Monthly Archives: May 2016

Millennials, Full Nests, and Sour Grapes…”Watch Your Example, Mom & Dad, We’re Roomies!”

mom, dad, millennialMother, Father, children, Grandmother, and Grandfather…all used to live in one house. But things changed. Over time, wealth grew, jobs changed, people became more mobile, independent, and isolated. So kids moved out and got their own place. Until now.

According to a recent Pew study, for the first time in 130 years, a higher percentage of those 18-34 (the current millennial generation) are living at home than those who are moving out. In the Depression, a greater number lived at home, but the percentages haven’t exceeded those who move out…until now. And it isn’t just America: 50% of Millennials in Europe and Japan, 40% in Canada, and growing percentages around the world.

In the 60’s, people couldn’t move out and get married fast enough, but this generation is waiting until an average of 29 years old. In fact, Pew’s research suggests that ¼ of Millennials might never choose to marry. So it is goodbye, “empty nest,” and hello, “full house”…for a long time!

But regardless of why kids stay home longer, one thing is for sure – prolonged proximity will impact future generations. And, as parents and 32% of Millennials adjust to life at home together, society will either be benefited or harmed. Looking to the Bible, we can see why.

Sometimes family can be a great influence. Timothy was raised by a godly mother and grandmother who taught him scripture from a very young age (1 Timothy 1:5). Their devotion gave Timothy all the right tools to understand the words of life. And Timothy became a strong servant of God. Many children leave the home and forget the example of godly parents. But if children are in the home longer, perhaps they will receive the benefit of a good example longer.

Sometimes, though, family can have a negative influence. In Ezekiel 16:44, people were negatively saying, “like mother like daughter.” Sometimes the nation required punishment because a corporate representative sinned. And sometimes, families felt the weight of sin to the 3rd and 4th generation because they had adopted the sins of their parents and grandparents. If children stay in these homes longer, the example of the parents’ sins might take hold in their lives as well.

Ultimately we are all responsible for our own behavior. God told His people to stop using the saying, “The fathers eat the sour grapes, but the children’s teeth are set on edge.” He said, “All souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). Those who live righteously will be blessed.

Family can be a powerful influence. But Jesus reminds us that we must put Him above all else, preferring Him to mother, father, children, selfish desires, and even life itself. Houses might get divided. But there is an eternal reward for those who are able to shrug off negative influences and live for God today (Matthew 10:34-42).

Good Intentions, A Bison Calf, and Why Rules Matter

bisonFlyers, road signs, and verbal warnings tell visitors to keep away from wildlife at Yellowstone National Park. But last week, upon seeing a Bison calf alone in the cold, two visitors took action. They trusted their “good intentions” and “rescued” the calf by taking him to the ranger station in the back of their SUV. The result? The herd rejected the calf, it became habituated to humans, and rangers had to euthanize it.

Federal laws, clearly posted at National Parks, prohibit “feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentional disturbing of wildlife nesting, breeding or other activities.” Yellowstone regulations require that visitors remain at least 25 yards from bison. Yet rangers continue to tell of “inappropriate, dangerous and illegal“ behaviors.

So why do people keep ignoring signs? Do they know better? Perhaps they believe the signs don’t apply to them? Do good intentions supersede the rules?

There is probably a more clinical and professional term for the utter hubris of human rationale, but I am just going to go with “I-thinkism.” You see, far too many people have decided that their logic, wisdom, and reasoning are better than the rules that have been established for their safety and well-being. So…the rules say one thing, “but I think…” becomes the motto of many unhappy endings.

In the Bible, we are often reminded of the foolishness of choosing “I-thinkism” over God’s rules. In 1 Samuel 4, the people lost the Ark of the Covenant in battle because they chose their path over God’s. The Philistines then took the Ark home and learned the power of taking something they shouldn’t. God destroyed their idol, Dagon, and gave the Philistines boils and tumors for not keeping their distance and respecting His ways.

Years later, in 2 Samuel 6, David calls for the ark to be brought to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, during the trip, “the oxen nearly upset” the cart (6:6). With good intentions, a man named Uzzah reached up and grabbed the ark to steady it, a clear violation of God’s law. He was struck down instantly for his “irreverence.” Finally, when the Ark arrived in Jerusalem, David had good intentions to build a house for the Ark. But God rebuked him, saying He had never asked for such a thing and David wouldn’t be the man to build the Temple.

Two Biblical principles reside in these examples. 1) When God gives a command, follow it, and 2) When God is silent on a topic, His silence doesn’t authorize us to do whatever we please.

Turns out that this is good advice for National Parks as well. Obey the rules, don’t let “I-thinkism” prevail, and leave the Bison alone.

Are You Spiritually Fit? Metabolism Lessons From “The Biggest Loser”

big loserLike many people, I tend to go through weight gain-loss cycles. Put on 5-10 pounds, hit the gym, and start over. Sound familiar? The problem is, as someone once told me, “You can’t outrun your fork.”

Truth be told, cutting out the late night snacks would probably do the trick! But the more tempting path most people take these days is a “fad diet” or “extreme exercise” program. While these diets might appear to give great results in the short run, a new study suggests they might cause more harm than anyone previously imagined.

Researchers recently followed 14 of the contestants of The Biggest Loser for six years after the show ended. Even with post-show assistance, 13 of 14 regained their weight. But it wasn’t due to poor eating habits or lack of exercise; they actually had damaged their metabolism! Researchers determined that high weight loss from the show caused their metabolisms to slow significantly and never recover.

For example, one contestant went from 263 lbs. to 176 lbs., but her metabolism burns 552 fewer calories than someone her weight should burn in a day. This makes keeping the weight off an enormous struggle. And her metabolism might never recover! (Click Here for the NY Times Article w/metabolism study)

Now, physical exercise is good, but spiritual exercise is far more important (1 Timothy 4:8). Sometimes people realize their spiritual life is out of shape so they have a quick zeal for God. Sadly, they often burn out and end up doing more damage to their spiritual lives when their “fad spiritual exercise and diet” fails!

Here are a few thoughts for a successful spiritual exercise life:

#1 Spiritual junk food is not a healthy diet. There is no substitute for the Word of God. Bread by itself is just carbs, but God’s Word is a sufficient meal (Matthew 4:4).

#2 Steady wins the race. Jesus reminds us that seeds that don’t have good roots will spring up fast and burn up in the hot sun (Matthew 13:5-6). Balance is required to remain in the world, but not be of it (John 17:16).

#3 Quick fixes are typically not lasting ones. Quick fixes are like the easy, broad path that leads to destruction. The more difficult, life-changing and narrow path is a road that few take; but it leads to glory (Matthew 7:13-14).

Begin drawing closer to God today, and He promises to draw closer to you (James 4:8). It may take years of proper training to have the spiritual body you want, but with daily discipline we will get there! Consider Paul’s words:

“Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).