A year that began with a global pandemic and racial unrest did not catch God by surprise. This year has been full of challenges for all but not equally for all. Some have experienced loss as a result of COVID. Some have endured racial tensions. Many have experienced anxiety in new and uncomfortable ways. God in his sovereignty knows our plight and is ever-present in our time of need. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalms 46:1).
This week marks the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd. His death, along with other African-Americans, sparked a level of racial unrest not seen since Martin Luther King's time. For COVID and racial unrest, TPCS made a significant effort to be prepared and manage through these times.
During the summer of 2020 a group of our families who have children of color, approached the administration, and asked how we are equipping our staff and students on the topic of social equity. We quickly formed a Cultural Intelligence task force made up of parents, administration, and board members. TPCS engaged the services of a consulting group called Mosaix out of Little Rock, Arkansas. In the fall, Mosaix took all of our faculty and staff through a Cultural Quotient assessment. This assessment concluded with a six-hour professional development training on November 30. Mosaix led us through the results of our evaluation and where we as a faculty and staff can grow. We discussed the multiple aspects of cultural intelligence and how responding without cultural sensitivity diminishes our ability to carry out our mission.
The TPCS Board of Directors also completed the assessment and professional development this spring and has agreed to continue funding these efforts for school employees and our Cultural Intelligence task force which will complete the training later this summer. The board continues its efforts to expand its cultural intelligence by joining our leadership team and school families in reading Ben Watson's book Under our Skin, a book about getting real about race relations. If you are interested in joining the book reading, please reach out to Melissa Underwood at email@example.com
These are challenging times. When faced with challenges, I always turn to the Scriptures. Psalm 133:1 says 1 How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity! We are called to unity amongst believers because of our oneness in Christ. Galatians 3:28 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. So, as we go our separate ways this summer, let's remember our unity and oneness in Christ.
We pray for safety, rest, revitalization, and unification this summer for all our TPCS family. We love you and look forward to coming back together in August to start a new year unified around our efforts to provide an excellent Kingdom education for our students.
Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers. Proverbs 17:6 KJV
Children are a gift from God, and our grandchildren, nieces, and nephews are too. When little ones join our family by birth or adoption, we know that He formed them and knows each one of them personally (Psalms 139: 13-16) and that He loves them so much that He has angels assigned especially to them (Matthew 18:10).
Graduation is a time to celebrate those children. This year we will be honoring 26 seniors on Saturday, May 29th at 4:00 pm. It is an honor to partner with parents in raising a new generation of young people who will impact the world for Christ. This year's senior class has many things to celebrate. We have nine graduating with high honors – 3.75 or higher GPA, four with honors - 3.25-3.74 GPA, eight Honor Society members, 26 who played sports, and two involved in performing arts. These seniors have contributed much to TPCS over their high school careers, and I believe that they will do the same in the communities when they leave here.
So now it is time to celebrate their graduation with their parents, siblings, grandparents, relatives, faculty, and friends. Ecclesiastes 3:4 (ESV) tells us that there is A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; So let's laugh, cry, dance, and pray with our seniors and their parents as they launch them into this next stage of their lives.
Congratulations seniors, we love you and pray for God's blessing in your lives!!!
When growing up in the church, I recall singing the song “Count Your Many Blessings.” As a young boy, the truth of the lyrics did not have a significant impact. But like so many things like this in our youth we don’t realize how true those words can be until we become an adult. For all of us, the last fifteen months have been hard. Hard emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. As a follower of Christ, I know that He works the greatest in our lives in the crucible of life. But it is still hard.
While recognizing how hard it has been, I am drawn back to the words of this song.
I want to mention just a few of the blessings that God gave TPCS during this season.
- Held a special outdoor graduation for the class of 2020, allowing them to march across a stage to receive their diplomas
- Launched and ran a successful capital campaign ($1.6 million raised) for a new Jr High building
- Broke ground and built a new Jr High building in eight months
- Completed ACSI accreditation and hosted an evaluation team to receive full accreditation for the next five years
- Continued to offer a robust academic program during the pandemic
- Continued athletics and fine arts under challenging conditions
- Preformed a spring musical and spring concert
- Granted an astonishing gift of $1.5 million over five years towards the buildout and execution of our vision for academic rigor.
- Held a successful Prom for our high school
- We get to proclaim Jesus Christ and His saving grace freely within our school
- We get to praise and worship Christ in our chapels and programs
- We have great facilities
- We have incredible teachers and staff who have persevered through this challenging season
It is easy to get focused on the challenges that are coming our way. I encourage you to take a step back and count your many blessings and see what God has done for you over these last fifteen months. Praise be to God for His generous gifts!
Today I received tragic news about two of our school families. One family is facing a serious cancer diagnosis, and one has tragically lost a family member. Hardship is all around us daily. Along with this news, many of you may have seen news reports of two teens killed on the way to their prom.
So how do we manage this information in light of our challenging circumstances?
What is to be learned from these tragic and challenging events? As I received my cancer diagnosis and hearing these sad stories, I am reminded that we are not guaranteed tomorrow. If honest with ourselves, most of us would have to admit that we assume that tomorrow will come. We are not mindful of our mortality. James 4:14 says Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. So when we look at each day that God gives, let's remember a couple of things.
First, let's empathize with our TPCS family members. Galatians 6:2 tells us to, Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Second, let's redeem the time we have and use it wisely. Ephesians 5:15-17 says, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Let's make the things that matter to God the priority in our lives. Let's live with our neighbor in a way that God will be glorified.
Third, let's count our blessings. God's mercies are new every day that He gives us to live. While my heart goes out to those struggling with tragedies and challenges in their lives, we live in an amazing time. We recognize that modern medicine cannot cure all illnesses, but we are surrounded by vaccines, anesthesia, medical advancements, technology, and many life comforts. At TPCS, we get to proclaim Christ in our education; we have dedicated teachers and excellent facilities. We are surrounded by a school community that loves and cares for others within our school.
So let's uphold our brothers and sisters in Christ with our prayers as they walk through the challenges that life brings them. Please pray for the Justice family in the tragic loss of a family member. Please pray for one of our kindergarten teachers, Carla Cramer, who received heartbreaking news about her husband’s cancer prognosis. TPCS has the opportunity to wrap its arms around those within our school family that are experiencing loss and pray for God's grace and strength in their lives. The second part of James 5:16 says 16 The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. A former pastor of mine would say, "Pray for me. I'll pray for you." So let's pray fervently for our TPCS family members.
Next week is our annual Teacher Appreciation Week. Each year there are many reasons to celebrate our faculty and staff. This year there is a greater reason to celebrate our employees. We have all struggled through COVID and the impact it has had on our lives.
I have watched our teachers do an incredible job of teaching and loving your kids through this time with remarkable resilience and perseverance. I have seen teachers who are uncomfortable with technology work with the necessary tools to meet the needs of our students who are learning from home. I have watched as teachers have adapted how they teach to accommodate students in the room and those who are online. There has been a substantial increase in the workload for our teachers as their classes have moved from in-person to virtual and back to in-person. I have watched teachers remain in the classroom, risking exposure to contact with kids and adults who were COVID+. I have watched teachers teach from home as COVID made its way through their families.
To say the least, I am very proud of our faculty and staff for the work they have done this year to provide your child with an exceptional education. I am proud of all the support staff as they have carried an increased burden placed on them by COVID mandates. Each of our employees is to be commended for the work and effort that this year has demanded of them.
Romans 13:7 reminds us to give honor where honor is due. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. So let’s make sure that during Teacher Appreciation Week, we recognize our teachers and staff for the incredible work they have done this year. I love our team.
In my daily devotions, I found myself in the book of Job today. I have read the book of Job several times over my years as a believer. Each time I read it, I am impressed and challenged to be full of joy, faith, and commitment to God. In chapter two, Job finds himself in an argument with his wife. By this time, Job had lost all his animals, crops, and even his children. Satan also struck Job with “loathsome sores.” Job’s wife tells him he should “curse God and die.” Look at Job 2:7-10. 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. 9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this, Job did not sin with his lips.
Our TPCS community has seen and experienced both good times and bad times during this pandemic. It is impressive how Job responded to the bad things that God allowed Satan to do to Job. As you read the rest of the book of Job, you will see that he maintains his integrity toward God and does not lose his faith. In the end, God pours out great blessings on Job. God restores both his family and his wealth because of Job’s faithfulness during trials.
As we look at the many things God has done at TPCS this year, we see countless blessings that God has brought our way. I know that our students, teachers, and staff are exhausted and weary of the impact of COVID. In our upper school faculty devotions on Wednesday, one of our faculty challenged us to find three things where we can find joy in our relationship with Christ. This activity helps us to keep focused on the many blessings God gives us during our trials.
While going through his trials, Job did not have the support of his family or friends. Yet in Job 13, he declares that his hope is found in the Lord. In chapter 19, he refers to how his redeemer (God) still lives. He restates his faith in God.
It behooves us to continue to remain faithful to God during all of our trials and losses because He will never leave us nor forsake us. Hebrews 13: 5 Let your manner of living be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have. For He hath said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”;
God will be faithful to fulfill His promises. Will you be faithful to trust in God during the hard times?
I want to thank all of our TPCS school community for praying for me during this chemotherapy treatment time for my cancer. The love and compassion expressed by our faculty, staff, and school families have been overwhelming. The Scripture says, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). So, I know that the prayers of this school community were heard by God and answered in mighty ways. I have completed my chemo treatments, and now I am focused on recovery from the chemotherapy effects. I will have a CT scan on May 24th to see how effective the treatments have been and set a plan for my ongoing care.
I’m confident that I’m not the only one going through health struggles or challenges at this time. Many of our school families struggle with their health, marriage relationships, finances, social and emotional health, relationship with your children, and many more issues. I often hear people say during those challenging times that God seems to be far away and distant. And it’s interesting how we measure our relationship with God and how closely we associate our happiness with God‘s blessings. We should measure our happiness with the closeness of our relationship with God.
The reality is that God says in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So he’s with us all the time. I’m also reminded of the passage in James 4:8 where it says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” When we feel alone or abandoned, God promises that if we draw close to him, he’ll draw close to us. I can’t tell you how much that’s been evident in my health challenges over these last several months. God has shown himself faithful to this promise. The more time I spent in prayer and the more time I spent in Bible study, the closer I felt to God. So when you’re feeling distant from God, run toward Christ, and he will be faithful to draw near onto you.
Each day I walk under the banner that reminds us that we walk “By Faith”. It points us to Hebrews 11 and reminds us of all the great men and women of God who were obedient to Him in their walk. These demonstrations of faith describe many situations when worldly knowledge would cause the average person to shrink back, but by faith these great men and women were motivated to move forward and do incredible things.
One example mentioned in this chapter is Noah who in the face of “things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.” Heb 11:7 NIV He trusted God to do what had never been done before (build an ark to survive the flood). Later in the verse, we are told that by his obedience, he became an heir of the righteousness which was a precursor to our position when we put our faith in Christ.
So where are these great men and women today? They can be seen all around us. Forty plus years ago the Elders of Traders Point Christian Church had a vision to provide Christian education to students in the Northwest Indianapolis area. Great men like Howard Brammer and JK Stevens were charged and obediently followed God’s calling to lay a foundation and get the school off the ground. Besides having full time responsibilities at the church, they invested their time and effort as well as involving others. Several church leaders stepped forward to become the school’s first board members and contributed their time, talent and treasure to launch the school.
As the school has grown, the church provided room and resources for this new school to become more independent, and they brought in other community leaders from local churches and the Christian education community. The current leadership of the church continues to provided support and encouragement for our growth including the land that our school facilities are located along with generous financial gifts. As the relationship has matured similar to that of the emancipation of an adult child, the love and support from the church remain while school grows in size and programs.
We have also seen tremendous support from other members of our school family including investment of experience, advice and financial support. Each of you in some way support our school and help us to grow by your decision to bring your children to the school, help students to be successful, volunteer at the school, make additional gifts to the school, or simply support the activities of the school. In all these ways, you are all helping in Training Scholars, Making Disciples, Graduating Leaders.
Yes, we are certainly standing on the shoulders of many great men and women who have come before us or are ministering to the school now. Without their efforts and example, we would not be as successful as we are today. They have also given us a foundation from which to build and enhance the Christian education we offer. Thanks to those who came before us and to those who are laboring today.
As we approach Easter, I have been thinking about what God did for humanity through Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. We know that in the Old Testament times, God chose Abraham and, therefore, the children of Israel as his chosen people. Deuteronomy 14:2, "For you are a holy people to YHWH your God, and God has chosen you to be his treasured people from all the nations that are on the face of the earth."
God did not stop by sharing his love only with the Jews. He also extended it to the Gentiles. The gentiles are any people who are not Jewish. The word stems from the Hebrew term goy, which means a "nation," and was applied to the Hebrews and any other nation. The plural, goyim, "the nations," meant nations of the world that were not Hebrew.
God had a plan for reaching all humanity through Jesus Christ, and it began first with the Jews. Jesus did have a deep conviction of a special mission to the Jewish nation, who were God's treasured possession (Exodus 19:5). He expressed this so strongly that some have concluded that He envisioned no mission beyond Israel. But careful consideration of all His words and actions reveals that it was a question of strategy: As Paul later expressed it, His mission was "to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16; 2:10, KJV).
God's second strategy was to reach the Gentiles. Most of the public ministry of Jesus was conducted in Jewish territory. Under the circumstances, the number of personal contacts with Gentiles recorded in the Gospels is surprising. He healed a Gadarene (Gentile) demoniac (Matthew 8:28-34). Another time, among ten lepers healed, one was a Samaritan (a mixed-race, half-Jew), and Jesus remarked upon the fact that only the foreigner returned to thank Him (Luke 17:12-19).
As we think about this Easter season, God, in his love for humanity, sent Jesus to die for ALL mankind. Jews and Gentiles. That means you and me—no matter what ethnicity or nationality the "you" or "me"are. As we look across our school community, let's see the oneness that God sees and not the diversity that man sees.
While we most often remember Daniel as the one in the lions' den, there was a lot more to his life. Throughout the first six chapters of Daniel, we learn about how to remain faithful in all circumstances. He ran into several trying situations that may have caused him to lose faith or bend from his beliefs, but Daniel stayed strong. How he managed those trials set the stage for how God would look at Daniel in the future.
Daniel 9 (NLT) gives us a unique window into how influential Daniel was. In verse 23, it says that when Daniel started to pray, a command was given. The angel that was speaking to Daniel told him that "you are very precious to God." WOW! Wouldn't that be an inscription for a tombstone? 20 I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, pleading with the Lord my God for Jerusalem, his holy mountain. 21 As I was praying, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He explained to me, "Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. 23 The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision.
So what got Daniel the reputation of being precious to God? It was his faithfulness to God's commands. There are risks, reasons, and rewards for remaining undefiled by the world.
Daniel 1 - Holy people are potent tools in the hands of God. As they stand firm in the face of trials, they bear witness to the reality of their Lord and Savior. They inspire and challenge us to also stand strong for God's truth and righteousness. Daniel lived out this kind of genuine holiness. At the significant risk of losing his life, he chose to remain undefiled by pagan Babylon.
Daniel's Response in the Face of Suffering
Daniel 2 - What do you do when the bottom falls out of your career, your family's security, your health? What do you do when things go horribly wrong? Though we don't like to think about it, we all know the unthinkable can happen. Believers are not insulated from life crises. We live in a fallen world and, like everyone else, may face crippling disappointment and disaster. In Daniel's response to the collapse of his circumstances, we will learn what faithfulness to God looks like when the bottom does fall out.
Genuine faith remains strong amid dire circumstances and uncertain outcomes.
Daniel 3 - Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not operate on the popular notion that faith is about having confidence in expected or desired outcomes. By their words and actions, they proclaim a genuinely biblical faith: trust in a sovereign God regardless of the results.
Looking up to heaven
Daniel 4 - Nebuchadnezzar needed a reminder about the limits of his greatness and glory. God gave him that reminder through a dream that terrified the king, and he again called for Daniel to interpret the vision. The meaning was as simple as it was scary. Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar that he was going to have a great fall. And that he did! When
Nebuchadnezzar ultimately regained his mind and rule, he plainly stated what "the peoples, nations, and men of every language who live in all the world" needed to learn due to his demise.
The judgment of grace
Daniel 5 - Chapter five of Daniel is the flipside of chapter four. In chapter four, Daniel used King Nebuchadnezzar's conversion to affirm that the repentant reap the rewards of grace, however bleak their pasts. In this chapter, Daniel uses King Belshazzar's sacrilege to declare that the rebellious reap the wrath's consequences yet secure their present. Two equally evil kings demonstrated two equally strong messages: God's complete pardon for the humble and God's sure judgment for the proud.
Daniel's Call to Trust and Live
Daniel 6 - Sunday school pictures of a ruddy-faced lad in a lion’s den have a scant resemblance to the actual situation described in this sixth and last chapter of Daniel's life story. Daniel was more than 90 years old when these events unfolded. You might think he had earned a little rest and relaxation for those retirement years, but God still was using the faithful prophet. Age is no barrier to spiritual usefulness. In Daniel's case, glorious gospel truths built through the chapters describing his life in Babylon reach their climax. So let's try to be faithful like Daniel.