What goes in…

The old saying… “What Goes In… Must Come Out” is especially true for our kids. Media consumption for the average pre-teen is WAY UP, while parents available free time is WAY DOWN.  The net result… our kids are absorbing thousands of hours of television, video and music each year without a parents protective presence to monitor what they watch and hear!

thechart.blogs.cnn.com

thechart.blogs.cnn.com

“We often note that children and teens spend more time with media than they do in any other activity except—possibly sleeping.In fact, the average time spent with screen media among 8- to 18-year-olds is more than twice the average amount of time spent in school each year (Sources; Common Sense Media.org 2012, Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010; National Center for Education Statistics, 2008).

Recent studies with Pediatric Psychologists and US Medical Universities, suggest the amount of pre-teen media consumption is up to 7.5 hours each day and trending higher! Such behaviors pose significant problems for pre-adolescent educators, pediatric health (Obesity) and attention deficit disorders !

For families of faith, we have an additional issue to consider… the development of a moral compass for our pre-teens. It’s a major problem confronting modern families who recognize we can’t just ‘ban” all electronic devices from our lives, in a futile attempt to avoid the dangers of media!

So what can concerned parents do?

1- Set some healthy boundaries;  It’s your home, protect it as a ‘safe’ place for your family. Keep TV’s and wireless devices with unfettered access to the web and video in the common areas of your home. Family room, kitchen etc…. remove the opportunity for pre-teens to have ‘private’ viewing or gaming areas in your home. Be clear with the rules you have on what’s acceptable content for them. PG-13 / TV 14 – language – sexuality – violence… etc.

2- Watch and listen; Be familiar with what your child is reading, watching and listening to. Keep a running conversation with them about their favorite artists, TV shows and books. Make a point to watch movies with them, understand the ideas and themes that capture their attention.

3- Construct a Media Filter; Sit down regularly to watch popular movies, TV shows and videos with your pre-teen. As you do, take the time to gently point out where the false realities of video production edits exist; point out where directors create unrealistic life scenarios that seem to be ‘true. Comment on ‘half-truths’ and total fantasy, ask your pre-teen to start to notice the seemingly ‘perfect families, with ‘perfect complexions, hair and the latest in designer outfits all while living socially popular lives without the limitations of finances etc.

interhomeopathy.org

interhomeopathy.org

As tweens get better at ‘noticing’ the fake superficial stuff, dig a little deeper. Note the morality being portrayed as ‘normal”, point out the rationalization of sin and the subtle vilification of anyone who suggests a moral code of conduct in the story-line. In time, they will begin to catch on for themselves, and start to “FILTER” the lies and half-truths from the real. 

The long-term goal of every parent is to help our kids navigate the transition from child to adult safely. As Christians, we also hope to transfer our faith and the basic truths behind our biblical heritage.

Helping our kids learn to sort through the mass of media they consume is an ESSENTIAL issue for modern parents to wrestle with and adapt to.

May God give us all extra wisdom and strength as we parent this generation into a new digital age!

Pastor B.

 

 

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The absurdity of exhaustion

As parents, we define the word ‘exhausted. (Merriam Webster – “the state of being extremely tired : the state of being exhausted: the act of using all of something : the act of exhausting something” -)

Sound familiar ?

Do you feel exhausted ?

I bet you often do, and within your moral right to claim “exhaustion’ and name it as your own personal word !  Parents, we use the word frequently and we’re right, we ARE tired and completely used up some days.

beautyandbedlam.com

beautyandbedlam.com

Kids, work, school, spouses… homework, laundry, dinner, soccer practice, dry cleaning, groceries and the pharmacy are all on our list of “must” do’s, squeezed in between the errands of life and our responsibilities, we’re wrung out. Stretching to get out every last drop of our time, energy and focus to just cover the ‘basic’s.

So when it comes to our staying ‘connected’ with our faith and the communities of believers we hang with… it’s often a last second decision to pick between an evening of “quiet sanity” on the couch or one more obligation to attend to in our otherwise, totally obligated life.

So it’s absurd to even think that we could ever do ‘more! Right ?

It’s in the moments of true exhaustion that God’s power is released to pour into our ’empty’ until we are truly strong. The irony and absolute absurdity of our faith is in the moments we ‘feel ‘ the most powerless and ineffective, God shows up in our circumstances to super-charge us.

I can’t tell you how many millions of pastors and their spouses would share of how God empowers them to “press on” into ministry each week, despite their physical and mental exhaustion.

How when at the very end of our personal proverbial rope, God asks us to give just a little bit more… to Him, to His people. An act of total faith and dependence as we have NOTHING left to give, but I can assure you, when you step into the world of the exhausted servant, the power of resurrection becomes real !

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor 12:9)

So Parents; as we work through our insanely busy days, let’s remember to allow room for God to work in our exhaustion to bring resurrection life to us and then to others through our behind the scenes, heroic acts of faith!

thenextweb.com

thenextweb.com

The absurd thing is this… when you take the risk to serve others in your exhaustion, God responds to our act of total dependence by reviving our heart, mind and body in a way that no bubble bath or Emmy winning sitcom ever could !

It’s amazing to experience, and impossible to truly describe….but when by every measure of science and psychology we should be MORE exhausted than ever, we’ll find ourselves ridiculously refreshed!

Love you all, Pastor B.

 

 

 

Faithful is He

Ever feel deflated by the weight we’re carrying to be good and faithful parents? Of the pressure we feel to overcome our own strongholds of fear and past failures for the preservation of our families future. Take hope, the entire story doesn’t land on us or end in the rubble of Jericho’s walls. It won’t vanish in the joke of an un-attainable ideal of perfect faith found exclusively on sacred paper.

The path forward for the nation of Israel included generations of “battles” and conflicts to fight for the promise of “Shalom” for real Peace and true Rest. Ultimately they never actually were able to “rest” for more than a generation. The Apex of that promise in the Old Testament could be seen with King David and his son Solomon (and that was with serious flaws), but in general, their ability to “maintain” the vision and the promise of peace and rest, was short-lived, and when it was present…usually only felt for a single generation.

Reading the Old Testament without the new is a sobering process. It’s like trying to be a “good” parent all on our own…It focuses us repeatedly on the themes of repentance, restoration, redemption and relapse, over and over with God warning, encouraging, reminding and eventually judging His people over and over from one generation to the next until their stories and circumstances become simply a part of the tapestry of the nature of man and God, in a wild and provocative pattern of human tragedy and divine intervention.

It’s a powerful teaching aid, designed by God to direct our attention to the “fulfilment” of the elusive promise as found in Messiah.

Our best efforts, our purest of intentions will not completely carry the day, not as a nation, a church or a family. Our strongest convictions to “do better” cannot overcome the tide of the human condition. We have thousands of years of Old Testament history to make the case of our inability to be “faithful” on our own. We have amazing men and women of faith and courage and conviction who at the end of their days were unable to successfully transfer their wisdom, their faith to their kids…

But Jesus was...

Ultimately expressed in His son, God’s love and relentless desire to redeem us shines through all of the darknessof our failures, despair and frustration. The point of the Jericho story, the point of the Old Testament scriptures, the point of all we’ve been through is to drive us straight to our savior. To admit our inability to get it “right” and fall on our knees before the cross of Calvary with a heart of eternal gratitude not just for the salvation of our souls, but for gift of the promise fulfilled.

Courtesy of usatoday.com

Finally a permanent solution to all our Angst!

As we parent today, this week…this year; let’s agree to REST in the Promise of God’s FAITHFULNESS…From this place, we can parent with genuine power and love and peace. From this place we can walk past the rubble of Jericho and all of battles yet to be fought, confident in the grace and ability of God to reach into our mess and make it beautiful. No matter what.

God is faithful, let’s put our ultimate trust in Him to authentically transfer our faith…not in our flawless execution of the conservative Christian parenting plan 🙂

Hebrews 10:23

“23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (ESV) Biblegateway.com

Peace out RTP! 🙂

brad.

Struggling to Spend the time…

Joshua 1:8

8This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (courtesy of the e-bible.com)

Wow… some days my time just evaporates… up before dawn, shower, energy bar, coffee, commute, work, dry cleaners, pick up dinner, eat dinner, dishes, meeting with someone at or with church, laundry, talk with the wife, kids and check on parents…  am I the only parent who finds that it’s a constant battle, a struggle to spend the limited time I have to be alone with God?

It’s really hard, harder than it should be.

It’s easier to sit on the couch, catch a few minutes of the local news… then pick up one of my mobile devices and re-check my emails, Facebook and twitter… it’s much easier for me to find the time to walk the dog, workout, catch a movie, re-arrange a closet or clean up the house. It’s more gratifying to do something that provides me with immediate and visible results, or something that actually entertains me or distracts me from life…than to go read the bible.

Out of water

Problem is… when I go more than a day or two without spending some time in the word, without being alone with God. I start to wilt… like a plant that goes a bit too long in the sun without being watered. I’m still there, kind of green on the outside, but weak and droopy. If I don’t re-immerse myself in the living water of God’s word I start to get dry and brittle. Irritable, short-tempered, inflexible.

Photo by: Andrey Armyagov

Joshua reminds us… don’t let this word of God depart from us, it should be all around us, in us… until we learn to abide. I’m learning that spending time with God is not only a dedicated time each day, but a constant re-focusing of my mind and heart throughout the day. To remember the bible verse  that encouraged me somehow in my last reading, to hang onto the key thought my pastor shared on sunday that I know was just for me… this effort of the mind to reconnect with Him all through my day is as legit a time with God as much as breaking out a thick journal and study bible on the kitchen table.

So, today on my way to work.. Instead of a Fox news broadcast with the latest in political scuttlebut…I tuned in a Christian radio station and listened as Chuck Swindoll encouraged me to never compromise… I took the extra 3 minutes to read my e-bible.com verse out of my email in-box and shared it online. When I get home tonight, I will take 15-20 minutes somewhere before I fall asleep to read the word, Not because I “should”, or “have to”, but because without it, I can’t survive…

Psalm 1:1-3

(ESV) “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers…”

I’m not able to negotiate anymore with my personal time and God time, I‘m going to make every effort to blend them into one. I don’t think we were ever meant to live outside of His presence, that’s why it’s so hard for me / us to segregate our faith during the day and then try to re-engage with God later. It’s not natural… and its way to hard to try to raise our kids well, stay in a healthy marriage and struggle to make a difference in the world we live in… all on our own. So let’s not.

Peace and Grace,

brad.

Exhausted or Emptied ? Is there a difference…

Received this email from a long time pastor friend and mentor of mine today… It was so encouraging for me and exactly what I needed to remember. As parents don’t we often begin to feel exhausted and overwhelmed by the relentless day to day struggle we face to maintain our homes in some kind of order? Or maybe you’re battling a sense of creeping frustration that spills out from of a lack of observable change in your kid’s behavior? Or for those of us who live in a community of faith, you may well be feeling these same exhausted emotions from another late night in which you just got dumped on by a last minute call or coffee with someone whose seemingly un-solvable life crisis has been brought to your exclusive attention because they seem to think you the only one who can “fix it”. Sound familiar…?

But then his email came across my screen this morning like a breath of fresh air and so timely in helping me reorient my perspective!  So, I’m Sending out a BIG THANK YOU to my dear friend for sharing this encouraging treasure with me and I felt led to share it with our RTP world today.

“Wayne’s email: 

This message ministered to me today and I wanted to share it with you…

 Jesus said to Peter – “Feed My sheep,” but He gave Peter nothing to feed them with. And we are all called to go feed His sheep. The process of being made “broken bread” and “poured out wine” means that you will be the nourishment for others’ souls until they learn to feed on God. Before they learn to draw on the life of the Lord Jesus directly, they have to draw on it through you. You are the bridge through which the real truth and healing message of Christ will travel. And this is how God uses us to minister to others. We are called to serve, and serving takes energy and effort. This process has the potential to deplete and exhaust us.

 But here’s the important principle: we shouldn’t be exhausted, rather, we should feel emptied. But we need not remain emptied, for we can always return to the Source of all power to refuel. God’s Word promises you strength and power, and the Holy Spirit is the energy source that refuels us so we can continue to serve others.”

 Pastor – Wayne Detweiller

—————————–(repost of his email from  Jan 6th, 2012)———————————

Thank you Pastor Wayne for your encouragement and helpful insights. Wayne and his wife Sue serve in the Franklin TN area as pastors and have co-founded a great new ministry Life-Bridges . To find out more…

Pastor's Wayne and Sue Detweiller

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Wayne and Sue Detweiler founded Life-Bridges to equip, encourage and empower individuals and couples to find freedom and fulfillment in Christ. Reaching out to individuals, engaged couples, married couples and parents workshops, retreats, seminars, and Christian Life Coaching Sessions.
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Our mission is to connect people to purpose.
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Sign up for our blog or to follow us on twitter at 1lifebridge. Join us for The Marriage Bridge, The Parenting Bridge, The Freedom Bridge, or the Engagement Bridge. Begin Christian Life Coaching sessions to move to a new dimension of clarity, freedom, and restoration in your marriage or personal life.
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The Parenting Pilgrimage… living in the journey.

I love to RoadTrip, It’s such an amazing adventure to seek out for a few days with no hard fast schedules or agenda’s to keep. No meetings to make, no deadlines and no pressure to perform. Just free time to explore and discover new things and places. Awesome !

Brad & Paige in Canada

If you’ve not tried it, please… I urge you to seriously consider it. I’ve included a free link on this blog (right side column) where you can go to find great drives full of scenic adventure near where you live.  As a man, I’m drawn to exploring new vista’s of beauty and rugged terrain, for me that’s always the mountains. For some it’s the beach, a high desert or an isolated lake deep in the forest, wherever that is for you… GO and find it and soak some up on a regular basis.

Our world is in a desperate rush to drive us faster and faster through our lives. The pressure is intense to get things DONE. To check off one more life accomplishment from our internal list, to finish up one more project for our work or complete one more year of school with our kids. But we rarely step back from it far enough to recognize the process as being beautiful and exciting and amazing. Instead we literally get lost in the journey from here to there, and often distracted, depressed and overwhelmed by the pace and panic building within our hearts.

Slow down.

Step back.

Rest.

Enjoy the journey your on as a parent, as a family. Stop the hamster wheel you call life and push some less important things back in your schedules. Take the time to appreciate the amazing world you live in, and take your family with you. Help them learn this principle early, so they can apply it often to their own families as they grow. It’s an incredible gift to share with them, the gift of retreating from the world of anxious living into the oasis of life a road trip can provide.

Life is not a test to be taken and a grade to earned. It’s a process of beautiful changes, great heroism, and lost dreams. Of redemption and of hope, of love and exhilaration and fear. Life is the greatest epic we can ever hope to participate in on earth. It’s amazing how much we miss in our urgency, the passing sunrise on a commute. The stars in night sky after we take the trash out for its weekly pickup. The excitement in our childs eyes as they tell us of something really “cool” that happened at school that day.

But it’s more than that… God is calling to us to come and retreat with Him for a while. His son Jesus often took His escape from the crowds, from the attention and pressures of public life, to just be alone with His father. It was often on a mountain, or by a lake… and often it was alone. We can learn from that pattern. We can apply that truth to our lives, to our homes to our marriages, and we must.

My hope for your family… step back from the insanity of keeping up for a few days each season and retreat together to spend some alone time with each other, with God and with the beauty of His creation. It will restore your perspective, it will rest your mind and renew your heart. It will re-ignite the flames of love in your marriage and the communication and intimacy with your kids.

In the final day of our lives we will doubtless wish we had spent more time enjoying the Pilgrimage of our life, rather than responding to the pressures of our culture to achieve and succeed in the things that really don’t matter.

Dear RTP reader… pull back from your desk, leave the endless pile of laundry and go roam a bit. It’s time to remember the pleasure of living… to catch the Smell of the leaves this fall, the fresh crisp coolness of a morning hike in the woods, or Feel the delicious tingle of red in your cheeks from the early snowfall as you climb up the mountain you’ve decided has your name on it. Watch as a beautiful dance unfolds in the wispy clouds floating gently across the sky above as you’re lying perfectly still in a quiet meadow. Listen to the roar of the breakers in the sandy alcove of your favorite stretch of beachfront. Life is calling to you… God is calling to you.

Will you take a moment to consider your reply?

Peace out,

brad.

PS:  Lest I become a total hypocrite,  I’m off to the woods myself this weekend. Working to write a few more chapters in my Tyndale book project in some solitude and rest. Where will you go ?

A challenge to Fathers…Fighting “faith apathy”

Most Parents are concerned about how well their “doing” with raising their kids. We worry about the future, and hope that with consistent and careful effort on our part, they will end up well-rounded, balanced and stable despite the mistakes of our past. As fathers we carry the extra concern of protecting and providing for our homes and their physical well-being, and that is as it should be.

But somewhere down the list of priorities for many dad’s is the role of leading spiritually. Many Christian homes suffer from a significant gap in the father – spiritual leader role for the family.  The burden of teaching spiritual stuff is left to the wife, a nearby grandma or the dynamic and engaging new youth leader at church. Men are not proud to admit that in the whole, we’re just not naturally so good at such things.  It’s obvious to us, other individuals seem so much more enthusiastic and better at it. It’s easier to slightly hang back a bit, just to see if those other adults in our kids lives will step up and do some ad-hoc basic spiritual instruction instead of us.

It’s not that men are generally lazy or un-interested, we just feel unprepared and ill-equipped to talk about our faith, our relationship with God to anyone, let alone our kids. When they become teenagers, forget about it. I’m sure there are many psychological and cultural reasons for this, the natural personality and temperament of a man is more reserved, less verbal. We males tend to be less emotionally sensitive than our female counterparts, we like to fix things, not listen. Our attention spans are reduced by the need to retreat from our work pressures and catch up on our favorite sports team or golfing buddies.

We’ve been trained by our culture that moms are better at disciplining and actually raising our kids anyway and we have little to offer. We only step in when we are asked to, or if we see some very significant rebellion in the home that might require a more forceful response than just a good “time-out”.

Father’s roles in the local Church setting seem to be similar, often it’s the ladies who step up first to volunteer and get things done. They make dinners for shut-in’s, pick up other people’s kids when in a bind, share announcements and lead worship on Sundays, mom’s lead the charge to volunteer to help with kids church and education for sunday school. It’s a rare thing to see a  man step past his comfort zone and be vulnerable spiritually at church or the home.

Why is that ?

I mean why would a man act like an insane verbally exuberant idiot on a Sunday afternoon live or in the local neighborhood man cave, watching his favorite teams football game on a HD flat screen, but go passive as if in a “neutered”  and silent state on the same Sunday morning, mere hours before at church? It’s not as if we “can’t” get emotional, or passionate… it’s just not something very many of us “choose” to do or be when it comes to faith and family. It’s a rampant form of “faith apathy” plain and simple, and it’s killing our families spiritually.

That bothers me, and it bothers mom’s a whole lot more.

Guys, it’s time we take a hard look at the role’s we’re playing in our families lives. I speak with frustrated and angry wives and mothers regularly who are desperate to see their husbands engage with their families emotionally and spiritually on a consistent basis. At least as much and as passionately as we do with our favorite sports teams or cars. Some wives are struggling to maintain their respect and admiration of us as men over this “little” concern. They are watching us passively ignore one of the greatest responsibilities we have in the world.

I believe being a faithful father involves being vulnerable with our families. Of having the courage to admit to our failures, our mistakes, and our passivity in leading them into a greater understanding of our faith and beliefs about God and life. When we step back and choose to let others do our job, we are in a biblical sense abandoning our God-given responsibility. It’s a unique form of mostly male selfishness and it’s destructive.

Dads, if your reading this… please hear me clearly and humbly on this subject. I’m not perfect, don’t have this fathering leadership role all sorted out and well-balanced in my own life yet. But I’m engaged in it and I’m trying. I challenge you to be the same. Take the risk of speaking with your pre-teens and teens about your own faith, about how you have learned and are learning to trust God for the mortgage, for your job, for your health, whatever your story is with God. Step up at Church or home group and be willing to get involved, lead.

You don’t have to create some theological sermon or deep truth/life principle to share with them, you don’t have to do a devotion or read a popular Christian living book. Instead, it’s super effective leadership, when you just let your kids know about you. Warts and all. Their understanding of God and His grace will be formed in part by your willingness to share openly and honestly of your triumphs and tragedies, of your faith and your failings. Of love and sadness, of success and failures in your past and present and of the role God plays in your decisions.

All essential and undeniably unique to you.

Your kids, your wife and this generation is counting on us fathers to just be the MEN we are. Nothing less and nothing more. It’s God’s pattern for us to lead and we’ve been convinced for far too long, that it’s just not a role we’re equipped to play.

Time to change that.

—————————————————————————————————————————

Peace out and Grace to you all as we seek to keep our families in between the lines and on the road of life.

brad.