Posts Tagged 'encouragement'

Daily Disciplines for the Christian Life: Refill Your Spiritual Supply

Refill Your Spiritual Supply

Ps.143:7-12; Mat.6:9-13; 1Pe.2:1-5

My car has a drain; something is using up power, and I haven’t been able to track it down. To keep it running, I have to KEEP IT RUNNING.

Running Low? To Recharge Your Life

* GRASP the WORD ~ Psalm 143:7-12 (hold on for dear life!)

  • 7 what’s the answer?
  • 8 show-look/listen
  • 9 rescue/read to hide
  • 10 teach/study
  • 11 preserve/memorize
  • 12 “for I am Your servant” / meditate

GET (hear- Rom 10.17)
READ (Rev 1.3)
ANALYZE (study- Act 17.11)
STORE (memorize- Ps 119.9-11)
PONDER (meditate-Ps 1.2-3)

* GASP your PRAYER ~ Mathew 6:9-13 (pray like you breathe)


  • 9a relationship (Our Father…),
  • 9b worship (hallowed be Your name),
  • 10 interruption (YOUR kingdom – we give up),
  • 11 provision (give us this day – we rely),
  • 12 forgiveness
  • 13a protection (lead us),
  • 13b affirmation (Yours is)

* GROW up ~ 1Peter 2:1-5 (move on to maturity)

  • 1 “put away” like taking of filthy clothing
  • 2/3 crave to grow up; beyond want-NEED
  • 4 AS you come – ongoing (fellowship)
  • 5 priests: stand before God for people, and before people for God

The Christian life is like a cross
~ live the VERTICAL: Pray up; get the Word down
~ live the HORIZONTAL: FELLOWSHIP needs commitment of time, energy, resources; WITNESS: not what you DO, but who you ARE ?start=1395&end=3513

Autumn Thoughts: The New Law of Love

The New Law of Love

John 13:21-38

No treachery is worse than betrayal by a family member or friend. Julius Caesar knew such treachery. Among the conspirators who assassinated the Roman leader on March 15, 44 B. C. was Marcus Junius Brutus. Caesar not only trusted Brutus, he had favored him as a son. According to Roman historians, Caesar first resisted the onslaught of the assassins. But when he saw Brutus among them with his dagger drawn, Caesar ceased to struggle and, pulling the top part of his robe over his face, asked the famous question, “You too, Brutus?”

Today in the Word, August 13, 1992

Every Christian Chooses Between

* The Loss of Betrayal ~ John 13:21-30

  • 21/22 could be anyone; could we? DO WE?
  • 23/25 notice the encouragement in the midst of confusion: “ask Him!” WHO DO YOU NEED TO ENCOURAGE? “are you struggling? Ask Jesus”
  • 26 giving bread like this was a “mark of courtesy and esteem”; reminder-Jesus LOVES Judas; Jesus knows how badly we can mess up AND LOVES US ANYWAY. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT FOR YOURSELF? FOR OTHERS?
  • 27/30 At some point, Judas’ flirtation with betrayal grows into full-on possession by Satan. ARE YOU FLIRTING WITH BETRAYAL?

* And The Law to Be Loving ~ John 13:31-38

  • 31/32 “is glorified” = a future event as if already completed; 5 times Jesus reminds us that He WAS/IS/WILL BE glorified; the Cross isn’t a shame, it’s His FAME
  • 33 does this FOR us, NOT WITH US; If we’re trying to sacrifice something in our lives to impress God, it won’t work
  • 34 “new” = FRESH; loving isn’t new; COMMANDING it is
  • 35 AS we love, we witness to the world that we belong to Jesus; WHO DON’T YOU LOVE? WHY?
  • 36/38 Peter’s excitement overshadows his patience; Jesus knows Peter’s end state (“you will follow later”) even though he’s going to pass through a time of faithlessness

You might be feeling that you’re facing a time of faithlessness; worse, you might not be feeling it at all! Nevertheless – Jesus has faith in YOU – Are you returning that faith in Him?

Guest Post: O’Connor vs. Suzuki

This post is a guest post from an amazingly talented (and just all-around wonderful) woman named Melissa Tatreau. Normally, I blog mostly about Scripture – I post the outlines from the sermons I preach. Occasionally, I’ll throw in a post or two about physics, or Linux, or other matters of faith. When my friend Melissa wrote this impassioned letter about teaching techniques, I thought it was stunning – and might be of interest to some of my readers. With that in mind, here’s the post from Melissa:

Melissa Tatreau

O’Connor vs. Suzuki

Oh, I hate that it has to be “vs.”  I’ve been following this debate since last year.  Due to the recent resurgence of awareness with the national and international media articles being shared on facebook, I’ve had friends sharing these articles with not nice things to say.  I can’t sleep until I speak my piece.

I’m a rare person in that…I’m one of the rare ones that can speak to being on both “sides”.  I’m simply writing from my OWN experiences in hopes that someone might even consider another idea.  First: a background on me.  I started violin at age 9 in the public schools.  My impression of “the Suzuki method” was this: I knew a handful of kids (and later, my best friend in college) in youth orchestra that could play the crap out of a concerto, but had to sit in the  back of orchestra because they couldn’t read.  I was told “Suzuki kids” started playing at age 3 and reading in book 4.  I happened to have an amazing public school orchestra director.  I ended up taking private lessons in the last half of high school.  I had to pay for them myself.  I took them for granted.  But I played in youth symphony, was first chair my senior year at school (in part because some kids left for another school) and a pops orchestra.  I made All-State all 3 years.  (Boy, has the caliber of playing skyrocketed in Omaha in the last 20 years… There are seriously some AMAZING teachers and opportunities now).  Anyway, I should also say that the summer after 9th grade I took some fiddling lessons and LOVED it.  We used a book for the most part, but I can still rock Orange Blossom Special I learned by ear.  🙂
I got a BM in Music Ed and thanks to an amazing violin teacher, decided to pursue my MM in Pedagogy.  This was the first time in my career I felt torn between two worlds.  I had been raised in the public school system, and after my original intention to “give back” by coming back as a public school teacher–I changed my mind.  Couldn’t do it.  The system was broken.  And rather than staying to make a change, I left for something I felt was better.  More importantly, after teaching lessons to 20+ students per week during college, I felt like I was just starting to get the hang of it.  I wanted a methodology.  Pedagogy.
The Pedagogy degree changed my playing and my life.  It was the right choice for me.  We studied a combination of Suzuki, Rolland and Zweig.  I liked it.  There was no judgement.  The String Academy of Wisconsin used the Suzuki compilations of music, but taught note reading and taught the pieces with the Zweig ideology and the Rolland ideas of movement.  The kids could play better than I had EVER seen: both technically and musically.  They played in groups and orchestras.  It was a well-rounded education.  Knowing the hows and the whys of playing was thrilling for me.  I came back to Omaha rearing to go–a better player and teacher.  I worked at a bank and taught in a music store basement until landing my current (and DREAM) job at the Omaha Conservatory of Music in 2004.
OCM was set up as a “Suzuki” school at the time.  In the summer of 2005, a “hard-core” Suzuki teacher left and I took over some of her students.  (She wasn’t the only “hard-core” one–and I call them that because they didn’t just use the books, but had done the training and fit the stereotype…)  The students I inherited from two teachers left me dumbfounded.  They couldn’t read.  I literally had to spoon-feed them the new piece: note.  by. note.  It was excruciating for us both.  I saw many of the students quit over time.  The ones I had inherited struggled because they’d been used to something so different.  I specifically remember a lesson where I wanted to move to another piece and the girl told me, “But, I can’t.  It’s not perfect yet.”  Cue my broken heart…  I know the 2 Suzuki teachers I’m thinking of were just doing what they knew best at the time, but it’s NOT the best.
Now… this article is not to bash anyone.  I’m a Christian. I’m a yoga teacher. I’m a Libra. I like love and peace and balance.  This was all just background to show what I knew at the time.  A new director came to OCM.  (Thank God…)  She had studied with John Kendall and spoke of him very highly.  Ruth’s students were and still are some of the best in the state.  In the country, actually.  They sit in the front of the youth orchestras and win competitions.  They can read.  And play with soul.  So that’s why when she suggested I do some Suzuki training, I listened.  In all honesty, I didn’t want to other than someone I admire suggested it.  I thought, “what could I possibly learn from a book 1 class?”  At the time, I was thinking of relocating, so I thought at the very least it’d build my resume.  She gave me the name–Susan Kempter.  I was off to Suzuki camp in Ottawa, Kansas.
The sour-tasting stereotype of Suzuki was blown away.  I had the chance to observe most, if not all of the violin teachers at this particular camp.  And most of them were fantastic.  A couple trended toward the “old-school” stereotype Suzuki ways.  Susan Kempter turned out to be one of the top influences of my life.  How this woman ended up at Suzuki camp, I don’t know, but thank God I found her.  It doesn’t matter if she was teaching Suzuki or something she found in the trash.  She and her ideas changed my playing and my teaching for EVER.  I could write an entire article about just that.   I came back to camp the next 3 summers to study with her.  I have my training in Suzuki books 1-4.  I had an exceptional experience there with Susan.  And this is why if I could sum up my stance in one sentence it would be…  IT ALL JUST DEPENDS ON THE TEACHER.
Around this time I took a symphony audition that was disheartening to say the least.  I did my best, but I wasn’t THE best.  I had shed blood, sweat and tears preparing excerpts to someone else’s idea of perfection.  And for what?  (An article opportunity about orchestra auditions for another time…)  For the first time in my life, I considered quitting violin.  But fate intervened yet again and I found myself in San Diego at fiddle camp.  Mark O’Connor’s fiddle camp.
You guys…It SAVED me.  I showed up thinking since I played through a fiddle book in 9th grade, I knew how to fiddle.  HA!  I was moved to tears over and over again.  The first time in frustration because when I showed up to my first advanced class it was all by ear and the 12 year olds were kicking my ass.  🙂  I caught on quickly.  There was bluegrass, jazz, klezmer, rock, classical, irish, old-time, Texas style…everything.  And I loved it all.  I was THIRSTING for this.  To BUST OUT of the box.  Let me tell you with no uncertainty: the faculty concerts were the best violin playing I’ve ever heard.  Mark O’Connor himself can play ANYTHING on the violin.  The musicians I met here were the best.   They KNEW their instrument better than I did.  The improvising.  The JOY.  Oh….  It brings me to tears just thinking about that first time.  I had been suffering from trying to perfect something on a page.  Being told how exactly to play something.  That I wasn’t good enough.  And at fiddle camp…everyone was family.  Everyone was welcome.  When I heard the music…All I can say is it resonated with my soul.  THIS WAS MY MUSIC.  I went back the next year.
So early 2009 I went through a divorce and I couldn’t afford to go back a 3rd year.  But Mark personally messaged me and told me that his method was coming out and he’d scholarship my camp tuition if I went through the books I/II teacher training in NYC.  So I agreed.  I stayed in a friend’s 5th floor non-air conditioned apartment.  There were about 30 of us in that first class.  The teacher was a pedagogue and a 30 year Suzuki vet.  Pam had jumped ship to join this cause.  It wasn’t hard to see why.  Mark didn’t teach the class, but he stopped by to speak a couple of times.  The music is fun.  It’s American.  It’s OURS.  It tells our history.  It’s pedagogically sound.  It can stand alone.  He put so much thought and research and care into every marking on every page.  The enclosed recordings are attainable!!!  The books are beautiful.  I still got the afternoons off to attend camp.  I learned how to “chop” that summer 🙂  I didn’t get to say more than “hi and thanks” to O’Connor.  But I knew I’d be a part of this method for a long time.  I still fantasize about going around the country to do teacher trainings one day… (hint-hint).
So, that’s my (long) background–Now, about the debate.  I read all the blog and the facebook rants MOC posted last year.  Let me tell you…I felt heartbroken and torn.  I didn’t want to choose a side.  Again, I like peace and balance!  I’m not typically a big fan of change.  I like the comfort zone.  I argued that IT DEPENDS ON THE TEACHER.  Mark is one of my true heroes.  But the way he was speaking was so sad to me.  This is not to be confused with what he was saying–It blew my mind.  At first I couldn’t believe the things he was saying about “Dr.” Suzuki.  But I saw all the care and research he put into writing his books.  And into his camp.  And into his playing.  And I thought…maybe he’s right.  It’s a hard pill to swallow, folks.  But ask yourself, honestly…could it be true?  Was Suzuki a fraud?  There’s research there.  Proof.  To ignore it isn’t the right answer.  I encourage you to read some of the research (links below).  I know people who met Suzuki and loved the man.  But you have to admit, some people are “cultish” about the guy.  I hate the connotation of the word cult, but it seems appropriate.  Mark may have been nasty in his battle, but if you actually do the research, some people on the Suzuki “side” started it.
We all have skeletons in our closet.  If Suzuki himself was a fraud, does that discount all the lives that were affected?  I don’t think it has to.  I know many people had a great experience. I think the reason it’s all so painful is that it did change string teaching in the US.  For 50 years, that’s really all we had.  I guess for me, it’s always just been a collection of music. The ideas that all children can learn and let’s all make better people… nice ideas.  But not enough.  When people ask me if I’m a Suzuki teacher…I’ve always struggled with the answer.  Do I use the books?  Did I do 4 years of training?  Yes.  But people STILL have a stereotype of what “Suzuki” is.  I’m happy to report from seeing what’s happening in Ottawa that things have been in the process of changing for the better.  IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE TEACHER.  Here’s a fact–the O’Connor method has now released books I through IV.  Anyone can buy them.  Anyone can teach them.  And it will be done badly.  There’s nothing Mark or anyone can do to control that.  Here’s another fact–the Suzuki method as it started and intended DOESN’T work on its own.   It needs supplemental material and instruction.  In my 17 years of teaching I’ve seen kids quit.  I’ve seen kids get frustrated as soon as the end of book 1.  There are some great pieces in there, but it’s not enough.  There’s nothing newer than 1850.  The O’Connor method is pedagogically sound.  It can stand alone.  It teaches theory, history and CREATIVITY.  It’s OUR music.
I’ll be honest.  Reading all this stuff made me feel like I was having an identity crisis.  I was teaching both.  I was sickened by the way Mark was speaking to people.  My hero… It was hard to rationalize.  I agree with his ideas, but not with the way he was handling it.  I was able to attend and present at the 2014 ASTA convention.  I wanted to stop by MOC’s booth, hoping to just say hi.  And we stood there, speaking for 90 min straight.  I talked to Mark O’Connor for 90 min straight!!  Let me tell you, friends, this guy is genuine.  You may find it hard to guess by the way he talks in print, but he’s very soft spoken in person!!!!  He’s passionate about this cause.  His 3 year old daughter was there at his side.  He’s a kid that had some bad musical experiences and then had some awesome ones.  He’s just trying to share it with all of you.  With me.  With MY kid.  My faith and excitement about string playing in the US was renewed.  I’m still on board.  He’s worth listening to.
I’ve been typing for 2 hours.  I care deeply about this topic.  And about you, if you’re still reading this.  I know it can be hard, but we can’t make an informed decision blindly. We must take a good, hard look at the research and what our students need.  We MUST MUST MUST always be evaluating what’s happening in String teaching in our country.  We must never be blind. We must never get in a rut.  We must never stop learning.  We must never be afraid of something new.  It’s possible that something we’ve loved and believed for 50 years wasn’t exactly true.   Are you still inspired?  Are you getting better?  Why or why not?
I REALLY LOVE this post by Pam Wiley, the Suzuki vet that leads the O’Connor method.
If you haven’t read some of Mark’s research, here it the link to his blog–
It is overwhelming, but it’s WORTH reading.
I will not ask you to take a side.  I’m just asking you to be open.  And do the research to make a good decision for yourself.
Melissa Tatreau Holtmeier

Melissa’s (shortened) bio: One of the founding members of the Mahr Quartet from Omaha, Nebraska, Melissa holds a degree in Music Education and a Masters degree in violin pedagogy/performance. She has been a full-time artist-faculty member at the Omaha Conservatory of Music (OCM) for a decade. She serves as the String Department Chair and teaches at their summer institute. Melissa has also taught for the Millard Public Schools and is a regular sectional coach for the Omaha Area Youth Orchestras. She is a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, the American String Teachers’ Association and the American Federation of Musicians.

As a professional musician, Melissa has performed with Bobby Vinton, Frank Sinatra Jr., Rod Stewart, Josh Groban, Pam Tillis,The Lettermen, Michael W. Smith, Mannheim Steamroller, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Johnny Mathis, Mary J. Blige and Michael Buble. She is a member of the Lincoln Symphony and is a regular sub for the Omaha Symphony.

— I hope that was as interesting and informative, and encouraging to you all as it was to me. -KFJ – PastorEd

Whatever Is Admirable

Whatever Is Admirable Sermon Audio Here
the Whatevers of Philippians 4:8
Romans 14:13-19

Phillippians 4:8 contains a number of words which are only found in Scripture once. This morning we’ll look at “whatever is admirable. The Greek word is “euphemos” (“eu”=good, “phemos”=word). This brings to mind the question:

How Do We Get At The Good Word?

Wonder About Wisdom
2 Chronicles 10:1-7: a young successor wonders what to say

  • v6 look for wise advice before making an answer
  • you may not have time: seek wisdom BEFORE it’s needed!
  • v7 kindness and caring goes a long way!

Interact About Issues
Romans 14:13-19: a church has interior squabbles

  • v13 each other; for those IN Christ
  • v15 how to know if distress occurs? Talk!
  • v17 actions NOT indicators of salvation (“only those who”)
  • v18 we serve Christ in righteousness, peace and joy
  • v19 we work at it!

Store The Good Stuff Inside
Luke 6:45: our speech displays our heart

  • What do you dwell on?
  • What do you talk about frequently?
  • Do others hear the work of God happening in you?

Devotionals Online: 02

Making Up for Lost Time

Verses to Read: 1 Thes. 3:6-10

Facebook has become one of the fastest growing social media sights in the history of the Internet. Why? I think it’s because there is something very special about reconnecting with old friends, and being able to catch up on what has been happening in their lives.

I’m convinced that Paul would have definitely added the Thessalonians to his Facebook friend list if he’d had access to that technology. When I read that Paul had been concerned about his friends in Thessolonika, and after getting a good report from Timothy that they were doing well, he said that he “had been comforted about you through your faith.” I’m especially struck by Paul’s earnest desire to meet face to face with his friends, and supply “what is lacking” in their faith.

I have to ask myself: do I earnestly desire to supply what is lacking in the faith of those who are around me? do I concern myself with my friends’ walk with Christ so much that I become agitated when I don’t hear of any encouragement regarding their faith walk? I hope that I do (but not in a creepy, controlling kind of way); I want to be a consistent voice for encouragement amongst my friends, my family, my community of faith – reminding them again and again to get to know and trust Jesus more and more.

Lord God, I realize that YOU are far more concerned about our spiritual journey than I am. Help me to reflect Your priorities in my own life, so that I can rightly encourage others to follow you as well. In the words of Paul, “follow me as I follow Christ”. Give me that kind of boldness, Lord. I ask it in Jesus’ name; Amen.

When people think of me, I want them to think, “He’s like Jesus… but with louder shirts.”

Pastor Ed Backell

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