Sunday, January 24, 2010

thankful for a transparent dad

Through my time the past month in God's word I've come to have a much deeper appreciation for my dad. So many things I'm learning about God and His heart I remember watching my dad either experience or try to teach me, and I can't explain how much that strengthens my faith. As I continue internalizing faith for myself I become so much more thankful for a dad who was willing to be open about his faith with his kids. (And just for the record, my dad doesn’t know I’m writing this. This week I’ve just been so overwhelmed by encountering Biblical truth I’ve seen modeled in him that I feel burdened to share.)

I want to list just a few things I can remember my dad doing with me that I think ultimately helped shape my faith. I don't really know what readership I have here at Moons From Burma, or if I have any at all, but if you're a parent or want to be a parent someday and desire that your kids love Jesus more than anything else, I think you should apply some of these to your parenting.

1. Let your kids see you worship.
I remember countless times either in our "junk room" at my old house, driving down the road, or in a worship service where I could see my dad worshiping. Most the time he didn't even know I was watching, but there's something powerful about wondering why in the world your dad is raising his hand, closing his eyes, or singing in a non-goofy way.

2. Let your kids see you struggle.
My dad has always talked to me about his struggles. Whether he was explaining a bad business deal, a frustration with an employee, or a question about theology, my dad would always talk to me about what he was dealing with. Now, looking back, I wonder why in the world he would trust me with that information, but I think he realized how much my character would be impacted by watching him handle his struggles with character. If I never knew about the struggle, I wouldn’t know what Godly, real-world character even looked like.

3. Let your kids see you wrestle with God.
Just like Jacob, Godly men may have to spend some time wrestling with God before they can be Godly. My dad, intentionally and unintentionally, allowed me to watch him wrestle. I can remember two specific times when I was basically spying on my dad in the other room when he was on his knees crying. That’s the kind of information my dad wouldn’t necessarily want hitting the streets, because typically he isn’t a very emotional person, but I can’t explain how much of a difference it made in my life being able to watch my hero cry and plead with God.

4. Let your kids know when you’re in over your head.
When I was in 7th grade our family was having some trouble financially. Instead of hiding that from me, my dad was open about it. He had no clue what was going to happen, but rather than pretend he knew all the answers, he used it as an opportunity to teach me the most important principle in all the world: trusting in God. Because he let me see him trust in God, I learned what it meant to live by faith. There’s a whole chapter on that in Hebrews by the way…

Typically 5 points would make more sense than 4, but I’m going to stop here. The bottom line is that if you care more about your kids’ faith than any other aspect of their life, then be transparent. Or cleverly, be a “Trans”-parent… My dad is not an open person by nature. He is actually very introverted and very much enjoys privacy. That is irrelevant. This is a principle, not a personal personality bent.

The best person your kid can see live out faith is you. Throughout the Gospel of John Jesus assures his followers and listeners that everything He reveals is a reflection of what His Father had revealed to Him. God was transparent with His son, so live life with your kids too.

Monday, January 18, 2010

the teenage alcoholic

High school is an awkward time of life. As a Freshman no one is really sure what to make of the facial hair, boob sizes, and seemingly adult-like behavior of the upper class men. A considerable amount of time is spent trying to determine who you are, what your legacy is going to be, and how you're somehow going to fool everyone else into believing you're awesome instead of insecure.

Most teenagers are consumed with impressing people.

The problem with this consumption is that it often drives teenagers to make decisions they don't really want to make. Don't get me wrong, some teenagers make stupid decisions simply because they're stupid, but most teenagers succumb to stupid decisions because they care so deeply about what people think. This can lead to a lot of irrational decisions, but the one I feel most burdened for is the teenage alcoholic, because it can end up affecting everything else.

I was having a conversation this week with a friend who said he felt like our generation was a lost cause. His reasoning: everyone parties. "Even the so called 'Christian' kids party," he said. And I must admit, he's kind of right. So many teenagers go to FCA meeting on Tuesday morning, church on Wednesday night, Younglife on Thursday night, and get hammered Friday and Saturday... all in time to make it to church on Sunday. Clearly there's a problem with that picture.

The natural reaction to this problem is to set up boundaries for teenagers. We start pouring out our energy toward creating a safe place for the good kids who don't want to be a apart of that. Christian student groups become the escape hub for the students who want to make wise decisions and steer clear of the party scene. A gap is created between the "real Christians" and the "worldly Christians", who honestly probably aren't even Christians based on their works. As a result of this strategy, a wall is placed between the righteous kids and the unrighteous ones, and suddenly, unintentionally, a terrible terrible mindset is created.

This mindset is the purpose for this post. Somewhere along the way the pure students who wanted to make the wise choice bought into the lie that they were more favorable and righteous than the party-ers simply because they don't get drunk on the weekends... and I'm more guilty than anyone. My righteousness became my sin.

Is teenage drinking wrong? Yes. Are teenage drinkers making decisions that have potential to ruin their future? Yes. Is drinking really the problem? No.

You know what the problem is? The problem is not alcohol consumption; the problem is every teenager's pursuit of anything that will satisfy them other than Jesus. The only reason alcohol became the go-to sin is because it's the easiest substitute for value, love, and approval.

As easy as it is to write off the party-ers, we have to remember that drinking is not the unforgivable sin. Drinking and driving isn't even the unforgivable sin. God's basis for righteousness is no longer about our personal holiness, His basis is on Christ's holiness! None of us are saved for abstaining from drinking, drugs and sex on the weekends, we are saved because Jesus abstained from all of that, along with every other sin, and then chose to die for us. Through his life we have life, and we're to be his witnesses... even to the ends of the party scene.

This is a much longer post than I usually like to make, but it's so important for anyone dealing with high school students. Whether you're in high school, a teacher, a student pastor, any mentor of any kind, you have the ability to point teenagers toward Christ instead of alcohol. Don't give up on the teenage alcoholic!

Is my generation a lost generation for getting drunk on the weekends? Yes! But only because we need Jesus.