Staying True to Your Calling
Heart to Heart

Dear Families, 

[The following is excerpted from “The Family in Crisis” from the August 2001 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. To order a free subscription to this wonderful magazine, please contact Focus on the Family, P.O. Box 35500, Colorado Springs, CO  80935-3550, 800-232-6459, www.family.org.]      

The decennial report issued by the U.S. Census Bureau in May contains alarming news on the condition of the family. Households headed by unmarried partners (most living together out of wedlock) grew by almost 72 percent during the past decade. Households headed by single mothers or father increased by 25 percent and 62 percent, respectively, and for the first time ever, nuclear families dropped below 25 percent of households. Thirty-three percent of all babies were born to unmarried women, compared to only 3.8 percent in 1940. Other studies show that cohabitation increased by close to 1,000 percent from 1960 to 1998, and that households headed by same-sex couples are soaring.     

Dr. James Dobson talks about the implications of these developments and what the census results mean for our society, in practical terms. First, they mean that the institution of the family is unraveling at a faster pace than ever. They also indicate that the old taboos against divorce and cohabitation are disappearing, and that the culture is abandoning its commitment to lifelong marriage. About half of the children today will spend at least part of their childhood in single-parent homes.     

Imagine a world where most children will have several “moms” and “dads,” perhaps six or eight “grandparents,” and dozens of half-siblings. Little boys and girls will be shuffled to and fro in an ever-changing pattern of living arrangements. It doesn’t take a child psychologist to realize that this type of environment will be, and already is, devastating to children.     

The Christian family is not immune from these trends. The divorce rate is actually higher by a small margin among born-again Christians than for those who profess no faith at all. This may be the most distressing of all the recent disclosures because of the spiritual consequences for children.      The traditional family is the most effective instrument ever designed to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. The vast majority of believers come to Christ when they are children, under the influence of their parents. If that institution breaks down, however, the faith of generations to come will be in jeopardy. That has already occurred in Western Europe and in other pagan countries. Pollster George Barna reveals that if a child hasn’t been introduced to Jesus Christ by the time he or she is 14, there is only a 4 percent chance that such conversion will happen between ages 14 and 18, and a 6 percent chance that it will occur in the remainder of life. It comes down to this indisputable fact: The family is critical to the propagation of the faith. [The following was presented at our 8th grade graduation on May 19, 2001 by our speaker, Kevin Fitzgerald. Our thanks to Kevin for sending it to us in response to our request. He took this from a Bill Gothard notebook.]      

The famous 18th century preacher, Jonathan Edwards, was the only son of 11 children. His father and father-in-law were both ministers. Among his descendants: 14 were presidents of universities; more than 100 were lawyers; 60 were judges; more than 100 were ministers, missionaries, and professors of theology; 60 were authors; 3 were mayors of U.S. cities; 3 were senators; and one was vice president of the U.S.

In contrast to Jonathan Edwards’ family is the Juke family. The local authorities could neither get them to study nor work. Among their descendants: 310 were professional beggars; 440 were destroyed physically by their own perversity; 60 were professional thieves; 130 were condemned criminals; 50 were victims of perversion; only 12 learned an occupation (with 10 of those learning their occupation in prison); and 7 were murderers. The delinquency of this couple cost the state of New York over one million dollars.

 [The following is excerpted from Candy Summers’ speech at the NCCHEA homeschool meeting on April 26, 2001.] Our Vision for Homeschooling       

“Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:15-17). If you knew you only had a year left to live, a month, or a day, what would you judge to be the best way to spend your last fleeting moments? This really puts life into perspective. Ps. 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” I think that that is the most important thing that we can keep before our eyes—always before us. Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.     

Satan is actively working against homeschoolers and other families to draw us away from our most important task, and seemingly innocent and good activities are destroying and pulling down our families. It is of great concern to Jon and I because when we began homeschooling twenty years ago, homeschoolers were taking their kids out of all the activities and out of all the peer influence. They were bringing them home to raise up godly warriors. They spent time with their children to impart God’s Word into their hearts. They were with them day and night, and they limited their activities and the amount of time that their kids spent with other children.     

And then as time went on, our homeschoolers started looking to the world as to what maybe they were missing and what the world had to offer. At first it was just one class, and then maybe two, and then they added more. Then all of a sudden, we have a whole community of homeschoolers who aren’t homeschooling anymore because they’re sending their kids off to learning centers. These kids are there three or four days a week being taught by Christian teachers. But is that God’s best? Is that what God called us to do?     

It’s not only learning centers, but it is music lessons, drama lessons, sports, and everything else. And now homeschoolers aren’t home anymore. They’re gone. How do we impart God’s Word? How do we raise up mighty warriors for Him when our children are always away from us?     

We need to take a good look at our lives and see if we are using our time wisely to achieve God’s desire for our lives. We need to seek God’s will by asking, “What is it, God, that You want us to do?” We need to pray and to prioritize our goals. There is nothing wrong with outside activities, but it has become imbalanced. It’s not in balance with what God desires for our families. We need to make the necessary changes to keep us heading toward that mark.     

Something has happened in my life that has really been an eye-opener to me. It has made a difference in my understanding of time. I can remember a time years ago when I was in Bible Study Fellowship. This question was asked of all the children: “What would you like to be doing at 90 years old?” I was thinking, “What would I like to be doing at 90 years old?” This is not a very godly thought, but I thought, “I would still like to be able to ride my horse when I’m 90.”     

When Jedediah was born, I was having difficulties. I went to a doctor, and I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I really didn’t know what Lyme was, but I certainly do now. At that time with my children when they were young, I would climb trees with them; I would run with them; I would wrestle with them. I had tremendous stamina and energy, and I was able to accomplish so much and go on so little sleep. But as the Lyme disease becomes progressively worse, I am becoming more debilitated all the time.     

When I get out of the van after driving home from the country (a two-hour drive), I have to hold on to the side of the van because I fall if I don’t since I’ve become so stiff from sitting for such a length of time. I walk into the house as if I’m an old lady. But you see, I won’t look back and regret the times that I did all those things with my children. But how many of you when your kids are gone are going to say, “I wish I had done these things with my children”?     

When children are gone, nobody wishes they did more activities or worked more. They wish they had spent more time with their children and loved them and did things for them and imparted God’s Word to them. So I have a clearer understanding of time because my ability to do things is becoming decreasingly less and less all the time. It makes me realize what time really is.      Another thing that makes me realize what time really is is that my daughter turned twenty-one this year! It was only yesterday when I was sitting on the floor having a tea party with her and the dolls and the bears. I miss those times. I don’t even have a child out of the house yet, and I’m already going through an empty nest syndrome.     

When you ask older people, “What would you do over if you could do something over?” nobody ever says, “I wish I’d worked more. I wish I’d spent more time with friends. I wish I had accomplished this. I wish I had won this.” You know what they always say? “I wish I had had more children. I wish I had spent more time with my children.”     

We need to learn from other people’s experience and understand truly where we are going. Satan puts blinders and veils over our eyes, and he darkens our vision so that we are not seeing through God’s eyes, but we are seeing through his eyes. He makes the bad look good and that there’s nothing wrong. He’s subtle in the way he does things.     

Look at our country today and where we are. It hasn’t just happened. It’s been in incremental stages because we’ve become accustomed to them and accustomed to a little bit more restraint, until finally we have no freedom at all. But it’s the same way with getting involved in so many things. We take on a little bit more, and a little bit more, and a little bit more until finally it consumes all that quality time that we could be spending with our families.     

Jon’s and my passion and vision for homeschooling is that we are training generations for God’s throne room. It’s not only our kids. Our vision is for our children’s children and their children and their children. Our goal is to build a mighty fortress on the living Rock. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock” (Matt. 7:24,25).     

We are building for eternity—not for the present, not for the moment—but for all eternity. For good or for evil, all of us are building, for in our hands lies the power to build a living hell on shifting sand or a heavenly fortress upon the living Rock. There’s no in-between. It’s one or the other, and we need to look at what we are building. Are we building upon the Rock? Is it a sturdy structure that is not going to fall when rain and wind burst against it? We all know that rain, winds, and storms come throughout life. Or is it built on shifting sand? It can appear to be a very strong structure until the winds and rain descend and that house crashes down. Where are we going?      “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; And by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (Prov. 24:3,4). What is the beginning of wisdom? It’s the fear of the Lord. It’s respect and honor for our Heavenly Father. God says in Col. 3:2, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” How can we be successful? “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers” (Ps. 1:1-3). 

                                                   Goals for Homeschooling       

Our most important goal is to train our children to have godly wisdom, to have a contrite and obedient heart, and to have a servant’s heart so that they can serve in the kingdom of God. Let’s take David as an example. God does not look at the outward appearance; He looks at the heart. We tend to look at people from the outward appearance, and we make decisions based on that. We should be making decisions on the heart even with our children and what they are doing. What is their heart motive?     

David was a man after God’s heart. God anointed him with His Holy Spirit. God called David. He trained and molded him in the most difficult of circumstances. God crafted him into a select arrow and hid David in His quiver until He was ready to use him.     

We want our children to be God’s select arrows, to be hidden in that quiver until He’s ready to use them because that is God’s strategy for winning in spiritual warfare. That’s why we put that arrow on all of the CHEF brochures because that is what our vision should be. Our children are those mighty arrows that are going to be hidden in God’s quiver, and He saves those until He needs them the most. He takes those arrows out and shoots them. They go straight out, hit the mark, and do exactly what He wants them to do. That is our foremost desire for our children.      A time came when there was a giant named Goliath who was over nine feet tall. He towered over the Israelites. He wore a bronze helmet, and bronze armor covered his entire body. He taunted the armies of the living God for days. The king of God and God’s people were greatly afraid. They shook in their boots, and they fled.     

Here was David, a shepherd boy with whom God had communed. David had communed with God for so long that he knew what God’s will was. David looked at every situation from God’s perspective. He met difficulties with faith in his living God. He possessed wisdom to know how to act in difficult situations.     

How many people do you know who lose their heads in difficult situations? You always know people when they serve with you in leadership because their true character comes out. You really don’t know anybody until you serve with him or her. Either the worst comes out or the best comes out because there are difficult decisions to make. You see if they make those decisions based on personal preference or personal gratification or if they’re made based on what God wants, no matter what the cost.     

David’s strength was God as in Phil. 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” In 1 Sam. 17:37, David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” In verse 45, David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord.”                                           

                                           Struggles Facing Homeschoolers       

What are the Goliaths in your life? What are your struggles that you are facing right now? Who’s taunting you? Who or what is towering over you? Through the years, the giants that I have seen in homeschoolers’ lives are insecurity, trying to emulate what others do and comparing themselves to others, and feeling that they’re not measuring up to what they believe they should be doing.      There is the Goliath of pressure to do more and more activities and feeling that pressure from the outside that you need to do these things.  There is the taunting of family and friends in a church body. Financial losses, failing health, and all the responsibilities it takes to homeschool and take care of all the other responsibilities in life may be Goliaths as well. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous; But the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Ps. 34:19).     

We need to have unshakeable faith in our Almighty God. We need to have a clearness of vision of where we’re going and what we’re supposed to be doing. We need to look at every situation through God’s eyes and have His perspective. And we need to walk forth in the strength of the Lord and expect that God is going to give victory. “I love Thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies” (Ps 18:1-3). None of us are worthy, and none of us are capable. “‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord” (Zech. 4:6).     

People look at us sometimes and think, “We just can’t be Jon and Candy Summers” or “Nobody could be like Jon and Candy Summers.” We are empty vessels to do God’s will. You are empty vessels to do God’s will. I can’t do what you’re doing unless God calls me to do what you’re doing. You can’t do what I’m doing unless God calls you to do what I’m doing. When God calls, He equips. He gives everything that is needed for whatever task you are required to do. He is the One upon whom you must rely.     

When there are vacancies in leadership, we will pray for extended periods of time. I remember that when we were leading the North County group, we would even pray for the catalog table coordinator. We would pray for long periods of time, “God, who is Your choice for this position?”     

We try not to look at people and their abilities. We try to look at God and who He wants for the job. We would go to people and say, “We’ve both prayed about it. God has confirmed it in our hearts that we want you to do [whatever responsibility it is].”     

It is the ones who say, “Oh, we couldn’t do that.” Exactly. Those are the ones whom you want who are there to do God’s will because none of us can do what God calls us to do on our own. That’s why we must rely on God because it’s through our weaknesses that He is made strong. Gideon started out with a great army, but God didn’t want the victory to go to Gideon and his strong army. He wanted the victory to go to Himself because God is the One who gets the glory for all things.     

Sometimes people say, “Can I copy your articles out of the newsletter? Are they copyrighted?” They’re God’s words; they’re not mine. Nothing is mine. Nothing that I have done has been done on my strength. It is God. I am a broken, empty vessel who is willing to do whatever it takes to complete the task that God requires. And that’s what each of us must do in homeschooling. None of us are capable to take care of every need that is out there. We must be broken vessels before Him that He fills to accomplish the tasks that He has called us to do.      

Our love to all of you,

            Jon and Candy