God’s School

It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible.

                                                                             –George Washington

George Washington was considered to be a wise man whose faith in God gave him great wisdom.  When we consider  the incredible task of raising our children, it’s difficult to imagine teaching our children to navigate the world without God’s constant guidance, just as we use His Word in our daily lives.

Henry Ward Beecher said it this way,

The Bible is God’s chart for you to steer by, to keep you from the bottom of the sea, and to show you where the harbor is, and how to reach it without running on rocks or bars.

When we were considering homeschooling our first children, we were not certain if we should or how we should do so. Prayer led us to be certain that it was indeed the path God wanted us to take, and God opened doors to very solid Christian curriculum with which we could begin.

It was only natural, therefore, that our children be immersed in God’s Word in each of their daily studies. Bible study was a big part of our daily learning, but we also found God’s wisdom in the absolute perfection of math, the events of history, and the incredible wonders of science.

When children begin reading with Bible stories, they feel a strong attachment to the Bible and the people and stories it contains.  Our first stories were of God’s Love—the creation story, His guidance through life’s trials, and His promise given through the life of Jesus.

So great is my veneration of the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectable members of society.   –John Adams

John Adams words are quite true. If we can connect our children to God and His word at an early age, they will garner great wisdom as they progress through childhood into adulthood.  They will learn the all important skills of respect, self discipline, work ethic, faith, and so much more.  Most important, they will know that they can find answers to life questions by turning to the Bible and prayer, rather than following people who may not be bound by God’s authority.

Matthew Hale summed it up by saying,

There is no book like the Bible for excellent learning, wisdom, and use.

As babies, our children learn to trust parents, to follow their examples.  Leading our children to the Bible at an early age and encouraging them to stay close to God will give them a solid foundation to hold them during those difficult times.

Our most important task as parents is to teach our children to follow God relentlessly.  Combined with that, we need to teach them how to learn, including how to learn from the Bible.  Using these skills, they will be ready to learn the school subjects and well beyond, while serving God and His world in the way that He leads.

Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.   –Proverbs 22:6

Exploring Nature with Sounds and Textures

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Unfortunately I don’t have a video for you this time, but I do have two great nature hike activities that will help you explore God’s world with your senses.  The first is a listening walk, and the second is a texture adventure.

Listening Walk

Featured Book: The Listening Walk by Paul Showers

Creator Connection:The story of Elijah and the still small voice

Activity: Go on a listening walk and a sound scavenger hunt. Here is the scavenger hunt card we used.

Other Ideas:

Play a game of sound bingo – identify which sounds are nature sounds.

Keep a bird or nature book with you. Keep track of the different kinds of birds and animals you hear.

 

Texture Adventure

Featured Book: If You Find a Rock by Peggy Christian and Barbara Hirsch Lember

Creator Connection: Healing the ten with leprosy – this was a disease that caused pain and no one wanted to touch the leapers.  Can you imagine a world where no one would touch you?

Activity: Go on a texture walk. Be prepared to get dirty and feel lots of things. Take paper and crayons to make rubbings of bark and all sorts of various textures. (You can turn these rubbings into a book when you get back.)

Other Ideas:
Gather safe (non-bug) items on your walk and place them in a paper bag.  At the end of the walk, have everyone try to guess what the items are by feeling them only. Take it a step farther and share how that item reminds you of Jesus in nature.

Most importantly, have fun getting out in nature and enjoying God’s wonderful creation together!  I would love to see your pictures and hear your stories about the fun adventures you have in God’s back yard!

 

You Are Not Alone

It's all about communityWhat is the purpose of The Church? Why is The Church in existence? I’m not talking about your local church (lowercase), or even a particular denomination. I’m just curious as to why The Church (uppercase) exists?

We could then ratchet this conversation down and ask, why do we go to church (the weekly worship service)? What is the value of that experience? But before you pull out a bunch of Bible texts and bombard me in the comments, let me tell you what I’ve concluded.

First, of course, there is the Great Commission. We are here to make disciples (Matthew 28). Then, as Jesus tells us in John 17, “they will know us by our love for one another.” Obviously, Sabbath is a big deal – we don’t need to say more about that.  And finally, the writer of Hebrews tells us we shouldn’t “forsake the gathering together.” However, I believe there are other reasons – both spoken and unspoken.

Many would argue that The Church exists to teach and maintain proper behavior. Some would say that collectively we are stronger as a whole, than we are in parts. Still many, though loathe to admit it, will say we need the collective wisdom and teaching in order to stay on the straight and narrow path. I would like to propose a bigger idea.

Church is about community (read: common-unity). Not a club, or a civic organization. Not a non-profit committed to good works. Not merely a gathering of people. Rather, a collective of souls who seek to connect in real, authentic, relevant, and experiential intimacy. A group that desires accountability, wholeness, and shared experiences that draw us into a healthy, holistic body.

I believe this can be replicated outside of of Christianity, but not to the depth that the Body of Christ can achieve. I also believe it will not be easy, not without struggles and pain, and not without real commitment. However, without truly seeking this community, we are going to be lonely, mediocre, and disconnected.not alone

I’ve been following a thread on the SDA Homeschool Moms Facebook group. It started with an anonymous posting of a Mom feeling left out of her local church activities because of her childcare responsibilities. Several others have chimed in and shared similar stories. As a Daddy blogger who follows parenting blogs, I’ve seen similar conversations elsewhere. It’s a common thread. But it saddens me when I see it within the context of Church. We have such greater potential.

There was a time when weekly church services provided the only opportunity to acquire biblical instruction, music, entertainment, and socialization. Those days have passed. We can get all of the above electronically or through other media. What we need, what our society needs – what Moms (and Dads) need, is community. True, relevant, heart-felt, and intimate connections with people who love us.

Please don’t get me wrong – there’s still a need for solid biblical instruction, worship, friendly socialization, and encouragement for good behavior. But we need more. This isn’t an either/or proposition, this is a both/and concept. Given that the Adventist Church does theology and doctrine well, can we move on to the next level? Given that we understand the 2300 days and the Three Angels’ Messages, is it time to represent an Acts 2 community?

ConnectionsCan we, as parents, drop our own pretenses, prejudices, and perjoratives; stop being fearful of true community; and bare our souls in ways that endear us to one another? Can we be the change we wish to see in the Church? Can we stop the Mommy Wars, the judgmentalism, and the sideways glances? Can we die to self in order that others may live – truly live?

There was a time when I prayed for revival in my Church. I longed for revival, but felt weak and hopeless in my own heart. I prayed that God would raise up a revival so I could jump on board. His answer back to me was it had to start with me. #sigh  A few weeks later, I asked God to create a revival in my small group. “Please Lord.” I asked. “I can’t do this alone. I need others in order to experience real revival.” Again, the same answer came back. It has to start with me.

I don’t like this answer. It feels lonely, hopeless, and desperate. Sometimes my Wife reminds me that I’m not alone. There are 7000 who have not bowed to Baal. We are not alone she says.

And to all the Moms who struggle to care for whiny, pooping, crying, hungry, mess-making, bickering, fighting, homeschooled kids – I offer this reminder: You are not alone.

Seriously. No matter how lonely it feels, no matter how isolated you are, no matter what your circumstances. You are not alone.

Inculcation

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Teaching as a part of child training is not simply a matter of giving instructions to be either accepted or rejected.  Teaching provides the explanation for rules for which the child then becomes accountable.  As with any teaching that is designed to reach the objective of inculcation, the child must be required to demonstrate that he has learned the desired lesson; in other words, he must pass the test.”

Richard Fugate

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inculcation

[in-kuhl-key-shuh n]
noun
1. the act of inculcating, or teaching or influencing persistently and repeatedly so as to implant or instill an idea, theory, attitude, etc.
.
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It is God’s desire that parents should be to their children the embodiment of the principles laid down in His Word. Let them make it their aim to train their children for God. To keep the feet of their children in the narrow path will call for faithful effort and constant prayer, but it is possible to train the children and youth to love and serve God. It is possible to inculcate the principles of righteousness, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little, until the desires and inclinations of the heart are in harmony with the mind and will of God. When fathers and mothers realize the responsibility resting upon them, and respond to the appeals of God’s Spirit in behalf of this neglected work, there will be seen in the homes of the people transformations that will cause the angels to rejoice.

Ellen White, Counsel to Parents pg 52

Try Something New

How many of you have your kids involved in outside clubs or activities? I have found this so helpful for our family, especially as I’m not an enthusiastic, crafty, creative homeschooler like many. My son has been in Pathfinders for nearly a year now, and it has helped us cover ground that he probably should have trod previously, but has never had the opportunity to due to a mostly undomestic mom (that would be me).

This year his club did an honor in blacksmithing — okay, he totally would not have gotten to do that with me anyway — and one in card making. Some children might revel in crafty projects and colored paper and messy paints at home…but for him it was a new experience. In my defense, this is also why I have him enrolled in an art class, so that he can get those great creative experiences without my input.

The Pathfinder honor he is now working on is baking. Unfortunately, or so I thought, they ran tight on time, and all the Pathfinders had to pick something to bake at home. My son was possibly even less enthusiastic about this than I was, but we sorted through some old recipes and actually came up with a good one — strawberry bread.

Since he’d had it before and remembered liking it, his excitement level grew a bit. I helped him with the few tips I knew — read the whole recipe first, assemble all your ingredients, pull out all the bowls you’ll need, go ahead and turn on the oven, rinse as you go, etc. — and he jumped in bravely.

Tip from Mom: Clean as you go!

Tip from Mom: Clean as you go!

There were some general discernment skills used to figure out which spoon was tablespoon and which was teaspoon, and which size bowl made sense to use for dry versus wet ingredients; and I discovered that you have to explain things with greater detail and much patience when working with someone who has rarely been in the kitchen except to unload the dishwasher. It was a good learning experience for both of us.

In any case, he measured and stirred. He debated the wisdom of vanilla versus almond. He experimented with mixing spoons and smashers to discover the best technique. And eventually, he got eight mini-loaves of strawberry bread into and out of the oven. Delicious!

The baker proudly places his craft in the oven.

The baker proudly places his craft in the oven.

I watched as he carefully and proudly pulled his final product out to cool. It was good reminder to try to more faithfully include him in all of the household activities, even when I know it will slow me down. I encourage you to do the same, if you don’t already, and also to look into those marvelous activities — like Pathfinders — that can sometimes prod growth in parent as well as child.

He was happy with his new skill, and his bread was truly delicious. Three loaves were hoarded for home, and he took the rest to Pathfinders to share.

He was happy with his new skill, and his bread was truly delicious. Three loaves were hoarded for home, and he took the rest to Pathfinders to share.

By the way, Micah’s recipe is below for any who might like to try it.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland,” Isaiah 43:19.

MICAH’S BERRY BREAD

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar (we use half white, half brown)
1 cup oil (we use 1/2 coconut oil, 1/2 applesauce)
1 tablespoon vanilla or almond extract
2 cups flour
1 cup quick oats
1 tablespoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups crushed strawberries or blueberries (leave some chunks for best flavor; if you don’t have a full two cups, supplement with banana)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Beat eggs and sugar
Add oil and vanilla/almond
Mix in flour, oats, cinnamon, soda, salt, and baking powder
Add berries and mix well
Pour into greased and floured pans — two 4x8inch loafs, or one-plus mini loaf pans
Bake 4×8 for an hour, or mini loaves for 30-40 minutes (adjust for altitude)