The Trinitas Classical Christian School curriculum includes studying ancient Egypt in the second grade. In the process of learning about Egyptian times and rituals, Mrs. Robson’s class is creating mummies. What better way to appreciate and understand the process of mummifying than to mummify a chicken? Her students completely agreed and enjoyed the process of mixing the baking powder, salt, and baking soda to prepare the hens for the 40 day waiting (or mummifying) process. Once the preservation project is complete, the students will wrap the hens with glue and gauze, creating the long awaited chicken mummy!
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Being in the Christian education business, one of the things I hear often from Christian parents is, We send our children to non-Christian schools so they can be salt and light to the lost children and teachers. Yikes! I want to suggest to those parents that they’re asking something nearly impossible of their young ones. In fact, if your Christian children are in a secular school, here are three reasons to get them out of there before they lose their faith.
Before I get started, let me make one thing clear, I fully believe that every Christian must be engaged in Christ’s Great Commission to His followers found in Matthew 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” That is a command we must obey. But does obedience from a six year old manifest itself the same way as obedience from a twenty-six year old? Does obedience to that command look the same from a brand new Christian as from a more mature Christian? Of course not. Where do our school-aged children fit into that commission? Does Christ want us to send our young, (mostly) spiritually defenseless children alone into the lair of the enemy in an attempt to convert them?
#1 The Concrete Isn’t Dry
I want to suggest that the answer to that last question is almost always a resounding, no. Of course we want our children walking in faith and learning how to bear witness to the Gospel, but do we really think our nine-year-old is spiritually strong enough, prepared enough, mature enough to have more of an impact on his unbelieving schoolmates than five, ten, or more of them will have on him? Again, I think the answer is most often, no. And the reason is that the concrete isn’t dry. Our Christian children aren’t nearly the mature Christians they will be someday after much nurturing and mentoring. You don’t send the Pop Warner Champs to play the Super Bowl Champs; similarly, you don’t send your eight year old Christian kid to convert a public school that has the force of the federal government behind its secularism. Yes, God often uses foolish things to school the worldly wise, but are you sure your child is the foolish thing He will use to thwart the effects of secular education, even in one of his classmates? We can be faithful without testing God.
#2 Bad Company Corrupts Good Morals
The Proverbs caution repeatedly against aligning ourselves with certain kinds of companions—from the foolish to the guy with a bad temper (both frequent behaviors of the non-believer)—and then warn us that bad company corrupts good morals. Some may argue that these proverbs are not actually commands, but we can agree that at the very least they are wisdom for the believer, and they seem to be saying that it isn’t wise to spend too much time with people who serve other gods, especially if they outnumber you. And that goes double for the nine-year-old who, by the simple fact of his age and lack of experience, does not possess the discernment and wisdom necessary not just to defend himself but to go on the offense with the Gospel.
#3 It’s in the Water
Of course, every child in a secular school is not anti-Christ and, in fact, it would be foolish to think your child would not find a couple good Christian friends to help sustain him. Certainly there are some good Christian teachers in secular schools as well (and they definitely have a more valid salt and light argument for being there than your child does). Unfortunately for your child, though, a couple of like-minded friends and an undercover Christian teacher usually isn’t enough community to protect against the secular attack on Christian presuppositions and ideals even when it is not attacking Christianity directly by name. In other words, it isn’t simply that there are a few predators in this pond you’ve let your little Christian minnow loose in; it is that the whole pond is toxic to your minnow, and he is going to bring more toxic waste home with him each night than you can possibly wipe off of him before he goes back for another seven hours tomorrow.
The Barna Group, known for its work compiling a variety of Christian statistics, reported in the early 2000s, that 59% of young Christians leave the church permanently or for an extended period of time. This study was not related to Christian education, but one should ask himself how many of those students were getting one unified message from home and church while the school—the third influence in a child’s life and the one that spends the most instructive time with the child—was teaching and training a message radically different from home and church, a message toxic to Christianity.
Scripture and common sense should prevail in this argument. If I want my child to be a great football player, I’m not going to send him to music camp to be trained for football. If I want my child to be a faithful Christian, I’m not going to send him for 1,200 hours a year to be trained in anti-Christian thought and practice. Don’t send your lambs to slaughter. Get them out of the secular schools before they lose their faith.
Mr. Ron Gilley, headmaster
Our science and math teacher, Mrs. Kaunitz, was taking a break from her academics to practice piano. Several of the staff members at Trinitas Christian School are accomplished pianists, many of whom lead music in their own churches. Our teachers are gifted in singing, in math, in art, in history, in cooking, in creating, in science, in speaking, and in teaching. With so many gifts to share, it is no wonder what a blessing any time at Trinitas can be for those who work and attend school here.
Happy New Year! The older I get, the faster the years seem to come and go. It is as if we began 2018 just yesterday, but 2019 is now upon us and already a week old. Many of us like to begin each new year by making resolutions—new year, new start. This year I am encouraging Christian parents to make three resolutions for raising Christian children: correct our children according to God’s word, eat at least one meal together as a family every day, and engage in family worship or devotions daily. If we pursue these resolutions diligently and pray continually for guidance and help from the Holy Spirit, 2019 can be a year of great spiritual growth for our families.
First, let’s resolve to correct our children according to God’s word. Parenting is hard work, and sometimes we find ourselves, tired and frazzled, correcting our children because they have inconvenienced us or embarrassed us or because we just want peace and quiet. What if we put our own desires aside, though, and lovingly corrected our children according to God’s word? I encourage you to start with the end in mind. Christian parents all want their children to become God-honoring Christian adults, and training for that begins when they are children—it doesn’t happen in the twinkling of an eye when they turn eighteen or twenty-one or thirty-two. So parents have to ask themselves, how does God intend for His people to live? What should Christians do and not do? I suggest spending some time in the epistles of Paul. Books like Ephesians, Colossians, Galatians, and Titus all have some very clear passages about which behaviors Christian people should put off and which ones they should put on. Correct your children for those things. Train them to put off ungodly behaviors associated with what the Bible calls the “old man” and to put on the godly characteristics of the “new man” they have become in Christ. For example, teach them not only to put off dishonesty but also to put on a love for the truth. Correcting your children according to the Scriptures and with the end in mind will cultivate virtue in their lives, replacing sinful habits with godly habits.
Next, let’s resolve to eat at least one meal together as a family every day. I know this is a lot to ask for some families because of work schedules and different things, but it is a goal worth pursuing. Any meal will do, but the evening meal is the one I suggest taking together because it affords an opportunity for everyone to talk about how their day went. Debriefing in a safe family setting can be a huge stress reliever for children and parents. It also gives parents an opportunity to teach through things that come up in the normal day-to-day business of life without having to create make-believe scenarios or talk at their children about things that seem irrelevant. Believe me, when you invite your children to talk at the family table, every topic will come up eventually. Besides the teaching opportunity, just eating together is good. God made us for community, and the community found at the family table is truly sweet. I have lingered at table for hours at a time with my family, and those memories are among the fondest I have. Few families have time to linger at the table for hours every evening, but even the short meal taken together daily is edifying and bond-strengthening.
Finally, Christian parents (and especially you, dads), let’s resolve to conduct family worship or devotions in our homes daily. I know the reaction many of you have right now is one of horror at trying to lead your family in worship, but let me assure you that if you stick to a few basics, you can hardly go wrong. The ingredients I suggest for family worship are a Scripture reading, singing, and prayer. If you are unsure about which passages to read, try working your way through the whole Bible over time by reading just a chapter or two each day. You don’t have to spend a lot of time on exposition, just read God’s word together. (As your children get older, you will need to be prepared for their questions, which is a good spiritual challenge for you—get prepared.) If that seems like too much, follow a daily devotional from one your favorite pastors. Follow the reading with a song. Sing songs you normally sing at your church, thereby preparing your family to be better worshippers on Sunday. If no one in the family plays an instrument, acapella is just fine. Finally, pray together. In the beginning it may be necessary for the parents to pray aloud and the children listen, but eventually, everyone should get a turn to pray. This is a great way to teach your children the all-important Christian privilege of going to God’s throne of grace in prayer. While family worship should never replace going to church, it is an excellent supplement for your family’s spiritual growth.
As a Christian parent, your most important task on earth for a season is to raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. If you think just taking them to Sunday school or even enrolling them in a private Christian school is enough to accomplish that task, you have woefully underestimated to work ahead of you. You have much to do, but fear not, the Holy Spirit will enable you to do all God has called you to do if you will approach it faithfully, diligently, and prayerfully. I hope these three resolutions for the New Year will give you a practical starting point for the journey. Godspeed!
Mr. Ron Gilley
Trinitas houses Augustine, George, Polycarp, and Valerian visited the University Pines and Waterford retirement homes Friday, December 14th. Our young ladies and gentlemen shared their talents with residents singing several Christmas hymns. Students, parents, and Trinitas staff enjoyed meeting with the residents after caroling. We are thankful for the leadership of our house stewards who plan activities such as this one that allowed our students to spread the joys of the Advent and Christmas season.
As the sixth grade studies the modern period of history, they begin in the 1800’s and the westward expansion of the United States of America which is cemented in their memories by the Conestoga Wagon project. The hammering, sewing, drilling, and painting are all small-scale reminders of the great sacrifices made by the early western settlers, or “emigrants.” The resulting mini covered wagons, or “camels of the prairie,” are fun reminders of our sixth grade year.
“From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.” (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish) Students in every grade are busily preparing for the big night in January. The annual Night of Recitation will take place at East Brent Baptist Church on January 25th at 6:00 pm. This will be an opportunity for our students to display some of the many fruits of a classical and Christian education. They will use their public speaking talents and their gift of memorization to present a wonderful night of Shakespeare and Seuss. Please join us and invite your friends and families to do the same. Rest assured, you will be glad you came! After all, our students know that they’ll “…look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care. About some you will say, ‘I don’t choose to go there.’ With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down any not so good street.” (Oh The Places You’ll Go)
With banners on display, the 3rd grade teams of Athens, Corinth, Sparta, and Argos competed in the annual Trinitas Olympic Day. Mrs. Phillips’s class challenged one another in arm wrestling, javeline throws, and a “discus” throw using a frisbee. The “potato put” allowed the children to see just how far they could hurl what would later become Mrs. Phillips’s dinner!! The stade and diaulos races (50 and 100 yard dashes for our students) ended in close finishes between the teams.
In spite of Christmas displays in the stores in October and continuous Christmas music on the radio since the day after Thanksgiving, it isn’t Christmastime yet. According to the historical calendar of the Christian Church, we are currently in the season of Advent. Taken from the Latin, adventus, meaning coming or arrival, Advent is the season leading up to Christmas that is symbolic of the world’s longing and waiting for the promised Messiah of God who would take away the sins of the world. Though it is often unobserved in Evangelical circles today, I want to offer just three reasons why we should consider observing Advent with our children.
#1 Teach the Importance of Christ’s Coming
We know, of course, that Christ has already come, and because of that, every day is like Christmas and Easter all rolled into one. We can and should rejoice and feast and be thankful. But there was a time when the world was sin-dark and anticipating its Deliverer. That age is one worth teaching our children about, and it is symbolized by the season of Advent. Why should we teach our children about a Christless age? So they can better appreciate the fact that the Savior has come for them. There is no easier route to taking the Savior for granted than that route paved with the stones of ignorance about our need for Him. Advent offers us an important opportunity to reinforce our and our children’s need for the Messiah. In the words of Jerry Bridges, author of The Pursuit of Holiness and The Discipline of Grace, we should “preach the Gospel to ourselves daily,” and the importance of the Gospel begins with our understanding that we need it.
#2 Pushback against Secular Usurpers of the Calendar
Anyone who frequents big department stores knows that many of them were already establishing Christmas displays even before the arrival of their second biggest shopping holiday, Halloween. Lest you think this early display of holiday cheer just means those corporations were overcome with the Christmas spirit early this year, let me assure you it’s all about the money. The merchandisers have hijacked the calendar for one reason: profit. Western culture and tradition, importantly shaped by Christianity over millennia, has been wrested from us by those who worship the dollar. There is nothing sacred about Black Friday or Cyber Monday. The Western calendar, indeed our entire Western culture, is more shaped by economic influences now than by holy ones. Bah-humbug, I say. Christians should stop dancing to that tune and push back against those secular influences. What’s at stake? Oh, nothing more important than a Christian way of being. Observing Advent is one way of showing our children that holy matters take precedence over secular economic ones.
#3 Re-establish Christian Culture
Western society was largely built on Christian culture but now is bankrupt. We have spent the last couple hundred years living on the Christian capital that was invested into Western society earlier in history, but Christian reinvestment during that couple hundred years has been too small and too late. It is time for Christians to re-establish a distinctly rich Christian culture that will once again permeate all Western society, even the whole world. I say re-establish, not re-create. The historical practices and disciplines of the church are rich and meaningful and worthy of our attention. The church has often, at least in the last hundred years or so, compromised on its culture under the guise of appealing to unbelievers or seekers. The result has been a watering down of historical Christian culture to make it look less different from secular culture. But we are different. God has made us different by the blood of Christ and has called us into a different culture. Re-establishing the historical practices and traditions of the church is the very thing that will demonstrate we are in the world but not of the world, for if we are of the world and look the part, what’s the point? Observing Advent is one small but important way for us to demonstrate to our children that we do indeed march to the beat of a different Drummer—one small but important way to begin re-establishing a distinctly Christian culture in the world.
Give your children a legacy of faith, and in that giving give them rich and meaningful ways of being Christian that demonstrate they are part of something bigger than themselves, part of something that transcends time and space, uniting them to that great cloud of witnesses that has gone before them in this faith. Observing Advent with your children is one small way of doing that. It is one small way of preparing their hearts for the miracle of Christmas while redeeming a distinctly Christian tradition that speaks meaning into a world desperately searching for meaning in all the wrong places.
Mr. Ron Gilley
Inspired after reading the 1947 book, Misty of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry, the third grade enjoyed “Pony Penning Day.” The original event celebrated in Chincoteague, Virginia has been a tradition for that community since 1925 but dates back to the 17th century. Ponies are herded across the Assateague Channel to Chincoteague Island and then sold at auction to local buyers. Our students were able to see a glimpse of what those in Virginia experience because of the generosity of one of our founding families, the Zepps. Students went horseback riding, pitched hay, tossed horseshoes, and tried pony penning fare for lunch. Life on a farm is rewarding but rigorous, and students learned to appreciate the many facets of maintaining animals, especially of the equine sort!