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Glen Schultz

Education Must Accomplish This Goal

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education essentials 2We have been looking at one of four key essentials of education.  This essential is the importance of discovering God’s call.  I explained in recent blogs how there are two calls that God sends out to all people.  The first call is a call to a “person” while the second is a call to a “purpose”.  The second call is dependent on a person answering God’s first call on his/her life.

God sends out a universal call to everyone.  This is a call to life — a call to follow Christ.  Anyone who answers this call can then receive God’s particular call — a call to work.

In this post, I want to explain the role education plays in guiding our children and youth to discover God’s call on their lives.  We know that salvation is by grace alone though faith in Christ Jesus.  However, once saved, Paul makes it clear that God saves a person for a purpose.  We are saved by grace and then become God’s workmanship, called to do good works.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV)

Since God calls all men to Himself and has a purpose for everyone, education must focus on doing everything possible for every child to discover God’s call on his/her life.  This is essential to a good education.

Most people agree that education is a process that is aimed at preparing our children for something.  Many Christians, like their non-Christian counterparts, view schooling as preparing their children for more schooling.  They have the eventual goal of seeing their children get good jobs.  But that is the main preparation they see education is all about.  They simply want their children to get a good education in order to get into a good college so that they will eventually be successful and have a good job.  This is the average person’s view of how education prepares a child for the future.

Futurist Alvin Toffler once wrote,

All education springs from some image of the future.  If the image of the future held by society is inaccurate, its educational system will betray its youth.

His belief was that education prepares students for whatever future society envisions.  In Toffler’s case, he saw a future that was going to be dominated by technology.  Therefore, he stressed that education must prepare students to live in a high-tech world.

If education is to prepare our children and youth for the future and since God has a purpose for every child, then education must prepare him/her for that purpose.  This is preparing our children for the real future.  It means that education must have a major focus on leading every child to discover God’s call/purpose for his/her life.

We can deduce from this that the real challenge for the first 18 years of a child’s life is to help the child find his/her calling.  Therefore, the education provided our children must have that as one of its key essentials.  It is important not to think of education as a means by which a child finds “success” in life.  Rather the emphasis must be on the child living a “fulfilled” life.  Living this kind of life is determined by whether or not each child’s life is centered on his/her calling.

Success in education cannot and must not be confined or defined by mere academic achievement.  Kevin Swanson clearly articulates this point when he wrote,

A successful eduction is achieved when a child is prepared to make maximal use of his God-given talents and abilities in accomplishment of the child’s calling.

This means that the capstone of education is found in the implementation of a child’s calling.  One might ask, how can one find out what a child’s calling is?  Tim Keller writes that one of the best ways for someone to discover his/her calling is to learn how God created him/her.  God’s call will always be in line with God’s design.

We see this essential of education in Paul’s letter to the Romans.  In the twelfth chapter Paul writes about God’s will godswillfor a person’s life.  We are always teaching our children that they are uniquely created and that God has a perfect will for their lives.  In fact, it is often told to our children that the best place to be is in the center of God’s will.

It is important to understand that God’s will and God’s call are closely related.  I believe that they are synonymous with one another.  It could be put this way.  God’s will is the fulfillment of God’s call.  With this in mind, let’s look at Romans 12.  God commands His children not to be conformed to the world.  Instead, God wants us to be transformed. This can only take place through the process of “renewing” one’s mind.

Education conforms one’s mind to either a secular or a biblical worldview.  So the education we give our children must ensure that our children’s minds are being renewed and conformed to a biblical worldview.  But why does God command us to renew our minds?  He tells us the purpose behind this command at the end of verse two.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of GodRomans 12:2 (KJV)

It is an essential part of any education for students’ minds to be renewed and aligned with a biblical worldview so that they can know God’s will.  Then they will have Discovered God’s Call!

  1. Is the schooling we are giving our children simply preparing them for more schooling?
  2. Are we educating our children so they know how God created them?
  3. Are our children coming to a basic understanding of God’s universal call on their lives to know and follow Christ at as early an age as possible?
  4. Does the education we are giving our children lead them to a basic understanding of God’s call to a purpose for their lives by the time they reach the teen years?

If we cannot answer these questions correctly, we are not giving our children a good education.  It is essential that the education we give our children leads them to know God and discover God’s call!

Answering God’s Call

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Is Vocation A Calling From God?

Everyone wants to find significance for his/her life.  Why am I here?  This the question that begs an answer within the soul of every human being.  Not finding the right answer to this one question leads to despair, discouragement and a sense of hopelessness.

James McMenis, Pastor of Word of God Ministries, recently said that everyone is called to a person and then he is called to a purpose.  He went on to explain that each and every person is a purpose with a name.  Even though this is a reality, it doesn’t mean that everyone knows his purpose or call in life.

I recently read an account of someone asking a group of young Filipinos why they decided to follow the evil dictates of Maoism.  What did they find so attractive in this worldview that would cause them to chase after a philosophy of life that was so empty and had caused pain and suffering to so many people?  Their answer reveals the need man has to find a purpose for one’s existence.  They turned to Maoism because they were searching for:

  • a unified and coherent view of reality
  • something to work, live and die for
  • a sense of community
  • a mission that brings hope to the hopeless

In order to find true meaning and significance in life, one must know and follow God’s call on his/her life.  Last week I shared about God’s general call that He gives to every person.  This call was referred to as a call to life — the call to come to and follow after Christ.  It is a call that impacts every area of a person’s life.  If one does not respond to this call, he can never discover God’s particular call on his life.

This particular call can be referred to as a call to vocation — a call to work.  It is important that we distinguish between these two calls that God has for individuals.  They are related to one another but there are some things that make them different from one another at the same time.

God's Call editedMy son-in-law is a military chaplain.  When he enlisted, he was agreeing to become a member of the Armed Forces.  After basic training and a couple of years of service, he was deployed to Afghanistan.  His deployment involved him receiving a mission to achieve and he was sent to a place where the mission was to be accomplished.

So it is with us when we receive a call from God.  First, God calls us to come into His kingdom.  Upon my accepting God’s call of salvation, I entered His kingdom and became a member of His church — God’s embassy.  Once I was in His embassy, I realized I was to be His ambassador and had a mission to achieve.  Then, God called me to a vocation (teaching) — a place of deployment where I was expected to accomplish His mission for my life.  I was called to salvation and then to vocation and deployed into the world to perform a work in order to fulfill God’s purpose/call for my life.

It is important that we understand the meaning of the term vocation.  Pastor and author Tim Keller explains a vocation in his book, Every Good Endeavor, as a “contribution to the good of all not merely…a means to one’s own advancement.”  Keller goes on to describe vocation this way.

Something can be a vocation or calling only if some other party calls you to do it, and you do it for their sake rather than for your own.  Our daily work can be a calling only if it is re-conceived as God’s assignment to serve others.

There is a misconception about God’s call on an individual to vocation that we need to clear up.  Sometimes we think that this call must be what Keller says is an unmistakeable direction of God for a particular person to do a particular job.  It is true that there have been times, and still are times, when God gave this type of vocational call to individuals.  We all know how God called men like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, Paul and John to specific works that He wanted them to accomplish.  In these instances, God gave very detailed instructions on how each person was to fulfill God’s particular call.

We have also seen God do this with some individuals at different times in modern church history.  There is no question that God called people like Mueller, Moody and Graham to very specific tasks that He wanted them to do.  If Christians look for a specific call like this for their lives, they are prone to live their entire lives thinking God must not have a purpose for them because they haven’t received such a direct call from God.

It is important to realize that there were others with Abraham and Moses that God also called to a vocation but their calls were not unmistakable directions of God to do a particular job.  However, that didn’t mean that God did not call each one of them to salvation and to vocation.

We must understand several truths if we are going to be able to hear and respond to God’s call to vocation.

Could This Be God's Call To Vocation?

Could This Be God’s Call To Vocation?

  • God created all men to work.
  • God commands all men to work.
  • God, Himself, is a worker.

This means that each and everyone of us is called to conduct everything we do as full-time service to Christ.  This is what Paul tells us in Colossians 3:23.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. (NKJV)

Your life, my life, our students’ lives are to count for something in this broken world.  Once again, I refer to the words of Keller.  God has made each person to be a history maker…to fulfill a unique role in the unfolding of God’s kingdom.  Darrow Miller stresses this same concept concerning the significance of every person’s everyday life in his book, Lifework.

God has designed man to work with Him, in shaping the course of history.  Each person’s words and actions influence the history of other individuals, communities and nations.

When you and I answer God’s call to vocation on His behalf, we will see our “work” as Brother Lawrence saw his in the 17th century.

Our sanctification does not depend as much on our changing our activities as it does in doing them for God rather than ourselves.

Miller explains this aspect of God’s call to vocation this way.

It is no longer my work but God’s work.  It is not something I do merely to survive or to accumulate wealth or power.  My work (call) is the place through which His kingdom comes, His will be done.  The ordinary is enlivened with the sacred! (emphasis mine)

It is important for each of us to hear and answer God’s universal call to life — to follow Christ.  Then we must discover God’s particular call to vocation — a conscious understanding that our work is God’s call to steward a part of His creation as a service to others.  Have you answered these calls from God for your life?

How should our understanding of God’s calls of salvation and vocation shape the education that we give our children and youth?  This is the topic I will address next week.

Essentials of Education — Part 2

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I am convinced that Christian parents, pastors, church leaders and educators need to understand the basic essentials that must be the foundation of all of their efforts to educate their children and youth.  This article continues to identify and unpack four essentials that I introduced in last week’s post.  These essentials must be a part of every educational effort in the home, church and school.  If they are not at the foundation of our educational efforts, we may be giving our children and youth a false education.

knowing_godEssential #1  Education must be centered on Knowing God!

I will not expound on this essential as I have already addressed this key topic in three other posts recently.  I encourage you to go back and read What Do Our Children Need To Know?, The Importance of Knowing Godand Want To Know Yourself?  The key point we need to keep in mind regarding this educational essential is that man was created in the image of a relational God who wants to have a personal relationship with each person.  Education must strive to lead students into a greater knowledge of God.  This drive to get our children to know God must be an intentional and ongoing effort in the home, church and school if it is going to have an eternal influence on our children and youth.

Gods-Call-768x432Essential #2  Education must guide children and youth to Discover God’s Call!

When I was growing up, anytime I heard someone talking about the need for a person to hear and obey God’s call, it was always related to going into full-time ministry.  I grew up thinking that God’s call is only to those He wants to become a preacher or missionary.  If you didn’t enter one of these types of ministry, then you never received a call from God.

I now know that God calls every person in one way or another to something.  This is because God has a purpose for every person who is born into this world (Psalm 139:13-16).  If God has a purpose for every person, then it makes sense that He would let each person know what that purpose is.  Knowing God’s purpose for my life is actually a call of God on my life.

In his 1828 dictionary, Webster defines a call as giving notice to come by authority or as a command to come.  Another meaning of this word carries with it the concept of the appointment to a duty.  Another definition of Webster was that a call was something that causes one to know, believe and obey.  With these definitions in mind, let’s look at this educational essential in more detail.

To be “called” requires that there is a “caller.”  Os Guinness once said, If there is no Caller, there are no callings — only work.  Within the relationship of God and man, God is the “Caller” and man is the one “called” and God calls everyone to something.  Therefore, our efforts to educate our children must be centered on the essential of leading them to discover God’s call on their lives.

There are two types of calls that come from God to man.  The first call is a universal call that God gives to every person on earth.  This could be referred to as a call to life which takes place at birth.  God calls all men to Christ or to salvation.  Scripture clearly states that God wants all men to be saved.

…you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,…To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints… Romans 1:6-7 (ESV)

…who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:4 (ESV)

This call to life is a call to enter His kingdom and belong to Christ.  Pastor and author Tim Keller explains that this call is a call to a restored relationship with God and with other people and with the world around us.  It reminds us that the call to a particular kind of work is secondary to the call to belong to Christ and to participate in his redemption of the world.  This call to life involves all of life.  It encompasses all of a person’s being and doing.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (ESV)

 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 (ESV)

His work of redemption can occur in any and every workplace.   This universal call to life will affect how we accomplish a particular call to a vocation.  We know that we are saved by faith but for what purpose?  The purpose can be seen in these words written by Paul.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 1:10 (ESV)

This universal call to life is accomplished, according to Darrow Miller in his book, Lifework, in various ways.  Miller explains it isgods-calling a call to bring:

  • love where there is hate
  • peace where there is conflict
  • beauty where there is dreariness
  • truth where there is falsehood
  • good where there is evil

Miller goes on to explain how God calls us to reflect His nature in a lost world.

  • Because God is love, we are to love friends, neighbors and enemies.
  • Because God is just, we are to pursue justice in a corrupt world.
  • Because God is compassionate, we are to extend compassion in a broken world.
  • Because God is true, we are to speak truth in the face of lives and live trustworthy lives in a world of betrayed promises.
  • Because God is beautiful, we are to bring beauty into our society.

How does God’s call on a person’s life fit into the education we give our children and youth?  I believe we would all agree that education involves the preparation of our children and youth for something in the future.  The question becomes what are we preparing our children for when it comes to the education we give them?  This question is applicable to the education that takes place at home, in the church and at school.  Unfortunately, most of the education being given to our children only prepares them for more schooling!

Elementary education is designed so that our children can be successful in middle school.  Middle school is basic training for high school.  High school is where our children’s studies really count.  This is because every subject counts toward graduation requirements.  But what are those requirements aimed at?  They are requirements that the student needs to be able to get more schooling — get into college.  One of the devastating results of this type of emphasis in education is that the child never begins to mature and have any understanding of God’s call on his life until well into his college years.

It is essential that the education we give our children emphasizes that God has a specific purpose for their lives and this purpose cannot be understood without first knowing that God has called them to life in Christ.  The education we give our children must not only lead them to understand God’s universal call to all men to follow Christ, it must also help them understand how they are to fulfill this call as Christians living in a broken world of relationships.  Once they know and answer this universal call from God, they can then be led to discover God’s particular call on their lives.  We will address God’s particular call to a vocation in next week’s blog.

The question that begs an answer today is:  Does the education we are giving our children at home, church and school lead them to discover God’s call to follow Christ, beginning at birth and continuing through elementary and secondary school?

Essentials of Education

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education essentials 2Over the years I have had a driving passion to try and understand the purpose for education from a biblical perspective.  It has been an amazing journey and I am still challenged by this desire to comprehend God’s intention behind all education, especially as it pertains to our children and youth.

Recently I have been asking myself a very important question.  What are the fundamental essentials of true education?  If there were only certain things that our children and grandchildren could learn, what would they be?  If you were required to answer this question, what would you say make up these essentials.  Would it be reading and writing, math and science?  Maybe you would include other academic subjects and possibly even some extracurricular endeavors.

There is no doubt in my mind that much of what we believe to be essential to the education of children and youth would be seen as merely nice preferences if our children’s survival was actually at stake.  I am not saying that much of what we are currently doing when it comes to educating our children isn’t important.  However, if we can’t boil education down to some basic fundamental essentials, we may produce a generation of young adults who know a lot of facts but who won’t be able to impact their world for Christ.  Yet, if we accomplish the essentials of education, they will be equipped to think and act from a biblical worldview and that is what is of utmost importance.

I shared some of this recently at a worldview conference and someone asked me how the biblical principles found in kingdom education relate to the essentials of an education.  They said aren’t these principles the essential elements of education?  My response was that the 13 biblical principles of kingdom education form the basics of a biblical philosophy of education.  These principles provide Christians with the “how to” when it comes to educating their children and youth.  When I am talking about understanding the essentials of education, I am referring to what our children and youth need to know.

As I have been studying and praying about this question, there have been four things that have come to my mind as possible essentials of education.  I will simply present these essentials for your consideration in this week’s post.  Then over the next few weeks, I will expand on each of these essentials individually.  Here are what I believe are four basic essentials of education.  If these are not realized, could it mean that our children really haven’t been educated?

Education Essential #1    Know God

Education Essential #2   Discover God’s Call

Education Essential #3   Equip To Perform God’s Will

Education Essential #4   Glorify God In Everything

As you read this, what were your thoughts?  Please share your comments below.

A Tribute To A Teammate

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Team Photo 6667 (1)

Bill Bachmann (2nd Row Center)

I was in St. Louis getting ready to speak at a conference when I received the news.  A college teammate of mine went home to be with the Lord.  The reason why this was bittersweet news was that our entire team had just been together for a special event at our alma mater a few weeks earlier.  All of us knew that our teammate had been in the biggest battle of his life for the past several months.  Even with the end of his life drawing near, Bill Bachmann was determined to be with his teammates one last time.

Bill was in the final stages of pancreatic cancer.  His doctors had advised him not to make the long trip from Orlando, FL to Rochester, NY.  However, Bill was not going to be deterred.  With a mattress in the back of his large SUV and a friend at the wheel, he made the three-day journey to be with his lifelong friends.

Our teammate was quite weak so he couldn’t do an awful lot but I will never forget what he shared with us at a luncheon we had during our time on campus.  Bill told us that he did not feel cheated by this dreadful disease.  He told each of us that he had been blessed to do what he loved for almost 50 years – being a professional photographer.  He was not merely another photographer but a world-class one at that.  He was given the opportunity to travel to over 200 countries and capture the awesome majesty of God’s creation on every continent.

But the memory of this special moment was something Bill told us in a quiet yet confident tone.  He shared with us that I am ready to meet Jesus.  As I reflect back on our last time together, my mind went back to another man who also lived an amazing life and was facing the reality of death.  This man was Paul and he wrote to his friends about how he faced the brevity of life in Philippians chapter 1.  Most of us are very familiar with his words.

For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21 KJV)

With Bill’s simple statement, he was saying that to live is wonderful but to die and meet Jesus is even better.  This was not the first time that I reflected on this powerful verse.  I also took comfort in these words 16 years ago when one of Bill’s classmates, my sister, went home to be with the Lord.  It seemed unfair for her life to “be cut so short”.  However, she lived her life in a way that all of her family and friends knew she saw death as great gain because it meant she would be with Jesus.

I have studied this verse and the verses that follow it on many occasions over the past decade or so.  I have discovered the reason why God allows some of us to continue on here on earth.  In the next few verses following Paul’s courageous statement, you will find that he found himself in a dilemma.  He wanted to stay alive but, at the same time, he wanted to be home with his Lord.  Paul put it this way.

But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.  But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;  (Philippians 1:22-23 NASB)

I must admit that I find myself in this perplexing situation with each passing year.  When I look back on my life, I am so thankful for all that God has done in and through me.  I have been, like Bill, very blessed.  It has been exciting to have had the privilege to travel all across the country and around the world to share the message that God has given me concerning His plan for educating future generations.  At the same time, when my body gets tired a little easier and I see all the pain and heartache that is ever-increasing in this sin-wrecked world, I long to be with Christ.

This is when I go back and read what Paul told his friends.  It is the next couple of verses that reminds me why I am here and not with my Lord.  It is also why you are here.  Paul wrote in verses 24 and 25,

…yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake…I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith (NASB)

Bill As MVP Monroe County Tournament

Bill As MVP Monroe County Tournament

I am alive not for my sake but for the sake of others.  My life doesn’t continue so that I can achieve or accumulate more things.  It is not to find fame and/or fortune.  It is to love God and serve others.  I don’t know how long I have here on earth.  However, I want to live each day for the sake of others.  I pray that my life will be for others to find progress and joy in the faith.  Now, that is a reason to live!

It is important that I look for and find the “others” that I am supposed to serve each and every day.  I praise God that Bill didn’t stay home because he was weak, tired and in pain.  I am thankful that he made the trip to Roberts Wesleyan College for my sake.  Seeing him and hearing him say that he was ready to meet Jesus was for my progress and joy in the faith.  For whose sake are you here for today?  To live is Christ but live it as if it is far better to be with Him.

Want To Know Yourself?

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self esteem 1I have heard it said that the only certain things in life are death and taxes.  There is something else that every person strives for.  It doesn’t matter one’s age, economic status, location or anything else.  Everyone wants to feel important.  We all want to have significance.  I can remember classmates of mine in high school who struggled with the meaning of life.  During the 1960s, the catch phrase used was that someone was trying to find himself.

When I was in graduate school, I met people who were my age and older who had never held a full-time job.  They had been in school their entire life.  Some of them had several degrees.  I can remember asking them when were they going to stop going to school and do something.  The common answer was that they were searching, trying to find themselves.  Sometimes I wanted to take them by the hand, take them to a mirror and tell them to look in the mirror because there they were.  Now get on with life.

In high school I began to play basketball and run cross country.  I enjoyed the sports but down deep inside what I really wanted was to be successful.  I thought that if I was successful as an athlete, I would be looked up to.  Athletics became my road to significance.  Even though I experienced a great deal of success playing basketball, it never fulfilled my desire to feel important.

This desire for meaning and significance is what was behind the self-esteem movement of the 70s and 80s.  If a young person could develop a positive self-esteem, he/she would find meaning and significance.  One definition of a positive self-esteem explained that a young person should never have to think negative thoughts about himself.  Of course, if that were true, then it would be impossible for that person to do something wrong and then feel the guilt that comes with wrong doing.

In order to build positive self-esteem everyone on a team had to get a trophy.  It could damage someone’s self-esteem if one member of a team would get a most valuable player award.  If fact, I read where recently one high school did not allow graduates self esteem 2who were members of the National Honor Society to wear their NHS stoles at graduation. The reason behind this decision was that if some graduates wore these stoles it would cause those not in the Society to feel left out and “not as good” as everyone else.

Throughout the past several decades the striving for meaning was championed by the importance of self-actualization.  It didn’t matter what the rules of society were.  It was all about you.  You needed to be yourself.  You determined your own potential and your own direction in life.

All of these efforts, plus many others, fell short of being able to give a person a true sense of importance.  It seems like one cannot be successful enough, have enough stuff, or chase after enough things to get a satisfactory “high” that gives one a true sense of significance.  What is the answer to this innate drive found in every individual?

In the past couple of blog articles I have been discussing a biblical principle of education that God has revealed to me over the past few months.  The principle is:

The education of children and youth must have as its primary focus the increase in the knowledge of God.

In the first article I shared how the lack of the knowledge God destroyed God’s people and led them into captivity.  Last week I talked about how God wants His people to know Him more than to perform religious sacrifices and that the study of any subject is a means of knowing God.  Greene said that when we study God’s creation it is God’s way of making Himself known to us.

I believe that knowing God is also the answer to this need man has to know who he is and why he is here on earth.  I quoted Jonathan Edwards in last week’s article.  Edwards said,

Of all the knowledge that we can ever obtain, the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves are the most important.

Edwards makes a very meaningful point and the order that he presents in this statement is of utmost importance.  He didn’t say that knowing ourselves is most important.  From Edwards experience he realized that the knowledge of God was of first priority.  As one increases in his knowledge of God, he can then gain a better knowledge of himself.  Knowing God can lead to knowing ourselves and together this gives us the significance that we all long for.

All other efforts to find significance apart from God are totally empty.  What makes this even more critical today is the fact that most young people are educated in secular institutions.  Not only do secular schools deny or ignore the existence of God, they also teach students that man has evolved from lower life forms.  Man is merely a natural phenomenon, an exquisite piece of machinery of nature.  If that were true, man has no more value than that which belongs to a monkey or the dust of the ground.

self esteem 4True purpose and significance can only be found when one grasps two truths.  First, we must understand that God created man.  We did not evolve by chance over a long period of time.  We were specially created by an all-wise God.  That would take us a long way down the road to finding true purpose in life.  However, it still doesn’t account for us being of greater worth and value than the monkey or a handful of dirt which God also created.

The second truth is what really matters.  Not only did God create man but God also created man in His image.  Every person who has ever lived has been and is an image bearer of almighty God.  How, then, is the best way for me to “know myself?”  I can truly know myself when I know the Person whom I am an image of!  Just like it is possible to get an understanding of some of my characteristics by knowing my father and mother, it is of greater value to know the One who actually created me in His image.self esteem 3

If we would fully follow this principle and make the increase in the knowledge of God our highest priority in the education we give our children, they would also be able to better understand who they are.  They would know that they have inherent worth and intrinsic value because they are image bearers of God.  However, they would also come to realize how far short they fall from being a true image of God’s due to sin.  This would lead them to knowing their need for a Savior and, through salvation, they can be transformed into the image of God’s Son.  Now that gives one true significance!

The Importance of Knowing God

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knowledgecheckIn part 1 of this series, I asked the question, What do our children need to know?  If you haven’t read that blog, I encourage you to go back and read it before reading this week’s post.  I ended that post by sharing another biblical principle for how we educate future generations.  The principle reads,

The education of children and youth must have as its primary focus the increase in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:9-10; 2:2-3; John 17:3; Romans 1:20; Psalm 19:1-6; Ephesians 1:16-19; 4:13; Philippians 1:9; 3:8-10, 13-14; 2 Peter 3:18; Proverbs 1:7; 2:4-5; Hosea 4:1; 6:6; Isaiah 5:13; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Exodus 20:3-4

Paul warned Christians in 1 Corinthians 8:1 that we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up.  Just knowing facts and figures can very easily lead to pride.  I believe that is why so many people who have earned advanced degrees reject the truths of Christianity.  They believe that they know so much that they don’t need religion in their lives.  They have become proud in the knowledge they have accumulated.  Unfortunately, they may not know truth just because they know some facts.  John Piper understands that knowing God gives true meaning to any facts one may acquire when he stated,

John Piper

John Piper

Modern people suppose that if they have the facts about a given thing, person, or event, they have the truth.  They forget that facts are not meaningless or value free, and that if we do not associate the meaning with the fact, we do not have the truth.

I am convinced that what is lacking in our own lives and in the education we are giving the next generation is an increase in the knowledge of God.  In fact, God says that His people are destroyed and find themselves in captivity because they lack this all-important knowledge.  Knowing God is of utmost important to Him.

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you that ye may…increase in the knowledge of God.  Colossians 1:9-10 KJV

…cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ…may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.  Ephesians 1:15-17 KJV

God makes it clear that He desires that every Christian grow in the knowledge of Himself more than growing in any other area of his/her life.

For I desire goodness; and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.  Hosea 6:6 KJV

The reason why God puts such a high premium on the knowledge of God can be best understood by remembering why God created man in the first place.  If you recall, God created the entire universe as an expression of who He is and for His glory.  On the sixth day of creation God put a capstone on His creation with the creation of man.  The reason why I believe the creation of man was the capstone of creation is because only man is created in the image of God.  By being created in the image of God, only man can know God personally and intimately.  The great theologian, J. I Packer, states this truth clearly.

J I Packer

J I Packer

Once you become aware that the main business you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall in place of their own accord.

Solomon understood how the knowledge of God is foundational to any true education.  The wisest man who ever lived, apart from Christ, wrote,

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.   If thou search for [understanding]…thou shalt understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 1:7; 2:4-5 KJV

Increasing in knowledge begins with the fear or reverence of God.   Then, when you search for wisdom and understanding, it will result in you understanding the fear of the Lord and this is what leads you to know God.

You might be asking yourself a question right about now.  How does all of this emphasis on knowing God relate to how we educate our children.  Again, I am reminded that God created everything as an expression of His nature.  If our most important purpose for our existence is to know Him, then we can come to know Him by studying what He has made.  This reality is found throughout God’s Word.

The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork. Psalm 19:1 NKJV

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead… Romans 1:20 NKJV

reclaiming - GreeneWhenever I study some part of God’s magnificent creation, I should be increasing in my knowledge of God.  The late Albert Greene grasped this important principle of education in his book, Reclaiming the Future of Christian Education.  He wrote,

We must avoid the impression that academics represents the fullness of what school is all about.  Knowing God in and through the creation is what is important…It brings no honor to the Holy Spirit if we then proceed to treat the ordinary school studies, which are derived totally from the created world, as if they had nothing to do with God. They are laden with meaning because they are all part of God’s way of giving Himself to us, of making Himself known to us.

I am becoming more and more concerned about how most Christians approach education, especially schooling.  I believe that we may have it backwards.  We are pursuing more knowledge so that we have better standardized test scores, higher SAT and ACT scores, strong STEM programs, etc.  Then, because we are Christians in a Christian school, we ADD Jesus and/or the Bible to the curriculum.  I am not against wanting our children and grandchildren to achieve good test scores or to be strong in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  However, it appears that we should be pursuing a knowledge of God first as we study the various subjects and, then, our children may end up achieving more in the STEM areas of schooling and scoring well on various standardized tests.

george_washington_carver_croppedjpg

George Washington Carver

This is what happened with men in the past.  They were not pursuing science per se.  They were pursuing a knowledge of God by studying His two books, the Bible and Creation.  Consider the words of George Washington Carver:

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.

Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.

More and more as we come closer and closer in touch with nature and its teachings are we able to see the Divine and are therefore fitted to interpret correctly the various languages spoken by all forms of nature about us.

isaac newton

Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton also had it right when he said,

This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.

In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.

Gravity may put the planets into motion, but without the divine Power, it could never put them into such a circulating motion as they have about the Sun; and therefore, for this as well as other reasons, I am compelled to ascribe the frame of this System to an intelligent Agent.

Even though Jonathan Edwards was a powerful revivalist preacher, he also had a strong grasp of the sciences.  He understood science because of his pursuit of the knowledge of God.  Here is how Edwards puts it.

We have seen that the Son of God created the world for this very end, to communicate Himself in an image of His own excellency. … When we behold the light and brightness of the sun, the golden edges of an evening cloud, or the beauteous (rain)bow, we behold the adumbrations of His glory and goodness; and in the blue sky, of his mildness and gentleness.

Among the many acts of gratitude we owe to God, it may be accounted one to study and contemplate the perfections and beauties of His work of creation. Every new discovery must necessarily raise in us a fresh sense of the greatness, wisdom, and power of God.

When one’s knowledge of God increases, it will, in turn, bring true meaning to one’s knowledge of the facts being studied. When this happens one will increase in wisdom and understanding.  Again, I turn to Jonathan Edwards to make this truth crystal clear.

Of all the knowledge that we can ever obtain, the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves are the most important…He who does not know Him, knows nothing else as it truly is.

I close by asking you to ponder Paul’s admonition to his students.

According to the riches of His glory, . . . may [the Father] grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:16-19

An increase in the knowledge of God must be the highest priority in the education that we give our children and youth!

A Big Lesson Learned 50 Years Ago

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HOF Team 2017 Board Room copy

Teammates For Life

This past Friday a group of 15 men gathered on the campus of Roberts Wesleyan College.  As the members of this group arrived, hugs were exchanged and conversations took place about how good it was to see each other again.  Other people that were in attendance figured that these men were just some other alumni that were there to attend the Yesteryears Brunch that always takes place during the college’s annual homecoming.

Team 1966

1965-66 Team

However, this was a very special group that had been invited to the brunch by President, Dr. Deana Porterfield and Athletic Director, Robert Segave.  At the brunch RWC would induct the very first athletic team into the college’s sports hall of fame.  This team was the basketball team that had played during the 1965-66 and 1966-67 seasons.  All but one member of that team were able to attend, along with the head coach.  The missing teammate, Ken Curtis, died in an automobile accident soon after graduating from the College.

Why would a college induct an entire team into its Sports Hall of Fame?  In Roberts’ 150 year history, this team had the winningest record over those two seasons.  It was announced at the induction series that the 1965-66 team compiled a record of 18-2 only to come back the next year and post a 20-5 record.  Both of these teams received bids to the NAIA end of season tournament.

Team 1967

1966-67 Team

I had the wonderful privilege of playing on those teams.  To better understand the accomplishments of this group of young athletes, it is important to explain a couple of things.  RWC had approximately 550 students at the time.  It had never had a strong basketball program but there was hope of success as the 1964-65 team had achieved a 14-8 record.  However, the schedule for the next two years was extremely challenging as Roberts would face many state colleges and all of the opponents had much larger student bodies and stronger athletic programs.

To make matters even more challenging, RWC did not have its own gymnasium and had to practice and play in a rented facility at a local high school.  There were no weight or training rooms available for conditioning and medical attention.  The team did not have a lot of height as none of the players were over 6’6″.  It was notable that 9 of the 12 players could dunk the ball and the coach developed an impressive warmup routine that showcased this jumping ability.

Team w coach

Coach Hughes with Lincoln Memorial Tournament Champions in Background

This was not what would have been seen as a highly recruited group of athletes.  One player did not even play his senior year in high school due to suffering a broken leg in the off season.  Another one had only played half of his senior year, again due to a broken ankle.  Another team member was unable to play high school ball because of a heart condition.  Most of the other players played high school ball at rather small rural public schools.

In spite of all of this, God did something special with this group of young athletes.  The team not only defeated all of the larger state schools they played but did so convincingly.  The team averaged over 90 points per game and posted a 20-point per game winning margin.  We played before standing room only crowds with the final home game against a strong Buffalo State team having the gym closed to more spectators almost 1 hour before game time.  Roberts Wesleyan College’s basketball team had captured the hearts of not only its students but the entire North Chili community.

IMG_1714

Induction Ceremony

When the team arrived back to campus after losing its final game by 4 points in the NAIA district final, the team bus had to stop at the corner of Buffalo and Orchard Streets where the students and community had come out to welcome them home.  The players and coaches were made to disembark the bus and walk the 1/4 mile up Orchard Street to the school cafeteria to the cheers of hundreds of students and community residents.  Many of us were put on the shoulders of students and carried to a reception honoring our accomplishments (I can only imagine what would have happened if we had won that district championship game).

Over the last 50 years of basketball at Roberts nothing like this has ever taken place again.  There have been many talented players and coaches at RWC since those memorable seasons but the magic of 50 years ago has never been duplicated.  I gave a lot of thought to what I had been a part of as I prepared to make the trip with my wife from Charleston, SC to Rochester, NY.  One of the things that I have learned throughout my life is that while you are going through something, you very seldom understand what and why things are going the way they are.  However, down the road God reveals why things went the way they did.

I am convinced that God allowed me to be part of this amazing time in RWC history to teach me what it takes to be one of His disciples.  In Matthew 16:24 we find these words of Jesus.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Team with Red Hawk

The Old “Raiders” with Reggie the “Redhawk”

Many of us have memorized this verse and could quote it with no effort if asked to do so.  But what does it mean to deny oneself and follow Christ?  I think I have a better understanding of these two aspects of being a disciple of Jesus Christ by being a part of this basketball team.  First, God taught me how one denies himself by what happened with that special group of teammates I have known for over 50 years.  We all knew who on the team was the best shooter, rebounder, defender etc.  However, this team was different.  Each of us was willing to accept our individual roles on the team and honor our teammates roles.  There was no jealousy or pride in any of the players.  If one player was having an off night, he would help another teammate take the spotlight.  There literally were no individuals on the team.  We each denied ourselves for the sake of the team.  This is what Christ expects of me – I am to deny myself for the sake of His kingdom.

The second thing that God taught me by playing on this basketball team was what it means to “follow Him.”  Following someone simply means that you obey that person completely.  Our coach played a significant role in what this team accomplished.  We “had” to “follow him”!  We did what he told us to do or we sat next to him.  It didn’t matter how talented a player was, you had to “follow” or “obey” the coach.  To this day I am convinced the teams that win are the ones who obey their coach the most, beginning in practice and carrying on throughout each game.  I could fill pages with stories that we always share with each other of how coach required us to follow him.

IMG_0423

Hall of Fame Medallion and Shirt

I am very thankful to Dr. Porterfield and Robert Segave for honoring our team this past weekend.  I will never forget having President Porterfield place the medallion around my neck, being introduced at the halftime of the men’s soccer game before a large homecoming crowd, and being honored as the first team to ever be inducted into the RWC Sports Hall of Fame (many of the team members and coach had already been inducted as individuals).  This was truly a memorable weekend.

However, I want to thank God for giving me the talent to play the sport and leading me to Roberts Wesleyan College.  It was God who allowed me to be part of this team, made up of such incredible men. God also allowed me to play for a coach who loved his players and wanted them to become men of character more than winning a lot of games.  This team may never gather again here on earth.  One player is in a battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.  Another one has battled Parkinson’s disease for 15 years.  However, we all came together so that we could be together one more time and huddle up and give a hearty Go Raiders one last time.

I can only imagine what it will be like when Christians from every tribe and tongue gather together with Christ and worship Him forever.  Thank you Lord for teaching me how to become one of your disciples.

What Do Our Children Need To Know?

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The Search For Knowledge

The Search For Knowledge

I think you would agree that the acquisition of knowledge is a key element of all educational efforts, especially when it comes to schooling.  If this were not the case, then we would not be putting so much emphasis on things like standardized test scores, college entrance exams, etc.  However, the question that begs to be answered is, “What knowledge is important when it comes to educating the next generation?”

I recently read an article by Industry Tap that explained how Buckminster Fuller created the “Knowledge Doubling Curve” in the 1980s.  The article stated, “Until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today things are not as simple as different types of knowledge have different rates of growth. . . . But on average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months.  And that rate will increase exponentially. IBM theorizes it could someday become every 12 hours.”

The problem that this explosion of knowledge produces is something we don’t take into consideration very often.  With so much knowledge out there to try and grasp, what knowledge is important and what is not?  One blogger wrote that “we are lost in the overabundance of information.”  Most people end up deciding what knowledge is important to know by what interests them or what is best for them.

Dr. Jeff Myers addressed this problem of information overload in his book, Handoff.  Jeff wrote,

With shopping and surfing available 24 hours a day young adults believe they can have whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want, and with whomever they want to have it. Young people spend between 27 and 33 hours per week using communication technology. They are overwhelmed with information. Information overload is destroying their capacity for discernment. They are finding it increasingly more difficult to determine what is really important.

As we think about the drive to “know” stuff, consider these passages of Scripture.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee.  Hosea 4:6 (KJV)

Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge. Isaiah 5:13 (KJV)

Here we find God stating that His people were destroyed and taken captive because they lacked knowledge.  In fact, God knowledgestates that since His people had rejected knowledge, He would reject them!  I believe that today’s church (Christians) are facing the same consequences as did the nation of Israel in the OT.  Christians today are being destroyed and they have been taken captive by a secular society to such a degree that caused David Kinnaman to explain that today’s Christians are living in a Babylonian culture.

When I first read the two verses above, I asked myself a couple of questions.  Is God saying that the Israelites did not know anything?  At first glance, it appears that this is what God is saying.  However, we know that the nation of Israel was not an illiterate group of people.  They had copies of the Law and they were geniuses when it came to building houses and temples and they were able to design and construct elaborate water systems etc.  So, what knowledge did the Israelites not know that caused them to be destroyed and brought into captivity?  What knowledge did they reject that caused God to reject them?  We must understand the answer to these questions if we are going to understand what knowledge is most important to teach future generations.

We can find the answer to these questions by looking at the context of these verses.  In Hosea 4:1 we find that God has a charge against His people.

Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.  Hosea 4:1 (KJV)

The problem God had with His people was not that they didn’t know anything.  The problem was that they didn’t know the right thing!  There was no knowledge of God in the land.  We must understand that God was not referring to the general society when He talked about “the land.”  Of course, there was no knowledge of God in the general population where the nation of Israel lived.  God was referring to His people when He said “in the land.”  It must also be pointed out that it was very probable that most of the Israelites knew quite a bit about God.  There is a big difference between knowing God and knowing about God.  The word “know” is the same word that is used when the Bible states that Adam knew his wife and they had a son.  Knowing God comes from an intimate relationship with God.

knowledgecheckThe thing that God said about His people in Hosea’s day is the same that I believe He would say about His people in today’s church.  Christians know a lot about God but it is not clear that they are very strong in their knowledge of God.  There is a need for Christians to have the right focus on the knowledge that we want our children and grandchildren to know as we educate them.

If you have read my book, Kingdom Education, you know that I have identified 10 biblical principles of education.  These principles have been the foundation of my teaching when it comes to addressing the issue of education biblically.  However, I am constantly studying the Scriptures and asking God to show me additional truths that will help me better understand education from His perspective.  The reason I am sharing all of this with you is because God has revealed to me some additional biblical principles that are to guide us in how we are to educate our children.

I believe there is another biblical principle that we must follow if we are going to educate our children the way God wants us to.  Principle #11 reads like this.

The education of children and youth must have as its primary focus the increase in the knowledge of God.

The following Scripture references should be studied to understand this very important principle.

Colossians 1:9-10; 2:2-3; John 17:3; Romans 1:20; Psalm 19:1-6; Ephesians 1:16-19; 4:13; Philippians 1:9; 3:8-10, 13-14; 2 Peter 3:18; Proverbs 1:7; 2:4-5; Hosea 4:1; 6:6; Isaiah 5:13; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Exodus 20:3-4

What are your thoughts when it comes to the various questions I raise in this blog and this additional biblical principle of education?  I would love to know what you are thinking about the knowledge our children need to grasp.  Next week, Lord willing, I will be unpacking this principle so we can all understand it completely.

There Is A Reason For The Mess We Find Ourselves In Today

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Australian Rainforest

As I look back over the past several months I am amazed at where we are as a society.  Some of the things that have taken place since the first of the year are somewhat mind-boggling.  If you would have asked me as little as one year ago if I thought certain things would be normative today, I would have resounded with a very strong no.  I would have never dreamed that:

  • college students would need a “safe space” where they could get hot chocolate and donuts if they felt threatened or stressed due to what someone might say or think.
  • university professors would postpone classes or exams due to stress caused by who was elected into certain public offices.
  • Facebook would now have 71 different gender options that people can choose from to describe who they feel they are.
  • parents would leave the gender of their new born child blank on the baby’s birth certificate so that the child can choose a gender the child feels comfortable with later.
  • a University of Georgia professor would allow students to choose their own final grades in order to reduce stress.
  • a person would spend thousands of dollars on reconstructive surgery so the person could become what “it” thinks “itself” to be – an alien from outer space.
  • there would be violent protests to pull down or destroy historical landmarks and statues depicting our country’s history.  There has even been a call to remove the stature of Thomas Jefferson from the campus of the University of Virginia (that he personally designed and built) because he once owned slaves (this one hit home as I received two degrees from the University).
Figure 1

Figure 1

I could go on and on listing things that are frankly quite absurd.  The question is how did we get here?  The very fabric of our country’s founding is being destroyed or, more accurately, has disappeared completely.  I observed something that helped me understand what has taken place over the past hundred or so years in this country on a recent trip to Australia.

My wife and I were taken to a beautiful rainforest outside the Gold Coast of Australia.  While walking through the forest I was introduced to a fascinating phenomenon taking place. There is a species of fig called Ficus watkinsiana. I soon learned that birds would roost in the tops of very tall, strong trees after eating the fruit of this particular fig. While roosting the birds deposit tiny fig seeds in the tops of trees through their waste.

Upon germination the seeds would send out small fibrous roots that would begin growing down the tree toward the ground (Figure 1).  At the same time, the plant grows upward to reach the sunlight above the forest canopy. At first these roots seem very harmless but over time they become extremely dangerous, even lethal. Before long these roots begin to wrap themselves around the trunk of the tree as they reach the ground and take root in the soil. Even at this stage everything seems to be fine and the roots from the fig seem to live in harmony with the tree that it is beginning to encapsulate (Figure 2).

Figure 2b

Figure 2

Over a period of time the entire trunk of the once strong tree is totally engulfed by the now large fig roots. The sad thing is that from the outside everything looks fine.  However, by now the fig roots simply look like the large, strong tree itself. No one noticed that the tree was slowly being strangled and began to die.

Eventually the once tall tree is completely dead and begins to decay. There was one such instance where I was able to crawl inside these large fig roots and look up to see that the tree was completely gone. It was like being inside of a cavern surrounded by a thick wall (Figure 3).

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Figure 3

The common name for this variety of fig is the strangler fig, a very fitting name to how it survives by strangling the life out of a healthy tree. As I took pictures of this happening at different stages, I couldn’t help but think of how secular education works in a very similar way.

Secular education begins by depositing small seeds of false ideas into the unsuspecting minds of healthy young children. These seeds begin to germinate and send tiny fibrous ideas (roots) that begin winding themselves around the hearts and minds of the unsuspecting young ones. Even the children’s parents seem to be oblivious to what is actually taking place in their children’s lives.

As the roots of secular education become more engrained in children’s minds, it actually begins to “strangle” truth out of their minds and hearts. Before long, the roots of secular, anti-Christian thought have fully engulfed the students’ thinking and they have, in essence, formed a secular worldview by which they will live their lives.  This has taken place over the past several decades and it has produced a generation of young people and adults who now think and act from a secular humanistic worldview.  The strangler education has done its damage (Figure 4).

Figure 4

Now being fully engulfed by the root system of a secular education, young lives that were created as image bearers of God are being suffocated by the secular worldview that has now been well established. Any evidence of truth is decaying and soon the “educated” person will be a hollow shell of what he or she was designed to be.

When the majority of young people in a society have succumbed to strangulation by a secular education, the culture, itself, becomes completely secular. This is why the United States is in the deplorable condition we are experiencing today. The roots of secular education have strangled the once strong Judeo-Christian ethic that shaped such things as the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and the rule of law. What was once the backbone of our society is now almost completely decayed, having been strangled by the roots of a secular, anti-Christian education ( Figure 4).

Figure 5

Figure 5

When we realize what has happened through the secular educational system that has dominated our culture, we can understand why some of the things that I described above are becoming all too common.  It shouldn’t surprise anyone.  What else would we expect from an educational system that denies the existence of God and depicts man as an evolutionary product of time and chance?  G. K. Chesterton once said,

Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.

There is no doubt about it, secular education can be described as a strangler education (Figure 5). The only way to stop the strangulation process is to uproot the plant when it is young – before it begins to develop a root system that will eventually engulf the minds and hearts of our children. Instead, Christian homes, churches and schools should unite and provide their children with a biblical education. When this happens the seeds of a biblical worldview will be planted in our children’s minds and hearts and they can become what God has created them to be. It is time to stop our children from being strangled!