Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Basics of Christian Education

True Christian Education, regardless of where it takes place, must have these two basic characteristics pervading it:

1. It must be thoroughly Christian. It must exalt all three members of the Trinity. It must follow the Word of God at all times and in all things. It must encourage and edify—and when needed, rebuke—believers to serve God with every part of their lives. It must point the non-Christians in its midst toward God as Savior and King. Rules under which it operates encourage godly, biblical living.

As a consequence, it will not be happily received by most non-Christians; many Christians will likewise chafe at times.

2. The quality of education must be excellent. The teacher must be well-prepared, diligent, and surrendered to God; the teacher must also love the students. The curricula must be chosen on the basis of both academic soundness and ability to point its users toward Truth.

These two characteristics must be found for education to be "Christian," whether that education takes place in a school building, a church, or a home.

Ideally, there will be other characteristics found in the classroom. Students need to be desirous to learn; if they are without salvation, spiritual things will not make much sense to them. Logistical matters from attendance taking to restroom usage must be efficiently planned. Technological innovations, while not always essential, should be employed in ways subservient to education goals, not as the educational goals.

Christian education suffers today because it succumbs too much to pressure to de-prioritize its two primary characteristics.

On the one hand, there are those who do not thirst for doctrinal purity or biblical standards. They would rather see an "openness" to other points of view, or more practically, would prefer to avoid the issues which cause divisiveness when those who hold the Bible as truth disagree with those who don't. "Standards" arguments are a way this often manifests itself.

On the other hand (and remembering that many people have two hands), there are those who do not feel that academic excellence is either necessary or even practical. They prefer not to "push" students to learn, fearing the "pushback" of students and parents. In K-12, they may feel content merely to outperform the public schools, while further potential for excellence is allowed to waste away.

For those of you in Christian education—at school, church, or home—remember the basics!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why You Should Vote "NO" on Kalamazoo's Ordinance 1856

Next week Kalamazoo city voters will have an opportunity to vote on Ordinance 1856, which essentially grants special rights to homosexuals, crossdressers, and others who are not heterosexual. Much has been written on the topic (some great stuff is here) already, so I will not strive to duplicate those efforts.

There are several good, strong reasons to vote NO on this ordinance. It essentially grants special rights to one group while discriminating against another. It is bad for businesses. It will cause social problems when, for example, men are using women's restrooms.

But the biggest reason to vote NO on the ordinance is this: It brings legitimacy to sin. The Bible teaches that all sexual activity outside of marriage (which, by biblical definition, is heterosexual) is sin. Homosexuality and other deviant forms of sexual behavior are condemned in some of the strongest language found in the Bible.

To grant special civil rights to those who are engaging in sin, and to simultaneously discriminate against those who are desiring to set an example of what is morally right, is cancerous to the body politic. For this reason alone I would recommend that you vote NO on Ordinance 1856.

But if you want a lot more good reasons to vote NO, check here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Going Green" the Capitalist Way

This morning two of my girls and I were taking our morning walk/jog, and it occurred to me that there were some ways to "help the environment" that the MSM seemed to be missing. Furthermore, they are things I have been doing for years.

1. Don't bother decorating for Halloween. I personally don't believe Christians should celebrate Halloween, but even if I did, I would not have electricity-consuming decorations "on" at 6:09 a.m. Turning them off before going to bed would save some fossil fuel, wouldn't it? Even for Christmas (a holiday I joyfully celebrate), I use a timer for my outdoor lights; they generally are off by 11:00.

2. Take a look at your trash can. I have four children living at home. I have a big wheel-it-to-the-curb trash can. Unless we have done some major housecleaning—perhaps once or twice a year—it is never full. Yet I see various members of the neighborhood whose cans, equal in volume to mine, are overflowing on a regular basis. Where is all this trash generated? Perhaps an inventory of what's in there could give people some ideas about conserving resources.

3. Take fewer trips; run more errands on each. My wife and I have been doing this for years, although with more soberness since gas prices eclipsed $2 a few years ago. We simply don't make extra trips. If she needs something to make supper, she calls me and I pick it up on my way home. Grocery store runs happen during music lessons. And so forth.

Notice, too, what all three of my ideas have in common: Each one saves me money! Capitalism, handled properly and ethically, is pro-environment, because we realize that the long-term view demands good stewardship of our resources.

When people see that they can keep more of their own money by doing something that is "environmentally friendly," they will do it. Liberals seem to have difficulty grasping this simple idea.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hymn of the Week: All That Thrills My Soul

This hymn by Thoro Harris should remind all of us that nothing should cheer, bless, and "thrill" us like Jesus Christ. He is indeed "more than life" to all of us who have accepted His offer of salvation.

The verses remind us of several aspects of our relationship with Christ: He loves us; He redeemed us; He supplies our needs. Indeed, meditating upon our relationship with Him should cause us to "praise and glorify the King"!

If you have never accepted Christ's gift of salvation, I pray that you will know Him today.

All That Thrills My Soul

Who can cheer the heart like Jesus,
By His presence all divine?
True and tender, pure and precious,
O how blest to call Him mine!


All that thrills my soul is Jesus,
He is more than life to me;
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see.

Love of Christ so freely given,
Grace of God beyond degree,
Mercy higher than the heaven,
Deeper than the deepest sea!


What a wonderful redemption!
Never can a mortal know
How my sin, tho red like crimson,
Can be whiter than the snow.


Every need His hand supplying,
Every good in Him I see;
On His strength divine relying,
He is all in all to me.


By the crystal flowing river
With the ransomed I will sing,
And forever and forever
Praise and glorify the King.


Friday, October 23, 2009

If the H1N1 Vaccine Is Such a Big Problem...

...what on earth do you think it will look like when the government is in charge of nearly all of your healthcare?

My wife and I have been thoroughly disgusted when we watch the news and see paranoid, physically healthy people act desperate to get the H1N1 flu shot for themselves and their healthy children. (It doesn't help that the news media exploit and perpetuate this paranoia.) The local news crew inevitably finds some poor soul who wasn't close enough to the front of the line to receive her vaccine, and show her pouring out her emotions (anger, sorrow, bitterness, desperation; tears are often present) regarding the shortfall for the 6:00 broadcast.

Such broadcasts usually contain obligatory mentions of the government not being able to deliver the promised number of dosages of the flu shots.

I do not intend to mock those who, having sought the advice of a wise doctor, are attempting to receive something which is medically important or necessary. If your doctor feels that you should get a flu shot this year, far be it from me to convince you otherwise.

What I do intend to mock, however, is the notion that the government can provide for your health needs. Vaccinations are among the more routine elements of healthcare. My children have been dutifully getting theirs at various ages for years.

Yet, here we see that the government cannot even "make happen" the delivery of millions of flu shots, despite months of planning! If we can't count on the government to deliver on a fairly simple promise of flu shot delivery with months of preparation—and mind you, you'd be ill-advised to count on the government for this—how well should we anticipate government delivery of significant and life-saving healthcare?

In other words, if they can't even get flu shots done right, why should we have any confidence in the government's ability to deliver more critical healthcare to its citizens?

Kudos to blogprof for the link; check out his own personal story of how the vaccination quest went!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What's Up With a 90% Pay Cut?

Today we learn from (and others):

The Treasury Department is expected to formally announce in the next few days a plan to slash annual salaries by about 90 percent from last year for the 25 highest-paid executives at the seven companies that received the most from the Wall Street bailout. Total compensation for the top executives at the firms would decline, on average, by about 50 percent.

The seven affected companies are: Bank of America, American International Group, Citigroup, General Motors, GMAC, Chrysler and Chrysler Financial.

Smaller companies and those that have repaid the bailout money, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., are not affected.

On the one hand, it can be argued that since these companies have essentially sold (or leased, or mortgaged, or whatever term you prefer) their souls for government bailout money, and since "the borrower is servant to the lender," that the government is perfectly entitled to keep these companies' executives' pay at whatever level it sees fit.

On the other hand, it can be argued that government interference in the compensation of law-abiding company employees is a gross violation of civil and corporate rights, and sets a horrific precedent for future government interference.

So which side of the argument is correct? I would suggest that both sides are correct.

How is that so? This entire argument is based on a false premise: The idea that government should ever have "bailed out" the aforementioned companies in the first place. Whenever the government gets involved in an area that is beyond its constitutional boundaries or that interferes with the God-given rights of its citizens, it spawns a new set of issues...issues which generally have no simple means of resolution.

American citizens should be angered both by the arrogance of corporations to lavish wealth on executives who are taking their money while running these corporations into the ground, and also on the government, for interfering in the process. Their greatest anger should be directed toward the fact that we ever got here in the first place.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hymn of the Week: Praise the Savior, Ye Who Know Him

Praise the Savior! It is something every Christian should do automatically and frequently, but we (alas!) do not. The five stanzas of this hymn give us a variety of reasons why we should.

My favorite verse (today) is the 3rd: A reminder that no matter what happens here on earth, nothing can separate us from our Savior. That is a great reason to offer praise!

Meditate and be blessed.

Praise the Savior, Ye Who Know Him

Praise the Savior, ye who know Him!
Who can tell how much we owe Him?
Gladly let us render to Him
All we are and have.

Jesus is the Name that charms us,
He for conflict fits and arms us;
Nothing moves and nothing harms us
While we trust in Him.

Trust in Him, ye saints, forever,
He is faithful, changing never;
Neither force nor guile can sever
Those He loves from Him.

Keep us, Lord, O keep us cleaving
To Thyself, and still believing,
Till the hour of our receiving
Promised joys with Thee.

Then we shall be where we would be,
Then we shall be what we should be,
Things that are not now, nor could be,
Soon shall be our own.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fox News Polls: Some Interesting Statistics!

Fox News Poll: 43 Percent Would Vote To Re-Elect President Obama - Political News -

The headline-grabber from this batch of statistics is above: Only 43% of voters would vote to re-elect the president today. Considering that he won about 53% of the popular vote eleven months ago, this tells us that he would receive approximately 19% fewer votes. Considering that his vote total was about 69.5 million in 2008, a 19% drop would shrink that to about 56.3 million—about 3.6 million fewer than John McCain actually received.

Perhaps we can conclude that at least 13.2 million Americans have awakened. That's a good start.

On the other hand, 60% of voters think the president is "a strong and decisive leader." So there's still work to do.

Did Obama deserve the Nobel Prize? 38% of democrats, 74% of independents, and 91% of republicans did not think so. Overall, that's 65% of Americans who think he did not deserve it.

Then there's this closing paragraph from the article:

Finally, in a rare example of bipartisan agreement, majorities of Democrats, 53 percent, Republicans, 78 percent, and Independents, 61 percent, agree the country is more divided these days. All in all, 64 percent of Americans think the country is more politically divided today -- that's more than twice the number who say it is not more divided, 31 percent.
"Bipartisan" refers to two parties. Three groups are mentioned. Hmmm....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Sharpton!

From this article comes the news that Rush Limbaugh's participation in a group seeking to buy the St. Louis Rams has been, um, ended. It is unfortunate that the liberal establishment was able to so easily interfere with the free market.

But from the article comes this nauseating tidbit:

The move was hailed by the Rev. Al Sharpton, one of the most vocal critics of Limbaugh's bid.

"It is a moral victory for all Americans — especially the players that have been unfairly castigated by Rush Limbaugh," Sharpton said in a statement. "This decision will also uphold the unifying standards of major sports."

Sharpton added in a telephone interview that major sports leagues shouldn't welcome owners who are "divisive and incendiary."

Every major pro sports franchise has dealings with its community, he said. "It's unfair for taxpayers to be underwriting people who denigrate them," he said.

I have no idea where that last quote came from.

Al Sharpton, to put it simply, is a "divisive and incendiary" man—the poster child of race bating, white-man-hating, complain-instead-of-do-something-worthwhile liberal America. He is a fool. The fact of his skin color is irrelevant—he is a fool.

What I want to know is this: Why is this man paraded out (or, as if often the case, he parades himself out) into the limelight so often? Why do the news cameras not come to visit me for what would surely be better-thought-out, better-delivered, less hateful commentary from someone with fewer bad hair days? Why do they instead trumpet the opinions of a hateful, divisive, and incendiary foolish man?

Hypocrisy is often defined as pointing out the flaws in another when you have not dealt with those same flaws yourself. Al Sharpton may someday get his picture in the dictionary next to that word.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hymn of the Week: He Is Able to Deliver Thee

You cannot get to heaven by your own good works, no matter how good or how many. Deliverance from the eternal punishment we deserve comes only through the salvation provided by Jesus Christ. He, and He alone, can deliver us!

Have you been delivered by faith in Christ?

He Is Able to Deliver Thee

’Tis the grandest theme through the ages rung;
’Tis the grandest theme for a mortal tongue;
’Tis the grandest theme that the world e’er sung,
“Our God is able to deliver thee.”


He is able to deliver thee,
He is able to deliver thee;
Though by sin oppressed, go to Him for rest;
“Our God is able to deliver thee.”

’Tis the grandest theme in the earth or main;
’Tis the grandest theme for a mortal strain;
’Tis the grandest theme, tell the world again,
“Our God is able to deliver thee.”


’Tis the grandest theme, let the tidings roll,
To the guilty heart, to the sinful soul;
Look to God in faith, He will make thee whole,
“Our God is able to deliver thee.”


Thursday, October 8, 2009

High Expectations: Raising the Bar

My alma mater publishes a quarterly magazine for nearly everyone on its mailing list (prospective students, donors, alumni, parents, etc.) called the BJU Review. We always enjoy reading it and learning about various things going on at the university.

It is also well known that my alma mater is among the strictest schools in the land when it comes to the activities students are permitted/required to participate in. I have no problem with this, nor did I when I was a student. Even if I did not like every single rule, I voluntarily went there, understanding all this and agreeing to obey those rules.

I also knew then, and much more so now, that rules, obedience, and discipline are highly significant to the development of character. I am a better man today because of my experiences as a Bob Jones University student nearly two decades ago. I hope that my children likewise get to experience what my wife and I did as students there.

BJU catches a lot of flak for requiring arcane things like...

  • Keeping your dorm room clean
  • Attending your classes...on time
  • Forbidding the beverage use of alcohol
  • Going to bed instead of staying up all night doing the things you should have done during waking hours
  • Going to chapel...on time
  • Keeping your hands off members of the opposite sex
I have no regrets about the character that was developed in my life as a result of putting myself under these rules. In this quarter's BJU Review, there is a very well-written article entitled "Raising the Bar" that discusses the fact that, as it says at the top of the page, "BJU's high expectations are intentional and give our students a practical edge." I want to quote a few segments from the article below.
"Of course, as a Christian college, expectations for moral excellence are a given. Cheating, substance abuse, immorality and other unbiblical behaviors are never tolerated. They're simply not part of our campus culture, because these activities are condemned in Scripture no matter what the context.

"But our high expectations go beyond moral considerations. We maintain a high standard of professional dress. Residence hall students are expected to keep their rooms clean. Students are accountable for their attendance at classes, chapel, and cultural programs—and for getting there on time. And they're strongly encouraged to take on extra responsibilities by ministering to the community and to area churches.

"At times these expectations cause extra pressure on the student—and that's by design, since a reasonable amount of pressure can be a great catalyst for growth.

"A student having trouble getting projects finished while trying to balance work hours, Saturday morning Bible club and soccer practice can't take the easy way out by skipping class whenever he has a deadline. Instead he has to figure out a way to better manage the time he does have—a skill that will be invaluable down the road when he needs to balance bigger responsibilities such as a career, local church ministry and family."

"Instead of lowering the bar to make things easier, BJU keeps the bar high and then works with students so they can achieve more than they expected of themselves.

"When our graduates go on to the next step of their lives, we don't expect that they'll wear ties every weekday or clean their sinks every morning. These aspects of BJU student life are limited to the college years by design. But we hope that the good habits, high expectations and push for excellence learned during these years will follow them far beyond graduation."

"Student life at BJU is different than at most other colleges. And that makes sense, since we're aiming for a different goal. our high expectations are part of our mission to equip the whole person—and we think they make a lasting difference in the lives of our graduates."
They are right. I'm glad that bar is still set high at Bob Jones University, and I hope it stays there.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Doonesbury: Equal Opportunity Slamming?

Doonesbury, the well-known cartoon by G. B. Trudeau, annoyed me often during the past eight years with its sometimes-vicious insults of President Bush.

Apparently Mr. Trudeau, unlike most of the MSM, does not give the current president the cult-like obeisance they do, as evidenced by this cartoon from Sept. 27 (click on it to view it at full size):

Drawing parallels between Nazis and Obama? I guess this gives him credibility when he claims he slams both political parties.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hymn of the Week: Victory In Jesus

We do well to remember that in the end, Jesus will defeat the forces of Satan and evil. In the meantime, it is all too easy to focus on lost battles and spiritual defeats that could have been avoided.

The hymn below, written by Eliza Hewitt, reminds us to be upbeat because spiritual victory is coming! Indeed, those of us who have trusted Jesus Christ for salvation are already on that winning side.

Be encouraged...and strive to work for Him in pursuit of victory.

Victory In Jesus

Soldiers of King Jesus, raise the shout again,
Victory in Jesus, victory!
Marching to the music of the glad refrain,
Victory in Jesus evermore.


Victory, victory, victory in Jesus!
Sing His overcoming blood, sing the grace that frees us;
Ring it out more boldly, song of faith and cheer,
Till the whole wide world shall hear.

O’er the pow’rs of darkness, o’er the hosts of sin,
Victory in Jesus, victory!
Trusting, watching, praying, we shall surely win,
Victory in Jesus evermore.


Send the happy watchword all along the line,
Victory in Jesus, victory!
Let all error perish, lives the truth divine,
Victory in Jesus evermore.


For His church and kingdom, for each trusting soul,
Victory in Jesus, victory!
From the courts of Heaven joyful paeans roll,
Victory in Jesus evermore.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Detroit Public Schools: Another Outrage!

September 30, in addition to begin the deadline when the state of Michigan is supposed to get its state budget passed, is what we call "Count Day" here in Michigan. The short version of the story is that (a) it is the day when school districts must get an "official" count of their student populations, and (b) that official count is multiplied by a per pupil allowance to determine how much $$$ the district will get from the state for the year.

You don't have to be a multiplication or public policy expert to see that districts want both numbers (the "count," and the per pupil allowance) to be as large as possible.

The Detroit Public Schools (DPS) school district is among the very worst in the civilized world. Its graduation rate is around 25%, pitiful by any standard whatsoever. Its student population has gone from about 160,000 just nine years ago to a projected 83,777 this year—a decline of more than 47% in under a decade! It is unsafe and has a bureaucracy that socialists envy. Its financial integrity is mocked by Bernie Madoff. Blogprof has a running list of commentary on DPS, if you want to immerse yourself in its failures.

So what do you do on Count Day? Do you attempt to restore financial integrity? Do you announce new academic expectations? No. You bribe students to come to school.

Articles in the WSJ and Detroit News give further details. It is a disgrace of the highest order...and that's saying something, considering how disgraceful DPS already is.