Thursday, February 13, 2014

Dwarves, Elves and Magic Scimitars

At an early age I dual wielded-magical swords and struck down countless foes. Starting out, I didn't venture far from home; I kept post pretty close to my house. The call for adventure couldn't remain subdued forever and eventually I trekked further and further away. I would spend hours on end swinging my mighty weapons chopping down goblins, ghouls and ferocious monsters. There wasn't anything that could stand in my way of adventuring glory and valuable treasure. . . until my mom took my magical swords away.

The real scenario goes like this:

1) My magical scimitars were two sticks I found in my back yard.
2) The monsters where dandelions that I chopped down.
3) Chopping down the dandelions over time caused the seeds to spread throughout the neighborhood, causing them to multiply exponentially like some sort of hydra.
4) My neighbors complained to my mom that I caused a widespread dandelion infestation.
5) My mom prevented me from chopping down dandelions bringing peace to the neighborhood.

Morality is a tricky topic. Some think things can be right for some people and wrong for others. If something makes you happy, then you should do it with the caveat that it doesn't negatively effect someone else. The problem with this view is that there is nothing we can do that can guarantee no adverse effects. Think about it. Stealing hurts the victim yet helps the offender. Killing ends a life but has the possibility of ending an oppressive regime or abusive relationship.

When morality is justified on an individual basis the obscure lines of right and wrong create chaos and an unsustainable system. People often criticize religious systems as being oppressive but they bring stability and order; something that is essential for society to function.

My days of swinging scimitars are over. What brought me great pleasure and joy caused frustration to everyone else. At the end of the day the reigning rule was that I must listen to my parents. Case closed, no arguments, problem solved.

What do you think? Can society function safely in moral obscurity? If so, how do we discern which people deserve to be protected and whose rights need to be upheld?

Have a great Thursday!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Starting February 26th:
We are starting a series called Flipped. Below you can find out what we will cover following our Wednesday evening break on February 19th.

We’re Teaching This:
Have you ever had a moment that made you stop and think, "Wow, this changes everything"? Maybe it was finding out you didn’t make the team or that your parents were splitting. Maybe it was finding out you're good at something or bad at something you didn't expect. In these moments our lives change direction quickly. The funny thing is nearly everyone who met Jesus had one of those moments. They came in with a plan, a direction, an identity. And as soon as they spent any time with Jesus, those ideas were turned upside down. And, as we look at four of these stories, we find that an encounter with Jesus has the power to flip our lives as well.

Think About This:
I think most people would agree that one of the more terrifying parts of parenting teenagers is the risk factor. They grow up and the stakes are raised. Their freedom increases but so does the potential fallout from bad choices. Parents are regularly faced with decisions on when to allow their students to forge their freedom and when not to. Unfortunately, we can tend to be overprotective in situations that they may not really need our protection from—and in the name of safety we may be inhibiting them in a way we never intended.

In his blog post, How to Help Your Kids, Live Out Their Story, author, speaker, and dad, Carey Nieuwhoff explains the benefits of letting go of control and trusting God with their story.

My grandfather and grandmother did something amazing. They let my dad live his story, not theirs. They gave up control, protection, and let God write a story in my dad’s life that was independent of their own.

My dad is one of my heroes. He actually did build a new life (in another country), not just for him, but for many others. He was not only a great father, but he ran a company for years, served his entire life in the local church and has left a great legacy of character for his kids and grandkids.
I’m so glad my grandparents swallowed hard and let their son pursue his vision. So, now the question.   
Would you?
In an era of overprotective, slightly controlling parenting, I wonder how many stories like my dad’s aren’t being written. Not because kids aren’t ready to write a story of their own choosing, but because parents are too afraid or unwilling to let them go or take risks.
Great plot lines invite things like drama, risk, mission, and calling. All the things that make parents gulp (and gasp).

And by the way, my dad did see his parents again. He eventually had enough money to go back more than a few times. I even went to Holland with my dad to meet them before they passed away.
As you think about how you might help your kids connect with their own story, here are three things to remember:
1.     Prepare yourself now to release them one day.
2.     Understand that God has your kids on a journey from dependence to independence.
3.     Let them lead (without rescuing them) today to prepare them for tomorrow.
Is there anything you need to let go of today to help create a better future for your child?

From How to Help Your Kids Live Out Their Story,

Try This
Sometimes the best two words you can hear are “me too”. No matter what situation you’re in with your teenager, chances are someone around you is in the same place and asking the same questions. Do you know who those people are? Are there other parents that you can connect with on a regular basis in your community?

This month try taking two steps toward connecting with other parents around you.

1.     Find Them. If you’re not sure where to find other parents like you, start by asking the student pastor at your church (or where your teen attends). They can direct you to small groups or environments where you can meet other parents just like you.

2.     Talk to them. Sometimes starting a conversation with someone new can feel awkward. If you’re unsure what to talk about, start with this parentCUE. Say something like, “Hey, did you get that article in the parentCUE? What did you think about it?”  Knowing you already have something in common can open the door to more conversation. If not that, try opening up first. Vulnerability breeds vulnerability. So think of some of things you may have a hard time with when it comes to your student’s independence. And then share it. You may be surprised at what someone shares with you in return.

Get connected to a wider community of parents at