The One Where I Say Its Okay To Send Your Child To School

SchoolHouse

EDIT:  Due to my inability to think through things and my lack of not properly proofreading and editing – I need to add a disclaimer – my church is a wonderful church, and pays me more than well enough to do all we need to do and more.  Some of you may misunderstand my purpose behind this post, so let me make it perfectly clear – this is a post that is trying to let you know its  okay to send your child to public school.  I know many who struggle with this decision, and its a hard one.

My parents sacrificed A LOT to send all three of us (my brother and sister) to a Christian school.  I’m better for it.  I hope in the future we will be able to send our child to a Christian school.  But for those of you who struggle with sending your child to a public school – I want you to know from this post – that its okay.

I have rewritten this post to emphasize my point  – which is, we should take every opportunity to share the message of Christ with people we come in contact with.  99% of the comments I have received on this post have been very, very positive.

I just did not want this post to reflect poorly on my wonderful church family or elders – who take care of us beyond imagination.  After re-reading this post, I felt like it might be best to say that, and to edit it.  Note to self … ALWAYS EDIT and PROOF!

Begin post:

On Thursday, August 1, 2013 my 5 year old daughter will start Kindergarten.

I don’t know if you all realize how big of a deal this is – Kindergarten!  It seems like she just learned how to say her first word, use the potty, sleep in a big girl bed, eat with a fork, and all the other simple things you learn in the first few years of life.

She’ll be dropped off on Thursday morning for a half day here in Davidson County, and I know when my wife drops her off, she’ll be bawling for the next few hours.  She is, after all, our little girl.  She’s the only one we have.  She means the world to us.

But I have to stop and tell you something.  I’m not scared at all.  We’ve done what we can in these first five years to prepare her for this moment.  And now, its time for her to grow some more.  The hardest time I’m going to have over the next few weeks/months/years is reading about whether or not we should have put her in public schools.

You have to understand, we are a blended family.  Not only am I an Alabama fan and my father in law is an Auburn Alumnus, but I grew up in Christian education, and my wife didn’t have that until she went to college.  From Kindergarten till the day I walked across the stage at Friendship Christian School in May of 1996, I went to the same Christian School, followed immediately by 5 years at a Christian college.

When we moved to Nashville, people told us that Davidson County schools were awful.  We were told to live in Williamson County, but it is getting further away from our church family, and we don’t want that.

So we’re happily sending our child to the public school near our home.  (For security’s sake, I will not disclose what school our child will be attending.)

I simply don’t know what to expect.

Now,I am going to have people reading on Facebook, Twitter, news channels, family events, and other various venues, telling me I should have homeschooled my child.

Understand this – I have nothing against those of you who have chosen to do this.  If you have the knowledge, the means, and the ability to do this, more power to you.  But I believe there is a reason why there’s an old saying that goes “It takes a village….”  I have minister friends, church friends, and family that homeschool.  I respect them beyond imagination.  But homeschooling is not right for us.

My wife is the product of public schools, and I think she did just fine – going to college on an athletic scholarship and graduating with a nearly perfect GPA.  In fact, she finished a lot better GPA than me, the product of the Christian School.

I’m not scared to send my child to school.  She knows God, she knows what is right, she knows how to be a good influence, and she knows that there are people out there who don’t believe in God – and she’s prayed for them.  No, I’m not saying she’s a little missionary, but she has a heart for God that I didn’t have when I was 5.  She will have a chance to influence the boys and girls in her school for God.

On top of that,  we live out of the area where many of our church family goes to school.   We will be in a school where we know absolutely no one.

We’ll be going to parent meetings, teacher meetings, and school events in a place where there will be a great opportunity to share the love of Christ through our love and actions.  Sure, it would be easier to send my child somewhere where I knew the people, and felt more comfortable, but that would take away a great ministry opportunity God has put before me.

I’m not certain why some people are so afraid of sending their children to  school.  We can’t keep them in a bubble forever.  The world is changing, and I want my child to know what she’s up against.

Many of you who are hardcore homeschool advocates won’t understand this.  I have family members who homeschool that won’t understand this.  Is there a potential for her little mind to be scarred by things she wouldn’t see if she stayed at home everyday?  Sure.  But she’s going to experience the world one day, and I would much rather be in control of it now at the age of 5 when she heads off to college at 18.

On top of these things – know this:  I know that God is with her.  I believe in prayer.  I will pray for her daily.  My wife will pray for her daily.  With confidence, we will be able to send her off to school to learn, play, and become assimilated with society – and we will still be in control of her every step of the way.  If the school teaches something we disagree with, that’s fine.  Because we’ll still be teaching her at home, and still be teaching her at church.

So many who homeschool say the problem is that they have no control over what they are taught.  I don’t plan on just turning my child over to the system and then check back in with her every May at the end of the school year.  We will go over things.  We’ll discuss things.  We’ll take time to teach alternative things to evolution and liberal government.

I’m not scared.  I’m proud.  I’m proud of who my little girl has grown up to be in these short 5 years.  I know God will take care of her.  May God bless all our children as they start school over the next few weeks.

The Parable of the Sower (From my series entitled “Once Upon a Time: Lessons from the Master Storyteller”)

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Sunday, we began our new series on the study of the parables.  We began with the “Power” parables from Matthew 13, the first of which is the parable of “The Sower.”  It goes like this, from Matthew 13:1-9 – 

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.”

What a great way to start this chapter.  I can easily envision Jesus sitting down on the boat, with no notes at all, looking out in the fields and seeing a farmer doing the very thing he speaks about.  No machines, no tractors, just a bag of seed and a farmer, spreading the seed around his beloved fields.

The farmer is Jesus – and one thing that I quickly notice is that he did not discriminate where the seed was thrown.  If we are to be sowers like Jesus, we need to realize first and foremost that it is not our responsibility to determine whether or not the soil is fertile.  We just need to plant the seeds.

There is a lot of power in a seed.  Such a small item can grow to produce might trees, taller than buildings, stronger than man made items, that produce life and fruit.  There is no problem in the seed that is being thrown, nor in the one sowing the seed.

The problem lies in the soil.  

Many of us as Christians automatically assume since we’ve given our lives to Christ, that we must indeed be the good soil, but I don’t necessarily think that is true.  I believe all of us at one point or another in our lives have evidence of there being a layer of hard soil, rocky soil, thorny soil, and the good soil.

The hard soil is a soil that has been packed down, worn as people and animals have walked on it over an over again.  The seed lands on it, but has no chance at all to dig and grab hold of anything.  Before it has a chance, its taken away by the evil one.

The rocky soil is perplexing.  It looks like normal, good soil.  However, a few inches below lies the rocky layer.  A seed can begin to grow, and even become a sizable plant, but its roots never fully plunge beneath the surface.  We have some woods in our back yard, and the other day I was able to pull an eight foot tall tree right out of the ground, roots and all.  It looked like a tree that was developing, but really, it was just growing on the surface.  It had no chance to survive.

The thorny soil (or weeds) also pose an interesting dilemma for us.  All of us worry about things – but many of us allow the worry to choke out the spiritual.  We let the worry of where our next mortgage payment will come from choke out the blessings that God promised us.  In Matthew 6, Jesus reminded us that if God will take care of the birds and the flowers, will He not take care of us as well?

And finally – the good soil.  We can’t just assume because we’re going to church and living a Christian life that it means we’re automatically part of this good soil.  Good soil allows a seed to grow, take root, and produce fruit.  If we look at the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control), and we’re not producing these things, maybe we’re not quite the good soil we think we are.

Lord, make all of our hearts good soil!

 

Don’t Be So Hard on Them

I’ve been a daddy for almost 3 1/2 years now. For most of that time, I’ve probably been way to hard on my little girl.

I need to realize that my child is not 33 years old like me. She can’t comprehend all the things I ask her to do. She doesn’t quite understand the principle of cause and effect. She doesn’t quite see that what we tell her is for her own good, and not for our entertainment.

I’ve always been overprotective of things. I never wanted our family dog to wander too far away from my sight when I was a kid. When other parents are a little more carefree than I am, I seem to be the one making sure they don’t break their leg while trying to balance on an upside down chair while doing a one handed hand stand. While other parents may be able to look past these things, I seem to be the one who is worried all the time that my child will run under some elderly person at church and cause them to break a hip.

This morning, I realized I was robbing my child of joy. I went home for an early lunch of pb & j, and while I was eating she kept telling me “Daddy, watch me!” and she would jump as high as she could on the rug in our living room. After about 4 attempts at trying to jump over the rug, I told her to stop. She was shaking the whole house, and I could just see something falling over and breaking.

While Kristen and I were talking, I heard that familiar sound of those feet landing on the floor again…and I reacted quickly. I went to her and said “Daddy asked you to stop jumping in the house” and gave her the stern look that is supposed to work but never does. She looked at me and gave me a frown, and walked away. I took away her joy.

I think there’s a fine line between letting a child have fun and letting a child run wild. I’m always very aware at church service not to let her run too wild. But what’s wrong with her jumping in the house? Not a thing at all. Relax Lane, its just a little girl jumping with all her might. She’s having fun. Lighten up a little, and maybe she’ll see you for the fun guy you really are instead of the grumpy old troll who lives under the bridge. Jump as high as those little legs will let you!

And if you break something, let’s blame mom.

Love Without Limits

Recently, my grandfather passed away.  While at the visitation and the funeral, gathered around family, we were all reminded that he never had anything negative to say about others.  He didn’t speak in an angry way.  He loved life and loved others.  This was an excellent lesson he taught us, but one that Jesus taught as well.

Its easy to love people who treat you well.  However, how do you love someone who doesn’t treat you well?  The kid in school who makes fun of you?  The boss who takes credit for your work, or blames you for things going wrong?  Those people are a bit harder to love.

Jesus tells the Pharisees in Matthew 5:43-48 they are to love their neighbor, but also love their enemy.  The King James goes on to say “bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”  We know Jesus wants us to love our neighbor, that’s for sure.  He tells us over and over again.  However, the Jewish Rabbis taught that their “neighbor” only applied to fellow Jews.  This worked out well because the Jews pretty much hated everyone else.  The Romans actually accused and charged the Jews with hatred of the human race.

The problem is that the Old Testament, or no where in the Bible in fact, tells us to hate our enemies.  There are places in the Old Testament where God hates evil, and may not care for the evildoer, but he never commands his people to hate their enemies.  We are to shower them with unconditional kindness.

I heard a story about Wade Boggs, former third baseman for the Boston Red Sox.  He hated playing at  Yankee Stadium while playing for Boston, not because of the Yankees but because of one particular fan.  This fan would heckle him, yell out insults and profanities.  One day, Boggs had listened to this enough.  He walked over to the area where this guy was, looked at him, and asked “Are you the guy that is always yelling at me?”.  The fan responded “Yeah, what are you gonna do about it?”

Wade Boggs took a new baseball, signed it, and threw it up for the guy to have.  The guy never heckled Boggs again.  In fact, he became one of his biggest supporters.

That’s what we are urged to do with our enemies.  Find a way to show them love, especially the love of Christ in all we do.  God is going to bless everyone on this earth, whether they believe in him or not.  He sends the rain and the sun to bless even his enemies by common grace (vs 45).  We need to love people without discrimination like God loves us.  We also need to love our enemies because we need to show there is no greater love than Christian love.

To Tell the Truth

Paul Harvey told a story that I remember my dad using in sermon illustrations as a child.  Four teenage boys were late to school one morning because they were goofing off and having fun.  They walked into their first period class with about 5 minutes left, and solemnly told the teacher that they were sorry they were late, and that they had stopped to change a flat tire.  The teacher looked at them and smiled sympathetically, and said it was too bad they were late, because they had missed a test.  However, she was willing to let them make it up.  She asked the boys to go to the four corners of the room, and she handed them each a blank piece of paper.  She told them the make up test consisted of one question, and if they got it right, they would pass the test.  The teacher then asked the question – “Which tire was flat?”

Jesus commands us to be truthful.  In Matthew 5:37, he says to let our yes be yes and our no be no.  In the preceding verses, he has told the Pharisees to stop their complex system of swearing and making oaths, because they were time and time again finding loopholes to get out of them.  For example, if you swore by Jerusalem, it was not binding, but if you swore towards Jerusalem, it was not binding.  This was not based on any law God had made, but again, it was a loophole they had created for themselves to get out of keeping their word.  They had a whole system that allowed and rewarded dishonesty.

We do this time and time again.  We say that we’ll pray for someone, and we never intend on doing it.  We say we’ll be there for a person, but when push comes to shove, other things are more important.  We do what we can to sell ourselves as true Christians, but when faced with actually doing it, we get out of it by creating our own loophole.

Jesus is encouraging us at this point to live a life that we would not be ashamed of in any way, especially in our speech.  Live a life so that if all the things you said and did were being written down, you wouldn’t have any problem with someone going back and reading it.  Do you think that would drastically change your speech?  Ephesians 4:25 tells us that we shouldn’t lie to each other, especially because we’re all in this world together, and we should work together for the good of the Kingdom, not against each other.  Colossians 3:9 tells us not to lie to each other because when we became Christians, we put that lifestyle behind us.

Its also not enough just to tell the truth, we must be truthful in our actions as well.  Our actions must match our language.  Otherwise, we lack the integrity to back up the truth we speak.  Nothing can be more powerful than when the world hears a Word of truth lived out in our lives.  The words you speak are amplified by the life you live.

Ultimately, we walk in truth if we walk in the path of God.  Every time God spoke it was truth.  Everything Jesus said and did, it was truth.  If we are made in his image, and we are to strive to live like Jesus, shouldn’t we do the same?