Category Archives: Thoughts

Why educate?

Why should we educate our children? What does education do in and with young people that is good and that is worthwhile? These questions are so intrinsic to the very core of our school systems that they are often ignored or overlooked. The focus instead lies on how we should educate (methods) and what education is, what it should include. They are the questions that give meaning and purpose to the very thing that we are committed to, as teachers and educators, and thus they must be both studied and discussed. However, these questions are difficult to answer without first addressing the issue of what education actually is.

What initially comes to a person’s mind at the mention of the word itself, education, will necessarily affect how one would answer the question of why education is important, significant, or essential. Is “education” in simple terms a collection of facts and/or concepts that one is pushed to memorize or understand within the classroom setting; the result of the act of “going to school;” the obtaining of college degrees? Or can we concede that education can and must be thought of in a much broader sense, as in the absorption of knowledge and ideas and reality itself as one experiences life through all five of the senses: through seeing, through listening and hearing, through feeling and touching, through smelling and tasting? Education is all this, and more.

We must then agree that education to a certain extent is a constantly occurring process within a living human being who is inevitably experiencing various facets of life. What then, is the significance of education in the popular sense, the sense of intentional learning and doing by way of active participation in reading and listening and practicing?

It is here where answering this question must draw on the subjective value of the things that are to be studied. Do subjects have meaning? What are the purposes in studying mathematics? science? history? language arts? Well, what are these things? They are aspects of the material and nonmaterial created world. They ARE, in themselves, CREATION. And creation is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind.

Therefore, in studying them, one comes to know the Creator. In response then to the study thereof, the creation becomes a channel for us to worship the Creator who has made known Himself to us through it. This is why we must commit ourselves to study. Absorbing the holy words of Scripture cannot and must not be our only means of coming to know the nature of God, for Scripture (though its holiness is not to be discredited) is not the only source from which to learn of God. We must study the various facets of the created world, (and again, I emphasize, not only the physical but the metaphysical), in order to gain a more full and complete knowledge of the nature of God—of the truth, the beauty, and the goodness which constitute his personhood.

So we return to the original questions: Why should we educate our children? What does education do in and with young people that is good and that is worthwhile? If we accomplish in our young people our goal of equipping them people to come to know and understand the Creator, they will be change. They will grow. They will be shaped and formed in natural response to the revelation of a holy God. Only when it acknowledges and puts into practice this theory will the Christian school really be equipped to operate God’s calling on the lives of our children.

Let Us Pray…And Act

An article worthy of being read today. On the National Day of Prayer. It’s by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove…

” Millions of Americans will gather today in hotel ballrooms and on town squares, in church buildings and on campus lawns for National Day of Prayer. Millions of other Americans will, no doubt, look on this public religious act with some suspicion. Is National Day of Prayer a hang-over from the days of the Religious Right? Are those who gather protesting President Obama’s assertion that we are not a “Christian nation,” but a democracy that welcomes and protects the practice of diverse faith traditions?

As evangelical Christians, we admit that our fellow Americans have good reason to be suspicious. Though evangelicals have often argued fervently for the separation of church and state, we have also blurred the dividing line when access to political power served our agenda (and our pocketbooks). Even when our churches have tried to serve as the “conscience of the state” that Dr. Martin Luther King challenged us to be, our concern has been too narrowly focused on issues of private morality, overlooking the problems of systemic injustice that King himself so boldly challenged. If we are going to pray in public, evangelical Christians must begin with a prayer of confession. We have shouted the gospel with our mouths more than we have showed the world good news with our lives.

But our confession cannot be that we have over-stepped the boundary between private faith and the public square. The problem is not that Christians have been too public with our prayer. What we must confess is that we have done too little to become the answer to the prayers we pray. So often when faced with the problems of our world we have asked, “God why don’t you do something?” without realizing that God might be saying, “I did do something… I made you.” When prayed by followers of Jesus, “God bless America” cannot be a divine endorsement of a political agenda or an excuse for inaction (as if we were asking God to bless others so we don’t have to).

When we pray for God to bless anyone, we are challenged to see that we might be the hands of that blessing, for God has no hands but ours. When we pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,” we commit our whole lives to caring for the least among us—the unborn and the undocumented. If Christians are praying with Jesus, we cannot stop praying and acting until we see the restoration of all that is broken in our lives, and in our streets… broken political systems and broken families, polluted ecosystems and shattered lives.

So, rather than argue that National Day of Prayer is something that should go away with Jerry Falwell and the Christian Coalition, we say keep it. Let’s call Christians (and everyone else) to prayer. But let us also challenge ourselves to become the answer to our prayers. When we pray for the hungry, let’s remember to feed them. When we pray for the unborn, let’s welcome single mothers and adopt abandoned children. When we give thanks for creation, let’s plant a garden and buy local. When we remember the poor, let’s re-invest our money in micro-lending programs. When we pray for peace, let’s beat our swords into plowshares and turn military budgets into programs of social uplift. When we pray for an end to crime, let’s visit those in prison. When we pray for lost souls, let’s be gracious to the souls who’ve done us wrong.

None of us can do everything, but everyone can do something. To begin to act on our prayers with any seriousness is to remember why we pray in the first place—because anything worth doing is beyond our power to do alone. We cry out to God because we know we need help. But the God chooses to work in and through us. We have a God that does not want to change the world without us. So let us pray… and let us act. “

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With the turn of the year

Jesus, my sole and simple desire is that Your light would shine through this present darkness.


It’s the epitome of Christmas. We buy things for each other, go caroling, make cookies and candy for our neighbors and co-workers and friends, and strive to “spread good cheer.”

There’s a family I’ve gotten to know well: a dear mother, three girls and a boy, ages 10, 11, 12, and 13, whom I take with me to clubs Monday nights. She called me the other week, humbly asking if I knew of a church or organization who could help her with Christmas gifts for her children. When I brought it up to family members and clubs staff, everyone jumped at the opportunity to help with this “project” and were excited about the chance to give money towards the gifts. But they also reminded me of the risks. The dangers. The caution I needed to use in relating to these people.

At school, the kids have been bringing in money all month to buy Bible story books for children in poor countries around the world–through Christian Aid Ministries. How beautiful…   How detached.

We had a dirty, frizzy-haired, talkative old man show up at school one day several weeks ago. He talked a mile a minute as he described to us his plight. His stories didn’t add up logically, and no one trusted him. We sent him away with $5 for the “gas he needed to get to his mother’s house.” [and hoped we’d never see him again.] Today I found out that he showed up at another local Mennonite school, yesterday…with similar complaints/requests. I was asked if I thought this kind of thing should be reported…”this kind of thing is suspect. Walking into our school like that was inappropriate. We need to protect our children.” I sighed and challenged him: “but we’re called to love him as Jesus does! surely Jesus wouldn’t turn him in to law enforcement simply for being a misfit…”

It’s not hard to love Jesus personified as a baby in a manger, but when he shows up as an untouchable, unlovable, untrustworthy person…our spirit of giving and love goes out the window, even though we pretend to be generous and we look like we want to share our Christmas with the “less fortunate”–“we really must have boundaries even on that.” Sick. I’m pretty sure giving from your heart means giving in spite of the risks.

Someone please show me real peace on earth!

The Lens

I believe the Bible. Such declaration demands but rarely accommodates the inevitable responsibility to remove the tinted lens through which we view Scripture and uncover the truths within it to which our “biblical” traditions and “church” doctrines have blinded us. Too many of us get so caught up in living righteously that we are too busy to ask ourselves hard questions. We approach Scripture seeking to affirm the lifestyle we have already chosen, because we do not have the time, energy, or desire to be converted. Often, an overly simplistic reading and interpretation of Scripture actually uses the Bible to justify a lack of concern and care for the poor.

The lens we bring to Scripture keeps us from seeing the overall story of God’s justice in both the Old and New Testaments. We read prophets like Jeremiah and Amos with our hearts disconnected because we are unwilling to acknowledge our own affiliation with Israel’s oppression of the poor. We emphasize the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew rather than in Luke because Jesus’ addendum in verses 24 and 25 of chapter 6 threatens to undermine our feeling of security in Christ: “But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger.”

Though we may experience emotion upon seeing a mirage of pain or hearing echoes of a child’s cry we really want nothing to do with their issues–issues of world hunger, of global slavery, of spiritual darkness. We have traditionally refused to associate intimately with the justice of God, Lover of the poor. Can we afford to care?