Monday, May 18, 2015

Parents, not Friends

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One of the easiest ways to fail as a parent is to try to be your child's friend. I have often been guilty of this. The negative consequences when a parent wants to be their child's friend are obvious. They establish a peer relationship, confusing the child on who's really in-charge and the result is that every parent-child interaction becomes a frustrating negotiation. This eliminates the predicability and consistency essential for a child to feel secure as he matures.

What may be worse than when a parent wants to be their child's friend is when a parent wants their child to be THEIR friend. I mean when a parent leans on a child for the sort of support they should be getting from other adults. This is the mom who wants to go to the mall with her teenage daughter instead of with other women her age. This is the dad who complains to his son about how much mom is nagging lately. This is the parent who uses their child as a sounding board for all their insecurities and frustrations.

We needn't hide our struggles from our children. But we also shouldn't look to them to provide our emotional support system. Sadly, I see this is happening more and more. Children need to be confident and secure in the leadership and love of their parents. When we force them to bear the burden of our struggles we put on them a load they are not equipped to bear.

So do the hard work to fix your marriage...find a peer to provide you accountability and counsel...most of all lean on God to provide you the support you need. God gave you His children to raise, guide, and support...not to fill in the cracks of your own brokenness.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Seeing With Jesus' Eyes

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When we truly love the way that Jesus does, chances are we are going to have to love some unlovely people.

Jesus looks over the city where His people have rejected Him generation after generation. Jerusalem had a nasty habit of killing prophets whose message wasn't "listener-friendly." In fact, this verse takes place just a few days before the people of this city will yell out praises for Him one day and then demand for Him to be crucified the next. And yet you can feel the longing in His words. His voice aches with a desire for them to stop their unhappy rebellions and to let Him love them the way he has longed to since He created the world.

That's how He calls us to love. With a passion that often seems illogical. With a persistence that often seems maniacal. And always with a firm faith in the power of the Love of God to bring restoration, wholeness and healing.

Loving like this makes us vulnerable...to rejection, to ridicule, to disappointment. The love of Jesus is fearless. It dares to risk everything with very little reason to hope that any real change will be accomplished. But it is this daring love that brought Jesus to our world and it is this daring love that Jesus calls us to: following Him with reckless abandon to love those who will likely reject us, trusting that God will use our love to soften hard hearts, heal broken hearts, warm cold hearts, and resurrect dead hearts.

This is the work that God is always doing...when we dare to love like Jesus does, He may well use us to do it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Allowing Myself to Feel

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One of the things I'm learning about myself is that my brain is a big, huge bully...specifically to my heart. Anytime I have a strong feeling, my brain immediately takes over and rationalizes away the emotion.
Recently, I got let down by someone I should have expected more from. I was in a place and revealed something about myself that invited support and concern and, sadly, I didn't get any of that. When Toni asked me how that made me feel, my response was, "I was disappointed but not surprised." 
While I had every right to expect that I would be loved and supported, the fact that it didn't happen wasn't really a huge surprise. Therefore, my brain took over...I immediately returned to my emotional set point and got on with my day.
What's obvious to me now is that this is simply a way to protect myself. From disappointment...from sadness...from confrontation. But by denying my feelings, I'm failing to honor and listen to a huge part of who God has made me to be. 
I HAVE EMOTIONS! (Saying that out loud is a victory for me.)
God desires for me to love Him with all my "HEART, soul, mind & strength." Heart is 25% of that equation. For too long I've denied access of that quarter of myself to God. 
So, I'm going to allow my heart a little time to breathe. Turn my brain off and just sit with what I'm feeling and see what God does with it. At the end of the day, I have to give what I'm feeling to God and trust that He will protect me. 






Monday, May 11, 2015

Holding Out

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One of the biggest mistakes I've made in my life is holding out on doing something that I know is needed just because it's big or scary or may reflect badly on me. I was reluctant to discuss ADHD with our pediatrician because I thought it reflected poorly on my parenting. I was reluctant to ask Toni to clean the gutters because I can't stand on a ladder and it made me feel like a man-failure. And I was reluctant to speak to a proessional counselor because I thought it wasn't "for me." Boy was I wrong...on all three. 

About 6 months ago I started spending and hour once a week with a Godly man whose paitience and insights have been nothing less than the hand of God working in my life. Dr. Phil Foster has been an amazing mentor, counselor, spiritual director, rebuker, challenger and friend. I truly belive that these past months have been a significant turning point in my life.  I will always look back on these moments when God broke in and used Phil's calm voice to challenge me to be the man He made me to be. Thanks to Phil's ministry to my family, God is healing a hurting marrriage, restoring a wandering child, and gave me the tools to become the leader my family needs.

Thank you, Phil. Thank you for your ministry. Thank you for your kind heart. Thank you for your gentle challenges. Thank you for letting God use your compassion for people to heal the brokenness in their lives. I know God has used you to begin the healing in my life.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Divine Appointment

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I'm working thorugh a reading plan that goes through the Bible chronologically. A couple days ago I was reading Exodus 25. It's alot of technical details about the furniture in the tabernacle. (Not exactly devotional reading.) However, one verse stuck with me...Exodus 25:21-22. God tells Moses to make a statue of two angels and place them on top of the ark of the covenant. These two angels are called the "Mercy Seat." God tells Moses, "Put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and...there I will meet with you." 

I was just struck with that idea. There was a place where God promised he would show up. Like a divine date...this place...this time..."I'll be there." I was almost jelous of the Isrealites to have such a concrete promise of God's presence. 

But then God reminded me of another promise that Jesus made a couple thousand years later. "Behold, I am with you always..." This wasn't a promise to show up once a year, in a specfic place, for one specific person. This was Jesus declaring the God was going global & personal. Now God wasn't locked away in the back room of an ornate temple.  He was in it with us. At our schools & at our jobs. In our homes and in our cars. Wherever we are...he's right there with us.

I reminded myself how much an ancient Isrealite would envy the promise I was taking for granted. I reminded myself I need to be so much more mindful of the presence of God. He is there, we must only recognize it.

When I'm praying, I make a bad habit of asking God to "be with" this or that situation. I wonder if God ever just says to himself...I"m already there, Doug. 

A much better prayer is "make me aware of your presence, God." It's not that I need God to show up...I need to be looking for what He's already doing. Where is He leading? What does He have for me in this? What is He preparing for me? What is He protecting me from? I need to stop looking for a magic moment of divine appointment & recognize His ongoing & intimate presence.

How do you keep in the habit of staying aware of God's presence?
 

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