Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ten Reasons to Watch Bowl Games

Below are the top ten reasons to watch bowl games. If you watch too many games, you can use the excuse that you are finding examples of these ideas to share with your children, that you are really watching football to help them!  Here are the things to look for in the games:

10.  Trite, but true:  You are either in the stands of life watching or on the field playing.  Bowl players have a passion to play, not just watch. Bravehearts are not content to sit and watch others live. Feed your children's good passions so they get out of the stands and onto their fields.

9. There are a lot of games to watch.  Our "game" is not the same as someone else's game.  While the focus of our attention and energies should be on what we are called to do, it is also good to enjoy and celebrate with others.  Bravehearts know that life isn't about them, and while each has an important arena, it is good to take time to enjoy other games and celebrate with the winners.

8. The key for each of us is to have a "game," not always and only watching others.  A high school football player will spend most of his time on his own game, even though he takes time to enjoy watching the bowls.  We all need a stadium where we make a difference in life. Help children find their place, their role, their game.

7. Bowls aren't for everyone.  Only 5.8% of high school football players play in college, and a smaller number in bowls.  Only 0.08% of highs school senior football players are drafted in the NFL.  An even smaller percentage will play in the Super Bowl.  Most of us are not going to be playing life where a lot of people are watching. What matters is that we are doing our best in our own game.  Little is only little in man's eyes. Big is doing what God asks us to do. Help children value this question "What does God want me to do?"

6. Bowl teams have players with great skills and work ethics.  The teams won't get there without skill and hard work.  While skills may vary a lot, we can all develop our own skills to their best by a mindset of hard work and growth.  A braveheart isn't afraid to try, to grow, and to work to do his or her best in the arena God provides.

5. There is no shame in losing if you have done your best.  Some of the most inspirational players and teams don't win.  But, their play inspires others because they lay it all out there, not holding back.  They have prepared hard and give everything, so when they leave the field they almost need to be carried.  Where can your children experience that exhaustion of effort?  Know your children, then give them a place to lay it all out that fits each one.
No image to lose!
4. Giving up is sad.  Bowl players don't give up when it is hard or they are afraid. Two of my best friends and I tried out for football in ninth grade.  They were better than me, more athletic and more skilled.  But, they both quit in spring ball.  Practices were hard and they were afraid they wouldn't be the stars they were in junior high.  They didn't want to lose an image. I stuck.  I didn't play much, but I learned and enjoyed being on the team.  I guess I didn't have an image to lose!  Bravehearts know that giving up doesn't win games.  Hard work and courage keep you in it.

3. In our culture, many seem to need to be the star.  I have seen students quit a spring musical because they didn't get the leading role.  And, quit athletics because they didn't get the playing time they thought they deserved.  Besides giving up the chance to ever be a star, they also give up growing, learning, memories, and understanding how to help a group succeed.  Help children know that stardom is fragile and fleeting, but being a part of something bigger than yourself is solid and lasts.

2. Every role is important.  Maybe most important is the equipment manager who makes sure every player is not distracted and is safe to play!  Without the right equipment, no one plays.  Maybe it is a second or third string player who makes it hard for the first string player in practice, so the star gets stronger.  Maybe it is a role that no one notices, except when it doesn't happen. (What would happen to a football team if there were no groundskeepers or timekeepers?).  God gives abilities and places to use them.  Bravehearts go for it wherever they are placed, knowing that every role is important to their game's success.

1. Most important, bowl teams listen to great coaches.  Coaches fit the team together, selecting a range of roles and skills to meet needs.  They help develop abilities in the players who listen and work (if a player doesn't listen and work, he won't last long on a good team).  Coaches have a plan.While we have human coaches, bravehearts know that listening to the one Coach they can always trust and always follow will make them winners.  God wants to be followed and to give every child a place in life, prepared for him or her.  Let's teach our children to listen and follow Him, with courage.

Enjoy the games!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Last Day of Class

This week my Marriage and Family class ended.  Working as a principal normally takes away my time to teach, so it was a joy to work with my twenty juniors and seniors this semester.  But, I felt a little like Jesus in John 16 when He said He had so much more to tell his disciples, but they weren't ready and He knew His time was short with them.  I had so much more to say!

So, I was down to one class to try to give them everything important about marriage and family, summarizing what we studied and covering what I left out.  Here is the handout I gave them:
(I did not know it was going to look like a face as I drew can make the bottom line smile or sad, or turn it into a mustache so it looks like me.)

Let me explain, although I can only take a stab at the thirty minute talk and what the students knew from the semester.  I believe that the key elements for a positive marriage and family are here.

1. The triangle.  God is at the top.  The closer you and your spouse get to God, the closer you get to each other.  Restoring intimacy in marriage that was lost in the fall is a major goal for a couple.  Emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical intimacy grows as God is included and both get closer to Him.

2.  The left circle.  Marriage.  Number one to make a marriage good is to know "It is not about you."  While each person in a great marriage enjoys many benefits and joys, what makes it work is each person's commitment to serve the other.  As long as we focus on our job (love or submit/respect) and not on what we get, marriage is a lot more likely to be a great one.  Marriage is one of the best ways to mature because we have to learn "it is not about us" for it to work.  Giving up self, just what Jesus did, makes marriage work.

3. The right circle. Children.  Number one is to "Be there."  Parents cannot abdicate their responsibility or give it away to schools, babysitters, or churches.  Only a present parent can model, teach, and answer questions (a la Deuteronomy 6). Being there allows a parent to "bring them up" in God's discipline and instruction.  Children don't need you there 24/7 or smothering, but they need to know that you are on their side, always watchful and ready to be their parent. Even if you can't be there physically, let them know you are there for them and on their side.

4. Above the line.  Unconditional love.  In all relationships, commit to the other person's best, no matter what they do. Love that is unearned, that does not require performance, that never waivers in spite of the actions of the other is God's type of love for us.  It is there, even when discipline is needed and even when the prodigal leaves.  It waits and welcomes back.  It is about the other person. Know them and love them so they know they are loved.

5. Below the line.  No regrets.  This doesn't mean perfect relationships, but it means reconciling when things aren't right.  Asking for forgiveness and giving forgiveness.  Keeping accounts short.  What will you regret in twenty or thirty years?  Do what you have to do now, right now, to fix it.  You never know what is going to happen in life, so by God's help, live with no regrets.

That's it.  Creating a marriage and family where bravehearts can thrive, where love is free and life is lived well.

Oh, and one more.  Pray.  In class we prayed every day for our families to be protected.  Good families are under attack.  And we prayed for their future spouses.  They are alive now and need their prayers.  And, pray for those God calls to singleness, it is gift and a high calling.

May God help my class as they move into their futures.  May God heal what is broken and protect what is sound.  And, may God give you joy in your marriage and family.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Essentials of Respect and Truth

Not long ago, a colleague and I were talking about what misbehavior we nailed when our children were young.  This was after spending a good chunk of the day with no success in trying to correct a student who was disrespectful and would not listen to us.  We discovered that mom and dad had the same problem at home. As we talked, my friend and I found that when our children were young, both of us had been very quick to stop disrespect and lies and to expect respect and truth.  And, we were strong in how we did it.

Young children have to value respect and truth. By the time a child is old enough to stand on his or her own two legs, the two legs of respect and truth need to be holding up wisdom development.  If a child has respect and tells the truth, a parent or a teacher can help him or her grow.  If a child learns early to give respect and to tell the truth, teenage years are easier, launching from home is positive, and he or she is more likely to have the courage to live life well as a braveheart.  Let me explain.

In Ephesians 6:4, Paul says to bring children "up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (NASB version). Discipline and instruction are tied directly to respect and truth.  Discipline only works when a child respects authority; if a child will not listen to a parent or a teacher, discipline will not be effective.  And, similarly, without truth there is no instruction.  Or at least no instruction of value.  Respect and truth are foundational to raising our children the way Paul says.

Respect is the recognition that I am not all that matters.  Respect says that someone else is important, and in God's order, listening to and cooperating with those "over" me helps me learn and is life giving.  Children who obey parents live longer.  Fools can become wise.  The fear, or respect, of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  A child who is "mouthy," rolls eyes at parents, and demands the last word will not learn from discipline. When faced with disrespect, a parent must not let the child win.  Disrespect in a teenager is a lot worse than in a five year old and a lot harder to fix.  Nail it young.  It is true that you "pay now, or pay later" when it comes to expecting respect.

Truth is the recognition that there are ideas and facts that represent life the way it really is.  The "truth" does not depend on how I feel or how I see it.  Truth, like respect, recognizes something outside myself and my way of seeing things.  Satan is called the "Father of Lies" because he loves to distort and confuse the way things really are; he knows that truth will lead us to God and right living.  Deception, cheating, and lies are about self and are behaviors that  hide truth and keep a child from repentance and real change.  Instruction only makes sense when one person has a truth that is valuable for the other to learn and is valued enough to learn. We teach our children to value truth by expecting the truth and telling the truth.  If we lie, even "white lies" and half-truths, our children's foundation of faith, where truth and trust go hand in hand, is cracked.

The courage to face fears in life depends on respect and truth.  A child who respects and fears God more than his peers or his own feelings will choose to be brave and do right, even when his friends don't.   Likewise, his respect and fear of his parents helps him be brave.  When I was young, a healthy fear of discipline from my Dad kept me out of a lot of trouble, often making me appear courageous to do right even though I was really just more afraid of what my Dad would do than what my friends would say.  When I got older and my Dad told me that he trusted me, I showed courage at times because I didn't want to let him down, I respected him.  Facing fears with courage often depends on a healthy respect of God, parents, teachers, and other authorities.

Similarly, truth helps a child bravely choose right. If a child knows what is true and right, those truths become beliefs.  And, beliefs become convictions that drive a person to face great fears, to do the right thing for God, people, and causes. For example, when a girl learns the truth that God cares about the weak and she really believes it, she will protect the weak or bullied no matter if friends make fun of her. As our children grow, teaching and modelling big ideas and eternal truths will give them convictions that lead to courage.  What are the truths you want to intentionally have your children know and believe?  Tell them and then cement them in by your example.

May God give you the grace to lovingly teach and expect respect and truth.  And, may you enjoy the fruit of your labor as your children grow and have these legs to stand on.

P.S. The student came back the next day, respectful and willing to listen.  The student learned and is now learning.