When a Child Connects the Dots

maxresdefaultWe recently took a vacation trip to Kentucky to visit several sights. We had an enjoyable time with my wife’s side of the family and enjoyed some incredible places. We adventured to the Cincinnati Zoo, the Newport Aquarium, the Creation Museum, and the Ark Encounter. The youngest children enjoyed the zoo and aquarium the most, and Aric and Alex enjoyed the Ark the most.

We as a family have been to the Creation Museum several times, the earliest being when Aric and Alex were 1 & 2, but this time as we went, they have gained a little more grasp and understanding on what the Museum was all about. Their favorite things to see were the dinosaur fossils, planetarium, and the insectitorium (there were some pretty cool bugs in there too.) After watching the planetarium presentation about just how amazing our universe is, it was fun listening to Aric and Alex talk about the things that they learned and saw and how God had created it all.

The following day we made our way to the Ark Encounter, a full scale replica of Noah’s Ark. This is where I could see the dots begin to connect in Aric’s mind. We had spent a good amount of time on the ark. It is an incredible museum that really brought the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark to life. There were three stories of artifacts and displays.

The bottom story mainly had examples of what the “kinds” of animals may have looked like, how Noah would have been able to fit all the “kinds” animals into the ark, and scaled model of what the layout of the rooms in the ark may have looked like.

The second story had some more animal examples, a video, and some other articles. We took a break before heading back to the last floor on the ark.

On the third floor, we came to two section that just fascinated Aric. One was a section of fossils and the second was a section about the ice age. Aric had studied about fossils this year in school, so because of that, he started reading a creation science approach about how fossils were formed. After reading it he turned around and told me “this makes much more sense then fossils being ‘millions’ of years old”, he wanted to stay and continue to read about fossils, but the rest of the family had moved on to the next section. The next section we came to talked about the ice age. It compared the creation science ideal of a single short ice age to that of the evolutionary ideal of many long ice ages, the ice age was another subject they had studied about in school. The dot was connected here when he was reading the story of “The Lost Squadron of WWII” and how a 2 B-17 bombers were buried in 250 ft of ice in less than 40 years and how that presents a problem for the ideal of slow ice ages that lasted hundreds of thousands or millions of years. Finally when we got done with our whole tour of the Ark, Aric piped up and said, “boy all this stuff we looked at today was great and makes me know the Bible is true. I know the flood really happened and it is clear to see.”

I loved seeing all this working in Aric’s and Alex’s minds and them learning to connect the dots of science and the Bible. They are learning to listen with discretion and look at things through Biblical glasses and know that science absolutely fits with the Bible without having to believe in millions of years.

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Guest Post: America’s Greatest Mission Field

In the fall of 2016, it was reported by the National Center for Education Statistics that approximately 50.4 million students attended public elementary and secondary schools.  About 35.4 million were in prekindergarten through the eighth grade, and 15 million ninth through twelfth graders (https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372).  This is astounding because it’s about 16% of the United States’ population.  In fact, if you were to start a brand new country with those students it would rank in the top 30 most populated countries in the world.  It is my firm belief this is the greatest mission field in the United States of America.

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Why I Have a Passion for Public Schools

I know it has been a few weeks since I have posted. I thought that I was going to be able to spend some extra time during Fall Break to write future articles, but that didn’t happen. Then I started writing this article last week, had completely typed out what I thought I wanted to say, only to realize it really wasn’t what God wanted me to say or how He wanted me to say it. So, now, here are my thought on the passion I have gained for public schools.

At a very early age I felt like God had set me apart to do some kind of work in the realm of missions. In fact you may or may not know that my wife and I had planned on being missionaries in Newfoundland, Canada. We were trying to raise funds for nearly a year, before the Lord gave us a sudden change of direction. When the Lord brought that change it was a good thing. It was a time that God needed to teach us some very important lessons. I became the youth pastor of a church in South Carolina and it was there that I first began to have some real interaction with Public School students. The youth group I started to lead was largely made up of students who went to the public schools, the breakdown was something like 30/10 public to Christian school teens. Most of these teens were in homes of families who came to church with them, with a few who came with friends. But this youth group was a lot different that any of the youth groups in which I attended as a teen. The youth groups I had been in had always been the opposite, 90% of the kids I grew up with were in some sort of Christian education. While the breakdown was a lot different from what I knew, the teens weren’t any different than what I had seen in my own youth groups. They were teens who were seeking direction, seeking identity, and seeking for God.

Those were the starting years of my life in ministry. Even though it has been almost 4 years since I have left that ministry, I still keep up with many of the youth who were in that group. I am proud to see many of them going on to serve the Lord, some are pursuing ministry, others are looking at the medical field or other careers, and others still may not be sure what God wants them to do, but it thrills my heart to see many of them still serving the Lord with their whole heart. My heart for public schools started with this youth group and has continued since. Now just so you don’t get the wrong picture,  this doesn’t mean that I like public school kids any more than the Christian/ Home School kids, I just have gained a heartbeat for helping those in the public schools.

Since leaving South Carolina and moving to Georgia, the Lord has really multiplied that burden more for the public schools. When coming to the church we currently serve at, I knew that I would have to become a bi-vocational youth pastor. I didn’t know what kind of job I would be able to get. I applied at a bunch of different places, but made it clear that I wouldn’t be available most weekends or on Wednesday nights, after all a youth pastors busiest times is on the weekends, and I certainly didn’t want to miss teaching the teens on Wednesdays. This didn’t make for a lot of job opportunities. Then someone mentioned I ought to consider substitute teaching for the local public schools. So I took the class, had my background check run, and got onto the substitute list. Once my name was approved and teachers knew I would be available to teach, the phone started ringing and I started substituting a few days every week. Now I have been substituting for 3 years.

My heart for missions work has never died. I didn’t know exactly why the Lord gave me such a heart for missions if He wasn’t going to let us go to a foreign mission field, but after 3 years of substitute teaching, I have finally found the mission field God has been preparing for me. The Lord can do amazing things in the public schools and to many times Christians distance themselves from this establishment. No doubt this education system is not right for every Christian child. Some would say it isn’t fit for any Christian, period, but is a school any worse than the rest of the world system children are exposed to through living life every day?

It takes special people, both teachers and children, to be called into this vast mission field, just as it takes a special calling for someone to board a plane and fly half way around the world to reach a people whose language they don’t speak, and whose culture is completely foreign to them. But God still calls them. Is there dangers within the walls of a public school? Yes, no doubt there is, just as there are dangers that lurk on every corner of life. This is the reason why we must seek God’s face for grace and guidance every day. Just because a Christian child is raised in a Christian home, doing Christian schooling, and attending a Christian church does not mean that they are exempt from falling away from the principles taught in your home. Just because a Christian child is taught in a public school, is faced with the difficulties there, and will have their faith challenged does not make them a sure candidate to fail as a child of God. This issue is not as black and white as some would like to make it seem. In a perfect world all Christian children would never stray, especially those who were brought up with all things “Christian”, but we live in a fallen world, a world where good families see their children choose by their own free will to reject God. These were homes that tried to give direction, cared about the discipline of their children, and cared about the spiritual well-being of their children.

Imagine the millions of children who face life with no direction, with no one who cares about their discipline, about their spiritual well-being. This is a large majority of children who attend the public school. No one to love them, screaming for attention, yet Christians want to stay away from them. Let them rot, let them die, let them spend a Christ-less eternity in Hell, because of how wicked the school system is. Do we tell missionaries not to go to dangerous countries? Do we stop missionaries and say, “Don’t you know how wicked that country is? Don’t go to that country because their government is evil! Don’t go to this country because your children will be exposed to things that aren’t Biblical! They might be influenced by that country and those people!”? NO! But we will tell a Christian they are in sin for sending their child to a public school. We might even tell an adult that they are in sin for teaching in one of those “God forsaken” schools. But the only reason they are “God forsaken” is because Christians have abandoned them, Christians have shunned them, Christians have put them on the “leprosy” list and cry “DON’T TOUCH THEM! DON’T GO NEAR THEM! UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN!”. But last I checked in my Bible, Christ came to heal the lepers, and He called us to be like Him.

Some would say the best way to reach those in the public schools is by driving church buses and picking them up from their homes, finding them on visitation, and inviting them to church. These are great methods! But how many millions fall through the cracks of this strategy? Who will invite them if no Christians are called to reach them in the school halls? Who will be the Light to them, if we snub every Christian child and teacher out of the system? No one! But thank the Lord not every Christian has bought into the lie that Christians do not have a place in the public schools. Thank God that there are Christian students and teachers who still have an open door to win others to Christ and who have answered the call to be missionaries to this great mission field. Thank the Lord that he still gives youth pastors, like myself, the opportunity to not only substitute teach in the school, but to also be able to teach Bible classes in the school on a regular basis. Thank the Lord that He still has people preaching His Word and the free gift of salvation through programs like the FCA and Children’s Bible Clubs. God said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14). Praise God for his love for these children, and for those who He has and who He will raise up to continue to be that shining Light into the Public schools.

The doors of opportunity are closing quickly on being able to get the Gospel in the public school systems. Christians should flood those doors as much as possible before the doors completely shut.

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?

Recommended Reading

The night before I took Aric to his first day of school I posted on my Facebook account this statement, “So tomorrow marks the first day of Aric’s life at school. We have chosen to send him to our local public school. Some may think that this is a mistake, but in the end I answer to the Lord, and He has clearly guided us to this choice. I am looking forward to not only the impact that Aric can make at his school, but also the godly impact that we can make as parents.”

When we considered sending Aric to a Public School, there were some very well-meaning people who told us that we were making a mistake for sending him to a Government Institution. While it may be someone’s conviction that they would not send their children to a public school, to say it is a wrong choice for another parent is to cross a line that is not yours to cross. My wife and I have been convinced by the Lord, that at this time in our children’s lives, that the public school is what the Lord has set for our children to be a part of.

I am the kind of person that get’s easily excited or nervous, or both, and when I do so I have trouble either falling asleep, staying asleep or both. The night before Aric’s first day of School, I had trouble falling asleep. The morning of Aric’s first day of school I had trouble staying asleep, in fact I woke up at 5:30am and couldn’t get back to sleep. So I checked my FB, and saw I had received a message from a friend of mine with whom I went to college. He had sent me an encouraging note, and an article on why he has chosen to put his children into public school.

You can read his article here: http://baptistcitizen.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/we-put-our-children-in-the-public-school/

It is a longer article, but if you take an opportunity I believe you will be blessed. When you take opportunity to read it, leave your comments below.

Our First Day of School

DSC_0502Boy, today was a hard day. Today we saw our oldest child start school! We are going to be able to walk him to his classroom for the first week, but after that he will have to learn to find the classroom himself. The rest of the week should be a lot easier that the first day though. But let me give you 4 practical tips for helping cope with your first child starting school (outside of the home).

1. It’s okay to cry

Am I talking about you crying or your child crying? YES! Both, it’s okay. Now I was surprised that Aric didn’t put up much of a fuss when he got to his classroom. He went straight to his chair, sat down and started coloring and didn’t even seem to care that we were gone. But as I passed by other classrooms I could hear kids crying all over the place. After we left the school and got into the car, I saw that Renee was clearly upset that our baby boy started school. But hey it is okay to cry, you will eventually feel better about them going to school.

2. Keep yourself busy

After hopping into the car, comforting the wife, and looking over the items the school could use as donations for the classroom, it was time to keep ourselves busy. We treated ourselves out to breakfast at McDonald’s and then drove on over to Wal-mart and Dollar Tree to get some of the items on the donation list. After picking up those items, we swung back by the school and dropped them off to an ecstatic office staff, as most of the time it takes them weeks to get any donations. This made us feel good about our child being there.

3. Plan on being involved at the school

One of the things we have already been talking about for weeks, was the fact that we wanted to be heavily involved in our sons school. We talked about ways we can get involved, so that teachers can get to know us, we can get to know them, and we can see how our child interacts with their teacher and classmates. Contrary to popular belief, public schools DO want you as parents involved! So start planning on getting involved and it will help ease that realization that this was the first day of school.

4. Think about what questions you are going to ask your child when you pick him/her up

Start thinking about the questions you want to ask your child when you go to pick him/her up. Grant it, most of the time a kindergartener isn’t really going to have a whole lot to tell you from the first day of class. But here are some good questions to think about: What did you eat? What did you learn? Do you remember the name of your teacher? Did you have fun? Did you play on the playground? What did you play on the playground? Do you remember the name of the children who sit beside you? ECT.

What tips do you have for making the first day easier?

The Purpose of My Blog

As a Christian parent and Youth Pastor, I only want what is best for my children when it comes to education. Some would question this for the simple reason of my decision to allow my child to go to a Public Education Institute. It is your right to judge me on that if you wish, however my wife and I have spent much time seeking the Lord’s direction, when it comes to the education of our children, and I will give an account to Him and not you when it comes to how my children have been educated.

I do not believe that the road of education that we have chose for our children is the road that every parent will feel led to go, nor do I believe that every child has been given the ability to thrive in a Public School setting, and that is why it is so very important to seek God’s face when it comes to choosing what type of education your children will receive.

We live in a world where fellow Christians will criticize and self-righteously proclaim that sending a child to a public school is sin or unwise, but I believe that there needs to be a voice of reason and a voice of encouragement to those of us who have been lead by the Lord to educate our children through our local public schools.

My hope is that this blog will be a place of sharing advice and encouragement with fellow Christian Parents with public school children. Just because I am speaking from the platform of Children in Public School, doesn’t mean that any advice shared here will be exclusively for Public Education children, but can be practical advice for all platforms of education. I hope you will follow and chime in!