Faith & Learning Blog
Connecting Faith and Learning Blog
Our theme for the 2018-2019 School Year is “Called to Love” and the primary text from Scripture for this theme is 1 John 4:7-21. This is an extraordinary passage of Scripture that we are challenging our whole CCS community (from kids to grandparents) to memorize over the school year.
There are many important truths in these 15 verses which are thus packed into the meaning behind our “theme” for this school year. .
Here are some thoughts for you to ponder as you begin pouring over these verses.
1. The kind of love we are “called” to receive and to experience is sourced in God; not in people (1 John 4:7,10, 17, 19)
2. If people have not received this love which comes only from God, they will not be able love others the way God intends (1 John 4:8, 20, 21).
3. The TriUne God’s true and perfect love is revealed to us by God the Father in His Son Jesus Christ (who is God the Son a member of the Trinity). This revelation of God’s love took place when Jesus entered our world (Christmas), and also through His sacrifice to remove our sin (Easter). Our sin precludes us from receiving and experiencing God’s love (1 John 4:9-10, 14)
4. God’s “Call to Love” is an invitation to receive Jesus and become a “new creation” in Him, so that “…it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20b; see also 1 John 4:16-17).
There are actually several very helpful Scripture memory Apps for your phone which will help you practice and review these 15 verses over and over, as God’s Living Word enters your mind, your heart and soul. Let’s memorize this material together!
Here are some great app's to check out that will help you with scripture memorization!
REPOST: This blog post was originally shared during a High School chapel by Dirk Jasperse, former CCHS Science teacher. Mr. Jasperse is now teaching at Rosslyn Academy, a private Christian school, in Nairobi, Kenya.
I have a great classroom, but with the lab counters taking up floor space, the desks are pretty close together. You fill those up with students, with legs sticking out, and giant backpacks in the aisles and it is a pretty crowded situation. With the coming of Chromebooks and access to electronic textbooks this year, I was really looking forward to having no need for all these huge backpacks. Nice for you, I thought, less to lug around. Nice for me, no backpacks clogging the aisles. Wrong! Now you have your Chromebooks PLUS your enormous backpacks. You carry a lot of equipment around with you. It always amazes me how a student can carry around so much stuff, and sometimes still not have a pencil when you need one, or a calculator, or a periodic table. Lots of equipment, but not always equipped.
Calvin Christian School exists to equip students. Not equipped with notebooks and pens and calculators, but to equip students with God’s truth. Stop and think about that for a moment. This school exists for you. Our prime piece of property, all our buildings and fields, soon to be a new $4.7 M building, teachers who have spent 20, 30, or 40 years of their lives here - everything we have and everything we are . . . is for YOU. This is all here because parents, your teachers, and the Christian community that has supported this school since its inception, feel very strongly about Christian education. Because we want you to be equipped for a life and an eternity with God. Doesn’t that make you feel important and valuable, that this is all for you? And maybe humble and thankful that someone would do this all for you?
But hopefully this will help you get the point that that being equipped is really important.
In the late 1890’s gold was discovered in the Klondike River in the Yukon. Thousands of prospectors swarmed to the Yukon, many arriving by ship in Skagway, Alaska, hiking the 33-mile trail up and over the Chilkoot pass, and then rafting the rest of the way to the Klondike. The Canadian government knew that gold fever had such an allure that many would rush in unprepared for the rigors of the harsh life they would find there. To prevent theft, violence, devastation of the land, and mass starvation, the Canadian government required everyone crossing the border from Alaska into the Yukon to have 1 TON of supplies. That, they judged, was enough to keep a prospector outfitted for one year. At the top of the Chilkoot pass, at the border between Alaska and Canada, the Canadian Mounties had scales set up and no prospector was allowed into Canada unless he had with him 2000 lbs of supplies. Carrying a 50 lb pack, that’s 40 trips up the trail. They say there were so many people going up the Chilkoot Trail that if you stepped out of line to tie your boots, you might have to wait 3 hours to squeeze yourself back in the line. I imagine that the stampeders thought long and hard about what to include in their 2000 lbs of equipment. They had to be well equipped. Not only their access to the gold fields depended on it, their lives depended on it.
Look at Matthew 25 and think about what Jesus is saying about equipping:
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Now the teaching of this parable is not just to plan ahead and be prepared. Jesus is saying that those who seek the coming of the kingdom of God are wise. Calvin Christian is trying to equip you with that kind of wisdom.
Equipment must match purpose. No use having a backpack and hiking boots if you are going to run a cross country race. No need to have your calculator and periodic table if you are going to English class. What equipment do you need? What is our purpose in this Christian school and how are we equipping you?
Here are some of the ways:
We want to widen your awareness of God in the world. Many people can “see” God when they look at the Grand Canyon or a sunset over the Pacific Ocean or a miraculous healing. I hope you can too. But we are equipping you to also see God in cells and atoms and Newton’s Laws and the logic of math and in the patterns of history and in the intricacies of language and in a musical phrase and in developing athletic skill. We are equipping you to widen your awareness of God.
We want you to be able to engage culture in a Christian way. Literature, politics, sports, media, the arts, technology. None of these are neutral. We want you to know how to bring your Christian values to bear on all aspects of culture. Not to separate yourself from culture but to enjoy culture, to participate in it in a God-pleasing way, and influence it, helping to transform it for Christ. That’s why we study Newton and Einstein, and even Darwin. That’s why we read the Bible and CS Lewis and John Calvin, but we also read Steinbeck and Orwell and F. Scott Fitzgerald. We are equipping you to participate discerningly in culture as a citizen of the kingdom of God.
Here are some verses from the New Testament about equipping and what it is for:
Works of service. So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
Good works. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:11-17
God to work in us what is pleasing to him. Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
One final story about being equipped, or in this case, not equipped: You live only 5 hours (280 miles) from the highest point in the continental US - Mt Whitney. (It is also remarkable that the highest point in the lower 48 states - Mt. Whitney - and the lowest point - Badwater in Death Valley -- are less than 100 miles apart.) A number of years ago, I was part of a group that was going to climb Mt. Whitney. It is a very challenging hike: 11 miles one way, 22 miles round trip, all in one day. It is steep and tough. You never really see much of the first few miles of the trail because you start out in the dark in the early hours of the morning and you end in the dark later that night.
The night before our hike, I stowed my gear in a bear box and went to sleep in my van in the campground near the trailhead. I was awakened in the middle of the night by some crunching, munching noises just outside the van. I sat up and looked outside. There was food and food wrappers and all kinds of stuff strewn all over the ground, and there was a large bear chomping noisily away at the jackpot of food he had found. Someone had come in off the trail and had not properly latched the bear box. I got out of the van shooed away the bear. I looked in the bear box and in all the debri on the ground, searching for my backpack and all my supplies for the hike. All my stuff was gone. It was one o’clock in the morning.
I searched deeper into the woods, in the direction that the bear had gone, thinking that maybe the bear had dragged my pack away and maybe I could find it lying on the ground somewhere in the woods. So I’m wandering around in the woods, in the dark, in the middle of the night, by myself, with the bear probably just behind the next tree or rock. Nothing. My backpack was gone, my food was gone, my water bottles, my hat, my jacket, even the legs to my zip-off pants -- everything gone.
How could I possibly make this very difficult hike without all my very carefully chosen equipment? I was still determined to go on the hike. I began to think about how I could do it with no equipment. I had a duffle bag in the car, a cheap Padres giveaway. I slung that over my shoulder and that became my backpack. I went into the campground bathroom and found some empty water bottles in the trash can. (I was not going to let that bear get the best me!) I washed them out in the bathroom sink, filled them with water. Someone in our group gave me some green grapes, so now I had food and water. There was no way I could expose my bald head to the midsummer rays coming down through thin mountain air. I had an long-sleeved T-shirt in my van, also a Padres’ giveaway, so I tied that like turban around my head. By now it was 2:00 in the morning and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get back to sleep so I just started up the trail.
Well, . . . I made it to the top, and I made it back down. But an already difficult climb was made much more difficult by my lack of equipment. As I went up the trail, I kept seeing other hikers with their fancy equipment - $200 backpacks, camelbak hydration systems, telescoping walking sticks, trail mix and protein bars, $50 hats from REI or LL Bean. Here I was with my used water bottles, a few slightly brown green grapes, a Padres giveaway duffle bag, and a T-shirt tied around my head!
My point: Being equipped is important. The right equipment can go a long way toward making life easier, better, more productive, and more fulfilling, more honoring to God. CCHS is here to equip you - for now, for life, for eternity.
For right now. You are not just in training for something in your future. You are already on life’s journey. You need equipping for decisions, attitudes, serving, and understanding -- right now, whatever your age or situation.
For life. You have many years ahead of you. The equipment you are gathering now can serve you, God, and others, well for many years to come.
For eternity. You will live forever on the new earth that will come into being with Christ’s return. Being equipped for life with God here and now is shaping you for life with him forever.
What do you have to do? Simply be aware of what we are trying to do for you. We are not here to pile work on you and to make your life difficult. We are here to equip you. So, accept it. Appreciate it. Embrace it. Value it. Don’t wish you were somewhere else. Use what we have to offer you. Let yourself be shaped. Be equipped.
We don’t want you to go through life looking like a goof with a T-shirt tied around your head and drinking out of used water bottles. We want you to be fully equipped for good works, for service, and for God’s work in your life.
My husband and I have worked in public schools for almost two decades. Education and school community are important ideas to both of us. When it came to our own children, we enrolled them in public school to begin their educational journey. And yet it didn’t meet our needs. The school was too big and the teachers, for all their hard work and dedication, didn’t have time for the personalized attention we had hoped for our children.
So we began to research other options and through a recommendation from some friends of my in-laws, we discovered Calvin. We toured in the spring and fell in love with the elementary school. There were small classes with amazing teachers who nurtured, educated, and showered God’s love on little ones helping them grow into thoughtful, kind, young adults. In the elementary school hallways, students of all grades said good morning to each other and laughter filled the air. In the classrooms, children learned new ideas and grew in their love for God as well.
Fast-forward a couple of years later and my children love going to Calvin. During square time in the morning, the Principal leads a thoughtful discussion and prayer, which centers their morning and supports their spiritual growth and character development. For my son, who was the one who moved from public school to Calvin, his teachers at Calvin have been an amazing resource for him. They have been a blessing in his life, supporting him and helping him to find a new home. My daughter, who started in the Calvin preschool and then transitioned to kindergarten with a whole class of friends, has thrived at Calvin from the very beginning. Her favorite classes are Math, Art, and Bible and her faith grows daily alongside her academic learning. She believes she can be anything because her teachers have taught her she can conquer any challenge.
For our part, my husband and I have found our community as well. Volunteering at Calvin has broadened my faith and my friendship circle. Working with the amazing parents on the Calvin Christian Service Group allows me to give back to a school that has already given my children so much. Through Calvin, our children have also learned the importance of service, completing projects for Interfaith and Little Angels Service Dogs, as well as many other nonprofit organizations. They are learning that they are part of a much larger world and that we must show compassion and love to all people. Calvin has given so much to our family in just a couple years and I look forward to the journey of faith and compassion in the years to come.
When you are asked the question, “Why Christian school?”, what is your reply? Do you perhaps point to the biblical imperative that parents should teach their children the faith, or perhaps you cite the sociological evidence that subcultures are effective at reproducing religious faith? Maybe you argue that Christian schools are a conserving force in the face of moral decay in our culture, and perhaps you point out that the broader liberal arts curriculum found in many independent Christian schools generally produces better academic outcomes compared to public school. Data from the Cardus education survey would help you to underline many of those points with empirical evidence. I think they are all good reasons, yet none of them is the answer I am inclined to give.
The Historical Perspective
I want to begin with some time travel. I was a high school history teacher so it is my natural inclination to look backward. This may frustrate those of you dying to shake the dust of the past from your feet and do something new and exciting with school. Please be patient, because the most profitable time travel moves between worlds and not just chronology. The best time travelers, of course, are children like Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy or the Murry and O’Keefe families. On their travels, they learn to think differently about questions common to all the ages, they learn what is real and lasting, and they learn who they are. They do this because they leave what is familiar and they wrestle with these questions in the midst of new adventures, although they remain in the same storybook.
We enjoy universal, free public education in the West, largely because the Church cared enough to educate the poor. We are also constrained today, in both our private and public school systems, by an outdated industrial model. This is because the priority in the nineteenth century was a virtuous, efficient, numerate, and literate workforce. That remains a significant priority today and it matters, but on its own it’s not a big enough reason for Christian school. Historians of education profitably trace for us the theological, denominational, and constitutional discussions that gave rise to separate systems of education (public, parochial, independent, Catholic, and Protestant schools)—but a good time traveler will go a step further.
A good time traveler will ask if Christians had some different answers that we have forgotten about today. They might wonder if the small one-roomed schoolhouse fitted to the times and seasons of an agrarian community has something to say to our obsession with timetables, early starts, and after-school clubs. They might wonder about the fact that teachers had respect in the local community and that older children often instructed their peers. They might also wonder about the dangers of only forming young people for limited vocations determined by class, race, religion, or gender. They might wonder about the fact that our ancestors thought that religious and spiritual literacy were part of being an informed and well-rounded person, not dangerous tools of indoctrination. They might wonder about the fact that in many cases, these were schools for all of the children who lived in the parish. The point is not to romanticize Christian schooling in the past, but neither should we treat it as an anachronism. A good time traveler will be inspired by a generation that—without any model of what systems of Christian education should look like—built them in an attempt to provide some of the things that our culture needs from school, if our culture is going to flourish.
The Same Answer, No Matter the Time
Jesus was not a time traveler; the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus split time and space, they did not merely wrinkle it. God’s intervention in this tear through the fabric of the universe was Himself, His presence, and His kingdom. Jesus is God’s answer to what our culture needs. Jesus is my answer to, “Why Christian school?”
I spent some time recently talking to parents and young people in my community about their dreams and their fears. I would encourage you to do the same. What I heard back was a combination of exciting plans for the future, desires for relationships of love and friendship—tempered with nostalgia for things left behind, and fears about being hurt, lonely, and rejected. Good time travelers would tell us that these are universal to humans across time and place. What happens is that we express these desires in concrete ways when we ask questions like: How will this school equip my child to succeed in the future? Will you be teaching math the way it was taught when I was at school? What will happen to this class if we let in lots of non-English speakers? Will my child fall away from the faith when they go to university?
The point of school is teaching and learning; it is never less than that, but teaching and learning is a big important vision and it happens most effectively in community. It happens in school, in family, and in your place of worship. In our contemporary culture, that place of worship could easily be a shopping mall or sports field. When Jesus meets with us and shows Himself to be the answer to all that our culture lacks or destroys, He is teaching and forming us. In turn, we are learning and being formed by Jesus more and more into His likeness. We need to participate in Christian community in order to know Jesus. We need to participate in Christian community so that the kingdom of God can shape us, and we need Christian community in order to be a blessing to our time and place. I have summed this up elsewhere as purpose, rigor, and service.
This doesn’t happen accidentally, as a by-product of one particular curriculum, or because everyone has signed a covenantal statement. It happens intentionally as we look for Jesus to be the answer to the new cultural questions, worlds, and stories that are turning up in our schools.
Questions to Consider
If you are interested in thinking more deeply about how today’s Christian school engages with culture, here is a checklist for you:
Have we asked the local community recently about what they might need from this school? Have we talked with our school community about their hopes and fears for the future? Have we talked recently with local church leaders about our partnership in faith formation? Have we asked our students recently to tell us what they think school is for? Have we asked them to share with us the questions they have about Jesus and the kingdom of God?
Christian school at its best is a signpost to the kingdom of God. It is a way of showing what flourishing community looks like with the potential to bless our culture for good.