After I posted my blog last week, I had a friend message me about how she should talk with her middle-school-aged son about this decision. I personally believe that parents should be having real conversations with their children about all sorts of issues including “hot” topics such as this. Here are 4 conversations that parents could have with their children regarding this decision and how it affects them:

1) Be a peacekeeper 

Take a minute and remember what middle school and high school were like for you. For most of us, it was not the best moments in our lives but instead was filled with hormones, bad haircuts, bullying and a desire to fit in. We can all remember our longing to belong.

Now, put yourself in the shoes of a 13-17 year old child struggling with their sexuality. Fear, rejection, insecurity, doubt and all sorts of emotions would be fighting for control leaving many teenagers alone struggling in silence.

Encourage your son or daughter to be a person that befriends everyone. Encourage your child to be a defender of the weak, a crusader for the outcast. Encourage your child to be a peacekeeper.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” -Jesus 

I want my son and daughter to be kids that are sensitive to those that are struggling, to be emphatic to those who are hurting and to befriend those that need a friend the most.

2) Be a good sport 

I talk with Bennett, my sports-addcited 6-year-old son, often about being a good sport. Win, lose or draw, I want Bennett to be a good sport in how he handles himself when he wins, when he loses and if their is no decision. This past week, I have seen lots of poor winners and poor losers. I have seen many people on both sides of the issue creating much deeper issues by the way they have chosen to respond.

I think that this decision presents an excellent opportunity to help our children understand that with some decisions we win, some we lose and some leave no winner. It’s often not about the decision but how we chose to respond that shows our true colors. Our children must understand that life will be filled with disappointments, setbacks and missed opportunities.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. -Paul (First Century Church Planter)

3) Don’t live by fear 

I have seen so many fear-driven diatribes this week. Fear of what this means for church leaders, fear for what this means for our kids, fear for what this means for our future. Fear has been driving so much of the conversation that it causes unrealistic future scenarios to exist that aren’t even part of this decision.

As a parent, I want my kids—no matter the situation—to not be paralyzed by the fear of “What if?” What if this happens or what if that happens? What will we do if so and so does that? I want my kids to live by faith, not by fear.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7) 

Parents, I encourage you to talk to your kids about this decision, but do not allow fear to be the driving emotion behind the conversation. When you talk with your kids, allow love to be the primary factor and emotion leading the discussion.

4) Talk to your kids about living a holy lifestyle

Whether you believe that homosexuality is a sin or not, this is an opportunity to talk with your son or daughter about what it means to live a life that is set apart for God. We live in a world where our kids have access to things that we wouldn’t believe such as harmful apps and internet pornography. They are subjected to media that drives a message that sin is cool and unavoidable…and they hear very little about an alternative.

The desire for our walk with Christ is to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. If we believe this, then we need to have conversations now with our kids about how their decisions and choices matter. Boundaries matter, kindness matters, self-control matters, love matters. This is a great opportunity to encourage your child to spend time praying to God about the way they speak, love, act and live.

“Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) 

No matter how you go about it, make sure that you have a discussion with your children about important issues like this. As a parent, you are their primary disciple-maker and Christ tells us to, “Go and make disciples.” It starts in your own home!

 

 

Stones

Stones from the left.

Stones from the right.

Stones are being thrown from from every direction and angle.

I was driving back from a Mission Trip in Mississippi with a SUV full of high school boys when the news broke about the Supreme Court case ruling in favor of allowing marriage between two homosexuals. I was too distracted by teenage jokes, torrential downpours of rain and driving for 8+ hours to really have a chance to respond to this decision. When I got home, I was just so excited to see my beautiful wife, hug my sweet children, take a hot shower and sleep in my own bed that I didn’t want to prematurely respond.

Today, I have spent the day recuperating and processing, and one story from the life of Jesus keeps replaying over and over in my head. It’s one of my all-time favorite stories recorded and it’s found in John’s Gospel: John 8:1-11.

During this interaction with Jesus, a group of religious leaders drag a woman caught in adultery before Jesus demanding that Jesus follow the law and have her stoned. The religious leaders—ones who were convinced they were right and even had the law on their side—just wanted Jesus to do what the law demanded. All they needed was the word, “Go.” Along with the frightened woman, they had brought their tools of death: stones.

But here is where Jesus flips the script. Instead of doing what the religious leaders demanded, Jesus makes a statement. “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Each person that had gathered dropped their stones one by one and walked away. Not one stone was thrown that day. Not one person threw so much as a pebble in the direction of the woman.

GRACE

In this moment when the law demanded death, Jesus chose grace…grace for the woman that was sitting before Jesus covered in her sin. Jesus chose to give this woman—whom had broken the law, was a sinner and even possibly a whore—grace. How could he? Why would he?

Fast forward to 2015. A decision is made by the Supreme Court and I have seen more stones fly from people on both sides of this issue than I thought possible. People from both sides antagonizing, ridiculing, name-calling and spewing hate. Stone after stone has flown from hand after hand. Relationships are being destroyed, friendships are being broken, hate is being displayed.

Where is grace? As we boldly walk into a new tomorrow, where is the grace that Jesus would show? Are the words that you are sharing, the statuses that you are posting and the stance that you are taking filled with grace? If it is not, then I ask you to please think before you speak, share or tweet.

THE REST OF THE STORY 

After Jesus looked around and saw that there was no one left to stone the adulterous woman, Jesus tells the woman, “I do not condemn you.” But after this gracious statement, Jesus looks at the woman and tells her to sin no more or to leave her life of sin. Over the course of my years in ministry, I have had several conversations with homosexual people asking questions about God, their lifestyle and how those two reconcile. In those numerous conversations, I have felt compelled to remind them of James’ words, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” If each of us will put down our stones and instead point people to Jesus and allow Him to do the convicting, there would be far less sin in the world.

My prayer is that we navigate these conversations, discussions and possible debates with grace and love and remove all hate and division from our language. May we point people to our Holy Savior through our words and actions.

“By this all people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”– Jesus

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A gap exists between the reality of people’s lives and the part that many of us are comfortable playing. As I type this blog, people are entering Target Starbucks ordering their favorite latte but behind each coffee order is a person dealing with real life situations. Real life problems. Real life failures. Real life mistakes. Real life breakdowns.

This last week, a childhood hero of mine and many others passed away. Robin Williams was an amazing actor that transcended screen to breath life into characters and invite each viewer into a new world. As I heard the details surrounding his life, his pain and his death, I was saddened. I was saddened because so many people are struggling to just breath but because of the deep depression that consumes them, breathing seems to be an arduous task. Who will stand in the gap for those suffering with mental illness? Who will walk alongside people that on occasion make it very difficult to walk with?

I believe that the hope of the world is the local church but for many years the church has remained silent on this difficult issue. It is not a black and white issue and often times, the  Church finds it difficult to have dialogue when issues aren’t black and white.  Who will stand in the gap? The simple answer of, “They need more Jesus, they need more prayer and they need to get over it,” is not enough.

If we are going to stand in the gap, we must be willing to get dirty, messy, and hurt. The gap is not a place of ease or a place of comfort. The gap is a place of brokenness.

Will you stand in the gap for those suffering with mental illness?

Will you stand in the gap:

  • To end racial division
  • To end the endless murder of people around the world
  • To help the broken families
  • To help our schools
  • To serve our community
  • To love our extra special children
  • To love your neighbor
  • To help those that Jesus miss most connect with Him

What in your life do you care enough about that you would stand in the gap?

 “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. (Ezekiel 22:30 NIV)

God was looking in the times of his prophet Ezekiel and he is looking now. Will you stand in the gap?

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This weekend is the 1st Annual Restoration Community Church Restart Retreat! Around 25 students plus youth leaders are spending time at a campground getting away. The youth leaders hope that the students will be able to have a fresh start with God as they begin this school year. I hope that our students connect with God. Connect with others. Build lasting friendships. Begin/recommit/restart a relationship with God. Create a foundation of faith that will carry them through this school year and beyond.

But is a restart just for youth? I don’t think so. Maybe you are like me and you just need to hit the refresh button. But how can one restart their relationship with God?

How do you refresh your relationship with God?

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I can still remember the first time I had heard the term “Kodak Moments.”  I was standing in Union Station Hotel waiting for my beautiful bride to walk down the staircase when the pastor leaned over to me and told me about Kodak Moments. He said, “There are times in life when you need to never forget that image. To never forget that memory. To take a mental picture. It was then that I experienced my first Kodak Moment. I watched as my beautiful bride made her way down the staircase with grace and beauty to say, “I do.”

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Today, as I drove Bennett to Kindergarten for his very first day. I told him about Kodak Moments. I told him to take pictures of his first day. What he learned. What he ate. Who he became friends with. What fun things he did. And Bennett gave me that, “Sure papa.” But it me that was taking my Kodak Moment. I watched as he walked into school with excitement and confidence and I took pictures as he walked through the doors. I took pictures as he said, “Hello,” to his teacher. I took pictures as he found his cubby and I took pictures as he sat down to color before we left his room.

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I am so proud of him. I am so proud as I sit and think how far he has come and all of the obstacles that he has already faced. I can’t help but think about the Kodak Moment when I first met my son. I remember this little scared boy walking into a intimidating room meeting two strange people that he had never met before. I remember his brave face as he tried not to show that he was scared. I remember trying to play with him on that first day. These are some of my Kodak Moments that I am remembering today.

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Paul says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37) I pray that Bennett will continue to overcome and conquer any task or situation that he faces!

What are your Kodak Moments?

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When I was a young boy, I grew up watching the movie, Rudolph. I don’t know if you remember the movie but along the journey that Rudolph undertakes, he comes to the Island of the Misfit Toys. Each of the toys had a defect that left them unwanted and isolated on this island. Spoiler Alert: Near the end of the movie, Santa Claus and Rudolph return to the Island of the Misfit Toys in order to take the toys to children that want them. This movie like most kid’s movies has a happy ending but how many of us feel like we are the misfit toys?

  • Broken
  • Unwanted
  • Discarded
  • Abused

I think that many of us feel like we are a misfit. I am truly the misfit of all misfits. And when we feel like a misfit, it’s so hard for us to have a place where we feel safe, comfortable and known. I hope and pray that we are creating a place at Restoration Community Church where the misfit can fit. I hope that we are creating a culture and environment where all people have a place where they are known. A place where they can connect. A place where their past doesn’t matter. A place where they are wanted. A place where it doesn’t matter how they dress. A place where a fruit-loop dingus is appreciated. A place where it doesn’t matter how many tattoos or piercing they have. A place where healing can occur.

If you are a misfit, come and join us and find a place where you will fit.

 

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Since I was young, I have had an all or nothing personality. I love eggs and then I hate them. I will work out 5 days a week for like a week and then quit for 3 years. I didn’t believe in God and now I am a pastor. Do you have a similar personality?

This is a personality trait that has affected me keeping my blog updated. I love to write and I love to share my thoughts but I often times get distracted and don’t follow through with new posts.

Will you follow along on this journey with me? With you help keep me accountable when I fail to write? I hope you will follow so that we can grow together.

Looking forward to to writing once again,

derek

Image  —  Posted: August 2, 2014 in Uncategorized