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Who Are You?

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This is the question that was asked Coach John Harrison in the Kendrick Brothers’ new film, Overcomer.  The coach hesitated and didn’t really know how to answer the question.  When he tried to answer the question, it was obvious he was struggling with his true identity.  Harrison’s reaction is typical of many people living in today’s mixed up world.

This past Thursday night my wife and I had the privilege of attending the premiere showing of this new movie.  As I watched, I realized that one’s identity is extremely important in order to able to make sense out of life.  When I considered some of the alarming statistics that are plaguing society, it became evident that there is an identity crisis among people of all ages.  Consider just a few of the statistics  that show that there is an identity crisis.

  • More and more young people say that they are confused about their gender.
  • Parents are giving their newborn babies gender neutral names so that their children can choose their own gender later in life.
  • There was a 30% increase in suicide deaths between 2000 and 2016.
  • There was a 9.6% increase in drug overdoses from 20016 to 2017.
  • 89% of 16-29 year olds in the UK claim their life lacks purpose or meaning.

Over the past couple of weeks the Christian world has been shocked by the announcements by influential “Christian” leaders that they no longer considered themselves to be Christians.  One such individual was a well-known author and pastor who was a leader in the purity movement.  While the other person was a famous songwriter for several popular music groups.  As I read their statements, it became obvious that they had lost their identity and were searching for some kind of meaning and significance.

This brings be back to the premiere showing of Overcomer.  The Kendrick Brothers wove together several story lines into a compelling film that captured and held my full attention from start to finish.  The film clearly shows that a loss of identity can happen to a young, troubled teenage girl or to a mature, Christian man.  The movie reminded me that the things of this world cannot provide anyone with intrinsic value and inherent worth.

The answer to finding one’s identity and significance in life can only be found in one way.  This all-important way was succinctly stated in one sentence that was repeated throughout the film.  Let your Creator define you!  As a new school year begins throughout North America, it is critical that every young person understands God’s big story of life.  This is called a biblical worldview.  The home, church and school must be intentional and making sure that the next generation knows that they are created in God’s image and, thus, have inherent worth and intrinsic value.  Knowing God and knowing themselves, according to Jonathan Edwards, are the two most important pieces of knowledge that one can obtain.

I walked away from Overcomer last Thursday night with a fresh awareness of who God made me to be which gives an understanding of what He wants me to do.  I want to recommend — NO, I want to strongly urge every parent, church leader and educator to attend a showing of Overcomer when it opens this Friday, August 23rd in theaters across the country.  It is also extremely important to have as many young people as possible see this film.

Click here to see the trailer and find out where the film is showing near you.  I am asking you to share this information with as many people as possible through as many means as possible.  We must let our Creator define each one of us!

 

Created In God’s Image

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In last week’s blog post I shared two very important statements that we need to remember as we get ready to start a new school year.  The first statement explained the goal of traditional, man-centered education.

Traditional schooling prepares students for more schooling that will end up getting them a job!

The second statement centered on the goal of kingdom education.  We must remember that kingdom education exists only  when God reigns as king in the entire educational process.

Schooling must prepare children to fulfill God’s ultimate purpose for why He created man in His image.

One reader commented how we can get caught up in the assembly line of education and forget what the goal is.  Another subscriber wrote that we also forget that education is indoctrination.  Still another reader added that traditions are often a blessing, but sometimes, if they’re not true to biblical principles, they can be chains that enslave the mind and the spirit.

It is so easy to get caught up in the human traditions that shape so much of education today.  As Christians, we want to prepare our children to fulfill God’s ultimate purpose for why He created man in His image.  Francis Shaeffer stressed the importance of knowing God’s purpose for man when he wrote,

Man, made in the image of God, has a purpose – to be in relationship to God, Who is there. Man forgets his purpose and thus he forgets who he is and what life means.

Too often, we use phrases and cliches without ever clarifying the meaning of them.  When this happens, everyone is free to define the terms according to their own belief system.

First, I need to clarify what I mean by the term education.  When I use this term, I am referring to the multi-faceted process of preparing children and youth for the future.  It takes place in the home, church and school.  Too often, we immediately equate education with schooling.  Schooling plays a major role in the educational process but it is only one part of the process.

Second, we must answer this question as we start a new school year.  What was God’s ultimate purpose for creating man in His image?  This is not a new question and Christians have tried to answer this question in the past.  In 1647, the Westminster Assembly developed the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  The very first question was, What is the chief end of man?  Their answer provides us with insight into what the goal of education, including schooling, must be.  It simply states,

Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.

I have combined these various concepts into another biblical principle of education.  It reads,

The education of children and youth must equip them to fulfill God’s highest purpose for man to glorify Him and enjoy Him for life and eternity.

Again, it is important to dissect this statement in order to understand its full meaning.  We all know that God’s Word clearly states that we are to glorify God in everything (1 Corinthians 10:31).  However, we must fully understand how a person actually glorifies God.  Dr. Gary Inrig gives a wonderful explanation of what it means to glorify God.

One’s glory is one’s reputation…God’s glory is not just His reputation but His revealed character, the display of His attributes…To glorify someone therefore is to increase his reputation by revealing his true nature…to glorify God is to live in such a way that His character is displayed and His praise is increased.

God’s glory is who He is; it is His true nature.  This means that one cannot glorify God unless he/she regularly sees and knows God’s glory.  I have discovered that the only way that I can know God’s true nature (His glory) is if He reveals Himself to me.  The good news is that God reveals Himself to us in three ways. God reveals Himself to man:

  • in a general way through Creation
  • in a written way through His Word
  • in a personal way through His Son

Everything a young person studies at home, church and school should guide them into a deeper knowledge of God.  This includes reading both books that God has written and given to us.  These books are Creation and the Bible.  As students grow in their knowledge of God, they will see His glory.  As they see His glory, they can reflect His glory and, therefore, fulfill God’s ultimate purpose for creating them in God’s image — to glorify God in everything they think, say and do.

Here are some questions we need to ask ourselves so that the education we give our children will prepare them to fulfill God’s ultimate purpose for why He created man in His image.

  1. How can this be done in the home?  What do parents need to do?
  2. What is the church’s role in this process?  What does the church need to do?
  3. How can this be done in the school?  How does every teacher, coach and/or administrator accomplish this?

As you answer these questions, share your thoughts with other parents, church leaders and teachers.  The home, church and school must join together and provide our children and youth with an education that guides them to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes (character) that will enable them to glorify God in whatever they think, say and/or do.

 

The Danger of Being Traditional

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I can remember as if it was yesterday.  My former pastor, Dr. Michael Catt, was preaching a message and made a profound statement.  The statement was actually a quote that he had heard Jim Cymbala, Pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle, say.

It is easier to be TRADITIONAL than it is to be BIBLICAL!

As soon as I heard these words, my mind immediately went to a warning that Paul gave to the Colossian Christians.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.  Colossians 2:8 (KJV)

This simple verse carries with it several deep truths about how easy it is for Christians to be taken captive.  Here are some takeaways for us to contemplate.

  • Every person has been taken or is being taken captive by some philosophy/beliefs/ideas.
  • Christians can be taken captive by false philosophy/beliefs/ideas.
  • When a person is taken captive by false ideas, the false ideas are always patterned after human tradition.

In my estimation, there is no aspect of present day life that is more based on human tradition than schooling.  So much of what we do, when it comes to the schooling our children receive, is based on human tradition.  I will not take the time to make a lengthy list of all the traditions that make up how schooling in done in our culture.  However, we must understand it is easier to be traditional when it comes to schooling than it is to be biblical.  If fact, in many instances, even Christians will be critical if Christian educators attempt to do schooling in a completely biblical way.

The following example is provided to prove my point.  Last week I was conducting a staff development seminar at a Christian school.  At one point in the seminar, I tried to define the term education.  Everyone seemed to agree that education is a multi-faceted process that includes the home, church and school.  It was also agreed that all education prepares an individual for something in the future.  Education is future focused.

With those important points agreed upon, I asked the staff a series of questions.  As soon as I asked each question, a chorus of voices immediately responded in unison.  The questions focused on what most schooling prepared children for.  The discussion went like this.

Question 1:  What does preschool education prepare children for?  Answer:  Kindergarten

Question 2:  What does kindergarten prepare children for?  Answer:  1st Grade

Question 3:  What does elementary school prepare children for?  Answer:  Middle School

Question 4:  What does middle school prepare children for?  Answer:  High School

Question 5:  What does high school prepare children for?  Answer:  College

Question 6:  What does college prepare students for?  Answer:  A Job

In other words, traditional schooling prepares students for more schooling that will end up getting them a job!  It is very easy for any school, including a Christian school or homeschool, to be traditional when it comes to preparing students for the future.  Very good programs can be developed that will prepare students for the “next level” of schooling and eventually ensure them of being accepted into good colleges or universities.  The reason why it is so easy to follow after this tradition is that parents believe that this is what good schooling is all about.  They have been captured by ideas that follow the tradition of human opinion when it comes to the purpose of schooling.

However, it is much more difficult to be biblical when it comes to schooling.  How would one answer the six questions above biblically?  The answers would definitely not be to simply prepare the children for more schooling.  I believe the answer would go something like this.

Schooling must prepare children to fulfill God’s ultimate purpose for why He created man in His image.

This is a powerful statement that most Christian parents, church leaders and educators would quickly say amen to.  Unfortunately, I have found few Christians who could clearly describe what that ultimate purpose is.  This is because so few Christian adults have received training that helped them develop a biblical worldview.  Thus, they have to try and explain that statement from a secular, humanistic worldview perspective.

As a new school year is upon us here in most of North America, it would be a good time for parents, church leaders and educators to sit down and give careful thought to what should biblically-based education prepare our children for.  Then, we need to develop biblically-based strategies to make sure this takes place in the home, church and school.   We may discover that we need to make some drastic changes to how we educate future generations.  I would love to know your thoughts on this.  So, leave a comment below.

Created to Know God

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Throughout the Scriptures one can clearly see that God created man to know Him.  J.I. Packer understood this truth when he wrote,

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.

This means that knowing God is the key to understanding our ultimate purpose.  Once we know the ultimate purpose for our existence, life can be lived with meaning.  Consider the following statement.

Man, made in the image of God, has a purpose – to be in relationship to God, who is there. Man forgets his purpose and thus he forgets who he is and what life means.  Francis Shaeffer

When we understand our ultimate purpose behind our existence, we can then understand the purpose that should drive our educational efforts for our children and youth.  Simply put, the education we give our children must lead them to know God fully.  However, the only way our children can know God is by Him revealing Himself to them.  God has provided three ways in which He reveals Himself to man.

Of course, we know that it is important for our children to know Jesus personally and to read and study the Bible. However, we often fail to realize that God can also be known by studying His creation.  Two passages of Scripture stress the importance of knowing God by studying what He made.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.  Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.  There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.  Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.  Psalm 19:1-4 (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, so that they are without excuse.  Romans 1:20 (NKJV)

It is extremely important that every subject that our children study leads them to know God more fully.  The late Dr. Albert Greene stated it well.

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.

It is a growing conviction of mine that knowing God must be the driving force behind the education we provide our children and youth at home, church and school.  As we prepare for the new school year, it is important that this emphasis play a major role in the professional development of our staff.

This is the reason why I developed the KEM Prime Membership that allows schools to subscribe to a wide variety of resources designed for this very purpose.  It is my desire to see the next generation of educators know, understand and be committed to a biblical philosophy of education so that future generations will fulfill their purpose by knowing God and glorifying God is all they think, say and do.

Be Careful How You Plan

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While I was at LifeWay Christian Resources, I participated in a leadership retreat that was led by Neil Anderson.  It was at this retreat I learned some valuable principles that need to be followed when planning for the future.  I want to share these principles with you as many Christian school leaders will be planning for the upcoming school year.

Anderson shared with our group the typical planning process that Christian ministries follow.  He patterned this process after the planning process Joshua followed when Israel was going to defeat Ai.  Here is what Joshua did in planning an attack on Ai.  Keep in mind that they had just come off of the amazing victory at Jericho.

Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Aven, on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, “Go up and spy out the country.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.  And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not let all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not weary all the people there, for the people of Ai are few.” So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai.  And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water.  Joshua 7:2-5 (NKJV)

Many times we plan for the future much like Joshua did in the passage.  The steps, according to Anderson, go like this.

  1. Do extensive research
  2. Develop a plan based on the results from the research
  3. Execute the plan

When the results turn out negative, leaders tend to think that the research must have been faulty.  So additional research is done and these steps are repeated.  Anderson pointed out that God wasn’t mentioned in the planning process conducted by Joshua and his leadership team.  As we discussed this process, we noted that many times Christian leaders add a fourth step.  The process looks like this.

  1. Do extensive research
  2. Develop a plan based on the results of the research
  3. Pray and ask God to bless our plan
  4. Execute the plan

However, if the results are not what we expected or wanted, we go back and do further study or research.  It was at this point that Anderson suggested a better process that Joshua followed after this terrible defeat(Joshua 7:6-8:35).  The second planning process resulted in victory.

  1. Expose and confess any sin in the camp
  2. Ask God for His plan
  3. Execute God’s plan completely
  4. Praise the Lord for any victory achieved

If Christian leaders are told that they are going to be involved in a major planning retreat, the first two things that they grab to take with them is a calendar and a calculator.  However, it may be more advantageous to take two other items with them when participating in a planning retreat — a Bible and knee pads!

Unfortunately, the Israelites did not learn from their disastrous plan on how to capture Ai.  Right after the Lord gave them victory over Ai they fell prey to taking action after their own reasoning once again.  In Joshua 9, Israel was tricked by the Gibeonites.  Again, the results were devastating.  God’s Word records why they failed again in executing a plan to deal with this group of people.

Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord.  Joshua 9:14 (NKJV)

As we plan for the future, lets not make the same mistake that Israel made.  Research can be valuable but it is primarily based on human wisdom and opinion.  There is nothing wrong with being data/research informed.  However, our plans must be from the Lord and Bible-driven.  Here are some additional verses that provide us with good counsel as we plan for the future.

The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.  Psalm 33:11 (NKJV)

Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts (plans) will be established.  Proverbs 16:3 (NKJV)

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)

There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand. Proverbs 19:21 (NKJV)

May God direct each of you as you strive to fulfill His plan for your life and ministry.

Are You Really Free?

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In a couple of days we will celebrate July 4th in the United States.  This date marks a time in history when we declared our independence from Great Britain.  For the past 243 years, the citizens of the United States have fought to maintain their freedom that they cherished so much.

Even though we may be physically free from any tyrannical rule that is so common around the world today, we can still lose our freedom and be held captive in another more devastating way.  Paul warned the Colossian church about the danger of losing one’s freedom.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.  Colossians 2:8 (NKJV)

The word “cheat” means “to plunder” or “take one captive”.  Christians may live in a free country and be held captive at the same time.  The captivity that Paul warns us about is a mental and spiritual one.  Far too many Christians are living in captivity today as they have been cheated through philosophy that  follows the tradition of men and the basic principles of the world.  Simply put, the majority of Christians today have been taken captive by a false worldview.

When we are captive to false ideas, we are forced to live our lives in bondage and must follow the bidding of the culture that is in control.  In his sermon this morning, Pastor James McMenis, talked about how Christians many times find themselves living as pawns and not kings.  He defined a pawn as one who must advance another person’s agenda.  In chess, a pawn is described as one of eight least valuable pieces of the game.  The Cambridge dictionary describes a pawn as one who is controlled by others for their own advantage.

This is exactly what happens when we are taken captive by false ideas.  We end up as pawns of  the culture and are controlled by the false worldview for the enemy’s advantage.  What causes us to be taken captive by a false worldview?  There are many ways that a Christian can be taken captive by false ideas.  However, the most common way is through education in general and schooling specifically.  The majority of children and youth from Christian homes are educated in a secular system of education that is determined to make them captives of a secular worldview.  Once they have been taken captive by a secular worldview, they will make their decisions based on that false worldview.  They become pawns of the world.

Even though we may be pawns of a false worldview, we can find true freedom by following another one of Paul’s admonitions to the church.  In his second letter to the church in Corinth, Paul writes,

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.  2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NKJV)

When a Christian finds himself/herself captive to false ideas, the only way to freedom is to go on offense and take each and every thought one has about every area of life captive to Christ.  Since Jesus is the Word, this passage is telling us that our thoughts must be in line with God’s Word.  True freedom comes from thinking biblically about all of life.  In Romans 12:2, Paul exhorts Christians to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  This causes us to no longer be pawns (controlled) of the world.

Of course, this requires that we must read, study and meditate on God’s Word each and every day.  Jesus stressed how important abiding in God’s Word is to His followers.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  John 8:31-32 (NKJV)

Here Jesus is talking to Christians, those who believed Him.  He urges them to not be merely believers but become His disciples.  According to these verses, a disciple of Jesus Christ is one who abides in His Word.  What is the result of becoming a disciple?  A disciple will know the truth and be set free.  Free from what?  Free from being captive to false ideas and living a life in bondage to the principles of the world.

At a time when we celebrate our political freedom from tyrannical rule, lets make our freedom complete by renewing our minds, taking every thought captive to the Word, and becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Then, lets provide our children with a kingdom education that will lead them to think and act from a biblical worldview.  It’s time to celebrate our freedom in Christ!

 

Being a Christian in Babylon

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Last week I had the privilege of speaking at the Kingdom School Institute in Plano, Texas.  Dr. Larry Taylor and I have co-directed the KSI for the past 17 years.  In my closing challenge, I spoke on the topic of the Christian school in a Babylonian culture.  Irwin Lutzer in his book, The Church in Babylon, explains today’s culture this way.

The culture is becoming increasingly polarized as the world around us becomes more comfortable admitting that secularization, which had been an undercurrent, is now mainstream.

There are three options that we have as Christians as we conduct our everyday lives in this hostile culture.  We can

  • assimilate into the culture.
  • isolate from the culture.
  • engage the culture.

Of course, God does not want His people to become like the pagan culture around us; nor does He want us to isolate ourselves from the culture.  God expects us to engage the culture by being an example of Christlikeness in everyday life.  As Lutzer puts it, we are called to infiltrate without being contaminated.  The question is how do we do this?

One of my favorite passages in Scripture is Psalm 101.  I have gleaned several things from this Psalm that I have used as a guide for my life, home and ministry.  There are 10 essential principles that we need to know and practice if we are going to be salt and light in the world in which we live.

It Must Start In The Home

If we are going to thrive as Christians in a Babylonian culture, we must realize that living the Christian life must start at home.  So many times people try to act spiritual when they are out in the public and they don’t make an intentional effort to strive for Christlikeness at home.  In verse 2 of this Psalm David begins explaining how he was determined to honor God with his life with these words.  I will walk within my house…  What you practice at home will carry over into your “public” life.

Integrity Required

David said,

I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.  Psalm 101:2 (NKJV)

The word “perfect” can be translated “integrity”.  Another translation says that David would walk at home with integrity of heart.  Integrity is a missing ingredient in today’s world.  Everyone seems to wear a mask whenever they are out in public in an effort to look good to those they interact with.  Billy Graham was a man of integrity and he once said,

Integrity means that if our private life was suddenly exposed, we’d have no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed. Integrity means our outward life is consistent with our inner convictions.

Pure Eyes

Jesus told His disciples that the eye was the window to one’s life.  When in Babylon, it is absolutely necessary that we guard our eyes.  Everywhere we go and every direction that we turn is filled with images that are impure and are out there to draw us into wickedness.  David knew what the consequences were when the eyes were allowed to wander.  Therefore, he would guard his eyes.

I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.  Psalm 101:3 (NKJV)

Another translation says that David would not set anything worthless before his eyes.  What would happen if each one of us would make a sign with these words on it and set it right above our TV screens, computers and/or on our smart phones?  There would probably be times when we will have to turn the channel or close an app.  We must guard our eyes while living in Babylon.

Clean Hearts

When one has pure eyes, he/she can have a clean heart.  This is how David was determined to have a clean heart.

A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness.  Psalm 101:4 (NKJV)

To keep one’s heart clean requires discipline.  However, the reward for having a clean heart is worth the effort.  Jesus told His disciples that those who have pure hearts can “see” God.  This doesn’t mean that we will visibly see God.  It means that we will understand Him better.  When faced with trying to solve a problem in math and all of a sudden you understand the answer, we often say oh, I see.  The answer doesn’t suddenly appear on the paper.  “I see” means that I know how to solve the problem.

Gossips Not Allowed

Do you know anyone who is always negative and likes to talk about other people all the time?  I am sure that David must have encountered people like that in his life.  He also knew that he couldn’t allow them to have influence in his life.

Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him I will destroy.  Psalm 101:5 (NKJV)

Now, this verse is not telling us to go out and physically destroy gossips.  But we must be agents that stop it from happening.  What would happen if you are talking with some friends and one person starts gossiping about someone and you simply said, if you haven’t talked to that person about this, you need to go to them and not tell us?  Better still, what would happen if you said, I am going to get with that person and let them know what is being said about him/her?  I think it would destroy the gossip pretty fast.

When I was an administrator at a school, I would have parents come and tell me something “terrible” that one of my staff members had supposedly done or said.  My response was always that they should go and meet with the staff person personally.  Then I added that as soon as I was through with our conversation I was going to contact that staff person and let them know that the parent was going to contact them about a problem.  When it was known that I would do this, it stopped a lot of gossip coming my way.

Avoid Pride

As we try to live a godly life in a Babylonian culture, pride can crop up very easily.  All pride is destructive but spiritual pride may be the most dangerous of all prides.  Once again, David gives us godly counsel regarding pride.

The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, him I will not endure. Psalm 101:5 (NKJV)

I believe it is important to apply this verse to ourselves before we condemn others.  It is so easy to have pride creep into our lives — especially when things are going well and we are tasting some success.  Whether it is our own lives or those we come in contact with, we can’t allow arrogance and haughtiness to get its foot in the door of our lives.

Choose Heroes Wisely

Having heroes is an important aspect of life.  However, having wrong heroes only brings destruction.  Unfortunately, in today’s Babylon the culture wants us to make celebrities our heroes.  Most of them may be very talented and popular but may lack any semblance of godly character.  David chose his heroes wisely.

My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me;  Psalm 101:6 (NKJV)

It is very important that we find men and women of faith and look to them as examples to emulate.  By choosing these people as our heroes, we may end up being someone’s hero!

Godly Counsel Needed

One of the realities of life is that everyone has an opinion and would be more than willing to share it with you.  We must be careful when seeking or receiving advice while living in Babylon.  This is because most people’s advice will be of this world.  David made it an important practice to seek godly counsel.

He who walks in a perfect way, he shall serve me.  Psalm 101:6 (NKJV)

Another translation says he who walks in a “blameless” way will “minister” to me.  I want those who are exhibiting a close walk with the Lord to counsel me.  Bad advice will only bring heartache.

No False Teachers 

We live in a secular world that operates according to a secular worldview.  This worldview ignores or denies God and, therefore, leads to false teachers.  David faced this challenge and guarded himself against all error.

He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who tells lies shall not continue in my presence.  Psalm 101:7 (NKJV)

Who is teaching you?  An even more important question is, who are you allowing to teach your children?  A secular worldview is based on human opinion and lies.  We cannot allow false teaching into our homes and we can’t give false teachers access to our children’s hearts and minds.

Destroy Evil

David closes this Psalm with these words.

Early I will destroy all the wicked of the land, that I may cut off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord. Psalm 101:8 (NKJV)

Every morning David was committed to destroying wickedness in his life and in his community.  We, too, have to begin each day crying out to the Lord that He would keep us pure while in Babylon and judge the evil doers that are trying to destroy society.  If we are faithful to these 10 principles, we can infiltrate without being contaminated!

The Importance of Fathers

By | Public Blog, Uncategorized

Yesterday was Father’s Day in the United States.  I was privileged to preach a Father’s Day message at my church here in the Atlanta, GA area.  As I prepared the message, I realized the important role that God expects fathers to play in raising their children.  There is no doubt about it, when God designed the family, he determined that men were to be the home’s leaders and that they were to perform a very important function.

Most of us have read these words from Deuteronomy.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.   You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.  Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NKJV)

God has a plan for the home that we must understand and strive diligently to follow.  Pastor Brian Haynes in his book, The Legacy Path, makes this point.

Passing on a legacy of biblical faith to the next generation has always been a part of God’s plan.

Passing on a legacy of biblical faith requires fathers to lead the way.  When God chose to make Israel His people, He emphasized that fathers would be the nation’s foundation.

As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.  No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.  Genesis 17:4-5 (NKJV)

God chose Abraham to be the father of a great nation.  Again, I quote Haynes who wrote,

In His sovereignty God constructs the foundation of biblical faith in the heart of a righteous man. Abraham becomes a father who is a conduit for God’s spiritual formation plan for generations…In a sense – no father, no legacy of faith.

One finds God emphasizing the important role that fathers are to play throughout the Bible.  Consider these examples.

He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments; and may not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not [c]set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.  Psalm 78:5-8 (NKJV)

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4  (NKJV)

The prophet Jeremiah records how God was sending judgement because an entire generation of His people had turned to worshiping Baal.  In this passage, God stresses how fathers led to this devastating condition.

Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, but they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baals, which their fathers taught them  Jeremiah 9:13-14 (NKJV)

One of the key principles behind kingdom education is the truth that the education of children and youth is the primary responsibility of parents.  Even though this applies to both fathers and mothers, these passages, and others, make it clear that fathers are supposed to be the leaders in educating their children biblically.  Irwin Lutzer in his book, The Church in Babylon, explains that fathers were key if Israel was to survive captivity.

…fathers were charged with teaching children the Word of God. And God knew that with strong fathers, grounded in the Word of God, these families could survive paganism…parents (particularly the father) are held accountable by God for the education of their children.

Today, God’s design for the family is under heavy attack.  One of the enemy’s strategic initiatives is to remove fathers as the leaders in their homes.  This effort is not new.  At first, people who held to the conviction that husbands/fathers were to be the leaders in their homes were accused of being chauvinistic. This term meant that they had a superiority attitude toward women.

Now, if one holds to this biblical design for the home, he is called a misogynist. This term is even stronger and describes a person as one who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women.  Much of this hostility has been caused by fathers who have misunderstood and abused their leadership roles in their homes.

We must go back to the beginning to understand God’s design for the family and how a father is to lead it.  We need to look at Genesis 2 to fully understand God’s design for the family.

  • In Genesis 2:7, we find that God created man (Adam) in His image .
  • Verses 8-17 explains how God placed Adam in a garden and God gave him specific instructions about the trees in the garden.

Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.  Genesis 2:16-17 (NKJV)

  • Then God says that it is not good for man to be alone.  So, He took one of Adam’s ribs and created woman.
  • In verses 23 &24, God ordains the marriage relationship to be between a man and a woman.

This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.  Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be[k] joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  Genesis 2;23-24 (NKJV)

Every thing is very good until we come to Genesis 3.  Here we find the account of the Fall.  Consider these highlights to what happened that dreadful day in the garden.  It is here we can understand how God sees fathers in His plan.

  • 3:1 The serpent said to the woman
  • 3:4 The serpent said to the woman
  • 3:6 When the woman saw that the tree was good…she took from its fruit and ate
  • 3:6 She gave to her husband

Then God comes walking through the garden.  I find what happened at this point to be very unexpected.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”  So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”  Genesis 3:9-11 (NKJV)

The woman was the one who was tempted and deceived by the serpent.  Yet, God did not ask these questions of her but of Adam.  Husbands/fathers need to understand how God looks at their roles as leaders in the home.

God has given men the position of leadership in the home.  It is not a position of superiority, privilege, rank or importance.  It is a position of responsibility and accountability.

Go back and re-read Psalm 78:5-8 and Ephesians 6:4 remembering that a father’s position in the home is one of responsibility and accountability.  This will lead to humility and a realization that fathers need God’s strength and wisdom to fulfill their God-given assignment.

There is a need for fathers to be the leaders in their homes.  In closing, consider Haynes’ words.

Our kids need to SEE what it looks like to follow Christ more than they need to HEAR what it is like…How does your life describe Christianity to your children?

The Danger Of A Bad Foundation

By | Public Blog, Uncategorized

All education is built on one of two foundational beliefs that will shape all that takes place throughout the educational process.  Either man will build an educational system on the fear of the Lord or on no fear of the Lord.  Because of man’s sinful nature, our natural bent is to ignore the fear of the Lord in all areas of life.

The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.  Psalm 36:1 (KJV)

There is no fear of God before their eyes.  Romans 3:18 (KJV)

In contrast to this, Scriptures tell us that the key to true education is based on the fear of the Lord.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Proverbs 1:7 (KJV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.  Proverbs 9:10 (KJV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endureth for ever.  Proverbs 111:10

Unfortunately, far too many Christians apply this principle only to their religious compartment of their lives.  The fear of the Lord is something that is supposed to guide what we learn at church and, maybe, at home.  However, what one learns at school is not based on fearing God.  In fact, God is most likely ignored when it comes to the study of the majority of academic subjects.  This is even true in far too many Christian schools.

The result of not fearing God in all of our educational efforts is devastating.  Here is just a small sample of what happens when the fear of the Lord is not the foundation of the education we give our children and youth.

  • A US Supreme Court justice states that a woman who exercises her constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy is not a “mother”
  • A trans biological male wins the NCAA’s women’s track championship
  • One state governor publicly invites women to come to that state and have their abortions there
  • A person states that there is no difference in value between a human and a dolphin
  • A 17 year old girl is euthanized legally because life is not worth the suffering
  • A TV host tells the LGBTQ to embrace their sexuality because God did not make mistakes
  • Mass killings of innocent people is becoming commonplace around the world
  • One study reports that 27% of children in one state ages 12-17 are “gender non-conforming”

What is somewhat surprising about these conditions is that Christians seemed shocked at what is happening in today’s secular society.  The truth of the matter is that this is merely the result of educating our children and youth in a secular, man-centered system.

In 1984, Francis Shaeffer warned that this would happen if Christians did not take a stand for biblical worldview education.

And now when our culture is all but lost, can we expect anything but future disaster in the form of a complete moral breakdown and the rise of a new humanistic authoritarianism if we do not take a stand?

The Russian journalist and philosopher Fyodor Dostoevsky made the famous statement, “If there is no God, then everything is permissible.”  This has to be the end result of ignoring or denying God when educating our children and youth.  If there is no God, then,

  • man is the result of time and chance
  • there can be no absolute right and wrong
  • man, therefore, is autonomous
  • man, alone, determines morality

As one writer put it,  the problem with this line of thinking is that there is a God and he has established boundaries and hierarchies, and this goes for both the culture, home, and his church. To tamper with God’s design is to go to war with God himself.  In fact, without God, nothing can be evil because if there were, it would mean that there has to be something that is universally good.

I am thankful for all the good work and resources that are available to parents, church leaders and Christian educators that are designed to make their efforts more effective.  It is important that we learn from research and try to use the best methods of teaching as we try to impact our children’s hearts and minds.  However, there must be a greater emphasis and ongoing effort on developing a strong biblical worldview and a biblical philosophy of education.

It is my heart’s desire to do all I can to help parents, church leaders and school leaders keep the fear of the Lord front and center in their educational efforts to prepare the next generation for the future.  Every resource that has been developed and uploaded to KEM’s subscription website is designed to do this very thing.  Thank you for your support and prayers as we engage in the battle for the hearts and minds of our children.

What Grade Would You Receive?

By | Public Blog, Uncategorized

It is the end of another school year here in the United States.  At this time of year, the majority of students will be required to take a final exam in each subject that they have studied throughout the year.  It is often a time of stress for both student and teacher alike.  How students score on their final assessments will determine what grade and/or courses they will be able to take in the future.

Final exams are not limited to students who are still in school.  As adults, we all face similar things in our work.  I can remember how I received an annual performance review for different positions that I have held over the years.  These performance reviews determined whether or not I would remain in my current position and/or my compensation for the future.

There is a verse that has weighed heavily on my heart for a couple of decades related to the concept of taking a final exam or undergoing an annual performance review.  Paul provides his readers with some amazing insight into his motivation in ministry when he wrote the following to the Colossian Christians.

Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Colossians 1:28 (NKJV)

Paul’s preaching and teaching had one goal in place.  Everything he did was aimed at seeing every person he influenced becoming more mature in Jesus Christ.  In fact, this must be the goal for every Christian in his/her work here on earth.  This is what parenting is all about.  It is what teaching and preaching should target at all times.  It is what every business leader should strive to do.  This is what continually motivates me as I serve the Lord through the work of Kingdom Education Ministries.  Every thing a Christian does should be done in such a way that it will cause others to become more mature in Christ.

Let me apply this principle to those who are involved in Christian school education.  The following diagram illustrates the biblical structure for the various staff responsibilities in a school.

This diagram illustrates the servant leadership that is required of all those involved in the operation of a Christian school.  However, it also shows how Colossians 1:28 applies to various people in the school.  All of the board and staff members have some influence on the students’ spiritual maturity.  However, the school board and administration do not directly influence the spiritual formation of the students.

The school board is directly responsible for the spiritual development of the head of school.  The head of school is responsible for the spiritual development of the administrative team.  In turn, the administrative team members are directly responsible for the spiritual growth of the faculty.  Finally, the faculty are directly involved in the spiritual maturity of the students.  With this in mind, here are the final exam questions for the people serving in each of the these areas of a Christian school.

  1. Board members: How has the head of school matured in Christ this past year under your leadership?
  2. Head of school:  How have the members of the administrative team matured in Christ this past year under your leadership?
  3. Administrative team members:  How has each faculty member matured in Christ this past year under your leadership?
  4. Faculty members:  How have the students in your class or on your team matured in Christ this past year because they were under your teaching and leading?

Similar questions can be asked of parents and church leaders.

  1. Parents: How have your children become more mature in Christ because of your teaching, admonishing and warning at home?
  2. Church leaders:  How have the staff members of the church matured in Christ who have been under your leadership this year?
  3. Church leaders and teachers:  How have your members shown spiritual growth due to your influence on their lives this past year?

I believe the most important evaluation and assessment that needs to take place in homes, churches and schools is not of the children and youth.  The most important evaluation that must be made is how have we, parents, church leaders and teachers, done in helping those we teach and lead be more mature in Christ.  If you had to present your children or students to the Lord right now, what grade would God give you in preparing them to stand before Him?