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Starting Off on the Right Foot!
By Guest Author: Christine Hughes, 5/6th grade teacher                                                                        

Back to school can be daunting and overwhelming for some students and parents, but
there is no need to be caught in that web. My pigeon pair are all grown up and established in their careers, but I can flash back to those early elementary years when I did feel the weight that September brought, in addition to the many hats I was trying to juggle! I can sit back now, with a smile on my face, and reminisce on what I did, and what I would change if I could go back in time!

Create a peaceful environment at home where your children feel safe, loved, and cared
for. Home should be a haven which can be a springboard for kids to do well in school. I believe that obeying the command given in Proverbs 3:5-6 is a good first step in establishing the tone for the school year, by allowing the Lord to direct our paths by trusting Him explicitly. Make time for family devotions and prayer regularly with the children, to strengthen familial ties and foster unity. Encourage your children to make time for God every day. A prayer list generated by the kids is a good way to see answered prayer and growth in their lives.

Physical needs should also be a priority for a successful school year. 1 Timothy 4:8 says
that “physical training is of some value.” Adequate sleep (10-11 hours), a healthy diet, and
physical exercise are integral parts of keeping stress at bay and functioning well in school. Look for a healthy balance between curricular and extra-curricular activities in order to avoid burnout. Planning ahead and organizing can make for easy mornings, and smooth transitions.

 Finally, motivate your child to stay flexible and face difficulties with faith and courage. When they fall, encourage them to get up, try again, and constructively solve their problems. They are not alone. God’s promises are trustworthy. (Isaiah 41:10) I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”. There is no reason to fear; you are not alone. God has been there for every tear and every
sorrow (Psalm 56:8) and He will strengthen your heart and help you back to your feet, no matter where He finds you today.


What Kind of Swimmer Are You?

July 2, 2023  
By Guest author: Renee Smith,  Middle/High School English teacher

Summer is the time for swimming! What kind of swimmer are you? Do you enter the water incrementally? First, you test the water temp with your toes, then bit by bit enter the pool, all the while wondering if you should turn back? Or do you jump right in, regardless of the consequences?

Pool time often reminds me of a quote by missionary Lilias Trotter—but before I share it, let me introduce you to this exceptional woman.

Lilias Trotter (1853-1928) was born in England and raised in wealth and privilege. She was a self-taught artist, whose talent quickly came to the attention of the art world. (One famous critic, John Ruskin, called her “England’s greatest living artist.”) Along with art, Lilias felt drawn to the things of God. In her early twenties, she and her mother experienced the
teaching of American preacher, Dwight L. Moody, when they volunteered at his revival meetings.

Although many encouraged her to pursue an artist’s life, Lilias believed she could not embrace “painting and continue still to ‘seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.’” She found local mission work to do through the YWCA and other such organizations and eventually felt a call to foreign missions.

On her 34th birthday, Lilias applied to the North African Mission but was rejected because a heart condition kept her from passing the physical exam. Because she could support herself, Lilias and two other financially independent women (unusual for that time period) made preparations to go to the mission field on their own and work alongside the established mission organizations.

Upon arriving in Algiers, Lilias wrote, "Three of us stood there, looking at our battle-field, none of us fit to pass a doctor [physical] for any [missionary] society, not knowing a soul in the place, or a sentence of Arabic or a clue for beginning work on untouched ground; we only knew we had to come. Truly if God needed weakness, He had it!"

Lilias and her friends spent the next forty years sharing the Gospel with Islamic women and children, seeing many converts follow Christ in spite of banishment, punishment, and even death. The three women founded a mission, which eventually grew to encompass thirty workers, and Lilias wrote several books.

During her entire time of service, Lilias’s health was so poor that she divided each year between months working in Algiers and months recuperating in England. Of her life, she wrote, “I am seeing more and more that we begin to learn what it is to walk by faith when we learn to spread out all that is against us: all our physical weakness, loss of mental power, spiritual inability—all that is against us inwardly and outwardly—as sails to the wind and expect them to be vehicles for the power of Christ to rest upon us.

By now, you’re wondering how Lilias Trotter’s bio leads back to swimming. Here’s the relevant quote from her journal:

“‘I am come into deep waters’ took on a new meaning this morning. It started with perplexing matters concerning the future. Then it dawned
that shallow waters were a place where you can neither sink nor swim, but in deep waters, it is one or the other . . .

Swimming is the intense, most strenuous form of motion—all of you is involved in it—and every inch of you is in abandonment of rest upon the water that bears you up.”

In other words, swimming engages nearly every muscle group in our bodies, yet the entire endeavor would be impossible were it not for the water holding us up.

What a great metaphor for living the Christian life!

We must put our “faith” muscles to work—studying and memorizing Scripture, sharing the Gospel, serving others, etcetera. Yet we accomplish nothing for eternity unless empowered by the Holy Spirit that lives within us.

So I ask again, what kind of swimmer are you? Do you dangle your feet in the water or stick to the shallow end of the pool? Or are you ready to jump right into the deep end for the adventure of a lifetime?

***To learn more about Lilias Trotter, I encourage you to check out her biography, read one of her books, or watch the 2015 documentary written by Laura Waters Hinson and featuring Michelle Dockery and John Rhys-Davies.

A Passion for the Impossible by Miriam Huffman Rockness. Amazon

Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper:

A Blossom in the Desert: Reflections of Faith in the Art and Writings of Lilias Trotter by Lilias Trotter & Miriam Huffman Rockness. Amazon 

Parables of the Cross by Lilias Trotter. Amazon 

Many Beautiful Things. Documentary available on YouTube & Amazon 


News from Our Blog



August 30, 2021
By Zach Justice

“There are two ways to speak the truth: as bullets or as seeds. Use the truth as a bullet, and you will kill relationships. Plant the truth as a seed, and it will take root and grow, influencing the person in whose heart it was planted.” Gary Chapman

In Mathew 7:21, at the end of The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus challenges the 2 things that provide us with the most assurance of our beliefs and convictions - what we say with emotional conviction and what we do with obvious success - and provides a deeper reason for assurance.

Jesus challenges those who are quick and enthusiastic to call Jesus not just “Lord” but “Lord, Lord,” the double emphasis adds conviction and emotion to the statement. He is NOT downplaying the importance of what it means to declare Him Lord. The word in Greek is Kyrie and is something similar to the Spanish word Senor, which can be translated Lord in the authoritative spiritual sense, like God, or it can be something on the lines of “sir”. Here it seems to be more than a mere “sir”. Romans 10:9-10 parallels with Christ’s teaching here that the heart along with the declaration of “Jesus is Lord” is the sign of disciples. Obviously, we see here that Jesus says, “Not everyone…” which means it is very possible to declare Jesus is Lord, and not have the heart of a follower. When a person states “Jesus is Lord” they are declaring 2 things - a willingness to obey/submit and that there is a personal relationship. How many of us have had the experience as either a coach, expert or specialist and have a person call us coach, but then totally disregard a clear direction? Anyone can say “sure, coach” but it is the player who actually runs the play being told who is living in the reality that he or she is the actual coach.

The second group Jesus challenges has an impressive list of things having been done - prophesying, driving out demons and performing miracles. These people have the words and seemingly the deeds to match and yet they aren’t allowed into the kingdom of heaven either. Again, it isn’t doing good things that is the problem. One of the biggest points made by James in his letter is centered on the teaching that faith without deeds is dead. Doing things for God is a good and necessary thing so what is missing? The relationship is missing.

Jesus might be thinking of Judas here because he would have done all these things but wasn’t in a relationship with Jesus. When Jesus says He doesn’t know these people, it isn’t an identity problem but a lack of intimacy. It is the difference between knowing my wife and children and “knowing” a famous person. Then Jesus says something that seems to be a hard turn in the conversation - “Away from me evil doers.” 

What is it about these people that get such a strong rebuke? It is the same underlying attitude that we see in Peter as he rebukes Jesus at the teaching of His impending crucifixion. But Jesus’ kingly authority is directly connected to His role as the suffering servant. We can’t have the kingdom without placing ourselves beneath the cross. Peter obviously changes his position on the need for the cross - but “these people” have not. They are evil because they have no place for the suffering servant who calls them to follow. It isn’t that Jesus is pointing out a lack of perfection - no one would pass that test - but He is revealing a settled direction. Put simply, a Biblical definition of evil is opposition against God and we see it here. They have no real understanding or perceived need for the cross, the very thing God declares to be essential. The verb tense used is the present participle suggesting a continuous regular decision. This is why Paul says he ventures to speak nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The cross doesn’t nullify His lordship, it proves it.

This is why we need to study and know the word of God, not what we think it says, but what it really says. Why memorize Scripture? Because it forces us to look at a text long enough to get past what we think it says. Why study through an entire book of the Bible and not just hop around from verse to verse? Because it will force us into discussions and subjects we would rather not think about. Once we allow The Bible to be our authority and adjust ourselves to its teachings, then we can begin to see the kingdom of God start to take shape around us because we now know what we are looking for. We need to not only reject the kingdom of the earth, but adjust our vision and expectations to see how the Kingdom of Heaven was brought by Jesus. We need to do more than just dismantle false worldviews, we need to build up the one that fits with reality most truly.

As our students enter a new school year, we will be unpacking Matthew 7:21, and other passages of Scripture, to see how we should live and think. #NotJustWords


Fostering Family Devotions

Click here to request a free copy of "Fostering Family Devotions" by our Chaplain and Bible Teacher, Zach Justice. Then check out all that Upton Lake has to offer!

"One perk of being a small school is that we are not only a school community but a family. This family has never failed to encourage each other in bad times, laugh with each other in the good times, and push each other to become better... Yes, this school has brought me great memories, amazing friends, academic knowledge, life lessons, and much much more, but the most important thing is how it aided me in making my faith my own."
~ Jennifer Puhalski, Salutatorian, ULCS '20