Learning Church History, Using Keepers of the Flame

One of our favorite subjects in the Ross family home school, is history. One aspect of history which I’ve always included, is Seventh-day Adventist church history.

In the past, I’ve shared reviews of a couple books we’ve used, one about Ellen White when she was a girl, and one about Lucy Miller (William Miller’s daughter). This time, I’d like to talk about the video series, Keepers of the Flame.

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Keepers of the Flame is an 8-part video series. Through the series, we learn the great stories of faith and controversy that led to the emergence of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Dr. Allen Lindsay takes us to locations in Europe, North America, and Australia. Through each of the eight episodes, dramatic vignettes capture the greatest moments of Martin Luther, the Waldenses, Calvin, Zwingli, and John Knox.

Also covered is the life of Ellen White, her ministry as God’s messenger, her vision about health, and how her prophetic gift influenced the early church.

The Keepers of the Flame series can be viewed Wednesday mornings on 3ABN. My children have viewed it so many times now, they probably feel like they have them memorized!

If you don’t have access to 3ABN, you can watch them on YouTube.

If you’d rather own the DVDs yourself, you can purchase them through the Adventist Book Center, Amazing Facts, or Amazing Discoveries.

You can read reviews on my blog; click on the tab “Reviews” or “Categories” label Product Reviews.

Excellence

Broken WheelAdventist Education has a proud reputation for academic excellence. If you are anything like me, that statement caused a visceral reaction in your soul. Most people, in the system, are only referring to the institutional, brick and mortar schools where less than half (42%)* of Adventists enroll their children. Rarely does this statement include the approximately 4% of kids who are home educated. But academics shouldn’t be our only metric, should it?

Several years ago, when my wife and I were starting a church in Colorado, we participated in the Christ-centered, biblically-oriented, Focused Leader program that enabled us to discover our core values and personal vision statement. During that process, I discovered my core values. Not surprisingly, leadership, teamwork, adventure, and excellence were near the top. Interestingly, relationships also popped up. Of course these values correspond well for a church planting pastor, but I initially wrestled with the correlation between excellence and relationships.

In The Church (uppercase = The Bride of Christ), excellence seems to take a back seat to relationships. For instance, often aging LOLs (little old ladies) often continue to be church pianists well past their prime, simply because we don’t want to offend anyone by asking a younger, more qualified musician to play the piano. We see this fear of offending in all areas of the church, often at the expense of excellence. How can I, as a leader and innovator, possibly reconcile this dichotomy?

TeamworkA few years ago I found myself pastoring in a rural, multi-church district with a small school. One night, after a presentation by the conference education superintendent espousing the stellar standardized test scores of our students, I asked a question. “How are we doing in the area of discipleship?” There was a long, pregnant pause in the room. A few months later, in addition to being the pastor, I was asked to be the interim principal of the school. I continued to ask this question – and I still ask it. Sadly, I’ve never received an answer.

Excellence is measured in many ways. Institutions tend to measure easily measureable data – bodies, buildings, and bucks. It is easy to measure membership and attendance, the size and cost of our capital projects, especially buildings, and how much money we receive, spend, and save. It is much more difficult to measure relationships, discipleship, leadership effectiveness, and quality of services. But not impossible.

Although institutional Adventism has not yet established appropriate benchmarks to measure the quality of discipleship, relationships, and effectiveness, that doesn’t mean that we don’t know it when we see it. This is why we’ve chosen to home educate our children.

Happy KidsIn addition to quality education, we choose to pursue excellence in family dynamics, discipleship, and to provide many other opportunities for our kids. Home educating allows us to let our boys run free in the outdoors and not be confined to an indoor desk. Our girls can be free of the societal pressures and bullying that force them to grow up too soon. We parents, who choose this option for our kids can prayerfully model a walk with Jesus that is tailored to their individual needs.

Since learning my own core values, I’ve learned that excellence isn’t just about measureable metrics, task completion, or high academic standards. More bodies, bigger buildings, or better balance sheets are not the only measure for excellence. For me, and many of us, happy, spiritual, and strong kids are what we desire. More than anything, our focus is not about propelling our kids into a high-paying career. Our focus is that our children walk with Jesus – always. This is true excellence.

* Note: Data above is from an unpublished email detailing stats from an unnamed conference education department.

 

The Best Bargain Bookstore

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I have 122 items in my home that don’t belong to me.  The loot consists of books, cds and dvds.  That’s alot of merchandise to have squirreled away.  It’s like a pirate having a treasure chest containing $2000  worth of gold coins, maybe more.  The good news is I can still sleep at night.  No worries here, the only punishment I might face is 5 cents a day, no jail time.  What crime would I be guilty of?  Just an overdue item.  You see, I didn’t have to sail the seven seas to find this treasure or take from someone else what didn’t belong to me.  The employee at the building up the street gladly hands it over when I slide that all important card across the desk.  And I walk happily out with hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise in my library bag, all for free!

Ah, yes- the library has saved me untold dollars in my homeschool journey.  Math books, nature books, science books, history books, biographies, music, foreign language programs, documentaries, even books on how to homeschool.  Name the subject, they have a book.

I used to go the library, maybe a few times a year, monthly at best.  When life changed with the addition of a child, my library habits changed also.  It started with the moms and babies story hours every Friday, then the picture books to be enjoyed.  Next came the books that every little boy seems to enjoy- trucks, planes, ships – as long as the pages held some form of transportation they held his interest.  Then the librarians start suggesting books based on what we were checking out.  One had even homeschooled and shared some advice from her journey.  The day he went looking for a bookshelf section that interested him and came holding his own pile of picked out books was an important day in my son’s educational growth.   Along the way there were other resources offered and taken advantage of.  Historical presentations, musicians, computer time, movies, science programs and zoo features became part of the educational process without costing us a penny.  When we would hear of a book we wanted to buy, first we would check the library; most of the time we met with success.  Just a quick scroll on the website and I could pick it up in a few days. Now the trips to the library are weekly and often times even more frequent.

So, what are you waiting for?  The buried treasure is waiting for you!  No shovel  needed, just your library card!  It’s your golden ticket!

Kids in Service

A few days ago one of our blog authors mentioned the topic of kids in service. Sometimes as homeschoolers we are so wrapped up in how things are going academically and within our own family, that we forget some of the other benefits of homeschooling — such as more time to forward kindness to others.

It’s easy to think of ways in which service helps others, but there are also bonus benefits to those who reach out to others. Assuming that you are participating with your kids in whatever you project you choose, think of a few things you will gain: quality time with your kids, family memories, the creation of a family identity. And, developing a genuinely caring attitude toward others has an actual physical affect on you. It will boost your immune system, lift your mood, and provide a small buffer to your own life stressors.

Our family bakes cookies on Labor Day to take to our local first responders, but we have not jumped on service as much as I’d like. The desire to do more had gripped me, but ideas weren’t coming to mind quickly, so I went to the SDA Homeschool Families (https://www.facebook.com/groups/sdahomeschoolfamilies/) group on Facebook and asked for input from the members.

Last year we moved to a new town. When Labor Day came, we decided to honor and meet our first responders by baking cookies and taking them to the local fire and police stations. I think we'll make this a yearly event — and maybe expand our offerings since Micah is getting so good at baking.

Last year we moved to a new town. When Labor Day came, we decided to honor and meet our first responders by baking cookies and taking them to the local fire and police stations. I think we’ll make this a yearly event — and maybe expand our offerings since Micah is getting so good at baking!

Wow, did they ever come through! The following lists are divided into services for kids could do on their own or with you at home, as well as ideas for the community and the church where you could participate as a family. The lists are random and in no particular order, but are full of great ideas. (If you have an idea or experience that is not mentioned, please add it in the comments, and I’ll add it to the original list on our Facebook page.)

And if you have tiny ones that aren’t up to these projects? Take them along wherever possible. I wish I’d thought when my son was a toddler to incorporate more service to others, and have him be a constant witness to ways we can help others — but it’s never too late to start.

Service at Home
– washing the car
– taking on projects that parents need done
– act as mother’s helper when families visit, so adults can chat
– make lasagna and freeze it to have on hand as gift of encouragement (new parents, the sick, those going through a difficult time)
– free lemonade stand on a hot day
– host a neighborhood cook out
– be tuned into others for simple needs that may arise
– babysit so a couple can have a date night
– make cards for people in the hospital
– sort toys/clothes at home for non-profit shelters or families in need

Service in the Community
– check with United Way as a resource
– helping shut-ins or elderly neighbors with yard work (weeding, mowing, gardening) or running errands
– feeding the homeless
– help at animal shelter
– cooking stews/soups for homeless shelter
– volunteer at local public school to help younger kids with reading
– help serve at a soup kitchen
– help with local food bank
– help older neighbors with gardens
– nursing home activities: take puppies to visit, play games with residents, read to residents, play music, learn from residents (knitting, crocheting), take residents for walks
– volunteer at local library (maybe putting away books for librarian)
– make fleece-tie blankets for shelters
– collect plush animals for police department (check regulations — may need to be new) to give to kids in accidents or stressful situations
– make kits/boxes of new garments, shoes, and toys for foster kids
– make tray favors or placemats for hospitals/nursing homes
– Shoebox Kids: send school supplies and toys to Africa in a shoebox
– volunteer at local charity organization
– see solehope.org for collecting used jeans for Africa projects
– check for specialized areas where you could help, like assisting in training search and rescue dogs
– playing Taps for Memorial Day at a retirement center (or other musical offerings)
– baking for local first responders (police, fire) to honor them

Service at/with the Church
– fill bags of goodies for prison ministries
– help with fellowship dinner prep
– doing tech support to put songs and texts on screen
– do Truth for Youth program
– clean the church
– volunteer with Pathfinders, such as weekly sandwich making for homeless shelter
– missionary work: visitations, distribute literature, pray with people in neighborhood
– possible church projects: mobile soup kitchen, clothing distribution, making hygiene packs, sending clothes to Haiti, produce monthly VBS for community, canning drive/food baskets
– visit nursing homes
– Thanksgiving baskets
– mow the church lawn
– help with church thrift store

“For, dear brothers, you have been given freedom: not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to love and serve each other. For the whole Law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love others as you love yourself,'” Galatians 5:13-14 TLB.

Shaken Foundations

Thud! Thud! The old, wooden farm house trembled slightly. Thud! It was pitch dark and my husband and I were suddenly woken up. The eery screeching, hissing and growling coming from under the house bore a resemblance to a wild cat. Thud! Again the house shook slightly. It was a territorial fight between two wombats who had both decided to claim occupancy under our house in the inky darkness of night. Their noisy and dramatic fighting pushed them into the brick foundations of our house. My husband flicked on the light switch, flooding the room with brightness. Thud! The fighting continued. Pulling on blue jeans and work boots, my husband wearily traipsed out into the darkness to solve the problem.

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Wombat

Wombats are an Australian marsupial. They are a heavy set animal, short legged, muscular and only about one metre in length, with a short stubby tail. They are a burrowing, nocturnal mammal which lives at the end of a long, well dug tunnel. They have a backwards facing pouch that when they are nursing their young within, they are still able to dig burrows and not get soil collected inside their pouch. Wombats emerge at dusk to feed through the night on the rough, wild grasses of the Australian landscape. They are generally slow movers, plodding along swaying gently from side to side, however when faced with danger they can take off at a quick run. Their greatest protection is a solid plate in their backside which they use to push against and corner the enemy within their tunnel, thus crushing it to death.

Wombat-Baby

Baby wombat peeking out from the pouch

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Wombat burrows

The thudding, screaming and wild noises continued under our house as my husband, in the silver light of a half moon, grabbed the garden hose, turned on the outside tap until the water ran at full force, spurting from the hose. Crawling on his hands and knees he aimed the hose towards the howling noises under the house and allowed the water to shoot forth in a torrent of coldness. Suddenly one wombat rushed, wet and disgruntled from under one side of the house and the other raced, sodden and miserable from the under other side. Quietness reigned once more.

This was not the first time our sleep had been disrupted by fighting wombats. It was time to solve this problem permanently. Our house stood on brick piers ranging from 30 centimetres in height to well over a metre. We were seriously concerned about the impact on our foundations that the wombats were having.We decided on a plan of action. We would fence in under the house. This could not be any fencing. We needed something extremely strong, immovable and something that could be buried well below the surface by a good metre in depth. My husband used very heavy wire fencing and with much effort he secured it firmly to the outside foundations and digging in earnest, he entombed the bottom of the fencing deep within the soil. The foundations of our house were now secure.

For many years after we fenced under our house, from time to time a wombat would amble past in the darkness of night and desire to retreat under our house. However, the heavy wire fencing always created an obstacle for them. Rhythmically they would push and bang and thud their bodies heavily against the wire and when that failed to secure their entrance, they would resort to digging, deeper and deeper. Alas the wire was always deeper then they could dig and the wombats would eventually give up the struggle and move onto grazing through the night once more.

Many times in life the foundations of who I am in Christ, loved by God, treasured and precious, and my purpose in Him, to glorify His name are shaken. We too experience the wombats of destruction as people fail us, hurt us, discourage us and knock us down. Sometimes we feel shrieked at, hissed upon and struck. The blows may be seen by no one, felt by no one but they wound us deep in our souls, where another can never know. God places the fence of His promises as a protection around our foundations. Believe God, His words are true. Allow Him to protect your foundation in Christ today.

Isa 28:16 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.

2 Tim 2:19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,”