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Showing items filed under “December 2012”
in Edify

Peer Pressure

No one escapes peer pressure.

This past Christmas our congregation presented a vignette of two guys discussing the demands of Christmas decorating as imposed by their neighbors. In a powerful and humorous way they poked fun at those who feel “forced” to decorate their homes to maintain the “unofficial” standard of their subdivision. If our neighbors the Petersons spend significant time, money and effort decorating their home to honor the birth of Jesus, shouldn’t we do the same? If we don’t, does it reflect badly on our commitment to the faith? It was exaggeration for effect, funny stuff, but with a twinge of truth. Peer pressure sneaks up on all of us.

 

For the most part, I consider myself independently-minded. Those who know me best would likely agree. Some might even say I’m to blame for putting the prefix “non” in the word “nonconformist.” And yet, on the way to the office early this morning, I had to acknowledge that I, too, am subject to peer pressure. I only live a couple of miles from work. It’s a simple route. The road leading from my subdivision to the main thoroughfare delivers me to a stop light less than a block from our church. The speed limit begins at 40 mph but slows to 30 mph as it passes by a large public park and enters the city limits. It was still dark this morning as I pulled onto the main road. At first there were no cars in sight, but as I passed several other subdivisions and cross-streets two cars, then three, pulled out behind me. It’s a good black-top road that tempts even safe drivers to exceed the posted limit. But I’ve lived there awhile and know it has become a favorite spot for local police who love shooting their radar guns.

 

The three cars following me seemed oblivious to the posted speed and the tendency of local officials to police the traffic. The “one-car-length-for-every-ten-miles-per-hour-of-speed” rule did not seem to apply this morning. I’m no expert on safe driving distances, but the guy behind me was following so close I could not see his headlights. I could feel peer pressure start to build. Although I had entered the 30 mph speed zone, my speed began to increase first to 35mph and then, before I realized it, approached 40 mph. When I became aware of the pressure their influence was having, and glanced at my speedometer, I gradually slowed to the legal limit. It was only a moment or so, but I smiled to realize how susceptible I was to the behavior of those around me. As soon as we reached the multiple lane portion of the road, my fellow travelers roared past me, as if to say, “Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.”

Don’t you just love peer pressure?

 

I see the influence of peer pressure in people’s lives all the time. People let other people create feelings of inferiority, fear or even anger by their behavior or words. Who hasn’t felt the social pressure to dress a certain way, to engage in polite conversation, or even found themselves agreeing with something they completely reject, just because they didn’t want to make others feel uncomfortable? It often amuses me to hear someone express and opinion by saying, “Everyone I talk to feels the same way.” Knowing what I know about peer pressure, I’m sure their survey of “everyone” was mostly a survey of like-minded friends, or asked in such a way that their own strong opinion was obvious, and to keep from arguing, everyone just agreed. It is human nature to “go along to get along.”

 

But going along with popular opinion is not what God asks us to do. I’m not suggesting faithfulness as a Christian requires an offensive disposition. Jesus was gracious, but still willing to do the right thing, even when it was not the popular thing. He shocked his own disciples by entering a conversation with a sinful woman who came out to draw water from the public well at Sychar. Simon the Pharisee was surprised that Jesus allowed a known prostitute to anoint his feet with precious oil and dry them with her hair. And when he entered the home of Matthew to meet his outcast friends, Jesus’ critics asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and known sinners?” Jesus replied by quoting the Old Testament prophet saying, “Go and learn what this means for God has said, ‘I desire compassion and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to reach the righteous, but sinners.”

 

Mostly Jesus was gentle towards his detractors and gracious towards those outside a saving relationship with God. But when the defenders of religious traditions became self-righteous towards Him or towards the lost, Jesus became adamant in defense of His own nonconformist behavior. His detractors objected saying “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.” Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”

 

I’m not suggesting all Christians become nonconformists, or that we toss out all traditions as wrong. We are told in the Bible to speak the truth with love. And God Himself established some traditions and practices for the benefit of remembering important teachings. But we can never allow the strong opinions of some to kidnap the mission of all Christians to reach the lost while strengthening the saved to live bold and courageous lives of Christian witness before a nonbelieving world.

The Scripture

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” Mark 1:35-38

  • Share an example of peer-pressure you have had to resist.
  • What did Peter want Jesus to do that was not His main purpose?
  • What is the main purpose of every Christian and every Christian church?

Stephen Hower, Pastor

Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14 (and to lower my golf score)

   

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Posted by Stephen Hower with

Principal's Blog

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Dear St. John Families,

As you read this monthly letter, I pray you are embracing this special time of year in which we reconnect with the realization that God humbly came to us in the form of a child.  As you rush about completing holiday tasks, let the twinkling lights, jingling bells and inspiring story of Christ’s birth put a sparkle in your eyes and joy in your heart.  May the great news of God’s eternal love light up your life and impel you to share it with others.  Go tell it!

As you know, on Thursday, December 20 we had no choice but to close the campus.  Law enforcement did a complete search of our facility and found no cause to be concerned for anyone’s safety.  We are saddened by the ripple effect for so many school communities following the tragic event at Sandy Hook Elementary School and will continue to operate from a firm foundation of faith.

It was a huge disappointment to call off the Christmas production, and it is with great joy that we were able to reposition it on the calendar for 7pm on Tuesday, January 8.  Please plan to join us in the sanctuary to celebrate new life and a new year as the students share their musical production, Camel Lot.

We are currently anticipating the launch of our new school website so we can have a more effective digital presence as we continue to tell the story of our community.  The new website includes features that should make it a more valued and user-friendly resource for school families.  I am excited to have it as part of a more effective communication strategy that can move us away from using paper to notify, inform and remind.

Just after Christmas, you will receive a digital notification to visit the website for new tuition and enrollment information.  We will wait until mid January to begin the re-enrollment process with current families, but we wanted you to have a head’s up on what new tuition rates and enrollment policies will be for the 2013-14 school year.

Earlier this month I had the great fortune to interact with four young men, former St. John students who now attend Lafayette High School.  Their desire to return to our campus speaks volumes about the relationships built with their St. John teachers.  I asked if they’d be open to an impromptu interview of sorts so I could hear their perspective on how St. John had prepared them for their current experience at a large public high school.  I wish I could have recorded their articulate and heartfelt responses:

  • They emphasized feeling super prepared to assimilate information and take great notes, a skill that supports their study habits and comprehension. 
  • They also offered that Science and Math classes are coming easy to them because of the solid foundation they received at St. John. 
  • They are not intimidated by writing assignments, as they are familiar with the writing process. 

When asked what St. John School could have done to better prepare them, the only thing the boys mentioned was how significant it would have been to have their fears about high school reduced a bit more.  I jumped at the chance to invite them back to speak with our 8th graders to share their stories about joining clubs, teams and Student Council as ways to make friends in a large school, as well as how their academic challenges are more than surmountable because of their middle school preparation.  The boys happily agreed to return as part of a sharing forum.  Hurray!

Let’s also shout hurray and hallelujah for all the many ways our PTL volunteers shared their time and talents this first semester.  Under Deb Mayer’s dedicated leadership this fall, the PTL hosted several successful fund raisers and community-building events in addition to making sure class mission projects and teacher appreciation opportunities went smoothly.  Deb’s decision to relinquish the President’s role leaves us grateful for her service and in search of someone to provide organized oversight for the many other leadership roles filled by volunteer parents who are passionate about our school.  If you are interested in helping our school’s PTL in this way or know someone who would be a great fit, don’t hesitate to contact me or Scott Osbourn. 

Several PTL volunteers, including event chair Beth Andrews, are busy prep aring for the March 8 Dinner Auction.  Please keep them in your prayers, plan to attend, and lend a hand if you can help with some aspect of the auction.  Large events such as the auction result from the coordination of many smaller parts.  Making a contribution of your time to one component of this event’s success could be a blessing to you as well as the overall outcome for the school.  One of the more popular items that always brings in lots of money is the reserved parking spot.  The Birk family and Whitman family each purchased the privilege of parking close to the building.  Please leave those designated spots open for those families and get ready to bid so you can have one of those parking spots next year.

Students and staff have also been remembering that it is a tremendous blessing to give.  The middle school collected several hundred dollars for dormitory bunk beds for His G lory Orphanage in Haiti.  The elementary students have also been collecting milk money for His Glory Orphanage.  At the start of second semester, we will do an all-school collection of toothbrushes and toothpaste.  So if you’re shopping to tuck a new toothbrush in a stocking, please purchase an extra (or two) adult or child size plus larger-than-travel-size toothpaste to donate to our January hygiene kit mission project.

It is a privilege to be part of this community and serve alongside you.  May the peace that passes understanding be yours this Christmas and always.  Oh come oh come, Emmanuel!

Heidi Hays

Principal, St. John School

Posted by Heidi Hays with

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