Aaron Summers

How Can I Get My Student to Focus?

In Life and Culture, Parenting on October 14, 2015 at 4:18 pm


This is a picture of today’s double date!  Everyone is so glued to their devices that it is hard to get to know people in a real and lasting way.  Sure, we know them by what they post or tweet, but is that who they are?  While it may be who they are, it still lacks communication beyond emoticons and enigmatic posts.

  • Doug was tired of watching his son isolate and basically refuse to communicate with the world around.
  • Serena noticed that it had been weeks since she had a meaningful conversation with her daughter.
  • Matt stood in the store trying to decide what to get for his phone.  He wanted his first smart phone.  Little did Ben, his dad, know what was ahead.

I find it hard to separate myself from the phone.  My wife constantly reminds me to leave it in the other room during supper and family times.  If forget to turn it down I hear that “ding” and wonder what is happening.  How much harder is it for the hormone overloaded!  Self-control, let’s face it, is not the strong suit of the modern teenager.  How can we help them focus?  On what, or whom, are we to help them focus?  Here are 3 focal points.

Grades > Messaging

Before they have “jobs”, school is really their job.  Focusing on grades is critical to moving forward.  However, it is hard to study and focus on homework when the phone is constantly buzzing or beeping.  We must help our students understand the importance of grades.  For me, grades were critical for scholarships.  Without them, I was not going to college.  Grades, for some, are very hard to keep up.  Some people are “A” students.  Some are “B ” students.  Some are neither.  As  parent we must know our child’s limits and help them stretch without breaking them.  If you have a “B” student and you make the hard play for straight “A’s” you might actually have that blow up in your face.  Know your student.  Stretch your student.  Be reasonable.  Grade are more important than the messages they might miss.

Growth > Leveling Up

Trying to raise students to love Jesus and live for Jesus publicly can be treacherous some days.  Putting a device in their hands presents positive and negative opportunities.  They could download The Bible App, but will they read it?  They could download a Memory Verse App, but will they use it.  Undeniably, Candy Crush and Clash of Clans are more inviting.  Do I even need to mention how easy it is to find free porn on the device you’ve purchased for them to help them socialize?  No…I do not.  Before you praise them for, or play with them to, leveling up, let’s consider their need for Jesus and a relationship with God as primary.  I personally use Net Nanny to control the access on their devices.  On the fly I can block or allow apps.  Let’s us consider how they can grow in Christ before growing their clans.

Gathering > Isolating

No matter what you might be told, there is nothing like gathering personally with friends.  Social interaction cannot happen on the devices.  Communication cannot really be made honestly isolated.  I believe we are one generation away from major neck problems!  The next HUGE profession will be neurology and spinal issues.  While I do say that tongue-in-cheek, the picture above is seen everywhere.  People sit and tables together but say nothing.  Families are in the same house but text from room to room.  Families eat together but the glow of the screen beckons us to stay a while longer.  We must encourage our students to engage in “analog” relationships.

Final Thoughts

Both of mine have phone and tablets.  Before you go and rip the device from your students sweaty palms, take a breath.  Leverage your authority and power through the ownership of the device itself.  Help them see the need for grades, growth, and gathering through the limitation of device time.  Reduce access to apps.  Remove the device overnight.  If needed, remove the device from their possession altogether.  Don’t forget, as parents, we are supposed to model and train them to be followers of Christ more than our Candy Crush score.  Be gentle. Be firm.  Love them through these days!

5 Decisions to Finish Strong

In Transition on October 8, 2015 at 7:51 am

Finish Strong

At 45, I am beginning to have thoughts of what it will take to finish strong.  Sitting in the middle of life, I want to be able to approach retirement and grand-parenting with no regrets.  How can I make the most of my choices now so that I can finish strong?  Someone once said, “One thing about getting old is that you can sing in the bathroom while brushing your teeth.”  I want to believe God has more for us to do!  Let’s look at Psalm 71 and see 5 crucial decisions if we are going to finish strong.

5 Decisions

Some say David penned Psalm 71 when he fled from his son Absalom. If this is the correct chronological context of this psalm, then David would have been about 62 years old when he wrote this portion of scripture. And throughout the psalm, it becomes clear that he is writing from the perspective of old age. For example, in verse 9, he says, “in my old age, don’t set me aside.” Then in verse 18, he says, “Now that I am old and gray do not abandon me, O God.”

Decision #1 Make your refuge in God – When life gets hard where do you go?  Where do you find your comfort?  I will admit today that I have 2 things I do when I get super stressed.  I eat and I play football on XBOX.  These two things allow me to just get away from things.  I am not saying either are the healthiest things to do, but that is what happens.  Why don’t we turn to scripture?  Why don’t we turn to prayer?  Often, the reason we are stressed out is because we over-stretch our abilities and time.  We become exhausted.  Escapism is real.  The problem is in what we choose to escape.  Making our refuge in God will set the tone to finish strong!

Decision #2 Make your requests to God – The Psalmist asks God to fill him with praise and with presence.  We look around some days and find it hard to praise.  From Oregon to Ferguson to Florida it is hard to praise God. The number of mass shootings this year alone is staggering.  God is not dead.  God is not unaware.  God has not forgotten us.  We have walked away.  We have neglected.  We have abandoned.  For those who faith remains we must balance the pressure with praise of the Most High.  Ask God to fill you with praise.  Ask God to fill you with His presence.

Decision #3 Find your resolve in God – Choosing to have a mood that reflects God’s presence is important.  The attitude you have is the one who chose to have.  Surrounding circumstances and people can affect your demeanor, but the attitude you reveal is your responsibility.  Find your resolve in God to give you peace and joy in pain and tragedy.  Resolve to live in God’s peace.  Resolve to act on what you know of God and what you have experienced through salvation.  Nothing else can compare to God.

Decision #4 Often reflect on God – Looking back on life with an eye for God’s hand lift your spirit and strengthens you for the finish line sprint.  As I reflect on life I see how God has worked to get me where I am with the abilities I have.  In the midst of those difficulties you can’t see clearly.  The fog of frustration blinds you to the reality.  The life God gave and the labor God gives you today sustains you through each moment.  Reflect on the movements of God more than the moments you felt anger.

Decision #5 Rejoice because of God – The Psalmist ends with rejoicing in God.  He chooses to because he understands the restoration and redemption he found in God.  Choosing to rejoice keeps our spiritual life above the fray.  We still face pain.  We still face pills and doctors.  We still face grief.  However, choosing to rejoice in what you can balances your life.

2 Lessons Learned

  1.  I will retire someday from a position, but I will never retire from my passion in Jesus.
  2.  When I retire I will choose to refire in new ways for God.


What choices are you making today to finish strong?


The 1st Word of Life

In Chrisian Life on August 5, 2015 at 2:32 pm


One Summer we lived just up the hill from the Kentucky River.  Right behind our house was a deep creek that was fed from the river and was great for fishing!  Nearly every day I would grab my pole and go down.  My mom had one of those triangle bells that she would ring when it was time for me to come home.  One particular day I had gotten pretty muddy.  My view of the situation was much like the picture above.  So when I arrived at the house and was not allowed in I was confused.  While I did not think it was all that bad, my mom sure did.


She was not about to let me in the house until I had washed off.  I stood there and she began to wash me off with the hose.  Once I was clean I could enjoy the benefits of the house, lunch, and the couch!

This is often the case with confession.  I recently read a poem from an unknown source that begins with the “6 most important words”:  I admit I made a mistake.  We run through our days, weeks, and years and do not give much credence to our need to be clean.  We, like me, think it is just our hands that are dirty and we wash them like Pontious Pilate disregarding any further need.  However, from God’s perspective we need a complete shower!

When we are not staying clean through confessing our sins to God we are like that kid at camp who doesn’t shower.  It affects more than just one person.  Sin might be fun in the moment but we will lose our grip on joy and our relationship with Jesus will suffer.  Shame and guilt come into play and then we are just a mess.  Confess what you know and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what you have forgotten.  Whatever is getting in the way of your relationship with God needs cleansing.

Now would be a good time…


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