Saturday, May 26, 2012

Free To Speak

On this Memorial Day Weekend, we celebrate those brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. I think of my own grandfather (WWI) and father (WWII) who understood that freedom was not free. Perhaps one of our greatest freedoms in American is the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment. Have you thought about prayer as freedom of speech? Praying is to me, the highest form of speech. The thought that we can enter into the very throne room of God and be heard is incredible. Prayer is the highest form of speech and is protected well above the laws of man, but it is so comforting to know that in a great country like America, our founding fathers knew that we needed protection. On this Memorial Day Weekend, I would like to recommend the absolute best resource for understanding the freedom of speech in light of prayer and bible study. Gateways to Better Education has produced an excellent resource pamphlet, FREE to Speak with the US DOE guidelines in an attractive and easy to understand format.  I love having small seminars and spending a good part diving deeper into this small, but powerful guideline because we are so misinformed in our public schools that just the mention of prayer closes doors.

According to the US DOE, "Students organize prayer groups, religious clubs, and 'See You at the Pole' gatherings before school to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other non-curricular student activities groups.  Such groups must be given the same access to school facilities for assembling as is given to other non-curricular groups, without discrimination because of their religious content of their expression."  In other words, if there is an intramural team, a chess club or any other groups that meets on campus, then students may start a Bible Club, prayer group or any other religious meeting.  It needs to be student-led, but teacher sponsored.

There is a small fee for printing these little booklets from Gateways to Better Education, but I am that impressed with the impact that the seven guidelines define that I would buy them for you if you wanted to share.  Please do not hesitate to contact me at to take me up on the offer.  Freedom is not free, but the freedom of speech, especially prayer, is worth fighting for.  May God bless you and the memory of your family members who gave their lives that we may be free.

Prayerfully yours,

Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Honor the Graduates

At the 14th annual “Honor the Graduates” ceremony, fourteen graduating seniors from seven high schools in St. Johns County, FL received highest honors from the local Christian Educators Association. The highlight of the program was hearing testimonials from the students about their Christian walk through high school.  Being a Christian educator in the public schools has its own challenges, but can you imagine what it must be like to live out your faith as a student today? The selection process was actually made by the students themselves. The St. Johns CEAI network contacted the high school sponsors of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) or other student-led Christian club and the sponsor presents the selection process over to the students.  Each year one or two (an occasionally three) students who exemplify their walk with Christ are chosen from among their peers at each high school. Can you imagine what an honor and encouragement that must be that students your own age see Christ in you?  Each student has an opportunity to speak about his or her walk, his/her plans for the future and give a testimonial to how God has graced their lives. It was very evident that some of them have already had great loss in their lives and have overcome only through the mercy, grace and peace of a loving God. Each understood that although high school was just one small part of their lives, they committed before parents, teachers and the community to live a life under God. All but one were going on to colleges that included Moody Bible Institute, Liberty University, the University of West Florida, UCF, FAU, Florida Christian College, UNF, Auburn and more. One female graduate, who had been through 4 years of the IB program, was becoming a Marine! Each graduate received a certificate, medallion and $100 cash.

The master of ceremonies, Lou Greco, described Christian Educators main role in St. Johns County was to pray for the students, teachers, administrators and school community. “We pray, that’s what we do,” described Greco.  The event has been the culminating activity of the local CEAI network after meeting two other times during the school year – once for a prayer breakfast at the beginning of the school year, and at a January luncheon.  The teachers donated small amounts of their own money at the first two events to fund “Honor the Graduates.” This award of integrity has become one of the highest honors at graduation throughout the county.  In attendance were previous award winners, the superintendent of schools, board members, teachers, school staff and family.  After all the student spoke, they were bathed in prayer by the attendees who gathered around them with a benediction from Rev. Wesley Slough, pastor of the Switzerland Community Church who hosted the event.

What does this have to do with the 16-9 Movement? Knowing the first 16 words of the First Amendment is vital. (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…) “Congress” – the public school – was not involved in the creation or selection of the recipients of the award nor was it held on school grounds. Christian Educators, a professional association for public, charter and private school educators organized and supported the event. As for the “9” Fruit of the Spirit, (Galatians 5:22-23 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law,) it was apparent to all that these students exemplified a way of life that encouraged us all to “Just Be!”

For more information and support to begin an “Honor the Graduates” program in your district, please contact Karen C. Seddon at  As Lou Greco stated, “We pray, that’s what we do!”

Prayerfully yours,

Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The National Day of Prayer

Today is the 61st annual day of national prayer for our nation.  I thought that it would be powerful to look at two proclamations by our presidents Abraham Lincoln and Barak Obama.  It is our hope that you are in daily prayer for your students, colleagues, administrators and school communities.

Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day
Washington, D.C.
March 30, 1863
Senator James Harlan of Iowa, whose daughter later married President Lincoln's son Robert, introduced this Resolution in the Senate on March 2, 1863. The Resolution asked President Lincoln to proclaim a national day of prayer and fasting. The Resolution was adopted on March 3, and signed by Lincoln on March 30, one month before the fast day was observed.
By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.
And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.
All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

       National Day of Prayer, 2012
Prayer has always been a part of the American story, and today countless Americans rely on prayer for comfort, direction, and strength, praying not only for themselves, but for their communities, their country, and the world.
On this National Day of Prayer, we give thanks for our democracy that respects the beliefs and protects the religious freedom of all people to pray, worship, or abstain according to the dictates of their conscience. Let us pray for all the citizens of our great Nation, particularly those who are sick, mourning, or without hope, and ask God for the sustenance to meet the challenges we face as a Nation. May we embrace the responsibility we have to each other, and rely on the better angels of our nature in service to one another. Let us be humble in our convictions, and courageous in our virtue. Let us pray for those who are suffering around the world, and let us be open to opportunities to ease that suffering.
Let us also pay tribute to the men and women of our Armed Forces who have answered our country's call to serve with honor in the pursuit of peace. Our grateful Nation is humbled by the sacrifices made to protect and defend our security and freedom. Let us pray for the continued strength and safety of our service members and their families. While we pause to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice defending liberty, let us remember and lend our voices to the principles for which they fought -- unity, human dignity, and the pursuit of justice.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 3, 2012, as a National Day of Prayer. I invite all citizens of our Nation, as their own faith directs them, to join me in giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy, and I call upon individuals of all faiths to pray for guidance, grace, and protection for our great Nation as we address the challenges of our time.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

Prayerfully yours,

Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.