Tag Archives: Youth

Digital Selection

Sometimes I feel young at heart even though I’m getting older. When it comes to modern technology I usually feel ancient. Although working with modern computer systems and knowing more about the systems than most people I meet I’m still like a dinosaur when it comes to using these devices in the modern social media inundated digital age. I’m into Facebook (to keep tabs on my children and grandchildren), email (a dinosaur), texting (formerly SMS), cloud storage, and a host of modern technological marvels which attempt to improve my life. I think I’ve got it figured out until I start interacting with the next generation’s immersive lifestyle of technology.

My wife coined a great phrase, “Digital Selection.” It started when some young upstart commented that finding such and such on the ministry’s home page was simple and intuitive. It was then we decided their definition of simple and intuitive was different than ours. I figured with my extensive background in computers, web page design, and the like, I could find what we were looking for. No success. I’ve become a victim of Digital Selection.

What is Digital Selection you might ask? It isn’t using a search engine to find the cheapest price for a new tablet or notebook or to decide the proper resolution for your new high definition television. It’s when the ability to easily wade through modern technology to the desired destination is hampered by an aging understanding of how things work in the digital world. We’ve been Digitally Selected to be out of touch with the younger generation. Beth says, “They’re going to put us on an iceberg and float us out to sea.”

Originally electronics and computers were purely logical. That I can understand. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of social media infecting the mental growth and processes of the next generation what used to follow rules has been reprogrammed to follow the circuitous pathway of the younger mind in a media saturated generation. Pure computer logic has given way to what can appear as random chaos similar to a planned life-giving way to going with the flow. In my mind, the algorithm of the program isn’t easily discovered, almost like the perfect security cypher.

For those raised in such an environment it makes perfect sense. All the pieces fit together smoothly in their concept of the digital age. Unfortunately, it leaves the older generation confused trying to put the square pegs into the round holes. Sometimes we just don’t see the connection. We are therefore Digital Selected to be relegated to the outer circle of fellowship and communication. While I poke fun at this the centuries have demonstrated the division of one generation from another almost proportionally related to the advancement in technology.

When I was young the use of electric guitars, electronic pianos and electronic organs started insinuating themselves into the fabric of modern rock and roll music as well as creeping into bastion of the classic orchestra and even, gasp, into church music. This confused parents who were familiar with the smooth tones of classical wind and string instruments, pianos and pipe organs. It was a new sound and while some parents embraced the changes many of their generation relegated it to the deepest depths of degradation and evil. There’s was an error of Electronic Selection threatening to drive a wedge between two generations.

Other things have separated the ages. Changes in cultural beliefs and activities, the redirection of skills from rural to urban work spaces, and any technological advancement from the steam engine to the multicore processor have created segments of selection. Often the selective nature of these advances isn’t perceived as a change by the generation in which they develop but as the norm. The concept that the older generation might not comprehend this shift doesn’t seem to motivate the new generation to understand the change and work towards an effective stitching together of the two worlds. So, it falls on the ousted to decipher the recent technology and introduce it to their lives in a way which will once again connect them with the new generation.

Things move forward. I’m sure there is more ahead of me to learn than I dealt with in the past. I just hope I have the where-with-all to comprehend and make use of the advances which become so ingrained in our lives. I don’t want to be Digitally Selected forever. In the church, we must be careful not to Digitally Select (exclude) those interested in helping because we have some new high-tech sign up site which appeals to the young and confounds the less young.

As a Christian, I’m glad God doesn’t use a Digital Selection scale for eternity. I’m looking forward to simplifying things and reducing my digital footprint. I figure if I’m in the presence of God I don’t think there’s a need for a Facebook status for Him to know what I’m doing. But for now, . . . I guess this is the season of the tablet, phablet, smartphone, social media and whatchamacallit and I better keep up with my skills to avoid Digital Selection.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 WEB)


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Antenna War Zone

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7 NIV)

In High School I studied and earned my 1st Phone Engineering license. It was a grueling day of tests in the Chicago FCC offices but I passed all three sections in by noon and was thrilled to call my father (a radio engineer) and tell him the good news. Shortly after I returned home I acquired a job as an evening/weekend/night transmitter engineer at a local radio station. Money in the bank for all that High School senior year fun! Woo Hoo!

Things went along well and I enjoyed my shifts which were limited due to child labor laws. I adjusted transmitters, tuned antenna systems, made all the necessary legal entries in the station logs and read a lot of books in the quiet of the late shifts.

One aspect of the work was the evening antenna current ratio check. This involved going to the doghouse (the small building at the bottom of an antenna containing the tuning unit and current meter) of all four towers and manually reading the in-line antenna current. From these readings ratios could be determined which would indicate whether the directional pattern was in compliance with the station’s license.

The station’s main building was in a valley and the five towers were on the hill behind the station. You could see the towers from the station but the doghouses were hidden behind the ridge of the hill. So I decided it was a nice evening for a walk and headed around the hill, up the dirt road and over to tower number one. One is always a good place to start.

As I was turning the corner toward tower one I notice a vehicle out near tower five and some young folks standing around the open doors. This was private properly, posted and so their presence was unexpected.

slide38I casually walked to the tower one doghouse, unlocked the door and stepped inside. I pulled the meter switch and noted the reading on my log then returned the switch to its neutral position. It was then I heard the ping and the light bulb outside the door went dark.

I glanced outside the door and the light bulb was in pieces on the ground. Then I heard another ping as something hit the side of the building. I quickly turned off the internal light, not wanting to be a target outlined in the doorway, and scrunched down behind the door. These clowns were actually shooting at the building. Worse yet, they were shooting at me!

Fortunately, there was a local phone in the doghouse which connected to the main building for when we were adjusting the antenna array. I picked up the phone turned the hand crank which rang the studio building. No answer. I tried several times as I heard more projectiles pelting the heavy metal exterior of the doghouse. Apparently the disk jockey was either talking on the air, indisposed or just too oblivious to notice the phone ringing.

Not someone who likes being the target in target practice I weighed my options quickly. I could stay and hope they ran out of ammunition and went away. I could keep ringing the studio hoping the disk jockey would rise from his music induced stupor. I could make a run for it and hope for the best. I was young, energetic, felt I was on top of the world (or at least the hill) and decided foolishly to make a run for it.

I peeked around the door toward the car and the villainous youth and edged out of the building. Being the conscientious fellow I was I even closed the door slower and put the padlock back. I then made a mad dash for the hillside heading for the studio building down below. I didn’t realize how steep the hill was or how tall until I flew over the edge into what seemed like certain ignominious death in the high grass with all the snakes slithering here and there.

I ran, fell, rolled, jumped and scampered down the hill across the parking lot to the back door. Digging for my keys I realized I wasn’t hearing any more shots being fired as I unlocked the door and flew inside on the floor. As I was lying on the cool tile floor, catching my breath, the disk jockey came sauntering around the corner looking at me like I was crazy. I ignored him, jumped up, ran to the desk and called the cops.

About thirty minutes later there was a knock at the back door. It was the police. They came to thank me for calling. Apparently the vehicle had been stolen earlier in the evening and they were able to retrieve the vehicle and arrest the young, armed joy riders. I suppose you could say I did my civic duty for the day but my heart wasn’t in it. As a matter of fact, my heart was till racing hours later when my shift was over and I drove home.

I always thought God provided special angels for children, missionaries and fools. I’ve been all three and that evening I think I was in the latter category. As I was flying down the side of that hill I think I could hear songs of deliverance. It’s nice to know God has my back.

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Ministry Thoughts or How to Inspire a New Generation

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20a NIV)

When I consider all the events of the last few decades, how do I sift through everything to determine what’s encouraging and exciting to share with others and what’s boring? Another question is; how much detail do I include about technical matters I take for granted? Some folks like all the technical details while others soon have a glazed look in their eyes. It’s a fine line to balance when writing anything about ministry years.

As I think of it there’s also the question of security. Security is an issue when dealing with an evangelical ministry which brings the Christian Gospel message into countries who are religiously, culturally, politically and historically opposed to the message. Like a spy would say, “I’d tell your everything about my work but then I’d have to shoot you.” It’s not quite that bad in ministry but some things are best left unsaid outside of the work place for the safety of others in dangerous locations.

The impact of electricity, the booming electronic industry and the growth of media platforms in today’s ministry are enormous. Today’s young missionaries take it all in stride. They are part of the “connected” generation. They don’t remember life before the Internet, cell phones and social media. Seasoned missionaries, aka us older folks, are a bit reticent to apply the latest and greatest technology to our ministry. We see the good and the bad from personal experiences. Unfortunately, we often downplay a potential expansion of our ministry in fear of or due to a lack of understanding the new media platform.  The younger missionary candidate doesn’t see this problem and can easily race forward without carefully considering the fallout caused by a brash approach to distributing the message of salvation. There are bridges to be built and barriers to overcome from both sides of the age barrier.

I’d like to encourage the younger generation to commit their lives to the ministry of reconciliation. I’m not talking about just putting a toe in to test the waters. I want them to take the great leap of faith and jump in full body to see what God can do through their full commitment. The problem I’ve witnessed with toe testing is that they never get used to the water, they never adjust. It’s only when they’re willing for God to use them both in their comfort zone, (work they’re familiar with or trained to do), and out of their comfort zone, (work they’ve never done or where they have no training), do they experience the full reliance on His guidance, grace and care.  How do I share this with a culture effectively speaking another language?

Preaching at Grace Church

Preaching at Grace Church

I’m reminded of the mechanism I use to prepare sermons in a multi-language, multi-cultural environment. I write the sermon using the vocabulary I know best. I try to be concise and succinct with a careful selection of words and phrases. Then I give the written message to my wife. She sifts through the message and strikes out culturally specific phrases, complicated word combinations, or “big” English words from the text. I have to go back and find more common phrases and better words to insure the translator and the listener will understand my point. It takes a lot or work and the results make it worthwhile. So how do I apply the same approach to sharing the ministry with young folks?

I want the next generation to understand the amazement I feel when I see God supply, in unexpected ways, everything I need. He even supplies some of the things I just want! My desire is for another generation to see and long for that feeling of total dependence on God to provide. I want them to learn to not rely on their skills or training to be faithful. How do I convince them to hand everything to God and allow Him to manage their lives? How do I convince them that their training, schooling, and experiences are good tools but nothing is better than allowing God to choose what to use and what not to use? How do I share the experience of being dropped into unknown territory and relying completely on God to provide the skills, knowledge and application we need to accomplish His goals?

How do I do all this without losing contact, without driving them away, without creating confusion instead of clarity? Something to think about . . .

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. . . then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; (Isaiah 35:6 ESV)

Growing up in Ohio I spent many days playing in the local streams. Our home was in the middle of a greenbelt community. No matter which way you turned you had to exit the community through some portion of the local forest. Throughout the forest surrounding our town ran a small stream which emptied into the local lake.

Occasionally my friends and I would spend time floating on the lake in a row boat and pretend to fish. But, since I didn’t like to clean or eat fish we would toss back into the lake whatever we caught. The adventure was the fishing, not the catching.

Fishing required sitting on the shore or renting a row boat and money was in short supply. The next best thing to the lake for fun was the local stream. Many adventures took place around the stream. With my friends we explored every inch and every crook and every cranny of the stream.

Country streams are miracles to behold. As a young man I could spend days exploring the banks, rocks, and wildlife found in and around a stream. Skipping from rock to rock was a great pastime for a young man. My friends and I would take bets on how far we could go along a stream before slipping on a rock and getting wet. I still enjoy walking along and wading through small streams.

StreamsWhen Beth and I had children I looked forward to introducing our children to the wonder of a forest stream. On Guam these are few and far between. In fact, the only streams were deep in the jungle and hard to get at without a machete and plenty of bug spray. With the ocean all about the island we didn’t spend time learning about streams on the island. So the wonders of a cool stream had to wait a few years.

When we visited friends in Georgia there was a chance for Ellice and Joel to experience a cool freshwater stream. While we waited for a break in the events at the Camp Meeting there was an opportunity to walk about the complex, through the woods and visit a small stream nearby. Here was my chance to teach Ellice and Joel the fun of a cold mountain stream.

It didn’t take much coaxing to get them in the water. They stood beside the stream, watched the fast flowing waters and wondered what it would be like. One or two toes were dipped in to see how cold it was. It was cold. They had a choice, jump in or walk away. They decided to jump in.

Within minutes they were both splashing through the cold water still in their clothes. We didn’t bring swimsuits; it wasn’t on our list of meeting requirements. Soon they were sliding down rocks with the mild current. I’m not sure if they remember that day but I do.

I think God introduces us to refreshing streams at the right time. Like the Psalmist says, “He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.” Sometimes we have to dip our toes in first to see if we have the stamina to jump in. Once we make that commitment we discover the refreshing wonder of God’s streams.

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