Monthly Archives: November 2015

“Willie Stouffer Knows Best!”

I love to write. You know that, if you’re a regular reader of this blog. I was recently thumbing through some of the articles which I have written in past years, and I thought “Willie Stouffer Knows Best!” is an oldie and a goodie, worthy of republishing. Read on. . .

 

“Willie Stouffer Knows Best!”

By Dr. Bob Stouffer

Monday, September 28, 2009

 

I have been thinking a lot about fathers lately. I recently published a written review of Dr. Meg Meeker’s book – Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. I have also begun the “Quest for Authentic Manhood” study, by Little Rock, Arkansas Pastor Robert Lewis, which focuses, in part, on the impact of fathers on their sons.

 

Because of a church conflict, I was regrettably not able to see my Dad yesterday, when he and my Mom drove from Davenport to Muscatine to see Hannah play in a soccer match. But I thought a lot about my father when discussing the “Quest” materials today with another half-dozen men.

 

I am a very fortunate man. I have a great Dad. He was an excellent provider. He was an outstanding role model. He clearly loves my Mom, my brother, and me. He set clear boundaries for my behavior, and the consequences for stepping outside those expectations were appropriate, although typically not necessary, since I respected him so much. I share his work ethic and enjoyment of people.

 

He supported me in all of my high school activities, coaching my little league team, attending all of my sporting events, making popcorn when we were raising money for my competitive speech activities, chaperoning a vocal music trip to St. Louis, making “dust collectors” for various fundraisers.

 

He ramped-up his support when I was in college, driving 225 miles to Winona, Minnesota for all of my home football games. Not much of a writer, he wrote me a letter of encouragement at a point when I really needed his encouragement. When I joined him and Mom in the education profession, he became a trusted mentor and colleague. Our relationship changed even more for the better, given our common experience as school administrators.

 

So when Robert Lewis exhorts men to process the pain of their relationships with their Dads, I step back and express great gratitude to my heavenly Father that He blessed me so well with my earthly Dad.

 

Dr. Lewis makes a great point in his teaching. No matter whether our earthly fathers were good, bad, or indifferent, we children have a CHOICE of rising above negative circumstances, never choosing bitterness or the status of “victim.” We should learn from the past but never live in the past.

 

I understand that some people reading this piece have endured VERY painful experiences with their mothers or fathers. However, if for any reason you have a strained relationship with a parent, you CAN choose to forgive and move on. Even if your parent is deceased, you can cleanse your soul by forgiving your Dad or Mom, and then getting on with your life. If you have children yourself, your kids will benefit when you are freed from negative emotions and can be a fully-functioning parent to them. If you don’t like something about your parent/s, you can break that negative cycle and offer your own children a new, positive beginning with you (and, hopefully, continuing through them).

 

I love my Dad. I know he loves me. I love my Mom. I know she loves me. I love my own daughters, and I also know that I can do that much better to express my love in deeper, more tangible, although not necessarily expensive ways. The greatest expense is your time and complete attention to your children. Will you join me in that commitment to your children?

“Thanksgiving Starts with Knowing Where You Were, Are, and Will Be”

What a joy to experience my good friend Nate Schelhaas’ preaching at the Pella Christian High School chapel during 8th grade visitation day on Tuesday, November 24, 2015!  Such serendipity!  If you would like to read my summary of Nate’s message, “Thanksgiving Starts with Knowing Where You Were, Are, and Will Be,” please read on. . . .

“Thanksgiving Starts with Knowing Where You Were, Are, and Will Be”
By Nate Schelhaas
Pella Christian High School
Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Summary by and Editorializing of Dr. Bob Stouffer, Principal, Oskaloosa Christian School

Why should you listen to me?  Why should you listen to some schmuck from Des Moines?  You should be asking why I would drive all of the way from Des Moines to speak with you.

I grew up like you.  I grew up in a Christian school and Christian Reformed Church in Edgerton, Minnesota.

When I started working in Des Moines, I experienced the real world when interacting with those who were Jewish, Catholics, and atheists.

I went duck hunting two weeks ago.  I didn’t get a duck.  I didn’t shoot.  I saw one duck.   Still, I thanked God for helping me to have a boat.  I am good at being thankful.  I still understand what it means to have a humble heart.

We’ve got to understand where we were, are, and where we’re going to be to be humble and thankful.

Where were we?

God created everything to be “very good.”  There was no sin.  Adam and Eve screwed it up.  Sin entered the world.  We are born sinful.  That’s not the end of it.  We act sinfully.  We create idols.  Work, my kids, their sports, my wife, my duck hunting can become my idols, separating me from God.  Watch out for pride.  Pride got Satan kicked out of heaven.  If you break one single part of the law, you are guilty of breaking the entire law.  Look at this white piece of paper.  We draw a line.  Jesus is at this end of the line.   Another person at the other end of the line is “Hitler bad.”  Where would you put yourself on this line? I would contend that our mark is a micro-meter away from the worst person in the world.  We are so far away from Jesus, but we think we’re pretty good people.  We don’t cheat on our wives.  We don’ steal.  We don’t murder.  We need to own “total depravity.”  You need to feel that down deep in your soul.  In the CRC, we’re very good about head knowledge.  We know all of the answers of the catechism.  We’ve got to move that knowledge from the head to heart.  The wages of sin are death.  Until you know where you were, you can tell where you are and where you are going.

Where are we?

We are in different spots.  Some of you are still dedicated to living a sinful life.  Some of you are wrestling to figure it out.  Some of you have taken the step of faith in knowing that you are adopted into the family of God.  Friends of ours adopted a 1-year-old from the family of a drug addict.  That boy had no say in the matter.  The two parents said, “This is the child whom I love.”  God looks at us in the same way.  There’s no entitlement.  It doesn’t matter what church you grow up in or attend; that doesn’t mean you’re going to be saved.  God’s relationship has to be with you.  Salvation is a gift.  I first understood this in 1999.  I was reading a devotional.  I realized how sinful I was and how God had changed my life.  It brought me to tears.  And I don’t like to cry.  What I had was a gift from God, and it didn’t matter how good I thought I was.

Where are we going?

Where we’re going is heaven.  We don’t know everything about heaven.  We know some things.  No more tears.  No more pain.  No more sin.  I love singing.  I don’t sing well, but I love singing.  I play the saxophone.  My mom once thought I should play my saxophone in church.  It sounded awful.  I can’t sing well.  I can’t play well.  I can’t wait until heaven, where it will sound fantastic!  The Holy Spirit has sealed the gift of salvation in our lives.  You have to understand this to be thankful.  You have to understand where you were and where you are to understand where you will be.  You’ve got to tell others about where they were, are, and where they could be if they know and follow Jesus.  Tell people how Jesus has changed your life.  We’re not much better than the Israelites of Moses and Malachi.  They complained to God.  I complain to God about not having a bigger house, better car, a pool in our backyard.

In Malachi 1:14, God said he was a great King.  We serve a great King.  He’s the King of kings.  Do you know Him?  No means or measures can define is limitless love.  He’s unique.  He’s unparalleled.  He’s the miracle of the ages.  Do you know Him today?  He is the key to knowledge and the doorway to deliverance.  His promises are sure.  His mercy is everlasting.  His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.  You can’t outthink him or out-love him.  Death couldn’t handle Him.  That’s my King.  Thank God Almighty, You are my King!  Amen!

“Love from a Missionary”

I am the Elder who oversees teaching ministries of our church. In our children’s ministries, we attempt, as much as possible, to teach the same content as our Pastor’s sermon, in language which makes sense to the kids. I even sometimes have occasion to actually stand in front of the Kids Life students (kindergarten up to middle school), and it’s pretty much a rush, because they are filled with energy and excitement about the learning. If you would like to read the outline of my teaching to Kids Life students on Sunday, November 22, 2015 – “Love from a Missionary” – please read on. . . .

 

“Love from a Missionary”

By Dr. Bob Stouffer

Waukee Community Church

Kids Life

Sunday, November 22, 2015

 

Opening

 

What is “mission”?

 

. . . .

 

Does anyone know what a “mission statement” is?

 

Who knows the mission statement of Waukee Community Church? Anyone?

 

. . . .

 

We talk all of the time about that mission when Pastor Dave, Pastor Jeff, or any one of the other Elders is speaking to the entire body of Waukee Community Church.

 

The mission statement of WCC is. . .

 

. . .BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER. . .

 

. . .TO LIVE LIKE JESUS,

 

. . .LOVE LIKE JESUS, and

 

. . .GIVE LIKE JESUS.

 

Why do we “bring people together”?

 

. . . .

 

We are bringing people together to live, love, and give like Jesus –

 

AND TO TEACH PEOPLE TO DO THE SAME!

 

Pastor Dave and the other Kids Life teachers have helped you understand what it’s like to live like Jesus.

 

For instance, we know Jesus came to serve, not to be served.

 

Do you know the memory verse related to that truth?

 

. . . .

 

Mark 10:45: “. . .the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (English Standard Version)

 

That is living, loving, and giving like Jesus.

 

Today, we’re going to talk about one extremely important way that people can LOVE like Jesus.

 

Content of Message

 

What did Jesus DO when he was on the earth?

 

. . . .

 

One thing he DID – to LOVE – was to act as a missionary.

 

What does a missionary DO?

 

. . . .

 

A missionary loves other people enough to tell them about salvation and everlasting life coming only from Jesus Christ.

 

Is it enough to tell that good news?

 

What else should a missionary do?

 

. . . .

 

A MISSIONARY SHOULD. . .

 

. . .LIVE LIKE JESUS,

 

. . .BE OBEDIENT TO JESUS, and

 

. . .HELP OTHERS TO LIVE LIKE JESUS AND TO BE OBEDIENT TO JESUS.

 

May I please share a very deep concept with you – a concept which you will need to think very hard about. Some adults have difficulty with this concept.

 

How we see God affects how we respond to the world as missionaries.

 

For instance, if we see God as a teacher, we might invite others into a classroom, and the experience might only be intellectual in nature.

 

Such is the HEAD of Christianity. Jesus was a great teacher, and He provided very valuable information to His followers.

 

If we see God as a missionary, we, too, are more inclined to see ourselves as missionaries.

 

A missionary is a “sent one.”

 

Why?

 

. . . .

 

A missionary is a “sent one,” because God was a “sent one.”

 

How was God a “sent one”?

 

. . . .

 

God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, Jesus. . . . (John 3:16)

 

1 John 4, verses 7 through 12 expresses this truth quite well:

 

7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (ESV)

 

Christianity involves information – the HEAD.

 

Christian also involves love – the HEART!

 

John also records a related prayer to God the Father by Jesus in the 17th chapter of his gospel, verse 18: “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” (ESV) Try to remember John 17:18. Jesus was the “sent one.” You are “the sent one.”

 

That’s “The Big Idea” for today:

 

God the Father sent Jesus the missionary to live among His people – to show them how to live. We, too, as missionaries, are to show others around us how to live, love, and give like Jesus.

 

WE are sent with the same purpose and love for the people whom God loves.

 

We are sent to those who need healing.

 

Why do all of us need “healing”?

 

. . . .

 

We must have eyes open to needs around us.

 

We must look to see where God is working, and join Him in His work – bringing him honor and glory.

 

That’s the HAND of Christianity, added to the HEAD and the HEART.
Now, we know “the what” of KidsLife today.

 

“So what?”

 

“Now what?”

 

What should we do as a result of what we have learned today?

 

That’s where today’s activity comes in, and Jordan is going to tell you all about it.

 

Activity for Application

 

We are going to collect food on Sunday, December 6th and Sunday, December 13th, with a visit to the Waukee Food Pantry.

 

Here’s a video which explains how the food pantry works.

 

Using this paper, markers, and crayons, please make a reminder to yourself to bring non-perishable food items to church on November 29th, December 6th, and December 13th.

 

Remember the items which the Food Pantry volunteer mentioned as high-need items: toilet paper, body soap, shampoo, paper towels, baby wipes, toothpaste, toothbrushes, diapers, baby food, etc.

 

So, again, what’s “The Big Idea” today?

 

God the Father sent Jesus the missionary to live among His people – to show them how to live. We, too, are missionaries, and we are to show others around us how to live, love, and give like Jesus.

 

Christianity: HEAD, HEART, and HAND!

 

Closing Prayer

 

Who has praise and prayer items?

 

. . . .

 

How can I pray for you?

 

 

 

 

“Jesus Meets You Where You Are”

I have greatly enjoyed my interactions with the many communities of faith during my itinerant preaching in the past year. I have found it healthy and refreshing to experience different orders of service and worship styles. My most recent opportunity, in this regard, occurred at Neighborhood Bible Church in Hampton, Iowa on Sunday, November 15, 2015. If you would like to read the outline of my message, “Jesus Meets You Where You Are,” please read on. . . .

“Jesus Meets You Where You Are”

By Dr. Bob Stouffer

Neighborhood Bible Church

Hampton, Iowa

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Passage: John 4:1-42

Opening

I vividly recall standing in the middle of the Senegal, African bush. Our team of missionaries had just showed “The Jesus Film” for the second night in a row. A couple hundred African people heard us share our testimonies, translated from English to French to their tribal language. The film mesmerized them, because it was translated in their tribal language, and probably no one had ever seen a 35 millimeter film operate, let alone even experience electricity! The testimonies complete, almost 100 villagers accepted Christ as Savior! The pastor of that area – and his son – could not write the names down fast enough? Why so? These people had walked for hours from multiple villages, and those spiritual leaders understood the need for discipleship.

People can embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior.

But without discipleship new converts can too easily drift away from Christ and the life to which He calls them.

We must help disciple new Christians to walk the narrow road.

After all, Jesus did this better than anyone.

He took His disciples through a sequence which ramped-up their growing lives in Christ.

  • “Come and see.”
  • “Come and be with me.”
  • “Come and follow me.”
  • “Come and die with me.”

Jesus didn’t say, “Come and attend church with me on Sunday.”

He called us to a radically transformed lifestyle.

We are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2), that we might become more like Jesus (Romans 8:29).

Even though Jesus once said, “Be perfect (Matthew 5:48),” He understood that we would NOT be perfect, and he accepted us right where we were when we first encountered Him. He came to the sick, not the well (Mark 2:17).

Please, if you don’t remember a single thing I say today, please remember the big idea of this message:

JESUS MEETS YOU WHERE YOU ARE, BUT HE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO STAY THERE.”

I reiterate a comment I made just moments ago: We are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2), that we might become more like Jesus (Romans 8:29).

Just about every interaction involving Jesus illustrates his willingness to meet people where they were but not wanting them to stay there.

Jesus fed 5,000 men and all of the accompanying women and children on one occasion (Matthew 14). Not long thereafter, he fed 4,000 men and their families (Matthew 15). They viewed Jesus as a cosmological vending machine. I’m hungry. Jesus provides food. I ask. He gives. I eat. But Jesus was more interested in their spiritual sustenance than their physical sustenance.

JESUS MEETS YOU WHERE YOU ARE, BUT HE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO STAY THERE.”

 

A woman was caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). The religious leaders who sought to trap him and stone her in this situation walked away with none of the rocks and all of their hypocrisy. Jesus asked, “Does anyone condemn you?” “No,” she answered. “Then neither do I,” He said. But He didn’t leave the situation there. He added, “Go and sin no more.” He met her where she was, but He wouldn’t leave her there. A perfectly righteous and just God couldn’t condone her sin.

JESUS MEETS YOU WHERE YOU ARE, BUT HE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO STAY THERE.”

Following His resurrection, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” (John 21:15-19) Peter got miffed at Jesus after He asked the question a third time. But Jesus lovingly restored him – symbolically, after Peter had denied Him three times in His earthly lifetime. Jesus said, “Feed my sheep,” Peter. And Peter did just that – with courage and boldness for the rest of his lifetime – unto his death.

JESUS MEETS YOU WHERE YOU ARE, BUT HE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO STAY THERE.”

The rich young ruler knew and followed the law. By all appearances, he was a very godly man. Jesus affirmed him for his obedience to the law. But that wasn’t enough for Jesus. Jesus said, “Sell all of your stuff, and follow me.” If only the man had followed Him. Instead, he walked away, unwilling to leave his materialism and worship of stuff. (Matthew 19:16-22)

JESUS MEETS YOU WHERE YOU ARE, BUT HE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO STAY THERE.”

Just as illustrative, Jesus confronted the Pharisees and Sadducees.   He called them “vipers” and “whitewashed tombs” and “hypocrites.” He loved them enough to speak the truth about and to them, even uttering a prayer for them as He died on the cross: “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

JESUS MEETS YOU WHERE YOU ARE, BUT HE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO STAY THERE.”

But, in my mind, THE most vivid example of this big idea for today involves Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well.

Go there with me, please – John 4, verse 1.

Expositional Commentary and Applications

John 4:1-42. . . .

Action Items

So what? What difference does it make?

 

Now what?

Your church is doing this! At least your Mission Statements indicates such. Donna Parker told me you are committed to “Reaching the Otherwise Unreached.”

How can you do so? One simple method –

Schedule “faith in action” activities. Too many churches still say, “Come to us at our church and meet our expectations.” But we need to go to the neighborhoods and spheres of influence in of our communities. We too often judge others at our first encounters with people different than we. But we must listen, try to understand, build bridges to, and grow relationships and trust with otherwise unreached people.

We at Waukee Community Church have cancelled church on a number of Sundays and “done church” in neighborhoods – raking, bagging leaves, cleaning windows, trimming bushes, running power washers, handing out groceries, and holding a barbeque at the end of the event – during which time we engaged in spiritual conversations and attempted to build relationships with these folks.

Our most significant church growth at Waukee Community Church has come about as a result of our Faith in Action activities. Another pastor in our area heard about our work and sadly admitted, “Our church would never accept those people on Sundays.”

Closing

I would like to close with another set of unique experiences. Our church decided our mission resources would be placed on-the-ground with people and money, so we chose Yemen.
Why, you might ask, would we chose Yemen, of all places?! We wanted to reach unreached people with the Gospel. Like your church, we are attempting to “Reach the Otherwise Unreached.”

Was Yemen unsafe? I never felt unsafe.

In fact, I ascribe to David Platt’s point of view in his book, Radical: The safest place to be is in the middle of God’s will, no matter how unsafe the world my deem it to be.

More people need to know about Jesus.

Meet people where they are, but don’t allow them to stay where they are.

JESUS MET YOU WHERE YOU WERE, BUT HE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO STAY THERE.

Closing Prayer

Let’s pray.

Resources

The Holy Bible. English Standard Version. 2001.

“Reformed Worldview: Getting to ‘Why'”

On Tuesday, November 10, 2015, at Noon, I “attended” a Christian Schools International webinar presented by Bart DenBoer, the current Superintendent of Traverse City Christian School in Michigan.  Mr. DenBoer very much inspired me to make applications of his principles to Oskaloosa Christian School.  I believe his teaching should / could / might / MUST guide Oskaloosa Christian School Board members and teachers in their future decision-making.  If you would like to read my summary of the webinar, “Reformed Worldview: Getting to ‘Why’,” please read on. . . .

“Reformed Worldview: Getting to ‘Why'”
By Bart DenBoer, Worldview Specialist (bdenboer@csionline.org)
Christian Schools International Webinar
Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Summary of and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Principal, Oskaloosa Christian School

My goal today is to relate the concept of “getting to why” with the Reformed worldview, and how that worldview might be expressed in our mission statements.  That’s a big agenda today.  I need and invite your input and questions in the dialogue box of the computer screen throughout and at the end of the webinar.

MY BACKGROUND

I am currently Superintendent at Traverse City, Michigan Christian School.

Last year, I was Interim Superintendent of San Jose Christian School.

Previously, I served 2 years at Bethlehem Bible College and Bethlehem Christian Academy in Palestine, Israel.  I helped start this new school, which, initially had no curriculum or staff.  As with all other schools, we initially asked, “Why are we here?”

Previous to that, I was both a teacher and administrator at Holland (Michigan) Christian School for 35 years.

I have taken Mission Statements and led schools through strategic planning driven by those Mission Statements.

That’s my journey as an educator, influencing my perspective.

ASSUMPTIONS

Two Assumptions I Make

#1
Your school is mission-oriented; your mission influences all decisions, including budget, hiring, evaluation, etc.  If such is not true of your school, it doesn’t really matter what your Mission Statement is.  Do people know your Mission Statement?  Is the Mission Statement posted throughout the building?  Does your school care about your Mission Statement?

#2
The profession of Christian education is well-placed to build the Kingdom of God.  What other profession is better suited for front-line engagement and transformation of the culture than Christian education?!  [I’d say none other!]  What does that look like at your school?  How can you intentionally build the Kingdom of God now?

I am privileged to share some of what I have learned with those from whom I have learned so much.  I know many of you.  I am humbled and blessed to share with all of you today.

My Personal Mission / My “Why”:

“To advance the Kingdom of God by encouraging excellence in Christian education.”

Overview of This Presentation

Introduction
The Importance of “Why”
Highlights of Simon Sinek’s “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”
Aspects of a Reformed Worldview
Q&A Throughout and at the End

THE IMPORTANCE OF “WHY”

People don’t care WHAT you do.  They care about WHY you do it.

The “why” is important for decision-making.  Should we add special education?  Should we add football?

The “why” is important to promoting the school.  If we don’t have a clear idea about why we exist, how can we convince others to join us?

The “why” is important to enrollment.  To “succeed,” we need people who believe what we believe, not just those looking for an educational service.  People don’t agree with us; the education “agrees with them.”

The “why” is important to hiring, evaluation, and celebration.   To make the mission live, everyone needs to be encouraged to be on-board with the mission.  Everyone needs to know and be driven by the Mission Statement.

HIGHLIGHTS OF “HOW GREAT LEADERS INSPIRE ACTION,” BY SIMON SINEK

Sinek emphasizes starting with the “why,” rather than always fixating on the “how” and the “what.”

Real tasks swamp us.

Are we laying bricks or building a cathedral?  We have lost the sense of the mission, if we see the primary activity of students as laying bricks.

Interview and hire staff members who share your sense of mission-driven decision-making.

Celebrate examples of mission-driven decisions.

Evaluate all staff members according to the Mission Statement.

The administrator must model mission-driven decision-making.

Start each new unit with the end in mind.  What do you want students to be able to know and do as a result of this  course of study?

In Christian education, we believe we have limited funding and resources.  But, really, ALL organizations have limited funding and resources.  We believe in a God of abundance, and we are great stewards of our resources.  Succeeding and failing are not necessarily directly related to resources.  We so often do more with less.  Some people with little or no funding changed the world, because they passionately lived their missions, i.e., the Wright Brothers, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., etc.

We all know WHAT we do.  Some of us know HOW we do it.  But few of us give deep consideration to WHY we do what we do.

Here’s one of your Mission Statements:

“In light of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of God’s Word, we will educate each unique student in cooperation with the Christian community, so he or she is equipped and inspired to make a difference for Jesus Christ in the World.”

Making a difference for Jesus Christ in the world is the why.  Educating is the what.  Approaching each student as individuals is the how.

Most of you have a set of mission statements.  Take one.  And practice the whats, hows, and whys of the statement.

I chose Oskaloosa Christian’s Mission Statement:

“To assist parents in equipping their children mentally, physically, and spiritually to be effective disciples of Jesus Christ by offering a quality Christ-centered education.”

The what:  assist parents in equipping their children mentally, physically, and spiritually
The why:  for children to be effective disciples of Jesus Christ
The how:  by offering quality, Christ-centered education

Is this the why which was, is, and will be for Oskaloosa Christian School?!

The why should jump out at the reader.

People don’t buy WHAT you do.  They buy WHY you do it.  To what extent do we think Sinek is right in this assertion?  Is that our experience?

Plan things in your school because of the why.  Be intentional about living-out your why.  Actions must match the mission statement.  [Talk is cheap.  We need to put our money where our mouth is.]

You don’t need to emphasize the word, “reformed,” but the reformed worldview is attractive to people, including those who have never been exposed to a reformed worldview.

Here is my favorite Mission Statement of all submitted:

“The mission of San Jose Christian is to advance the kingdom of God by providing exceptional teaching and curriculum fully integrated with a biblical perspective.”

The hows and whats can be good, but prospective parents must be excited about the why.

Loyalty Customers:  We need a core constituency of believers — those who enthusiastically embrace our why.

Value Customers:  These “Walmart vs. Target” constituents tend to leave as soon as there is a better deal somewhere else.

What is your experience with Loyalty vs. Value customers?

It’s hard to move Value Customers to the Loyalty column.  But we can’t give up on this!  We can’t not try!  Live-out your mission, so people will sit up / stand up and take notice!  Committed Christian community within the context of school will inspire people who have never experienced such a culture.   We’re naive to think that’s going to happen to everyone, or that such will happen automatically.

It hurts to “lose” a long-time supporter (loyal) customer because of a losing basketball program.  Was that supporter a Loyalty Customer or a Value Customer?  I’d assert the latter, rather than the former.

If we don’t know the why we do what we do, how will we ever reach those who believe what we believe?  [Sounds a lot like Dr. Del Tackett in “The Truth Project”:  “Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?”]

MLK, Jr. and the Wright Brothers believed they could change the course of the world.  They were driven by a cause they believed in and lived.

What do we believe at Oskaloosa Christian School?

Does Oskaloosa Christian believe we could change the course of the world?!

A REFORMED WORLDVIEW

There is not a square inch of creation over which Christ does not say, “This is mine!”  (Abraham Kuyper)

God is sovereign over everything, including education.

God’s people proclaim God’s rule over all of His Kingdom, working for shalom, reconciling the gulf between the creation as it was intended to be and the world as it is in a state of sin.

Believers call the entire world, including all of its institutions and all of its relationships, to submit to the Lordship of Jesus the Messiah.

What are the implications for Christian educators?

We must prepare students to be agents of transformation in the here-and-now.  [Of course, we await the Kingdom as it was intended to be, when Jesus ushers in the New Jerusalem, but, until then, we CAN experience the Kingdom of God breaking through on earth.]

Because all creation is “holy,” every curricular area is sacred and subject to transformative action.  [We educate “redemptively.”  All of God’s creation can be redeemed, including education.]

We discern degrees of brokenness and wholeness, then determine our  role in transforming to wholeness.

We educate within the context of an authentic Christian community.  We do education together.  Ours is a covenant community.

Q&A

I submitted an online question:  “How do we lead a revival of “Christian education?”

I submitted a second online question:  “Do we truly believe our Christian schools can change the course of the world?  Do we believe what Jesus said in John 14:12 — “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing; he will do even greater things than these!”

Those were big questions, and Mr. DenBoer certainly didn’t have enough time to adequately answer either one of the questions in the short time allotted.

Continue to pound the community with stories about how your school is leading through mission.

Emphasize the “community of believers.”

“Booze, Herpes, and One-Night Stands”

I became very agitated this week when I read a Fox News article:  “Eighth Graders Asked to Write About Booze, Herpes and One-Night Stands,” by Todd Starnes (05 November 2015, http://goo.gl/7GtKan).  If you would like to read my commentary about this piece, “Booze, Herpes, and One-Night Stands,” please read on. . . .

Perhaps you have heard about last week’s 8th grade language arts classroom assignment at Myron L. Powell Elementary School in Cedarville, New Jersey.

Fox News reported that the boys and girls were instructed to write a “reactive response” to the following situation:

“You had a really rotten day, but lucky for you your best friend is having an awesome party later.  You go to the party and start drinking.  You have a little too much to drink and start talking to this girl/guy you’ve never seen before.  You head upstairs to get better acquainted despite several friends telling you that you don’t even know this person.  You end up having sex with this person.  The next day you really can’t remember everything that happened and rely on your best friend to fill you in.  A week later you find out that you contracted herpes from your one night stand and that this is a disease that you will have all your life and never know when an outbreak will occur.”

Allow me to “translate” this teacher’s assignment:

“You had a really rotten day, but how fortunate that your friend is later throwing a party with lots of drugs and booze to numb your pain.  Of course, you bow to peer pressure, because everyone is drinking, and you don’t want to be different from the rest of the kids at this party.  So you get drunk.  And that’s okay.  Everyone’s doing it.  However, drunkenness, combined with drunk members of the opposite gender, of course, must lead to sexual intercourse, because, according to Darwinians, young people are merely animals who are simply responding to their natural instincts for copulation.  (This scenario also leaves the implicit possibility of homosexual or bi-sexual sex with the “girl/guy” reference.)  The way to “become acquainted” is to “hook-up” sexually, so, naturally, you go upstairs to engage in sexual activity.  Your friends tell you not to do so, but you can’t control yourself, because this hot young thing has ignited desire which cannot be extinguished, and you “must” follow the actions through to their natural conclusion.  Without knowing this other person, you engage in the most intimate personal act possible, cheapening what should be one of the most beautiful creations between a man and a woman (husband and wife).  And you can’t even remember what happened the next day.  Really?  How sad.  A friend has to tell you what happened? Pitiful.  And why are you surprised when you contract herpes?  Such is the natural and logical consequence of your behavior.”

Teachers in these schools are creating scenarios like this all of the time — all in the name of “values clarification.”  And values clarification doesn’t come from a single source — like God.  Everyone can do what is right in his or her own eyes, just as the sinful did in the days of the judges in Israel.  “Who am I, as an educator, to impose my beliefs or morality on a student?” these teachers essentially ask.  I might offend someone.  There is no absolute truth.  Why are we expecting students to be virgins and to resist sexual intercourse?  If it feels good, do it.  Don’t delay your gratification.  Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you die!

But do you know why the parent of a student in that class was most incensed?  The assignment was in a language arts class, rather than a health class!  To be fair, this same parent was outraged and wrote, “It’s insane.  There is no reason whatsoever to discuss that kind of stuff with a kid.  It’s not sex education class.  It’s language arts.”  The parent was outraged, but I’m guessing she was desensitized to the issue of sexuality, because our mainstream culture, including schools, have become saturated with messages of sexuality.

How did the superintendent of this school district respond?  He told the parent that the student could opt-out of the assignment.  Now there is a courageous move.  Of course, in this “marketplace of ideas,” he didn’t want to inhibit the free exercise of these students’ minds or anatomy, because, you know, kids are going to do this, so let’s teach them how to do this “safely” with birth control devices.  Can you imagine me shaking my head right now?

The mom of this student shook her head, too:  She said, “Society is in such a downward spiral, and everyone is willing to go along on the ride, instead of trying to bring up their kids and actually parent.”  Of course, she is stereotyping parents, in this regard, but I have to agree that too many negligent parents can be described in this manner.  The opposite of the velcro parent is the completely hands-off parent.

What should a Christian school do with the topics of booze, herpes, and one-night stands?  The space of this post — and your attention span — is probably not long enough to go into the rant I would love to provide, but let me take a shot at my own question.  God created man and woman in His image.  As image-bearers, we have incredible value to God.  We were created with reason.  We have free will, but we do not have to succumb to temptation.  In fact, God makes ways away from temptation.  God created physical intimacy and sexual intercourse to be enjoyed by 1 man and 1 woman within the confines of marriage.  Period.  No exceptions.  Any deviation cuts against God’s design for oneness, and it’s promiscuity.  We Christians have lousy days.  We can go to parties to unwind, but we should never go to parties to get drunk or high as a means of dealing with our problems.  Jesus wouldn’t forbid us from going to parties, but He would prompt us to leave the party when illegal and ungodly behaviors are occurring.  We certainly should never pursue someone of the opposite gender — someone we do not even know — for a sexual liaison intended to make us feel good.  Avoid the party — avoid the drunkenness.  Avoid the party — avoid the cheap sex.  Avoid the party — avoid the sexually transmitted diseases.  As I used to say to high school students during the opening assembly of a new school year, “Make good choices — enjoy good consequences.  Make bad choices — expect bad consequences.”

So, there you have it — more commentary than you ever wanted to hear about this news story.  But we Christians must start becoming more intentional about holding our biblical worldview up to cultural issues and events, then helping others know, in a winsome, respectful, and gentle may, that there are better ways of thinking, speaking, and acting.

“World War II Through the Eyes of Sergeant George Rinsema”

I love God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  I love America, too — not with the same ferocious love I have for the Lord, but a deep and genuine love nevertheless.  I also GREATLY appreciate the sacrifices made by members of the military during all of the wars and conflicts of our country.  I thank God for veterans who have protected and continue to protect our freedoms in this wonderful country of ours.  What a joy, then, to experience the week of Veterans’ Day through a presentation by Pella Christian High School Interim Principal Clyde Rinsema on Monday, November 9, 2015.  Mr. Rinsema’s father, George Rinsema, served in WW II.  If you are interested in reading my notes of this extremely interesting presentation, “World War II Through  the Eyes of Sergeant George Rinsema,” please read on. . . .

“World War II: A Personal Experience: Through the Eyes of Sergeant George Rinsema”
By Clyde Rinsema
Pella Christian High School
Pella, Iowa
Monday, November 9, 2015

Twenty years ago, in 1995, my brother and I took my 78-year-old father to Europe, so we could re-trace his steps during World War II.  We started on the beaches near Bologna and ended in Elba

Many of the photographs were taken by my father 70 years ago during the war.

My Dad was born in 1916 during World War I.  He grew up in the Roaring 20s.  He was a simple farm boy.  His family cultivated onions in the 1930s.  More changes took place in his lifespan than perhaps any other period of history.

He was a citizen-soldier.  He enlisted in the military service in April, 1941, months before Pearl Harbor.  His lengthy training period was 1941-1944.  He had extensive training, which probably allowed him to survive the war.  An appendectomy and broken leg probably also delayed his entry at the front.

He was assigned to the 638th Tank Destroyer Battalion attached to the 84th Infantry Division known as The Railsplitters.

He got married in 1944 while he was on furlough.

His letters home reflected the uncertainty of his assignment in Europe.  German U-Boats were probably around his transport ship.  On September 15, 1944, he arrived in Bologna, France (after D-Day).

My Dad was trained to operate the M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer made by Buick.  The tank was equipped with a cannon and machine gun.  The purpose of these quick, maneuverable tanks was to destroy German tanks.

This map shows the movement of my Dad’s battalion.  France had been conquered by the Allies.  Belgium had been conquered.  There were heavy armaments at the German border.  This is my Dad with his tank crew.  Mud slowed the movement of the troops.  Progress was measured in yards, not miles.  Resistance was strong, because Germans were defending their homeland.

There was a quick retreat back to Belgium.  Then, the Battle of the Bulge took place in December, 1944 to January, 1945 in the Ardennes Forest.

Gil De Vries, one of my Dad’s buddies, is standing near my Dad in this photograph.  They organized a group of men to read Psalm 91 prior to the battle.  This was a Psalm of protection and comfort for the men who went into the battle.

The men were inadequately clothed.  Soldiers wrapped newspapers around their feet.   Many men froze to death.  The fighting was fierce.  Eventually, the Germans ran out of ammunition.  The Battle of the Bulge became known as one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.  More Americans died in this battle than any war, other than Gettysburg.  The Germans were brutal, committing atrocities of mass execution of prisoners, in order to frighten the enemy.

In Belgium, this man, Christian, was 17 years old during the Battle of the Bulge, and he knew all of the troop movements from Christmas Day through New Year’s Eve.  Christian loved Americans for saving his country.

The Bulge was over.  My Dad’s company went to the Netherlands.  The War would be over in 2 or 3 months.  My Dad next went to Germany.  He brought back one thing that was new to this shell-shocked area:  self-confidence.  Germany had been pulverized.  Pontoon bridges had to be built for soldiers to be transported over sites where bombed-out bridges had once existed.

My Dad experienced a break-through at the point of Germany’s retreat.  The enemy was disorganized.  A new plan and attitude thought miles rather than yards with their progress.  Movement became much quicker along roads.

At the Rhine River, the Americans stopped for a month while they had the enemy on the run?  Why?  Politics.  Stalin was to enter Berlin before the American troops.  Maybe that saved my Dad’s life.  There was still street fighting.  Decisions high up had an effect on who lived and who died.

The troops took respite.  They washed, scrubbing himself and their equipment.  The troops enjoyed U.S.O. entertainment.  Mail from quite a way back arrived.  But there were strict rules about American soldiers fraternizing with German girls, for fear of the soldiers divulging sensitive information.  White flags flew everywhere for surrender.

The last push was from the Rhine to the Elbe.  The war would end in May.  People stood in ragged, striped clothes — slave workers who had been left unguarded when the Nazis withdrew.  He had given chocolate bars to German children, but he regretted not extending such acts of the kindness  to these slave workers as well.

A 7-year-old boy in Minden, Germany told the story of Americans liberating his town in April, 1945.  He and his fellow villagers had been warned about the arrival of the Americans.  He noticed a large grey mass coming closer to him.  His heart pounded.  He was afraid.  Neither his mother nor his father said a word.  The mass was no longer grey and blurred.  Soldiers came into sharp focus, and the click-clacking of tank treads jarred him into reality.  He experienced “these sounds of horror.”  The enemy was armed to the teeth, with no German soldiers to protect them.  The Germans kept walking.  They anticipated being shot dead on the streets.  The soldiers really paid no attention to them.  Suddenly, the boy turned to look directly at the soldiers, one of whom turned his whole body to look face-to-face with the German boy.  The boy believed he would be shot down!  But that enemy soldier smiled at him!  He waved!  He smiled and waved!  That enemy soldier smiled at the enemy boy.  This young boy was referring to my Dad!

The troops advanced to the Elbe River.  Germany artillery shelled the Americans.  But the troops still advanced 50-60 miles a day.  My Dad found photographs from an official Nazi photographer, including numerous close-ups of Hitler and Goering and even Hirohito.

On April 13, 1945, the American troops approached Gardelegen, where Jewish prisoners had been massacred.  The people of this town still diligently tend the graves of those who were killed here.  Germany had lost the respect of the civilized world.

The Americans prepared to meet the Russians in May, 1945.  This was a time of great celebration.  You can clearly see the sign in this video, which ironically read, “Long live the friendship between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.”  That friendship didn’t live very long.

My Dad eventually went to Heidelberg, Germany, fishing with hand grenades!  He also enjoyed a 3-day pass to Paris.  He was transported home in July, 1945.  The conductor stopped the train bound for Union Station in Downtown Chicago to let this soldier out closer to his town outside of the city!

When I was a young man, my Dad always only shared the light-hearted stories of the war.  I only saw his emotion when we visited Normandy.  Army reunions helped him process what he had gone through.  His World War II years shaped his character and conduct.  My brother and I called him “The Tank Commander.”  I experienced the typical disagreements with him as a teenager.  I don’t want to make him out to be a saint.  He was a normal guy.  He was a dear man.  I loved him dearly.

I encourage all of you to talk to people you love before they pass on.  They will feel respected, and you will gain insights into their lives — and your life as well.