Archive for July, 2014

Looking Forward to August 18th

by Brian Ness, HCA Elementary Principal

Wow, the halls are quiet and no one is stirring, not even a mouse. The gym is dark and the cafeteria is empty. There is no one parked in the drive-through lane and the playground is void of movement. I can’t wait for school to start!

As the students arrive in front of the school building the first day of school, Mrs. Fedde will have them singing and praising the Lord even before they walk in the door. The music room and halls will come alive with the sound of music and Siahumba. Chapels will create a time of praise and worship and new insights will be shared from God’s word.

I can hear Ms. Hansen giving instructions before the class even walks in the room. The halls will brighten up as student art work is hung and content learning will be enhanced through cooperative lessons with classroom teachers. Exciting stories and new ideas will return with Miss Hansen as she shares her recent experiences in Africa.

Before you know it the Pre-Kindergarten class will be walking in to Mrs. Howeth’s and Mrs. Case’s happiest place on earth. They will learn how to sit in a circle, wait their turn, keep the sharing of germs to a minimum as well as the initial concepts of phonics, spelling, reading, research papers and the senior thesis.

Next door Mrs. Auch will be welcoming the big kindergarteners in to learn everything they need to know for life. They won’t take naps but some will fall asleep while they just lie down and rest for a while. More of them will be in Mr. Ness’ office than any other grade to learn how to stand in line and keep our hands to ourselves.

Excitement surrounds the first grade classroom with the arrival of Mrs. Pahlau. New ideas and a lot of love will be flowing out from the front of the room and before you know it, it will seem like she has been here forever. First graders will get to have recess with students from other classes and no one will need to see Mr. Ness because they all figured it out last year in his office.

As we move into the fall, we will think we were back in Kansas with Mrs. Miller’s second grade classroom. Fall colors adorn the walls and the smell of pumpkin pie somehow fills the room. Charlotte’s Web will draw the students in and they won’t want to quit reading for recess. What a great picture of a nurturing environment.

Before the semester ends, Mrs. Merkley’s third graders are preparing for Dutch Days. Stores are wondering why everyone is buying so many graham crackers, pretzels, gum drops, and windmill blue prints. Important life events are shared on the back rug every morning as praises and prayer requests are lifted up. And now the third graders are half way done with their elementary schooling.

We get down to business third quarter and before it’s over the fourth grader’s and Mrs. Pogue will have learned everything there is to know about Colorado History with the help of brand new textbooks. Back drops will be painted and costumes and props will start arriving. On the big day of the wax museum, the actual “characters” show up and take their places for all to enjoy.

In fifth grade everyone is getting ready for the Literary Tea. Christian hero research papers will be refined as will the students as Mrs. Chambers holds the annual Manners Class. As students arrive for the event in ties and dresses, Mr. Ness will contemplate having a Tea dress code for the whole year. Life long memories are made as papers are read and cucumber sandwiches are enjoyed.

The last few weeks of elementary school will rush upon Mr. Bruxvoort and the 6th grade students as they prepare for finals for the first time. Something new will be added to the reading books, tables, lockers and tablets blessing the sixth grade experience. Memories will be shared at the sixth-grade picnic and then it is on to Jr. High, Sr. High and following God’s path down the road of life.

Where did the year(s) go?

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The “Christian Bubble”

by Brittany Dimmen, HCA Secondary History Teacher

“Just wait until you get into the real world…”

“You’re limiting yourself to a Christian bubble…”

These comments and plenty more like them inundated my life as I grew up and I always suspected that the speaker was right. I was a little insecure and often felt that the words were spoken through a knowing and pitying gaze of condescension that were only missing a trite pat on the head. My daily life consisted of leaving my Christian parents, attending Heritage Christian School, playing volleyball with my Christian friends and then capping the week with youth group and Sunday morning church. I was in a “Christian bubble.”

I attended Heritage Christian from kindergarten through my senior year. I had wonderful teachers who challenged me to understand what I believed and why. I memorized bible verses each week for class and learned all about different arguments, fallacies and apologetics for the faith. I passed each semester of Bible class with 100%. And then it happened: I graduated and moved into the “real world.”

I attended a secular university and, as a Christian, was in the minority. I was barraged daily with pamphlets, bullhorns, questionnaires, contraceptives, and screaming activists who were all trying to be heard above the deafening noise of everyone else’s opinions. I watched as many of my friends and classmates (from Christian homes and backgrounds) fell away from Jesus. As my heart broke for the world around me, I wondered how these people who had grown up in a “Christian bubble” could change so drastically.

That is because it’s EASY. It’s especially easy if you take your “Christian bubble” for granted. I didn’t know what a blessing and privilege I had until I didn’t have it anymore. I realized that I had to read the Bible, memorize scripture, and pray and worship on my own time and of my own volition. Striving for excellence and righteousness is difficult and when you add the strains and temptations of college life into the mix, it becomes exponentially more so. It’s tiring to constantly swim against the current of society. But the struggle is so worth it and the Christian bubble that we, too often, take for granted lays a wonderful foundation.

During my college years, I had the opportunity to visit my best friend at her Christian college near Chicago and was struck by how much I missed that environment. Learning about Jesus in class, spending time in chapel, and meeting students who were happy and fulfilled in life was such a refreshing change of pace. I had forgotten how beneficial it had been to be a part of a strong Christian community.

The term “Christian bubble” is almost always used in a negative way but I think that is ridiculous. Surrounding yourself with others who are pursuing the same thing in life is not a form of coddling, but rather wisdom. Why not use as much time as you can to strengthen yourself in the Lord in an environment that is conducive to that very thing? That is not to mean that you should avoid every non-Christian thing because we are called to be witnesses to the hurting world around us. The Lord can absolutely use every school and situation for His glory, but if Christian education, whether at the elementary, secondary, or university level, is an option, I would encourage you to make the sacrifices, embrace the “bubble” and take advantage of the opportunity and blessing in front of you.

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Be the Change You Want to See

by Sarah Matlock, HCA Secondary Science Teacher

The other day I was at King Soopers waiting for my oldest to put the shopping cart away. I watched as she eased our cart into the cart parking structure. Then she did something that surprised me; she walked over to a stray cart and proceeded to put that one away. This was a gesture that struck me to the core, because it was the first time I saw my child emulate my actions. You see, for years I have had the habit of putting random carts away. I never explained to my children why I do this, the action is somewhat self-explanatory, nor did I ever press this duty upon them. It is simply something I have always felt led to do. At that point, watching my child subconsciously choose to make a difference filled my heart with great joy.

We have all heard the expression “actions speak louder than words”, but how often do we apply this to our interactions with youth, specifically in parenting. Ward Cleaver was a prime example of successful parenting that relied on deep, heart-felt lectures which forever pressed on the hearts of Wally and Beaver. But, how often do our instructions mimic the sound reasoning and logic of Mr. Cleaver, especially when we are dealing with tumultuous tantrums, deplorable defiance, and belligerent bickering. How often do we become the rage-filled parent yelling at our children all the way to the Christian school?

I am a woman of many words, and I will take frequent opportunities to impart my words of wisdom on my children (as much as they love it). But it took that one action from my daughter for me to realize that my actions are worth far more than my lectures. My children have seen me through many life stages. Whether it is waiting tables in the trenches or completing a Master’s degree, they have always known me as a busy mom. However, where I once considered this to be a source of guilt, perhaps this has been their source of strength. My experiences have taught them very specific life lessons: lessons in failure and success, following one’s passion while being led by the Lord, and most importantly peace through the storm regardless of the outcome. In short, my personal confidence and drive has instilled in my children the courage to passionately take on any opportunity that comes their way. Here is the kicker, I did not even realize I did this!

In the end, this is not about personal accomplishment or how much one can take on in his/her life. Rather it is about BEING the person you want your children to become. The Bible says in Deuteronomy 31:5 and 6, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” In light of raising our children, this brings a whole new meaning to this verse. For it is not our words that lead our children, but our personal walk; our walk in our careers, our walk in our family, and most importantly our walk with Christ. If we truly want our children to exude compassion, love their enemy, and trust whole-heartedly in the Lord then we must first be the change we want to see in them.

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Christians in Politics

by Christine Humphrey, HCA Science Teacher & Weld County Delegate

My approach to politics in the past was to do what I saw as my duty. Voted? Check. Another duty done, until the next election rolls around. And that was pretty much it. If I am quite frank, I dislike(d) the rancor and contentiousness that I perceived was associated with “political” issues and the political process. And my goodness, did it really matter what I thought and what I did anyway, politically?   I had lived my life that way pretty well since turning 18, up until the point that God brought our family to Colorado. I have found that one way that God stretches me, is to take an area in my life that I would rather not look at or change and force some re-thinking. Such has been the issue of politics for me. I freely admit that I am a work in progress. The thoughts I am going to share are not original to me, but have been expounded upon by much better writers and thinkers. This article will seek to addresses the following: 1) Should Christians be involved in politics? Why? And 2) How can a Christian be involved in politics.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)

Should a Christian be involved in politics? Yes. If we are to join Christ in His mission of redeeming and transforming a lost world, then no sphere of life should be considered out of bounds. Nancy Pearcey, in her book Total Truth, discusses the false dichotomy that some Christians have bought into, a sacred/secular split or fact/value dichotomy.

If we privatize our faith…we will play right into the hands of the philosophical naturalists, who likewise regulate religion to the upper story. Rather than attacking religion directly as false, which would risk arousing public protest, philosophical naturalists deftly relegate it to the “values” realm-which keeps the question of true and false off the table altogether. As [Philip] Johnson writes, religion is consigned “to the private sphere, where illusory beliefs are acceptable ‘if they work for you.’”
Unless Christians tackle this attitude head on, our message will continue to pass through a grid that reduces it to an expression of merely psychological need…It’s pretty tough to defend your beliefs with any dignity when they’ve just been labeled nothing more than fairy tales.
Yet Weinberg was only bluntly stating the logical consequences of redefining religion in terms of non-cognitive experience-exactly what Christians themselves do, at least implicitly, when they accept the fact/value dichotomy. (Total Truth, pp. 201-202)

The previous passage in Matthew reminds me that we are called to be both salt and light to a lost world. That means, that whatever vocation God has placed us in: parenting, education, business, science, the arts, medicine…politics, we are to live out our Christian faith, in such a way as to lead others to Christ. What I say I believe on Sunday, must be lived out in my life the rest of the week. Salt has many properties, not the least of which was its use in ancient times as a preservative and purifier. Anyone who has ever felt salt in a wound can attest to the pain that salt’s purifying effects can have. Dr. Kenyn Cureton of the Family Research Council says, “[salt] stings and burns, doesn’t it? When the truth of God’s word is rubbed into the open wounds of sinful society, it will sting and hurt before it can heal.” (Culture Team Impact Resource Manual, p. 8-9)

In addition to being salt, we are also called to be light. Light has an interesting effect on darkness, it overcomes it. Even a small light can be visible from far away when it is very dark. I have an older friend who is constantly telling me she needs more light to be able to see around her. Isn’t that the way it should be with us? Isn’t it interesting how we can get used to being in the dark (in fact our bodies can adjust to “see” when there is not much light out). However, if you think about when you are walking around in semi-darkness, most items have a grayish hue to them and their true colors are indistinguishable. You can’t see the bright colors that may be in that pretty orchid on the shelf, or the painting on your wall. This is happening today in our culture. Cureton points out “we are gradually being desensitized to the dimming conditions in our culture. Little by little, sin has been made to appear less sinful. No more black and white, just a dingy shade of gray.” (Ibid. p. 15) Instead of accepting this graying, we need to be shining as a light to a lost and hurting world.
Dr. Richard Land summarizes things this way:

Jesus has commanded Christians to be both salt and light. Salt is defensive in that it stops the decay and the degradation. Light is offensive: it dispels the darkness and illuminates the path. There are limitations to what the law can do. You can’t legislate revival or reformation. However, if revival and reformation occur, they will be reflected in legislation and society’s values.

The salt of the law can change actions, but it’s only the light of the Gospel that can change attitudes. The salt of the law can change behaviors, but only the light of the Gospel can change beliefs. The salt of the law can change habits, but only the light of the Gospel can change hearts. (Ibid, as quoted on p. 18)

In a letter to a friend, William Wilberforce said, “I know that by regulating the external conduct we do not at first change the hearts of men, but even they are ultimately to be wrought upon by these means, and we should at least so far remove the obtrusiveness of the temptation, that it may not provoke the appetite, which might otherwise be dormant and inactive.” (Amazing Grace, p. 78. Eric Metaxas). Recently I sat in the Old Supreme Court Chamber down at the Capitol in Denver and listened to a woman testify to how she had had multiple abortions while living in NYC. At that point in her life she did not know Jesus yet, and her thinking was “well, if it is legal, it must be alright!”

In his book Politics According to the Bible, Wayne Grudem makes the following statement:

….the mere existence of specific Bible passages that teach about government is an argument for “significant Christian influence” on government. Why do we think God put Romans 13:1-7 and I Peter 2: 13-14 and other related passaged (as in Psalms and Proverbs) in the Bible? Are they in the Bible simply as a matter of intellectual curiosity for Christians who will read them privately but never use them to speak to government officials about how God understands their roles and responsibilities? Does God intend this material to be concealed from people in government and kept secret by Christians who read it silently and moan about “how far government has strayed from what God wants it to be”? (p. 61)

Having argued that we should be involved in politics because we should not separate the secular from sacred, I would now like to proffer some potential ways one can be involved politically. Grudem continues in in book with another argument for “significant Christian influence” on government:

…in a democracy [we are a representative democracy] a significant portion of the ruling power of government is entrusted to the citizens generally, through the ballot box. To be able to vote is to have a share of ruling power. Therefore, all citizens who are old enough to vote have a responsibility before God to know what God expects of civil government and what kind of moral and legal standards He wants government to follow. (p. 62)

Notice the last part of what Grudem says, “ …we should know what God expects of civil government and what kind of moral and legal standards He wants governments to follow.” In order to know that, we need to be reading our Bible and working out how Scripture applies to many of the difficult topics of our day: war, same-sex “marriage”, abortion, pornography, poverty, capital punishment, education, and moral standards, to name a few.

In addition to voting, we should pray for our leaders and governing authorities (Rom. 13:1). Many passages in the Bible remind us that God is the one who institutes authorities and kingdoms for His purposes and plans. We can pray for Godly leaders to be put in place, we can pray that those who know God would govern according to Biblical principles and not grow weary, and we can pray that those who do not know God may come to saving faith and that in spite of their unbelief, that God might use them for His glory.

Furthermore, in Colorado we the people also have the ability to be involved in the political process from a grass-roots level. In many states, candidates are often appointed or vetted by the “Party”. Here in Colorado, individuals can participate at the precinct caucus level where they themselves can “run” as a delegate to decide who will be on the primary ballot. Most counties have already had their County Caucuses by this point. There, delegates voted for candidates to be placed on the primary ballot. This process allows for more direct input into who the candidates are for a party. Primary candidates for: State Senate, State Representative, County Commissioner & Commissioner-at-large, County Sheriff, County District Attorney and County Clerks are all decided at the County level. Candidates for positions such as Federal Congressmen, Federal Senators, Colorado Regents, Colorado Attorney General, and Colorado Secretary of State are all decided at each party’s Congressional and State Convention (which again “we the people” can be part of by starting at the Precinct Caucus level). Too often we bemoan when some piece of legislation gets passed, but never stop to think that we did little to stop the chain of events that led up to that point. President James Garfield stated:

Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them…[if] the next centennial does not find us a great nation… it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.
[James A. Garfield, The Works of James Abram Garfield, Burke Hinsdale, editor (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1883), Vol. II, pp. 486, 489, “A Century of Congress,” July, 1877.]

Lastly, maybe God is calling you to be involved directly at some level by either running yourself, or supporting good candidates who are running. City councils, county councils, school boards, to name a few, as well as State and Federal level positions are all in need of individuals who will govern wisely. Many people who can vote don’t, even fewer get involved in the process of helping to choose who will represent them. We have the privilege of participating in this process in our state and country, let’s not waste it!

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