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

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.”

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.

Worth Your Time 4/10/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

The Most Important Thing My Parents Did, by Tim Challies (Challies)
“I ask the question from time-to-time. Why are all five of my parents’ kids following the Lord, while so many of our friends and their families are not? Obviously I have no ability to peer into God’s sovereignty and come to any firm conclusions. But as I think back, I can think of one great difference between my home and my friends’ homes—at least the homes of my friends who have since walked away from the Lord and his church.”

Kids, Marijuana, and Reasoning Through the Dangers, by Walt Mueller (CPYU)
“In this case, the culture isn’t doing any favors for those of us who want to steer kids away from that which can cause harm of all kinds. Even when science offers compelling evidence, a growing number of kids are recklessly, impulsively, and foolishly choosing to do long-term harm to themselves. . . and justifying it all as benign.”

Do You Believe in Confirmation Bias, by Kenneth R. Morefield (Christianity Today)
“If Do You Believe? sometimes feels less tribal and triumphal than God’s Not Dead, it’s probably because Bobby’s story and the doctor’s story aren’t the center of the film (like Radisson’s), since they’re interwoven with several other storylines. …When [Christian movies] represent Christians interacting with other Christians or depict Christians struggling with internal conflicts, they are rarely culturally offensive and often inspiring or uplifting. But when they portray Christians interacting with non-Christians, they rely too much on flat, stereotypical villains whose only real function is to deliver rhetorical equivalents of slow, hanging curveballs for the Christian heroes to knock out of the park.”

The Most Widely Misunderstood Story in the Bible, by Lyndon Unger (Cripplegate)
“I’d suggest that the most widely known is probably the story of David and Goliath, and that story is always misunderstood…hence the title. Usually, the story is generally taken as some sort of underdog tale meant to encourage people to tackle impossible odds, or something along those lines. Sorry. That is not what it’s about.”

Never Sorry Enough, by Tim Challies (Challies)
“My friend expressed remorse and asked forgiveness, just like he should have. There were no amends he could make and no further actions he could take to make things right—that was not the nature of this offense. So he moved on. We remained friends. … But sometimes that old hurt would creep up. Sometimes I would find myself hurt all over again by that old offense. … I had judged his apology sincere but insufficient, well-intentioned but trite…. I had to see that no one can ever be sorry enough. No one can ever be contrite enough. Not him, and not me.

What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?, by Kevin DeYoung (DeYoung @ The Gospel Coalition)
You can find a number of helpful resources here about the forthcoming book, “What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?” on this page.

Worth Your Time 4/3/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

4 Reasons to Believe in the Empty Tomb, by Rez Rezkalla (The Gospel Coalition)
“Was the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth found empty after his crucifixion? If not, then Christianity is the greatest lie in history. The apostle Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised fro the dead then your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). While the historicity of the empty tomb does not by itself prove the resurrection, it plays an important role.”

Is Mental Illness Actually Biblical?, by Stephen Altrogge (The Blazing Center)
“If I believe that sin has affected every part of my body, including my brain, then it shouldn’t surprise me when my brain doesn’t work correctly. I’m not surprised when I get a cold; why should I be surprised if I experience mental illness? To say that depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar, and every other disorder, are purely spiritual disorders is to ignore the fact that we are both body and soul. Mental illness is not something invented by secular psychiatrists. Rather, it is part and parcel with living in fallen, sinful world.”

It’s Time To Bench Virginity Pledges, by Cameron Cole (Rooted)
“Purity pledges tend to emphasize the commitment of the young person. The decision, signified by the certificate or ring, is central. Given our desperate need for God’s help in such a challenging struggle, greater attention needs to be given to God’s commitment to us. When we face temptation, God pledges to give us a way out. When we are caving, God promises us the Holy Spirit to lead us away from sin. When we fall, God commits to forgive and restore us in our contrition.”

Researchers Pinpoint the Optimal Amount of Math & Science Homework, by Jim Liebelt (HomeWord)
“When it comes to adolescents with math and science homework, more isn’t necessarily better — an hour a day is optimal — but doing it alone and regularly produces the biggest knowledge gain, according to research.”

Contradicting Bible Contradictions (website)
This is a website that answers specific “contradictions” that skeptics raise to show why we should not trust the Bible. This is a helpful site that is worth bookmarking on your internet browser so you can find it again when the need arises.

Worth Your Time 3/20/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

Things I Would Do Differently if I Were Raising My Children Again, by Mark Altrogge (The Blazing Center)
“My children are adults now and several have children of their own. We had lots of fun as a family, and I have lots of great memories of raising our kids. But in retrospect, I think I would have done a number of things differently. So I share them in hopes that younger parents might benefit and not make some of the mistakes I did. Some things I would do differently…”

How to Read Your Bible for Yourself, by John Piper (Desiring God)
Look at the Book is John Piper’s latest effort to help teach people to read the Bible for themselves. It’s an ongoing series of 8–12 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher.”

Why Our Children Don’t Think There are Moral Facts, by Justin McBrayer (New York Times)
“…if students are already showing up to college with this view of morality, it’s very unlikely that it’s the result of what professional philosophers are teaching. So where is the view coming from?

A few weeks ago, I learned that students are exposed to this sort of thinking well before crossing the threshold of higher education. When I went to visit my son’s second grade open house, I found a troubling pair of signs hanging over the bulletin board.”

What Not to Ask Someone Suffering, by Nancy Guthrie (Desiring God)
“People ask me all the time what to say and what to do for people who are grieving the death of someone they love. And I’m glad they ask. I’m glad they want to know what is really helpful and meaningful, and what is completely unhelpful and actually hurtful. And I wish I could tell you that I always know myself what to say. But sometimes words fail me. And I wish I could tell you that I never say the wrong thing. But I do. In fact, a few days ago, I made the mistake I often tell other people not to make.”

It’s the Little Things, by Nicholas Batzig (Ligonier)
“God loves to bless the little things His people do. Sometimes they are small acts, and sometimes they only appear to be so. Jesus cares deeply about the little things that His people do to bless others in His church. He takes note of them as precious acts of service. He uses the little things that His people do to carry on His work in the world through His church. May God give all of us grace to cultivate faithfulness in the little things that we do.”

3 Wrong Things That Some Christians Think About Heaven, by Justin Taylor (The Gospel Coalition)
“Davis shows that the following ideas, even though they are common, are unbiblical:

  1. Heaven is only future.
  2. Heaven is only spiritual.
  3. Heaven is inaccessible.”