4th Wall Blog
Archives - August 2017

Taste and See

August 29, 2017
By Clint Fisher, Upper Elementary Principal

Psalm 19:1 "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork."

The Bible tells us many stories of God stepping into the world in majesty and power -- stories of a flood, a day the sun stood still during a battle, a time the rains did not come because a man prayed, blind men who were given sight, dead who were raised to life, and so many more. However, we do not experience such miraculous deeds often in today's world. This is not inconsistent with Scripture, as there were times in the Bible when supernatural miracles were abundant and other times when God seemed silent. There were also times when God's people were looking for one thing, but He did something altogether different. Nevertheless, throughout the ages we can see God consistently in two places: His Word and His world. Often we misunderstand both, but the Scriptures are clear and help us to interpret what we see in the world around us.

Last Monday I, along with many students and parents, witnessed a small instance of God's creation glorifying its creator. This experience was an amazing gift. Indeed, the heavens declare the glory of God! Since then I have watched many videos of the event, and in each one onlookers display an authentic excitement and childlike amazement. There was a moment in each video when people were so caught up in the experience that they forgot to be cool or hip. When people ask me what it was like to watch the eclipse in person, I realize that I am completely unable to explain. I searched for a picture that accurately captures what I saw but finally gave up in frustration. The best pictures cameras can produce seem like crude watercolor paintings when compared to what the sky was like that day. How can I describe my emotions when, despite all my preparations for and research of the event, I experienced something I was absolutely not expecting? I felt like a young child giddy with excitement. The collision of beauty, design, splendor, and layer upon layer of mystery caused me to have a deep realization of the power required to create something so magnificent.

To see pictures of the eclipse is like stepping into a kitchen and becoming aware of the aroma of incredible food. The smell is one layer of experience. But when you actually taste something so fantastic that ordinary food does not seem like real food anymore, the experience takes on a new depth. Prior to Monday, I studied eclipses and what would occur. Science taught me many great things about distance and size, heat and cold, light and waves. All of this was interesting, and it still is. However, if I had to choose between learning everything about it or experiencing it first-hand, there would be no competition! I would want the experience.

This difference of experience instead of head knowledge is something we long to help our children discover. Teaching and instruction are vital and set the stage for deep awe and wonder, much like collecting wood prepares for a bonfire. However, pictures, books, seminars, projects, and the like will not compare with the glory and joy of actually walking by faith with God and seeing Him show up faithfully in love and splendor according to His promises. Throngs of people devoted much time and effort to seeing a shadow of the glory of God in the eclipse. Having experienced it myself, I now understand why. But it makes me wonder what would happen if we truly experienced the one who made the eclipse. What would that kind of devotion look like in our hearts, and what would it produce in our lives? I think that fruit would change the world!

 

Cultural and Educational Rebirth: A Covenant Response

August 21, 2017
By David Goodrich, Middle School Principal

 

During my career as an educator, I have watched with sadness as the effects of existentialism have pervaded our culture. Existentialism purports the belief that truth is experiential and contingent upon human reason, performance, and experience. This belief, in turn, gives birth to a culture and educational system void of truth and filled with hopelessness, despair, and striving.

For the last 11 years, I have experienced firsthand the effects of existential thought and human moralism directed towards the lives of our future posterity. As an assistant principal in Norcross, I have watched as hopelessness, despair, and striving became the anthem of my students' lives. Approximately 80 percent of the population came from fatherless and single-parent homes, leading to an unchecked, unsupervised, totally depraved populace of middle school students. For the majority of these students, school was the only hope of refuge and escape from the cycle of poverty, addiction, and turmoil; however, it only served to reinforce the intrinsic values of a culture lost. Public school, a Petri dish of secular and naturalistic philosophy, sees the child through the lens of individual performance and societal contributions. Students are no longer valued as "image bearers." No, they are measured by what they can contribute to the prominence of the school -- thus, precipitating the hopeless struggle of the seeker.

The question for us remains: Is hope lost? The simple answer: No! For the believer hope remains. Colossians 1:27 says, "To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Our hope and the hope for those soaking in the pool of futility is Christ alone! I believe Tim Keller best explains this hope when he states, "I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe. I am more accepted and loved than I ever dared hope."

I would like to share a final story that I hope will serve to inspire and encourage all of us in our covenant mission and display the all-surpassing power of our sovereign King. I remember a young 12-year-old girl who showed up in my office last year in utter desolation. Her story -- an all too familiar story -- resulted in an endless swath of persecution on social media. Without sharing too many details, the young lady unfortunately was solicited by an unknown source on Facebook who promised her a bright modeling career. When she at last refused to provide further images, the unknown source blasted her social media contacts with unscrupulous information and inappropriate pictures. Subsequently, the incident resulted in the most heinous and venomous attacks by her so-called friends. The persecution from her friends -- her one source of refuge -- hurled this young lady towards a hopeless and final resolution. Praise be to God that this was not the final outcome for her. The Lord, rich in mercy, allowed me the opportunity to share the hope of glory. After a few minutes of sharing the love of Christ with her, she shared details with me of something that no person, especially a 12-year-old little girl should ever endure. Nonetheless, at that moment, the Lord brought freedom and deliverance to her. I do not know what became of the young lady, but my continued prayer for her is that the seeds of the Gospel will blossom and that she will find solace and lasting hope in the loving arms of the Father.

This incident reminds me that amidst this young lady's turmoil and our temporal struggles, there is  "love and peace that surpasses all understanding." Therefore, how can we as a community humbly and faithfully continue to provide a place of refuge and hope for our students and parents who are desperately striving and hopelessly in need of support? The answer is that we have already built a foundation that depends on and appropriates the power of our God. We are a reformed covenant community that supports and sustains our members through truth, mercy, and justice. Thus, we are unified in our mission and dedicated to raising up a generation that will impact cultural change and expand the kingdom of God.

As a community of believers, we are so blessed. Ephesians 2:1-11 tells us, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are Gods handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Therefore, my prayer for our covenant community is that the Lord would use all of us to shepherd and equip the hearts of our future generations. That He would speak through us and in spite of us, and that we could enjoy the fruitful blessings of His unmerited favor.

Coram Deo

 

Greater Love Has No One Than This...

August 15, 2017
By Bobby Scott, Headmaster

This summer in my study of the words of Jesus in John 15, I ran across this story from a pastor named Chris Jordan from California:

"Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at Stanford Hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liza who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her five-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, 'Yes, I'll do it if it will save Liza.' As the transfusion progressed, he lay in a bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, 'Will I start to die right away?" Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give her all of his blood." (Originally taken from Chicken Soup for the Soul.)

Wow. What better illustration of the words of Jesus that we must humble ourselves a a little child? What I love about this, as well, is the concrete thinking of the five-year-old boy. He thought, "If I help her live, I must die. But I love my sister, and I will do it."

That kind of love on a practical basis is what we desire inside these school walls and beyond this year. It is the type that causes us to be willing to die to ourselves in order truly to love another. It might not involve a blood transfusion, but according to Jesus, it is lame unless it involves loving the unlovely and people who don't really care for us (Luke 6:32).

Perhaps you have a child who is starting this year excited for a new beginning, but dreading his or her interaction with the "cool kids." Or maybe as a parent you live in fear of the judgment of others who think you don't measure up. Or you are still judging your own worth based on the "perfection" of your children.

Oh, how I have longed to do what Charlotte Mason said about dying to self: "it does not mean you think less of yourself, but rather you don't think about yourself at all." How in the heck is that possible?

Well, that is in John 15 also. It is called abiding in the love of Christ. And it is something we do together. If we all covenant together this year to abide in Jesus and soak up His word, then amazing greater love can grow among us. But it will take some pruning and obedience.

Forget our own ability to love well - it doesn't exist. We are naturally busted up... broken. And so are our kids. But we have a Savior who calls us friends, not slaves, and He is the source of all the fruit we can bear. Can our "ask whatever we wish" this year be greater love for one another? Let's give it a shot.

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