Cell Phones in Church?


Technology.  Most of us love to rail against it while simultaneously checking Facebook like a chain smoker.  Today we’re going to feature a question from a reader and my response which I know will cause people to both love and hate me.  Don’t worry.  I can take it.  Here’s to our love/hate relationship with those blasted cell phones.  Lord, give me strength.

Dear Lisa,

I have witnessed numerous teenagers bringing their cell phones to church and being too busy texting to hear their Sunday school lesson or better yet the preacher’s sermon. Is this disrespectful to God or is it just me being from an older generation where this was unheard of?  I don’t know if this is anything you’d like to write about, but I wouldn’t mind reading your thoughts regarding this problem. I would also like to remain anonymous.

Thank you!


Concerned Citizen Tired of Young People Being Ridiculous

(Okay.  The letter is real.  But yes, I made up the name.  You already figured that out, right?)

Dear Concerned,

I often long for bygone days when cell phones were only owned by brain surgeons and bail bondsmen.   But alas, now the average 14-year-old is evidently in such incredible demand that he or she needs to be on call 24 hours a day.  Personally, I don’t know one 14-year-old who could bail you out of jail or remove a tumor from your cerebral cortex.  So it makes no sense to me.

But despite our disdain, cell phones are here to stay.  Well, unless something even cooler than a cell phone comes out.  Don’t be surprised if manufacturers figure a way to install a chip in your child’s brain which will give them the power to instantly “message” friends day or night with important information about American Idol and the cutest boy at school.  Yes, I know.  They could also message back and forth about the history assignment.  But they won’t.  Go figure.

However, you may be a bit surprised by my answer regarding cell phone use at church.  My husband is a techie.  He hasn’t read a Bible with paper pages in years and years.  He reads the Bible on his iPad and his iPhone.   When we read the Bible together in the mornings, again, it’s always on an electronic device. I can assure you he stays on the text during church or sometimes scrolls down for reference materials related to the text.  If the pastor is speaking about the temple, I’ll look over and see that Phil has pulled up an illustration of the temple on his iPad.  It’s a great reference tool.  So, just be aware that some church-going techies might actually be on the Bible lesson being discussed.  In fact, this is becoming more and more prevalent.

Now, to those who are actually messaging or receiving messages during church (or ANY place where someone is speaking up front) allow me to be crystal clear.  No.  Just no.

Church is a joyful sacred time to hear the word of God and encourage others with the gospel of Christ.  So, dear precious readers young or old, unless you’re on call with a job or  you need to remove a tumor from someone’s head, please stop messaging during church.  Stop checking FB to see if your old high school friends are thinner than you.  Stop looking at cute cat videos on Instagram.  Stop reading emails from your stock broker.  It’s rude and frankly, ridiculous.  I hope that was clear.  If not, feel free to message me (just not on Sunday morning).


Teenagers Need You!

Arkansas 4H

I don’t wear skinny jeans.  If I did wear skinny jeans, the jeans could no longer be called skinny.  I wear orthopedic shoes too.  You know the kind of shoes your grandma wore?  Yes.  I love those shoes.  I embrace those shoes.  Those shoes keep my 55-year-old feet happy.  And when a woman’s feet are happy, the sun shines brightly all over the world.

The truth?  I wasn’t cool even when I was sixteen.  I was awkward.  Painfully awkward.  Of course, now I’m thankful for that teenage awkwardness because I learned so many things that help me as a speaker and a writer.  But at the time, I remember thinking I couldn’t wait to be free from the whole teenage scene.   I would happily be a grown-up and never look back.

So you can imagine my shock a few years ago when people started to ask me to speak at events targeted at teenagers.  My first thought was, “Are you kidding?  Absolutely not.  I am NOT the right speaker for teenagers.  I don’t wear cool clothes.  I never went to prom.  I hate current pop music.   I refuse to use teenage lingo.  Oh, and I wear orthopedic shoes, remember?”  But by God’s grace, I didn’t say those things aloud.  I simply said, “Yes.”

I still remember that first event years ago.   I stood in front of 500 teenagers in Nashville and said, “I get it.  I’m not cool.  Let’s be honest.  I’m not even as cool as your mom.  I’m probably not as cool as your grandma.  I drove a ’73 Gremlin in high school.  Most of my high school classmates don’t remember my name because I was invisible back then.  Truthfully, being in front of you today kind of terrifies me.  But I’m here to tell you something important because I care about you.   The life inside these walls?  This teenage world?  Well, it’s not the real world.  Not at all.”  I pointed to the auditorium door and the crowd fell silent.  “The world out that door doesn’t care if you are ‘somebody’ in this high school.  Not one person outside that door cares if you were on every page of the yearbook or if you didn’t even show up for pictures.  They don’t.  That’s just the truth.”

I talked about the things that matter in life.   The things that never stop mattering.  Kindness.  Selflessness.  Elbow grease.  Humility.  Respect in guy/girl relationships.  I reminded those teenagers that their intelligence is a gift but it would never insure their success.  Not at all.  I’d rather hire a kid with average or below average intelligence who will work cheerfully than a smart kid who complains.  Whining makes young people (or adults) seem immature and ridiculous.  Yes, I told funny stories.  I tried to season my words with humor and humility.  But mostly?  Well, mostly, I just told them the truth.

We live in a world filled with adults trying to be “cool enough” to relate to teenagers.  But that’s completely backwards.  Teenagers don’t need lessons on how to be teenagers.  They need lessons on how to be grown-up.  They’re crying out for someone to love them enough to tell them the truth.  Trust me.  They won’t even notice your shoes.

Big Deal Proposals

Pride and prejudice


There’s a trend in America right now.  Make everything a big deal.  A really big deal.  Let’s take marriage proposals.  There was a day when a marriage proposal was pretty simple.  A young man didn’t even consider spending money on the proposal.  He didn’t spend months planning it either.  He looked at the young woman lovingly.  He may have even gotten down on one knee or held her hand.  But the words were simple.  “Will you marry me?”  She said, “Yes.”  They got married a few months later.  Was it a big deal?  Absolutely.  It was a big deal because they were actually getting married. To each other.  The proposal didn’t have to be rocket science.


But now everyone wants to do something worthy of a viral YouTube video.  They jump out of planes.   They propose in scuba gear under the blue waters of the Caribbean.  Some have the proposal written on a Jumbo Tron at a Cardinals’ game or flying across the sky behind an airplane.   Some men even hire a stringed quartet and rent out a whole restaurant.  And that’s fine.  Really.  If you want to rent a hot air balloon and jump out of it with the words “Will you marry me?” written on the parachute, knock yourself out.  Literally.


But one creative marriage proposal in California disturbed me greatly.  A man recruited 300 friends and associates to ride motorcycles in such a way as to shut down Interstate 10 with a massive traffic jam.  He then proposed to his girlfriend right there in the middle of the interstate with friends and family watching from a nearby overpass.  He later commented that the commotion and terrible traffic jam was worth it.  Worth it?  Was it worth it to the people trying to get to work or another obligation that afternoon?  That, my friends, is the height of selfishness and narcissism.  A word to the wise.  Don’t marry someone who would shut down traffic on a busy interstate highway because he thinks the world revolves around your undying love for each other.  It doesn’t.


The good news?  If you’re a young man who wants to secure the undying affection of a good woman, you don’t have to stop traffic or don scuba gear.  You don’t have to hire a private pilot or a stringed quartet.   You don’t even have to think of a proposal that will go viral and land you a spot on the evening news.


I suggest you do something far more meaningful.   Be kind even when you don’t feel like it.  Be considerate of her needs.  Man up and work hard at your chosen profession.  Ask forgiveness when you hurt her.  Ask her to join you in the great adventure of a life built together…with all the sacrifices, difficulties, and rewards.  Be meticulously faithful.  Tell her you’ll love and protect her until death.  Then do it.  Day after day after day.


If you do that, you’ll probably never be on the evening news.  Your marriage may never make the papers.  But you’ll be a stand out, friend.  A stand out in a selfish world that desperately cries out for real love.   And trust me.  That’s a big deal.