Tag Archives: Cell Phone

What Can Unplugging Your Cell Phone Do For You?

It’s true. I decided to not use my cell phone for 24 hours, and I lived to tell my story. A generation ago, this statement would be ridiculous. A cell phone is a luxury. Even as a high school student, zackmorris_0the only cell phone I knew was the one Zack Morris carried around on the Saved by the Bell set.  It looked more like a VCR than the cell phones of today. That thing was huge!

Now, technology has brought us the internet on our phones. Our phones can track the amount of steps we take, capture moments with video and pictures, and can answer your questions (by the way, ask Siri “What is zero divided by zero”, it’s hilarious). I’ve written on this before, how technology is taking over our lives. So rather than go down that negative road, let’s take a positive spin on this. What if we unplugged? What would happen? Could you live? In a recent survey of 16-22 year olds, over half said they would give up their sense of smell sooner than they would give up their phones. Yes, you just read that correctly. And don’t even get me started on the Petextrians.

You might be thinking this is such a crazy thing to do. What was I thinking? Would I be able to breathe? What happens if there was a question that only Siri could answer? Would I have to talk to my family, play with my kids, and pay attention to my surrounding? I know, this was big time.

What made me to wade into such dangerous waters? What would make me risk my technology life? Well, it started with a simple jab from my 7-year-old daughter. She asked if I would sit by her on my morning off and play games and watch her favorite show…and then she said…and not check your phone. Like a ton of bricks hitting me upside the head. It’s time Jeff. It’s time.

So, as the first man who entered space, I embarked on an adventure, not knowing if I would make it. And, I did not perish from this risky experiment. In fact, I am alive to tell you these lessons I learned from unplugging my phone…

Being Still. Those of us that have smart phones, what is the first thing you do when you are sitting still, bored, or have nothing to do? You pull out your cell phone. You finger flick through Instagram, check your fantasy football team, or check how many likes your Halloween costume selfie got in the past 3 minutes. What if you decided to just “Be Still”? When was the last time you followed God’s advice in Psalm 46:10 and just was still before God? I’m here to tell you, it’s wonderful.

indexYou Have to Communicate. During this hiatus, my wife went to the grocery store while I was home with the kids. She knew I was “unplugged”, which meant I had no idea when she would be back. Home alone with 3 kids, and not knowing when your wife was going to be back. Ahhhh!!!! I told you it was dangerous waters. But seriously, communication becomes a larger factor, and that’s a good thing. A good reminder of how important communication is in relationships.

Quality Time. Quality time with your kids is not quality time if you have your phone out. We are good at holding this rule at the dinner table, but fail during other period of times. For example, during movie night with the kids, I purposefully will keep my phone upstairs so I can make sure the buzz or ding of the phone does not distract from the snuggles and popcorn.

Clear-Headed. There is just so much information to filter on your phones. Social media, news stories, sports information, pictures, texts, voicemail, emails…and the list goes on. Your brain needs time to refresh itself. A good 24 hour phone cleanse can be helpful.

Maybe I’m the only one that spends a little too much time on their phone. By not having a nervous breakdown after 24 hours without my phone shows me it’s not out of control. However, this time away did present some great lessons.

So, I’d encourage you to try the 24 hour challenge. You may learn your children’s names. You may not get hit by a car. You may look up long enough to see the sun is still in the sky. See, the benefits are numerous. But seriously, you may just need to be still, no WiFi and all!slide-to-power-off

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5 Practical Ways to Balance Ministry and Family

We’ve all heard the “only work on Sundays” jokes (well, some aren’t joking) over the years.  But for those in full-time ministry, you know your only “workday” is not just on Sundays, but the hours can often overflow into the evening and into the weekend.  Still young in the pastorate, I’ve learned lessons the hard way, and am still learning ways of balancing my precious young family with the ministry that I cherish.  And, it is a question that I often ask veterans in ministry, who seem to have a great handle on balancing family and ministry.  So, here are just a few practical ideas that I’ve heard from my mentors.New Years Vacation2

  1. Take Them With You. This may be the advice I’ve heard the most from ministry veterans. And it is to take your family, especially your kids, with you while you do ministry. Take your kid with you to a hospital visit, allow your wife to participate in counseling when appropriate, and if in youth ministry, let your teens enjoy your kids and not see them as a hindrance. *Here’s another key: Teach your kids that being in ministry has benefits too. Although daddy may have late nights, they also have a day off during the week; can take them to conferences at cool hotels, and other perks. Show your family ministry is a blessing, not a burden.
  2. Go On Dates. Make dating your wife a priority in your life. Put it in your schedule on a regular basis. Plan ahead for babysitting and other arrangements that need to be made. But don’t stop there; take your kids on “dates” too. You’ll see this guy in line for the new Cinderella movie this weekend, not because it’s my favorite Disney movie (Beauty & the Beast and Tangled all the way!)…but because I want to spend special time with my kids, get to know them more personally, and let them know I value time with them. But this too takes planning and intentional work.
  3. Take Your Creativity Home. One of my mentors laid this dagger into my heart. He asked me the question “Is your time with your kids at home as creative as your activities with your teens/children ministries?” OUCH! That one hurt. So, in the months after, I’ve tried my best to be more creative in my time with my kids. This means I’ve set up obstacle courses in the basement, taken magazines out of the mail and put together “favorite things” craft projects, and even did a neighborhood soccer camp (I had 8 little girls from the neighborhood in my front yard!)!
  4. Drop Your Work Off at UDF. Another friend told me to drop off your ministry at a place on your way home. Simply pray to God and ask Him to take the burden of ministry, put the criticism, the challenges, and the difficult counseling appointment at the feet of Jesus. Sure, those things will still affect you, but your kids and wife still need your best when you get home. So, my goal is to drop off the struggles of ministry at the UDF on the way home.
  5. Your Phone Can Be Your Enemy. Put your phone down. One pastor mentor of mine even said he does not come into the house on the phone, but will either pull over or stay in the garage to finish the call. Other ideas given are to take the phone out of the pocket or belt holder, and place it on the coffee maker or dresser (just don’t put it in the microwave). This will allow you to hear it for emergencies, but lets it go when someone liked your picture of your cat playing the piano.

Please let me know how you balance ministry and family. I’d love to learn from you!

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Powerful Message on Cell Phone & Driving

This video would be great to show to teenagers and others who use their cell phone while driving…a powerful message that could save lives.

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What is Technology Doing to Us?

OK, I can hear you from here. You’re thinking: “this is another guilt-me-into-putting-my-cell-phone-down blog. I’ve seen these a million times, and I feel guilty for a day and go without my cell phone. Then, the next day a new version of Candy Crush comes available for free, and I go bananas (pardon the pun)”

Bear with me, let’s start with an experiment. Next time you drive on the highway, take a look around. Count how many people are on their cell phones while driving. Maybe your highways are safer than mine, so take this experiment to the next restaurant you have dinner, and look to see who is actually having conversations with a non-electronic device. Take a stroll to the park, and watch parents push their kids on swings with one hand, and check their social media on their smartphone with the other.  Even when teenagers hang out, it’s commonplace for phones to be out and communication to be non-existent.social_media-Technology-Wallpapers

What’s my point?  Is the iPocolypse upon us.  Should we all try to build a Delorean with a flux capacitor to get us back 15 years.  Doc, slow down.  Before we get to some answers, let’s start with the bad news:

  1. Danger, Danger! You’ve all seen articles like this or this. There’s no doubt about it, with the overuse of technology, there comes developmental and social ramifications. Don’t ignore the warning signs of technology addiction. It’s real, and must be monitored in the future.
  2. FOMS. Anxiety is a growing problem for this generation. In fact, there is a term for the anxiety that occurs with a smartphone, it called Fear of Missing Something or FOMS. It may seem silly, but the statistics of this are staggering. Read here.
  3. So Much for Honor RollAnxiety is also growing inside the classroom.  While there are benefits of technology in the classroom, there are also some drawbacks. Not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, just presenting facts to consider.

The Good News:computer-kid

  1. Techie Faith. Teens are using their tablets for devotions and iPods for Bible reading. While I’m a big fan of feeling the Scripture pages with my fingers, technology can provide an avenue for Spiritual growth and discovery. (See Barna’s article)
  2. Millennials, Robots in Disguise? Can you say multitasking while chewing gum, patting your head, listening to your iPod, and skating…a typical Millennial can. The ability of this generation to process information quickly, multitask, and decipher technology is astounding (I caught my one year old texting the other day, not joking). This ability can be a huge advantage in their education, breadth of learning, and advancing our technology even further in the future.
  3. World-View. Whether it is learning of an earthquake in Central America within minutes of it happening, or finding out about persecution in the Far East…the worldview expansion of this generation has potential to be world-changing. Possibly by prayer, financial support, or leading causes, we are seeing more teenagers taking strides in making a difference in the world.

When it comes down to it, the key word here is BALANCE. When it comes to technology, don’t throw the cell phone out with the bath water. Technology provides educational tools, instant access to information, and globalization of communication. However, the overuse has seen the rise in anxiety amongst teens, increase in auto accidents, slow erosion of academic performance and decrease of quality family time. family-and-technologyWhere is the balance? Here’s some action points to help:

  1. Be Smart with your SmartPhone. Put the thing away when you are driving, riding a bike, or walking on a bridge.
  2. Set Limits. These could include, but not limited to: no cell phones at dinner, limit yourself to 1-2 games on your phone/tablet, must be put away when entering the house from work, and at a distance when on a date or playing with the kids. For kids & teens especially – no cell phones during homework/study and after designated bed time.
  3. Charging Station. Especially for teens that are suffering from sleep deprivation and sleep texting, take the temptation away. Design a charging station away from the bedrooms, and check the phones before your shower, not between 1am-5am.
  4. Security. Set up security and restrictions on devices. With teens averaging 6 devices, it’s no longer just computers that provide temptations. Parents, keep an eye on this, and set up software to protect. BUT DON’T STOP THERE! Have regular conversations about purity vs. pornography, online bullying, and proper technology behavior (i.e. sexting).
  5. Superheroes of Technology. In virtually every superhero movie, there’s a quote that or scene that depicts the phrase “use your powers for good not evil”. Encourage yourself and students to use this power of technology for good.   Help them find and pray for global causes, teach them to witness on social media, and show them Bible study tools online. The list is endless for positive things too.
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5 Teen Culture Trends of 2013

As a youth pastor, youth culture is a passion of mine.  Throughout the year, I do my best to stay current with the trends, cultural shifts, and behavior of this generation.  Here is a summary or review of the youth culture in 2013:2012culturecloud

  1. Violence and bullying is a growing problem among teenagers.  (Dating Violence; Teen kindness & cruelty; Teen Violence; E-Venge)
  2. Social Media is taking over…As if you didn’t know.  (Social Media Report; Information Age; Boys & Girls Messages)
  3. Pornography use is just going to get worse and worse, as it gets more accessible.  (ABC News Report; What Parents Don’t Know; Biggest Issue of Teenagers Today)
  4. Cell Phones used to be for safety…now becoming more dangerous – From car accidents to easy internet access.  (Sleep Texting; Internet Use on Mobile Phones; Texting & Driving; Smartphones Causing Dementia?
  5. They like to play video games…a lot. (Gaming Addiction; Call of Duty; Grand Theft Auto Sales)

Articles are listed after each cultural trend.  Credit is due to http://www.cpyu.org for finding many of these articles and my favorite app Evernote for keeping them organized throughout the year)

 

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How to Build a Spiritual Home

This past Saturday, I had the privilege to host a Parent/Grandparent Seminar.  One of the session topics was “Building a Home”.  For a guy who once lost all power to the first floor of his house after trying to fix an outlet…building a house is pretty overwhelming…and the thought of building a spiritual home, well that can be just as overwhelming.

So the next few weeks, I’d like to share the basics of building a home….not a house (because I can barely build a play house, and I wouldn’t know where to start).  But a home, well a good place to start is God’s Word, more specifically Psalm 127:1 – Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.  This verse has less to do with the hammer and nails, and more to do with wisdom & parenting.  So in each of these steps, you will notice God’s Word supporting each idea and steps toward building a spiritual home.

Build a Home

Step #1 – Foundation – A Foundation of Faith

How is this Accomplished?

1st, Bring them to church – Hebrews 10:25

Kids Who Become Active Christ-followers as Adults (from Lifechurch.tv)

If mom and dad went to church:       72% of kids will as adults.

If mom only went to church:            15% of kids will as adults.

If dad only went to church:              55% of kids will as adults.

If neither mom nor dad:                   06% of kids will as adults.

Your church attendance makes a difference.  Teens are leaving the church at a rapid rate, and the biggest reason is not they are mad at church, but they just don’t see it as important.  The famed theologian Justin Bieber was recently quoted as saying for me, I focus more on praying and talking to Him. I don’t have to go to church.” You as a parent need to show them it is…for spiritual growth, encouragement, place to serve, for community, and most of all to give glory & honor to our great God.

But it’s doesn’t stop there – the practical benefits are numerous.  Academically, Sociologists from BYU and Rice University found religiously affiliated youth are 40 percent more likely to graduate high school than their unaffiliated peers and 70 percent more likely to enroll in college.  Behaviorally, other studies have shown that religious involvement can also reduce drug & alcohol use and promiscuous behavior.

 

2nd, Don’t be afraid of the “G” word  – Joshua 24:15b “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

The Barna Group published an incredible statistic. It found that less than 10% of families who regularly attend church have spiritual conversations in the home.  WHY is that?

Is the TV too loud?  – The average American spends more than 34 hours a week watching live TV, plus another 3 to 6 hours watching taped programs.

Communication Breakdown – According to NPD Group Research – Devices now outnumber people in America 425 million to 315.  Somebody call Orson Welles!  Is your cell phone a distraction?  Do you have a “no cell phone rule” at the dinner table?  The “distracted parent” has received wide-notoriety, as an article in the Wall Street Journal stated “Injuries due to playground equipment in kids under five are up 17 percent; swimming-pool injuries have climbed 36 percent in the same age group…a tweeting mom’s two-year-old drowned while she was posting pictures of a tortoise that was in their backyard.”

Not a Priority – God and His Word need to the foundation.  Not education, not comfortable living, not even an iPad…it has to be God, and He needs to be brought up in conversation.  40 hours of TV…at least mute the commercials!  Barna says:  Parents that regularly discuss spiritual matters, actively serve in the church, and pray together with their kids are almost twice as likely their child will remain faithful!  Deuteronomy 6:7 explains God should be discussed all the time.  Use teaching moments whenever they present themselves.  May have to sacrifice sleep with this b/c teens open up the most at 11pm…but do what you can to use these teaching opportunities ALL DAY LONG.

 

3rd, Address Doubts & Encourage Independent Faith

Most spiritual doubts occur in jr. high and high school – help them through it.  Don’t dismiss their doubts, but help them to make their faith their own.  Don’t force it on them.  Work through it with them.

If we break down Colossians 1:23 phrase by phrase, it gives us a 3-dimensional faith that we all need to have, especially our kids.

Persistent faith – “continue in the faith”

Perceptive faith – “which you have heard and which was preached”

Personal faith – “and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister”

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4 tips to get your students reading the Bible

Ok, let’s say I want to talk to my grandma in Florida, to ask for advice about something.  So I just start shouting out loud, “Hi Grandma.  How’s your back feeling?  Hey got a question for you.  How did you deal with your kids when they were young?”  If you saw me screaming these things, knowing my grandma was in Florida, you probably would refer me to a good doctor or counselor, or run the other way until you couldn’t hear the crazy man screaming anymore.

Sound crazy?  Well, let me ask you this.  What is the primary way we gain advice, we learn, we can hear the Word of God.  Sunday school answer:  Moses.  Incorrect, try another Sunday school answer:  THE BIBLE!  Did you know as many as 67% of teens do not read their Bible?  Now that’s crazy.  The most significant way God chooses to communicate with us, and our young people choose to ignore it.  That is as crazy as trying to talk to grandma in Florida by screaming as loud as you can in Ohio!  It’s mad crazy!

So how can we get them from crazy to reading?  Here are 4 ways that come to mind:

  1. Gideons Know What’s Up – I’m curious if this percentage would go down if we got Bibles in their hands.  Gideon International is able to put a Bible in every hotel in the country, but there are teens in your student ministry that don’t have one.  A travesty!  Go here or here, type in Bible and have fun.  BUY them a Bible.  There is no better use for your youth budget than to use it on purchasing a Bible for someone who does not own one.  Make it a nice one too, I just bought 2 purple and 2 pink Bibles today…those boys are gonna love them!
  2. Um, It’s Pretty Important – When was the last time you taught on the importance of the Bible.  How bout sharing a story of the pilgrims on the Mayflower, and how one of the few things they brought over to the New World was a Bible!  They risked sickness, their lives, their family…but they wouldn’t risk losing their Bible.  It’s time our students understand the importance of the Bible…the history of those that risked their lives to get it in print.  It is taken WAY for granted now.
  3. Rewards are Good – Everybody loves gifts, presents…rewards, right?  Well, your students need to know what rewards come from reading the Bible.  Rewards like a closer relationship with the Creator God, guidance in their daily decisions, a clear picture of the Will of God for their life, a description of the gospel story…and much more!
  4. Better Than a Cell Phone – This is how God communicated to you!  I want to scream this so people in Florida can hear me!  Seriously, this is the primary God has chosen to reveal Himself to us, and there are so many that choose to ignore it.  No more!

The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me, I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E…..BIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!  What about you, how do you encourage your teens to get in the Word? 

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