Thursday, January 27, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Doesn't everything die at last and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your
one wild and precious life?"

Mary Oliver

Monday, January 24, 2011

Quote of the Day

"God may thunder His commands from Mount Sinai and men may fear, yet remain at heart exactly as they were before. But let a man once see his God down in the arena as a Man - suffering, tempted, sweating, and agonized, finally dying a criminal's death - and he is a hard man indeed who is untouched."

J.B. Phillips

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How parents can distort their children's view of God (talking points)

Looking for something to teach this Sunday to parents I ran across these talking points for parents. As a Father each of these points still resonates with me. I hope it helps / encourages those of you with the privelege of shepherding parents. These are just talking points not necessarily complete thoughts.

I have always wanted to clearly display who God is to my children. One of my life passages is this Psalm. Look at how many times the Psalmist speaks of his role in proclaiming God clearly to those who are younger than us.

Ps 71:14-18

14 But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
of your salvation all day long,
though I know not its measure.
16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord;
I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone.
17 Since my youth, O God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
18 Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, O God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your might to all who are to come.

Growing faith in our children comes by communicating to them a clear view of the character of God. As parents we communicate more with our lives than our words. Our children view God through the window of our lives.

God is the one who pursues and changes hearts but I want to be a part of the process not a hindrance. So with all this in mind I was thinking through ways parents can distort or limit their children’s view of God.

Ways to distort or limit your kid’s view of God…

Pretend everything is great…(horrible headwound harry) (communicates that he isn’t involved enough)

o As parents we can have the tendency to act like everything is ok when it’s obviously not…we don’t want to add stress to our kids. It steals from our kids an opportunity for them to see us depend heavily on God…

Point: Don’t be afraid to have wise transparency with your kids…
o Admit failure and ask for forgiveness
o Let them know about financial struggle

Protect Your Kids From Everything (communicates that he isn’t strong enough)

o We have a responsibility to provide and protect our children, but we should always look for ways to wisely put them in dependence on God. We could get into a long discussion on what we should allow our kids to be exposed to as far as media…
It steals from our kids an opportunity for them to depend on God…

Point: We must be intentional about putting our kids in situations where they need God.
o Mission trips
o Public schooling?
o Extra curricular school activities

Practice Idolatry (pepsi commercial) (communicates that he isn’t satisfying enough)

o What would your son are daughter say is most important to you? They will view God with the same passion and focus you do. When we live our lives for everything else but God and still communicate that God is most important in our lives, our kids will not understand how to love God with all our soul mind and strength. He is supreme and worthy of all our lives.

Point: Ask God for the grace to love him preeminently

Prioritize performance over heart (communicates that he isn’t gracious enough)

o I’ve always tried to teach my kids that effort is more important than the result. God honors our hearts. (Lady who gave a penny) If we are always focusing on the performance of our kids they will try to perform to please us and God.

Point: God of grace. Our kids should never feel they must earn our acceptance.

Deut 6:6-9
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quote of the Day

The main problem in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not ‘used’ the gospel in and on all parts of our life.

Tim Keller

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Youth Group - Is it a safe place?

When Michaela started to tell her story she was a few drinks into her evening. By the way she looked I would have guessed she was 65ish but she was only 53. Her voice was raspy and loud from years of smoking cigarettes and most likely other things.

I’m not sure why she started speaking with me. Early in our conversation she asked me what I did. Usually I don’t enjoy telling people I’m a pastor but for some reason I let the cat out of the bag immediately. After I shared my confession she stared at me for about 15 seconds wondering how she should respond. I actually thought my budding friendship was only going to last a minute.

She finally gained her composure and told me she was a Catholic Jew who was baptized Southern Baptist. I was pretty impressed with her religious diversity.

If she said it once she said it 50 times in our short encounter. “Remember, your not a man of God, you’re a man with God and a man for God”. To be honest I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about…until I heard her story.

She began to tell me a story that would haunt me the rest of the night. When Michaela was 7 she and her parents where in a car accident. Very little happened to her physically but both her parents where killed. From there her life was spent from foster family to foster family and yes, her experience was horrific.

She told me about the abuse and how every one of her “parents” were fostering so they could collect the $350 a month that was provided. The abuse ranged from locking her in a room without food to sexual abuse. She had lived an incredibly sad childhood.

It was at this point in the story that her “man of God versus man for God” statement began to become clear. You see, Michaela was in church pretty consistently. She had some great experiences in church but also some negative.

Many times she told someone in church leadership about what was going on behind the closed doors of her home. Either they didn’t believe here or didn’t know what to do. They did nothing. People where given the opportunity to speak for one who had no voice and they squandered the opportunity to rescue. I’m not sure why.

Sure, today it’s a little bit different. Church leaders and youth pastors are better equipped and more qualified to deal with these kind of issues when they come up, right? I sure hope so.

Michaela has some serious trust issues with those of us who are in ministry. She didn’t know me at all but in no way believed I was a “man of God”, she’s more right than she knows. After reflecting for a while I think her point is that even though pastors should communicate who God is and the beauty of his gospel, we’re still very flawed.

After talking for 20 minutes or so she gave me a hug and a peck on the cheek. She reminded me once again I’m a man WITH God not OF God and told me to keep doing what I’m doing. (she has no idea what I do).

It made we wonder, for those of us who care about kids how are we doing in being an advocate for them? Have there been times in my ministry that kids have cried out for help but I’ve been too busy or distracted to listen?

We must create environments where students feel the freedom and safety to share about the junk going on. Whether it’s abuse or failure, what are we doing to make sure students can talk about the tough stuff of life without judgment or skepticism?

My we be people who by God's grace rescue those who have no voice. Would Michaela's life be different if someone had listened?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years - Greatest Holiday in the Universe

Ok, that's a big statement but today really is one of my favorite days of the year. Yes, I love college football and will watch far more than I should but New Years Day is more than college football. Did I just say that?

Before the games get going you might consider getting some time alone to meditate and dream.


Sometimes we're like kids on Christmas morning, we receive great toys, play with them for a couple of days and forget about what we received. New Years day gives a great excuse to go through the previous year's calendar and REMEMBER all God has done. No matter what kind of year we experienced in 2010 God's hand is evident for those of us who follow him. Go through your calendar and remember all he has done. Take time and give thanks.


What an incredible excuse to sit, think, pray and dream about what God might do in the next year. As God gives vision write down what you believe he might be doing in your personal, family and ministry life. This is especially important if you are a leader. It's the responsibility of the leader to think longer thoughts. And hey, dream big, he's a great big God.


For as long as I can remember I've used late December / early January to plan what I will focus on for my personal study. 2 years ago I focused on the book of Isaiah, last year was the book of Psalms. I will be spending 2011 in the gospels, primarily the gospel of John. Yes, time in community with others is a priority for me, but personal focus in the Word and prayer is where God convicts, encourages and stretches my soul. Thinking about how to spend that time is worth the effort.

Yes, I'm about to slip into HD college football bliss (well almost, Notre Dame already thumped Miami yesterday) but I'm thankful for all God did in 2010 and anticipating his faithfulness in 2011.

Hey, Happy New Years!