Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Know Your Rites

Over the years, our society has developed many different rites of passage. From circumcision, to baptism, to a bar mitzvahs, getting your driver's license, sweet 16, college, weddings, first child, first real job and retirement are passages that we go through as people that define where we have been and where we are going. Within the church we have some rites also, some especially within the Methodist church. Children are born into the church with Baptism, 8th graders are given the option to go through confirmation, Salvation, Sanctification and first communion are all rites that help our students/adults find out where they are in their life. These rites are defined to help our children/students understand where they are going.

I Corinthians 13:11 talks about putting child like events and growing up. I believe we give our kids mixed signals when it comes to growing up. As parents, we want our kids to act grown up as soon as possible. We give them the ability to make decisions that affect them for the rest of their life, but not always giving them the tools to make those decisions. Then if they mess up, we treat them like children. I sat in on a seminar that talked about how the age of adolescence in the 1900's was less than 4 years, but today adolescence spans almost 15 years. I know that kids today are growing up too fast. I see kids making decisions that they shouldn't even be thinking about. Sex, drugs and rock-n-roll are pushed into the lives of our students when they are children, rather than as adults. The age of first having sex is getting younger and younger. Jr Highers are getting drunk and high almost before having a first girl/boyfriend.

Some of our society has lost the rites of passage and students aren't sure where they fit within our little boxes. My goal as a youth pastor is to help students become grounded in their OWN faith. Not the faith of their father or mother or family, but a faith where they have questioned and found the answers they are looking for. Our faith is strongest when we know WHY WE BELIEVE.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

When Bad things happen...

Right now we have a bunch of people we know who are pregnant. My best friend, my sister, sister-in-law, friend at work, and other members of the church. Everyone is so excited about it and rightfully so. Having kids is a great and wonderful thing. I wouldn't know what to do without the three I have.

The problem is that two of the people we know (best friend & sister-in-law) have miscarried or lost their babies. Right now, Beth is in Nashville spending time with her sister as she goes through this ordeal. My sister is worried about losing her because of a medical condition she has, but only time will tell. In talking to Beth and seeing her hurt by her sisters loss, I couldn't help but wonder why. For me it seems like this type of thing is happening more and more, or maybe our world is just more connected so you hear about it more.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Sometimes we like to put God in the middle because we believe He controls everything in our lives. Does God cause women to loss their kids? Does He know something we don't and thus spares the child from something in this life or maybe the parents? I know people who shouldn't have kids, who can't stop getting pregnant and I know people who can't get pregnant to save their lives, who would be the best parents in the world. I don't believe that God cause miscarriages. I believe that God has set this world in motion and intervenes when He needs to. People who aren't Christians tend to think we chicken out by bringing God into the story. By saying things like, "it must be His will", "He knows what is the best", "He is testing our faith" or any of the number of cliche sayings we use to make ourselves better.

I don't know why bad things happen to good people. I do know that God is in control of our life and that sometimes things happen that we don't want or expect, but that doesn't make him anything less. Our life is full of problems, hurts and great joys. Beth has a friend who's sister is a doctor at a children's hospital. In talking with her one day, I heard her say that she didn't understand how anyone could deal with everything that she sees on a daily basis, without having God. The hope she has helps her to make it through. She knows that God is in control of our world and that we aren't just here by accident. While we may not the things that happen in our life, we must continue to put our faith in God, no matter what happens in our life.