Sunday, May 27, 2012

"We are only to the H's?": Turning a graduation ceremony into a prayer opportunity

"We are only to the H's?" is a thought that has hit me more than once in the middle of a HS graduation ceremony.  Don't get me wrong, after 21 years of student ministry, I really do love attending graduations and supporting students and families.  And, as a people watcher, there are lots of people to watch at these things (graduations can provide extra-special sociological experiences).  Still, in the middle of the H's, the "is this almost over" feeling can creep in on a guy.

Here is a way to beat that "We are only to the H's" feeling at graduation--PRAY!  Think about it.  You are listening to every name of every graduating senior of that High School.  Why not pray for every name being announced?  At larger schools you have to pray fast before the next name is announced, but ask the Father to bless the student's faith, future and family (three F's should be easy to remember).  Who knows, the Lord may use you for a Divine Appointment in one of those lives someday!  

Enjoy Graduation, the people watching and the prayer time!  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

After the Big "S" Talk: Cyberspace and Students

Fact:  When you talk about the big "S" word at church, SEX, students and adults both get a little or a lot uncomfortable.

In recent years, the after the "talk"  follow up questions from parents and guardians seem to revolve around how to navigate and gain more control over the ever-changing and somewhat frightening cyber-space landscape of Facebook, Twitter, cell-phones, internet, game counsels and...etc (there are a number of social apps and connection points).   If you are reading this blog and can remember a world before the World Wide Web, you probably understand why such a line of questioning exists.  The parents of the pre-www generation kept TV's out of bedrooms and could control phone usage at night (unless you had a phone outlet in your room, it is hard to hide a phone cord trailing into your bedroom).  Here are some practical suggestions parents can implement to navigate and gain more control over all that technology "stuff." 
  • Push back technology.  It is alright to tell your student "NO!"  Contrary to popular belief of your student, everyone does not have a phone, Facebook account and a computer in their room.  Remember, once you say "yes," it is difficult to turn back--how you start is how you finish.  And yes, you will have to say "yes" at some point.  It is your decision, but today's student has known no other world than a world with cyberspace.  Today's student have to learn navigation and control at some point in order to interact with the surrounding culture (I know some may have a problem with that last sentence, but I believe it is a reality and teaching burden for today's parents/guardians).
  • Set and enforce limits.  Setting limits when the privilege of technology is given is imperative to controlling the impact of cyberspace.  From phone to game console, limits on time, types of usage, ratings, acceptable apps are not bad. If you are a "next time you do this I will..." parent and struggle with rule enforcement, get a back bone because the lack of enforcement will come back to haunt you.  Oh, taking away a cell phone or other "screens" for a time does wonders for a student's behavior--don't ask me how I know.
  • Be a creeper.  Be up front with your student and let them know Facebook, Twitter, text messages and other cyberspace platforms and messaging services will be checked often for accountability and appropriateness.  Get their passwords!  If you have not done this already, put accountability software on your student's (and your) phone and computers.  Here are a few resources I recommend you check out: and  This is my opinion, I would do this today.  Yes, at some point, your student will be independent of such control.  However, until they leave home, I suggest the creeper agreement remain intact. 
  • Pay attention to ratings and age appropriate platforms.  I am amazed at the number of students, under acceptable age, that have a Facebook account or play adult rated games.  There is a reason the ratings are given.  As you will see below, student do not always know the impact of photos and status updates can have on their present and future (I will avoid the soapbox I would love to jump on at this point).
  • Be a student of technology.  I am not saying you have to be an expert but you need to be informed to in set and enforce limits (btw: my teenager teaches me a lot about MY iPhone--teenagers are a great source of information). A website I would recommend to help keep up to date on all things culture is Dr. Walt Mueller's at  A great resource.
Recently, one of the Hill's crack, veteran student ministers, Darin Hollingsworth, shared an interview he came across on the Today Show.   The interview with James Steyer, Talking Back to Facebook,  illustrates many of the common sense suggestions above and adds great perspective and insight for parents  As you can see, cyber-space navigation and safety is a hot button topic.  There are a lot of resources available for parents and guardians--commit to access and practice those resources.  It is ALWAYS better to be proactive than reactive or pick up the pieces after a cyber "incident" occurs.

Monday, May 7, 2012

No Excuses!

Okay...this is a motivational video!

It may be the Spring Football Season and I am a little fired up about getting students motivated for competition.  Still, this video shared by a close friend (Thanks Dr. Kempe--one of B.I.S.D.'s finest)  fired me up!  So, whatever the season of competition or "life struggle" you are facing, this video will take inventory of all the excuses we dare give and challenge us to dig deeper.

This video should fire up any who step into the competition arena to give there all! Coaches, you should use this video--just sayin'.  

I know it is often used WAY OUT of context, but Phil. 4:13 comes to mind when watching this video.
The Apostle Paul, facing all kinds of situations, good and bad, in his journey with Christ, could have quit and given in to any number of excuses.  Yet, catch the surrounding verses, here is what Paul wrote:

...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Paul is not guaranteeing a State, National or World Sport Championship in these verses.  He is not guaranteeing a won election, a passing grade or the spouse of your dreams (all of these would be nice).  What Paul is guaranteeing is joyful, purpose filled, focused, no EXCUSE survival for those focused on following the way of Christ--even in the face of pain and trial! whatever life circumstance you are facing...What's your excuse?  

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Day after a "Day"

I am attending a Community in Schools banquet with my wife tonight! My role is the trophy husband (not that much of a "trophy" but always wanted to say that) and to show up at her side in a few minutes to greet people and such (it is an 80's theme banquet and people are wearing old letter jackets. No, I am not wearing mine but did think twice about feathering my remaining hairs).  Here is the view from my cyber cafe' perch in downtown Fort Worth.

I was simply going to come up here and watch ESPN, but the bustle below inspired me to share a few thoughts on the day after a "Day."  The day after a "day" is the day following the day a major event occurs in your life (I hope you followed that).  The major event could be a great accomplishment (conversion, marriage, birth of a child, accomplishment at work, school, sports, etc.) or it could be a great loss and/or disappointment (death of a loved one, the divorce is finalized, disappointment in a child's conduct, your efforts at works, school, sports, etc. are not quit good enough).  The day after a day is often a very interesting day to navigate.  Why?  Simply put, something intense has happened (good or bad) and the majority of the people you pass are going about their business as if nothing happened.  Sure, if the "day" is big enough, people notice; but eventually, the unavoidable day after the day occurs.

A championship is won and the celebration begins.  Eventually, you have to get ready for the next season.
A death of a loved one occurs and the grieving process begins.  Eventually, you have to learn how to live life without them.
A promotion is awarded you at work gaining more responsibility and pay. Eventually, you have to adjust the balance of your life to the greater expectations.
A significant "day" occurs in your life.  Eventually, you realize the day is not as significant to others who pass you on the street.

The day after a day is indeed an interesting day to navigate.  If you are facing one of those "days," let me offer three practical navigation suggestions:

  • What you are experiencing is a good thing.  It is a natural and unavoidable process of returning to a normal balance of life. The "day," or should I say series of days, have to be lived in order to heal from a loss or grow from an accomplishment. 
  • Remember that our Father in Heaven never forgets the "day." It is a fact, even though it may be impossible for you, the attention focused on your day will pass, at some point, from the remembrance of others--it is normal.  Even so, our Father never forgets.  I am sure that's why Paul pleads with the Philippians to take their cares and burdens to the Lord and receive the peace He alone can give (Phil. 4).  
  • Help others remember and celebrate their "day(s)." Yes, even if you are having that day after the day experience help others navigate their interesting day (sorry about the confusing sentence again--it's unavoidable).  Help others celebrate and grieve significant days through a phone call, text, e-mail message, card (old fashion I know), prayer, etc.  As a recipient of such loving remembrance, I can tell you it means a great deal.  The significance of sharing celebration and grief with others is at the core of how Paul told the Corinthians to live as a community of believers         (I Cor. 12). 
Well, my time is up and I have to go and begin my trophy husband duties.  Yes, I just saw a letter jacket walk by.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May 2nd: We Still Remember!

There is a sacred hush that comes over my heart and that of my wife every May 2nd--I guess it always will.

It has been thirteen years since the first May 2nd burned its impression into our hearts.

The Green Lawn youth group was driving back from an awesome spring retreat in the mountains of New Mexico when a 5th wheel trailer struck the bus I was driving, ripping through the  side, leaving a trail of destruction and taking the lives of six precious young ladies.  In total, seven lives were lost that day (a passenger traveling behind our bus was the seventh fatality) and thousands more impacted by the staggering losses of the day.

Our lives will never be the same, because we dare not let those we love go a moment without knowing of that love.
Our lives will never be the same, because we often hurt for those who have lost precious moments with their little girls, sisters and friends.
Our lives will never be the same, because we can not deny the peace we have in knowing that those we lost are with the Lord--a blessed peace beyond understanding.
Our lives will never be the same, because in tragic death the victory of Christ is certain--the tomb is empty!
Our lives will never be the same, because they are filled with a deeper longing for Heaven.

I keep this key in my desk.

It was one of the things I took from the bus on that day and something I see often and keep as a reminder.   A reminder to pray for the families and all those involved in the tragic events of that first May 2nd.  It also serves as a reminder to live the remaining years of my life with wild abandon and love of my Lord, Lisa, Braeden, Shelbee, family and those I am blessed to minister with and to.

As the sacred hush of this May 2nd nears a close, the Lord brings these verses to mind:

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed  in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
 “Where, O death, is your victory?    Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (I Corinthians 15:22ff). all those whose heart keeps May 2nd close, until that Great Reunion Day, labor on in the Victory of our Lord Jesus Christ!