Parenting

Don't Waste Your Mind (CCS National Junior Honor Society 2019)

This morning, I had the privilege of speaking at the award ceremony for Christ Covenant’s inductees into the National Junior Honor Society. The audience was made up of upper elementary and middle schoolers plus several of the parents and faculty. This audio is only 11 minutes long which means that you could knock it out on a lunch break or on a car ride. Below the audio, I have included the manuscript that I tried to follow along but (as some of you might laugh at) I went “off script” at some points.

First off, I would like to say thank you to Cheri Creel for asking me to deliver this charge to those of you inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. Secondly, I want to congratulate those of you who are being inducted today and those of you who have been inducted already. Just to give you a fair warning, all of you have already achieved more academic awards than I have and I only know of there being one award which you have achieved.

But, what I do know is that those of you who have been inducted and are being inducted in the Society have done so mainly in two ways: Hard work and thoughtfulness. Interestingly enough, these are two of the biggest qualities that seem to be lacking in the world today. You are growing up in a society that no longer treasures wisdom and discretion but rather places value on what’s trending, following your heart, and finding your own inner peace.

Your generation, Generation Z, is the largest generation in America and in twenty years you will not just be the biggest influences in the country but you will control the ideals and values of the country. This could be tragic because the average teenager spends an average of 9 hours online every day. These 9 hours are not filled with much wisdom and discretion but rather they are filled with things like Fortnite videos, Kylie Jenner’s Instagram, sports highlights, Snapchat pictures, Spotify music, and more group texting than you can keep up with. If you lived for 60 more years and spent only an average of 5 hours online or on technology a day, you would spend 12 and a half years on your technology. If you stayed with the average hours of today then you would spend 24 years on technology. The problem with this is that very little of we look at today adds wisdom or discretion to your life.

Now, why do I say all that? You are all around 10-14 years old right now. The average American lives 78 years. If you lived to the average age, you would only have 65 or so years left. But none of you are guaranteed to live that long. Your clock is ticking and you only have a few years left to live this life before you meet your Maker at your death day. You will have to answer to God on that last day what you did between now and then. God has given you one life to live and that life is meant to be lived for His glory at all times and in all ways.

The fact that you are being inducted into this society shows us that God has given you a mind to think, a work ethic and drive to pursue more knowledge, and a desire to discover truth. What a tragedy it would be to spend 12 years or 24 years of your life wasting away before your phone looking at things that have no eternal value when the God of all glory and beauty and majesty offers you a life to glorify Him in the world He has made.

God created this world. He created your mind. He created your personality. He created the era and culture into which you were born and He purposefully put you in this age at this time for a specific purpose. Your ultimate purpose for being on this earth is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. One of the ways you must pursue this is in the offering of your mind to God.

God has given us right thinking in order to produce right living. He has shown us His glory in the world and in the Word and given us minds to think about each one so that we might live out our purpose in our lifetime. When we waste these gifts that God has given us, we don’t just look bad in front of others. Rather, we reveal in our hearts that we could care less about glorifying God and we would rather ourselves get the glory. The fact that God would even allow you to receive this honor is for the purpose of reminding you that you have the capability and responsibility of pursuing Him with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. For, we also need to remember this: What does it matter if you gain the entire world and yet lose your soul?

Wasting your academic gifts can happen in several ways. First, you can immerse yourself in all the studies in the world and yet never seek to know God. Second, you can go a little season of your life reading about God and staying in His Word to only then get busy with other things and go on as if your fine because of your past experiences. Third, you can even seek to know everything God says in His Word and yet never submit to Him in your heart. All of these are a tragedy and far too common in the world and the Church today.

Now, why do I say all that in this way? There have been few things that have discouraged me more than to see students grow up in the church and in solid Christian schools to only grow distant from God in high school, abandon the church in college, and deny the faith altogether. It is also a tragedy, and maybe even a bigger tragedy, to see students who have all the mental capabilities in the world and yet to never open their Bibles to dig into the deepest knowledge that the world has ever known.

God has given us logic for the sake of loving God and loving others. God has given us reasoning skills for the sake of rejoicing in His glory and His gospel. God has given us the ability for reflection and meditation for the sake of gazing upon His beauty. The head is meant to serve the heart. There is no subject so beautiful, so amazing, so majestic, so worthwhile, so jaw-dropping, so gripping, so astonishing, and so breathtaking as the good news that Jesus, very God of very God, became just like us in order to take God’s wrath so that we could actually live a life of glorifying and enjoying God. Jesus died so that He could redeem your mind and mental abilities in order to see and savor His infinite worth and glory. If you are a Christian, you don’t only have the entire world open to you to study but you have all of heaven opened up for you to study! Jesus died in order that you might think, meditate on, reflect on, be challenged by, have your worldview shaped by, and become convicted by the glory of God and your life in this world. You were meant for more than binge watching Netflix, endless Instagram scrolling, and Fortnite marathons.

What this world needs now more than ever is a generation of Christians who use their minds to become enamored by the glory of God. We need a generation who have some sense of the infinite weight of the glory of God and the brokenness of their own sin and the grace that is found in Jesus Christ. We need teenagers in this room to be known as people who are influenced by the greatness and majesty and the glory of God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible. We need people who use their minds to think about how God has revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ and Him crucified. We need people who know how to think about Christ as the universal ruler over all creation. We need humble students who understand what it means to live all of life for the glory of God at all times. We need people who understand the weight of responding to God’s grace in Jesus Christ and that those who don’t respond will have to be banned from His presence forever. We need teenagers who would use their minds above all things to see that the brief little life that they live on this earth will either end in everlasting joy or everlasting pain based on their response to Jesus Christ in His gospel. We need teenagers who will turn this world upside down with the gospel-centered thinking. We need teenagers who will take this gospel into the homes, schools, neighborhoods, churches, and even to foreign countries. We need people who are passionate to use all their mind to pursue knowing God and making Him known.

I challenge you to be this. I challenge you to not take your life lightly. I challenge you to see that even in an award like this God is calling you to a greater life of devotion to Him and for you to go out and call others to devote their lives to HIm. This is what you’ve been made for.


Article: "Technologists...are increasingly wary about exposing their kids to screen time"

I am no technology expert nor am I a cultural expert but merely a mailman delivering documents from the experts. Nevertheless, this is an article, and a topic, that we need to heed. We should never do something just because the masses are doing it as well. How would you react if I suggested the following:

Students should not have a phone until they can drive. OR Students should not have a smartphone until college.

We believe in Christian freedom but can our resolve for Christian freedom with technology actually enslave us? I wonder how many of us, even myself, read the comments of this article and shrink back from it. Here is an excerpt:

Some of the people who built video programs are now horrified by how many places a child can now watch a video.

Asked about limiting screen time for children, Hunter Walk, a venture capitalist who for years directed product for YouTube at Google, sent a photo of a potty training toilet with an iPad attached and wrote: "Hashtag 'products we didn't buy'." Athena Chavarria, who worked as an executive assistant at Facebook and is now at Mark Zuckerberg's philanthropic arm, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, said: "I am convinced the devil lives in our phones and is wreaking havoc on our children." Ms Chavarria did not let her children have cellphones until high school, and even now bans phone use in the car and severely limits it at home.

She said she lives by the mantra that the last child in the class to get a phone wins. Her daughter did not get a phone until she started ninth grade.

"Other parents are like, 'Aren't you worried you don't know where your kids are when you can't find them?'," Ms Chavarria said. "And I'm like, 'No, I do not need to know where my kids are every second of the day'." For longtime tech leaders, watching how the tools they built affect their children has felt like a reckoning on their life and work.

For the full article, click here. For a previous post on technology by Caleb Cangelosi, click here.

"6 Ways to Ruin Your Children" by Jeff Robinson (TGC)

The following is a helpful article by pastor Jeff Robinson. Robinson is a Senior Editor for The Gospel Coalition and pastors Christ Fellowship Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Robinson gives us six ways in which we can radically shape our children for the better (or the worse). The following is an excerpt of the article:

Those early days of parenting often involved paralyzing paranoia. Every time his pacifier hit the ground, we’d boil it for 30 minutes. Every time anyone even looked sick at church, we’d keep him home. The first time he projectile-vomited, I was certain he was dying. There were so many questions: Would he ever get over his deep anxiety at the very sight of bathwater? Was that our fault? Would he ever potty train? Did he suffer from numerous permanent phobias? Would his Christology be orthodox?

If you’ve been a parent for very long, you know of what I speak. There’s a lingering fear, a virtual psychosis, that we will permanently ruin our four children. As a father for 16 years now, I’ve come to realize that a germy pacifier or an irrational fear of thunderstorms are not signs of acute parental failure.

But there are ways you can ruin your children—subtle ways that tend to show up over time. As a parent, I’d grade myself at about a C-minus. (My wife is definitely the valedictorian between the two of us.) So here are six ways—all of which I have been guilty—that you could ruin those who bear your last name, who will someday appear on your auto insurance policy.

For the full article and 6 ways, click here.

Should Kids Have a Smartphone?

The following video is a re-post from The Gospel Coalition website that features Russell Moore, Scott Sauls (PCA), and Trevin Wax in a discussion about whether Christian parents should give their children a smartphone. These discussions can help us think about things that we normally do not think about and help us come to our own wise conclusions about what is most fitting for our children. 

Passing the Torch: Our Commitment to Teach the Next Generation to Sing the Songs of our Savior

The Music Ministry at Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church exists to lead the saints in their service of worship before God and equip them for kingdom work, utilizing God’s gift of music in obedience to His Word. You may not realize when you joined POPC that you joined our largest choir – the congregation. God’s word commands and exhorts us to sing and make music to Him. He created music and he has given this gift to the church to praise and worship Him. He has given each of us a voice to use to sing to Him and each voice is different. You may or may not think your voice sounds very good, but He loves to hear our voices praising Him just as a father delights to hear his child call him “Daddy.”

How do we as a church steward this gift of God? By fully utilizing it corporately in the worship of God every Lord’s Day and individually in our own lives and families. We invest our time, resources and energy to pass these things along to our children, recognizing that they are the worshipers of the next generation. Children’s choir is one of the means by which we seek to train the next generation to use the gift of music in the worship 6 of God. We recognize that we cannot change our hearts or the hearts of our covenant children, but by the grace of God, we can teach children to use their voices, plant the Word of God in their hearts, and show them what worship looks like. We do this, looking in faith to the Holy Spirit to do His work in their hearts.

The two-fold goal of our children’s choirs is to teach our covenant children what God says about singing and worship and to equip them with the skills to use their voices to participate in worship. This teaching and training of our covenant children is a gift that will serve them well their entire lives. This training could mean the difference in a lifetime of mumbling half-heartedly in the pew or singing whole-heartedly and with skill to the Lord as an act of worship. We pray that the Lord will shape our children into life-long worshippers of Him. What greater desire do any of us have for our children?

You have probably heard the statement that most people who come to Christ do so in childhood. I have my own theory that most people who know how to sing and how best to utilize God’s gift of music in their own lives, learned those skills as a child. In my experience, adults who come to me wanting to learn how to sing, often did not have the privilege of musical training as a child. The good news is that it is never too late to learn to sing! But the most opportune time to learn is in childhood.

You might ask, if God commands and equips, why do we need training? In past generations, people regularly sang and made music together inside and outside the church. Today, we are an entertainment-oriented society with the idea that only professional singers sing. We often judge ourselves and others by a false standard given to us by our culture. But God calls us to active participation. Why? Music is His gift but it is also an effective tool for us in the fight of faith as we war against the world, the devil, and our own flesh. Think of how readily we can recall scripture set to music. Can you think of a time of trial or suffering where the music of the church was used by the Holy Spirit as a powerful tool for encouragement or comfort or even chastisement?

We teach our children that what we believe is important by our actions. One of the great blessings of being in a covenant family is the partnership we experience as we join together to teach and train our covenant children. Let us be ever zealous to utilize the gift of music in worship ourselves and pass it along to the next generation that our Lord may receive glory! “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).