3 Annoying Things I’m Glad My Parents Did When I Was a Teenager.

So its been a while since I’ve been a teenager.  I was a teenager in the boring decade of the 90’s.  Long before Text Messaging, Facebook, YouTube, Ipods and  really cool video games (I grew up with Mario brothers and Contra on the original Nintendo) .  While lots of things have changed around the teenage world since then, there are somethings that just won’t change.  One of those things is how important it is for parents to be involved in the lives of their teenagers.

Here is a look back at 3 things that were really annoying to me as a teenager that I now look back and am thankful for.  I guess at the time my parents were more concerned with being a good mom and dad, than in winning my one vote popularity contest.  I thought they were clueless… It turns out they had way more common sense than I thought.

1. They Insisted on Regular Weekly Family Time.

As a teenager I often had “more important” places to be or things to do.  It usually involved hanging out with my friends or talking on the phone to the girl I really liked (again, this was before texting and facebook).  My parents didn’t mind these activities, but they set some pretty stiff boundaries around our family time that often conflicted with my desires.  I can still remember to this day my dad telling me I had 5 minutes to get off the phone or I had to be back by 7 because of family time.  Our family time most often existed of sharing prayer concerns, reading scripture, and praying… At the time I thought it was boring.  I now look back at this time as the center (the one place we could all come back to) that kept our family together during some rough times.

2. They Set a Reasonable Hour for Curfew.

My parents would ask about what I was up to.  At the time I just thought they were being a little overbearing and didn’t really have a life of their own so they had to make mine difficult.   I now realize they just really cared and wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing something stupid. I would tell them about the activity… A movie, ball game, etc. and they would tell me a reasonable time to be home.  Sometimes my curfew was midnight, sometimes it was 7PM.  It mattered to them where I was and what I was doing.  I could call and renegotiate if plans changed and you got invited to someones house or wanted to stop by McDonalds with your friends  (back then you had to use a pay phone or someone’s home phone).

I remember one night I stayed out hours after curfew because I was explaining to a friend about how to become a Christian.  I thought for sure my dad would be overjoyed and understand the “rule breaking.”  But when I got home.  He was awake and waiting on me.  I shared with him what happened and he was genuinely happy.  Then he told me I was grounded because I could have called.  At the time I thought he was a jerk.  Now I realize that he expected me to be responsible.  He expected more out of me than I was expecting out of myself.

3. They Stated the Obvious.

When I was 18 years old and about to head off for college I made my parents sweat by dating a girl that already had a daughter.  My mom sat me down and shared the obvious.  Jon, “She has a kid.” (I told her that was a little obvious).  Then she said, “God may call you to marry someone who already has children one day, but do you really think you are ready to be a father?”  She was looking beyond my interest to the interest of the young woman and said, “She is no longer looking out for just herself.  She is looking for someone to be a father to her daughter and fill a role her life.  You were just telling me about going to college in another state.  You are going down two different paths.  You won’t be able to go to college and stay connected with this family.  You don’t need to lead her on.”

I guess I knew all that, but it took my mom stating the obvious as she had done so many times before.  And it wasn’t just over making bad decisions like investing 2 weeks of my life in a relationship that wasn’t meant to be.  I remember my parents telling me I did the right thing and affirming me over and over through my teen years.  Their stating of the obvious facts in an authentically loving way made all the difference in the world.  Sometimes I didn’t want to hear what they had to say, but part of me knew they were wiser than I gave them credit for.

I am thankful to God for good parents who stood on some unpopular issues when I was a teenager.  My response wasn’t always joyful, but I knew deep down that my parents cared about me.  I look back now at the boundaries that my parents set up around me.  I pressed against them quite a few times, but mostly to know that they were there.  During the times when life was chaotic and stressful in our family the boundaries were one way that I knew I was loved.

My Top 5 blog Posts of 2009

I’ve been blogging right at a year now.  I really didn’t get serious about it until later this year some time around September.  My original purpose was to open the door to share the gospel and encourage others in their relationship with Jesus Christ.  So far I have been blessed beyond imagination to start conversations and interact with people I haven’t seen in years or have never met face to face.  I have lots of plans about blogging in the new year, but before we go there, I thought I would do a little research and share some of the most popular posts of this past year.

1. 3 things I’d tell my teenage daughter after watching “New Moon”

2. A Few thoughts on Fatherhood

3. My Story (An introduction) … You can catch the rest of the series by following the links

4. Why Santa Clause Doesn’t come to Pensacola

5. 3 keys to a good Disciple Now Weekend … You can catch the rest of this series by following the links

My goal for 2010 is to refine my blogging to three main areas.  Based on the response to these blog posts and others I hope to focus on Family, Ministry, and Book Reviews.  While none of my book reviews independently made the top 5, I had several that were close and book reviews do make up a great deal of my traffic.  Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try some new things in 2010 like contests and giveaways.  I look forward to the new year and all that it has in store.

Review: The Ishbane Conspiracy

I generally don’t read a lot of fiction, but this book was handed to me by one of my student’s parents and I found that I couldn’t put it down.  Randy Alcorn, noted author and speaker, co-wrote this book with his two daughters, Angela and Karina.  Though I have heard of Randy Alcorn before, this is actually my first book of his to read.  Needless to say it won’t be my last.

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The story that Randy Alcorn and his daughters weave in The Ishbane Conspiracy centers around the lives of four teenagers Jillian, Brittany, Rob and Ian and takes place over the course of a year.  Three of the teenagers are making the transition from high school to college.  Rob, the oldest in the group starts the book as a college freshman.

The authors do a great job of leading the reader through the high school world and touch on real life subjects.  As a student pastor and having been on high school campus’ quite a bit over the last twelve years it is surprising how accurately the issues are represented in this book.  Yet, the Christian students in this book struggle through these issues (or walk with their friends through these issues) and though the road is difficult at places, they find guidance and deliverance in Christ.

Each chapter is followed by a letter from one demon to another in a similar style to C.S. Lewis’ The Screw Tape Letters.  The letter’s contain hell’s strategy for leading students to death, or at least a wasted life.  The letters increase in length throughout the course of the book.  Each one providing more commentary on the temptations that teenagers face.

Due to the mature themes that run through the book I would recommend it to parents and students in high school.  The issues are real and aren’t really over-exagerated, but may appear shocking to parents who don’t have kids in high school.  If you are a high school student looking for a practical guide on how to live for Christ in your school, a parent looking for more insight into the issues that surround teenagers today, or just a good fan of great fiction, I highly recommend this book to you.  I give it four out of five stars.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

My Story: A Trial that Proves a Faulty Faith (Part 2)

flickrcom-photos-flakstad-2681169006When I was 14 years old my life took a sudden and unexpected turn.  My family had moved from Montana to North Alabama.  My father now only worked one job being a full time pastor.  We were settled into the school system and began  enjoying life in the south.

Then I came home one day to find out that my dad had had a stroke and was in the hospital.  We visited him over the following weeks.  Many times I chose not to go because I didn’t want to see my father in such a helpless position.   He began the road to recovery only to be asked for his resignation a few months later.

At the time I blamed myself.  Around the same time he had taken me out arrowhead hunting one afternoon and he ended up being late to an important meeting.  I internalized what I perceived as the attack on my father as being my fault.

A Different Kind of Suffering

In the times past all the suffering that we had endured seemed impersonal.  My parents had seen two miscarriages.  We almost lost my mom and brother when he was born.  We were poor and trusted God to meet our needs. Yet, now I was faced with what appeared to be a very personal and direct attack on all that I understood to be right in the world.

There is no greater insult to a young man than to defame his father in front of him.  I chose to reject God and the church.  I hated God and rebelled against him in all that I knew to do. I did not know it, but my faith was being tested to prove I was not all that I thought I was (I Peter 1:6-7, II Corinthians 13:5).  I had been riding the coattails of my parents faith, but there comes a time when each person must trust Christ on their own (Ezekiel 18:21-32).

My Rebellion

I had a friend who would drink and so I asked to be included the next time he went out.  I began getting drunk on a regular basis.  I was mad at God for letting my dad get fired and I was mad at the church for being so full of hypocrites.

For a time we  would hang out in my parents back yard getting drunk in a cabin on the river.  We didn’t have a great way to dispose of the alcohol containers (I’m sure my dad would have noticed them in the trash can), so we cut a hole in the bottom of the cabin floor and stuffed all the empty containers in the hole.  Eventually there was no more room to hid the beer cans and vodka bottles.  My dad found out we were drinking and we had a “come to Jesus” meeting.

I hated disappointing my dad and knew a great way to get out of some of the trouble I was in was to “repent” of my sin.  I was genuinely sorry for what I had done, but mostly I was just ashamed that I had gotten caught  (I Corinthians 2:10). I set about to hide my shame by building a reputation of good works.

At age 18 I became a student minister.  I thought that if I was just good enough, God would be pleased with me.   I was wrong (Ephesians 2:8-9). I thought I could earn God’s favor, but its a gift that has to be given.

It would be years before I would really discover what a relationship with God was really all about.

Want to know more about the Christian message and how to become a Christ follower?  Click the link below.  Be sure to follow it to the end that is where the truly good news is shared.

Way of  the Master

My Story (Introduction)

flickrcom-photos-linnybinnypix-1189889644God did something to me a few years ago and I now have a story to tell.  I want to share my story with you for several reasons.  Some people want to catch up and know what life has been like in the Hill House these last several years.  Others of you want to know what, if anything is really different than the Jonathan you used to know.  Still more of you have only known me as a Christian and you wonder what was life like before you met me.  Most importantly I want to bring honor to God and tell the world the story of how he saved me and he can save you if you are willing.

Introduction:

Over the next several days I will be blogging my story (complete with scripture references).  My goal is to show you what God has done in my life looking through the lens of God’s word.  The title of each blog and day it will be posted are listed below.  Tune in this week to get the full story.

9 Reflections on Disciple Now (Part 2)

3. Our teenagers glorified God by serving others with the work projects this weekend (They painted a house, built a ramp, hosted a backyard bible club, and took cookies to the home bound).

4. Our teenagers were given at least one more point of contact with our church family (they stayed in the home of church members and the relationships at Calvary were deepened and  developed as students and adults interacted)

5. Our Teenagers were given a positive aim for their life and real reason to remain pure (to glorify God in manhood and womanhood!)  Too often the loftiest aim we give our kids is to stay out of trouble… ie… “true love waits” and we fail to provide a positive challenge to our kids to raise the standard.