The Throughlines

Community Building

We are Community-builders when we actively pursue and build communal shalom – when our classrooms are communities of grace, and when staff and parents unite to nurture faith and understanding of the world in which we live. We are community builders when we participate in the Terry Fox run together as an ECDP-9 school, when our older elementary students read with our younger elementary students, and even when families come together in fun and festivities during BBQs and open gym nights. Doing life in the Kingdom without other people is not an option.

One of the most well-known Biblical metaphors is that of Christian community and the body. We need all the parts to work together in order to experience health and true flourishing. However, just as maintaining a healthy body is not something that happens by itself, shalom does not happen without careful attention to our activity…or lack thereof.

Our students need to learn and experience that community is built through our engagement, attitudes, words, working through conflict, and acts of kindness. This is something that we all need to learn. We are all called to be community-builders!

Image Reflecting

While we don’t always act righteously, and while we don’t always do things successfully, what we are is image bearers of God.

~ Larry Day

Students bear the image of God in their daily lives. All humans are image reflectors. Being an image bearer isn’t something we do. It is deeper than that. Image bearer is what we are.

We reflect God’s image! We are all image bearers of Christ! Think about it like a mirror – the image of the ‘real person’ is reflected in the mirror. You don’t see the actual real person, but you see what she is like. All the characteristics we admire in God are also within us – we are His reflection.

People around us often form impressions of who God is by looking at God’s followers. We all need to learn that while we are image bearers, we can distort the image by what we do. The more Christ-like our actions are the more clearly Christ’s light shines in a dark world.

Creation Enjoying

Have you ever seen a sunset, or mountain range or a baby’s tiny hand that made you sing? Then you are a Creation Enjoyer!

We are Creation-Enjoyers when we discover and celebrate God’s beautiful creation. Creation enjoying is looking at, talking about, studying creation. Ordinary things become extraordinary when we see them from this perspective. It is all about noticing and drawing attention to what there is to be seen in God’s world. Creation enjoying is helping to coax the “songs of joy” (Ps. 65:8) from ourselves and from our students. This beautiful creation is a gift. We all know how much fun it is when we give someone a gift and they really love it; that is what it’s like for God when we and our students get out, experience, and rejoice in the gift of creation. Once exposed to this “Through-line” students will discover and celebrate God’s beautiful creation.

Beauty Creating

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. – Genesis 1:31

Beauty awakens us. It reminds us of our noble heritage. And these reminders are everywhere! They are literally shouted by the world around us – by “the plants, rocks, animals, sea creatures, insects, the skies and beyond, and especially people” (TfT Handbook) we experience on a day-to-day basis. Like the psalmist David, we praise Him “because [we] are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), and do so by engaging in creative acts of our own that reflect His goodness. More than flattery, our imitation of God’s creative works can be an act of worship. In this way, our cooking, constructing, writing, moving, playing, planting, designing, and working is redeemed and can be something beautiful in His sight.

We are called to be Beauty-Creators, and as we take up this calling, we have the opportunity to awaken in others their “noble roots as image-bearers created in goodness” (DeGroat), and restore brokenness in our world. Our art, music, and stories – in the hands of the great Redeemer – can be used for such grand purposes! As such, at Cedars, we seek to stimulate, encourage, develop, and “fan into flame” (2 Timothy 1:6) the gift of creativity in our students – that they may serve the Creator and engage in restorative work in His Kingdom. May He continue to bless this work and use it for His glory.

Idolatry Discerning

Simply stated, if we don’t worship God, we worship something else. If we have not placed Him first, we will have other things to take that place. Romans 1:25 describes how the Romans had “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator.”

We believe that no area of study is ever neutral; it always has values attached to it. Learning about and discerning these values tell us about those who produce them, what they think is important, and what they believe is true. It tells us about the values of cultures, times, and belief systems. Christian education is concerned with pointing out the values that surround the topics. Students must understand that worldviews affect what people believe, say, and do.

Therefore, students need to learn to “read” a worldview. They need to ask questions about what is being portrayed in regard to culture, values, and belief systems. When the through-line of “Idolatry-Discerners” is a focus, students will be challenged to identify and understand the idols of our time (as well as times past); to lay bare these idols.

It is our sincere desire that our students will be God-worshippers and will be able to say with humility and wisdom, “I am an Idolatry Discerner”.

Justice Seeking

In our classes, in our churches, in our families, we are called to seek justice – living out the breaking-in reality of God’s kingdom in which “a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man [Messiah] will sit on it – one from the house of David – one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness” (Isaiah 16: 5). May the following prayer (adapted from Steenwyk and Witvliet, 2013), be our community prayer:

God of love and justice, we long for peace within and peace without.
We long for harmony in our families,
For shalom in the midst of struggles here and across the seas.
We long for the day when our communities will be a dwelling place for Your love.
Yet we confess that we are often anxious,
we do not trust each other, and we harbor violence.

The prophet Micah has declared:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

In a broken and fearful world, Lord and Savior give us courage
to pray without ceasing,
to take risks and make sacrifices that love requires,
to unmask idolatries in school, church, and culture,
to hear the voices of peoples long silenced,
and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace. Amen.


Earth Keeping

We are Earth-Keepers when we steward the natural resources that God has created and entrusted to us for our management and enjoyment. Our aim in focusing on this through-line is to help students understand their role and respond to God’s call to be stewards of His creation. In our global economy, earth-keeping is not only about stewarding the environment, it’s about the challenge of living lives that balance our wants and needs with those of other people. This means those living close by and those living on the other side of the world from us, both now and for the future. The Biblical story is one of restoration, of people to be sure, but in its fullness of all creation. We hope to instill in our students a deep understanding of their role and responsibility as caretakers of Creation; We are Earth-Keepers!

God Worshipping

We are God worshippers when we are involved in regular and meaningful worship experiences. Glorifying and praising God is a joyful duty of being an image bearer. In fact, Christ says that if we don’t praise God, the rocks themselves will cry out. (Luke 19:40) And they do! Upon seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, Hendrik Vonloon exclaimed: “I came an atheist – I leave a believer!”

Students understand that worshipping God is about celebrating who God is, what God has done and is doing, and what God has created. It is literally about standing in awe and wonder of knowledge of him and his promises. Students see this worship as a way of life.

God obviously takes delight in chickadees, giraffes and northern lights, but also wants us to delight in Creation. That’s one of the reasons why we teach – to draw attention to God’s creation and its wonder and weirdness. Albert Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is!”

God gave us this world to enjoy, to play in, to explore. We worship God when we enjoy the delicate complexity of a butterfly wing and a tiny seedpod, or the immense awe of a sharp edged mountain ridge, and a towering thundercloud. We also realize, when we see this beauty how much God love us.

Together in community, we join in worship of our God.

Order Discovering

As developing disciples of Christ, we want our students to become Order-Discovers; ones who find harmony and order in God’s Creation. In the subjects we teach, students should continually be in the practice of noticing God’s handiwork, His ‘Fingerprints’ on all he has created. Creation is ordered; not random or chaotic.

Psalm 19:1-3 states; The heavens declare the glory of God; and the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

It is crucial that students continually learn what it means to love God and each other as the Bible instructs us. This sets an order that often flies in the face of worldly social orders and even playground ‘me, me’ attitudes and actions. Students need strong modeling from Christian adults in their world; including at school. If students don’t sense love as being the core commitment and motivation for what we do at school, then I’m afraid all the Through-line emphasis will not be readily taken to heart.

Students need to be loved, love God and others continually. They need to know this is the top priority, and that ‘who’ we become as disciples and ‘how’ we embrace the Through-lines is a way to ‘live out’ our love in this world.

Servant Working

Actively Healing Brokenness and Bringing Joy to Others

We live in an increasingly sedentary society. Time watching television and time on the computer are more than ever competing for our ‘awake’ hours, and drawing us away from activities that are more productive. Unfortunately, some of these activities also include service to God and others.

To help offset this trend,  we want students to increasingly think about God and others, pray for others and yes, do more to assist others. We want students to have an ‘others’ orientation, moving away from self-centeredness. Actively serving others is a tangible way of loving others. Service does not come naturally for most of us, yet can become increasingly common practice when we expect it as the norm, practiced and at the forefront of our priorities. With the help of the Holy Spirit, teachers should deliberately cultivate service mindsets for their students.

At Fort McMurray Christian School we celebrate not only what students can learn, but what they can do and become as disciples of Christ!