Education and Religion – Are They Separate and Does This Matter?

Education is inherently spiritual in nature, although there has been much said and done over the years to mask this purpose. Yet, at its very core, the goal of an educational system is to change minds so that information can be transferred, to present cultures and characters to the learners so that they can see how those values have been successful (or not) over the years, to share systems of order, organization, and structure that benefit all people, and to do all of this from the time of youth through adulthood. The word education comes from a Latin term (educatus) having to do with “leading forth” and “rearing” of a child. In this sense, educational goals are no different than the goals of discipleship in a religious context, and this knowledge must impact all that we aim to teach or share with others.

One primary tenet of education is to present data and transform the understanding of information in the mind of another. That does not necessarily mean that we are going to convince another of our opinions, although that does happen in education, but we are certainly trying to transfer knowledge to someone else. This may take the form of sharing of information, teaching someone to learn a new skill, or showing how to apply the knowledge for their personal use and enrichment. Once this information is presented and students learn to apply the information correctly, the next step in education is to seek the advancement of the student because they possess this knowledge. Knowledge increases awareness and competency, and this is good for all involved – both the student, and the student’s community. With knowledge, a student can take positive action, and positive action is the evidence of the learning. Another pillar of education is the reviewing of history and the knowledge left behind by other cultures and civilizations, as well as of the character of those leaders. What area of learning does not have its heroes and villains, its good examples and bad? None come to mind. All arenas of education – history, science, philosophy, math, literature, and yes, even religion – have their cultural stalwarts emblazoned on the annals of history and in those stories, there is much to learn of both positive and negative behavior. But none of this is unique to an educational system. Every step of the learning process and its goals can be said to be also true of the process of discipleship. And, the sharing of faith and converting of disciples far predates the structure of an educational “system.” The making of converts has at its heart the transference of information, the hope of application, and the betterment of a society. Therefore, education is inherently theological in nature.

So while we have tried to separate the role of the church from our educational system, we cannot ignore that they are more alike than dissimilar, and more compatible than not. This is why it is so critical to look at what we are teaching, and what information is being transferred. We must look at the ways in which religion can benefit our educational system, not harm it. Not only that, but the methods that we teach, and how we present the information, must be shared in meaningful ways – ways in which our students can obtain and connect with the information itself. Unfortunately, there is so much information out there; we must also give students tools to filter this information and a sense of the purpose and benefit of having this information. Otherwise, it will become as static on a radio to them. The value we place on education does matter, just as does the value that we place on our faith. Christians must acknowledge the need to study and learn the Bible regularly. Scripture is pretty clear about that, as seen in this passage from Deuteronomy 6:7, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Loosely translated, that implies that we should be studying God’s word all day long, and that seems like a pretty high value.

We must remember that we have a choice in this country when it comes to how we educate our children. And we must remember to apply the basic goals of faith to our educational choices. For instance, does the educational program that you are using include time for spiritual as well as mental growth, or does it focus only on “fun” stuff? There can be lots of fun in learning, but when the lesson plans emphasize P.E. or Choir, for instance, over core material and calls to application, then there is something missing. The program or lesson is void of “fruit,” and empty. Another implication of our educational choices is the effect of them on our character and the character of our students. If religion and history have shown us anything, they have shown us that time and time again, a leader of good character can impact many for a positive change, but a leader of poor character can tear down those around him or her. This truth is not only for history. A Christian should be concerned for their character and reputation at all times. As the saying goes, you are a walking billboard for Christ and what you “preach” will always reflect on the kingdom. But this applies to education as well. What values are being emphasized and stressed in your educational system and how is that benefitting your reputation, or the reputation of your student? These are not light-hearted questions, but nothing of permanence or long-standing value comes without reflection and evaluation. What we do to educate others matters, how we teach it matters, and what value we place on the application of the material at hand speaks volumes of our character.

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Buying a New Home – 5 Reasons to Use a Real Estate Agent

With mortgage interest rates at record lows, many people are considering the purchase of a new home to lock in a low interest rate and save money. For some, the temptation is to avoid working with a real estate agent in an effort to avoid paying commissions, typically as much as 3% of the sales price. Buying or selling a home without the help of an experienced Realtor can be a bad idea and is not recommended.

Consider the following reasons to use a qualified agent when buying your new home:

  1. Professional Help – A Realtor has taken a comprehensive licensing course that covers all of the details required to successfully buy and sell real estate. Agents have also received a lot of additional training from their brokers, not to mention all of the experience a veteran agent has had with other transactions. A good real estate agent will know what to look for when buying a new home, how the contract should read and will know if anything looks out of the ordinary. They will also know how to effectively negotiate on your behalf – this alone could end up saving you thousands of dollars in the long run. Having a good professional on your side of the table when making such a significant purchase is generally a must do and will help ensure everything goes smoothly.
  2. Local Knowledge – Real estate agents spend all of their time working a specific market and as the result, gain a very useful perspective that they can share to help you make the right decision. Agents will know current fair market prices, how long homes are typically listed before selling, where the best locations are and much, much more useful information. It would take a significant amount of time and effort to try to duplicate this knowledge on your own so there is a value in simply paying for it via the commission your agent will collect by helping you.
  3. Database of Current & Potential Sellers – Because a real estate agent spends all of their time talking to potential buyers and sellers, it is very common that an agent will know of a great home that is about to go on the market before anyone else does. Real estate agents also have access to databases of listed homes with a lot of useful information listed that is generally not completely available to the general public. Armed with this helpful information will help you secure the best deal.
  4. Dedicated Time Commitment - Once you tell your real estate agent what exactly you are looking for along with your budget considerations, they will constantly be on the look out for homes that fit your criteria. Keep in mind that they are compensated to help you find something that fits your needs. This motivation generally leads to the perfect new home in the shortest amount of time.
  5. Third Party Representation - When it comes time to negotiate a deal, having a good real estate agent on your side to offer representation can make the process go very smooth. Having your agent negotiate on your behalf often times helps reduce the risk of becoming too emotionally involved, which can lead to bad decisions. Furthermore, your real estate agent has been trained to negotiate properly and will know how to get the best deal and then make sure everything is appropriately outlined in the contract.

As always, not all real estate agents are created equal. If you are planning to buy a home, ask for some referrals from friends and family and interview a few different agents to find a great real estate agent to represent you – it can mean the difference in potentially thousands of dollars in savings, not to mention the right home.

Make the buying process even easier by getting pre-approved for a loan before you begin shopping. Save time and money by Clicking Here to get up to four competing mortgage loan offers.

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Total Fitness Tips – Keys to Getting Into Great Shape

Everyone wants to be healthy. For most of us, being healthy has come to simply mean not getting sick and pretty much being able to do what we want to do everyday. Such a notion may seem too simplistic, but on the face of an ever-growing number of highly-stressed individuals, it seems to work well as a general guide.

If you really want to get technical about it, the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports defines total fitness as “the ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue and with ample energy to enjoy leisure time pursuits and to meet unforeseen emergencies.” The American Heart Association says it’s “a state of body efficiency enabling a person to exercise vigorously for a long time period without fatigue.”

Obviously, total fitness is more than being able to workout a couple of hours each day. It’s a state of body and mind that allows an individual to function at his or her most optimum everyday. It encompasses the whole of life. Total fitness is not some exercise regimen. It’s a lifestyle.

So how do you achieve total fitness? Here five ways:

1. Right Attitude.

This is the first step towards getting totally fit. It is the mind that dictates how a person wants his or her life run. If he wants to be fit and healthy, the conscious decision to behave in a manner that runs consistently with such a philosophy must first be mentally mapped out before it can be carried to fruition. The right attitude is the first crucial step towards achieving total fitness.

2. Regular Exercise.

Physical vigor cannot be achieved by sitting down. Keeping physically active through exercise boosts metabolism and gives an individual the necessary energy to accomplish the tasks that need to be done. Exercise is crucial in reducing your risk of dying prematurely and suffering from debilitating ailments like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and tons of others. Not only does exercise reduce depression and anxiety, it also makes individuals happier and psychologically more prepared to cope with life’s challenges.

3. Healthy Diet.

A healthy from a variety of sources ensures that the body receives adequate nutrient supply to function at its most optimum level. Grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish and dairy should all have a place in a person’s total fitness program. Even the occasional burger or ice cream or French fries can be thrown in. The key is not to overeat on anything. Water is also a must.

4. Stress Management

One of the hindrances that prevent most individuals from achieving total fitness is stress. Work-related stresses account for high rates of substance and alcohol abuse as well as both physical and psychological ailments. If total fitness is to be achieved, stress management is not only necessary, it is also crucial. Keeping priorities and getting organized are just some of the ways to prevent stress. To de-stress, one can indulge in massages, practice meditation and set aside a private time to reconnect with oneself.

5. Prayer

Belief in God or a Being higher than oneself might seem outdated in today’s modern world, but research has consistently proven that people who pray are the ones who are most able to cope with problems and hurdle insurmountable odds. Perhaps it is because prayer releases them from the pressure of having to do things on their own. Those who pray also believe that if they ask, someone who is all-powerful can give them what they need. Total fitness does not only include the body and mind, it takes the soul in consideration too.

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