While doing my student teaching in a seventh-grade science classroom in a public school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I served under an amazing teacher. Because that experience was so long ago, I don’t remember all that happened. One thing that I do remember that has left an indelible mark on me in many areas of my life is a statement she made. She challenged me to “teach from the overflow.” What she meant was that I should know my content so well that I would fill in exciting and interesting aspects of my lesson from that overflow.
I also recognize a clear relationship of this statement to the parenting and spiritual formation that takes place in our homes. If we want our kids to know God then we need to know him so well that it overflows from our actions and words in significant ways. To know Him means we need to be filling our hearts and minds with Scripture and sound doctrine.
I came across this quote from Henry Ward Beecher, "A mother's heart is the child's classroom." This statement gives me pause as I consider how it correlates with “teach from the overflow.” The primary location of our children's education does not take place in our schoolroom. It is not found in the curriculum, or in all the educational activities, sports, and opportunities we provide for them. Rather, they learn the most out of the overflow of our (parents) own hearts.
While the Beecher quote is just that, a quote, the Bible does tell us that what is in our heart is very important. It directs the course of our day and our life. Jesus said that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Proverbs instructs us to “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). John 7:38 says “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
One of the clearest instructions for the duties of parents comes from Deuteronomy 6: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" (vs. 4-9).
The scary follow-up question is, just what are our children learning in the classroom of our homes? What do they learn from challenging social or cultural events?" What lessons do they learn each day about how to love others?" Or what do they learn about how to handle anxiety?" And then there are all those foundational courses about living the Gospel in all of life, depending on Christ for all things," and "living with purpose." What do they learn from us there? These lessons from the overflow will shape how our kids will function as adults. These lessons will be the shadow that our kids will have to deal with for the rest of their lives. What are your kids learning from the overflow of your heart?
One of the foundational pillars of Christian education is the focus of this verse. This verse hails back to a promise God made to Abraham that he would increase their people or the chosen people of God. This promise was fulfilled in the salvation of the Gentiles.
Today we hold onto this promise as a Christian school and I as a father in my home that God will increase his people by the salvation of those in our households and those in our school. Verse 14 alludes to the fact that just as in Egypt he multiplied the people exceedingly, so will he increase the number of his saints on the earth. Not only will the faithful be blessed with converts, but those who are their spiritual children will become fruitful also.
So, when we say in our credo that we want to “Make disciples”, we are claiming this promise in Psalm 115:14 and asking God to flourish or grow the number of believers through our efforts in kingdom education.
As we see the growth in the number of believers at TPCS we know that Satan will want to battle for their minds and hearts. That battle will rage daily, and the attacks will come from many different fronts. So, I encourage you to pray over your kids on a daily basis that God will strengthen them for the attacks of Satan. Maybe that prayer will go something like this:
Heavenly Father, I pray that even though my children are young Christians, they will be alert and of sober mind. I pray that You will give them wisdom so that they will make the right choices. The enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Guide them so that they will fight a good fight and will not be overpowered by the adversary. Let them know that they can overcome spiritual warfare with You, Amen. 1 Peter 5:8
So this Thanksgiving I pray Psalm 115:14 for you and your family: May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children.
George S. Patton Jr. said, "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived." Unfortunately, in our country, we often place the tag of "hero" on those in the entertainment industry, including professional athletes. This week I watched an NFL film on Rocky Bleier. In 1968 Bleier was drafted to be a running back for the Pittsburg Steelers. In December of his rookie season, he was drafted again, but this time to fight in Vietnam and volunteered to go to South Vietnam. While there, he was shot in the leg and took shrapnel from a grenade. His military doctors told him he would never play pro football again. He was sent home to rehab. Bleier had a different plan. In 1970 he returned to the Steelers, and within four years, he was a starting running back for the Steelers, and he went on to help them win four super bowls. Besides being a super bowl winner, Bleier received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. I believe he embodies the spirit of the American soldier.
So, to our men and women in uniform, past, present, and future, God bless you and thank you. To those in uniform serving today and those who have served in the past, we honor you today and every day. Elmer Davis* said, "This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave." To all who have put their lives on the line in defense of this country, thank you. Barack Obama said, "Our nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes that we can never fully repay. But we can honor their sacrifice, and we must." So, we honor you today.
I still proudly sing the national anthem and embrace the words of singer-songwriter Lee Greenwood, "And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free, and I don't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me." We celebrate this day every year in an effort not to forget. Eleanor Roosevelt remarked that freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility." So, let's not forget the responsibility we have to honor those who have served on our behalf. Our freedom came because of their sacrifice. Thank you, veterans!
*Elmer Davis - war reporter born in Aurora, Indiana, in 1890
At a time in our culture when the government and education are waging war for the right to control your children, TPCS is partnered with organizations that are willing to fight back. TPCS is a member of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). ACSI is at the forefront battling with the government for our children on behalf of the parents.
Alliance Defending Freedom represents ACSI in filing a motion to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s reinterpretation of federal law that allows males to compete on female athletic teams. Read the full article related to government requirements allowing boys to play on girls’ sports teams here.
Advice to Teachers and Parents When Guiding Teens on Instagram
by Tim Elmore
Anyone who cares about young people should see the data just revealed on Instagram and its parent company Facebook. Millions of teenagers, mostly girls, have spiraled into symptoms of depression and despair after spending time on these platforms. The data seems to indicate the connection between depression and Instagram is not just a coincidence. One teen, Anastasia Vlasova, developed an eating disorder and visited a therapist who instantly knew what caused it–her time on Instagram. Anastasia, who’s spent about three hours a day on the platform since she was 13 explained, “When I went on Instagram, all I saw were images of chiseled bodies, perfect abs, and women doing 100 burpees in 10 minutes.”
Sadly, she’s not alone. This has become a norm.
Nearly one in three teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse, according to an internal report at Facebook. The Wall Street Journal revealed, “For the past three years, Facebook has been conducting studies into how its photo-sharing app affects its millions of young users. Repeatedly, the company’s researchers found that Instagram is harmful for a sizable percentage of them.”
This reality gets worse. The Wall Street Journal also revealed how Facebook employees flagged drug cartels and human traffickers—but the company’s response was slow and at times non-existent. How could this be? It’s simple. Facebook is a revenue-generating company that has proven to be more about profit than people. Their own report says:
- Our platforms have proven to be harmful to millions of young users.
- Teens blame Instagram for increases in their rates of anxiety and depression.
- The link between suicidal thoughts and our platforms is real in the U.K. and U.S.
We Must Know What Teens Are Experiencing
Even though the creators of these platforms didn’t know exactly what was going to happen to users, the results are clear for three of the top apps today. While these are not exclusive outcomes, here are the findings:
- Instagram—the downside is social comparison; focuses heavily on body and lifestyle.
- Snapchat—keeps the focus on the face; downside is softened by humorous posts.
- TikTok—often focuses on performance; the downside is an absurd amount of videos.
Congress has now gotten into the act. In a recent hearing, a committee compared Instagram to tobacco, calling it the newest form of “cigarette smoking” for teens. It’s addictive and harmful even though kids may not think so at the time. Researchers inside Instagram were studying this experience and asking if it’s part of a broader phenomenon. Their findings confirmed some serious problems. One former Facebook employee acknowledged there were conflicts of interest between Facebook leaders and public trust. “The leaders chose revenue over public health.”
So, what can we do to lead our young into something better?
Working Backwards from the Problem
I propose we begin with the problem and work backward. Below are four realities that may require you and your teens to make a radical shift from current social media habits.
1. Since it is addictive, equip students to control their time on social media.
Users must manage their time. A meta-analysis of the data surrounding social media reveals teens should practice a two-hour time limit. Users who spend under two hours are less vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Those who use it over two hours are measurably more vulnerable. At home, I suggest no phones after 9 p.m. Evenings should be face-to-face time. In class, have a “no phone zone,” even if you encourage students to use them at other times. I have a friend who found a way to discipline his daughters if they violated guidelines. He bought a family phone they use in place of their personal portable devices for a week. It enables them to communicate when necessary but has no social media options. This can work if teens violate the rules at home or in class.
2. Since it is harmful, teach them to do something redemptive on social media.
Users must control their tongues and avoid the posts of certain people. Right now, social media is both a blessing and a curse. Great connections and charitable giving happen, and then hurtful and damaging words happen as well. Far too often. In addition to the research above, Facebook also found young women have been diagnosed with eating disorders, anxiety, depression, or had suicidal ideations—all linked to their usage of Instagram. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not worth it. It’s time to turn the tide. Why not sit down with your teens and identify the great things happening on social platforms and then choose your own. This habit can drown out the negative and expose them to positive peer pressure.
3. Since it is shaming, teach them how to stop comparing themselves to others.
Users must tame their appetites. The top emotions teens feel, according to some school counselors, are anxiety, inferiority, and shame. Shame is rarely a healthy motivator. The recent Facebook presentation confessed: “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.” If this is true, why not build a sense of agency in teens, especially females. They don’t have to get on social media sites and view other girls and compare themselves to others. The best way to reduce this shameful feeling is to not see it in the first place. The second-best way is to learn to stop comparing others’ best features to their worst ones. The key is to identify strengths (in their looks, talents, or qualities) and play to those strengths.
4. Since it’s practicing questionable ethics, why not boycott Facebook/Instagram.
Users must choose to master technology instead of letting it master them. I realize a boycott seems harsh. Here’s why I say it. Mark Zuckerberg said he cares about the health of users and of his community, but he isn’t willing to give up algorithms to lose people. He says Facebook made moves to increase “meaningful social interactions” (MSI); but Jonah Peretti, CEO of Buzzfeed, acknowledged to them, “MSI ranking isn’t actually rewarding content that drives meaningful social interactions.” I suggest that you, your family, or your class consider getting off of Facebook or Instagram altogether until they show that ethics are more important than revenue generation.
According to a new study from The Associated Press and NORC at the University of Chicago, 58 percent of American teens have taken a break from at least one social media platform. Those who voluntarily leave social media feel more positive about their time away. It’s no coincidence. Let’s guide this next generation into healthy habits and attitudes.
The Bible is replete with stories and examples of generous giving. We all know about the widow’s mite in Mark 12, or the passage in Luke 6:38 where he says, 38 Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For me, the most remarkable story of giving is when God gave his only son to die on the cross for my sins. Now that is sacrificial giving!
As I think of generosity and perspective, I am reminded of the old proverb that goes something like this; I complained about not having shoes until I met a man who had no feet. Most Americans live in abundance if we compare ourselves to others around the world. At TPCS, we are blessed beyond measure in so many ways. We have had a history of generous donors that make so many things possible that otherwise would have been delayed or impossible to do.
Maybe the biggest blessing of your generosity is the contrasting imagery of contributors to consumers. Parents and grandparents who have modeled generosity to their children will reap bountiful character blessings in their child’s future. 2 Corinthians 9:6 (ESV) 6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. The widow’s offering reminds us that generosity without discernment is not commendable. Self-sacrificial giving to misguided causes doesn’t please the Lord. TPCS takes stewarding your generosity seriously.
Matt. 6:21 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. As an example of this, Derek Mount, a 2020 graduate, had this to say about TPCS. “What if I told you that your gift to Traders Point has an even greater impact than you might imagine? What if I told you that your gift has the potential to change lives? Traders Point had a huge part in planting the seed and developing my faith. The staff and teachers poured into me, spoke truth, and showed Christ’s love to me daily. This influence played a major role in my decision to accept Christ. TPCS will always have a special place in my heart because of this.”
This year’s Day of Giving is Tuesday, October 26th. On this day, your gift is combined with the gifts of others to make the greatest impact. Will you join us?
Yesterday, I received a very kind direct message of encouragement from a young man, now a friend that I coached back in the mid-1990s (I know I am old). I coached varsity boys’ and girls’ soccer for over 20 years. Walker said, “Happy Coaches Day, Paul! Once a coach, always a coach! Thanks for investing in me as a young knucklehead!”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Loving others includes encouraging one another. In Romans 12:7-8, Paul lists encouragement among the gifts of grace. 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. When people accomplish a common objective together, all are encouraged. Fellow believers encourage one another to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
The Thessalonian Christians faced struggles and an uncertain future. Paul wrote to encourage them, reminding them of their faith and love and hope in Christ, all of which prepared them to be ready for the Lord’s return. And with these assurances, they could keep encouraging one another and building each other up.
The gift of encouragement is vital in our lives. Encouragement is a gift in the home, workplace, school, church, and wherever we find ourselves. We can come alongside others and be there for one another. We can listen, comfort, console, affirm. It’s a way of living out the command to love one another.
Take time to recall the people who’ve been encouragers in your life. They’re the ones who were there when you thought you’d never laugh again. They were the ones who listened to you, whereas others just talked. Then ask yourself, “When was the last time I encouraged someone?” It’s not difficult, and the people you encourage are so blessed by it.
Today, I challenge you to encourage a former or current teacher, coach, Bible teacher, pastor, or friend.
Last week, many of our TPCS parents heard Dr. Tim Elmore speak about the challenges and opportunities of raising Generation Z (your kids). Dr. Elmore listed eight challenges facing this generation.
- Empowerment without wisdom.
- Stimulation without ownership.
- Privilege without responsibility.
- Involvement without boundaries.
- Individualism without perspective.
- Accessibility without accountability. (smartphones)
- Opportunity without resilience.
- Consumption without reflection.
As I was reflecting on this list and thinking about the many challenges like; CRT, gender identity, pornographic library reading material, facing kids in public education today, I am reinvigorated by the opportunities in Christian education.
In reality, Christian education is a fundamentally different enterprise than secular education. Christian education rests on the assumption that every person is made in the image of God, created by God for a purpose, and called by God to live in the world He created. Christians are also explicitly called to live for Christ in this cultural moment. Christian education equips and prepares students to understand reality and live with the clarity, confidence, and courage they need to face the challenges of this broken world. It is about training kids to think and live as Christians for such a time as this.
This means that we can do fantastic work in Christian education in this particular moment of incredible opportunity. Christian education begins with Christian assumptions about life, truth, and humanity; it aims at Christian goals, is measured by Christian outcomes, and is guided by Christian methodology.
To do this effectively, Christian education relies heavily on the home and the church. So we both, TPCS and you as parents have a great opportunity to partner together to train these kids in a biblical worldview that will equip them to live and think biblically.
I have been thinking lately about the state of our county and how education plays a role in where we are today. I want you to know I believe that education is NOT neutral. Clearly, at TPCS, we educate from a biblical perspective with a foundation anchored in the truth of the Scripture. While most Christian schools do the same, not all private schools are anchored to the same foundation.
Intentionally, public schools actively avoid any connection to a biblical foundation. We see this in current events that public education is NOT neutral. The present state of public education is teaching a revisionist history, accepting morals that conflict with the Bible, and intentionally excluding Christianity in any form.
Humanity has a propensity to worship. It is generally believed that less than 7% of the world’s population are atheists, and over 70% of those are in Russian and China. With this in mind, you can consistently find a deity of some form that they worship in all people groups. From my observation, the public educational system has effectively removed all gods and replaced them with man himself (humanism). This elevation of man (students) has resulted in a narcissistic, entitled generation. When you couple that with the current trends in “parenting as friends” and “everyone is a winner,” we have ignored God’s design for human interpersonal relationships and our position in relation to God.
Parents, Ephesians 6:1-4 gives clear guidance, especially to fathers, about how to raise their children. I find it hard to align verse 4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” with an educational system that has removed God from the foundation. We should consider how our current and past decisions have shaped our today and the impact on our children’s tomorrow.
Covid Case Update
Are you a leader? If you have a family, you are. If you have employees who answer to you at any level, you are. If you have friends or co-workers who look up to you, you are. The correct answer is yes. We are all leaders at some level.
If you had not noticed it, leading is hard today. There is a multitude of challenges facing leaders today. Massive miscommunication (social media), harsh emotional reactions to decisions, freedom to call out leaders without the necessary information, a significant divide in perspectives, a lack of humility on the part of leaders and followers, and the list goes on.
In a recent article, Dr. Tim Elmore characterizes effective leadership in this way. “Believe it or not, I’m convinced one secret to effective leadership today is to practice paradoxes. Uncommon leaders cultivate the skills to embody seemingly contradictory traits that usually aren’t found together. For instance, these leaders are both confident and humble.” This principle holds true no matter what level of leadership you find yourself. Dr. Elmore goes on to identify some significant leadership paradoxes.
- Uncommon leaders embrace both visibility… and invisibility.
- Uncommon leaders are both teachers… and learners.
- Uncommon leaders model both high standards… and gracious forgiveness.
- Uncommon leaders are both timely… and timeless.
As part of our effort to accomplish our credo of Graduating Leaders, TPCS is bringing in leadership speakers once a month to challenge our students to become influential leaders. Dr. Elmore is a leadership speaker who focuses on Gen Z (your children) and the challenges they face in today’s culture. Dr. Elmore is also the author of the Habitude series we use in our mentor groups, focusing on training leadership skills. Dr. Elmore will be speaking to parents at TPCS on Monday, September 20 at 7 pm in the Upper School Town Square. Tim Alexander, a member of Dr. Elmore’s team, will be speaking to our students the same day at 9:25 am.
We will continue to expand our partnerships with influential leaders who will challenge our students to rise above the crowd and lead.
New COVID+ Cases Count