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

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my  infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.  — 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

The apostle Paul wrote those words just after he was caught up into the heavenly realm and heard things that cannot be told. I’m struck by two things as I read this passage.

  1. God is sovereign over our trials.
  2.  God’s grace is sufficient during our trials.

Paul was given ‘a thorn in the flesh’. We don’t know what this was, but we do know it wasn’t beyond God’s control. The text says it was a messenger of Satan to harass Paul. Immediately I think of the story of Job. God allowed Satan to attack Job, his family, and his property, but all within the scope of God’s rule and dominion. Satan was permitted to go so far when dealing with Job.

Paul’s thorn may have come by means of Satan, but it wasn’t outside of God’s control. The text doesn’t tell us God gave Satan permission the same way we are told about what happened to Job, but we do know God allowed it for His purposes because Paul tell us the thorn was given to keep him from being too conceited. Satan isn’t concerned with Paul NOT being conceited, so this must be the work of God, or, at least, allowed by God for His purposes.

Although we don’t know what the ‘thorn’ was, Paul goes on to highlight other trials he had suffered. In verse 10 he speaks of infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, and distresses. If you study the life of Paul, you find this list is short. He suffered many things.

By citing these in the same passage as the thorn, Paul is saying these things also serve the sovereign purpose of God. In fact, he tells the reader that he suffers these things ‘for the sake of Christ.’ So, God has a purpose in Paul’s suffering. In Philippians 1 Paul says it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard that his imprisonment was for Christ. All of Paul’s sufferings serve a purpose – some advance the Gospel, some teach him humility, some teach him to find satisfaction in God alone no matter his circumstances.

What do you think the purpose of your current trials are? What is God doing in your life? Is he showing forth His power in your weakness? Do you believe your trials are under His control?

Be assured, trials are as much ordained for you as those of Job and Paul.

Paul knows his trials are ordained for him because he pleaded three times with the Lord about the thorn. God gave an answer in verse 9, “My grace is sufficient for thee…” We may not hear directly from God as Paul did, but we can have just as much certainty that our trials serve God’s purposes. God’s grace is sufficient for you and me and the trials we face today.

Do you see what God is telling you from Paul’s letter. In this text, the living Word of God, the Holy Spirit is saying, “God is sovereign over your life, He hasn’t abandoned you, He hasn’t given up on you, in fact, your trials are evidence that he is working in and through you – for your good and His exaltation.”

Some things can only be learned, truly learned and understood, by being there and going through the situation. We all know the phrase, “You had to be there.” The sufficiency of God’s grace through trials functions this way – you have to experience it to really understand. We can read it in the text, we can even teach it, but until we have pleaded with God and wrestled with our own hearts we can’t know God’s sustaining grace.

This may be one reason God allows our suffering – it is a means of allowing us to know Him intimately as Sustainer, Provider, Comforter. The only way we can know God’s comforting grace is to first be uncomfortable. The only way we can appreciate God’s provision is to find ourselves in need and then see God provide.

But God’s grace doesn’t always come in the form of physical, tangible help. This is part of the lesson Paul learned. To the person who has learned God’s grace, it provides more security than a  full pantry, a large bank account, or a perfectly healthy body.

God’s sufficient grace sustains weak people, not by giving them power or strength, but by highlighting the power of God and directing us to rely on Him. God told Paul, “my strength (God’s strength) is made perfect in weakness.” Paul says, therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses. Paul doesn’t say God would strengthen him and therefore Paul would have reason to boast. No, Paul will boast, even when remaining weak, because in his weakness the power of Christ rest upon him (verse 9).

True suffering is to suffer a soul which doubts the sovereignty of God, or a heart which doesn’t trust Christ in the midst of trials. True suffering is to suffer in this world and not learn or understand God’s all-sufficient grace. Paul pleaded three times and then heard from God and yielded to God’s will. We mentally know God’s grace is sufficient, but until we yield to the sovereign purposes of God, we will struggle to understand God’s grace.

The ultimate example of yielding to God’s purposes is found in the story of Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26). Christ, like Paul, pleaded with the Father three times. Christ yielded to the Father’s will; the cross was the result. The suffering of Christ served the pinnacle of God’s purposes.

God was sovereign over Paul’s trials and over Christ crucifixion; God is sovereign over our trials as well. God’s grace was enough for Paul and you can trust that God’s grace is sufficient for the trials you are enduring today.

 

Join CHEA and Family Protection Ministries as we meet February 8-11 in Sacramento. We will meet our newly elected or returning state legislators to create a visible presence and positive impression of private Christian home education. Then gather with other leaders for training, refreshment, and encouragement. Also planned is a tour of the Capitol Building on February 9, Capitol Day. Capitol tour is optional. Choose to attend just the Capitol Day ($15), just the leadership Conference ($65), or both ($80).

Topics will include:

  • Homeschooling against the odds: God’s faithfulness to homeschoolers California
  • The government’s role in education, the liberal agenda, and our parents’ rights
  • History of homeschool battles in California
  • Fostering a sense of advocacy in your group: How to get them to join the battle
  • Tour of the Capitol Building
  • And more

“The freedoms we have today were not handed to us by gracious and generous government officials. The political and philosophical make-up of our current government is not any more disposed to respect or protect the parental right to educate our children at home than it has been in the past. We need to pass on the history and the memories that we have to those taking up the torch so that they too can understand the battle and engage in it. They can’t do this if they don’t have a knowledge of what has been done by those that have gone before them.”

Nathan B. Pierce, Family Protection Ministries

Capitol Day – For Families and Leaders

Registration is now open to homeschool group leaders and private, Christian, homeschool families who wish to participate.

Capitol Day is an event where homeschool families will be able to participate (subject to registration approval) in visiting our newly elected and returning legislature. Those interested can start the registration process by purchasing tickets. (The ticket price includes one meal.) You will be contacted to confirm whether your registration was approved. We recommend you wait for confirmation of approval before making any non-refundable travel plans. If confirmed, you will also receive a preparation packet prior to the event. The full price of tickets purchased for Capitol Day that are not confirmed will be refunded. We encourage you to please share this event with your homeschooling friends.

Homeschool group leaders and those interested in leading private Christian homeschool groups are also encouraged to attend this very important event. The more our legislators become familiar with private homeschooling and can see for themselves the positive results, the better chance we have to keep our homeschool freedoms and parental rights protected in California.

Note: All students and parents who want to visit the legislature need to attend the training class on Thursday, February 9 at 8:00 a.m.

Children at Capitol Day? Children who are well-dressed, well-behaved, and able to sit through a business meeting are welcome to attend with their parents.

Leadership Conference – For Leaders Only

This is geared for those in leadership of private Christian homeschool groups. Topics and discussions have been chosen with the express intent to minister to, inspire, and equip homeschool leaders in their ministry to the homeschool community and to help them foster a sense of advocacy in their groups.

Children at the Leadership Conference? This is an adult only event. There is no accommodation for children and no childcare. Nursing infants are welcome.

Deadline to Register – The last day to register for both events is Monday, January 30, 2017.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Register Here

Updated Schedule of Events

Feb 8-11, 2017 - Sacramento, CA

All meetings, with the exception of meeting with the legislature and Capitol Tour will be held at Arcade Church, 927 Marconi Ave, Sacramento, CA 95821

Meeting the legislature and the Capitol tour will be held at California State Capitol, 10th and L Streets, Sacramento, CA 95814

Capitol Day Now open to private Christian homeschool families, as well as, leaders. Cost includes a boxed lunch.

February 8 (Wednesday)

6:30 p.m.. Check-in Arcade Church

7:00-9:00 p.m. Keynote 1 Fostering a Sense of Advocacy, Part 1 – Nathan Pierce

February 9 (Thursday)

8:00-11:00 a.m. – Capitol Day Training – All students and parents who want to visit the legislature need to attend.

11:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m. – Lunch near Capitol (pre-ordered box lunches included)

1:00-4:30 p.m. – Meeting legislators/aides and Capitol Tour to be followed by a no-host dinner.

February 10 (Friday)

9:00-10:30 am – Capitol Day debriefing meeting

Keynote 2 Homeschooling Against the Odds: God’s Faithfulness to Homeschooling in California

Lunch on own

Sightseeing time in Old Sac

Leadership Conference For Leaders of private Christian homeschool groups. Cost includes dinner and dessert on Friday and lunch and refreshments on Saturday

February 10 (Friday)

2:30-3:00 p.m. Check-in. Fellowship Hall

3:00-4:00 p.m. Keynote 3 Leadership Lessons Learned – Susy Beatty

5:00-6:00 p.m. catered dinner (Arcade Church)

6:00-7:00 pm Keynote 4 Threats to Homeschool Freedom Today – Mike Smith

7:00-8:00 pm. – Dessert and coffee fellowship

February 11 (Saturday)

9:00-10:00 am –  Session 1 Town hall meeting

10:00-10:30 a.m. – Coffee break

10:30-11:30 a.m. – Session 2 breakout workshops

  • Fostering a Sense of Advocacy, Part Two: What To Do When You Go Home – Nathan Pierce
  • Getting Young People Involved in Civic Issues – Robyn Nordell
  • To Be Announced

11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m. – Lunch and Keynote 5 History of Homeschool Battles in CA (Panel)

1:30-2:30 p.m.– Session 3 breakout workshops

  • Help Your Families to Not Jump Ship: God’s Provision for Private Christian Home Education – Dennie Booth
  • The Role of Prayer in Homeschool Leadership – Jim & Judy Davis
  • No Nonsense Leadership – Kim Garroutte

2:30-3:00 p.m. – Coffee break

3:00-4:00 p.m. – Session 4 breakout workshops

  • Group Health & Safety Policies – Mary Schofield
  • Helping Families in Trouble – Dennie Booth
  • Homeschooling & Parental Rights: Freedom Under Fire – Mike Smith

4:15-5:15 p.m. – Closing session Keynote 6

Register Here

 

 

I am a father.

I have six children and love every one of them.

Being president of the United States couldn’t be a better job than this. The next generation has been entrusted to my care. They need protection, provision, and love. They need discipline and training. I’m happy to do these things.

I am a father.

God has given me the duty and privilege of telling my children about Him. I love to share the Scriptures with them, to tell them about the Creator. I love sharing with them about what Christ has done for them.

Ephesians six explains my job description – raise my children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. That’s it – simple, yet glorious.

I love my job. My greatest joy is telling my children about the Lord. What greater joy, and what greater job could there be?

I am a father.

Being a father is difficult at times. It’s filled with joy, but I can’t deny the truth. There are times when I’m exhausted and find it difficult to love my children the way I should. But, it’s my job and I keep at it.

Life would be easier if my wife and I lived alone. But, it wouldn’t be filled with little feet, tiny hugs, and small wonders. These moments make the job worthwhile. They make me smile. My children light up my life.

I am a father.

Some nights are restless. My two little ones crawl into my bed and squeeze me to the edge. I cling, half asleep, to the little space they assign to me. If I move too fast I’ll likely fall to the carpet.

My back hurts when I wake for work. But I look at those little ones in bed with my wife, all three sleeping peacefully, and I am again filled with joy.

But my back hurts. And I’m tired. I have a full day of work ahead of me. After work I have other duties. I don’t have time to do all the things I need to do. Do I have time to spend with the kids?

I must find the time. The job isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. God helps me each day.

I am a father.

I really don’t know what I’m doing. Not that I’ve just discovered this, but the reality if fresh. How is any father to know what to do? The job description is wonderful, but it doesn’t come with a manual. Lord, help me.

What am I to do when my children reach driving age, working age, dating age? Is there a dating age? What passage of Scripture can help me with this question?

I know Scripture is sufficient and gives me all I need to accomplish what God has called me to do, but the answers aren’t sitting on the surface. Lord, teach me your Word, teach me to be a good father.

This job is difficult. My kids have questions I can’t answer, they have needs I can’t meet, they have problems I can’t solve.

They wear me out.

I am a father.

The good news about this job is that I don’t do it alone. I am a father, but I also have a Father. God is my Father and my help. He gave me the job, He gave me the kids, and He gives me the strength each day to succeed.

The thing my children need most isn’t me, their father. They need God the Father to be their Father.

Part of my job, the most important part, is to point them toward God, to proclaim to them the excellencies of Christ. Union with Christ will answer their deepest questions, it will meet their greatest needs, it will solve their greatest problems.

I have a Father. The thing my children need most is the thing I also need most – to draw close to their Father.

My job description comes from Him. My job description is Him. My job is to be like Christ. And it’s impossible. Without God I cannot be the father I need to be. But with God’s help, I can be a good father to my children. With God’s help, I can rise each day with joy and energy. With God’s help I can succeed.

I have a Father. My Father is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. My Father is Creator of the universe. My Father knows what I need and what my children need each moment of each day. Because of this I can be a good father. He is my comfort, my strength, my joy.

I have a Father.

I have the best job description in the world. I love what I do. I wake each day with purpose.

What a joy! What a job!

I am a father.

 

by David West

Need a little activity to occupy the kids while you wrap gifts?

Here is a Christmas crossword puzzle which you can print.

(You might even have fun with it yourself.)

Christmas Crossword

     I was born loving words. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been writing stories. One evening I was writing a story. It was about slaves and kings and tyrants and heroes. The characters consisted of mermaids, talking animals, and even mutated creatures. It was altogether very exciting. But as I wrote about these mutated creatures I didn’t feel quite right about it. I wondered about my story. It had a good plot, yes, good characters and smashing dialogue, but all that mattered little if it wasn’t what my Lord wanted. It was garbage if it did not glorify God. So, I poured myself into a prayer. I asked God, “Is it wrong to write about such things?” Then I said, “I will think about it and I will wait for You to answer. I will read my devotions, then I will get ready for bed.”

     So, I went to my room, sat on the rug and opened my ‘Our Daily Bread’ booklet. It said to read Leviticus 19:9-18. I read one extra verse, but not intentionally– my eyes just skipped down and read verse 19, before I knew it.

“You must keep my statutes. You must not allow two kinds of animals to breed…” (Leviticus 19:19)

In less than two minutes I had my answer.  God cares about the smallest of details; even things we consider too trivial to pray about. We often go through the day, encumbered by small problems, but we don’t bring them to the Lord because we think we can handle them ourselves. Yet God wants us to tell every thought.

“…bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (1 Corinth. 10:5)

Let’s include God in every detail. He loves it when we do so.

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.”   (Psalm 37:23)

About Sarah Kozycz: I was born loving words, and ever since I can remember, I’ve been writing stories. Now, I am more than dabbling in the art of authorship. Over five years spent with my family as missionaries in Paraguay, South America has given me a broader outlook on life. It also strengthened my love for stories, words, and people.

The other night I sat in a pew watching three of my childrendavid-jane-sarah-1978-bible-character-day perform in a musical. They were dressed as if they were living in first century Bethlehem. The story was fictional but was set within the larger story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus. I enjoyed watching my kids sing and act, and they enjoyed performing.

Normally I’m not a big fan of musicals, but I’m a big fan of my children and love to watch them perform. As I watched them the other night, I was particularly moved to joy. I wondered why? What was it about watching them sing and act while dressed in Bible costumes which resonated inside me?

I recall my own days of acting out scenes from Scripture. The Christian school I attended sponsored a “Bible Costume Day” each year. Students came dressed up as Bible characters. Prizes were given for the best costume and for acting out scenes from Bible stories.

(I’m on the left in this picture and eight years old)

My middle name is David (I’ve always been known by my middle name) and my friend in school had the middle name Jonathan. Guess what story we acted out one year? That’s right – the story of Jonathan and David. My friend pretended to shoot arrows and I pretended to be hidden behind some rocks. We were friends in real life playing the role of two friends found in Scripture.

Another year I went to school dressed like Aaron the high priest. My mom was creative that year and my costume won a prize. I wore a tunic to school that day but I wasn’t embarrassed; we were all doing it. Our principal was tall and acted out the role of Zacchaeus one year. We had Sycamore trees lining an area of grass at the school and he climbed up into one of them. I don’t recall what he did once he was in the tree, but it was all great fun.

It was more than just fun, it was reinforcement. Acting out Bible stories, dressing in priestly garb, and watching my school principal up in a tree, kept the Bible stories at the front and center of my life. At school, home, and church there was a cohesive narrative, a unity. I was being taught that Bible stories weren’t for church only. The stories were also reinforced at home and at school. Scripture was talked about constantly when I was young and this was helpful for me.

I want the same for my children. I want them to know God and His Word. I want them constantly surrounded by Scripture. Whether at the dinner table, during the school day at home, in choir, and, of course, at church.

All this was going through my mind as I sat watching my children sing and act. I enjoyed the show, but also, and even more so, I appreciated the reinforcement. Bible stories are becoming a part of the fabric of their lives. They are learning them in various ways and from various people.

While watching them perform the other night in Bible costume, God opened my eyes and allowed me to see Him at work. He has allowed me to live in a place where my children are surrounded by Biblical themes. The things I’m teaching them at home are being reinforced in many places and in various ways. Because of this I am eternally grateful.

by David West

Unfortunately, the 2017 Homeschool Conference has been cancelled this year. If you require more information please send us an email. 

At the age of thirteen Ayn Rand wrote in her diary, “Today I decided to become an atheist.”

Those words stand in stark contrast to those written in the front of Wayne Grudem’s book “Systematic Theology”.

Grudem says thanks to “my Baptist pastor, who awakened in me a love for systematic theology by teaching a class on Christian doctrine when I was thirteen years old.”

As I considered this contrast I was struck (not by the two very different experiences) but by the age thirteen. Children are capable of thinking through issues and forming conclusions at young ages. Not only are they capable, but they’re forming opinions about ultimate issues anyway, whether we realize it or not.They won’t have fully developed views and they will get many things wrong, but they are forming opinions nevertheless. It’s our job to help them through this process. It’s our job to help them arrive at conclusions grounded in Scripture. We don’t need to hide from other philosophies but must help our children know how to understand opposing worldviews.

To be prepared for life, children need to understand the dominant philosophy of the culture around them. The world is filled with materialist and naturalist – those who believe only in the natural world and reject anything supernatural. These people mock Christian beliefs, pass laws which suppress Christian morality, and think Christians are strange. We shouldn’t be surprised by this; Jesus warned His disciples about the hatred of the world (John 15).

We need to prepare our children for this antagonism. At the same time, we don’t want them to fear the world or it’s ideas. We want them to pursue the world with the love of Christ and the truth of God’s Word. Our children won’t be able to share God’s truth if they don’t know it intimately. And they won’t be effective at reaching the lost if they don’t understand what motivates the world.

How does a non-Christian think? What is the unsaved person seeking? Why do they hate Christ?

To help our children understand the world around them is a tricky endeavor. The world is a cesspool and we don’t it’s filth rubbing off on our children. But children rub up against the world even in the most sheltered home. There is no escape, only wisdom and discernment.

truth-lies-picture

As I teach my children about Christ, the big issues of life, and the world around them, one subject has recently grabbed my attention more than others – the theory of evolution. Charles Darwin was wrong about origins, but his theory, and its descendants and offshoots, permeate our culture. I can’t keep my children from this theory – it’s in books, on television, and basically everywhere – but I can prepare them to face it wisely.

Creation Science has always interested me and I’ve read several books on the topic, but I’d never read much by evolutionist. Now that I have, I’m glad I did.  In an effort to prepare my children to face the world, I’ve finally read Darwin myself. Then after “On The Origin of Species” I read a book by one of today’s leading atheist. It’s fascinating to see things from the perspective of an unbeliever.

Charles Darwin had a powerful mind and asked a lot of good questions. Unfortunately he arrived at the wrong answers. Reading his book reminded me of God’s common grace. The ability to think and reason and do scientific experiments are all possible because God gave us minds to use as we explore His world. But as Christians we realize our minds are fallen (Genesis 3) and we have rejected God as Creator (Romans 1). This was Darwin’s problem. His view of origins was tainted by his fallenness.

This year my teen girls are reading several apologetic books. We are discussing them together in an effort to see the truth of God’s Word in contrast to the folly of the world. I helping them think about the big issues of life through the lens of Scripture. Of course I don’t have all the answers. But I’m the dad and this is my job. It’s my job to teach them about Christ and about the world God has called them to live in. It’s my job to be a faithful dad and by God’s grace my children will be Grudem teens rather than Rand teens.

Gray Lodge is a 9,200 acre expanse of protected wetlands offering trails, bird-watching, fishing and hunting.

greylodge-1

We will meet at the trail head (parking lot #14) at 9:30 am on Wednesday, November 16th. We will be taking a self-guided tour, so there is no limit on the number of people allowed to join us. There is a $5 day pass fee for everyone over the age of 16.

Address: 3207 Rutherford Rd, Gridley, CA 95948

If you are interested in joining us please call Kristen at 530.301.4856