Roadtrip Reality-Check

Looking back at the past few years, it seems each summer has become a bit of a blur.
I find myself extensively travelling. Usually gone five or six weeks out of eight each summer. This year is no exception. As I get older… the thrill wears a bit thinner, and the risks and struggles seem to grow. I miss my familiar comfy bed and family more and sooner than ever before…I miss my parish and the lives of those I serve with. I find myself longing for the green hills of TN and the smiles and hugs of my comrades at Four Winds. Travel is awesome… for a week… and then it get’s old.
I know, I’m supposed to be the ultimate RoadTrip enthusiast, but I have my limits. This summer I’m finding myself feeling more and more weary… and so with the steepest hill still ahead, I’m asking for your help. Call it the Road Trip reality check if you will…
The process of Road Tripping is awesome for sure… the discovery of new sites and experiences, the joy of travel and adventure… the thrill of being with a group. But it is also incredibly chaotic, stressful, and always includes the unexpected developments of life on the road.
As a pastor, parent, and media exec… it’s a stretch to keep everything in balance during my absence. By God’s grace… so far so good. But I don’t want to assume anything this year. With the crazy events of the past few weeks and months, I am asking for your help, for your prayers… for protection and spiritual support as we go.

 

Summer 16' S&AShow CastCrewpic - Copy (2)

Summer 16′ Shock and Awe Show Cast and Crew!

Grateful to my wife, my church family, and my co-workers for their patience and support and for carrying the extra load in my absence. (not something I ever want to take for granted, the heroic service of folks like; Kevin Herrick, Shane Tucker, Anne Whitehouse Ciccoline, Mimi, and the entire 4W congregation), all of these amazing friends and family chip in to make a summer like this possible. I am incredibly thankful and dependent on them. They always step up faithfully, making huge sacrifices of time and energy to ensure our church family at Four Winds is well cared for. Without this community of faith… I would be lost.

This year will feature our longest trip yet. 20 days across the Northern USA, Pacific Northwest and Western Canada, and back to Nashville.
Please consider making the extra effort to cover our little band in prayer. We will be traveling with a dedicated, but small group of high-school/college age artists, crew, and staff as we criss-cross the Creation Festival circuit. 7-10 people all crammed into a rental SUV for thousands of miles. Facing an infinite number of potential risks, we need prayers for safety, unity, good weather, health, border crossings, functional gear and for stamina as we put in over 7,500 miles together… in very tight quarters. (it might surprise you to know… after 12 hours in a car…people can get a bit cranky, and crazy  :crazy pose - yellowstone '15 roadtrip
We’ll be repeatedly; loading, unloading, setting up & tearing down, and then rehearsing, sound-checking, and then presenting our six hour, 3 day… “Shock and Awe Show”. Living out of suitcases and sleeping in random hotels… each time we perform, mentally pushing aside our fears, fatigue, frustrations, and every-day life distractions…straining to give the best possible effort and all of it is done live.
We’ll be doing radio and TV interviews, sight-seeing, and recording our own video at some of the most beautiful places in the world. All of it in response to a desire to change the world one tween at a time. We’ll be capturing new video for the Shock and Awe pre-teen curriculum and gathering artist footage for season six of the iShine KNECT TV series.
Whenever we go out like this we always feel the increased spiritual oppression that comes with the territory. Your prayers are GREATLY appreciated. I promise to take lots of pics and to post them whenever possible.
Pray… for us by name, for the Rubyz girls (Tanner, Jessica, and Addy), for Alexis Slifer… for Tyler Hardin, for Caleb Mathias, and their parents.Pray for Tom Coverly (illusionist and host of our show) for our partners, artist’s and friends;  Abigail Duhon1GN and TJ Prodigy, for their families… for the staff of iShine (Mimi and Robert Beeson) for the Creation Fest teams at SonShine and North West festivals… for the gospel seeds of Christ to find open hearts and fertile ground to grow.
We are trusting God to work in and through us, and believing that His strength will be made perfect in our weakness. We are asking for hearts to be changed, for lives to be saved and for the future of our nation to be re-directed by a new generation of faith filled tweens and teens. We’re also expecting to see God reveal Himself to and in each of us in totally unique and unprecedented ways.
So please make the commitment to pray for us… and Lord willing, we’ll see you on the other side, with testimonies of God’s faithfulness and lifelong memories to share.
Thank you.
Pastor Brad…
#CreationFest16
#iShineontheRoad
#theRubyz
#iShinelive
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birds and bees…for tweens

newsweek image

blog.sfgate.com – source

I’ve been preparing for the fall youth retreat at our church…. our theme is “Does my faith fit me?” a series of talks about “emotions” and how they impact our lives. Of the four sessions planned, mine is the talk on sexuality and love. 🙂

Considering the massive impact sexuality has on society, it’s a major topic to cover in a few minutes. Add to that the awkward stage every tween lives in… and I’ve got my work cut out for me. So… “Talking “Turkey with your tween” is a moment of reflection that every parent will face eventually. What do you tell your tween about sex? How do you handle the struggle with hormones, faith, and sexual identity?

Below are thoughts from my talk notes… hope they help.

Pastor Brad.

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SEX ...

SEXUAL

SEXUALITY...

Three potentially awkward – embarrassing topics.

Each distinct but related, and representing 3 huge issues that all of us have to consider, respond to, and decide what they will mean to us as an individual and as families of faith.

1) SEX – the physical act. The joining of a man and woman in an intimate and sacred act of both pleasure and procreation. Designed and encouraged by God, SEX is the ultimate sharing of 2 separate lives as they become one. It’s where babies come from 🙂  Reserved for the covenant of marriage, SEX is a pure act intended to symbolize the union of heart and soul… with the body. A beautiful and divinely inspired celebration of love.

2) SEXUAL – part of our hormonal status quo – it reflects the human nature of each of us. We have surges in our bodies during the stage of adolescence. From 12-20 young men have incredible spikes in testosterone as they grow. Young women begin to feel the effects of hormones in other ways, experiencing the changes to their uterus and physical bodies that prepares them to have children.

Each of you (boy / girl ) are undergoing distinct changes in your bodies as a normal response to the flood of hormones inside you. These undeniable changes are responsible for raising your awareness to see each other as more than friends, but possibly as a future husband or wife. The sexual drive for men is physical (Eros)- the drive for women (Phileo – Storge) to be wanted – desired – protected, to belong and to be safe – comfortable. Surprisingly power feelings and emotions, new desires never before present, a confusing and exciting time of life for sure. But it’s all normal – healthy and designed by God! So much so that we create music, movies, videos and social media to try to capture all we feel… books are written, poems composed and careers decided all by these powerful ‘feeling’s.

The Greeks had four words to describe what we call love, Eros, (romantic love, physical lust), Phileo,(comfortable, fondness, friendship), Storge (family loyalty)and Agape (unconditional love).

Eros– love felt particularly within the body (trembling excitement, elation, joy), colored and underpinned by deep and beautiful procreative urges. C.S. Lewis distinguishes Eros from natural sexual urges and lusts, because Eros is a state of the heart and while it is intimately related to sex, sex can exist, and often does exist, without Eros enlivening it. It leads to children, family, joy and laughter. It is good and right, but it is usually not enough to sustain a relationship long-term. Eros is an exulted and beautifully idealistic love, usually between a man and woman, but can also be “platonic” and extend to deeply intimate friendship. While Eros can simply be an earthy thing, when Spirit infused and elevated to it’s true position, it speaks deeply of universal mysteries, keenly expressed within the most sacred of all relationships, that between husband and wife. The elevated buzz of Erotic love is said to naturally fade within a year of its beginning.

Phileo If Eros is the love of the body, Phileo is the love of the soul. It is easy love and affection, it is bent towards our natural tastes and preferences (familiar and comfortable). It embodies culture and beliefs. It’s about the friendship you feel towards people like you, with the same interests, social graces, and style. God is said to have this kind of love for us and Jesus. Jesus felt this kind of love for his disciples, parents felt it about their children and children to their parents. It is not a shallow love, but rich in emotion and feeling. However it is also described as natural and exclusive and conditional. Also known as “brotherly” love as in “Philadelphia” – City of Brotherly Love. (Phileo derivative)

Agape-Is more of a parental, mature, sacrificial kind of love. Greek references describe it like this… “to take pleasure in the thing, prize it above all other things, be unwilling to abandon it or do without it.” In a way it is as idealistic as Eros, in that it is a crazy love that will not let go. Agape loves, usually at cost to the bearer. Agape puts the beloved first and sacrifices pride, self-interest and possessions for the sake of that beloved. This is the love that God has for us which inspired him to sacrifice His son and for His son to obey and sacrifice himself. It is a love of supreme greatness. It is supernatural and divine – the glue that holds all other loves together!

Storge– This is the love of community and family. Often dutiful, sometimes unfeeling, but very strong none the less. It is a natural, carnal love, but powerful and committed. It is a love that may pull you towards family commitments, or keep you from wandering far from home as you get older!

All of these ‘feeling’s are distinct and powerful, capable of driving us to do goofy and silly things. From planning our ultimate fantasy wedding down to the smallest detail to thinking about how much we can’t live without another. The pull of sex and love is one of the strongest challenges to being a Tween.

The bible give us so much to consider about love and suggests that what we feel is not as important as how we choose to behave. God sets healthy boundaries to our sexual feelings that include abstaining from sex and restricting ourselves from exploring our sexual urges outside the commitment of marriage. A difficult task given the all pervasive images and opportunity for porn and seductive media that floods the digital age.

Only with the power of the Holy Spirit and healthy boundaries can we navigate the roller coaster of emotions that lift and lower us in adolescence.

My advice to the Christian tween-teen… seek out good friendships, avoid the bad ones. Hang with peers who respect their faith and God’s ways. Live in the open… don’t hide your struggles and have the courage to go and seek help from a pastor or parent if you find yourself in temptation.

3) SEXUALITY: the natural distinction between male / female. It is not as simple as masculine and feminine – however it can be for the vast majority. Over 90% of us when asked would identify with either man / woman in our identities, sexual orientation and attraction towards the opposite. Sexuality is fiercely debated today. The 5-8% who claim to be attracted to same-sex relationships or have gender identity confusion are often struggling with instability in their families, homes and or parental role models.

There is a very small percentage who don’t know who they are (male /female) and are desperately seeking to discover which role would fit-them ‘best’. These lost and lonely are searching for a societal niche to belong to. The need to escape what they perceive to be traditional family exile, they often choose alternative relationships where acceptance is offered without any judgement or condemnation.

It’s no wonder that more and more Tweens – teens are seeking answers outside of the traditional Christian view of sexuality.

It is easy to see the appeal alternative sexual orientation offers to the awkward and uncertain among us. For the Christian family, we should respond with compassion and gentleness – recognizing the need we all have to be a part of something / someone who will “love” us for who we are. It’s one of the reasons I believe Christ provides our culture with an answer to every dilemma we could face, including sexuality. Christ is ultimately the ONLY one who can meet the longing of every human soul. Another_World_Desktop (1)

Encouraging our kids to find their identities and orientation from an intimate relationship with the one who created them is a far better approach than forcing our kids to accept our beliefs without question…we’re teaching them to bury their feelings….and that creates ‘secrecy’ and shame. It allows for other secular voices to speak to our kids hearts when we’re not around. Not a good thing.

From the biblical perspective… in the end, Sexuality is the divine distinction.

It’s a sacred gift and a powerful illustration of what God intends for creation. Our culture has drifted far from the original intent of a loving father for his children. Our standing firm on the biblical mandate is only part of the parenting equation. The other part is to create a healthy and open environment for our kids to discuss and process their personal feelings and beliefs. If we think it through, it’s clear… we can only lead our kids to the savior, we can’t offset the combined impact of mass media, pop culture and trending styles with our dogmatic logical debates. It’s about the heart… and the longing of  our souls.

Authors closing note: To be clear… I’m not pushing these sexuality issues aside as irrelevant to Christians or acceptable to God. Choices matter. Actions define us. As a pastor and a parent, I am very firm on the need for us to respect scripture as authority in these matters. However, it’s not enough to declare the facts.. we’ve got to let complicated lives get untangled in the purity and power of God’s presence. We’re responsible to share the truth in love… to be patient as God does His mysterious work in the souls of those who genuinely seek to know Him. Let’s be sure to cultivate the respect and space our tweens will need to mature, process, and become all that God intended. We’re in a post-Christian world now… and we’re going to have trust God’s truth will outshine the lies.

 

 

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

Surviving the “frightening 14’s”

Raising a fourteen year old  can be a “Frightening” experience to say the least…  researchers, psychologists, physicians and educators will all tell you, the transition from 13-14  is often one of the most turbulent periods of any kids life. But, I’m happy to say…you don’t have to buy a tazer or equip their rooms with  padded walls & a matching straightjacket to survive it 🙂

I’m not going to delve into the piles of research and social studies that point to the powerful and often negative influences impacting our kids today in this blog, but feel free to google it for yourself. Fascinating stuff for sure. If you’re a Family of faith and have a desire to not only survive this milestone age, but embrace it… I can only share of my own personal parenting experience and encourage you to stay the course your on. It’s well worth the cost of a few sleepless nights and frequent adrenaline surges your sure to enjoy along the way. 🙂

I promise.

Bottom line is this, an average 14-year-old is in a temporary life crisis. They have just survived their junior high years and it’s accompanying early insecurities and hormonal eruptions… they move quickly into the deeply cynical and insane social pressures of a modern High School social structure. Those forces are relentlessly demanding and our kids become desperate to assume and protect some kind of  an acceptable identity for themselves or face the risk of being consumed alive. Add to that the pressures and fears that many Christian parents start to exert over these same 14 year olds and you can begin to appreciate the Chernobyl like pressures building inside of their hearts and minds. No wonder they are looking to just hide, escape…withdraw. The wisest man who ever lived (Solomon) had trouble with 14, he said it like this…

Proverbs 30: 18-19 (Msg) “Three things amaze me,
no, four things I’ll never understand—
how an eagle flies so high in the sky,
how a snake glides over a rock,
how a ship navigates the ocean,
why adolescents act the way they do

So don’t panic if they quit making sense… they very well may pull back from wanting anything to do with Church, avoid life-long friendships, ignore favorite hobbies, fade or jump radically in their interest in sports or social activities, isolate from family and for sure criticize the values and principles that you and I so deeply cherish… like Respect, Trust and Honesty. Sound familiar?

image – courtesy of armadamusic.com

Parenting during this stage of frightening 14 can be very intense and even dangerous if not monitored well. Occasionally it can involve significant depression, cutting or rapid changes in eating habits… (if so, get professional help) but overall it’s un-avoidable! Our kids are going through the emotional and spiritual growth pains internally that their bodies are so obviously exhibiting externally. No surprise that they can be moody, irritable, un-predictable and insecure. Often alternating between hyper-activity and almost comatose like living, shifting their emotional gears as fast as their text messages are sent and received. Their behaviors can move from erratic to extreme and back to apathy in an hour.

You may engage a 14-year-old in a conversation at 9am that seems completely ‘grown up” and responsible, with the illusion that your teen is finally “getting it” and acting like a proper and well-adjusted young man or woman should. Mere hours later it’s not uncommon to experience the full tempest of their instantaneous toddler’s temper tantrum when they arrive home from school and you casually decline their request to meet some friends at the movies…  it’s enough to make you scratch you head and wonder which of you might need to be committed?

14 year olds are cycling through their past-present and future personalities, opinions, ideas, values, beliefs and identities as quickly as most of us flip the channels on our satellite dishes. If we allow ourselves to live from a place of fear and “reaction” to their often ridiculous behaviors and forget to maintain the perspectives of an adult in the moment… we can find ourselves in deep deep water very fast.

Here are six principles that I’ve found to be helpful with parenting a 14 year old…

1- This too shall pass (but it may require you to be un-popular for a time)

2- Maintain the healthy atmosphere of your home. The course (rules, beliefs and values) you’ve charted for your home doesn’t need to be re-directed just because it’s being challenged by the mind-bending logic that only a 14-year-old can contrive or understand.

3- Hold them accountable…Stay consistent, NO MATTER WHAT. If you believe in grounding, or removing “distracting” electronic items or privileges from their inventory of life stuff, then stick with it. Be consistent above all else.

4- Don’t loose your cool. If you do, own it… apologize and then re-establish the rules regardless of their taunts or efforts to undermine your authority to enforce it.

5- Don’t do this alone. Engage your community of faith, friends, family and focus your full spiritual activities as needed, into understanding the issues deep in the heart of your child’s behaviors… Dont’ assume you can project from your own past teen experiences as a an accurate “insight” into their current situation. Pray and ask God to reveal the underlying stuff so it can be resolved.  

6- Don’t let them date. It’s too early 🙂

In the end… I believe 14 year olds just really, desperately want and need to know that you truly LOVE them. They want to be reined in, held to the rules, given safe boundaries and generally protected from themselves. They just don’t know it yet !

In my experience…by the time they hit sixteen, they will begin to reflect back and understand better the significant level of commitment and love you’ve shown to them as parents. By holding to your principles as pre-teens and 14 year olds… your efforts very well may have won the cultural battle for their hearts.

courtesy of mixedplateblog.com

They may not agree with all you believe yet, but their level of respect and trust will be established deep enough for them to grow from and the future family dynamic will hold more peace and reconciliation than pain and separation.  Of course there are exceptions to these principles, and some kids with abusive backgrounds, clinical depression and destructive behaviors may well need to see a counselor or physician to navigate this stage safely. If you have a serious concern, see your local pastor, priest or family doctor to sort those details out further.

Peace out to my dear fellow courageous travellers on the roadway of teen family life… it’s so totally worth it!

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.

Parenting with Jesus…

So let’s go ahead and skip the Sunday school lesson, today we’re
talking about more than simply name dropping at expected times and places, this
is serious. For Christians, seeking to live as parents requires a supernatural
and un-exhaustible source of love, wisdom and grace. We all recognize our
inability to understand and solve every problem our kids experience, and to try
to do so on our own would put us in mental lock down for weeks.

Over the weekend, we hosted our youth group for some hang time to
start off the summer break. We listened and talked and shared what God had put
on our heart for the year, but mostly we asked questions and listened to the
responses. It was telling. Kids are sensing all of the challenges of life much
earlier than we had to, they are aware for the most part about the need to
“Hear from God” for themselves and for the shallowness of petty
theological turf wars in the church. They acknowledge their frustration with
the inconsistencies of youth leaders, and pastors and teachers and parents, but
most of all they realized they didn’t know exactly who or what to do with Jesus?

Every one of these kids had prayed the prayer, they had done a
youth camp or missions trip, they knew the bible well enough to speak the
language of a Christian and to even spend time with God on a regular
basis…but they struggled to define their relationship with Him. Jesus was a
mish-mash of traditional concept and stereotypes, mixed in with a bit of
current pop culture, and Jesus emerges in our kids’ lives as an icon of the
past with little personal interaction or tangible reality.

Sound familiar?

When it’s all said and done, it’s possible the single greatest
contribution any of us can give to our kids is a solid understanding of who
Jesus Christ is, and what He offers for us to experience with Him over the
course of our lifetime. The other stuff is great, it’s important and it will
serve our kids well to learn to balance their checkbooks, act with integrity,
love with wisdom etc… but if they grow up with a scattered and undefined
grasp of who our savior is. We may be missing the parenting point all together.

Ask your kids… “Who is Jesus?” This simple
question is upon a bit of reflection actually quite profound, inexhaustible really.

Without Jesus in our parenting, we’re kinda of asking our kids to
follow Christianity, burdened upon our own weak and vulnerable examples of
faith. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to do that.

Ask them.

It may be the single greatest parenting choice you can ever make.
Be prepared to struggle a bit yourself as you seek to define the relationship
you have with Jesus. Who is He? What did he actually do for you, for our kids,
for mankind? What has He asked of us? Where is He now? Why didn’t He fix
everything… or did He? Why can’t we see or hear Him… or can we? How can so
many people claim to know Him and yet act as if He never existed?

Taking the time will be a struggle, a valiant one, worthy of every parent’s
full attention and focus. At the heart of the bible, the very pulsing center of
all its teaching, its truth and its power lies one undeniable theme. Jesus
Christ. When our understanding of Christianity and faith and discipleship and
mentoring and life drift away from the central truth of our existence… what
do we really have to offer our kids?

“Lord, help us to grasp the essentials of our faith. Help us
to communicate the truth of our relationship with your only son and our savior
to our kids… strengthen us with your word and flood us with wisdom this day.
In Jesus name we pray, Amen”.

Peace out.

brad