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.

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Let’s talk about LOVE…

lovestudy

By the middle of February some people are sick of hearing about romance, Valentine’s Day, gifts, cards, and even love. But can love be over-emphasized?  As believers in Christ we are to walk in love (Ephesians 5:2), be rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17), follow after love (I Timothy 6:11), and put on love (Colossians 3:12-14).   Can we talk about it too much?  Love is a consistent theme throughout the entire Word of God. The greatest command in all of scripture is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and mind.  The second command is to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Jesus said that, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets,” Matthew 22:40To put it differently, the entire Bible can be summed up with love.

Love is a wonderful topic for study and February is a great time to gather your family up for such a study. A good place to start is with the writings of the Apostle John. Love envelops his epistles. In 1 John alone we see 46 different forms of the word love. Let me share just a few truths about love that adorn these inspired epistles.

  • God is love. (1 John 4:8)

  • We cannot truly love until we know God. (1John 4:7-8a)

  • We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

  • There is no fear in love. (1 John 4:18)

  • There are certain things that God does not want us to love. (1 John 2:15)

  • Love and truth go hand in hand. (1 John 3:18, 2 John 1:1-3, 3 John 1:1)

  • If you love God you will love God’s children. (1 John 3:11, 3:14, 3:23, 4:7, 4:21, 5:2)

  • God demonstrates His love through His actions. (1 John 4:9-10)

  • We demonstrate our love for God through our actions. (1 John 2:5, 1 John 5:3, 2 John 1:6)

  • We demonstrate our love for others through our actions. (1 John 3:16-17)

If you would like an additional resource for personal use or to use with your family consider getting a copy of Love: A verse by verse study through the Epistles of John. It is a study that dives into the deep truths of God and His great love.

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)

Teaching Children to Give During the Holidays

  Last night my family did something we don’t usually do.  We sat down after dinner and watched a TV program together.  America’s Funniest Home Videos was on and we do love to laugh.  You know the show – someone falls off a roof, gets hit by a ball, or has a skiing accident.  Of course, my 9 year old asked a valid question last night.  He wanted to know, “Why do we laugh at people getting hurt?”  Good point, son, and one that should be addressed sometime.  But what really caught my attention were the videos that showed children getting their Christmas presents.  One was of a boy who got clothes for a present and stomped up to his room in anger.  Another one was of a teenage girl who thought she didn’t get the phone she wanted and her pouty reaction.  Parents gave one girl a fish tank for Christmas.  Apparently, the fish didn’t live and the girl reacted by shouting, “This is the worse Christmas ever!”  The videos are meant to be funny but my thoughts were that these children are unthankful, selfish, and rude to their parents.

If we are not careful we will play right into the natural inclination of children’s selfishness, especially at Christmas.  While I desire to give my children good things, at the same time I do not want them becoming self centered in the process.  One way we try to do this is by steering them away from creating a “Christmas wish list” and instead we have them create a list of what they would like to give to others.  My parents have been good at teaching their grandchildren that “it is more blessed to give than receive.”  Each year at Thanksgiving they give the children a gift of money for them to give away.   The children will take the money and buy presents to give away to someone in need or they will buy gifts for people in a nursing home.  This helps to create in their heart an attitude of giving.

This attitude should be taught all year long.  However, we should be ever diligent in teaching it during Christmas.  For the Christian, gift giving represents the greatest gift ever given – God giving the world His only begotten Son.  It is so easy to get caught up in the holiday bustle and forget the real reason for the season.  I remember talking to a young mother last year.  She stated that she was sick of Christmas.  All her children did was whine and complain about what they wanted that year.  And this was two weeks before Christmas!  I walked away from the conversation very sad.  This was a young girl in our church who professed Christ.

Philippians 2:4 tells us, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”  Christ gave His life for others and we are to follow in His example.  The reality is that we will never teach our children to give unless they see this portrayed in our own lives.  Like the saying goes, more is caught by children than taught.  If we are selfish and self centered during Christmas, our children will be as well.  But, if we live our lives in love as we are told in Romans 12:10, and “in honour preferring one another” our children will learn to do this as well.

Look around and pray as a family about opportunities to give this year.   Many people let their children pick a child from the Angel Tree or they will do Operation Shoe Box.  These are fun ways for the children to give.  On two different occasions we found out the ages of children in our local Baptist Children’s Home and bought them gifts.  You can also look for opportunities within your church.  Perhaps you could adopt a Missionary family and send them gifts.  Often times there are people in your own congregation who have no family and who would love to spend the holidays with your family.  Giving doesn’t always involve spending money.  Sometimes a homemade gift, card, or just your time mean more to people than anything else.  Consider the elderly this year.  There are many lonely and depressed people during the holidays that could use some love and encouragement.  What a great way to share the love of Christ.

We can buy our children toys that will be broke in a few weeks.  We can get them the latest fashions that will soon be outdated.  Or we can buy them gadgets and electronics, but in a few months there will be newer and better versions out there.  I’m not against giving gifts to my children (in fact, we already have them all bought), but why not give them something that will last.  Give them an opportunity to develop an attitude of giving, thankfulness, selflessness, and love for others.

“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  (Act 20:35)

Nurturing Your Marriage – Part Four

 The third key to nurturing your marriage is practical application of these truths previously mentioned.  Knowledge (knowing truth) is not enough; we need wisdom (applying truth) in our marriages.

Homeschooling mother, I know you are busy.  Life is demanding.  You are home all day teaching the children.  There is work to do, places to go, errands to run, a home to manage, lessons to be taught, projects to complete, and schedules to make and keep.  Some days bring many challenges and there are probably times when your husband walks in the door only to be greeted with chaos.  While these days are a reality, I have found that a conscience effort to manage my “office” well is very beneficial to our marriage.  I have always said that my career is my family.  It is my job, given to me by God.  Therefore, if my career is my family then my office is my home.  I’m going to take the liberty to speak for all the husbands out there.  They do not want to come home to a messy house with loud children running around.  They do not want to see dishes in the sink and laundry piled up in the living room.  The kitchen table does not need to be overrun with school books, paper, and computers.  There does not need to be a science project hanging in his bathroom either.  He doesn’t want to see the children dirty and unkempt. And he certainly does not want to see his wife in sweats and a t-shirt with a chili stain left over from lunch on the front of her shirt.  You husband wants to walk in the door and greeted by a smiling wife and children who are happy to see him.  The home needs to be orderly.  I am not saying it has to be immaculate, but it should be managed well.  A little care goes a long way in a home.  If your husband comes home every day at 6 p.m. make sure by 5 p.m. you have a plan for dinner, the house is somewhat picked up, the children are happy and quiet, and the schoolbooks are put away.  If you are not finished with schoolwork by 5 p.m. then you need to start your day sooner.  I am speaking from experience.  Trust me; I have had a few of these chaotic days.  But let me say that when my home is managed well things go much smoother.  It’s certainly worth the extra effort.

Another must for marriage is Date Night!  It is imperative that you spend at least one day a month out on a date with your husband.  Just to clarify, this means without the children.  You are old enough now that you do not need chaperones.  The dates do not have to be elaborate.  While that is nice every now and then, it is not necessary.  Date nights can be as simple as a hamburger from McDonalds and holding each other’s hand while walking through a store together.  The important thing is that you spend time together, talk, and enjoy each other’s company.  Date nights can also be at home.  Put the children to bed early or rent them a video, fix a late dinner, and light some candles.  Your children will appreciate the fact that their parents make time for each other.  And your husband will appreciate the fact that he has a wife that desires to spend time with him.

Communication is also essential to a thriving marriage.  Homeschooling is a big part of your life.  Make sure you and your husband communicate often about the children.  Typically the dad does not spend as much time with them as the mother does so he needs to be involved.  Let him know how they are doing academically.  Share their successes and their failures with him.  Let the dad oversee the direction of their schooling.  Do not make him feel bad for always being at work. Thank him for working hard so that you have the privilege to be able to stay home and homeschool the children.  It is common mistake to have the attitude of “Mother knows best” when it comes to the education of the children.  But, when it comes down to it, the father as head of the family will be held accountable by God for the direction of his family and the education of the children.

Finally, do not over commit.  It is easy to go through life doing good things and completely miss out on the best things.  Sports are good.  Ministry is good.  Homeschool groups and activities are good.  Hobbies and recreations are good.  But marriage is best.  Children are best.  Relationships are best.  Warm memories are best.  Don’t become so busy that you are exhausted all the time.  Don’t become too B.U.S.Y. (Bound Under Satan’s Yoke).  Don’t run around doing things and forget about people.  Make time for your husband and make it a priority.  Make plans to eat together as a family.  And make sure every now and then that it is at home at the kitchen table and not in the car running to your next activity.

Nurturing Your Marriage – Part Three

Clear Priorities

A thriving biblical marriage can be characterized by having three priorities in place.  The first priority is to have a growing
relationship with God.  As I said in the previous post, God ordained marriage for His children.  Those outside of the faith cannot have a true biblical marriage.  Our relationship with
God should be preeminent.  C.S. Lewis said, “When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall
love my earthly dearest better than I do now.”  My husband and I have an understanding that God comes first in our life.  We’ll gladly settle for second place.  When we are each putting God first we are both moving in the same direction and our marriage is strengthened.

The second priority is a growing marriage.  Other than God, nothing should come before your marriage.  That includes your children, family, friends, or career.  The Christian marriage is like a triangle.  God is on top and the husband and wife at
each bottom corner.  The closer they get to God, the closer they get to each other.  The Scriptures declare, “A threefold cord is not quickly broken,” Ecclesiastes 4:12b. Wife, your husband should know that he is a priority in your life.  He should know that you understand and embrace your calling from God as help meet to him.  He should know that, next to God, nothing is more important to you on this earth than your relationship with him.  I like what Martin Luther said about marriage.  “Let the wife make the husband glad to come home and let him make her sorry to see him leave.” This is a God-honoring marriage that points other’s to Him.

The third priority is a growing relationship with the children.  Notice the order.  As precious as children are, they should not come before the marriage.  The home is
not to be “child-centered.”  If the children are the focus, what happens when they leave?  God’s design is for the children to eventually leave, cleave, and weave their own family together. Therefore, mother should not devote all of her time and energy to them.  She should save some for her husband.  Of course, this is not always easy to do.  It takes a lot of time and energy to raise children.  Homeschooling takes even more.  But the most wonderful gift you can give your children is a deep love for their father.  A strong marriage brings security to the home and an environment that children thrive in.

Tomorrow we will look at the third key to nurturing your marriage – practical application of these truths.

Theo

Faith, obedience, forgiveness…these are all qualities that we want to instill in our children.  The earlier we teach these things the better chance we will have that they take hold.  Cartoons can be a wonderful tool for teaching, which is why I am excited to share with you a new animated series called Theo: God’s Love.   Theo, an animated student of Godʼs Word, lives in a cozy corner of a quaint English village, in the heart of the Cotswolds, and entertains two mice, Belfry and Luther.  After 33 years in the making, the first DVD in the series Saving Faith releases on DVD September 13, 2011.

I sat down yesterday and watched the first episode.  In a way it reminded me of a shorter version of Adventures in Odyssey.  The episode is only 9 minutes long.  I thought it was an unusual length of time.  However, after watching it I could see the benefits of the shorter time.  Episode One taught about Saving Faith in a simple and entertaining way.  It was long enough to teach but short enough to keep little ones attention, making it perfect for Sunday school teachers who have just a few minutes at the end of class or who want to kick off a lesson on faith.  It is also a great resource for parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts who want to introduce a child to the great things of God.

You can visit the website and download the bonus episode called Good News for free.  Parents and those who work with children need to do this.  It is 5 minutes long and clearly presents the truth of the gospel.  You can also download each episode for only $4.99 on the website.  Saving Faith releases in September with Loving Obedience, Forgiveness, and Armor of God to follow.

If you are worker in a church you might be interested to know that Whitestone Media has partnered with Lifeway Christian resources in creating curriculum to compliment the Theo series.  Volume One – Foundations of Faith contains one DVD with 4 Theo episodes, teaching plans, worksheets, and parent pages to send home.  It also includes the bonus Good News episode and teaching plan on the gospel.  There is a link on the website where you can order it for $39.99.

Regardless of the way you teach your children about God, just make sure that you do.  There is nothing greater that you can give them in this life.  “From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus, 2 Timothy 3:15.

***  I have two copies of Theo – Saving Faith to give away to my readers.  All you have to do is leave a comment and tell me who first taught you about God.  I will draw two numbers on Friday, September 16th and have the DVD’s shipped to them.  Blessings!

Disclaimer:  I received this DVD in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Read for the Heart

Do you have children that love to read?  We do.  We are a family of readers. When my children were younger I was very specific about what they read.  In fact, unless their father or I had read the book ourselves we did not let them read it.  The reason is simple.  For a Christian, the battle field is often fought in the mind.  Therefore, what we put into our mind has a tremendous influence on our lives and effects our spiritual growth.  (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

However, we ran into a challenge when our children started out reading us.  Aaron would pick up a book at the library and ask if he could read it.  I would tell him to get the book and his father or I would read it first.  But we got to the point where we couldn’t keep up with him.  So, what is a parent to do? 

We solved the problem for a little while by finding authors we trusted.  We would then let them read anything they had written.  Again, we ran into problems there.  For example, my children love C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series but there we just some of his books we did not wanting the children to read until they were older.

If a parent wants to guard their children’s hearts they must sort through thousands of books to find those that are worthwhile.   There is, however, another option.  You can find a trusted source that has already done the work for you.

Apologia offers the solution.  Read for the Heart by Sarah Clarkson is a trusted guide in children’s literature.  In her book she recommends over 1,000 stories for young people from the classics to modern favorites, picture books to adventure novels, and read aloud favorites.  She shares her heart on reading and informs us of the literacy crisis here in America.

Read for the Heart is a wealth of knowledge.  If you would like more information about the book, visit Apologia to read a sample chapter.  The book cost $17.00.

To see what others are saying about this book, click here.

Disclaimer:  As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received Read for the Heart in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.