Parenting Essential #4 – The Danger of Self – Reliance

Essential #4 – The DANGER of Self-reliance: 

Living independently as a parent could be dangerous, may even result in the spiritual death of your kids. A paraphrase from our Podcast interview with Professor Dean Diehl, Podcast season 2.

Being perceived as “strong” and above it all is a huge temptation for parents in the church to try to project everything’s OK. The reality is, we’re not. We can’t handle everything by ourselves, we are going to need help and encouragement. As parents we all need support, especially from other believers.

Parenting is more than a project to complete, it’s a sacred assignment to be guarded and  well protected. Part of stewarding our parenting role is to surround ourselves with wise counsel and experience from those who have gone before us.

Source – Pexels.com

The culture is always pushing into our parenting practices, we have to protect ourselves from its influences and recognize how it redirects us from living as authentic examples of faith. Society will urge us to deny our weakness and project how mature and strong we are as parents, we can be duped into expending tremendous energy to present our families as a ‘success’.

As Christian parents, what are the goals we want set for our kids… Why?

The influence of our culture pushes us to quantify our successes with material and or secular measurements rather than spiritual dimensions. “What is our goal as a parent? To deliver a ‘good’ kid at 18 years of age, without having premarital sex, having tried alcohol or drugs? Or is it to love them unconditionally and help them discover their identity as God created them to be?”

This podcast interview digs deep and asks some hard questions for parents to consider, questions we all need to answer carefully and honestly.

If you’re struggling with the enormity of parenthood, you are not alone. We can walk through this together or forge ahead alone. To see our kids hearts won for Christ, we will have to adjust our approach and align ourselves with the way God works and reject the way our world insists we go.

Interview Information:

Brilliantly Brave Parenting Podcast Link: https://soundcloud.com/brilliantlybrave/ep30-dean-diehl

YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/j1qf4IoZrws

Website Link: https://brilliantlybraveparenting.com/dean-diehl/

Some key thoughts / quotes from our interview:

“Self – reliance as a parent will get your kids killed (Spiritually)”

“Jesus never called us to be ‘good’ – But Holy. Good is what we do, Holy is what He does.”

“Christian Karma is when we start ‘comparing’ our good/bad behavior with others, and rely on our being ‘better’ than other people.”

“Selling salvation is one of the great failures of the evangelical church over the past century. We’ve tried to ‘sell’ the gospel – and we’re not called to sell the gospel – it’s not a sales proposition – it’s an offer of life.”

“Values based parenting vs. Rules based – the difference is all about what we parent from, fear or love.”

“What is our goal as a parent? To deliver a ‘good’ kid at 18 years of age, without having premarital sex, having tried alcohol or drugs? Or is it to love them unconditionally and help them discover their identity as God created them to be?”

“Fear of missing out – is one of the key marketing approaches in our modern society – it shouldn’t be a Christian parenting or church principle.”

About Dean Diehl: Assistant Professor at Trevecca Nazarene University and Senior VP at Provident Music Group. Trevecca is a private Christian liberal arts college in Nashville, TN. Founded in 1901, Trevecca’s mission is “a Christian community providing education for leadership and service.”

Dean Diehl is the director of their music business program. Diehl joined Trevecca in 2008 after pursuing a 20-year career in the music industry where he worked as the senior vice president of Provident Music Group, helping to shape the careers of well-known artists such as Casting Crowns, Third Day and Michael W. Smith. He and his wife live in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., where he grew up, and have four daughters and three grandchildren.

 

 

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.

the Mozart Easter Story

Heard a great sermon on XM Radio’s family talk channel. The preacher shared on Mozart, who was quoted in his life to say…The secret to life, is accepting death“. (my paraphrase)

The story goes, that Mozart attributed his amazing life of musical genius and prolific creativity to the understanding that he would die, could die at anytime and that he was completely surrendered to that. He was excited to squeeze the life out of every second of every day that he had, without fear or doubt. He had settled the issue of his passing long before it came up.

Recent controversy with Pastor Rob Bell’s book… “Love Wins” has riled up the talking heads and the blogosphere with accusations of heresy, name calling and polarizing posturing from many Christian camps. His book explores the reality of what the Bible says specifically about Hell, Heaven and life after we die. I’m not here to comment on that other than to say.. I’m more concerned for this blog, in how I live this life, right now.

His understanding of death, released Mozart to live a most remarkable life.

As a believer in Christ, I have theoretically the same belief, that my death will only lead to life. But do I live that waySpecifically…not in the great beyond, or in the great eternity of the unknown…but here and now. Today. Am I living with a clear understanding of the truth behind those words ?

Jesus said, I am come that they might have life…and have it to the fullest. I don’t believe that he was just commenting for us on an inconceivable endless heaven after earth reality. I believe it means life for us here, now. When we surrender our need to be in control of our destiny, we find life. When we let go of our preferences, our endless fears for our kids, the mortgage or the test results just in from the doctor…. we renew our days with something extra-ordinary, a “Jesus” kind of perspective to our day that has the intensity of true and vibrant life in it.

Our kids are watching us as we live, we can teach and preach and do devotions until we’re blue in the face. We can drag them to church every Sunday, youth groups, missions trips or summer camps…but in the end they are watching US to determine what they are going to really believe.

When we live from the reality that we have already”died” to ourselves and to our preferences, we can embrace whatever God directs us towards… determined to live  fearlessly in the face of whatever comes. I believe that kind of life speaks louder than any other effort we can intellectually make to win their trust and hope and belief in Jesus. Our day-to-day understanding of the precious and priceless gift of life that has been given to us in Jesus, provide us with a remarkable weapon of Hope and Healing and Help. We become life-givers to those who are literally and metaphorically dying… Son Rise Cross

So this Easterlet go, allow your own stuff to die. The baggage of worry, fear and frustration that keeps us bound from really living…Please, know that until you surrender the stubborn parts of you that insist on being “right”, or “getting your way”…you’re not really dead yet. So go ahead and die to all of you…So that your and your family can really enthusiastically LIVE.

Fellow Parents,…It’s worth the struggle, and it’s worth the freedom to push through this Easter and not settle for anything less than real life. It’s time to consider a Mozart Easter tradition to begin in your home.

A life of really living… a life with hope and renewed vibrancy…in the beauty of TODAY. After all, we have something and someone truly remarkable to be living for.

Peace out my friends, “Keeping it on the road and in between the lines of Life”

brad.

Parenting through that awkward pause…

I hate awkward pauses… I change the channel sometimes in a romantic comedy – right when the good guy or lady get caught doing something totally innocent that appears to be totally awful. AAArrghh. I HATE that feeling.

The moment when the elephant in the room is overtly discussed…

That sick pit in your stomach – pause in conversation – moment of time, when we realize… I just completely missed a critical social cue from my spouse… and put my entire foot in my mouth.

Life is full of those awkward pauses, when we realize if we continue forward… we will undoubtedly reduce our credibility and an escape of going backward isn’t an option. The option to wait… to pause, it’s all we have.

Awkward.

Parenting is a lot like that with pre-teens.

You can’t go backward, not an option. Moving forward “as is” isn’t really a good idea, so we have to pause. To wait for something vital inside of them to change. To grow.

And for many parents, that pause is too difficult to endure. We feel the need to do “something”, anything to catalyze their transformation from child to adult.

My encouragement to you dear pre-teen parent, let the awkwardness be.

Yes, let the pause grow in tension and wait. Our kids need to have the space to be awkward. Their personalities, values and beliefs will grow and expand and condense as they age, just like those size 11 shoes and braces they endure. School – peers and society all pressures us to move, to keep ourselves in action. Don’t stop, don’t rest… don’t wait, just act.

But what if we didn’t give in to that pressure to keep our pre-teens in motion.

What if we let them take some time to consider, to reflect and to grow. What if we didn’t push for them to be on the sixth grade soccer team, or travelling cheer squad ? What if we let them transition from the old to the new and in doing so, we gave them permission to explore – to discover.

brianvsmovies.blogspot.com

brianvsmovies.blogspot.com

What if we allowed them an awkward pause before they jumped into the frenzy of organized clubs and junior high academic awards.

I think it would be awesome.

I hope you will give it a try, pre-teens are being crushed by an average of eighty hours of media a week. They live juggled between intense school work and evolving peer pressure, adapting often at school (but not at home) to assume an identity that’s premature and forced.

Sometimes, being awkward and unsure is a good thing, it gives time for the “real” us to emerge and grow and strengthen. Parents can be an amazing support to an awkward pre-teen if we show the patience and foresight to help gently nudge them into the areas of life that truly interest them. But if we blow right through these years, checking off our lists and making sure “our” kids set the bar for others to follow… we may deeply regret the decision to push through instead of “backing off”.

Just a few thoughts to consider. My hope is to help, and every reader should…know that I didn’t get this issue right very often. So God taught me to pause. Learn from my mistakes 🙂

Peace and Grace, Pastor B.

PS – if you have a pre-teen, get yourself over to ishinelive.com

 

Storms in Spring

Every year we get hit.

Every three months we seem to get surprised by life… usually a major shift in the weather or the world around us that serves as a reminder of how fast things can and do change.

Each shock-wave life throws at us,  provides a chance to renew our perspective on life and living.  For those in middle America, the change from Winter into Spring is most turbulent. Moist warm air from the Gulf collides with the remnants of an Arctic air mass and WHOOMPH! We get tornado’s and straight-line winds strong enough to blow eighteen wheelers off the roads and house trailers off their foundations. Lightning over small town

Spring is beautiful and warm and full of new life, but it’s also often violent, traumatic and painful, without a safe place to go in the sure to come storm, you could be at risk for a tragic event.

I’ve watched each night this week as one tragic news flash after another has scrolled across the TV screen or interrupted my radio station… ‘Breaking News, Bombing in “…. “Breaking News, explosion…, terrorist attack, hundreds injured…” etc… the relentless pace of the tragedies we face… have many of us on edge.

It feels like our world is starting to unwind itself a bit, fraying at the edges of sanity and bending back upon itself like an out of control episode of “24” with the secret agent hero not quite getting to the bomb in time and tragedy strikes the innocent. The hero doesn’t win the day and it’s just all twisted up and wrong…

When surprises turn nasty… life feels like the story we hoped to live in has been changed on us, instead of the “good” guys winning the evil and twisted villain seems to be in charge! 

nationalgeographic.com

national geographic.com

As families of faith, we must remember that is NOT true. God is still in control, He is the author and finisher of all things and His will cannot be stopped regardless of how crazy our world becomes.

Our comfort is in something and someone greater than the US Government or a positive report from Fox or CNN News… we have a source of strength that comes from more than our emotional resilience, it has roots in the most powerful hope that mankind has ever witnessed.  Our faith has a rich history of God making good things out of bad and redeeming our past failures into future triumph. It’s the power of love un-restrained and its hopeful heartbeat is found in us, in those who follow and take the name of Christ for their own.

Spring is a turbulent season every year, but for those who know where their strength comes from… in the midst of tragedy can be found peace  no matter what’s going on outside our door. Our hearts are broken for the innocent lost and the senseless violence in our world, but in the end… as a Christian we have a way to find purpose and strength in the pain. Perspective that comes from knowing the King of Kings and faith in His ability to provide justice and meaning in all of the chaos around us.

Living our lives despite the dangers shows our kids… we are safe, secure, and together as a family. Our homes a reminder that we are all being held together in the midst of any storm, by a faithful God who cares for each of us deeply.

Psalm 107:28-31 (ESV) – source Biblegateway.com

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
29 He made the storm be still,
    and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad that the waters[c] were quiet,
    and he brought them to their desired haven.
31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!

pastor B.

Learning about Love… with CS Lewis – #1 “Affection”

Last night, I spent a great evening with a local teen – college group talking through a basic conversation on the first of four types of love. “Affection” or “Storge” in the Greek, is the initial love type discussed and reviewed by famous Christian Theologian CS Lewis in his classic book, ‘The Four Loves“.

If you’re a parent or step parent of a teen or pre-teen, taking the time to refresh yourself on the topic of love is a good idea, if you’re the parent of teen or pre-teen girls… it’s ESSENTIAL. Not because girls need to understand it more than boys, but they are definitely considering earlier and more seriously than their male counterparts.

Given the media soaked culture and moral ambivalence of our current social norms, talking about and understanding the nature of “Love” is a foundational truth that all families would do well to review together. Dads, you need to take the time to share at least the fundamentals of Love with your daughters and sons before someone else does.

Watching TV, reading books, thumbing through the latest fashion magazines etc… most pre-teens have formed a pretty good idea of what they believe love is or isn’t by the time they hit seventh grade. For young ladies, they probably have their weddings at least planned out except for the exact final identity of the groom, but the rest for sure is covered. Colors, flowers, dress style, decor, food, honeymoon etc… they have without question put thousands of hours into the careful consideration and preparation of their dream day.

But its clear that few of us have taken an hour to consider seriously the differences in the emotions we all feel in life, specifically how to discern between a healthy love and lust or  affection and this crazy idea of sacrificial love that Jesus keeps talking about. For those parents who are already backing away from this one, don’t. EVEN IF YOU HAVE A NO-DATING POLICY in your home, this is critical to pre-emptively discuss, review and confirm with your young adults.

Remember, the massive media machine we’re all connected to, is running 24/7/365 telling your kids all kinds of half-truths and lies about love, sex, lust, beauty and happiness all coming from being in the perfect relationship with the perfect man or woman. If you don’t step up  and really specifically challenge those assertions with real life biblically based truth and answers, they will by default leave your home trusting in the most fickle and dangerous of hormone infused rationales. Do we want our kids cruising through life believing that if they just find the elusive ” love feeling” with someone, they will be happy. As if this emotional rush was a way to have the most ultimate life fulfilling experience possible, as they have seen and believed their entire lives at the movies… and if unchallenged, they risk jumping into an adulthood of mis-understanding the ultimate nature of God, Love and the proper balance of both in our lives.

Why is that dangerous, isn’t Love the ultimate good for a Christian ?

CS Lewis is brilliant, yet stern in his warning of the danger of glorifying love to the position of being an ultimate” good, or essentially as equal to or greater than God himself. Remember the Apostle Paul’s words… “God is Love” ? The problem is when we in our simple nature reverse the order of the words and make “Love is God” in our lives. Not good. Really Not good when you think it through.

As parents…its crucial that we step back a bit from the relentless onslaught of confusion coming from our world and remember the basic truths of what we know about love. It’s so far from a simple emotional attraction or feeling, it’s a powerful and deep truth that has many facets and meanings attached. The Greeks were so expressive on the subject of love, they used four distinct words to describe its depth and breadth, but in our culture we use only one.

For the Christian, all four love expressions only begin to make sense when we consider them within the context of the life of Jesus Christ. Without that anchor to our souls and hearts and minds, we can get very,very confused, distracted and deceived into following something of love that is false and empty. How many millions of homes and marriages have been wrecked by the self- limiting understanding of Love to be a one-size fits all emotion ?… Parents, be careful, guard yourself from the temptation to live only by your wits and not by the words of God.

Not to mention the dangers to our kids.

Affection is described by some to be the fondness between a mother and child, the natural and instinctual love between us that we are all supposed to experience from birth, the comfort of knowing someone with great familiarity the grace to “love” your unlovely friends, to care for your puppy or cherish a favorite student. Affection is not proud or vain, it doesn’t seek to puff itself up or separate others. Its gentle and can be taken for granted, but it is the building block of our concept of Love. One can feel Affection for someone without the awkwardness of attraction or the need to share the same biological parents, it can be casual and common and for most of us, its certainly the most familiar.

For those who lack the simple presence of “Affection” in their lives often struggle with understanding the basic element of Love for their future relationships of a romantic nature, even harder… there is a huge struggle to grasp the basic love nature of God as our heavenly father. That He could be “Fond” of us, is a foreign concept because we never felt that from a parent or friend or colleague.

In God’s wisdom, He created the environment of the local community of faith to fill in those gaps for us. To repair our missing and un-healthy life experiences, including those of love. He made us to be in Christian fellowship to help in part to restore and heal those empty places in our hearts and for our kids he created first and foremost the family unit to be the incubator for a healthy love foundation to grow from. When we walk away from our local fellowship and or our families, we are setting ourselves up for a significant pattern of lost loves and mis-conceptions about God because we never get to the point of balance and wholeness in our understanding of Love, first with each other and then ultimately with God.

Sorry so long, but our topic is gigantic… meant to only scratch the proverbial surface, so the next RTP blog will continue this theme of the discussion on the four Loves, and we’ll jump into “Phileo'” or Brotherly love. It’s the second of the four we must know to begin to grasp the essential nature of our savior and His overwhelming expression of an ultimate and supernatural love to every man – woman and child on this planet.  Affection however, remains a great place to start the discussion with any child who is coming of age.

Peace and Grace to you as you like me…seek to keep your families in between the lines and on the road of life.

Brad.

Funerals and Family… living without regrets

My wifes grandmother passed away last saturday… after over eight decades of life, she was gone. “Great Mimi” was an amazing lady, a southern treasure who baked and sewed and lived as a kind and considerate great-grandmother whose generosity and love impacted hundreds and hundreds of lives… Mother of two, grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of six (including our three).

She was a simple lady, but rich in many other ways, rich in her faith, rich in her kindness and surrounded by love she was admired and beloved by her family,..and rightfully so. She lived a life that we all desperately hope to find, a life full of Grace and Peace and genuine Contentment.

My wife was deeply affected by her grandmother’s life and death. Her life-long attachment to her “Mimi” was strong, and her frequent times with her were deliberate and she consistently wrote, called and visited her every chance she had. She shared of the details of her life with her “Mimi” and constantly was sending school pictures, vacation cards and loving notes for decades. It was clear by the box of letters that we found after the funeral, that “Mimi” kept all of those love letters from my wife, those thoughtful memento’s were carefully kept and stored, treasured by them both all along the way.

Memphis TN was great “Mimi’s” home and regardless of the social, economic or racial changes in her city..she never left. In fact, she lived in the same home for over sixty years, despite the urgings of her family to move. She was independent, resourceful and thrifty.

Great “Mimi” was a sweet and gentle soul, she loved her family and she spoke her mind if it was needed. She believed in her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and she believed in her family. She rarely travelled and loved to stay at home and enjoy her modest and simple life.

Her life was a testament to another time, a time of faith and love and integrity. A time of living within your means and being content to do so. A life of hard work and simple pleasures…. a life I want my family to know. Thanks to my wife’s tenacious will, they did. We never ever failed to visit “Mimi” when in Memphis and my kids grew up knowing her and her amazing cookies, cake and food. She always forced us to eat and enjoy her latest creations in the kitchen. A terrible burden we all accepted willingly whenever we could 🙂

It took an investment of time for us to truly appreciate her and keep the relationship alive in our family, and for each of our busy trips to Memphis we always stopped by “Mimi’s” little house. With today’s intense over-scheduled lifestyles…Time is a commodity that many families don’t have or refuse to surrender to their families, and I believe risk reducing their generational heritage by doing so. My wife would not allow that to happen to her family, and in doing so exposed myself and our three children to the amazing grandmother she loved so much… and to her values and strength rooted in her days as hard-working sharecroppers daughter who never, ever complained or forgot how much she truly had.

Thank you “Great Mimi” for being the beautiful lady you were, and for sharing that peaceful and contented life with all of us. We will miss you. To find our more about Paige’s grandmother… click here.

Parents, my message today is simple…

                                                                    “Take the Time”.

Invest wisely in your families, your extended relationships are too valuable to take for granted, treasure those you have while you can, and expose your kids to the generation of our grandparents. It may never come again and their influence is badly needed in our homes today. Ask you kids to consider… what will their lives be like at the end of their time here on earth, will they be missed, will they be loved, will they have made a difference…?

What will their legacy be for their grandkids…?A good question for us all to take some time to consider. As we left the funeral services on monday, my wife whispered to me… I’m so glad I lived my life with my “Mimi”, I am so glad I was with her near the end…I love that we can take the time today to honor and remember her without regret.

Lets agree to seek together to strive to live out our lives with all of our families… Without Regrets.

Peace out,

brad.