This is an awesome song by Kristian Stanfill, rejoicing in the hope we have in God. “Day after day our God is reigning, He’s never shaken, My hope is in the Lord!”
I just recently came across a brand-new band called The City Harmonic. Their website has a great description of their music:
When listening to The City Harmonic, you instinctively turn up the volume and join the chorus as the music dynamically bounces from sparse intimacy to soaring celebration and back again. It’s a musical metaphor for the band that plays it—with their feet in the dirt and their eyes toward the heavens. It isn’t long before you find yourself singing along and not because you ought to, but because you want to.
Here is their song, Manifesto, a great declaration of belief in the Almighty, Triune God. Amen!
As the principal of the “School of Smooches,” I’m always interested in learning different ways to encourage both my wife and my children in their academic activities. Even though it’s my wife who does 99.9% of the teaching (and more than earns her title of Director of Family Operations), I try to be on the lookout for ways in which I can help. When I received Vicki Caruana’s book The Organized Home Schooler from Crossway’s Home School Book Review program, I was very interested in learning how we could be more organized.
In her book, Caruana goes over the importance of organization. She points out areas where organization could be of benefit such as Thoughts (ch.3), Time (ch.4), Space (ch.5) Supplies and Materials (ch.6), Paperwork (ch.7) and Family (ch.8). The chapters dealing with supplies and paperwork contained the most practical information , offering advice on how best to file away your school items. She offers good suggestions on keeping the organizational system simple (K.I.S.S.) and making sure to involve everyone. If everyone isn’t on board, the system won’t be as effective.
Sadly, this is the extent of worthwhile nuggets from the book. The vast majority of the book is spent trying to convince the reader of the importance of an organizational system and comparatively little amount of space actually being organized. As I read through the book, I felt like saying “Ok, I get it. You think organization is important. Now where is the practical advice?”
The worst part of the book, however, was not the browbeating of “you need to be organized” but rather the spiritual implications the author made of NOT being organized and the complete misapplications of Scripture (such as her comments on Proverbs 31) in order to defend her view of organization. According to this author, an individual who is “anxious, confused, full of despair, fearful, [and] even angry…[is] experiencing the consequences of a disorderly life.” (p.18) Further, in one of the end-of-chapter Check Lists, Caruana states: “I realize that my children and the success of their homeschool experience depends upon my level of organization.” (p.20) Caruana ties disorganization together with unbelief and simply not trusting God. Still further, Caruana gives a list of reasons why someone might not be as organized as they could be in their schedules and in response to these reasons states, “If any of these statements or others like them describe your reaction to the word schedule, I suggest you prayerfully consider your motives for saying them.” (p.48) Even a person’s choice of “escape” is targeted by Caruana’s misinterpretation of Jesus’ invitation to “come to me and I will give you rest.” She says, “God asks that we come to Him for rest—not to television or the Internet or even a good book. This isn’t to say that these things are off-limits, but don’t use them as an escape. God is our refuge and strength. When we choose to ‘veg out,’ we leave room for the enemy to corrupt our thinking. So as you look to rejuvenate, focus on the things above by going to God’s Word.” (p.108) Trite comments like these abound throughout the book that the author does not expound on or explain just what this is supposed to look like. Apparently, the organized homeschooler should only find “rejuvenation” in reading his or her Bible and praying, a concept that I find nowhere in Scripture.
Ultimately, while the book has a few things of value, they are so wrapped up in a warped view of Scripture as to not be worth the time trying to sift them out. Many homeschool teachers are perhaps so stressed out about having the perfect schooling system, that for them to read this book that ties their spirituality to their lack of organization would certainly do more harm than good. A much better book on homeschooling would be “Homeschooling for the Rest of Us” by Sonya Haskins. (1/5 stars)
(Thanks to Crossway’s Homeschool Book Review program for providing a review copy of this book.)
I’m usually not a big fan of Bebo Norman, but I found his arrangement of Amazing Love (written by Graham Kendrick) very stirring.
My Lord, what love is this
That pays so dearly
That I, the guilty one
May go free!
Amazing love, what sacrifice
The Son of God, given for me
My debt He pays, and my death He dies
That I might live, that I might live!
And so, they watched Him die
But oh, the blood He shed
Flowed for me!
And now, this love of Christ
Shall flow like rivers
So come wash your guilt away
Welcome to the relaunch of Tuesday Tips! I’m embarking on a new venture using video for these Excel tips. Hopefully this will make implementing the tips a little easier. So here for your enjoyment is the first YouTube edition of Tuesday Tips and covers a very handy Excel feature called Data Validation. As always, let me know if you have any questions.
In Always True, James MacDonald writes of how the Christian can have faith in God even in the most trying of difficulties. He encourages the believer to “hang on” to God’s promises, showing how God always keeps his promises. Each chapter is packed with Scripture verses, made even more noticeable in bolded font. You can’t go two pages without your eyes being drawn to the bolded verse. MacDonald uncovers five different promises of God that are “always true:”
1. God is always with me (I will not fear)
2. God is always in control (I will not doubt)
3. God is always good (I will not despair)
4. God is always watching (I will not falter)
5. God is always victorious (I will not fail)
“God is always watching” – this promise was especially insightful. Usually when we talk about God watching us, it’s in the context of making sure we are behaving. But as MacDonald points out, God watches us because we are precious in his sight, similar to how parents lovingly watch their children. And we are watched and loved not because we are valuable but because we are valued.
In his introduction, MacDonald pinpoints the struggle in the Christian walk – that of “holding on” while waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises. He says “Today I believe; tomorrow (or at some point in the future) I receive. The distance between today and tomorrow is called walking by faith. The hard part is in the waiting between the promise and the answer.” (p.20)
Preceding each promise chapter is a chapter on the “Theology of a Promise” that focuses on God’s nature as it relates to His promises. These are heavier on the theological side, but no less important. It gives us a glimpse into the nature of God and why it is we can trust in his promises. The last Theology of a Promise was the best. In it, MacDonald shares how all of God’s promises are experienced in Jesus Christ. “God has made no provision for you to live the Christian life on your own. The Christian life is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27)….Jesus Christ is the Christian life. It’s not me acting like Jesus….It’s not you trying to please the Lord, or to thank Him, or impress Him, or even trying to imitate Him. The core of this truth is: It’s Christ in me by His Spirit.” (pp.130-131)
The only minor drawback I might have with this book is that it doesn’t seem to be written to those currently suffering some trial. While the theological truths are certainly there, I did not get a sense of compassion, a sense of “weeping with those who weep.” The book came across as heavy on the theology of the promises of God but light on empathy. I’m not sure I would give it to someone who, for example, had just lost a child.
That being said, MacDonald does an excellent job of pointing out how God’s very nature is one of promising and fulfilling those promises. When all else fails, God’s promises are indeed Always True.
(Thanks to Moody Publishers for providing a review copy of this book)
My fledgling feature Tuesday Tips has gotten off to a slow start, but certainly not for lack of content. While going through the hundreds of tips roaming around in my head, I realized that many of them are far better explained visually. I’m testing out a few different screen capture software programs and will hopefully be rolling out the Tuesday Tips feature in video in the next couple of weeks. The purpose is to make the tips much more understandable so that you can implement them easier and making your Excel life that much simpler. So stay tuned.