Category Archives: Wisdom

What is Character Education?

This question was asked on a private education page where I post regularly, I took the time to develop an answer.
The systematic training and development of children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Eph 6:4
It is the outworking of Deuteronomy 6.
Specifically these verses “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up. Deuteronomy 6:4‭-‬7 NASB

It is good to read the entire passage to see the reasoning behind why we would do the teaching, guiding and nurturing we do on a daily basis with children.

Keep in mind, if children are young and have not been saved yet, we are not separating character training from the gospel but reminding them that these are things God will develop in them if they believe in Jesus as their Savior. We discuss the basics of the gospel- I Cor 15:3-4, our sin, our need of a Savior, that Jesus, as God, lived a perfect life and died for us and rose again to show He had power over sin and death, and how we can respond in trust. We want to see them walk in obedience to us as parents and be kind to others on the outside, but more than that we want them to put their hope and trust in Jesus Christ.
Once they have trusted Jesus we can continue to encourage the development of the things listed below.

Biblical Character Education involves teaching them many things. For a good resource, I recommend Kim Sorgius has developed kids bible studies that aid this learning that you can access here: about the fruit of the spirit and how they can demonstrate those in their lives from Galatians 5:22-25
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

In order to walk in the spirit that means it also involves teaching them about spiritual gifts and how they can exercise their spiritual gifts in the body of Christ.
See Roms 12, 1 Cor 12,

But more than just teaching it also involves a systematic daily intentional focus on developing these characteristics of godliness in their lives.

Suggestion: Have a character trait of the week that you incorporate into everything that you teach.
For instance if “gentleness.” Read a verse every day that had to do with gentleness.
Talk about how that could be demonstrated in daily life and then as things came up throughout the week practice the exercise of gentleness or talk about how to exercise gentleness.
For example, if another child was struggling with something rather than making fun of them or mocking them, we would come alongside and ask how we could help and be kind.

A great deal more could be said but the most important part of this is the intentional systematic development of Godly the character. Luke 2:52 says Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.

Another list that needs to be added to this is in II Peter 1.
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.  Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.  I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind. 2 Peter 1:2‭-‬15 NASB.

That is a good starting place for thinking about Biblical Character education. I welcome your comments and feedback.

 

New Bible Study for you. Is God There? 34 Ways God says He Is Faithful.

About this book:

Have you ever asked the question, “Is God there?” Is He really faithful? If so, how? Have you felt some deep pain and been glibly told “God is Faithful” as a quick fix, when you really needed to know how God could help? Now, you have in hand a ready list of all the ways God says He is faithful, with an explanation of how these verses fit in their context, and how these truths apply to help you.

To purchase the book through Amazon go here Is God There?

To purchase through Pay pal go here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=R85MG3PY2TCE2

Watch a video interview with the authors

Forgiveness…Can’t be done..Or can it? “Victim” to Victor

I was literally gasping for air…physically choking on my own avalanche of emotion and confusion.  What did they just say? I can’t grasp this? What does this mean? Does it mean what I think it does? The relationship was severed….instantly with nothing I could do but reel physically in shock and the crushing kaleidoscope of emotions that were threatening to drown me….. trying to come up with a way to take the next step, let alone walk to my car and drive away…

I had trusted that person with my soul, my deepest pain, my heart, and they had simply dismissed me with a “flick of the hand.”  They had promised to support and help and assured me they were trustworthy…. and then..BANG they were not!!!

….when I most needed them to be.  It reminded me of the words of a song

“I leaned my back up against an oak…I thought it was a trusty tree…but first, it bent and then it broke (Bob Dylan).”

Only in my case, there was no bend!  It was an instant SNAP and CRASH!  What was even more crushing is I had no one to talk to about it. No one who could understand what this terrible tear meant in my soul. Part of me died that day and I was sure it would never EVER revive again!  The ensuing weeks and months were lived in a mindless numb shell as I carried on the functions of life without a soul.  I literally felt like a switch had been snapped between rational logic and emotion.

Those of you who know me may be shocked to know I felt that way..after all,…I am the MK (missionary kid) who knows more verses and Biblical songs by heart than most people I know…. because I was raised memorizing them and loved singing so have been called a walking hymnbook by some… But that was my reality at that point. My world was instantly catapulted into an emotional vault that words could not touch for a time.

I had been trying to learn how to trust again and the one person I thought I could trust to help me, had proved untrustworthy and walked away.  The picture I had in my mind was of being rowed out on a dark night into deep water and then told to get out of the boat and start swimming. The assurances of support and guidance were there until I was in the water and then… they were GONE! I was left to find my way back to land in the dark in water over my head… good thing I had learned how to swim as a child… but in the depths and not being sure which was land????…. God led me back to land in ways no person could.

I felt like I had been taken in for open heart surgery and then left on the table to figure out how to sew myself up, get up and walk out of there without any help from anyone. I did sew up and walk out by God’s grace alone. But in the process infection set in… and I was in a dark place of confusion between indescribable grief, despair and anguish once I processed what had happened. I would certainly never trust THEM again or ANYONE else for that matter.  Because I had no one to talk to at that point, the pain, gut-wrenching sense of loss, and confusion got buried into deep crevices in my soul like puss does in infection.  God left me alone with that dark place for a time, because we all need to know how helpless we really are before God can do anything with us… before He intervened … but that is for later. It took a full year for the emotional confusion to clear enough for me to fully grasp truth again and for God to use some wise people to carefully reinvite me into the world of trust again.

I was driving to a place of retreat and on the way was begging Him to help me out of this, to find a way back to hope and light and life if it was ever possible to recover from this kind of utter crushing? I was listening to the audio version of Andy Stanley’s Enemies of the Heart.  Trying to figure out how to get past this to a point of forgiveness… I finally understood in a powerful way how Jesus felt when his disciples deserted him in his hour of greatest need for emotional support. Andy’s book was a HUGE help in unraveling how to think about all this, but it took time for me to absorb the truths while battling the emotional blocks.  My mind still whirled and at times would be caught in a downward spiral of “How could they? and I  didn’t deserve this!!!  They completely misunderstood and misused me!! and I am all alone!! and No one understands!!”  You may also be familiar with the  “beat me up” or “beat them up.” ideas that plague the mind in these dark moments of the soul? The Psalms are replete with David’s thoughts like this.

I was aware in the fog of emotion that I was in a battle of a lifetime to regain control of my mind and in doing so I would be able to stop this emotional volcano. I had no idea how to do it. So I begged God for help and below is what I did.  (I have now told enough people these steps that I thought it was time to put it in one place so I can send people here who ask me how I was able to, not only forgive, but enjoy spending time with this person again.)

“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons
are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end,
but by His making us wait,
bearing with us in love and patience
until we are able to honestly pray
what He taught His disciples to pray:
Thy will be done.”
~ Elizabeth Elliot
(for those who may not know her story, her husband was killed senselessly.
You can read about it, in this book. Through Gates of Splendor)
I love how God patiently waits when we are in these dark places until we can see Him and then gently helps us to walk out of it. He truly is the Gentle Shepherd!
I  have learned a great deal in the months and years since then, but to begin with, this was the first most important step and lesson. .. I can say much more about the Biblical verses. I knew those but I had never been in a place like this where words meant nothing and I could not control the raging emotional overload. A pressure cooker had exploded all over my soul and I had to find a way to put the pieces back together.  I will develop more of the Biblical part of this in the coming weeks but for now, this had to be step one!
 I am going to be very practical with this because the pat “you just need to forgive them” was simply not working!!
I needed a real way to get out of this tunnel of emotion!!!
The first thing I needed to think was “not forgiving was actually giving ammunition to them. It was hurting me, not them. It was allowing them to continue to ruin my life.” That was NOT ok with me. I NEVER wanted them to ever have any control over me again!
Once I fully realized that I was not willing to give them that kind of control over my emotions and mind anymore. They had betrayed me.  Jesus Never did. He had to be the controller of my mind and emotions!
Then I learned that forgiveness is a process… it’s not a one-time Act. Every time thoughts of that person came into my mind I had to intentionally tell God I needed help to forget them.
Then I had to force my mind to go somewhere else regardless of how my emotions were raging.  It truly was one of the most difficult things I have ever done!!! But I was determined to win by God’s grace!
I knew I could not take it on all at once so I picked one the specific times of day that were often trigger points. Usually, times when I could be alone with my thoughts, like when getting dressed or showering or driving to work.
I picked…
driving to work time.
Then EVERY day for 3 weeks, I refused to allow thoughts of that situation to control my mind for that time.  When a thought would hit, I would intentionally force my mind elsewhere by praying, singing good songs, like these ones,   Beside Gentle Streams: Hope for Hurting Hearts.  or this one Don’t be Afraid, reciting verses, calling someone to encourage them, or things like that.
The first day was impossible but I  got a few mins of relief, the rest of the week was nearly impossible..lots of tears…begging God for help…
When God wants to do something big,
He starts with an impossibility,
then it is difficult,
and then it is done!
~Hudson Taylor
The second week got a little bit better. I would play good music, I would think about the things I loved…I would pray, I would sing or play good music.
By the third week, I could see the thought pattern was finally breaking and with it some of the deep crushing emotion. So I picked another point of the day that I used to dwell on those thoughts and went after it in the same way. It was easier but still a challenge.
I kept working at it till each point of the day was broken, despite setbacks, and in time the pain Eased, the soul-crushing grief became manageable and I could move on.  I learned the real truth of the verse “having your senses exercised…Hebrews 5:14” (that word exercise in greek is the word we get  “gym” from. We develop brain cells just the way we develop other muscles in the body by working them which gives all new meaning to Romans 12:1-2 and especially the phrase “renewing your mind…”.  I have learned lots about the science behind mind, emotion connection as well. (more later)
My motivator was that these people were no longer allowed to control my emotions and my life. God was the only one who got to do that!
Thinking this way rather than trying to determine whether or not they deserved it, helped,….they didn’t deserve forgiveness…neither did I….none of us “deserve” it, we were all eternally condemned till Jesus died for us… We have to turn to Him, recognize him as God, believe that his death on the cross paid the penalty and ask for His forgiveness ourselves to guarantee a place in heaven. Keeping this truth in focus also helped!
It really had to be about getting back my life, my heart, my emotions, My Hope in Christ, My joy in Him, my ability to serve Him, separate from any other person.
What God has done since then is more writing and God’s work in progress.
Gentle Shepherd
Oh, the Lord is my Gentle Shepherd showing me the way.
Through the darkness, through the sunshine,
He will never lead astray.
He is with me ev’ry moment, He’s in my heart to stay.
Oh I feel His arms around me, and I hear Him gently say:
~~~~~
I am the Gentle Shepherd watching over you.
I am the Gentle Shepherd and I’ll surely see you through.
I have been where you’re going and I know what you have to do.
Oh, I am the Gentle Shepherd, and I gave my life for you.
~~~~~
If you’re looking for a Saviour, looking for a friend,
Oh let Jesus be your Shepherd, He will love you till the end.
The door is always open, come now and don’t delay.
And He’ll be your loving Shepherd; He will guide you all the way.
~~~~~
He is the Gentle Shepherd, watching over you.
He is the Gentle Shepherd, and He’ll surely see you through.
He has been where you’re going, and he knows what you have to do.
Oh, He is the Gentle Shepherd, and He gave His life for you.
He is the Gentle Shepherd.
words by Duane Nichols, music by Duane Nichols and Mary Lynn Van Gelderen
recorded on Come and Sing by the Stouffer Men.

“Ginger” a Boylston Home Story.

Ginger came through the door of the Boylston Home with a 14-year-old sullen look on her face. She slumped in a chair and glared at me and her social worker. I was amazed at how many 14-year-old girls we had come through the doors. Did you know that being 14 is a very difficult age especially for girls? The hormones are raging! They’re trying to figure out who they are separate from their families, and life is very difficult at that age! She had been brought in as an intervention between home and some other place where social services was going to place her. She was absolutely NOT happy about being there. As we talked our way through the initial interview, when I mentioned the fact that this was a home where we believe the Bible and where we attend church, she angrily protested that she wanted nothing to do with religion, that we were not going to make her believe our stuff.

I immediately agreed with her because Christianity is not just a religion, it is a way of life, it is an understanding of who Jesus is. Nobody can force true belief on anyone else!  Only God can touch a heart and help them to see and understand their need for Him. Jesus does say “no man comes to the Father but by me (John 14:6).” We continued to talk and the social worker told her quite simply she had two choices, stay with us and comply for the three weeks or she got to go spend some time in a much more restrictive placement. She really did not want to go there so she grudgingly accepted the terms of staying with us.

We always gave a Bible to every girl who came through the doors, so we gave her one. She took it almost like it was going to bite her and set it on the table. As those three weeks progressed she would comment on and off about how stupid all this stuff was and that nobody was going to make her believe it. We quietly agreed with her, it wasn’t up to us and that we simply were giving her truth and information that she was fully responsible to choose to accept or reject on her own. The night before she left, she was packing up her things and I glanced into her room to see how things were going. She was nowhere near as angry as she had been when she first came in and she had settled into a routine and realized that we really did care about her and was actually somewhat upset about moving on. We chatted for a bit and then I left her room. When I went downstairs, Brittany, the house parent’s daughter, came up to me and said, “I’m really feeling led to give Ginger a Bible.”

I curiously replied, “Well that’s interesting because we already gave her one, but if you’re feeling that strongly about it then you go right ahead, maybe she’ll give it to somebody else.”

The next morning was a set for her goodbye party. Whenever a girl left the home, if we could anticipate her date and time of leaving, we took time to go around the table and talk about and encourage the characteristics that we had seen in her life, areas where she demonstrated solid character and growth and areas where we felt that she was gifted and could do things that would make a difference in the world. Most of the girls came to us completely crushed by life and we wanted them to leave knowing that they were specially created by God and could do great things for Him if they chose to follow Him. And we would usually give her some things to take with her.
Ginger was laughing and enjoying the party and opening the gifts.  However, when she opened Brittany’s gift, her eyes grew wide, and she dropped it on the table like it was a snake and gasped, “I can’t believe this!” Brittany gently said, “Open the front cover, I wrote a little note in there for you.” She reached out with a trembling hand and opened the cover and looked inside and then snapped it shut immediately, staring almost wildly at Brittany and then at me, she exclaimed, “What in the world! I can’t believe this! This is just too freaky! This is like, Beyond unreasonable! What …….she trailed off, “I can’t hide it, How did you know?..
We were all completely baffled by her response and I asked, “Ginger? You’re going to have to explain yourself, what’s going on?”
She looked at us with this strange expression of disbelief and stammered, “I tore up the Bible you guys gave me last night and threw it in the trash because I told you I wasn’t going to believe this stuff and God’s not real and I certainly wasn’t going to take it with me!! And here it is in front of me completely intact!!! The exact same color and everything…. same style…the same Bible….that’s just beyond weird.  What is even crazier is knowing that I tore that other one apart and then reading what Brittany wrote inside here is insane.”

I asked her what Brittany had written. She read, “A Bible that’s falling apart belongs to someone who is not.”
I could not help smiling as I thought about how God had made Himself and His Word powerfully real to her and every other person sitting at the table.

I asked, “Well Ginger, are you going to tear this one apart too?”

“No way!” she retorted “I can’t!  This is too crazy! This is too real. I guess I need to take this a little bit more seriously than I did.”

I agreed with her, “Yes, God has gone out of His way to make sure that you knew that the Word of God could not be destroyed in your life and He has something He wants you to do with your life for Him will you read it now?” She promised she would.

God’s Word will stand forever.  The Bible will prevail, and you can trust it.  More importantly, I loved that all the other girls were sitting there watching what God had just done in her heart to help her realize that His Word is real, and He is real.
1 Peter 1:24 The grass withers. The flower fades, but the Word of our God endures forever!