Monthly Archives: August 2013

Five @ Free Flow Friday!

Not only is it FRIDAY!!!!!!!

And not only is it Friday of LABOR DAY WEEKEND!!!!!!

And not only is it Friday of the first weekend of COLLEGE FOOTBALL!!!!!!

It’s the first (and hopefully last!) Miley Cyrus Version of Five @ Free Flow Friday!!!!!!!!!

That’s right, folks. She’s been talked about all week long. Much has been written about this dear girl that my children still innocently listen to (thousands of times a week) sing “Hoe Down Throw Down.”

images

I came across some very interesting and helpful articles for us as we seek to dissect just what that was Sunday night. Though I did not watch, nor suggest that you do, I saw enough news coverage on TV screens at various airports the day after the VMA’s to be shocked that Hannah Montana was doing THAT.

So, I’ve put ’em all together below (that’s how we roll):

#1. I Weep for Miley by Trevin Wax

I weep for my five-year-old little girl, who twirls around like a princess and hugs me tight at night, when I think of the world she is growing up in, the world I will send her into.

I weep for the broken, messed-up world we live in.

#2. Sorry, Miley by Brandt Hansen

Kids don’t need more kids. They know plenty of them. Kids need adults, actual adults, adults adult enough to reject a culture that is so bored, so dead, that it can only feel alive if given one more jolt, one more shock. And it’s hard to shock, anymore, but Miley hit that mark.

#3. What Would Jesus Say to Miley Cyrus? by Garrett Kell

Jesus would have much to say to Miley Cyrus, and it would sound a lot like what He has to say to the rest of us. Let’s not harden our hearts to His voice, but rather, let’s follow the One who came to save sinners like us. Pray that Miley would as well.

#4. Lessons from the 2013 VMA’s . . . from ‘Learning My Lines’ Blog

I’ve been watching culture for several decades now. I more convinced than ever that it’s not ‘just music’ like so many think. It maps out life. Add to that the fact that there are now 24/7 delivery systems thanks to technology, and the ante is upped exponentially. The power of music and media to shape kids is even greater where the traditional socializing institutions of family, church, and school are no longer functioning with time, conviction, nurture, and clear ethical directives as they once did. What you saw on Sunday night was this generation’s philosophers, trend-setters, preachers, and educators. Think about this. . . most of the performers and presenters were extremely young. What they sing and how they live is evidence of how they have been shaped by those in the industry who exercised a nurturing presence in their lives as they were coming of age.

#5. This Ain’t Your Mama’s Broken Miley by Sarah Condon

The lyrics of her song ‘We Can’t Stop’ sound like some kind of a love ballad to booze-induced freedom, ‘It’s our party we can say what we want/It’s our party we can love who we want/We can kiss who we want/We can sing what we want.’ And yet, when we see Cyrus’s painfully broken self on stage, it is hard to believe that she’s doing what she wants at all.”

 

Advertisements

“Hey Dad, Let’s Talk about S. . .” Say What????

Help! My child just asked me what ‘sex’ means? What do I tell ‘em?images-1

I have an 8, a 6, and a 5-year-old living under my roof. Gratefully, as of this writing, neither of them have asked me what the ‘s’ word means. And I know they have had PLENTY of opportunities to hear it, or at least a reference to ‘s’ in some way.

Parents – we are absolutely CRAZY to think our children have zero opportunity to be around the concepts.

[Editor’s note: children who are locked in a room with no access to internet, TV, other kids, or the Bible are exempt from this post.]

Consider. . .

Ever watch a ballgame/round of golf/tennis match/car race of ANY kind at home on TV? Then your children have seen a commercial for this and this, and yes even this.

Ever told the biblical version of the Christmas story? Yeah, Mary was a virgin. What’s a virgin?

Ever let your child watch or listen to Miley Cyrus on Disney? Were they wondering what all the hype was about this past week? (I’ll be posting articles written about her tomorrow by the way.)

Ever watched the 5 o’clock news that ran a story on the legalization of homosexual marriage?

And don’t even get me started on all the previews for movies/shows that come on our ‘innocent’ TV screens while we’re trying to watch Duck Dynasty. Oh my.

It’s out there, mom and dad. And our children are exposed to it everywhere, on every side, whether we like it or not.

So, what do we do when they ask us what ‘sex’ is?

This question has entered my mind recently due to a sermon I plan to preach this Sunday from Psalm 51. It’s the first of a four-part series I am doing on how God grants us new life. The first sermon is about how God grants us new life sexually.

It will be totally clean and family friendly (as opposed to the series on Song of Solomon I plan to preach when I am 95). But I will probably use the ‘s’ word in the sermon. . . maybe twice. Heck, I used the ‘s’ word last week in a sermon and that wasn’t even the main subject!

But it has caused me to wonder, “What if Luke or Seth or Birti ask me Sunday afternoon what sex means?” Or, “What was it that David and Bathsheba did that was so bad, daddy?”

If so, I have several options:

  1. Tell them to go ask their momma.
  2. Tell them to leave me alone and go find a toy to play with outside.
  3. Tell them what God says in an age appropriate way.

Of course, option #3 is by far the best option. If one of them were to ask me (and I hope they ask ME – not their best friend sitting beside them at school on Monday morning!), here is what I (hope!) I would say:

[Editors note: I am still hoping that they won’t ask until they are 17 or 18, but just in case. . . ]

Well (Luke), that is a GREAT question. Sex is something that God created for mommies and daddies, who are married, to enjoy together. It is something that we will talk about more when you get a little older, but you need to know it is something God created only for mommies and daddies. Now, let’s go shoot something in the back yard.”

Notice what the focus is on: Sex is something GOD created for mommies and daddies. Why do I want to communicate that? Because with ALL the other influences (direct and indirect) they are bombarded with, I so desperately want them to know it was designed by a loving God. Notice also I want them to know there will be more discussion on this later, when I feel they are ready for more.  This will be just one in a series of conversations I have with him as he progresses into adulthood. 

Here’s the thing, parents: Like it or not, our children will be around sexual references. Some will disagree with me, but I believe it is ridiculous to think we can shelter them from it completely. As a parent, I want to be the one framing the conversation-not the kid in Luke’s class whose parents have no boundaries on what is seen on the internet.

I fear, with a real deep fear, that the only place our children aren’t hearing about sex is the church! Why don’t they hear about it at church? Because we wrongly think it is something we don’t need to talk about there!  But God created it! IT ISN’T SOMETHING THAT IS BAD!!!! The church has demonized what the culture has made bad and, therefore, doesn’t talk about it. SEX IS NOT BAD. Rather, SEX OUTSIDE THE BOUNDS OF WHAT GOD HAS ORDAINED IS. Sex is something that is good and right and beautifully created by God.

[See Thom Rainer’s article here. He calls the absence of this discussion the ‘Pink Elephant’ in churches.]

Think about it: where do you want your children to be influenced the most about the ‘s’ word: from the One who created it (using the Bible at church and home), or from a friend in the lunchroom who watched an ED commercial during a college football game over the weekend?

Mom and Dad, I hope your children don’t ask you about the ‘s’ word until the time is perfect. But if the topic comes up during an awkward moment (and I am 99.9% sure it will), be ready to point them to the truth of what God says. Remember, Jesus said when you (or your children) know the truth – they will be set free.

Oh God give us wisdom for the task.

 

Book recommendations for parents:

Preparing Your Daughter for Every Woman’s Battle  – Shannon Etheridge & Stephen Arterburn
Time For The Talk by Steve Zollos

 

Inspiration from IMB M’s

I have the honor and privilege of being able to serve as a trustee for THE greatest missions sending agency on the planet – the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

The trustees meet 4 times a year for 2 full days of meetings in strategic U.S. cities all over the country.

Beyond doubt, my FAVORITE part is when I get to listen to the M’s (missionaries) share their personal testimonies, call to missions, and prayer requests. I sit on the committee that appoints M’s headed to South Asia (think India – see ‘red’ area below). This means that those I listen to are being called to go to the hardest places in the world.

images

Hearing their conversion stories and calling to go nourishes and challenges my soul EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Yesterday, I got to hear from 5 different units of M’s being sent out. Below are some quotes I jotted due to the way they spoke to my heart. I trust they will do the same for you.

Enjoy. . .

“This is the Word of God. . .it knows me well.”

“I experienced the presence of God for the very first time at a worship service where other believers were authentically worshipping Him together.”

“I read the book of Acts and I had a longing to experience God like they did.”

“We chose India because we wanted to go where there was the greatest need.”

“I’m just an ordinary person. I am so excited that the Lord is willing to use me!”

“One of my fears is that my church here at home will forget about me.”

“The Father keeps reminding me, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!'”

“I cannot be disobedient to the calling God has placed on my life.”

“After I trusted Christ, I had an older guy disciple me that worked in the youth ministry.”

“God is not an American.”

“India got in my heart, and I will NEVER get over it.”

“I knew I couldn’t just ‘turn over a new leaf.’ I needed Him to change me.”

“We are taking our family to the area in India with the heaviest Muslim influence.”

“I just want to live a life that cannot be explained apart the hope that lives within me.”

Wisdom for Your Wednesday

Do you have anyone in your life who will speak truth to you no matter what?

Think about it: Wouldn’t you rather people tell you the truth, instead of just being nice to avoid a conflict? I mean, if I’ve got something dangling from my nose, or if my zipper is halfway down to my knees, or if there is toilet paper stuck to my shoe, I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT!

Unknown

Similarly, if something I did or said was wrong or crossed a line or wasn’t funny – and I am oblivious to it – I need to know. If there are behaviors that are negatively affecting important relationships in my life – and there are things I can do to improve them – I need to know. Hello? We ALL have blind spots in our lives. In other words, all of us have things in our lives needing work that we are blind to. The only way we can grow to be better is to see them and deal with them. Wise people strive to.

The author of Proverbs knows this. Consider:

In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery.” Proverbs 28:23

Translation: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Also, “Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe.Proverbs 28:26

Translation: Let others do unto you that you would like to do for them.

Bottom line: Wise people want honest criticism so they can grow; and to walk in wisdom means to not trust yourself, but getting honest feedback from others.

Ask the Lord to put someone in your life that can help you walk in wisdom.

Check that.

First ask the Lord to give you humility to receive the truth from a loving friend.

What’s at stake? Oh, just being the complete person that God made you to be. That’s all.

Now THAT’s a Good Question!

Last Monday – on the first day of school here in El Dorado – I posed this question:

How can I pray for my child’s school teacher?

An attempt to answer, with one specific request per day of the week, can be found here.

Now having one week down and a bunch to go, I have found myself wrestling with this question:

How can I pray for my child during the school year?

qRNAv0tPlximOrW0K5hFKYVYp5Xhtz9uejOpsC-t3zI

If there is one thing I have learned in the 8 years of being a parent, it is this: there are some things I have ZERO control over. (Okay, so I’ve also learned that I have NO IDEA what I am doing as a parent but . . .  I hate to admit it. But it’s true. . . Please don’t tell my kids.)

The main thing I cannot control is each of my children’s souls. I can affect them to a degree. I can (and am supposed to!) do all I can to train, equip, rebuke, encourage, teach etc. But at the end of the day, I cannot make my children have a heart for God. I cannot sprinkle some pixy dust on top of their heads prompting an immediate desire to walk in His ways.

But God can.

We established last week that they will spend AT LEAST 150 days, 7 hours a day, being influenced by others. Teachers. Administrators. Friends. Other girls. Other boys. Bullies. Lunchroom ladies. It’s a bit frightening when you start to think about it. At least it is for me. But – and this is so freeing – I believe God loves my children (yours too!) infinitely more than I do.

So, how can we pray for our children every day of the week during the school year?

Monday – Courage

At 8 am on Mondays they will walk into the classroom after having been around their parents and church friends the previous two days. Ask the Lord to give them courage to do and say and act according to what is right and true and good. Ask Him to give them courage to do their best and work hard and be who He made them to be. Pray that they would have the courage to talk to you and tell the truth and come home eager to share what’s on their hearts.

Tuesday – Development

One of the main reasons they are in school is to develop academically. Pray to that end. Why? Because the more our children learn to read and develop and are able to put concepts together – the better they will be able to understand the Bible. The more they develop mentally and academically, the more they can process the deep things of God in their minds and hearts. Knowing God is the beginning of wisdom.

Wednesday – Joy

I love hump day, and I hate hump day. Why? Monday and Tuesday are gone and Friday is on the horizon. But MAN is it hard to wake my kids up on Wednesday! And usually – if you are a church person – Wednesdays are hard and very long. Pray for a spirit of joy in your house and in your heart and in the heart of your child. Ask God to help you provide an atmosphere of joy at home so they will go to school and church with joy in their hearts, rather than being rushed out of the car being yelled at (not that I would EVER do that!).

Thursday – Senses

Our children will see and hear things that we would probably be better off not knowing. It gives me the willies to think about. A lot of ‘stuff’ they bring home, I can help them process through a biblical lens. But I am sure there is also a lot of stuff I have no idea about. Ask God to help your child know those things that are right and good, as well as those things that are wrong and evil. Ask God to give them a fear of evil. Ask God to give them a holy filter. Ask God to help them forget and remove those things from their hearts that are damaging to their souls. Ask Him to protect them from the evil one. Pray that God would grant your children friends who encourage and challenge them spiritually, AND friends that need spiritual encouragement. Our children really need to know and see and hear the difference.

Friday – Recharge 

Who doesn’t love Fridays? Thank God for Fridays. Seriously, do it. Let your children know how glad you are that they don’t have to go back for TWO MORE WHOLE DAYS! Ask the Lord to help them enjoy the last weekday at school. Ask the Lord to help their little hearts recharge on Saturday and Sunday. Recharge at home with your influence and recharge on Sunday by having their minds and hearts fed with God and His Word. Ask the Lord to use the weekend to grow them and prepare them – not only for the upcoming Monday – but for the rest of their lives.

Is there A LOT more to pray for? Sure there is. Make the above suggestion(s) into your own weekday prayer thingy. Whatever you do, however, don’t forget to ask the Lord of their souls to help them in these (and other areas) and to bring them to saving faith soon and very soon. Ultimately, we parents desperately need the Father to rush over them with a heart for Him. May it be.

Five @ Free Flow Friday!

The 2013 – 2014 school year is officially in full gear.

Though I have been out of grade school now for 18 years (whoah – that means I have been out of grade school longer than I was in it . . . seriously?), I still love it when the clock strikes 3 pm on Fridays during the school year. Don’t you?

Unknown

The weekend is here. It’s Friday.

So, for your reading pleasure – below are 5 articles I came across this week that I hope in some way adds value to your life.

#1. iPhone, IPads, and Christian Parenting by Russell Moore

Don’t get me wrong. I think the digital revolution is largely a good thing, and I think children need to be raised up to use technology as a gift for dominion. But there’s too much at stake to turn a child loose, with no boundaries, with a technology that could psychically cripple him or her (and his or her future family), for a lifetime and thereafter.”

What do you think? Is Moore right? Share your thoughts below.

 

#2. How I Turned My iPhone into a Simple, Distraction-Free Device by Jake Knapp

iPhones and Androids are wonderful. They’re amazing. It’s infinite information in the palm of your hand! But here’s the thing: I don’t have what you’d call the world’s greatest attention span. It’s taking everything I’ve got right now to keep typing this and not flip open a new tab and check my email. Having the ability to check email–and a bajillion other things–any time at all, not just when I’m sitting at a computer looking at a web browser… I started to suspect it was not such a great thing for me.

Interesting. Anybody out there willing to try it for 5 days? Let me know how it goes. 

 

#3. Why Christians Should Let Non-Christians Off the Moral Hook by Carey Nieuwholf

It’s difficult for a non-Christian to be a hypocrite, because they tend to live out what they believe. Chances are they are better at living out their values than you or I are. Jesus never blamed pagans for acting like pagans. But he did speak out against religious people for acting hypocritically.

What do you think? Agree? Are we guilty of wanting lost people to act like saved people?

 

#4. The Number One Reason for the Decline in Church Attendance by Thom Rainer

If the frequency of attendance changes, then attendance will respond accordingly. . . Did you catch that? No members left the church. Everyone is still relatively active in the church. . . This phenomenon can take place rather quickly in an individual church. And leaders in the church are often left scratching their heads because the behavioral change is so slight, almost imperceptible. We really don’t notice when someone who attends four times a month begins to attend only three times a month. Nor do we typically catch it when the twice-a-month attendee becomes a once-a-month attendee.”

Okay. . . GO! What’s your opinion of Rainer’s post?

 

#5. 14 Ways to Affair Proof Your Marriage by Brett and Kate McKay

Another way cheating makes your life harder is having to deal with the consequences when you’re finally caught. Imagine having to face your children and tell them you haven’t been completely faithful to their mother. Imagine the look of hurt and sadness you’ll see in the eyes of the woman you told you would love forever.

Making your marriage affair proof requires a large investment of time and emotional capital. But the investment is well worth it. Set high standards for your marriage and for yourself. Man up and you’ll never stray.

I love that last phrase: “Man up and you’ll never stray.” I think Paul had something to say similar to that didn’t he?

Wisdom for Your Wednesday

Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5

Planning is good and right.

images

 

No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand agains the LORD.” Proverbs 21:30

Plans go only according to the LORD’s sovereign will and purposes.

 

The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.” Proverbs 21:31

Plans don’t guarantee success.

 

How, then, should a wise person plan?

A wise person diligently plans for things to come – whether it be preparing for a sermon, a lesson plan, a meeting, or a grocery list. But he/she knows and trusts and is open to the reality that God may sovereignly and lovingly change those plans. And, at the end of the day, when the sermon is preached, the lesson taught, the meeting successful, and the groceries put away – the wise person knows it was all accomplished by the mighty and gracious hand of God.

There’s tension in biblically wise planning.

Andy Stanley was wise to say, “Pay attention to the tension.”