In a recent parent-teacher meeting at the school my children attend, parents shared their concern about how the use of technology and mobile, internet-connected devices are affecting the way our children socialize. We don't want the Internet of things to consume our children's lives. And I thought of how I use technology in my personal and family life.
I am reminded of a story that I heard about Gandhi and sugar. A woman traveled a great distance to visit Gandhi and asked for his advice. She told Gandhi that her son eats too much sugar. He's addicted to it. She can't stop him from eating so much sugar. She asked for his advice on what to say to her son to make him stop eating sugar.
Gandhi thought about it for a while and replied, "Come back in a week." A bit taken aback at the response, the woman turned away disappointed. But she did return the next week. She asked Gandhi again for advice on what to say to her son who keeps eating too much sugar. Gandhi replied, "Come back in a week." Again, the woman turned away disappointed, but did what she was told. This went on for another two more weeks.
After a month of traveling back and forth to visit Gandhi, the women asked again for advice. Gandhi finally replied with advice, "Tell your son to stop eating sugar." The woman was shocked. "That's it?" the woman asked. "That's your advice for me? I've traveled back and forth for weeks to hear your thoughtful advice, and that's it? Stop eating sugar. What took you so long for such as simple piece of advice?" the woman asked Gandhi.
Gandhi said, "Before I can give advice about not eating sugar, I first had to learn how to stop eating sugar myself."
So, I'm learning to be more mindful about how my wife and I use technology in our personal lives, around the home, with our friends, and in front of the kids. Before I can teach my child how technology can affect my child's social life, I first have to learn and live that life lesson.
Let's Be Great Examples
Parents are the living examples from whom children learn how to live. Let's be great examples for our children in speech, in conduct, in love, in believing, and in mindfulness (1 Timothy 4:12).
Long time ago, my wife and I would drive around the country side of Pennsylvania, where we both grew up, in my pickup truck. The best pickup trucks are the ones with the bench seats in front, so that your lover can slide over next to you and snuggle as you drive. Me behind the wheel. My beautiful woman next to me.
Now, we live in Boulder, Colorado, jobs, house, kids, dog, and we abide by the seat belt law. The problem is she's way over there, but I'm still behind the wheel. I remember when. And she does too. But the problem is that I haven't moved.
We still travel together down this road of life. Together. Wife and I. Pavement and trees passing by. There are bumps in the road, speed traps, crazy drivers, distractions, road signs, and accidents here and there.
Men tend to travel this road with purpose. Focused. On task. We're not out drinking every night. We work hard to make money and pay the bills. We try our best at being a good dad. We provide and protect. We're loyal. No cheating; no divorce.
But a man's deepest need when traveling down this road is for our lover to slide over, snuggle up close, and tell us every once in a while that we're doing a good job. "Good job, babe." A few words of appreciation for man means everything --- and lasts forever.
It's not easy. You're working hard too. Work, house, kids, schedule. You're just as busy, distracted, and tired at the end of the day.
But here's the advice.
Your man is just a few feet away. And he wants to feel needed in this journey. Together. Traveling down this road. If you'd only slide over next to us and tell us what you want and need. Do you want a cheerleader? Got it. Lover? Listener? Provider? Will do. Knight in shining armor? Yes. Best friend? For sure, and forever.
And, don't sit so far away from your man. Remember long time ago? Remember how it used to be? Remember when you sat right next to each other? Remember when you first met that young boy, and how he made you feel? He was hot. So hot. Handsome. You two were so in love. Romantic love. Crazy about each other. That kinda love.
That man is still here. Right there next to you. Look at him. All you got to do is slide on over.
That's my advice.
Women, you may be interested in also reading, "Why Men Watch Football."
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If you change the way you love your woman, the woman you love changes. Right?
Right. The mind is everything. Your mind is powerful. What you think, you become. And when you change the way you think about things, those things change.
There’s an entire lifetime of learning of how important your thoughts are. Your thoughts affect your world. When you change your thoughts, the things you think of change. When you change the way you see things, the things you see change. If you change the way you love someone, that someone you loved changes.
We are what we think.
For as you think from you heart, so you are (Proverbs 23:7). The thoughts I have in my heart, deep down inside, that’s who I am. And we keep that heart like a treasure - protected.
I've learned that my heart retains my words, and I keep (protect) those words, because I live from them (Proverbs 4:4). Our hearts retain, or keep, our words. What we say and think is in our heart.
Proverbs 4:20-23 reads, "My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."
Out of the heart are the issues of life.
We guard our hearts. We are alert to the thoughts we allow in our hearts, because out of the heart, the innermost part of our mind, comes the issues of life.
Take a simple truth, such as 2+2=4. That's in our minds. Once we learn it, it stays there - forever. That’s a truth.
But what about lies?
What if someone says something bad about you? Does that stay in your mind, in your heart, forever? It’s like salt in unbaked brownie batter. Ever hear the story about brownie salt? Let's say you have a chocolate brownie in your hand. You're about to eat it. But, by mistake, you dump a bunch of salt on the brownie. What do you do? Is the brownie ruined? No. Just brush the salt off the brownie, and you're good to go. Tastes great.
Now, assume you're mixing the brownie mix, stirring it with a spoon in a bowl. And the salt spills into the mix. What happens after you bake the brownies? Take bite of that brownie, and you'll taste the salt. Yuck! It's completely ruined, and there's nothing you can do. That's because the salt is stuck in there. It's too late.
Now, you're mind, especially the minds of our children, is like a brownie mix.
Don't let salt (untruths, lies, fear, worry, doubt, suffering, etc.) spill into it. Guard your mix. Guard your thoughts, your heart, your mind. For most adults, our minds are already baked. We can just brush it off. But for some, especially our children, it's too late. The salt is in there - forever.
Henry David Thoreau
Henry wrote, "As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives."
So, be careful with what you think about. If you think it over and over, it could change your life forever.
When we change the way we see things, the things we see change.
We have to change the way we think.
I’m not talking about meditation and emptying the mind. I'm not talking about closing your eyes and chanting. I love yoga. I love getting quiet. But that's not what I'm talking about.
I’m talking about change.
A better way of saying it would be to RENEW your mind. Change means to take this and make it that, something completely different from its original. Renew means to make something new, to re-new, or make new again, fresh again, and strong again. Renewing the mind means to restore it to its original, good state.
How do I restore my mind when I'm faced something negative or challenging?
Well, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but rather, God gives power, unconditional love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). We have the power to replace any negative with spiritual positives.
We can have power.
We can have love.
We can have a sound mind.
We can do this. We can renew our minds to this truth and make it deep mental path by walking it again and again, as Henry wrote (see above).
Ephesians 4:22-24 reads, "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." In those verses, we read that we put on the new man, which after God is created [or created in God’s image] in righteousness and true holiness. So, after putting on the new man (by renewing my mind), I’m created in God’s image.
Holy crap! That's powerful. Read that again.
We're created in God's image after we put on "the new man." How? By renewing our minds to God. But what is the image of God? And who is God?
Is God a man? No.
Is God a woman? No.
Is God an old man with a long gray beard and bushy eyebrows, waving his finger, and always mad? No.
Is God Jesus? No.
Is God religion and vice versa? Certainly not.
So, who or what is God, and what's the image of God in which I'm created (or renewed). Well, actually, God is what the bible says God is.
The bible says that God is:
That is the image of God. So, when we put off the old man, when we renew our spirit of our minds, and we put on the new man, we see ourselves as created (created anew) in God's image.
Think of an old shirt.
Take off your old shirt, and put on a new one. Clothe yourself in a new image, an image of God.
The woman above is simply helping her man change his mind.
... and we're back.
2 Corinthians 3:18 reads, “And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit."
What does all that mean?
We hold what we believe in in our hands, like a mirror. Maybe it's the bible, spiritual principles, new age enlightenment, teaching of Buddha. It doesn't matter. Whatever it is... it reflects our open mind, and we see who we truly are. Your believing is like a mirror.
With the God in our mind, we are renewed in the image of God.
So, what do we believe in? What do we have holding in our hands? What is image reflecting in our mirror?
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, tour values become your destiny.”
The Buddha said, “The mind is everything. What you think, you become.”
So, again, what do we believe in? What do we think about? If you can't think of anything, Philippians 4:8 provides some guidance. It reads, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Fix your mind upon these things.
Colossians 3:10 reads, "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him [God] that created him [you]."
When we renew our minds, we put off the old, and put on the new.
We put on the new man and clothe ourselves with the new spiritual self, which is forever in the process of being renewed in knowledge after the image of God that created you. When you renew your mind, you understand more fully about God in whose image you were created.
When you renew your mind, you see yourself a bit differently. Don't you?
And, when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Yes?
Repeat that in your mind. You see yourself as a reflection of the image of God. How can that be? Remember. Remember who God is (see above).
Hebrew 4:12 reads, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." What God speaks is alive and full of power. It's active and energizing. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow, the deepest parts of our nature, exposing and sifting and revealing the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. God’s Word helps me renew my mind, because it is so effective & powerful.
So, to what do you renew your mind? What do I think about?
How does the bible help me in this? Let me share a few verses that I keep in my renewed mind.
In Ephesians 2:10, I am God’s workmanship. In 1 Corinthians 6:19, my body is a temple. 1 Thessalonians 5:5 says I am a child of light. Psalms 139:14 says I am wonderfully made. Philippians 4:19 says all my needs shall be supplied. Ephesians 6:11 says I wear the whole armor of God. Ephesians 3:12 says I am bold and confident. Colossians 1:22 says that I am without blemish. Galatians 5:1 says I am free. Psalms 18:29 says I can run through a troop and leap over a wall. Romans 8:37 says I am more than a conqueror in every situation. Philippians 4:13 says that I can do all things. Joshua 1:9 says God is with me wherever I go. That’s some powerful stuff! That's what I think about. God helps me renew my mind.
In summary, we learned about renewing our minds. When we change the way we see things, the things we see change. And what we believe is like a mirror, reflecting who we really are. So, I encourage you to be careful in what you think about and what you believe in. For the thoughts you keep in your heart, that’s who you really are.
You may want to read "Who is God?" from The King's Guide.
Learn more about becoming a great man, a king.
In our family fellowship, I taught about unconditional love and tips on raising children. This morning my daughter and I got up early and we both saw the amazing sky with bright orange and yellow colors in the clouds. The Sun was just coming up, and it was making a fantastic display for us to enjoy. I said that we can get better look at the Sun and its brilliance by jumping into the car and driving to a spot that I knew. We did just that.
When we got to the place a few moments later, we realized that the Sun stopped shining, the clouds blocked the morning rays, and we were just not in the right time and place anymore. We missed it. Enjoying Sun's brilliance and beauty was conditional upon us being at the right place and time.
God's love is just like the Sun. The Sun is always shining. It doesn't care who you are, how old you are, where you are, or what time it is. It's always shining brightly, beaming, warming and providing life. It's up to us to learn how to turn towards the Sun (towards God) and enjoy it's live-giving powers.
I used a globe to teach the folks in our family fellowship about how the Earth moves around the Sun. The Earth is tilted in relation to its axis by 23 degrees. And it spins around and round about 365 times for every loop around the Sun.
From earlier teachings, we've learned that God is love. And we experientially know and believe in the love that God has for us. God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him (1: John 4:16). Unfortunately, the Buddha knew little about raising children, leaving is own small child and wife in the middle of the night. But he did teach that nothing is lost in the universe in that we were born of our parents, our children are born of us. And, therefore, the love is everlasting. When we teach our children to love God, they get to know the way that God loves us. It's just like the Sun--everlasting and unconditional. The Sun is always shining, no matter if our part of the globe is pointing in the right direction or not. Likewise, God is always shining, dwelling in us.
It is written that we are to love one another, for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God (1 John 4:7-8). We are to serve one another, taking care of each other (Galatians 5:13). In order to do that we have to be in alignment and harmony vertically with God. We have to have that good, strong connection with God, based upon believing. First take care of ourselves vertically, spiritually, with God, then we can take care of others, horizontally, serving and loving one another. It's a bit like using a plumb bob, which helps a builder to get in alignment and harmony with the entire structure. Read more about a plumb bob and being in alignment and harmony with God.
Allow each day to be a new one for your child. Forget yesterday and the past. Forgive mistakes made yesterday. Welcome your child into your heart every single day without restrictions, without reminding them of what happened yesterday. Let it go. Make them now you are glad that they are living with you, and that you get to be with them, living and experiencing life together. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof (Matthew 6:34).
Read God's Word with our kids. Let's teach them lessons based upon spiritual principles. Show them how God answers your prayers in action and how to apply their believing in their own lives. Discuss with them how we expect to see miracles, signs and wonders every day in our lives. Let them see our relationship with God. Tell them every day how God blessed you. Try at the dinner table, "So, how did God bless you today?" See what they say.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth (3 John 1:4). To be truthful, you have to take on responsibility, for yourself as well as others. Let's teach our children about responsibility. Let them know that they will not always be right, they'll make mistakes, they won't win every race. But teach them about handling life gracefully. How? Remind them that God loves them just the way they are, and you love them in the same way. Unconditionally.
Let's start training our children early. Some of the most important life lesson that I live by today, I learned when I was just a kid. Pay undivided attention to your kids while you have them. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).
Be Not Conformed
I teach my children to not be conformed to this world. Don't just do what everyone else is doing. Don't invest a lot of precious time in trendy ideas. They are fleeting. Invest in building up a child. How? By teaching our children to renew their minds. They have the power to renew their minds and manifest great things in this world. I teach my kids to be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that the may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2).
If life is too busy, try hitting the "delete" button. If you're feeling that life seems really busy, you've got a lot to do today, too busy to read, too busy to play with the kid, too busy to eat healthy meals together. If life is too busy, it probably is. We can set our children up for success in life by making the renewed mind easy for them.
I look at each of my children as a 3-part being. They are made up of body, soul and spirt. For a strong, healthy body, I give my kids the best food I can afford. Healthy food is a lot cheaper than medical bills. I also push my kids outside. Kids need to play outside. Get them out of the house. And I make sure my kids get plenty of sleep. 7:30 PM on Sunday through Thursday nights and 8:30 PM on Friday and Saturday.
For their soul, No TV. No computer. No devices. No social networking. Get them outside with play friends for real social networking. It's okay for a child to say, "I'm bored." Let them figure it out. Children need tim to dream and create. Reading is very important. Playing musical instruments in important. And remember to keep things light. Proverbs 17:22 says that a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.
For their spirit, show them how to live in God's love. Walk it. Don't just talk it. Be a great example. In Matthew 22:36-40, we learn that there are two commandments, which sum up all other laws, rules and religious dogma. Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor as thyself. I show my children how to be kind to one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another (Ephesians 4:32). Make a spiritual belief system, your spiritual principles, the foundation upon which to build and transform the self, the center of your family's life. Take care of yourself vertically by being in alignment and harmony with God, then radiate outward, serving and loving others as you would love and serve yourself. My wife as a bible chapter and verse on a small stand on our dining room table. We often, not always, quiz the kids to see if they can recall the verse. Then, we talk about it and what it really means to their lives. In every situation in life, there's a spiritual principle that can be applied.
God's love that is taught within the walls of our homes can be far more attractive to our kids than anything the world has to offer, and that will keep our children coming back to God no matter how far from home they roam.
I encourage you to teach your children about God's unconditional love every time you see the Sun.
Below is the cross word puzzle activity we enjoyed doing together.