6 Considerations for Teaching Your Child to Stop…

Kirra’s training wheel popped off on the way home from school. Luckily, she landed in the grass.  Crying insued.  We walked the bike the other half mile home.

She is five years old and nearing the midpoint of her kindergarten year.  I took it as a sign the training wheels need to come off.  I put them in the trash immediately.  We abandoned homework and Kirra hopped on the bike.

Leading up to this point, I imagined the difficulty would be getting her started.  It was no problem.  She was ready.  Pedaling is second nature to her now.  My next expectation was she would struggle with balance.  No problem.

And then came stopping.  I had no idea.  It never crossed my mind the degree of difficulty.  She has no idea how to stop.  I have to help her.

Kirra and I are working on stopping.  Without crying.  Without panicking.  Without giving up.  Here is what is helping so far:

  • Stay calm.  If I panic, she panics.
  • Don’t just tell her what to do, show her what to do.  I took my bike out of the garage and let he watch me stop.
  • Focus on encouragement.  The more I encourage her progress with positive remarks, the more confidence she gains.
  • Don’t catch her every time she falls.  My instinct is to keep her from getting hurt.  But she needs to feel what it’s like to fall to know how to prevent it the next time.
  • Give it time.  I have a time-frame I think it should take to learn.  It’s short.  Her time-frame is different.  She needs time.
  • Expect the best.  I know Kirra will learn to stop.  I believe in her.

As parents, there are many moments in our kids lives that we need to help them stop.  It doesn’t change the older they get.  It may increase.  How we do it matters.

How are you helping your child(ren) learn to stop?

How Nakedness helps you Read the Bible

When I declared my major in college to be Pastoral Ministry, I thought I would graduate as a Bible expert.  I thought veteran Biblical scholars would teach me the correct interpretation of every Old and New Testament book.  I thought I would be able to walk away with every answer anyone could ask of the Holy Scriptures.  My inclinations were wrong.

Instead, I learned something of much greater significance.  I learned how to become an interpreter of scripture myself.  I no longer have to rely solely on what someone else tells me.  My relationship to God’s sacred text is no longer limited to others’ opinions.  But there’s a catch.  I have to expose myself.  I have to be open and honest with who I am.  I have to be naked before God’s Word.

To remain fully clothed, I’m simply pretending to hide the imperfections that will influence how I understand God’s message to me.  Because every part of me, my past, present, and future influences what I see.

Since we all love pizza and have our opinions, let me give an example.  If you ask me, “What is good pizza?”  I would answer:  thin and crispy crust, edge to edge toppings, round pie, and cut into squares.  The reason for my answer isn’t because it is ultimately true.  My answer is influenced by the fact that I grew up in Ohio, where the predominant pizza style is thin and crispy.  If you ask someone who grew up in Chicago, New York, or Italy, chances are their answer will be different.

I see this happen all the time with the Bible’s take on money.  An affluent person might read the Bible and interpret wealth as a blessing from God.  Being rich is a sign of hard-work and favor from God.  An poor person might read the Bible and interpret poverty as a sign of persecution for faithfulness to God.  Poverty is a sign of self-sacrifice and closeness to God.  Both perspectives are influenced by the readers’ social location.

Reality is, both perspectives probably contain truths and falsehoods.  Without being upfront with who they are and how it influences their perspective, both run a high risk of confusing falsehoods with truths.

So, here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Every time I read the Bible, I need to admit my biases.
    How does my age, ethnicity, education, economic status, gender, denomination, family, country, and political view influence my perspective?
  • My interpretation alone isn’t enough.
    What’s unique about you brings out what’s unique about me.  If I compare my interpretation to yours,  we should discover similarities and differences.  Normally, it is the differences that uncover who I am and how it influences my reading.
  • It’s liberating to be naked.
    For you and for me.  I’m free to stop pretending I’m perfect, and so are you.  When I’m comfortable in my own skin, you’re comfortable in yours.  We’re free to celebrate the good and acknowledge the not-so-good.
  • Nakedness is too painful for some of us.
    Not everyone is willing or ready to expose who they are and how it influences their reading of God’s Word.  Some don’t believe it.  Some can’t believe it.  Some want to but fear the outcome.

What helps you read the Bible?





3 Reasons to Cancel Church for Santa Claus

Okay, we didn’t cancel church completely.  But, we did move it from 6pm to 5pm, shortened it from 60 minutes to 30, and changed the location.  Why???  To serve as parking attendants, greeters, Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus, and characters in a Bethlehem scene for a Christmas event hosted by our church, on our church property that attracts 30,000 people in a town of roughly 100,000.  Sounds silly, doesn’t it.

Last year, one of our church members invited his co-worker to attend this Christmas spectacular we call Lights of Lakeland.  She was reluctant to accept.  She doesn’t like church.  She’s angry with God.  She keeps her distance from Christians.  But, she thought her children might enjoy it.

She did it.  She followed the Batman-like skylight to our church and experienced Lights of Lakeland.  Her family stopped at the final scene in Bethlehem, a live nativity.  As they exited the event, her 10 year boy stops and asks the question, “Who is Jesus?”  A mother who despises religion faces a vulnerable moment.  She decides it’s not right for her son to be controlled by her own doubts and frustrations.  She explains who she knows this person Jesus to be.

Six months later, this same woman witnessed the baptism of her 10 year old son.

We’re not canceling Saturday Night Church to take a break.  We’re canceling church to dress as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, an elf, Spider Man, the Grinch.  We’re cutting out one half hour early to wear bright orange vests and waive a flashlight in direct line of excited and sometimes angry drivers.  We’re cancelling to SERVE.  Because we believe serving is one powerful way live out our mission to influence others to love God. 

The greatest part.  We have a group of Christ followers who get it.  Asking them to give up a worship service to serve others isn’t a problem.  They are ready to live missional lives.

So here’s what I’ve learned:

  •     What seems like an obstacle may actually be an opportunity. The two lowest attended Saturday nights of the year occur during Lights of Lakeland.  The two Saturday nights of the year with the greatest number of non-believers on our campus is Lights of Lakeland.
  •     Passionate followers of Jesus are hungry to live out God’s mission in new ways.  Don’t be afraid to ask.
  •     The church isn’t limited to a worship service, it is visible any place God’s people exemplify grace, peace, and love in their lives and actions. We’re not canceling church, we’re just doing it a different way.

How has God challenged your church to live out the mission in a different way?

Welcome to my Blog

This is my first blog post, EVER!

If you’re not sure who I am, let me tell you in a few short words.  I’m a Husband, Father, Pastor, Floridian, Surfer, and Life-long Learner.

This blog is for anyone who’s willing to admit that you still have something to learn.  That’s not to say I know it all and plan to enlighten you.  It’s, rather, the opposite.  I have much to learn, probably more than most.  So, I’m inviting you to learn with me about:  Love, Faith, Family, Church, & Leadership.

I have 3 main objectives for writing this blog:

  • Learn out loud.  If I’m an expert in anything, I’m an expert learner.  I may not have all the answers, but I will do everything I can to find them.  Whatever I learn, I want to share it with you.
  • Encourage Risk-Taking. I may be diligent about learning, but oftentimes more hesitant to take a risk.  I think the two go hand-in-hand.  It’s tough to learn without taking risks, and tough to take risks without learning.  Whatever risks we take, whether we fail or succeed, we can always learn from the experience.  I hope the learning that I do out loud will encourage you to risk more and learn more.
  • Initiate Real Life-Change.  Learning is never about staying the same.  I’m not sure if you truly learn something if it doesn’t change you.  The story of God found in the Bible is drawing all creation to change into a beautiful new reality.  Including you and me.  If what I’m learning doesn’t initiate change in me, you, and our world, this blog serves little purpose.

I invite you to join me on this journey.