Saturday, November 20, 2010

Is Homeschooling Still An Option In My District?

The superintendent of schools for Poudre School District (where my family lives) recently sent us a large packet of material in the mail, explaining all of the educational choices that our family has in our district. Curiously, though I looked at every paragraph of the ten-page glossy brochure, plus the three loose pages that were included, there was not one mention of homeschooling as an option in our district. I decided to write and send the following letter.

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Dear Dr. Wilson,

While I appreciate your attempt to inform me of my educational options in the Poudre School District through your recent mailing of “Educational Choices”, I note that you left off one very important option – homeschooling. While it is true that this option requires very little of your staff or time, I think it should be made a visible option to those parents who are considering both the education and the maturation of their children.

Our family is now in our seventh year of homeschooling. It has been the single best decision that we have ever made as a family. Our children continue to amaze and bless us with their growth and leadership – both academically and emotionally. While we sent them to public schools for the first six years of their academic journey, we eventually decided to keep them at home and educate them ourselves.

I humbly ask that you consider the following reasons why homeschooling should be on your list of options for parents in our district to consider:

1) Academics – while this is actually not the main reason that we homeschool our children, I recognize that academic achievement is the first and foremost goal pursued by PSD. Our children have enjoyed a three-to-one student-to-teacher ratio for some time now. As I get more involved with the higher subjects along with my wife’s daily teaching duties, this ratio is approaching three-to-two. You simply can’t argue with the results and efficiency of what is essentially a private tutor – and one who is emotionally invested in the children for the long run. Though we add many non-traditional subjects to our class list – such as Bible, Scripture memorization, and Biblical manhood/womanhood courses – our children still score in the ninetieth percentiles on the standardized tests for math, science, reading, etc. Per district requirements, these tests are administered every other year. Our oldest daughter is now taking college credit courses as a high-school junior and is achieving the highest grades in the class. You may be aware of the National Home Education Research Institute’s study showing that homeschooled students score a composite 87th percentile on standardized achievement exams, compared with 50th percentile for public-schooled students (see the graph above).

2) Maturing – our primary purpose for homeschooling is to give a very specific focus to education – one seasoned with the spiritual beliefs shared by our family. Our Christian faith is important to us, but it is unfortunately not allowed to be taught in the public school setting, so we choose to spend time doing so in our living room. Each day begins with Bible reading, Scripture memorization, and Christian topical discussion. Our children can quote whole chapters of the Bible, but more importantly, they can apply what they read and memorize to situations that they encounter each day. This is the single most important reason that we choose to educate in our home. I know many good and faithful public school teachers who would love to lend aid and wisdom to their classes using their Christian faith, but they are unfortunately not allowed to do so. I find it curious that our society accepts this model as more “correct” than a simple sharing of faith and truth. If we were to speak in a completely candid fashion, you and I both know that “political correctness” and “religious tolerance” are the reasons that our public schools have arrived at this state. Our founding fathers would be appalled.

3) Miscellaneous Benefits – There are so many other reasons that district parents might want to consider homeschooling as an option. As parents, we have been able to spend literally thousands of additional hours with each child before they leave the home. This has cost our family many dollars – both in a lost second income for the family and in the expense of home teaching materials – but we would not trade the outcome for any amount of money. Additionally, we like to start school a little early each year, and we rarely take school holidays off in our homeschool so that we may vacation in the fall. You would be amazed at how empty Disneyland and other resorts are in October. We’ve had some of the best vacations we could ever imagine because of this option. Finally, we have met some wonderfully mature children in the various homeschool programs and circles which are available. Our family has been blessed by these interactions.

I respectfully ask that you consider placing a paragraph about homeschooling in your next “Educational Choices” issue. In addition, I would like to volunteer myself and my wife to be “consultants” for the district if you would like to have someone to contact parents who are considering the homeschooling option. Homeschooling has blessed our family richly – and we would like to share this discovery with others.

Respectfully yours,

Alan Metzger

Saturday, November 6, 2010

No Time For Compromise

The mid-term elections are over. The result has pretty much been declared a total victory for Republicans and a repudiation of Democrats. But if you’ve read my posts over the last couple of years, you know that the terms Republican or Democrat mean very little to me. Let’s face it – the previous Republican administrations are just as responsible for overspending and for underwhelming important social issues as is the current Obama staff. On matters which I consider far more important than economic policy – abortion, for example – the Bush administration did nothing to help overturn this grievous and sinful law. A quick glance at my Facebook profile has always shown that I list myself as neither Republican nor Democrat, but as “pro-life”. I would support a politician of any party, regardless of his economics, if I truly felt that he or she would make a run at overturning Roe v. Wade.

I could dwell on the fact that our country elected a president two years ago who claimed to be post-partisan – the majority thought that he would be a uniter and would rise above petty politics. As I predicted, he has been exactly the opposite – polarizing the nation even more than his predecessor and driving his own personal agenda without apology. I could also comment at length on my belief that most politicians who find themselves winning their election will abandon the strong anti-tax, anti-spending and anti-abortion positions which they once took in order to get elected. Their campaign promises will be the very definition of the term rhetoric – “the undue use of exaggeration or display; bombast; the art of influencing the thought and conduct of an audience”.

So, I find it very interesting that the buzzword in the headlines this week has been “compromise”. Will Obama compromise with the new Republican-controlled house? Will the Tea Party learn to compromise with the establishment in Washington in order to “get something done”. I heard one Colorado state legislature leader say that it will be important for the new members coming in to learn the art of compromise in order to succeed.

And this is exactly where I differ with most people on the topic of politics and Christian principles. I am not interested in compromising on topics which I consider inviolable. I will support leaders who go after Roe v. Wade with everything they have. For me, that law is the major reason why God would remove his blessing from our nation. God shows His unwillingness to compromise on issues in Revelation chapter 2, when Jesus tells the church at Ephesus in verse 5, “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” All of this took place because they had forsaken their first love (verse 4). Could God actually consider removing His blessing from this nation? Has He already?

At times such as this, I am not looking for compromise. Some would say that “compromise is for losers” – there is an element of truth in that. Compromise is something you seek when you finally realize that you might not get your absolute wish – just as the Democrats are feeling this week. And yet they will hope to maintain a foothold on their gains by claiming that others are suddenly intolerant or unwilling to compromise. I would point out to them that they were the intolerant ones over the last two years.

For me, the Christian attitude which I choose to adopt is found in Jesus’ own words in Matthew 10:34-36 – “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household’”. I don’t believe that, as a committed Christian, I should be a flower-carrying, peace-loving bringer of hugs and warm feelings to those who oppose godly principles. We are in a spiritual battle of epic proportions (Ephesians 6:12). Furthermore, my wife and I are teaching our children to see this battle and pursue it with directness. While we are to remain respectful of others, and we promote the idea of educated discussion, it is our desire to see God’s will done above all else. And sometimes that means that compromise is out of the question.

I will think of this every time I see the word “compromise” over the next two years. Today we fight!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why I Don’t Do Halloween

Here I go again – possibly raining on people’s parade. But as before, I feel compelled to stand for something in which I believe strongly – and for something to which God has opened my eyes.

I was out with my son at a fast-food restaurant earlier this week. The place was decorated with leering pumpkins, spider webs, and ghoulish faces. After a few minutes of sitting amongst all of this, Noah looked at me and said, “I can’t wait until Halloween is over.”

Remember, this comes from a thirteen-year old. But he, like me, is genuinely fearful of this season. It wasn’t always this way for us. I grew up enjoying Halloween, thinking it was about the candy and not much else. Early on, my kids enjoyed it as well. But about four years ago, our eyes were suddenly opened in a remarkable way to the evil associated with this holiday (see a previous post). I don’t care what others may think – it is not harmless, and it is not all in good fun. It’s a dabbling in evil.

Our society makes fun of death at this time of year – but God tells us, “All who hate me love death” (Proverbs 8:36), and that God’s real desire is that “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Death was not God’s plan, and it should not be toyed with or taken lightly. Rather, death is the result of sin (Romans 5:12).

We see people dressed as witches and demons. Does it bother us? It bothers me greatly. From Ephesians 6:12 – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Is it harmless? Consider this – King Saul was put to death by God because he dabbled in spiritual hypocrisy by visiting the witch of Endor (1 Chronicles 10:13-14). Of all the wrong things that Saul did in his life, it was this event that was mentioned on his “tombstone” in Chronicles. Do we think that playing at witchcraft or related topics are just good fun? We should think again. God has made his position on this clear.

I know – it may seem crazy that some of us see this holiday as evil. It would be easy to view it as simply dressing up in a fun costume, or to say that it invokes a spirit of generosity when neighbors hand out candy to kids. But I think there is a deeper theme running on this subject. Is this world completely separated from the spirit world – where we can play with “spiritual” activities in isolation? Again, consult the verse above from Ephesians 6:12. If our struggle – in this life – is against the powers of the dark world, then that means it is here and now. The spiritual world crosses over into our existence today. A big part of the spirit world is evil and belongs to Satan. Is it such a stretch to think that Satan might be using this holiday as a tool to tempt parents and children into believing that we can make light of death and witchcraft and demons? I beg others to consider this.

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)

As always, I write these things not to offend or point a finger of blame. During my college years, I did some things at Halloween that those who know me would not believe. I’m not proud of that. But God, in His infinite grace and wisdom, has led me to this point. Consider carefully your ways.

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In the same vein, here’s a good post I was led to – “While you are trick or treating, a child will be sacrificed”

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Communion Meditation – The Simple Gospel Story

When preparing the communion meditation, I often go through a thought process that says, “How can I tell an interesting and unique story that will grab people’s attention and make them focus on Jesus’ death?” Today, I decided not to go down that path.

Instead, I resolved to simply remind us of the gospel story, and to recall God’s desire for what to do at this time in our worship service. This story is all we need to grasp the basics of God’s plan for mankind. This story would be enough to tell a neighbor about God’s good news. Simply put, the story goes like this:


About 6000 years ago, that is, around 4000 B.C., God created everything that we see around us in only six days. Most importantly, he created man, and he created him to be special – because he was made in God’s image. Man was destined to have a unique relationship with God, unlike any other element of His creation. The special bond between God and man exists even today.

The ultimate purpose for man is simple – it is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. To that end, God gave man some rules to live by, and the free will to choose his own path. It didn’t take long for man to violate God’s direction – and through Adam, the first man, mankind fell from a position of a guaranteed eternity with God. Man sinned, and God’s promise of death and punishment had to be carried out.

For 4000 years, man lived under a system of laws that gave him some relief from sin’s punishment, but these laws were imperfect. God had said that sin could only be forgiven through a blood atonement, so man labored under a legalistic system of rules and animal sacrifices. This was not the system under which God wanted man to live.

And so, 2000 years ago, God sent his only Son to earth. His ultimate purpose was for His Son to die – and shed his blood to be the blood sacrifice that God demanded. Jesus Christ became the one blood sacrifice to cover the sin of all men who would accept him and proclaim him as their Lord. Jesus’ blood has the power to cover the sins of men in the past, present, and future. Through it, we have the ability to undo the damage done by Adam and by our own sin.

God had promised that sin must be punished by death. And He knew that all men would sin. We were under a curse, and it seemed that there was no way out – we were doomed to die apart from God. But thanks to God’s infinite wisdom, and His new and perfect plan, He provided a way for His words to be true and for us to be saved. The death that had to occur as a penalty for our sin was taken on by Jesus himself. Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Simply put, because of Jesus and that moment on the cross, we can look forward to eternal life. The story gets even better, because Jesus Christ, after dying a horrible death on the cross, was raised back to life after three days - to show that God is stronger than even death itself.

Finally, God asked us to remember this story - the sacrifice and death of His Son – each week, so that we would never forget what He did for us.

It’s that simple.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

“How Could Anyone Desecrate My Lord?”

Our county is famous for some odd things lately. Last year, it was “Balloon Boy”. This year, it is upheaval over a controversial work of art.

The Loveland Museum/Gallery, which I have frequented in the past, made national news last month when they opened the display of a lithograph featuring Jesus Christ performing a homosexual sex act. Naturally, there was a great deal of uproar over the display, from both sides of the issue. City council members demanded its removal, while others called for tolerance of differing views. A lot of print ink was used to discuss the issue – which is precisely what the “artist” was hoping for.

Yesterday, a 56-year old woman from Montana entered the gallery with a crowbar. When the area around the work was clear she removed the crowbar, broke the Plexiglas surrounding it, and then tore up the lithograph. Afterward, she waited calmly for the police to arrive. While ripping up the artwork, she was heard to say, “How could anyone desecrate my Lord?” She is currently under arrest, facing charges of criminal mischief.

So – two questions. First, should Christians feel compelled to argue against artwork and Christian desecrations of this nature? And, second, should our argument turn to acts of vandalism when we are offended as deeply as some of us were over the display in Loveland?

Our society continually talks of tolerance. Often, the standard is inequitable. While this art depicting Jesus Christ was allowed to stand, there have been instances in our country where similar characterizations of Allah are removed, because they are deeply offensive to other religions. That may not seem fair – but I think I know why. While we are not typically portrayed as such, Christians tend to be more tolerant of religious desecration than the people of some other religions, such as Islam. Of course, there are extreme examples – in both directions - where this has not been true. But let me point this out – only last month, President Barack Obama made a public statement against a Florida minister who planned to burn the Koran on his church property. I heard no such plea from our president over the Loveland art exhibit and its visual portrayal of our Lord. Why not? Christians – by now, we should expect this inequality of response. Christianity has always been the underdog in arguments such as this. It’s okay, though – truth is on our side.

Should we argue? Should we commit acts of “vandalism”? Jesus himself provides a whole spectrum of answers. When the crowd was demanding the stoning of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), he pretended not to hear them, and finally gave a gentle answer – “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Yet when he caught moneychangers conducting business in the temple, he overturned their tables, obstructed people from carrying merchandise into the temple, and drove out the moneychangers (Mark 11:15-19). If he had done that in my county this week, Jesus would have gone to jail, just as the lady from Montana did.

So what is right? And what goes too far? How far should I defend my faith? Should I “tolerate” the despicable depiction of my Lord committing a sin? I’m thinking about it. What do you think?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

There Is a Boy…

There is a boy who nearly died in the womb. This was a situation entirely unknown to his parents, and it caused them to think more about the preciousness of life. But the boy held on to that life, because God knew there was something special about to happen.

If that was not trial enough, that boy was born having been starved of oxygen during the birth. His face and fingers were blue, and he was rushed to a table by doctor and nurses for revival methods. His mother and father were overwhelmed with doubt about what to do, and could only watch helplessly from the corner and pray. And again, God stepped in and made sure that there were no ill-effects.

There is a boy who smiled and laughed through his infant childhood. As a baby, he was truly inseparable from his mother, and he could tell when she was not physically near. He was even able to sense when his father tried to kiss his mother in the next room, and would immediately begin crying, because for that moment he was not the object of her primary attention. Mother and father marveled at his sensitivity.

As he grew, this boy once gave nearly all the money he possessed to a church missions effort, because he was deeply moved by the plight of others and because, as he said, they needed it more than he did. He never told anyone that he did this, but it was observed from across the room. His mother and father watched in wonder at his selfless heart.

There is a boy who gives unselfishly of his time to others. While the temptation of self-centered youth is great, this boy spends hours doing precious and meaningful things for a neighbor, with absolutely no thought for compensation. And when that neighbor insists on a generous reward, this remarkable boy refuses over and over. When he finally loses the argument, he is truly overcome, because he gave those hours for the simple purpose of blessing another person with his gifts. One of his first thoughts is of the tithe he will give to the church.

This boy’s mother and father watch these things and they store them up in their hearts. His father, who is not known as an emotional person, is brought to tears one night when he observes the unselfish actions of the young boy. He knows that the boy is a far better person than he was at this young age. This realization makes him sad for his own selfish youth, and yet exceedingly grateful that the next generation will serve God in deeper and more wonderful way. The father realizes that his own life is but a stepping stone to something more eternal and consequential than he ever dreamed. It breaks the father’s heart to see that it took him so long to understand this purpose. But it gives him satisfaction to see God’s work being carried out with increasing desire and humility. Both mother and father are forever changed because of what they see in their own offspring.

Now, there is a young man. What will he do next?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Democracy Dilemma (Part 2)

In my last post, I considered the following scenario – if two candidates were running for President of the United States, and both of them supported abortion, what would you do?

The dilemma here is that we can: 1) vote for the least offensive candidate (assuming he/she has a more “agreeable” stance on the topic, like only supporting instances where the life of the mother is threatened) and still be a party to the murder of innocent children, or 2) don’t vote for either candidate, and leave the election to others. My point in the previous post is that there is no call in the Bible for Christians to be politically active in all instances – Jesus seems to be rather ambivalent about politics altogether (Matthew 22:15-22). The failure to cast a vote for either candidate still leaves the issue in the capable hands of God alone. Do we trust that He has a bigger plan?

This very scenario confronts us in our gubernatorial race in Colorado this November. Democrat John Hickenlooper will face the Republican candidate, Dan Maes, in the election. I’ve seen Dan Maes speak at the Christian Family Conference in Denver this summer – he seemed like a standup guy, supportive of so many of the sides of issues that I favor, like homeschooling and smaller government.

Most importantly, Dan Maes is pro-life. While politics covers many issues, I am most insistent on two topics alone – 1) a firm stand against all forms of abortion and a commitment to overturn Roe v. Wade, and 2) a clear statement that the candidate will not support any legislation that legitimizes homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle. Any candidate who doesn’t support these two points should not bother to seek my vote. They will never get my support, under any circumstances.

But the state gubernatorial race, like the Presidential race, does not contain just one name in each spot on the ballot – there are two. One is for governor and one is for lieutenant governor. And Dan Maes has chosen his lieutenant governor to be Tambor Williams – a clear, pro-choice candidate. Williams does not support the Colorado Personhood Amendment, she has urged former state governors to send funds to Planned Parenthood, and she has voted to oppose a ban on partial-birth abortions (for more on Williams, visit this Colorado Right-to-Life page).

Is Dan Maes committed to a pro-life stance? Consider his words, spoken recently to a pro-abortion outlet:

“People are overestimating the personhood amendment. It simply defines life as beginning at conception. That’s it. Who knows what the intent of it is? They are simply making a statement. That is all I see it as. Do they have another agenda? I don’t know... Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, and people tend to forget that. I would not try to undo that.”
And then, shortly after making this statement, he claimed that he misspoke and “took it back”. I have to ask – how can you misspeak by so great a margin? Could it be that Dan Maes, like so many other politicians, is simply saying whatever he must in order to get elected? In a recent newspaper article, other “conservatives” make it clear that the end justifies the means, when they say that Republicans may have to make compromises if they want to win back the governor’s office.

As a Christian, I am not in a position to make compromises where God’s Word is concerned. And God’s word is clear on the topic of the sanctity of life – “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13,16). If Dan Maes does not have the moral character, nor the tenacity to name a pro-life running mate, then he does not get my vote. It appears that Colorado Right-to-Life is withdrawing their earlier support of Maes. In their words, “the only justifiable abortion policy is zero tolerance for child killing.” I agree.

And this brings me back to my earlier point – I believe there are times when we are called upon to vote, and there are times when we are not. Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. In November, when I reach the gubernatorial part of the ballot, I will leave it blank – and I will, instead, take a moment to pray – and trust that God is bigger than anything I can do with my elective right. Does God need my vote to make things happen? No. Prayer, and God's leading, will trump mere politics. Isn’t that the very definition of faith?

A time of prayer, instead of political involvement? Think about it – what would Jesus have done?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Democracy Dilemma (Part 1)

The world of politics grows steadily more frustrating to me. Increasingly, it seems to be a circus, not a legitimate authority. With headlines ranging from Rod Blagojevich’s hung jury to the finger-pointing about the Ground-Zero mosque, I have to ask - is there a good politician left out there? Is there a politician that actually cares to govern for the right reasons, apart from the constant desire to posture and accuse in order to get re-elected? So, I recently pondered these questions: As a Christian, am I under obligation to support and vote for the least offensive candidate, in order to do my part to “turn the tide”? Do I have to be politically active with my vote in every circumstance?

Put another way, if we are told to choose between the lesser of two evils, should we choose at all?

My strong answer to this is “No”, and I’ll tell you why. The argument is often made that Christians cannot withdraw from their political duty – voting – unless they are willing to abandon our nation to the worst possible leaders. Common sense says that if Candidate “A” is more godly than Candidate “B”, then a vote for the lesser of two evils – for Candidate “A” – at least tempers the outcome in favor of Christian principles. Failing to vote at all removes one vote from the “good” candidate and swings one more vote in favor of the “bad” candidate. More often than not, this results in Christians simply voting straight Republican on the ticket, sometimes for candidates of which we have absolutely no knowledge. I know, because I’ve done this very thing in past elections.

But I believe there is a third alternative – leave it to God.

This choice may seem uninvolved and escapist. But I ask – does God really need my vote to see His will done? Obviously, he does not. Romans 13:1b says, “for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” This verse specifically refers to our political and governmental leaders – this chapter even tells us to pay our taxes. So, if I believe that God is ultimately in charge, then I also believe that He is in control of the elections and leaders in our nation. One could make the argument, “Doesn’t God then use my vote for the lesser of two evils to do His will?” Perhaps, but can’t a similar argument be made that God is in control, even if I choose to abstain from voting for a candidate? The verse tells us that it is God who puts authorities in place – not my vote.

I believe that we need to trust in God – not in democracy. Does that seem un-American? Perhaps it does. But is such a view un-Christian? I don’t think so. Do we have faith in democracy and God...or in God alone? And think on this – isn’t a vote for the lesser of two evils still a vote for evil?

Here is a true dilemma – if two candidates were running for President of the United States, and both of them supported abortion, what would you do? See my answer in the next installment – using a real-life, current example in our upcoming Colorado election.

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To Part 2 of The Democracy Dilemma

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Getting a Constitutional Education – Questions for Student Discussion (Part 12)

It’s important that we educate our children on the topics of politics, government, and the Constitution which governs our nation. This nine-part series reminds us of some basic principles, lest they be forgotten by the next generation. The following questions provide material for homeschool and public school teachers to share, discuss, and test their students on each of the nine topics. The link to each article is included, or you may start through the series beginning at Constitutional Education – Free Homeschool Curriculum (a nine-part series, originally published in January/February 2009). The discussion questions are divided up into three installments, beginning here.

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7. Banking and The Federal Reserve Act (Part 7)

· What is the difference between a Silver Certificate and a Federal Reserve Note? [A Silver Certificate was backed by real silver, and could actually be exchanged for the amount in silver at the treasury. A Federal Reserve Note is not backed by precious metal or anything of value, but is only worth the face amount because the government says so.]

· What was the purpose for the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913? Did it work? [The Federal Reserve was created in 1913 with the purpose of being able to expand or contract the money supply if the government decided it was needed. They feared that people might place a demand for their money or that the stock market was too volatile without this “control”. Unfortunately, it did not work, because the stock market crashed in an historic manner just sixteen years later. The economy continues to fluctuate as much or more than it did before the Federal Reserve was created.]

· What economic occurrence happened after the Federal Reserve was created, one that had not happened before? Explain what this occurrence does to prices. [Inflation occurred after the creation of the Federal Reserve. Prior to this, the prices of goods remained essentially the same for over a hundred years. When the Reserve was given the power to print money, the supply of money goes up and the value of each dollar goes down. This causes prices to rise. This continues to happen today.]

· Extra – Go to your library and check out an 1897 Sears catalog or an 1895 Montgomery Ward catalog (these are readily available at most libraries) or locate other old catalogs from department stores. Compare the prices of similar items from back then to prices today. Calculate the percentage rise in prices for different items. Do you observe the effect of inflation?

· Extra – Do you believe the economy would be better served with more or less government intervention? Do you think a return to the gold or silver standard would be beneficial or harmful?

8. (Mis)interpreting the General Welfare Clause (Part 8)

· Where does the General Welfare clause appear in the Constitution? [It appears twice – once in the Preamble and once in Article 1, Section 8.]

· Does the Constitution explicitly give the federal government the ability to collect taxes and distribute them to states for road construction projects? [No, the Constitution is fairly silent about what the government may spend money on. From a previous lesson, we see that they are directed to fund the military for the protection of our nation, but there is little else that is named specifically in the Constitution that the government may fund.]
· In today’s federal government, is there very much debate about whether or not the government should be involved in a spending program? [We still see some debate in a couple of areas – most notably in the areas of gun laws or abortion. People feel passionately about these topics and so they still make arguments about whether or not the government should be involved. But by and large, most people now raise no questions about whether or not the government should be involved in spending for road construction, healthcare, etc. It’s become a foregone conclusion. However, in the era of the founding fathers, there would have been much debate over these issues and whether the government should participate.]

· Extra – How do you feel about the topic of government spending on various programs? Consult today’s news media and make a list of programs where you see the government spending tax money. Are these areas listed in the Constitution or the Amendments?

· Extra – In your opinion, did most founding fathers intend for the amount of government spending and involvement that we have today? You might look up some quotes from Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and Patrick Henry.

9. The Birth of Judicial Activism (Part 9)

· When Marbury brought his case before the Supreme Court, what exactly was the purpose of his case? [It was simply to get Hamilton to sign his commission, so that he could take on the role of a federal judge. Marbury cited the Judicial Act of 1789 as the basis for his lawsuit.]

· What was the unprecedented (and some would say shocking) thing that the Supreme Court did regarding Marbury’s case? [They referred the case back to a lower court, but at the same time declared that the Judiciary Act was unconstitutional. This was never before done – that is, the Supreme Court had never before declared something to be unconstitutional (nor had they been asked to rule on the constitutionality of something). The shocking part was that the Court decided on its own that it had the authority to make this judgment.]

· State the difference between judicial activism and judicial restraint. [Judicial activists believe that there are implied powers in the Constitution and that the document is up for changing evaluation and interpretation as the times change. This results in the government expanding its powers over more and more topics as time goes on. Those who believe in judicial restraint believe that the Constitution is very explicit about areas where the government should be involved. They believe that where the Constitution is silent about a topic, the government likely has no authority.]

· What fictitious human right did the Supreme Court refer to in the Roe vs. Wade case? [The right to privacy was the basis of their argument. While most people may agree that privacy is a good thing, there is no mention of a right to privacy in the Constitution. The word does not even appear in the Constitution.]

· Extra – What is your opinion on judicial activism versus judicial restraint? Do you believe in one over the other? Give your reasons.

· Extra – Do some research on Justice John Marshall. How do you think he was viewed by judicial restraint advocates such as Thomas Jefferson?

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Getting a Constitutional Education – Questions for Student Discussion (Part 11)

It’s important that we educate our children on the topics of politics, government, and the Constitution which governs our nation. This nine-part series reminds us of some basic principles, lest they be forgotten by the next generation. The following questions provide material for homeschool and public school teachers to share, discuss, and test their students on each of the nine topics. The link to each article is included, or you may start through the series beginning at Constitutional Education – Free Homeschool Curriculum (a nine-part series, originally published in January/February 2009). The discussion questions are divided up into three installments, beginning here.

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4. Origin and Curse of the Federal Income Tax (Part 4)

· Name two events in American history which established a federal income tax. [The first, started during Abraham Lincoln’s administration to pay for the Civil War debt lasted from 1862 to 1872. The second came with the establishment of the Sixteenth Amendment in 1916.]

· Describe why the model where the federal government collects taxes and then gives money back to the states is a potential problem? [The federal government is not required to give the money back in any kind of proportion to the number of people in the states. Therefore, the federal government could potentially give money disproportionately, and almost certainly will. Money earned in one state and taxed may not come back to benefit that state or its taxpayers.]

· Write out the words of the Sixteenth Amendment. While it is very short, what problems can you see in the sentence? [“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” First, “from whatever source derived”” means they can potentially collect taxes on any money transfer. Today, taxes are generally not collected on Internet purchases, but there is nothing to prevent the government from invoking such a tax. “Without apportionment” and “enumeration” means once again that tax benefits can be unequally distributed to people, regardless of who earned it. One could argue that this is very close to the definition of socialism.]

· Extra – Describe how a system of federal taxation can shift the balance of power away from states and toward the federal government. In your opinion, has that happened? Why or why not?

· Extra – Look up the definitions of socialism, collectivism, communism, and capitalism. In your opinion, which one most closely aligns with the idea of federal taxation and re-distribution?

5. Secession and Nullification (Part 5)

· How many states seceded from the Union during the time of the Civil War? Which was the first state to secede? Was your state one of the ones that seceded? [Thirteen states ultimately seceded from the United States, with South Carolina being the first in December of 1860. Tennessee was the last to secede in June, 1861. States seceded over perceived violations of the United States Constitution by the Lincoln administration. The list of States who seceded from the Union include South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee]

· Did the people in the Northern states want to prevent the seceding states from leaving the Union and bring them back into the Union forcefully? [According to Horace Greeley, nine out of ten people in the Northern states agreed that the states’ right to secede from the Union was more important than preserving the Union as a whole. It appears that most people understood well the right of states to secede and they supported it.]

· Summarize the “power pyramid” between individuals, states, and the federal government. How did the founders view this pyramid? How do you think it looks today? [The founders believed in individual rights above all else – this was made clear in their writings and in the Declaration of Independence itself. Next were states’ rights, as is also clearly demonstrated in their writings. The federal government was originally designed to be the weakest of the three. In today’s United States, these roles appear to be reversed. From Part 4 of this series, the Sixteenth Amendment probably had a lot to do with this reversal.]

· Extra – Write an essay weighing the good and bad of Lincoln’s decision to enter into the Civil War. Consider both sides - the abolishment of slavery vs. the abridgement of a state’s right to secede.

· Extra – look up the “South Carolina Declaration of The Causes of Secession”. Outline the state’s reasons for deciding to leave the Union.

6. Enumerated Powers vs. Implied Powers (Part 6)

· Define the concept of express (or enumerated) powers. [A person who believes in enumerated powers allows that only what is listed specifically in the Constitution is applicable to government. This is in line with Thomas Jefferson’s thinking – that government only has the authority to do exactly what is listed in the Constitution – nothing else.]

· Define the concept of implied powers. [A person believing in implied Constitutional powers would hold that government authority can go beyond the specific enumerated powers listed in the Constitution. It becomes difficult to define these powers because “implied” can cover a broad range of thinking. It seems that this has happened – consider, does the federal government have the rightful Constitutional authority to mandate healthcare insurance? We are already seeing Constitutional challenges to this recent law.]

· Did the founding fathers believe that the original Constitution would be completely sufficient for the future? Why or why not? [The founders included Article 5 in the Constitution, which allows for an Amendment to the Constitution to be made. Since they did this, it seems evident that they believed the Constitution was not made to be unchanged forever.]

· Extra – What do you think would happen in Congress if Congressman Shadegg’s “Enumerated Powers Act” became law? Would there be changes in daily Congressional business?

· Extra – Form an opinion and write down your reasons for supporting enumerated powers or implied powers.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Getting a Constitutional Education – Questions for Student Discussion (Part 10)

It’s important that we educate our children on the topics of politics, government, and the Constitution which governs our nation. This nine-part series reminds us of some basic principles, lest they be forgotten by the next generation. The following questions provide material for homeschool and public school teachers to share, discuss, and test their students on each of the nine topics. The link to each article is included, or you may start through the series beginning at Constitutional Education – Free Homeschool Curriculum (a nine-part series, originally published in January/February 2009). The discussion
questions are divided up into three installments, beginning here.

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1. Presidential Power (Part 1)

· Which Article of the Constitution deals specifically with the powers given to the President? [Article 2]

· Name two of the six specifically named powers given to the President [Commander in Chief of the military, authority over other members of the Executive branch, the power to grant reprieves and pardons, the ability to make treaties (with congressional approval), the power to nominate ambassadors and Supreme Court justices, and the authority to appoint Senate vacancies during recess periods]

· What is one danger of giving too much power to one person in government? [The founding fathers fled this very situation in England, because the king began exercising authority over areas such as religion – preventing personal freedoms]

· Does the Constitution give the Supreme Court the ultimate authority to rule on the interpretation of the Constitution? [Article 3 of the Constitution enumerates the powers given to the Supreme Court, as does the 11th Amendment. Nowhere in there can one interpret such powers as being given to the Court]

· What are your thoughts on the disagreement between Justice John Marshall and President Andrew Jackson on the power of the Supreme Court? [Jackson appears to argue correctly that the Court was exceeding its authority. Nevertheless, to this day, the Court behaves as if it is the ultimate arbiter on Constitutional law.]

· Extra – Look for news articles, postings or telecasts which may demonstrate the assumption of presidential or Court authority which is not given in the Constitution

2. States’ Rights (Part 2)

· A system emphasizing the idea of states’ rights is called what? [Federalism]

· Have United States Senators always been elected by the people every six years? When did this change, and what changed it? How were they previously selected? [No, U.S. Senators used to be appointed by state legislatures until the adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913.]

· Do you believe that the founding fathers would place more importance on power emanating from the states or from the federal government? [It seems clear in reviewing the words of most founding fathers and documents such as the Constitution that they favored states’ rights. They seemed opposed to a great deal of authority at the federal level, probably because of their experience with the monarchy back in England. In fact, it took a Constitutional Amendment to change the appointment of Senators to a direct election. If they had to amend the Constitution to provide for this, it seems clear that it was not the founders intent.]

· Extra – In your opinion, is there an important difference between a state-appointed Senator and an elected one? Describe why. Consider what may influence their decision-making in each case.

3. Government Debt (Part 3)

· Does the Constitution allow the federal government to run a deficit and go into debt? [The Constitution does not specifically prohibit debt at the federal government level, and seems to imply that it can assume debt or establish new debt (as in Article 6).]

· Can we get an itemized tax bill from the government telling us exactly where our tax money is being spent? Why would this be a good idea? [Unfortunately, no. It would be good to be able to get one because it would cause the government to have more responsibility in where it spends our money if they knew they were going to have to tell us where every dollar goes. It is too bad that we don’t have this transparency from our government. Note that it doesn’t work the other way – we have to tell the government where we get and spend every dollar of our money when we fill out our yearly tax forms.]

· Does all tax money that is collected this year go only toward programs that happen this year? [No, the government uses a lot of this year’s money to pay for programs that were implemented years ago. Likewise, they use this year’s money to pay interest on borrowing that that did in the past.]

· Extra – What do you think the danger of an increasing national debt could be? [There may come a time when the debt cannot be paid because of a loss of prosperity. If that occurs, other nations who we have borrowed from (such as China) may feel obliged to get their money back through some other means. It also may mean that the world financial markets will switch from their standard currency – the U.S. dollar. This would put the United States on a lower-status financial footing. It may mean that the United States loses its position as a world superpower.]

· Extra – Do you think government spending and debt should be any different than personal spending and debt? Why or why not?

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Radical Environmentalism – Which Is Worse, An Ecological “Disaster” or the Federal Government? (Part 13)

The Gulf oil spill news has certainly waned in the last few weeks. I guess people got tired of watching each drop spill on national television. And while I don’t approve of lackadaisical methods by companies such as BP, who are ultimately responsible for the spill and its cleanup, I also think we need to put the spill in perspective (see my previous tongue-in-cheek post about how long it would take to fill the Gulf with oil).

For me, a couple of questions stand out in relation to the spill. First, how bad was it for the environment? To be sure, some beaches were impacted, but I can’t find any lasting evidence that any were ruined – if they were, don’t you think the media would report the “loss of a national treasure” ad infinitum? I haven’t seen it on the news, so I must conclude that there is no story there.

What about losses to animals in the Gulf? According to Jonah Goldberg’s latest column, the losses in the bird population stand at less than one percent of losses during the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska back in 1989. That is remarkable, considering that this spill is larger and in a region which likely has more birds due to the warmer climate. And according to Goldberg, the total number of oiled mammal carcasses discovered to this date numbers only…three. Three? How many dolphins and porpoises died of old age during this period? And if this is not enough to make you think that a minimum amount of damage has been done, consider this article (from ABC News, no less), which claims that some clean-up crews are having a hard time finding any oil to clean up. “Even the federal government admits that locating the oil has become a problem”.

I concede that the oil is likely out there somewhere, breaking down over time as nature intended, but I refer you again to my calculations on the relative size of the oil spill (one or two grains of sand represent the relative size of the oil which has spilled, while the volume of the Gulf of Mexico can be represented by over 4,000 5-gallon buckets of sand). It’s going to be hard to find – and it’s going away more and more each day.

My second question is this – how bad was the spill for the economy? There is no doubt that the shrimping industry and the tourism industry have been hurt temporarily. And some families may not be able to weather the loss of half of their working season. That is sad.

But far, far more damage has been inflicted by the federal government’s intrusion into the economic policies of the Gulf region.

- An attempted moratorium by the Obama administration on new deepwater drilling in the Gulf (overturned by a federal appeals panel on July 9)

- The potential trickle-down effect of the above moratorium on things like boat shuttle service, and all of the industry that supports deepwater drilling.

- The potential passage of crippling federal economic laws that might come about due to this event – make no mistake, they are sorely tempted to limit America’s ability to drill for oil in the Gulf – though there is no corresponding decline in demand. This will simply open the door for others to replace that oil with oil obtained elsewhere on the planet, likely by non-U.S. companies. This would increase our dependence on foreign oil.

- The future “justified” shift to “greener” energy because of the oil spill – most of these so-called greener technologies are far more expensive, and many are not proven to be any better for the environment. But the federal government is pushing hard on these because of appearances, not because it is ultimately the right thing to do.

Finally, consider this. The Deepwater Horizon rig was incredibly difficult to shut down because it was in…deep water. The challenge of capping a wellhead that is a mile below the surface (where pressures are in the 2200 psi range) is far greater than if the well had been drilled in shallow water, and the drill bit allowed to tunnel sideways toward the oil reserve. But it is the very government which decries this disaster which then forces companies like BP out into the deep water areas to drill. Could it be that the government’s policy of forcing oil companies into deep water drilling is at least partially responsible for this “disaster”?

The oil spill is a nasty event. But it would appear that nature (designed by God) is already reclaiming the Gulf. When man (a.k.a. the federal government) thinks he knows more that he really does, bad policy is made. And the result of bad policy is ultimately higher energy costs, increased foreign dependence on oil, and a people with temporarily-soothed consciences who may later discover that much of the economic suffering was due to improper reactions to the spill, rather than to the spill itself.

Go, Gulf - I have a soft spot for the area since I grew up in Louisiana.

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...and this was released a week after my article - "The Gulf Recover Obama Does Not Want To See"

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Communion Meditation – What Do You Really Need?

In just a minute, I’m going to make a bold statement about Jesus Christ – and I wonder how many can truly say they agree with it. I say this because it is a very difficult statement to hold to in our world and culture today. And it is a measure of where our hearts truly are.

We are surrounded by luxury and ease. Arguably, every one of us leads a life that is superior to any king or world leader up until a mere hundred years ago. We have air conditioning. We have access to healthcare that can easily cure diseases that were feared only a few decades ago – we can simply drive to the drugstore and pick up a bottle of pills that will fix the problem. Do you need something to eat? What if I said I wanted a spinach-leaf, strawberry, and pecan salad, topped with fresh Italian dressing – and I want it right now? That would have been unattainable on-demand not so many years ago. But now, I only need to get in my air-conditioned car, drive for five minutes to the grocery store, and pick up every single ingredient I need, no matter how rare or out-of season it is. I can be eating that salad in under a half-hour.

So what do I really need? When I’m surrounded by so much, it is easy to think that I don’t have need of anything. I could live for the rest of my life in relative ease and comfort, and fool myself into believing that I am missing out on nothing.

So this brings me to this statement – ponder it. Christ alone is all I need.

It sounds so peaceful. Christ alone is all I need. Do we believe it? Can we honestly say so, if everything else was removed from our lives – our comforts, our homes, our money, our cars…even our family? If all of that were taken away - and all we had was Jesus Christ - would we be able to say, “It is well with my soul”?

Philippians 4:19 tells us, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 says, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

If you could sum up the whole story of mankind in three sentences, it would go something like this. 1) God made man in His image and brought him into a perfect world – no sin, no death, no wants. 2) But man fell, and so was separated from God. And 3) God sent His Son as a sacrifice that each of us might regain what was lost. It is truly that simple.

Because of this, we each have access to the greatest gift imaginable - forgiveness and an eternity to spend praising God in heaven. Knowing that, it becomes much easier to say…Christ alone is all I need.

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By the way, if you have to have the t-shirt, visit here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"Twilight" and The Apple

One of the most popular teen (and older-than-teen) book series out today is Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. There is much that can be said about this series (none of it is good, in my opinion). I have not read the books themselves, but have researched and read synopses in order to be informed of the plot, and of the writer’s purpose. I encourage others to not read the series, but to learn and teach of the dangers within and to keep it away from our children – you can start by taking a few minutes to read this excellent Christian perspective, or my daughter’s recent blog on the subject.

I simply want to comment on the cover of the first book – and what it implies about where our culture is today. The picture that appears on the cover is shown above.

You see, a long time ago, at the very beginning of human history, God created a perfect world in which to live. There was no death, no ruin, no decay…and no sin. God created things to work perfectly and without breakage. Most importantly, this system honored God and revealed His ability to create perfection. He created Adam and Eve and placed them in a Garden to enjoy His creation and live for His glory. Only one rule was set down – do not eat of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the Garden. And as we all know, after a while that rule was broken, and sin entered the world for the very first time…with the result that mankind fell away from the perfect relationship that he had enjoyed with God.

The fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is often referred to as an apple. And that apple represents the temptation that brought mankind to be separated from God, and brought death back into the world. From Genesis 3:17-19:

‘To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”’
Nothing worse has ever happened to mankind than this separation. Because of that event, God had to send his Son several thousand years later to die and save mankind from making this separation permanent. The fall of Adam was the darkest moment in human history.

Yet, I fear that the weight of this event has been lost by a modern generation. Witness the very words that Stephenie Meyer uses to describe the photo on the cover of her book:

The apple on the cover of Twilight represents “forbidden fruit.” I used the scripture from Genesis (located just after the table of contents) because I loved the phrase “the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.” Isn't this exactly what Bella ends up with? A working knowledge of what good is, and what evil is. . . . In the end, I love the beautiful simplicity of the picture. To me it says: choice.”

So, the choice between good and evil is a good thing? To Meyer, the moment of the apple and the resultant fall of man is “beautiful”. She has forgotten God’s original purpose – that God wants a perfect relationship with us – and yet hundreds of thousands of teens fail to question the premise and position of her book. They think they are reading a “love story”. Yet, it was God’s intent that we never have to experience the ravages of evil and disease and death. This is the original love story! I would love to live in a place where I did not have this “choice”, but where God’s goodness was the only option available. Someday, we will know this existence again!

I appeal to our generation – train your children to understand the importance of that moment when we were separated from God. Help them to know that “choice” is not always a good thing. And help them to understand that our culture desperately needs to be restored to God again, back to the perfect design He had in the beginning. Mankind is not “evolving” by being granted more choices – instead, it is the very existence of our choice between good and evil that points to a brokenness. God has the cure. If you are reading this and want to know more, please write me.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Notes: The Christian Family Conference 2010 (Part 9)

My wife, oldest daughter and I attended the Christian Family Conference in Denver this past week. It was an amazing time of encouragement with other Christian parents – most of whom are devoted to homeschooling and home-training their children to be godly men and women, prepared to take on the world with a multi-generational vision. I’m posting some of the notes I took from the conference sessions. Some are sure to fly in the face of the traditions and cultures which most people would consider normal in today’s culture. But these men who spoke to us used the Scriptures, and their lives and the lives of their children are a testament to their integrity and boldness on these topics. Their words motivate me to continue to raise my children in a radical, counter-culture, God-fearing way.

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Chuck Black is an ex-test pilot turned homeschooling father. Really. He gave a lot of very practical lessons about raising our children in today’s world. One look at his family will demonstrate his success in the area of parenting – if you stop by his booth, his children are there running the show – they are polite, well-spoken, talented , and well on their way to becoming lights for God in a dark world.

Chuck did an excellent job of reinforcing my belief that it is the family, not church youth groups, that is responsible for developing maturity in our children. “Youth group” is a relatively modern creation. Our family often must choose between youth group activities…and being together as a family. We almost always choose the latter, and I believe that this is the biblical model. Please don’t get this wrong – I’m not saying that youth groups are inherently bad or evil – the point is that parental involvement should be the primary driver of spiritual and emotional maturity. Without it, youth group gatherings can be simply a pooling of immaturity with no real lasting value. When the parents abdicate the role of being the main spiritual mentors and enforcers in the family, the children are operating at a severe disadvantage.

“Equipping Your Children to Overcome the Cultural Pressures of Today” by Chuck Black

· One-hundred years ago, children transitioned to adulthood in a very short time, and at a young age. Today, we allow them seven to eight years of “teenage time”. This is a new invention – it didn’t used to be this way.

· Part of the reason is that there is a lot more time, money, and available entertainment in today’s society

· Children are maturing physically at an earlier age, but their spiritual and emotional maturity is coming later – this creates a maturity gap that is often filled with entertainment – and Satan is targeting this gap, instead of allowing the family to fill it

· Negative peer pressure and broken relationships exacerbate the maturity problem

· Problems in today’s society that need strong parenting in order to avoid them:

· 1) Large amounts of time are spent with immature youth – limit it, monitor it, or stop it!

· 2) Our children are culturally encouraged to spend time with, or have physical relationships with the opposite sex, without commitment – don’t allow it!

· 3) Young people are culturally discouraged to marry at an early age – this creates physical pressures and may increase the length of the maturity gap

· 4) Our children live in an entertainment-oriented world – one way we can push back against this is to help our children discover the joy and accomplishment in labor

· 5) We have culturally established academic education to take place outside of the home – parents are rarely seen as teachers anymore, and this is a fairly recent change in our society (over the last 150 years). Homeschooling restores this area to its proper place.

· 6) We have culturally established spiritual education to take place outside of the home – many parents see Sunday school or youth group as being the prime places where their children will learn about God, and so have abdicated the role of being the spiritual leaders of their family, in favor of a youth minister or another parent.

· When you see a young man or woman who is especially mature for their age, ask yourself – did they get that way because of what happened to them at school, at church…or at home?

· Chuck Black’s wife calculates that homeschooling allows her to spend 15,680 more hours with each of her children than if she had sent them to public school. There is a lot of mentoring and heartfelt communication that can take place during those hours.

· The responsibilities of parents toward their children: 1) Lead your children to the Lord, 2) Train your children, 3) Discipline your child, 4) Equip your child, 5) Protect your children from physical, emotional, and spiritual harm, 6) Carefully expose your children to important things – keep them innocent, but not ignorant, 7) Disciple your children in the Lord – and be purposeful about this, 8) Launch your children toward a target

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Notes: The Christian Family Conference 2010 (Part 8)

My wife, oldest daughter and I attended the Christian Family Conference in Denver this past week. It was an amazing time of encouragement with other Christian parents – most of whom are devoted to homeschooling and home-training their children to be godly men and women, prepared to take on the world with a multi-generational vision. I’m posting some of the notes I took from the conference sessions. Some are sure to fly in the face of the traditions and cultures which most people would consider normal in today’s culture. But these men who spoke to us used the Scriptures, and their lives and the lives of their children are a testament to their integrity and boldness on these topics. Their words motivate me to continue to raise my children in a radical, counter-culture, God-fearing way.

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Another one from Voddie Baucham’s book, What He Must Be…If He Wants To Marry My Daughter. I have to say, most people in our society will view Voddie’s points as “old-fashioned” or behind the times. But if these principles are truly laid out by God – who never changes (1 Samuel 15:29, Malachi 3:6) – then they are as timeless as He is. So why are we often led to believe that the principles of dating, discipleship, fatherhood, and character must change as our society does?

“The Four P’s” by Voddie Baucham

Any boy who approaches me with the idea of marrying my daughter must understand these four principles of husbandhood, fatherhood, and leader:

· Priest – represents his people before God – 1 Peter 3:7 – the father or young man needs to walk with God and be on his knees in prayer on his family’s behalf

· Prophet – represents God before his people – Ephesians 5:25-27, 6:1-4 – handle the Word accurately – does the young man know how to view the Word and use it? (Note – this question is not, “Does he agree with me on every single Biblical topic?” Some things may come with time, while some are mandatory up-front)

· Provider – makes sure his people have what they need – 1 Timothy 5:8, 11-14, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12, Colossians 3:22, Proverbs 6:5-11, 1Thessalonians 4:10-12 – the suitor needs to have a job, a work ethic, and needs to know how to handle money – just remember, he probably won’t look like upper-middle class at age 20, and that’s okay – place expectations of sense and ethics on the boy, not acquired wealth by age 20

· Protector – puts himself between his people and those that would harm them – Nehemiah 4:14 – notice that “husbands” are left out of this list in the verse, because they are the ones doing the protecting

· The man who is a protector needs to be three things – 1) a man of personal strength, 2) a man of wisdom, and not a fool, 3) a man of courage, and not a coward

· The difference between a protector and a poacher? Consider the young man who wants to express an interest in your daughter. The one who secretly dates your daughter for two years and then approaches you asking for her hand is like a hunter who drags an elk out of the woods and goes in search of the game warden to request a hunting tag after the kill. But a young man who is truly concerned with your daughter’s heart will approach you, the father, before even letting the girl know that he has an interest (after observing her from afar) – because he is looking after her heart and her long-term best interest. A boy who does that is a true protector. (I have to say, the first time I heard Voddie say this, I thought it was a bit idealistic. But after thinking on it, I realize that a young man like that is exactly what I would want for my daughters – it is not too lofty a goal. This goes along with the post on dating I’ll be publishing shortly.)

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Notes: The Christian Family Conference 2010 (Part 7)

My wife, oldest daughter and I attended the Christian Family Conference in Denver this past week. It was an amazing time of encouragement with other Christian parents – most of whom are devoted to homeschooling and home-training their children to be godly men and women, prepared to take on the world with a multi-generational vision. I’m posting some of the notes I took from the conference sessions. Some are sure to fly in the face of the traditions and cultures which most people would consider normal in today’s culture. But these men who spoke to us used the Scriptures, and their lives and the lives of their children are a testament to their integrity and boldness on these topics. Their words motivate me to continue to raise my children in a radical, counter-culture, God-fearing way.

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This talk was lifted from Voddie Baucham’s book, What He Must Be…If He Wants To Marry My Daughter. In it, he presents the high expectations that Christian fathers should have for their wife’s spouse. Society today would think these to be radical and even controlling. But, like Voddie, I am not willing to compromise on this point.

“A Father’s Role” by Voddie Baucham

· The crisis today has been caused by the fact that most of our parents didn’t do marriage well, didn’t teach us to do it well, and so we aren’t doing it well, nor are we teaching our children. Like most parents today, we are just praying and hoping that our children “find a good one”. But there is a more active role that can be played.

· “Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent”

· The Bible is not silent on the issue of a father’s responsibility – to his family, and specifically to his daughters and sons.

· A Father’s Responsibility to His Family:

· The Old Testament is full of fatherly responsibilities – food, shelter, clothing, rest (the fourth commandment), defending the household, remembering Israel’s history, etc.

· And in the New Testament – model a personal commitment to Christ, provide for the family (1 Timothy 5:8), lead and disciple his wife (Ephesians 6:26), his children (Ephesians 6:1-4), and to lead the family in prayer (1 Peter 3:7)

· A Father’s Responsibility to His Daughter:

· Protect his daughter from male predators and bringing her to her husband as a virgin (Exodus 22:16-17, Deuteronomy 22:20-21)

· Provide a dowry (Genesis 29:24, 29)

· Provide for her by finding a suitable husband and making proper arrangements (Genesis 29:15-20)

· Consider this – in modern weddings, when the minister asks who gives the bride in marriage, it is most often heard “Her mother and I do” from the father. But this practice only came into popularity at the wedding of President Lyndon Johnson’s daughter at the White House in 1960, when LBJ was counseled to say it in order to keep the feminist vote on his side. Before 1960, that standard practice was for the father to respond to the question with, “I do”. Has our society watered down the Biblical, prominent role of the father in the raising of his daughters? Unfortunately, yes.

· Protect our daughters from rash vows (Numbers 30:3-5) – in this verse, the father’s decision can override a daughter’s vow – we don’t just say, “Oh well, it’s her life” – consider this when asked to attend the wedding if you disapprove of the person your child has chosen to marry – that’s a tough, tough lesson to learn – the best thing is to train and monitor what happens before this happens in order to avoid the situation altogether

· Some things that make us miss the pious life – we are 1) ignorant, 2) indifferent, 3) idolatrous, and 4) independent – instead of being pious and living for God, we live for ourselves

· We can only overcome the “four I’s” above with God’s help, if we go back to God’s Word, and if we obey what he says

· “Dating” recommendations – our daughters shouldn’t be dating in the sense that our society approves today – the current dating model is unbiblical and takes the place of the role of the father-daughter relationship. What is the Biblical model? 1) Model a life for your daughter to imitate, 2) teach your daughter God’s principles, 3) protect your daughter from harm, 4) get your daughter in the proximity of the right young men (and out of the company of the wrong ones)

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(I have already written a future post about the “dating” rules in our household – they are far more conservative than our society dictates, but I believe they are scriptural – coming soon - Alan)
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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Notes: The Christian Family Conference 2010 (Part 6)

My wife, oldest daughter and I attended the Christian Family Conference in Denver this past week. It was an amazing time of encouragement with other Christian parents – most of whom are devoted to homeschooling and home-training their children to be godly men and women, prepared to take on the world with a multi-generational vision. I’m posting some of the notes I took from the conference sessions. Some are sure to fly in the face of the traditions and cultures which most people would consider normal in today’s culture. But these men who spoke to us used the Scriptures, and their lives and the lives of their children are a testament to their integrity and boldness on these topics. Their words motivate me to continue to raise my children in a radical, counter-culture, God-fearing way.

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I wrote a three-part blog series on this very topic about a year ago – when is the right time to put our children out into the world to make a difference in others? I definitely do not believe that we are called to place our children in the “evangelism field” in first grade – at that age, there is too much danger that the world will influence them more than they will influence the world. Jesus himself prepared for his ministry well into his adult years before taking on the world (and even then, he spent his efforts training twelve other men to go into all the earth).

“Raising Children That Will Stand” by Kevin Swanson

· When should I release my children to the culture? When they can change the world – not when the world can still change them! If your children are being changed by their immersion into the world, then it’s too early for them to be in the situation they are in.

· Karl Marx has achieved exactly what he wanted in our culture today – the destruction of the family. “Abolition of the family! … The bourgeois family will disappear, in the course [of history] as its supplement [private property] disappears, and both will vanish with the destruction of capital.” - The Communist Manifesto, Chapter 2, Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels. Just look at our divorce rates and single-parent statistics to see some evidence of family destruction at work among us.

· The husband-wife marital relationship, for the first time in America, is now in the minority – less than 50% of families conform to this model.

· The solution to managing a successful Biblical family is found in Malachi 4:6“He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers”

· By 2035, in one more generation, we may see an utter breakdown in society, unless God in His grace works through us for healing. But remember – no matter what happens, Jesus Christ reigns supreme.

· Research Rudyard Kipling’s “all that glitters is not gold” poem – did Kipling foresee our American society’s downfall?

· “Homeschools are the monasteries of the new Dark Age.” – quoting a Roman Catholic priest who believes Christianity may still be salvaged in America

· Our boys are not always turning into effective men – because Dad can’t get home from work to raise them

· “Boys cannot play computer games…while Rome burns.” Neither should fathers…

· We need mighty men of God to pass on the vision for future generations

· And we need boys who are willing to run out and cut off the giant’s head – just like young David did. The giant, in this case, may be a cultural or philosophical tenet – like evolution or pornography.

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Back to Notes: The Christian Family Conference 2010 (Part 1)
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