Confessions of a Teacher’s Pet

10 12 2013

Tuesday Re-mix:

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”  “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.  They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”  Mark 10:35-37

teacher's pet

I admit that, sometimes during my childhood, under some circumstances which might come about upon occasion, I was, at times, capable of being…the teacher’s pet.  I do NOT admit to being crass about it, nor even intentionally manipulative about it.  And I certainly never perfected the art in nearly the way(s) my younger daughter seems to have done so (sorry, Reno…cat’s out of the bag now I guess).  But I will confess that, when one of my teachers may have favored me a little one way or another, I liked it…and may have even used it to my advantage at times.  Whew!  So glad to get that off my chest!

So, when I read about James and John and their not-so-secret desire for favored treatment with Jesus, I admit that I actually understand where they were coming from.  Don’t act like you don’t get it.  I know you do.

The truth about all of us is that we enjoy being favored.  We relish special treatment.  When the flight attendant comes to your seat in coach and informs you that you have been selected to enjoy a free upgrade into first class for this flight, you have no problem gathering your belongings and bouncing up to the comfy seats as if you deserve it.  When the police officer pulls me over and has me on his radar doing 65 in a 55, and then tells me he is just going to give me a warning instead of an actual ticket, I do not argue with him.  When we get our free “fast pass” to the most popular ride at Disneyworld and get to go to the front of the line ahead of all those poor, tired parents who have been standing in line for an hour, we say “Thank you very much” and smile all the way to the front.

We enjoy special treatment at restaurants and movie theaters and parking lots and at the office.  We enjoy it because, deep inside most of us, there is a prideful little boy or little girl who thinks he/she deserves it.  I LIKED being the teacher’s pet, because I liked what it said to everyone else about me.  It said, “Blake’s a winner…he’s a little bit better than the rest of you.”  It felt great to me, and to James and to John.  That’s all they wanted…just a little favor, even if it meant placing them above everyone else.  Isn’t there a little bit of James and John in all of us?

I am grateful for a teacher (and a Savior) who is patient enough with that part of us to simply say, “Blake, you don’t really know what you are asking, and there are plenty of times coming when what you are asking is the last thing you will want, so why don’t you just come with me and trust me with the blessings.”  I am grateful for a God who mercifully does NOT give us what we ask for sometimes.  And I am grateful for a Savior who stays close by and walks with us through the painful times, when we regretfully get exactly what we asked for.

© Blake Coffee
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on this website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Blake Coffee.  Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: © Blake Coffee. Website: churchwhisperer.com




The Long Journey Preparing for Jesus

3 12 2013

Tuesday Re-mix:

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way”—
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.’” Mark 1:1-3

Christmas JourneyWelcome to the Advent Season, everyone!  I am certain this season is as special at your church as it is at mine.  Now begins the challenge of leading our people’s hearts to turn toward Christ as opposed to getting so entangled with the secular culture of Christmas that they lose sight of Jesus.  I know you are thinking about that.  You are considering how you can best lead so as to help your people “prepare the way for the Lord”.  In that regard, you, my church leader friend, are John the Baptizer.  Your calling this season is to help your people prepare for Jesus.

So, as you strategize about this Advent Season in your own church, and how you will help your people prepare for Jesus, will you just consider the following:

  • How will you help the single mom who is holding down three jobs and just trying to survive from one day to the next prepare her heart for Jesus?
  • What is your strategy to help the child whose parent is deployed or in prison or just disappeared to prepare his/her heart for Jesus this season?
  • What can you do this week to help that nursing home resident who gave your church so many good years of ministry to prepare for Jesus this season?
  • What is your plan to pour into your second tier of church leaders over the next couple of weeks, so that they and their families are prepared for Jesus?
  • How will your church minister to those who have lost loved ones in the past year and who now face their first Christmas season without them?
  • What about the missionary family who unexpectedly found themselves back here for the Christmas season instead of out on the field with the people they have grown to love?  How will you help them prepare their hearts for Jesus?
  • And lastly, while you are busy trying to be all things to all people in your congregation, what exactly are you planning for your own family this season, so that they will have hearts turned toward Jesus instead of resenting your ministry pulling you away from them?

John the Baptizer, it seems, was just a little bit crazy…a little bit different from normal folks.  And now we know why.  Helping make the way straight for Jesus in the hearts of one’s people is, well, a lot of hard work!  Shoulder to the wheel, my church leader friend…shoulder to the wheel!

© Blake Coffee
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on this website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Blake Coffee.  Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: © Blake Coffee. Website: churchwhisperer.com




“Look at us!”

24 09 2013

Tuesday Re-mix -

Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!”  So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.  Acts 3:4-5

The short, two-block walk in downtown San Antonio from my parking garage to my office usually crosses paths with at least a dozen or so people who are either homeless or at least very “down on their luck”.  There was a time a few years ago when God brought me under conviction for my then-habit of crossing the street before I had to face them and their requests for money.  I am pleased to say I do not do that anymore.  I actually know several of the regulars by name now: Sal, Jorge, little Joseph, Becky, and one who just calls himself “Soldier”.  While I am pleased to know these few names, God is not finished with me yet.  The next lesson is about the eye contact…or lack thereof.  I know God is leaning on me to be a better friend to these often-troubled souls, and in order to do that, I really am going to have to be better about making eye contact with them!

That is the real issue, isn’t it?  We don’t want to see them, and we don’t want them to see us.  And it is not just the homeless…it is anyone whose needs just seem overwhelming to us.  We do not want them to see us as a possible source of help, because we do not believe we really have something that will help them.  If you walked into a hospital ward full of sick people and you were carrying the one vaccine which you knew would cure them, you would look them all right in the eyes and tell them to line up and get ready to be healed!  But when the needs seem to us to be more than we are capable of meeting, our eyes immediately turn away and we walk on, hoping they will not look at us.  We don our imaginary cloak of invisibility and pretend not to notice them.

You know what that means, don’t you?  It means our faith is small…too small!  It means we do not believe the God we serve is big enough to be of any value to them.  Moreover, even if I do have a strong faith in God, I would much rather just introduce them to God, leave them with Him and walk away, so I do not have to actually be a friend…that, after all, would be asking too much.

When I read Acts 3:1-10, I am struck by Peter’s boldly dispelling this notion of invisibility.  He not only makes himself visible, he refuses to be ignored!  “Look at us!” he says.  See us, and we will see you.  That, it seems to me, is the first act of love toward a person in pain…really seeing them and letting them really see you.

In terms of becoming a missional church, maybe that is a starting point for a lot of us.  Maybe when we each start making this decision in our own lives (to really see the hurting people around us and invite them to see us), the church at large will follow suit.  Then, we will do a better job of saying to the hurting people in our community, “look at us…and we will see you too.”  Maybe that is what love looks like.

I have so much to learn!

© Blake Coffee
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on this website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Blake Coffee.  Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: © Blake Coffee. Website: churchwhisperer.com







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