*This article was written by Betsy Robertus
The most important reason we homeschool our children is time. It takes time together to build the important relationships in their lives: with each other, with their parents, and most importantly with God. It takes time to raise them with a Biblical worldview. It takes time to instill the godly values we want to instill in them. With so much to accomplish, I feel it is vitally important to be good stewards of our time and our children’s time.
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7
I admit when I first heard of the idea of homeschooling – after college but well before children – I thought, “Who would do that?!? That’s insane!”
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. 1 Corinthians 1:25
Slowly the Lord worked on my heart. When my oldest was a baby, I met a woman who only homeschooled her children for middle school. I thought that was a good idea. Those seemed like especially precarious years. I thought, “If I ever homeschool, I’ll do it for those years.”
I still had that plan in mind when my oldest was in kindergarten in our local public school. She wasn’t having a bad experience, but I grew very anxious as I thought about our future: increasing time away from home during her best hours, increasing homework, correcting all the learning and socializing she would be receiving that wasn’t Biblical, participating in an evening Bible program at church, training in serving others, time for disciplining, possibly a sport or extra-curricular activity AND time for building those important relationships?!? Impossible!! We couldn’t do all this during weekends and after-school hours! What would suffer the most? Relationships. The most important thing. It would be impossible to disciple our children without plenty of time together to have the relationship that turns our hearts to them and theirs to us, and then to the Lord.
When I finally took my anxiety to the Lord during quiet time with Him, He immediately answered me. “You need to homeschool.” No! I couldn’t do that! At least not yet. With my son entering preschool, the next school year was going to be the first time my children would both be in school. I told the Lord I planned to make good use of those three mornings each week: I’d do chores, errands, exercise, sew, volunteer in the classrooms and fellowship with friends.
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
Even though I wasn’t convinced, I started researching homeschooling. I’m so thankful for all the information that is available on the web and in books. I made a list of the pros and cons. The pro list was quite lengthy. The only thing on the con list was my time: for getting things done and having time to myself. Despite the clear message from the Lord and the overwhelming evidence, I still couldn’t commit to homeschooling.
Finally, I said to the Lord, “I am clutching those three mornings to myself. If you really want me to homeschool, please help me let go of those mornings! I cannot do it without your help.” Immediately I felt my grip on those mornings open up, I let go of them, and I could finally see the enormous blessings that would come from homeschooling my daughter those three mornings.
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 1 John 3: 21-22
Those days working with the Lord to change my heart were a “mountain-top” experience for me. I felt so close to the Lord by hearing His voice, seeing His answers to my prayers, and having the peace that comes from obeying. Those mountain-top moments would sustain me during the coming valley.
Our first few months of homeschooling were difficult. My daughter had some character issues we had to work through at the same time I was doubting all I was doing day-to-day regarding her education. When I felt like quitting, I took strength from remembering the Lord’s clear call to do this. When I cried out to Him regarding the difficult heart issues we were working through, He showed me that if she could not submit when she was 6 years old, what could I expect when she was 16?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
We stayed the course, drew incredible encouragement and wisdom from experienced homeschooling moms, and worked through those challenging months. The Lord grew us and our relationship in a unique way and I wouldn’t trade those months for anything. I delight in my children, their own personal growth processes, and the time we have for discipling and training. I pray always that we spend our time in a way that glorifies the Lord.
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Jesus died for our sins. He took the punishment we deserved. God the Father poured out His wrath for sin upon God the Son. Jesus was crushed for our iniquities, bruised for our transgressions. We deserve eternal separation from the infinitely holy God of the universe, but Jesus took our place.
Considering such propositions, my twelve-year-old son asked something profound. At dinner, I queried my children. “Do you have any questions about the Bible?” My son quickly said, “Yes, I do. How did Jesus take our punishment? He was only dead three days? Where did Jesus go when He died? Did He go to heaven or hell?”
Stated differently, my son was asking the following. If the punishment for sin is eternity in hell, how did Jesus, in a grave for three days, count as our punishment? How is three days punishment enough to substitute for the eternal punishment we deserve?
Wow, what a thoughtful question. I’m surprised often by my children. Brain cells fire when I think they aren’t paying attention. Synopses spark, working through philosophical questions and pondering large ideas.
My son’s question reminded me of something: too often I lecture, talk, and teach, when I also need to listen and learn. I need to know what’s going through my children’s minds, what they are asking themselves.
The talk which followed my son’s question was lively. His older siblings jumped in, also his seven-year-old sister. My wife and I offered solutions to the problem (Biblical ones, I hope) and the conversation drifted to other topics. For a few moments, we pondered something huge and important, something with eternal ramifications. Twelve isn’t too young to be asking such big questions.
In fact, I’m reminded of another twelve-year-old boy discussing important things with those older than himself. He was in His Father’s house, a long time ago, talking to the rabbis.
The job isn’t easy. It’s glorious, purposeful, and filled with good moments. But it’s not a cakewalk. You don’t win the good parenting prize by walking around and stopping on the winning number. In fact, I wonder if there is such a thing as “winning” as a parent.
It’s not a contest after all. We aren’t in competition with other families, are we? Yes, the devil prowls around. In that sense, we have an enemy and this is a battle. But victory belongs to the Lord, not us. The only thing we can point to as “winning” is our faithfulness. We are called to raise children in the nurture and discipline of the Lord. If we do, we win – whatever the result.
This is difficult to grasp. The most faithful parents might have children who leave the faith. I hate this fact. But it’s true. Unsaved parents have children found by Christ and believing parents have children renounce the faith. Life isn’t fair. And that’s the point. None of us deserve God’s mercy and grace. It’s not fair that He pours out mercy on sinners like us. It’s not fair at all. We receive what we don’t deserve.
What if a child of mine departs from the faith? I can’t stomach the thought. But there it is, a real possibility. I plead with God often, Lord, save my children, let their names be found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Why would God allow a child to be raised in a Christian home and then depart from the truth? I don’t know. One thing I do know – it’s not God’s fault. Each person is responsible for their own rebellion against God. Each is called to account for hearing and obeying (or not obeying) God’s call. If my children (please Lord, don’t let this happen) leave the church, I will not have failed as a parent. They will have failed to obey God’s Word, resisted the convicting work of the Spirit, and scorned the truth.
I must continue to trust in God’s goodness, to throw myself, my emotions, my broken heart upon Him. Lord, save my children. Jesus, please let them turn in repentance to you and confess you as Lord. The hard truth it this – I can’t save my children. The good news is this – God can save my children. Therefore, I will do all in my power to teach my children the things of God, and I will trust God with all my heart, knowing He is good and just and merciful.
The annual SCOPE family picnic was held August 24th at Fair Oaks Park. Coming from Sacramento’s surrounding neighborhoods – South Sacramento, Arden, Grass Valley, North Highlands, and many more – families gathered to share food, fun, and fellowship. A couple of families were new to SCOPE, and to homeschooling, and joined us for the first time.
The afternoon began with casual introductions and fellowship, then the members dined on potluck deliciousness. Parents sat at tables shaded by ancient oak trees, children played on the grassy hill nearby. Conversation during dinner allowed families to get to know each other, to continue long acquaintances or to make new homeschool friends.
Next came the Summer Reading Awards. Local libraries, and the SCOPE library, were kept busy this summer by SCOPE families. Many children, and a few adults, participated in our first SCOPE Summer Reading program. We had 23 participants and a total of 79 “bingo” cards completed. Certificates were issued to all participants and prizes were awarded by drawing names from a basket.
A Chat Group Challenge followed. Teams were formed by dividing adults and children alike into four groups. The teams listed ten homeschool field trip ideas and then acted them out while the other teams guessed the field trip. This game brought lots of laughter. And a bonus was the sharing of field trip ideas amongst the members.
After this, watermelon eating took the stage. Children plunged their faces into slices of sweetness and raced. Red juice dripped from chins and flowed across the table. First and second place eaters were awarded prizes from three different age groups.
The Great Marshmallow Battle came next. Everyone moved to an open space of level grass and formed teams on either side of a dividing line. White globules zipped across the field striking legs, arms, and torsos of opposing players. Team members were injured, or dead, until helped by the “medic”. The white orbs soared back and forth, becoming sticky and losing their shape, until one team was declared the victor. Several battles played out through the afternoon among various age groups. The teens battled the adults, beating them 2 out of 3. The adults felt the sting of losing to their children and felt the soreness in their muscles for several days afterward.
Afternoon traveled into the evening and families headed for home. A few families lingered together in the darkness, parents lost in conversation while children played. The day was a success, the SCOPE Family Picnic was a winner.
One lady, not involved in SCOPE, was heard saying, “I didn’t know homeschoolers did things like this.” Yes, as incredible as it seems, homeschoolers spend much of their time away from home. SCOPE offers many opportunities to meet up with other like-minded homeschoolers throughout the year, the annual picnic is one such opportunity. Look for it on the SCOPE calendar and join us next year.
When Homeschool Heroes Fail: What’s A Father To Do?
I won’t name him. If you follow evangelical news, you know who I’m talking about. This past week, he left his wife and his faith.
If you’ve been homeschooling any length of time, you probably have his books on your shelf. He was there at the beginning of the modern homeschool movement, tagging alongside his conference speaking father. He went on to lead his own conferences, write bestsellers, and become a pastor. He was a model for others. Hero might be too strong (it worked for the title of this article), but he was certainly a leading figure in some homeschool circles.
The news shocked many. How does a person process such news? He grew up in the church. He wrote books dealing with theological issues, books well received by other leading evangelicals. He pastored a large church. Then….he changed his mind.
I went through one of his books with my older children. We studied it together and it encouraged us in our faith. His change of mind caused me to toss and turn, to lose sleep. What should I do? Pull his books from our shelves and throw them away?
As I processed the news, my concern became acute. My mind focused on one thing. How can I be sure of my children’s salvation? If this man who grew up in a prominent homeschooling family could leave the faith, how can I be sure my children will continue in the faith?
Various teachings exist concerning the doctrine of salvation. I won’t argue my position here. Whatever view one holds, the news of a leading evangelical figure leaving the faith is disturbing. It should cause fathers to think about how they are doing with regard to teaching their children the things of God.
As shocking as such news can be, we shouldn’t be completely surprised. Scripture clearly teaches that some people will be among the saints on earth who don’t actually belong to Christ.
Jesus said that not everyone who calls Him Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven. Some will do things in His name but He will tell them that He never knew them. (See Matthew 13:21-23.) Jude verse 4 says that some people have crept into the church unnoticed. These are ungodly people who pervert the grace of God. They must have looked like true believers, but they didn’t know God. Actually, He didn’t know them. The authors of Scripture warned the early church about false teachers. Not teachers from false religions, but teachers in the churches they attended. These teachers sat among the believers, sang songs with them, prayed with them, then took center stage to teach falsehood. They looked like Christians, they smelled like Christians, but they didn’t have true saving faith.
So, what am I to do? My children are being raised in the church, in a homeschool which teaches all things from a Biblical worldview. They memorize Scripture and we read through Christian books together. My children can explain salvation, justification, and sanctification. They can describe the nature of the Trinity and the dual nature of Christ as fully God and fully man. Although none of us can completely grasp such things, we can apprehend them in the text and state them in confessions and creeds. My children know a lot of things about God, but do they know God? More importantly, does God know them?
In light of this recent news, I’ve determined three things.
First, I will pray more earnestly. God desires that all men (and women) be saved. I will plead with Him to save my children. Although I’ve prayed this prayer continually since the birth of my first child, I will pray more often and more earnestly. God works through prayer. No magic formula can be found. I can’t pray words that will make God do anything. But I will stand before Him and plead with Him in light of His character. I will beg Him to show mercy to my children, to display His graciousness, to move by His Spirit upon their hearts.
Second, I will proclaim Christ clearly. My children need to hear Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection proclaimed clearly and persuasively. My children know all the major Bible stories, but that’s not enough. They need to hear preaching and teaching which shows them Christ in all His glory and pleads with them to come. Come and follow! Leave behind your sins, your doubts, your fear of man. Count the cost and come to Christ. I praise God that we attend a church where Christ is faithfully preached. My children hear the Gospel in Sunday School and from the pulpit. I will make certain they continue to hear. Alongside church leaders, I will plead with my children to trust in Christ. I won’t take their faith for granted but will continue to share Christ clearly and trust Him to work by His Spirit in their hearts.
Third, I will trust God completely. Many homeschool parents have seen their children leave the faith. It grieves parents who worked diligently to teach their children about God. It tears at their soul. At the end of the day, we must all trust that God is in control. We can’t blame ourselves. Each person is responsible before God for their own sins and their own faith. Our children grow up in Christian homes and churches but that doesn’t make them Christian. Each must repent and follow Christ as the Holy Spirit convicts them. I pray that God does this work in my children, I plead with Him to do it, but whatever happens, I must trust in Him. Job said of God, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him.” (See Job 13:15.) Placing my children’s eternity into God’s hands is comforting. He created them, He placed them into my home, and He has good plans for them.
Homeschool heroes come and go. Most are good role models. Some will fall and discourage us. But God is always faithful. He is on the throne in heaven no matter who on earth claims Him as their own.
Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.