Tag Archives: Discipleship

…apologetics canada conference…

Like any growing muscle, pain equals gain.  In other words, muscles worked to the edge experience growth.

In that flavour, this past weekend Heritage enjoyed taking 25 high schoolers to grow their minds & hearts.  They listened to world-class speakers at the annual Apologetics Canada Conference in Abbotsford.

Our crew with Dr. William Lane Craig

Our crew with Dr. William Lane Craig

Check out our school’s Facebook page for photos of our group with Dr. William Lane Craig!  In addition to building Christian community based on a vibrant life of the mind, staff and students had a blast together playing games on the bus ride down, engaging in lively conversation, and having a board game marathon until pretty pretty late on Friday night.

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…003 – who’s your standard?…

As you look into your own heart & character, what do you hold as your standard?  Do you look around to those you respect?  Or to those you are simply aware of?  Or do you look to something greater than yourself?

At chapel this past week I shared on the passage from Luke 6 where Jesus uses the analogy of a tree being known by its fruit – that a good tree produces good fruit and a bad tree produces bad fruit.  Although analogies cannot be used to generate a 100% of the time policy or expectation, they do speak to the general case.  It is commonly accepted that Jesus is drawing parallels between the tree and one’s heart, and the fruit and one’s words & behaviours.  The conclusion of the text offers the following words that need little explanation:

out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks

Download the audio from this chapel for your computer or mobile device, or listen below.

Each one of us must decide who we want to become.  It has been said that we will hit what we aim for.  So, I simply ask the questions, ‘What are you aiming for?  What is your standard?”

Do you look around to see others…to compare your own actions relative to what other people hold as true?  Or do you hold to something greater?  Do you have an example to model yourself after?

Teenagers, like each one of us, are in such a tough situation with these questions.  They experience the ups and downs of friendships and peer-pressure and identity and purpose.  They can be ostracized for their beliefs when they may contradict the accepted norm.  Yet, to be true to themselves they must remain congruent.  A teacher on our staff often says, “when you hang out with fish, you smell like fish.”  So true – we all have such power to influence those around us.

Another colleague often referred to GIGO: garbage in – garbage out.  We must be disciplined & diligent regarding what we choose to put into our minds & body.  This is a great statement on the key verse of this post, out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks, because it reminds us that our heart is key to our attitude and actions.

Like this picture helps me see, it is below the surface that produces the results.

So, how do we train our hearts?  The Bible is clear that we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), and that we are to look to Jesus as our example (Philippians 2).  We must start with the right input before we can expect the right output.

So, who is your standard?  In your heart, what is driving your motivations and behaviours?

…Amanda Todd pt 3 – student open mic…

It is one thing to have staff sharing at chapel; it is another to have students talking to each other.

The past two weeks I have shared on very heavy topics. So I felt a ‘check-in’ was needed. This was confirmed when two students at separate times came to ask if we could have an open mic at chapel.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I love sharing at chapel. I love having our HCS Chaplain, Josiah Bitgood, share at chapel. I love having our teachers share at chapel. But, there’s something inside me that happens when students share at chapel…I just love this even more. When students get up in front of their peers sharing at chapel it is a moment where I can see discipleship in action, where I can see spiritual impact among our students, where I can see evidence of God’s work in the lives of our kids. These are powerful times.

This week I did not use audio to record what was shared. But, I did take point-form notes. I would like to offer them here as evidence that things said the past two weeks at chapel had hit home, and that there is true space needed for students to talk to students.

  • Our lead Science teacher and Christian Studies 12 teacher, Mr. Patrick Hayden, was the first on the mic to say that just as he takes a physical shower each morning to feel clean, he pumps the Christian music in his classroom each morning as a spiritual shower. It’s a clean start to the day. He reminded students that his classroom door is always open for students wanting to spend time listening to music in the mornings before school.

The rest of these are from students:

  • Gr 11: Girls, respect yourself – if you don’t, how will other people respect you? Make positive choices. Guys, respect the ladies! Give respect to earn respect.
  • Gr 12: In the morning…stop and pray – thank God for everything you can think of. Two weapons we have: word of God & prayer.
  • Gr 12: [Spent time explaining the spiritual difference between] Authority Vs. Power.
  • Gr 10: Think before you speak – words are really hurtful.
  • Gr 11: Amanda Todd is a reminder of what I went through…even at a Christian school. Just because this is a Christian school doesn’t mean that people aren’t hurting.
  • Gr 11: It really hurts to be bullied, not being respected. No one deserve that. Wow – people here at this school actually care for me, smile at me, include me. I know God loves me here.
  • Gr 11: I recently hurt someone…twice. I’m funny, but my words made someone frown. I’m sorry _(student name)_. [Hug] I forgive you. I should have said something that blessed someone else, that made them think about God. Words are so meaningful.
  • Gr 9: Public apology to another Gr 9 student. Don’t be mean to people.
  • Gr 9: Getting hurt – you can choose to hold on to it…or you can choose to let it go. Don’t even worry about it.
  • Gr 11: Words – they are for encouragement, too!
  • Gr 7: I’ve been bullied.
  • Gr 10: I’ve been a jerk. Like Band of Brothers and comrades, we must stand together.
  • Gr 12: With respect to the Amanda Todd situation, I picture a big house, during an earthquake, shaking. Then I picture, like a cartoon, the house falling down but the door remaining upright. So, you can either walk in the door and pretend nothing has happened. Or, you could yell and scream, “It’s going down, we’re all going down with the ship!” Or, you can rebuild it…learning about the situation – continually learning from past events. KEY: We must actively remember these things…or we will forget…out of sight, out of mind.

Thank you, students, for your thoughts and vulnerability as you shared. I pray we all have the grace to listen.

Often I am asked, or I ask myself, why teachers & administrators put in the long days during the final week of school.  Well, below are three quick reasons why it is all worth it.

  1. Hailey, giving her Grad 2012 Historian’s Speech
  2. Aaron, giving his Grad 2012 Valedictorian’s Speech, and
  3. Pastor Greg Bitgood, giving his Grad 2012 Superintendent’s Charge

What an evening.  A true celebration – a student showcase – for our Grade 8 to 11 students, followed by our Graduation 2012 Convocation & Awards Ceremony.

The following evening we packed the auditorium for our Graduation Banquet.  Yes, as a small school we have the privilege of recognizing each individual graduate.  Huge thanks to our MCs – Mr. David Laird & Mr. Justin Enns.  Also, wonderful addresses to our graduates from Mr. Patrick Hayden and Mr. Steve Smith.  It is a true honour working along-side you all.

Congratulations, Heritage Christian School Graduates of 2012.

…field trips, retreats, & overnighters: the heart of camping…

Think back to one of the most meaningful conversations or thoughts you’ve had.  Take a minute to picture where you were, what was happening, who was there, what other events had led up to that moment/situation/conversation?  Were you at home, at work, at play, by yourself, with someone else?  Did you go into that event expecting to have that meaningful moment, or did it just happen organically?

Well, it’s the night before our Grade 7-8 year-end retreat…an overnighter to Pines Bible Camp near Grand Forks, BC.  Don’t get me wrong…I’m sure it’s a great place…but the destination is not the goal.  The destination might be a goal…or an implicit goal.  But then again, we I bet we could take our kids almost anywhere and we would have a powerful time.

No, the real goal – the explicit goal – the paramount reason for taking two days off school, for asking so much more of our staff than a simple 9-5 job, for giving kids another chance to meet with God in a powerful way – is having 34 continuous hours with our staff & students.  These 34 hours will seem much longer than 34 x 60 = 2040 minutes.  I guarantee it.  I am so confident because of the beauty of camping, because of the simplicity of getting on a bus for an old-fashioned adventure, because of the renewing & eye-opening opportunity that exists when we step away from our well-known/safe/familiar/comfortable day-to-day life and take a peek at something new.

For the past many retreats I have spent the night before getting ready to share – getting ready to speak – trying to finish start (see my recent post on Planning) my talks.  Speaking at camps is a serious art form.  But, I’ll save that for a future post.  No, this retreat I am so pleased to say that our HCS Chaplain, Josiah Bitgood (Facebook, Twitter, Blog), will be leading the talks.  So, rather than getting a good sleep the night before (and really, why pack?)…I’ve got a post on my mind…trying to articulate why retreats & camping play the role they do in our lives of our students.

It should be noted here that student retreats were existent long before I came to Heritage and will continue to exist long after I’m gone.  My first experience with meaningful camping was as a boy at summer camp – rustic rural Christian kids camp and also jock sports camp.  Either way, it was a great time of personal development, of building friendships, and of eating white break with half-inch think butter and sugar (at the Bible camp, not the sports one…).  Seriously…truly amazing.

Camping has been a central piece of my family experience as well.  As a young boy, my father and I spent time each summer travelling to Yoho National Park.  I’m not sure what was better – the hiking or the car rides…memorizing one entire album while being quizzed on the Capitals of our Canadian Provinces and my 10×10 times-tables.  Again, like above, it wasn’t the destination…it was something else…

English: YLlogo

English: YLlogo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After I graduated from high school I spent time working with Young Life, a Christian youth organization, who’s modo is, “loving kids in their world, encouraging them to know Jesus Christ.”  I never experienced Young Life as a kid – only as a volunteer leader and staff person.  [As a side note: As a teacher and principal, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think back to my days with Young Life.]  Young Life’s philosophy is quite simple – as stated by its founder, Jim Rayburn,

“It’s a sin to bore a kid with the Gospel.”

So, in a nutshell, Young Life is the craziest fun you will ever experience…but…it’s not the fun that keeps kids coming back (destination)…it’s something more…

Young Life boiled its system (although I hate calling it that…perhaps pedagogy would be better here…) into “The 4 Cs”: Campaigners, Contact Work, Club, Camp.  One of the best articulations of this can be found right here by former Young Life staff person Bob Perkins: No Banana Splits (PDF).  For the record, the name of this document is a caution to youth workers everywhere that your weekly events cannot be bigger and better each week.  This is a cycle that can never be maintained.  Events (what Young Life calls Club) must draw kids because of something more/extra/deeper than the circus-show of dazzling prizes/events/swag etc.

So what is this extra missing ingredient?  What is the value-added experience beyond raffling off cars and having pizza parties each week?  What are the components that will keep kids (or should I say all humans) engaged/safe/empowered/encouraged/known?

Relationship.  (I’ve tried three times with three different strategies to add 20 lines of space before this word…not wanting to give away the answer until you had scrolled down…#sigh)

This is what makes camp so amazing:

  • quality time with peers who accept you and role models who celebrate you
  • moments away from our hustle-and-bustle of daily life…our daily life full of our instant-on / instant-stimulus / instant-response gadgets & mind-frames
  • basic human needs: food/shelter/warmth…camp is a great neutralizer…[my old Young Life boss used to say, “there’s just something humbling and safe-building when you wake up beside someone who has toothpaste all over the side of their mouth…]
  • there’s nothing quite like a fire, ocean, star, mountain, sunset/rise, cow & calf moose to force us all to ponder the magnitude of our universe & the infinitude of our role in it…and to consider the basic question of origins & purpose

Camp is about connecting with things around us – nature, comrades, or even ourselves if we venture alone.  Camp is about being put in situations that might never happen ‘in real life’.  Camp is about building relationships.

So, this is another thing I absolutely love about my school.  We spend 2.5 days the first week back from summer at Morning Star Bible Camp on a high school retreat – what a way to come back after the summer break!  We take 2 more days in February for our high school mid-winter retreat.  And, our grade 7 and 8 (next year’s middle school) classes get two days now enjoying each other’s company and growing together.  I trust that these two days will be powerful.  Yet, I am reminded often, this is not an equation.  You cannot simply add ‘time off school’ + ‘out-of-town over night trip’ + ‘cookies galore’ = ‘amazingly powerful time’.  Also, I don’t want to set up too high of an expectation – amazingly powerful time – because any time away as a group this time of year will be great.

Food for thought: Have you had some positive (or negative) camping experiences?  What have been some of your meaningful ones and what contributed to making them so?