For parents of teens, youth leaders, etc.

…a fool is reckless and careless. -Proverbs 14:16

Parents of teens and those who work with high school students know the Spring of year is a fun and exciting time of year for students, especially the closer they get to being seniors. Unfortunately, it can also be a dangerous time. I don’t have statistics to back it up, but it just seems like this time of year, as we get closer to school ending, students are just more likely to be careless with their actions and make choices that can be detrimental to their emotional, physical and spiritual health. If you’ve noticed this pattern yourself and would like to talk to your teen about navigating this season with care and wisdom, I’d like to share a couple of things from my limited experience that might be helpful:

1. Talk to him/her like they are an adult, and share your concerns in a loving, straightforward way. Be diligent not to come across like you think they are so stupid that you have to take the time to talk to them about their dumb choices. Don’t be a grouch. Don’t talk down to them. Maybe start with something like, “hey I love you very much and I want you to have a good time, but more than that I want you to be safe and keep your head on straight. I wouldn’t be talking to you about it if I didn’t think you were capable of hearing it.”

2. Don’t try to be cool. Sometimes during this season parents/leaders realize that time with their young person at home is short and then tend to get lax on wise parameters. Don’t do that. If you have set high standards for your kids, keep them. Resist the temptation to say things like “I know there will probably be drinking, I hope you will stay put when you drink and know when you’ve had too much” 🙄 — There are good reasons lawmakers who don’t even know your kids or care nearly as much about them have put laws in the place to try and prevent them from consuming alcohol until the age of 21. Encourage them to obey the law, encourage them to drive the speed limit, tell them to have fun while being responsible. If they choose to break laws or act foolishly don’t let it be because you encouraged them to by trying to score points as a cool mom, dad, or leader. And newsflash? You aren’t cool 😆 For the most part, your time has passed on all that ha ha. I’m right there with you. 👴🏻

3. Don’t be unnecessarily overbearing. I hope this doesn’t sound like a contradiction to my last statement, but this is not the time to put the screws on them either. They are getting older and wanting more freedom is a natural thing! If you get a sense that they are on a trajectory towards responsibility and doing the right things then give them some room to breathe, stay out later, go more places, etc. Say yes when you can! Middle schoolers dislike the feeling of a helicopter parent. Highschoolers? Tend to hate it. 😅

4. Remind them of their priorities. This is so important! If your student is a self proclaiming follower of Jesus Christ, remind them that everything that they do is to be done for the glory of God. And if they can’t glorify God in doing it, don’t do it. If they want to get into a good college and have a career in mind, remind them that their actions today can prevent them from achieving big goals tomorrow. We underestimate teenagers when we think that they can’t hear those kinds of things. They are more forward thinking then we give them credit for. Sometimes they just need a reminder, like all of us do.

I assure you I haven’t been perfect on all of this. Some of this advice comes from “woulda coulda shouldas” that I have looking back. I hope you find them helpful. Also, chances are if you’re still reading this, you love teens and want what’s best for them. For that I want to thank you, commend you, and ask that you join in me in praying for them. They’ve got it tougher than we realize and need all the prayer and encouragement they can get.

Good question for teens/young adults approaching college years…

Good question for teens/young adults approaching college years: What’cha gonna do after high school?

Better questions: What kind of person do you want to become in this next season of life? What needs do you see in the world that you can help with? How will you maximize your unique gifting to glorify God and help others? What eternal investments would you like to make?

Career goals are important. Character is more important. GPA is important. Growing in spiritual maturity is more important. Being impressive is good. Making an impact is dramatically better.

Young adults need our help and encouragement to move beyond the status quo. Many times they behave in ways that we criticize them for because we give them almost zero expectations.

#goodquestion #betterquestion

Resurrection Sunday Evening

On the evening that Jesus arose from the dead he came and stood among the disciples. The first thing he said? “Peace be with you.” Jesus didn’t want his disciples living in fear, and he doesn’t want that for us now. His cross, the empty tomb, and his presence are meant to bring us peace.
Then, Jesus showed the disciples the wounds in his hands and his side. The 2nd thing he said? Again, “Peace be with you” but then he added “As the father has sent me, I am sending you.” Jesus had a plan to send his disciples to make him known. That’s his plan for us too.
I’d like to encourage us to live sent. I know yesterday was a big church day for a lot of us, and that’s a good thing. There’s lots of encouragement in crowds of people worshipping God. But how many people didn’t worship yesterday? My point is that so many people in this world desperately need the peace that only Jesus can bring. Jesus is sending us to share his love and message. Maybe today, remembering what we celebrated this past weekend, we can make a commitment to have a gospel conversation with someone. Something beyond the surface, taking a spiritual interest in the people around us and looking for an opportunity to share with them how Jesus has brought peace to us. In those gospel conversations we’re never alone, the Spirit leads and the power of Christ is experienced in a unique way.
Have a good day, friends. And as Jesus would say, “Peace be with you.”

**John 20:19-21

Thursday of Holy Week

Thursday of Holy Week — Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. Our Savior, knowing the cross was before him, in a dark garden of trees, prayed “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt 26:39)

Gethsemane means garden of the olive press. Olives were vitally important to 1st century Jewish life. Their oil was used for food, medicine, perfume, cosmetics, fuel for lamps, and making soap. You probably know this, olives have to crushed under the weight of a huge stone before their value is realized. Jesus was crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5) by the wrath of God and 3 days later he rose again. The value of his sacrifice continues to be realized.

Thank you Jesus for your obedience to the Father and having the unwavering courage to face the cross for us. We love you Lord. We are thankful. Let us have an ever increasing appreciation. In your name we pray, amen.

Wednesday of Holy Week — Judas

Wednesday of Holy Week — Judas agrees to sellout Jesus. The account of Judas is heartbreaking, chilling, and perplexing. How could he be that close to Jesus for so long and still reject him? If we are honest tho, we see echos of Judas in our own life, every time we seek the approval of others over God’s, when we choose our glory over His, when we desire anything more than we desire Him. Among the many things we can learn from the tragedy that is Judas’s life — it never goes well when we turn our back on Jesus. Jesus is ALWAYS better than the world’s best thing.

Lord, keep us close. We need you. We love you. We are thankful. In Jesus name, amen.

Passion Week Timeline

Passion Week or Holy Week as it is also referred to records the last week of Jesus life on earth. It’s not an understatement to say that it’s the most important week of the most important person who ever lived. The gospel narratives reflect the importance of the week. About 25% of the gospel according to Matthew records the last week of his life. For followers of Christ, this week should be a time of focused reflection. Please make use of this Passion Week Timeline and follow the events of Jesus life in his last days on earth as we approach Resurrection Sunday. Each day read a corresponding passage and try and see the event with your mind’s eye, think about it’s significance, pray and seek God for how you might live differently based on what it’s showing us.

Who is your king?

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when he was praised and hailed as King, just days before he was crucified for our sins. As we reflect on Palm Sunday, this is a great time to ask: Who is my king? Who’s the one I trust the most? Who do I most want to be like? Who’s the biggest influence in my life? These are questions that can reveal our true allegiance to a king. We NEED a king. And no politician or religious guru or anything this world has to offer will do. Only Jesus. He’s the one true King. He’s the only King who knows all, sees all, loves us enough to die in our place, and is powerful enough to overcome death to save us. 

He’s the King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s. Is He your King?

Parenting teens is HAAARD…

Parenting is hard. Parenting teens is HAAAARD 🥴I love teenagers and have a heart for their parents. There are few things worse than seeing people who love each other so much, not get along. Sadly, that’s a lot of parents and teens. Every teen is unique but some needs are consistent across the board. Here’s 5 things EVERY teenager needs:

1. Affirmation – Typically we encourage the mess out of kids during adolescence and then when they get to be teens we take more of a “Hey, grow up!” approach. I get it. And there’s some wisdom in that. But no one ever outgrows the need for encouragement. Parents of teens need to be good at saying “I believe in you”, “You can do this” and “I’m so proud of you.”

2. Discipline – They’re not too big to be disciplined. Help them understand the connection between their actions and consequences while they’re still under your roof. Yes, they’ll get mad. Then, they’ll get over it, and eventually they’ll thank you for it. 😉

3. Grace – They’re going to make mistakes. Big ones. A lot of them. Forgive, keep on forgiving and commit to loving them through it. Don’t hold their past against them. Like a good referee, call a foul when you need to, assess the penalty, and then move on. **And whatever you do, don’t give a thought to how their actions “make you look” 🙄 People are gonna talk bad about you (and your kids) because they’re the type of people who talk bad about people. Let ‘em. 🤷🏻‍♂️ Just stick with your kiddo, give Grace, and help them grow however you can.

4. Instruction – Teens may come off like prideful know it alls but they’re typically just really nervous, trying to find their way and looking for answers. Share everything you can about your faith, your values, and practical living. Hint*- when they look like they’re least attentive, might be when they’re listening the most.

5. Affection – They’re not too cool! Hug your teens often. They may bristle against it, don’t be deterred. They need it. If it’s a boy you might need to go from a headlock into a hug. That counts. My girls? I keep an arm around ‘em, hold their hand, give ‘em a kiss every chance I get. Does it embarrass them? Maybe, but it’s way down the list of things I do that embarrass them 😂 What fun is parenting if you can’t embarrass your kids! Ha.

Affirmation, discipline, grace, instruction, affection. There are many more, I’m sure. But parents, I hope you found these encouraging and helpful.

I’ve got 5 kiddos, 4 in double digits, my oldest will be 22 tomorrow 👴🏻 and one thing I’ve learned is that I’m STILL learning. 😅 It’s a journey and we’re not alone. We need the Lord every step of the way, and we need each other. ✊🏼

FOR not FROM…

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. – Jeremiah 29:7

Applies so well for followers of Christ today! This isn’t our home, Heaven is. But we’re here for a purpose! To love the people of our communities. Seek good for them. Pray to God for them. And then, in striving for the good of others? We’ll find good for ourselves as well.

🔑 Seek good things FOR others not FROM others. That’s a major shift from the way our (my) hearts typically operate. But according to God’s Word we won’t find the good we desire in trying to take. We’ll find it in striving to give.

Lord, train our hearts to think about what want FOR others, not FROM others. Help us to trust You to provide as we set our sights on being faithful. We love you, Lord. We are thankful. In Jesus name, Amen. 🙏🏼