Wyatt Earp Speaks to Homeschoolers

128 years ago today a gunfight took place in a narrow alley just off Fremont Street in Tombstone, AZ. Thanks to a 1950’s movie this event became known as the gunfight at the O.K. corral- which was actually several blocks away. When the shooting was over three cowboys were dead and three lawmen were injured. Wyatt Earp’s reputation as a gunfighter was largely a result of the fact that he was the only participant who escaped unharmed.

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There’s an old saying about the young man who was born on third base and grew up thinking he’d hit a triple. Wyatt Earp was a bit like that, wasn’t he? He carried a reputation as a great gunfighter primarily because he was lucky enough to not get shot during the 30+ gunshot chaos that took place in that narrow alley on October 26, 1881.

Are you like that? Have you been blessed by the Lord and begun to think of yourself as being better than some of your friends? I know I have! For whatever reason, sometimes it seems like we’re the last one still standing and it’s too easy to think of ourselves as being great “gunfighters” just because everybody around us has been wounded.

Take homeschooling for instance. If your children are growing in wisdom and stature while your friends and neighbors children seem to be having one problem after another it may be because you’re the greatest parent, teacher and motivator ever born. Or- it may be because the Lord has extended His mercy and grace over your family.

Paul urges us in Romans 12:3 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought…”

I wonder if Wyatt Earp knew that verse. I know that I find it all-too-easy to think more highly of myself than I ought sometimes. The Lord chooses to extend mercy and grace over our lives or the lives of our children and the next thing you know we begin thinking of ourselves as better parents, better providers or better teachers than our friends and neighbors.

Let us all remember to thank the Lord for His provision in our lives and humbly acknowledge that just because you don’t get shot in the melee doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a great gunfighter.

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Bail-Out Executives Speak to Homeschoolers

President Obama’s plan to restrict the pay of top executives of the firms who received the largest bail-out amounts fills the news this week. While some object to government dictating corporate pay policies, one important truth remains: Our rewards are directly related to our results. Or at least they should be.

For executives to receive a $10 million dollar pay package after steering their companies toward bankruptcy, ultimately requiring massive infusion of tens of billions of dollars to prevent their complete collapse strikes most Americans as unfair and downright wrong.

Paul puts it quite simply in 2 Thes 3:10, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.'”

Our children need to learn this simple truth without President Obama needing to come and tell them. In this life our rewards are directly related to our productivity- in every area except one.

And that of course is the area of eternal life where our works don’t amount to a hill of beans. In Ephesians 2:4-10 Paul reminds us, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Our children need to know this too. Talk with your children today about the areas in which our reward is the result of our works- and about the one area in which this isn’t true. We ALL need to know the difference.

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Curly Howard Speaks to Homeschoolers – Nyuk! Nyuk! Nyuk!

On October 22, 1903 Jerome Lester Horwitz was born. Most of us know him simply as “Curly” of the Three Stooges. Dead now for nearly 60 years Curly remains as popular with audiences today as he was in his prime in the 1930’s.

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Few people know that when he was 12 years old, Curly accidentally shot himself in the left ankle while cleaning a rifle. His older brother Moe rushed him to the hospital and saved his life. But the gunshot resulted in a lifelong limp which Curly refused to have repaired because of his overwhelming fear of surgery. It was this limp which caused Curly to develop his exaggerated, peculiar walk on screen- one of his most memorable pieces of creative acting.

Perhaps you or one of your children has what some might perceive as a “handicap”- either physical, mental or emotional. Perhaps the Lord would like to use that “weakness” to make you strong in another area. For instance, those who are born blind, become much better at hearing than those who have sight.

Is there something in your life or the lives of your children than the Lord can turn to your advantage? Perhaps you recall that Moses suffered some sort of speech impediment. Paul had some sort of physical handicap. The list is long of God choosing to use what appear to be “the weak things” of this world to accomplish His purposes.

In 2 Cor. 12:9 Paul observes, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Whatever your circumstance, ask Him today how He might want to use you or your children for His glory and to accomplish His purposes. Remember how the birth of Curly 106 years ago today and his accidental gunshot wound at age 12 gave the world one of its greatest comedic actors in part because his “weakness” to helped bring joy to others.

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Steve Lambert Speaks to Homeschoolers

I’ve written this column Monday thru Friday for the past four months. Today I’m on the road traveling from Eastern Tennessee back to Kansas City. That gives me 832 miles to think of something to write.

And for the first time I’ve come up empty-headed and empty-handed. Maybe it’s the beginning of a long thoughtless streak. Chances are however, it’s a one-day phenomenon. So what do you say when you can’t think of anything to say?

Answer: Nothing.

What does this have to do with homeschooling?

There are days when we don’t have a brilliant teaching plan or an inspired mind of Godly wisdom to impart to our children. And it’s okay to admit that. In fact, sometimes it’s the best thing you can do; admitting that you’re human just like your children and that every day isn’t always filled with enthusiasm, ambition and inspiration.

Ask your children what THEY want to learn about today. You’ll be surprised at what they have to share. You MAY discover that some of the very best days are the days when your children suggest something they’d like to learn more about and TOGETHER you go on a learning journey.

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“Where the Wild Things Are” Speaks to Homeschoolers

The movie has been out now for several days and the objections of parents is both loud and relentless. The professional reviewers are split on the subject but most parents seem to be troubled by the liberties filmmakers have taken.

What are the concerns? Primarily that the film is dark, sad, hopeless and frightening. A film that many thought would appeal to 3-5 year-olds instead seems created for adults.

Now I have to confess that I haven’t seen the movie but for my purposes this morning I’m not sure that’s important.

The problem, it seems, is that those who adapted Sendak’s book for film were forced to expand a simple ten-sentence story into an hour and forty-five minutes of entertainment. And in doing so they tackled it from an adult point of view. In the process the story became something that was no longer appropriate for the young audience that loved the book.

We do that too sometimes, don’t we? We take a relatively simple subject that children can grasp, accept and move on with and we teach it through adult eyes complete with far-too-much information and far-too-many emotional insights.

Let me give you an example. When we’re teaching history, for instance, it’s enough for a 5-year-old to know that the world had a huge disagreement in the early 1940’s over how the nations of the world should relate to one another. It was a difficult five years that required great sacrifice on the part of many to resolve. The end.

Instead, we often rush headlong into dumping all that we’ve learned as adults into our teaching. Soon we’re talking about concentration camps and Hiroshima, the USS Arizona and the bombing of London. Children end up frightened, confused and troubled by things that need not concern them- yet.

There WILL come a time when our children need to grapple with the tough moral issues of slavery, abortion, genocide and atomic bombs. But that time isn’t when they’re 5 or 6 years old. For now, less is more and simpler is better.

In 1 Cor 13:11 Paul says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought  like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put child ish ways behind me.”

As teachers and as parents we need to remember this simple truth- children do not think like adults and we must teach them on their own level. That includes knowing not only what to teach, but what NOT to teach!

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The Balloon Boy Speaks to Homeschoolers

Whether you saw it on live TV or on the news after the fact, few of us are unaware of the story of the runaway mylar balloon that supposedly was carrying a 6-year-old boy last week.

It turns out that authorities are likely to file charges against the family because the entire event was contrived to gather publicity for a possible upcoming reality television show.

How often do we do something in hopes of being noticed. Or perhaps how often do we not actually DO something- but simply WANT to be noticed. We want publicity for the sacrifices we’re making homeschooling.

Here’s the vital truth we ALL need to remember: God sees.

We perform for an audience of One. Even if our family and friends don’t appreciate what’s going on, God does. Even if our HUSBAND doesn’t appreciate the sacrifice we’re making sometimes, the Lord sees!

Talk with your children today about the eternal truth that we don’t need to make a big deal to seek attention. The Lord knows what’s going on.

Take a look at Matthew 6:16-18 When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Did you follow that? NO publicity agents for doing what we’ve been asked to do. We don’t need a public relations campaign and we don’t need to pull any media stunts to get the attention we crave. Do what the Lord has shown you to do in the knowledge that HE will see your obedience.

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Noah Webster Speaks to Homeschoolers

If he were still alive, Noah Webster would be celebrating his 251st birthday today. Born October 16, 1758, Webster helped shape and define American education- perhaps more than any other single figure.

One of Webster’s greatest contribution was his speller. The speller was originally titled The First Part of the Grammatical Institute of the English Language. Over the course of 385 editions in his lifetime, the title was changed in 1786 to The American Spelling Book, and again in 1829 to The Elementary Spelling Book. Most people called it the “Blue-Backed Speller” because of its blue cover, and for the next one hundred years, Webster’s book taught children how to read, spell, and pronounce words. It was the most popular American book of its time; by 1861, it was selling a million copies per year, and its royalty of less than one cent per copy was enough to sustain Webster in his other endeavors. Some consider it to be the first dictionary created in the United States, and it helped create the popular contests known as spelling bees.

Foundational to all that Webster believed was his Christian faith. His speller was grounded in Scripture, and his first lesson began “Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink ; nor for your body, what ye shall put on ; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.”

In the preface to the 1828 edition of Webster’s American American Dictionary of the English Language Noah Webster wrote, “In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed… . No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”

Talk with your children today about the faith of the man who helped shape a nation’s educational system and our language. And remind them that their faith is foundational to all else they will ever learn.

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