It’s all about the “tone” – confessions of a dumb dad

First up, my wife is a saint.

Second little detail… I’m a doofus.

Let me set the scene… family dinner of dad’s spaghetti surprise, everyone’s had a long day, sharing a meager late dinner. Bleary and fatigued, I heedlessly jump into a delicate and complicated relational issue with one of our kids.

youthservicesslc.com

youthservicesslc.com

Ever do that ?

Of course you have… we all have, “bad timing” would be the ‘only positive spin we could make on such a poor approach.

In my genuine concern, I jumped the gun and dove into a deep problem armed only with my logic and need to resolve the issue before bedtime. Completely missing my wife’s gentle warnings to ease up, I pressed in…. made my point and wounded everyone.

Nice.

The painful truth hovering an inch over the table and squeezing the life out of what I had hoped to be a ‘healing’ conversation, I slowly realized how soundly I had screwed this up. My wife raising her voice deliberately in check (holding back her right to kick my shin in half under the table) as her eyes burned twin holes through my chest.

So it turns out… I needed to be reminded, you can say the right things the wrong way and be completely in the wrong.

After an extra thirty minutes of damage control from my wife, the issue was soothed and smoothed over.

An hour afterwards, I came back to my wife and my kid to apologize. Not just the “I’m sorry’ I said things the wrong way apology…but the I was wrong for speaking to you that way, I am truly sorry for being insensitive and harsh when you needed me to be gentle, patient and kind apology.

Grace was extended, grace was received and in the mess, somewhere and somehow… God’s Kingdom came to my home. 

apaperlesslife.com

apaperlesslife.com

Parents, we’re not going to get it “right’ , but we can ‘make it right’.

Let’s focus on living our faith in ‘front’ of our families and be careful to allow God’s Holy Spirit to guide our every conversation… and guys, please say an extra prayer of thanks for our gracious spouses who offset us knuckleheads!

Pastor B.

Fatherhood Resource for dad’s to check out – by John and Sam Eldridge,

Killing Lions – from Thomas Nelson publishers.

Rush to judgement

As a pastor I deal with lots of diverse personalities, backgrounds and perspectives on Christian life. I hear various and widely polarized views of God, politics and the role of the church in our modern culture. I’ve seen painful issues blow up from minor misunderstandings to a church split, based on a single personal offense.

It’s tragic when we allow ourselves to be manipulated, nudged into fueling turmoil and rumors without all the facts.

We forget of our mortal enemy and his mastery of getting us to think the worst of the other. Subtle demonic encouragement that urges us to assume ill intent from a fellow brother or sister.

We can easily get caught in a ‘knee-jerk’ rush to judgement and say things that we regret.

Let’s be careful to recognize the unrestrained flood of emotion that can ‘mysteriously’ show up in our days.

It clouds minds and hearts and overshadows all the good and true things of our Christian communities. In those dark moments, very few of us have all of our facts sorted out and lined up before we throw down on our fellow Christian. Let’s pull back to Christ before we give in to the temptation to spew whatever we’re feeling all over every one else.

Let’s be careful to not presume the worst, but to have the courage to ask for the facts.

Let’s choose to trust the Christ in each other and not to use each other to simply “affirm” our views. Let’s give up on the option we can hold in reserve, the plan B to simply walk away if our views are ever rejected. We have to deny the lies that whisper….”we’re not wanted” and re- focus on the redemption of God in our hearts,  trusting He does the same in others. We can’t keep simply leaving communities of faith when we get hurt, grinding our teeth and nursing grudges, simmering with bitter resentment that can slow boil for decades.

The problem is… what we ‘feel’ isn’t usually true and if other people are involved in our lives…. we will get hurt eventually. An unavoidable reality of a fallen world. 

The truth is we are all already wounded, scared and angry. We cautiously visit churches, convinced we’ll be rejected before we ever enter the doors… self-sabotaging and primed for defensive measures. Please understand….I get it. I’ve done it. I know how to live frustrated and wary, cynical in my mental isolation.

We need to learn to take a moment to slow things down and really-truly ask our God to show us where HE wants us to belong. Where are we called to plug- into a community of faith? Not where we feel the most ‘fed’ or  the most ‘comfortable’ or  where people all agree with me.

Ask Him to reveal the things in your life that are uniquely ‘yours’ to resolve. Ask Jesus to come. Invite Him to touch your heart and heal the broken spaces, the old issues and fears, frustrations and pains that need to be brought to His healing cross.

christwithin.com

christwithin.com

Wouldn’t it be great if we moved from a Co-Dependent faith that seeks to find only those who agree with us… to a genuine relationship with God in a community of faith that’s bound by covenant of love and shared mission ?

Saints, parents and friends, we must push forward through the turbulence of community life, we have to choose to forgive and grow up together  into Christ, mature and stable, able to discern between good and evil.

Paul says it so much better…

Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV (Biblegateway)

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Love you all, Pastor B.

Tired of talking?

I’ve been traveling since the recent tensions in Ferguson Missouri erupted, which gave me a ton of drive time to tune it all in and listen as dramatically different versions of what happened droned on. Polar opposite opinions escalate like the volatile emotions on the ground, as pundits and politicians, activists and angry American’s vented their wrath and frustrations all over the airwaves.

I couldn’t help but feel the bitter sting of the Millions of lives impacted by the actions of just a few. 

I listened as generations of anger and hatred, fear and frustration all came bubbling up and boiling over as each side aggressively took their stands,  prepared to defend the sanctity of their actions to the bitter end.

Forming ranks against any who would dare debate or discount them, people from every walk of life spewing toxic opinions all over twitter and Facebook as the Media machine blew on the smoldering agitation to heat their ratings white-hot, as they ride this tragedy straight to the proverbial bank.

As a pastor, as a man…my heart is seriously grieved.

I have deep friendships with people who are taking up positions on both sides of this tired debate. Each one emotionally sharing their “opinions” to me, needing me to agree with their “take” on exactly what should be done and by who…

Social media blowing up with angry accusations and judgments from one group to other. What should a ‘good’ Christian do or think ? How should churches really respond etc. Good people standing stubbornly on opposite sides of this cultural divide, re-creating in our small groups, schools and homes the same seething emotions that are being acted upon in the streets of Ferguson MO.

What is all this really ?

Why are we so enraged to ‘defend” and debate before we have the facts? Even if we did know what happened, what will that do but confirm to people what they already believe to be true.


 Wrongs  passed down and repeated, injustice and suffering expected, predicted and allowed. A state of mind and life that stems from a broken heart, a condition no doctor, educator, social worker or psychologist can fix? 

It’s hard to take responsibility for our actions. Good or bad, right or wrong… we dislike the shame and humiliation of admitting we are in the wrong. Like a marriage relationship gone really bad, both sides refuse to forgive the other. Each spouse absolutely convinced of their being in the “right” and seek only to “prove” to their point to everyone around.

With humility and some perspective, I am suggesting to each of these polarized camps….the truth might actually be smack-dab-in-the- middle. That each of us has a significant part to play in this social tragedy.

rivercitychicago.com

rivercitychicago.com

As Christians… God calls us to lead the way in reconciliation, in forgiveness and in patience with our fellow broken and imperfect man.

Living in Ferguson MO this is nearly impossible to hope for, and God’s grace will need to flow like a literal river for this mess to be resolved. But what about the ‘rest’ of us?

Are we gonna keep sparking it up or give this over to our God in prayer ?

Guys…If we don’t let God in on this stuff, we’re missing out on another fantastic opportunity to show supernatural love to a broken and bitter world.

I believe Prayer is where the things that matter the most can be changed… the state of the  human heart.

Parents, your kids are watching and listening… be thoughtful in your words, just in your action and compassionate in your opinions, it’s the only way we can go forward with our Faith intact. 

Pastor B.

Parenting with Presumption…

Sometimes I presume too much, I think I know what’s going on when I don’t have a clue.

Ever have a moment of clarity when you realize you just totally and completely blew it with your kid ? 

I recently returned from a long weekend trip with my wife to find the house and in particular the kitchen a mess. (The dishes were stacked higher than the countertop and we could see random pieces of food floating in the murky water stagnating in the sink hole)

My wife and I were exhausted from a particularly draining weekend on the road and found ourselves blasting into our sixteen year old for failing to do the dishes when we got back. Pent up anger and inner frustration spewing out onto the closest scapegoat around.

warosu.org

warosu.org

We jumped to some presumptive conclusions about what we assumed to be his lack of responsibility and concern for our family, believing he ignored the needs of our home so that he could enjoy himself freely during our absence. Explained in passionate detail and multiple angles for crystal clarity for a solid fifteen minutes of parental interrogation. (You know what I mean 🙂

With the evidence so clearly observed in the sink….We accused him of being lazy and self-centered, immature and apathetic… etc. His response…silence. He closed himself up emotionally, took his verbal lumps and went angrily to bed, not saying a word.

Later as I felt something about our parental tirade wasn’t totally “right” and asked God about the issue with the dishes the night before… my spirit was uneasy. Could we have missed some vital detail? I decided to ask our son about it the next day.

He refused to talk about it. So I began to push a little bit for him to tell me what he was “feeling” about all the drama we had experienced the other night and if we (his mother and me) might have over-reacted or missed something in our discussion with him… ?

After a prolonged silence…his faced clouded up and his eyes filled with tears…I watched as his shoulders slumped and his body began to shake, knowing my son, I realized with certainty…we had misjudged him… and badly.

As we listened and he quietly talked, it was very clear, we – his parents;  were totally wrong about what we thought had happened!  In our frustration and haste to correct, we had wounded our son’s heart and unjustly accused and presumed to know of his intent and character. It was worse than being an idiot, we were now officially parenting jerks! With each of his slow, quiet tear drops, I felt the shame of regret flood my own face.

After asking for his forgiveness, (which took some time) he shared with us how much stress he really was struggling to live under. The pressure of high school academics combined with a deep desire to please us (his parents) was squeezing him.  He had stayed in his room for an entire weekend to study for the upcoming college entrance exams. On deeper inspection, we could see hadn’t been watching TV and slacking off… he had been working.

baggagereclaim.co.uk

baggagereclaim.co.uk

His one highlight he had hoped to share on our return..,  a special effects photo project he had carefully arranged, ready for us to see when we got home… yep you guessed it, he had set it carefully out for us to see in our KITCHEN!

SNAP ! CRAP !!!

Oh man, I realized suddenly… not only did we NOT see his hard work and effort on-display in the kitchen, we had only focused on the dish mess and what we perceived he did wrong, instead of celebrating what was so obviously done so right!

SNAP ! DOUBLE CRAP !!!

We missed more than that though… we didn’t see or feel a fraction of the immense stress he had been carrying around our home – hidden behind his teen mask of alternating moods and hormone melancholy. We mis-judged his motives, faulted his personal integrity and questioned his maturity ! All done in the space of a heart-beat and all of it dead wrong.

How many families out there know what that feels like ? How many of us have lived out a similar experience of pain and rejection between parents and kids, some lasting for a lifetime, all because of a moment of presumption?

We went critical instead of supportive in our parenting perspective! We didn’t honor and encourage him, building his confidence as the young man he was and needs to become. Instead, in our haste and pride we smashed him and his wounded heart to pieces all over our kitchen floor…and if God wasn’t so merciful, we wouldn’t have even known our error.

source -totstoteensmagazine.com

source -totstoteensmagazine.com

Sometimes we  just need to “own” our messes as parents, asking forgiveness of our kids. No excuses, no explanations…no justifications allowed, just humbly accepting and admitting our mistake and trusting our heavenly Father to make up for all the mis-steps we make as parents.

Pastor B.

Single minded

As I age… I find myself chucking the un-necessary stuff in my life. The value of simplicity growing larger than my compulsions to “have” or acquire. My garage has less junk in it than ever, my attic has only the seasonal Christmas trinkets and my closet, only the clothes I still wear.

My heart is less cluttered too… I don’t hang onto all the emotional baggage like I used to. Past offenses, fears and hurts are still occasionally on the edges of my mind and soul, but they no longer claim me as a place of residence.

christophergiglio.blogspot.com -

christophergiglio.blogspot.com –

It’s more important to slow down, to really understand the reasons behind the reactions… both within myself and in the lives of others. When I make the effort, I find it’s a significant and effective place to parent or pastor from.

The hardest question I can ask myself centers around my relationship with Jesus. Not the cliché’ marketing slang of WWJD, but deeper than that… what does Jesus “say” for me personally to do about this facet of my life?  What is it He’s specifically urging me to consider about the situation I find myself struggling to understand, respond to or help with.

The moment I take the time to really ask and really listen to God… I find myself quickly decompressing and even relaxing. The pressure for “me” to handle this, to have a wise response or a Godly attitude suddenly evaporates as I realize I can’t be Jesus to anyone, I can only be Brad. BUT, I can let JESUS act through me, I can give permission for Him to speak with my mouth and use my hands and feet to accomplish what He would have done in the same situation.

The challenge is consciously moving beyond the circumstances of each life challenge. IF Jesus gets to call the shots in our lives, He ignores our plaintive, insistent objections that we believe in so strongly.

Like;

-our “right” to be offended,  or…

-our stubborn insistence to be “vindicated

– or our personal protestations of “injustice” when treated wrongly.

All of the above considerations, although well founded in our minds are singularly irrelevant to the heart of Jesus. He chooses to love and forgive every time, and so If we allow Him to be in charge… we are giving Him permission to do the same in and through us to others.

He moves past the particulars to the heart of each and every situation… my heart, their heart… and His heart. That is difficult to stomach when our powerful emotions and deepest feelings intrude on His divine direction. It means that I have to “trust” in his perspective more than my own.

wallpicts.com

wallpicts.com

But no matter how difficult the decision to “Trust” Him… I find that when I totally surrender my option to respond how I want to… and accept what He wants (before I know the answer) instead… I am completely at peace.

The singleness of mind that going to God first brings… is amazingly clarifying.

Our truest self rotates intently around the genuine relationship we have (or don’t have) with Jesus. When that issue stays before me and above any other, I live and work and play and love with clarity and freedom and happiness. When I allow other things to distract or cloud that… I lose my simplicity and get complicated very fast.

Nothing Jesus did or taught or lived was ever complicated. It may have been eternally profound and un-fathomable…but not complicated. When we find life getting very complicated, it’s a clue that somewhere we’ve drifted a bit from our center and need to re-align ourselves spiritually before we can un-clutter ourselves emotionally – physically or materially.

Peace out family… Pastor B.

Reconciliation

Ever felt you had a wall between yourself and a friend? Maybe just a “un-ease” that something wasn’t quite right between you and someone you thought you knew well… something un-spoken and vague, but under the surface it was irritating some deep part of you and the slow fuse of resentment starts to smolder. Maybe you feel that way about God ?
Reading through the book of JOB & 2 Corinthians 5 in preparation for Sunday’s sermon… came across this word “reconciliation“, It seemed right to “linger” a bit …

photo - markspsychiatry.com

photo – markspsychiatry.com

  Reconciliation : (noun) the restoration of friendly relations.
synonyms: reuniting, reunion, bringing together (again), conciliation, reconcilement, rapprochement, fence-mending;pacification, appeasement, placating, mollification

“the reconciliation of the disputants” –resolution, settlement, settling, resolving, mending, remedying – “a reconciliation of their differences” agreement, compromise, understanding, peace;   (Source – GOOGLE)
Lives get sideways… relationships suffer, people drift away and trust is reduced… suspicions grow. Circumstances that were simple “coincidence” become – “planned” in our minds/hearts and the offense of the “imagined” occurs.
Dark and nasty our trust becomes doubt and an imperceptible negative “agreement” occurs, our minds inventing more and more elaborate details to fuel our growing rage at the separation we feel – but can’t define .
Our pride steps in and insists “We Didn’t DO ANYTHING” – that’s all on them. We surround ourselves with defensive facts, designed to justify our anger and we turn our backs… we walk away wounded, but self-justified.
Friendships fade. New ones are sought out to instantly fill the now vacant space in our lives and we quickly move on… desperate to avoid another “betrayal”.  We mumble a quick prayer to God about how “messed up” that old friend was/is and we rarely if ever stop to consider the truth behind the emotional barrier we may have actually constructed.
JOB felt that way about God. He didn’t know exactly what role God had played in his life, but he “sensed” something was out of balance, that God wasn’t telling him the whole story. Instead of “jumping” to the conclusion that God had betrayed him… JOB pushed for a “reconciliation” with his maker, that’s courageous stuff.  Paul clearly challenges the New Testament Christian in his second letter to Corinth, to make “Reconciliation” the ultimate expression of their faith in action.
Ouch.
That means if we are serious about going after Christ, we will have to be honest with how well we’re “reconciling” ourselves with each other and with God. If we play mind games with ourselves and others… the impact of us attempting to ministering to others in Christ’s name… would ring pretty hollow. I believe God wants us to be “quick” to forgive, forget and reconcile. Modeling the life of Jesus to others by the ways in which we cling tenaciously to the friendships and family that God has so graciously gifted us to be with.

2 COR 5:17-20 (ESV – Biblegateway.com) mom-and-daughter-bonding

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling  the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Pray about it… ask God to help you identify the people, places and spaces in your life that need to be “reconciled” and then go in faith to make it so….
Love you, Pastor B.

Talking with kids about the death of bin-Laden…

Everyone knows by now… confirmed by President Obama, Osama bin Laden is dead. The world reacts…, many with jubilation, some with fear and others with resentment. Almost ten years later, a chapter is finally closed for many Americans.

But how are we as Christian parents to respond ?

I wouldn’t dare presume to tell you how to answer the questions certain to come from your kids about this, but here are some things to consider.

1- Osama bin-Laden was an evil man, guilty of great acts of terror and injustice. His involvement with the murder of thousands on 9-11 has symbolized the hatred and pain of millions around the world. His capture and death represents justice for those he murdered and threatened and maimed.

2- The price of Freedom is high, and with the death of Osama bin-Laden, it is clear that Americans may face more threats and even future attacks, but the principles of Justice and Freedom remain. Those values and beliefs demand that  we proceed in actively protecting ourselves against such violent men and their obvious evil. Regardless of the threat of further danger or acts of terror, we cannot live controlled by fear and avoid confronting evil… or the principle of terror wins.

3 – God is a  God of Justice. There are many in-justices in our lives, many wrongs. But in the end it is the Christian’s belief and hope that there is a personal God who is aware, and involved and concerned. It is the way of God to bring justice to the oppressed and to bring freedom to those in captivity. The nearly ten-year man-hunt for bin-Laden that resulted in his death is symbolic of the Christians belief in the relentless nature of God’s justice. It may take years, or decades before it is seen, but God is indeed at work behind the scenes, righting every wrong and redeeming every loss.

4- Hatred is always a temptation that must be resisted. As a Christian, we are commanded to love our friends and our enemies. That love is impossible to create on our own, but comes from the deepest understanding of our own fallen nature and God’s willingness to forgive our own sins. Our kids need to know, forgiveness is essential to seek in the face of being wronged by others. That does not mean we ignore the need for  Justice or the divine nature and inspiration of our law and order. It does mean that we as parents should model forgiveness and wisdom in our own responses to personal injustice and  conflict.

In the end, this story is a powerful reminder of the nature of justice and perseverance and good overcoming evil. It is a story of villans and heroes, of sacrifice and loss and of justice and redemption. It is our personal and national story and we must be willing and proud to share it with the next generation so the lessons are not lost and the truth is always in front of us.

Parents, God bless you in your struggle to help your families follow after the faith and values you hold so dear. Here is to “keeping it on the road and in-between the lines” !

Peace out,

brad.