Friday, December 15, 2006

Gatto on Education

John Taylor Gatto is a former New York City Teacher of the Year and a former New York State Teacher of the Year. He resigned in a spectacular fashion after 30 years of teaching and now writes and speaks against public education, based upon his extensive personal experience and upon intensive research into the history of our educational system. What follows is a quote from his book, A Different Kind of Teacher, and is very revealing about some of the assumptions we make about education. I would commend the entire book to you, but a word of caution is in order. Mr. Gatto admits he is not a Protestant. I suspect he may be Catholic. But regardless, he does not understand the Bible or the pursuit of holiness as one is sanctified. As such, he does not understand the Puritans, which he cites several times in the book. Take anything he says about the Puritans with a large grain of salt. Other than that, he is quite insightful into the state of our educational system today.

From Chapter 8:

I'll start off bluntly by giving you some data I'd be shocked if you already know. A few simple facts, all verifiable, which by their existence call into question the whole shaky edifice of American schooling from kindergarten through college and its questionable connection to the job market. The implications of this data are quite radical so I'm going to take pains to ground it in the most conservative society on earth, the mountain world of Switzerland. You all remember Switzerland: that's where people put their money when they really want it to be really safe.

The Swiss, just like us, believe that education is the key to their national success, but that's where our similarity ends. In 1990 about sixty percent of American secondary school graduates enrolled in college, but only twenty-two percent did in Switzerland; in America almost one hundred percent of our kids go to high school or private equivalents, but only a little over a fifth of the Swiss kids do. Any yet the Swiss per capita income is the highest of any nation in the world and the Swiss keep insisting that virtually everyone in their country is highly educated!

What on earth could be going on? Remember it's a sophisticated economy which produces the highest per-capita paycheck in the world we're talking about, high for the lightly-schooled as well as for the heavily-schooled, higher than Japan's, Germany's, or our own. No one goes to high school in Switzerland who doesn't also want to go to college; three-quarters of the young people enter apprenticeships before high school. It seems the Swiss don't make the mistake that schooling and education are synonyms.

If you are thinking silently at this point that apprenticeships as a substitute for classroom confinement isn't a very shocking idea and it has the drawback of locking kids away from later choice of white collar work, think again. I wasn't only talking about blue-collar apprenticeships--although the Swiss have those, too--but white-collar apprenticeships in abundance. Many of the top management of insurance companies, manufacturing companies, banks, etc., never saw the inside of a high school, let alone a college.

Shocking is the word for it, isn't it? I mean here you are putting away your loot in a Swiss bank because it's safe over there and not so safe here, and now I've told you the bank president may only have a sixth grade schooling! Just like Shakespeare did.

As long as we are playing "Did You Know?", did you know that in Sweden, a country legendary for its quality of life and a nation which beats American school performance in every academic category, a kid isn't allowed to start school before the age of seven? The hardheaded Swedes don't want to pay for the social pathologies attendant on taking a child away from his home and mother and dumping him into a pen with strangers. .... Did you know that the entire Swedish school sequence is only nine years long, a net twenty-five percent time and tax savings over our own....

Did you know that Hong Kong, a country with a population the size of Norway's, beats Japan in every scientific and mathematical category in which the two countries compete? Did you know that Hong Kong has a school year ten and one half weeks shorter than Japan's?

...Or did you know that in Flemish Belgium, with the shortest school year in the developed world, that the kids regularly finish in the top three nations in the world in academic competition?

These facts about the success of other nations' schooling systems should cause anyone reading this to start to seriously question what it is that we do and why we do it this way.

White-collar apprenticeships....
Short school years...
Shorter number of school years...

And yet all we ever hear from our "educators" is that our children need to spend more time in school in order to compete with these nations that spend less time in school! Isn't there a huge logical disconnect here???

Are you afraid to take your children out of the school systems because they won't be able to "compete?" If you have taken them out, are you afraid to let some of the curriculum go in order to disciple or minister the Gospel to others? I dare say that this short section from Gatto's book should encourage you that it is OK and your children will be fact, they will probably be better simply because of the time you spend doing something other than curriculum! Step out of the box; be creative!! You won't hurt your children, and they will love you for it!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dr. Al Mohler on the Biblical Family

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Seminary, recently preached a sermon at Southern Seminary's chapel regarding the Fifth Commandment: Honor thy father and thy mother. The entire sermon can be heard by clicking here. I commend the entire sermon to you, but in particular I'd like to address a particular quote. Dr. Mohler says:

"The Biblical vision is of father and mother and children. The Biblical vision is of the father taking the lead for a transgenerational vision for his family. One of the problems even in many Christian homes today is that parents see their responsibility to get children from infancy to graduation from college. And our job is done. That's the horizon of our responsibility. But the Biblical vision is of the father taking responsibility not merely for his children, but for his children's children, and for his children's children's children. The lack of that vision explains why so much of our church ministry related to families is so thin, and so superficial, and so ineffective."

First note that he says the Biblical vision is of a "father and mother and children." That, combined with the next statement about a transgenerational vision, leads me to conclude that my earlier thoughts on individuality are valid (here and here). The normative Biblical vision is of families; families growing together, families ministering together, families evangelizing together. The notion of the rugged individualist is anything but the norm. So...are we raising our children with a family identity, or with a vision for individualism?

Secondly, Dr. Mohler makes it very clear that the father is supposed to take the lead in developing a vision for his family that extends far into future generations. This doesn't happen in the evangelical church today. Why? For the most part, it isn't even considered! Christian families just go with the flow of the culture, training up their children as individuals and looking forward to the empty nest without ever giving a thought to any vision, but especially not to a multigenerational vision! In addition, the thought of a father leading in developing a multigenerational vision goes against the grain of the entrenched evangelical feminism that crawls invisibly under the surface of most of our assumptions about the world.

Thirdly, Dr. Mohler takes us to task about the short-sighted view we have of the parental responsibility. He says we view success as getting our children through college and out on their own as individuals, at which time we enjoy our golden years as individual empty nesters. Not so. When a family has a multigenerational outlook, the family continues to grow around the patriarch and matriarch. Their vision passes down through the generations. The family enlarges and becomes a force to reckon with within their sphere of influence...not from a political or violent point of view, but rather from a loving, Christ-honoring, service point of view. They will be a very, very different entity in our culture, and as such will bear incredibly strong witness to the saving, life-changing Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And lastly, Dr. Mohler says this explains why the children's ministry and youth ministry in our churches today are so worthless...with more than three-quarters of our youth turning from their faith in young-adulthood. Families ARE the best youth ministry!

...especially families with vision!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

From the Heart

I wrote a "from the heart" note on my Get Serious blog that would apply please do me the favor of clicking here and reading it.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Moralistic vs. God-Centered

I was listening to a podcast version of The Albert Mohler Program (link on the left), and the topic was "Youth Ministry." One of his guests made a phenomenal distinction that I thought was worthy of some consideration here.

He said (paraphrasing), "Most of what we do in the church today with young people results in 'moralistic' adults instead of 'God-centered' adults."

That's huge.

Recognize what is at stake here. A person who is "moralistic" is a person who lives by a set of rules that most would consider "moral," which means they probably have their basis in the Bible. That person IS NOT SAVED!!!! He will be a very nice person, and he may very well attend church on a regular basis since that is part of his "moral" rulebook. But he does not know Christ. Dr. Mohler stated that so many youth ministries have only two real points: Come to church and don't have sex until marriage. This results in a moralistic outlook on life, and could very well be why 75-88% of evangelical young people walk away from the faith in their early twenties.

How tragic.

What we really want are young people who know Christ, who are radically God-centered, who take the demands of the Gospel and run with them with all their heart. This results in young people who are mature both in their faith and in their countenance. They aren't going to be what the Harris brothers on their Rebelution Blog call "Kidults." They are ready to rise up and take on adult responsibilities early. They recognize the narcissistic, fun-oriented teen culture for the vacuous waste of time it is.

So how do we parent our own children so they are God-centered and not just moralistic? Discipleship!!! By whom? By the parents, with Dad taking the lead. They need to learn their Bibles, learn doctrine and apply it to their own lives, learn at an early age that, if they are indeed born-again, their lives are not their own because they have been bought with the priceless blood of the Lamb. (And if they aren't born again...That MUST be the focus, for the rest is for naught without it. That is exactly what leads to moralism.) They must learn at an early age the necessity of growing in Christ through the obedience to God's commands. They must learn to be different from the culture around them, and understand that difference is GOOD! They must learn to love the people with whom they come into contact. They must learn to focus on the good of others above their own pleasure.

These are all examples of things that would happen as a young person matures in the faith at the feet of parental discipleship. Of course, it's not an exhaustive list...but it's a start! What kind of impact on our world would a large group of on-fire Christian young adults have if they had matured in this manner? It boggles the mind with possibility!

Praying for God-centeredness in our children....

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Destiny and Its Impact

A post at another blog I frequent got me to thinking about overarching themes that can help a family grow together with proper focus and direction. The biggest theme that came to mind was to have a sense of destiny. I'm afraid the families of our day think far too small; they can't see past today or this week. A family with long-term vision is one who looks ahead to empty nest!

How sad.

Destiny. That's a loaded word. The dictionary defines it as "a predetermined course of events, often held to be an irresistible power or agency." Of course, they don't mention the "irresistible power or agency" as being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! So what is it that God has in mind for you, for me? What is it He has in mind for our families? Do we travel down the path of life with a fatalistic outlook because we acknowledge the sovereignty of God? I think not.

First and foremost is that, if we are adopted sons and daughters of the King, then what He has in mind for us is beyond our wildest dreams. Secondly, we were saved in order to accomplish good works that had been preordained for us (Ephesians 2). A good work has consequences and impact beyond us and possibly beyond anything we could imagine.

So do we just "let it happen?" How can we get a sense of the destiny God has for us? The obvious destiny is to be conformed to the likeness of Christ and to reside in heaven for eternity joyously worshipping the infinite God. That is arguably the most important "destiny!!"

But personally, when I think of "destiny," I guess I am not thinking of exactly the dictionary definition, but rather, I tend to think of impact. What will be the impact of my family and me on the world? Destiny implies vision. As stated earlier, it isn't a small, short-sighted vision. A vision of destiny looks down through the generations to what might be and to what influence we as a family might have on hundreds or thousands of people to come. Just do a little research on the progeny of Jonathan Edwards or Susanna Wesley and see the impact of one godly family!

Properly envisioned and articulated, this is a concept that will bring about a shared sense of mission within the family. A shared sense of mission will unite us to one another under the headship of the father who is under the headship of Christ with the purpose of Kingdom impact. This sense of mission will focus everyone on something much bigger than themselves. What a radical concept for children and young adults! This also produces a byproduct of a sense of belonging, of groundedness, of definition. Gone would be the wonderings of our young people as they search near and yon for who they are and what they are here for. They have a family destiny: both to impact the world as a part of a family, and to carry on the family legacy and destiny into the succeeding generations.

True Christian Destiny: Ultimately preordained good works as we are conformed to the likeness of our Savior enroute to a joyous eternity in the presence of the Father.

Sense of destiny--> Long-term vision for Kingdom impact
Long-term vision for Kingdom impact--> Sense of shared mission
Sense of shared mission--> Family cohesiveness through shared outward focus
Family cohesiveness--> Sense of belonging
Sense of belonging--> Love for one another and for the lost of the world

May we all develop a sense of destiny with a long-term vision of hundreds of years! And may the Lord use this to spread His Kingdom far and wide for His glory and for our joy!

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Myth of Adolescence

In line with my previous post on how one church is dealing with "teen," I came across two wonderful articles written by Alex and Brett Harris (younger brothers of Joshua Harris, if you happen to recognize his name as the author of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" fame). The Harris brothers have a blog and a ministry that intends to spark young people out of the doldrums of "adolescence" and into adult involvement in their world.

They write, "Our world cannot last another generation of Christian young people who fit in." (emphasis mine)

Read part one of five here, and then link from there to parts 2-5 (links at the bottom of each post). And while you are at it, bookmark the blog for your apprenticing adults!!!

Praying for young people not to fit in....

Thursday, October 19, 2006

How One Chruch Does "Teen"

For any who have done much research in the area, you can quickly discover that the idea of adolescence is a relatively new concept. In fact, the word "teenager" didn't exist a century ago. And the whole idea of "teenage rebellion" is one that would be foreign to our forefathers because there was no such thing as a "teenager." As one matured, he simply moved into adult responsibilities. How else do you explain the phenomenal accomplishments of young people in the 1700's? Jonathan Edwards was a college president around age 20. I believe it was John Quincy Adams who was a United States Ambassador at age 14! And there were others, but their names don't come to mind right now.

I believe a whole host of our societal problems come from the whole idea of "teenager" and "teenage rebellion" What can we do about it? For one, we as families can endeavor to raise children who love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength...who walk humbly with Him as their God... and who love their neighbor as themselves. These are people who will change the world in which they live.

What about our churches? How can they hinder or help?

Most of what passes for ministry to children and young people today is patterned after the evolutionary theories that brought us age-segregated public schooling...and that's not a good thing. This is especially true when it comes to the teen years when enabling young people to focus solely on themselves and on each other only leads to questionable salvation and to extended adolescence. These young people enter adulthood woefully unprepared to actually BE adults.

There are several movements afoot that attempt to address this problem. Here is what our particular church is doing:

We no longer have a children's department, nor do we have a youth department. Instead, the whole thing is now the Family Discipleship Department and it endeavors to work with parents and to help them raise children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. There is a seamless curriculum that runs from preschool to eighth grade that brings the children deeper and deeper into God's Word and good doctrine. They realize that we aren't playing games here, nor are we babysitting. That part is wholly in position already and is working nicely. The next step is to radically reform what used to be the youth department. The vision right now is to even change the more "youth;" no more "teenager." Instead something along the lines of "apprentice adult" would be used (that's not set in stone...just an idea that reflects the concept that what we call someone affects both how they perceive themselves and how they are perceived by others). The apprentice adults (ninth grade and up) would be expected to join in with adult activities and ministries, both in terms of learning in Sunday Schools and volunteering their time in ministry. They would be shepherded and mentored (hopefully by their parents) and encouraged about growing quickly into adulthood and assuming adult responsibilities. They would be encouraged to put off the childish things of the world in favor of the more exciting things of adulthood. The idea that your 20s is a time of sowing your oats and having a time of grand fun while you are single before being "tied down" to marriage would be anathematized.

In short, they would be expected to grow up.

And of course, all of this assumes an education of the parents and other adults in the church so they understand their responsibilities in helping these apprentice adults learn and grow. They are to provide example and opportunity. They are to mentor and shepherd. This can't happen in a vacuum; it will require a paradigm change on the part of the adults of the church.

Not a bad idea at all....

Praying that more parents and churches would come to understand this vision.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Dominion Mandate and the Family

In my other blog, I posted some thoughts on living life with the Dominion Mandate as the "big picture." One of the implications I raised was how that might affect the decisions we make on both family relations and on the raising of children.

Genesis 1:26-29 outlines the Dominion Mandate, occurring before the Fall and not rescinded to this day.

Note first that the Mandate is given to "them"...both the man and the woman, together. Next note that the first part of the Mandate is to be fruitful and a family. It can be inferred that taking dominion, and thus building the Kingdom, is something families ought to be working toward together.

If the Dominion Mandate truly applies to families, then it provides a basis for the direction of the family unit. As such, children need to know from an early age that they are part of a family on a mission...a mission to impact their portion of the world as a family. They need to be raised with an outward focus of Christ-exalting, world-changing vision rather than the pagan focus of self.

In effect, the Dominion Mandate provides a framework for a family vision for each and every Christian family. We are not here by accident; we as members of a particular family are sovereignly put here. And God has given us a direction...a direction that is significantly different from that of the pagan world: be fruitful, multiply, fill the world, take dominion. I believe it could be argued that taking dominion includes bringing the Word of God to bear on everything that we as Christians do, from our personal lives, to our family lives, to our work, to our worship, to our recreation, to our relationships... everything! In doing so, we will be advancing the Kingdom by showing a real witness of Christ's changing power in our lives.

This also relates a bit to the two posts on individualism (here and here). If the conclusion in the earlier paragraph is true, that the Dominion Mandate applies to families, then we need to take that to heart AS families and quit acting like the world by playing the rugged individualists who just happen to share a name and a roof. You don't take dominion by sending out individuals from a family, you take dominion by sending into the world families who honor Christ in all they do. The recurring theme is that Christian witness must be more than words; it must be lives that are lived out under the auspices of the Bible in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is that distinctiveness that will witness Christ to the world...and there will be two responses: persecution, or they will listen. And as more listen, the Kingdom is spread...and dominion occurs.

Praying for dominion-minded families....

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Spurgeon on Raising Children

While I like to use this blog as a place to record and flesh out my own thoughts and ideas, I came across on Scott Brown's blog an incredible quote from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, on the raising of children. With his usual direct style, he makes very clear the priorities Christian parents should be having when raising children...and for that, he would probably be considered "radical" in today's world. Note also how he pulled no punches in the last paragraph in describing particular parents who aren't heeding his wisdom. That, too, would be considered "judgmental" in today's evangelical world.... But could it be that the very thing Spurgeon is warning against is exactly why over 75% of our evangelical young adults are walking away from the faith by their early 20s (Southern Baptist Convention stats)?

“It is very grievous to see how some professedly Christian parents are satisfied so long as their children display cleverness in learning, or sharpness in business, although they show no signs of a renewed nature. If they pass their examinations with credit and promise to be well fitted for the world's battle, their parents forget that there is a superior conflict, involving a higher crown, for which the child will need to be fitted by divine grace and armed with the whole armor of God. Alas, if our children lose the crown of life, it will be but a small consolation that they have won the laurels of literature or art.

Many who ought to know better think themselves superlatively blessed in their children if they become rich, if they marry well, if they strike up into profitable enterprises in trade, or if they attain eminence in the profession which they have espoused. Their parents will go to their beds rejoicing and awake perfectly satisfied, though their boys are hastening down to hell, if they are also making money by the bushel. They have no greater joy than their children are having their portion in this life and laying up treasure where rust corrupts it. Though neither their sons nor daughters show any signs of the new birth, give no evidence of being rich toward God, manifest no traces of electing love, or redeeming grace or the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, yet there are parents who are content with their condition.

Now, I can say of such professing parents that they have need to question whether they be Christians at all and if they will not question it themselves, they must give some of us leave to hold it in serious debate.

From a sermon, “The Parent’s and Pastors Joy”

Oh, that we could have more "radical" preachers...and more parents who would heed them....

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Where's Your Identity?

In the previoius post, "Implications of Individualism," I used an example from Dr. R.C. Sproul, Sr. wherein he spoke of teaching his children the value of their membership in his family...that the Sproul family was their identity. Now, knowing how much Dr. Sproul understands and values the majesty, supremacy, and sovereignty of God, I know he cannot be discounting the fact that a Christian's identity is in Christ.

So as I mused over what I had written, I couldn't get past the thought of a person finding his identity in his family being at odds with a person finding his identity in Christ. But as I thought further about the quandry, I believe that it can be answered because God is sovereign in placing a person in a particular family. None of us is in our family (either of origin or of marriage) by accident. God has sovereignly ordained that you be there.

I can see a few scenerios playing out:

One is that you are not a Christian and not from a Christian family. In this case, the whole discussion is meaningless because you would be finding your identity just as the culture yourself.

Another is that you are a unregenerate child in a Christian family. There is no problem with the family encouraging you to find your identity within the family. And if by the mercies of God you become regenerate, then melding an identity in Christ with an identity of a Godly family should not be an issue.

And lastly, you are a new believer in an unregenerate family. Your new identity is in Christ, but there is probably not a family identity anyway...nor will there be unless the family comes to faith in Christ. So the family identity is a nonissue here.

So in the long run, a Christian who finds his identity in his God-fearing family is not at odds with his finding his identity in Christ.

Implications of Individualism

Over at my Get Serious blog, I wrote a piece about individualism and it's impact on America, both in the family and in the community. The foundation for the argument rests upon the family and how its members see themselves in relation to it. As such, there are implications for our children and how we raise them.

In our culture we raise our children with the ultimate vision of sending them off to make their own way in the world, independent of their family. The children know this, and anticipate that day of emancipation. If you were to ask "Johnny" who he is, he would reply, "I am Johnny." followed by a quizzical look as to why you wouldn't understand that. This reply shows that he has been fully inculcated with the concept of individualism: the world begins and ends with him.

The result is that our culture is full of a bunch of individuals, each doing his own thing in his own direction for his own satisfaction. In some sense, this results in a culture of success...monetary, standard of living, etc. But in a darker sense, it results in a culture that doesn't connect with each other. Everything from the culture of success is temporal; it is only relationships that will last eternally, and even then, only those relationships between people for whom Christ is their Lord and Savior.

I once heard R.C. Sproul, Sr. discussing the issue of family and how children related to it. He pointed out that in the Sproul family, the children were taught at the youngest age that when asked what their name was, they were to give it. But when asked who they were, the answer was "I am a Sproul." They would then follow it up with "A Sproul does (a list of what the family values were)." Note the difference between what a child's name is and who they are. Dr. Sproul taught his children that their identity was in their membership in the Sproul family and that the Sproul family had a direction and a destiny...and they were a part of it! This is what's missing in most every American family today. The sad part is that it is missing in the families who claim to be evangelicals as well.

If we are to reclaim Christian witness as well as our families, then we must change the direction of our families, and by implication, the way we raise our children. The Sproul example points out two items that have to happen if our families are to become unified points of light for the Kingdom: 1) There must be a vision; a discernible, defined direction for the family, and 2) the members of the family MUST come to understand they are not just (for example) Johnny and Susie and Joe and Pam...but that they are "Stewarts" and as such, bring their own gifts to the Stewart family in order to further the family vision.

A unified family that is focused on a Godly vision is a force to contend with when it comes to spreading the Kingdom and witnessing God's grace to the world. Now just imagine what it would be like to have groups of these types of families all together in a church! What a glorious witness that would be, and what a joy it would be to be a part of such a relationship-driven Christian community!

But it all starts with the individual family and how its members see themselves....

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What Exactly IS Education?

What does it mean to be “educated?” Most in today’s world answer this question by saying an “educated” person has taken the classes prescribed by a schooling institution and preferably finishes with at least a four-year degree. Our society seems to equate having a piece of paper from a four-year institution with qualifying a person as “educated.” But are they? Really?

I would challenge you to take a look at your own “education” as I look at mine. I graduated from my high school as valedictorian. I went on to get a four-year degree in Electrical Engineering from a reasonably good engineering school. So I guess I’m “educated.” At middle age, I would look back at my own personal experience and ask, “What do I actually remember from the classes that made me ‘educated’?” The bottom line is that if the information is retained only long enough to pass a test, then you really haven’t learned it; you’ve only been exposed to it. In math, I am incapable of doing anything beyond Algebra II without restudying and relearning it. This is in spite of having enough advanced math in college for math to qualify as a minor! How about Chemistry? I had an honors Chemistry class my freshman year. I could not have told you anything of substance about Chemistry within a year of completion of that class. How about all the EE specialty classes I took? None. Nothing. Nada. There is absolutely nothing remaining in my brain from those classes, and I can realistically say that there was little or nothing remaining within a year of completing those classes either.

I truly believe that I am not alone here. Unless a person becomes involved in his field, and thus immerses himself in the subject (there’s the key, folks!), it will not last. And anything that does not last wasn’t really learned in the first place. How many of your children have taken more than a year of foreign language? Have you asked them to speak it to you a year later? Or read it? Or write it? I’m willing to bet the normal child will be unable to do much more than a couple of words. (Hey, I was in Spanish Honor Society and took two years of Spanish in High School…but within a year could only count to 30 and say a few short phrases at best.)

So how does this apply to the education of our children? How did the children of the 1700s learn? They didn’t have scope and sequences. They didn’t have “professionals” to teach them. And yet the literacy rate of America in the 1700s was well over 90%! How could that be? That’s especially telling when you consider that the functional literacy rate of today’s America is around 85% (according to Wikipedia,) in spite of the enormous sums spent to “educate” our populace. And even more critical is that the average person living in the 1700s could run rings around most of us in virtually any subject outside of modern science and technology. Why? How were they educated?

John Taylor Gatto (not a Christian, that I can tell), former NYC and NY State Teacher of the Year, describes the colonial era education model as one where a child was taught the basics of reading and writing, and then allowed/encouraged to pursue his interests as far as they would take him by reading, apprenticing, interacting, debating…and then moving on to the next interest. This provided a person with an in-depth, thoughtful exposure to a subject that was meaningful to the person at the time…which then results in real learning: retention with the ability to apply, discuss, and debate what was learned. Great men like George Washington, Thomas Edison, and Ben Franklin all learned this way (Gatto profiles each them in his book, “The Underground History of American Education). And I believe this is more of the format that is used for learning at the PhD levels of higher education today. So why does one have to go that far in his journey of learning to get to a place where he can learn in this manner??? But I digress....

Back to the "key" mentioned above: My own personal example is when I finally got to USAF Pilot Training. I was in love with becoming a pilot. I dreamed about it. Every waking moment it was not far from my mind. And because of this intense interest, as well as the absolute focus of the training, I did well...and to this day can speak of details of the airplane I flew over twenty years ago, to include its aerodynamic specifics and entry speeds for various aerobatics. A second example is the Bible. Upon becoming a Christian, my interest in the Bible skyrocketed. As such, I don't chafe at learning theology...I embrace it. And by immersing myself in specific classes over time, reading good books, and discussing/debating with other Christians, I have learned a lot about the theology...and have retained it!

We in America don't educate our children that way, even as homeschoolers. Instead, we model our homeschools like a public school, with scope and sequences and hopping from one subject to another to ensure that “they don’t get behind.” (Behind "what" is never addressed.) As a result, our children never become masters at anything, but rather shallowly exposed to many things. That homeschooled children do better than their public schooled counterparts is mostly due to the effects of individual tutoring.

So maybe what we take for granted as defining an "educated" person isn't really accurate. Maybe we as parents would do well to take some quiet time and muse over what "education" actually is...even more importantly, maybe we should study our Bibles and let God inform us as to what He considers to be important. Then maybe we should wrestle with this definition and with what God shows us, discussing it with our spouses...and then most importantly, we should apply it to the raising of our children.

My guess is that the result of such an exercise will be something quite countercultural, but something that will result in children who are raised to contend for the Kingdom and who are well on their way to having the mind of Christ. That's the sort of child who will be an adult who actually impacts his culture for Christ instead of adapting to it.

Let's pray for impact!!!

[Update Oct 3, 2006... An example of impact!! I have begun reading "The Pursuit of God" by A.W. Tozer. The preface gives a profile of his life. It turns out that Tozer attended neither high school nor college! He wasn't homeschooled either. Instead, he was a voracious reader. And (to quote the preface), "With no teacher but the Holy Spirit and good books, A.W. Tozer became a theologian, a scholar, and a master craftsman in the use of the English language." He ultimately became a Godly pastor and an author whose writings have allowed millions to draw nearer to God. Now that is impact we could pray to see more often!]

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Vacation and Brain Freeze

Go on vacation...
Have a great time...
Don't post for a while...

And watch your brain freeze up for topics!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Do We Believe?

As I pondered the post answering the last question in the "Gifts or Idols" series, I couldn't shake the feeling that we as Christians don't consider the reality of the doctrine of hell, and are thus less than motivated when it comes to evangelism or, more to the point here, the discipling of our children. We are thus willing to follow the ways of the culture and to think that our children won't be part of the over 75% who turn their backs on their faith once out from under the roof of their parents.

So I decided to write more on the topic of hell over at my other blog, "Rise Up and Get Serious," since the question has application far outside the realm of child-rearing.

May we all grasp the doctrine of eternal punishment with more gravity, and may that give us the courage to challenge the culture for the sake of our children's souls.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Gifts or Idols? Part VII

Question #7 from the post that started this series asks, "Could the answers to these questions also have anything to do with the huge number of young adults raised in Evangelical Christian homes walking away from their faith?"

Really, this is the bottom line of all our efforts at parenting, isn't it? If our children are successful at everything the world offers them, yet walk away from the faith because they don't know Christ Jesus...then we have failed. Exactly what good is it for them to gain the whole world, and yet lose their souls? (Yes, I am fully aware of the implications of Reformed Theology and that God must be the One Who changes their heart. But our part in the equation is to acquaint them with Jesus, both through word and through action. We are to disciple them!)

If you took the time to listen to the sermon by Voddie Baucham as linked in my earlier post you will hear him delineate the problem just within the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention. And if it's a problem can guarantee it's a bigger problem almost everywhere else. Pastor Baucham points out statistical surveys have shown that between 75% and 88% of SBC young people (depending on the particular survey) walk away from their faith by the end of their first year in college. THAT ought to frighten every true Christian parent down to the depth of their souls. The implications of that are that at least three out of every four of our sons and daughters are destined for an eternity of horror in hell unless God intervenes later in their lives...something that other surveys show isn't all that likely. (Of course, I am not about to constrain God's actions by surveys...but currently there are very, very few adults who turn their lives over to Christ, which indicates that here in America, God doesn't often move in the hearts of adults as compared to the hearts of young people.)

True Christian parents understand the depths and horrors of hell, and to contemplate even for a minute that their children might be destined for an eternity in hell should shock them out of their societal mindset and cause them to give considerable thought to what part they should be playing in giving their children every possible opportunity to embrace Christ in all His glory. are responsible for this discipleship and you cannot hand it off to anyone else, including youth groups and Christian schools (although certainly your wife, your helpmeet, can stand in your stead when you aren't available...but overall, it's still your responsibility). Ephesians 6:4 says, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." Psalm 78:1-8 says, "Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, 3 things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. 5 He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, 6 that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, 7 so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; 8 and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God."

Over and over again we see the example of generations of Israelites falling away from God in spite of the previous generation being close to God. What is the lesson? The older generation didn't pass down the faith, they didn't tell of God's wondrous deeds. Psalm 78 tells us twice that the fathers are supposed to do this, and it also illustrates why: " that they should set their hope in God...."

If there is to be any hope for our children, we as parents...and especially dads...must disciple our children. We must consider why we do the things we do when we are raising them. We must not just go along with raising them according to the culture of the day...even according to the Evangelical culture (with a 75% failure rate...why in the world should we even consider doing what they do?????).

Please...parents...please turn your eyes to eternity and consider your children. Please look critically at what our culture is saying about how to raise our children and what it means to "be successful." Please have the strength to rise up and "buck" the culture...for the sake of your children and their eternal souls. Please don't define success in worldly terms; define it in "Christ-like" terms. Again...what does it prosper a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose his soul?

Or more to the point here, what does it prosper a parent to raise a child who is successful in the world, and yet lose his soul for eternity?

Gifts or Idols? Part VI

Ahh...finally back to the "Gifts or Idols" questions!

Question number six from my earlier post asked, "Could the answers to these questions have something to do with why today's teens and young adults are so self-centered?"

I think that by simply reading the previous answers I have posted, the answer to this question is pretty clear: Yes!

What are the most common answers to the previous questions? I'll review and summarize them here.

1) Our focus as parents is typically on the children as the primary emphasis of the home.
2) We are raising our children "to be successful" instead of "to be like Christ."
3) Our parenting methodology is to focus our entire lives on our children, giving them every opportunity possible, all the while subordinating any other family responsibilities to these opportunities.
4) Because of the previous three answers, our children learn that the world revolves around them and they come to believe that is right and proper.
5) And of course, we want to ensure that we have built good self-esteem in the children and that they feel good about themselves. In other words, they are again told they are the most important thing in the world.

And then we wonder why teens and young adults are so focused on self, why they are unable/unwilling to give the time of day to people outside of their little peer group. After all, it's all about them...that's what they've been taught through the actions of their parents and society all through their lives. Far be it for the typical teen (especially the "cool" ones) to give the time of day to a child or to an adult. Far be it for them to give of themselves to serve another. After all, it's all about them, and serving isn't fun!

And then they are asked to grow up and take responsibility...and that doesn't sit so well either. As Dr. Albert Mohler (link on the left) states so often, we have a crisis of extended adolescence, of young men well into their 20s who should be doing adult things and contributing to society instead still living with their parents and avoiding all the responsibilities of adult life. That certainly isn't the type of man any sane parent wants for a son-in-law!

So, as parents, if we want to see our teens/young adults modeling Christ-like behavior rather than the typical self-centered hubris we see in most, we need to do something different. We need to be discipling our children such that they learn their true position in this world: that of a sinner, yet created by God, loved enough to have God's Son die for their sin, and now expected to put full faith and trust in Jesus and to grow in likeness to Him...and that likeness is anything but what is seen in today's young society.

But even scarier than the character defects and societal implications of Question #6 is the answer to Question #7....

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Desiring God National Conference

Funny how I just heard of Voddie Baucham from a different source...and here I find him as one of the featured speakers at the Desiring God 2006 National Conference.

If you haven't marked your calendar for this conference, do so now! You won't be sorry. September 29 - October 1, 2006 in Minneapolis, MN.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Closing the Generational Gap

According to statistics from the Southern Baptist Convention, over 75% of our children are turning their backs on their faith by the end of their first year in college. Statistically, Americans (and that includes evangelical Christians) are having fewer children than are required for replacing the population...only 1.9. That means that it will take two evangelical families to produce a single Christian in the next generation. And of course, that doesn't even consider that three souls from Christian families are destined for an eternity in Hell....

Concerned? Then I plead with you to take the time to listen to this wonderful sermon posted online. Unfortunately, you can't download it...only listen online. You will be challenged and convicted about our children's eternal future and what we should be doing about it.

I have to give credit for finding this sermon link posted at Scott Brown's blog (see link on left). I had never heard of Voddie Baucham, but he is an elder at Grace Family Baptist Church (Southern Baptist Convention) in Houston, Texas and delivered this wonderful address at a Texas Baptist Evangelism Conference.

It's available to hear (but not download) at:

Closing the Generational Gap

Scroll through the sermons listed until you find Pastor Baucham's.

You can purchase Pastor Baucham's sermons at:

Enjoy...and be convicted!!! And then do something about that conviction!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Gifts or Idols? Part V

Question #5 from my earlier post asks, "How important is your child's self-esteem?"

It seems that is all we hear about lately: self-esteem, as if it were the nexus of what it means to be emotionally healthy. Everything we read tells us to build up little Johnny's and little Jenny's self-esteem. So we put them in sports. When they play in a sport such as soccer, there really will be no losers because everybody gets a trophy. Our kids end up with rooms full of trophies that don't mean anything because they didn't come from succeeding, but only from participating! Is that really building up their self-esteem? Does self-esteem even really matter?

In some respects, I would say the answer is, "yes, it matters." But the trick is how that self-esteem is built. If it is built by the awarding of "fake" trophies, by giving praise that isn't warranted, or by false "success," then it is not even worth considering because the person has to know deep in his heart that there are no grounds for the accolades. (And then he gets the normal evolutionary clap-trap in his group school about how he was just a cosmic accident, a descendant of apes. So he knows he has no grounds for his accolades and he believes he is a cosmic accident...and yes he is supposed to feel good about himself. Hmmmm.....)

Instead, it should be built by a right relationship with the child's Creator. By right relationship, I mean an understanding that his worth comes not from kicking a ball into a net or scoring against an opponent. It comes not even from such worthy things as good academics or great talent at music. It comes from understanding that his Creator knew him before the foundation of time; that He knew him in his mother's womb where He personally knit him together. It comes from knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is made in the image of the one and only living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!

And it comes from a right relationship with that one and only having repented of his sin and turned in hope to that one and only God's Son, Jesus Christ. The understanding of the love that Christ showed on the cross and that God showed by sending His Son to that cross brings self-worth and self-esteem into proper focus...a focus not on self, but on the One who created you and who died that you may live. The focus is outward, not inward. "I am not worthy, yet God did this wonderful thing anyway, that I might be reconciled to Him. Praise His Name!!!"

That is self-esteem, and that will help your child grow in maturity and proper outlook on life. And it will put the accolades from all other successes in proper perspective: activities, abilities, and awards don't define your child; God defines your child through His Son.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Gifts or Idols? Part IV

Question #4 from my earlier post asked, "By our parenting methodology, where do our children learn to focus?"

This one hits hard at a cherished American cultural child-raising tradition. This particular tradition, though, is only a generation or so old. What might that child-raising tradition be? It is the idolatry of children.

Oh, but wait! I don't make idols out of my children! I am just giving them every opportunity so they will be well-rounded and find themselves.

We couch this idolatry in the language of "opportunity" and creating "successful" children. The painful reality, though is that it makes the children become idols. We as parents (and yes, I'm guilty here, too) load up our schedules to the bursting point with activities for the kids. Soccer, music lessons, baseball, band, dance, karate, church, youth group, and on and on and on and on. We want to make sure little junior isn't left behind. After all, if he might want to play ball at the varsity level in high school, he has to start in PeeWee before kindergarten! Otherwise he won't be good enough!

We sacrifice family unity and family time at the altar of activity. It takes very little time for the children to realize that the world as they know it revolves around them and their schedule. Mom and Dad jump at every notice of a game or practice. Mom and Dad sacrifice their schedules for those of the kids. What is the unspoken message that gets communicated here?

I dare say it is that the kids are the most important thing in the household. All eyes are upon them. Everything that happens in the household depends upon them.

And to answer question #4...where do they learn to focus? Why on themselves and their own personal happiness, of course!

And then we wonder why they are so self-centered as teens, why they don't look outside themselves and their peer group. Could it be that all those years of focusing of them has taught them well, taught them to focus on themselves? (OK...leaped a little here into Question #6.)

I know this sounds harsh. Shouldn't a parent focus on his child? Absolutely. The question though becomes one of methodology.

If you focus on the child the way we tend to do in today's society, then the result discussed above will be the most common result. On the other hand, if the focus is on discipling the child in the ways of God and learning well the Second Greatest Commandment, to love our neighbors as ourselves, then the child learns that he is there to serve others in the name of Christ. He learns the joy of service, of putting others before himself. He learns that his Creator is pleased when he looks outside himself in the power of the Holy Spirit.

So rather than giving our children as many "experiences" as possible, let's disciple them instead. So they don't make the high school varsity baseball team. Does it really matter? Does it really matter if instead, they are fine, mature, godly young men and women who are impacting their own teen culture with their witness of service? Which is God more concerned about? How many teams they were on and how well they played...or what their character has become and how well they are imitating His Son?

I think the answer is obvious. The hard part is bucking the culture in order to accomplish it....

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

More on "Successful" Children

I was perusing one of the blogs I frequent when I came upon this post...and it happened to coincide so well with the answer to question #3 that I thought I'd include it here.

"Doggy Obedience School for Children" (the link is no longer active, but I'm leaving the post because the point is still good) is a compelling and sad commentary on using "education" as an excuse for sending our children out of the house to the "experts" at a younger and younger age. Of course, we are doing this so they will be "successful" and "educated."

That may assuage our consciences, but it doesn't make it true or right....

Monday, June 05, 2006

Side Note

Just a quick side note. As I was reading back through some of my posts, I realized that I write as I did when I was originally taught when it comes to the use of pronouns. I don't confuse a sentence by using he/she or him/her, but rather write as was once common, using "he" or "him" in a manner that the context makes it clear the statement applies to both genders.

I know that rubs some people the wrong way in this day and age...but call me old-fashioned!

Gifts or Idols? Part III

Question number 3 from my earlier post asked, "That purpose (as in the purpose determined in Question #2) will be borne out in how we go about raising our children. What, exactly, is our parenting methodology?"

So much of the answer to this question depends on your answer to question number 2. In fact, the answer to this question will often reveal the true answer to question number 2, in spite of the answer one may officially give.

A parent who looks at the goal of raising children "to be successful" will typically view his children as little empty vessels in which to pour information in hopes that it will stick. He wants to expose his children to as much of this world as possible so they can "experience" it so as to help them determine where they want to go in life. He wants his children to experience and have fun all the way through get as much done as possible...before becoming tied down with a family. In short, he is focusing on his children's happiness and in a round-about way, his own reputation as a parent. He views "education" as an end in and of itself because it supposedly makes his child "successful." There really isn't a definition of what "successful" is, but the more "education" his child can get certainly contributes to that "success."

On the other hand, a parent who sees his child as a gift on loan from God, a child who was placed on this earth with a specific purpose, will approach parenting in a wholly different manner. He will search out the Scripture for wisdom. He will train up his child in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6) by teaching him the things of God and training him to be a sage. Wisdom at a young age is quite uncommon in our world, but it isn't impossible with proper training and discipleship. I once read in an article by Chris and Ellyn Davis of "The Elijah Company", that the Hebrew word translated "...the way he should go..." is only used a couple of times in the entire Old Testament, the other being in describing the purpose of the Temple. It has connotations of being created for a specific purpose. "The way he should go" is not to be determined by the parents' dreams and desires placed upon the child. Instead we as parents must study and interact with our child, determine his "bent," and then continue to build him in that direction. Since we understand that God will not act contrary to His Word, we should ensure that the Scriptures are consulted for boundaries and directions. For instance, a young boy should not be channeled toward a career that would keep him from being able to disciple his family one day. From God's view, the development of future generations is far more important than any career one could have.

Scripture doesn't encourage us to educate or raise our children according to the scope and sequence of the world. It does set priorities for us by showing us clearly what God values. I enumerated on several of these in a previous post, but here I would like to focus on wisdom. God values wisdom. It is clear in the Proverbs that wisdom is a thing to be prayed for, to be sought after, to be prized. The word "knowledge" in the Proverbs is usually just a synonym for "wisdom." The world has more than enough "smart" people, but very, very few who are actually wise in the ways of God. A generation of Christian children raised in godly wisdom could easily send a massive shockwave through the kingdom of this world!

So before one even considers the particular giftings God has for a child, a parent can rest assured that if he trains him in the ways of Scripture, teaching him doctrine, while helping him learn to wisely apply Scripture to his daily walk...that parent will be right in the center of God's will for his child.

Back to the question: what parenting methodology should one use? I think the answer is obvious. Parents should first and foremost strive for holiness in their children, for children who love the Lord with all their hearts, minds, souls, and strength. That absolutely must be primary. Fathers should be taking the lead in this discipling, with the mothers helping out and standing in his stead when he cannot be there. Once this discipling in the ways of the Lord is firmly established, a discerning judgment should be made as to each child's particular temperament, strengths, gifts, etc. Then mold that child accordingly, helping to guide him into adulthood in all wisdom and grace.

So which of these options happens in your home? The answer to that question gives light to the real answer to question number 2 in your home, for to raise our children in the general way described at first is to raise them as self-absorbed humanists. To raise them as described in the latter portion of this post is to raise them as wise Christians who will glorify God with their lives.

Which will it be?

Gifts or Idols? Part II

Question number 2 from my earlier post asked, "For what purpose are we raising our children?"

Often the pagan answer is "To be successful." Occasionally the more astute Christian will say, "To become godly adults." or "To glorify God." The problem is what that actually means in practice...but that's question #3....

Being a Christian, I want to focus on the Christian answers. I'm afraid they fall short. Sure, being godly adults and glorifying God are fine goals, but they are too broad. For those of us who embrace the sovereignty of God in all things, we understand that each child was planned before the foundation of time to be placed in our specific family and that each child also has a very specific role already laid out for him by God. God knows the plans He has for each child (and us, too, for that matter!).

So we can come back to our question and look at it a little differently. What is the purpose for which we are raising our children? That purpose has been predestined before the foundation of the earth. Our children have each been given specific gifts, talents, and strengths with which they will accomplish the good works God has planned for them. Our job as parents is to carefully study our children, to ascertain those gifts, talents, and strengths. Then we are to reference Scripture for direction (for example, for the roles given to the genders), and then capitalize upon those giftings within the confines and guidelines of the Scripture. In other words, we need to look carefully in order to try to isolate the specific purpose God already has for our children.

It is imperative that we do not just follow the ways of the world by letting others have their way with our children for countless hours each week. How could we possibly know our children well enough to make these types of determinations unless we spend the time with them? But I stray into Question #3 again....

So the bottom line is that the purpose in raising our children is very specific, and thus different for each child. Our task is to determine that purpose based on knowing our child, and knowing what Scripture has to say as well.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Gifts or Idols? Part I

I asked in a previous post a series of questions. I am going to attempt to answer them to the best of my abilities and understanding, possibly just one or two per post.

Question #1 asked "Where is our focus when raising children?"

This is tough because it requires discernment. Of course, our focus is on the child. But as we focus on our children, we need to ask if we can properly focus on God. Focus implies prioritizing. Do we unconsciously make our children our first priority, our spouse our second priority, and God our third priority? I think an honest introspection in a quiet moment will reveal that this is often the case. It may not be the case 100% of the time, but I'm willing to state that there are at least times in life where it does happen.

Let us not forget that God will not take second place in our lives. He rightly and justly demands first place, no matter what we may think of the needs of our children. When we place the children first, we are saying we know better than God...and that is pride speaking. So as we rise up each day, is it given over to the Lord? Do we trust Him with its activities and outcome? This isn't just a time of quiet worship in the is a moment-by-moment decision. For example... You didn't get all the items the experts from the curriculum development company said you should do today because your child needed some extra attention in another area or because there was a ministry opportunity for your family. Do you get overwhelmed and frustrated...burned out? Do you trust God with the outcome? Or do you fear the experts' dreaded scope and sequence more? Where is your focus?

OK... so I'll focus on God first. I'll trust Him with every moment of my day. Then I'll focus on my child. Uh...not so fast. There is another priority: your spouse.

We all have heard the admonition that the best gift we can give our children is to love their other parent. We all nod our heads in agreement...and then go on to put that love for the other parent in a position far below its proper priority. Where in the priority order would God have you put your spouse/marriage? I believe He would have it in second place...right behind Himself. He created the institution of marriage to reflect the relationship between Jesus and His Church. As such, He highly values marriage...over and above the raising of children. In Genesis, marriage came before children!

But it's funny how putting God first, putting your spouse and marriage second naturally results in a good and proper environment for the raising of children! In fact, when you prioritize this way, little Johnny and little Jenny discover their proper place in the family...they aren't in charge and the world doesn't revolve around them!

So, where's your focus in raising your child? Let's all get on our knees, repent as needed, and then put our focus on our Father in heaven, followed by our spouse and our marriage...and then watch our children blossom in the fertile garden of the home that is then created.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Children: Gifts on Loan from God...or Idols?

Over on my Get Serious blog (link on the left), I was commenting on what a typical evangelical Christian tends to look like...generalized, of course. In the process I mentioned that we often make idols out of our children. I suppose this is the blog on which that topic ought to be fleshed out further...and I'll have to do it at another time (getting late and have to earn a living in the morning).

But some questions to ponder (Each is linked to its particular answer):


Tuesday, May 30, 2006


In Psalm 127, children are referred to as arrows in the hands of a warrior and that a blessed man has a quiver full of them. Often, this analogy to arrows is interpreted as meaning we should spend their childhood aiming them carefully so when they are released into adulthood, they will fly straight to the target.

My daughter purchased a bow and arrow set a couple of summers ago. We quickly found out that arrows require a lot of work...and these were only cheap target-practice arrows. They must be kept clean. They must have their feathers kept straight. They must be kept balanced. Their tip must be kept sharp. And on top of the maintenance, they are continually getting lost...and must be searched for since small allowances don't allow for easy replacement! Higher-end hunting arrows are far more complicated and require far more care...and are far more expensive as well.

This got me to thinking about how we interpret the analogy.

The common interpretation allows that we only release the arrow once toward a target. In the real world of archery, though, the arrow is aimed, released to the target, and then retrieved to be cleaned up and used again. How might this apply to the raising of our children?

I propose that we should be training up our children in the same manner that an accomplished archer cares for his arrows: sharpening, balancing, straightening, etc. Then we should do as the archer does: carefully aim and release toward a target. Assuming the archer is a hunter, the arrow would do massive damage to its target. We should be releasing our sharpened, balanced, straightened children toward a target in the world to do damage to the kingdom of this world in the name of the Kingdom of God! But we aren't done. The archer will track down his target, recover his arrow, repair it, and use it again. So our children should be recovered to our home, "repaired" as needed, and launched again to do battle.

This is all done before they leave the nest for good. They are sent out to minister in the name of the Lord. They are recovered and rejuvenated and sent out again. Think of the experiences they will have. Think of the training they will get. Think of the ways they will see God work in their lives. Think of the mark they will leave in the world. Think of the way they will be significantly different than the other teens of this world. Think of the Gospel impact!

I will never think of the analogy of the arrow the same again....

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Primary Consideration

As a Christian, my primary consideration at all times should be to please my Father in Heaven, to be in His will. How do I know what that will is? As I posted on my "Get Serious" blog (link on the left), we all too often look for God's will in terms of feelings or circumstances instead of looking where we will actually find it: His Holy Scripture! You can guarantee that if you are ordering your life around the principles, patterns, and precepts of the Scriptures, that you are completely within God's will! Pretty simple, right?

Simple in concept...a bit more difficult in execution. Some things must be studied carefully in order to properly interpret Scripture. That requires work, diligent work.

So...for instance...what does God value, and how does that relate to the education of our children? I'm sure I will post an incomplete list...but it's a start!

God values our hearts. He wants us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. That sounds pretty comprehensive, if you ask me.

God values our "fear." i.e. we are often commanded to "fear the Lord." He wants our complete attention. When one "fears" God, then one can rest assured that he will give God his complete attention!

God values wisdom. What kind of wisdom? Not the wisdom of the world, but rather God's own wisdom as grasped from the Scriptures, both through doctrine and through the wisdom literature of the OT.

God values our obedience. Over and over we are told that our love for the Lord is shown in our obedience to His commands.

So...our hearts, our "fear," God's wisdom, and our obedience. That's a good start. Then, what are the implications to educating our children?

First, in no way is any school's (public or private) scope and sequence going to help us raise our children in a manner that encourages them to give their whole heart to God, to fear the Lord, to gain godly wisdom, or to obey the Lord's commands. If we are constantly comparing our efforts at home to what is happening to those in the school system or in private school, we will be drawn away from what the Lord truly wants by focusing our attention on what the world says is important.

Second, God gave us children with an end in mind...a life He already has planned out for them. Our job is to help discover that life with them by carefully observing them, working with them, noting their strengths and weaknesses...and then guiding them carefully to an end, always squaring what we are doing with the roles as defined by Scripture.

And this then helps to clarify why my blog is titled the way it is: We as homeSCHOOLers tend to spend way too much time focusing on trying to do "school" (the same scope and sequence as the world) better than the schools themselves, all while practicing an avoidance ethic for all the practices and ideas we don't like. This tends to cause us to ignore that which is truly important and truly desired by God...the discipling of our children. If it happens at all, it is usually a sloppy second to the primary goal of competing with the group school.

Thus my hope that more and more people will rename what they are doing with their children from "Homeschooling" to "HomeDiscipling!"

If we carry out that discipling, I really think we will raise children who will make a massive impact for the Kingdom as they grow.

I think God would be pleased....

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Long View

Ahhh...children. When they arrive into this world, there is nothing like it. We look down the corridor of time and hope. Hope? For what? For most of us, we don't have a concrete goal for the raising of our children. Oh sure, we may have some general thoughts such as "Raise them to be Godly," but for the most part, it isn't concrete nor is there any plan for how to get there if it is.

So for the parent who loves Jesus and wants to raise children who love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength...what do we do? What is our goal? How do we pursue it?

That's the general idea of this blog...challenging the typical parenting ideas that are so prevalent in our society. Could it be that those very parenting ideas are why children, teens, and young adults are the way they are, and thus our society is degenerating at every turn?

Do I have all the answers? No. But I'll start and end as best I can with Scripture. Only there can we have any hope of getting it right.