge that is found only in Him.

A Little Encouragement Goes a Long Way

A Little Encouragement Goes A Long Way

The first day of school is quickly approaching all across the United States. Perhaps a little bit of panic is setting in? Excitement? Celebration? Hopefully, not dread.

The first day of school is always one of my favorite days of the entire year. Everyone has a renewed sense of purpose and vigor. Ideas are flowing. Minds are ready. In many ways, it is like that first day of spring up north. After a long, cold, and dreary winter it is time for the rejuvenation and life that spring brings.

Encouragement is needed throughout the entire school year. Encouragement is needed on that first day, that 50th day, and on that last day.

Why encouragement?

Let me tell you a little story about the power of encouragement. I was never a star student. I worked hard, but not a lot clicked for me. I often struggled through math, writing, and literature class in high school and college. My favorite subjects have always been history and science. While at MLC, I took Professor Theodore Hartwig as much as I possibly could for my history electives. While many considered him a challenging professor who had very high expectations, I loved learning from him. I struggled in some of his classes, all of the reading and studying was, at times, very demanding.

The last class I took with Professor Hartwig was on the life of Martin Luther. At the end of the class we had to complete a 20-30 page paper/timeline on Luther’s life. Up and to that point, I had never worked on anything with that much focus in my life. Day and night, for weeks, I worked on that paper. Even though I had spent class after class with B’s and C’s, I did not want to disappoint him.

Professor Hartwig gave me an “A” on that project. However, that is not why I am telling you this story.

I was going to lunch the next day and Professor Hartwig stopped me in the hallway. He took me aside and told me that was the best work he had ever seen me complete. It meant the world to me and my future work.

It begs the question though, why did it mean so much?

   *It was sincere.
I appreciated it because I knew he meant it.

*It was specific.
He could’ve just said, “great job on that paper.” But he didn’t, he made it specific and made it     personal.

 *You had to earn it.
He was not the type of professor who just threw around praise. You had to earn his praise, which made it all the more meaningful.

     *He cared.
Professor Hartwig cared about the students he had. Believe me, I blew many of his quizzes and tests. He would lovingly call you out and get you back on track. That is what a great teacher does really well.

Professor Hartwig didn’t just teach me history. He taught me how to be a teacher. He taught me how to be a better worker. He, in a major way, gave me a life-long example of how to encourage others.

The student who receives the least amount of encouragement and praise in your classroom is probably the student who needs it the most. Who are you going to encourage your first day of school? More importantly, how are you going to encourage them?