For it is by grace you have been saved...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Homeschool Freedom - Update

For those who have an interest in the California case which in some ways has become a threat to homeschool freedom, here is the latest update sent out by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA):

Court of Appeal Grants Petition for Re-hearing

On March 25, the California Court of Appeal granted a motion for rehearing in the 'In re Rachel L.' case--the controversial decision which purported to ban all homeschooling in that state unless the parents held a teaching license qualifying them to teach in public schools.

The automatic effect of granting this motion is that the prior opinion is vacated and is no longer binding on any one, including the parties in the case.

The Court of Appeal has solicited a number of public school establishment organizations to submit amicus briefs including the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and three California teacher unions. The court also granted permission to Sunland Christian School to file an amicus brief. The order also indicates that it will consider amicus applications from other groups.

Home School Legal Defense Association will seek permission to file such an amicus brief and will coordinate efforts with a number of organizations interesting in filing briefs to support the right of parents to homeschool their children in California.

"This is a great first step," said Michael Farris, chairman of HSLDA. "We are very glad that this case will be reheard and that this opinion has been vacated, but there is no guarantee as to what the ultimate outcome will be. This case remains our top priority," he added

This is truly good news at this point. I urge you to keep praying about this case. As I've said in response to some earlier comments, regardless of the particulars in this one family, the phrasing of the courts judgment was the concern. We need to continue to fight for the rights of parents to raise and educate their children according to biblical principles, including the freedom to homeschool.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Another Great Conference Opportunity

As long as I'm plugging conferences, I thought some might be interested in this one. My friend Scott Lee at Rockport Baptist in Arnold, MO (St. Louis Area) is hosting this Grace Camp Meeting and Bible Conference. The dates are April 10-13, starting Thursday night at 7:00 and going through Sunday morning.

One of my all time favorite preachers, Paul Washer, will be one of the speakers. He is the director of the HeartCry Missionary Society and one of the most intense, challenging, biblically sound men of God I've had the privilege of hearing.

Unfortunately, due to commitments within our own fellowship, I'll not be able to attend. I would love to be there, since this church is only minutes from my folks house, but it just won't happen this year. But I did want to do what advertising I could for this event because I know that it will be a blessing to any and all who attend.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Defending Your Faith Family Conference

I just wanted to call your attention to what promises to be an outstanding family get-away. The ministry of Answers in Genesis (AiG) is sponsoring a “Defending Your Faith Family Conference” this summer in Branson, Missouri. Billed as “a spiritual feast for the family,” it will be held July 15-18 at the Tri-Lakes Center in Branson. Personally, I’m excited about the opportunity to hear some of the men I respect most on issues of faith and family. The speakers include:

Ken Ham, founder of AiG and an expert on Creation issues.

Voddie Baucham, pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, TX; author of Family Driven Faith, and respected speaker on issues like family and cultural apologetics.

Doug Phillips, founder of Vision Forum Ministries and champion of the Biblical family, Biblical manhood and womanhood, etc.

Carl Kerby, founding board member of AiG, and one of their most popular speakers.

Since we’re short on funds around our place, we’ve decided to make this our family vacation for the year. What’s so great is that Cheryl and the kids are as excited about this trip as I am. I can’t think of a better way to spend our time and money that to get the whole family together for a few days of learning from these men, fellowship with like-minded families, and throw in a couple days in Branson to boot.

I know it’s not super cheap. Were it not for some tax refund money, we probably wouldn’t be able to do it either. But compared to what many spend on vacations, this comes in at or less than the usual cost. And the benefit to your family will be priceless.

I don’t know what kind of demand there will be for this, but I would suggest you pray and consider this now and make your reservations soon. Hope to see you in Branson in July.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Hound Of Heaven

Every now and then I thoroughly enjoy going back through my music archives and pulling out stuff that was popular back in my “radio days” (i.e. the mid- to late- 80s when working at various Christian stations in college and after). Recently, I’ve been on a DA (Daniel Amos) kick.

One of my favorite songs has always been “The Hound of Heaven.” I just like the music. I like the hook line. But lately, I’ve come to be quite fond of the whole theology behind the concept itself.

The song is based on a 182 line poem of the same title written by 19th Century English poet Francis Thompson. The images Thompson weaves of a man on the run from God, looking to man and beast and indeed the rest of all creation for aid, is truly remarkable. Yet, at every step, he hears even bigger steps behind him, and a Voice letting him know how futile this flight is.

I wouldn’t expect you to read all 182 verses: but here is at least the beginning and the end (those who are non-poetry lovers or with shorter attention spans can skip to the conclusion below):

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbéd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
“All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”

Now of that long pursuit
Comes on at hand the bruit;
That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
“And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught” (He said),
“And human love needs human meriting:
How hast thou merited—
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!”
Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
“Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.”

Francis Thompson (1859-1907)

What a great and glorious God of grace we serve! A God who’s love and mercy will not let us go until He has accomplished His purposes. And then to look back over the course of one’s life and see that all those things we thought were struggles and difficulties, and maybe even “desertions” by God, were really intended by God to draw us closer to Himself.

1 Peter 4:19 reminds us: “Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” Seems to me to be an echo of the same thought. That God will use whatever means possible/necessary, even suffering, to ensure we are drawn to Him and “entrust our souls to a faithful Creator.”

Forgive me is this seems a little to melancholy. Getting nostalgic and listening to these old songs make me a bit more reflective than usual. But I for one am glad for a God of such persistence. In the end, the sound of those Footsteps breathing down my back has come to be more of a comfort than a fright. And I pray they will become the same for you, and that the Hound of Heaven will overcome you with His grace.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Homeschool Freedom

Dear Reader,

I don’t know if you consider yourself the activist type or not, but I would encourage you to read and sign this petition being offered through the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

I mentioned in an earlier post about the recent decision in a California Court of Appeals which basically decided that homeschooling is illegal in California unless a parent is a certified teacher.

According the HSLDA:

The Court could have restricted its decision to the facts before it, but instead, it issued a broad ruling that effectively outlaws home education in California. The Court also certified its decision for publication, which means that the decision can now be cited as legal authority by all other courts in California.

One option to keep homeschooling free in California is to petition the Supreme Court of California to “depublish” the opinion. If the opinion is “depublished” then it cannot be used by other California courts and this threat to homeschool freedom will be neutralized for other California homeschoolers.
Regardless of the particulars of this specific case, the court has obviously gone too far in issuing such a broad reaching decision. As someone who enjoys the freedom to homeschool, and furthermore considers this freedom to be a basic right that should be available to all in all 50 states without interference from the government, I want to stand alongside our California brethren. Signing a petition is the very least I can do.

I would urge you to join me in signing the HSLDA’s petition, as well as to pray for homeschoolers in California, and the rest of the nation for that matter. We are living in a day when the freedom of individuals, especially Christian individuals it seems, is slowly being eroded right from under our feet. Forgive the alarmist sounding note, but we need to unite and stand firm against such erosion if we want our children to enjoy the freedoms we take for granted.

So please, commit this to prayer and consider signing this petition.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Vote For Us

No it's not about politics this time. It's about floors.

Our local is running an "ugly floor" contest along with Carpet Barn. The winner gets something like $2,000 in flooring. As much as we love our broken down old farmhouse, the scarred baby-diaper green vinyl flooring in the kitchen, dining room and hall is just horrible (as the picture clearly reveals). But on the ol' preacher-salary, that's not a high priority budget item.

Anyway, if you're bored and just looking for something to do while you're wasting all this time on the internet anyway, hop on over to the OzarksFirst website and vote for #22, that's us. I voted tonight and Cheryl said, "Hey, put it on your blog." So why not. It beats more whining about the presidential race, doesn't it.

Remember, that's and vote for number 22. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Goodbye, GOP

Well, as much as it breaks my heart, it looks like I will officially NOT be voting for the Republican presidential candidate this year. For those living in caves who haven't heard (of for those who have just lost interest) Mike Huckabee has officially pulled out of the GOP nomination process.

This puts me, and millions of other God-fearing conservatives, in a very difficult spot. For years I have told friends, family and church members alike that as long as the GOP stands on godly principles, I will be a Republican. But when the party deserts those principles, I'll desert the party.

Since it now seems that John McCain will be the Republican nominee, and since so many GOP leaders were determined to shove the man down our throats and totally dismiss the concerns of the genuine conservatives being represented by Huckabee, that day may have finally arrived.

I recently signed a pledge with Focus on the Family stating that I would only vote for candidates who consistently stand for the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, and the freedom to exercise our religious liberty. Unfortunately, John McCain's past actions will keep me from voting for him if I am to remain faithful to that pledge.

I hate to try and recreate the work of others, so I would encourage you to read Rod Albert's blog entry on the GOP situation, which does an excellent job of reminding us of why it is difficult if not impossible for Christians to support McCain. He simply does not stand for what we stand for.

In fact, I'll not only honor my pledge to FoF, but I will encourage you to join me in signing the pledge as well. I wonder what would happen if all the genuinely Christian folks in this nation actually stood up, refused to give into the "electabilty" bandwagon, and truly voted their conscience. How long would it take for the Republican Party to see just how desperately they need genuine conservatives? And since they've decided to thumb their noses at us, they are about to find out with at least this one voter.

I haven't decided exactly what I'll do yet. My options are to vote for a third party candidate who does fit the standard of that pledge, or to simply write in the name of someone like, I don't know, say Mike Huckabee. There we go. Let's start a write in campaign! Wouldn't that be something. Millions of write in votes for Mike Huckabee. Now that might just send a message to the good 'ol boys that they might actually get.

In the meantime, I will pray fervently for our nation. If the choice is between McCain and Clinton/Obama, there isn't much hope for the moral integrity of our land.

For The Children-postscript

Lest anyone thinks I was being a bit radical or alarmist in my last post, consider the plight of the Long Family in California.

World Net Daily has reported that after homeschooling 6 of their 8 children, the government is now forcing them to enroll their youngest two in the very same California Public Schools that I referenced in that last post; you remember, the same schools that are more interested in protecting the perversity of their teachers than the future of their students.

So maybe I should amend my comments to say this: Get your children out of the government schools, AND if you live on the West Coast, get your family out of California altogether!