Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Cousins at our church's annual picnic.

Like you, I have been thinking and praying about the new school year.  Each year I analyze what we have been doing and ask the Lord for wisdom going forward. 

As our older children are either in high school or heading that way (I will have a 10th grader and an 8th grader this year) I had some additonal questions for the Lord regarding sheltering and how much to expose them to as they grow into the women He desires.  

The Lord's timing is perfect and as we had the chance to spend some time with some dear friends who are also missionaries, I feel like the Lord again helped to steer my thought process.

Tom and Lydia participate in three legged race!

1.  I asked my missionary friend what she thought about exposing older children to the specifics of false religions/ comparing them to Christianity. 

We have always stuck by Deuteronomy 12:30-31 which says:

"Take care that you be not ensnared to follow them,
after they have been destroyed before you,
and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying,
‘How did these nations serve their gods?"

In context I know that the Israelites were not to inquire how others served their gods that they might not be stumbled and do the same.  

My friend wisely answered that the Lord convicted her husband early on (and she has followed his lead) to study the Bible alone so that when something false came accross his path he would know it to be false right away.  She shared that this decision has made him very sharp biblically and has been a great asset to his ministry. 

She encouraged that if our children are well grounded they will know what is false.  In later years if they need to look up specific details they will, but from her perspective this generation's greatest need will to be ready and sharpened by the Word alone. 

Pa and Uncle Ted pulling for the same team.

It brought to mind the true example of how federal agents are trained to spot counterfeit bills:

"Federal agents don’t learn to spot counterfeit money
by studying the counterfeits.
They study genuine bills until they master the look
of the real thing.
Then when they see the bogus money
they recognize it.”
-John Mac Arthur

Are we having our children study (memorize and meditate on) the real thing alone so they will be equipped to spot the counterfeits?  Or are we teaching them the counterfeits and muddying the water?

Team cousin.

2.  I also asked her opinion about the scope of education and the idea that homeschoolers often fear their children will be ignorant if they have not mastered every grammar principle or Latin by the time they reach High School.

My dear friend answered me with a true story.

There was a Christian brother she met who was imprisioned for his faith while living in a restricted nation.  During his imprisonment he was given a blank notebook.  
With the help of the Holy Spirit, he began to write down passages of Scripture that he had previously put to memory.  Psalms, the book of James and more.  

The verses were given back to him in chapter chunks, and bit by bit he began to rewrite the words of his Lord.  As he did, he could not help but share God's Word with those around him.  Soon men in his prison were converted and worshiped Christ.  

The authorities did not like the fact that Christianity was spreading and so they transfered him to another prison.  Of course you can guess what happened next.  He continued to write and speak God's Word- and more men were converted added to the Kingdom of God.  

Again and again they moved him, and again and again men came to faith by the Word.  Clearly the Lord was blinding the eyes of those in authority to the true cause of the "problem."  Instead of stopping the spread of the gospel, the prison guards were personally facilitating the missionary journey of one of Christ's living epistles.   

You are our epistle written in our hearts,

known and read by all men;
clearly you are an epistle of Christ...
written not with ink but by the Spirit
of the living God.

2 Corinthians 3:3

The sponge race hand-off.

Eventually this man was released and returned to his family.  He brought the handwritten Bible with him and began to teach his grandchildren from it.  He checked this Book with one of the other two Bibles in their assembly and it was found to be word for word.  

My friend encouraged that homeschoolers today should focus on grounding their children in the Word.  She said she hoped the homeschoolers would be the living epistles in their generation and that we would make Scripture memory a high priority. 

For our boasting is this:
the testimony of our conscience
that we conducted ourselves
in the world in simplicity
and godly sincerity,
not with fleshly wisdom
but by the grace of God.

2 Corinthians 1:12

As I have been studying the Scripture recently I was impacted by the thought that knowledge- all we think we know- will pass away when the perfect comes.  Only love will remain.

Love never comes to an end.

There is the gift of speaking what

God has revealed, but it will no longer

be used. There is the gift of speaking

in other languages, but it will stop

by itself. There is the gift of knowledge,

but it will no longer be used.

1 Corinthians 13:8

My fun friend, Danielle.  She plays to win!

By God's grace may we seek the lasting thing and may we see living epistles raised in our midst.

Grace and peace,


  1. Love it! Great article and very timely. So I want to see more picnic pics. :-)


  2. I love this! Not just as a reminder to parents for kids, but a reminder to adults too - to spot false wisdom, you constantly have to be steeping yourself in the real thing.

  3. Thanks Sis. Great weekend. I bet we'll all enjoy more on Sunday! :)

    Amen, Liz. Thanks.

  4. Great post! As I prepare to teach only one child for the next 5 or 6 years, this gives me encouragement to spend time memorizing scripture with her so that we can both be prepared for our future.

  5. Good stuff. "to study the Bible alone so that when something false came across his path he would know it to be false right away" And yes you do!:)

  6. Rebecca,

    I entirely agree with you that it's crucial that parents who homeschool not allow an academic agenda to supercede their primary role as "disciple makers." That is, from a priority making standpoint, it's clear that "teaching Latin" comes after "teaching the Word." That said, I think it would be a mistake to assign that task -- teaching the Word - as a particular "homeschool" task -- it's the job of *all* Christian parents, whatever their schooling preference. I do think it's important *as a homeschooler* to strive to cultivate in our children a love for learning, and minds that are equipped to meaningfully engage with the world around us.

    So thanks for that reminder. It can be so easy to allow the pursuit of temporal priorities to get ahead of eternal ones.

    One more note. Your mention of Deut. 12:30-31, I think, misses the key point of that text. The entire context reads:

    “When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods."

    So in its complete context, the text is not a warning against understanding other religions, but against *adopting their worship practices* in our worship of the Lord. The Lord's concern is here not to keep us "unscathed" by a familiarity with false religions; but to warn against *imitating* them with practices God has not commanded. Put in Christian theological terms, it's a reminder of the "regulative principle."

    I think if we look even briefly at the NT, we find examples of believers who are, in fact, familiar with the false religions around them. Paul clearly was familiar with temple practices in 1 Corinthians, and in preaching in Athens was familiar with their practices as well (Acts 17). So there is Biblical precedent for being familiar with the false beliefs all around us, and I might argue, even good *evangelistic merit* for doing so.

    All that said, of course, I completely agree that our *greatest* need is a strong grip on the gospel, on the whole of God's revelation and our own faith. But I think it would be a false dichotomy to suggest that we ought to dismiss or undervalue opportunities (1) to build up our minds in other disciplines/subjects such as logic or Latin, and (2) to understand the false beliefs of those around us so as to be more effective and faithful evangelists to them (and even guard ourselves against their errors).

    Thanks again for stirring up my mind. =-) Blessings to you and your lovely family!

  7. Thanks Yvonne- That is the same encouragement it gave me!

    Thanks D. I hope to. And yet I still find leaven to purge every year. :)

    Hi Evers,

    I love you brother and always appreciate your thoughtful comments.

    I hope you saw that I said: "In context I know that the Israelites were not to inquire how others served their gods that they might not be stumbled and do the same." I do think that I understand what was being said.

    Each family, with the help of the Holy Spirit, must measure where their own children are and decide how much information to share and when. We should not presume to know what is "need to know" for another family. Or assume that teaching the ins and outs of false religions won't stumle little ones. Truthfully, while I have run accross MANY resources that encourage us to open up these ideas and teachings to our children, I have run accross very few homeschool moms that are saying they are not. The Lord seems to be leading us not to for now and I am willing to share that (possibly unpopular) idea with others. :)

    Our desire is to share how the Lord is leading our family after discussion, prayer and- this time a meeting with some older and wiser friends. It may not correspond with how the Lord is leading someone else's family. That is ok with with me. I enjoy the liberty I have in Christ and hope to extend that same liberty to others.

    Evers, I ask you to be open to the idea that (as a dad) you may not fully understand the pressures the average homeschool mom faces. While we all desire to strive for excellence for the glory of God, each year we must ask ourselves what true excellence is- by the standard of God's Word alone. No- I am not opposed to building up our minds with logic or Latin, but I do not esteem those things as highly as knowing the Word. I think we agree on that point. It is the point God seems to making loud and clear in our hearts.

    Yes, Paul knew about the monuments of the Romans because he saw them. He was a grown man grounded in the Word and able to use the opportunities around him with the hopes that some might be saved. Amen!!! We do not get the impression he was taught the ins and outs of false religions as a child. That is the point our friend was making.

    As you see, Paul is exactly who I am quoting through the entire post. The Lord has been using the study of 1 and 2 Corinthians to make me keenly aware that He does not esteem fleshly wisdom but the grace of God. 2 Corinthians 1:12 I am simply seeking to follow His lead. :)

    Hugs dear brother.

  8. So Rebecca, just in "practical" terms, how do you approach teaching something like world history? I ask because teaching about the ancient world, for instance, seems nearly impossible without at least mentioning other religions and false gods. Do you simply read about those without delving in, or do you skip the material altogether? And if you avoid the material altogether, do you wrestle with the idea that giving children half of the "tapestry"-- if you will-- might do harm when they go to understand the unreached? Might home be a training ground for sharpening their minds to truth? Cannot scripture be primary (in fact, central!) while effectively denouncing other ideas, even for a child? It is hard to convey over the computer, but I am asking in the spirit of gentleness, not with any kind of need to discredit this idea. :) I'm wrestling myself... (This is timely, as we just read the Proverb about muddying the righteous waters and discussed what that might mean for a family seeking God!)
    P.S. If you ever have the time, I would love a post on how your methods/materials might have changed from your first homeschooled child to your fifth! What does an experienced homeschooling mom choose differently? What do you wish you would have considered early on?

  9. Thank you for your honest, practical question Anonymous. I'm afraid my full response is too long for the comment area. Maybe I need another blog post. :)

  10. For the answer to your question:



  11. Rebecca,

    Thanks for responding, both above & in your other post. I think I understand where you're coming from, and can see how in certain contexts, homeschooling moms (and dads!) feel a certain pressure to match step-for-step the curriculum, achievements, etc. of their peers. And in addition, there's always a temptation to be led away from keeping the main thing (the gospel!) the main thing.

    So I respect your motives, and appreciate your explanation. As you said, I suspect our two families -- or every family, really -- may end up varying in our exact choices of what to emphasize (and exclude). I trust that the Lord, regardless, will use our *wholly inadequate* parenting by his grace and lead our kids in his way to be effective ambassadors for His kingdom *almost in spite of us.*

    Thanks again for your gracious response! Blessings to you all!

  12. Thank YOU, Evers both for being willing to ask and for listening to the answer. You obviously are not just lobbing bombs over a wall, but willing to respectfully discuss and allow for differences in Christ. That, I believe, is as the Lord intends it. He calls us to fellowship- often with people different than ourselves- and in so fellowshipping we should experience exchange (not mortal and unforgivable offenses). As we ask one another why each believes this or that it drives both parties to the Word and we are sharpened. Thank you for being a mature brother that I respect.

    We love your family.

    Greatest blessings to you!