Posts Tagged ‘Relationships’

Parenting C

1. The tennis shoes you must replace today will go on sale next week.
2. Leakproof thermoses will.
3. The chances of a piece of bread falling with the grape jelly side down is
directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.
4. The garbage truck will be two doors past your house when the argument
over whose day it is to take out the trash ends.
5. The shirt your child must wear today will be the only one that needs to be washed or mended.
6. Gym clothes left at school in lockers mildew at a faster rate than other clothing.
7. The item your child lost, and must have for school within the
 next ten seconds, will be found in the last place you look.
8. Sick children recover miraculously when the pediatrician enters the treatment room.
9. Refrigerated items, used daily, will gravitate toward the back of the refrigerator.
10. Your chances of being seen by someone you know dramatically increase
 if you drive your child to school in your robe and curlers
Families are great!  They come in all sorts and shapes and volumes and types of functionality.  God loves families!  They are meant to be a picture of He and His church….His family.  When we work and live and spend time together  well together we become a testimony of God and his people.  We help people see what His Kingdom is like.
Parents, we will all agree that “House Rules” are a necessity.  No throwing balls in the house.  Don’t jump off your bed with sharp objects in your hand.  Don’t take things from your sister’s bedroom.  Don’t play your music too loud.  Don’t be jealous.  Don’t change the ringtones on your parents or sibling’s cell phones without them knowing.  Obey your parents quickly without talking back.  Love each other.  Forebear your brother’s weird habits.  Don’t let the dog in, with muddy feet, just after your parents have mopped the floor.  Don’t put Saran Wrap on the toilet in mom’s bathroom.   Forgive each other when something wrong has been done.  Say you’re sorry.  Don’t yell at each other.  Respect and Love.  Keep God tops.   Submit to and respect each other out of your love for Jesus (Ephesians 5:21).
Picture this:  God has his family, not new to Him but He’s kinda new to them.  They have just escaped the wrath of Pharaoh.  They are now in the wilderness/desert with Moses as their leader.  They are the family of God…and God needs to create “House Rules.”  They need to understand the boundaries.
“House Rules” create safety for everyone.  They help us respect and love each other and the God who created us.  They just make sense.  However, we know that they are often hard to keep…and when we falter, we hurt people and we hurt Jesus.
God’s rules are set up so that we protect each other.  The 10 commandments are set up so that we, ourselves, are protected.  They are also set up so that we look different, act different, talk different, think different than the world around us.  The 10 commandments are born out of pure and Godly love.  When we can do our absolute best at following them, we look more like God to our family members and our church family members and to friends and strangers alike.  People are drawn to pure love…to God.  People are broken by pure love…by God.  Hard hearts are softened by pure love…God’s love.  People can find forgiveness in chaos when they are surrounded by pure love…Jesus’ love.
Can our families show this in this day and age?  Yes.  Is it hard?  Sometimes.  Will we fail?  Yes.  Is forgiveness available?  Yes.  Second chances are what God and His Kingdom is all about.
Work hard to have your family be a beacon of light for others to watch so that they can catch a glimmer of what God’s Kingdom looks like.
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Parenting B

Three elderly women are sitting together at a Retirement Home in San Francisco, some bragging about their relationships with their sons. 

One begins, “My son is so devoted to me, for my birthday he gave me an all-expenses-paid cruise around the world.” The second pipes in, “That’s nothing. Mine threw a huge catered affair for me, and he flew in all my friends from the East.” The third woman smirks at them both. “Without a doubt, my son is the most devoted. Three times a week he goes to his therapist. A hundred and thirty dollars a session he pays. And what does he talk about the whole time? Me!”

Devotion and honoring our parents can be a tough thing when we’re kids.  We often say respect is earned.  But God asks us to go one up with this one…and respect parents anyways.  Our umbrella verses, as Steve calls them, really come into play here.  Here are some we’ve looked at and a couple more that will explain where I’m heading.
·         Ephesians 5:21 “Submit to one another because of your respect for Jesus.”
·         John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
·         John 13:35  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
·         Romans 12:10  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
·         Ephesians 4:2  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
·         Matthew 22:39  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

And the biggy for the weekend ~ Ephesians 6:1-3  1 Children, obey your parents as believers in the Lord. Obey them because it’s the right thing to do. 2Scripture says, “Honor your father and mother.” That is the first commandment that has a promise. 3 “Then things will go well with you. You will live a long time on the earth.”—(Deuteronomy 5:16)

I may have some disagreements with this following point.  I’ve had many kids come up to me and tell me their parents won’t let them come to youth group, or go on a trip, or take communion, or get baptized, or be involved in a church event.  My response?  “Honor your mom and dad.”  Along with this short statement, I encourage them to not argue, not show the pouty face, and not hold it against their parents.   I say, “If you can, show a small smile and respond with a ‘ok mom, no problem.’ “  That’s hard.  But the kids who have followed all of the above verses have found that their parents were very, very pleased with their reaction.  In fact, the parents usually came around.  In fact, there are some families here in our NICC family because their kids bit their tongue, smiled, and honored them.  They started wondering what their kids were being taught while with this NICC family.  They wondered what the rest of us were like.  Jesus was eventually honored by these kids taking the hard step of honoring and respecting…even when they didn’t think their parents deserved it.
And what of those parents that never come around…well, there’s still the promise given in the Bible.  More about that later.
This can happen for all of us all through life no matter how old we are.   Those umbrella verses really drive home how we should treat anyone.  And now, as we focus on parenting, when placed against Ephesians 6:1-3…helps us make sense of how to honor and respect and obey even in tough times.
Being in my position as children’s and youth minister, I often hear kids talk bad about their parents.  Please know that I don’t allow them to continue.  We’ve all been there.   It’s easy to throw out the, “I wish my parents wouldn’t….” or “My parents stink because they won’t….” or even “I hate that my mom or dad said that….”  Those things are not good for our own spirit, no matter how old we are, or for the testimony that we live for Jesus.  And again, I’ve seen huge fruit from those kids that are able to turn that around and do the right thing.  They’ve immediately started to receive that promise of good life and long life.
Let’s focus on that promise for a second.  I think what all of us sincerely want in life is peace.  Remember, when we sin, we voluntarily give up peace.  We give it away.  It was a gift from God, but we handed it away.  Peace doesn’t mean that we get what we want, it means we’ve chosen to be in that spot where God wants us to be.  The bible says that when we can get there, even when it takes all of our energy and focus, that it becomes a peace that we cannot understand.  I’ve seen kids smile at me and completely ok with what their parents have told them…even when I believe their parents are wrong.  Those kids had peace that I couldn’t even understand.  There was a smile on their face.  That’s peace.  They were content with where they were in life.  They knew they were obeying a heavenly Father.  They were choosing peace….good life….long life.  They were choosing the promise over giving away the peace and the blessing of God.  That’s tough, but I envy them for that.
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Parenting A

On a flight to Florida, I was preparing my notes for one of the parent-education
seminars I conduct as an educational psychologist.

The elderly woman sitting next to me explained that she was returning to Miami after having spent two weeks visiting her six children, 18 grandchildren and

ten great-grandchildren in Boston.

Then she inquired what I did for a living.

I told her, fully expecting her to question me for free professional advice. 

Instead she sat back, picked up a magazine and said,

“If there’s anything you want to know, just ask me.”
Parenting.   I fully remember turning around to listen to a very young mom ask Dr. Ray Gurendi a question during a Q&A session at Walker Elementary.  She had that look of panic that we all know so well.  Dr. Ray had been speaking about principles of parenting that we all know get thrown under the bed when frustration sets in while in the middle of those terrible two’s.  All us parents, who’ve been through that, understand where her question comes from.  With a puzzled and fearful look in her eyes, she asked, “So how long will we have to use these principles before our kids finally get it and start to listen?”  A small chuckle came from most in the room as it really sounded like she was being sarcastic.    ……….she wasn’t.  She was a frazzled mom asking sincerely.  The only answer he could truthfully give her was, “Around the age of 25.”  At that, all of us turned to him with whitewashed faces.  He said, “It’s the truth.”
I found both comedy and insanity in his reply.  But I also knew, from his logic, wisdom and experience of raising 10 children of his own…he was speaking truth.  Parenting is tough.  It has it’s joys but it also has it’s…well, we’ll just call them “moments.” 
So, where are we as parents suppose to begin?  Where is our starting point?  From where do we look at a long term plan?  I think we should look to the Bible.  God’s wisdom is in there for us to use, and often times we just use it for Sunday School class.
Follow the logic here as Paul eventually writes to parents:
1.      Ephesians 5:1 says for us to be “imitators” of God as dearly loved children.
2.      Ephesians 5:21 says for us to “submit” to each other out reverence for Jesus.
3.      Ephesians 6:1-4 then focuses on children and parents.

So if we follow where Paul is heading here, he’s setting up our general behavior as people of the Kingdom.  In 5:22 he talks starts with the relationship between husbands and wives, then he moves to the household family relationships, and finally to slaves/masters or boss/worker.  All of these things are around the concept of “home” and I think Paul is simply saying there’s a good and right way to live with each other.

We are to first imitate God’s behavior, then respect each other out of our love for Jesus.  So, as parents we are to imitate God’s behavior as a parent, respect our children as though they are His children (they really are), and then we are to “not exasperate our kids, but train them in the instructions of God”… that they can imitate Him and respect other people and teach other people how to imitate….  You see how this works.
Malachi 2:15 talks about why God wants healthy marriages.  He wants them so that the next generation, our children, can be Godly themselves.  It’s not just about raising respectful kids, or hard working kids, or smart kids, or simply good kids.  It’s ALL about raising Godly kids.  He knows that if we don’t focus on the important things while raising kids, then they won’t see His importance as they grown and form families of their own.  Generations of creation could be lost from Heaven.  Ok…no pressure now.  Parenting is an important subject to God and I think we know why now.

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Marriage Relationships

Keep your eyes wide open before the wedding,
half shut afterwards.   ~Benjamin Franklin
Ok, I’m a big fan of Ben Franklin and his wit.  But there is a bunch of truth in his statement.  Haha.  Again, these notes are for those who are in leadership within the NICC family.  My hope is that they help all of us stay on the same page and also help those who are following Steve’s messages in their own classes and groups.  Leadership is very important to where we head together as a family and it’s is directly related to how we keep the Gospel moving throughout our community.
I’m going to give my own opinion of what Ben meant when he penned this quip.  Make sure you know the weight of the commitment your making before the ceremony.  After the ceremony…everything in stride.  J  That’s not saying something bad…it’s just the truth.  This is also the truth in any relationship, friendship, business partnership, teacher/student situation, mentor/mentoree. 
Things always look great on the outset.  But when you get down to the brass tacks of any situation, the little things come out, the negatives seem to rise to the surface, the problems can seem larger, but the opportunities for fun and success are doubled or even exponentially increased.  Before, there was just you. Now, there’s you and your spouse or new friend or new partner or new student.  There you and your problems…and theirs as well.  There’s your weaknesses and theirs.  And you thought you had a hard time dealing with your difficulties.  Now you’re dealing with two or more times the difficulties.  But remember…the good things are as well.  You have to have, in a weird sort of way, your eyes half shut…to overlook and get by those things could push you to make rash and regretful decisions.
I’m going to make a quick run through of the verses that Steve picked for this week.  They are great for this subject! 

·         Malachi talks about families being the place where the next generations of God-followers are raised!  Families are important to God.  He wants them to be healthy.

·         1 Peter talks how love can cover a multitude of sins (half closed eyes)…able to over look things that would normally tear us apart.  Forgiveness and forbearance goes a long, long way in any relationship.  Remember, this is from the guy who denied Jesus 3 times right before the crucifixion. 

·         Joshua encouraged his followers, the Israelite nation, to be strong and courageous.  Godly relationships are characterized by courage and constant encouragement to get through the tough times!  They ARE going to happen…but courage and constant encouragement help us make it to incredible days and breakthroughs and dreams.

·         King Solomon writes in proverbs that having fun, smiling, laughing brings health to the body…and, with what we’re focusing on, it brings health to any relationship, whether it be two people or more…even a huge organization or company.

As leaders, we need to bring these characteristics into our lives.  The simple test is to ask the questions, Are we focused on our commitment to God?  Do we love others in a way that is unconditional?  Do lead with courage and encouragement?  Another way to ask that last question is this: Do people follow us because of our courage?  Do we make things fun?  Do we bring cheer to the group or relationship?

For kids – I’m going to focus on Joshua 1:9.  Kid’s need concrete instruction, and Joshua’s story is easy for them to grasp…and kids always love adventure.  Here’s the basic outline of Joshua’s story.

·         He knows that God has given them the land, the great and wonderful land, on the other side of the Jordan river.

·         He knows, and Israel knows, that there are some huge and fortified cities and peoples over there that won’t like him and them.
·         He knows that to get to that great thing, the promised land, there is going to be some bumps in the road.

·         He still sets his eyes on the prize, and takes God’s encouragement to him and gives it away to his followers, the Israelites.

The story applies to relationships too.  Sometimes we need to have God’s encouragement and courage to help us become great friends and daughters and sons.  And if we can have God’s encouragement and courage, then there are great things ahead for u

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Time in a Bottle

·         There are two times a man does’nt understand a woman, before marriage and after marriage!
  • ·         To be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him a little. To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all !
  • ·         Marriage is a mutual relationship if both parties know when to be mute.
  • ·         Man and wife make one fool.

Well, enough of the one liners.  But you know, there is a little bit of truth in each of those.  For this week’s notes, I’ll be focusing on a principle that will help both the kid’s teachers and adult leaders.  Obviously, we won’t be covering marriage in the kids’ classes.  However, we can cover the principles of ‘loving your neighbor’ and ‘putting other people first.’

Marriage works best when each partner is able to see the needs of the other, rather than their own, and make their able best attempt, humbly, to meet them.  When that happens, there is usually an equal and opposite reaction.  Love bounces back and forth…and with God’s help…grows without loss of energy.  Pride becomes non-existent.  This also can happen with friendships and other relationships.

The main verse we need to look at is one that you already know.  Mark 12:28-34 explains the account of the religious leaders of that time trying to catch Jesus in a wrong answer.  They ask Him what the greatest commandment is.  He responds with two simple answers.  The first is to love God with all that you have.  The second is to love your neighbor as you love yourself.  Pretty simple.  Put that into marriage or any other relationship, and you’re asked to love God…then love your spouse or friend with your whole heart.

‘If-then’ statements work well here.  If you have an awesome relationship with God, then you will understand you have a purpose to love other people in His unconditional way.  You also would know that we are to put others above us, their needs before ours.  Earth is temporary…Heaven is eternal.  We can give up here to gain there.  God asks us to do that for our husbands, wives, friends and enemies.  Imagine how much we could change our immediate world if we lived this way day in and day out.  It’s not about us.  It’s all about God and His purposes for us.

And….when we know the needs of the other person, we can better serve them.   Remember, this doesn’t mean to be a lowly and beaten up slave.  It means to serve in love with sacrifice as Jesus did.  Will the other person always reciprocate the sacrifice, love, or help?  No.  In fact you may not even receive gratitude.  But remember who is smiling because of your actions.  They will not go unnoticed.  You can live with a smile on your face by putting a smile on God’s. 

Now, the second subject here.  I’m sure all of us are very willing and very understanding of the above principles.  However, we get caught when the next satanic trap comes into play.  Time.  Do we take time to serve?  Do we give up time to serve and love?  Do we say ‘no’ to the right things or the wrong things?  Do you find yourself thinking, “That would be great if I only had time”?  Do you find yourself saying, “I’ve got other things that need to get done”?  Sometimes we are legitimately busy.  Most of the time we’ve just mismanaged out time, and then, we mismanage our service to others.  We mismanage our love and we shut out spontaneous love.

What would your marriage, your friendships, your family, your neighborhood, your church family look like if we all tried a little harder at living like Jesus wants us to?  Would we take more time to sit and listen and look for the needs of those around us?  Would we give up more of our time and our energy and our resources for others?  I know we would.  Let’s do it.
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Married life is full of excitement and frustration:
* In the first year of marriage, the man speaks and the woman listens.
* In the second year, the woman speaks and the man listens.
* In the third year, they both speak and the neighbors listen.
So, does anyone relate to the story above?  I know that I do.  Marriage is a subject that has taken some hits through recent history.  God chose to use marriage as maybe the integral foundation of humanity.  The family is a necessary piece of culture, and towns and nations.  Marriage is also used as a picture of what God’s eternal relationship with us will be like.
Now, the definition of marriage is suggestive.  It is seen as a state or federal issue.  It’s a piece of paper that has two person’s names on it.  It doesn’t have to be one man and one woman.  It can even be many people in a relationship.  It doesn’t have to be forever.  It’s seen as a tax advantage.  I’m not sure this is what God intended.  
For the next few weeks, Steve will be looking at this subject beyond the ceremony and rings.  Today though, I’d like to look at a basic of “relationships” that fits perfectly with this institution called marriage.
Here’s the basics.  We are not in a perfect world.  Think about our bodies.  As we get older, they wear down.  Batteries need recharged.  If you live really far away from where your DSL internet service comes from, your online speed drags a little.  The bowl of cereal I ate this morning will only last me a few hours before my body needs more fuel.  The rubber on your tires will wear down.  When you heat up your house in the winter time, the heat eventually escapes, thus your furnace has to “kick” back on to reheat your house.
Our world is not perfect.  Think about your relationships for a little bit…marriage as well.  Does it work for people to give 40% and expect 60% in return?  We expect higher returns.  We don’t expect to have to work harder for a bigger return…but that’s the way the world works.  And guess what…it will always be like that.  There is, however, another factor.  God.
God doesn’t work like that.  God is about eternity.  God is about filling up and keeping full.  God is about living water that will never dry up.  God is about forgiveness when it’s not deserved.  God is about turning sacrifices into eternal investments.  God is about being humble and meek but always ending up blessed beyond all understanding.  God is about peace in the middle of chaos.
Here’s the point, when God is in our lives, we have more than 100% to give.  With God in our lives, we have enough for ourselves and for people around us.  With God in our lives, we’re not worried about what people give us…He’s provided for us everything we need.
Do you know relationships that need that “God” piece?  Have you ever known someone who says their “cup” is never full enough to give to their friends or spouse or kids?  Well, God probably isn’t the one being asked to fill it.  If God is first in two people’s lives, they will always have enough to give to each other…even when one falters or has a bad week…or even a bad couple of years!  God is in the business of keeping our cup full.  I think that’s what Jesus meant when He said He wants to give us ‘Life Abundantly.’  We understand life on the ‘loss system.’  We’re always needing to be recharged or re-fed or re-energized or ….you get the picture.  God can do that with and for us.
The two greatest commandments, as Jesus stated, are to love God and then love our neighbors.  It has to be in that order as well.  When we love God and allow God to love and to love through us, we can really love our neighbors and family and friends etc.  Hope this makes sense.
Little kids, obviously, won’t be working on the marriage piece of Ephesians 5.  However, they can focus on the two greatest commandments.  The principle is the same.  I’m going to focus on friendships.  Friendship with God first means that we can be great friends to lots of other people.  And when we have a friend who puts God first, we have a friend who can always be there for us…even if we’ve been a horrible friend.  Cool concept…unknown to the sinful and imperfect world.
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The Mistake of a Lifetime

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Genesis 25:19-34


Teacher: How can one person make so many stupid mistakes in one day?

Little Johnny: I get up early.


I suppose if we all got up earlier and went to be later we’d all make more mistakes in one day. Have you ever had one of those days? There’s a children’s book titled, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” in which Alexander, a young boy, has a day that none of us would want to even come close to. From waking up with gum in his hair to making mistakes through the rest of the day, Alexander just isn’t having any fun. And when he thinks his is having fun, he’s doing something wrong. Have you ever seen a child in this predicament? My three kids have had those days. When Micah has a day like that, he walks around with tears at the edge of his eyes. When Hannah has a day like that, she gets major frustrated with herself. When Naarah has a day like that, she throws fits at the drop of a hat.

Have you ever made a mistake that seemed to ruin your whole day, week, month, life? Have you ever misspoken, decided wrongly, sat down when you should have stood up? Most all of the times we make mistakes, sin, we operate from a point of “self.”

Esau comes in hungry. Wow, he must have been super, uber hungry. He comes in from hunting and sees his younger twin cooking lentil stew. Actually, he probably smelled the stew even before he came close enough to speak to Jacob. His stomach is talking for his brain when he says, “Give me some of that. I’m famished!” Jacob asks Esau to offer up a price….sounds like ornery brothers. The price Jacob asks him for is huge! He asks for Esau’s birthright…the inheritance of the family as the firstborn son. Whoa! Duh! And Esau said, “Fine, it’s done! Just give me some stew!” Again, the stomach was talking and not his brain.

We often operate from that point of ‘self.’ What can we have? What can we get? How can we protect our stuff? How can we get what we think we need? It usually comes down to selfishness. And to tell you the truth, both brothers were acting out of a selfish attitude. Jacob wanted the birthright. Esau didn’t care about the important thing…just wanted to be fed and be fed now! Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” in verse 17:9. And Proverbs says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” in verse 4:23. Both kids were not operating out of a pure heart. They were operating from a selfish heart, an impatient heart. How do we stack up against this historical story in Scripture?

What guides your decisions? ‘Who guides your decisions?’ might be a better question. As leaders, we need to be careful how we approach decisions and what we ask people to do. Both are very delicate matters. Now, making a decision between a Snickers or a Kit Kat might not be world changing…unless you’re watching your waist line. But decisions that affect our own future or the future of a “neighbor” are huge.

I always tell kids that when they get baptized, it’s like a picture of the ‘old them’ being buried and the ‘new them’ being raised up in a new life. However, when it’s the ‘new them,’ it’s not just ‘them.’ It’s them and the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). Duh! Why did God choose to live inside of us? One, because He wants to be close to His creation. He loves us. Two, because He needs to be close to His creation because we need that perfect, still voice to lead us away from stupidity and sin. Yes, we are stupid sheep. Paul would have said that he’s the stupidest of them all.

As leaders, we need to help our followers understand that we can get better at making decisions for our lives. We also need to let them know that mistakes will be made. We need to own our mistakes and ask forgiveness for them. We need make things right…and as leaders, many times that will be publicly. I just heard a lesson from John Maxwell surrounding the idea that leaders need to fess up. Followers always know a weak spot or two in their leader. The leader needs to admit it and get on with life. When leaders can admit faults or weaknesses, integrity is built. It’s not about looking strong and smart, its about looking real and humble.

Genesis 25:19-34

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