Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What would happen?

Peter and John stood in front of a group of men they knew could kill them with one word and told them too bad.  Peter and John told them they couldn't help talking about what they'd seen and heard.  Peter and John told them they wouldn't shut up, not even if they died because of it.

In student ministry I deal with families from all walks and backgrounds.  I serve families that couldn't care less that we're here, families that thrive because we are here, and everywhere in between.  And I'm seeing something that truly breaks my heart.

I see a disintegration taking place in the family unit.

Parents making choices based on feelings and happiness, teens flat out ignoring what Jesus calls them to, churches that are flat and lifeless, and a gospel that is so watered down it can hardly be recognized as the "Good News".

I see in my own life a resistance to do things that are uncomfortable.  Would I be willing to give up my lifestyle if Christ called me to Haiti or Africa or downtown St. Louis?  Would I be willing to give up my social standing if Christ called me to a neighbor's house?

In the passage paraphrase above found in Acts 4:19-20 I see people, families willing to give up everything for His sake.  And what Acts 4:19-20 really gets to is this:  Am I really going to go against God's word for personal comfort?  Am I willing to do what He asks even (especially) when it gets hard?  Will we do the hard things when and where He needs us to?  Individually?  As a local body?

But I also see people living this out daily.  I see and know people that have given up everything to serve and love the lowest of the low.  I see the costs of living this way and how God blesses and lifts up those who follow His path.

I see how local churches are thinking outside the box and doing things differently, without agendas.  I see an entire generation of young people thirsting and hungering for righteousness.  And these break my hearts as well.

What would happen if His bride, all of it, acted like His bride?  What would happen if we tore down walls that we've built up in the name of Jesus and were of one heart and mind?  What would happen if we decided that our brothers well being was more important than our cable? 

What would happen?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Family Crisis pt. 2

I sat there in shock at what I had just heard.  Our two closest friends had just come to our house (several years ago) and told us that their marriage was in shambles and that the husband had been caught in an affair.

I remember my wife getting up and walking away in tears.  I sat there numbed by the words just hanging in the air.  I don't remember thinking much.  I remember anger and then love for my friends.  They were in so much turmoil, so much agony it was etched on their faces.  I could do nothing but hug and love them.

But what I remember most is something that she said while talking to just my wife and I.  She looked at us with tear reddened eyes and said, "He is my husband and I am not divorcing him."  I looked at my wife stunned at the staggering strength coming from her.  The decision that was made that night still leaves an impression on me to this day.

In the weeks, months and years that followed that conversation there were ups and downs.  I remember seeing the husband at the lowest point in his life and watching the wife right there loving him.  She was literally Jesus in those moments, Jesus kneeling before Judas, wet feet in His hands, serving far beyond human understanding.  I can recall seeing him begin to awaken from his slumber and really appreciate his wife for the first time.  And the way she reacted was perfect- "I love you but you have a lot of making up to do".  And he did.

Starting from scratch they courted once again, counseling took place, and the Holy Spirit grabbed two broken hearts and began the healing process.

I just spoke with the husband and he told me of the marriage they have now.  He talked of the amazing love they share and how Christ is working in them to serve the other.  He spoke of how their story encourages other couples going through rough times and how his wife is a hero of the faith worthy of being mentioned in Hebrews 11.

What looked like an impossible situation has turned out to be one of the great love stories.  All starting with one woman who refused to go back on her vows of marriage.  She would not relent in her love and in that became a picture of Christ's love for us.  By not listening to conventional wisdom she showed her husband what agape love looks like and in turn allowed him to see what he must do as well.

When followers begin to live His word in their lives, strange things will happen.  Old wounds will heal, walls will be torn down, dying love will be rekindled, and broken marriages will be made whole.  The witness to the outside world would show the reality of Christ's love and in turn create environments where people can be forever changed.

So for everyone struggling in marriage, for everyone who feels like all is lost- look at my good friends.  See what can and does happen when two people lay everything at the feet of a loving Creator. 


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Family Crisis

She sat in my office and cried.  She cried tears of rage, disappointment, and a broken heart.  Her family was falling apart all around her and there was nothing she could do.  She wasn’t the problem or the reason for this but felt like she was.  She bore the brunt of emotional outbursts from parents who were struggling to keep it together.  Bad decisions on their part had brought this family to its grave and the kids were the ones that paid the price.

It is not an unfamiliar story in this country.  Estimations are as high as 50% of all marriages end in divorce and that number is virtually no different for Christians.  As a student minister I deal with this issue on a daily basis.  Whether it be a family that has divorced, headed for one or that is just dysfunctional, I counsel teens and tweens on this weekly.  The family is under attack and we are failing to address it.

God created two institutions to tell His story to the world; the family and the church.  The two cannot exist without the other.  And for far too long we have allowed the church to take away the role of the parents as the primary source of Biblical teaching.  For far too long parents have sat back and watched the church teach their kids and not been involved.  It’s time for us to partner together and really engage families’ right where they are.

There is a common thread that runs through many of these families that are falling apart in the church.  That thread is a lack of Biblical understanding.  They don’t know God’s word therefore they don’t really follow God’s word.

Matthew 19:4-6 clearly states that no man should separate what God has joined together and Mark 10: 2-12 are some of the harder teachings about what happens when there is a divorce and remarriage for the wrong reasons.  I’m not saying that ALL divorce is wrong, but I am repeating and rephrasing Christ’s words when I say that almost all divorce is wrong.

How many people would be willing to really trust in Christ and follow His words when the entire world says to run?  How many Christian understand what Jesus is saying about life and how we are called to live?  How many of us really put our life in Christ’s hands and let go of everything?  As followers we have to ask ourselves some tough questions and then apply those tough answers to our lives.  We have to partner with these families in crisis to show them Christ’s healing love and power.

Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us…”  Either we believe that or we don’t.

His words are hard.  His teachings grate and irritate.  He calls us to more than we can do on our own.  It’s time for us to really begin to disciple people in His word and then live it- even when it’s hard.


Thursday, August 4, 2011


School starts in just a little over a week.  5th graders heading off to middle school, 8th graders moving up into high school, and graduated Seniors moving off to college.  It's a lot for a family to take.  The emotional stress can take a toll on the relationship.

So here are a few things taken from a recent article USA Today's Family & Parenting (link to entire article is found below):

Loosen your grip. Kids will come home at Thanksgiving expecting more freedom. So lighten up now and see how it feels. The Wingates say they have dropped Sara's curfew and set fewer rules this summer. Tiffany says she is getting used to the idea that "I'm not going to know where she is or what she's doing" all the time.
But take time to get close. If there's still time, take a weekend trip with your child. Or set time aside for a trip to a ballpark, spa or somewhere else where you can have a good talk and a laugh.
Talk about talking. Discuss how and how often you will communicate after school starts. That can prevent hurt feelings and needless worry, Cohen says. Sara Wingate says she's glad her parents have agreed that she will be the first to call or text them after move-in day: "They understand that I'm not going to call every day."
Learn to text. If you somehow got through your child's high school years without learning how to send text messages, learn now. Today's college students don't use e-mail much and don't always pick up calls, but most of them read and answer texts, Cohen says.
Chill out. Campus crimes happen, but "99.9999% of students are going to be fine," Cohen says. Don't sweat mildly alarming Facebook posts from your child's future roommate, either, Rode urges. "For the most part, we encourage students to get to know their roommates, in person," before requesting any changes, she says.
But don't be cold. Some parents tune out their departing kids as a preemptive coping strategy, Cohen says. You'll know you've overdone the chilling thing when you find yourself redecorating their bedroom while they are still sleeping in it, he says.
Get your calendar for next month. Fill it. "That way you won't be sitting at home wondering what your kid is doing," Cohen says.
Master moving day. Most colleges have "a finely tuned move-in plan," Rode says. Follow it. Then leave. "If you are the only parent left, you've stayed too long," Cohen says. Depart with a smile and without tears, if you can.  (Kids bound for college; what's a parent to do?)

What are some things that you are doing to help with school transitions?  


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Just a Game?

I didn't get to see the Cardinal game last night, so this morning after my run I put it on SportsCenter to see the outcome.  I was happy to see the Cards pull out the win in overtime but became absolutely disgusted when I saw what happened with Yadier Molina!

If you missed it here's a link to the video:

Yadi's strike out

What I saw was a grown man playing a child's game acting like a spoiled brat!  I understand him wanting to win and that it's his profession but as a parent I'm more concerned with how this looks to my kids.  What lesson did they learn for Molina's antics?  What can be drawn from watching a grown man throw a tantrum?

James 1:19-20 says, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires."

As a parent I would use this incident to talk about our reaction to circumstances outside our control.  I would point out that God's way is much more productive than letting our emotions run wild.  I would show my kids that because Yadi acted the way he did, he'll probably be riding the bench during the most important stretch of the season so far.

Join the conversation and let me know what you think.


Monday, August 1, 2011

My Wife

Tomorrow is my wife's birthday. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day that God blessed me before I knew it. Tomorrow is a celebration of the day that changed the course of my life before it needed changing.

Most people don't know this about my wife, but she saved my life. Well, I don't mean "pulled me out of a burning building" saved my life but rather she showed up and loved me at a time when very few did.

I had a rough couple of years after I was out of college. It was bad enough that almost all of my friends turned their backs on me. I even had one tell me that I was going to hell (he told me this sitting in the cafeteria of my Christian college). If you've ever felt rejected by the church then you understand where I'm coming from. These followers' words and attitudes so poisoned my spirit that I walked away from it all; the church, God, and anyone that had anything to do with Him. It was not pretty to be a part of and my life was a wreck.

It was about the same time that Tori came into my life in a very unexpected way. We were both dating people we thought we would marry. My girlfriend was off at another school and her boyfriend was a good friend at our college. To make a long story short, we both ended up heartbroken and single at the same time. Initially our friendship was just that, a good friendship. We were struggling through similar situations and turned to one another for guidance and comfort. Nothing more.

I had known her for a couple of years and never saw her as anything other than my friend. But as our conversations went longer and longer into the evenings my eyes opened to this stunning young woman sitting on the other end of a phone. I started getting excited when I knew I was going to see her, and I began coming up with reasons and excuses to make sure that happened as often as possible.

Our dating relationship started when she asked me if I was ever going to ask her on a date. I didn't know if she was just kidding but I took the chance and our first date was to the Applebee's in Joplin, MO and to see the movie "Good Will Hunting".

Afterwards we went to a friends house where she told me she had a great time but wouldn't see me again until I severed all ties with my old girlfriend. Ummmm...DONE!

Our first kiss was in the middle of Oklahoma somewhere at 12:05 on February 15, 1998. I remember the time and date because it was at that moment I knew that she was to be my wife. I loved her from the start and haven't stopped since.

She rescued me from all the of the mess I had made of my life and stood by me when most chose to walk away. She loved me at my worst and so I know she loves me now.

She has given me the two most beautiful children and blessed my life more than I can count or imagine. Other than God's gift of grace she is the single greatest blessing in my life. I would not be here were it not for her.

So when the clock strikes midnight tonight and rolls into tomorrow, it will not just be another birthday to celebrate for me. It is the day that saved my life, it is the day that brought me here, it is the day that my honeybunny came into this world and rocked mine!

You & Me Together  Link to our song