Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"You are Special"

What comes to mind when you hear: "You are Special!" 

  • Do you think: "Yeah right, what are you wanting from me"  
  • How about something like: "That's right, I am special bring me my golden slippers"
  • Or maybe: "Wow... That was rude, remind me to take you off my christmas card list"

Though I was joking a little above, I feel like this phrase is something we both don't believe about ourselves or we've taken it too far.  It's been my experience in over 10 years of full-time ministry that I often meet two kinds of students: ones that think they're more special than everyone & everything else and ones that think they are not worth much at all.  Yes, there is another group but they are not very common... let that sink in!  The sad news is, as adults, we often fall into those two groups as well.  I know this to be true because I'm on social media!!  I do not believe facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. are the devil but I do think there's something about these public platforms that magnifies our need to either feel special or show people we're "special."  I know this because I do/feel it too... 
  • I post that picture (only the ones that don't make me look fat)... and wait for lots of 'likes'!!  
  • I share the really good story (after tweaking it to make it a little more funny)... hoping for 'shares'!!  
  • I change my status from 'excited' to 'sad'... waiting for someone to comment asking about it!!

Bottom line... There's a reason we are special and it's not a 'what we do' as much as it is a 'why we are'!!  Recently, I re-read a book with my kids that reminded me of this simple truth yet again.  The book was "You are Special" by Max Lucado.  I'm guessing you have probably read it or heard of it but if you haven't, I'm strongly recommending you get it and if you have, give it another read tonight (Make it a Faith Talk this week).

In the book a small wooden person named Punchinello goes about his life as other wemmicks place 'golden stars' on those they think are special and 'grey dots' on those they do not.  As much as I want to share with you the whole story... I'd rather you read it!!  However, I wanted to share with you three things that really jumped out at me in new ways:

1) "...everytime they got a star, it made them feel soo good and it made them want to do it again..." Why do 'likes', 'shares' and 'followers' on social media (and life) make me feel so good!?  Does this make me special?

2) " fact, he had so many dots people would come up to him and give him grey dots for no reason at all..." Why do I follow the crowd so easily even if it hurts other people in the process!?  Am I so desperate to feel special that I'm willing to bring others down?

3) In the end, Punchinello meets a girl with no stars or dots "...and it's not because people didn't try..." but because she found her worth in the way the Maker saw her.  "...each day I go and see Eli..."  Why is our culture as lost as I am?  Am I spending daily time with the one whom gives me true worth and direction!?

My grandpa used to say: "It's not what you know, it's who you know!"  Though he was often talking about work, politics, etc. this is at the heart, the Gospel!!  The gospel isn't just for those who don't feel special but also for those that think they are special for the wrong reasons.

May we take some extra time today to make sure our kids hear they are special... May we give our kids a clear reason why they are special... May we ourselves hear that we are special because of the Creator... May we make it a point to show someone else how special they are and may we be so bold to give them the reason why as well!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Do you think you're beautiful!?

Several years ago Dove (yes, the soap) started a campaign called "Real Beauty" in which they wanted to point out the problems in our culture in the way we view 'beauty' and communicate that everyone is beautiful in their own way.  Though I'm not trying to sell you Dove products (and no, I do not own stock) or saying their company does everything right, I love this campaign and the videos they have made to address it.  One of their newest is called "Beauty Sketches" and is getting a lot of traffic this week via social media and I wanted to ask if you'd watch it with me (posted below)?

Watch the full 7-minute version here

What about you?  How do you feel about yourself?  Do you think you are Beautiful?

I'm unsure of what you thought of this video but for me it strikes my core (like yes, I cried watching this).  No... I'm not a girl and though that seemed to be the audience for this video, it still got to me.  I'm a man with a calling to love people (students to be even more specific) and there's nothing that tears my heart more than seeing kids beat up emotionally (and physically) by culture, their peers and even themselves.  Thus, telling teens that they are special and loved (often I use "Awesome") is one of my most favorite things to do in the whole world!!

There are lots of reasons we get down on ourselves... What is your reason?
- Bad relationship with your Mom/Dad growing up?
- Did you have a rough middle school experience?
- Has the divorce caused you to think you are unlovable?
- Are you ashamed of some past 'sin' that makes you feel ugly?
- Do you just not feel as "successful" as the family next door?

Let me shift for a second and talk about our kids:
Did you know that 1 out of 3 girls are sexually abused before they reach 18 (1 out of 6 for boys)?  Did you know that it raises to 2 out of 3 girls if you throw in their freshmen year of college?  Let that sink in...

With all of what we talked about in our own lives and then echoed with our own children... No wonder we feel "ugly"!!  No wonder we search for affection and love "in all the wrong places"!!  No wonder really bad things are happening in our culture and schools every day!!

BUT there's Good News... There's Hope!!
In a love letter written by a boy named Solomon he states: "You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no blemish in you."  This is the same way Jesus sees you!!  That was too fast... Go back and read that again!!  In Genesis Moses states that God thinks you're"very good"... In Zephaniah it states that the Lord "delights in you", as well as rejoicing and singing over you!!

I love the saying pictured below...

God is so in love with you AND HE LIKES YOU!!!  If you've grown up in the "Bible Belt" you've probably been told that God loves you more times than you can count but did you know that God likes you!!  He loves hearing from you, spending time with you, watching you, holding you!!  God is crazy about you because you are exactly the way He created you... BEAUTIFUL!!

May you feel His love a little more today... May we pass that love on to others... May Jesus become as precious to you as you are to Him... May our kids know that we not only love them but like them... May the Spirit prompt us in taking opportunities to tell others how beautiful they are... May you rest in the loving arms of the Creator today... May you believe!!

Click on the links below to see more of Dove's Real Beauty Campaign videos:
Camera Shy (showing how as we get older we become ashamed)
Self-Esteem (showing the way we tear ourselves down)
Onslaught (showing the assault from media & culture on our kids)
Will Quit (showing the effects of how we feel has on our activities)
Evolution (showing how far photoshop takes modeling)

**If you are interested in my personal three-hour training of the '10 Things YOU Should Know About Teens & Tweens' please e-mail me for a FREE copy of the manuel and video link!!
**Follow Jeff, also known as "surgeberg" on: FacebookTwitter & Instagram

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cell Phone & Social Media 101

This week I was bombarded with, for lack of a better word, TONS of articles regarding cell-phones and social networks... Though these are two topics we have covered before (10 Apps You Should Be Aware of & Darn Technology Distracting Us from Each other) with the amount of articles posted this week I thought I would do a brief Cellphone & Social Media 101!!  

Cell Phone 101Technology is neutral... It by itself is not bad or good!

-       “The average teenager texts 4,000 texts a month” (Group Publishing)
-    "78% of all teens have a cell phone" (Just over half are smart phones)
-       “31% of teen phone users deflect conversations by faking calls” (Denver Post)
-       As of 2011, AT&T was the only company who would print out text messages upon request.  However, because of the 2006 Consumer Telephone Records Protection Act parents can get a print out of your son/daughter’s phone if court ordered.
-       “Over half of 11 to 14 year olds say they have been in a dating relationship…But dating to tweens isn’t what adults think: relationships are fleeting but all consuming” “Tweens date in packs but expect their boyfriend/girlfriend to be monogamous…firing over 300 texts back and forth each day…breaking up is most commonly done via a text” (Homeword)

-       Sext messages created by minors = child pornography.  Taking nude, sexually explicit, pictures of a minor, even if it is of yourself, is a felony and then sending those pictures to others is a second felony.  All recipients of that sext message can also be found guilty of a felony (even if they didn't want to receive it) because it is possession of child pornography.  Being convicted of possession or distribution of child pornography can get you on a sex offender list which will stay with you for LIFE and affect your ability to live where you want to, getting into college and getting a job. 
-      “39% of all teens have sent a sexually suggestive text” (Parents Guide...Cell Phones)
-       “48% of teens say they have received such messages" (sexually suggestive or nude)

Apps & Internet accessibility (2013, Apple announced 60,000,000,000 apps downloaded)
-       Top ‘Apps’ (Applications):
o   Social Media: Facebook (#1 Free app), Twitter, Instagram, Vine, etc.
o   Streaming: Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, etc.
o   Games: Candy Crush Saga, Flappy Bird, Clash of Clans, Bike Race, etc.
- Angry Birds (most profitable game ever…downloaded over 2 billion times)
o   Very Concerned: Omegle, SnapChat, Whisper, Kik, Tinder, etc. (Click here for more)

5 Tips for Managing Cell Phone Usage with Your Teen:
-       Talk together as a family about when it is or isn't appropriate to use the cell phone (no cell phone after 9pm, no cell phone until your homework is completed, etc.)
-       Make your child responsible of the phone and helping out with the bill (All of it, some of it, just the texting, chores for it, etc.).  Go over the bill with them.
o   Pre-pay or pay as you go, Like Kajeet
-       Take it away if they are failing in school or not following through with rules you set! Let them have it back when they show progress!
o   Agree on a “Phone Contract”, See: Should I SMASH My Kid’s Phone
-       Have a “charging station” or centralized location for all cell-phones (and ipods).  Have mandatory charging times during family times, dinner, bedtime, etc.
-       Be the example of healthy cell phone use.  Show them what you want to see in regards to how, when and where to use your cell phone.  If you have it out at dinner they will!

Parental Controls
-       AT&T, SprintVerizon & T-Mobile
-   "Bless them with blackouts... 
Set limits; you are the parent. There should be times of day, and especially night, when the internet, text messaging and other media is unaccessible. Your kids may complain, but it is a gift to give them downtime and remove the possibility of being connected." (Guard and Guide Your Children Online)
*Lots of cool ideas for Cellphone Safety

Social Media 101What the school & mall was to kids of the 60s-90s is what the Internet is to the millennial!
The Bigs 
-       Facebook (1,110,000,000 “Friends” as of March 2013)
-       Twitter (300 billion Tweets Sent as of October 2013)
-       Instagram (55 million Pictures shared each day)
-       Myspace (Making a comeback after essentially being purchased by Justin Timberlake)
*"88% of teens have seen someone be mean/cruel on a social networking site" (UKnowKids)

Top 3 Websites in the world…
-       Google (Around 13 Billion searches a month… Estimated to be worth over $270 billion)
-       Facebook (Around 45% of internet users visit facebook)
-       YouTube (Purchased by Google for $1.65 billion)
o   More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
o   YouTube reaches more U.S. Adults aged 18-34 than any cable network
o   100 Hours of video are uploaded every minute
o   Top Videos
- #1 most viewed: ‘Gangnam Style’ by PSY (1,915,156,692 views)
 First video uploaded “Me at the zoo”, April 23rd 2005 (13 million views)

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly…

-       Some say all this technology & media stimuli, creates a heightened awareness to culture & better ability to multi-task!!  (Everything Bad is Good for You’ by Johnson)

-       “Tweens that spend waking hours switching between social networks & texting are more likely to develop social problems” (Standford University: Dev. Psychology)
-       Signs of addiction (Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery):

o   Preoccupation with ______________
o   Increased use of ______________
o   Repeated, unsuccessful efforts to control ______________ use
o   Restlessness, moodiness, depression when cutting down on ______________
o   Online longer than originally intended
o   Jeopardized or risked loss of significant relationships
o   Lies to family members or others to conceal use of ______________
o   Use ______________ to escape and relive problems 

Tips for Parents with Social Media…
-       Have an agreement in regards to knowing passwords and what networks they are in
-       Privacy Settings must be used (25% of Facebook users don’t bother)
-       Develop rules for what can and should be posted online (pictures, location, etc.)
-       Computer in a centralized location in the home (this is hard with iphones & laptops)
-       Discuss Online dangers (See: and


“Most young adults are over-exposed to information earlier than ready and under-exposed to real life situations later than they were or should be ready” - Tim Elmore (Artificial Maturity)

3 Things we can do starting RIGHT NOW...
Be the example you want to see!!  
Discuss helpful boundaries!!
Empower them to make positive choices!!

Here's just TEN of the articles sent to me and/or posted this week (if interested):
Secret social media apps teens don't want you to know they are using

**If you are interested in my personal three-hour training of the '10 Things YOU Should Know About Teens & Tweens' please e-mail me for a FREE copy of the manuel and video link!!
**Follow Jeff, also known as "surgeberg" on: FacebookTwitter & Instagram

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Teens and Drugs... What You Should Know

10 things… You Should Know About Teens & Tweens
Drugs & Alcohol
“In 1969, a Gallup poll found that a whopping 84% of Americans believed that marijuana should be illegal. This year, for the first time, according to its latest poll, the majority sentiment on this issue has changed… 51% polled thought that the drug should be legalized, while 46% thought otherwise” (

Great resource:
-       Legal Substances
o   Spice (K2, Fake Weed, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, Moon Rocks… Sunthetic Cannabis)
o   “Skittles” (oxy, Percs, Vikes, Barbs, Reds, Candy, Tranks, Speed… Pharming Party)
o   Robotrippin’ (Robitussin, Cough Medicine… containing DXM)

-       Household Items:
o   Inhalants (Whip-its, Laughing Gas, Snappers, Poppers, Bold… Huffing)
o   Bath Salts (Bloom, Cloud Nine, Vanilla Sky, White Lightning)
o   Duct Tape

-       Did you know…
o   Jell-O shots… Soaked Gummies… Pixie Sticks
o   “21 Ways to Hide Your Booze & Drugs” (Buzzfeed)
§  “Cellphone flask, Purse with wine compartment, Shaving Cream, etc.”

-       *Light Bulb moment… Ultimately teens drink for one of two reasons:
o   They love to party (typically to compensate for something: abuse, legalism, etc.)
o   They want to fit in
§  Can we do anything about either of these two reasons??

7 Things you can do to prevent your Teen from taking Drugs (Adapted from
1)   Be a role model. If you drink, drink responsibly - and don’t ever use illegal drugs.
2)   Be the scapegoat: ‘I can’t do that, my parents would kill me!’ Or be the parent who will pick up your teen w/o immediate repercussions.  Be there when they need an out.
3)   Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents on a first name basis.  This will help you know what your teen is doing and you may make a good friend to boot!
4)   Talk to your teen often about drugs. Use ice-breakers from television shows or the radio in the car. Remember these are conversations, not lectures.
5)   Ask questions when your teen makes plans to go out. Who will he be with, where is he going, what will he be doing, etc. Then check up on him. Call other parents.
6)   Connect with your teen by doing things together as a family. Make this a routine outing and have your teen help plan it. Eat family meals together. 
7)   Drop any baggage you may be carrying. Don't allow the mistakes you made as a teenager or young adult to influence your teen in a negative way.  Let the past go!

**If you are interested in my personal three-hour training of the '10 Things YOU Should Know About Teens & Tweens' please e-mail me for a FREE copy of the manuel and video link!!
**Follow Jeff, also known as "surgeberg" on: FacebookTwitter & Instagram