38 Years–Keep Your Heart Young

State of the Brian Address

Another year. Another Birthday. A lot has changed. A lot has remained. Been a roller coaster!

My back-to-school-life-change has gone well.  Though my wife considers it a mid-life crisis. You really can’t be too young for mid-life crisis, because who really knows how long you will live. I don’t know if I am concerned about inching closer to a milestone like 40; but I am very aware that by the end of this calender year I will have lived longer than my biological mother. Not creepy. Not interesting. Just there…lingering.

I love school. I feel just as at peace and content with the decision to pursue this degree/career path as I did a year ago. I have enjoyed the teachers, books, concepts, people, etc.

Working and “working a real job” have been challenging. Very challenging. It’s not so much the work, I stayed busy as a minister with many emotionally draining weeks. But having zero flexibility and not seeing my family often enough has been hard. Waking at 4:30 most days and no longer using my snooze button has been………

I just started a new, less crazy job closer to the house and Marisa got a job for the Summer at Kohl’s so we are grateful.

Somewhere in the past year, I lost my filter. I have reverted a little to “Brian, circa 1995-1996” (my Freed friends might remember that well). My personality has shifted a little. I chat up waitresses and clerks, joke with strangers, and make a general fool of myself for laughs at work and school. I have more confidence and feel mostly comfortable in my own skin. Trying to be myself without being too much of an idiot. But on some days those two overlap.

After taking a break of a few months away from “head meds,” I felt the need to start up again. I “fell on black days” back in the Winter but am doing better now. I am glad I started again. Life has been stressful balancing work, family, school, church.

Life is good, though. School rocks. Work is work. We have a wonderful church family (Hermitage Church of Christ) that has blessed us in many ways. I am giving a devo tonight outdoors after some lemonade and cookies. Family is adjusting well to life in TN. School and scouts going well for the kids.

Trying to stay young at heart. I really think I want to work with kids and young people. Humans from elementary schoolers to college students will hopefully be the focus of my career as a therapist/counselor.

A great blessing in the past year has been my young friends at school (the older ones, too). They sometimes make me feel old. But mostly make me feel young. My cohort/classmates are an amazing and talented group. I am grateful for them. S/O to Lipscomb peeps!

For my birthday, I just want you to listen to this Brandi Carlile song. It’s cool.

“Don’t go growing old before your time has come…..”

 

 

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The Digital Invasion

I heard a great lecture by the authors of a book entitled, The Digital Invasion last week. They also have a website www.thedigitalinvasion.com

The authors are a father/daughter team.  Dr. Archibald Hart is a clinical psychologist and has been at Fuller Seminary in CA for 40 years and written alot of good books.  Sylvia Hart Frejd is connected to Liberty and has a D.Min. after a Masters in counseling, and focuses on spiritual formation.

If you work with young people or just want to be aware of the possible problems of internet addiction, or just have kids, I think this book will be a great resource based on the lecture I heard.  I don’t have the book yet but it is high on my list.

Here are some things to pique your interest:

  • The problem with the internet is obviously the addictive nature, the main consequences result from sleep deprivation
  • Internet addiction changes the brain:  you lose grey matter and gain white matter, and that’s bad for you.
  • we are creating new psycho-pathologies (new mental diseases, the brain is actually changed by behavior)
  • Silicon Valley CEOs send their kids to Waldorf Schools, one aspect is lack of technology (Google it)
  • Schools in South Korea don’t allow kids to use computers for the first two years of education
  • The digital world rewires the brain for speed, and multitasking is less efficient/productive.
  • They quote neurological studies about the impact, “rewiring” is an accurate description of what happens
  • Some children born today will learn more from a machine than a mother/father
  • Whybrow calles the internet, “electric cocaine”
  • Internet is lowering EQ, IQ and capability for empathy
  • Internet is comparable to food addiction, because it’s something we can’t fully avoid, but must set boundaries
  • Frejd uses the term “Godspace”, and says we must protect it
  • Internet overuse/addiction does the opposite to our brains as what silence/solitude does.  Contemplative disciplines can help the pre-frontal cortex part of brain heal itself. She cited Curt Thompson.
  • “We have lots of connections but we need conversations.  With God, with self, with others.”
  • The presenters were mildly alarmist, but did recognize the good of internet.  Their big concern is for the next couple of generations.
  • Frejd has a Family Digital Use Contract to limit use, such as no smartphones/tablets at dinner table, boundaries for parents and children

Other resources

  • Nicholas Carr at Harvard, wrote “the Shallows”
  • Mark Baurlein at Emory
  • Dr. Kimberly Young in PA, has opened inpatient internet addiction centers
  • Dr. Sherry Terkle at MIT, “we are all cyborgs” she works in robotics and wrote, “Alone-Together”
  • The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction
  • Her son has dealt with gaming addiction, and she mentioned “The Demise of Guys” by Zimbardo

Of course, this is a remake of an 80s film, but it’s very relevant to our lives now:

Leaving and Purpose

Luke 4:42-43 hit hard recently.

And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea. (ESV)

You love people and want to serve them, but you feel a purpose that requires leaving them.

It’s hard to leave friends. It’s difficult to leave “need.”

Thinking of all my New Jersey friends at the church picnic today.

Love you and miss you.

Christian Seeking Church

Well, “church-shopping” is not one of the things I am excited about with this transition but view it as maybe the most important thing we will do.

For better or worse, there are options.  What’s important?  What’s not?  What can we do without?  What is a deal-breaker?

Some deal-breakers for me would be:

  • too much patriotism and politics in the assembly
  • believing in the “word only” heresy concerning the Holy Spirit
  • divisive/attacking mentality towards other churches and sinner groups

Things I am looking for:

  • small groups.  so many congregations in Nashville are large, hope to find a smaller group for support/encouragement
  • Shepherds who are mature, prayerful, wise and involved in helping the congregation know Jesus better
  • men’s group.  besides brothers I already know, I hope to have godly men to pray with, not just to watch a game or play ball
  • total honesty:  a church big enough that doesn’t need my wife or I to teach or lead.  will get around to it, but need a break to be fed

Many things are obvious such as friendliness, Christ-focus, evangelistic and accepting of the outcasts, etc.  I also hope it doesn’t take too long to find a place where we all feel comfortable.

What do you look for, or what would you look for if selecting a church home??