Grudge Match

Who would win between the will and the heart?  Probably the one that has been fed and cared for.  As I write this I am trying to re-establish some healthy habits in my life that have been lost at various points of my adulthood.  The reason that they have lost is not because of some circumstances outside of my control.  I could have found ways to meet with God, eat better, exercise more even after my mornings were stolen by crying children.  

Why do I have visions of American Idol and Snooky in my mind when this question comes up?  Probably because the media today tells us that our heart will lead us, that we deserve what we want, that if I want it bad enough I can have it.  These are the cries of an indulged heart and a weak will, and yet when I watch some of these shows my heart will quietly cry “that’s right, you deserve good things”.  

I know that I am only strong because God makes me strong, that is the struggle that I live with.  Realizing that on the other side of telling my emotions to shut up is God providing the strength to get the job done.  Not that my emotions are bad, they just keep beating the snot out of my will. 

A Fierce Surprise

Two nights ago we had a meeting of “The Wolverines”, a fierce group of boys that get together to start to figure out what it means to be men.  We played a game in which we turned out the lights and let them run around the building and get chased with guys carrying flashlights.  Then we asked them to something that might seem impossible for most parents, we asked them to clean up.  We not only asked them to clean up the mess they made, we asked them to clean the entire building to get it ready for Sunday.  Here is the funny part, they did it… and they liked it.  

I was asked one time by a parent how I could get kids to go on mission trips and work for a whole week.  I told that parent something that initially offended them, I told them “I am not you”.  I did not mean it as an insult, and believe me I know that the most influential adult in a child’s life is their parent.  I know my own children one day will work harder for someone else than they will for me, that doesn’t change the fact that they love me.  Kids many times will look for other people to mentor them, and will look for ways they can assert their independence.  I don’t look forward to that happening with my own children, but it will and its natural.  

These Wolverines did a great job cleaning the building and they had a great time.  The next morning during announcement time the presenter mentioned that this group of fierce boys cleaned the building.  Then he asked The Wolverines to stand up.  They not only stood up, but they looked proud.  Can you imagine the shock in the room when they found out that the group of people in the building that normally gets blamed for destroying it, actually cleaned it.

Unused Power

As I sang a Matt Maher song this morning with my daughter in my arms I ran into a common problem of mine.  It is a problem that I normally have when a movie or a lyric alludes to the relationship between and father and son, or a father and daughter.  The lyric that I could not get out of my mouth this morning was “for all the fatherless looking for approval, for all the daughters who never heard their beautiful”…..

I am such a sap, I start choking up.  My wife knows this about me, it is my kryptonite.  Maybe it stems from the fact that I have been working with youth for fifteen years.  Maybe it is just that I am a parent of three boys and a girl.  I am not sure that some parents understand the power they wield.  As a youth pastor I can tell you first hand that a girl will have sex with a boy simply because a father would not let them know they are valuable whether through words or actions.  A boy will enter a performance/disappointment cycle simply because a parent would not tell them they were good enough.

This power could be changing the world for good, and yet it seems to be causing a great deal of destruction.  Parents don’t need to move buildings with their thoughts, they simply need to affirm what is true of their children, they are worthy of their parents love.  Too many times I have seen that a parent never felt worthy of their own parents love, so they don’t feel as though they have anything to pass on.  As someone that has worked with so many children and parents let me empower you right now, you are worthy of love, now please let your kids know that they are today.


Prayer Misperceived

I have always been told that prayer is a life changing practice, but the kind of prayer that I have experienced in my life could be described as anything but.  I would not dare to judge or criticize those that pray in the way that discourages me because often I am accused of praying in the same manner.  I also would not condemn the kind of prayer that I will describe because I believe that it has merit for a time and circumstance. 

The kind of prayer that I am talking about, the one that does not transform, is the one that is a mere volley of requests .  You know the one I am talking about, sometimes born out of pain, or despair, sometimes born out of mere egocentrism.  Regardless of motive, it is the form that misses out on the intention of prayer.  The form is intended to be a dialogue not a monologue (as I hope this blog will be if any followers find it).  David’s prayers were filled with praises and descriptions of God, descriptions of the condition of his own heart, and also requests.  Yet David at all points, as Jesus in the Garden, seemed to realize that this was about God’s will and not his own.  

I believe that can transform our prayer more then anything, pouring ourselves out to God and then acknowledging his ultimate purposes are paramount.  The more I pray in this way, the less I request things from God, whether well intentioned or not.