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Youth Culture Today with Walt Mueller
1 minutes | May 17, 2022
Can Kids Live without YouTube
I don’t know about you, but I’ve found YouTube to be a very helpful resource as I try to figure out how fix things around the house. In recent weeks I’ve used YouTube to help me change out the carburetor in my weed whacker, to change a bathroom faucet cartridge, and to remove the front bumper on our car. What would we do without YouTube?!? But just as we are able to gain good guidance from YouTube, it’s also a place that can steer us in the wrong direction, particularly in terms of our spiritual growth and development. According to the latest media survey from Common Sense Media, our kids say that if they were forced to choose, YouTube is the site they wouldn’t want to live without. Parents, we need to be aware that just as we can find answers to our home fix it questions on YouTube, our kids are going there and finding answers to what gives meaning and purpose to their lives. Limit and monitor their time. Talk about what they’re seeing. And teach them the life-giving truths of the Gospel.
1 minutes | May 16, 2022
Teaching Kids to Work to God's Glory
What will the kids you know and love see as the end or purpose of work? Why will they choose to pursue the job and career path they choose to pursue? Will their goals be economic in ways that make the old Loverboy song “Working For the Weekend” their personal anthem? Or will they push back on the empty promises and dead-end of what’s known as “The American Dream?” If we truly believe that the Gospel speaks to all of life and that Christian nurture leads to the integration of faith into our work, then we need to be pointing our kids to something better than what the culture is currently giving them. In a recent edition of First Things magazine, professor Max Torres writes about the Christian view of work: “The investment of the person into productive products is of transcendent, transformative importance, not just for the material progress of society, but most of all for the full realization of human potential.” We’ve been made to work to God’s glory.
1 minutes | May 13, 2022
Teen Driving Dangers
Once again I want to issue a warning regarding our teenagers of driving age. We must never forget that they are inexperienced drivers. Consequently, we need to be warning them to take precautions regarding the known risks to teenage safety behind the wheel. A new study from the American Automobile Association outlines the three most common driving mistakes that teenagers make when they are behind the wheel. Because driving is an act of worship, remind your kids to avoid these mistakes so that they might not only drive safely, but bring glory to God. First, warn them against speeding. Second, remind them to avoid distracted driving. This happens most often when there are other people in the car, and/or when they are focused on their phones. Finally, remind them to keep their eyes scanning the road for risks and hazards. Too many teens get tunnel vision while they are driving. Driving is a privilege. Help your kids keep themselves and others safe on the road.
1 minutes | May 12, 2022
Hearing the Pain of Brokenness
In her book, Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers, Leslie Leyland Fields writes about our need to enter into the sufferings of others. . . sufferings that we may never have experienced ourselves and therefore have little ability to understand. In effect, it’s about taking the time to listen to the other person’s story, to show them grace, and to forgive them for acting out of their pain in ways that just might be hurting us. Yes, Fields is writing about doing this with our parents. But I think her challenge is also one that we need to hear and heed in our churches, schools, and neighborhoods with those kids whose brokenness leads to the types of disruptive behavior that make waves in the neat and easy little worlds for which we yearn. What would happen if we would pray for hearts that are sensitive to the most broken of kids and their sufferings? No, we don’t want to excuse or write off immoral or bad behavior. But we do want to love the disruptive kids as Christ loves them.
1 minutes | May 11, 2022
Selfies, Self-Perception, and Nose Jobs
The official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons is called Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. In the April issue of the journal, researchers report on a study that found that the selfies we snap don’t offer us an accurate perception of our facial features. For example, the length of one’s chin decreases in our selfie photos, while our noses appear larger than they actually are. So, what’s the big deal? Researchers say that there is a noted relationship between the increase in selfie photographs and an increase in rhinoplasty requests, particularly among younger patients. In other words, being dissatisfied with what we see of ourselves in our selfies, we now try to fix what we interpret as a socially unacceptable appearance through getting a nose job. Physicians are concerned that selfie facial distortions are contributing to adolescent mental health concerns. We are far too consumed with our appearances. God is most concerned with the state of our hearts, we should be as well.
1 minutes | May 10, 2022
The Latest Screen Time Stats
Once again, our friends at Common Sense Media have released some helpful data on media use among tweens and teens. It’s not at all surprising that in our screen-saturated world, engagement with screens for the purpose of entertainment is on the rise. As of 2021, our eight to twelve year old Tweens are engaging with screens for an average of five hours and thirty-three minutes a day. Our thirteen to eighteen year old teens have their eyes on their screens for eight hours and thirty nine minutes a day. While these numbers are stunning, let me remind you that they do not include time spent on screens for in school and out of school school work. We are talking about entertainment engagement only! Parents, we should be concerned not only about what they are seeing and learning during screen time, but also about the sheer amount of time. Let’s teach our kids to live into these words of instruction from the apostle Paul: Make the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
1 minutes | May 9, 2022
Concerns about a New Bible
Is it possible that getting teens to read the Bible could actually move them away from God’s good order and design for sexuality? If they read an updated version of the Bible that is being released this month, that could happen. This update of 1989’s New Revised Standard Version is called NRSVUE. Many of the more than twenty-thousand changes are helpful as they are based on updated textual discoveries. Yet this new Bible project also aims to reflect what scholars call modern sensibilities. One concern is that the Greek word translated “men who have sex with men” has been changed to “men who engage in sexual immorality”. New Testament scholar Robert Gagnon says this change “gaywashes” the text to eliminate the clear reference to homosexual practice in I Corinthians 6:9. We must not change and conform the Bible to our cultural preferences. Rather, we must change and conform ourselves to God’s will as revealed in a properly translated Bible.
1 minutes | May 6, 2022
Your Kids Have Been Made for a Relationship with God
As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, I thought it would be good to spend our week looking at some helpful parenting truths. Today’s truth is this: Our teenagers were made to be in a relationship with God. Because our rebellion has severed our relationship with God, there remains a deep yearning inside each human being to have that relationship restored. Blaise Pascal described this universal hole in the soul as a god-shaped vacuum. Teenagers are no different than anyone else. Their great need is to have this God-shaped emptiness filled by God. If you listen and look closely, you’ll see and hear that their music, films, books, magazines, and very lives are crying out for spiritual wholeness. Each of us can look directly in the eyes of the teenagers we know and love and be certain that this is their reality. Each one hungers for heaven. Parents, this should spur us on to constantly and consciously serve as signposts, pointing kids to the cross and their true home.
1 minutes | May 5, 2022
All Kids Are Influenced By Culture
As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, I thought it would be good to spend our week looking at some helpful parenting truths. Today’s truth is this: Any kid, anywhere, anytime. Sadly, there’s an assumption flying around that Christian kids are somehow immune from being vulnerable to the growing tide of negative influences in today’s rapidly changing culture. Many of us have bought the lie that “those things don’t happen in Christian families,” or “to Christian kids.” Believing this lie can lull us to sleep, keeping us from realistically recognizing and addressing the pressures that all kids face in today’s world. A variety of factors are combining to make the voices of the world far more compelling and attractive to kids. It doesn’t matter where they live, who they live with, or what kind of school they go to. Any kid, anywhere, can be influenced by any of the negative and dangerous aspects of our culture at any time. No church, school, family, or child is immune.
1 minutes | May 4, 2022
No Perfect Parents, No Perfect Kids
As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, I thought it would be good to spend our week looking at some helpful parenting truths. Today’s truth is this: there are no perfect parents or kids. The Bible teaches us that sin is present in every human heart. At the root of problems in our families and homes is the sinful and selfish nature of children and their parents. At our house, there have been far too many times to even count where we’ve fought, bickered, argued, gotten irritated, and lacked patience. Parents who hope and expect to raise perfect kids and have a perfect family are biblically unrealistic. To embrace such expectations only burdens us and our children with the sense of failure that accompanies the albatross of not being able to measure up. We must never forget that we are all imperfect and finite beings who are touched by sin and incapable of perfection. While we should never minimize or overlook sin, we must realize that perfection won’t ever visit our parenting, our children, or our homes.
1 minutes | May 3, 2022
Parenting Isn't Easy
As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, I thought it would be good to spend our week looking at some helpful parenting truths. Today’s truth is this: being a parent isn’t always easy. No matter how much time and effort we put into preparing for parenthood, there will always be unexpected surprises. Raising and relating to children is difficult for everyone, and it tends to become more so as children reach the teen years. Each of us will experience a different set of highs and lows, jolts and joys, thrills and spills. If you are struggling as a parent, rest assured that you are not alone. You, me, and all other parents stand together. The reality is that it’s not easy. But we can approach our parenting as a glorious challenge and opportunity. Dr. Paul Tripp reminds us, “the teen years are often cataclysmic years of conflict, struggle, and grief. They are years of new temptations, of trial and testing. Yet these very struggles, conflicts, trials and tests are what produce such wonderful parental opportunities.”
1 minutes | May 2, 2022
Children are a Gift
As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, I thought it would be good to spend our week looking at some helpful parenting truths. The first truth is this: God gives us the gift of children. The psalmist writes, “Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children!” It’s a big mistake to think of our children as liabilities; they are a reward from God, given to us as a sign of God’s favor. Because he values them so highly, so should we. They are never to be considered an inconvenience or nuisance. I must never forget that even in the midst of difficult times, the children God has given me as gifts remain gifts, whether they are four hours, four years, or fourteen years old. Once a gift, always a gift. We are to bring honor and glory to God by treasuring the God-given gift of our children and teens!
1 minutes | Apr 29, 2022
Fentanyl Overdoses and Teens
Today, I want to make you aware of some discouraging new research regarding teens and drug use from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After reviewing the data from 2020, it was discovered that overdoses linked to synthetic opioids like Fentanyl tripled among teenagers over the course of just two years. Among black teenagers, there was a five-fold increase. Fentanyl is one hundred times more potent than morphine, and fifty times more potent than heroin. Fueling this trend is the fact that fentanyl is being combined with other illicit drugs, making them more addictive, dangerous, and even deadly. While the numbers are not in for 2021, experts believe that the data will show additional increases. It is our hope that parents and the church will consistently monitor, love, and nurture the children and teens in our midst, and that we would reach out with care, compassion, and the hope of the Gospel to those who are most vulnerable to abusing drugs.
1 minutes | Apr 28, 2022
Boasting and Humility
There’s a great lesson for our kids in a story told about retired baseball player Chase Utley. It seems that when Utley was a little boy playing ball, he complained to his father about a fellow player who did quite a bit of show-boating on the field, and bragging off the field. Utley’s dad shared a simple lesson he learned from his high school guidance counselor. The lesson was this: “If you’re really good at something, you don’t have to tell people. They will tell you.” The writer of Proverbs says that “humility comes before honor.” Jesus reminds his followers that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” And Peter reminds Christ-followers to “clothe yourselves with humility.” We are all sinners saved by grace. Anything good we have or do is a gift of grace. I am reminded this morning that in my home, my church, my community, and my world I am nothing. . . and if I am something, it is only by the grace of God.
1 minutes | Apr 27, 2022
Words of Hope in Tragic Times
We all need to pay attention to Tony Dungy’s recounting of the tragic loss of his eighteen-year-old son Jamie to suicide several years ago. While God ministered deeply to Tony and his wife during this very difficult time, God also ministered through the couple as they lived out their faith in the days, weeks, and months that followed. At Jamie’s funeral, Tony Dungy spoke these words: “What’s kept our family going these last couple of days is what we believe, and we believe God when he says that he works all things for his good for those who love the Lord. It’s hard to accept because we can’t always see it, but we have to believe it.” Those are timely words for all of us as we struggle with the difficult circumstances that come our way. Life is complicated for teenagers, parents, and families. But you can be sure of this: God not only is, but he is at work! Praise God for the hope of the Gospel!
1 minutes | Apr 26, 2022
Teen Smartphone Addiction
Ever since the smartphone became a standard accessory and even an appendage much like our arms and legs, experts have debated whether or not people can become addicted to their digital devices. The research evidence is quickly accumulating that says yes, all of us can become addicted to our devices. And like all kinds of addicts, we are typically willing to point out the addiction of others, while denying that we might have a problem. But listen to this. Some recent research from the Pew Research group has found that forty-five percent of our teenagers report feeling addicted to their smartphone devices. Teen smartphone addiction is very real and it needs to be addressed. We suggest that you hold off on giving a smartphone to your kids until they reach the age of sixteen. If earlier, give them a device that has limited social media capabilities. And set up borders and boundaries that will keep them safe. The way we use our technology is actually a way for us to worship God.
1 minutes | Apr 25, 2022
Connecting as a Family
One of the best lessons I learned from my parents is that there is more to life than sitting around and doing nothing. My parents were available to us on those quiet evenings when it would have been easy to plop down in front of the tube. But they always had something fun to do. We would play board games or cards, wrestle or box with my dad, build models, work in the basement woodshop, etc. Sure we watched TV, listened to the radio, and played records. But those voices were tempered by the involvement of our parents in our lives. We even learned to enjoy listening to our parents; there was good communication taking place. Because I had such fun-loving parents most of the neighborhood kids wanted to spend time at my house. In today’s world, the two greatest distractions to family time and fun are first, a full schedule of organized activities, and second, everyone keeping their faces buried in their phones. Make an effort to connect by disconnecting from the distractions.
1 minutes | Apr 22, 2022
Facing the Epidemic of Porn 5
All this week we’ve been looking at Tim Chester’s book, “Closing the Window: Steps To Living Porn Free” – and his list of reasons for why we should give up porn. Above all else, pornography is a sin that erodes our relationship with God. Chester reminds us of the story of Solomon and his love for foreign women. Solomon’s unchecked sexual desires turned his heart away from God. They gave him a divided heart. One pornography addict says, “Porn kills my spiritual vitality and zaps the life out of my personal devotional life and spiritual disciplines. It decreases my desire and consciousness of spiritual things, because it becomes the thing at the front of my mind, or more typically guilt consumes me. It has really deadened my relationship with Jesus and robbed me of joy.” Because we live in a world saturated with pornography that pulls our kids in at breakneck speed, we must prepare them for a life lived in obedience to God.
1 minutes | Apr 21, 2022
Facing the Epidemic of Porn 4
All this week we’re looking at Tim Chester’s book, “Closing the Window: Steps To Living Porn Free” – and his list of reasons for why we should give up porn. In a world where the family is already in decline, pornography adds another weapon in the war against the growth and health of the family. Studies show that even mild exposure to porn reduces men’s evaluation of their partner’s attractiveness and how much in love they feel. It’s harder to find satisfaction with real sex with real women. Porn is a cancer, eating away at your marriage. Porn has the potential to end your marriage. Pornography also endangers your children. One in ten men say they first encountered pornography when they found their father’s secret stash. It used to be magazines under the bed. Now, kids are finding it on the family computer. Dad’s, do you realize that when your kids discover your addiction that you will be telling them that using pornography is normal, right, and even ok?
1 minutes | Apr 20, 2022
Facing the Epidemic of Porn 3
All this week we’re looking at Tim Chester’s book, “Closing the Window: Steps To Living Porn Free” – and his list of reasons for why we should give up porn. If we want to grow to hate pornography, we should consider how it ruins and wrecks people, particularly women. On the one hand, pornography wrecks a man’s view of women. With so many of our children and teen already immersed in pornography, I wonder what the fruit of their addiction will be as they come of age. You see, pornography encourages men to view women as objects to be consumed. In effect, women are commodified. In addition, porn wrecks women’s view of themselves. The pressure on women to have bodies that match those of the movie and porn actresses is immense. Today’s women need to navigate sexual expectations, impossible standards of attractiveness, and aggressive sexual activity. These are more reasons for us abhor pornography and steer our kids in the right direction.
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