The Lord is really deepening within me a desire for deeper community with others, and a passion for reaching the unchurched. My wife and I are praying about starting our own small group of a few couples who can get together to just talk and share. This group could very well, and I am hoping will, include some unchurched. I realize that as much as I have a passion for small groups, i am not really participating in one in which I am simply a member. I am always “in charge” or attending as an overseer, but I know the Lord wants me to begin living in a small group. I think that this – whether the students know it’s happening in my life or not – will have a dramatic impact on the success of our student small groups because their leader is “practicing what he’s preaching.” Pray for us as we reach out to our neighbors and others to join us in a quest for true community.
Today I had the privilege of marrying Victor and Megan Jimenez, two members of our church. It was a beautiful outdoor wedding and it was a joy to be a part of their special day. My prayers and best wishes to them as they begin their new life together!
Today was our church workday, and many volunteers showed up to work on the church property. Many thanks to those in particular who did some work on our lawn. Our trustees also voted to have a patio put in in our back yard, and agreed to finish our basement. The patio is now finished, and last night and today we were trying to get things moved so they can come and do the basement. I had to take down all of my books and box them up. Although I am not supposed to be lifting things over 5 lbs. I cheated a little bit. I put the books in the boxes, but no, I did not lift or move the boxes. It was a lot of work for me en lieu of my recent surgery, but I am glad I was able to be at least minimally helpful. My awesome wife did a ton of work. We again threw away a ton of stuff and donated much more.
Many of my students won’t even recognize half of the names on this list, but for those of us who grew during the elementary years of hip hop, the names make us crack a smile. Click here to see the 25 Worst Rappers of All Time: http://new.music.yahoo.com/blogs/listoftheday/2977/the-25-worst-rappers-of-all-time/
Something was bothering her. We have a great relationship, but she just wouldn’t seem to open up and share with me what was bothering her so. Then last night, I called her over to me. She laid her head on my chest as every daddy loves to feel his daughter do. She said, “Dad?” “Yeah buddy,” I replied. (Buddy is my little nickname for her.) “Can I talk to you before I go to bed?” “Sure,” I replied. Her eyes teared up, and she began to tell me that some of the girls at school had been being mean to her and she was feeling picked on. She said that her friends were all breaking up into little groups and that the girls were starting to be mean to the girls who were not in their groups. In fact, they had even labeled their groups – the “cool” group and the “weird” group. My daughter asked me why they had to do that. As she was crying she asked, “Why can’t we all just be friends. I don’t like to see people being mean.”
My heart as a father was breaking. Working with teenagers, I know all too well the world of cliques, and in my studies I have discovered that there is quite a consensus that 4th grade is the crucial grade during which so many kids lock into their identities and affinity groups. My daughter is in fourth grade, and even before this year began I told my wife that this was going to be a critical year for us to be watching for signs and listening very closely to the things our daughter was picking up and being exposed to.
I won’t go into all of the details, but these girls who had been such good friends, now, in the second half of the school year are beginning to demonstrate the thing that I hate with a passion … cliques. Cliques are defined by their exclusivity. Hardly a week goes by at youth group that I do not bring up the importance of inclusiveness and that exclusivity has no place in the life of a Christ-follower. Cliques are fellowship (something beautiful that God created and desires for us) gone bad.
What blessed me so much is that this value which I not only try to talk about, but live out in my own life and model for my family, is being embraced by my children. Last night at the end of our talk, I invited my daughter to pray for her friends and to ask God for the courage and wisdom to do the right thing to bring an end to this thing before these girls get it so ingrained in their character that I have to deal with it for years to come when they are teenagers. Her prayer was absolutely beautiful and mature beyond her years. I was so blessed when she said, “Jesus, please help us to be inclusive and not break up into groups and be mean to one another. Help us show Jesus to one another.”
It was a holy moment, and one that I will never forget as a father. I am so proud of my daughter and the beautiful young woman of God that she is and is becoming.
This morning I received my Simply Youth Ministry newsletter and discovered that they published an article I submitted called “Caring for Grieving Students.” You can access it by clicking on the title above. I also just noticed that it is also published on youthministry.com which is Group’s website. Read here …