Monthly Archives: July 2016

“Under Our Skin”

I love to read.  I love to talk about the content of my reading.  I love to write about that which I am reading.   In writing, I love to summarize the main ideas of articles and books. So it should come as no surprise that I would summarize a book which I have recently read, Under Our Skin: Getting Real About Race — And Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations That Divide Us, by Benjamin Watson, with Ken Petersen, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2015.  If you would like to read my summary of Under Our Skin, please read on. . . .

First of all, any reader should pay attention to the people whom an author has chosen to endorse a book.  From my point of view, Benjamin Watson has an all-star set of testimonials by, among others, Super Bowl Champion Football Coach Tony Dungy, U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black, New Orleans Saint Quarterback Drew Brees, Pastor Tony Evans, Miami of Florida Head Football Coach Mark Richt, and Musician/Songwriter Chris Tomlin.  All of those endorsers are strong born-again Christians, and I can trust their positive judgment of Watson’s book.

Secondly, a reader should carefully consider the worldview of a writer.  For instance, as a follower of Jesus, I have great difficulty finding radio commentators who fully represent my worldview.  I suppose Mike Huckabee and Eric Metaxas come as close as any.  So you can imagine how encouraged I was to stumble upon Benjamin Watson, THE rising voice on race issues in our country.  Where had I been?!  Of course, I had heard Watson’s name as a high-caliber NFL football player, but I simply was unaware of his commentary on the highly-charged issues of race.

People need to pay attention to Benjamin Watson.  God is granting him favor with his platforms in social media, television, writing, and radio.  Because of his celebrity as an athlete — and his brilliant, articulate words on race — he is gaining great traction in our culture.  How refreshing that an athlete has written “memoirs” which do not scream me-me-me-me-me but, rather, address such a significant social issue of our times (and times past).

Watson organized Under Our Skin around the ideas of a post-Ferguson, Missouri riot Facebook post. Additional acts of violence involving race have only intensified Watson’s excellent messages on the topics of anger, introspection, embarrassment, frustration, fear, confusion. sadness, sympathy, hopelessness, hopefulness, encouragement, and empowerment.

I so respect Benjamin Watson, because he fairly presents both his views (1) as a Black man who has experienced prejudice and (2) his willingness to acknowledge differing perspectives.  His most important point is that we must open up dialogue on race issues, rather than engage in emotionally-charged and hateful exchanges.  In my mind, it’s hard to hate others when we sincerely get to know others, and when they get to know us and our hearts.  Racism of the 1900s was more blatant in-your-face activity; perhaps the biggest danger of our times is a racism which has become more subtle, even undetectable (although the most recent ugly discord between Blacks and Whites betrays that idea).

How can Benjamin Watson experience both hopelessness and hopefulness?  He is hopeful, as he acknowledges that the United States has progressed as a nation when it comes to the rights and opportunities of Black people.  He finds hopelessness when recounting experiences with racial prejudice himself, and in the story of his grandparents’ and parents’ lives and commenting on how so much further we have to go with the issues of race.

Watson calls us to introspection.  White, black, brown, yellow, or red — we must look deep within ourselves to determine what prejudices exist in our hearts.  Should we be angry?  Righteous anger is an emotion from God.  Unfortunately, we human beings nearly always cross a boundary into self-righteousness in anger.  I can understand why Benjamin Watson is angry about what is happening in our country.  Even though, as a White man, I can never fully empathize with Watson’s experiences, I can share his anger.  Like Watson, I am angry, embarrassed, sad, and frustrated that this country has come so far, but that so much prejudice still exists.  One of Watson’s main points is that the energy of anger must be channelled productively toward constructive solutions.

Watson’s most important point is that the Gospel is THE answer to these problems.  We sin.  In ourselves, we have no solutions for sin.  Jesus is the answer!  Jesus came to earth to live a sinless life and die on the cross in our place, for our redemption!  And, for those of us who have embraced Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, we can be transformed!  In spite of our ongoing sin, we can be transformed through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), that we might be conformed to the likeness of the Jesus (Romans 8:29).

The Bible indicates that we need not be fearful.  Christ will never leave nor forsake us.  He is ruling over the universe from heaven.  No matter how often sin and evil permeate the culture, God is not surprised.  He is sovereign.  He has already won the victory over sin and death at the cross!  As Pastor Chip Ingram so rightly points out, “We fight from victory, not for victory!”  We also do not need to be confused by these matters.  God is not a God of confusion.  God is a God of truth and clarity.  In the power of the Holy Spirit, we can understand what actions we should pursue, as counter-cultural as they might be.  After all, Jesus rocked the culture and the world when he entered the scene as a much different 30-year-old Rabbi!  Jesus brought life, love, freedom, abundance, encouragement, and empowerment.  Today, the Holy Spirit encourages and empowers us!!

Benjamin Watson brings the only real solutions to the problems surrounding race issues in the United States.  I can only hope and pray that others in the culture will recognize and join his powerful voice.

“Paradigm Buster”

Southside Lower School Principal Rob Brown, his wife Tara, son Gibson, and daughter Kathryn invited Cheryl and me to Eastside Presbyterian Church, and we were so glad we joined in the worship of song, fellowship, and the Word on Sunday, July 31, 2016!  If you would like to read my summary of Lead Pastor Mark Auffarth’s excellent and impassioned message, “Paradigm Buster,” please read on. . . .

“Paradigm Buster”

By Pastor Mark Auffarth

Eastside Presbyterian

Greenville, South Carolina

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Text:  Acts 28:1-10

Summary of and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal, Southside Christian School, Simpsonville, South Carolina

[Bob Smith did a “dramatization” of Acts 28:1-10 in the “character” of Luke:]

I’m Luke.  You’re a group of Christians listening to Luke’s narrative from Acts 28:1-10.

We safely landed on the island of Malta.  We were still hundreds of miles from Rome, our intended destination.  The people of Malta welcomed us warmly.

A snake attacked Paul’s hand.  The natives believed Paul was guilty of murder and would die from the snake bite.  But Paul shook the snake off, and he did not die.  So people changed their minds about him.

Paul also healed a man with dysentary.

Pastor Mark Auffarth:

In 1884, a man died.  His inconspicuous mother and father decided to establish a memorial in their son’s name.  Officials from Harvard University received this unpretentious couple.  Given their appearance, Harvard’s President thought the couple had only a scholarship in mind.  They said they were thinking more about a building.  After such a lukewarm reception, they left.  Not long thereafter, this plain couple gave tens of millions of dollars for the start of a California university in their son’s name:  Leland Stanford University.

We shouldn’t misjudge others in the same way that the President of Harvard University had misjudged the Stanfords.

The people of Malta had misjudged Paul.  They initially thought he was a murderer when he was bit by a snake.  But Paul didn’t die, so they thought he was a god.  But Paul was not a god.  Don’t we too often jump to conclusions about people, based on their actions?

How should we act as Christians in a culture which is increasingly hostile to Christians and Christianity?

We believe we know what everyone else is thinking about Christianity and us as Christians.  But we don’t know what is in a person’s heart or mind.  Instead of responding in arrogance, or to win an argument, we should respond as Paul responded to the people of Malta — with humility and with faith.


Paul had been the main source of encouragement on his ship.  Paul must have been held in high esteem, especially since God had rescued every single person on that ship, in spite of dangerous sea conditions, and according to Paul’s instructions.

So what did Paul do when they arrived at Malta?  He “gathered a bundle of sticks and put them in the fire.”  (verse 3)

Now, I don’t want to make too much of this single verse, but Paul’s first response to this situation was to serve others.  Paul served the others.  He was not just an intellectual.  He served!  That was his “in” with these people.  He served people.  He could have rested after their difficult voyage. But he didn’t rest.  He served.

We build bridges to others in our own culture through humble service.

Too many Christians think they are better than others on the basis of behavior alone.  Such is arrogance.

The Scriptures tell us to serve, love, encourage, and build each other up.  But, instead, we vilify others who do not behave as we behave.

Remember when some Christians said the AIDS epidemic was God’s judgment against homosexuals?

We must take the logs out of our own eyes before attempting to remove specks from the eyes of others.

We should respond to all others through humble service.  We should love people.  We should listen to others.

Jesus loved all others, including His enemies.  He loved prostitutes and tax thieves alike. Jesus loved and accepted you just as you were.

We’re too worried about who will be the next President of the United States or Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.  I am not minimizing the importance of those two positions, but what if, in our corner of Greenville, we took seriously the call to serve and pray for the Holy Spirit’s power?!!

Each of us is one beggar showing other beggars where to find the bread of life.  Isaiah 55 calls us to “come.”  We are to eat bread that is good.  We are called to feast with Jesus!  And we will be changed!


Paul served because that is who he was.  He had no ulterior motives.

And Paul trusted in Jesus.  He had faith in Jesus!

In the book of Acts, Luke records so many examples of people who were healed and transformed by Jesus.

In this section of Acts, Publius’ father was sick.  Paul prayed.  Paul laid hands on this ill man.  Paul had faith that he would be healed.  And God healed the man!

Paul knew he was only one man with no power.  But Paul knew a God with the ultimate power!

We’re good at false humility, aren’t we?  Paul had true humility.  He sincerely believed he was the worst of sinners.  This is the Apostle Paul!  Paul knew grace!  Paul knew Jesus!  Paul saw the power of the Holy Spirit!  He believed the Holy Spirit healed!

Presbyterians can believe in physical and spiritual healing!  My son has become a “charismatic.”  Whom would I want praying for me, if I were sick — a charismatic who believes I can be healed or a Presbyterian who does not believe?!

Paul believed in the power of God.  [Presbyterians can know the power of God, too!]

We have not seen this kind of power.  We struggle in understanding the power of prayer.  The power of the Resurrection is available to all of us!!  God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.

Are we willing to believe in God’s power?!  [Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these.  . . . (John 14:12, New International version)]

We too often pray for our “wants.”  And God gives us some of our wants.  I once prayed hard for a motorcycle, and God graciously gave me that “want.”

But God wants us to pray so His name will be hallowed, so His Kingdom will come, and so His will would be done!  Does that prayer sound familiar?!

Ours is a God of grace and healing.  What if we continued humble service and powerful Kingdom-centered prayer in our community?!!

There are those in our community who despise Christians, people who are our “enemies.”  Jesus told us to love our enemies.  My wife often tells our family to “kill others with kindness.”  I appreciate that, because I would just as soon just say “kill ’em”!

We should kill others who don’t know or follow Jesus with kindness, so that they, too, might be transformed.  We don’t want them to be changed to look like us!  We want them to be transformed to look like Jesus!  One day, we’re all going to be like Jesus in His Kingdom.  It’s not “us versus them.”

Psalm 4:8 should be a theme verse:

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”  (English Standard Version)

We should be serving others, including others who are not like us.  It’s what Christians do.   If we serve others, would we dare to believe Jesus will show up?!!  Would we dare to believe Jesus would change this part of Garlington Road?  This corner of Greenville?  Greenville?!  South Carolina?!!  This country?!!  The world?!!  This is you and I.

Jesus came to bring abundance.  [He came to set the captives free!]  He gave His life for the cause, so His people would experience life and transformation and power!  Jesus uses the power through people who actually believe in His power!!

No amount of legislation can change us.  You can’t legislate morality.

Only Jesus and His grace.

This is the Gospel.

And the Gospel changes everything.



“The Three Loves”

Biblical Worldview will be a the focus of professional development at Southside Christian School, EE-12, during the 2016-2017 school year.  We launched this effort with a workshop on Monday-Tuesday, July 25-26, 2016.  The workshop facilitator was Joe Neff, former administrator at Little Rock Christian and author of The Three Loves.  If you are interested in my summary of the workshop, please read on. . . .


“The Three Loves”

By Joe Neff

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South Carolina


Summary Notes of and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal, Southside Christian School, Simpsonville, South Carolina


Monday, July 25, 2016


I have heard incredible things about Southside Christian.


I’m impressed by what God has done here.


I watched Dr. Barfell’s website video with his vision, and that content excited me.


I’ve enjoyed trying to work through a lengthier presentation to help you infuse The Three Loves into your lives and your students’ lives.


One of my big goals is to actually do biblical worldview with you, as I am teaching about biblical worldview to you.


Today is about catching the idea.  Tomorrow is about application and what your needs are.


When I talk about biblical worldview, the definition can be messy.  The Gospel, for instance, has been defined in multiple ways.  Such is true of biblical worldview as well.


What is biblical worldview?


Please write a definition.


Bob Stouffer’s definition:  “Filtering issues through a biblical lens”


Most schools put biblical worldview integration in their mission statements or vision statements, but they’re not doing it.


Southside Christian is actually doing biblical worldview integration.


The general public or public school teachers may think biblical worldview instruction is “narrow-minded.”


Biblical worldview is sensitive to the direction and work of the Holy Spirit.


Some teachers may think this is something extra on top of all of the other responsibilities of teaching.  But it’s not something extra.


Some think devotions and prayer time satisfy biblical worldview instruction.


Let’s look at my proposed agenda for today and tomorrow.




8:30-9:50, “Why Biblical Worldview?”

10:10-11:30, “What Works?  What Doesn’t?”

12:30-1:50, “How Does It Work?”

2:10-3:00, “Where Are We?”




8:30-9:50, “How to Get and Grow People”

10:10-11:30, “How to Create the Culture?”

12:30-1:50, “What Practices Sustain Biblical Worldview”

2:10-3:00, “What’s Next for Southside?”


Today and tomorrow, I’ll be a trail guide leading you, but the best trips include members of the company doing some of the leading and guiding as well.  I’ve been on this journey.  Many of you have been along these trails.


Let me know if you have any questions, as we go along.


Why Biblical Worldview?


Look at these pictures.  [Joe projected photographs of a dead tree, a small bonsai tree, and a huge oak tree.]


What is the advantage and disadvantage of each tree?  What’s it take to create each of these trees?


What’s this all about?


People.  It’s what happens in students.  We are talking about “products” AND processes.


We’ve got to keep the end in mind.  Why do we do what we do?  The reason you’re here is because of the schoolchildren and what happens with them.  You invest in students and their families.


Each student presents his or her own advantages and disadvantages in learning contexts.  Students appear to be alive while they are in school; they say and do all of the “right” things, but, when they leave the school, they could actually be dead spiritually.


Some schools are attempting to create manageable bonsai students.  We don’t allow for growth, and the “trees” are not healthy.  We should be growing students who bear fruit and yield additional trees.  You can’t “control” an oak tree; it takes a lot of feed, water, and time; but, once that tree takes off, it is not, nor should it be, controllable.


Growing students requires constant watering and nourishment.


Neglect can kill trees.  Disease and drought can kill.  Too much fertilizer can kill.  We can contain and control our students, so they do not flourish as much as possible.  Growth takes time.  We want kids with deep roots — strong trees, that bear fruit, and provide shade.


Are we trimming all of the time?  Are we feeding?  Are we watering?


[Colin Urbanick, Director of Discipleship/Campus Pastor, shared with me what he is learning from the book, THE VINE AND THE TRELLIS.  Schools can have excellent structures with under-nourished fruit.  Or we can have lush fruit with poor structures which do not support the fruit.]


Begin with the end in mind.  Moses did this before Stephen Covey!


Keep a definition of biblical worldview simple and short.


I have a prize for the most concise and focused definition.


Bob Stouffer’s short definition:  “truth lens”


Deb Ryker-Benson has written a book, GRACIOUSLY APOLOGETIC.  Schools are too dominated by governance and fear.  Something’s not quite working.  We’re not analyzing the spiritual culture as we should.  We should be wrestling with spiritual issues.  It’s too much about what to “do,” rather than what we should “be.”


Dr. Stephen Real wrote the book, CLEAR FOCUS.  Our focus should be, first and foremost, on Jesus Christ, His character, and the direction He gives our lives.


Our schools are about Jesus and students.  Biblical worldview integration is about “doing,” but, as importantly, or more importantly, we must study the “being” of students.


We’ve got to take the time to understand the “being” of Christian schools.  And that takes time.  Who are we?  Why do we do what we do?


Colin and I chose Colin’s definition:  “Gospel intentional lifestyle”.


Other definitions in contention for the prize (three Band-aids):


“God’s purpose revealed”


“Maneuvering through life in light of what Scripture says”


“God’s lens”


“Interpretation of reality in accordance with what God reveals about reality”


“Scriptural compass”


“Love-based truth”


“Living life through the filter of God’s Word”


Questions About Definition


Is “view” a noun or a verb?  It makes a difference.


What do we mean by “biblical worldview” (compared to “Christian worldview”)?


Is integration more like a mixture or a compound?  Integration is more about a mixture and being able to pull ideas apart again.  Ingredients in a compound cannot be pulled apart.


Is this about faith or learning?  This should be about faith AND learning.  The compound creates powerful and deep learning contexts.


Is biblical worldview a process or a product?


How is biblical worldview different than Bible class?  Students should be developing a biblical worldview in every class and all times.


Do we use Bloom’s taxonomy?  There are actually three realms of the taxonomy:  cognitive, which is certainly important, the psychomotor realm, and the affective realm.  We school people can get too hung-up-on the cognitive realm.  Teachers appealing to the affective realm can deepen learning.


How do we acclimate new Southside students who have not been grounded in a biblical worldview during their public school experiences?


A “stunted” tree can be re-planted in good soil and take off.  Sometimes, however, the damage cannot be undone.


What is the “being” and “doing” of biblical worldview?


I [Joe Neff] think we “do” biblical worldview.  I love the intellectual.  Students can understand biblical truth, but they later dump that truth and don’t live the truth.  Biblical worldview is more than content.  It’s teachers living God’s truth before students and exciting them about living God’s truth.  I know teachers who are incredible about content and theology and who work really hard for students to know those things.  But some/many students don’t like those teachers, and students won’t grow under that instruction.  Teachers who may not be as adept doctrinally, but who love kids, are influencing students to live the truth.  We’ve got to engage students in learning that is alive.


We can go too quickly to the content of biblical worldview.  It becomes too much about head knowledge and specific “truths.”  We have to drive them into a life of God, pursuing His truth.


“View” is a noun, in that there is content to understand, but, as important, if not more importantly, “view” is a verb, because students need to know how to live-out the truth.


A resource:  The National [Australian] Institute for Christian Education (  The NICE Mission Statement:  “Equipping lens shapers through professional development.”  One NICE advertisement reads, “Are our students seeing the big picture?  Some lenses distort the true view of the world.”


Edify ( works to sustain Christian schools in underdeveloped areas of the world.  I spent several days with Edify people in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and they are wrestling with the same issues as American and Australian schools, with no money and no books to assist with the development of biblical worldview.


[A $10,000 Question:  How can Christian schools help students develop a biblical worldview when, according to a Barna study, only a small fraction of the American population truly have a biblical worldview?]


Prominent Christian Educators on Biblical Worldview:


Glen Schultz:  “Finally, we must learn how to plan, implement, and evaluate true biblical worldview integration into any lesson we might teach.  We cannot leave this all important aspect of Christian education merely to chance. . . .”


Mark Eckel:  “The goal of biblical integration is to help students to think biblically and critically about every subject.  Further, the goal is for students to think biblically and critically about every aspect of her lives.  Ideally, students should seek to see each subject the way God sees it.”


Anonymous:  “Claiming — as every Christian school’s website does — to offer their education within the framework of a biblical worldview and then not doing so — as is invariably the case — amounts to educational fraud in my book.”


Frank Gaebelein:  “We have had a great deal to say about God-centered, Christ-oriented, Bible-based education.  But in actual practice we are not doing nearly enough of it. . . There remains much land to be taken.”  (The Pattern of God’s Truth, 1952)


Dr. Stephen Reel:  Focus on Jesus in Christian education.  Invest in discipleship and the next generation.  Don’t allow the “what” to replace the “who.”


Biblical worldview is about content AND HOW WE TEACH.  Biblical worldview development occurs in classrooms, athletic contests, and recess.


Southside Christian Website:  “Remaining true to our spiritual heritage, we are committed to cultivating a biblical worldview within our students, enabling them to live effective and productive lives in service to our Lord Jesus Christ.”


Unfortunately, too many parents in U.S. Christian schools are saying, “My kid is in a Christian school, but the school isn’t very Christian.”  People need to see Jesus and His truth alive in our Christian schools.  We need to be different than the public school down the street.  Give children a living, breathing, exciting biblical worldview — which is an attractive value proposition for families.


Benefits of Biblical Worldview Development:


Points to Jesus, the Creator Who holds everything together Makes the Bible foundational Pursues truth Draws people to God when they see a biblical worldview lived-out Excites learning Brings unity Asks and answers questions


Classrooms can be “stinky” (not organized or effective).  Classrooms can be “pleasant” (well organized and effective).  But let’s cultivate classrooms which are “overflowing” (with love and excitement and learning and truth and discipling).


The teacher makes all the difference.  And a teacher is not a technician.  In public schools, truth is shallow, and teachers are technicians.  Christian school teachers need to be technically sound, but teaching in a Christian school is about real people and real truth (which is deep and impactful on students).


What works and what doesn’t?


Would you rather have a teacher who knows what s/he’s doing without the right tools, or a teacher who doesn’t have a clue but has all of the right tools?


Who the teacher is and how the teacher lives is a critical element of biblical worldview integration.


“. . .the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  (Hebrews 4:12, English Standard Version)


A teacher can cause harm to students.  Good teachers properly and healthily use God’s truth to help students grow as followers of Jesus Christ.


Let me tell you about two teachers.  A guest teacher came to Little Rock from Texas.  He had taught for 35 years.  He was great.  He talked about the stars and new discoveries about God.


A couple days after observing this teacher, I observed a new teacher talking about cleansing impure water and how amazing God was in helping to develop these chemical processing.


I had seen a master teacher approach biblical worldview, but the first year teacher loves God with a passion, she loves ALL of her students, and she loves her subject (the truth she gives them).  She is driven by her loves.  She is always talking about God.  God is her life.  It’s the pattern of Deuteronomy 6.  God loved the Israelites.  God cared for His people.  If the people wanted their children to live well in the land — if they were to be trees who flourished — then the people should love God with their entire being.  This teacher is not perfect, but she loves God.  Let these words of God be in your heart.  Talk all the time about God.  Put signs up that God is important and real and alive in the school.  Obedience to God’s Word and to being a changed person are at the heart of effective Christian education.  That love will overflow with love.  Children are loved, and truth is loved.  Technical learning goes through the teacher who loves, a teacher who loves her students will do the very best for those students.  When a teacher loves her students, the students catch that passion and want to learn.


I was visiting Greenville Christian School outside of Dallas, Texas, and great things were going on there.  It’s a small Christian school.  A teacher told me, “Biblical worldview is who we are.  It’s who I am.”  It spills out.


Loving God, loving students, and loving students creates a special culture of learning.  My student surveys indicated the highest ratings of teachers who love God, their students, and their subjects.


Biblical worldview development is about content (sharing the truth of God’s Word), and it’s about loving truth and God themselves.


The story of Mary and Martha is an excellent story for teachers.  Martha was literally serving Jesus.  She worked so hard.  She got frustrated that Mary wasn’t helping.  Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, Mary has chosen the better.”  He wasn’t saying that preparing and serving food wasn’t wrong, but devotion to Jesus first is the better part. Don’t lose the “who.”  Jesus is the “who.”  Our students are the “who.”  [This is Dr. Reel’s point as well: Don’t lose focus on the “who” because of the “what.”]


There is power in love.  Love sounds smooshy and sweet.  Love is too often associated with human sexuality and lust.  Love is used in so many different ways.  But, when teachers love God, their students, and their subjects, there is power in love.   (See Revelation 2:2, 4, 6; Galatians 5:6-7; Galatians 5:13-14; and 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.) Love is such a big deal to God.  Teachers grow through their love.  Students grow through their teachers’ love.  The Word of God often equates love with action and obedience.  We are noisy gongs and clanging cymbals without love.


I have no doubt that your teachers love kids.  I hope they love God and love teaching.  We need to help each other to better love God, students, and subjects.  Teachers can tell the truth, but if students don’t sense their love, the impact of learning will not be as great.


How does it work?


We all know teaching is over 40 hours a week.  Effective teachers bring their whole lives to the classroom.  They bring themselves.  The teacher prepares.  The teacher prays for God to give him/her truth and ways of inspiring students.  The teacher is prepared, but the teacher thirsts for the Holy Spirit’s direction in the teaching and learning activities.  There is a joy in this approach.


The percentages of people who have a biblical worldview is very low.  Who decided that?  What questions did they use?  Southside Christian should decide the foundational truth all students should know after they leave the school.


I surveyed my teachers a few years back.  We had a great staff.  I loved every teacher.  They loved God and kids and their teaching.  But it was frightening to learn that their knowledge of the Word was so shallow.  Their level of engagement in a local body of Christ was also low.  A lot of Christians know Jesus Christ, but they don’t know His Word.  They may know what someone else tells them about Jesus Christ; there is a lack of first-hand engagement with the active, living Word of God.  This is a reason that there is a lack of biblical worldview among the staff members in the school.  If we want biblical worldview to be a distinctive of the school, WE HAVE TO KNOW THE WORD OF GOD.   The teachers who don’t teach Bible may believe they do not know enough to bring a biblical worldview to their teaching.  You don’t have to know “everything” about the Bible to nurture a biblical worldview.


We all sang “Rudulph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”


This is one of the most anti-biblical love songs ever.  Kids made fun of Rudolph because of his chief physical attribute.  Eventually, they loved him, but only because he earned their love.  God’s love is unconditional.  Our culture is horrible with earned love.  How many kids feel love unconditionally in our Christian schools?  Parents shouldn’t ask about grades.  They should ask about what their kids learned and how they positively impacted the student community on any given day.


Love God, students, and subjects in God’s way — unconditionally and sacrificially.


There’s not a whole lot to like about the world today.  Why does God love the world?  God loves the world in spite of the garbage in the world today.  Unconditional love changes lives.   You may treat a misbehaving or unloving student differently, but you love all students equally, sacrificially, and unconditionally.


A simple way of showing love to a student is to lean into the student.  Lean into love.


When you love God’s way, you want to know more about God and about your students.  Loving God’s way is a commitment and choice.  [Love does.] It should be harder to say, “I like you” than “I love you.”  Your love of students should be unconditional.  Love is a commitment based on choice.  We grow in our love of God and students, which allows us to grow in our ability to communicate truth to our students.  [We should “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  (2 Peter 3:18)]


Teachers who continue to grow in their knowledge, because of love, always have a fresh appreciation for learning and for students.


When you love God’s way, you have a commitment to the best for students, and your humility and passion grow.


Where you invest is where your feeling goes.  Invest with passion in your relationship with God and others — and with passion for your teaching.  Want the best for each child.  Help students know the truth from God’s Word, so the students gain knowledge about how life really works.  We will not have sustainable learning in a classroom unless a teacher has a sincere passion for God, students, and subjects.  This love deepens the learning, especially the learning about God.


Living is a matter of the heart.  We are loved — by God.  We love because He first loved us.  People who know they are loved will take calculated risks, loving others.  Our hearts must be changed before we change into the likeness of Jesus.


We don’t just show kids the answers.  We show them ways to the answers.  “Be” a biblical worldview that students will “follow.”  A student should become like his teacher.


If a teacher loves God and his subject, but doesn’t love students, that person is a SCHOLAR.


If a teacher loves kids and his subject, but doesn’t love God, that person is SECULAR.


If a teacher loves God and loves students, but doesn’t love the subject, that person is shallow.  Students are supposed to learn certain things and learn those things well.  The youth pastor of the church needs to love students and love God, and he can flourish even without a profound love for “subject.”  [I’m not sure I fully agree.  The youth pastor must still love and know and apply and live the Word of God.]


Be strong and courageous.  A lot of kids leave our Christian schools, but they do not follow Jesus, and they do not pursue biblical truth.  “The Three Loves” can help.  Let kids see the joy you have for learning, Christ, and truth.  Help students to be strong and courageous.  Give kids strength in school by teaching them, so they learn truth and strategies for learning; then, they can be courageous.  Teachers must also believe they are strong and courageous in their own learning.  Students should see the staff loving and risking and learning and passionate about their lives.  David was courageous when he faced Goliath, because he loved the Lord, and he had faith in God’s ability to fight through him.  David said, “. . .the battle is the LORD’s and He will give you [Goliath] into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:47).  Teachers must want students to speak boldly about God.


Where are we?  What are your questions?  What actions should you take?


Do we behave as we believe, generally?  Every person has a worldview.  Most people don’t realize what their worldview is.  Their worldviews affect how they behave.  None of us sees ourselves in a totally accurate view.  We need to help students see their true selves and reality, in accordance with the Bible.


Is worldview more caught or taught?  Love has power in learning.  We learn better from those we know care about us.  We’ll go deeper with the people we trust.  It’s both taught and caught.  Love which drives content deepens learning.  Students follow those who are consistently living-out their worldviews.  There is power in both love and example.


Isn’t the end goal of biblical worldview to not be able to separate the worldview from living and learning?  And God cannot be separated from me or the learning?  Growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ IS the biblical worldview.  That’s the “why”!  We need to help students fall in love of God and truth (the subject).  Learning is not just about giving answers.


Students can reject truth and life transformation.  Is that an indictment of us?  No.  God has blessed me so much, but I am so self-centered.  That’s true about all of us, to a degree.  God loves unconditionally.  Jesus sacrificed His life.  He is truth!  People reject God and Jesus all of the time.  Jesus “came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.”  (John 1:11, ESV). We plant.  We water well.  We fertilize well.  We want to to our best.  God handles the increase.  The Holy Spirit does the work of transformation.  I [Joe Neff] used to teach Marriage and Family class, and I was often scared, because I knew the enemy would come after me and my family; our fight is not with flesh and blood.




We teach from a reality of the work with God.


Students know, at least intellectually, they are loved by God.


Leadership encourages biblical worldview development in all venues.


Bible CEUs are given for faculty meeting involvement, and the learning is relevant.


Personnel have genuine relationships with the Lord.


We major in the majors.


Our culture is a culture of excellence, including “The Three Loves.”


There is commitment to God and students.


There is no competition among teachers, and we’re willing to be held accountable for growth.


The teachers have a strong knowledge of the Scriptures.


There is a growing culture of student discipleship, particularly among the Upper School student body.


Intentionality:  We’re working on it.  This is a lesson plan item.  Teachers are purposeful with students inside and outside the classroom.


We understand that devotionals and verses sprinkled in is not in-depth biblical worldview development.


Skill development is a way of increasing a student’s “strength.”  God can use those skills (keyboarding).  “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  (Colossians 3:17, ESV)


We keep each other straight; if I’m down, another staff member will encourage me with truth and wisdom.  As a faculty, we care for each other and hold each other accountable.  We’re not doing everything perfectly, but we strive to do so.  Non-Christians know we are Christians “by the love we have for one another.”  The most important thing we can teach students is that we should love one another.  The teachers here love each other, and students are aware of that; the students see that love.


In this environment, students feel safe, which allows them to be more open and transparent with others.  We’re not perfect, but the current environment facilitates greater transparency.




We must personally work on our own biblical worldview.


We must continue to be transparent with students about our walk with the Lord.


We can better help students pray and put feet to their learning.


How can we help the kids themselves integrate biblical truth in their projects?


How do we help students saturate their learning with God and biblical truth, not allowing ourselves to compartmentalize our days or lives as somethings “spiritual” and other things “secular”?


How can we raise the bar and get students more excited about memorizing key Bible passages?


Is this about biblical worldview development or development into the character of Christ?  (God’s word was made flesh in Jesus!). All truth should point to Jesus.


How can we help students to live-out their lives consistent with biblical truth (as opposed to the hypocrisy characterizing so many Christians today, adults included)?


A Resource:  The Great Tradition of Christian Thinking, by David C. Cook (from the Reclaiming the Christian. . . .  Series)


Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Biblical love is a choice.  Showing up for things like this workshop reflects biblical love, a sacrificial choice for you to better understand how you can influence, if not “infect,” students.


We continue on the “trail” of our journey today.  You have the hard work to do after I leave.  If you attempt to climb a a 14,000-foot mountain, you might not make it, but you will have learned much along the way.  The beauty of school is being able to “start over” after you have not gotten to the peak, and you can attempt again to reach the summit again.


You all are amazing.  You know so much.  You are so kind.


We’re going to focus on application today.


Could I name some schools which are nailing biblical worldview, in my opinion, from my worldview?  My quick, harsh answer is no.  There are schools who are doing some really good work.  My expectations are high.  I will not be satisfied until EVERY CHILD in EVERY CLASSROOM has a biblical worldview.


Dr. Barfell reported data which was 13 years old, but he doesn’t believe the data has improved all that much since 2003:


3% claim a non-Christian faith


4% call themselves agnostics or atheists


90% of the American population say they are Christians; 59% are “notional” Christians (with no discernible commitment to Jesus Christ); 34% are born again, with a personal relationship to Christ; 4% fit the category of “evangelicals,” who say they are Christians, claim a personal relationship with Jesus, AND live their lives according to their belief systems


There is an incredible need and opportunity for Christian school teachers to live with a biblical worldview.


At a convention several years ago, Ken Gangel said Christian schools are “our last hope.”  Such was not to diminish the church or the family.  He’s a big believer in both.  What you are doing is very important.


Let’s start with a weird quiz.  At your table, take a minute to write down one quiz question you would ask this group.


Colin:  Is biblical worldview a noun or a verb?


Bob:  Fill in the blank:  The student should be like _______________________ .  HIS TEACHER


Paul:  If you just love God and your subject, then you are a. . . . SCHOLAR.


Gambrel: Is biblical worldview a(n) noun, verb, both, neither?  BOTH.


Sarah:  Draw which tree shows no understanding of biblical worldview.  DEAD TREE.


Kim:  Hold the number of fingers in the air representing the realms of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  THREE:  cognitive, affective, and psychomotor.


Don:  How is teaching both an art and a science?  There are scientifically-verifiable strategies for effective student achievement, and the Christian school teacher relies on the Holy Spirit to guide him/her to/through teachable moments.


Joe:  Did we talk about this yesterday?  Yes, Don and I talked about this in the room after you left yesterday.


How does the Holy Spirit influence teaching and learning activities?


Danielson’s Grid of 4 Domains of Teaching and Learning is very scientific, but the student might not reach the depth of learning apart from the Holy Spirit.


Are teachers born or made?


We can all get better.


Some people have “with-it-ness.”  Some people are aware and can make adjustments in the teaching and learning activities.


A couple of years ago, I was visiting a middle school principal at a well-known and well-off Christian school, in our exploration of moving to a block schedule, and he told me the block schedule was best for students, but it is only best if you have great teachers, but “I can’t do it.  You know how it is,” he said.  This principal was, sadly, accepting a lack of quality in his teachers.  That conversation still really bothers me still today.  Would any of us accept less than the best from our schools?  We’ve got to help each other grow and change, when necessary.


Students should become like their teachers.  (Luke 6:40)


Teachers must be diligent in their planning.  Teachers are held to a stricter judgment.  (James 3:1)


Discuss the following question for 5 minutes:


What are the top qualities, strengths, knowledge, skills, or attitudes teachers need to teach biblical worldview in their classrooms day after day?


Our Group / Related Comments from Other Groups:


Start with your vibrant relationship with Christ / deep, evident love for Jesus Thirst for righteousness and the Word Knowledge and application of the Word / biblically literate Led by and submissive to the Holy Spirit / leaning on the Spirit An attitude of love and compassion for students. (In step with an African concept, “I see you,” the teacher “says” through his/her words, attitude, tone, eye contact, and awareness.) An awareness (with-it-ness) of opportunities and willingness to take advantage of teachable moments / ability to adjust on-the-fly Intentionality in planning for biblical worldview development / being accountable for the responsibility to do so Speaking truth through relationship Authenticity and transparency (no facades or “image control”), “real” people A teacher who lets students know him/her as a person Humility, brokenness, repentant hearts — a willingness to accept the leading of the Spirit


Distinct Ideas from the Other Groups:


Building redemptive relationships with students Passing all courses through the grid of Scripture Auto-didactic / life-long learner Awareness of goals, avoiding rabbit trails, but willing to deviate with unplanned activities which will still take you to the goals Kingdom-minded, God-first attitude Truth-seekers Cultural awareness and being able to relate to young people (Pokemon Go) Accepting responsibility for mentoring and discipling students; the bigger the school gets, the more intentional that school staff needs to be in this regard.

A clear calling

Patience / perseverance

A deep knowledge and understanding of God’s forgiveness, so we can extend grace to others


You have to know Scripture to help students develop a biblical worldview.  Too large a percentage of ACSI teachers pushed back against the requirement of 6 credits for ACSI certification, according to Dr. Barfell.


The objectives should be clear.  There are different ways of getting to those objectives.


When things are going well in a school, we would do well to acknowledge God as the source of those blessings.  We must humble ourselves at all times, especially in the good times.


Students are going to ask you what this all means.  And you need to be ready to give a response at these teachable moments.  You may have to wait for years to learn of the epiphanies of these students.


Teachers must keep growing.  Christian schools seek people who are life-long learners who want to be used by God to positively influence students.


I see in this room people who “get it” and are humble about getting it.  Be careful that you are not so humble that you don’t share your gift of biblical worldview awareness.  Help each other.  Promote each others’ gifts and abilities.  Advance the positive culture of Southside Christian School.


All truth is God’s truth.  All truth should be filtered through the Bible.


Teachers need to get their hearts right with God before they can be prepared for a new school year.


What practices help teachers grow in these areas — short-term and long-term?


[We created short skits to illustrate the following practices.]


Jesus took His disciples through a progression:  “Come and see.  Come and follow.  Come and be with me.  Come and die with me.”


I do; you watch.  I do; you help.  You do; I help.  You do, I watch.


Schedule other teachers to observe master teaching.  Hire substitute teachers for participation in TESA (Teacher Expectations for Student Achievement) and GESA (Gender Expectations for Student Achievement).


Active listening.


“I see you.”


Time and attention and availability to others


Establish trust, so relationships work.  Building positive culture in a school requires a very high degree of trust.


Teachers need to know that administrators are supportive and not judging during observations.  Other sets of eyes provide different perspectives and valuable feedback.  That tone should be set before visits are made to classrooms.  Teachers shouldn’t be compelled to “put on a show” for the person who is observing.


Growth is personal.  We must be in relationship to help others grow.


Teachers are susceptible to criticism; a teacher will notice 1 negative even when 99 positives have been given.


Sharing ideas; getting heads together; praying together; getting to know each other; striving for unity


Love is foundational to the understanding, growth, unity, and trust of a school.


There are so many people and so many tasks.  How do we prioritize the most important interactions and task completion to build biblical worldview in a school culture (and the MANY other priorities of Southside).


Joe:  Growing people is what we’re in the business of.


Colleagues and administrators should point out the strengths of teachers and work with those teachers to set realistic goals.  Teachers should have input for their own goals.


Accountability needs to be a part of the process, or busy people may neglect the goals.  We all have blind spots and get sucked into the day-to-day “stuff” of life.  Even quick periodic check-ins are effective.


Adult learners like choice.  They like to be empowered to pursue goals.  Motivation should be intrinsic.


Professional development should be differentiated for teachers in the same way we differentiate for students.


Teachers will engage in an inner struggle between wanting to get to know and understand students and, at the same time, trying to “cover” curriculum.  Reality confounds our energies and schedules.


We also want teachers to talk about themselves, their struggles, and what the Lord is doing in their lives.


Even if the teacher feels unprepared, s/he should know the goals and lead students toward those goals.


What happens when a teacher no longer senses a calling to teaching and/or the school?  In a loving way, other teachers need to come alongside that person; supervisors need to speak the truth in love; all should coach the person to discover whether they can muster the passion to continue in that calling, or whether the person should decide to make his/her own life better — and the lives of colleagues, supervisors, students, and parents more enjoyable — by pursuing a different calling.


Joe:  One teacher, at the end of each class period, would enthusiastically (and sincerely) proclaim to all of the students, “I love you.”


Periodically eat lunch with a group of students or a single student.


Go to a student’s athletic contest, music concert, or dramatic production.


Suggestions for Culture Change:


Lead by example!  “Do” biblical worldview.  “Be” the biblical worldview; be the living curriculum.


Clarify expectations.  Evaluate for biblical worldview development.  Have resolve to make a difference in this arena.


Applaud those who are doing biblical worldview development well, and give courage to those who need it.  “. . .admonish the idle, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:14)


Engage in small and big ways.  Make biblical worldview part of the daily conversation.  Ask questions when you are confused, concerned, uncertain, and frustrated.


Embed biblical worldview development in the culture of the school.  Lean into biblical worldview development.  Do the heavy lifting.


Build trust, and leverage people.  Distribute leadership among the staff.  Empower formal and informal leaders to champion positive movement with biblical worldview development.


Give permission.  Strongly!  State expectations.


Neutralize toxicity.  Even one teacher can undermine positive change efforts.


Let’s talk about specific ways of developing biblical worldview in all classrooms.  The teacher who loves like God loves, who knows the Bible, who is excited about biblical worldview development, and who is continuing to learn will naturally help students develop biblical worldview.


All teachers can benefit from additional Bible learning.


All teachers can benefit from having a better understanding of their subjects.


All teachers can benefit from better understanding and loving their students.


All teachers can benefit from a better love for and understanding of God.


How can the teacher show truth from God’s Word in your teaching and student learning?


Does the subject point to God and draw students to Him?


What do you know about God, people, world, and salvation?


Use other truth and ideas than the Bible as the beginning point.


Ask questions to invite deeper thought:  How do the concept of wave collapse in quantum physics relate to the themes of Les Miserables (hope) and Jim Dine’s painting, “Ten Formal Fingers” (hopelessness)?


Know biblical themes to integrate in learning.


Can we use the subject for God’s purposes in life?


What are God’s desires?  Justice.  Mercy.  Humility.  Salvation.  Healing.  Abundance.


Look at Scripture yourself — to better understand truth.


Every day, every teacher, should ask every one of these questions:


How will my students know I love God today?


How will my students know I love them today?


How will my students know I love the subject, the truth, I give them today?


Help each other.  The teacher who has experience with and passion for biblical worldview development should be helping teachers who are uncomfortable or not secure about such teaching and learning activities.


Create a biblical worldview library.


We divided into Lower School and Upper School groups to brainstorm questions and possible strategies.


Vivian, Colin, Jess, Martha, and I worked together as a group.


Every teacher should read THE THREE LOVES.


Make biblical worldview development the basis of regular ongoing professional development activities.


Break down the qualities of teachers effective with biblical worldview development for deeper discussions of those traits during teacher meetings (resulting in CEUs).  Use skits, as Joe used skits, to provide an even higher level of engagement and enjoyment in the training.


Department heads should work with their respective teachers to create goals for 2016-2017, including 1 goal for biblical worldview development.


With teachers, discuss biblical worldview development early in the school year.


Ask the department heads to ask the 4 questions on a quarterly basis for the sake of accountability:


(1)  How are you demonstrating life with God in the classroom and outside the classroom?


(2)  Does the Bible say anything about your subject?


(3)  Does the subject point to God and draw students to Him?


(4)  Can you use the subject to apply a biblical truth or reach a biblical goal?


Laminate the 4 questions for all teachers.  Include “The Three Loves” sweet spot, the model for biblical worldview (p. 47 and p. 51).


Observers should give feedback about and celebrate biblical worldview development in teaching and learning activities.  Increase rapport with all teachers.   We should out-do ourselves in encouraging others and uplifting the staff.


PRAY for the Holy Spirit’s guidance with biblical worldview development.


Lower School Ideas:


Build relationships intentionally with students, even BEFORE they come to school.


Build relationships intentionally among teachers and among students.  Model the sense of family.


Think intentionally about content and biblical worldview “compounding.”


Each of the staff members must intentionally grow in their relationship with the Lord.  Love and truth are gifts the teachers give to the students.


Another Upper School Group’s Ideas:


Engage in personal study.


Seek resources.


Indicate to each other when devotions and verses are NOT biblical worldview development.


Study sermon notes and how they relate to teaching and learning activities.


Take secular textbook content captive to biblical truth.


Be patient and encouraging with each other.  Manage expectations.


Contrast other worldviews with the biblical worldview.  Ask what conclusions all worldviews draw about particular ideas.


Upper School Math and Bob Jones Group:


You don’t want to force biblical integration.  (For instance, math is from God because math has order.)


Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading; such will be digested so much better than forced application.  God’s Word is the living Word.  You can expect that understanding and applying God’s Word will bring great results.


Joe:  At Culver’s, during lunch today, I asked one of the workers at the counter, Vivian, a rising senior, “What do you like about Southside?”  She answered, “Our teachers are so supportive.”  I then asked her, if she had the chance, what would she say to the teachers?  “Tell them not to feel so bad when students are not inspired and encouraged.  But we are inspired and encouraged.”  She was so thoughtful giving a response like that at the counter of the Culver’s!


What’s next for Southside?  Your plans are good.  You are in a good place.  Keep planning.  Keep dreaming.  I’d like to challenge your school.  Your school is poised to be a leader in creating and sustaining biblical worldview development.  You have stability.  You have leaders who have desires with this distinctive.   You could be THE leader in the country.  Somebody’s got to do this.  Why not you?  Trust God.  God will give the ministry of the Spirit to make us adequate.  It’s always Him.  It’s always Him anyway.  Prepare.  Then pray.  To see how God will shape teaching and learning at Southside Christian School.  There is nothing that will help you more to prepare you for the next school year than to pray.  Sit in each seat and pray for each student.


I’m excited for you.  How can God use this is big ways.


Teachers are more adequate than they think they are.  However, if a teacher has never considered biblical worldview development will need resources to assist them.


Resources are available:


Think Biblically! By John MacArthur


Chris Brown of Wheaton Academy in Chicago


Mark Eckel


Christian Overman


ACSI has published an encyclopedia on biblical worldview.  I don’t agree with everything in the book, but it’s a good tool overall.


Dr. Barfell:


I have asked the principals to make biblical worldview integration a key emphasis of our professional development in 2016-2017.


Vivian found an excellent conference on biblical worldview integration and discipleship.  We had a group which was going to attend.  The conference got cancelled in June.


That’s why we asked Joe to spend these days with us.  Thank you, Joe, for these 2 good days.


I have been on a journey.  At Liberty Christian School, God grew our enrollment while we were learning how to do biblical worldview integration.  That was our passion.  I just assumed EVERY Christian school did that well.  Then, God called us to Blackhawk Christian School; Jen and I were dumbfounded that the educators in that school didn’t have a firm foundation of biblical worldview development, so we rolled up our sleeves and worked on bringing biblical worldview development a distinctive of the school.  With ACSI, I observed that not too many Christian schools understand biblical worldview development.  When we sought a school, we looked for a school which understood this.  And Southside was just such a school.


Mark Eckel did his doctoral research on the effectiveness of biblical worldview integration.  He found that it didn’t matter whether a teacher graduated from a Christian or secular university.  He found that leaders who encourage, train, and encourage teachers to engage in biblical worldview development was the key factor in making this happen positively in schools.  Transformation happens in the context of relationships.  Teaching from a biblical worldview is absolutely critical to what we do, because this is a distinctive of our school.  It’s our value proposition.  It’s why I can sleep at night after we charge $12,400 for each student at the Upper School.  What makes us unique and distinct?  It’s this piece right here.  I call it “biblio-centric.”  Everything we teach is from a biblio-centric perspective.   We have to do this well.  Yesterday and today was the launching of our plan for emphasizing biblical worldview development.


Thank you for coming yesterday and today.  Your motivation was for CEUs, but that was not your primary motivation.  You care about your craft.


We’re also going to have Milt Uecker (formerly from Columbia International University) work with us during in-service in August.  He’ll do 60 minutes with Early Education, 60 minutes with Lower School, and 60 minutes with Upper School — to meet the unique needs of each group.  During professional development in October and February, part of that training will emphasize biblical worldview development.  I believe that training will be transformative.


We also want to provide the resources for you.  We purchased CurriculumTrak, an online curriculum tracking tool.  This summer, curriculum guides have been imported to CurriculumTrak.  Don’t be concerned.  We’ll ease into this.  Once we get used to CurriculumTrak as our curriculum mapping tool, we’ll be able to do our lesson planning on CurriculumTrak.  Dr. Mark Eckel has embedded biblical worldview standards in CurriculumTrak.


Those are thoughts of pointing us in our direction.


Let’s pray about the school year about helping students to develop a biblical worldview.


[We prayed for several minutes to close the workshop.]


Fellowship Greenville Worship Pastor (and Southside Christian alumnus) Matt Rexford preached an excellent sermon on the hope of heaven during the morning worship service at the church on Sunday, July 17, 2016.  If you would like to read my summary of Matt’s message, “Heaven,” please read on. . . .


By Pastor Matt Rexford

Fellowship Greenville

Greenville, South Carolina

Sunday, July 17, 2016

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

Southside Christian School, Simpsonville, South Carolina

Text:  1 Peter 3:13 (English Standard Version)

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

13Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

You are not made for this world.

Remember what you are waiting for, and put your hope there.

Set your eyes on things above [Colossians 3:1].

How exciting will heaven be?

Heaven is beyond our comprehension.

In 1 Peter, the Apostle is writing to exiles.  We are to consider ourselves to be exiles on this earth.

Our inheritance is not of this world; our inheritance, according to Peter, is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.


Our inheritance is imperishable.  It cannot spoil of decay.  Everything on earth is delegated to rust.  Our future hope is imperishable.  Heaven is a real place.  We will experience heaven through all of our senses.  There is no uncertainty, worry, anxiety, or fear in heaven.

Henry Berkhof wrote, “Time is the mould of our created human existence. Sin led to the fact that we have no time, and that we spend a hurried existence between past and future. But the consummation as the glorification of existence will not mean that we are taken out of time and delivered from time, but that time as the form of our glorified existence will also be fulfilled and glorified. Consummation means to live again in the succession of past, present, and future, but in such a way that the past moves along with us as a blessing and the future radiates through the present so that we strive without restlessness and rest without idleness, and so that, though always progressing, we are always at our destination.”


Our inheritance is undefiled.  Heaven is free of stain and blemish.  Heaven is pure.  In heaven, there is no more crying, pain, sorrow, sickness, dying, hospitals, sin, evil, terrorism, racism, idols, failure, drudgery in work, or Satan.  All praise toe God in heaven!  We will have correct images of ourselves and position in Jesus Christ!


Our inheritance is unfading. All is heaven is kept in the original brightness and beauty.  On earth, everything fades with time.  The best places of this world are sneak previews.  In heaven, everything is unfading.  There are so many magnificent places and people on earth, but they do not compare to the beauty of heaven.  [Matt played a PowerPoint presentation of slides which featured extraordinarily beautiful places and people in this world.]  The gates of heaven are never shut; you will have access to view and experience all of the redeemed places of God’s creation.  There will be great diversity in heaven.


Peter continues in his analysis of the hope which lies within you.  All of this is kept in heaven FOR YOU!  You will interact with all of the saints of the ages.  And we will be us!  We will recognize each other.  As Pastor Tony Evans said, we truly won’t “know” each other UNTIL HEAVEN.  There will be millions of joyful reunions.  We will not have to search for others.  We will feast and worship together forever.

What about now, though?  The world is filled with sadness and chaos.

Please consider the hope of 1 Peter 1:6-9.

Yes, we are grieved by the trials of this life.  But Peter calls us to rejoice.  We should live our lives from the future backwards.  The pain of this life does not compare to the joy of heaven.  We are to meditate on our future inheritance.  We are to set our hope on the future revelation of Christ.  We should not set our minds on earthly problems.  We are to set our eyes and minds on things above (Colossians 3:1, 2).  We are to set our hope on the inheritance which is to come.

[Appropriately, and beautifully, we concluded the service by taking Communion together and singing “In the Sweet By and By” (with one chorus of of “I Can Only Imagine” interspersed).]

“Talking to Students About Racial Unrest”

“Talking to Students About Racial Unrest”

By Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal, Southside Christian School, Simpsonville, South Carolina

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

So much violence has occurred in our country during this past week.

The unrest is troubling, to say the least.

I am White.  I cannot fully understand the perspectives of Black Americans at this time.

I believe I CAN empathize with African-Americans, but I am depending upon rational voices in this country to help us sort through the complicated matters before us.

One thing is certain.  I need to understand the truth of these matters and then be able to calmly listen and intelligently interact with others when they are expressing the widest range of ideas and emotions.

Even if there were not a single Black student at Southside Christian School, I would personally need to be a voice for unity and understanding.  There certainly are African-American students at Southside, and we all need to unite as the body of Christ to be instruments of peace, not division.

So, in this blog post, I want to make you aware of recent writings which could be of assistance to you when you are considering how to speak with students about the current racial issues of the United States.

“How Should Teachers and Parents Talk to Kids About Police Violence?”

By Emma Brown

The Washington Post

July 9, 2016

“All Lives Matter”

By Benjamin Watson, African-American Tight End, The Baltimore Ravens, NFL


July 10, 2016

“It SHOULD go without saying that “all lives matter”, including black lives, unborn lives, white lives, elderly lives, affluent and poor lives, Christian and atheist lives. But, today, in light of our present societal struggles and racial tension the question is worth addressing. As Americans, do black lives matter to us?

It’s clear looking at history from 1619, when the first Blacks sailed up the James, to 2015 when the first brown skinned man occupies the Oval Office, that their individual innate worth as human beings has grown exponentially in America’s eye. Yet in spite of all this, things still aren’t entirely OK.
The state of black lives has been the clearly identifiable scarlet thread woven through our four century long tapestry of liberty and while laws have been amended and created, what’s on the books and what’s in the hearts are at times still at odds.

Having the same legal privileges is paramount but respect for others is not dependent upon legislation, it’s directly connected to the condition of the heart. The black and white typed letter of the law can be non discriminatory while the administration of it is anything but.

In light of recent headlines I’ve asked myself, “Do black lives really matter to the people I work with, grocery shop with, and go to church with.” More importantly, I’ve asked myself, “do black lives matter to me?”

At times in my life I’ve felt that black lives didn’t matter to some white people….or even some black people. I’ve even believed the myth that my life somehow wasn’t as important as my white classmates, teammates and friends.

Whether we are totally naïve or if we intentionally promote such a message, by listening and watching closely we will easily see that in many ways black lives don’t matter.

Black lives DON’T matter when the only time we learn about black heritage is black history month. And even then the same characters are paraded, as great and important as they are, as if they are all we have to be proud of. A people who don’t know their history, lack identity, and consequently, a positive self concept. Ancient and modern history, religious and secular, is riddled with contributions by Africans and blacks, but are many times only discovered through personal investigation outside of traditional academia.

Black lives DON’T matter when the closer one’s physical features resemble Caucasians the “better” they are. The legacy of the bi-racial light skinned house slave versus the dark skinned field slave endure as an understood if not spoken hierarchy among us. Opportunities, acceptance, beauty are many times associated with whiteness.

Black lives DON’T matter when neighbors, black neighbors, kill each other. It’s no surprise that people generally commit crimes against the people they live nearest to. Even so, the truth is that we treat people no better than the value we place on them and the dignity we have in ourselves.

Black lives DON’T matter when some politicians enable generational dependency, stifling individual responsibility while others completely deny the importance of programs that are needed to help the marginalized. A crutch is the vital friend of the injured, its ultimate purpose to one day be laid aside as its former dependent walks on their own. If it oversteps its purpose the user will no longer feel the need to walk. Erroneously, they may not even think they can ever do so. Consequently, a stagnant, hopeless life seems to matter less.

Black lives DON’T matter when we support and engage in the termination of our most important resource and our hope for a brighter future, our unborn children.

Black lives DON’T matter when their very real and documented negative experiences with law enforcement, employment opportunities, and educational funding is belittled and dismissed. Compassion for another’s experience, even if foreign to us is paramount when encountering situations we can’t understand.

Black lives DON’T matter when black offenders are generally termed thugs, the status quo, while whites are classified as mentally ill anomalies.

Black lives DON’T matter when fathers selfishly abandon their children and their children’s mothers, teaching them that family is not a priority, and almost ensuring the cycle will repeat itself. A strong foundation gives children the fortitude to weather the storms they are sure to face throughout their lives.

But BLACK LIVES MATTER, when we look at our black children and imperfectly strive to show them the compassion, love, leadership, hard work and sacrifice a man should exhibit in hopes that our sons will carry the banner further and our daughters will set the bar high for their future spouses.

BLACK LIVES MATTER when we understand that the black community can not be characterized by headlines of a single story, because it is filled with multiple stories from millions of contrasting individuals.

BLACK LIVES MATTER when we look at our white children, and realize that they are internalizing and will imitate every attitude, action, comment, and expression we make when the next racially charged incident occurs or when we engage with others on a daily basis, who don’t look like us. They are future change agents as well. Some of the largest victories in abolition and civil rights came because of the compassion and activism of our white brothers and sisters.

BLACK LIVES MATTER when we are willing to stand up to our friends and family when they make racist comments and jokes that are dead wrong. AND they matter when we refuse to flippantly use words created to demean and degrade even if we feel WE have a right to.

BLACK LIVES MATTER when we are mature enough to understand that challenging the black community to improve in certain areas does not absolve the system of guilt, or deny that inequities and biases are still very much apart of our everyday lives. We must not always be so defensive that we can not see that some of the problems are our own.

BLACK LIVES MATTER when we desire the discomfort of change more than we desire to wallow in the comfort of conflict.

BLACK LIVES MATTER when all lives know their God given, intrinsic worth and realize that man foolishly looks on the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. That’s when we will no longer let these injustices define us or continue to perpetuate the attitudes, actions, and assumptions that forces us to raise our voices and scream about whose lives matter!

So historically, and in many ways presently, black lives don’t matter…. but so what. Where do we as a nation go from here? We make them matter where they don’t. We repent if we’ve been wrong or calloused. We repent if we’ve been bitter and vengeful. We become intentional in our relationships.

The burden of making black lives matter is on all of us. When it comes to race, the dining room in our homes is just as important as the court room in evoking true lasting improvement. What happens or doesn’t happen in these family times is paramount to our collective health as a society. I shall no more tell my children to succumb to their skin color and its supposed disadvantages then any parent whose offspring may be subject to any other form of adversity. I will, however, tell them that their color will not define them. I will instill in them a spiritual identity that supersedes anything this world can give. I will not ignore the importance of heritage and ethnic identity in their present success and self concept, but I will simultaneously teach them that their true identity is in Christ, and that that identity supersedes anything this world can offer.

The attitudes inherited by our different heritages can breed in us unhealthy attitudes if left unchecked, including the foolishness of supremacy and the myth of inferiority. The cross bridges the gap, the power of the blood penetrating deep into our wickedness, convicting us, forgiving us, and reconciling us to God and subsequently reconciling us to each other. Only in Christ do the temporal distinctions between us fade, as our oneness in him takes precedence over our color creed and culture and our allegiance to Him compels us to make those who matter to Him matter most to us.”

“The Gospel in the Aftermath of Dallas, Baton Rouge, and Falcon Heights”

By John Stonestreet

BreakPoint Daily

July 11, 2016

“Helping Students Process the Tragedies of Last Week”

By Tim Elmore

Growing Leaders: On Leading the Next Generation

July 12, 2016

Helping Students Process the Tragedies of Last Week

“The Solution to America’s Race Problem Isn’t Written in Black and White”

By Benjamin Watson (under the byline of Jason Reid)


July 11, 2016

“We Must Pray”
By Benjamin Watson
July 12, 2016

“Pray for the families of the victims and the perpetrators.
Pray for our communities and cities, that tensions will cease.
Pray for the people we think are at fault and the ones we know are at fault.
Pray for direction—that God would specifically guide you into action.
Pray for wisdom for those who make decisions and laws.
Pray for the safety of law enforcement officers and the eradication of the lawlessness they are commissioned to fight.
Pray that we all will be keenly aware of our thoughts and reactions and will be bold enough to apologize when we should.
Pray for the courage to stand up against racism wherever it’s found—and especially when it is expressed by friends and family.
Pray for courage to call wrong wrong and right right.
Pray for God’s healing hand on America.”

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD” (Psalm 31:24, NIV).”

Excerpt From: Benjamin Watson & Ken Petersen. “Under Our Skin.” Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2015-11-17. iBooks.


I hope these pieces help.

Let’s keep the dialogue open.  Let’s not just be peace-keepers.  Let’s be peace-makers, as Jesus commanded.

My colleague Tommy Blackmon said it best today, in quoting Stephen Covey, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.”  Tommy concluded, “Sometimes we have to dwell for a long time in the first part of that statement.

So true.

“The Shield of Faith”

Cheryl and I both agree that Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church Senior Pastor Carl Robbins is one excellent preacher.  He inspired us again on Sunday, July 10, 2016.  If you would like to read my summary of that sermon, “The Shield of Faith,” please read on. . .

“The Shield of Faith”

By Carl Robbins, Lead Pastor

Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Summary of Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal, Southside Christian School, Simpsonville, South Carolina

Text:  Ephesians 6:10-20

The Christian life is warfare.

Satan would like nothing better than to drag your eternal soul all of the way to hell.

Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, and David all fought in spiritual warfare for the Lord.

We, too, are to put steel in our spines to fight sin, the flesh, and the enemy.

In battle, we are to put on the whole armor of God.

Today, we look at the Shield of Faith.

Arrows are deadly enough.  Flaming arrows inflicted serious damage.

Our warfare is against persons — demons who do the bidding of the wicked one.  Our battle is against spiritual hosts of wicked standing.  Satan wants us to engage in spiritual and cosmic treason.

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!

Evil, evil, evil is Satan.

What are the fiery darts of our enemy?  Lust, envy, covetousness, immorality, anger, hatred, grudges, pride, unbelief, doubt, work/fear/anxiety.

What is the believer to do?

We are to raise the Shield of Faith!

The Roman soldier carried a shield which was a big as a door.  Soldiers soaked their shields in water to protect against the fiery darts.  Shoulder-to-shoulder, shield-to-shield, the Roman soldiers were protected from their enemies.

The Shield of Faith Paul is referencing protects the mind, will, and emotions of the believer in Christ.

Faith is central to the church.  Faith is mentioned over 240 times in the New Testament.  It is through faith we are saved, by grace, lest we would boast.

But our faith must be on the proper object — Jesus!  Faith is only as good as its object.  Only Jesus saves.  There is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved.

Faith is saving faith and LIVING faith.  When we are saved, we ACT in faith.  We are to embrace and live-out the promises of God.  The promises are blessings given and evils withheld as a result of our obedience.  We can believe these promises!

We are to walk in faith, not by sight.  We are to hold up the Shield of Faith.  Instead of fretting, we hold up the Shield!  We are to claim the promises of God!  We must raise the Shield of Faith!  We must cling to the Word of God.  The promise of Ephesians 6:16 is that we WILL quench ALL of the fiery darts of the enemy!  Faith gets the victory!

What are the applications of Ephesians 6:16?

We must believe in Jesus!  Unbelief is wicked and foolish. Unbelief impeaches God’s abilities and faithfulness and promises.  We are to believe on the name of Jesus, and we will be saved.

We are to take up the Shield of Faith.

We are to train for battle! We are to be prepared!  We are to know the Word of God, or our shields are made of carpet.  We are to train for specific attack.

We are to pray for more of the Word and pray for more faith.

We are to be in tight step with other believers — shoulder-to-shoulder, shield-to-shield.

We must HEAR the Word, BELIEVE the Word, and ACT on the promises of God.

“Training a Child in the Way He Should G0”

Cheryl and I were fortunate enough to experience Week 2 of Pastor Scotty Anderson’s 3-week “Instilling a Sense of Vocation” j-term series at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church on Sunday, July 10, 2016.  If you would like to read my summary of his message, “Training a Child in the Way He Should Go,” please read on. . . .

“Training a Child in the Way He Should Go”

By Pastor Scotty Anderson

Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Sunday July 10, 2016

Summary by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Principal, Southside Christian School, Simpsonville, South Carolina

Text:  “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  (Proverbs 22:6, English Standard Version)

We are to, as parents, set apart the child to God and for God’s work.

The root of the word, “vocation,” is “calling.”  As parents, we should encourage our children to consider their vocational calling for the Lord.  The word, “career,” comes from a word which means “a wheeled vehicle,” and from which the word “careening” also comes.

A career is for a specific time, according to providence.  Calling is for a lifetime.

What is vocation from a Reformed perspective?  Initially, vocation — or calling — was seen only from an ecclesiastical perspective for those who were paid ministers; the vocational ministers were thought to be at a higher level of calling than were the Christian “non-ministers.”

Martin Luther challenged this mindset.  Non-ministers had callings as well, Luther indicated; he called them “consecrated priests and bishops.”  God wants all of us to work for His honor and glory, carrying the Gospel impact to all work places.  Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper is noted for saying, “There is not one square inch in all of creation over which Christ does not say, ‘This is mine!'”

I would like to explore 5 different aspects of Christian vocational calling.

#1.  Calling As a Christian

All Christians have a calling to vocation to serve the Lord.  We know the Lord.  We practice spiritual disciplines.  We pray for our children.  We call them to repentance and faith.

#2.  Calling As a Family Member

The family is the first “government.”  Eventually, our children leave and cleave to new families.  Family is all about relationship.  Wives submit to their husbands.  Husbands love their wives.  Parents are not to intentionally provoke their children to anger.  Healthy families bond in their calling.

#3.  Calling As a Church Member

In Ephesians 4, Paul exhorts the church body to be one AS THE CHURCH.  We have a vocation as the church.  There are no “lone ranger” Christians.  We should be encouraging each other in the body of Christ.  We must commit to the church, Jesus’ chosen instrument for redemption.

#4.  Calling As a Community Member

Right now, the community is a mess, and we could be tempted to retreat from the culture, but we must not do so.  We are called to be in the world.  Paul was writing and ministering during a time when the Roman government was oppressive.  As Christians and community members, we are called to do good.

#5.  Calling As a Christian Worker

Vocation was God’s idea from the beginning.  Work before the fall was unconditionally noble.  Everything was doing to God’s honor and glory, without toil.  Today, we are to represent Christ in the work place. We are also not to be “freeloaders.”  We are to work hard and to work well.  We are to do everything as unto the Lord, including work.  Children will go to a work world which includes people who are not believers in Christ. Our children will need to learn how to be submissive under the authority of others, including bosses who are difficult.

Parents should place continual emphasis on vocation.  Our children need to understand that they must work first before seeking entertainment.  Our children should have self-awareness of their place in Christ and spiritual gifts.  And parents should emphasize the transition from dependence to independence for children (leaving and cleaving).

We are not defined by the work we do.  Our identities are, first and foremost, as Christians representing Christ.