One of my posts said:
Dear pastors and parents,
If all we have to offer our children and young people are fun activities and a moral lesson, we are failing.If all we teach our children and young people is what not to do--don't smoke, don't cuss, don't have sex--then we've failed.
If all we teach our children and young people is to memorize scripture, we've failed.
Unless we teach our children to love like Jesus, we have failed.
Today, I am sincerely asking how I am failing as a mom and praying for God to show me how *I* need to love like Jesus and how I need to teach my children and the young people in my realm of influence how to love like Jesus. And I'm not asking this because I have it all together. I'm asking because I realize I don't have it all together, and I trust God to be faithful to answer me and equip and empower me fully for this calling He has given me.
God be with you as you live--and love--intentionally today.
There is a difference between building youth groups and equipping and growing godly youth. I've spent most of the day listening to my two teenagers brain storm on ways they can take responsibility for their spiritual growth and the spiritual growth of other youth because they are tired of the mentality that a great youth group is dependent on numbers. They are hungry for God, not a gimmick. They are also at a point when they are deciding if church is relevant or just a requirement for religious purposes. They are choosing to make JESUS relevant.
I tell you this because my kids are not the only ones asking the good questions, and they are not the only ones who are tired of being told learning Bible stories is enough. They want to learn what life in Christ and for Christ looks like.
I also tell you this as a challenge. My kids are not afraid of being leaders. They are not afraid of hard things, and they are not afraid to call a religious tradition empty. In the last five years, we've left multiple churches because my kids have seen through the smoke and mirrors and marketing tactics to the bottom of the empty well. If my kids who desperately what Christ are willing to leave, so will others. What are YOU doing to stop them? And if you don't know how to stop them, talk to my kids. They will help you because they know every young person is a gift. Every young person has a purpose. Every young person is too valuable to lose.
Jerri Kelley Phillips-friendsMom of two teenagers who are choosing to live the counter culture, who are choosing to live Christ
There had been no major fallout, but I knew it was coming, and I lay in the dark and talked honestly with God about it.
"I don't know if I want to do this."
And I didn't.
When Paul says in Ephesians that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against "the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms", he isn't talking in metaphor. I've seen can happen when hell feels threatened, and I had just dropped a nice A-Bomb right in the middle of its plans to take our young people. Y'all may think that is a bit overly dramatic, but I was part of the "let's storm the gates of hell and take back our generation" conference that had taken place in my living room. I knew what was happening here. I knew the strategies being laid out. More than that, I was watching two young people step right into their eternal destinies, and they weren't taking prisoners. Instead, they were going to take prisoners back. There was no way to mistake what happened here yesterday. It was a wide-open declaration of war, and no enemy in its right mind stands by while its kingdom is ravaged. There would be backlash. And I didn't know if I really wanted that.
I wish I could tell you I was all Clint Eastwood yelling, "Bring it on!" But I was more like John Wayne thinking, "So is it a really good idea to take a stick to a nest of already angry hornets?"
And in a voice as clear as any I've ever heard, a simple question filled my room:
Do you trust Me?
Did I trust Him? The question was different than it had ever been. I understood it now. He wasn't asking if I trusted Him to keep me from hard things, but did I trust Him to be present in the hard things? He has a flawless record. While I didn't love the idea of hard things, sometimes the only answer is to take down the hornets' nest. And I trust Him to handle the details.
"Yeah. I trust you."
This afternoon I was on my way to Dallas down our country road. My friend Rod Dreher was discussing and signing his new book How Dante Can Save Your Life, which I love, and I wanted to get my copy signed. Plus, the man challenges me every time we talk. He's a good piece of iron to be sharpened on.
I was on a two-lane, paved farm to market road that is being worked on, and there is loose dirt and gravel in different spots. As I approached this area headed west, I could see the sports car coming toward the corner from the opposite direction. We were both approaching a corner. I was slowed due to the conditions. He wasn't. When I saw him hit the curve, I just stopped my car. There was nowhere to go, no evasive maneuvers to take. He was going to slide. The only question was: would he slide into me?
The back end of his corvette came into my lane, and then the back quarter panel. I sat still and watched as the car went out of control. I wondered if it would go off the other side of the road before it reach my spot or if it would hit the front of my car. I estimated that at its present rate of speed and slide, it would slam into the driver's front headlight just slightly ahead of it slamming into my entire front end. When it hit, I would probably be looking directly at the driver in front of me. I really hoped he was going fast enough to set off my airbag. Otherwise, this was going to hurt.
Then, my whole body relaxed.
And I watched.
I watched this car sliding out of control on loose gravel catch on what honestly looked like one tire and swing into the other lane in time not to hit me.
I immediately thought of my "preemptive strike" post on Facebook yesterday. Between the posts on Facebook and the private messages, I knew I had leapt into a realm where I was not welcome, and I knew the backlash would be vicious, and I asked simply:
"Pray for my family. Pray for me."
As the car drove past me, in my mind or in the air in front of me (I honestly couldn't tell you which), I saw untold numbers of bowed heads, all praying for my family, for me.
I could feel the peaceful smile of God, and again I heard the question,
"Do you trust me?"
Do you trust me to have you?
When I told Rod the story today, his faced showed the holy awe we both knew was due our God, who protects and saves. Rod simply said, "He has you."
I nodded. "Yes, He does."
And I trust Him to keep having us.
For those who are praying for my family and for me, thank you. Thank you for "having" us. My deepest gratitude is yours.
Choosing to trust Him....