And now for something completely different

It’s my first video review. It’s for Pilgrim Institute’s Restoring America’s Biblical Foundations study course and it’s not a great video. But watch anyway and then leave a comment! (sub, even!)

 

“The Mighty Works of God: Liberty & Justice for All” review

Mrs. Smith is the founder of Pilgrim Institute. She has written a history series for home educators called “The Mighty Works of God.” I have used this myself so I feel I can give an honest review. For this review I will refer to this title as LJFA.

This is the second book in the MWOG series, intended for younger elementary ages. First off, this is not an intimidating tome. The student text is less than 200 pages and the teacher’s text is only a few pages more. It is an easy read for the students.

The teacher’s guide provides three or more lessons per chapter. Mrs. Smith has supplied a leading ides for each lesson, along with reasoning questions and a synopsis of the chapter. A CD-ROM is included with the teacher’s guide full of printable maps, notebooking pages and charts that correspond with the lessons.

If you are new to BPA it can be a terrific way to ease into a subject without having to build lessons from scratch. And if you have Mr. Rose’s book, this text corresponds with year 3 (second grade) in the chart on p. 207.

LJFA covers all of history, from creation to today. She uses the theme of liberty to connect the lessons throughout the year. I like this because it adds continuity to the lessons. There are scriptures, poetry, biographies and more sprinkled throughout the text. Many color drawings add to the enjoyment as your child reads about Moses, Marco Polo, William Penn, Jedediah Smith and more. Benjamin Franklin seems to be a favorite historical figure with children and the stories about him in this volume are inspiring and a great place to pause for a “rabbit trail.”

Why you might like this

  • She weaves a beautiful story, revealing His Story as it marches through time. It is taught from a Providential history perspective, focusing on Biblical reasoning to learn about historical individuals and events.
  • It makes history an easily teachable subject.
  • You are provided the leading ideas for each lesson.
  • It is flexible. Because there are no daily plans you can use as many lessons as you like. You aren’t left feeling as if you haven’t covered something.
  • Reflection and reasoning are supplied.
  • It inspires affection for America’s Christian history.

Why you might not like this

  • Your educational philosophy doesn’t jibe with a Biblical Principle Approach philosophy.
  • You want daily lesson plans.
  • You want literature-based history.
  • You don’t want to teach from a Christian history worldview.
  • You want a textbook.
  • You want something the child can do independently. This requires the teacher to reason alongside the student.
  • There are no tests or quizzes. (or maybe this should be in the list above!)

I enjoyed using this with my children. We learned a lot. I didn’t feel rushed through a huge lesson schedule, so we could take out time and focus on reasoning and not just facts. I was also able to teach multiple grades with this (4th and 1st). A little modification makes this easy to use with several ages at once. And because the leading ideas are supplied, I didn’t have to do a lot of preparation before we could sit at the kitchen table and talk about His Story together. It began a lot of great conversations about the why’s of history. Not “why do we need to learn this” but why people do what they do and why things happen.

Charity brings: kingdom

This is part three in my series on charity. (Here are posts one and two.)

Webster defines kingdom as “In Scripture, the government or universal dominion of God.” This is the kingdom I am referring to–God’s kingdom.

I’ve heard it said that love is the currency of heaven. I think it’s more like the air. Where God is, love is there. God chooses not to exist without love. We cannot live without His love.

Your kingdom is built on what is right and fair. Love and truth are in all you do. Ps. 89:14 NCV

When we extend our hands to the poor we bring God’s love to earth. We bring His kingdom here.

You will be doing the right thing if you obey the law of the Kingdom, which is found in the scripture, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” James 2:8 GNT

Charity, or love, enables God’s kingdom, His government, His way of doing and being right to exist right here with us. Charity opens the door to Heaven on earth.

Sell what you own. Give to those who are poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out. Put away riches in heaven that will not be used up. There, no thief can come near it. There, no moth can destroy it. Luke 12:33 NIrV

That’s where we belong–in heaven. That’s where our true possessions should lie. Charity brings His kingdom to us and us to His Kingdom. We are moved by what moves Him. His agenda is ours. We strive to please the King, even to our own discomfort. Love begins to motivate us to do more, to reach higher and to advance His kingdom.

Government is, in a nutshell, “who or what is in control.” I want to always choose God’s government over my own. My own government is lazy and self-serving. His is generous and full of unselfish love (charity). He is patiently waiting for us to prefer His government, His kingdom, so heaven can visit us here in the everyday.

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Mt 6:9–10 NKJV

5 things America got right

“I know my own principles to be pure and therefore am not ashamed of them. On the contrary, I wish them known and therefore willingly express them to everyone. They are the same I have acted on from the year 1775 to this day, and are the same, I am sure, with those of the great body of the American people.”

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Samuel Smith, 1798

1. Separation of powers

The regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative balances and checks; the institution of courts composed of judges holding their offices during good behavior; the representation of the people in the legislature by deputies of their own election… They are means, and powerful means, by which the excellences of republican government may be retained and its imperfections lessened or avoided.

Alexander Hamilton

2. Dual form of government

Seldom today do we hear mentioned one of the most unique aspects of our Constitution—our dual form of government—the state and the nation. This refers to the national-federal structure of our Constitution. There is not a country today on the face of the globe that embodies this Christian principle of government—and we ourselves have allowed it to deteriorate.

Slater, R. J., & Hall, V. M. (1975). Teaching and learning America’s Christian history (American Revolution Bicentennial ed.) (242). San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education.

3. Negative rights Wikipedia

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.
— Patrick Henry

4. Religious liberty

It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.

Patrick Henry

5. Representative Republic

Modern times have discovered the only device by which the equal rights of man can be secured to wit: government by the people, acting not in person, But by representatives chosen by themselves…

Thomas Jefferson

A representative government, responsible at short intervals of election, produces the greatest sum of happiness to mankind.

Thomas Jefferson

Some thoughts on liberty

Proclaim liberty throughout the land and to all the inhabitants thereof. Leviticus 25:10

“Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  John Adams

“We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.”  James Madison

“Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”  Thomas Jefferson

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”  Patrick Henry

“The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”  John Adams

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” James Madison

Hope for the next generation

My oldest daughter (10) entered this year’s essay contest from our state’s Christian homeschool organization. The topic was “The Role of Christians in Government.” When I saw the title I knew she just had to enter. It took a lot of prodding but I finally got a paper out of her. She typed it up, then saw that it had to be hand written, so she copied it and we put both copies in the mail. A couple of days before Capitol Day we got that all-important email: she won!

The judges thought her essay was the best one entered in any age category. They wished the high schoolers could have written as well. Here is her essay in its entirety.

According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, the word government means “who or what is
in control.” In the Garden of Eden that Who was God, and He governed us internally. Then
sin changed things and now we need more external government. That’s where Christians
come in, offering God’ s idea of government.

One of the roles of Christians in government is to follow. Follow Jesus, that is. Always
follow your leaders unless they do not line up with God’ s Word. Be a good example to other
followers.

Another role is to pray. You need to pray for the right candidates to be elected. You
also need to pray that the leaders we have will make right choices, according to 1 Timothy
2:1&2. Prayer sometimes makes the difference between life and death.

Still another role Christians have in government is to lead. When you lead as a Christian,
you reflect God. God’s leadership is wise, consistent, righteous and just. In fact, the Bible in
Job 34:17 says that you should not lead if you don’t agree with God’ s justice.

Christians get ideas regarding government from the Bible. The Founding Fathers called
the Bible “America ’s political textbook.” Christian leaders should look to godly leaders in the
bible for insight and wisdom.

It is a great responsibility to elect our own leaders. We should vote carefully. The most
basic role of Christians in government is to show others how God wants us to live, no
matter what role we are in.

I share this not to get a pat on the back, but to demonstrate God’s faithfulness. When we instill Biblical principles in our children, they can think governmentally. It just becomes their way of thinking. I am raising the next generation of godly Christians who will hopefully lead and not blindly follow. This essay gives me much hope for America’s future.

And it was a real treat for her to win a prize for her hard work too! On Capitol Day February 10 we made a trip to Oklahoma City for her to receive her award. And when she received a copy of her citation a few days later she was over the moon. It’s a giant certificate with her essay printed in the body inside a blue folder. She will treasure it as one of her special homeschool memories. And so will I.

Where our allegiance lies

This blog is not known to be particularly involved in current events and other potentially controversial things. However I heard a bishop say something last week that convicted me.  On the radio show Janet Parshall’s America last week Bishop E.W. Jackson was on talking about his ministry and taking calls from listeners. One caller offered the idea that Jesus got down with the people and was basically okay with them being in sin. This got Bishop Jackson discussing the idea that Jesus came to love, but He didn’t come to be everyone’s friend. He came to divide (Matt. 10:34). He said the following challenging statement:

Christians have got to learn there is no way getting around the potential for persecution and people not liking what you have to say when you stand up for Jesus Christ…We owe our first loyalty to Him. He is our savior and our Lord and it is Him we are trying to please.         (emphasis mine)

Well said, Bishop Jackson.

What would He has me do? What would He have me say? Where would He have me go? I owe my first loyalty to Him, not to my ego or my  friends or even my family. Pleasing Him should be my only concern.

In this new age of “tolerance” it seems that the only point of view that is not tolerated is God’s. I can say I am too often intimidated by the potential backlash, so I refrain from speaking strongly for Christ and His principles. That will change as of today. I encourage you to make the decision this year to care less about what people think and more about what Jesus would want you to do. Speak the truth in love and let God receive all the glory. It is Him alone we strive to please.

Step 8: principle 5– The Christian form of our government

This 5th principle may seem tricky at first. You may wonder how on Earth that applies to your personally. Let’s discuss that very thing.

The Principle of Representation

Ex. 18:25-26, Deut. 1:13 (Moses is the first example of this principle).

The Children of Israel chose their own representatives. Rev. Thomas Hooker used this principle in a 1638 sermon that inspired the first constitution in America–the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut.

Christian form of our government

As we have discussed at length in past posts, everything works from internal to external, including the Christian form of our government.

The internal relates to the spirit of the Law. It includes internal government, private property and voluntary union–all of the things we must do of our volition.

The external is the letter of the law, with its rules and structure, including representation, separation of powers and our dual form of government.

Separation of powers

The first full expression was also in the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, conscience is:

Internal or self-knowledge, or judgment of right and wrong; or the faculty, power or principle within us, which decides on the lawfulness or unlawfulness of our own actions and affections, and instantly approves or condemns them.

Ms. Slater correlates this definition to the separation of powers individually. We 1) ascertain the duty (legislate), 2) act on it (executive) and 3) judge our actions (judicial). You can imagine what could happen if these powers were unbalanced:

1) seeing what needs to be done and not acting
2) not being diligent or overstepping our bounds
3) being overly critical of ourselves or not holding ourselves accountable

Dual form of government

America is the only nation in the world to have a balance of state and federal powers.

The law and the Gospel are the basis for our form of government.

The end of law is…to preserve and enlarge freedom — John Locke

The law is an instrument of grace, revealing our sin and affording a Saviour.  In the Gospel, God’s love and the Holy Spirit are both indwelling and outworking. Ms. Slater also says that the Gospel is both evangelical and political(p. 56). To read more about that you’ll have to get the book. (You mean you haven’t gotten it already!?) Maybe I’ll post about this later.

This principle applied educationally is as follows:

  • dual form of government: dual levels of responsibility and authority (children over one another, parents over children, God over parents, etc.) There are “two sovereign spheres within one sovereign body of law.”

  • law and the Gospel: class constitution, rules, order, law and love.

  • separation of powers: executing lessons (especially math)–identilfy, perform, check. Dive duties to them to perform, allowing them to be in charge, and then allow them to follow the same checks and balances.