27 October 2008

homeschooling in light of Psalm 1~

My MOMYS friend, Misti, brought up an interesting scripture to ponder in light of homeschooling. This is a scripture that most of us are familiar with, I even remember memorizing it in church as a child. While it has great thoughts and wisdom for evaluating how we walk through life, and who and what we allow to be our primary influences, it never occurred to me that it can speak volumes in the choice we make in regards to how and where we educate our children.

Psalm 1
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

What does this mean for us as parents when it comes to educating our children? Not only educating, but how, and to what extent we "shelter" them? What does this say?
To me, it says this:
My children will be blessed by not being in the counsel of the ungodly, by not standing in the path of sinners, by not sitting in the seat of the scornful.
Who would argue that when a child is immersed in a classroom filled with peers, that the majority of time, they are walking in the counsel of the ungodly? Who are they asking for advice, whose opinions are they learning to value? Mine, or their peers' and a teachers' who may or may not have the same beliefs and values we want to impart? Even if one is lucky enough to have a teacher who is a Christian, their influence is going to be limited to morals only, no Biblical examples or discipleship allowed.
If my children were in a school setting, they would be surrounded, eight hours per day, by children largely left to their own devices. No one is there on the playground to guide them in righteousness, in kindness toward others, in purity, in seeking truth and learning to love the Lord. Take a moment to close your eyes and think back on your school experience. Were you peers encouraging you toward godliness, or caught up in the things of the world? How would your life have looked had you had godly parents that put your learning the Word of the Lord and learning His ways the main focus of their day? (I am not saying that homeschoolers have a perfect experience, far from the truth. I am also not saying that just because you had Christian parents that chose to send you to school, be it public, private, or "Christian" that they didn't love you as much as they should have, I'm just making a point that godly parents, fully aware they are sinners saved by grace, being a child's primary influence vs. peer influence is huge. And I had all three school experiences. Public, private Christian (trust me, not all it's cracked up to be, the sin is just hidden and God is mocked in private), and homeschooled.) In my opinion, putting my child in school is placing them square in the path of sinners. Yes, of course I am a sinner as well, but in the face of sin, I can repent, ask forgiveness, and acknowledge sin as sin in the light of God's Word.
And where else in our culture is the seat of the scornful (toward Biblical teaching and truth) if not our academic institutions? Maybe not so much at the elementary level (although that could largely depend on where you live), but the level of mockery and scorn toward Biblical truth increases the higher up in the education system you go. All of us have heard the stories of middle schoolers, high schoolers, university students being mocked for taking a stand for their Christian beliefs. Just the label of "Christian" invites the insults to flow. I have even heard of elementary age students being openly mocked in class for questioning the political correct "teaching" of their teachers. God help us as this current generation comes of age and steps into the realm of influence.

My children will be blessed if their delight is in the law of the Lord, and if they meditate on that truth day and night.
One of the things the Lord has opened up to me more and more the further I get into homeschooling, is that the teaching of His Word, and the discipleship of my children in His ways is to be my number one priority. Bible time needs to happen if nothing else does. His calling to keep my children at home and be their teacher has pretty much zero to do with my ability to be a superior academic teacher and everything to do with sheltering them (defensive) and bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (offensive.) Academics are hugely important if I want my children to be respected and have the ability to be an influential leader in whatever realm the Lord places them. So we don't discount academics, we just believe that when He says to "seek first His Kingdom and all these things will be added" that it's a pretty clear priority list.

As my children grow into adolescence and on into adulthood, if their delight is in the law of the Lord (they value what His Word says above what the world or their peers would tell them), and if they choose to meditate on it day and night (ponder it and allow it to be their primary influence), then they will be like a tree planted by streams of water that brings forth its fruit in season, whose leaves will not wither, and whatever they do shall prosper.
Pretty self explanatory. I want this for my children. And I believe the best way to accomplish the impartation of this wisdom and these values is by homeschooling. Can children grow up in public or private schools and walk with the Lord? Sure. Absolutely. Do homeschooled kids "go bad?" Sure. That's why it all comes back to the grace of God, knowing it's not about me, and that it's all about Him. It's why I plead for His grace, His mercy, His wisdom, His insight, His understanding, and His guidance on a daily, if not literally hourly basis.
But I would encourage you to evaluate the educational setting your children are in in light of Psalm 1. And not only the educational setting. What are they watching? What are they listening to? Who are they playing with for large amounts of time without your careful supervision? Would the Lord have anything to say to you? Do you have ears to hear? Are you willing to follow Him even if His leading goes to a different path than you would prefer? Are you willing to do the hard thing? I'm not saying that the path we have chosen as a family is right (though I believe it is) and you are in blatant sin if you choose differently than we do, but I want to encourage you to seek the Lord's heart for *your* family, and be willing to follow Him, regardless of cost.
So many of us that grew up in the church went through some point where we considered missions. "Yes, Lord! I'll follow you! You want me to go to India and serve in the slums? Sure thing!" Or some variation of that. What about, "Yes, Lord. I'll change diapers for years on end, clean up spilled milk, drown in laundry, endure sleepless nights and long for adult conversation. I'll love you with my whole heart and demonstrate that passion for you on a daily basis so that these little ones will grow up surrounded by the presence of the Lord and learn that intimacy with Him, and knowing Him is to valued above all else. I'll keep them home so they can learn these things and see them walked out hourly. I'll sacrifice lunch with friends, shopping, having a spotless house, having "me" time in abundance, and my personal agenda, even career, to raise up little ones that You can use in ways I can't even imagine." Or some variation of that.
I have many friends that have chosen to put their children in school, for one reason or another. Some of them have given up. Homescooling was too hard. (There, but for the grace of God, go I. I am not judging.) Some of them feel the Mom needs to work. (Again, no judgement.) Some feel that it truly is in their children's best interest to grow up with diverse social and cultural experiences, and one way that is accomplished is through a school setting. Some are afraid of what homeschooling will *do* to their children. Some have no idea its really an option, and some just don't care. Back to what I said earlier, I just want to encourage us to seek the Lord with a willing spirit, and listen to what He has to say. Do I have areas in my life where I still hold my ears all while saying "Here I am God, I'm listening" and want to pretend I'm not seeing where I need to change? Yes, I do. I can even tell you what a couple of them are. I never want to stand on my soapbox of perfection and tell everyone else they need to get it together. I just want to encourage all of us (myself included) in this messy process of sanctification and staying on the straight and narrow. Following Him whose life was anything but cake and featherbeds.
And really quickly I want to address one thing again, and ask a quick question of those of you that have chosen to not homeschool and are fully convinced you are walking in the path God desires for you.
So really quickly, I wanted to bring up again the point that in the Bible we are to be salt and light, and that Jesus Himself ate with sinners and sought them out. My firm belief in these things are that this does not apply to our impressionable children. The Bible clearly speaks of children being brought up by their parents in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, learning the ways of the Lord as they walk along the road, lie down, etc. I do not believe children are the ones being called to be salt and light in every day life. And as far as Jesus is concerned, He was released into ministry at the age of thirty, after He had been baptized, and tested in the wilderness, being found faithful. Only then did the Father release Him into His ministry.
Any my question is honest. It's not meant to provoke or incite division, I have truly been thinking about it in the recent months. Please hear my heart. It's hard for me, because I know without a doubt that the Lord has called us to homeschool. I believe in it 100%, and honestly, don't understand how Christians can send their children away every day. Yet as I said earlier, I have many friends, friends that I know love the Lord and love their children, that have chosen to put their children in public or private school. So my question is what has the Lord told you or said to you to cause you to believe this is okay? Where do you think I am wrong? I have two friends that I truly believe are doing the right thing by putting their daughters in school as I know it was a difficult choice (they previously homeschooled), and it was confirmed in several different ways. These girls have a wisdom and maturity beyond their years. They are being used as salt and light, and let me tell you, it is not easy for them. But I definitely believe they are the exception.
So for everyone else, I always wonder. I know this question comes about because I believe in homeschooling so strongly. Honestly, I would really just like a little insight. It is hard for me not to judge sometimes (although I really love and respect all these people), so I guess I'm just asking for a little peek into your thought process and beliefs. I want to understand. I used to know so many people that homeschooled, in my circle it was more common than not, but over the years, more and more people have "given up." (And most of them will freely admit this so I'm not making an outside judgement.) Some say the Lord had different plans for their family for the current year (I know few that ever go back to homeschooling once tasting the freedom), and some say they take it year by year. Okay. My question is: Where do you see in the Bible that sending your children out like sheep among wolves is okay, is justified, or is the Lord's will? I only see protection, nurture, shelter. What has He said to you to cause you to believe His desire for your children is something other than homeschooling? In what ways has He confirmed this? What did/does that decision making process look like for you?
...stepping off my soapbox, watching the worms crawling out of the can...

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HC said...

Ok, I'll be the first to leave a comment, I guess! Your thoughts were confronting that's for sure.

I have 3 step-children, that live primarily with their mothers, and their mothers have chosen they go to Catholic schools. Obviously, we don't have a choice to homeschool them. However, when they are in this home, Christ is the center and Christ's word is the center. Often, we have conversations re: the catholic belief and how it is VERY different from our Christian belief and we ALWAYS, ALWAYS are able to back it up with Scripture. I think its important to them that we can SHOW them the answers and truth - since their teachers, priests, etc.. only TELL them.

Anyway, I have two children of my own (from previous marriage) that I am the guardian over. They were only 3yo and 3 mos. when my husband left, so I was forced to go to work, thus I was unable to homeschool (although that had been the plan when they were born). I did push for and was able to send them to a Christian school, up until they were in 5th grade and 2nd grade (2 years ago).

At that point, I was newly married and able to stay home financially. Although, I had no qualms with the school, the teachers, nor the Biblical learning that I had seen developing in my children - God spoke to me and brought homeschooling to the forefront of my mind. My new husband was supportive. And, good news, my ex-husband, at first, was supportive! My DH and I, felt that this shouldn't be a permanent decision, but that we should stay in tune with God and take His will school year by school year.

Let me tell you - homeschooling was tough! The kids had already been acclamated to the "school setting", friends, etc.. Their step-siblings were still attending school. And only a few months in, my ex became unsupportive.

I ended up spending months in court with my ex, (he was trying to get a judge to MAKE me send them to public school - HA!) I had faith that this is what God wanted for us, but being in court sure can be intimidating! My kids would come to me with questions in their eyes, and all I could tell them was, "this is God's will". And I know I have received the blessing of a newfound respect and trust from my children, because of my stand for God's will alone.

Now, the next school year came up, and we felt God wanted us to send them back to the same Christian school (not because of any courts decision, they basically told my ex to "pound sand"!). Do I know why? Do I think God wants harm brought to them physically, emotionally, or spiritually? No! It's not my place to question Him -but to follow.

I do miss homeschooling and wouldn't mind if someday God called me to do it again. (Although, I know it would be another battle!). However, I do believe it is every family's individual decision.

I believe God has a plan for each family, and as long as we follow HIS plan for OUR family, HE can be the protector we need Him to be. HE can be the provider we need Him to be. And HE can bless us in the way He desires, because we are being obedient to HIM.

Sorry, for the novel, but you did ask!! :0)


HC said...

P.S. I hope I didn't offend anyone, that was not my intent! I LOVE homeschoolers, and if things hadn't ended up the way they had with my first marriage, I would have homeschooled, rather than sending them to a Christian school. But, I do feel that the school they are in is the next best thing.

Rebekah said...


I enjoyed your post. I completely agree with you. To me the school they experience, the TV/movies they watch, the books they read, the people they are around constitutes the counsel with which they walk.

I want for my children a counsel of the godly. I know the tendacy of children (and adults for that matter) to emulate what and whom they are around. I want them to emulate serveant-heartedness, mission-mindedness, whole-hearted love for the Lord, and even that uncommon respect and love for siblings and family. (My list could go on, but I know you get the point.)

I believe part of "training up a child in the way he should go" involves avoiding "the counsel of the ungodly" and intentionally emersing them in the counsel of the Lord.

Maybe I am off-track, but I am just naive enough to believe the Word and follow its plan for our lives the best way we can see how.
I know following my own devices would probably end up sour! :-) Thankfully, after walking this path (in child-raising) in faith for 12 years, I can now see how it completely makes sense and how it has totally blessed our family. (And we can see the incredible fruit in the lives of families who have been walking this path for 25 or so years.)

In the heart of our home,
We cannot boast about tomorrow, but we are experiencing the fruit of what we believe are His Ways so far. We are trusting Him for fruit in the future.

"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about arithmetic, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness." ~GK Chesterton

2012 November

2012 November