Monthly Archives: September 2014

Lessons from Genesis 4

This week in Bible history, we are covering Genesis 4. We have been talking about the difference between myth and reality, because our Latin class includes some Roman myths, while Bible history covers many things that are beyond our ability to verify or even understand. Since the Bible is from God, though, we know what it says is real, even when something horrible is described, like the murder in Genesis 4.

The final word on the difference between Cain and Abel is found in Hebrews 11:4. “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” There’s a lot to talk about there, and I hope to get there in the coming classes.

Today, though, someone asked what Cain used to kill Abel. The picture shows him holding a rock, just like the stones both men had used to build their altars. It was a good opportunity to talk about what we mean in the school handbook by a “weapon,” and why it’s important for everyone to be careful about how we use tools and objects in our lives. Even a common rock when brandished or used as a weapon, should be considered deadly, and it would result in immediate consequences according to the CLS weapons policy. But a rock is also an inanimate object. What makes it a deadly weapon is the sin within the heart of man, as God explained to Cain in Genesis 4:6-7. So it is with all “weapons:” when used improperly, influenced by the evil nature of fallen man, they bring suffering and sorrow. When used well and rightly (think of a policeman with his service weapon) they enrich our lives with peace and comfort.

So we thank God that Abel is in heaven now, and that there is also forgiveness through Jesus when we repent of our sins.

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The Small Catechism as a Bible Summary

Catechesis (cat-uh-key-sis) is a systematic course of instruction in the Christian faith, often with an emphasis on memorizing the basic elements. There have been many catechisms written over the centuries, but the Small Catechism of Dr. Martin Luther stands out on its own for a number of reasons.

For one thing, it’s small, just as the name suggests. Six chief parts make up most of it, with the first three providing the core, and the second three following close behind. The remaining parts include a Table of Duties, which categorizes a variety of Scripture passages as guidance for people in various parts of life (preachers, hearers, parents, children, employers, employees, etc.) There is a short list of prayers for daily use, and a list of questions and answers as an aid for those preparing to receive the Lord’s Supper.

The six chief parts are the essential focus of youth catechism classes. Unlike many other catechisms, each part is brief and concise. Even all together, it is small enough for most people to memorize the whole thing with a little effort and training. For those who would like greater elaboration on the same points, Luther also wrote a Large Catechism at the same time. While it’s not meant to be memorized, the Large Catechism is still not very long.

The first chief part is the Ten Commandments. Some may think that’s cheating, since Luther didn’t have to write them. He borrowed them from Moses, in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. They are arranged in the order used by the African bishop, Augustine. That means “You shall have no other gods” includes the prohibition against “graven images,” and the last two commandments forbid different kinds of coveting. Luther separated some of the biblical text under the first commandment and uses it as a conclusion for all ten commandments, summarizing God’s attitude toward them. Attached to each is the question, “What does this mean?” A very concise answer provides application and explanation. For example, the meaning of the first commandment is: “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.”

For the second chief part, Luther does the same thing with the Apostles’ Creed. Again, he didn’t have to write it himself, because it comes universally accepted from the very early centuries of the Christian Church. Luther divides it into three articles of different lengths, based upon the persons of the holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Again, explanations are attached to each article.

The third chief part is the Lord’s Prayer, where Luther borrowed from Jesus Himself. As expected, he provides brief explanations for each petition in the prayer, as well as the introduction “Our Father, who art in heaven,” and the conclusion.

The fourth and sixth chief parts cover the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. They each have four parts, which describe the essence, origin, meaning, and use of these two gifts from Jesus to His Church. Between them is the fifth chief part. Essentially, it’s the forgiveness of sins, which originally appeared as a suggested procedure for private confession and absolution. Only a few years after the Catechism was first published, this was revised into a series of questions and answers about “The Office of the Keys,” which we still use today.

The chief parts of the Small Catechism may each be separated into a primary text and a secondary text. The primary text contains the words from Scripture, or the early Church (in the case of the Apostles’ Creed). The secondary text contains Luther’s questions and explanations. In the earliest years, the emphasis in memorization is often on the primary text. Once that has been mastered, students have a framework for contextualizing the secondary text as they memorize it. In the fourth through sixth chief parts, the primary text may be considered certain answers that are direct quotations from Scripture, such as the answer to “What is this word and command of God concerning Baptism?”

By covering God’s Law and Gospel, with Creation, Providence, Justification, Sanctification, the Church, Eschatology, Prayer, the means of grace, and the office of the ministry, the Small Catechism is a complete summary of the essential teachings of the whole Bible. Just as its primary text provides a framework for understanding the secondary text, so the Small Catechism itself provides a framework and context for the proper understanding of the Bible itself.

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Meet Our School Board Members: Donna Larson

We continue our series of posts composed of interview questions with our school board. On the School Board page of Columbia’s web site, you can see their pictures, but here you can know them a little better. Introducing Donna Larson, serving as recording secretary of the School Board.

How long have you lived in the area?
I have lived in the Hood River area for 49 years. Prior to that, my husband and I were missionaries in Cairns, Queensland, Australia for five years. I was born and raised in South Dakota.
What’s your church background?
I was baptized in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod on March 11, 1934. I was confirmed in the same church on May 16, 1948. I have belonged to ELS for about 22 years, I think. I have always been a Lutheran Christian, and I am very thankful to belong to the Heavenly Family.
What’s your family background?
I am the eldest of five daughters born to my parents. My youngest sister died at the age of 2 days. I was her godmother when she was baptized in the hospital.
I was born and raised on a farm in South Dakota, and lived in SD until my marriage in 1960. I graduated from high school, attended summer school for ten weeks at Northern State Teachers College in Aberdeen, SD (now Northern State University), then began teaching a country school, consisting of eight grades, and twelve students my first year. After teaching four years, I decided a career change was necessary, so I worked at First National Bank in Milbank SD for four years until my marriage. I was the Head Teller at the time of my marriage. I know all of these career moves were influential in my life as a pastor’s wife and later as teacher in our Christian School.
What’s your connection to Columbia Lutheran School?
I’ve been interested in the school since we first began meeting as a group in order to get a school started. I later was nominated to be a school board member, though at my age, I wasn’t sure if I was qualified to be on the board. Nevertheless, I was appointed to the board, and haven’t been sorry. I presently serve as the recording secretary of the board, and it is very exciting to see how everything is coming together.
What do you believe about the role of father and mother?
I believe that every child needs both parents in his home, and that every child needs to know that he/she is loved by his parents. I believe that parents are to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, making sure that they are taught to respect others, to be obedient to their parents and teachers, but above all, that it is the parents’ responsibility, given to them by God the Father in Heaven, to bring their children to God through Holy Baptism, and to bring them to worship at the House of God at every opportunity when services are being conducted. I believe that the children should be confirmed after instruction in the Chief Parts of Christian Doctrine, and that they should know that only through the Death of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Glorious Resurrection, can they be saved, through faith in Him. Parents need to show by example that family devotions and worship are the most important things in their lives. All other things fall into place when true faith is shown in a home.
What do you believe about the importance of the Christian faith?
I believe that Christian faith is THE most important thing in anyone’s life. Without Christian faith, there IS no life. Without Christ, our lives have no purpose at all. We are just going through the motions of living when we don’t have Christ in our lives.
Why do you think your church should have a Christian elementary school?
I believe our church should have a Christian elementary school because our children are exposed to so many outside influences, and a Christian school will help them to learn everything from a Christian perspective. All school subjects can be learned from a Christian point of view, and this only helps to strengthen the child’s faith. Children are like sponges–they soak up so many things when they are very young, and it’s so important for them to “soak up” Biblical truths, rather than some of the things being offered in government schools these days.
Why should parents who are not Lutheran, or not Christian, still consider Columbia Lutheran School?
Any parents who are not Lutheran, or not even Christian, should still consider Columbia Lutheran School, because their children will receive an excellent classical education, and will be under the influence of Christian educators, who will be watching out for their souls, as well as their minds. The hope, of course, is that the children will come to saving faith in Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and may be able to bring their parents to a saving faith, as well.
What should parents in The Dalles know about the classical model of education?
Parents should know that the classical model of education will educate their children in all the basics of education, so that when they graduate, they will know how to read, how to do math, how to put these skills into practice, how to think through things, and how to come to a conclusion.
To your mind, what makes the classical model of education important?
The classical model of education is important, because schools today seem to focus on social skills, in other words, they don’t want to damage a child’s psyche–anything goes, as long as the child is happy. It doesn’t seem to matter whether or not the child is actually learning, or how he is learning. In the classical education, the child is taught the basic skills in reading, math, etc., then he learns how to use them in other aspects of life, and he learns to think and reason how things work together, and how to share what he has learned with others.
Who can benefit from an education with Columbia Lutheran School?
Any child can benefit from an education at Columbia Lutheran School, but not only the child, but everyone with whom he comes in contact. A Christian education is so much more fulfilling than secular education.
How do you describe the value or worth of a CLS education?
A CLS education is priceless, in my opinion. Just learning that Jesus died to take the punishment for your sins is wonderful, and that is the aim–that all would come to the knowledge of Jesus as their Savior.
What benefit do you think CLS will have for the mid-Columbia community?
The benefits of being educated at Columbia Lutheran School are endless, and the graduates of CLS will be assets to the entire community in the Columbia Gorge. They will be productive citizens.
Is there anything else you would like others to know about you, or about CLS?
I guess the only thing I would want to say is that I am so blessed to be working with other Christians in this endeavor, and I pray for us daily, that God would continue to bless Columbia Lutheran School, its called teacher, Mr. Doug Radliff, and its called administrator, Pastor Jacobsen, as well as all of us who work with and for CLS.

More interviews with the other School Board members to come…

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Meet Our School Board Members: Leanne Klaviter

We continue our series of posts composed of interview questions with our school board. On the School Board page of Columbia’s web site, you can see their pictures, but here you can know them a little better. Introducing Leanne Klaviter, recently reelected, and serving as a liaison between the School Board and the Boosters, an organization of volunteers for the benefit of CLS.

How long have you lived in the area?
I grew up in The Dalles. I moved out of town for about 10 years to attend college and work; I lived in Corvallis to attend OSU and moved to Troutdale after I graduated. After my husband and I had our son we decided it was time to move back to that small community we grew up in! We believe that a small town is a great place to raise a child!
What’s your church background?
I was baptized in a Lutheran church when I was a baby. I grew up attending a Presbyterian church until college. During college I attended and taught preschool at the local Lutheran church. After my husband and child moved back to town we began attending Bethany Lutheran Church.
What’s your family background?
My parents grew up in Lincoln, NE where they met and became high school sweethearts! They moved to The Dalles shortly after they were married. They had three girls, two of which are twins! I am one of those twins. We grew up attending the Presbyterian church here in The Dalles. After Bethany Lutheran church was built my mom made the change to Bethany and we been attending ever since; some of us more than others!
What’s your connection to Columbia Lutheran School?
My mom is a Bethany church member as well as my husbands grandparents; they have been members for many years. My husband and I have recently become members and had our son baptized at Bethany Lutheran Church as well.
What do you believe about the role of father and mother?
It is my belief that mothers and fathers must protect their children and teach them how to become positive members of the community. It is also their job to instill a strong sense of faith and the importance of family.
What do you believe about the importance of the Christian faith?
Christian faith teaches us how to live a true and just life; everything from forgiveness to acknowledging that we are all sinful beings. I believe this is very important to learn and to teach others.
Why do you think your church should have a Christian elementary school?
The Dalles needs a Christian elementary school; especially with the closing of Covenant Christian Academy. Our church, Bethany Lutheran, has an amazing group of members who provide a vast amount of knowledge and wisdom to the school board. The support that we give and receive as members is exactly what a Christian elementary school needs to be successful for the children attending.
Why should parents who are not Lutheran, or not Christian, still consider Columbia Lutheran School?
Its all about the environment; it’s safe, small class sizes, the students will get much more 1:1 time with their teacher, we are using the classical education model which will help ensure success with their children’s education.
What should parents in The Dalles know about the classical model of education?
This answer is simple; It works, it has been around for many many years, children follow this learning style amazingly well. Why change what works?
To your mind, what makes the classical model of education important?
Again, it works. Children learn so well through exploration and hands on learning. The classical education model has been around for many years and has been proven to work over those years. Public schools have so many cuts in funding which have forced a change in their curriculum, CLS is building their foundation from the ground up with this model.
Who can benefit from an education with Columbia Lutheran School?
Anyone can benefit from an education at CLS. Success is waiting for each and every child who will attend!
How do you describe the value or worth of a CLS education?
Its hard to put into words how I value this type of education. I will say that my husband and I believe in this school so much that we are sending our son there. He will be starting kindergarten and we are thrilled CLS has opened and given us the opportunity to send him there.
What benefit do you think CLS will have for the mid-Columbia community?
CLS offers the community another option for elementary education for our children. It allows people to have another choice for their children.
Is there anything else you would like others to know about you, or about CLS?
This school is built upon the needs of our children and the community. Everyone who has had a part in turning this dream into a reality cares for each and every child who attends. We all want success, not just for the school but for the children. They are our future and CLS will give them such an important foundation to build on as they grow and develop. As a parent, that reassurance is so comforting.

More interviews with the other School Board members to come…

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