Saturday, July 24, 2010

To Be (political)...Or, Not To Be

It doesn't matter who the president is, someone is always not happy. Many people right now are frustrated and want to get involved in the political world. I have been very consumed with thinking about the government and what's going to happen in the future. Then, I started reading a book that changed my way of thinking a bit. I was reading an historical fiction novel about the apostles and the early church. First, a short history lesson.

Peter, Paul, Mark, John and many others lived and witnessed during the time of Caesar Nero in Rome. If you've never herd of Nero, you need to research him. He was the ancient Roman equivalent of Hitler. He made spectacles of executing "the Nazarenes", or followers of Jesus. He was the cruelest of cruel, a vile, evil man. Many, many believers and apostles of the early church were martyred under Nero, including Peter and Paul it is believed. It is even believed that he killed his own mother, a wife and a half brother.

All of the apostles and early believers faced many difficult challenges. They were all sought out and persecuted by both the Roman government and he Jewish elders. Paul was arrested, beaten, and shipwrecked for starters. John was boiled in oil, but lived to later be exiled to the island of Patmos. These were not men with special abilities. Peter was a fisherman. Paul was a Pharisee who was one of the first to persecute the early church before his conversion. Paul was also a tentmaker. These were just ordinary men who answered the call of Jesus. I think we can learn a lot from these men and how they dealt with their political environment, as well as how they focused their attention.

Paul was in Rome under house arrest. Acts 28:30-31 says, "For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kindom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ." Did you catch that? "Boldly and without hindrance" Pal did the very thing that got him arrested while he was still under house arrest.

1 Peter 1:24-25 says, "For ALL men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever." Therefore, putting your trust in a politician to fix things - no matter how charismatic or powerful - is futile.

1 Peter 2:9, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood,a holy nation, a people belonging to God,that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into is wonderful light." Peter was clearly not referring to Rome as a holy nation. In fact, his letter was addressed to people in many nations. Peter was referring to the Church, the followers of Christ as a holy nation. He was referring to us. We are to be declaring God's praises. We have to be very cautious in the political arena. Politics have a way of stirring up anger. Anger does not declare God's praises.

Peter continues in chapter 2, verses 11-12, "Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in this world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, thy may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." If we are truly living our lives for Christ, we will be accused of many things. We will be persecuted. Jesus himself said in John 16:33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." James 1:2 says,"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds."

Then, back to 1 Peter 2:13-17, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king."

In chapter 3, verses 15-16 he says, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."

Bottom line is, we are to live our lives to spread the gospel. It matters not, who thinks they are in charge here. We know the truth. God is victorious, and the victory is ours. "As it is written: 'For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:36-39

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Curriculum Plan

I am very excited about this school year. I loved reviewing all the curriculum last year, and it really gave me a feel for what I like and don't like. But alas, there is a time for everything, and I am very glad that I get to choose all our curriculum this year. I am really going to be focusing on language for my 6th grader. I do not have all my lesson plans done yet, because I just got the books today. I would still like to share my list of books we will be using.

History: We will be finishing up Mystery of History Volume II which goes up through the middle ages. This was one of my reviews from last year, but with everything else we were reviewing we did not have time to finish. I love it because I can teach both kids at the same time, but the activities can be tailored for approximate grade level. I can give a bit tougher project to the 6th grader.

Science: First, we will finish Real Science Odyssey: Chemistry. This was another review that we got toward the end of the year. After we finish that we will move on to Apologia's Exploring Creation series with Sea Creatures and Land Animals. I would like to finish both of those this year, because my oldest will be a 7th grader next year and will be ready for General Science.

Spelling: We are going to continue with the All About Spelling series. My 2nd grader is going to review book 1 first. My 6th grader is going to start with a review of book 2 and then move into book 3.

For the 6th grader:
Reading Detective from The Critical Thinking Company. He will be doing level A1 for 5th/6th grade. I ordered the CD-ROM as opposed to the workbook so I can reuse it for the little one.
Word Roots (Level A1) also from The Critical Thinking Company on CD-ROM. This is designed for grades 4-12. It teaches prefixes, suffixes, and latin roots. The benefits listed on the CD are improves spelling, increases vocabulary, enhances reading comprehension, and sharpens deductive thinking skills.
Red Herring Mysteries Level 1 (a workbook) from The Critical Thinking Company. It is for grades 4-6 to help with logic and critical thinking skills.
Novel Units are study guides to all different kinds of literature. They include activities to teach reading, thinking, and writing. I have tried a similar program from Total Language Plus, but have not tried Novel Units. I just ordered one to see if we like it. The study guide I picked was "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books 1 and 2. I think it should take about 8 weeks to complete. We also have a Total Language Plus to finish for "The Whipping Boy". I will decide what to do next after we finish the Novel Units book to see if we like that.
Wordsmith Apprentice, a self-directed program for grades 4-6 that will develop appreciation and enthusiasm for written language through imagination-stretching exercises. Basically, they become the editor of a newspaper.
Mind Benders and Scratch Your Brain from The Critical Thinking Company. Two more little workbooks to improve thinking skills.
I know that sounds like a lot. That is where the lesson planning is going to come in very handy. I need to plan very carefully how much he will do each day.
Finally, for math my friend introduced me to a very unusual program called Life of Fred. Fred is a five-year-old who teaches math at the university. The math book is written as a story, and all the problems relate to Fred's life. It totally avoids the problem of "when am I ever going to use this?" because they are all real life situations. This program starts after the student knows all their basic facts through long division. I ordered the first book in the series which is Fractions. It should take about 1/2 the year at which point if we like it, we will order the next book Decimals and Percents for the 2nd 1/2 of the year. Completing those two will have him ready for Pre-Algebra next year. I can hardly believe that he grew up that fast.

I do not have quite as long a list for the 2nd grader. For math he will be continuing Math Mammoth that we got to review near the end of the last school year. He is on unit 2 of 3rd grade. Yes, you read that correctly. He is starting 2nd grade on unit 2 of the 3rd grade math book.
I also got a Novel Units study to try with him. His is for three Frog and Toad books.
He has almost completed Language Smarts Level B from The Critical Thinking Company. I ordered Level C so we have it ready. This is a great program for teaching grammar and language skills. What is especially great is that he loves doing it. I wish I'd have know about this program when my oldest was that age. I probably wouldn't have to do all the back work that I am doing this year with him.
Cursive Handwriting from Handwriting Without Tears. He got interested in cursive near the end of the year last year, so I figured I'd go ahead and order it. The main problem we've had up to this point is that his thinking skills have developed far quicker than his fine motor skills. He is finally catching up, and now I think he is really going to start flying.
Reading Detective CD-ROM beginning level for grades 3/4. I ordered this, because I needed some kind of CD game for him to avoid issues of "my brother gets to play on the computer, I want to play on the computer too".

That's it for now. I will try to update as I get my lesson planning done as to how we are going to fit it all in. Then again, I will update when we start to see if real life actually works out as well as my plan. We are planning of starting August 16th.