Can you believe the behavior of people who stood in line for hours (some for days) to buy the newest electronic toy or must have gadget? There they are - grown men (and women) with their tents pitched and some literally with their guns loaded. I actually witnessed a line of people camped out at a local store during a huge Nor’eastern storm (with windgusts up to fifty miles per hour) the night before the Sony Playstation III® launch. All I could do was shake my head and wonder why? Then I remembered the culprits who started all of this mayhem: the CABBAGE PATCH KIDS® and TRANSFORMERS®! Somehow this seems different. A Cabbage Patch® doll was a toy your tots could take to bed with them and drag around the house with their messy diapers and Transformers were meant for little boys to use their imagination along with their friends.

But these electronic gadgets are not only for children. Actually, they are mainly for adults. The latest is Play Station III®. This toy transforms players into their own version of James Bond, G.I. Joe®, a world class athlete or whatever or whomever you wish to become. It’s the next level of sought after entertainment because we are now bored with the big screen, LCD, plasma, HD, and LMNOP. The screens need to be thinner, mountable, digital, and have more channels than anyone could possibly view on a regular basis. Of course, if we do miss something it is only because we did not TIVO® or DVR it.

We live as though we don’t have enough outlets to fill our time. We need more and the “more” isolates and privatizes our lives. Adult men allow their marriages to deteriorate into oblivion while they shoot down aliens and kill the latest villain creation of some game inventor’s depraved mind. Dads spend hours with their kids playing realistic basketball, football, baseball, soccer, and even sports we have not invented yet. But many (not all) of those same dads never memorize a verse of scripture with their sons or discuss a world event through a Judeo-Christian grid with their daughters, or invest in building their marriage by intentionally practicing Biblical principles. In other words, hours spent in front of the video screens conquering an imaginary world eat up the time we need to teach our families to THINK BIBLICALLY!!

This is not a tantrum against video games or entertainment. There is a place for some of this (although I do believe we need to rethink the objective of some of these “games” i.e. to kill, maim, and even rape). There is a place for recreation, fun, and diversion. This is my version of a rant against the way in which we fail to order our priorities. The church is in severe trouble when it comes to the next generation. Why? Because the institutions they were told to trust failed them. And, at the top of the list is the institution of fatherhood. We are well on our way toward raising a spiritually apathetic generation who are incapable of understanding the inherent dangers of a dead mind and intellectual inaptitude. But they can sure shoot down aliens.

At the beginning of every year, God gives those of us who may be failing in our priorities another opportunity to retell the story of Christ and renew the values of our homes. Long ago the people of God would celebrate feasts and holy days to worship God. These times were set apart so that Israel would remember how God had brought them out of bondage. However, God’s people obscured the true meaning of these holy days and eventually brought God’s wrath down upon the whole nation. Rather than worship God they idolized the feasts and the holy days in and of themselves.

This all sounds very familiar when you think about our own holidays and the church. Although not instituted by a divine decree the Church celebrates the holidays along with the world. Similar to the ancient feasts, our celebration of Christmas and the New Year can be a time to remember our own exodus from bondage and a renewal of worship. My prayer is that this generation of dads will refuse to mimic those who idolized the feasts and the holy days rather than seeing the “holidays” as a time to remember the faithfulness of God. Interestingly enough, God called the disobedient Israelites “vipers” or “snakes.”

You know, eventually God had enough of His people's disobedience. Babylon came storming through the walls of Jerusalem, destroyed the temple and took Judah into exile. I'm surprised toy companies haven't made that piece of history into a next generation video game yet. Oh well, there's always next Christmas.

Dr. Chuck Betters has been the pastor of Glasgow Reformed Presbyterian Church in Bear, Delaware since 1986. He has a daily radio program, airing since 1994, In His Grip, which can be accessed online at www.markinc.org. Along with the development of numerous audio and video resources designed to help heal broken hearts, he is co-author of Treasures of Faith, Living Bolding in View of God’s Promises, a Bible study of Hebrews 11. Visit www.markinc.org.