Rabu, 16 November 2016

Free Youth Series: “Down to Earth”

Free Youth Series: “Down to Earth”

What does it really look like to be a disciple?

Free Youth Series

Download this 3-week series to share with your youth ministry.
From Open Network, “What does it really look like to be a disciple? What does it even mean? A disciple is someone who follows Christ and tries to live like He lived. This series is all about helping students understand what it means to be a disciple of Christ and live like Him in everyday life. Find message videos, guides, and supporting materials below for free. In this unit, the year is 2057, and Jennifer lands an exciting new job with Cosmic Kinetics, a company that comes up with wacky inventions for people on other planets. As she’s finding her way, she meets her childhood hero and becomes his disciple. Soon she learns how special her new team is and what a difference they’re making in the lives of others.”
This kids series package includes:
  • Experience guides
  • Game guides
  • Teaching segment videos
  • Message videos
  • Challenge Cards in PDF format

Get Download Now

Resource provided by Open Network

How to Lay Aside the Weight of Lust

How to Lay Aside the Weight of Lust

How to Lay Aside the Weigh of Lust
Why it’s time to turn to faith and embrace hope and grace.
Lust is an ancient and universal human sinful appetite. The more we feed it, the more ravenous and perversely diverse it becomes. And the more socially acceptable perverse diversity becomes, the more sexual immorality steals, kills and destroys human lives.
No wonder lust is one of Satan’s choice temptation weapons. Few sins wield as much power to blind unbelievers and seduce Christians, and then immobilize them with shame. So, at all costs, we fight and flee it lest it make us a prisoner of war (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Peter 2:11).
A few centuries ago, the English word lust described a fairly wide range of human desires, both good and evil. Today, lust is typically shorthand for “sexually immoral desires.” But still, lust covers a lot of ground, because there is a wide range of “sexually immoral desires.” These desires, and the behaviors they produce, if not vigilantly resisted, have been a devastating part of the human experience since the forbidden fruit was eaten in Eden.
But the driving force behind lust is frequently misunderstood. The human sexual drive, while strong, is not the dominant power in lust. Sin is the dominant power. Various kinds of sin seize or infect the sexual drive in order to gratify selfishness through sexuality.
This is why lust can be so difficult to fight. Our sexual drive can be infected by many different kinds of sinful desire viruses, resulting in multiple variants of lust disease. What helps us fight lust one day might not help the next, because a different virus is infecting the sexual drive.

Viruses leading to lust

One common virus is coveting. Our rebellious sinful nature finds forbidden things attractive and covets them (Romans 7:7–8). Since sin infects our sexual drive, it is no surprise that we are tempted to lust after forbidden sex. This was Amnon’s lust for his half-sister, Tamar (2 Samuel 13). The fact that he despised her after he sated his lust reveals that his desire was fueled by coveting Tamar as a sexually forbidden object, not by real love for Tamar the person (2 Samuel 13:15).
Another virus is self-indulgence. Self-indulgence can manifest in any corrupted human appetite. In fact, self-indulgence can be contagious. I have found if I sinfully indulge in one area, like overeating or entertainment or laziness, I am more vulnerable to sexual temptation. Certain emotional states also may trigger a desire to indulge lust (among other things), like the euphoria of success, boredom, self-pity, discouragement, anger and more.
A host of other sin-viruses can infect us and become manifest through the sexual drive. Lust can be fueled by a desire to wield self-exalting dominance or manipulative power over another. It can be fueled by discontent. It can be fueled by the fear of death, manifested in a sexualized desire to recapture youth or be sexually desired by youth.
And more than one virus frequently powers our lust. For example, when David lusted after Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), his sexual drive was infected with selfish indulgence, coveting someone forbidden and possibly numerous other sin-viruses.
Lust also can be hard to fight because the fog of arousal often obscures the sins that are fueling it. But the more we recognize the sin-triggers, the better we can cut lust’s fuel supply and blow away its fog.

The most powerful way to fight lust

Crucial to fighting lust is identifying triggers and choking the fuel supply. Accountability partners and software safeguards can be great helps. But these are defensive measures and only half the battle—and not the most powerful half.
The most powerful and successful way to fight the desire fire of lust is with the desire fire of faith in what God promises to us. Faith in God’s promises prepares us for offensive action. Faith shields us from enemy blows while God’s promises hack down spiritual enemies like broadsword (Ephesians 6:16–17).
When faith in God’s word swells in our hearts, lust is no match for it. You know what I mean. When you have been most filled with hope and trust and delight in God, what kind of grip did lust have on you? Hardly any. You didn’t want to defile your mind and heart with anything impure.
We are not na├»ve. We know we will not always surge with lust-dousing faith. So we need to put strong defenses in place. We must understand the nature of lust so we are not ignorant of Satan’s designs (2 Corinthians 2:11). But the only way we will not gratify lustful desires of the flesh is to walk by the Spirit—cultivating love for and trust in what the Spirit of God says in the word of God (Galatians 5:16).

Lay aside the weight of lust

The cross of Christ guarantees that every moment of confession and repentance is a cleansing moment (1 John 1:9) and that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Last year’s or yesterday’s or this morning’s lust need not linger or flagellate us with shame.
But our birthright as children of God is far more than the removal of condemnation. It is freedom (John 8:32; Romans 8:21; Galatians 5:1). That’s why Satan tries to enslave us with lust: to steal our spiritual freedom and joy. For when indulged, lust weighs down our souls, quenches our faith and shuts our mouths. It robs our desire to worship God, witness for Jesus, intercede for kingdom needs, encourage others, give generously, reach unreached peoples or engage in spiritual warfare. It makes prisoners out of freemen.
So let’s lay down this sin-weight, this demonic ball and chain (Hebrews 12:1). Let’s press to see lust for what it truly is, and more importantly Christ for who he is. Let’s fight for lust-crushing faith and to be filled with the Spirit. For “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Jon Bloom

Jon Bloom

Jon Bloom is the Executive Director for Desiring God Ministries

10 Reasons Teens Shouldn’t Smoke Marijuana

10 Reasons Teens Shouldn’t Smoke Marijuana (Even if It’s Legal)

10 Reasons Teens Shouldn't Smoke Marijuana (Even if It's Legal)
A biblical approach to legal pot.
I live in the state of Colorado. Ten years ago we were known for being “Broncos” country (yes!), ski country (yes!) and hunting/hiking/fishing country (yes! yes! yes!).
Now we are known for all of that plus being one of the four “stoner states” where marijuana is legal for recreational use (Boo!).
As a lifelong Colorado resident, I’m not happy about that. In my opinion, we have exchanged some of our swagger as a tough state for one that prefers Doritos and doobies. And, as the founder of a ministry that is committed to reaching teenagers with the hope of Jesus Christ, I’m very concerned about that.
Just a few days ago I had a pretty interesting conversation with my 15-year-old son about it. What I realized in talking to him was that I had never clearly, biblically laid out a comprehensive case against smoking weed. Sure, we’ve talked about it. He doesn’t do drugs nor does he want to. But he wasn’t as clear about the “why” as I had hoped. So I decided to write this article to build a strong biblical case against marijuana use for the Christian teen.
And, by the way, I’m not one of those guys who is totally against legitimate medical marijuana use. I watched my mom die slowly and painfully of stage four cancer. I would have rather had watched her smoke a joint to ease her pain in her final days than the total-shut-down-of-her-senses medications the doctor prescribed instead.
But I am one of those people who believe that recreational marijuana use can be absolutely devastating to young people and old people alike. And a Christian should never take it “just for fun.” This is especially true of Christian teenagers.
The more I travel, the more I talk to youth leaders who have Christian teenagers who think marijuana use is “no big deal.” These Christian teenagers view it as less dangerous than drinking and less addictive than heroin. In their view it just makes you feel good and, well…what’s wrong with that?
So, as an evangelist to young people, a Colorado resident and the father of a 15-year-old Christian teenager, I wanted to give you 10 reasons that Christian teenagers should not smoke weed:

1.  It’s a sin for Christians to let any controlled substance control them.

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18
When your stomach is full of wine, your bloodstream is full of alcohol. When your lungs are full of marijuana smoke, your bloodstream is full of THC (the active drug in marijuana.)
As believers, the only “controlled substance” that should overtake our minds, bodies and senses is the power of the Holy Spirit. Any other mind-altering drug is off limits for those of us who claim the name of Christ. As believers, we should never get drunk with alcohol or high on drugs. Instead we should be full of the Holy Spirit!

2.  It’s illegal for a teenager to smoke weed.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” Romans 12:1, 2
Even in my free-wheeling state of Colorado you have to be 21 to consume recreational drugs. In other words, to smoke weed before then is breaking the law…and breaking the law is a sin.

3.  It impacts the adolescent brain and can damage it for life.

“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” Proverbs 22:3
According to the book of Proverbs, simpletons see the danger in indulging in something, but go for it anyway. These fools pay the price.
In the same way, if science shows that smoking marijuana damages a teenager’s brain and they do it anyway, they are being fools. And science does show it, by the way…
In an interview with CBC News, Dr. Romina Mizrahi, director of the Focus on Youth Psychosis Prevention clinic and research program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said that “brain development in childhood continues through teenage years and into the early 20s.” She explained that “cannabis affects how the brain’s regulator—called the endocannabinoid system—controls things like mood and memory… You’re kind of tampering with or altering the system that’s there to regulate other things.”

4.  It can lead to a sedentary, lazy, wasted life (which is a sin!).

Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.”  Proverbs 12:24
There’s a reason most stoners are depicted as Dorito-crunching, couch-crashing slackers…because many of them are! I’ve talked to countless parents whose teens or 20-somethings have pretty much given up on anything but smoking drugs, playing video games and lying around. If they work, they work just enough to make just enough to pay for their next bag full of weed.
Getting addicted to anything (especially drugs) can take away our ambition to work hard, save money and be generous to others. It can lead to years of a young person’s life being totally wasted. And this brand of life does not glorify God!

5.  It can become a gateway to even more addictive drugs.

“Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.” Romans 6:19
Sin breeds sin. Once you say “no” to “Just Say No!” it becomes much easier to say “yes” to even more dangerous drugs…and soon the downward spiral begins.
Teenagers can easily become “slaves” to marijuana which can lead to “ever increasing wickedness.” Soon teens can find themselves addicted to Oxycontin, heroin or meth.
Am I using scare tactics here? Of course I am! But it’s motivated out of love for these Christian teenagers! I don’t want to see them caught in a trap that I’ve seen so many fall into and many never get out of. And far too many fall into even more addictive drugs as a result.

6.  It can rob teens of pursuing their calling wholeheartedly.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23,24
As believers in Jesus, we are called to work with all of our hearts in the calling he has given us. Students have a calling to be the best students they can be. Athletes have a calling to be the best athletes they can be. Employees have a calling to be the best workers they can be. Marijuana takes the edge off a teenager’s ability to think and execute their God-given calling wholeheartedly. 

7.  It makes a teen more open to moral compromise.

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18
Being drunk “leads to debauchery” and so does smoking weed. That word debauchery means “abandoned to sensuality and lust; dissoluteness, debauchery, revelry.” It’s hard enough to say “no” to sin, let alone when your senses are dulled due to drug or alcohol use. So if you want to stay pure, stay sober by staying drug free.

8.  It dishonors a Christian teen’s body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-21
Think of your body as a temple (because it is) where God dwells (because he does!).
When Christian teenagers look at their bodies this way, why in the world would they want to fill it with a substance that negatively impacts it? Let’s not fill his temple full of smoke!

9.  It impedes a teenager’s ability to pray with a clear mind.

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” 1 Peter 4:7
We are called to keep our minds clear so that we can pray. Marijuana clouds clear minds. Enough said.

10. It robs teens of their ability to be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ.

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. ” 1 Peter 4:3-5
Christian teenagers who choose not to engage in drunkenness and drug use may get mocked by their indulging friends. But it’s their refusal to indulge that can open up doors for powerful Gospel conversations.
Every Christian teenager has an opportunity to be a witness for Jesus Christ, but marijuana use severely impacts their ability to credibly share that Jesus is our only source of true joy and life.
If you are a parent, I challenge you to sit down with your pre-teens and teenagers and go over this list with them. If you’re a youth leader, make it the theme of a youth group meeting and teach these 10 points. Be sure to add a discussion time after. 
Let’s help our teenagers be clear-minded, pure-hearted witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ in a teen world that is increasingly open to marijuana use.

Sabtu, 12 November 2016

Seven Steps That Will Help Leaders Reach More People on Social Media

Seven Steps That Will Help Leaders Reach More People on Social Media

Seven Steps That Will Help Leaders Reach More People On Social Media
Social media is one of the ways to start building a relationship with your wider community.
There is no doubt that social media is having a huge impact on churches’ ability to reach and influence culture. One of the biggest challenges and opportunities church leaders face is whether or not they should be active on social media. If you are in leadership at any kind of level reading this, I want to tell you that you should absolutely be actively participating on social media.
I’m not talking about your church social media feed. I’m talking to you personally. You should absolutely be active, interacting and present.
When you leverage social media well, you have the potential and capacity to reach many more people online as compared to those who may attend your church. Not just those in the wider Christian community, but you will reach more people who don’t even attend church. Most church leaders dream about being able connect and communicate with the wider community so simply and directly.
Is it your dream that you could impact and connect with your wider community? If it is I want to share with you seven steps that will help you reach people more than ever before.
1. Imagine the average person in your community that doesn’t attend your church. Create a persona of them. What age range are they, where do they live, what kind of job or study do they do? Are they married? Do they have children?
2. Write a list of the issues they may be facing. It could be in their work, marriage, relationships, dating, finances or spiritual questions you get from people who are exploring the Christian faith.
3. Once you have a list, create a list of topics you think people need to know about.
4. Create a schedule. When do you think is the best time to post or be online so that more people see and engage? (Tip: If you are on a Facebook page, check the insights as that will tell you when most of your audience are online.)
5. Decide what is the best kind of post that will drive interaction so that it will reach more people (make sure it is a public post so that it can be seen beyond your friendship circles).
6. Share your heart with your congregation. Write an email telling your congregation why you are doing this and get them to share and interact with the posts. Sharing the ‘why’ is huge. Not only is it another way to reinforce the mission-centered culture of your church, it will also encourage them to have conversations on the posts that they share with their own friends. Time the scheduling of your email so that they can immediately interact with your post on social media. They are much more likely to share your post if they don’t have to wait.
7. Read the interactions and comments. And reply! As people interact with you, you will hear what issues are important to them. Not only do you provide a voice, you are showing that you are listening by interacting. It is also such a smart way to build your library of ideas for future posts.
I personally think that Facebook Live is a brilliant strategy for church leaders to use. If you are a gifted speaker then it will be a great way to reach more people as Facebook is giving priority to Facebook Live videos, which means that you reach more people. Find out more here.
Social media is one of the ways to start building a relationship with your wider community. It is a great first touchpoint that is easily accessible where they will find out more about you and your church. They will see your passion and heart, they can see you as a regular person who can walk alongside them in their life and for some who may at some point step into your church.
Steve Fogg

Steve Fogg

Follower. Husband. Dad. I'm into branding, marketing, digital, communications with a pinch of PR. Communications Pastor

Sabtu, 05 November 2016

I Still Believe Character Matters

I Still Believe Character Matters

I Still Believe Character Matters
“The core value of good leadership is character.”
The core value of good leadership is character. Ability matters. Decision-making is vital. The skills to communicate and inspire are essential. But character trumps them all.
I was taught this growing up in a conservative, evangelical church in the late ’80s and early ’90s. I didn’t know it at the time, but the community that raised me was known as the Religious Right. Spending a few years around great biblical scholars would later show me that not everything that church taught me was true or biblical. Yet they got more right than they got wrong. (See: You Control What Matters Most)
Few things did they get more right than the idea that character counts.
While issues are important, my mentors preached the soul of a man or woman was of far greater importance than any individual debate. Two people can get a lot of work done even if they disagree on key issues, but only if trust is present. Trust is a byproduct of good character. Issues are debatable, character is not.

Character Is Not Perfection

Everyone is imperfect. The importance of character does not mean we expect our leaders to be different. Character is not perfection. Our leaders can’t be perfect. They will make bad choices, sometimes disastrous choices. Some of those choices can disqualify them from leadership, but rarely. More often than not, if a leader properly handles a bad decision—admits it, seeks forgiveness, makes amends—the mistake can actually propel them to better leadership.
However, we can’t fall for the false teaching that because every person is imperfect, bad choices can be ignored. Some are quick to excuse themselves or their leaders whenever they make mistakes by quickly comparing them to the mistakes of others. It’s a false comparison. Not every mistake is equal. Some things do have more penal consequences than others.
A pastor who has a series of affairs can be forgiven, but he should not continue to direct a church.
A teacher who says inappropriate things to a student can move on, but should never be trusted around children.
A leader who refuses to acknowledge his immorality can do significant things, but they should not be allowed to lead.
Character matters. (See: How to Better Control Yourself)

French Muslims Are Showing Solidarity With French Catholics in This Surprising Way

French Muslims Are Showing Solidarity With French Catholics in This Surprising Way

“It’s an important gesture of fraternity. They’ve told us, and I think they’re sincere, that it’s not Islam which killed Jacques Hamel.”
Following a brutal attack claiming the life of a priest in France, Muslims across that nation came out en masse to attend services in Catholic churches.
The priest was murdered by jihadists on Tuesday, July 26, in a small town in Normandy, France. Although France has seen greater loss through other attacks, for instance the attack in Nice that claimed 84 lives, this attack was particularly distressing because it targeted the church.
Following the attack on Tuesday, the French Muslim council CFCM asked for Muslims across the nation to show their “solidarity and compassion” toward the Catholic church by showing up for mass on Sunday. The BBC quoted the head of CFCM as saying, “We are all Catholics of France.”
One hundred Muslims joined about 2,000 people who piled into the cathedral of Rouen, near the town where the priest was killed. In fact, the president of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray Mosque (located in the same town where the priest was killed) showed up to the mass as well. Across the nation of France there were reports of Muslims attending services, including in Notre Dame.
The gesture even crossed national lines. In Italy, three imams sat in the front row at Santa Maria Trastevere church in Rome for Sunday mass.
Muslims in France are eager to show (by their actions) their neighbors that Islam is not a religion of violence, but that the jihadists represent an outlying sect of the religion. The Archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun, said Muslims’ attendance at mass is “an important gesture of fraternity. They’ve told us, and I think they’re sincere, that it’s not Islam which killed Jacques Hamel.”
Furthermore, as a Yahoo News article points out, Catholic priests are eager to welcome Muslims into their churches and thereby show solidarity toward their neighbors. “It’s an occasion to show (Muslims) that we do not confuse Islam with Islamism, Muslim with jihadist,” said Reverend Jean Rouet.
Megan Briggs

Megan Briggs

Megan Briggs is a content editor and passionate follower of Christ. Two things – she believes – that should be linked together more often. Her experience in ministry to youth and parents as well as the extensive amount of time she’s spent in ministry overseas gives her a unique perspective on the global church. Megan is passionate about spreading the gospel and equipping the church for holiness. When she’s not writing or proofreading, Megan likes to run.

The Impact of Technology on Teenagers

The Impact of Technology on Teenagers

The Impact of Technology on Teenagers
We’re saturated with media. Question is: How is your family dealing with it?
Face it. We’re saturated with media.
Yesterday when I got up, the first sound I heard was the music oozing from my girls’ iPods through their docking stations. Moments later, as my 15-year-old daughter, Alyssa, came downstairs to breakfast, she was texting a friend about homework. Meanwhile, my 13-year-old, Ashley, quickly jumped online to check the weather. Five minutes later, we were in the car and Ashley routinely plugged her iPod into the car’s system so we could all benefit from hearing her music on the way to school.
I’ve read all the reports about media saturation. Our family doesn’t leave the TV on, my kids don’t have Internet connections in their room, and I’m very proactive about monitoring our home’s level of media saturation. But the fact remains, it was only 7:32 a.m.…and we were already soaked.
Just how media saturated is the average home in America?
Getting to the Truth
Nielson, Kaiser Foundation, Pew Internet, The American Academy of Pediatrics…they’re all doing research about media saturation and the effect of media in the lives of young people. Lucky for us, they all seem to basically agree with their conclusions. But the funny thing I’ve noticed is how newspapers, magazines and TV reports filter the data. After all, the news has to be interesting…even shocking, right?
Here’s how it usually works. One of these groups of experts will release a study followed by a press release. Journalists read the studies and write their opinions, quoting the numbers that leap off the page. The common folk begin reading these articles and listening to the findings on the Today Show as they get ready for work. Pastor Jones stands up on Sunday morning quoting the most shocking of those numbers, and at lunch that afternoon, a group of elderly ladies in a booth at the local diner say, “Did you hear that 98 percent of teenage girls are prostitutes and drink a gallon of alcohol per hour?”
So don’t pay any attention to those email “forwards” and don’t believe the gossip. Check your sources (I wrote about this in detail before). That’s why you will always see us link our sources, so you can 1.) know the validity of what you’re reading, and 2.) take a look at the research with your own eyes.
Here’s some of the latest research on media in the lives of young people.
How Saturated Are We?
This month, Pew Internets’ researcher Amanda Lenhart released a helpful little presentation about the Impact of Technology on the Lives of American Teens. (I told you we linked our sources!) In this little slideshow, Lenhart tries to cut through the hype and get straight to the facts about exactly how media saturated Americans are.
Here are some of the specifics you might find noteworthy from her study—a great summary about how plugged in teenagers are today:
• 93 percent of teenagers 12-17 are online—the largest percentage of any age group.
• Only 8 percent of families with teens have no computer, and only 4 percent of homes with computers don’t have access to Internet.
• 80 percent of teens 12-17 own a game console.
• 75 percent of all teens have a cell phone.
• A typical teen sends about 50 texts per day.
• Most teen cell phone users make 1-5 calls per day.
• 31 percent of teens who take their phones to school send text messages every day during class time.
• 73 percent of teens are on social Internet sites (like Facebook).
• Only 8 percent of teens use Twitter (compared to 37 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds—the largest percentage of any age group).
• 14 percent of teens now blog, compared to 28 percent in 2006.
• I encourage you to check out Amanda Lenhart’s slideshow on the subject. It’s ready-made for you, a great tool you can use to educate parents or leaders about media saturated teenagers today. Amanda is sharp, a trustworthy researcher (some of you might remember when I talked with her in December of 2009 regarding her study about sexting among minors).
As thorough as Amanda’s report was, it didn’t deal with the amount of time kids are actually simmering in front of the TV, the computer or listening to music. There are several good sources to find this data, the most thorough being the 2010 entertainment media consumption report from Kaiser. We already wrote quite a bit about this report when it was released, but here is a chart revealing exactly how many hours per day students are absorbing entertainment media in recent years, compared to the past:

According to this sobering report, kids are now soaking in 10 hours and 45 minutes per day of media in a mere 7 hours and 38 minutes. (This requires multitasking. In other words, they are listening to iTunes while browsing the web, all while the TV is on in the background.) You probably noticed that this is an increase of over two hours of daily entertainment media saturation since 2004.
Whenever I show this chart at my parenting workshops, parents are always surprised that kids spend more time watching TV than they do browsing the Internet. But the numbers don’t lie (I’ve blogged about this before), TV still rules the media war. For now, American Idol, Glee and Jersey Shore are still snaring more time from teenagers than Facebook is.
Our Response
So how do we respond to this kind of media saturation?
As parents, we should take the advice from the experts. The American Academy of Pediatrics released a report in August of 2010 titled Sexuality, Contraception and the Media. The doctors in this report shared some pretty shocking facts about the effects of media on young people. Here’s just a glimpse:
• More than 75 percent of prime-time programs contain sexual content.
• Only 14 percent of these incidents mention any risks or responsibilities of sexual activity.
• Talk about sex on TV can occur as often as 8 to 10 times per hour.
• Between 1997 and 2001 alone, the amount of sexual content on TV nearly doubled.
• Listening to sexually degrading lyrics is associated with earlier sexual intercourse.
• Out of nine longitudinal studies seeking to answer whether sexy media contributes to early sexual activity, seven of these studies have shown that exposure to sexual content in TV and other media in early adolescence can as much as double the risk of early sexual intercourse.
• Early exposure to sexual content doubled the risk of teen pregnancy.
• Bedroom TVs are associated with greater substance use and sexual activity by teenagers.
• Research is clear that parents need to take an active role in talking with their kids about media guidelines, and setting up realistic media guidelines. This report actually offers some great advice to parents, including limiting screen time, prohibiting media in bedrooms and “co-viewing” media with kids. (Jonathan discusses these guidelines and what they might look like in his book Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent.)
Where do you draw the line?
Do your kids have a TV in their bedrooms? Do you know what’s on their iPods? Like I said earlier this week in my blog about the connection between listening to pop music and depression, “The iPod is the window to the heart.”
On the proactive side: Have you made an effort to “co-view” programming with your kids? Have you tried using media as conversation jump-starters? Check out some of the resources we provide on our webpage to help you dialogue with young people about media. Parents, you can use our MOVIE REVIEWS & QUICK Q’s page to co-view films with your teenagers and then ask them questions at the end of the film. We provide you with our two cents about the film and some discussion questions to provoke conversation. Also consider using our MUSIC DISCUSSIONS page, using current songs to talk with your teenagers about important issues.
Youth workers, we provide the same resources, customized for a youth ministry setting on our youth ministry page www.TheSource4YM.com. Just use the FREE RESOURCES & IDEAS dropdown menu on the top left hand side of the page.
However you choose to do it, become familiar with the media your kids are immersed in daily. Talk with them about the content they are absorbing, and don’t be afraid to set media guidelines. Saying no—while not always popular—is usually pretty healthy. Too often, the parents at our parenting seminars are on the brink of throwing in the towel. Don’t do that; there are lots of tools at your disposal to help you help your teens make wholesome media choices.
We can’t give up because the only thing beyond “media saturation” is “media drowning.”

Happy National Adoption Awareness Month

Happy National Adoption Awareness Month

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and we want to spend this month raising awareness about the life-saving act of adoption. We are celebrating by putting all of our “Adoption Saves Lives” merch on sale! We have many different options and colors available – t-shirts, v-necks, tanks, ladies’ cut shirts and tanks, ¾ baseball sleeves and even long sleeve ladies tees as well as bumper stickers and buttons. Everything that reads, “Adoption Saves Lives” is on sale and all orders will be shipped within 24 hours. That will give you time to order your shirt and wear it all month. To see what we have and to place your order click here.


Post on social media about why you love adoption. For example, you can say something like, “I love adoption, it saved my life,” or “I wish to adopt children when I get older.” Make sure to use the hashtag #adoptionsaveslives in your post. If you’re a Street Team member, this action is good for 500 street team points, just make sure to use #adoptionsaveslives and send us a screenshot of your post just in case.

Also, if you have an “Adoption Saves Lives” shirt, post it on social media and use #adoptionsaveslives and send us a screenshot. If you are a Street Team member, this action is good for 1000 street team points. If you don’t have one, get one soon!

If you aren’t a Rock for Life Street Team member click here to check it out and click here to sign up.

Volunteers Still Needed for January

Each year Rock for Life participates in the March for Life and a number of surrounding pro-life events in the Washington, D.C. area and we need volunteers!

We will be exhibiting at youth conferences, the March for Life Expo, participating in the March for Life and various pro-life activism efforts. If you are pro-life and want to be more involved in Rock for Life and have a desire to serve, then this could be for you!

There are many opportunities to volunteer, and lodging, meals, local transportation and free pro-life swag are available to a select number of individuals. If this is something you are interested in, please reply at your earliest convenience.

We will need volunteers in the Washington, DC area from January 26th – 28th, 2017.

This January will mark the 44th year since Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, U.S. Supreme Court decisions that gave us abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason or no reason at all. It is time we show our government, our nation, and the world that we are pro-life, and we are the pro-life generation that will abolish abortion.

Free T-Shirt Fridays

Every Friday we are giving away a free t-shirt through one of our social media networks. Make sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and check in on Fridays to find out how YOU can enter for a chance to win. It’s fast, easy and fun!

What Happens When a Megachurch Tries to Get "Personal"

What Happens When a Megachurch Tries to Get "Personal"

If you’ve ever visited or attended a megachurch, you know they try their hardest to make a large church feel like a cozy family.
Everything from the announcements that look like they could have been produced by Steven Spielberg to the sheer amount of children in Sunday School betray the fact that this is church on a mass-produced scale.
And this is precisely what John Crist pokes fun at in this video. Now don’t get him wrong, he’s not necessarily against megachurches, but just pointing out a couple issues that crop up, particularly with kidmin, at these massive churches.
After all, if we can’t laugh at ourselves, how are we ever going to grow?

Matt Redman Turns Times Square into a Worship Room with ‘10,000 Reasons’

Matt Redman Turns Times Square into a Worship Room with ‘10,000 Reasons’

Watch Matt Redman sing his hit worship song “10,000 Reasons” live in Times Square, New York in the following video.
The advertisements in the background are flashing, promoting different products and services, while Redman and the band sing praises to God.
It’s moving to see so many people raising their hands in worship, while the camera pans to other people in the crowd who look like they may never have seen a group of people worshipping God so publicly before.
The video gives a beautiful glimpse into what it looks like when we worship God in the midst of a secular culture.

Kamis, 03 November 2016

Rejection From Man Doesn’t Mean Rejection From God

Rejection From Man Doesn’t Mean Rejection From God

Rejection from Man Doesn’t Mean Rejection from God
“Nothing in this world can permanently strip hope from our lives.”
“For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16 (NIV)
There’s nothing quite like waiting 15 years to receive a phone call. When it finally came, it was the slightest crack in the doorway of my dream to be a speaker.
I was hesitantly excited. When you have wanted something for a long time and it comes close enough to become a reality, it’s thrilling and terrifying all at the same time.
Suddenly, your heart shifts from neutral into this vulnerable place where acceptance commingles with rejection. And you are all too aware, things could go either way.
So, I packaged up a CD of one of my talks and sent it off. And I let my mind prematurely celebrate.
Then I waited.
And waited.
And nothing.
Feeling like a foolish girl who’d bought a prom dress before actually being asked to the dance, I sheepishly called to inquire whether or not the CD had been received. I was told it had been and if I hadn’t heard anything yet, I should assume it was a “No.”
That’s when you go sit on your back deck, close your eyes and decide whether to let the tears slip quietly down your cheeks or blink them back in an act of courageous defiance.
Rejection stinks.
I mean it really stinks.
It stunk when no guy asked me to couple skate in the 5th grade. It stunk when when my dad left our family. It stunk when I thought I was getting engaged at the very dinner when my college boyfriend broke up with me. It stunk when for years, all of my book proposals were declined by publishers. And it stunk when I sat on my deck and processed this situation.
Sometimes things like this just simply stink and there’s no cheery rainbow or pot of gold around the next corner. The music doesn’t crescendo as the hero in the story swoops you onto the side of his horse and the two of you ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after.
Sometimes it just is what it is. And that’s that.
But God’s girls have a beautiful promise tucked in our pockets that lets us smile even when tears puddle in the corner of our eyes. Even when there’s no rainbow, pot of gold or galloping prince—we have the promise of resurrection.
On the other side of death there will always be a resurrection of some sort. Maybe not a resurrection of our circumstances. And maybe not a resurrection of things lining up like we thought they should. But there will be a resurrection.
Jesus has insured that.
Nothing in this world can permanently strip hope from our lives when we know “we do not follow cleverly invented stories about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” but we follow the reality of the Risen One (2 Peter 1:16).
The One who was well-acquainted with rejection. The One who was betrayed, abandoned, beaten, crucified and buried. The One death could not hold down.
He is our resurrection.
He is our hope.
He is that beautiful reminder that rejection from man doesn’t equal rejection from God.
And He is the One who is weaving a story into our life that will one day make sense.
Dear Jesus, You know what rejection feels like. That’s why You are the perfect One for me to run to when I feel rejected. Today, I’m bringing you the broken pieces of my heart and asking You to stir hope deep within me again. Rejection did not get to have the final say in Your life, and I am choosing to believe it will not have the final say in mine either. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Free Youth Lesson Package: “Jesus and Loving Others”

Free Youth Lesson Package: “Jesus and Loving Others”

Teach Jesus and Loving Others to your students and help challenge them to embrace a life of loving others.

Free Youth Lesson Package

From YM360, “Let’s face it: It can be hard for teenagers to live as Christ-followers in their day-to-day life. And a lot of this has to do with other people’s perceptions of what it means to be a Christian. The world has so much to say about who Christ-followers are, most of it misguided. How can teenagers accurately portray who they are in Christ? According to Jesus, one of the most effective ways can be summed up in one phrase: loving others.”
This lesson package includes:
  • Bible background
  • Lesson plan
  • Discussion questions

Get Download Now

Resource provided by YouthMinistry360.com

Should Teens Have Snapchat?

Should Teens Have Snapchat?

Should Teens Have Snapchat?
Five things to think about when it comes to Snapchat and kids.
Remember the good ol’ days when our biggest concern was the 3,000+ texts our daughters averaged per month?
Sure, young people still text, but with 84 percent of 12- to 17-year-old mobile subscribers having smartphones this year…apps are the new gateways of communication.
So what is the favorite communication app used by young people today?
Snapchat, “by a landslide.”
“Snapchat because it’s pretty much just texting, but with pictures of my beautiful face.” —a 16-year-old
Snapchat probably needs no introduction. It’s the extremely popular app that allows kids to take a picture or video, type about 40 characters, and then send it to whoever they choose…but then the content disappears between one and 10 seconds after being viewed.
Kind of. (More on that in a minute)
Snap is going gangbusters. They even expect to launch Snap glasses, called Spectacles, later this year. It’s a fun way to communicate. Young people love sending Snap’s quick pics to each other with its creative coloring options and its cool filters. That’s probably why it’s become one of teens’ and tweens’ favorite communication tools.
Yes, it’s kind of confusing when people talk about teens’ “favorite” apps. You’ll read one article talking about how kids’ favorite “brand” is YouTube (no doubt, a very popular site among young people), then you’ll read countless others (Statista, AdWeek, Pew…) citing Facebook and Instagram as the social media site most teens have, with Snap coming in third. Just bear in mind, some of those studies are now a year old, which we all know in tech years is like a zillion years old! And some of those studies aren’t asking, “What app do young people actually USE when they want to talk with their friends throughout the day?”
This is where Snap rules the roost.
My own daughters and their friends (now 19 and 21) use it constantly. That’s why Lori and I have it. We can keep up with what our girls are doing day to day (they are in college 500 miles away).
“So much homework!” – sent with a picture of their laptop open next to a stack of books.
“Morning coffee run!” – sent with a picture of their favorite Starbucks mug.
“Jealous!!!” – sent with a selfie, with jaw dropped, in response to Mom’s snap of the piece of cake she was eating.
Snapchat isn’t that perfect photo that users spend seven minutes doctoring to look better than reality. It’s a tool people use to show their friends what they are doing or feeling at that very moment, with an image that won’t be posted on a wall somewhere forever. It’s a “less demanding way to share than Facebook or Instagram.”
But it’s that very perception that pics are “ephemeral” or “temporary” that had most experts concerned about the app on the onset, myself included. It’s no secret that when the app launched, it was created as a safe way to sext.
After all…the picture disappears…right?
This is where parents really need to educate their kids about apps in general. Parents shouldn’t just provide a list of good apps and bad apps. That list will become outdated before the ink dries. Instead, parents should help their kids learn how to make wise social media decisions. For example:
Nothing you send or post is ever temporary. Snapchat is no exception (more about that here). So be careful when an app claims that the content “disappears.” Don’t ever post a comment or picture that you don’t want your dad, pastor, future boss and future spouse to see. Ninety-three percent of hiring managers will review a candidate’s social profile before making a hiring decision. And even if your boss misses it, there’s a day when all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open (Luke 8:17). So live your lives in a way that silences any accusers (I Peter 2:15).
Anonymity is actually only perceived anonymity, and it breeds carelessness. The world is embracing anonymity because people like a lack of accountability. But the truth is, we are all accountable for our actions and our comments (I Peter 4:11).
So if you decide to let your kids use Snapchat, then make sure they understand two things:
These pictures and comments are being routed through a server where people have access to them. Yes, some random tech guy in Venice, California, can see what you just sent to your boyfriend.
Your boyfriend can screenshot that picture and message you just sent. Sure, now Snapchat has a notification when someone screenshots you, but isn’t that a little too late? And many are discovering ways to circumvent these speedbumps.
So let me ask the question that I’m asked frequently from parents at my parent workshop:
Should I let my kids use Snapchat?
And my answer is: depends.
Again, I’m not one to provide you lists of good and bad apps. Don’t get me wrong, I like it when media experts like Common Sense Media post articles about the anonymous apps kids are using. But parents must always remember to not just give our kids a fish…but teach them to fish.
So if your kid wants Snapchat—consider this:
• How old are they? Most experts say that kids shouldn’t even have a phone until 12 years old, and most social media platforms don’t even allow kids under 13, thanks to the Children Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). And Snapchat has had its fair share of run-ins with COPPA already. So if your 11-year-old asks you to be on Snapchat, you have an easy out. “Sorry Brianne, it’s the law.”
• Do they understand that Snapchat pictures are not truly temporary? Educate them about some of these realities before they hit download.
• Are they exhibiting good discernment? Like most apps, Snapchat users have the ability to follow and view all kinds of people posting all kinds of content posted as “stories.” So kids must learn good discernment with Snapchat just like they do with TV, music, Google and every other entertainment media and social media outlet.
• If you do decide to let them have Snapchat, then you get it too. Use it as a fun way to communicate back and forth with them throughout the day. Monitor their stories to see what they are posting (realizing, all their posts aren’t posted to their “Story”).
• If they’re older—like 16 or 17—educate them, and let them make the decision. Learn to ask them good questions that lead them toward truth. Remember, when your kid turns 18, they have the freedom to move out and start making these decisions for themselves. Then they can download whatever they want. Are you using your time with them to prepare them for that day?
JONATHAN McKEE is the author of over 20 books, including 52 WAYS TO CONNECT WITH YOUR SMARTPHONE OBSESSED KID. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide. Bring him to your city.
This article originally appeared here.

7 Ways Reality Has Changed for Today’s Teens

7 Ways Reality Has Changed for Today’s Teens

7 Ways Reality Has Changed for Today's Teens
Looking at the new pressures and difficulties faced by today’s teengers.
The world is changing.
Teenage culture is always changing.
And what today’s teens are struggling with will always be changing.
It’s tough being a teen these days.
Here’s a list of a few new realities today’s teens are facing:
Cyber bullying is drastically on the rise. Somewhere between 4-25 percent of teens have been cyber bullied. Now if you work with teens, you know that more teens are being cyber bullied than 25 percent. What teen wants to publicly admit they are bullied? Not many. I would say that well over 60 percent have either been cyber bullied or are participating in the cyber bullying. Being cyber bullied means you are bullied on social networking sites, text message, email, picture/video chat and instant message.
Decrease in adult support. One of the biggest development needs for today’s teens is that they need more healthy, trusted and caring loving adults in their life. The ongoing adult support and guidance offered for today’s teens is on a big downward slope. Dr. Comer, Professor of Child Psychiatry at Yale University, commented that this decline in adult support is a huge crisis in our country.
Exposed to porn earlier. With 12 percent of all websites on the Internet being pornographic and 2.5 billion emails per day pornographic in nature—that is 8 percent of all emails—I think it is safe to say all kids have seen or looked at porn. Studies have found that the average kid first saw porn at age 11. It’s imperative youth ministries talk about porn to students and parents. Most Christian parents are in denial their son or daughter has seen porn.
Super stressed. I think it is safe to say today’s teens are the most stressed out generation in history. The American Psychological Association found that millennials (aged 18 to 35) are significantly more stressed than the “average” stress level, while older generations struggle less with stress. Chap Clark in Hurt 2.0 found “that mid-adolescents are about as busy as humanly possible. They average five to six hours of sleep a night. The busyness they embrace keeps them from having to reflect on their dreams, their relationships and their lives.” Articles in the Business Insider, Fusion.net and The New York Daily News all have talked about how and why this teenage generation is really stressed out.
The pursuit of fame. Studies show there has been a 30 percent increase (in the last 30 years) in teenage narcissism. More kids today think they are more awesome than everyone else. Many teens struggle with narcissism because they are constantly faced with social media, reality TV and technology that tell them they are stars and entitled to do and say whatever they want.
Children aged 9 to 11 now hold “fame” as their No. 1 value. Fame ranked 15th in 1997. —Journal of Psychology Research on Cyberspace
Self Diagnosed ADD. The emerging generation is bombarded by multiple streams of digital information, and the overflow is overwhelming students. Everything electronic is vying for bits and pieces of their time, and they’re clueless about how to time manage and prioritize tasks. The result is that students often self-diagnose themselves as ADHD as a cop-out, which gives teens permission not to focus. R.A. Barkley, an ADHD scholar, notes that “teens with ADHD generally begin high school with serious delays in self-regulation skills, weak self-discipline, and an inability to analyze and reflect on their own behavior and actions.”
Early Puberty. Teenage guys are starting puberty up to two years earlier than decades ago, new data show. Teenage girls reach puberty today at earlier ages than were ever recorded previously. Nutritional and other environmental influences may be responsible for this change. For example, the average age of the onset of menstrual periods in girls was 15 in 1900. By the 1990s, this average had dropped to 12 and a half years of age. In another words, our teens are biologically and psychological becoming adults faster.
Jeremy Zach

Jeremy Zach

Jeremy Zach easily gets dissatisfied with status quo. He reeks with passion and boredom is not in his vocabulary. He becomes wide awake when connecting with student pastors, thinking and writing about student ministry, experimenting with online technology, and working out. He is married to Mikaela and has two calico cats, Stella and Laguna. He lives in Alpharetta, Georgia and is a XP3 Orange Specialist for Orange—a division of the REthink Group. Zach holds a Communication degree from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities and Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary.