Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Marching Band, Extracurriculars, and Learning to Live

Marching Band

My daughter is a flautist (I just love that word-It sounds like your beating someone up with something like a garden hose.) It actually means you play the flute.

Anyway, my daughter is a flautist in the local high school band. The band has gone through some changes in the past couple of years. They have an ambitious leader and some policies have been changed. For example, pretty much every student that is part of the band is now required to be in the marching band.

I'm not sure about requiring it but I think it's generally a good idea.

Service in extracurriculars

Anyway, I have a few thoughts about band and extra-curriculars in general (I could almost hear my daughter groan when I wrote that...) If only I had a blog or something to share my thoughts...Well, would you look at that. Well, hear goes.

I think that extra-curriculars are about service. I know. Our nation has trended toward the worldly thought that leadership is not about humility. If our society remembered that leadership is about service then it would see extracurriculars as training for leadership. A person is a better person because he serves others. He is a better person because he wants to serve others.

Service forgotten

However, our current social condition as a country seems to forget the service aspect. This is probably because schools have now become a baby-sitting service for over-employed parents or otherwise occupied anyway. Academics as well as extracurriculars which should be geared toward making a productive member of society (and in our school system as far as I can see they are.) But, this is not the entire battle. People need to be trained for charitable service. True charitable service is grueling. When you are through, you fall on your bed exhausted.

Students mostly need not practice their extracurricular on their own. They should but they don't because to them it is not about being the best you can be or serving others with a true servants heart. Factually, even Christian students who should be doing their work as if they were doing it for God rarely go the extra mile. This is probably because things in their life vie for their time and actively pursuing skill in representing your school in service in a certain area does not outweigh the cultural barrage.

Was there a day when students were encouraged by their parents and teachers to serve their fellow students with untiring effort? Did students regularly practice their instruments, their cheers, and whatever other extra-curricular abilities? Not sure actually...

However, I know that if it existed under a public school system like the one we have now it was somewhere between the need for twelve year olds to drop out and get employed and the need for eighteen year olds to stay in and grow up.

If we encouraged our children to make their extracurriculars about serving others would we look freakishly odd? Maybe the student body doesn't want to be served. Maybe in today's world it is assumed that persons who participate are doing it because they like to do it-because they were wired to do it. How does being uniquely equipped to do something disqualify you from using your gift for others' benefit?

The world has been turned upside down from what the King (God) would want. I suppose that's why people have to be BORN AGAIN (Fresh Start in Christ) because they have been raised in a world of different values from the Kingdom values. I suppose that's why parents of Christian families always have to wonder whether their children would be better off in a private school.

Here's my cry to educators. Stop and examine why you do what you do. Tomorrow is at stake.

Bible removed from Schools
When today was at stake we outlawed teaching the original text book (The Bible.) We lost sight of unique values that genuinely make a world better even when the person is not sold out for Christ. Most self help books are somehow based in things one could learn from the Bible. The strength to aggressively follow what the Bible says comes from the Holy Spirit but every person could get value out of a life style of service and doing unto others what they would have done to them.

So, cut the sovereignty of God and the fear of judgment if you must. Cut the TRUTH but at least lets get back the self-improvement texts can't we?

Oh, I guess it's even worse than that. In the pursuit of knowledge (Which puffs up by the way) we have even written off most of the old sayings. I remember my teachers teaching me 'a stitch in time saves nine' and 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' and so on. What happened to that?

Is it possible that somewhere along the way education became about knowledge and not wisdom? Did someone figure out that wisdom can not be taught?

If so, I disagree!

Our younger generation is dying in many senses. In a society that uses their kids as an excuse but watches TV instead of spending time with their kids, parents who have forgotten more wisdom than their children will ever be taught in school depend heartily on a governmental education system to keep their kids out of their hair and to produce mature, effective citizens.

Parents in Education
It's not gonna work. It is the responsibility of parents to teach their children and the more that we stray away from that the more the next generation is doomed to suffer the same fate only multiplied.

So, what's the solution?

1-It's time extracurriculars became about service again.

2-Someone needs to tell kids and parents that a full school education will not by itself equip them to be successful in life. It's admitting weakness on the part of the administration but it should be maybe the first lesson and repeated over and over more than- say- how to spell your name.

3-Return wisdom to the curriculum. Teach the truths of the Bible. Even if the TRUTH (Jesus) is not taught then teach the wisdom of the Bible and let children, teens, and eventually young adults ask the questions how can this be and what do I do now? Education can not only minister to the mind and if that's all it does then why does the school day last so long?

4-Teach students and parents that education is about the next question not about the last answer. Runners running at high speed lean forward. Students learning at high speed should be leaning forward in their mental posture. [Don't get me started on the whole grades thing.] Teaching minds to reach is challenging but not teaching them to reach is the same as locking them in a cage.

My disclaimer. I am not a teacher. I do not lead a marching band (no rhythm.) I am not a superintendent of schools. My degree is not in education although it is an education degree. I dropped out of college twice before I was a Christian and didn't learn much (including motivation) about being a good student until I was near to finishing my undergraduate degree.

Still, even in a school system as good as my home town's we've got real problems. I'm not saying I see them clearly. the list above is not all-inclusive. But our education system needs to be born again (a fresh start) in certain areas if we are going to survive and prosper for as much time as we have left.

Pastor Dan Stevenson

Friday, January 21, 2011

TV commercials

If we put a TV commercial on and it goes out to X thousand people-Can we count that as that many touches?

Backing up that truck (as a friend of mine used to say.) Our church is in the middle of trying to get 100,000 touches by April 17th. A touch is an act of Kindness. While it might seem like a little thing to hold a door for someone or to smile or to say hi (people even look at me funny sometimes) it is what God meant for us to do. Our people are actively making the world a better place. That being said, April 17th is not that far away and we are only in the 30,000s. We have extensively plans to band together and make a difference in Toledo but 65000 touches in a short time even with all the touches people have forgotten to record, seems like a lot.

However, i have produced a commercial that encourages people to consider God based on Psalm 46:10. It;s a feel good kinda thing. It would surely count as a touch. However, does it count if we put it on the TV and lots of people watch it and should we slightly discount the number of touches since ratings are just estimates? What do you think?

Is anyone there?

Well, I think it should and in the end, I'm the one doing the counting. So, unless someone persuades me otherwise you just might get touched in this way sometime soon. Either way I'm going forward cause the most important thing in all of this is to make the world a better place and of course the only lasting way to do that is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. He's a personal friend and I want to tell everyone I can about Him. You should really meet Him. Or maybe you already have...

Weigh in on this issue by leaving a comment. I'll axe anything vulgar or inappropriate but everyone else is welcome.

For the Love of Christ, Tell someone!

Pastor Dan

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Atheism, Agnosticism and other simple notions

The Atheist position is completely untenable. That means that it makes no sense and has no real arguments founded in logic. The main argument is that we know that there is no God. That argument only works if a person or people can claim to know everything in every place at every time. Nope, no one can do that except say, God.

Thus the argument for agnosticism makes a little sense. It says that we can not know that there is a God. That means then that a person knows what can be known in this time, this place. That might actually work for some. However, it occurs to me that a being that knows everything there is to know (in order to know what can not be known) on a given topic is still claiming a rather extravagant extent to their knowledge. Unless of course this limited knowledge position is actually arguing that we can not know because our knowledge is limited which leads us to to beg the question. If you can not know then how is that you have concluded that you can not know.

In my opinion it makes logical sense that: 1-There must be an intelligent designer who we call God. 2-There must be a logically morally superior being 3-Those who claim that they have experienced God are more likely to be correct about what they have experienced than those that claim that one can not experience God (A person is more likely to believe that something (or someone can be experienced when they have experienced it/Him themselves and of course less likely to believe when they have not experienced it/Him.)

Narnia (TM)

By the way, it occurs to me that the popular Narnia(TM) series (based on Children's books by C.S. Lewis show an interesting alternative reality that is more likely than Atheists and Agnostic argue. These persons which are obviously quite intelligent in my opinion arguing for adult ideas to be swayed by logic that is not as sound as that found in Children's books.

I have heard the C.S. Lewis in his lifetime swore that the books were not based in great theological meaning. Anyway, neither is this blog...

Where was I? Oh yes, It appears to me that Atheists and Agnostics are not arguing so much against God as for a reality without the Christian God (or any God recognized by many.) In fact, they are arguing for themselves to be the God of choice. I am willing to accept that whatever being would be most extremely right in the universe and in the life of the person in question would be their god.

In other words, if an atheist succeeds in arguing against the possibility of knowing the real God then they have successfully argued for their own supremacy. Get it? If I win the argument against God then I get to be God or at least reduce Him to be like me. So, there you have it then. Same old game. "non-believer' believe in themselves or system or money or whatever. So, they seek to make that God.

In a nut shell, my position is that someone or something must be on top. failing to recognize that God has this rightful place or that Satan has claimed His place under many guises leads one to argue against God.

Not the God I might have created...

Even if the God of the Atheist and agnostic is on the surface, reason (This is what they often argue) then they have a God of sorts and will be servant to It. Let's just say I have met someone I would much rather serve than any construct empowered by man. I serve God. It isn't always fun. He isn't always exactly what I want Him to be. However, He is God and so where we clash I realize I must adjust.

The only thing in the universe that doesn't belong to God and therefore can actually be sacrificed to Him is a person's free will. For those who have not done so, no amount of testimony by those who have will explain the experience. But, He still seeking worshippers in Spirit and Truth and He is patient that all men might come to repentance.

Pastor Dan

Alabama Governor's comments

So he gets elected and speaks in a local church building on the same day. He urges the crowd to come to Christ warning that those present who do not know Christ are not actually his brothers and sisters. This is factual based on the Bible.

The debate rages right now on MSN(TM) about whether what the man says makes it unlikely that he can care equally for all of his constituents. Except, the debate isn't about that really. It is about what every crazy keyboarding atheist and wannabe Internet evangelist wants to argue-the authenticity of Christian faith and the reality of God.

I know I'm not the impartial speaker that would be required for someone to put an end to that debate...I believe God inspired the Bible and that there are no private interpretations. I believe that in order for a person to be educated they must have a working knowledge of it contrary to those who would argue that education makes it irrelevant.

The Bible is the single best attested historical collection of texts we have. Nothing in history has survived the test of time the way God's word has. Unlike some would argue the texts of the Bible have not been altered over time. There are subtle linguistic differences sure, but when you compare the writing found in the Dead Sea Scrolls with their counterparts in the modern Bible it is clearly evident that the text had remained essentially the same for hundreds of years.

Great pains were taken to ensure that it was so. Modern Bibles have been produced using modern vernacular and some can not understand how they can come from the same source. Clearly languages have different words for the same thing. The Bible does not contradict itself and has stood the test of time-something single-lifetime atheist will not do.

I believe there is only one way to God. I am sorry for all those who believe otherwise and contrary to how this fact may make them feel about me, I love them. They often say mean and sometimes hateful things to get me to shut up. As you can see, it hasn't worked yet.

While I do not begrudge them their right to free speech, I think that there are limitless even Christians who call unbelieving advocates idiots or worse should realize that they have crossed over a line. Unfortunately, the persons who are in the best position to argue the reality of God and the strengths of Christianity often have figured out that there is little profit in it.

I am secure in what I believe. I know in whom I have believed and that he is able to keep until that day that which I have entrusted to Him. He is not the Easter Bunny, He is not the Teddy Bear God some would make him out to be, and there is a terrible reckoning coming. I'm sorry for them that will not prepare by embracing the teachings and love of Jesus on every level-really I am.

But, a word of caution to my Christian brothers and sisters be careful how adamantly you argue. Don't cross a line with vindictive or adversarial speech. Remember, that ours is not to make this life time less enjoyable for those who will not hear-after all, it's all they have...

God Bless every missionary and evangelist who has dedicated his or her life to spreading the gospel among unbelievers who in return hate them the world over-including in America.

Can you imagine, some have taken up the mantle to argue against faith. Faith of any kind...God forgive them for they know no what they do...

Pastor Dan

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The right way: If neither is right and you choose- you fail, If either is right and you choose you have a chance. If both and you choose you lose. Choosing?