The Real Facts About the Latest Generation!

blog phoneI’ve heard it in bits and pieces and had already decided that the smartphone was the defining factor of this generation approaching adulthood. Now I came across a substantive article that has hard data behind what it says. The point is not to bash this generation. How could we? Wouldn’t it be more a reflection of we who are as the generation raising them?

The truth is that every generation has its strengths and weaknesses. That translates to the latest generation being better in a few categories, but its problems are of concern and worthy of our attention.

This generation lives with its parents knowing where they are far more than any generation alive today. For that reason, you could say that they are physically safer. They tend to be less motivated to drive and have fewer wrecks. Their average age of the first sexual encounter is actually older than the last several generations – that’s certainly a plus. If you dig through the data in the article, you will see more of this type of positive information.

Strangely enough, some of their biggest problems springs from the same areas. This is the least-interested-in-independence generation we’ve seen. If they have a nice bedroom, in which to lay and be on their smart phones, they are satisfied. The article mentioned several of them have an indention in their bed from lying there on the phone so much. Many of them are not really interested in driving. Does that surprise you as much as me? Many of them are developmentally at least two years behind.

While the rate of teen homicide is down (that’s a plus!), the rate of teen suicide is far higher. Quite frankly, many of them are not happy. The article explained how the ones who are on their smart phones over the average rank much higher on the chart of unhappiness and suicidal feelings.

The article, which was not in a Christian publication, mentioned sports, other activities, and less social media as having great improvement in the data on being happy and not feeling suicidal. Although the article wasn’t Christian in any way, I couldn’t help but notice that those young people very active in what the author called “religious activities”, fared much better as well. I suppose the data will always bear out that the parents who forget God in their home will reap a whirlwind in their children.

Here’s the great article that you will want to ingest slowly: Has Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

There’s so much more in this article. Read it for yourself. We parents need some deep reflection about whether our homes are just going to be like the average of the world today, or are we going to swim upstream to go after different results. May the Lord help us all in the choppy waters that we Christian parents now navigate.

That Rough Patch Called Transitioning To Adulthood

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I’ve been reminded of late just how tough that period in life where you have to figure out what you’re going to do when you grow up really is. I can remember that in my own life, but it seems so long ago that the memories are in black and white. My oldest, Briley, is at that place where she has to decide, and her brother, Caleb, the meticulous planner, is engulfed in it as well. Sadly, if anything, it’s harder to figure out these days.

An article in National Review by Oren Cass entitled “Teaching to the Rest” highlighted just how tough it is. According to the author, the 3 million recent high school graduates can be divided into approximately five equal categories. The first group didn’t even make it to high school graduation (remember one fifth of 3 million is 600,000!). The second group will pursue no further education. The third group will enroll in college but never graduate. The fourth group will graduate college, but will never work in the field they got their degree in. Only the final group will go through college and work in a field that they studied for. I don’t know about you, but those statistics shock me.

As you can imagine in that particular magazine, the article goes on talking about the political changes that need to be made in our educational system. The author’s ideas were wonderful, but excuse my cynicism in thinking that either the government or teachers unions would give his thoughts the time of day.

He alludes to, and you’ve probably heard it from other quarters as well, that there is a dearth of young people going into trades. In other words, a college education may not be the best case scenario as was universally believed when I graduated high school. Besides the fact that many public universities have lost their way and are so out of the mainstream that they actually steer young people away from success, there’s the issue that you might be financially worse off to go to college. On the one hand, many college students today embark upon their career with a disastrous financial situation because of college debt. A trade could be learned for a fraction of the cost with a similar starting salary but without the oppressive debt.

It grieves me to say this, but even for my children who want to follow my steps into the ministry, the possibility of making a full-time income from it over the course of their whole working lives seems unlikely. The rapid decline of Christianity in our day means that all in ministry may be tentmakers like Paul in the years ahead. That likelihood means even young people considering ministry will need a trade or profession to fall back on. I haven’t lost faith that the Lord can provide what’s needed for our calling, just that He he may actually start calling more to a bi-vocational ministry.

I’m totally sympathetic to my children. The gravity with which they view their choices for the future is commensurate to current events. I never want to be guilty of calling my children to the ministry or any other profession. My wife, Alicia, has already been warning our children of the need to have a trade for some time.

I’ve decided this rough patch of transition into adulthood is tough for parents too. You’d like to make it easier for them. You’d like for them to be able to pick it without reservations and feel perfectly at peace with their choices, but the reality is they go through all kinds of options. You have to balance telling them the ideas they have that probably will not work out well to not being overly controlling and telling them what they have to do with their lives. It’s tough. It’s times like this that I’m so happy that my children know the same Lord that I do. I’ve had times of not knowing the way and being afraid, and had to learn to wait on the Lord.

I guess this post is not really instructional. I really can’t see that I gave any good advice. But I guess I’m just putting in writing a plea to my children to trust the Lord with an acknowledgment that Daddy loves you and has confidence in you. I’m tempted to close my eyes and hide until the Lord grows your faith and leads you through this, but by faith let’s just go through it together.

Your Marriage Masterpierce by Al Janssen

I’ve read several great marriage books, but what stands out about this one is how inspirational it is. Others are better in explaining key Bible teaching on marriage, and yet others in practical detail, but this one stands out in making you want to be what you should be in your marriage and fulfill God’s will in showing grace.

Janssen clearly excels in creative writing. The book is a joy to read. He uses Bible stories and personal marriage vignettes to make his point. In his Bible stories, he stretches some of them a little beyond what the text can bear, but he makes some great points too. His use of Adam and Eve was his best and most thought provoking.

One of the things that he gives us that I find too often missing is his call to sacrifice in our marriages as our Lord does for us. He believes in protection from gross abuse and practicing tough love in serious situations, but he compels us to sacrifice in our relationship. Sacrifice can feel like pain at times, but that is exactly too what the Lord has done. So many run when loving endurance would not only have honored the Lord, but also likely yielded a great marriage. Simply sticking it out helps many as most couples who dedicate themselves to the marriage, usually rate their marriage great five years later. Selfishness makes many run. For example, he uses Hosea and Gomer, as well as a modern-day Hosea and Gomer to well make his point. (Chapter 14 is riveting).

This turns out to be an updated edition, but somehow I missed the earlier one. In any event, it is a jewel. 

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue by J. A. Myhre 


Here’s a children’s book that will be loved in any Christian home. The plot is set in Africa and has the unique thrills of that continent. The author, J. A. Myhre, is a doctor in Africa. Her 20 years in Africa makes her able to visualize accurately situations there. The stories here began as stories for her own children and it’s a blessing that they are available for children everywhere.

The story transports us to the life of an amazing girl named Kiisa. She is dropped by her father at a school where she feels out of place and has to take a stand to do right and suffers for it. A little bird befriends her and encourages her. Later, the story becomes riveting when the school is attacked. What Kiisa does makes the story ( I don’t want to give away the plot!).

Beyond the gripping nature of the story itself is the description of the unsugarcoated nature of evil in our world and the right kind of courage in its presence. This story challenges our children to be righteously courageous in our world. I recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

A Helpful New Marriage Book

It’s a marriage book unlike any other. It’s specifically for the scenario of a strong women, so strong they use the word “fierce”,  and a more naturally easy-going guy. Written by a couple, Leroy and Kimberly Wagner, who fits this description perfectly, who made all the mistakes, learned from them, and by God’s grace triumphed in Christian marriage. It must resonate dramatically in our day as its impetus was their discussion of what they learned being the #1 segment of 2015 on Focus on the Family. 

The book barely touches on how we may have such an increase in this type of marriage situation, things like the gender confusion of our day, and just focuses instead on what two people who love the Lord must understand. This book is geared toward the men, how they have failed even if she is too strong, and how Servant Leadership can be brought to bear to get the Christian marriage we sincerely want.

One of the biggest failures a man in this type marriage can do is be so passive he checks out. It actually leads to making her more fierce and he carries some blame. The key is fixing your part, taking your responsibilities and doing it for Jesus’ sake if you can’t push through to do it for her.

The book is amazing. I assure you it isn’t trite platitudes as some marriage books tend to be, but real substance that you can get your heart and mind around. I give it the highest possible rating.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Eternal Salvation–A Christian Movie Review

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Eternal Salvation is an excellent Christian movie. The wooden acting that has plagued some Christian films is no where to be found in this movie. The plot will grab your attention throughout. My wife and children watched this film with me and we give it a family thumbs up. You will love this Dove-approved Eternal Salvation DVD.

The story is of an unsaved family man who is a high-profile investment banker. He survives a brain aneurysm, but faces struggles in recovery and with his job and protege. Through that difficult time and the help of a Christian friend he finds Christ. There are more issues after his salvation that help him deepen his faith. His wife and daughter find the Lord as well. There is fine drama in telling this story that makes for a fine viewing experience.

I might quibble over the portrayal of his daughter’s conversion. It was not made clear that she had to have  a personal faith herself. Plus my children all noticed that she was an older girl than the part she was playing. Still, this is a film I recommend for your family.

You can check out a variety of similar Christian DVDs here. Fishflix is allowing me to offer you a $5 coupon to their site if you join their email list. You can join by visiting www.fishflix.com/5gift or texting 5-GIFT to 44222. I get no kickback on this coupon, but am happy for other families to have this resource.

I received this DVD free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Raised To Release–A Great Book For Christian Parents

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It’s the big question about raising children–what exactly are we raising them to be? What results are we aiming at? The world offers no guidance for sure. Enter Victor and Esther Flores into the discussion and see how scriptural what they say really is. It will ring true as you read this volume subtitled “a missional mandate for parents.”

They base their discussion on the famous text of Psalms 127:4. I must confess that I have read and heard much over the last 20 years on that text, but it is invariably about the full quiver, or having as many children as is possible. While having a large family can be an incredible blessing ( I have 6 children myself), that is not really the whole point of what that text is trying to say.

This book approaches the text more accurately. The authors were challenged by a quote by Jim Elliot from this text. He said that arrows are made to shoot and so we should shoot them straight at the Enemy! The authors said, “This is not a book about how to have a great family and raise great kids, but how to see our great God’s message advanced through family!” Wow, that is refreshing.

There is much good here. Chapter 4 even gives great insight into marriage. Ultimately, this book serves as a great reminder that our children are ours only for a season and for a far greater purpose than merely adding joy to our own lives.  Many even with conservative principles shelter their children only to keep them forever.

I loved how they discussed having to trust the Lord as some of their children took challenging and dangerous missions trips. Perhaps, this is also a reminder of the scriptural idea of letting go so they can seek and fulfill God’s will for their lives.

Practical and helpful, easy to read, and sincere describe this book. I highly recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .

Ready To Return by Ken Ham

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Ken Ham returns to a subject that he has written on before–our losing the younger generation from the faith. As you would expect from this famous creationist, he sees the denial of the historicity of the Genesis account as part of it. Still, he and co-author Jeff Kinley, assisted by researcher Britt Beemer, probe deeper to all aspects of moral relativism and an insufficient view of God’s Word that have brought on this problem.

The research is at once fascinating and heartbreaking. His assessments of why we are where we are seem spot on. When he shares that children being raised in Sunday School are leaving churches and the faith at a higher rate than those who weren’t, we get the greatest shock of all. His explanation that how we teach Bible “stories” is adding to the problem gets one thinking.

The book is excellent, the analysis keen. The only downside is there is a bit of repetition at times. Still, he looked at issues from several vantage points. Public school was shown to statistically predict a bad turnout for children. He well showed differences in only borrowing someone else’s faith. The chart on page 99 showing “renters” versus “owners” well illustrated the problem.

Chapter 9 was the best as he gave a plan that used the Bible as the basis for our raising our kids with results different than these dismal statistics he shared. His analysis of current trends nationally shared in appendixes was helpful. This book is a fine resource!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .

New Marriage Book by Fawn Weaver

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The title is intriguing. I expected it was promising more than it could deliver, but equally figured it would have good principles to think about. It turned out that way, but I was surprised that the author claimed that she and her husband had never argued. Besides being unbelievable, how could one who had never argued know how to overcome it? They had never, sadly, had children and so could not speak with authority on a vital part of marriage. They seemed to have such busy lives that I found myself doubting that they were around each other as most couples are.

She did relate some discussions that sounded like arguments to me. That braggadocio stance was a little much for my taste too. Still, the information shared would help if both husband and wife committed to it.

Some of it was basic, yet well written and told in a way that makes you realize you need to work at it: don’t go to bed angry, don’t accelerate the argument, etc. The last week of the 28-day challenge was primarily about finances, but was helpful too.

I’ll rate 4 stars–helpful with some caveats.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

A Lesson In Light Of The Duggars (IBTR #69)

You have surely heard the firestorm of news that involved the Duggar family over the last week. I will not add in this article to the piling on that has been done to them, but want to consider an issue that their story suggests that fits this series.

As for the Duggars, my heart goes out to them. I was not a fan of their show personally, but that is only because I can’t endure reality TV. There is just something about sitting on a couch in my living room watching a family on TV sitting on a couch in their living room that just does not appeal to me. But it was nothing personal, my children loved it, and I had no problem with that.

I have spent a good deal of time talking about this story with my wife, and again, I feel sorry for them. It appears that situations involving minors are a sealed subject by law for everyone else in America, so I don’t get that. A lot of people have said the girls involved are the issue, but in the sloppy way this was told to the extent of revealing victims, the girls have been victimized all over again, so I don’t get that either. There is probably a lot we don’t know, but I wish every story of sin looked so beautifully redeemed 12 years later, so I don’t get that either.

I wish I could believe this really wasn’t about the family taking a stand on homosexuality, but I am struggling not to—there are a lot of rattling skeletons in closets out there, but why the great steps to expose them here? The only point from the other side I see is that in light of this situation it likely would have been a good idea to not do a reality TV show. But it is easy to pontificate after the whole story and its consequences are out, rather than in the caldron of such a family crisis where the way forward might not look so clear. In any event, I am glad the show is off the air so this family can focus on each other and recovery without so much spotlight.

So, how does this story suggest a discussion in this Truth Revolution series that involves the Independent Baptist world? It has to do with all-too-prevalent and erroneous ideas about raising children that too often find a home in our circles. I am in no way an expert in child-rearing. My children are not yet raised. But I can discuss one thing my wife and I have learned on this journey.

We have been told that we can raise our children by a certain formula and it will guarantee results. Some latched on to the Duggars (which is not the fault of the Duggars) as proof it can be done. I really don’t even know if they ever said such a thing, but some did it (and the rest of this article is not about them at all).

The plan for many came to include much sheltering, courtship as the only path to marriage, side hugs, and the first kiss being at the wedding, or some similar variations on the theme. Of course, we all know that there is some level of sheltering in raising children. There must be clear boundaries too. But does that Independent Baptist process guarantee results? Or has the process once again overtaken the goal?

Is the process just an oppressive set of guidelines to be rigidly followed? Or should each set of parents take the matter to the Lord? And do you really believe that was the first kiss at the wedding anyway for many who proclaim it?

And are there any guarantees anyway? My children have free will and a sin nature and that may cause problems. Even worse, me and their mother have a free will and a sin nature as well and often fail to execute parenting even at the level we actually want to, and that will cause problems. I am not always the Daddy I want to be, I do not always live by every principle I believe in, and quite frankly, sometimes I blow it.

If I am not careful, I will only focus on the process, which is oriented to their behavior. That overlooks the other dynamic—my behavior. My children and I are probably pretty equal in behavior that is off. Side hugs alone will not fix that.

My wife and I have grown on our journey to love the idea of realness with our children. Don’t take me wrong, we still have discipline and boundaries, but our own crossing of boundaries is worthy of family discussion too. We put up safeguards, but we can survive if they kiss their prospective spouse before the wedding day. We pray we can teach them what they do need to wait on before marriage. That is, however, a matter of prayer and wait and see. Other parents have been disappointed before and we are not so special, nor have such a great process, that we know we are above things not going as we planned.

That brings us to the biggest truths about raising children. It needs humility and prayer more than a process. If it goes well, it will be the grace of God. Our best bet is to be real, but distinctly Christian, to admit our mistakes as readily as we correct theirs, and to throw them and us on the mercy of the Lord.

We must not teach our children that the process is the way either or we will only throw on them the error of our generation. Thinking that we could focus solely on externals and some how please the Lord has done a number on many of us. Let’s not do that to them, or if they fail, they will have nothing left to do but walk away as damaged goods. That will make them miss the wonder of the grace of God, and what could possibly be worse than that?

There is a reason the Proverbs say, “My son, give me thine heart”. It is the heart, it will always be the heart, and no process can capture a heart. It will take more than that–far more.

Find all articles in the series here.

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