Book Review: The Tech-Wise Family

Book Review:  The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch

The Good:

Ready for a Challenge.  Listen, this is not for beginners.  The instructions are not keep your phone usage under 5 hours per day and limit your binge watching for the weekend.  No, this book will make you want to throw your phone out the window and hug your kids for an hour.  The challenge is real people, so buckle up.

Hold Hands.  Why do we hold our kids’ hands in the parking lot?  To lead them to our car and not let them get hit by a Target shopper who couldn’t wait to hit the dollar bin.  Same principle here.  Crouch holds your hand the whole way, guiding you through each principle, and giving you practical steps to accomplish each step.

Rest in Peace.  Most of us reading this do not rest.  You may have times of leisure, but we do not rest.  God rested.  Is this thing on?  God rested.  And yet we still think we can go 24/7 with another shot of espresso, a smartphone, and a Google home.  Doesn’t work that way.  You need to rest, and this plan will help you get there.

The Bad:

Have you met my kids?  I love my kids dearly, but some of these rules/steps are…I’m laughing out loud as I type this thinking of my children…unrealistic.  To his credit, the author does say this is not a one size fit all plan.  For example, tea on Sunday?  Yeah my 4 year old son is gonna be hyped for an afternoon of tea and classical music.  I can just hear him saying, “Daddy, my turn to pick?  I’d like to hear Symphony No. 5 in C minor…please daddy?”.  Or the rule of no screens till they are 10.  Now keep in mind, this is cherry picking the difficult ones.  Most principles are dynamite and need to be considered.

The Grade:  A-

The case is made.  I mean, just look at this Time Magazine article, there is no debate anymore.  Too much screen time for children is dangerous and hazardous to our kid’s spiritual and mental health.  It’s time we take control, set boundaries, and not allow the addiction to technology start when they are in diapers.  Feel free to start small.  That is what our family did as we have implemented several ideas, and they have been beneficial to our family.  And one more thing, the tech-wise family, it starts with the parents.  Set the example, and lead your family into being a tech-wise family.  It will be uncomfortable at first, but that’s often where God works best.

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5 Alarming Porn Statistics for Youth

I would not just call these stats “alarming”, but “jaw-dropping” would be more like it.  This is an epidemic.  Time we begin and continue to have conversations about the dangers of porn, and the broken hearts that only can be freed and rescued by Jesus (Galatians 5:1).  Click on my article below to find these stats, and more reasons to pray and have conversations with teens, parents, and your own children as soon as possible.

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Book Review: Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage

Book Review:  Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage by Jim Newheiser

The Good:

Biblical and Sensitive.  The author has great bed side manner in wading through difficult questions about marriage and divorce.  The book does not tip-toe around subjects, but appropriately guides the reader through Biblical texts carefully and effectively.

Explanations for His Explanations.  The author is so careful to take every angle and side to each question of marriage.  Newheiser goes to great lengths to thoroughly present solutions to marriage questions and take you on a full ride around all possible scenarios.

Fight Club.  Many marriages need to read the conflict chapter together.  This could save so much heartache and tension in a marriage.

The Bad:

N/A

The Grade:  A+.  Every pastor should have this on their shelf.  It provides Biblical answers to an array of ministry and counseling situations.  Additionally, it bestows great value for marriage counseling in its beginning pages as well.  With bite size chapters, well-formed summaries, and even discussion questions for further thought, the book is a must purchase for answers about marriage and divorce.

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Need Family Advice?

Need family advice?  Me too.  So I went to God’s Word and shared God’s thoughts on the family in the past, present, and the family’s future.  Click the picture below and have a listen.

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My Favorite Spurgeon Quotes

Instead of my normal book review, I thought I would just share my favorite quotes from Charles Spurgeon’s devotional “Faith Checkbook”.  These are quotes that impacted me the most from his book, but don’t stop there.  I would encourage you to take this book as a yearly challenge for your devotional time.

My own weakness makes me shrink, but God’s promise makes me brave.

It will be far more profitable for me to become unselfish and out of love to my Lord Jesus begin to care for souls of those around me.

Among the lost souls in hell there is not one that can say, “I went to Jesus and He refused me”.

Jesus is yours now if you will have Him, lean on Him, lean hard on Him.

The Lord does not mock humble souls.

Those whom God blesses, devils cannot curse.

What can the Lord deny us after giving us Jesus?…for if there had been a limit anywhere, He would have kept back His own Son.

The Lord’s eye is not dim, and He sees the blood of the great Sacrifice with steady gaze.

If we are wise, we shall rather welcome the refining process than decline it.

His own Spirit was wrought this desire in us, and therefore He will answer it.

He that sends the clouds can as easily clear the sky.

We must feel for others, and give them, not a few dry crusts, but such things as we ourselves would wish to receive.

He argued from past deliverances that he should receive help in a new danger.

God has given us a promise of real estate in the glory-land.

Blessed is the man who is busy in secret with his kindness.

Jesus still proclaims the opening of the prison to them that are bound.

He chooses to send you, it is not for you to shrink from the heavenly call.

The Lord may not give gold, but He will give grace.

A dauntless faith in God’s brushes fear aside like the cobwebs in a giant’s path.

Let me make my service of Jesus my occupation, my lifework, my one pursuit.

We have been loved too long, and bought at too great a price to be now forgotten.

You are immortal till your work is done.  If the Lord has more witness for you to bear, you will live to bear it…A wiser mind that our own arranges our destiny.

Our bodies humble us and that is about the best thing they do for us =)

Clouds may gather, but the Lord can blow them away.

What a bondage it is when the child of God is sold under sin, held in chains by Satan, deprived of his liberty, robbed of his power in prayer, and his delight in the Lord!

The fear of God casts out envy of men…He who fears God has nothing else to fear.

The enemy has been once overcome.  I fight with a beaten foe.

It would be well to know much, but better to love much.

Worry kills, but confidence in God is like healing medicine.

Rest assured that losses for the Lord are not losses.

In Him we died unto sin once, and the capital sentence cannot a second time be executed.

Warrior of the cross, fight on!  Never rest till thy victory is complete, for thine eternal reward will prove worthy of a life of warfare.

All our past mercies are tokens of future mercies.

We have only to summon courage enough to go forward, and we shall win dark homes and hard hearts for Jesus.

Tears clear the eyes for the sight of God in His grace; and make the vision of His favor more precious.

Our business is to persevere and learn by little by little.

He whose soul does not worship will never live in holiness.

Let me never find the galley of self-conceit and self-confidence floating on the waves of my usefulness.

Try the preaching of the crucified, risen, and ascended Savior; for this is the greatest “draw” that was ever yet manifested among men.

His heart is with His people, His delight is in them, He is never slow to meet them.

God cannot turn to us unless we turn from our sin.

Jesus made the life of His people as eternal as His own.  How can they die as long as He lives.

God’s time is the best time.

It ought not to be difficult for us to humble ourselves, for what have we to be proud of? =)

O Lord, sink me in self that I may rise in thee.

The all-sufficient is sufficient for my largest want.  He who is sufficient for earth and heaven is certainly able to meet the case of a poor worm like me.

We have looked elsewhere long enough, it is time that we look along to Him who invites our expectation, and promises to give us His salvation.

Let us thank God for a little success, and pray for more.

The remembrance of the grief shall heighten the flavor of the delight.

How can we distrust when Jehovah Himself becomes house and home, refuge and rest to us?

I have more knowledge, more experience, more patience, more stability than I had before the trials came.  (Amen!)

But as for the Lord our God, He is present when we seek Him, present when we need Him, and present when we already enjoyed His aid.

He will be all to all His beloved so long as the moon endureth.

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What Does Your Teen Need?

A parent shared this podcast between two Christian moms who have raised teenagers. They give some tremendous lessons, and ones you will want to hear as you either help parents teenagers, or raise teenagers on your own! Give a listen, it is worth your time.

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2019 Goals For Youth Ministry

Each year, I compile a list of goals for the coming year.  One piece of advice, have a list on your phone or cork-board in your office where you write these ideas all throughout the previous year.  That way, when you sit down at your computer in December, you’re not lost for ideas.

Here’s the list for 2019.  Can’t wait to get started!

  • Inter-generational Service Projects—Encourage more adult & teen service involvement, including helping plan events.
  • New Writing Project—God continues to provide writing opportunities through book sales and blog articles for youth ministry, and this coming year working towards another book opportunity.
  • Summer Camp—One of my bucket list items—speaking at a summer camp! And I get to bring teens, what a deal!
  • Theology Enrichment—Review of theological textbooks and attendance of a theological/preaching conference.
  • Pastoral Training Course—After a decade in the ministry, I’d like to write down some lessons I’ve learned and wisdom I’ve received from others, and put this in a training course to help those new to ministry.
  • Teen Mentoring—While the goal of adults mentoring teens continues to be a goal, I’d like to see more teens mentoring younger students. Leadership teens will be expected to mentor younger teens, and younger teens will learn to be a mentor and example to younger kids.
  • International Trip—Mission Trip to Germany this summer serving alongside missionaries our church supports.

What are some goals you have for the coming year?

 

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2018 Year In Review

Next week, on this here blog, I will reveal the goals I have for the upcoming year of 2019.  Wow, is it really going to be 2019?  Where are all the flying cars? Disappointing.  Anyways, it’s a great thing to have goals for the future, but it is also an important aspect of ministry to look back and evaluate.  Without evaluation, there is no improvement.  Looking at last years goals, it was a blessing to see many of them were able to come to fruition.

(Disclaimer:  This list is not to brag about what I have done.  The goal of this list is to hopefully spark some ideas for your own ministry that may give God glory and allow your ministry to grow.)

Continue Parent/Pastor Conferences—These meeting have been extra special and valuable in my pursuit of an effective partnership with parents.

Pre-Marital Counseling—After years of reading marriage books and compiling marriage articles, I was able to re-write my pre-marital counseling curriculum.

International Trip—The process was set in motion this year with plans to serve in Germany this coming summer.

World Religions Series—High School students went through a series that focused on reaching and understanding other religions.

Winter Retreat—What a special trip this was to speak to several youth groups including our own and a fun time spending a weekend with our teens.

Expansion of Elderly Ministry—A new addition of shut-in visits was added this year, and it was a tremendous blessing. We gave a special gift and each teen prayed with a senior saint.

Local Mission Trip—A unique experience of puppets in the park. The teens weren’t done there, but also were able to remodel & paint two of the main children’s ministry classrooms.

Children’s Safety Policy Improvement—Revisions to the children’s safety policy, pick up procedures established, and other security measures were put in place this year.

 

 

 

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Book Review: Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands

Book Review:  Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp

The Good:

Is This Real Life?  What I appreciate about this book is how true to life it is.  These are not utopian principles that only exist on perfect planets.  No, we are talking about chapters full of incredible, insightful and practical advice that belong on the counselor’s shelf.

What does that mean?  Clear definitions of words using Biblical backing.  For example, gossip was defined as when “I confess the sin of another person to someone who is not involved”.  Yep, that’s it.  These tightly wound, easy to pick up definitions are throughout the book, and quite helpful in everyday counseling opportunities.

I’m gonna use that.  You will find yourself saying “oh, I’m gonna use that” out loud on numerous occasions.  The charts, tactics, Bible passages, and unique methods are so valuable to help people who are in need of a change.

The Bad:

Careful there partner.  What I like about Tripp’s books is they are never short on boldness.  It is bold from the very first page where it claims this will be the “best news a human being could ever receive”.  Now that’s bold.  But on occasion, he goes a little too far in his theological statements using language that might be too absolute or take an interpretation too far.  It’s rare, but make sure to not take it all as Gospel (which I don’t believe Tripp intended in the first place).

The Grade:  A-.  I think I am a bit late to the party.  Nearly every counselor training session that I have attended, the speaker recommends this very book.  And it did not disappoint.  Great value in the counselor setting, and for that matter as a pastor, parent and husband…great value in everyday life.

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