“This Little Light Christian Academy”: A warning against the perils of Christian Education

Public Schools Harm Children

Written by:  Lizbeth Viera
Edited by:  Michelle Blanco

The following was sent to me by my sister for editing and I loved it so much I offered to post it here.  Let us know your comments!

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  (NIV)  Matthew 5:14-16  (For awesome context, read here.)

I am sleepless as my mind wrestles with attitudes and statements I have encountered from believers in the past couple of years.

First, I would like to say that I’m blessed and thankful that my children have had the opportunity to have a private, Christian education all of their lives. Especially now, at a school that offers so much to them in so many different areas. However, these past few years I have discovered that there is also a great danger masked by what I mostly consider a blessing. I have seen attitudes that are as sinful as anything else my kids would experience in a public school. I see arrogance and a lack kindness and compassion towards others. This realization first came to me when one of my girls was only six years old. She made a statement that alarmed me. It wasn’t a curse word, yet its effect on me was the same. She was being judgmental as she observed someone in a store. Her words lacked compassion, she looked at me and just said “they don’t love Jesus!” I was heartbroken because I was seeing a little Pharisee in the making.

I meet parents who believe their kids are somehow better because they can afford to send them to a private school. I have even seen private school employees who, with their statements, will make a parent believe they are not doing their best because they are not sending their kids to a Christian school.

I’m concerned that we are raising arrogant Christians who will not be prepared to face the real world when the time comes for them to face it. We are in the process dismissing The Great Commission by constantly isolating our kids from other children whose only hope of knowing Christ are Christian students in the public school. But we don’t care as long as our kids are ok. We don’t care as long as our kids have a great self-esteem and awesome experiences. We feed them Scripture, which they memorize, but we don’t even give them a platform to live it. We applaud their programs which they perform mostly in front of other Christians who also believe the way they do. Yet, are we really teaching them to live out their faith?

The more I look into the life of Jesus the more I believe he would have been a public school student! He would be out there confronting the drug dealers and bullies with piercing words of kindness. I could see him as a teenager sitting among the goths and asking them questions which would make them reconsider their choices. I could see him sitting with the girl who has been around and back, you know, the one with the bad reputation, and making her feel like the purest, most loved soul.

As a parent, I sincerely understand other parents for wanting what we see as the best for our kids. But we need continually check our hearts in the process. We need to realize that arrogance (the sin of pride) is just as sinful, or more, as anything else they would experience in a public school. We need to be aware of the possible selfishness in depriving the non believers of true Christ-like examples and as we get wrapped up in our own busy lives we also forget to serve and love those who really need Christ.

When my kids reach High School they will probably be attending a public school. By then, I want them to be confident of what they believe. I want them to know that God created the heavens and the earth. I desire for them to be able to recognize sin, first and foremost in themselves, that they may have compassion for the sinner. May they humbly live out the faith they have been taught . I know they might be facing bullies, they will be seeing things they have never seen, they will be hearing lies and even be tempted to follow. Yet I do believe they will overcome. Not because they were in isolation most of their childhood, but because they have watched their imperfect parents live out grace. They have felt loved, cared for, and comforted by people who have learned not to hide their humanity for the sake of appearances. They will serve and follow Christ, who sought the lost and saw the possibility of redemption for even the most wretched, sinful soul.

As a parent, I’m not looking forward to that day, but as a believer who wants the world to know Jesus, I’m also very excited and I will do what I can now to get their “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”

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The Life Free of Disappointment

As I’m seeing some people in my life walk through some very difficult times, this blog post made it to my inbox and I share for all of us – because following Christ does not mean a life free of disappointment, but a life carrying the cross.

Let Hope Rise

Sometimes in our world there is news or a circumstance that breaks through the cloud of Christian clichés that give us an illusory sense of control over our life. Do you know what clichés I mean? We’ve all heard them. Someone puts their house up for sale, and it sells immediately, and someone posts “That’s God’s favor, right there!” Or the guy speaks up at community group about how every time they give to the Lord, money just appears out of nowhere.

And I always think, “That’s great, but that’s just not how it goes for us.” In fact, lately, as I look around, many of our friends are in this place with us of trusting God despite great disappointment and amidst the carnage of broken dreams.

  • What do we do when the miracle we hoped for, prayed for, and desperately needed, missed the deadline?
  • When the adoption we knew we were…

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The Gay Marriage Debate: The Great Modern-Day Evangelical Distraction to the Gospel

Gay Marriage Debate

This is probably one of the most difficult posts I will write.  I’ve been avoiding it for WEEKS!  Ok, maybe months.  I don’t really like confrontation.  For some reason, I’m perceived sometimes as a person that does, but I don’t.  This post is somewhat confrontational and can be offensive to Christians and non-Christians alike.  I don’t like it, but passive-aggressively griping to myself isn’t really helping the world any – and it’s not very Christ-like.

Truth-in-love.  Here goes.  Blech!

Yesterday, Facebook “turned red” as some of my friends and people in America proudly showed their support for gay marriage by displaying a red symbol with pink equal signs.  I was initially encouraged not to see too much negative banter on friend’s pages who chose to display the symbol.  However, today I was a little discouraged to see some more typical comments rise to the surface after people had time to make some passive-aggressive Christian response symbols of their own.

My discouragement comes from the need to wage public battles in front of an audience of unbelievers about one sin in particular.  It’s no wonder to me anymore that we are perceived as judgmental in the eyes of an unbelieving world.  Our expectation of sinners should be sin.  We should not be surprised.  Whether or not we are judging or think we are judging, we need to be careful what we do with our “tongue” (even the metaphorical one we write with) because perception is important.  Perception itself can get its own blog on another day.  We are not to judge unbelievers, we are to love and we can share that we are ALL sinners in need of GREAT saving for ALL OUR DEPRAVITY and what God has done for YOU.  This is the Gospel.  But, please, don’t take my word for it…

As I mentioned in my first blog, one of the writers of the New Testament that I most cherish is the Apostle Paul.  Furthermore, I believe my favorite book that Mr. Apostle Paul wrote is the book of Romans.  Oh, so much wonderful stuff!  So much Gospel!  Several months ago, I read Romans 1 and 2 in a new light.  You can’t read chapter 1 without reading chapter 2.  It’s not really complete.  I feel ok saying that knowing that Paul didn’t put those chapter numbers in there.

In the gay marriage debate, Christians often quote a passage in Chapter 1:26-27:

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

We often gloss over a bit what comes after and even what came before – as if Paul only had strong words for homosexuals and that being gay was the utmost offense.  So, I have created a bit of an inner monologue response to a person truly engaging in the entire passage of Scripture – most of these thoughts came from me, actually.  Keep in mind, Paul is writing this passage To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

That’s right, preach it, Paul!  God exists!  Stupid atheists!

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

How can people actually expect man-made idols to do anything?!  Duh!

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Amen!  That’s right, Paul.  Get those fornicators and tree huggers!

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

The Gays, too!  Woo!  He’s on a roll!  Get ‘em, Paul!  Get ‘em!

28 Furthermore,

Furthermore?  How does it go any further than being gay?

just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

Wasn’t that what he was just talking about?  I’m confused.

29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.

OK…

 They are gossips,

SILENCE.

30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.

MORE SILENCE.

 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

(Oh, Stick around…it gets better)

 YOU, THEREFORE (emphasis mine)

Uh-Oh.

have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

Sorry, Lord!

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a] To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

So, let’s just talk practical now.  Any sort of highlighting one particular sin in any public arena can REALLY confuse a unbeliever about the Gospel we believe.  The Gospel isn’t just about saving the homosexual from his sin any more than it is about saving the heterosexual from his sin.  The Gospel redemption from ALL our sin.  I don’t know anyone who isn’t guilty of at least one of the sins Paul mentions in that laundry list of sins.  Many of us know that, but when we waste so much energy and time on the one sin, it gives us the impression that the #1 goal of Christianity is not sinning.  We need to be wise in whether or not we respond and how we respond.

As proud as we are of our country, it really isn’t our country as believers, is it?  Our heritage goes as far as Abraham and beyond, our Kingdom lies far beyond the borders.  It feels like we’re trying hard to protect America’s Christian heritage by “keeping” sinners from sinning, rather “taking” Christ – the true Gospel – to a fallen world – “harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.”

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My experience with Les Miserables: facing my Christian atheism

(I’m a little late posting this…but better late than never!)

Oh, Les Mis!  How you make me love Jesus more!

My heart is full right now.  On December 31st, 2012 at 3:15 PM, I had a date with my husband to see a movie I’d highly anticipated – Les Miserables.  I have not read the book or seen the show, but I have seen the Liam Neeson movie and I’ve listened to the original broadway cast recording many…MANY times.

I’m trying to get this written as close to the day that I saw the movie so that I can accurately write all that I was feeling during and after watching this movie.  It moved me to tears on various occasions.

For those of you who don’t know, Les Miserables is about a man named Jean Valjean who is released from prison and then robs a priest.  This priest, having the opportunity to accuse him and press charges, denies that he was robbed and gives him additional priceless items from his home to make a new life for himself and live his life for God.  Valjean then, in turn, shows the same grace to a prostitute who is dying and needs someone to take care of her daughter and then raises her as his own.  Not only is the grace he receives “amazing”, but also generously demonstrates an outpouring of love toward this child.

As far as stories are concerned, this has been attributed as one of the most clear metaphors of God’s grace.  A man, truly undeserving, who has only earned distrust and disrespect and punishment, receives a priceless gift.  It’s a fictional story, but Grace still does amazing things!  Love accomplishes what the Law could not.

This brings me to my personal journey of experiencing God’s love.  Something that I’ve always struggled with as a Christian is truly believing God loves me.  This, I’ve recently come to realize, is actually a belief in no God at all.  How can I believe a God would design this world so beautiful, so complex, so all-together magnificent, and would not have the power, will, or capacity to love me?  His breathtaking beauty explains His loving character as much as it does His righteous judgment.

Sometimes I just forget.  I forget the supernaturally loving and sacrificing nature of Jesus in these moments when I slip in and out of this Christian atheism.  I forget the man who healed the blind, made the lame man walk, spared the life of the woman in adultery, fed the 5,000, the 4,000, loved the children, touched the leper, defended the oppressed, befriended the tax-collector, resurrected the dead, wept for the suffering – it’s those times between His birth and death and resurrection that give power and credibility to those landmark events.  Oh, GRACE!  Not one of those who received those wonderful gifts while He was on earth deserved a drop of it.  Neither do we.  Nor do I.

He LOVES me so much!  Let me say that again.  He LOVES me so much!  Because of this love I’m found worthy, accepted, cherished, delighted in by my Creator.  He is Real.

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Keeping the main thing, the main thing is a hard thing

My name is Michelle, I’m a Christian, and I love the Gospel.  I love the Bible, in general, and all its stories, its truths, its challenges – but what I love most is the Gospel.    I see the Gospel as the climax of the story of the Bible.  This means that the purpose of all books from Genesis to Revelation and back are about God’s story to bring His children back to Him – the Gospel.  In its story we find love, hate, conflict, paradoxes, beauty, ugliness, and so many other feelings.  We find stories that end in sadness and disappointment and others that end in joy and celebration.  The thing that grounds me through all this is its purpose, its simplicity even through its complexities.

So, what is the Gospel?  As I went about wanting to start a blog feeling like I had so much “stuff” going through my mind that I wanted to put down in writing, I’ve come across a couple of verses from the Bible that resounded in my heart and described exactly how I felt.  It wasn’t just about the Gospel, but how I felt about putting forth my emotions and opinions in such a vulnerable area as a blog.  Here’s a quote from one of my Bible friends, Paul, which made me think He felt he was in the same boat when he talked about this subject:

“And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.[a] For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”

Now I go forth, writing what I think God is putting on my heart.  It’s a little scary, but I think timely.  I have, for a long time, felt a bit of different types of frustrations, both inward and outward, all related that led me to this place:

  • I knew I needed to do this blog because one of the reasons I was avoiding it is because I fear rejection.  Do I fear that some might take offense at something I’ve said?  Well, yes – a little.  But my biggest fear is that people around me won’t care – that the belief that I’m invisible to most people would be found to be true.  I need to get rid of that garbage from my brain, and fast.  It has no place there and I’ve carried it with me for too long.  Bye.  (Now I can move on other areas of my life where I fear failure).
  • I do feel like God is talking to me.  I do feel like He wants me to share what He’s telling me.  While I’m not a super accomplished writer, I do feel like I have a gift there that needs to be developed and it’s a great outlet for me.
  • Current events and things I hear around me and read on Facebook tell me that many nonbelievers haven’t truly heard the Gospel without some sort of baggage attached to it that’s not supposed to be there. Part of that assumption has been made, not just because of what I’ve heard from nonbelievers, but also from believers who forget to keep the main thing the main thing and forget that the world is watching.  I see fruitless discussions about this part and that of the Bible, about this or that sin, and they get caught in a web wandering through a rabbit trail while the enemy cheers on knowing He’s trapped us in the world of our own pride, in wanting to be right.   Before you know it “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” got lost somewhere in the mix or was never brought up at all.
  • I say these things knowing I don’t have all things figured out, but I want others to join me in this – believers and nonbelievers alike.  I want to be an ambassador for Christ.  I want my words to match my actions and I know once they are written for all to see I will be held accountable to them.  I want to be a change agent in the world.  I want to see people come to Christ and I want my brothers and sisters in Christ to see and desire the same.   More than anything, I want to be transformed by what I write, by what God is teaching me and telling me.  I want to write as a learner – almost like a journal.
  • I also desire a place for honest questions and discussions ALL done in love and understanding and acceptance – embracing differences amongst believers and joining in the journey of a nonbeliever’s search for faith without judgment.

Those “bullet points” have been nagging me for a while now.  They don’t really go away by ignoring them.  I’ve tried.  So I’ve set out to accomplish a desire and overcome a fear (I’ve learned those usually go together) hoping to continue seeing God’s faithfulness and power in my baby steps and weakness.  We’ll see what topics come forth soon and hopefully I’ll have the courage to bring them out.

I love the Gospel.

Peace!

Michelle Blanco

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