Archive for July 2010

I’m Just A Pilgrim (In Search Of A City)

July 18, 2010

My favorite songs are not among the top 40 hits.  Most of them aren’t recent releases, weren’t written by popular artists, don’t deal with hot topics in our culture  In fact, some people might even think the theme which runs through my favorites is rather disturbing.

I like “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “Sweet By And By,” “Face to Face,” “This World is Not My Home,” “This Ole House,” “What A Day That Will Be,” and “I’ve Got a Mansion.”

Yep, I like to sing songs about going to Heaven.  Now you’re thinking, why did I start by saying that the theme is disturbing?  Actually, it’s only disturbing to those who hear me talk about how I can’t wait to get to Heaven.  I’d be willing to give up everything on earth – family, friends, future (which by the way means a lot because one of my fondest dreams is of raising children with my future spouse) – I repeat, I’d be willing to give up everything and go to Heaven this very minute if that’s what God wanted for me.

I think my preference in songs comes from an understanding that I don’t belong here.  My allegiance is no longer to this world, to the things in it.  I’m a pilgrim headed for another land.  That’s the theme of I Peter, and when you think about it, Peter knew all about being a pilgrim.  He had walked with Christ himself; Christ, who had no home here on earth (Matthew 8:20).  Sure, Christ grew up in a house that he could have called home, I’m sure there were plenty of friends like Lazarus, Mary, and Martha who would have been glad to have Jesus call their house his home, but Christ had a home in another land.  Should I be worried about my home and my stuff and my shortsighted dreams when I have a mansion in glory land that’s been prepared by the Master?

I think of another song, “It Is Well With My Soul.”  We sang it in church only this morning, and the last verse goes like this:

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul!

I sing that verse with my whole heart behind it.  Some could tell you that I have a tendency to be hasty about a lot of things, but this is one area where I think being in haste can be appropriate.  I’m in haste for Christ to call us home.  People in my circles have been saying for years that this generation will see the rapture — that sounds great to me; I’m perfectly willing for it to come today! 

Now while that shouldn’t sound strange to my fellow Christians, I’m afraid it sometimes has.  I know others who feel as I do that have also gotten perplexed reactions to their joy in “death.”  We’re not anxious for death.  We’re happy about life after this world.  Death has little meaning for the Christian.  It’s simply a transition from this life to the next, and since the next life is so much better, it shouldn’t be surprising that we are in haste to make the change. 

I’m not saying that death isn’t sometimes painful, but it shouldn’t be frightening, and it is not lasting.  Death should frighten only those who have never met God and been transformed by the power of his love.  Christ defeated death when he died on the cross at Calvary nearly 2,000 years ago.  If you have trusted in Christ and given your life over to him, then you can say with Paul the Apostle, “O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?” (I Corinthians 15:55, KJV). 

Another thing I’m not saying is that I am in any way, shape, or form planning to take matters into my own hands.  I’m in a hurry to be with Jesus, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to go directly against his will and kill myself.  Suicide is self murder, and besides the amount of grief it causes those left to pick up the pieces, suicide is a way of saying to God, “I know better than you when I should die.”  I sometimes act like I know better than God, but I’m too squeamish to ever go that far!

I have taken hold of the promise of Heaven.  I can’t wait to be with God forever.  You’d think that more Christians would understand the longing to be with God, in his presence.  If we love someone, we want to know all about them, want to imitate them, want to be around them.  My desire for Heaven grows out of this love for God.  I know God is still teaching me many things here on earth (by virtue of the fact that he still has me here), and I understand that I’m not ready to walk those streets of gold, but that can’t stop me from longing for that glorious day when I see my God face to face!

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Ace Wonder: Teaser Trailer

July 16, 2010

The teaser trailer for Ace Wonder is up on their website.  Go check it out!

Farewell, But Not Forever

July 5, 2010

Several weeks ago, I was saddened to learn that Sono Harris, homeschooling pioneer and mother of Alex & Brett Harris (of The Rebelution), Josh Harris (author of several books on courtship and a pastor in Maryland), and five other children, had been diagnosed with cancer. I’ve been watching the story of her illness unfold in the words of her sons here, here, and here.  Today, I learned that she has, in the word of an old friend of mine, “graduated” and gone to be with Jesus. (Read the post here.)  While I extend my sympathy for the loss that I’m sure the Harris family will be feeling for some time, I also rejoice with them in the knowledge that she will be waiting to greet us all when our time on earth is done.

Since we know that “the dead in Christ shall rise first,” (1 Thessalonians 4:16b), we can indeed rejoice that she has left this world of pain. How desolate those who have not this promise must feel when their loved ones pass on.  As a Christian, I can say with assurance that I will see Sono Harris in heaven, though I never met her on earth.  Though her work on earth is finished, her legacy and her influence will live on in her husband, children, grandchildren, and in every other person with whom she came in contact.  I hope that I can someday leave this world as peacefully and joyfully.

God bless you, Harris family, for the work you all do for the Master.

Education: Buckets vs. Fires

July 2, 2010

“Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.”
~~ W. B. Yeats

At my house, we love to have long conversations.  I say conversations.  Sometimes they turn into monologues, but that’s okay, because we’re learning.  I’m talking about when we get my mom going on a topic, whether it’s the economy or parenting or college or relationships.  She engages us by asking for our feedback, our opinions about what she’s saying, but my siblings and I are inclined to sit quiet and soak in what she’s saying.  It may be a few days (or years) before some of us fully digest what she has told us, but this is one of my favorite ways to learn (some of this stuff you can’t learn from a book because Mom hasn’t had time to write it yet!).

In one of our recent conversations, she made mention that the current educational model is one that compares children to a bucket that needs to be filled.  The idea is that if you fill the bucket with enough stuff (knowledge), the child will turn out a good citizen, equipped for life.  As you’ve probably guessed, we aren’t on that bandwagon.

We take the approach that information is not enough.  Computers have a lot of information, but without any directions, that data does no one much good.  You can know who fought at Gettysburg, know where Tanzania is, know the periodic table backwards and forwards, know why the Pythagorean Theorem works, but is that enough to say you’re a good citizen?  Does a child really know what to do with all that when they graduate?  Can they turn that into how to get a job, how to buy a house, how to choose a spouse, how to raise children, how to do your taxes, how to manage your money, how to cook, in short, how to be an adult.

I’m afraid that the bucket theory does not seem to be working.  Look at the drop out rate.  Look at the illiteracy rate.  Look at the number of people with credit card debt, and the amounts they owe.  Learning just because it’s mandatory does not seem to inspire children.  Even kids with parents who insist they get good grades, well, it’s possible to skate through and get good grades without learning anything.  My parents knew kids who did that, and that’s some time ago.  The situation has not been getting better, to judge from people I know and things I’ve heard.

So what’s our educational model?  We like to think of it as lighting a fire.  Mom has always tried to teach us to love learning.  We enjoy school time.  My youngest brothers couldn’t wait to start school, and they didn’t want to stop for their first summer vacation.  We’ve never dreaded starting school in the fall.  We’re usually ready for a short break by Christmas time, but that’s partly because we’ve just been doing double time working on school and our Christmas gifts, which are, with one or two exceptions in recent years, handmade.

Mom has worked hard to light our fires so that we will want to learn.  Learning is not only fun, it’s relevant, and it’s important.  We know why we are learning what we learn, and it’s not just because Mom says so.  She has a good reason for every subject that we learn.  This means that sometimes our curriculum has not been the same.  There are subjects that I covered with one textbook, but which 3G or Sister did a different way. 

If there is something we don’t have an answer to, my siblings and I have learned to go find out.  We are mongooses, to reference Rudyard Kipling’s Ricki-ticki-tavi, who always had to “go and find out.”  We don’t claim to have all the answers, but we do generally know where to locate the answers.   We are self-motivated learners.  We will learn for learning’s sake.

This has stood me in good stead as I do college online.  I have to be very self-motivated to get my school work done on time.  I know my best studying times, and I can manage my time accordingly.  3G has also been able to benefit from being a fire.  He studied several subjects on his own (particularly electrical circuits) which have helped him in his first year of course work.  He has been able to make the transition to college level work without loosing stride.

I like Yeats’ comparison of education to the lighting of a fire.  A bucket sits there inert until something acts on it.  A fire spreads, eating up everything in its path.  In the same way, we should be learning all the time, learning all we can about everything we can, ingesting every piece of information and storing it where we can use it later.  That’s what homeschooling is all about.  That’s my educational model. 

Once a child has a desire to learn, it becomes much easier to teach him.  You can scream and cry all day, but a particularly stubborn child will not write their essay on China.  A teenager who has no drive to know will be more easily discouraged when the going gets tough in Algebra, Geometry, or Trig.  A student motivated solely by grades may do the work, pass the tests, and two months later may not be able to tell you what they (supposedly) learned. 

When you teach a child to love learning, that child can become a lifelong learner.  These are the people who make good citizens.  Lifelong learners go and find out when they don’t have an answer about something, from deciding on a presidential candidate to buying soap.  Lifelong learners are people like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Nathaniel Bowditch, Thomas Edison, and George Washington Carver.  These men helped shape our nation, helped make it safer, helped feed it, and helped inspire it to greater heights.

Our nation today is full of buckets, some full, some empty, many with leaks, almost all inert, just waiting (who knows for what). 

Imagine what America could be like if we were educating a nation of little fires, ready to learn.

Thanks, Mom, for lighting my fire.


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