Pregnant for 2 yrs? You gotta be kidding me.


A few years ago I had a kid from one of my old youth groups track me down through social media. “Hey Mark, this is James, can I buy you a cup of coffee?” I remembered James well. His single mom had drug him to youth group and church every week when he was a teenager. He had a tear drop tattoo near his eye, and fashioned himself as a tough kid. He went with me to Mexico on a missions trip once. He played bass in our little band. I remember the day he brought a huge bag of weed down to the church during lunch because the school was doing locker searches next door. I helped him get rid of it. And no, we didn’t smoke it. 🙂 I hadn’t seen or heard from James for a dozen years. “Sure I’ll let you buy me a cup,” I told him. So, the very next morning he drove 5 hours so that he could talk with me. As we sat down, He began to share his story, “I was a punk a** kid in High School. I only came to youth group because I had to. I’ve been in and out of jail for the last 12 years. I have 3 kids from 2 ladies. I was addicted to drugs. But I want you to know that I’m clean now. I’m in AA. I’m playing on the worship team for 2 churches. And I love Jesus. I felt like I needed to track you down and tell you thanks. Thanks for loving on me when I was a punk, and didn’t want to hear it. Thanks for not giving up on me.”

We talked for a while more, and when we were finished, I gave him a big hug and he drove the 5 hrs home. I haven’t seen him since.

One of the blessings of being in Youth Ministry for over 25 yrs is that stuff like this happens to me every now and again. The problem is it doesn’t happen until years after the fact. Its easy as a youth worker to get frustrated because you don’t see the results you were hoping to see. You wanted to change the world, but nothing seems to change except you. You’re tired and disillusioned, and for good reason, it’s a tough job. The average youth worker only stays 3.9 yrs in this carreer field. And it’s too bad, because the chances are you’re doing a fantastic job, but you won’t know it for years. Galatians 6:9 comes to mind, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (NIV)

The gestation period for a rabbit is 31 days, for a cat it’s 63 days. Horses are 330 days, and elephants are an unbelievable 616 days. Can you imagine being pregnant for almost 2 years before finally giving birth?

The gestation period of faith in teenagers is unpredictable and varies from kid to kid. Don’t give up. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean God isn’t doing something in their life.
Their faith may be germinating somewhere there under the surface.
-Mark

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Are you actually addicted to your smart phone?


New data suggests that it might be possible. It looks like your brain gives you a little dopamine push every time your check your phone for a new message.  Turns out we are wired for data. From way back our brain learned to reward us for finding essentials key to our survival, like food and water by giving us a little shot of dopamine. “New research shows that the brain also uses dopamine to reward information seeking.” 1  And once the dopamine reward system is engaged it continues to reinforce that behavior.

According to Wikipedia “Dopamine plays a major role in the brain system that is responsible for reward-driven learning. Every type of reward that has been studied increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain, and a variety of highly addictive drugs, including stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine, act directly on the dopamine system.”

Dopamine can be good as it rewards behaviors necessary for survival, but it also has a dark side when it overwhelms our brain and elevates one type of reward over another, like drugs or alcohol over food. At the risk of sounding like an expert, which I’m not, this may explain why it’s so hard for us to pull ourselves away from our screens. It actually feels good when we get a text message. So like any potentially addicting thing, consume in moderation, watch that it doesn’t negatively impact your key relationships…. and for goodness sake, don’t forget to brush your teeth. Addicts always have the worst teeth.

1 Selhub MD, Eva M.; Logan ND, Alan C. (2012-03-27). Your Brain On Nature: The Science of Nature’s Influence on Your Health, Happiness and Vitality (pp. 40-41). John Wiley and Sons. Kindle Edition.

I'm not addicted. I just can't live without it.

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