Forgiving Those Who Hurt Others

What can we teach our kids and students about forgiveness in this atmosphere of conflict that seems worse than ever?  Anyone who has been married for more than an hour, or is the parent of a teenager, understands there will be disagreements and hurt feelings in life because we all want our way.  What can be even more destructive is the pull to get even with the person or group who hurt us.  In his poem, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” Robert Fulghum notes one lesson to teach children is to, “Say you’re sorry when you have hurt somebody.”  True, but he only cites half the process when pain has resulted between two parties.  We need to apologize, but the victim must also agree to forgive.  That is not human nature.

Recall the story of Joseph in the final chapters of the Book of Genesis.  When Jacob died, the older brothers of Joseph panicked that he would now take revenge on them, since their father was gone.  Years earlier, they had sold him as a slave to Midianite traders when he was only a teenager.  Joseph was then purchased by the Egyptians like a piece of merchandise.  He suffered through many other miserable days too.  For example, he had been thrown into prison when falsely accused of a crime by the wife of a politically powerful man who worked for the Pharaoh himself.  

A few years later, and through miraculous circumstances, Joseph was elevated to second in command in all of Egypt, which brought him wealth, power and the ability to save his family and others from the ravages of a famine.  By the end of the story, Joseph had reunited with his father and brothers, who then settled in Egypt too.

But once their father was dead, the brothers asked each other, “What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him?” (Genesis 50:15)  They even approached Joseph with a likely fabricated story that their father’s deathbed wish was that Joseph would not seek retribution for the wrongs against him.  Obviously, Jacob did not want Joseph to kill his brothers, but they were desperately attempting to manipulate Joseph so he would not harm them and their families.  This wasn’t necessary.  Joseph responded to their fear with forgiveness.  He understood his role in a bigger story when he declared, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).  Joseph had the authority to execute his sheep-herding brothers for whatever reason he decided and nobody would have questioned it.  He chose forgiveness.

Joseph had been enslaved and falsely imprisoned, yet he not only forgave the individuals directly responsible, but promised to take care of their families too.  This act of love led to the birth of a nation.  It can seem simple for us in the 21stcentury to read this biblical account and applaud Joseph for his act of forgiveness, and to teach our students at school and children at home this virtue.  However, it is extremely difficult to forgive others who have hurt us deeply.  As C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.”  Quite right.

In the New Testament, Jesus taught about forgiveness too, and he presented the rather sobering truth that if we do not forgive those who have sinned against us, then our Father in heaven will not forgive us either (Matthew 6:14-15).  The world teaches that those who have been wronged deserve retributive “justice.”  True reconciliation begins when someone says “I am sorry,” and makes amends.  But the conflict will not truly subside until the one who was victimized agrees to forgive as well.  Why does Jesus expect us to respond this way?  Because every one of us is a sinner, who hurt and offended God’s divine justice, yet Jesus died for those sins, even though we did not deserve it and before we asked for it (Romans 5:8).

Guiding our students in the challenging process of forgiveness will bring them peace with God and peace with others too. And even more important is to instill in them Joseph’s understanding that God will bring good in the midst of circumstances that others meant for evil.  Hopefully, we as parents, teachers and leaders can model this truth about forgiveness in our own lives.

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Should We Be Raising Monks or Daniels?

“I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; for he is the living God and enduring forever, and his kingdom is on which will not be destroyed, and his dominion will be forever.” -King Darius

Many parents today are scared to death.  They are terrified about the future of their children and want to protect their sons and daughters from anything that could hurt them physically, spiritually, or otherwise.  Some parents even believe such fear is virtuous and because they care. 

As a Christian school leader, a theme I address on a regular basis with staff, students, and parents is that we seek “to graduate Daniels into Babylon,” influencers into a pagan culture increasingly hostile to biblical principles and faith.  Recall the story of Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, from the early chapters of the Book of Daniel.  The Babylonians removed these devout Jewish boys from their homeland and brought them into captivity in Babylon.  They were identified as some of the best and brightest of the Jews and selected to join the aristocracy of their new country.  They received the finest Babylonian education and learned history, science, math, philosophy and religion, all in conflict with their own Jewish upbringing and Mosaic Law.  Yet, Daniel continued to pray regularly, which got him into a lot of trouble with the authorities (Daniel 6).  The other three friends refused to bow to the golden idol set up by King Nebuchadnezzar and they got into a lot of trouble as well (Daniel 3).  God did not only save them from these situations, but blessed them.  The kings (different ones on each occasion) were so impressed with these men that the practice of their Jewish religion became legal.  Laws were changed because of them!  Their influence continues today.  Biblical historians recognize that during the Babylonian exile Jewish synagogues were established where Jews met to pray, read Scripture, hear a sermon, and worship God.  This meeting format was adopted by Christians for church services after the resurrection of Jesus and the Day of Pentecost.  What an impact these men had!

Fast forward to the Dark and Middle Ages Ages, which saw the rise of monasticism in the church.  Down through the centuries, some Christians believed it best to protect themselves from a corrupt world by detaching from society so they could live as faithfully and righteously as possible.  They built monasteries and convents in rural areas away from population centers.  Depending upon their monastic order, monks and nuns committed to various rules such as poverty, celibacy, silence, and heavy prescriptions of prayer and Bible reading.  

In theory, the purpose of seeking holiness seems commendable, and there were some fantastic monks, like St. Francis of Assisi, who served the sick and the poor, and is a model for all Christians.  But how does intentional isolation balance with Jesus’ teaching that his followers are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13-16)?  How does this reconcile with the influence of Daniel and his friends in Babylon who affected major change from positions within the government of Babylon (and then Persia)?  

We don’t protect our kids by isolating them, but by preparing them.  Let’s raise influencers who will impact the spheres of education, business, finance, medicine, law, politics, and Christian ministry. Don’t snuff out the light in our children, but let them shine bright in a world desperate for the hope that can only come through Jesus Christ.

In a practical sense, what can we do?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Set limits for your kids.  Give them boundaries for how much time they can spend online and always know who they are with.
  • Give them your time.  Kids need our approval and undivided attention more than we think.  
  • Forgive them when they have done wrong.  No one is perfect and when they cross the line of acceptable behavior, let them know, but then forgive easily.
  • Model a Godly lifestyle.  The kids are watching us closely and will value what we value (eventually!).
  • Don’t be afraid. Let’s show our kids the courage we want them to develop in their own lives.

Dr. Bill Maier, in his article, “How to Protect our Kids from Negative Influences,” says this, “As we seek to teach, train and protect our children, we may be tempted to isolate them in a Christian cocoon.  But Jesus told us to ‘go into all the world and preach the good news’ (Mark 16:15), and our kids can’t fulfill this command if we isolate them from the world.”  He is absolutely correct.  

Let’s raise up Daniels, rather than monks.  Monks separate themselves from the world, while Daniels change it.  

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Setting the School Climate: Bring the Energy!

As a school leader, one of my most essential responsibilities is to bring a positive attitude and demeanor as I sit in meetings, speak in public settings, or walk around campus engaged in one-on-one conversations. Next, I seek to hire joyful, and generally optimistic teachers and staff. Why is this such a priority for me? I believe it is paramount because the attitude of the administrative team, teachers, and coaches, filters all the way down into the students in the classroom, and sets the tone for the entire campus. If the teachers are happy, then the students are happy. And if the students are happy, then the parents are happy too (well, most of the time). The energy of the school leader, or lack of it, will brighten or darken the mood of the campus. As John Maxwell rightly notes, “People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.” And on a Christian school campus, we want everyone to feel love, joy, peace, and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

In his article entitled, “Three Reasons a Leader Must Have a Positive Attitude,” Kevin Eikenberry highlights these important points:

  1. You are in the energy business. The attitude and energy you bring to the office, classroom or basketball practice will be injected into your team and organization.
  2. Positive attracts. This is common sense wisdom. Would you rather follow a leader who encourages, or one who berates and belittles? Positive enthusiasm attracts others, and the best leaders understand that people follow them because of this.
  3. Positivity creates productivity. Research has shown that students learn best when they feel safe, happy, and cared for. The same principle applies to adults, although it looks a bit different. If you want to have a bigger impact on those you lead and serve, bring the encouragement while laying out goals and demands. Productivity and the bottom line will improve.

Believe me, I am aware that operating a private school is not for the faint of heart, since demands come from various quarters, including the board, parents, staff and students. Challenges exist even when things run smooth. The wisest and most experienced school leaders will still face those “divide the baby” moments on a regular basis (recall King Solomon and the two women arguing over who of them was the baby’s mother). Does the spring of 2020 ring a bell?

Let’s surround ourselves with happy and highly competent people, who love their work, and their students. But they must feel that from you too, because we are in the energy business. Your staff will appreciate your confidence and increase their trust in your leadership because of it. A bright and energetic school climate that is full of joy on the good days, and hope on the difficult days, will result in students and staff who are more successful in reaching their goals and fulfilling their purpose.

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The 2020 Pandemic and the Future of Remote Learning

Here we are together, enduring the pandemic of 2020. We exist in a no-man’s land, a wilderness, as we wait expectantly for the conclusion of the stay-at-home orders, and when life will return to normal, with shopping, eating at restaurants, youth soccer games, and school back in session on campus. This reminds me of the Israelites wandering in the Sinai Desert, attempting to reach their destination of the Promised Land. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks called the wilderness environment for Israel “liminal space.” It is a place that is neither here nor there. It is not the starting point, nor the destination, but the space between. The wilderness was crucial for the Israelites, not because nothing happened there, but because really important things did. It was not simply a journey of transition from slavery to freedom, but an experience of transformation, that changed the people for generations to come (Sacks, Covenant and Conversation, p. 42). We are journeying through our own “liminal space” as well, as many aspects of our lives will be transformed as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Remember Restaurants?

It is already being noted by educational leaders that schooling will be transformed due to the worldwide pandemic. There is a new reality that much of school can be conducted from locations other than from a desk in a classroom at a certain time of day. Even a couple of months ago, few people could have believed that so much learning could be accomplished remotely. For certain, it requires the right arrangement of computers, online learning platforms, high-speed internet capability, and so on. But if you compare these costs with the price tag of a brand new brick-and-mortar public school, these seem to be solvable problems.

It has been nearly 7 years since I wrote an article entitled, “Online Schooling: The Educational Wave of the 21st Century.” In 2013, I helped spearhead a bill in the State of Washington, which would allow private schools to offer online education in the same manner as public schools did. The Department of Education had originally rejected our application to add an online option at my current school, Renton Christian. I learned a lot as a nearby state representative sponsored a bill for us, and The Freedom Foundation provided the legal team needed in order to push this effort forward. One of the most enjoyable experiences for me was to testify before the Education Committee of Washington state, in order to persuade them as to the value and necessity of online schooling for private schools. Washington is an extremely liberal state and has maintained a reputation for making things difficult for private schools, as they did with us. The Freedom Foundation produced a video that narrates much of that legal process. In 2013, it was still quite novel for high school students to be educated with only their computer or IPad, and interfacing with a teacher far away. For the most part, students and parents assumed school could only be accomplished one way, with a live teacher in a classroom full of students. Times are changing.

Allowing Private Schools in Washington to Offer Online High School (2013)

Several universities have established already expansive online arms of their academics. For example, Grand Canyon University has about 20,000 students on campus, with an additional 70,000 online. Liberty University, enrolls 15,000 students on campus, while boasting 94,000 online students! And these are pre-pandemic numbers. Those are just a few examples of many.

When my family moved to San Diego from Seattle in 2017, my wife continued to work remotely in Human Resources for Microsoft. There seemed to be a mixed reaction as to whether that would be effective, but now she looks like a pioneer. This summer I will take an online master’s course in order to renew my superintendent certificate. Next fall, I will teach an online college course, “Theology and History Since the Reformation.“ Remote learning is becoming “normal,” more mainstream. Employers and school leaders should embrace this trend and determine the best ways to integrate the benefits remote learning provides, so that our employees, and/or students have increased opportunities for professional development and education.

Our wandering in the pandemic wilderness, living in this ”liminal space,” will end eventually. Be assured, we will not return to where we started, but hopefully to something better than we experienced in the past. These are exciting times!

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Don’t Bow to the Idol of “Safety”

moses-on-the-mount-3a-jpg“You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

After the Hebrews escaped Egyptian slavery and wandered in the wilderness toward the Promised Land (see the Book of Exodus), they were given many laws to be obeyed as the people of God (Exodus 20:1-17). One of the most egregious sins listed in the Law of Moses regarded idolatry, or worship of an image made of stone or metal. The Canaanites engaged in horrific religious rituals that included child-sacrifice.  Idolatry would inevitably lead to such behaviors, and unfortunately, the Israelites fell into the ideas and beliefs of the society around them.

Christians today do not worship statues of gods that are placed on their window sills or tables in their homes.  Nowadays, the idols pinpointed by pastors and teachers include sex, money and power, as perversions of these lead to destructive lifestyles that interfere with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Risen MovieDuring the Passion Week prior to Easter, I went through a five-day devotional entitled, “Risen,” which includes short clips from the movie of the same title, devotional thoughts, and passages from Scripture. Day two of the “Risen” devotional hit me right between the eyes and is called “The Idol of Safety.”

American society is obsessed with safety, which is a noble effort. We implement numerous safety policies and procedures at my school as children must be protected.  But there is a spiritual component that can negatively impact one’s faith.  I believe there exists a spirit of fear that has gripped many today, especially parents.  The author of the “Risen” devotional summarizes our generation,Safety First Sign

We are the most seat-belted, bike-helmeted, air-bagged, kneepad-wearing, private-schooled, gluten-freed, hand-sanitized, peanut-avoiding, sunscreen-slathering, hyper-insured, massively medicated, password-protected, valet-parked, security-systemed, inoculated generation in history—and all it has done is make everyone more afraid of everything.

Please do not send me the reasons why each of these items are enhancements to western civilization!  The point is that we can cross a line from being wisely cautious to irrationally paranoid about events we cannot control.  This fear about the world can erode our faith in God too.  Instead, the next generation of children need to develop into risk-taking entrepreneurs, unwavering leaders in our churches and communities, and fearless men and women who shape America’s future, with God’s help.

Daniel Refuse to Bow to IdolShadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow to the golden idol of Nebuchadnezzar even though everyone else in their society submitted (Daniel 3:8-30). This was not safe and resulted in their being thrown into the fiery furnace.  Unfortunately, for us and our children, we live in a society that demands we live in fear.  And if you aren’t scared, then you really don’t care.  Just watch the news, they will tell you why you should be terrified, with an accompanying video clip.

Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians facing an unsafe Roman Empire that fought the spread of the Gospel, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10).  Then, he instructed them regarding the full armor of God, metaphorically acknowledging the dangerous world in which we live, both physically and spiritually.  God’s people shouldn’t think, talk and act like fragile flowers easily blown over by a soft breeze. As the old Petra song says, “More Power to Ya!”

I pray we never elevate fear above faith.  For when our well-reasoned concern about safety becomes an obsession and we simply wait for the next disaster to strike, it has become an idol that must be eliminated from our life.  In God’s plan, doing the safest thing is not always the right thing.

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What Makes a Christian School Distinct?

Students PrayingOne of the most common questions I receive from prospective parents is “how is Renton Christian school different from the local public schools?”  Typically, the conversation revolves around how our standardized test scores compare with the students from local government-run schools.  The answer is not quite that simple.  Private schools do not take the same tests that public schools do, so it is not possible to create a spreadsheet that results in an apples-to-apples appraisal.  And it must be emphasized that standardized test scores are only one measurement of student progress, and probably not the main indicator of future student success.SAT Test

The primary purpose of public schools is very different than Christian schools.  The goal of a public school is for the maximum number of students to reach basic student literacy.  The goal of a Christian school is to develop a biblical worldview in students and to foster a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Such an approach to education not only prepares students for college, but transforms their lives.  See what I mean?  It is a challenge to compare public schools and Christian schools because we are not even doing the same thing.

A Christian philosophy of education is faith-based and asserts that the minds of Christian students can only reach their fullest potential by being enlightened by the mind of Christ.  The intellectual aim is to develop a biblical worldview within students, who are well-prepared to succeed in any academic discipline.  Students at a Christian school, such as Renton Christian, are expected to show accomplishment in a variety of areas, not all of which are directly curriculum-related.

First, accurately interpret the Word of God.  Bible is a foundational academic subject alongside the other academic areas and students will learn to apply biblical principles to all areas of thought and research.

student-giving-presentationSecond, master the skills of communication, which include writing and public speaking.  A Christian school should place a strong emphasis upon students’ ability to express themselves with the written word.  Plus, we press students early and often with opportunities to give presentations, reports and speeches in front of their peers and teachers.  This can happen in class, in chapel or an assembly.

Third, show proficiency in math and science.  No student can expect to succeed in the 21st-century without a thorough background in math and science.  While STEM has become one of the current marketing and political buzzwords of education today, the emphasis on math and science has always been, and always will be a foundational piece of Christian schools.

Fourth, understand history and the role of God in it.  Christian schools approach history from the perspective that the Almighty God moves time forward in his own providential way.  The Christian hope is in the all-powerful God who has authority over nations and rulers past, present and future.

Fifth, appreciate the creativity of the arts.  Music programs, such as choir and band, as well as drama programs are vital to quality Christian education.  The stage venues provide students and staff the milieu for creativity and expression of their God-given talents, who reflect the creativity of God in their pursuits.Emma Playing Flute- Close Up- Spring 2015

And sixth, reason and think critically.  This aspect covers a lot of areas, from Christian apologetics, to debate, to understanding the scientific method, just to name a few.  Students must be allowed to question academic dogma and the term “settled science” should never be allowed in a true intellectual setting.

As I circle back to the original question of “what makes a Christian school distinct?” one could discuss numerous other elements than space allows here.  I will conclude with this.  A Christian school is a competitive atmosphere filled with high-achieving students, teachers, and parents, all of whom want to see students reach their fullest potential in Christ, intellectually, spiritually, and otherwise.  For families who want to see their kids develop into confident, well-spoken, and academically-prepared students strong in their faith, then find a Christian school and enroll right away.  You won’t be disappointed!

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The Low Bar of Tolerance

“Tolerance” has become one of the cornerstone virtues of an “enlightened” and “compassionate” person, according to secular culture in America. Public schools aggressively teach students “tolerance” and present it as the ideal for someone who doesn’t believe in silly notions such as God, or even definitive right and wrong.
The irony of the proponents of tolerance is that they often smugly lecture Christians, who are viewed as intolerant and backwards.  While the world has set forth tolerance as the litmus test for sainthood, Jesus taught that love is the true test for his disciples.  But I submit that tolerating others, or simply “putting up with” people who look, act, and behave differently doesn’t make someone a wonderful person.  It’s not a challenge to jump over such a low bar.

LoveOneAnotherJesus clearly expressed how his followers must live: love God, love your neighbor, and even love your enemies.  Let’s imagine Jesus taught a Gospel defined by tolerance rather than love. Here is how some biblical passages would read:

  • “For God so tolerated the world that He gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16).
  • “A new command I give you: Tolerate one another.  As I have tolerated you, so you must tolerate one another” (John 13:34).
  • “By this everyone will know that your my disciples, if you tolerate one another (John 13:35).”

These passages do not have the same ring.

Can you imagine if Christians only tolerated people rather than loved them? I could give it a shot.  Maybe tomorrow morning I will wake up and tell my wife, “Honey, I promise to tolerate you today.”  I don’t think that will spur on any romantic moments in the near future.  Or, I could pat myself on the back for reminding my son and daughter how much I tolerate them each day.  How would that make them feel?  Far less valuable then when I tell them I love them.

But apparently, tolerance is the standard we ought to achieve.  The reality is that tolerance is the Common Core of relationships; a low standard packaged as a spectacular new advance in human progress.  Jesus taught something different.  We need to love others unconditionally by putting their needs above our own.  We need to further love others by sharing with them the love of Jesus who died for their sins.  To withhold this message is the opposite of love and allows your friends, neighbors and enemies to continue living destructive lifestyles that harm themselves and others.tolerancegkchesterton

And for those who religiously believe that tolerance means acceptance of others, please know that it actually means that you stand for nothing.  And for some in America today standing for nothing is the ultimate of all virtues.  The non-virtue virtue.  Instead, let’s allow God to produce the fruit of the Spirit in our hearts and minds: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  Only in this we will find peace, joy and salvation in the God who loves us, and doesn’t merely tolerate us.

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“The One Who is Unwilling to Work Shall Not Eat”

Reading from the Book of Proverbs is a smart way to start each day, especially since it contains God’s wisdom that can be applied easily to our lives today.  One of the subjects addressed repeatedly is hard work vs. laziness.  It is universally accepted that a person who works hard is more admirable than a slacker.  Every parent instinctually understands that they should teach their children to work hard rather than to strive to be a lazy couch potato.  According to Proverbs, one’s work ethic is a reflection of one’s heart for God.

couchpotatoPositive benefits and characteristics for the person who works hard include:

  • Increased wealth (10:4)
  • Abundant food (12:11)
  • Granted supervisory roles at work (12:24)
  • Earn profits (14:23)
  • Become skilled at your work (22:29)

 

 

On the other hand, there are numerous consequences and characteristics of the lazy person:

  • Become poor (10:4; 14:23)
  • Irritate your employer (10:26)
  • Go hungry (19:15)
  • Love sleep (20:13; 24:33-34; 26:14)
  • Make excuses for why you cannot work today (22:13; 26:13)

And to put it in a New Testament context, it is contradictory for a lazy person to claim to be a follower of Christ.  The Apostle Paul established a rule with the Thessalonian Christians, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).  Apparently, in 1st century Thessalonica, there were lazy Christians living off the earnings of other Christians who did work, and this was to be prohibited among God’s people.

Seahawks quarterback, Russell Wilson, is transparent about his Christian faith and a perfect example of hard work.  His work ethic is quickly becoming legendary.  He is up at 6 AM every day, including the off-season, breaking down film of opposing defenses.  Then he writes reports, which he gives to his wide receivers to study.  Not everyone thought this was a wonderful approach when he was first drafted.  It has been noted that wide receiver Golden Tate thought he was too serious and over the top, but now has been won over by Wilson’s dedication, because he recognizes the results.Russell Wilson

Russell makes no apologies for his intensity as he discusses his work ethic in a recent article from nfl.com:

“I believe in my talent,” he said. “I believe in everything that I’ve been given. I expect to play at a high level, and I expect to be fighting for a Super Bowl every year. I put all the hard work in, and I expect great things when I put the hard work in. Like I always say, the separation is in the preparation.”

There are many elements of life that are out of our control, but our effort at work or school is our decision.  This is one of the most important choices we can make and model for our children and those who know we are Christians.  As we have chosen to follow Jesus, chosen to love one another, let’s choose daily to be productive members of society.  It is only when we earn profits and increase our wealth that we can help those in need.  I pray that God will grant each one of us the motivation and self-worth as disciples of Jesus to put forth our best effort, so that we can be a blessing to others.

Go Hawks!

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Online Schooling: The Educational Wave of the 21st Century

What an exciting time to be a Christian school administrator! This fall, Renton Christian has launched a new online high school. The effort to bring this to fruition was difficult and took a couple of years, but we are now operational. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington initially denied us permission to start our online campus, despite the fact that public school districts around the state had online students. Through the efforts of state representative Mark Hargrove and the Freedom Foundation, we were able to pass into law the ability for private schools in our state to offer online courses for students who choose this path for their education. Renton Christian is basically the pilot program as this new era of private schooling has begun in the state of Washington.  The narrative of our legislative efforts is well-told in this video.

tablet-surfaceThe face of education in America is changing quickly, primarily due to technological advancements, and quickly improving online curriculum and vehicles for delivering it. Tablets are replacing textbooks.  Technology is not an obstacle for today’s students, called “digital natives,” as it might be for their parents or grandparents, but an often-used tool with which they are quite comfortable.  I strongly believe that teachers and administrators who insist on doing school the same way it’s been done for the past several decades, may well become as irrelevant in the 21st century as the one-room school house became in the 20th century.

There are numerous benefits to online thCALF4RNDschooling, but a few include: it’s more cost-effective for a budget than to manage than a brick-and-mortar school, the rigorous academic programs are more accessible to a wide range of socio-economic levels, the format offers a more intense level of scrutiny over each student, the program offers a freedom and flexibility to study at the times and pace of a student’s choosing, and it prepares students for the type of learning they will be pressed into at college and for professional development in the 21st century work force.

I am thrilled to be part of this new wave of education and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for those courageous enough to ride it.

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Are You a Saul or a David? Do You See the Future with Fear or Faith?

As a Christian school administrator, the summer grants me time to reflect on the successes and failures of the past year.  But it also allows me to ponder the next school year and beyond. The burden and responsibility of so many students, staff, and the finances of Renton Christian can be daunting if I put too much thought into it.  As I look to the future of my leadership at Renton Christian, I ask myself and God, will it be successful, or not?

When I feel this way, I am reminded of what Phil Tuttle, the president of “Walk Thru the Bible” wrote, “Many times God puts us in situations that we don’t understand and don’t feel equipped to handle” (The Crucible, workbook, p. 21).  Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Let’s put that in simple terms.  Even though we don’t understand everything and can’t see the future, God does.  We can put our faith in him, rather than live in lonely fear.

In 1 Samuel the stories of Saul and David intertwine.  Saul was the first king of Israel and David would later become king #2.  These were very different men whose lives went opposite directions.  Saul functioned out of fear and David functioned with faith about the future.  Saul’s life ended with an appointment with a witch, followed by a violent death.  David’s lineage resulted with the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, hundreds of years later.  The Goliath story exemplified the difference between the fearful king and the faithful king.  King Saul cowered in his tent while Goliath taunted the Israelites and God.  But the teenager David became righteously angry, stepped up, and killed Goliath.

Are you like Saul or David?  Saul could certainly justify his fear.  “Have you seen the size of that guy out there?  He’s huge and will kill me if I face him!”  What fears about the future are you justifying?  Are there habits, illnesses, broken relationships, past hurts, and financial problems that you use to excuse your attitude of fear about the future?  David didn’t care that Goliath was large, but that he was an enemy who must be defeated at all costs.  All of us have Goliaths to face, but what will make the difference is whether we handle it like Saul or David.

Do you have fear or faith about your future?  Please don’t listen to the news, politicians, or even other Christians, who want to tell you how terrible things are and that it’s only going to get worse.  A terrible future is not what God has planned for you.  In Jeremiah 29:11, the Lord declared, “I know that plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  God knows your future already, will prepare you for it, and will be with you every step of the way.  And because of that, every follower of Jesus Christ can live in faith, and not fear, about the days ahead.

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