Here’s why you should keep collecting those acorns

majestic-oak

You may be doing something right now that seems so small, so insignificant that you struggle with why it’s worth doing in the first place.

But most everything that is large now had similar beginnings. Small. Insignificant.

The Majestic Oak (Savannah, GA) was, about 400 years ago, an acorn. Less than the size of a quarter.

Facebook wasn’t always Facebook (it was an insignificant project called Thefacebook).

Google was supposed to be Googol in the beginning. It averaged about 10K searches a day when Will Smith was ‘Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It’. Now it’s processing 40K searches a second (that’s 3.5 BILLION–with a B–per day).

The Church and all the denominations and non-denominations therein, that massive, universal reality that has thrived no matter the challenges faced, was sitting at about 120 people in Acts 1 before it began multiplying.

Big things have small beginnings. Keep doing the small things well. Better often precedes bigger. But regardless of growth, God is honored when we work as unto Him, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

You can demolish or be demolished. Here’s how.

One of the positives of being a dreamer is the possibility of what could be.

One of the negatives of being a dreamer is the possibility of what could be.

It’s one thing to dream about making something better or starting something fresh, but it’s another thing to try to live that out before it happens–if it’s going to happen at all–and to imagine that whatever you’re dreaming actually exists and is being enjoyed by others right now. That’s the part I have trouble with.

The imagined future, the possibilities, all the what ifs and so on, are all far better than the present. Result?

Discouragement, dissatisfaction, and discontentment with the present. Yep, all the d-words…

So I was expressing these feelings one day, and Lindsey reminded me that I need to take every thought captive.

OH NO SHE DIDN’T quote Bible words at me! She didn’t pay an exorbitant amount of money on a degree that she could’ve gotten for $900 in a little deal called Logos! Okay, she helped pay for it, but that paper on my wall has my name on it.

The apostle Paul writes about “taking every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, HCSB).

EVERY THOUGHT. That’s just exhausting.

Paul precedes the what  with the why: “For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds…(verses 3-4).

Love that last part I underlined. Demolition. There’s nothing gentle or sweet about that.

Image result for demolition

A massive metal machine gently massaging rubble

would easily say that my dreaming, and subsequent discontentment, has been a stronghold.

The lie of something better, grass that’s greener…water your own stinking grass.

I want to live into what Jim Elliot urged, “Wherever you are, be all there!” I want to demolish those strongholds by the power of the Spirit of Truth.

Jesus said today has its own troubles. Today has more than enough to keep you occupied. Stop worrying about tomorrow and your five-year plan. Just be obedient to Jesus today. And the next day. And repeat.

As thoughts arise, measure them against the truth of God’s Word.

  • Is this thought leading me closer to Christ?
  • Is it stirring affections for the Lord?
  • OR is it leading me into one of those d-words?
  • Ultimately, if I run with this thought and let it linger, will I end up in sin of some sort?

God be with you (and me) in taking EVERY thought captive to obey Christ today.

 

The one thing you can actually choose every single day

You really choose it.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.

It may not seem like a choice.

But it is.

And I’ve made the wrong choice for years. Actually, choices…

See, you can choose joy and optimism. It’s shameful to consider how often over the years I have chosen gloom and melancholy and pessimism or cynicism.

Add to that the fact that misery loves company, it’s not wonder our workplaces, schools, churches, and wherever elses are full of gloomy, melancholy, suspicious, pessimistic, cynical people.

So whatever else you do today, when that shroud of darkness begins to fall, go ahead and give it a big yank. Pull it down. Throw it to the side.

Instead, Choose Joy. Choose Hope. Choose Trust.

Choose collaboration instead of isolation. It’s funny how much clearer we see without that shroud in front of our faces. And how much brighter everything actually is that we’ve made it to be.

“May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15.13

 

 

….wouldn’t it be nice to rest on this pillow each day?

Haunted by Eden

adam-eve-in-the-garden-of-eden

100% historically accurate recreation of Eden

To read of Eden is to read of perfection. A world without suspicion. Full trust. How amazing would that be? Expecting the best of everyone with a pure heart. Having pure motives in all endeavors.

Well, tough. It doesn’t exist any more. Not yet anyways. That’s the new creation, which is the old creation 2.0.

But we sense Eden lingering all around. It’s an innate feeling that this thing, that person, this experience should be better.

I’ve written before about being a dreamer. It’s tough being a dreamer while haunted by Eden (a phrase I borrowed from John Eldredge but promise to give back when I’m done).

Because I basically live in a fairy tale world.

In said world, I have the perfect job. I do only the things I’m good at and that energize and excite me and NONE of the other stuff. It’s an amazing world. I also get paid very well in that world.

But we live east of Eden. Beyond perfect but with the taste left in our mouths.

So to those dreaming of perfection or complaining about imperfections, it’s time to get real. Let’s own who we are and the world in which we live and choose to do the most to make the best of it.

And not just make the best of it, but to make it better. Do something better. Anything. Anyone is welcome to join me in the endeavor to become more of a doer. But some of you doers may need to sit and dream a bit. You do you.

Will your kids be able to cope with culture?

lazy-river

Culture itself is a tricky notion to nail down.

You can go technical and talk about language, education, economics, etc. But quite simply, culture is the sum total of what a particular people believe about life.

So if you were a stranger from another planet and dropped into the USofA somewhere, in or around any decent sized city, you could piece together what the people believe about religion, government, money, family, and so on. Even amidst the variety, there is enough consensus to formulate an understanding.

Now, should what you notice in the broader swath of the populace be any different when it comes to observing Christians?

Or does it look as if these Jesus followers are mostly indistinguishable from everyone else?

How about the way they raise their kids? Does that look any different?

As I move along in Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart, the matter of cultural influence is emerging. I always picture culture as a lazy river, and Christians are the weirdos going the other way, which isn’t really relaxing or lazy at all.

If, as the Shorter Catechism states, man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever, then how are Christian parents inculcating that anti-lazy river belief into their (our) kids?

Here’s how not to do it. This is how, as Tripp writes, “you teach your children to function in the culture on its terms.”

How do we do this? We pander to their desires and wishes. We teach them to find their soul’s delight in going places and doing things. We attempt to satisfy their lust for excitement. We fill their young lives with distractions from God. We give them material things and take delight in their delight in possessions. Then we hope that somewhere down the line they will see that a life worth living is found only in knowing and serving God.

That last sentence is powerful. We go the way of culture with basically every aspect of life, and belief about life, and perhaps we take the kids to church most Sundays and don’t let them cuss in front of us, and then hope they see that life with God is better than all else.

It’s nonsensical. It’s illogical. Let’s all say it together–It’s dumb.

But it’s what most Christians are doing right now.

We tell our kids with our mouths that a relationship with Jesus is the most valuable thing in this life and beyond. Then we say with our lives and actions that Jesus is great, but not as great as the stuff we can buy or places we can go or experiences we can have or cars we can drive or clothes we can wear or clubs we can join.

Jesus ends up relegated to Sunday mornings and election years.

So if that stranger from another planet dropped into your home, what’s different? What is it about what you are doing and how you are doing it that would cause the stranger to conclude, “I am not sure if the kids get it yet, but their parents are trying to show them the surpassing worth of life lived in devotion to God.”

Out of the chopper and onto the lawnmower–more on parenting

Without realizing it, I’ve gotten myself into a parenting mini-series.

The last two blogs have been about helicopter parenting and motivations for disciplining, respectively.

Today’s post is a companion to the helicopter post. If you are tempted to stop reading, skip to the bottom and read the nbcnews.com article I’ve reposted. Then come back and finish my little ditty.

To review, helicopter parenting is when one or both parents hover over their child, keeping a close watch on any danger that may come his way, always ready to land and rescue the kiddo from danger (or any difficulty whatsoever).

An acquaintance of mine shared a new term she picked up this summer–Lawnmower parents. As she explained the term it became quite clear that there has been an increase in mower purchases over the last decade.

Lawnmower parents don’t mow down their kids. No no.

They instead mow down any 700-590742obstacles in the way of their kid’s success. (Clear the path of weeds, stumps, or anything else that might cause them grief).

Much of what I would have deemed helicopter parenting is more fittingly categorized as lawmowing…lawnmowering?..whatever.

Example: Dad sees that son is not getting playing time dad thinks son should receive. Son complains a lot about this situation at home but never says anything to coach. Dad sets up meeting with coach, or, better yet, surprises coach after practice. Dad expresses frustration. Coach doesn’t seem to care. Dad either (A) pulls son from team and complains loudly on the way out, and/or (B) pulls son from team, complains loudly, and starts own team so that son can always play.

I heard a story recently of a mom who was writing her high school son’s papers for him. She got caught plagiarizing. The son was upset at mom. (You can’t make this stuff up)

Whatever I have to do as the parent to make sure my kid excels with minimal effort, that’s what I’m going to do. They deserve better or more or first or nicer or higher…

Lawnmower parents hold a fundamental position of skepticism towards the other party. In other words, that other kid, teacher, pastor, coach, etc., is out of line and needs my help to see why my child is right or better or smarter.

And what does this produce? Please read the following news story and see for yourself. It’s the destiny of a generation that doesn’t have to struggle or fend for themselves. Sadly,  some parents are too late. But for those of us just getting started, there’s hope for our kids because there is hope for us.

———————————————————————————————————–

 (the highlighted portions are my emphasis)

A skyrocketing number of students are seeking crisis counseling at East Carolina University, prompting the school to make sure it educates pupils not just on academics but also on how to cope with life’s challenges.

ECU reported a 16 percent increase in student counseling appointments in the past two years. Those involving a crisis were up 52 percent, according to a July report that shocked officials on the Greenville, North Carolina, campus.

“It wasn’t just the numbers, it was the intensity and severity,” said ECU Director of Counseling Valerie Kisler-van Reede. “It felt like something very different was going on — a lack of resiliency and the ability to cope.

As a result, the college has boosted its counseling staff and resources and also introduced a new program — Recognition, Insight and Openness or RIO — to teach students self-talk, journaling, mindfulness and other cognitive-affective stress management techniques. RIO was adapted from a California Polytechnic State University workshop and originated with Central Washington University.

The more quickly students can rebound from setbacks, the more likely they are to be successful, say college officials.

  For years, college students cited depression as the main reason for seeking counseling help, but that has shifted.

“The number one complaint is anxiety — the feeling of being overwhelmed, and panic attacks,” said Kisler-van Reede. “A lot of it is worry about college, but [students] are also worried more generally about managing their lives.”

And it’s not just at ECU.

A 2015 survey from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State revealed that half of all students who visit the counseling services at the nation’s colleges are experiencing anxiety.

Some say this generation of college students is having a difficult time “adulting” — a slang term for behaving like a responsible adult.

But ECU officials say the problem is deeper, about resilience, and it begins long before they arrive at college.

“They say the millennials have failed, but have not experienced [that] failure,” said ECU Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Virginia Hardy.

“They have received a lot of recognition for participation and all get something for being involved,” she told NBC News. “But they didn’t have to manage the emotions that come with not being successful.

In Hardy’s presentation to the ECU Board of Trustees, she said the higher demand for counseling services was a result of these trends:

  • Students are “significantly” more anxious and stressed. Social media and the “24/7 culture” has contributed to anxiety and bullying.
  • Many students seefailure … as catastrophic.”
  • Decision-making skills are poor and students find it “difficult to cope with the unpleasant or unexpected.
  • This inability to cope increases thoughts of suicide.
  • Substance abuse has “escalated,” especially the use of narcotics “being used as a coping mechanism.”

Some of the stress is developmental, especially in the first year of college, according to counselor Kisler-van Reede.

“[Students] get here and have to learn about living on their own, academics and the social aspect of living with a roommate … when they had their own room at home,” she said.

But college officials say they also see this anxiety overload among so-called “over-achievers.”

“There is a lot of pressure to get it all done correctly and right now,” said Hardy. “Some individuals stress over SATs and good grades in high school, so when they get to college and get a ‘C’ … [i]t can be catastrophic for them.”

Hardy also blames social media that encourages “emoting and talking anonymously.”

“They can say and do what they please because there is not any accountability,” she said. “They can’t manage face-to-face in the real world and can’t resolve conflicts in the residence hall.”

Even a healthy debate in the classroom can be difficult for some, Hardy said. “We talk a lot about civil discourse, because we are seeing that students can’t agree to disagree in a respectful manner.”

In addition to teaching better stress management through the RIO program, ECU will launch with this year’s freshman class an evidence-based longitudinal study, “The Resiliency Project.”

“We are going to look at the data and hope it will inform us on what we need to be doing,” she said.

In the meantime, Hardy says ECU is doing what colleges are supposed to do: give students “some resiliency in their decision-making skills that will help them wherever they go in life.”


Conclusion: Kids aren’t growing up. Parents aren’t raising adults. It’s the classic Peter Pan syndrome. I’m never gonna grow up!

And why should I if mom or dad will bail me out any time I’m not happy or get my feelings hurt.

If this feels spiteful or angry, it’s not. Don’t be so sensitive.

For the time being, get off the mower or land the chopper and throw away the keys.

%d bloggers like this: