Devotional: Jesus Wept (Part 1)

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35)

Those two profound words compose the shortest verse in Scripture. The story of Lazarus and his two sisters, recorded in John 11, is an odd story. Continue reading

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Devotional: The King Was Weeping (Part 2)

For 1,000 years the Jews had longed for the good ole days. They desperately wanted the Romans to be thrown out of the land and the kingdom of David to be restored. Followers of Jesus knew that he was from David’s line. He had ministered for three years, and they could not quite figure him out.

Passover week was dawning. The eastern gate of the temple stood open only during Passover week. The Messiah was to come in some year and during this week. Was this the time? Was Jesus the long-awaited one? Continue reading

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Devotional: The King Was Weeping (Part 1)

Israel was a stubborn people. They were not unlike us. First Samuel 8 is the story of both the birth of the kingdom of Israel and its demise.

Israel wanted a king. The famed prophet Samuel was getting old, and the elders of the people were not impressed with his sons. Instead, they looked at the nations around them. Rather than celebrating that God had chosen them to be different, they found earthly kings and kingdoms to be appealing. They wanted to be like the world. Sound familiar? Continue reading

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Devotional: By Faithfulness

“As soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord – the Lord of all the earth – set foot into the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap” (Joshua 3:13).

For 40 years, the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land had been delayed. I cannot imagine. I become impatient when my flight is delayed 30 minutes. I cannot comprehend a 40-year delay. Continue reading

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Devotional: A Response to Dave Ramsey (Republished)

“Start children off on the right path. And even when they are old, they will not turn away from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

I have a great deal of respect for much of Dave Ramsey’s teaching. To encourage families to avoid insurmountable debt is a good thing. Burdensome debt places strain on marriages and financial stress damages the individual’s health.

My appreciation for Ramsey ends when he goes too far.

That is, of course, my opinion. An “Ask Ramsey” column appeared in our local newspaper recently. A mother wrote that her family had three children enrolled in a Christian school. She said that tuition payments were a challenge for them and that they were beginning to dip into their savings account to make tuition payments.

Ramsey replied with three points. One of his foundational principles is that savings are to be maintained at almost any cost. Private school tuition was expensive and not worth the cost. His own children were products of a public school and were good and moral individuals. Children should not be protected from the world in which they live by being put in bubbles.

My personal critique of Ramsey’s view is admittedly filtered through my own bias. I believe that God’s instructions for nurturing children are best carried out through Christian homes and schools.

Dave Ramsey seems to elevate financial balance sheets as one of the highest biblical standards. Certainly financial stewardship and the use of God’s resources is a great value for believers. But Scripture does not elevate finances above obedience and faithfulness, especially in the training and teaching of children. Put another way, God is more interested in telling the children so that the next generation will know than he is in the health of our personal bank accounts.

In my own family situation, my wife and I chose to save in advance so that we would have the resources to pay our tuition bills. When the paycheck arrived, we first wrote our church offering check and then the school tuition check. We believed that God will provide enough for us to live on. He never failed. More often than not, we didn’t have plenty. But we had enough.

I am glad that the Ramseys raised good and moral children. By God’s grace, my wife and I did, too. But we wanted our children to be more than good and moral adults: we wanted them to be rooted in God’s Word, to have a strong biblical foundation, and to understand that faith and life could never be separated. We wanted them to be equipped so that they could pass along the same beliefs and principles to our grandchildren. Christian schools and teachers were our invaluable partners.

Ramsey’s last point to this parent is the most troubling. Christian schools are not isolation booths; they are incubators. Christian schools are not intended to protect; they are designed to prepare. At least that is the goal of schools that I serve as part of Christian Schools International.

Yes, there is a certain element of protection for younger children in Christian schools. We want school to be safe, nurturing places. Christian schools do have clear beliefs and practices shared by home, school, and church. But as Jesus did with his disciples, children are taught on the rock solid foundation of Word and faith, and only after being well prepared and equipped are they sent out.

To label Christian schools as “kids in a fortified bubble” is a basic misunderstanding of the purpose of kingdom-advancing, disciples-making schools. I am ok with the idea of ‘prepared in a bubble to burst out of it to make a difference in the world’. But Ramsey implies that Christian schools are bubble-places for a bubble-life. Nothing is more inaccurate for the Christian schools that I serve.

So, Dave Ramsey, stick to advice about financial stewardship. You are good at it. But please stay away from suggesting that debt-free, financial goals supersede the biblical call to parents to train up their children in God’s ways. We will be faithful and obedient, even if it means dipping into our savings.

(This devotional reflection was first published in September 2016. It is being republished by request because it is the time of year when Christian schools are enrolling families for next year. Christian schools are welcome to copy and to use this message in their own communications if it is helpful.)

Devotionals are written by Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Member Services

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Devotional: Free Education (Republished)

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

Tuition FreeThe sign on the charter school marquee, which was a half mile south of the last school I served, said, “A tuition-free school choice.” The owner of the system of charter schools is a Christian school supporter. The early elementary staff of the charter school was composed of three teachers who were also part of our Christian school family. The target audience for the message was obvious: Christian school families could find good moral (quasi-Christian – wink, wink!) education for “free” in that building. Christian families could find a moral education without paying Christian school tuition.

Free, quasi-Christian education! What a deal! Continue reading

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Devotional: Breaking News – You Can Take It with You!

No, I have never seen a hearse with a luggage rack. Yes, I have rolled my eyes when hearing stories of someone’s favorite golf club or item of jewelry placed beside the deceased in his or her casket before it was closed.

Taken as an English idiom, “You can’t take it with you” means: “Enjoy life, enjoy what you have, and don’t worry about not having a lot, especially money…because once you’re dead, you can’t take it with you.” For some, it means to use up all you have before you die, because it’s no use to you afterwards.

Embracing the idiomatic meaning has become the material rationale for pursuing a life of personal pleasure and happiness. Continue reading

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Devotional: Be Shrewd

Jesus said, “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:8-9).

Many years ago, a well-meaning individual came to our Christian school office with a lottery ticket. He claimed to have never purchased lottery tickets, but he said he felt led by God to purchase this one and give it to the school. He wanted it placed in the school safe. He believed it was a winner and was the answer to the school’s capital indebtedness. Continue reading

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Devotional: Flawed and Faithful

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

We call the nine “blessed are” statements that open the fifth chapter of Matthew the Beatitudes. We call the three chapters from Matthew 5-7 the Sermon on the Mount. It is our impression that Jesus delivered the message in a single sermon while his disciples and the crowd sat around him on a Galilean hillside. That is probably not the case. Continue reading

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Devotional: Advancing God’s Kingdom

I am shocked. But why should I be? I am naïve. But why should I be surprised?

On February 7, 2017, an alumna and supporter of CSI schools was confirmed as the US Secretary of Education. Betsy DeVos is the first graduate of my alma mater, Calvin College, to hold a position in the cabinet of the president of the United States. Continue reading

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