Tag Archives: Classical Christian Education

Truth

How many of you wear glasses or contacts?  Why do you wear them? It is because something is lacking in your vision and the glasses, with the lenses in them, corrects the problem.  Without those glasses you see blobs. You don’t see rightly.

We have worked our way through Psalm 1.  I realize that it has taken us until April to get through 6 verses.  I guess you could say, it is about time we made through the whole Psalm.  I like to think of it more like making haste slowly.

What I would like to do with the few chapels that we have remaining is to step back and review the big ideas from Psalm 1.  I would like us to hold Psalm 1 up and put it on like a pair of glasses to look at the world through its lens. To correctly see the world around us. Let’s look through the lens of Psalm 1 and let’s see how it views the culture that we live in today.  For each chapel coming up, I will give one or two statements that summarize truth from Psalm 1. Today is statement #1. Here it is:

You and I live in a world of right and wrong, good and bad, true and false.

We do not live in a world of relativism.  I know that’s a big fancy word so here is what I mean.  Relativism is an idea that what I believe to be true for me and what you believe to be true for you can both be true, even if those ideas do not agree.  It is an idea that nothing is for sure. Nothing is absolutely true. It just depends on what you think is right. It’s relative. For example, if I decide to cross the street anywhere I want, and you decide to cross the street only at the crosswalk, it is fine, we both are OK. No one got ran over. You are right and so am I.  It is relative to each person. How about this example? When a teacher asks for quiet, most people are quiet but some whisper, both are basically doing the right thing. Right? Or saying you have read a book when you have read most of the book, or glancing at someone else’s paper on a test but answering most of the questions on your own, or not saying the bad word, but only thinking it in your head or mouthing it without any sound, or looking at something inappropriate on a device but just real quick, and on and on.  

We see the world around us telling us that there is no absolute truth, no real right, and wrong. You can decide. If a lot of people are doing it, it is fine. The teacher steps out of the room and tells everyone to be quiet, what sometimes happens? A few people start talking and then more and more people join in. If someone else is doing it then it must be Ok. Right? It is relative.

Psalm 1 annihilates relativism.  

You would only have to read Psalm 1 to know that the idea that nothing is absolutely true and it just depends on what you think is right, is absolutely wrong.  Here is why.

First, Psalm 1 tells us there is a God.  We all have come to a Christian school because we all believe that right?  So that is really not that big of a deal, right? Psalm 1 tells us, not so fast.  There is a difference between knowing that there is a God and actually believing that there is a God.  One is knowing the facts in your head and the other is having it in your heart. If this was no big deal then why do the first two commandments talk about it? No other gods but God, commandment 1 and don’t have idols, commandment 2.  Those commandments tell us don’t replace God with anything else. God knows our heart and how we so much want to be like God. Wasn’t that the temptation of Adam and Eve? The sneaky snake said, eat this and you will be like God. We all must admit, we are all tempted in that same way.  We all want to be kings and queens of our lives. We want the control to say, or think or do whatever we want and have it be totally fine. No problems. Guess what that is? Relativism. Truth depends on me and how I want things to be. So relativism isn’t just out there in Hollywood or in news reports or the world outside of these walls.  No, it is a very real struggle that you and I face every day. Here is the point,

there is a God and it’s not you.

  Second, Psalm 1 tells us that God is the one who created everything.  There is a mom that comes to school every Thursday to the kitchen and makes goodies for a program called Fed by Bread.  That’s why it smells so good on Thursday. She is the creator of that bread. She takes the ingredients in just the right amounts and follows precise steps so that she gets delicious bread.  It would not be that way if she grabbed a bunch of flour and threw in sugar and oil and water and dumped in yeast mixed it up and threw it in the oven. Same ingredients but very different results.  The one who creates it defines how it is made and what it can and cannot do. The bread can’t stand up and say, “hey, I wanted to be a steak”. God created us which means he has defined how we are to live and when we follow His design, we can enjoy life.  If we try to be something we are not, for example, try to be God, its like bread trying to be steak, it is absurd and a complete waste. We are to obey our creator and follow Him as He has told us how to live.

 Third, since God created everything, it means He decides what is truth.  In fact, He is the truth. As much as we want truth to depend on us, it cannot because we are not the creator.  God tells us what is true. What is right. What is wrong. It does not depend on what people think. Or how popular it is.  There is a right way to use the mind God gave you and a wrong way, right way to respond to a parent and a disobedient way, a right way to use your time and a wasteful way, a good use your energy and a bad use, a right way to use your money and a wrong way.  

When I talk back to my parents, roll my eyes at my teacher, gossip about a classmate, that is wrong.  Even if it makes me feel good. Or no one sees me do it. Or others think its funny. None of that matters.  What is wrong and what is right is defined by God. Not you. Not me. Again, we must all be honest and realize that we don’t like that.  We want right and wrong to depend on what we think. How others react. If we get caught or not.

Relativism is everywhere.  The idea that there is no absolute truth is everywhere.  Including your heart and mine. Let us not forget truth #1 of Psalm 1, You and I live in a world of right and wrong, good and bad, true and false.  We must see the world around us and our hearts through the lens of Psalm 1. Otherwise, we see distortions and can believe them to be the real thing.  In order to know the truth, we must be lead by our great guide who gives us the Bible to be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

Perish

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Two weeks ago we talked about how everyone has a destiny.  Destiny means that there are certain events in the future that will happen.  When Darth Vader tries to get Luke Skywalker to turn to the dark side, he says, it is your destiny.  Vader meant this will happen. Thankfully this wasn’t Luke’s destiny because the next movies would have been totally different.  It wouldn’t have been quite as interesting to see them build yet another death star and then have no one to destroy it.

Destiny is the truth that choices and actions will lead you a certain way.  To a certain end. God is a God of order and if you do things a certain way, you will end up in a certain place.  For example, if you stop studying for your tests, stop doing your homework, and instead play minecraft, what will happen to your grade?  It is absurd to think you will make the all A’s honor roll. It is just as absurd to think you can live your life however you want and then expect God to say “well done good and faithful servant”.

In Psalm 1, King David says that if you follow the path of the righteous, which means turning from the path of the ungodly and meditating on God’s word, your destiny is redeemed by Christ and will lead you to heaven.  What is interesting is that seems like a great way to end the first psalm but he doesn’t. He ends with

“but the way of the ungodly shall perish”.

King David says just as sure as we are of the destiny of the righteous leading to heaven, we can be just as sure as the choices, attitudes and actions of the ungodly, will lead to their destruction.  

A famous preacher of the past, Charles Spurgeon said,

“Sinners cannot live in heaven. They would be out of their element. Sooner could a fish live upon a tree than the wicked in Paradise. Heaven would be an intolerable hell to an impenitent man, even if he could be allowed to enter.”  

What Spurgeon is saying is that even if a sinner, by himself, could go to heaven, they would choose not to because they love their wickedness over truth and beauty. This shows how strong our attraction to sin really is. We would want to live in sin than go to heaven.

It is easy to believe that when we look around and see people we obviously can tell hate God but what is extremely difficult to believe is that we all, myself included, have that level of darkness lurking in our hearts.  It took the most extraordinary event in human history, the death of Jesus on the cross, to break the power of sin and the powerful bondage we all were under from it. Only by faith in Christ can we have a destiny of light over a destiny of darkness.  

It seems so obvious that choosing the ungodly path and perishing would be a bad choice.  Why do so many choose it? And if we are honest, why do we sometimes choose it? Only something so powerful and sinister could twist our mind and heart away from the amazing gift of grace secured on the cross, to something that would lead to death.

This is what King David has been fervently warning us about in this first Psalm.  What is this dark and sinister thing that lures our hearts and minds? It is this, you will want to load everything you can into this world so that you only live for yourself.  You will want to get as much as you can out of this world that while you are alive on this earth, you won’t care about living for the next world.  For heaven. You are asking this world to be something it cannot be and that is paradise. God created it good but it is not heaven. God created all the things of this world good, and to be enjoyed.  That big juicy steak. A sunrise on an ocean horizon. Those big white soft snowflakes that fall. The love of a mother. The loyalty of a friend. The satisfaction of success. All these things and more God gave us.  But we confuse all the stuff of this world with our identity. We think that this stuff makes us who we are. Instead, all this stuff is pointing upward. It’s pointing to an amazing creator, to a God who so loved us that he sent His only son to rescue us.

We try to make for ourselves a heaven on earth where we are the rulers of our little kingdom.  We try to become little kings and queens. We want to make the rules. To choose when we want to work hard.  Who and when we have to obey. What we spend our time doing. If we want to be on our phone, then no one should tell us to put it away.  If we want to go home and play video games instead of doing chores, studying for tests or homework, how dare our parents tell us otherwise.  This “me first” way of living is not just a bad idea. It’s not just a bad choice. No, it is much deeper and much more serious. It is a serious heart issue.  

King David writes that when you choose your own path, where you reject God as the king and creator, and that path is the road to destruction and if you continue on that path, you will perish.  We all must look at our lives and decide what is truly important to us. Do I joyfully obey or do I roll my eyes and sigh? When I am asked to help out around the class or at home, do I do it right away or only when forced to?  These are little signs that tell you where you are heading. The direction of your heart. What kingdom you are living for. Your little kingdom, population 1 or God’s huge, amazing, big kingdom that includes the entire history of the world past, present and future?  A kingdom that loves God and loves their neighbor.

Easter is not about bunnies, baby chickens, candy and eggs.  It is about how God sent his son to rescue you from your little kingdom and how he will take you to His huge kingdom that leads to paradise.

Psalm 1 ends with a scary warning that we all must listen to.  The danger is to think I became a christian so I don’t have to worry about perishing any more but the warning is that every day you are moving in a direction, either the way of the righteous or the way of the ungodly.  Christ died, was buried and rose again to give you the grace you need every day to choose the way of the righteous. 

Glory

Have you ever wondered why we love a selfie?  It has become such an obsession that phone camera designers added the ability to turn a camera around by a push of a button.  Instead of pointing the camera outward, you can flip it around and point it at yourself. Why do we love pictures of ourselves? It’s not like we don’t know what we look like?  

The answer to that lies in the very beginning of the Bible when it describes the origin of the universe and cosmos.  You could say the four most important words in the Bible are, in the beginning…you?….No, in the beginning…God.

You see God has a rightful place as king of his kingdom because He created it. And as king, he is glorious. His glory is about God’s greatness, beauty, and perfection of all that He is.  All that He created was for His glory. We were created for His glory. When he put us together, he wired us for glory. We were made to live for the glory of God. It is in our DNA. In a perfect world, we would be happy to give God the glory for everything but we know this isn’t a perfect world. Our sin twists that desire for glory and instead of living for the glory of God, we look to ourselves and want to live for our own glory. It’s like a glory selfie.  

As we honor those that have achieved good grades over the course of the 3rd quarter, I want to make sure that why we want good grades is more than getting a free dress day and some free food. It’s more than wanting to be recognized for being a good student. All of those motivations are shadow glories and will disappear when you chase after them.  No, my challenge to all of you and myself included is to pursue excellence, work hard, and attention to detail, for the glory of God. The 4th quarter has already started and it is a time to finish strong. Not so that you can be recognized but because you realize that God has given you a mind, a body and a soul to be used to its fullest and without God you would be nothing.  

Why does God deserve all the glory? It’s not like what you see on TV when an athlete makes the game-winning shot and wants to start the interview giving a shout out to Jesus but then spends the rest of the interview talking about himself. We don’t do our thing and then make sure we send God a thank you note. We need to humbly realize that you and I would be nothing without God. Every brain cell, every muscle, every gift, talent, and ability comes from God. Can you read well? Does math come easy? Do you get good grades in Latin? Art? Music? PE? Give Him the glory for all you do because He should get it. He deserves it. You find success in those subjects because God gives you that success. You don’t have anything that God did not give you.

On the flip side, when you have the ability to use your mind and body or when you are called to show virtues of hard work, perseverance, and carefulness, and choose not to. You are stealing the glory away from God. If you are not working towards your full potential each and every day, growing in the grace that God gives you, for His glory, then you are moving in the opposite direction and seeking your own glory.  You think you are too important to do what a teacher asks you. You are going to do your own thing, your own way. You are not going to change your attitude because you think you are too righteous and don’t need to be corrected.

You see when glory is not given to God, it is an incredibly dangerous thing. We think more highly of ourselves because we think we deserve the glory.  My challenge to us all for this 4th quarter is to humbly admit there are times and places in each of our lives we live for our own glory. Then in a broken and contrite, humble heart, live our lives for the glory of God. What that will look like at school is doing our best and giving our best each and every day. Being humble in correction.  Working to be obedient with a happy heart.

The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31  

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

We don’t have the strength to do that on our own. Our focus needs to be outward and upward. Not turned around on us. No more glory selfies. 

Destiny

“For the Lord knows the way of the righteous.”

Let’s be honest, it is very hard to live a righteous life.  To truly obey God and his commands day in and day out. It is hard to obey right away all the way with a happy heart.  To not complain and grumble. To say no to other people doing the wrong thing. There are so many people and things out there that are so attractive but wrong.  People who look like they are having so much fun. Laughing and having a great time. They look like they have a lot of money and success. They are on TV. They have friends.  Sometimes saying no to temptation and bad things is, well, boring. Lonely.

Here is what King David wrote, the Lord knows the way of the righteous. When God says He knows someone, He knows it like a potter or woodworker knows the item that they made.  Each detail they have created and gone over with such attention. God created us and knows our every thought, word, and deed. Now at first, to be honest, that scares me.  I know I have thought, said and done things over and over on a daily basis that are sinful. But here is the amazing truth of this passage. If we are God’s children, which means we have been given the faith to admit our rebellion against God and believe that our only comfort and hope in this world and the next is Jesus.  If that’s true, Jesus takes off our filthy, dirty rags of rebellion and hatred towards God, and places the royal robe of His righteousness over us and when God now looks at us, it is as if we never sinned. All He sees is the perfect righteousness of Christ. Amazing.

But sometimes God seems so far away.  In the day to day moments here at school and at home, the temptations come out of nowhere.  They pop up in your face. It seems like when you do the right thing, you lose friends. It is confusing to know what is the right thing to do sometimes.    

There was the youngest brother of a large family. His older brothers hated him.  They hated him so much that when he went out to the field where they were to check on them, they wanted to kill him.  Instead, they settled for throwing him into a deep well. Eventually, they sold him as a slave. Can you believe it, their own brother!  Now a slave in Egypt, Joseph, works hard, is diligent, attends to details, and does the right thing day in and day out. He gets noticed and promoted because God blesses Him.  As He does his work as unto the Lord, he is all of sudden faced with the wife of his master who is lustfully tempting him to indulge in momentary pleasure. Here is Joseph’s response,

How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?  

His righteous stand eventually leads him to be falsely accused and thrown into prison for years. Again, He is diligent. Works hard. Does not complain. He gets promoted and is blessed by God. He interprets Pharaoh’s’ dream and becomes a ruler of the greatest country of that time.  A great famine comes over the land. There is no food. Only Egypt has food, thanks to Joseph’s planning. Guess who shows up in Egypt? Joseph’s brothers. The ones who wanted to kill him and sold him into slavery. When Joseph finally reveals himself to them, this is amazing, he says,

“Please come near to me.” (He doesn’t cast them away looking for revenge) Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not, therefore, be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. God sent me before you to preserve a future generation for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God.”

Here is the point.  Joseph refused to trade momentary pleasure, anger, revenge or feeling sorry for himself for the righteousness that God requires.  You see you cannot have it both ways. You are either moving your life in the direction of things that last only a moment and serve our own wants, needs, and desires or you are doing things that make the desire of your heart want to know God and His word more.  There is no in between. Every moment of your life and mine is moving us somewhere and in some direction. All those moments are marching towards a destiny. You don’t think this moment matters?  You don’t think that resisting a temptation really doesn’t matter?  It does. It matters for your destiny. Joseph knew that he could not compromise. He put His trust in the Lord. God was with him the whole time. In the dark well, through the desert, in the prison, and on the throne. God was with him and knew him and strengthened him to live a righteous life despite any temptations.  

Don’t miss this point. Your life is made up of millions of moments that are all marching towards your destiny. If you trust God with your heart, he knows you. He has made you righteous so that your destiny is with Him forever. You can stand up to friends who are making bad choices. You can say no to temptation. You can stand alone because you really are never alone. You can do your work as unto the Lord. All of this pleases the one who has done everything you need to live a life that glorifies God.  Hold on to the righteousness of Christ and do not compromise it. When it’s hard, scary, confusing or lonely. He is the great Jehovah who will guide you, every step of the way towards a destiny that glorifies God.

The Seven Deadly Sins Series with Rev. William “Geoff” Smith

The Bible says that a man who controls his temper is better than a man who can overthrow a city. Jesus himself says that anger can start a process in which an individual and the communities of which he is a part can devolve into the fires of hell. Paul says that unchecked anger gives a foothold to Satan. If anger is so dangerous and so difficult to overcome, what can we do about this powerful passion that dwells within us?

The Bible and the Christian tradition through the ages offer several solutions. We’ll start with tradition and end with Scripture. Thomas Aquinas makes the point that

one must distinguish between just and unjust anger.

Just anger is anger which desires to correct sin (whether personal or in others). Unjust anger is anger which wishes to harm others or get even. Knowing these distinctions can be very helpful, as we can ask, if we’re angry, “Do I wish to harm another or to correct sin? If I wish to harm, I should shut my mouth and not act right now. If I wish to correct a sin, I should measure my words to do exactly that and nothing more.” Another strategy, which Jesus recommends, is to take extreme ownership over your community, team, or family and if you are about to worship then remember that if you have wronged another, go reconcile immediately.

In other words, the Christian is a part of a kingdom whose citizens all take 100% ownership of their actions and therefore try to right whatever wrongs they have done.

A final strategy is one offered by Paul the Apostle. In Philippians 4:8-9, he recommends thinking of the best in others so that we might experience the peace of God in the midst of interpersonal conflict.

Coming up this week at SoLaR Chapel…”Pride!”

Eternity

Today we are going to talk about something that we don’t talk about a lot.  We certainly don’t talk about it enough and that is eternity.  Forever.  We use these words often in our daily living but we have reduced this amazing truth down to mean things it really doesn’t.  We may think chapel feels like an eternity.  A school weeks lasts forever.  Trust me.  Those things aren’t even close to forever.    

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Meet Joree Jackson

Meet Joree Jackson. Joree has been at ACA since preschool and is poised to graduate from ACA in the spring of 2018. For the past fourteen years, Joree has worked hard to distinguish herself as one of ACA’s best and brightest young leaders, embodying the highest ideals of Annapolis’ mission and vision to graduate students who are:

  • Servant-hearted imitators of Jesus
  • Wise, virtuous, and eloquent lovers of truth, goodness, and beauty
  • Passionate about learning and prepared for life
  • Leaders who are broad-minded, well-rounded, and socially graceful

We are extremely proud of Joree’s many achievements as a student of Annapolis, but we are most proud of the person that she has become. We think you’ll agree.

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Make Haste…Slowly

Today we recognize the academic achievement of students from the second quarter.  We are now halfway through the school year.  I am guessing some of you are quite pleased with your grades so far this year.  Some, I would guess, are a little disappointed and would like to do better.  

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Good Tidings of Great Joy for ACA Parents in 2018

Dear Annapolis friends and family (including Dufflepuds, Marshwiggles, Fauns, and other friendly Narnians),

The fog of Christmas holiday cheer has receded and a new year has finally dawned. Gone are the holiday parties, late nights, sleeping in, and marathon Netflix binge watching! A new era of dieting, exercise, and self-improvement resolutions has arrived. My own personal resolution involves growing my beard to James Harden proportions!  While the end of 2017 might not be the end of the world as we know it, I still feel fine. Here’s why: 2018 is shaping up to be one of best years ever for ACA families.

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Hope

One of the most important parts of any plant is its roots. The roots are where a plant finds its stability. As the roots grow deeper and wider, the plant is able to grow taller and be able to withstand the wind because it has such a solid base. A plants roots also draw in the nutrients and energy that the plant needs to grow. The better and more nutritious the soil, the better the nutrients that the roots can draw up to the plant itself.

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