Just Do Your Job

‘Work’ by Ford Madox Brown

Brenda Porter

Cold Case is a mid-2000s procedural drama about a homicide unit in the Philadelphia Police Department—great pandemic viewing for those who like this genre. As the detectives investigate unsolved murders, they’re forced to confront violence, brutality, hatred, greed, and injustice. Some days, they are overwhelmed. At the height of a challenging case, their Lieutenant, John Stillman, says to one of them, “Just do your job. Let the rest work itself out.”

Though our pandemic challenges are quite unlike those faced by homicide detectives, the restrictions on our lives and the uncertainty about the future are deeply unsettling. The simplest acts—grocery shopping, even opening a door—now seem complex. A mid-March grocery trip brought me to that realization when I noticed that I had contaminated the sanitary left pocket of my jacket by placing my unsanitary keys in it! With frustrations like these foremost in our minds, it’s easy to slide further into discouragement, anger, and even judgment. It’s easy to judge the response to this crisis and find fault with the decision-makers. It’s easy to get caught up in the frustrations of our new daily lives and take out those frustrations on others.

I knew I didn’t want that, so I was ready to take the Lieutenant’s timely words to heart. What is my job? I thought. I felt unsure about the answer. I waited. I felt anxious. Eventually, though, I realized that I was asking the right question of the wrong person. It’s God who knows best what He needs me to accomplish. “What is my job?” I ask God, the omnipotent, the lover of my soul, the great artist of this amazing tapestry. His answer has been remarkably clear and uncomplicated. He asks me to do the work I’ve been tasked to do, so I plan my lessons, interact with students, cooperate with colleagues (Ecclesiastes 9:10). He asks me to encourage those in my sphere of influence (Hebrews 10:24), so I listen, text, cook, play games, and send care packages. And my most important job hasn’t changed at all. He tells me to guard my heart (Proverbs 4:23), so I keep following my reading plan, I worship, and I pray.

I don’t need to know the outcome of this pandemic in order to do my job. In fact, it’s almost fun to wait expectantly on God, to follow his leading through this new adventure, and it is an adventure! The more of life I see, the more I have come to revel in the “gracious uncertainty” (Oswald Chambers) that God invites his children to enjoy.

Early in the pandemic days, a friend of mine, formerly the headmaster of a classical Christian school, posted this excerpt from a letter written by Martin Luther:

I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.

It’s incredibly comforting to know that 500 years ago, Luther had to ask the same kinds of questions that we’re now asking. It’s clear Luther understood his job. There’s not a hint of fear, no tone of discouragement, and no judgment of others in his words. As Luther did his job, joyfully, graciously uncertain, with confidence in his Father, he learned then what we have the chance to learn right now—that we need only do our jobs because God will take care of the rest.

Brenda Porter teaches English, writing, and rhetoric at Morning Star Academy. She and her husband, Rob, are the parents of three grown daughters. 

Front Lines

Kaitlin Walsh

I call this watercolor painting, “Front Lines”. It portrays a cloud of coronavirus parasites as they start to engulf a healthcare professional. The individual, though, is protected by a subtle yellow glow, representing the indomitable spirit and the mental fortitude these brave soldiers have when facing the virus head-on. 

I painted this several weeks ago when COVID first started its significant uptick in the US. News sources and social media feeds were suddenly inundated with the horrific stories of what it was like on the front lines for medical professionals. I read about sores on doctors’ faces from constant mask-wear, about providers living away from their families for weeks in order to protect them, about a 25 patient caseload per nurse in Detroit. I couldn’t believe how hard they were working, how much they were risking, for the benefit of all, and so I was inspired to paint my Front Lines piece.

Fast forward five weeks later and not much has changed, except that my heartache and worry has expanded to include many sectors beyond medical professionals. I’m realizing that there are many different front lines in this strangely silent war. We have the economic front lines, where people are forced to shut down beloved small businesses or find themselves furloughed, suffering through a gut-wrenching fear of an unknown economic future. The battle of staying home with kids, where parents are overwhelmed and overworked and children are disoriented, frustrated and confused. Or the front lines of loneliness, where the lack of human interaction combined with an unknown future are causing an unsettling increase in anxiety and depression.

The common thread amongst these scenarios is that they all require a certain mental stamina, an internal peace, to withstand the hardship. As the weeks drag on, it seems that that emotional fortitude has become harder and harder to come by. We are all going to need to dig deep and find it, though, for regardless of the decisions made by our governmental leaders, it seems that COVID and its long-term effects will not be going away in the near future. 

Enter Jesus. It is through Him that we will find the power to withstand all kinds of suffering, to find that elusive peace in the face of adversity. Recall when Jesus calms the storm in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus fell asleep in a boat with his disciples after a long day of parable-teaching. A fierce storm came upon them and the disciples feared they would capsize and so they woke Jesus up, saying “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” He wakes up and tells the wind, “Peace! Be still!” and the wind obeys. And then He asks his disciples, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” (Mark 4:35-41).

Why are we afraid, when we know that anything is possible through Christ? He has the power to calm the most ferocious storm, and I think we need to take a moment to ponder this, lean on this. We need to remember that our omnipotent Christ can calm any storm, physical or mental. Important since the real battle that many of us face day to day is not necessarily the virus itself, but the turmoil inside. If you are feeling any type of despair, anxiety or fear, take a moment or two or three to stop moving, stop scrolling, stop thinking. Simply pray for Jesus’ intercession, for the grace of serenity, strength and joy amidst all this upheaval. It is easily in His power to provide that strength you need, He is just waiting to be woken up and asked.

Regardless of the front lines you are facing, remember: Peace. Be still. Don’t be afraid.

Kaitlin Walsh is an independent artist specializing in abstract anatomy paintings.
She spends her time portraying the beauty and complexity of the human body
through her store, Lyon Road Art. Kaitlin lives happily in Bettendorf, Iowa with her
husband and three children. She is also a Morning Star parent.

Plumbers Who Love Milton

Kendra Thompson

When considering options for the kids’ schooling, I read Leigh Bortins’ The Core about the classical Christian education model and the homeschooling approach. I’ve appreciated it for a while now because the goal of classical Christian education involves more than fulfilling state-sanctioned objectives; the aim is to instill a love of lifelong learning. Bortins paints a picture of it this way – that the result would be the development of well-rounded professionals. Not just academic classics’ scholars but also “plumbers who love Milton.”

For families connected to Morning Star Academy, we’re all giving homeschooling a try these days. How we embrace this temporary “calling” varies, but it’s safe to say that we’re all trying something new. For us, the dining room became the classroom and at any given point papers, glue sticks, and crayons litter the previously formal space. The kitchen table seems a retreat – where mom hops on Zoom or where Google Classroom holds session as dad tackles dishes or mom preps dinner. With stay at home orders, our schedules are more fluid, we are often together. And since we’re together, we’re all learning.

Learning has spilled out over all our lives in this time and that’s what Bortins would want. Theoretical value has become actualized reality as we count money together and learn the story behind a language. Thanks to Mrs. Mercy’s engaging “Bobby’s Bedtime Stories,” we’re all Latin students. To quiz my son, I have to know the vocabulary myself. Andi, who is four, is joining in the fun too.

 I’m a mom and a minister. I busy my days caring for my kids and providing faith formation resources for other families, too. My Latin prowess is about as sharp as my kindergartner’s. But thanks to this time at home, I remember that “unda” means wave and my four-year-old will tell you that “cancer” is crab. These realities are woven into a story about our time here at home, too. A time when, let’s be honest; sometimes the stress undulates and we can all be a bit “crabby.”

I am aware that we are fortunate to have what we have; meaningful work we could transition to accomplishing from home, availability to be present to our children in ways that fill and nurture them, a topnotch school to streamline their learning in a time of extended distance.

All of these I count as blessings. What I didn’t anticipate is how much the togetherness would shape us. That my son would step away from an evening viewing Star Wars to help me with yardwork, just so we could be together. That my daughter might get a jumpstart on phonics, just because she’s daily within earshot of Mrs. Norton’s helpful reminders. I have yet to discern what my children will become in their professional futures. Frankly, I’m not too worried about it. But what I hope is that seeds are germinating now that continue to fill them with a deep love and curiosity for what they are learning.

Kendra Thompson is a children’s minister, a writer, a Morning Star parent and the school’s part-time director of communications. She and her husband, John, love that their kids’ faith is incorporated into their learning at Morning Star Academy.

Isolation and Easter Hope

Rob Spykstra

Today, many of us will be doing something for the first time ever . . . celebrating Easter alone. I don’t mean totally alone — I, like you, will have my immediate family — but yet isolated and away from my church family in whom I am connected by something deeper than blood . . . Christ’s blood.  


Loneliness, and the fear of being alone, is an inevitable reality of human existence. No one really knows me, not even my wife of 32 years. Poet Robert Hass writes,

 “. . . and one day, running at sunset, the woman says to the man, 

I woke up feeling so sad this morning because I realized

that you could not, so much as I love you,

dear heart, cure my loneliness.

Even the best and most intimate of relationships have their limits.


It is this loneliness that Jesus came to cure. He did so by becoming lonely for us. We hear His profound loneliness when on the cross He cries, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Answer? Our sins. Our sins created an unimaginable gulf between the Father and the Son. He became profoundly lonely to heal our loneliness and make possible again, intimacy with the Father.  

Today, Resurrection Sunday, we celebrate, “no longer alone; no longer isolated by my sin.”  The resurrection declares there is hope for all those who are isolated and alone. Christ’s resurrection erases “until death do you part” from all who are joined to him. The resurrection declares his offer of unwavering, eternal fidelity to all who trust in his work on the cross. 

Christ takes residence in our hearts. Paul anticipated that this might seem too good to be true so he writes, “Do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Cor. 13:5) The resurrection underscores his promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). 

So use today’s isolation, meditate on the separation, and celebrate the declaration of the resurrection that you are not alone and will never be alone.

“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” ~ Colossians 1:27    

Rob Spykstra has been part of the classical Christian movement for nearly twenty years, first as a homeschool dad, then as a fundraiser, and now as a headmaster. Rob is married to Tamra. They have four children, all classically trained. He serves as an elder at Sacred City Church. Tamra and Rob enjoy hiking and walking particularly in Rob’s home state of Colorado.

Certain Hope for Uncertain Times

Josh Seaberg

When I was first approached about writing for the Lenten series Jesus, Teach us How to Die, I was certain of how I would address the topic. I was heading to Peru on a medical mission trip over spring break, and what better opportunity is there to speak about dying to self and living the Gospel than medical missions? But as COVID-19 took over the world and cancelled not only international travel but also meetings of believers at home, this theme has taken on a different meaning. Each day we watch the death toll climb and see what we once thought as secure be exposed for the shoddy foundation that it is. Times like these challenge us to reevaluate our relationships with the world around us. How do we live a Gospel-centric life in the new normal of hand sanitizer and self-quarantine? How can we love our neighbors when we can’t even see them? How do we die to self when there are thousands dying physically in this pandemic?

Though our circumstances change, God’s word remains. We are called to daily take up our cross and follow Christ (Matthew 16:24), and Paul writes, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Furthermore, we are “ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Consequently, our response to uncertain times must reflect the certain hope that we have in the only true foundation, Jesus Christ.

Historically, times of insecurity and upheaval have been when the Church has spoken best. Augustine of Hippo composed The City of God in response to the Visigoth sacking of Rome in A.D. 410, which marked the first time the eternal city had been taken in nearly 800 years. Within it, he reminds believers that the Kingdom of God is not shaken by political and societal turmoil, but that it supersedes all human constructs and will ultimately triumph.

We can rest in this truth. Living hid with Christ today requires understanding the current pain while retaining an eternal perspective and recognizing that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well” (Julian of Norwich, A.D. 1373). Dying to self requires surrendering our fear of uncertainty for a whole-hearted trust in the Lord, the sustainer of our souls (Psalm 54:4). In doing so, we preach the Gospel to those around us and bring glory to His name.

In Lent we commemorate Christ’s life and death, and in Easter we celebrate his resurrection triumph over death through which we may have life in Him. His perfect sacrifice paid the price for our sin, and in response we live fully devoted to Him. Take time this week to contemplate how the Gospel changes everything and what it means to live hid with Christ in these troubled times. In doing so, we can better fulfill our call to reconcile the world to God.

Josh Seaberg graduated from MSA in 2014. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Oklahoma State University, and apparently didn’t hate it enough to prevent him from seeking his master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from OSU in May. In a bid to avoid real life for even longer, Josh is entering the MD/PhD program at the University of Oklahoma in June. He spends most of his time being in school, but in his free time enjoys playing pickup soccer and music for his church.

Quarantine Questions

Anna Carrington

I’ve been mulling the question at the end of Headmaster Rob Spykstra’s blog post: How is God using the virus to shape your soul? That question is a disruptive challenge. As Christians we can say, “we’ll grow through this” instead of chanting with everyone else “we’ll get through this.”

Last week, a Morning Star mom posted a list of questions on Facebook to ask yourself each day of quarantine. A couple of them were goal-oriented and reminders of necessary daily needs like exercise. But sprinkled in the list were several related to Rob’s question:

What am I grateful for today? What expectations of “normal” am I letting go of today? What beauty am I creating, cultivating, or inviting in today?

These kinds of questions don’t have yes or no answers. You cannot check a box for them while downing your third cup of coffee and checking if the glue is dry on a cut-and-paste worksheet. These are telos questions; inquiries about the ends toward which we are striving. Why are we here? What are we made for? To whom do we direct our loose sense of “gratitude”? Christians believe God created us in his image, for his purposes, in his place, and that he is making new things possible through this difficult season.

So here’s another quarantine question: What neighboring does quarantine make possible today?

I went for a walk with my neighbor in mid-afternoon, on Monday. She walked in the street, I took the sidewalk. We walked apart, together, in a big loop through the subdivision she’s called home for longer than I have. Many neighbors greeted us from their driveways and lawns, bouncing basketballs, scrawling with chalk, picking up branches and leaves. People were home.

More moments of possibility: Soup left on a nearby doorstep, its Pyrex container returned with cake inside. Text messages about cleaning wipes from an asthmatic neighbor. Swapping VHS tapes for a bag of beads. (Quarantine question #347: If I have a VCR does that disqualify me from being a millennial?) Playing piano with the blinds open, hearts posted in the front window.

Nurses and cashiers and doctors and custodians live with heightened awareness of exposure to coronavirus. Those of us huddled at home live with heightened awareness of disrupted routines and missed paychecks and whether relatives have the care they need. These are all real concerns, and God sees them.

When our instinct is to focus “inside” on our family’s schedule or daily checklist, may God give us eyes to see who is just beyond our front doors. In the time of coronavirus, these neighbors are home. Maybe we can negotiate, mid-stride, who will take the sidewalk and who will take the street.

Anna Carrington is a graduate of Wheaton College (IL), a freelance editor, and an avid reader. She teaches children’s Sunday School and Bible studies for women who speak English as a second (or third) language at Christ Church in Moline. Anna and her husband Wes have two sons at Morning Star.

Dad Church in the Age of the Virus

John Thompson

“Dying in Lent” has surely taken on a whole new meaning now that we are in the virus times. One thing we’re all dealing with is dying to church—at least the kind of church we’re used to where you get up on Sunday morning and haul yourself and family off to a brick & mortar worship service. Watching the sermon and communion prayers (etc.) this last Sunday online in the kitchen had its conveniences (such as scarfing waffles during the opening hymn), but it is not the same, and, of course, not what is intended.

Virus times brings many challenges, and many opportunities. One thing we do at our house when it is inadvisable to attend church in person (e.g. when kids are sick) is what the kids call “Dad-church.” We’ll be doing a lot of Dad-church for the foreseeable future apparently—along with our online corporate, not-so-corporate services. So what is Dad-church? It’s pretty simple really (and doesn’t require a PhD in liturgics or anything). We do have a basic formula:

  1. Open with the sign of the cross and prayer (radical idea, I know)
  2. Dad tells a story or explains some theological idea in 5 minutes or less, quoting scripture if possible.
  3. Question time. Kids ask questions about the story (this tends to be the preferred, and longest, portion of the thing.) A recurring favorite (despite the topic) goes something like this—Question, Andi: “Why should you not mess with God?” Answer, Joe: “because he can kill you!” Somehow Elisha and the bears just won’t go away despite my repeated attempts at “God is love! God is love!”
  4. They repeat the concept or story back to me. This can get interesting, and on occasion worse than a game of ‘telephone’ (likely reflecting my limitations in the realm of children’s ministry). I once taught the story of Jesus’ frustration with his disciples when they turned the children away (Matt 19:13-15). The story I got back was that Jesus hates children (Joe has a way with hyperbole, for effect). We figured it out though.
  5. The treat! Yes, it’s Sunday morning—a bit early for the sugar train, but I like to stack the deck in my favor.

There you have it. And if you’re wondering about the prep for this kind of thing, it’s easy. When we stay grounded in the Word, then the words are available when we need them to fulfill our God-given call to teach our children. Proverbs 22:6 states “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” And fathers in particular are called to bring up children “…in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4).

We’ve had a lot of fun and hopefully a modicum of learning with Dad-church. Of course, there are many methods and practices one can engage in to properly educate our children. I wonder what new (or old) rituals or other activities you and your family are doing these days…

John Thompson is a seminary graduate and associate professor in the school of social work at St. Ambrose University. His teaching and research focus on social and economic justice from a biblical Christian perspective. He and his wife Kendra are the parents of two Morning Star Mustangs. Joe who is 6 and Andi, almost 4. 

Don’t Waste the Virus

Rob Spykstra

If there’s one title that has stuck with me and given me pause for nearly a decade it is pastor-theologian, John Piper’s, Don’t Waste Your Cancer. The book was an expansion of an article he wrote on the eve of his prostate cancer surgery. The phrasing expresses a rock-solid belief that God is in control of every event for soul-shaping purposes. 

In light of that title, I’m challenging myself to consider what soul-shaping purposes God has for me in this unique moment in history. Here are a few of my musings. 

This virus is causing me to . . .   

1.  Sacrificially serve my neighbor

Denying myself the pleasures of gathering — even good, godly gatherings like corporate worship — serves my vulnerable neighbor. Who would have thought that not corporately worshiping would be a way to love my neighbor? Or, consider this. Who would have thought that knocking on my neighbor’s door and asking, “Do you need any toilet paper?” could be a missional activity. 

2.  Quietly reflect on my soul’s idols

I’ve had revelatory, cold-sweat moments of anxiety. I had no idea how much I’ve come to rely on 392 Coffee; or how much I trust my bank account. My anxiety has that ridiculous range. This virus gives opportunity to see into the soul. 

3.  Appreciate the moment

Initially, solid information had a two to three day shelf life. Then it was 24 hours. Then it was six hours. Now it is two hours or less. This virus is causing me to measure life by the moment; basking in that reality and enjoying those I am with and what I am doing right now. 

4.  Read the Psalms

The Psalms were given for this moment. While I haven’t plumbed the depths of anguish or terror like David in Psalm 55, I’m closer. His words are more real. His answers are more solid.

5.  Rest in God’s character

When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants . . . ” (Psalm 75:3a) 

It really feels like my world is tottering. Good news . . . 

“It is I who keep steady its pillars.” (Psalm 75:3b)

Watching the stock market plunge feels much like the second half of Psalm 46:2, 

“though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.” 

Yet, the psalmist writes, “We will not fear.” 

Why not? 

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). 

These are five, soul-shaping purposes God has shown me in this unique time. How is God using the virus to shape your soul?

Rob Spykstra has been part of the classical Christian movement for nearly twenty years, first as a homeschool dad, then as a fundraiser, and now as a headmaster. Rob is married to Tamra. They have four children, all classically trained. He serves as an elder at Sacred City Church. Tamra and Rob enjoy hiking and walking, particularly in Rob’s home state of Colorado.

The Winding Road

Joanie Mercy

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Roads are interesting.  They lead towards somewhere and away from somewhere at the same time, creating a direct route or a meandering one.  Have you ever had a road follow you?   I did. My road started following me back in college.

I had my road map all figured out – studying music performance.   My professors advised me against it, suggesting music education instead.  Music education?  That would involve teaching – in a classroom – with kids.  I didn’t dislike children, but I wasn’t drawn to teaching them en masse.  I figured I’d become a tutor. I taught private lessons and occasionally conducted master classes from behind a podium, waving my baton.  But conducting a large group of young musicians required little verbal interaction.  I was safe.  No veering off the road for me.

I soon discovered private tutoring didn’t pay the bills.  I needed additional work, so I worked any job that was available: waitress, receptionist, box-folder, secretary, accountant.  Between all of my assorted jobs, I often worked 70 hours a week.  I was happiest when I was teaching.  I was tired of working so much and wondered if the classroom wouldn’t be so bad.  But I also knew I’d need additional education.  The road I was on was starting to feel like driving back and forth on I-70 through Kansas – no offense to Kansans.

I taught adjunct at a couple of colleges, but only for a handful of hours each week.  I went back to grad school for performance.  My rationale was that I would take classes for a couple of years, get a Master’s degree, and with luck, get a full-time position in a college. I battered myself with hours of practice and writing papers.  I eventually acquired not a degree, but a painful performance injury.  I’m ashamed to say that that entire time, I never let God sit in the driver’s seat.  I try and imagine what he was thinking; watching me drive in circles and curly-q’s all those years.  He had a road laid out for me, but I avoided it like the plague.

A few years later, I was married and had a daughter.  I was still tutoring, playing in symphonies, and working full-time.  I watched friends thriving in their careers, happily chattering about their work.  My teacher friends were especially chatty.   I felt resentful that I hadn’t listened to my professors and studied music education.  In my late thirties, I became very sick.  I had an immune system disorder and suffered for three years before having a surgery that left me temporarily disabled for nine months.  I couldn’t work and the FMLA at my job ran out.  I was on unemployment for two years.  I put in applications for every available job, and was hired for none.  I was truly worried.  My “road” was not merely blocked, it was gone.  I grudgingly decided to sub in the public schools.  It would be sporadic, but it would be work – and it wasn’t as bad as I envisioned.  Actually, the kids were not usually a problem – unless they set firecrackers off in the classroom (no joke, it really happened.)  I still taught private lessons, but I could no longer perform as I once did.

The years I was on unemployment were hard.  Teaching became increasingly enjoyable. “Okay, Lord,” I thought, “maybe I can teach in the classroom.  Is this what you were trying to say?” I was facing the one road that I had avoided for two decades. It took a miracle to pick me up, set me on the way, and gently nudge me forward.  That nudge came from Casey Schutt and Cheryl Headley seven years ago.  God was abundantly merciful and kind.  Taking my hands off of the wheel and going where He knew I should go turned into a blessed, joyous adventure!  My first few years at Morning Star were a challenge.  I weekly (daily?) sought Mrs. Headley’s advice, and was constantly tweaking and revising lesson plans. The Morning Star community was always so graceful, so loving and helpful that in time, I felt that I had arrived “home.”  My students and I learn more together each day.  I would not do anything else in the world.  And, I praise God daily for his perseverance and grace in leading me here.

Joanie Mercy and her husband, Frank Drew, are both musicians. Their daughter Angelique is in 7th grade at Morning Star Academy. Mrs. Mercy graduated form Augustana College, attended University of Iowa College of Music, and formerly performed in regional orchestras including the Quad-City Symphony, Knox-Galesburg Symphony, Muscatine Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra. Mrs. Mercy teaches K-6 Latin and K-8 Music at Morning Star Academy and also conducts the MSA String Ensemble. She currently has 15 private students.

Jesus Teach Us How to Die

David McIntosh

Art Linkletter introduced us to the colloquialism, “Kids say the darndest things.” Most parents have stories of times and places which mark the truthfulness of this observation. The wildest things spoken at the worst possible time produce fertile soil for a lifetime of laughs and gasps. Mr. Linkletter reminded us that children have a unique understanding of life. They are unencumbered by the social rules that age posits on a life – and we laugh at their innocence and naivety.

            Imagine with me the unspoken response to Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:24-25 when he says to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” I wonder if the disciples had the same response some parents have when their children say one of those “darndest things.”  Jesus begins this teaching moment with an eye to those who were trying to follow Him.  It quickly changed into a statement suggesting life comes from death. The cross in verse 24 is clearly the Roman executioners chosen method of death. But then Jesus clears up any leftover murkiness with a bold statement that whoever wants life will have to lose it.

            Here’s the truth that Christ-followers have to wrestle with: are we willing to die to ourselves in order to find true life in Christ? Although every individual situation is different, I am convinced that there has to be a time in our life where we die to ourselves. This is one of the conundrums of scripture – life coming from death.

            For me, death was on Highway 68 north of Greensboro, North Carolina. For several years I worked hard to advance in my career with a national wholesale distributor. Things were looking up in my professional life but I couldn’t shake the feeling that God was calling me to pastor. The objections I rehearsed to God in my prayers were: but I’ll have a reduced paycheck, this will take me away from family, and Lord, I don’t have the proper training. But the persistent and consistent call of God wore me down and I had to die to myself right there. In the car. On the way home from work.

            What if this theme, Jesus teach us how to die, became the cry of our hearts? It might change up how we interact with those around us; requiring us to surrender self daily to this end. My children attended Morning Star Academy which put a great emphasis on this personal interaction with the deep theological truths of scripture. They routinely used a formal question and response founded on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Even if you are unfamiliar with the responsiveness of this, there is great benefit in committing to daily asking for wisdom in how to die. At first it might feel weird to say “Jesus teach us how to die”, but this is the catalyst to true life. When we grasp this truth, we won’t regret it.

Dave and family moved to Muscatine in 2012 to serve at Hillcrest. He has been a pastor since 2005 and enjoys telling about how God led his family into the ministry. He grew up as a PK (Pastor’s Kid) and moved several times as a child. It was during these years that he settled on the one thing he wouldn’t do with his life- become a pastor. However, God had different plans. Dave met his college sweetheart during their freshman year and after graduation, Dave and Susie married and began working in the wholesale supply industry. They also welcomed Will and Lauren into their family. During 2004, God called Dave and his family to the ministry. He comes to Muscatine via a great church in rural Jones County Iowa. Pastor Dave’s greatest desire is to see lives impacted by The Truth.