Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Teen or Monster?

It’s coming! Only five years from now I will be a parent to a teenager and call me na├»ve but I can’t wait.  I can’t wait for the out of control hormones, the push to be independent w/o really knowing what that means, the struggle to find who he is while still being under the wing of our parenting, the pimples, the crushes, the homework that I have no clue how to help because it’s been too long.

What will his first job be?  Will he be ready to get his driver’s license at 16 or will he procrastinate like his father did? His first date, I wonder who she will be?  I’m not in it so right now I can dream about it and be excited, even while being a bit terrified. Okay, hugely terrified. J So yes I know it’s going to be harder than I’ve ever imagined but I can’t wait!

Here’s what I want to say to anyone who is willing to listen.  If you have a teen right now please enjoy them.  I know they are different than what you were at that age, but your parents said the same thing and it probably irritated you.  In this age of technology it’s easy to think that they don’t use their imagination enough, they aren’t outside enough, they are on their phones too much and you can’t even keep up with their apps.

Have you tried?  Have you learned what Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and Twitter and all the others are?  Do you get involved in their lives (to the extent that they desire) and know who they are?  They aren’t just monsters that live under your roof that you can’t wait to get rid of.  They are people with a future, a past and a present.

So rather than be on a soapbox especially since I do not have a teenager just yet, let me implore you to enjoy your teenager.  Let them know that you are there to listen when they need you, there to instruct them, to tutor them, to guide them, yes even to discipline them when they need it.  The point is you are there for it all, not just the parts you want to be or just when you have to do it, or when you’ve reached your boiling point, but always there to enjoy life with them.

Enjoy them, love them, train them, dream with them, never ever give up on them (see prodigal son) and watch them grow!

P.S. I’ve been on the other side as a youth minister and have heard what the teens want most from their parents, and trust me it isn’t always what they tell you because they are afraid you might not be willing to listen so they often hold back. 
P.P.S – Be careful what you say when you’re “joking”.

In Christ, Lance

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Butterfly Transformation

It’s the typical feel good Disney story, the awkward, socially unacceptable ugly duckling becomes the beautiful princess.  Cinderella, the Princess Bride, the Beauty and the Beast etc. And it’s not always the beautiful woman, sometimes it’s an awkward boy who becomes the sports hero, or an animated animal who’s shy and becomes a leader.

Stories of transformation sell, especially if they are based on real life.  The Biggest Loser takes someone who is really struggling and even in danger of losing their life and gives them a chance to succeed in life.  A child becomes an adult in a span of some 18 years, seeds become plants or flowers over a couple of months, and a caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly in about 10 days.

But here’s the thing, that caterpillar is still there, so is the awkward kid, or the fairy tale character.  The outward change is really a compliment of what was already on the inside.  And it’s no surprise because that is the way that God works as well.  He creates us all of us unique, with different personalities, character traits, outward features, skills, talents, abilities.  But none of that matters in regards to the transformation I want to talk about today.

1 Co. 15:50-57 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.  But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.
53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. 54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: "Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" 56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. NLT

That is why this transformation is such a beautiful picture.  It combines the human stories with the beauty of a butterfly in flight.  An older gentleman whose time had come, an unborn baby who never got to experience life on earth, a child who was born with a terminal disease and never lived to be a teenager, the young lady killed in a car crash, those who fought and eventually lost their battle with cancer, the soldier who died protecting our freedoms.  They all have one thing in common.  A spirit that lives on beyond the grave.  And for the believer, death is the opportunity for the most amazing butterfly transformation ever and it’s a permanent one.

Grieving takes many steps and appears in many forms and I’m not here to condemn or judge anyone’s reaction to their loss, but the Bible tells us something about hope.  I’d like to end today with this Scripture.  1 Thess 4:13-14 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
The chance to see our loved one transformed into a beautiful butterfly figuratively speaking is an anticipation that helps us deal with the pain we currently feel.  May you gain some hope from these words.

In Christ, Lance