Dance

Five Minute Friday:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat on the prompt: “Dance” with no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Go:
I am not really given to dancing. Gracefulness is not a description I’d easily wear. At a guess I would probably look like a midget immitation of Peter Garrett if I tried to dance.

The closest I’ve come to being graceful was many years ago when I was a rock climber, control and concentration made something very difficult look easy to others. A faster moving version was skiing, an exhilarating experience of being in the mountains and flowing down their flanks.

Now my moves are less agile, a lot more puffing is involved now as I walk in the freedom of fresh air and only nature’s eyes watching. Still, in such places where no one is watching, my soul still exhalts in God as at least feels like I could dance.

Stop

When good kids go bad

Over a year ago I first read a blog post written by a pastor who received a letter from a young  woman who grew up in a good Christian home and went to a Christian college. She describes how she ‘went off the rails’ at college despite being ‘a good Christian’ and that this is a common scenario.

Living in a university town and having worked on campus for many years I have seen plenty of students arrive here fresh-faced and reasonably tame, only to deteriorate into a drunken, debauched mess within months. Christian kids can find it especially hard at Otago as their peers party up and throw off parental restraints.

Very few Christians make it through their university years with faith intact. Some do, and they shine strikingly against the secular backdrop surrounding them. But unfortunately the attrition rate is huge. A shallow faith doesn’t last long in the pressure cooker of student life. Even those with deep, robust faith can find themselves stumbling.

There is no ‘easy-fix’ to this situation, it is an unavoidable trial of living in a secular nation and this is where we are called to live as salt and light. However, what has made this letter stick in my mind is what it highlights about the importance of a father’s faith and relationship with his kids:

Here are some excerpts from that letter:

… I found out when I went to college that I am not the only “good kid” who is or has struggled with or is still struggling with serious stuff. We struggle with issues like eating disorders, depression and suicide, cutting, pornography, gender identity, homosexuality, drugs, drinking, immorality, and the list could go on. We listen to “wild” music, we idolize pop culture’s heroes, we watch dirty sitcoms. We have no discrimination in our entertainment, dress, or any aspect of our lifestyle.

… the problems that are supposed to be bad kid’s problems belong to us too. Unfortunately, our parents and youth workers don’t know that we struggle with these things and they don’t know what to do with us when they find out. Quite frankly, I believe that if you grabbed the average Christian school teacher or youth worker and asked them, “What would you do if you found out that one of the kids you work with was a homosexual?” they wouldn’t know what to say.

… Our parents did not spend time teaching us to love God. Our parents put us in Sunday Schools since K4. Our parents took us to church every time the doors opened, and sent us to every youth activity. They made sure we went to good Christian colleges. They had us sing in the choir, help in the nursery, be ushers, go soulwinning. We did teen devotionals, and prayed over every meal. We did everything right. And they made sure that we did.

But they forgot about our hearts. …. Unfortunately, our fathers don’t have time for us. They put us where we are surrounded by the Bible. But they didn’t take time to show us that God was important enough to them to tell us personally about Him…

Many of us struggle with stuff that our parents have no idea about because they hardly know us.
Saddest Letter I’ve Ever Read by Cary Schmidt

My eldest child is not yet a teenager, so there remains time to deepen our relationship such that she can see for herself how my faith in Christ really works. Will I be brave enough to admit when I don’t have answers to her questions? Even tougher, will I allow her to see my struggles when I do not have answers to my own questions?

I’m not at all eager to face tough times, but maybe my children need to see me do so. They need to have seen me wrestle with hard decisions and choose to trust God. They need to see me weak and desperate yet clinging to Christ in all circumstances. As yet they are still a bit too young to understand the world of adults. What I don’t want is for them to be adults and still not understand it or have seen genuine Christian faith in action within the world they find themselves.

I would also like us to trust each other enough to be honest and share where we really are at. How will a child learn such honesty? Perhaps by seeing it in their parents’ relationship and by their father being brave enough to be open to them.

Pastor Schmidt has also posted a couple of responses to the letter, with a very good one addressed to parents here.

And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” (Malachi 4:6 ESV)

Expecting God to answer

This week’s 5 minute Friday topic is expectation:

Go

whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.
(Matthew 21:22 ESV)

I should expect answers when I pray. It would be a lie to say I always do.

Perhaps this is why I pray non-specific prayers in front of my kids, prayers which could be answered by imperceptible progress so it is harder to say definitively whether the answer has been given or not?

Why such difficulty in believing that God will give me what I ask for in prayer? Logically I know it doesn’t depend upon how well I pray, whether I select the right words, or even if I get the theology exactly correct. God, the big powerful One, He gives the answers – it all depends on Him, not me.

Jesus told us what we need in order to receive what we ask for: faith.

Faith, the same stuff which got me saved. I have no problem trusting God for my salvation, my ever-present weakness helps me to be always trusting in Christ not myself. Surely this is what He was saying about praying, ask in faith based on who Jesus is and have an expectation that He who knows all I need and ask for will give it to me.

Stop

Check out this great blog post about this very topic:  Why do healings and stuff happen there and not here?

Faith, not sight

The Friday phenomenon, 5 minute Friday in which I uses today’s prompt of see to set me off writing for 5 minutes. Join the link up over at The Gypsy Mama and read what others have written too.

Go:

for we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV)

I have already written about the importance of eyesight, both physical and spiritual. Yet there can be times – perhaps extended times – when sight is useless to us. The road ahead is enshrouded in mist and fog. Darkness keeps me from seeing what may be before me.

In these times I have no choice but to trust God, to walk in faith. Being honest, I don’t like that, even if it is good for me. I prefer to be able to see, to know what lies ahead.

But even if I could see the road ahead fully, would I make better choices? Knowing my own fears and weaknesses I am certain I would turn back if I knew whatever difficulties await me.

In this I take courage from Paul stating that he walked by faith rather than by sight. The context is that he is groaning and feeling burdened by this life, longing for glory and being home with Jesus. Yet he continues to walk in obedience.

Lord Jesus, please strengthen me to also walk in obedience.

Stop

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. (2 Corinthians 5:4-9 ESV)