Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Leaving Egypt and Entering the Promised Land

You have probably heard the term “Scope and Sequence” since you began your homeschooling journey. I remember hearing it too, and I was not sure of what it meant. So I looked up the definition. “Scope and Sequence “ means, what you are going to teach to your children and when are you going to teach it. One of the first places I turned to figure out what to teach and when to teach it, was the State’s Standards (also known as the State’s Scope and Sequence), and things that I remembered from my own public school experience. THAT WAS A BIG MISTAKE!!!! That should have been the last place I turned to, yet nevertheless, it was my natural tendency to turn there first because of the indoctrination that I was exposed to.
The California Education Code does not mandate us as homeschoolers to follow the State’s Standards regarding what our children need to learn per grade level. We have a great amount of freedom in California as homeschoolers, because the Education Code just states that we are to “offer instruction in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools.” Yet, we embrace the public schools’ Standards. What do I meant by that? The State’s Scope and Sequence tells us our children should be reading by age 5 or 6 years of age, so we think our children at age 5 or 6 should know how to read, or, according to the State, they should know their multiplication tables in the 3rd grade, and in the 4th grade they should be writing stories, otherwise, they will be behind. Behind what? The State’s Standards. Like the Israelites were in bondage to the king of Egypt, I was in bondage to the State’s Standards as a homeschooling mom because I thought I had to mimic the State.
Although it was not easy, I continued on in my homeschooling journey out of obedience to the Word of God, but I sought the Truth, the Holy Word, to try to figure out why my journey was so difficult. What I realized was the State’s Scope and Sequence dictated my priorities. However, if you were to ask me why I homeschooled, I would have said, “So I can raise godly children who would follow the Lord wholeheartedly and for my children to become leaders for Jesus Christ.” This biblical vision that I had for my children did not line up with the State’s Standards that I followed. The Word of God was not mentioned anywhere in the 12 year program of the State’s Scope and Sequence. Needless to say, I still clung to the State’s Standards because of how I was taught in the public schools that I attended for 12+ years. I thought that was the path to follow to teach my children and I would just add a little bit of Jesus to all of the academics. But there was not enough of God’s Word being taught to my boys and there was a constant tug of war between the spiritual things I wanted to teach them and the academics that I always felt I was behind in. Many days we would start with math or reading, because I felt my boys were “behind”, yet, I knew I should have started off with prayer, worship and the teaching of the Word of God. But because I was trying to keep up with the State, I would forsake the teaching of the Lord. I did not know how to balance the two priorities, the spiritual life and the academic life for my boys, so once again, I went back to the Bible for direction.
As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God is our authority. The Bible does not say, your child needs to be able to read at age 5. It does not say, your daughter should know her multiplication tables when she is 8 or your son should be writing stories at age 9. The Bible is what I am going to teach my children and it is going to be taught daily, regardless of where my boys are academically, according to the State’s Standards, (which I now refer to as, “Satan’s Standards”!) God’s Word is my priority, so I am going to embrace it as my ”Scope and Sequence.” It is going to dictate to me what my children need to learn. I am not going to balance the two so-called priorities, the spiritual growth verses the academic growth. When you think of the word, ‘priority’, you naturally think, what comes first. You don’t think balance! Put first things first. If it is godly children that you desire, seek the Word of God, not Satan’s Standards. The Word says to test all things. Line up the State’s Scope and Sequence with the Word of God. If your child is reading at age 5 or 6 according to the State, but their behavior with you is completely disobedient, something is out of order according to your priorities. Maybe your child writes wonderfully, but she has a disrespectful attitude towards you and your husband. My challenge to you is to ask yourself if that is what you want your child’s character to look like; they have the knowledge of the world, but their heart is turned away from you and the Lord. All of that is because of where we turned to receive our guidance on what and when to teach our children. The Word of God says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2
God’s Word is the perfect standard for our children and we need to embrace all aspects of it. For the Holy Word says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 Seek the Bible and do not be uptight and anxious if your child is not at the State’s level of reading, writing or math, etc. The State is not your authority unless you have given them the authority. I was in bondage to what the State said I needed to do. It took me several years to break free from that way of thinking and my journey is much more fruitful and my children are learning the things of the Lord. It has taken me several years to enter the “Promise Land of homeschooling”. I encourage you to teach your children to love the Lord first and foremost. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Deut. 6:5-7 Keep this verse at the forefront of your mind when things don’t go according to plan or when your children are not excelling in all of the academic areas according to the State. Remember, God’s Standard’s don’t require them to! Say “good-bye” to Egypt and “hello” to the Promised Land of homeschooling discipleship!

All This for the King

Homeschooling our children is a huge sacrifice of our time.  We have given up our daily freedoms in order to train and teach our children the things of the Lord.  Not many women would choose this path because of its’ difficulties, whether it be teaching our children subjects that are hard for us comprehend, let alone teach, or perhaps it’s spending 24/7 with children that are hard to handle, not to mention going against what society and sometimes well-meaning, Christian family and friends have to say about our chosen path of education.  We are investing in the lives of our children as we spend day in a day out teaching them and training them.  It can be a very lonely and difficult journey.  So, I ask you, is it worth it?
I challenge you this coming year to think of homeschooling your children in a different light.  Think of it as home-discipleship, not just education.  Ask yourself if you are preparing your children for a career or a ‘calling’, because there is a difference.  Having our children work in a high-powered or affluent career position serves our pride and ego because we were the ones who raised them and then later on in life the ‘career’ will serve our child’s ego and pocketbook; whereas a ‘calling’ serves the Lord regardless of the paycheck and recognition.  It’s that simple.
Let me share with you a true story of God’s hand upon one of His children and what He did through a willing and obedient heart, no matter the person’s intellect and education.
Her name is Gladys Aylward.  You may or may not have heard of her, nevertheless, it is an inspiring and comforting story for any homeschooling mom and therefore, it’s worth repeating.
Gladys was born in 1902, she was a housemaid from England and she had amazing faith in God and a determination to serve Him as she was certain that God had called her to China as a missionary.  While she was still a teenager she read a magazine article about China and the people there who had never heard the gospel.  The thought that millions of people had not heard God’s word affected Gladys so profoundly that she was determined to head to China to be a missionary.
What I found to be very inspiring in Gladys’ testimony, and what I want you to remember about this amazing woman of faith is this, (since you will be teaching your children), Gladys went to missionary school so she could receive a formal education, but at age 27, she was kicked out of the program because she failed Bible class!  Yes, you read that correctly.  I hope that statement gives you hope knowing that if God is calling your children into a certain direction He will provide what they will need to know. The missionary school director said Gladys was not quick-minded, nor qualified to go to China to be a missionary, plus she did not have any special skills.  She wasn’t a nurse or teacher, she was just Gladys Aylward, born to simple parents, her father was a postman and her mother was a housewife in a small, suburb of London.  Gladys went on to China regardless of what the school director had to say about her and her abilities because she knew what God had impressed upon her heart.  She made such a huge impact upon the people of China and many souls were won as a result of her obedience to God, in fact, she became so well known in China, that the people of the U.S. found out about her and they made a movie about her life.  God does not call the qualified, He equips the called!  That’s what He did with Gladys and that is what He will do with your children as well, as long as they have a desire to serve their King.
Will your children learn to walk by faith and not by sight as Gladys did?  Imagine if she had listened to the school director instead of the Lord.  I am sure that would be easy to do, seeing how he was qualified, after all, he had a degree, so according to the “world”, he must have been right about Gladys.  “Beware, lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world; and not according to Christ.”  (Colossians 2:8)  But God does not need a degree to train our children and ultimately use them for His glory.  What God wants is for us to have a desire to be like His Son and for us to train up our children to be like Him as well.
Don’t lose sight of the goal.  If the goal is the career, then you better make sure you hit those books and make sure those tests are in the high percentiles!  If the goal is to prepare your children for a ‘calling’, ask yourself “what does that look like?”  “How should I prepare them for a long life service to the King”?  Here are a few practical examples:
1. Work on their character!
  • For the younger kids, first and most important, make sure they obey you.  If you are always redirecting them and bribing them with something, you will have a hard time teaching them things that will require hard work and determination on their part.  Plus, you will not know if they are struggling in a certain area or if they are being rebellious; there is a difference between the two and as their teacher, you will need to know the difference.
  • Instill in them a desire to serve others and not to always be serving themselves and their own selfish desires.
2. Be on the lookout for what might be some of their spiritual gifts.
  • Encourage them to use their gifts and find opportunities for them to serve the Lord.  This will require you to go out of your way; and by the way, spending the time in this area is far more important than driving them to an extra-curricular activity once a month for pure enjoyment.  Yes, you can do both, but be mindful of teaching them to serve the Lord because it is not a natural thing for them, (or us)!
3. Teach them the Word of God.
4. Most importantly, live out the Word of God for them so they can see your faith in the one true God.
If you have children in the high school years, and you know what your child’s gifts are, they may need to have a degree to fulfill God’s calling on their life.  If God wants them to pursue law, politics, become a doctor, etc., then you will see that interest in your child and surely he will be on a path where he will have to hit the books, but it is for the Lord’s glory and purpose, not for your child’s own selfish ambition or your pride; remember the difference.
The days are coming when homeschooling your children will become more difficult than you had planned, the days when you feel you are not capable of teaching them, the days when you think they would be better off at public/private school, the days when the Enemy is screaming in your ear that you can’t do this and you ask yourself,  “Is it worth it?”  Absolutely, because you are doing ALL THIS FOR THE KING!  You are preparing your children to serve Him all the days of their lives.  Don’t be consumed with the world’s philosophy of education, God’s ways are always better than man’s ways.  “What does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 10:12)
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  Phil. 4:6,7 (NLT)