Pray for College Freshman

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A coming of age for me as a pastor happened Sunday when I said goodbye to several students who were leaving town for college. There are still a few more goodbyes ahead of me this week. I have been at CIL 9.5 years now, so it was both sobering and fulfilling to see these children become adults.

They were my friend’s children, who became my friends – and so they always will be.

Pray for all of our college freshman.  The first few days at a new college or a new season at home is crucial for a college-age student’s relational and spiritual success.

Prayer is a form of mentoring.

Acknowledgments on Graduation Day

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Today is graduation day for me.  I hesitate to post something, because I have already been congratulated several times by so many of you.  But, I want to share my “Acknowledgment” page of my dissertation (I shared my dedication page a few weeks ago). I do this, because this accomplishment would not have happened without a team of people who believed in me and worked for me. No doubt, more people deserve to be acknowledged, but there was limit to space in the dissertation. I dedicated my work to my family, but they are rightfully acknowledged again. So to everyone on this list, THANK YOU in every way!

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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To Dr. Charles Lea, dissertation committee chair, thank you for your mentorship, encouragement, and friendship. You used your vast experience and network to help me succeed. This project would not have been a success without your excellent leadership.

To Dr. Bryan Carrier and Dr. C. William McKee, dissertation committee members, thank you for your guidance and encouragement throughout this process. Your contributions were key factors in my success.

To Mrs. Amy Heckman, your hard work and helpful attitude for this study were invaluable. I appreciate so much your professionalism and skill.

To Dr. Charles Gaulden, thank you for pushing me to pursue my doctorate at a time when I believed the dream had passed.  Your constant encouragement through this process has been a crucial guide.

To the leadership and people of The Church at Indian Lake, thank you for giving me the flexibility and shared resources to pursue this dream.

To my children, Abbey, Luke, and Lincoln, thank you for your understanding when I was distracted or not fully present for you during this project. I believe we have many years of great times together.

To my wife, Beth, your encouragement and support of me goes beyond what words can adequately express. You are my life partner, and I am so thankful we did this together.

The Arts are still needed in education

I was so impressed with all the kids and teachers participating at KDDC Middle School band recital tonight. It was a visible reminder that the arts are an important part of the education experience. We cannot teach kids only towards standardized test outcomes. Choir, band, sports, clubs, field trips, and social traditions help develop the whole person, and must not be neglected.

On a personal note, I am proud of my son Lincoln and nephews Austin and Denton for excelling in their first middle school band concert. A great night for the whole community!

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George Washington Carver and Education

Can the secular and the spiritual blend in education? A few weeks ago, I exposed the virtue of education for blending the secular with the spiritual.  Read that article by clicking here.

George_Washington_CarverA great example of the blending of the secular and spiritual in education is the life of George Washington Carver. In an era hostile to African-Americans, this son of a slave was a national celebrity. In the 1920’s Carver’s research changed agriculture in the South and around the world. Researching from Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, Carver used education for both scientific discoveries and spiritual development. As his work was discovered he “spent increasingly more time on the road speaking about the peanut, the sweet potato, and his views of God in nature, complete with the demonstrations … Reporting on the professor’s lecture at the Cecil Hotel in Atlanta, the Atlanta Constitution declared, “The Scripture was literally fulfilled: ‘See thou a man diligent in business, he shall stand before kings (Perry, 2011, p. 103-104).’ ”

Carver truly blended the secular and the spiritual together, and everyone has benefited from this.

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Perry, John (2011). George Washington Carver (Christian Encounters Series). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Discuss Religion to Grow Students

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Our nation’s paranoia about blending public education and religion has gone too far.  I understand we should be respectful of varying religious beliefs in a public forum and not coerse religion. However, the integration of faith and education can happen in very simple, subtle ways that does not establish a state religion.

Natural conversations between students and teachers without the fear of negative retribution will facilitate meaningful dialogue. In the public school arena, when the community of students and teachers respect various religion expressions, learning will naturally happen through curiosity. A curious community learns to learn, while a fearful community becomes more and more insular. Teachers must redefine their success based off the student’s ability to become a life-long learner. “The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn (Toffler).” If we eliminate the appropriate influence of religion in education, we eliminate the capacity to be a life-long learner.

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Toffler, Avin. (n.d.). Retrieved on June 4, 2013 from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alvintoffl409080.html.

The Secular and Spiritual in Education

Teachers and LaughingIn my religious upbringing the word secular was defined as a negative. In the worldview of my youth as an evangelical Christian, anything labeled secular was to be avoided. Baylor University scholar Barry Harvey shatters this misconception. Harvey observes that the root meaning of the word secular deals with time versus timeless. Have states, “Thus secular thinking should not be seen as the opposite of the sacred thinking. In fact, secular and sacred can be oddly complementary (Rosebrough & Leverett, 2011, p. 31).” Education has the power to blend the secular and spiritual into a powerful force for the student’s transformation.

A classic phrase often used in education is, “Students don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” We cannot show care or inspire if we ignore the spiritual life, which reflects the student’s deepest essence. The current anxiety in our culture about mixing religion with the public arena has created an unfortunate compartmentalization of education and the spiritual life. This is not just unfortunate, but unnatural. Religion is not static, but naturally evolves in understanding with the development of the person. While teachers should not propagate religion in a public education setting, they should have an appropriate level of freedom to walk with their students spiritually, because spiritual growth is part of the education process.

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Rosebrough, T. R., & Leverett, R. G. (2011). Transformational teaching in the information age: Making why and how we teach relevant to students. Alexandria, Va: ASCD.