Thursday, February 18, 2010

This Little Light of Mine (Part 1)

                                                                        photo by Alesa Dam


A friend of mine on Facebook asked yesterday,


"Do you think everyone should homeschool? I mean to say, do you think all public education is damning to a child? I'm just curious--not being judgemental.--sorry if it sounded like that!"


My response was rather lengthy, and I told her many of the reasons that yes, I do think that all Christians, ideally, should homeschool their children. If that can't be done, a Christian school should be chosen. I cited several arguments that I made in this article.


Now, she and I have been good friends since our days at Moody Bible Institute, so I knew two things with reasonable certainty:


  1. She would not agree with me, and,
  2. She would still love me anyway.
Her response to my explanation proved my two assumptions correct:

"Thanks! I don't agree with your point of view, but I do really appreciate your being willing to share it with me. I guess my opinion in a nutshell (not that you asked for it--hee!) is, if we withdraw the light and salt from the public schools, we can't have a witness among people who need it the most. Again, just my thoughts on the matter.

I'm glad we can have differing opinions and still be friends and sisters in Christ."

If only all such exchanges of ideas were so civil!

This conversation got me thinking, and I decided to share some of those thoughts here today. If there is one argument I hear over and over again from Christians in favor of public schools, it is the "salt and light" argument. 

(It is almost as common as the "socialization" argument that I hear, mostly from non-Christians).

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out, and trampled under foot by men.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;
not does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16 (NASB)

I have heard these verses quoted ever since I was a young Christian, but I can't say as I have heard them quoted much in context. While I am not an expository preacher, I'd like to point out a couple of things I see in the context of this passage:
  1. The first 12 verses of Matthew 5 are The Beatitudes. The people Jesus is calling "salt and light" are people who "hunger and thirst for righteousness" (vs. 6), are "pure in heart" (vs. 8) and are "persecuted for the sake of righteousness" (vs. 10). Therefore, it is safe to assume that they are believers.
  2. Jesus spends the rest of Matthew 5 (and a great deal of Matthew 6) calling people to a higher level of obedience and righteousness than they had ever been called. (For more on this, check out Dr. Voddie Baucham, Jr.'s Sermon on the Mount series at www.sermonaudio.com)
Now, based on the context of this passage, I see several glaring problems with the "salt and light" argument for Christians sending their children to public schools.
  • We say we want our children to be "salt and light" in their public schools, but the fact is, most of the children Christians are sending to public schools are not yet born again. It is impossible for a child to be a witness to the light (1 John 1:1-3) if they have not yet seen the light.
  • In the same vein, most of the children we are sending to public schools do not have a biblical world view. So, not only are they not prepared to "give a reason for the hope that is within them" (1 Peter 3:15), but they are also having their worldview actively shaped into secular humanism by the 40-50 hours they spend per week in school.
All the evidence points to the world "evangelizing" our kids...not the other way around.

Moreover, Jesus did not expand upon his "salt and light" statements by telling his followers that they needed to  start sending their children to the Roman schools, even though that was an available option that some Jewish people were taking advantage of in Jesus's day. 

No! He expanded upon those statements by calling them to obedience to God's Law.

And yes, one of those mandates is for parents to educate and disciple their own children--to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Ephesians 6:1-4)

How does the salt of the earth lose it's saltiness? When it doesn't taste any different from the culture around it.

How does the light of the world become hidden under a bushel? When it attempts to blend into the culture around it!

We seem to think that the best way to influence the world is to become as much like the world as possible while still maintaining a "flavor" of Christianity. Yet, we are losing the cultural war, and we are losing it rapidly, one generation at a time.

On the other hand, we have seen throughout history that people who are committed to obeying God, no matter what the social implication or personal sacrifice, have had profound impact on their culture!

Contrary to popular misconception, biblical homeschooling isn't about raising little hermits in an over-protective bubble.

It is about raising young people who have a solid foundation in their knowledge of God and are passionate about using the gifts God has given them to fulfill the Great Commission.

To Be Continued...
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Whole World In His Hands

Asher received a globe from his grandfather for Christmas. Chris and I were excited about it, but we didn't immediately realize just how excited Asher would be.

Excited was the wrong word. He is enchanted.

In the past two months, Asher has used his globe to:
  • Locate the North Pole, South Pole, and Equator,
  • Find where we live,
  • Identify each of the oceans and continents.
But, that was only the beginning.

The globe is now a source of constant fascination. It spends most of the day in the middle of the dining room table. I find that we refer to it often--it adds a tangible component to everyday conversations.

  •  We had a fun talk about the days when people thought the earth was flat, where Columbus was really trying to go when he "discovered" the New World, and why he thought sailing around the earth would be easier than going south around Africa.
  • As we studied the life of Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, we followed his travels on the globe. We discussed why, even though sailing from England to China was a long, hard journey, (no airplanes back then!) it was still preferable than traveling by land across all of Europe and Asia. Also, as Taylor founded China Inland Mission, we talked about what is meant by "coastal" and "inland" areas of a country.
  • Shortly after our study of Hudson Taylor, Asher randomly asked one morning, "Where are the Philippines? I told him to find China, go east into the Pacific Ocean, and start looking around. He found the Philippines within moments. He found Japan, too. It helps that he can read well.
  • Within the first couple days after the earthquake in Haiti, I was discussing with a friend plans he had to help in the evacuation effort. Asher planned his own rescue flight with his globe, charting a stop in Florida on the way down and a stop in Mexico on the way back. He drew it all out in the form of a map. It was quite remarkable.
  • Just this morning at breakfast, Asher read "product of Chile" on our carton of blueberries. When he asked what that meant (Acacia was sure it had something to do with hot peppers!), we found the long, skinny country on the west cost of South America. Colored green on the globe, we decided that it actually did look a lot like a chili pepper!
The most profound conversation I have had with my son surrounding his globe has been about east and west. First of all, we started at the south pole and "traveled" (with my finger) north, then south again, than north again. 

Then, we tried to do the same thing with east and west. Of course, it doesn't work.

Start heading east...keep going east...no matter how far you travel, or how many times you circle the globe, you will always be going east.

Start going west...same thing...you will always be going west.

Then, I explained to Asher, that God used east and west as a metaphor to show us what happens when Christ forgives us of our sins.

As far as the east is from the west, 
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:12 (NASB)

It was one of those thrilling moments of sharing truth with my child where I said inside,

"Yes! This is why I do this! This is why I homeschool!

What's even more wonderful, is he actually seemed to "get it".

We serve such an amazing God! He created the universe and has the whole world in His hands, and yet He loves us so much that He would make us objects of His mercy and grace.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which you have ordained;

What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?

Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!

You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,

All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,

The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.

O LORD, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8:3-9
Friday, February 5, 2010

Becoming...

"A man is what he thinks all day long."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We become what we think about."
Earl Nightingale

"For as he thinks within himself, so he is."
Proverbs 23:7 (NASB)


The first month of 2010 is behind us. What are you thinking about? What are you becoming?

What are your children thinking about? What are they becoming?


"Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth."
Colossians 3:1-2 (NASB)


What are they seeing? Reading? Hearing? Studying? Memorizing? Absorbing into the core of their beings?

What about you?

What about me?

"A pupil is not above his teacher, but everyone, after he has been fully trained will be like his teacher."
Luke 6:40 (NASB)

Does it matter?

Of course it matters!!

You know it matters.

I know it matters.

So, what are we going to do about it?
Thursday, February 4, 2010

What Kids Really Need


During a rare, short, solo shopping trip that I took in an affluent community, Chris drove the kids through a high-end subdivision. The conversation they had was priceless.

Dad: What do you think of those houses, Asher?

Asher: They look like apartment buildings.

Dad: No, son, actually, those are single-family homes.

Asher: Those must be pretty big families who live there!

Dad: (suppressing chuckle) What would a small family do with a big house like that?

Acacia (the 3-year-old): Clean it!

Wisdom from the mouths of babes! 

Clearly, we live in a society of excess and misplaced priorities. We make sacrifices in the area of family life for the sake of having nice "things". We have huge, elaborate houses that we are never home to enjoy.

(Lest you read this and become upset with me, no, I am not against being wealthy. I am against monetary prosperity at the expense of other, more important things. There is a big difference.)

As home educators, we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that we are not providing everything that our children really "need". 

People outside of our families may tell us that our kids are missing out on things that the public school experience could give them. Maybe you've had conversations, as my husband has, with people who say that you wouldn't have to struggle so hard financially if you would just put the kids in school and send your wife back to work.

Maybe you've started to wonder if you're really doing what's best for your kids.

While it may be true, in some ways, that we can't give our kids all the same experiences at home that they would have at public school, it is quite the leap to say that therefore, we should not homeschool. This mindset is based on a fallacy--one that holds up the conventional school paradigm as the ideal model. 

It ignores the fact that we are gaining a lot of good in exchange for what we might give up.

-Kids don't really need a highly trained staff of state-certified teachers to guide their learning experience...

...they need the kind of mentoring relationship and walk-along-the-road discipleship that can only come from loving parents.

-Kids don't really need a stack of expensive textbooks...

...the Book they need most is the Word of God. Most of the other worthwhile books can be obtained with a library card.

-Kids don't really need every minute of their day scheduled with academic work and extra-curricular activities...

...they need time to be creative, time to explore nature, time to learn how to work at home, time to "just be" with their families, and most importantly, time to worship God and serve Him.

-Kids don't really need to be on the traveling baseball/football/soccer team...

...they need to run around in their own backyard with their siblings, go for a walk in the woods, or have a catch with their dad.

-Kids don't really need a long list of "crushes", falling in and out of "love" a dozen times before they turn 18...

...they need to see real, unconditional, sacrificial love modeled to them by their mother and father. They need love and respect demonstrated to them in such a way that they know how a potential mate ought treat them, and how they ought behave around members of the opposite gender.

-And trust me, unless you're living in a tiny apartment on the wrong side of town (been there, done that), your kids do not really need a bigger house. They don't need a fancy new car, all the latest digital "toys" and high-end clothing to impress all their friends, either...

...what they need is YOU. No amount of "stuff" is going to be an adequate substitute for a mother who stays home with her children, and a father who is home enough to develop strong relationships.

...and no teacher or school, no matter how well-educated or well-funded, is going to do a good job taking your place...and if they do, then you've really lost out, haven't you?

Yes, there are difficult situations. If you're a single mom, juggling two jobs just to make ends meet, I feel for you! But, lets be honest, most of us are not there! We're rushing around, shipping our children off to a laundry list of daycare providers, babysitters, and school teachers instead of raising them and teaching them ourselves because we are trying to maintain our "lifestyle"--our material things--our STUFF.

"Do not love the world nor the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

For all that is in the world,
the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life,
is not from the Father, but is from the world.

The world is passing away, and also its lusts;
but the one who does the will of God lives forever."
I John 2:15-17

As always, the convicting hand of God points a finger back at me as I type this. I know there are areas of my life that do not come into line with this passage of Scripture. But, if I only quoted the parts of the Bible that I lived perfectly, I wouldn't have much to write about.

So, please, don't see me as a legalistic ogre or naive Pollyanna who doesn't understand your situation. Each of us needs to search the Scriptures, pray diligently, and evaluate the choices we are making in light of His Word. I only hope that we will start to realize that we need to make our lifestyle choices based on the Word of God, not on self-serving interests or cultural expectations.

The next generation is at stake, and The LORD is calling us to do right by these little ones.

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I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.

My Writing Elsewhere...

Fixing Your Heart on Titus 2

Did you pray for your
husband today?
Monday--His Work
Tuesday--His Integrity
Wednesday--His Mind
Thursday--His Purpose
Friday--His Health
Saturday--His Protection
Sunday--His Faith

Carnival of Homeschooling

Carnival of Homeschooling
Features God Made, Home Grown

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival

2009 Nominee!

2010 Nominee!

My Wired Style

My Wired Style
Success is not learned. It is discovered and nurtured. What was your child born to do?

Our Curriculum 2010-2011

Bible--Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos, Apologia Biblical World View Book 1, "Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?"
Catechism-- "Training Hearts, Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade
Phonics--Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
(Kindergarten), Year 1 Booklist (1st Grade)
Handwriting--Bible Copywork, made using Educational Fontware
Spelling-- All About Spelling Level 1 (1st grade)
Math--Math-U-See Primer (Kindergarten) , Math-U-See Alpha (1st grade)
World History--Simply Charlotte Mason's Genesis Through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt
American History--The Light and The Glory For Children Series
Art--Interest-led projects and handicrafts
Geography and Missions-- "Hero Tales" by Dave and Neta Jackson, as well as various other missionary biographies, incorporating globe and map study
*We will be studying music and phy-ed., participating in a writing club and nature club, as well as attending various field trips, with our church's homeschool group.*

Disciple Like Jesus

Disciple Like Jesus

Raising Homemakers

Raising Homemakers

Quiverfull Family

The Modest Mom

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