Sunday, October 28, 2012

Courage, the Most Important Virtue

"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality."  C.S. Lewis in Screwtape Letters

A few weeks ago, John Stonestreet (of the Chuck Colson Center and Summit Ministries) shared with our faculty. As John helped us better understand biblical worldview, he landed on the importance of courage in the lives of our children.

Here are a few of Stonestreet's comments:
* Being human means to be courageous, not just know truth but courageous to use it.
* To raise children to make right decisions and not just know the truth requires courage; "It is by his deeds that a lad makes himself known if his conduct is pure and right" (Proverbs 20:11).
* In the classic virtues, courage allowed the others to exist.
* Children want to be courageous and we offer them video games.
* A biblical worldview makes a right decision when in a tough spot, which takes courage.
* A biblical worldview is not just thought out but is lived out.
* A biblical worldview is not primarily expressed but embodied.

Stonestreet said that, "Dreams do not determine destiny; decisions determine destiny." It is courage that moves dreams and beliefs to decisions and action.

Reepicheep helps Eustace learn courage.
How do we create courage?  

Stonestreet suggests:
* Be aware that everything we do is forming children's souls; all education is worldview shaping.
* Teach habits. He quotes Aristotle: "So it is a matter of no little importance what sort of habits we form from the earliest age--it makes a vast difference, or rather all the difference in the world."
* Shift from entitlement to responsibility.
* Teach children to leave things better than they found them.
* Give children words to use in tough moments.

From the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, John explained how we can create courage in our children. In Dawn Treader, Eustace is a boy with no "chest," a boy who has not trained his emotions and is a victim of his feelings. He knows about ships but has never been on one.  He has never been taught about dragons!

Stonestreet says that children should know two things about dragons:
1. They exist.
2. They can be beaten.

In Dawn Treader, help comes from an unlikely source. Reepicheep, the mouse, has courage. He mentors Eustace. He helps Eustace by stripping away the dragon flesh and shows that Eustace has grown a chest.We need to mentor our children to defeat dragons. And, celebrate their courage.

Stonestreet says that our children must:
1. Know what is true and good (not just right from wrong).
2. Practice what is true and good (weight lifters don't get strong without the practice of lifting weights).
3. Learn and practice repentance, a way to actively follow Jesus with courage instead of being passive.

John Stonestreet
We need to teach our children how to defeat dragons. We need to put them on boats and teach courage so they can put ideas into action.

Thanks to John Stonestreet for his thoughts.

John suggested these sites to help us:
Center for Parent/Youth Understanding
Summit Ministries

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Friday Night Lights

It's football season.
Friday night lights.

What do you do when your game is away and you are a 35 point underdog?
When your opponent is intimidating?
When every player on the other team is stronger and faster?

You play the game.
You keep your head up.
You do what is right in the right way.
You help your opponent get up when he is on the ground.
You know that the scoreboard doesn't show all the ways to lose and win.

Courage makes it possible to go through a game you are likely to lose. And, to go through it well.
It takes more courage to do what is right and do it the right way when the foe is dangerous.
It takes courage to let God walk you through it and  to give the results to Him.

Courage comes from seeing more than the scoreboard and listening to voices other than those against you.
It comes from seeing the unseen, from knowing there is more to life than the game we see and its score.

The writer of Hebrews tells about some game winners in chapter eleven, "And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets--who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promised, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight."

But, he also tells about those who lost in this world: "Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated--of whom the world was not worthy--wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth."

Whether they won on the scoreboard we can see or not, here is what they knew: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation."

"And, without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."

Knowing that God rewards and gives commendation because of faith gives our children the courage to play the ugly game.

Keeping the long term perspective, knowing that doing the right things the right way is more important than the score you can see, our children can face monsters. Keeping their heads up. Showing God's grace and strength in life, no matter what the crowd does or the scoreboard says. Becoming winners for eternity with God's pleasure.

Sometimes there are only two options: run away or face monsters. If we run, we never win, on the scoreboard or for eternity. If we face monsters, sometimes we defeat them, sometimes we don't. But, we always win God's good pleasure when we do the right things, the right way, by faith.