Religious Liberty In School

free-to-speakAs our students are heading back to their schools, it is a great time to be reminded of the religious liberties they have while in school. With all of the talk of so-called “separation of church and state,” I think many parents and students are reluctant to say anything that sounds remotely Christian, for fear of getting in trouble with the powers-that-be.

But we don’t have to tread so carefully!

Gateways To Better Education has some great resources. I ordered a couple hundred of their “Free To Speak” pamphlets. I gave them to our school superintendent, and as many parents as as I could. This short pamphlet summarizes the US Department of Education’s guidelines on what is allowed in school. In short, the Seven Freedoms are:

  1. Students can pray, read their Bibles or other religious material, and talk about their faith at school.
  2. Students can organize prayer groups and religious clubs, and announce their meetings like any other club.
  3. Students can express their faith in their class work and homework.
  4. Teachers can organize prayer groups with other teachers.
  5. Students may be able to go off campus to have religious studies during school hours.
  6. Students can express their faith at a school event.
  7. Students can express their faith at a graduation ceremony.

Don’t be intimidated. Don’t be uninformed. Know your rights as a US citizen.

Links & Quotes

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“Ah, what a thing is prayer! The simplest form of speech—such as even a child could utter—yet the highest and divinest of all utterances; such as the Holy Spirit alone can enable us to give fourth.” —Horatius Bonar

“When God feels distant, remember the Christmas story. When you feel alone, unloved, or unlovable, remember that God loves you. And He travelled a great distance to be close to you. Why? Because He loves to be with the ones He loves!” —Max Lucado

“Do you ever take a moment to pray but feel like you stumble out of the gate? Do you have trouble finding the words when it comes time to bow your head? Remember, the One who hears your prayers is your Daddy. You don’t need to wow him with eloquence. Jesus downplayed the importance of words in prayers. We tend to do the opposite. The more words the better. The better words the better. … Just as a happy child cannot mis-hug, the sincere heart cannot mis-pray.” —Max Lucado

J.Warner Wallace answers a good question: Why doesn’t the birth record of Jesus appear in every Gospel?

Dan Reiland has some good words for those in leadership positions in ministry.

Far too many school administrators and teachers think they are limited by the so-called “separation of church and state.” Here’s a post from Eric Buehrer you should share with any of your friends who work in the public school system.

John Stonestreet says, “Remember when people laughed about ‘death panels’?” Check out Who decides to end a life?

Frank Turek asks, “How do we fix a world filled with murder, rape, betrayal, adultery, fraud, theft, sexual exploitation, pornography, bullying, abortion, terrorism, cheating, lying, child abuse, racism, assault, drugs, robbery, and countless other evils?” He says we may not like the answer.

Links & Quotes

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“One of the greatest mercies God bestows upon us is His not permitting our inclinations and opportunities to meet. Have you not sometimes noticed that when you had the inclination to a sin there has been no opportunity, and when the opportunity has presented itself you have had no inclination towards it? satan’s principal aim with believers is to bring their appetites and his temptations together….” —Charles Spurgeon

“In a very real sense, we are what we love. … What we treasure in our heart will be what we seek in life and what we become in fact. … What we most love, therefore, tells us something about the condition of our hearts. If the best part of our spiritual and physical energies are invested in making a good living—if being materially well-off is the treasure we seek—then this will be evidence of a heart which believes it can only be satisfied by the enjoyment of things and the realization of every whim.” —T.M. Moore

“Let us make war, not with other people, but with our own unbelief. It is the root of anxiety, which, in turn, is the root of so many other sins. So let us turn our eyes fixed on the precious and very great promises of God. Take up the Bible, ask the Holy Spirit for help, lay the promises up in your heart, and fight the good fight—to live by faith in future grace.” —John Piper

“This third Person is called, in technical language, the Holy Ghost or the ‘spirit’ of God. Do not be worried or surprised if you find it (or Him) rather vaguer or more shadowy in your mind than the other two [Father and Son]. I think there is a reason why that must be so. In the Christian life you are not usually looking at Him: He is always acting through you. If you think of the Father as something ‘out there,’ in front of you, and of the Son as someone standing at your side, helping you to pray, trying to turn you into another son, then you have to think of the third Person as something inside you, or behind you. Perhaps some people might find it easier to begin with the third Person and work backwards. God is love, and that love works through men—especially through the whole community of Christians. But this spirit of love is, from all eternity, a love going on between the Father and Son.” —C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Max Lucado reminds us of the original terrorist.

Lenny Esposito shares 3 problems for atheism.

Good reminders: 5 things married couples should do every day.

[VIDEO] George Will explains campaign finance “reform” in a way I haven’t heard anyone else say it—

 

Links & Quotes

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 [VIDEO] John Maxwell has a special message for veterans as he talks about heroism—

“God never says ‘no’ to us unless ‘no’ will make us ultimately happier.” —Jon Bloom

“You may remember the Old Testament story of the Israelite spies sent to scout out the Promised Land. They came back saying, ‘Yes, it’s a land flowing with milk and honey. But it’s also full of giants and walled-up cities. We’re not able to go up against these people. Compared to them, we’re mere grasshoppers’ (see Numbers 13). Now, these men didn’t accuse God. They never said, ‘God isn’t able. He isn’t strong enough.’ They dared not voice such unbelief. Instead, they focused on themselves, saying, ‘We’re not able. We’re like little bugs in our enemies’ sight.’ Yet that is not humility. And it isn’t innocent, harmless talk. Rather, it’s an affront to the One who is the Light of the world, who commands us to believe, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’ (Philippians 4:13).” —David Wilkerson

“The voice of God indeed daily calls to us; calls to the world to abandon sins and seek the Kingdom of God wholeheartedly.” —C.S. Lewis

J. Warner Wallace uses his skill as a cold-case detective to examine the testimony of the New Testament Gospel writers. Here is his case for why the Gospels were written fairly soon after Christ’s ascension.

Unfortunately, this is true: The First Amendment Is Dying.

[VIDEO] Was Jesus a myth?—

Persecuted Christians

Persecuted Christians [2]This Sunday, November 8, is the International Day of Prayer for persecuted Christians around the world. We will be praying at Calvary Assembly of God, and I hope wherever you are you will be praying too.

5 Ways To Live As A Free Servant

Peculiar not popularWe Americans love our freedom! But “freedom” is often misused and even abused—

  • We have sexual freedom … but not the “freedom” to say no.
  • We have freedom of expression … unless it’s “offensive” to me.
  • We have freedom of speech … unless I think it’s “hate speech.”

Freedom usually means: I am free to do what I want when I want to do it, but you are free to only do what I agree to. In other words, “freedom” has become subjective and selfish. For Christians, citizens of Heaven who are passing through Earth, the Bible calls us to use our freedom in a different way.

[1] Make sure your freedom is based in reverence for God (1 Peter 1:17). God is the One who will judge our actions. The Amplified Bible adds, “conduct yourselves in reverent fear of Him and with profound respect for God.”

[2] Live good lives, shown by your good deeds (1 Peter 2:12). The word good here means beautiful, useful, beneficial. In other words, the emphasis is more on action than on talk. George MacDonald wrote, “The time for speaking seldom arrives, the time for being never departs.”

[3] Do good to silence foolish talk (1 Peter 2:15). Notice the contrast between doing (the citizens of Heaven) and merely talking (the citizens of Earth). Good doing always trumps good talking.

[4] Live as free servants (1 Peter 2:16). That sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? A free servant?! But this is the same word used to describe Jesus in Philippians 2:7. It’s also how Jesus lived. In fact, the only time Jesus said, “I have set you an example” is when He was being the lowest of servants.

[5] Never forget the Cross (1 Peter 2:21-24; 4:1-6). Because of what Jesus did on the Cross for us, we die to sins and live for righteousness. Because of the Cross, we are to live differently from Earthlings.

When we live in this peculiar way, it gets noticed:

Simple question: If you are a Christian, are you living the way Peter instructs you to live?

We will be continuing our Aliens and Strangers series next Sunday, and I would love to have you join me. If you cannot be with us in person, tune-in to our Periscope broadcast (search for @craigtowens).

Links & Quotes

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“Is it not said in Scripture, ‘If any man sin, we have an Advocate’? Why is Christ an advocate today? Only because we want an advocate every day. Does He not constantly intercede yonder before the eternal throne? Why does He do that? Because we want daily intercession. And it is because we are constantly sinning that He is constantly an advocate, constantly an intercessor.” —Charles Spurgeon

“The only right a Christian has is the right to give up his rights.” —Oswald Chambers

“Unbelief hinders Christ from working those works which show the glory. It seems a strange saying, and one which we could not have ventured to utter had it not been written down for us by inspired men. That a child’s hand held up against the sun should hinder it from shining; that a weathered leaf thrown into a stream should stay its flowing or dry up its source; that the breath of man, breathed up against the sky, should quench the light of its myriad stars—these things would not really be so marvelous as that man’s unbelief should prevent God’s power from being sent forth, and the Son of God from doing those things which would reveal the glory of the Father. Yet we find the strange truth thus recorded. The evangelist Matthew thus writes, ‘He did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief’ (13:58); and Mark uses still stronger language, ‘He could there do no mighty work, saving that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk and heal them; and He marveled because of their unbelief ‘(6:5, 6).” —Horatius Bonar

A really nice story about our church’s move.

Despite what some people want to teach, here are 24 reasons to believe Hell is a reality.

George Muller was a faith giant. But check out what John Piper writes about him: Muller did not have the gift of faith.

Jon Bloom writes, “If we want to really know what’s going on in the world, we cannot depend on CNN or FoxNews. We will keep our eyes on the global church. She is at the center of history,” in his post entitled America’s one enduring legacy in history.

[VIDEO] Does free speech offend you?

Links & Quotes

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“The marvelous thing about spiritual wealth is that when we take our part in that, everyone else is blessed; whereas if we refused to be partakers, we hinder others from entering into the riches of God.” —Oswald Chambers

“Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff. To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse His accomplishments is to discover His heart. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread.” —Max Lucado

“We can choose to define ourselves (our smarts, our brand, our character) on who rejects us. Or we can choose to focus on those that care enough to think we matter. Carrying around a list of everyone who thinks you’re not good enough is exhausting.” —Seth Godin

U.S. Congressmen have already introduced a bill to protect our First Amendment rights in light of the latest Supreme Court ruling.

Links & Quotes

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“To some Christians today, this world is not a sinking ship or a world reserved for fire. It is an international capitol building overrun with undesirables whom these believers plan to kick out. They will then take their place, renovating and governing it all themselves. Such thinking is symptomatic of a dying love for Jesus and a clinging to this world!” —David Wilkerson

“Some of my best men are women!” —William Booth

Did you know: Babies in the womb have beating hearts at only 21 days gestation, detectable brain waves at roughly 42 days, and can suck their thumbs and yawn?

Frank Turek is exactly right: Sex Is The New Religion.

“For decades social science has found that there is an optimal family structure for a child’s intellectual, emotional and physical flourishing:  being raised in a home by her biological, married parents. All other arrangements—cohabiting biological parents, marriage with one step-parent, two adoptive parents or single parents—do not generally provide the same level of benefit.” Read more in this post about children raised by same-sex parents.

ImpressionHopefully none of my pastor friends ever do this!

Good reminder from John Maxwell: How Do You Become A Successful Failure?

Important health news: What stress does to your body.

Links & Quotes

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FAM101-How-RFRA-Works-Infographic-R5“Based on the vitriol directed towards Indiana, one would never know that 19 states and the federal government already have a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) virtually identical to the one passed by the Hoosier state. One governor, Malloy of Connecticut, blasted Governor Pence even though Connecticut’s RFRA potentially goes further than Indiana’s in offering protections to people of faith. Companies such as Apple speak of boycotting Indiana while simultaneously opening stores in China and Saudi Arabia, places of real enslavement and discrimination. While most of the rhetoric is designed to intimidate other states from following Indiana’s lead, it is disturbing to see how many Americans places greater importance on sexual freedom and economic prosperity than they do on freedom of conscience.” ―Michigan Family Forum

Here’s a great infographic explaining how the RFRA really works.

The Barna Group has some research showing what Americans believe about Jesus.

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Here are 5 signs that someone may have been (or is being) abused.

Interesting: research is showing that you might be healthier not getting a blood transfusion.

Seth Godin says, “Being really good is merely the first step. In order to earn word of mouth, you need to make it safe, fun and worthwhile to overcome the social hurdles to spread the word.” Read more in his post The Selfish Truth About Word Of Mouth.

[VIDEO] J. Warner Wallace and Bobby Conway discuss when you should stop looking at other religions…

 

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