From the ER…

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Blog-From-the-ER-04.28.17The story of the nightly drama in the ER is no respecter of persons. Old. Young. Very old. Very young. Concerned family and friends. Worry. Panic. There are so many individuals here whose story plays out in moments. This is also our story corporately as a people, as a community, as image bearers of God.

The Players 

Patients – everyone is here. The single man walking in with blood running down his arm. The elderly woman being pushed in a wheel chair by a seemingly very concerned (and also elderly) son. An infant cuddled under a blanket by his mommy. A veteran cold and shivering under a blanket. A man surrounded by family seeking to make him comfortable. A screaming mom with a newborn. A young woman helping her husband. Plus a room full of others.

Helpers – everyone is here too. Nurses seeking to discern the problem through triage and in-room care. Doctors hustling between so many patients. Security posted and aware. Support staff aplenty.

The Problem 

Complicated. Complicated indeed. In terms of the various individual stories, people are hurt and hurting. It is easy to see the pain. Miserable they are. Some are agitated, others are still, many are reflective, and very few are laughing. So many are a mix between scared, concerned, and worried. The physical problem is visible on some and invisible on most. They wear their pain.

What’s the corporate problem? Sin and suffering. Personal sin and Adam’s sin. We all suffer under the curse of Adam’s sin. The universe generally and individuals specifically do not function the way God intended. Our bodies fail. Our hearts (inner man) fail too. We chase false gods, believe empty promises, and serve worthless idols. We trip over our own desires. We misjudge our strength and underestimate our weakness.

The Hope 

Individually we wait together for answers this evening. We pray doctors are wise. We trust nurses with our care. We put our faith in blood tests, x-rays, and observational skill. We depend on others’ education, internships, and fellowships. We do not have any other choice than to trust what we hear, submit to what we are told, and wait. Wait. Wait.

Corporately we also wait. The whole universe groans for redemption (Romans 8:18-22). We do as individuals too (Romans 8:23-25). We look forward to that day (2 Corinthians 5:1-10). We pray concerning that day. We sing as we contemplate it. “What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see…” and so many more.

The Help 

As individuals, God showers us with His mercy through the grace shown by doctors, nurses, and so many more. Grace comes through many avenues such as an unexpected smile, a soft greeting, a warm blanket, or a determined doctor. A diagnosis. Medicine or some other kind of intervention. Relief.

Corporately, we only have one hope. All these people. All these faces. All these individual lives. All of us, our hope is Jesus Christ. We can not fix the world around us. We can not provide or earn our own redemption. Only Jesus could pay the debt owed for our sins. His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead provides the opportunity for the forgiveness of sins (John 3:16-18). In Adam, we all face the penalty for our sin, in Jesus we can have hope for eternal life (Romans 5:1-19).

The Finale 

The stories of all these individuals tonight, here, right now continue. All of them different. But time rolls on.

The finale of our story is different. We know what happens. We have confidence that redemption draws closer each day. Paul exclaimed that to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Join the Conversation

What’s your story as part of our story or His story?

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I’m fat. – A Gospel Conversation with Your Teenager

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Blog-Im-Fat-04.06.17

by Jay Younts

Your 13 year old daughter, whom you think could gain a few pounds, has just announced to you, “I’m fat.” You are really puzzled so you say,

“No way, you’re fat. Why would you even say that?”

With eyes that show grim determination, she says:
“Mom, you don’t get it. Compared to everyone at school, I’m fat. I need to lose weight. I can’t keep going to school like this. Look at me, I’m all puffy!”

“Sarah, that’s ridiculous! You’re not fat. You’re healthy. Don’t be controlled by such silly ideas. There is nothing wrong with your weight, in fact, I think you could gain some.”

“Ugh! Mom you don’t get it. I knew I shouldn’t have talked to you. Fine, don’t worry about it! I’ll lose the weight by myself!”

Sarah is barreling into puberty. She is taller than several of her friends and, like many girls in their early teens, she is uncertain and uncomfortable with all the changes in her life. She doesn’t like her period. She doesn’t know what to think or feel about the physical changes in her appearance. She just knows she is miserable with her looks in a teen sub-culture obsessed with appearance.

Unknown to her parents, a boy Sarah used to like told her she was hot and started groping her at school one day. Sarah was horrified, unsettled, and ashamed. She is unhappy with who she is. Becoming thin to fit in with the other girls seems the only way to escape all of the uncertainty and fears. She is alone and adrift in the vortex of a cultural whirlpool of image and emotion.

The change from little girl to an emerging woman happens almost overnight. Sarah’s parents knew they needed to help her get ready for the social tsunami of the teenage years, they just thought they had more time.

It is easy and dangerous to focus solely on the physical challenges Sarah is facing. Sarah’s biggest need is to know that she is secure in her relationship with God. Puberty is a time of radical transition. But it is a transition that God is overseeing and bringing about for Sarah’s good. If Sarah can’t grasp this reality, everything else becomes problematic. With each hormonal shift, with each change in her physical appearance, she is becoming what God is making her to be, just as Psalm 139 says He will do. Sarah needs to take refuge in the God who is bringing these changes. There is no need for shame or embarrassment in what God is doing in her life.

But, Sarah is going to have to be lovingly led through this challenging maze. She needs to be understood and be able to talk freely about all of her uncertainties. She needs to be lovingly warned about all of the sexual mess swirling in our culture. She needs to see that her life is not frozen in time, like an embarrassing snapshot. God is making a video where year 13 is just one small, though important, part of what she will become.

Prepare your daughter with a loving verbal video of what God is doing and will do with her life. Use Psalm 139 as your story line. Your daughter is fearfully and wonderfully made. Invest deeply in your relationship with her. Spend as much time as it takes to help her see the wonder of the unique woman God is making her to be.

Join the Conversation

Where have you found it either hard or easy to enter into the most significant conversations in life with your teenager?

Jay-Younts2About the Author:
Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk about Sex and Marriage, and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay lives in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.

Original Post: I’m fat. 04.06.17
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Pass-A-Longs Shared for You

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Blog-Pass-A-LongsI’m happy to share some good links that I have found this week. I think you’ll enjoy these articles. Enjoy your day in God’s Grace (Rom 5:2)!

The Oxford Comma Won! – I’ve been following this court case for some time – as I prefer the Oxford comma. It was the issue in a 10 million dollar court battle and the comma won! Check out the story here.

Give the Turtles a Brake – Spring is the season for turtle movement across the States. Keep one eye on the road for the slow movers. They can’t help we put a road in their way.

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:2).

Instagram Generation: Four Ways Smartphone Cameras Are Changing Us – This is a very challenging read for parents as we consider the impact of our cell phones on our children and parenting. Don’t read it unless you want to be challenged.

What is Expository Preaching? – Many people mention expository preaching in conversation and blogs. Potentially you do not know what the word exactly means. Erik Raymond answers this question for you.

From the Archive: What is the intended purpose for daily devotions? – Regardless of the style you primarily use, all devotions should focus on the same intended end – helping you grow in your communion with God and living consistent in fellowship with Him. Notice how James describes it.

Blog-Charles-Spurgeon

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Disappointed? Yes, Disappointed! 

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Blog-DisappointedDisappointment. Do you know what I’m talking about? Are you currently there or have you been there in the past? Let me share with you one of the major reasons people face disappointment – because they place their hope in the wrong place.

Where do we often place our hope?

The sad reality is this: you can put your hope in almost anything. A person. A church. A pastor. A school. Biblical counseling. A new diet. Exercise. A promotion. A move. A new job. Education. A bowl of ice cream. A quiet evening. A good night’s rest. A vacation. A trip. Government. Justice. Food. A new relationship. Volunteering. Marriage. A new baby. An anticipated event.

It sounds something like this: “When this diet works, I will feel and be different.” “This church is the solution to my miserable life.” “This person (spouse, child, pastor, etc) is just what I need for a whole new life.”

What happens when we place our hope in the wrong place?

Whenever you place your hope in something or someone, you are depending on that thing or person to provide you what you are missing – usually it is a better life, a better attitude, a better day, a fix, a solution to a problem, resolution, encouragement, a way forward, or something similar. Under pressures of various kinds, you look to this thing or person to be the solution to your problem, whatever that is. You place the weight of your life on this other person or thing. The goal is that __________ (whatever it is you that on which or in which you place your hope) will lift you out of the pressure and provide relief, fun, good times, comfort, a better life.

You go for it. In courage you take the step. In anticipation you move forward. In eagerness you make a decision. However, in time you eventually realize that none of those things in which you have trusted has the strength to do what you have trusted them to do. Now disappointment. Sometimes very big disappointment.

The person you thought would do the trick does not. The diet you expected to grant you happiness fails. The church is not perfect. The marriage only brings more pressure. The new baby comes with a whole new set of problems in addition to the original ones. The promotion is empty. All of these things are fool’s gold, provide false hope, and will ultimately leave you worst off than you started, if these are the things in which you place your hope.

Where should we place our hope?

Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only person that provides true hope of life change. Consider what Paul writes in Romans 5:1-5.

1Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

What happens when we place our hope in Jesus Christ?

When you begin a relationship with Jesus through salvation, Jesus provides you everything you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:2-4). Where there was never any hope for change, in Christ there is. The power of the Spirit works in you to enable you, as you follow Christ, to do what honors God (Ephesians 1:19-23). As you do what honors God, your life does get better, even in those times and places where your circumstances do not change (Galatians 6:7-10).

You place your hope in the One who has the power to change your heart (inner man) which ultimately will lead through application of God’s Word to life change. You place your hope in the One who never leaves you or forsakes you (Matthew 28:20). You place your hope in the One who understands you, intercedes for you, and understands your circumstances (Hebrews 4:14-16). You place your hope in the One who does not disappoint.

You may be thinking, “How does Jesus not disappoint?” Great question. He does not disappoint because He loves you and does everything He says that He will do. Does He give you everything you desire? Does He say “Yes” to every prayer request? Does He fix the problem you have? Does He remove the pressure from you? Not necessarily. Instead He, by His grace, uses those things in your life to help you grow and change.

You may also be asking, “What is the change Jesus brings then if my circumstance may not change at all?” This is another great question. Life change begins at inner man change. What changes begins internally in the heart. You process your pressures and circumstances differently – which changes your inner and outer man (what you say and what you do) responses. So, the things you can control change because your response to the pressures in your life changes. The circumstances around which or to which you are responding may not change at all. So, Christ produces by His Word and Spirit change in you and your responses…which may or may not bring about circumstantial changes by God’s grace.

What do you do now?

Ask yourself where you place your hope. Is it a particular person? Is it a thing? Is it a relationship? What do you look to as the fix or solution to your life. Once you identify it, confess that before God and seek His forgiveness for placing your hope in anything but Christ. Turn to Christ. Worship Him. Pray to Him. Walk with Him in your daily living. Read about Him in the Scriptures. Consider His work on the cross, the power of the resurrection, the forgiveness of sins, His love for you. As you think through these things, let them motivate you to follow Him. In addition, get involved in a local church. You need other Christ-followers around you who can help you grow in wisdom, help you understand the Bible, and who will love you in the midst of your struggles.

Join the Conversation

Where have you tended to place your hope outside of Christ?

© 2017 PASTORKEVINSBLOG.COM

5 Things You Need to Know about ’13 Reasons Why’

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Blog-5-Things-You-Need-to-Know-about-13-reasons-whyAsk Pastor Kevin Response

Teenagers are flocking to Netflick’s new original series 13 Reasons Why, based on the 2007 novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and adapted by Brian Yorkey for Netflix. Parents, please do the necessary research and make a wise choice related to your teenagers or young adults watching this series. I have started the research for you below and encourage you to take the necessary time to think through this issue, make a list of issues that are pertinent related to both the show itself and the show’s content, and then discuss the show with your teenagers – regardless of whether or not you watch it with them.

1. The Storyline. With some digressions from the original plot of the book, the series follows a teenager named Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) who receives a series of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a classmate who recently committed suicide. On each of the 13 tapes, she explains to her peers how they each played a role in her death, detailing the 13 reasons she took her own life. The story follows how each of the 13 players engage the tapes and react to each other as the tapes spread. Selena Gomez is the executive producer. Here is a brief synopsis of each of the episodes.

2. The Rating. Netflix has rated the show TV-MA meaning it is not suitable for children under 17. If you peruse the internet, you’ll find that others are suggesting it may be appropriate for those over age 15 since that is the age of the teenagers in the show. I have had parents contact me where their middle school children are excited to watch the show. The show earned its rating TV-MA with the graphic scene of Hanna committing suicide and bleeding out in the bathtub, multiple rapes, nudity, underage drinking, bullying, stalking, drugs, violence, and very strong language.

3. The Benefits of Watching. This may be a series that you can use as a stimulus to talk with an older teenager regarding life issues. Issues like suicide, bullying, cyber-bulling, sex, rape, drugs, guilt, shame, and others are real. Teenagers and young adults do face these issues in their culture. After watching the episodes first as a parent, you may choose to watch the episodes with your teenagers together and discuss the sensitive issues they portray. I strongly urge you to watch all the episodes first before beginning the series with your teenager so that you can make the best wisdom choice regarding your teenager.

4. The Warnings of Watching. Parents, be on alert in regard to this show. This is a graphic show. Some parents and reviewers have described this show as a how-to guide on committing suicide. Cultural issues relevant to the episodes include suicide, rape, bullying of various sorts, drugs, underage drinking, stalking, betrayal, grief, revenge, lies, blame-shifting, fat shaming, strong language, violence, and other areas of abuse as well. Mental health officials in Australia have strongly urged parents to not let their teenagers watch this. There is concern with copycatting the suicide.

5. Wisdom is needed. You may want to consider several areas of wisdom before you allow your teenager to watch this show. It is imperative that you think through your young adults level of maturity. This link is to a recent blog on how to help your child respond to pop culture in the media. This may be helpful for you to think through as you decide what is best for your teenager. As I stated at the beginning of this blog, take the necessary time to think through this show, make a list of issues that are pertinent related to both the show itself and the show’s content, and then discuss the show with your teenagers – regardless of whether or not you watch it with them. The best choice may be a series of quality conversations with your teenager rather than seeing it depicted on screen.

Resource Links for Various Reviews from the Internet

13 Reasons Why by Common Sense Media

Why I’m Not Letting My Teen Watch 13 Reasons Why On Netflix Alone

’13 Reasons Why’ is Netflix’s newest must-see series

DO NOT LET YOUR KIDS WATCH 13 REASONS WHY

Does ’13 Reasons Why’ Do More Harm Than Good On Teen Suicide?

Information parents should know about Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why

’13 Reasons Why’ Review: Netflix Brings a Brutally Adult Edge to A Tale of Teen Suicide

7 Things You Need to Know Before Your Teen Watches 13 Reasons Why

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