Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Theme Verse for 2016-17: Focus on I John

"Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."  I John 3:18

It is always difficult to choose a theme verse for the school year.  It is a scripture which teaches a principle that we want to emphasize with our students, because we see it as a need, and we see the scripture passage as a means of addressing that need.  We let our chapel speakers know what our theme is, and they often feel let to preach on it, using corroborating scripture passages to support it.  In classrooms, especially at the beginning of the year, the theme verse is used in devotions to begin the day.  It is important, because it is a means of enhancing the spiritual life of the student body. 

Since school was completed last week, there's been a search and a study going on to find a theme verse for 2016-17.  We are a school, made up of students, and our ministry is Christian discipleship.  For the most part, as a student body, we are growing spiritually and moving toward spiritual maturity.  The school community mostly consists of students, sincere in their faith, but still at a point where they have a lot more to learn, not only from being taught, but from experience.  And it's real life experience.  These are real relationships and real friendships, and they provide real joy and fulfillment, real opportunities for students to grow through them, and real support for that growth.  They also provide real pain when things go wrong, real hurt that causes real problems, and requires real solutions. 

I once heard someone make the statement that a Christian school should not be a shelter, but it should be a refuge.  Given the events that are happening all around us right now, we need a refuge.  And we need our school to be a place where students can have their faith strengthened, where teachers and staff come alongside each student, supporting them when they have doubts, encouraging them when they are discouraged, guiding them when they need direction, including discipline when they stray, and helping to build a strong, spiritual foundation on the truths of scripture, so that when they graduate, they will not become part of the 80% of young people who leave the church and the Christian faith by the time they finish college.  And they need to learn, and see, how to give this kind of love and support to each other. 

It is frustrating to hear someone say, "That shouldn't be something which happens in a Christian school."  The fact is, a Christian school is not a perfect environment, and neither the staff nor the students always make the right decision that is consistent with what the Bible teaches, and what God expects.  Things happen which are not consistent with Biblical, Christian faith.  When they do, what makes us distinctive in our response is our faith in Jesus. 

"For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God...If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness..."

We want our theme verse to be something that comes to mind in a particular situation, something which teaches a particular principle that will contribute to the spiritual growth of our students, and the spiritual life of the school.  Something that they will remember, and which will add to the foundation of Bible teaching, worship, home and church which they already have developed.  Something that will help them be a blessing when they are confronted by a complicated issue of the day, or when a major tragedy happens. 

Both of the verses in this article from I John are possibilities.  In fact, the whole theme of I John is about relationships that Christians have with each other.  So at the very least, a set of devotionals and thoughts from I John might be on the table for first thing each morning.   

So watch this space for the big announcement of the PCS verse of the year, 2017-2018

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

In all your ways acknowledge Him...

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths."  Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV

Congratulations to the Portersville Christian School class of 2016.  On Saturday, 25 seniors received their diplomas, and celebrated thirteen years of completed education.  It was, as we say, a commencement, a beginning, and not a conclusion.  The members of the class have been encouraged to trust in the Lord, at least from the moment that they enrolled at PCS, if not before that in their family and home church.  We are praying that the foundation they received as part of their education at PCS will lead to their acknowledgement of the Lord, and their complete trust in his will for their lives, and for straight paths.

Standing in the gym, looking at those 25 seniors in their blue gowns and caps, shifting their tassles to signify their graduation, and receiving their diplomas, we were watching a miracle.  No, it was not a miracle that they all passed, that they all met the requirements for graduating from high school at Portersville.  It was a miracle that in the day and age in which we live, with all that is happening in the world, with instant communication by a dozen different means at our fingertips, with all of the influences of ideas and philosophies and religions, we watched 25 students step out into the world with a high school diploma that symbolizes the acquisition of basic skills, integrated with the principles of the Christian faith, measured by the Bible. 

That did not happen in a vacuum.  The education received by those students, represented by their diplomas, was the result of their own effort and hard work.  And it was also the result of the effort and hard work made on their behalf by their teachers.  It would not be what it is, however, if that is all that went into it.  In both cases, the result required whole and complete trust in the Lord, dependence on the presence of his Holy Spirit, indwelling each student and teacher, to bring about the result of a class of 25 students who are ready to move forward to the next chapter of their life, equipped with basic educational skills, and with a growing, and strong Christian faith that is visible and evident in their lives. 

We can't do what we do without completely trusting in the Lord.  Education in basic subjects and skills is, in our philosophy, a part of the bigger domain of Christian discipleship.  And discipleship is one of the five functions of the church, according to scripture, along with worship, evangelism and missions, ministry and fellowship.  We are engaged in a partnership with the parents of our students who trust their children to our professional abilities to teach, and to model the principles of scripture that will protect their children's minds and hearts, and keep them in a place where their faith can develop and grow strong before they go out into the world.  It takes the work of the Holy Spirit to bring all of those elements together to provide the students with what they need, and that is not something that we, alone, have the strength to do.  We must trust in the Lord, and as we do, we show our students how to trust in him as well. 

It has been one of the greatest blessings of my life to serve here at Portersville Christian School.  One of the things that has made it so is being able to see what our students are doing with their lives once they leave here.  Most of what I've observed to this point has been their college experience, but we are now having alumni who are completing college and moving forward into careers.  That's exciting to see, but what is even more exciting, and fulfilling, is to see that most of our alumni are remaining faithful to the Lord, and are serving his church.  Our current senior class left behind some prayer requests for the staff, which were distributed at our last day luncheon on Tuesday.  They are asking us to pray for them as they search to find God's will for their lives.  They want our prayer support as they go off to college, and make finding a church a priority.  That's some evidence that trusting in the Lord is already working. 

"Great and amazing are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty.  Just and true are your ways, King of the nations.  Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name?  For you alone are holy.  All nations will come and worship before you, for your judgments have been revealed."  Revelation 15:3-4, NRSV