POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

2018 Power of Change Annual Report

Greetings friends,

As August came to a close so did our second year of full time service to the Lord through Power of Change. During the month of September we closed our books, collated some data and looked back with a full heart of gratitude to the faithfulness of our Lord.

In this year’s report we invite you to rejoice in the work that has happened through our partnership all over the country, on the podcast airwaves and in and through many lives. We shared the gospel with young people, encouraged pastors and church planters and invested in the training of others for gospel life and mission.

Kasey and I simply send a hearty thank you and we hope that all praise and glory and honor would belong only to our King.

In Jesus,

Reid S. Monaghan

2018 Power of Change Annual Report

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Power of Change Update - March 2018

This month we have an audio update for our friends, family and ministry partners. May the Lord continue to give us grace to impact and influence the coming generation with the gospel. 

Audio Update - March 2018


FCA Breakfast at VHSL 1A/2A State Wrestling Championships

Photos from this event by Grace Studios. 


Brown University Trip

Plugged and Unplugged Life at Home

Our family is technologically oriented. It probably starts most with Dad. My undergraduate degree is in Applied Science in a computer science track. I've been a heavy user and early adopter of technology as it rolled out over the last few decades. It is my hobby, I listen to podcasts on the tech industry and news. I love it. I remember as a college student using computer software for my calendar and printing it out my day. The Palm Pilot and personal digital assistants were a revelation. They were a precursor to the convergence that would take place with phones, MP3 players and pocket computers. These devices  took mainstream flight with the launch of the first iPhone in 2007.

Now smartphones and personal computing devices line our pockets, inhabit our wrists, and ride in our laps for both work and leisure. They are also taking over our lives and the lives of our family. "Screen time" is now a colloquial phrase in parenting and many times kids are handed "devices as baby sitters" at a very young age.

The drawbacks of these technologies are real: disctracted people, texting while driving, walking into telephone poles, looking at screens instead of faces, the rewiring of our brains and smashing of attention spans have all arrived. Yet the benefits to work and play have been enjoyed by millions and personal devices are revolutionizing how we do just about everything. Our devices are here and we need to engage this wisely.

In order to to live both the plugged in and unplugged life our family just took another step together towards our enjoyment of technology while minimizing its ill effects on our relationships, sleep patterns, brains and spiritual lives. The following are a few of the recent tech changes we have made at home along with some house rules we are all working to follow. Each of them includes a technological solution as well as human problem solving to change our flow in our family.

On and Off Times

The internet is always on in many of our homes through the ubiquitous flow of WiFi thoughout the house. But why? There are certain hours where I simply do not want my kids to have wifi signal. Wind down, read something, unplug, pray and talk to each other.

Technology Solution

We use a system of mesh wifi routers from Eero. They are awesome for their ability to spread your wifi through every inch of your home but they also allow you to assign various devices (like every single one used by kids) to profiles and have the Internet completely turned off. So from 10pm-6am none of the kids devices can get on the Internet. So no waking up or staying up late and getting online. Eero also has the ability to assign a custom DNS server so that those who use something like OpenDNS for filtering will be good to go. 

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Human Solution

Yes, we are aware of work arounds technologically, but we do what we can and trust out kids not to LTE it on their phones. Plus, the phone does not live in the bedroom. We can also turn the profile back on if homework projects are going awesome but it's going to take until 10:30pm to complete the job. Dad says yes to these type of requests.

Charging Station

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There are so many times when I'm on my phone around the house and ignore people who matter to me deeply. There are also times we want set aside as no device times with our family. We also can lose devices here and there and have to ping them to trace them down. So recently we have created a new solution that solves many problems at once.

  • It provides full batteries for our devices
  • It provides a place to put our devices at dinner time and at bedtime (well, before bed time)
  • It allows devices to NOT live in our bedrooms, at the bedside table
  • It allows reading of real books at night and a time where we turn off all screens prior to going to bed
  • It removes the temptation to grab phones in the middle of the night
  • It removes the temptation to make the mass of email, texts and social media notifications first thing in the morning
  • It allows the first movement of the day to be before God and not instantly connected by our alarm clock/smartphones

Enter our new charging station. We created a solution and a set of house rules for its use that is already blessing our family.

Technology Solution

Here is our basic set up with links to the actual products we are using

Power Strip

You have one laying around already, grab it and plug in. Get a surge protected one with some USB ports as well if you don't have something laying around the house already.

Anker USB Chargers

There are actually full multi-device chargers out of the east that do almost all that is involved here. Some of the reviews for them involved shoddy workmanship and even sparking (aka fire hazard). If you are not family with Anker, thank me later. They make some of the best charging accessories out there and are very well made. I thought of using a 10 port Anker but then all the USB plug-in points would be on one side of the charging station. Getting two 5 Port was a bit more pricey but allows the charges to face opposite sides of the station and to use smaller cables to limit clutter. The Ankers are safe, provide great amperage to the devices and even have two fast charge ports each. Put some colored markers on those fast charging cables and make them parent phones only. Lol. Just kidding.

12 Inch Lightening Cables

Though we use PCs for our computers, we are all Apple for mobile devices. So I found 5 packs of 12 inch lightening cables and bought two of them. This gives 10 short cables that go directly from the USB port to a slot in the station without tangles or clutter. If you own Android or other devices grab some micro USB cables and you'll be all set.  

Holder thingy

There are lots of these made of many materials on Amazon. I chose a black one that had 10 slots. We don't have ten devices yet but there are five of us and we have some phones and iPads already.

End Table 

Commandeering an end table from the house, gave space underneath for the kids to charge their Chromebooks. I don't personally appreciate the Chromebook but our school system gives them to all our kids and they do use them, especially our middle and high schoolers, extensively for school work. They plug into the power strip and live underneath. Out of the room at night so in the evenings there are no devices, no TVs in bedrooms.

Human Solution

  • Well, phones go on it at night one hour before bed time and they go with them to school in the morning.  We keep them plugged in for family connection in the morning for breakfast and prayer before the kids head off to school.
  • We still have general bed times for our kids. Sometimes it's more like "bed goals" or "bed hopes" for the teenagers. ;-)
  • I was pleasantly surprised that the roll out did not incur the whining and wrath of our teens, though some apologetics was necessary.
  • Casualties - Audiobooks at night were a casualty as well as using the phone as alarm clock These changes are VERY difficult for me. My eldest and me will have to adjust the most to these changes. I think we will also benefit the most. And yes, they still sell cheap, old school alarm clocks if you need one.

Look at my Face

One final thing we've added to our family flow is a simple pause and relational examination. If you are looking at a screen when you should be looking at a face, we need to put down the screen. Look at my face! We need to give this sort of attention to one another in our families more and more in our hyper-connected age. And your battery will be full as well! Enjoy your devices, but don't neglect the precious people that are right in front of you each day. 

Hope. The final frontier

I'll never forget the season of life from early 1998 until September 27th 2001. My wife and I had married quite young and had hoped to start a family.

Our first pregnancy came with the expected joy, rapid family announcements and the fresh hopes of new parenthood. These hopes came quickly crashing down when we lost the first child to miscarriage. Over the course of the next several years we lost four more successively. It became an act of courage for my wife to hope to get pregnant and then hope the child would make it to term. It felt like a bad movie where the same script kept playing over and over.

In that season we thought about many things. My wife and I both wrestled with God’s relation to pain and suffering. Her questions were related to God's care for her and mine were more intellectual, considering if God was real. We also wrestled with the concept of Christian hope and the Lord really met with us in and through this time. God gave us quite a different perspective than we had in our youthful idealism.

The real struggle was with the continual disappointment with our circumstances. We were able to conceive quite readily only to have our hopes come crashing down. As a husband, it really hit me when my wife said, "I've been pregnant or dealing with the aftermath of miscarriage constantly, nonstop for three years and we have no children." Hearing that was heartbreaking. My bride had gone through every miscarriage physically, emotionally and spiritually and she began to really wonder if she wanted to try again. You see, there is a hope that disappoints. Trying again meant facing the unknown once again with a past that grew with disappointment.

One of the passages of scripture that really ministered to us came in the form of rhetorical question from the apostle Paul in Romans chapter 8.

24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. - Romans 8:24-25

Who hopes for what he sees? Who hopes for what they already have? Nobody. Hope is a future facing reality whereby we long for something we do not yet have. As such, hope in this life can be a very disappointing thing.

  • We had hoped for children. Have our family, nice, quick and easy. Disappointment.
  • We hope that things will go better at our jobs but sometimes they don't. Disappointment.
  • We hope to accomplish something in a sport and we get injured. Disappointment.  
  • We hope that our relationships will be full of joy and glory. Sometimes they are just made of the stuff of the earth. Disappointment.
  • Many times we think it is a promise from God to make us healthy, wealthy and wise. Not the case. Disappointment.

It takes courage to have hope in our world. Our expectations vary, are adjusted by reality and sometimes come crashing down. The whole book of Ecclesiastes is about deconstructing and unwinding our earthly hopes. This wonderful book wrecks us for putting our hope in the wrong things. You think wisdom and learning will make life perfect? Wrong. Wealth and achievement? Wrong again. Having pleasure? Nope. Placing our ultimate joy and future on the shaky foundations of this world is a fools errand here under the sun. Vanity, emptiness, a mere chasing after the wind.

Yet the gospel offers such a different foundation for hope in this life. As a human being we hope for something different in our current story. We grow numb and disappointed. But as a Christian, we have hope in God’s promise that all things will turn out to be far more than OK. This sort of hope is such a scarce commodity among the human race.

Hope is described in the New Testament as a hope that does not disappoint (Romans 5:5). Gospel hope is transcendent because it is based on the promise of eternal life with God. This promise issues forth from one who never lies. (Titus 1:2,3)

Our hope is always future facing so with every earthbound disappointment we renew hope in the promises we have in Christ. His Spirit is in us as a deposit guaranteeing our possession of a glorious future (Ephesians 1:11-14). He has an inheritance for us that will never spoil, fade or perish, kept in heaven for us (1 Peter 1:3-9). The Spirit has poured his love into our hearts so that we have a renewed hope and renewed vision even amidst the darkest of days. This is why our hope in God's promises in Christ are called "a firm anchor of the soul" by the writer of the book of Hebrews.

Hope indeed is the final frontier for human beings. This life filled with sin and death can batter the small hopes of the masses into despair. Yet for those who trust in the promises of Christ, who believe in the resurrection of the dead, who believe in the life to come and his glorious Kingdom have a different story. They will live from hope to hope through every trial and difficulty. Today’s disappointments will one day fully and finally fade into the eternal promises of our God.

This Easter you may perhaps say to one another "He is risen!" And when you reply, "He is risen indeed," remember that you have a hope that will not disappoint and not simply a religious slogan to echo. Your future resurrection with Christ guarantees that you will stand some day in glory with hope fulfilled by sight. Even when you face the final blows of death your hope will transcend that moment where many think all is lost.

If we have placed our hope only in this life we are to be more pitied than all men. (1 Corinthians 15:19). Yet Christ is risen from the dead and he leads us into and over the final frontiers of hope into the Kingdom of Heaven. Bank on it. 

The Epidemic

A Poem by Kayla Monaghan

He laughs at a short ten seconds

They at the bug eyed bats from a far away land

I stare around at the distracted faces

All of them forgetting...

Forgetting how it feels to hear

How to speak with beauty

How to stand up and lead with civility

Language looks at us sadly and says:

“Humanity loves screens more than me.

Why should I remain, only mocked to be?”

 

Stay! I want to cry

But my tongue has gone mute

And there is only a small sigh

Because why would Eloquence and Grace

Want to come and play

When nobody can say more than “hey”

How sad we have become

Cute cats and big stars suck our time

Through a smoothie straw

Giving us the brain freeze

 

Letters, watches, and eyes

Have been tantalized

Lured in, a moth to a flame

A buzz, a ring, a distant call

Have become far too near

Patience has been kicked to the curb

“We don’t need you anymore”

A tear falls from my eye

As the world becomes individualized

The idea of family stamped in the mud, left years behind

 

I will dig, fingers scraping

Hands frozen as my heart grows warm

I must find that beautiful feeling

Of unity and gentleness

That is only found when we open our mouths

Our eyes must connect

Not just through a text

For a person’s voice can be as tight as a hug

Sweetness seeping in between each syllable

See what beauty comes from a flower like love?

 

The fever is growing worse

Youngsters’ hands are glued to touchscreens

Eyes locked tight and if they can’t have,they scream

Teens have their hearts shattered

In less time than it takes to breathe

Not all evil intents has Technology

Yet still we grow sicker and sicker

Imagination leaking out faster than

The water in a faucet of an old sink

Ears loose the ability to hear hidden messages

Found in those around them

 

What can we do?

It races by at the speed of light

Is wifi crucial to survive?

Identify the temptation

So we can find a vaccination

A dose of smiles and human contact might do the trick

Look around and notice the blue sky

A sight we take for granted because it resides in our minds

But its arms can help those in a fix

And we must be careful not to feed this epidemic

Giving Tuesday

In response to the focused commercialization of the holiday season, a recent cultural phenomenon has also emerged known as "Giving Tuesday." After we have tracked down the deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the following Tuesday is designated a day for generosity. 

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This year, even on Giving Tuesday, would you consider a year end gift to help Power of Change. Our family and ministry is focused on impacting and influencing the coming generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We have a special year and match going on to close 2016 and really bee your support. If you'd like to contribute please see this link. 

2016 Year End Match

Many Thanks

 

Working the System - Scheduling and Work flow as an Entrepreneur

Over the years I have mainly been involved with start ups. We helped start Athletes in Action ministries at the University of Kentucky and Virginia Tech. We started a college and young adult crew at a growing church, we helped plant churches in New Jersey for almost eight years and today we are in the process of starting a new non-profit ministry.

Working in such settings requires a certain kind of motivation, self-discipline and personal organization. It is easy to be lazy and unorganized or its also easy to work all the time. It requires one to prioritize and schedule one's own work life in a way that is both effective and healthy. In such settings if you don't get things done, nothing gets done. In this brief post I want to share a few things about the way I have developed a system to get things done. Still not sure if I've been highly successful or not, but here is the way I do things. 

Begin with a block schedule 

Block out time each week for the regular tasks, meetings and priorities related to your most central roles. I include things like exercise, devotional time with the Lord as well as things central to your vocation/work. What things are in the must do category each day, each week, each month, each quarter, each year.  Block out and reserve the time. I also think it's wise to include specific blocks for correspondence and any necessary administration. For example, don't do your email all day, block out times when you will (and will not) answer emails. Also remember to block in some margin to do some fun things like watching Premier league soccer games early Saturday mornings. :-) Keep in mind that proverb about "all work and no play" and more importantly God's command for us to rest. Block it all in and this will give you bones for the skeleton of your life and schedule. 

Find a system of triage that works for you

Triage allows an ER doctor to evaluate a patient and make decisions as to how to prioritize her care and attention. If a guy comes in spurting blood at the neck, a good triage system will put that person ahead of the guy with the sniffles. Triage also needs to be applied to the relationships, tasks and opportunities that you wish to make or come your way. In doing effective triage, I do think some sort of quadrant system of important, unimportant, urgent and non-urgent and is helpful. If something is urgent and important, do it now. If important and non-urgent, schedule it. If not important and urgent, run! Just kidding. Lovingly help that bit of urgent on to someone for whom it can be important. Finally, if not important and non-urgent simply say "no" because ignoring it to death may come across rude and uncaring. Saying no quickly helps us all know what to do next. A system of triage helps you sort through tasks, needs, etc. It also gives you a way of thinking and acting to determine if you are the right person to do something.

Place tasks or to dos into your life and schedule

I personally like to put anything I'm going to do in my actual calendar and forgo complex to-do listing. For me, if I cannot determine when something will be done, I'm not sure it's mine to do. Now I will use a whiteboard or a notepad to map out some short-term tasks but these are usually tasks related to things that I have put in my calendar.  Modern calendaring software allows us to schedule both events and the corresponding work for them along with timed reminders. If you love to-do lists by all means go for it. Just make sure things land in your actual life and you triage that list well.

I underestimate my productivity when I calendar things

This may sound strange but this is an important way of doing things for me. What this means is that if something ends up taking me 40 minutes and I have allocated an hour to the task, then I will have time for reflection, minor diversions and a bit of a release from focus. It allows each day to not feel as frenetic in pace. So if I need to do something and I know I can get it done in 50 minutes or so I block off an hour. If I'm not certain how long something will take I block off an hour. I always make time allocations generously but not wastefully. It would be equally unwise to block out an hour for a 10 min task or phone call. Giving myself ample time for my work also makes me feel super victorious on the days where I have high-energy and efficiency and get a whole lot done. 

When calendaring anything count the full cost

Whenever you go about accomplishing anything you have to account for the full amount of necessary time for the task. This means blocking out actual preparation time along with any commitment to a project, person, speaking engagement or group meeting. Scheduling in the time for preparation, prayer and focus helps to see what the actual cost of something is to my life. How much energy, prep and focus do I need to do XYZ and to do it right? This also helps with decision-making as to whether something should be on my plate or not or I should say yes to any invitation or not.

And this may be a little ridiculous...but I also record all my actual time

When I deviate from my schedule and do other things during the day I put in my calendar what I actually did that day.  This helps me reallocate time for things not yet completed as well as to hold myself accountable for what I'm actually doing each day. Furthermore, this practice also allows others (staff, church elders, boards, wives and family) to know what you do with your time. Remember, we are accountable to God and others for how we make use of our days. Additionally, having mysterious "time sinks" in our lives will hinder our effectiveness. Did I also mention that we are to have time in our life for devotion, thinking and exercise and fun? We don't have to be all work and no play to account for our work and play. :-) 

These are just a few principles I use to manage myself day to day in settings where the structure and workflow must come from my own initiative. I'll close with a listing of a few tools I use in my own flow of things.

Tools I use most frequently

Covey's classic work has helped me to try to work within my roles and relationships. Allen's work has helped me triage emails and tasks effectively in order to GTD. Both works I still find helpful for focusing my life and energy. 

I use my google calendar and multiple color coded calendars like a crazy person. My calendar, my kids Futbol travel calendars, practice schedules, even the games of my favorite sports teams all make it in to my week view with special colors. Any modern calendaring system can use shared and online calendars. So whether it's Google Calendar, Outlook, iCal or something else, you can implement this. For mobile, I particular enjoy Readle's Calendars 5 for iOS and an app called Fantastical.

I do use notepads, whiteboards and Evernote to dump and dictate thoughts. I find I think well out loud, so talking and capturing those things with speech to text I find effective although it leads to some typos LOL. Finally, for team work and leadership, collaborative task and communications, applications like Trello and Slack have been helpful of late.  

However you skin the cat of your daily workflow and productivity, I do pray that you find focus to love and serve well with the time you have been given. I hope some of the above may help you along the way as well. 

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Ephesians 5:15, 16

Man Matters

A little over a year ago, I began to process with some friends and mentors the possibility of transitioning out from the church we had planted in New Jersey. Those conversations were littered with questions like, "When is the right time to step away from leadership in a church? "Have I done what I sensed the Lord calling me to do in New Jersey?" "Are things in a position where I can leave things in the capable hands of others?" 

I also asked several brothers what they saw in me in terms of my work and ministry. What are the things they saw as my strengths? What are the things they thought that I must continue to engage in order to be faithful to my calling from God? 

One of these gentleman, my father-in-law, challenged me to continue the work I do with men in and through the local church. He conveyed to me that he felt like I was gifted to communicate to and inspire men towards the Lord and faithfulness in their lives. I simply agreed as I am persuaded that men, particularly young men, need to be engaged with the gospel. Men need to be lovingly encouraged and exhorted to be servant leaders in their homes, in the church and in the city. 

In our day we see plenty of concern for the good work of equality, elevating women and opportunity for all. Yet what is happening among this generation of young men is sobering. I won't go into full detail in this particular blog post, but young men are falling behind and almost every category and attainment. There are fewer male students in college across all groups, fewer men obtaining graduate degrees and many young men lack ambition, confidence and leadership skills to navigate their world. 

Psychologist Guy Zimbardo has infamously argued that there is a demise of guys today where boys are struggling socially and flaming out in school (If you have not seen his TED talk, hit it up, its less than 5 min). Additionally, Samuel D. James recent article America's Lost Boys, highlights the lack of ambition in many men to even work. Rather than pursuing something with their time and gifts, they are filling their time with virtual pursuits of entertainment and sensuality and they are quite happy about it. Literally living the dream off of parents or girlfriend while happily doing a whole lot of nothing. Furthermore, I meet men all the time who feel isolated, discouraged and disconnected from their own hearts and pursuit of God. Guys in our day need to be engaged, inspired and encouraged to be more than passive consumers of amusement and called to impact their world with their gifts, strengths and unique calling as men.

As we invest our lives with Power of Change we hope to impact and influence coming post-Christian generations. This means young men, fathers and those who lead them will be a central part of our focus. Or as I like to say, we desire to serve the three Ps: pastors, parents and church planters

This fall I am doing two men's retreats where my prayer is to call men to servant leadership while encouraging them and exhorting them forward as followers of Christ. Men are in a fight but it is a good fight. God would call us to fight with and for our brothers so that we might stand firm to the end in faithfulness to Jesus and his mission. Man to man we need to be walking together. We need to see older men pointing younger men to the pathways of hard work and faithfulness over time. We need to see younger men inspiring elders with a focus in their passions and zeal. Yet connecting the generations is in no way an easy pursuit. Let me share a quick example.

Photo by Stefano Tinti/iStock / Getty Images

A few weeks back a friend grabbed me after a Sunday worship gathering to talk about his desire to mentor young guys. He also shared some difficulty he has encountered in the past. The young guys are struggling but usually won't ask for someone to mentor them. The older guys feel like nobody really wants to hear from them but they would love to connect with the younger brothers. It's almost a catch-22 of middle school dance proportions. The younger and the older men seem to be standing on the walls on each side of the room knowing they both need to learn to dance. Men must learn to step across the room and tell another guy that you need his wisdom and input. This is particularly important for men who grew up without or are separated from the wisdom of their Dad.

My own hope is to continue to be an influential friend in the journey for other men. To point them to "the man", Jesus of Nazareth, and the joy of following him in their homes, their church and in their city. It is not an easy path today for guys but with other brothers we might find our way forward by faith. I am convinced that the power of change lies within the power of a God who wants to transform men so that they may reflect his goodness and glory. Furthermore, there are some wonderful byproducts of this pursuit. Namely, women will be served and loved and children might flourish under the care of good men. 

The world certainly sees the outcomes of disconnected or abusive masculinity. We have reaped a whirlwind of unguided and unfocused men. The facts of the fatherless are clear and there remain far too many victims of domestic violence. Yet the apostle Paul teaches us something different, "behold I will show you a more excellent way." (1 Corinthians 12:31) We must put before one another the way of love, the way of Jesus and a way in which men use their strength in humility to the glory of God.

That's our story here in our home team family and with Power of Change. We pray that by his power we might be strengthened, protected and kept faithful in and through our work with men. Men matter to God and we want to see them thrive as servant leaders under the headship of Jesus in our day.  We hope many others will work and pray to these same ends.