Are We Still Giving Thanks?

Yesterday was Thanksgiving… today is Black Friday. The difference is pretty obvious. For the Christian, it’s helpful to remember that we are called to live with an attitude of thankfulness everyday.

So what are you focused on today? Here are a few questions to consider today:

  • Are you focused on how you’ve been blessed; or are you focused on what you don’t have?
  • Are you shopping in order to joyfully give to others; or in order to simply to buy obligatory gifts for people at the lowest possible price?
  • Are you treating other shoppers in a way that reflects a thankful, joyful heart; or do you see them as competitors who are trying to take your stuff?

Shopping on Black Friday doesn’t make you unthankful. But why you shop and how you shop matters. Be a thankful shopper today.

Special Offer for Two EBC Families: Circle

I want to present a special offer to the first two EBC families who contact me for the following free offer. This isn’t a gimmick, and I haven’t been given any incentives for this… I simply want to serve your families and discover if the following device is truly as helpful as it seems to be.

The Challenge: Setting & Maintaining Tech Limits
Technology is everywhere. And with it comes many challenges. Tech Addiction (phones and video games are the biggest culprits) is significantly on the rise and porn is just as accessible through your phone and video gaming system as it is on your computer.

Last month I shared an infographic about teenager’s tech use, revealing that the average teen spends 9 hours using technology each day (this does not include time used for school and homework!). If you’re like most parents of teens, you’re struggling with the question, “How do I help set and maintain healthy limits?”

Meet Circle
Continue reading

Unsung Heroes of Christmas: Joseph

I ran the two mile slowly and came in dead last. Everyone else finished a few minutes before I did. And I won “Unsung Hero” because of it. Let me explain…

It was one of those track meets where all the teams in the league compete against each other: Boys at one location, and the Girls competed at another. Our team could win the meet if our best runner won the last two races: the two mile and the one mile. The problem is, the races were back-to-back. Normally, the girls would run the two mile after the boys, giving the boys time to catch their breath before the one mile began. This is where I come in.

I was a shotput and discus thrower, not a runner. But since we ran two miles every day during practice the coach knew he wasn’t asking for the impossible, but he also knew that I was way slower than everyone else in the race. So he put me in and said, “Mike, run slowly. Don’t try to finish fast, Andy needs time to rest if he’s going to have a chance to win the next race too.” Andy probably could’ve run the race twice in the time I took. But the plan worked, and we won the meet because Andy was fast and I was slow.

I didn’t win the race. But Andy wouldn’t have won both races without me… I got the “Unsung Hero” award and learned an important lesson about teamwork and setting others up for success.

I believe the biggest Unsung Hero of Christmas is Joseph. I’ve never heard a sermon about him, but think about this: God had the chance to choose his parents, and he chose Joseph and Mary. Clearly, they’re special and heroic people worth remembering.

Unsung Hero Continue reading

Is “Forgive and Forget” Biblical?

Over the last few weeks we’ve been talking about conflict resolution and unity in youth group. The first step towards peace is to live with the desire to Glorify God, because you never know when conflict will strike. The second step is to Get the Log Out Of Your Own Eye by prayerfully asking God to show you if you have anything you need to confess. Since the goal of peacemaking is unity, the third step is to Gently Restore. The final step is to Go Get Reconciled with your friend. Below is the final wrapup, addressing the “messier” situations that are more complicated. 

We’ve all been hurt. We’ve all been forgiven. We’ve all needed to be forgiven.

But I seriously doubt we’ve forgotten.

“Forgive and forget” sounds good advice until you’re the one hearing it. Then, when it’s personal and when the hurt is deep, it seems like you’re expected to do something impossible. And for the Christian, it begs the question: Is “forgive and forget” biblical?

cloud over mountains Continue reading

Go Get Reconciled

Over the last few weeks we’ve been talking about conflict resolution and unity in youth group. The first step towards peace is to live with the desire to Glorify God, because you never know when conflict will strike. The second step is to Get the Log Out Of Your Own Eye first by prayerfully asking God to show you if you have anything you need to confess. Since the goal of peacemaking is unity, the third step is to Gently Restore. (The following was drafted and taught by Kevin Campbell.) 

You and your friend got into a fight. Afterwards you realized you were in the wrong, so you apologized. He forgave you, and you moved on. A few months later he brings it up again as one of the reasons he has a difficult time trusting you. And you’re left wondering… “Did he really forgive me, or did he just say he did?”

Last week we talked about “Gently Restoring” the relationship that was broken. This week we’re focusing on being reconciled to each other. But what’s the difference between “Restoration” and “Reconciliation?”

  • Restore: the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition. To fix or put things back the way they were. To make it right.
  • Reconcile: to bring into agreement or harmony; make compatible or consistent: to win over to friendliness; cause to become amicable: to mend a relationship.

Center Line Continue reading

Technology Use by Tweens & Teens

The following infographic has been released by Common Sense Media after tons of research and interviews. Take a look at the info below and then check out a cool new resource for families to “pause” the internet and regain control over their technology.

Media Use by Tweens and Teens Infographic

Meet Circle
Circle is a new device that helps parents regain control over the internet. You can purchase it for $99 and set it up easily (so it seems) so that each member in your family and each of their devices is linked and monitored. Block websites you don’t want people to have access to, set time limits for each person, even set time limits for different apps or types of media (Facebook, Instagram, videos, games, etc.). Check out the video about Circle below.

The Heart, not Technology, is the Answer
Tim Challies is a Christian author who has issued an insightful warning about technology: Do not look to technology as the answer for technology problems. Don’t we do that?! Our tech causes a problem, which we rely on more tech to solve. If we stopped for a second to think about it we’d realize we’re trying to take the easy way out. If your family has a problem, you cannot buy Circle or set up some other internet filter and then wipe your hands, thinking, “Ahh, my duty is done!” Circle (or something like it) can definitely be part of the solution, but please don’t fully rely on it as the answer.

The heart is the solution, and only God can redirect the heart. Faithfully demonstrate to your family that God is your utmost priority in all things, and talk openly about what your family priorities are and why those things matter so much. If other kids’ families have other priorities, don’t be disrespectful towards them, but expect some pushback – “But Jimmy is allowed to play Minecraft whenever he wants.” (I’ve personally heard that one a million times.)

Chances are, your tweens and teens are more tech-savvy than you are. They may be able to find ways to work around whatever filters you set up. Remind them that you’re trying to make it hard for them to break the rules, and encourage them, “When you’re hacking your way through these filters, let that be a reminder to you that you’re trying to sin. Really think about whether or not you’re ok with that.”