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September 24, 2009

When You Rise Up

I am once again reading through this book by R.C. Sproul Jr. If you want to read a book that will encourage you in your homeschooling journey I highly recommend this one.

Here is a peak into the book.

Chapter 1; pg.28-31

"Several years ago I took three of my children to the grocery store: Campbell, then six, Shannon, four, and Delaney, three. Not only do I have a pattern of taking our children with me, but we also have pattern of how we go through the store. We begin with fruits and vegetables, and then finish at the bakery section. At our local store, the good folks behind the bakery counter give away cookies to little children. This too is a part of our pattern. Delaney, with a year's experience of going shopping with Daddy, hadn't quite learned all the habits. So every week she had to ask, "Can we get a cookie, Daddy?" She worries unduly, because her Daddy is so cheap that it doesn't matter if we have stopped at the grocery on the way home from a tour of the candy factory. The cookies are free, so the answer is always "Yes."

The lady behind the counter gave Campbell his cookies and Delaney hers. I did not get one for Shannon, for though she likes cookies, she isn't yet adept at eating them. (My daughter Shannon is mentally retarded, with the mental ability of an 18-month old.) I realized at this point that I had forgotten pie crusts for my wife, so I left the children and the buggy to fetch some. As I headed back I caught my son. He did not know I was watching. As far as he knew, no one was watching him. But I saw him do it. He broke off a piece of his cookie and fed it to his little sister Shannon. He didn't do this so I would one day write about him. He didn't do this because Shannon would praise him. He did it because God has worked in his heart, because his mother is an outstanding homeschooling mom, teaching him well. That is the heart of the matter; that is what we ought to be celebrating.

I'm not arguing that it's a bad thing for children to be smart. Rather, I am suggesting that the issue of education is always the heart. Changed hearts is the goal, the function, the very purpose of education. Our goal is not multi-generational personal peace and affluence, neither are we simply trying to raise clean-cut children. Homeschoolers are adept at doing that. And there certainly may be a parallel between being nice and having the gentle and quiet spirit the Bible tells us to. But what we want is the changed heart.

What is your goal? What are you shooting for? Even if you answer, "Building the kingdom of God," you might still have it wrong. Be careful here. We are not training our children so one day they might build the kingdom. We must remember, as we continue to grow in grace and become more effective in our calling, to ditch this notion that school is something you do for a time, and then you work. We continue to learn, while we work. And our children continue to work while they learn. Your children are not simply in training, but are even now about the business of building the kingdom of God. What is the kingdom of God? Is that the place where the least of these, Jesus' brethren, my daughter Shannon, gets a piece of cookie, because it was given to her.

If the heart is the heart of the matter, if our children not only are learning to be kingdom builders, but are also being kingdom builders right now, if we are to train our children to train their children, then this is something we need to remind ourselves of daily. The devil, you understand, is craftier than the beasts of the field. He doesn't simply whisper in our ears, "Betray your children. Raise them in the nurture and admonition of the state." Instead he distracts us, pulls us off target, makes us forget our calling, piece by piece.

Our calling is to keep our eyes on the prize-not to be at ease in Babylon, but to long for the city whose builder and maker is God. We will not get education right until we get life right. Just as so many peasants of the thirteenth century sacrificed to build the great cathedrals of Europe (which they would not see finished in their own lives), so we must look to the future, seeing the fulfillment of the promise, the consummation of the kingdom. Praise God that in his grace we get a taste each week, as we enter the worship experience in our weekly rest, of our eternal rest.

May we remember as parents that we are his children, and that he is about the business of changing hearts, of repairing our ruins, of remaking us. And though he has not finished with us, he has placed in our care his children. May he in his grace keep our hearts aflame for these children. May he give us minds like steel traps that we would never be distracted, that we would not forsake our calling. May he, the great Steward, make us faithful stewards of children, the most precious gifts, of which is the kingdom of God."