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Equipping followers of Christ to engage in their everyday work as the work of God, so workplaces are invigorated, communities flourish and culture is renewed to the honor and glory of the Lord.

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Can Flying Helicopters Be The Lord's Work?

Heli-logging was first introduced in British Columbia.

Photo by Phillip Capper - Flickr: Logging the Town Belt, Wellington 18 April 2005, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15358577

Continued from last week...

A young friend of mine who had recently graduated from Bible school came to visit. When I asked what he enjoyed most about his Bible school experience, he said: “Going into the local town to do street evangelism.”

Wow. It’s rare to find a young man who enjoys street evangelism! 

But when I him asked what profession he wanted to pursue, I received an unexpected reply.

Cocking his head, he looked up at the ceiling and uttered: “Forgive me, Lord.”

Then he turned to me, looked me straight in the eye, and declared: “I want to fly helicopters.”

(Forgive me, Lord?)

His dream was to fly helicopters in logging operations, lifting cut trees from the forest floor, bypassing the need for building roads, and keeping things looking nice.

Yet, this young man obviously felt guilty. Heli-logging was clearly not on his shortlist of “the Lord’s work” occupations.

I asked if he had heard of the First Commission. He was unfamiliar with this term, so we talked about Genesis 1:26-28, where it is written: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our likeness and image, and let them rule…over all the earth...”

I pointed out how heli-logging fulfills the role God had in mind for human beings. I shared how we can love God and love people by lifting logs from forest floors with helicopters, bringing them to trucks to be hauled to mills, where they can be shaped into lumber for building homes, and other useful things people need.

For the first time in his life, this young man saw how he could fulfill his God-given role as an Earth-Tender, ruling over trees through heli-logging. In this work, he could love God and love people! 

Can flying helicopters be the Lord's work? 

You tell me. 

The lights went on for this young man that day. He looked at me, with face aglow, and declared: "I never thought of that before!" 

We discussed how he could also evangelize loggers.

If the chief end of man is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever, as the Westminster Catechism says, then the chief role and function of man is to govern well over Planet Earth and all it contains. The two go hand in glove! It's the First Commission. 

Let’s restore it to our schools, homes and churches, before we lose yet another generation to Platonic Dualism.  




Friday, December 1, 2017

The Most Under-Valued, Under-Preached Truth

Who tends Planet Earth?
 
(Photo by NASA/Apollo 17 crew, by Harrison Schmitt or Ron Evans. Public domain.)

If someone asked, "What's the purpose of education?,” what would you say?

I'd say: "The purpose of education is to equip the next generation to govern well over this physical, material world.”

Are you shocked?

Not long ago, I was speaking to a group of Christian school teachers, and I posed “the question” to those in the room. But before anyone could reply, I answered my own query. 

You could have heard a pin drop. I paused to let the weight of my answer sink in.

Someone broke the silence by asking, “Would you mind repeating that?”

After repeating it, I asked the group if anyone had told them that before. No one had.

I have asked this question to Christian students, parents and teachers. So far, not a single person has responded by saying, “The purpose of education is to equip the next generation to govern well over this physical, material world.”

Why?

My guess is, the answer is too “earthy” for most Christians’ sensibilities.  

Yet, I contend that not seeing this as the purpose for education is why so many pastors don’t believe in Christian schools, why we lost the “culture war” in this country, and why so many young people are leaving the church. We lost the very meaning and purpose for living--and thus our purpose for learning.    

Yes, education is for strengthening character. Yes, education is for practicing self-government under God. Yes, education is for developing one’s talents, gifts and abilities to their highest potential. Yes, education is for learning “good citizenship.” And it’s for getting a “good job,” too. But the bigger question is: to what end?

I believe the purpose of education must be seen in the context of our assigned role and function on Planet Earth. The role God had in mind for humans is no mystery. He stated it plainly in Genesis 1:26-28, Then God said, "Let us make man in our likeness and image, and let them rule…over all the earth...”

News flash! Humans were created to govern over this physical, material world! We were made to be Earth-Tenders! That's our assigned role, whether Christians or not.

I believe this is the most under-valued, under-preached Truth in all of Scripture. Fulfilling our assigned role well [that is, fulfilling it in harmony with the Creator's purposes and design] brings glory to God, and serves the common good.  

For more, click here.

Friday, November 24, 2017

We Were Late For Lunch...And No One Cared


Kristi Pananas is a kindergarten teacher at Grace Christian School, a Worldview Matters "WRAP" school in Staunton, Virginia. In the above photo, Mrs. Pananas is with Ella, a student who asked a question that turned a 20-minute math lesson into a 45-minute “worldview lesson" that was so engaging the class didn’t care about being late to lunch! Mrs. Pananas writes: “Recently, during a kindergarten math lesson, I introduced patterns: red, yellow, red, yellow; smiley face, star, smiley face, star; ABAB, etc. We practiced a few different examples. And then, the neat stuff happened.” The rest of the story is below, in Mrs. Pananas own words. (Thank you, Kristi.)

A little girl [Ella] raised her hand and asked, “What does God think of patterns and does he like them?” Wow!

I put my worksheet aside, sat down and knew that this discussion was more important than the “math” lesson. I asked the question back to the class.

And the following were some of the answers:

The first little boy said, “We know God likes order so he must like patterns because patterns are in order.” We had previously talked about how God is a God of order, not chaos. I thought, “They are getting it, they remember, this is important to them!!!”

Hands were flying, and everyone wanted to be part of the discussion.

Another student added, "God ordered the days, he made all things….” We had talked about creation, and how our calendar was in order, and what God thought of that.

And another remembered, “God made animals with patterns.” Patterns were related to camouflage and a way of protecting animals, and God did that.

We discussed how God made people with patterns: 2 eyes, 2 arms, boys/girls. How God doesn’t make mistakes when he creates anything. How we are all created perfectly and in a special way and are made in His image (patterned after God).

To answer the question about, “does God like patterns?“ everyone agreed that he does!  He made rainbows, and they are patterns. He likes pretty things. He wants to enjoy patterns; they thought that God wanted us to like patterns, too. We talked about how God is creative and thinks of everything.

A 20-minute math lesson turned into a 45-minute worldview lesson initiated by a child with a heart wondering about God. We were late for lunch...and no one cared, and kindergarteners always care about snack and lunch (and recess)!

I was amazed and proud. We had been in school less than a month and the kiddos were using the questioning that they hear at school…“what does God think/feel about...?” These kiddos are 5 and 6 years old! I can only imagine what the rest of the year will be like. God is at work in the hearts and minds of these kindergarten students.

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Postscript: If you are a teacher, or a parent, wondering what sort of questions the teachers at Grace Christian School are asking to prompt “worldview conversations,” click here for examples. Use them yourself!

Mrs. Pananas with another student, Max.



  

Friday, November 17, 2017

600-700 Illiterate People


The Living Water Translation does not read like a translation, although it is a true translation, not a "paraphrase." It flows in the most natural way--with supernatural effects. 

In 1958, Roy Mayfield, and his wife, Georgialee, a young American couple, made their new home among a remote group of 600-700 illiterate people called the "Agtas," in the northern Philippines, as Wycliffe Bible Translators. 

Roy and Georgialee raised their four children in this community. They learned to speak the Agta language, put their words into written form, and taught the Agtas how to read their own tongue.

Why? Because the Agtas did not have the Bible in their own language, and the Mayfields wanted them to read the Word of God for themselves [as Luther wanted Germans to be able to do], and to know the Savior's love and will for their lives. After 30 years, the New Testament was complete. They stayed another 10 years, and by 1994 half of the Agta group had committed themselves to Christ. 

“It was primarily through the Agta leadership and witness of individual believers that the Agta Church grew,” says Roy. "When the Agta New Testament was dedicated [in 1993], isolated Agta communities from a large geographical area were invited to participate for a two-day affair. This experience motivated them to hold a gathering the following year. And for the past 20 years the annual Agta Christian Convention has been a venue where some find Christ for the first time, and others grow in their spiritual walk with the Lord.”

When Roy returned to the United States, he did not stop translating. He turned his attention to writing an English version of the New Testament, which sprang from his own longing for a "more readable translation." One that was "clear and flowing."

I can personally attest that Roy succeeded in reaching his goal! His translation is indeed "a more readable translation." It is really "clear and flowing."

Roy calls it, The Living Water Translation. It is my favorite translation of the New Testament, and my wife's favorite also. She spends hours reading it while soaking in the tub! (Well, not hours in the tub at once...)

The Mayfield translation has not yet been "discovered." I want to get the word out. It is a treasure hidden in a field. To order your copy, click here. You'll be glad you did! Give yourself an early Christmas present--and someone else, too.

Take a look at the photos below, courtesy of my Aunt and Uncle, Roy and Georgialee Mayfield:

Roy and Georgialee teaching a group of Agtas to read their own language.



Roy (far left) and Georgialee with three of their four children and some Agta friends.
Roy with an Agta helper, "testing" his choice of words. Roy was trained in linguistics at the Universities of North Dakota and Oklahoma, as well as Indiana University. As a Wycliffe Bible Translator, Roy was trained to "translate in a way that does not read like a translation." As Roy puts it, "Any literary work calling itself a translation must be as understandable and idiomatic for the modern reader as the original was to the original readers of the content." After 30 years of applying this principle to the Agta New Testament, Roy applied the same principle to his English translation of the New Testament, calling it, The Living Water Translation. To read sample chapters, click here.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Down Under



By Australia_(orthographic_projection).svg: Ssolbergjderivative work: Roke (talk) - Australia_(orthographic_projection).svg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9397159

Since the year 2000, I have traveled the globe extensively, speaking on topics related to Christian education, from Europe, to South America, to Africa and Asia, as well as crisscrossing North America. What never ceases to amaze me is the number of like-minded Christians who are quietly and diligently working toward the same ends. The Spirit is moving all over the world, stirring the Body of Christ to fulfill its responsibility to pass on a “Christian mind” to the next generation.

One such tireless Christian school advocate is Dr. Richard Edlin, Director of Edserv International, a worldwide educational service organization based Down Under, in the kangaroo capital of the world—Australia.

Richard is originally from New Zealand, but has lived in various places around the world, including a stint in Bolivia as principal of a Christian school there. He is a well-known international speaker on topics related to Christian education. The Cause of Christian Education, now in its 4th edition, is his most popular book. In my opinion, it is one of the best and most thorough treatises on Christian schooling available today. His recently published little book for Christian parents, Thinking About Schooling, has been enthusiastically received.

At present, Dr. Edlin is focusing on “train-the-trainer” strategies, particularly between countries across the Asia/Oceania region, as well as speaking on "imagination and the Christian school," and mental health issues in Christian school communities. 

I’m pleased to announce that Dr. Edlin will be doing a speaking tour of the US in 2018.

The passion that Richard and his wife, Annette, share for Christian education is born out of their deep desire to see young people celebrating the Lordship of Christ over all of life, interacting humbly yet boldly with the world around them in all its dimensions, in every vocation. It’s a passion we both share.

Richard is also concerned about how Secularism is increasingly capturing the public space in Western countries. What is currently happening in the US is also happening Down Under. Last week, Richard sent me a stunning speech by a former Justice of the High Court of Australia, expressing in no uncertain terms his serious concerns about the direction things are going (and at such a rapid speed) toward shutting up Christians in the West. Check it out here.

You may contact Dr. Edlin at redlin@edservinternational.org.

Richard Edlin, Director of Edserv International.


Friday, November 3, 2017

Radical Teaching!



Martin Luther spent portions of his life in seclusion. The establishment did not appreciate his efforts to drain the swamp of anti-biblical practices. This is a 1521 painting of Martin Luther disguised as “Jonker Jörg,” an identity he took on while secluded at the Wartburg castle. This man looks haggard and stressed, to me. He paid a high price for his passion. (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Photo by nevsepic.com.ua.)

When the television series Biography addressed the question of the most important figure of the past millennium, they placed Johann Gutenberg first, Isaac Newton second, and Martin Luther third.

When members of the Religion Newswriters Association were asked to vote for the most significant religious story of the past 1000 years, the event that came out on top took place in 1517, when Martin Luther went public with 95 propositions supporting his contention that the Church's practice of selling "indulgences" (whereby people paid money to cut down their time in purgatory) was wrong and abusive, which, the newswriters said, “sparked a Protestant Reformation whose results are still being felt."

The 500th anniversary of that event was commemorated around the world last Tuesday. Has your church celebrated the kick-off of the Reformation?

We have a lot to celebrate with respect to Luther's courage and the Reformation that ensued. Luther is often acknowledged for his role in restoring great truths such as "Scripture alone," the "priesthood of all believers," and "saved by grace, not by works." But what is not often mentioned in Evangelical circles is Luther's radical teaching on the sacredness of all vocations. 

His teaching on this forgotten truth elevated the work of the milkmaid and the farmer to that of the pastor in the pulpit, and the monk in the monastery. Yes, this was radical teaching!

A few years ago, I had the privilege of video recording a conversation with Os Guinness, one of the most respected voices in the Evangelical world today, about the effects of the Reformation upon Western culture, and specifically the effects of Martin Luther's radical teaching on work. 

The Doctrine of Vocation was a powerful driver in the early Reformation, but it has been largely forgotten today. It begs to be recovered, and, by God's grace, this is something Worldview Matters and others are laboring to do. Our particular focus is on restoring theology of work to the standard curriculum of elementary and secondary schools, and to the hearts and minds of adults in the church.

An excellent book that deals specifically with Luther's Doctrine of Vocation is Gene Edward Veith, Jr's, God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life. I highly recommend it.

I invite you to view an edited version of my conversation with Os Guinness here.

Friday, October 27, 2017

In the City by the River Uzh


Meeting in the office of the Superintendent. On my left (wearing glasses) is Mr. M., and on my right is the Worldview Matters' board President at the time, John Taylor.  


Truth is stranger than fiction.

Several years ago, I received an invitation to train educators on how to incorporate Christianity into elementary and secondary education. This in itself was not unusual. It's what I do. But this invitation was quite unusual: the person inviting me was the superintendent of a large state-run school district, with some 20 schools and about 16,000 students. I had never been invited to do training at a state-run school before, let alone a whole district.

My first thought was this superintendent did not really know what he was asking. You see, my approach is "no-holds-barred" biblical, and I was concerned this poor soul would be fired for inviting me in. I was nearly certain he would be.

Just to make sure the superintendent knew what he was doing, I met with him in his downtown office (photo above), to discuss my "no-holds-barred" approach to biblical worldview contextualization of subject matter. During my visit, Mr. M. made this remarkable statement: "Restoring Christianity is more important to me than academics."

Was I dreaming?

When I heard him make this statement, I knew this man was serious. And fearless! Mr. M. was on a mission to restore basic Christian tenets to the hearts and minds of the next generation under his educational care. He told me he was concerned about the breakdown of the family, as well as the proliferation of drugs and crime. He believed a restoration of Christianity was the answer. Here was Noah Webster's vision, alive and well!

Was this superintendent dreaming?

Yes, he was! The man had already taken steps to restore the essential, biblical world-and-life-view to those within his jurisdiction. He showed me the curriculum they were using. It presented the basic tenets of Christianity in a manner that was sensitive to denominational differences. He had not been fired.

Where was this unusual Shangri-La? It was far, far away from the USA, in the City by the River Uzh, in Transcarpathia, Ukraine, just a stone's throw from Slovakia.

You...didn't think this was an American school district, did you?

Mr. M. lived under a painful "no-holds-barred" atheistic body-press by the Soviet Union until 1991, when Ukraine became an independent state. He experienced what society is like when Christianity is silenced, and he understood the high cost of losing it...as no American can comprehend. 

Yet.

To see what I encountered, click HERE.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bring This Great Civil Injustice Before The Bench

Every time you brush your teeth, pray "tea toss, Lord."

Photo by Scott Ehardt, Public Domain.

Apart from another Great Awakening, Bible reading and prayer will not be restored to state schools soon. John Dewey's non-theistic Common Faith is too deeply entrenched. The toothpaste has been out for too long, and cannot be put back in the tube.

But there's a better way.

Why not allow the tax dollars that I pay for the next generation's education go directly to the educational system of my choice?

As a property owner, about 50% of my real estate taxes go to the state-run schools in my area, and only to them. This tax is confiscatory, and if we do not pay it, my wife and I will lose our home. We are forced to financially support the only schools in town that are silent about the real world, and what it's for. This is not "neutral" education. Far from it! See The Underestimated Power of Silence.

Why can't I choose the kind of system I want to have receive the financial benefit of my educational tax dollars? This is the just way. If I were Jewish, and I wanted to support the Jewish schools in my city, why should I not have this choice? If I were Muslim, and I wanted to support the Islamic schools in my town, why should I not have this choice?

A parental voucher system can also be done (as some states are doing), but vouchers do not allow those without school-age children to have any say in the matter. We all have a stake in this. Every voice counts.

I'm for choice! If I want my tax dollars to support the Common Faith schools, let it be. But if I choose to support the Christian schools or homeschooling efforts in my area, why should I not be able to direct my educational tax dollars to those endeavors, without passing them through government hands at all? It's still for education, and it can still be confiscatory! People who cheat can easily get caught.

The current no-voice system is unjust, and it's time to toss the tea overboard.

Let the Christians, the Jews, and the Muslims, hire the toughest atheist lawyers the American Civil Liberties Union can offer, who will vigorously oppose the government preference for one faith over others, and toss the tea out. Let's bring this great civil injustice before the Bench, and fight fire with fire. 

While we can.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Indeed, Mr. Webster, Tell Us About It


Twelve days ago, in Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada, 59 people lay dead and over 500 were wounded in a shocking mass shooting. Depending on how "mass shooting" is defined, some sources say there are hundreds of cases per year in the US, while other sources say it's closer to dozens. Whether it's dozens or hundreds, it's a problem. People of all political persuasions agree this problem needs to be "fixed." But I have yet to hear a single mass media pundit even remotely suggest this problem might be linked to a gag order imposed on Bible reading in US elementary and secondary schools in the 60s, and the total absence of instruction in basic Christianity which used to be commonplace in our state-run schools. (Shocking, isn't it?) Could there be a connection here? It's time for a refresher course from one of our Founding Fathers, Noah Webster, who was once considered the "Schoolmaster of the Nation."

(Photo by Pobrien301, Public Domain)

Founding Father Noah Webster wrote that education was "useless without the Bible." His American Dictionary of 1828 included more biblical citations than any other reference volume of his day, and probably since.

In his Preface to that Dictionary (which shaped the way Americans spell, and influenced the way Americans thought), Webster 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."

Our problem now is, we want “freedom” without 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."

He went on: "...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."

Indeed, Mr. Webster, tell us about it.

Webster referred to the Bible as "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."  

In a letter to David McClure, written on October 25, 1836, Webster wrote: "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."

Dear reader, I submit that we are seeing an increase of lawlessness in this nation because we have been feeding our elementary and secondary students a steady diet of defective education since the 1960s, when the 10 Commandments were taken off the schoolroom walls, and Bible reading and prayer were declared unconstitutional. 

Tell that to those who wrote the Constitution. Webster would have a few choice words for us today. Thankfully, his words were written down. They are part of the historic record. This includes the record at the University of Washington, where I confirmed all of the above quotes, and documented them in Assumptions That Affect Our Lives.

Please read that book. And give a copy to a friend.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale



This painting, called "A Fair Puritan," is by E. Percy Moran, a US artist who created it in 1897. We've come a long way since that time, with respect to the image of Christians in our nation. Recently I wrote that Christianity is being demonized in the US. In the guest post below (used by permission), Philip Irvin shares one chilling example of a grotesque caricature of conservative Christians in pop culture that should concern us all.
(This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA)


Suppose a TV series presented a dystopian world where a religious group imposed something more severe than Shariah law. In this religious world, women were not only brutally subjugated and ritually raped but were also legally prohibited from working outside the home, owning property, handling money, or even reading. What would be the response to this series?
If the religious group were identified as Muslims, all those involved would be strung up by their thumbs and denounced as Islamophobiacs.
However:
If instead, the series vented its venom at conservative Christians, you would find that “the series [The Handmaid's Tale] garnered extremely positive reviews and won the 2017 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series, along with seven other Emmy Awards from 13 nominations."  
Please consider what would have happened if this level of venom were vented on any other group. What if the oppressing group were gays, blacks, or even not-in-the-news Hindus? But because this demonizes Christians it wins critical acclaim.
“The Birth of a Nation,” a movie about the Civil War and its aftermath, portrayed black men as unintelligent and sexually aggressive toward white women while portraying the Ku Klux Klan as a heroic force. This movie is credited with being one of the events that inspired the “second era” Ku Klux Klan that was formed in the same year, since the original Klan had died out decades earlier.
Do not be deceived into thinking that The Handmaid’s Tale is just harmless entertainment. Such a publicly acclaimed, grossly hostile representation of Bible-believing Christians is reminiscent of the displays of growing hostility toward Jews in pre-war Germany. This should cause conservative Christians concern.

Postscript by CO:
Recently, conservative Christian organizations have been dropped from credit card processing companies because they are deemed “hate groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. See the Ruth Institute and American Vision

For further SPLC branding, see D. James Kennedy Ministries. Other organizations painted by the "hate group" brush include: Traditional Values Coalition, Family Research Institute, and American Family Association.

This should give every evangelical church and conservative Christian service organization "cause for concern," as Philip Irvin put it. Is it only a matter of time before the "hate group star of David" is painted on your church or favorite Christian service organization? 

By the way, would your church or favorite Christian service organization qualify for the SPLC “hate group” list? 

If not, why not?

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