Monday, November 30, 2009

Seeking The Orgasmic Now. . . .

Yesterday we sat with some beloved friends in a local Chinese joint eating lunch and talking about - among other things - the state of the church. They were visiting from out-of-town and had just spent the morning worshipping with us at our church. Because I'm a culture-watcher whose travels take him to churches that span the style and substance spectrum, I'm forced to think about these things far more than I'd like to or would ever choose to. But I've learned that thinking about these things is necessary and unavoidable. Far more than we know or imagine hangs in the balance, and if we don't understand that fact now, we'll be leaving it to church history to offer a balanced analysis of our times. . . particularly the mistakes we're making.

Our mealtime conversation began with "what did you think of our worship service?" and continued with some stimulating dialogue about what people look for in a church, and whether or not that's unbalanced or misdirected.

I appreciated the conversation because our friends are extremely thoughtful, and because of some reading I had done earlier in the week. On Thanksgiving I had finished Michael Horton's latest book, The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World. I blogged earlier this year about Horton's previous book, Christless Christianity. Horton is a deep-thinking theologian and cultural critic who has a great knack for forcing us to ask the questions we need to be asking. Sadly, I'm not sure he's going to get the hearing that he should.

In The Gospel-Driven Life, Horton talks about how we've lost our capacity to wait for things. We want everything quickly in the here and now. He says this has impacted us negatively as individuals, as churches, and as a culture. Because convenience takes precedence over quality, we have sacrificed much in terms of depth and growth. For example, "it takes time to make a good bottle of wine and the better reds may not reach their maturity for years." This bent has found its way into the way that we perceive and live out our Christian life. It has also found its way into how we choose and evaluate corporate worship. . . and even our churches.

Horton says we live in an "exuberant cult of the immediate experience." Perhaps his most eye-opening and accurate assessment of our allegiances, preferences, and commitments is that "every moment must be orgasmic." He says "we are terrified of being bored." How true. I see it in my own life and in the lives of those I know the best.

Here are some related thoughts from Horton's book that I found to be very challenging. As you read them, think about your church, yourself, and your kids. . . .

"Let's face it: a traditional Christian service of public invocation, Bible reading, prayers, preaching, and sacraments is not ordinarily fun. 'It's like watching corn grow,' as they say. There is no excuse for pastors to be so aloof, lax, or distracted from their congregation that there is no connection. Nevertheless, on an average month of Sundays, every believer should find church a little boring. I find marriage a little boring. And raising four children. And going to work every day. I am even bored by travel, although as a boy I went through the 'I want to be a pilot' phase. It's old hat now.

If we all made our decisions based on how highly it scored today on the fun meter, we would never commit ourselves to relationships and processes that take a long time to see any results. Our culture is falling apart over this one. The result is that we demand cargo ships full of meaningful, life-altering, transformative, explosive, and unique experiences every day and are losing our appreciation for the role that a child's smile has in the grand scheme of things. Every date night has to be the Love Boat, every family vacation must fill albums worth of memories, and church can't be church; it has to be a 'worship experience' that alters one's cell structure every time. . . .

Imagine what would happen if we determined what we would learn, teach, or endure on the basis of what William James called 'its cash-value in experiential terms.' Children would not learn the alphabet, the multiplication tables, primary colors, or the basic grammar of the Christian faith. School would be recess all day: filled with games and free play. There would be no great food, friendships, marriages, families, buildings, farms, athletes, or concerts. Ironically, the pursuit of instant gratification and perpetual amusement creates its own self-enclosed world of boredom. Spoiled children (of whatever age) are never satisfied.

The younger generations today have seen it all. They have been to every theme park, have every gadget, and know every band. The expression on a lot of their faces tells it all: 'Been there, done that, got the shirt.' And they are consummately bored. Now growing numbers of them us they are especially bored with the 'contemporary worship experience.' Our fear of God must become greater than our fear of boredom. Making disciples, like making crafts, great works of art, fine wine, a memorable dinner, and raising children, takes a long time. It is like watching corn grow and that's exactly what we are: a harvest whose first fruits have already been raised and exalted. . . .

Like a good parent, God knows that if we had all the cotton candy we wanted, we would not only be sick but would miss out on the dinner he has prepared. . . .

We try to pull God down from heaven or bring Christ up from the dead by our feverish activity, assimilating God's story to the cult of immediate gratification. As with all forms of nihilism, this illness can be remedied only by rebuilding our connection to a significant beginning and future destiny, with our present moment as part of a pilgrimage instead of a frantic zig-zagging from each exciting attraction at the carnival of death disguising itself as life."

I encourage you to read The Gospel-Driven Life. You can download and read Chapter 1 here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2:20 and Thanksgiving. . . .

Twelve days ago I issued this challenge to our blog visitors: Let's give glory, honor, and thanks to the God who has given us all things by getting 20 more Compassion children sponsored by Thanksgiving. I want to remind you all of that challenge.

I'm asking you to pass the challenge on to your family as you gather around your Thanksgiving table in less than 48 hours. Here are three things I'd like you to share:

First, as you fill your plates, ask the folks around the table to guess this year's average cost for a Thanksgiving meal for 10 people. It's $42.91. Then, let them know that it costs less than the price of this one meal - $38 - to sponsor a Compassion child for one month!

Second, as you finish your meal, gather your family around the computer and watch this moving little 2 minute and 20 second clip from Compassion.

Third, prayerfully consider pooling your resources to sponsor a Compassion child. If you decide to sponsor a child, click here and then choose the child you'd like to sponsor.

I have seen firsthand what child sponsorship does in the life of a child and his/her family. It is transforming in ways that you cannot even begin to imagine. I know I couldn't imagine it until I saw it for myself. I believe in the work and ministry of Compassion International. I am grateful to God for their work in His world.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Do What Just Feels Right. . . .

Youth culture is a map and a mirror. It is both directive and reflective. We watch it to see where it's sending us and our kids. We watch it to see where we are. We monitor, deconstruct, and exegete it to know how to bring the map of the Biblical world and life view to bear on the realities that exist. A world that's not the way it's supposed to be keeps heading in that direction. We're in desperate need of being straightened out, fixed, and made new. That's why we listen and watch carefully.

Looking for a cultural map and mirror to ponder and talk about over the next month or so? Here's one worth engaging.

"You 86 the rules. You do what just feels right. . . "

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Levi, Playgirl, and Youth Culture. . . .

My buddy Andy Brazelton from Simply Youth Ministry has been in town visiting us at CPYU for the last couple of days. Since this is his first-time here in Central Pennsylvania and the Lancaster County area, he's got lots of questions about the unique and sometimes unusual culture. It doesn't help that Andy grew up in Southern California - a culture that's just a little bit different from ours here.

When Andy arrived at the office yesterday we stood together in the parking lot. We talked about things like our unique local smells (could be pig farm or it could be chocolate. . . depending on which way the wind is blowing), our local food, how green it is, and the Amish. It wasn't long before the conversation turned to our local celebrities and their now-familiar and empty house that we could see just a few hundred feet from where we were standing. Andy asked about what the madness was like in our neighborhood before Jon and Kate (I don't even have to mention their last names anymore and you know who they are!) up and moved a year ago this weekend. Andy was surprised when I mentioned that there really was no "madness" related to gawkers and paparazzi a year ago.

Think about that for a second. The craziness, fame, spin, tabloid obsession, and personality makeovers the pair are locked in is really only a few months old! As Andy and I were talking, I realized that we are living in some pretty unique times. Theologically speaking, our fallen nature is fed and nurtured by a rapidly changing culture that not only worships celebrities, but allows and encourages anyone who so desires to pursue the creation of a personal brand and celebrity-status through the use (or more accurately "the abuse")of developing technologies. Don't believe it? Just consider exhibit A: the family of "Balloon Boy," who by the way, live in Andy's SoCal neighborhood!(Imagine that. . . . two guys from different sides of the country standing in a parking lot. . . talking about the famous people they live near. That's how common achieving fame is now).

All of this got me thinking about our current publicity-seeking self-made opportunity-grabbing celebrity-aspiring culture that's growing like a cancer and effecting our kids. It also got me thinking about the young celebrity dujour who's all over the news and most likely will be for a least a few weeks during his fifteen-plus minutes of fame. His name is Levi Johnston. He's a nineteen-year-old teenager we first met during the summer of 2008. He was thrown into the spotlight because he was the boyfriend of Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol. Soon after the unknown Palin was thrust into the spotlight, it was announced that Bristol was pregnant to Johnston.

Think about what's happened in the 14 short months since. There's a baby and Levi is out of the Palin family picture. But that doesn't mean he isn't in pictures. All this week the media's been pumping out info on Johnston's photo spread in the upcoming January edition of Playgirl magazine. What it appears Johnston is pursuing more than anything else is celebrity, fame, and fortune. Sadly, a host of people will buy into it and fall "in love" with Levi.

It will be interesting and sad to see how this already-sad story continues to play out. It offers what I think is a clear peek into where youth culture is and where it's headed. It tells us about what our culture and our kids value in life. It tells us just what "image" our kids desire to be conformed to. It also tells us just how difficult it's getting to lead kids to an understanding of the image to which they should aspire to conformity. Those of us who love and minister to kids long for them to go in one direction, while almost everything else in life pushes them 180 degrees in the opposite direction. What was once seen as vice is now pursued and embraced as virtue. I think if we were given the opportunity to stand outside of our culture and see it for what it really is, we'd see just how pathetic we've become.

The NIV translation of the Bible tells us in Acts 17 that when Paul walked into Athens and laid eyes on the landscape covered with idols, he was "greatly distressed." I'm afraid that our kids are living in the midst of stuff that leaves them "greatly impressed." Let's hope and pray that even though we live in the same landscape, we won't lose our ability to see things for what they really are. We have to. . . . for the sake of our kids. Like Paul, our distress should motivate us to serve as signposts pointing to the cross. . . the only source of transformed hearts and lives.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Before and After Thanksgiving. . . .

Even though I've discovered it's sometimes incredibly painful, I want to keep being an "after" guy. I look at the "befores" of my life and I'm not happy they were ever there. I'm grateful for the transformational interventions that have exposed my "beforeness" and led me into the "afters." I'm equally aware that my "now" is filled with "befores" that must become "afters." In the realm of theology, this is called "sanctification."

For me, Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the work of salvation and growth God is doing in my life and in His world. It's a time to thank God for the instruments he uses to expose my "befores" and lead me to the "afters." Usually these instruments are people.

This year I want to give honor and glory to God by inviting each of you to jump into something with me that will allow you to not only express your gratitude to the King for what He's doing in your life, but will allow you to become a person who triggers an amazing before to after transformation in a life desperately in need of such.

Here's the challenge: You and I have been given much in terms of material blessing. In reality, it's been entrusted to us rather than given. The God who's entrusted it to us commands us to use it to further His Kingdom and His glory. Sharing the wealth with those who have none is one way to make that happen. Because of that, I want to encourage you to give thanks by committing to monthly sponsorship of a Compassion child. When Lisa and I traveled to Rwanda and Kenya with Compassion earlier this year, we were blown away by what a simple drop-in-the-bucket gift of $38 a month will do to take a child - and his/her entire family! - from before into after.

I snapped loads of pictures of kids while we were there. The "before" kids rarely smiled, weren't getting an education, hadn't had the opportunity to hear about Jesus and grow in the faith, struggled to live, and were generally locked in a level of poverty marked by extreme lack of health and well being.

What struck us most about the "after" kids who are being sponsored by individuals and families here in the U.S. through Compassion International is that they are happy, are getting an education, are hearing about Jesus, are eating, are getting medical attention, and are pursuing dreams that will release them from poverty and into self-sufficiency for the rest of their lives.
Our sponsored child, Ibrahim, lives in some of the worst conditions I've ever seen but is one of the happiest and most satisfied human beings I've ever met. We asked numerous kids, "Tell me about your sponsor." In each and every instance, the child ran to grab a well-worn photo of their sponsor to proudly share with us. Then, the smiling child would proudly tell us the name and hometown of their sponsor. You can't even begin to imagine what it means to these kids.

Because I'm passionate about Compassion and convinced of the deep needs they are meeting in young lives globally, I'm endeavoring to rally the troops in the hope that at least 20 of you will step up by Thanksgiving to commit to child sponsorship through Compassion. If you are willing to do so, simply click here (or use the Compassion banner on the left side of this page) and you can start the process of choosing the child you'd like to see transformed from a "before" to an "after."

Child sponsorship triggers at least three things. . .

First, God is glorified. His heart is for the poor and He longs for those of us who have been given much to care for those who have been given little or nothing.

Second, a child and his/her family will be radically transformed - RADICALLY TRANSFORMED - from "before" to "after." I've seen it, and it's amazing.

And third, something will happen to you. The "before" to "after" transformation that will take place in you and your family as you engage in sponsorship is incredible. God will instill in you a heart for His world and bring you great joy. I've experienced it, and it's amazing.

Again, my goal is 20 kids sponsored by Thanksgiving. I'll keep you posted on our progress. If you're already a Compassion child sponsor, why not take a few minutes to comment below by sharing what sponsorship has meant to you. And if you're a person who decides to sponsor a Compassion child and join us in meeting the goal, would you leave a simple comment below by telling us why you're taking this step to change a life?

Thanks for considering this request!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Home Run. . . Keller! . . .

Since the release of his bestseller The Reason For God, Tim Keller has been on my list of "be sure to recommend and read everything he writes" list of authors. There are lots of books in the world and lots of people writing books. Because there are so many choices that your head can begin to spin, I've tried to be a responsible and picky filter as a service to those who trust my reading recommendations. In other words, I don't want to recommend just anything. I want people to come back to me and say "thanks for the recommendation. . . what else should I be reading?"

Yesterday, I finished Keller's latest little, easily read, yet meaty new book, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters. Keller hits it so far out of the park in this one that I'm going to watch the replay (read it again). . . and perhaps again. Because there's so much idolatry in me, there's so much in this book that I've got to ponder, digest, and take to heart. Reading Counterfeit Gods is like eating at Fogo de Chao - the Gauchos just keep coming and piling the feast of meat on your plate!

This is a meaty feast I need to eat. How easily I believe that the things that don't really matter really matter. I am prone to pursue. . . over and over and over again. . . created things rather than the Creator. The only One who can satisfy my deepest cravings is the One who made. While I can enjoy the things He's made, they can never fulfill.

Knowing what I know about Tim Keller, the Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, I don't think he'd be comfortable with my referring to Counterfeit Gods as a "home run." He's not concerned with putting on a show. He's more concerned with communicating a view of life that reflects the true nature of things as revealed in the Scriptures. His desire is to see his Redeemer - not himself - glorified. So, maybe I should just say that this is a book that's got the potential to rock your world, shake up your life, and change your priorities. . . not because it's written by Tim Keller, but because it reflects the deep truths of God's Word about God's rightful place in our sinful and fallen lives.

That said, let me whet your appetite with a couple of quotes from the book:

"The idol of success cannot be just expelled, it must be replaced. The human heart's desire for a particular valuable object may be conquered, but its need to have some such object is unconquerable. How can we beat our heart's fixation on doing 'some great thing' in order to heal ourselves of our sense of inadequacy, in order to give our lives meaning? Only when we see what Jesus, our great Suffering Servant, has done for us will we finally understand why God's salvation does not require us to do 'some great thing.' We don't have to do it, because Jesus has."

"When we are completely immersed in a society of people who consider a particular idolatrous attachment normal, it becomes almost impossible to discern it for what it is."

"Is there any hope? Yes, if we begin to realize that idols cannot simply be removed. They must be replaced. If you only try to uproot them, they grow back; but they can be supplanted. By what? By God himself, of course. But by God we do not mean a general belief in His existence. Most people have that, yet their souls are riddled with idols. What we need is a living encounter with God."

"It is impossible to understand your heart or your culture if you do not discern the counterfeit gods that influence them."

"There is no way to challenge idols without doing cultural criticism, and there is no way to do cultural criticism without discerning and challenging idols."

That's just a taste of some really, really good stuff.

Monday, November 9, 2009

13 Hours of Musical Ecstasy. . . .

I experienced a wonderful and long overdue musical convergence this weekend. Sitting on either side of my Saturday night sleep were two musical moments that initially might sound like something from opposite ends of the musical spectrum, but were actually quite similar. It's not coincidence that they both took place within the confines of the New England-style meeting house that we call the sanctuary at my church.

Saturday night I stepped out of my musical box to attend a hip-hop concert at my church. I've listened to my share of rappers over the years and I've got loads of their CDs on my shelves. Those albums have sat there unmoved and collecting dust from the moment I finished dissecting them as a part of a research project. The style's just not my cup-of-tea. Which makes what happened Saturday night on the front-end of my weekend's musical nexus even more interesting.

Hip-hop artist Shai Linne was performing. . . and it was good. Shai blew me away and brought great joy to my heart as he rapped the lyrics to his song "Greatest Story Ever Told." I was reminded once again how God is not only the author of an unfolding drama that is absolutely amazing, but that He's written me into the story. I stop to think about that far too infrequently. Here's the words Shai Linne shared and a link to a clip of the song:


Greatest Story Ever Told
written by s. linne

Verse 1
Alright check it: let’s go back in time, brethren
Divine lessons always keep your mind guessing
The glory of the Triune God’s what I’m stressing
The origin of humankind was fine- blessings
Were plenteous- God is amazingly generous
Crazy benefits in a state of innocence
God told the man what he could taste was limited
Not long after came our nemesis in Genesis
He scammed well, man fell, damned to hell
The whole human race- he represented it
Fooled by the serpent, man through his work
Woman through birth- even the earth ruled by the curses
But instead of a wake immediately
God said her Seed would be the One to crush the head of the snake
Yo, wait what’s this? Whoa, a gracious gift!
In Jehovah’s faithfulness He clothed their nakedness
This was so they would know their Savior’s kiss
And bliss- but first, many growing pains exist
Suffering in the worst form, ugly deeds
Eve’s firstborn seed made his brother bleed
Indeed things got progressively worse
Every section of the earth's been affected by the curse
And though God’s judgments against sin were gory
Praise the Lord! It’s not the end of the story

It's the greatest story ever told
A God pursues foes whose hearts turned cold
The greatest story ever told
Restoring all that the enemy stole
The greatest story ever told
The glory of Christ is the goal, behold
The greatest story ever told
It's the greatest...

Verse 2
Next scene: man’s sin was extreme
God gets steamed, man gets creamed
The Lord is so Holy that He drowned them in the water
Fire in the valley of slaughter- Sodom and Gomorrah
But at the same time, He’s so gracious and patient
That from one man He created a whole nation
Eventually enslaved by the mentally depraved
They cried out to the only One with the strength that He could save
He brought them out with signs and wonders- satisfied their hunger
Then He appeared on Mount Sinai in thunder
Where He laid down the law for God-ruled government
Commonly referred to as the Mosaic covenant
Sin’s imputed- so for man to know he’s unrighteous
God instituted animal sacrifices
This was to show our constant need for atonement
And when it came to sin, the Lord would never condone it
And when His people disobeyed and went astray
He raised up prophets and kings to lead them in the way
But they would get foul with their idolatry- wet and wild
Prophecy- send them into exile
To take their punishment like a grown man
Then with His own hand He placed them back in their homeland
And while in their forefather’s land they dwelt
They awaited the arrival of Emmanuel

It's the greatest story ever told
A God pursues foes whose hearts turned cold
The greatest story ever told
Restoring all that the enemy stole
The greatest story ever told
The glory of Christ is the goal, behold
The greatest story ever told
It's the greatest...

Verse 3
After 400 silent years filled with sighs and tears
In Bethlehem the Messiah appears
God in the flesh- Second Person of the Trinity
At thirty begins His earthly ministry
Baffling cats with accurate, exact facts
And back to back miraculous acts
A stumbling block to the self righteous
But the humbled- His flock, said “There’s no one else like this”
He came from heaven to awake the numb
Demonstrated His power over nature, son
A foretaste of the Kingdom and the age to come
But the reason He came was to pay the sum
For the depths of our wickedness, our wretched sinfulness
Bless His magnificence- He’s perfect and innocent
Yet He was wrecked and His death- He predicted it
Next He was stretched, paid a debt that was infinite
He said that He finished it- resurrected so the elect
would be the recipients of its benefits
Through faith and penitence we get to be intimate
His grace is heaven sent, it never diminishes
Now the Holy Spirit indwelling is the evidence
for heaven's future residents who truly represent
Jesus, the Author, Producer, Director and
Star of a story that will never, ever end!

The greatest story ever told
A God pursues foes whose hearts turned cold
The greatest story ever told
Restoring all that the enemy stole
The greatest story ever told
The glory of Christ is the goal, behold
The greatest story ever told
It's the greatest...

After a night of rest, I returned to the same sanctuary for worship. Our congregation stood together mid-service and with accompaniment from a blaring pipe organ, we joined together to sing William Cowper's famous hymn - "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" - penned in 1774. A man who had suffered great heartache and disappointment in his life, Cowper had also been miraculously invited by God into His story, a reality that sustained him during his ongoing struggles with manic depression. Cowper, a famous poet, found hymn writing to be therapeutic. As the story behind the hymn goes Cowper was out walking in the fields on a January day in 1773 when he was overcome by a great fear that he was soon going to fall into a major episode of depression. He went home, sat down, and penned the hymn. Not long after, he fell into a severe depression that lasted several months.

I don't know about you, but knowing the back story on this hymn that has already ministered to be deeply takes the hymn, my understanding of my Heavenly Father, and my spirit to new heights. Here's what Cowper wrote:

God Moves in a Mysterious Way
by William Cowper

1. God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

2. Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

3. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

4. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

5. His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

6. Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Today, I am grateful to God for the gift of music, and for the inspiration and talents he's given to people who can take us deeper into the very, very real things of life.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Devil Music? . . . .

Last Saturday I sat in on a very interesting group during the Open Source afternoon at the National Youthworkers' Convention in Cincinnati. One of the participants had suggested a discussion on "Teens and Media" that caught my attention. I wandered over and found the group. I listened intently as they knocked around ideas for dealing with issues of music and media with kids. While I was only in the group for a short period of time, I came away with a sense that we're all over the place on this issue. No consensus. . . either theologically or pragmatically.

Not surprising. Since I got involved in youth ministry back in the late 70s, this has been one of the most hotly debated issues. . . consistently. Back then, it was solely about music. Video games - or more accurately game (singular) - did exist, but I don't remember anyone raising any ethical or moral concerns about PONG. A sizable group of entrepreneurial types made a nice living traveling from church to church trumpeting the evils of rock and roll music, sometimes convincing easily convinced people that there were loads of hidden messages that could be heard when the music was played in reverse. . . . something my turntable (remember those?) and 8-track player (I'm sure you don't or don't want to remember those!) could never do anyway.

Here's the deal: it's a fact that our kids are growing up in a media-saturated world. Not only that, but the saturation gets greater and greater every day with the development of new technologies and delivery platforms competing for time and allegiance. It's a fact that kids are spending an increased amount of time with media. It's a fact that parents and other adults are largely clueless and/or uninvolved when it comes to helping kids wade through this stuff. It's a fact that the greatest power of music and media is it's power to shape young lives. . . .which will eventually become shaped old lives. It's a fact that the messages are getting edgier and edgier. PONG is no more! And, it's a fact that those who are Christ followers need to think seriously and theologically about the proper way to integrate their faith into all of life. . . including their use of media outlets and messages. Wow.

A couple of weeks ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a couple of reports that pound all of this stuff home in some compelling ways. First, there's the AAP's Policy Statement on Media Violence. There's also their Policy Statement - Impact of Music, Music Lyrics, and Music Videos on Children and Youth. Both reports serve as a wake-up call and rallying cry for greater involvement in this area of our kids' lives. To not do so, according to the reports, would be a gross oversight that will only contribute to the continued decline in the well being of our kids. You need to read them both.

After reading the reports I decided that it's important to remind you all of a few things. . .

1. This is serious stuff that we can't ignore. Media shapes and molds kids.

2. Because parents and other adults aren't doing what they should be doing in this area, pediatricians are being advised to understand and monitor the role of media in the lives of their young patients, even to the point of asking some very, very specific questions about media use. Read the recommendations in the reports.

3. The AAP issues a strong call to media literacy efforts among parents, schools, and communities "to educate children to be media literate as a means of protecting them against deleterious health effects of media exposure." This is the stuff that CPYU has been talking about for years. Not only that, but we've worked very hard to develop some practical tools for use in fostering thoughtful media consumption habits (media literacy) in kids. We've put together two guides - How to Use Your Head to Guard Your Heart: A 3(D) Guide to Making Responsible Media Choices that's a faith-based tool, and a similar non-sectarian tool we called Minding Your Media: A 3(D) Guide to Making Responsible Media Choices. The former teaches kids to evaluate everything they see and hear from a Christian/Biblical perspective. The latter does so based on timeless standards of character and virtue. We encourage youth workers and educators to use these tools regularly with their kids.

Just last week I took a look at this engaging video from the band Muse. Their song "Uprising" is hot right now. . . .

And, just last week we posted this review of "Uprising," a review based on our viewing of "Uprising" as seen through the filter of our media evaluation guide, How to Use Your Head to Guard Your Heart: A 3(D) Guide to Making Responsible Media Choices. If you haven't downloaded our piece on "Uprising" already, I encourage you to do so. You can download it here. Again, I can't emphasize enough how important it is to do this type of stuff with your kids on a regular basis.

Because the need is great, we need to answer the need. We've been collectively silent and/or so divided on this that we've wound up doing little or nothing to help our kids. Now, the medical community is speaking up - and they should - in an effort to pick up a ball that's been dropped by the family and church.