Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Sound of Angels

Praise the Lord in song, for He has done excellent things; Let this be known throughout the earth.  -  Isaiah 12:5

Our Grammar students (Preschool - 5th grade) blessed us with a great Christmas program yesterday.  Thanks to Stephanie Case for her work and love with these kids.  Everyone did such a fantastic job.  We really have some outstanding singing talent at HCA!  Isn't Christmas a wonderul time of year?  Even moreso when it is presented through the eyes of children.  Here is a little taste of their presentation of praise to the Savior.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 18, 2011

What it is really all about

For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.   -  2 Cor. 2:15

Following last night's fall athletic banquet, I was thinking about the role of athletics at a Classical Christian school.  To a large percentage of people, athletic experiences were (are) the pinnacle of their school career.  While we all know the right words to say when asked to rank the important parts of getting an education (academic preparation for college, social training for the "real" world, organization, obedience, spiritual development for Christian school kids, etc.), many of us would have to admit that sports are what really gets us excited.  I have found myself living vicariously through my own kids on several occasions, dreaming of the professional sports career that I never achieved, or thinking of the thousands of dollars they will save me with their impending college scholarship.  No doubt that we live in a world where sports can be our god, a delicate balance that many Christians struggle with.

But, when listening to the HCA coaches talking about their teams and seasons, I was reminded that school sports can be used for the greater purpose of the gospel when approached properly.  Everyone would agree that HCA is in a position to positively influence the community around us, but we rarely pinpoint athletics as being the way to do this, even though it is by far the most frequent way by which we encounter those from other places.  In other words, a Christian school athlete can be a missionary who takes about ten short-term missionary trips per season to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ to strangers who are watching him intently.  The reputation of HCA, Christian education, and Christian people in general is reinforced each time these athletes get on a bus to travel to another school. 

A couple weeks ago, our varsity soccer team played at Trinity Christian School in Durham in the 1-A state playoffs.  The game was very tight and competitive the entire time, and eventually went into overtime.  There was a point where our guys scored in the overtime, only to have the goal erased by a controversial offsides call.  We eventually lost a heart-breaker, and the season was suddenly over.  If there was ever a time to sulk, fuss, and complain, this was it.  However, our "missionaries" did just the opposite.  The next day, I received the following letter from a parent from the opposing team, describing the moment from the eyes of someone who doesn't even know any of our names.  I wanted to share this letter with you as a testimony for our team, but even more as a rallying cry for HCA to continue to promote Christ-likeness above all else.  May EVERYTHING we do bring glory to the Father.  Remember, the world is watching us.

Dear Tracy and Toby,

My son plays for Trinity's soccer team. We just played your soccer team this afternoon in the second round of the State playoffs. It was an even, hard-fought game, the type of game that you hate to see anyone lose. There was a disputed call or two, the sort of call that is really difficult if you're on the tough end of the call/game, which you were.

We didn't know much about your school or team, given that Hickory is a tad west of the Triangle and we play in different conferences. We know a lot more about your school and kids now.

 Your team played with such class and intensity. Their character and the chemistry of your team were evident from the onset. We play in some rough games, as I'm sure you do. I've surmised that the attitude on the field flows down from the top. For example: a recent match was full of trash talking and dirty play. After the game the boys told me that the other team's coach was leading the charge from their bench, both in attitude and language. It is no surprise things unfolded on the field as they did. 

So when a team plays this way it not only reflects on the players, but the coaches and ultimately the headmaster and parents. Actually it reflects Christ.

I would like to say that every Christian school plays this way, but this is not the case. So when encounters a team like this, for the first time, it makes quite a statement.

I speak for the parents around me: you are an impressive lot, both athletically as a soccer team and also, more importantly, in character. It was a tender scene watching your team huddle up together afterwards. I then watched as parents applauded their sons and strolled out on the field to console them. But honestly, by that time, both of these were exactly what I expected to see from your school. If you stop to think it, a response like this in a loss is clearly stunning. There are ample reasons to be mad, sad, and bitter, and I'm sure this loss was really hard after your championship last year, but despite the disappointment what flowed from the scene tonight seemed to be love, pride, and a sense of community. It is, I suspect, the miracle of the gospel at work through the coaches, families, school, and kids.

I hope we see you in various competitions in different sports around the state. We serve a beautiful Christ together. Thanks for helping us see some of Him at work in you all this afternoon.

Rick Hove
Trinity Parent

To whom much is given, much is required.  Thank you to everyone at HCA for keeping the standard high. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Our Greatest Need

pray without ceasing - I Thess. 5:17

What does a Christian school need to succeed?  Is it money?  More students?  Wise leadership?  Active parent volunteers?  Students with a solid Christian foundation when they arrive?  High rates of college acceptance?  Great victories on the athletic fields?  More public exposure?  Of course, all of these things would be wonderful for any school, and HCA (and Mr. Robinson) have fallen into these lines of thought on several occasions over the years.  It is so easy to do. 

And, make no mistake about it, there are great material needs at HCA.  Our teachers deserve more pay than they receive.  We need updated curriculum in many areas.  We need athletic fields of our own.  Mrs. Lambert and Mrs. Sturgess would love to own their very own kiln for the art classes.  A working kitchen would be great.  We will need more classrooms, athletic fields, and parking spaces as we grow into the future.  All of this relates to dollar signs. 

However, while more of any of these things would be great, we have to be careful that they do not become what drives us.  Jesus asks us the haunting question, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his own soul?" (Matt. 16:26).  We all intrinsically know that there are much more important and pressing things in this world, but we don't often act that way do we?  Again, I am as guilty as anyone.   

John D. Rockefeller is the richest man in the history of the world (at least in modern times).  When you take into account the value of the dollar in his day, he was about 10 times richer than Bill Gates is today.  His personal wealth was nearly 2% of the total gross domestic product of the entire United States of America!  He could have anything he wanted at any time he wanted it, but when someone once asked him "How much is enough?", he famously answered "Just a little bit more".  When "stuff" or acclaim are our goals, there really is no limit, is there?

There are certainly things of great value that we are to dwell on as we walk this path of life.  God clearly tells us that He has blessed us with with a spouse (Prov. 5:18), blessed with children (Psalm 127:3), blessed with friends (Prov. 17:17), blessed with food, clothing, and basic necessities (Matt. 5:25-34), and blessed with knowledge, which begins with a healthly fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7).  These are the things that we need to focus on, treasure in life, protect, and be thankful for. 

Parent prayer groups in front of the school
This morning, we were so blessed to be able to thank God for His lovingkindness toward each one of us.  Almost 100 parents met together as school began to lift up prayers of thanksgiving and to form a "hedge of protection" around our kids and their school.  HCA will always be a target of spiritual attack if we continue to strive to know God and to be obedient to His calling.  These attacks necessitate an effective defense.  Without it, we will lose the battle, and nothing else will matter. 

As Paul commands us in Ephesians,

"in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one...With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints" (6:16,18)

The "hedge of protection" surrounds the building
If you were here, thank you for your time sacrifice and for the specific prayers of protection for HCA.  It is our greatest need.  If you were unable to be here, please rest in the fact that your child was covered by a multitude of prayers this morning, and that we will try to have more of these types of gatherings in the future.  Until then, please be on your knees, pleading to God to continue to protect His school and our children, and for us to keep the right values and perspective as we move forward together. 

There will be a time to give to the school materially...don't worry.  But the prayers of the righteous can accomplish great things, meaning every day is the right day to pray for our kids and their teachers.  They are certainly worth the effort.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Great Blackout of '11

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  -  Romans 12:2

I entered the world of professional education in the fall of 1992, after five years in college, which had followed my K-12 education.  Looking at it from a certain perspective, I have been in school pretty much non-stop for nearly 40 years!  How things have changed from those early days. 

My first year of teaching was spent in a public high school, teaching math and science.  I had a chalkboard (not a dry erase board).  At the end of each week, my student of choice had to go outside to clap erasers, kicking up a cloud of dust that made that end of the school a light, pasty yellow color over time.  Each time I dropped my chalk, it shattered into about four pieces, so I would have to write with a little stub that was short enough that my fingernails would scrape the board and freak out all my students.  Ahhh...memories. 

Back then, we made copies on the mimeograph machine, which printed in a light lavender color, and emitted ink fumes that killed the brain cells we were relying on to pass the very test we were handing out.  Those of you who are under 35 might not know what I am talking about, but the rest of us can still smell that aroma can't we?

And, believe it or not, there was no internet, no personal computers in the classrooms, no cell phones, no texting.  We actually had to go to the library, do some manual research, and teach exclusively with books, pull-down maps, and words.  Higher technology was having an overhead projector with a turn-crank that could pull the transparency across the light, meaning I only had to clean it once per class period. 

The Apple 2e.  This is where all this insanity began!

As I type this, I am feeling like I am describing the one-room schoolhouse on Little House on the Prairie (a popular TV show for those who remember any of the things I have mentioned above).  But, in reality, I am describing a school where I taught only 19 years ago! 

The speed in which our world has transformed in under two decades is nothing short of phenominal thanks primarily to people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.  Now, we teach with laptops and projectors, or even "Smart Boards" in class.  Virtually all research is done through the internet while sitting in my living room in lounge clothes.  I can send documents anywhere at any time.  I can communicate with anyone at any time.  When I use Skype, I can even see the people on the other end.  Now, my phone can even search the internet and create documents. 

The funny thing is that for the majority of my life, most of these things were not available, but it seems as if they have been here forever.  This became evident this morning when we all arrived at school to find the phones, copiers, and internet dysfunctional.  We had some sort of power surge yesterday afternoon, which destroyed the delicate components of our internal communications systems.  All of a sudden, we could not send an email, make a call, or copy a paper. 

Around 30 minutes after the bell rang for school to begin, the administrative staff found ourselves standing in the main office, staring at one another.  This led to actual voice-to-voice conversation, and eventual laughter at the realization of how much we have become addicted to the screen.  All of a sudden, we were back in 1992.  What do we do?  Can life go on like this?  Will the food supply run out?  Seriously, we were only about a half step away from putting on miner hats and tunneling our way out of the building to safety!

As I walked the halls of the school, there was only one question..."when?"  When will my computer work again?  When will I be able to escape this desert island of non-communication?  When will this madness ever end? 

As I sit in front of the dim glow of my laptop, due to the failure of my normal office computer, I am thinking that this day has been a fresh reminder of the importance of people, relationships, and words spoken through lips (as opposed to words spoken by thumbs).  In some small and weird way, we all felt like we were in a crisis today (sad isn't it?), and needed to band together to get through it.  There was a puzzle to solve, and we were given the task of finding the answer.  And, it required human beings, standing in the same room, using our voices to do so. 

My prayer is that HCA never gets so technologically "advanced" that the people within all just become an email address or a Twitter account.  May God allow us to be the exception, even to this irresitable rule.  Obviously, I am not opposed to technology.  And, to some extent, I am hypocritically using it with you right now.  But, it would break my heart if it all came down to this type of communication...because people are important.  Not only keeping them updated on the latest news, but paying attention to their emotions, needs, prayers, and dreams, which can often get overlooked electronically. 

That's why human teachers are still important, instead of just online classes.  That's why handshakes are still important, instead of just texting.  That's why Jesus came to earth.  He could have just tweeted a message that said, "U R Savd 2 day".  Aren't you glad He did it in person?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Our favorite day of the month

Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.                    - Acts 2:46-47

Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

On the first Wednesday of each month, our parents provide lunch for the faculty to enjoy.  Coincidentally, this is also the day that we have our combined faculty meeting each month, so I suppose the food makes an hour of listening to Mr. Robinson more bearable! 

Over the years, we have had Italian, Mexican, hoagie sandwiches, soups and salads, and more.  This week, our meal was breakfast food.  Around 10:30, the smell of sausage, eggs, and bacon began to waft through the halls of the school.  Obviously, this does little to enhance the efficiency of the working environment, but it sure makes everyone happy!

The "kitchen"

On my 11th or 12th trip (I can't remember) to supervise the spread on the table in the teacher workroom, I noticed Carol Johncock in the office conference room with several bowls, loaves of bread, cartons of eggs, and a griddle.  She was making French toast for the faculty.  It was a reminder of several things:  God is good, we have some amazing servants at this school, and HCA needs a kitchen.  For those who have never seen this with your own eyes, I made sure we got a couple pictures so that you could see what it looks like to cook breakfast in a school office. 

The chef


To all the parents who participated in this lunch, or any other in the past or future, we are so grateful for your generosity and encouragment.  HCA is great because of the collection of wonderful people whom God has placed within our walls.  Just like the close-knit "family" of the early church, we consistently see commonality, sacrifice, prayer, praise, changed lives, and lots of food.  What an awesome place to work!

p.s  - And, as you know from the extensive research done on this subject, the better fed the teachers are, the higher the education level.  Really...if you don't believe me, you can test it yourself!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Don't fret...there is still hope for the future

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.  -  1 Tim. 4:12

I cannot adequately express how wonderful the kids at HCA really are.  I am referring to all of them, but on this occasion, the high schoolers.  I had the awesome privilege of accompanying our 9th - 12th grade students on their annual retreat to Lookup Lodge in Traveller's Rest, SC last weekend.  The three days were full of activity, laughter, and singing.  From the silly games to the genuine worship of our Savior, these kids really demonstrated their desire to be different from the modern teen world.  When I look back at my spiritual condition at 15-16 years old, and then see how mature these students are in the Lord at thier age, I am thrilled at the potential they have to make an eternal difference in this world.  It is an honor to work with them, talk with them, and learn from them. 

There is no doubt in my mind that we are in the toughest time to be a Christian in the history of America.  The introduction of technology at our fingertips over the past two decades has opened the door to a whole new world of pitfalls.  Teens today are not tempted in different ways than their parents were.  The flesh is the same.  However, their access to sin and their ability to act on that temptation is infinitely greater.  I am convinced that the average Christian teenager today cannot spiritually stand on his own (with a few extraordinary exceptions).  That is why Christian schools are so important.  They provide a spiritual support group and accountability. 

Of course, every student at every school has sin to deal with.  But, how many schools have 16 year-olds who are willing to look another student in the eye and encourage them to stay strong in the Lord, and to not give in to the world?  That is the type of stuff I saw last weekend, and continue to see in the halls at school each day.  Again, they are still young, and do dumb things at times, but the average kid in the high school at HCA has a spiritual maturity that I don't think I had until I was 25-30 years old.  God, thank you for building a strong foundation in these young adults.  Please enact your perfect plan in their lives, and use them for your glory!  I continue to be blessed beyond measure...

A few visual highlights:

Group Bible Study

Unity Building

Paddle Boat Races


Sydney Kaiser, Mr. Maier, and Kailey Hunter tackle the "big swing"
The hope for the future

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rescuing a lost generation

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me, he'd grown up just like me.  My boy was just like me.
                                                                           "Cat's in the cradle", by Harry Chapin

Statistically, about 80% of teenagers who are active in their church youth groups throughout middle and high school, end up leaving church completely within 3-4 years of graduation.  That is a sobering thought to every parent who thinks that adding more "churchy" stuff to our kids' lives is a solution to the world's spiritual assault.  While there is no absolute formula for raising godly kids into godly adults, it is almost certain that these weekend fixes, by themselves, do not accomplish the task as much as we would like to believe. 

We have become an activity-based culture in America, taking our kids from baseball to gymnastics to swimming to the next mega-pirate-ninja-jedi-princess-castle birthday party.  We entertain our children better than any culture in the world, and give them more to do by the time they are 18 than our grandparents did in their entire lives.  Unfortunately, church, youth group, and the like often become just one more check on our list of a "well rounded" kid.

Obviously, there is nothing inherently wrong with playing baseball, pretending to be a princess, or attending youth group.  All of these things are beneficial in themselves, when approached correctly, and I am certainly not advocating pulling our kids out of any of them.  The problem is that we often use these things as a substitute for biblical child-rearing.  What pleases God more, and what is the greater benefit...putting my son on a baseball team, or spending an hour throwing baseball with him in the front yard myself?  What about spending gobs of money on a princess party for my girls and their friends, or sitting down with my girls to be thier prince for a day myself?  The same principle is true with church, youth groups, and spiritual training.  It is our responsibility as parents to invest in our children.  Part of that could be finding a good youth program for them, but if I am not spending quality time as a dad, training up my children in righteousness, then apart from a miracle, the youth group is no different than the baseball team...just another activity that can be discarded when I get tired of it. 

So, how do we want our kids to turn out?  What are your visions and dreams for their lives?  The way we approach them every day will send our children a clear answer to this question.  The average Christian kid probably thinks that his parents want him to be a star athlete, who earns a scholarship to an elite secular college (getting free tickets for mom and dad along the way), earning his masters degree, and making millions in big business by the time he is 30, while consistently attending church on a weekly basis, and producing several grandkids down the road.  Why would he think differently based on what we push as parents, and when most of us sit down and think about it, we really do want this don't we?  But, you might reason that "sports will provide a sense of teamwork and dedication, while college will open his mind to the things of the world, and teach him independence, and the master's degree will give him more opportunity, and the millions will provide insurance, retirement, and income to keep the grandkids healthy and fed, and going to church...well, it's just the right thing to do for a young family." 

Again, each of these things might have some degree of truth, and they can be individually beneficial.  But, as Christian parents raising Christian kids, shouldn't we set Christian goals above secular ones?  Even in Christian circles, I rarely hear parents say, "My dream for my child is for him to to completely devote his life to Christ, no matter what that might look like, or where it might take him."  What if that means he ends up ministering to homeless folks every day, or sharing the gospel in the lost world, or even taking the grandchildren to Africa as a full-time missionary?  Our first inclination as parents is often to say, "how will you make an income?"  "Is this normal?"  "I mean, Christianity is great, but don't you think you have taken this a little too far?" 

When it comes down to it, we just have a hard time resisting the temptation of the American Dream for our kids, even if it costs them spiritually.  Ironically, most Christian parents would be more excited if their kids got a high-level job in a secular corporation than if they served the poor on the mission field.  Again, I am not saying that God could not call someone to either of these options, He certainly could.  But, we must be careful to allow God to make the choice, not us. 

Do you really want to give your children the best opportunities in this world?  Phillippians 4:13, says "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."  All things?  All things!  How?  Through Christ Who strengthens us.  We are way too incapable in ourselves.  Can our kids do all things through a master's degree?  Can our kids do all things with 10 million dollars?  Can our kids do all things through athletic accomplishments?  We would all agree that they cannot.  So, if we believe the Bible (and that really is the question, isn't it?) is true, then why don't we push our children toward Jesus more often, instead of all these other things?  Even deeper, in John 15:5, Jesus says, "Apart from Me, you can do nothing."  So the home runs, touchdowns, doctorates, and riches are completely meaningless without a real relationship with Christ?  Yep.  When He says "nothing", He means NOTHING.

Here's the kicker.  In Luke 6:40, Jesus tells us that "A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher."  This can refer to professional "teachers", but in reality, refers to those who spend the most time with a child (parents, family, teachers, coaches).  In an average week, my kids spend approximately this much time in various parts of their lives:

3% at church
8% at activities (sports, friends, etc.)
24% at school
30% awake at home
35% sleeping (they sleep alot on Saturdays)

Doesn't this list stand to reason (prompted by the above scripture) that home has the greatest influence on a child, followed by school?  Then, why do we seek so many other options to create successful kids?  This is why my kids attend HCA.  Gayle and I only have 30% of our kids' lives under our direct supervision.  And, when we reduce this to our true quality time, it is certainly far less than that.  Taking sleep out of the picture, this means that about 35% of their lives are spent being influenced by someone else.  If Jesus' words are true, then whomever is teaching them during this 35% will significantly mold who they will become in life.  As a Christian dad, it is my responsibility to make sure that those people are leading my kids in truth and righteousness, allowing them to be "transformed by the renewing of their minds", and not "conformed to the world". 

The key, as in any human relationship, is time.  How much time am I investing in my children?  How do I lead them to use their extra time?  What does their time away from me look like?  Is it spent in action, discussion, and thoughts about what is "true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, excellent, and worthy of praise"?  (Phil. 4:8).  Or is it spent on worthless things, like video games, television, or gossipping through texts and Facebook?  (By the way, texting and Facebook can be used for good purposes, but if you are not supervising these things with your child, you are making a grave mistake)  As parents, let's commit to monitoring our time and our kids' time.  Let's invest in them completely.  This is the only chance we get. 

HCA would like to renew our commitment to partnering with Christian parents in promoting scriptural holiness and righteousness to our kids, through adults who are devoted to the Lord in their personal lives, so that we can all be excited about the fact that our students will one day be just like their teachers.  None of us are perfect, but there is truth in the statement that "there is strength in numbers".  We are all in this together, for the same purpose.  Our kids, families, friends, and our God deserve our very best.  Nothing else matters.

It continues to be an honor to serve Him while serving you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hope in Haiti - Introducing Liberty Academy

I have the honor of spending this week in Haiti, working on the foundations of an American-style school in St. Marc.  The school has operated since 1995 (same as HCA, by the way) under Youth With A Mission (YWAM), but has always struggled to stay alive with limited funding and inconsistent staff and faculty.  Our ministry, New Vision Ministries, has chosen to take over the directorship of this school, and to try to establish real Christian education in St. Marc, a city of over 100,000, but without any quality schools. 

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of schools in St. Marc, but the Haitian government schools are pitifully run, and even moreso than in America (amazingly enough), they completely rely on standardized tests to determine success.  Since I mentioned it, let's all step back and think about this for a minute...If my kid can recite enough information to pass a test that his teacher did not create, should I really be satisfied as a parent?  Has he actually learned anything?  Or is he just a good memorizer?  There is a big difference between producing a great thinker, and a Trivial Pursuit Champion.  OK, off the soapbox and back to my day...

While I have been working in schools in Haiti for years, most of my work has been in meeting basic physical needs.  We feed children lunch, who would otherwise go hungry.  We deliver school supplies to kids who could never afford them.  We provide uniforms to poor kids who are not allowed to go to school without them.  We sponsor teachers and principals to provide leadership in schools that cannot possibly pay their employees.  And all this is wonderful and fulfilling to say the least.  However, the potential in this school will be different from the others I have worked in. 

For one thing, this school is led by American teachers, uses American curriculum, and focuses on the values of Western Christian culture, like honesty, integrity, respect, etc.  You might say, it is very arrogant to claim that the American way of education is better than the Haitian way.  Maybe, but I have spent enough time here over the years to easily support that claim 1000 fold.  Plus, real arrogance would be to have a great thing and refuse to share it with those who are in need.  We were blessed to have eight American young ladies volunteer to spend a year in Haiti to get the school off to a good start.  Five of them are going to teach, and the other three are helping with the logistics of running the school, including our own Elizabeth Johnson (HCA class of 2009).  And, of course, my good friends, Kerry and Joy Reeves are going to oversee this process as another commponent of New Vision Ministries. 

So far, we have 31 students signed up to attend Liberty Academy this school year, most of them in K-5, but about six of them in middle/high school.  Our hope is that the school will mirror HCA's mission in Equipping Children Today to become God's Leaders Tomorrow.  As desperate as the United States is to have true Christian leadership, Haiti is infinitely more desperate.  I am sitting in a country that has over 80% unemployment, and 50% literacy.  The people here are taught to grab what they can get, even if it means lying, cheating, and manipulating.  I know you may be thinking that it is that way in America these days as well, but at least we know it is wrong.  These things are so engrained in the Haitian culture that they don't think twice about it.  It is very difficult to alter a culture, but if you are going to do it, it must begin with the children.  This is our opening. 

The school will be an English-only school.  There are several reasons for this.  One, if a Haitian kid learns English, his chances of survival and success in this world muliply greatly.  Secondly, all the quality curriculum is written in English.  Third, it is so much easier to find good English-speaking Christian teachers.  I have spent this week working with these teachers, training them in scriptural world-view education, sharing with them classical methodology, and praying that God will choose to give them success.  These young ladies have come with a wonderful attitude and a sacrificall heart.  None of them will be paid for teaching this year.  It is their sacrifice to the Lord. 

This is the second international school that HCA has had a hand in creating  and supporting over the past three years, the other in Lares, Puerto Rico.  Please pray that God continues to allow us to have an impact for His kingdom in Hickory, North Carolina, and around the world.  I am honored to represent each of you as I look into the eyes of these precious children who are seemingly born without hope, and to point them in the direction of their only rescuer, Jesus Christ.  Just as He is the only reason that HCA is great, He will be the only reason that hope comes to the hopeless in Haiti, or anywhere else in the world.  Please join me in praying for Liberty Academy this year.  To whom much is given, much is required.  HCA has been given so much.  It is awesome to be able to share our gifts in such tangible ways. 

See you next week, and tell your kids to behave while I am gone!  Thanks again, Gayle, for holding down the Robinson fort while I have been gone.  You are wonderful and amazing. 

Liberty Academy Faculty and Staff, including Liz Johnson from HCA (far left)

Liberty Academy, St. Marc, Haiti

View from the other side

First and Second Grade Classroom

Pillow Case dress made by my mom for
Gigi Ville, one of our sponsored kids.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Liam Taylor joins the HCA family

Congratulations to Matt and Katie Taylor on the birth of their first child.  Liam Taylor was born Sunday night, Sept. 4.  He was 8 lbs. 4 oz. and 21 inches.  He has a cute little round head full of black hair.  Mom and dad are doing great, and we are so excited to have a new kindergartener on the waiting list for the 2016-2017 school year.  Mrs. Taylor will be home with Liam during the first semester this year, and will return to her 6th grade classroom in January.  In the meantime, we are so blessed to have Connie Hall teaching the class.  New babies, covered classes, wonderful people...God is so good!

Matt, Katie, and Liam

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Running with the Body

I had a great time with many of you at the annual Knights 5K this morning.  A special thanks to Bill and Carol Johncock for the endless hours they put into planning this event.  Of course the race itself is secondary to the real purpose.  The Knights 5K connects the school with the community, and allows us to display the grace God has shown us with folks all over the Catawba Valley.  I don't have exact numbers on this, but it appeared that about half of those who ran the race were not from HCA.  With over 360 registered racers, this means that we had the privilege of showing almost 200 other people how the body of Jesus Christ functions in a non-traditional church setting.  Sometimes we compartmentalize our walk with the Lord so much that we forget that we are the Church, even when we are not in "church".  I am excited to continue to work with other believers as we serve the Lord through everyday life, Sunday through Saturday.  Today was no exception. 

HCA Student Runners
The Start

Here is a sight you rarely see...a man pulling a suitcase down
the road during the 5K.
Steve Reese finishing strong

p.s. - Several people asked why I did not actually run in the race today.  Truth is, I am protesting the fact that Bill will not add a category for fat junk-food eaters.  I would be dominant!  Maybe next year. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Chuck Colson Plugs Classical Education

I thought each HCA family might be interested in reading this commentary from the August 24th publication of Chuck Colson's Breakpoint ministry.  Most of you will be familiar with Mr. Colson since he reads these commentaries each morning on Christian radio, and is highly respected in Christian circles around the country.  With our children receiving a Classical Christian education at HCA, this article should be an encouragement to us all. 

This is the link to the "2 Minute Warning" he refers to in the article:
Classical Schools

Back to a Better Education

Rating: 4.50

School's out for the summer. But let's do a little thinking about modern education -- how it's failed us and what alternatives we have.
Listen Now | Download
Chuck  Colson
     In a 1947 speech, the great British writer Dorothy Sayers asked, “Has it ever struck you as odd . . . that today, when the proportion of literacy throughout Western Europe is higher than it has ever been, people should have become susceptible to the influence of advertisement and mass propaganda to an extent hitherto unheard of and unimagined?”
     Sayers then went on to wonder whether it’s simply because of the rise in mass communications — or something worse.  “Do you sometimes have an uneasy suspicion,” she asked, “that the product of modern educational methods is less good than he or she might be at disentangling fact from opinion and the proven from the plausible?”
     I certainly do have that suspicion. So-called “modern” education was already failing students in Sayers’s time, and it certainly is today.  That’s why so many people, including Christians, misunderstand facts, or they're swayed by specious arguments, or they have no idea how to properly express ideas in ways that are coherent and believable. Modern America is rife with the telltale signs of miseducation.
     Today on my "Two-Minute Warning," which I urge you to watch at, I talk about how modern education developed, how it is undermined by moral relativism, and how, exactly, it differs from what is called classical education.
     What is a classical education? Classical education advocate Susan Wise Bauer puts it this way: “Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In high school . . . they learn to express themselves.
     Classical education uses natural developmental stages to train students to discern between true and false facts, understand good and bad arguments, and develop the ability to turn their thoughts in to intelligent words. What more could we hope for our kids?
     It’s the kind of education that prepares men and women for all areas of life. Plumbers, engineers, executives, housewives all will have to sort out facts and arguments and make themselves understood.
     Classical education also trains young minds to think holistically about life. Most modern education is compartmentalized. Classical education teaches that astronomy is related to economics is related to philosophy. Truth in this model forms a rational whole, which is at the heart of a coherent worldview.
     Now, while Classical education doesn’t have to be Christian, much of it is Christian. And when the classical approach is mixed with Christianity, the result is powerful. Children become men and women who have taken a Christian worldview to heart.
     If you have children or grandchildren, let me encourage you to seriously consider classical education. More and more communities have classical schools. If yours doesn’t, maybe you can be part of an effort to establish one.
     Again, for more, go see my "Two-Minute Warning" at Modern education has been failing students and society for decades. We need — and in classical education we have — a better alternative.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Blessed with a capital Bee

Exactly one year ago, the day was flowing smoothly, and I was ready to slap the "success" label onto the first day of school, when we received the call.  As I was walking through the main office, Janie Lambert answered the phone, receiving word that some kids had been stung by bees up at Neill Clark (Rec Center next door).  So, I sprinted up the path from here to there to the rescue.  When I entered the building, I found 24 crying first graders and a couple adults in a panic.  Several of the kids had shed their shirts, and the ladies who had arrived before me were applying salve by the bucket.  The little tykes had stirred up a nest of yellow jackets, and the nasty little bugs had certainly gotten their revenge.  Many in the class had been stung, several of them multiple times. 

I made my best attempt to reassure a bunch of six-year-olds that this was just a temporary trial in their lives, and that in a few days, we would all look back in amusement.  They were having no part of it.  As a matter of fact, they all refused to go back outside at all.  Since this was already the afternoon, and pickup was coming in less than an hour, we needed a plan.  So, I decided that I would go get the HCA bus and pick up the kids so that they wouldn't have to face their insect enemies on the way back to school by foot.  With the parking lot full because of the number of excited first day of school parents, I couldn't get the bus out of its spot, so I hopped in the van instead, thinking I could just make multiple trips.  As I pulled up to the front door, I could see the scared little faces on the inside begin to lighten up with the belief that Mr. Robinson had saved them from the danger.  That's part of the beauty of little kids.  They truly do believe that I have the power to do anything! 

I went into the building, and got the first group of wounded, taking them out to the van.  As I opened the van door, wouldn't you know it...two wasps flew out!  The kids went into a screaming frenzy, and ran back into the building.  Back to square one.  By this point, my dad nature begins to say, "Look, I know that you have had a tough time, but you are just going to have to suck it up and go outside!"  Fortunately, Mrs. Peeler had arrived and became the soothing voice of sympathy and encouragement.  She reassured the kids that Mr. Robinson had not intentionally brought more bees to torment them, and convinced them that the van ride was their best option.  They reluctantly agreed and we finally made it back to school.  Whew!

When I think back to first days of school in the 20 years since I started teaching, or even when I was a student myself, this one is certainly the most memorable.  Every situation is a learning experience, and I certainly learned a lot of lessons that day, not the least of which is to check for yellow jacket nests in key places before school starts! 

Today, we began our 17th year at Hickory Christian Academy.  We welcomed over 390 students (including over 60 new ones) to our campus, and were immediately impacted by the increased numbers.  Almost every classroom is full to capacity, even with two across the parking lot.  And, as I looked into they eyes of each of these gifts from God, I was reminded of how important this task really is.  These are real human beings, with a real future (on earth, and eternally).  They have real emotions, real anxieties, real hopes, real dreams.  And the Creator of the universe has allowed me to have a hand in molding these youngsters into the image of Jesus Christ.

What an honor and privilege it is to work alongside such wonderful teachers and administrators in ministering to wonderful families with wonderful children under the supervision of a wonderful God.  Thank you for entrusting us with your kids again this year.  I can't wait to get to know every one of you a little better each day. 

Today was a much smoother first day of school than last year.  I did not see one bee all day.  They probably were hiding in their nests after the earthquake!  Summer is over...let the adventure begin!