For Parents of College Freshman, From a Former RD

Let’s get it out there – I am not the most “in shape” of individuals to ever hit the streets.  Sad thing is, I used to be.  When working at Pepperdine University as a Resident Director, I started to run…and run I did.  What started off as 1 mile quickly turned into 4 and 5 mile jogs that slowly began to melt off the pounds.  But it didn’t start that way.  The first mile is the hardest.

In many ways, going to college is like running lap 1 of a 4 lap mile after having not ran in years.  Each lap represents the general development of the college student.  In lap 1 (Freshman), runners tend to “sprint” around the track, feeling like the run is easy.  In lap 2 (Sophmore), they realize that sprinting isn’t an effective way to maintain pace, and they begin to “struggle.”  Lap 3 (Junior) is about “sustaining” from laps 1 and 2 with a focus on the end of the race.  Lap 4 (Senior) is about “succeeding” or as my Father calls it – finishing wel.

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I'm not the one-year girl

There is a new fad in the world of publishing.  I call it the "One Year Phenomena." For one year you can try... just about anything: Live the Bible literally or femininely, work in a women's prison, live locally, try out homelessness, or live according to Oprah... and you'll get a book deal. 

I'm only going to say this once (and then explain it a bit - in this blog and next weeks): I am not a one year kinda girl.

It boggles my mind really when I see these seasonal lifestyle changes marketed before my eyes proclaiming a way of life... for a year. Come again?

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Battling Your Relationship With Shame

Discovering who we are inevitably leads us to discovering the reality that we're not who we desire to be - at least in ways.  Shame and guilt over past sin or current struggles can paralyze us....completely.  We feel separated from God, the people of God and the things of God.

We have to understand, though, that shame creeps in because we wrongly identify ourselves in sinful actions/tendency/behavior.  At it's core this misplacement of our identity is because we view ourselves as bodies that have a soul versus a soul that has a body.  

It may seem like a matter of semantics, but it's not at all.  It's an entirely different identity.  If we view ourselves as a body that continues to sin and do what we ought not - cf. Romans 7:18 - we inevitably end with feelings of shame and guilt.  However, if we view ourselves biblically and through Christ as a soul that has been made new, our identity is beyond our fleshly limitations and actions.  This is important to understand because our identity, then, is not found in sin, but instead in who God has made us to be spiritually (cf. Ephesians 1:3-14).

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Call Vignettes- A Series of Surrenders 5

In the last few posts I wrote about certain times in my life when I made definite decisions to follow Christ.  The moment I asked Jesus into my heart, although I remember it, was not near as hard won as other moments of surrender.  Rather, these defining moments are times when I have been faced with the questions, “Who is lord of my life?  Who do I choose to submit my life to? To me or to Jesus?  Do I trust that God is good?  Will I say “Yes” to his leading, however frightening or boring or wise that may or may not appear to be in the moment?  

And so God’s call on my life has really been the call of Jesus to follow Him.  Responding “Yes” to that call has got me to where I am today.  There was never a moment when God called me to be a community developer, or when He spoke a career of full-time ministry over me.  The call has been to follow Jesus, and in my particular case it led me right back home to a community of people I was mildly curious about before I met them, and to a city I love dearly.  Reflecting back, I can see that God had been planting experiences and seeds in my heart all along that led me to this place, but those experiences were not significant apart from the foundation they built toward me saying “Yes” to the things Jesus was asking of me.

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Generational Values Hindering Relationships

Let’s be honest: connecting people of different generations is not the easiest thing to do.  We face obstacles like core values being different, older people being intimidated or frustrated by the younger generations, younger people not feeling the value of having an older person in their life…to either generation not knowing how to connect with the other.  There are ways we can help with these things (for more on that see chapters 7 and 8 of this book), but there is another issue that is just as obvious – if not more.  We just don’t talk about it as openly.

Younger people are desperate for an experience they know is Divine.  Of course not all desire this, but many just want to experience God, walk with Him daily, be a part of what He’s doing and be used by Him.  Sure, experience based pursuits can be incredibly dangerous if they are separated from truth.  But experiencing God can also be rooted in truth.  And this is what I find many college age people seeking.

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Everything Labeled "Emergent"

We live in a world of labels and categories.  Everything has to fit into something.  And perhaps among the widest of these categories is the one labeled, "Emergent." 

I've been told that I'm Emergent.  Sometimes I'm asked, but recently a few people have just labeled me that.  When this issue is brought to my attention I always respond with a question, "What is your definition of Emergent?"  I had one person tell me that I'm Emergent because I used the word "journey" in a message.  Another was concerned because I did an overview of a book of the Bible (Ecclesiastes) in a talk versus going verse by verse and phrase by phrase.   I've had another person assume I'm Emergent because my churches website didn't have the exact words, "Triune God" anywhere on it (as if I don't believe in a "Triune" God simply because it's not explicitly articulate on a website).

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Alternative Thinking

Doing some final work on a manuscript called, “Slow Fade” dropping in April. In short, it’s about the fade-out of 18-25 years olds from the Church Body, and written with Reggie Joiner and Chuck Bomar. We’re pretty excited. But in the meantime, below is an addendum of sorts, offering ideas of what we'd do well to not keep saying to college-aged and single people. Anything you'd want to add?


It can be tough interacting with an age-stage entirely removed from your own. And as much as the following doesn’t mean to act as a prescription for relating to college-aged and single people, it does hope to lend some fresh ideas. Given hundreds of conversations with college-aged people, I’ve found the “INSTEAD OFs” to be our standard approach in relating to them, and the “HOW ABOUTs” as a possible alternative.

Who's Waiting for Your Kids?

In a few short years, students will leave our homes and graduate from our churches. They'll head off to college. Who's waiting for them? What kinds of people will they meet? And are they ready?

Balancing Plans and Providence...

Are you wrestling with deciding on a major? Are you at a vocational crossroads? Have you been downsized? Has a relationship turned sour? Are you goals eluding you? If you answered yes to any of these questions read on... I have a story for you:

My son took a trip to Austria several years ago. He was going to meet up with me because I was over there teaching in a wonderful Bible School. This was the travel plan: Plane/Train. He was 19 and it was his first time out of the country. Instead, here's what actually happened: plane delay (24 hours), plane, train (but a 100 year storm that dropped trees on the tracks in Europe), back up the train to try another track; same problem on the second track; be told (in German, which you don't speak) to get off the train and wait for a bus instead; get on the bus; be told (in German) that buses don't cross boarders from one country to another so this is the end of the line; watch as everyone gets off the bus; get off the bus; call your dad (it's 11:45PM) and say, "I'm in a town in Germany, the name of which I can't pronounce. What do I do?; wait while your dad calls a friend who lives in Salzburg. When your dad spells the name of the town she says, "O, that's only 15 minutes from here, across the boarder in Germany - I'll be right there"; get picked up in a car by an Austrian woman; spend the night with her and her husband; catch train to destination, arriving 72 hours later than planned...

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Truly Connected

I'm sure being "connected" with other believers is a huge thing for you, that is, if you're human (and a Christian).  You want to be relationally connected.  Intimately connected.  Person to person, person to people.  

We're created for relationships.  So, it makes sense.  But, what does it mean to be connected and how do we go about getting connected?  

Over the last 40 or so years we've developed a structure in our churches we like to call "small groups."  It's in these smaller groups of people we get "connected."  Well, that's the plan anyway.  There are certainly times in which this works out.  We "join" one and really resinate with others in the group.  It's more than a study, its where we connect in life with people.  Person to person, intimately.

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