Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Destiny and Its Impact

A post at another blog I frequent got me to thinking about overarching themes that can help a family grow together with proper focus and direction. The biggest theme that came to mind was to have a sense of destiny. I'm afraid the families of our day think far too small; they can't see past today or this week. A family with long-term vision is one who looks ahead to empty nest!

How sad.

Destiny. That's a loaded word. The dictionary defines it as "a predetermined course of events, often held to be an irresistible power or agency." Of course, they don't mention the "irresistible power or agency" as being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! So what is it that God has in mind for you, for me? What is it He has in mind for our families? Do we travel down the path of life with a fatalistic outlook because we acknowledge the sovereignty of God? I think not.

First and foremost is that, if we are adopted sons and daughters of the King, then what He has in mind for us is beyond our wildest dreams. Secondly, we were saved in order to accomplish good works that had been preordained for us (Ephesians 2). A good work has consequences and impact beyond us and possibly beyond anything we could imagine.

So do we just "let it happen?" How can we get a sense of the destiny God has for us? The obvious destiny is to be conformed to the likeness of Christ and to reside in heaven for eternity joyously worshipping the infinite God. That is arguably the most important "destiny!!"

But personally, when I think of "destiny," I guess I am not thinking of exactly the dictionary definition, but rather, I tend to think of impact. What will be the impact of my family and me on the world? Destiny implies vision. As stated earlier, it isn't a small, short-sighted vision. A vision of destiny looks down through the generations to what might be and to what influence we as a family might have on hundreds or thousands of people to come. Just do a little research on the progeny of Jonathan Edwards or Susanna Wesley and see the impact of one godly family!

Properly envisioned and articulated, this is a concept that will bring about a shared sense of mission within the family. A shared sense of mission will unite us to one another under the headship of the father who is under the headship of Christ with the purpose of Kingdom impact. This sense of mission will focus everyone on something much bigger than themselves. What a radical concept for children and young adults! This also produces a byproduct of a sense of belonging, of groundedness, of definition. Gone would be the wonderings of our young people as they search near and yon for who they are and what they are here for. They have a family destiny: both to impact the world as a part of a family, and to carry on the family legacy and destiny into the succeeding generations.

True Christian Destiny: Ultimately preordained good works as we are conformed to the likeness of our Savior enroute to a joyous eternity in the presence of the Father.

Sense of destiny--> Long-term vision for Kingdom impact
Long-term vision for Kingdom impact--> Sense of shared mission
Sense of shared mission--> Family cohesiveness through shared outward focus
Family cohesiveness--> Sense of belonging
Sense of belonging--> Love for one another and for the lost of the world

May we all develop a sense of destiny with a long-term vision of hundreds of years! And may the Lord use this to spread His Kingdom far and wide for His glory and for our joy!

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Myth of Adolescence

In line with my previous post on how one church is dealing with "teen," I came across two wonderful articles written by Alex and Brett Harris (younger brothers of Joshua Harris, if you happen to recognize his name as the author of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" fame). The Harris brothers have a blog and a ministry that intends to spark young people out of the doldrums of "adolescence" and into adult involvement in their world.

They write, "Our world cannot last another generation of Christian young people who fit in." (emphasis mine)

Read part one of five here, and then link from there to parts 2-5 (links at the bottom of each post). And while you are at it, bookmark the blog for your apprenticing adults!!!

Praying for young people not to fit in....

Thursday, October 19, 2006

How One Chruch Does "Teen"

For any who have done much research in the area, you can quickly discover that the idea of adolescence is a relatively new concept. In fact, the word "teenager" didn't exist a century ago. And the whole idea of "teenage rebellion" is one that would be foreign to our forefathers because there was no such thing as a "teenager." As one matured, he simply moved into adult responsibilities. How else do you explain the phenomenal accomplishments of young people in the 1700's? Jonathan Edwards was a college president around age 20. I believe it was John Quincy Adams who was a United States Ambassador at age 14! And there were others, but their names don't come to mind right now.

I believe a whole host of our societal problems come from the whole idea of "teenager" and "teenage rebellion" What can we do about it? For one, we as families can endeavor to raise children who love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength...who walk humbly with Him as their God... and who love their neighbor as themselves. These are people who will change the world in which they live.

What about our churches? How can they hinder or help?

Most of what passes for ministry to children and young people today is patterned after the evolutionary theories that brought us age-segregated public schooling...and that's not a good thing. This is especially true when it comes to the teen years when enabling young people to focus solely on themselves and on each other only leads to questionable salvation and to extended adolescence. These young people enter adulthood woefully unprepared to actually BE adults.

There are several movements afoot that attempt to address this problem. Here is what our particular church is doing:

We no longer have a children's department, nor do we have a youth department. Instead, the whole thing is now the Family Discipleship Department and it endeavors to work with parents and to help them raise children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. There is a seamless curriculum that runs from preschool to eighth grade that brings the children deeper and deeper into God's Word and good doctrine. They realize that we aren't playing games here, nor are we babysitting. That part is wholly in position already and is working nicely. The next step is to radically reform what used to be the youth department. The vision right now is to even change the more "youth;" no more "teenager." Instead something along the lines of "apprentice adult" would be used (that's not set in stone...just an idea that reflects the concept that what we call someone affects both how they perceive themselves and how they are perceived by others). The apprentice adults (ninth grade and up) would be expected to join in with adult activities and ministries, both in terms of learning in Sunday Schools and volunteering their time in ministry. They would be shepherded and mentored (hopefully by their parents) and encouraged about growing quickly into adulthood and assuming adult responsibilities. They would be encouraged to put off the childish things of the world in favor of the more exciting things of adulthood. The idea that your 20s is a time of sowing your oats and having a time of grand fun while you are single before being "tied down" to marriage would be anathematized.

In short, they would be expected to grow up.

And of course, all of this assumes an education of the parents and other adults in the church so they understand their responsibilities in helping these apprentice adults learn and grow. They are to provide example and opportunity. They are to mentor and shepherd. This can't happen in a vacuum; it will require a paradigm change on the part of the adults of the church.

Not a bad idea at all....

Praying that more parents and churches would come to understand this vision.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Dominion Mandate and the Family

In my other blog, I posted some thoughts on living life with the Dominion Mandate as the "big picture." One of the implications I raised was how that might affect the decisions we make on both family relations and on the raising of children.

Genesis 1:26-29 outlines the Dominion Mandate, occurring before the Fall and not rescinded to this day.

Note first that the Mandate is given to "them"...both the man and the woman, together. Next note that the first part of the Mandate is to be fruitful and a family. It can be inferred that taking dominion, and thus building the Kingdom, is something families ought to be working toward together.

If the Dominion Mandate truly applies to families, then it provides a basis for the direction of the family unit. As such, children need to know from an early age that they are part of a family on a mission...a mission to impact their portion of the world as a family. They need to be raised with an outward focus of Christ-exalting, world-changing vision rather than the pagan focus of self.

In effect, the Dominion Mandate provides a framework for a family vision for each and every Christian family. We are not here by accident; we as members of a particular family are sovereignly put here. And God has given us a direction...a direction that is significantly different from that of the pagan world: be fruitful, multiply, fill the world, take dominion. I believe it could be argued that taking dominion includes bringing the Word of God to bear on everything that we as Christians do, from our personal lives, to our family lives, to our work, to our worship, to our recreation, to our relationships... everything! In doing so, we will be advancing the Kingdom by showing a real witness of Christ's changing power in our lives.

This also relates a bit to the two posts on individualism (here and here). If the conclusion in the earlier paragraph is true, that the Dominion Mandate applies to families, then we need to take that to heart AS families and quit acting like the world by playing the rugged individualists who just happen to share a name and a roof. You don't take dominion by sending out individuals from a family, you take dominion by sending into the world families who honor Christ in all they do. The recurring theme is that Christian witness must be more than words; it must be lives that are lived out under the auspices of the Bible in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is that distinctiveness that will witness Christ to the world...and there will be two responses: persecution, or they will listen. And as more listen, the Kingdom is spread...and dominion occurs.

Praying for dominion-minded families....