Archive for July, 2015

Christian Education – Is it Worth it?

Undoubtedly the decision to place one’s kids into a private Christian school is fraught with financial angst.  The heart of the decision is clearly the desire for the spiritual well-being of our kids, but for most folks, the decision still boils down to a “cost-benefit ratio” analysis.  The “benefit” aspect of the ratio (as I hope to outline in part) is easy to determine; the “cost” aspect is a private affair since it is dependent on one’s individual monetary resources and potential life-style sacrifices. What I would like to do here is share my own personal experiences of the benefits of a Christian education, and thereby encourage those who have indeed made the necessary sacrifices to put their kids into Christian schools.

  1. A Christian education includes education in Christianity.  Again, based on my own experiences, Bible will be a required daily class for every grade.  While Sunday school is a good thing, based on recent data it has been shown to be largely irrelevant in preventing our children from abandoning the faith in their college years.  This is hardly surprising if one hour (two, including church) of biblical instruction per week is all one gets.  However, attending a Christian school will reap another 4 hours (or so) of instruction.  Also, since Bible class is in fact a class, there will be homework, reading assignments, textbooks (in addition to the Bible), and exams.  This yields a more intensive and detailed study of Scripture compared to Sunday school.  Hopefully the child will experience a deepening appreciation of the reality of God and His acts in history and thereby a deeper understanding of the basis of his/her faith.

Additionally, even if the school is identified with a particular church or denomination, the faculty and student body will likely span multiple denominations, and that experience can enrich your child’s appreciation of the diversity of Christian theological thought and biblical interpretation within orthodoxy.

  1. 2. A Christian education includes critique of secular dogmas. Government schools exist to train “New World citizens”; hence, political correctness and the doctrines that ground the secular humanist worldview must go without serious challenge in these schools.  If you believe the Christian worldview to be the one that corresponds to reality, then you will want your child to be taught the philosophical, ethical, logical, and evidential fallacies, errors, rationalizations, and canards that are at the heart of the secular agenda: atheism, Darwinism, scientism, multiculturalism, relativity of truth and morality, etc.  Hence, Bible instruction should include an introduction to apologetics by which your child will learn to appreciate the rationally demonstrable superiority of the Christian worldview over all rivals. The first item in the “armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17) is the belt of truth.  It is the piece upon which the rest of the armor is secured.  If the concept of truth is forsaken, then culture will necessarily spiral into chaos as each does and thinks “what is right in his own eyes.” The world will get its turn at your kids in college and/or the workplace where Christianity and truth are marginalized and denigrated respectively.  If you have put your kids into a Christian school, then take some comfort: Your kids will stand a much better chance of resisting seduction by “hollow and deceptive” philosophies and holding on to (and sharing) their Christian worldview if they have come out of high school grounded in truth.
  2. A Christian education includes a Christian environment.   The first two points lose most, if not all, of their vitality if this point is missing.  In fact, in my opinion, if a Christian school fails here, it fails, period.  After all, at the end of the day, Christianity is more than merely a philosophy or a set of metaphysical assertions.  It is more than reasons and knowledge; it is a way of life – in fact, it is life itself, life in abundance, life eternally.

My children had the privilege of being taught – at every grade – by teachers who were competent in their academic fields and who were also kind, caring, loving, Bible-believing, and God-honoring.  Undoubtedly, there are many Christian teachers in the public school system, but that system, by definition, cannot and will not encourage these teachers to share their Christian testimony – let alone pray with a student.

We meet together in church to worship and praise our Savior but also for mutual edification and encouragement. But actual church services are only a few hours a week.  A Christian school can provide this environment for your child for seven or so hours a day – even more if they participate in after school activities and sports.  Secretly held beliefs can whither when there is the threat of ridicule if spoken aloud. (And the state-sponsored and increasingly culturally-enforced secularism of modern America exploits this fact as its thought police intimidate into silence those voices who dare speak out in celebration of Christian values, Christian freedom, and the Christian founding of our nation.) On the other hand, there is something affirming in the process of freely speaking aloud one’s heartfelt beliefs to a sympathetic and encouraging audience –in this case, Christian classmates and teachers.  By putting your kids in a Christian school you have privileged them with a faith-affirming environment – and spared yourself the worry of wondering what politically correct, profane nonsense they have been subjected to on any given day.

  1. Christian education encourages a love of this country. The secular worldview adheres to three critical errors:  the nonexistence of God, the natural goodness of mankind, and an inevitable upward “evolution” of civilization.   The culmination of these errors is utopianism – the belief that mankind will eventually save itself by constructing a scientifically engineered perfect society.   Despite the plethora of genocidal failures of such attempts in history (particularly, the 20th century), the utopians of every age breathlessly anticipate – on blind faith – that utopia is just around the corner:  All we need is a little more reeducation, a little more socialization, a little more elimination of the naysayers, and, of course, a lot more centralization of power.   And if mankind is to be saved, the utopia must be world-wide; hence, the secular view is globalist in scope.  (Islam is a theistic equivalent.)

What does this have to do with love of this country? Christians reject the secularist premises.  We know that a global utopia is not remotely humanly possible, and the final attempt – that of the Antichrist — will be the worst of all.   True worldwide utopia will occur only when Christ returns. In the meanwhile, we struggle to construct civil structures that protect “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and, at the same time, restrain the sinful nature found in both the citizenry and the leaders.  This country was settled by Christians and our founding documents strongly reflect the Christian worldview – and this country has, by God’s grace, survived its occasional failings and prospered like none before it.  But a lone superpower that honors God, Scripture, His moral law, and the dignity of human life and freedom is a stumbling block for secularist global utopians; it must be humbled if the secularist nightmare is to be realized.  And we see their efforts every day in the news. Christians, however, knowing that God was instrumental in America’s founding, consider America worth fighting for and preserving as it was founded.  It is the world’s best hope in human governance – until Christ comes.  Hence, love of this country should come naturally to the Christian heart – and so patriotism is encouraged in Christian schools.

A Christ-based education is hardly a guarantee your children will remain true to Christ (and a public education hardly guarantees they will not – the home is still critical in both cases.)  The world system is relentless in its self-promotion in the after-school hours – in movies, TV, pop music, etc.   But if one has been able to make the necessary personal sacrifices in order to put your kids in Christian schools, take heart – you’ve made a big step in giving your kids a fighting chance. Now, pray for them . . . every day.

Sincerely,

Bill Butt

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Homeschooling–what could be more challenging, more enjoyable, or more intimidating to a parent? It is a road of tremendous blessing but also of great sanctification for a family. In reflecting on 30 years of teaching my children I have seen many successes and failures, joys and sorrows, satisfactions and regrets. As I consider how to encourage the next generation of homeschoolers, there are two primary areas that come to mind that I feel are essential to your homeschooling success.

Refine Your Vision:

Why are you educating your children? What is your goal? What are you hoping to accomplish and instill in them?  Are we trying to turn out the most academically impressive young adults, or are we looking for children that are wise in the the things of God? I would submit to you that homeschooling is nothing less than the Christian discipleship of your children. It is your response to the command given to raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord so that the future generation will declare His praises. It is essential to be continually evaluating to be sure that we stay on the right track. In a culture that exalts the wisdom of man, it is easy to stray off course and miss the training of our children in Godliness. Of course we all want our children to succeed academically, but that does not go far enough. God calls us to disciple our children in the fear of the Lord, for that is where true wisdom is found. We can instill much academic knowledge and miss the fear of God, with the results being disastrous for the next generation. No amount of academic achievement will comfort a parent if their child does not walk in the fear of the Lord.

Keeping your vision in view is what will sustain you on those wonderful days when children are sick, dishes are undone, the housework has fallen by the wayside, math has been bypassed, the mama is frazzled and your life seems like the aftermath of a hurricane. Those are the times you must be able to see that in all the chaos the most needful lessons were still taught, i.e., how to respond to every situation biblically with love, patience and grace, how to lean on the everlasting arms for strength, how to be an example to our children of peace in the chaos, and when we fail at that, we have the opportunity to display a heart of humble repentance before them. It is easy to become discouraged after days like this, but if you are instilling those spiritual lessons in your children, then that was a very profitable homeschool day! The math will come in time, but the character of the child is where the vision must be.

Keep Focused:

The second priority I want to emphasize is keeping focused. That is making sure we are aiming at the target we had in mind. Once you have your vision clearly before you it is a constant battle to refine and refocus your efforts to achieve it. It is so easy to get side tracked, and if we don’t check our trajectory we may well miss the mark we were hoping to hit. There are so many paths and detours along the way, so many different curricula, co-ops, conferences, and activities that it can be hard to discern where to spend your time, money and energy. We must be careful not to let the fun, the interesting or the latest homeschool craze pull us off track. We may often have to refuse things that may be good in order to reach for the best. Keep in mind how you will define whether you have been a successful homeschool parent or not. Will your success be defined by test scores or by whether your children are conformed to the image of Christ? Do you desire most for them to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ?

These words are not meant to negate the importance of striving for academic mastery, but we must keep first things first and the other things will follow. As your children grow in Godliness they will also grow in the pursuit of doing all for His glory, leading to applying themselves to do their best in every area of life. This is certainly the best road to their academic success as well as success in all other areas.

Final Thoughts:

Always remember where true wisdom is found. “In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Philippians 3:8).

Homeschooling is definitely not an easy road, but the rewards are innumerable. Keep in mind the admonition of Paul to the Galatians, “Let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). Homeschooling can be a difficult and daunting task, but keep the words of the Psalmist before you continually, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6). Your children’s relationship with their Lord is worth every sacrifice! Do not grow weary in doing good.  Rest in God, teach the best, and continually reevaluate your trajectory and refine or pull back to improve your aim so you may hit the target. Always remember that you “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!” (Philippians 3:14.)

Sincerely,

Desiree Sheats

Forty-two years ago when our first child entered the first grade, I was elated that finally he would be with us all day, since his dad and I were both public school teachers teaching at the same school that he attended.  Five years later another child began Kindergarten, and then yet another five years passed and our last child entered Kindergarten.  All of our children began and graduated from a public school.  They were all leaders and well- grounded in their faith in Jesus.  They made good friends with those who had similar morals, and they reached out to those who were not Christians.  Being followers of Christ, we talked about the things going on at school, and thought about the response we should have.  We were so grateful that our children took a stand against drugs, drinking, and pre-marital sex.  We prayed for them every day asking God to protect their minds and hearts from the evil one who desired to kill, steal, and destroy their faith in Christ.  They were able to be witnesses to students and staff by the way they lived their lives, and some lives have been changed forever, praise the Lord!

Today, however, the enemy seems to have a larger toe-hold in the world, and many of the children of Christian parents are turning from their belief in Jesus.  They are followers, not leaders, and their desire to “fit in” is the driving factor of their lives, not being obedient to Christ.  What their peers say is more important to them than what their parents say.  But, if a child is grounded in his/her faith, strong willed enough to take a stand for what is right and pleasing to God regardless of what stand others take, then that child would be a light in the public school and would probably thrive in that setting.  I believe that there are three areas that must be cultivated if you want your child thrive in a public school setting.       

Parents Must Pray:

Parents should pray, pray, pray for their children, asking the Lord to reveal His will for each of them.  Eventually all children must live in the real world, but they must be grounded sufficiently to withstand the devil.

Parent’s must Educated Their Children in God’s Word:

We must make sure that they have God’s word hidden in their hearts and that they understand how to use the Word to stand firm. That education comes from talks around the dinner table, talks while traveling, talks while taking a walk, talks when doing the dishes, etc (Deuteronomy 6:7) .

Parents Must Live-out Their Faith:

The parents must live their faith day in and day out in front of the children.  The children must see how knowing God is a vital part of their parent’s lives.  One child may need to be home schooled for a few years to get that solid foundation, while another child may be ready to attend public school at Kindergarten age, but the parents living out their faith is a vital part of their children’s preparation.

Our public schools need students and staff who are a light for Jesus.  They need to see Christians who are sold out for Jesus and live their lives everyday depending on Him.  They must see the difference in Christians, so their hearts will long for the peace and joy that knowing Christ brings.  Our job is to make sure our children and grandchildren understand and practice God’s Word.  We must be an example that they can follow since they are watching our lives and picking up our habits.

Sincerely,

Dale Slater

It’s hard to believe that in just a few short weeks we will be trading in swimsuits for school clothes and beach time for books.  Summer seems to go by quicker now than it ever has before.  For some parents the return to school cannot come soon enough, but for others it brings anxiety.  This is the first (official) year that my wife and I will start schooling, and I must admit that it is a little scary to think about my children’s education.  I want them to get the best education that they can get while being in an environment that fosters godliness.  For our family, we have chosen to homeschool.  I know that this is not the best choice for everyone; but no matter your schooling choice, we can all use some encouragement as the new school year starts back.  Over the next several weeks I am going to be publishing a series of blogs aimed to do just that . . . encourage the parent on the upcoming school year.

I have asked three guests to write on their preferred schooling option (Public School, Homesschool, Private Christian School) and give we parents some hopeful words on the upcoming school year.  Each one has sent their children through all 12/13 years of schooling with great success.  Among those now adult children are doctors, teachers, nurses, authors, computer-techs, farmers, actuaries, musicians, and a whole host of other things.  More importantly than their vocational success is that almost across the board, they all have grown to be godly men and women.  This is ultimately what we as Christian parents are striving for.  A good job is great, but a godly heart is what we all desire.  They get there not just through reading, writing, and arithmetic, but also by knowing and serving God.  That may seem daunting, but I believe we can be encouraged by those who have walked through it before and have come out on the other side.

For your benefit, here is a quick bio on the guest writers so that you can have a little info on the people who are writing.

Dale Slater (Public School):

Mrs. Dale Slater taught in the public school system for more than 30 years.  She and her husband were blessed to have 3 children who all went though this school system.  Dale was the single most influential teachers for me during my schooling years.  While she taught me much about math, she taught me much more about the Lord.  She was a daily godly example to her students and anyone that was around her.  Both she and her husband did not just teach their children at school, but more importantly, at home.  There is no one else I can think of who would be better able to encourage families who have chosen this option to school their children.

Desiree Sheats (Homeschool):

Desiree is one of the godliest and humble women I have ever known.  She and her husband were blessed with 12 children of their own plus one that they adopted.  She has just recently graduated, after 30 years of homeschooling, her last of 13 children.  When my wife and I need direction or affirmation on our choice of education for our children, this is who we run to.  The Lord has given her a heart for the homeschool community and the wisdom to encourage many generations to come.  While never formally obtaining more than a high-school diploma herself, with the Lord’s guidance she and her husband educated their children in not just math, science, and English, but also in the things of God, which has had the most lasting impact on her children.

William “Bill” Butt (Christian School):

Dr. Butt saw fit to send all 3 of his children through 12 impressionable years of Christian education.  Not only did he send his children through a top-notch Christian school but he also taught at this school part-time in subjects such as systematic theology and apologetics in order to prepare the future generation to be able to defend their faith.  Dr. Butt is a doctor of medicine, but his heart is geared toward teaching the things of God.  This is most evident for anyone that has ever been around him for very long.  All of his children were the benefactors of such a school system, and I believe his words will be an encouragement to families who have chosen this avenue of education for their children.

No matter what educational choice you make for your children, we all need encouragement to press on.  I hope this series of blogs will help you to do just that.  It is not meant to be a debate on which system is better, but rather to encourage you as a parent where you are.  If you are still struggling through this decision for your children, let me suggest this little book called Perspectives on Your Child’s Education” which gives a very well balanced view on the four potential types of education choices that parents face.

I pray as school starts back soon, you will find comfort in these words and any anxiety that you may have will be placed at the foot of the cross.  We are all commanded to educate our children, whether we delegate that responsibility or not.  So in doing so, pray for them, play with them, and participate in that education process for the glory of God.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell