The Problem with Earbuds A great article from Jay Younts at Shepherd Press

Technology is amazing. As I am writing this post I have my earbuds plugged in  and I am listening to a track of my son playing the piano. That will be followed  by another track of a friend playing the cello. Both of these tracks were  recorded on my iPhone and then copied on to my computer. If I wish, I can  transfer these tracks to my iPod and easily play them anywhere. As I enjoy this  music, no one else in the house can hear what I am listening to. Herein lies the  problem. My family is not concerned about what I am hearing through the earbuds.  If I were a 9 year old or a 14 year old it might be a different story.

This Christmas, no doubt, many of your children received new or upgraded  portable listening devices (PLDs). Immediately, the concern is: “What will my  kids be listening to?” In an attempt to control things, you could demand that  your children show you the play lists on the PLDs. But, as I just indicated,  tracks can be added or deleted in an instant. Even with daily checking, parents  are really at the mercy of their children as to what they are listening to. What  is the answer? Ban PLDs altogether? This would likely create as many problems as  it solves. Another solution might be to have the children sign an agreement with  you that they will only listen to music that meets with your approval. This  solution would be of no more value than the first one. Or, you could just  pragmatically concede defeat and tell the kids to listen to whatever they want  to. This also is not a satisfying answer.

The answer lies not in restricting or avoiding technology and PLDs. Yes, you  will have to set boundaries and guidelines for your children regarding the music  they listen to. It would be good, particularly as they get older, to have them  interact with you about setting these guidelines and the appropriate  consequences for not meeting them. But, more than outward behavioral compliance  is needed. Remember the goal is to honor God in all things, even in using PLDs.  Once again we see it is the attitude of the heart that is the real issue.

Recall that the goal for your middle-aged children is to prepare them for the  times when you are not there to monitor their behavior. With your teenagers the  goal is to help them internalize the truth of the gospel in their lives. PLDs  offer an excellent opportunity to implement both of these goals.

Proverbs 6:21-22 provide the framework for your discussion about PLDs.  Solomon encourages his young listeners to have the biblical truths taught by  their parents to be an intimate part of their life:

Bind them always on your heart;     fasten them around your neck. When  you walk, they will guide you;     when you sleep, they will watch over  you;     when you awake, they will speak to you.

Here the goal fleshed out. The word of God is to be intimately connected to  your children’s inner being. The Spirit’s words are to interact with whatever  they encounter in life, or on a PLD.

I realize you can’t just tell your children to memorize Proverbs 6 and then  apply it whenever their PLD is on. What you can do is to model this relationship  with God’s word for them as you live your life with regard to the music you  listen to. Frank Sinatra is no better role model than Adele in helping to form a  biblical worldview. Talk about it. You can use the combination of pleasant words  and good listening skills to create the relational climate where your children  desire to talk with you. You can have the courage of the father in Proverbs 7 to  talk frankly about the sins of lust to prepare your kids for what lies  ahead.

In this way you can say something like this to your kids with a new or old  PLD. I have just put in the parents words below. You will need to leave room for  your kids to interact.

Hey, this PLD is really cool. When I was your age, we had to take the boombox  out to the garage if we wanted to listen to our music. Seriously, listening to  music on your PLD can be a great blessing or a curse. As we talked about, Mom  and I can’t monitor everything you listen to. But God is listening. He does not  ignore deceit. That is the important thing. We are going to trust you to use the  PLD well. If you choose not to, we will have to implement the guidelines we  talked about. What we want to see happening is that you will grow in discernment  as you listen. We don’t expect you to be perfect, but we do desire that you  grow. We will be here with you to work through these things. We pray that you  will have the courage to ask how the things you listen to will impact your  relationship with God. We pray that you will grow to understand how to view the  world more clearly and that you will know what music will help you and what  music will hinder you.

Think you are not there yet? Well then you have something to work on. Listen  well. Love as 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 directs. Speak with pleasant words. Pray  earnestly. Trust God. Good things will come.

Why Do 80% of Youth Leave Church After High School? A great article from Ray Comfort

There is a well-known statistic that tells us that 80% of youth stop  attending church after they graduate high school. As a parent, that’s the most  horrifying statistic in the world to me! Let me bring that closer to home, that  means, in a church youth group with 20 kids, over 15 will no longer go to church  after they graduate. In a home, 3 out of 4 of our kids statistically will  forsake fellowship by the time they’re 18. The cry of all of our hearts should  be “why”?!

I have heard many theories of why they leave: New temptations in college — no  mom and dad bubble to be a governor for their sinful nature, exposure to new  faiths and skeptical questions, not being properly discipled at home, going to  youth group, not going to youth group, not sufficiently understanding  creationism, etc. While these are real issues, I don’t believe any of them are  the reason they quit church.

I spoke with a youth pastor friend who spent half of his life serving youth  full-time, and with the firsthand empirical evidence of years of leading,  watching, mentoring, equipping, and counseling teenagers he said that he can  confidently say that most of them were not saved. They didn’t read the  Bible regularly, they didn’t share their faith, many were sexually active, many  experimented with drugs, they didn’t fight for godly fellowship, they were not  givers, dated unbelievers, and the list of goat-like qualities goes on. They  simply hadn’t been translated from darkness to light. They didn’t drift away  from God after high school; they weren’t with God during high school. They  drifted away from “church.”

The real question should be, how can we help our kids clearly understand the  gospel — the power of God to salvation, and then equip them to live as  believers.

Many of our youth genuinely don’t understand the gospel, the whole counsel of  God, and we often just presume that they do. And many churches and homes have  not taught our teens that an essential, fundamental part of being a disciple is  sharing the gospel, and then equipped them for that adventurous task.

Why did we create our new youth evangelism program “Roots”? Simply because there is practically no curriculum  out there for youth about evangelism. My wife and I have 3 grown children with  kids of their own. We wanted to create something to fill that desperate need in  the Body of Christ for families and for churches and for our grandchildren. We  want to have them hear the gospel, and then learn how they can bring it to  others.

The Prodigal Father A great article from Brian D. Molitor

There once was a home filled with a father, mother, a son and a daughter. One  day, Father left a note on the refrigerator that said: “Family, I am tired of  this life. I have quit my job and am leaving to find happiness.”

He then cleaned out the family bank account, grabbed the credit cards and  left home. Anxious for a fresh start, Father used the family minivan as down  payment on a flashy red sports car and bought lots of brand new suits, the kind  the young guys wear.

Without ever looking back, Father drove his shiny new car, top down, very  fast until he came to a far away city that had all he had ever dreamed of. He  checked into the best five-star hotel and had two porters carry his leather  luggage up the the top floor; his new home. Looking out over the city lights,  Father smiled, nodded and then dressed to hit the town as he would every night  in the weeks that followed.

There were no diapers to change, no lawn to mow, no more burgers and fries to  stretch the budget, and best of all, no messy kids clamoring for his attention  when it was his time to relax after work. Instead, Father enjoyed a steady diet  of rich foods, the best drinks money could buy, new friends that talked about  important things such as French wines and who’s who in Hollywood. Oh, and  instead of messy kids, Father had pretty women that sat on his lap, loudly  laughing, eager to tell him how wonderful he was. Finally, Father was truly  happy.

However, after one particularly riotous night of partying, Father saw the  reality of his new life. His head ached, his credit cards were maxed out and all  his money was gone. To make mattes worse, the fancy hotel kicked him out and  kept his new suits because of nonpayment. Father’s red sports car was  repossessed and he found himself on foot with only the clothes on his back. The  pain of lack opened his mind and he considered that his trendy friends and the  lovely ladies (that left as soon as he was broke) might actually be quite  miserable. Their hollow eyes and shallow lives begged for purpose beyond the  next party, but they were powerless to break away.

But this realization came too late, leaving Father lonely, thirsty and  hungry. “How I long to sit at my little kitchen table and fill my belly with the  simple food my wife would cook,” he thought. “And, I wish I could once again  hear the sound of my children’s laughter.”

A tiny spark of hope burst forth in Father’s heart, but a flash flood of  guilt quickly quenched it. “But, I have failed them and cannot be forgiven…. Yet, if I stay here, I will die.”

Confused, the broken man did the only thing that made sense and began walking  slowly back toward home, expecting the worst.

When Father was yet far off, his wife and children saw him. They ran to him  and kissed him, covering his pain with their love and washing away the stench of  his sin with their tears.

Father’s heart broke, as he fell to his knees and cried. “But, I have sinned  against Heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called the Father of  this home.”

Mother turned her face toward heaven and prayed a prayer of celebration. “Heavenly Father, thank you for hearing the heart cry of our children. For this  Father was dead and is alive again. He was lost and now is found.”

With that, the children took Father by the hand and led him back into their  lives.

Men … it’s time to go back home. Now.

Finding Purpose in “Broken Pieces!” A great article from Carl Kerby

While speaking recently at Calvary Chapel School of Ministry in Costa Mesa, I  had an interesting conversation with the dear man who started the school in  1989. He not only showed me pictures of every graduating class, he then  proceeded to identify every one of the graduates and tell where they currently  served in ministry. Many had graduated years before and yet more than 80% of the  graduates are still in ministry today! That’s an amazing success story.

I asked why so many of their graduates remain in ministry when it is common  that many leave ministry after only a few short years.  His answer, “We  train our people for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 2 years before they ever  leave here as a missionary or lay pastor.” Contrast that to the fact that up  to 88 percent of the children raised in evangelical homes leave church at  the age of 18, never to return.

If so much can be accomplished with intensive training during a short two  year period, how much more can we, as parents, pastors, Bible teachers, Sunday  School teachers and brothers and sisters in Christ, influence our youth in the  18 years from birth until they leave the nest?  Shouldn’t we be doing  exactly what this school is doing — training our youth to be missionaries,  ambassadors for the Lord, and equipping them with knowledge and understanding of  God and His Word?

I wonder how many homes spend even three hoursa  weekbiblically training their children? Our children are  being “trained” by the world, so if we aren’t training them at home it’s no  wonder that they’re walking away from their faith in such large numbers and  turning from the Lord to the ways of the world.

Let me be blunt, I’m not saying that you’ll need to spend many hours each day  teaching Bible lessons. What I am saying is that as parents we need to be  involved, and we need to take the Christian education of our children as  seriously as we do their other studies and activities.

In the course of researching family life in America, the Southern Baptist  Council on Family Life uncovered some gut-wrenching statistics.

“The majority of children in America have less than 10 minutes  of significant and meaningful conversation with their parents each week.”

Contrast that with the fact that the average amount of time a child spends in  school each week is seventeen hours. Seventeen hours a week versus 10 minutes a  week. Which will have the greater influence?

By the way, the research findings further stated…

“if you remove the mother, you can measure this statistic in  seconds.”

Now, what does that say about the influence of fathers on their children?  That’s a very sad statistic and it’s the reason that rforh is seriously  challenging dads to “step-up” and get more involved in their children’s lives  and education (especially biblical education). We’re in a battle — a battle for  the minds and hearts of our youth. We need to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) and get in the battle! We love our  children. Let’s love them enough to fight for them.

At rforh our battle cry has become, “Know it! Live it! Share  it!” — all for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our website,  and innumerable others, provide biblically sound resources to help parents and  other caring adults in strengthening, equipping, encouraging and challenging our  youth to be faithful in their walk with the Lord. Find something and use it.  OR…just open your Bible and start reading to them. The Holy Spirit is faithful  and He will lead them into all truth (John 16:13).

Don’t be out-witnessed by the world. Don’t let the world steal, kill and  destroy your child’s faith (John 10:10).

Intentionally and diligently set aside time every day to instruct and build  into your children. Jesus commanded that we “go…and teach all nations…” That  teaching includes right in our own backyards and in our own homes.

In order to help you accomplish this we have produced a series of short, fun,  fast paced, videos called deBUNKED!  In there we go after many claims that  are made about the Bible and Christianity, claims such as, “There’s  No Evidence For God!”, “The Bible Doesn’t Mean What it Says!” or  “Noah Couldn’t Fit All  of Those Animals on the Ark!” This series, also comes with a Study  Course that will help give you answers that will encourage you to share your  faith.  These are not long, drawn out studies, they can be accomplished in  about 15 minutes and are fun.

In addition, consider attending a “Love Worth Fighting For” with your spouse.  With over  50% of marriages ending in divorce, we must take the time to strengthen our  relationship with our spouse.

Regardless of where you get resources, get involved in teaching your child or  grand child.  Remember, they are gifts that have been given to us for such  a short amount of time.  By being obedient to Christ in this calling you  will bless them and, in turn, you will be blessed.

As I close, I ask you to think about your  children and the other children in your life. What  can you do to build into them with the Word of  God? I challenge you to find three resources and/or  Bible passages that will equip them to Know it! Live it! and Share  it!and then begin teaching them to your children.

Now maythe God of hope fill you with  all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the  Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Carl Kerby is the President and Founder of Reasons for Hope, a ministry dedicated to proclaiming the  authority and accuracy of the Bible.  They seek to engage the minds and hearts  of believers and unbelievers in today’s culture so that they may experience the  realities of the love of Christ.