Worthy Goals for Our Sons

IMGP6812 (2)Parents who love their children typically “want what’s best” for them.  This can translate into providing opportunities to explore interests, or enabling time and resources with patience while our sons test various skills and abilities. Inevitably, it also means providing coaching and guidance – after all, as adults, we have been around the block a couple of times and we should share our acquired wisdom and insights.

I think we need to be careful; however, to distinguish how we perceive “what’s best” for our sons – is “best” aligned with what we see on TV, read in books, or receive from God’s Word?

Naturally (because we love them), it’s normal to want our children to:

  1. never go hungry,
  2. never be homeless, or
  3. never become ill with the lack of resources that could treat/heal them

However, it’s easy to tip that scale too far to the other extreme.  We can easily slip from protection (contentment) to defining wealth, mansions, the praise of men, and perfect health through perfecting one’s own body in physical sport and training as the goal for (or happy outcome of ) our sons’ lives.  This would be unfortunate for many reasons:

  • our sons could be confused in how to distinguish doing their very best at their appointed task (aka “Walking Worthy”; vocational callings, ministry service, et.al.) versus doing their very best to acquire material goods or conditions (stuff, wealth, house on the hill, perfect 6-pack Abs, vanity wife, etc.) as artificial measuring posts (i.e. running hard to win the prize of the true calling, versus running hard to fill a trophy case of trinkets)
  • our sons could become over-confident in their own abilities, accomplishments, intellect, and material goods to lose sight of God’s role in daily living, and our dependency on Him. (Matthew 6:25-34)
  • our sons could be confused as to the origin of our love — pride in their earthly accomplishments, versus joy in seeing how they help, serve, lead others in relationships motivated by gratitude for all God has already accomplished on our behalf (salvation from slavery and damnation).

Focus on Family poster 1

Surely, the best possible life for our children is defined by their response to God’s commands (obedience), receipt of His grace upon confession and repentance for restoration, and to do good works – not to earn reconciliation, but out of gratitude and as an expression of love towards others. In this case, I want them to seek God, run the race as to win (for Him), and regardless of the outcome, know I love them as gifts from God (Psalm 127:3).

Consider these passages as admonitions to our sons (each will open in a new window, each from NASB unless otherwise noted):

  • 1 Tim 6:8-12 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
  • Matthew 5:16Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
  • Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
  • 1 Cor 3: 10-15 – According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
  • 2 Cor 5:9-10 – Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
  • 1 John 2:28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.
  • Ephesians 4:1-3 (TLB)I beg you—I, a prisoner here in jail for serving the Lord—to live and act in a way worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessings as these. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.

Give your sons (and daughters) a big hug; talk with them, spend time sharing insights from the Word. Let them know you love them and want them to follow God’s leading for their lives.  It may have eternal consequences.



TLUSA Worldview

Wawayanda 2011 tentsThere is a phrase; “seeing the world though rose colored glasses”. In short, it means adopting a view of the world that is filtered by your never failing optimism. In this view of the world (or worldview) even big problems look like opportunities and people who’ve wronged you can still be evaluated for what’s best about them.

Everyone has a set of filters that they use when looking at the world. These filters come IMGP6811from many sources:

  • What our parents taught us
  • What we saw our parents (and friends) actually do
  • Our own experiences, especially the ones that caused us pain or sorrow
  • Expressed opinions from coaches, mentors, youth programs, school teachers, etc.
  • Sermons, Sunday School, Catechism classes, reading the Bible, vacation bible school programs, youth group meetings, etc.

Some of us don’t even recognize that we have adopted these filters over time, based on upbringing, tradition or community involvement. Others craft their filters based on urgently held beliefs – whether political, social, or faith-based.

The real challenge to consider is this: how do I know my filters are correct, accurate, or helpful?

  • Sparks flyIs my definition of worldview based solely on my own experiences?  If so, how much context do I really have, or need to have, in order to fully validate that my filters are reasonable?  Would a world traveler with a PhD have better filters than me simply because he or she has had more experiences than I have had in the twenty miles of territory that I’ve surveyed?
  • If I incorporate science teachings into my worldview, a similar question exists – can I EVER accumulate enough knowledge or understanding to “have arrived” at a fully qualified plateau of wisdom and insight?
  • How about my incorporation of faith practice – am I limited by my own limited understanding of God and His plan for my life?

If I lack a complete understanding of the natural world, how it works and who created it, does that stop me from publishing (and updating) my worldview?  No, but it will continue to evolve over time.

Lord Baden Powell offered this comment on developing world view from his “Aids to Scoutmastership”, published in 1919;

Development of outlook naturally begins with a respect for God, which we may best term “Reverence.” Reverence to God and reverence for one’s neighbor and reverence for oneself as a servant of God, is the basis of every form of religion.

Could it be that his phrase “development of outlook” was an early way of describing what we might call “worldview”?

BP also offered this quote for us to ponder:

The atheists….maintain that a religion that has to be learnt from books written by men cannot be a true one. But they don’t seem to see that besides printed books….God has given us as one step the great Book of Nature to read; and they cannot say that there is untruth there – the facts stand before them….I do not suggest Nature Study as a form of worship or as a substitute for religion, but I advocate the understanding of Nature as a step, in certain cases, towards gaining religion. – BP from “Rovering To Success”, 1930

  • “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” – Psalm 19:1 (NASB)
  • “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” – Romans 1:18-20 (NASB)

Recognizing that there is a supreme being who created us all in His image ought to be awe inspiring. It would serve to help us recognize that we are not the center of the universe, but merely created beings – created with purpose and a plan as part of a higher design.

IMGP7151What is the organizational world view of Trail Life USA? It’s clearly outlined in the section of our web site labeled “Who We Are”. It includes a statement of faith, statement of values, and membership standards. The worldview is also found by:

  • Looking at the posts of recent outings, trips and adventures
  • Listening to the dialog between leaders and young men who are learning how to tie knots, camp safely, and revere God while surrounded by His creation.
  • Recognizing the growth of boys into young men as they walk the trail towards adulthood

Please take time to get to know us. We’d like to share our vision for outdoor adventure, selfless service and youth leadership development. “Honoring our Legacy, Raising our Standard

2012 Camp Somers 158

Outdoor Adventure vs. Vacation Bible School

IMGP6938When I met a very diverse group of men and women at the first Trail Life National Conference, one of the most commonly asked questions at the breakfast table, lunch line and dinner table was: is Trail Life going to be about the scouting methods (with emphasis on rugged outdoor skills) or some form of “Sunday School/Catechism Class”?

Some of the folks were concerned that there would be so much emphasis on faith matters that:

  1. The outdoor adventure component would be weak or even non-existent
  2. The demand for troop leaders to become defacto ministers, pastors or priests would become a detraction from recruiting leaders who were not well versed in the Bible or doctrinal matters

At the same time, I heard questions raised as to why the organization wasn’t taking this opportunity to inject more spiritual development such as requiring bible verse memorization as part of rank advancement.

All in all, as we sat through the sessions outlining the program and how it would be organized, most of these concerns fell by the wayside and the folks grew in courage and IMGP7151confidence that Trail Life USA would indeed, raise the standard in meaningful ways.  That we could have the best of both concerns and adjust the volume on each depending on the season-of-life of the individual unit.  Simply put, it didn’t have to be all about one at the exclusion of the other.

While everyone agreed that spiritual development is critical for young men (i.e. self-control, courtesy, respect for authority while also being mentally alert and using critical thinking skills, etc.) we also knew that a strong outdoor program that highlighted real adventure, backpacking, boating, and more would bring excitement and enthusiasm (i.e. FUN) to the mix.

I left the conference with heightened confidence that the program would flourish because there is a range of opinion, and that we’re stronger for it. Additionally, while there is a IMGP6443range of troop programs throughout our organization, we’re also in alignment with principal goals and mechanisms to reach them – a real complementary fit.

In this context, we can celebrate the notion of “honoring our legacy while raising our standard” – being the best program that we can be without trying to define it by what came before (although it’s hard not to make the occasional comparison — informally or not).

The only thing we may be missing is YOU. If you’re on the fence about Trail Life USA or have questions, please do not by shy. Instead, be brave and speak up. Our area point men and national staff are happy to provide insights into our program, and we have a convenient unit locator map, too.

adjusted trail

Go Have Fun with Your Family

IMGP6935There are 16 days until Father’s Day.  Today’s quote:

A real man loves his wife, and places his family as the most important thing in life. Nothing has brought me more peace and content in life than simply being a good husband and father. — Frank Abagnale

I encourage all Dads to take a moment today to think about how you could invest yourself in your family’s life this weekend. Can you adjust your schedule to surprise them with a picnic, a walk at a local park, tossing the ball with your son, having a chat with your daughter, reading portions of a familiar book together, getting something “extra” done from your wife’s “please fix this” list?

The founder of the Scouting movement, Sir Baden-Powell, offered a lot of great statements that resonate through the past century.  One of my favorites is this:

bshb0…the final and chief test of the scout is the doing of a good turn to somebody every day, quietly and without boasting. This is the proof of the scout. It is practical religion, and a boy honors God best when he helps others most. A boy may wear all the scout uniforms made, all the scout badges ever manufactured, know all the woodcraft, campcraft, scoutcraft and other activities of boy scouts, and yet never be a real boy scout. To be a real boy scout means the doing of a good turn every day with the proper motive and if this be done, the boy has a right to be classed with the great scouts that have been of such service to their country.

What if it said this instead?

…the final and chief test of the Husband/Father is the doing of a good turn to support forest-e-witcraft-quote-a-hundred-years-from-now-it-will-not-matterhis family every day, quietly and without needing to be recognized for each task’s accomplishment. This is the proof of the Husband/Father. It is practical religion, and a man honors God best when he helps others most. A man may wear many hats (of responsibility), win many trophies and accolades, know all the manly skills and critical familial activities, and yet never be a real Husband/Father. To be a real Husband/Father means the doing of sacrificial good turns every day with the proper motive and if this be done, the man has a right to be classed with the great Husband/Fathers that have been of such service to their country.

Certainly not a perfect translation, but it is motivational.  Giving up your time, self-interests and self-focused pursuits in order to serve your family’s needs is what’s father with childrenneeded.  Does this mean you never get to do some of the things you really desire, of course not, but it does mean that sometimes it’s going to hurt a little to make the sacrifice play at a moment in time where you may feel justified in being selfish.  Make the tough call, put your family first and don’t keep score of your perceived injustice at having to give up that golf game, fishing trip, or such.

Invest time in doing things that you and your family enjoy.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated – often the simple things work best.  Experiment, try new stuff, have fun.