Turning the World Upside Down!

the-world-upside-down-wallpaperIn today’s changing world it is easy to get discouraged as it seems the next generation of Christians are falling away faster then any other generation before them. Statistics tell us that an alarming 70% of young people are leaving or don’t attend church regularly after age 18-22. But I believe that this up and coming generation has a great opportunity to “Turn the world upside down”. Continue reading

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Giving Thanks for School!

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

This verse is a hard one to follow some times, especially when things don’t go your way, but God was clear, the will of God is for you to give thanks in everything. Good and bad. Happy and sad. Whether you understand it or it makes no sense at all. God has asked us to give thanks.
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Christian Students Making a Difference…

Life Isn't a GameIt may seem that the average Christian student doesn’t make a difference in their school to influence others for Christ. I have often wondered that perhaps the reason it seems that way is because most students aren’t challenged to make a difference in their schools. Over the past 5 years I have started growing in my vision of what the Lord can do through a true student lead movement in the realm of schools, church, and local communities.

Something Needed to Change!

Last year (2014) I saw the Lord begin doing a work in my own heart in challenging the teens of our church to be a godly witness in their schools and with their friends. Most of the teens I teach are in public school, a few are taught in Christian School and home schooled. I put away the Sunday School curriculum, put away the student booklets, and decided instead of giving them a pre-made template of “Biblical advice”, that I needed to have a more personal and engaging time of teaching with them. I am not saying there is anything wrong with these books, in fact I think that much of the material is great, but a light bulb went off in my head when I saw that my students weren’t interacting, weren’t engaged, and after a few weeks of expounding on the same subject matter weren’t interested. You can only teach “How to find the will of God” for so many weeks before you lose a teenager’s interest. Something needed to change!
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Audio Drama Review: Jonathan Park: The Adventure Begins

I first learned of Jonathan Park through facebook friends sharing what a great Christmas gift this would make for children. I took a look and was interested, but was afraid to spend $25 on something I wasn’t sure my young children would be interested in at this time. So instead of purchasing them myself, I told my mom about them and she bought them for the boys for Christmas.

I grew up listening to the likes of Patch the Pirate and Adventures in Odyssey on the Christian side and Old Time Radio on the secular side, so I have heard and enjoyed the production of good quality Audio Dramas. I would now add Jonathan Park to that list of quality Audio Dramas.
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An Honest Review of the Book: How To Stay A Christian in High School

HB03-lI just finished a book entitled How to Stay Christian in High School by Steven P Gerali a book written to encourage teens that they do not have to give into the pressures from the world. I kind of had mixed emotions about the book. But here is the good and bad of the book:

The Good

The book was a fresh look at teenagers in the Bible and their ability to overcome great obstacles. I never really thought about how many people in the Bible that we call “Men of God” were really teenagers when their testimony of trust in God was tested. This book really got me to think about other characters outside of the book that faced great testing as a young adult.

As a youth pastor I will adapt some things from this book to encourage my youth group. Two specific teens that the author looks at, Daniel and Joseph, were thrust into pagan societies as teenagers but by the grace of God were able to resist the temptations of the world around them. While they were able to be raised in the early part of their lives in “Christian” homes, as teenagers they were completely separated from the godly influences of their family, but were able to find the strength through God to face their difficult situations. These two were a specific encouragement to me because I know that teens so many times feel like it is impossible to live godly with the seemingly overwhelming ungodly influence around them. This isn’t just how a teen going to public school feels, it is the way teenagers in any type of schooling feels. Even though as I spent my entire teenage years either in a Christian school or homeschooled, I still felt overwhelmed at times with the amount of effort it took to keep a right relationship with God. So there are going to be some good lessons I can adapt from this book.

The Bad

There is a reason that I am going to adapt lessons from this book, rather than use this book as written to use as a Sunday School curriculum. I feel like while trying to make the book feel relevant today, that they over killed it, and at times seemed irreverent to the Scriptures. This isn’t to say that they did it on purpose, but it still struck me in a negative way at times.

I also feel like the author had to assume a lot with some of the points he made, or ways he brought a story together. If I did not already have a keen knowledge of the Bible and the characters that the author presented in the book, it could have possibly come across as more than just creative liberties, but could have made me think that it must really be what the Bible says.

Conclusion

Overall if I were to give this book a rating it would be a 2.5 out of 5 stars. Not a book that I would scream from the rooftops for people to read, but a good one to read like you eat a fish, eating the good parts and spitting out the bones. Looking forward to using some of the thoughts from this book, to teach and preach to my teens.

Pieces from the Pickup Line #5

I recently picked up a book called How to Stay Christian in High School by Steven P Gerali a book written to encourage teens that they do not have to give into the pressures from the world. He takes several “Teen” Bible characters to give examples of how they can stand for Christ. Here is our “Pieces from the Pickup Line”  from my reading today on September 10, 2013.

9 Things I Pray for Each School Day

Man prayingIt doesn’t matter whether you are a person who sends your children to the public school, a private school, or is home schooled, prayer should be an important part of your day. Each night before I go to sleep and each morning before we leave to go to school I spend time praying for certain things. So here are a list of 9 things I pray for each school day:

1.Wisdom as a Parent of  school age children

In general no matter what age your child is, seeking God’s wisdom is a must.

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

2.For my children to make wise choices

No matter the age of my child I should be taking time to teach them to seek God’s face in all the choices that they make.

Proverbs 3:5-6Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

3.For my children to remember instructions given to them

Each morning on our way to school I talk to my children about things they need to remember and work on for the day. During the first few weeks of school we talk about remembering to listen to the teachers and to pay attention. These times of instruction and instruction given in the home are a special time for our children to learn how to behave and what is expected of them.

Proverbs 1:8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

4.For my children to avoid troublemakers

No doubt troublemakers can be found most places that your children go, so it is important to teach them to guard themselves from them. One conversation that Aric and I have had lately on the way to school has been,

Me: Aric what should you do if someone asks you to do bad?

Aric: Tell them I can’t do it because it is bad.

Me: And then what should you do?

Aric: Tell my teacher.

Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

5.For my children to remember Who Created them and Who they should serve

Another conversation that Aric and I have been having on the way to school is: Who created everything, did dinosaurs live millions of years ago, how old is the earth, and did men come from monkeys.

Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;

6.For my child tobe testimonies of Jesus Christ

I want my children to learn early in their lives that they have an opportunity influence others for Christ.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

7.For the teacher to be encouraged

One of the most underrated jobs in my book is that of a teacher. Parents treat them like jerks when their child gets in trouble. Parents act like their child is an angel and the teacher is the devil himself/herself. Being a teacher can be a very discouraging position.

Ecclesiastes 9:10Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

8.For the teacher to have patience

If you have a child or even a few children you know how hard it can be to be patient at times. Imagine the teacher there in the classroom with 20+ students all coming from different home lives with different standards. Some children may be well-behaved, while others may have no discipline whatsoever. It can be quite overwhelming for a teacher to face a classroom each day, so pray for your children’s teachers to have patience.

Proverbs 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

9. For the teacher to teach with wisdom

Now some people might say, “how can you expect a Public School teacher to teach with wisdom when many of them probably aren’t Christians?”. Well those people probably don’t use that same logic when they ask prayer for Doctors to have wisdom when they are facing a health situation. Not all Doctors are Christians but we still ask for God to give them wisdom and we should pray that God give our children’s teachers wisdom as well.

Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Lord, there are many things that can be prayed for when it comes to having children in school. But above all we want you to be pleased and glorified in everything that we do. We need wisdom as parents. We need your guidance and direction when it comes to teaching our children. We also need you to work in our children’s lives to be a bright and shining testimony for you, no matter what type of school they go to. A-men

What are some things that you pray for when your children start their school day?

Finding Time to Teach God’s Principles

The frequent argument that I hear for those who oppose the Public School for their children is the fact that your children are surrounded by the teaching of the non-Christian schools for 8 hours a day. They will say something like “The school gets your children longer than you do as a parent, so when are you going to have time to teach your child about God.”  I appreciate something I read in the book Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public, while the authors have sent all of their eight children to public school, they have stated that every parent should be a “homeschool” parent.  They did not say that every child should do their schooling at home. But they stress the importance of the parents teaching their children their principles as a family every opportunity there is. The truth is even in Christian homeschooling you aren’t being taught the Bible 8 hours a day. So to answer a question some have asked me “How do you apply Deuteronomy 6:7 when your children are being taught in a public school?”

Before I give a few ways I teach it, we need to look at the verse in the context of the passage of scripture.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

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.

Many people like to make this passage say something that it does not, this passage does not say, “Keep thy children in the house all day to teach them only the principles of the Bible.” Should the Bible be key in any Christians life? Absolutely. But you know we learn things outside the Bible all the time. If you have a mother who knows how to cook and clean, she didn’t learn that from the Bible. In context these verses are very clear on what we are to be teaching our Children, “love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might”. We are to teach our children to love God with everything. That is the command of this passage. So here is how I do this according the verse 7.

1. Teaching my children to love God when we sit in our house (when thou sittest in thine house)

Each time we sit at the dinner table we take time to teach our children about God. Aric is in school now, so while we don’t get to sit at breakfast and lunch together during the school day, we do get to eat every dinner meal together around the table. When we sit at the table before we eat we take time to learn a verse. We work on the verse until our children have the verse memorized. After working on the verse for the day, we take time to pray, not just for the food, but for prayer requests that are on our hearts. Why do we do this? To teach our children the importance of memorizing God’s Word and to teach them that God answers prayer. We are teaching our children that before every meal they need to take time to pray to the Lord who wants to have a loving relationship with them.

I also like to include in this part of sitting in our house, that the church should be an extension of your home. Your children should know that church is important to you. That your relationship with God goes beyond just words, but also is demonstrated by actions. Many Parents spend more time criticizing the Pastor of their church, than they do worshiping the Lord in the church. This is a poor testimony of the way that God has asked us to love Him, after all God did say if we “love Him, you will love your neighbor”. So I take time to teach my children the importance of the church and the pastor that God has led to lead our church.

2. Teaching my Children to love God when we journey together  (when thou walkest by the way)

I know not every parent will take time to drive their children to school. Most probably put their children on the bus as it is more convenient.  But whether you drive your children to the school yourself or wait with your child as the bus comes to pick them up, take time to teach them. On our way to school and from school each day, I take time to teach my child about who God is.

EXAMPLE: This week on the way to school Aric and I talked about subjects like this: What should you do if another child asks you to do something wrong? How long ago did Dinosaurs live? Who created the World? Who created Dinosaurs? Did we come from Monkeys? and a few other subjects.

On the way home from school I take time to ask what our child is learning. Renee takes time to look at his behavior for the day. I take time to ask him if anyone tried to get him to do wrong, and if so what he did when they tried. I take time to talk about his behavior, even if he had a “perfect” day. Why do we do all this, because we want him to do right, not because mommy and daddy ask him to do right, but because we want him to learn to love God. We teach our children this saying:

Us: Boy’s how often should you do right?

Boys: All the time.

Us: And why should we do right all the time?

Boys: Because that’s the right thing to do.

3. Teaching my Children to love God when we settle for the night  (when thou liest down)

We take time every night to have Bible time with our children. Renee and I take turns reading a devotion portion with our children. We don’t simple just read and send the kids to bed. We take time to explain words and explain why the “story” is important. We don’t stop at having a devotion with our children either, we take time to pray with each other. From the time our children had learned to talk, we have been having them take a turn at praying. We ask each person what they would like to pray for, for the night and then either Renee or I or one of the boys prays.

4. Teaching my Children to love God when we get up in the morning (when thou risest up)

This is probably one of the areas I struggle with the most as a father. I am not a morning person, I don’t like to get up early in the morning, but since Aric has started school, I have had to start getting up earlier than I am used to. One of the ways that I am learning to help my children learn to love God when we rise up, is to let them see their Daddy reading his Bible in the morning, before Aric goes to school. A child won’t care how much you say you love God, until they see how much you love God. If they see me reading my Bible and praying before they ever leave the house, then I truly believe that they will learn to have that same good habit in their lives.

What ways do you find helpful in teaching your children to have a true love for God?

An Honest Review of the Movie: Already Gone

Already GoneI have owned the film “Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do to Stop It” for several years now. I have also shown this film several times to various groups and have watched it several times my self. I know that some feel that I gave the film “IndoctriNation” a very hard review, but I also gave that film a very honest review from my stand point. I also will give a very honest review of this film. So here are several observations from this film:

1. The percentage of “Christians” in public schools

I appreciate that when they had presented their research and found that 95% of Christian families that they polled said that their children are in public schools, that they did not say that it was 95% of Christians as a whole. They never made the assumption that just because of the thousands of Christians that the polled, that it would indicate that 95% of all the Christians in the nation send their children to the public schools. They know that in order to find a true and accurate percentage you would then need to poll the majority of the 75% of people who claim to be Christians. In their research they also did a good job of narrowing it down to a select group of conservative churches.

2. The presenting of the problem

I also appreciate greatly how Ken Ham goes to present the problem of why we are losing our children. He builds a very strong case, and he tells us plainly what errors are taught in the realm of education. However, when he presents the problem, he doesn’t just assume it is in the public schools that the problem exists. He shows how the problem also exists in youth groups, churches, Sunday school classes, Christian schools, and at home. He understands that there is a deeper problem than just blaming it all on a select group of educators.

3. The answer to the problem

Ken Ham in this film does an excellent job presenting the case that Churches, families, Sunday school teachers, and Pastors need to be teaching the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. They need to do more than just preach about salvation, but also need to teach how Genesis 1-11 is foundational to the rest of the Bible and how we find all the principles that pertain to the Christian life in those first 11 chapters of the Bible. He shows that if we fail to teach Creation as the Bible teaches it, then it under minds the rest of the Bible, and that is a “BIG” reason why we are losing so many from our churches today. He doesn’t try to pit the blame on the public schools, but encourages Churches and Families, that no matter what school a child goes to, that THEY are ultimately responsible for teaching their children what the Bible says about creation, death and suffering, sin, ECT. THEY are responsible for teaching children how to give an answer to the science teacher, be it in a Christian School or Public School, that teaches contrary to the Word of God.

4. The acknowledgment of Christian influence in Public Schools

One of the biggest things that I appreciate about this film is the acknowledgement that Ken Ham makes that there are Christian Teachers and Christian Students who are serving as missionaries to those in the Public School. Some people will throw out the “Salt and Light” argument, and say that Christians need to make a mass exodus from the Public School system as a whole, but this film while it does not urge more Christians to go into the public schools as missionaries, it also does not attack those who have been placed in the Public schools by the leading of God.

Conclusion:

I feel like this film, while it focuses on a very negative topic, does a good job of pointing our eyes to a brighter tomorrow if we get back to the foundation of the Bible. Many families and churches have gotten so off based. The blame can not be put on the public school as a whole, because the truth is, if Churches had been doing their job teaching the Bible as true History, true Science, true biology, and as the true directive for life, rather than constantly under minding it, then we would not find Christianity in the state it is in today.

While over all I think this film gives a lot of great tools for being a testimony, there are still some things that I wish the film would have given more insight to. 1) While it does a good job of telling students that they can get the answers from God’s Word, I still would like to see a film that gives instruction to students on ways they can be able to present those answers in the school. 2) As a former public school teacher himself, I wish Ken Ham would have also address the way that Christian teachers in Public Schools can present a Biblical worldview while still abiding by the set rules.

An Honest Review of the Movie: IndoctriNation

Indoctrination-DVD-3DI have been asked by many of my friends who oppose the Public Education System to watch a movie entitled, “IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America”, and I can honestly say that I have watch the film in its entirety. There were a number of observations that I will make about the film to give an honest review from a youth pastor, public school parent, a substitute teacher, and most importantly a Christian.

1. The difficulty of sharing the Gospel as a teacher.

The movie did do a good job showing that there is difficulty sharing the Gospel as a teacher, but they pushed it so far as to make it seem like a Christian teacher or Principle can have little to no impact on the students in a public school. They make it seem like every public school is going to fire you for speaking about the Lord, grant it there are some areas where this might be true, but the truth be told there are ways to talk about God in the classroom while abiding by the rules of the schools. Some would say that there shouldn’t be rules against talking about God in the first place. But I can tell you that most work places, government or not, do not want you to talk about God when you are supposed to be working. So to separate from public schools for this one reason is hypocritical and unreasonable.

When I worked at McDonald’s during my years at college, I was told from the very beginning, that while I was on the clock I was not to bring up the subject of religion or God. Why? Because I was hired to work not talk about the Lord. Now my co-workers certainly knew that I was a Christian and knew that any time I was not on the clock that they were free to talk to me about Christ.

I can now also speak with authority on the subject of speaking of the Bible and of the Lord in the Public Schools. I am a regular substitute teacher in the Public School Sector. Whenever I enter the class room, I immediately distinguish myself as someone who the students can feel free to talk to about the Bible and about the Lord. I tell them my name is “Aaron McBride, I am a Youth Pastor at a local church and I also do freelance graphic design work”. Pupils know that they can talk to me about the Bible. The only rule given to me as a teacher is this, “you may not initiate a conversation about anything religious, however if a student asks you something about your beliefs or the Bible, you may engage in conversation as long as the student wants to continue the conversation.” I can tell you that I have had entire classrooms interested in my worldview as a Youth Pastor, and have had complete freedom to share Christ in the classroom.

2. The Percentage of “Christians” in the Public Schools

After watching this movie and reading several other sites that speak out against children being educated in something other than a Christian/Home School setting, they have done a good job of making up a statistic. They say that 90% of Christian parents will send their child to public schools, however if you try to find an actual research done to get that percentage it is not to be found. In fact here is what the producer himself said when he was interviewed by The New America.

TNA: You claim that 90 percent of Christian children are enrolled in public schools. How did you arrive at that statistic?

GUNN: It’s hard to pinpoint a precise number. We’ve seen various statistics anywhere from 80 to 90 percent, but the important point is that the vast majority of Christian parents are sending their children there.

The problem with the 90% figure is that they assume that just because a person is a church goer it makes them a Christian. But we all know that there is a big difference between a Practicing Christian and a Professing Christian. If you were to break the percentage down between those two categories you would find that the percentage of actual Practicing Christians in the public school is far less that the 90% would indicate. In the US we have about 75% of the population who claim to be Christian ( Christian being as the media defines it not as the Bible. I do not count the 2% of Mormons in this statistic. If we were to also break down the group of Christians into people who teach salvation as the Bible teaches, the percentage of ‘Christian’ children in the public school would be a lot different from this breakdown.), but of that 75% only 40% of these  claim to go to church on a regular basis and only 20% of those go to church on a weekly basis. So out of the estimated 236.5 million proclaimed “Christian” People in the US only 94.6 million go to church on a regular basis and of that statistic 47.3 million go to church on a weekly basis. If we were to break this down into Christian homes (assuming that these are all 2 parent homes, even though the likely hood is that they are not, it will give us a good ideal of how many American families are practicing true Christianity), there are roughly 47.3 million  families that claim to go to church monthly and 23.6 million of those are active weekly.

In the US there is an average of .90 children per house hold, which if we apply that to our statistics, you would have 42.5 million children active in church on a monthly basis and 21.3 million  of those are active on a weekly basis.  Of the 55.2 million enrolled children in the US 11.1 million are enrolled in schools outside the public schools. Let’s just assume that most of those are people coming from our two breakdowns of Christian families. If the 11.1 million in the other schools come from the larger group, than that would mean 25% of monthly active Christian children are enrolled in a private/charter/home school setting. If it comes from the families that are active weekly in church, the “true Practicing Christians”, than 52% of Practicing Christians are enrolled in private/charter/home school setting (obviously there would be some fluctuation there as we know not all people who go to private school or are home schooled are Christians). So the “facts” found in this film are misleading.

3. Laws that forbid you to speak about God in the Public Schools.

 “Freedom is about raising our children to serve the Lord Jesus… they are forbidden by law to publicly state that Jesus Christ is Lord.” ~ R.C. Sproul, Jr.

Again it is true that there are limits to when and with whom you can talk about God in the public schools. There are laws that are set up to guide when it is appropriate to talk about God, but God can indeed be talked about in the Schools. Students actually have the privilage to talk about God and religion freely according to the law, but teachers are employees of the government and must abide by the guidelines of the law. This does not mean that teachers have to be completely silent though. The Christian Law Association, has given you a good guide for what you can and cannot do as a teacher that can be found HERE.

Students have a lot of right though and if parents and churches will take time to train their strong Christian students what their rights are and how to use those right to tell others about Christ, than I believe we can see a huge change in the lives of the lost seeking for a Savior. You can find a good list of Students’ rights HERE.

4. The learning of objectionable materials

Is it true that there is objectionable materials that are taught in public schools? Yes. Can you opt out of sex education classes and classes that talk about homosexuality? Yes. Can you get permission to opt out of reading materials you would not approve of your children reading? Yes. Is it possible that your child we be told about some of these issues by fellow students? Yes, probably so. Does getting information that you wouldn’t approve of only come from the Public Schools? No.

They make a point in the film that your children will learn things that you would otherwise as a parent never want your child to be exposed to, however unless you live in a cave devoid of any outside influence what so ever your children will be exposed to objectionable materials. I grew up going to Christian Schools and being Home Schooled, but I was exposed to things that my parents would disapprove of regardless of the protection of those types of schooling. It wasn’t because my parents threw me into situations to learn of those negative things, but because I lived and functioned in a “REAL” world, not a make-believe world where everyone was perfect because they were saints borne on the wings of angels to this earth. In a Christian School that was full of only kids from our church, I was exposed to pornography by fellow students, there were people who were found to be doing drugs outside of school, and students who were sexually active. As a home schooled child, there were people I went to church with every week that were home schooled and they would curse, drink, and live in complete disregard for God. So to say that this  happens only in the public school is a misconception.

Just because you child goes to a public school doesn’t mean that they will turn out anti-God and will have a skewed worldview and just because your child goes to a Christian school or is home schooled doesn’t mean they will turn out for God.

Conclusion

Was there some good points in “IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America”? Yes there were some good points. But by in large the film is not as honest as it should be. I would rather have a film that teaches our children how they can be a godly witness in the Public Schools, if that is where the Lord has led their parents to send them. A film that teaches parents of public school students how to prepare their children to take a stand. Lastly I would like to see a film that shows Christian parents, that no matter what school their children goes to, that THEY are responsible for teaching their children about who Jesus Christ is and what it means to have a relationship with Him. THEY are responsible for teaching a Biblical worldview. In this film they assume that the decline of Christianity is to be blamed on public schools, but the real issue isn’t what is taught in the school, it is what is not taught in the home.