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Archives - October 2016

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Headmaster's Blog

Archives - October 2016

Knowing with Certainty in this New Dark Age

October 26, 2016
By John Morrison

In last week’s blog entitled “The New Dark Ages, ” I described the rapid descent of our culture into a “politically correct” mindset that has largely divorced itself from traditional Christian values.  In the face of this rapid societal shift, I stated: “we are seeing so-called Christian ministries and church leaders calling for a revision of long-standing traditions and standards in order to embrace this post-Christian, cultural mindset.  In other words, much of the religious community is assimilating itself into the larger culture by adopting its humanistic values rather than standing for Biblical standards.

In the context of these swirling currents of social upheaval, the fundamental question we must answer is simply this: “How do we determine what is truth about God and His values as they apply to our lives and how we educate our children?”  There is really no issue more fundamental than this.  And when we think it through, we discover there are really only two, fundamental possibilities.

On the one hand, we can start with man and his finite speculations and opinions about truth.  Even religious man can merely theorize about God and His nature and project his human ideas about what he thinks God should be like and what values are appropriate.   As the bottom line, this religious humanism is characterized by finite man spouting his mere opinions about the infinite God.  And, as should be obvious, the finite can do nothing more than speculate about the infinite.  Isn’t this what we see in much of the religious community … man imposing his opinions on what he thinks God should be like?  Isn’t this the basis for the growing number of denominations and groups which  are choosing to abandon orthodox concepts of God that were based on the Scripture and early traditions?

On the other hand, we can start with God.  In the Christian context, God is not only infinite, but also personal.  As infinite, He is transcendent, meaning that He is big enough to be our absolute reference point for knowing the truth.  And as personal, He communicates Himself to man.  The Christian claim is that He has communicated Himself, by Himself, through His Incarnation as God the Son.  Of Jesus Christ, the apostle John writes: “He has explained God [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known]” (John 1:18 NAS/AMP).

These are some of the most profound words ever written, in that they answer this fundamental philosophic question: “How can we know, and how can we know with certainty?”  The simple fact is that finite man, starting with himself, cannot know with certainty.  But if we start with the infinite God, and that same God speaks to man in a personal manner, then we can know with certainty, because our knowledge is based upon the absolute Being of God who has revealed His truth in human terms to mankind.  Furthermore, we believe this personal God has spoken His inspired word to us through the Bible.  These are not unreasonable claims because they are intellectually consistent with the existence of an infinite and personal God.

This basis for knowing, which starts with God rather than man, is a sharp-edged sword that cuts decisively through the lie of secularist culture.  That is, man’s opinions about truth are nothing more than his finite, humanistic speculations.  But God, who is absolute, does not change His mind about truth and such issues, say, as marriage, sexual morality, and other fundamental ethical issues.  

What does this have to do with us as Christian parents and educators?  Indeed, it is the “first principle” for how we should educate our children.  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge … and wisdom” (Prov. 1:7; 9:10).  An education built on any other foundation is ultimately false.  So Martin Luther stated: “I am very much afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth.  I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount.”  Can we not see the devastating impact a secular education has had upon several generations of youth and our nation?

This is such a simple premise; yet, over 90% of Christian parents are opting for a secular education for their children.  How can this be?  Where is the disconnect?  

What do we really believe about God, His word, and its importance in undergirding the very essence of our lives and, through education, that of our children?  Can there be any higher priority for the Christian community?

If you would like to respond to this blog, please email John Morrison at grace@gcswarriors.org.

The New Dark Age

October 20, 2016
By John Morrison

It does not take a professional historian or social scientist to recognize that we are first hand witnesses to the rapid descent of our culture into what many are calling “the new dark age.”  Some might view this statement as alarmist exaggeration; however, many careful students of world cultures would agree that American society is experiencing dramatic shifts unlike anything previously experienced in our history.

Over the course of our democratic form of government, while there has always been passionate debate, there was a least a degree of civility and respect between “liberals” and “conservatives” (whatever those terms may mean!) in being willing to compromise politically, as necessary, to represent the best interests of the larger society. This tension between opposing positions and a willingness to give and take has often been identified as a strength of our form of government, at least in the past.  

Now, there is a hardening polarization between the left and the right characterized by an unwillingness to meet in the middle ground of political moderation.

Even more ominous is the emergence of the very aggressive agenda of the radical left which has no intention of tolerating those who represent a more traditional set of values and ideals.  Speaking to the Women of the World Summit, one of the current presidential candidates stated:"... deep seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”  While these remarks were limited to the issue of women's reproductive health care, one must ask with the USA Today editorialist commenting on this speech just who this candidate thinks she is to suggest what is and is not appropriate religious belief for the masses.  

The point is that the radical left has no intention of respectfully meeting those with a traditional, religious bent half way.  We see this reflected increasingly upon our major university campuses, where the so-called freedom of speech of those articulating traditional values is being aggressively shut down by the “social justice warriors” advocating their so-called politically correct view. Preaching “tolerance,” they actually are practicing aggressive intolerance toward those representing a traditional mindset.  This is a sad commentary on the demise of the liberal arts educational tradition characterized by the free, respectful exchange of competing ideas at, of all places, the university!

For Christians, and for Christian parents more particularly, these dynamics are quickly overtaking us where we live our everyday lives.  For example, Campus Pride, an LGBTQ organization backed by a number of well-known corporate sponsors, is calling on major corporations to refuse to hire graduates from over 100 prominent Christian universities and colleges because those institutions’ stand for Biblical values.  Or there is Gordon College, a prominent Christian institution in Massachusetts which was recently faced with the potential loss of accreditation because of its alignment with traditional values.  Or consider InterVarsity, which because it is upholding traditional marriage and sexual standards as a prerequisite for their staff, was recently smeared and misrepresented in an article by Time magazine decrying InterVarsity’s “intolerance.”  Sadly, I have a rapidly growing folder of articles documenting these increasing.y aggressive attacks on Christian institutions and individuals.

Even more sadly, we are seeing other so-called Christian ministries and church leaders calling for a modification of long-standing traditions and standards in order to embrace the “politically correct” mindset of our modern culture.  (I wonder, has God changed His mind concerning such fundamental values?)

All of this is happening at an almost unbelievable pace.  As Christians, we must not have our heads in the sand; rather, we must be like “the sons of Issachar … who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Ch 12:32).  

In future blogs, I would like to focus in more specifically on the potential ramifications of how all of these rapidly changing dynamics are affecting us as Christian parents, and how we can best shepherd our children through these daunting challenges.  May God give us much wisdom, discernment and vision for the days ahead!

 

If you would like to respond to this blog, please email John Morrison at grace@gcswarriors.org.

A coram Deo Reprise!

October 12, 2016
By John Morrison

We have received so much good feedback concerning our “coram Deo” worldview emphasis and the recent “rolling out” of our original coram Deo song, written by Marc Kinder.  We have actually had requests from outside our immediate school community from different ones to use this song in their own organizations!  So, in this week’s blog, let me share with you, in his own words, Marc Kinder’s account of how the song was inspired.  It is quite worth the read!

Thanks, Marc, for all of your time and effort with this.  You are a God-gifted man and, more particularly, God’s gift to the body of Christ!  Thank you for serving our school and local faith community so well, and over so many years!

So, in Marc’s own words …

***********************

Asking me to describe the writing process of this song is a lot like asking a painter to write down his meanderings while waiting for his latest brushstrokes to dry. So, here's more than you asked for…

You could say that the song is a "commissioned piece." My wife, Joanne (our elementary/middle school principal) came home and asked if I knew a theme song to coincide with the school's new "coram Deo" motto. We ran through almost 40 years of praise choruses, hymns, etc. and a number of them (not surprisingly) had aspects of this theme.  But, she is a literal creature. She wanted lyrics that clearly laid out “In the presence, under the authority, and for the glory of God." So, she asked me to consider writing a song to reinforce the concept during elementary chapel services.

Since I am a man of "inspiration more than perspiration" I agreed since a good deal of my current meditations were on this very topic.  (Two birds with one stone; glorify God and earn points with my wife? I'm in!)

I first started out by thinking about the implications of "coram Deo."  Years ago, when I first came across the term it gave me that uneasy feeling, like the holiday song says " you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why..."  Coram Deo.

I took several years of Latin in middle and high school, so "coram" was a familiar word.  "Coram judice” is the legal term for appearing before a bona fides judge in order to receive a verdict of guilt or innocence. Or, as we say in the South, "getting hauled up in front of the judge."

In my own eyes,I have a dismal track record of failure and chronic under- achievement. So, coram Deo is an uncomfortable concept.  Here’s a relevant quote from C.S Lewis's Perelandra ” As long as what you are afraid of is something evil, you may still hope that the good may come to your rescue. But suppose you struggle through to the good and find that it is also dreadful? How if food itself turns out to be the very thing you can't eat, and home the very place you can't live, and your very comforter the person who makes you uncomfortable? Then, indeed, there is no rescue possible: the last card has been played.”

But, taking this very real facet of coram Deo  I then  applied a prodigal amount of the Gospel... And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God….. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor 4:4-6) Coram Deo!

The Gospel completely changes the meaning of “coram Deo.” Paul’s letter to the Ephesians beautifully paints this picture of God adopting us as sons because He has this mega-narrative that He has planned before the world was made. My life was made for a purpose; to enter into His life.  This truth was the basis for the song’s verses “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which He prepared beforehand” (Eph. 2:10).  This is how the song began to take on more of a declaration theme. “I am getting a glimpse of what you are doing Father, and I am “all in!”

The big clincher for me with this theme was when Joanne and I were watching the Olympics this summer. We were watching the individual diving competition. There were three distinct ways that the diver was being watched. The first observer of the diver was the judge (coram judice.) The judge's job was to scrutinize each nuance then deduct points for every imperfection in the performance. The second observer was the television commentator. This person's job was also to be very judgemental of the diver’s performance.  Even though his judgment didn't count, (coram non judice)  it colored the  television viewers’ estimation of the performance. But for me, the light came on when I saw the camera pan over to the diver’s father. No one saw the diver like he saw the diver. Not the judge, not the commentator, not even the coach nor the crowds. He saw his son. The father’s whole focus was on his son. He saw everything. His entire being was “with” his son. During the dive you could see the father twist and dip, turn and flex in perfect sync with his son’s performance. And when it was completed, well before any numbers showed up on the scoreboard, the father erupted with wholehearted, unbridled joy in his son’s dive.

In the early days of my faith we used to sing a scripture song from Zephaniah 3:17  “The Lord our God is in our midst, the Lord of Hosts who saves. He will rejoice over you with joy, He will renew you in His love. He will rejoice over you with shouts of Joy!.......”  Coram Deo

It’s from this idea that the song’s bridge became a declaration of praise to God “Hallelujah! To the glory of Your name!”  I hope the song’s melody imparts the pleasure of performing in front of the One who loves me, and is pouring out His strength and encouragement to enable me to do rightly.

Wow! Quite an explanation for 2 verses, a chorus and a bridge!

********************

I've included the lyrics to the song below, and the link to the song is posted above.

Coram Deo by Marc Kinder

Coram Deo! Coram Deo!
Before the face of God I live my days.
In all I do and say, Your name be praised!

You made me for good works in Christ
You planned them before I was formed.
A holy, living sacrifice
That’s why I’ve been reborn!

Coram Deo! Coram Deo!
Before the face of God I live my days.
In all I do and say Your name be praised!

I will follow Your commands Oh, God
Faithful in all my ways.
My heart and soul,  mind and strength
Are for Your glory all of my days!

Coram Deo! Coram Deo!
Before the face of God I live my days.
In all I do and say Your name be praised!

Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
For the glory of Your Name!

 

If you would like to respond to this blog, please email John Morrison at grace@gcswarriors.org.

Special Parents' Meeting

October 05, 2016
By John Morrison

GCS parents … please take special note of the following!  (For my non-GCS parent readers, please bear with me this week as I utilize my “blog” for this important parent announcement.)

This Tuesday night, October 11, at the high school, we will host a very special parent meeting, with a unique format, as described below.  As a part of our covenant community, we hope each set of parents will make every effort to attend this special event!

6:30-7:00 pm Ice breaker and small groups, intro from the GCS Board of Trustees, etc.

7:00-7:45 pm  Parents can choose to go to one presentation from the following topics:

1.  Helicopter  vs. Free Range Parenting - Parenting Tips (All Grades)
     Presented by Josh Keene

Finding the healthy balance between the two can be difficult, but we'll look at these two extremes through the lens of the systemic funnel and identify what a healthy parenting style truly looks like and discuss ways that we can get there, and support each other in the process. We'll focus on revolutionary parenting through the use of natural consequences and empowering your child to be more active in their own spiritual gifts in order to develop their own faith in the Lord.

 2.  To See or Not To See.  That Is the Question - Screening Entertainment Choices (ES-MS)
      Presented by Robert and Cathy Brent

Social media, internet technology, and mobile devices have revolutionized society within the last decade.  This new frontier provides great opportunities as well as dangerous minefields for young men and women.  In this session, we will explore parenting strategies for helping our teens navigate this minefield.

3.  Spiritual Growth is about Body Issues (MS-HS)
     Presented by Brian Fitzgerald and Larry Barrett

How many students feel like they're thriving spiritually? Could a sense of failure be an issue of unrealistic expectations or a misunderstanding of how we grow in Christ-likeness? In this session, learn how spiritual disciplines help us become more like Jesus.  You'll walk away with four spiritual disciplines that you can help your student practically and realistically practice which will shape their character to be more like Christ.

4.  Listen Up - Listening & Following Directions (PS-3rd Grade)
     Presented by Jan Ingram    

Do you ever get frustrated when your kids don't listen? Is a lack of cooperation a problem your family is facing? Come learn an instruction routine that will build character through the everyday tasks of life.

5.  Devos for the Kiddos - Family Devotions (PS-3rd Grade)
     Presented by Kristi Pananas

Devotions sound like a good idea but how, when and why should parents implement family devotions?  Find out why a devotion time with your young children can lead to a deeper and stronger relationship especially necessary when the teen years hit.

6.  Taming the Homework Beast - Study Skills/Homework (Upper ES/MS)
     Presented by Mary Ellen Barrett

Sometimes just a few homework helps or study skills tips can take the edge off this potentially stressful evening activity. Come and learn some skills and ideas for managing homework, along with ways to create a positive learning environment at home.


7:45-8:15 pm  Parent Social hosted by the GCS Board of Trustees

If you would like to respond to this blog, please email John Morrison at grace@gcswarriors.org.

Hope to see you Tuesday evening at the high school campus!!!

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