Both of the sprouts start their junior year today, the oldest in college, the youngest in high school. It seems appropriate to pray today.

Great and mighty Lord, let me start my prayer off with the big stuff. Please do not let there be any school shootings anywhere this year. If someone tries, let them be stopped long before innocent lives are cut short. Please let those in positions of leadership stop squabbling over such things as who uses what bathroom, and instead focus upon the stuff that really matters–like grammar, mathematics, science, and history. Still thinking about big stuff, Lord, I ask that teachers will earn their value–not just the lowest amount we can get by with–and I’m okay with taking some money away from athletes, movie stars, and corporate tycoons to do it. Oh, and while I’m at it, convict every school district in our nation that teachers should not have to buy the supplies for their classroom.

Now let me get to what might be thought of as smaller stuff. I pray for all of my children’s teachers to be the kind of teachers that inspire, motivate, and encourage. Please keep the ones that just show movies all day long away from my two daughters, and especially keep the ones that like to demean religious people (like that history teacher a couple of years ago) or argue politics or make my daughters cry by saying mean things, far far away from them. Let those kinds of tea9049675_orig[1]chers all decide to quit and do something else.

I also pray, Lord, that all the athletes will be safe for all their games and that no one will get hurt.  I ask that the coaches care more about the character development of the athletes than wins and loses, and so too will the fans. I pray that the chess clubs, debate clubs, science clubs, and fine art departments will be just as supported and funded as the athletic departments.

I pray that bullying not happen at all. I ask for Junior High to not be painful for anyone, especially those that feel different, odd, or out of place.

I pray that SAT and ACT scores go through the roof, that everyone graduates, and no one goes to school hungry. I pray for moms and dads to be very involved in every facet of their children’s learning.

I pray for parents who homeschool, and their children–that the unique challenges and wonderful opportunities afforded by that choice will be a blessing.

For universities, I ask that such silly things as trigger warnings be left behind, and that instead colleges be places where people’s values are challenged without their personhood or safety threatened. I pray for transformation of individuals in college–positive transformation into critical thinkers and leaders who will help us solve the problems around us, not slip into the morose of sameness that seems to be spreading so quickly.

One more thing Lord–I pray that money, or the lack thereof, never keep anyone from getting the quality education they need. I mean this at the district level in a way that every school district, no matter how rich or poor, gets ample resources. I also mean this at the college level–that no student will be forced to rack up insurmountable debt just to graduate.

There are so many things that could be better about the way we educate in our nation, but there are also many things that are right. Thank you for committed teachers, careful bus drivers, wise administrators, and dedicated school boards, who work so hard to make certain every child is loved and cared for. And I thank you for the gift of learning and discovery, which you have made to be part of the human experience.

In the name of Jesus I do pray. Amen.





There are some great jobs in this world with some amazing perks.  The President of the United States (POTUS) is one.  The president gets to fly around in Air Force One–how cool is that.  But in case you haven’t noticed, people who become president age very quickly.   Another great job is probably special agent for the FBI–badge, gun, inside information, and hunting down bad guys is meaningful and outstanding work.  The problem is, other people shoot at you and you can’t really ever talk about your work to others.  What a buzz killer to have a great job and not be able to talk about it!

I, however, have the best job in the world.  I pastor a great church (which is really more of a calling than a job) with great people.  The truth of this came through in the past three days as we’ve had some very important new year’s get-the-year-off-right meetings.

DEACONS:  It all started Sunday night with our deacon meeting.  There were two joys in that meeting.  One is that we celebrate the addition of four new deacons going through the DIT (deacon in training) process and hopefully ordaining them in either the summer or fall.  The second joy was that someone brought snacks.  Awesome.

TEACHING ELDERS:  Right after that meeting I led the teaching elder meeting.  These are men and women who lead our small groups.  This was our first meeting since the second week in December.  We decided on curriculum for later in the spring and then we worked through the lesson for this upcoming week and learned some theology about biblical inspiration.  There is no better way to finish a day of ministry than to spend it with these people talking about the Bible and how to help our church engage in spiritual formations.

EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP:  Last night we finished off the trio of boards that govern FBCPO with the church council.  We talked about a lot of things related to various ministries, but mostly we worked on the upcoming Big Day strategy (Feb. 5), reviewed the proposed budget and did some mission/vision review.  The thing I love most about our executive leadership; and some of you might think this odd for a meeting that lasted almost two hours, but we had fun.  It was enjoyable.  There was a lot of laughing and smiles as well as deep intense spiritual conversations.

My prayer is that every pastor is blessed with the kind of great laity leadership FBCPO has.