Fighting Temptation or Fighting God?

When you’re spacing out in class… what do you think about? When you’re laying awake at night and can’t sleep, what are consumes your dreams: video games, music, your friends, a “friend,” good grades, sports, achievements, or some other fantasy?

Those dreams and desires say a lot about who we are and what we desire.

Mark Twain said, “A human being has a natural desire for more than what he needs.” Whether it’s money, food, pleasure, whatever… we want as much of something as we can get.

But when good things becomes obsessions, they begin to control us. They become obsessions. We can even become prisoners to our own desires. We need to learn to say “No!” to ourselves, keeping good desires within healthy boundaries while refusing to entertain our bad desires which can cause us harm.

The Fireplace
If sex is like fire, then marriage is the fireplace. When fire leaves the boundaries of the fireplace, don’t be surprised if you get burned. See other posts from this conversation: Sex, Intimacy, & Healthy Boundaries, and  Secret Struggles & Building an Army (because no one needs to struggle alone). 

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Honoring God by Honoring Your Parents

The word “Honor” literally means “to make heavy.” When my kids are stressing me out and I drown my stress in ice cream, I somehow don’t think this is what the Bible had in mind by being honored by my kids. What does it mean to honor your parents? This post serves as a general summary of the fifth commandment.

Cardboard figures of the family on opened book

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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
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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.”

Talking About Deflategate With Your Teen

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Well, Deflategate and Tom Brady are all over the news again. And it’s not looking good for TB12.

I’m not interested in accusing or defending Brady, though I definitely have my own opinions about his alleged-guilt and the suspension he received. Instead, I think it’s important to realize this provides a great way for us to talk with teens about some important issues.

Here are some thoughts that may be worth a conversation with your teenager and a few questions to consider discussing together as you chew over the ongoing Deflategate fiasco.

INTEGRITY

  • Integrity means “wholeness.” You are one person, wherever you are. You don’t change from one moment to the next, and you’re not faking it with one group of friends while being someone else around others.
  • Let your integrity defend you. It takes a longtime to build it up, but only a moment to lose it. You generally know whether or not someone has integrity or not. It’s not gained by popularity or public opinion.
  • Integrity comes through a thousand small decisions. We usually pay attention to the big decisions in life, so sometimes they are much easier to get right than the small choices we make when we can think, “No one will notice, this isn’t a big deal at all.” Well, it is a big deal. The small decisions of life will make or break you. Choose integrity in all things.  Continue reading

What Pedro Reminded Me About Parenting

Pedro Martinez was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this week. Congratulations Pedro! As someone who lives in the Boston area, it’s always exciting when one of “our guys” makes it into any HOF, but Pedro is especially loved around here.

While I was listening to his speech over sports radio (you can watch it here or read it here) Pedro said something that struck me.  Continue reading

One of the Most Important Things a Parent Can Remember

Featured imageA few years ago one of the other pastors at church gave me a short book called, “How to Really Love your Teenager” by D. Ross Campbell. Honestly, I didn’t love the book as a whole, but there is one thing from the book that has really impacted me (and that alone make the book easily worth the recommendation!). Campbell talks about the many teenagers he has seen for counseling and drives the point home that there is a difference between knowing that you are loved and feeling loved.

Parents, our kids need to know they are loved. But if they only know that as a fact it isn’t enough. Our kids need to feel loved too.

Anyone who knows me personally  knows that I’m not much of a feeler. This does not come naturally to me. But I am committed that my kids feel loved. You may be tempted to say, “Mike, your kids are young. Just wait until they’re teenagers!” It will get more difficult as they become teens, I know that… but it’s never easy. The sooner you start, the better. The later you start nurturing your kids feelings, the harder it will become.

I think this issue boils down to two things: love and trust.

When we get to the root of it all, I suspect that these two issues are simply two sides of the same question: “Are you for me?”

This might sound like a ridiculous question until we consider our sinful nature. We are all naturally prone to living for ourselves and it is a work of the Holy Spirit to truly and genuinely put others first.

As parents, we need to die to ourselves daily, thus providing a faithful example of the call of the gospel to our kids. It is by dying to ourselves that we find our life in Christ, and it is through Christ that we find the love our kids truly need. When we are living in the love of God, our kids (no matter how old or young they are) will be blessed by knowing and feeling loved.