3/31/09

where have i come from?

So we went on vacation suddenly and unexpectedly during Spring Break. We visited the town I was born in - Yukon, Oklahoma. I know, I know, I'm an Okie. I moved to Mississippi when I was six or seven, and I remember very little about my birthplace. The few memories I have are vague.

My connection to this town has always been that I really wanted to see it and relive those childhood memories. I'm a bit sentimental like that. I've visited the sites of houses I used to live in here in Mississippi, and enjoyed reminiscing. I even have an empty bottle of root beer that I drank on the morning I turned sixteen, as I watched the sun rise over the Pearl River. When my parents asked if we wanted to go to Oklahoma, I jumped at the chance to see my birthplace.

It was fascinating to have fuzzy things in the back of my brain become real in front of me. The fuzzy memory becomes sharply real. The house in which I lived, the elementary school where I went to kindergarten and first grade, the ditch in which I played, the field on which I played soccer.

The surprising result of this trip was after I returned home. Now, I have no reason to go back. The only two things that give me reason to go back are the wonderful Gooch family that we stayed with, and the Oklahoma Sooners!

3/5/09

sex

facebook status. such a small thing. yet so very interesting.

i was receiving so many comments on my facebook status that i thought i'd jot a blog about it. at our church, we did a true love waits study with our students for four wednesday nights in a row.

let me quote myself on the parent letter i sent out.
We live in a sex-saturated culture. It's in advertising, on TV, the subject of movies, in the lyrics of music, and all over the internet. The world says if you love someone or if you feel like it, just do it. God says something different. He says that sex is what makes marriage a special relationship, and that sex belongs only there. But with the world pulling so strongly in the wrong direction, how do we resist the temptation?
i believe very strongly that our students need the positive message of what God created sexuality to be. of course, the responsibility for this topic is borne first and foremost with the parents or guardians. the problem is that the average parent feels very uncomfortable with this topic. as a matter of fact, the feeling is more properly not discomfort but terror! it became a habit of mine early on to discuss this topic with students at least annually. this supplements the teachings of parents, which is what youth ministry should do at all times. as a matter of fact, one parent once asked me when the next true love waits study was coming, because she didn't want to talk to her son!

however, when i mentioned doing this study on facebook, one youth minister friend texted me and said he knew two different youth guys fired for doing such an event. and i also know folks who have taken much heat for discussing this sensitive topic with students. one of the things i have noticed, though, is that most of those problems lie with communication, not with the topic itself.

step 1: run it by the pastor and staff (check)
step 2: run it by the student ministry team (check)
step 3: divide into age-appropriate and gender-appropriate groups (check)
step 4: led by trustworthy adults (check)
step 5: offer an alternative Bible study led by an adult for all those who choose not to participate (check)
step 6: send a parent letter to every youth parent who's ever stepped foot in your church (check)
step 7: require permission slips be signed by parents before allowing students to participate (check)
step 8: have a parent meeting to allow for discussion and questions and concerns (check)

and every single student and even some visiting students participated! parents were overwhelmingly supportive, and the students were very grateful that we talked about these issues. went off without a hitch! (so far!)

the facebook discussions involved various positions about parental responsibility and church involvement and the importance of such a thing. some comments were funny, too (thanks, angela, louis, and stephanie!) i am glad that this topic sparks conversation. it's an important issue.

too important to leave to satan.