The Submissional Life // Matt Tebbe

living in submission, leading from below, loving as mission

  • Why Jesus was so Smart (and it’s not ‘because he was God’)

    There was an experiment done about 20 years ago with two kittens. From the time they were born they were kept in absolute darkness – no light whatsoever – except for 60 minutes a day. During this 60 minutes, the lights were turned on, they could see reality as it really was. One kitten was allowed to walk around, to seek and sniff, to get close to objects, to paw at smaller objects. He was allowed to interact with this new environment – to cautiously enter into the world opened up to it because of the light. The other kitten was kept in a box about two feet off the ground. All it could do was sit and look around. The 60 minutes of light was much more safe for this kitten – it couldn’t cut it’s paw on the sharp objects, it would stumble, or lick things that shouldn’t be licked. But this kitten also didn’t respond in any meaningful way to the light. It sat there, blinking, watching but not entering in to this new world given by the light.

    After 2 years of this happening every day, the now adult cats were released to live “normally” in full light. The one cat who had been allowed to interact with the environment in the light adapted fairly quickly to its new world of light all the time…it was ready for this new world because of how it had responded to the light in its former. But the cat who was kept in a box, the cat that “knew” the light, had “watched” the light, but hadn’t responded or interacted with the light, this cat lived the rest of its life as though it were blind. Its eyes worked perfectly fine, but it could not see. Researches discovered that sight is as much about learning and growing as it is about just seeing. The brain needs to learn to see the light. Sight is an interactive discipline – not just biological, not just cognitive, but involves how we relate to what we see.

    “Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach.  The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”

    John 7.14-19

    How was it that Jesus was so smart without being taught? Look at his own words: “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God…Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law”

    Those who questioned Jesus in John 7 knew all about God but didn’t actually DO what he said. Their eyes worked perfectly fine, but they couldn’t see. When they saw light they sat analyzing, watching, questioning, pondering, theorizing, theologizing. They stayed 2 feet off the ground. Safe, detached, unencumbered by the challenges of DOING so they could devote all their time to THINKING. But sight is an interactive capability. We learn by doing, not merely watching.

    Jesus on the other hand knew all about God because he interacted with him. Lived with him daily. The law was written on his heart. He learned obedience through what he suffered, you know – lots of bruises, scrapes, bumps, close calls, near misses. Jesus was smart because he acted on what the Father taught him. He didn’t sit 2 feet off the ground. He responded and interacted with the light.

    But how about you and me? How do we become wise and learned? Put down the book, step away from (this) blog – by all means finish that seminary degree ASAP – and focus on these 2 things:

    1. Today – right this minute – resolve to surrender to love BY responded to God’s voice in your life. Not in generalities, abstractions, safe, detached ways (i.e. “I need to be more patient”) but in concrete, situational, particular lived in realities (i.e. “When I get home tonight I’m apologizing to my wife,” “I’m going to tend to this anxiety and allow it to lead me to prayer rather than surf the internet as a distraction,” “What would you have me do right now Father?” And when he tells you, do it). Blaise Pascal says, “Inattention is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life.” I believe this is what he meant. Cultivate the ability to be present to God’s voice in your life – ruthlessly eliminate distraction and practices of inaction. This will make you smart like Jesus. 

    2. Failed obedience is better than successful passivity – If while we were yet sinners Christ died for us – if while we were hell-destined enemies he was heaven-bent on making us his friends – how much more gracious and patient and kind will the Lord be as we seek to step out in trust? We must learn to be fearless about failure and fail forward when we do. Give it a go – step into fear – lick things you haven’t tasted, trip over the step, bump into the wall. Anything worth doing (like following Jesus) is worth doing badly until you get better. And you don’t get better in the shoebox, you only train yourself to not see. This will make you smart like Jesus.

    We like explanation before experience – but – what if we don’t figure it all out before we leap? If the cats teach us anything it is we can only see what we experience. Learn to treat doubt, fear, and feeling distant from God as growing and not withering. God is looking to entrust us with more authority, more responsibility, more of his grace and wisdom and must draw us out of our shoeboxes into the dazzling, beautiful, scary world around us. Take a step- not any, but the next - and you’ll find you could see more light than you did before. This active response to the light will make you smart like Jesus.

     

  • Parenting the Heart – Learning to Parent from the Father

    Two times the Father speaks audibly to the Son, each before the Son was to endure great suffering (Baptism – Matt 3, Mount of Transfiguration – Matt 17), both times saying the same thing. Did he give him a pep talk? Threaten him with punishment if he flinched? Tell him to “man up” and “not act like a sissy”? Did he dangle the the implications of his failure before him as leverage to motivate obedience? Did he preach a sermon on the Father’s sovereignty and holiness and how, if Jesus failed, he would have to reject him because of his inability to look on imperfection? Read, again, how the Father parents the Son:

    As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

    Matthew 3.16f

    While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

    Matthew 17.5

    No- both times the Father spoke words of identity (You are my son) and love (whom I love) and grace (with you I am well pleased). The second time he added authority (listen to him). At the most crucial times in Jesus’ life – when he would ‘learn obedience through what he suffered’ and would be assaulted and attacked by Satan, sweat blood, and endure all the schemes of hell and power of man – the Father parented Jesus by speaking words of vision, empowerment, and blessing. The Father trusted the gift of his own love – and the identity and authority that came with that gift – as sufficient motivation for obedience. 

    Can we – mere humans – learn how to parent our children from God the Father? 

    I say, yes, we can; In fact, we must if we are to raise children who grow up to become loving, free, confident adults.

    But many of us don’t. Instead of parenting the way God the Father parents the Son, we experience a different God: a harsh, distant, demanding, disappointed, shaming, angry God. But is this how God is towards us? Those of us in Christ Jesus have been adopted as children of God. We have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. All Christ has is ours – not just his righteousness but also his inheritance, his kingdom, his authority, his power. The Father longs to parent us as he parented his son. Speaking words of Vision, Identity, Love, Pleasure, Empowerment.

    Here’s my theory: How we experience God parenting us is how we will parent our children. 

    So – you want to become a better parent? Become aware of how you hear the Father’s voice in your life? How does God parent you? Do you hear condemnation? Judgment? Pressure to perform? Guilt and Shame? Or do you hear identity, pleasure, and that God believes in you! It’s so scandalous and brutally un-human to hear the Father speak that way. Do you trust that the Father parents you in the same way he parented his Son, Jesus? Dare to believe it, friends. Dare to believe.

     

    In the next post I’d like to describe some of our temptations as parents to parent our kids badness (i.e. behavior modification) rather than parenting our kids to trust us with their badness (i.e. identity transformation). But first:

     

    How do you see God parenting you? 

    Do you see this reflected in your parenting?

  • New Season Upcoming for The Tebbe’s

    For several years now I’ve been serving as a Frontier Leader and Coach with 3dm (www.weare3dm.com).

    3dm’s vision statement is:

    Changing the world, by changing America, by changing the church, by training leaders to put discipleship and mission back into the hands of ordinary people.

    If you’re not familiar with 3dm I encourage you to check out their website.

    Over the last 6 months or so I’ve discerned with the leadership at River Valley Church and 3dm that God is calling our family to take on an expanded role in training and equipping local church leaders in discipleship and mission. We will transition out of River Valley in December and move to Pawleys Island, SC  to be a part of the 3dm team!

    It is a bittersweet season: we have life-long friends and co-laborers in ministry in Mishawaka that we will dearly miss. As always in these circumstances, we are excited to go and sad to leave. The amount of work God has done in our lives through this discernment is immeasurable: refining identity, clarifying calling, building faith, speaking words of blessing, challenge, and trust.

    We are excited about the new season God has called us to with 3dm and hope-filled that God has incredible plans for River Valley in the future.

    We tell Deacon every night “God has created you for love, joy, adventure, and relationship”.

    Well – here’s an adventure, Deacon. Get ready, boy. Get ready.

  • The Truest Thing I Know About Me

    Each week I give Deacon the option of how he’d like to spend time with me on my day off: hitting golf balls at the range, chopping wood, or going for a hike. Last Friday, seemingly without weighing every option, he erupts with, “Go for a hike!” And so, last Friday, we set off to “the woods.” It really is worship for us to hike together – I verbally praise God for creation, acknowledge the beauty and harmony of everything we see. Deacon listens, we walk, we worship. Sometimes I also intentionally try and start meaningful conversations. Often we have them, sometimes we don’t. This week my attempt – and his response – went like this:

    As we hiked I turned to Deacon and asked: “Son, what is the truest thing you know about you?” Instantly I judged my question in my mind: Don’t you know he’s five years old!!??! He can’t answer a question like that! Nice work, dad.

    But Deacon’s response surprised me: He stopped dead in his tracks and said, “Hmm let me think about that for a minute…” And put his finger up to his cheek. We stood there looking at each other for a few moments as he puzzled my thoroughly inappropriate question for a five year old preschooler. I was about to rephrase the question when he grinned at me and said with his head cocked to the side, Lots of people love me.” 

    Stunned, I blurted out: “Like who?”

    Instantly he responded: “You, mommy, Cece, God, Nick (his cousin).” 

    Tears (even as I type this) wetted my vision. I looked him dead in the eye and said: “That’s right, buddy. You are deeply loved. Deeply.”

    ******

    How easy it is as a parent to forget this precious insight: before sin entered our world, before our child accomplishes or achieves anything, he/she is loved with an eternal, matchless, glorious love. There will be time for Deacon to learn that he is sinful (already he is in touch with his inability to know good or do the good he knows), already he looks to find self-worth in how many goals he scores in soccer, or how many toys he has that others don’t. Too often as a parent I’m tempted to function purely in this world between his sinfulness and self-esteem. But underneath his brokenness and around his esteem of self is the Love of God that took on flesh in Jesus Christ and continues to have flesh in his friends and family. In our world of only knowing self-esteem to deal with brokenness and shame, I’m learning- with and through my son- the importance of love holding one despite failures and shame.

    *******

    I sensed the Spirit saying to me, “Yes. This is good he knows this. Nurture and shepherd and protect this deep truth in him. This understanding is where his life will flourish and be blessed.” 

    But Father – I can’t…I don’t…I think it’s truer for him than it is for me.

    Come along, son. I’ll show you…

  • Making Disciples: What’s a Church to do?

    As the Spiritual Formation Pastor at River Valley Church I spend my time thinking, planning, praying, and shepherding towards the goal of Christlikeness in our congregation. It’s my ‘job’ but it’s more than that; I’m thoroughly convinced that if we don’t succeed in making disciples who make disciples in the local church we don’t really have a church – we have a well-meaning, but misguided, colossal waste of time.

     

    Is your church making disciples? 

    How would you know? How do you evaluate, measure, celebrate this process? 

    If someone asked you what your plan was to be discipled and make disciples in your own life what would you say? 

    What are you doing as a church that specifically focuses on this calling? 

    What are you doing as a church that hinders or interferes with this calling?

     

    One of my good friends, Bryan Marvel, is a pastor at Dunwoody Community Church in Atlanta, GA and they are asking exactly these kinds of questions. And January 25-27th I have the pleasure to spend some time with him and some passionate people of this church to have a focused conversation around the reality of making disciples. Do I recognize God’s presence and activity in my life? How do I learn to welcome God’s voice and respond to him? Am I the only one who cares about growing and maturing in the faith – or does God really care about that too? :) It’s going to be a fantastic weekend meeting new friends and drawing strength and encouragement from old ones. I hope during our time together we can gain a vision for what discipleship looks like in our everyday lives – not a high-minded theological ideal that we must attain, but a simple, reproducible, ordinary way of being with Jesus in our own world. The kind of understanding that can scandalize our lives, our families, and our neighborhoods with God’s love in Jesus.

     

    Praying even now that the Holy Spirit would work and move among us. And prepare our hearts now for what he has to show us, teach us, do in us to make us more like Jesus. For spiritual formation geeks like me, it doesn’t get any better than this!

  • Not all Doubt is Created Equal: The Significance of Questions and Doubt in our Faith

    “A questioner wants the truth. A doubter wants to be told there’s no such thing.” Cormac McCarthy

     

    Watching The Sunset Limited Sunday evening stirred some thoughts in me on the spiritual benefit of doubt. I’ve swung pretty dramatically from opposite poles with my doubts in my life as a Christian. Early on, there weren’t any. Then, as I began to ask questions and think and probe I found that doubts clawed and scratched at the fabric of my belief. They were threatening, awful – doubts were faithless and to be avoided at all costs. So I sought to destroy my doubts with truth (i.e. facts) or try to push them out of mind. But I noticed two things about this method of destroying/denying/ignoring doubts:

     

    1. They didn’t go away. Even with facts that answered doubts I seemed to create new doubts. Or – answers to doubts that seemed to work on closer inspection didn’t.

     

    2. I developed a fearful posture towards reality and truth. I sought to protect and defend ideas and lost the goal of the Christian life: love towards me that transformed my love. Hard to receive when you’re defending; hard to listen when you’re arguing; hard to love when your scared of doubt.

     

    When I lived destroying/denying/ignoring my doubts I became sort of a quasi-fundamentalist. Doubt was the enemy, certainty the ally. The only way to cure the poison of doubt was to inject the vaccine of answers. I became rigid and brittle in my thinking and engagement with other (competing) thoughts, ideas, truth claims, etc. My relationship with doubt stayed this way until I came across this quote from a pastor friend, Rich Vincent. He said:

     

    “Remember, the opposite of faith is not doubt, but a demand to control all things…Willfulness, not doubt, is the opposite of faith…Doubt is faith taking itself seriously.”
    – Rich Vincent

     

    “Doubt is faith taking itself seriously…” That is where I’ve been for the last 10 years. But Cormac McCarthy helped give me language to tease out what I’ve been chewing on for awhile now, namely: Not all doubt is created equal.

     

    For the sake of discussion, let’s propose there are (at least) two kinds of doubt: A doubt that questions and a doubt that attacks.

     

    1. A doubt that questions seeks to investigate reality in an open-handed way. This is the doubt I believe Rich is talking about – the kind of questioning that Mary exhibits when she asks the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” (Lk 1.34) This kind of doubt – a questioning, seeking posture of openness – is full of hope and love. It is a surrender of control and self-willfulness so that one can be united with One who is Great Mystery. A heart humbled by truth sees doubt as the doorway to dependence, questions as the path of righteousness and peace.

     

    2. A doubt that attacks seeks confirmation of skepticism and cynicism. Doubt that attacks is perpetually seeing through everything and never arriving at a vision OF something. Deconstruction that never evolves anywhere past itself often leads one to a doubt that attacks. This is the kind of doubt that doubts all things except Doubt itself. When I lived scared to death of doubt (as a quasi-fundamentalist) I had A LOT in common with this mindset. There is a brittleness, a hardness, a rigidity that sets in. Attacking doubt masquerades as honesty but in in fact a codified hardness against all challenging realities. Self – the controlling, self-willful posture that is the antithesis of abiding faith and abundant life – is King.

     

    It’s the difference between honoring doubt and feeding doubt. When we honor doubt we  listen to it, stand with Jesus in the midst of it, bring patience and kindness and love to ourselves and our doubts. Honoring doubt isn’t afraid of where it will take us because honest questions uncover the truth and lead to more faith. Feeding doubt never doubts doubt, but seeks to confirm and validate a posture of skepticism and distance. Feeding doubt ultimately ensconces Self as the one in control. Feeding doubt leads to Doubt being the only thing we trust. Honoring doubt allows our questions to be the miracle-grow for an abiding, abundant faith.

     

    What is your relationship with doubt and questions on your Christian journey? 

    Do you see the same (ironic) similarities between those who war against doubt with truth and those who give themselves over to it (i.e. doubt as attacking)? Why do you think that is? 

    In what ways is your experience different here? How would you articulate a questioning that leads to faith vs. a doubt that leads to despair? 

     

     

  • Covenant Triangle Questions

    Below is the Covenant Triangle. (If you’re unfamiliar with the Covenant Triangle, see this by Mike Breen). Every story, every teaching, every book of scripture is written through the lens of relationship (Covenant) and responsibility (Kingdom). Below is a teaching tool that summarizes the reality of Covenant from scripture:

    Some questions I use personally to align myself  rightly in the Covenant Triangle:

    1. Do I measure my closeness to God by how little I’m sinning? Or by my trust that, to the extent the Father loves Jesus, the Father loves me?
    2. Do I understand my primary identity as “saved sinner” or “saint who sins”?
    3. When I talk to God do I spend more time rehearsing my failures or enjoying His presence?
    4. What sort of preaching/teaching do I connect with? Am I drawn to pastors who are “tough on sin” and “let me have it” or those who encourage me to trust what God says about my identity in Jesus? Does their teaching reverse the flow of Father -> Identity -> Obedience?
    5. When I sit under this teaching/preaching do I get caught up in the Cycle of Religious Enslavement? Or does this teaching set me free to enjoy the ‘easy yoke’ of Jesus and live out of who God says I am?
    6. Do I believe that one day, with much effort and striving, I will eventually please God? Or do I believe that he is already pleased with me?
    7. Where is my focus: on overcoming sin or giving and receiving love from God and others? What do I measure? What do I count?
    8. When I engage in spiritual disciplines am I trusting them to fix me? Or – do I experience a spaciousness and opening up of my heart in them to receive grace?
    9. Do I believe that God has yet to change me? Do I still believe that my heart is desperately wicked and untrustworthy? Or do I believe that I, in fact, have been given a new heart by God and he is in the process of maturing (not changing) me?
    10. When I read commands in scripture do I internalize them as: “you ought…you must…you should…why can’t you…when will you…” or as “You may…you are able…you can…this is who you are now”?

     (Adapted from “The Cure” by John Lynch, Bruce McNicol, and Bill Thrall, p. 47-48)

     

    Do any of these questions resonate with you?

    What indications or signs do you look for that you aren’t rightly aligned in God’s covenant in Jesus?

    Do any of these questions cause disorientation or disagreement in you? Why is that? Feel free to ask questions and we can learn together!

  • Difference Between Prayerful and Neurotic Reflection: Working the Learning Circle with Jesus

    I’ve been using a discipleship vehicle at River Valley Church for about 18 months called a huddle. The foundational tool for this discipleship process is the Learning Circle.

     

    The time has come, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the good news. A fundamental assumption is that “today is the day of salvation” – every day, countless times a day, we are given opportunities/invitations to repent and believe the good news of the kingdom in Jesus. So – in huddle we learn to pay attention to these oppportunities so we can repent and believe. The Learning Circle tool looks like this:

    If at this point you’re completely lost, see more on the Learning Circle here. Then come back to this post

    The point of right side of the circle is to repent (see this and this post on repentance ). The second ‘step’ on the circle is Reflect. Reflect asks the question “why:”  Why did I feel like that? Why did I respond that way? Why does this keep happening? Why is this so hard for me to accept? The point of asking why is to get at the underlying or core issue/belief – what God wants to get his hands on. This all serves the purpose of hearing clearly from the Lord, “What is God saying to me?” So that I can turn toward the truth/reality of his Word and away from the illusion/sin/lie I’m living.

     

    I’ve noticed, though, there are two ways we can reflect:

     

    1. Prayerfully reflect = a conversation with God. I have compassionate concern for myself. I am mindful of what I am feeling/thinking w/o judging or condemning or fixing. I allow myself to be right where I am at b/c “God is so real he can only meet us where we really are.” (Thomas Merton) – My posture is one of curiosity, discovery, and compassionate concern for myself. In this practice I learn to treat myself as though I really believe that it’s the “kindness of the Lord that leads us to repentance” (Rom 2.4; see also 2 Peter 3.9) If we can’t be kind to ourselves in the midst of our desire to repent, then how can we experience the kindness of God? I’ve noticed in my life and in the lives of others that how we treat ourselves indicates who we think God really is AND inhibits how God actually is from entering our lives. Some prayers, phrases I use to prayerfully reflect are:

    • “Lord, teach me about ____________”
    • “I see this happening Lord and I don’t understand. I need your help.”
    • “I long to have your mind and heart on this, but right now I can’t get past this. Come, Lord Jesus. Be present in this now.”
    • “I trust your love and acceptance of me in the midst of my failures and shame. Uncover where I need to receive your lordship right now.”

     

    2. Neurotic reflection = looking for the next insight or tool that will fix me, or treating myself as though I have no Savior who loves me. This can turn into ‘navel gazing’ and become hopelessly self-centered, neurotic, and spiritually stifling. When I see a need to repent I am quick to judge and seek a fix to what I THINK my problem is. I end up telling myself what to do and never really repent b/c I never enter into a dialogue with Jesus to gain the “mind of Christ.” I miss out on what God is saying to me b/c I can’t get past what I’m saying to myself. And usually what I say to myself in neurotic reflection sounds like this:

    • “I’m such an idiot! I can believe I did this (again).”
    • “If I could just try harder next time this won’t happen (again).”
    • “God, I don’t know why you love me and put up with me. If I feel sorry enough will you forgive me?”

     

    Prayerful reflection trusts the character and work of Jesus more than whatever sin I’ve committed.

    Neurotic reflection trusts my sinful character and work more than the righteousness of Jesus.

    Prayerful reflection leads to bearing fruit, abiding in Christ, obedience, surrender, and the fruit of the Spirit (joy…peace…patience)

    Neurotic reflection leads to a harsh, critical posture with ourselves that spills over into others. Pressure mounts to conform, anger at sin is wrapped in self-loathing.

    Prayerful reflection understands that grace, love, forgiveness come to us in an experience with Jesus.

    Neurotic reflection keeps grace, love, and forgiveness safely distant as ideas and concepts we have to try harder  to believe in.

     

    What is your experience with repentance? 

    Can you relate to the distinction of prayerful vs. neurotic reflection? What words would you put to your experience? 

    What am I missing here? Any questions? 

     

  • Submissional Parenting: God’s Great Gift

    I’ve always felt pressure as a dad. Phrases reverberate in my mind: “spiritual leader of the home,” “model of manhood for my son,” “…as Christ loved the church…”. Some of them are helpful, some harmful – others just stress me out. Part of the marriage preparation I learned at Life on the Vine (and that I’m now adapting for River Valley) is the truth that Christian marriage is spiritual formation. Indeed, so is Christian parenting. (In fact – did you know that all of life is spiritual formation? :))God is teaching me to embrace Deacon (almost 4) and Celeste (5 months) as instruments of sanctification in my life. They teach me about Christ, reveal my weaknesses, show me how to trust and take heart, give me opportunities to “not be afraid, just believe!” It’s an at-home Holy Spirit P90x workout. So – with Deacon – here are two things God has been teaching me lately:

     

    1. I am really good at impulsively noticing and parenting bad behavior in Deacon. But God is showing me that he doesn’t parent my behavior – he Father’s my heart. He knows me, he searches me, he seeks me out in my hidden places, he speaks to me in my inmost being. He doesn’t want me to be a good-boy moralist, he wants me to be the Father’s Beloved. So, with Deacon, I’m learning to father his heart, not his behaviors. When I see behavior that needs to be corrected, I pray for insight and wisdom on what is going on inside of him so that I can help him sort out his feelings, thoughts, emotions…rather than just get him to do the right things via bribes, punishments and threats. There are still punishments – and promises of punishments – but instead of the key to behavior modification they are the results of his poor decisions (see #2 below). I don’t want to create a moralist…I want Deac (and Celeste) to grow up with awareness of what is happening to them in the midst of sin, weaknesses, difficult choices, and disappointments. And give them language to identify and describe it and meet God right there where they really are living. This is an insight I initially received from my friend Winn 4 years ago and I’ve been working it out with fear and trembling ever since.

     

    2. My mom used to say, “This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you”. I always thought that was a load of hooey…until I had kids I had to discipline. Teaching Deacon that he has power to choose – even when his feelings, thoughts, emotions are telling him to do something. We talk about repentance (changing our minds about things) all the time. I try to talk him through it – help him process using words an almost 4 year old can grasp. But when poor choices are made there HAVE to be consequences. And it does hurt me – sometimes because I see how upset he is…but sometimes because his punishments cost me what I want. LIke when we have to leave a friends house early, or go sit in the car after a tantrum, or he loses privileges that I really enjoy. Not making the good decisions for him – or shielding him from the consequences of his bad decisions – is a discipline of self-emptying love. Right now we’re learning being patient (he’s getting really good at that) and delaying gratification (not so good, yet). I honor his power – his choices matter. He knows that every time he chooses he is taking responsibility in his life.

     

    So – these are two ways I’m growing as a parent right now. How about you?

    What is God teaching you about parenting? 

    What is God revealing to you about himself through your kids?

    What truth about yourself has God shown you as you parent?

  • Jesus Revealed Video Series

     

     

    I remember when I first saw a Nooma video: I was a youth pastor at my first church looking for a way to provoke the imaginations and hearts of my kids. I was tired of ‘speeching ‘ at them and asking them questions and getting “Jesus/God/The Bible” sort of answers. Nooma was the first conversation starter I came across that wasn’t embarrassingly cheesy, boring, or cheaply produced in a way that left one thinking the Christian God had something against art. And yet, some Nooma videos were too cute; others, not enough substance. (others – were downright fantastic – it was a mixed bag). What I really wanted was a more historically rooted and biblically based conversation starter and teaching tool that had the production value and artistic cleverness of the Nooma series.

     

    Jesus Revealed is that video series. It consists of seven 12-15 minute clips narrated by Andy Frost on location in Palestine. Some of the narration is dramatically portrayed with incredible realism and artistic excellence. The man who plays Jesus in these videos (while a 5-10 too old, perhaps) is the best portrayal of our Lord I’ve seen on screen. Each clip comes with a discussion guide and can be broken up into 3-5 segments. It’s rare that a resource like this could appeal to youth and adults alike, but I think this one can. Our Jr. High Youth Pastor plans to show them during some small group times this summer and I plan to make them available to our adult home groups this fall and utilize them in other discipleship contexts.

     

    I highly recommend checking out the free clips that are available here.

     

    If you’re interested in ordering them you can do so here.

     

     

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