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Don’t Be Too Busy to Get to Tomorrow

sorry_were_too_busy_graphic1Paul David Tripp says the biggest challenge facing the church today – busyness.  We are soooo busy!  You would think it wouldn’t be so busy w/ technology that allows us to:  Mow our lawns & sweep our living room rugs with remote controls, research a topic on our phone in 2 seconds what it used to take a trip to the Encyclopedia section at the library to figure out, and microwavable everything” – bacon, eggs, mac n cheese, pizza…even salmon says the internet.

44% of Americans call themselves “workaholics”.  We spend 4.7 hours a day on our cell phones.   The average young American will spend 10,000 hours playing video games before the age of 21.  Maybe it’s not we’re too busy…but we’re too busy with the wrong things.  Read Matthew 6:19-21 as a refresher of what we should be doing. are-we-too-busy-448x203

We worry so much about the temporary – How our lawns need more rain, the weird noise coming from our car, or the upcoming election.  Sure, those are legitimate concerns–but how much of our focus & efforts are on the eternal.  Is our concern about the waitress at lunch today – “Why is she not bringing the rolls?” or is it “I wonder if she knows the Lord?”.  Is it how fast I can leave church on Sunday OR who can I ask how they are doing/who can I pray with that needs encouragement?

“It’s Only Temporary” – It’s a phrase we use when we: talk about a job we don’t like or a cast that we have to wear…it doesn’t phrase us when we believe it is only an issue for a short period of time.  Here’s one for ya – LIFE is a short period of time – why don’t’ we feel this way about our difficulties, our trials here on earth and say “It’s only temporary”.  Why do we worry so much about the temporary tomorrow when we can affect someone’s eternity TODAY!

Where your heart is – will be what determines what you do next.  If your heart is on earthly things – money, success, sex, pleasure…you will pay a great price.  But if you choose to give your heart to God…that which you LOSE will be much greater than EVERYTHING you could ever gain with these things…I promise you that!

Go back to Matthew 6:33-34.  2nd reason we are too busy – we worry so much about tomorrow.  How does this happen?  Why do we worry so much about tomorrow?  Why do we put so much time, energy, and so much worry in things that in the end – are only temporary?

Randy Alcorn defines worry as – “momentary atheism crying out for correction by trust in a good and sovereign God.”  When we worry about tomorrow – the symptoms and prescriptions are found in these two verses.  The symptoms of worry:  Memory Loss, Anxiousness, and Disorientation.  (Sounds like those commercials on TV:  This pill may cause blindness, dizziness, and you may see penguins in the road while driving)

Memory Loss – Worry is a result of forgetting what God has done before.  We worry God won’t provide, or help us, or that He doesn’t know what He is doing.  But when has He failed you in the past, when has He forgot to have a plan, when has He lost control.  Prescription:  Seek God first in your busyness.  Let him be the first place you go, not the last resort, the last priority, or the “if I have time”.

Anxiousness – Our mind gets filled with the “what if’s”.  Sure, it’s good to be prepared, but when we are consumed and anxious about what might happen tomorrow…is when worry can paralyze us.  Prescription:  Put God in the driver’s seat of your life.  Only God can control the future, let it go.  Give God your life and let Him lead.

Disoriented – As we discussed before, we get in trouble when we don’t look up.  We start trying to control things ourselves and try to be in control – we can easily get lost. Prescription:  The saying goes “the average person is crucifying himself b/t two thieves:  the regrets of yesterday and the worries of tomorrow”.  Ask God to do something with you TODAY.  Tomorrow will worry about itself.

Stop worrying about what will happen tomorrow and DO SOMETHING today.  This means you will have to get rid of your selfishness.  This means you will have to love others that may seem unlovable.  This means you will give more of your time and have less of “me time”.  This means you will have to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Ask yourself these questions this week:

  1. What can I do for my neighbor?
  2. What can I stop doing today? Maybe you need to delete an app or game on my phone.  Maybe I need to stop watching a TV show.  Maybe I need to use this time to Facebook a friend, bake cookies for my neighbor, or prep to teach a children’s ministry class.
  3. What is missing in your relationship with God? Am I too busy to spend time in God’s Word and prayer?  Do I have room in my schedule to serve God, love others, & volunteer in a ministry?

Never Be Too Busy to Get to Tomorrow…there is so much that needs to be done TODAY…

Back in the ‘70s, Princeton social psychologists asked seminary students to participate in their study on “religious education.”  1st part of the experiment – answer a whole bunch of demographic questions2nd part of experiment – walk across campus to another building to give a sermon on “The Good Samaritan”½ of the participants were told they were behind schedule and needed to get to the classroom as quickly as possible to give their sermon – their audience was waiting.  Other ½ of participants weren’t told they were behind.  Here’s where it gets interesting – On their way to the other side of campus – each student would walk by a man struggling in the alleyway.  He was moaning and coughing as the students walked by.  Ironically – the seminary students who were about to preach on the Good Samaritan, were passing a real test of their sermon material.  Results – 63% of participants who were not in a hurry – stopped to help the man;  BUT, only 10 percent of the participants who were in a hurry stopped to help the man—even though they were walking with their notes saying how important it is to help people in need!

I’m ashamed to say, I can relate to these seminary guys…

On the way to the church, several days in a row I drove by a couple who were in a car in front of the Subway.  As I drove by once more, the man waved at me, probably to get me to stop staring at them.  My heart was gripped and I turned around.  Turns out he recently lost his job, and he and his wife were homeless.  I was able to get them something to eat, and help them make some calls to help them find a home.  I could not help but thank the Lord for teaching me this humbling lesson.

How will you let God use you today?

toobusy

  1. Step one –  is to not be in such a hurry….stop letting “Busy” be your answer to when someone asks you “How are you doing?”
  2. Step two – if you feel God leading you to do something, and you can do it, and then do it.
  3. Step three –  stop worrying about the temporary.
  4. Step four – praise the Lord for having the opportunity to share His love.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO LISTEN TO THE SERMON…YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.

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What Technology is Doing to Children & Teenagers’ Bodies – A Must Read

Ever heard of “i-Posture” or “Facebook Depression”…Did you know too much time gaming or on internet during childhood is linked to cardiovascular disease?  Technology may be more than just a distraction, it could affect a child’s health.

This fascinating article called “Here’s What A Constantly Plugged-In Life Is Doing To Kids’ Bodies” posted in the Huffington Post (see below) describes the effects technology is having on children now, and later in life.


Infographic by Alissa Scheller for The Huffington Post.

If it seems like your kids are constantly plugged in, tapping away on their iPhones, obsessively gaming and SnapChatting way more than they’re actually … chat-chatting — well, that’s because they are. It’s estimated that children ages 8 to 18 spend an average of seven hours a day behind screens; teens send an average of 3,417 text messages each month; and 97 percent of adolescents have at least one electronic device in their bedrooms.

What’s just as scary as how much time kids spend on screens is the effect it can have on their health. Their backs and wrists are sore, their sleep is disrupted and their attention spans are diminished.

While it would be impossible to rid your kids’ lives of technology completely — and you wouldn’t want to, because of its many joys and benefits — parents can take a few measures to help prevent its negative mental and physical side effects.

Here are some ways screens may be harming your kids’ bodies and what you can do about it:

They’re Hunched Over, And Their Necks And Upper Backs Are Sore

The human body’s natural position is an erect posture with a little bit of lordosis (inward curve) in the neck and a bit of kyphosis (round curve) in the upper back. A person sitting at in front of a computer is likely to have rounded shoulders and forward head posture, which puts a strain on the muscles and joints, causing soreness and fatigue.

What To Do: Dr. Sherilyn Driscoll, a doctor of pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center, recommends that parents be conscious of ergonomics when kids are at their computers: It should be on a desk with the keyboard at hand level, there should be a supportive backrest, and kids should try to maintain an upright position.

They’re Less Active

Research has linked childhood obesity to too much screen time. In a recent study, 61 percent of obese boys and 63 percent of obese girls reported watching television for two or more hours each day. Studies have also suggested that TV viewing habits in childhood can predict obesity risk in adulthood.

What To Do: According to government guidelines, kids and teens should get at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day at least three times a week to increase strength and develop strong muscles.

Their Fingers And Wrists Are Suffering

Wrist and finger pain is common in kids who play video games. A study (done by a kid!) found that children were 50 percent more likely to experience pain for every hour they spent gaming. Dr. Eric Ruderman, an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said video game playing may be harmful for children’s developing muscles and tendons.

Too much texting can also lead to soreness and cramping in the fingers, known as “text claw.” According to a 2012 Nielsen report, the average teen sends 3,417 texts a month, which is about seven an hour. Ouch.

What To Do: Ruderman says parents need to limit game time: Two hours per day is too much for a 7- or 8-year-old. Additionally, HuffPost Healthy Living has put together a comprehensive guide to alleviate pain from smartphone use that you can share with your teen.

Their Sight Could Be Affected

Teens’ constant use of electronics at home and at school is taking a toll on their eyes, according to David Epley, a pediatric ophthalmologist in Kirkland, Wash., and a spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Whenever someone spends time in front of a screen their “blink rate” goes down, which can lead to dry, itchy eyes and eye strain. While teens’ eyes can get used to screens, Epley said, damage can develop over time and even cause myopia, or nearsightedness.

What To Do: The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that a computer user shift focus away from a screen every 20 minutes and take 20 seconds to look at something that is at least 20 feet away. “This gets you blinking again,” Epley said. “And restores moisture to the surface of the eye.”

Their Sleep Is Disrupted

According to a 2010 Pew Study, 4 out of 5 teenagers sleep with their cell phones on and near their beds. And they’re not just using phones as alarms; another study found that teens send an average of 34 texts a night after getting into bed.

Teens’ sleep can be disrupted by screens because the bright lights that glow from the devices “wakes up the brain,” Michael Decker, a sleep specialist and associate professor at Case Western School of Nursing, told The Huffington Post. The light can confuse the brain since our circadian pacemaker does not differentiate between the sun and a computer screen. “Teens are getting this bright light and it’s making them go to bed later and want to sleep later,” said Decker, “but they can’t deal with the sleep loss.” Not getting enough sleep has a psychological effect on teens, and can lead to irritability and poor social skills. Memory is also negatively affected, which in turn can diminish academic performance.

What To Do: The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teenagers get 9.25 hours of sleep each night (although for some kids, 8.5 hours is enough). Dr. Suzanne Phillips suggests discussing a nighttime plan with your kids -– either phones off after 11 p.m., or requiring them to charge it in another room overnight.

They’re Losing A Little Bit Of Hearing

One in 5 teens has experienced hearing loss — a number that’s increased in recent years. Though it hasn’t been proven, experts suggest loud music coming from digital music players could be to blame. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Personal music players, such as MP3 players, can cause lasting hearing loss if you turn the volume up high enough to mask the sound of other loud noises, such as those from a lawn mower.”

What To Do: The Associated Press points out that parents can set the maximum volume on their kids’ iPods and lock it with a code.

Their Brains Are … Different

Breathe out. There is no hard evidence to suggest that technology is rotting your kids’ brains. Sure, screens can be harmful: Today’s teens are more distracted; social media can contribute to psychological problems; and most obviously, they can’t read maps.

But there are also benefits to growing up with technology. Dr. Larry Rosen, author of Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and The Way They Learn, says that social media can help teens find their identity in the world. A recent study found that interactive tools did help kids learn. Toddlers who interacted with the screen picked up concepts and words faster.

While experts on both sides of the issue have strong opinions, most agree that moderation is key. And as parents, one must look at one’s own screen habits and remember that the kids are watching. “Kids do not need our undivided attention all day long, but they do in those real-life moments of talking and reading and doing the hard work of parenting — dealing with meltdowns, teaching them how to pick up their clothes,” Catherine Steiner-Adair, author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, told The Huffington Post.

So, moms and dads, it’s time to walk away from the computer, put the phone down and enjoy your kids face to face.
(After you share this article with your friends.)

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Book Reviews: Explicit Gospel & Mentoring The Next Generation

the-explicit-gospel-BOOKBook Review:  Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

The Good:  Maybe I should label this category, “The Great” or “The Awesome”, because that would describe this book much better.  It totally blew me out of the water for most of the reading experience.  Any book that makes you love the Gospel more is a must read, but this goes beyond that.  It helps you love, appreciate, understand, and want to share the Gospel more.  It presents a Gospel that is not watered-down, one that needs to preached from every pulpit and spoken by every Christian.  This book takes you on a Gospel journey that you never want to leave.

The Bad:  There were some subtle theological differences that I personally had in the Consummation and End Times discussion.  Not anything that would taint or misrepresent the Gospel.  But found myself raising a quarter to a half eyebrow once or twice.

The Grade:  A. you heard me right, I said an A.  This book deserves it and will be on my favorites shelf for all to see.  I read this book with one of my college students, and we both couldn’t wait to discuss it each week.  It drives a passion for the Gospel within you like no other.  It was written with high academia, yet has well placed humor to keep it light and fresh.  Absolutely loved this book.

mentoringnextgenBook Review:  Mentoring the Next Generation by Mel Walker

The Good:  You know what I love about this book; well it comes down to two things.  One, whatever principle or idea that is presented is well backed with Scripture.  Not every book on mentoring or discipleship can hold that claim, and I really appreciate the research done to make sure the thoughts presented are Biblical.  Second, it is extremely practical.  This is like a mentoring kit in a short book form.  Pick it up, read it, and begin mentoring.  The ideas are practical and logical.  Meaning, they are easy steps to follow.  On a side note, the idea presented in chapter 6, basing mentoring on time availability is pure genius.  There go all the “I don’t have time” excuses right out the window!

The Bad:  Chapter 3 presents some contradictions when presenting the weaknesses and strengths of choosing mentoring partners.  Also, this is at no fault of the author, but there are some areas that can use some updating.  For example, instead of “instant messenger” it would read “Facebook”.

The Grade:  A-.    Put this in the hands of every church leader in America.  I am such a proponent of mentoring/discipleship, and this book allows you to put mentoring in motion.  It gives you practical ways to make discipleship happen, and Scriptural basis for doing so.  What a combination!

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Can Instagram affect #selfimage #selfworth and #identity?

Here is a great article about what Instagram (and Facebook for that matter) provide a quantifiable scale of popularity and self-worth.  Is it time to panic?  No.  But these are some good points and reason for us to continue to emphasize identity in Christ and see ourselves like God sees us.  (Click the camera, get it?)instagram-followers

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10 Ways You Can Encourage A Young Person

You want ways you can give future faith to our faith future.  Here’s a start:

1) Attend one of their special events.

2) Every Sunday, Ask them how they are doing

3) Write an encouraging letter/Facebook post

4) Pray with them before a church service.

5) Be a mentor in their life—spiritually & practically.

6) Teach them how to serve in ministry, give them opportunities to serve, & serve alongside them.

7) Find out birthdays of teens/kids & send them birthday cards.  Kids love getting mail.

8) Invite them to help a project—i.e. cleaning a Sunday school room, building a VBS set)

9) Be another godly influence in their life, another godly example, another godly legacy to follow.

10) Pray for them.

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Generation Update – Hunger Games, College Graduate Job Problem, and the Digital Generation

  1. According to Pew Research Center – 40% of millennials sport a tattoo.
  2. 75% college student graduate without a job lined up.
  3. Average age for marriage is 26 for women, 28 for guys.
  4. Nearly 20 million of the 225 million Twitter users follow 60 or more Twitter accounts and nearly 2 million follow more than 500 accounts.
  5. There are more than 800 million people now signed up for the social network Facebook; they spend 700 billion minutes using Facebook each month, and they install more than 20 million apps every day. Facebook users had uploaded more than 100 billion photos by mid-2011.
  6. 75 percent of Facebook users unhappy with body – 51 percent of respondents reported Facebook makes them more conscious about their body and weight.
  7. 76% of people ages 14-24 say that digital abuse is a serious problem.
  8. The Hunger Games opened to an astounding $155 million at the domestic box office, the third-best debut of all time and the best for any film opening outside of summer.
  9. A survey conducted last year in a Midwest school district found that 53 percent of high school students admitted to cheating on tests, 62 percent turned in work done by others and 72 percent admitted working with classmates on homework when collaboration was not permitted.
  10. 78 percent of U.S. teens had drank alcohol, and 47 percent of the group said they’d consumed 12 or more drinks in the past year. When it came to drug use, 81 percent of teens said they had the opportunity to use illicit substances, with 42.5 percent actually tried them.

Take-away – We are working with, serving, and loving on a generation that is extremely “plugged-in”.  The conversations will probably be more digital and shorter.  This generation seems to have a real disconnect between true and real faith, since they throw it away so easily.  Adolescence is lasting longer and longer, so the “rebellion phase” seems to be  lasting longer too.

What’s my point?  These updates are to give you a better picture of where this generation is.  Take the time to help students to engage culture, to use technology without letting technology use them, use their social media to share the gospel, and to build a real faith that lasts.  Easier said than done?  Absolutely.  But that doesn’t mean you don’t try.

What is your take-away from this information?

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Parenting the internet & Angry dad shoots his teens’ laptop…How’s that for a title?

20 million views and counting!  That’s how many people watched a dad shoot his daughter’s laptop after she complained about them on Facebook.  Most parents of teenagers would probably admit to wanting to shoot or throw their teens laptop out the window, but is it the right way to handle things?  I’m gonna go with…probably not.  But with studies showing internet addictions being  similar to drug or alcohol addictions, we can see how parents or youth workers may get frustrated…or worried over this.

Just remember some key principles with parenting the internet:

  1. TALK to your child about the internet dangers –  including stranger danger, pornography,
  2. Set limits – The average teens uses 13 hours of technology a day, you hear me (mostly because they text while watching tv, study on the internet, and listen to Bieber, Gaga, or DC Talk…oh wait, that last one was me when I was a teenager).  It’s time to SET SOME LIMITS!
  3. Educate your child about internet behavior – not a place to complain/gossip/bully.
  4. Keep the computer in a public area of the house...you let your teen have their computer in their bedroom, you are asking for trouble.
  5. Install software – protect, monitor…you are the parent, you most likely own the computer, and yes you DO have the right to see what your kids are doing on the computer.
  6. Know all your kids passwords, be a friend on facebook – don’t let them share their password with others and tell them to be careful who can view their info on Facebook

You may know most of these, but it always a good reminder.  Save yourself from having to shoot your teen’s laptop, and save yourself from seeing your teen suffer because of their internet activity.

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Did You Know? on Teen Culture

Remember on Sportscenter, when they did the “Did you know” segment.  Classic.  Not sure if they do that anymore, because I only have basic cable (I miss you ESPN).  But I thought I would do a teen culture DID YOU KNOW.

  1. Did you know teens are making vodka gummy bear treats?  Apparently, Skittles is also an option.
  2. Did you know that car crashes are now the #1 cause of death for teenagers?
  3. Did you know the average age of a gamer is 37?  (Okay, maybe that’s not teen culture, but it is kinda funny)
  4. Did you know 10% of babies 0-1 have used an iPad/iPod (check out this)?  What does that mean for teens in 10-15 years?
  5. Did you know the minimum age requirement by law for a Facebook user is 13?
  6. Did you know 5% of students have conversations about faith with their dad regularly

How did you do?  How many of these questions DID YOU KNOW?

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10 Things I learned today about the Millennial Generation

  1. Most would be more upset at losing cell phone than wallet, claiming cell phone is more valuable.
  2. Those that attend church more than 4 times a month are 4 times less likely to smoke, 2 times less likely to drink, and 3 times less likely to use drugs.
  3. Those that have family dinners with their family are 4 times less likely to smoke, 2 times less likely to drink, and 2.5 times less likely to use drugs.
  4. 87 percent favored watching TV and movies online instead of subscribing to a cable service
  5. 76 percent spent more than an hour a day on Facebook
  6. Several studies coming out that say those that use Facebook are more likely to use drugs/drink.  (This one is tough to believe since everyone uses facebook)
  7. Teenagers of this generation will text on average 5 times more than adults.
  8. One poll says 80% of teens sleep with their cell phones.
  9. Who Bill Shock is…(Think about your cell phone use)
  10. Girls between 14-17 are the most frequent texters, averaging 100 texts a day.
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