4 Ways to Protect your Kids Online

4 Ways to Protect your Kids Online

In the world in which we live, parents must engage in the battle for their children’s hearts, minds, and attention.  There is too much at stake to assume that they will “be okay.”  Ministering to students, whether that be as a parent or a pastor, is a full contact sport.  We must engage. We must to go war.  We must not sit idle by and watch our children’s lives unfold.

The linked article gives good practical recommendations on how to put a wall around your child’s internet access.  Something that must be considered when raising teenagers, especially boys.  It is a follow-up to a previous article written by the same author that I highlighted earlier this week.

4 Ways to Protect your Kids Online

By: Brian Howard

A few months back I wrote a post entitled, A New Way to Keep Pornography Out of Your Home, where I reviewed a Router from Pandora’s Hope. The post was quite popular and continues to be read daily. Since writing the post I have become increasingly aware of the range of ways that are available to help protect families from pornography. I recently read an excellent article on Yahoo’s new technology site that motivated me to do more research into this area. The post, entitled 3 easy ways to protect your kids online, reviews some excellent tools to help families stay proactive with the Internet. Here are the 3, my take, and a link to the Pandora’s Hope router as well.

1. Norton Family Online

Norton Family Online allows you to monitor every site that your kids visit, see everything that they search for, and track their activity across social media. Norton offers a a free version and a paid version. The paid version ($50 per year) adds instant message monitoring, video monitoring, and also monitors mobile devices. On the surface it looks fantastic. Reviews say that the software is buggy at times but it definitely is worth a look.

KEEP READING…

A New Way to keep Pornography out of your Home

Keep Pornography out of your home

Move the computer to the living room.

Download covenant eyes.

Gain access to all of your students password protected sites.

All valid ways to help keep pornography out of your home but all are also limited.  No one technique is going to be able to provide perfect protection for your students.  That doesn’t mean you stop trying, but it means you take a multifaceted attack.  This article is a new tactic in the war again porn.  One that I think is worth adding to your arsenal.

A New Way to keep Pornography out of your Home

By Brian Howard

Like many of you, I am intensely concerned to keep all forms of pornography out of my home. Over the years, I have repeatedly witnessed the destructive force of pornography in the lives of men, marriages, kids, and the victims of sex industries.

We have four kids that range in age from 8 years old to 14 years old. Between the 6 of us, we have a dozen different devices connected to the web in our home. For years we have used software filters or accountability software to screen out porn. When we recently learned about a new device that promises to keep Internet Porn out of our house, we were excited to give it a try. The device is a router manufactured by Pandora’s Hope. The company promises that it’s router is easy to set up, works on computers and mobile devices, stops pornography at the “Gateway”, and causes no noticeable loss of browser speed. Today, I plugged in my new Pandora’s Hope Router for the first time. Here is my review:

Setup:

The Pandora’s Hope router was a breeze to set up. I plugged it in to my cable modem and one minute later, the lights on the front turned green indicating that it was ready to go. Next, I went to wi-fi on my computer and clicked on the wi-fi network called “Pandora’s Hope Wizard.” It took about 2 minutes after this to configure a username and password and setup was complete. The final step was clicking on the wi-fi Network “Pandora’s Hope”, entering my password, and boom goes the dynamite, I was set up in less than 5 minutes. Setup Grade: A

KEEP READING…

Ten Reasons to Memorize Big Chunks of the Bible

Ten Reasons to Memorize Big Chunks of the Bible

Scripture memorization is a great discipline.  We have been challenging our students to simply memorize a few verses ever few weeks.  This article give 10 great reasons to memorize not just verses but big chunks of scripture.  Better yet it gives you a method as to how to do it.

Ten Reasons to Memorize Big Chunks of the Bible

By Jon Bloom
Jon Bloom (@Bloom_Jon) is the author of
Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith and serves as the President of Desiring God, which he and John Piper launched together in 1994. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Pam, their five children, and one naughty dog.

You can memorize big chunks, even books, of the Bible. Unless you’re part of the very small percentage of us who suffer from a traumatic brain injury or stroke or disability, you really can. And you should. But why should you?

1. Because you have a bad memory.

Don’t say you can’t memorize because you have a bad memory. That’s why you need to memorize. I have a bad memory too. I think it’s worse than average — seriously. I forget names of people I know and see regularly! I have to force my faulty, inefficient brain to drive things that matter most into my long-term memory. This only happens by the process of repeating (memorizing) every day over a period of time. You’d be surprised what you can commit to memory if you have a simple system and put forth some effort. I’ve memorized five New Testament books and am working on my sixth. And that’s because I have a bad memory.

2. Because you need to feed your mind.

Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. But how can we do this if we can’t remember such things? General positive Bible concepts are not very helpful. We need specific “precious and very great promises” in our memory to draw on when we are alone and battling discouragement or anger or lust or fear (2 Peter 1:4).

3. Because the Bible is too accessible to you.

It’s strange how having an abundance of something can result in our neglecting it. If the Bible’s always there on our tables, tablets, phones, computers, and on the web we can dip in, read sections, search for key words when needed, but feel no urgency to really internalize it. Memorizing is one way to fight that delusion.

4. Because you have the Internet.

Unfortunately the Internet is teaching us how not to read. We are becoming information scanners, quickly browsing but not digesting very much. We are losing patience for deeper, more reflective reading. Memorizing longer passages of Scripture forces us to reflect deeply on meaning and application.

KEEP READING…

5 Tips For Communicating With Your Students’ Parents

Another great article from the guys at YM360.  A site full of great resources and articles.  In our ministry we are constantly trying to figure out how to “get the word out” to students and parents.  Here are 5 good ideas to use.

5 Tips For Communicating With Your Students’ Parents

Communicating with your students’ parents is a vital part of any youth ministry. We know this.

And so, here are five suggestions for being awesome at communication.

Use MailChimp

I say use MailChimp because I think it is hands down the best email client out there. I also love their corporate culture. (But you could certainly use Constant Contact or ay of the other email campaign providers.) It will take a little playing around with to get used to but it’s actually very easy to figure out. And the benefits are tremendous. Not only do they offer some really cool template building tools that will save you time (once you get your template “set”) and add an air of professionalism to your communication, but MailChimp will allow you to track exactly who is opening your emails and who isn’t. Which is huge.

Be Consistent

You need good habits in your communication. Send an email twice a month (or weekly if you’re feeling super awesome) no matter what. This creates a habit of expectation in your students’ parents. They will begin to look for (even subconsciously) your timely updates in their Inboxes. You’ll be surprised how consistency leads to higher open rates.

KEEP READING…

3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church

leave

This is one of parents and youth pastors greatest fears, that their students would walk away from their faith after graduation.  The author of this article gives three common traits of youth who don’t leave the church.  This is well worth the read if you are a leader in student ministry or a parent of a teen.

3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the

Church

By: Jon Nielson
Jon is the college pastor at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He blogs at Something More Sure.

 “What do we do about our kids?” The group of parents sat together in my office, wiping their eyes. I’m a high school pastor, but for once, they weren’t talking about 16-year-olds drinking and partying. Each had a story to tell about a “good Christian” child, raised in their home and in our church, who had walked away from the faith during the college years. These children had come through our church’s youth program, gone on short-term mission trips, and served in several different ministries during their teenage years. Now they didn’t want anything to do with it anymore. And, somehow, these mothers’ ideas for our church to send college students “care packages” during their freshman year to help them feel connected to the church didn’t strike me as a solution with quite enough depth.

The daunting statistics about church-going youth keep rolling in. Panic ensues. What are we doing wrong in our churches? In our youth ministries?

It’s hard to sort through the various reports and find the real story. And there is no one easy solution for bringing all of those “lost” kids back into the church, other than continuing to pray for them and speaking the gospel into their lives. However, we can all look at the 20-somethings in our churches who are engaged and involved in ministry. What is it that sets apart the kids who stay in the church? Here are just a few observations I have made about such kids, with a few applications for those of us serving in youth ministry.

1. They are converted.

The Apostle Paul, interestingly enough, doesn’t use phrases like “nominal Christian” or “pretty good kid.” The Bible doesn’t seem to mess around with platitudes like: “Yeah, it’s a shame he did that, but he’s got a good heart.” When we listen to the witness of Scripture, particularly on the topic of conversion, we find that there is very little wiggle room.

KEEP READING…

Ice Bucket Challenge viewed through James 1:19-27

The Ice Bucket challenge is a national phenomenon.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, that was the IBC. The Ice Bucket Challenge is a campaign started by the ALS Association to raise awareness and donations for ALS. The challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness. According to the ALS Association, people can either accept the challenge or make a donation to an ALS charity of their choice, or do both.

ALS is the initialism for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease or classical motor neuron disease. ALS is a neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. Unable to function, the muscles gradually weaken, waste away, and twitch. The disease become progressively worse the ability of the brain to start and control voluntary movement is lost, eventually resulting in death. The cause of ALS is not known, and scientists do not yet know why ALS strikes some people and not others. About 30,000 Americans now have ALS.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has led millions to:

  • Hear about it.
  • Know about it.
  • Care about it.
  • Do something about it.

As we have been studying the book of James, this is the exact message we see in Chapter 1:19-27.  James wants us to:

  • Hear the Word
  • Know the Word
  • Care about the Word
  • Do the Word.

James

Just as importantly he wants us to do all of this with wisdom.  In verses 19 -21, James gives us 5 wise ways to be “Knowers of the Word.

Wise Ways to be Knowers of the Word

  1. Be quick to hear.
  2. Slow to speak.
  3. Slow to anger.
  4. Get rid of sin
  5. Accept the Word with Humility.

Later in the book, James calls faith without works…DEAD.  Knowing the Word is only half of the equation.  In the Ice Bucket Challenge, if no one ever gave money to help find a cure, it would be pointless.  We are called not only to Know the Word but Do the Word.  In verses 22 – 27, James gives us 4 ways to be wise “Doers of the Word.”

Wise Ways to be Doers of the Word

  1. Don’t Forget what the Word says.
  2. Persevere.
  3. Control your Tongue
  4. Care for the vulnerable

The reason I use the Ice Bucket Challenge as an example is because I recently learned that a portion of the funds raised through ALS Association goes to embryonic stem cell research.

Embryonic stem cell research is speculative medical research (it has never resulted in clinical treatments) that is predicated on the destruction of embryonic human life. The process uses stem cells harvested from embryos conceived through vitro fertilization (IVF) that have been donated for research purposes rather than being implanted into a woman’s uterus. The embryos are killed during the process of harvesting their cells and then are discarded afterwards. In 1999, the Southern Baptist Convention issued a resolution expressing opposition to the destruction of innocent human life, including the destruction of human embryos for research purposes.

If you have given money to ALS association, unless you designated specifically that you didn’t want funds to go to this research, a portion of your funds did. I’m not trying to shame you or embarrass you. The reality is that we do this every day.

We make seemingly insignificant decisions that speak to what we believe and support unintentionally that may or may not be true about us. When we don’t use wisdom we say, do, and support things unintentionally that we may not have chosen to if we did use wisdom.

This is a point James is making in this section of Scripture.

So what do we do?

Linked are two great articles on how to approach this movement with wisdom. Included are alternative charities that help support finding a cure to ALS without funding embryonic stem cell research. Much of my research and content came from these two sources.

The FAQs: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
http://erlc.com/article/the-faqs-the-als-ice-bucket-challenge

Why I Cannot Accept the Ice-Bucket Challenge by Nathaniel King
http://www.nathanaelk.com/2014/08/why-i-cannot-accept-ice-bucket-challenge.html?spref=fb&m=1

Just so you know I do not think it is wrong to participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge.  I think it is a great opportunity to help find a cure to a horrific disease and an opportunity to highlight research that is not destroying human life.  Please give through one of the links at the bottom of this page.

Please help find a cure to ALS by donating to one of the links below.

The Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center (MSCTC) at the University of Kansas Medical Center
http://www.kumc.edu/msctc.html

Dr. Anthony Windebank and his team
http://www.mayo.edu/research/labs/regenerative-neurobiology/projects/therapy-amyotrophic-lateral-sclerosis-als

The Adult Stem Cell Technology Center, LLC
https://sites.google.com/site/adultstemcelltechnologycenter/

John Paul II Medical Research Institute
http://www.jp2mri.org/capital-campaign.htm.

10 Overlooked Truths About Taking Action

spartan-warriors-2

Action is essential in ministry and life.  Action is essential in success.  Action will sometimes end in failure.

Inaction always ends in failure.

The Art of Manliness outline 10 Truths about Taking Action.  These are not spiritual in nature but applicable in our relationship with Christ.  As Kevin DeYoung puts it in his book, Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc., God has already revealed his plan for Christians’ lives: to love Him and to obey His Word.  Now we just need to TAKE ACTION.

10 Overlooked Truths About Taking Action

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Kyle Eschenroeder.

“This is a holy moment. A sacramental moment. A moment in which a man feels the gods as close as his own breath.

What unknowable mercy has spared us this day? What clemency of the divine has turned the enemy’s spear one handbreadth from our throat and driven it fatally into the breast of the beloved comrade at our side? Why are we still here above the earth, we who are no better, no braver, who reverenced heaven no more than these our brothers whom the gods have dispatched to hell?

In this speech from Steven Pressfield’s gripping, well-researched re-telling of the Battle of Thermopylae (Gates of Fire), the Spartan King Leonidas addresses his troops after a victory. He is reflecting on the fact that when you do battle in chaos, Lady Fortuna and skill have an equal say in the outcome. Pressfield explains this dynamic in his equally worthwhile non-fiction work, The Warrior Ethos:

“In the era before gunpowder, all killing was of necessity done hand to hand. For a Greek or Roman warrior to slay his enemy, he had to get so close that there was an equal chance that the enemy’s sword or spear would kill him. This produced an ideal of manly virtue – andreia, in Greek – that prized valor and honor as highly as victory.

Andreia meant that judgment was based on actions taken — not outcomes. Society understood that the outcome was, at least in part, in the hands of the gods. What was in a man’s control was how he acted.

KEEP READING…

Rites of Passage for Your Daughter

self-esteemI feel less qualified than usual in writing this post.  I do not have daughters, nor have ever claimed to understand the opposite gender.  Although I do believe this article is very relevant for parents of teenage daughters.  One of my favorite parts of this series is the emphasis on the power of words.  While I agree that words have an effect on guys, I believe that they have a much more powerful effect on girls.  While there are guys who struggle with self-worth and self-doubt, it seems to plague girls.  Words of worth from parents go a long way, especially from a father to a daughter.

ARTICLES

Words are Powerful

Ideas for Creating Traditions

More ideas for Traditions

Other Rites of Passages

Creative Traditions Build Relationships

Simple Influence

Rites of Passage for Your Daughter

by Pam Farrel, Doreen Hanna

The conversation with the group of young women that day had been one of excitement and laughter as they planned the upcoming special Night of Celebration. Each girl’s family would join in a special rite-of-passage ceremony that would culminate with each princess’s father reading a personalized blessing over his daughter. However, after the meeting, one princess was not as excited as the rest of the girls, so I [Doreen] initiated a conversation with her.

focus-logo

Darla shrugged her shoulders with frustration as I asked if she would please reconsider asking her father to impart her blessing at the ceremony before she asked her youth pastor. With exasperation she began to blurt out her reasons for not wanting to give her father this privilege: “He spends all his time on that dumb computer! I can tell my parents are not happy. I feel like they might be talking about divorce. I wish he’d spend time with me. I know he used to be a Christian because he used to go to church. I hate being at home. I look for something to do every day just to be away from there.”

It was evident that the power of her parents’ words — talk of divorce, as well as a lack of loving words — had begun to kill hope in Darla’s heart.

My heart grieved for her, knowing also that at just 13 years of age she was already dealing with depression. However, I spoke quickly, reminding her that this might be an opportunity to hear her father publicly say things she never thought he knew or noticed about her. I told her that this would be a day she would remember for the rest of her life and, if possible, it would be best remembered with her father.

Lastly, I asked her if she would allow him this opportunity. She begrudgingly agreed and said she’d let me know of his decision within the next few days. The following day, she called.

“Mrs. Hanna, this is Darla.” (Long pause.) “Well, he said yes.”

Her tone of voice reflected an irritated disappointment that he had agreed to participate. However, she changed the subject and with excitement told me of the dress a girlfriend was going to let her borrow and how she was looking forward to celebrating with some of her friends.

After we hung up, I called and spoke with Darla’s dad, Rick. I explained what he needed to do to prepare to impart her blessing. I sensed sincerity in Rick’s voice and felt assured that God was at work.

The night of the ceremony I happened to be standing at the front of the church when Darla and Rick arrived early. As she stepped out of the car, she looked radiant in her beautiful navy blue formal. She ran to find the other girls who were applying their last touches of mascara, lip gloss or blush. All of them were complimenting and helping each other. In the meantime, Rick had searched and found a parking place, then rushed in asking where he was to sit. I saw that he had a yellow pad of paper in hand. The moment he sat down, it was evident he was still jotting down notes in preparation for Darla’s blessing.

The evening moved along smoothly and I soon found myself introducing Darla and Rick. They stepped forward, taking their respective places at the podium. Then Darla folded her arms across her midriff and looked over the heads of the audience. It was so obvious that she was still not happy to be sharing her special moment with her father.

Rick began speaking his blessing with a tone in his voice that reflected tenderness. As Rick’s endearing words poured out, Darla’s arms soon dropped to her side and she looked directly into her father’s eyes. His words were warm, loving and sincere, bringing life back into Darla’s heart. It was evident he truly loved Darla and recognized the importance of this opportunity with his daughter. Darla’s eyes filled with tears and a smile brightened her countenance. Rick, with great delight in his eyes, crowned her with her tiara. Then Darla hugged him warmly. You could hear the sniffles of joy in the audience!

As this celebration came to a close and we headed to the reception, I overheard someone affirming Rick, complimenting him for the powerful words he had spoken into Darla’s life.

KEEP READING…

Rites of Passage for your Son

One of my favorite shows that the Discovery channel ever produced was their Human Planet series.  It was a 8 week series that highlighted how different people all over the world live.  My favorite story was from the mountains episode.  It highlight a rite of passage for a 13 yr old boy from Mongolia.  In order to become a man in his culture he must capture, train, and hunt with an eagle.  In the episode you see him climb down the side of a cliff to kidnap a baby eagle from its nest.  You see him train his eagle.  Then you see him while riding horse back through a foot of snow, go hunting with his eagle for a fox.  It has to be one of the most epic and amazing things I have ever seen, especially from a 13 yr old boy.

In all teenagers I believe there is an innate desire to prove themselves.  To show to themselves and others that they have what it take to move up to the next phase of life and responsibility.  Rites of passage do this for both teenage boys and girls.  The next two weeks I will be highlighting two posts from Focus On The Family that address this very issue.  This post and the episode from Human Planet are a reminder that our teenagers can sometime accomplish far more than we give them credit for.  And by creating rites of passage that give them the opportunities to prove themselves we are telling them that we believe in them and see how incredibly awesome God has made them.

I can’t wait to help Maddox and Jonas kidnap their first eagle and go fox hunting in Mongolia.

In this first post I will highlight Rites of Passages for Your Son. It contains 6 articles that give great ideas for each stage in a teenage boys development.

ARTICLES

Initiating Sons Into Manhood

Puberty: The ‘Page’ Stage

High School Graduation: The Squire Stage

College Graduation: The Knight Stage

Marriage: The Promise/Oath Stage

Your Son Wants You to Notice Him

 

Rites of Passage for Your Son

by Robert Lewis

David Wills faced a monumental task. Governor Andrew Curtin of Pennsylvania appointed him to oversee the burial of thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers at Gettysburg. In addition, the 32-year-old attorney was to plan a dedication ceremony for this pivotal Civil War battle.

The task was daunting. Following the July 1863 conflict, Gettysburg had taken on the appearance — and the stench — of an open-air mortuary. Thousands of human bodies lay scattered over the fields and hills, decaying in the heat. Others were buried but, as Willis reported to Governor Curtin, “in many instances arms and legs and sometimes heads protrude, and my attention had been directed to several places where the hogs were actually rooting out the bofocus-logodies and devouring them.”1 Human scavengers picked at the exposed bodies for anything of value. Meanwhile, grieving relatives scoured the fields, searching for fathers and sons. Gettysburg had become a “carnival of carnage.” Like a scene from Dante’s Inferno, the grisly features of death were pervasive, revolting, visceral.

Something had to be done. David Wills did it. But at every turn, he was like a man stumbling in the dark. He started by forming an interstate commission to finance the project. Seventeen acres were purchased for a cemetery, and a company was retained to exhume, prepare and bury the bodies. (Willis had hoped to have the burial completed before the November ceremony, but it wouldn’t be finished until the following spring.)

Having resolved the pressing issues of burial and hygiene, the agent turned his attention toward the ceremony itself. Willis desired to memorialize the sacrifices of these brave men by staging an elaborate ceremony. According to the conventional wisdom of his day, this entailed securing a powerful orator who could lend dignity to the event, someone who would speak for two hours (as was the custom) and bring a lofty perspective to the proceedings. Without question, Edward Everett was the man.

An Ivy League scholar and former Secretary of State, Everett was considered the preeminent orator of his generation. He had dedicated the battlefields at Lexington and Concord as well as Bunker Hill. Almost as an afterthought, David Wills also extended an invitation — two months later — to President Lincoln, with the request that Lincoln deliver only “a few appropriate remarks.”

On November 19, 1863, an estimated 20,000 people gathered for the ceremony. They had traveled by horse, train and carriage from as far away as Minnesota to participate in the event. Under a blue sky, Lincoln and Everett, along with a host of other dignitaries, sat on a raised platform amid a sea of onlookers.

The ceremony began. First there was music. Then a prayer. And more music. Then it was time for the keynote address. Edward Everett’s presentation was worthy of his reputation. For two hours, he held the crowd in thrall with his fiery language, his childlike animation and his detailed description of the battle.

Following a hymn, Lincoln stepped to the podium. “Four score and seven years ago,” he began … and before anyone knew it, he was finished. The crowd, which hadn’t expected much, was still surprised by the brevity of his speech. Historian Garry Wills, in his much-acclaimed book Lincoln at Gettysburg, alludes to the story of a photographer who, expecting the president to be at the podium for a while, missed his shot while he slowly set up his camera.2 In 272 words, the president said what he wanted to say and then sat down. The choir sang a dirge, the Reverend H.L. Baugher gave the benediction, and it was over.

The rest, as they say, is history.

KEEP READING…

Parenting: The Hats You Wear

From the guys at “More than Dodgeball” here is a simple post that re-enforces most of what you read on parenting.  Notice that none of the hats you wear as a parent are “friend.”

Parenting: The Hats You Wear

by: Kurt Johnson

As a parent, you will find yourself wearing multiple hats, playing a variety of roles in the life of your child(ren). I’d like to list a few of the more prominent hats you will wear as you raise your kids. This list is both linear, in that there is a sort of progression through these roles as your children grow, and completely non-linear in that you will also find yourself constantly jumping between roles, wearing multiple hats at one time, etc. regardless of the age of your children.

KEEP READING…