It is a simple and obvious philosophy… Haitians are going to find the answers to Haiti’s issues. Investing in teachers and students, specifically in their ability to tackle tough problems and work as a team, is a great partnership opportunity for us.
Read about my friend Kris Neese’s work in Haiti with the American Friendship Foundation.
Technology steers what 2 billion people are thinking and believing every day. It’s possibly the largest source of influence over 2 billion people’s thoughts that has ever been created.
The attention economy. That is the currency of today’s internet. Time (attention) is money. Apple, Google, and Facebook don’t care about you, they want to sell you to other companies. So they manipulate your attention. Autoplay, notifications, streaks hijack your mind into spending your time the way Apple, Google, and Facebook want you to spend your time. And you don’t even realize it. Romans 12:2 says it best: “2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Our minds are being transformed…..by tech.
Discerning God’s will and guidance comes to us in the Bible and we need to be content with that. The specific details of his individual plan are things that can only be known in retrospect.
Calling is one of those tricky concepts in Christian life. Ken wrote about it last week. He wrote, “I say I want to know God’s plan. I say I want to know my purpose; or rather His purpose for me – my calling. But maybe I should be asking myself why I want to know these things?”
Let me ask you a question: When did you know, really know, you were a man? For me, it was after completing Army Infantry Basic Training at Fort Benning Georgia. Three months of Georgia summer heat, swearing Drill Seargents, and hard physical work from 4:30 AM to bedtime. That will make a man out of you. So, in a culture where there aren’t rites of passage how do we initiate our boys into manhood? What does that look like and is it even necessary? This month we’ll take a look at rites of passage.
“Manhood has to be shaped by Jesus,” Wright says. “He had the classic traits of manhood, fighting with the Pharisees, clearing out the moneychangers, and also a passion for justice, equality, and compassion that leads to action. You also see him weeping at the tomb of his friend; you see a man of deep emotion. We need to reconnect men to Jesus. Some people seem to be emphasizing manhood for its own sake, rather than connecting men to Jesus.”
Jesus is exactly the model we need and our boys need.
the important thing is that you do something creative and memorable to initiate your son into manhood. Remember, too, that the power of the ceremony is the actual experience! It is the lingering memory it makes and in the potent vision it marks.
This is a 7 part series from Robert Lewis (Raising a Modern Day Knight) on the rites of passage for his sons. He lays out the 4 rites (puberty, high school, college, and marriage) through their early life. There are some great ideas to incorporate into a rite of passage for your own son.
As I groom my son to become a man one day, I’m tempted to take him fishing. Or hunting. Or show him how to shoot a gun. Or use a hammer. Or change the oil. Or rotate the car tires. All good things for men to know. But without passing the baton of my faith, what have I really given him?
There it is in that last sentence. Does it make a difference how good of a man our boys become if they don’t have faith in Jesus? No, it doesn’t. Any rite of passage must help pass on that baton of faith to our sons.
Boys are opting out. Opting out of a confusing world. They are isolating themselves in a safer simpler place. They are going in to virtual worlds, where the objectives are clear. They have control over the outcome, they have no fear, and never get rejected.
If we do the vital inner work necessary to spiritual and emotional parenting, then relinquishing our children will be easier than we might expect. We will no longer feel compelled to use them as a means of working through the unfinished business of our past or as the focus of our future desires.
For you Dads out there with grown children, the job is not done yet. Focus on the Family has an eight part series on parenting adult children.
Watch as Bruce discusses his cancer diagnosis and how he enlisted the help of other men to be a “father” for his children after he is gone. Just another testimony for having a close group of intimate male friendships.
Hank Parker, host of Hank’s Outdoor Magazine, informs moms and dads on the benefits of taking their children hunting and fishing. Fishing breaks down barriers so children feel comfortable opening up to their parents while doing something they love. There’s nothing like fishing to calm your nerves and build happy family memories.
Some of my best memories with my Dad and with my kids have been in the outdoors. There’s something about being surrounded by God’s creation and the family he put you with that make for incredible times.
I have a confession to make, I am a horrible friend. Some of you know that first hand. I don’t call often, and who writes anymore, and since I hate social media I don’t connect well there either. But, I have a feeling that I’m not the only bad friend out there. If what I see is true in the men around me, a lot of us don’t do friendships well. To be clear, I’m talking about male friendships that go beyond, “Did you see the game?”, “What’d you do to your yard to make it green?”, or “We need some rain.” I’m talking about friendships that are deep enough that the one knows when something is going on with the other without being told. Where help is given without being asked to help. I’ll say it; Where there’s LOVE. Brotherly love. So this month’s newsletter is focused on manly friendship.
It has been said that female friendships can be pictured as two women facing one another, while male friendships can be symbolized as two men standing side by size, looking outwards. So here’s to having a buddy, a brother to take on the world with. Long live man friendship.
Male friendships today do not look like they used to. There are several reasons in the article for the difference; the modern shift in the idea of homosexuality from an act to an identity, workplace competition, and increased mobilityhave driven us apart.
Your commitment to a friend is better demonstrated by staying in regular contact. Face-to-face meetings are best, but scheduled phone calls will work if you’re living far apart.
Facebook isn’t going to cut it. Texting is little better. Twitter, nope, not going to do it either. Face to face time is the best way to connect with anyone, especially if you consider them a friend. Yup, it takes time. But, time well spent. Time will pay infinite dividends in the future for both.
We can model godly friendships for teen males. Young men (and older men, for that matter) can quickly move conversations and actions in ungodly directions. They need to see that it’s possible to enjoy time with other guys without compromising God’s standards.
Where will our sons find examples of how men should be? On TV? Ha. The internet? Good Lord, NO! They need to watch you. When they watch you, Dad, they will also see your friends. You having good friends will help your son navigate life that much better.
You know what I think about Jesus and his focus like the greatest command is loving the Lord your God and so that relationship with him has to be first. Because we have we have to be careful, that while I agree men primarily under emphasize relationship and friendship we can also overemphasize it and expect so much from each other that’s things that only God can give us.
So, every relationship begins with sinners. Broken people. We bring our sinfulness into every relationship. So, we need God in the midst of that relationship. We will need grace, forgiveness, and mercy. The cord of three strands verse isn’t just for marriage, it’s for friendships too.
“As mapped out in my article, disconnecting from friends is incredibly bad for your long-term health. Shockingly bad. Like ‘this reporter sounds like he’s laying it on thick’ bad. I was not. Study after study after study all tell you the same thing.”
Get good friends or die early. As simple as that. Read the article HERE.
Here are my takeaways from researching male friendships:
It is God-honoring to have and nurture intimate relationships with other men. (If you read a sexual connotation into that you have been brainwashed by our society. Intimacy does not equal sex)
It will help you live longer
It will make you a better husband and father
It will have a positive impact on your sons when they get older
Do you need to connect with a friend? Reconnect? Sign up for the Whetstone Backpacking Trip. For a limited time, sign up with a buddy and you each get $25 off your registration. Get signed up HERE. Choose the “Buddy” option.
This month’s topic is youth sports. And really it can be about any youth activity; music, education, art. The structured activities that our kids participate in are an important part of their lives. They lessons they learn and the experiences they have they’ll take with them for life. The negatives are there too. Is it for them or for us? Is it for the coaches? What about the $7 Billion a Year industry that is youth sports? Do the activities of a 10-year-old trump the needs and schedule of an entire family? Have we made ourselves defacto chauffers, agents, and personal assistants to 11-year-olds? What do year round sports or activities do to kids? There’s a reason, given in the video below, 70% of kids quit sports by 13 years of age.
I used to love when you watched my play when I was younger, but now, I wish you weren’t there. I think I am starting to hate playing soccer.
This can be a tough, but necessary one to read. Our kids pick up on how we act and what we say. When we tell them to respect others and then we bad mouth the coach, refs, and other players, that sends them mixed messages.
The number of children playing team sports is falling, with experts blaming a parent-driven focus on elite travel clubs, specialization in one sport and pursuit of scholarships for hurting the country’s youth sports leagues.
What is your goal for your kids when they play sports? Likely the goals are intrinsic, such as hard work, being a team player, and learning. The percentage of kids who get scholarships to play in college is low (about 2%). Single sport specialization hurts them physically and mentally. So, why, if our goals for them are to learn hard work and sportsmanship are we putting so much pressure on them?
If kids can learn to fight their fear and work through it, he says, that steadiness comes in handy later in life — when the stakes are much higher.
I played football, baseball, and wrestled throughout junior high and high school. I learned a lot of lessons during those years. How to push myself, how to work with others, and how to putting winning and losing in perspective were just a few of the lessons learned. All of us have a tendency to seek comfort. Sports will help our kids do things that are uncomfortable but produce lasting benefits.
Can sports be a healthy part of a young man’s development? Sure! But only to an extent. Randy Stinson tells how his sports-loving family opted out of baseball for 18 months in order to stretch themselves in other ways: through mission trips and other gospel outreaches. Randy explains why it’s important to him to give his kids a big vision of the world.
TED talk by a former college soccer player and current coach. Youth sports is about….the children. It’s not about the parents and the coach. There are tons of great stuff for kids to gain by playing sports. Those benefits get ruined when we don’t put the players first. Give this video a watch and find out the 5 words you should say to your kid after a game.
Here are some takeaways I gained from researching this:
Beware of idolatry and making idols out of your kids and the sport
Kids need breaks; year round single sport participation is detrimental to them
Kids need activity and the good stuff sports provide
We parents need to keep sports and our relationship with our kids in perspective
Sports are a huge opportunity for relationship building with our kids
As Michael said in the quote above, “Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.” They’re just playing a game after all.
FOMO. Instacurity. Digital Detox. Phubbing. Crackberry. Digital Zombie. All words that didn’t exist a few years ago but describe our current technology-saturated lifestyles. The internet and mobile technology are ingrained in our lives to such an extent that we get anxiety when we’re away from our phone for a few minutes. Focus. I believe that focus is now more valuable than time. What we focus on is more important than the time we have. WE NOW HAVE A SHORTER ATTENTION SPAN THAN A GOLDFISH……A FREAKING GOLDFISH! This month’s newsletter is focused on our focus on technology.
A quick thank you to Randy B., a faithful Whetstone reader, for prompting this topic when he shared this video on Millennials with me. If you’ve got something that the Whetstone community might be interested in, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In any case, one of the greatest daily challenges a Christian faces in the modern world is to think clearly about his or her use of any technology. Does it help you achieve good ends in your heavenly calling and service to Christ, or is it an avenue of distraction and temptation? Would Jesus look on and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: We need to think out how we use the wonderful technology that’s available to us today. Do you use it to save time? What do you use that extra time for? Mindlessly scrolling your facebook feed or twitter feed? Or being present with your family or friends without the interruption of beeps and dings from your digital leash?
Technology isn’t going away—so we’re going to have to find ways to redeem it.
It’s not going away and it’s only going to become more and more ingrained into our lives. It’s in toasters for Pete’s sake! So, we need to help our kids figure out how to use it in ways that build them up rather than tears them down. Tim advises us to turn negatives into positives.
Try out silence in your life this week. Give aloneness a try. In our crazy busy, crazy connected, need-to-know-now! world, we need the sanity and sanctifying power of boredom every once in a while.
When was the last time you were bored and didn’t pull out your phone to “pass the time”? I don’t remember the last time I didn’t. Give it a try. Where does your mind go when you don’t force feed it from your phone?
I hate facebook. I’ve quit it several times. And, I wouldn’t be on there now if I didn’t feel the need for the Whetstone to have a presence there. So Cal’s message really resonates with me. Give it a thoughtful watch, as we all really need to question what value, if any, social media platforms have in our lives. My guess is that they cost us more than we think or want to admit.
In this podcast episode, Dr. David Greenfield discusses online addiction and teens. Dr. Greenfield is the leading expert in the field of internet addiction. The discussion ranges from dopamine, to porn, to signs of addiction.
If you can’t tell, this topic has really struck a nerve with me. During my research, I ran across a TON of material on how harmful mobile technology and social media can be. I probably listened to 3 hours of Ted Talks on the topic. One of the recurring themes I came across was the analogy of a slot machine. Mobile tech and social media are engineered to be addictive. Designers have literally taken notes from gambling to design addictiveness into apps and phones. Their goal is to keep you on their app or platform as much and as long as possible to make money off of you.
So, do you own your technology or does it own you? The reality may be hard to admit.
Greetings! I began a new job in January. So, recently I’ve been signing up for all of my benefits. And, that includes investments, an ESOP, and 401k. That got me thinking about retirement. It’s not something I’ve put a ton of thinking into. It’s 20+ years down the road. But the last 20 years are any indicator, the next 20 will go quickly. So, I’ve found a few articles and resources on the topic of aging and retirement. Give them a look and think about how the fit your idea of aging and retirement.
I beg of you… please choose a life of significance sooner than later! You don’t have to quit your job, take a vow of poverty or become a full-time pastor. Put your trust in God alone… first. Choose His ways… first.
This is one of our top blog posts. Gerry shares one very important lesson that he’s learned along the way in life.
Retirement has always been used as a way for people in authority to induce behaviors in others for their own purposes.
Is the American dream of working until retirement and then vacationing until death the right way to approach life? That’s the traditional sense of retirement, but it appears to be changing. Many people are seeing themselves working well past “retirement” age and not just out of financial necessity, but because it brings significance to themselves and others.
The study showed that for every extra year of early retirement, you lose about two months of life expectancy. And I should say, this is not the first study to show there’s a fairly strong relationship between early retirement and earlier death.
Retire early, die early. Wow. Why? Cardiovascular issues, more smoking, drinking, worse diet, and exercise. But there appears to be a mental health link too.
Paradoxically nowadays, when we have more elderly people than ever before, living healthier lives and with better medical care than ever before, old age is in some respects more miserable than ever before. The lives of the elderly are widely recognized as constituting a disaster area of modern American society.
This is a fascinating TED talk contrasting how traditional societies treat the elderly and how modern Western societies do.
So the takeaways for me? 1) It’s time to look at what the next stage of life hold for me. 2) Value the experience and relationships of those who have gone before. 3) The prevailing societal sentiment regarding retirement needs to be questioned.
Happy New Year! Welcome to the January edition of the Whetstone Newsletter. You’ve probably read or heard a lot about resolutions, goals, and habits lately. They are the usual topic du jour for a new year. They are usually about adding something into your life. A new diet, a new exercise routine, a new bible reading plan, a new budget. So what about subtracting? What can you or should you subtract from your life? I’m not just talking about bad habits here, but those subtle influences that you’ve allowed in your life. What forms of media should go? What social website do you need to abandon because it’s not healthy for you? What guilty pleasure TV show should you jettison? What are you spending money on that you shouldn’t? There are some great articles below on just that. We’ve got so much as Americans, that even though we can have it all, we don’t need most of it.
Sometimes, we think about sin and sanctification in terms of cigarettes and Fitbits. We think that if we just warn people away from the consequences of sin, then people will steer clear. Sometimes, that works. But often, it doesn’t. Sin, after all, is irrational!
Did you get a Fitbit or similar tracker for Christmas? Did you make a New Year’s resolution to get in shape? Then you’ll want to read Trevin’s article and see where your motivation lies.
So, what’s so wrong with a little harmless entertainment of watching people scramble for “love” like ravenous crabs on a washed up seal corpse? In the short term, nothing. Just good, clean fun. But the long-term effects of their choices — from the types of people selected to be on the show to the promotion of a subversive, childish concept of love — is like smoking or listening to Kenny G: it can have serious consequences.
Yes, it’s that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. If you’ve been wondering why relationships and marriage have cheapened, look no further than what we consider entertainment. Kareem lays out the argument against treating relationships, marriage, and romance like a game with winners and losers.
Digital minimalism is a philosophy that helps you question what digital communication tools (and behaviors surrounding these tools) add the most value to your life. It is motivated by the belief that intentionally and aggressively clearing away low-value digital noise, and optimizing your use of the tools that really matter, can significantly improve your life.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, IM, text, CNN, Fox News, Feedly, etc, etc, ad infinitum. Have you thought about what the technology that you use costs you? In time, in attention, in relationships. Do they add or subtract from your life? What value, if any do they bring? We have a responsibility to steward our technology wisely.
The beginning of a new year gives us all the choice to get something right that has been, well…not right, for perhaps a long, long time. When we think this way, it is really grace for us. We give up the weight of having to try and to try harder. We simply begin and we learn to begin again.
Need some inspiration and perspective on thinking through the new year and your future. Steve has 5 great suggestions to think through.
This is a convicting documentary to watch. We have been extremely, exponentially, materially blessed in America. While I believe that the documentary has some of the problem correctly identified (sin is the real problem), I don’t believe that minimalism is the answer. A deep abiding faith in God is. That given aside, we have the responsibility to live as good stewards of the blessings we’ve been given. Just because we can buy, do, or have doesn’t mean that we should.
Monday, August 6 marks the first anniversary of the Afghan crash of a U.S. military CH-47 Chinook helicopter that killed 30 Americans, including 17 Navy SEALS. It was the worst single loss-of-life day for the U.S. in the war in Afghanistan. It was also the worst in the history of Naval Special Warfare.
Check out more about Adam Brown and Eric’s biography on him at http://fearlessnavyseal.com/. Get the book here.
Your patient lives in a pivotal era — the Information Age. Given the right information, things could go very badly for us. Fortunately, these humans are self-congratulatory about how much they know, while knowing very little of anything important.
Updated letter from Uncle Screwtape. Screwtape is keeping his nephew up to date on how to tempt us in the information age.
When we say that a man has “good character,” we mean that he has many strong qualities and virtues that, added together, make him a man whom we like, respect, and trust. One definition of character, therefore, is this: The sum of the qualities that make a person what he is.
This a really interesting read of an actual 1953 Army Field Manual. I don’t remember anything like this when I was in the Army. However, we had one drill seargeant who took it upon himself toward the end of training to talk about character and the choices we make.
Men are needed today more than ever. We as a species are being confronted with more and more violence every day.
My guest, Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman, a leading expert in the field of psychologoy and physiology of violence shares why homicides are skyrocketing, why the world needs more sheepdogs, what happens to our bodies when we’re in combat, and how to handle yourself when confronted with violence.
A little language and content warning on this one. However, this message is needed today.
October’s Whetstone Posts
In case you missed them, here are last month’s blog posts:
Men, I can feel it inside me – this urge to simply let things happen. To assume a position of powerlessness. To take the easy road of being uninformed and uninvested. But this is not the road that God has charted out for us.
Cherie still catches me staring at the beer in the fridge – sometimes just hoping for some osmosis or supernatural impartation. But each day I do it more loosely…each day I feel myself surrender just a little more into the possibility that God desires to be my food and my drink, to be my comfort and the lifter of my mood.
Convicting read on how much we rely on everything else but God for our comfort, pleasure, and help.
Regular family worship is valuable and brings many blessings to parents and children alike.
Winter is coming! And with it, for us at least, is sometimes snowy, slick, and dangerous roads. Our family has at times skipped church due to the weather!Until we started doing family worship at home. We pray as a family, read the bible, and sing. Yes, sing. Youtube can be a wonderful thing. Look for worship songs with the lyrics in them, crank them up, and make a joyful noise. Here’s our Youtube worship playlist.
It affects our perspective and purpose. It impacts how we interact with our teams, potential clients, and customers. What is this critical leadership asset? It’s our heart. Today I’m sharing four disciplines to keep it in shape.
For those of you who enjoyed last month’s podcast with Steve Smith, you love this one too. We all need to take care of our hearts. Work and life can wage a vicious war on our hearts. If we want to give the best of ourselves to those we love, we need to take care of it.