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Next Level Parent Blog

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8/16/17 – Lies we Believe…

Recent events in Charlottesville, VA are the latest in a string of violent racial conflicts that have developed in our country over the last several years. It’s disgusting to see these stories of hate and intolerance spreading through America. It reminds us of a very dark reality; that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

Sin destroys two meaningful relationships: 1. Our relationship with God, and 2. Our relationship with others. God’s greatest command was to love Him and others unconditionally (Matthew 22:37-39). When we boil it down, anything that damages one of those two relationships is sinful. Therefore, no matter how much a person tries to justify it, racism is sinful and contrary to the teachings of Jesus.

But how did we get to this point? Why are people at each other’s throats? Why can’t we pull together and move towards compassion and understanding?

My theory is that we believe lies sold to us by our enemy intended to drive us apart. The Bible says this about the devil: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). We have to realize when lies are being offered to us and reject them if we’re going to move towards love in our communities.

Here are three lies from Satan that we have to renounce:

“You’re better than them!” – Our enemy loves to pit us against each other by convincing us that we’re better or more worthy. The reason he loves to use this lie is because he knows that at our core we are actually more alike than we are different. Yes, God has made us unique and there’s no one on the planet like you, but humans share many similarities that should be celebrated. We all desire love, we all need hope, we all long for friendship, we all want to be a part of something greater, we all have the ability to learn, and we all are capable of communicating. Of most importance is the fact that we are all “made in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). When we choose to believe that some are better than others, the “Us vs. Them” mentality infiltrates. We’ve got to see each other as God does if we’re ever going to come together.

“Violence is the only way!” – Satan helps us justify our violent attitudes. He convinces people that bloodshed is the most effective tool for proving a point. What we’ve seen though is that violence only breeds more violence. It is an infectious, terminal disease and it has to be stopped! The Bible says that “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). Love is incredibly hard but it’s undeniably powerful. When the hatred ends and love begins, we thrive! We have to embrace 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

“Things will always be this way!” – Unfortunately we are often pessimistic and choose to believe that things will never change. We label people as this or that based on quick judgements. Then, we write off entire groups of people and refuse to believe that change is possible. But there is another way! Paul said in Galatians 2:20 that, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” If we are going to believe the best about each other we have to crucify our own attitudes. People and circumstances will change for the better when we begin to cast aside sinful misconceptions and judgements.

Would you join me in defeating these lies? Would you talk with your teen about how to recognize these lies before they develop further into action? Would you make it a point to choose love instead of division? We need each other if we are going to pursue a deeper relationship with God and others.

Praying for you,

P


8/9/17 – A Different Kind of School Year…

As a teenager I would always get a pit in my stomach around the first week of August. I knew that school was right around the corner and there was nothing I could do about it. I could hear the theme song from “Jaws” playing in my head as new teachers lined up ready to devour me.  

What I’ve realized now is just how hard teachers work. As a kid you never really see the hours, money, and time your teacher invests in you. Also, you never know what they’re dealing with at home and the issues going on in their life. It’s clear that they often don’t receive the appreciation and respect they deserve. 

So, what if this school year was different? What if you and your student took a greater interest in the lives of the teachers, staff, and administrators at school? What if every weekday your family lifted up a specific prayer for those who work so hard to educate our teenagers?

Here is a simple five day calendar you can put on the fridge to remind you and your teen pray for those in our school system. Ask God to give them clarity of mind, energy to serve, and renewed purpose. Lift up their family and friends and ask the Lord to bless the socks off them this school year!

    • Monday – Pray for your school principal and vice-principals

    • Tuesday – Pray for your student’s teachers

    • Wednesday – Pray for coaches and club sponsors

    • Thursday – Pray for the staff (office workers, custodians, assistants, security, etc.)

    • Friday – Pray for the parent leadership organizations

Above all, pray that followers of Christ on campus will rise up and be a light to those living in darkness. Pray for courage to share the Gospel and love of Christ. 

Praying for you,

P


8/2/17 – Teenagers want to matter!

You’ve probably noticed that fitting in, finding a niche, and being accepted are crucial to the fabric of teenage culture. In a school with hundreds of students, your teen doesn’t want to be just another face. Teens want to be noticed and have an identity.

Is it wrong for them to enjoy affirmation? Not at all! – But when they crave affirmation from others more than anything, it becomes a serious problem. If they start sacrificing their convictions, our red flags should go up!

So what do we do? What can be done? – At its core, this is a self-worth issue so we need to address it as such. If you can see that your student is seeking attention in all the wrong places, use these truths to help them see that they matter for all the right reasons…

They matter so much that Jesus willingly died for them! – Students need to be continually reminded of Christ’s sacrifice and unconditional love. The more they understand that they are precious in the eyes of God, the less they will try to find acceptance elsewhere. Reiterate to them that no one else could’ve paid their debt or done what Jesus did. He proved His love a million times over. The Cross is a testament to how much we matter to our Savior! John 15:13 says, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (NLT)

Their uniqueness is a huge part of why they matter! – Remind your teen that they were made in God’s image and that they’re one-in-a-million. By virtue of being a creation of the King, they matter! Help them see that being different is actually really cool! No one else on the planet has their abilities, their characteristics, or their personality. They can either go with the flow and do what everyone else does, or they can lead the charge and be a trailblazer! Show them Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ESV) God can’t help us find our way if we’re too busy pursuing someone else’s.

Their purpose matters! Why not tap into that desire to be a part of something bigger and encourage your student to be a part of the Great Commission? Something we talk about often at youth group is that teens don’t need to wait to impact the world for the Kingdom of God. There were plenty of people in Scripture that led bold lives for God at a young age (Samuel, Josiah, Jeremiah, Mari, Ruth, etc). Remind them that making disciples is the most important thing they’ll ever do. If they truly want to be a part of something that matters, they have to be a part of something that’s eternal! Read together Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV) They can pursue the team, the club, the trophy, and the clique all they want, but those things don’t go with them to Heaven!

Hopefully you can toss around these truths at the dinner table, in the car, or on the couch. In my opinion, you should remind your teen of these things as much as possible. When they finally start to grasp that they matter in the eyes of Christ, they will be more motivated to live for Him and not for others!

Praying for you,

P


7/26/17 – What is it that keeps students plugged in to church after High School?

Unfortunately we’ve heard the grim statistics concerning the absence of 18-24 year olds in our churches. We all know about or have students that left the church once they gained freedom from mom and dad. But why is this happening? I’m not sure we can pinpoint it exactly, but I did want to share a few things that I’ve observed in students who have sought the Body of Christ while away from home. So here we go…

  1. A Mission-Minded Home – Above all, the most important thing in a student’s life is the discipleship that happens in the home. Nothing we do in student ministry or the church has as much impact as family-led faith. Weekly youth meetings, retreats, and camps should only be supplemental. When students see their parents, aunts, uncles, and/or grandparents pursuing Christ passionately, they will be impacted. (Side note: They don’t need faith forced upon them, they simply need to observe it and make the decision to follow Christ on their own.) Also, if teenagers see that busyness rules and God is way down the food chain, their priorities will follow that trend as they get older. Parents can’t expect their kids to value a faith that they don’t value. (Check out Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

  2. A Mentor to Follow – We have awesome adult leaders ready to step in to your student’s life to love on them, strengthen them, push them, and encourage them. Teens need to hear another voice reiterating the spiritual conversations at home to see just how important their faith is. A mentor is a person of the same sex who is a few steps ahead of your student and can provide godly wisdom. In our youth ministry, this plays out with something called “D-Groups” (discipleship groups). Students can sign up to be in a D-Group that meets with one or two other students and an adult every couple weeks for Bible study and fellowship. (Check out 2 Timothy 2:1-2)

  3. A Ministry to Serve In – In my experience, when students get involved and serve in ministries they start to see that the church is theirs too. This will also help them see where God has gifted them and give them an opportunity to put it into practice. Furthermore, they get to pour into other people and not sit back as sponges on Sundays and Wednesdays. (Check out 1 Peter 4:8-10)

These things can’t guarantee that your student grows into a mature follower of Christ but they will definitely put them in a good place for growth! At the end of the day, the choice is theirs so at some point we have to let go and let God take over. Know that I’m praying for you as you seek to parent well!

If you have questions or comments, please email me at pdane@whillschurch.org.

P

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