Taming the Tech Monster

Taming the Tech Monster image

TECH CONFERENCE OUTLINE

(for downloadable documents, click here)

PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR TAMING THE TECH MONSTER

1. Do something Different

2. You don’t have to be a tech expert, just be curious.

3. Treat technology and internet access as a privilege, not a right.

4. Ask yourself, “If I had a smartphone at 13, what would I have done with it?”

5. Remove the word “privacy” from your vocabulary (and from theirs).

6. Implement a daily no-screen time in your home.

7. Admit to and deal with your own tech addictions.

8. Teach and use technology as a supplement to life, and not as life itself.

9. Teach the 3 things you cannot trust: media, internet, and meteorologists.

10. Relay that anything shared on technology is never private and exists forever.

11. Create filters for everything, both internal and external.

  • EXTERNAL FILTERS
    • You and your wallet.
    • Physical placement of screens and screen use in your home.
    • Each individual device’s settings.
    • Parental control apps.
    • INTERNET FILTERS

Some of these are one time purchases. Some have monthly fees. Some work on certain operating systems and not on others. Some offer apps for your child’s devices that filter or monitor. But nothing is foolproof. Do your research, make an informed decision, and then GO! If something doesn’t work, make a change!

  • BEST OPTION: DEVELOP INTERNAL FILTERS WITHIN YOUR CHILD
    • START and CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION
      • Talk about internet dangers
      • Tell them why they won’t have the same access their friends might have
      • Open the birds and the bees conversation early, and make it an ongoing conversation, keeping the lines of communication open at all times.
      • Don’t let someone else, or SOMETHING ELSE (video from a porn provider) shape their sexual identity. YOU SHAPE IT.
  • CREATE A FAMILY TECH CONTRACT (for an example, click here)
  • MODEL WHAT A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP LOOKS LIKE.
  • GET AND READ “GOOD PICTURES, BAD PICTURES” with your family TODAY! (or for younger ones, check out GOOD PICTURES, BAD PICTURES JR.)
  • THROW YOUR PEBBLE.

HELPFUL LINKS

HELPFUL WEBSITES

www.theparentcue.org

www.protectyoungminds.org

www.netsmartz.org

www.commonsensemedia.org

www.meetcircle.com

www.educateempowerkids.org

www.over18doc.com/about/

www.techaddiction.ca

INTERNET FILTERS REVIEW

https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2346997,00.asp

https://www.fatherly.com/gear/net-nanny-hardware-devices/

BEST PARENTAL CONTROL APPS

https://www.pcmag.com/roundup/342731/the-best-parental-control-apps-for-your-phone

HELPFUL ARTICLES

http://www.modernministryblog.com/five-conversations-you-must-have-with-your-kids-about-social-media/

https://www.babble.com/parenting/raise-your-kids-like-its-1982/

http://www.mymommystyle.com/2017/07/29/21978/

The Single Phrase That Thrust Me Into Adulthood

i-cant-adult-today-t-shirtI remember it like it was yesterday. Unfortunately, it was nearly 20 years ago. Ugh, that hurts to even write. It was the day I uttered an unthinkable, unimaginable, but undeniable truth. And it was the phrase that made me realize my “adulting” had officially begun.

I was 20 years old. My best friend and I were sitting on the steps of his college apartment, reflecting on our fleeting college years and life itself. In the midst of our pontificating, we got on the subject of adult responsibilities.

Here we were, just a few years removed from High School Continue Reading →

6 Reasons Buddy The Elf Loves Darren’s Book

1) The most fun and memorable part of the book involves a Christmas tree. Even Buddy the Elf couldn’t get enough.

20151222_111322_resized

2) It fits perfectly in your stocking (the one you hang on the mantle, not the ones in your drawer. Although, they might work, too).

20151222_112809_resized

3) If you’re thinking about giving a doorstop, why not give my book instead? And at under $5 (at least on Amazon for the moment) it’s cheaper!

20151222_111204_resized

4) It works great as kindling for your Christmas fireplace. And at over 200 pages, it could help you start fires all winter long.

20151222_111642_resized

5) It’s on a SUPER SALE at Amazon! Amazon is going CRAZY with this RIDICULOUS DEAL just in time for Christmas! Check it out here.

6)  It’s quick, easy-to-read chapters are perfect for bathroom reading even when you’re in the middle of very important Christmas mischief.

20151222_112915_resized

And if you want a signed copy, just ask. I’ll gladly devalue it for you.

Merry Christmas!

Why I’m Looking Past the Blood Moons (and you should too)

BT_blood_moon_final

CAUTION–Darren will rant in 3…2…1…

Fellow Christians, am I the only one a little tired of hearing about Shemitah, Blood Moons, Red Heifers, Pale Horses, Black Horses,Yellow Brick Roads, Little Green Men, Yellow Submarines, etc. (and of those making gobs of money on these things)? It doesn’t make you a prophet to say judgment is coming, and you don’t need signs in the heavens, Jewish dates, or troubling headlines to proclaim it. Yes, judgment is coming. Judgment has ALWAYS been coming. This is NOT brand new information!

If you’re a Christian, don’t get overly caught up in the headlines, or the stars, or the moons. Don’t rush out to buy the books that focus on these things. All we need is found in the book we already have–THE Word. Are all these things in that Word? Kind of, although Apocalyptic Literature is deliberately open to interpretation, which is why prophecy preachers can use the same scriptures over and over again for brand new headlines. But where they appear, they are just SIGNS. Continue Reading →

A Thorn Full of Grace

thornToday I’m reflecting on Paul’s thorn in the flesh that God refused to remove (1 Cor. 12). No one really knows what the thorn was, but it was painful and annoying to Paul.

Three times Paul asked the Lord to remove it, but God said no each time. Instead, God provided grace to deal with the thorn, stating “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (1 Cor. 12:9, NIV).

As I think about this, it strikes me that sometimes grace isn’t found in the exit, but rather, simply in the journey itself.

Grace isn’t always found in the escape; it’s sometimes found in the prison. It’s not always found in the provision; it’s found in the lack. It’s not always found in the healing; it’s found in the pain.

God didn’t promise He’d walk us OUT of the valley of the shadow of death, but rather, that He’d walk us THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death.

“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me” (Ps. 23:4, KJV).

His presence doesn’t always mean the end of the difficulty. Rather, it promises that the fear caused by the difficulty will be completely erased. Scary circumstances don’t necessarily end when God shows up, but when God shows up, scary circumstances cease to be scary.

Whatever you may be struggling with today, know that God’s grace is sufficient for you. Paul found grace in the thorn. Maybe God’s got a thorn full of grace for you, too.

I know I have a thorn or two. Of course, just because God uses them in my life doesn’t mean I’m going to stop praying for Him to remove them.

But then, He knows better than I do. So maybe—just maybe—I can trust Him even when I don’t have a clue what He’s doing.

Maybe—just maybe—you can too.

WE BOUGHT A BOAT! (and then almost died)

Jake Boat 2We recently bought a boat. It was a great day as we hooked it up to my truck for the first time and hauled it home. I grew up around boats. Dad was always buying one, fixing it up, then selling it. So now as an adult (whatever that means) I had images of grand boat outings with smiling kids, tan lines, and windswept hair. This image was fulfilled on our first few outings, but then came D-Day.

I readied the boat and was all set to take my wife, our 3 kids, two of my brothers, and my niece out for the first time–8 people in all. We drove down to the local marina and put the boat in the water. Up till this point, everything was running smoothly. I then started the motor and headed toward the dock to pick up the family.

They boarded without a hitch, and off we went toward our grand boating adventure. About 30 seconds into our journey, I suddenly realized I had forgotten to put the plug in the boat.

For you boating novices, most boats have a hole in the back to drain water out after you pull it from the lake. Obviously, you’re supposed to return the plug to the hole before putting the boat back into the water. I did not. And of course, it’s all my wife’s fault. Continue Reading →

18 Awesome 2nd Grade Inventions

NsacarI was asked to be a career coach this year at my kids’ school. This was a daunting request for me.

I speak to adults and teenagers all the time. I’ve stood on stage before thousands and calmly presented. I’ve sat in front of television cameras and performed interviews while feeling calm, cool, and collected.

But addressing a class of second graders is the scariest thing I’ve ever done. So many tiny eyes!

I thought my biggest fear was muppets (those big hairy ones that seem to be cut directly from Beelzebub’s body hair with eyes that follow you everywhere you go) but I think I’ve found a new phobia – 2nd grade teaching. God bless all you who take on this task daily! Continue Reading →

Life, TV, Book, and Platypus Updates

Wowser it’s been a long time since I wrote on this blog! My deepest apologies to all 14 of my loyal fans.

It’s been a crazy few months. We recently held our bi-annual international convention for my church’s worldwide constituency (a lot of big words there) and that pretty much consumed my entire life for several months. This year I had the unique opportunity to host our webcast.

1972434_836780399675163_8962459477483057131_nI was a bit freaked out, to be honest, not because I had to wear those earbuds on steroids, but because my default personality mode is always sarcasm. I feared that being in front of our church folk around the world (we had an audience of about 15,000+) would only magnify the potential foot-in-darren’s-mouth scenarios. But, lo and behold, God managed to keep both feet out of my mouth. Although I did so much walking throughout the week that if I could have licked my feet, I probably would have. (My apologies for painting that mental image.) If you’re interested, you can view some of the segments here (of the webcast, not of my feet licking).

But we had a lot of fun throughout the week, and met some very interesting people from around the world. And one very familiar face who made fast friends with my platypus.

Picture1 Picture3 Picture4Mr. Bush (impersonator) LOVED my pet platypus!

Mr. Bush (impersonator) LOVED my pet platypus!

Since that week, many new opportunities have been popping up. I’ve recently become the discipleship pastor at my church, and the chapel pastor at our International Offices—two very big responsibilities that I’m excited about and scared to death of all at the same time. It’s a twisted mix of emotions, like when I watch Property Brothers while staring at that hole in my drywall.

You might be interested to hear that I received an update about my book, Dear God We Need To Talk, from my publisher this week. I was pleasantly surprised at the sales. It’s not on the NY Times Bestseller List or anything, but it’s plugging along. I’ve been hoping and praying that it would simply sell well enough to enable me to keep writing. So far, so good, I think, but be sure you keep buying so I can write another wickedly riveting, uniquely sarcastic, gushingly platypied book.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s on sale at Amazon for only around $8.00 or so. A prime time to snag one! You can read more about it by simply clicking around this blog a bit. But be careful, you never know what you might stumble on. And if you’ve read the book already, I might implore-ask-request-beg that you consider writing an honest(ly awesome and gushing) review on Amazon.

And as always, beware of the platypus.Those uber cute eyes have a way of pulling you into its spell. Just ask W.

41ginSVS1vL._SL500_AA300_

WHY I WANT MY KIDS TO CALL ME “THE INTERNET NAZI”

Internet NaziA couple things scare me. I’ve mentioned before that these include 1) the big hairy muppets with crazy eyes that appear to be cut directly from Satan’s body hair and, 2) the Teletubbies. But today I’d like to add a third and even more horrifying thing to this list: THE INTERNET. And learning how to keep your kids safe on the Internet could be the most important thing you ever do.

I miss the days before this grizzly beast ever existed. I remember when people actually called one another, or even (gasp) interacted face-to-face. I remember when pen pals were a thing and when cartoons were reserved for afternoons and Saturday mornings. I also remember when the phrase” XXX” was seen only on the nasty, windowless bookstore in the really bad part of town.

Now all these things exist at our fingertips, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And what scares me the most (I shudder even as I write) is that I see countless kids wandering around with fully connected smartphones and tablets.

Did you know…

  • Most kids are first exposed to porn at less than 11 years of age?
  • An unsolicited image is often the beginning of a long battle with porn addiction?
  • 1 in 5 children age 10-17 have been approached for sex online?
  • 57% of kids have accidentally accessed inappropriate material online?
  • 75% of these young people do not tell their parents about these incidents?
  • The porn industry is now the 7th largest industry in the U.S.?
    (www.netnanny.com)

A quick question for parents: “Would you ever let your child sleep by him/herself in one of those seedy x-rated bookstores for a night?” That’s exactly what we do when we hand them their fully-connected cell phones and computers and let them roam without supervision. We send them into the x-rated, online store and pray they won’t look (if we pray at all).

I know it’s not easy to clamp down on the Internet because it’s literally EVERYWHERE, but I’m begging you to make an effort. Don’t just blindly hand them the computer or phone and turn the other way. Take the time. Make the effort. Protect your kids. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that I matured just before the Internet came of age. As a wildly hormone-driven 15 year old, I shudder to think of what I might have seen, or searched out, at that age on the Internet, and how it could have gripped me forever.

The ungodly, image-altering, esteem-robbing, addiction-creating things that are available at their fingertips need to be monitored ever so closely. Take every effort to make this happen. There’s no possible way I can shield my children from everything out there, but I sure can try. And in the meantime, I’ll try to form them in such a way that they’ll be prepared to respond appropriately when the opportunity does finally present itself, as you can be sure it will.

My son is 9, and my girls are 7. We haven’t had much of a battle yet, but it’s coming. When it hits, I WANT to be known as the Internet Nazi. And the sooner my kids realize it, the better off we’ll all be.

Here’s a few helpful resources written by others about becoming an effective Internet Nazi:

Controlling Children’s Internet Access
9 Free Programs To Keep Your Kids Safe
8 Ways To Kid Proof Your Internet Parental Controls
How To Control Your Child’s Usage of the Internet

 QUESTION: What have you found helpful for putting limits on Internet usage in your home?

 

Theology By Nightlight

One of the things that bugs me most about theologians is, well, how theological they are, particularly when they try to explain things.

I was putting my 5-year-old daughters (yes, plural, I have identical twin girls) to bed recently and, after prayer time, Abby looked up and, out of the blue, asked, “Daddy, how can God know everything?”

WHOA, where did THAT come from?

led_nightlight_sideI tried to flip the neon sign of theology in my head to the on position, and began forming my response: “God’s omnipotence is directly related to his omniscience and omnipresence. The sovereignty of the Godhead over all creation comes from His foreknowledge….” Wait a minute, Darren, that’s not going to work with a five-year-old.

This one needed to be as simple as possible. I couldn’t use the neon light of theology, I needed more of a theological nightlight—simple and subtle. I would not be able to tell her about sovereignty, omniscience, and omnipotence. “Can’t possibly use those terms until at least six-years-old,” I thought to myself.

I fumbled for words.

“Well, baby, uhhh, I guess, he knows everything because… he made everything.”

I was über pleased with my simple but deeply theological response, but Abby was still staring at me blankly. I realized she needed more.

Then… all at once… it happened. The heavens parted and the Spirit descended on me like a dove of intelligence. I heard an angelic choir of a thousand children’s voices singing in perfect 12-part harmony as I relayed this theological nightlight.

“You know how when you draw me a picture, you can tell me every last detail of that picture?”

“uh huh”

“You can do that because you created that picture, and that means you know everything about it, down to the smallest detail. Right?”

“uh huh”

“That’s how God knows everything. He drew it all.”

As I finished speaking, the angelic choir of children’s voices faded into the distance, and then, as they faded, I’m sure I heard a still small voice say, “This is Darren, in whom I am well pleased.”

We seem to think theology is complicated and incomprehensible, but the truth is, we are all theologians, and we theologize (yup, just made that word up) every single day, even when we don’t know it. And when the opportunity presents itself, don’t avoid it; tackle it head on. God will help you.

Otherwise, you may hear that angelic choir singing in falsetto: “It’s too late to theologize, it’s too laaaaaaate.”

And as the picture below illustrates, we can be thankful that God drew it all, and I did not.

World Drawing 6

Thankfully God drew it all, and I did not.

Feel free to now share your best world drawing.