Month: March 2018

Barabbas

As we approach Easter, we often forget one of the secondary characters that actually played a bigger role than we thought.

This boy grew up on the street. He didn’t know his father and certainly did not have a father living at home. He didn’t know where his mother was, and people generally called him ‘boy’ or ‘kid’. To survive on the streets meant petty thievery, and so he stole food, clothing, and anything else he felt he needed to survive.

As he got older, he found others that were like-minded. They formed a loose-knit gang and kept escalating their exploits. The gang of petty thieves started turning into something worse. Soldiers started looking for them as they were becoming well-known. The ‘boy’ became involved in physical altercations with soldiers and soon ended up killing one. A price was put on his head. He tried to mask his lawlessness by attacking the Romans to ‘free my people’ as he put it.

One day ‘boy’ and several others of his gang were captured and imprisoned in Pilate’s palace. He knew that one day soon he would be sentenced and executed. It was only a matter of time. Day after day dragged on with nothing to differentiate each successive day.

One day he heard the murmur of the crowd. The crowd sounded angry and he could tell more people were gathering. He could tell that someone was stirring the crowd up. There would be a pause and then the crowd would say something that he  could just not make out. This kept on for a bit until the crowd quietened down. The quiet lasted for a few minutes until he heard the crowd cry out his name, ‘Barabbas’! Then there was silence…until he heard the crowd cry, ‘crucify him’! This was it. His time was over. The long-anticipated judgment was now going to be executed. He was going to be executed.

Minutes later he heard the pad of footsteps coming down the hallway…getting closer and closer. Then they stopped…right outside his door. He heard the rattling of keys. Then the sound of one being inserted into the lock. The grinding of the lock until it opened. Then the door swinging slowly open. The jailer, with the guard patrol, walked in, faced Barabbas, and told him that he was free to go. Someone else had taken his place. He didn’t know whether he should walk or run or what. Maybe they just told him that so that they could spear him in the back. But why go through that if they could just execute him officially anyway?

He hesitantly made his way out of the citadel and then wondered where he should go. He decided to follow the crowd and see the person who had taken his place. However, he did not want to get too close to the soldiers, lest one of them strike out at him. He waited until the crowd had moved forward and then joined the back fringe.

He saw the first cross raised. It was one of his associates, a gang member. He saw the second cross being raised. Another associate gang member. Finally, the middle cross was raised. ‘So, that was the person who took my place,’ Barabbas thought. It was nobody he knew. He finally plucked up the courage to ask a soldier who that was hanging on the third cross.

‘That’s Barabbas,’ was the answer.

‘How can that be?’ Barabbas asked, ‘seeing that is my name?’

‘This is your substitute; He has taken your place on the cross,’ the soldier told him….

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I don’t know how Barabbas would have responded. We know he was a rebel, a thief, and a murderer. We know he was set free at the crowd’s behest. We also know that his name means ‘son of a father’ (Bar – son of; abbas – father). What you may not know, is that one of the titles of the Lord Jesus is ‘the Son of the Father’ (2 John 3). We are all Barabbas (or Batabbas) in that sense. We are all children of our father. We all deserved to hang on that cross for our sins. And yet the greater Barabbas, the Son of the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, was our substitute and took our place on the cross. This event supports and demonstrates the doctrine of substitution as found in the Old Testament.

As we move into Easter, let us remember the ultimate Barabbas, the Son of His Father, and how He took our place on the cross.

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Back to Becoming a Steward

I took a trip back to BC to be a part of my grandmother’s birthday celebration. While I got to enjoy the long layovers in Edmonton, I managed to read another book on stewardship. There was a good description of what stewardship included and so I thought I would share that with you as well.

The author, Rodin, states: “First, the term immediately identifies the steward as one who is not the rightful owner of that which is to be stewarded. Stewards are by definition not owners, but they have a relationship with the owner in order to be a faithful steward. This steward-owner relationship is of primary importance in a study of the theology of a steward.

Second, the term denotes a relationship between the steward who cares for the resources of the owner and those for whom the resources are meant. The biblical steward invested the resources in the lives of those to whom the owner was inclined. Therefore, there is a necessary relationship between the steward and the recipients of the resources being stewarded.

Third, there is a relationship between the steward and the steward’s own needs. That is, while the resources are not owned by the steward, the steward is expected to live from the resources and in that way be a steward to himself or herself. There is a self-stewardship implied in the term.

Fourth, there is a relationship between the steward and the resources themselves. Here issues of control, power, materialism, exploitation, waste, harvest and domination need to be discussed. Here the steward faces the temptation to act the part of the owner. Here is where the dark side of ownership is manifested, and stewardship is abandoned. The term steward carries the identification of one who draws clear lines between investing and exploitation, between management and control, between caretaking and domination, between use and waste” (p. 30).

These thoughts line up well with what our intentions for SCS are.

Bibliography

Rodin, R. S. (2000). Stewards in the kingdom: A theology of life in all its fullness. Downers Grove, IL., IVP Academic.

How Should We Treat One Another?

I’ve had several conversations with people over the last few weeks around the topic of how we treat one another. Most of the conversations have centered around people not treating others appropriately. As I thought about this, two separate passages came to mind. The first one is Matthew – ‘But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment’ (Matt. 12:36).

The second passage is found in Ephesians 4 – I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,”[e] for we are members of one another.  29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Eph. 4:1-3, 15, 20-25, 29-32).

These two passages both focus on how we use our words. In Matthew, we are reminded that we are accountable for every word we speak. When I think about that word, I think of the definition of gossip. We often say things about people that are not uplifting or helpful; we like to see how bad others are because it can help us feel better about ourselves. I wonder just how much our conversation would change if we were truly thinking about the fact that we will give an account of our words one day. I know that it makes me reconsider what I have said (and may say down the road). A good rule of thumb to go by is Phil. 4:8, ‘Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things’.

The Ephesians passage describes how we ought to talk to one another. Paul uses phrases such as ‘walk worthy of the calling with which you were called’, ‘with…gentleness’, ‘bearing with one another in love’, ‘speaking the truth in love’, ‘speak truth’, Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers’, and ‘be kind to one another’. I know I have been on the receiving end of phone calls (or emails) where parents have voiced their displeasure at what I had said or done (or what they thought I had said or done). The problem was that the call or email started off with accusations instead of questions. It is far easier to attack than to first inquire about what may or may not have happened. As every story has two sides (or more, depending on the number of participants), it is far wiser to find out the details of the event before reacting to it. Jumping to conclusions may be good exercise, but it is usually not helpful when trying to solve a problem.

Another problem when we speak is that we often do not think about who else can listen in when we speak. There is certainly a time and a place for having serious conversations. However, that does not mean that others who are not part of the conversation should be able to listen in. Parents, when talking to your child’s teacher, please make sure your children, unless they are a direct part of the conversation, cannot listen in. Please make sure that other parents or other children cannot listen in. It damages relationships to jump to conclusions and attack a person and have others standing around who witness the entire exchange. So often love, gentleness, kindness, graciousness, and edification are not adjectives that others would use about us when speak to or about them. 

This is my appeal to all parents, students, board members, staff, and admin [me!]: we have a responsibility to watch our words when we talk to others and when we talk about others. May we be known for being gracious and kind, yet truthful, with our words.

Donuts for Pushups

For secondary chapel this week, we did a re-enactment of this classic story. Mr. Long, our Vice Principal, played the role of Brother Christianson and Ryan Gilmour, a grade 12 student, played the part of Steve. (The story will be included at the end of this post.)

Mr. Long placed some staging in the center of the multi-purpose room to portray Mt. Calvary and Ryan placed a table on top of the staging so that every eye in the room could see him as he was lifted up. Dr. Klaue provided Timbits for every student and staff member in the gym.

Mr. Long then offered everyone, one at a time, the opportunity to eat a donut. He called up each person and asked them to state, into the microphone, whether or not he or she would accept the donut. Each person could either accept or reject the offered donut, but the pushups still had to be paid. For every donut, Ryan had to pay four pushups. As can be imagined, a secondary chapel with staff is approximately 150 people, so four pushups per person leads to 600 pushups in total. Needless to say, Ryan was not able to complete all the pushups, but did manage to pay over 200 of the total 600 pushups. He has promised to pay the missing pushups within the next seven days.

Many people accepted the donuts, but many passed them by.  As we think about the offer of salvation that Christ paid for, many have accepted that offer but many, also, have refused that gift.

This chapel clearly conveyed the fact that our salvation was bought with a price and that it cost Christ’s all to pay the price.

Enjoy the story….

There was a boy by the name of Steve who was attending school in Utah. In this school Seminary classes are held during school hours.  Brother Christianson taught Seminary at this particular school.  He had an open-door policy and would take in any student that had been thrown out of another class as long as they would abide by his rules. Steve had been kicked out of his sixth period and no other teacher wanted him, so he went into Brother Christianson’s Seminary class.

Steve was told that he could not be late, so he arrived just seconds before the bell rang and he would sit in the very back of the room. He would also be the first to leave after the class was over.

One day, Brother Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him.  After class, Bro. Christianson pulled Steve aside and said, “You think you’re pretty tough, don’t you?”

Steve’s answer was, “Yeah, I do.”

Then Brother Christianson asked, “How many push-ups can you do?”

Steve said, “I do about 200 every night.”

“200?  That’s pretty good, Steve,” Brother Christianson said.  “Do you think you could do 300?”

Steve replied, “I don’t know…  I’ve never done 300 at a time.”

“Do you think you could?” Again asked Brother Christianson.

“Well, I can try,” said Steve.

“Can you do 300 in sets of 10?  I need you to do 300 in sets of ten for this to work.  Can you do it?  I need you to tell me you can do it,” Brother Christianson said. Steve said, “Well…  I think I can…  yeah, I can do it.”

Brother Christianson said, “Good!  I need you to do this on Friday.”

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, Brother Christianson pulled out a big box of donuts. Now these weren’t the normal kinds of donuts,
they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls.  Everyone was pretty excited-it
was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend.

Bro. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, “Cynthia, do you want a donut?”

Cynthia said, “Yes.”

Bro. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?”

Steve said, “Sure,” and jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk.

Bro. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia’s desk.

Bro. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, “Joe do you want a donut?”

Joe said, “Yes.”  Bro. Christianson asked, “Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?”
Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut.

And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten pushups for every person before they got their
donut.

And down the second aisle, till Bro. Christianson came to Scott.

Scott was captain of the football team and center of the basketball team. He was very popular and never
lacking for female companionship.  When Bro. Christianson asked, “Scott do you want a donut?”

Scott’s reply was, “Well, can I do my own pushups?”

Bro. Christianson said, “No, Steve has to do them.”

Then Scott said, “Well, I don’t want one then.”

Bro. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten pushups so Scott can have a
donut he doesn’t want?”

Steve started to do ten pushups.  Scott said, “HEY! I said I didn’t want one!”

Bro. Christianson said, “Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and my donuts.  Just leave it on
the desk if you don’t want it.”  And he put a donut on Scott’s desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little.  He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down.  You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.  Bro. Christianson started down the third row.  Now the students were beginning to get a little angry.

Bro. Christianson asked Jenny, “Jenny, do you want a donut?”

Jenny said, “No.”

Then Bro. Christianson asked Steve, “Steve,would you do ten pushups so Jenny can have a donut that she
doesn’t want?”  Steve did ten, Jenny got a donut.

By now, the students were beginning to say “No” and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks.
Steve was also having to really put forth a lot of effort to get these pushups done for each donut.

There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.

Bro. Christianson asked Robert to watch Steve to make sure he did ten pushups in a set because he couldn’t
bear to watch all of Steve’s work for all of those uneaten donuts.  So Robert began to watch Steve
closely. Bro. Christianson started down the fourth row.

During his class, however, some students had wandered in and sat along the heaters along the sides of the
room.  When Bro. Christianson realized this; he did a quick count and saw 34 students in the room.  He
started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Bro. Christianson went on to the next person and the  next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve
was really having a rough time.  He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.

Steve asked Bro. Christianson, “Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?”

Bro. Christianson thought for a moment, “Well, they’re your pushups. You can do them any way that you
want.”

And Bro. Christianson went on.

A few moments later, Jason came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled, “NO!
Don’t come in!  Stay out!”

Jason didn’t know what was going on.  Steve picked up his head and said, “No, let him come.”

Bro. Christianson said, “You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten pushups for him.”

Steve said, “Yes, let him come in.”

Bro. Christianson said, “Okay, I’ll let you get Jason’s out of the way right now.  Jason, do you
want a donut?”

“Yes.”

“Steve, will you do ten pushups so that Jason can have a donut?” Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great effort.  Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.

Bro. Christianson finished the fourth row, then started on those seated on the heaters.  Steve’s arms were now shaking with each pushup in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity.  Sweat was dropping off of his face and, by this time, there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two girls in the room were cheerleaders and very popular. Bro. Christianson went to Linda,
the second to last, and asked, “Linda, do you want a doughnut?

Linda said, very sadly, “No, thank you.”

Bro. Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten pushups so that Linda can have a donut she
doesn’t want?”

Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow pushups for Linda. Then Bro. Christianson turned to
the last girl, Susan. “Susan, do you want a donut?”

Susan, with tears flowing down her face, asked, “Bro. Christianson , can I help him?”

Bro. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, “No, he has to do it alone, Steve, would you do ten
pushups so Susan can have a donut?”

As Steve very slowly finished his last pushup, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that
was required of him, having done 350 pushups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Brother Christianson turned to the room and said. “And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ,
plead to the Father, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.” With the understanding that He had done
everything that was required of Him, he collapsed on the cross and died.  And like some of those in this
room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten. 

 

Broken-Window Theory

I was talking with my wife earlier this week and our conversation ended up reviewing how large (significant) change happens when very small changes are made. I remembered reading something about this and ended up finding it in Chuck Colson’s How Now Shall We Live?

On p.364, Colson states, “[George Kelling and James Q. Wilson] discovered that if a broken window in a building is left unrepaired, soon all the windows are knocked out. Why? Because damage left untended sends a message that no one cares, that no one is in charge, and that further vandalism will incur no penalty. A single broken window soon attracts the kind of people who will smash more windows. Likewise, a city that allows pockets of public disorder, starting with graffiti and litter, sends a message that authorities are either unwilling or unable to enforce standards of behavior – to control their space and their citizens. And once a city sends that message, law-abiding citizens leave, and the criminal element is attracted – exactly the cycle that has ravaged America’s major cities.

In the early 1990s, New York Police Chief William Bratton took the broken-window theory to heart and persuaded New York’s newly elected mayor and ex-prosecutor Rudolph Guiliani to give the theory a try. The order went out to police in Precincts 69 and 75 and to Brooklyn…to ‘fix broken windows’ – that is, to arrest petty offenders and clean up the neighborhoods. The police adopted a policy of zero tolerance for any violation of public order, and in the process they soon discovered that there is indeed a ‘seamless web’ between controlling petty crime and restraining major crime. Whereas before they had ignored turnstile jumping at subways, officers now nabbed the offenders, who, as often as not, turned out to be muggers. Whereas before they had turned a blind eye to minor traffic violations, they now stopped all traffic violators, which often led to the discovery of drugs and guns in the cars. They chased away loiterers and panhandlers, many of whom were drug dealers looking for a sale. In three years in Precinct 75, once one of the most dangerous places in America, the number of homicides dropped from 129 to 47.”

What does this have to do with SCS? I guess the key message from the above paragraphs is that when you deal with the small things, the big issues never really have a chance to develop. Another way of putting it is that when small issues are dealt with right away, they never have a chance to fester and increase in size or severity.

This principle can be applied to many situations. For example, when there is a conflict between a parent and a teacher, the first step is for the parent and that teacher to talk (and, rather than starting with accusations or assumptions, start with the premise that both parties want what is best for the student. Seek understanding and clarification and resolution.) If they can’t resolve it, take it to the next level. In other words, follow the pattern as laid out in Matthew 18.

A second area has to do with dress code (which we are currently in process of revising). If all staff deal with all infractions right away, the problem stays small. This issue only gets worse if there is sporadic enforcement as students can then play off one staff member against the other.

A third issue has to do with assignment completion. If parents ensure that all assignments are completed on a daily basis, then the student doesn’t start to fall behind. It is when a student falls behind too far that frustration sets in and behavioral issues start.

A fourth issue has to do with the cleanliness of the facilities. If everyone, staff and students and parents, pick up the little bits of garbage as they come upon them, the school stays clean and tidy. (I’ve had numerous compliments from outsiders as to how clean and tidy the school is; thanks custodians!).

I’m sure there are many other ways in which we can apply this principle. It may be in the expectations teachers have for their students or in how we represent the school in the outside community. It could be in how we treat those around us (whether or not we smile or scowl). Thinking about this principle has certainly caused me to reflect on what I can do to contribute to significant change.

Bibliography.

Colson, C. and Pearcey, N. (1999). How now shall we live? Wheaton: Ill. Tyndale Publishers.