Homeschooling and Other Foolish Parental Notions

What Do You Think? Wednesday

I never thought the challenges would come like this: mostly from family and friends who don’t understand my evolution and want me to be the woman they knew me to be. I was fierce and fought battles that I now know were not my own; I took on assignments and roles and a demeanor that God never meant for me. These shaped my strong black woman mantle that I later laid at God’s feet to pick up the charge He had for me. Marry who I say marry; vote for who I say vote for; parent the way I say parent. Follow me the way I say follow me. But my loved ones’ responses to my choices should not be a shock to me. Jesus’ family didn’t believe He was the Messiah and folks in His hometown dishonored Him (Mark 6:1-4). So if that happened to Jesus, surely I should expect the same to happen to me. And if my loved ones challenge (persecute in some cases) me, even if the Bible didn’t say so I should expect the world to do the same (John 15:20). My job is to shrug off the criticism, respond if I’m led and do so in the manner Jesus would have me to. This is not always easy. I’m clear about my ministry calling, to the world and to my family, and this clarity gives me the direction I need to accomplish my calling. Trying to explain, defend even, my choices beyond what God tells me to, takes time and energy away from fulfilling my calling and can lead me back to my strong black woman fierce talking ways. I must remember that the only one who needs to understand what God has called me to do is me.

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:11-16).

Though these verses compare the spirit of the world to God’s Spirit, which all believers in Christ have, the spirit of the world can apply to believers who the Spirit hasn’t spoken to about our calling. Their response to us may be just like someone who doesn’t understand something spiritual; they may follow the ways of the world and may use the mind of the world when challenging us. So we must know what God is saying to us. We must ask, believe and walk out what He says (James 1:5-8). All this pondering came about today as I reflected on a challenge from my mom to participate in a sorority event, a friend questioning the depth of one of my analyses and a New York Times editorial on homeschooling, which is how my husband and I educate our children. Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum and his wife’s decision to home educate their children was the author’s launching pad; the story was bigger than home schooling, though, and challenged the effects of parents’ choices to in any way isolate their children. Another Times article outright said home schooling “is shortsighted and cruel” and “misguided foolishness,” comparing it to “home dentistry.”

In this world, you have to know who God has called you to be and what He has called you to do. If not, you will doubt what you heard and be a double-minded woman, unstable in ALL your ways (James 1:6-8). We are called to stability and can stay focused with God’s help (2 Timothy 1:7; John 15:4-7).

For those of you who have learned to shrug off comments and respond to others according to the Spirit, how did you come to that point? You can read the New York Times articles here and here and, please, tell me what you think. Also, check out my best friend Carla Yarbrough’s blog post Purpose and Persecution and Kim Cash Tate’s posts Strategic Plan and D6 Parenting and chime in on those too!

Homeschool Attack

What Do You Think? Wednesday

I’m 42. I’ve been saved 16 years, sold out for Jesus for 14, married for 13, and a mother for nine, and even with such experience I welcome advice, even that which is unsolicited. I know I don’t know everything and there are plenty of people older than I am who have been walking with Jesus, married and mothers longer and I know they simply know some things that perhaps I don’t. But let me tell you, I have had a hard time lately wanting to be gracious (though I have) to the people who balk at my husband’s and my decision to home educate our oldest son. These people have never home educated their children and have offered why homeschooling is bad for my child, including poor socialization, asked when I was going to put him in school and suggested I enroll him in good schools that they know of. Their unsolicited advice suggests the following that appall me:

1. World socialization is better than biblical socialization
2. My son would be happier at school than at home
3. That the ultimate goal of home education is institutional education
4. That any school outside of a home school is a better choice for my family
5. That any school outside of a home school will help my son reach his goals, no matter what they are
6. That they know my son better than my husband and I do
7. That they know what’s best for our family structure
8. That my husband and I were whimsical with our decision to home educate
9. That my husband and I didn’t hear from God
10. That, even with us not being in a crisis and them not having asked any questions for clarification, other humans know better for us than we do for ourselves; that humans know better than God

These implications, and many more, appall me because, quite frankly, I feel attacked. I recently read the tweet “There has to be a safe place for girls” in a brutal world that devalues their bodies and men do with them what they want. I say there has to be a safe place for all of us to be safe AND for those of us who are counterculture but not living in sin. There should be a safe place for us to make the Spirit-led decisions we need for the health and growth of our families. But, according to Scripture, this will not be the case. We will be persecuted for righteousness sake (Matthew 5:10; John 15:20). That’s it. I should expect nothing less. There is no ongoing Kumbaya experience for the Christian choosing to live a biblical Christian life, whether you home educate or not. You will be persecuted for whatever you do for righteousness’ sake. The question is “Are we going to reclaim our strong black woman ways to challenge those who challenge us or are we going to accept the attack and respond to educate not to annihilate?” Tell me your thoughts. What do you do when people attack you and your Spirit-led decisions?

Caesar’s Children?

    Whoever is educating your child is discipling your child.”—Voddie Baucham

The public education system is in crisis; we all know that, but what do we plan to do to make sure our children aren’t caught in the crisis? This is what pastor, national speaker and homeschooling advocate Voddie Baucham addressed with nearly 200 pastors and parents last Thursday in Detroit. At Redeeming Two Generations, a family discipleship conference held at Evangel Ministries, he said Christians should be the most concerned because the crisis goes beyond fiscal irresponsibility. There is and has always been a moral crisis within the public schools and Christian parents need to respond biblically.

“Christian parents are obligated to give their children a Christian education,” he said, generically calling public schools Caesar, the Roman ruler in biblical times. “You only render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Your child is not Caesar’s,” said Dr. Baucham, also a noted cultural apologist. “If we continue to send our children to Caesar for education we need to stop being surprised when they come home as Romans.”

With children being in school the majority of the day, Dr. Baucham said the school curriculum, teachers and peers are the ones educating our children. He quoted Luke 6:40 to support his belief that Christians shouldn’t allow their children to attend public school. “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” He then detailed the connection between child education and discipleship when discussing the history of the public education system, citing statistics and biblically supporting his claims.

Dr. Baucham said when the public school system began around 1870, Christian leaders, like A.A. Hodge, were against the formation.

I am as sure as I am about Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separate from religion, as is not commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief and of antisocial nihilistic ethics individual, social and political, which this sin-rent world has ever seen.

Framers of the educational system advocated just what Hodge predicted would happen.

Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism, and every public school is a school of humanism. What can the theistic Sunday school, meeting for an hour a week and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?—Charles Potter, a signer of the Humanist Manifesto and an architect of modern public educational system.

Our schools may not teach Johnny to read properly but the fact that Johnny is in school until he is 16 tends to lean toward the elimination of religious superstition.—Paul Blanshard, a signer of the Humanist Manifesto and an architect of modern public educational system.

Public education is the parochial education of scientific humanism.—Joel Burnette, a signer of the Humanist Manifesto and an architect of modern public educational system.

With this foundation in the late 1800s and early 1900s and curriculum designed around it, Dr. Baucham said “Our schools are incapable of training our children in the very things that God commands.”

Armed with statistics showing that Christian children attending public schools had almost the same biblical worldview as secular humanists, Dr. Baucham said that the public school system is accomplishing what it set out to do. His statistics also revealed that most evangelical Christian children eventually break from Christianity by the time they exit college.

Though he and his wife home educate their seven children, he believes there are other ways to provide a Christian education, including enrolling children in Christian schools. Whatever route you take, he believes the following are six basic tenets to follow:

1. We must view education as discipleship (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Luke 6:40).
2. We must avoid ungodly influence (Proverbs 1:1-2, 14:1, 1:7, 13:20, Matthew 18:7).
3. We must avoid unbiblical teaching (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Timothy 6:20-21).
4. We must teach God’s law (Matthew 5:15-16).
5. We must be gospel-centered (Galatians 1:6-9).
6. We must be good stewards (Mark 12:15-17).

As a recovering strong black woman striving to be a strong biblical woman, Dr. Baucham gave me much to consider as my husband and I seek the Lord (as we do every year) for where He wants our son to be educated. I’m sure his insights, along with my own parenting philosophy, will help us develop the right discipleship plan for all our children.

What methods do you use to disciple your children? What has been your experience in educating your children?

Copyright 2011 by Rhonda J. Smith

My One Thousand Gifts List

Being able to go to church today
Being able to take communion
A great sermon challenging the congregation to be pro-life
Flynn and Joshua spending time together
Enjoying Justus and Nate
Participating in the Bloom Book Club
My mom watching Justus and Nate
For the children being physically safe
Safe travel to court
Money to pay the citation for not possessing my proof of insurance

Be a World Changer

Happy Black History Month, a time of reflecting on the history and happenings in the black world that impacts the whole world. So I ask you today: What are you doing that will change the world? Being a world changer is your Christian heritage. The world referred to Jesus’ disciples as those “that have turned the world upside down.” I want the same to be said of us. Let this talk transcend the days in February and spill into everyday to change the days we see, for Christ and His Kingdom.

I’d love for you to comment on the blog about how you are changing or plan to change the world.

For a little inspiration, check out these sites:

Copyright 2011 by Rhonda J. Smith

Waiting for Superman-The 16th Day of Christmas

On the 17th day of Christmas my true love gave to me a promise to punish bad pastors (Jeremiah 23:1-2).

Waiting for Superman is the hotly discussed documentary that highlights America’s failing public education system, features some successful alternative education systems and challenges all to stop waiting for Superman to come fix the schools; we can be super together to devise a system for all children because everyone’s quality of life is at stake. After I watched the film, I was charged up, ready to start an educational Tea Party of sorts. Well, not exactly. Of course, I’d leave out the racism part and the myopic idealism that comes across as racism, but, like the Tea Party being fed up with politics as usual, I wanted to stand up, do my part, to ensure that no child is left behind and is pushed ahead WITH knowledge to succeed. We should all involve ourselves somehow in educational reform, especially ejecting the fat cats who have gained on the backs of America’s children. Their devilish deeds remind me of corrupt pastors in churches who seem to be able to bounce back like a fat cat with nine lives. But God’s word says their day is coming:

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD.

Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD.

Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.

I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness’ (Jeremiah 23:1-6).

God the Father declares that He will take care of corrupt pastors and Jesus Christ, whose name is the Lord is our righteousness (Philippians 3:9), will ultimately “reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land” (Romans 15:12; Revelation 19, 22:16). This is Jesus, super beyond Superman, who will handle all systems and peoples of injustice when He returns to earth. Yes, we will wait on Him for their ultimate blow. But until then, there is a lot of work for us to do. So let’s allow Jesus to reign in us, and let us ask Him how He wants us to do our part to tear apart these unsavory systems. We have Beyond Super in us so we don’t have to ever wait for Superman.

Copyright 2010 by Rhonda J. Smith