That’s outrageous! No, really. Talking with young people about Bible stories

This Sunday church festival of Pentecost.  The arrival of the Holy Spirit, as tongues of fire.  The birth of the church.  Speaking in different languages. Pouring out the Spirit.

Some outrageous stuff, no?

The Holy Spirit kind of is outrageous.  Adults have difficulty articulating how the Holy Spirit works in and around us.  Preachers struggle with including the Holy Spirit alongside the other two parts of the Trinity, God and Jesus.  It’s all quite crazy when we stop and think about it.  And therein lies our problem.

As adults we tend toward wanting to explain Bible stories and we feel ‘less than’ when we can’t explain.  Since very few of us want to feel ‘less than’ we shy away from discussing Bible stories with young people.  Sound familiar?  Yeah, me too.

Here’s the thing.  I don’t think young people struggle with outrageous Bible stories as much as adults do. They like hearing the stories and don’t worry near as much about the outrageous.  Oh, they’ll ask questions for certain (thank God for that) and there will be times we don’t know the answer.  News flash, it happens to pastors who are Dads and Grandpas, too!  AND THAT IS OKAY.  Not a thing wrong with that.  No one has all the answers and in truth, very few of us have many answers at all.

Having the answers isn’t the point.  Having the discussion is the point.  And there are few places better to have a discussion than the Bible stories because they really do connect with real life.  Well, with the exception of 1 and 2 Chronicles maybe but that’s another discussion for another time. 🙂  Faith doesn’t come from a pool of information but instead comes from the transformation of living in faith.

Prayers for all of you as you form the faith reading and talking about the Bible stories!  And if you get a question you want some help with, let me know.  We can figure it out together!

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Social Media and the Ten Commandments

I like social media used well, in particular Facebook and Twitter.  Instagram to a lesser extent.  But social media makes me crazy in many ways.  It is a good way to send out massive amounts of bad or misleading theology.  It is a convenient way to be passive aggressive.  It is too common a forum for bullying.
How do people of faith engage well with social media?  From a faith perspective a couple of commandments come into play (actually, most of them do but we’ll limit our discussion to a few).
First – You shall have no other Gods before me.  Ouch.  How often do other things become our god?  How often does an object or a technology become our god?  The question that highlights my failure in this is to think about how much time I spend with God and how much time I spend with Facebook & Twitter.  Ouch.
Fourth – Honor your father and mother.  Well, the obvious thing (to me, anyways) is the role parents play in shaping young people’s use and experience on social media.  Parents have the responsibility to set the boundaries for their kid’s use of social media.  For a conversation starter, check here.  This is a conversation starter not a blueprint as a few of these ideas I disagree with.
The other part of the fourth commandment is to remember that our parents may not be part of social media.  The easy choice is to make fun of their lack of technical skills but the truth is we still need to be in communication with them.  Maybe that means a good old fashioned phone call.  I know, GASP!  The least we can do is quit giving them crap about not using social media.
Fifth – You shall not murder.  How do we kill someone on social media?   Luther’s Large Catechism teaches ‘we must not kill, either with hand, heart, mouth, signs, gestures, help nor counsel.  With that in mind, I ask again, how do we kill someone on social media? Our words can hurt and can destroy souls.  And in too many cases, suicide has resulted from social media activities.
Eighth – No bearing false witness.  Oh boy.  This commandment gets violated on a regular and ongoing basis, doesn’t it.  There are so many half-truths and misrepresentations on the interwebs as to be beyond belief.  Sad but true.
If we frame our social media use in terms of the ten commandments, or at least four of them, does it change our perspective?  It should, I think.  Or at the very least, realign our perspective.  Social media can be and is a great thing but overall we can do better.

Cell phone limits

Dr Rich Melheim posits the idea that 1) your teenager’s cell phone actually belongs to you (if you pay for it) and 2) the quantity of your teenagers uninterrupted sleep on any given night is up to the least healthy person with your teenager’s cell number.  (Check out his book, “Holding Your Family Together”)

The conclusion he draws points to the importance of sleep in a teenager’s life.  Frankly, they don’t get enough.  One of the reasons they don’t get enough sleep (and there are many) is the least healthy person in their circle of friends that is texting them at 2:00am.

The solution?  The cell phone, that is to say YOUR cell phone (the one that YOU pay for), goes into your possession at 8:00pm until the next morning.  You can say something like, “At 8:00pm please bring me MY phone that I give to you to use.” Gasp!  Heresy, I know.

When it comes down to it, what are the implications of that?  Your teenager will be mad at you certainly.  Won’t be the first time and won’t be the last.  It won’t likely be forever.  Will they be cast out of their circle of friends?  Maybe, maybe not though if they are it does call into question the circle of friends they’re in.  Will they have a chance at uninterrupted sleep?  Much moreso than if their phone is with them.

If we think about it a minute, there really isn’t so much of a downside to a teenager not having their phone on overnight.  And here are some definite pluses.

Where do you land on this idea?