Today I enjoyed walking into and next to many classrooms, and it was refreshing to hear so many children learning, contributing, and some grappling with new ideas. I also saw some “new things,” in keeping with our theme this year – new lives, as chickens are hatching, new Chromebooks and mini iPads being configured for use, and a newly discovered constellation in 4th grade today, the “Gill-axy.” God allows me to see so many blessings that it reminds me how He is so, so, so good! He has done many great and mighty things on campus this year that I keep hearing parents and students say the words, “This is the best year ever.”
What God has also shown me is that our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking to devour, to pounce upon, and to destroy every good and perfect gift that God has given us at SJCA (1 Peter 5:8). The enemy is keenly aware that we are doing mighty things in these classrooms to grow God’s kingdom through you and your students. Look at what Paul says about evil in the midst of believers: And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)
 
It is no accident when we start to see spiritual gains and success where it has not thrived before that the devil and his angels will work overtime to defeat us. Gossip, slander, destructive and divisive talk – yes, friends, all seep in to believers’ lives from the pit of hell! The Word warns us all (1 Peter 5:8) to be sober and vigilant (in other words focused, on the lookout).  Beloved ones, we must maintain our closeness to God and strengthen and “make every effort to keep  the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”(Ephesians 4:3). In reading from the Word today, Jesus’ words in Luke about light shining to reveal “hidden” things (agendas, motives, ambition, vain conceit) and how it can affect the way we listen and speak were so filled with truth – well, it was overwhelming. Luke 8:17-18 say it so well:
17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”
 
I am praying that we will be agents of light, speaking truth in a darkness-plagued world. I have been praying diligently for God’s light to shine in every dark place, even at the expense of self-comfort, so that HIS school will prosper, and that any device of man will be known, revealed, and placed out in the open. If you see evil and darkness, or hear it, then I exhort you as leaders to expose it, rebuke it, confront it with the power of God’s Word and the mighty Holy Spirit. And above all else, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23), for from it flows your true self. Remember that we do not wrestle against mortal flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12); we are in a war with the prince of the power of the air.
Finally, Ephesians 4:29-32 should be ingrained in our minds and hearts:
(1) Do not let ANY unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but
(2) only what is helpful for building others up
(3) according to their needs,
(4) that it may benefit those who listen.  
(5) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
(6) Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
(7) Be kind and  
(8) compassionate to one another,
(9) forgiving each other,
(10) just as in the same way in Christ God forgave you.
 
Lest you think we are to go about in worry and fear, look at some of the most encouraging words Jesus ever uttered in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!!!” The Greek does not have an exclamation point, but for me there is a huge trio of them at the end of that sentence!
 
I have spent much time in prayer for God’s work here at SJCA, for the wonderful Spirit-filled teachers, and for the many good and helpful parents who also spend time on their knees for us.
Lord God, I pray in the power and strength and authority of Jesus’ Name, the Name above every Name, that evil will flee this place, that YOUR light will expose every darkness, and that you will forgive our sins, show us when, where, and how to turn from our wicked ways, and to bring you all honor and glory and power and wisdom and strength. We love you, Lord.
 
Guide us with your unfailing love and grace,
Amen.
  
May the God of the peace that passes all understanding guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus our Lord,
 
Randy L. Down
Superintendent
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