Jon Payne – Wise Technological Parenting

It is the apex of foolishness for parents to allow their children to have free and unaccountable access to technology– smart phones, tablets, iPods, computers, etc. Before I explain the reasons why I believe this, I want to make clear, in no uncertain terms, that I’m not a Luddite. I’m not against the advancement and use of modern technological devices. Indeed, I have no desire to go back to the sixteenth-century! Quite the contrary, I’m profoundly grateful for the seemingly endless and valuable functions of iPhones, iPads, and computers. It’s wonderful to be able to stay in touch with family and friends around the world through FaceTime and Skype, as well as through social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram. Even so, there is a dark and insidious side to our brave new world of information and connectivity; and, we would be exceedingly foolish to ignore it. Here are a few reasons why our children should not have free and unrestricted access to technological devices:

Internet Pornography. Internet porn is a pandemic of massive proportions. The statistics related to this wicked industry are staggering (see http://www.covenanteyes.com). The porn industry generates thirteen billion dollars of revenue each year in the United States alone. One in eight online searches is for pornography, and the same goes for one in five searches on mobile devices. Twenty-four percent of smart phone users admit to having pornographic material on their device. Fifty-six percent of divorce cases involve one spouse with a porn addiction.

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Jaquelle Crowe – How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years

A Life Transformed

The gospel changes everything. To live a life transformed by the gospel means that everything in life changes.

The first thing is our identity; who we are as people. We’re no longer teenagers defined by the world’s standards. We’re no longer defined by sin, by what we once wanted to do, but we are defined by the gospel, by God—our identity as children of God in Christ. That means the entire narrative of our lives is changed, so we are part now of the greatest, biggest story ever told. We’re actually a part of the story of the gospel, and of God’s people. We get to live in this story, which means everything in our lives and our circumstances changes.

It also changes our community, who we spend time with. It changes our love for God’s people, and makes us want to be a part of a local community of God’s people. It changes how we act, what we find funny, what we post on social media, what we read. Prior to the gospel, we thought a certain way, we acted a certain way, we had this ideology that directed us, and the gospel just flips it on its head and revolutionizes everything.

It means that our entire lives are now about the gospel and about Jesus — not about us, not about what we want to do, but about Jesus and what would honor and glorify him. How can I act today and tomorrow, and how can I plan my future, with the gospel in mind? How can I go to school, how can I read, how can I watch TV in a way that brings honor to Jesus, instead of me?

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Michael Boling – Parenting 101: Dealing with Lying Lips

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices. (Col. 3:9)

YHWH detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. (Prov. 12:22)

In the interest of transparency, I want to begin by stating as a child, I had a tendency to lie. Usually it was a string of lies sometimes carefully and at other times haphazardly thrown together in an effort to avoid trouble. Typically, the repercussions of those lies being found out was far worse than if I had simply told the truth at the outset. One thing was certain – the truth, regardless of how well my plan of deceit had been through out, was found out.

The temptation to lie, especially to share the incorrectly described “little white lie” is one I submit we all face. While we may have matured from our childhood days of lying about who broke the lamp in the living room, the urge to stretch truth resulting in falsehood remains a challenge for us all.

As a parent, the battle against lying lips has from time to time taken place in our home. We have a teenage daughter. With that time of life comes the temptation to lie, to go behind the back of those in authority, the desire to do what one wants, and the impulse to lie in order to cover up the tracks of the deception.

A recent occurrence of this deception resulted in a prime teaching moment for our daughter. I will not go into the details of what took place; however, let’s just say it involved the use of technology, the agreement that certain elements of technology would not be installed, the installation of said technology despite the established rules, and finally, the discovery of the deception and unraveling of the web of lies.

I remember what it was like as a child. The rules set down by parents seem like such a killjoy. What is the big deal with doing what they told me not to do, especially if it is just for a quick second? Nobody will be harmed by my actions in this one instance, right? Unfortunately, this line of thinking does not recognize the fact established in Scripture, namely that YHWH detests lying lips (Prov. 12:22) and lying is a work of the flesh, something we should be casting off and mortifying (Col. 3:9).

At its core, lying and deception is the oldest trick in the enemy’s playbook. Deception was part and parcel of what took place in the Garden of Eden. Did YHWH really say? Can’t I just divert off the path of righteousness just a couple of steps? It won’t harm anyone will it?

One could suggest the wrongdoing by our daughter in the grand scheme of harmful activities arguably does not rise to the level of being that monstrous. I would respond to such a suggestion that since YHWH detest lying lips, falsehood exists near or right at the top of that which we should also detest. While all sin should be abhorred, lying lips are repeatedly noted as an abomination to YHWH. Lying is like a giant snowball. It begins with a seemingly innocuous fib but ultimately keeps rolling into a giant landslide of destruction. In the case of our daughter, her actions of falsehood were akin to tossing a log onto an already burning fire.

We shared with our daughter how great a fire a lie can set ablaze. The second and third order consequences of lying are what is often forgotten when deception is embarked upon. Lying breaks the sacred bond of trust, something that takes a great deal of time to rebuild once destroyed. What we often think is no big deal and harmless is in reality rebellion against authority, in this case parental authority, and ultimately, it is rebellion against YHWH.

For parents out there who are also dealing with this issue in their home, be sure you set the example to your children by embracing a policy of honesty. Even those supposed “little white lies” should not be tolerated. Instruct your children in the importance of truth and the harm that occurs by deception. As the people of YHWH, we are to always tell the truth. YHWH detest lying lips and we should as well. Helping our children understand the importance of truth at the earliest age possible and addressing the urge and practice of lying with the power of Scripture is vital.

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Krizzamer Bagasbas – Obeying Out of Love

eyerolling

I was a teenager once, just like you…

I’ve been in those situations where you want to disobey your parents for some shallow and immature reasons; however, if I had the chance to bring back the time, I would have followed them all the days of my life, wholeheartedly.

Unlike other teenagers, I was already away from my parents at the age of 12. When I passed the entrance exam in one of the most prestigious schools in our region, my parents decided to send me to that school, even though it meant being away from them at a very young age.

It was hard. It’s hard when you’re forced to be independent. I learned how to do things on my own. I didn’t have my parents around helping me out in the morning while preparing for school. I didn’t have them when I found that my classes were a bit hard and I wanted someone to guide me on how to get through them.

Although I grew up having to be responsible, I still long for that day when I will not be away from them.

It makes me upset every time I see people disobeying their parents in public. I don’t like it when it’s easy for some to shout at their parents or act like they are not there. You may sometimes feel like they do not understand you, and that your friends love you more, but believe me–no one among your friends will ever love you more than how much your parents love you.

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Tim Challies – Don’t Waste Your Ambition

ambition

I wonder if in all of human history there has been a generation that has had your level of ambition, your level of self-confidence. You believe that you can make a difference, that you can change the world, and you have the ambition to get out there and attempt it. I like that. I like that because God loves to make good our ambition, to use it for his purposes. He loves it when we attempt great things for him because we expect great things from him.

Ambition is a powerful trait. It is the trait of visionaries, of leaders, of people who change the world and improve lives. Ambition sent missionaries all around the world. Ambition build the ministries we love, the ministries God has used to bless and challenge us. Ambition planted the church you attend and serve. Ambition is good, but not as a trait that stands on its own. Ambition is good, but it needs to be strengthened by at least two other crucial traits: character and self-discipline. When I look at your generation, I love the ambition I see, but want to encourage you to pursue the traits that will harness that ambition to the best and highest purposes.

Character

Your generation loves ambition and has been encouraged to pursue and develop it. But, sadly, there has been less emphasis on character. In fact, that trait seems to have gone missing among old and young alike. We used to demand that our politicians were men and women of character and we would cast our votes not on the basis of good looks or smooth demeanor, but on the basis of character. Whatever else we wanted from a politician, we wanted to know that he was trustworthy, that she would do the things she had said she would do. Character gave us confidence because we believed they would act in ways consistent with it.

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Dave Jenkins – Five Pieces of Advice to Help Young People Grow in God’s Grace

youthgroup

Sometimes I enjoy reflecting on how my life has changed from high school to the present. As I do this semi-infrequently, I’m often encouraged by how I’ve grown. Sometimes as I do this, I feel a twinge of regret. During such times, memories of carelessness, ungodly attitudes, and behavior come rushing back at me.

In this article, I want to come alongside you and give you advice that will hopefully help you as you grow in your teenage years and beyond.

Be Yourself by God’s Grace

As a teenager today, you are faced with an incredible amount of peer pressure at your school. As a Christian, you have an incredible opportunity to stand up and make a difference by God’s grace.

As a Christian, the Lord has taken your heart of stone, and replaced it with a new heart, with new desires, and affections for Himself. The Christian life is a life lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

All around you are people who want you to slip up and use foul language. It may even seem to be “cool” by some, but it’s really not. As a Christian young man or young woman, you must resist this urge. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” The words we use matter, and they can never be taken back, only apologized for. Ultimately we will be held accountable for every idle word we speak.

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Jaquelle Crowe – 5 Reasons Why Teenagers Need Theology

why-teenagers-need-theology_350_233_90

The world can be really confusing for teenagers. We’re coming of age in a shifting moral landscape, where the most pressing challenges and culture’s loudest critics are ever changing and perpetually conflicting. We see scandals and soundbytes, terrorism and Trump, new sexual ethics and harsh racial tensions, and we wonder, “How am I supposed to think about all this?”

Secular society throws its own answers our way, but they’re never compatible with a Christian worldview.

I see a better tool to meet the questions of Christ-following teenagers like me: theology.

Why Theology for Teens?

I’m pretty sure you know what theology is. But sometimes people have such nuanced and experiential conceptions of what a word means that they obscure its plain definition. I want you to know I’m talking about the plainest definition of theology there is: the study of God.

As a Jesus-following teenager, I believe studying God’s character is what teenagers need in order to face our terribly complicated world. It’s what will give us lasting hope to face our future with a firm commitment to God’s truth.

Let me explain how theology answers our biggest questions and meets our greatest needs. Of course, this is only the briefest beginning, but it gets us started.

1. Studying God’s justice equips us to do what’s right.

In God’s Word we discover that God hates evil (Zech. 8:16–17) and loves truth. He cares about the oppressed and outcast, and he values all life.

Knowing this gives teenagers the drive to care about justice too. It pushes us to stand up for the oppressed and voiceless, and speak out against the injustice we see. It shows us the importance of submitting to God-given authorities—our parents, pastors, teachers, and government. And it fuels our obedience to God’s Word as the ultimate standard of justice.

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Jordan Standridge – 5 Truths We’re Keeping from Our Youth Groups

Jordan Standridge

When I do campus evangelism, I often start the conversation this way: “What are two reasons you stopped going to church?” I’ve asked hundreds of students that question, and the most common responses make me think that church youth groups have failed dramatically.

I understand that every human being is responsible for their own sin, and that even the best of youth groups will have students that fall between the cracks. But the fact of the matter is that too many pastors have believed the lie that teenagers cannot handle certain truths. They have accepted the culture’s belief that today’s teenagers’ attention span has shortened, and that their ability to comprehend deep truths has dissipated.

Whether you’re a parent or a youth pastor, you have to understand that adapting to the culture is something that pagans do. The Church is called to be counter-culture, and we must, despite what the world tells us and sadly what many fellow Christians tell us, stay faithful to Scripture and teach the whole counsel of God. So here are five truths that most teenagers (Christian or not) are not being taught, that we must teach, in order to have a Biblical youth group.

Teach them about their depravity

Most parents want the best for their children. They make it their mission to make sure their children live the best life possible. Their greatest desire is to have their children be healthy, successful and happy.

For some reason, what goes hand-in-hand with this, is difficulty assigning blame to their children for almost anything. Seeing dozens of feuds between students over the years has proven this to be the case. Parents generally if not always take their children’s side. Very rarely will they admit any fault. If their children do get in trouble, they end up blaming other influences. If there is no one else to blame, than they blame it on the brain or on some kind of neurological/chemical imbalance issue. Most kids have been trained to blame-shift.

The Bible doesn’t allow for this. Adam and Eve in the garden attempted to blame shift and God not only didn’t allow it but also punished them severely for their sin (Genesis 3:9-19). James in James 4:1-4 also blames our own hearts for our fights writhing the church.

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Book Review – Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens

Critical Conversations

We live in a time when what once was considered right is now viewed as intolerance. Arguably, this paradigm shift in our culture is most evident when it comes to the subject of gay marriage versus biblical marriage. The recent Supreme Court decision ruling gay marriage to be legal greatly shifted the social landscape. Add to that the barrage of media attention both covering and supporting this lifestyle choice, and we are seemingly on the losing side of the argument. All hope is not lost as believers given we have confidence God is always and fully in control and righteousness will win the day.

With that said, especially when it comes to children and specifically teenagers, it is vital in this environment for parents to be equipped to have the critical conversation about homosexuality, how to interact with those who oppose the biblical stance on marriage, and how to stand firm in the midst of this storm that has come upon us. Tom Gilson in his tremendously helpful book Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens, provides that needed equipping for parents.

I am the parent of a 14 year old. She is well aware of the fact there are LGBT individuals all around. It is hard not to know given the aforementioned barrage of media attention being given to this subject. She has asked on a few occasions why the “love” two gay people have for one another is wrong. After all, isn’t it their choice and isn’t love enough. Thankfully, as parents we were able to engage such a question as we had prepared ourselves for that type of critical conversation. Unfortunately, many parents, even Christian parents, would rather just avoid speaking about this topic to their children or hope that the youth pastor brings it up sometime at youth group to get them off the hook.

Gilson rightly notes that parents have the God given responsibility to impart truth into the lives of their children. Thus, we need to understand the landscape our children live in and furthermore, we must ensure they interact with LGBT individuals in a spirit of truth and love, understanding that on most occasions, their belief system in biblical marriage will be reviled.

In Critical Conversations, Gilson first establishes how we go to this point with a brief history lesson on the LGBT movement. He then establishes the biblical framework for marriage and builds on that framework and history as well noting the “common human experience” that marriage between a man and a woman is the best approach for society and to raise children.

With that as a solid foundation, Gilson then outlines how parents should teach their children when it comes to engaging those who take a different view on marriage. We should always stand for truth and Gilson aptly reminds the reader of that important fact. He also saliently avers the need for a listening ear, a warm embrace, and a spirit of love with those who embrace the LGBT lifestyle. Gilson comments that a listening ear does not mean acceptance of that lifestyle. It simply means we are showing humanity and rejecting the incorrect stigma of homophobia often attached to those who affirm biblical marriage.

Part 3 of this book is where the real rubber hits the road and is I believe the best part. Gilson addresses a plethora of winsome arguments that can be presented to the challenges against the biblical position on marriage. He covers most all if not all the major talking points from the LGBT community and those who support that lifestyle. The proposed responses follow the guidelines he gave in Part 2 when he reminded the reader of the need to speak the truth but to do so in love. Parents should spend a great deal of time in Part 3 and after doing so, the next step is to then spend time with your children discussing these important responses.

In my humble opinion, this is a must read for all Christian parents. Do not abdicate to the youth pastor the responsibility of having the needed critical conversation with your children about homosexuality. Spend time with them with Scripture and with this book as a helpful guide. Empower them (and yourself) to be able to respond with a biblical apologetic on marriage that is winsome, truthful, spoken in love, and that destroys the incorrect notions and labels being spouted against those who affirm biblical marriage.

This book is available for purchase from Kregel Publications by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Kregel Publications and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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