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Hope in a Digital World

Hope can be hard to come by in a digital world. We are surrounded by bad news, inundated with people doing better than us, and constantly teased with promises of a better life if we only play that game, watch that show, use that product.

When we talk to our children about technology, and parent them in a tech world, we need to remember that hope means having a reason for today and a purpose for tomorrow. As Christians we find that in Christ, and it influences the shows we watch, apps we use, games we play, and tech we use as a family.

Today’s conversation revolves around three reasons for hope that I want every child to hear from a caring adult:
1. Little choices matter (and that’s a good thing)
2. Everyone has a purpose
3. It’s never too late to be great

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Transcription:

Purposely. Your life. God’s purpose. Listen at onpurposely.com.

Nathan Sutherland: Hello everyone and welcome to the Gospel Tech podcast. My name is Nathan Sutherland, and this podcast is dedicated to helping families love God, and use tech. Today’s conversation, we are talking about hope in a digital age. Leading up to Thanksgiving here in the United States, we’re gonna be talking about hope and about wonder and about thankfulness in a digital age because I believe that those are three intentional practices, three disciplines we have to take on every single day in order to experience them. I don’t think they come naturally. I actually think that much of our digital consumption fights us in the areas of hope and wonder and thankfulness. And so, I just wanted to take this month and kind of think big picture about how are we using our tech.

What is it supporting in our hearts and our minds? And are we being intentional in the way that we use our technology as far as what God calls us to do, have and be? [00:01:00] That we are called to look like Jesus, and therefore our fruit should look more like Galatians 5:22, those wonderful fruits of the Spirit.

And so that’s gonna be kind of our, our month-long conversation, but today we’re talking about hope in a digital age. so, with no further ado, let’s get this conversation started.

Welcome to the Gospel Tech Podcast, a resource for parents who feel overwhelmed and outpaced as they raise healthy youth in a tech world. As an educator, parent and tech user, I want to equip parents with the tools, resources, and confidence they need to raise kids who love God and use tech.

Thank you to everyone who has helped make this podcast possible. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you for rating it. If you have not yet and you’ve listened to more than two episodes and you have found this beneficial and encouraging, would you take the time to wherever you listen to rate this.

So, you can [00:02:00] rate it in Spotify, you can rate it on iTunes, you can rate it on Google, and you can go outta five stars. And I’m asking for five stars cause I’m trying to create five-star content here. If it’s not five stars. Please send me an email or a, or a message through Instagram or Facebook. It’s @lovegodusetech, or on email it’s Nathan@ gospeltech.net. Tell me how I can improve and get you five-star content. And if you leave us five stars leave in a sentence or two, just how has this helped you? What do you find encouraging? Who might find this resource beneficial, and why? Just a quick, again, a single line would work. And that helps in two ways.

One, the rating helps more people find us because it shows up in the algorithm suggestions. And I’ve already met people who have said, Hey, I found about your ministry through just the iTunes suggestion list. And it helps people kind of process when they’re dedicating their time and their efforts and their focus to listening to this content.

It helps ’em know that it matters. So, thank you for doing that. Thank you as well for telling people and the way we [00:03:00] know you’re telling people. Is we’ll get like a single like little batch of listeners. Like, Oh, you got five listens in a new area, and then all of a sudden it blows up. And that’s super cool because someone found us through an algorithm.

It’s a, it’s an area that we don’t have any listens. For example, somewhere in Georgia, right? So, Georgia, I can see, hey, we got a first time listener. That’s super cool. And then all of a sudden there’s more than one first time listener and they’re like, Oh, that person told people is super cool. Thank you.

So, shout out to Georgia. That’s a, that’s a real one there. Shout out to Seattle, Washington, my home state here. And shout out to the entire country of India. I’m not gonna break it down by region. But thank you for listening and being a part of this conversation. My hope, as always is to raise up parents, empower parents to be able to talk about healthy tech, to be able to understand and communicate the gospel and to be able to connect the hope of that gospel to your daily tech lives.

And that’s for all ranges of life and that’s for all locations on this planet. Cuz the gospel is the good news that God saves sinners. And that hope that we get from being saved is how we then parent our [00:04:00] kids humbly, and how we approach tech respectfully. So, for the first time ever, I’m excited to thank our partners.

I wanna make sure that I’m only suggesting organizations that are gonna help you love God and use tech to raise healthy youth in a tech world, which is why I’m excited to introduce you to Lome. Lome is designed to help you create healthy family rhythms. It takes your family calendar and all the activities you’ve got and mashes them into one digital space that ties in with your Google Calendar or even just available via text message or your web browser, and it lets you build your family plan based on your family priority.

You can go to withlome.com, W I T H L O M E .com and begin intentionally planning your family’s calendar today. On that conversation note, today we are talking about hope and a digital age. This comes specifically from a talk that I’ve been giving recently in public schools. I was a public-school teacher for a decade.

I stepped out to begin this non-profit work. Gospel tech has become my focal work that is [00:05:00] amazing and I love doing it. And I was getting asked a lot well, talk about technology in public schools, and the answer is no. I really don’t do those talks because the conversation breaks down when we start talking how do you manage your tech well? And how do you do that without the gospel at the center? Like it’s a very hard conversation. All of a sudden, I’m asking parents to make discerning conversations on family expectations or whether this, you know, smartphone fits your child or whether it fits your family’s expectations.

And I find that a lot of families don’t have that. So, I had to go another step back and go, All right, we need the gospels, our foundation, that we’re using our tech from belonging in Christ, so we’re not using it so that we can belong. We’re using it because we already do. Now what fits that?

Right? And now how do we, how do we manage our heart conditions? So there certainly are actions to take and safety measures to put in place. But it’s not just about managing our kids well. It’s about loving the Lord well. And so, I don’t do that talk a lot in public schools right now. The one talk I do in [00:06:00] public schools is the hope talk.

And the reason I’m giving this preface is I want to explain that this is, I was praying about it. I hadn’t done talks in public schools for a couple years and I had a heavy weight for these young people who lived through covid and they are headed back into society, but they lived a couple years of trauma, of isolation and of questioning, of getting their information only through the internet, getting their friends only through the internet, getting their entertainment only through the internet.

And so, they’re enjoying these social activities. Been total isolation for the most part. And when I was praying through that, the Lord laid on my heart this conversation of hope. So, what we’re talking about today is as parents, how can we look at our children through the eyes of wanting them to experience the great hope that is in Christ. Not just to understand all the right rules, or to not make any mistakes, but to understand really three things.

The first is that their little choices matter. And that’s a hope conversation, not a fear conversation, but your little choices matter. The second is that everyone has a purpose and that’s, again, not [00:07:00] to shame them into making good choices, but to remind them that even when they make poor choices on purpose, that there’s still a choice.

And that doesn’t change their purpose. It might change the way they get there, but it doesn’t change their overall purpose. And the third is that it’s never too late to be great. And I’m just gonna basically share with you what I share with the kids. This is from basically middle school up through high school.

I do this in single class settings. The last three days I’ve done back-to-back assemblies, which have been amazing. So, they were grade level. It was, it was a junior high, so it was seventh, eighth, and ninth grade here in the United States. But this conversation is important, I believe, for parents to both hear and to be able to communicate with our kids.

So, as you’re talking to your young people, as you’re hearing them express their goals and their dreams it can get so personal. And they’re our kids and we love them so much. And so, this my hope with this hope talk is to reset our focus on how God sees our kids that he doesn’t see them as the sum of their mistakes.

He sees them in there already, but not yet stage. He [00:08:00] loves us because he sees. Who we can be when we repent and it’s not a better version of ourselves. Instead, we die to ourselves, and we live now for Christ and the life we now live is in him, as Paul puts it. And that is what I’m hoping for in this conversation, is that parents, we can now love our kids with the humility of recognizing we also need a savior.

So, we’re not just saying be more like us. In fact, to them being like us could be the problem. Instead they need the same savior that we need. And so, yes, we are still angry when sin happens. God’s angry at sin. But we keep it focused on the problem, not the person. And our anger goes into intervening for our child and loving them and doing the hard work that it takes to have a relationship because we love our kids just like Jesus loved us, right?

Just like God loved the world while we were still sinners and send his only son for us. So in that, let’s start with those little choices. The example that I often use to start this is simply the movie Mean Girls. Please don’t watch it if you [00:09:00] haven’t yet. But there’s a PE teacher and he’s giving what’s kind of a stereotypical choices to conversation and it’s in a PE class.

He sits ’em down and he just says Alright, don’t have sex. If you have sex, you will get pregnant and you will die. And that’s how many of us had choice talks laid out to us, right? Don’t, don’t do drugs. Don’t hang out with bad kids. Don’t drive too fast. Don’t get, don’t get pregnant. You will die and it’ll ruin your entire life.

And then some of us, or our friends went and did some of the very things we were told specifically not to do, and we did it on purpose. It wasn’t an accident. No one tricked us into it. Like we set our sights on a poor decision and we went and we made it sometimes repeatedly. And then we’d get into a sticky spot and our kids get into a sticky spot where, Okay, well I’ve made the mistake and I didn’t die.

So do I tell someone? Do I just like move on and hope that this is okay? Like, how do I get out of this if I feel like I need help? Or if I don’t know what to do, if I’m [00:10:00] not satisfied with where I’m headed, ooh, what do I do next? And that’s really what this talk is about. I’m giving this talk to young people, and I’m telling you today, parents this conversation because we need to assume that our kids are going to make mistakes.

We need to assume they’re gonna make them on purpose. And we need to be mentally prepared, prayerfully ready, and spiritually strong enough to be able to love them in that spot, not just make excuses for it. Not, I’m not saying any of that. I’m not saying overly punish them or under punish, I’m saying to meet them in that space.

And prayerfully recognize what does my child need in this time? So first, the first thing we need, they need and that we need to recognize about ’em is that little choices. And what I mean by this, I’ll, I’ll start with a story. Little choices matter and that’s a good thing because Owen and Henry, when they were four and two, we had a pre bedtime ritual.

We would open up the two doors in the big long hallway in our house and the boys would stand at one end. I would stand at the other with a pillow in front of me. They would run down the hallway and just line back or tackle me, and I’d pick [00:11:00] em up and grab ’em by their ankles and spin ’em around, get ’em real dizzy and send ’em down.

Repeat right before bed. Get ’em all wound up. And it was a really good time, except sometimes Owen would decide that he being the bigger brother, would take an extra turn. So Henry’d totter his way down the halls as a two-year-old. Owen would linebacker tackle him, then take Henry’s turn. And while Henry slowly picked himself up off the ground, Owen would be coming back the other way, and would just knock him over the other direction.

Rinse and repeat, and so I would stop Owen say, It’s not how we treat people. You need to be kind. That’s not safe. It’s not right. Jesus doesn’t want you treating your brother that way. That’s very selfish. We’d have those conversations and they’d work like for a turn or two, but eventually excitement would take over and he would choose to take advantage of his brother’s smaller size at that point.

That was all well and good until one fateful night. I forgot to open both of the double doors. So I opened one of them, which didn’t seem like a big deal. Like you just run down the hall, run around the door and then tackle me. But the problem was you didn’t have [00:12:00] line of sight down the hall. So Owen had just tackled me.

He was getting up and he could hear that thumpety, clumpety of a two-year-old running where it’s like all his limbs are disconnected from one another. And I could see the crazy in Owen’s eyes that he was gonna get up and try to truck his brother again and take another turn. And he turned and started to run towards the door.

But I could hear that Henry was so much closer than Owen thought. And I said, Owen no! And I got it out once. And, and at this, I need to take an aside because I’ve learned since, so Anne and I enjoy sushi and they come with edamame little soybeans that are salted. And if you squeeze a soybean, It just rockets out.

And I found out that when a two-year old’s head hits just below your nose at the speed of light, it’ll do the exact same thing to your teeth. I watched a tooth skip across the carpet. And I grabbed Owen and I ran him to the bathroom and sure enough, Henry wasn’t damaged at all. His forehead had hit directly below Owen’s nose and [00:13:00] both of Owen’s front teeth are out of his face.

We took a couple pictures, we texted a couple friends and we ended up landed on like, Oh, these, these things are gone and it’s gonna be another three or four years until they grow in. And Owen being a very tough man, was just kind of sobbing. And he goes, Dad? Yeah, buddy? I want my teef back back. Cuz it’s really hard to say teeth when you don’t have your front teeth.

And what he was really saying there was Dad, I am sad about what just happened. I didn’t mean for this outcome to occur. Yes, I meant to run into my brother. That was on purpose. Yes, you told me not to, and I understand that, but I didn’t mean to get my teeth smashed out. Like that wasn’t, that wasn’t the goal, and I don’t like it.

And I understand that that was his little four-year-old way of saying that. Right. I want my teef back. And I think for many of us, and for many of our kids, this is how we deal with life, especially when we’re young people. We are running down the hallway of life doing whatever feels right.

Right even when our parents tell us. Even when our friends tell us, even when our trusted mentors, [00:14:00] teachers, youth pastors, whatever, tell us, Don’t go there. Don’t do that. Don’t search that. Don’t smoke that. Don’t date them, right? Like whatever the conversation is, we ignore it because we’re invincible. Who cares? Feels good! And some of our young people are booking it down the hallway of life about to get popped in the mouth.

Some of our young people, just did. They already did the bad thing. They already did the thing we told them not to, and they’re holding their teeth and they’re saying, man, I wish I could have my teeth back. I wish I could have another go. I wish I didn’t tweet it. I wish I didn’t say it. I wish I didn’t watch it.

I wish I didn’t go there, smoke it, date ’em, whatever it is. I wish like I can recognize now, this is a consequence I don’t want. And when we’re talking to our young people, when we’re talking to our children or their friends, our loving job is to help them look up and view the hallway of life. Not to make a perfect plan, but to simply ask are the choices you’re making today, are they taking you somewhere you want to be?

And the way I phrase that to kids is a year [00:15:00] from now, so today it was seventh graders a year from now, October, whatever it is. Today’s the 27th, so October 27th, 2022, on October 27th, 2023, do you wanna be more of who you are right now? Because without any change, if you just keep making the exact same decisions, you’re just gonna become more of whoever you are right now.

Do you like that? And most kids, without any faith background, without any mentor support, most kids can tell you that yay or nay. Now, some of them might kind of not take a suit like, Yeah, I’m awesome, right? But. Inside, they know the answer to that. The Holy Spirit is always at work. God’s common grace is working in there and is calling them to a relationship into repentance.

They know if something needs to change, and so then I offer ’em two options. You can either, if you said, Yes, I want to be more of this, what one thing are you gonna keep doing? Just pick one. Are you gonna, It’s the way you do your schoolwork? It’s the way you sleep? Is it the way you draw? Is it like, what?

What are you doing well? One thing. And if it’s no, what one thing do you need to change? You can’t change ’em all. You can’t [00:16:00] become perfect tomorrow. That’s not even the goal. But you need to pick a thing that came first to your in mind, and drop it like it’s hot. And then I always encourage ’em to tell one person can be a mentor, a friend, a counselor, a parent.

Who are you gonna tell? Because change doesn’t happen in isolation. And in that, what we’re getting to is yes, your little choices matter. But they don’t just matter to avoid the bad things. That’s often how we present this. So just never smoke a cigarette. Smoking is bad for you. Don’t smoke weed. Weed will ruin you and it’ll put you into other drugs, right?

Like we give these talks, but then they do it and then we for, we fail to tell them. We don’t, I think forget. I think we don’t wanna let them know. Cause we’re worried they’ll use it as license, but we forget to tell them, or fail to tell them that there are still choices available to them. They can still go out and make little choices even after they’ve made a bad one.

So in having this conversation, we don’t simply say never make a bad choice, we say, hey, there’s little good choices aligned or in line for you. Are you making the ones that line up with who you wanna become? Because then that takes the second point is that everyone has [00:17:00] potential. And when we talk about young people, young people know about their potential, they dream about their potential.

They set goals for their potential. Schools do an amazing job with this. Parents do an amazing job with this. Hey, what do, what do you wanna be when you grow up? It’s a common question a child will have to field. And they usually know the right, astronaut, firefighter, neurosurgeon every once in a while, SoundCloud rapper, influencer, YouTuber, professional gamer, you’ll get all of these answers. Those are all great. But when we talk about potential, when we talk about everyone has a purpose, we need to make sure that. When we think about our children and when we talk to our children, we’re not talking about an in destination, cuz it’s very easy for us in our lives to think of, well, like, you know, there’s, there’s a goal out there.

And that’s my goal, That’s my destination, that’s my purpose. So my purpose is to be the president, to be whatever those other things, a doctor. And so between now and then, though, we get distracted and we get into a line of thinking that says, Well, that’s what’s gonna make me matter once I date that person have that money, right? 

Get that status, get [00:18:00] that job, get into that school, whatever the thing is, then I’ll matter. But until then, I don’t go to the Olympics, would be an athletic one, right? Then I’ll matter. Once I’m an Olympic gold medalist, then I matter. And the danger in thinking of about our purpose as a destination is really twofold. One, we miss that whole journey. So the daily choices that get us there, the daily practices, the daily exercise, the daily friendships, the daily maturity that is required to reach some of those really big, cool goals or even callings that the Lord said on our hearts. We, we miss the fact that every one of those days mattered because we keep waiting for the day when we arrive.

And now I matter because… And so you have this problem of like, well, I don’t matter in the in between. So you’re not recocgnizing your value worth and purpose in Christ, and pride is set up. Because as soon as you arrive, now you’re awesome and other people need to get on your level and they need to do what you say because you’re there.

And so both of those are both, those are both lies. You matter the entire time. You have value, you have a purpose whether or not you’re living by it. Simply walking away from your purpose doesn’t mean you don’t [00:19:00] have one. And when you do arrive at your purpose, you’re no better than you ever were because the entire time you’ve just been faithfully doing what the Lord’s called you to do.

The second problem, so the first is there’s a, we’re talking about why having a journey instead of a destination for your purpose is important. So the first is you need to matter before then. The second is sometimes you don’t get. Right? I had a friend growing up who was like, I’m gonna be a lawyer when I grow up.

And his life choices, little choices took him off track. He never got to be a lawyer. And yet that doesn’t mean he no longer has a purpose. Even if he was called to be a lawyer and his little choice has made it so that he can never practice law, that doesn’t mean he’s failed. Right? Because at the end of the day, making a mistake doesn’t make him a mistake that that choice that he made and actually series of choices doesn’t define him like, well, now you’re a mistake because you did these bad things.

No, it describes him. It’s part of his journey. It’s part of how the Lord will use him. It’s part of his testimony, but it’s not the defining act of his life. God’s Grace, the defining act, and that’s for our kids. We needed them to know. Cool, it’s [00:20:00] great that you have a destination. What are you doing today? Right to walk you in that direction?

And if you never get to that destination, if the Lord diverts you or poor choices push you in a new area, you can still have a purpose. It’s not a ship that sails, it’s a path you walk. And that’s all of Psalms talks about the path of the Lord and the ways of the Lord that we walk in and that the Lord leads us in and that we follow him in.

And this concept of wisdom and discernment and the path of the Lord, is again, it’s a daily choice to get and walk right? Jesus eventually describes it as carrying our cross and following him.  That that path isn’t one we’re blazing on our own. And I just, it’s so important for our kids to hear that their purpose, their uniqueness, the way God wired them, the, the joys and interests he’s put in them aren’t about arriving at a singular spot at a singular time in history or else we’ll be outta God’s will. Or will never be able to be used.

If the Lord can use Pharaoh’s rebellion and the empire of Babylon, he can use a mixed up human individual. The [00:21:00] question then isn’t will I miss God’s will? But, am I today following the Lord’s will for me? Am I- and his will is to believe in the one he sent, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, your neighbor is yourself, including your enemies, and to make disciples. That’s the will of the Lord. You can do that doing anything, from being an Amazon delivery driver to a neurosurgeon, to an astronaut, to a middle school teacher, to a professional speaker, to a stay-at-home parent. You can do the Lord’s will.

So then the question is, what little choices are you making to make sure you’re doing those things well? Right. That’s it. So then when we see that we have little choices and they matter. And that they’re always hopeful they’re still there. As long as you’re drawing breath in your lungs, you still have that choice, and you have a purpose whether or not you’re following it. Whether or not you’re in a years of rebellion or holding your teeth because you just got popped in the life by mouth or pop popped in the mouth by life, huh!

There you go. The third then, is that it’s never too late to be great. And as I tell the kids, like this is the whole point of the conversation is [00:22:00] I really want to drive this in. This is the heart of the gospel in a public setting. I can’t share the gospel. I can’t share those words. And even if I did, I’m not a hundred percent sure they would understand because there is certain contexts these kids are completely outta the loop on.

So I share the gospel intentionally in a public setting by sharing the gospel this way, this idea that it’s never too late to be great. And I share three, three friends and then three students. And so first friend is my buddy, Joel. And Joel went to a local school here in my hometown and was a bit of a punk.

He got out. Causing trouble. And from starting fights and generally being being rough and got kicked out of a public school, actually expelled from the district. And he got to, he went into a private school, in a local town and did not last long before he punched a teacher. And at that point in my talks I will even stop and just be like, Hey so you have a 15 year old who’s just been kicked out of a pair of schools.[00:23:00] 

One district and a and a private school, they would just, they won’t even take your money. If you were to ask every adult who had taught him in that course of that year, what would they say was gonna be his outcome in 10 years? And the kids get it right. They’re like, All right, he’s gonna be in jail, right?

Or he is gonna be, you know in, in a lot of trouble. Or he is gonna be dead. Like, that’s what your average adult would say. And yet, if you flash forward even just 10 years later. 10 years later, he was absolutely in love with Jesus, thrashing the naar on a skateboard, making videos that share the gospel, and eventually takes him into making videos of snowboarders and professional professional snowboarders and, Olympians that share the gospel and now runs a non-profit that shares the hope of the gospel around the world, that tells the story of the power of the gospel around the world.

And runs a drug and alcohol recovery clinic in Carlsbad, California. So if you ever find Nation’s Foundation, like this is [00:24:00] Joel’s story. And it’s so amazing to watch cuz I’ve had that kid as a middle schooler, but I haven’t lived long enough to watch him become a Jesus loving, you know, full adult with a wife and kids.

Often times as, especially when you’re coaching or teaching, like you get that little slice out of their life, but you don’t get the longitudinal view. And Joel’s life is so encouraging to me and the Lord’s work in Joel’s life because we watch that kid who goes, All right, making a mistake, didn’t make a mistake.

We always tell kids like, What do you wanna be when you grow up? And they have those great ideas. I’m like, All right, well, no one’s ever said I wanna be a dropout. I wanna be an addict or I want to be a statistic. And yet we can agree that those things, three things are gonna happen somewhere in the United States, somewhere in our world.

Someone’s gonna drop outta school, someone’s gonna get addicted and be suffer from substance abuse. And someone is going to do something on the statistical range the way we describe societal ills with numbers, right? So driving under the influence would be an example of a statistic. No one’s plan is to do that, and yet it [00:25:00] happens.

So yes, little choices get us there. Yes, those people still have a purpose. We can all agree that dropping ,out addiction, statistical mistakes are not in people’s best interest for their potential, but we also have to recognize that doesn’t define them. It describes their journey, but it doesn’t define ’em. Making a mistake doesn’t make them a mistake.

Just like with Joel. And so that was the, I mean, we talked dropping out but then we talked addicts. And this is really heavy and I don’t wanna take this lightly. I do want to address it realistically. My buddy Joey started partying pretty hard in high school, and by the end of high school had started taking heroin and was addicted.

He ended up walking away from his family, walking away from school and spending 10 years with heroin running his life. He actually lived multiple years under a bridge in Portland, Oregon. When I think of Joey’s life I think of those people that I see under bridges and going, Man, like that person could be Joey before he met and followed Jesus.

Cuz Joey got in some [00:26:00] trouble through some choices in that time of life. Went to the hospital, got professional care. Ended up being connected with a group called Absolute Ministries who got ’em not just clean and sober but connected with Jesus. Had a brand new start. Got hired by Absolute Ministries and started helping other people break the cycle of addiction.

And so yes, Joey would say like, Yeah, I want my 10 years of life back. Like I want, I wish I hadn’t dedicated those 10 years back. But he also is gonna say, That doesn’t, that doesn’t define me. That’s not who I am anymore. Like I’m a saint in Christ now. I’m a new creation and he has freedom, right? That was what he was living in.

And I just think that’s such an important idea for us to recognize that even in the area of addiction, that addiction isn’t final. It doesn’t get the last say. And I’m not saying that that’s easy, and I’m not saying it’s the first try, but I’m saying it’s a fight worth fighting because the Lord does call us into that freedom and he offers us those resources and it’s little daily submissive choices, giving up little things that would be fine for most people that we can’t have [00:27:00] because of our history and our hurt.

The Lord absolutely redeems our spirit. He forgets. Or doesn’t forget, he remembers our sins no more. And that’s important because it means he doesn’t act on ’em. But that doesn’t mean the consequences go away. Some of us have very real pain and hurt from some of these choices that weren’t God’s will for us, but that he’s going to use for goodness.

Because in Joey’s example, he had a heart to love and serve others especially those who are struggling in addiction and substances. So the just that idea, I love that in Joey’s life, we got to see that freedom. We got to see him experience joy and share it with others. And then my third was a buddy that I met in elementary school who when we first met, he’s like, I’m gonna be a lawyer, , hence my, my previous story.

And like, Oh, that’s cool. I don’t know what that is. Let’s go throw rocks. And we hung out all the way through high school into college. We both actually decided we were gonna be lawyers. We both took the LSAT in college, went to school in Seattle, and did great. Both of us got really good scores and [00:28:00] so I got into Gonzaga and was like, this is gonna be amazing.

Let’s hang out. And he is like, Yeah, you should come over. And when I came over he was under house arrest. He had an ankle bracelet on cuz he’d had three DUIs in a month. And driving under the influence means, if you got caught three times in a month, you were driving more than three times. They didn’t just catch you the three times you did it.

And that led in a pretty rough direction. And flash forward to today he is living in a spot where he is loving his daughter super well. He is being intentional that they in the state of Washington will not let you be a lawyer with three DUIs on your record in a month. There’s the morals and ethics check, and it, it will just be there.

They’ll see it at any point. But despite losing that big time dream for a career, not not giving up on the big time dream of being an amazing dad, of being an intentional father and of making those hard choices to live healthfully in the season of adulthood so that he can be [00:29:00] present for his daughter which is so cool to watch.

And I just. I find that super encouraging because again, when we talk about it’s never too late to be great, like, yes, we can make poor decisions. No one was gonna say that that was a good choice or living up to his potential. But we also need to understand that even with that, even with the loss of a dream, because of repeated, intentionally made poor choices, that doesn’t mean somehow your value is degraded, that your spoiled goods or damaged goods, that you’re not worth loving or you’re not worth delivering love to others.

A lot of times we believe the lie that well, I’ve made too many mistakes, so I can’t share the gospel. I’ve made too many mistakes, so I can’t tell that person that that is a mistake because I did the same stuff. Like no that’s, you’re, you’ve experienced it, you’ve now seen the joy and freedom in Christ. Like we need to live into that.

And that as parents is something that we get to do. We’ve made a lot of these mistakes, so we don’t just yell at our kids until they don’t make mistakes, cuz they’ll just get sneaky. Instead, we remember humbly, we’ve also made mistakes, maybe not in this area, but we’ve [00:30:00] made mistakes. What do we need to do to help love our kids well?

And I think, I think I may have said three kids, but I’m gonna just share one more of the, oh, excuse me two more of the, of the kid examples. As a teacher I saw multiple times where young people rose above their mistakes and really exemplified the gospel well, and, and showed hope in a way that I think is really, really powerful.

So we got Joey, Joel, and my buddy from elementary school. And then on the student side I had a young man named Evan show up in class. And he is pretty rough. He wasn’t really happy with me. I taught eighth grade language arts. He showed up one day with arms cross and I was like, I don’t know, Like everyone’s got a bad day.

It was first day, second semester, like just met this kid for the first time. He transferred over from another teacher. Just kinda give him the benefit of the doubt. But by like day two, he was mouthing off, like, this is dumb. When am I ever gonna use this? This is stupid. This is a waste of time. Probably surprising that those aren’t teachers’ favorite words to hear out of a student.

[00:31:00] And by day three, his friends started to join in. So we’re Wednesday of the first week back and it’s not, it’s not going well. I did a quick survey of some other teachers and asked, What is going on with this young man? And teachers like, Oh, he is an A student, says the science teacher. A student says the math teacher.

I polled his reading scores. It turns out he is reading at a fourth grade level in eighth grade, which would explain some of his bitterness. And that doesn’t mean he read up to fourth grade and then never learned another word. That means this young man has struggled with reading for at least four years, but probably since first or second grade, and he had eventually reached a spot where he realized I can’t read as well as my peers.

So I just won’t, And if I don’t do it, no one will understand that I can’t and therefore I win and I never have to look like I don’t know what’s happening. And what we were able to do, was bring in his parents. He had a very engaged parent who he agreed to allow, have having, well, how do I say that?

He agreed to have one parent read to him each night, which think [00:32:00] about that as like an eighth grade boy. I absolutely love that visual. And he did, He got read to every night for the next four and a half months and raised his reading level up to an eighth grade reading level by the end of the school year which is incredible.

So then he was going into ninth grade, but he was only one year behind in reading. But more than that, he had confidence that he could do it. He had seen four years of growth. He recognized, Oh, my brain, my brain can understand this stuff. It just takes intentional practice and work, and it takes the humility to allow something like my parents reading to me every night before bed. Because this young man made the choice to recognize that where he was headed was not directed towards his purpose and that he didn’t have to give up on himself.

He didn’t have to see himself as a failure. He saw himself as someone who was failing English right now, who was a poor reader at that moment in history. And yet, five months later, no longer was a poor reader. And he graduated high school. He wasn’t an English major, right? [00:33:00] He’s not gonna go into being a, a lit professor.

He went into science and math. But he has the confidence to know, not just in English, but in every area he can grow and learn. And I love that concept in academics. Because I see academics as really the idea of education being how are we learning about God’s creation and therefore about God. So poetry and math and science and anything else you’re going to be studying literature and art and physical sports and, and physical education.

And as you get into your specifics of physics and kinesiology and nutrition and biology and chemistry we are learning about all the nuance of God’s creation. How do our bodies work? How do our bodies tie in with the plants that are around us that we consume and then become the energy we use in those sports that we play.

Like all of that is interrelated and that’s the point of education at the end of the day is to ask huge questions and look for answers in the world around us and see it reflecting back the God who created it. That’s our goal. Giving our children hope in an area of [00:34:00] education is giving them another light in their life that shines out into God’s goodness and allows them now to read content that they can engage and ask challenging questions that they can puzzle through with the brain and the talents and the giftings that God has given ’em.

So I love watching kids excel academically and overcome obstacles academically because I believe it opens their eyes not to the potential of humanity. If anything, it opens our eyes to the limits of humanity. But instead to the design of humanity that we were made for more than just knowledge, we were made for a relationship.

And that the greatest relationship is with the God who made us and created us, and who’s designed us for good works. So Evan was one. And I think just for the sake of time, I’ll actually skip to the last one. It’s. You can reach out to me if you’d like to know the other stories. There’s lots of ’em, but I think the last story that really stuck with me and that I share with our students and that I want you to hear because it’s an intimidating spot as a mentor, as a parent was a young man who was really struggling with hope with a reason for [00:35:00] today and a purpose for tomorrow.

His name was Austin. And Austin was questioning whether each day was worth it. And one day during a leadership program, I ran at my school there were 350 kids in the gym. One of my leaders stands up and runs out, and I only have like 50 some odd of these leaders. So there’s nearly 300 of these seventh graders and 50 ish of these upperclassmen leaders.

One of ’em runs out and it’s 1:45. We get out at 2:15 in the school at this time. I follow up later. What happened? Well, she got a text from Austin and that text simply said, I’m gonna take my life. And this was on a Friday at 1:45. She runs to the principal’s office, gets the principal, the principal runs to the counselor, gets the counselor.

The counselor runs and finds Austin before he gets on a bus. So in that remaining 20 some odd minutes before those buses leave, gets him and turns out it, it wasn’t just for attention, it wasn’t a drill, it wasn’t a test. This was an actual statement of [00:36:00] fact, and he was put under 48 hour surveillance at the local hospital.

But not only did Audrey, the young lady, believe in his purpose more than he did, believe in his value more than he did, she didn’t leave it at simply getting in the help he needed, which was incredibly loving and the exact right decision. She went the extra mile and got three other friends and the four of them spent the weekend with Austin at the hospital.

Being present, giving up their time to be with a friend. And that young man just sent me a text about three weeks ago. He’s starting his second year, sophomore year at the University of Washington in an engineering program. And when I think about what that means, that this was five years ago that he had made an intentional decision that this life doesn’t have a reason or a purpose for me, it took one friend lovingly intervening, not convincing him otherwise, but getting him the professional aid he needed, giving him the loving adults that he needed to give him the time and the perspective where he can recognize, you know what?

I absolutely have [00:37:00] purpose. I absolutely have a reason for today and a purpose for tomorrow. And, that that dark season doesn’t define me, and many of us who have loved ones and friends who have been through these seasons understand what that looks like. We know we can’t fix it for those people that we care about, even though we so desperately want to, but we can bring them before the Lord prayerfully, we can intervene relationally and call out those lies when we see them, and we can get them the professional care that sometimes and many times, if they’re not getting any they desperately need in order to help them see that greater picture.

That having a mistake or making mistake does not make you a mistake. It doesn’t lessen your value, and our young people need to hear that from us verbally. Yes, we love them, and that that love is not based on them not making mistakes. That love is based on the fact that they are a child and we will constantly love them.

Sometimes our love is gonna be intervening in mistakes and making sure they are not easy to make. That’s loving. Sometimes our love is planning fun things and having great opportunities. Sometimes our love is sitting and [00:38:00] listening or crying with them or laughing with them when something good happens and celebrating their victories, even if it’s not the victory, we would like.

That’s sometimes the most loving thing to do. And recognizing that our love is not based on when you’re doing good I love you, and when you’re not, when you’re passing classes, I love you. And when you’re not, that’s not true. Our love is the humble, reflected, love of our Heavenly Father, and we are loving our child towards something. 

There’s a purpose in love. It’s not just so we can have good feelings. It’s so that they can see the love of God. They can hear the hope of the gospel, that they’re not the ones defining their own destiny, that they’re not the ones making their own value, that they’re not the sum of their good choices.

And when they make bad choices, that somehow tarnishes them. Instead, they’re completely whole, completely new, completely love, completely redeemed when they bend their knee and put their faith in Christ, and then live from the life that Christ gives them that they don’t become better versions of themselves.

They become new creations and that new creation has new desires, it has a new will, and [00:39:00] has a new goal in life because the goal is now to do the good works god gives ’em. Not to just enjoy life as much or try to minimize bad choices, or you know, just be a good person. Like those aren’t the goals of Christ.

The goal is, Look like Jesus. And that’s only gonna happen by His Holy Spirit. So when we talk about hope now in that location, when we have hope in Christ, now we can go play our games, use our social media watch our shows, not with complete abandon because again, our time isn’t our own. Instead, we submit every one of those to the Lord and say, Lord, is this something that’s gonna help me love you and reflect you and reach others?

Cool. If so, high fives all around. If not, what should I be doing instead? What, what does that look like? And helping our kids process that, modeling that conversation for ourselves so we can show areas in our life like, Hey, this is something I’ve prayed through. Here’s what the Lord is giving me. Or Here’s what the Lord has taken.

Those are really important. And when we talk about kids, they need to know that their life is about more than getting a good job. It’s about more than getting good money. It’s about more than being [00:40:00] quote unquote successful. Kids are smart man, especially in the age of the internet where they can watch people regularly implode that they’re told to be like, professional athletes, and professional actors, and professional businesspeople, and professional pastors and people are regularly imploding.

They understand that success can’t be enough for them. So they only have two options. Either fake it till you make it. And they’re just gonna go have a good time and hope the repercussions aren’t terrible or they’re gonna have actual hope, a reason for today and a purpose for tomorrow from a God who loves them and is calling them daily to walk the path of his way.

And that’s my encouragement to you. We need to do this ourselves. And we also need to model this and humbly bring this before our kids, by showing them what the gospel looks like, by talking about the good news that God loves them and what that looks like. And by parenting from that hope that we’re not parenting cuz we’re mad at ’em, we’re not disciplining because they’ve disappointed us.

But instead we are setting up expectations and providing [00:41:00] reactive boundaries and supports when poor decisions are made because we love them, because we have hope for them, because we know we can’t leave them in this situation. We need to intervene. So I hope that this conversation was encouraging to you and that in it you hear this idea of a reason for today and a purpose for tomorrow, and that it’s premised on three things.

The first is that little choices matter, and that’s a good thing that when we talk about little choices with our kids, we’re not talking about just avoiding bad stuff. We’re talking about leaning towards the good and the best stuff, little choices like prayer, little choices like worship, little choices like scripture, reading and memorization.

Little choice about talking about where God is providing and where we’re not submitting, and we need to, that everyone has a purpose, that God knows us, loves us, has a purpose for us, and that it requires bending our knee, that we’re saved by grace. So we will not achieve that purpose by our own intelligence or effort.

And that whatever our choices are, that it’s never too late tobe great. That even dropping out and dealing with addiction and doing [00:42:00] statistical mistakes not in spreadsheets, but stats that are following the mistakes made across society, like driving under the influence that even then you can still achieve your purpose in Christ.

Yes, there are some consequences. We can be holding our teeth and wishing we hadn’t made that choice, but that that doesn’t affect God’s love for us. I pray that that will be something you take to heart for your life as a parent. Cuz many of us have made mistakes and like, how can I raise kids with the life I’ve had?

Some of us are on the flip side like, ah, I haven’t made mistakes. I’m amazing. No, you’re not. That’s not a, that’s not a qualifier for whether you’re cool or not. In fact, Jesus addresses that with the Pharisees specifically. Say, No, no, you guys need me. And actually not recognizing your need for me leaves you in the worst spot than even tax collectors.

So we need to recognize our need. We need to recognize it even in our need and especially in our need, that’s when Christ meets us and helps us parent well. And that that same humble need we have is what we extend to our kids, that from that place, we’re going to love them in light of the hope we have in Christ.

So, hope [00:43:00] it was encouraging to you. If you know someone who could benefit from this, please pass it along and encourage them with it. If you have anything, any questions or anything, you can reach out to me, nathan@gospeltech.net or on Facebook and Instagram @LoveGodusetech. And if you’d like us to speak, if you’d like me to come out and talk at your church, at your public school with a hope talk or at your community group or any other group I would love to do that.

We are booking February’s just about full, but we are booking midweek in February now and then into March of 2023. And I would love to lock that in. Really three talks are what’s going on. We have a youth talk where I talk about technology. We have a two part. Or a one or two part talk. So there’s like the introductory 70 minute version, and then there’s an a bigger version where we talk about the big three.

We talk about smartphones, video games, pornography, and then we talk about like how do we make tech safe at home in the second, So they’re like two 70 minute sessions and right now churches are choosing to do ’em like a couple weeks apart, which is super cool. But I would love to do that. And then the third is the two hour [00:44:00] family tech framework workshop.

And so all of these resources can be done live. The Family Tech framework is available at gospeltechworkshop.com. But you can reach out to me gospeltech.net. You can go to speaking, send an email there, or just Instagram, Facebook, email, whatever works best. So thank you for being a part of this conversation, and please join us next week as we continue this conversation about how we can love God and use tech.

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