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Checking in with "All Shook Up"

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Since late August, the cast and crew of this year's fall musical, "All Shook Up," have been hard at work to make this Elvis-inspired show come to life. The show's stellar cast is led by Nick Schmeling and Kate Staab, and is directed by Mariel Olp and Michael Werner. The story is based on Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" and is set in a small, Midwest town in the 1950s. All of the music comes from the King of Rock and Roll, Mr. Elvis Presley, and is sure to get any 

"All Shook Up's" cast and crew have not only been hard at work learning lines, counting measures, and blocking out scenes, but they have followed the lead of Jon Kisker and Nick Schmeling in cleaning up and organizing the stage area and the Green Room. This, along with the occasional pick-up game of volleyball or photo shoot, has really allowed this dedicated group of young people to work well with one another and come together as brothers and sisters in Christ. God's gifts to them will be on full display November 13-15. But for now, back to rehearsals!


Alumna Esther Soenksen named player of the week

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Having already topped her season goal total from 2014, sophomore Esther Soenksen has ridden a hot start to 2015 to GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Women’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week recognition, as announced by the conference on Tuesday. It’s the first career weekly award for the former Lincoln Lutheran High School standout.

In last week’s only contest, Soenksen fueled the 7-0 blowout victory over York College with four goals, including two in each half. The Lincoln native now has seven goals over the season’s first three games for the 21st-ranked Bulldogs. She ranks third among all NAIA women’s soccer players in goals and fifth in goals per game. Soenksen has been incredibly efficient with seven of her nine shots on goal finding the back of the net.

After playing in the midfield last year as a freshman, Soenksen has thrived in more of an attacking role for head coach Greg Henson’s squad, which is off to a 3-0 start.

“We definitely made an effort to move Esther a little bit more forward,” Henson said after the win over York. “She has the ability to do well up there and score goals for us. She showcased that.”

Soenksen now has 11 career goals in 25 games as a Bulldog. She has started every game since arriving at Concordia last fall.

The Bulldogs return to action on Saturday when they host No. 6 Benedictine College (Kan.) (5-0). Kickoff from Bulldog Stadium is slated for 1 p.m.


LL Builds with Habitat for Humanity

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The first Community Outreach Team event of the year happened to fall on the 10th anniversary of hurricane Katrina, which ravaged many homes in the New Orleans area back in 2005. While the COT did not travel to Louisiana to build homes, nine students and four adults did spend the day building homes here in our community with Habitat for Humanity. 


Volunteers rotated through each of the steps needed to put siding up on a house. Some measured to ensure the bottom panel was flush with other panels. Others ran siding panels back and forth from the saw to the house. Still others hammered siding into place, while learning how to keep the panels visually aesthetic. And most workers avoided hammering their thumbs for the majority of the day (emphasis on most).


“Volunteers are key to building homes for our family partners.  The students from the Outreach Team were exceptional, and did a fabulous job of meeting the daily goals our construction manager had set,” said Rosanne Christensen, Interim Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity. 


Senior Nick Schmeling started the day off with a devotion that focused on our purpose in Christ (Eph. 2:10). He read how we are God’s workmanship to be used for acts of love as we are united in Christ. Sheila Ziems saw to it that the crew started the day with warm banana bread – something that was not wasted on adolescent boys.


“I wanted to do an event like this to complete my service hours,” Schmeling said. “Once we started working, I got to meet the future owner of the house. I found it surreal to realize that I’m helping someone actually build the house they’ll live in someday.”


From there, the team met at the site and went through a short instructional time. By 8:30am, the team was split into teams and working on different areas of the house. By lunch time (11:30am), well over half the house was finished as comradery and teamwork were growing. By the end of the day, the team finished the majority of the house and a shed.


 “At first, it seemed like the guys were concerned with mud all over their shoes. Then, they directed their attention more toward getting the siding to look ‘just right.’ By the end of the day, I saw them increase skills and interest in siding a house,” said parent Jim Otte. “Forty years from now, we can still walk up to that house and know we did right in our community; we created memories; we served.”


The words “building” and “community” come to mind after witnessing Saturday’s work. I know the adults enjoyed showing the craft of using a level, hammering nails, designing an appealing wall. Also, the kids enjoyed showing the adults just how hard they can work and how much they can accomplish when given the chance. When we think of service, often times we think of once-a-year trips to distant locations to help those communities (and, to be sure, that is a fine endeavor). However, Saturday’s event drove home the point that we have plenty of opportunities to serve and make THIS community a stronger one right here in Lincoln, NE.


One of the boys asked me during lunch, “So, wait. Can you just come here and work any Saturday you want? I don’t have to wait for you to organize it?” (I answered in the affirmative.) “Whoa! I’m definitely coming back again. This is fun.”


For anyone not familiar with Habitat for Humanity, this link responds to frequently asked questions (http://www.habitat.org/how/faq). The partnership between the Community Outreach Team and Habitat for Humanity goes beyond volunteering hours. The COT will donate $100 and provide future volunteers throughout the year at this house. Also, through the Thrivent Action Teams program, Habitat will receive a $250 pre-paid debit card to be used for supplies. Lastly, in this month, we will pray for the Christian non-profit group as it works to fulfill its mission: “Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.”


God gives us opportunities every day to serve right here in our community. Sharing the love of Jesus can be done without saying much of anything. It can be done by doing something for our neighbors. Those interested in other events should contact Joel Stoltenow (jstoltenow@linolnlutheran.org) or at 402-770-3927.
 


Fall Musical

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Interested in theater? Have a sense of humor? Like Elvis? Well, get ready for the exhilarating fall, high school musical, "All Shook Up." Set in the summer of 1955 in a small Midwestern town, "All Shook Up" is the modern Rock n' Roll take on Shakespeare's romantic comedy, Twelfth Night. The show follows the story of a small town girl with big dreams, Natalie, and the charismatic, motorcycle-riding rebel she falls for, Chad.

Mayor Matilda Hyde believes Chad is the "Devil in Disguise," and begins looking for a way to end to his Rock n' Roll chaos and its effect on the town. 24 classic Elvis hits are the heart and soul of the musical comedy, including "Heartbreak Hotel", "Jailhouse Rock", "Blue Suede Shoes", and "Hound Dog." Mariel Olp will be directing, with Michael Werner as the musical director. There is an informational meeting scheduled for Thursday, August 13 at 7pm in the Commons and auditions are on Sunday, August 23 from 2-5pm in the Small Gym. Any questions? Email Mrs. Olp at molp@lincolnlutheran.org. Hope to see you there!


June "Warrior Thought"

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A June “Warrior Thought”

This Warrior thought represents the final installment of seven monthly articles intended to celebrate within our Warrior Family the blessings we have in Christian middle and secondary education. As a reminder, in each of these publications, I will reference statements from the LCMS Office of National Mission-School Ministry explaining “Why Lutheran Schools.” I will then share excerpts from a document titled “Why Lutheran High?” created by a sister school written to debunk some of the most common hurdles preventing a family from choosing a Christian education for their child.

The following statement comes from the LCMS Office of National Mission - School Ministry – “Why Lutheran Schools:”

To Enhance the Public Relations of the Congregation: As the school reaches many segments of the community, the parents who come to the school begin to inquire about the sponsoring congregation. Members frequently ask each other, “Does this congregation have a school?” But non-member school parents frequently ask the school, "Does this school have a church?" The congregation becomes better known in the community because of the school parents, and the school's marketing efforts.

Early in my ministry at Lincoln Lutheran, I decided one of the most important fruits of ministry in a Lutheran school is “more people in heaven.” If we are doing anything right, we are sharing the love and grace of Christ with as many people as we possibly can. That is the goal of the Great Commission – Tell People about Jesus!

Lincoln Lutheran is a valuable resource to the community of Lincoln. We are so blessed to have an alternative to public schools that teaches students in a very unique manner. The better we can serve students and their families, the more respect and positive reputation gets built into the broad community of Lincoln. As people talk about Lincoln Lutheran and the good things going on, they often connect back to the relationship we have with the churches in the Association. Many of our school families, specifically those who were un-churched or under-churched (inactive), end up joining and participating in one of our Association churches. What a blessing to be in such an important partnership together as we seek to share the love of Christ with as many souls as possible!

Our friends at Wolf River Lutheran High School respond to a question they often hear from families in the excerpt from their publication below:

“Aren’t public schools better choices for the athletically talented?”

This objection to Christian education is born out of a fear that athletes at a smaller Christian school won’t receive the quality of coaching and skill refinement that a larger public school can provide and/or that their talent could go unnoticed or underdeveloped. Neither of these fears is justified.

If an athlete has Division I talent, it doesn’t matter where he or she goes to high school. The scouting and recruitment programs at colleges today must search all high schools to find talent. The competition is fierce for the best players – no matter where they go to school. To think that a talented player would go “unnoticed” is to believe that major colleges and universities aren’t exhausting every avenue to find talent. A recent example is Sam Dekker, graduate of Sheboygan Lutheran High School, who stars for the Wisconsin Badgers, and is projected to be drafted high into the NBA someday. However, rare is the true “blue-chip” prospect. Therefore, athletes MUST market themselves with the help of their high school and high school coaches. The web is full of college recruitment services that help players and parents market their son or daughter. Personal attention is where Christian high schools excel.

Smaller Christian high schools are often better connected to Division II, Division III, and NAIA colleges. Since those types of schools must recruit outside of the large public high schools to find talent and stay competitive, they look to smaller schools to fill their teams’ rosters. Hundreds of Lutheran high school athletes each year are offered generous scholarships and opportunities to continue their athletic careers in college as a result.

Most Christian schools have quality athletic programs. They establish top-notch facilities as funds allow. They have talented coaches who are coaching at a smaller high school, not because they don’t have the ability to coach elsewhere, but because they are dedicated to serving Christ. WRLHS is headed down that path as our student body grows.

Parents are often self-deceptive about the athletic abilities of their child. That statement may seem harsh, but according to NCAA statistics, on average less than 5% of all high school athletes fill a freshmen roster position at ANY level of NCAA athletics. This means that an athlete must be better than 95 out of every 100 seniors in the country to make an NCAA roster. Those athletes receiving scholarship money is even less. At WRLHS, we try hard to keep athletics in the proper perspective and urge our athletes, and their families, to do the same.

As an educator with more than 20 years of coaching experience, I feel as though I have some credibility to comment on this particular topic. I was a college athlete and I have coached a number of Lincoln Lutheran students who’ve gone on to experience amazing college careers. Lincoln Lutheran has had a large number of athletes go on to compete at all levels of college athletics. Quite a few have competed at the NCAA Division 1 level.

I believe a great school needs to have strong activity programs to offer their families. It makes for a well-rounded opportunity and experience. If you look at the banners in our gym at Lincoln Lutheran, we have been blessed with some amazing success in the first 18 years of our high school athletic history. God is truly good!

College athletics is about 3 factors: 1) God-given athletic ability; 2) the will and commitment of an athlete to work and improve to a point where they are good enough to play in college; and 3) opportunity. No one can change the first factor. The second factor plays a huge role in separating good high school athletes from great ones. The final factor is what some parents use as their reason for moving to a bigger school.

The fact of the matter is all high school athletes who are trying to “get ahead” compete in their sport outside of their school teams through club and select opportunities. Athletes can do this regardless of what school they attend. This weakens the argument that an athlete has to play Class A ball to have a chance at college athletics. It simply is not true. I won’t go into my opinion about the ridiculous amount of money spent by some families through the club experience, as it compares to the size of scholarship their athlete eventually may get to participate in college. Families would be far better served to pursue high GPA’s and ACT scores because there is generally a lot more money available for great students than college athletes.

The Lincoln Lutheran experience is so much more than any one thing. It is about Christ first. It is about expecting excellence out of our students in the classroom. It is about quality activities opportunities. It is about the smaller school and our community among parents and staff. It’s about relationship. Lincoln Lutheran is a package deal. Families who commit to a well-rounded Christian education for their child understand it is a package deal.

When challenges come along or a family has a bad experience in one area of the educational experience, it is important to remember all the many blessings and benefits that we take for granted every day. In my mind, it trumps the frustration that pops up from time to time. Sara and I have had times as parents when we’ve been frustrated with a particular situation in our daughter’s education, but because we believe in the “whole” and how great a benefit it provides our girls, we jump over the hurdle and stay committed to our kids – to their education and faith formation. Things don’t always go perfectly, but we wouldn’t change our experience for anything! We love and appreciate our Lutheran School Family!

God’s blessing as you continue to enjoy summer break!

Because of Him,
Scott Ernstmeyer, EdS

https://luthed.org/page/view/id/4/name/Why_Lutheran_Schools%253F
http://wrlhs.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Why-Lutheran-High-Booklet-Fi...


May "Warrior Thought"

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A May “Warrior Thought”

As a reminder, in each of these publications, I will reference statements from the LCMS Office of National Mission-School Ministry explaining “Why Lutheran Schools.”  I will then share excerpts from a document titled “Why Lutheran High?” created by a sister school written to debunk some of the most common hurdles preventing a family from choosing a Christian education for their child.

The following statement comes from the LCMS Office of National Mission - School Ministry – “Why Lutheran Schools:”

To Seek Out the Lost:  Lutheran schools, which enroll children from all parts of the community, provide new and varied opportunities for evangelism by the congregation and its staff.  These opportunities are not available in any other way.  That's why Lutheran schools are considered the most effective agencies in congregational evangelism and why pastors of growing congregations with schools in nearly every case, identify the school as the congregation's most effective outreach agency.  Eighty-five percent of the fastest growing congregations in the Synod operate schools.

Last spring we spent some time utilizing an outside consultant to assist our ministry in the review and further clarification of our vision.  During one of the sessions collecting constituent feedback, our table was discussing improving enrollment and how to create additional diversity in our student body.  One of the participants made a great point that has continued to resonate with me.  “If you work to be a school of excellence, you will attract all types of students because they want to be part of something great.  Once you have them in the door, then you get to do ministry with them.”  

What a great argument for the continued pursuit of excellence.  It is what drives our Warrior Team to never stop improving.  Our primary focus in ministry is to share Christ with our students.  Such a focus on Jesus will always define us.  Being excellent allows us to share Christ with more students.  Helping our students maximize their God-given abilities in a setting where there faith is nurtured makes for a wonderful educational experience.

Our friends at Wolf River Lutheran High School respond to a question they often hear from families in the excerpt from their publication below:

“Bigger is Better, Right?”

The nation is full of large and impressive looking high schools, both public and private. A quick tour through some of the area high schools will reveal beautiful gyms, weight rooms, auditoriums, cafeterias, and labs.  It seems only natural that parents would take one look around at the facilities, programs, classes, and activities that a larger public school has to offer and think, “That’s what we want for our son or daughter.”

For smaller parochial schools, like Wolf River Lutheran High School, it is nearly impossible to compete with the endless stream of resources (tax dollars) that a public high school can pour into its programs and facilities.  So in the face of that kind of competition, why would anyone choose a smaller, Christian school? Ask yourself this, “What’s more important…an impressive laundry list of facility features and activities or a spiritually nurturing atmosphere?”

The truth of the matter is that, in time, it is possible to have both!  Many Lutheran high schools have started with nothing more than a handful of students and a borrowed building.  With God’s help, Wolf River Lutheran High School will increase in enrollment and add programs and facilities that rival the best public schools.  Countless Lutheran high schools have experienced similar growing pains only to grow and become regionally and nationally recognized for academic excellence, win state championships in sports, offer valuable services to their communities, and produce well prepared students year in and year out, all while maintaining a focus on Jesus Christ.  In fact, the only real obstacle to achieving many of these goals is having a larger student body.  To that end, we take steps every day to make WRLHS more attractive to area families. We need your support too!

Even at our current size, WRLHS provides advantages that a larger public high school simply cannot:

Students are less likely to get lost in the shuffle

Our teachers and administrators know all of the students in the building.  That kind of intimacy can be a key to the academic and spiritual development of a student.  WRLHS is dedicated to making connections with all students. Relationships, not facilities, are what make a school excellent.

Class sizes are smaller

Instead of class sizes of 30 or more that can be found at larger schools, most Christian schools have class sizes that are in the 15-20 range on average with many advanced courses having even smaller class sizes.

Opportunities to participate in extracurricular are greater at WRLHS

Simple math dictates that a student’s odds of “making a team” or “getting a part” are better if they are competing against fewer people.  Beyond that, smaller teams and greater opportunity to actively participate in other extracurricular activities means that a higher percentage of students are actively involved.  Put simply, at WRLHS, it is easier to get involved and have a quality experience outside of the classroom.

We are a family

At a smaller school, students, parents, and teachers feel as if they are part of community in which they can take pride and have input.  People know each other and relationships become the foundation for excellence.  A caring, Christian environment that values each student as a special child of God is a wonderful thing.  When that environment is small enough that kids do not get lost in the shuffle, it’s even better.

We have serious plans to grow - including construction of a new school

We recognize that our current building isn’t quite what we need it be so we are in the readiness phase of a capital fundraising campaign to raise funds to build a new school on the south side of Shawano.  The school will be built at the intersection of WI-22 and WI-29 on 25+ acres of land already owned by the school.  This proposed structure will not only better meet the needs of our current student body, but provide plenty of potential regarding future growth and needs.

Each year Lincoln Lutheran has students who chose not to re-enroll.  There is a wide variety of reasons for a move to a different school.  I believe that one contributing factor to a majority of the decisions to enroll elsewhere is tied to the “allure” of the larger school.  Reasons stated from families ranges from “course options” to “clubs and activities” to finding a different niche of friends.  

I regularly share with people that Lincoln Lutheran is a Class C school in a Class A pool.  We often feel pressure to offer more, to do more, to be more.  In the end, we are called to make sure we are doing an excellent job with what we have.  We should only grow programs and opportunities in a strategic manner that can be sustained.  In many ways, being a smaller school is what sets us apart in this community.  There are more than enough co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities available at Lincoln Lutheran to keep a student crazy-busy.  The blessing is they can try everything and be a part of as much, or as little as they want.  

I am not a believer that bigger is better.  We recognize increased enrollment allows us to consider additional variety in offerings.  Growing too big would take away the intimacy that is so important to our school community.  Our staff knows their students - very well.  Knowing students so well allows for stronger ministry.  After all, ministry is why we are here!

As we transition into summer, I pray God continues to surround Lincoln Lutheran with a hedge of protection and care.  I pray that our families continue to reaffirm their commitment to Christian education and the role it plays in the development of their children.  I pray for an abundant harvest of students to serve starting in just a few short weeks!  I pray for rest, rejuvenation and a rekindling of the passion that brings our staff to 1100 N. 56th Street every day!

God bless the beginning of summer break!

Because of Him,

Scott Ernstmeyer, EdS

https://luthed.org/page/view/id/4/name/Why_Lutheran_Schools%253F

http://wrlhs.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Why-Lutheran-High-Booklet-Fi...


Eighth Grade Poetry Reading Night

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Thursday evening, Lincoln Lutheran's 8th grade English classes hosted a Poetry Recitation Night for family and friends at a local coffee shop. 8th grade writers gathered together with excitement to read their original poetry and celebrate their work during National Poetry Month.

Mrs. Nicholas' English students took National Poetry Month seriously this April. They drafted poetry, read poems daily, and revised their work in order to grow in crafting figurative language and theme. They succeeded immensely in composing interesting verses, which inspired their teacher, Mrs. Nicholas, to gather their poems together and print an Anthology called Lincoln Masquerade: Poetry from the 8th Grade

In this unit, Mrs. Nicholas gave students the task to 'unmask' the normal things of everyday life with their poetry.  Each student participated in writing the Anthology, and around 20 students attended the Anthology release party and recitation night, this past Thursday at NuVibe Juice & Java!

The crowd enjoyed smoothies and coffee in the outdoor patio, while flipping through their copies of the Anthology. Mrs. Nicholas welcomed parents and opened with a prayer before reading her own poetry. Students then recited poems of their choosing. 

"These students did such a great job. I am so proud of them," Mrs. Nicholas reflected on the experience. "It is so important for teachers to write along side their students to remind them of the gift God has given us in language. I was so happy that Mrs. Olp, Miss Carr, and my husband, a long term substitute at Lincoln Lutheran, showed up and read their own poetry!"

The poems of the evening ranged from topics of nature, like trees, birds, and nature, to emotions, like courage and anxiety. Many wrote about the difficulties of growing up. Mrs. Olp read her poem recounting the 8th Grade Class trip to Kansas City that left the whole group laughing! Several students read their work out the Lincoln Masquerade Anthology, but others were inspired to write new poems to bring to the "stage." Overall, these middle schoolers showed their immense writing skills and confidence during this celebration of poetry! 

 


Community Outreach Team April Events

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COT Strikes up Support for Big Brother Big Sister

April’s outreach event was unique in the fact that we went bowling – I’m quite certain that’s a first. It was like many other events though in the fact that we really enjoyed being together. Two teams (teachers vs. seniors) raised funds to donate to Big Brother Big Sister’s annual fundraising drive: “Bowl for Kids Sake” held at Sun Valley Lanes.

“It was easy going and fun to participate in” said senior Ashlee Mitchell. “And, knowing it is for a great cause makes it even more meaningful.”

The two teams’ combined effort raised hundreds of dollars in support of this mentoring service. According to its website, (http://www.hbbbs.org), Big Brothers Big Sisters’ impact on our community’s boys and girls is significant.

“We are so grateful to have a strong partnership with Lincoln Lutheran,” said Nicole Hecht Juranek, Director of Corporate Relations. “Our organization depends on the commitment of our volunteers, contributions from our donors and collaborations with our community partners. We have really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know teachers and students from Lincoln. We look forward to working together in the future.”

In addition to creating more positive attitudes toward school performance and family relations, researchers found that after 18 months of spending time with their “bigs”, the “littles” brothers and sisters are:

46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
27% less likely to begin using alcohol
52% less likely to skip school
37% less likely to skip a class
46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs


Partnership with Brownell Elementary is a Meaningful Ride

Wednesday, April 29th at Brownell Elementary (60/Aylesworth) from 6-8pm, Lincoln Lutheran volunteers helped youngsters learn bicycle safety. Students managed safety stations that helped elementary students learn bicycle skills and safety rules. It would be more than fair to say that watching the high schooler’s expressions was even more charming than watching 2nd graders learning to weave figure-eights on a bike.


“It was really fun talking to the kids,” said junior Kacey Kohlhof. “We talked about more than just bicycle safety and it was fun to make a connection with them.”

Brownell’s after school program marks the 14th organization served by the Community Outreach Team in its first year. Service efforts have resulted in over 740 hours by 140 unique volunteers.

The event for May will be serving a meal at the Gathering Place. Contact Joel Stoltenow (jstoltenow@lincolnlutheran.org) for more information.


April "Warrior Thought"

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An April “Warrior Thought”

This Warrior thought represents the fifth of seven monthly articles intended to celebrate within our Warrior Family the blessings we have in Christian middle and secondary education.  As a reminder, in each of these publications, I will reference statements from the LCMS Office of National Mission-School Ministry explaining “Why Lutheran Schools.”  I will then share excerpts from a document titled “Why Lutheran High?” created by a sister school written to debunk some of the most common hurdles preventing a family from choosing a Christian education for their child.

          The following statement comes from the LCMS Office of National Mission - School Ministry – “Why Lutheran Schools:”

To Provide a Safe, Caring Place for Children:  Unfortunately, in many communities children are not safe.  Lutheran schools provide places where children don't have to worry about being attacked verbally or physically.  Loving teachers and other staff members daily demonstrate Christ's love for them and their love for children.

 

As parents we want our children to be safe.  Our Warrior staff serves families in the name of Christ.  This means we can care for students in a different way.  As a team, we are unified in loving students in a way that Christ modeled for us in scripture. 

Very recently I attended the funeral for the parent of two recent alumni.  This woman was a product of Lutheran secondary education.  She died at age 57, before anyone was ready for her to be called home to heaven.  God knew it was time.  He invited her home.  She had a deep and firm faith-foundation, part of which was in place because of the Christ-centered education she received.

 

She loved her family, and as a mom she loved and cared for her children.  Christian education was a priority in their home.  I sat next to three fellow staff members during the funeral.  Our hearts hurt for this family.  Serving in a ministry where God’s gift of grace is at the core causes each of us to take our job very seriously.  There are eternal consequences for these young people.  It means we love deeper, in a manner only possible through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I am so thankful to be able to place my three girls in an environment where I know each and every team member has heaven as the ultimate goal.  I know they are loved in an everlasting love - extended by God, through Christ, by way of servant-oriented teachers and staff.  Our Lutheran schools aren’t perfect.  Sometimes fellow students are unkind.  Sometimes staff makes mistakes.  But I have confidence knowing the greater good my children receive more than outweighs a bump in the road along the way. 

 

Our friends at Wolf River Lutheran High School respond to a question they often hear from families in the excerpt from their publication below:

 

Doesn’t a Christian high school shelter students from the real world? Shouldn’t teens experience the real world found in public high schools?

 

The “sheltering concern” regarding Christian education makes two erroneous assumptions about the spiritual nature of the world in which we live:

1. Teenagers need to experience (or be around) sin to know how to avoid it.

2. A Christian high school is somehow without sin (or does not have as much sin) as a public high school.

Let’s start with the first assumption. Scripturally speaking, the Bible does not teach that you should surround yourself with sin 35-50 hours a week and then you’ll know how to avoid it. In fact, the Bible makes a clear case for avoiding temptation and evil influences. One need not experience or observe sin to know that it is wrong. As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthian 15, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’" In Proverbs 15, King Solomon states, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”

What are proponents of the “real world experience” hoping to accomplish? At best, it could mean subjecting teenagers to unnecessary peer pressure. At worst, teenagers may ultimately be in an environment that will not respect (and possibly denigrate) their Christian faith. The overriding humanistic philosophies of mainstream academia – Darwinism, moral relativism, secular humanism, etc. – WILL have an effect on the development of a teenager’s outlook. It is hard to see the logic in subjecting adolescents to unnecessary pressure to abandon the Christian truths that have been instilled in them from Baptism. At a time when teens are most vulnerable to influence, is it really wise to surround them with an increase in non-Christian influences?

As for the second assumption, does enrolling a teenager in a Christian high school mean that they won’t have to deal with temptations and other tests of their faith? Unfortunately, that is not the case. Put simply, Christian high schools, including Wolf River Lutheran High School, can have the same problems as any public high school. Anyone who has worked in or attended a Christian school can verify that fact. All of the same issues that arise in other high schools – bullying, drinking, sex, and drugs – can occur in a Christian high school too. So what, then, is the value of a Christian secondary education?

The best benefit lies in the approach to sin – a careful balance of Law and Gospel. Wolf River Lutheran High School students experience temptations like their public schools counterparts – but we use different weapons!

 

Because Jesus Christ conquered sin on the cross, our spiritual arsenal includes: 

  • Reliance upon Word and sacrament 
  • Clear delineation of Biblically defined right and wrong 
  • Teachers and staff who provide Scriptural Christian advice 
  • A supportive environment of fellow believers that promotes growth in Christ 
  • An atmosphere that exalts obedience to God’s Word 
  • Forgiveness given freely 
  • Appropriate consequences assigned when actions call for it 
  • Recognition of each student as a dearly loved child of God

What is “real world” anyway?

At Wolf River Lutheran High School, our students face real challenges, real expectations, real accountability, and real problems. There is no doubt that our students are in the real world every single day. However, as we are reminded in John 15:19, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but…you are not of the world…I chose you out of the world…” Therefore, our Lutheran trained teachers stress the importance of not succumbing to the world’s expectations. In short, we encourage our students to be IN the world, but not OF it (Romans 12:2).

 

This is an argument for choosing public schools that I hear a lot.  I would like to affirm two points.  First, we know we are far from perfect at Lincoln Lutheran.  Mistakes are made.  We are sinful people.  However, we get to work through mistakes and issues using a common ground as Christians, balancing Law and Gospel.  This is not the case in public schools.

Second, society is winning the battle for the attention of our children.  Just probe with your children about some of the hot topics in the media.  Scripture provides us with absolute truth about right and wrong.  Movies, blogs, opinion pages, advertisements and popular music bombard youth with messages attacking any notion of absolute truth, doing everything they can to convince the consumer we have the right to choose “anything” in life – and that no one should tell us we are wrong. 

The sheer magnitude of these messages should be affirmation enough to place our students in a daily environment that teaches them to think critically with a Christian Worldview.  We are training up Warriors to be a light in an ever darkening world.  They need as much training as we can give them.  Thanks be to God we have the Gospel message to reaffirm in our children to take out into our community.

God’s blessings on these final weeks of school.  I am thankful for the opportunity we have at Lincoln Lutheran to love students in Christ!

 

Because of Him,

Scott Ernstmeyer, EdS

 

https://luthed.org/page/view/id/4/name/Why_Lutheran_Schools%253F

http://wrlhs.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Why-Lutheran-High-Booklet-Fi...

 


A March "Warrior Thought"

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This Warrior thought represents the fourth of seven monthly articles intended to celebrate within our Warrior Family the blessings we have in Christian middle and secondary education.  As a reminder, in each of these publications, I will reference statements from the LCMS Office of National Mission-School Ministry explaining “Why Lutheran Schools.”  I will then share excerpts from a document titled “Why Lutheran High?” created by a sister school written to debunk some of the most common hurdles preventing a family from choosing a Christian education for their child.

The following statement comes from the LCMS Office of National Mission - School Ministry – “Why Lutheran Schools:”

To Help Children See All of Their Lives from the Perspective of God's Word:

As the Christian faith is integrated into their lives, Christian decision-making and problem solving are facilitated.

Preparation is the word that comes to mind when I read the statement above.  

Think about the number of decisions we make each day.  Every decision results in consequences, either good or bad.  Most decisions are relatively small and are made without critical thought.  Some decisions are monumental and could alter the course of life.  Even as an adult, I don’t always wrestle through tough decisions by contemplating “What would Jesus do?”  We are blessed at Lincoln Lutheran to help students grow in their decision-making skills daily.

There is so much information readily available to our children.  They can type a few key strokes or ask Siri to find what they need.  Every piece of information is created with underlying assumptions and influences.  Yes - I said every piece!  Christ-centered education can help build the skills our students need to think critically about the information they consume.  The longer our youth learn in an environment that will challenge them to think critically as a Christian, with a Christ-centered worldview, the better equipped they will be to navigate the misinformation that exists in the world.  Because the brain doesn’t fully mature until after high school, secondary Christian education is critical in preparing students to function with a Christian worldview as an adult!  

Our friends at Wolf River Lutheran High School respond to questions they often hear from families in the excerpt from their publication below:

Shouldn’t Christian teens be witnesses in the public high school system?

Aren’t Christians called to be the ‘salt and the light?’

Witnessing for Christ takes on three basic forms: intentional evangelism, sharing Christ through word and deed, and defending the faith.  Ask yourself this, is the average Christian teenager equipped to actively engage in all three types?  For example, are they ready to answer questions like these if posed to them by a classmate or a teacher?

How do you know that God exists?  Isn’t the Bible just a book of legends and half-truths?  How do you know that Jesus really rose from the dead?  What right do you have to suggest that Christianity is the only way to heaven?  Aren’t all religions valid?  Don’t they all end in the same result?  If your God is so great, why do bad things happen?

Better yet, direct these types of questions to a teenager you know.  If his or her answers are slow to come, vague, or sound less than confident, then you might want to consider the possibility that many teens may not be an open witness for Jesus Christ or an active defender of the faith in a secular environment.  A FEW Christian teenagers may well have the gift of evangelism and actively speak of their faith in the public high school setting.  For others, their actions and relationships may be an effective Christian model for their peers.  Yet, the majority of adolescents will be uncomfortable speaking of their faith or openly resisting peer negative pressure largely because they are undertrained, untested, and discouraged from doing so.

The analogies are endless.  We don’t send untrained soldiers into combat, we don’t call pastors to lead a congregation without first going to the seminary, and we don’t let surgeons operate without proving their expertise.  Doesn’t it seem a little odd that we would send our Christian youth into a non-Christian environment with only the slightest hope of being effective witnesses?

The teachers of Wolf River Lutheran High School are committed and trained to teach their students to be witnesses to others and to better defend their Christian faith effectively in an open marketplace of ideas.  The existence of God, the historical reliability of the Bible, Jesus’ resurrection, and the validity of Christianity as a proper worldview are topics that are objectively studied within our walls and across all academic disciplines.  God’s Word is used to educate students as disciples.  Our students can then, with the help of the Holy Spirit, be a bold witness and example to their peers and acquaintances both during and beyond their high school years.  In fact, you could make the argument that the emphasis of evangelism and proper guidance while attending a Christian high school may increase the likelihood of a teen sharing his or her faith with a non-Christian peer.

Sharing Jesus Christ can be a daunting task even for mature adults.  Development as a disciple for Christ is a life-long affair.  Therefore, it is important for us as Christians to arm our youth with the tools that they need to adequately defend their faith and spread the Gospel.  It is vital to live the words of St. Peter in 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give a reason to anyone who asks for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Wolf River Lutheran High School believes that a Christian education through 8th grade, the successful completion of Confirmation, and regular participation in personal Bible study are all valuable steps in the spiritual maturation process.  However, we also firmly believe that a Christ-centered secondary education can prove invaluable to both student and family and is capable of strengthening the mind and soul of any teen – Christian or not.

Because this is so well written, I don’t have a lot to add.  We certainly desire for our students to grow the skills and confidence to be bold in the sharing of their faith.  This becomes more natural for kids when their personal relationship with God grows deep and when they acquire the knowledge and skills to become confident in sharing their faith.  Let’s be honest, this is tough for most adults.  As a parent, I believe sending my children to Lincoln Lutheran through high school is putting a rock-solid foundation in place so they can be a fertile soil for God to grow His seed for the kingdom!

I will close by sharing that I recently attended the annual Association of Lutheran Secondary School’s conference in Nashville, TN.  I have been blessed to attend this conference a number of times in the past 13 years.  One of the biggest blessings is being reminded of the Lutheran School community that exists around the world.  More importantly, I get to spend time with hundreds of school leaders who care deeply about students and are passionate about the importance of Christian Education!  What a blessing!

God bless your family as you celebrate the gift of grace found in a cross and empty tomb!

Because of Him,

Scott Ernstmeyer, EdS

 

http://luthed.org/page/view/id/4/name/Why_Lutheran_Schools%253F

http://wrlhs.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Why-Lutheran-High-Booklet-Final.pdf