Friday, January 22, 2021

Flashback Friday - Bilingual Communication - Martin Wiles

Bilingual Communication

We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth.  And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go. James 3:3-4 NLT

When in a marriage or serious relationship, learning your partner’s language is critical.

As in the earlier years of her history, the United States is seeing a large influx of immigrants—presently Hispanic. Public opinion remains divided over immigration, but one thing is certain: we must learn each other’s language if we’re going to co-exist. Their children must learn the official language of America in order to attend school. Adults must learn at least a little English to be able to exist in our culture. Many businesses and service providers have made accommodations to make the transition easier. Spanish is printed on food substances, public signs, and is an option at most places where business transactions are made. America is making a valiant attempt to be bilingual. Read more...

Tweetable: What kind of language are you speaking to others?


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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Keep Calm - Martin Wiles

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 NLT

The note gave one simple suggestion: “Keep Calm.”

Teaching challenges the best of us. Teaching middle schoolers presents a greater test, and teaching any students two weeks prior to summer vacation is yet more challenging. But I had the task, as I had had for the past six years.

One young student knew her class had pushed my buttons to the limit. Not her. She was a model student who always came in with a smile on her face, maintained a positive attitude even when her grades weren’t what she wanted, and did her best. 

Near the end of class, she asked for a sticky note. I handed her a small one, thinking she needed it for a bookmark. Class ended, and I didn’t see her again until the end of the day when she pranced into my room, handed me the note, smiled, and left.

The note wasn’t plain blue anymore. She had multicolored it. When finished with the coloring, she wrote the message, “Keep Calm,” in large letters. She gave me a big smile as she handed me the note. “I made this for you,” she beamed. I thanked her, and she went on her merry way.

Little did she know how much I needed the message. Not only because of the hectic scenarios that can arise when we near the end of a school year but also because of the challenges my wife and I faced at home.

I had been doing a lot of what the psalmist had done, but I hadn’t been freed from all my fears. Anxiety and worry dominated my thoughts. I was giving in to the messages of the enemy when I should have been listening to the verse … and the note.

Some days and life seasons make anxiety and worry easier to come by. Overcoming them means recognizing the perceived sources because the perceived sources are not the origins at all. For sure, some scenarios make it easier to be anxious, but no one or nothing can make me anxious, just as no one or nothing can make me angry. I choose anxiety and worry.

We can also choose the opposite: freedom from fears. God gives us the free will to do so, along with the promise that He controls our situations and can bring peace during them if we’ll face them with the correct mindset. The choice is ours, but so are the consequences. Fear and worry bring anxiety, while prayer and trust bring peace.

When you think you just can’t face one more day—or one more problem—keep calm.

Prayer: Father, help us to remain calm when it appears that everything is out of control.

Tweetable: Are anxiety and worry dominating your life? 


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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Connected by a String - Martin Wiles

And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. Ephesians 1:13 NLT

No matter where I tossed it, it returned.

In the land before computers, cell phones, and video games—the land I lived in as a child—there were yoyos. I had no income, only the allowance Mom and Dad gave me for doing chores around the house or the money I received from relatives for Christmas or my birthday, but I used what I received to buy yoyos.

Of course, in my mind, no yoyo existed except those imprinted with the name, Duncan. The Imperial and the Butterfly were my favorites. When the string wasn’t twisted, I could toss them down, and they’d return to my hand. Doesn’t seem like much fun now, but it was then.

But a mere toss down and back up didn’t suffice. I needed to know the main tricks, such as “Walking the Dog” and “Around the World.” To walk the dog, the yoyo string had to be completely untwisted. When tossed down, the yoyo would remain in a spinning position until I jerked the string, at which time it would return to my hand. Around the world involved tossing the yoyo around my shoulder as a softball pitcher does when pitching a ball.

The Imperial worked well for these and other tricks, but the Butterfly performed even better. The Butterfly had a wider girth, making it easier to catch when it came back to me. If my slip knot didn’t come undone or the string didn’t break, my yoyos always came back, no matter what trick I performed.

As the string and slipknot connected me to my yoyo, so God’s Spirit connects me to Him. Paul says we’re given—or sealed—with the Spirit the moment we trust Christ as our Savior.

I wasn’t a perfect yoyoer. I often messed up, but if the string held, I could retrieve my wayward yoyo, rewind the string, and toss it again. The same holds true in our walk with God. Sin makes us prone to mess up. Even though God gives us new nature and clothes us in the righteousness of Christ, we still live in an imperfect body and an imperfect world filled with temptations.

The good news is that we can keep going back to God’s hand. The connection will never break, and He will never sever it. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Although we are not puppets on a string—God gives us free will—He is there for us to run back to when we fall into sin or travel down wayward paths.

When you feel completely unwound or twisted, remember God is there to draw You back to Himself.

Prayer: Father, thank You for never leaving us.

Tweetable: Do you feel unwound and twisted? 


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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Throwback Tuesday - Filling the Void - Martin Wiles

Filling the Void

“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again.” John 4:15 NLT 

He left us suddenly on August 11, 2014. Robin Williams was one of my favorite actors. I suppose my first acquaintance with him was on the television show Mork and Mindy. His comedic abilities were transfixing and delightful. I often wondered if he had a script or just made up his jokes and comments on the fly. Smiles always decorated his face. In his movie, Good Morning Vietnam, he was able to bring a smile to those downtrodden over an unpopular war. But apparently, Williams’ smiles covered a deep-seated void. At some point, his void fillers failed him, and he decided to take his life. Read more...

Tweetable: What are you filling your voids with? 


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Monday, January 18, 2021

Lost and Found - Martin Wiles

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23 NLT

I wondered how she could misplace a six-foot bulky chord.

“Have you seen the charging cord for my laptop,” my wife asked. I hadn’t, but knowing she always kept it close by her laptop on the kitchen table, I pondered what could have happened to it.

The search began. We racked our brains and ransacked the house, looking in every nook and cranny and in places it surely wouldn’t hide. Earlier in the day, my wife had plundered the kitchen table with craft items, making Mother’s Day gifts for our moms, our daughter, and the mother of the child my wife keeps. “Did you accidentally put the chord in one of the bags with the craft items?” I asked. We looked. Nothing.

By this time, my wife’s laptop had died. Not a good situation when she was in the middle of planning a wedding for a friend. Our friends joined in the search. The man, who sat on the love seat, looked under the furniture, and ran his hands down beside the cushions. All he found was three dinosaurs and a pair of woman’s underwear (We inherited the love seat from our daughter, who inherited it from a thrift store.). This brought a good laugh.

“I still think someone picked it up by mistake,” I commented again. But who? We taxed our brains, thinking of who had visited during the day. Then it dawned on us. Another friend had stopped by to pick up jewelry and a digital antenna she had let us borrow. Could she have picked up the chord with the antennae? A quick call brought a sigh of relief. She had.

Although finding the lost chord was important, doing so wasn’t nearly as important as fixing the lost state every one of us finds ourselves in when we come into this world. Paul classifies us as sinners—not a popular word, but a biblical one. Unless we’re found, the result of our lostness will be spiritual and eternal death (Romans 6:23).

Fortunately, God knows our location and wants us to know it as well. Being found entails admitting our sinfulness and turning to Christ as our Savior. Once found, we can live the life God intended for us to live when He created us. A simple confession of our sins, along with a plea for saving, is all God requires.

If you haven’t let yourself be found by God, why not do so today?

Tweetable: Have you let God find you? 


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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Set Out for God - Martin Wiles

I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Psalm 16:8 NKJV

Some things I set before me regularly.

One is my computer. I lived without it more years than I have lived with it, but presently I can’t imagine doing life without it. It’s the first thing I set before me in the morning when I write, and it’s the first thing I put on my desk when I arrive at school to teach. I need it to take attendance, do lesson plans, research items for classroom discussion, and display information for the students on the overhead.

Two other items I position before me are my black and my red pens. Black for normal writing and red for grading. In a year, I use up several red pens.

Also put before me on my desk at school is my cup of coffee and my cup of water. I can’t imagine facing a day with no Java. One cup before I leave the house for work and another cup to sip on until around ten in the morning. Then, I gravitate to the water.

Yet another set of items positioned before me are my eye drops. To stave off glaucoma and to manage my dry-eye disease, I place three sets of eye drops in my eyes several times each day. They keep my eyes from blurring and my world from going black.

One other thing that rests before me—which I didn’t set there—are troubles. They seem to come on a regular basis throughout life. Just a part of the journey. Sometimes because of poor decisions. At other times because of living in a sin-decorated world.

The psalmist set a more important thing before him: the Lord. I’ve done that too. When I was nine, I made the decision to set the Lord before me. And with few exceptions, I’ve made it a practice to set Him before me regularly. When I don’t, life gets squirrely.

But how do I set someone I can’t see or tangibly interact with before me? When I read and meditate on Scripture, I set God before me. Those are His words, given to writers through the inspiration of God’s Spirit. This makes them important…life-giving.

I set God before me through my petitions. He knows what I need—and want—but He wants to hear the requests. This expresses my faith…and matures it.

Placing God before us consistently is essential. Doing it sporadically doesn’t give us the abundant life Jesus offers. Doing so requires intentionality, but it’s possible and results in the best life possible.

God’s storehouse is full of blessings He’s waiting to share with you. Set Him before you each day and experience them.

Prayer: Father, give us the faith to set You before us each day.

Tweetable: What are you setting out for God? 


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Friday, January 15, 2021

Flashback Friday - Security in Christ - Martin Wiles

Security in Christ

For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. Colossians 2:9 NLT

What appears secure sometimes isn’t. Money in banks may have appeared secure prior to 1933, but a bank panic could easily close a bank. People who feared a bank might close ran to the bank and withdrew their money. Since banks kept only a portion of the depositor’s money on hand, runs would result in depositors attempting to withdraw more money than a bank had on hand. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was established in 1933 to prevent such future losses. The FDIC has the responsibility of insuring a commercial bank’s deposits up to a certain amount so depositors don’t lose their money should the bank fail. Even though banks still fail, the FDIC ensures depositors won’t lose their money. Read more...

Tweetable: Where do you find your security? 


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