It is only when I’m hooking my life to the glory and grace of God and getting my identity from him that I can truly live with singleness of focus for the long run. This is because it is only God who has the power to satisfy my heart. I was made for him. I was made to have my life shaped by an acknowledgment of his presence, a rest in his love, and an active allegiance to his purposes. When I live this way, my soul is satisfied and my heart is at rest.

Paul David Tripp

a SHELTER in the time OF STORM (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009), 81

Orange Conference 2014

©2014 The reThink Group, Inc. All rights reserved. www.ThinkOrange.com©2014 The reThink Group, Inc. All rights reserved. www.ThinkOrange.com

This week at the Orange Conference has been a special one. We heard things about… same-sex attraction and middle school ministry…depression and the church… why the church kills so many marriages, and everything in between. I’ve seen it all and argued both sides of nearly every point in my church ministry career, so I can appreciate an environment with tension in the air.

This conference, this week, we embraced the tension. Just some of what we heard from Reggie Joiner on the opening night summed it up:

You can KNOW God, but God is a MYSTERY

You can become a Christian in a MOMENT, but it will take FOREVER to understand what that means

You can trust that the BIBLE is true, but everything true about LIFE isn’t in the Bible

TRUST leads to stronger faith, but DOUBT also leads to stronger faith.

You should enjoy the CHURCH and you should enjoy living in God’s created WORLD.

Your BELIEFS matter, but PEOPLE matter more.

God has an IDEAL for your life, but God also uses BROKEN people.

That God is GOOD and that you should DO good.

If you’d like to take some of The Orange Conference 2014 home with you, then keep an eye out on http://theorangeconference.com/ for information on how you could purchase recordings from breakouts and main sessions from this awesome week together.

Orange 2014

Orange 2012

Beginning in 2008 and continuing into 2014…I’ll be at THE Orange Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. This year takes on an entirely new flavor, but I feel like maybe I say that every year.

Orange, is special to me. It’s “just a conference”, if Thanksgiving is “just a Thursday.” It’s the place I see a family of people that love families all across the world. It’s the beginning of new friendships. It’s a place that I go to spend time with those that love the same things that I love. If you are here in Atlanta, I’d love to see you and spend time over some coffee.

If you aren’t here in Atlanta, but are interested in hearing from the likes of Mark Batterson, Derwin Gray, Sue Miller, Perry Noble, Andy Stanley, Jon Acuff, and Reggie Joiner…then join us live online beginning on Wednesday and throughout the week. Don’t wait until Wednesday to check it out, you’ll need to RSVP for your online spot!

We are Again Circling

changing-directions

Sometimes you think you know,  believe,  and embrace a Biblical principle…but then you bump up against that principle in a way you didn’t control, plan, or imagine.

This family has circled for most of the time this family has been “this family”,  looking for a place to land. We thought we found it, came in hard for the landing, and put the plane in the hangar. We slammed the door on the hangar and locked it up, thinking we were finished with the circling; didn’t need the plane. We had landed. We were home.

“You don’t even know what your life tomorrow will be! You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears. What you should say is this: “If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:14

In our hearts, in spite of the warnings of Scripture, we thought we knew what our tomorrows looked like. We read “You don’t know what your life tomorrow will be” and nodded our heads in affirmation, but in our hearts thought “of course we do.” But what we’ve experienced regarding our “landing”, is that the Lord was not willing. The life here in Athens, GA that we were planning on,  was not what He had in mind for us.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

And so, we are again circling. God has allowed some sadness and confusion in the changing of our course and in the dissolving of our well laid plans, but we are confident we are in His hands. We have been uprooted, but the master gardener uproots and prunes with tender care, and He will plant us where He wants us.

We are no longer on staff at the church that brought us to Georgia. Resignation from the church did not come easily, but we know that an easy life is not we are promised, or even want. We are waiting on the Lord to see what He has in mind for us. We are prayerful that He will make his plans for us clear, and hopeful that we will bear well the weight of the waiting: waiting for His plans for us to take shape in a way we can see and take firm hold of. We will see what the Lord has in mind,  and we are confident it is for our good. He goes before us.

“But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the Lord will go before you… ” Isaiah 52:12

While we are waiting in this in between, we have fixed our eyes on Jesus, and found that He is good. He never disappoints.

I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.”  Jeremiah 32:39-41

 

Choose Their Friends

Friends

Did you know that if you’re a parent, you can decide who your children are friends with? This plan doesn’t work entirely if you start trying to do this when they are teenagers; but there is some merit to the idea. When your children are little, you are the one that decides who they spend time with and how much time they spend with everyone. Use the opportunity when they’re young to begin doing the little things, and planning for the pre-teen and teenage years.

Screen their friends. It’s simple really. Encourage quality time with those people you want them to be around, and limit the time with those less positive influences. Just don’t become judgemental and separatist in your behavior.

Awareness. Become aware of who they are spending time around and become involved in their social life when the opportunities are there. Regular conversation with the

SchoolBe involved in the social parts of school life. Friendships at school are totally different than church friendships, and can quickly become a loud voice in your kids life.

Be Smart. Specifically in regards to smart phones. A parent who doesn’t know their kid’s FaceBook password is a parent who doesn’t know the company their kids keep.

Make yourself friendly. Make it a goal of yours to become friends with the friends of your kids. Volunteer to drive kids to events, host get-togethers at your house, and do whatever it takes to responsibly become a part of the lives of the kids around your children.

I Corinthians 15:33 “Bad company corrupts good character.”