Christian Education from the Cradle to the Grave

Historically and traditionally, among the Hebrews, the real center of education was the home. In short, Jewish education is homework! Ancient Israel had a limited system of formal education for children. Hence, the home was the center of education and the major source of learning. The parents played the key role in instructing children. Life itself became the child’s school and the family the primary education institution. Swift (1919) concurs, “Throughout the entire history of the Hebrews the family was regarded as the fundamental educational institution”.


Religious education does not isolate one age group or season of life, but should be from the cradle to the grave. The emphasis in this lesson is on childhood education. The author’s cultural setting involves global missions, specifically in the area of Bible college education. Bible school faculty can be instrumental in promoting, preparing and proclaiming Christian education in local church settings. Additionally the principles derived in this lesson extend to the Bible school classroom and are applicable there as well. Education should begin at the earliest age possible. But it is considered life-long: 

The early Hebrews stressed the idea of education as a continual process to be carried on literally from the cradle to the grave functioning at all times and in all places. For the Hebrews, education was definitely a lifelong affair and did not cease with graduation. Every Hebrew, be he rich or poor, young or old, was obligated to study the Torah every day. (Schoeman, 1997, 422).

A Jewish father would take his baby and dip his finger in honey and place it in the baby’s mouth. This reinforced that God’s Word is sweet. It became second nature—like the air one breathes. It’s always there.  However, these words were strange in the midst of cultures that worshipped hundreds of gods.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6: 4-9, ESV).

This section of God’s Word, called the Shema, speaks directly to the family. It was to be observed in every aspect of life, taught diligently to children, and reinforced with constant reminders. God’s Word was to be continually in the midst of the family. The Shema or “Hear, O Israel” was used in both morning and evening prayers. It echoed the monotheistic message that God is One. As soon as a child began to speak, he was taught to repeat the words of the Shema. The verses (or at least the first several words) were the last words used before dying and in times of danger.

Gordon Dryden and Dr. Jeannette Vos (1999) in their book The Learning Revolution explained, “Fifty percent of a child’s ability to learn is developed in the first four years of life. This makes parents the world’s most important educators” (31).

The NIV translates verse 7 as “Impress them on your children.” Small children are like wet cement. It is easier to make a lasting impression. Older children become like dried cement. It is more difficult to make an impression. The mold has been cast. When should Christian education begin? Now!

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On Grabbing the Pen Again – Guest Post by Melinda Poitras

Were you to open my journal you would see it all throughout. You could not fail to notice all of the places where the stiff necked soldiered lines of proper words standing at attention turn to jagged, fluid flops of gibberish. What formerly held the promise of prose slumps off into scribble. The thoughts I have been rushing to ink out onto paper are cut short. The paragraphs I meant to pile up into pleasing turns of phrase have turned another direction entirely.


Because a tiny hand keeps grabbing hold of my pen.

I could take it back. I could pry that pen straight out of those pudgy hands by force of my own superior prowess.

But I don’t.

Instead, I teach her how to pass it back to me.

I am in control. I can give commands but I with all my power, I wait with open hands.


She tries to create for herself. Even now. Even early. She tries to create while she cannot possibly comprehend what she is crafting. She scribbles for a little while, observes her craft and then, weary of her writing work she hands me back the pen. And that, that very instant is the moment when I with all my knowledge can begin to write again.

I write words beyond her imagining. Words she cannot possibly begin to understand.

The story begins to make sense once more, when the pen is in my hand.

It is this mystery miraculous that He who crafted space waits for us to make room for Him.

He sits enthroned on high, yet we can knock Him off of the throne of our hearts any time we feel like it.

He created time, and sometimes we manage to spare a bit for Him.

He can chase the east wind at the speed of light but He waits with wild tenacity for us to be willing to walk with Him.

It is a mystery miraculous, this mystery miracle love.

As you go on in my journal you will smile much now and then when you see all of the places that she grabbed the pen again.

But greater still the times she placed it back into my hands, so I could write the harder words, so I could etch out plans.

She will grow. And she will know that all the time it seemed

That I took from her

That I cheated her

And did it with a smile

On every page

At every age

I was writing all the while

The rhyming and the rhythm of things she’s never dreamed.

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The Theology of Instant or Real Potatoes

Imagine you’ve gone to a restaurant that boasts of southern cooking. You order pork chops and mashed potatoes. How would you feel when you find out they actually served you instant mashed potatoes?

What is the difference between real mashed potatoes and the instant variety? What’s the big deal anyway?

I mean when you make mashed potatoes you peel, cook them in boiling water, drain the water, add butter/margarine, then use a potato masher to produce the perfect mashed potatoes. Sounds like a lot of work.

Read some of the things I’ve learned in my expansive Google search about instant potatoes and see if you can relate them to a discussion on true versus false teachers, real versus unreal Christianity…

Instant Potatoes boast:

  1. Only real potatoes match their taste.
  2. Come out of a box. (Many false teaching come out of the empty box of someone’s head rather than firmly found in God’s Word).
  3. Tried a variety over the years and knew instantly they were not real mashed potatoes. (When you know the real thing the counterfeit or the unreal is easier to determine).
  4. Smell just like baked potatoes when you put your nose in the box. (I’ll leave that to your imagination).
  5. It is easy to prepare.
  6. Because our facilities are located in Idaho our products provide unparalleled appearance, aroma, and flavor.
  7. My husband tells me they are as good as cooking your own potatoes and can’t see why he or I should stand in the kitchen peeling potatoes when neither of us can tell the difference. (Perhaps, nothing theological here, just marital psychology. Husbands will say almost anything to get out of work especially on Saturday).
  8. Think how much potatoes cost in the market and then how inexpensive the instant potatoes are. Save time and money. (Some religions are cheap, easy, and of the instant variety, but do they stand the test of eternity?)
  9. One lady wrote, “I cheat a little…” I guess so. (I imagine that could be the testimony of many a false teacher or preacher. Cheating a little, subtracting a little, or changing a little of God’s Word could be detrimental to both the changer and the follower).
  10. “There is a way to eat instant mashed potatoes so that it tastes like the real thing. Use twice-diluted sweetened condensed milk in place of the water called for in the recipe on the package. Then use twice-diluted evaporated milk for the milk ingredient.” (You’ve probably guessed my thinking here is with the “twice-diluted.” Beware of any teaching that is obviously “twice-diluted” and waters down the Word).
  11. They can be an inexpensive alternative in areas where fresh potatoes are scarce. (Don’t look for the alternative. Go for the real. It may take a lifetime of discipline and obedience but ends up in an eternity of joyful bliss and blessing).
  12. One place called them “speedy spuds.” (Matches right up there with goofy gospel. If it rushes through and jumps over the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ or repentance, baptism, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost it isn’t a gospel).
  13. Most people cannot tell the difference between real mashed potatoes and the dehydrated potato flakes that come in a box or bag. (Study the Word. Stick to the Word. Listen to the Word. You will be able to tell the difference between the real and counterfeit; true and false).
  14. You can enhance the recipe for instant mashed potatoes to make them taste almost as good as the real thing. (Adding to the Word; taking away from the Word; check out the consequences).
  15. Instant potatoes have an excellent shelf-life when stored in a cool, dry environment. (Following false teaching and preaching has a deplorable, wretched, shelf life and it couldn’t possibly be described as a “cool, dry environment”).
  16. I used to hate instant potatoes but I think the technology has improved and I can’t taste the difference anymore. (Be careful of the technology and presentation of things you hear and see. Flashy could be an indicator of false. Not always, but often).
  17. “The only way I’ve ever eaten them is the instant kind so I can’t really tell the difference…I would like to try making mashed potatoes…Hopefully, after that, I won’t dislike instant mashed potatoes because they’re just so convenient to make. It’s pretty tough for most people to tell the difference, unless they eat a lot of mashed potatoes on a regular basis.” (Come into constant contact with the real thing. Encounter the truth. Love the truth. Stay faithful to the truth. You’ll never enjoy the false and fake again).
  18. I like them better than real mashed potatoes…they have come a long way from the pasty mashed potatoes of the past…
  19. “The little blob that comes with frozen dinners is pretty pitiful, watery, and taste like nothing.” If it tastes long nothing. If it looks like nothing. If it sounds like nothing. It probably is just that—nothing).
  20. “Well, my step son and I actually like instant mashed potatoes, because they are smooth, they are fast to make and they fill you up like real potatoes.” (Just because it gives you that feel-good religious warmth in your heart doesn’t measure up to a life that is totally and radically changed by obedience to the gospel).

Note that during the process of this investigation, comparison, or writing no instant or real potato was used, abused, damaged, injured, impaired, or upset.

Although insight was taken from a Google search this was not meant to verify or deny the viability, reliability, or validity of instant potatoes as appropriate sources of dietary nourishment. Neither is it meant to imply that salvation and the work of the Spirit cannot be instant, speedy, or quick.

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