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You’ll Be Glad You Did! – Top Posts of 2016

My hope with this blog has always been to help you do something today that you’d be glad you did.  Not to have all your ducks in a row or be the perfect parent or to be a really successful parent or…

The goal has always been to help you show up.  Engage.  Take a step towards something good.

Life is happening today and you have the ability to do something.  So go do it!

“The best way to be where you want to be a year from now or ten years from now is to do something today that you’ll be glad you did.”

— Seth Godin

Here’s a list of the most read posts of last year.  My hope is that you find something you’ll be glad you did as you reread some of these.

Be the Parent You Want to Be – Today!

“The Talk” Isn’t Enough

Is My Child Addicted to Technology?

It’s Good to Be Known

How to Ignore the Noise and Focus On What Really Matters

Speak Life. They need it.

 

Distracted Worship Is Better Than We Think

I was about to give up and take her back downstairs.  Our church has recently made a significant shift to inviting families to worship together.  I had no other options for my elementary child, but the Pre-K still had childcare downstairs and the constant movement, bouncing, distractions…were about to push me over the edge.  If she puts that Moses finger puppet in my face one more time…

One parent shares it like this:

“Attending worship with small children in tow can feel like trying to sleep with a helicopter hovering over your bed. What you want is refreshment and inspiration; what you get is low-level tension, discomfort, and distraction as you brace yourself for what might happen next.”

You may be able to relate.  However, I’ve become more and more convinced, that I’d much rather have my squirmy, noisy kids in worship with us than anywhere else.  It is worth it.  They may not be picking up everything (or anything) from the sermon or having a significant spiritual moment each week or any week for that matter…

But that may not be the point.

The point may be something closer to learning by immersion.  It might be closer to the power of being together over time.  It might have benefits that I never fully see until much later in life.  Despite all the distractions and hassle, it might just be worth it.

“My husband and I sometimes joke that we attend the 9:10 service (our church’s first Sunday service begins at 9am.) It doesn’t seem to matter how early we begin to get everyone ready; by the time Bibles are found, shoes and coats are donned (and hats, mittens, and boots during Minnesota winters), and the bathroom has been visited by all, we will be ten minutes late to church.

While sometimes discouraged about our seemingly perpetual tardiness, for years we overlooked an important evidence of grace: our family was in church, together. We were late, but we were there. All of us. That fact alone declares something about God. He is worth a great deal to our family. He is worth the hassle, the effort, and the work it takes to get there. He is worth the embarrassment of showing up late. He is so worthy of all of it, and of so much more. That is what worship is: declaring God to be worthy, with our words and our actions.

The hassle, tension, and effort are all worth it.  God is worth it.  Community is worth it.  Our family together, moses finger puppet and all, is worth it.  Honestly, once I really believe this – the hassle, tension, and effort start to fade out a bit.

She continues,

“But our continued presence in worship as a family is not the only declaration of God’s worth that occurs when we attend service together. In the pews, as I interact with my children, my actions declare something about God, too. They may declare that he is patient and kind, and wants to draw them into his presence; or, they may declare that God is annoyed, impatient, and eager to discipline. While there is a place for setting and enforcing boundaries for the good of our family and others, how we go about it declares something about God to those around us — especially to our children.

Most preliterate children will remember little, if any, of the sermon they hear on Sunday. The preacher’s advanced vocabulary and abstract ideas are difficult for young children to follow. They may not be able to read all the words to the songs.

But they will remember questions patiently answered, instructions given in kindness, and boundaries explained through the lens of God’s great worth. They will recall Mom’s arm around their shoulder or Dad’s lifting them up so they can see during the singing. They will remember joyful faces singing and worn Bibles opened during the sermon. These are the legacy of parental worship, regardless of how many times it was interrupted.

There is often more going on than we notice and this is a great reminder of how much they are taking in.

They absorb more than they can express.  They learn more than they show.  They are forming more ideas about mystery, community, and God than they let on.  One Sunday isn’t magical on it’s own, but the repetition over time makes a significant impact.

If you’re ready to throw in the towel as I was last week, I hope this encourages you to see it all as worth it, because it is.

“So, when someone asks me whether or not we were able to worship while sitting with our littles, I hope I can say (regardless of how much of the sermon we caught, or how many songs we were able to sing beginning to end), “Yes! God was there, and he met us.”

You can read the full post referenced above here:  Worship Interrupted

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 –

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