Tag Archives: #LuthEd

Condolences

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CLS Student cards outside of 97.5FM Studio

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1-4 English Standard Version).

As an adult, I often struggle with the right words to say, especially in situations of grieving. I don’t know how many funerals I have attended where the only words that seem to come out of my mouth are jumbled, awkward, and wrong. Knowing this about myself, I observed something interesting about how kids deal with such situations.

A few weeks ago, in an attempt to promote a fundraiser and Christ Lutheran, our PTL set up radio interviews with some of our local radio stations. Over the course of three days, some students, a teacher, and I were to meet with different radio personnel at the radio station. As the dates for the interviews drew closer, a local tragedy occurred. If you follow the news in the St. Joseph/Benton Harbor area, you may know that one of our local radio station personalities was killed last week. Understandably, the radio station was shaken and working to retain some kind of normalcy in the middle of their grieving. Through some changes in scheduling, the interviews were still able to take place, but with the tragedy at the forefront of everyone’s mind, things were different. Adding to the sorrow and confusion, many television news cameras were on site at the radio station on the morning of our first interview.

In an attempt to express our condolences, some students at Christ created sympathy cards for the workers at the radio station. I am often surprised by the things that kids share at times of suffering. Sometimes I worry about whether they will say something that may be considered unsympathetic. In this case, as in most like it that I have experienced, kids surprise me with the heartfelt sympathy that they give. In this case, the students created cards that expressed sympathy far better than I ever could have. One radio personality, Brenda Layne at WSJM 94.9FM said, “I read every card, and there was such wonderful wisdom in some of them, some cards even had full bible verses, others just had maybe a comment or two here or there, but all such wonderful words from such little children.”

This all brings me back to the common theme I have written about, that our Lutheran schools do more than just academics. Our schools, led by well trained and faithful teachers, instruct students to be good stewards of their time, talents, and treasures in honor to God. They are instructed to love the Lord and their neighbor as themselves. With this as a foundation our students make a difference in the community and world sharing the love of Christ, even in something as simple as condolence cards for grieving people.

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Treasures

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Have you ever found yourself wondering about how the building and grounds that we call Christ Lutheran became what it currently is? As a new person in ministry here, I find myself pondering these kinds of things. One such incident occurred when we first visited. The first thing that struck me was the three crosses on the hill near the exit to our campus. This was one of the first things I associated with Christ Lutheran. Being that they were at the top of a small hill, I thought it quite fitting for a Lutheran church and school.

Sometimes late at night when everyone is gone and the building is quiet, a person can get a lot of work done. The setting of late night work in an empty building affords one many opportunities to consider the setting. When alone in such a setting, I often find myself taking little breaks from work to walk around the building. While walking around, I usually think about the people that built Christ Lutheran. It is during times like this that I think of the sacrifices that people in the past made to build such a place where believers can worship and send their kids to receive a Christian education. This reminds me of Matthew’s words where he states “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21, ESV). How many people past and present poured their hearts into the place we call Christ Lutheran? One can only guess, but if you pay attention, you will see them.

All of this is not to say that we should hold a building in a higher regard than we ought. After all, the church and the school is about the people. But the desks, the halls, the bricks and the mortar, they are a reminder of the dedication of many who came before us that shared the same purpose. The times have changed, but the reason that we are here is the same. Our heavenly Father who gave up his Son for us is the author and perfecter of the universe. He is at the center of what we do here. This fact is especially important for a school such as ours, for a true education must have at its center the creator. Otherwise our tendency as sinful humans is toward making the center, the created.

Do The Right Thing

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Decisions are like answers to questions. When I think of the word “decision” or “decide” I think of the multiple choice test question where two of the choices seem right, but I can’t decide which one. I also think of Robert Frost’s illustration in his poem “The Road Not Taken”. Like a traveller at a fork in the road, Frost’s words “Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back” (Frost, 1920) illustrate the challenges that can come with a simple decision.

It is said in education that teachers make thousands of decisions every day. If you live with a teacher, you may have noticed that at the end of the day, they are tired of questions. This is because they answer so many during the 7-8 hour period we call “school”: “Will we have homework today?”, “Who’s turn is it?”, “Can I go to the bathroom?” That last one is for you English teachers. But, at the end of the day any teacher will tell you that they are tired of decisions and questions. I believe that mindless sitcoms are distinct favorites of teachers for this very reason.

“Do the right thing”. Out of all of my graduate work, these words of my mentor stick in my mind. While completing the practicum portion of my master of education administration degree, I worked under the supervision of Christopher White. Mr. White is principal at Crossroads Charter Academy in Big Rapids, Michigan. In one of our many discussions regarding the many decisions that a principal makes, he answered, “Do the right thing”. I don’t exactly remember the question that necessitated this answer, but the question was about the sometimes difficult and often complex issues that principals deal with. On the face of it, the answer seemed too simple, and yet there is a lot of wisdom in the simple stuff. It can get so easy to focus on the complexities of problems that your attention can get distracted from the basics. I think this is where Mr. White wanted to direct my attention, and in discussions with many other principals, I have heard similar advice.

I think that part of this has to do with the difference between wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is the understanding of facts while wisdom is the ability to understand knowledge and apply it for lasting success. As Christians, we recognize that true wisdom is from God. And it is found in His word. This is where Lutheran Schools thrive because they are rooted in God’s word. Lutheran teachers, with the help of the Holy Spirit, not only impart facts and figures but also wisdom to their students. All of this, because they are called by an Omniscient God into their mission field.

This can lead a person to ask, “And what about when we get it wrong?” Here too our Lutheran Schools are equipped to lead people in the way they should go. We recognize that we all are sinful and in need of God’s saving grace. Our Lutheran schools talk about and show forgiveness. When troubles arise, and they always do, we find peace in the fact that there is forgiveness. We find comfort in God’s word which shows us examples of God choosing imperfect people to do His work on earth. Like a sower who scatters seed, we instruct students in our Lutheran Schools and pray that those seeds of God’s word take root in our students. That seed of God’s wisdom makes Lutheran Education vital in our world today.

Nothing New?

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It doesn’t take much observation today to come to the realization that we live in a broken world. One doesn’t have to look too far to find some kind of crime, scandal, or human downfall. It can even get downright depressing to watch the local and national news sometimes. We live in a world that is broken, and many people don’t realize it.

A common misconception that has built traction in recent times is this belief that people are inherently good. Yes, we like to think that we are good people, and that we do great things. Just look at the great technology that we have built to make our lives easier and more convenient. And yet, look at the ways that we have come to use technology to anything but benefit humanity.

In class today, we were talking about some of the events of 9-11 and how the world has changed. I asked the question of the students- “Why is it that the world has events like 9-11? The answers varied from, different cultures, different beliefs, and so on. I asked them to think about it for a minute and asked, what do all bad events like 9-11 throughout history have in common. The realization we came to is that they happen through people, sinful and broken people.

It can be tempting to think that we have progressed to a better or greater state. With the things that we have invented we can easily surmise that we are somehow different from the people of ages ago. After all, our ancestors would be amazed at how far we have come. At the same time,  I suspect that they might be horrified by some aspects of our world today.

The common thread throughout the history of mankind is that we are inherently sinful. We daily betray God and others in thought, word, and deed; by the things that we do and by the things that we leave undone. The technology has changed, but the sin is still there. No matter how far we advance, the words of King Solomon will ring true:

“What has been will be again,

what has been done will be done again;

there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there anything of which one can say,

‘Look! This is something new’?

It was here already, long ago;

it was here before our time.

No one remembers the former generations,

and even those yet to come

will not be remembered

by those who follow them” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 New International Version).

But the story does not end there. There is one that has been and will be remembered for generations. He covered the brokenness and made it right. The Son of God on the cross paid the price and “for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 English Standard Version).

When we go to Him in baptism, we are made new. When we go to Him in confession and asking forgiveness, He forgives. When we come to His table he renews us. Because He died for us “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 English Standard Version).

Why would we not speak of the one who makes us new in our classrooms and in all of our subjects? Can you truly have a well rounded education without acknowledging the creator of it all? I propose that you can not. I believe that this is what C. S. Lewis spoke of when he stated that “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”

A hope that does not disappoint

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“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:1-5 New International Version).

For the Christian, one of the challenges in life is that he doesn’t always see the fruits of his labor on earth. In many facets of life, one can somewhat expect hard work to be rewarded, but when it comes to the work of God our rewards are not achieved on earth. In fact, they are not even earned by us. They are earned by Jesus. Following Jesus can be difficult in a world where a person’s worth is often associated with his or her wealth.

In education, we often say things like, “if at first you do not succeed, try, try again” and “you have to get back on that horse!” In Lutheran education we strive to show our students the value of hard work and dedication. These characteristics are important in building children up to become productive participants in a world that so desperately needs citizens and leaders that reflect our creator’s will.

The ongoing theme in those sayings and others like it is that eventually, if one is diligent they will win the prize. That said prize is often something of earthly value and received with much fanfare. And yet there are things that we are called by God to fulfill where our rewards are not received with earthly things. Caring for others or those in need does not earn one a prize. Standing up for a person that is being bullied often results in gained hardship on the side of the one standing up to the bully. When it comes to things of heavenly importance, the prize is often not seen on this side of heaven. In fact sometimes following Jesus’ example results in hardship and inconvenience. Instead of a reward, the follower of Jesus will sometimes face hardship. If one is not careful, they can easily become discouraged.

In everything, we need to focus on Christ, the one who showed us how to live. Often times Jesus faced struggles while following his father’s will. Often times the disciples of Jesus struggled because their focus was too much invested in things of this world. Like the disciples, we too can become easily distracted by things that in the end are not really all that important.

In Lutheran education, teaching children to follow Jesus is what we are about. In addition to teaching math, science, technology, etc., students in Lutheran schools are instructed on things that benefit them today and tomorrow, an education rooted in the master teacher, Jesus. The benefits of tomorrow are not often understood today, but the benefits are there. And they mattered so much that our heavenly father gave up his Son on a cross to achieve them for us.