Families Honoring Christ

"It is better to grow a child than to repair a man."
Earl & Diane Rodd 2180 Northland Ave. Lakewood,OH 44107 USA Phone (216) 521-8856

Dear Friends,

The months since our last FHC letter have seen busy times, times of seeking the Lord's plan in our family, and times of awe at the goodness of the Lord in answering prayer faithful to His Word!

One preacher, a man of many years in the Lord, recently stated that the greatest danger to the church is legalism. He stated that the older he grows, the more firm he is in this assessment. He compared the harshness of Paul's words for the Galatians (legalists) to the Corinthians (fleshly). As Christian home educators, we have worked hard at moving away from traditions of men to make our children disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. This has involved searching the scriptures for God's methods of training and instruction and being in this world but not of it. Whenever we expend a lot of effort in breaking away from traditions or lawlessness in our own lives, we enter the danger of imposing new laws on ourselves, our children, and others. Furthermore, we face a common "second generation" problem - incorporating a discipline, lifestyle, or form of service into our lives at the direction of the Holy spirit yet passing on the form (flesh) to our children without the Spirit. Our desire is to do nothing to hinder the work of God on earth according to what was purchased by Jesus on the cross.

All Things are Lawful,

Not All Things are Profitable

Our title comes from statements by Paul explaining that while there are things which are lawful, they may not be profitable.

I Corinthians 6:12
13. All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.

I Corinthians 10:23
24. All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.

This teaches us that there is more to the Christian life than a set of rules of what we can and cannot do. Rather, we need to press on to the best that God has for us. Note Philippians 4 :8

Philippians 4:8
9. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.

Then we are encouraged to press on:

Philippians 3:12
13. Not that I have already obtained {it}, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
14. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of {it} yet; but forgetting what {lies} behind and reaching forward to what {lies} ahead,
15. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

We have two specific applications of this principle to Christian home education and training.

1. Literature/Fiction

Beyond a motive to avoid what is bad (books with foul language, which glorify witchcraft and the occult, which glorify crime and illicit sex etc.) is a motive to not use time on something which is "OK" when the time could be used for something which is positively good!

We have retained a caution about how much fiction is included in our educational / training diet. Good fiction is certainly "lawful," but is it always "profitable?" To us, a great challenge of the Christian faith is purging unbelief from our soul and spirit. Fiction leads us to live in two separate the make believe world where everything works out and the "real" world where our unbelief takes over, and we accept sin, sickness, spiritual defeat and fall far short of believing the amazing promises which are ours through Jesus' purchase on the cross. Earl was recently challenged with the words, "The Heavenly Father did not let His son die on a cross so that a steadily worsening world could swallow and destroy His church!" Fiction can be used to illustrate this. Let us consider Frank Peritti's novels beginning with This Present Darkness . These illustrate one man's expression of spiritual warfare. However, at the end, we know that it is a made up story carrying no force of testimony. Compare this to reading of true testimonies of the Lord's works, whether in the Bible or church history, or the present day. Perhaps, excessive reading of fiction leads us to put the incredible, difficult to swallow, statements of scripture into the same mental compartment as fiction!

2. Isolation from the World

Christian home educators have begun by recognizing that home education means that:

Beyond the basics of home education, Christian home educators have considered to what extent their children should be in contact with other children and other forms of contact with the world. Examples of areas of consideration are:

In addition to the Scripture quoted earlier, Jesus gave us an overall set of guidelines in the Scripture,

John 17:14
15. "I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world , even as I am not of the world.
16. "I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil {one.}
17. "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
18. "Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth.
19. "As Thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

We believe parents need to clarify decisions by thinking through theology and its application to motives for varied degrees of isolation. Before continuing, we must establish the principle that the age of our children makes a crucial difference. While a 6 year old requires careful nurture and protection from evil influences, older children mature into being able to enter the outside world as salt and light until, as mature adults, they establish their own households and families.

We see two kinds of motives for isolation of children from the world around them:

  1. One motive is to keep sin from touching our children at all. The thinking here may be that the only way our children learn about sin is from other children or other outside influences. This thinking ignores the doctrine of original sin. Sin comes not only from exposure to sin in others but from the sin nature! This motive can ignore the existence of original sin. Sin comes not just from exposure to sin but from sin nature. It is a deception to think that other children are the only source of sin. Remember "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child" and "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."

    Excessive isolation from the outside world may in fact cover up the sin nature and lack of submission to Christ since the child's internal rebellion may have so little to work with that parents are lulled into a false sense of security. Of course, this logic is a two-edged sword because isolation from bad influences may certainly protect sin from gaining too strong a foothold during a time when the child is working out his repentance and the submission of his will to the will of the Father in heaven.

    Balance and discernment are needed because we want to expose our children to much of God's world and prepare them to "go into all the world."

  2. A second motive for controlled isolation is similar to our thinking with literature, to avoid using valuable time in worthless activities. Furthermore, many exposures to sin are not only a waste of valuable time and effort which could be used for something better, but may require further time and resource to overcome the pollution of the soul and spirit. For example, if a child is exposed to a peer situation with teasing, then time must be spent in overcoming the temptations to be bitter or to imitate the behavior. Furthermore, evil things we have seen and heard clutter the purity of mind and spirit - purity which opens the door to spiritual growth and power.

    Thus our motive here is not to stop sin from occurring, because original sin does exist, but to avoid unnecessary fertile ground for that sin and to avoid wasting valuable time which God has ordained for - "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things."

God's Law - What Is It?

The scripture encourages us that a primary objective of our training of children is to teach them God's law:

Deuteronomy 6:6
7. "And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart;
8. and you shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up.
9. "And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.

One of the wonders of the New Covenant is God's promise that He will write His laws on our hearts! The writer of Hebrews quotes the prophet Jeremiah

Hebrews 8:10
11. "\For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel\ \I will put My laws into their minds\, \And I will write them upon their hearts\. \And I will be their God\, \And they shall be My people\.
12. "\And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen\, \And everyone his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,\' \For all shall know Me\, \From the least to the greatest of them\.

Hebrews 8:13
14. When He said, "A new {covenant}," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

(Note that Jesus also mentions part of this prophecy with regard to the instruction of the Lord: "It is written in the prophets, '\And they shall all be taught of God\.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me" John 6 :45.

Now the question is, "What law will be written on our hearts?" Knowing our call as parents to train our children in God's ways, we do not want to be found working contrary to the expressed promise of God for what He has declared He will teach!

An answer delivered in the Bible is found in Romans,

Romans 8:2
3. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

A challenge in dealing with this law is that it is not a law which can be memorized by rote out of a book. It cannot be learned by drill. It is a law involving relationship with living beings, the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and us. Like the Galatians, our temptation is to begin in the Spirit, and in our zeal to conform to the will of God, turn to works of the law for our salvation:

Galatians 3:1
2. You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed {as} crucified?
3. did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
4. Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus enables us to love God and all men as Jesus commanded.

Diane and I have recently found ourselves spending time reading our book and some pamphlets (e.g. Anger). I was glued to the chapter on promises. Then one evening I was blessed with the stark reality of the truth that these promises are actually true! Sometimes it is good to preach to yourself what you preach to others because you are the one who really needs to hear it! Our family continually confronts the truth that without the active intervention of the living God, we are lost. No matter how correct our educational program, no matter how correct our disciplinary methods, no matter how correct our family methods, we cannot cause a person to have a relationship with Jesus apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. I am humbled whenever I think that without God's direct intervention, the church will die in a generation because no one can be born again except by the Spirit of God.

Guarding From Deception

We are all concerned about the danger of being deceived. Many of us have either followed or been tempted to follow a man or movement which turned out to fall far short of the Kingdom of God. For my part, I am awed by the grace of God in this area of false prophets. We have had encounters with some strange things over the years, some quite subtle ranging from being invited into a cult meeting thinking it was Christian :sup. 1 :esup. to "popular" tapes of false prophets later exposed as such :sup. 2 :esup. . Other than the pure grace of God, the one thing I can point to as a protection is a knowledge of God's Word from reading the Bible. Reading the Bible from end to end gives a perspective that is hard to obtain any other way. Some things are just not in one verse even though they are clear in whole books or the whole Bible. This is why we do not get overly concerned about Bible translations. Yes, from our study and the study of men we respect, we have preferences (obvious by what we quote) for translations for reading and study (of course, it would make sense to just learn Greek and Hebrew and forget about the difficulties of translation), but we also know that reading Taylor's paraphrased "Living Bible" provides more truth than the most careful translation lying dusty on the shelf. Most people tend to gravitate to the more precise translations over time. Our most dramatic case of this phenomena came when we taught a neighborhood Bible study to a group of children who lived in a housing project near us - we began using our normal Bible and then one day decided to use the "Good News" Bible. Suddenly lights starting going off as the children (ages 6-16, most with terrible educations) actually understood the words. In later months, many read it personally - one girl took the Bible to school to show a teacher specifically why she could not participate in an English class study of astrology. Our closest encounter with error came when we lived in Australia. I really wanted to join a certain group because of the tremendous commitment in evidence. It was a very special group of people truly seeking the Kingdom. However, there always seemed to be something not quite right - in the end that whole stream of the Body of Christ unraveled with the exposure of sin at the top. The tragedy was that so many good people were really hurt. The thing that never seemed quite right was a "tightness" and rigidity about families even though there was apparently good teaching about family. But in the end, it turned out that families were not taught to be sustained in the Lord but to be dependent on the structure of man. When it unraveled, many were left without strong roots of their own. Again, the only thing I can point too is knowing God's Word and His grace for good teaching from a variety of sources. It was a "special group of people" who were tragically mis-handled by men lusting for things of this world.

I think a second principle is to seek to glean the truth being taught and lived in various parts of the Body of Christ. God gives each of us different callings, and we can learn much from each other. This seems to help us avoid being ensnared by a false prophet who pushes just the right "button" in us.


1. We were invited to a meeting by a business associate in another city who told us that his "pastor" was going to be in the city where we lived. It was a strange meeting with a version of the Christmas story which was very intellectual and full of allegory. Something was very amiss. In discussions later, we learned that these people did not accept Paul's writings. The discussions got interesting - I think we interrupted their Christmas gathering! When we got home, we called our pastor and described the evening and he said it sounded like something called "Swedenborgism." We looked this up in Walter Martin's book and found a very accurate description. 2. One summer, we were given a tape by a man named Todd (John Todd as I recall) which had been played at a summer youth camp. He presented himself as a former witch who had turned to Christ. The tape gave some of his story and continued by casting dispersions on many Christians by claiming they were witches in disguise. We did not accept the tape largely because he seemed to claim that the devil had more power than Jesus. He also gloried in how he had murdered with impunity due to his connections among witches. He seemed without repentance for murder. Later, his true story came out in major Christian magazines. He did have an encounter with the Lord (was he "saved"? The Lord is the judge) and immediately hit the speaking circuit among pentecostals and charismatics. His behavior towards the young girls in churches soon lost him this audience. He gained another year of popularity turning to anti-charismatics with a message of how the charismatics were witches sent to infiltrate churches. However, his continuing behavior towards the young girls soon lost him favor among all.

Allow the Children to Come

Jesus was confronted with the desire, common today, to get rid of the children so that the "real" work of the kingdom could progress. He responded as follows:

Luke 18:15
16. And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He might touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they {began} rebuking them.
17. But Jesus called for them, saying, " Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Can we think of our family as a "Kingdom of priests unto our God?" Even including the children? We believe that one stumbling block to seeing our family unit as a Kingdom of priests is the historical, Old Covenant, split of clergy and laity. The New Testament is clear that Jesus is the one high priest, the only mediator between the Father and man! Still, men have and continue to find ways to set up special classes of people who stand between us and God. The New Covenant applies "from the least to the greatest of them." (Hebrews 8 :11) The words used for "laity" and "clergy" do not even support the dividing wall that is often placed between classes of men and between men and God. The word "layman" in the Bible is used a number of times in the Law of Moses. The meaning there is a "stranger" or "outsider." Unfortunately, some church practice treats most believers like strangers or outsiders. The word is also used when describing "strange fire." The word clergy comes from a word used for the "lot" as in the concept of those "allotted to you" (see for example, I Peter 5 :3). There is hardly a sense here of God's having divided people into special classes. Likewise, Jesus includes children in His Kingdom. Each family, as part of the Body of Christ, can minister to the Lord and to other people.

Goats and Computers

Our son Joshua thought of this title as he considered the importance of avoiding legalism. We mention goats and computers because they have little in common with each other besides their popularity in some circles. Many home schoolers have computers and many have goats. Some even have both! Are there good purposes for each. Yes. Are either mandated by Scripture? No. Since we have computers and no goats, we can comment on computers. We advise families to not buy a computer unless they have an identifiable use for one. Just because others have one is not sufficient reason for either goats or computer.

Christian lifestyle is important - God blesses us as we conform all aspects of our thinking and living to His ways. However, He has very few rules and promises to write those on our hearts. Let us remain free of the rules of men.

Computers - Useful for Education?

I have often looked for research into the viability of computers for education. Such research is painstaking and rare. Rather, software producers continue to write slick appealing titles to sell for use with young (mostly very young because the software is easier to write) children. We recently saw some research results summarized in the April 12 edition of the Wall St. Journal on Page B1. The article is entitled, PCs May be Teaching Kids the Wrong Lessons. A companion article is entitled, Some Software Nurtures Creativity but this article is the more typical sales pitch for fancy graphics and does not add any research results.

The main article refers to a Southeast Missouri State University study which reported that "children who used Reader Rabbit (a hot seller) and similar drill programs for six months at their pre-school had a 50% drop in creativity, as measured by a standardized test, with no statistically significant gains in learning how to read." The study also found that "children frequently play these games by randomly clicking on words until they find the right ones or memorizing the story, making it seem as though they are reading. Kids also tend to gravitate toward the least educationally useful aspects of a program when left to navigate on their own."

As we have studied the Bible for Biblical methods of education, we conclude that God has ordained tutorial instruction. Perhaps, if developers of computer education software (this is a wide open field for Christians) focused on working with tutorial instruction instead of trying to replace tutorial instruction, they would be more successful (that is more successful educationally, not financially).

Building a Curriculum

We (and others) have written on the "basics". Perhaps a better way to express ourselves is to focus on how we guide the knowledge, wisdom, and experience we pass on to our children. We are constantly challenged by the need to examine what and how we teach in light of our goal of training our children to be disciples of the Lord Jesus. Our own lives are the starting point as we disciple our children. Then, we consider simple high priorities in what we formally teach.

  1. Reading because we need to read the Bible.
  2. The Bible.
  3. Writing and speaking.
  4. Christian life.

We have encouraged parents to consider why they add each course to their curriculum. If the only reason is that the subject is normally taught in school, then why teach it? A key to our thinking is to consider and expand how much we teach by day to day life (a very Biblical method) such as:

In all things, we want to balance and integrate what we need for living in the world with what we need to be "not of the world."

Yes, use them as tools to support what we want to teach, but do not be driven by them. For some subject matter, for example math, tools such as textbooks seem very necessary. For others, such as health, textbooks are less necessary. We must break our "school" mentality which has our "teacher" still telling us to finish every assignment and never stray from the book. When we see textbooks as tools, then we have the liberty to use all or part of them in the order and at the speed we choose. Also, we can be free to teach purely from experience.

The gravest danger in following traditional textbooks and curricula is falling prey to the "classics" meaning traditional humanistic learning which is based on the Greeks and Romans.

Parents simply should teach their children what they know so that their children are at least as knowledgeable as they are. If there are things they know they should know, but don't, then learn together. But why impose on your children something you consider of so little value that you are not learning it?

Further Reading of Interest

Since many readers are people we do not regularly see and talk too, we realized that some of you might be interested in some of the material we have available. Our book and pamphlets contain material most of which was first published in these letters. The book, Training for Royalty - The Biblical Basis of Home Education is the foundation of everything else. We have pamphlets on Biblical methods of education including:

Other pamphlets consider Christian life for home educators including,

We have a series of pamphlets on dealing with parental ANGER which has recently been expanded.

We also have a HELP packet of basic Biblical Foundations and practical information (e.g. addresses, curriculum ideas) for new home educators and a NOTIFICATION packet for Ohio readers with details of notification in Ohio (how to do it correctly and while avoiding concession to the over-reaching authority of government school officials).

You can write us (send a SASE) for a complete description and price list.

May you fear the Lord, turn away from evil, and love Him! Earl and Diane

Copyright by Earl & Diane Rodd