What are you doing for school in the fall?…That burning feeling in the pit of our stomach.

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This week I have heard too many families to count trying to navigate what they are planning to do this coming school year. We have parents wanting to send them to school at any cost, those who want to keep them home and safe at any cost, Those who want a hybrid model, those who just don’t know what to do and are paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong choice This doesn’t even include teachers and their families. All of it is probably too much to for all of us to know what to do. Add to that the fear of protests, elections, and layoffs might have it seem like too much for us to handle. You might have that burning feeling in the pit of your stomach.

I will admit the title of this article is meant to get you to click the link. I really want all of us to think about our kids. Here is the thing. Our kids are listening. Our kids are hearing your stress and fears. Our kids are hearing our anger. So stop and lets reset. Here are three things to remember this fall.

First, you will not ever make the perfect decision. In fact none of us will. For your kids sake please try to show them kindness and joy. Try to be as positive as you can for them as you navigate this impossible situation.

Second, pray and listen. This isn’t something you should take lightly. Probably more than any other year of sending kids to school we have some real fears about what it will be like. Will it be safe and will it be good for them? I for one am trusting in Jesus that he will be with our kids through all the ups and downs of the year.

Lastly, as I was reading the scriptures I came across one of my favorite stories. This one where they had a burning feeling as well. Lets get that burning feeling not in our stomach but in our heart. When those disciples were talking along the road to Emmaus they were in a moment of fear.

They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”…. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Luke 24:14-18, 30-32 NIV

Our job as parents is to remind ourselves, our family and especially our kids, that Jesus is setting our hearts on fire for him. Jesus is in control. This year will be hard. We will have ups and downs, victories and defeats. Yet through all of it Jesus has the victory. He walks with us on these roads of fear and brings us a heart of peace. My prayer for us this year is we have hearts that are on fire knowing he is with us and we can proclaim that to a world living in fear.

Life isn’t this simple. We don’t live in a meme life

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I can’t take it anymore. I know I am not alone in this, but the one thing I hate about Facebook/Social media is the amount of time friends, family, and others try to make a major social issue of our day into a simple meme. Life just isn’t that simple. It never has been, and it is hurtful when others try to post something to make it seem like it is. Life is messy, complicated, and tough. The answers are messy, complicated and tough as well.

Christians today are falling into the trap of trying to make our faith response to those around us simple as well. We can post things that seem like a gotcha moment. It almost never is. Most of the time we either get angry at you, ignore you, block your posts, or say something to you. Obviously this is complicated in any Christian’s life.

Over this past week, I know I have struggled to not respond to former students, family and friends who either post a meme thinking they got someone else, or that they are somehow a better Christian by using the right words with the right hashtag. Let’s be honest. Jesus spoke in words that were much more complicated than a simple meme.

I will be honest. This summer I am going to miss one of the things that allows me to see the world in a longer form story. You see, this summer, I don’t get to do a Group Mission trip. I don’t get to take students into communities for the deep dive into a week in the lives of people different from them. In communities where a simple meme doesn’t mean that much. People who have lost everything because of illness, or life. Where the Church serves people outside of political posturing, or right words. We just sit, listen, and serve. I am going to miss it. No short term mission trips don’t let us know all the problems but they are much better than a meme.

So here’s hoping that, like you, I can stop posting memes to make a point. Here’s hoping that more of us will actually have a conversation and talk about the depth of the problems and solutions. Here is praying for solutions that will actually work, not just pie in the sky dreams. Life with people is complicated and messy. Jesus did it with people. He always said a lot and didn’t over simplify it. We can disagree about what Jesus would do in these situations as we try to be a follower of Jesus.

Lastly, if you want to post something, maybe do what my friend Tim does and post funny stuff. Seriously, the guy has deep opinions, but if you need a break to process and just laugh, Tim’s Facebook page has all the funny memes all the time. He will talk about real stuff but facebook is for the funnies!

When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:

26 “‘Go to this people, and say,
“You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
27 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
    and with their ears they can barely hear,
    and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
    and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
    and turn, and I would heal them.’

28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”[f]

30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense,[g] and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Acts 28:24-30 ESV

You set a table before me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Psalm 23:5 ESV

Over the last number of weeks I feel like I have been told what to think. We have protests, counter protests, and lots of arguing. We have post after post of anger, and frustration boiling over from people speaking about the injustices of life. We have people’s posts mocking others for the words they choose to use or not to use. Some people have argued with others they know and don’t know. Some people have unfriended others on social media. Some have just stopped talking because they don’t want to be attacked. Some are just feeling attacked over and over and don’t have a place they feel they can turn. Conflict in our community is at an all time high. You may have even said I am done with this person in my life.

Yesterday as I was sitting around the table with my accountability group eating dinner I was reminded of something. All the people in my life, those I am good with and those I have conflict with, we are going to eat around a table again. We are going to come to the table of our Lord. Jesus over and over again sat and ate with people he didn’t agree with. He ate with pharisees, and sinners. He often made people angry by doing this but Jesus knew the kingdom would be for everyone. I may not want them there but I know that Jesus does. I know Jesus wants them at the table. He wants us to be in relationship. He wants us to love and respect those around us who may not think like we do. He never asked them to change in order to be at the table. He knew the table would change us.

So in these days if you are hurt because someone said something to you or made a post mocking your opinion remember we are all going to sitting around the table together. The place where Jesus makes things new. Where he makes things well and brings forgiveness. Maybe it can change the way we talk about each other. Maybe we can listen and learn and bring healing. Let us come together at eat together, with our cups overflowing and have peace in Jesus.

Lets stop, listen, ask questions and act!

I have to admit I don’t like to listen. I am an extreme extrovert so listening doesn’t come naturally. But seriously I think more of us need to listen. I mean really listen. Here is the thing I think many of us have forgotten how to listen.

Listening is not just sitting back and accepting what others are saying. It is trying to understand. I feel as though many of us have lost this in today’s world. This past week has been tough. It has been hard for many on both sides of almost all the debates. Stay home orders, Black Lives Matter, riots, protests, violent police, these topics have truly brought many of us to blows on social media, with family, with friends and even people we have never met.

As a Christian I have no problem with The Truth. I have no problem with their being absolute truth. I do however as a Christian know that because of my sinful self-centered nature I can never see any of this through a perfect lens. I am going to get many things wrong, I may use wrong words or wrong comparisons or examples but I know it is important to keep listening and ask questions.

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance

Proverbs 1:5 NIV

What does it look like to listen? I think it is hearing points of view I don’t agree with. We all need to stop speaking in absolutes. Memes are not about listening but often about mocking another point of view. Lastly too often all I see is the tag line if you don’t agree, shut up, or shout it so those in the back stop talking. I dont find this helpful. I want to listen and I want to ask questions. I want you challenge me and I want to challenge you. But first I have to listen and then ask questions. Some of those questions will seem accusatory, I am sorry. I think it important to ask. When I ask those questions I know i need to keep listening. Listen so you can hear the people around you. So you can help and maybe become more empathetic to those who think, act and walk differently than you do. Lets be people who listen, ask questions, and finally act to change our world one person at a time.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:34-40 NIV