Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Ahead, to 2012 and Beyond

Happy New Year!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

 I don't want to take this verse out of its context.  God is speaking through the prophet Jeremiah to his people Israel, giving them a promise for their future following the seventy years of captivity they spend in Babylon.  Once that was over, they were allowed to return home.  It was a new generation, given a  new start and it wasn't easy.  They had to contend with a lot of problems, starting with rebuilding a destroyed city with broken down walls and few resources.  But they had one great advantage.  God was on their side. 

Christian schools are becoming increasingly important to the future of the church in America, and thus, to the future of the country as well.  The public education system is becoming less and less effective in delivering a quality academic education in a safe environment for its students.  An increasing number of families are seeking alternatives for their students, although there are few places they can go for both a quality education and a safe environment. 

As Portersville Christian School looks ahead to 2012, and faces the future, we are committed to offering a distinctively Christian education with quality academics in a safe, Christ-centered environment.  And the upcoming year provides us with a great opportunity to look ahead at the future.  As we do so, it is very important for us to keep the focus on God's plans for us, and make sure that our plans are His plans.  The only way I know how to do that is to pray.  And I would like to ask you to join me as we pray for Portersville Christian School, looking ahead to the future.

We will be applying for renewal of our ACSI and Middle States accreditation sometime in February, and initiating the accreditation process shortly thereafter.  Eventually, this process will lead to a visiting team coming in to evaluate our school's administration, faculty, curriculum, operating procedures and it's Christian mission and ministry, and will make recommendations for improvement.  From there, we can expect to be accredited for eight more years of operation.  That's the first big step to look at as far as the future is concerned.  But I think it is important to look a little further down the road than that.

It's time for us to start looking at the future, and making plans which will carry Portersville Christian School forward for many years to come.  We've weathered a deep recession fairly well, we are in good shape financially, with two positive years in a row, and a strong enrollment.  Our facilities are in good shape, and we have some good assets, all of which will help us build a plan for future development that will carry the school many years into a productive future.  We are at a point where we will need to make some decisions about what we want to do, and steps that we need to take to make sure the legacy of Portersville Christian School lasts into the future to serve as many generations of students as it has already served in the past.

The area around us is seeing increasing population growth and prosperity as Pittsburgh's suburbs press further north into Butler County.  It is important for PCS to be in a position to offer families a distinctively Christian, quality, affordable education for their students.  Please join me in prayer as we seek to remain in the center of God's will, and expand the ministry of our school so that it continues to serve for many years to come.

Monday, December 19, 2011

How do you explain it?

Merry Christmas to you, and may the peace of God bless you and fill your heart and your house in 2012!

We're in between our elementary and high school Christmas music programs.  The elementary did a great job with theirs last Thursday night, and now it is the high school's turn. 

When I was in school, and I went to public school in a small town in Arizona back in the 60's and 70's, we also produced and performed a Christmas program for our parents and friends.  Each class learned a song or two, the chorus classes did some special stuff, the band played carols and everyone had a great time.  The auditorium would be packed with parents, friends, and people from the community who came.  No one would have thought of having a Christmas season at the school without it.

Christmas was the word that was used, and we sang the carols about Jesus' coming along with some of the seasonal favorites.  One of the elementary classes would act out the nativity, and other students would read the Christmas story from the Bible.  Our school personnel did a great job of helping the kids who came from families that didn't celebrate Christmas feel included and not isolated.

So how do you celebrate Christmas without Christ?

How do you explain a "season" of giving, and greeting, decorating and shopping, without acknowledging why it is taking place?  If Christ had not come, and we did not celebrate his birth on December 25, what explanation do we give to children who are bound to have questions about it?  Is it just a time of year when everyone needs a break from school and work?  Is it that businesses needed something to help boost their sales toward the end of the year?  Is it that we are celebrating the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, which brings along cold weather to the northern hemisphere and summer to the southern hemisphere?  And if that is what we are doing, then what does all the symbolism mean? 

If you take Christ out of Christmas, there is no Christmas.  And there is also no need for any of the traditions that go along with it.  We might as well go about our regular business, since everything that goes along with the "holidays" has some kind of symbolic attachment or reminder about the birth of Christ.  I'm sure that retailers could invent some kind of marketing gimmick to get people to spend a couple hundred dollars on merchandise at a time of the year when it is not nearly so cold, and easier to get out.  Schools could move their "winter break" to a point where it actually divides the two semesters.  Radio stations could continue with their regular programming, and television could get to the reruns a month earlier, since they would not have to take the time for special programming presentations. 

Aren't you glad we don't do that? 

I'm glad that, here at PCS, we not only celebrate the holiday, but we are able to integrate and incorporate everything about it, including the celebration of the birth of Christ, and the Biblical words about his coming, right into the middle of everything we do.  I am glad we have a CHRISTMAS vacation, instead of a winter break, and that we sing songs about the birth of Christ as we gather in corporate worship of God together as a school community.  I am glad that the things we put up on our walls, and the things we teach in our classroom tell our students the whole story of the birth of Jesus and everything that goes along with it. 

So MERRY CHRISTMAS.  I hope you encounter the Holy Spirit in your worship of God and your celebration of what he did for you through his son, Jesus, who came to us at Christmas.