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Is Technology Ruining The Next Gen’s Ability to Have a Conversation?

You’ve been seeing it for a number of years now – the prediction for millennials and younger. The warning that so much time spent on technological devices could cause damage to their social skills. So, the time has come to look at some anecdotal evidence:

Something happens on social media or in a texting dialogue, and a young person gets hurt. Rather than asking for clarification or an apology, she stews over it and fails to accomplish resolution.

Someone sends him a message, but since he wasn’t asked a question, he sees no point in responding.

She would like to sit down and thoroughly discuss some upcoming plans, but the new social norms dictate that she go with the flow, not ask too many questions, and keep her feelings out of it.

He can carry a lively and meaningful conversation about pop culture, but when asked by someone close to him which traits he would like in a future wife and how he might give his children a Biblical worldview, he feels extremely awkward and changes the subject.

She’s learned a lot through social media about how to keep and lose “friendships” in her life. Unfortunately, many of those lessons ignore the technique and benefits of challenging, deep conversations.

He did respond to the question she messaged to him, but it’s been so long since she asked it, she has to go back to the original text to see what he was talking about. Waiting several days to finish a discussion is deemed so acceptable these days that the possible consequences can be forgotten.

 Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

1. Look no further than to John, the Bible’s relational expert who taught the importance of meaningful conversation for the purposes of:

  • Talking with others about what really matters in life (Jn. 1; 3:27-36; 5:31-47; 20:11-18)
  • Understanding eternal needs, even if asking is intimidating and you need to talk about it in a very private setting (Jn. 3:1-21)
  • Confessing sin to God and safe persons so that repentance and authentic relationship will follow (Jn. 4:1-42; 5:1-15)
  • Learning how to pray, the most important communication of all (Jn. 4:46-53; 11:1-44; 17:1-26)
  • Becoming a good listener, open and teachable, and speaking carefully in order to better hear (Jn. 6:22-40; 21:15-19)
  • Applying meaningful words and explanations to thoughtful actions so that others feel secure and loved (Jn. 13:1-17; 19:25-27) 
  • Speaking wisely, gently, and humbly the words to others that God wants them to hear, when they need to hear them (1 Jn. 1:1-3)
  • Living in the joy of having face-to-face, transparent conversations (2 John 12)

2. Motivated by the above: a) admit the areas of communication where you are personally weak b) study Scripture for lessons in the art of dialogue c) don’t let technology shape you into someone you don’t want to be and d) begin practicing a more considerate, thoughtful approach to interacting with others.

A word spoken in due season, how good it is! (Prov. 15:23)

The Missing Key To Finding Balance

Desiring balance is a worthy goal, but are Americans really all that balanced? There is so much focus in society to be extremely successful while also being perfectly balanced that you may be confused and actually find yourself unsuccessful and out-of-balance. But there is a way to find that happy medium. At the core of being balanced is having an ability to juxtapose opposites, or to be both/and. Consider the following examples:

You love your child, but can’t approve of his unbiblical choices. How well are you able to balance that out? Unbalanced extremes: you show so much grace that you teach him nothing, or you show so much disapproval that he feels only shame. Balanced: he feels safe with you even while knowing your Biblical worldview. It’s both/and.

You want to have a good lifestyle for your family while juggling multiple schedules. How well are you able to balance that out? Unbalanced extremes: you’re so structured your kids are becoming resentful, or you’re so flexible you’ve even lost your own personal self-discipline. Balanced: you’ve separated which areas of your life to keep open for change and which to guard as non-negotiable. It’s both/and.

You know it’s important to be physically healthy, while having other priorities. How well are you able to balance that out? Unbalanced extremes: you’re so preoccupied with what you eat and your workouts that you’re unpleasant to be around if there are any interferences, or you continually rationalize unhealthy choices. Balanced: you’ve talked with at least one significant person in your life to plan out the appropriate shopping list, cooking plans, and workout times so that loved ones, customers, etc. aren’t neglected while you are attending to your needs. It’s both/and.

You want to be smart about planning for the future, while knowing you might not see tomorrow. How well are you able to balance that out? Unbalanced extremes: you can’t think of the last time you asked yourself the question “Am I ready if Jesus comes today,” or you’ve given no thought at all to any long-term goals. Balanced: you contemplate this tension regularly, such as on the Sabbath. It’s both/and.

You want to believe you are sensitive without losing logic. How well are you able to balance that out? Unbalanced extremes: much of your decision-making is emotionally-driven, or you’re so passionate about efficiency that you regularly step on people’s toes. Balanced: you sort out thoughts, emotions, facts, opinions, truth, and lies about each situation before you respond. It’s both/and.

Navigating the world around you in a both/and way is Biblical and Christ-like…because you follow a both/and God. After all, “the Lord gave…and the Lord has taken away.” (Job. 1:21)

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Think like Him – it will make you mentally healthy. His both/and thoughts are higher than the ones naturally in our brains. (Is. 55:9)

Plan like Him – it will leave you less frustrated. In His both/and ways, He allows what He hates – to accomplish what He loves. (Joni Eareckson Tada)

Do relationships like Him – it will bring you closer to people. Because of His both/and attributes, in His compassion, He restrained his anger often and did not stir up His wrath. (Ps. 78:38)

Seek the both/and paradox, and you will achieve a most balanced/successful life.

A Vital Book for Middle Schoolers, with Essential Information for High Schoolers & Parents

“Shut Up: Silence the Negative Thoughts in your Head,” by Christy Pierce is a book that would be very significant for middle school students (and their parents) to read. And for high school students, who are already well into these trenches, this book review provides relevant advice.

Ultimately, “Shut Up” points out –

  • There are multi-faceted reasons for the anxiety/depression epidemic in teens today.
  • Many young people are under great pressure resulting in struggles of low self-worth, shame, perfectionism, self-hatred, performance anxiety, generalized anxiety, depression, guilt, obsessive thoughts, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts.
  • Kids are not talking to adults like they should because they are believing lies about them instead of trusting them.
  • Because of the dark nature of common thoughts and modern behaviors, evil forces must be at play a lot of the time.
  • There are 4 kinds of thoughts speaking to youth today. They are the voices of: others (can be good or bad), self (can be good or bad), the Enemy (always bad) or God (always good). Many teens today are not listening to any of the good voices because the bad voices are so loud.
  • The ultimate solution is determining to learn how to tune into God’s Voice.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Middle Schoolers –

  • Read this book for the stats, stories, and solutions. You will need them, if you don’t already.

High Schoolers –

  • Get it out in the open. You are either hearing about anxiety, depression, and damaging thoughts; or you’re dealing with it personally. Transparency walks you to freedom! (1 Jn. 1:5-10)
  • Most of you have at least one wonderful adult in your life that you can talk to about hard matters. Choose to believe that. Stop buying into the lies that adults in your life will judge you. Trusting an adult with your battles will be the best thing you ever did.
  • The very safest adults encourage you to believe God’s voice and not the enemy’s. Stop shutting Christian adults out. Tell them everything and let them speak soothing, life-changing Truth into your mind and heart.

Adults –

  • Taking seriously the impact of spiritual forces doesn’t mean you are being mystic. First, spiritual warfare is entirely Biblical, and second, it really does explain the degree of darkness present in the struggles of this generation (prevalence of mental illness, cutting, eating disorders, and suicide).
  • Work overtime to show youth that you’re safe. Be approachable so they will come talk to you and/or ask you if they can work with someone to help them expose negative thoughts and listen to God’s voice. If needed, help them find the right mentor, youth pastor, discipleship-leader, or counselor to come alongside you/them in this journey. Give them plenty of grace, and do not shame them for dealing with these matters.
  • “Shut Up” does talk about demons, but don’t let that keep this book away from your middle schooler. Read it first, or alongside them, and be encouraged that God’s power prevails over darkness.
  • Drawing near to the next generation through these troubling issues could be the best way to lead them to an active, freeing relationship with the Lord that would change their lives forever!

“We…wrestle…against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand…” (Ephesians 6:12b-13a)

Why You and Your Family Should Have a Technology Celebration

Maybe you can do it over dinner one night, or try it out on a long car ride. No matter where, just invite your family to gather together and make a list of all the ways technology is great. Make sure to include the benefits to work, education, etc. Take your time and don’t leave anything out. Keep in mind – it is important for your kids to hear your contributions to this activity. Why?

  • You will be connecting with them over their interest.
  • You will be modeling gratitude.
  • You will be showing them you don’t think technology is all bad; and this will lower their defenses.

Then, ask them this crucial question:

In this technological age, how and when do you take care of your soul?

After they stutter through some inadequate answers, it’s time to make another list together.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Ask everyone the following:

-How can you make it practical to take time away from technology each day so your spirit can be silent and listen to the whispers of God? (1 Kings 19:12; Ps. 46:10; Is. 42:5)

-How can you schedule regular time to be unplugged in God’s Creation in order to see and remember the details of His works and get to know Him better there? (Neh. 9:6; Ps. 19:1; 111:2-4; Is. 40:26)

-Which ways will you commit to engaging with the world by using only your bodily senses, stimulating your internal God-given creativity without the use of technology? (Ex. 31:1-11; 35:1-35; Ps. 34:8; Rom. 12:1)

-When will you make time to come away from social media and heal from the ways you’ve been hurt there? (Ps. 6:2, 147:3; Prov. 3:7-8; Song 2:10; 1 Pet. 5:7-11)

-How can you increase the skill of fully experiencing a person or event in the moment? (Ruth 1:16; Prov. 16:24; Mt. 2:10; Rom. 12:10; Gal. 6:2)

-When can you take breaks from technology in order to stay in God’s Word long enough for it to have a powerful impact for your life? (Ps. 119:62, 147; Jer. 23:29; Mt. 4:4; Jn. 6:35; Col. 3:16; Heb. 4:12)

-Ultimately, how will you enact personal discipline regarding technology, for the sake of your holistic well-being? (Deut. 8:5; Prov. 5:23, 25:28; 1 Cor. 9:27; Gal. 5:22-23; 2 Tim. 1:7, 3:2-4; Titus 2:11-13; Heb. 12:9-11; 2 Pet. 1:5-7; Rev. 3:19)

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. (Eccl. 3:1)

The Message of the Blue Dress

It was more silent than “Make America Great Again,” but Melania Trump’s Inauguration suit had a slogan as well: #JustBecauseYouCanDoesn’tMeanYouShould. She’s a young, former model who could have chosen to dress in a way that reflects this current culture – casual and/or seductive. Instead, her tribute to dresses of the past promoted elegance and modesty.

Everyone’s talking about how beautiful she was, and there’s a lot of chatter right now about female leaders who are promoting their causes, but what can women learn from the First Lady’s silent leadership through her much-admired outfit?

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

  1. Even if you have a figure that enables you to wear revealing clothing, remember that your body can be appreciated just as much when wearing fuller coverage. “Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her…the king loved Esther…and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen…” (Esther 2:15b, 17)

2. You can still present yourself in a current, stylish manner even if you purposely choose not to participate in certain fashion trends. And an extra benefit to you is that you become more confident when you display such courage and strength. “’All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” (1 Cor. 10:23-24)

3. Comfort isn’t everything. Perhaps Melania’s hands grew hot and sweaty wearing gloves for hours. Maybe they weren’t even texting gloves. She sacrificed her pleasure for the country’s best, for all the young girls watching. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:3-4)

For more Biblical passages and practical application for purposeful dressing, click here.

Should Everyone Go to College after High School?

The decade you’re in your 20’s has more available to you than media and college admissions departments would have you believe. In fact, “success” doesn’t have to be defined so narrowly at all. For example,

The Foto Sisters – Addie, Katie, and Gaylyn are classically trained musicians using their talents in strings, piano, and vocals to instruct young pupils, perform for various audiences, and bring God glory in all they do. They didn’t have to commit to four years of living at a university in order to work with various professors, and they already have their own teaching studios. The three of them share a Facebook page in order to remain balanced with social media, while also staying connected online. But their favorite and best communication shines forth when they are fellowshipping face-to-face with their brothers and sisters in Christ. They submit to the wise counsel of their parents as they continue to grow and develop into adulthood, and are open to any changes in direction the Lord may ask them to make. The Foto sisters are so mature, educated, accomplished, and full of character, that you’d never meet them and think they would be better off being college students.

Grace Mally – The youngest child of the Mally family, Grace grew up embedded in her family’s ministry. At a very young age, she co-authored a book with her brother and sister about forging close sibling relationships, and she spent much of her youth playing an active role hosting purity conferences under the leadership of her older sister. But Grace clearly owns her faith. She’s been blogging for 9 years already, recently published her own book, and spends her days interacting with strangers for the grand purpose of connecting them deeply to Christ. Grace Mally is so poised, well-spoken, confident, and assured of her purpose, that you’d never meet her and think she is missing a degree.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

*You may already have such a strong sense of life-calling and be so mature, that college may not be required for you to reach your dreams (even if higher education is necessary for most 18-year old’s to accomplish their goals).

*Some fields simply don’t have the need for a college degree. Therefore, if you went to college, you’d be spending money on information not needed for your job.

*Some high schools today are as academically rigorous and demanding as college was in the previous generation. Some of you need a break and to experience the working world for a while. There are other situations where some students find the idea of going off to college to be overwhelming and need a little more time at home to grow and prepare for that next stage.

*Many colleges and universities have an overinflated price tag making them not a good return on investment. The decision for college should be made according to whether the money spent is going to pay off with the job you obtain upon graduation. Further, more and more schools are pushing an agenda that some students simply don’t want to pay money to hear. In both cases, a second look may be warranted.

*You can always go back to school later in life when you may know better what field of study you want to put your money towards. Or you may just take some classes now and look at a 4-year degree later. Also, there are some things you can do at this age that you will not be able to do when you’re older; and you may want to take advantage of them now while you have the chance, and delay full-time college until after this opportunity has passed.

*Just because college is right for the majority, doesn’t mean it’s best for everyone. If the Holy Spirit leads you, and your parents agree, you can follow a lesser traveled road like the young ladies mentioned above.

*And even if you decide to attend university right after 12th grade, it doesn’t mean you have to follow the world’s definition of a typical college student’s lifestyle. The Foto Sisters and Grace Mally are beautiful examples of young women who are experiencing life to the fullest, making impact, using their God-given gifts, and are satisfied by Christ as very young adults. There’s no reason being enrolled in college has to make you any different. Don’t let technology and culture force you into a small mold when the Lord gives you an entire universe.

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Tim. 4:12)