Helping Teens Respond to Tragedies and Difficult Situations

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When tragedies or difficult situations come up in our teens’ lives, our reactions to these events directly affect how our child will respond. As parents, we need to remember to think clearly and carefully about how we react to the news around us. For the last 10 years I have worked with teenagers and I understand the difficulty it is raise teenagers in a world where school shootings and worldly ideas are tossed in their faces every minute.  As parents, we need to be proactive in starting up a conversation with our children so that they can process what is happening in the world around them through the eyes of God.

I want to encourage and suggest several things that we can implement when helping our children process tragedies and difficult situations.

PRAY for what happened

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22

This may seem like an obvious response to tragedies or difficult situations, but how often do we receive bad news and we forget to pray.  We often have a knee jerk response to situations that come our way.  When we go to prayer first, we are able to surrender the situation to God.  Also when we pray with our children, we help them see that God is real, that he cares about what we are going through, and that God is relevant in our lives.

After the Connecticut shooting in 2012, Scotty Smith wrote a model for how to pray in the midst of pain:
Dear Lord Jesus, we abandon ourselves to you tonight—we come running with our tears and our fears, our anger and our anguish, our lament and our longings. We collapse in your presence, with the assurance of your welcome, needing the mercies of your heart.

Some stories are just too much for us to absorb; some evil just too great to conceive; some losses beyond all measurability. We need your tears and your strength tonight. That you wept outside the tomb of a beloved friend frees us to groan and mourn; that you conquered his death with yours, frees us to hope and wait.

But we turn our thoughts from ourselves to the families who have suffered an unconscionable violation of heart and all sensibilities. Bring your presence to bear, Lord Jesus, by your Spirit and through your people. May your servants weep with those who weep and wail with those who wail. Extend your tear wiping hand—reach into this great tragedy with an even greater grace.

GRIEVE for what happened

As Christians, we are called to weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:15). Often times in difficult situations or tragedies it is tempting to solve problems, make excuses, start action plans before simply being silent and grieving the situation. When we grieve we teach our children compassion, empathy, and the importance of being a part of a community that grieves together.

Christian author Trillia Newbell writes,
When your friend is weeping it’s hard to say, “I don’t know, I don’t understand.” We want to know. We want to bring comfort, but in our attempt to “fix it” we can forget that there’s a real person in deep sorrow. Your friend, coworker, or relative is not a faucet to be fixed—they are flesh and blood to be loved. Those moments when you’re anxiously trying to find the perfect words are often the best moments to humbly embrace your weakness and lack of knowledge.

To be clear, waiting doesn’t mean never sharing perceived wisdom. Waiting might actually involve acknowledging you do understand. You understand your friend’s sorrow enough to be willing to bridle your tongue, to speak carefully and thoughtfully, to pray and wait.

LOVE those involved

Mark 12:30-31
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

This is the major theme in the Bible. In fact, it is one of the most important things that Jesus talks about.  As parents, we need to model to our children what it means to respond with love in the face of tragedy and difficult situations.  It is easy for us to love those who are easy to love.  But Jesus calls us also to love those who are difficult to love, and for those who persecute us.

We have the responsibility/privilege to model Christ’s love to our children.  Love is also part of the solution to whatever tragedy/difficult situation we come across.  People need to be loved, and people need to know of the love that God has for them.

KEEP the Gospel Central

And finally the Gospel needs to be brought into the story. In every difficult situation or tragedy sin is the root of the problem.  The person who made a plan to harm others, the person who said those hurtful things, still needs to hear the Gospel.  It is our responsibility to share the Gospel with all of creation (Mark 16:15).  We are also commanded to make disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:19). How can we bring the Gospel conversation into situations with our children?

As parents we are the primary influence in the lives of our children. How we act and respond to our world is important because it is teaching our children how to act and respond.  When tragedy or difficult things come our way, take the time to PRAY, GRIEVE, LOVE, and KEEP the GOSPEL central in our response.  One of the greatest things we can do is model an active spiritual walk in front of and alongside our kids.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 27:1

Kelly Lofy

Jr. High Director- Calvary Community Church

Kelly@calvarycommunity.net

262-325-9838

www.calvarypier.net

Always Teaching

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What am I teaching the world around me as I live day to day? How I will respond to the things the Lord brings my way exposes my heart. Puritan writer Jeremiah Burroughs illustrated, “As it is with a vessel that is full of liquor, if you strike it, it will make no great noise, but if it is empty then it makes a great noise; so it is with the heart, a heart that is full of grace and goodness within will bear a great many strokes, and never make any noise, but if an empty heart is struck it will make a noise. “ When I think of this quote I am drawn to thinking about what I am teaching my children by my actions. What vessel am I?

I tell my children to obey authority because all authority is given by God, but do I obey authority as such. I tell my children that God is worthy of all honor and praise, but do I live that way? When my children come with worries and tears I tell them God is in control, yet I quickly live my life as if I am in control. I teach them what it means to be a godly man and a godly woman and as the words are coming out of my mouth, I quickly think of all the ways I fall short. But thanks be to God who gives me the victory through Jesus Christ (I Cor. 15:57)!

When God gives you the gift of a child, He does not wait until you are completely sanctified and a perfect parent. What God does give us is His Word. Each day I need to continually renew my mind with His Word in order to face the day.

For the rest of the month of April in Cornerstone at 9 am on Sundays, we will be exploring practical ways of parenting in this world. Every parent is inadequate on their own without God. May we rest in Him and draw strength each day from His Word.

Praying for you in this journey.

Hope to see you there!

Pastor Tim

Parenting during Holy Week

 

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As a father of three, it is so easy to get caught up in the daily grind that it is easy to forget completely about the true beauty of Easter. Thankfully, Palm Sunday reminds us that Easter is coming. Every Palm Sunday since my children were born I ask myself, “How can I teach my children during this week the importance of Holy Week?”. So much happened in one week! How do I teach my children the depth of Easter?

66% of the Gospel of John focuses on the last week of Christ. Yet, as a family we seem to place more emphasis on Christmas than Easter. So I ask myself, “How can a family truly begin to grasp the obedience of Christ, the beauty of sins forgiven, the horror of the cross and the celebration of eternal life in one week?”

Here are some suggestions:

Read the Holy Week Narrative each day of the Holy Week:

Day 1 (Palm Sunday): Read Matthew 21:1-11.

Day 2: Read Matthew 21:12-20 and John 12:1-14.

Day 3: Read Matthew 21:20-27.

Day 4: Read Luke 22:1-6 and Mark 14:1-11.

Day 5 (Last Supper): Read John 19:1-16 and Isaiah 54:7.

Day 6 (Good Friday): Read Mark 14:53-15:41Isaiah 53:5-6, and 1 Peter 1:18-21.

Day 7: Read John 19:38-42 and Romans 6:22-23.

Day 8 (The Resurrection): Read Mark 16:1-7 and Matthew 28:1-20.

Another suggestion:

Thursday-watch the Seder meal explained from a Messianic Jew: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBGz3k37kDE

Friday-attend a Good Friday Service

Sunday-Celebrate the Risen Savior in Church

Another suggestion:

Use Creation to the Cross Candles as an object lesson about the darkness sin brings and the light of Jesus.

(Please see PT for a copy of Creation to the Cross Pamphlet)

For those who attend Calvary Community Church, we will have several more resources at the Family Connect Table this weekend. Please stop by and I hope to see you!

Pastor Tim

This World or the Next?

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February 13, 2018 was a time that USA Olympian Chloe Kim will never forget. 17 year old Chloe Kim won her first ever gold medal in women’s halfpipe. Her father and mother were overjoyed to see her succeed and represent her country.

The next day a picture of her father proudly smiling at the Olympics was twittered. An NBC commentator commented on the picture. The commentator said, “There is no greater joy as a parent than to see your daughter win a gold medal.”

The line hit me, “no greater joy as a parent than to see your daughter win a gold medal.” As a father of three children, what is my greatest joy as a parent?

In which world am I training my child to succeed?

If it is this world, I should save every penny to send them to the best school possible, to sacrifice my time to make sure they have everything they need to succeed either in sports or academics. But if I am training them to succeed in the next world, do I care if they are the best athlete, do I care if they have all straight A’s, and do I care if the fit in with the hip crowd.

Am I training my children to be defined by their talents or career choice or am I training them that being a person of godly character who pursues Christ as their greatest reward  is the highest goal?

III John 3:4- “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

Dear God, as a father it is easy to define success in earthly terms. I want my children to be successful, but I want that success to be defined by Your Word. Forgive me for getting my priorities out of a line from Your truth. May I teach my children that there is no greater joy than to walk in the truth of God.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

-Tim Yorgey

What a moral surrender to pornography looks like

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Click here to listen

Next, we shift to a 1-2 punch on the issue of pornography in Sunday’s edition of the New York Times, most importantly the cover story in the New York Times Magazine. Now I just have to tell you right up front that I’m not going to be able to say much about this article which is the cover story in the magazine. It is simply far too explicit. It’s too explicit even for a magazine like the New York Times Magazine to a run just a few years ago but that just tells you something about how the moral context of our country has changed utterly and decidedly just over the last several years. The important thing to recognize here is that the catalyst for the moral change we are observing on this issue is the arrival of the digital revolution and the near continuous and universal access to pornography.

The cover story’s main point has to do with the fact that it has argued in the article that pornography has become the main vehicle for sex education amongst American teenagers. Maggie Jones writing the article tells us that many teenagers are fully aware of the fact that pornography is omnipresent in their lives. And many of these teenagers do not appear to be particularly happy about it. But access to pornography, consuming pornography, appears to be such a given in terms of the adolescent experience in America today that the New York Times Magazine article is mostly important because of its central message. It’s a central message to Americans, including American parents, this is simply a reality you’re going to have to find a way to deal with it.

It’s incredibly telling that in this article the main point is actually not a moral verdict on pornography at all. It’s as if as a society we’re really past the ability to render this kind of moral judgment, but it is a cry of concern about what this is doing in the actual lives of teenagers not only when they are adolescents but when they become young adults. And it’s a warning that this has been particularly damaging to young women. Amongst the things mentioned in the article is the fact that pornography has changed utterly the sexual expectations of boys and young men.

The statistics about the pervasiveness of pornography in the article are really these days no longer shocking simply because we have seen the same statistics over and over again. One new number included in this article however is the fact that American parents by a very wide gap underestimate both whether and how often their own children are viewing pornography. Without going into the numbers, the citation is from a report done in Indiana University in 2016, I simply quote this,

“Half as many parents thought their 14- and 18-year-olds had seen porn as had in fact watched it.”

Where morality does enter into the consideration of this article in the New York Times Magazine, it mostly has to do with the impact that there is a different impact on males and females, and that women are particularly vulnerable as our young girls. The implication here is that the main moral principle of concern would be the presence of sexism and the perpetuation of sexism by means of pornography. But the shock value of the article presumably even to readers of the New York Times is the fact that the point of the article is that parents should consider how to educate their own teenagers not so much in whether to view pornography but how.

In one amazing paragraph in the article, it actually suggests that the moral issue is not whether or not teenagers are looking at pornography but what kind of pornography they are viewing and whether or not it brings out a certain form of sexism in them. One source cited in the article said and I quote,

“I think porn can be a good thing to have as an outlet. I’m not scared by explicit sex per se. I’m afraid of the bad values.”

Now just consider the moral universe in which those sentences can be put together in which it’s an affirmation of pornography at the same time arguing that the concern would be bad values in pornography. The assumption here and we should note is the argument that parents should direct their teenagers toward pornography with better values rather than worse.

The article basically champions an approach that is known in some places as porn literacy in which teenagers are taught how to view pornography in a more discriminating fashion. I’m going to leave the New York Times Magazine article at that. There’s really not much more I can say about it, but I did need to say that much because you are looking at a major milestone in the moral context of our culture. When you’re looking at the moral revolution, it’s one thing to consider how these kinds of issues are addressed to adults. It’s yet another thing to consider how parents are here being told that they need to join the revolution when it comes to pornography with and for their own children.

by Albert Molher

Give Me a Break!

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It was a long day with many meetings, dealing with people that did not understand my point of view. Wouldn’t the world be great if everyone thought like me. I am tired and just want a break. As I walk into the house, I am mentally and physically tired. I do not feel like parenting right now.

Wait a minute–do I ever stop parenting? Do I ever stop teaching my children about God? The more I sit here, I begin to realize that everything I do is teaching my children about God.

I need to ask myself, am I living a life that teaches my children that God is at the center of my life. Or, am I living a life that teaches my children there is no God or that God is irrelevant to my life?

My reaction to every situation, from when I wake up in the morning to when I go to sleep at night, will be showing my children my view of God.

My prayer for all of us is to recognize our daily need for Christ and to live a life that points our children to Him.

Acts 17:28a “For in him we live and move and have our being.”

Self-discipline through Dislexia

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I was born in 8019, wait a minute…I mean 1980. You meant what I know.

After becoming very ill with a high fever and almost dying at age three, little did my parents know what ramifications would arise from the illness. God had kept my life for a purpose. That is right, very early on in my life (around 1st grade) it became very clear that I had vision problems as well as other learning problems which included dyslexia. I struggled severely with reading and spelling. This set me on a course of intense struggle in learning. My struggles in learning brought long nights of homework with my parents, many tears and many failing grades. I was the boy praying fervently every reading time in class that the teacher would not call on me to read. This caused me to hate going to school. I wanted to quit learning. I did not realize this thorn was a gift from God.

A quick honest assessment of my struggles—yes, reading and spelling were hard for me. I would try and fail, try again and fail again and give up. I did struggle with being lazy as a boy. There were times I know I was not doing my best and I tried to hide behind my learning struggles. Yet, I had parents and teachers that would not give up. They did not label me and allow me to use my struggle as an excuse. If a D average was the best I could do, then I should have straight D’s. No F’s allowed.

My parents and I both had many tear-filled nights over homework. I would get angry because I was frustrated because I could not even understand what I was reading. Thankfully, my parents disciplined me when I got angry, they did not give me a pass for disobedience because I was a child with learning struggles. They loved me well in Christ and showed grace when needed, but they did not allow me to take the easy path. I heard many times, “Just because something is hard is not reason to get angry.” I would respond, “But it is hard, I can’t do this stuff!” I would hear, “Just because things are hard in life does not mean you do not have to do it.” It was a gift to be able to graduate from high school and much to the surprise of many, God had more instore including becoming a teacher and pursuing seminary and church ministry by God’s grace. God was using my parents and dyslexia to shape and mold my character. Little did I know what God’s Providential Hand would bring to my life. He guided with both a firm and gentle hand through teachers and especially my parents—vessels used to show me what true self-discipline and diligence meant.

If you are a parent with a child that is struggling in school, my heart goes out to you. I empathize with you. There is hope. Please continue to love and be patient with your child. God is working on you as well as them. But please understand that these struggles your child is going through are a gift from God, not a curse. Also, when the hard times come I pray that God gives you wisdom to shepherd their heart through those times. May you have wisdom to know how to walk your child through God-honoring responses to hard, difficult, seemingly impossible work. God is faithful and will have His perfect work in you and your child.

Romans 5:3-5

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…”

 

P.S.- I did name my first child, Hannah. It helped with spelling.

 

Milestones in Life

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When I lived in Pennsylvania the bus we took to school would drive by a rock that had been placed right outside an old tavern. I could tell something had been carved on the rock, but I could never read it fast enough as the bus went bouncing by the rock. Once I could drive myself to school, I stopped and read the inscription carved on the rock. The rock was a milestone marker which stated how many miles it was to Philadelphia. It was placed there for travelers, young and old, to gage how much longer until they reached the city.

Milestones are important because they help us know and understand several truths:

  1. We are on the correct path.
  2. We can see where the path is going,
  3. We can see how far away we are from the destination.

In life there are milestones we all go through. Obviously, the first milestone is birth. Most will say becoming a teen and then an adult are the other milestones. Yet we are still left with the questions:

  • When does a teen become and adult?
  • Are there other milestones in a child’s life?
  • Are there spiritual milestones?

We will be exploring these questions October 14th, at Calvary Community Church, from 9-11 am.

For more information: please email me at tim@calvarycommunity.net.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6

 

To go or not to go…that is the question

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Mommy can we….? This is a statement that we hear all throughout the day. How do we determine as a family what we are going to do and why we are going to do it? The world around us is continually giving more and more options. Each family has been given the same amount of time each week, but each family does not do the same things with their time. With all the options in this world,how does a family decide what is best?

We need families to be proactive when looking at their weekly schedule instead of just reacting to the outside pressures on their time. In order to do this we as parents need to understand what it important and what is secondary.

At the root of every decision is the question, “Which world am I preparing my child for-this world or the next?’

If you want to explore this topic more and have a chance to become a more focused family. Come to the Proactive Parenting class this Saturday August 19th, 9-11 am at Calvary Community Church, Williams Bay, Wisconsin. If you are planning on coming email me at tim@calvarycommunity.net