• Great Books Are More Like Passports

    “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” ―Madeleine L'Engle

    “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” ―Cicero

    “Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.” 
    ―Groucho Marx, The Essential Groucho: Writings For By And About Groucho Marx

    “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” ―Ernest Hemingway

    A book becomes great when it speaks to us, again and again, generation after generation. Books that tell the struggle of humanity and our need for redemption do more than entertain; they transform. We were made to tell a story, THE story and authors have been telling it in various ways through various methods for thousands of years. Great stories are meant to change us. How can we read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or Jane Eyre without being changed?

    You may be thinking, “I get that these are great books, but I have such a hard time understanding them,” and you are partly right; some great books are challenging to read. Though most classics are more accessible than commonly believed, it does help to have an excellent teacher to open these great works up to their students. They do more than provide an education, they provide a passport and instill a passion for learning by challenging students to think and to discuss perennial issues. 

    It would be far easier to teach students about a book, about an author or about an issue. But an education in the great books is about teaching through them so that authors become friends for life. And this is why great books are more like passports; they lead us in to a new adventure in the journey that we call life.

  • Three Reasons to Build Relationships

    There are three reasons that we should build relationships with others: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Trinity exists in relationship with one another, serving one another, honoring one another. Mankind was created in the likeness of the Trinity, “Let us make mankind in our own image, in our own likeness.” (Genesis 1:26). We are relational beings because we are made to be like a relational Being. When God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” (Genesis 2:18) it was more than marital advice, it was relationship advice. Humans are meant to be connected with other humans. It is not good when we can’t relate to others, it’s not good when we avoid others, and it’s not good when we are alone in the world. Not only has God made us in His image, He has given us a mandate, “Be fruitful and increase in number.” (Genesis 1:28). We were made to build a kingdom, and the building blocks of that Kingdom are relationships. 

    How does one build a relationship?  Here are five things to remember:

    1. God provided for our every need before He even created us. When we relate with others, we must tend to their needs. This is why dinner and a date are such a great combination.
    2. God created boundaries for us to keep us safe. Particularly for children, boundaries build confidence. This is why the toughest teachers are always the kids’ favorite.
    3. God spoke with Adam in the Garden, eye to eye. If the eye is the window to our soul, then eye contact is the start of a relationship. Ever notice what happens when we’re scared, shy or ashamed? We avoid eye contact.
    4. God entered our world, first in the Garden as stated in Genesis, and later in Bethlehem. Like God, we must enter into the world of those we love if we desire to lead them into His Kingdom. This is why our children get so excited when we visit them at school.
    5. “God said,” is the most repeated phrase in the first chapter of Genesis. We are made in the image of the One who speaks things into existence. We must give a voice to those we love because they are made in the image of the Word. We must listen to them and be moved by their words, yes, their many, many words. We must also teach them the power of words by giving them choices, “vanilla or chocolate,” is a pretty easy way to connect with a child.

    Our teachers look to find the connecting points for every child at every opportunity: Needs met? Boundaries clear? Eyes met? Entered in? Voice given? These connection points are written into our relational DNA. When we have conflicts in relationships, when our relationships are strained, we are missing connections. Building relationships takes effort, involves risk, and requires vulnerability. That sounds like three reasons NOT to build them, right? Wrong. The reasons TO build relationships are greater still. The Father sent the Son, the Son who gave His life and sent the Spirit to bring you into relationship with Him. The unity of the Trinity was severed on the cross (the Father turned His face away) so that you could look upon the face of God for eternity.

    “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” --C.S. Lewis, "The Four Loves"

    Dr. Karyn Purvis has written an excellent resource on connecting with children, "The Connected Child," in which she outlines principles of connecting with children who struggle to connect.

  • Begin at the Beginning

    "An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest." Luke 9:46

    The disciples who followed Jesus watched Him feed 5,000 people, foretell His death, be transfigured on the mountain, and heal a boy with an unclean spirit. And after all of this they figured now would be a good time to decide once and for all who the alpha of the group was. Jesus' answer surprised them, "whoever is the least is the greatest." We can't be too hard on the disciples; we are just like them. It's part of being human.

    If we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that the conversation that the disciples had with each other is not too far off with the one we have with ourselves. We are called to love our neighbor; but we are competing with him instead. Seeking to be number one, according to Jesus, is the number one enemy of having good Christian fellowship. Seeking to serve, to love, to honor one another above ourselves now that is the stuff Christian communities are made of!

    As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said in Life Together, "We know who it is that sows this thought in the Christian community. But perhaps we do not bear in mind enough that no Christian community ever comes together without this thought immediately emerging as a seed of discord." As we partner together to cultivate truth, goodness and beauty in our students, let us endeavor to begin at the beginning; loving and serving our neighbor as a fellow image bearer.

RSS Feed