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Seeing God through Mathematics
By Krista Greer, High School Math Teacher
Blog post for February 2024

 

Math shows the characteristics of God in ways that no other subject matter can. For example, God’s infiniteness. Most people have an understanding of being infinitely large; make a large number, add a zero, and it’s even bigger. And you can keep adding zeros. However, most people don’t think about the fact that between any two numbers are the same infinite number of numbers. For example, between 0.1 and 0.2, between 0.001 and 0.002, etc… …mind blown, infinite in every direction! The fingerprint of God!

There are mathematical sequences in nature all around us. One of the most famous is the Fibonacci sequence: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13, 21… Can you find the pattern? Look at the following spiral. Most spirals in nature follow this same sequence. God is the creator and his designs are everywhere: sunflowers, pine cones, broccoli, and the human body to name a few. This sequence is also called the golden ratio.

We can also discuss irrational numbers, numbers that never end and never repeat, like pi, 3.14159…, used with circles and e 2.71828…, also found in nature. God has no beginning or end.

We could also look at imaginary numbers, the square root of -1, which seems impossible but exists in physics and is used in fractals. (Fractals are used to make digital images realistic.) God exists in a way that seems impossible to understand, but math gives us a glimpse.
 

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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: https://www.desiringgod.org/books/faithful-women-and-their-extraordinary-god

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 

 

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The Direction and Limits of Human Strength

July 28, 2021
By Zach Justice

The Bible lays out two realities about human strength – we each have been given different strengths and abilities to use in this world and our strengths and abilities are limited and dwindling.  As a kid, I couldn’t wait for the day when I was faster than my dad because, in this arena, I was as capable as he was and that much closer to manhood, whatever that meant.  That day came somewhere during high school while trying to catch one of our runaway dogs.  I surpassed my dad in running and it felt like quite the accomplishment.  Unrealized to me, two things were happening simultaneously – I was strengthening and coming into my own and he was aging and slowing down.  School age children are a constant reminder of this reality.  We help our kids with counting, and then, one day we look and there are more letters than numbers in the problem and we are at a loss.  We help them spell their name and then one day we are asked what an elliptical clause does; and we, no idea.  (By the way, that last sentence ended with an elliptical clause.)  Psalm 118 reveals how we naturally respond to limitations and provides us helpful direction in living with our strengths and weaknesses in a God-honoring way.

Our limitations incite us to fear people (vs.6).  In response to a cry of anguish, the psalmist ask the rhetorical question, “what can man do to me?” Why?  Limitations are often revealed when we come up against people and this can shake our identity.  A cheetah can reveal that I am slow, but that isn’t as hard to accept as knowing one day my youngest child will easily outrun me. Many children aren’t afraid of people until they encounter a bigger, stronger and scarier bully who is quick to capitalize on the limitations that the child wasn’t even aware she or he had.  What is true on the playground is true throughout life – there will always be a stronger, prettier, smarter, funnier and more valuable co-worker than me.  This instills fear and anxiety as we constantly evaluate our worth by comparing and contrasting ourselves with those around us.  The Psalmist provides a silver bullet to undo the power of fear– “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.”  This means in the only area of comparison that matters, I have nothing to stand on and yet, in spite of my weakness, I am fully known and wanted by the most powerful being in the universe.  If this is true, what can man do to me?  Indeed.

Our limitations tempt us to find security in people (vs.8-9).  Verse 8 is the middle verse in the entire Bible, which is a somewhat arbitrary fact, but does highlight the two primary ways to approach life – seeking security from something on the earth below or seeking security from heaven above.  When our limitations are revealed there is the temptation to want to connect our wagons to that stronger person who revealed our weakness in the first place.  Once I realize I am not as popular or as smart as I thought, there is a temptation to at least be friends with the popular and smart kids because then I am at least popular and smart by proxy.  The psalmist felt this internal draw and preaches to himself and to us, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord.”    Jesus, the most powerful of all people, links His life to ours and calls us to take up His yoke and He will work alongside us.

Finally, our limitations move us to allow God’s strength to flow through us (vs. 12).  The psalmist experienced attacks that seem to overwhelm him.  Strength is never developed without some form of opposition and while Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden light, we are called to plow with Him.  To get stronger there must be opposition in the form of weights, to get better at any game we need to play people who are better than us, and to grow in faith requires opportunities to experience God’s strength.  The psalmist says he is surrounded by enemies that are compared to a swarm of bees.  Few things are more persistent or scarier than bees.  They hurt, they attack unexpected and they don’t stop coming… but with each attack, the hive’s strength dwindles because each sting costs the bee her life.  In hindsight many of our struggles weren’t as infinite in duration as it seemed at the time.  It’s just bees, right?  But tell that to the guy on a ladder being swarmed.  The opposition will come again and again throughout life, but God intervenes, and what was once a painful attack are almost immediately reduced to ashes.  If we expect the bees of adversity to come but remember that in their coming, we have an opportunity to experience God’s strength, then we will see the promises of God begin to work themselves out in our lives.  

There may be time when our students will be the strongest, smartest and most able in a setting and we want them to thrive in those times with humble faith.  However, they are guaranteed to find themselves facing their own limitations.  Here at Upton Lake, we are trusting that Christ’s words to Paul will be true for our alumni in those times, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  What an overwhelming promise.


 

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