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  • Summer Blogging and the Pursuit of Authenticity

    [Originally Published in Tri-State Voice, August 2008] Editor’s note: The following are excerpts from the “Away with Words: In Pursuit of Authenticity” weblog of Jeremy Del Rio. The blog title is purposefully spelled “away,” not “a way,” to reflect the idea that how we live our lives speaks much louder than the words from our lips. The goal, Jeremy says, is to “move beyond rhetoric to transformative action” in his own life and others. Pastor Joseph Henry Cortese of Crossroads Tabernacle in the Bronx recently called Jeremy’s blog, “a great blog site from one of the most exciting young minds in the kingdom, inspiring, thought-provoking, and even rattling as he presses those who read it into authenticity.” Discover why at www.JeremyDelRio.com. // Ears to Hear … the Newspaper. Remember that church where “the good people” go? Pastor Michael Durso of Christ Tabernacle demonstrated again the power of that little girl’s words. He also illustrated why Billy Graham once said Christians should preach “with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.” In early July, Pastor Durso read a New York Times article about Andrew Seabrooks, a National Guardsman from Queens who died in Afghanistan after returning to active duty in order to prevent foreclosure on his family home. Pastor Durso then activated his church’s care team to reach out to Seabrooks’ surviving partner, Gloria Hedges, to see how they could support her and their four-year-old son Xavier in their grief. So far, the congregation has raised $7,000 as a love offering and the church’s Justkidz ministry has committed to provide ongoing school supplies and Christmas and birthday presents for Xavier. Oh, that my eyes would see and ears would hear such opportunities to love others well like Pastor Durso and Christ Tab. // Urban Baptistry. Abounding Grace Ministries punctuated the “Jesus Loves You New York” week (July 13-20) with an impromptu baptism service in the schoolyard of PS 34 in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, its new home since March for Sunday worship. Pastor Rick Del Rio bought an inflatable pool Saturday afternoon, and filled it in time for a scheduled Sunday morning schoolyard celebration service. Sixty people, most of whom attended church as a result of the outreach, were baptized on the spot. Other highlights included daily activities such as block parties, neighborhood BBQs, the fourteenth annual Xcel basketball tournament, and a WOW Jam. Equal parts street festival and old-school revival, the WOW Jam drew 5,000+ to an otherwise closed-to-traffic 6th Street, which is surrounded by some of the oldest public housing projects in the country. More than three hundred decisions for Christ followed dozens of giveaways (bikes, flat screen TVs, iPods, cash); 100 repaired bicycles; 2,500 free hot dogs and hamburgers; dozens of free hair cuts and family photos; music by Peaches from Peaches and Herb; and a message from evangelist Stephen Tavani. // On Teen Sex. [Responding, via Facebook, to a parent’s questions regarding her son’s experimentation with drugs and sex] It sounds like “P” is conflicted. Part of him wants what’s right, to be “respectful, responsible, trustworthy”; to play music in the worship band; etc. Part of him is dealing with regular teenage stuff, like exploring his sexuality, but in unhealthy ways with porn and his girlfriend. Part of him is testing his relationship with you and your husband — sneaking out, “borrowing” the van, etc. Part of him is probably revisiting the pain and guilt of his past, which, even if dealt with when he was younger, gets processed again differently, at various stages of life. This may help explain the experimentation with drugs and alcohol. P needs to know that you understand what he’s going through, or at least that you want to understand. You’ll communicate this by talking less and listening more; but if he’s like most teens, he may not voluntarily talk much about what’s really going on. Herein lies the art of what Prof. Randy Paush called “the fake-out” in his famous “Last Lecture.” The basic idea is that to get people to do things that are difficult, sometimes it’s best if they think something else is going on (like if they’re having fun). For example, Pausch used the occasion of what was supposed to be an academic lecture to record a heartfelt message to his children before terminal cancer took his life prematurely. That other people eavesdropped and learned something was an added bonus. Leverage the fact that P feels conflicted—this, in itself, is a good thing because it means that his conscience is not seared. There’s still a tenderness and sensitivity to you and God that you need to nurture proactively when P isn’t acting out. Some ideas: invest in what P loves. What is he passionate about? What excites him? For some teens, these are hard questions (for many adults too!), so help expose him to options through travel, family outings, your own hobbies. If he (or you) have a clue about what he likes, and it’s something you enjoy, schedule time to do it together. If it’s something you don’t enjoy (like video games or social networking online) or don’t understand (like his musical preferences), empower him to teach you. How cool is that for a kid? Mom admits kid knows more than she does about something and mom needs (and wants) kid’s help learning. It’s a huge confidence builder. And for the best part — the time he spends teaching you is time you’ve spent together interacting around something he loves. Despite the “fake-out,” now he has yet another reason to trust you. Perhaps what P needs most of all is reassurance that no matter what he does, no matter how far he falls, you’re love for him is unconditional. He did nothing to earn your love; he can do nothing to lose it either. I suspect that this is an area where his past tries to haunt him. Similarly, he’s probably wrestling with whether God really loves him. Your example of a faithful parent will speak volumes to him about his heavenly Father’s love as well. - Jeremy Del Rio, Esq. consults churches on youth and community development, strategic planning, and cultural engagement. Visit him online at www.JeremyDelRio.com.