There is no finality to the Christian LIfe this side of eternity. Leonard Ravenhill

Monday, March 28, 2011

Homeschool Convention Mania

Spring is here. We have already had several thunderstorms. Some of our trees are beginning to bud and the birds are singing joyously outside my window. Although the past week has been unusually cold, I'm sure that spring has arrived, and I am glad that it has.

Homeschool convention season is also here. Homeschool conferences are beginning to happen all across the country and will be for the next few months. This is a good thing, for these meetings can be a great blessing. I well remember the first convention I went to over a decade ago. One of the keynote speakers was Richard "Little Bear" Wheeler. He was a lot of fun, some of you probably remember his messages. Over the years at different venues I have been able to hear many wonderful messages from many different speakers.

But while I have enjoyed these many conventions, I am somewhat concerned with some of the trends within the movement. Some of our "Greatest Show On Earth" style conferences are rather disappointing to me. When a homeschool convention is held it should not be akin to the circus coming to town. We should be less concerned with entertainment and more focused on challenging and exhorting those who have come. These are homeschool conventions not comedy clubs. What is even worse these conventions show up and after a weekend are gone. No support, no help, no lasting encouragement.

Another concern that I have is the softening of our Christian witness. These conventions should be devoted to providing consistent Biblical worldview training to the conference attendees. But sadly some conventions have chosen to deliberately invite those who do not profess Christianity, or those who clearly teach heterodoxy. This is wrong. The homeschool movement cannot and must not forsake a solid Biblical foundation. If we remove our foundation, you can be sure the entire structure will crumble.

If this "open mindedness" is done in the name of relevance we must think again. We do not become germane to a society by becoming like it. We are not called to be like the world to win the world. The Lord Jesus should be the only attraction, if He is not, I am afraid in most cases we will only be creating false converts.

Let me be perfectly clear I am not excited about the pagan homeschool movement, the Islamic homeschool movement or any other secular education movement. The answer is not homeschooling, the answer is Jesus Christ. We do not need more homeschoolers in general, this will only boost statistics. What we need are Christian families operating with a Biblical worldview to begin taking captive every aspect of their lives, from education to church roles and everything in between. Home education is not just a fun option its a worldview issue.

Another concern I have is when these conventions appear to be nothing more than a source of income. Bringing in thousands, attracting them with what they want, and garnering a lot of money. This is sad to me. I would rather have conventions much smaller and more focused on what matters. We should be less concerned with numbers and more concerned with faithfulness.

Things like the vendor hall are good, the products can be good, but don't buy like a consumer, buy like a connoisseur. Be careful and picky, and Biblically critical of products. Just because a book is at a home school convention does not not mean that it is good. Just because a curriculum is written by a professing Christian doesn't make it Biblical. To borrow a Ken Ham illustration, we need to put on our "Biblical glasses" and look at all that is around us through these lenses.

The Christian Home Education movement is very important to me. I was pulled out of school after the third grade by my newly saved parents, and was home schooled through graduation. To me homeschooling is not optional, its really mandatory. Education is not neutral, and it is first and foremost a parents duty, not the schools, not the churches.

I am excited about the future. I know their are those who are fighting for truth within our ranks. The Christian homeschool movement must hold fast to that which is good. We must not become a worthless, spineless group that has no standard. Truth is unchanging and we must hold to it with all that we have. It is my prayer that this movement will be careful to bring God glory and honor, not disdain. Let us not be concerned with filling chairs and our wallets, lets fill men and women with the Bread of Life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Monumental Mundane Moments of Life

Life is made up of seemingly little choices. The decisions that one daily makes create the environment of ones soul. When someone faces a terrifying situation they do not act bravely on account of impulse, but because of previous, individual, calculated responses. Courage is not born on the bloody battlefield, but in the little mundane moments of life. One does not speak with truth in business, if he has not daily lived honestly. If one is not kind to those closest to him, how could he ever love his enemy? If one does not speak kindly and gently to those in his own house, he will respond harshly when defending his faith. Just as the woodcarver creates a masterpiece cut by cut; so every man and woman becomes a a specimen of good character shave by shave, in the workshop of every day life. We become faithful in the little things and then are commissioned with greater things.

I love to read the stories of men and women who did heroic deeds. Those who went out on a limb, to do a  daring but noble task. But what we must understand is that instead of always seeking the big and glamorous tasks, we find that in God's economy, faithfulness in the details of life is of the utmost importance. You don't have to go to Africa to get closer to God, He is where you are. He looks at your faithfulness at home in your family, just as much as any missionary endeavor. We have romanticised the adventure aspect to the extent that some believe they are not fulfilling God's will if they are not traipsing through the jungle. But do not forget God's will is not so much about location or vocation, but sanctification, that is Godly character.(1 Thes. 4:3)

I do believe that we need to restore the lost dimension of heroism to our Christian experience and vocabulary. Bravery and courage, valor and chivalry need to be recovered and given their lofty position once again. They need to become a vital component of our being. But something that we need to realize is that acting with faithfulness in the common is the ultimate example of heroism. Fathers and mothers fulfilling their God given parental duties is heroic. Husbands and wives living a Godly marriage is heroic. Sons and daughters fulfilling filial duties is heroic. Brothers and sisters living in kindness and respect is heroic.

Make right choices in your everyday life. Do the hard things right in your home. Be faithful in the little things and you will be given more things to do. Do not neglect the common things for the daring enterprises. The supposed dull, common-place aspects of life are the most important. Don't seek the spotlight, just be faithful.

The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 illustrates this well. In this story the master gives his servants talents, or money. He gave to them in accordance with what they were capable of handling. Of course two act wisely and honor their Lord with their deeds, but one acts dreadfully foolish. When the master returns he commends those who acted wisely, but he sternly rebukes the lazy one. Here in this parable we are clearly being instructed to be faithful in the tasks that we are given. The problem with many of us though is that we are always seeking out something to do, completely forgetting the work to be done right around us, in our homes, in our hearts.

Their is an old adage that says, "Battles are won on the drill-field not the battlefield." The wisdom of this sage statement is obvious. If an army goes to war but it is untrained, undisciplined, and unorganized they will fail on the field of battle. The fight will be chaotic and confusing, resulting in complete decimation. But if an army goes into the fight well-trained, disciplined, and organized they will be a formidable foe. Preparation makes all the difference.

Be faithful in the little things. Life is in the details. God is surrounding you with chisels, don't stop them from chipping away at you. Let the circumstances around you carve you into that good specimen of character. Don't neglect the so-called mundane aspects of your days. Embrace them for they truly are the stuff of life.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

No White Flags Allowed

"Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks." Phillips Brooks

One of the most fascinating lives of the English Reformation saga, is the tale of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. While controversy and sometimes grave mistakes characterize this man's life, I believe he is a giant of Christian history. Primarily because his life was defined by humanness and even weakness. Sometimes we can look at the leaders of Christian history and naively believe that they were perfect, but they were not. They too were fallen sons of Adam just like you and me.

Cranmer was Archbishop when Queen Mary(better known as Bloody Mary) came to the throne. Of course his staunchly anti-Catholic stance put him at odds with the pro-Catholic monarch. To make a long story short, Cranmer was condemned to die because of his beliefs. The Queen and her henchmen set about trying to draw a recantation out of Thomas. Unfortunately Cranmer signed the papers. But because he was a reformation ringleader, repentance or not the authorities were going to make an example out of him. Although he had complied with their wishes they decided to still burn him.

It was 1556 and a heretical Catholic preacher was proclaiming Cranmer's conversion, just before Cranmer would die. After this sordid address Cranmer was asked to publicly profess his conversion. The good Archbishop rose to his feet and spoke to the crowd that had gathered for the days events. After a brief exhortation, Cranmer boldly proclaimed that he had been wrong, he said that he should never have submitted to their vain pleadings, all to his executors surprise. He was then rushed to the stake and the fire was lit. Cranmer reached his right hand out into the flames saying, "This unworthy right hand." This was the hand that had signed his recantation. And so died a flawed but noble man.

I was recently reading an article that spoke of the growing recalcitrance of Christian young people to engage in spiritual battle. The author relates what one blogger thought, "Young evangelicals are tired of the culture wars... we're ready to make peace." She also adds, "The world is changing and we are changing with it."

I think she is right this is characteristic of churched young people today. But while she views this as a good thing, I see it as a negative thing. It is easy to become indifferent and dangerously passive, letting things go unchallenged because we desire peace. We don't like bold confrontation and opposition. We have an incongruous idea that we will somehow make a difference by conforming. But this wont work. Blood and sweat, bruises and cuts are the ingredients of the Christian life.

A Christian can never ever lay down his or her sword. In the words of General Douglas MacArthur, "Their is no substitute for victory." Surrender is not an option, for when you surrender you are agreeing to play by their rules. When the world comes and demands that you submit to their every whim, you must draw your sword and stand your ground. Do not be intimidated by their arguments for in the power of Christ we are more than conqueror's. Do not depend on your own impotent power, but trust the One who can give you strength to overcome all obstacles.

The account of David and Goliath is a prime example of being strong in the Lord's power and not your own. When David rode into the camp that fateful day and perceived the precarious situation the armies of Israel were in, he wanted to act. But he was accused by his brother of being a nosey, impudent little boy. In haughty tones he ridiculed David saying, "Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle."(1 Samuel 17:28) Notice how Eliab, David's oldest brother, mocks him, accuses him and belittles him. He tries to make David feel bad and feel helpless, but thankfully it didn't work.

Interestingly Israel was playing by the rules given to them by their enemy. They let the pagan Goliath set the terms of engagement. Of course we all know the rest of the story. Later in the day David faces Goliath and overcomes him. But how? I think it is important to remember that David perceived Goliaths brazen stand as a direct assault against God's Holy name. He refused to allow this onslaught to continue and chose to fight. David had no concerns whatsoever about the apparent disadvantage that he had. David knew that height and strength, and even a proven history as a champion, were weak credentials compared to his. Ironically David viewed Goliath as the one with the handicap. For when he looked at Goliath in all of his ominous grandeur, he remembered that behind him was a big God, far bigger  than any giant.

The application for us is great. Just as Eliab mocked, so the world around us will mock, but do not be dismayed. Press on! When the tasks before you appear impossible, press on! Remember Romans 8, a life lived in the Spirits power results in overwhelming victory over the enemy. Without Christ you are powerless, but Jesus said that He would always be with us.

So don't give up. Don't lay your sword down. Be assured the gates of hell will not prevail against the church of God. "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." (1 Corinthians 16:13)