Last week I was able to attend a seminar presented by Calvin College which was held here in our auditorium. The guest speaker was Arthur C. Brooks, and the theme of his talk was “Bringing America Together.” His main point was how people have a tendency to look with contempt at those with different standards, opinions, or beliefs.
I was reminded of another seminar I attended a few years ago in which the speaker referred to the Law of Differences. The Law of Differences says that there are two paths we can take with regard to the differences we encounter in others. We can either judge others for their differences, or we can value others for their differences. When we judge others, we see their differences as weaknesses which leads us away from a relationship with them. Essentially, the relationship “dies” before it even has a chance to begin. However, when we value others despite their differences from us, we are laying the foundation for a thriving relationship, a relationship that “lives.”
We can choose to value another’s differences, or we can choose to judge them. Our decision dictates whether the relationship “lives” or “dies.” Of course, we are not going to see eye to eye with everyone, even other believers, but as Christians we should always strive to value the strengths in others, even those we may staunchly disagree with. As John 13:35 reminds us, the world will know that we are Christians by the love we have for one another.
What a good reminder to start of this new year—to love one another and value our differences.
You are invited to attend this series presented by Calvin College throughout the month of January. SJCS is hosting a simulcast each weekday from 9:30 - 10:30 in our auditorium. The January series is designed to help Christians Listen, Learn, and Discern. Here is a link to more information regarding this series.
Charles Spurgeon, a London pastor who lived in the 19th century, is known as the “Prince of Preachers” and for good reason. Spurgeon was renowned for his oratory skills and could preach sermons that would captivate his audience. Over the course of his 38 years as a pastor, thousands of people came to hear him preach and when he died, the whole of London mourned his passing. Spurgeon left a great legacy of stalwart faith in Christ and a treasury of writings still read and respected by theologians today.
One of his quotes which I came across the other day, challenged me as both a parent and an educator:
“You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, training them up in God’s fear. . .as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of Host.”
What a challenge for Christians! What an encouragement, also! While directed at parents, this quote applies just as well to Christian educators. Training Christian young people is serious business. We are working with parents to equip their children to be soldiers for Christ. Thank you, SJCS families, for trusting us with this awesome responsibility. Who knows? Maybe the world’s next Spurgeon will be one of your children. Thank you for helping us continue our legacy of offering a quality Christian education for almost 60 years.
First of all, I would like to say that our CityTeam food drive was a great success! Thank you to everyone who donated and those who helped organize the food drive. Not only did we fill up the ten barrels we had, but the overflow filled up an additional four barrels. Last week’s chapel speaker was a CityTeam success story. Scott spoke about how CityTeam provided food and shelter for him when he was homeless, but more importantly, he shared how CityTeam shared the gospel with him and changed his life forever. CityTeam is an excellent example of the gospel in action, and we are grateful for the opportunity to have a small part in assisting them with their ministry in our local community.
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, a time we traditionally set aside to fellowship with family and friends, indulge in delicious food and to focus on what we are thankful for. While the country at large may focus on thankfulness one time a year, Christians recognize that a spirit of gratitude should pervade our daily lives all year long. As fallible humans, however, it is not always easy to keep a thankful heart when our circumstances seem to demand a negative response from us.
Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances,” not some circumstances or most circumstances, but all circumstances. It would seem that God is asking of us the impossible. How does one give thanks in the worst possible circumstances? It is most definitely not easy, but it is possible. I am not suggesting that we have to be thankful for the bad things themselves, but we can be thankful for what God has done and will do in our lives despite the bad things. Our God heals broken people and redeems sinful situations and gives to those who mourn beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3).
We live in a fallen, broken world. Very bad and evil things happen to very good and righteous people, and it seems very unfair. Why do some seem to suffer so much and others hardly at all? I do not have an answer for that, and we will likely not know this side of heaven why God allows certain things to happen to certain people. One thing we rest assured of is that our Heavenly Father loves us with an everlasting love. He is working everything in our lives for our good and His glory, and His will for us is to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances” (Thessalonians 5:18).
As you enjoy the remaining days of holiday weekend, and while we celebrate the improved air quality in the bay area, please join me in continuing to pray for those devastated by the fire north of us. May each person see the Gospel lived out through our prayers and actions.
Many years ago, when my wife and I were young new parents, we read a book by Ted Tripp called Shepherding Your Child’s Heart. (This is an excellent book, and I would highly recommend it.) The premise of the book is that Christian parents should not just focus on external behaviors although that is important. More importantly, however, Christian parents should focus on the internal heart attitudes in their children. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Engaging our children’s hearts means reaching them with the gospel.
We as Christian school educators have the responsibility of doing the same thing while children are in our care. At San Jose Christian School we take that responsibility seriously. Our goal is not just a change in outward behavior, but a change of heart. We strive to reach each student with the truth of the gospel. It is much easier, of course, to deal with outward behavior because that is usually cut and dried; however, more often than not, outward behavior is an expression of the overflow of the heart. Luke 6:45 reminds us that “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” A permanent change in behavior comes from a change in the heart; therefore, we want to remove the “evil treasure” and replace it with “good treasure.” Reaching the heart of a child is harder and takes time, but this is the most important work of parents and educators.
How do we as parents and educators “shepherd” a child’s heart? Much like a shepherd who uses his staff to pull a wandering sheep back into the fold and away from danger, we must use the truth of the Bible to point out the sin in the child’s life and lovingly point them in the direction of the truth of the grace and mercy offered us by our heavenly Father. We must also be vigilant concerning the primary shaping influences in a child’s life which are the home, church and school. And, of course, we should pray for the Holy Spirit to work in our children’s hearts and for them to grow in their relationship with God.
Thank you, SJCS families, for letting us stand in loco parentis while your children are in our care. We do not take our responsibility lightly. SJCS has a long history of “shepherding” children, and our primary goal is to continue that tradition and for all of our students to grow in their relationship with the Savior.