How can I convince anyone that the church needs to take raising up parents to raise up kids seriously? In other words, how can I convince anyone that we need to be “Orange”?
The only thing that I can liken to “being orange” is “being green.” By now, we all know (at least in some practical sense) what it means to be “green.” Once a Kermit the Frog song, now we know that it is important for us to take seriously the stewardship of this earth that God given us.
I remember when people who wanted to recycle or celebrate “Earth Day” were considered hippies and a joke. I think a transition happened after Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.” All of a sudden, it was if the world sat up straight and started to listen to what may be a problem. In many ways, Al Gore’s work was prophetic to a world that wasn’t listening.
So…I’m wondering, if the idea “orange” isn’t sticking, and people are really just relegating it to gimmick or “stuff for kids” status, where’s the “inconvenient truth” that could capture our hearts?
Maybe there are more ideas than just this one, but I was stopped dead in my tracks this morning as I was reading the book of Judges:
7 And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel. 8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110 years. And they buried him… 10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers.
I have to think about the way society was back in those times. You probably lived near your parents your whole life. They would be a great influence on you. This generation appears to be a busy generation. God had charged their fathers with fighting for the heart, imagining the end, making it personal, creating a rhythm, and widening the circle. And, quite honestly, it doesn’t seem like they did it. This generation gleaned some of what their parents may have taught them. But, look at what happened next. Midway through Judges 2:10, I was floored…
And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.
What happened? A whole generation didn’t know the Lord! A whole generation didn’t even know what God had done for Israel! Moses had warned two generations ago about this! He basically told them to IMPRESS these things on the heart of the next generation because there will be a time when they’ll be asking questions about “why do we pray?” and “what’s the big idea with Passover?” Two generations later, the grandkids know nothing.
Maybe we can blame the grandparents. They didn’t raise their kids to know that they needed to take their kids’ faith seriously.
Maybe we can blame the parents. Maybe they were preoccupied with conquering and settling the Promised Land. Too busy to impress anything on their kids.
I was horrified by the results…
11 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger. 13 They abandoned the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. 14 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies. 15 Whenever they marched out, the hand of the LORD was against them for harm, as the LORD had warned, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress.
A generation forfeited their obligation to speak into the next generation (to be orange), and the next generation neglected to provide any spiritual guidance. And now here’s a generation that’s totally lost. Depraved. Seeking hope in other gods. Making God angry with their behavior. Vulnerable. Hurt. “In terrible distress.”
Here’s what’s an “inconvenient truth” to me. If we don’t take seriously our charge as parents to raise up our kids to be followers of Jesus, it’s not like we have to die in order for us to lose our influence. Back in the day, you’d be around your family your whole life. Influence was probably a strong, life-long reality. But nowadays, your kid could go off to college; and that could be pretty much it. There may be holidays, but the influencing time was really in that first eighteen years.
This is one of the reasons that Orange means so much to me. At least they’re doing SOMETHING! Oh, and it’s not like they invented in some lab in Atlanta. This was God’s plan from the beginning. See Deuteronomy chapter 6. This wasn’t GOD’S PLAN! Just because they didn’t follow it doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t work. I would think that God’s plan would work just fine if we actually followed it.
I freaked out when I saw shrinking polar ice caps.
I freaked out when I read Judges 2:10.
This whole orange thing is no joke.
For those of you who are not familiar with The Elephant Room, it is a discussion panel environment that was created by James MacDonald in order for people from different viewpoints of Christianity to get together, discuss their differences, but also come together in unity. I went yesterday, expecting a blood bath.
Here’s what goes on in my head when I saw the lineup.
“Ooh, I love that guy. He’s going to bring it.”
“Ooh, that guy annoys me so much. He’s going to get schooled.”
“Oh, ok, that guy’s solid. He’s going to set that dude straight.”
“Oh, man, that guys so flaky. Why would he even come to something that required thinking?”
“Oh, and I don’t even know who that guy is.”
I’m not proud of it. But that’s how I prejudge.
Somehow I already have a working who’s who of people I think are “solid,” and people who I think are suspect.
OK, I’m about to get a little more real. I especially didn’t want to like Steven Furtick or TD Jakes. For some reason, in my mind, I had reasons to disregard what they had to say. Looking back, the punishment (total disregard) didn’t match the crime (personality quirks or minor theological differences). But, man, it really took literally one or two sessions for my mind to change.
I realized that I don’t have to agree with everything these men of God believe, but I have to at least demonstrate Christian charity towards them (love them enough to expect the best of them). They are my brothers (in the case of Furtick) and my grandfathers (in the case of Jakes).
These guys are not the only Christian leaders who have been the object of jokes, sarcasm, or just outright accusations of “blasphemy” by me. I am a very, very judgmental person. I hide behind my crappy attitude by saying that it’s in the name of “sound doctrine.” God, heal my heart.
As a dad, and really as an orange leader, this has got to change. I’ve got to see the good and learn from the ministries of the whole body of Christ. I can’t just run with my own tribe.
Steven Furtick put it well yesterday (and I’ll paraphase). “Many of us mistake being ‘bold’ as tossing red meat to our own followers.” His implication was that most of us are afraid to have conversations with people who are different than us.
I want to teach my daughter better.
I want to lead the youth ministry team at New Harvest better.
I want to lead our youth better.
I want to teach them how to love and be fair.
We’re never going to have the opportunity to grill each Christian leader to our liking and check off whether they are “acceptable” or not. We’re just going to have to trust what God is doing in and through them. We’ve got to start with love, not with suspicion.
I don’t want my daughter to one day be in a conversation with a friend about she admires, and the friend mentions someone– and then Evie replies, “Ugh! I can’t stand that person.” Then the friend asks, “Well, why?” And then Evie says, “Well, because my daddy doesn’t like him.”
As for me, I am going to pray that God change my heart towards leaders who rub me the wrong way for whatever reason. Normally, it’s my reason that’s the sin– not the thing that rubs me the wrong way. I at least resolve to speak highly of the ministry of Steven Furtick and Bishop Jakes from here on out. I know I at least need to do that.
But here’s the question I have for all of us…
Without being intentional about it, are we raising our kids, teams, and flock to dislike certain Christian leaders (or politicians, or people)? Is that healthy? I know my kid will grow up hating the Cowboys and Phillies, but are there some things that we consider to be innocuous that are actually toxic that we’re passing down to the next generation?
I’ve been on a strange Eminem kick recently. I watched “8 Mile” with Mary Kate (because she had never seen it); and, just yesterday watched a documentary on Hulu called “Eminem, AKA.” It got me thinking…
From all accounts Marshall Mathers III was a pretty troubled kid. He moved around 20 times when he was a small child, was always around alcoholism (at least four generations), was picked on mercilessly (and beaten) for being the only white kid in his schools, and even endured the suicide of his closest friend when a teenager.
What did he do with all of this pain and dysfunction? He channeled all of his hurts and anger into an alter ego that he created called “Slim Shady.” This character is brash, picks fights, and basically stands up to the world for Marshall. The scary thing is that he almost has a split personality now. Songs like “Stan,” upon further reflection, make me realize that there is probably a lot of guilt for the fact that people actually hero-worship his defense mechanism.
He recently went through rehab and came out sober. In “Not Afraid” he raps:
I think I’m still trying to figure this crap out.
Thought I had it mapped out, but I guess I didn’t.
This ****ing black cloud still follows me around.
But it’s time to exercise these demons.
These mother****ers are doing jumping jacks now.
With so much pain in his life (probably a lot of it self-induced at this point), I really feel for this guy. I know that his movie, his songs, and even the documentary of his life could all be spin; but you want to pull for this guy. But how can you really “exercise…demons” without Jesus?
A unique characteristic of Eminem is that he is this tough guy who has consistently communicated a genuine love for his daughter. Many of his lyrics claim that he does what he does so that he could be successful for her.
I hope the best for him. In that same song, he raps the following:
No more drama.
From now on I promise to only focus on my responsibilities as a father.
So…here’s the question that’s been ringing in my ears:
Do we have “Slim Shady” personas that we’ve created?
One of things I fear is that Eminem is just not going to be able to really give his daughter all he wants for her because he insists on continuing to be “Eminem” or “Slim Shady,” not Marshall, Haley’s dad.
I think that to varying degrees we all have created alter egos to protect us from the harmful effects of imperfect parenting ourselves, but how do we safeguard ourselves against projecting that onto our own kids?
As a kid, I created an alter ego. I even wrote about it for English class in the 9th grade. I called the essay, “The Animal.” It’s basically a paper about how I always have to be “the life of the party” or the “class clown” because I don’t feel like people wouldn’t care about me otherwise.
Now, almost 20 years later, I still struggle with the same things. I want people to know me, yet I still push them away when I’m being my own kind of Slim Shady.
I don’t want to wear that mask around Evie. I don’t want to wear that mask around Mary Kate. I want to be authentic. I want to trust in the Apostle Paul’s words when he says:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
This comforts me when I’m freaking over my “demons” doing “jumping jacks” inside me (figuratively). I don’t have to be that boy who feels rejected, belittled, or insecure. I can be whole.
This is a work in progress, but I know that I’ve got to make my healing a priority in order to be healthy for my wife and my child. My hope is in Jesus. I pray that we can all find that hope, even Eminem.
So…is there something that you’ve been trying to be that’s not really from God? I welcome you to join me in laying that at the feet of the Cross and really trusting that Jesus has got us.
In the words of Lecrae (a Christian rapper) in “Our God”:
If You get me, I know that You got me.
I’m so insecure I can’t believe that You want me.
But then I heard You went out of Your way to adopt me.
Well You can have my all. Don’t drop me.
I love you!