Short Story: The Private Who Expected Steak

Justin walked around the army camp dejected. He was a new recruit and was still getting used to army life.

Nothing so far was going the way he’d pictured. He wanted steak for dinner—or at least something edible—but instead was served a pot of something or other that tasted more akin to poison. He wanted a soft bed to lie on, but instead he had to sleep on the bare ground. Was a mattress too much to expect?

“Hey, why the long face?” Mark said with a friendly pat on the shoulder.

Justin explained his woes. “Life is just so hard,” he wined. “Why does it have to be this way?”

To his surprise, Mark looked like he was working hard to restrain a laugh. “Did you really think the army would be easy?”

“Would you please explain what is so funny?” Justin asked.

“Sorry,” Mark apologized, trying to put on a serious look. “It’s just, well, Justin, you joined an army, not a restaurant.”

Justin squirmed. Mark was right. He’d been forgetting what really mattered.

“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.” 2 Timothy 2:3-6 (ESV)

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV)

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)

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Math Blog: The Learning Process (Plus New Videos)

I recently watched a video on New Year’s resolutions that got me.

In the video, a little girl pointed out that if she wanted to ride a bike, it took more than a resolution. It took a willingness to fall and try again and again.

That illustration seemed to capture very well the learning process. It’s easy to start the new year with resolutions of how much better things will be (or how much better math class will be), but the reality of getting there will involve taking steps…and being willing to get back up when we fall.

As students try to improve problem-solving skills and stretch themselves, they will likely get problems wrong, just as we will fall off a bike when learning to ride. It’s part of the learning process. And as you try to teach math from a biblical worldview, you will likely fall short of what you hoped. Make sure you’re striving for the right goals–for God’s goals. But if you are, don’t give up–get back on that bike 🙂

New Videos
For the last several months, I’ve been working on an eCourse supplement to go alongside Book 2 of Principles of Mathematics…and it’s now finished! In the videos, I present the various concepts step-by-step. Whether you’re using the Principles of Mathematics program or not, feel free to check out some of the sample videos. I’ve put together a page with more information about the video eCourse.


This feedback made my day yesterday.

“Thanks again. We love this book – it’s the first year in about the last 8 years that we haven’t had tears in our math time with this child, and she loves seeing the connections in math to real things that God created.” – Debby [referring to Principles of Mathematics: Book 1]

Short Story: Make Time to Eat

Olivia steadied herself on the counter. Why was the world spinning? She shook her head, trying to shake away the blurriness and focus again on the task before her.

It was no use. She couldn’t keep standing. Wearily, she sank into a chair, burying her head in her hands.

She just didn’t get it. A few days ago she had so much energy and felt like she could conquer the world. Now, she felt like a complete failure and could hardly keep standing. What was wrong with her?

Olivia’s sister Sophia came to her side, giving her a gentle side hug. “Oh, Sophi, what’s wrong with me?” Olivia cried, burying her head on her sister’s shoulder.

Sophia listened patiently as Olivia recounted the week’s adventures. “I just feel so tired out,” Olivia explained. “I want to complete the tasks before me well, but I don’t have any energy to do it. I can’t think straight at all.”

“When was the last time you ate?” Sophia’s gentle question was the last one Olivia expected, but one she needed to hear. When was the last time she ate? Come to think of it, her last real meal was several days ago now. Her only other food had been small, rushed snacks here and there, along with some junk food.

“I’ve had so much to do, I’ve not really had a good meal in days,” Olivia confessed.

Sophia nodded. “That’s what I thought. My dear sister, there’s no way you can complete what you need to do unless you nourish yourself! And I don’t mean just a quick snack here and there. You need a real meal. Your body simply wasn’t made to run without good food.”

Olivia was surprised that, after a good meal, she could suddenly think clearly again and walk without the world spinning. How different life looked when properly fed! No matter how busy life got, she needed to make time to eat.

 But he [Jesus] answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 (KJV)

Short Story: Why Didn’t You Tell Me?

A Christmas Note

What incredibly good news we have to celebrate this Christmas–Jesus came, took the punishment we deserved, rose again, and now offers eternal life to those who will believe upon Him!

I hope the story below will encourage you to share that good news with others. As atheist Penn Jillete said, “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

Wishing you a blessed Christmas season!



Short Story: Why Didn’t You Tell Me?

Jeremy could hardly believe it.

His debt, which he never thought he’d ever be able be able to pay, was paid! This debt was not just any debt–it was a serious one that would have one day cost him his very life. To say he was excited was to put it mildly.

At first, Jeremy told everyone he could. After all, the King who paid his debt offered to do the same for others too. This was the best news ever!

Yet after a few people refused to believe Jeremy, Jeremy got discouraged and stopped telling others. Instead, he kept it to himself.

One day, some time later, Jeremy’s friend Mat came bounding into Jeremy’s hut. “You’ll never believe it!” Mat exclaimed excitedly. “My debt has been paid!”

Jeremy smiled. “My debt’s been paid too. It’s been a couple of years, actually.”

Matt stared at Jeremy in shock. “Then why didn’t you tell me? How could you keep such news to yourself?”

Jeremy wasn’t sure how to respond. “It’s just–” he took a step closer to Matt, but Matt drew back, offended.

“How could you claim to be my friend when you didn’t tell me about this? You would have let me die without telling me of the King’s offer of salvation?”

Once again, Jeremy didn’t have an answer. He hung his head, realizing how foolish he’d been. “Forgive me,” he whispered. “Shall we go tell others?”

Together, they headed out to tell everyone they could the good news. Of course, some didn’t believe them. But others did. And either way, Jeremy discovered there was tremendous joy in telling others such good news. It continually filled his heart with joy again over the gift he’d been given. Oh, why hadn’t he shared before?

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” Luke 2:11-17 (KJV)


Evangelism Resources & Christmas Ideas

If you’re struggling with how to begin sharing the good news of Jesus (I know I did for years), there are a lot of helpful evangelism resources and ideas at Here’s a simple idea a friend shared with me that you could use this time of year: hand someone a candy cane and ask if you can share the story of the candy cane (you can easily find it online). You can use that to start talking about how Jesus came to be the Good Shepherd–to lay down His life–to take the punishment for our sin! Or ask what they think is the most important thing about Christmas…and what will be the most important thing the moment after they die.


Short Story: Super Busy…on Sandcastles

Short Story

Short StoryEmma was busy–very busy. Her little mind raced with all the things she needed to get done on her sandcastle city. To her, getting her castle just right seemed to be the most important thing in the world.

Little did Emma dream that soon the ocean would sweep away all her work. She was stressing about something temporal and fleeting, and letting it rob her of really enjoying her day at the beach. Why, she practically ignored her father and those around her in her obsession with her sand creations, not realizing that she was ignoring the important for the unimportant.


And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 John 2:17 (KJV)

“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” John 6:27 (KJV)

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14 (KJV)


The Grand Canyon, Finding Joy in Math, and New Video Supplement

I wanted to quickly share a couple of articles I’ve recently had published. I hope they encourage you in your math journey and remind you to find joy in math as you praise the Creator and see math as a way of exploring God’s handiwork and completing the tasks He’s given you to do. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, and please feel free to share these with your friends.

Math, Assumptions, Dating Methods, and the Grand Canyon

On a recent trip to the Grand Canyon, I was reminded of how misunderstood dating methods have become. We hear dates quoted as fact so often that they’re held up as mathematical fact. Few understand that the answer to a math problem is only as accurate as the starting information—and that in the case of dating methods, that starting information is based on unverifiable assumptions.

Finding Joy in Math
If the words “joy” and “math” don’t seem to go together in your mind, please take a look at this article I wrote for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Math transforms when we look at it from a biblical worldview.

Principles of Mathematics eCourse
New Video Supplement

The video supplement for Book 2 of Principles of Mathematics is now available to start (I expect it to be completely finished in early 2017).

Short Story: Enjoy the Gift You’ve Been Given

Story: Gift Given

Story: Gift Given“Wow!” the exclamation came almost collectively from everyone in the room as Jessica pulled the beautiful sweater out of the wrapping paper. It was gorgeous!

One by one, each of the children finished opening the presents their father had bought them. Each present was different. They ranged from clothing to a bike to jewelry to electronics. Although the children didn’t realize it at the time, each gift was exactly what the recipient needed.

In the following days, however, a strange thing happened. Each one, rather than enjoying his or her own gift and using it to serve others, wished for what one of the other children had. Jessica longed for the mobility Sarah had with her bike; Sarah wished she had the sweater.

It took awhile for the children to stop comparing and to simply start enjoying the gifts they’d been given. When they did, however, they discovered the joy of embracing what they’d been given with thankfulness, discovering that their father had given each of them a special present…and the responsibility to use that present well.

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Colossians 3:15 (KJV)


Short Story: Enjoy the Journey

Short Story

Short StoryAlthough Emma had told her father he could drive her wherever he chose, she seemed to be having a hard time relaxing and letting him do so. Every so often, she had actually grabbed the steering wheel, attempting to turn the car where she thought it should go.

Then she’d remember and let go again, relaxing for a few minutes and letting her father drive. That is, until she forgot again…

“You know,” her father reminded her after she began panicking about the direction they were going. “I’ve got this trip all planned out. I know where I’m going.”

Emma smiled up at her father, a wave of relief splashing over her. Her father knew just where he was taking her, and he knew and loved her perfectly. Why did she keep thinking she knew better?

“Now,” her father continued, “how about relaxing and enjoying the journey? Look out that window—isn’t that a beautiful sight?”

Emma gasped as she looked out the window. The sun was rising, spreading warmth and light in all directions. What a breathtaking scene she’d been missing out on!

“Oh, Father!” she cried. “I don’t want to miss out on one more minute of the journey.”

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (KJV)

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (KJV)

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The God We PraiseLooking for a way to cultivate a heart of gratitude in your children?

Check out the Thanksgiving Devotional, the God We Praise. For the 21 days leading up to and including Thanksgiving, look at an attribute of God each day together. The devotional includes coloring pages for children (along with instructions on how to put them together into their own little books), as well as fun activity ideas that reinforce that day’s readings.

[thrive_link color=’green’ link=’’ target=’_self’ size=’medium’ align=”]Learn More[/thrive_link]


Why Do I Have to Learn That?

Photo credit: Ignacio Sanz via Visual hunt / CC BY-SA

I recently looked at various college math materials, and they reminded me why so many students hate math. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought math was a meaningless set of rules I had to memorize—a subject designed to give me a headache.

However, nothing could be further from the truth! While math does have a lot of rules, there’s a purpose to it! Those rules help us describe and explore God’s creation.

As one example, consider the branching pattern of trees. Did you know that math helps us describe it? Well, it does! Fractal geometry helps us describe the branching pattern of trees, as well as many other aspects of God’s creation. (To learn more, check out the blog post I recently wrote about fractal geometry and trees over on the Creation Club website.)

Many students grow up thinking they hate math because they’ve never really been taught what math is. They’ve not seen it as a practical tool that helps us explore God’s creation and complete the tasks He’s given us to do.

If you have a student(s) that dislike math, try stepping back from the mechanics for a bit and showing math in action. Help them understand why what they’re learning matters. If you need some ideas, check out the sample pages from Revealing Arithmetic, Principles of Mathematics 1, and Principles of Mathematics 2. While the samples are designed to give you a flavor for the materials, some of the ideas can be used on their own with students even if you don’t purchase the materials.

Along those lines, here’s a simple challenge: make a list this week with your student(s) of all the ways you see math used (including simple ways, such as the numbers on a clock or microwave). You both might be surprised.

Principles of Mathematics

Need help teaching students math with a purpose?
Check out the Principles of Mathematics curriculum!

We just started using Principles of Mathematics 1 with our 7th grader. This particular 7th grades despises math. The previous years have been filled with tears, frustration and always asking the question “why do we need math?”. After hours and hours of searching, I found Masterbooks and Principles of Mathematics. I picked it because IT EXPLAINS WHY WE DO MATH!!! YAY!!! Our 7th grader was skeptical at first but after just a couple days he CHOSE to switch from the year schedule to the accelerated schedule. Woo Hoo! He enjoys doing math. So thankful!


Short Story: If Plants Were People…

Short Story: If Plants Were People...

It was a very strange garden.

Short Story: If Plants Were People...It had been planted by the gardener, with each plant lovingly and thoughtfully chosen. The gardener had put a wide variety of plants in his garden—ones of every hue, texture, and height. Some were designed to bear large, showy flowers; others were to provide a restful green backdrop. Some were designed to cover the ground; others to grow high and provide shade. They were all designed to grow strong where they’d been planted, only in different ways.

But these plants, rather than simply growing and being all they were created to be, started comparing themselves with each other. Some of the large, showy plants began holding back their flowers (they didn’t want to look so conspicuous), while others puffed out abnormally wide in pride over their beauty. The background plants felt badly that they didn’t have flowers and thought they didn’t matter. The tall plants began stooping so they wouldn’t look so much taller than the others, while the shorter ones exhausted themselves trying to grow tall. The ones in the shade drooped, wishing they could be in the sun; the ones in the sun drooped, wishing they could be in the shade.

The silly plants didn’t realize that they’d been created and placed where they were placed for a purpose. They were all part of the same garden, and each one needed to do its job.

“But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” 1 Corinthians 12: 20-21, 27 (KJV)