DO IT! Now…

Aust-Do-It-NowI humbly tell my friends and people in my faith community that I've been involved in pro ministry for almost 40 years.  I started in youth work and continue to hammer away at this passion that God planted deep within my soul years ago.  Welcoming children…honestly and forthrightly and courageously doing whatever it takes so that everyone in our community understands that "children are treasured here" is one of my highest values.  So, issues related to kids and students still draw my interest.  That's why I've been a HUGE FAN of the Center for Youth and Parent Understanding.  I've seen youth and children's ministries come and go over the decades.  In fact, I've been a part of some youth movements that I wish still had vitality.  Even so, CPYU is one of the best.  It is not only a leader in cultural research but also takes solid, non-hypocritical and VERY HELPFUL stances that adults who loves kids (especially parents) can put into practice immediately.  

So, if you are a parent or someone who cares about kids and students, sign up on CPYU's email lists NOW!  Do it!

Just to give you a taste of what I'm talking about, Walt Mueller (CPYU's founder and leader) posted some interesting things on his blog today regarding students and cell-phone use.  If I had a kid, I would download this stuff (
Download Texting_While_Driving_Factsheet) and have some honest conversation with my kids about what all this means in their lives.  Technology is the native environment for these younger generations…giving them guidance and encouragement on how to navigate the exciting but also potentially dangerous aspects of it is a HUGE task that those of us who love kids MUST grasp and bring to action in our relationships.

So, here are some highlights of Mueller's blog:

Cell Phones, Texting and Driving at a Glance:

  • More than 4 out of 5 teen drivers admit to using their cell phone while driving.
  • Research shows that hands-free cell phone use while driving is no less dangerous than using a hand-held phone. It's the conversation – not the type of device – that's the distraction.
  • Over half of all teen drivers admit to texting or emailing while driving. Teenage and young adult drivers are the age group most likely to send a text or read an email while driving.
  • Teens say that texting is the number one driving distraction.
  • Texting and driving is a form of distraction. Almost 80 percent of all vehicle crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some type of driver inattention or distraction during the three seconds before the crash or near-crash.
  • Talking on a cell phone while driving impairs drivers at a rate equal to a blood-alcohol level of 0.08.
  • The National Safety Council estimates that at least 200,000 crashes a year are caused by texting and driving.
  • Texting while driving results in 330,000 distracted driving injuries a year.
  • About 6,000 people a year die as a result of using their phone while driving.

When You Text and Drive:

  • You are four times more likely to cause an accident than when you drive drunk or talk on a cell phone.
  • You are 23 times more likely to crash.
  • You are taking your eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that equals driving the length of a football field while wearing a blindfold.
  • Your response time diminishes greatly. The average time it takes a drunk driver to respond and apply the brakes is 4 times more than normal. The average time it takes a texting driver to respond and apply the brakes is 40 times more than normal. Still, most young drivers view texting and driving as less dangerous than drunk driving.
  • You risk injuring/killing yourself and others. It results in car crashes that kill an average of 11 teenagers a day.

 

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Why I like this picture…

Wipeout-at-the-Pig-Race-e1347456302408-634x463There is something about this picture that I really love!  NO, I'm not a freak about pigs although, I must admit, that the most recent Evergreen State Fair's theme was "get your squeal on."  Fact is, I was sporting my pig shirt all week with the best of them.  Ah, but for another time and place.  Here's what's up with this picture.  First of all, it reminds me of a "sharing/small group"exercise that we used to do as a "crowd breaker" in the past.  I have scoured the internet and I can't find an electronic copy otherwise I would have posted it for you.  Let me simply say this – it is a picture of a bunch of children up on a tree.  Some look up the tree, gazing into the future.  Others have either fallen off the tree or are holding on for dear life.  There are a few other snapshots of life as well in that classic illustration. When I used it, I would ask people to take a peek at the picture and see which character they related to and why.  It always promoted some sort of conversation that helped get the evening kicked off in a good manner.

Well, I saw this picture today and I thought of that old small group conversational starter.  Pigs jumping, running and falling…you see, I can relate to each.  There are days when I am soaring.  Life is popping, things are happening, and there seems to be excitment in the air.  Other days, I'm just running…and running…and running, trying to keep up.  You know what I mean, it seems like the world is spinning by me and I'm trying with everything I got to keep up.  And then there are the days when my snout is in the chips.   Yep, those days when I'm face down (or belly up) simply exhausted.  

So, in many respects, what seems to be a pleasant picture can bring you some insight on where you feel life is at the moment.  Today, well, I'm running like a greased pig!  The last few weeks, I've convinced myself of my invincibility and so I'm plowing through life full speed ahead.  Of course, it doesn't take much more intelligence than a pig to realize where that race is going to end.  So, I ask you…who are you?  Which pig can you relate to and why?  I know…I know.  More to come…

When a picture says a 1000 words…

558540_3949823858932_1137222128_nI love photos…but my love for photos is ONLY matched and exceeded by my lovely wife, Vicky.  I don't know what got into her but yesterday she had to pull out a old photo of our wedding and post it as her new profile pic on Facebook.  Now, I am not easily embarrassed and yes, I have been repeatedly harrassed by the amount of hair I had just a short 20 years ago.  Even so, this pic says 1000's of words…joy, love and celebration – the type of celebration that continues to this day!

That's what photos do for us don't they…in many respects they are like a time machine.  You can't relive past moments because once a precious moment has past, it is just that, past!  One of the many reasons why that powerful book by de Cassade, The Sacrament of the Present Moment is so powerful.  

Here's a snippet of the book,

"…the present moment is like a desert in which simple souls see and rejoice only in God, being solely concerned to do what He asks of them…God uses these souls to undertake and carry out His secret purpose, whether it occupies them passively within themselves or actively outside themselves." Jean-Pierre De Caussade

You see, you have moments in your life that are FILLED with potentiality and the presence of the miraculous.  There are moments that are painful and stressful but even in those times once you see moments as sacramental, the possibilities of what even painful hours can become is beyond exciting.  They capture the adventure of living in relationship with God that never wastes a moment…remember, "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it."  Remember, "that God causes all things to work to the good for those who love God…"  Hard to swallow those words unless you KNOW that every moment is filled with the presence of God.  And it is that presence, not in what God can do for you in those moments, but what you experience IN the presence of God in those moments that make them precious.  So, pictures can say a 1000 or more words…why?  Because they are not just snapshots of times gone by but they are glimpses in the powerful and miraculous presence of God who made those moments have meaning and purpose in our lives.

Beyond all the "theologizing", the pic is simply cool!  That chick with me?  Hot and wonderful!  I can think of at least a 1000 words to describe her!  Now, on to the present moment!

Something for us to consider…

AimagesIt started out as a strange bit of conversation…Vicky and I were talking politics.  We don't do that often, but that was the subject for a few moments last weekend.  I turned to her and said, "I'm just about to the end of my rope.  This might be the time to simply bail on watching, listening or even caring about what's going on in the political arena."  Now, my dear wife is smart and inquisitive and quickly asked why I would consider something so out of character for me…it is not that I love political conversation but I do care deeply about what is going on in the world and I do believe that government has some obligation to "rule" people in a manner that is just, wise and allows people the freedom to be the people God has made us to be.  I stand politically where I stand in many issues in life…firmly in the "middle."  I am not, will I ever be endeared to any party.  My allegiance is, as Derek Webb so well sang in one of my favorite songs of his, to a King and a Kingdom.  

Yet I digress…after commenting to Vicky that I was just about to pull the plug on anything that is arguing politics (I might add, some of my favorite shows on radio, the net and television have to do with news and political conversation), she asked why.  I said for me it is simple:

1.  I can't stand the demeanor of either side of the political persuasion anylonger.  They are more than devisive but they are promoting a polarization among people where what should provide the foundation for civil and caring discourse has deteriorated into argumentation, name calling, ridicule and disrepect.  

2.  There is no foundational frame of reference on TRUTH anylonger.  Both sides of the political debate accuse the other of not JUST misrepresenting facts or misinterpreting reality…now it is clear, each side is simply calling each other liars.  Here's the point – it is a rather long converstation to get into worldview perspectives and epistomological explanation so let me just say this – people have different frames of reference when interpreting reality.  I was telling Vicky last night – I could look at her fingernail color and say "that's red."  She looks at it and says, "you're a liar, it isn't red, it's purple."  Somebody else could join the conversation and say, "you both are liars, it isn't red or purple is is orange."  Now, from each person's frame of reference they are telling the truth and without some objective manner of evaluating reality or some foundational sense of what is reality everyone would be right "in their own eyes (see the end of the book of Judges in the bible for that goodie)."  So, here's the issue – everyone accuses the other of lieing and from their frame of reference they may be right.  But without some manner of evaluating reality conversation and debate has simply deteriorated into a shouting match of perceptions.  No winner in that game…everyone can manipulate perspectives on statistics and reality to look at what they want to look at as truth…since NO ONE sees truth as ultimate anylonger and since no one expects the truth to be told, it is now just a shouting match of accusing others of being liars.  I just can't stand that anylonger.  Really…

3.  Lastly, the issue of boredom.  Here's my take – no one is speaking what they really think anymore.  Both "sides" have entrenched themselves…everyone has talking points…every one has a script.  Honest questions posed by intelligent and inquisitive people don't matter to public servants anylonger…they have to say what "the party line" has told them to say.  That means this – you never hear anything different…you never hear something said with humility and forthrightness.  Different day – different faces – same "stuff."  Everything is rehearsed.  Everything is "teleprompted" for people to say.  So it doesn't matter what face you see or voice you hear, if they are coming from one party or the other they have to stay "on script."  That is driving me crazy.  I just want to shout out sometimes, "just tell me what YOU think."  But alas, it doesn't matter.  

Maybe Clint Eastwood had something really profound to say the other night that had nothing to do with his actual remarks.  Maybe we are all staring at empty chairs…maybe every candidate is a "Manchurian Candidate"…maybe everything is staged to a point where the average citizen really doesn't matter anylonger.  If you aren't being told the truth, if every candidate wants to marginalize you by pigeon-holing you and me into one extreme or another, if both parties are simply power hungry and not concerned or accountable to actually doing something to make the country more reflective, not just of the will of the people, but of the principles and freedoms given to us as a gift from God then may be it is time to simply ignore the process.  I don't know…maybe I'm wrong.  But I must admit, I am tired of the whole thing and it is only the first week of September.  

I'm sure there will be "more to come"…stay tuned!