Archive for May, 2014

Elisha Wept

Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Elisha began his ministry during the last half of the ninth century B.C.  Leaving his parents’ farm in the upper Jordan valley, he trained under Elijah for several years, then served in the northern kingdom for over fifty years. 
 
Elisha was not isolated and unpredictable as Elijah often was.  Instead, he spent time with people, sharing meals and staying in their homes.  He traveled throughout the kingdom on a donkey, visiting villages and the communities.  Elisha’s miracles among these people reflected a deep compassion for the poor and needy.
 
Despite his loyalty to Israel, Elisha relentlessly fought against the idol worship of her kings.  Obedience to God’s instructions took him as far north as Damascus, where he appointed the Syrian king who would eventually oppress Israel.  A similar mission in Israel brought the downfall of her evil kings and a massacre of the prophets.
 
But, Elisha knew all too well, that Hazael would live and someday he would destroy his nation.  The rich and the poor alike would suffer.  They would suffer because the nation was evil. . .  was unfaithful to God.  And Elisha wept . . .

ELISHA’S TEARS

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
“I weep because I see what you will do to Israel . . .”
                                            –2 Kings 8
                                                                  2 Kings 8:7-29
 
At times we  are called on to deliver messages we do not want to deliver.  When Elisha was sent to Syria By God, he met Hazael.  As he looked into the face of this future rule of Syria, Elisha saw how much Israel would suffer at Hazael’s hand in the future.  No wonder the prophet, who loved his people, wept.  It is always good news to hear that a sick man will be well . . . unless the man who gets well will kill your children. 
 
Elisha wept . . .
 
In 2014  we in America are especially somber. We have looked into the face of Hazael.  We are both the perpetrators and the victim in our present situation.
 
In our own country, at the beginning of the millennium, in spite of unprecedented prosperity, we see the seeds of our destruction everywhere.  Increased crime, poverty, and unemployment.  Hopelessness and domestic violence. Some of us wonder whether our American covenant is being recklessly compromised by some leaders who are choosing to condone practices that we see as immoral. We see Hazael.  He will survive . . . but will we?  Will the American dream survive?
 
Edward Gibbon in his seminal work The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire says that the following five attributes marked Rome at its end.  First, a mounting love of affluence.  Second, a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor.  Third, an obsession with sex.  Fourth, freakishness in the arts, masquerading as originality, and enthusiasms pretending to be creativity.  Fifth, an increased desire to live on welfare.  Sound familiar?  Are we looking at Hazael?
 
That must have been the way the disciples felt.  Only three years with Him.  Three short years.  And while his work seemed to fall on deaf ears, the evil Romans prospered.  Caiphas prospered.  Herod prospered.  Evil would win after all . . . and Elisha wept.
 
Jesus wept too.  In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus spent the last night of His life. Alone.  He had to die.  He knew it.  And He was so afraid that He wept blood.  Sometimes I think we make the cross into something less than it was.  It was a horrible death.  To wear a cross, for instance, in Jesus’ day, around one’s neck was like wearing an electric chair around our neck today.  No, Hazael will live.  Jesus will die.  And Elisha wept. . .

A Gathered Inheritance

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
On my farm grows an oak tree that began its life 30 years ago full of potential, and it was beautiful in its own right. Today it is so much more beautiful than it was thirty years ago. It is the same tree, but oh, how much larger and fuller are its branches and fruits! Diurnally I remove acorns and leaves deposited on my truck. It is the same tree, still full of potential, but producing more fruit than ever. A vicious blight or uncaring gypsy moth may kill it someday, but I already see a new oak seedling growing in its redolent shadow.
I look at this new generation of home schoolers and I know that we are not going to run out of fuel. The Holy Spirit is still here to encourage, to inspire every generation. There is, I have no doubt, a new C. S. Lewis or Oswald Chambers alive today.
Fear is dissipated by promises; evil is overcome by good. A gathered inheritance. We again recognize that the secret things belong “to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29). A gathered inheritance!
Theologian Paul Tillich wrote, “The lightning illuminates all and then leaves it again in darkness. So faith in God grasps humanity, and we respond in ecstasy. And the darkness is never again the same, . . . but it is still the darkness.”
All of God’s saints—past, present, and future—are flashes of lightning in the sky. And the darkness is never the same again because the light reveals what life can be in Jesus Christ. “Memory allows possibility,” theologian Walter Brueggemann writes. A gathered inheritance.  We bring memory. Our young people bring possibility.

Glowing in the Darkness

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
A transplanted Arkansas boy who now lives in the often-frigid Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania, I like my apple cider to be steaming and my house to be about 78 degrees. An anthracite coal-burning stove does the job, but there is one problem with coal heat, and it occurs about three o’clock every morning: the fire dies down to the point where the house is dangerously cold.
                                                                                                                                                Is the home school movement growing cold?  I think not.
Old Testament Levitical priests had a duty to tend the fire in the tent of meeting, to keep it roaring and bright. The fire on the altar, the eternal flame on which sacrifices were offered to God, was not to go out. Other tasks could be deferred. But the fire on the altar was never to go out. (Leviticus 6:8–13)
Through the centuries believers have served well as fire tenders. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever . . .(Deuteronomy 29:29). This is a gathered inheritance kept alive by men and women of faith.  In our own home school history the honor belongs to Hulsey, Harris, Ferris, and countless others.
Truth is restated; more than that, the reader will observe that saints throughout the ages have built on the faith of those who preceded them. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life: that is true, and truth is the same, forever. Revelation of truth, though, is forever becoming better understood, we hope. The previous generation of believers passes the torch to us, and we pass it to the next, and so on. Each generation builds on the illumination of the previous generation. We trust that the world is better for it.

More SAT History

Thursday, May 15th, 2014
In the late 1800s, a group of leading American universities formed the College Entrance Examination Board, and working together they administered the first standardized exam in 1901. For the first time, students could take one entrance exam for several universities instead of taking a separate exam for each university to which they applied. The SAT from its inception has been an attempt to provide colleges with a tool to identify potential candidates for their universities. It remains so today. Generally speaking the SAT is an “aptitude” (Standard Aptitude Test) which measures critical thinking skills. It is similar to the IQ test which puts more emphasis on cognition (problem solving) than upon epistemology (information). The ACT, by the way, is an “achievement” or epistemologically based exam, much like the Iowa Basics or Stanford Achievement Exams.
  • Every exam will include a reading passage either from one of the nation’s “founding documents,” such as the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights, or from one of the important discussions of such texts, such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Well, it is about time! No one reads historical documents more than homeschoolers!
In conclusion, these changes are not substantially different from the changes that were made in 2005. The company that sells my family milk put a new cover on its carton last January. Does that mean that the company is different? No. Does that mean that the milk is different? No. Does that mean that anything is improved? Yes somewhat.
You heard it from me first. These changes are God inspired and by 2018 evangelical Christian, born again Christians, mostly homeschooled, will have averages scores of 1525. Thanks be to God that I have lived to see these good things and in this time and in this place I give God thanks!

SAT History

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014
In the late 1800s, a group of leading American universities formed the College Entrance Examination Board, and working together they administered the first standardized exam in 1901. For the first time, students could take one entrance exam for several universities instead of taking a separate exam for each university to which they applied. The SAT from its inception has been an attempt to provide colleges with a tool to identify potential candidates for their universities. It remains so today. Generally speaking the SAT is an “aptitude” (Standard Aptitude Test) which measures critical thinking skills. It is similar to the IQ test which puts more emphasis on cognition (problem solving) than upon epistemology (information). The ACT, by the way, is an “achievement” or epistemologically based exam, much like the Iowa Basics or Stanford Achievement Exams.
  • The guessing penalty, in which points are deducted for incorrect answers, will be eliminated. I like that. Nice. I cannot prove it statistically, but most of my homeschool students are good guessers.  I think it is related to their calm, Christ-centered approach to the exam.
  • The overall scoring will return to the old 1,600-point scale, based on a top score of 800 in reading and 900 in math. The essay will have a separate score.
  • Math questions will focus on three areas: linear equations; complex equations or functions; and ratios, percentages and proportional reasoning. Calculators will be permitted on only part of the math section. Sweet! Sweet! Sweet!
  • Every exam will include, in the reading and writing section, source documents from a broad range of disciplines, including science and social studies, and on some questions, students will be asked to select the quotation from the text that supports the answer they have chosen. Love it!

SAT Excitement!

Thursday, May 8th, 2014
I am giddy with excitement about the 2016 SAT!  Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine such a homeschool friendly exam would be created.
In the late 1800s, a group of leading American universities formed the College Entrance Examination Board, and working together they administered the first standardized exam in 1901. For the first time, students could take one entrance exam for several universities instead of taking a separate exam for each university to which they applied. The SAT from its inception has been an attempt to provide colleges with a tool to identify potential candidates for their universities. It remains so today. Generally speaking the SAT is an “aptitude” (Standard Aptitude Test) which measures critical thinking skills. It is similar to the IQ test which puts more emphasis on cognition (problem solving) than upon epistemology (information). The ACT, by the way, is an “achievement” or epistemologically based exam, much like the Iowa Basics or Stanford Achievement Exams.
Universities use the SAT to predict college performance. It is, undoubtedly, pretty good at doing that. Occasionally students who do poorly on the SAT do well in college, but almost never do high scoring SAT students perform poorly in college. Incidentally, that is another difference between the aptitude/IQ SAT and the ACT: the SAT is a predictor of college performance and the ACT is an assessment of high school performance.
The 2016 SAT is changed in form but not in substance. It will still be an “aptitude test” and it will take about 3.5 hours. The test will include three sections — evidence-based reading and writing, math and an optional essay.
  • Instead of arcane “SAT words” (“depreciatory,” “membranous”), the vocabulary definitions on the new exam will be those of words commonly used in college courses, such as “synthesis” and “empirical.” Does that mean the vocabulary on the SAT is changed? Not really. Does that mean preparation should be different? Not really. Students should still read good books and learn Greek and Latin roots.
  • The essay, required since 2005, will become optional. Those who choose to write an essay will be asked to read a passage and analyze the ways its author used evidence, reasoning and stylistic elements to build an argument. Ok, but I bet you that the best schools will still require it. We homeschoolers hope so because presently homeschoolers are the best writers in the country. It is fairly easy to improve a score on the writing portion of the coaching resistant.

Do Not Be Afraid . . .

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Every convention I go to there is such fear! Fear of Comnon Core. Fear of college. Why?  The Lord I serve is not afraid of anything or anyone.  Neither am I.  I only wait to serve Him.  ”The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused Him of being a bore – on the contrary; they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that that shattering personality and surround Him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified Him meek and mild, and recommended Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.”–Dorothy Sayres

If It Feels Good . . .

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

The Harvard Gazette reports that the secret to dieting is merely not feeling guilty <http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2014/03/kicking-the-diet-habit/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=04.03.daily%201>. Forget draconian menus and deprivation, no, the sagacious scholars at Harvard tell us we simply have to “chill out.” Stop to smell the roses. And if the roses happen to be made of frosting, don’t feel bad about eating one.

Intuitive eating — the nondiet diet — abandons views of “good” and “bad” foods, and seeks to relocate mealtime beyond the shadows of insecurities and shortcomings. The idea calls for a wholesome diet, in harmony with the body. Eat what you’re hungry for, but only when you’re actually hungry. And stop eating when you’re full.

Like sin. Just sin enough to satisfy your cravings and intuitively stop. Heck, go ahead and eat that bar of chocolate. It will soon fill you up and you will be full and stop eating it. Abandon all notions of “good” and “bad.”

Hum. But I am rarely full . . . and so when do I stop? And I like sinning. I really do. So when do I stop? Abandoning notions of “good” and “bad” to this old boy is like handing me a package of Frito Lays and jalapeno cheese dip. I just can’t stop when I get going.

But, what do I know? Silly me. I always tried to avoid fornicating and Big Macs and thought that would keep me from doing it or eating it. But maybe I just should delved right in and not feel bad about it and then I would have my sin nature and gluttony solved? Oh how I love that university! . . . Just saying.