Are You Peculiar?

Are you peculiar?
Do people look at you as odd or different?  Do you find being called “peculiar” offensive? 
The definition of peculiar is one who is odd or strange in nature and behavior.  One who is distinctive in character from others.  One who belongs exclusively to one person or group.  Now, does that describe you as a Christian?  Let me explain…
Paul writes to Titus in chapter 2 on the duties and responsibilities of the seasoned followers of Christ to the younger, newer believers.  He closes chapter 2 with a reiteration of the Gospel and who we are in Him.  In verse 14 he says, “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”  emphasis mine
That phrase, “His own possession”, is a Greek word meaning peculiar.  It is a compound of two words that apart mean, to be around.  So let me see if I can better explain just how truly wonderful it is to be peculiar in Him by the way Ken Wuest describes it.
Draw a circle.  In the middle of the circle, draw a dot.  Now label the circle, God and label the dot, follower of Christ.  Let’s notice some things about this circle and dot.
The circle completely monopolizes the dot.  The circle has the dot all to itself.  Nothing can get to the dot unless it comes into contact and is allowed to cross through by the circle. 
Now do you see how truly powerful it is to be His possession, to be peculiar in Him?  God has us all to Himself. We are His own, private possession.  No temptation or trial can reach us unless it goes through God first, 1 Cor. 10:13. As we walk, stay obedient and repentive, in the center of God’s Will, He will not permit the enemy to confront us with a temptation too great for us, nor can a time of testing or trial reach us unless it comes through the permissive will of god and when that happens, God’s grace will be given to bear that temptation/trial. 
So when others look at us, do they see a peculiar person?  One who is distinctive in character from others?  One who belongs to Christ Jesus because of their words, actions, and deeds?  I should hope so. 

So here is to being peculiar!

Guardrails Are Only as Good as The Road

Starting this Thursday, I am excited to pass on Jonathan McKee’s series on “Guardrails.” Jonathan McKee is the president of The Source for Parents and is the author of numerous books including the new Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent, and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers, Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation, and the award winning book Do They Run When They See You Coming? Jonathan came and spoke to our families at Eastern Hills. His truth and candidness was refreshing and very eye-opening. Jonathan and his wife Lori, and their three teenagers Alec, Alyssa and Ashley live in California. Here is the first of 5 articles in this series.

This week I’m posting a series in this blog about the guardrails parents need to set along the road of life. After all, I’m asked the same question at every parenting workshop I teach. It usually sounds something like this: “In a culture that provides so many profane distractions that are impossible to dodge, what guardrails should I set to protect our kids?”

Nothing like being under the gun—when I’m asked that question during a ‘question & answer’ time where the format provides only one to two minutes for answers. I’m always thinking, I teach a two hour workshop on this very subject… how am I gonna answer this in two minutes!

I guess the short answer is this:

Guardrails are only part of any road taken. The biggest question to consider is… where is this road going?

This brings up the foundational issue of ones values. What are your values based on? What is your purpose? If our kids are true believers, then hopefully, they are putting Christ at the center of their life and seeking to become more like Him. All their decisions should flow from this sense of value and purpose. The boundaries we impose should probably keep them from veering off course, but not end up being roadblocks to learning healthy discernment.

Embarking on the Road of Biblical Truth
Our kids need to be hearing the truth. So instead of just setting up rules like, “No R-rated movies”, instead parents need to consider some bigger more foundational questions:
1.Are your kids hearing the truth from God’s word in the home?
2.Do you have a regular time where you meet with your kids—breakfast, coffee, etc.—to build into them and teach them lasting values?
3.Are your kids plugged into a church where they hear Godly teaching?
4.Do your kids have another adult mentor that is discipling them and/or encouraging them in their relationship with God?

If these venues where values are communicated don’t exist, then where is the undergirding for your rules?

The Bible is our best source of truth that will guide their decision-making. For example, when our kids are at school and they are questioning how to treat others, they might reflect on a passage they digested last summer at their Bible study:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2: 3-4, NIV)

As they consider this truth from God’s Word, they realize that they need to consider the needs of others. In the same way, if a teenage boy or girl begins to see sex as something recreational, because almost every character on TV and movies seems to believe this, they will remember what they read in their time along reading the Bible last week:

Flee from sexual immorality (sex outside of marriage). All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. (I Corinthians 6: 18, NIV, parenthetical mine)

The Bible provides truth from which much of their decision-making can flow.

So, am I saying that if our kids read the bible… they don’t need any boundaries from us?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

1.Our guardrails help provide the accountability that keeps them on course. They might have full intention on not having sex before they’re married, but they lack the wisdom and discernment to understand exactly what “fleeing” looks like. Your son might not realize that hanging out at his girlfriends house when her parents aren’t home is flirting with disaster. Your daughter might not realize the pressure that a boyfriend can put on her when she puts herself in precarious situations.
2.The Bible doesn’t provide guardrails for everything. What time should our kids go to bed? Should junior high boys shower every day? Can our teenagers leave their cell phones powered on and available on their nightstand all night long? The Bible doesn’t touch on these issues, but parents might need to enforce rules that help their kids (especially younger kids) learn some of this basic wisdom.

Parents can help their kids stay on course by setting guardrails.

So what are some common guardrails that we might want to consider setting?

Next Thursday I will continue this series with Jonathan’s post, “No Rules by Age 17½.”

Dirty Windows or Blurred Vision?

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? —Matthew 7:3

I recently read a story about a business owner who constantly complained about the dirty windows of his competitor’s store, directly across the street from his own. Perhaps it was just his pet peeve, but the store owner complained continually to other business owners in the community about how his competitor’s dirty windows were a disgrace to the community, and how it could reflect poorly on his own business.

Another local shopkeeper, tired of hearing the owner’s ongoing complaints, suggested that he set a good example and wash his own store windows. The store owner took the shopkeeper’s advice and washed his own windows. The following day, the two met for coffee and the store owner remarked, “You were right. It worked! As soon as I washed my windows, my competitor must have washed their store windows also! This morning I noticed from my store that they were clean and shining!”

The store owner had simply suffered from blurred vision. He judged his competitor wrongly! When he cleaned the windows of his own store, he was able to see that his competitor’s windows were also clean!

Sometimes, we look at others with blurred vision. We see things in other people’s lives that we don’t think are right or acceptable and find fault with them. We judge them. Sometimes, like the store owner we complain to others about the faults we think we see. But, too often when we find fault in others it is simply because our own vision is blurry. I know, for example, when I find fault in others it is often regarding issues I have in my own life. I find that I have a tendency to project real faults in myself – onto others – who most likely don’t have those faults at all. Jesus warns us not to judge others (Matthew 7:1) and addresses the issue saying, “…first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).

Today, when you are tempted to judge or complain about someone, take a moment first to see if it is only your own vision that is blurred.

4 principles for raising your kids… while doing ministry

This week’s guest blog post is from Doug Fields. I for one am very skeptical on the viewed “perception” of PK’s (Pastor’s Kids) and what is being portrayed on Lifetime’s show, Preacher’s Daughters. Since Kerry and I have lived the life thus far with two daughters who are PK’s, I am cautious and deliberate on being active in raising our daughters. Doug’s blog hits this right on the head for me. Since he shared so much of what I was feeling, I just rather share his entire blog.

4 principles for raising your kids… while doing ministry
by doug fields

I was honored to be asked to speak at the HIM Conference this last weekend in Waiki, HI. It’s an amazing conference with strong communicators such as Francis Chan, Tony Campolo, Dr. Gary Chapman (5 Love Language fame), and Nancy Duarte (who presented a fascinating message on communication). I had never been and I hope to return… a really good conference.

One of the workshops I presented there was titled, Raising Kids While Doing Ministry. When I was a young minister I feared that ministry would wound my family. I had heard numerous stories of the crazed “PK” (pastor’s kid) who was out of control—they were common stories. Actually, this premises still seems to gather attention and is currently being promoted by the show Preachers’ Daughter.

Today, our kids are 24, 21, & 18 and all love Jesus, the church, and their family. Raising our kids in ministry worked for us and wasn’t the colossal failure that I had feared.

When Cathy and I sat down to identify some principles that could be connected to intentional actions, we came up with the following four. I’m sure there’s more, but these are ones we can say that we intentionally sought out. They are:

1.The PERKS principle: we included our kids in our ministry as soon as they were born. Our kids got to go places and do things that most kids didn’t (camps and conferences). There are perks of being in ministry—you just have to look for them (i.e. keys to the sanctuary, access to the church kitchen/refrigerator, a flexible schedule, etc…).

2.The PEOPLE principle: we surrounded our kids with incredibly wonderful people, friends & mentors. Meetings in our home, amazing volunteers, interns and staff that rubbed shoulders with our family. These were the people who baby-sat, hung-out with, mentored and led our kids closer to Jesus. Our children were influenced by a community of amazing people and we are so grateful.

3. The PRESENCE principle: Because of the flexibility of a ministry schedule (perk), we arranged everything within our calendars to be at our kids’ stuff. Since I didn’t work a 9-5, M-F type job, I had the freedom to attend events during the day and coach sports in the afternoon. Ministry kept us busy, but our calendar time kept us focused and present. Our children have adopted this principle and are now present for us and one another.

4. The PERFORMANCE principle: We allowed and encouraged them to be themselves. Ministers teach their congregation that they should be who God created them to be… but, so often within ministry, families want their kids to be who “others” want them to be. This was a tough one for me, but with the help of my wife, I worked hard not to allow my own insecurity (what others would think of me) to wound our children. We became aware at a young age that we needed to either focus on their behavior (behavior modification) or focus on following Jesus. As much as they didn’t feel pressure from us, we soon realized that they would feel pressure from others (about being PK’s) and that pressure (from others) was more than enough.

We weren’t perfect parents! You won’t be either, but the stories that scared me about raising kids in ministry aren’t the only stories out there. The story that was written about family and ministry is one we’d want written again… and we’d want it for others too.

Romancing Your Wife – 20 Ideas

It seems that during this crazy and fast paced life we all live as husband and wife, and especially as the years increase in our marriages, we forget to romance our spouses. We forget how we treated them when we were dating. They were all we could think of.  We spent many an hour coming up with ways we could show them we love them…then comes children, then comes careers, then comes life…
I was surprised by 5 large, red, Mylar heart balloons today from Kerry. When I asked her what they were for, she replied, “I just wanted you to know how much I love you.” She went out of her way to “romance” me. Yes, we will serve each other as we go throughout the daily routine; however, she went out and did something above and beyond, yet very simple, to just say, “I love you.”
It got me to thinking, when was the last time I truly “romanced” my wife? When was the last time I showed her that I am still madly in love with her by being simply romantic? So as I thought about this, I also tried to come up with 20 ways to romance my wife. As I wrote these down, I also realized that I have not done all these, but I should take time to. We are to be “one flesh” with our wives, we are to be active in our marriages, to “serve and preserve” the families God has ordained for each of us. I will use this list as a stepping stone and become more active in the “romance” of my beloved.
Hopefully you will find some of these helpful too…
1. Develop a special sign or secret word just for her that communicates your love.
2. Using dry-erase markers, leave a note to your sweetie on the bathroom mirror.
3. Look in her eyes and just listen.
4. Over coffee ask your wife, “What are the three most romantic times we’ve had together?” Remember what they are and make plans to do them again.
5. Next time you’re sitting with your wife in church, reach out and put your arm around her.
6. Hold her hand whenever you are in public together.
7. Compliment your wife in front of others-especially your kids! You may be the only one in her life who’s doing it.
8. Take time out of your day and cook her dinner. Then have a quiet dinner together. You also clean up too.
9. Leave roses in the front seat of her vehicle-just because.
10. Send her flirtatious text messages for her eyes only.
11. Arrange a date with your wife at least once a month. Mark it on the calendar and take the initiative to make it happen.
12. Next time your favorite team or show is on TV, skip it and take her shopping or out to dinner. Spend time with her instead. Let her know she is the most important person on this earth.
13. Ask your wife to write down three things she’d like you to start doing, three things she’d like you to stop doing, and three things she’d like you to keep doing. Read the list and do it.
14. Arrange for a babysitter and then whisk your wife away on a special day filled with fun things she enjoys.
15. Remember how much you talked when you were dating? How polite you were? Try that for one week and watch what happens.
16. Make each other laugh.
17. Leave her a scavenger hunt of notes and clues for a romantic getaway. Make it another honeymoon and invest in your marriage.
18. Remain faithful to your wife in your heart, in your mind, and in your actions!
19. Remember your wife is God’s gift to you. Thank Him for her daily, and then tell her you did so.
20. Ask God to reveal to you how you can love her like you have never loved her before and how you will never love her like that again, then do it!
Finally, chocolates never hurt either…
So husbands, in closing the best romantic advice I can share with you, “If you want to be a stronger husband, then focus on becoming a stronger disciple of Jesus.” I know for a fact that Kerry finds that the most romantic act I can share with her.

Daylight Savings Torture … I Mean, Time

With the “delightful” Spring forward that occurred this weekend, I thought this post was worth re-sharing!

I’ve certainly heard it and thought it a million times: “Time changes were created by someone who doesn’t have children.”

Trying to get children adjusted to a suddenly adjusted schedule can be daunting at best and torturous at worst. No one wants to go to bed when it’s light outside. Hopes of a later bedtime meaning a later wake-up are often crushed by disoriented toddlers.

Here are some tips on getting your children adjusted to the time change:
Don’t skip naps in hopes of having your child go to sleep earlier. Overtired children often resist sleep.
If your child is old enough to understand, explain the time change and why it began. Not only will this help them understand why it is light outside at 8 p.m., it makes a great history lesson at home!
Don’t be too stringent about bedtime the first week after the time change. Let kids go to sleep 30-45 minutes later than normal and edge back toward their regular bedtime. Keep their routine the same, though, because those steps can communicate “bedtime” more than outside conditions.
A friend suggests having your child use a sleeping mask as young as age 4. This helps block out sunlight and allows them to get to sleep despite light coming in the windows. She said it really did the trick for her daughter!

Also interesting is that exercise helps your body produce seratonin, which aids in resetting your internal clock. So if you are having difficulty adjusting yourself, a good workout might be the remedy!

Adult Child

Our guest writer again this week is John Rosemond, a Christian family counselor and psychologist. Great article on how to deal with the “adult child” in our lives that never seems to grow up. Enjoy…

Adult Child
by John Rosemond

Question: My husband and I have a 21-year-old daughter from his first marriage. She was suspended from college for bad grades and is waiting out her time until she can go back. Meanwhile, she works for my husband to earn a little spending money, but rent and food are free. The problem is that her work performance is consistently poor and she is consistently disrespectful. She won’t listen to instructions and takes forever to do anything. Meanwhile, her dad is going slowly insane. She’s disrespectful at home as well. I think he should fire her; then we should kick her out of the house and let her fend for herself. What do you think?

Answer: Whenever someone asks me if I intend to ever write a book on how to deal with irresponsible, disrespectful young adult children, I answer, “Well, no publisher will accept a book that consists of only two words: Stop Enabling!” As long as this child (her chronological age may be 21, but I estimate her emotional age at 14) can do as she pleases and still enjoy all the comforts of home, she will continue to do as she pleases.

Yes, give her her walking papers, and the sooner the better for all concerned. That is, believe me, the only solution. To grow up, this child needs to experience the slings and arrows of the real world and learn to deal with them without protections. That applies to a lot of young adults these days, by the way.

Copyright 2012, John K. Rosemond