Equipping followers of Christ to engage in their everyday work as the work of God, so workplaces are invigorated, communities flourish and culture is renewed to the honor and glory of the Lord.

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Biblical Worldview Training Boot Camps

Join fellow teachers and administrators for training and inspiration at the Manderley Christian Camp & Conference Center this summer, in Pikeville, TN.

It's my custom to take a break from blogging during the summer months, so my next post, Lord willing, will be out on the first Friday of September.

In the meantime, I invite you to join me at the Manderley Christian Camp & Conference Center, in Pikeville, Tennessee, this summer, for the 2018 Biblical Worldview Training Boot Camps for Teachers and Administrators, hosted by Renewanation.

I look forward to speaking on The Lost Purpose for Learning, and also providing practical tools for accomplishing biblical worldview integration in the classroom.

There are 4 camps this summer, held on the following dates: July 23-24, July 26-27, July 30-31 and August 2-3.

For details, including registration, click here.

I hope to see some of you there!

Onward and upward.


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Friday, May 18, 2018

This Is Not Your Mainstream European Thinking

Viktor Orban delivers his inaugural address at the start of his third term as Prime Minister of Hungary. 
Photo by Thomas Kovacs

From a Christian perspective, there is not a lot of positive press coming out of Europe these days.

So what happened on May 10 was unusual, as the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, was sworn into office for his third term. He won the election by a 2/3 majority. This in itself is noteworthy, but what is more noteworthy is Mr. Orban's inaugral address.

Consider this:

“Let us acknowledge that hidden behind the successes one always finds the grace of God. So the following is not just a rhetorical flourish, and not just tradition, but a deep conviction: Soli Deo gloria – Glory to God alone.” 

And this:

"I will not conceal our intentions: here before you I am making it clear that, acting in the name of Hungarian freedom, my government will be a determined opponent of [the plan for one European government], the process that has led here and its intermediate steps. Multiculturalism was the first such step. Political correctness, which muzzles freedom of speech, was the second. This is where Europe stands today. The third step would be the mandatory migrant resettlement quotas. We must and we will enter the arena of European politics, in order to stop the Europe that we love – and for which we are ready to make major sacrifices – climbing to the next step towards self-immolation. We shall oppose the mandatory quotas, stand up for Christian culture, and fight to defend borders.”

Stand up for Christian culture?

And then this:

"One cannot renew an entire nation in secret. In my view, a contribution to the results we have achieved so far has been made by our open declaration that the age of liberal democracy is at an end. Liberal democracy is no longer able to protect people's dignity, provide freedom, guarantee physical security or maintain Christian culture...Our response to this changed world, the Hungarian people's response, has been to replace the shipwreck of liberal democracy by building 21st-century Christian democracy. This guarantees human dignity, freedom and security, protects equality between men and women and the traditional family model, suppresses anti-Semitism, defends our Christian culture and offers a nation the chance of survival and growth. We are Christian democrats, and we want Christian democracy."

Glory to God alone?  Protect the traditional family model? Suppress anti-Semitism? Defend Christian culture?

This is not your mainstream European thinking.  

Let's keep Mr. Orban, and Hungary, in our prayers.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Who Has Charge Of Planet Earth?

"Saint Anne," 8th century painting. She appears to have just realized something very significant. 

Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The room fell breathlessly silent.

I was speaking to a group of Christian school teachers and administrators at a conference when I posed this question: "What is the purpose of education?" 

Before anyone could reply, I answered: "The purpose of education is to equip the next generation to govern well over this material world."

I let the silence hang. Then someone near the front broke the silence: "Would you mind repeating that?"

I did.

Then I asked if anyone had ever told them this before, and not a single hand was raised.

Yet, what specific role and function does the Bible say God had in mind for humans before He created us? Clearly, God had governance of Planet Earth in mind, when He said: "Let Us make man in Our likeness and image, and let them rule over...all the earth..."

Psalm 115:16 says: "The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; But the earth He has given to the children of men.” The Message puts it this way: “The heaven of heavens is for God, but he put us in charge of the earth.” 

See also Psalm 8. 

Yes, "the earth is the Lord's and everything in it" (Psalm 24:1), yet He has given humans charge of it, as His appointed Vice-regents.

Wait! Really?! Who has charge of Planet Earth? 

You and I do. And our neighbors. Think about it. Human beings were created for the express duty of governing over God's earth and everything in it. This includes water, electricity, fish, cows, carrots, digital images, e-books, airplanes and ice cream!

I believe this is why George Swinnock, the Puritan leader, said: “The pious tradesman will know that his shop as well as his chapel is holy ground.” 

We were created to rule over whole systems, too, because without systems, governance over things cannot happen. This is why we need legal systems, civil systems and economic systems that work well. We need economists, judges and legislators with their heads screwed on straight.

So if it is God's intention for human beings to govern over this material world, shouldn't the purpose of education be to equip the next generation to do this well? 

This provides meaning for education--and purpose for teachers. Yet, few Christian teachers have heard this. Why? 

Hint: How many sermons have you heard about God giving humans charge of Planet Earth?

Christian school leaders, please click here.

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Friday, May 4, 2018

The Center for Christian Civic Engagement

Ric Fritz, speaking in the chamber of the Washington State legislature in Olympia.

Last week I posed the question of whether or not Christians should be politically active. Frankly, if there ever was a time for civic engagement on the part of Christ-followers, it is now. Yet, for many who think they should be involved somehow, the lingering question of how to best go about it often hangs unanswered. 

Yet, this is precisely why my friend Ric Fritz founded the Center for Christian Civic Engagement.

Ric and his wife sold their house (along with nearly everything else) and bought a "fifth wheel" which is now their home, shared with two of their children. They did this so they could be mobile, going wherever God leads them, to encourage Christians to become engaged in "conversations that will shape and guide future generations." They also seek to help pastors know how they may equip their congregants to be civically engaged—and why this is so important.

As Ric puts it: “The need for Christian Civic and Political Engagement is increasingly important in a world and culture disconnected from the Lord. Policies and legislation passed by government impacts God’s people. They can either encourage people to live Godly lives or they can encourage ungodly lives. As conservative, Bible-focused Christians retreat and disengage from political discussions it follows that the character of those who step in to fill the void will not reflect Christian values. This is exactly what we see today. Christian Civic and Political Engagement seeks to stop and reverse this trend to the glory of God.”

Ric is uniquely qualified for what he is doing. Not only did he serve a full career in the U.S. Air Force (now retired from duty), but Ric is also a credentialed minister, and a former youth pastor. He also has first-hand experience in the political system.

The Center for Christian Civic Engagement is not trying to re-invent the wheel by duplicating the efforts of others. Rather, Ric is helping followers of Christ to know how they may come along side those who are already working in particular civic arenas with a biblically-informed motive and perspective. Ric's organization serves as both a clearing house and a connecting body, as well as an education source.

Pray for Ric, that doors will be opened.

If you want to know what your options are for involvement in civil engagement, whether it's a tiny involvement or a large involvement, contact Pastor Ric.

I invite you to explore the website of the Center for Christian Civic Engagement here, and meet Pastor Ric via the video clip below:

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Should Christians Be Politically Active?

Protesters making their views known about the “trans” military ban in front of the White House, on July 26, 2017.

Photo by Ted Eytan from Washington, DC, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, I received an e-mail from a teenager who read my book, Assumptions That Affect Our Lives. I rarely receive notes from teen readers, and it pleases me when I do. 

Portions of the young man's note are as follows: 

"Dr. Overman, I am 17 years old and very disturbed at the state of our country, as I am sure you are. I just finished reading your Assumptions book, and I must say, it was very eye-opening and well written. However, I do not agree with you when you stated in the epilogue that 'As followers of Christ, we must be politically active.' I do not know of any place in the Bible where we are commanded to play a role in politics…Why is it that you place such high importance on being politically active? I believe that it is through the ministry of the church that the hearts and minds of people will be changed. If the church fulfills the Great Commission, and people's hearts are changed, then we will see Christian politicians. I believe this is the only way to see change in our county…Proclaiming the gospel is much more important that politics, and is in fact, our duty as Christians. If we do our job, and proclaim the gospel, then our country will change.”

This young man's thinking reflects the thinking of many Christian adults, including church leaders. I don't know, but perhaps the young man who wrote to me may have heard from one or two.  

Should Christians be politically active?

Several days after receiving the above note, a friend of mine [who did not know of my communication with the young reader] sent me an article with the title, Did the Call for Christians to "Just Preach the Gospel" result in California Becoming Anti-Christian?

This was too much for me to pass up.  

Rather than re-stating the main points of this article, I encourage you to read it for yourself. Chew it well before swallowing, so it can be digested slowly: click here.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Greater Threat To Christianity In The U.S.

Big gifts sometimes come in small packages. God Spoke, by Dr. Erik Strandness, is such a gift. In a mere 56 pages, the author says things better than most writers can do in 256 pages.

Dr. Strandness points to a 2016 Gallup poll showing 90% of Americans still believe in “God.” Turns out, the greater threat to Christianity in the U.S. is not atheism, but polytheism: the postmodern notion that any god will do, and one god is just as valid as another. This is ancient Greece all over again.

“We all have the same God-shaped hole,” writes Dr. Strandness, “but the odd ways in which we try to fill it create religious differences. Our postmodern culture [is] telling us that all paths lead to the same divine mountaintop, but that illusory unity is shattered once we reach the summit and look around to see that each religious victory flag has been struck on a completely different peak.”

The “spiritual hole” Dr. Strandness alludes to is the same spiritual hole Paul found in the marketplace of Athens. Paul congratulated them on their religious nature, but challenged them to get specific about who their ‘unknown god’ really was. Strandness takes a similar tack, using brilliant 21st century imagery.

This is a beautifully written apologetic for people who are wondering about who the ‘unknown god’ really is. It reflects the journey of the author himself, who practiced neonatal medicine for twenty years before his life was radically transformed by a passion to thoroughly understand his faith.

Temporarily setting aside his medical practice, Dr. Strandness went back to school and earned a degree in theology. It’s a rare thing to find a medical doctor with a theology degree! Erik has since resumed practicing medicine in Spokane, Washington, and serves as a Christian worldview educator during his off-hours.

I met Erik while he was participating in the Colson Fellows Program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. I can vouch for his character. He is the “real deal.” What’s more, he is a great writer, with the most unusual way with words I've seen.

God Spoke: Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide with Divine Discourse is Erik’s 3rd book. Prior to this, he wrote The Director’s Cut: Finding God’s Screenplay on the Cutting Room Floor, and, Cry of the Elephant Man: Listening for Man’s Voice above the Herd.

For your copy of God Spoke, click here.

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Friday, April 13, 2018

There Will Rise Up A Stigma

Public shaming has been around for a long time. These men were put into the stocks at Bramhall, England, in the year 1900. I don't know why they were put into the stocks, but they must have done something...very...very...bad.
[Photo Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Author unknown.]

A National Public Radio web article flashed the headline: "Christian colleges are tangled in their own LGBT policies." John Stonestreet, President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and Roberto Rivera, followed up with an ominous BreakPoint commentary (link below).

The reality is that many Christian colleges are as much at risk today as "politically incorrect" flower shops and cake decorating businesses. If student loans from the government are not allowed to be used at colleges having particular views on sexual practice, many colleges will not survive the financial hit.

I would only add to the BreakPoint analysis, that even if the student loan situation were not an issue, the "court of public opinion" is. Christian colleges holding to a biblical view of homosexuality will be targets of increasing public shaming for being "intolerant," "narrow minded," and (the worst) "unloving." 

They will be painted as Southern schools of the early '60s with segregation policies. There will rise up a stigma associated with such schools which many Christian students (and their parents) will not be willing to carry in public.

As this stigma becomes a reality for Christian colleges, it will become a reality for Christian K-12 schools. But it will not stop there.

It will become a reality for Bible-teaching churches, too. Christian K-12 schools will be facing the prospect of losing enough students to shut their doors. This is exactly where things are headed. And churches will not be able to dodge this bullet either. The faithful everywhere will be put into public stocks and shamed.

Think it could never happen? Think again.

Christian institutions (whether K-12 schools, colleges, or churches) that hold to the belief that homosexual conduct is sin (I use an old, outdated word) are headed for difficult testing. Some Christian schools and churches will try to "survive" by moderating their views on what is acceptable sexual behavior. This is already happening. 

Such testing is God's way. Allowing the likes of LGBTQ activism to test the hearts and minds of His own has been His way of doing things since the days of Job, and before.

God's judgment begins with the testing of His own people. As the Apostle Peter wrote to his own generation, "The time has come for God's judgment, and it is beginning with the testing of his own people." The Living Water Translation, I Peter 4:17.

For the BreakPoint article, click here

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Worklife Restoration and Advancement Project

Effective Christian schools have effective leaders. Cindy Mathisen, is one such leader at Lighthouse Christian School, Gig Harbor, Washington.

Worldview Matters® is currently accepting applications from Christian schools for the Worklife Restoration and Advancement Project [WRAP], starting in the coming 2018-19 academic year.

For more information about the WRAP, including how to get an Application Form, click here.

Maybe you don't know what the "WRAP" is all about. The best way to find out, is to watch the short video clip below, as teachers and administrators from Lighthouse Christian School, a WRAP school in Gig Harbor, Washington, share about their professional development experience through the WRAP program.

In recent posts I have spoken of the problem of "secularizing" schools, both the State type and "Christian" school type. So, what does a de-secularizing school look like?

It looks like this:

If this video does not play, click https://youtu.be/ZAEGrH_z8gE

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Friday, March 30, 2018

The Number Is 202-401-3000

"The Tax Collector," oil on panel, 1620-1640, by Pieter Brueghel.
(USC Fisher Museum of Art photo. Pieter Brueghel the Younger [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)

It's tough to bring up children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4) that are attending secularizing schools. But what are the alternatives for mid-to-low-income families when tuition at many Christ-inclusive schools is very high?

First, check into financial aid through the school itself. Then, look into financial assistance through grandparents, and other caring relatives. Then look to your church.

Every church should have a “Christian Education Fund” to help young families meet the financial challenges of a Christ-inclusive education. The Church has a first-line, God-given responsibility for equipping the Saints (Eph.4:7-24), including children. Not the State. If your local church does not have a fund, see if one can be started. Or start a de-secularizing school. 

Many families today are home-educating. This requires a certain kind of parent, however, as not all parents are equally adept at home-based education. Yet, many helpful resources are available for home-educators today, including co-ops and on-line courses. 

An often untapped resource for home-educators is grandparents. Many grandparents have time on their hands, and what better way to spend it, than to engage with their own grandchildren in the process of providing a formal education at home! (BTW, an outstanding book on grandparenting is Dr. Josh Mulvihill’s terrific work, Biblical Grandparenting. It is must reading!)

For a long-term solution to the funding problem, we need to change how property taxes are dispersed to schools. In my State, the secularizing schools are the only schools receiving funding through taxes. This is grossly discriminatory, and highly inappropriate for a today's pluralistic society.

Why not allow tax dollars that property owners pay go to the educational system of their choice?

If I were Jewish, and I wanted to support the Jewish schools in my city, why shouldn’t I have this choice? If I were Muslim, and I wanted to support the Islamic schools in my town, why shouldn’t I have this choice? If I want my tax dollars to support the secularizing schools, so be it. But by choice, not by force.

Furthermore, let people send their educational tax dollars directly to the school of their choice without passing these funds through government hands at all. In the computer age, those who cheat can easily be caught.

Recently, I called the Office of the Secretary of Education to suggest this idea. You can too. Please do! The number is 202-401-3000. 

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Friday, March 23, 2018

Have We Lost The Culture War?

Daniel in the lion's den.
(After Briton Rivière [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)

In the Not Far Away video, I stated:  

“Sending children to [secularizing] schools to be ‘lights in the world’ sounds noble, until they come home thinking like their textbooks, making no connection between any academic subject and the bigger picture of God’s Word.”

A friend took exception, writing: “…in essence they all are going to be brainwashed as it were in those schools. I simply don’t agree and certainly don’t think it will do anything by demonizing the schools, the teachers in those schools and the potential those kids and teachers have.”

He went on to say the church should be training children to be Daniels and Esthers in State schools, sending them into their educational world to transform it.

But most churches are as infected with S.S.D. [the Sacred-Secular Divide] as the schools.   

The majority of young people from Christian homes and churches are thinking more like secularized textbooks than the Bible. It only makes sense that a 13-year dose of secularism through secularizing schools would be a major contributor to the secularization of society. How could it not be?
There are some Daniels and Esthers in State schools. However, Barna tells us the percentage of “Generation Z” [born in 1999 or later] who identify as atheist is double that of the U.S. adult population, and only 63% of America’s teens who identify as Christians believe Jesus is the Son of the one true God. (How does Gen Z define the term "Christian?") 

Have we lost the culture war? If we mean, "have we lost the Christian consensus?," the answer is an emphatic, yes.  

A "new normal" is permeating our schools and American culture-at-large. Some youth are swimming against the tide, yet few are able to withstand the undertow. It's hard enough without attending secularizing schools. The "Christian consensus" of pre-1960 was long ago in a galaxy far away.

I believe secularizing schools (both the State type and the "Christian" type) have played a significant role in this development. Yet, the primary responsibility for where our culture is at today cannot be placed on the schools. The greater responsibility lies with churches.

"The time has come for God’s judgment, and it is beginning with the testing of his own people.” I Peter 4:17, Living Water Translation.

Hope for the future lies with His own people. But the Church cannot bypass God's testing in the process. 

We're in it.   

If the video does not play, click https://youtu.be/Igd74KblPvU

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