Blog Archives

Turn Down the Noise

One of the most prevalent aspects of the modern youth culture is the presence of “noise”.  Young people are constantly surrounded by noise, whether it be from their iPod, their Xbox, their cell phone, or their facebook page.  Noise is such a prevalent aspect of our society that we almost assume that life has always been filled with noise.  In a recent post Al Mohler speaks to our desperate need turn down the noise.

One of the most lamentable aspects of modern life is the disappearance of silence. Throughout most of human history, silence has been a part of life. Many individuals lived a significant portion of their lives in silence, working in solitude and untroubled by the intrusion of constant noise…

Writing in the June issue of Standpoint, Susan Hill argues that our children are being impoverished by being deprived of silence. We have betrayed children, she asserts, by “confiscating their silence.” As she explains:

But so difficult has it become to find such oases of silence, that many children never experience it. In adapting to constant noise, we seem to have become afraid of silence. Why? Are we afraid of what we will discover when we come face to face with ourselves there? Perhaps there will be nothing but a great void, nothing within us, and nothing outside of us either. Terrifying. Let’s drown our fears out with some noise, quickly.

Most of us will quickly realize the truth contained in her assessment. It seems that many of us are, to a greater or lesser degree, almost afraid of silence. Our children quickly inherit the same fear.

Read the whole thing here.

June 26 2009 | Blog | Comments Off on Turn Down the Noise

Seventeen Magazine Weighs in on the Abortion Debate

jonas-brothers-june-2009-cover-xl-large The other day I was browsing through the pages of Seventeen Magazine (fear not, this was entirely work related) and came across an intriguing article tucked between articles on “How to have the Perfect Summer Hair” and recommendations for “Steamy Beach Books” (I hate this part of my job :-)).  The title of the article was “The Secret Life of Pregnant Teenagers”.  The article was pretty typical.  It had a few stories from girls who decided to keep their babies, and a few from girls who gave their babies up for adoption.  What shocked me was a section at the bottom of the page titled “know your options”.  Here’s what it said:


There’s no right or wrong decision about what to do if you have an unplanned pregnancy.  But it’s important to know all your choices:

abortion: Abortion is a safe, common, legal, medical procedure that can be performed at a clinic (like Planned Parenthood) or at your doctor’s office.  You can take a pill that will terminate the pregnancy, or have a surgical procedure.

The section went on to list adoption and parenthood as other options, but the emphasis was clearly on abortion as the best solution.  There was no opposing point of view about the terrible risks of abortion (both emotional and physical), nor of the fact that abortion is the taking of a human life.  The article simply listed it as a safe alternative (I wonder if they ever considered how “safe” it is for the baby). 

It’s obvious that in the minds of Seventeen Magazine’s editors abortion is nothing more than a surgical procedure.  What’s sad is that by treating abortion as a non-issue they are luring unsuspecting girls into murdering their babies as they work on their perfect summer hair and read steamy beach books.

June 22 2009 | Blog | Comments Off on Seventeen Magazine Weighs in on the Abortion Debate

Text, Text, Text

I didn’t really have any experience with text messaging until about a year ago when I started noticing a large number of my High School and Jr. High students typing on their phones before youth group.  Eventually, I started to notice the phones out more and more often until just recently when we had to start asking our teens to turn them off while they’re at church.  Al Mohler has an excellent article on this phenomenon and some timely counsel for parents of teens with texting.

Sherry Turkle, one of the most insightful analysts of digital culture, goes so far as to argue that texting is changing the way American adolescents develop.  Instead of growing into independence and developing life skills, teenagers are texting mom several times a day, asking questions about decisions they should be learning to make.

On the other hand, texting also allows teens to be in almost constant and unbroken communication with peers, largely outside of parental control or knowledge.  To be disconnected from the cell phone is to become a digital non-person for a period.

Of course, many parents enable this obsession by purchasing contracts that offer unlimited text messages.  Many (perhaps most) of these same parents never monitor the messages or the amount of attention their adolescent is devoting to texting.

Christian parents bear the responsibility to monitor, supervise, and limit the digital exposure of their children.  Something is seriously amiss when the average teenager is sending 2,272 text messages a month.  There is no way that teens can be paying adequate attention to homework, to reading, to conversation with family members, and to the interior life of the soul while listening for the phone to vibrate with a new text message every few minutes.

You can find the rest of the article here.

June 05 2009 | Blog | Comments Off on Text, Text, Text

Get Disconnected

untitledSomething amazing happened to me the other day.  It wasn’t amazing in the sense of awe inspiring, like a beautiful sunset or the birth of a child; perhaps surreal might be a better word.  In any case, Amy and I decided to take the kids to the park to enjoy a beautiful sunny day and I purposefully turned off my cell phone and left it at home.  What was amazing / surreal was that even though I did not have my cell phone with me, the world did not end!  You may think that I’m being cheeky (and in some ways I am), but even though most of us know that life will go on with or without our cell phones, we live as if it would not.  It seems to me that one of the tyrannies of modern technology (especially the cell phone) is a paralyzing fear of missing something, especially something important.  2 Peter 2:19 says, “For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.”  My proposition in this post is that far too often I have been overcome by the constant ringing, chirping and vibrating of my technology and thus I have enslaved myself.

I’ve observed this phenomenon both personally and as a youth pastor.  A few weeks ago I noticed several students texting each other throughout one of our Wednesday night Bible Studies.  The following week, I told everyone to take out their cell phones and rather than turning them to vibrate I asked them to turn them off or at a minimum to turn them on silent.  The silence after my announcement was literally palpable.  What if they missed something?  What if someone wrote them and they didn’t respond back immediately?  You see, most people are willing to put their phones on vibrate because they realize that it’s rude for them to interrupt a service, but if I’m interrupted from my family time, church life, etc. by a vibrating phone that’s just the cost of being available.

Of course young people are not the only ones susceptible to this enslavement, I’ve actually had people who I was counseling pull out their cell phones, WHILE WE WERE TALKING, to see who was texting them!

A reasonable question is, “Why is it that we are so concerned with answering these phones?”  It wasn’t more than 10 years ago that having a cell phone was still something a luxury, so if you wanted to get a hold of someone you’d be more likely to call their house than anything else.  This seems to be one of the principle differences: Before the advent of the cell phone we would call hoping to reach someone and if they weren’t there we’d leave a message and expect them to call back.  Today, we do not call a location, we call a person and if he doesn’t answer we are offended because he’s choosing not to answer.

I have come to realize that it is ridiculous and almost idolatrous to expect people to be available to us 100% of the time.  At the same time, it is a direct manifestation of pride for me to believe that I have to be available all of the time, lest the world fall apart due to my negligence.  So, go get disconnected.

May 25 2009 | Devotional | 4 Comments »

The Death of Dating

In an article titled “The Demise of Dating” columnist Ed Blow explores the recent decline in the dating culture and the rise of the new “hook-up culture.” As if the whole dating thing weren’t bad enough Blow writes:

It turns out that everything is the opposite of what I remember. Under the old model, you dated a few times and, if you really liked the person, you might consider having sex. Under the new model, you hook up a few times and, if you really like the person, you might consider going on a date…It used to be that “you were trained your whole life to date,” said Ms. Bogle. “Now we’ve lost that ability — the ability to just ask someone out and get to know them.” Now that’s sad.

You can find the rest of the article here.

Thanks to Tim Challies for pointing out this article.

December 23 2008 | Blog | Comments Off on The Death of Dating

Recent Youth Baptisms

Here’s a video of some of the recent baptisms that we’ve done here at the church.

December 15 2008 | Blog | Comments Off on Recent Youth Baptisms

High School and Junior High Kidnapping Videos

Every year The River Student Ministries goes kidnapping at the end of the summer and picks up the new 7th Graders (Sevies, as we like to call them) and the new Freshman (on a different day) at an absolutely ungodly hour in order to welcome them to Youth Ministry. Here are the videos of this year’s kidnappings.

High School

Junior High

September 13 2008 | Blog | Comments Off on High School and Junior High Kidnapping Videos

Provocative Quote

The following quote is taken from Christian Smith’s book “Soul Searching” and is quoted in “Family Driven Faith” by Voddie Baucham. If you’re a parent of a teenager or if you work with teenagers, this will provoke some serious thought.

Religious faith and practice in American teenagers’ lives operate in a social and institutional environment that is highly competitive for time, attention and energy. Religious interests and values in teens’ lives typically compete against those of school, homework, television, other media, sports, romantic relationships, paid work, and more…Even basic practices like regular Bible reading and personal prayer seem clearly associated with stronger and deeper faith commitment among youth. We suspect that youth educators and ministers will not get far with youth in other words, unless regular and intentional religious practices become an important part of their larger faith formation.

August 12 2008 | Blog | Comments Off on Provocative Quote

Why the Google Generation isn’t as Smart as it Thinks

This is another great post I read recently about why our society seems to be totally unable to pay attention to one thing. Here’s an excerpt:
On Wednesday I received 72 e-mails, not counting junk, and only two text messages. It was a quiet day but, then again, I’m not including the telephone calls. I’m also not including the deafening and pointless announcements on a train journey to Wakefield – use a screen, jerks – the piercingly loud telephone conversations of unsocialised adults and the screaming of untamed brats. And, come to think of it, why not include the junk e-mails? They also interrupt. There were 38. Oh and I’d better throw in the 400-odd news alerts that I receive from all the websites I monitor via my iPhone.
I was – the irony! – trying to read a book called Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age by Maggie Jackson. Crushed in my train, I had become the embodiment of T S Eliot’s great summary of the modern predicament: “Distracted from distraction by distraction”.
You can find the rest of the article here.

August 11 2008 | Blog | Comments Off on Why the Google Generation isn’t as Smart as it Thinks

Raising a Nation of Wimps

I know that I’ve been off the blog for a couple of weeks and it’s probably pretty lame to start off with several links to articles that I read while I was on vacation but if it’s any consolation I am planning on writing a “real post” later this week, so in the mean time here’s a great article that I just read in Psychology Today. You’ll probably never see me link to this particular organization again, but this was so good that I have to pass it on. It’s on the question “Are We Raising a Nation of Wimps”, something that I’ve been especially interested in lately as I observe the various young people that I come into contact with. Here’s a sample of the article:

Parental protectionism may reach its most comic excesses in college, but it doesn’t begin there. Primary schools and high schools are arguably just as guilty of grade inflation. But if you’re searching for someone to blame, consider Dr. Seuss. “Parents have told their kids from day one that there’s no end to what they are capable of doing,” says Virginia’s Portmann. “They read them the Dr. Seuss book Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and create bumper stickers telling the world their child is an honor student. American parents today expect their children to be perfect—the smartest, fastest, most charming people in the universe. And if they can’t get the children to prove it on their own, they’ll turn to doctors to make their kids into the people that parents want to believe their kids are.”

You can find the rest of the article here.

August 11 2008 | Blog | Comments Off on Raising a Nation of Wimps

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