Some Haunting Questions

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Have you ever received an email or text message that hit you hard and you couldn’t get it out of your mind?  Well, that happened to me last week.  I received a short email from a dear friend.  In the email, he simply shared some questions with me.  After reading it, I tried to move on with some work I had to do.  However, those questions kept coming up in my mind and, no matter what I tried to do, I couldn’t stop thinking about them.

The first question was actually a quote by John Piper from his book, God is the Gospel.

If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?

I encourage you to carefully read that quote again.  It is a profound question to ponder.  I know what my verbal response would be.  I would boldly declare, of course not.  But then I found myself thinking about how I live my everyday life.  Do I seek the blessings of knowing Christ or do I seek Him?

This would have been convicting enough but my friend’s email took Piper’s quote and applied it to a real life example.  My friend wrote,

Now take that question and change it.

If you could have a school that had all the latest technology, a very competitive sports program, academically excellent, high ACT and SAT scores, a creative arts and drama program, high involvement in community and service projects, humanitarian global mission teams, moral and ethical students, high graduation rates, and a high percentage of students going to college, could you be satisfied with that school, if Christ were not there?

He concluded his email to me with an additional question.  Why would we be okay with anything in our lives if Christ were not there?  There is little doubt in my mind that everyone reading this post would say that Christ is more important than all of these other things that are mentioned above.  Yet, if we think about an average day that goes by, do we really seek Christ in everything or do we strive to accomplish all of the other very worthy things that are mentioned in the questions above?

One of the biblical principles that I present in my book, Kingdom Education, is that the education of children and youth must hold Christ preeminent in the entire educational process.  But is it truly a reality in how we live our lives and fulfill our roles in the home, church and/or school?  I enjoy listening to music while I am traveling.  When I started pondering the questions that my friend posed to me, the chorus of Natalie Grant’s song, More Than Anything, came to my mind.

Help me want the Healer more than the healing
Help me want the Savior more than the saving
Help me want the Giver more than the giving
Help me want you Jesus more than anything

I have listened to those words many times before but for the first time I asked myself do I really want the Healer more than the healing, the Savior more than the saving, or the Giver more than the giving?  Do I want Jesus more than anything else?  I am reminded of Paul’s mindset that was behind all that he did.

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know Him… Philippians 3:7-10 (KJV)

What about your life and ministry?  Do you seek Jesus more than anything else?  Maybe an even bigger question is, if not, do you even miss Him?  I am still wrestling with these questions myself!  What are your thoughts?  Share them with others by leaving a comment below.

It Must Be More Than Just One Day

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All across the United States family and friends will gather together on Thursday for fellowship, fun and food.  This is because the third Thursday of November is celebrated as Thanksgiving Day.  There are several other countries that take time during the year to pause and give thanks for all of life’s blessings.  Of course, Thanksgiving Day in America is set aside to give thanks to the Lord for all of the blessings He has bestowed on us throughout our 200+ years of history.  Unfortunately, the true meaning of Thanksgiving Day has been lost in the busyness of football games, travel and, of course, Black Friday sales gimmicks.  As with most Christian holidays  in America, Thanksgiving Day has succumbed to the secular culture.  In fact, some secular history textbooks present the first Thanksgiving as a time when the Colonists met and gave thanks to the Indians for their help as they settled in the New World.  God is completely ignored.

Even though it is good to take one day each year to give thanks to the Lord for all of His rich blessings on our lives, thanksgiving should be a way of life for the Christian.  It isn’t supposed to be something we just do on a national holiday.  Paul makes this clear in many of his letters in the New Testament.  Two specific verses come to my mind when I think about being thankful for what God does for me each and everyday.

 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  Philippians 4:6 (KJV)

Recently I sat down and started thinking about how much God has done for me over the course of my life.  Let me share a few of the things for which I am thankful to God.

My Salvation

Sad to say, there are too many days that I allow the urgent to take control of my life and I find myself not consciously being aware of the tremendous price God paid for my salvation.  It goes beyond any human comprehension that the Creator of the universe would give His only Son as a ransom for my sin debt.  When I think about what Christ did for me by laying down His life to redeem me out of sin, it continually amazes me.  It is my desire to never take my salvation for granted but to give God thanks each and every day for this precious gift.

My Family

Next month my wife and I celebrate 50 years of marriage.  Like every marriage, there have been those rough days through which we had to navigate.  But God blessed me with a godly wife who has supported me in everything that God has led me to do.  God also has blessed the two of us with three wonderful children, their spouses and six fantastic grandchildren.  Again, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing but 3 John 4 is so true — There is no greater joy than to hear that your children walk in truth.  I thank God everyday that my three children are walking in truth today.

My Pastors

Sometimes we fail to take time to thank God for the people that God brings into our lives to guide us in the paths He wants us to walk.  I have been overwhelmingly blessed by several pastors who have taught me truth that equipped me for life and ministry.  Spending 16 years under the preaching and leadership of Dr. Jerry Falwell taught me what true faith in God is and how to live by faith each day.  Then sitting under the teaching of Dr. James Merritt and Dr. Glenn Weekly took be deeper into the truths of Scripture.  I also had the privilege to serve with Dr. Michael Catt for nine years at Sherwood Baptist Church.  God used Michael to teach me the importance of prayer in my daily life.  I have also been blessed by the friendships that I have forged with Pastor Mike Lewis at Cathedral of Praise and Pastor James McMenis at Word of God Ministries.  These two men have provided me with biblical counsel and guidance so that my life and ministry would stay focused on Christ.  God has truly blessed me by allowing me to sit under the preaching of such godly men.  One day is not enough to thank Him for providing me with these ministers of God’s Word.

My Mentors

I have also been privileged to serve under and glean from several Christian educators who helped me form a biblical worldview and biblical philosophy of life.  I probably would not have survived being a school leader if it weren’t for the guidance and instruction that I received regularly from Dr. Roy Lowrie, Dr. Jack Layman, Dr. Tony Fortosis, Dr. Gene Garrick, and others.  These men had gone through the trials of leadership and were a source of encouragement and always provided me with a model for what Christ-like, servant leadership looked liked.  A special note of gratitude must go to Dr. Paul Kienel.  He had the courage to take a young Christian school administrator and give him the opportunity to serve Christian schools in 8 Southeast states as Southeast Regional Director of ACSI.  Much of my understanding of kingdom education resulted from Dr. Kienel’s exhortation for me to present a biblical philosophy of education to others.  Again, one day a year is not enough time to thank God for these and other mentors that He has brought into my life over the years.

My Ministry

I have to start by saying that Kingdom Education Ministries really isn’t my ministry — it is His ministry that He allows me to be a part of.  If it were not for God’s leading me that took me to LifeWay Christian Resources, my book, Kingdom Education, would never have been written.  It blows my mind how this little book has been used all around the world to challenge parents, church leaders and Christian educators to follow God’s plan for educating future generations.  Anything I may have been able to accomplish in proclaiming this message to others is due only to the grace of God.  I fully understand the meaning of Jesus’ words in John 15 where His said, without Jesus I can do NOTHING!

My Encouragers

Who are my encouragers?  They are those who receive and read this blog each week.  YOU are one of my encouragers and you do not know what a tremendous blessing you are are to me as you read and share my weekly ramblings with others who want to provide a biblical worldview education to as many children and youth as possible.  There is not a day that goes by that God doesn’t bring to my mind a school leader, a pastor, teacher or fellow laborer in ministry that I have had the privilege of serving and getting to know.  You are in the trenches doing the “grunt” work of putting kingdom education into practice and for that I am eternally indebted and grateful.

I could go on and on listing things for which I must daily give thanks to God.  However, my point for doing this is to encourage all of us to always be thankful for God’s blessings on our lives.  No matter what you and I may face, the truth is that God is at work to make all things good for His glory.  If you live where a specific Thanksgiving Day is observed, by all means take the time to give Him the praise He deserves.  But more importantly, in every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  Have a blessed week!

Was Blamires Right?

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I had the privilege of speaking at the BJ Press Worldview Conference at the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter last week.  I came away from the conference encouraged, challenged and convicted.  One of the presentations that brought the most conviction to my spirit was the one given by George Barna.  In his presentation he showed where the country was in relation to a biblical worldview.  Barna noted that:

  • Only 10% of adults in the country have a biblical worldview
  • When this is broken down by age group, only 1 out of every 25 Millennials (4%) have a biblical worldview
  • A child’s worldview is basically formed by age 13
  • The primary parenting generation [and teaching generation in schools] today is the Millennial generation

Barna’s premise was that every person, individually, and groups of individuals, corporately, only do what he/she/they believe!  This means that today’s children have a much higher probability of developing a secular worldview than a biblical one because their teachers can only give them what they, themselves, possess.

Upon returning home, I went to my bookshelves and pulled two books out that address this serious condition that we are facing in today’s Church.  The first book was The Christian Mind: How Should a Chrisitan Think?, by Harry Blamires.  As I opened the pages of this book, that I have read on a couple of occasions, I was taken captive by the first sentence in the book.  It simply states, There is no longer a Christian Mind.  Wow!  Is Blarmires stating that Christians don’t have minds?  Absolutely not.  What he is proposing is that Christians no longer possess the ability to address all of life from a biblical perspective.  In fact, Blamires states unashamedly that the Christian mind has succumbed to the secular drift with a degree of weakness unmatched in Christian History.  He postures that, in Christianity, there is

  • Christian ethic that Christians subscribe to in their personal lives that non-Christians don’t.
  • Christian practice that, as members of a church, Christians observe that is ignored by the non-Christian.
  • Christian spirituality such as prayer and meditation that a Christian might practice that is unexplored by the non-Christian.

However, when it comes to all of life, there is not any Chrisitan thinking commonly taking place.  In Blamires’ mind, most Christians accept the morality, worship and spiritual culture of religion but reject the “religious” view of life.  Christians have succumbed to the secularization of the mind.  This is evidenced by thinking that ignores the supernatural as having any part to play in everyday life.  There are those who will share their grave concerns as to the direction society is going.  In many cases, these concerns are in line with the concerns we, as Christians, have as well.  However, they can only address these issues from a humanistic view and, therefore, cannot begin to address the cause and/or the cure for the direction we are all heading in.  The alarming thing about what Blamires so accurately described is that he wrote this book in 1963.

The second book that I pulled from my book shelves was one written by Os Guinness, written 30 years after Blamires’ book was published.  I must admit that I first bought this book only because of its title — Fit Bodies, Fat Minds.  However, the subtitle of the book is what really caught my full attention the other day.  It reads, Why Evangelicals Don’t Think and What To Do About It.  Again, I found myself asking the question, Is it true that Christians don’t think?  Once again, I had to admit that all Christians think.  That is a reality of life — human beings all think!  So what was Guinness trying to say.  His main premise is that the average Christian no longer has the ability to think Christianly.  The result, according to Guinness is,

Failing to think Christianly, evangelicals have been forced into the role of cultural imitators and adapters rather than originators.  In biblical terms, it is to be worldly and conformist, not decisively Christian.

Guinness goes on to point out how evangelicals take their “religious” life seriously but Christianity does not have much, if any, influence on our everyday, non-religious life.  He makes this point when he writes,

We are a people with a true, sometimes a deep, experience of God.  But we are no longer people of truth.

Blamires and Guinness talk a great deal about “Christian” things.  I struggle with using Christian as an adjective to describe anything related to life today because the term has become so subjective.  What does Christian mean?  What does it mean to have a Christian mind?  What does Guinness mean when he says we need to think Christianly?  I am thankful that Guinness goes on to define what thinking Christianly really means.

…thinking Christianly is thinking by Christians about anything and everything in a consistently Christian way — in a manner that is shaped, directed, and restrained by the truth of God’s Word and God’s Spirit.  (emphasis mine)

This is what needs to take place in our homes, churches and schools if we are going to be able to instill a biblical worldview into the hearts and minds of children and youth.  Barna summarized his findings as he closed his presentation last week by stating,

  • Most parents do not have a biblical worldview and are not seeking to develop one in their children.
  • The media to which our children are exposed do not reflect biblical principles and are not seeking to develop a biblical worldview among our children.
  • A huge majority of Protestant churches do not have ministries that are focused  upon helping to establish a biblical worldview in the minds and hearts of children.
  • Government laws are not geared to facilitating a biblical worldview among children.

Barna then left the attendees with this challenge.

So…who is called to, and capable of, leading movement to lead the development of a biblical worldview in the minds and hearts of America’s children?

I believe the only hope is for Christians to repent of the sin of giving our children to the world for it to develop a secular mindset in them.  Then the home, church and school must unite and address the issue of education biblically!  As Nancy Pearcey puts it in her book, Total Truth,

We have to insist on presenting Christianity as a comprehensive, unified worldview that addresses all of life and reality.  It is not just religious truth but total truth!

Once we do this, we must then be committed to following God’s plan for educating future generations.

The Danger of Memory Loss

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This past Friday I had the distinct privilege of attending a powerful Veterans Day Program.  I have always enjoyed and been moved at these types of programs over the years.  In fact, one the highlights of my time at Sherwood Christian Academy was participating in our annual Veterans Day Program.  However, Friday’s event was one of the most moving Veterans Day Program I have ever attended.

Vietnam War Memorial

The reason why the program had such an impact on me was because of the men who planned, prepared and presented it.  These men had spent many, many hours planning and putting together the program.  In fact, on display were three tributes to veterans and their sacrificial service to the County.

  • A full-size Willys jeep made out of two pallets of cardboard, 9 gallons of glue, and 3 gallons of paint.  This work took over 750 man-hours and can actually hold a person weighing up to 200 lbs.
  • A detailed replica of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall; complete with the names of the 58,300 US military persons who lost their lives in this war.  This project took over 9000 man-hours, 65 days, and over 3500 lbs. of cardboard.
  • A life-size replica of the Bataan Death March Statue and Walkway.  This project was also constructed out of cardboard and glue.  It even shows the footprints beneath the three figures that represented those prisoners of war that died on the march.

The theme for this Veterans Day Program was Never Forgotten and was a tribute to the more than 80,000 US P.O.W.s and M.I.A.s that still are unaccounted for today.  This is probably the case in other countries where men and women have stood up for freedom and were taken into captivity.  The audience was brought to tears through videos and songs that were performed live by this group of men.  Several pieces, including the songs Never ForgottenFreedom FliesMemories and the poem, P.O.W./M/I.A., were written and performed by individuals in this group.

Bataan Death March Statue

I was literally blown-away by the sacrifice and talent that these men put into making this event so meaningful.  This is because the program was held inside Walker State Prison and the men who presented the program were inmates there.  While inside the prison compound, I reflected on the reality that many people, including myself, have forgotten that there are so many P.O.W.s and M.I.A.s that are still unaccounted for from past wars.  The theme, Never Forgotten, was not only a reminder that we cannot forget that men and women never returned home from war and no one knows where they might be but also that there are scores of men and women who are serving time in prisons all across the country whose friends and family members seem to have forgotten them and they are all alone.

Since attending this event, my mind has been meditating on how important it is to remember certain things in life.  Unfortunately, the educational systems of the world have led to many people, including thousands, if not millions, of Christians, to suffer from severe memory loss.  Our children and youth are told that they must remember facts and pieces of knowledge in order to score well on tests, be accepted into the university and have a successful life or career.

However, secular education does not place any importance on remembering the most important thing that every person must keep in the forefront of their minds in order to find peace and joy in all of life. What is the culture and the church not remembering that is so dangerous?  It is the reality that we have forgotten God!  When I began studying what God’s Word says about the dangers that come one’s way when he/she forgets God, I became aware of how important it is that God is at the center of all that we think, say and do; including the education we give our children.  I encourage you to take the time and read what the Bible says about the consequences that will always result from forgetting God.  Here is just a sample of what God’s Word says about this subject.

  • Deuteronomy 6:10-12; 8:10-14; 8:19-20
  • Judges 8:33-34
  • Psalm 50:22; 78:7, 42; 103:2; 106:19-22; 106:13
  • Isaiah 51:12-13
  • Jeremiah 2:31-32
  • Hosea 4:1; 5:4; 13:6

Even though it is terrible when men and women become prisoners of war, it is much more disastrous when they become prisoners because of sin and are bond slaves of Satan.  When people, even Christians, forget God, they always end up in chains.  As I have presented in earlier posts, the real danger of giving our children and youth a secular education is found in the fact that God is ignored in the entire process.  Therefore, even though certain lessons may be factually accurate, God is not seen as being the source of wisdom and knowledge for any study and/or area of life that is studied.  The student develops a secular worldview and lives his/her everyday life as if God doesn’t exist.  This always results in imprisonment.

In my book, Kingdom Education, I present 10 biblical principles that I found in Scripture to help guide Christians on how God wants them to educate their children.  Since writing the book, God has revealed three additional principles to me.  The first of these additional principles is of utmost importance.  It reads:

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

Here are some Scriptures to support this principle.

John 17:3; Romans 1:20; Romans 11:33-36; Psalm 19:1-6; Ephesians 1:16-19; 3:15-19; 4:13; Philippians 1:9; 3:8-10, 13-14; Colossians 1:9-10; 2:2-3; 2 Peter 3:18; Proverbs 2:5; Hosea 4:1; 6:6; and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Our children are asked to remember a lot of stuff throughout their years in school.  Like you and me, they will forget much of it.  However, we must do everything in our power to make sure that they never forget God.  The best way to make sure this doesn’t happen, is for us to always remember Him.  May God never be forgotten!

The Key Component of a Biblical Worldview

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Every person forms a worldview.  One’s worldview determines how he/she interprets all of life and, therefore, drives his/her everyday actions and attitudes.  Depending on what definition one refers to, a worldview is determined by one’s beliefs about several key components such as:

  • God
  • Creation/Universe
  • Humanity
  • Purpose
  • Moral Order/Behavior
  • Knowledge
  • Future
  • History
  • Work

One’s beliefs about each of these components is important; but one component is more important than all of the others put together.  The foundation stone of every worldview is formed by how one answers this one question.

Who or what is my ultimate authority?

How one answers this question, determines his/her beliefs about God.  What one believes about God, in turn, shapes what he/she believes about every other component of his/her worldview.  A biblical worldview is based on who God is.  If one doesn’t know God, he/she will never have a true biblical worldview that will direct all of life.

Secular education attempts to simply ignore God by teaching every subject as a compilation of neutral, observable facts that have no spiritual meaning.  This type of teaching results in students developing a secular or man-centered worldview where God has no relevance to their everyday lives.

Solomon wrote:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7 (NKJV)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10 (NKJV)

As I have studied the Scriptures to find what God says about educating future generations, I discovered a very important principle that every parent, church leader and educator must understand and embrace.  Simply stated, it is:

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

In order to obey this principle, parents, church leaders and educators must make sure that they know God fully.  If we are not constantly growing in our knowledge of God, we will fail to provide our children and youth with a biblical worldview education.  I remember being challenged recently by something that Tim Keller wrote.  He stated:

The beginning of all wisdom is the “fear of the Lord.” But how do we know if we are relating to the real God? The answer is there is no real knowing of God unless we know him through his Word. Otherwise we are creating a God out of our imagination.

The only way we can know the real God is by being in His Word daily.  It is true that we can see and understand God’s invisible attributes by studying His creation (Romans 1:20).  However, we will only have a superficial understanding of the real God if we are not immersed in God’s Word.  Even though most Christians would say that reading the Bible is important, few do it on a daily basis.  When we aren’t in His Word regularly, Keller says that we are creating God according to what we conjure Him up to we want Him to be.

When a person is not in the Word daily, he/she may actually forget who God is.  The results of forgetting who God is leads to severe consequences in one’s life.   Again, I want to share with you what Keller warns about what happens when we forget who God is.  He says,

  • When one forgets God’s wisdom, it results in worry.
  • When one forgets God’s mercy, it results in resentment.
  • When one forgets God’s beauty, it results in covetousness.
  • When one forgets God’s holiness, it results in a life of sin.
  • When one forgets God’s sovereignty, it results in fear.

As I read these points, I asked myself are any of these results evident in my life?  If so, I need to know God better.  When I don’t know God the way I should, I forget what He can do in my life.  One of my former pastors, Dr. James Merritt, explains it this way.

When you forget what God has done for you in the past, you will doubt what God can do for you in the present and what he will do for you in the future.

Erwin Lutzer said it best.

If you accomplish nothing in life at all except to know God and to worship Him, you will have delighted His heart.

How well do you know God?  I encourage you to discipline yourself to be in the Word daily.  As you read it, always be asking yourself what does this passage tell me about who God is?   Knowing Him changes everything!!!

I share this link as an encouragement to know Him.  Have a blessed day!

The Danger of Double-mindedness

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There is a passage of Scripture that has been on my mind for the past several weeks.  It is found in James’ letter to the Christians who had been scattered due to persecution.  It reads,

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  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 waysJames 1:4-8 (NKJV)

As you can see by my emphasis, the part of this passage that has been most disturbing to me is the last part of verse 8.  James is stating that a double-minded person is unstable in all of life!  I am deeply concerned about the double-mindedness that has taken a vast number of Christians captive.

The dictionary defines double-mindedness as wavering in mind, vacillating.  It also explains that a double-minded person is marked by hypocrisy.  However, the real danger of being double-minded is not simply due to one not being decisive.  The true mark of a double-minded person is the compartmentalizing of one’s life.

One of the most common realities found in the lives of a vast majority of Christians is that they have divided life into two compartments — the sacred and the secular.  By doing this they attempt to live their lives according to two different worldviews.  The late Dr. Albert Greene referred to this type of thinking as dualism.  Dualistic thinking will always lead to dualistic living.

The most common way of illustrating dualism is to explain how many people will live their lives on Sunday much differently than they live their lives Monday through Saturday.  This is a result of thinking that some areas of life are spiritual in nature.  These include things such as attending church, reading the Bible and spending time in prayer.  At the same time, other areas of life are considered to be secular or religiously neutral in nature.  Such things as politics, business, education, and recreation fall into this category.

The end result is that a dualistic person’s life does not have an overarching worldview that brings all of life into unity.  Life ends up extremely fragmented and doesn’t make much sense.  It also makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to find significance in what we do and who we are.  James hits the nail on the head — this type of person is unstable in all of life.  Someone who is unstable cannot function properly.

Even though many Christian educators decry dualism, I am wondering if double-mindedness hasn’t crept into our homes, churches and schools.  There are some dangerous trends that I see taking hold in our efforts to give our children a biblical worldview integration.  I believe I need to make a disclaimer about what I am about to write.  Some of the practices that I am going to mention may or may not be right or wrong.  However, I am bringing them up to foster consideration and discussion.

If the opposite of dualism is living all of life under a unified worldview, then we must examine all of our practices involved in educating our children and youth to make sure everything is governed by a biblical worldview.  As I bring these issues up, I ask that you ponder them in light of this question.  Is this leading to double-mindedness?  If it is, does it mean that we are becoming unstable in all our ways?

Textbook Selection

This is a hot button to start our discussion.  I have heard all the arguments from both sides of the aisle as to what textbooks Christian schools should use.  I recently wrote an article for another publication and titled it The Hidden Agenda.  The essence of the article is that all textbooks, both secular and Christian, strive to be “academically rigorous”, factually accurate, and relevant to life.  However, there is a hidden agenda in all textbooks.  Every textbook is written from a worldview perspective with the goal of taking the students minds captive by its underlying belief system.

I am not going to argue the pros and cons of using one textbook over another.  I am simply asking you to consider the possibility that we might be practicing dualism if we say we want our children to develop a biblical worldview but then immerse them in secular worldview written textbooks.  When making textbook selections, do we consider this passage in James 1?  If not, could we not only be practicing dualism but also leading our students into developing a dualistic mindset?

Athletics and Other Extra-curriclars

Christian education has come a long way when it comes to these school programs.  This is one area that I am starting to see schools adopt a very worldly/secular pursuit of excellence.  Again, there is not time and space to address the entire topic of excellence in this post.  I will simply point out that worldly excellence is pursued from a purely horizontal perspective based on comparing and competing.  One is excellence if he/she is better than the other person.  Biblical excellence, on the other hand, begins with a vertical perspective and is focused more on character than performance and achievement.

With this in mind, we must ask ourselves a couple of questions if we are going to avoid double-mindedness.  Have we developed these programs within the context of a biblical worldview with the same intensity as we do our “academic” disciplines?  Many schools have to use community coaches and sponsors to lead these important aspects of our schools.  Are we being as intentional with developing these staff members with a biblical worldview and philosophy of education as our full-time teachers?  If we do not answer these questions accurately, we may end up being unstable in all our ways.

Dual Enrollment

This has become a major aspect of the curricular offerings at many Christian schools.  There are some real “perks” to offering students opportunities to take certain courses under a dual enrollment program.  A dual enrollment program allows students to enroll in classes at their school through an arrangement with a college or university.  This allows the students to earn both high school and college credits.  Some students earn as many as 15-20 college credits before graduating from high school.

All of this sounds great but are there some dangers that are inherent in these types of programs.  Many schools are doing dual enrollment programs with secular colleges and universities.  Others offer these programs in partnership with Christian institutions.  I realize that if a Christian school has staff members with the proper degrees, they can actually teach these classes.  However, many times these classes are taught by a secular professor using the textbooks and other resources from the partnering college or university.

Again, I am merely asking that we give careful consideration about how this could lead to dualism.  Would we hire an unsaved teacher to teach in our schools?  I hope we would answer this question in the negative.  However, are we doing the same by some of the dual enrollment programs?

I have mentioned three areas where I see that dualism could creep into our efforts to biblically educate our children and youth.  There are probably more and this can be discussion for another time.  However, we must evaluate everything we are doing in our efforts to provide our children and youth with a biblical worldview education.  We cannot open the door for dualism to get a foothold.  If we do, we will become unstable in all we do.

Contaminated Water: Masking the Problem

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If you are joining the conversation new, I encourage you to read the first two posts in this series.  The first one was Contaminated Water: A Fatal Decision and last week’s was Contaminated Water: The Cover-up.  As the city of Flint, Michigan continued to use contaminated water, serious problems began surfacing throughout the community.  In fact, General Motors actually stopped using Flint River water in October of 2014. This decision was made to prevent further corrosion of its machines.  The company made a deal to purchase water from a neighboring township and was able to continue functioning without further damage to its machinery.

By early 2015, the facts were in and there could be no denying that the water from the Flint River was contaminated. Consider the following findings:

  • January 21, 2015 – A community forum is held with residents showing containers of discolored water to officials. Reports of children developing rashes and suffering from mysterious diseases are circulated in the media.
  • February 26, 2015 – The EPA detected dangerous levels of water in the home of a Flint resident. The lead contamination was seven times higher than the EPA limit for drinking water.
  • March 18, 2015 – Another EPA test finds high levels of lead in the same residence as its earlier test.
  • June 24, 2015 – An EPA memo warns that the city is not providing treatment necessary to decrease the presence of lead in drinking water.
  • September 8, 2015 – A water quality study indicated that 40% of Flint homes had elevated lead levels.
  • September 11, 2015 – A research team finds Flint water to be 19 times more corrosive than Detroit water and recommends that the state declare the water is not safe for drinking or cooking.
  • September 24, 2015 – A research team released a study showing the number of children with elevated lead levels in their blood had nearly doubled since the city switched its water source.

With a major health and safety crisis looming, one might think that government leaders would change back to the safer Detroit water source.  However, officials from the city and state continued to pump contaminated water to the residents and businesses of Flint.  Instead of changing back to its original water source, it was decided that all that was needed was some reform or treatment of the poisonous water.

In an effort to continue using the contaminated water from the Flint River, steps were taken to counteract the contamination by employing certain water improvement efforts.  Here are some of the actions taken to try and make the contaminated waters “better.”

  • September 2014 – The city’s water pipes were flushed and more chlorine was added.
  • August 17, 2015 – The MDEQ orders Flint to optimize corrosion control treatment in the water supply.
  • September 9, 2015 – The EPA begins assisting Flint in developing a corrosion control treatment of the water.
  • October 2, 2015 – The state distributed free water filters to schools.

In addition to these attempts at trying to make the contaminated waters “safe” bottled water was distributed throughout Flint and was still being given out in March of 2018.  Homes were encouraged to install water filters and/or use bottled water for drinking.  It was amazing to read about the refusal of leaders and parents to revert back to the original source of good water.  It seems that people kept placing their faith in the contaminated water source and merely trying to “improve” the poisonous water.

The same thing can be said about Christians’ reaction to the growing problems that were becoming apparent in society, the church and their homes from children and youth drinking the contaminated waters from a secular educational system.  Instead of returning the “fountain of living waters” (God), it was believed that the bad water source could be improved.

As time went on warning alarms continued to ring out signaling that the danger of drinking from a contaminated source of knowledge and wisdom was wreaking havoc among the children and youth of the country.  Reports by several research teams indicated that large numbers of teens attending church would leave the church within two or three years of high school graduation.  Some of these studies estimated that as high as 85% of church youth would soon walk away from their faith.

There were a few voices in the church that sent out warnings about the dangers of continued drinking the contaminated waters of secular education.

Unfortunately, our schools are all too often indoctrination chambers where children come to be scrubbed of their trust of parents, their church, and their sexual identity, and are force-fed a diet of secularism and immorality. Erwin Lutzer in When a Nation Forgets God

It becomes possible to raise kids in church and subsequently turn them over to secular institutions for education without having though through the potential outcomes of them losing their faith in the process…We have turned over generation after generation of young men and women to be fully inculcated with the thoughts, ideas, and precepts that are absolutely contrary to our Christian faith…the Church systematically, seemingly without guilt, turns one generation after another of children over to a pagan, godless, secular education system that turns them from the faith.  We do it in public elementary and high schools and colleges and universities.  And we pay the enemy to steal their souls.  Ken Ham & Greg Hall in Already Compromised

School violence began to rise all across the country.  One of the first warning shots that something was wrong in our schools was sounded at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999.  On this day, two senior students walked into the school and murdered 12 students and 1 teacher.  Twenty-one other students were wounded before the two murderers took their own lives. Since that time more than 17 other mass shootings killing four or more people have taken place in schools across the country.

However, even with all of the evidence pouring in that indicated there was a major contamination problem with the “new” source of education, people were continually told that the water was safe to drink.  All that was needed were some additional treatments to the system that would take care of the pollutants.

Several efforts were made to calm people’s nerves and assure them that secular education was safe for all citizens.  These treatments ranged from initiating character education (Character Counts was a major program developed after Columbine) to armed security guards and programs that would teach tolerance and acceptance of all values and beliefs. There have been efforts to reform the contaminated waters by placing Christians on school boards.

Parents, church leaders, civic officials and educators continued to keep their trust in secular education.  They believed that with enough money and reform measures the water source of secular education could be purified.

Church leaders thought that the solution to this “water” crisis was to develop new programs for children and youth at church.  Even though programs and resources such as Released Time Bible ClassesTrust Love Waits, Ignite: The Bible for Teens, various VBS programs and a host of other programs and resources were well-intentioned and solid material, the words of C. F. Potter proved to be prophetic.

Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism, and every public [secular] school is a school of humanism.  What can the theistic Sunday school, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching.

There was still a strong resistance to return to the original source of a biblical worldview education.  Better church programs and efforts to reform and improve secular education programs would surely mask the deadly consequences of drinking from a contaminated water source.

Next week I will present some of the costs involved when changing to “water” sources that are contaminated.  It might blow your mind!  Be sure to leave a comment below.

Contaminated Water: A Fatal Decision

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On April 25, 2014 a city in Michigan made a decision that would end up devastating the city’s entire population.  The city was Flint, Michigan and the disaster is known as The Flint Water Crisis.  The decision that was made by the leaders of Flint, Michigan on that dreadful day actually started a couple of years earlier.

Flint city officials explored options on how they might be able to save money by switching the city’s water source.  From 2012 through 2013, a plan was devised that would supposedly save the city millions of dollars by switching from its current provider, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, to the Karegnondi Water Authority.  To accomplish this, the city would need to build its own pipeline to connect to KWA.

However, there was one problem.  It would take time to build a pipeline to connect to KWA. Instead of waiting until the pipeline was completed, the city officials decided to turn to the Flint River as an interim source of water.  On April 25, 2014 Flint River water started flowing to the city of Flint.  This decision proved to be extremely disastrous, even life-threatening.

There was a similar fatal decision made in our country many years ago.  This decision also involved the changing of the source from which people were getting their nourishment.  The decision to make a change where children and youth received their education took place in the 1800s.  However, this decision had been debated for several decades leading up to this fatal decision.

From the early days of the founding of the country, children and youth received their education from two primary sources. These sources were the home and the church.  The education that children received from these sources produced a well-educated person who was also well-grounded in the Christian faith.

In the 1800s it was decided that a new source was needed in order to provide all children and youth with a “better” education. It was also touted as being more economical for all families as there would be “no cost” to this new source of education.  One of the major promoters of this new education was a man named Horace Mann.  John Blanchard shared Mann’s predictions about what would result from Americans switching to this new source of knowledge and wisdom in his article titled, Can We Live with Public Education?

If American taxpayers could provide education for every child in America, within a short period of time the effect of the public school system would empty all the jails and prisons in the country…Let the home and church teach faith and values, and the school teach facts.

The new provider of “free” education to all of the country’s children and youth would be the state or government.  This change in the source from which children and youth would receive their education would guarantee that the United States would remain to be a great nation for years to come.  This was a radical decision to say the least.  Professor of history of American education, Francis Curran, wrote about this decision to change to a new source of education for American children.

…a revolutionary development in the history of education and in the history of Christianity: the surrender by American Protestantism during the past century of the control of popular elementary education to the state…Only in the United States has Protestantism relinquished the traditional claim of the Christian church to exercise control over the formal education of its children in the elementary school…The Christian churches eventually agreed that the state must have an important place in the direction of popular elementary education.

In Jeremiah we see how God views it when His people make the decision to change the source from which they get their knowledge and wisdom.

For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.  Jeremiah 2:13 (KJV)

When the decision was made to change the source of our children’s education from the home and church to the state, Christians were in essence “forsaking God, the fountain of living waters.”  God made it clear that it was dangerous to change the source of this most important aspect of life.

The nation of Israel had, in essence, changed their water source, much like the city of Flint, Michigan had done.  God said that they had committed an evil act when they stopped going to the “fountain of living waters” for their knowledge and wisdom.  The second evil they committed was trying to make their own cisterns to hold water from another source.  The problem was that their efforts of collecting water were useless because anything they did on their own ended up cracked and could not hold water.

God’s people changed from drinking “living water” to drinking contaminated water from other sources.  I am sure that these sources seemed safe, reasonable and economical at the time. However, God made it clear that their other sources of water were not only dangerous but also useless.

Now what will you gain by traveling along the way to Egypt to drink the water of the Nile?  What will you gain by traveling along the way to Assyria to drink the water of the Euphrates?  Jeremiah 2:18 (CSB)

God asked His people what they thought they would gain by going to another source of knowledge and wisdom than what He offered.  The educational waters of the world (Egypt and Assyria) were contaminated and could not satisfy.

These two fatal decisions brought with them serious and destructive consequences on society. Next week I will look at the cover-up of Flint’s fatal decision.

Preparing Our Children For The Future

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Last week I shared how the majority of parents, church leaders and teachers believe that the main purpose of schooling is to prepare students for more schooling!  They may not articulate this as the main purpose of schooling but in practice this is the reality.  As a new school year begins, I believe it is important that Christians develop a few key objectives that should drive the education we give our children at home, church and school.  It is essential that these objectives are achieved if we are going to fulfill God’s purpose for education and correctly prepare our children for the future.

Goal #1:  Our Children Must Increase In Their Knowledge of God

There is no doubt about it.  All education involves the acquisition of knowledge.  However, too much of our educational efforts have to do with gaining more facts about a wide variety of topics.  Unfortunately, most of this effort to know more “stuff” does not provide our children with the God-intended meaning behind all the facts they are taught.  John Piper explains why just knowing the facts about something isn’t real education.

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

J. I. Packer reminds us of why God created man in His image.  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.

All of the teaching that we give our children should aim at increasing their knowledge and understanding of who God is.  This is what the Psalmist referred to in Psalm 19:1-4 and Paul was saying in Romans 1:20.  Everything our children study is part of God’s creation and should tell them something about who God is.  The late Albert Greene understood this when he wrote,

We must avoid the impression that academics represents the fullness of what school is all about.  Knowing God in and though 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.

Are your children increasing in the knowledge of God through their total educational experience?  If not, we aren’t preparing them for the real future.

Goal #2:  Our Children Must Hear God’s Call

In past posts I have shared how God places two calls on individuals.  The first call that God gives to all people is His call for them to be saved.  Scripture tells us that God is long-suffering because He does not want anyone to perish.  However, God also gives each person a specific call.  This is God’s call to a work or vocation.  We have lost the concept of vocation in today’s world.  Tim Keller explains this in his writings when he states,

We must recover the idea that work is a “vocation” or calling, “a contribution to the good of all and not merely…a means to one’s own advancement.”…Something can be a vocation or calling only if some other party calls you to do it, and you do it for their sake rather than your own.  Our daily work can be a calling only if it is reconceived as God’s assignment to serve others.

When the main purpose of schooling is merely preparing our children for more schooling, they may go through twelve or more years of schooling without ever understanding God’s purpose for their existence.  Kevin Swanson puts it this way.

A successful education is achieved when a child is prepared to make maximal use of his God-given talents and abilities in the accomplishment of the child’s calling…The challenge of the first eighteen years of a child’s education is to find that calling…A fulfilled life will be determined by whether he/she has centered in upon his/her calling.

Do your children understand how God has gifted them with certain talents and abilities?  Are they sensitive to God’s call on their lives?  This has to be part of every child’s education from infancy all the way to maturity.

Goal #3:  Our Children Must Pursue Biblical Excellence

In order to pursue true excellence, one must believe that there are absolute standards by which excellence is measured.  Unfortunately, today’s culture refuses to believe that there are absolute standards for anything, including excellence.  This means that excellence is totally relative and is only looked at from a horizontal perspective.  This results in people pursuing an excellence that is only based on “comparison” and “competition”.  One achieves excellence by being better or beating everyone else.  Even today’s western church has adopted this concept of excellence.

A biblical understanding of excellence begins by setting God, Himself, as the true standard of excellence.  Jesus is our model of excellence and our goal is to be like Him (1 John 2:6).  Biblical excellence requires that the primary focus must be on character rather than performance or achievement.  Our motive to be excellent in all things is to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31).   Gary Inrig explains how excellence in character is more important than mere perfection in performance.

…excellence of character rather than excellence of achievement must be the central concern of the believer…the priority of character is due to the fact that what a person is colors all that he does.

Performance takes on eternal significance when it is an extension of one’s godly character.  Consider the words of Darrow Miller.

Because redeemed man is working for God, to fulfill God’s plans, the work is to be done with excellence.  Our guidelines for excellence are found in God’s own nature.  God is true, just, and beautiful.  Our work, in both its means and ends, is to manifest truth, justice, and beauty.

Is the education you are giving your children teaching them that excellence is all about out-performing others?  Are you educating your children in a way that challenges them to pursue excellence of character which will result in their best performance possible for God’s glory?  We must realize that God’s excellence is not based on what He does but on who He is.  That is why He expects us to be holy because He is holy!

These objectives must define and drive the education we give our children at home, church and school.  If we do not achieve these objectives, our children will not be prepared for the future — regardless of what else they might learn!

Next week I will be spending time with my family over the Labor Day weekend.  Therefore, I will not be posting an article next Monday.  I look forward to being back with you on September 10th.  I pray your Labor Day will be a blessed one.

What Are We Preparing Our Children For?

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Over the past 2.5 weeks, I have had the privilege of conducting professional development seminars for nearly 700 administrators, teachers and parents from 15 different schools around the country.  During these sessions I asked a series of questions to which I received nearly unanimous answers.  As we discussed the purpose of education, I asked each group a simple question.  What does preschool education prepare the children for?  Without hardly any hesitation everyone in the session replied, Preschool education prepares children for kindergarten.  From this response, I concluded that parents and educators believe that all education is an effort to prepare children for something that they see as important in the future.  With everyone in agreement on this answer, I proceeded to ask a progression of additional questions.  Here are the questions and the answers I received.

  1. What does kindergarten prepare children for?  Answer:  Most said it prepared them for first grade while the others were more generic and said elementary school.
  2. What does elementary school prepare children for?  Answer: It prepares them for middle school?
  3. What does middle school prepare students for?  Answer:  Middle school prepares them for high school?
  4. What does high school prepare students for?  Answer:  High school prepares students for college?

Here is the conclusion I came to from these discussions.

The main purpose of schooling is to simply prepare students for more schooling!

I believe this is how most parents look at the education of their children and youth.  Parents send their children to school as early as possible.  Why?  So that they will be ready for more schooling.  In fact, if you ask parents if they want their children to get a good education, you will always get a strong YES.  However, when you ask them why they want their children to have the best education possible, the most common answer you will receive is so that they can get into a good college.  In other words, schooling has become an unending process of preparing our children for more schooling.  It is no wonder that so many graduates leave high school with no real purpose for their lives — other than to go to college.

When the purpose of schooling is to merely prepare a child for more schooling, the child fails to understand how he/she has been created by God for a purpose.  I have heard my friend, Pastor James McMenis, repeatedly saying, Every person is a PURPOSE with a name!

As a new school year begins across the US, I am challenging every reader to ask himself/herself a couple of questions?

  1. Am I simply trying to prepare my children/students for more schooling?
  2. What are some more meaningful purposes that should be the basis for how I educate my children/students?
  3. What do I need to change as I guide my children/students to understand their purpose as I teach them either at home or school?

Next week I will present a few goals that I believe must be the driving force behind the education we give our children and youth.  Please share your thoughts on this important topic below.