Sunday, July 27, 2008

How do We Lose Flavor?

My family and I are attending a weekly small group this summer where we are discussing Ken Ham's parenting study called "Genesis of a Legacy." Now, before you get all excited one way or another that we are listening to Ken Ham, renowned defender of Creationism, considered a nut by some and a prophet by others, this is not about him or his organization or even my opinion of him. This is about something he said in one of his lectures that made me stop and think really hard. On the tail of my last post it is meant to call you to THINK about what you're doing with the gift of homeschooling that we've been given, and if you're not homeschooling, then ought you to be? Far be it from me to say that you should be is up to each of us to decide for our own families, but what he said served to drive the proverbial peg further down into the board, even more firmly establishing our own decision to educate our children ourselves.

Ken Ham is an interesting Aussie who is not afraid to be mocked by men because he knows his God and would rather face him having defended his faith with all his heart rather than worry about what men think of him. He talks about vegemite, a bizarre substance made from yeast and salt which tastes well--nasty for lack of a better word. Australians eat this on toast and they love it. They begin giving it to babies on the end of a spoon in infancy (proof that this culture has some brain-washing going on in it!) and the kids grow up loving the stuff. The point is that they are raised eating this black smarmy paste from tiny-hood and they love it—they have an appetite for it. When children are raised with excellence and an appreciation for it, they cultivate an appetite for it. When children are raised with the Word of God, they have an appetite for it. When they are raised with prayer and sincere godly living, they have an appetite for it. When they are raised with t.v. and computer games and relativism and shoddy attitudes and tolerance for others’ sin all around...I won’t finish the sentence. You get the point. An old poem my mom had on her wall while I was growing up was called “Children Learn What they Live.” But beyond that, they love what they learn—they internalize it, own it, act it out, become it.

The first time I ever had the thought that I might need to homeschool in order to be certain of giving my children the best chances for Godliness in an ungodly world, I had just read The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. It still stands as one of my favorite books on parenting. My copy is underlined and marked, and the binding is starting to separate. In her chapter called The Teaching Mother, Sally says:
All of us have times when we're resistant to truth, and that includes children.
Faithful, repetetive teaching of the biblical principles of right and
wrong--plus a gentle but firm insistence that the children act on those
principles--is what helps to build familiar pathways in their minds so that
when they are mature, they will have a reliable basis for making decisions
about what is right and what is wrong (p. 168).
One page over she quotes Galatians 6:7-8
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows from his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life."
When I think about this, I have to consider: what am I sowing in my children? Certainly my deepest desire is that they inherit eternal life and pass on a legacy of righteousness. But how? I only know one person that I can trust to provide that for them and that is the Lord Jesus Christ, and he has entrusted me with the job of guiding them to that end. Next I have to ask the following questions: are the people who produce programming for t.v. as concerned with reaping in my children as I am (see post? The answer is yes--they would like to harvest a consumerism mentality that will line their pockets, and the means justifies the end. Certainly the means justifies their end, and they will use any means possible, but the appeal is to the flesh and not to the Spirit, to be sure. Are the people who are running the public schools as interested in reaping in my children as I am? The answer is most certainly YES! Their objectives appear to be a bit loftier--they want to raise "good citizens" who are tolerant of diversity, good team players, able to be reliable workers and "do good"--by whose standards? I haven't heard that they are preaching a gospel that involves moral absolutes and high standards of conduct in the schools. On the contrary, all things Christian are being systematically removed and are being replaced with yoga, "world religions" and relativism. One of Sally Clarkson's famous lines is "In the absence of biblical conviction, people will go the way of the culture." The schools stand for nothing these days. I was told as a child "stand for something, or you'll fall for anything."

If I consider seriously what Sally Clarkson, not to mention God’s word says, how careful am I being to sow the maximum amount of good seed into fertile soil? The sowing of seed is only part of the equation—the working of the soil is the other, and it is up to me to do that, as well, to see that the Holy Spirit’s water has every opportunity to reach those precious seeds. If I allow t.v. to sow the seeds, I reap a greedy consumer who is absorbed in selfish desires. If I allow the culture to sow the seeds, I get someone who is unable to stand on anything for lack of absolutes and certainty because sin is subjective and people who say they know what sin is are hate-mongerers.

I choose to homeschool for a myriad of reasons, but the primary reason is that I want my husband and myself to be the primary seed-sowers in my child’s life. I recognize that friends and their families, life experiences, and other teachers who enter my kids’ lives are going to sow seeds as well. Some will be just as good as what we can sow, and some will be weeds. I know that we will sow some weeds ourselves, just by virtue of the fact that we are sinners. Nevertheless, the more our children are in this loving and nurturing environment, the more they will love that path of righteousness that we seek to put them on, by God’s grace. The quantity and the quality are of equal importance.

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