Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Stressed Out!

This week's question concerns STRESS and how our young people see the stress level in their homes. We will look at two questions from the questionnaire that read as follows:
1.)On a scale of 1-10, 10 being fingernails on a chalkboard, I would say the tension between me and my parents is a: _________

2.)On the same scale, I would say the tension between my parents is a __________

I grouped the answers as 1-3 Little to None, 4-7 rather consistent, 8-10 Extreme high levels. Here are the results:
Question One: Little to None...59% Rather Consistent...25%, Extreme High Levels...16%

Question Two: Little to None...54%, Rather Consistent...22%, Extreme High Levels...24%

Thus we learn from our IFB young people that the tension between them and their parents is for over half rather non existent, 25% feel they have a rather consistent tension between them and their parents, while only 16% feel an extreme level of tension between them and their parents. Shouldn't that be much lower in our IFB homes? Are you feeling stressed?
It is interesting to note that the question 2 results nearly mirror the question one results, except our young people feel more of their parents are having some serious tension.
In my life, in my experience in serving in the ministry (youth ministry, bus ministry, school ministry, pastor...)I can unfortunately testify that too many of our homes are places of tension and struggle rather than peace and security. I have heard and hear far more "AAAHHH, I am about at my wits end" than I do "What a joy my family is." I've been to too many homes to break up fights than I wish to share. Children talking bad about their parents and vice versa. Ahhh, the stress!
It breaks our hearts to hear children speak indignantly about their parents, as it also does to hear parents constantly seeking ways to avoid spending time with their children.
Too many dads are shaking hands with others at church while going out of their way to be kind to every brother and sister; but they can't find a good word to say at home. Fighting, yelling, slamming doors, silence, and whimpers seemingly are more common than singing, praying, and laughing in our homes. Work, bills, practice, school, meetings are constant; while money, sharing, conversing, and unity are missing. The stress is overwhelming!
We will save the "divorce: right or wrong" debate for a later time; but this I know-The Lord hates divorce (Mal. 2:16). If the Lord hates something, we should do our best to avoid it at all cost. Yet, Baptist homes are being torn apart daily by the vice of divorce. Usually this is centered on the fact that an individual (or both) are not being pleased. We even read of children seeking divorces from their parents due to a lack of being 'loved', money issues, and even the parent not buying their child a nintendo ( Are you stressed yet?
Quick marriage Advice from Ephesians 5 and 6: Husbands, your example is Christ. Everything that Christ is to the church, so we should be to our wives (Counsel, Strength, Nurturer, Forgiver, Sustainer, Empowerer, Answer, Love...). Husbands love our wives as Christ loved us. Wives, Submit and Reverence Your Husband. Allow him to be the head of the home and act upon it. Praise him for the work he does for the home. Children, obey and honour your parents (no exception clauses given). Fathers, don't provoke your children to wrath, but admonish them (quit calling them 'stupid' and correct them in ways that create a desire in them to serve our Lord.) The stress is easing off.
Let's start doing things the Bible way and claim the promises of God. Fathers, get the hearts of your children by first turning your hearts towards them. Let's give up our Tuesday softball night, fishing with the men on Friday night, and golf game somewhere between, and read a book with our daughter. Let's turn off the T.V. one night and talk. Let's all sit around the supper table and eat together. Let's end the night sitting on the porch with a White Castle Iced Tea (or Sonic) with a breeze blowing softly, trying to count the lightning bugs that are in the yard. Ahh, stress subsiding.
Mom's lets give up the extra curriculars and have dinner ready a few times this week that was actually cooked on a stove or in an oven and not in a microwave or a drive thru window. Let's have the clothes set out the night before with the belt and both shoes rather than have the stressed out clothes scavenger hunt every morning. Let's sing while we fold the laundry, and teach your daughter how to sew a button back on. O.k. maybe a little stress coming back on, but it's temporary and will lead to much more peace down the road.
The Home is to be a picture of Christ and the church. The home should be a picture of the love, peace, and joy that Christ brings to our lives. Sadly, this is not the case for too many of our homes. Instead of serenity, we have stress! Instead of peace, we have problems. Instead of laughing, we have loudness.
Dad and mom, strive to be Christ-like and the example of Godly love to your children. Children, honour and obey your parents, and communicate with them freely.
I believe the Devil hates the home for what it portrays, and our Lord takes the home and marriage seriously for what it portrays. God does not deal lightly with such (see Moses and striking the rock a second time). We need to reverence the home more, practice principles laid out in Scripture, and Cease the stress!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What a Crowd!

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Hebrews 12:1-2a

As Pastor Burke pointed out, the main reason for sports participation is pride. Let's be honest - it feels good to be in the spotlight. What else explains the modern trend of reality tv? The desire to be seen and known - pride. Here is our problem - we no longer look at life through the lens of Scripture. It is no longer a matter of "What does God's Word say about it?" Today we settle for
"Well, I don't see a problem with it." It is, quite simply, the difference between walking in the flesh and walking in the Spirit. It's time we get back to the basics, something we seem to have neglected the past few decades. Many have perhaps heard of the great basketball coach from UCLA's past, John Wooden. What many may not know is that while building a basketball dynasty, he was doing something far more important - bulding lives. He attributed his success not in what he won, but in what he was able to teach his players. He didn't just pay lip service to "winning isn't everything", he actually lived it. But he did it by teaching his players the importance of submitting themselves and denying themselves.

Now let me get back to my title and text. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. I have to wonder to myself at times, if they were able to observe what goes on down here, what would they think about how we are running the race? What would be their reaction to what they see? We would have to admit, I think, that they would not be that impressed; when the very faith that they died for, we can hardly muster up the energy to show up for; when the things they suffered torture and persecution for not denying, we can hardly deny ourselves a few minutes extra sleep for. Today in our church service we sang the old hymn "Faith of our Fathers." This stanza caught my eye -
Our fathers, chained in prisons dark, were still in heart and conscience free:
How sweet would be their children's fate, If they like them, could die for thee!
How far we've come! Would we pray that same pray for our young people? Would it be considered an honor for them to give their lives for the cause of the Savior? Can we be honest enough with ourselves to give an honest answer? What then, in this life, would be more important? Money? Security? Fame?

...who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2b