FBA School Administrator Mr. Rider
FBA School Administrator Mr. Rider

Mr. Rider's Blog

Finishing Strong

April 21, 2017
By Tom Rider

I am always interested to see how something finishes.  There is much to be said about how the job is assigned or tackled but most of us want to know, "How did it end?"  

This past week I had the privilege of treating our seniors to pizza.  I figured if I bought them pizza I could justify sharing a little from my experience in shepherding over 30 senior classes to the finish line.

They are a great group of kids and, as they have been taught to do, they respectfully listened as I encouraged them to finish strong and make wise decisions.

As I left I wondered how we as adults are doing in setting the example in that area.  As I thought and read more about finishing strong I came across this FCA devotional and wanted to share it with you.  It both challenged and blessed me.

Second-Half Strong
BY ADDISON HOWARD JULY 7, 2016

READY 

“Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’ This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” 
-John 2: 9b-11 (NIV)  

SET 

One of the worst feelings in sports is losing after having a big lead. Most of us have been a part of a game in which we got ahead early and then watched a victory slip away. We never see it coming because we become so comfortable with the position we’ve gained that we assume we’re not vulnerable and we slack off. Maybe we play around with the ball in the backfield, or we slow our pace. We might even quit completely or forget some of the fundamentals of the game because of how blind we’ve become.

Many of us know about the first of Jesus’ miracles: turning water into wine. Not only was it the custom in the day to have wine at a wedding, it was a social obligation. So when the wine ran out, it was much more than a minor social embarrassment. Jesus saved the occasion by turning the water into wine. The master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine and made the comment in the verses above. He noted how the best wine was brought out in the latter half of the party.

After hearing of Jesus’ many miracles during his life, this one can often be viewed as simple and insignificant. However, I think it’s worth noting that Jesus saved the best for last. All too often we can treat our faith like the wine at parties. We’ve done a lot in our youth, and we don’t wind up finishing strong. We convince ourselves that because we have already brought our finest out before, we can “rest” and “do less.” We become first-half Christians.

Most teams don’t consider themselves a “second-half team” until they are losing at halftime. But if we enter the locker rooms of our lives and are winning, how do we maintain the lead? How do we keep the mindset of a second-half player while we’re already ahead? Paul tells the Thessalonians to never tire of “doing what is right.” We need to continue to work on our fundamentals, no matter what we’ve already accomplished whether that means spending more time in the Word (Romans 15:4), praying continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17) or telling others the Good News (Matthew 28:19-20). We can’t let the world deceive us into complacency. After all, how often do we let our fans call the plays? In the same fashion, we can’t let the world tell us to “take it easy” or “slow down.” As Paul says in Philippians, we cannot consider ourselves to have taken hold of the prize that Christ has given us. We need to forget what is behind, and strain towards what is ahead (Philippians 3:12).

Be challenged today to bring out your best self for the second half. Don't give up and don't let down, but be encouraged by the strength and endurance received through Christ. Press on and finish strong! 

A Busy Week

April 07, 2017
By Tom Rider

It has been quite a week at FBA! We hosted a six-member team representing ACSI and AdvancEd as they conducted a three-day accreditation visit. The visit went extremely well, and the team is unanimously recommending a full, five-year term of accreditation for our school. Their report and recommendation will need the approval of both the regional commission and the national office so our final approval will be granted in June. A special thank you to all of those who were involved in the self-study, interviewed or otherwise support this effort.

This week also brought Peter Pan to FBA. It is always a joy to attend this annual production of our Fine Arts department. They continue to present a highly professional and entertaining product! It is also a true joy to see elementary, middle and high school students love each other and work so closely together.

Let's agree to take nothing for granted and always be thankful for God's provision and blessing. We are a blessed school!

Accreditation is here!

March 31, 2017
By Tom Rider

This Monday-Wednesday, April 3-5 a team of 6 educators, led by David Holtzhouse, regional director of ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) will be on our campus to observe and evaluate our school for another five year term of dual accreditation with both ACSI and AdvancED.

The information below is taken from the ACSI website and provides an overall view of the process.

ACSI provides a highly regarded accreditation program for secondary, elementary, and standalone and attached preschools. ACSI has partnerships with all of the U.S. regional accreditation agencies. 

Who:  ACSI member schools seek accreditation to validate their quality and verify that they are striving for excellence based on a solid Christian philosophy of education foundation.

What: Accreditation and school improvement assist member schools in changing for the better in an orderly and systematic way. They bring a vigorous dynamic into the school by engaging every school constituent in a process of organizational appraisal.

Why: 

It documents that the school is true to its own foundational statements (mission, vision, core values, goals)

It affirms that the school meets standards of quality established by the international school community

It provides validation of the credibility of the school through a peer review process

It promotes accountability to the school community

It improves instruction targeting increased student achievement

It promotes ongoing instructional improvement through a continuous process of self-assessment and systematic school development

It encourages the evaluation of biblical and spiritual integration of the school

It transfers credits between schools and between nation's school systems

Recognitions: ACSI accreditation is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, I-20 and I-17 forms. Various U.S. state, national, and international recognitions. Endorsement to administer College Board/ACT exams on the school site. Recognition of early education accreditation status in several states, allowing the program to receive higher reimbursement rates for subsidized children.

Eligibility for joint accreditation status with the following:

AdvancEd (North Central Association, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Northwest Association of Colleges & Schools), New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Middle States Association (Elementary and/or Secondary), Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Friends of the Lion 2017

March 24, 2017
By Tom Rider

Dear Friend of FBA,

As many of you know, we are in the midst of celebrating our twentieth anniversary for FBA as well as our tenth anniversary for our high school.  Remembering is a God-given responsibility.  In scripture after scripture, God instructs His people to not only remember His goodness and His faithfulness, but to teach their children to do so also. Deuteronomy 8:2 says "You shall remember the WHOLE way that the Lord your God has led you....

As we embark on yet another "Friends of the Lion" campaign, I would encourage you to remember. Our first "Friends of the Lion" campaign in 2004 had a goal of $30,000.  We met that goal and God has continued to bless and provide. We are again asking you to help us meet our current need for 2017-18 of $500,000.00. 

Earlier this fall we gathered our entire student body on our athletic field to celebrate our twentieth anniversary along with our church staff.  We "shaped" ourselves in the form of a "20" as a symbol of our unity in accomplishing God's mission for FBA: "Partnering with parents to develop students with Christian character and a biblical worldview equipping them for life, learning and leadership." 

I need you to join in this mission.  I am asking that all of our current friends and family consider increasing their donation by 20% as a means of remembrance.  If you are not currently a donor, I would ask that you prayerfully consider becoming a Friend of the Lion.  Current students are already completing their financial aid applications and new students will be joining them soon.  

In a recent blog post, my good friend Glen Schultz, author of the book Kingdom Education, dealt with the issue of giving from Christ's perspective found in Luke 20. Referring to a Roman coin, Christ said these words, "Give Caesar what is his and give God what is His."  The application takes on new meaning when we think about the previous question which dealt with whose image is stamped on the coin.  The obvious answer was Caesar's. That leads to the most relevant question of all: Whose image is stamped on your life? The answer is clear for we are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26.)  If God's image is stamped on our lives, then all we have is His and we are blessed to give back in deep gratitude.  

Won't you consider making a gift to FBA today?  Details concerning that process can be found on the "Support Us" page of our website.

In closing, I want to share the lyrics of the song "My Tribute."  As you read these words, I ask that you open your heart and mind to God's prompting and prayerfully consider a gift to FBA as a sign of gratitude for God's goodness and faithfulness.

My Tribute
By Andrae Crouch
 
How can I say thanks for the things
You have done for me?
Things so undeserved yet you gave
To prove your love for me
The voices of a million angels
Could not express my gratitude
All that I am, and ever hope to be
I owe it all to thee
 
To God be the glory, to God be the glory
To God be the glory for the things he has done
With his blood he has saved me
With his power he has raised me
To God be the glory for the things he has done
Just let me live my life and
Let it be pleasing Lord to thee
And if I gain any praise, let it go to calvary
With his blood he has saved me
With his power he has raised me
To God be the glory for the things he has done
 
Please prayerfully consider making a gift today!

For the Kingdom,
 
Tom Rider
Pastor of Academy Education/School Administrator
First Baptist Academy 

Family

March 10, 2017
By Tom Rider
Here at First Baptist Academy "Family" is one of our core values.  In our annual master plan we always state both our mission as well as our core values (available on our website).
 
The section on Family states:
 
Definition
God has given parents the primary responsibility of educating their children; therefore, FBA is committed to partnering with Christian families in this endeavor.
 
Supporting Scripture
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”  Deuteronomy 6: 5-7
 
Operating Principles
We are ourselves accountable to God’s Word through consistent Christ-like lifestyle, disciplining in love and training students to make biblical based choices.
Educational partnership occurs when the home, church, and school work in harmony agreeing in purpose, character, and biblical worldview.
Effective communication, encouragement of active parental participation, and assistance in training their children to fulfill God’s purpose for their lives best serves the family.
 
I love the fact that we recognize God assigned prominence of family, and I am praying that our upcoming spring break will find our families spending time together to strengthen those all important family ties.

Exercise!

March 03, 2017
By Tom Rider

I think most adults can relate to the frustration of regular exercise.  We understand it is necessary and are pleased with the results when we discipline ourselves to do so regularly, but it just isn't "fair."  To gain weight or to deteriorate in physical fitness takes little or no effort.  Yet to lose weight or become physically fit is HARD WORK.

Over my adult life I would suspect that I have lost well over 200 lbs.  Not at one time but rather gain ten, lose five, gain two, lose four, gain 20...you get the picture.  But no matter how frustrating or difficult it is, the benfits of regular exercise are indesputable.

In his book 10 Leadership Maneuvers, General Reno deals not only with physical exercise but also mental exercise and even spiritual exercise.  Since I assume most of us are well versed in physical exercise (we know what to do), let's look at the other two: mental and spiritual.

Mental Exercise - General Reno identifies five components of mental exercise: Reading, Listening, Engaging, Sport and Writing.  I have found it a valuable discipline to always be reading both a book for my spiritual growth and a book just for enjoyment.  Listening is a lost art and may be the most precious gift we give to another individual.  For Engaging, General Reno suggests "engaging in conversations and discussions on topics about which we are not authoritative" as a form of mental exercise.   He identifies Sport as participating in mental games such as puzzles or board games.  Lastly, he recommends writing as it focuses the mind and provides clarity.

Spiritual Exercise - at the heart of this maneuver is the discipline of daily devotions.  Taking the time out of every day to hear from God (reading His Word). By listening to God (through meditation on His Word and being still) and talking to God (praying), we equip ourselves for those things that will be a part of our day that we simply are not prepared for.

These disciplines or "manuevers" are excellent tools for discipling our children to be all God has called them to be.

4HG

February 24, 2017
By Tom Rider

I believe it is very healthy to regularly review and affirm what we believe and how we practice those beliefs.  Here at First Baptist Academy we often hear or use the phrase 4HG which stands for "For His Glory."  I love that phrase and enjoy hearing students use it or apply it to a situation.  However, it is not an easy phrase to explain.  It has many different facets and can be quite complicated.

How can we, as finite beings, give glory to God?  Why would we need to?  God's glory is infinite in nature.  It cannot be diminished and is never in need of replenishing.  In Exodus 33 Moses asks God to show him His glory.  The Lord's answer is very helpful in answering our questions.  He says, "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy."  God was pointing out to Moses that His glory is the composite of His attributes.  So one way we can give glory to God is by placing His attributes on display in our lives.  Attributes such as love, patience, mercy, and kindness.  When the people around us see these attributes played out in honest living, it brings glory to God.  It is important for us to know and practice the fact that we cannot add to God's glory, but rather we proclaim it in how we live our lives.

Note:  Much of this information was taken from a devotional by John MacArthur in his book, "Drawing Near."

Leadership Maneuver # 9

February 17, 2017
By Tom Rider

The ninth leadership maneuver identified in General Reno's book 10 Leadership Manuevers is "show accountability".  The question as to who is responsible for an event or result is asked often in our culture.  Most often the response is, "someone else".  Even as Christians we are often quick to point the figure somewhere else, even when it should be pointed at us.

As a young school administrator a mentor of mine gave this difficult advice.  "Tom, always start with yourself when you are looking to cast blame.  Chances are the fault is partly yours."  Ouch!  However over the years I have found this advice to be helpful.  It is rare that one person shares the blame or responsibility for something.  Knowing and accepting the responsibility that is truly ours is a wise and biblical action.

General Reno points out in his book that accountability has not only a negative side but a positive side as well.  We ought to be as tenacious in assigning responsibility for success as we are for failure.    He puts it this way, "The leader who praises often but corrects seldom will see discipline erode.  The leader who corrects often and praises seldom will find people working in fear." 

A final thought concerning showing accountability.  General Reno points out that the verb is "show", not "require".  The idea here is that as leaders, even in our families, we need to accept and admit responsibility for a mistake.  I love his quote, "the only person who doesn't make mistakes is the person who isn't doing anything".  I often tell students that making mistakes is normal, it is part of life, where we fall is when we keep making the same mistake over and over.  

Let's purpose together to show accountability to our families, our friends and our ministries.

Set the Course...and the Pace

February 10, 2017
By Tom Rider

The next leadership manuever to examine is "Set the Course...and the Pace."  In this chapter the author, General Loren Reno points out that leadership involves far more than just setting direction.  As an avid golfer, I understand his point.  As I stand over my golf ball and prepare to advance it towards the goal, I cannot be focused only on direction but rather I must consider distance as well.  To hit the ball directly towards the flag but go 30 yards past is not success.  Nor is to hit it 20 yards short.  A good golfer has to be concerned with both distance and direction, among other things!

General Reno encourages leaders to set the course (direction) but also focus on the pace.  Great frustration can set in when a leader has to get followers to move faster than they are comfortable or able to move.  Often times going slower can be harder than going faster.  When we ask to go slower or have more time, it can be mistaken as weakness when it really is wisdom.

There may be no better place to observe this than in the rearing of children.  As parents we tend to overfocus on direction, making sure our children know right from wrong, how to respond respectfully, and how to properly ask for help.  What we often miss is pace.  We sometimes are in a hurry, hence the phrase, "Why don't you just grow up?" or "Act your age."   

I distinctly remember complaining around my family dinner table many years ago about middle school students and how they were always acting immature and foolish.  My daughter, who was in elementary school at the time, asked me (with a very sincere tone), "Dad, how many wise decisions did you make when you were twelve?"  Ouch!  I really couldn't think of one!

So as we train our children in the manuevers of leadership, let's not just be focused on direction but keep in mind the concept of pace as well.

Thy Word, My Word

February 05, 2017
By Tom Rider

The theme this year at FBA is Thy Word, My Word.  It was chosen to remind all of us of both the power and value of knowing and applying God's Word to our lives.  I recently came across an old hymn entitled "Lord Be Thy Word My Rule".  A word about the author:

Christopher Wordsworth was both a scholar and athlete in his student days. Later, he served as headmaster of Harrow Boys School (1836-50), which future prime minister Winston Churchill would attend a century or so later. Wordsworth was also Vicar at Stanford-in-the-Vale, Berkshire (1850-69), and Archdeacon of Westminster, and became Bishop of Lincoln in 1868. A recognized Greek scholar, he also wrote theological and other works. Of his hymns, he said, "It is the first duty of a hymn to teach sound doctrine and thence to save souls." His works include "Lord Be Thy Word My Rule" whose chorus may be seen below.

Lord, be Thy Word my rule,
In it may I rejoice;
Thy glory be my aim;
Thy holy will my choice.
Thy promises my hope;
Thy providence my guard;
Thine arm my strong support;
Thyself my great reward.

Monday, March 5
The topic at our parents "Coffee with Mr. Rider" centered on the social media. The emergence of Facebook and other social media outlets is changing how people communicate. Originally many educational institutions banned facebook from their campus, including FBA. The social media providers have addressed this issue and now many schools are using elements of social media as a means of teaching and reinforcing educational objectives. I have initiated a task force to see how this might affect our school.

The primary focus of our conversation, however, was my question to the parents as to the school's role in responding to concerns about inappropriate photos or language on an individual student or parent page. We probable average 2-3 calls a month from an individual suggesting we "investigate" a particular facebook page. From a practical standpoint this is not possible. Unless the page is open to anyone it cannot be easily accessed. In addition with 530 students as well as parents and employees it simply is not practical or even feasible.

Our conclusion in our time together is that, like many other aspects of life, it is a heart issue. Luke 6:45 says, "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart."

Facebook, like many other facets of our daily life, is a reflection of what is in our heart. When we grasp that concept and properly focus on heart issues a myriad of problems simply disappear.

Friday, February 24
I recently visited Cedarville University, attending their annual Teacher Recruitment Conference and neglected to write an entry for this week's blog. So, I decided I would write one a few days early.

On Thursday we were blessed to have Chip Ingram, respected pastor and author, speak to our Middle School and High School Students at our annual FBA Family Council. He did a wonderful job of clarifying the prescription for worldly love with God's prescription. It was simple, Bible based and a very real need in today's world. A brief synopsis is below.
COMBINED MIDDLE SCHOOL/HIGH SCHOOL SESSION.
The world's prescription for love and relationships.
1. Find the right person. 2. Fall in love 3. Fix your hopes and dreams on this person for your future fulfillment. 4. If failure occurs, repeat steps 1,2 and 3.
This cycle prepares you for marriage and divorce later in life. 1970 - 4.3 million divorces in USA 1996 - 18.3 million divorces in USA
Divorce consistently brings pain, fall out and damage for decades after the event.
Gods prescription for love and lasting relationships. Ephesians 5:1,2
1. Become the right person. (imitator of Christ; Kind compassionate, forgiving) 2. Walk in love v. 2 3. Fix your hope on God and seek to please Him through this relationship. 4. If failure occurs, repeat steps 1,2 and 3.

HIGH SCHOOL ONLY SESSION
In the high school session Chip gave the students twelve tests to determine if a relationship is based on love or infatuation. I have listed the twelve tests below but would highly recommend his book Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships. (for high school students and their parents). It is also available as a DVD series at his website,
www. livingontheedge.org.

1. The test of time - a real love requires time, infatuation does not. 2. The test of knowledge - love grows out of what you know about a person, infatuation does not require any knowledge. 3. The test of focus - love is always other centered, infatuation is self centered. 4. The test of singularity - you can be infatuated with more than one person, not so with love. 5. The test of security - love is centered on trust, infatuation is characterized by jealously 6. The test of work - love allows for other pursuits and requires that you "work" for each other. Infatuation results in poor decisions and lack of focus. 7. The test of problem solving - love tackles problems, infatuation disregards the obstacles/problems. 8. The test of distance - where distance exists love endures, infatuation fades 9. The test of physical attraction - love brings meaning to all physical activity and is only one part of the relationship. Infatuation centers on the physical. 10. The test of affection - Love culminates in affection, infatuation begins with it. 11. The test of stability - Love lasts, infatuation quickly changes and is unstable. 12. The test of delayed gratification - love is willing to wait, infatuation demands fulfillment.

Monday, February 13
Valentines Day is meant to be a day set aside for us to express our love to those we love. All of us are blessed when someone tells us how much we mean to them or expresses their love for us in a new or unusual way. But what if someone would extend love to us when we were unlovely. Rarely do we experience such an event. Often love is expressed mutually. I love you so I buy you a present, you love me so you buy me a present. You say I look nice I say you do as well. Yet God in His infinite plan for you and me loved us when we were ugly.
Some people live their whole lives and never experience true love. Not only do they never find their "soul mate" or God's choice for their life's partner, they also fail to ever experience God's love. As a member of the FBA family I want to encourage you to insure that you and every member of your family are experiencing God's love. It is only as we experience His love that we become fully equipped to love each other. Let's focus, for more than just one day, on loving each other in such a way that it draws the world to the cross.

Monday, February 6
I apologize for neglecting my blog for the last several weeks. As many of you know Nancy's Mom went home to be with the Lord on January 13th and our lives have been busy with the many details that demand attention when a loved one passes on. As often happens on these occassions I have been reminded, once again, of the fraility of life and also of what really matters. Nancy's Mom was a wonderful Christian lady with a testimony of grace and love. I want to honor her by sharing with you the words that I spoke at her funeral.

When I fell in love with Bonnie's daughter, Nancy, I remember being very anxious to meet her parents, especially her Mom. Someone had once told me that if you wanted to know what your wife would be like in the future, look at her mother. For me that has turned out to be wonderful advice. Among men I am blessed to have had both a godly mother and a godly mother in law. It would not be possible in our short time together to share with you all of the life lessons I have learned from watching the life of Bonnie Mayberry; please allow me to share two. She was truly an incredible woman.

FIRST OF ALL I LEARNED THE LESSON OF COMFORT
Isaiah 66:13
As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; And you will be comforted in Jerusalem."
The gift of comfort is priceless. Bonnie was always prepared, despite her own circumstances, to bestow the gift of comfort. Even her nurses, who ministered to her in her last days, would receive comfort from her when they were trying to bestow the gift to her.

SECONDLY, I LEARNED THE LESSON OF COMPASSION
Ruth 1:16
16 But Ruth said, "Don't force me to leave you; don't make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I'll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; 17 where you die, I'll die, and that's where I'll be buried, so help me GOD--not even death itself is going to come between us!" 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth had her heart set on going with her, she gave in.
For Bonne fulfilling responsibilty was always more important than gaining recognition. In addition, carrying about others needs was always more important than personal happiness.

Bonnie's relationship with Christ her Saviour was real. She would encourage all of us to have the same type of relationship, personal, intimate, real. May her passing serve as a checkpoint for all of us to evaluate our relationship with the Christ of the cross and the people He brings in to our life each day.
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Monday, January 9
I want to encourage all of our FBA Dads to consider attending the upcoming "Courageous Bible Study". For the next 12 weeks we will be meeting at 6:30 am in DC 121 to study God's Word, specifically with the intention of discerning how to be a better father. Many of you, I am sure, have had the opportunity to view the film Courageous. This movie will act as a focal point of our study as we disect the "Resolution" agreement signed by the characters of the film as a means of affirming their committment to be a godly father. Our own Chef Herb will be fixing breakfast for us (cost is only $5) and after a brief presentation we will spend the majority of our time in small discussion groups.

This is a great opportunity to fellowship with other godly men and to take specific steps to strengthen your ability to be the father your heavenly Father desires you to be. I hope to see you there!
Monday, January 2
Do the events and circumstances of life sometimes end differently than you anticipated? I can't imagine that your answer, like mine, is anything but a resounding Yes! As we begin a new year and I reflect on our mission statement, "to develop students with Christian character and a biblical worldview, equipping them for life, learning and leadership", I can't help but see the connection. Our job, as parents, teachers and pastors is to equip our children for a world we cannot see. It is a daunting task but what that God can and will fully prepare us for.

These last two weeks have turned our very differently than I had anticipated. Nancy and I had been anticipating for several months a very quiet two weeks of rest and relaxation. We had a great visit in November with our daughter Jessica and her family as her husband was in Florida on business. We had no plans to go anywhere and no one was coming to Florida for the holidays. However, we, on impulse bought tickets to Baltimore and left Friday, December 16th (the day school let out!) for a quick "grandkid fix" in Baltimore. We returned to Naples on December 20th. On Thursday we received news that Nancy's mom was not doing well and made another quick decision to purchase tickets and fly to Rock Falls, Illinois, on Christmas Day, to visit with her. Three days later her mom was hospitalized and faced with a critical life-threatening decision. It was such a blessing to be there and minister to her. Those of you that know Nancy know her gift is the gift of helps. She is uniquely designed to minister to others and it was a blessing to watch her use her gift.

As many of you know Nancy's mom had surgery to remove her colon. The doctor's gave her a 50/50 chance of surviving the surgery but the infection had become so severe there was no other viable option. God heard our prayers and she is recovering well. Please pray for Nancy as she is still in Illinois.

It is these very types of situations that we want to prepare our children for. Life doesn't always happen according to plan. As the old hymn states, "I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future" May the year 2012 find all of us growing closer to our Saviour.

Monday December 12,
Mty wife Nancy will often send me an e-mail devotional, something that has ministered to her heart that she desires to share. Recently she sent the devotional below, written by Dr. Henry Blackaby.
Small Things Are Not DespisedDaily Devotional for Thursday, December 8th, 2011
For who has despised the day of small things? Zechariah 4:10
The world loves the spectacular. God has proven that He is certainly capable of the extraordinary, but He often chooses to work through the ordinary and seemingly insignificant. In this way He demonstrates His love and His power. Throughout history, God’s answer to a critical time was to send a baby. Isaac, Moses, Samuel, John the Baptist, and Jesus were all born as answers to a time of need. When God delivered the Israelites from the Midianites’ oppression, He intentionally used an army of merely three hundred men to defeat a vastly larger army. He had more soldiers available, but He preferred to demonstrate His power in the way He accomplished His purposes. When Jesus selected His first disciples He could have enlisted a multitude to follow Him, but He chose twelve. It was not the number of disciples but the quality of their walk with Him that would determine how they affected their world. When Jesus fed a multitude, five loaves of bread and two fish from a boy’s lunch were sufficient in the hands of the Lord. Jesus compared the kingdom of God to a mustard seed (Matt. 13:31-32). The mustard seed was the smallest seed known to the Jews, yet it grew into an enormous tree. He also likened God’s kingdom to leaven that is hardly noticeable but raises the entire batch of dough (Matt. 13:33). When children came to Jesus, His disciples assumed they were an annoyance and chased them away (Matt. 19:13-15). But Jesus said that in order to enter His kingdom, people must approach God as a child. Christians often accept the adage “the bigger the better.” We measure success by the number of people involved in our ministry. We seek spectacular displays of God’s power. We must learn to view success as God does. God is interested in the heart; He is pleased with obedience. By: Dr. Henry Blackaby
Monday, December 5
Rutgers University professor Maurice Elias serves as director of the Social-Emotional Learning Lab and coordinator of the Expert Advisory Group to the NJ Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention. He is also academic director of Rutgers' Civic Engagement and Service Education Partnerships program. Below is a portion of an article he blogged concerning being thankful.

If your family is like most families, you took a few moments on Thanksgiving to give thanks for your food, the company of those around the table, and for the good things that happened in the past year. Many of you did this even though it may have not been such a good year, and perhaps you lost people who had been around the table only a year ago, so full of life.

Be assured that this simple act of gratitude is being shown by more and more research to be very healthy for you and for those around you. It's not a vaccination; doing it once a year does not provide the most health benefits. Expressing gratitude is like taking a daily vitamin. Its health benefits require consistency and repetition to yield maximum effect.
Don't take my word for it! Researchers like Robert Emmons, Martin Seligman, Monica Bartlett, and David DeSteno, as well as studies funded by the John Templeton Foundation, have found that keeping a daily gratitude journal, showing appreciation when others give you even minor help, and delivering overdue gratitude to someone who helped you a long time ago all have beneficial effects; those expressions of gratitude that directly involve others often move them to be more appreciative of and helpful to the next people they may meet.

Your gratitude must be genuine, but it need not be earthshaking. Thanking someone for listening to you, for how they prepare food, or for how they tell a story, or noting in your gratitude journal small things for which you are grateful that you might otherwise take for granted (such as a comfortable chair, the way the sunlight enters your room in the morning, or for the energy to get up and start exercising) all can make a positive difference in your life and the lives of those for whom you are grateful.

For teachers, the message is clear: Don't be stingy with your appreciation. Show gratitude for things you "expect" to happen, such as children putting their things where they are supposed to, paying attention, sitting relatively quietly, asking good questions, helping classmates, turning in their homework on time, reading or speaking clearly in class. You will find that these actions will become much more contagious and your students will feel better about themselves and being in school. Note that expressions of gratitude are not the same as praise. They are personal statements from you to your students saying how their actions help you and/or the class in some tangible way.

Monday, November 28
The ability to use ones time wisely is an incredibly valuable yet often rare attribute. It certainly is an ability that lends itself to both our mission statement and our core values. It is, however, one of those "sticky" abilities that is much better caught than taught. I want to challenge you and myself as well, to focus on what we might do to use our time more wisely. The world in which we live fights valiantly for both our time and our money. If your like me you find yourself spending valuable time on invaluable tasks; tasks that you did not consciously choose to do but seem to be thrust upon by someone else, sometimes someone you don't even know. Please don't misunderstand me, there is a very real place in the Christian's life for "doing nothing"; that is time for rest and solitude, time for God to speak, as He desires. My challenge is not to do more or be more active, it is value time for what it is, a gift from God. Romans 14:8 simplifies the Christian life - "For if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. May this coming week see each of us choosing how we spend our time rather than succumbing to the "default mode".
Monday, November 21
Our theme verse for this year is Ezra 7:10 - "For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel." I have been spending some time thinking about that phrase, "to practice it". What does it mean to practice God's Word? My thoughts were immediately drawn to our "Life Goal" for this year; " to use the events of everyday life as a practical means to move us closer to God". I believe that is the very essence of what it means to practice God's Word. It is a critiical component for life, learning and leadership.

Let me illustrate from my own personal experience. On Friday, I was sitting at a breakfast meeting with our athletic director when my cell phone rang. It was my wife, letting me know that a water leak from underneath our kitchen sink and flooded our kitchen, living room, laundry room and guest bed room! As I left to go home (I almost left Billy at the restaurant!) I began to pray and ask God to enable me to use this event to move both Nancy and I closer to Him.
Isn't that what you want for your children? When life throws them a curve ball would you not want them to seize that opportunity to develop that close intimate relationship with God? I'm sure you would but a reminder, it takes practice!

Monday, November 14
As I look back on my 50+ years of life, outside of my accepting Christ as Savior at the age of four, the two most life changing events, for me, have centered around children. As a young teacher, the birth of my first daughter, Jennifer, brought about a monumental change in how I viewed both my life and my vocation. As I held Jenny in my arms I experienced what my classroom parents already knew, I would do anything to make her happy, successful, satisfied.

The second event was the birth of my first grandchild, Nathan. Nancy and I were blessed to have my second daughter, Jessica, and her family (husband Nathan, and grandsons, Nathan and Noah) with us this past week. As Nancy and I picked them up from the airport little Nathan ran the length of the airport hallway and jumped into "Papa's" arms. There was that feeling again, "I would do anything to make him happy, successful, satisfied".

Here's the hard part. Happy, successful, satisfied are not necessarily what God has in mind. In fact, according to scripture, it is definitely not what He has in mind. His goal is holiness, plain and simple. The conformity of a child from a sinner saved by grace to the image of His Son, that is the plan. When we work with God to accomplish that goal the result is joy, faithfulness, contentment; results that are far superior to our own. So here is the question, Are we working with God to bring about His desires for our children, or are we working against Him? Tough question but one that needs to be asked and answered. I pray that I will have the courage to do what is both right and best for my family.

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{C}Monday, November 7
I want to encourage any of our FBA parents reading this blog to attend one or more of our monthly "Coffees with Mr. Rider". This past Friday was well attended but we always have room for one more!
The topic for discussion was "Christian Schools: Is Your Investment Worth It?" I believe that all in attendance would agree that the discussion was very helpful. In these tough economic times it is not uncommon for our families to wonder if the money spent on a private/Christian education is worth it.

The best point of view for examining this issue is to see Christian Education as a long-term investment. Not an expense, but an investment. The primary difference is that the expectation for an investment is that "down the road" one would look back and clearly see how the sacrifice/expense of the past has enabled one to enjoy the future. That viewpoint clearly fits Christian Education.
As a grandad I am very aware that how I raised my daughter Jessica, how she was taught, who her adult models were, are now having a pivotal impact on my two grandsons, Nathan and Noah. If anything I wish I had invested more time and more resources in preparing her to be the mother God has called her to be.

Another vital point is the fact that Christian Education is the only form of education that is truly holistic, it ministers and prepares the whole child, not just academics, not just athletics but addresses the moral and character development of a child, the molding of a life to be conformed to the image of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
We are preparing our children for a world we cannot see or predict. They must have an anchor a base to return to that is both solid and unchanging. That base is the Word of God as exemplified in a personal relationship with Christ. May we remain faithful in preparing the next generation to lead the kingdom of God.

Monday, October 31
October is Pastor Appreciation month. This past Thursday, in elementary school chapel, the pastors of FBCN were recognized and honored by our elementary students. Middle School and High School have also specificallyl found ways to honor our pastors. As I sat in the elementary chapel my thoughts went back to the pastors that have influenced my life. Pastor Rokosh was the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church when I accepted Christ as my personal
Saviour at the age of four. I am thankful for his clear presentation of the gospel that made me realize, at an early age, my need of salvation. I think also of Pastor Booker, my pastor during my teen years. He was a big man, with a wonderful bass singing voice and he and his family did a wonderful job of living Christ and exhibiting His love. I watched Pastor Booker and his wife with their children; it was obvious how much they loved each other.

As an adult I owe an incredible debt of gratitude to Pastor Peter Bissett, who for 28 years served as my pastor in Baltimore, Maryland. He was an incredibly patient man who truly desired "the mind of Christ". It was a gift from God to be a part of Pastor Bissett's ministry.

Now I am blessed, yet again, with a wonderful pastor. Dr. Hayes Wicker is a friend, a boss, a mentor and one of the godliest men I have ever known. I thank God for him and pray God's richest blessings on he and his family.
Wednesday, October 25
I want to encourage all members of our FBA family to visit the Answers in Genesis website located at answersingenesis.com. This website features a expansive set of on-line resources for defense of the authenticity of the Bible, a literal creation and a large variety of other resources. Some of the resources are designed for use by elementary age children while others are specifically for teens to adults.

I was blessed to be a participant in a Pastor's Conference at Answers in Genesis last week. The Lord has laid on my heart a definite burden to further develop the area of Apologetics as a means of accomplishing our mission, to develop students with Christian character and a biblical worldview, equipping them for life, learning and leadership. I recently met with our Bible department and laid out a plan by where we could significantly increase our students ability to meet the biblical mandate of I Peter 3:15, "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear". Knowing what we believe, why we believe and how to intellectually defend it in a kind and gentle manner is critical in preparing our students for positions of leadership.

Monday, October 17
This past Friday night FBA hosted the Chik-Fil-A invitational cross country meet. It was great to see our students compete with other schools. Kudos to Coach Rob Kantner and his staff for a wonderful event! Friday night also saw the high school students at their Homecoming Gala at the Marco Island Marriott. The night was perfect and full of fun events - a scavenger hunt, a delicious meal, a "flash mob" (our students were taught a short routine by a member of the Marriott staff and then held an impromptu performance for the patrons of Quinn's restaraunt) and ended with an outdoor showing of the popular film "Soul Surfer".

Many of the same students who participated in the Friday night events were on hand Saturday morning for the Pregnancy Resource Center Walk for Life. A large group of Middle School students formed a team and raised over $8,000 for this worthwhile cause! What a great weekend!

Monday, October 10
This was a very busy week for me, filled with opportunities to speak to our community about what makes FBA unique and necessary. One opportunity was to serve on a panel discussion for Leadership Collier. (A special thank you to Nancy Graham, principal at Naples High for inviting me!). The panel represented "alternatives to public education" in Collier County. Each panel member was given a few minutes to talk about their "alternative". God was gracious in giving me words to speak in order to properly convey what happens on this campus every day. I shared our mission statement and our focus on the preeminent Word of God and the preparation of the next generation to clearly speak on His behalf, intelligently, capably and in love.

Our Friday night football game brought another opportunity. Praise FM (89.5) has begun to broadcast our games! We were the half-time sponsors and were given several 60 second spots to talk about FBA. Leigh Anne Bates, High School Principal, Lani Mastrangelo, Related Arts Director and myself were all interviewed by Skip, from Praise FM. Skip's first question to me was, "What would I say to a parent who asked why he should consider Christian Education?". Great question, but if we look around and honestly assess what weapons the Enemy has trained on our young people, the answer is quite simple. We are engaged in a battle for the minds and lives of our beloved children. FBA is dedicated to provide all the assistance possible to those parents who see the need and answer the call!

I also want to thank those that were in attendance at our monthly "Coffees with Mr. Rider". We had a great meeting and I am deeply appreciative of the openess and freedom that exists as we strengthen our partnership. I introduced the Terra Nova testing program (see article on the website) but we also had a very profitable discussion on homework, preparing for college and other relevant issues. I would encourage our parents to attend our next "Coffees With" on Friday morning (8:00 am) in our Commons Cafe.

Monday, October 3
This summer, at a Kingdom Education Conference, I had the opportunity to preview the movie, Courageous. Unfortunately, I chose not to. This past Saturday I was privileged to view it with a large group of FBA families. My regrets in not seeing it earlier are two fold. One, it is a very powerful, and emotional film. It's message is both touching and poignant, if you have not seen it bring tissues! I definitely was not prepared for my emotions to be so deeply affected. Secondly, it is extremely thought provoking. It looks at being a father from a clearly biblical perspective. Although my girls are both married and grown I will always be their father and I certainly want to be the type of father that is promoted in this film.

I also want to applaud the ministry of Sherwood Baptist as they are the creators of the film. Some of you may know that Sherwood Baptist is also the home of Sherwood Christian Academy, where my good friend, Glen Schultz, is the school administrator. Glenn is also the author of Kingdom Education, required reading for all FBA families. I was deeply impressed with the quality of the film. There was a wonderful balance between moments of humor and moments of deep emotion. If you were not in the group of over 200 "FBA'ers" that saw the film on Saturday I would strongly encourage you to make time to take your family this coming week.

If you were in the group that went Saturday I want to remind you that I am happy to provide study materials (including DVD clips from the movie) and a leader's guide to any FBA Dad who is willing to lead a four week study based on the movie. Just e-mail me at trider@fbalions.org to register your group and get your materia.s
Monday, September 26
It was my privilege to speak in chapel in both the elementary and high schools last week. We focused on Ezra 7:10 which reads, "For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes in Israel." Ezra, an Old Testament scribe who was called upon to speak truth to his nation, Israel, when they were in the midst of captivity, lived his life according to these three priorities - study God's Word; practice God's Word, teach God's Word.

The importance of living out the word of God cannot be minimalized. We can study and become intimately familiar with what God's Word says but without the elements of practice and teaching, where we model to the next generation how to live a holy and joyful life we will fail.

Ezra was incredibly successful in speaking truth to the people God placed in his path. I pray daily that our FBA family will be as successful as we model God's grace and faithfullness to the next generation.




Monday, September 19
What a busy week on the campus of First Baptist Academy! It was homecoming week and that always brings a lot of excitement and activity. The week culminated with the Homecoming football games versus Coral Shores (we won!) and the crowning of the 2011 King and Queen. Congratulations *Ben Head and Allison Devin! The other members of the court are listed below.

The freshmen class was represented by, Dirk Androff and Maggie Williams.The sophomore class was represented by Howard Murell and Jordan Beaubrin.The junior class was represented by Chris Dorrill and Megan Thorpe.The senior class was represented by Ben Head, Allison Devin, Corey Brecher and Gabby Cordero.
We were also privilege to host our annual Christian College Fair. Over 30 Christian Colleges were represented in our Commons area providing our high school students with an excellent opportunity to talk with a college representative as they seek God's will for the future.

Monday, September 12
What an incredible service at FBCN yesterday! Pastor Wicker was used mightily of God to remind us that God, and God alone, is our refuge and our strength. Everyone remembers where they were on September 11, 2001. As head of school at Arlington Baptist in Baltimore, Maryland I remember pulling all of the middle and high school students into the gym. The threat seemed so real and I wondered if another "Pearl Harbor" was about to occur. We united our hearts in prayer and for the first time for many of our students they prayed, believing that their very life might be at stake. Their prayers were an encouragement to me as I realized that the events of life are often the true barometer of our relationship to Him.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of our God-given work here at FBA is the preparation of the next generation for a world that we cannot see. Change is coming fast, in all areas of life. That is why our mission is critical. Every student must be prepared for life by first accepting Christ as their personal Savior and then prepared for learning and leadership as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

May the remembrance of the events of September 11, 2001 prompt us to renew our committment to work together to do God's work each and every day.








Tuesday, September 6
As many of you know my mother, Charlotte Louise Rider, went home to be with the Lord recently. I want to thank the members of our FBA family (parents, teachers, board members and staff) for the many cards and prayers and also for the beautiful flowers sent in my mother's honor.

The death of a parent is one of those experiences that you simply cannot fully understand until you have experienced it yourself. My mother had been suffering from dementia for the past five years and in a nursing home for almost two. The dementia had taken its toll, she was uanble to speak and was confined to a wheel chair. Often in my prayers, I would ask God, if it would be His will, to take her home. When he did I realized I wasn't ready and memories of lost opportunities to tell her how much I loved her came flooding back.

Perhaps you're wondering how this all fits into a school administrator's blog. It's simple. You only have one opportunity to be a parent to a specific child. Much of what that child will be able to accomplish for God's Kingdom is dependent on a parent's obedience to answer God's call to parenting. I did not choose my Mom or Dad, God did; and I am forever grateful for His grace and kindness. Much of what I do every day has its roots in their love, patience and discipline towards me.
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{C}Charlotte and Thomas Lee RiderKathy and Thomas Wayne Rider
So as a parent, who has received God's greatest gift, outside of salvation (a child) may I encourage you to strengthen your relationship with your children. At the end of your life you will not regret the time you spent preparing them for life, learning and leadership.
Friday, August 19
Summer is over and we are back to school! Our theme this year is "Hearts and Minds for the Kingdom". Our theme verse is Ezra 7:10 "For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel". Both our theme and the corresponding verse fit very well with our mission, "developing students with Christian character and a biblical worldview equipping them for life, learning and leadership.

Our First Look was a wonderful success! It was very well attended and the sense of community was clearly evident. We have so much to be thankful for. Among our many blessings are....

A strong re-enrollment rateA 5% increase in enrollmentA stronger staff with the addition of six new teachers and a 99% return rate of facultyA new high school principal, LeighAnne BatesOver $30,000 of additional technology equipment and updatesOur first international student, Filip Sprlje from CroatiaA new and much improved website to come online in October
Next week I will be sharing our school wide goals and also introducing our new Parent Ambassador program. Please visit this site each week as I will sharing weekly what God is doing on our campus. God Bless!






Monday, May 23
What a blessing our High School commencement exercises were Friday night! Our salutatorian (Claire Daugherty) and valedictorian (Faith Bagley) both did an excellent job in speaking truth to their fellow graduates and gave clear evidence that they have been prepared for life, learning and leadership. Our own Voices of FBA sang and it was my privilege to give the commencement address. The event was very well attended. With only 22 graduates (twice as many as last year!) their were well over 500 people in attendance.

Immediately after the service the graduates were prayed over by friends and family in our Commons. It was a wonderful sight and an appropriate ending for a very special night.

Some of our graduates as well as their parents have asked for the outline from my address to the graduates. You will find it below, I trust God will use it to help all of us make wise decisions.

Make a Decision!3 Myths of Godly Decision Making1. God's will is hard to find, by design - Psalm 110:1052. We need to know everything prior to the decision - II Corinthians 5:73. God's greatest goal for my life is my happiness - Matthew 5:11-123 Counselors for Godly Decision Making1. The counselor of prayer - Matthew 7:72. The counselor of God's Word - Psalm 119:1053. The counselor of wise people - Proverbs 1:53 Checks for Godly Decision Making1. Check your feelings. Matthew 26:392. Check the door. Acts 16:73. Check your watch. Isaiah 40:31

Monday, May 9
A very special thank you to the officers of our parent association TAPT (Teachers and Parents Together) for a very successful golf tournament. Over 90 golfers participated and funds were raised both for student financial aid and also for a new bus. In addition to the officers a special thank you to Lisa Schwartz who played a very important part in putting together our first every Golf Ball Drop! Over 450 golf balls were "dumped" from a helicopter hovering 250 feet above the 18th fairway. Each ball was numbered and the one closest to a pin placed in the center of the fairway received a prize! Thanks again ladies for a job well done, we appreciate you!
Wendy Quinn - PresidentStacy Joanow - Vice PresidentAngela Bradley - SecretaryAngela Tompkins - TreasurerIsabella Doncea - Member-at-Large
Monday, May 2
This past week held two more "firsts" for First Baptist Academy! Hannah Sparacio (grade 7) and Claire Dougherty (grade 12) became the first every FBA representatives to the FHSAA State Track Meet. Hannah represented FBA in the 300 meter hurdles and Claire in the 100 meter hurdles. Congratulations girls!

A second first came Thursday night with the first full length drama presentation by FBA. Students representing elementary, middle and high school came together to give an amazing performance of Annie Jr. Both nights (Thursday and Frida) were sold out with over 1000 people in attendance over the two nights. Congratulations to Related Arts Director, Lani Mastrangelo and our Drama team led by Lori Vallieres. We are blessed to have these talented ladies on the FBA team and we look forward to many more presentations! A special thank you also to our students. I was blessed to have many attendees compliment you on the use of your talents, your positive spirit and the sense of community that was evident to all. 4HG!

Monday, April 18
I want to publicly express my appreciation to Linda Shaw and her Evening of the Arts Committee for a job well done! This past Thursday night a large group of local artists displayed and gave evidence of how they have harnessed their specific gifts and talents and used them for the kingdom of God.

I was blessed to hear several of our students use their musical talents as I attended a small recital in the foyer of our chapel. Not only was I blessed to hear our students play but it also brought back memories of my own childhood and six years of piano lessons! At the time I was not aware of how God would use my talent but later in a college ministry I was able to meet the need for a piano player and it was a real life lesson for me.

As I look back on this year I am pleased with the myriad of opportunities that are provided to our students. FBA has become a fertile ground where a student can discover his/her gifts and then develop and hone them to be used for God's glory. Although we are never to be completely satisfied with where we are personally or professionally (it is a journey not a destination), it is a sight "pleasing to the eyes" to see what God has done and continues to do.

Monday, April 11
As I am fulfilling the duties of high school principal this year I am privileged to conduct interviews for new students. The high school is currently the fastest growing part of the Academy and so I have had the privilege of conducting several new students interviews. The first part of the interview is with the student alone and the first question I ask is "If you could go anywhere you wanted to high school where would you go". The response is very important. If we are to be successful in preparing a teenager for life, learning and leadership, we will need all of his/her cooperation! The second question deals with when and where they accepted Christ as their personal Saviour. It is always a joy to hear how the miracle of regeneration occured in the life of an individual. Please join me in praying diligently for the new students that will come to the Academy for the 2011-12 school year. We want only those that God would have to be discipled here. Pray also for the families of these students. We are a partnership school, focused on right relationships and it is imperative that we have a strong working relationship with every family.
Monday, April 4
A special thank you to those parents who attended this past Friday's "Coffee with Mr. Rider". These open forums, held the first Friday of each month at 8:00 am in our Commons are designed specifically to strengthen the partneship between FBA and parents. Although a specific section of our parent population is invited each month (this month was parents of third through fifth graders) ALL PARENTS are welcome each month.

In Friday's meeting we talked about several issues but I was most pleased with our discussion concerning the transition between Elementary School and Middle School. Linda Shaw, our elementary principal does a wonderful job leading and providing positive programs and guidance. As our parents transition to the Middle School they often wonder, "Will it be the same?" "Will my child experience the same depth of care and concern as in the elementary school". Mr. Mack, our Middle School Principal, did a wonderful job of communicating the Middle School's faculty's dedication to seeing each student as a child of the King and also the importance of relationships in this critical time in a child's development.

I hope to see even more parents at our next "Coffee with Mr. Rider" scheduled for 8:00 am in the Commons on May 6th.

Monday, March 28

I don’t believe that there is a time in the life of our student body that better exemplifies our mission statement than our annual Senior Trip. As we work together to “develop students with Christian character and a biblical worldview, equipping them for life, learning and leadership”, a trip to another part of the world can serve asa “final exam”.

I want to express how proud I am of our senior class. They were well-behaved, respectful and a joy to be with on their recent Senior Trip. They were privilgege to visit Westminster Abbey, Oxford, Stratford upon Avon
(birthplace and home of William Shakespeare), a quaint inn in Wales that is older than our country and Dublin, Ireland.

At every venue we received compliments about our students behavior and character. They are also a tight knit group of students who care deeply for each other Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of working with the student body at FBA.

Class of 2011 at Conwy Castle

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Monday, March 14

The devotional below was very thught provoking to me so I have chosen to share it here, in hopes that in will move all of us forward in our walk with the Saviour. The text for this devotional comes from the award-winning NavPress devotional book Holiness Day by Day by Jerry Bridges. For more information or to order a copy, visit the NavPress website.

"When I talk about specific areas of our subtle, "acceptable" sins, one comment I often hear is that pride is their root cause. While I agree pride plays a major role, I believe there's another sin even more basic, more widespread, and more apt to be the rootcause of other sins. It's the sin of ungodliness, of which we're all guilty to some degree
We don't think of ourselves as ungodly. After all, we're Christians, not atheists or wicked people. How can I say that we believers are all, to some extent, ungodly?
Ungodliness may be defined as living one's everyday life with little or no thought of God, God's will, God's glory, or our dependence on God. You can readily see that someone can lead a respectable life and still be ungodly in the sense that God is essentially irrelevant in his or her life.
The sad fact is that many of us believers tend to live our daily lives with little or no thought of God. We may read our Bibles and pray at the beginning of each day, but then go out into the day's activities and basically live as though God doesn't exist. We seldom think of our dependence on God or our responsibility to him. We might go for hours with no thought of God at all. I believe that all our other acceptable sins can ultimately be traced to this root sin of ungodliness. Ungodliness ultimately gives life to our more visible sins.
Pray that God will make you more conscious of the fact that you live every moment of every day under his all-seeing eye, knowing that he sees your every deed, hears yourevery word, and knows your every thought"

Monday, March 7
The last two weeks have been very busy here at FBA! I attended the Teacher Recruitment Conference at Cedarville University and also made a quick trip to Baltimore, Maryland to celebrate my grandson Noah's first birthday!


At Cedarville I had the privilege of taking a few of our graduates out for pizza. (see below) We had a great time "remembering" as most of them were in eighth grade the first year I came to FBA. We laughed and talked and laughed and talked some more.

For me it was a defining moment. This is what our ministry is dedicated to doing. Preparing students for life, for learning and for leadership. Although the majority of the "credit" goes to the parents it was obvious, for these students, that their time at FBA had been a critical component; that God had used that time to prepare them, not only for the difficult college classes they were experiencing but for life's challenges - finding a job after graduation; finding His choice for a life partner and more.

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good! May we be faithful in all that He has called us to do.



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{C}Happy Birthday, Noah Rider Brown!
Monday, February 14
"Developing students with Christian character and a biblical worldview, equipping them for life, learning and leadership.
In my next few posts I want to take some time to talk about our mission statement and focus on those "equipping" goals - life, learning and leadership. Let's start with life. For the average person life is defined in simple terms of breathing, talking and walking. For us, as Christians, though, life has a very different meaning. As we study the Word of God we realize that we are not really "alive" until we have accepted Christ as our personal Savior. By that I mean that it is impossible to live life as it was intended to be lived by the Creator, without having accepted Him as our personal Saviour.

Many people, and perhaps more Christians than we would think, believe that in the area of education a choice has to be made; strong biblical training (Biblical worldview) or excellent academics. This is a serious error in thinking. When we accept Christ as our personal Saviour we unleash in our mind and spirit the most powerful force available to the individual - the Holy Spirit. When we yield to His guidance we are able to "be spectacularly successful" in all areas of our lives for which God has designed us. This includes academics. A student who knows the Lord, and is living to please Him is far more able to do his very best than one who does not know the Savior.

As an educational institution we are committed to academic excellence. That is a journey, not a destination, however, we must see the bigger picture. Academics are a tool that can be used mightily by the Lord to build His kingdom and bring great prosperity and joy to His people. That is why at First Baptist Academy we are not preparing students just for the next level of schooling but rather for life!


Monday, February 7
Congratulations to our girls varsity basketball squad! Under the capable leadership of Coach Lines the girls won their second consecutive District title.

As I watched the girls dominate in their game against Sarasota Christian I was impressed with their tenacity and their teamwork. These two attributes, critical in any athletic contest, are also just as important in the task of preparing the next generation to lead the Kingdom of God. Satan has many weapons directed at our children and if we are to be successful in providing them with effective defensive weapons we (the family, church and school) will need to work together with great tenacity.

In talking with Coach Lines after the game she emphasized how much the girls "wanted" the victory. Let's renew our desire to see our children win the battle and go on to be effective warriors for the Kingdom.




Monday, January 31
I had the privilege of meeting with our eigth graders this week as we conducted a question and answer session regarding our high school. We are blessed that 90% of them have already registered for high school! It reminded me once again of the blessing of playing a small part in preparing the next generation. The devotional below from The Navigators addresses that thought.

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. - 2 Timothy 2:2

Do you know many people who are living with the next generation in mind? Probably not. Most of us have more than we can handle today without worrying about those who come after us.

It would seem that Moses could have been caught in the same trap with all he had to do, but he wasn't. For years, he had been investing his life in a young man named Joshua. After Moses knew that he would not enter the Promised Land, and new leadership would be needed, we find him on his knees before God, asking God to make it clear who should take his place.

When Moses prayed, God pointed to Joshua as the new leader of the people. Joshua had already proven himself a man of courage in his battle with Amalek; he was a man of humility, having spent many years as Moses' servant; and he was a man of faith, one of two men who had brought back a good report from spying out the Promised Land. Joshua was described as a man "in whom is the spirit."

It has been said that "success without a successor is failure." In the midst of your present Christian endeavors, are you training someone to continue that ministry? That's what parenting is all about. And by the way, our children are one of our greatest opportunities for developing disciples of Christ for future years.

You and I have a great responsibility to pray for the succeeding generations of leaders for the work of Christ, that His work might flourish and advance long after we are in our graves. It all depends on which generation you're living for.



Monday, January 24
Today is the last day to take advantage of the reduced registration fee. The response from our families has been very encouraging and our re-enrollment numbers are far higher than in years past. On Tuesday, February 1st enrollment opens to the public and on the 10th of February we have scheduled an Open House. For our parents, I would encourage you to:
1. Reenroll if you have not already done so.
2. Invite someone to attend the Open House, perhaps the parents
of the student your child invited for Friend Day.
3. Pray that God would lead to FBA only those He would have to be here.
Speaking of Friend Day, we had 77 friends attend last week! 47 in the Elementary School and 30 in the Middle School. The High School Friend Day is scheduled for Monday, March 28th.

Monday, January 17
I want to personally thank all of our parents who attended our second mandatory parent meeting this past Monday night. I felt as though there was a wonderful spirit of unity as I had the privilege of sharing what God is doing this year and what our plans are for the coming school year. I trust everyone has heard that there is a $200 reduction in the registration fee if you register prior to 5:00 pm on Monday, January 24th.

I also want to introduce Leigh Anne Bates to our FBA family. Leigh Anne has accepted the position of High School Principal and will start July 1st. She will also make a short 5 day visit to our campus this spring to get acquainted with our staff, students and schedules. We praise God for a magnificent answer to prayer. Leigh Anne has 10 years of classroom experience as a high school teacher and 10 years experience as an administrator. She currently is responsible for over 600 students and 40 teachers as the Secondary Principal at Rockford Christian School in Rockford Illinois. Leigh Anne and her husband, David have two children, Erin who is in seventh grade and Christian who is in ninth. We look forward to their arrival and wish them only God's very best!
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Monday, January 11
It has been a real joy to watch our high school students participate in J-Term! For those of you who are not familiar with the concept it a "mini-mester" between the first and second semester. Every student signs up for one class and that class meets all day for two weeks. It a wonderful opportunity for students to explore a special area of interest, for high school credit! This year our high schoolers were able to choose from Fit For Life (a health and exercise emphasis) Outdoor Evangelism (training and experience in sharing the gospel outside of our community) Robotics (building robots!) So You Want to Be a Doctor (visits to local doctors and other health related occupations) Creative Writing and Acting 101 (basic acting techniques and a trip to see a Broadway play in NYC!) Please pray for our high school students as they enter the second week of J-Term, for safety as they travel and also that God would use this experience to prepare them to serve Him.
Monday, January 4
Nancy and I had a great time in Maryland with our two grandsons, Noah (almost 1) and Nathan (2) and our daughters Jessica and Jenny and their husbands, Nathan and Norman. The weather was cold (14 degrees wind chill!) but the fireplace was warm and the fellowship even warmer.
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In next week's blog I will be annoucing our new high school principal for the 2011-12 school year. The candidate has asked that their school be allowed time to annouce the decision and plan to fill the vacancy. God has been very gracious in leading us to a highly qualified candidate with 20 years experience. I look forward to sharing more next week!

Monday, December 12
It is a real privilege to see God at work at FBA! In the eight years that I have been privileged to lead the academy we have seen God enlarge our territory and expand our vision for Christian Education.

Another milestone was reached this past week as the first ever FBA drama presentation had its initial tryouts. Under the direction of Laurie Valleries and Related Arts Director Lani Mastrangelo auditions were held as the process of cast selection began.

The culmination of all of this effort will be a public performance in April. As I attended the auditions I was again blessed to see what talented and dedicated students God has provided. Best to all who have stepped forward to serve God with their acting and singing talents.

Monday, December 5
Christmas is always a wonderful time of the year. One of the distinctives of FBCN/FBA is the generosity with which the families pull together to meet the needs of others. Especially at this time of year there are a myriad of opportunities to give - Operation Christmas Child, Blessing Christ Immokalee, Toy Drive for Chik-fil-A and more.
I would like to take this opportunity to encourge you to not be weary in well-doing. Sometimes we grow tired of all of the different organizations and ministries asking for help, and understandably so. But we must remember two important thoughts. 1. We are blessed. God has been very good to all of us, perhaps, in our eyes, some more than others, but there is no denying that we are blessed. 2. We only need to give as we are able and as God calls. It is not necessary to give all to everything all the time. This is an important lesson to teach our children. There is only one question - Is God calling me to give to this meet this need? If He is we are foolish to not answer the call.

Monday, November 29
God blessed our school with a very special Thanksgiving Day celebration as we gave thanks to Him for all of our goodness. The entire student body gathered in the Family Recreation Building for a wonderful meal prepared by our chef and his staff. Our special guests were the children, house parents and Director from Liberty Youth Ranch. Our student body worked diligently to achieve their goal of raising $1000.00 for this local ministry. God was good and the goal was met and surpassed as we were able to present Liberty Youth Ranch with a check for over $2,000.00! Thank you FBA family.
We then gathered in the chapel for a wonderful time of praise and worship, led by the Stearns family and a biblical challenge by our own Mr. McGillicuddy.
I trust that the Thanksgiving break provided you and your family with opportunities for rest, relaxation and fun. As we return to school let's use our time wisely to accomplish all that needs to done as we end our first semester of the 2010-11 school year.
Monday, November 15
We are blessed to live in the United States. Every trip that I have been privileged to take to foreign lands have made that statement even more true for me personally. This past Thursday, our student body met in the Worship Center to honor our veterans. Jason Crain, our high school history teacher did a commendable job in putting together a program that was both appropriate and thought provoking. Mr. Ron Scammon, our Director of Safety and Security for our campus was our main speaker. Ron has an incredible background of service to our country and has, on multiple occassions, been in harm's way. He spoke from the heart as to what America meant to him and we were blessed to have him as a speaker.

I trust that events like our Veterans Day Assembly and our upcoming Thanksgiving Feast where we will honor and donate funds to our local Liberty Youth Ranch will remind all of us how good our God is!
Monday, November 8
What an incredible service we were blessed to attend this past Friday night here at FBCN. In celebration of the life of Karen Head, who recently went home to be with the Lord after a long battle with cancer, we were led by an incredible group of worship leaders, directly into the presence of God. I know that for many of us who attended the service naturally led to an evaluation of our own lives. For me personally I was drawn to Hebrews !2:2 - "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. I was challenged as to where my eyes are "fixed". My conclusion was that, far too often, they are fixed on the challenges, issues, difficulties and even celebrations of the day's events. I pray that the life of Karen will continue to be used by God to focus our eyes on Jesus.
Monday, November 1
Although November is a "short" month due to the Thanksgiving holiday break there is much going on at FBA!. Wednesday, November 3rd will be our first of four open houses. From 9 am till noon prospective families are welcome to visit our campus, take a tour, and meet with members of the administration. We encourage our current families to invite a friend to visit FBA.

On Thursday, November 11th we will have our second annual Veterans Day Assembly. This is always a special assembly as we invite a veteran to speak to our students concerning what it means to be an American.

On Friday, November 19th we will celebrate Thanksgiving together as a school with a Thanksgiving Feast at lunch time, provided by our chef Herb. A wonderful Thanksgiving meal is being prepared and the cost has been kept very affordable at $5.00. Also during that week we will be collecting a "change offering" for our good friends at Liberty Youth Ranch as a means of saying thank you to our heavenly Father for His many blessings. The student body will gather together for a special Thanksgiving chapel that afternoon prior to a normal dismissal at 3:00 pm. The following week is Thanksgiving Break week and school will resume on Monday, November 29th.

Monday, October 25
The first in a series of six spiritual disciplines to be taught and modeled to our students and families is Bible Study and Application. During the month of October the discipline has been introduced in chapel as well as discussed in various classes. As we move through the school year I want to take the opportunity, through this blog, to share some thought about each of the six disciplines (Bible Study & Application, Prayer, Service, Submission, Stewardship and Worship).
One of the elements of Bible Study and Application most often ignored is Meditation. Our culture has caused us to think primarily of eastern religions when considering this discipline. However, the Bible has much to say about meditation. It is a primary means of filling our minds with the goodness of God. In a recent chapel I shared the following methods of meditation, I trust they will be a help to you.

Three specific ways of meditating on scripture are to repeat it, rewrite it, and pray it. We can better understand sciripture when we repeat it, changing the emphasis, the order or the perspective (point of view). A second way is to rewrite it, in our own words, changing the order , or even in another language. The third way is to pray it, aloud, changing our tone, or again changing the order.

As a teenanger I was challenged by a mentor that "garbage in means garbage out". It was an easy way to remember that what I put into my mind is what would come out. Meditation is God's means of protecting and strengthening our minds.

Monday, October 18
I was greatly encouraged by our Middle School and High School student body as the majority of them participated in Saturday's Walk for Life. Over half of the student body in both schools were in attendance and I know that their presence was an encouragement to those who minister at the Naples Pregnancy Center.

This Monday, October 19th is "Second Look". This event is new to our school and was generated by a desire of new parents to have greater exposure to what is happening on our campus and in the classroom. We will meet at 6:30 pm in the Commons Chapel for a general introduction session where Mrs. Linda Shaw, our elementary principal and I will focus on our academic goal for this year. At 7:00 pm parents will have the option of either visiting thier child's classroom to see an example of thinking maps or visit one of our computer labs where several staff members will be available to help parents log in and use RenWeb our school software. With our first quarter already over and report cards available later this week this is a great opportunity to insure that you know how to access your child's grades.

Monday, October 11
On Saturday, October 17, the Naples Pregnancy Center will be hosting its annual Walk for Life. Our Miidle School students and our High School students, as well as many of our staff will be involved in this very important event. I want to take this opportunity to encourage all of our FBA family to, in some way, support this effort. If you cannot give at this time please prayerfully support those walking. If God would lead you to give you may visit either www.support.prcnaples.com or www.firstgiving.com/napleslifewalk. These sites will allow you to give to an individual, (myself, a registered student, etc.) or just make a general donation. Thank you for prayerfully considering what God would have you to do.

Monday, October 4
Nancy (my wife) and I have just returned from a short visit to our daughters, (Jennifer and Jessica) who both live in the Baltimore, Maryland area. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful family! God has provided wonderful husbands (Norman and Nathan) for our girls and has also blessed Nathan and Jessica with two boys - Nathan Jr. and Noah. The trip was very enjoyable and provided much needed "Nana and Papa" time but it also brought home, once again, the importance of what we are doing as we partner together with families to prepare children for life, learning and leadership. As you would expect I have attached a picture!

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Monday, September 27
A very special congratulations to the members of FBA's first every Homecoming Court! Our high school student body voted via our own website and elected the following court:

Freshman Court: Wes Dawson and Madison DeAngelisSophomore Court: Alex Diaz and Allison HurtJunior Court: Ben Head and Janelle RomeroSenior King and Queen: Phil Montano and Caroline Case (pictured below)

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I also want to express my appreciation to the third grade classes and their untiring work for those in need through their "Tackle Hunger" program. I would encourage all of our familes, as they are able to participate by sending in non-perishable foods (based on the number of touchdowns scored by the FBA football team) every Monday. Monday, September 20

I was very blessed by our parents at our Building Kingdom Families Seminar yesterday. The Seminar was well attended and it was a joy to meet our "new" parents. I had the privilege of sharing our mission and Master Plan and Mr. Mack did a wonderful job in presenting a biblical plan for dealing with conflict.

The focus of the seminar revolves around a set of 5 DVDs recorded last spring. The DVD's provide a clear definition of Kingdom Education and Biblical Worldview and then explore key factors in biblical parenting. The parents were able to view the DVDs together in the privacy of their home and also complete a companion workbook, prior to the seminar.

I believe that all of our parents would benefit from these DVDs. The principles set forth are biblical in nature and very practical in application. If you would be interested in purchasing a set of the DVDs please contact Shannon Beam at 597-2233, extension 568.

Monday, September 13
There are two very important events coming up that I would like to bring to your attention. One is our annual Building Kingdom Families seminar this Saturday, September 18th at 9:00 am in DC 121. This event, primarily for our new parents, is a unique opportunity to meet our new families and to focus on our mission and purpose. This year all of our new families were given a set of DVDs to watch prior to attending the meeting on September 18th. A workbook accompanied the DVDs and provides an opportunity to highlight important points and take notes. Those families attending Saturday's session are encouraged to bring their completed notebooks.

The second event is the first of two mandatory parent meetings scheduled for 6:30 pm on Monday, September 20th in the Commons Chapel. At least one parent from each FBA family will be in attendance. If circumstances beyond your control prevent you from attending please let us know via e-mail (sbeam@fbalions.org). It will be our privilege that night to share the school's Master Plan, the latest Stanford Achievement Test data and an update on "The Discipleship Project", our ongoing ASP (Accreditation by School Progress) initiative. I look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, September 6
Today is Labor Day. Wikipedia tells us that the first Labor Day in the United States was celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City. It became a federal holiday in 1894, when, following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike. President Cleveland put reconciliation with the labor movement as a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer.

One of our core values at FBA is family and one of our school-wide goals for this year is to provide resources, support and affirmation to the core value of "family". I trust that this long weekend included quality family time for you and yours. It is critical to the success of our mission that every student at FBA has a loving and caring family. Please know that we are dedicated to assisting you to be all that God has called you to be!

Monday, August 30
In the real estate industry there is a saying, "Location, Location, Location". For those of us in the education field it is "Communication, Communication, Communication". If we are to be effective partners in the equipping of the next generation for the kingdom of God we (parents and faculty/staff) must have both open and reliable means of communication. The ever-growing field of technology provides a myriad of opportunities not available even ten years ago. Our new software database program RenWeb is one of the most effective and popular means of keeping parents in tune with what is going on at school. We are just beginning to realize all of the "bells and whistles" of this new and exciting program and will be sharing those with you in the weeks to come. However, it is critical that we have accurate information. Please, if you have not visited Ren Web (the link is on the "Parent Connection" page of our website), please do so. Most importantly be sure to verify that the demographic information is correct so that you will be able to receive information in a prompt and timely manner. Also, don't forget to mark Monday, September 20th on your calendar. That evening at 6:30 pm in the Commons Chapel we will have our first mandatory parent meeting of the 2010-11 school year. At least one parent from each family is to attend. God Bless!
Monday, August 23
We praise the Lord for a great start to the school year! Things went very smooth - a special thank you to everyone! I am looking forward to our mandatory parent meeting on Monday, September 20th. This meeting, which requires that at least one parent from each FBA family attend, is very important. If it is not already on your schedule, please add it. We will start promptly at 7:00 pm and will be finished no later than 8:00 pm. I will sharing the elements of our 2010-11 Master Plan and other important information. Our parent organization, TAPT (Teachers and Parents Together) is hosting a "Tailgate Party, this Friday, prior to our first home football game. Please be on the "lookout" for an informational flyer with specific details later this week.

If you have not received any e-mails from the school in the last week, please give us a call to confirm your e-mail address. The most often used form of communication between school and parent is e-mail and it is important that we have your correct e-mail address.

Monday, August 16
As usual, the summer has flown by and we are just days away from the first day of school! It has been a very eventful summer for FBA! The Lord graciously met our need for 8 new teachers. Our search for a high school principal continues so I will be serving as the interim Principal. Tonight is First Look where all of our parents are given the opportunity to meet and greet our faculty. I look forward to seeing you there. Listed below are this year's "answers to prayer" in terms of faculty. Please make them feel welcome.‚Äč
Robyn Ritchie (K3), Carol Bowlin (Grade 2),Jennifer Wilson (Grade 2),John O'Berski (Grade 3),Jennifer Stephens (Elementary PE and HS Biology),Jennifer Kyotinski (MS/HS Science),Bethany Johnson (HS English),Paul Rosen (HS Spanish). Robyn and Jennifer are actually returning teachers in new positions. We are also blessed to have Lisa Schwartz serving as a long term substitute for Melissa Lane (Grade 1) who is on maternity leave. For more information on our faculty visit our individual school web pages.