Mike Cope's blog

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Michael Brown said his greatest mistake in directing the Katrina relief effort was in not realizing for so long that Louisiana is dysfunctional. Does the man not read Grisham novels? - - - - My favorite dessert: blueberry pie. (Or blueberry cobbler. What's the difference other than the shape?) - - - - We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon of 7th grade football yesterday. Nothing like football on a cool, crisp autumn day. (It was 104 degrees.) - - - - Yesterday in freshman Bible I remembered why I love to teach. A student who has seem uninterested so far started coming to life as I talked about the kingdom of God and the mission of Christ in Mark 1. As the class went along, I could see her eyes brighten and her body start to lean forward. At the end she came up and said, "That was really good today." It's a small thing, I know. No need for dancing in the endzone or high fives. But what if . . . what if this student had a switch flipped . . . what if she realized that life isn't about trying to be happy and that faith has almost nothing to do with the health/wealth stuff preached on television . . . what if she heard again the invitation of Jesus, "Come, follow me"? This teaching thing is pretty amazing. (Any stories out there from those of you who do it all the time?) However, on that note . . . I'm looking for ways to follow my own advise from the last couple days. Something needs to be cut out of my schedule. And as much as I hate to think about it, teaching is a possibility. - - - - One week until the Zoe conference. Brandon, can we just pretend we're ready and quit stressing about it? - - - - Last night Randy Harris spoke on Balaam's donkey. Want to imagine what that was like?


  • Sweet Mike! This is awesome, I pray many of us can have our "switch flipped" from the health/wealth that is not only preached on our tv's but lot's of our churches too...Blessings brother - looking forward to Zoe.

    By Blogger CL, at 9/29/2005 04:20:00 AM  

  • How interesting. I know exactly how she feels. I felt like I had my switch flipped yesterday in a new study I'm participating in on the Kingdom. I decided to do the study because I wanted to hang out with some older women I greatly admire and I was blown away. God is good.

    By Blogger Candy, at 9/29/2005 04:27:00 AM  

  • Please don't stress about the upcoming conference! I can't wait to get there.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/29/2005 04:49:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    Please don't quit teaching. How about giving up endless committee meetings? Somehow I just know those take up precious weekly hours of yours, as they do anyone associated with our dear ol' cofC's.

    By Blogger KentF, at 9/29/2005 05:39:00 AM  

  • Randy Harris was sitting on Balaam's donkey as he taught mid-week Bible study??!! That is incredible - That has got to be the oldest donkey alive!

    By Blogger J A Pierpont, at 9/29/2005 06:02:00 AM  

  • Balaam's donkey, huh?

    I can only imagine that Randy made some smart a.. comments.

    I apologize for that, but if I didn't do it, someone else would have.

    Looking forward to hearing both of you at Zoe.

    By Blogger Phil, at 9/29/2005 06:07:00 AM  

  • "Does the man not read Grisham novels?"

    That's hilarious.

    By Blogger James, at 9/29/2005 06:32:00 AM  

  • but as I was watching 7th grade football yesterday it was a wonderful 70 here in the great Northwest! It is great to watch these young kids play because they like the sport.

    By Blogger KMiV, at 9/29/2005 06:51:00 AM  

  • Mike, tough choices...I know that we all need to slow down but I also know how hard it is to give up something...even when you know that you should. I also know that you have flipped many switches in your lifetime...students, members at Highland, Zoe conference participants, on the soccer or football or basketball sideline. Make the choices that are healthiest for your family but please don't stop talking. Let the Spirit keep speaking through you.
    grace and peace to you today and always, Julie

    By Blogger julie, at 9/29/2005 07:27:00 AM  

  • Where does one even begin to comment on this post...there's more fodder here than I can handle. The donkey business--PRICELESS!

    Mike--praise God for your teaching. No matter whether you're in the classroom or everyday life, you'll always be a teacher. BUT, I hope you won't give that up. (And don't even think about giving up ZOE!!)

    Speaking of...stessing? Who's stressing?? :)

    By Blogger Brandon Scott, at 9/29/2005 07:29:00 AM  

  • I can relate to your student. There's just something more...I don't know...real(?)...about emphasis on Jesus' mission versus our meetings and/or other teachings.

    Hope you and your students have a great year.

    By Blogger Agent B, at 9/29/2005 08:29:00 AM  

  • While on a Harding Univ spring break campaign going on 5 years ago, myself and several others from HU were in Nashville working with one of the Hobby Shops. It is still some of the hardest work I have ever done in one week. God started me on a very special track that spring. We were working with a lot of inner city kids...doing VBS's twice every day and other things.
    I was sitting in on one of the classes my friend Dustin was teaching for some 10ish year old kiddo's. One little boy leaned over to me part way through the class and said, "I have a father in Heavan. You know how I know that?" I asked him how. He said, "Cause Dustin just said." That was it but I will never forget it. Its my favorite teaching-story to date. This little boy had never had his real father in his life.
    Thanks for your blog, Mike.


    By Blogger KSullie, at 9/29/2005 08:34:00 AM  

  • I met a 17-year-old student from Sulphur, LA who is now one of my students. I don't think a health/wealth gospel would resonate with her right now. She's confused, lost, and just wants to go home but can't. It makes me sick to my stomach to listen to that on TV.

    By Blogger Chad, at 9/29/2005 08:56:00 AM  

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    By Blogger MarkS, at 9/29/2005 08:59:00 AM  

  • Was Randy actually sitting ON the donkey or was that his topic? Either way, wish I'd been there.

    By Blogger MarkS, at 9/29/2005 09:01:00 AM  

  • All those Grisham books are true, aren't they?

    Blueberry cobbler has no bottom. 'Nuf said.

    You forgot to mention that it has gone from 104 degrees yesterday to 54 degrees today. I don't buy this notion of people that haven't lived in Abilene saying they have big and immediate weather changes. Come live in Abilene for a year and we'll show you some weather insanity.

    For Christians who know God has given them the gift of teaching, there really isn't anything much more rewarding than seeing those light bulbs illuminate!

    I, personally, am counting down the days until next Thurs. when the Zoe conference starts. It can't come soon enough. If I hear of one more person in Abilene who has the stomach virus, I'm leaving early for Nashville.

    I have to admit, I'm not sure I've ever heard someone say "jackass" in a sermon. Again, 'nuf said.

    By Blogger Amy Boone, at 9/29/2005 09:02:00 AM  

  • I think you need to cut back on the family time. The less time you spend playing catch with Chris, the more time you can devote to working on those sermons. Maybe one day you could be as good as Brother Harris! The fewer hours spent with Diane could go toward lesson prep. I mean, really, wouldn't it be worth sacrificing ONE marriage if it allowed you to flip TWO switches in a class, maybe even THREE?

    Let's see...you could also cut out personal quiet time. Just get the 100-Minute Bible, and you can shave a few hours per week, couldn't you?

    Final suggestions: Sermoncasting. Just make your sermons into podcasts, we'll all download them onto our iPods, and then we won't have to waste all the time travelling to the church building, talking with people, fellowshipping, and you wouldn't have to waste all those hours talking to people after service. I'm guessing you could free up a lot of time with this one!!!

    By Blogger Greg Kendall-Ball, at 9/29/2005 09:22:00 AM  

  • Blueberry cobbler may have no bottom, but if I keep eating it, "bottom" is something I'll have plenty of.

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 9/29/2005 09:48:00 AM  

  • I had you for freshman Bible in 1998. You were my favorite teacher. You actually would email me to find out how my dad's health was going. Thank you so much for caring for one student. I am now an 8th grade teacher. I hope I can connect to each one of my students and make them feel special because that is what you taught me in your class. I understand that sometimes life pulls you in different ways, but you are a great teacher because you care. That changes lives.

    By Blogger Brooke, at 9/29/2005 10:10:00 AM  

  • I had a good moment teaching today. Today's topic in 8th grade Honors Civics was the Texas v. Johnson case (re: flag burning) to the Supreme Court. Since that case can be... um... controversial, I'm always a bit nervous when I teach the lesson. We talk a lot about "understanding motives" and "condoning actions" being different things. We talk about 1st Amendment freedoms, why people in our country demonstrate as they do, and the Supreme Court's majority decision in the case. It's always fun, but a bit nerve wracking considering the topic.

    Today after the lesson one of my students came up and said, "I know what you are doing [with these weekly Supreme Court case discussions]! You are trying to get us to think of things and understand others in a way we never have before!"

    YES! (At least one of my students gets it!)

    By Blogger Mandy, at 9/29/2005 10:20:00 AM  

  • This past spring I was recovering from heart surgery and really feeling sorry for myself, but was determined to continue with plans to perform two weddings on the same day in June. I had taught both of the brides to be in high school and one of them was such a challange that I was a bit suprised that she asked me to do her ceremony. During one of her premarital counseling sessions she told me that because of my class she had made the conscience decision to maintain her virginity until marriage. Sometimes the people you think you are reaching the least are infact the ones you are impacting the most. Thanks for your usual great post.

    By Blogger RC, at 9/29/2005 10:33:00 AM  

  • my two cents on the pie vs cobbler controversy: real cobbler has a 'crust' that is more like bisquit than it is like pie crust. most of what is sold as cobbler is really bottomless pie.

    per my grandma

    By Blogger Laura, at 9/29/2005 10:38:00 AM  

  • Amy - The last time it was said at Highland was when I preached on that same text a couple years ago.

    Mark - Excellent question. Let me clarify what I meant by saying that Randy was preaching on Balaam's donkey: he was preaching on that topic; he was not, however, actually sitting on the donkey while preaching. It raises an interesting image, though, doesn't it.

    Mandy - Keep forcing your students to think. Your dad did it to me when I was a student at HU.

    Brooke - I'm sitting here stunned. Thanks for those words. They make it hard to give up this teaching gig. Blessings on you as you participate in the mission of Jesus.

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/29/2005 10:53:00 AM  

  • This is my first semester teaching a college level class: I'm teaching "Discovering the NT" at Rochester College. I have 43 students and only a dozen are affiliated (I use the word loosely) with Churches of Christ.

    The good news: most of the students are so in tune with the importance of the Spirit in the story of the Gospels and early church. The bad news: fundamentalists and evangelicals (no matter what the sign on the church says) are way more similar than they are different. So...I'm trying to get them to read the Bible as "the unfolding story of God" (thanks to my good friend John York) rather than a rule book or collection of divine timeless principles.

    All that being said, I find these freshmen students to be incredibly spiritual if not "biblically literate"--they have a zest for the Kingdom in ways that far exceed my own.

    Christendom might be in trouble...Christianity is writing a new chapter in America.

    By Blogger Josh.Graves, at 9/29/2005 11:13:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    A few years ago I was teaching some deaf kids(using sign language of course). Our church organized and t taught Bible classes to some elementary age kids that attended a local deaf school. One Wednesday night I was teaching on Jesus' parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost boy. If you know anything about American Sign Language, you know that there is a bit of acting that goes into communicating with it. It's a multidimensional language that paints a picture instead of just using words. Anyway, after I finished telling the story of the lost boy I noticed that nearly all of the kids had tears in their eyes. It was like a bomb had exploded in their hearts. They told me that they had never heard that story before. Most of the kids came from broken homes and in many cases the father had either left or was in and out of their lives. When they learned what type of father God is, they marveled at the depth of His love for them. Over the next year most of the kids came to know Christ and were baptized.

    It amazes me how we can take such powerful stories for granted. We need to realize that when we share Jesus, we are dealing with some powerful stuff.

    By Blogger Joel Maners, at 9/29/2005 11:22:00 AM  

  • OK, I am in Romania, and there is no way I could have been there to listen to Randy - can I find his lesson ANYWHERE on the internet? Or was it a "you should have been there" thing?
    God's blessings,
    Lavinia Cook

    By Blogger Bogdan, at 9/29/2005 11:23:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    I have one funny Balaam's donkey story for you. Apparently in some older versions of the Bible the animal is refered to as an ass. Anyway a friend of mine had a relative who got into a discussion of the story with a preacher one Sunday morning. Apparently this lady had never read the story before so it was completely new to her. She promised to read it that afternoon so she could continue her discussion with the preacher that evening after services. Well, she got side tracked and forgot to look up the story in her Bible. On the way to church that night she suddenly remembered then exclaimed, "Ohh. I forot to look up Balaam's ass!" Needless to say the lady's husband almost had a wreck.

    By Blogger Joel Maners, at 9/29/2005 11:31:00 AM  

  • Man, Randy Harris on a talking Donkey... that is just too easy, but if available I would buy a CD or even better a DVD.

    By Blogger TCS, at 9/29/2005 12:46:00 PM  

  • It's been five years since I was sitting in your freshmen Bible class! Best class I took that semester! In case I've not told you, I really appreciated the effort you went to to know your students. Years later you still know who I am! That makes a big impact when you think about that there were some 120 students in that class!

    God has been teaching me a lot about paring down my life--making it simple, less complex. Leaving behind the American balancing act of "family time" "work time" "what-have-you time", and "letting the dead bury the dead" knowing who "my mother and my brothers are" putting my "hand to the plow and not looking back". It's time to be a radical disciple, letting go of the things of this world.

    So, not that you need my permission,and though I know many freshmen will miss out, if God's calling you to leave teaching behind--go forth and be radical for the kingdom of God!

    By Blogger Amanda Peterson, at 9/29/2005 01:01:00 PM  

  • Mike,
    It was 6 years ago that I was sitting on the front row in your class. I guess that means it was the year between Brooke and Amanda. You, or rather the Lord through you, has flipped a lot of switches in a lot of minds and hearts in all of those freshman Bible classes. And it still amazes me how you put the effort into knowing each one of your students. You teach large classes and you pastor a large congregation. That made it pretty meaningful when you would see me on a Wednesday night at Oasis and say, "Hey Kent, how are you doing?" 4 years after having me in your class. The only thing more meaningful was knowing that your question was sincere. I hope you don't quit teaching. But your zeal for following the Lord is what makes you such a great teacher anyway. So keep walking in the dust of the Rabbi.

    By Blogger kentbrantly, at 9/29/2005 07:40:00 PM  

  • Mike,
    Please don't give up teaching. The way you open up the life of Jesus to ACU freshman is amazing. I think you're class has had a life-changing impact on so many people, including me. I've never seen someone open up the gospel so fully as you did for me that semester. Your ability to remember names and your desire to know your students and their names is not something many students get from their professors. If anything, I think you should teach more...

    Life and Teachings class of '03 (Fall)

    By Blogger Daniel Gray, at 9/29/2005 10:15:00 PM  

  • Mike, if you cut out teaching you're an idiot. I hope I made myself clear.

    Who else but college students question as they do, get bored with things worth getting bored over and fired up about things worth getting fired up about?

    Give up something stupid, but not teaching.

    By Blogger Fajita, at 9/30/2005 06:56:00 AM  

  • Mike, you are the best teacher I know anywhere. We need you teaching. Try to give something else up!

    I spent 20 years in "church ministry" and for the last four years I have taught second grade in a Texas public school. You are pushing HOT buttons. Politicians don't know how to run education. In defense of the teachers I know, our goal is 100% passing and I don't know of any teacher in our buiding "writing off" any student. We put tons of energy into the lowest students too. If anyone gets shafted it is the gifted/high achievers. TAKS is incredibly stressful for teachers and administrators but we do what we do because we love the kids. We fight for our kids.

    I don't know Larry's source but I can asure you that isn't representative off all schools and all teachers. I am in a Title 1 school with low socio-economic kids teaching in a bilingual classroom. It is a huge challenge and I pray for God's strength to help these kids as much as I can.

    By Blogger Paul, at 9/30/2005 04:43:00 PM  

  • Thanks Mike ... I teach at Pepperdine and love the experience. I have students with no Christian background at all, and they all are so intrigued when they hear the gospel presented in a way different than their expectation. I'm always captivated by how the power is in that Story, and it's wonderful to watch the reaction.

    By Blogger Todd Bouldin, at 10/04/2005 11:45:00 PM  

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