From Across the Net – “Investing in Your Marriage is Worth the Sacrifice”

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Our child-centered American culture tells us it’s perfectly reasonable to spend money on ballet lessons or travel soccer or private school . . . all for the good of our kids. But spend money on a babysitter or marriage counseling or a weekend getaway? Well, that’s selfish and unnecessary.

You can read more here

Someone, Please Save Us, Us College Kids

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During my junior college years, I listened to “College Kids”, by Relient K, on repeat:

Someone, please save us, us college kids!
What my parents told me is what I did
They said, “Go to school and be a college kid.”
But, in the end, I questioned why I did

I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I knew I wanted more than the part time restaurant job I was working. Surely there was more to life than general level college courses, commuting, and serving food/busing tables. Add on top of that friends moving away for school, girls/dating, and not being sure of who I was in the church (or the church having a clue of who I was)… this was a huge transitory time for me.

(Oh no!) Not for me, not for me
Call it torture, call it university
(No!) Arts and Crafts is all I need
I’ll take calligraphy and then I’ll make a fake degree

I am thankful for those that God stirred up and called into my life during that time. He is faithful. I just didn’t always see His faithfulness as I clearly do now in retrospect. Little did I know that He was preparing me for bigger things. Bigger things like:

  • Moving away from all that I ever knew (family, friends, etc.).
  • Texas. TEXAS. The shock of Southern/Bible Belt culture.
  • My wife. I met her within a month of moving/going to school.

For those in this period of transition, the church (as a whole) does little to help with the confusion. Once students leave the comfort and safety of the youth group, they are launched into church oblivion. This oblivion is somewhere between graduating high school and marriage. The church, inadvertently, preaches that marriage is the pinnacle; once married, growing a family becomes the next prize to be won. But where does that leave those in college? Forgotten.

Eighty grand later, I found out that all that I had learned
Is that you should show up to take your finals and your mid-terms
The party scene is kind of mean; I think it’s sick and twisted
The Navy showed up at my door and claimed that I enlisted

Some churches see the need and build college, young professional, and singles ministries (all of these are totally different ministries that should not be paired together) to bridge the gap till marriage. I am thankful for churches who see this need.

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

College kids want to be recognized, listened to, and accepted in the church. They do not want to be treated as second-class citizens who serve as babysitters. Nor do they want to be treated as the “forgotten”, in-between singleness and marriage. We, as the Church, have to do more. We need to change the messages we are silently/subtly preaching through our actions. We also need to point to the stable foundation that is Scripture. College students are hungry for truth (scripture), faith that has depth, and delicious food. And maybe even a chance to come over, hang out, and wash their clothes.

We can do better. I’ve learned that Satan speaks into the silent places the church doesn’t. So let us speak and do.

From Across the Net – “Why Men and Women Can—and Must—Work Together”

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Even though this article seems specific to a church/ministry organization, I have struggled with this at work. Especially when I am in the office alone, working through lunch, and a female co-worker decides to eat her lunch at work and wants to talk. There is a fine line between being professional and alienation.

It’s important—especially as seemingly more and more Christian leaders are caught in a scandal—to make sure the right boundaries are in place to protect your marriage, your ministry, and your soul.

But in doing so, it’s easy to put up so many boundaries you alienate yourself or stifle the giftedness and friendship of the opposite gender.

You can read more here

A Friday Confession

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I used to pray, God, use me however you want. I used to sing loudly, with tears in my eyes, God, where you lead, I will follow. (Tears because I didn’t want God to send me into the backwoods somewhere without air conditioning.) I prayed with a bigger picture in mind; I sang open to the will of God for my life. The subtle current of wanting adventure, thrills beyond the everyday life, thrummed beneath the surface of my prayers. As The Killers sing in their song “Read My Mind”:

I never really gave up on
Breakin’ out of this two-star town

What I was really praying was, God, I’m willing to follow you as long as it means new places, new people, and a lack of monotony. 

Photo by Camille Puche on Unsplash

When I graduated from college back in 2006, I thought I’d get married and leave Longview forever. My big plans were to go back to Southern California, get an amazing job OR start a video game ministry, and life would go on. But then economy imploded… and God has used those 12 years since graduation to shape and form me into something new. I’m not the same guy that I was, and I recognize that as being good.

Do you ever feel like Moses, living in the wilderness with his wife and father-in-law? Being prepared, by God, away from the limelight, in safety? Do you ever wonder if you are being taught to just focus on and impact those around you? I do. Our world is all about the big, the bold, the blaring Coldplay stadium anthems. Anthems that silently whisper to us that if you aren’t doing something big, in life or for God, then you are a failure.

Here is where I want to land: You are not a failure.

In the Bible, God consistently uses those the world does not know for His glory, purpose, and Kingdom. I think we have to pray that our hearts align more with Him and less with the overwhelming expectations the world and even Christian culture can put on us. You can make a difference for His Kingdom where you are, right now. You don’t even have to move. Even though Switchfoot might dare you to.

From Across the Net: “Double-Minded: Christian Culture’s Diametrically-Opposed Views of Marriage and Singleness”

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11 years into marriage, it is easy for me to forget that I wasn’t married until I was 25 years old. What I’ll never forget though were the years in-between high school graduation and marriage. The churches I was a part of did not know how to handle those who were single. Nathan Marchand, whose book I reviewed sometime back, touches on this “single limbo time” period in his piece titled “Double-Minded: Christian Culture’s Diametrically-Opposed Views of Marriage and Singleness“.

What the church needs is consistency. Celebrate marriage with everyone. Help singles maximize their lives where they are and don’t shame them for desiring a spouse. For those rare few who’ve been called to singleness, give them opportunities not afforded to married people. Modes of service don’t decrease with marriage—they just change.

Marriage is hard, but so is singleness. (you can read more in the link above)

Churches, that I have been a part of, have been structured like this:

  • Nursery
  • Preschool
  • Elementary
  • Middle School / High School
  • College (which is often a thrown together class)
  • AND THEN Adult General Population (Big Church)

We go from structure-structure-structure to nothing. I agree with Nathan, I think that we, as Christians, could be doing better. Speaking into the single years instead of letting culture show how it is to be done. By opening up our homes, speaking truth/being real (remembering those hard years), and being intentional with singles ministry (not throwing rando-Bob to deal with this area), we might have a chance. The Apostle Paul said that singleness is a gift and so is marriage.

Photo by Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash

Revisited – The Onion Layers of Time

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I wrote this back in March of 2012. I can tell you that I’ve chilled out a bit since then. No longer do I feel angry or frustrated when I don’t get to play a game in the evening. I’ve gotten to where I might game once a week (IF). I more so now enjoy the time I’m spending with my family. Just needed to grow up and discover a few more layers. Always thankful to Shrek for that analogy. – Bryan

As we advance in years, I believe that we all wish that we would personally be able to grow and mature with time as well. For some, growth and maturity are unattainable due to personal life choices; for others, growing in maturity and stature are a knowingly made decision.

Before I was married, I had all the time in the world to pursue what I wanted to pursue. If I wanted to go out with friends for coffee at 2AM, I could. If I wanted to sit down and play a video game every evening, for hours on end, I could do so as well. I was a free man and time was all mine.

Photo by Thomas Martinsen on Unsplash

As I dated and was soon married, my time quickly became our time. No longer did I have the freedom to do what I wanted to do. I had to now take my wife into consideration. What did she want to do? What could we do together? There was nothing wrong or bad about this change in the way I spent my time. Like an onion, I had simply discovered a new layer of personal depth; like an onion, my time had also grown thinner in peeling away that new layer.

The birth of our son set into motion the equation of: my time + our time = his time.

Age, growth and maturity force us to constantly evaluate the things that matter to us. Are we spending our free time pursuing the things that we love or the things that we simply like? This got me thinking about video games and my constant struggle to figure out where they place in my life. Do I love them or just like them? Are they keeping me from pursuing the things that I love?

What about you?

Should We Homeschool?

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Homeschooling is not for everyone. I was homeschooled from the fourth grade all the way through high school. I had been falling behind both academically and socially. Public school was failing me by passing me on from one teacher to the next. I had trouble with reading, math, etc. My parents realized what was going on and brought me home. I’m thankful.

Tabitha and I have always said that our children would attend public school. As long as the teachers and the overall district were willing to work with us, we’d stick with it. Our children would be good examples for others to follow. Salt and light.

Enter our son:

  • Helped teach his fellow students in kindergarten
  • Excelled through first grade
  • Has continued in second grade to consistently earn high grades
  • Reads on a middle school grade level

(I can brag as a dad, right?)

The boy wants to be pushed. He wants to learn multiplication and how to write in cursive. Our fear is that his enthusiasm for learning is going to be snuffed out unless he is challenged. We realize that public school can only do so much for him. A teacher has to teach so that all students are on the same middle ground. That means that the higher students in the class are often ignored. Not the teacher’s fault at all. Teaching is hard.

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So how do you make the decision to homeschool?

Throw some dice?

Spin a bottle?

What?

I know the challenges that are involved with it. I have seen them firsthand. I know the impact it has on a family and on a marriage.

Social outlets are essential. Support in the form of a homeschool group help a bunch. The kids never leave the house… ever. Mental fortitude is a requirement.

But how does one pull the trigger?

Trying to figure that out.