Learning my lines . . .
. . . discovering what it means to follow Jesus, seeing my story swept up into his . . .

Blog

Little Ears. . . Big Mouth. . .

Comedian Brian Regan has a funny little bit (reality is, he’s got lots of funny bits!) on his propensity to blurt things out without thinking. . . and then trying desperately and without success to pull them back in. Like when the gate agent sends you down the boarding ramp with a “Have a nice... more »

Recruit A Puritan Youth Pastor. . . .

“If it’s old, it can’t be the least bit insightful or relevant.” I used to believe that. I was young. In my mind, I was incredibly enlightened. Older folks were without a clue. Maybe you thought that about your parents. . . or your teachers. . . or your coaches. . . back when you... more »

The Spirituality of Peer Pressure. . . .

 The reality is that negative peer pressure is a spiritual battle all of us fight constantly, regardless of our age. Peer pressure is always there. It’s a fact of life in a sinful and fallen world. Our kids may know what is right and try with all their effort to do what is right, but... more »

Kids, Work, And The Path To Flourishing. . .

Some of them are old enough to hold down part-time jobs. . . and so they do. Others are old enough to hold down part-time jobs, yet for any number of reasons, they don’t. All of them will someday leave high school and take a step towards adult life that will either include stepping right... more »

“Did God Really Say?” . . . The Snake-Charmer And Youth Ministry. . .

The older I get, the more I see how important it is for me to put that stake in the ground. Then, I need to use that stake to tether me to God’s Word in ways that will hold me secure in the midst of both the storms of life and the winds of change that... more »

Framing Sexual Sanity. . .

In just a little over 50 years, our media culture has gone from treating matters of sexuality as a “hush-hush” topic, to putting all kinds of sexual practices and issues center-stage. That’s certainly been the case in the last few months as a variety of high profile stories regarding – among others things – molestation,... more »

Twenty-One Pilots And Teen Stress. . . Talking Points. . .

It was a well over a year ago that I sat with our doctoral cohort at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary deconstructing a music video that featured a couple of mid-twenty-somethings riding oversized Big Wheels (admit it, we all want one, don’t we?!?) through the streets of their Columbus, Ohio neighborhood. The video addressed a most-serious youth... more »

Fifty Shades Returns. . . Darker. What Now?

I spent the last couple of days in Mississippi. On Wednesday night, I spoke to a gym full off parents and teens about pornography. What is it? Why are we drawn to it? What effect does it have on us? How does it distort God’s grand and glorious gift of sex and sexuality? How do... more »

Lady Gaga’s Broken Halftime Theology. . .

First things first. No matter who you were rooting for, that was an amazing game. And second. . . let’s think about Lady Gaga and her halftime show. . . beginning with some thoughts on Super Bowl halftime shows in general. As a culture-watcher, I’ve always processed the Super Bowl halftime show as something very,... more »

Super Bowl Commercials. . . A Little Exercise In Critical Thinking. . .

Parents and youth workers… why not make your Super Bowl viewing experience productive for you and your kids? I want to challenge you to see it as an opportunity to teach how to apply their faith to the glut of marketing messages they face each and every day, by helping them think critically and Christianly... more »

Teens and Self-Injury. . . A Helpful Infographic. . .

We’ve been talking about it for a couple of decades for the simple reason that far too many kids are doing it. “It” is self-injury. I’ve blogged on it on numerous occasions. Our good friend Marv Penner has become a renowned expert on it. Marv has written a helpful book and is leading seminars on... more »

The Epidemic of Anxiety. . . Some Helpful Words. . .

Ever feel like this? . . . Apparently anxiety was a problem way back when Time Magazine ran this cover in 1961. The covered featured the now-familiar Edvard Munch painting known as “The Scream.” Interestingly enough, Munch painted this way back in 1893. I guess that proves that paralyzing and scream-inducing anxiety has been around... more »

Pleading For Our Kids. . . .

Early this morning I was reading in the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 5, about a distraught father named Jairus. As I pondered his two-sentence urgency-filled request to Jesus I kept thinking about kids today. Jairus said to Jesus, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so... more »

The Latest On Teen Drug Use. . . A Helpful Infographic. . .

I’ve never met a parent who says, “I want my child to grow up to abuse drugs.” There are, however, many twisted individuals making millions of dollars off of their pursuit of the desire to promote addiction. And for too many kids, a variety of cultural, situational, developmental, and personal realities combine to lead to decisions... more »

A Little Exercise In Priorities. . . Football vs. Family. . .

The NFL Playoffs are in full-swing. Last Sunday night, a friend who’s here in the U.S. from her home in Northern Ireland landed in Boston just before dinner. The friends who met her at Logan stopped for dinner at a Buffalo Wild Wings. Have you ever eaten there? You don’t just eat. You watch. The walls... more »

The Great Slip-Up. . . And Satanic Exposition. . .

This morning, I was reminded of a short-yet-thick and significant thought from Os Guinness that captures a mistake that we so easily make and must constantly/consciously work to avoid. Consider the perils of living by the latter-half of what Guinness writes, “Either we conform our desires to the truth or we conform the truth to... more »

Pornography And The Brain. . .

This morning I got up early to head south to Daytona Beach. I’m spending the next couple of days with a group of youth workers talking about significant trends in youth culture. This afternoon, I will be speaking about pornography’s growing and pervasive influence in our culture. For some reason, my mind wandered back to... more »

A Prayer For Year’s End. . .

While they often get a bad rap, the Puritans sure knew how to pray. For several years now, the Puritans have taken me deeper in prayer as I’ve found a friend in the Puritan prayer book, The Valley of Vision. Heart-yearnings that I can’t put into words or that I never knew existed rise up when... more »

Marketing As Map And Mirror. . . Three Ads To Deconstruct Christianly. . .

Nobody ever asked me, but if they did happen to challenge me to come up with a first-thought one-word response to the word marketing, I would probably respond with either powerful or pervasive. It’s both, and with experts estimating that the average American encounters between 4,000 and 10,000 marketing messages a day, we’d better realize that because it’s designed... more »

Kids, Christmas, and Too Much Stuff. . .

Because we live in the most affluent nation on earth, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that accumulation of stuff is the pathway to fulfillment and redemption. Sadly, what most people never discover is that what we thought would bring satisfaction doesn’t. Instead we’re left only wanting more. I think about this... more »