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One Last Call for Hope

hope

“The nature of human beings is to be inactive unless influenced by some affection:  love or hatred, desire, hope, fear, etc.  Those affections are the ‘spring of action,’  the things that set us moving in our lives, that move us to engage in activities.”  — Jonathon Edwards

“We have this (hope) as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul…”  –Hebrews 6:19


This post was originally written in 2014, but seems appropriate to post again.

While written as the final part of a 3 part series to encourage us to parent out of hope instead of fear, the quote above is helpful in understanding this last season in American life as well.  Many finally felt heard (hope) under President Obama, while many felt threatened (fear).  Many feel finally heard (hope) with the election of President Trump, while many feel threatened (fear).  It would have been the same had the white house gone the other way.

A quick glance at the news or your Facebook feed shows us how these affections, as Edwards call them, lead us to action.  That’s not to say that these feelings aren’t justified at times.  However, the question we have to answer, in both parenting and politics, is it possible to cultivate affections (the kinds we want to determine our actions and therefore our lives) apart from current circumstances?  Or for the purposes of the post here, is there a source of hope that speaks louder than any fear we might have?

I think the quote above is right that we are naturally inactive unless provoked by the above affections.   What ‘springs of action’ are you allowing to take root in your heart and life?

“Every decision we make today will be driven by fear or love.  Who we toss the keys to determines a lot about the destination.”  –Bob Goff


October 7, 2014

I never intended to write more than one post on fear and hope, but as I’ve gone about my days I’ve found that many people need hope in a very real way in their lives right now.

I need hope.

Let’s be honest, we live in a world where fear can easily be an influence in the way we live our daily lives.  If it’s not personal fears specific to your day, it’s Ebola or the Islamic State!

Currently, as a youth pastor and a dad of two young girls (now three!), I need hope.  I’ve seen enough and been in enough counseling situations to know what this world is capable of.  I’ve seen the students who are truly good kids get swept away in the currents of adolescence.  And here’s where it gets tricky:  If I allow fear to rule the day on this as I think about my own kids, I will go crazy!

I have no choice but to surrender to God my worries and fears and declare that I ultimately have no control over the future.

But this isn’t a passive surrender, it’s a daily surrender.  It’s daily choosing hope over fear.  It’s actively letting hope determine my thoughts, motivations, and actions.  And this hope brings about drastically different results than fear.

It’s a ‘spring of action’ that allows hope to grow into confidence.  Confidence into rest and trust.  It becomes an anchor that can handle the realities of this world, knowing that God can influence the future and ultimately already has!

“Happy is the one whose hope is in the Lord” (Ps 146:5) isn’t just a scripture to be memorized, it’s a real state that motivates how we live our lives.  Sure, Ebola and ISIS gives pause and cause for concern, but “I have this hope that anchors my soul.”  I will not be shaken.

An Exercise to Determine Your Motivations

In the above quote, Edwards states that we would all be inactive if it were not for our “affections”, as he calls them.  What motivates your actions – love, hope, fear, hate or a softer version of hate?

TRY THIS:

Examine your actions, simply writing down the things you do without any judgement.  At the end of the week sit down and pencil in a probable motivation for each action.  Try to be honest as you examine why you did what you did.

I would love to hear what you discover!

This was part 3 of a 3 part series.  To catch the other two posts click here:  Hope, Not Fear.  Hope, Not Fear – Part II

(Exercise taken from a great book.  If you are looking for a book to stir affections in your spiritual life, this book is a great option –

Seeking the Perfect Picture – Repost

Does it mean that we don’t measure up if we can’t get that perfect Christmas card picture?

Not a chance, but if your family is like mine, this can be a frustrating experience. Our kids sense it coming and immediately rebel. If I’m honest I rebel a bit as well. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking –

The perfect picture isn’t an accurate representation of who we are!

I worry sometimes that the church holds up perfect pictures (aka that Christmas cards where everyone is smiling and pretty and behaved and…) and say to families, “This is it! This is what it should look like!” I greatly appreciate the words of Reggie Joiner and hope they encourage you as well,

“God doesn’t use perfect pictures. God uses broken people. God’s desire is to work through every family to bring redemption and restoration. It’s not about better pictures, it’s about a bigger story. Family is a platform God uses to demonstrate His story of redemption”

This Christmas season, don’t worry about living up to a perfect picture, just lean into the messy joy of being family. Lean in and engage much like our Creator did through sending his son to walk among the messy joy of humanity. Your brokenness and God’s activity in the middle of it are part of grand story God is unfolding. Your family is perfect for this task!

I hope you all got the perfect picture for your card this year! I really do. But also remember that where there’s a gap between the picture and reality, Emmanuel (God with us) is there to fill it with grace and redemption.

Praying for rest, joy, relationship, and a nearness of God’s presence for your family this holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

Originally posted 12/18/14

 

For a little extra encouragement, here is an excerpt from a post that has been the most popular on this blog. You can read the full post here: “I Have Nothing To Wear”

There is a temptation as parents to think we haven’t got what it takes.

The truth is you have everything you need to be successful as a parent! Still, many of us don’t feel this is true in our daily lives. We are like the person staring blankly into a closet full of clothes and proclaiming, “I have nothing wear!”

Being the Broken Parent a Kid Needs

We are all broken – you, your kids, your parents, your spouse. The best thing for our kids is for us to own up to this fact.

When we own up to our brokenness we give our kids a front row seat to God’s activity in our lives. Our kids don’t need to see us be perfect to be the kind of human beings we want them to grow up to be…They need to see God’s redemptive activity in our lives taking what’s broken and making it new.

So let’s make this simple. You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to measure up to whatever comparisons are out there. You simply need to be willing to grow – to be the person God is calling you to be. It looks more like surrender than striving. It’s a matter of being willing to engage more than being an expert. I love this quote from Brene Brown,

“Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting.”

Forget what you know about parenting, who are you becoming? How are you engaging the world around you? How are you growing and seeking relationship?

“Faith is caught more than it is taught” is an absolutely true saying. Let’s give our kids a front row seat to God taking us, broken people, and accomplishing great things that we could never do on our own. The world has a way of getting us searching – thinking that we need what we are already have! But, I promise you this…You have everything you need to be a great parent!!

Now, just lean in, engage and watch God do what He does best!

Myth:  Your teen doesn’t want a relationship with you.

Truth:  It’s not that your teen doesn’t want a relationship with you, they just want a different relationship.

Parents with teenagers don’t need to disengage, they need to re-engage and redefine.  They need you as much now as they did when they were a child.”

–Reggie Joiner

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