Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Given Over To A Lie

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. ~Romans 8:28-32

Pick up a newspaper today and you can find the above behavior described in article after article. Our culture is becoming progressively more wicked the further we get from God, isn’t it? Romans 1 offers some key insight into this process. It starts when people know about God but don’t thank or glorify Him (vs 21), when they exchange the truth of God for a lie (vs 25) and when they don’t think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God (vs 28).

God’s corresponding judgment isn’t what we might expect. We tend to expect a dramatic outpouring of wrath, such as fire from heaven. Instead, God often simply gives people over to what they want—they want a lie and God gives them over to one. They want to believe their own way is better and He lets them believe it and try it. He gives them over to sexual immorality (vs 24, 26), which is the lie that physical lusts will satisfy you. He gives them over to a depraved mind (vs 28), which is a mind corrupted by sin and unwilling to accept or obey the truth. If you see a person sold out for evil and wonder why God doesn’t judge them, you’ve missed it—God already has judged them by letting them continue unchecked in their wickedness, believing lies about God and lies about themselves.

Being given over to a lie is no joke and no light punishment. It can literally send you to hell.
Sadly, many Christians will acknowledge the horror of being given over to a lie and then turn right around and give their own children over to a lie, willingly, cheerfully, and unapologetically. Five days a week they put their kids on a yellow bus and send them straight to a government-sponsored institution that is dedicated to teaching the antithesis of God’s truths.

I am not criticizing the many dedicated, caring (and often even Christian) teachers that are in the government school system. I think they need to be there. But the children of Christians do not need to be there. The government schools teach children a systematic series of lies, either directly through the teachers and curriculum or indirectly through peer socialization with other foolish children. The children are taught the lie that God does not exist. They are taught the lie that we evolved from amoebas. They are taught the worldview that man is basically good and is only brought down by society, not by the evil in his own heart. They are taught the lie that gender is a social construct. They are taught the lie that sexual immorality in both its ordinary and deviant forms is a fun thing to do as long as you do it safely. They are taught the lie that killing an unborn infant is a woman’s right. They are taught the lie that true femininity means beating the guys, not rejoicing in your uniqueness as a woman. They are taught the lie that being true to yourself is more important than being true to your duty. They are taught the lie that there is no such thing as objective truth.

These lies are having a measurable effect on the church. According to a variety of Barna research studies, two-thirds of young adults in their twenties who regularly attended church as a teen do not currently actively pray, read their Bible or attend church. Are we to attribute this to an epidemic of astonishingly boring pastors? Could it not be because these young people are daily bombarded by lies about God and His principles from ages five to eighteen? In that environment, is it at all surprising that more than half of children raised in church walk away from it as an adult?

Many Christians argue that they send their children to government schools to prepare them for the real world. Friends, handing someone over to lies is not preparation. It is punishment. Every time Scripture talks about someone being given over to a lie, it is a judgment on that person. It is a sentence—sometimes a death sentence. Dwelling with lies is not a nice little training tool meant to prepare Christians for godly living. If you want to prepare your children for life, steep them in the truth. Proverbs 23:23 tells us, Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding. Truth, wisdom, discipline and understanding are not found in the halls of pagan, humanistic teachings. They are found in the Word of God.

One other lie deserves mention. Many of us often believe the lie that our actions will not have consequences. We pretend to ourselves that we can sow one thing and reap another. God warns us explicitly not to be fooled in this manner: Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6:7). You cannot send your child to a godless institution for his whole life and assume that nothing will happen. While it is true that by God’s grace some Christian graduates from government schools do stay in the faith, you cannot count on that. Two-thirds of them do not. Scripture also tells us that when a prudent man sees danger, he takes refuge. (Proverbs 3). Be that prudent man! Don’t risk your kids! Prioritize the truth and determine that they will grow up steeped in and surrounded by the truth. Don’t give them over to a lie.

Written by Raquelle Sheen

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

School Shootings: What Can You Do?

There have been many suggestions offered in the last few days about how to stop school shootings. Some make sense, some are just plain stupid. The fact remains that since 1990 our government schools are federally-mandated gun-free zones, perfect for maniacal shooters.

When considering this problem, most people's focus seems to be on getting "them" to "do something" about it. But waiting on "them" could take years for a helpful solution. What about you? What can you do about school shootings? 

Here are some ideas for parents, grandparents, kids, people without children and bystanders.

Parents: Homeschool your children. This is the ideal for every family. In the beginning, God created a father and a mother and children. There were no school teachers, social workers, coaches, or pastors involved. God gave parents the job.

We can see the fallout today from ignoring God's design – herding children together in schools (even "good" schools) is simply pooling ignorance. "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools will come to harm." (Proverbs 13:20) All kinds of harm happens, from simple foolishness to cheating, bullying, abuse, sexual misconduct, and yes – school shootings.

There are many people in today's society who will try to convince you that homeschooling is second class or even impossible for your family. But God is smarter than they are, and He is the one who created the family. Statistics show us that God's design really does work best. Homeschoolers consistently out-perform institutionally schooled children in literally every area of life from academics to civic responsibility to finding satisfaction in life.

Many entities exist to help beginning homeschoolers if you feel you need guidance. There are websites with free curriculum, blogs with helpful suggestions, videos, tutorials, co-ops, support groups, conventions, and more. If you're not sure where to start, the website www.homeschoolfreedom.com is a good way to get connected with organizations in your state.

Grandparents: Be involved in your grandchildren's lives. Work with their parents to find ways to spend quality time with them. It's easy to give kids ice cream or take them fun places, but take the time to invest in their minds and hearts as well. Talk with them about God's love, about God's principles, about how to live wisely. Listen to their questions, their fears and their dreams and offer a godly response. Particularly if your children are unable to provide your grandchildren with a stable, loving home, make sure you are the constant in their life: the one who is always there to love them and hold them to a higher standard.

Grandparents, it's possible you may even be able to homeschool your grandchildren if your children are unable to. Check your state law at www.hslda.org to see what guidelines they have regarding grandparents homeschooling.

Kids: There may be some older children reading this article. As schools continue to be hunting grounds for maniacs, you may feel like adults have let you down. Some have. But many adults are out there desperately wanting to help you and your classmates. Get to know those adults. Become friends with teachers, security officers, and responsible adults around your school. When you see something, say something to these adults. If one adult doesn't respond to the problem, move on to the next adult until you get a solution.

Be a friend to lonely kids. Don't bully. Don't let others bully. Report bullying.

Learn how to handle an active shooter situation in your school. Find out things you can do to stop him or slow him down. Learn how to give first aid to a victim. Learn how to be a leader and help in a crisis. Pray for wisdom to know what to do if a bad situation ever happens in your school.

Singles, Childless and Empty Nesters: Look for kids that need a friend, a role model, a mentor – an adult to love them. Seek out the quiet kid in the church youth group who seems to be neglected at home. Spend time with the kid next door whose parents are never around. Become a foster family. Counsel at a crisis pregnancy center. Offer to babysit for the working single mom whose kids live at daycare all week. Find the lonely, neglected kids that are everywhere crying out for adult attention. Pour love into their lives. Pray for wisdom, pray for opportunities.

Every Adult: Learn the skills to respond to a crisis. Do you have a gun? Get a concealed carry permit and learn how to respond to an active shooter. Learn how to give medical aid to wounded people. Learn how to spot potential terrorists and get help as fast as possible. Learn how to lead people during a crisis.

Too many tragic events have happened where bystanders were either unable or unwilling to step in and help. Don't be like them. Be a person who can help. If you are literally physically unable to do anything, be the person who prays through the crisis. Our society needs prayer even more than we need guns, medical aid or leadership.

It's time for us to stop waiting on "them" to "do something" about the problems in our society. We need to step in with the Lord's help and do it ourselves. That's the American spirit that has always accomplished incredible goals.

By Heather Sheen
Originally published in the Times Examiner, Greenville, SC

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Public Education: A Pagan System?

I was talking with friends recently and made reference to our nation’s "pagan indoctrination system," meaning the public schools. Several friends immediately got indignant, wanting to know why I was calling public school teachers "pagan." After all, many of those teachers are hard-working, child-loving people who sacrifice tremendously for the kids in their classes.

I quickly clarified that "pagan system" does not mean "pagan teachers." But I didn’t back down on my original claim – our public schools are a pagan system. Christian teachers are fighting an uphill battle to provide good education in a godless system that fights back against them. Here’s why I say this.

God’s System

When God created the universe, He put certain laws into place. The law of gravity is a good example. You can disagree with it, you can defy it, you can try to work around it, but it’s still there and it still governs the outcome of all our physical actions. Another law God put in place concerning human behavior is that a person who is unfriendly usually winds up with few friends. This God-ordained law is so self-evident that even non-Christians agree it exists.

But there are many other laws of human nature that people try to ignore. Just as there would be chaos and pain from everyone ignoring the law of gravity, we see the chaos and pain in our society from ignoring those God-given laws. One of them concerns raising children.

This law of human nature is that God created the perfect education system in the beginning: Families. When society as a whole operates as a support to parents training their children, that society tends to flourish. When society ignores and usurps the role of parents in their children’s education, that society will likewise see chaos and pain in the outcome.

Nowhere in the Bible do we see God giving authority for children’s education to the government, the community, or the church. But He gives it repeatedly and clearly to parents.

This doesn’t mean that parents don’t need help, encouragement and training in this task. But that’s the key – help parents do the job. Don’t take their job away.

  • Parents naturally have the most vested interest in loving and helping their children to succeed.
  • Parents know their children better than anyone else on earth, including "child education experts." 
  • Parents have the ability to spend one-on-one tutorship time with their children.
  • Parents are uniquely positioned by God to be a child’s best educators. 

Unless, of course, you mess up God’s system.

The Pagan System

Home education, properly supported and encouraged by the state and the civil community, is the best, least expensive, and most efficient way for children to be educated and integrated into the adult world. So there is only one reason why the state would want to interfere and get involved: Power.

He who controls the education process controls the eventual makeup of society. People who want to control society, therefore, have a vested interest in first controlling the education system. It’s interesting to note that every totalitarian dictator in modern history has quickly moved to take over his nation’s school system.

It’s easy to see the outcome of 100+ years of enforced government schooling in our country. We now have a nation that ranks below many other nations in basic academic skills. We have a society that, by and large, believes “diversity” is more important than excellence, so people are hired by race and gender quotas instead of skill level. Our nation is becoming a place where sexual deviancy is not only allowed by law, but encouraged and promoted in every level of society. Our culture believes that parents are outdated and authority is something to be flaunted. And of course, it goes without saying that the Bible is unwelcomed and even banished wherever possible.

Further, we now have a society that has no problem with murdering millions of unborn children. We have a culture that regularly produces teenagers and young adults who go on shooting rampages and commit suicide. We have a country that is narcissistic and materialistic, empty and shallow. Children grow up into adults who have no idea what functioning marriages and families even look like. Family units are disintegrating all around us.

This is the fruit of leaving our education system to be designed by government. This design is not God’s way – it’s the pagan way. And we’re getting pagan results: pain and chaos.

Return to God’s System

When communities and nations practice education using God’s system, blessings follow. It’s simply a law of nature that God put into place when he created the universe.

One of the most bright and shining times in our nation’s history occurred when home education was widely practiced. The Declaration of Independence (the first document of its kind ever produced in history) and the Constitution (which has become a model for nations around the world ever since) were produced by a society that was largely home educated. Missionaries who brought the gospel for the first time to dark places around the world had their start in our home-educated society. The financial foundation of the United States, which has become the wealthiest nation on earth, was formed on principles laid down by largely home educated Americans. Some of the brightest minds, the freest society, and the greatest rags-to-riches stories came from the first 100 years of America’s history – when society was largely home educated.

Using God’s system appears to have worked pretty well in America’s history!

If families were supported in their role of educating their own children, so much of what people complain about today would go away.

1. The quality of education would be far higher.  After all, parents have a much higher vested interest in their children's education, plus they have ability to work one-on-one with each child at the child's own pace. Studies have shown that even poorly educated parents who do very little "educating" still wind up with their kids outperforming institutionalized kids.

2. Diversity and cultural heritage would be preserved. All those cultural traditions that should be passed down through generations will have a much better chance of surviving intact - from religious beliefs to family stories to language to respect for elders.

3. Social responsibility would be much higher. You value what you pay for. When education is "free" you don't value it nearly as much as when you have to put something into it.

4. There would be much more individual independence and courage. Herd mentality or peer pressure or following the crowd - whatever you want to call it - is cut way back when a child is raised among loving family members rather than bullying, critical, immature peers. This has also been demonstrated by studies.

5. Many of today’s health problems would be significantly lessened by children being raised in a calm, loving, supportive home. The fast food diets of many American children stem from constantly being on the run with the schools’ schedules. Parents who prepare all three meals for their children are far likelier to create a healthy menu than school cafeterias. Stress from long schedules, school bullies, and peer pressure would cease to push young people into behavioral problems like ADD and depression.

These are just some of the benefits our nation would gain from going back to God’s model for education.

You can have good people in a bad system. There are many American teachers who genuinely love children and want to give them a good education. But good people in a bad system doesn't make the system good. The system intrinsically works against families and against God’s design for education.

The government, the community and the church were designated by God to provide supporting roles for parents to do their job. They were not given a mandate by God to usurp the parents’ job altogether. Our nation is going to continue experiencing chaos and pain until parents take charge of their own children's education instead of letting the state control it.

Home educating parents can already tell you of the blessings on a small scale that God has given their families when they followed God’s design. We need to pray for those blessings on a large scale for our nation, and work to support and encourage parents to take back their role in their children’s education.

Written by Heather Sheen

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Education: Disputable Matters?

Go to nearly any modern Protestant church in America and there’s one subject that gets avoided pretty carefully - the education of children. There is often good reasoning behind this avoidance. American Christians tend to be divided over whether to use homeschooling, private schooling or the public schools. The Bible tells us not to divide ourselves over disputable matters, or gray areas, of theology. So, churches decide that it’s better not to even bring the subject up.

BUT there’s a big assumption in this. The assumption is that children's education is a biblically disputable matter. Is it?

What the Bible Says About Education

We don’t have time in this article to cover every biblical passage on children’s education. I’m going to just hit the highlights.

Deuteronomy 6:6-8: And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

This passage is one of the most explicit in the Bible about teaching children. It’s helpful because it not only tells parents what to teach – the Word of God – but also when to teach it. At home, not at home, at night, during the day. That basically covers all of life, 24/7. So early in Scripture we see God’s model of parents being the primary instructors of their children.

Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 1:8-9: Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.

Proverbs, written by the wisest man who ever lived, talks a great deal about how young people can gain wisdom and learn to live a godly life. Over and over again Solomon refers to parents being the primary educators and children needing to listen to their parents’ teaching.

Psalm 78:5-8: He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

There are many Psalms that talk about parents passing on the heritage of the Lord to their children. This one in particular notes that godly parental education is a guard against a rebellious, anti-God society.

I Timothy, II Timothy, Titus - All three of these books are called the pastoral epistles because they were written to two pastors, Timothy and Titus, and contain many instructions on how a church should be led. It is interesting to note that there are commands given to pastors on how to deal with men, women, slaves, slave owners, basically each section of society. But the only reference to children in these books is when the Apostle Paul instructs parents to teach their own children. It’s pretty clear that teaching children is not a main mission of the church, according to Paul. It’s a main mission of parents. In fact, it’s such an important mission that God, through Paul, declares that an elder/pastor must have done a good job raising his own children before he is put in a position of authority in the church. (I Timothy 3:4-5)

Matthew 18:5-6: Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

I’m ending purposely with the words of Jesus Himself. Jesus loved children and even rebuked His disciples for preventing children to come see Him. He wanted the best for them. Jesus could have updated the past model of parents educating their children, but He didn’t. He said He came to uphold God’s Word, not change it. In fact, all He added to it was this stern warning about causing children to sin. If you wonder what that has to do with a child’s form of education, consider the godless pressures from peers and the ungodly curriculum in many institutional schools today and ask yourself if it’s reasonable to expect an immature child to stand up to these pressures.

Education Is Not Neutral

Generally at this point in the discussion of children’s education a common retort is made. “We do teach our children God’s Word! We simply allow a school system to teach them secular subjects.”

Unfortunately, that’s another assumption that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. Education is not neutral. Education is not simply a set of secular facts to memorize. Education is the preparation of a child for life by teaching him how to think, how to learn, and what worldview (or lens) through which to view all information. There are no “secular” subjects.

Mathematics assumes that absolute truth exists and is knowable – a difficult subject to teach if one presupposes that truth doesn’t exist. History that is truthful tells the story of God’s work in mankind from the beginning of time. That’s tough to teach if you don’t even acknowledge God – a “secular” curriculum has a vested interest in obscuring God’s hand. Science in our era is either based on the truth that God created all things or the lie that all things evolved by chance. Dramatically different conclusions can be reached depending on which premise you start from. I could go on through each school subject, but hopefully you get the idea. Nothing in life is neutral, because God created and sustains all things.

Salt and Light

If the conversation on children’s education lasts long enough, another retort is inevitably brought up: salt and light. God commanded us to be salt and light, correct? So shouldn’t our children be His salt and light in the school systems?

It’s helpful to go back to the original passage on salt and light, where we see that God did not command us to be salt and light. Instead, He stated that we already are salt and light and commanded us not to lose our saltiness. Flavorless salt is not only tasteless and therefore unnoticeable, but it also doesn’t do the purpose for which it was used in the first century: preserve food. Just as salt without saltiness allows food to rot, Christians who pollute themselves and water down their thinking also fail to preserve the culture in which God has placed them. Understood correctly, the scripture regarding salt and light is actually support for the idea of godly parental education.

Not Everybody Can Do It

The final retort I always hear in this discussion is that not every family can homeschool. The examples brought up include families that only have one parent, families in financial straits needing two incomes, and families with serious marital problems that would interfere with homeschooling. There is a simple, though not necessarily easy, answer to this found in the Bible. The church needs to support families in doing what God has called them to do.

When a missionary is called to the field, the church supports him with prayers, contributions and volunteer work. A parent is as much a missionary as someone called to Africa or China, and the church has the same opportunity to offer support. If churches provided counseling, volunteer work, financial help, and prayer to struggling parents, nearly all the reasons for not homeschooling would disappear. It’s time for the church to step up and provide support for God’s work in families, rather than enabling excuses to avoid that work.

Parental Education is Mission Work

The gospel is spread first in Christian homes and then spills over to the rest of the world. The gospel is not merely an altar call. It is a life-changing, life-lasting work of sanctification that begins at salvation and continues through the rest of our lives. When Christ gave the Great Commission, He didn’t merely tell us to get people down the aisle. He told us to “make disciples.” That is a daily process that involves countless hours, efforts and prayers on the part of the mentor. What better place for that to happen with children than in their own homes with their own parents?

We can see over 100 years of fruit of ignoring God’s model in our culture. Nearly everyone has heard tragic stories of missionaries and pastors who neglected training their own children and as a result their children left the faith. Our modern churches are seeing the millennial generation leave the church in droves. That is in large part because Christians have farmed out the primary part of their children’s education to other people, most of them non-Christians.

When parents educate their children in the fear of the Lord, society is blessed and preserved through their influence. When parents abdicate their role and leave the education of their children to others, especially to a godless government school system, society suffers and becomes a “rebellious generation,” lacking the light and salt of a robust Christianity.

Considering all this, I think we can make a good case that churches do need to be teaching about children’s education from a biblical perspective. Though the actual outworking of parental education will differ from family to family, providing it is not a disputable matter.

Written by Heather Sheen

Monday, January 4, 2016

Some Is Better Than None

Ahh...a new year is beginning! Maybe you haven’t written your New Year’s Resolutions down, but there are probably a few goals swirling around in your mind. 

This year you’re going to exercise five times a week and lose 20 pounds. 
This year your family is going to eat much healthier. 
This year you’re going to keep your house much cleaner. 
This year you’re going to be a lot more organized. 
This year you’re really going to get a handle on the kids’ schoolwork and not get behind on any of it. 

If you’re like rest of us, this will all work beautifully through mid-January, at which point you will systematically begin falling off the wagon. However, when that happens the key is to remember this principle: Some is better than none. 

Let’s go over that again, shall we? Some is better than none

So you only managed to exercise once during a week. Some is better than none
So the only thing you got around to organizing by mid-April is your sock drawer. Some is better than none
So the kids’ schoolroom only gets tidied sporadically instead of daily, like you’d prefer. Some is better than none.

Keeping this concept in mind does several things. First, it lowers your stress and guilt level. If you’re like me, you continually fall short of your to-do list. If you’re like me, that stresses you and you feel guilty for every misspent moment of the day. I sat down with a cup of tea and chatted idly with a friend on Facebook for ten minutes—shame on me! I should have been organizing that stack of stuff on my desk! However, remembering that some is better than none lessens the pressure. The list might not get all done but we are not total failures if a couple of items are left over. We don’t have to run around in a guilt-laden panic all the time. Reality is reality and we seldom measure up to our own goals. Guess what? That’s life. So remember, some is better than none.

Second, acting on the idea that some is better than none actually enhances motivation instead of dampening it. Have you ever fallen short of your goal and become so discouraged that you didn’t even bother trying anymore? You couldn’t keep up that exercise routine so you stopped altogether. You didn’t have time for all the home-cooked nutritious meals you planned, so you went right back to the old habit of using pre-packaged foods from the freezer. You didn’t stay on top of the Bible memorization routine you were trying to do with your children, so you stopped altogether. I, at least, have been there and done that. We become discouraged because we set the standard to be “Absolute Perfection” and therefore even the smallest failure is a complete one.

However, if you believe that some is better than none, you keep trying. Sure, you’re not living up to the standard you’d prefer, but you don’t let that stop you. You know that even what you consider to be mediocre efforts bring benefits. One healthy meal a day is still healthier than a meal of junk food. Reading just one chapter a week with your kids from that biography you wanted to read together is still more informative and challenging than not doing it at all. Cleaning the school area every three weeks instead of daily still keeps the room cleaner more often than not doing it at all. It’s encouraging! Even if you’re not making the level of progress you want, you are still making progress! Looking at matters this way keeps you focused on the positive good you are doing, not on what you’re not getting done.

Of course, one might argue that the philosophy of some being better than none leads to all sorts of compromise. It could, if misapplied. There are some areas where anything short of excellence is sin. We wouldn’t want to say that some is better than none if we were discussing character issues like honesty or purity. For instance, Jesus never told us that hey, some truthfulness is better than none, or that some marital fidelity is better than none. There is a non-negotiable standard of excellence for certain things and to fall short is to break God’s law. However, if we step out of the realm of morality and into the world of sock drawers, exercise regimens, or math assignments, the standards are more flexible. Your inheritance in heaven is thankfully not determined by the state of your sock drawer. It’s okay to relax.

So as the new year begins, just smile and do whatever you can. It may not be all you would like to do, but it is accomplishing more and bringing more benefit than doing nothing. Aim high, but accept the fact that some days you’ll hit low. So be it. Even a low hit is better than no hit. Smile and try again tomorrow.

Written by Raquelle Sheen 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

None of Their Business

With the advent of social media, we are all encouraged to share every moment of our lives online with our friends. What we’re doing, what we’re feeling, what we’re eating, where we are, who we’re with, what we think about certain issues - this is the standard content of posts on social media. Sometimes, however, in the enjoyment of communicating our daily lives, we forget that occasionally people we don’t know very well are reading what we post. Depending on where we post (say, in a homeschool Facebook group), we may even be sharing with strangers.

As a friendly reminder, it is unsafe to assume that distant acquaintances and strangers online are automatically friendly to our ideas and lifestyle. For the safety of your children, it is important to remember that matters pertaining to your child’s health, lifestyle and upbringing should be generally kept private online. There are many well-meaning people who will not hesitate to meddle and cause trouble for you if they believe you are making the wrong decision in one of these areas.

Following are some specific areas to be cautious about sharing with people we don’t know very well online.

Medical Opinions

There is a divide right now between people who favor traditional medicine and those who prefer a more natural approach. For example, vaccinations are currently a heated topic. Some people consider vaccinating to be extremely unsafe; others consider not vaccinating to be extremely unsafe. While it’s fine for you to express your opinion online, it is not the business of friends, acquaintances, or strangers on social media what you personally have chosen to do with your own children. Your child’s medical history should be private. If you really want to weigh in on the conversation, link to articles and sources that prove your point, instead of announcing which vaccines your child has or has not received. The same holds true when discussing other controversial medical topics.

Medical Problems
Along these lines, your child’s medical problems and course of treatment are also not matters for public discussion. Can you post a photo of your son or daughter with their ankle in a cast after a painful collision on the soccer field? Sure. But the details of the treatment and healing process are not the concern of others. Additionally, be careful of posting a photo of your child’s medical condition (a burn, an infection, etc.) and asking for medical advice from people online. If you fail to follow someone’s advice (however erroneous) and they believe you are not taking the problem seriously enough, they may consider reporting you to authorities. Ask questions privately of trusted friends instead of posting photos publicly for everyone to see.

Lifestyle Choices
One woman I know of likes to post a photo nearly every day of her little children eating lunch. She details the menu, which is inevitably unhealthy and unbalanced, and shares the photo and the meal description in a Facebook group that has over 10,000 members. While everyone likes to share their occasional “Pinterest Success” meal photos on Facebook, your child’s day-to-day menu is simply not the business of strangers online. If a disgruntled group member became offended with this woman and decided to make trouble, they could spread nasty rumors that she is a bad parent who feeds her children poorly and possibly even turn her in to social services. Your lifestyle is your own business. Your housekeeping practices, daily schedule, daily menu, and other areas pertaining to everyday living are not the concern of the public, so don’t share them online.

Parenting Practices
In an effort to offer advice, parents will sometimes post about how they handle their child’s shortcomings. This is not necessarily bad, but keep the details vague. Your child does not need to have all of his deficiencies aired publicly and permanently to the online world. Nor do you need to announce the details of your parenting practices to a critical public. What goes on in your house is between you and your family only. It is one thing to say that when your child was routinely procrastinating on his chores, you curtailed some privileges. It is another to recount the situation in explicit detail and open you or your child up to criticism from people who are not involved in the situation. If you really think the person you’re advising would benefit from hearing more detail, send them a private message instead of posting publicly.

On the flip side, if you are the person asking for advice, ask judiciously. If you need to ask how others dealt with the habit of procrastination in their kids, that’s fine. But you don’t need to give several paragraphs of examples of your own child’s bad behavior. Among other things, keep in mind the possibility that your children may see these posts someday and fiercely resent you airing their personal delinquencies to the public.

Sharing our lives online is fun, but it is important to be cautious when it concerns your children. When in doubt, don’t post it. Your family’s business is your family’s business, not the business of friends, acquaintances or random strangers online!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

You Give Them Something

“Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’” (Matthew 14:16)

“Jim is so talented in music, we just had to send him to school to let him get professional teachers and orchestra experience.”

“Ann needs more help in chemistry and physics than we can give her. So she’s finishing high school in the public school.”

“Linda really needs a better social experience – she’s an only child, you know. So we’re sending her to a good Christian school this year.”

“We can’t afford to homeschool any more – we both have to work.”

Perhaps you have heard, or made, these remarks. In a time when homeschooling is legal and easy to do (unlike a couple decades ago), many homeschoolers consider it merely one option among several. And if there seems to be a limit to what parents can do in their homeschool, they immediately look for another option.

But if we Christians really believe that God has told us to teach our children day in and day out (Deuteronomy 6), then we can believe that God will make us able to do so.

I was recently reading the passage in Scripture where Jesus fed the five thousand men and their families. I noticed an interesting fact. Jesus told the disciples to feed the people. He knew that they couldn’t – not with what they had. But he told them to anyway.

The disciples immediately brought up their obvious inadequacy to do so. “‘We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they answered.” (Matthew 14:17) Whereupon Jesus performed the miracle of dividing the loaves and fishes, then gave them to the disciples to feed to the people.

Don’t we often act like the disciples? In homeschooling and in other tasks God has given us to do, we receive the Lord’s commands and then immediately point out why we are unable to obey them. Seriously?!  We are serving a God Who thinks nothing of dividing five loaves of bread and two fish to feed thousands of people! God divided the Red Sea so His people could cross. God made the earth stand still while His people defeated the enemy. Why do we doubt that He can and will help us obey His commands about raising our children?

Sometimes the obstacles God gives us are simply there to test our faith. As soon as we begin to pray and trust God to help us, He removes the obstacles or helps us find a way around them.

Sometimes the “obstacles” are really of our own making. Who said children need “socialization” with other children in order to be well-adjusted people? That’s not in the Bible, nor does everyday experience support that idea. Who said an institution is the only place to get a professional tutor? There are many people available who will tutor your child in almost any subject imaginable in your own home, and the internet is loaded with helpful free videos. Why do you need two incomes? Perhaps there are a lot of non-essential items that can be cut from the budget – or perhaps Dad can take a second job on the side instead of putting Mom to work. Often the solution to our “obstacles” is to simply evaluate whether they are really obstacles or only our own paradigms of reality.

We serve a mighty God who controls the winds and waves, not to mention homeschools. God in His wisdom has chosen to use us to implement His plans. Often He does not take the loaves and fishes and say, “Let me take care of this.” Instead, He says, “You give them something to eat.” And then He multiplies them for us!

Written by Heather Sheen