Moving Beyond Free Coffee

by Joy Press, Assistant Principal

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In my home there is a stark difference between the way my husband follows football and the way that I do. Mr. Press loves the Clemson Tigers. Even when they disappoint him by playing poorly, he remains a Tiger’s fan. Recently, he has been sharing with anyone who listens the good news that the Tigers are ranked first! I, on the other hand, do not share this enthusiasm for college football.

 I have, however, become a tiny bit of a Patriot’s fan.  I like to know when they are playing and what the final score is. I rejoice when they win…because I receive a free coffee at Dunkin Donuts.  I do not love the Patriots; I do not watch their games; I do not know their stats or the names of the players on the team. I am a “fan” only because of what they can give to me—a free coffee once a week.

 

 During the holiday season we are all reminded to be thankful for what we have been given. We offer much deserved thanks to God for giving us families, homes, health and all the MANY blessings that He has bestowed upon us. This is right and good. God has indeed blessed all of us with gifts that are too numerable to count.  He deserves our thanks. 

 

 However, our praise for God and our thanks must go beyond this. It is easy to become God’s “fan” for the “free coffee.”  When we do, it becomes difficult, if not impossible,  to thank God and praise Him when the blessings seem to be missing.

 

 Bible verses, hymns and worship songs remind us that though the trials come, still we can praise God.  Have you ever found it difficult to repeat words of praise in these songs? Are you able to praise God not only when He gives, but also when He takes away? How can you praise God when your prayers seem unanswered and the desires of your heart go unfilled?

 

The solution lies in the answer to yet another question, “Is God still good?”  In fact, we are asking, “Is God still God?” Is He the same God when you feel loved and blessed as when your heart is broken? The answer is a resounding, “YES!” God is unchanging; His nature and character are steadfast. His love for us and His faithfulness to us have never wavered or faltered, no matter how far from Him we may have wandered.

 

 We are called to praise God because of who He is and what He has done. This does not depend upon our circumstances or the blessings we can see or feel.  It is admittedly not easy to praise Him in our trials, but our trials make Him no less deserving of our praise. In fact, if we will allow Him, He will meet us with comfort and hope while bringing light into our darkest moments. Only God can bring beauty from our ashes, and that is a very good reason to offer praise!

 

Let us continue to thank God for all that He has done. Counting our blessings is good, but getting to know the God who gives the blessings is better!  May we seek to move our eyes off our circumstances (good or bad) and fix them firmly onto Christ Himself. The deeper our relationship with Him, the more we love Him, the more we trust Him, and the more readily we praise Him. Let us not be merely “thanks-focused” this Thanksgiving, but let us be “God-focused” people this holiday season and all year long.

 

 Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

 

That We May Declare His Praises

by Joy Press, Assistant Principal

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“How many of you know God’s purpose for you?” I remember my teacher, Mr. Kirch, asking this question in our high school class. Only a few brave students raised their hands.  After all, how could we as seniors in high school be sure that we knew God’s purpose for us?  Mr. Kirch continued the lesson by assuring us that we should, indeed, already know without a doubt God’ purpose for us, even at a young age. Some of those brave hands went back down.  He was right!  We could already have an answer, and you can too!

 

The Bible makes it clear that we are to glorify God. In Isaiah 43 God says that He created us for His glory. In 1 Corinthians we are told that whatever we do, it should all be done for the glory of God. This instruction is echoed in several other places such as in 1 Peter 4. You can surmise that regardless of our occupation, our talents, our skills, interests or pursuits we share one common purpose — to glorify God.

 

The answer to the question “HOW do we glorify God?” is a bit longer. We glorify God by acknowledging who He is and praising and worshiping Him.  We glorify God by living in relationship with Him and by serving Him faithfully. It should be noted that we cannot do any of this apart from God. On our own we are fallen, sinful creatures. It is only when we are saved by Christ that we enter into  right relationship with God and can bring Him glory.

 

This truth is echoed in this year’s theme verse, 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light” (NIV).  We are not “True Royalty”  for our sake or for our benefit. God has made us “True Royalty”  so that we can declare His praises and bring Him glory.

 

When I think of a royal declaration or proclamation, I think of the town criers and heralds featured in Disney films. These characters typically announce the arrival of the king while touting his greatness. Or, perhaps they bring forth news of the king’s decrees.  We have a similar role to play. We are to declare, announce, and set forth the praises of God. To praise someone is to express approval, to applaud, and to recount the good things s/he has done. To praise God is to call attention to His glory.  This is our purpose and our job, and it is not only a duty but a delight.

 

First, we can praise God privately—this is right and good. We come to God with thanksgiving, declaring the praises of who He is and what He has done. However, the nature of praise implies public expression. To declare His praises we share His nature and His deeds with others. Like the town crier, we announce His goodness to the world, for God is truly worthy of our praise.

 

Do not be a town “cry-er” who simply bemoans the state of affairs. Rather, be the King’s town crier who glorifies God by declaring His praises each and every day!



The Perfect Teacher

I absolutely love how God is the perfect example of an excellent teacher.  I have always found the source of my greatest inspiration as an educator from the instructional methods that God uses on me. I recently experienced the results of one of God’s lessons that I wanted to share with you...in case you also needed a little encouragement in your faith.

 

 First, God makes all of His lessons perfectly “learner-centric!”  He always knows exactly what I need to learn next, and He goes to amazing lengths to teach me at just the right pace.  He does this for all His students! 

 

 I had recently been struggling to believe God is bigger than my circumstances.  I knew in my head that He is bigger, but my heart and spirit felt weary, and my faith felt too small to believe what my head knew.  I desperately had a need to learn—beyond mere head knowledge—more deeply about God’s nature.

 God knew exactly the right amount of “tension-to-learn”...or the need to learn...that was necessary to get me fully engaged and to maximize my ability to learn this lesson.  He always knows exactly how long to wait before He’s really got our attention...before we can truly be impacted by His instruction. 

 He uses just the right resources and materials to best accomplish His instructional goals.  In my case, He used several tools, because I’m not an easy student to teach!  He used a weekly Bible study that I attend, my pastor’s sermons, conversations with colleagues, daily devotions, and my prayer times.  I wasn’t aware of all these tools being related until after I learned what He was teaching me.  They just didn’t seem related until the lightbulb went on!

 I had been acting as though God is only as large as I think He is.  I had been unwittingly thinking that God is only as big as I believe Him to be.  When I was thinking in this way, I was placing tremendous responsibility on myself to make sure my faith was large enough to keep God as large as I needed Him to be.  I can tell you, that was a sure formula to make God as small as possible in my heart and spirit. 

 

God so mercifully met me right where I was at as a learner and whispered into my ear one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned.  “Tonya, you don’t need to worry about how large you think I am.  I AM always as large as I am regardless of what you think.  You can relax and let me take care of you!” 

 

Oh, what a Perfect Teacher we have in our God!  I pray you’re encouraged by God’s perfect teaching abilities.  I encourage you, as my classmates in God’s “classroom,” to share with someone what He is teaching you. As the Perfect Teacher, God knows that we learn best when we teach others what we’ve learned...His Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) to us is proof!

-Submitted by Tonya Snyder, Prinicpal

 

Now We are God's People

by Joy Press, CCS Assistant Principal 

This week, as I consider our theme, True Royalty, one particular portion of verse 10 stands out to me: “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people.” (1 Peter 2:10a, ESV.)   Once you were not a people, not a group, not a community. Once you were on your own to tackle this journey called life.

 If you  have entered into relationship with God through faith in Christ, things have changed! Now, you are God’s people. You are not alone—not on your own. You are adopted into God’s family, and you are a part of His community. You are a part of the Church—a community of Christians across the globe—with brothers and sisters in the family of God whom you may never meet on this side of heaven.  We share a responsibility to pray for and support the global church as God directs us.

 Hopefully, you are also a part of the local church—a smaller community of believers—meeting together to declare the praises of our Lord. This community can offer support, encouragement, and teaching as well as a place to offer your gifts in service.

 You are also a part of God’s community right here at CCS.  Parents and students often describe Cornerstone as having a family-like community. I know that I am personally blessed by the wonderful people in this community, and I hope that you are too.

 Once you were not a people, now you are God’s people. I am continuously astounded by this truth.  God has not promised an easy journey on our Christian walk of life. I know my journey has not been easy, and I am guessing you could say the same.  However, I am blessed beyond measure by this “people” group to which I belong.  I cannot imagine tackling life without the support of those who love me with the unconditional love that comes from God. I value the encouragement, prayers and even correction that they bring into my life. I seek to return the blessing by investing myself into the lives of others.

 An added blessing of the community at a Christian school is that you, as a parent, can rest assured that there are adults who are loving your child in the name of Christ. We seek to truly partner with you as we work together to raise up young men and women who follow Christ in this world.

 Living in community is also messy, and a school community is no different. We are each imperfect sinners, prone to hurt and disappoint each other. What an amazing opportunity to experience God’s forgiveness anew as we forgive each other. What an opportunity to understand God’s grace for us as we extend grace to one another.  As we walk together we can carry each other’s burdens, making each of our loads a little lighter.  What a blessing to be in this beautiful mess called community with you!

 Once we were on our own, but now we are God’s people. Praise Him who called us out of darkness and into his wonderful light!


Annual Harvest Celebration Banquet Address by Mrs. Tonya Snyder

On Saturday, October 10th, we held our annual Harvest Celebration Banquet. During the evening many parents and students stood to share testimonies to the way God has used Cornerstone to touch their lives.  Mrs. Snyder closed the evening by briefly sharing about the past year and the year ahead. Below is the transcript of her speech from the evening.

According to the www.thepeoplehistory.com, 1981 was the first year that the word “Internet” was ever mentioned.  1981 was also the year of the First Flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia.  Ronald Regan became the United States President as Jimmy Carter completed his term, and Muhammed Ali retired from boxing after winning 55 matches and losing only 5 in his entire career.  The AIDS virus was discovered in 1981, and my favorite invention…Post-It Notes…was brought to stores internationally by the company 3M.  Present-day pop stars, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, were born in 1981.  And…in September 1981, God opened the doors of the Cornerstone Christian School for its very first school year.

God has been incredibly faithful to His vision for Cornerstone as we enter this, our 35th year, serving the Greater Hartford Area through the provision of a solid Christian education. 

God’s vision for us is that we would “capture and equip the hearts, minds and energies of young people for the sake of knowing Christ, and unleash them to engage the world in which they live, that they would make an impact in it according to God’s principles and power.”  Cornerstone’s faculty and staff, administration, school board, and host church,

The Manchester Church of the Nazarene, are deeply committed to God’s vision for our school.  And we continue to be encouraged and strengthened by our partnership with people like you who faithfully support—through prayer, time, and finances—the work that God is doing through Cornerstone.

 

If you attended last year’s annual banquet, you will remember that this gym looked quite a bit different than it looks tonight.  In fact, you may remember that I shared our school’s budgetary challenge at that time, which isn’t all that unusual for schools like ours that are 100% privately funded.  At this same time last year, I had been avidly working with our finance team developing financial contingency plans for a lowered budget than originally forecasted—a trimmed budget on top of a very lean budget to begin with.  However, at that same time, the school board felt impressed upon by God to commit to a long-term initiative that would begin to address some much-needed renovations to this very room in order to make it a safer place for our Pre-K through Grade 12 students.

In faith, we launched an initiative at this event just one year ago—a campaign to begin raising funds for a gym renovation project.  In less than one year from this same night last year, we not only met our budget, ending the year in the black, but we were also able to raise an additional $50,000 needed to fully complete the renovation project beyond even our original vision.

I am convinced that God absolutely loves to show His provision when we most recognize our need and cannot figure out our own plan to make it happen.  We truly serve a great God!

God provided for the school last year through the generous gifts of time and talent by…

  • enabling us to completely meet our annually budgeted $70,000 of fundraising needs to meet our general budget.
  • He enabled us to completely renovate our gymnasium.
  • We were able to establish two new graduate recognitions.
    •  Our Legacy Graduates are those graduating seniors who are the children of CCS alumni.  Jodi Hoover’s daughter, Avery, received our first Legacy pin at this past year’s commencement ceremony (after having graduated in 2014).  This June, we will award our second Legacy pin to another of Jodi’s children as Kyle also graduates.
    • Our Alpha & Omega graduates are those students who attended Cornerstone during all of their compulsory education years (Grades 1 through 12).  We were able to officially recognize our Alpha & Omega graduates all the way back to the Class of 1993.
  • We established this past June the CCS Scholarship Endowment Fund, which is funded by alumni and friends of Cornerstone and will be used to provide tuition aid for future CCS students.
  • We established the CCS Chapter of the National Honor Society and are planning for our first induction of qualifying juniors and seniors that will take place later this month on October 23rd.
  • We received dual accreditation this past spring that includes our continued membership with the Association of Christian Schools International and now includes accreditation through the Middle States Association: Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools. 

 

This weekend, the CCS Harvest Celebration Weekend, leads into the launch of our annual Brochure Campaign, which is our most substantial fundraiser each year.  It is our hope that each family at Cornerstone will use our brochures to invite 15 friends, families, and businesses to support the school’s initiatives for the 2015-2016 school year.  Those initiatives are as follows:

  • The school board met a goal from their Continuous School Improvement Plan by funding substantial salary increases and enrollment-based bonuses for our teachers and administration this year.
  • We expanded the use of our Foundations & Frameworks reading program to include Kindergarten through Grade 2, making it a K-8 program.
  • In response to research, we also adopted a new phonics program to accompany our Foundations & Frameworks instruction in our lower elementary program.
  • The school board is in the process of establishing a 7-Year Strategic Planning process that will be used to help us continually remain centered on our school’s mission and vision.
  • Our initial fundraising efforts this year, as always, will first go towards meeting our $70,000 annually budgeted fundraising needs in order to end the year in the black.  Due to having graduated 19 students this past June, I am once again working alongside the school board finance team to reduce our current budget in order to accommodate our lower-than-projected enrollment this year.  We are confident, however, that God will provide!
  • In the event that God enables us to meet our projected budget and once again provides over and above, we hope to begin saving towards some cafeteria renovations.  We are looking to replace two cafeteria tables in the elementary building and to add a new floor to the cafeteria in this building.  We also hope to add a fresh coat of paint and some other aesthetic facelifts to the cafeteria, which is an important community-building area used by our high school students.

It is our tradition each year to invite you at our annual banquet to consider partnering with us in the year ahead by holding us up in prayer, spreading the word to others about CCS, and giving financially. 

This year, we’re inviting you to take the “Coffee Less for CCS” Challenge.  This is just a creative way to help you prayerfully consider how you might be able to support God’s provision of Christian education through the Cornerstone Christian School.  You are invited to contribute tonight towards the cost of this evening’s dinner and towards this year’s initiatives.  We will provide you with pledge cards that you can complete and leave in the baskets provided.

You are important to us!  We know that we cannot fulfill God’s vision without you.  Thank you so much for your partnership in providing Christian education to the Greater Hartford Area.  We enthusiastically, filled with hope and expectation, look forward to the next 35 years of fulfilling God’s vision for our children and their children.  It’s hard to imagine what it will be like in the year 2050 (35 years from now), but I suspect that there will be an unprecedented need at that time for God’s provision of Christian education.  May God continue to provide, sustain, and equip us and our children after us for this important work!

Thank you for coming tonight!

 

 

 

 

 

 

True Royalty...More Than a Fairy Tale

by Joy Press, Assistant Principal

Have you ever noticed the common theme running throughout many of our fairy tales, classic novels and even our movies? There is a young girl who dreams of being a princess. As she lives in the drudgery of normalcy she is discovered and chosen by the dashing prince and taken away to live happily ever after.  Or perhaps the young prince or princess has been removed from the royal family and grows up unaware of his or her royal lineage. The story builds, and emotions swell as the heir to the throne learns the truth!

 These stories are not only common to the big screen and the picture books, but they are common to our hearts. This theme reveals an underlying thread common to all mankind. We relate so strongly with these stories because of our universal desire to be chosen, to be special, to be royal. This longing is not created by the stories; rather, it is simply reflected in the stories.

 This is our story — the story written onto our hearts by our King, our Creator. We may feel common, lost and lonely; but God has a secret to reveal to us! We are the young heirs, unaware of our royal lineage. We have been sought, chosen, and pursued by the prince — Jesus, our Savior. Jesus went beyond searching for us or fighting for us; He died for us.  His sacrifice has reunited us with our royal family.  Cue the emotional music swell!

 The truth of salvation is not a story, it is not a fairy tale—it is true. It is my prayer that each and every one of you would know and experience God’s love! A love that chooses you, pursues you, fights for you. A love that has forgiven you. A love that says you are a member of this royal family! You don’t need to wonder if the glass slipper fits—it does! You need only believe and accept His love.

 

Holding Onto Hope

From the Principal's Desk, published in the Lion's Roar on January 7, 2015

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”  Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)

 

Hope is such an interesting concept. The amazing qualities of hope are even recognized and celebrated by non-believers. A quick “Google” reveals article upon article focusing on the amazing power of hope in people’s lives.  It shouldn’t surprise us that hope can also be so easily misunderstood; the enemy of hope is determined to make it seem like a lie.

 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13 (NIV) 

 

God is the Author of hope, and He wants to fill each of us with hope by His Spirit. When Googling for the above articles, you’ll also notice how the world doesn’t seem to notice the source of hope. Hope is actually a gift given to us by God. The purpose of hope is to strengthen our faith in a faithful God.  Its purpose is not to strengthen us to be able to stand on our own two feet. Rather, hope is designed to cause us to hold more confidently to the One who is faithful.

 

Additionally, hope is not just a feel-good thought that simply places mind over matter, like many skeptics would have us believe.  It’s real and available to all. Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (NIV). Lasting and living hope comes only through Jesus.


Sometimes it’s hard to understand what we’re supposed to “hope in,” especially when we’re stuck in the mode of trying to see ahead into the future… when we’re trying to figure out what God is surely trying to do through the difficult circumstances we often face. In reality, not knowing ahead of time exactly how God will work it all out is part of the gift of hope! That’s actually how God strengthens our faith in Him!


Our hope is not in the expected answers for which we pray. Instead, our hope is in the God to whom we pray. Our hope is in His perfect character...His perfect running record...His perfect promises.  Our hope is in the One who is perfectly faithful.


Can you imagine how unlikely you would be to hold on tight to something you were not convinced was worth holding onto? It’s unthinkable. God’s willingness to allow us to face struggles in order to build our faith in His faithfulness enables us to cling fast and unswervingly to the hope we profess.


May we encourage one another this year to hold unswervingly to the hope we profess. We serve a mighty and faithful God. He is doing a good work in our midst! Hold onto hope!

 

The Prince of Peace

From the Principal's Desk, published in the Lion's Roar on December 17, 2014

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah 9:6

 One of the names given to Jesus by the prophet Isaiah 700 years before Jesus’ birth is Prince of Peace.  What an amazing name to be given, and what a great promise was made to us by God through such an amazing name!  This message of peace, which is brought to us only through Jesus, is one of great simplicity and complexity all at the same time.  

 

 The peace that Jesus brings is complex.  It’s deeper than what we can see with our eyes.  It’s wider than the circumstances that face us.  It’s more enduring than our minds can fathom. It cost Jesus His life.

 At the same time, however, the peace that Jesus brings is extremely simple.  It’s so simple that much of mankind overlooks it or dismisses it.  It is made available to every single person who has ever lived.  This peace is offered as a gift…a completely free gift.  There is nothing at all that we can do to earn this gift.  All we must do is simply accept this complex gift.

 

 This gift, however, can only be given to each of us directly by the Prince of Peace Himself.  We aren’t able to give it to anyone on His behalf.  That can be so hard to understand at times, but it actually makes great sense when you think about it. 

 

 Have you ever watched someone struggle because s/he did not have this gift of peace?  It’s so difficult to watch.  It hurts to the core.  But the sting only lingers when we fail to remember that the same peace is available to us even when we must watch the struggles of those we love.  This peace is greater than every single circumstance or situation that we will ever face…without exception.

 

 How can we share this peace with those we love, especially when they feel anything but peace?  Oh, how important it is for us to run straight for the One who offers everlasting peace…the Prince of Peace!  Maybe then they might follow us to Him!  By our own actions, we can simply remind them of the complicated gift that He gave to each of us when He chose to come to Earth as a tiny baby…trusting His Father to see Him through the path He had been assigned.  We can show the peace of Christ through our own trust and patience as we, too, travel the paths assigned to us. 

 Help us, Lord, to draw close to you during these turbulent times.  Help us point the way to peace…true peace…the Prince of Peace.  Thank you for being for us the greatest gift ever given to mankind.  We pray that our loved ones will accept your amazing gift of Peace this Christmas season!

 

People of Integrity

A Note From the Principal's Desk
Published in the Lion's Roar (v.1.14) on December 3, 2014

There is a poster hanging in the halls of our school that reminds passersby that a man or woman of integrity is found when one's actions are independent of who is or is not watching or listening.  We are people of integrity when we speak and act consistently with who we are on the inside.  When our actions and words no longer are in sync, we must question our level of integrity.  Without a doubt, it's not easy to live a life of true integrity.  The world shouts out lies that integrity is something sort of gray...and shifting...or far too idealistic to be reached. What a terrible lie.

 

 As educators, which includes parents, it's so easy to look at what our children need to learn and to forget how important it is for us to look carefully at ourselves, too.  In fact, a close look at ourselves is essential for the healthy formation of our children—our students.  Children watch and learn from key adults in their lives.  How seriously do we consider our own levels of integrity?  Do we hold our children to higher standards than those to which we hold ourselves?  Or, do we lower our standards for our children because we just can't get ourselves to even buy into Jesus' high standards for us? What does Jesus think about the topic of integrity?

 

 Does Jesus make excuses for us because He knows we're sinners?  Does He simply overlook our inconsistencies and hope for the best?  What does He think about us when we say one thing but do the opposite?  How does He respond to us when we tell our children to be truthful, but we then tell an "untruth" (just a little one, maybe) in order to get what we think we need...because "the system" requires the little lie?  How do we reconcile a desire to live lives of integrity with our human failings and imperfect circumstances? 

 

 Jesus had much to say about the Pharisees of His day.  He called them hypocrites over and over again due to their lack of integrity...their inconsistencies...particularly in light of their roles as leaders.  Jesus didn't overlook their lack of integrity.  If anything, He actually held them to a higher level of accountability as leaders.  Teachers, administrators, and parents are leaders of our youth.  We should not expect Jesus' standards for us to be anything less than those He had for the Pharisees.

 

 A close and honest look at ourselves will quickly lead us to the realization that it is not possible to be people of deep integrity through any power of our own.  We truly need a Savior; we need His strength, wisdom, courage, and perseverance to be the people of God that we were designed to be.  Our children need us to rely on Jesus for the ability to be people of integrity.  Our reliance will serve as a reminder for our children when they also are faced with difficult decisions.    

 

Thanksgiving

From the Principal's Desk, published in the Lion's Roar (v.1.13) on November 26, 2014

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”  Psalm 28:7 (NIV)

 

 Don’t you just love when your child expresses unsolicited thanks to you? Doesn’t it just warm your heart to its core? That’s just a small comparison to how God must feel when we offer thanks to Him.  Our hearts ought to leap for joy like David’s when we bring our thanks to God!

 

 There can be so many things that hinder us from allowing our hearts to leap for joy.  However, a heart that leaps for joy with praise for God is a heart that is healthy and truly happy.  This type of joy is unrelated to our circumstances and focuses on the merit of a worthy God. 

 

 Have you ever believed that you’re somehow wrong to express joy when there is also hurt or sadness in your life…that somehow you’re not mourning adequately if you express joy during those difficult times?  It’s a lie to believe that.  Choosing to express joy, particularly in the midst of trials, is one of the greatest remedies to life’s challenges.  That’s why God tells us to rejoice always and in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

 

Have you ever believed that it’s “cheap” to express joy for things that are of this world which you know could be removed by God tomorrow?  It’s a lie to believe that it’s somehow cheap joy.  Expressing thanks to God even for this world’s beautiful treasures in the midst of imperfection is so right to do.  “Every good and perfect gift is from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 (NIV) 

 

 Pastor Garry Light challenged several of us this month with the following question.  What if you woke up one morning and only had the blessings in your life for which you thanked God the previous day?  That’s not how God works, obviously, but what a great question!  We have SO MUCH for which to be thankful!  Some of those blessings are eternal, some will be ours only for a season, and some of them are just for today.  Nonetheless, they are blessings for which we ought to express joyful thanksgiving. 

 

 May you and your family take time to thank God for the MANY ways in which He has blessed you personally and as a family.  Happy Thanksgiving as you bless God with your joyful expressions of thanksgiving to Him!

 

Doing All Things as Unto the Lord

Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ”  (ESV). What an all-encompassing passage!  It is rich with applications for each of us as parents, teachers, students, and administrators.

 

“Whatever you do…”  Every task or assignment that is ever set before us is to be approached in a particular way.  It doesn’t matter how exciting or mundane the task is; if it’s a task we are to complete, there is a particular way in which we are to complete it.

 

“...work heartily…”  Some synonyms for “heartily” are cordially, sincerely, genuinely, exuberantly, without restraint, thoroughly, completely (Dictionary.com).  To work heartily implies more than mere completion; it implies a positive mindset that puts forth intentional effort. 

 

“...as for the Lord and not for men…”  When we approach the tasks assigned to us, we are instructed to think of the assignment as coming directly from Jesus...not really from the people he uses in our lives.  In other words, when I grumble about a task given to me, I’m really complaining to Jesus.  When I do a sloppy job on something, I’m really giving Him less than my best. 

 

...knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”  God wants us to think bigger than what our eyes can see.  Our hope is not in this world.  Our hope is in the promises of the Lord; we know that He will be faithful, and we know that His ways are always best for us.  We just have to remember (and remind each other) to keep our eyes on His faithfulness.

 

“You are serving the Lord Christ.” When we serve—when we complete assignments and tasks given to us by parents, teachers, bosses, or anyone else—we are really serving Jesus. 

 

I want to serve like that.  I want to consider every single task put before me as an opportunity to bring God glory and pleasure.  I want to focus my thoughts and reactions on our amazing God—not on the frustrations and challenges that can sometimes get us off track.  When we remind our children and students to live out this passage, I want them to see through my life and through your life what that looks like.  May God enable us each to live to His amazing glory!

 

What is True Love?

From the Principals' Desk, published in the Lion's Roar on October 22, 2014

 

What is love?  It’s certainly not something we can easily define—at least not in the way God defines it.  If love were a feeling, it would not make sense for Him to command us to love Him with our whole heart, mind, and soul (Deut.6:5; Matt. 22:37); how can you command a feeling?  It also wouldn't make sense that He would tell us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44); our emotions would prohibit us from being able to fulfill this commandment.  We can’t just decide to have certain emotions, but we apparently CAN decide to love

 

Love is something much greater than an emotion.  True love begins with God, because He Himself is love.  1 John 4:10 says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  True love is a decision to put another’s needs above our own.  That’s exactly what God did for us when He sent His Son Jesus.  True love is a demonstration of sacrifice for another’s greater good.  

 

It’s so easy to confuse the world’s definition of love with God’s definition.  The world emphasizes feelings, but God emphasizes self-sacrifice.  No wonder we and our children so easily slip into adopting the “feeling” version of love!  It’s not easy to love as God commands.

 

How can we tell if we’re truly loving as God designed us to love, or if we’re loving as the world loves?  It intrigues me that God held Eli the priest accountable for loving or honoring his sons more than he loved the Lord (1 Sam. 2:27-36).  It’s unlikely that Eli made a conscious decision to love his sons above God, but he did just that when He failed to correct his sons’ wrong behaviors against God.  We must realize that it’s possible to “love” others (as the world loves) more than we love God.  Beware, this ultimately brings harm, not good. 

 

It’s not that God decides to punish us when we love others and things more than we love Him.  Instead, because God is love, He also knows how true love works.  He knows that emotional love is far too self-centered and cannot bless us or others the way we each crave to be blessed.  He knows that we can only experience true love when we love the One who is love more than we love anyone or anything else. 

 

What do I think most about?  That’s what I love most...that’s what I worship.  God designed us with the ability to choose what we will worship, honor, and love.  He tells us to love Him above all else because He knows that no one and nothing else in all the world compares to Him!  If we desire to experience the greatest love of all, we must focus on loving God far above everything else. 

 

When we step out in faith and trust the God whom we love, remembering that He first loved us, we can do the impossible —we can love our enemies and love sacrificially.

 

Anthropology

From the Principal's Desk, published in the Lion's Roar on October 8, 2014

 

In Noah Webster’s 1828 publication of the Webster Dictionary, anthropology is defined as: “1. A discourse upon human nature. 2. The doctrine of the structure of  the human body; the natural history or physiology of the human species.  3. The word denotes that manner of expression by which the inspired writers attribute human parts and passions to God. “*

Not surprisingly, a contemporary definition (found on Dictionary.com) defines anthropology from a more “scientific” perspective: “1. the science that deals with the origins, physical and cultural development, biological characteristics, and social customs and beliefs of humankind. 2. the study of human beings’ similarity to and divergence from other animals. 3. the science of humans and their works. 4. ...the study of the nature and essence of humankind.”**

Several of us are working through The Truth Project as part of ACSI’s certification requirement for teachers.  Last week’s lesson addressed the question, “Who is man?”  That’s the foundational question associated with the study of anthropology. 

 

God is very clear about the answer to this critical question.  Man was created by God on the sixth day of Creation.  Man and woman were created in the image of their Creator God and were blessed with an intimate relationship with Him. 

However, man and woman...Adam and Eve...were also given free choice to choose to genuinely love and trust their Creator (or not).  Sadly, they chose to believe the lie that they could be their own god.  They chose to believe that God’s desires for them were somehow less than their own desires for themselves, and man fell into sin and out of that intimate relationship with God.

 

Although mankind now lives in a fallen state, our loving God still chooses to pursue us…to invite us back into that intimate relationship with Him.  Since we have no way to return into that relationship on our own, He sent His only Son to come and die for us so that we could enter that most blessed relationship possible.

Although a study of man quickly reveals that we are  sinful and fallen, a study of God reveals that we are not without hope through Christ.  Praise God!

 *"anthropology." Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language. 2014.http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/anthropology (3 October 2014).

 **”anthropology.” Dictionary.com. http://dictionary. reference.com/browse/anthropology?s=t (3 October 2014).

 

Waiting...

A Note From the Principal's Desk, published in the Lion's Roar (1.6) on October 1, 2014

 

Most of us—adults and children alike—really don’t like to wait.  Waiting can be so hard!  This is especially true in our fast-paced western culture.  Speed is often considered the ultimate goal in a technology-driven world.  We have grown accustomed to having things done quickly and to our particular specifications...more quickly than ever before in all of history.

 

Have you noticed, however, that God tends to downplay speed?  In fact, God has a lot to say about waiting.  He even refers to waiting as something He blesses.  Isaiah 50:13 says that “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.”  Psalm 27:13-14 says that when we wait, we will be able to take courage; we must “wait for the Lord!”  2 Peter 3:9 reminds us that it is because of God’s perfect and good nature that it may seem like an eternity before we can see His promises fulfilled.  He isn’t actually slow in fulfilling His promises; instead He is patient with us and is willing to wait for us.  His desire is that none of us should perish, “but that all should reach repentance.”  God’s ways are always worth the wait!

I remember how hard it was to wait as a child (for Christmas Day...or my birthday...or the first day of school), but the things I have to wait for as an adult are so much weightier than when I was a child.  For instance, as my own children have grown older, I am learning that I must wait more than ever…and I must be patient in that waiting.  After all, it is right and fitting that I should have less say about their choices as they grow into adulthood. However, my flesh often wants to act...to intervene and stop them from choosing the “wrong” path.  My heart desperately wants to protect them so that they can avoid heartache and separation from God and others.

 

However, God asks me to wait. To wait on Him.  To wait on Him because His ways are simply not my ways.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all our heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  I must be willing to give God room and time to work in others’ lives.  I must trust God’s faithfulness.  I must trust that He knows far better than I do what is necessary to reach each of our hearts.  And I must pray, pray, pray while I wait.  It is always worth waiting on God!  (Scripture quoted from ESV)

Level Ground

A Note From the Principal, published in The Lion's Roar, September 10, 2014.

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”  Psalm 143:10

Isn’t that what Christian education is all about?  As disciples of Jesus, we seek to learn God’s will for us; we want to follow God’s will as confidently and obediently as Jesus did...and does.  Additionally, we want our children to do the same!  We want so much to see our children be led by the Holy Spirit on level ground.

Unfortunately, our greatest desires for our children aren’t always eagerly embraced or understood by them.  It’s so easy to forget that they are a lot like us.  Even “seasoned” Christians struggle to confidently and obediently embrace God’s will, particularly when we don’t understand it...when  it just doesn’t seem to make sense. 

There is no greater lesson to be learned than to learn to do God’s will.  The will of the Creator of the universe is certainly one that we can trust far above our own wills.  After all, God was able to create all that there is from nothing...just by His spoken word!

 

At Cornerstone, you are partnering with your children’s teachers and administrators who not only personally seek to be taught to do God’s will, but who have also accepted the high calling of being a Christian school educator in order to openly point their students to the Creator.  It is part of Cornerstone’s mission to “lead students to faith in Christ...encouraging students to walk in God’s truth…”  Cornerstone partners with you in your desire to see your children know Jesus in a way that enables His “good Spirit” to lead them on “level ground.” 

Young people are watching the adults around them very carefully.  We need to share with our children/students when we personally struggle to understand God’s will so that they will know that is part of the walk of a human disciple.  At the same time, it is my earnest prayer that we will each bravely choose to trust and obey before our children’s viewing so that they will be encouraged to do the same when we are not looking. 

May this school year be a year in which each of us (principals, teachers, parents, and students) is led by God’s “good Spirit” to “level ground.”

The Power of Words

A Note from the Principal, published in The Lion's Roar  September 3, 2014. 

 

I had the blessing of being this year’s first chapel speaker for both our secondary chapel and our elementary chapel.  I shared with them about the incredible power of words—written, spoken, and read (those are the language arts!).

Yesterday during M&M’s (that’s what we call our “Monday Morning Meetings” for the secondary students, which is held the first day of each school week ) we took a quick look at the context in which our school-wide theme is written.  God tells us in Hebrews 1:3 that God’s word is powerful enough to create and sustain all of Creation.  This truth is reinforced by John 1:1, which tells us that the Word was in the beginning, and the Word was with God,  and the Word was God.  Jesus is the Word!

 

God, in His infinite wisdom, designed mankind to be made in His image.  Part of that image is the ability to communicate like no other creature in God’s Creation.

 

Power, however, when placed in the hands of humans, can easily be misused.  I’m certain that each of us can recall examples in our own lives of how words have been used to destroy or discourage us and others.  Sometimes such destruction is deliberate, and sometimes words are simply received the wrong way. 

However, God’s Word is always perfect...always reliable...always truthful.  Isn't it amazing to think that God would be willing to risk such a tremendous gift as “words” on a people who simply will not wield their power as perfectly as Him?  It shouldn't surprise us that we are often reluctant to share too openly in the public about our faith; the enemy is fine with us speaking anything...just not the Word of God, which can set us and others free! 

For this reason, God has lovingly given to us His perfect Word to guide us in our thinking and in our speaking. 

I encouraged the elementary children to go home today and begin talking about ways that they can join their families in an effort to speak words of life to one another.  I invited the older students to leave sticky notes (with anonymous words of encouragement based on God’s Word) throughout the McLain building in random places for passersby.  Now we invite YOU to consider how you can join us in our pursuit to speak words of life to the people around us!