Monthly Archives: March 2015

Happy New Year!! Lessons from Nowruz

In Central Asia and Iran, this past weekend brought the celebration of Nowruz.  Nowruz is the time when Persians and Central Asians have traditionally celebrated the New Year – on the first day of Spring.  Having lived in Central Asia for 15 years, I know that this is one of the most important holidays that is celebrated there – and it has become one of my favorite holidays as well.

Kazakh Dance

There are a couple of things that I love about Nowruz.  One is, to be blunt, Spring is a much better time to celebrate a New Year than in the dead of winter.  Nothing is new on January 1.  Everything is cold. The days are short.  It’s dark when I leave for work and it’s dark when I get home.  There is very little light and very little life.  Dead – not new.

But on the first day of Spring, everything is new.  The sun is up while I am driving to work – and it is still up when I get home.  It is warm enough to go outside and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.  Birds are singing, grass is growing.  Even if we get some snow in March, by the first day of Spring I don’t have to shovel my driveway.  There is light and life again.  In the cycle of the seasons, God reminds us that there is always hope for life and light in Him, even after the dead of winter.  It feels like a New Year.  I love that about Nowruz.

And I also love that Nowruz challenged my worldview.  I used to think that because we celebrate the New Year on January 1 here in America, that is just how it should be – and that was the best and only time to celebrate the New Year.  But Nowruz made me think.  Is January 1 the best time to celebrate the New Year just because somewhere, sometime, someone made a calendar and now our culture tells us that is the New Year?  Or is it better to look at how God has made the world and celebrate the newness of life that comes in Spring?

I still celebrate the New Year in January, just because it’s a tradition for us here in America.  But I don’t love it nearly as much as I love Nowruz.  I love getting to enjoy all of the new things that God is doing in His creation as Spring comes – the life and light of the new season.  I even enjoy having to think critically about my own view of the world, and to challenge myself to see if my thinking is in line with God’s.  I wonder in what other areas we as Americans could challenge our assumptions and the way we think?

May you have a Happy New Year this Spring!!!

Scott Winslow

Chief Operating Officer

Flawless vs. Flawless: The Anatomy of a Song

versusI’ve been listening to MercyMe’s most recent album, Welcome to the New. First of all, what a great album. Tracks like “Shake,” “Greater,” and the title track hit and hit hard. The album is fun, introspective, and challenging. All good. The track that has stuck out the most, however, is called, “Flawless.” As a musician, I love the feel of the melody and the depth of the lyrics, but I also was drawn to the song because there is another really popular song with the exact same name. Beyoncé released a track in 2013, also called “Flawless,” that, while using the same word, is a completely different message.

Here are a few lines from each song:

Excerpt from “Flawless,” by Beyoncé:

I woke up like this/I woke up like this/We flawless, ladies tell ’em/Say I look so good tonight

Excerpt from “Flawless,” by MercyMe:

No matter the bumps/No matter the bruises/No matter the scars/Still the truth is/
The cross has made/The cross has made you flawless 

Beyoncé says you are flawless because you look so good. All you have to do was wake up and the world should give you the respect you deserve. MercyMe, on the other hand, says you are flawless because the cross of Jesus Christ has made it so. You look perfect to Jesus because he created you uniquely and intentionally, and all you have to do is accept His Lordship. All you have to do is wake up and give Jesus your day, listen to the Holy Spirit on your heart, and say yes to his Word. I’m a pretty average looking guy, and my wife could tell you a host of my faults. So based on that, I’ll take option two.

Psalm 49:7-8 says, “No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them – the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough…” And that is Truth. No person – no human – can redeem the life of another. Only perfection can go head to head with corruption. Being flawless cannot be bought with looks, clothes, friends, influence, fame, or simply being good enough. To be flawless means to be without flaw. The Bible is clear that we are all flawed.

Romans 3:23-24 puts these two songs side by side and justly lifts one up as Truth and one up as false – “23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

So today, rest in God’s Truth that the cross alone has made you flawless. Where the world says you have to measure up to a socially agreed upon standard, know that the work has been done, and you are flawless!

In Service,

Mike Allen
Lead Administrator
5th-8th Grade Principal
Evansville Christian School

It’s All About Relationships

its all about relationships

Last week I had one of those days that reminded me of why I became a teacher and why I still love working with other educators. Our faculty and staff gathered for in-service training about relationships and why they matter in education, especially in Christian education. Beyond the lesson plans, the state-mandated testing, the schedules, and the report cards, relationships with responsible adults who care matter the most to students. When students return, even as adults, to talk with their former teachers, it is not to focus on the content of courses they took, but to reminisce about relationships and the way their teachers invested in them.
Teachers led the discussion to learn more about one another and to inspire their colleagues to be vulnerable in sharing practices that build relationships within the school community. Using “Today’s Meet” and Twitter provided an on-going visual discussion throughout the meeting. Testimonies about how teachers lovingly discipline, how they use differentiated strategies to reach all learners, how teachers inspire students to use their gifts of creativity in learning, or how teachers build camaraderie with humor and genuine friendships were shared as evidence of how ECS is already investing in relationships. Highlights of the in-service hour included discussing how to publicly share our stories as part of the ECS community, recognizing teachers and staff by name for the way they are contributing to the mission of our school, and simply taking the time to focus on why relationships matter. As one teacher said, “Keep in mind that you willingness to share your best practices can bring great support to the work of those around you.”
In 2 Corinthians, Paul boldly shared what he had been doing for the gospel, not to bring credit to himself, but to challenge others to stand firm in their faith and to do the work God had set before them.
“We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.” 1 Corinthians 1:24
Now here’s the exciting part. At the end of this hour of training, all staff was challenged to choose three students (or other individuals in the school community) to pray for in the coming weeks. As each person typed in “first names” of those they would pray for in “Today’s Meet”, names began to scroll on the screen. The “training” was transformed to “action”, as teachers focused on the students they would pray for and pursue. It was a beautiful picture of how God pursues us, because He loves us and wants to be in relationship with us.
In the spirit of collaborating, and to recognize the work of my colleagues, credit for the quoted portions of this blog post goes to Nicci St Clair, 5th/6th Literature teacher (and leader!). Other leaders responsible for the ideas and discussion highlighted in this blog are: Mike Allen, Tyra Harnishfeger, Brian Comstock, and Eric Miller.  I am so grateful to be sharpened by these people!