Feb 202015
 

We welcomed our third child into our family five weeks ago and never has our home felt more full of life (and chaos)! With three little ones under four years old, my days are jam packed with nursing my baby, fixing lunch, giving baths, reading books, and generally keeping everyone safe, fed, clothed, and loved. With the quick pace of life, I crave a few minutes to just sit and relax. Understandable.

Yet, while I could be opening my Bible, sitting in the stillness of nap time to pray to my Heavenly Father, or even taking a nap myself, I have this terrible reflex to sit down, click on my phone, and see what’s on Instagram. Maybe this isn’t a terrible thing in and of itself because Instagram is really a wonderful way to stay connected with my friends and is sometimes my connection to the outside world on days where I am homebound with my little ones. I love sharing pictures of my life and seeing what everyone else is up to. Instagram is my social media of choice (though I love Pinterest too).

And, while Instagram and Pinterest are not necessarily bad things, it has been on my heart lately as something I should be wary of. In last Sunday’s sermon, Dave Cover preached on temptation from 1 Corinthians 10. As I listened to the sermon, I thought of my Instagram habit and became convicted by 1 Corinthians 10:12-14.

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

While I think I am standing firm in my faith, reading my Bible, going to church, praying with my children, I am all the while tempted several times every single day to check in with social media. And as verse 12 says, this temptation can be common to mankind. I see so many of my friends struggling with this same “innocent” temptation.

Dave said, “Every temptation is a test in our faith of whether or not we will believe the promises of a faithful God are better and more satisfying and truer in our lives than the empty promises of our god copies, the empty promises of our sin.”

When I look at Instagram and Pinterest, I tend to disengage with the present reality. For example, many times when I sit down to nurse my precious 5-week-old son, I have my phone next to me and am scrolling rather than gazing at his face, praying for his faith, and enjoying this gift given to me from God.Sometimes, I am more interested in taking a picture of what my kids are doing so I can share it on Instagram rather than setting my phone down and just enjoying my kids. Social media tempts me to check out, disengage, compare myself to others, feel sorry for myself, puff myself up that I am doing better than other people, and a whole myriad of other sins that pull me away from a Faithful God.

So what is the answer? 1 Corinthians 10:13-14 says, “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Therefore my dear friends, flee from idolatry.” What is the way out? How do we flee? Does this mean we deactivate our Facebook and Twitter accounts? Trade in our smartphones and block social media sites on our computers?

Well, maybe. I have decided to deactivate my Facebook account for now and try to set limits for myself with other social media. Eschewing all social media is likely not the answer to fleeing this temptation. In many ways, I do believe social media can be used to glorify God. Consider: how can we share pictures, post articles, share pray requests, and proclaim God’s faithfulness using social media as a tool? Can we use it to encourage others with the hope of the Gospel instead of letting it use us and tempt us away from all God is for us in Christ?

Nikki Daniel wrote an excellent post that speaks to some of these issues at The Gospel Coalition called Facebook, Moms, and The Last Day. In it, she shares insight into the positives and negatives of social media, specifically in the lives of mothers. She shares an excellent quote from John Piper on this topic: “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.”

Social media is a great temptation for today’s Christians allowing us to set our sights on media instead of God Himself. Allow God to shine light on this in your own life and reveal ways you can glorify Him, even in the social media realm.

 

Oct 182013
 

In my last post on preparing to teach a lesson, I addressed the teachers of Crossing Kids – the faithful people who communicate the Bible in God-honoring and creative ways. Equally important to preparing to teach a lesson is the exercise of evaluation after teaching. How easy it is to finish teaching in Crossing Kids and move on without ever taking to time to look back and evaluate your teaching. But without stepping back to evaluate, we miss an incredible opportunity to grow our teaching in the future.

It is often said in the educational world, “If you don’t know where you’ve been, you won’t know where you’re going,” This is so true for teachers. Without reflecting how a lesson was received, what worked well, and what would’ve worked better, a teacher cannot effectively plan lessons for the future.

Evaluating your lesson doesn’t have to be a time consuming or cumbersome project. In fact, it could just be thinking through some of the following questions as you drive home from church. In my years of teaching, I have found the best method of evaluation to be journaling in a notebook or even directly on the lesson plan. Use the following questions as a guide.

* What was the highlight of the lesson? What did kids respond best to? Think of specific examples.

* Which part of lesson was least effective? How did you notice kids responding?

* If you noticed your lesson getting off course, what did you do to correct it? Did this method work? Would you do this again?

* What did the students learn? How do you know they learned what you taught them? Think of some specific examples.

After thinking though your lesson, use this thinking as you prepare the next time. Consider how you might stretch yourself. Perhaps you need to leave more time for wrapping up the lesson or you need to do a better job at communicating expectations to volunteers. Whatever it is for you, use your evaluation to make changes in the future.

Why go through all this effort? Colassians 3:23-24 tells us,

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

We put in an incredible amount of work in to teaching in Crossing Kids to the best of our ability – not for ourselves, or the ministry, or the staff team, or The Crossing. No, we are to work at this with all our hearts for the Lord. He sees the effort you put into the lesson, not just or Sunday morning, but the hours you spend preparing and evaluating your lesson during the week.

Let us strive to serve Christ in all we do.

Aug 292013
 

If I were to total the hours that I spend on my iPhone each day, I know I would be embarrassed. Some days it seems like there isn’t much that I don’t do on my phone. I use my phone to keep in touch with family and friends. I use my phone for social networking. I use my phone to send photos and videos of my son to his grandparents. I use my phone to make my grocery list each week. The list could go on and on. While none of the things listed are bad, as sinful human beings, we have the ability to take good things and abuse them. This isn’t a new concept, and I know I’m not the only person to point this out. But in the last 14 months as a stay-at-home mom, I have become particularly aware and convicted about how I use my time and the technology I have to “connect” me to the outside world.

My husband often refers to Facebook as Mombook, and I don’t think he is wrong. On particularly lonely or boring or difficult days at home, it is easy to get sucked into social networking to feel “connected” to others, especially other stay-at-home moms. While keeping in touch with friends is a great thing, it can quickly turn to a bad thing when I begin comparing my life with my friends’ lives. The same can be said for the way I use Twitter and Instagram.

I have also noticed that the more time I spend on my phone or my computer, the more time my son wants to spend on my phone or my computer. If these toys are so fascinating for mommies then they must be fun for babies too! There is nothing that has convicted me more than seeing my son squeal with joy when he is able to snatch my phone away as I watch an Instagram video.

There is much to be said on the ways we use technology for good and the ways in which technology can be damaging. I’m not an expert and I certainly don’t have this all figured out. Right now I’m taking practical steps to keep from being sucked in during long days at home. I’ve deleted my Facebook app on my phone. I’m also trying to keep my phone in another room when my son is awake in hopes that we both aren’t distracted by texts, videos, and emails. Below are some resources that continue to help me think through these things. If this is something you also struggle with in come capacity, I hope you find them helpful. I’d also love to know, what do you do to avoid being sucked in?

Do You Fear Pharoah (Exodus 1:15-2:10)

Dave Cover’s sermon from this past Sunday, August 25 touched on some of this. I’d encourage you to watch or listen here. In it he gives some great questions to ask when viewing media:

What is this making me fear most?

What is this making me want to want?

What is this making me feel toward Christians?

How does the gospel of Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration confirm or challenge this message?

I Forgot My Phone

This video has made its way around the internet this week, but it makes a strong point and is worth watching again.

The “Hotness” and False Perceptions of Facebook

“You are not your Facebook page, and you don’t need to be.” A reminder that what we see on Facebook is not always (or ever) reality.

How’s Your Time Trending?

An insightful post from the Girltalk blog begins with a convicting John Piper quote, “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove that prayerlessness is not from lack of time.”

Did Apple Go Too Far?

Crossing Pastor, Nathan Tiemeyer, analyzes a recent Apple commercial on The Crossing’s blog, Every Square Inch.

Reaching Digital Natives

 5th Grade, Elementary, Parents, Preschool, Technology, Volunteers  Comments Off on Reaching Digital Natives
Feb 072012
 

Our Crossing Kids staff have been grappling with a few questions over the past few years.  How do we best reach kids who use technology everywhere they go? How do we teach lessons that engage our learners rather than tune them out? These are questions a lot of educators are asking as well.

According to an article “Teaching Digital Natives” written by Jennifer Hooks in Children’s Ministry Magazine, a “digital native” is a term coined by Marc Prensky in 2001.  He says a “digital native” is a child to whom a digital world is indigenous and completely natural. They were born into an existence where technology evolves at an ever-increasing rate. They interface with one another and with their world through digital means.

He also defines “digital immigrants” as those who weren’t necessarily born into a digital existence but who must adapt and assimilate to function in such a world.  A digital immigrant is someone who isn’t digital by nature; for instance, one who steadfastly prints hard copies of emails or calls to ensure an email has been received.

You may have seen the new TV’s we installed in our classrooms recently and you may be asking the question, “Why? What’s the purpose?” We have been searching for ways to incorporate more digital media into our Crossing Kids lessons in order to engage the “digital natives” that God brings us every week.  We researched several ideas on how we could make that happen in our current space and allow for the widest possible usage.  Installing these new televisions with dvd players and internet capabilities turned out to be the most cost and space effective way.

Below are a few of the ways we plan to use the new technology in our classrooms.

Workshop lessons in elementary can incorporate:

movie clips

Youtube clips

visuals of art, objects or images

music videos that kids create

games we create that all kids can view at one time (i.e. Sheep/Shepherd Jeopardy)

google images/maps

cultural illustrations

The 5th grade curriculum “Grapple” has several interactive digital teaching elements

Live streaming for Kids Club

Kids Club and Family Events

Showing movies for childcare events in smaller settings

Adult classes (Women’s Bible Study and Night Crossing classes)

Our commitment to excellence in our curriculum and learning will not be narrowed but expanded. Our heart is to use these new digital devices in a way to win children to Christ and help them grow in their faith.  Like Paul, our desire is to do all this for the sake of the gospel.

1 Corinthians 9: 19-23

19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 312012
 

Rachel Johnson raised a great issue in her recent blog Alive Enough about how much time we spend “plugged in” and not engaging with our children.

I must admit that I struggle to find the right balance in our home. With four children ages 9 to 16, all of us are constantly on some form of digital device (computers, cell phones, Itouch, kindle – you name it). It’s how we read our books; it’s how we communicate with each other; it’s how we stay connected to the world.  Even as I write this blog on my computer, one child is writing a paper on another computer while texting her friends, one is playing games on his Ipad and the other two are playing Xbox all while watching the Mizzou basketball game.  So how much is too much and when do you say “turn it off” and let’s talk?

Now just an hour ago, our family was sitting around the dinner table talking about our day  without a single “tech toy” in our hands. We laughed together, shared stories and just enjoyed being with each other. Interestingly, children still prefer talking in person over communicating via some digital media.  Read about a survey taken in the UK here that shows just that fact.  But we all feel the pull that technology has on our family. How do we as parents think about it and how do we lead our kids to think about it?

I’ve read several other blogs recently that have given me some good perspectives on how to stay engaged as a family with all your technology and yet also find ways to “unplug” and relate to one another.

Here are a few of my favorite links written by Carey Nieuwhof on a blog for parents:

Is Technology Killing Your Family?

Preparing Your Kids for Life Online

Disconnect to Reconnect Your Family

I’d love to know how your family handles technology in your home.  Do you find it a struggle to put down the electronics and just be together?  What ideas have worked for you?

Alive Enough?

 Family, Interviews, Technology  Comments Off on Alive Enough?
Jan 212012
 

On Wednesday morning, Eleanor was contently playing with some toys on her blanket. After grabbing my coffee, I flipped open my laptop to quickly check my email inbox. Only two new emails popped up, so I decided to check Facebook. After looking at random status updates and photos, I clicked on my friend, Holli’s, new post on her blog. She included a link to an American Public Media interview with Sherry Turkle, director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self and author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. I clicked on the link to start listening to the interview, and went back to checking Facebook while I listened. But, suddenly something Turkle said made me stop, look at my daughter, and close my laptop.

Tippett (interviewer): “We talked a minute ago about somehow carving out in your child’s life an experience of solitude so that they know how to be alone, and this idea of being present, but if we ourselves are not modeling those possibilities…”

Turkle: “Absolutely. I mean, I think the greatest gift you can give your child is to walk out of the house without your phone. I mean, to pick up the newspaper, to pick up the bagel, to go out for coffee. Don’t take your phone. Show your child what that looks like, that you’re willing to step out of the house not open for communication…You know, I’m not like a romantic or I don’t have like a crazy nostalgia for, you know, an unplugged life, you know in cabins in the woods, not at all. I’m just saying that we have to ask ourselves really what is served by having an always-on, always-on you, open-to-anyone-who-wants-to-reach-us way of life? Because in my research, I’ve found that it actually cuts off conversations as much as it opens out conversations.”

I realized in that moment that as I interacted with technology in front of Eleanor, she was watching and learning from me. Not only that, I realized that a quick checking of my inbox had easily led me to spend over a half hour on my computer while Eleanor played by herself. Is it a negative thing to spend time on the computer in front of your child? Absolutely not. Technology is very much a part of the world we live in and our children should be exposed to it. However, Turkle’s comments made me consider how much I am using technology in front of my daughter.

How often does she observe me text, talk on the phone, surf the web, check Facebook, watch Youtube, pin to Pinterest, upload photos, and post to my blog? In using technology am I cutting off conversation in real life with my daughter in exchange for opening up digital conversation with Facebook friends? What is the cost of this over time? Are there consequences?

I spend about an hour or two a day on my computer or phone.  I often feel a compulsive need to keep abreast of all the Facebook updates, new blog posts, and text messages. At times, I think this does keep me from being fully present with my daughter and husband. When my computer screen is between me and my family, I am missing out on being fully there with them.

All of this has just given me food for thought. I am still going to be a part of the digital world as it is an important part of living in today’s culture. I am still going to use technology in front of Eleanor and when she gets older I will show her how to use it herself. At the same time, I am now sensitive and aware of the amount I choose technology over time with my family.

At the end of her book Turkle quotes Thoreau: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear.” Then Turkle writes, [Thoreau’s quest] “inspires us to ask of our life with technology: Do we live deliberately? In other words, what is the path, beyond opting out, to integrating technology into genuinely robust, meaningful living?”

Certainly as parents who want to leave a legacy of faith in Christ with our children, we must “live deliberately” as Turkle suggests. We have limited hours with our families, limited hours to talk and share and laugh and create memories with them. We have limited hours to pray and worship and read our Bibles with our children. If you’re at all like me, technology can sometimes get in the way of that.

Perhaps this week, we could all make one small step to “live deliberately” so that we can have more time to leave a legacy. Maybe that’s leaving your cell phone in another room during dinnertime, reading a book with your child instead of reading blogs, or doing a craft with your little one instead of pinning on Pinterest. I’m not sure what this will look like for you and your family, but it seems this is an issue that we are all going to have to think about more as the digital world becomes more ingrained in our family culture.

So, in summary remember…technology is good. We will and should use it in front of and with our children. We should also monitor when it is coming between us and our family and keeping us from spending concentrated time leaving a legacy of faith with our children.

Listen to the full interview with Dr. Sherry Turkle.