Compass or Map

compassThe goal of teaching is to enable and empower students to navigate this world with a compass, but I’ve been teaching them with maps. Here’s what I mean: As a teacher, I work very hard show my students the steps it takes to accomplish a task. The problem is that if they follow those steps they get the task done.

What? That doesn’t sound like a problem.

Well, I guess it’s not a problem if your goal is the simple task, however a teacher’s goal is larger. I want my students to understand the content well enough that they can interact and navigate around completely on their own. By following the steps (my map), my students haven’t discovered the landscape around the task. Many haven’t even looked up from the map to notice the landscape. They haven’t made mistakes which would teach them how to navigate towards their goal. A compass is a much better instrument for students. It forces them to learn the landscape and to get a real grasp of the content. When they get off course, they will need to find their way back and will discover that missing a few steps is not failure. They might even discover a better way to get somewhere. A compass allows a student more freedom and room for personal expression than a map – as long as they are within the boundaries they can go anywhere they’d like. If students had this kind of freedom, they might be a bit more motivated. Compass work forces deeper thought and requires higher order thinking skills.

Let me be clear. To create a “compass” lesson is much more difficult for the teacher. It requires more flexibility and will most likely bring some chaos. The “compass” teacher/student relationship probably looks more like an apprenticeship. There needs to be more one on one time. More exploration time. There should probably be more mistakes and disasters as well. As a matter of fact, I’d say that if there aren’t many mistakes, then students aren’t learning. As hard is these ideas might be, I believe our students are worth the efforts.  

Here’s my biggest question: In this type of classroom, students must have some sort of self motivation. A teacher who works with students individually like this can’t possibly watch everyone else simultaneously. How can a teacher like this keep everyone on task? How can a teacher motivate those students who simply don’t care? Of course the answer is to give them something they care about, but the truth is that there is no course/content/class that can motivate everyone. Ideas? Thoughts? Please leave some comments, I’d really like to know your thoughts.

First Circle

I want my students to live in the “First Circle.” Let me explain.

When I was a youth minister, someone once showed me the “First Circle” concept. I honestly don’t know where it originated, but I have reworked it a bit for my students. Here’s how it works:

The “First Circle” is where students work diligently on the things they are asked to do. When they do so, they are successful learners and end up being happy with themselves and their work. They make good choices and usually good grades as well.

Students enter the “Second Circle” when they come to a crossroads and make a bad choice – when they choose to break the class rules/procedures. There are usually consequences for these bad choices and they also disrupt the class. The learning process is also disrupted if a student enters the second circle.

Note: I have many student who enter this circle and then apologize. However, when they continue to misbehave and then apologize again and again without behavior change, they never return to the 1st Circle. The words of a true apology is backed up by actions and behavior change.

Students can enter the “Third Circle” pretty quickly if they choose not to apologize. This circle is NOT where I like my students to be. They end up disrupting the class repeatedly and will suffer consequences both in the classroom and out (ISS/Parent Phone Calls). Many times they destroy the learning process for themselves but also for the class as a whole. These students are usually too angry to apologize and end up causing more problems out of anger. However, when they cool off, they still have the opportunity to apologize and then start making better choices to work their way back to the first circle. they have destroyed the learning process for themselves and sometimes for the class as a whole.


Anyway, this is just a concept that I thought was worth writing up. Like I said, I didn’t create it, but I’m not sure who did. I just adapted it from a discipleship concept that I learned as a youth minister. (They used “sin” and “repentance” as the two decision points.)

Integrity

Integrity is the amount that your words, actions, and beliefs line up with one another.

As a teacher, I witness my students’ lack of integrity every day. When they misbehave, I follow our classroom procedures to reprimand them. They almost always say, “I’m sorry.” However, I’m not sure they really are. Often, their words don’t really line up with their subsequent actions. There’s an integrity problem.

I’ve heard that integrity is “being the same person all the time” – no matter who else you’re around or what situation you find yourself in. “It’s who you are when you’re alone.” These definitions are centered around “consistency” which is also what I was taught in my Leadership Studies @ the College of Biblical Studies:

Integrity is the amount that your words, actions, and beliefs line up with one another – it’s how consistent you are in each of these areas.

Integrity is the “white” section.

Where our words, actions, and beliefs all agree with one another.


Here’s what it looks like when someone has a lot of integrity:


The first type of integrity problem is that of the Liar:

People lie. Sometimes we can do the right things and believe the right things, but peer pressure (or some other pressure) causes us to lie in the moment. (I guess it also works the other way – We can believe the wrong things and do the wrong things, but lie to make ourselves look better.) When we lie, we compromise our integrity. Even the “little white lie” can be dangerous. Each time we lie (no matter how small), we make ourselves more comfortable with lying. We must also remember that others are watching us. When the phone rings and a 3yr-old hears daddy say, “Tell them I’m not here,” he is learning something from his daddy.


The second type of integrity inconsistency is that of the Coward.

The coward says what he believes, but just won’t actually take any action. He’s too scared or too busy to follow through. I’ve certainly had this problem. I believe I should do a lot of things and even talk about doing them, but often get too scared to actually take the necessary steps to move forward. It easy to say that I’m just too busy, but ultimately, maybe it really is just simple fear that paralyzes us all.


The third type of integrity inconsistency is that of the Politician:

The politician will say (words) and do (actions) whatever it takes to get what he wants regardless of his own values or beliefs. He might have great beliefs, but they don’t have any deep roots. He is willing to compromise them at the smallest temptation. In general, he is simply out to fulfill his own desires regardless of anyone else. He is a dangerous person to be around.


The final type of integrity problem is the most inconsistent. You never know what you’re gonna get with these guys. They are often out of touch with reality and clueless about themselves. They have no integrity at all. (At least with the others, there are 2 of the three which line up. You might be able to predict something based on those two areas.) With the final type, there’s no predicting anything.

Notice that there is no integrity(white area) at all.


I hope my little exploration of integrity has been helpful. This information is all stuff I learned from my Biblical Leadership classes at the College of Biblical Studies.

Jr High Shop Class Ingenuity

Last night I woke Miranda and the kids up @ 11pm. I had no idea the power saw could be heard in the back of the house – besides, it was just 2 quick cuts. . .well. . . that was a mistake. Anyway, we’re leaving tomorrow for a trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama for vacation. The Mathews (mostly Patti) love the beach and try to take a trip every year. However, it’s been a few years since we’ve had so many births recently.

We will be in the car with two kids under 2 for at least 8 hours. We are gonna need all the help we can get to keep them from crying (or at least distract them enough so they don’t realize they’re strapped into a car seat for that long.) I decided that there was no need to buy a portable DVD player (mostly ’cause I’m cheap) when we have our laptop, so the quest began. How could I set up the laptop in the car for Kasen to watch movies/tv shows/cartoons from itunes? I already have a converter so I can plug in the computer and the audio link could be run through the Aux input. All I needed was a little tabletop. Here’s where my old Jr High Shop Class ingenuity kicked in. Here’s a pic of what I ended up with. It’ll work this time, but maybe next time I should invest in a headrest monitor.

I even arranged for the shelf to be taken out when not in use.

Without the Shelf
Without the Shelf

With the Shelf
With the Shelf
Finished Product
Finished Product

No Vision

My homework in school is asking us to come up with a vision statement for a ministry I’m involved in or will be starting in the future. I know that God has called me to be a part of a church plant someday – I know He wants us to reach lost people – I know He would want a healthy body of believers who truly loved each other and had their priorities straight. But what exactly will that look like? or how it will take shape in a particular context? Man, I dunno? How can you write a vision before you know the context of that vision? I can write a clear mission statement, but that’s supposed to be much broader. I don’t know – I’m just struggling right now. I guess I’ll just get some things down for the class and then as God reveals more to me, I can narrow the focus.

Intro to Leadership

CbsI went to my first “leadership” class last night. Mike Ayers is the teacher and I’ll have him for the rest of the year. My first impressions of him are really good. There were lots of things he talked about last night that were powerful, but the main thing I wanted to share today was this: He defined a leader as “A person with character and competence to influence people to God-honoring objectives.” He went on to explain that sometimes your skills/competence can take you where your character can’t keep you. I thought this was a great explanation, ’cause I’ve certainly seen people get into positions where they couldn’t handle things and their character was compromised. Then, it’s a real mess. That’s why all those TV preachers end up having affairs and stealing money and stuff. I wonder if it can be the other way around? Can your character get you places that your skills can’t keep you? I only say this ’cause I’ve also witnessed people who have really great hearts, that simply don’t have the skills to lead. Anyway, we’re going to be studying a method of leadership that comes directly Jesus’ life. As he trained and led the disciples, we will learn to lead others.

I’m also excited about these classes because Mike is a church planter. Since that’s something I wanna be a part of someday, I think he’ll be a great guy to learn from. I hope I can have the chance to sit down with him and talk about it all sometime during this next year.

Lordship Salvation

CrossLordship Salvation is the idea that in order to be saved, one must receive Jesus as both Savior and Lord. Belief in Christ is not enough, but good works are required. The guys who ascribe to this view would describe saving faith as repentance (turning from sin) plus faith (turning to God). They also say that to receive Christ, means to receive His whole person, which includes His roles as both Savior and Lord. John Stott says, “The call of God in the gospel is not just to receive Jesus Christ, but to belong to Him, not just to believe in Him, but to obey Him.”

Now, the guys who oppose this view are called “Free Grace” guys. They point to the Scriptures that speak of salvation as a “gift.” There is nothing one must do to earn it. No “good works” are required. They point to Acts 2:38 which says that we must only “repent” before we can be baptized and brought into the fellowship.

My own opinion actually finds its’ strength in 1 Corinthians 3 where Paul speaks of the “carnal” man. It’s clear that this man is saved, but also that he is not living with Christ as “Lord” of his life. Now, if he is saved but Christ isn’t Lord of his life then, “saving faith” must not require “Lordship.” There is no such thing as a “Carnal Christian” if Lordship Salvation is true.

When we went over this in class, our professor also described a 3rd view which he called “soft Lordship.” This view says that once a man is saved (by repentance alone), the Holy Spirit would begin to work on him and there would be “good works” or fruit to being to appear. It may be as small as a feeling of conviction which he never had before, but it’s still fruit. The idea is that Christ would begin to become “Lord” from that day forward.

Here’s the summary:

Lordship Salvation: Faith + works/fruit = salvation

Free Grace: Faith = Salvation and works/fruit may or may not follow.

Soft Lordship: Faith = Salvation and works/fruit will follow.

I think I’d have to put myself in the “soft Lordship” category. I believe that a “Carnal Christian” is just one who’s “works” have not had time to start showing up on the outside. In regards to the “Free Grace” view, I have a hard time believing that the Holy Spirit’s presence doesn’t make any difference.

How does this make a difference in my life?

There’s a part of me that is really comforted by knowing that the Holy Spirit’s work in us, might not be very evident to the onlooker. In my years of youth ministry, I
have seen many kids “walk the aisle” to receive Christ and then go for years with no evidence that it made any difference. Sometimes I watch them make decisions which clearly would not honor God. Jesus is definitely not “Lord” for them. It’s comforting to know that faith alone is sufficient. I will continue to teach and encourage His Lordship, but will also seek out the small, subtle things that the Holy Spirit might be doing within them. I think that this understanding of grace, makes me more gracious.

(Info from “Must Christ be Lord to Be Savior” by Everett Harrison and John Stott – also from “How Faith Works” by S. Lewis Johnson Jr., and “A Critique of Lordship Salvation Debate” by Charles E. Powell)

Women’s Role in the Church

WomanAlthough there seems to be lots of arguments about this issue in churches today, it seems like a pretty clear-cut case to me when you consider Scripture. The traditional view stresses the woman’s duty to
“submit” to the authority of men and that they should not “teach” men. Scriptures used include:

Ephesians 5:22 – Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

I Corinthians 14:33-35 – For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

I Timothy 2:11-14 – A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

I Corinthians 11:3 – Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

Now, let’s consider the Scriptures that point to women being involved:

Gen 1:27-28 – Women were created in God’s image as well as man

Exodus 38:8 – Women served at the Temple entrance.

Exodus 15:20 – Miriam was a prophetess.

Micah 6:4 – Miriam led alongside Aaron and Moses.

Judges 4-5 – Deborah was a judge.

2 Kings 22:8-20 – Huldah was a prophetess.

I Chronicles 25:5-7 – Women sang in the temple choirs.

Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-18 – Women will prophesy.

Luke 2:36-38 – Anna was a prophetess.

John 4:7-26 – Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman in particular.

Mark 1:29-31; 5:25-34 – Jesus cared equally for the sicknesses of women.

Luke 10:42 – Jesus allowed a woman to sit at His feet.

Matthew 19:9-10; Mark 10:11-12 – Jesus reinterpreted issues which were against women

Mark 16:6-8 – Women carried the news of the resurrection even though a woman’s testimony was not considered valid.

Acts 2:1-4 – Holy Spirit fell on both men and women.

Acts 1:14 – Women prayed with men.

Acts 9:36; 12:12; 16:14-15 – Women served in lots of ministries.

Acts 18:26-28 – Priscilla and Aquila helped Apollos understand his faith.

Acts 21:8-9 – Philip’s 4 daughters were prophetesses.

Galatians 3:28 – In Christ there is no male or female.

Romans 8:9b – Women and men are indwelt equally by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 11:4-5 – Women have access to God in prayer just as men.

1 Corinthians 11:5; 14:26 – Women are allowed to speak in church.

1 Corinthians 12:7-11; 27-31; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Peter

4:10-11 – Women are given Spiritual gifts just as men.

Philippians 4:2-3 – Euodia and Syntyche were co-workers with Paul.

Romans 16; 1 Corinthians 9:5 – 10 out of 29 people commended for service are women.

Romans 16:1 – Phoebe is called a “deacon.”

Romans 16:7 – Andronicus and Junia are said to be “outstanding among the apostles.”

OK – so here’s my take on it all:

With all of the Scripture that affirms women’s involvement in the church, it seems
pretty clear that God approves. Each of the verses which are used to hinder
their involvement can be explained as problems within specific communities/churches or as issues of order. Voddie Bachaum uses an illustration that may be helpful. – An all-pro lineman submits to the authority of a rookie quarterback because the team is stronger when it’s structure/order is upheld. It’s not that the rookie is more valuable – but it’s an issue of order, not worth.

Now, there’s one catch in my opinion. There is only one role which Scripture has no example of women holding – elder or Sr. Pastor. I believe that women can and should function in all roles in the church except Sr. Pastor. Teaching is a spiritual
gift, not an office and so those roles should be open to anyone (male or female) who has that spiritual gift.

Now as to why I don’t think a woman should be a Sr. Pastor. . . .there are three
reasons. One is valid and others are simply my opinion.

(1) the valid one – because we don’t see a Scriptural example.

(2) my opinion – If we ask men to be the “head of household” and for women “to submit” to them at home, we are sending a mixed messages to our men when it comes to their role at church. Again, it’s not a matter of value or worth, but only of order.

(3) I also think that culturally, here in the Bible belt, it’s difficult for men to respect a woman’s leadership in such a way that a healthy situation can be accomplished. As long as there is a Male Sr. Pastor, you also have a situation where this “order” can still be established and women can exercise their gifts in all areas of ministry.

How will this impact my life? I hope to be involved in a church plant one day, so this will have a very direct impact on how it all comes together.

Systematic Theology

According to Chafer, Systematic Theology is the “collecting, scientifically arranging, comparing, exhibiting, and defending all the facts from any and every source concerning God and His works.” Hodge would agree, but would limit these facts to those coming from the Bible alone. Erickson says that a theology must be (1) Biblical, (2) Systematic, (3) Relevant, (4) Contemporary, and (4) Practical.

While Biblical theology starts with the Scriptures and determines what they say about God, Systematic theology stars with a topic and try to figure out what all of Scripture has to say about it. This method helps to arrange all the Scriptural truths in a way that enables us to have a clear understanding of the emphasis of the entire Bible. It also helps us when it comes to defending our beliefs in a logical way. Our understanding of the truths of Scripture reflect our maturity in Christ.

As far as how this will change my life – I’m thinking I might need to be more intentional about the teaching that I give our students in our youth ministry. I need to make sure that there are certain doctrinal ideas that get covered during their time in our group. In reading Hebrews the other day, I noticed certain doctrines which Paul considered foundational.

Check it out: Hebrews 6:1-3
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,[1] and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.

I plan on making sure that these concepts are taught to our students.

By the way, I also think that this series of journal entries is helping me to systematize my own theological ideas.

(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg
147-151)