A Letter to My Daughter

 

I wrote this letter when my daughter was 10 years old. Now that she is just a few days away from turning 18 I thought it was time to repost. I’m so proud of the young lady she has become. She shines with the love of Christ and she has my heart!

Dearmother and daugtherest Daughter,

 

 One of the highest callings in life is that of a mother.  It comes with great joy and incredible responsibilities.  When God gave you to me, He gave me a most precious gift.  You are a joy and delight.  When you smile your sweet countenance spreads light throughout the room.  You can laugh and turn sorrow into joy.  You are a treasure and your calm disposition brings peace to our home.  I realize that I only have a few years in which to teach and train you to become a virtuous young lady of highest character but that is my desire. 

 

 Daughter, there are many things I want you to know.  First of all, know that I love your father.  Next to Christ he is my dearest friend.  Every night as I pray for you, my prayer is that someday God will bring a godly young man into your life that mightily loves the Lord and deeply cherishes his wife, just like your father.   I pray you discover early on in your marriage your God given role as wife and that you will embrace it with joy. 

 

I want you to know that children are a blessing from God.  Today children seem to be nothing more than a burden to many in which to cast off on someone else.  You and your brothers are a joy and I thank God daily for each of you.  I praise Him for the opportunity that He has given your father and me to raise you.  I want you to know that we will do our best to raise you not by the world’s standards but by God’s standards alone.  The world says you must be beautiful on the outside and that your value is based on how you look and dress.  God says that your value is based on who you are.  True beauty comes from within and God’s standard is one of purity. 

 

 Never forget that the most important thing in this life are relationships. Your relationship with God is first and foremost.  Only in Christ will you find complete fulfillment.  Your life will be void if you look to any other.  Second is your relationship with others.  Never miss opportunities to love your family, to build and cultivate friendships, and to reach out with kindness to strangers.  For it is in loving and serving others that Christ will be glorified. 

 

 Finally, I want you to know that no matter what stage of life you are in and no matter what you find yourself doing, make sure that it is for God’s glory.  If you’re being educated, learn with the desire to use your gifts to please God.  If you’re working, whatsoever your hands find to do, do all for the glory of God.  If you’re serving others, do it to point others to Christ.  Remember, you have purpose; no matter your age or station in life God has a plan for you.  Seek Him with your whole heart and your life will be complete.  You will have joy unspeakable.   Know that I will make mistakes and sometimes fail you, but I pray with all my heart that my words and actions as your mother are that in which you can look to as a godly example.

 

 I love you sweet daughter.

 

ABORTION – Is There Not A Cause?

babyThe Bible tells a story of a young shepherd boy and his foe. The Philistine army gathered for war against Israel. For forty days the giant, Goliath of Gath, stood mocking as he challenged the Israelites to fight. Saul, the King of Israel, and the whole army fled in fear. David, the youngest son of Jesse, was sent to the battle lines by his father to bring back news of his brothers. While there he heard Goliath shouting his daily defiance. “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” David asked as righteous anger burned within him.  Will no one take a stand?  King Saul, the one chosen to lead the people, sits by in fear doing nothing.  Subsequently, the one who is willing to fight for the Lord is criticized by his brother.  Yet David addressed the true matter by asking, “Is there not a cause?”  (I Sam. 17)

Is there not a cause?  Such a pondering question. Yesterday I found myself asking this very one.  A friend brought to my attention an ad that ran in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last Friday. The full-page advertisement (see here) placed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation asked, “What Does The Bible Really Say about Abortion?” As I read the ad David’s question burned within me. Just who is this organization that they should defy the Living God? Mockingly, they declare that the Bible does not condemn abortion and even “shows an utter disregard for human life”.

Using text out of context, they twist scripture in the same vile fashion as Satan did when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. It always strikes me funny when people who claim there is no God, try and use His Word to prove their points. But the Bible speaks to this when it says in 1 Corinthians 2:14 that a person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness. The secular man cannot understand the things of God because the things of God are only discerned through the Spirit of God. But nevertheless, they try. Using Genesis 2:7 they say that life does not begin at conception, but rather when a person starts breathing. “The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” It goes without saying that Adam’s beginning was unique to mankind. The first woman was created just as unique as she was taken from her husband’s rib. Both were fully formed adults at creation, not babies in the womb.

The ad tried to prove from the Bible that fetuses are not persons. Again, more twisting of scripture. Repeatedly the Bible refers to pregnant women as being “with child.” Job, the oldest book in the Bible, refers to unborn children as infants. The Psalmists declares, “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139:13-14). God tells the Prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” The Apostle Paul says, “it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,” (Galatians 1:15). God is the giver of life. This life begins at conception. To take life through abortion is to murder the innocent. It doesn’t get any more innocent than an unborn child and it should be noted that “hands that shed innocent blood” is listed in Proverbs 6 as an abomination to God and a sin that He hates.

Not only does the FFRF ad mock God and His Word, it deceives readers saying, “We live under a secular Constitution that wisely separates religion from government, and protects women’s reproductive rights.” There are three fallacies with this one statement. First, read the writings of the men who penned the Constitution. They were not secular. Most of these men were believers in Jesus Christ. They acknowledge this in Article 7 of the United States Constitution when they wrote, “Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord…”  Second, Thomas Jefferson’s “separation of church and state” phrase is not found in the Constitution but rather comes from a personal letter written to a group of Baptists. Third, the constitution does not give women a right to murder their children. However, before the Constitution was penned some of the same Founding Fathers did write about certain rights.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These truths (absolute truths) are self-evident (undeniable and obvious) that our rights come from our Creator (Jesus Christ our Lord). These rights include Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Notice that life comes first. Freedom and happiness is of little value if there is no right to life.

Let me ask again, is there not a cause?  Christians, have we forgotten who we are?  Have we lost the will to stand up against this massacre?  Does not the slaying of millions move us to action? If so, pick up a stone of truth and whirl it at the giant of lies that is constantly mocking our God. Take a stand. Write a letter. Support a pro-life candidate. Labor in prayer. Give your time, treasure and talents. It is a worthy cause.

Christian friend, if you no longer feel compassion, concern or cause over the fact that thousands upon thousands of babies are murdered every day then please consider these words. “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Surely we did not know this,’ does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds? (Proverbs 24:10-12)

Salt & Light, Our Children & Public Schools

SaltAndLightChristians1Ephesians chapter 5 tells the believer to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. It goes on to say wake up; redeem the time, because the days are evil.  I believe a lot of Christian parents are beginning to wake up to the truths of public education. In the past decade the number of homeschooled children has increased by 62%. With the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, the force of Common Core, humanistic and atheistic teaching, and safety concerns across the nation, homeschool organizations are anticipating even further growth.

A few weeks ago I ran into a pastor who has been taking a stand on the LBGT within our local school board. He mentioned that he didn’t know what he and his wife were going to do about their children being in public school. He’s concerned, and rightly so. In light of society, I’m concerned for Christian parents who are not concerned.

There is a humanistic agenda within the system – from the top down.  For years US Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been speaking out about this agenda. Then last week after the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage the Department of Education flaunted its support by changing their Facebook profile page to the gay rainbow. And it is only going to get worse.

Because our government schools have become such a dark place I am so very thankful for our Christian teachers and leaders who are there being salt and light day in and day out. God bless each of them. They are fighting a battle right on the front lines. They need our support and prayers. But what about the Christian youth? Our innocent children? Shouldn’t they be salt and light in our public schools as well? My friend, Jonathan Lewis, one of the founders of Home School Enrichment Magazine has agreed to share his thoughts on this very issue.

Salt & Light

Taking a look at the #1 Christian argument against homeschooling

By Jonathan Lewis

Throughout the years of the modern homeschooling movement, a number of arguments have been raised against home education. Doubtless you’ve heard many of them. “How can an untrained mother teach her children? What about socialization? How are you going to teach higher math? How will your kids get into college?”

In Christian circles, there’s another argument that’s frequently brought up by parents who have opted to send their kids to public school. Perhaps you’ve heard it from parents in your church: “I’m sending my kids to public school to be salt and light,” they say. “If all the Christian kids leave the schools, who will reach the students left behind?”

This argument, because of its spiritual overtones and scriptural reference, often seems more difficult to answer than other arguments against homeschooling. After all, how can we argue against being salt and light? Wouldn’t that mean we don’t care about kids and teachers who don’t know Christ?

This argument has left many current or would-be homeschooling parents feeling torn and conflicted, unsure of how to weigh their responsibility toward their own children against their sense of responsibility to further the Great Commission—to reach the world with the gospel of Christ. Somehow it seems unchristian to leave the schools without a godly influence, and yet . . . should I risk my child’s spiritual well-being by sending him away to school? No wonder parents are feeling torn!

Is there an answer to this argument? Can Scripture be used to justify sending our children to public school? Should we send our children out as missionaries, or should we keep them at home? What is the scriptural answer to this conflicting sense of responsibility parents are feeling?

 The Source of the Argument

The salt and light argument finds its source in Matthew 5:13–16, where Jesus tells His disciples that they are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world,” and that they should let their light “so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Thus, the argument says that Christian kids should attend public school to be a witness for Christ. They further argue that if all Christian kids are removed from the public schools, the students and teachers left behind will be stranded without a voice of truth or the opportunity to see a positive Christian witness.

 First Things First

Before looking at possible responses, it’s important for us to realize something fundamental right from the beginning. The salt and light argument itself inherently acknowledges that our schools are largely godless. No one uses this argument to justify sending kids to a Christian school, because presumably the students there either already know Christ or at least have opportunity to hear about Him in ways other than through Christian students.

In other words, we only send missionaries where they’re needed—where there is a sufficient lack of truth and godly influence to give them room and opportunity to work. Thus, the argument itself acknowledges the largely godless condition of our public education system, and the parents who use this argument are as much as admitting that the overall environment at school is more or less hostile to the Christian faith. Some would attempt to maintain that the schools are not hostile to our faith, but are instead religiously neutral; this, however, is a difficult case to support, especially in view of Christ’s declaration in Matthew 12:30 that “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” Christ doesn’t leave neutrality as an option.

In this context then, the salt and light argument assumes two things:

First, that the potential good a Christian student can do in the public school system outweighs the personal spiritual risk of sitting under humanistic teaching and spending hours every day in an admittedly ungodly environment.

Second, it assumes that being salt and light is a child’s top priority, as opposed to, for example, receiving a distinctively Christian education. In other words, it’s more important for children to be missionaries—while simultaneously receiving a humanistic education—than to be taught from a Christian worldview, protected from overtly negative peer influences, and so on.

With these basic presuppositions in mind, let’s progress now to looking at possible responses to this classic Christian argument against homeschooling.

 The Context of “Salt and Light”

First, we should look at the context of the salt and light passage. Whom is Jesus speaking to? At the beginning of Matthew 5, we see clearly that Christ is speaking to His disciples. Verses 1–2 read, “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying . . . ”

As we can see, Jesus was speaking to a specific group of individuals: His disciples—adult men. Thus, in the original context, the salt and light passage was addressed to adults, not children.

That doesn’t mean children shouldn’t be a positive witness if and when they encounter those in the world around them. But it’s quite a leap from there to say that they should be deliberately placed in a spiritually hostile environment at young ages where they will be actively taught in ways contrary to the Word of God. Being salt and light is one thing. Sending our children to the training camp of the enemy is quite another—and we only need look around us to see the failure of this tactic.

We should also note that Christ’s disciples spent approximately three years with Jesus before He gave them the Great Commission and sent them out into all the world. In other words, they experienced three years of intense, hands-on training and preparation with the perfect, faultless, infallible Son of God before He deemed them ready to go out on their own. How much more preparation will our children need before they can stand on their own? After all, they have fallen, fallible, sinful parents responsible for their training—not the perfect Son of God in the flesh.

Looking further at the context, we see that Jesus was instructing His disciples to be salt and light while they were still in His presence, under His direct teaching and influence. Thus, we can see that it’s possible to fulfill this command even without being sent out alone, away from the protection and influence of one’s God-given teacher or mentor. If parents, biblically speaking, are the appropriate teachers and mentors of their children (more on this later), it’s possible for children to fulfill the salt and light mandate within that framework, rather than having to be sent away.

In view of these contextual considerations, it’s difficult to make the case that this passage directly applies to children in the way in which our critics suggest. Since it doesn’t specifically mention or command sending children to a spiritually hostile environment to be salt and light, it certainly doesn’t constitute the final word on the matter, and therefore we should look to other biblical passages and principles for more clarification.

 Training Ground, Not Mission Field

One consideration which the proponents of the salt and light argument often seem to overlook is the reality that they are not simply sending their children to a mission field, but a training ground. In other words, these Christian kids are not being sent out to reach other students and teachers while being isolated from the humanistic teaching that occurs in the schools. The teaching is an unavoidable part of the package. Thus, in order to justify sending his or her child to public school as a missionary, a parent needs to simultaneously justify sending his or her child away to receive an education based on humanistic philosophy instead of one that is built on Scripture and a Christian worldview.

Those proponents of “salt and light” who do recognize the educational aspect of the situation apparently maintain the assumption that their children can withstand whatever humanistic teaching they will encounter and escape unscathed. In other words, they assume that their children can sit under hours of teaching from a perspective other than the Bible, surrounded by peer influences that tempt them in the wrong direction, and not be negatively influenced by any of it.

In addition to being dangerously naive, this view contradicts such Scriptures as Luke 6:40 (“The disciple is not above his master [teacher]: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master”), Proverbs 13:20 (“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed”), and 1 Corinthians 15:33 (“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners”).

I would challenge anyone to search the Scriptures and find one verse advising parents to hand the teaching of their children over to those who don’t know God or uphold His truth. As Paul declares in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” And in verse 17, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord.”

We are to be distinct from the world. There should be a separation between the world’s philosophies and methods and our own. We are not to mingle ourselves in their practices or partake in their way of life.

The command to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers is also worth noting. When Christian children are placed under the authority of unbelieving teachers, principals, and other school administrators, we would do well to ask if they are in fact unequally yoked. Certainly they often do not have the freedom to fully express their identity as followers of Christ; in that sense, they are “yoked” to those who do not share their faith, and their activity, at least in some measure, is dictated by unbelievers who are in authority over them.

Proverbs 1:7 says that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” and Colossians 2:3 tells us that in Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” In Proverbs 9:10 we again see that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”

It’s no small matter to give the education of our children to those who remove the foundation of wisdom and knowledge. Unless the proponents of “salt and light” can make a convincing scriptural case that it doesn’t matter if we allow our children to be taught from a worldview contrary to the Bible, we are already beginning to see major cracks in the foundation of their argument.

 Peer Influences

Children—indeed, all of us—have a natural propensity to do wrong. That comes naturally to us. Doing right, on the other hand, is contrary to our natural inclinations and tendencies.

When children are sent to public school as “missionaries,” they are surrounded by other young people who, by and large, are following their natural desires, thus creating the negative peer pressure we so often discuss. And since our children have a natural propensity toward wrongdoing—even if they already have their own walk with the Lord—placing them amidst this negative peer pressure for hours every day is questionable at best.

We can examine Scripture to see what the Bible says about this.

We have already noted Proverbs 13:20 (“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed”) and 1 Corinthians 15:33 (“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners”). Both of these passages give strong warning to those who would willingly and knowingly allow their children to be surrounded by negative peer influences.

The influences surrounding our kids make a difference. They’re going to be impacted. We all know that in a typical scenario, kids generally tend to pull each other down, not lift each other up. Let’s go back to Proverbs 13:20 for a moment: when we pair its warning to the companion of fools with Proverbs 22:15, which tells us that “foolishness is bound in the heart of a child,” it’s easy to see why extensive peer-based socialization can be so destructive. Foolishness is bound in the hearts of children, and the companion of fools will be destroyed. Is it any wonder that we so often see children and young people making destructive life choices as a result of peer pressure?

Children are impressionable. When they are sent out alone to confront the world and interact all day with those who have a different system of values, they are placed at high risk of adopting those different values. Scripture warns us of this, and it shouldn’t be surprising when we see it occurring around us.

 Seasons of Purpose

Different seasons of life bring different opportunities, activities, and purposes. One helpful question to ask, as we examine the salt and light argument, is this: what is the purpose of childhood?

Is it to fulfill some kind of mission for the cause of Christ, or is it instead a season of preparation for later work and ministry?

Throughout the Bible, we find numerous commands and references to parents training and teaching their children (Deuteronomy 6:6–7, Deuteronomy 32:46, Proverbs 1:8, Isaiah 38:19, Joel 1:3, Ephesians 6:4). Put together, these passages form a consistent pattern throughout the whole of Scripture, emphasizing again and again the importance of parents raising their children in the ways of the Lord. The biblical model of education is always God-centered, faith-driven, and parent-directed.

At the same time, we see a profound lack of passages suggesting that children have a specific mission or calling to go outside the discipleship of their parents to reach the outside world.

Most of those who use the salt and light argument seem to assume either that their children don’t need any preparation to be missionaries in the schools, or that a few hours in church each week and perhaps a little time with Dad and Mom in the evening will be adequate to not only counteract the secular teaching in the schools, but also prepare them to be bold witnesses for Christ. And of course, children need preparation for the rest of life as well—not just their childhood years. In other words, it’s no small undertaking to raise a child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

The reality is that the preparation must be adequate to the task at hand. The greater the task, the greater the need for adequate preparation. And is there any greater task than sending out the next generation ready and equipped to do God’s work?

God lays out for us a model in Deuteronomy 6:6–7 when He instructs parents to teach their children His commands. “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

In his article “The Christian Education Manifesto,” Israel Wayne observes of this passage, “This describes a 24/7/365 discipleship paradigm, centered on the commandments of God.”

Precisely. God apparently didn’t think an hour of Sunday School and a few minutes in the evening with Dad and Mom was adequate to prepare children to live righteous, holy lives. He commands parents here to teach their children with a diligence and constancy that most parents never come close to reaching.

We can gain more insight into this issue by considering the words of Christ Himself in relation to adults and children. Consider this contrast between two messages: Christ commanded His adult disciples to be salt and light, and sent them out to do His work. But what did He say of children? “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). For adults, His word was “Go.” For children, His words were “Let them come.”

These words of Christ create a compelling picture and clearly illustrate the concept of different seasons of life. During the early, formative years, children are to be brought to Christ—taught about Him, nurtured in His ways, and discipled to live for Him. As adults, they are then able to go out and make a difference for Christ after that first season of preparation. Childhood is the time for coming, adulthood the time for going.

 Right Priorities

As a parent, you must ask yourself, “What is my top priority? Is it to reach someone else’s children for Christ by placing my own children’s spiritual well-being at risk, or is it to raise my children in the ways of God, discipling them to the point that they are solid, well-grounded young adults who can stand on their own?”

God didn’t give you someone else’s children. He gave you your own. That doesn’t mean we should never seek to reach out to others, but it does suggest a hierarchy of priorities. Generally speaking, our top priorities are those that are closest to us. We find this principle illustrated for us in 1 Timothy 5:8 where Paul says, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” When it comes to physical provision, a man’s immediate household is his top priority. Those closest to him should command his first attention.

Similarly, Paul stipulated that a man must be able to “rule his own house” (1 Timothy 3:4–5) in order to be considered for the position of bishop or deacon in the church. Thus, before a man’s ministry could expand to include one of these positions of leadership, he first had to show the capacity to lead in his own family. Here again we see the hierarchy of priorities: attention to your own family first, expanded ministry second.

We see the same principle in the Old Testament in Genesis 18:17–19 where God is about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and decides to share His plans with Abraham. In that passage we read, “And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”

Here we see that Abraham’s ability to raise and train his children was a key factor that brought greater confidence from God, and was apparently even a factor in God’s promises and blessings to him. Thus, we again see that proper attention to the closest priorities came before increased responsibility and opportunity outside.

None of this means that we shouldn’t reach out beyond our own families. I’m not saying your family should be your sole focus, but your first focus. Parents who use the salt and light argument, however, are essentially saying that the needs of students in the public schools come ahead of their own children’s need for a Christian education, the intensive discipleship of their parents, and appropriate protection from negative peer influences. Biblically speaking, however, parents should place the greater emphasis on their own children’s needs and only thereafter look beyond their family to the needs around them. That is the biblical order.

 Wishful Thinking

We’ve already seen multiple reasons why the salt and light argument is contrary to biblical principles. We can also look outside Scripture to find an additional compelling reason why this argument doesn’t withstand scrutiny: generally speaking, the idea that children can be effective as salt and light in a hostile, secular environment is simply wishful thinking.

Lee Duncan, Dean of Administration for The Master’s College, wrote in his article “A Case for Christian High Education”:

Why would we expect Christian young people who are in their most impressionable time of growth to challenge mature teachers who will attack their faith? In reality, most Christian students in public schools challenge no one; they simply stay quiet and try to avoid any confrontation.

And in her article “Culture of Answers,” Jill Carattini of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, wrote the following:

A recent study on the faith and belief of today’s youth laments the growing inarticulacy of students when it comes to talking about what they believe . . . The researchers were troubled as they realized how seldom teens found opportunity to practice talking about their faith. They were astonished by the number of kids who reported that this was the first time they had been asked by an adult what they believed. One replied as if he was caught off guard, “I don’t know. No one has ever asked me that before.” (emphasis in the original)

In other words, by and large, students aren’t talking about their faith at school. It’s not happening. And as Lee Duncan points out, why would we expect them to? Why would we expect them—at such an impressionable age—to draw attention to themselves and challenge those around them when in school the supreme virtue is to do as you’re told and not cause disruption?

Consider it in another way: if the salt and light argument were solid and Christian kids were really making a difference in their schools, why have we not seen a great spiritual awakening in our public education system? Why do we instead see our church pews increasingly empty as young people continue their mass exodus from the faith? It’s not our Christian youth who are winning the world, but the world who is winning our Christian youth.

Research indicates that up to 85 percent of young people from Christian homes who attend public school end up walking away from the church by the time they graduate high school. Many parents will insist that their kids are the exception—that they can handle the unbiblical worldview and negative peer pressure and remain true to their God and strong in their faith. But is that a chance we should take? Do we want to risk that our kids will be among the 15 percent instead of the 85 percent? Sure, we’d all like to think that our kids can stand strong—that they’ll defy the norms, beat the odds, and emerge victorious on the other side. But is that really rational?

Imagine yourself the unexpected owner of a ten-million-dollar inheritance. Your financial adviser gives you the opportunity to invest the money and earn enormous dividends, but the opportunity comes with a risk. “I have to tell you,” he says, “there’s an 85 percent chance you’ll lose every penny in this investment.” Then he smiles and says, “But there’s a 15 percent chance you’ll double your money and walk away with twenty million!”

What would you decide? My guess is that you’d turn it down with a flat no and tell your broker that someone would have to be crazy to take a risk like that. And you’d be right. Why would you risk such an incredible treasure when the odds are stacked so heavily against you?

Why should it be any different with our children? God has entrusted every parent with a treasure worth far more than ten million dollars—and we’re going to invest that treasure in a risky venture, hoping we’ll be in the 15 percent instead of the 85 percent? Not with my kids. The risk must be weighed, and with the stakes so high, shouldn’t a godly caution guide our steps?

The numbers for homeschooled students are radically different. According to Dr. Brian Ray’s 2003 report “Homeschooling Grows Up,” more than 90 percent of homeschool graduates report that their religious beliefs are essentially the same as their parents’, and more than 90 percent continue to attend church on a regular basis.

Why the difference? Because Christian home education and public school are as different as night and day. When we follow a radically different process, it’s predictable that we’ll end up with a radically different result. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing.

If “salt and light” were really working as well as its proponents wish, we wouldn’t have these unfortunate statistics. We’d have churches overflowing with crowds of young people brought in by our Christian kids who are in the schools. It’s not happening.

In discussing all of this, we should also heed Jesus’s strong denunciation of those who offend children who believe in Him: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

Considering the rate at which children from Christian homes are leaving the church after attending public schools, we are forced to wonder if our school system is guilty of offending untold numbers of these “little ones” who believed in Him. And what of the parents who voluntarily send their children there when valid alternatives are available? My intention is not to be judgmental, but to help us to think about what we’re doing. The risk must be weighed, and again I ask: with the stakes so high, shouldn’t a godly caution guide our steps?

We would also do well to note that the very same verse that instructs us to be salt and light also warns us that if the salt loses its saltiness, it’s good for nothing but to be thrown in the streets and trampled underfoot. Thus, we have a command and a warning given together. The warning portion, however, seems largely overlooked by the salt and light proponents. The significance of the warning is intensified when we realize again that the large majority of children from Christian homes are in fact losing their saltiness in the public schools. If parents would pay as much heed to the warning as they do the command, their perspective might change.

 Wrong Becomes Right?

One reason so many parents have difficulty answering the salt and light argument is because it appeals to Scripture. On the surface, it can look like a scriptural justification for sending Christian kids to public school. But there’s more to it than that.

We all know that we must use Scripture appropriately—that we shouldn’t take verses out of context, twist their meaning, or seek to use Scripture to justify something unscriptural. Wrong actions are still wrong actions, even if we can pull an isolated verse out of the Bible that seems to justify what we’re doing.

Let’s take an obvious example. God instructed Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28 to “be fruitful, and multiply.” He gave Noah and his sons the same command in Genesis 9:1 and repeated it six verses later in Genesis 9:7. Additionally, Psalm 127:3–5 tells us that “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.”

Thus, from these verses we see that it’s good and appropriate for us to desire children and to consider each child a blessing from God. Now, imagine you meet a man who is pursuing numerous immoral relationships outside of marriage and who uses these Scriptures as justification. Imagine he tells you, “The Bible says to be fruitful and multiply, and that children are a reward from God. I realized that I can have more children if I don’t limit myself to only one woman. I know some people would frown on what I’m doing, but I’m just trying follow the Bible’s command to multiply and get all of God’s blessings that I can.”

Would we say that what this man is doing is fine and good because he was able to give us a few Bible verses that appear, at a quick glance, to support his case? I hardly think so. Why? Is being fruitful and multiplying suddenly wrong? Are children not a blessing? Quite the contrary. Yet we would recognize this man’s profligate lifestyle as wrong and displeasing to God, even though he gave us some Bible verses. His motives (theoretically, at least) could be perfect: he desires the blessing of more children, consistent with the Bible’s teachings. Yet his actions are still wrong because they are contrary to the message of Scripture taken as a whole, which commands moral purity.

Trying to justify sending our children to a godless environment to be educated on the basis of “salt and light” is akin to the man justifying his immoral lifestyle on the basis of being fruitful and multiplying. In either case, a biblical reason is used to justify something that contradicts the overall thrust of scriptural teaching. I repeat: the biblical model for education is always God-centered, faith-driven, and parent-directed. Remove one of those elements, and you’ve fundamentally altered the model God has given us in Scripture.

Being salt and light isn’t wrong. Exactly the opposite. But that doesn’t mean that every possible idea we could think of to allow us to be salt and light is acceptable and good in the sight of God. The message of Scripture is clear: children are to be taught and nurtured in the ways of the Lord, not the ways of the world. If a particular approach to being salt and light violates this truth, then we must reject that approach as unscriptural. Our motives may be pure, but that doesn’t make our actions right.

In short, we can’t justify doing something wrong for a “good” reason. Sending our children to a godless environment for their training and education is wrong. Plain and simple. There is absolutely no biblical basis on which to say it’s fine. To justify it with the claim that our children can be salt and light is to say that wrong has become right because something good might come from the wrong action.

 We’re in a Battle

Perhaps one of our problems is that we fail to see life as it really is—as a battleground between light and darkness, righteousness and unrighteousness, good and evil. If our goal is to simply raise children who can get a well-paying job and enjoy “the good life,” then we are likely to be far less concerned about how and what they are taught. But if we realize that our goal is to raise soldiers for Christ who can go out and make a difference in the world, the issue of our children’s training and preparation becomes far more important.

What army would send their troops to be trained in the camp of their greatest enemy? No, the people in the public schools aren’t our enemies. We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). We do have a spiritual foe, and he is alive and well in our secular educational system of today.

In the realm of nations and governments, we would consider it reckless beyond belief to send our troops to be trained by the enemy. In World War II, Winston Churchill would never have considered sending the troops of England to be trained by Hitler. In the days of the Cold War, America wouldn’t have sent her soldiers to be trained by the Communists. Yet that’s exactly what we’re doing when we send our children to be taught in schools where God is excluded and a biblical worldview is ignored. The next generation of Christian soldiers is being trained, but not in the right camp.

 Whatever Remains

Sherlock Holmes, in The Sign of the Four, neatly summed up a simple reality: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Some say we have no scriptural command to home educate—in other words, there’s no chapter and verse we can point to that says public or private school is wrong and that we must teach our children at home. However, I would contend that if all the biblical principles and passages that discuss the training of children consistently uphold one model, then all other approaches are excluded—if not explicitly, then by clear implication.

In other words, if God has instructed us that children should be taught in the fear of the Lord, then we don’t need a specific command telling us that they shouldn’t be taught without the fear of the Lord—we already know how they should be taught.

If God has commanded parents to be the diligent, day-in, day-out teachers of their children, then we don’t need an explicit command not to send kids away for hours every day to be taught by someone else—we already know who their teachers are supposed to be.

If God tells us that negative peer influences are destructive, we don’t need a command telling us to give appropriate protection to our children—we already know they should be protected.

Let’s illustrate it this way. If you were to tell your children, “Be nice to the kids next door,” you wouldn’t have to explicitly and specifically forbid all of the potentially unkind things your children could do. You don’t have to tell your son not to punch the neighbor boy in the nose. You don’t have to tell your kids not to steal the neighbors’ toys, make fun of them, throw rocks at them, or any number of things they could conceivably do. All of that is excluded with the single command, “Be nice to the kids next door.”

Similarly, when God told parents to teach their children diligently in His ways, He didn’t need to specifically outline all of the ways they shouldn’t be taught. All of that was taken care of by telling us how they should be taught.

 What About the Success Stories?

There are those who will listen to all these arguments against the salt and light proposition and still maintain that children ought to be sent away to school as missionaries. In some cases, they may have seen (or even been) a Christian young person who successfully navigated the turbulent waters of the secular schools and emerged on the other side relatively unscathed. They maintained their Christian testimony, were outspoken for their faith, and perhaps even succeeded in winning classmates for Christ. These students may even argue that their experiences in a secular school strengthened them in their faith. Some then use this as justification that “salt and light” really does work after all.

Arguments from experience, however, should not be elevated to the level of Scripture. We have clear teaching from the Bible about how children should be taught. The general rule we’re seeing is that the faith of kids from Christian homes is being decimated in public school. If we encounter an occasional exception to this rule, that can hardly be considered justification for others following in their path.

If we look hard enough, we can find people willing to justify virtually anything based on their experience. There are those who argue, for example, that God led them to divorce their spouse—and that their life was better because of it—despite God’s clear declaration in Malachi 2 that He hates divorce and Jesus’s warning in Matthew 19:6 and Mark 10:9 that “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” We cannot argue against Scripture based on our experience. Just because we see someone else ignore the warning signs, jump in the alligator-infested river, and swim successfully to the other side doesn’t mean we should follow suit. Did someone else survive? Yes. Does that make it right for us—or, for that matter, even for them? No. We must heed the instruction of Scripture more than the voices of those who would tell us of their experiences.

 Conclusion

The purpose of this article has not been to criticize or judge the motives of those who advance the salt and light argument, some of whom are sincere, godly Christian parents. Rather, my intent has been to provide a much-needed alternative perspective—one that looks at the issue not just in light of one or two Scripture verses, but that examines the overall message and thrust of the Bible as it relates to education and children.

The bottom line is this: the concept of voluntarily sending God’s children away—for any reason—to be educated in institutions where He is rejected, is utterly foreign to Scripture. If the God-centered, faith-driven, parent-directed model of education found in Scripture means anything at all, then the concept of subjecting children to secular, God-absent education is beyond any rational biblical justification. Search for a lifetime, and you will still fail to find the smallest piece of evidence that God approves of sending the children of His kingdom to the halls of humanistic learning.

It was Christ who declared that anyone who offends one of these little ones would be better off drowned in the depths of the sea. Would He now be in favor of education that leaves Him out? It was the apostle Paul who boldly asked, “What communion hath light with darkness?” and “What part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” Would he now stand up and say it doesn’t matter if the children of God are taught in darkness and educated by unbelievers?

Let’s make sure we’re taking care of our first priorities first. Let’s give our children a God-centered, parent-directed education as outlined in Scripture, and then, as God leads, we can reach out to others. Just because we’re homeschoolers doesn’t mean we can’t be salt and light. And our children will be more effective in God’s service for a lifetime if they don’t lose their saltiness in their youth.

 Jonathan Lewis is a homeschool graduate, husband to Linnea, and daddy to Patrick, Timothy, and another on the way. He is one of the founders of Home School Enrichment Magazine and enjoys writing and speaking from his perspective as a homeschool graduate. If you would like to invite Jonathan to speak to your group—or to get in touch with him for any other reason—drop him a note at jonathan@HomeSchoolEnrichment.com.

Copyright 2015, Jonathan Lewis; reprinted with permission.

Am I Good Enough?

parentGod has entrusted the discipleship of our children to us. What an awesome responsibility! When we consider the high calling and standards that is placed on Christian parents, it can be overwhelming. I know this from experience. There are times that I feel as though I have outright failed as a parent. I haven’t taught them enough. I haven’t been consistent enough. I’ve missed teaching opportunities ….and so on.  Am I good enough?

The truth is that we are the ones God has chosen to parent our children. You see, it doesn’t take long to recognize the source of discouragement and despair. It is the enemy that wants us to lose heart. So when I feel this way, I run to God’s Word and let the light of His truth shine bright.

Have you ever been discouraged? It takes a lot to bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Let me remind you that God is on your side!  No one has a more vested interest in your children than the Lord. Be encouraged! Turn to Him. Trust in His leading and be pointed to His Holy Word.

Do you want to learn more about discipleship? Join me over at The Homeschool Leadercast as I talk about:

  • Discipleship in the home

  • Why home discipleship is so important

  • What home discipleship should look like

  • If we don’t disciple our children, they are going to learn from others

  • The biblical mandate to disciple our children

  • The foundation for Home Discipleship

  • Marriage as the framework for home discipleship

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Gifts to Give our Children

gifts
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! So, tis the season for malls, shopping, wrapping paper, gifts, bows, and ribbons! Maybe you prefer online shopping in your bathrobe with the internet, eBay and UPS. Or perhaps you prefer handmade gifts, baked goodies and homemade cards. But no matter how you look at it, this is the season for gift giving. Why? Most people probably give out of tradition. You are supposed to buy gifts at Christmas. Right? It is what has always been done. However, our family likes to look at gift giving a little differently. While it is a tradition at our home, it is one with a purpose. We give gifts as a reminder of the greatest gift ever given to mankind. I must admit that I love giving gifts to my children. But guess what? So does our heavenly Father!

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Matthew 7:11.

But toys and trinkets get broken, clothes get worn out and outgrown, electronics lose batteries and stop working, and the latest fad becomes next year’s obsolete. So I ask myself what can I give my children that will last? What type of gifts can I give that have true value? Listed below are 5 gifts that we can give our children that will never become broken or outdated.

TIME

In a world of busyness one of the most wonderful gifts we can give our children is time with them. December is probably the busiest month of the year for us. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas we go nonstop. There are people to visit, parties and programs to attend, Christmas cantata’s to practice for, gifts to make, shopping to do, etc. But life is short.

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14.

This truth is especially evident when it comes to children. They do not stay young forever. They grow up fast. As parents we only have a short time to invest in our children. We need to slow down and give our children something that will matter – time. Time with us, time to play games, time to talk, time to come apart from the world, time to meditate upon God, time to read together, and time to be a family. I have heard it said that the quantity of time does not matter as long as you give your children quality time. This is not true! Research has said that parents spend on average 3.5 minutes a day in meaningful conversation with their children. How sad! However, the average child watches 1,500 hours a year of TV. I guess if we want Hollywood to raise our children then this statistic would not bother us. But it bothers me. Turn off the TV and spend time with your children. Read to them at night, pray with them, and sing songs. When they grow up and look back at their life these are the things they will remember.

A PEACEFUL HOME

Another gift we can give our children is a home filled with peace. The world is hectic and noisy, but our homes should be a gentle haven of rest for our children. Our children should not have homes filled with screaming and shouting but with soft answers and love. The fruits of the Spirit should be manifested in our homes – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. A home filled with peace not only blesses our children but consider what a true witness it is to the world around us. Voddie Bauchman in Family Driven Faith states,

Our homes must be rife with the aroma of love. Those who visit us should notice immediately that they have left the world of self-serving egocentric narcissism and have entered a safe harbor where people value and esteem others above themselves. Outsiders should enter our homes and never want to leave. Our neighbors should find excuses to visit us just to get another whiff of the fragrant aroma of love. The brokenhearted should long to be near us. The down trodden and abused should seek us out. Families on the brink of disaster should point to us and say, ‘Why can’t our home be like that?’

This describes a home filled with peace. What a superb gift to give our children.

PARENTS WHO LOVE EACH OTHER

Another gift that is so overlooked in our modern culture is love in the home. It is given that we should love our children, but one of the best ways to love our children is to love God first and our spouse second. This speaks volumes to our children. Theodore Hesburgh is credited for saying, “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” The focus of the family should be on the marriage. When parents are united the children are blessed. In addition, a strong marriage will strengthen our children’s faith as it is a testimony to the world for God’s glory.

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth,” 1 John 3:18.

CHARACTER TRAITS

While giving gifts let’s not forget the gift of hard work & diligence. Society will tell a child that you should do as little as possible to get as much as possible. It is this fallacy of thinking that has leads to a lazy and entitlement mentality. But, give your children the gift of learning how to work hard and they will always be able to thrive. In addition, it is pleasing to the Lord.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” Colossians 3:23.

Another character trait this is desperately needed in today’s society is inner beauty, especially when it comes to our daughters. Godly women are not born, but raised. Many mothers concern themselves over whether their daughters have fashionable clothes and the latest styles. Many would be alarmed if their daughters wore dirty clothes. But how many mothers care if their daughter has a filthy heart? To teach and train our daughters about inner beauty that is acceptable to God is a divine gift we can give.

“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised,” Proverbs 31:30.

(There are many character traits that we can help to instill in our children. So by no means is this list inclusive. But hard work, diligence and inner beauty are a great place to start.)

BIBLICAL STANDARDS TO LIVE BY

There are many gifts we can give our children. But one that is of utmost importance is to give your children biblical standards to live by. As Christian parents we should not want for our children what every other parent wants. We shouldn’t hold them to the world’s standards but to God’s standards. Do you want your children to make the team? What about them making it into the Lambs book of life? Do you want them to get a good education? What about them being educated in the Word of God? Do you want them to be true and loyal to their friends? What about your children being faithful to the Lord and His Church? Do you want your children to be popular? What about them being peculiar? God’s ways are always higher.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed,” Romans 12:2a.

Christian parent, there are many worthwhile pursuits in this world, but few rise to the level of training our children to follow the Lord, to love Him with all we are, to treasure His Word, and to keep His commandments. When we do this we have given our children gifts that never tear up, get worn, or get taken away.

So, this holiday season I’ll be looking for presents for my children and wrapping packages like many others. But the most precious gifts I’ll strive to give them will not be the ones that come in a box. Instead, the gifts I will strive to give will be of eternal value.

Merry Christmas!

The Comparison Game

comparisonA couple of years ago I was at the place where the year was quickly dwindling down and it had been rather hectic. As I realized that there were only a few months left of school, deep down there was a part of me that began to panic. I felt like I had failed at giving my children the best education possible. In fact, if report cards were to come out on me – the children’s teacher – I was to the point where I would have been satisfied with a C-. I was discouraged, and yet no one knew it.

A homeschool monthly mom’s meeting was scheduled on the topic of “Homeschooling through the High School Years” and I knew this was just the encouragement I needed. So I put on a smile and headed out the door. But what was intended to lift my spirits, turned into guilt and great discouragement. As I listened to various moms share their experiences, I began to compare my life to them and a few hours later ended up driving home in tears.

My discouragement lasted through the next day, until I finally picked up the precious Word of God.

 “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” Proverbs 3:6.

“Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established,” Proverbs 4:25-26.

 It was clear. My eyes were not fixed upon God. I was looking around to the left and right, comparing myself and my family to everyone else. And it is just that – the comparison game – that will leave us discouraged every time.

This is not the only thing that can contribute to this type of discouragement for moms. Books, magazines, and social media can all add weight to the problem. Ideas of having the “perfect” marriage or a busy mom’s guide to “getting it all done” can raise our levels of expectations to an unhealthy level. Pictures on Pinterest of beautifully-decorated, insanely-organized, and superbly-spotless homes can also add to the comparison game.

Here’s the truth: Every family will look different. No marriage is perfect. We cannot and should not even try to do everything. And, having a lived-in home when love and laughter flows, is much better than the “picture-perfect” home where all are stressed over spills and messes.

Don’t get me wrong. We are built for relationships and God will often use people to encourage and exhort us to be better wives and mothers. We should examine and learn from others, and we should follow after those who are living godly lives. The Apostle Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ,” I Corinthians 11:1. But there is a difference between following others by letting their example be an encouragement to us, and comparing our lives to theirs. The Bible warns us to not compare ourselves with others in spiritual matters. “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise,” 2 Corinthians 10:12. The principle applies here as well. It is easy to want to compare ourselves to others, but it is not others that should set our standards. God’s plan for our life is the standard all must seek. God created each of us in a unique way. He created our family unique. Unless we embrace our differences and seek out God’s will for our family, we will constantly struggle in this area.

There is a fine balance between striving for excellence as wives and mothers, and killing ourselves by trying to live up to some unattainable form of perfection that we “think” we see in others. Let’s not forget that often we are only seeing highlights of people’s lives, moments of triumphs, and glimpses of won victories. Often the failures, struggles, and disappointments are not on display. This comparison game trap was a good reminder for me as well. When talking to a new believer, a first time homeschooler, or a newlywed I need to remember that each child of God is on a journey in life to walk in the ways of the Lord. We are all striving to live our life and raise our family in a way that is pleasing to Him. Some are simply further down the road than others.  Some have been traveling longer. Some travel at a faster pace. And some take a different path altogether. My life will not look like yours. Your life will not look like mine. But let each of us look like Christ. If we are going to compare our lives with anyone, let it be His!  “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked,” 1 John 2:6.

Be content to travel down the path that God has laid before you.  Acknowledge Him, take your eyes off self, focus upon the One who establishes all your ways, and let the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your heart and mind focused upon Him.

Aaron’s First Audio Drama

ontheairWhat is your favorite evening family past time? One of our favorite things to do is to bring everyone into living room and read great books to the children. Although, I can’t really take credit as Dana does all the reading and I often fall asleep. While it is one of our favorite things to do, I admit that when the children were younger and life was slower that we did this much more often. But even now we still love to gather around a good book as a family, and if we can find a good one, we will on occasion listen to audio dramas during this time.

So, the other day Aaron (my 16 year old) said he was interested in learning about making audio dramas. One of the joys of homeschooling is that we can break from the normal routine to let our children pursue activities of interest. He picked a short chapter called Buried for his first attempt. This is the second book in The Peleg Chronicles by Matthew Christian Harding. We were introduced to this series a few years ago and they quickly became one of our family’s favorites. (You can read my review on the first book here.) Below is the 3 minute result of Aaron’s first attempt (with some help from a good friend).

After you listen to it I’d love to hear what you think.

The Twilight Zone (Homeschool Edition)

hs edition twilight The show never appealed to me much. I really don’t care for scary or creepy movies. Plus, frightening and sinister thoughts do not make Paul’s list to the Philippians of things we are to think upon (Philippians 4:8). However, the other day I felt like I stepped into the Twilight Zone.

It happened like this.

We were pleasantly surprised with 3 inches of snow last week. So like every good homeschool mom I suggested we put up the books, get out our coats and gloves, and go visit some friends. On the drive Abigail (my turns-14-in-a-few-weeks, wonderfully sweet, precious, a little OCD, and only daughter) said, “Mom, I’m NEVER going to get all my school work done!”

Where in the world did this come from? I was geared up for a fun day of visiting a friend over a cup of coffee while the kids played.

“Abigail, it will be okay,” I said, “We can take Friday to catch up on school this week.”

To which she replied, “We just take off too many days! It will be the middle of summer before I’m done with all my work.”

WOW! I was stunned. We take off too many days? What child says that? I’m a pretty relaxed homeschooling mom. We typically get all of our work done by Thursday, taking off Friday for errands, field trips, etc. Plus, we’re almost always finished with the school year by the end of May. I never wanted to be one of these “stick-to-the-schedule no matter what the cost” type of moms. I don’t want to “cram” lessons into my children, but let them enjoy learning. I don’t want to be ruled by the curriculum. I don’t want society, expectations, or anything other than the Lord and my husband dictating our weekly agenda. Homeschooling should be a lifestyle, not something we add-on to our life but who we are. Success isn’t gauged by finishing a book or taking a test, but whether or not I have given my children a love for the Lord and a love for learning.

“Would it make you feel better if you knew that some of the schools around closed for the day?” I said.

“Yea, a little”, my sweet daughter finally acknowledged.

The kids built a snowman, constructed a fort, had a snowball fight, drank hot chocolate and enjoyed the day. And that night, my daughter stayed up late doing her schoolwork.

We are quite opposite in many ways. She wants to stick to a schedule. I want to go with the flow. She wants all her schoolwork written down. I want to “do the next page.” She wants structure. I want freedom. She wants to sit at a desk with her books neatly stacked up. I want to work in the recliner or couch with a cup of coffee and my feet propped up. But I am so thankful for her. She’s just like her daddy, and the Lord knows that I need that structure here throughout the day. While I am certainly not an “unschooler,” I sure appreciate their style. But my daughter helps to create in me a beautiful balance.

Am I too relaxed? Maybe, just a bit!

Am I happy and enjoying my children and this wonderful season of life? Absolutely!

So now that I think about it, I didn’t step into the twilight zone at all. It was just a normal homeschool day where I learn as much as my children do.

snow kids snow day kids snow

The Importance of Teaching Ephesians 6:1-3

eph 6Driving home with a friend the other day, we were talking about all the expectations placed on homeschool families. My friend, who is in the beginning stages of homeschooling, stated that she felt as though she had to prove something. This thought is normal. Often the world will look into our home and our choice of education and place lofty standards on us and our children. Sometimes, due to the “pride of life” (1 John 2:16), we raise the expectations ourselves. But if we could just lay the world’s standards and our own pride aside, we would find such freedom.

Homeschooling should be simple. It should be a lifestyle that creates in our children a love for God and learning along with a mindset of always pursuing knowledge. I have never wanted school to take place from 8 to 3 on Monday through Friday. I don’t want their education to just be from Kindergarten to 12th grade. I want my children learning every day of their life. Following the world’s standards will often lead to filling their minds with useless information. I don’t want to fill their minds; I want to shape their hearts and point them to God. I want to create in my children a desire to learn all they can for God’s glory. I want them to excel in reading good literature, to chase after truth in science, to discover the world through God’s eyes (HisStory), and I want them to use their writing and communication skills to change the world.

Simple right?

The concept of lifestyle teaching for God’s glory is certainly simple. It’s just hard at times. But isn’t all of parenting? A parent’s role in teaching their children is crucial. This is true whether or not we are homeschooling. So, with all the teaching we do, there is one imperative lesson that needs to be taught. This one lesson needs to be given first and foremost. It is found in Ephesians 6:1-3.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

This commandment is the foundation upon which successful teaching is built. Ephesians 6 gives two commands for children. They are to obey and honor. Obedience is an action. Honour is an attitude. It is to our children’s detriment if we fail to teach them this fundamental lesson. A child who does not learn to consistently obey their parents will struggle in life. It will not go well with them (Ephesians 6:3). They will also struggle in their academic studies if obedience is a problem. But even more important than that, if we fail to teach our children to honor and obey us, they will not learn how to honor and obey God. A lack of proper respect and obedience for those in authority will transcend into a lack of proper respect and obedience for the Highest Authority – God Almighty.

But society in general rebels against authority, doesn’t it? But like it or not, authority is a large part of life. We are always under some type of authority. Children must learn to submit to the authority of their parents. Christian wives must learn to submit to the authority of their own husbands. Husbands must learn to submit to the authority in the workplace. We all should submit to church and governmental authority. All believers must submit to God’s authority. Even unbelievers will one day submit. “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God,” Romans 14:11. (Sadly, by the time an unbeliever learns to submit to God’s absolute authority it will be too late for them.) Submission to authority is a reality of life. And it is one that has been under attack since the beginning of time.

Today we see unnecessary heartache because of the lack of understanding biblical authority. There are miserable parents who have failed to teach this truth to their children and who are reaping the consequences. “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame,” Proverbs 29:15. There are husbands and wives who are struggling in their marriage because they have never been taught proper authority or have simply chosen to ignore it. “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it,” Ephesians 5:24-25. There are churches that are spiritually dying due to sin in the camp and a refusal to lovingly establish the authority of church discipline. “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened,” 1 Corinthians 5:6-7a. Untold numbers of boys and girls live in daily turmoil at home and with society because no one taught them the truth of authority. Thousands of men and women are in prison today because they did not submit to proper authority. Do you see the importance of authority?

The first four commandments given to Moses in Exodus 20 were between man and God, the next six between man and mankind. “Honour thy father and mother” was the first commandment that relates to our relationship with others. It was also the first commandment with promise – “thou mayest live long on the earth.” God saw this commandment as important. Don’t let your children disobey or dishonor you. It fabricates a weakness in their life that will be hard to overcome. Love them enough to teach them the importance of authority, honor, and obedience. In doing so, you will be pointing them to the Highest Authority – God Almighty.

Exhorting One Another

“Listen to this,” I told my son, “according to this study 88% of children raised in evangelical Christian homes will leave the church by the age of 18.”

What do you think?”  I asked.  “Do you think you will ever be a part of this 88%?”

My son turns 16 next week.  He is just a few years shy of this age.  So I genuinely wanted to know his thoughts on the subject.

“I don’t know, Mom” he replied.  “But I do know that if I ever did get out of church that I would have you and Dad and my church family there to exhort, admonish, and encourage me to come back.”

I explained to my son that none of us are above falling into sin, or are we immune from straying from the fellowship.  But I assured him that should that happen in his life that he would always be loved and prayed for.

It was comforting to know that my teenage son had a clear understanding of part of the ministry of the local fellowship.  He understood that if he were to stray from God (and then the church as a result) that his brothers and sisters in Christ would be there to hold him accountable.

Regardless of what some will say today, exhortation is a biblical principle.

“Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren…” (2Co 9:5)

 “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.” (1Th 4:1)

 “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” (1Th 5:14)

 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2Ti 4:2)

 “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” (Tit 2:15)

 It is detrimental to a person’s spiritual growth to be removed from the fellowship of the local church.  Yet, many enthusiastically walk away.  When this happens in a young person’s life and they fall into sin, it’s good to know that their parents will always be there.  But how much more powerful is it knowing that a whole group of others who love you is there as well – bearing your burdens, lifting you up in prayer, holding you accountable, admonishing you when you sin, and rebuking you in love.

A church that truly loves each other will exhort one another.  We do it because we love.  We do it because it pleases God.  We do it because if we don’t, sin will harden our hearts.

 “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb 3:13)