Dream Big – Dream Gigantic

Dream Big - Dream Gigantic

Dream Big

 

Change. Some people embrace it. Others run from it.

There’s not a person alive who wouldn’t have a better life if they were willing to change something.

More productivity. More peace. More joy. More friendships. More hope. More stability. More wisdom. More confidence. More security.

Less fear. Less trouble. Less loneliness. Less trauma. Less despair. Less confusion. Less doubt. Less arrogance. Less aggression.

How do we get started? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life and legacy we celebrate in America today, believed a dream was essential. He was right.

In 1968, in The Trumpet of Conscience, he wrote: “If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all.  And so today I still have a dream.”

What do you need to be dreaming? Not what could you, can you, might you, or do you want to dream.  No, what do you NEED to be dreaming?

I agree with Martin Luther King, Jr. Dreaming results in:

vitality so life keeps moving,

courage to be,

and the quality that allows you to go on no matter what else is happening.

Dream Gigantic

Dream. Dream big. Dream large. Dream gigantic.

In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963, he proclaimed, “I have a dream” 8 times. He was serious. Some of us need to get serious.

He also twice declared, “We refuse to believe” and five times stated, “We cannot be satisfied. Four times he stated “We must” and three times he emphasized, “Now is the time.”

Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we need to know what we believe and what we need. We need to know what misbeliefs and complacency will get in our way and we need to “fight” against them.

Do you want to give a great gift to children you know? Help them figure out how to dream well. Support them.

Dream. Fight. Win.

Dream. Fight. Win.

Dream. Fight. Win.

Dream. Fight. Win.

Dream. Fight. Win.

Dream. Fight. Win.

Dream. Fight. Win.

Dream. Fight. Win.

Do Your Kids Feel Stuck?

Do Your Kids Feel Stuck?

Do Your Kids Feel Stuck?

 

Kids giving up. Kids not asking for help. They’re asking for help when they should know what to do on their own. Sound familiar? These are common frustrations.

As I write about in Screens and Teens, helplessness can be an effect of digital devices. Kids of all ages believe things should be easy, learning shouldn’t take any effort, and winning should be guaranteed. Of course, none of this is true!

Many parents and teachers tell me that kids are hurrying through their work, not concerned with excellence. They skip things they can’t easily do on their own. This is true of academic pursuits, musical practices, and handling chores around the house.

When children aren’t sure what to do, many aren’t asking for help. Perhaps they can’t admit they need it because “everything should be easy.” They might not even know what kind of help they need. When that’s the case, asking for help is nearly impossible.

Some children get easily scared of something that looks new and hard and ask for help before making honest attempts on their own.

I feel for these children and for you because this isn’t healthy, but it is stressful. The next time you see kids behaving in one of these ways, maybe you can use the example of an escalator to open up communication.

Remind your kids of escalators they’ve seen in movie theaters, shopping malls, and museums. Ask them to picture two people on an escalator when it unexpectantly stops. They realize it’s broken and they feel stuck. They wait quite a while, just looking around. Then they begin to shout,

“Somebody help us!!”

“Help us! The escalator isn’t moving!”

“We’re not moving! Somebody get help!”

Hopefully your kids will see how silly that is. Perhaps you’ll all have a good laugh. Then talk about what they could have done instead. “Walk up the stairs created by the escalator, of course.”

Exactly. Take a step. Get moving. Do for yourself what you can do.

Go To God

Go To God

Go To God

 

I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe God is in control of everything big and small. Though I will admit that I don’t always pray about the things I consider small. I will more often in 2018.

Last Friday I left my brother’s home in the Atlanta, Georgia, area to drive about 12½ hours home to Fort Worth. It was a beautiful morning as I headed south on 85 and then 75 to merge onto 20. This highway would take me west, all the way home.

The sun was behind me and I responded with gratitude in my heart. I remembered that when I drove to Atlanta a month earlier, the sun was in my eyes for the first two hours or so. Do you know what I mean? There was that long, awkward period when the sun was too low for the car’s sun visor to block it. Even with great sunglasses, it’s frustrating and dangerous because you can’t see well?

Remembering the drive that began my Christmas break at Dave’s, I realized I would be approaching Dallas at an awkward sunset time. It would be the same problem, but at the end of the day. Knowing I would be tired after a long day and that the sun can make seeing everything so much harder, I prayed a little prayer. I said something like Father, cloud cover at the end of the day would be a blessing. If you’d choose that as a good gift for me today, I’ll be grateful.

I didn’t think much more about it and just kept driving. At about noon, I talked with Nancy. When she asked about the drive, I mentioned my prayer. I commented that cloud cover certainly wasn’t the most important thing God could do for me, but that it would be a blessing. I quoted Matthew 7:11 – “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Nancy understood.

There’s No Such Thing as a Little Thing

At about 3:00, I stopped to get gas and something to eat. When I walked into the restaurant, the sun was out bright and beautiful. When I walked out 15 minutes later, the entire sky was covered in white fluffy clouds. The sun was completely hidden behind them.

It wasn’t until I was leaving the parking lot that I realized I did not need my sunglasses. I saw the clouds. I was stunned. The clouds! They were everywhere! I know the biggest smile came across my face and I smiled the rest of the way home. I thanked and praised God constantly.

God delighted to give me a good gift. This is His nature. I want to pay more attention to His blessings and I want to know His goodness. I want to expect it and I don’t want to take it for granted. Therefore I will pray more often for the things that seem small to me. This will help me see God in what happens so I further dismiss the idea of coincidences. These prayers will grow my faith. God’s answers will allow me to give Him the glory He is due.

Perhaps you’d like to join me this year. Let’s trust God for the big and the small and let Him know we trust Him by our prayers.

The Time I Was “That Girl” and How It Freed Me Forever

The Time I Was “That Girl” and How It Freed Me Forever

The Time I Was “That Girl” and How It Freed Me Forever

 

As great as getting together with family can be, these gatherings can also be stressful. Based on stories I hear from especially women I minister to, there are many reasons. Often it’s because we think we need to change for others. We sometimes strive to be who we think others wish we were. We feel unacceptable and unaccepted.

To try to win approval, we can find ourselves talking about our successes more than we wish we were. We may hear ourselves make excuses for deficiencies we think are obvious and a blight on our identity. Then, or later when our head is on the pillow at the end of a long day, we may be angry with ourselves for playing this game.

My friend, Jerusha Clark, wrote an important book because she cares deeply for women. She reminds us that God does not define Himself with reference to any quality or person. “He is, and that is enough.” In contrast, we tend to describe ourselves in terms of how we relate to people (friend, coworker, wife) or in terms of our accomplishments (title, accolades). Perhaps you can relate to her conclusion: “When our identity is wrapped up in these external things, we inevitably (and exhaustingly!) strive to prove ourselves worthy of love, attention, or affirmation.”

Jerusha shares insights here for us today. Her book, Every Piece of Me: Shattering Toxic Beliefs and Discovering the Real You, is full of many more. Especially if you’ve tried to hide because you’re not sure the real you is enough, I highly recommend it. If you’re raising preteen and teen daughters, consider reading it with them. Jerusha’s illustrations and insights will generate valuable discussions.

Will I Be Good Enough?

Few things make me feel “less than” quicker than walking into a wedding or event that’s clearly “out of my league.” I mean, I’m not quite riff-raff, but I’m no society queen either, so when the invitation to my girlfriend Tammy’s Malibu wedding arrived, oozing swank with every hand-embossed letter, I was faced—once again—with the haunting question: Will I be good enough?

Of course, I didn’t really ask this out loud. Like a lot of women, I just carried around the nagging sense that I wasn’t quite cutting it (and never would) as a mom, as a wife, in my work…even in my faith. I wanted to teach my own daughters how to settle the “good enough?” question. But, perhaps like many of you, I found that wasn’t so easy. Kids seem to fight the “less than feelings” earlier and earlier. I wanted my kids to be different; I wanted to be different.

Here’s how a posh wedding and a bit of red napkin changed me forever:

Tammy’s wedding started in forty-five minutes. I was speeding down Pacific Coast Highway on my way to her ritzy affair, pink sponge curlers bouncing in my hair (yes, I still use these hairstyling relics). It was 90-plus degrees this particular July afternoon, and I had opted not to unroll my hair or put my dress on until I neared the Malibu Cliffs.

I scanned the road for a nice-ish gas station where I could change. Spotting one, I pulled in, gathered my things, and stuck my foot out the door. I instantly realized (with horror) that I had forgotten my wedding shoes. I was wearing—go figure—the tackiest flip flops I owned, the kind you sport around the house long after the flap peels away and the straps thin ominously.

Eek! There was no chance these were going to fly at a Malibu wedding. I hurriedly grabbed my cell phone and tracked down a Payless not too far away.

Alright; it would have to do. Hopefully I could find something halfway decent. I ran into Shell’s bathroom, yanked the curlers out, calmed my ringlets into a respectable wave and put on my dress.

Miles out of my way, I dashed inside the shoe store, found some strappy white dress sandals, and paid (somewhat grudgingly, but also gratefully).

I Arrived

The wedding was every bit as classy as I had imagined. Still, no amount of glitz can alter the temperature, and the eager July sun beats down on the glamorous and unglamorous alike. I sat, patiently awaiting the bridal march, well aware that I do not “glisten” or “perspire” like some females. I flat-out sweat. Really I should all-caps that. Armed with a cocktail napkin, I dabbed furiously at the beads forming on my face.

After the vows and the kiss and the triumphant recessional, I chatted with some family members and friends of the couple. I didn’t know many people, so I basically talked to people around the hors d’oeuvre and beverage tables.

Before dinner began, I ducked into the ladies’ room to wash my hands. When I looked into the mirror, however, I gasped with alarm. Perhaps you recall that I had been using a cocktail napkin to hold back the tide of my sweat. Well, said napkin was red. Said napkin was also strewn around my face in splotches of damp, ruddy cotton. Apparently no one I’d been conversing with felt they knew me well enough to tell me I had patches of red napkin stuck to my face. Seriously, people?!

The ordeal was embarrassing, but not tragic. I peeled the napkin off and decided laughing would be better than adding post-crying mascara stains to my humiliation. That said, I emerged from the bathroom determined to avoid anyone I had talked to previously.

It may sound odd, but I’ve thought about that napkin a lot over the years. The whole experience helped me realize how often and how desperately I’ve tried to avoid being “that girl,” (you know, the one with sweaty napkin on her face). I don’t mean that literally, of course. What I really mean is that I don’t want to be exposed; I don’t want to feel foolish or incompetent. I want to be the perfectly-put-together guest at the Malibu wedding, not the one in half-a-size-too-small Payless shoes with red napkin splotching her features.

We’ve All Been “That Girl”

At some time and in some way or another, though, every one of us has been “that girl.” We try our best to hide our weaknesses or mistakes (my propensity to sweat, for instance), but covering up actually leaves us with figurative patches on our face and heart. The more we hide—the more our kids learn to hide—the louder the question becomes: am I good enough?

I spent years (Ugh! Let’s change that to decades) working to shut off the “not good enough” reel in my mind. Like many of you, I tried to make my kids the most well-rounded beings on the planet, tried to carefully curate the “happy Christian woman” image, tried to do something meaningful for the Kingdom. The one thing it took me far too long to do is accept the truth that it’s okay to be the girl with napkin on her face. It took me a long time to look at myself and believe, “Yep.  Good enough, just as I am.”

In John 14:6, Jesus proclaimed himself “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” We are created in His image; if He is the Truth, we are to be truthful and live out truth as well. This involves risk and vulnerability (and, in my case, sometimes allowing people to see me a sweaty mess).

Embracing truth is the pathway to peace and to secure identity. If we want to silence the “good enough” questions that plague us or plague our kids, if we want to experience the abundant life Christ died to give us, we have to ditch the red napkins of life, the things we’ve tried using to cover up.

I invite you to join me in discovering and learning to love what’s real, including the real you. Remember, you can’t teach your kids something you haven’t learned yourself. Turns out, “finding yourself” concerns more than just you; when your identity is secure, you are free to love and serve the people around you with no “please make me feel better about myself” strings attached.

Jesus proclaimed, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Doesn’t that sound good? Freedom!  Freedom from the tyranny of “less than” fears, freedom from shame, freedom from hiding (or filtering or posturing), freedom to be not just to seem. Start leaning into truth and savoring freedom today.

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You can learn more about living in authentic freedom, being rather than seeming, and embracing life to the limit in Jerusha’s book, Every Piece of Me: Shattering Toxic Beliefs and Discovering the Real You (Baker, 2017).

 

  Jerusha Clark co-authored four books with her husband, Jeramy, including three bestsellers, prior to launching her own writing and speaking ministry, focused on helping others glorify and enjoy God, one thought at a time.  On quiet days, you can find Jerusha body-boarding, reading, or singing around a bonfire at the beach, her absolute favorite place. Jeramy and Jerusha have two amazing teenage daughters and love ministering together at churches, retreats, schools, and conferences. You can learn more at www.jandjclark.com.

What a Day of ThanksLIVING Looks Like

What a Day of ThanksLIVING Looks Like

 

What a Day of ThanksLIVING Looks Like

 

My friend, Sue Bohlin, posted a blog last week that I knew I needed to share with you so here it is. You will react, I’m just not sure how. You may be humbled. I’ll be shocked if you’re not. Inspired? Yes. Convicted? Possibly. I definitely was.

Perhaps you read in one of my earlier blogs that “thankfulness” comes from an old Anglo Saxon word, “thinkfulness.” From the day I learned that, I’ve approached gratitude differently.

Sue writes about “thanksliving.” Thinking about living with thanks is always challenging. It was extra challenging to read Sue’s words because she is a survivor of childhood polio and rides a scooter to get around. Yet, she’s thankful. She’s so thankful she leads a life of “thanksliving.” I want to be more like Sue.

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Guest post by Sue Bohlin

“Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father . . .” (Ephesians 5:20). That’s a pretty tall order: all the time? for all things? Seriously?

When I was first challenged to obey this scripture, some 44 years ago, I thought that surely it wasn’t translated properly. Or maybe there was a footnote. Or an asterisk. Surely some kind of loophole, right?

Nope. It means just what it says. We can continually give thanks for all things because if God is truly in control, then everything He allows us to experience comes with His permission-and thus He has a plan. For everything He allows. Even if we can’t see it.

It became a way of life for me, and has been a habit for over four decades. With the celebration of Thanksgiving looming, I paid attention to what that long-standing habit sounds like in the course of a day.

[Upon waking] “Oh, it’s morning. Thank You, Lord, that my radio came on at the right time. That means we had uninterrupted electricity all night.” Alternatively, “Oh, it’s morning. Thank You so much for the blessing of being able to sleep till I woke up, with no alarm! What a blessing!”

[Upon turning over in bed] “Lord, thank You so, so much that I can shift position without pain now! Thank you again for the stem cell treatment that made it possible!”

[Upon getting out of bed into my mobility scooter] “Lord, {ouch ouch ouch} I thank You that the pain of moving from the bed to my scooter will dissipate quickly. And thank You again that I have a scooter for getting around.”

[Standing up to transfer from the scooter to the commode] “Owwwwww! But Lord, I thank You for the grab bars to lean on, and thank You for the new tall handicap toilet. It is so much easier to use this than the regular ones everywhere else.”

[Riding to the kitchen] “Lord, thank You for speed and painlessness! I love being the fastest one in the house!”

[Making coffee] “Lord! Bless You for creating coffee! Thank You for caffeine! Thank You for my coffee maker, and half and half, and sweetener. Thank You for mugs. Thank You for Central Market and the wonderful flavored coffees I can get there. Thank You for blessing [our son] Kevin in the coffee world—Lord, order his steps today in Nepal while he’s investigating becoming coffee partners with farmers there, and use him to help fight sex trafficking through coffee instead.”

Sue’s Thanksliving Continues

[Moving to the couch] “Oh Lord, owwwww—thank You that the pain will subside quickly, and thank You for our couch and the table to hold my coffee while I read Your word. Thank You for a Bible in English and the ability to read. Thank You for the Holy Spirit to illumine its meaning to me. Thank You for an online Bible reading program from my church that allows me to join with thousands of people worldwide in reading the same passage and then reading a devotional from one of our members. Thank You for the technology that allows me to affirm the devo writer and share my take on today’s reading.”

[Preparing to take a shower] “Thank You again, Lord, for this magnificent roll—in shower You gave us in the recent renovation to make our house handicap-friendly. Thank You for the grab bars and for the bench seat that lets me sit down. Thank You for the hand-held shower. And for hot water. And for clean hot water! And for 24/7 clean hot water! Thank You for the blessing of being able to take it for granted, but Lord, I don’t want to take it for granted.”

Sue Leaves Her Home

[Getting in the car] “Thank You, Lord, for [our son who lives with us] Curt’s availability to help me get in and out of the car and take care of the scooter. Thank You that the barometric pressure is stable today so my pain level is lower. Thank You that no rain is forecast. Oh, there’s our trash bin at the edge of the driveway; thank You for helping Ray remember to get it out before the garbage truck came by. And thank You for garbage pick-up, Lord! Thank You for people willing to take care of that for us!”

[Driving] “Thank You for paved roads, Lord. And for traffic lights. And for the engineers who set all that up. Thank You that everybody drives on the same side of the street. And thank You for everybody honoring that red lights mean stop and green lights mean go. Thank You that I can read all the road signs and street sights because they’re in English. I remember sounding out the Cyrillic letters in Belarus like a kindergartner, and thank You for helping me do that when I was able to go, but today I’m thankful to be surrounded by English!”

[Arriving at church for Bible study] “Thank You, Lord, for the growing number of friends in ‘Sue’s Scooter Army’ who are trained to help me by getting the scooter out of the car and bringing it to me at the driver’s seat. Thank You for their sweet joy in genuinely being glad to help. Thank You for making my love language acts of service, so it makes me feel so loved!”

[Riding into the church] “Lord, thank You for electricity, and comfort because of the heating and air conditioning. Thank You there’s nobody threatening to arrest or persecute us for coming to church. Thank You for the freedom to study Your word publicly . . . and Lord, today I am so very very grateful for the privilege of teaching Your word to precious women who are so teachable and so appreciative. Thank You for the ramp that allows me to ride my scooter onto the stage. Thank You for the face mic that lets me keep my hands free. Thank You for the lights, and the padded chairs, and the audio system, and for Powerpoint that’s working so everybody can see the slides I prepared. Thank You for the other leaders who helped me do my run through the other day so I could make my lecture even better. Thank You, Lord, for your Holy Spirit to empower me to speak Your truth in Your strength, to Your glory.”

And that takes me to 10:30. That’s what thanksLIVING looks like.

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What Do You Think? What Will You Do?

I’m going to pay more attention to the elements of my day and my attitude toward each. Will you join me? Let’s be brave!

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Sue Bohlin is a speaker/writer and webmistress for Probe Ministries, a Christian organization that helps people to think biblically. She loves teaching women and laughing, and if those two can be combined, all the better. She also loves speaking for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and Stonecroft Ministries (Christian Women’s Clubs) on the topic How to Handle the Things You Hate But Can’t Change, based on her lifelong experience as a polio survivor.

She has a freelance calligraphy business in her home studio; hand lettering was her “Proverbs 31 job” while her children were young. Sue also serves on the board of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered organization that helps people struggling with unwanted homosexuality and the family members of those with same-sex attractions.

Sue never met a cruise ship she didn’t like, especially now that God has provided a travel scooter for getting around any ship! She is happily married to Dr. Ray Bohlin, writer and speaker on faith and science with Probe Ministries, and they have two grown sons. You can follow Sue on Twitter @suebohlin.

Sue first guest-posted for me back in May. You can read that blog about helping teens continue strong in their faith here. She blogs regularly at Bible.org/Engage. You may enjoy following her there.

Could Technology Be the Biggest Threat to Our Kids’ Faith?

Could Technology Be the Biggest Threat to Our Kids’ Faith?

Could Technology Be the Biggest Threat to Our Kids’ Faith?

 

A few weeks ago, I spoke in a church about the truths that combat the technology lies I write about in Screens and Teens. Near the beginning of my message, I said something like this:  “I hope you’re concerned about lies being told about the God of the Bible, Christianity, and other religions. They are dangerous and potentially misleading your children. What if I suggested there’s a source of lies that’s more influential than the TV news?“

Everyone was paying attention. When I suggested it’s technology causing especially young people to believe lies, I think many were doubtful. Thirty minutes later they weren’t.

Of course, I’m not the only one who understands how our current culture can negatively influence us and the young adults and teens we care about. Brett Kunkle and John Stonestreet have studied our culture and people well to draw significant conclusions for their excellent book, A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World.

Read Monday’s important blog by John if you haven’t already. Today I’m sharing insights from Brett about technology. We see eye-to-eye. His opening comments about why we must be aware of the power of technology are compelling. His list of how technology can specifically interfere with teens’ faith development is alarming. His 9 points will cause you to think. I doubt you stop there. Brett, John, and I hope you make changes if the list and his other thoughts are relevant to you. (I can’t imagine they won’t be!)

Technology is not the only thing Brett and John include in A Practical Guide to Culture that distracts our children from pursuing Christ and Christlikeness. Their complete analysis is one of the reasons I highly recommend the book. You’ll understand more about the culture; young people’s beliefs, decisions, and attitudes; and why to stay current and concerned.

Enjoy this, benefit from it, and then I encourage you to share it. Let’s work together to inspire many people.

 

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Guest post by Brett Kunkle, Founder and President of MAVEN

Certainly, the host of intellectual challenges our young people face are a threat to their faith, such as the atheistic arguments of a college professor or the anti-Christian views of a secular culture. But how often does the typical evangelical kid face the arguments of an atheist or a skeptic? Here and there, but it’s probably not a daily encounter. Of course, we still must equip our kids with good apologetics and worldview-thinking so they’re able to deal with skeptical challenges to Christianity.

However, how often will our kids face the challenges of technology? Every. Single. Day. Technology is omnipresent in a student’s world. Whether it’s the internet, social media, or their smartphones, students are bombarded daily—no, hourly—with the pressures and provocations of technology. And those challenges can be just as powerful as the challenges of the atheist or skeptic.

Technology can:

  1. Make students passive and apathetic.
  2. Create distracted young minds.
  3. Decrease student’s desire and ability to read.
  4. Decrease student’s attention spans and the ability to think and concentrate.
  5. Decrease our ability to think deeply and carefully.
  6. Create addiction to the screen. (Indeed,some research suggests teens are replacing their drug addiction with smart phone Teens are addicted to social media, as well.)
  7. Rewire a student’s brain.
  8. Inculcate the values of pop culture.
  9. Allow unfettered access to pornography.

Ultimately, the impact of technology has tremendous potential to slowly but surely erode and undermine the faith of the next generation. So what are parents, pastors, Christian educators and youth workers to do? Put in some hard work to understand this technological revolution and be intentional to combat its harmful and corrosive effects on our youth. In addition, find ways to harness technology for good. Here are five suggestions to equip yourself so that you can equip your kids:

  1. Read A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World.  John Stonestreet and I spend part of the book tackling technology, showing how it shapes our kids, as well as offering practical steps parents, youth leaders and pastors can take to help guide their students through this challenge.
  2. Kathy here – Brett kindly recommends my book this way: Read Kathy Koch’s excellent book, Screens and Teens: Connecting With Our Kids in a Wireless World.  Kathy helps parents understand the lies that technology feeds our kids and offers helpful practices parents can put into place in their family life. I’ve used her many of her insights with my own
  3. Subscribe to The Culture Translator weekly emails from AXIS and “gain weekly insight into how pop culture, technology, and media are influencing your students.”
  4. Set aside some time to read this interview on“Smartphones and How They Change Us.” It offers some of the most penetrating insight that I have ever read into the impact of technology on our souls.
  5. Read John Stonestreet’s post“Amusing Ourselves to Death” from Summit Ministries. It’s excellent.

Choose one or two of these suggestions and start immediately. The faith of your kids—and the next generation—may depend on it.

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What do you think? Do you especially see evidence of one or more of Brett’s nine points in your teens or teens you serve? How can you talk with them about them? Which of the five suggestions will you follow through on? When? Now? Great!

I certainly recommend you purchase A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World for any adults who care about and work with young adults and teens.  Also, if you know young adults frustrated by their own generation and concerned, buy this book for them. I’m buying copies for Christmas gifts for my niece who teaches and coaches in a Christian school and my nephew and his wife who work with teens in their church. Who do you know who needs this book?

Check out Brett‘s ministry at www.maventruth.com. Read the “about” page and you’ll see how much he and I have in common. I’m eager to see how God is going to continue to use him now that he’s launched his own ministry. And, if you don’t already follow John’s work at BreakPoint, the nationally syndicated commentary on the culture founded by the late Chuck Colson, www.breakpoint.org and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, www.colsoncenter.org I encourage you to. I depend on both to keep me informed with truth. It’s right to care and to stay informed. More than ever before, we need to discern who to listen to and who to follow. These men are all about Jesus and truth. (By the way, if you’ll be coming to any of the Great Homeschool Conventions in 2018, both Brett and John will be speaking at all five.)

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Brett KunkleBrett Kunkle is the founder and president of MAVEN (www.maventruth.com), a movement to equip the next generation to know truth, pursue goodness and create beauty. He has more than 25 years of experience working with junior high, high school, and college students. Brett has developed a groundbreaking approach to mission trips, creating a one-of-a-kind experience that immerses participants in real-life engagement in apologetics, theology, worldview and evangelism in Berkeley, California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition, Brett is a Teaching Fellow at the Impact 360 Institute. He was an associate editor for the Apologetics Study Bible for Students and co-authored A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World. He received his Master’s degree in philosophy of religion and ethics from Talbot School of Theology. Brett lives with his wife and kids in Southern California.

‘Adult’ is Not a Verb: Helping Young People Spread Their Wings

‘Adult’ is Not a Verb: Helping Young People Spread Their Wings

‘Adult’ is Not a Verb: Helping Young People Spread Their Wings

My parents and grandparents were involved in politics and community service, so my brother and I were raised to care about and contribute to both. Because of that, and my grandfather’s job at our local newspaper before he became the mayor, I used to read the newspaper and watch the news on TV regularly. Now it’s not easy to watch the news. I don’t trust much of it. I know what I’m being told is biased and incomplete. I skim-read my local paper.

I’m not going to bury my head in the sand, though, and pretend things aren’t going on that concern me. I care deeply about God’s reputation, families, parents, teens, and children. Therefore, I am choosing to spend more of my intellectual energy and time studying culture and worldview issues from trusted online and print sources. That’s why reading John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle‘s book, A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World was a no-brainer for me.  I didn’t just read it, though. I devoured it. I encourage you to, too. (Disclaimer: John is a friend who wrote the forward to Eight Great Smarts. I’d read anything he writes.)

As you’ll see from this blog John originally wrote for Breakpoint.org, posted on May 16th, he and Brett write about issues that concern you and me. Their interpretations, insights, and practical ideas and challenges will inform and encourage you. You may be motivated to action. At the very least, I picture many of you, my readers, using John’s post as a discussion starter with teens and young adults. Enjoy this and then I encourage you to share it. Let’s work together to inspire many people.

 

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Guest post by John Stonestreet, President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview

 

There’s a new word touted by Webster that exposes a crisis in our culture of generational proportions.

It’s been called a lot of things: “Peter Pan Syndrome” or my favorite, “failure to launch,” but whatever the term, the phenomenon is undeniable. A record number of young people today are getting stuck in the transition between childhood and adulthood.

Despite attending college in record numbers, millennials seem to struggle to move on to the next phase of life. Just a decade ago, a healthy majority of young adults were able to successfully fledge. Now, those who’ve managed to leave the nest are a minority.

Of course, the recession and a sluggish job market are factors. Millennials do have tougher career prospects than their parents did. But the economy isn’t the only explanation, and the language young people use to talk about adulthood makes that obvious.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse announced that Twitter had turned the noun “adult” into a verb. “#Adulting” is what kids post on social media to congratulate themselves for the rather ordinary feats of paying the bills, finishing the laundry, or just getting to work on time.

“I adulted!” goes the saying, as if fulfilling daily responsibilities is somehow above and beyond the call of duty. “Adulting” has become so universally recognized that the American Dialect Society nominated it for the most creative word of 2015.

“To a growing number of Americans,” writes Sasse, “acting like a grown-up seems like a kind of role-playing, a mode of behavior requiring humorous detachment.”

This isn’t just the complaint of a crotchety old man about young whipper-snappers. What we’re witnessing today, insists the senator, is a trend toward “perpetual adolescence,”—a “coming-of-age crisis,” that shows up as a real and measurable reduction in the difference between 10-year-olds and 30-year-olds.

But if our kids don’t know what it means to be adults, parents, we should be asking ourselves, are we teaching them? Isolation in peer groups of the same age, widespread complacency toward history and ethics, unbridled consumerism, and even those infamous participation trophies have all contributed to this crisis.

We’d do well to remember what C. S. Lewis wrote in “The Abolition of Man” of those who “remove the organ and demand the function,” who “make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise,” who “castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

Senator Sasse offers steps to reverse the trend of perpetual adolescence and to help kids from an early age understand the meaning of adulthood. Teach them the difference, he says, between a “need” and a “want,” embrace hard work together, travel meaningfully, and read widely. These are all important steps to forming mature citizens.

And in our new book “A Practical Guide to Culture,” my co-author Brett Kunkle and I have a chapter entitled “Perpetual Adolescence and Castrated Geldings.” In it, we offer even more suggestions for helping teens grow up. Come to BreakPoint.org to find out how to get your copy.

But the Senator’s most important suggestion? Older generations must start investing in the lives of young adults. Summarizing relevant research in 2013, The Boston Globe reported a staggering statistic: Only a quarter of Americans 60 and older had discussed anything important with anyone under 36 in the previous six months! Exclude relatives and that figure dropped to a mortifying 6 percent. How alien this would have sounded to the Apostle Paul, who in Titus 2 urges older men and older women to teach the younger.

Only by connecting and investing in their lives can we reasonably expect our kids, our grandkids, and their peers to understand that “adult” is not something you do. It’s someone you are.

 

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What Do You Think? What Will You Do?

Are you going to talk with teens and young adults about this? Or, how did you react to this sentence? But if our kids don’t know what it means to be adults, parents, we should be asking ourselves, are we teaching them? Maybe we should talk about this with other parents we care about.

I recommend you purchase A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World for any adults who care about and work with young adults and teens. Also, if you know young adults frustrated by their own generation and concerned, buy this book for them. I’m buying copies for Christmas gifts for my niece who teaches and coaches in a Christian school and my nephew and his wife who work with teens in their church. Who do you know who needs this book?

If you don’t already follow John’s work at BreakPoint, the nationally syndicated commentary on the culture founded by the late Chuck Colson, www.breakpoint.org and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, www.colsoncenter.org I encourage you to. I depend on both to keep me informed with truth. And, check out Brett‘s ministry at www.maventruth.com. Read the “about” page and you’ll see how much he and I have in common. I’m eager to see how God is going to continue to use him now that he’s launched his own ministry. It’s right to care and to stay informed. More than ever before, we need to discern who to listen to and who to follow. These men are all about Jesus and truth. (By the way, if you’ll be coming to any of the Great Homeschool Conventions in 2018, both John and Brett will be speaking at all five.)

 

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John is the President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, a sought-after speaker on issues of worldview and culture, and co-host of the nationally distributed daily commentary BreakPoint. His books include A Practical Guide to Culture (2017), Restoring All Things (2014), Same-Sex Marriage (2013), and Making Sense of Your World (2007). Follow John on Twitter (@jbstonestreet).

What Do You Truly Value?

What Do You Truly Value?

What Do You Truly Value?

 

What you value matters. Greatly. And your values are – or should be – related to gratitude. Let’s continue our series about having a thankfulness month and not just a thanksgiving day.

What do you value? How do you think your children would answer that question?

Notice, I didn’t ask you what you say you value. I asked what you do value. These are two different questions.

Keep these questions in mind if you do the “thinkfulness exercise” I recommended on Monday.  Do your true values show up or will you discover, by what you say you’re thankful for, that you may have different values? This is worth thinking about. Be thinkful.

For example, in the samples I included in Monday’s blog, I mention Jesus, my brother, and our country. They’re high values of mine.

If you say…

If you say you value creativity, how might that show up when you think about being grateful? Are you grateful for your ability to choose colors that go well together when decorating? Are you thankful your daughter enjoys shopping because she creatively puts clothes together to make unique outfits? Or did nothing representing creativity make your list? Then maybe it’s not as high of a value as you think it is.

Do you say you value teamwork? How might that show up when you talk about people and things you’re grateful for? Maybe you remember your character quality of humility, specifically that you don’t always need to be recognized for your part in a group’s success. Maybe you list your son’s support from the bench for the starting members of his basketball team. Or, if there is nothing on your list representing teamwork, is it actually a high value?

And, how about this: I can’t imagine you don’t value people more than things. Is there evidence on your lists? This is worth thinking about. Remember, thankfulness comes from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning thinkfulness. If you’re not happy with your lists, slow down and spend some time thinking. Then, make some changes.

Because values influence everything – our use of time, talents, resources, and our relationships – they’re worth thinking about. I hope this short blog has helped you.

Thankfulness Comes From Thinkfulness

Thankfulness Comes From Thinkfulness

Thankfulness Comes From Thinkfulness

 

Last Wednesday, on November 1, I suggested that November could be a month of thankfulness rather than be a month with one thanksgiving day. Does that appeal to you?

We would be better off if we become grateful people and not just say we’re thankful. We need to recognize what and who we can be and even should be grateful for. Some people make a list. Some keep a gratitude journal. I think doing something has value. It makes gratitude more concrete and real. This may be especially true for children of all ages.

Thankfulness comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word, “thinkfulness.” As I wrote about it in Screens and Teens, Thinking leads to thanking. I’m not talking about teens who say “thank you” because their dads glare at them. I’m talking about grateful being who we are, not just what we do and say. Gratitude can be a built-in part of our identities. This is what allows us to be thankful “in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). (page 79)

Let’s get our kids thinking about thankfulness. Maybe it would help focus their thoughts if we gave them categories to think about. They could make lists or just process ideas internally and then talk with you. Young children can dictate their answers to you or older siblings. I picture some of you collecting, posting, and talking about many lists! (If you do, I’d love to see pictures.)

Let’s Get Practical

Try these categories. Let me know what you think of to add. Maybe you could put each set of words on a piece of paper, assign each family member a color of pen or pencil, and start writing. If you leave the papers out somewhere, hopefully each of you will stop by often as you think of things to add. Remember to discuss why you’re grateful on the nights when you make time to go through the lists.

You might want to list a few things first on each paper to provide examples. After a few days, help your children who haven’t listed much think more. Discern why they’re hesitant. What don’t they understand about gratitude?

One more comment before I give you the categories. This exercise is very self-focusing. That’s fine because the only people who will be grateful are those who know what they can be grateful for. But, we don’t want this to encourage self-centeredness or pride. You can expand the idea to be more family-centered if you’d like. For instance, you could put each person’s name on a piece of paper and have others list things about that person they’re grateful for. If they’ve already used the categories when thinking about themselves, it should be easier to think of things from the categories for you and their siblings without even listing the categories on the family pieces of paper.

Thinkfulness Categories for Thankfulness

  • attitudes, actions, beliefs
    • For example, among other things, I’m grateful for my positive outlook, actions I’ve taken so I will lose weight, and my belief in Christ.
  • people, things
    • For example, among other things, I’m grateful for my brother because of his constant support and for a new shelf a friend built for me that is allowing me to have easy access to some of my favorite books. (Look not only at what your children list, but the order in which they list everything. Are many things listed before any people? Or, are the only people they list family members? Have a conversation.)
  • strengths, challenges, interests
    • For example, among other things, I’m grateful for my problem-solving abilities. Your children may be surprised to find  “challenges” as a category. It’s so worth thinking about these things with the big picture of life in mind. For instance, I’m grateful for each of my three knee surgeries because God used them to show me I couldn’t do everything myself. I learned to ask for help and to allow people to serve me. People were blessed and I’m a better person. I’m grateful I’m interested in our government, our country’s Christian heritage, and our future as a nation.
  • spiritual self, emotional self, social self, intellectual self, physical self, character self
    • For example, among other things, I’m grateful:
      • Spiritual: the examples of Nehemiah and Esther from God’s Holy Word inspire me.
      • Emotional: it’s been a long time since I was surprised by my quick temper.
      • Social: I love introducing people to others and watching their friendships flourish.
      • Intellectual: I enjoy putting ideas together in new ways.
      • Physical: my back is much better.
      • Character: I’ve become more teachable, especially in regards to what I need to do to lose weight.
  • past, present, future
    • For example, among other things, in my past, I’m grateful that my parents encouraged my brother and me to pursue our musical interests because we still enjoy music today. In the present, I’m grateful for an excellent chiropractor who is staying knowledgeable through many training opportunities. For the future, I’m grateful for opportunities coming up that will allow me (and all of Celebrate Kids) to influence more people. (And, I can’t wait until I can fill everyone in!)

Don’t wait

If you read something that makes sense, don’t wait to implement your ideas. Thanksgiving is a day 17 days away, but we can have a month full of thanksgiving. And starting now will make the day more meaningful than typical. We can celebrate thankfulness this month!

Listen With Great Compassion

Listen With Great Compassion

 

Listen With Great Compassion

 

On Monday, I encouraged my readers to be in the moment with people who are in pain and people who are joyful. It’s not helpful or loving to try to push people through and beyond their feelings. If you read that post, have you noticed more people’s feelings in the last two days? How have you responded?

As I wrote on Monday, these two verses can instruct and motivate us:

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

Romans 12:15

“He who withholds kindness from a friend

forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”

~Job 6;14

As my pastor continued his teaching from the book of Job, he shared this insight that’s clear from reading the debate between Job and his three “friends” found in chapters 7-37:

Resist answering the unanswerable.

Maybe one of the wisest things we can do is listen with great compassion and respond with, “I’m so sorry I don’t have answers.” If people don’t seem to be asking questions, we can simply verbalize, “I’m so sorry.” I’ve sometimes sat with people and said it several times.

Not having answers is hard for me. I’m logic smart and word smart so I think with words and questions. I’m solution-focused. On top of that, I have the spiritual gift of exhortation. I’m naturally driven “to urge, advise, or caution earnestly; admonish urgently.”

But, I know answers and solutions are often not what people want. They want me. They want to be heard. To be seen in their moment.

Silence. It’s not easy. But, it’s so often what’s best.

What Can We Do?

Knowing what some “experts” think wasn’t enough for me. I asked about this on Facebook to see if someone’s presence satisfied people. It’s fun to do research there. Yes, it’s research. There was a lot of agreement among those who answered this question. These comments reflect those of many:

  • I want them to be engaged in a way that creates connectedness. You can evaluate engagement by a lot of non-verbal communication (are they facing you, looking at you, leaning in towards you, making eye contact, etc.) but there are other ways too. Are they relaxed, comfortable? Being kind and considerate? Sometimes just being means not being elsewhere, whether physically or emotionally. [Read that last sentence again. It’s good!]
  • Mouth closed. Arms, ears, and eyes open.
  • I don’t want to hear what I “should or shouldn’t” be thinking/feeling/doing, I just want companionship, understanding, and hopefully encouragement and camaraderie.
  • Acknowledge the feelings you’re hearing … “I’m sure that’s exciting” or “That sounds really hurtful.”
  • Physical touch – hold my hand, touch my shoulder, hug me, sit close. Don’t tell me your experience and how it turned out (either good or bad). But do empathize and show you understand what I’m feeling. Don’t discount my feelings, let me move through whatever process I need to go through. Do assure me of God’s faithfulness and love.
  • Peaceful companionship. [I love this phrase!]

  • Listening. Not one-upping your situation. Sympathizing or enjoying the moment with you.
  • I want undivided attention. I don’t mind if they share experiences that are similar or that yielded the same emotion I’m working through at that time for I believe that it makes for a very close connection. And I don’t want to be judged or criticized. I want to feel as if I’m being heard and understood and that they are there for me trying to help share the experience. I also don’t want them to fix the problem if there is one unless I ask them how they would do it.
  • Contentment, satisfaction with that moment … not wishing for more or something different.
  • I want true listening and not just hearing me….big difference!
  • A car ride. Best conversations in my life seem to happen in the car.
  • Eye contact and the feeling that they are truly there, truly listening, not wishing the moment would pass so they can hop along to the next distraction

And, communicated by many: No phone in front of their face!!!! [I think she meant it.] And, there’s this one: I want to be important enough that a cell phone or other device do not need to be present.

Is it Different for Teens?

I hope the above list is helpful and motivational. It was for me. What about teens. Some may say some of the same things adults shared. But, …

Many teens (and children) prefer to talk about emotional and difficult things when they’re busy. They’re not as comfortable with silence as adults are. From one Facebook post:

My 14 year old daughter’s first answer was play video games with me. So I said no video games, what else to be in the moment together. She answered watch a movie together. I asked her why not just sit together or chat together but she said to sit in silence is awkward and to just talk is uncomfortable. I guess she feels more comfortable talking while engaged in another activity.

Yes. Based on my experiences and conversations with teens, I believe many or most or all would agree with this teen. I love that the mom thought to ask her and that her daughter was able to be honest.

As I’ve written about before, many teens also prefer talking while we’re driving because our eyes can’t meet. They often tell me they don’t want to remember the look on our faces when they say something that’s disappointing or alarming. This is also why some like the dark at bedtime. I totally get this. Do you?

Why not do what the mom from Facebook did and ask your children and teens if they have preferences. If you have preferences, let them know yours. Sharing during emotional times is important. Let’s learn to do it well.

As always, thanks for reading. Let me know if this was beneficial. And, if you have ideas about other things you’d like me to blog about, I’d love your ideas.