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The Way They Should Go

There is a way that children should go. It is a straight and narrow way. It is a way that will lead them to right living, moral uprightness, respect for authority, care for others, and love for God.

It is the role of parents and those they call on to help them, to train up their children so that when they mature into adulthood, they will stay the course. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

Our post-Christian culture is sending a message to Christian children that their parents are out-of snyc with the new normal. It is packaged as a generational difference; religious adults are holding on to old-fashioned values while the rest of the world is showing tolerance, respecting diversity, and fighting for the civil rights of oppressed people. Many Christian kids are caught in the middle. They want to honor and obey the teachings of their parents on one hand, but are barraged by changing cultural norms that are reinforced by celebrity media, Facebook friends, and even the White House. Parents are playing defense and hunkering down but this storm won't be weathered soon.

For two millenia, Christians at odds with the culture have survived their minority status by providing their children with an important support system - the Body of Christ. Children have been raised and influenced not just by parents, but by significant other adults that have served to reinforce the Biblical values and principles that have given them identity as followers of Christ. Extended family, neighbors, church and school leaders, scoutmasters and others have provided reinforcement which forms in children Biblical identity.

Sadly, the pillars of people support are eroding and kids have never been more isolated. Alone in their bedrooms with their screens, they are learning about the world from Google and You-tube. The biblical foundation that mom and dad have established in the home is under seige by a culture that demands conformity to a new set of ideals.

This is where Christian schools have such high impact. A Christian community of students, parents, teachers, and coaches, will form in children the reality of Christian identity. Ehics and values, drawn from the Scriptures and reinforced by adults and older students, provide a good framework for Christian child development. This simply won't happen with a child and his Bible app. People need people and young people need lots of them. Christian schools are an anchor for children in a society that has lost its way because they provide great role models that re-inforce Biblical living. In the world of Christian schooling, our superheroes are ordinary people that help parents by stepping into the lives of children, demonstrating for them the way they should go.




I Can't Help But Wonder

One of the beautiful things about children is their curiosity. Life is new to them and they think and wonder about things all the time.

We have all noticed how frequently they inquire why things are as they are. But what happens to a society when its children stop wondering? When the answers to questions become a click away, does the actual thinking process in children become compromised?

The mental process of thinking, pondering and reasoning calls for something in short supply today - time. Good teachers understand that when they ask a student a question, they must allow for processing time because the physiological development of a child's capacity to think has not reached full maturation. Simply put, kids need more time to process than adults. Unfortunately, modern media doesn't want to wait. In today's marketing bombardment, selling products to kids or their parents calls for image to trump information. The feel good takeaway has become the norm in sound bite advertising and consumer processing time disrupts this flow. We have become a "right now" culture and waiting is not only passe, it's irritating. Nobody likes a slow computer, a slow movie, or a slow coffee pot. Patience, once a virtue, has become replaced by velocity- we demand immediate delivery of information and services and we're training our children to live that way.

When the demand for information surpasses the natural pace of human thought, we have to wonder about the cost, not only to our children, but to society at large. Benjamin Franklin wondered about losing most of the heat up the chimney; his wondering gave us the Franklin stove. Mark Zuckerberg wondered about personalizing the computer and Facebook was born. American innovation has rested on the concept of thinking and wondering to improve the human condition. When a society diminishes its wondering because individual curiosity is no longer necessary, will that civilization's lifespan be near completion?

A low thinking culture affects our children the most. In their formative years, when kids need touch, spoken words, human interaction, books, and most importantly, time to ponder, we are providing them with digital stimulus way beyond their capacity to digest. We may be innoculating them from the very cognitive development they require to become adults.

It is most unfortunate that our society has come to value answers more than questions. Asking questions, in true Socratic tradition, is essential for proper cognitive development. When a child muses "what if I do it this way" or, "if I add one more, what will happen", that child's brain is exercising the same way his legs are when he rides a bicycle. Children need a hypothesis to ponder not another button to push.

Kids that wonder out loud soon learn that the world is full of people with gadgets who want to short-circuit curiosity. Well-meaning friends are quick to provide information that answer questions and solve problems. For some of us, we don't have a problem and are not looking for a solution. We actually enjoy a good wonder. The cognitive process of thinking, musing, and pondering things is good for the brain - isn't that why we have one?

A life of beauty and creativity requires wonder and wonder requires time. Slow is the natural rhythm of childhood. We have been created to think deeply, it is this ability that allows us to pursue our Maker and comprehend His majesty.If a child fails to exercise his mind in his early years, will he be forever relegated to superficial thinking? We all want children to reach their potential, why not their potential to think deep thoughts? Wonder is a gift from God that no man or gadget should take from us.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." (Ecclesiastes 3:11a)

Non-Critical Thinking

There are about fifty million children in America's schools today. Christian schools instruct a very small percentage of them. The government schools overwhelmingly educate our young people.

Most people accept this. A common perception is that all schools teach math, science, social studies, literature, and offer additional elective courses. Where kids get their education is of less importance than the fact that they get one. The high school diploma caps the thirteen year process.

Today's emphasis is on 21st century skills and in particular, "critical thinking". This is promoted as analysis, the questioning of the status quo, challenging accepted authorities. Traditional benchmarks of society, i.e. the Constitution and the police, are being put on trial by an emeging generation not satisfied with life as we have known it. In the name of critical thinking our government is using the vehicle of education to shape the reasoning of a generation. Their success is amazing.

Christian education teaches children to look at life from a different starting point than themselves. The Creator established our reality and He didn't offer much negotiation. When the Son of God states "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me," you believe Him or you don't. When it comes to the basic structures of life: authority, gender, responsibility, etc. there is not much room in God's economy for critical thinking. American schools are instructing students to be "open" and come to their own conclusions often based upon what's trending or what's polling. Christian schools are teaching their students to be open to God and embrace His ways and His Kingdom. When schools promote globalism over nationalism, when they revise the historical record to achieve cultural correctness, when they endorse deviant and immoral behavior, they have transitioned from places of learning facts and skills to agents of social change. It happens in North Korea all the time. Must it happen here, paid for by the tax payers?

There is a place for critical thinking in the classroom if we are discussing politics, economic theories, philosophy or literature. But if critical thinking has come to mean challenging the Judeo-Christian principles taken from the Bible and incorporated into the foundation and infastructure of our nation, we have lost our compass and have become a nation adrift.

Ironically, Christian schools, often criticized for repressing free thinking in their students are actually producing the most liberated. True freedom is not defining your own reality, it's discovering God's.

Light and Darkness

Ohio in October can't be beat. Crisp weather, harvest moons, vivid colors. God's creation is at its finest and when you know the Creator, it's awesome. Enter Halloween - darkness, evil, perversion, death. The Bible tells us that even though light has come into the world, men love darkness rather than the light. (John 3:19).

In our day, children are exposed to a bombardment of darkness and evil everywhere they turn. I don't believe the answer is to escape the culture and hide, but I do believe that Christians should heed the Lord's instruction in Deut. 18:9 "When you enter the land which the Lord gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations." The biblical instruction to be in, but not of the world should press every Christian parent to examine their perspective and participation in Halloween.

Halloween is a big money-maker and it is perpetuated by people wanting to "let loose" for a night. It has truly become an adult holiday, complete with horror films, and immorality. One of the best things we can do for our children is teach them that our identity with Christ and His kingdom, means non-participation in some of the things in this world. Sadly, some parents don't want their kids to miss out of the fun so they substitute Christian alternatives. But the teachable moment is lost. Christians should miss out on evil and "suffer"  rejection from their contemporaries. Isn't this part of their training as young disciples? Isn't this what Jesus fortold -that they would suffer because of their association with Him? Why would parents rescue their kids from this valuable lesson just to keep them happy and included.

Many Christian young adults grow up culturized and have a hard time discerning right from wrong and good from evil. Their participation in activities that are grievious to God have desensitized them from distinguishing between light and darkness. They have never sufferd as a Christian or been ridiculed for their faith. Their parents always found a way to make them feel included with diversions and substitute activities. They grew up being in and of the world.

Halloween has its origins in fear and evil. It provides Christian families a great opportunity to "just say no" to darkness and strengthen their identity as followers of a God who is the Light of the World. Our society is fascinated with death. Our message is life. Let's not confuse our kids.

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