Sunday, March 29, 2009

Can People Change?

people change image Yes, people can change (notes attached). As we learned from class today, people in sales expect people to be able to change. (I am not sure if this was a reasuring comment.) If we truly believe we have something that would be of benefit to people we love, we need to know how to promote this to them in a way they may respond.

In chapter 9 Pastor Alan does a great job laying out the framework on how to get people to change without using shame.
  1. We must begin with prayer because only God can change the heart.
  2. We change a negative spirit by sowing the opposite spirit.
  3. We enable positive change through the power of blessing.
  4. We help others embrace responsibility by treating them as if they are owners, not slaves.
Just as when we discussed guilt and conviction earlier in the book, we must use our words and efforts in others to produce life. Guilt produces death and does not promote real change. Conviction will speak the truth about bad behavior, but it will do it in a way that inspires change.

We all want our kids to change. At the very least to change from children to adults. Are we feeding them with life-giving words and love? Let's speak into them who God has called them to be.

Easter Egg Hunt

Save the Peeps imageEaster is just around the corner, and the POPs class will be celebrating with a fun Easter Egg Hunt this Saturday, April 4th at 3:30. We will meet at the church and will host the festivities outside. Bring 12 plastic eggs filled with a small prize in each. Please contact Elisabeth Joyner for more details. This will be a great event for us to allow our kids to play together and for us to hang out. Look forward to seeing everyone there.

image courtesy of the River Church

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Change is Coming

out of fashion imageWe are starting back with Shame Off You tomorrow with one of my favorite chapters. We will be on chapter 9: How to Get People to Change. The content of this chapter is so obvious it is almost embarrassing that Christians get offended by the title. We all want people to change. God wants us to change. There is nothing wrong with that desire.

The picture in this post is me when Alli first meet me. Thankfully for me she was not picky about men with lack of fashion sense. At the same time, she has helped me over the years to make better clothing choices. She did this without nagging, criticizing, and shaming. This is a simple example, but our lives are full of areas that really need changing.

What Not to Wear imageIf anyone has watch What Not to Wear, they actually do a good job (at times) of what is discussed in this chapter. Once you get past the early parts where they make fun of the person's clothing choices, they spend a good deal of time speaking to what is good in the person and how clothing could change the way they feel of themselves and how others see them. They help people see that they are trying to help.

This is definitely something we need to think through for our children. How do you bring them up in the way of the Lord without some changes in their lives along the way. How do we do this in a way that honors God and them?

That is what this chapter is about. We look forward to our class discussions on this topic.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Our Children are Raw Materials

Kevin and Allison ShorterThe FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Conference was a wonderful getaway for Allison and me. We have been blessed to go to these conference so many times. This past one was a good reminder of things we have heard, being grateful for the principles it put into our marriage early on, and gave us new awareness since we now have children. Again, we would highly encourage any one to go for their own marriage booster shot.

In our absence POPs was blessed with the wisdom and teaching from Gwladys Keating. From the stories we have gathered, she came in and made use of the chalkboard. She discussed how every strength of our children have corresponding weaknesses and vice versa. And, even the strengths of our children need to be cultivated and matured. With that being said, we should never shame our children because of immaturity. We receive our children as raw materials. They are not born perfect. Therefore when they make mistakes we come alongside with encouragement, never shame.

Shame given during an honest mistake can easily lead to having your children not try again.
The other principle I took away from what I heard is the need to be specific. This is an obvious comment when disciplining our children, but it is also necessary when we are speaking blessings. The example is if we complement someone and say, "He is handsome." Our children could easily think they need to look like that person in order to be handsome. The difference would be to say, "He has a friendly smile," or "He is so nice to everyone." This helps our children to understand and assimilate what it means to us for someone to be handsome.

Our church is filled with some wonderful people that have wealth of understanding in the Lord. Gwladys is one of those treasures, and I am glad that our class had the privilege to learn from her.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Special Guest This Sunday

Allison and I will be out of town this week attending FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember Conference up in Roanoke. It has been several years since we have last attended, but it is always good to keep our marriage fresh. A good marriage is the best way to keep shame off our children.

Since we will be away, we have arranged to have Gwladys Keating to come share her experiences. Gwladys has a wealth of information and has led parenting seminars in the past. She knows the topics we have covered, and we just asked her to come share whatever she feels God leads. Please come with questions. She has the benefit drawing more examples as her kids are all grown up.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Success Does Not Heal

Giraffe in hiding imageOne of the greatest lies with regard to shame is that we will feel better if we can just be successful. All those demonic lies would be silenced by the power of great achievement. The story of Elijah tells a different story.

Sunday we discussed how the healing is found by walking with Jesus (notes attached). The problem is not that Jesus does not want to heal us. It is also not that He does not know how. The problem is we are afraid of what He is going to do. Will He make me come clean with my spouse? Will I need to quit my job to spend more time at home? Will He make me relive the pain in my past that I have tried so hard to forget?

What will God make you do? I don't know. I do know that Jesus weeps for you. He desires your healing and peace more than you do. He knows what is best for you. He created you for an exciting destiny and only He can lead you into it.

Photo courtesy of the NC Zoo.

Super Bowl Ad Censored by NBC

The Catholics were no holds barred on this ad especially with his stance on the issue.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Plight of the Scapegoat

scapegoat image The plight of the Scapegoat was a great illustration from chapter 7. Although I did not feel led to discuss it much in class on Sunday, I do think it is extremely important. Why do we need to have someone to blame when things don't go the way we want? Our marriage suffers... because we had kids too soon. I'm always tired... because I have a strong-willed kid. As parents it is very dangerous to make our children the scapegoats. They will receive every bit of shame from those thoughts and sayings.

Shamed people shame. We cannot bear the shame on our own, so we look for others to bear it for us. Our children do not know how to deflect these attempts, and so become natural targets. Instead of feeling a since of purpose and blessing, the scapegoats either wander off closed to the world or work hard to remove those feelings of unworthiness.

This coming Sunday we will refocus on some of these topics as we discuss chapter 8. Success does not overcome our shame. It draws attention to you and now you have to work harder to hid the shame you feel. If we are not put our shame on others and success does not get rid of it, how do we overcome it? The Sunday School answer is Jesus, but what does that look like?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quick Small Group Announcements

Hi, POPS. I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying this great weather. Rachel has been sick with a flu like illness the last couple of days, so we're only halfway enjoying it. I am leaving for Wisconsin on Friday and would appreciate prayers for the flu like illness staying away from me so I can go up, just if you think about it. And of course you can pray for Kevin as he is here with the kids by himself. Thanks!

Announcement 1: Kevin and I are wanting to compile brief testimonies from most of you if you would like to participate that would be given to all the nursery teachers, Emilie, and Jennifer. What we're looking for is a few sentences or a paragraph sharing what you have learned or how you've grown by being able to attend a small group on Sunday morning. Without our nursery workers, we wouldn't be able to meet, so we want to encourage them by allowing them to hear of the fruit that is being born out of attending a small group. To be able to keep all of our kids an extra 1.5 hours each week means extra workers most weeks, so we just wanted to help them all know that what they are doing and the time they invest with our kids is reaping benefits they don't know about. So just email your testimony to Kevin by Wednesday March 25. Then we'll take care of the rest. Thanks!

Announcement 2: This will be the last week we would like to gather the small group surveys. So if you have one you'd like to turn in, bring it or email it to Kevin by this Sunday.

Announcement 3: We mentioned on Sunday that we are going to start up with Care Groups soon. So we need you to be praying about whether God may be leading you to be a Care Group leader. We'll probably need 3 or 4 couples to start off with. This would entail having 2 families that you cared for. Some examples of what a leader may do is:
  • If someone hasn't come in a couple of weeks, emailing them to make sure they are okay or if they need anything (like if a child's been sick you could run an errand for them if needed or something)
  • Arranging a monthly social for the 3 families. Since our group is kind of big now, we'd like for the 3 families to meet monthly, and this would take the place of the monthly small group social. (We may periodically still get together with all of us, but it will not be often.) You could eat out, play at a playground, whatever your group wants to do. But that will be a good way to get to know some people outside of class. Also it would be great if once in a while you got together without kids so you can actually talk a little better or see a movie, play a game, etc.
  • As other needs come up with people, just being aware of what they are and loving on your group members. It doesn't need to take a lot of time, but it can make a big impact.
  • So again, email Kevin or me if you feel led to lead in this capacity. We'd like to set the care groups up in the next few weeks.
We love you guys and look forward to God continuing to grow our group in Him. Blessings!


What is God Asking of Us?

Chapter 7 of Shame off You looked at the idea of scapegoats and boundaries. We ended up taking a u-turn on the topic to really look at our boundaries with God (notes attached). First of all, the book has a great definition of scapegoats and why they exist, what they look like today, and the place that God had in the design of the two goat system. Sadly, we did not go over this very much.

We did go over John 6 and the feeding of the five thousand. Where it was not scapegoats, it was a great discussion on how we have improper boundaries with God. Jesus asks Philip a question to test him. So we know right away that Jesus already had something in mind with the question. So often we think that God tests us because He does not know the answer. He knows what is in us; He is trying to get us to know.

Philip gets frustrated with the question and says it is impossible. Andrew interjects, but then gives up after he realized how futile his answer really was. God often asks us to do the impossible, and we take the challenge and try to bring about the impossible. We think because God asks us the question that He must want us to follow through with it. No!
God wants us to participate with Him in the miracle. He does not expect us to perform the miracle.
God has called us to the impossible task of raising godly children. We cannot do this on our own. We can learn tricks and tools, but only God can change the heart. Only God can raise godly children. We need to allow Him to work the miracle in our children's lives.

Shame comes when we think God is expecting us to do something we can never do on our own. Parents, shame off you! God wants us to experience the joy of joining Him in the process of raising our kids. Allow Him to work.

How do we let God raise our kids? Great question. Spend time to ask Him what it will look like. Jesus, how do you want me to pour worth and value into my kids today? Jesus, my child has not been behaving lately. What is going on in her heart? How do you want me to minister to her? God is answering all of the questions. We are just following His directions.

Yes, Jesus does call us to things that we cannot do on our own. The whole Christian life is this. The joy comes from relying on His Holy Spirit to lead and empower us to accomplish those impossible tasks. As your children see your reliance on Christ, you will be well on your way of raising godly children.

For fun: the anatomy of a scapegoat...anaomy of a scapegoat: charlie brown

Image by Michael Paulus

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Power of the Mom and Dad

Family PortraitWhen we talk about getting shame off our kids, we need to remember there is power in being the mom and dad (notes attached). God created the family to have a mother and a father. This is why broken homes due to a parent who leave physically or emotionally can leave scars in children. It is in the family that our identity is forms. It is where we learn what we think of ourselves and what we can accomplish.

From our discussion yesterday, the common need we must accomplish in parenting is being there with our kids and spending attentional time with them. But, a father spending time with his kids will look different than a mother spending time with her kids. When the child gets hurt, the father will likely encourage them to walk it off. The mother will likely give a hug and kiss. A mother will tend to comfort a child when they are scared, and the father will tend to encourage the child to face their fears.

It is not that necessarily either one is wrong; it is just a difference in their make-up. A mother will make the child feel safe. A father will call the child out of safety into their destiny. Both are needed.

Finally, we discussed how God plays the part of both. He is our Heavenly Father, and yet He comforts His children as a hen gathering her chicks. No matter what kinds of parents you have had or did not have, God wants to call you into His family and allow Him to parent you.