Modeling Christ at Home

Woman writing at home

Our children pick up on whether or not we are modeling Christ at home. For instance, I am not a professional writer, but I love to write. However, I have not always enjoyed writing. In high school, I used to loathe writing assignments, and saw them as time spent not doing other things that were more interesting…talking on the phone with my friends (remember stretching the phone cord as far as it would go so you could have some privacy?). I tried to complete these assignments as covertly as I could, because if my mother discovered an opportunity to write, she took it; whether it was a thank-you note, a letter to my grandmother, but especially if it was a homework assignment.

As soon as she sat next to me, it became her mission to make sure the essay was written as creatively and professionally as she saw fit. As a self-absorbed teenager (is there any other kind?), it annoyed me when my mother directed every sentence structure to her liking. However, what happened is that my writing began to mimic my mother’s, and she was a great writer! Today as I strive to write better, I can still hear her urging me to rethink that sentence structure, find a better word for that, or set that thought aside and come back to it.

Modeling Christ at Home

As a parent, homeschooling or not, it is our duty to be role models for our children in all aspects of their lives. They need to see us handling stress with the peace that surpasses all understanding. They need to see us reading our Bibles and praying over them. Our children need to see the love of Christ when they are reprimanded for a misbehavior. They need to see their mother and father holding hands, kissing each other, setting goals together and laughing together. Believe it or not, they also need to see their parents disagree, and work out issues as a Christ-centered couple should.

Prayerfully, reflect on the following questions:

  1. As I lead my children through life, am I modeling a Christ-filled life at all times, in all situations?
  2. What changes can I make today to reflect the kind of role model Christ wants me to be?
  3. Do I model handling stress in a Godly manner?  What can I specifically change, so that I am?

Lord, show me how to model your love, patience, kindness, respect, and diligence to my family. May I face stress with your peace, turning to you for inner resolve to handle issues. May I treat my family with love and respect at all times, even in times of frustration or hurt. Remind me to read your Word daily and to reflect upon your love, grace and peace for my family. Amen.

Robin Slagle, Academic Coordinator, Biola Youth Academics

A Prayerful Observer Discovers Entry Points to Paradigm Shifts in a Child’s Home Education

Woman Praying - A Prayerful Observer - Inspired Home Educator Blog Post

When we become a prayerful observer of our children’s thought processes, learning styles, values and worldview, the Lord can highlight entry points to help bring new academic and spiritual understanding.

In Acts 11, Paul addresses the Athenians by standing in the Areopagus and saying, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ What therefore you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you . . . ” Paul then goes on to preach the gospel message.

Note three aspects of Paul’s approach to teaching in Acts 17:22-31:

  1. First, he observes where the learner is in his own thought process.
  2. Second, he selects an entry point or connector from what the learner thinks he knows to the spiritual concept that he, Paul, wants to teach.
  3. Third, he links the two concepts together, creating cognitive dissonance and inviting a paradigm shift in the learner’s thinking.

Prayerful Observation and Cultural Context

Another example of observing an entry point that led to a paradigm shift is Don Richardson’s book, The Peace Child. Don and Carol Richardson risked their lives as missionaries to bring the Gospel message to the Sawi people in New Guinea. In the Sawi culture, they valued treachery and would “fatten their victims with friendship” before slaughtering them.

Don and Carol, after observing the ongoing warfare continued to pray for a way to bring the message of Jesus, salvation, and peace to the Sawi. They later observe that after brutal warfare, when two tribes wanted to make peace, they would give a “peace child” (one of the infants) from one tribe to the other. This was finally the cultural entry point that would help the warring tribes understand that Jesus is God’s peace child. The peace child was the redemptive analogy that unlocked the cultural context and provided an entry point into understanding the salvation message.

Actions, Values, Words, and Worldviews

Similarly, when we teach our children spiritual and academic knowledge, we must become a prayerful observer of what they know, their actions, values, words, and worldviews. Starting from this place of knowledgeable observer, we create dissonance through our teaching, asking questions, and leading children to new understanding spiritually and academically.

Jesus taught the same way. For example, Jesus shared his observations in the Sermon on the Mount that the people lived by the idea that “you shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy” (Matthew 5:43). However, in Matthew 5:44, He said . . . “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you . . . ” Jesus created cognitive dissonance in the listeners in an effort to create a paradigm shift in their thinking which, for those who believed, brought spiritual life and learning.

Prayerfully, reflect on the following:

  1. Lord, am I an observer of my children?
  2. Lord, am I a prayerful observer of my children?
  3. Jesus, am I a prayerful observer of my children when it comes to spiritual understanding of Your Way of living out biblical principles?
  4. Lord, am I a prayerful observer of my children when it comes to academic understanding?
  5. Abba, am I listening to your Spirit for insightful ways to teach spiritual principles through our academic studies?

Lord Jesus, all subjects lead to You. Unified and coherent, You hold all things together (Colossians). In You “we live, and move, and exist” (Acts 17:28). Lord, in my exuberant efforts to teach, may I never miss that you are the Center of it all. Help me Lord, in daily prayer, words, and actions, to always lead my children to You, the Author of all Creation. May the teaching and learning in our home be an act of worship.

Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, I bow before You today and declare my allegiance to Your Holy Name. I promise You Lord, that come what way, I will never waiver from teaching my children the truth. Enliven through Your Spirit my understanding of my children and my understanding of You. Show me, Lord, the entry points to provide the tutelage my children need to move closer to You each day. Empower me, Lord, for this calling to teach. Amen.

June Hetzel, Ph.D., Dean of Education, Biola University

Fostering Wonder and Curiosity for Science and Research at Home

Little Girl in Wonder watching a hose spray water

How great God is and how great is His creation! Every time I gaze at the stars, scan the canopy of heaven, inhale the beauty of the ocean, explore underwater sea creatures, touch the soft fur of my favorite canine, or marvel at a spider’s orb web, I gasp and declare that God’s creation shouts His glory.

I am awed by His handiwork, wrapped up in His beauty, and enveloped in His love as He displays His love through the gift of nature. We were created by God and placed in a garden among plants and creatures. Nature is the place where we flourish as we are nourished by His love and beauty in the created order. We learn about our Creator through the book of nature (see Romans 1). And so, as an educator, I’ve always given value to building upon the natural design of the child which is consistently awe, wonder, and curiosity in relationship to the created order.

Cultivating Awe, Wonder and Curiosity through Research

As an example of how the wonder of nature can be infused in education, my second grade teacher decided to set up a glass aquarium in the back of the room and placed a lovely reptilian-looking creature inside. Next to the aquarium, lay several intriguing books on amphibians and reptiles and the sign read:

Is this a frog or a toad? Please observe the creature and read the books and come to a decision. Place your vote in the box. The answer will be revealed on Friday.

As a seven-year-old, I was drawn like a magnet to this fascinating activity. The second I finished my assignments, I ran to the aquarium to observe the creature. I browsed through the books, examined all the photos, and read some text. Finally, at the end of Thursday, I dropped my “ballot” in the box slot: frog.

The answer? Toad.

How did some of the other kids know the answer? They read the texts more carefully. They knew it must be a toad because of its rougher, drier skin. If it was a frog, its skin would be moist. This information showed up in the captions and narrative of the displayed books. If I had worked a little harder, I would have found the answer too; however, I never forgot some of the differences between frogs and toads and never forgot the wonder and joy of that assignment.

Show, Not Tell – Practical Teaching Tips

Now let’s apply this wonder . . . ful learning approach to the homeschool classroom:

Instead of taking the didactic approach and saying, “Today we will learn the three differences between a frog and a toad,” and then explaining those differences, ask questions instead:

  • Is this a frog or a toad?
  • How do you know you are correct?
  • Can you verify that you are correct?

Then, the students begin their observations and close investigation through research. You as the homeschool teacher withhold what you know until your children conduct their research at home through observation, reading, and investigation.

The didactic approach — telling answers — makes the child dependent upon the teacher for information, whereas, asking questions and doing research to verify hypotheses creates an independent learner who continues to develop his reading skills and competency for research at home. The topic, nature, is the God-given compelling context, interest, or entry point that magnetically pulls the children toward asking and researching questions due to the awe, wonder, and curiosity surrounding nature. Consider this as you craft your writing objectives for the new school year.

Prayerful Reflection

  • Lord Jesus, how am I capitalizing on awe, wonder, and curiosity in nature to ignite my child’s interest in the created order, in reading and research at home . . . and ultimately in You, the Creator of it all?
  • Am I teaching my child to read closely and verify information from multiple resources (books, articles, journals, library research, personal observations, interviews) in all areas of study so that he is confident in what he believes to be true?
  • Lord Jesus, am I cultivating dependent or independent learners in my household?
  • Good Teacher, when I teach, do I primarily tell or do I ask questions and then listen to better understand the way you have created my child’s mind . . . his interests, his curiosities, and those aspects of nature that cause Him to stand in awe and worship of You?

 

Lord, help me to teach in such a way that I cultivate in my child’s heart a desire to ask questions, seek answers, and ready himself to provide rationale for what he believes to be true in all areas of his study. Teach me how to utilize my child’s natural interests to ignite his independent research skills so that his academic habits are such that he naturally seeks compelling evidence and rationale for his beliefs. Amen.

June Hetzel, Ph.D., Dean, School of Education, Biola University

As the Sculptor Works: Glacial Molding and the Spiritual Lives of Home Educators

Woman standing, facing large glacier - as the sculptor works blog photo

After a busy year homeschooling your children, it is always great to take a break! Robin Slagle, Academic Director, highlighted the importance of rest in one of her recent homeschooling blogs for The Inspired Home Educator. . . I hope you will read it!

The way my husband and I took a break this summer was by spending 10 days in Alaska with our friends, Pete and Dyanna, celebrating their 40th anniversary. Dyanna is a former homeschool mom and currently an educator working with homeschool families.

In the Valley of the Glacier

One of our favorite Alaskan outings was to the Lynne Canal and Davidson Glacier, near Glacier Bay. We started the morning with a short boat trip around the peninsula with 24 other passengers out of Haines, Alaska. Then, we hiked through a rainforest. Next, we canoed to the edge of the braided stream near the glacier. After that, we hiked and waded across several points of the braided stream to get up as close to the glacier as possible. The view was magnificent. The Davidson Glacier is a receding glacier that is carving out another gorgeous valley in Alaska.

Each day, as the guides bring in visitors, conditions change. For example, the braided rivers change in breadth and depth and flow patterns every day. On the day we visited, we hiked, canoed, waded across three rivulets in wading boots, and then walked across stunningly beautiful assortment of rocks in front of the glacier. We enjoyed our time at Davidson Glacier, observing nature and the changing landscape. What impressed me most was the enormous glacier, its slow movement, melting and receding patterns, and the way it sculpts its environment.

As the Sculptor Works

I realized that, like the glacier, God carves, sculpts, and shapes beauty in our spiritual lives as we release ourselves to His movement. This tutelage is sometimes imperceptible like the slow sculpting of the valley beneath the glacier. As the Sculptor does His handiwork in you, beautiful braided streams, meadows, waterfalls, and valleys emerge that reflect the beauty of His image in you. However, other times, His work in us (or in our children) happens in an instantaneous, painful moment. Check out this video of a recently calving glacier in Patagonia, Argentina.

Watch the entire video because you will be shocked at the changes in the glacier in just a few minutes! We have to be ready for God to sculpt slowly or in a radical transformative Acts 9 “Road to Damascus” moment! We must give ourselves to His shaping forces and allow His Spirit to create in us what He wishes.

Prayerfully reflect:

Lord, am I giving myself to you, the internal Change Agent? Where might I be resisting your shaping, God? Help me, Lord, to allow you to mold and remake me on your timeline — whether its glacial in your steady timing, or a swift calving in my soul. You are the Potter, and I am your clay. Amen.

 

As we continue our summer saunter — and as the Sculptor works — I pray that you will be enriched by slowing down and leaning into the Spirit more and more, relishing additional time with family and friends.

A Lesson in Church History: What Pliny the Younger Learned When He Interrogated Christians

Lesson in Church History: The Younger Pliny Reproved, colorized copperplate print by Thomas Burke (1749–1815)Here’s a quick idea for a lesson in church history: For many years I have been curious about a Roman governor known to us from history as Pliny the Younger. My interest initially arose because I resided for four years in one of the principal cities he governed—not to mention that one of my four daughters was born in that city. Moreover, since I have expended significant effort studying the writings of the earliest Christian authors after the period of the apostles (those authors known as the “Apostolic Fathers”), I continue to be intensely interested in learning anything I possibly can about the lives of Christians who lived during the first half of the second century.

What if someone like Pliny had come in contact with Christians? What if a Roman governor had wanted to know what Christians believed and how they lived? Read more

It’s Summer! Work Efficiently, Rest Sufficiently

man carrying son on the beachIt’s summer! Time to catch the children up on math, read those literature assignments that fell off the lesson plans, and revisit all those amazing science experiments that were planned for this past school year!

OR…is it time to catch up on some quality one-on-one time with each of your children, and read that novel you have been putting off because you’ve been too busy? Read more

Fourth of July Fun — Hands-on Activities for Little Learners

Fourth of July Fun and Learning: Even if your curricular studies are on pause for the summer, the Fourth of July still offers a wonderful opportunity to engage the minds of your little learners with fun, hands-on activities. Give your kids the freedom to discover with one (or all!) of these interactive projects. While it may be Independence Day, some adult supervision will be required. 🙂

Fourth of July Bracelets

Need something to wear to the red-white-and-blue themed block party? Sarah at Stay at Home Educator suggests these stylish Fourth of July Bracelets for honing in on fine motor skills. This makes for fashionable Fourth of July fun.

Girl wearing Fourth of July bracelet Read more

Prepare Christian High Schoolers for College: A conversation between Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow

Editor’s Note: Today’s blog post, Prepare Christian High Schoolers for College, is a conversation between Biola University‘s Assistant Professor of Apologetics and internationally-known speaker, Sean McDowell, and Jonathan Morrow, who is an adjunct professor of Apologetics at Biola and director of cultural engagement at Impact 360 Institute where Morrow teaches high school and college students. Morrow recently rereleased his classic book Welcome to College, and in 2010, Morrow and McDowell co-authored a book Is God Just A Human Invention?, which is a tremendous read for those interested in Christian apologetics. We’re grateful to Dr. McDowell for allowing us to repost this interview from his blog, SeanMcDowell.org.

3 Students at wooden table prepare for college

 

SEAN MCDOWELL: Your book Welcome to College has done quite well. What motivated you to do an update?

JONATHAN MORROW: Many students are not prepared for the ideas, experiences, and relationships that will challenge their faith and shape their future during the college years. I want students to not just survive the college years, but to also flourish there—with their faith firmly intact. In many ways, Welcome to College is everything I wish I would have known as I began the college years as a Christian.

Over the past 9 years since the first edition came out, I have been so encouraged by all the notes and emails from both students and parents about how Welcome to College has been helpful to them in navigating the college years. I wanted to make sure it was fresh and updated with the best information to speak to a new generation. Read more

Corrosion in the Battery, Sin in the Life of a Saint

Classic El Camino car with California plates

A father knelt over a car battery and began to clean the collecting crud on the outside of the battery ports. As he carefully cleaned with bicarbonate soda and distilled water, he explained to his son that it was important never to let any of the corrosion or soda fall into the battery. If the corrosion or soda fell into the battery, it would poison the battery, making it useless.

Read more

Joy in the Journey

Woman jumping for joy in the journey down a desert road

As I was enjoying the calm after one holiday rainstorm, Psalm 118:24 came to mind.

“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

I began to reflect upon rejoicing and what that means.  As a former homeschool mother of four, I did not always exhibit joy during the homeschooling journey when the lesson plans needed attention, the laundry was piling up, there was no milk in the refrigerator, and there were so many dust bunnies in my house we could start a farm!! The Psalmist commands us to rejoice in each day and be glad, but I found I could become overly focused on the stressors, which can take away the joy in the journey. Read more

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