Barrabus: a new perspective on my life

Last night, I went on Youtube and watched videos of reactions to people’s prison sentences. I watched people’s reactions to having a life sentence or being on death row. This isn’t what I usually watch but for some reason, I was drawn to this. As I learned about their crimes, the judgement and their reactions, something stirred inside me. On one hand, I felt anger, hatred and a sense of righteousness. After all, they deserved what they got. I felt angry because they could cry over their own life, but they obviously didn’t hold their victim’s life with the same value..

But as I watched someone, who was told he faced death row, something whispered in my ear; “Jesus died for you.” It was bizarre and heartfelt at the same time. These murderers; who laughed when the judge read out his crimes, who were angry at their sentence as if they did not deserve to die, who looked back once more at the camera before being led away by the police; these were the people Jesus had laid his life for even though they did not deserve it.  

Deserve. That word came up many times in my mind, in the judges’ mouths and in the comments below. These monsters deserved what they got. They didn’t deserve to live. They didn’t deserve to ever be let out of prison. Deserve.

But don’t we all deserve this punishment?

Jesus came to this earth to save sinners through his death and resurrection. We are all sinners. No matter how many good acts we perform, no matter how clean our record may be, but in the eyes of God, we are sinners, we fall short of his righteousness. Since the punishment for sin is death, we deserve to die.

It was hard to get my head around that these murderers and I both deserved to die but this was the revelation I had while I watched these videos.

What was even more incredible, was that for the first time, I gave thought to the murderer who was let go by Pilate and at the request of the Jews. I had never cared much about this detail but suddenly, it was significant to my life. Jesus took the place of Barrabas and died in his place. He did the same for you and me.

If I wasn’t already convicted of self righteousness, God gave me another verse. It was when Jesus gave his sermon on a mountain and explained the ten commandments in more depths, so that the Jews would learn that the law was impossible to follow by their own will or might.

Jesus told them that anger, in the eyes of God, is the same as murder. Just like how murder is subject to judgement, so too is being angry with someone. We must go so far as to hold our tongues from calling someone stupid or a fool (Mathew 5:21-26, NIV).

The ones who, by human law, are good citizens, and the ones who, by the same law, are in jail or on death row, are all sinners in God’s eyes. Jesus died for the whole world, not for the people who deserved everlasting life. In fact, none of us falls in that category.

We fall short of God’s holiness, righteousness, and standards. We can not hope to obey the law if we do not find grace in Jesus.

After watching these videos, I watched a lighter video-a cat in a shark costume on a roomba, chasing a duck-because I didn’t want to go to sleep with these dark thoughts. But after this, I prayed a heartfelt prayer to God. I thanked God that, exactly like Barrabas, Jesus took my place at the cross and he died for my sins, so that I may be forgiven. For it is only by God’s grace that I can be righteous in His eyes.

17 things you should know about the NZ treaty

In today’s blog post, I talk about 17 facts that I think every kiwi should know about the Treaty of Waitangi. I also relate this to God and biblical themes of, “Justice, Covenants and reconciliation”.

  1. The Treaty of Waitangi was created in 1840 by Governor William Hobson. The Treaty was first signed on February 6th 1840The British Crown wanted sovereignty over New Zealand but Maori thought they were allowing British government to rule while keeping Maori sovereignty. (New Zealand & State Services Commission, 2006)
  2. Henry Williams was the translator. For the word, “Sovereignty”, he used the word, “Kawanatanga”, which can be transliterated as, “Government”. But this word was created for the purpose of translating, “sovereignty” into Maori. (“treaty-kawharu-footnotes.pdf,” n.d.)
  3. Pakeha saw land as a product that people used to sell and buy. The Crown stripped away a lot of land from Maori and Maori sold land at an unethically low price.
  4. The third article of the treaty states that Maori can be treated as British subjects. (New Zealand & State Services Commission, 2006). Although this was a better translation from the first two articles, there were subtle differences. The Pakeha thought that in order for the Maori people to be thought of as British citizens, they needed to learn the Pakeha culture.
  5. Maori children went to school with Pakeha children but weren’t allowed to speak in Maori. Today, Maori and non-Maori children learn Te Reo.
  6. If this treaty was a contract between Britain and New Zealand, then it would be long voided because the Crown have broken the treaty many times through creating laws that only benefited Pakeha and government. Since the treaty is still valid today, it is only logical for New Zealanders and the government to think of the Treaty as a covenant.
  7. This covenant was everlasting which leads me to believe that God had a hand in the Treaty of Waitangi. There must be a reason for the Treaty for God’s plan and purposes despite all the pain and suffering that British sovereignty and colonisation has caused for Maori. A covenant is always made in the presence of God.
  8. God created covenants to establish his mana and create relationships with people. Similarly, the Treaty of Waitangi was a symbol for the Maori that they were one people with the British. They established a relationship with the Pakeha and the Queen of Britain.
  9. The Waitangi Tribunal was set up to listen to Maori claims, complaints and redress all the way from 1840. This is not only because of the Treaty, but because of God’s work in giving justice to Maori.
  10. Britain wanted to create this treaty. They could’ve claimed the land through war but they wanted to be peaceful and had the intentions of making a good difference to Maori lives. (New Zealand & State Services Commission, 2006)They didn’t want to make the same mistakes as with the natives in Australia and USA. This is God’s hand of justice over New Zealand Maori. The reason why it didn’t work out like this was because of the clash of worldview, culture shock and corrupt people that were placed in a position of power and authority. The government was able to pass laws that made unethical acts legal. (Smithies, 1990)
  11. The Waitangi Tribunal was built in 1975 to address Maori grievances and redress from past exploitation of Maori. Although there are many iwi who still haven’t been settled, there have been many resolved claims. This is God giving his people justice and reconciliation which in turn gives the Maori people, a new outlook on life and a way forward.
  12. Over the past several years, Pakeha from Britain have apologised and reconciled with Maori for the past actions of their ancestors. This reconciliation is still happening today and will continue to happen until there is complete renewal and healing. New Zealand certainly has had God’s hand in its history because God enables us to forgive and reconcile with each other. When we do this, we are able to break the ley lines over New Zealand and renew the land.
  13. Today, New Zealand works to honour the Treaty by creating laws based on Treaty’s underlying principles. These are  called the “Three P’s”: Participation, Protection and partnership. (“Principles of the Treaty | Waitangi Tribunal,” n.d.)
  14. Te reo language has also become maori taonga and the centre of their culture. More people are learning the Maori language and children are learning this language in school.
  15. Teachers abide by the Tataiako which are a series of bicultural values/competencies. These values such as Ako and Manaakitanga, are crucial in helping Maori learners feel validated in their own culture, and learn as Maori learners (New Zealand, Ministry of Education, & Education Council New Zealand, 2016)
  16. In the past, there have been unequal partnership between pakeha and maori. However, there needs to be equal partnership in order for there to be participation. “The Justice Project” (McLaren, Padilla, & Seeber, 2009)talks about Native Americans but this can be applied to the natives in New Zealand. Just like how Jesus sat with the unclean and treated them like his equals (Mathew 9:10-11), so too does Pakeha and Maori need to both sit at the table in equal partnership and listen to what Maori have to say. (McLaren et al., 2009)
  17. Many Maoris want to do away with the treaty because of the injustice done to them. However, God has turned around this badly translated covenant, and made it work for their good. Now, all across New Zealand, God is working with his people (Maori and non maori) to re-build trust, to re-learn what the three P’s (Protection, Partnership and participation), looks like in action, restore the land and give justice and reconciliation to the Maoris.

There are more things to learn about the Treaty but these are the top 17 facts that every kiwi must know.

 

Bibliography:

McLaren, B. D., Padilla, E., & Seeber, A. B. (Eds.). (2009). The justice project. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books.

New Zealand, Ministry of Education, & Education Council New Zealand. (2016). Tātaiako: cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners.Retrieved from https://www.educationcouncil.org.nz/sites/default/files/Tataiako.pdf

New Zealand, & State Services Commission. (2006). The Treaty of Waitangi.Wellington, N.Z.: State Services Commission.

Principles of the Treaty | Waitangi Tribunal. (n.d.). Retrieved September 12, 2018, from https://www.waitangitribunal.govt.nz/treaty-of-waitangi/principles-of-the-treaty/

Smithies, R. (1990). Ten steps towards bicultural action: a handbook on partnership in Aotearoa-New Zealand. Wellington, N.Z: Catholic Commission for Justice, Peace and Development, Aotearoa-New Zealand.

treaty-kawharu-footnotes.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nzhistory.govt.nz/files/documents/treaty-kawharu-footnotes.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

In my weakness

Lord, I am so useless. I’m not good at anything.

I thought I was a helpful person but I only make things worse.

Turn my idle hands into usefulness for your glory and movement.

But I have no skills, gifts or experiences.

I am useless.

I can’t do anything.

And yet, here I am, called by You to do greater than what I alone could achieve.

Because you see me differently than others.

You see what I could do, not based on my merits and strengths,

but based on YOUR goodness, YOUR merits,

YOUR faithfulness and OUR relationship.

It is based on your hopeful and prosperous plans for my future.

Thank you,

for the greatest gift I have is being your daughter.

Thank you,

for in you, I am capable.

For in you,

I find my strength,

It is the strength that carries me over the waters,

and what I once couldn’t do, I can do because You give me success in everything.

 

 

Keep writing and don’t stop

hi everyone,

So I’m not really someone who’s made it to “the big times” or anything like that. I’ve been working on this story on and off. At the moment, I’m at a pretty consistent, “on” with the story. There have been many things that pulled me through blocks and hurdles, self doubts and the feeling of not knowing what to do.

So, this is something that I’d like to share because it’s a great reminder for me;

“You can try to write the perfect book for as long as you want. But at the end of the day, no one cares about the almost perfect book that never got published. Write your own story and know that you are good enough the way God made you.” 
-Rabbit, Wattpad

I thought it was appropriate to still write, “Rabbit, Wattpad”, since my username is “Rabbit_and_the_Duck” and I first started writing this particular draft on Wattpad. I am now currently editing which has been exciting and challenging at the same time.

I’m starting to see why people say things like:

  • I would get up early in the morning and write because I wanted to know what I was going to find out
  • Editing is like killing your darling and then slowly bringing it back to life
  • A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult that it is for other people.

I feel these things and more.

Even though I’m still editing this story, I thought it’d be a good time to remind you (and myself) to not live as perfectionists but as people who are artists-we make mistakes and we know which ones to keep, to learn from and create a masterpiece.

Psalm: Where I fall short

This psalm is more of an afternoon prayer but I think you can use this in the morning as well.

 

Lord,

I don’t always pray every night,

I don’t always pray everyday

worse still,

I didn’t go to church today

I can’t wield the bible like a sword,

I even fall short of my own expectations of how a christian should act,

and what a teacher should be like,

 

I rejoice in the Lord,

you made me as I am

no mistakes in your precious handiwork

You love me regardless of what I can and can’t do,

and it is because of the solus of your love,

I can love you back.

 

Jesus,

You are my lord forever,

Jesus,

You are my king who reigns,

Jesus,

Jesus,

Jesus,

Hallelujah and Amen.

 

A/N:

This prayer is short but a little wordy. I would say that it could still be used in the morning, maybe in the later morning or while showering. That is, unless you’re one of those people who are actually awake as soon as your eyes open.

Another thing to note is that this is a personal psalm, hence why there are things that might not relate to you. For example, “What a teacher should look like”, comes from my failures as a leader over children. I noticed that I was controlling and cold. I wasn’t the warm, laid back teacher I thought I was. Instead, I wanted everything perfect and I was greatly disappointed when it didn’t work out like that.

So feel free to customise this psalm if you’re using this as a prayer. What are times when you’ve fallen short of your own expectations?

Something to take away from this psalm, know that when you let yourself down, God still loves you no matter what. Because God loves you (and it is in his love ALONE), that is why we can love him back. He is the reason why we can forgive others and ourselves.

I got inspiration for the second stanza from two scriptures; (paraphrase)

Ephesians 2:10-We are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do Good Works.

Philippians 4:4- Always rejoice because of God.

Have a blessed day 🙂

Why primary teachers needs to know year 10 maths

This post isn’t primarily about the question in the title but it does relate a little bit to it. Although there’s a low entry level for people to study Bachelor of education, to become primary teachers, it’s actually really important that they are at least achieving at Year 10 maths.

Why do primary teachers need year 10 maths level skill? They’re teaching way below that level. But primary teachers’ maths skills can’t be at the same level or lower than the students that they’re teaching. Studies suggest that low belief in maths skills and also low maths skills, affects the students’ and their beliefs and who’s good at maths and who’s not.

The article, “Female Maths anxiety affects girls’ Maths achievement”, describes how the female teachers’ thinking and level of skill in Maths, affects and greatly influence how their female students think and perceive Maths. This resonates deeply with me because I was never strong at Maths, thinking of this subject like leftover rice; you can eat it but eventually, it would become inedible and thrown out.

My abilities and how I approach Maths affects and influences my student’s own attitudes and beliefs on Maths. The article uses statistics of an entry class in the united states, of which about 90% of teachers were female. At the end of the year, the girls who believed in the stereotype that boys are better at Maths than girls, scored less than everyone else. This result showed that female teachers’ own anxiety in Maths influenced girls more than boys. However, I believe that my Maths anxiety can also lead into Teaching Anxiety which in turn, affects the attitudes and learning of both boys and girls.  

Anyone can learn Maths at any age and to the level that they want. The Youtube video, “IM2 MATH Boosting Math BOALER (“Boosting Maths”) talks about a growth mindset and how anyone can learn Maths to the level that they want. This requires a lot of scaffolding and intrinsic motivation. I believe this lack of intrinsic motivation is due in part to the influencing factors of the students such as the attitudes and mindset of the teacher. This is something I need to be conscientious of when I am on practicum and when I enter the workforce, so that I can be a positive Maths role model.  

A year ago, when I was in the process of enrolling in Laidlaw College. I had to go to my aunty because she was also my accountant.  

When I told her I wanted to be a primary teacher, she replied with this;

“You’ll never be a teacher because you’re not good at maths.” (more about this in the link).

Her response made me realise something critical. There are many students in school who are struggling with Maths. However, this does not mean that they cannot later on study to become engineers or physicians. Perhaps I could help these students reach their full math potential, through learning from mistakes, so that their Maths level would not limit their university and career options. My beliefs are confirmed by the Boosting Maths Video that talks about the brain’s plasticity and how we grow through making and recognising our mistakes.

I did not have a great mathematical start in life, but I can still learn the skills I need to become a proficient teacher. The article, “Stewards of the Created Order”, states that, “…faith helps us makes connections between truth and applicability.” I connect this with the verse, “”My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV). God gives me the strength where I lack, so that I can continue to grow my knowledge and teach others in a way that honors and glorifies God. Through God’s will and love for me, I can connect the truth the Gospel in practcal ways when learning and teaching Mathematics.

You may have guessed by now that I’m a bit hypocritical to say that teachers needs atleast year 10 maths skills, when I myself do not have this. However, that’s the beauty of being life long leaners and having a growth mindset. These two things means that what I didn’t learn before, I can learn now. As long as I have the purpose and the determination, I can achieve in maths at the level that I need to be at in order to show my students that maths can be fun, maths can be understood and most of all, anyone can do maths. I will shamelessly tell them, “If I can do it, so can you.”

It is like walking on water. You need to forget about the wind, the waves, the rational part of your mind saying, “This is impossible”, and never lose sight of Jesus, the one who can take you to the impossible and turn it into, “I’m possible”.

 

Psalm: Help

Another Psalm for the morning, brought to you every Saturday morning at 7am (NZT time). 

Thank you Lord for this day

Help me throughout the day

I fall short

Help me faith jump, bridge gaps,

keep my eyes on you while I walk on water.

doesn’t matter,

the waves, the wind, the irrational,

I go to you and in the solus of your salvation, love, kindness and help, I’m safe.

For where I’m weak, you’re strong.

 

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

 

Note from the author:

I wanted to write in short chunks hence why there’s a sort of listing or bullet point feel to the poem. Why? Because for a morning prayer, it’s pretty long but the good news is, it doesn’t have long sentences or words or unnecessary conjectures.

Solus, means “alone” i.e. We are saved in Christ alone and in his death and resurrection, and nothing else brings us salvation.

This psalm hopefully conjures up a picture in your mind of Peter walking on water towards Jesus. He steps out of the boat, hits the water but doesn’t sink, and continues to walk. Now imagine, it’s not Peter on the water, but it’s YOU.

You’re taking that step out of the boat and you’re walking to Jesus. Keep your eyes on him so that the waves, wind and your rational brain telling you that what you’re doing now is illogical, are SILENCED. So that in the solus of Jesus, there, you find help and that you can do impossible things.

I hope whenever you pray this psalm, you’ll be excited for the day ahead.

Bonus prayer:

IF you wake up and you’re extremely tired, then this is another prayer you could use which says the same thing as the one above:

Lord, Help me walk on water, Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Have a blessed, water-walking day 🙂