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What Are You Trusting In?

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Is God Teaching Us Something?

I have heard from many Christian school leaders over the past couple of weeks.  There are two things that these men and women have taught me about the leadership challenges they have been facing due to COVID-19.  The first thing that caught my attention is that they have been overwhelmed by the task before them.   One administrator explained how his days were much longer since the pandemic outbreak and the work is extremely hard.

The second thing that has been mentioned by everyone I hear from is how amazed they are by what God is doing in their lives and their schools.  This pandemic has caused us to realize that God’s work is too difficult for any of us and can only be accomplished by our daily dying to self and following Him.

A pastor posted a blog a couple of weeks ago that cut me to the bone.  He wrote,

There is a phenomenon happening right now during the Coronavirus crisis that we must not miss. God is systematically stripping every god, every idol we worship, and He’s doing it all across the world. Taken away from us are our idols of sports, entertainment, health, wealth, position, and power. One-by-one we find that the things we looked to for life and meaning are suddenly gone, stripped away by a marauding army of germs that we cannot even see.  Dr. Bill Eliff

God has been bringing to my mind verses of Scripture that have caused me to ask an important question.  Glen, what are you putting your hope and confidence in?  I wonder if all of us have been guilty of worshipping some false gods.  I am learning that worshipping false gods doesn’t necessarily mean that we become pagan atheists who deny the existence of God.  In fact, I am realizing afresh that I can be heavily involved in ministry for God and be guilty of idol worship.  Pause and reflect on the following verses.

What Are Today’s Horses & Chariots?

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.  Psalm 20:7

Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord“Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; who walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!  Isaiah 30:2

For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water…And now why take the road to Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor?  Or why take the road to Assyria, to drink the waters of the River?  Jeremiah 2:13; 18

Whatever I trust in the most is what I worship.  This has been a sobering thought for me to ponder over the past few weeks.  Have I worshiped my work, this blog and my website because I trusted in them and not God?  Has God had to strip away some idols that had slowly replaced Him?  Because I am facing a financial hit due to cancelled events etc., am I looking to the government to get me through this crisis?  These have been some tough questions that have caused me to carefully examine my life.

Sometimes we think that all idols are bad things that we chase after.  The truth be known, idols can be somethings that are good.  Remember when God told Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, and sacrifice him on an altar.  A son is not something evil.  Every child, according to Psalm 127, is a gift from the Lord.  However, God had something big in store for Abraham and He tested him to make sure the gift of a son that He gave him had not become an idol.  God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son with these words.

And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.  Genesis 22:12

As God has been stripping away a lot of idols through this pandemic,  has it caused us to get back to the what God says is most important?  I have been reminded that we have been created to know God and glory in His presence.  I am praying that we are having to get back to what the bottom line purpose that Christian education is to accomplish.

It was 20-25 years ago when I sat in a devotion that Mark Kennedy, ACSI Eastern Canada Director, was giving.  I was there in Prince Edward Island to speak at Mark’s summer institute.

Mark challenged the Christian school leaders in attendance with some penetrating questions.  If the economy completely collapsed, what is your school doing now that you would stop doing in order to stay open and provide your students with a Christian education?  What programs would we cut out?  What activities would we forgo/forsake/go without so that you could remain open?  What budget cuts would we be willing to make?

It was interesting to hear what administrators would cut or limit in order to remain open.  It is these things that could easily become objects of worship in our schools.  Think about some things that we have highly valued in Christian education that God has stripped away from us during this season.  As I mention them, I am not being critical of any of these things in and of themselves.  I am simply asking you to evaluate what you and your school have put your trust in.  These things may be our modern-day horses and chariots.  Are we guilty of idol worship because we have trusted in:

  • academic excellence where our measure of excellence is only horizontal based on comparing and competing with other schools?
  • athletic, fine arts and other similar programs that we see as giving our schools respectability in the world?
  • facilities that are first class?  Whether a school is meeting in modular buildings or multi-million-dollar complexes, there is one thing they all have in common.  All of our  facilities are currently sitting empty.
  • budgets that allow us to offer the best in technology and other instructional resources?  With many schools having to move to a digital learning environment, if we are simply trusting technology, God can strip that away as easily as He has done other idols.
  • (you fill in the blank) _______________________________?

This pandemic will most likely come to an end in the not too distant future.  What will happen when we get back to “normal” is yet to be seen.  If everything is restored, in what or who will we put our hope and trust? This, I believe, is the critical question on which hangs the sustainability of Christian education.  We need to commit ourselves to siding with Joshua in his farewell challenge to Israel.

As for me and my house (school), we WILL serve the Lord!

Panic Over Toilet Paper

By | Public Blog

 

Why?

The coronavirus pandemic has turned life upside down in many ways.  With schools closing, many teachers have had to resort to online learning as a means to keep students up-to-date with their studies.  Many people are trying to balance watching their children and working from home.  Others are suffering withdrawal pangs as most sports venues have been shut down.

One of the common practices that seems to take place whenever there is a hint of disruption of everyday life is being witnessed all round the world.  This practice can be seen when a major storm, such as snow or a hurricane, is forecasted.  It is also seen when there is a threat of an economic collapse.  Currently, we see it happening with the panic over COVID-19.

What is this practice?  It is what is called panic buying.  I can remember moving from Buffalo, NY to Lynchburg, VA many years ago.  During one of my basketball practices I was informed that I had to shut down practice immediately because of a snow storm that was approaching.  I couldn’t believe that I had to close practice when it was just starting to flurry in Roanoke, over 50 miles away.

As I drove home on completely dry streets, I saw grocery stores packed with customers rushing in to prepare for the “big” storm.  Within hours, store shelves that once were filled with bread and milk were stripped bare.

Panic buying took an unexpected turn with this new crisis.  What item have people rushed to purchase?  What was this necessity that caused fights between grown adults and shopping carts to be filled to overflowing?  It was toilet paper!  

We are a couple of weeks into fighting this dangerous virus and what is everyone talking about?  You guessed it — toilet paper.  As I recently watched several church services streamed over the internet, the only common topic that just about every pastor mentioned was the binge buying of toilet paper.

A couple of days ago, I joined 50-75 other shoppers waiting for Walmart to open its doors.  When the doors were finally opened, I watched grown men and women race down aisles and even climb over and/or through empty shelves hoping to buy this scarce commodity.  The rush for toilet paper screeched to a halt when shoppers got to where they thought they would find their pot of gold only to find empty shelves.

Empty Shelves

Everyone I come in contact with is asking the same question related to this unusual shortage.  Why toilet paper?  Well, I wanted to see if I could find an answer to this phenomenon that I had been witnessing.  In my research, I came across an article, Here is why people are panic buying and stockpiling toilet paper to cope with coronavirus fears.

In this article, one psychologist explained this unusual behavior this way.

“It’s about ‘taking back control’ in a world where you feel out of control,” he said. “More generally, panic buying can be understood as playing to our three fundamental psychology needs.”

I quickly read through the article to find out what are man’s three fundamental psychology needs.  When I read them, I realized they are all related to how God created us and how sin has distorted and twisted His magnificent creation.  Here is why there is a rush for toilet paper around the world today. It is because man has an insatiable need for:

  1. Autonomy — the need to be in control
  2. Relatedness — panic buying is seen as “we shopping” vs “me shopping”
  3. Competence — people want to be known as “smart” shoppers

In the article another psychologist explained why people were filling their shopping carts with toilet paper.  His explanation was that the bigger the fear, the bigger the item everyone rushes to buy.  In this case, one of the biggest packages you will find in a grocery store is toilet paper.

As the entire world tries to navigate through this pandemic, one can witness the best and the worse of human nature.  I found it fascinating to read how the main reason for the rush to buy as much toilet paper as possible is man’s need to be autonomous.  The reality is that this drive to be autonomous has its origin in what happened in Eden at the beginning of human history (see Genesis 3).  Satan tempted Eve with the possibility for her to become autonomous and in complete control.

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.  For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5 (NKJV)

Throughout human history, every person is born with a sin nature.  That nature is driven by the desire to be autonomous — to be like God.  This is the driving force behind the theory of evolution.  If man is merely a  product of time and chance, then there is no supernatural being that created everything.  Man, therefore, can do whatever he desires.  To be human is to be autonomous.  He, in essence, is his own god.

Even if science indicates that there must have been a designer behind creation, the autonomous man will not allow that to even be considered.  Why?  It is because if one has to admit that there is someone who designed and created the universe, he/she is, then, accountable to that person.  Fallen man recoils at the very thought that he is accountable to someone other than himself.  The autonomous person believes that this is the only way to experience freedom.

Therefore, man must prove to himself that he is autonomous and he is in complete of his life.  The resulting action is to show the world that I can get everything I need, including toilet paper, by my own efforts.  Man, on his own, will survive any crisis by whatever it takes.  The survival of the fittest mentality is built on the idea that man must do whatever it takes to survive.  This carries with it the belief that there really isn’t any absolute right or wrong.

Unfortunately, the drive to be autonomous only leads to captivity and loss of freedom.  God created man to be not only free but also dependent.  True freedom only comes from living one’s life in total submission to the One who created him/her.

The Bible is full of proof that the only way to be free is to submit to God.  Consider the following examples.

  • Israel lived in freedom through submission to God.  Throughout the OT one finds God going before and/or fighting for His people.
  • Paul experienced true freedom but considered himself a bondservant to Christ.  He also submitted himself to God when he wrote that he could do all things through Christ who was his strength.
  • Jesus declared that we can do nothing unless we fully abide in Him.
When Jesus addressed man’s worrying over clothing, food and shelter, He told his disciples that they needed to seek His kingdom first.  Then, Jesus said all your needs will be added to your life.  What Jesus was saying was that when you seek God’s kingdom reign in your life, your needs will be met.

 

I don’t need to rush to the store to hoard toilet paper or any other product.  I merely have to trust God to meet my needs and live my life in submission to His will.  It is freeing to focus on the sovereign God of the universe and simply follow Him as He directs one’s path.  I don’t have to panic.  I don’t have to buy everything I can get my hands on.  I simply have to seek His kingdom first and watch Him provide everything I need — even toilet paper!

Principles To Live By: Part 2

By | Public Blog

 

What Can You Give?

Last week we looked at a very important life principle that is found throughout the Bible.  Simply stated, it is: one harvests what one plants!  This week I want to focus on a second life principle.  This one is closely tied to the first one.  It has real significance when it comes to how we educate future generations.

Life Principle #2:  One can only give what one possesses!

If I were to call each of my three children and tell them that I am going give each of them $10,000 next Christmas, I believe each of them would chuckle.  They would respond something like this.  Sure dad.  Even if I continued to emphatically say that I was going to do this, they wouldn’t believe it.   Why?  It is because they know that I don’t have $30,000 to my name.  It is impossible to give what one doesn’t possess.

Even though every parent understands this principle, many parents, even Christian parents, try to live as if this truth doesn’t exist.  To illustrate the fact that far too many Christians ignore this principle can be seen in looking at the average debt load most families have.  The reason why so many Christians are in debt is because they continually give stuff to their children or to themselves when they don’t possess the money needed to purchase all of it.

 

In contrast to how we often live our lives believing that we can ignore this principle, God always operates in accordance with this life principle.  He does this because He owns everything.  Consider the following passages of Scripture.

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.  Psalm 24:1 

For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.  Hebrews 3:4

For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.  1 Corinthians 10:26

The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts.  Haggai 2:8

For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine.  “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fullness.  Psalm 50:10-12

O Lord, how manifold are Your works.  In wisdom You have made them all.  The earth is full of Your possessions. Psalm 104:24

Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind? Job 12:9-10

There are many more verses that attest to the fact that God owns everything.  Because He does, He can give anything and everything to whomever He wants to.  God’s Word states that God gives:

  • grace to the humble.  James 4:6
  • wisdom to those who ask.  James 1:5
  • every good and perfect gift to His children.  James 1:17
  • us a Spirit of power, love and sound mind.  2 Timothy 1:7
  • us eternal life.  John 3:16; 17:2
  • authority to government and men.  John 19:11; Romans 13:1

Since God owns and possesses all things, He can give to anyone He pleases whatever He wants to give them.  This means that we can only give what we possess and we only possess what God sees fit to give us.  When I understand this, it changes how I manage any and every thing that I might consider to be mine.

This principle has major implications to the education we give our children.  God expects us to give our children and youth an education that is taught in the context of a biblical worldview.  The education we give our children should first and foremost lead them to know God intimately.

Dr. George Barna shared some findings that he has found from major studies he has conducted over the past 3-4 years.  Let me summarize what he has discovered as a result of this research.

Today’s Worldview Crisis

Barna explains how only 7% of adults over the age of 18 have a biblical worldview.  He further found that when broken down by generation, only 4% (1 out of 25) millennials have a biblical worldview.  Even when he looked at born again Christians, only 25% of them had a biblical worldview.

There are approximately 256 million adults in the US today.  179 million adults self-identified as Christians.  However, only 90 million are churched.  This further breaks down to 79 million adults who claim to have a biblical worldview.  Yet, the study showed that only 18 million actually have a biblical worldview.

Worldview Development

It is now known that a person’s worldview is basically formed from birth until 13 years of age.  This means that by age 13 most young people have developed their basic moral and theological foundations, faith commitments and values and habits.  The high school years are key times of testing and tweaking young people’s basic worldviews.

What implications do these findings have on the education our children are receiving?  This is where this second life principle plays a significant role.  Remember that one can only give what one possesses.  Dr. Tony Evans explains this principle very clearly when he wrote,

Children have a very spiritual reason for their existence…[Parents] are to transfer a theo-centric, God-centered worldview; that’s why He said raise them in the Lord.  Let the glasses they wear, we call that a worldview, a lens through which you view life, be constructed by the parents as they have gotten it from the Lord.

It is obvious that God expects us to give our children and youth a biblical worldview education.  As a result of doing this, He wants future generations to be fully equipped so that they will think and act from a biblical worldview.  Evans goes on to state a powerful truth.

But if parents haven’t gotten anything, they can’t give anything.  We are to transfer to them [our children] what we have gotten from the Lord.

This profound statement is also true and applies to pastors, church leaders and Christian educators.  We can only give what we possess!


Dr. Barna shares some sobering realities about today’s Christian adults.  The impact of the home on a child’s worldview development is determined by the worldview held by a child’s parents.  Barna found that the primary parenting generation (those who are parenting infants through 13-year olds) is the millennial generation.  He found that 95% of these parents have a non-biblical worldview.  This means only 5% of parents have a biblical worldview.

Barna also explains why the church does not have much of an impact on the worldview development of children and youth.  A major study on church involvement of children ages birth to 18 found that the average child attends church only 1.4 times per month.  One church that had 1231 registered children discovered that only 52 of them attended church 3 or more times per month.  It must also be noted that only 5-7% of adults teaching children and youth have a biblical worldview.

The final determining factor in what worldview is being given to children and youth is the schooling a child receives.  Here, Barna learned that 88% of children attend secular public schools and another 9% attend secular private schools.  This means that only 3% of children, of the ages when worldview is being shaped, are enrolled in biblical worldview schooling.

What Worldview Are We Giving Our Children?

We must also keep in mind that the millennial generation is also becoming the primary teaching generation in Christian schools.  This means that only 5-7% of teachers in Christian schools most likely have a biblical worldview.

Applying these findings in an effort to see the impact of Christian schools on the education of children, we can make the following conclusion.  Only 3% of children are in biblical worldview education but only 5-7% of teachers in these schools actually possess a biblical worldview.  Remember, Life Principle #2 is always true.  Parents, church leaders and educators can only give to students what they, themselves, possess.

This is why I am focusing all of my attention and energy on helping equip the next generation of parents, church leaders and educators with a biblical worldview and a biblical philosophy of education.  I leave you with the words of Kyle Idleman in his book, gods at War.  As you read this, realize that we must develop a biblical worldview so we can give it to the next generation.  Idleman wrote:

It is time to choose a god and follow him.  It is time to choose a worldview and let it remake you!

 

Principles To Live By: Part 1

By | Public Blog

 

What Are You Planting?

I have never witnessed the “panic” that impacted the whole world like the one we are experiencing today because of a microscopic virus.  I sent out a tweet last week about what I have come to better understand because of what is taking place in society today.

Man can cancel everything, spend billions, self-quarantine everyone and use the best human ingenuity and technology and it only proves one thing. Man does not control anything.  God is in complete control. What can I do?  Trust God & obey His Word!

There are two life principles woven throughout God’s Word that have gripped my heart over the past few months.  These two truths impact every area of life.  They are especially applicable to how we educate future generations.  In this week’s post I will focus on the first of these two principles.

Life Principle #1:  What one plants, one harvests!

When God created the heavens and the earth, the very first creation ordinance He established was this principle.  Every form of life that He created operates according to it.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.  Genesis 1:11-12 (NKJV)

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.  And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.  Genesis 1:20-21 (NKJV)

And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.  And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.  Genesis 1:24-25 (NKJV)

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth Genesis 1:27-28 (NKJV)

God created all life to reproduce after its own kind.  If you plant an apple tree, you will not harvest grapes from it.  Dogs don’t reproduce birds and humans only produce humans. Whatever one plants, one harvests!

This life principle doesn’t only apply to the physical reproduction of life.  It applies to everything in life.  A student who plants hours of study into a subject, will harvest a better understanding of it than the one who never studies.

This principle also applies to our stewardship.  When we plant God’s tithe (the first tenth of one’s increase) in the local church, we will harvest God’s blessings.

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.  Malachi 3:10 (NKJV)

It is my conviction that what I plant is what I treasure/value.  When I treasure something, I want to get more of it.  So, I plant it knowing that I will get a harvest after its kind.  This is why Jesus gave His followers wise advice.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…  Matthew 6:19-20 (NKJV)

Paul sums up this principle when he wrote to the church in Galatia.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. Galatians 6:7 (NKJV)


This verse declares that this life principle applies to all of life.  This truth is extremely important to the education we give our children and youth.  Whatever we plant in their minds will result in a harvest according to its kind.

I have written extensively on the fact that the worldview of one’s teachers will become the worldview of the student.  Jesus emphasized this truth when He said,

A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.  Luke 6:40 (NKJV)

Even though this life principle is found throughout scripture, too many Christians seemingly ignore it when it comes to how they educate their children.  Then they become surprised and even shocked that their children leave the faith and live by the standards of the world.

I continually ask myself some important questions.

  1. Am I living my life in line with this life principle?
  2. Do I really want to harvest the seeds that I am planting in all areas of my life?
  3. What seeds am I planting in my mind?
  4. What is being planted in my children’s hearts and minds through the education they are receiving at home, church and school?
  5. What will be the guaranteed harvest from my answer to #4?

We must make our every day decisions knowing this very important life principle.  What one plants, one harvests!

Next week we will look at life principle #2.

 

Surviving Information Overload

By | Public Blog

 

We are bombarded by more and more information every day.  One study noted that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century.  By 2013 knowledge was doubling every 13 months.  One can only imagine how fast knowledge is doubling today.

What is even more mind boggling is how much data is being produced on the internet.  It is now predicted that there will be 40 zettabytes of data available by the end of 2020.  This is a whopping 40 trillion gigabytes!  It would take a person 180 million years to download all the data that is currently on the internet.

It is hard to comprehend what is important from all the headlines that flood our minds every second.  These so-called vital facts are on topics ranging from global warming to Harry and Meghan’s exit from the Royal Family.  Let me ask you a question as an example of how difficult it is to discern fact from fiction these days.  What is the coronavirus and what is the real danger we are facing concerning it?

There is one thing for certain related to information overload — we have lost our ability to discern truth!  This is a big problem and it has significant impact on how we educate future generations.

I consider myself to be an avid reader.  It is important to keep up with all of the latest research and studies that are taking place; especially as they relate to education.  It seems like a new “best practice” is being lauded on effective teaching, leadership and/or a host of other topics every time I turn around.

How do we as Christians sift through mountains of books, articles and research reports and stay true to God’s calling on our lives?  The answer to this question is pretty simple but not so easy to accomplish.  It can be summed up in something that Ruth Bell Graham once said.

Read, read, read — but use the Bible as home base.

This became very clear to me during my graduate studies.  The amount of reading that was assigned in every subject seemed overwhelming to say the least.  I can remember reading information and listening to lectures by professors and thinking that it sounded really good.

The big question that I was constantly confronted with was, Is It True?  I found myself talking with God on many nights during my 90-mile drive form Charlottesville to Lynchburg.  I would ask God if something I had read or heard in class was really true?  It sounded so reasonable but was it biblical?

It was during those times that God brought verses of Scripture to my mind.  When this occurred, I found it much easier to filter through all the information and know what to hold on to and what to dismiss from my mind.

This caused me to let all of my professors know that I was going to critique everything that I would be studying from a biblical perspective.  Some of them questioned if I could be “objective” but they allowed me to do this.  In one class we were assigned the task of comparing and contrasting two different moral development theories.  My paper contrasted Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory with Biblical Thought.

In order to study everything from a biblical perspective, I had to spend as much time in God’s Word as I was spending in reading man’s works.  One verse of Scripture became very real to me.

And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.  Ecclesiastes 12:12 (KJV)

I still try to keep up with the latest research and trends in education.  I have addressed many topics in recent blogs that I read about in books that I recommend to others.  Some of these have been written by secular authors.  However, I must always filter what I read through the lens of Scripture.

So, how do we survive information overload but still press on to become the best at whatever God has called us to do?  This conundrum has always existed.  There were a group of believers who faced this challenge when listening to the Apostle Paul.  They didn’t want to take anybody’s word for truth without verifying it.  This is the kind of Christian God demands we be today.

These [the Bereans] were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.  Acts 17:11 (NKJV)

Those of us who have been called by God to shape the hearts and minds of the next generation must read, read, read.  But we must search the Scriptures daily to find out whether what we read is true.

The Need for a Mindshift

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MindShift Required!

I recently spent two days reading through a very interesting book published by The Association of Christian Schools International , ACSI, titled  MINDSHIFT: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education.  I always find these types of books challenging because they cause me to stop and think about the essentials of biblically based education.  I was immediately intrigued by several questions that were asked in the introduction to the book.

  1. What is distinctive about Christian education?
  2. What should teaching and learning look like in contemporary society?
  3. What knowledge and skills do today’s students need to be salt and light … in an increasingly secular society?
  4. What should Christian schools look like?
  5. How can Christian schools be relevant and nimble in a competitive marketplace?

These are definitely questions that need to asked and answered.  One of the first points I gleaned from my reading was the need to develop common language.  This has been a big concern of mine for quite some time. However, the real issue is not developing common language but identifying common meaning for the language we use. For example, the word “tolerance” is common language used by many people and groups.  It is a commonly used term.  Yet, the meaning of the word is vastly different when used by different people.

Because of this need, I want to share with you what I mean when I use the term “MindShift”.  When I went to the dictionary, I found the term defined as a change in focus and perception.  Another definition read, a shift in your mindset caused by creating something out of a fine balance between insights and innovation.  With these definitions in my mind, I started studying the various “MindShifts” that the book sets forth that Christians need to make as related to Christian education.

I want to state right up front that each area caused me to carefully consider what changes need to take place in my thinking.  I made a ton of notes and wrote down many questions as I read through the book.  With the changes that are sweeping through society, failure will be inevitable if we are not willing to make changes in some of our perceptions and points of focus.

However, I found myself looking back as much as I was looking forward.  I started to see that there is definitely a need for a major MINDSHIFT in how we educate future generations.  As I wrestled with several of the concepts that were presented, I was reminded of something the wisest man in history once wrote.

That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun…I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.  Ecclesiastes 1:9, 14 (NKJV)

We must be careful to realize that there really isn’t anything new under the sun.  Permit me to share a couple of examples with you.  A real challenge that we will face in the future is the advancement of technology and its impact on education.  In MindShift the reader is challenged to get ready for 5G.  There is no doubt about it — 5G is coming to the internet and it will impact our lives.

This, however, isn’t something new.  One of my assigned readings in my graduate studies was Alvin Toffler’s Psychology of the Future.  This essay was written in 1974.  At the time, I was writing my papers on an old “selectric typewriter”.  Toffler was challenging educators that they had to have a view of the future that included computers if they were going to give students a good education.  I have seen a lot of advancements in technology over my 50+ years in teaching.  These changes drastically changed every aspect of how I taught and students learned.

I am thankful that I don’t have to deal with ditto machines, overhead transparencies and PageMaker (one of the first presentation software programs I used).  I am looking forward to what 5G might do to enhance my work.  The need to embrace these challenges is important but it isn’t new.

Ideas presented by futurists like Rex Miller in MindShift or Alvin Toffler in Psychology of the Future always challenge me.  In fact, Toffler’s essay opens with a statement that radically impacted my philosophy of education.  He wrote,

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

This made me realize that all education must spring from a biblical image of the future.  Such an image must include the eternal perspective.  So, we must be prepared for 5G.  But, as we prepare for it, we must do so with eternity in mind.  Otherwise, we will betray our students because everything will be taught from a temporal perspective.

Another important issue that was addressed in MindShift was that of diversity.  Every single person has worth and value because he/she is an image bearer of God.  Value is not based on ethnicity, gender, intellectual or physical abilities, or any other similar things.  Once again, I suggest that this isn’t a “new” problem.  During Jesus’ ministry He broke all the diversity barriers of His day.  He was “caught” talking with a Samaritan woman.  He rebuked His disciples for trying to push children away.  He ate with sinners and prostitutes.  Jesus was the model diversity director.  In fact, Paul described Jesus as the only One who could do exceedingly above what we can think or imagine.  The reason why Paul understood this is because what Jesus did on the cross was considered impossible.  He reconciled the Jew and the Gentile, the rich and the poor, the free man and the slave — that’s diversity!

I was very fortunate growing up.  From age 14, I had the privilege of being one of only two white people working on an all-black migrant farm near my home.  I worked every summer pulling sweet corn and cutting cabbage on a 500 acre farm.  Diversity was not an issue because we all had to get the job done.  The cabbage had to be cut and packed in crates and the tractor trailer truck loaded by the end of the day.  We were co-workers who were focused on a common task.  We valued each other because of who we were and what we had to do — not by what color skin we had.

So what is my point for writing this week’s post?  It is to say that we do need a MindShift!  However, the most important change of focus must go beyond the matters that were presented in this well-written book. If we are going to be able to accurately answer the 5 questions mentioned above, the MindShift that is needed is the one that Paul wrote about  in his letters to various churches.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  Romans 12:2 (NKJV)

…fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus  Philippians 2:2-5  (NKJV)

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  Colossians 3:1-2 (NKJV)

When we experience this type of MindShift, we will be empowered to think, teach and act from a biblical worldview.  In turn, our students will see authentic Christian education lived out before their very eyes.

The Biggest Challenge In Life and Ministry

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Are You Ready?

Change and transition are a part of everyday life.  Whatever role we currently find ourselves in will change at some point in the future.  The ultimate transition comes when a person departs this life and enters eternity.  The question we must answer is not whether transition/departure will happen but when it does, will we be ready for it?

Over the past several weeks we have focused on Paul’s parting words to his son in the faith, Timothy.  Paul was ready for his departure from life to eternity when he penned these words.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.  2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NKJV)

Paul was ready for his departure because he had disciplined himself in three very important areas of life.  I have written about the first two disciplines that Paul practiced in my last two posts.  Paul fought the good fight and he finished the race.  The third characteristic of Paul’s life that is noteworthy is that he kept the faith.

Keeping the faith was the key to Paul’s success in life and ministry.  Keeping the faith is the most important thing you and I must focus on if we are going to have any hope of finishing well.  In fact, keeping the faith determines whether or not we can fight the good fight and/or finish the course.

What does it mean to keep the faith?  Dr. Tony Evans reflected on this with these words.

I didn’t walk away from my faith.  Life must close out with Jesus no matter how bad things get.  You don’t walk out on Jesus.

Life and ministry are hard.  The daily battles one faces can become seemingly overwhelming.  The pressures that seem to hit us from all sides challenge everything we stand for.  However, no matter how hard the battle, how tired we become, or how alone we find ourselves, we must keep the faith.

In order to keep the faith, we must understand what faith is.  A. W. Tozer wrote that faith is confidence in the character of God.  We all know that God is faithful.  If you were asked what does that mean, no doubt you would say something about the fact that God always keeps His Word.

Therefore, keeping the faith can be compared to staying true to God’s Word.  If we are ever tempted to leave the faith, it will result in us walking away from a biblical belief system.  We will no longer think and act from a biblical worldview.  The world and its ideas will have taken us captive (see Colossians 2:8).

Paul did not “walk out” or “walk away” from Jesus (Word) when the first sign of trouble showed up.  He didn’t “give up” on Jesus when everybody else started following the latest fad.  Paul was determined to close out life with Jesus.

One of the most dangerous obstacles to keeping the faith is human tradition.  Paul warned the Colossians about this when he told them to be careful not to be taken captive by false philosophies.  In Colossians 2:8, Paul explained that false philosophy was always according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world.  I can remember hearing my former pastor, Dr. Michael Catt, say that it is always easier to be traditional than it is to be biblical.

This is especially true when it comes to education.  Over my 50+ years in education, I have seen a lot of ideas come and go and, then, come again.  Many of these ideas included some very good and helpful elements.  The danger was, and continues to be, chasing after these at the expense of a biblical philosophy of education.  What I have seen take place far too often is that parents and educators become so focused on the latest research or “best practice” that they end up taking a biblical philosophy of education for granted.  Soon the what becomes more important than the why!

When this happens, it can become very easy to ignore or, even, deny God’s purpose for education.  In reality, we are in danger of leaving the faith.  The result is that education produces a lot of experts but few disciples of Jesus Christ.

Over the past few weeks I have been asking myself some questions.  I share them with you so that you can reflect on them and make sure that you will be ready for any transition that God may bring into your life or ministry.

  1. What is most important to you in life and ministry?
  2. Are you living primarily by tradition or God’s Word?
  3. Is a biblical worldview the foundation of your decisions that you make in life and ministry?
  4. Which is more important to you — a biblical philosophy of education or the newest trend in education?  Which are you emphasizing and giving the most time and attention to?

The good fight is getting more and more intense and it is becoming a greater challenge to stay on the right course.  It will be impossible to successfully do either of these unless we are committed to keeping the faith.

Why Did God Create You?

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The Finish Line

I find myself so busy “doing” God’s work that I don’t take time to think about this question like I should.  It is important to consider this question each and every day of our lives.  God not only created you and me but, if you are a believer, He also redeemed you.  God does not create and redeem a person without a purpose.  My friend, Pastor James McMenis, regularly shares with people that every person is a purpose with a name.  

He goes on to explain that design defines purpose.  A wrench is not designed to drive nails into a wall.  Its design determines its purpose.  So it is with you and me.  God’s design of me defines His purpose for me.

Why is it so important for each of us to remind ourselves that God has a purpose for our lives?  It is because knowing our purpose will cause us to understand the course we are to run.  God has given each of us a unique course that we are to run as we go through life and ministry.  If we never know our purpose, we will never know the course God expects us to run.  Once again, I want us to think about Paul’s parting words to young Timothy.

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.  2 Timothy 4:6-8 (KJV)

Paul told his son in the faith I have finished my course.  Dr. Tony Evans explained what Paul was saying was this.  I did all I was designed to do.  Paul completed what he was created and redeemed to do.  He had finished his course.

I ran cross country in high school.  Each day at practice the coach would map out a course that we were to run.  At the end of practice, we had to finish the course that he had laid out.  When race day came, we would travel to the race site.  Then we would get out and survey the course.  You didn’t want to get off course because you would be disqualified — even if you ran farther than required and crossed the finish line.

There was never an excuse to get off course because there were markings made to keep you on the right path.  Sometimes a white line was spray-painted on the ground.  Colored flags were placed at corners so that you knew when and in which direction to turn.  God does the same thing for you and me.  Of course, we need to spend time in His Word daily and surrender and be filled with His Spirit constantly so that we don’t miss His guidance along our course.

Stay The Course

Running a cross country race was hard.  Sometimes you had to run through rough terrain.  Some courses included steep hills that would cause your legs to ache and your lungs to feel like they were going to explode.  But you had to stay the course and you had to finish the race.  It would be tragic to expend all that energy but quit running when the finish line was in sight.  If that ever happened, you would know that all that effort was a waste because you were finished but you didn’t finish the course.

When the time comes when God might transition you from what you are doing now to something else or when it is time for Him to transition you from this life, you will want to say that you finished your course!  It would be a travesty to come to the end of life or some work and have to wonder why I lived or served in that ministry.  It is good to know that whenever God chooses to move you from one thing to another that you have completed what you were put there to do.

As you and I begin a new week, it would be wise to stop and ask ourselves a couple of questions.

  1. Why did God create me?
  2. Why did He redeem me?
  3. Am I on the course that He has set for me to run?
  4. Am I allowing anything to get me off course either in life or ministry?
  5. If God transitioned me to something else today, could I say that I have finished my course?

May Paul’s words to the Corinthian Christians ring true in our daily running of our course.

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.  1 Corinthians 9:24 (KJV)

Fighting The Good Fight

By | Public Blog, Uncategorized

 

What fights have you been involved in over the past month, week or day?  Have you had any battles at home, work, school or even church?  It seems like we are always fighting something or someone.

The Apostle Paul understood the reality of fighting battles on a daily basis.  When Paul realized that his time on earth was coming to an end, he wrote to his young son in the faith.  He summed up his life and ministry when he penned these words.

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.  2 Timothy 4:6-8 (KJV)

This week I want to share with you what God has been laying on my heart about Paul’s statement — I have fought a good fight.

Fighting battles is simply a part of living in a fallen world where all relationships have been fractured.  The question is not am I fighting a fight?  The important question is am I fighting good fights?

Think of all the fights you and I can choose to enter and are probably engaged in right now.  There are family matters that we fight about.  There are work related fights we face.  There are battles that we encounter with students and their parents.  Of course, we are all aware of the heated political fights that are in the news headlines on a daily basis.

One can argue that there are a lot of “good” causes that we need to fight about.  But when it comes to choosing the fights that we will enter into, what is the good fight  that Paul is talking about?

As I have been studying this issue and trying to discern what is the good fight, I have come to the conclusion that it is not an outward fight.  The most important fight that I am confronted with every day is an internal one.  It is the fight over what or who is controlling my mind.

My biggest battle is the one that determines what I think and believe about all areas of life.  It is a spiritual battle that I must engage in from the moment I open my eyes in the morning until I close them at the end of the day.  It is a cosmic battle of worldviews that takes place right inside my own life.

I recently read something during my morning quiet time that jumped off the page and has been front and center in my mind ever since.  These words were in a daily devotional guide by Billy Graham.  The entry for January 27 was titled, Above the Din.  It was based on Philippians 2:5 that reads, Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

Think about what Graham said when he wrote,

The world…is engaged in a gigantic brainwashing…The world’s sewage system threatens to contaminate the stream of Christian thought (emphasis mine).

Being involved in education for so many years, I would take these truths and apply them to what the world is trying to do to other people — especially our children and youth.  Therefore, I believed that the good fight was for the hearts and minds of the next generation.

However, God impressed on my heart that the real battle was for my heart and mind.  The world’s sewage system wants to contaminate my stream of Christian thought.  The devotional ended by asking a penetrating question.  Is the world shaping your mind — or is Christ?

Ever since I read this a couple of weeks ago, I have been engaged in some serious battles.  I found myself trying to shift this question away from myself.  It went something like this.

  • I know it is important to have a biblical worldview but it is more important to challenge others to develop one.
  • I have to engage in the battle for the hearts and minds of the next generation, not so much my own.  After all, the main target of every culture war is the next generation.
  • It is my duty as a citizen to fight some of the political battles of today because our country’s future is at stake.
  • How can I take the time to fight the world’s desire to brainwash me when I see so many others in worse shape than me?

This is when God laid a heavy burden on my heart.  It was as if God was asking me a question I wasn’t prepared to answer.  How can I help someone else successfully engage in the battle for his/her mind if I didn’t see my own mind as a battlefield?

It has become clear to me that if I want to be successful in a lot of important fights in life, I must first make sure that the battle for my mind is being won by Christ.  If that happens, and only when that happens, will I be prepared to fight other fights.

2 Corinthians 10:5 has taken on new meaning for me.  I must be diligent in fighting the good fight.  Every one of my thoughts must either honor Christ or be taken captive until it does!

When the war for my mind is won, it will impact every other fight that I am confronted with.  It will affect how I fight about family issues.  It influences how I fight over political matters.  It gives me the wisdom to know how to face the fights that take place in my work/ministry.  It definitely determines how successful I can be when fighting for the hearts and minds of future generations.

Are you fighting the good fight?  Is the world shaping your mind — or is it Christ?  Who’s winning the war in your mind?  I want to be like Paul when faced with the end of life here on earth.  I want to be able to say with confidence, I have fought the good fight!

Everyone Will Keep This Appointment

By | Public Blog

 

Uncertainty of Life

Recently, I have been reminded of the brevity and uncertainty of life.  Two things happened that brought these truths front and center in my life.

On January 26, 2020, the world was rocked by the news that basketball legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash.  It was later learned that 8 other people perished in that tragic accident.

Even though Bryant’s untimely death was and continues to be part of today’s headlines, there was another death that occurred a few weeks prior to this that caused me to number my days.

I can clearly remember receiving a tweet that shared the news that Lois Evans had passed away on December 30, 2019.  Mrs. Evans was the wife of Dr. Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas.

Dr. Evans preached a message a couple of weeks later that reflected on his wife’s life.  He used Paul’s words that were written to young Timothy as his text.

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.  2 Timothy 4:6-8 (KJV)

I have given much thought to Dr. Evans’ words over this past week.  They have been a sober reminder that every person who has ever lived has a time when life here on earth will end.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.  Hebrews 9:27 (KJV)

Evans said something related to this verse that caused me to sit up and take notice. He said,

How old you are is not determined by your birth date but by your death date…Many people think they are younger but they are older than they think.

As I contemplated the brevity and uncertainty of life in light of Scripture, I also realized that these same truths apply to one’s ministry.  There will come a day when what you and I are doing right now will end.  Even though our lives may go on, our ministries will change.Just as life is a vapor, so too is one’s opportunity to serve the Lord in a particular work.

Just as life is a vapor, so too is one’s opportunity to serve the Lord in a particular work.  As I look back over my years in education, I realize now that I never knew when God would change how He would use me.

I have often thought that one of the greatest threats to productive service to the Lord was experience and success.  Whenever God put me in a new position, I found myself praying and looking to Him for all of the strength and wisdom that I needed in the new role.  However, as time passed and I became “better” at the job, sometimes my dependence on Him waned.

Today marks the start of a new week for each of us.  It is another opportunity to serve the Lord in a way that will bring Him glory.  Here are a few questions I have recently asked myself.

  1. Do I understand the brevity of life and my opportunity to serve the Lord again today?
  2. Am I as dependent on God to lead my ministry as the day I began it?
  3. As each day passes and my departure (both life and ministry) draws nearer, do I have greater spiritual clarity in all that I am and do?
  4. What needs to change so that I am prepared for my appointment that God has set for me?

Over the next couple of weeks I want to share with you some things that God has brought to my attention from Paul’s good bye to his son in the faith that is recorded in 2 Timothy 4.