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Christian Education: the Content

Node-Christian-Education1-large1Education: there are so many forms of it today–public, home school, Christian, private, adult, special, informal, primary, secondary, higher learning, and the list goes on. With so many choices, how do you know the best option for yourself, your children, and your family? I am not one that thinks there is a one-size-fits-all mold for education. However, I do believe as a follower of Jesus Christ, that any education we undergo ourselves or in which we place our children should be Christian. I am not arguing that every set of believing parents must put their children in a Christian school or they are sinning. No! What I want to continue sharing today in a series of posts concerning Christian education. This series is not about why you should send your children to a Christian school. Far from it! Instead I hope to help you frame your thinking about what “Christian education” really is and is not. Last week we discussed the role of the student in Christian education. This week,  I want to discuss the content of Christian education.

The Content of Christian Education

                When speaking of content in the context of Christian education there is one foundational source – theology or the study of God, which is based on God’s Word. The Bible must be the beginning and ending point in Christian education. Without it, Christian education would merely be another philosophy and practice among the many others in the educational world today. With it, Christian education stands above the rest because of its solid grasp on truth, reality, and logic along with its methods for leading people into a life changing experience and understanding of the Creator, Savior, and Sustainer.[1] To fully understand the God of the universe one must understand the book in which He has specifically revealed Himself.  Theology, which flows out of Bibliology, deeply influences Christian education.

Since God’s Word is inspired, or breathed out by God, as 2 Tim. 3:16[2] asserts, the Bible should be the foundation and guidebook for every educational practice. The Bible is vital to Christian education because it ultimately reveals who God is, what He is like, and what His actions are to the world. However, Christian education cannot be so naïve as to believe that the Bible is to be the only “textbook”. Other books, resources, and materials should be used; however, all curriculum considered for a Christian educational program must focus on Scripture, flow from Scripture, further the study of Scripture, allow for the Holy Spirit, and be future oriented.[3] If the content of Christian education does not meet one or more of these criteria it should not be considered as part of the curriculum for Christian education.

Along with meeting certain criteria, the content of Christian education should utilize both the Old and New Testament. Both Testaments together make up God’s Word and therefore make up the entire revealed Word of God. With this in mind, Christian educators must make every effort to incorporate both Testaments in order to help students grow into a deeper understanding of God’s design to form them into the image of Christ. This means that the teacher must not only teach “Bible stories” in Sunday school or in younger grade levels, but must draw out the principles to be practiced in life and help the students apply them to their lives. The New Testament must also be utilized not only as history and a prescription for how to live, but as the process and procedure for how to grow to become more like Christ daily. The content of Christian education must include the whole counsel of God.

Christian education flows in every way out of God’s Word as mature believers model and mentor younger believers to spiritual maturity. Understanding what the content of Christian education is vital to having an education that is truly Christian. In case you missed part 1 of the series: Christian Education: Definition and Goals, or part 2: Christian Education: the Teacher, or part 3: Christian Education: the Student, check them out here. Stop by next week where the topic will be Christian Education: the Methods.


[1] George R. Knight. Philosophy & Education: an Introduction in Christian Perspective, 4th Edition. (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 2006), 221-226

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, (Wheaton: Good News Publishers, 2003), 996.

[3] James R. Estep Jr. A Theology for Christian Education. (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2008), 280-283

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Feature Friday (1/10/14)

Jonah“…there is something that stands as a divide between us and the Bible; something that prevents us from grasping hold of the Scriptures and applying them rightly to our lives…It’s the problem that the first century readers of Hebrews faced, and that we face to the same extent today.” So what is the problem? This article helps us understand the problem as well as the antidote.

As always be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

Resolved 2014

2014-resolutionsIt’s inevitable–this time of year between December 25 and January 1 is filled with conversations, blogs, emails, tweets, posts, etc., all dealing with New Year’s Resolutions. And truth be told, most of these resolutions are not bad; rather, they are pretty good ideas and attempts at change. Actually, according to TIME’s “Top Ten Commonly Broken New Years Resolutions” the list looks pretty good. But let’s be honest, this year after year after year repetition of resolutions and failed outcomes gets old. So what should we do? We have two options: 1) quit or 2) make better resolutions. I want to give 5 simple tips to making better resolutions, and then one suggestion for a resolution every Christian should make this next year. Instead of giving up, this year why not make S.M.A.R.T. (er) resolutions.

SPECIFIC – A goal that is vague and undefined is exactly the kind of goal we not only fail at, but often don’t even know if we met or not. So in making resolutions this year, make them specific. Instead of saying, “I will workout more”, state, “I will run 2 times a week”.

MEASURABLE – Another problem with resolution making and keeping is that we have no standard or rule by which to measure our success. If we take our first example again, “I will workout more”, what is “more” compared to…more than yesterday, more than last week, more than my sister? Replace immeasurable goals, with measurable ones. State the resolution like this, “I will run 2 times a week”. It gives you a measure by which to judge yourself (2 times).

ATTAINABLE – This is the area where most of us fall short–we set goals that are not attainable for us. In our example, “I will run 2 times a week”, the number of times a week is our judge of attainability. How much did we run last year? If we did not run at all, then saying we will run 2 times a week may be a little much. So instead, you may want to bump that “workout more” to “walk/run 2 times a week”. That seems a little more realistic at least at the start of the year and when you find your stamina improve then re-tweak the resolution to the “run 2 times a week”.

stuck-on-repeat1REPEATABLE – If you have the specific, measurable, and attainable aspect of a resolution in place, yet still fail, it may be due to the repetition of the goal. Often goals are mentioned as “I will workout more this year”. But two months into the year, when the monkey seems to jump on your back, work commitments get larger, and time becomes tighter, the end of the year can feel far away. So instead make the yearly goal repeatable and able to be evaluated throughout the year. Again, state the goal as “I will run 2 times a week this year”. It gives you a weekly evaluation point and something that is repeatable throughout the year.

TIME SENSITIVE – This aspect is similar to our last one. We often do not give ourselves deadlines within the year. So instead of “I will workout more this year” write the resolution down as “I will run 2 times a week this year”. This gives us a deadline to hit, not once a year, but once every week throughout the year, making success come much more often, and a resolve to continue much more of a reality.

So what kind of S.M.A.R.T. resolution should I make? If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, let me make one suggestion. You should endeavor to make Bible reading/study a resolution for 2014. Why? Love for God’s Word and abiding in it is a sign of a true believer (John 8:31-32). Romans 8 tells us that if we are in Christ we have been set free from sin, yet in the Christian life this side of heaven, our lives feel like anything, but free from sin. But Jesus tells us, if we want to be free, know the truth (John 8:32). Working backwards, He then says if you know the truth, you are my disciples and if you are my disciples you will abide in my word (John 8:31). So make a resolution this year, as a true disciple of Jesus Christ, to abide in His word. But be sure to make it S.M.A.R.T!Jonah

Just as an added bonus: check out this article for other great resolution ideas for 2014!

Feature Friday (12/20/13)

JeremiahSo I know most of you are expecting some sort of Christmas feature this Friday, but I am going to disappoint you. I recently have been reading through a book I recommend entitled, The Most Misused Verses in the Bible by Eric J. Bargerhuff. It is a quick, insightful, yet challenging book on how we (western Evangelical Christians) often apply every verse of the Bible directly to us. But in light of reading that book, I would like to share with you a recently-written blog post on the same topic. “Jeremiah 29:11 is not about you” is a short, concise post and challenge to us all. It calls us all to refrain from applying God’s Word one-for-one too quickly to our lives. And if you have not gotten that final stocking stuffer for yourself or other readers in your family, The Most Misused Verses in the Bible could be that fit!

As always be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

God’s Will: How to do it

the will of god

I grew up in the Midwest–the great state of Ohio to be exact. If you have ever been to the Midwest or know someone from there, you know that mid-westerners have a few quirks and crazy traditions. One of the greatest traditions is the card game, Euchre. Now, I never thought Euchre was weird or abnormal; but rather, a well known, everyone plays it, type of card game…that is, until I went to college in the northeast. At college I quickly became aware of the fact that not everyone knows what Euchre is, let alone how to play it! And sometimes I think that is exactly how believers feel with God’s will. They don’t even know what it is, let alone how to do it! So I want to offer some help on this topic, which is why today I am addressing the subject of God’s Will and how to do it in three steps–Distinguish it above all else, Deem others above yourself, and Delight yourself in it.

The first step in doing God’s will is Distinguishing it above all else. To distinguish God’s will above all else we must first read God’s Word daily. David tells us in Psalms to “meditate” (think about, dwell on) God’s word both day and night (Psalm 1:1-2). In other words, God’s word should be on our minds and hearts all throughout our day, at all times. But Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 that the purpose of this “meditating” is transformation (being changed from the inside out), not just conformation (being pressed into a mold by external pressures). And it is only by a continual dwelling on God’s word, that we can be transformed (Colossians 3:16). But to distinguish God’s will above all else we must also trust God’s Word completely. We must believe and live as though it is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true and good to revive our souls, make wise the simple. It is righteous altogether (Psalm 19:7-9). We must believe and live as though God’s word and God’s Spirit working through His word, can sanctify and make us holy (John 17:17). We must believe it makes us competent and equips us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). And we must believe and live as if  everything for life and godliness has been granted to us in God’s Word (2 Peter 1:3). So if we are going to do God’s will, we must first Distinguish His Word above all else, by reading it daily and trusting it completely. Jonah

The second step in doing God’s will is Deeming others above ourselves. To do this we must first consider others as more important than ourselves. Paul reminds us of the greatest example of this when he draws our attention to Christ (Philippians 2:5-8). We must think and reflect the actions of Christ, who thought nothing of Himself, being God, but became a man to die a cruel death in our place. But we must also consider the battle between our “rights” and the well being of others (1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1). God calls us not to do everything that we are “free” or “allowed” to do, but to consider the repercussions it could have on others. All of this caution and restricting ourselves for the betterment of others finds its greatest reason in the death of Christ (1 John 3:16-18).

imagesHowever, we must not only consider others as more important, but we must also consider others input. We must recognize that our hearts can and do deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9). The person easiest to trick and deceive is often ourselves. Proverbs repeatedly calls us to remember and recognize that it is the fool who is right in his own eyes, and because of this often isolates himself for his own self-seeking pleasure (Proverbs 12:15, 18:1, 15:22, 13:20). And Paul reminds us that we all need to make sure we seek “wise” help and company (1 Corinthians 15:33). So if we are going to do God’s will we must also be Deeming others above ourselves, by considering them more important, and considering their input.

The third and final step in doing God’s will is Delighting yourself in it. David tell us in Psalm 37:4 that if we “Delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart.” In others words, when our greatest desire is for God, His will, and His glory, we will get our desires, because our desires will match God’s. But to do this we must first, delight in the joy of God’s will (1 Corinthians 10:31). Everything we do must be done to God’s glory and for the joy of seeing Him made much of. Secondly, to delight in God’s will we must delight in the freedom of it. This freedom is a freedom from sin and death and to obedience and righteousness and eternal life (Romans 6:6-7, 14, 17-18). Thirdly, delighting in God’s will means we will Delight in the security of it. Being in God’s will and doing it faithfully means we no longer fear the punishment of judgment because judgment has been dealt with through perfect love (1 John 4:18).

golgotha-01

We now seek not to avoid judgment but to enjoy love. We can freely choose and enjoy a plethora of options without fearing missing God’s will or being punished for the wrong. This is true because the judgment we once feared and wanted to avoid, has been dealt with by perfect love…Jesus Christ’s substitutionary atonement on the cross of Calvary, where He became sin for us, so that we might be the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). So to be doing God’s will we must be Delighting in it by delighting in the joy, freedom, and security of it.

Inevitably, I found a few other mid-westerners while in college who knew the game of Euchre and enjoyed playing it as much as I did. But the greater joy was teaching my future bride and other friends not just what the game was but how to play it. And I believe that God has exponentially greater joy when believers not only realize what His will is revealed in His Word and but also obediently and faithfully do it.

I pray that this post and series has been not only educational, but enjoyable in your understanding and practice of God’s will in your life. If you missed the first post “God’s Will: First Things First“, or second post “God’s Will: Three Wills of God“, or third post “God’s Will: What is it“, you can check them out here.

God’s Will: What is it?

the will of godWhere should I go to college? What should I major in? Who will I marry? Where will we live? Should I change careers, jobs, or locations? All of these questions are ones I have either asked myself or had others ask. However, as a Christian there is one question that quintessentially summarizes all of these inquiries. That summarizing question is: What is God’s will for my life? Most believers and even some unbelievers have probably asked this question at some point in their lives. So what is the will of God really? Can we know it? Is it something different for each person? Before diving in, I must clarify that much of the content below is adapted from John MacArthur’s book, “Found: God’s Will”. While I leaned heavily on this book, it was and is ultimately God’s Word that reveals God’s will (Colossians 1:9; Ephesians 5:17).

First, God’s will is that man Be Saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4). These verses indicate that it is God’s will and desire for all men to be saved. This will of God is described as good and pleasing to God. Salvation is at the heart of God and is thus His will and desire for each and every person. He desires such because it not only pleases Him, but is good for us. The eternal life God wishes for all to participate in is clearly revealed in God’s Word (2 Peter 1:3). God desires people to be saved so greatly, that it is the very reason He is patient in carrying out His wrath and final judgment on the earth (2 Peter 3:9). So God’s will is first that we be saved.

Jonah

Secondly, God wills that man Be Spirit-filled (Ephesians 5:17-18). Now, this cannot happen unless the first part of God’s will (salvation) has become a reality in our lives. God’s Spirit indwells all those who call Jesus Christ Lord and Savior (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). But once we are saved, God wills that we be not only indwelt by, but also filled with the Holy Spirit. From the context, we see that Paul is comparing the effects of the Spirit to the effects of alcohol. When a person is drunk all his inhibitions are gone because he is controlled by the alcohol. This is the idea of the term “filled”; it means to be controlled by something, to be dominated by it. The believer is to be dominated by God’s Spirit by dwelling on God’s Word (Colossians  3:16). So God’s will is that we be Spirit-filled.

Thirdly, God wills that man Be Sanctified (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8). The word “sanctified” simply means to be separated from sin and evil and set apart unto God. In this passage, Paul is speaking to the Thessalonians with regard to handling their bodies in a God-honoring way. As believers, the Thessalonians (and by way of application, us as well) were not to act like the world (unsaved culture) around them. They were not to take advantage of someone else for their own good and pleasure. Instead they were to control their bodies and sanctify themselves to God. This was to be done and can only be done as God’s Word is read, studied, and applied to our individual lives. So God’s will is that we be sanctified.

Fourth, God wills that man Be Submissive (1 Peter 2:13-15). This is definitely one of the two hardest concepts for those of us who live in a Western culture to understand and live out. Peter was writing to believers who were spread throughout the Roman empire (which was known for not being so nice to Christians). It was also during this time that slavery was prominent, and there was no such thing as “labor laws” in place. So the Christians to whom Peter wrote would have had a much more difficult situation in which to live out an attitude of submission. Yet the Apostle did not stutter or hesitate to record God’s will for believers. They were to submit to government, rulers, and even parents (Ephesians 6:1-3). God’s desire in this aspect of His will is simple…to silence critics to Christianity and make people ask why. It was all about God getting the glory. So God’s will is that we be submissive. More

Fifth, God’s will is that man Be willing to Suffer (1 Peter 3:17). This is the second of the two hardest aspects of Gods’ will for us Westerners to follow. We love our comfort, our ease, our pleasure, and our entitlement.  Ask us to suffer and we quickly turn the other way. But notice that in this part of God’s will it is not stated that suffering will be for all. Instead it is stated that we should be willing to suffer, “IF” that be God’s will. But Scripture also tells us that if we desire and obey in following Christ there will be persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). It is in this suffering that we partner and share in Christ’s suffering (Philippians 1:29). So it is God’s will that we be willing to suffer.

Sixth, it is God’s will that man Be Saying thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). In a culture built on entitlement, this may in fact be a lost art form. It is rare to find someone who recognizes that everything they have is ultimately a gift from God. And in a world that is broken and battling it is difficult to find things in which to rejoice. But according to these verses, a believer is to rejoice ALWAYS and give thanks in ALL circumstances. If honesty is the best policy, then I would be going against that policy to say that in every  condition of life I find it easy to give thanks and rejoice. But notice God does not say to give thanks only when life is easy or comfortable. Why does God believe thanksgiving is possible even in the darkest of days? Because real thanksgiving is not a result of circumstances, but of contentment. And contentment is a matter of the heart. God’s will is that we be saying thanks.

So there it is, God’s will for your life: Be Saved, Be Spirit-filled, Be Sanctified, Be Submissive, Be willing to Suffer, and Be Saying thanks. “But…” you say, ” that does not tell me who to marry, where to go to school, where to live, what job to take, or give me the answer to my current tough situation. Truth is there is one more piece and directive in God’s will. And you are going to love this.

freedom02

If you are Saved, Spirit-filled, Sanctified, Submissive, willing to Suffer, and Saying thanks, God tells you this one last thing in Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in God and He will give you the desires of your heart”! In other words, if you are obeying God’s will as revealed in God’s Word, DO WHAT YOU WANT!

This was the third lesson in the “God’s Will” series. If you missed the first post “God’s Will: First Things First“, or second post “God’s Will: Three Wills of God“, you can check them out here. Stay tuned for the conclusion of “God’s Will” next week with “God’s Will: How to do it?”.

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