Archive for January, 2012

Asking the Experts: Part I

Posted: January 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

Yesterday evening a father of teens shared a great parenting tip with me. It got me thinking – What are some of the best tips (big or small) for parenting/shepherding teens you have received or learned along the way?

I have a dream…

Posted: January 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

Many have spoken or written more eloquently than I can about Martin Luther King.  I’m not going to try.  But I have a few thoughts for reflection:

Martin Luther King wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail of a time when the church was not merely a thermometer taking the temperature of the culture, but a thermostat directing it.   Can we/should we seek to be that once again?  How would that begin to happen?

Martin Luther King spoke in a 1957 Christmas Sermon about the necessity of light to drive out darkness, of love to drive out hate.  Are we guilty of wasting our light?  Are you teaching the young people around you to waste their light….or to hunt darkness and hate?

Martin Luther King spoke of having a dream where our children would be judged not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.  My perception is that while older leaders seek to teach and exploit new mores of racism,  many among younger Americans  no longer even see the color of another’s skin. But the second part of his dream is forgotten (by more than today’s Google icon).  Character?  What is that?  Does it really matter if a person gets their job done?   Revisiting MLK’s dream, how are you learning the first and teaching the second to a younger generation?

What about the difference of a life of one person with a dream?

Are you dreaming?  What do you do to help you have space/time/place to dream?  What is the inspiration and fuel for you?

Who are you dreaming with?  Who are you teaching to dream?

The Mighty Achievatron

Posted: January 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

David Brooks actually coined this term to talk about the professionalization of childhood. “From the earliest years, an alliance of parents and schools creates a pressure cooker of competition, designed to produce students who excel in everything. Brooks call this ‘a massive organic apparatus….a mighty Achievatron.’ The family is no longer what Christopher Lasch once called a “haven in a heartless world,’ a counterbalance to the dog-eat-dog areas of life. Instead the family has become the nursery where the craving for success is first cultivated.” (This quote is from a great little book called Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller)

Do you see this as true? Have you been a victim…or an unintending accomplice…to the Mighty Achievatron?

My family has been a part of a number of school systems. I grew up in academia. We have homeschooled, we have been in two public school systems, we have participated in some level with four very different home school groups, and we have participated in a limited way in three private school systems. Our older children have been a part of five college systems, both private and public. I have been an adjunct. We have been grateful for each one as we annually seek what is best for each one at that time in their life. We have also known a few thousand youth in the past 25 years of youth ministry. And I know there is almost no hot button like the education of one’s children. Yet, it is from this vantage point that I take the risk of making every reader angry at the same time and say that I think Tim Keller is understated in his analysis.

But that’s just me….what do you think? Is four to five hours of homework a night effective? To what end? Is the parade of limelights healthy? Has the removal of roles in our society created such individualism that we can no longer feel worthy unless we are the best…or at least better than most of the rest!?

Am I just a cranky or ill-informed grownup…or is the current education system overvalued and rapidly becoming less sustainable than the housing bubble? And more importantly, if the Mighty Achievatron is in fact seducing our children (and us), what is a Kingdom response?

Tim Tebow has quickly replaced Rebekah Black, Justin Bieber, and a few other “notables” as the person about whom everyone has to have an opinion.  We read and hear responses all over the map – from deep respect to deep disgust with lots of bad theology, nonsense and bandwagon jumping thrown in.   This phenomenon has provided a wonderful opportunity to think and talk about faith in the public arena.  It has exposed some of us.  And it has provided some fascinating insight into our culture.

Walt Mueller of the Center for Parent Youth Understanding posted of discussing Tebow in his class through the grid of Rienhold Neibuhr’s five approaches to culture.  I don’t know about you, but I would have enjoyed sitting in that class.

One insight I enjoyed came from a brilliant professor at Southern Illinois University who is a good friend.  Part of his insight was to suggest that Tebow’s appeal comes from the fact that “Too few of us are willing to take the risks associated with invoking God or Jesus unless it’s a safe environment (e.g., church, family). As a result, many Christians live vicariously through people like Tebow and lay claim to his boldness by singing his praises.”

What do you think?  About Tim Tebow?  Sure that’s fair game.  But even more, what do you think our reaction to him says about us!?!

I’m in my youth ministry classroom at Oklahoma Wesleyan early this morning, waiting for students to begin arriving.   Actually, I was…but here they come…I’ll finish this later.

I was reflecting again on one of my favorite passages to preach on – Psalm 78.   It is a great passage about passing the faith to the next generation. 

Toward the end of the Psalm, King David is referenced as a shepherd who shepherded with skillful hands and integrity of heart.   Skillful hands.  Integrity of heart.  

What does that mean to you….and what should it mean to these young, aspiring youth pastors? 

I’d love to hear your wisdom…and I will share it with them!

In worship this morning we used this video using the image of the family mealtime from Fuller Youth Institute.

Our college minister, Peter White, posted on his facebook :  “At the great banquet in the Kingdom of God, there is only the kids table.”   I love it. What are your thoughts?

‘Nuff said!

Posted: January 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

“Beware of posing as a profound person – God became a baby.” Oswald Chambers