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We Don’t Need Reform or Do We?

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A Demand For Change

There has been a constant cry for reform in just about every area of life for as long as I can remember. Whether it pertains to government, education, or the legal system, people from all walks of life are demanding reform.  Because of the tragic death of George Floyd while in the custody of police, there is now a concerted effort for not only police reform but also the complete defunding and dismantling of police departments across the country.

The fact that people are demanding that reform take place indicates one thing.  Something is broken and not right.  Of course, we, as Christians, know that this brokenness is a result of the Fall when sin entered the world.  However, will reform efforts make a difference?

I admit that there is a very real need for change to take place in many areas of society.  I agree that training and efforts to bring about change are helpful.  Yet, the change that is needed to solve the hurts of living in a sin-filled world will not be accomplished by human reform efforts — no matter how good the intentions are.

I lost count a long time ago of students and parents meeting with me to discuss their child’s poor grades or a discipline situation.  In these meetings, the child would come in saying that he/she was sorry and that they were going to change.

I have had students, who did nothing in a class for 9 weeks and were failing, tell me that they had decided that they were going to get A’s from now on.  Others, who had behaved badly, would tell me that they were sorry and they weren’t going to misbehave again.  Listening to them, one would get the idea that these students had the ability to turn off bad habits and actions and, all of a sudden, be model students.  Unfortunately, their determination and efforts to change, even though well-intentioned, didn’t last long.

These students thought that reforming their behavior would bring about the changes that were needed.  This is the same problem that today’s reform efforts are attempting to accomplish.

We believe that with enough training and effort bad behavior and/or practices can be corrected resulting in a perfect society.  All human efforts at reform are simply man saying that to stop evil one needs only to “turn over a new leaf.”  Unfortunately, the new leaf will turn out to be just as corrupt as the old one and may even be worse.

Reform efforts go all the way back to the garden when man first sinned and disobeyed God.  Adam and Eve knew that they had done wrong and life was broken.  They tried to “fix” it.  Their reform efforts were in the form of fig leaves whereas today’s efforts take the form of training, programs and/or laws and regulations.

I am reminded of some of the reform efforts that were made after the horrific Columbine high school shootings.  Cries for reform in our schools led to several efforts to change students’ lives through instituting various “character education” programs.  One of the most common ones, that is still in effect today, was Character Counts.  Even with all this effort to reform students’ character, violence has continued to escalate in our nation’s schools and school shootings have sadly become commonplace.

Why doesn’t, or even better yet, why can’t reform efforts change things?  One reason why human reform efforts can’t work is that they are based on human reasoning and opinion.  The world’s effort to reform brokenness is based on a false belief that man can improve himself and, therefore, society.  God’s existence is ignored or, even worse, denied.

If one denies the existence of God, then there cannot be any absolute moral values to direct any effort to bring about change.  This is the case with Character Counts.  By denying that God exists, man has to define right character and that is impossible to do.

Another reason why reform efforts can’t work is that they don’t address the real source of the bad behavior or injustice.  Reform is another name for the failed concept of behavior modification.  It is an attempt to change the outward actions of an individual or a group of individuals.  For example, sensitivity and/or diversity training focus on what one thinks and acts about others with the belief that training can transform a person’s life.

I am hearing people say that what is needed to change our current condition is to have open discussion and ask hard questions about the things that are causing division in society today.  We must “understand” each other and, when that happens, we will then get along with each other.  This was the mantra after 911.  I am not opposed to having difficult conversations about real issues people are facing but that will not bring about the change that is necessary.

So, if reform isn’t the answer, what is?  The reason why reform efforts fall short of real change is because the problems we are facing are heart issues – not head  or emotional issues.  Prejudice, hate, anger, injustice, division, envy, etc. all come from within the human heart.  Jesus told the religious leaders of the day that outward reform can’t work because it doesn’t address the cause.

There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man… Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods? And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”  Mark 7:15,18-23  (NKJV)

The prophet Jeremiah also understood the wickedness of the human heart.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart… Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NKJV)

A person’s heart won’t be changed by some form of human effort.  If this were possible, Jesus wouldn’t have had to die a cruel death on the cross.  Only God can change a person’s heart.

The prophet Ezekiel knew that God was the only One who could change a person’s heart.

I [God] will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26 (NKJV)

Only God can revive us out of the mess we are in.  Reform tries to bring about change from the outside in.  God brings real change because He does it from the inside out.

So, what is needed is revival not reform.  However, the key to revival doesn’t begin with the lost world.  It begins with me.  For revival to come and change society, it requires brokenness and repentance in my life.  David understood this like few men in history.

Only Revival Brings About Change

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10 (NKJV)

In order for God to change my heart, I must give Him access to it.  I must humble myself and allow God to do what the Psalmist allowed Him to do in his life.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  Psalm 139:23-24 (NKJV)

The evil that we are seeing up close in the world today is not a social issue.  Therefore, it cannot be overcome through reform.  It is a spiritual issue that will only be destroyed by revival.

Father, I ask you to search my heart and point out any sinful thoughts or desires You find.  As you show me my sin, I repent and ask your forgiveness.  Give me new heart that will cause me to see others as you see them – individuals who you have created in Your image.  Please heal our land!  In Jesus name, Amen.

My Response To Today’s Turmoil

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Lord Save Us!

First, we faced a nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19.  Then, the country exploded in protests and riots because of the senseless death of a man.  We are sitting on a powder keg that is ready to explode.  What is the answer to all of this?

I have resisted the temptation to speak about the issues facing us today as I, too, have struggled to make sense out of all of it.  There are so many voices shouting their feelings from every position imaginable.  It is my prayer that I will avoid sharing my opinions but try to approach things from a biblical perspective.

The protests, looting and rioting that are taking place all across the country are said to be reactions to the death of a man named George Floyd.  Anyone that viewed the heart-wrenching video that showed this man’s breath literally being choked out of him must condemn the actions of the men involved in his arrest.

My heart was broken by Mr. Floyd’s death and I long for justice to be served.  However, I am not grieved by this in the same manner as many others are.  Cries of racism, white supremacy, white privilege, black lives matter and police brutality have become the common narratives surrounding this senseless death.

What grieves my heart is that a person who was created in the image of God lost his life because another human being unnecessarily caused his death.  I am equally grieved to see another image bearer of God kicked in the head by a protestor that led to his death.  The same is true when I learned that a man working to secure a business lost his life.  Grief also gripped me when I read the account of a police officer being shot in the back of the head at point blank range while doing his job of protecting people and property.

 

In addition to each of the travesties, I am appalled by the murder of over 2,000 babies each day and over 700,000 each year here in the United States.  Every abortion destroys the life of an innocent image bearer of God.

Please note that I didn’t identify any of these victims by the color of his/her skin but as individuals who were each created in the image of God.  Whenever the ethnicity of a person is interjected into injury or loss of life, it seems like others justify injuring or killing of other people, as well as destroying private property.

The death of George Floyd was not tragic and horrific because a white police officer acted in a certain way towards a black man.  The same is true for the other deaths that I have mentioned.  It doesn’t matter what the color of skin the victims or the perpetrators were.  The worth and value of every human being is found in the truth that each and every person has been, is and always will be created in the image of God.  We know this to be true when we read the following passages in God’s Word.

Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them…And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.  Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7 (NKJV)

Because man is created in the image of God, God says that the shedding of innocent blood is sinful.

Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.  Genesis 9:6 (NKJV)

We have abandoned the teaching of creation and that man was created in the image of God, imago Dei.  When one denies the existence of God, then man is merely a result of evolutionary time and chance.  Instead of one race there must be many races as various people groups evolved differently over billions of years.  One person puts it this way.

Atheistic and evolutionary worldviews teach us that events are random, our origins accidental, our lives meaningless, and tragedy inevitable. Those who close their eyes to the one true God remain blind to His divine plans and purposes.  Cameron Buettel

The evolutionary belief that there are many races is not biblical.  Therefore, trying to improve race relations, which reflects evolutionary thinking, is impossible.  Darryl Harrison states,

The term “race relations” is a misnomer. God created you and me to relate to one another by way of hearts and minds, not skin color. Melanin is passive—it cannot love or hate—but our hearts can—and do. Biblically, murder is an attitude before it is an act (1 John 2:9-11; 3:15).

I am concerned when I see and/or hear Christian leaders addressing these very real issues framed through secular ideas such as critical race theory, white privilege (or any other form of privilege), etc.  We must evaluate everything through the lens of Scripture.

God’s Word is totally sufficient to guide us into how to better “love our neighbor as ourselves.”  Recently, I saw several social media posts that gave the appearance that some church leaders are supporting the concept of “privilege”.  Here are some of the statements I have seen.

White privilege exists as a direct result of both historic and enduring racism, biases, and practices designed to oppress people of color.

White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard.  It means your skin tone isn’t one of the things making it harder!  There’s plenty of other privileges (socio-economic, male, heterosexual cisgender, Christian, able-bodied)  but white privilege is perhaps the most enduring throughout history.

Life can be hard if you’re white, but life will never be hard because you’re white. 

You’ve never been judged by the color of your skin. (A statement to a white person) 

If you consider these statements, you will find that they contradict themselves.  For example, if someone tells me that I will never be judged by the color of my skin, that person has just judged me based on my skin color.

The entire concept that someone has “privilege” because of his/her skin color or gender goes against Scripture.  If God has created me in His image (which He has), then He chose my gender and skin color.  I had nothing to do with it whatsoever.

If either of these traits cause me to be privileged, then God created me that way.  Of course, that means that I must reject Acts 10:34 when Peter preached,

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons…

The same would be true about what James said when he wrote that not treating everyone the same is sin (James 3:9).

In order to understand the senseless taking of human life, destruction of private property and the violence that we are witnessing on a daily basis, we must trace this back to its origin.  To do this, it is not sufficient to simply go back to times of slavery or to the founding of our country; which is what is commonly being done by many today.

We must go back to Genesis 3 where we find sin entering the world through the Fall of man.  In fact, the first murder that was ever recorded was committed by Cain who murdered his own brother, Abel.  “Race” played no part in this evil act.

Murder and violence are the result of the sin nature of man.  In fact, all injustices that anyone commits are the result of sin.  It is not an attitudinal or social condition.  It is a heart condition.

So, what is the solution to all of this?  The words of G. K. Chesterton come to my mind when trying to answer this question.

It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.

We must first see that the problem is spiritual and is found in the depravity of the human heart.

The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV)

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)

For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:21-23 (NKJV)

Once we accurately identify the problem, we can then try to find the solution.  Trying to reform a person or an organization can’t solve these problems.  We must have a heart change.  This can only be found in Jesus and the Gospel.

To biblically address the upheaval in society today is challenging because we have all been influenced by decades of secular education and thinking.  God’s existence has been ignored or, even worse, denied.  Because of this, we have raised several generations of people who do not think biblically.

Therefore, they do not know that every person has value and worth because each one was created in the image of God.  As a result, Christians have conformed to the world’s way of thinking when trying to address these important life issues and we find ourselves in turmoil.  Dr. Albert Mohler stated the following in one of his recent episodes of The Briefing.

When you deny the creation order as God has given it to us for our good and His glory, you get chaos at every turn.

We must develop a biblical worldview and, then, give our children and youth a biblical worldview education.  Without this taking place the sanctity of human life will continue to disappear from society and chaos will become more and more rampant.  Consider the words of A.W. Tozer.

When the knowledge of God began to go out of the minds of men, we got into the fix that we’re in now [Romans 1].

In whom or what are you trying to find your identity?  As Christians, we must find our identity and view the identity of each and every other person through the doctrine of imago Dei.  Then, we must identify with only one person, Jesus Christ.  I leave you with the words of pastor, Virgil “Omaha” Walker.  His challenge applies to every Christian, whether or not one is a pastor and regardless of the color of one’s skin.

There’s only one man that we’re told to identify with, and that is Jesus Christ and him crucified.  So, any identification based upon levels of melanin in the skin – where a pastor is coddling that, where a pastor is amplifying that, where a pastor is encouraging that – I’d argue that they need to repent, and turn from that behavior all together, and make sure that they are pointing their black parishioner, biblically, to Christ and him crucified.

Father, may I see every person as someone You created in Your image. Show me how to love my neighbor as I love myself.  May my life reflect Jesus no matter what circumstances I find myself in.  Bring healing and peace to our homes, churches, communities and country.  Do this for Your glory!  In Jesus name, amen.

What Will Change?

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It seems like everywhere I turn, I am finding another article, blog or podcast on how education has and will remain changed forever because of COVID-19.  There is little doubt that schooling will be done differently than it has been done for years.  It appears that schooling will include some element of virtual learning and more parents may fully turn to homeschooling their children.  The use of technology will also play a bigger role in the future of schooling young people.

Last week I was invited to participate in a webinar that Dr. Greg Jones of Forward Solutions was conducting.  In this webinar I was asked how school leaders can make a successful comeback from COVID-19.  I was also asked to share what I had experienced over the past couple of months due to this pandemic.  You can watch the full webinar here.

In responding to Dr. Jones questions, I shared my belief that it is important to not merely focus on what might change.  I believe it is even more important to focus on things that will never change and on some critical things that we cannot allow to change.

I hope that I have gained a small amount of wisdom from the 65+ years that I have been involved in schooling, both as a student and an educator.  I have witnessed a lot of changes that people said would revolutionize schooling.  If I would have focused the majority of my time and energy on those things that changed and not on the things that wouldn’t or shouldn’t change, I don’t think I would have survived.

There is no doubt about it.  Schooling will be different in the days ahead.  But that isn’t anything new.  I have shared before how privileged I was to spend the first 4 years of my schooling in a one-room school with one teacher and 8 grade levels of students.

The black slate chalk board can no longer be found in a school today.  The desks with the inkwell holes in the top are also gone.  Just about everything about the one-room schooling experience I had is completely gone!  But there are some things that are still the same and will remain no matter what other changes will take place in the future.

Allow me to make an analogy at this point.  Because of my responsibilities, I have done a lot of traveling over the years.  The total number of miles that I have flown in airplanes boggles my mind.  I well-remember how air travel changed forever after 911.  There are those long security screening lines, the rifling through one’s baggage and the all too common patting down of my body.  Air travel has definitely changed.

However, with all these changes there are some things that haven’t changed and I am thankful that they are still in place.  Air travel still needs and relies upon good pilots being at the controls.  Every airplane still needs to be designed to lift off the ground, cruise at various altitudes and safely land at the end of every flight.

The “how” of air travel is different but the “why” of flight is still constant.  The same is true of education, especially schooling.  In fact, my challenge in writing this blog is to make sure that we don’t allow certain things to change when it comes to educating our children and youth.

No matter what different methods of instruction etc. that may result from COVID-19, the need for and purpose of education must not change.  All children and youth come into life and will continue to do so in a fallen state.  They will always need to be guided into truth so that they might come to know the God of creation and to know themselves as image bearers of God.

Education must always prepare students for the future.  But not just for the temporal future of life here on earth but also for the eternal future that begins when this life ends.

So, what are the keys to success in the future?  Here are two realities that we must embrace.

  1. We must accept the fact that some things about education will be different in the future.
  2. As we prepare for the changes that will be taking place on what and how we educate future generations, we must be committed to making certain that some foundational principles will never be allowed to change.

Dr. Albert Mohler in his book, Conviction to Lead, talks about the importance of convictional leadership needed for a school to survive and thrive.  What Mohler says about leaders is also true for schools.  Just as new leaders will bring their own ideas, passions and vision for the future to the school, Christian schools of tomorrow may have a different look and/or feel when it comes to how they operate due to this pandemic.

No matter what idiosyncrasies a new leader might bring to an organization, it is critically important that the organization’s foundational beliefs never change.  As school boards and administrators adjust budgets, develop new strategic plans and prepare for what the new “normal” will look like, they must never allow the biblical foundation on which Christian schooling was long ago established to change.

My fear for what Christian school leaders might face in the future is that the changes that are being talked about will consume their time, energy and resources.  As their attention is focused on face-to-face teaching, virtual instruction or some hybrid of the two, will they give equal or greater attention to God’s purpose for their existence?

Change has taken place and it will continue to do so in the days, months and years to come.  However, God’s Word is eternal and never changes.  We must make sure that we know, understand and remain committed to a biblical philosophy of education.  We must also give priority to making sure our teachers and parents do the same.

You and I can’t stop change from happening.  However, we can make sure that the convictions on which kingdom education is built never change.

I close with some thoughts from Mohler’s book and from his May 12th The Briefing.

The loss of a secular institution is a shame.  The loss of an institution founded on biblical truth is a tragedy.

If your Christian ministry does not state clearly what your beliefs are and make those obligatory throughout the institution, then you can basically just watch your institution collapse to the left.

I invite you to consider participating in this summer’s Kingdom School Institute.  This year’s institute will be presented online.  Find out more information and register here.

Also, I want to encourage your school to become a part of a fast-growing group of schools who are intentionally helping their board and staff members develop a biblical worldview by becoming a KEM Prime Member.  Learn more about the wide variety of kingdom resources available to Prime Members here. To become a member, click KEM School Membership and receive a special school discount.

Finally, follow, like and share the information that is posted regularly on KEM’s ministry FaceBook page by clicking here.

Remember, God and His Word doesn’t change.  There is not even the slightest turning of shadow with Him.  This must also be true for Christian schools as they strive to fulfill God’s plan for educating future generations.

The Disastrous Consequences of Dualism

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The Decay of Christianity

We are living in a world that is spinning out of control.  There seems to be no absolute guidelines that determine right and wrong.  Even Christians seem to be floundering in a sea of uncertainty.  Last week I shared how many Christians have developed a dualistic belief system where life is divided into two compartments — the secular and the sacred.

Unfortunately, the consequences of trying to live a dualistic life go unnoticed but they are disastrous in a couple of ways.  One of these consequences has to do with our personal lives.

In his book, The Rest of Your Life, Patrick Morley tells the story of a man who had succumbed to dualism.  In this account, the man knew that,

…he had stopped growing spiritually long ago. He had completely separated his faith from his work and social life. All in all, Christianity was still privately engaging to him but an irrelevant factor in his day-to-day world.

Whenever one attempts to live his/her life by two different worldview, he/she finds that life cannot have any overarching purpose.  Life is fragmented with no cohesive belief system to bring meaning and purpose to one’s existence.  Without God and truth, there is no one or thing that one can turn to for meaning and purpose.

The reason why this disastrous consequence will always be a result of dualism is simple.  The beliefs of a secular worldview and those of a biblical one are in total opposition to one another.  As Morley points out,

They are radically different and opposite systems of how to approach life, meaning, reality, values, ethics, justice, relationships, eternity, God, and man.  As systems, they have no points in common and a wall of ideology separates them.

James understood this when, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote,

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God…But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.  James 1:5-8 (NKJV)

When a person does not believe that God’s Word should control all of one’s life, that person is double-minded.  Consequently, a double-minded person is unstable in ALL his ways, not just in some ways.  This is because when one’s interests are divided, one’s heart also becomes divided.

The second consequence that results when a Christian tries to live a dualistic life is even more disastrous.  This is because dualism in one’s life will be reflected in one’s religion.  When a majority of Christians divide their lives up into the secular and sacred compartments, Christianity loses its power.

Morley, once again, brings this to light when he writes,

The choices we make brand us; we are the sum of our decisions…Everyone’s life makes a statement about what is important to him…for many Christians the statement is this:  My Christianity doesn’t work.

Why is this true?  It is because, no matter how hard one tries, one cannot completely separate two opposing worldviews.  Unfortunately, the secular worldview will always influence a biblical worldview.  It has been long understood that a major problem in western Christianity is symbolized by the word “syncretism.”

The dictionary defines syncretism as the attempt or tendency to combine or reconcile differing philosophical or religious beliefs.  It is trying to have the best of two worlds – the secular and the sacred.  In reality, many Christians today have tried to develop a form of Christianity by blending in beliefs and values from other religions.

Again, God’s Word warns us about the danger of this type of worship.  He constantly warned the Israelites not to “intermarry” with the people around them.  The reason for this was because He knew that it would lead to dualism and pollute their worship.

The Lord had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.  1 Kings 11:2 (NKJV)

Intermarrying is syncretism and the result is always the same.  It will turn one’s heart away from God and towards other gods.  The result is we merely become cultural Christians.  How does God look at cultural Christians?  The Psalmist puts it this way.

But they mingled with the Gentiles and learned their works; they served their idols, which became a snare to them.  Psalm 106:35-36 (NKJV)

We are reaping the consequences that are a result of decades of sowing a dualistic worldview into generations of young people.  A growing number of Christians are frustrated by dysfunctional lives that lack significant meaning and purpose.  Young people are walking away from Christianity because when they look at adults they see their lives telling them, My Christianity Doesn’t Work!


We must destroy dualism in our lives before it is too late.  Every remnant of cultural Christianity must be eradicated completely by the complete renewing of one’s mind where every thought is brought into captivity of Christ or the Word.

Stay tuned there is more to come next week when I will ask some questions to see whether or not we are infected with the virus of dualism.

Keeping An Eternal Perspective

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When life is unpredictable, it is often easy to lose perspective.  There are many people who are struggling with staying positive with the lifestyle changes that have been thrust upon them due to COVID-19.  Even though it seems like our lives have been turned upside down, God has a purpose that He wants you and me to fulfill today.  In order to accomplish His purpose in our lives, we must keep an eternal perspective about life.

Paul wrote something that most Christians have memorized and recited on different occasions.  It is a very simple statement; but it it needs to have a profound impact on how we live our lives.

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

In these few words, God gives us clear direction on how we are to live our lives regardless of what we might be facing.  The first part of this verse tells us that we are to live our lives as a reflection of Jesus Christ.  John puts it this way.

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.  1 John 2:6 (NKJV)

When we walk as Jesus walked then everyone around us will see Christ in us.  This is what Paul meant when he said that to live is Christ.  But what is he saying in the second part of the verse — to die is gain.  Paul is telling us that we should live our lives in such a way that people would see that we view death as something that is profitable and better than being alive.  Of course, this view of “death is gain” is based on the hope that we have in eternal live.

In this passage, Paul was wrestling with deciding if it would be better to be alive or to die and enter eternity in Christ’s presence.  We know that because he wrote:

But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.  For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.  Philippians 1:22-23 (NKJV)

I find these words amazing.  Paul declared that if he continued to live here on earth, it would mean that he would experience fruitful labor or ministry.  As you and I wake up each morning, do we do so with the perspective that being alive means that we are going have fruitful ministry?

I believe that there are many of us that struggle with experiencing this type of life in the midst of COVID-19.  I wonder if some of us think that this is fine for Paul to say but I am in self-isolation and have to do everything online.  I can’t be with my students, I can only try and teach them through online instruction.  In fact, I can’t even go to church and worship with other believers and have to live stream services over the internet.

If you and I think we have it tough under the current stay-at-home restrictions, we forget that when Paul wrote this epistle, he was in greater isolation than we are — he was in prison!  Even in our current COVID-19 circumstances, if God has us here, He has fruitful ministry for us to fulfill.  Author, Andy Andrews, once said that if we are still alive, our purpose has yet to be fulfilled.

I know what you might be asking.  How can I have fruitful ministry in these circumstances?  Paul explained what his fruitful ministry would be as long as he remained alive on the earth.

Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.  And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith  Philippians 1:24-25 (NKJV)


The NASB puts it this way.  Yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.  Paul understood a marvelous truth.  God was keeping him here on earth because it was necessary for the sake of others.  There are other people who make it necessary for you and me to remain here on earth.

 

What is that necessity that causes God to keep us alive, even while struggling with COVID-19?  It is for the progress and joy of someone’s faith.  It isn’t for my progress and joy but for others.

Don’t Let COVID-19 Get You Down

A couple of years ago, I started a simple little routine to help me keep the right perspective when beginning a new day.  I would sit down and ask God to bring some people’s names to my mind.  As He did, I would write them down and then thank the Lord that for these people’s sake You have be alive today.  Then, I would pray and ask God to show me how I could help them progress with joy in their faith.

It is my prayer that you will develop an eternal perspective that will give you direction each and every day.  Make a list of the people that you know who make it necessary for you to remain alive.  Next, ask God to show you what only you can do to help them progress in their faith.

If God could do this in Paul’s life while he was in prison, He can do it while you are confined to your home because of COVID-19.  Today, I realize that one reason I remain in the flesh is because it is more necessary for YOUR sake!  It is my prayer that this blog and other things that God allows me to do will help you grow with joy in your walk with the Lord.

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!

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

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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!

Addressing Today’s Worldview Crisis

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We Are Facing A Worldview Crisis

Last week was a busy one to say the least.  Wednesday evening I had the privilege of presenting the second part of a seminar on Raising Kingdom Kids in an Anti-Christian Culture to adults at First Baptist Church Snellville in Georgia.  Saturday I participated in a Kingdom Parenting Summit at Spring Baptist Church in Texas.  Both of the these events reinforced my conviction that there must be an intentional effort to equip Christians with a biblical worldview and philosophy of education.

In preparing for these seminars, I was reminded of what Dr. George Barna presented at some recent worldview conferences at which we were both speaking.  His research on the worldview of adults in the country shows that there is a major worldview crisis facing us today.  This is especially true for Christian parents, church leaders and educators.

Dr. Barna found that the percentage of adults that have a biblical worldview has declined over the past few years.  Adults who possessed a biblical worldview dropped from 10% in 2016 to 9% in 2017 and 7% in 2018.  According to this trend, the percentage of adults who have a biblical worldview today is most likely less than 7%.  This is clear evidence that we have a worldview crisis today and this crisis will have disastrous effects on future generations.

There was one slide that Barna presented that really caught my attention.  This slide gave a profile of adults in the United States.

Metaformation Inc. and American Culture & Faith Institute, 2018

One of the findings in this profile is that 70% of adults still self-identified themselves as Christians.  I can remember reading Patrick Morely’s book, The Rest of Your Life.  He referred to similar statistics and asked a penetrating question.  Where are all these Christians?  If 70% of adults are Christians, why aren’t they impacting the culture in a meaningful way?

This is even more evident when it comes to another anomaly found in Barna’s research.  He found that 79 million adults believed that they possessed a biblical worldview.  However, when responding to 40 questions related to principles that form a biblical worldview only 18 million actually lived by such beliefs.

Over the years I have found that this is one of the most challenging problems facing the home, church and school.  Most Christians believe that they think and act biblically.  When faced with the findings of research such as Barna’s, they believe that the alarming results apply to others not to themselves.

I continually have Christians acknowledge that there is a crisis of belief within the body of Christ.  However, they tend to put qualifiers on the reality of the worldview crisis facing Christians today with statements such as:

  • our church is different and we are making disciples of Jesus
  • the secular schools (primarily public) in our area are “good” schools
  • our Christian school is effective in biblical worldview integration because we have “strong” Christian teachers
  • our homes (parents) are doing a good job raising their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord

As long as we shift the focus of such research from ourselves to others, the necessary changes that need to take place will never become a reality.  When we believe that “we” are the Christians that have a strong biblical worldview, we will never see the need to engage in biblical worldview formation activities or efforts to develop a biblical philosophy of education.  It will always be others who need this — not us.

God has allowed me to conduct two staff development seminars, one board training session and two parenting seminars in the past four weeks.  In each of these events, I have focused on the need to understand God’s ultimate purpose for education and the necessity to embrace a biblical worldview and philosophy of education.

The responses have been overwhelmingly positive.  I found Christian parents, church leaders and educators to be very hungry for the truths that were presented and they all wanted to learn more.

This is why I have made the commitment to put all of my energies into challenging as many Christians as possible to be intentional in their own biblical worldview formation and understanding of a biblical philosophy of education.

There are hundreds of Christian schools that need to become a KEM Prime Member and give their staff and board members access to key training resources in these areas.  If you are an administrator of a Christian school, I want to encourage you to have your school become a Prime Member today.  This membership is the most economical source of biblical professional development resources available today.

Simply click here to join now or email me at glen@kingdomeducation.org to see if you and your school are eligible for a special school discount.

I am often amazed that so many Christian school leaders do not have an ongoing, intentional plan to make sure all of their teachers and board members have a biblical worldview and know, understand and are fully committed to a biblical philosophy of education.

Could it be that they believe that today’s worldview crisis is someone else’s fault?  Could it be that they are like Pogo in the comic strip where he said, We have met the enemy and he is us?

Barna’s research shows that every one of us needs to be determined to develop a biblical worldview so that we can effectively shape the worldview of our children and students.  If we are not successful at this one task, we are failures no matter what else we accomplish.

Please share your thoughts on today’s worldview crisis by leaving a comment below.

Alarmed But Not Surprised!

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Are you surprised?

I am more and more convinced that the most important thing that all education does is to shape the worldview or belief system of the student (regardless of age).  This conviction has been reinforced each and every day as I see what is happening in society.  I also realize  that what is happening in society or the culture ends up happening in homes, schools and even in churches.  The only thing that somewhat amazes me is when I see and/or hear Christians being surprised by the “shocking” things they are confronted with.

An example of this is something that has been in the headlines this past week.  It seems like everyone is alarmed about a situation where a mother has been reported about driving her son to become a female.  Reports that the boy’s father was being denied his rights to stop this effort to transexualize his son.  It was even said that the mother of this young 7 year-old boy was going to have him go through gender altering chemical treatment and surgery.

More than likely, you have heard about this.  The outcry about this was everywhere.  Social media was filled with shock and condemnation about the possibility of this taking place.  People from all walks of life were wondering how can the culture allow something like this to happen.  It became so bad that a governor and state attorney general had to get involved and try to stop this type of “idiocy” from taking place.

I, too, have found myself being angry when I witness some of this insanity that has become so commonplace in the world today.  However, I am not surprised at all by it.  What can we expect when generation and generation of young children and youth have been indoctrinated by a secular education system for the past 100 plus years.  There has been and continues to be an atheistic worldview undergirding secular education throughout history.  God is ignored or denied and evolution is the only “scientific” answer to the origin of the universe and life.

This has led to two similar “isms” that now dominate the thinking of people in the world today.  The first one of these is called materialism.  This philosophy can be defined as,

physical matter is the only reality and that everything — including thought, feeling, mind and will — can all be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena.

The other “ism” is naturalisim.  This term carries with it this meaning.

all can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws.  Nothing has moral, spiritual, or supernatural significance.

This is why Carl Sagan opened his Cosmos series with these words.

The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.

Young children are hit with this same lie when Actual Factual, the world’s foremost bear scientist, answers the question, what is nature? with these words.

It’s all that is, or was, or ever will be.

The only thing that is eternal is the cosmos or the material world.  If this is true, then there is no eternal God that created man in His image.  Therefore, man has no greater significance than any other material thing.  Man is just a natural phenomenon that is like anything and everything else.  This is why some lawyers are arguing to a judge that Happy, an elephant in the Bronx zoo, should have the same rights as humans — including the fundamental entitlement to liberty.  Their argument is that this elephant should be considered a person.

If everything can be explained in terms of natural causes, then man being imago Dei is a false belief.  This is why it was reported last week that the suicide rate of 10-14 year olds has almost tripled between 2007 and 2017.  The “experts” blame this on social media and bullying.  However, all of these other “reasons” are a reality of what happens when human beings are no longer considered to be image bearers of God.

I am convinced that if something drastic doesn’t change it is only going to become more bizarre and disastrous in the very near future.  When I read about a judge’s ruling concerning a doctor who was fired because he refused to refer to a bearded man as “she” because of his religious beliefs, I realized what we are going to face in the coming days.  The court ruled that,

the Bible, especially its teaching that man was created in His image, male and female is incompatible with human dignity especially because of its lack of belief in transgenderism.

The judge went on to rule that this doctor’s religious beliefs goes beyond just personal, private thoughts.

Those beliefs form part of one’s wider faith [Christianity] and this wider belief also does not satisfy the requirement of being worthy of respect in a democratic society.

WOW!  Christianity is not worthy of respect in a democratic society!  This is because biblical Christianity is built on the truth that God created everything and He created man as the capstone of His creation.  Man was created in the image of God and, therefore, has inherent worth and value.

In closing, I want to go back to the premise for this post.  Christians should not be shocked by what we are witnessing in our secularized society.  In fact, we should be taking responsibility for a lot of this.  We are the ones who have educated the majority of our children and youth in secular educational systems from birth through their teenage and college years.  Parents, pastors, church leaders and educators have chosen to have a secular worldview education shape their beliefs and values.

As the depravity of man becomes  more and more evident, what will it take for Christians to wake up, stand up and say enough is enough.  We will no longer give our children over to the world to educate.  We, the home, church and school, will unite and provide our children with a biblical worldview education.  I pray we won’t wait until it is too late!