Jesus Goes to School

School started this week.  A friend of mine took his son to Kindergarten for the first time on Monday.  The boy was very excited about his first day of school.  He told his father that he was going to play and have fun and learn about Jesus at school.  Sadly, the boy’s dad had to tell him that he would not get to learn about Jesus at school.  When the boy asked why, the dad had to tell him that schools were not allowed to teach about Jesus.  It was a sobering moment in the life of that family.

I am so very proud that my friends have raised their children to know and love Jesus.  As pre-schoolers, their kids were enrolled in Christian daycare and they have always attended Bible classes and worship services regularly.  I have no doubt that they have also worked hard to instill a daily prayer life and Bible reading to their young children.  It is a great blessing to know that these kids are being raised by parents who model and exemplify Christ in their lives.

Unfortunately, God and His Word have been stripped out of our public schools.  We could get into a big conversation about how horrible that is or how that needs to change, but it is what it is.  Sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got.  As such, I want to reiterate how excited I am that my friends have chosen to make Christ the center of their family.  Our kids do not have to learn about Jesus at school.  Yes, it would be wonderful if that were the case.  But, what is more important is that our kids see Christ modeled at home and that we teach our kids the Word of God.

It is very easy to place the blame for our children not following Christ when they grow up on the fact that they were taught neither Bible nor biblical principles in public school.  And, there could certainly be some validity to that statement.  Far more impactful, however, is the emphasis that families place on Christ on a day to day basis.  The greatest teacher that a child will ever know is that of his/her parents. 

It would be a wonderful world if our public schools read from the Bible everyday and if our science classes taught creation rather than evolution.  It would be great if health classes taught about purity in marriage rather than safe sex.  It would be terrific if math classes taught that a tenth of everything we made belonged to God.  But they don’t.  Instead, those lessons are left up to parents.  It is our responsibility to teach our children to be faithful, godly men and women. 

It’s time to step up to the plate.  Satan has worked a masterful plan by taking God out of our schools but I’ve read the end of the Book…God Wins!  Parents, teach your kids the truth.  Read to them and pray with them daily.  May they understand God’s infinite love and may they be followers of Christ because their greatest teachers modeled Him daily…in spite of what the world says.

By the way, when you teach your child about Jesus, He goes to school every day and sits in those classrooms.  The influence of a child who carries Jesus in his/her heart is far reaching.  Teach your children to walk to each class hand in hand with Christ and the Word of God will be spread despite the laws of our government!

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.—Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NIV

 

Train a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it.
—Proverbs 22:6 NIV

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Dead Yet Alive

I am currently reading The Circle Series by Ted Dekker.  I highly recommend this most excellent series of Christian fiction.  Dekker paints a beautiful word picture of what takes place though baptism. (I promise to not divulge too much of the story line.)

The story is told of two tribes of people: Desert Dwellers (or the Horde) who follow the ways of the world, and the Forest People who follow the ways of Elyon (God).  The Horde have smelly, flaky, diseased skin and are afraid of water.  The Forest People have good skin and bathe every day in Elyon’s water so that they do not become like the Horde.  If the Forest People go a day without bathing, then their skin begins to crack and become pasty white.  If they go too long without bathing, they will lose their mind and become like the Horde. 

When the Horde kills the Christ-figure (ahh, I’m not going to tell you who that is) by drowning him in the lake, the water turns red and no longer cleanses the Forest People.  The Forest People then begin to think like the Horde and their skin becomes diseased like the Horde.  The two tribes blend their customs and start to co-exist. 

The main character of the story, Thomas, realizes that in order to be free from the disease, he must die in the same manner as the Christ-figure.  He dives into the blood-stained lake and breathes deep the red water.  He dies in that water but he then is given life and comes out of the water a new creature, one who will never again feel the effects of the disease.

What amazing symbolism!  When one breathes water into the lungs it causes drowning.  However, the word breath comes from the Greek word “pneuma” which means spirit.  When Thomas breathed the water, he died to the life that he had always known.  However, in the same instant, he breathed the spirit of God into his lungs which brought him new life – a life that was free from the disease which is sin.

When we realize that we must follow Christ even into His death and we enter the waters of baptism, we literally die to the sins of this world.  We are raised out of those waters new creatures – each who is free from the disease of this world.  We have breathed in the spirit of God and it now resides in us forever!  What a wonderful gift we have been given through the death of Christ!

 “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:3-4 NIV)

This Little Light of Mine

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…”  Everyone knows that these lyrics belong to one of the most loved children’s songs, but have you really thought about the words?  They have great significance in the life of a Christian.  In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:16 NIV)  God intends for us to be light in a world of darkness.  Everywhere we go, whether it be the grocery store, school, the movie theater or a car lot, our light should shine for Christ.  People all around us are watching our actions.  When we live our lives as Christ has called us, we are noticed and Christ is glorified.

Another verse of this song states, “Don’t let Satan blow it out…”  Satan is always there and he is watching and waiting to strike.  One of Satan’s best weapons is discouragement.  He will do his very best to wear us down.  As we are out sharing the gospel of Christ, not everyone is receptive and sometimes it is even dangerous depending on where we are in the world.  Satan will use every tool that he has to discourage us so that we will give up spreading the good news of Christ.  Over and over in the New Testament, Paul was persecuted and imprisoned for spreading the Gospel but he continually overcame Satan’s hurdles and continued to preach and to encourage others.

A final thought:  Paul said, “…do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord…” (2 Tim 1:8 NIV)  “Hide it under a bushel?  NO!  I’m gonna let it shine, all the time, let it shine!”

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The Weak Things

For seven years, the Lord God handed the people of Israel over to the Midianites.  When the Israelites finally cried out to the Lord, he sent to them a prophet named Gideon.  Gideon was from the weakest clan in Manasseh and he was the least in his family.  Still, the Lord chose Gideon to save His people from their oppressors. 

Although Gideon began with an army of 32,000 men, God filtered that number down to just three hundred men; less than one percent of the original army.  When Gideon scouted the Midianite camp, he found that the people (Midianites, Amalekites, and others) were as thick as locusts.  However, God showed his might through the small Israelite army.  When the trumpets sounded and the people shouted, the entire Midianite army fled.  Over 120,000 soldiers fell at the hands of Israel that day.  (Judges 6-8)

It’s easy to get wrapped up in numbers. We want the largest church attendance, the biggest Bible classes, the most small groups.  We forget that God works through the small things.  The old adage goes, “It’s not the quantity, but the quality.”  With God, that is a very true statement.  God wants our hearts.  He is not concerned with the multitude of people that swarm your building on a special event weekend.  God desires the single household who will devote themselves to His service.  God desires the small group who dedicate themselves to serving the needy.  God desires the few who will stand up for the cross of Christ in the face of adversity rather than the hordes who call on His name only in times of distress.

God can do amazing things through the smallest gathering of people.  Gideon faced thousands upon thousands with just three hundred men.  He did it through the hand of God.  May we remember that God works through those who devote themselves to Him and victory comes to those who earnestly seek Him.  He empowers the weak to be strong through Him.

“God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29 NIV)