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Five Stones and a Slingshot

According to Rick Hess, a resident scholar and director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, Common Core standards have roots in President George W. Bush’ No Child Left Behind Act in 2002. Like so many education reform initiatives that seem to arise out of nowhere, Common Core Curriculum is another example of invisible human beings endowed with inordinate power to impose their ideas on public education. If case you were wondering, you can thank the National Governors Association for Common Core Standards. This attempt to re-invent the wheel for public education has left states and students well behind. When you add new curriculum such as the 1619 Project, Critical Race Theory, and White Privilege, America’s history is being erased before our very eyes.

David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of this Philistine; your servant will go out and fight with him. 33 And Saul said to David, You are not able to go to fight against this Philistine. You are only an adolescent, and he has been a warrior from his youth. 34 And David said to Saul, Your servant kept his father’s sheep. And when there came a lion or again a bear and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and smote it and delivered the lamb out of its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard and smote it and killed it, 1 Samuel 18:32-35.

As people and societies evolve, moments arise often via technology to find a faster, more efficient and quicker way of doing things. Instead of focusing on the basics: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, those in charge want to place their own stamp on how things are done. Take for example the passage below as the king and military leader is trying to instruct a shepherd boy on how defeat a giant. Initially, David appeases King Saul, trying on a heavy suit of armor. After moving around, this equipment was too bulky, preventing David from using his agility and quickness. Although the conversation between these two is brief, it appears that David convinces King Saul to let him use what he’s good at. While the odds were against him, David trades in a suit of armor for five stones and a slingshot.

David said, The Lord Who delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Go, and the Lord be with you! 38 Then Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 And David girded his sword over his armor. Then he tried to go, but could not, for he was not used to it. And David said to Saul, I cannot go with these, for I am not used to them. And David took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones out of the brook and put them in his shepherd’s [lunch] bag [a whole kid’s skin slung from his shoulder], in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand, and he drew near the Philistine, 1 Samuel 17:37-40.

In 1993, the Christian artist Wes King released the Robe, one of his best albums. While other songs from this collection receive most of the attention, one struck a chord with my soul. The lyrics of Second String begins with an 8th grade football player whose girl friend is a cheerleader. The only problem is this individual rides the bench, praying to get into the game. The second stanza fast forwards to high school to an embarrassing moment on his first date. The third and final stanza refers back to David’s battle with Goliath. Like a tee ball player who is being over coached by every parent in the crowd, David stops listening to everyone else by turning an attentive ear to God. When push comes to shove, you have to trust in your God given gifts and talents. Although you may be tempted to try something outside your comfort zones, five stones and a slingshot led a shepherd boy into the king’s castle.

by Jay Mankus

When Critics Tear You to Pieces

As an aspiring writer, sometimes you have to go outside of your comfort zone to sharper your skills.  Subsequently, when the opportunity arises, I try to attend local Meet Up groups for writers.  On this evening, the round table of critics I was assigned didn’t hold back any punches.  By the time the critique of my latest screen play was over, I wanted to crawl underneath the table to hide my tears.

 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? – Hebrews 12:7

After this humbling experience brought disappointment, the feedback I received will do one of two things.  First, their criticism could light a fire in my soul to prove each of them wrong.  On the other hand, this devastating blow to my confidence might lead me to give up writing completely.  When the rubber meets the road, you have to dig down deep to see if the pain you endure is worth the journey.  Whenever the critics in life tear you to pieces, consider the cost before you proceed any further.

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid. – Proverbs 12:1

In the end, you have to take another person’s advice with a grain of salt.  Rather, trust in the Lord and lean on His understanding to ascertain God’s will, Proverbs 3:5-6.  Take the good with the bad, considering trials a pure joy so that through it all, you will grow in faith, perseverance and maturity, James 1:2-4.  Therefore, whether your critics love or hate you, take each opinion in stride as you keep your eyes on the Big Guy in the sky.

by Jay Mankus

 

When the Star Saved a Nerd

It was Friday afternoon as high school students began to filter out of the front entrance.  As Tim, the starting quarterback of the football team, began to think of his weekend plans, an unusual site got his attention.  Walking down the main sidewalk, a nerd was trying to carry all of his books home for the weekend, stacked 9 high.  Meanwhile, one by one, other students began to bully and tease this studious boy, causing him to drop his books.  Laughing initially, the second and third time this occurred, Tim became enraged.

Inspired to act, Tim moved out of his comfort zone, introducing himself to this boy with a ghostly face.  Before he finished talking, this nerd faintly responded, “I know who you are, everyone does!”  Feeling awkward, Tim began to make small talk, asking where he lived, how old he was and what he liked to do.  Realizing he lived a few blocks away, Tim suggested, “why don’t I walk you home, I live right around the corner so nobody else gives you a hard time?”  Afraid to reject this offer, they began to pass time in conversation.  As they approached the nerd’s home, Tim humbled himself, asking if his new friend could tutor him in Algebra.  Shocked by this request, this was the beginning of an unique, yet special friendship.

Two years later, this nerd went on to become valedictorian, nominated by Tim to give a speech at graduation.  Shy and afraid, this boy trembled at the podium, staring at his note cards for a moment.  Suddenly, the boy put his cards away, proclaiming, “I can’t do this!”  Sharing from his heart, this nerd dropped a bomb shell on those in attendance.  “Two years ago, I was on my way to commit suicide.  On a Friday afternoon, I brought all my books home so my mom wouldn’t have to clear out my locker.  On my way home, I started thinking about how I was going to do this until a stranger intervened.  Bullied for the last time, I wanted to make these cruel people feel bad.  Yet, Tim stepped in, befriended me and stopped me from carrying out my plan.”   With not a dry eye in the house, this was the day when the star quarterback saved a nerd.

by Jay Mankus

 

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