“Beginning of the Future”
The world of K-12 education is fast paced, ever evolving research with new trends, curriculum, testing, theories, books, software, testing, programming, governmental initiatives with experts and consultants all offering a better way.
The one constant in successful education is the teacher.
For all the bells and whistles on the market and there are some great products and technology. Nothing compares to the teacher! It is a tried-and-true institution, from single room schoolhouses to modern virtual classrooms. The teacher is truly irreplaceable and integral to whoever we are. Someone once said, “teaching is the profession that creates all others.” All lawyers, doctors, presidents, generals, scientists, preachers have been created from the diligence of teachers.
Teachers create miracles. When a student begins to sense the bigger world that is out there and even within themselves, something quite extraordinary happens. Dreams and possibilities merge with reality and choices. The trajectory of lives and history intersect in the classroom with the open sky.
Teachers put up with a lot. I have seen amazing patience in our faculty with seemingly insuperable challenges with many twists and turns. Parents can be myopically focused and not understand the range of tensions and needs in managing a full classroom over the course of an entire school year. Teachers not only educate but put play nurse, counselor, friend, and cop, all in a matter of minutes. Oh yeah, they teach too!
Teachers are learners. The rules change at the drop of hat. The greatest teachers are students first. A love for learning is vital and cannot be faked in classroom full of geniuses and clairvoyants.
Teachers are human beings. Yes, they have faults and weaknesses just like anyone else. Sometimes they trip over their own cape in expecting too much or assigning a lot of homework but, they love your kid! The great ones love them like their own.
In conclusion, do not make teachers lives more difficult than they have to be. We do this quite easily by undermining their authority, unkind words, or apathy at home. Secondly, encourage them. Remember, just how difficult your child can be. Lastly, Pray for them. They are the beginning to your child’s future.
“God or Chaos”
Reinhold Niebuhr famously began his magna opus, “The Nature and Destiny of Man” with these words, “Man is his own most vexing problem.” What once seemed a distant thunder has swelled to a deafening crescendo of uncertainty and anxiety as to the moral health of our country. The innocent blood of millions of unborn children is lauded as a “right.” Ostensible racism has found a new comfortable place in the public square on both sides of the political spectrum. Unchecked nationalism and amnesiac socialism are peddled to secure the votes of masses as money flies out the window. “Me too” came after sexual mores had been dismantled and exploited by our media and society at every turn. Throw in a pandemic with rising deaths, suicides, and substance abuse and here we are. All the lines that are sacred and profane have been blurred, crossed to reduced to a scribble with no meaning.
All the while, our children have been watching and learning.
The home is the last bastion of hope against the continued assault of relativism and colliding self-centered universes. Parents must be resolved in protecting and spiritually educating their children. The word that first comes to mind is the German expression, Weltanschauung. The word literally means “world view”. It is our perceptive lens in interpreting who we are and why we are here. Jesus alludes to this by saying, “but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matt. 6:23, RSV). The way we see our world through the lens of our heart is the key to combating the darkness.
If God is not the center of your home then chaos will be.
The Bible speaks of the home as a spiritual school. The Torah says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut. 6:4-6, RSV).
Russian Alexander Solzhenitsyn painfully detailed the brutal regime of atheistic communism and the Gulag death camps and concluded:
“Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened." Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.”
Let us pray and live in such a way that it will never be said of our homes that we have “forgotten God.” We will join with Joshua, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
History gives us the ability to stop and remember significant past events that have shaped the world in which we live. This is why every year the month of February is designated as Black History Month. In 1926, Black History Month was initiated to raise awareness and acknowledge the accomplishments and influential experiences of black men and women. Black history is not merely the history of African Americans; it is our history as the American people.
One of my first exposures to the accomplishments and influential experiences of Black Americans was in fourth-grade. My fourth-grade teacher’s name was Mr. Orr. He was a very tall man who towered over his 10-year-old students, but he spoke with a love and sincerity that made him seem like an oversized teddy-bear that you might win at the skating rink.
Mr. Orr was a great teacher who not only taught us the facts, but also challenged us to love learning, think critically, find answers for ourselves, and help our peers. He was tasked with teaching us Alabama History during our social studies class time. Mr. Orr assigned Alabama History projects in the form of book reports and visual posters. He allowed us to choose the subject of our projects from a list of famous Alabamians, and then gave us the opportunity to teach our classmates about everything we had learned while doing research. Several Black Alabamians were included on the list like: Rosa Parks, Civil Rights Activist; General “Chappie” James, America’s first four-star Black General; WC Handy, the Father of the Blues; Jesse Owens, world-record-breaking track and field athlete; and George Washington Carver, a professor and scientist at Tuskegee University.
George Washington Carver, though not a native Alabamian, taught and studied at the famous Tuskegee University, a historically Black college in Alabama. I was so fascinated with his research and development for the many uses of peanuts, but what I never learned about was Carver’s faith in God and the role his prayer life played in his scientific research until last year when I read Mark Batterson’s book Draw the Circle. In the book, Batterson shares many inspiring stories of God’s answers to prayer. This is George Washington Carver’s story from Draw the Circle:
George Washington Carver is considered one of the greatest scientific minds of the twentieth century. Around the turn of the twentieth century, the agricultural economy of the South was suffering as the boll weevil devastated cotton crops. The soil was being depleted of nutrients because farmers planted cotton year in and year out. It was George Washington Carver who introduced the concept of crop rotation. He encouraged farmers to plant peanuts, and they did. The strategy revived the soil, but farmers were frustrated because there was no market for peanuts. Their abundant peanut crop rotted in warehouses. When they complained to Carver, he did what he had always done. Carver prayed about it.
Carver routinely got up at 4:00 a.m., walked through the woods, and asked God to reveal the mysteries of nature. He circled Job 12:7-8: Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will teach you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you.
Carver literally asked God to reveal the mysteries of nature. And God did.
In Carver’s own words:
I said, “Lord, why did you make the universe?”
The Lord replied, “Ask for something more in proportion to that little mind of yours.”
“Then why did you make the earth, Lord?” I asked.
“Your little mind still wants to know far too much,” replied God.
“Why did you make man, Lord?” I asked.
“Far too much. Far too much. Ask again,” replied God.
“Explain to me why you made plants, Lord,” I asked.
“Your little mind still wants to know far too much.”
So I meekly asked, “Lord, why did you make the peanut?”
And the Lord said, “For the modest proportions of your mind, I will grant you the mystery of the peanut. Take it inside your laboratory and separate it into water, fats, oils, gums, resins, sugars, starches and amino acids. Then recombine these under my three laws of compatibility, temperature and pressure. Then you will know why I made the peanut.”
On January 20, 1921, George Washington Carver testified before the United States House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee on behalf of the United Peanut Association of America. The chairman, Joseph Fordney of Michigan, told him he had ten minutes. An hour and forty minutes later, the committee told George Washington Carver he could come back anytime he wanted. Carver mesmerized the committee by demonstrating dozens of uses for the peanut. In the end, Carver discovered more than three hundred uses for the peanut. Or maybe more accurately, the Lord revealed more than three hundred uses. They included everything from glue, to shaving cream, to soap, to insecticide, to cosmetics, to wood stains, to fertilizer, and linoleum.
So the next time you shave or put on makeup, the next time you stain the deck or fertilize your garden, the next time you enjoy a good old-fashioned PBJ, remember that all of those things trace back to a man who had a habit of prayer at 4 AM. They weren’t good ideas. They were God ideas.
“Family of God”
Family is the masterpiece of God’s creation and crowned in the garden of Eden with faithful marriage (Matthew 19:1-10). God has, furthermore, revealed Himself fully and absolutely through the familial relationship of Father to Son, in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. Christ ushered an intimacy into the life of a Christian by naming God, Abba! There is a special disclosure of tenderness and trust unheard till spoken by our Lord concerning His Father.
Joachim Jeremias describes, "Jesus' use of the word Abba in addressing God is unparalleled in the whole of Jewish literature. The explanation of this fact is to be found in the statement of the fathers Chrysostom, Theodore, and Theodoret that Abba, (as jaba is still used today in Arabic) was the word used by a young child to its father; it was an everyday family word, which no one had ventured to use in addressing God. Jesus did. He spoke to His heavenly Father in a childlike, trustful, and intimate way like a little child to its father."
Christ did not come to merely moralize or reform but to transform us into children of God through his own life. (John 1:12) “But to all who received him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Our kinship with the Father is the spiritual rebirth into the Kingdom of God by “water and the spirit” realized in baptism and regeneration of the Holy Spirit. (John 3:1-5, Acts 2:38).
Jesus in his life and ministry contrasted the family of flesh to the spiritual family by this shocking incident, “And his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting about him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and, sister, and mother.”
We are united in the eternal family of God (Ephesians 3:15). Now, we as God’s children, have been given the name Abba to annunciate in our darkest and brightest days with everlasting hope, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”