Wednesday, November 23, 2011

FAMILY PLUS High School - November 23

Hello HS Parents!

For the past several weeks most of my emails to you have covered our Wednesday night topics. The primary reason for this is that I tend to be a bit "chatty" once I start typing, and if your attention span is anything like mine - I know that I need to make these notes as succinct as possible. To do that, it's a little difficult for me to cover both days. This week, though, we're not meeting on Wednesday (tonight), so I'd like to tell you about the past couple of Sundays - they've been pretty interesting.

On November 13, I asked your students during our Bible teaching time to define marriage; I didn't give them any more parameters than that. As you would imagine, the conversations were all over the board, but ended up right where our focus for that lesson was for the day - can marriage be defined as anything beyond one man and one woman? The Bible, clearly, states that is not possible. I think this is a very difficult worldview for students to absorb given their generation's tolerance and hesitancy to "judge" their peers. (I think ALL OF US can learn from the example they set in not being judgmental).

I hope we helped them see, however, that although the Bible makes clear statements about same sex relationships, our focus for the day was marriage and its definition. Even if someone's worldview accepts same sex relationships as okay, tolerable, or even preferential - marriage, as defined by the Inventor of it, must consist of one man and one woman. I suggested to them that marriage is not the same as a civil union or some other moniker placed on two people joining together. Rather, I felt it important to clarify that God, Who created marriage, is the only One privileged to define it - and He has done so: One man. One woman. Anything falling outside of that can't be called marriage.

Defining marriage outside of God's definition would be like someone asking you the meaning of a word and you deciding to make up something that fit your preference for the definition. For example (warning: this will sound silly) we wouldn't define a bottle using the description/definition of a motorcycle, or define a paper factory using the description/definition of the space shuttle - it just wouldn't make sense...people would not understand what we were defining because we'd have the definition wrong. It's the same with marriage - it has a definition which was given to it by its Creator: One man. One woman.

Lastly, I think the position of the Church (or Church people I should say) for centuries has earned us the right of being ignored on this issue. Too many have been quick to judge in this area rather than loving those who find themselves intrigued by, trapped by, or even enjoying an attraction to their same sex. Christians tend to look past the grace in which we are living that covers our own multitude of sin and, rather, become fixated on crucifying individuals with behaviors or worldviews that we fear. I would submit that, instead, ours is the responsibility of sharing Christ's love for people. ALL PEOPLE.

I think our problem here is that we struggle to draw a line in the sand concerning our Christian worldview, and we fear that accepting a person who acts on his/her attraction to the same sex (for example) means that we are "accepting" his/her behavior. We don't (typically) do that in any other area of our lives. I mean, seriously - do you share the EXACT same feelings/opinions regarding faith, politics, racism, poverty, environment, etc. as the person or corporation who signs your paycheck every couple of weeks? Or with the person who works in the cubicle right next to yours? What about the guy who works on your car or mows your lawn? What about the couple living right next door to you? See the pattern? For most people the answer is no - we don't share the EXACT same views on those things, but we are still able (for the most part) to do life with those people who live in our little section of the world. We are able to separate our feelings about a person's behavior without compromising our command to love them and do life with them. We are ABLE - but do we always do it?

Let's make it a little more tangible - do you really believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has something to offer those people you're doing life with every day? Is there something greater awaiting them, and you, as a result of the Truths we claim to believe? If the answer to that is yes, then I wonder what earns us a greater right to speak Truth into a person's life? A pointed finger preaching hellfire and damnation? Or open arms that display the new lives we have found in Christ? We MUST learn the practice of being godly without being self-righteous. Anything less than that just makes us Pharisaical in our behavior (knowing the law and forgetting the person). Oh, we brood of vipers.

Wow - okay....looks like I'm only covering one Sunday! See what I mean about being chatty - I just can't help myself! I hope that you have an incredible Thanksgiving, and for those of you who will have life issues to deal with when your family comes together over the holidays - I'm praying that you can do it in a way that honors God's Kingdom and grace in your own life. Remember Jesus's reply when asked about the greatest commandment - Love God. Love people. Could He really believe it's that simple? I'm thinking He does. :-)

Let me know if I can pray about anything for you and/or your family.


Friday, November 18, 2011

FAMILY PLUS High School - November 18

Hello HS Parents!

Great time with your students this past Wednesday night! By now you're well aware that we asked students a week or two ago to respond to God through art. Well, in keeping with that mindset - this week I asked students to read a few selected verses of Scripture and create a mathematical representation of the text. For example, "life + worry ≠ longer life" is a representation of the Luke 12 teaching about not worrying about everyday life and necessities.

Now on the surface, this might seem silly to you. But trust me, there's a method behind my madness: I want your students to open their minds to God's Word in their lives without being captive to an old understanding of what they "know" about the Bible from their younger years. I believe that students (and adults) can be trapped by experiences with and more elementary understandings of God's Word from earlier times in their lives. Doing so will prevent us from seeing how God's unchanging and transcendent Word can take on deeper and new meaning in our lives as our experiences and worldviews broaden.

For example, the teaching listed above about not worrying will always be true, but will have different meaning for a 5 year old than it does for a 30 year old with a wife and 2 children. Students who comment that they "know all the Bible stories" are subject to being "stuck" in what they know rather than stepping into what they have yet to learn from the same passage as an older believer with more life experiences under their belts.

My exercises over the past couple of weeks or so are designed to help your students step into a broadening of their minds by thinking of Scripture in a fashion that might appear obtuse on the surface. My goal, however, is to just get them off-guard long enough to allow their minds to go new places in Scripture rather than staying captive to an elementary teaching they absorbed as a preschooler.

Hear me, I believe those understandings are critical foundations for a student's faith journey - but they are exactly that - foundations. That means they are laid in order to build upon. I'm hoping these different ways of responding to God will allow your students to begin that new addition or remodel of their faith that will bring them closer to God. I'm praying for a deeper spiritual maturity for them that will allow them to experience His love letter in a way that matches their physical, emotional, and academic development.

Whew! That's a lot....I hope it makes sense! Let me know if I can pray about something for you or your family.


Friday, November 11, 2011

FAMILY PLUS High School - November 11

Hello HS Parents!

Many of you may already be aware of what happened this past Wednesday night in our meeting...but just in case - here's a recap. You know from last week's FAMILY PLUS email that we've recently completed our series called "Forward Motion." This series focused us on taking small steps in our faith rather than taking exhausting giant leaps.

Well, I really wanted to drive the point home and offer students a way to respond beyond any type of verbal commitment that may have made. So this past Wednesday night I asked them to respond to God without using their mouths, lifting their hands, playing an instrument, or dancing. I provided clay, pastels, paper, pencils, magazines. paints, canvas, and time. Wow - how they responded!

Follow the link below to take a look at their work. You'll also be able to see it this Sunday morning displayed in the foyer. Take the same challenge and think of how you might wish to respond to God differently than you normally do. Take a chance at letting loose the right side of your brain and see what He's got waiting inside there for you.

Follow this link to the art on Facebook.
Let me know what I can pray about for you!


Friday, November 4, 2011

FAMILY PLUS High School - November 4

Hi HS Parents!

Well, we've wrapped up our series on "Forward Motion" - our focus for the past few weeks where we talked about making small steps in our faith instead of trying to take HUGE leaps. This week we talked about celebrating the small steps we have made toward growing in our faith as opposed to being "stuck" on the steps we have yet to take.

If your student is attempting to make a small step in his/her faith - remember that the best role you can play is that of an "hyper encourager!" Sure, the steps your child is taking may not be the ones you would wish he or she would take. And they may not even seem like significant steps to you. But God may be inching your student, little by little, toward His will and purpose for your child's life! Make CERTAIN he or she KNOWS you see the effort!

Remember that your student is likely already dealing internally with the guilt of a weaker walk with Christ than his or her friends might have. There may even be feelings of guilt associated with behavior that your student is not revealing to you. Encouraging your students in the little steps they are making in their faith - no matter how small they may seem - could be the catalyst that will make them take that next step time and time again.

*****Uber Challenge for the Day*****

Make certain that after reading this email that you find at least ONE way to encourage your students in their faith journeys - TODAY! Don't allow them to go to sleep tonight without your taking just a second to convey how proud you are of them for something they have done in their continuing walk with Christ.

Let me know how I can pray for you!