Do for the one… A lesson from Baltimore

Crazy stuff… kids looting, rioting, and out of control in a major US City.

Baltimore burning.

Rage and Frustration literally igniting a city as millions watched and took sides.

As a pastor a thousand miles away…my heart ached. 

Such fear and confusion, politics and posturing. Agenda’s seen and unseen pushing from behind the scenes to move us in calculated ways. It’s so messed up, it makes me want to throw my ‘hands up’ in a completely different way.

But way down deep in my heart is the sadness of knowing, this explosion of emotion is based on more than a rage at the machine or the ‘man’ in charge… it’s deeper than any political movement or social injustice. This is a symptom of darker and simpler things. 

channelnewsasia.com - Baltimore MD Riots

channelnewsasia.com – Baltimore MD Riots

The foundations are falling and the family is the first to go.

Baltimore is burning, lead by its dis-enfranchised youth. Where are the fathers and mothers to lead their family’s home ?

Are they absent for the decades of unresolved social injustices in their city, is it generational poverty, education erosion, violent gangs, drugs, a culture of open promiscuity… or is it the overall lack of faith or hope in the future that’s fueling this growing lack of respect for authority?

Take your pick. 

In the end, it’s about the home… or the absence of home for our youth.

America, it’s time “we” (Christians /you and I) do something about this, and stop allowing the media to push us into one camp or the other. We must see the outrage of our heavenly “Father” at the widows and orphans of our land. To ignore this is to be asleep or worse… apathetic to our selfish bones.

The words of a great sermon still echo through my heart’s halls... “Do for ‘one” what you wish you could do for all” (Andy Stanley) 

Ask God to show you ‘who’ and where and when, but it’s time we move from the sidelines to the front-lines of this modern american tragedy. It’s past time for God’s people to make a tangible difference. To risk being uncomfortable.

It’s as simple as looking for a life to invest in.

Find a young man or woman who isn’t in a healthy home or family. Adopt them. Take them in. Love them, teach them… learn from them. Grow. Become the hands and feet we sing about on Sundays.

Newsweek.com - Baltimore Riots April 27, 2015

Newsweek.com – Baltimore Riots April 27, 2015

Do for the one… and change the world. 

Pastor B

Has Media Become our national God?

It’s a real possibility. Current statistics of media consumption for families  reveals that over 80 hours a week on average is spent online, watching TV or listening to Mp3 players or a combo of all three.  (State of the Church & Family (c)2011) / Orange and Barna Group)

How Much Media is Enough ?

What does that say about us?

I believe it says that we’re addicted to entertainment, to stimulation. I know I am and I’m nowhere near 80 hours a week. It’s a natural migration for my mind and senses to want to be engaged. To avoid silence and stillness, not conciously…but subconsciously.

Why is that?

I’m guessing it’s a mixture of our human nature, technology and opportunity all coming together in a perfect storm. Our nature pulls us towards pleasure above all else…. our technology is so cool it’s overwhelming to the eyes and ears and senses and comes in waves of even cooler and smaller gadgets. The opportunity is almost endless with access points in our homes, schools and local McDonalds for anyone with a wi-fi capable phone, pad or pod.

Does that make Media a bad thing?

Not in my humble opinion. Media is what it is, neutral and unaffected by morality or values…it’s what we do with it that moves it from a non-factor to a huge positive or negative in our lives. It’s no worse than food, money, leisure, relationships or work in that regard. A necessary activity or resource that God has allowed for us to enjoy and use to our benefit.

What is the REAL danger behind it?

I believe the danger from media is its ability to subtly affect our beliefs and undermine our mental stamina. Ok…in english. Sexuality – nudity – violence – trashy talk and greed  can become common place in media, subtly removing our resistance to such conduct and replacing our conscience’s with apathy and indifference. Mental capacity starts to fade as we engage only the consumptive parts of our psyche and allow the deductive and problem solving – creative processes to atrophy and slowly fade. We’re content to allow others or things to do our thinking for us… trusting their reasoning and data over our own. (I.E.  Wikipedia vs. Personal experience)

Media and Teen Values ?

What do we do when popular Media suggests our beliefs are in error ?

Hard question. Reacting in fear is a problem… not reacting is a problem. The challenge is to confront the issues without rejecting the medium (media) or the individual teen or tween asking the question. Not responding or ignoring these obvious challenges to our values and beliefs will result in substantial changes in our kids values and principles and patterns of learning, problem solving and living…. a risk that I’m NOT willing to take.

Getting practical.

If media is out of balance in our lives, it becomes an idol. A mini-god. Just like sex, food, money or careers… this can usurp the role that God alone can play in one’s life or family. Time to take an honest look at the amount of media and entertainment that we’re consuming and then assess how we as parents need to filter it.

Slow things down – unplug from time to time. Say NO to your kids, and watch stuff with them… find out what they are absorbing from their peers, from their hero’s and from media…maybe its time to take the weekend off. Go outside, go fishing, hiking, antique picking, rake the yard, carve a pumpkin, visit a friend, clean the garage, volunteer for a charity, wash your car… Do SOMETHING that is physical and interactive and do it WITH your kids. Be spontaneous… make it fun and balanced. SLOW down your schedule… reduce the dependency on stimulation, and replace it with relationships, talking… walking, reading and writing. Engage your brain and your body.

Oh and don’t forget to model this for your kids BEFORE you ask them to change. Otherwise…we’re in danger of being ignored 🙂

Blessings,

Pastor B.

Walking…not talking

Popular culture has a nasty way of changing us and our kids without even asking our parental consent.

Today, we have hit TV shows which not only are extremely well produced, but intelligently written and superbly cast…unfortunately those shows also have strong themes for validating a gay and lesbian lifestyle in families and only represent a small fraction of the changing family values message that mainstream media is passing on to our kids every day…

thetvaddict.com

So how does a family with traditional values maintain some kind of conservative view on sexuality, life and faith? It’s clear we have to risk rejection from both sides if we dare to suggest a middle way in our Politically correct society…after all we could get caught in between , criticized by everyone. What parent or family would dare to stand against either extreme… how can we seek to refute a gospel of moral relativity and not hate those who live differently than we do? Won’t we risk the ire of our super conservative Christian cousins…AND the Politically correct if we don’t pick one of the clearly defined sides?

Christians don’t have to retreat and stoop to become the hate filled, angry and coldly critical conservative stereotypes of previous generations. We don’t have to condemn every man-woman or child who comes anywhere near a left wing political position. Attacking their actions and ignoring their hearts & lives as if their individual beliefs have no value and deserve no respect because they might choose to vote Democratic in the next election.

As a parent, I’m VERY careful to make sure my kids are aware of the need for respect and love in every confrontation. To model for them, how to disagree with others in a way that does not require intellectual revenge or the forming an offense for life. So many men and women of faith have gnarly knee-jerk reactions towards alternative lifestyles, “re-acting” with anger and condemnation towards anyone who challenges the traditional Judeo-Christian world view. Let’s stop doing that! Our faith and values have survived for over five thousand years… I think they can handle a little scrutiny. 

quotes.jotoexplorer.com

Let’s consider the bible itself as a point of reference for those of us who are navigating the rapidly changing tides of popular opinion AND seeking to raise families with a healthy balance of rejecting sin and learning to love and embrace an ancient faith.

In particular, the book of Isaiah. Believed to have been written in the 8th Century BC, Isaiah is a major Old Testament prophet who spoke to the nation of Israel in a similar cultural time and condition as our own. His suggestions in chapters 46-52 were straight forward and easily understood, but still ignored. I’m afraid this may be the case today…but here goes;

1- Listen (stop running around with your head cut off) – pause, reflect and consider what God is saying to us as parents on the topics of the day. Ask Him to provide wisdom and insight into the BEST way to train up and lead your kids in the ways of faith.

2- Remember (don’t allow today to overshadow your yesterdays) – God (Yahweh, Jehovah – Jesus)  is faithful. He can’t help but remain faithful to us and to man. His Character demands it, and God is not an option for us to consider. God is God. His ways are not our ways and His purposes are sure, steadfast… never going to fail kind of things. Important to keep in mind when popular culture suggests otherwise.

3- Watch and Wait ( God never responds exactly as we would like…but He does respond) Waiting on God to give direction, clarity and conviction as to how you should instruct and teach your kids is a critical part of growing our faith as parents. Remember that God will deliver, God will keep His promises. God NEVER fails. His salvation is continually changing lives, Jesus as the ultimate illustration of the point. Invite Jesus into whatever life circumstance, tribulation or injustice you have and watch as God redeems it.

Today, my kids are in college and high-school and are very aware of the moral contrasts between our home and the one outside our door… what I hope to have provided them is a biblical context to interpret those values and filter them through scripture for a more accurate and compassionate view of the lives and people they will encounter.

Trusting our actions will speak much louder than our words, today’s Christian families MUST show the world what they believe…in their actions and attitudes, with much less emphasis on what we say. After all…the world and our kids are watching!

Blessings,

brad.