Grace Christian School

Archives - March 2017

Recent Posts

5/15/19 - By Donald M. Larson, PhD
5/1/19 - By Casey Musselman, Dean of High School Students
4/24/19 - By Casey Musselman, Dean of High School Students
4/16/19 - By John Morrison, Former GCS Head of School
4/11/19 - By Abigail Erdman, GCS 7th Grader
4/2/19 - By Robert Brent, GCS Parent
3/25/19 - By Brian Fitzgerald, High School Principal
3/12/19 - By Brian Fitzgerald, High School Principal
3/6/19 - By Brian Fitzgerald, High School Principal
2/27/19 - By Kristen Lihos, Interim Advancement Director

Headmaster's Blog

Archives - March 2017

Heartwork at GCS - Part 2: A Student Testimony and Final Update

March 30, 2017
By Brian Fitzgerald

Heartwork
Part 2:  A Student Testimony and Final Update
By Brian Fitzgerald

 

In my previous blog post, I shared about the high school’s involvement with Heartwork to raise funds to help victims of human trafficking in the Philippines. But Heartwork is not just about raising funds for necessary causes. Heartwork is focused on how we fundraise and with the goal of inspiring students to cultivate empathy for others as a way of life. Most of us, whether we’re willing to admit it or not, are far more materialistic than we would like to think. Heartwork tries to address that through empathy challenges in which students are encouraged for one week at a time to take cold showers, sleep on the floor, unplug from social media, eat rice for meals, and carry a bag of rice around with them everywhere they go. Many of our students participated in wearing “My One Shirt” and wore that shirt for thirty days to learn what it’s like to not have a lot of clothes to choose from.

These small practices change you. If you don’t believe me, try taking a cold shower – not a lukewarm shower, but a cold shower – and think about a person being forced into that situation against their will who doesn’t have the option to set the temperature to a comfortable setting. Sleep on your floor at home and think about the millions of people who don’t have the option to get up and crawl into a nice, warm bed. Eat rice for meals for one week and consider those without a wide variety of food options. These practices will change you. They help us, in a small way, see the world through someone else’s perspective. They cultivate empathy. Breaking materialism’s hold on us – what Heartwork and Axis call “voluntary slavery,” as opposed to the “involuntary slavery” of the victims of human trafficking – requires a change in our lifestyle and mindset. Empathy challenges us toward that end.

Several of our students took the empathy challenges seriously. I know of one student who hated the challenges, but chose to do them anyway. Every time he considered stopping, he couldn’t escape the thought that these kids in the Philippines don’t have the option to adjust the water temperature or crawl into their bed. His testimony was a challenge to me.

Other students quietly did the daily challenges, and I trust that the Lord worked in them in profound ways. I became aware that one of our students was doing every challenge every day, and I asked her about her experience afterward. I wanted to know what difference the challenges made in her life. After talking with her, I asked her to consider writing about her experience with the idea that we could share her testimony, and she did. I hope her testimony blesses you.


At the beginning of the 30 Days of Heartwork challenge, I had no idea how much my lifestyle would change, and how I would deepen my relationship with the Lord to a completely different level. I promised myself that I would take the challenge seriously so that I could be sure to get the most that I could out of the thirty days. I was excited about the change that I saw in my school and its environment, but most of all I was excited about having the opportunity to make a difference in these girls’ lives and also in my own life, school, and community. In one of the first days of the challenge, I really struggled with why I was actually doing Heartwork. Honestly, why would someone only wear one shirt, sleep on the floor, only eat rice and beans, and take cold showers when they do not have to do that? It all seems pretty crazy, but surprisingly many of my classmates were excited about the opportunity. I began to see change in everyone around me, and we all were loving God and learning to better love and empathize with his people. I prayed about why I was doing Heartwork, and the next day the devotional had an amazing quote by Amy Carmichael, a famous missionary who we studied in tenth grade. I knew her story, so I was already impressed by her testimony and how God worked through her. The quote was, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” This hit me, and I thought about it for days. I thought about how materialistic my society was and how I gave all of the time without truly loving. I felt ashamed that I struggled to completely love the people around me, but Jesus loved all of the time without ever thinking of Himself. I began to take the challenge even more seriously because I wanted to love like Jesus and impact others through my actions everyday. When I did this, the challenges became easy, and I found myself giving up more than I thought I ever could. The Heartwork challenge not only made me have more empathy for others, but it made me really understand what it means to “spend yourself” and truly live for God. Heartwork helped me to break away from materialistic and selfish thinking, and when I did this my relationship with God became better than it had ever been. Now I am constantly thinking about others, and I have this new desire to help people all around me.

I’m so proud of our high school students as they took Heartwork seriously, engaged with and led our chapels focusing on themes to help us empathize with others, worked with diligence and creativity and sacrifice to raise money, and did small things that no one ever saw or knew that will make a difference in our world.

As we wrap up our final fundraising for Heartwork, I’m excited to announce that our students, staff, and school community have raised about $3,700 which will go to a Child Rescue Home in the Philippines. A Colorado businessman also matched our funds up to $1360, which takes our grand total fundraising to over $5,000! We will send a check to the One Child Matters and those funds will then go to the Philippines Child Rescue Home. Make no mistake, God is using our school to make a difference in the world. What a privilege and honor!

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

Heartwork at GCS - Part 1

March 22, 2017
By Brian Fitzgerald

Heartwork at GCS
Part 1:  Summary & Senior Yard Sale
By Brian Fitzgerald, GCS High School Principal

John Morrison is out of town this and next week on a mission trip to India, so I am filling in with this encouraging report about our recent Heartwork project.

Some of you may not be aware of our involvement with Heartwork and our efforts to raise money for an organization to help victims of human trafficking in the Philippines. Here at the high school, we were blessed in November with a three-day worldview event presented by Axis, a Colorado-based organization committed to equipping the next generation of Christians to think clearly and critically about what they believe and to take ownership of their faith (visit axis.org for more information, and I would highly recommend that you sign up for their weekly email, “Culture Translator”). At the end of the seminar, Axis challenged us to move from apathy to action, and this is how we became connected with Heartwork. If Axis helps our students think critically and carefully about their faith, Heartwork helps them put that faith into action through an emphasis on “spending themselves” and providing an opportunity for them to do so.

Through Heartwork, we chose to support a Child Rescue Home in the Philippines which helps victims of human trafficking by rescuing children out of the slave trade. But they do not just rescue – they seek to restore. The home provides shelter, food, clothing, education, vocational training, and exposure to the gospel for these young, abused children. Heartwork is committed to helping students live differently as a result of the gospel, so they encourage students to raise money through spending themselves. What does this look like? It looks like cultivating empathy through empathy challenges designed to help them have an understanding of what life is like for those with less. GCS students slept on floors, took cold showers, ate rice for their meals, and wore just one shirt for thirty days straight (most of these children have only one set of clothes). Consistent with the challenge to empathize, our fundraising efforts focused on students raising money through sacrificing money otherwise spent on themselves and giving toward Heartwork. Some tithed their earnings from jobs. Some put money in a donation box that we set near our snack and soda machines. Many bought “My One Shirt” t-shirts and wore them for thirty days. The proceeds from the t-shirts went directly to our fundraising efforts. And this past Saturday, our senior class put on a yard sale at the Activities Center.

Customers examine items at the yard sale which served as a fundraiser for
the Heartwork Project conducted by the GCS Senior Class.
 

For several weeks, our senior class collected items donated from GCHS students, staff, and families. In an effort to counteract materialism, the seniors challenged their peers to donate items they do not really need or no longer use. On Friday evening, the senior class spent several hours at the Activities Center organizing and pricing hundreds of items. When I showed up on Saturday morning to help them open, I was shocked by the number of items and amount of work that went into this yard sale. Our plan was to hold the yard sale from 8-12 on Saturday, but when we arrived at 7:30, there were two vehicles in the parking lot ready to yard sale! We opened the doors then, and I would say that our busiest time was from 7:30-9:00. We had a steady flow of people throughout the morning, and the yard sale made around $850.

I'm so proud of this class for stepping up, working hard, and making this event a success. They did a great job interacting with the people coming in and out of the yard sale, and I think they represented our school well. I'm not sure what the Lord has in store for future involvement with Heartwork, but I have loved watching the students focus on others and work to help in any way they can. I do not have the most recent official count of our fundraising efforts, but it exceeds $2500 so far!

Our final Heartwork fundraising event is the student-faculty basketball game, which takes place this coming Friday, March 24th at 6:45 pm at the Activities Center. All proceeds will go toward our Heartwork fundraising efforts. We hope the Warriors’ community will come out in full force and help support our efforts to raise money to help these victims of a horrible evil.

I am so thankful for the opportunity we've been given to help in this way, and it's been a blessing to watch our students spend themselves for this cause. Our school and its students are making a difference in our world. To God be the glory!

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

Radically Different

March 15, 2017
By John Morrison

In my last two blogs, I have been quite direct in addressing the powerful dynamics that are wreaking havoc in so many of our Christian families.  In this post-Christian culture, we are seeing secularism and religious humanism (moralistic therapeutic deism) eating away like a cancer from within the professing, Christian community.  Am I being too much an alarmist with these blogs?  I think not, in that I believe we are further down the road than many realize.

In a recent piece, social commentator Rod Dreher expresses this same concern in words that surpass my own.  I hope my readers will take the time to carefully digest this excerpt from his blog dated March 10, 2017:

What we lack today is real discipleship. The philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre says that in the modern West we have come to a place where we think feelings are a reliable guide to truth. This is true in the broader culture, and it is certainly true in the culture of the contemporary church. I spoke to an Evangelical couple recently who told me that their church, which had for a long time been biblically sound and theologically conservative, changed overnight to being progressive, all for the sake of relevancy. The ministry staff even marched in the local gay pride parade. This couple was gob-smacked by what happened, and couldn’t understand how it could have happened so quickly. The answer is that when you are not firmly anchored in Scripture and the traditions of Christian thought and practice stretching back centuries, you blow wherever the winds of culture take you.

My contention is not that we should head for the hills and build metaphorical monasteries to keep the world out. That is not realistic for most of us, nor is it desirable. But I strongly believe that if our Christian families and churches are going to form generations of believers capable of bearing witness to this post-Christian culture, we are going to have to take some steps back from that culture, or it’s going to overwhelm us. It’s already happening. Popular culture does a much more effective job of catechizing our children and us than the church does. The evidence is there.

What does it mean to say “take some steps back from that culture”? First, it means withdrawal from certain formative aspects of the broader culture that make it harder to see and to serve Christ. For example, Christians have as disordered a relationship with technology as everybody else. I know churchgoing Christians who send their kids to Christian schools, and who think they’re covering all the bases, but who give their kids – even little kids – smartphones with Internet access, because they don’t want their kids to stand out as weirdoes. This is devastating, just devastating to their moral and spiritual formation, and not just because it puts a gateway to the world of hardcore pornography right into their hands.

It’s not enough to turn away from bad things. We have to turn toward good things, and deepen our relationship to the Good, the True and the Beautiful, in Christ. And we have to do that in community… .

Click here to read Dreher’s full blog.

As I blogged recently, we as Christian parents, pastors, and educators must be no less than radical in how we educate our children.  I pointed out that radical does not mean weird or far out; rather,  it simply means to be given over entirely to the basic assumptions of faith as defined by Scripture and the orthodox traditions of Christianity.  More specifically, in terms of our children’s education, we cannot mix and dilute our Christianity with secularist, pop culture assumptions about reality.  We must have the courage and vision to take an uncompromising stand when it comes to these things!


As concerns our own sphere of influence, my prayer is that God will give us the vision and courage to make Grace Christian School a community of like minded believers seeking, with all our hearts, to provide our precious little ones with an authentic Christian education that will influence them, in the midst of the larger, secular stream of culture, toward embracing vital Christian faith in their own lives!

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

The Emperor's New Clothes and Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

March 08, 2017
By John Morrison
The Tenets of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism


Last week, I focused on three terms: post-Christian, secularism, and radical.  Let me expound on these concepts by referring to a groundbreaking study conducted a number of years ago by sociologist Christian Smith, where he identified the predominant North American religion as moralistic therapeutic deism (MTD).  

MTD is all about being a good, moral person, but one who sees Christianity as primarily about personal happiness and fulfillment.  That is, God is there primarily for us, rather than the other way around.  

In his research, Smith determined that MTD, while touching upon some Christian truths, really has little to do with the deeper teachings of authentic Christianity and the call to follow Christ as Lord and as His disciples.  Smith and his team found that only forty percent of young, professing Christians indicated that their personal beliefs were based upon the Bible and the traditions of orthodox Christianity.  Consistent with the humanistic spirit of this age, rather, their "Christian" faith was based upon their own opinion of what religion should look like.

Smith suggests that MTD did not simply descend upon the younger generations out of nowhere: rather, they have adopted the religious attitudes of much of their parents' generation.  In an interview with columnist Rod Dreher,  Smith states, "America has lived a long time off its thin Christian veneer .... That [veneer] is finally being stripped away by the combination of mass consumer capitalism and liberal individualism."  Dreher puts it like this: "... either Christianity is ... degenerating into a pathetic version of itself or, more significantly, Christianity is actively being colonized and displaced by a quite different faith." This “different faith” is MTD, as documented by Smith.  Could it be that this is a fulfillment of the apostle Paul’s words in 2 Timothy that a characteristic of the last days would be the phenomenon of many who are given to a religious form which, nevertheless, denies the power and substance of the real thing?  (See 2 Tim. 3:1-5.)

So what about you and me?  Is it possible that many of us have accepted a version of Christianity that is far less than robust, in spite of our good intentions?  Are we more motivated by MTD than we may consciously realize?  Are we possibly like the king in the Hans Christian Anderson children's story The Emperor’s New Clothes, who was oblivious to his true condition?  And are we passing along an authentic, robust Christian faith to the next generation?

I find that many Christian parents seem quite concerned about providing their children a solid academic education so they can then go on to "good" colleges in order to get "good" jobs.  While we certainly must be focused on providing a sound education, should we not be far more concerned with founding our children in the fundamental values and worldview of our faith?  Is it possible, without consciously realizing it, that we may be founding them more in MTD than we are in authentic Christianity?  These are tough, but necessary questions for the honest follower of Christ.

In a post-Christian culture where secular and religious humanism (MTD) is colonizing many in the faith community, we must indeed become far more radical in how we educate our children.  I fear that much of the North American church is asleep at the wheel as our children are being overtaken by an alien worldview.  We cannot be "diplomatic" about what is happening out of fear of offending others -- including our fellow Christians -- when it comes to this most crucial issue!  Too much is at stake!

God help us have the vision and courage to be radical for Christ, including in our commitment to how our children are to be educated and mentored!

PS.  You may access a paper by Christian Smith that more fully develops his research on MTD by clicking on this link: http://www2.ptsem.edu/uploadedFiles/IYM/YCCL/Smith-Moralistic.pdf

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

Three Important Terms: "Post-Christian," "Secularism," and "Radical"

March 02, 2017
By John Morrison

As we consider these three terms, post-Christian, secularism, and radical, I would encourage you to view the four minute video interview (linked below) conducted with University of Washington students.  This piece was shared with us by our good friend Dr. Christian Overman, founder of Worldview Matters.  While those of us who are older might shake our heads in bewilderment,  many younger folks will readily agree that what is represented by these college students is far more the “normal” mindset of the forty and under generations.  Really,  the content of this video is quite disturbing when we realize just how widespread this thinking has become.  Check out this link: https://youtu.be/xfO1veFs6Ho

To say that we live in a post-Christian culture is no exaggeration.   By post-Christian,  I mean simply that whereas  Americans historically shared Judeo-Christian values as the consensus glue that held our society together, we have now moved into a season when that consensus is no longer in place.  Francis Schaeffer’s words, written in the 1970’s, were quite prescient in seeing what was coming.  As a result, our culture is rapidly unraveling at the seams.

In the face of this, we should not be surprised, and we must not be naive.  Secularist thinking has been at the root of public education and popular culture for many years; what the video portrays is the inevitable outcome among those who have been persistently indoctrinated with this mindset.  We must not naively think that attending church and a weekly youth group meeting can counteract the hours upon hours of pervasive secularist brainwashing to which our youth are subjected.  

Part of the problem is that secularism represents itself as being religiously neutral.  But we must understand that secularist assumptions are as religious as Islam, Hinduism, or even Christianity, in that they are based on faith suppositions about reality.  And the fundamental assumption is that man is his own, final  arbiter when it comes to defining truth and reality.  Indeed, this is the ancient lie represented by the Serpent to Adam and Eve ... that man is the measure of all things.  So,  while we as Christians would not place our children in, say, a Muslim school, we often fail to take the same stand when it comes to their being indoctrinated in the anti-Christian assumptions of secularism.  The same is true when they are allowed unhindered, unsupervised access to to our popular, media saturated culture.  The video aptly illustrates the inevitable outcome when our youth are thusly influenced.

This brings me to the term radical.   Whereas some view the concept of radical as synonymous with extreme or far out, it simply means "fundamentally, consistently proceeding from the root and ultimate source" (Webster).  To be radical for Christ means to be given over entirely to the basic assumptions of faith as defined by Scripture and the orthodox traditions of Christianity.  More specifically, in terms of our children's education,  we cannot mix and  dilute our Christianity with secularist assumptions about reality.  This will seem an extreme position in the eyes of our larger culture,  or even in the eyes of nominal Christianity.  But our being radical in our Christianity as role models and in the kind of education we provide our children is an essential dynamic if we are to deliver our youth from  the same outcome as is demonstrated in the video!

May God help us to see that as authentic Christians, we must be no less than radicals for Christ, including our commitment to how we educate our children.  Much is at stake!

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

Search by Keyword(s):
(separate multiples with a comma)

Recent Posts

11/21/17 - By John Morrison
11/15/17 - By John Morrison
11/8/17 - By John Morrison

Archives

© Cherry+Company SMARTsolution web design powered by FACTS Student Information System, providers of School Site