Posts in Principal's Desk
5 Ways to Build Your Parenting Team

Human beings are wired for connection. From the Creator’s own commentary of his crowning handiwork in Genesis, “It is not good for man to be alone,” to Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, “Christ makes us one body and individuals who are connected to each other,” we are clearly designed to thrive in community. While some mavericks among us may chafe at the phrase, “It takes a village,” seldom is our need for supportive relationships more crucial than in the raising, and releasing, of our children.

Recent studies show that it takes meaningful relationships with 6-8 adults for a young believer to transition successfully through high school and college with an intact faith. How and where do parents find these influential people to mentor and model a believing lifestyle for their child?

PRAY.

It would not be wise to suppose that you and your spouse are all that your children need as they mature into adulthood. Ask that the Lord of the Harvest bring laborers to partner with you in cultivating the soil of your student’s heart with the ultimate goal of harvesting a fruitful life.

RECRUIT.

Take a good look at people closest to you first. Look for those who are already organically involved with/invested in your child--family members; aunts, uncles, older cousins. Then broaden your scope to include those in their wider circle; teachers, coaches, and members of your church and community. Don’t overlook people you think might be too old or too busy. Take note of men and women of character and integrity who could nurture these same qualities in your student. Consider adults who might share a hobby with your child as a natural entry point or someone whose career your student is interested in pursuing.

ENGAGE.

Everyone understands the energy it takes to parent young children, but we tend to underestimate the mental energy it takes to manage teenagers. Leave margins in your own schedule so you can be available when your son or daughter wants to talk.

I am not a “night owl” but my five teenagers were notorious for wanting to talk as I was on my way to bed. I needed to mentally make room for these untimely interactions. Also, be ready to take full advantage of random errands and car time for meaningful discussions that seem to drop out of nowhere. Such are often divine appointments--don’t miss them. This is not a stage of life to overcommit to outside pursuits and suppose that your teen is able to run on auto-pilot, or that your job is pretty much over.

Your son or daughter still desperately needs your attention, involvement, and presence regardless of what they may project to the contrary. This is a time to sharpen your listening skills and learn to ask good questions, to share your own story, including your honest struggles regarding the Christian faith. Hillcrest uses Cultivate as a resource for ideas in conversation starters. Check out their website: http://thecultivateproject.com

BECOME.

We were going through an intense time with our oldest child, a high school sophomore, a number of years ago. I was meeting with a pastoral friend of ours who sat, patiently listening, while I expounded my woes with much weeping and gnashing of teeth. When I had exhausted myself in despair, he leaned forward and looked straight into my weary eyes and smiled, “I cannot wait to see what God will do...in Dawn.” I was stunned. Do in Dawn?! Had he not been listening? I was not the problem or the work in progress here...or was I?

There is nothing like having a questioning mind in the house to make you examine your own heart and goals in life. What are some areas in which God may be calling you to personal growth? How much does your student see you valuing the input of others in this process?  

Humility acknowledges the need for outside perspective, yet it is hard to model something you don’t fully embrace. Acknowledge your own need of instruction and the wisdom of others. Let your children see your respect for those who have impacted your life and share those valuable contributions. Who have been people of influence in your walk with the Lord? What character qualities did they have in common?

 

INCLUDE.

This past weekend I was able to spend time with my grown, daughter who lives with her husband three hours away. We were goofing around and took a selfie for me to post on Facebook. I asked her, “Do you know why I look so great in this picture?” She laughed at my unabashed assessment of my appearance. I answered my own question. “Because I am so happy. I’m with you and that makes me happy.” Our children need to hear messages like this. It is important for each of us to know that we belong to something bigger--that we are individually essential to the benefit of the whole. 

That is why you are no longer foreigners and outsiders but citizens together with God’s people and members of God’s family. You are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone. In him all the parts of the building fit together and grow into a holy temple in the Lord. Through him you, also, are being built in the Spirit together with others into a place where God lives.
— Ephesians 2:19-22

Demonstrate through your words and example the importance of being connected with other Christians. Encourage your pending graduate to seek and pursue relationships that challenge them to be the person God has called them to be. As they make plans to leave home, join them in visiting prospective churches near their new neighborhoods and discuss what sort of fellowship they’d like to connect with and serve.

As a parent of adult children, nothing brings me more joy than seeing my offspring involved in ministry; mentoring teens, leading small groups of young couples, teaching Sunday school, and volunteering in the church nursery. Together with our forebears, our children, and later our children’s children, we are living stones and we are called to apprentice the next generation for their place in this holy habitation known as The Church--God’s grand design from the beginning of time.

1 Key Ingredient in Building Character in Students

The Bible gives parents 3 fundamental pillars in shaping children to develop spiritually. Parents are implored to facilitate understanding, develop character, and advance children's relationship with God. 

The task of building character is paramount for most parents. We have this drive of pride as we bring our students to church, watch them with friends, and hear feedback from our friends. We want to hear that our child is obedient, looks out for the weak, has convictions of right and wrong, chooses good over evil, etc. We focus on these actions, thinking our child's character is evident because the actions are right. The Bible has a better approach.

The Bible is full of stories of people who had right actions. Noah built an ark, Abraham left Sodom, Esther defended her people, Joseph stayed with Mary, Timothy built the church. But the Bible is also full of people who didn't have right actions. Noah got drunk, Abraham lied to Pharaoh, Joseph doubted the Angel, Timothy wanted to quit. The Bible's view of character seems to center more on people knowing who they are and to whom they belong rather than doing the right thing. Noah walked with God, Abraham listened to God, Joseph heard God's plan, Timothy was discipled to see God's work. These people received understanding that doing the right thing was more an act of living a reflection of their God than a work towards holiness.

Ultimately, as parents seek to build a godly and biblically-based character in their students they need to surround their family with Biblical teaching. Secular character, explaining good works and Judeo-Christian ethics without God, highlights things like respect, hard-work and honesty as pillars of society. A Biblically-based perspective shows those outward actions as the result of a right view of God and man. A right view of God leads to right character. We have respect for others because they are made in the image of God. We have a sense of hard-work because it is in God's character to make beautiful things and declare them good. We are honest because that trait is woven throughout the character of God, the character we are made in the image of.

Therefore, the key ingredient in building character is understanding God. This is a fundamental practice in scripture. God instructs the nation of Israel to remember their God. They told stories to children, built headbands to place scripture in, wove long tassels on their clothes. They spoke about the work of God as they woke-up in the morning, walked along the road, and lay down in the evening. The entire existence of their nation was a practice in Christian education. They lived a life reflecting the design of God. They learned more of God's character daily as they participated in life and studied God's commands. They were people going, acting out their God-given tasks, having a continual reminder of Whose they were, they impacted the world and lived lives of Godly character. 

Use the key ingredient in your daily life. Talk to your kids about decisions you see athletes, politicians, and other role models make. Ask if their actions have character, or if they are found lacking. Then drive the conversation to the point of what character is and where we get the definition. Using this ingredient of understanding will create confidence in your student and will build a better view of their place in your family and God's world.

3 Tips to Keep Your Student From Shipwrecking Their Faith

The largest growing religious affiliation in this generation are the "Nones." This group doesn't identify with any faith. Many in this group see Christians, and those who follow Jesus, as hypocrites or disingenuous. Here are 3 quick tips that can help nurture your students' faith to survive doubt as they grow and mature.

Open the door for the conversation. Parents sometimes feel like answers should be on the tip of their tongue. We have this weird drive to always be one step ahead of our kids. When big questions in faith come-up, we can feel paralyzed. Sometimes an honest and genuine response is more powerful in really addressing the issue, which might simply be that they want to have a conversation with you. Here are a few quick questions to drive the conversation:

  • That's a tough question, and I don't want to brush it off with a simple answer. Can we think about that a little bit here? Maybe we should think of some people who would have a good answer and email or Facebook them the question.
  • Here's what I think, but this isn't an issue I would take a bullet over.
  • I've spent a lot of time thinking about that myself. Can I tell you some of my initial thoughts and why I came to that conclusion?

Avoid over-simplistic answers or suggestions. Ambiguities and complexities are reality for a lot of issues, so be humble in what you don't understand and can't explain. Here are a few conversation starters to invite and lead a student to work out nuances in their doubts:

  • "Let's talk about what we can and can't know."
  • "what is your basis for believing something is real (use an example, like gravity)."

This question can drive you into James Sire's four reasons for belief. He says we believe things for sociological reasons (parents, friends, society, culture), psychological reasons (comfort, peace of mind, meaning, purpose, hope, identity), religious reasons (scripture, pastor/priest, guru, rabbi, church), or philosophical reasons (consistency, coherence, completeness (best explanation of all the evidence). It is vital for students to build a framework for belief. Building a framework with them helps guide convictions, something that ultimately affects their daily decisions. A quick resource on this can be found here: http://www.millersvillebiblechurch.org/_files/live/Truth%20&%20Tactics.pdf

Build a road to resolution. The Millennial generation (those born between 1982-2004) have a high need to know. Be willing to talk about almost anything they bring up. Sometimes the conversations are hard to hear. Things that you might like about church, faith, or your community could be driving your student away from practicing their faith. It is important for students to be heard, but also to see a road to resolving their frustration. Addressing their roadblock can help them understand how to continue their path of spiritual growth, and can embolden them to live a convicted faith. Here are a few questions to help with this:

  • What are some of your biggest questions about this part of your faith? What are some ways you could potentially find answers?
  • What do you think are some of the reasons for your skepticism? Which are legitimate? Which are unfair?
  • Where do you see yourself fitting in the body of Christ? What is your role? What might the body lack if you aren't participating? What areas do you want to serve in?
  • Have you been personally hurt or let down by the church? How?
  • Let's list 25 things the church/faith in Jesus does well. What are 25 things our church does well? Which things are you participating in?

Practicing these 3 simple tips is one step in establishing a solid mentor-relationship with your teen. Showing them you are interested and willing to walk down the path is important. Using questions to build the conversation shows you're willing to talk about real issues. This gives students confidence in your relationship with them, and also your relationship with Jesus. They will follow your lead, but need to know you're walking with them.

For more tips on building conversation with your student and family, read Cultivate by Jeff Myers.

 

All Truth is God's

Is it a debate over evidence? Or philosophy? Dr. Frank Turek explains how science really doesn't say anything, scientists do. For more information, DVDs and more, visit crossexamined.org

There is controversy surrounding the start of the universe. Stories in Christian publications stand next to explanations from secular outlets, looking to explain the cause of the universe. As they address these topics, one of the first things I do is analyze their authority of truth. It reveals a great deal, and leads to different conclusions.

All schools teach the truth of general revelation to some extent. Frankly, the world can't avoid the order of creation. The intricacy of the universe causes the mind to wander to the incredible structure of the universe. This awe leads many deeper into the complex web of science, where they undoubtedly encounter mathematics, that draws mankind to communicate history using language and the arts. So, there you have the entire span of school, where students are left studying the world and communicating it in various form

So private and public schools all study the same world, which is intricately designed. No one is really debating that fact. However, there is debate regarding the foundation on which the study is built. Is science the ultimate source from which we garner truth, or is there something that girds science so we can test, deduce, and hypothesize about the world.

At Hillcrest we believe the answer of God needs to be addressed on a daily basis as students study the world. Without answering the question of God students are left to attribute god-like qualities in order, design, and functionality to random chance processes or some type of alien-like intervention that started life. 

Based on reason, it is more logical that the universe was created by an omnipotent being who ordered, intervened, and sustains the galaxies. Without something holding everything together nothing could exist. Either we are left worshipping in awe the accidents of modern science, or we are left drawing closer to a personal God who created the universe as proof of his existence. All of the truth bound-up in the universe points to something, and it is more logically accurate that that something is a someone from whom all truth finds its meaning.

A Blast From the Past...Prayer In School

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." These were the first words to flow from Bill Anders' mouth on the Apollo 8 mission December 24, 1968. The most watched television broadcast at that time, the Apollo 8 mission paused to read the opening verses of the Bible as they announced, "We are now approaching lunar sunrise and, for all of the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send you."

This broadcast caused Madalyn Murray, an athiest activist who was denied asylum in communist Russia, to file a lawsuit against the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), trying to force the government to ban public prayer in outer space. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the case, stating they didn't have jurisdiction beyond the troposphere. However, Murray's work was already accomplished when she successfully banned prayer in public schools in 1964, one year after she successfully banned Bible reading through a Supreme Court decision.

The humanistic earthquake felt in the banning of prayer and Bible-reading was the plot of an education reformer named John Dewey. Bearing the title, The Father of Progressive Education, Dewey is most famous to many people for his library organization system The Dewey Decimal System. A strong proponent for education reform, Dewey praised the Soviet Bolsheviks by stating, "marvelous development of progressive educational ideas and practices...(counteracting) the influence of home and church". three years after receiving a lifetime membership in the NEA (National Education Association), Dewey was awarded the honor of president for his role in Character Education, in which he critiques the church for employing "outworn dogmas of the past" and states "relativity must replace absolutism in the realm of morals...the citizen of the future must be a citizen of the world."

Dewey's ideas sound like the trumpeting of today's college and universitie student. Charles Potter, a man mentored by Dewey, recognized the battle in education between the church and the state. Potter notes in Humanism: A New Religion,

"Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism, and every American school is a school of humanism. What can a theistic Sunday school's meeting for an hour once a week and teaching only a fraction of the children do to stem the tide of the five-day program of humanistic teaching?" 

The statistics show that Potter and Dewey are right, the battle for the mind of America is fought in America's education system. Statistics show between 60-80% of church going students will turn their back on Christ in the first 3 years of their college experience. 

This week we celebrate a time-honored tradition at Hillcrest called Prayer Day. Being founded in the 1930's, Hillcrest witnessed a changing climate in education and sought to provide a haven for students to be built-up in their faith and wrestle with big issues through Godly mentoring. This foundational premise has been retained and honored as we paused this week to focus on the spiritual discipline of prayer. This blast from the past, paused contemplation on the Creator, is what makes the Hillcrest experience unique, and gives families so much more than a diploma.