Growing a God-Centered Garden

Following is a short piece by Andy Stapleton, a Rhetoric School teacher at MHA, that first appeared in the March issue of the Highland Times.

At January’s Worldview Summit in Washington, D.C., one of the speakers said something very simple, yet very profound: “Culture is an expression of theology.” The significance of this statement grows as we come to realize that every group of people has a “culture.” Whether or not the group intentionally pursues a particular “culture,” every nation, corporation, church, team, school and family has one. This is why it’s impossible for the public square (or public schools) to be theologically neutral. Someone’s beliefs will inevitably be expressed in the culture.

How does culture express theology? Every culture assumes certain fundamental beliefs about God, human beings, the created world, etc. In class, we discuss worldview questions such as “What are human beings?” or “What is wrong with the world?” and then “What is the solution to the world’s problem?” Our answers to these three questions dictate how we interact with each other. Our beliefs about human beings determine how men and women treat one another, how parents treat children and vice versa, and how all of us treat the very old and the very young. In the school setting, what do we do with the disobedient child? How do we treat the child who excels but then becomes conceited? Our approach depends on our theology. To quote the title of one of my most memorable college textbooks, “Ideas Have Consequences.”

Arguably, the most important idea of all is a culture’s answer to the question, “What is the chief end of man?” (Westminster Shorter Catechism 1) If man’s highest goal is to glorify himself and to enjoy “stuff” until he dies, one kind of culture is the result. If, however, man’s chief end is what God says it is in Scripture, we cultivate a culture aimed at loving God and loving our neighbors.

In the 21st century, we cannot avoid involving ourselves in “cultures” that do not express a God-centered theology. That’s okay, because God calls us to be light in a dark house. During our children’s formative years, however, immersing them in a God-centered culture is the best way to saturate their minds and hearts with the Word of God. We want to teach them that God’s perspective is relevant to every area of their lives. Making disciples means teaching them to observe everything Jesus commanded so that they, in turn, will be eager to seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness throughout their lives.

One of the most valuable features of MHA is our God-centered school culture. Whether in the classroom, in the lunchroom, on the court or on the stage, the Bible’s theology determines our perspectives and priorities. The challenges we face from the world, the flesh and the devil are real, but we pray that the Lord’s “living water” will enable us to cultivate this garden to be a place where strong, fruitful trees grow up to God’s glory.

Continue reading “Growing a God-Centered Garden”

Why the Future of Atheism is Bleak

The post linked below is good, in general. But, there are 2 things that stood out to me.

First, the biblical and realistic view of human nature set forth. Post-fall, we are a race of God-haters. Apart from the grace of regeneration, we would kill God if we had the opportunity. We live in an age of healing sin lightly because we don’t understand the enormity of sin in the first place and it’s pervasive deadly effect on our own hearts. We could all use a dose of Obadiah Sedgwick’s, “The Anatomy of Secret Sins.”

For some, this sounds like a downer. They’d rather talk of grace and love. Continue reading “Why the Future of Atheism is Bleak”

Most Regrettable

“The high-school English teacher will be fulfilling his responsibility if he furnishes the student a guided opportunity, through the best writing of the past, to come, in time, to an understanding of the best writing of the present. He will teach literature, not social studies or little lessons in democracy or the customs of many lands. And if the student finds that this is not to his taste? Well, that is regrettable. Most regrettable. His taste should not be consulted; it is being formed.”

This quote, from Flannery O’Connor, runs counter to so much of modern thinking but it’s consistent with the historical, classical thinking about education and children. The primary aim was to form the student, recognizing that each student comes to the classroom a sinner with little knowledge about God, the world, history, or himself. Everyone knew this was hard work and it required hard work in the process.

Often today, the educational process is driven or substantially informed by what the student believes is best for him. It’s akin to going to the doctor only to have the patient direct the care.

Failure or Crowning Achievement of Our Educational System?

Americans are proud to be Americans. But, if you ask them what is unique about America and what there is to be proud of, they’ll likely struggle to answer. We don’t know where we’ve come from and so, we don’t know who we are.

This article by Patrick Deneen, a professor of political theory at Notre Dame, examines this situation and argues that this is not the failure of our educational system, but rather its crowning achievement. For those with eyes to see, our current age appears to be on the precipice of disaster. Deneen helps us to understand some of why we are where we are.

Res Idiotica

What Has Jerusalem To Do With America?

Joe Rigney is assistant professor of theology and Christian worldview at Bethlehem College and Seminary. He also has a tie to MHA in that his assistant is Zach Howard, who taught at MHA and is married to Betsy Peters, an MHA graduate and later, an MHA teacher.

These two talks will require some time but they are well worth it. So, set aside 45 minutes on 2 different occasions and listen to these talks.

What Has Jerusalem To Do With America, Part 1

What Has Jerusalem To Do With America Part 2

APTAT

I first heard APTAT from John Piper years ago. I need to be reminded of this every morning (and likely more than once a day). Piper is known for his many sermons, talks, and books that all center on the theme: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. This is a truth that exhorts us to pursue God like the deer that pants for the water … daily and with all our heart in order to satisfy our deepest need AND bring maximum glory to God.

APTAT is an application of this God-glorifying truth to every action in our lives. We must rely on Him, moment-by-moment, for everything, and cry out to Him for His help … and in so doing we regularly acknowledge our desperate need for Him and His abundant supply to meet our every need. This combination of desperate need and perfect fulfillment maximizes the glory given to God in our lives.

APTAT

Out There or In Here?

The context for the writing of the New Testament was the ancient Roman Empire. Seen through a Christian lens, it was a rough, immoral place. Ongoing conquest and subjugation of peoples, gladiators and the glorification of violence, sexual immorality, little value attached to human life, political intrigue … it had it all. There has been much written comparing ancient Rome with the modern day western world, and America in particular. The parallels are real.

And yet, if one scans the New Testament, there is not much said about the evils in the world outside the church. In fact, much of the New Testament was written in response to sins in the church. Of course, many of these sins were the result of the church embracing the “world” but nonetheless, the focus was on the sins in the church and not the outside world.

I think this is instructive for us. 1 Peter 4:17 speaks of judgment beginning at the house of God and then progressing from there to those who do not obey the gospel of God. Continue reading “Out There or In Here?”

Jamie Soles

Our family has enjoyed Jamie Soles’ music from the day we were introduced to it around 15 years ago. He has produced albums for adults and children but I enjoy his children’s music as much if not more than his music for adults. In fact, I almost always have at least one of his children’s CDs in my car.

His music flows directly out of the Bible and will even challenge your knowledge of the Bible at times. For instance, he has songs for every judge in the book of Judges, often focusing on what might appear at first to be obscure details. The children’s songs are fun but not shallow and will increase your knowledge of the Bible, especially the historical Bible stories.

His website (www.solmusic.ca) allows you to listen to his songs and purchase an entire album (CD or MP3) or individuals songs. Following are my favorite children’s CD (The Way My Story Goes) and my favorite adult CD (River).

The Way My Story Goes

The River

Family Worship

If I could recommend one thing to parents seeking to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, it would be regular family worship. Throughout history, reformations of the church have been accompanied by revivals of family worship. Determining cause and effect is often difficult but that they are mutually reinforcing, there is no doubt.

I have linked two books below. Both are exhortations by contemporary authors to practice family worship. Don Whitney, professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of one of the books, has this to say, “Without some regularity and structure and purpose, it is one of those things that we assume we are doing but never actually do. Consistent, father-led family worship is one of the best, steadiest, and most easily measurable ways to bring up children in the Lord’s discipline and instruction.” Continue reading “Family Worship”