drip drip drip… the power of persistence

Parents, are you tempted to throw in the towel with your tween?

I know… it’s overwhelmingly difficult sometimes to parent a hormone-soaked-storm like the typical teen or tween. They know how to push each exasperation button we have… and somehow avoid being responsible for “ANYTHING” from their school grades to the family shared, mobile, data-plan last month 🙂

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They disdain our “ancient” wisdom of 40 something as outright stupidity and live comfortable in the smug knowledge they are in fact… the geniuses. Cerebral giants who can barely tolerate our presence in their ‘homes’.  We call these crazies our kids and if you’re not careful… they can wear you down to the nub…

Or even worse, they might make you so exhausted… you give up! 

DO NOT GIVE UP ON THEM !

DO NOT STOP PARENTING

DO NOT STOP CAREFULLY KEEPING THE BOUNDARIES OF LIFE, LOVE, AND YOUR FAMILY INTACT !

Don’t stop praying, don’t stop sharing, don’t stop daring to believe in their hearts catching fire for Christ ! We underestimate our value, our power as parents ! Our kids get over 70 hours week of mainstream media ingested into their noggin and less than 3 hours of parent & pastor combined…

Poll after poll tells us that tweens (kids 7-13) and teens admit the opinions and ideas of their parents are THE SINGLE MOST INFLUENTIAL VOICE IN THEIR LIVES ! 

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It’s not up to us to convince… only God can change a heart or an attitude. But we as parents can be intentional about never – ever giving up on our kids. Of living out our faith values with honesty and persistence, day-in and day-out… like water on rock, over time… the water wins !

Pastor B.

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Halloween… are your kids trick or treating ?

Great discussion by Bebo Norman on Halloween that I’m sharing for RTP readers in their ongoing Christian dilemma’s of celebrating or “NOT” celebrating with their kids this ancient holiday each October 31st. I hope its helpful for parents. bebo.norman

“So, yesterday morning (2011) as I was waiting for a flight from Ft. Worth back to Nashville, I made a quick post on Facebook that basically said this: “early morning flight home to go trick-or-treating with my kids, then back to Texas tomorrow.”  I never would have imagined the firestorm it would set off on Facebook.  Much controversy over Halloween, it’s origins, what role Christian’s should play in the “celebration” or “non-celebration” of the holiday.  A (very) few individuals were extremely critical of me and my faith and a whole host of people came to my defense.  But by today, most of the critical post were deleted from Facebook somehow.  The truth is, I’m sort of frustrated that all the harsh posts were taken down, because even though so many of them were attacking and distasteful, it showed what a beautiful contrast there is between all that can be so negative and condemning about Christendom and the true fruits of the Spirit that were so eloquently represented in so many of the responding comments.

I guess the first thing that I would say in response to the criticism is this:  if my decision to take my kids trick-or-treating is reason enough for someone to “un-friend” me, dislike me, or worse, condemn me as a heretic or a member of the occult, I can, without hesitation, give you a thousand FAR better reasons to do so.  Whether it’s flaws in my character or my judgment, the bottom line is that I am indeed a terribly flawed and imperfect man who loves, believes deeply in, and relies daily on the completely sufficient grace and goodness of a completely perfect God.  If you’ve ever listened to my music or had the chance to know my heart at all, I have staked my life and all eternity on the fact that I am an inconsistent creature who has been saved by the COMPLETED, and completely consistent, work of Christ.  Nothing less.  Nothing more.

And please let me say right up front that I may be ENTIRELY wrong about my decisions with regard to Halloween, but I can say that, at the very least, they are thought out and intentional decisions, not off-the-cuff or blind cultural appeasement.  So, for what it’s worth, here’s my take on things.

What man intends for evil, God intends for good.  I absolutely LOVE that with the freedom of Christ we can take a holiday that was once intended by man for so much evil, and we can turn it on its ear.  Imagine the idea that we get to take what was once (and perhaps, for some, still is) a pagan, ritualistic attempt to appease evil spirits, and turn it into a chance for children to dream and imagine and dress up in costumes (my boys were both their own versions of “Super Heroes” by the way), to spend precious time with their families and friends, to go out and actually see their neighbors face-to-face, and, at least in our neighborhood, watch entire communities literally come together and talk and laugh and eat way too much candy.  I seriously LOVE that idea.  And again, I may be absolutely wrong, but I am entirely convinced that that’s exactly what happened yesterday…at least at our house and on our street and in our neighborhood.

I certainly don’t want to hyper-spiritualize it, but it’s almost as if we’re making a declaration, in a way, that old traditions that were once intended for evil, or that EVIL ITSELF, has no power over us anymore – declaring that that power was and is broken by the Gospel.  We almost get to make a mockery of evil (one of the few “mockeries” we’re entitled to as Believers) when we take evil’s shining “moment in the sun” and turn it into a CHILDREN’S holiday.  We take what was once intended for evil and we turn it into a celebration of youth and imagination and the lightness of childhood.  And yes, we may tell a few spooky stories along the way and put scary spider webs on our front porches.

The truth is, there is great merit to the more popularly accepted “Christian versions” of the holiday, so some may call it “All Saints Day” and go ”TRUNK-or-treating” in a church parking lot but some may take a less overtly spiritual approach, call it Halloween and go trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods.  The bottom line is, best I can figure, is that I think it can be as simple as a fun day for neighbors to actually be neighbors – to actually engage with each other and build community and childhood memories at the same time…to be relational and build bridges.  Halloween, for me, is not a celebration of an old, antiquated evil tradition; it’s a celebration of my children.  It’s a celebration of my family, my neighborhood, and my community.  And maybe a chance to look evil in the face and not be afraid.  Not to mention, a good excuse to eat a whole lot of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.” Blog Link

 

—— (The Fact’s on Halloween from History Channel Article below)—-

HALLOWEEN – A HISTORY OF: 

(RTP blog commentary at the end)

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Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

Did You Know?

One quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween.

Ancient Origins of Halloween

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III (731–741) later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1. By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted the older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It is widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

Halloween Comes to America

Celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups as well as the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.

Today’s Halloween Traditions

The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

Halloween Superstitions

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world. Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats. We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred; it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces. Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

—-(Article Source: Courtesy of History Channel  at http://www.history.com/topics/halloween )——————————————-

RoadTrip Parenting is providing the article above as a factual historical record for parents to read, consider and decide for themselves what the best path for their families should be this Halloween. I’ve had many discussions, friendly debates and concerns over the years as I’ve raised three kids through the Halloween season for almost 20 years.

The bottom line… within the faith community in America, Halloween has two polarizing factions, two distinct viewpoints on the issue of Christians celebrating this obviously pagan holiday for themselves…

1 – Halloween is a Holiday to be avoided due to its dark influences and pagan origins. No trick or treating.

2- Halloween is no different than Christmas or Easter in that they too have pagan origins in their history, but are observed by most Christians for the value and purpose intertwined within those holidays. Trick or treating is allowed and permissible.

I respect both positions on this and recognize that many families have chosen to avoid or skip Halloween out of concern for the position of point number one. I’m not providing this article to push one agenda over another, only to inform and educate everyone on the subject at hand. I’ve heard the arguments from significant leaders on both sides of this, those who push for the complete separation of the church and the secular society and I’ve heard of those who insist that God would want us to be engaged with and interactive in our communities in the festivities, giving every opportunity to share one’s faith in the process.

If you allow your six year old to dress up as peter pan and grab twix bars from the neighbors house while screaming gleefully to the next house to score some jelly bellies, i’m not nearly as concerned as for those of us who allow our families to watch and consume media that suggests the values of faith and family are ancient history. 

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If celebrating Halloween creates the space in your life to interact with and enjoy one anothers company as a family... to draw closer together with each other and your neighbors… then I’m having a hard time finding reasons to “not” do that. For me, I believe if you start down this road of cultural avoidance…it ends badly for the Christian family in the end.

Personally, things like this often settle into a moderate position of recognizing and respecting both ends of the debate and landing somewhere firmly in the middle of it. I do think that somewhere in the history of Halloween, Dentist’s must have been involved…. 🙂

Be safe this year with your kids if you are out and about with the little ones, be aware of the issues and concerns of your conservative Christian counterparts and filter the messages of Halloween like you would any other secular observance or celebration… that includes the “Superbowl” halftime show !

Peace out, and take it easy on those “snack size” candy bars…

Brad.

A challenge to Fathers…Fighting “faith apathy”

Most Parents are concerned about how well their “doing” with raising their kids. We worry about the future, and hope that with consistent and careful effort on our part, they will end up well-rounded, balanced and stable despite the mistakes of our past. As fathers we carry the extra concern of protecting and providing for our homes and their physical well-being, and that is as it should be.

But somewhere down the list of priorities for many dad’s is the role of leading spiritually. Many Christian homes suffer from a significant gap in the father – spiritual leader role for the family.  The burden of teaching spiritual stuff is left to the wife, a nearby grandma or the dynamic and engaging new youth leader at church. Men are not proud to admit that in the whole, we’re just not naturally so good at such things.  It’s obvious to us, other individuals seem so much more enthusiastic and better at it. It’s easier to slightly hang back a bit, just to see if those other adults in our kids lives will step up and do some ad-hoc basic spiritual instruction instead of us.

It’s not that men are generally lazy or un-interested, we just feel unprepared and ill-equipped to talk about our faith, our relationship with God to anyone, let alone our kids. When they become teenagers, forget about it. I’m sure there are many psychological and cultural reasons for this, the natural personality and temperament of a man is more reserved, less verbal. We males tend to be less emotionally sensitive than our female counterparts, we like to fix things, not listen. Our attention spans are reduced by the need to retreat from our work pressures and catch up on our favorite sports team or golfing buddies.

We’ve been trained by our culture that moms are better at disciplining and actually raising our kids anyway and we have little to offer. We only step in when we are asked to, or if we see some very significant rebellion in the home that might require a more forceful response than just a good “time-out”.

Father’s roles in the local Church setting seem to be similar, often it’s the ladies who step up first to volunteer and get things done. They make dinners for shut-in’s, pick up other people’s kids when in a bind, share announcements and lead worship on Sundays, mom’s lead the charge to volunteer to help with kids church and education for sunday school. It’s a rare thing to see a  man step past his comfort zone and be vulnerable spiritually at church or the home.

Why is that ?

I mean why would a man act like an insane verbally exuberant idiot on a Sunday afternoon live or in the local neighborhood man cave, watching his favorite teams football game on a HD flat screen, but go passive as if in a “neutered”  and silent state on the same Sunday morning, mere hours before at church? It’s not as if we “can’t” get emotional, or passionate… it’s just not something very many of us “choose” to do or be when it comes to faith and family. It’s a rampant form of “faith apathy” plain and simple, and it’s killing our families spiritually.

That bothers me, and it bothers mom’s a whole lot more.

Guys, it’s time we take a hard look at the role’s we’re playing in our families lives. I speak with frustrated and angry wives and mothers regularly who are desperate to see their husbands engage with their families emotionally and spiritually on a consistent basis. At least as much and as passionately as we do with our favorite sports teams or cars. Some wives are struggling to maintain their respect and admiration of us as men over this “little” concern. They are watching us passively ignore one of the greatest responsibilities we have in the world.

I believe being a faithful father involves being vulnerable with our families. Of having the courage to admit to our failures, our mistakes, and our passivity in leading them into a greater understanding of our faith and beliefs about God and life. When we step back and choose to let others do our job, we are in a biblical sense abandoning our God-given responsibility. It’s a unique form of mostly male selfishness and it’s destructive.

Dads, if your reading this… please hear me clearly and humbly on this subject. I’m not perfect, don’t have this fathering leadership role all sorted out and well-balanced in my own life yet. But I’m engaged in it and I’m trying. I challenge you to be the same. Take the risk of speaking with your pre-teens and teens about your own faith, about how you have learned and are learning to trust God for the mortgage, for your job, for your health, whatever your story is with God. Step up at Church or home group and be willing to get involved, lead.

You don’t have to create some theological sermon or deep truth/life principle to share with them, you don’t have to do a devotion or read a popular Christian living book. Instead, it’s super effective leadership, when you just let your kids know about you. Warts and all. Their understanding of God and His grace will be formed in part by your willingness to share openly and honestly of your triumphs and tragedies, of your faith and your failings. Of love and sadness, of success and failures in your past and present and of the role God plays in your decisions.

All essential and undeniably unique to you.

Your kids, your wife and this generation is counting on us fathers to just be the MEN we are. Nothing less and nothing more. It’s God’s pattern for us to lead and we’ve been convinced for far too long, that it’s just not a role we’re equipped to play.

Time to change that.

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Peace out and Grace to you all as we seek to keep our families in between the lines and on the road of life.

brad.

All we really have is our brokenness…

As parents of pre-teens or teens, there rarely is enough personal experience, wisdom or knowledge to arm ourselves, if your like most parents…your struggling with the confidence to raise them up “right”… in the process its common for some of us to loose whats left of our reserves of strength and we simply find ourselves at a dead end, out of options, answers or advice for our kids. It’s kinda scary.

Our kids after all are not living in the world we grew up in. They are walking directly into uncharted cultural territory… a value system that is sliding into a vast pit of moral relativism, global green movements, same-sex politics, right to choose, instant communication and entertainment addictions, over 5o% of kids live in a single parent family, confusing sexual and basic identity isssues and to top it all off a skeptical and atheistic educational model… it’s enough to make a Christian parents head explode.

Add to that the pressures of providing for our families, economic turbulence, evaporating 401K’s, 10%+ unemployment, record home foreclosures, shrinking budgets and a migraine of other problems are constantly showing up in our proverbial “in-boxes” every day.

Parents today are scrambling to find enough time just for themselves, let alone their kids or all the other really important people in their lives. Spouses are weary, so tired they have little or no time to invest with each other, not to mention help their kids eat, bathe and get their homework done and in bed at a decent hour. Life is piling up on us, little by little, one pound at a time until we find ourselves suddenly lost, “BURIED” by all of its relentless demands for our time, our energy and our attention. We feel like something inside is broken, and we can’t fix it.

Sound Familiar?

 Despite the lack of evidence some days, God is very much alive and active in our world. It’s all in how we perceive Him and ourselves in the story of our lives.  If we forget that God is the author of all life and the source of love and our ultimate hope, we will be tempted to believe that it’s all up to us. After all, isn’t that what it means to survive ?

We tell ourselves…since God hasn’t answered my prayer for relief, then I guess…If I’m going to make it through this divorce, this cancer, this job loss, this broken relationship… “I’ll have to just make it work on my own”. We grab ahold of the reins once again to steer our own path forward, and we keep a glimmer of faith alive inside, hopeful to someday see how God made it all “work out to our good”, but deep down we’re not buying it. We’re convinced we are truly and really ALL ALONE in this unjust and unfamiliar world we’re trying to raise our families in.

Stop. Seriously… STOP!

Remember what Jesus said to His disciples… “To find your life you must lose it“… “I came not to be served, but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many“… “take up your cross and follow me“… Paul said, “in my weakness, His strength is made perfect“.  Moses wasn’t the leader of God’s nation until he completed a forty-year PhD of insignificance in the wilderness school of life. Paul the Apostle was beaten over and over, half drowned, stoned, ridiculed, rejected and spit on more times than we can imagine, for even suggesting that Jesus could be the Messiah, that He might still actually be alive. Why would anyone endure such a life and ask others to do the same? I believe its due in part because they admitted they were broken, that they couldn’t figure it all out, so they gave up on their lives. They surrendered it all to God and let Him lead. Not out of guilt or desperation or fear, but out of Love and complete confidence that their faith was not misplaced, or foolish, but safe in the truth of Jesus.

My dear comrade Brian repeated something his Bishop shared in a leadership retreat… “Pastors, Remember all we really have going for us is our brokenness”.  I was at first puzzled by its meaning, but as this year has progressed…I’ve discovered some rich and encouraging purpose from that phrase. It’s really a beautiful thing to keep with you each day.

God, forgive us for thinking we are supposed to sort this all out, forgive us for our presumptions, assumptions and assertions that we know what to do with our homes, our marriages, our kids and our work. Help us to walk in a spirit of humility and confidence that you will never leave us or forsake us. Remind us of your love, your faith and your hope that’s available for us to live from and out of as followers of Jesus. We accept that we’re weak and empty apart from you, so please Lord fill us anew this DAY”.

When I stop and pray a prayer like this before my day gets out of control, in the shower, in the car on the way to work, on my way home to lead a weekly home group, or sunday mornings before preaching a sermon…and Especially when I need to give my teen daughters or son some wise advice or counsel…its AMAZING how much GOD shows up, and how things change around me…for the better.

Try it.

Admit your helplessness, admit your weakness, admit your brokenness and simply ask for God’s spirit to lead you in every aspect of your life. Turn off your brain for sec and let your heart hear the voice of God whispering to you which steps to take today. Trust me, it will change your life. Burdens do get lighter, loads do get easier to bear and hope starts to bloom around you. “ Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest“”… Matthew 11:28 (NLT)

“Be of good cheer”, “fear not”, “take courage”, “stand firm”, “watch and wait and see the salvation of the Lord”. These are famous phrases of repeated encouragements from dozens of men and women across the landscape of a hundred cultures and races and circumstances detailed in the sacred scriptures. Words of faith that span over two thousand years of mans history.

Its my firm conviction that if you take time to be in the word of God regularly, you will find it rebuilds strength and ignites renewed faith and offers wisdom to guide all of us and our families through a lifetime of struggles and triumphs.

Trust it.

Peace out… Brad.

Learning to let go… Again !

Funny how our personal life lessons take a while to translate to our children.

God has NEVER dropped me. NEVER let me down, there are times and days when I was unsure, scared and full of doubts…but in the end, He always showed up and in the most unusual ways met my greatest needs. I’ve been a follower of Jesus now for almost a decade, and in that time I have filled five journals with memoirs of the faithfulness of God in my life.

Faithful to me in times of abandonment, faithful in times of near bankruptcy, faithful in times of deep depression, anger, resentment, betrayal, personal failing, lost hope, health, etc. No matter what circumstance I found myself in…God was with me. His promise to never leave or forsake me were trustworthy. Reliable. Accurate.

But when my kids became teens… it was like a whole new chapter in Faith had to be re-written.

Ever feel that way ?

Be encouraged, God is as faithful to meet our families needs as our own. What is harder for us parents, is to resist the temptation to reach into their hormonal lives and shake their little- not fully matured -brains until they understand us. To manipulate their lives and schedules and activities to our comfort level and to re-arrange their priorities to match our own.

Why do we do that ?

Or more importantly why should we be tempted to do that? I think the answer is as simple as “Fear”. We have learned and are learning to trust God for our own lives, but letting go of our young adult children is a totally different deal. Let me encourage you to. Not literally let them “go” do whatever they want, but a letting go at the “HEART” level. It’s time to let God be God.

Definitely keep your behavior boundaries, keep your word and be consistent in your home to enforce the rules, guard your respect and promote your beliefs, but in the end… they have to discover the same truths and foundation values that you and I did. Some of that discovering is very difficult to watch unfold.

Resist the need to “Fix” everything in their lives, let them stumble, and bumble their way forward as you encourage, correct and protect them on the way. Stay in the word of God to guide your own path, rely on the same faithful God to win the hearts and minds of your kids as he did your own.

In the end, if we let God take over…we’re really only accepting the reality of things as they have always been. Psalm 37 is one of my anchor to the soul – passages in the bible. I’m sharing it with anyone who needs it now. My hope is you will find the truth of its words to allow you to once again, to find rest in remembering God’s faithfulness to all of us in every generation. Trust Him to reach your children when you can’t.

Psalm 37 (ESV)

He Will Not Forsake His Saints
Of David.

1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
2For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

10In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

12The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him,
13but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming.

14The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose way is upright;
15their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

16 Better is the little that the righteous has
than the abundance of many wicked.
17For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the Lord upholds  the righteous.

18The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will remain forever;
19they are not put to shame in evil times;
in the days of famine they have abundance.

20But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—likesmoke they vanish away.

21The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
but the righteous is generous and gives;
22for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land,
but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

23The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
when he delights in his way;
24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the LORD upholds his hand.

25I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
26He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.

27 Turn away from evil and do good;
so shall you dwell forever.
28For the LORD loves justice;
he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29The righteous shall inherit the land
and dwell upon it forever.

30The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not slip.

32The wicked watches for the righteous
and seeks to put him to death.
33The LORD will not abandon him to his power
or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

35 I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
36But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found.

37Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.
38But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
40The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

(courtesy of Biblegateway.com)

Peace out my dear parenting comrades, and remember… we know how the story is going to end…God Wins.

brad

5 Things parents Do that drive Teens Crazy !

June 21, 2011

5 Things Parents Do That Drive Teens Crazy (guest post by Hannah Dunn, 16) –

Teens love their parents. They, deep down, want to get along and have a relationship that they can always count on. However, sometimes parents forget that teens can be easily annoyed in different ways. I know that my parents don’t always realize that some of the things they do just drive me crazy. 🙂 Here are five of the things parents do that can drive us insane:

1.       Ask too many questions

I, along with many teens, hate coming home to numerous questions. It is okay to ask how the day was, but often, parents just continue to ask questions. Eventually, teens will just start to answer with the normal “Uh huh” or other indifferent response. Instead of just asking question after question, as a parent, make sure you know if your child wants to talk then, or if the questions should just wait.

2.       Unnecessarily nag us

I hate to hear my parents start listing things I have to do. Teens do have an idea of what needs to be done. If asked once, they will get to it. However, I feel that the more my parents ask me to do something, the harder it becomes to find the motivation to do the chore. Instead, my parents started to type up a list and leave it on my desk. By just leaving it for me to read myself and do all the jobs that day, I have the freedom to do each chore at a time that works for me – without the nagging.

3.       Try to change our opinions

Teens are opinionated. We form our own ideas based on our family, school, friends, and even websites we use. Sometimes, these ideas just do not please our parents. Some ideas arrive with the change in generations. Because our parents existed in a time before technology like the internet and cell phones, they do not always feel the same way about something that may seem normal to a teenager. The dispute could be about anything – from texting and communication to other common topics. However, nothing our parents say is going to change our opinion. In the end, parents just have to realize that they will think one way, and we may think differently.

4.       “Downgrade” our efforts

Often, parents forget that teens have a different view on life, for they have not experienced as much. For example, we think that school is a lot of work that we aren’t getting paid for. We don’t always realize that it WILL help us later in life! So, the worse our parents can do is call school fun or easy. For teens, we feel like we are devoting all our time and effort into something “fun and easy,” and that will likely make us mad.

5.       Forget that one day we will lead our own lives too

Sometimes, parents spend so much time trying to keep us safe and happy, that they forget that we want the opportunity to live our own lives. In events that will not have a disastrous or dangerous outcome, it is okay for parents to step back and let their teens make the decisions. This does not mean full freedom – it merely means giving teens a chance to feel that they are trusted to be in control of their own lives.

Hannah Dunn is a teen writer for Radical Parenting.com, a parenting website written from the kid’s perspective–with 82 teen interns. Hannah is 16 years old from New Jersey. She  loves to compete with color guard and marching band, and play piano.  She hopes to become a writer one day, and to inspire others to follow  their dreams. For more articles by teens and or teen experts, please check out RadicalParenting.com

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Repost by Roadtripparenting – This article happens to mirror my own conversations with my sixteen year old daughter last week… regardless of your faith or family perspective, these are helpful insights for parents to consider. RoadTrip Parenting is simply suggesting you ponder this a bit before diving into your kids when you get home at night. I know when I get home and sense disturbances in my teens, I tend to jump in and try to fix things before I consider the entire situation. 🙂

Love to you all, as we all togetherseek to keep our kids in between the lines and on the road of Life” !

Blessings,

brad.

Living like there is NO tomorrow…

It is crazy to think that someone believed the world would end last saturday at a precise time and date, and we laughed at the comic absurdity of it all. But after the belly laughs subside, I’m left with the sobering reality that if  I really take the time to consider… there are now in fact a series of un-explainable and destructive events happening across the world.

From the apocalyptic earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear melt down in Japan to the epic tornadoes in the south and midwest to some of the worst flooding in a hundred years or more, it seems something is happening to our world. If your children have not asked you about it…they will. I can guarantee you they are thinking about it, the images on television and MSN are frightening, and the truth is with all of our technology and education and advancements, we’re defenseless against the power of nature.

We could spend a tremendous amount of time and energy speculating what exactly it all means or when we might expect to see it all end, but that’s not really very helpful. Its exhausting and it raises the blood pressures and Valium prescriptions for parents and puts our kids into a tailspin. This is an endless and un-knowable question, and I believe the wrong one to try to answer.

Instead of trying to figure it all out.. what if we simply chose to live like there would be NO tomorrow?

A biblical perspective allows us to skip the speculation and focus on the facts.  Jesus told us things would get scary in the last age, that “mens hearts would fail them for fear” and that in the signs of the times there would be birth pains or tribulation on earth in response to the surge of evil and the waning of good. Jesus told us to live as if today were our last and for us all to look for His return, in the same discussion He warned that “No man knows the hour” and there would be fakes, imposters and false prophets everyone claiming to be Messiah, or special or enlightened.

It’s good to be aware, its good to have a sober understanding of the days in which we live…but to obsess about it leads to strange saturday predictions and outright odd behavior. To prepare for the unknowable is impossible and overwhelming. We are only asked to remember that we  have today to live, not simply survive, but to LIVE.

Jesus taught us to live in the moment of each day, focused on the events and needs and wants of that day, not tomorrow. James tells us in his epistle to not even try to plan ahead without acknowledging the reality of God. He instructs us to plan only with the understanding …”If God wills”, as a way of reminding the early church we can’t assume that we have tomorrow. Given the risks of simply driving to work. dare we presume to assume that our lives will continue beyond today?

As a Christian father…I want to be prepared to talk with my kids in a way that defuse’s their fears and inspires their day. I want to redirect their question from If the world is going to end, to what is my opportunity to be alive today ? Having faith and a relationship with Jesus allows us to live each day free from the bondage of fear, anxiety and uncertainty. 

Our kids are desperate to understand how they can live in such times with peace and hope and happiness. As parents we should remind them to look at their lives like we do… with an eternal perspective on it all. It is crazy to think that someday all that we know and can see will pass away, but God’s love and His words will “never pass away”.

Tonight… Listen, share and have some family time around the table… ask you kids about this stuff. See what happens. To answer their questions, crack open the bible and read the words of Jesus, watch as it soothes their hearts and minds with His truth and hope and love. They need to know that their parents are living with hope and certainty in the midst of so much upheaval and that in the midst of a world going crazy, the bible is the anchor of our soul. If all we do as parents is teach our kids to turn to the word of God in times of crisis or uncertainty… we will have done our jobs well. (www.dailyaudiobible.com – check it out today for free daily MP3 and streaming readings in the word)

Peace out and you like me… “seek to keep your families in between the lines and on the road of life”!

Brad.