Ten Truths for the Teenage Girl – Because It Matters Who You’re Becoming
This past Saturday a sweet woman and a friend I’ve known for some time invited me to a birthday tea she hosted for her 13-year-old girl. Before the celebration, she asked a few ladies to write down a few things to encourage her girl as she is stepping boldly into her teenage years. As I sat and stared a blank document all last week, these ten things came to mind that I wanted to share with her. So, here we are. Of course, this list is just scratching the surface of things we need to be teaching those younger than us, but we have to start somewhere, right?
Dear _________________,
Life is learned as you live it, but as my mind started spinning, my fingers slowly started typing the things that I wish someone would have told me at 13 years young. And although I’m sure someone did tell me these things, I probably didn’t listen because I probably thought I already knew everything. Grin. So I’m praying that even if these words seems useless or boring to you today, that you would keep them tucked away and read them when life seems confusing or hard.
For years I’ve loved the word becoming. It’s one of those words that I’ve latched onto for different reasons and at times have even desired to start a ministry called “Becoming Ministries”. Don’t tell me you don’t think things like that, too. And if you don’t, well, just humor me. I really latched onto that word in college because I remember thinking that that season would either make me or break me. That who I chose to become in college would influence the rest of my life.
That is true, but what I realize now is that it starts long before college.
The choices you make affect who you are becoming long before you ever get to college.
You are always becoming. You never arrive. That is, until you meet Jesus face to face. Until then, it’s one long (or short the way you look at it) journey of becoming more like Jesus Christ. Because each circumstance and situation we find ourselves planted in is another opportunity to respond like Jesus would. Continue reading


3 Trends Redefining the Information Age   by Barna Group

Twitter, Facebook, eBooks, news feeds, mobile apps are all information sources that didn’t exist just a few years ago, and they are changing the way the modern consumer processes information.These digital mediums have introduced to reading and to information a whole new level of scrolling, skimming and synopsizing. All of this has vast implications for the future of content and communication, including the future of books.

Barna Group’s new study uncovers three of the trends that are redefining the information age.

1) People feel modern life is accelerating and becoming more complex.

“It’s complicated” – this is how the majority of adults today describe modern life, according to Barna research. The increasing digitalization of life, economic pressures, the disintegration of the family, shifting moral moorings and many other factors all contribute to this shared sense of cultural acceleration. But whatever the reasons, two-thirds of adults today say the complexity of modern life is only growing.

Those who particularly feel these strains fall into one of two demographics, according to the survey. The first is those who lack certain social supports such as quality education, a stable or sufficient income, or a spouse with whom to face life’s challenges. Downscale adults, defined as those whose annual household income is less than $20,000 and who have never attended college, are the most likely to say life is getting more complicated (79%). In addition, those who make $40,000 or less per year (71%), those with a high school education or less (70%) and unmarried adults (70%) all feel this complexity more than the average adult.

The second group is people of faith. The research shows that among faith demographics, evangelicals (71%) and Catholics (71%) are the most likely to agree life is getting more complex. This may suggest that evangelicals and Catholics, who both subscribe to a precise set of community and theological convictions, are sensing a growing disparity between the rhythms and values of their faith and the demands of a rapidly changing culture. As a result, many look to sources of information that can reconcile that widening divide and offer the balm of clarity in the midst of a complex culture. Continue reading


Clique Collaboration   by www.ypulse.com

Clique Collaboration is a trend we see impacting multiple areas of Millennials’ lives.

When talking about some of the core characteristics of Millennials, group oriented always makes the list. They’re team players who learned to work together from young ages thanks to teams where everyone got a trophy and classrooms where group efforts were applauded over individual accomplishments. So we’ve known for more than a decade that they are group oriented, but how does that tendency to work as a group play out in their lives today?

Millennials have begun to reach beyond their offline peer group and tap into smaller, niche groups with shared interests and goals in order to form bonds and work together on common, passion-driven objectives. 62% of Millennials think you can make your voice heard more online than offline, and 72% think it is easier to find people who share common interests/passions with them online than it is to find them in real life. They’re using the tools at their fingertips to create new “cliques” that collaborate together, often through digital means, to create and share information, enact change, and improve one another’s lives. This Clique Collaboration mentality has a broad impact, influencing everything from dating to entrepreneurship to fandom. Continue reading


5 Skills Every Parent Needs to Have   by Mark Gregston

Parenting a teenager can feel like you’re stuck in a survival story.  There are sand traps, pitfalls, and ferocious animals, and the farther you travel through the trial, the more lost you can feel.  That’s why every mom and dad needs to load up on five skills that will not only help them endure the perils of adolescence, but make their family thrive in the process.  These abilities are by no means an exhaustive list. But after decades of working with and ministering to teens and parents, I’ve pinpointed five key abilities that spell the difference between a family that survives and thrives, and one that is barely hanging on and looking for the rescue copter.

Know What You Believe

Winston Churchill, one of the greatest leaders in history, once said, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”  To survive the perils of the teenage years, mom and dad need to know what they believe and plan accordingly.  You can’t wait till your daughter is standing at the door with her boyfriend to decide what the dating guidelines will be for your home.  Why wait until your teenage son sleeps in on a Sunday, to tell him that he has to attend church?  A primary skill in parenting is sitting down, discussing, and developing your beliefs about the various issues you’ll encounter with your teenagers.  Sooner or later you’ll have to deal with concerns about music, dating, schoolwork and finances, to name a few.  Planning ahead allows you to communicate guidelines to your kids early and often.  Then, when the issue comes up, everyone knows the rules and expectations for the home.

Know How to Communicate

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Communication Hints With Your Child   by Mark Gregston

As a child moves from his elementary years into early adolescence, it’s essential that the style of communicating with your child change with them.  They are moving from “concrete” thinking to “abstract” thought. What was “non-hormonal” now becomes laced with hormones. Total dependence moves closer to independence. While they have always wanted to listen, now they want to express.

It’s important for parents to transition with their child, to change their style of communication rather than not talking at all. Sadly, if this transition is not accomplished, then the next time that communication, or lack thereof, shows itself, is when your child begins to struggle or have difficulties, and desperately needs someone to talk to.

There is a scripture that has always stuck with me as one of those that accurately reflects the condition of most teens, and the “should-be role” of most parents.  It’s when Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden (the condition of the teens part), and I will give you rest for your soul” (the parent’s part). The hope is that we, as parents, become that place of rest for our kids….a place where they might be restored.

Too many times parents become a place of added burden or hardship, or an extra “measure” of correction when correcting has already been done.  Moms have the tendency to do the “Energizer Bunny communication” that just keeps on going and going and going, and dads have that tendency to not “go to bat” and just ignore those situations when communication is needed the most.  Moms, your over-correcting is not giving your child rest. And Dad, your not “speaking up” is not restoring anyone.  The balance will be that place of rest, so work hard to find that medium of the “Mom and Dad mix”. Continue reading


4 apps kids are using that parents really should know about


Parenting tweens and teens is challenging enough, but the prevalence of tech in most kids’ lives makes it that much more important for parents to try and stay one step ahead. Where safe internet browsing was once our biggest concern, now smart phones and social networking apps have introduced a whole new dimension to potential tech misuse that we want to stay on top of.

While most parents are up to speed on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more and more, Snapchat–new social networking apps launch every day with kids often the earliest adopters.Here, a round-up of four of the most popular new apps that parents definitely should know about. (PS at the end is some new info on Snapchat that you should know!)

If you see any of these on your kids’ devices, time to have a talk. Continue reading


Why Should We Stop Just Because the Devil Gets in the Way?   by Rick Renner

Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. — 1 Thessalonians 2:18

If you are going to do anything significant for the Kingdom of God, you must know in advance that Satan will not be delighted about it. He will try to stop you, thwart you, and dissuade you from staying on track. The last thing he wants is for you to step into the middle of God’s will for your life, because he knows the moment you do, mighty and powerful things will begin to happen that negatively affect his dark kingdom. Therefore, Satan will most definitely do all he can to keep you from getting where God wants you to be!

In this verse, Paul gives his own testimony of how Satan tried to hinder him from doing what God put in his heart. He wrote, “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.”

The word “hindered” is the Greek word egkopto. This word was used to depict a runner who was elbowed out of the race by a fellow runner. However, it was also used to picture the breaking up of a road to make it impassable for travelers. This kind of impasse made it impossible for a traveler to get where he needed to go. As a result, the traveler’s trip was hindered,delayed, postponed, or temporarily put off. The traveler could still take another route to get to the same destination, but the alternate route was inconvenient, cost a lot of extra money, and took precious time that could have been used another way. Continue reading


 How Technology Is Changing Millennial Faith   by Barna Group

They’re called digital natives for good reason—Millennials certainly stand apart from other generations in terms of their technological savvy. They’re also in a class of their own when it comes to faith experience and practice.

But what happens when the unique spiritual and technological trends among Millennials collide? Our latest study explores just that.

The Church has always used regular habits and practices designed to help people worship. These habitual practices—such as prayer, Scripture reading, Sabbath observance, gathering every Sunday and more—have been part of the Church throughout the centuries.

Today there’s a new dimension that is reshaping personal spirituality, particularly among younger generations. The advent of the Internet and, more recently, social media have shaped personal habits significantly. The first and last thing most people do every day is check their phones. When they want to know an answer to a question, they “Google it.” Scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds has become a fixture of leisurely activity.

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Does Media Really Influence Teens?   by Jeremy Zach

Today’s teens spend a lot of time listening to music, watching movies and TV and surfing the internet.  According to the article, Generation M:  Media in the lives of 8-18 Year-Olds:

–  Students spend, on average 6.5 hours per day with media

–  Students spend more than 3 hours a day watching TV

–  26% of the time students are using more than one media device.  This means that 8.5 hours’ worth of media per day is packed into 6.5 hours

–  Students read an average of 45 minutes a day.

The reality is today’s teens are bombarded and absorbed with media.  So do you think we (youth pastors, leaders and parents) can fight the compelling influential power of media?

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