How to Help Your Kids Fail

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Sunday I talked about how to fail forward as adults and how many people live their lives like they are using a whiffle ball bat, where they take away every possibility of failure. If you missed it, you can listen to it here.

Sadly, many parents parent this way. They stack the deck to make sure their kids never experience a setback or failure. Here are a few examples:

  • Your child announces at 8pm they have a project due tomorrow that they’ve known about for a week or two. What do you do? The whiffle ball bat parent jumps into action and gets it done, probably even finishing it after the child goes to bed.
  • Your child gets a trophy for every single sports team they are on or competition they are part of.
  • Your child never tries anything new, so the only activities they do are things they are good at (this is common among adults).

Think back to the parent and the 8pm project, what would happen if you didn’t finish the project and your child got an incomplete or F for that assignment? Would their life end? Probably not. A valuable lesson would be learned.

Because we as adults hate failure (and who doesn’t), we try to ensure that our kids don’t experience failure. The problem with that is failure is the best way to learn about something (besides learning from the failure of others). If we don’t allow our kids to experience failure of some kind, we don’t teach them how to bounce back from something, how to pick themselves up, how to react in a healthy way to life not turning out how they want (because that will happen as an adult).

In the end, we send them out of the house ill-prepared for life.

Sadly, I’ll hear from countless parents whose kids walk away from the church and one of the reasons has to do with failure and faith.

When it comes to faith, we don’t challenge and encourage our kids to have a God-sized faith. We don’t challenge them to pray impossible prayers, the ones that God will have to move for something to happen. In the end, they grow up seeing a God they don’t need, a God who seems less powerful than they are and they wonder, “Why have faith? Why have anything to do with God?” If you have a son, he sees the church as boring, not worth giving his life to and will find a mission that will drive his passion, but the world won’t be changed.

The dominos can be enormous.

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Lent Starts Today

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Growing up, I always heard about lent through the “I’m giving up coffee or chocolate for 40 days.” Somewhat of a chore. Always giving up something you liked for what seemed like no real reason.

Katie and I have always been drawn to the church calendar and deep meanings behind it. In our fast paced world, going to our roots in our Christian faith can often be one of the most helpful things. It creates a connection to our history, it often brings the symbolism to life that we lack our Facebook world.

The goal of lent is to spend the 40 days leading up to Good Friday meditating and thinking on the cross and the sacrifice of Jesus in your place and mine.

While fasting from something you spend time on (it might be chocolate, TV, Facebook, Movies, you might fast from a meal each day or do a Daniel Fast). The time that you are fasting, spend that extra time praying, reading Scripture. I’d encourage you to read through the gospel of Mark. One reason is half of Mark focuses on the last week of Jesus, it is the thrust of the entire book. A great way to do that is through YouVersion.

Elliot Grudem and Bruce Benedict put together a great guide for the season of Lent and why followers of Jesus should participate in it. I’d encourage you to read this as a starting point.

And join us, starting February 13th as we go through the season of Lent. Capped off on Good Friday, March 29th, as we go through the Stations of the Cross as a church.

Click here to download the Lent guide we are sharing together as a church.

Don’t Make Salvation Difficult

When I finished reading Andy Stanley’s latest book Deep & Wide (kindle version), my first thought was, “This might be one of the best books I’ve ever read on church ministry or leadership.” It is chock full of wisdom, things churches can learn and ways staff’s can grow together to be effective. I’ll share a full review on September 25 when it releases, but over the coming week I wanted to share a few longer quotes from the book that pushed some thinking for me. Some I agreed with, others I didn’t, but ones I wanted to share with the My World community.

Churches shouldn’t do anything that makes it unnecessarily difficult for people who are turning to God.

What are some ways churches make coming to Jesus difficult? How do we guard against that?

The Difference Between Believing in God & Believing God

When I finished reading Andy Stanley’s latest book Deep & Wide (kindle version), my first thought was, “This might be one of the best books I’ve ever read on church ministry or leadership.” It is chock full of wisdom, things churches can learn and ways staff’s can grow together to be effective. I’ll share a full review on September 25 when it releases, but over the coming week I wanted to share a few longer quotes from the book that pushed some thinking for me. Some I agreed with, others I didn’t, but ones I wanted to share with the My World community.

There’s a monumental difference in believing in God and believing God.

Is that true? If so, how have you seen that play out in your life?

The Shoulders of Other People

This past weekend at Revolution, I preached from Joshua 2. A lot happens in that chapter. Joshua sends spies into the city of Jericho to see the land. It becomes obvious how much the king of Jericho and the rest of the city fears the nation of Israel and God. We also meet Rahab, the prostitute. I spent a chunk of time in my sermon talking about how God redeems all things and uses anybody who is willing to be used. Which is what we see in Rahab.

One thing that jumped out to me though was how the nation of Israel and us as well, stand on the shoulders of other people’s faith. The nation of Israel was able to walk into the city of Jericho because of Rahab, Joshua and their faith.

We, individually and as churches stand on the shoulders of other people’s faith.

For me, I stand on the faith of others. The faith they had in me, the faith they passed on to me. I stand on the faith of the ones who led them to Jesus. If you are a follower of Jesus, you stand on the faith of someone who took the risk and shared Jesus with you. You were prayed into it.

We often don’t think of the people who came before us, the faith they exhibited to get us to the places we are. We also don’t always think about who will come after us. The people who will find Jesus because we are faithful, because we are generous, prayerful or have integrity.

One of the things I challenged our church with was to contact the person or persons whose faith they stand on and say thanks. I know when I’ve done this, the conversations have been unbelievably sweet.

For me, I stand on the faith of a professor who cast a vision for what a local church could look and be like. He believed in me when other professors did not. He challenged me to not settle for anything, to go for church planting and follow the calling God placed on my life.

I stand on the faith of parents who prayed for me, challenged me, allowed me to try things, fail and succeed.

I stand on the faith of a wife who never stopped believing in me. Who trusted the call of God on our lives and challenged me to always be great.

Whose faith do you stand on?

Why Read Books on Big Faith

I was asked the other day after posting about The Circle Maker if I like books on big faith. Books like this or Sun Stand Still are always favorites of mine.

The reason is simple, I don’t have big faith.

There I said it.

While my life has often seemed like an episode that needed big faith, lots of people have lives that need bigger faith than I need. In thinking back, moving to Tucson 5 years ago was a moment of lunacy. We had family and friends try to talk us out of it. Church planting doesn’t work they said, especially in this economy. Adopting. Why spend that time and money on it? Plant more churches.

Those are just things I’ve heard in the last year.

But when I hear those, they reinforce the doubts I have, they don’t push me to have bigger faith.

Enter books like The Circle Maker or Sun Stand Still. I am always pushed by men and women who have big faith, pray crazy prayers. I think we see in Scripture that God is honored by big and small prayers. I think there is something to big prayers though that gets at the heart of God because it takes a dependency on him that small prayers don’t. Big prayers reveal his father’s heart because it reveals our heart as a son or daughter that is dependent on him.

In the course of this conversation then, I was told how much God loves small prayers, that it shows his care for the small details in life. This is true. I love how God cares about the lilies of the valley, the birds of the air. It shows how he is big enough for anything, but cares about the smallest details. I chuckled because that is my first inclination, but as I pointed out in this conversation, it reveals my lack of faith. Because that keeps me from taking a step where I have to trust for the impossible.

The Circle Maker

I started The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams & Greatest Fears by Mark Batterson the other night and have not been able to put it down.

I told Katie this morning that she needs to stop reading whatever she’s reading and read this book. It was that good and challenging. There were a few things that jumped out to me from the book.

The first was the idea of drawing circles around prayer. Praying specific prayers. I’ve preached before on this idea and find that praying specific prayers stretches my faith and I see God move in powerful ways because of it. But I like the idea of circling something. For me, I’ve begun circling places I believe God wants us to plant Revolution Churches in Tucson. So this was a great reminder.

Another point was having a vision beyond your resources. I’ve already blogged on this idea, so I won’t belabor it, but suffice to say, if you can afford or pull off your prayers or dreams, they are too small. Another was the question Mark asked, “Is there a limit to God’s power?” All Christians would say no, yet we pray as if there is. We pray small prayers, believe possible things. This is the foundational question of prayer. Is there a limit to what God can do.

By far, the most life changing idea from this book was when he said, “Stop praying for something and start praying/praising through something.” God has already given us the promise of answered prayers and power in Scripture. Start praising God for what he will do. For me, I started to think about our adoptions and that God has already chosen children for our family, so instead of asking him to complete the adoption, I’ve begun thanking him for these children and praising through it. I believe God has put on my heart the prayer of planting a movement of churches around Tucson so that everyone is within a 10 mile drive of a Revolution Church and that 1 million people will enter the kingdom through Revolution (in my lifetime or beyond), so I’m beginning to pray as if that promise has already happened and giving God the glory for it.

While all of this is good, it is easy for this idea and the way Mark communicates it for someone to walk away and think of God as a vending machine. Pray this and you’ll get more than what you prayed for. Give this and God will give you 10 times what you gave. This is a tough line to walk when it comes to faith. Mark handles it well by bringing us back to the glory of God and how that needs to be the heart of our prayers and asking. He handled this well by comparing it to John the Baptist. One of Jesus’ closest friends, John is beheaded, while others are being healed, raised from the dead, walking after years of being lame and John does not get rescued. It’s a tough place to be, it is a dark place to be, but it is also a place that pushes our faith and asks if we truly believe in God and his sovereignty and his plan. The other reality is that sometimes God tells us no and doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want them. Sometimes he doesn’t bring healing like we hoped.

Here are a few other things that jumped out to me:

  • Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God. Why? Because they don’t require divine intervention.
  • Prayers are prophecies. They are the best predictors of your spiritual future. Who you become is determined by how you pray. Ultimately, the transcript of your prayers becomes the script of your life.
  • The greatest tragedy in life is the prayers that go unanswered because they go unasked.
  • “God does not answer vague prayers.”
  • We usually focus on what we’re doing or where we’re going, but God’s primary concern is who we’re becoming in the process. We talk about “doing” the will of God, but the will of God has much more to do with “being” than “doing.”
  • Faith is the willingness to look foolish.
  • If you aren’t willing to be perplexed, you’ll never be amazed.
  • Many of us pray as if our problems are bigger than God. Our biggest problem is our small view of God.
  • God is great not just because nothing is too big for Him; God is great because nothing is too small for Him.
  • All of us love miracles. We just don’t like being in a situation that necessitates one.
  • Show me your vision, and I’ll show you your future.
  • The degree of satisfaction is directly proportional to the degree of difficulty.

If you are looking for a book that will stretch your faith and prayer life, this is a great book to start with.

Rumors of God: Experience the Kind of Faith You’ve Only Heard About

I kept hearing about Rumors of God, the new book by Jon Tyson & Darren Whitehead, on twitter and blogs and finally decide to pick it up. I was not disappointed. This book will easily make the 10 best books I’ve read in 2011 list.

The book covers how faith is lived out and seen in our dreams, generosity, love, grace, freedom, commitment, community, justice and hope. It is a great picture of what faith can and should be. I found myself getting wrapped up in the stories that Jon & Darren shared from their churches. It reminded me of many of the stories I’m beginning to hear from our missional communities at Revolution.

At the beginning they shared a quote from C.S. Lewis that embodies the goal of the book, “That is precisely what Christianity is about. The world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there is a rumor going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.”

Here are a few things that jumped out:

  • When the entire culture is dreaming the same thing, imagination has been taken captive. An alternative dream requires animation by a different narrative.
  • How do we see more of the reality and presence of God in our lives? We must prioritize seeking God – we will not accidentally drift into it. We must intentionally, deliberately, earnestly make seeking God a priority in the way we spend our time.
  • Money flows effortlessly to that which is its God.
  • The difference between Christianity and other religions is grace.
  • No one knows how truly bad he is until he has tried very hard to be good.
  • Grace creates the conditions for faith; faith does not create the conditions for grace.
  • Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.

Here’s the trailer for the book with the authors:

The Origin of Salvation

Salvation is entirely of God. It is God-sourced in its planning, in its execution, and in its application; it’s also from God in how it’s sustained in the human heart, and in how it’s ultimately perfected in our eternal state. Salvation belongs to the Lord. -Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Parents, Read with Your Children

I came across this list on J.D. Greear’s blog wanted to take some time to pass on some recommendations to you that you can use to disciple your young children. We believe that you are your child’s primary discipler. These are resources I use with my kids, and love how my kids respond to them. They are engaging, well-written, and really provide a platform to talk about the right things with your kids.

In my opinion, whether or not you interact this way is much more important than whether your kids are public, private, or home schooled. This kind of interaction is even more important than how involved you have them here. We want your kids to be very involved here, as we can really partner with you in teaching them the gospel, but nothing comes even close to how you are instructing them at home.

Books we would recommend you read as parents: