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But of course. Guilty as charged. But with a caveat. I’m a hypocrite, to be sure. (Along with the rest of the human race.I haven’t managed to get an exclusive market on that from the rest of the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve). But I am more than a hypocrite. For one thing, I am a hypocrite in transition. (Colossians 1:9 -14) I used to have a boss who would say, “You’re a good man, Hal.” And he was partly right. But the rest of the truth and the much deeper reality was in my standard response “The nearness of God is my good!” (Psalm 73:28)

I have been rescued and given the freedom to be more than a hypocrite….and in fact to grow into a wholeness of integrity and purity and kindness and grace that is nothing at all like who I was. But I am in transition. And I need to stay near my God in every way. And I forget. And so God blessed me with five children and a wife to help me grow.

Does that feel like a gift? Are you kidding? I’m a third generation PK (preacher’s kid). I’ve been doing youth ministry for over 25 years. I have been in the limelight and in some precious hidden places. I have seen God use me. Consistency and integrity are a really big deal to me. Do I want to be reminded that I can be a hypocrite? Well, do you?

Robert Burns wrote these words in his Scottish dialect: “O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us!” Peterson suggests that the gift, the power, is the adolescent in our home. Although the words that adolescent speaks are often painful and often accusatory, Peterson puts it like this: “I can’t help but believe that this is one of the most useful and timely things our youths do for us.” (p. 69)

What about you? Has our Father blessed you enough, shown His love to you enough, to put someone in your life…an adolescent even…who will point out your inconsistencies and hypocrisies?

By the way, for my regular readers, I am sorry again for a post a whole week late. My intent was good, but reality crashed in. Our youth ministry hosted the Tulsa After Party for the WinterJam tour last weekend while getting ready for next week’s mission trip and vacating our old offices. It was a little much. Thank you for your patience!

(This post is inspired by chapter 8 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 5 weeks to become part of the discussion).

Psalm 78 is a favorite Psalm. It comes as close to anything I have seen in Scripture for providing a game plan for passing the faith to the next generation. We use those principles in our youth ministry here in Tulsa.

*Tell God’s Story (His great and mighty acts)
*Teach the Law (in memorable ways)
*Expect a response of trust (in God)
*The final word is GRACE

Reading Chapter 7 of Eugene Peterson’s book Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager reminded me of this passage out of one of my teachings on Psalm 78. The text below is minus the accompanying media I use with it, but I think it still works. I want to share it with you and invite your response.

Not only does the teacher proclaim the Mighty Acts of God and the Law He has established but she anticipates the response. THe message here in Psalm 78 is the same message that is proclaimed throughout Scripture – from the books of the Law through the Incarnation in the Gospels to the Pauline epistles: Being a follower of our great and mighty God is not based on knowing a lot about Him – it is based on knowing Him!

Verse 7 makes clear the purpose of teaching the law. It is to prepare the next generation for a personal relationship with God. This is important. Law makes grace possible. And get this, “then they would put their trust in God and not forget His deeds, but would keep His commands.” Trust and obedience are absolutely intertwined. And so the response that we teach for …pray for…hope for…the response that lasts…is not one of knowledge or conformity of behavior, but of trust and obedience.

Permissiveness robs the next generation of the opportunity of knowing God in a fullness of trust. Authoritarianism keeps the next generation from discovereing the full joy of an obedient heart. A response of trust can never be manipulated or controlled. Conformity of behavior is what we are after when we train animals. But faith is an issue of the heart. We must trust God with our children so that they can trust God on their own.

Well, I found my book. That makes it easier to blog. Let me explain. My house is for sale (I may do a separate entry later on just that topic) and so we try to keep the house clean. In the first eight days we have had nine showings with one scheduled for tomorrow. That’s good news….but keeping up with bills, homework, and books that you are blogging on while trying to keep the house “staged” is a fun challenge.

Apparently I must have thought the challenge was too easy because I attempted to move offices at work as well. The key is to sort and integrate as you go! You can see how well that has been going in this snapshot with about 75% of the move completed.

I will post on chapter 8 tomorrow. I have a post or two I would still like to do on chapter 7.

One of the great insights of this 7th chapter is that of the confusion that parents and youth have in the adolescent years as they try to understand the giving, expressing and receiving of love. Both kids and parents tend to look at the ways that love worked for them in childhood.

Parental love (as it was expressed in childhood) used to satisfy…now it does not. This is confusing, frustrating and the cause of no small amount of anxiety. What happens when comforting, “fixing/making it better,” anticipating, planning are no longer enough? What happens when the needs of identity, autonomy and belonging…for personal expression, identification, decision-making, and the exercise of the will are added to the young person’s life…..and therefore to the dynamic of the relationship?

And if we dare admit it to ourselves, what happens when the needs for love that our child used to meet in us are no longer satisfied as neatly….or perhaps at all?

As Peterson points out, Christian parents are at a distinct advantage in wrestling with this question. As the expression of childhood affection and friendship disappear, and as society pushes our child toward eros in all things, we understand and are called to the very love that an adolescent needs. It is the love that a mature adult can provide. That love is agape. Peterson writes:

Without it (agape) love between a parent and an adolescent becomes either desiccated and dry, there being no healthy growth to feed maturity, or bitter and resentful, as expectations are continually disappointed. (Agape) sees the nature of the other person and acts freely to do those things which suit that nature. It is not first of all a feeling, or an experience, or a need, but a decision. It wills the fulfillment of the other. It is the love that is demonstrated by God for His people. It is a love that neither exploits nor demands gifts. It seeks to enjoy what is there in the other person and to share what one has. It is the love that Jesus exhibited in every word and act: His love freed others to be themselves in a way they could never have been without Him and allowed them to respond with a love for God which no sense of dependence or realization of duty could have created.”

Moms and dads, you and I have been given the gift to love with agape love….and in so doing, set our children free to be themselves in ways they could never be otherwise…and to respond with love for God free from any encumbrance of our own needs or desires. What a privilege!

(This post is inspired by chapter 7 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 6 weeks to become part of the discussion).

Tonight I had dinner at my oldest daughter’s apartment. I had worked late and missed my ride. She and her husband live downtown. She offered to come get me, feed me dinner, and drive me home. It was a great meal.

Yesterday I coached my youngest son in a basketball game. He was double-teamed for much of the game by some great players, but kept his head and the ball and led his team to a win. Their tournament begins this weekend. They will do great.

This evening I talked with my youngest daughter about job possibilities and driver’s permits and school trips and homework. And she asked if she could have my “vintage” UK wildcats sweatshirt. She’s a great kid.

This afternoon I received an email from my oldest son’s guidance counselor at the school of his choice. They are preparing to send out his award letter. Sunday he played keyboard and sang with the worship team at church. Tomorrow is opening night of his final high school play. His talent has given him some great opportunities.

I enjoyed texting my middle daughter this week. Away at college we still “talked” college basketball, Birthday Banquet, family news etc with the use of our thumbs and a phone. We have a great and easy friendship.

You know what? I realized that I don’t love these kids the way I used to. Not the way I did when I held them in those first few minutes…or the way I did when they took those first steps forward (or in Caleb’s case, up a ladder!)…or the way I did when they colored an original for me and Annamarie. No….my love has grown.

Don’t get me wrong. It has not all been sweet greenhouse loving. There have been storms…dry seasons…hot, scorching suns. But my love has not only survived…it is far greater than I ever could have imagined.

There is some great stuff to unpack in this chapter. But for tonight, answer me this: As your love has grown, what are some things that you are grateful for and simply love in your teen that you could not enjoy in the same way when they were a child?

(This post is inspired by chapter 7 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 6 weeks to become part of the discussion).

Halftime

Posted: February 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

If you have been part of this experiment, you know that we are halfway through Eugene Peterson’s book “Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager.” If not, please wander back through the posts on the first 6 chapters. Either way, I’d love to know what you would like to see as we finish the book.

What works well for you?

What do you wish was done differently?

Why do you come (or did you come this time) to the blog?

Thanks for helping me get ready for the second half!

Parents are ‘the architects of the family’; they are in a position and have the power to reshape the atmosphere and reestablish the trust.” (Clinebell quoted in Peterson, p 49)

Peterson asks “What kind of trust relationship do you have with God? Do you trust Him? Does He trust you? How do you show your trust for Him? How does He treat you?” Those are great questions, but unless our answers are informed by Scripture revealing that nature and character of God, our answers may only be reinforcing bad theology.

Here’s a hint about God’s modus operandi: Who did He trust with evangelizing the world…with making disciples of all nations? Here are a few more: Who did God trust with leading his people out of Egypt? With rescuing the spies in Jericho? With being the first King of Israel?

We are both teachers and learners of trust – as disciples we are learners, as parents we are teachers. And we teach best when we teach what we have experienced from our Heavenly Father, not from our environment in this broken and sinful world. Do you remember what it was like at the beginning….Were you trustworthy? I may not know you well reader, but I am confident of the answer. You were no more trustworthy than I….and I was a sinner. “God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Peterson claims that in “matters that are at the very core of our existence, we learn through demonstration, by having truth done to and for us. The One who is the very embodiment of Truth revealed what we could not know on our own. That Truth is self-sacrificial love. And so “we love because he first loved us.” (I John 4:19)

But what happens if we try to play it safe…if we choose not to risk….not to love…not to trust? According to Peterson, “if parents refuse to trust until their children prove that they are worthy of being trusted, trust will simply not develop.” (p. 50)

Mom and Dad, friend of teens…those kids you and I love will have a shot at learning to receive the love and trust of God as we model it for them. How does that square with good stewardship? I think we need someone to articulate a good theology of risk….anyone up for it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

(This post is inspired by chapter 6 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 7 weeks to become part of the discussion).

To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” George MacDonald.

It’s almost too simple. We learn caring by being cared for. We learn to trust by being trusted. And to teach others, we need to extend trust and care to them.

This creates a real bind, doesn’t it? Many of us have been around long enough to put great stock in sayings like “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” or to “know” from experience that a person who lets you down once will do it again…and again…and again. We want people to earn our trust, to show us beyond risk that they are worthy of whatever we give to them.

But adolescence is a time of great insecurity. Teens are learning to make decisions. The learning curve is steep. And the result is not always trustworthy behavior, but inconsistency and greater insecurity.

Peterson uses the image of a young child learning to walk. The parents are cheerleaders, encouraging risk and overlooking failure as they celebrate the success that will be. Is that a good image for teaching adolescents to be trustworthy? Why or why not?

Who trusted you? Had you earned it…or was it a gift you grew into?

(This post is inspired by chapter 6 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 7 weeks to become part of the discussion).