Archive for the ‘Life As We Know It!’ Category

failing-grade-mNot many of us particularly want to fail at anything in life…and for me that goes for anything from my marriage, family, career…and all the way to checkers and video games.  Bottom line…I like to win!  And if we’re being truthful, well…don’t we all?  We live in a society where we reward people for just about anything, and in fact, in our attempt at fairness and equality, we’ll give out medals and ribbons just for showing up!

Now for the record, I do think there’s some benefit to downplaying the ‘win-at-all-costs’ attitude, especially for those parents that try to live vicariously through their children.  But I also think our society has gone a little overboard with the paranoia that not rewarding a 17th place finish may just hurt little Timmy’s feelings and crush him for life!  It’s a delicate balance for sure as a parent to reward and strive for the right things, yet to also acknowledge the realities that not everyone wins at everything in life.  We’re dealing with that in the lives of our children right now.  Yesterday we were at a family bbq and games night at our church, and there was a game where you could win a glass jar with a goldfish.  One of our kids won…the other came up short.  You would have thought it was the end of the world to not take home a $.50 goldfish!  But to offset the remorse of the kids who didn’t get a goldfish, they did end up walking out with a ‘consolation’ prize for…yep…just stepping in line and trying.

Again, I think it’s good to offer rewards, but when our kids are raised in an environment that can’t tolerate any mention or notion of failure, it really causes me to ask; “what kind of kids are we raising, and will they be able to handle the inevitable rejection and failure that awaits us at some level in life (school tests, job interviews, rejection letters from post-secondary schools, dating relationships, sports…)?”  I mean, even the bible makes it pretty clear that it’s not the goal of a devoted Christ-follower to just be in the race, but to strive and press on towards the prize (Heaven, a life in pursuit of Christ…hearing God say “well done good and faithful one…nice work!).  At some point you have to make a decision as to whether or not you’re gonna actually get in the game and do something…there’s not much fanfare mentioned in scripture for those who simply ‘participate.’  But that’s a discussion for another post!!

So I found it refreshing today when I found this article from Rhett Smith waiting for me in my inbox.  Rhett is a professional counselor and author, and contributes to numerous article on family and parenting with the Fuller Youth Institute.  His article adeptly addresses the same question I asked above, and elaborates on the theology and fear of failure, as well as what parents can do to actually embrace failure as sacred and fertile ground for growth in our lives, and our kids.  You’ll also find some helpful action steps to take as a family so you can start the process of assessing failure as a tool to move ahead, not behind!

rockwellThe world we live in is void of innocence…plain & simple.  Just flip the flat screen or smart phone on…take a glance at the news…switch on your ipod or itunes store…heck…just take a stroll in the mall and watch culture unfold before your very eyes.  There’s not much innocence left in our world.  Provocative attire, violence and chaos, disillusioned worldviews from celebrities & world influencers…and that’s just on Global, Teletoon and TVO!

I might be over-exaggerating a little, but today’s culture is definitely exposed to a much broader range of in-your-face social messages vying for our attention…especially with Gen Z.  As the parent of a 9, 7, and 2-year-old, although I embrace the advances of technology and culture, I also feel a nervous tension of the world of change, expectations and exposure awaiting my kids.  Our 9 year-old daughter is already gradually entering the stage of laying aside her dolls, stuffed animals and lego…and gravitating increasingly towards the world of ipods, fashion…and yes…boys!  She still has a solid level of innocence within her, but with each passing week of exposure to social media, school, friends and the world-at-large, that innocence begins to subtly erode away.

So at what point did we start to, somewhat, loose our little girl?

Today I read a post from Jonathan McKee addressing this very question.  His post, Tossing Aside Innocence…in 1954, is a reflection of a visit he took to a local art museum, and upon viewing a particular painting, blogged about his observations.  The painting was Norman Rockwell’s 1954 classic simply named Girl at Mirror (above).  It’s a great piece of art for youth and parents to reflect on with each other about the struggle young girls face (and boys too) face when innocence intersects with increased cultural exposure & pressure.

Notice her fragile hands, the tossed aside doll, the open magazine with the ‘mature’ model, the beauty accessories beside her…all precursors of the conflict and tension that resides within young people as they break out of their sheltered innocence, and enter the arena of self-perception and the battle for self-esteem.  And if Rockwell captured the plight and tension of young girls in 1954, how much more have those tensions ramped up in our digital and social media-driven age of no-innocence?

What are your thoughts as you sit back and gaze into this timeless snap shot of culture in motion?

With kids and parents across North America set to hit the streets tonight for Halloween, I thought I’d post this re-blog article from Winfield Bevins at The Resurgence re: a response for those Christians who aren’t quite sure how to handle Halloween.  For me personally, I’ve always held the opinion that I respect either stance…both for and against participating in Halloween, but withhold respect from those who try to push their conviction & agenda, either way, on the rest of us.

I will say that I think there’s a difference between celebrating, and participating in something.  The differences may be subtle (i.e. we celebrate Christmas, Easter…we participate in Halloween, ).  Often times participating can denote acceptance, or at least tolerance.  But I think Christians on both sides get a bad rap on the Halloween debate.  Those that choose to refrain from anything to do with the event get labelled as freaks, bible thumpers & irrelevant, and those that chose to participate get tagged as hypocrites, worldly and endorsing paganism.  Obviously there are those who sit waaaay too far on the left & right on the debate, and those are the ones that generally cause unwarranted stereotypes and stigmas.

So I’ll refrain from getting into further ‘preaching & teaching’ mode here, and leave you with the article.  Enjoy!

For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who thee by faith before the world confess,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

William W. How

I am the proud dad of three little girls, and recently they have been invited to several Halloween parties, not to mention their school’s annual Halloween bash. It’s not always obvious, and I am not alone—many Christians are baffled at what to do with Halloween.

So what are we as Christians to do with Halloween? Here are a few things to take into consideration as you discern how you, your family, and your church should handle Halloween.

1. DON’T BE A FREAK
So many Christians are just downright weird when it comes to Halloween. What I mean is they retreat from the world, lock their doors, turn off their lights and get under the covers on Halloween night. Worse yet, they judge other people by whether or not they celebrate Halloween. I think some Christians can and do turn non-believers off by their attitudes about Halloween.

2. BE MISSIONAL
I think Halloween is one of the best opportunities to be missional throughout the year. Every year, my family and I get together with some other families for a meal and then we go through a small, kid-friendly neighborhood together to collect candy. It is very innocent. Every year I have a chance to talk about Christ as we walk through the neighborhood. Don’t miss the moments and opportunities that the Lord may be giving you to share and live out your faith.

3. SET BOUNDARIES
I am not advocating a wholesale celebration of Halloween. Much of it is dark and can introduce your children to the occult. I encourage you to use discernment, prayer, and set boundaries as needed. There are times when we can and should say no if it is going to compromise our faith in Christ. I can’t tell you what to do in every situation—how that plays out depends entirely on you and your context.

4. TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN
Talk to your children about Halloween. Tell them about the history behind it and warn them about the dark side that can and does so often get associated with the holiday. Children are smart, and Halloween can be a teaching time to share with your children and others the gospel of Christ.

5. DON’T JUDGE OTHERS
Lastly, don’t judge others when it comes to celebrating Halloween. Good Christians can and do disagree on this issue. Some Christians feel very strongly about not celebrating Halloween while others have no problem with it at all. I believe that it is an open-handed issue, and that each Christian must seek the Lord and obey their conscience. You have to decide what is right for you and your family when it comes to celebrating Halloween.

For further reading on the history of Halloween and more on what Christians should know about the holiday, read last year’s article from Justin Holcomb

It goes without saying that life is full of lessons, but how much we’ve really learned from those lessons of life…that’s the question!  These past 2 years, especially, have been chock full of lessons for myself, as well as our family.  But as any student fully realizes, success is not all about the information and amount of lessons we sit through, but it’s how we assess and implement that information into our lives that is the real measuring stick of ‘success’ in life.

In one word…it’s all about wisdom.  Wisdom is taking information and life lessons, and learning how to assimilate that knowledge into practical life transformation.  From the observations I’ve made in my life journey, the wisest people I have met are the ones who have a teachable heart and spirit, or as I like to refer to them, ‘open door‘ people.  An open door person is someone who can freely give and receive correction & advise..the door swings both ways and is just as open on the way in as it is on the way out.  They’re people who can both teach, and be teachable.  They’re open to learning without being defensive when someone suggests there could be a better way.  On the other hand, brick wall people are those that always think theirs is the best way, and become very defensive when their way is called into question.  Unlike open door people, brick wall folks are not very teachable, and when dealing with them…well…it’s like walking into a brick wall!

I’m thankful I’ve come a long way into increasingly becoming more of an open door person, but unfortunately I’ve found myself living as a brick wall person more times over the years than I’d care to admit.  I’ve learned and grown a great deal over the past 10+ years, with the past 2 years being some of the deeper growth I’ve ever experienced.  I fully believe that God speaks to us through His revealed Word (bible), His Spirit, and also through circumstances and people.  There’s been many times in my life where I was heading in the wrong direction, and needed a little course correction in my journey.  And one of the ways God often brings this awareness to us is through the words of those godly people around us who care enough to have the hard conversations with us.

One of the voices I’ve found quite helpful and have learned much from afar is from James MacDonald, sr. pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.  Here’s what he had to say recently in one of his weekly Walk in the Word devotionals;

ARE YOU TEACHABLE? –James MacDonald 

Are you a teachable person? Proverbs 17:10 says, “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” In other words, you can get more ROI (Return on Investment) from a wise person in one gentle conversation than you can gain from a fool by whacking him with a board a hundred times. Which are you?

If you’re not sure how you rate on the teachability meter, take this five-point quiz:

1. I know I’m teachable when people give me input. When people feel free to give you a word of improvement, it’s a good sign that you’re teachable. Nobody wants to risk cleaning up a meltdown if the person can’t receive a difficult word. Don’t try to tell him he’s not headed in the right direction because he’ll bite your head off. The fool is always deeply persuaded that what he is doing is right. A teachable person will receive input.

2. I know I’m teachable when I see measurable growth and character development in myself. If you’re changing for the good, then you’re teachable. If you’re not the same person you were last year at this time, godly instruction has produced results in your life and there’s growth because of it.

3. I know I’m teachable when I don’t have to answer a critic with a defenseMore often than I ever want to be, I’m in the uneasy position of giving people input. As hard as that is, I love to sit down with a person who can hear a difficult word with an open heart and without defensiveness. It’s been my repeated observation that those who are receptive to criticism flourish!

4. I know I’m teachable when I don’t have to criticize back. The classic symptom of an unteachable person is that they will listen to what you say, all the while framing their comeback, “Now let me tell you something . . .” Can you keep your defenses down and pride in check?

5. I know I’m teachable when I’m learning new ways to growIf people have been telling you the same stuff for years, you’re not teachable. If you’ve grown out of those old issues and are now on to new lessons, you’re on the right track.

So let me ask you…are you more like an open door…or a brick wall?  What evidence do you see in your life to make that evaluation?  It might be worthwhile to ask someone who you trust, and who knows you well, for their honest input. And when you get that input…take their response to heart!

Back in the summer I posed the question: Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?, which included an online test you could take to assess a possible smartphone addiction.  Well today I came across an infograph asking the same question…but it just sounds so much better when it’s asked in sweet colours!

What does the research say?  I’ll let you read on, but here’s a couple things I found interesting;

  • Less all-nighters for students– despite the vast amount of time spent on digital devices, many people rise-and-shine with phone-in-hand and ready to start the digital study day, as opposed to falling asleep cramming in those late nights.
  • “Can’t Live Without It”!– a whopping 65% stated that they felt life might not be possible without their smartphone…wow!  I know SP’s are quite helpful and entertaining, but I think I could go on living without one…I think…!
  • Mobile Shopping– 26% stated they use their SP for mobile/online shopping.  I guess it helps to shorten those mall rush line-ups during the Christmas season!
  • Party People– 58% indicated they use their SP in social settings (uploading photos, status updates, etc…)
  • Apples Are Happy!– 52% of Apple users seem to be more optimistic and upbeat about life, as opposed to only 28% of Android users.  Well I don’t know about that…I think it has something to do with the end of the world, and the fact that the global economy is in shambles, and things aren’t like they used to be…I gotta go surf on my Samsung Galaxy… 😉