Taking a minute to focus

As humans, we tend to put our focus on the negative things.  The things that are going wrong.  The things we can complain about.  And, yes, lots of things have gotten worse in the years since I was a kid.  But let’s think a moment about some of the things that have improved.

How about TV?  Before you think I am one brick short of a full load, let me explain.  When I was growing up, we had about…let me think…4 channels to watch on TV.  Maybe 5.    There were no DVDs (or even videos) and no DVRs.  If we watched TV, we watched a show that was on one of the main networks:  ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS.  That was IT.  Now most of us have more options than we know what to do with.  Yes, there are lots of options that aren’t good…but there are also lots of options that are educational and inoffensive.  I know that some of you believe that TV is a big waste of time, and I would tend to agree with you.  But, if people are going to watch TV (and they are!), at least there are some good choices out there.

Let’s take a minute to look at movies.  Yes, movies, as a general rule, continue to push more and more limits and grow more and more offensive.  But try watching a PG movie from the 80s.  I sat down to watch a popular movie from the 80s with my kids.  I was appalled.  I didn’t remember that language!  At least now we have the PG-13 rating.  The PG films of 2010 are much cleaner to watch than the PG films of the 80s.  And what about the Christian film companies?  We have some really talented Christians putting out some great films.   We also have some great channels (Hallmark and Gospel Music Channel to name two) putting out great, family-oriented films with nary an offensive word or deed in them.  Wise creators, directors, and producers who know that beautiful, real stories can be told without all of the offensive language, inappropriate conduct, and abhorrent violence that is Hollywood’s trademark.

Let’s turn our thoughts toward the home.  We know the divorce rate has increased.  More kids are growing up without dads.  But let’s think a moment about how the culture has changed for the better.  I can think of two right off of the top of my head.  First, dads are expected to be more involved in the lives of their kids.  Some of this is the result of so many moms working outside the home.  But I love that dads are now in the hospital room with their wives when babies are born.   I love that dads are helping kids with homework.  And dads are picking up kids from soccer.  Kids need to know that their dads love them.  And I believe this culture encourages dads to be involved more in their kids lives and to express that love in ways beyond simply providing for their family’s material needs.

Second, there was a time when a woman was ridiculed for not going to work outside the home.  A time when it was believed that she was wasting her talents if she was going to choose to stay at home and take care of her family.  But the culture has shifted dramatically since those days.  Doctors, lawyers, and even actresses, are taking breaks from work to spend time raising their precious children.  It is viewed as a wonderful, worthwhile option now.   What a change since the days where it was believed that if you stayed at home, you were lazy and unmotivated (nothing could be further from the truth, of course!)

Let’s turn our thoughts towards education now.  How about the homeschooling movement?  We have the option to keep our children home to educate them.  Not only do we have the option, but if we do decide to homeschool, we have all sorts of wonderful services, dvds, curricula, and classes to assist us.  Homeschool co-ops can be found in almost every part of the country.  Homeschool kids have opportunities to participate in public school sports and concerts.  What a difference from the pioneering homeschoolers of yesteryear.  They were viewed as abnormal (at best) and basically did all of their teaching from scratch, maybe with the help of a cast-off textbook or two.

We have also seen some positive changes in options for our graduating seniors.  Yes, the colleges and universities are teaching many things that go against God’s Word.  Yes, many of the kids attend university to party and have a good time.  But, again, let’s think about some of the alternatives for kids these days.  When I was a kid, you went to college or you worked.  Those were our options.  Now, you can attend a community college, you can go to school on-line…you can even go on an “around the world” missions trip.   We have lots more freedom to choose what we will do after high school and lots less judgment about those choices.

And, finally, I would be remiss, if I did not mention the positive way the internet has affected us.  Yes, it has brought a horrific rise to the pornography industry.  Yes, it has made bullying take on a new light.  But it has also called businesses to a higher standard (who doesn’t check out reviews of hotels, appliances, and books on-line?) and it helps watch-dog companies that would rip people off.   It has put us in touch with our far-flung family members in a way that was unimaginable even a decade ago.  It has allowed us to have contact with missionaries in remote areas.  And, the glory of it all, is that it doesn’t cost that much (have you heard of Skype??)  Gone are the days of letter-writing and expensive, long-distance phone calls.

Of course, I could write at length about cell phones (helping us to keep our kids safe), ipods (making podcasts available to us that help us in our spiritual growth), and DVRs (eradicating the need to watch the inane and endless commercials) but I won’t, because this is long enough.

I guess I just wanted to make the point, that while many aspects of this world are getting worse, there are some things that have improved.  Let’s not spend all of our time focused on the bad things.  Let’s live a life thankful for the good things and yet always doing our part in eliminating the bad.

Matthew 5:16

Titus 2

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