How to Create the Best Day Ever For Your Child

The other day I stumbled across a video of Nigel Marsh at TED (http://www.ted.com/) sharing on “How to Make Work-Life Balance Work.”  This is a great video for anyone who is busy, and feels like life is out of balance, to watch… especially busy moms and dads.  It talks about the realities of achieving the perfect balance of work and family, and  how even small efforts we make can have a huge impact in the lives of those we love.  Honestly, Nigel’s dream perfect day is a little different than mine.  As a non-drinker, rather than stopping by the pub, my preference would be Starbucks with a good book.  That being said, the point of the talk is well made.  Here is the video….

If you can’t see the video click here.

Then today I came across this video at Dad-O-Matic (http://dadomatic.com) that shows Nigel’s principle in action.  It demonstrates how a little effort from a dad can light a kids face up, and turn something as simple as a birthday cake into a lifelong memory.

If you can’t see the video simply click here.

The small things we do can make a big difference can’t they?  They small things really do matter, especially to our kids.

What is a small investment you can make in your child today?

Homeless – How Well Would You Do?

spent

This great site put out by Urban Ministries shows the tough choices the homeless and unemployed are forced to make, and why it is so difficult for them to get back on their feet.  Take a few minutes to see how you would do if you were in their shoes.

I did this twice.  The first time I couldn’t find a way to make ends meet without breaking the law.  The second time I made it to the end of the month with $742 in my pocket, but I owed a buddy $150, my phone got shut off, my car was in danger of being repossessed, and I was ignoring both some major tooth and chest pain.

Here is the site…. http://playspent.org/

How well did you do?

How to Help Your Child Make Wise Media Decisions

There is a lot of junk out there for kids to absorb.  TV, music, movies, video games, the internet are all have messages, both good and bad.  So how do you help your child decide what messages are okay to listen to, and which should be ignored?  Here are a few ideas….

pluggedin

1. Plugged In Online –  There are a several good sites out there that review media, but one of my favorites is www.pluggedin.com.  Plugged In Online provides reviews for movies, videos, TV, music, video games, you name it.  This site, which is put out by Focus on the Family, highlights the positives and negatives in each of its reviews, including whether there is swearing, sexual or inappropriate scenes, spiritual content, and more.  In my opinion, Plugged In Online gives parents a balanced perspective to help them decide what their kids should be tuning in to.

2. Parent Link – This resource is put out by Calvary (with the help of Group Publishing) almost every month.  Each issue is packed with articles containing all sorts of parenting advice, but there is always a page dedicated to reviewing new movies, music, and video games.  Look for a new edition in your bulletin this week.

3. Talk to Your Kid – No fancy website or brochure here to help you as a parent guide your kid to making wise media choices, just old fashioned conversation.  Perhaps rather than just flat out telling your kid they can’t watch that TV show, or go see that movie, take the time to explain why.  Explain your convictions.  Bring your faith into the conversation.  Don’t just control your child and tell them they can’t go, but take the time to fully explain why you are taking this stance.  Try to win them over to your opinion.  Try to influence them, not just control them.

4. Limit Your Child’s Media Intake – Even if the content isn’t bad, the quantity can still be harmful.  Some studies show that the average kid spends 8 hours a day consuming media!  Impose some boundaries on your child’s media intake.  I know one family that had a rule that for every minute their kids wanted to play a video game, they had to read their Bible for a minute before they even picked up the controller. Tell your kids to turn off the TV and go outside and play, to go read a book, or to actually go hang out with a friend as opposed to “talking” to them on Facebook all the time.

These are just a few quick ideas for making sure your kids make wise choices when it comes to the media they consume.  What else can parents do to limit the poor media influences in a child’s life?

How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online

Quite often as a children’s pastor I get asked by parents what I recommend to keep their kids safe online.  This is an important question for parents to ask.  The average kid is first exposed to pornography on the internet at age 11.  And beyond pornography, there is a lot of other junk online as well.

There are also a lot of great tools out there to protect kids, and one that I always recommend is Covenant Eyes (http://www.covenanteyes.com/).  The thing I love about Covenant Eyes is that it is more than a filter, it also provides accountability so parents can see when and where their kids are trying to test the limits.

If you have never been heard of Covenant Eyes before I would encourage you to watch the video below to see what it is all about.  Or you could simply come out to parenting class this Sunday that Pastor Clark and I are teaching.  We are going to be meeting in Room 106 at 10:15.  This week we are talking about how parents can monitor and have good conversations with their children regarding the internet, cell phones, television, video games, the whole deal.

Here is the Covenant Eyes promo video….

If you can’t see the video above simply click here.

Same Kind of Different As Me

samekind

I just finished reading Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together (affiliate link).   This is a powerful book.

This story illustrates how one man can make a difference.  But, it’s not the man you would suspect.  You would expect the different maker to be the wealthy art dealer, the man of means.  The hero in this book is not that guy.

In his own words, “There’s somethin’ I learned when I was homeless: Our limitation is God’s opportunity.”  God can take our brokenness and weakness to make a difference.  In fact, he seems to prefer to use broken people.  This book shows that God can use anyone to make a difference in the lives of others.  Ecclesiastes 9:15 puts it this way, “There was found in a certain city a poor man who was wise, and by his wisdom he saved the city.”  This book is about a poor man that makes a huge difference.

It’s also about learning to love others.  It’s about learning to love those that society rejects.  Society may not value those who seem down and out, but God does and he wants us to as well.  This story shows the difference reaching out and loving someone who is unloved can make.  It can change the destiny of not only that person, but the lives of so many more.

This is a great read for parents to read to their slighty older kids (their are some mature themes like racism, slavery, etc..), people who intersted in social justice and social change, or anybody who is interested in loving people more like Christ loves them.

This is a short book that I would encourage everybody to read at some point.  You can pick up a copy here in softcover from Amazon or here on Kindle.

Welcome Home

snow

Somehow we made it, and we actually made it early.  Becky, Jack and I spent this past week in Missouri visiting family.   When we heard there was a major snowstorm heading towards the northeast on Sunday & Monday we were a little nervous as our flights home were scheduled for Monday night.  Then we started hearing of 1,000’s of cancelled flights, and travelers stranded until Thursday.  So when it came time to leave for the airport we were a little concerned about getting stuck in Chicago where our layover was.  But, they still hadn’t cancelled our flight, so we jumped in the car and headed for Lambert Airport.  By the time we made it on the plane to Boston they had one runway open at Logan, and we were actually able to land 9 minutes early.

Ironically, the last time we were back to Missouri it was the summer and we were concerned we were not going to make it back then as well as a hurricane was heading up the east coast.  We made it back to Mass then too, that time right on schedule and a little before the storm arrived.

We didn’t make it back before the storm this time though, so I still have about 2 feet of snow to clear off my drive way!  Welcome home.

Blessed

blessed

Yesterday I stumbled across The Global Rich List.    I took the time to enter my annual income, and when I saw the results I was thinking, “Wow, I am pretty well off compared to a lot of people.”  Then I realized that I had inadvertently left a zero off of the end of my income.  When I put the right amount in I realized that compared to a vast majority of the world my family is extremely extremely blessed.

Most of us don’t realize how blessed we truly are.  We compare ourselves to billionaires like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Saudi Princes.  Often we dream about what we do if we had their kind of money.  The irony is that much of the world dreams about having as much money as  you and I do.  They dream of being able to put food on the table, or drink clean water or go to school.  Forget dreaming of a house with plenty of rooms and a built in pool, many people around the world just dream of having a roof, of any kind, over their head.

If you haven’t done it already visit the The Global Rich List.  See how much you have compared to most of the world.  Then, take the time to be thankful for all you have this holiday season.  Take the time to teach your children how blessed they are.

Out Live Your Life [Book Review]

Does Jesus still do it?  Doe he still use ordinary people, like us, to change the world?  The answer to that question, is found in Max Lucado’s Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference, and the answer is yes.  Working through the book of Acts, Max lays out how God uses regular everyday people to make a big difference in our world.

And our world needs someone to make a big difference.  Max writes,

These are devastating times: 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, 1 billion are hungry, millions are trafficked in slavery, and pandemic diseases are gouging entire nations.  Each year nearly 2 million children are exploited in the global sex trade.  And in the five minutes it took you to read these pages, almost ninety children died of preventable diseases.  More than half of all Africans do not have access to modern health facilities.  As a result, 10 million of them die each year from diarrhea, acute respiratory illness, malaria, and measles.  Many of those deaths could be prevented by one shot.

Sobering.  Our world is in great need.  Again, our world needs someone to make a big difference.  The lesson learned from Outlive Your Life is that God wants to use average people, like you and me, to make a dent in these problems.  The question is, will we let him use us?

If your looking for a great read that will challenge you to do more with your life, I would recommend this book.  If you’re interested in picking up a copy you can buy it here from Christian Book Distributors, or here from Amazon.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers. 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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Recent Reading

Fairly often I get asked what I am reading.  Here are a few books I just finished, or currently have down off the shelf…

old books

Look Unto Me: The Devotions of Charles SpurgeonFor $5 this book is a steal.  I have been reading this book devotionally on-and-off for some time now, and the days I do read it I am always challenged.

The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns – Our church takes the month of October to focus on missions, so my Home Care Group decided to work through The Hole In Our Gospel by World Vision’s Richard Stearns.  Some of the group may have just participated in watching the DVDs.  Those, however,  who took the time to read the book as well were additionally challenged to do more to fight against world hunger, lack of clean water, education, shelter, medication, and for billions of people around the world a lack of an adequate presentation of the gospel.

Think Orange by Reggie Joiner – I have slowly been reading through this book by Reggie on family ministry.  We just started using Orange Curriculum in our main children’s services at Calvary this past week so I thought I would read through the book as well.   This book is a must read for any pastor, but especially for children or youth pastors.  It discusses engaging parents in what is going on at church with their kids, recruiting mentors to work with families, provoking kids and parents to work on their relationship, and a whole lot more.

The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook by Ben Mezrich – This is a bit of guilty pleasure reading for me.  It’s my nerd side coming out.  I just love finding out how successful companies, organizations and people got started…. especially when it involves computers.  🙂

No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come-as-you-are Culture in the Church by John Burke – As a pastor I always try to be reading something on the church.  This book is a great read to get you thinking about what we could do as a church to be more inviting to those in a post-Christian culture.

Primal by Mark Batterson – I’ll probably say more about this book in a later post, but this book is a great for anyone who is looking for more depth in their relationship with God.  Primal is about getting back to an authentic Christian faith.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin – I honestly haven’t picked this book up in a while.  But I love reading history.

Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush – Just like history, biography isn’t something I read real consistently, so this auto-biography by Laura Bush has been on my shelf (actually my kindle) for a while, but I am slowly getting through it.

Well, that’s what I have been reading?  Any recommendations on what I should read next?

A Question [Great Quotes]

“Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering and injustice when He could do something about it.”

Kids Poverty

Photo courtesy of © flickr.com/photos/foto_amazonas/114501289

“Well, why don’t you ask Him?”

“Because I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.”

– Anonymous