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Building for the Future (3)
Where are we headed? I was reading an article lately on a related topic by the Rev. J.C. Philpot, which some of you may also have read. He was posing the question, “How practical is our Bible instruction?” He asks the important question, “Is our teaching nothing but doctrine, doctrine, doctrine, or are we holding up biblical precept to be sought for and practiced?” For his argument, he noted the distinctive and peculiar place that Christian precept or practice occupies in the epistles of Paul, by suggesting that the quantity of information on precepts in these epistles would surprise most people—maybe even most of us. In taking the Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians, he notes that, out of the six chapters, three are filled with precept, exhortation, admonition, warning, and direction. For example, in chapter 4 verse 26 we read, “… let not the sun go down upon your wrath,” or in verse 29, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,” and again in verses 31 and 32, “Let all bitterness and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,” etc. Or again, from chapter 5: “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetous-ness, let it not once be named among you… neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient, but rather giving of thanks;… See then that ye walk… redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Or, from chapter 6, the familiar first verses “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right… And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.” Or again in chapter 4, “I therefore,… beseech you that ye walk wor-thy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
I would suggest that we have some teaching work to do in this area. Let us hold up the scriptural goals of lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance, love, unity, forgiveness, warning against uncleanness, lying, anger, bitterness, evil speaking, in a world which doesn’t preach these things. We need classes for teens and pre-married couples, not only for individual walk and conduct, but for our families’ sakes. Our young people are searching for direction!
Philpot notes that in Colossians, two out of four chapters are preceptive. In 1 Thessalonians, 46 verses are practice and obedience versus 43 which are doctrinal. He looks at Rom. 12:1 through 15:7—”be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds.” “Rejoice with them that rejoice and weep with them that weep.” “Avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath.” “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink.” “Render tribute to whom tribute is due.” “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.”
Education according to our Informed faith is the central £foal of our schools.
Philpot says, “Can it be right to treat this vital, practical godliness with little emphasis and no more attention than the last chapters of Ezekiel which we little read and less understand?” He asks, “How can we be complete ministers (or teachers), if we neglect those parts of Scripture?” Is our teaching balanced in this area? The goal of “instruction is righteousness” is much needed. The world in which we live demands that we give more practical guidance to our students, our families, in our schools and our churches.
Where are we headed? Joel 1:3 says, “Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.” In this simple way, by God’s grace, truth is to be kept alive in our land. Let us hand down a witness for the gospel to our descendants, so “that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments” (Ps. 78:7). This duty is first to begin in our homes, as a parental duty. But this must be continued in school. Let us not neglect biblical admonition by passing the responsibility to the teacher next hour, or to the principal, for that matter. Deal with these things in your classrooms because you are nearest to the issues; when that fails, pass it to the next higher authority.
Secularism is advancing in our countries at an alarming rate; the most effective means for resisting its progress is too much neglected, namely, the practical instruction of our students in our religion. It must become a pleasant duty to talk of the ways of the Lord to our students. As one forefather has noted, “This is often the means that God will use to draw sinners, namely, the prayer and admonition of parents, pastors, and teachers.” Let us not become so academic that our religious priority is pushed to the background.
Where are we headed? Let us not make education, important as it may be, a god. The writer of Ecclesiastes saw all earthly experiences, without God, as vanity. He thought he would find happiness in education, in pleasure, but failed. He found gold and money didn’t satisfy; then he tried homes, pools, trees, servants, singers, and musical instruments, and found that all of it was vanity, worthless, apart from God. Let’s urge our students to get as much education as possible, realizing that even college is not for everyone. But education itself will not make one happy. There are many educated persons who have remained fools. Educational methods and theories change, but fundamental truth does not. Let us not compromise truth to somehow make it more relevant Truth can’t be added to or changed in any way. Let us continue to offer education in all areas based on truth. All else is vanity.
Education according to our Reformed faith is the central goal of our schools. Let’s not lose sight of this in our scramble to meet goals, deadlines, and textbook page numbers. Luther once said, “I would advise no one to send his child to a school where the Scriptures are not supreme. Every institution that does not unceasingly pursue the study of God’s Word becomes corrupt.” We are seeing a steady influx of families into our schools that really want the Scriptures to be supreme in the education of their children. By God’s grace, let us not fail.
Where are we headed? Let us continue to offer a better than average learning environment—a teacher-directed inquiring classroom, where we, as teachers are aware of, and make use of, where necessary, the latest in instructional equipment and methodology. We must not fail to give our students also the best preparation for life in this world. Let us continue to bring instructional aids into our classrooms and take our students out of the classrooms, when appropriate. Let’s visit historical homes, battlefields, museums, and botanical gardens. Go to Williamsburg, Virginia, and Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Go to the heart of government in your cities, states, provinces, or nations. See government in action. We cry against the evils of society, of rock music and television, and cry we must. But let us also offer alternatives, beginning when children are young. Let’s get involved ourselves. Our schools must lead the way. We will not always see immediate results and it’s often hard to be patient. But let’s help our children appreciate the arts, nature, and history, little by little. The results, with God’s blessing, can be very rewarding.
Yet, some of you are thinking, we can’t do it all, with our limited funds and resources. We can’t offer the complete extra-curricular program and the extensive social life of a larger school. Is it possible for us to still be successful? Yes, it is, but we must set our priorities in proper order. Do well with what you do, and don’t try to spread yourself in areas where you can’t offer something that you are happy with. Our small schools can be assets, not liabilities.
We must offer a vigorous, academic education, with goals clearly set in our own minds. We must do well with what we claim to offer. A few things done well are better than a lot of things half done. If we claim to be academic schools, let’s concentrate on some extra things which might improve that image. If we want to be seen as loving/compassionate people (and we do want that), let us give time and money to our Senior Citizens, to the Cancer Society, to our children’s hospitals; let us encourage our students to volunteer as hospital aides. Let us be leaders in environmental cleanup.
Because our staffs are working more than normally in most cases, is it possible to find parents to help with the yearbook, the school newspaper, or to assist in coaching an academic team? Get a parent who is skilled in an area to come into your building to share his/her expertise. This year, for example, we had a parent who is a skilled CPA for an oil firm assist with practical applications in our Economics class.
Where are we headed? Let’s have an ideal, a vision for the future. Let’s be leaders in education; we cannot command it, but we can inspire it. Let’s be encouraging people. Let’s positively point the way. Let’s be strong models of that which we want our students to be. Respect must be earned by our behavior. Let’s work together for the good of all of us, realizing that we desperately need our Boards, staffs, parents, and volunteers. We need each other! Let’s teach our children that, in an ever-changing world, the best things really haven’t changed—the best things are still worth praying for, worth seeking for, worth waiting for. Managers get people to do things; leaders get people to want to do them. Are we managing or leading?
We must continue in the directum of a God-centered education in a self-centered society.
I am impressed with the farming here in Iowa. In a natural way, planting, digging, fertilizing, and pruning bring a revival of life in the field. Labor we must. Goals in life are still attainable through effort, practice, and hard thinking. Yet, with all our labor, the rain of the Spirit is so desperately needed, like the outward rain here in Iowa. We too, are sowing seed, hoping and praying that God’s Word will produce fruits in our own hearts, and in the hearts of our students. Farming is a dirty, tiring job, but it must be more than just physical work. There must be hope, and then satisfaction as you see your labor bring forth healthy plants. So too, our teaching must be a labor of hope—hope that our labor will not return void, but will accomplish that which God has sent it forth to do by our hand. Without the sun and rain, the farmer’s labor is in vain. So too, our labor must cause us to have a deep sense of dependence on God. Just as a farmer must be thankful for the sunshine after rain, and rain after drought, so also a teacher needs sunshine so that he/she is not discouraged. We need rain, cloud, and storm to be kept humble. We must live closer to the Lord for our daily needs. The farmer’s best efforts are still marred by insects, disease, and weeds; so too, our efforts are marred by our sin and the evil nature of our students. May our constant prayer be, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Where are we going? Our schools have something special to offer. We share values to live with and a foundation to die with. Are we grateful for the opportunity, the privilege which we have as teachers in our schools? To be sure, there are many discouragements within and without, but may our sorrows, struggles, and tears be found primarily in our inner chambers. Our schools/classrooms must be pillars of hope, both spiritually and academically. The God of Elisha still lives. May we be given to see that “they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”
The forces of evil within and without are very strong. One of our duties as schools is to teach discernment: to call evil, evil, and good, good. May God give us wisdom to separate truth from error and light from darkness. That’s why we have published some materials. Let’s use these good things, and seek to publish more. Sin in its various forms can bring discouragement and fear for the future, but the future is the Lord’s. May the encouragements that God has given to our schools in the past and present spur us on into the unknown future. May we learn and continue to hear Proverbs 4:11-13 “I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her, for she is thy life.” Let us be aware of our own inabilities and may that knowledge drive us to God from whom all our help comes.
Where are we going? We must continue in the direction of a God-centered education in a self-centered society. May we provide true, biblical, total-life Christianity which exalts God and humbles man in a religious world of watered-down Christianity. May there be power in our religion, and not form only. May God give us eyes to see through these difficult times, and ears to hear His voice of rededication to our tasks.
R. Ten Elshofis administrator of Plymouth Christian High School, Crand Rapids, Michigan.
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Bekijk de hele uitgave van maandag 1 januari 1990
The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's
Bekijk de hele uitgave van maandag 1 januari 1990
The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's