Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.
Romans 12:12

Another Deep Question

I wrote recently about a profound question from my 12-year-old-boy. This post is about my daughter. She’s only eight years old but her mind fastens upon questions much older, ancient questions, questions the great thinkers and theologians have debated. These questions pass through her mind and slip from her mouth, befuddling those around her. Last night she asked another big one, “If God hates sin so much, why didn’t He stop Adam and Eve from sinning?”

Let’s just stop right here. What? You’re eight years old. Don’t you have questions about dolls or bunnies or clouds? Don’t you want to know why the sky is blue or how birds fly? Oh, that’s right, you’ve asked about birds flying, haven’t you? Just the other day you said, “Look at those three birds. They are flying without moving their wings. How do they do that?”

She had seen three vultures circling above. They floated on the wind currents and didn’t flap their wings. So, she asked the question. Is it normal to ask such questions? I don’t know. Her older siblings asked questions as they grew, but I don’t recall them asking the same types of questions.

As bedtime approached, I was working up an answer about why God didn’t stop Adam and Eve from sinning. My mind wrestled with the best explanation to give an eight-year-old (and the best explanation to understand it myself). I lay on my bed as she was in the other room getting into her pajamas. I planned to give her an answer while I tucked her in and prayed with her. But it didn’t happen. The day had been a tiring one for me. My mind was exhausted, my body was spent. As I lay there formulating an answer, my eyes closed, and I fell asleep. When I awoke my daughter, and the rest of the household, were asleep.

I had missed my chance and was angry with myself. In the morning I sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and watched the sun illuminate the morning sky. And then it struck me. A great truth comforted me. I fell asleep last night but God didn’t. I am weak, but He is strong. I fail as a father, but God never fails. The sun rises each day announcing that God is still on His throne. Even though I didn’t give my daughter an answer, things would still be okay. God wouldn’t fail her – even if I did.

She walked into the kitchen just as those thoughts were in my mind. Rubbing her eyes, hair hanging over her face and waving wildly on top of her head, she came to me and hugged me. And then I took a stab at answering her question.

“Honey, last night you asked about sin and why God didn’t stop Adam and Eve from sinning. This is a difficult thing to understand but I’m glad you are asking such important questions. Here’s one answer that might help.”

I gave her the best answer I could about sin and God and how God’s highest priority is not only to stop sin but to glorify Himself. This happened at the cross where sin was dealt a deadly blow. “Did that answer your question, honey?”

“Yes.” She smiled, then opened the back door and went out to play. The sun shone a little brighter (at least it seemed to) as I took another sip of coffee and thanked God for His goodness.

Why We Homeschool

*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

A Profound Question from a Twelve-Year-Old

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.

I Can’t Save My Children

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.

Picnic Recap

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.

Welcome

Established in 1984, SCOPE is a nonprofit Christian organization that seeks to advance home education.

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