nexus: a place of connection
generation integration ~ connecting generations to avoid a divided house:
every week I discover and rediscover the importance of love. I don’t think that it can be overestimated. when I was 11 years old, I won the MVP award in my local Little League but that was a tough year at home. my parents were struggling financially, Dad was seemingly working all the time to make ends meet and Mom was overwhelmed by it all. in essence they were unavailable. so, when the awards dinner took place, I went with my friend and his parents. when I went up on the platform to receive the award, I looked out and saw all these parents and kids but my parents weren’t there. i felt like I was the only one without a parent … I felt alone.
by the time I was 13, I was trying to fill the void with drugs, alcohol, sex or anything else I imagined could possibly fill the hole inside of me. the epic quest for love and fulfillment is played out in one form or another in every generation because it’s played out in every life.
in 2007, a survey revealed that 15% of students had contemplated suicide and 7% attempted it in the last 12 months. alcohol abuse, another attempt to fill the hole, was reflected in 19% of 12-20 year olds who report binge drinking. 1/3 of girls were pregnant before they reached age 20. Finally, almost 25% reported non-suicidal self-inflicted harm such as cutting and burning. why? most likely the reason is that the next generation is overwhelmed by life, seeking answers, seeking real love and not discovering what they’re looking for. the problem is compounded by a lack of generation integration: getting clues from a prior generation that has discovered meaning, truth, purpose and love in Jesus.
each generation is convinced that the prior generation is clueless and that when the next generation is in charge things will be better. this hope is a catalyst for potential change and good, but it can also be a dangerous stimulus for abuse.
for example, after the death of king David, his son Solomon ruled God’s people with great wisdom. Solomon was surrounded by wise counselors. upon Solomon’s passing, his son Rehoboam ascended to the throne. when the northern tribes of Israel approached Rehoboam to request he lighten their tax burden, Rehoboam sought counsel from his advisors.
Solomon’s counselors, the prior generation, urged the young king to lighten the load, encourage the people, serve them and assured the young king the people would be loyal to him forever. Rehoboam’s peers, the next generation, offered the opposite advice. in essence, their plan was, “show ‘em you’re the king” and increase the burden. The young king rejected the wisdom of the prior generation, focused on the insight of his peers, and informed the people about “the new program” [heavier taxes].
the result: a civil war that divided the nation and harmed the lives of God’s people [1Kings 12:1-16].
the moral: we need generation integration ~ connected generations to avoid a divided house:
connecting with the another generation to help them connect with God
what’s the problem: 2 out of 3 high school students leave the church after graduation. over 40%of young people between the ages of 16-29 are now outside the faith [up from 27% in the last generation]. nevertheless, 77% of Jesus’ followers come to Him before the age of 21.
are we helping the next generation to know the real Jesus who gives life, meaning, and shalom? are we developing relationships connecting the next generation to the transforming power and love of God? is there dialogue that creates empathy about a shared spiritual hunger; the epic quest for love and identity; and the hope of Jesus?
if we say that we love Jesus and that we love others [e.g. the next generation or the prior generation] we want to bring Jesus and them together. unfortunately, generally, there is a complete lack of generation integration: interaction between teens and adults, and between the college age demographic and the generation that preceded them.
the next generation has a deep longing and passion for “more.” not more entertainment, or more tech … more than superficial, more than spin and manipulation … for something [or someone] real. they are drawn to service, significance and sincerity. do we know each other? do we really care?
how can you test whether you really love God?
· attitude: dependence upon God and relationship with God [communion]
· affirmation: praise and worship
· action: obedience to God and sacrifice in gratitude for His love
how can you test whether you really love the next generation?
· attitude: relationship with people and interdependence [community]
· affirmation: words of encouragement, expressions of gratitude
· action: sacrifice of time, talent and treasure in gratitude for God’s love
if you love God and another generation you are passionate to bring them together
here’s my take:
1. young people are not the future of the church nor are they the future leaders – they are the church and they are it’s leaders.
2. the next generation has a responsibility to reach the generation that will follow them, and is the most likely group to effectively do it.
3. the next generation would be unwise to ignore the wisdom of the generation that preceded them.
4. the next gen needs to be equipped and empowered to develop their own ministries beyond “the youth group.”
5. the prior generation has the privilege to actively mentor the next generation. the most likely way to do that is by authentic relationships characterized by investing time – to know and to grow together [one-on-one or small groups].
6. a healthy generation integration is based on lasting relationships. Young people often struggle to figure out critical life issues, and feel abandoned to make sense of life based solely on the input of similarly struggling peers. Effective generation of integration requires the pouring of one life into another. That sacrifice creates lasting relationships … a worthwhile investment.
what’s your take?
When Are You Getting Married?
When Are You Getting Married?
Lately, I have been asked this question so many times: When are you getting married? Everything in me hates this question. Unfortunately, I seem to get asked it at least once a week. The reason i dislike this question so much is because all it does is add pressure. I could be completely content in my dating relationship and enjoying every part of it. But the minute that question comes up, i feel some sort of pressure to be at a stage in my relationship that I am not yet at.
Questions begin to run through my mind: when am i getting married? why am i not engaged yet? why are other people getting married now and im not? why is it taking so long to get married?
These questions would not be in my mind if it weren't for the ONE question. When i get asked that question, i feel pressured. I feel like i should know the answer. I feel as though i am apparently in a serious enough relationship that i should know; and because i dont know, it causes impatience.
It seems that young marriage has become "the thing" in our church here at calvary chapel. Why? I think this is because of a couple of reasons.
First, it is difficult to remain pure with a person you love. In a godly relationship, purity is essential and for any two people who are attracted to each other, this will be hard! So, because it's so hard, couples may take Pauls verse of "better to be married than burn with passion" to mean that if your hormones are raging you might as well get married! However, 2 Timothy 2:22 says flee the youthful lusts, pursuing righteousness, faith, love...It is possible to remain pure and God calls us to it.
Second, people think you'll never be ready for marriage anyways, so why prepare? I know that i want to prepare as much as i can by seeking God and building my relationship with Him. I tell people I want to wait until i am ready to get married. You know what people say? "well you'll never be ready! so just do it!" of course there are things that i just can't prepare myself for, but i would rather be more prepared than less. Proverbs 18:15 says the heart of the prudent acquires knowledge and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge." the wise seek out knowledge. isn't preparing always wise?
Third, people think that because they have the means (money) to live together, that they might as well get married. Getting married should never be done because it is convenient. Just because a person has money and a house doesn't mean they should get married. Colossians 3:18 says wives submit to your husbands as is fitting to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. A man may have a solid job and a house but have no idea how to love his wife. Or a wife may have no idea how to submit to and respect her husband.
Good relationships take time to cultivate. We go through different seasons in our lives and in dating, it is helpful to go through these seasons together. I would rather go through the difficult times together BEFORE getting married, than go through them after. When i get married, i want to know how to love my spouse. i want to know how to handle conflict God's way. I want to have a better reason for getting married than just because we couldn't control ourselves, because we had the resources, or because i'll never be ready anyways.
Of course i will never be perfect and no matter how much i prepare, there will be things that were unexpected. However, i want to wait on God's time. when i get married, the reason will be because God brought us together and He will be able to use us better together than apart.
I hope the next time i get asked if i am getting married is when I have a ring on my finger! Instead of adding pressure, let's encourage the young to take their time to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives.
if someone told you that they had memorized the whole pentateuch, never missed a tithed on any sunday, and was in every way completely devoted to christianity; what would your first thought be? at first glance when you study about the religious leaders (ie pharisees, scribes etc.) you find quickly that they were some of the most devoted people around. with a few exceptions they blow the normal christian out of the water when it comes to discipline and devotion. the pharisees especially were willing to lay down there lives on behalf of these beliefs at anytime
here's one example, the governor ponitus pilate made an agreement with the jews (mostly pharisees) that he would not have any of the roman soldiers come into Jerusalem wearing things that had caesars image on it. the jews regarded this as idolatry. there came a time when the roman soldiers no longer listened to that and would come into jerusalem with images of caesar on their clothing etc. the jews (mostly pharisees) were outraged at what was happening. on one specific occasion a large group of jews and pharisees went to poitius pilate's palace and in a sit down strike stayed outside for 5 days. pilate infuriated at this led all of them to the hippodrome were he had soldiers set up to ambush the group of jews. the soldiers threatened the jews that if they didn't stop protesting that each one of them would be executed. upon saying this every jew fell to their knees and bared their necks. they said that they were willing to die instead of allowing such an injustice to continue. pilate backed down.
i believe it is safe to say that the pharisees were very much devoted to their beliefs.
then why is it that while reading the gospel accounts we see Jesus ripping into the pharisees? there is numerous occasions through out the gospel that Jesus has some extremely harsh words for the pharisees. probably one of the most notable occasions is in matthew 23. there we see Jesus walk through 7 different "woes" he has against the pharisees. in doing so Jesus points out areas of their lives and ministries that are not acceptable at all. Jesus uses such words as blind guides, hypocrites, fools, brood of vipers, blind fools, and others.
so then what is the real problem with the pharisees? i believe that is most clearly answered in one encounter that Jesus had with the pharisees. in matthew 15:8-9 Jesus rebukes the pharisees and saying, "this people honors me with their lips, but there hearts are far from me. in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." first Jesus' charge to them is that they never actually worship Him. all they do is give him lip service. what that means in the pharisees circumstance is that they can do so much yet if they don't worship God and do it for His glory that everything they do is useless. that's the great point of the gospel, is that its not what we can do for God it is what He has already done for us on the cross. the pharisees believed that if they were religious enough, and if they were devoted and disciplined enough then they were good. but thats not the way that God looks at it. God doesn't look at us and see how much we have done for Him, He looks past all of that and goes to see our hearts.
the pharisees were known for being extremely proud and self-righteous. they wanted all the glory and attention for themselves. yet real God loving christians should know that we are wicked to the core and that if anything good comes from us that it's only because of God's grace and that all the glory goes straight to Him!
Jesus wants your real worship. the funny thing is, is that when we enter into real worship of Jesus we begin to learn of who He is. we see how great and glorious He His, how mighty and incredible Jesus is. as we start to do that and He starts to reveal more of Himself to us through the word and through prayer we fall more in love with Him. which in turn will transform our hearts to make us a people who desire to do good works and desire to be extremely devoted as well as passionate about Him.
now if you have the desire to serve and to give etc, and even if you don't; when you begin to experience the real God of the bible and He blows your mind your only response will be to worship. its not until you truly enter into and stop drawing near to Him with just your lips that you can have this experience. the outcome will surly be Jesus transforming your heart, mind, and soul to be more like Him.