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.
Today’s children and maybe adults are experiencing an identity crisis to a level that previous generations did not have to face. All humanity has struggled with an identity crisis beginning with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Satan tempted Eve with the thought that she could be something different than what she was. Genesis 3:4-5 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. Satan tempted Eve to think that she could be like God and convinced her that was a good thing. The reality is God did not create us to be Him but to worship and glorify Him.
Today our world, especially social media, tells our children and us that they need to be like ____________, you fill in the blank. So we lose the identity that God uniquely created us to be in a trade for what the culture wants us to be. God has given each of us who believe in Him a solid foundation for our identity. One that does not change with fashions, fads, or any external pressures.
Listed below is a selection of just a few of the terms given to our identity in Christ as image-bearers. These can have their own narrative built around them, but I won’t take that time in this article. I hope you will sit with your children and help them understand their identity is already firmly founded in the way God created them.
“Blessed of the father,” “fellow-heirs,” “dear children,” “redeemed of the lord,” “people near unto
God,” “lights of the world,” “heirs of salvation,” “salt of the earth,” “obedient children,” “the just,”
“heirs of the grace of life,” “children of the living God,” “servants of righteousness,” “joint-heirs with Christ,” “faithful of the land,” “kingdom of priests,” “chosen generation,” “witnesses for God,” “royal priesthood,” “holy priesthood,” “trees of righteousness,” “vessels of mercy,” “living stones,” “beloved of God,” “children of the highest,” “heirs of the kingdom,” and “chosen vessels.”
I don’t know what this list does for you, but it is reassuring and encouraging for me.
This past Sunday night, my son, who lives in Atlanta, was going to help his girlfriend move to Warsaw, Indiana, where she will be starting a new job next week. No big deal, it's just a U-Haul truck followed by she and her brother in her car. But as you might recall, Sunday night was the start of our big snowstorm. So contemplating the drive, it had many possibilities for turbulence or even potential disaster. When faced with the decision, do we go or do we wait until later in the week to go, they decided to forge ahead.
Leaving Sunday night around 11:30 PM driving through the night trying to beat the storm to Indiana, they encountered a few problems. Malfunctioning windshield wipers, a headlight going out, heavy fog, snow-covered roads, and a 12+ Hour Drive. The trip would test their capacity or ability to drive a box truck in windy, snowy conditions. It was going to try their persistence and resilience when faced with a challenging trip.
A simple story, but it is a microcosm of what we have all faced over the last 12 months. The turbulence from the storm that we've gone through has been multifaceted and complex. The storm that my son faced didn't have to defeat him. Neither does the turbulence that we have faced over the last 12 months.
It's been so encouraging to watch our students go through the storm. At various times, most of them have shown some of the wear and tear from the storm in their countenance and in their spirit. Still, they've never quit. They've learned to be adaptable, persistent, resilient, and each day they are learning about the capacity that God built into them. Students and parents, you are designed to be tougher than you think. You are built for big things. God is allowing these trials and storms to help us see the potential and capacity that we have when we trust in him and move forward by faith.
Oh, and by the way, they made it to Warsaw safe and sound by mid-afternoon on Monday, and there were no U-Haul trucks damaged in the relocation efforts.
Do you ever feel that your child thinks you don't love them? I am sure this happens regularly.
I have been in Christian education for over 30 years now. In that time, I have seen a significant shift in how parents interact with their kids. Many factors challenge parents today, ranging from single-parent family structures to overcommitted families who don't have adequate time for their kids. But maybe one of the most challenging things is a displaced focus on kids. As a young father, I remember reading about Abraham in the Old Testament and praying that God would look on me in the same way. Genesis 18:19 (NIV) 19 "For I have chosen him so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him." This passage helped me focus on my role as the father in the home. My part was active or directive, not passive.
Frequently parents find themselves in a position where they do not direct their children but often discover themselves servants of their children. John Piper posted a Tweet that brought some critical feedback based on today's parenting culture. John Piper – "You must bear the burden of responsibility that your children BE loved, but you dare not bear the burden of guaranteeing that they FEEL loved. In that case, you would replace God's objective command with their subjective response and make a human the arbiter of obligation." His statement can seem harsh, but you can see that parents have a responsibility to love their children when you read it carefully. Piper was trying to communicate that just like we are not the ones to judge whether God loves us based on our circumstances, children are not the ones to judge whether their parents love them based on their circumstances. Unfortunately, in today's hyper-social media culture, your child is trained to measure your love based on the criteria set by their peers, social media, and pop culture.
If you love your child following Biblical guidelines, they will feel loved. I can't imagine being held responsible by my child to an everchanging, ego-centric, pop-cultural criteria for love. Let's parent biblically, and our children will be loved!
Proverbs 1:8-9 ESV Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.
Ephesians 6:4 ESV Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Psalm 127:3-5 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
Proverbs 22:6 ESV Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.