Monday, November 29, 2010

The Solution to Kansas' Ed Funding Paradox

Excellent Teachers with Larger Classes and Lean, Excellent Leadership

Here’s the post that I made on “Voice for Liberty in Wichita” website which can be found here:
I watched KSN's Jessica Schlageck's report on the new survey results released Monday by the Foundation for Educational Choice regarding Kansan's erroneous perceptions of educational funding. Dave Trabert of the Kansas Policy Institute gave an excellent interview where he astutely pointed out that Kansans generally don’t realize just how much tax money Kansas schools already receive and that, as the schools ask for more and more, the schools nor the public have yet to define”How much is enough.” The fact is that if we increase taxes to 100% and give all the money to the schools we would destroy our economy and have no schools at all, so obviously there’s some upper limit to the necessity for school funding. It’s also interesting that the individual leading the vanguard in the court battle is not a parent or business person, the sort of person you think would be leading the way if more spending were necessary to produce greater economic growth—what businessman or parent would be against that?—but rather, John Morton, Newton’s school superintendent, one biased toward bloated school system overhead: the perpetuation of his own salary.
I was further interested to note that my comment to that article reflected the wisdom of Bill Gates shared just above on the WichitaLiberty site, that better teachers—who are rare—and larger class sizes are the keys to cost effective achievement. Further it’s time we shrank district staff overhead and dispensed with wasteful extravagances as it seems Lawrence schools are learning to do. With that as an introduction here was my response to the KSN report which can be found at :
According to the "Trends International Math Science Study," students from Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Russia and England all score higher on the study's standardized test than the United States and yet the United States spends more than any of these as a percentage of GDP, except for England, and more than all in terms of real dollars according to the CIA World Factbook. There is no relationship between dollars spent on education and individual achievement as far as raw throwing dollars into school systems is concerned. Probably the best educational value in Wichita is the Classical School of Wichita which has one of the highest National Merit Scholar to student ratios at a fraction of the cost of public education by any measure. School funding advocates like superintendent Morton of Newton are clearly biased since they directly benefit from increased taxation for schools and yet there is no direct correlation in any available data of economic growth trending with educational expenditure. Quite to the contrary, some of the chronically poorest nations on earth, with the worst education, spend the highest percentage of GDP on education. What matters most is quality curriculum, quality leadership, and quality teachers that can be achieved with higher student-teacher ratios and fewer frills exactly as they have been doing and are doing in Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Japan and Russia. In order for class size to make any statistical difference in achievement the class must be smaller than 10 and then it would be virtually impossible, read astronomically expensive, to equip all such classrooms with excellent teachers, and so the achievement gain due to small classes would be reversed by poor teachers. The truth is that larger classes with exceptionally well qualified teachers and complete parental support with excellent lean leadership is the path to educational excellence for the masses as well as economic prosperity for the economy as a whole. At least that's what Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Korea have proved. The elite will have their “Roxbury Latin's,” of course, but it’s not good for anyone for everyone to have them.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Offering Up A Thank Offering in the Lord's Supper

Communion Thoughts: Thanksgiving And The Crucifixion

It’s only fitting that in the season of thanksgiving we should give thanks for the greatest blessing anyone could ever give: a life, a body and blood, that brings forgiveness of sins, redemption of our souls, reconciliation of our relationship with our creator God, adoption as children of God, power to overcome sin and Satan, and eternal life with all the others who share this thankfulness in the perfect home of our loving and beautiful father sharing eternal happiness with our perfect husband Jesus.

Now if you can’t get fired up about that your wood is really wet!! I mean it would have to be way wetter than Elijah’s wood when he faced the prophets of Baal. Remember that story? Elijah was going to call down fire from God so he asked the prophets of Baal to pour water all over his wood, and they poured barrels and barrels on it, but when they called for their God’s to ignite their sacrifices the Baal did nothing but God poured fire from heaven on Elijah’s sacrifice and burnt up not only the offering but the wood, water and even the stones of the alter!! Now that’s the kind of fired-up we’re talking about here, AMEN??

I did a study on thanksgiving recently and I found an interesting bit of trivia. I say trivia because it won’t make any difference in our eternal salvation if we don’t know this little fact or not, but we all like to learn fascinating insights into the scripture don’t we? Amen?

Well, the Bible talks a lot about thanksgiving:
1. Sanctifying power in thanksgiving 1 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV
1Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
2. Thanksgiving is a kind of sacrifice to God Ps 50:23 ESV
23The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!"
(Jer. 31:31-34; 33:10-12 In the new covenant thank offering will be made.)
3. We are to make sacrifices to God 1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV
4As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
4. One of the sacrifices we are to make is of our bodies. Rom 12:1-2
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 
This brings us to the interesting piece of trivia that I told you about:
Jesus is recorded giving thanks to God on only 4 sets of occasions:
1. When he feeds the 5,000 and the 4,000 (Matt. 14, 15; Mk. 6, 8; Lk. 9; Jn. 6)
2. When he is about to raise Lazarus from the dead. (John 11)
3. At the last supper (Matt 26; Mk. 14; Lk. 22;
4. With the disciples in Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)
Let’s look at the account of the Lord’s Supper in Luke 22:14-20
14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
In a sense, Jesus is preparing his body for sacrifice in the sanctifying prayer and setting up a thank offering for us to remember him by continually
Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 10:16-21 to see Paul’s thoughts on these things:
16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.
18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.

So today we partake with our Lord Jesus in his memorial feast and in it we make an offering of thanksgiving to our Lord for all that he accomplished for us on that cross and when he presented himself as an offering in the presence of God in heaven. Indeed, it is not on any earthly alter that we offer this offering of thanksgiving but on the very throne of God in heaven, for the sacrifices we offer are not earthly but they occur in heaven itself.

Let us pray.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

BibleTalk Notes- We Believe Therefore We Speak, 1

BibleTalk September 24th, 2010
God’s Compelling Good News—We Believe Therefore We Speak!
Part 1, The First Moment: Jesus’ Birth

You know, when you have a great discovery or you’re struck with a brilliant idea don’t you just have to talk about it? Remember the story of Archimedes and density? The king wanted to know whether his crown had actually been made out of all the gold he sent to make it with and when the water displacement test hit Archimedes in the public bath he ran naked to the palace shouting Eureka!!

Have you ever been so excited about something that you just HAD to run and tell somebody?

I found 4 Great “Moments of Discovery” about Jesus where we see bursts of talking about Jesus: Jesus’ Birth, Jesus introduction to the world (the epiphany), the inception of the church (Pentecost), and the conviction based maturing speech of those who hear the word and hold it in their hearts. We’ll consider each of these moments briefly and finish with an ancient warning to the watchmen of Israel.

Good news about Jesus’ Birth
Luke is filled with stories of people rejoicing over baby Jesus!!
Elizabeth Luke 1:39-45
39At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"
Mary Luke 1:46-49
"My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
Zechariah Luke1:67-75
68"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come and has redeemed his peple.
69He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
The Angels (God) Luke 2:8-14
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
The Shepherds
Anna and Simeon Luke 2:28-32
28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.
30For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel."
Matthew also mentions the Wise Men who came from afar and brought gifts for the baby.
This is the Jesus most people are willing to believe in and talk about, but just like a baby: if your faith doesn’t grow from this point something is wrong. It’s comfortable to stay at this stage of faith, however: there’s no challenge, no sacrifice, just rejoicing and music and lights and gift-giving. But did Jesus ever command us to give him a birthday party? That idea grows more by the opportunism of merchants who see it as a way to boost sales than because people are trying to please God.

Are we at the baby Jesus level of faith? Are we comfortable just talking about and enjoying the baby Jesus or are we committed to Jesus the man, the son of God who conquered Satan and takes on the sin of the world??

That’s the BibleTalk this week! Next week The Second Moment: Jesus the man, revealed to the world!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Message of Hope for Disciples of Jesus

Hebrews and 1 John are both great epistles of love and hope. It's interesting that in Hebrews 2:1 the Spirit, through the writing, adjures us to "pay more careful attention" to Jesus' message, the New Testament, lest we "drift away" from it and Heb. 4:11 to “make every effort to enter that rest so that no one may fall by following the Israelite’s example of disobedience” and at the same time he tells us that, in Heb 3:6, “we are his house if we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope!” He’s saying “Don’t be overconfident” at the same time that he is saying “Be supremely confident!”
This can only be done by living like Jesus, who the spirit further says that in the days of his flesh he, first, did not exalt himself to be made high priest but was appointed to that office(Heb 5::5-6(Phil 2:5-11)--he was humble, and second, he offered up prayers to God with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard (not because he was God, the son, co-creator of the Universe, the one who holds all things together by his word of power, blameless and innocent, but) for his reverent submission.
So we can have confidence because we have a high priest who can relate to us and feels for us, and with that confidence we can enter the most holy place and draw near to the throne of God--the throne of grace, where Jesus is seated right now--and receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need. (Heb 4:14-16) This confidence--cemented in the God’s double eternally unchanging and irrevocable promise--serves for a steadfast anchor for our soul, a hope that enters into the Holy of Holies as well. (Hebrews 6:13-20) Our confidence is our hope: the anchor of our soul.
Similarly, in I John 1 the spirit encourages us saying that “if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of his son Jesus Christ continually purifies us from all sin.” But "if we claim we have no sin, we lie and do not live according to the truth." In other words: Be confident but not over-confident. Our confidence in Christ is in our humility. By maintaining this humility we will sin less; we will not walk in darkness.(Remainder of I John)
The grasshopper flew down the road but he didn’t hot-dog and show how he could ride the wind waves on his windshield wiper surfboard with no legs hanging on. And we don’t have to be quite as blind as the grasshopper about our destination. We have a destination that is the fulfillment of the dreams of all the men of faith, hope and love of all time. The eternal Mt Zion, the innumerable angels in festal gathering!! (Heb 12)
To get to our eternal dwelling we must endure discipline though. (Heb 12) Some days that discipline seems tough. But those tough times are our hope of sonship, our guarantee of it, the ground of our boasting. I know I have tough times and that's part of how I know, in addition to my obedience of the gospel, that I’m a son of the king and I’m on MY way to heaven!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

More On A Growing Summer--with Less Art

We just got back from a great little vacation up in Lawrence. We had never been there before but were very happily surprised!! There was great food, lots of neat stores, beautiful landscaping, a nearby tennis court where Christopher could beat his dad for the first time!! 4th of July was great although Uncle Larry was not handling the humidity well: got to spend wonderful time with Paul and Brenda, my mom, and the David Lawrence family--everyone of them: David, Sharon, Ryan, Carrie, Aaron and the other one! Tinka, Christopher, Catherine and I had great fun!!!! The fireworks were some of the best ever. The ballgame was rained out but the kids and I took in the stand-in movie, Cars: moving with a good message. Our Pacifica blew up so we bought a new Prius--good bargain. BibleTalk at WSU is going well with regular visitors and Dr Fox and Joshua Lutz helping to crank it out. David Bryant and I are in a good study with two fine men. Looking forward to attending the Jubilee in LA. Football season is underway for Christopher and so he may have to cut back on tennis. We will be going with our undefeated Cowboys football team to Dallas for a 5th grade tournament August 12th-14th, taking in Six Flags and visiting the Lawrences down in Weatherford, OK, on the way. Daily phonics class with Catherine, Dillon Bryant and Malia Levy, with Dr Caryn Bryant assisting, comes alive daily from 9:30-11:30. Classics class has moved from Augustine to Boethius with Dante next. Koine Greek is coming along...supposed to be into chapter 4 this week. Still need to find time for econometrics, more reading with Christopher and Catherine and time with my wfe and brothers. The Lord is providing for us through our business as we strive to grow as and make disciples of Jesus! Now if Lewis Hamilton can just find a way to win the British Grand Prix!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Summer of Growth: Weedology and Grass Farming

A summer of growth at home includes caring for our home and yard; working with the kids in their relationship with God, academics and sports; deepening relationships in the church and community; keeping physically fit; doing a lot of learning and bearing fruit for God’s Kingdom. The weeds need pulling constantly. I have learned a lot about my life, my family, church and society grass farming. Of course there is the unending battle with the lions of dandy, those peculiar pernicious plants brought here by our European ancestors to make their beloved dandelion wine that now constantly threaten to overtake every clean green field, lawn and glade. Long and valiantly have we fought these carnivorous` slayers of uniform grassy foliage, but even worse are the sea creatures of the lawn: crab grass.
Last year I had a real rash of the horrible stuff in the back yard and weed-sprays were not even denting it. My grass farming advisors said that I would probably just have to live with it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to mow over it and cast that multitude of tiny seeds to the wind… and into every nook and cranny of my lawn. So I got Christopher and Catherine out in the yard with me--what are kids for?--and we went to work, carefully dislodging every fearsome crab. It was tedious and hot work, but not terribly hard. And with persistence we beat it: we completely eradicated crab grass from our lawn.
The interesting thing is that after a while you get to where you can see the little crabs with their legs crooking out akimbo. If there is any question about where the root center is you just touch the edge of one and it wiggles and you can see where the root center is. Then you just carefully feel your way with your hand down to the where the root comes out of the ground and gently pull the whole crab out. Often it has sent it’s little tendrils out under, over and around the precious grass plants but if you carefully and gently pull it all out you can successfully transport it to the open mouth of the waiting plastic trash bag and—voila—the end of the evil trespasser.
This hatred of weeds has spilled over to my life and my family’s life and may attitude toward sin and laziness in the church. Just as I saw and was alarmed at the weeds in my yard I see and am alarmed at the weedy sin, behavior, attitudes and influences that I see in my life and in the lives of my wife and children. It sensitizes me to them and makes me want to pull them out and deal with them. Some of the weeds I had to deal with were impurity, disrespect for traffic laws, distraction of various types, laziness, misplaced priorities, lack of love and communication. The Holy Spirit has been helping me see things and change. Every day I pray for God to put a wall of protection around me, for the spirit to lead me. God has helped me stay pure, no longer get speeding tickets, be on time and prepared, grow in my relationships and spiritual effectiveness. The children and I are having daily devotions together. I am isolating areas where my brothers need to grow and helping and encouraging them. We are filled with the Spirit singing songs and sharing our faith boldly daily.
Coming up on Liberty, Probity and Valor: Specifics on time with the kids and family, relationships, fitness, our learning projects and our outreach, and maybe a little about our business too!

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Summer of Growth at Home

After several days of relative conflict my wife and I came to a peaceful resolution today: we're staying home this summer.

We had big dreams of travelling to the east and west coasts again, as we did last year when we vacationed in Seattle (with an excursion to Victoria, BC) and New York. This year we hoped to enjoy Boston and the Northeast and also to attend a spiritual growth seminar in Los Angeles. We were both excited about the basics of the plan. The conflict arose when I came up with the, apparently, "less than brilliant" idea to drive back east and drive to LA too. Well, Tinka didn't think too much of that the present time. And, true, it could take us away from our business here for too long a time.

Truth be told, I wasn't very excited about going on a trip at all and I felt, especially since Christopher are becoming such proficient Scouting campers, that we could keep the costs way down by driving prudently in our Prius and camping along the way. Now certainly that was at least a supremely reasonable if not brilliant idea! Tinka took exception. When we flew to Treasure Island in the spring we stayed a lovely condo in Land's End and had a very comfortable and relaxing time: soft bed, ready shower and air conditioning being key elements of "comfortable" and "relaxing."

Well, I prayed for wisdom for our vacation plans and immediately she was struck with the idea for drawing lots. She wrote on three pieces of paper: "fly," "drive," and "no go." Wouldn't you know it, I drew "drive." At first she began to resign herself to the driving idea and planning went on, but the more she thought about it the more rebellious she became to the idea--exacerbated by the fact that since I took the drawing as God's will I was entirely settled on the matter and convinced that, since "no go" was not drawn but was an option, we must drive to the east coast.

Resistance and rebellion grew as the realities of eight days of driving and the opportunity cost involved in being away from home for nearly 3 weeks set in. We took a Memorial Day trip to Arkansas to visit our favorite aunt and uncle, Brenda and Paul, as well as my dad, brother, sister and their dear ones. Overall the trip went well, lovely hospitality at P&B’s, dad’s, Tiffany’s and Becky’s, outstanding fishing and dad funded hotel stay, dinner on Mt Magazine, the highest point in Arkansas…but the way home foretold potential misery as I was, unfortunately, stubborn about a few things and took a route that added two hours to the return trip, though it was beautiful.

God removed the tension as he allowed me to see that perhaps he wanted us to drive on a smaller, couple day vacation and spend the rest of the summer at home working on growing in important areas: spiritually, intellectually, financially, in family, in character and in physical fitness. And so that is what we have decided to do, led by God, and we are at peace.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I can do this too!

I've tried "blogging" on some social networking sites and it just didn't seem to work. I'm going to try to really get going with my little niche of the world of ideas: fighting for Christian liberty that begins with freedom for sins that is only in Christ Jesus. Paul said, "For freedom Christ has set you free; so don't let yourself become enslaved again to a yoke of slavery." Sustainable freedom comes from a polished character: personally, collectively, institutionally, nationally and globally. Freedom in this sense is a responsible freedom where individuals respect the freedom of others while taking an interest in others' outcomes. There is a judgment day coming and preparing for that must be our top priority. This preparation involves loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We also have to live together on this planet in the meantime and so we must love our neighbors if that is going to be process of civilization. Many in our culture have embraced the nihilism of relativism and shipwrecked their characters on the rocks of the very real results of lousy decisions. What is needed is a return to the relentless search for truth and personal transformation that is found in being a disciple of Jesus--a fighter for truth, love and freedom.