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Friday, April 20, 2018

The Greater Threat To Christianity In The U.S.

Big gifts sometimes come in small packages. God Spoke, by Dr. Erik Strandness, is such a gift. In a mere 56 pages, the author says things better than most writers can do in 256 pages.

Dr. Strandness points to a 2016 Gallup poll showing 90% of Americans still believe in “God.” Turns out, the greater threat to Christianity in the U.S. is not atheism, but polytheism: the postmodern notion that any god will do, and one god is just as valid as another. This is ancient Greece all over again.

“We all have the same God-shaped hole,” writes Dr. Strandness, “but the odd ways in which we try to fill it create religious differences. Our postmodern culture [is] telling us that all paths lead to the same divine mountaintop, but that illusory unity is shattered once we reach the summit and look around to see that each religious victory flag has been struck on a completely different peak.”

The “spiritual hole” Dr. Strandness alludes to is the same spiritual hole Paul found in the marketplace of Athens. Paul congratulated them on their religious nature, but challenged them to get specific about who their ‘unknown god’ really was. Strandness takes a similar tack, using brilliant 21st century imagery.

This is a beautifully written apologetic for people who are wondering about who the ‘unknown god’ really is. It reflects the journey of the author himself, who practiced neonatal medicine for twenty years before his life was radically transformed by a passion to thoroughly understand his faith.

Temporarily setting aside his medical practice, Dr. Strandness went back to school and earned a degree in theology. It’s a rare thing to find a medical doctor with a theology degree! Erik has since resumed practicing medicine in Spokane, Washington, and serves as a Christian worldview educator during his off-hours.

I met Erik while he was participating in the Colson Fellows Program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. I can vouch for his character. He is the “real deal.” What’s more, he is a great writer, with the most unusual way with words I've seen.

God Spoke: Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide with Divine Discourse is Erik’s 3rd book. Prior to this, he wrote The Director’s Cut: Finding God’s Screenplay on the Cutting Room Floor, and, Cry of the Elephant Man: Listening for Man’s Voice above the Herd.

For your copy of God Spoke, click here.

Friday, April 13, 2018

There Will Rise Up A Stigma

Public shaming has been around for a long time. These men were put into the stocks at Bramhall, England, in the year 1900. I don't know why they were put into the stocks, but they must have done something...very...very...bad.
[Photo Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Author unknown.]

A National Public Radio web article flashed the headline: "Christian colleges are tangled in their own LGBT policies." John Stonestreet, President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and Roberto Rivera, followed up with an ominous BreakPoint commentary (link below).

The reality is that many Christian colleges are as much at risk today as "politically incorrect" flower shops and cake decorating businesses. If student loans from the government are not allowed to be used at colleges having particular views on sexual practice, many colleges will not survive the financial hit.

I would only add to the BreakPoint analysis, that even if the student loan situation were not an issue, the "court of public opinion" is. Christian colleges holding to a biblical view of homosexuality will be targets of increasing public shaming for being "intolerant," "narrow minded," and (the worst) "unloving." 

They will be painted as Southern schools of the early '60s with segregation policies. There will rise up a stigma associated with such schools which many Christian students (and their parents) will not be willing to carry in public.

As this stigma becomes a reality for Christian colleges, it will become a reality for Christian K-12 schools. But it will not stop there.

It will become a reality for Bible-teaching churches, too. Christian K-12 schools will be facing the prospect of losing enough students to shut their doors. This is exactly where things are headed. And churches will not be able to dodge this bullet either. The faithful everywhere will be put into public stocks and shamed.

Think it could never happen? Think again.

Christian institutions (whether K-12 schools, colleges, or churches) that hold to the belief that homosexual conduct is sin (I use an old, outdated word) are headed for difficult testing. Some Christian schools and churches will try to "survive" by moderating their views on what is acceptable sexual behavior. This is already happening. 

Such testing is God's way. Allowing the likes of LGBTQ activism to test the hearts and minds of His own has been His way of doing things since the days of Job, and before.

God's judgment begins with the testing of His own people. As the Apostle Peter wrote to his own generation, "The time has come for God's judgment, and it is beginning with the testing of his own people." The Living Water Translation, I Peter 4:17.

For the BreakPoint article, click here

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Worklife Restoration and Advancement Project

Effective Christian schools have effective leaders. Cindy Mathisen, is one such leader at Lighthouse Christian School, Gig Harbor, Washington.

Worldview Matters® is currently accepting applications from Christian schools for the Worklife Restoration and Advancement Project [WRAP], starting in the coming 2018-19 academic year.

For more information about the WRAP, including how to get an Application Form, click here.

Maybe you don't know what the "WRAP" is all about. The best way to find out, is to watch the short video clip below, as teachers and administrators from Lighthouse Christian School, a WRAP school in Gig Harbor, Washington, share about their professional development experience through the WRAP program.

In recent posts I have spoken of the problem of "secularizing" schools, both the State type and "Christian" school type. So, what does a de-secularizing school look like?

It looks like this:

If this video does not play, click https://youtu.be/ZAEGrH_z8gE

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Friday, March 30, 2018

The Number Is 202-401-3000

"The Tax Collector," oil on panel, 1620-1640, by Pieter Brueghel.
(USC Fisher Museum of Art photo. Pieter Brueghel the Younger [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)

It's tough to bring up children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4) that are attending secularizing schools. But what are the alternatives for mid-to-low-income families when tuition at many Christ-inclusive schools is very high?

First, check into financial aid through the school itself. Then, look into financial assistance through grandparents, and other caring relatives. Then look to your church.

Every church should have a “Christian Education Fund” to help young families meet the financial challenges of a Christ-inclusive education. The Church has a first-line, God-given responsibility for equipping the Saints (Eph.4:7-24), including children. Not the State. If your local church does not have a fund, see if one can be started. Or start a de-secularizing school. 

Many families today are home-educating. This requires a certain kind of parent, however, as not all parents are equally adept at home-based education. Yet, many helpful resources are available for home-educators today, including co-ops and on-line courses. 

An often untapped resource for home-educators is grandparents. Many grandparents have time on their hands, and what better way to spend it, than to engage with their own grandchildren in the process of providing a formal education at home! (BTW, an outstanding book on grandparenting is Dr. Josh Mulvihill’s terrific work, Biblical Grandparenting. It is must reading!)

For a long-term solution to the funding problem, we need to change how property taxes are dispersed to schools. In my State, the secularizing schools are the only schools receiving funding through taxes. This is grossly discriminatory, and highly inappropriate for a today's pluralistic society.

Why not allow tax dollars that property owners pay go to the educational system of their choice?

If I were Jewish, and I wanted to support the Jewish schools in my city, why shouldn’t I have this choice? If I were Muslim, and I wanted to support the Islamic schools in my town, why shouldn’t I have this choice? If I want my tax dollars to support the secularizing schools, so be it. But by choice, not by force.

Furthermore, let people send their educational tax dollars directly to the school of their choice without passing these funds through government hands at all. In the computer age, those who cheat can easily be caught.

Recently, I called the Office of the Secretary of Education to suggest this idea. You can too. Please do! The number is 202-401-3000. 

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Friday, March 23, 2018

Have We Lost The Culture War?

Daniel in the lion's den.
(After Briton Rivière [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)

In the Not Far Away video, I stated:  

“Sending children to [secularizing] schools to be ‘lights in the world’ sounds noble, until they come home thinking like their textbooks, making no connection between any academic subject and the bigger picture of God’s Word.”

A friend took exception, writing: “…in essence they all are going to be brainwashed as it were in those schools. I simply don’t agree and certainly don’t think it will do anything by demonizing the schools, the teachers in those schools and the potential those kids and teachers have.”

He went on to say the church should be training children to be Daniels and Esthers in State schools, sending them into their educational world to transform it.

But most churches are as infected with S.S.D. [the Sacred-Secular Divide] as the schools.   

The majority of young people from Christian homes and churches are thinking more like secularized textbooks than the Bible. It only makes sense that a 13-year dose of secularism through secularizing schools would be a major contributor to the secularization of society. How could it not be?
There are some Daniels and Esthers in State schools. However, Barna tells us the percentage of “Generation Z” [born in 1999 or later] who identify as atheist is double that of the U.S. adult population, and only 63% of America’s teens who identify as Christians believe Jesus is the Son of the one true God. (How does Gen Z define the term "Christian?") 

Have we lost the culture war? If we mean, "have we lost the Christian consensus?," the answer is an emphatic, yes.  

A "new normal" is permeating our schools and American culture-at-large. Some youth are swimming against the tide, yet few are able to withstand the undertow. It's hard enough without attending secularizing schools. The "Christian consensus" of pre-1960 was long ago in a galaxy far away.

I believe secularizing schools (both the State type and the "Christian" type) have played a significant role in this development. Yet, the primary responsibility for where our culture is at today cannot be placed on the schools. The greater responsibility lies with churches.

"The time has come for God’s judgment, and it is beginning with the testing of his own people.” I Peter 4:17, Living Water Translation.

Hope for the future lies with His own people. But the Church cannot bypass God's testing in the process. 

We're in it.   

If the video does not play, click https://youtu.be/Igd74KblPvU

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Should Christian Educators Leave State Schools?

An excellent resource for followers of Christ working in state schools is Gateways to Better Education, founded by my friend Erik Buehrer. Click here.

Responses to last week's video, Not Far Away, ranged from, “brilliant piece of work,” and “a powerful, prophetic video!!” to, “the impact of the video is to demonize the schools, and the administrators and about 50% of the teachers and many of the administrators in those schools who claim to be evangelicals.”

A friend asked: “How do we help evangelicals who have kids in public schools, or who are public school teachers, or administrators, to ‘hear’ this message and not feel condemned or helpless, or angry?”

This is a great question! 

Certainly God calls Christians to serve in state schools as surely as He chose Joseph to serve in Pharaoh’s court, and Daniel to serve in Babylon. If you are one of "the chosen," you are not a demon! But are you functioning as a Joseph, a Daniel or an Esther where God has placed you? These are the kind of Christian teachers and administrators we need in state schools today.  

If you are one such dedicated individual, you may be spending time in a "lion’s den," unless you are silent and passive when your time to speak comes up. When it does, remember Esther, who was in the right place, "for such a time as this." Your outcome, however, may not be as delightful as Esther's.

If churches were training, equipping and supporting Christian state school teachers and administrators in how to be Daniels and Esthers in state schools, that would be great! Erik Buehrer is doing this.

It seems that if 50% of the state school teachers and administrators are evangelical Christians, we should be seeing a course correction. Perhaps the "how to" is in short supply.  

Should Christian educators leave state schools? My short answer is, “…do what the Lord shows you to do." And if God shows you to be in a state school, be prepared to do the right thing, as Daniel did. (And be praying as Daniel did, too.)

It is getting harder and harder to work in state schools today, particularly when it comes to dealing with increasing LGBTQ pressures. May the Lord give every believing teacher and administrator in state schools the grace and wisdom of Jesus, to be "salt and light in Babylon." We need such people in the system. 

The bigger question, when it comes to educating Christian children, has to do with the Church. 

More next week. 

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Friday, March 9, 2018

A Challenging Message For Challenging Times

Why are so many young people leaving the church?

As a concerned educator, a grandparent of 12, and a U.S. citizen for 68 years, I am compelled to speak out about the seriousness of our condition as a nation. While our leaders are discussing putting armed guards at schoolhouse doors and having teachers carry concealed weapons, young people are leaving the church like never before.

There is a reason for all this, which I will attempt to address in the video below.

Our trajectory has a painful terminus. If we continue to strong-arm the Lord, the outcome will be a fallen nation. There is only one way to "make our nation great again," and that's His Way (capital H). Yet, as I said last week, this is the One Way our people (and leaders) will not tolerate.

The animated video below is not a happy one. It is unpleasant to watch. It contains some hard and unsparing words for pastors, for the church, for parents, and for Christian schools. I may win some "unsubscribers."

Yet, it is a word I feel strangely compelled to share, for such a time as this. Making this video has been a "tough love" endeavor.

If this video expresses your heart too, I urge you to use the "share" links at the bottom of this post to forward it to friends, or use the social links provided on the You Tube site to forward the video by itself.

A challenging message for challenging times: 

 If the video does not play, or to view it in a larger format, click https://youtu.be/Igd74KblPvU 

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Friday, March 2, 2018

A Nation Untethered

This is Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, where 14 students and 3 teachers were killed on February 14, sprayed with bullets by a troubled young man.  

Photo by Formulanone (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

I'm repeating words I wrote on October 13, after the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Why? Because I hear pundit after pundit saying we need to "fix the problem," yet the "fixes" I'm hearing are band-aids over cancer.  

Our Founding Father Noah Webster, the one-time 'Schoolmaster of the Nation,' said education is "useless without the Bible." In his Preface to the 1828 Dictionary, he wrote: "In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed...No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people."

Today, we want freedom from Christianity, not freedom for Christianity.

How's that working out? 

Webster wrote: "...the education of youth should be watched with the most scrupulous attention. Education, in a great measure, forms the moral characters of men, and morals are the basis of government." 

And: "...it is much easier to introduce and establish an effectual system for preserving morals, than to correct, by penal statutes, the ill effects of a bad system."

Tell us about it! 

Webster said the Bible is "that book which the benevolent Creator has furnished for the express purpose of guiding human reason in the path of safety, and the only book which can remedy, or essentially mitigate, the evils of a licentious world."  

He declared: "Any system of education...which limits instruction to the arts and sciences, and rejects the aids of religion in forming the character of citizens, is essentially defective."

We have fed our elementary and secondary students a steady diet of defective education since the 1960's, when the 10 Commandments were taken off the walls, the Bible removed, and prayer in our schools declared "unconstitutional." Instead, we'll put armed guards at the doors, and teachers will carry concealed weapons.

Webster would have a few choice words for those '60's judges on the so-called "Supreme" Court. He saw the Higher Court above them.

Webster knew the "fix," and declared it in plain English. Today, no civil leader dares to repeat it.

We are living in a nation untethered. A nation untethered from the Bible, untethered from our God, and untethered from Truth.

That's our real problem, and there's only one fix.

The one we will not tolerate.

This painting of Noah Webster (1758 - 1843), hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Painting by James Herring (1794 - 1867) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, February 23, 2018

Got Solutions?

It's one thing to point out problems (as I did last week). It's another thing to provide solutions. See https://youtu.be/ZAEGrH_z8gE

In a recent blog post, I made a statement that may have raised some eyebrows. Actually, I have made a number of eyebrow-raising statements recently, but the particular statement I'm referring to is:

"Regrettably, the secularization of academics can happen in Christian schools as well as state schools, because most Christian school teachers aren't trained to teach academics in the Light of God's Word. Few universities provide instruction in this acquired skill."

"So," some may ask, "what are you doing to fix the problem?"

It's one thing to point out problems, it's another thing to provide solutions. With this in mind, Worldview Matters® provides practical helps for educators, including:

1. Individual coaching for teachers via video conferences of 45-60 minutes, anywhere in the world, to help teachers create lesson plans that seamlessly blend any subject, at any grade level, with the biblical world-and-life-view. Click here.

2. 2-year professional development program for entire Christian school staffs together, focusing on the practical skills of teaching any academic content within the context of a biblical world-and-life-view through a proven process called, the "WRAP" [Worklife Restoration and Advancement Project]. Click here.

Worldview Matters® is now accepting applications for new WRAP schools in the coming 2018-19 academic year. 

The WRAP is available to any qualifying school where English is spoken, worldwide, through on-line training and video conferencing. The number of schools accepted is limited, however, and the sooner applications are received, the better. Contact Worldview Matters to request a WRAP Application, here.

3. E-text for high school students combining biblical worldview with theology of work: click here.

If you would like to speak with Christian Overman about any of the above services, you may request an appointment to chat via telephone or video conference here.

Got solutions?

The teachers, staff and principals of Lighthouse Christian School, in Gig Harbor, Washington, seem to think so. Take a look at the video below of teachers, staff and principals talking about their WRAP training experience. 

(If this video does not play, click https://youtu.be/ZAEGrH_z8gE)

Below is an interview with leaders of a WRAP school in Jos, Nigeria:

(If this video does not play, click https://youtu.be/q9C3Jbe_DLc)