Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Don't Know This Lady, But...

Bubba Crowder sent this blog to me and everything I have seen regarding this dear lady points to her being a believer.  I have never heard her speak nor have I read anything regarding her doctrine or testimony; however, she wrote two pieces on her blog that I thought it would be worth you reading, but also to get your students in your home to read. You know that my focus is always speaking to the heart with the Word when dealing with our children, but the points Mrs. Conner makes to young ladies and young men are outstanding and worth a read.

Ten Things I Want To Tell Teenage Girls

UPDATE: Ten Things I Want To Tell Teenage Girls is going to be a book! Three “Ten Things” books are slated to be released September 2014 from Broadman & Holman Publishers (LifeWay Christian Resources). Official announcement is here. Get excited!

1. If you choose to wear shirts that show off your boobs, you will attract boys.
To be more specific, you will attract the kind of boys that like to look down girls’ shirts. If you want to date a guy who likes to look at other girls’ boobs and chase skirts, then great job; keep it up. If you don’t want to date a guy who ogles at the breasts of other women, then maybe you should stop offering your own breasts up for the ogling. All attention is not equal. You think you want attention, but you don’t. You want respect. All attention is not equal.

2. Don’t go to the tanning bed. You’ll thank me when you go to your high school reunion and you look like you’ve been airbrushed and then photoshopped compared to the tanning bed train wrecks formerly known as classmates – well, at least next to the ones that haven’t died from skin cancer.

3. When you talk about your friends “anonymously” on Facebook, we know exactly who you’re talking about. People are smarter than you think they are. Stop posting passive-aggressive statuses about the myriad of ways your friends disappoint you.

4. Newsflash: the number of times you say “I hate drama” is a pretty good indicator of how much you love drama. Non-dramatic people don’t feel the need to discuss all the drama they didn’t start and aren’t involved in.

5. “Follow your heart” is probably the worst advice ever.

6. Never let a man make you feel weak or inferior because you are an emotional being. Emotion is good; it is nothing to be ashamed of. Emotion makes us better – so long as it remains in it’s proper place: subject to truth and reason.

7. Smoking is not cool.

8. Stop saying things like, “I don’t care what anyone thinks about me.” First of all, that’s not true. And second of all, if it is true, you need a perspective shift. Your reputation matters – greatly. You should care what people think of you.

9. Don’t play coy or stupid or helpless to get attention. Don’t pretend something is too heavy so that a boy will carry it for you. Don’t play dumb to stroke someone’s ego. Don’t bat your eyelashes in exchange for attention and expect to be taken seriously, ever. You can’t have it both ways. Either you show the world that you have a brain and passions and skills, or you don’t. There are no damsels in distress managing corporations, running countries, or managing households. The minute you start batting eyelashes, eyelashes is all you’ve got.

10. You are beautiful. You are enough. The world we live in is twisted and broken and for your entire life you will be subjected to all kinds of lies that tell you that you are not enough. You are not thin enough. You are not tan enough. You are not smooth, soft, shiny, firm, tight, fit, silky, blonde, hairless enough. Your teeth are not white enough. Your legs are not long enough. Your clothes are not stylish enough. You are not educated enough. You don’t have enough experience. You are not creative enough.

There is a beauty industry, a fashion industry, a television industry, (and most unfortunately) a pornography industry: and all of these have unique ways of communicating to bright young women: you are not beautiful, sexy, smart or valuable enough.

You must have the clarity and common sense to know that none of that is true. None of it.
You were created for a purpose, exactly so. You have innate value. You are loved more than you could ever comprehend; it is mind-boggling how much you are adored. There has never been, and there will never be another you. Therefore, you have unique thoughts to offer the world. They are only yours, and we all lose out if you are too fearful to share them.
You are beautiful. You are valuable. You are enough.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hard to "Do Life" by Text Message

We live in a culture that loves to text. In truth, I like to text - it is fast, gets to the point and I don’t have to deal with all the “formalities” of the phone call. We speed through the saying “bye” two or three times, the small talk and all the other things that go along with it. There are times a phone call is a must, just as there are other times a face to face meeting is must...and still other times through the day that text is just fitting. But, as parents we must be aware and we must teach our children that I can’t “do life" with someone by text. As people of God we need more interaction with each other than just by text:  we need to see one another, we need to read facial expressions, we need to be able to tell if something is going wrong or right. There are things conveyed in a conversation, voice inflections, looks, even humor can not be conveyed as easily through text. Sending a text letting someone know you are praying for them is okay to do some times, but actually praying with them is much better. I can’t do Matthew 18 by text: I can’t biblically confront through a text as this takes grace, relationship, concern, and none of these an be displayed through at text. Below is an article by CNN (who is by no means a bastion of biblical literacy) which should be a warning sign to us as parents and should cause us to think through how to prepare them to “do life” not simply in this world, but in the body of Christ.

(CNN) -- You do not want to talk to me on the phone. How do I know? Because I don't want to talk to you on the phone. Nothing personal, I just can't stand the thing.

I find it intrusive and somehow presumptuous. It sounds off insolently whenever it chooses and expects me to drop whatever I'm doing and, well, engage. With others! When I absolutely must, I take the call, but I don't do a very good job of concealing my displeasure. A close family member once offered his opinion that I exhibit the phone manners of a goat, then promptly withdrew the charge — out of fairness to goats.
So it was with profound relief that I embraced the arrival of e-mail and, later, texting. They meant a conversation I could control — utterly. I get to say exactly what I want exactly when I want to say it. It consumes no more time than I want it to and, to a much greater degree than is possible with a phone call, I get to decide if it takes place at all. That might make me misanthropic. It surely makes me a crank. But it doesn't make me unusual.

The telephone call is a dying institution. The number of text messages sent monthly in the U.S. exploded from 14 billion in 2000 to 188 billion in 2010, according to a Pew Institute survey, and the trend shows no signs of abating. Not all of that growth has come out of the hide of old-fashioned phoning, but it is clearly taking a bite — particularly among the young.

Americans ages 18-29 send and receive an average of nearly 88 text messages per day, compared to 17 phone calls. The numbers change as we get older, with the overall frequency of all communication declining, but even in the 65 and over group, daily texting still edges calling 4.7 to 3.8. In the TIME mobility poll, 32% of all respondents said they'd rather communicate by text than phone, even with people they know very well. This is truer still in the workplace, where communication is between colleagues who are often not friends at all. "No more trying to find time to call and chit-chat," is how one poll respondent described the business appeal of texting over talking.

The problem, of course, is what's lost when that chit-chat goes. Developmental psychologists studying the impact of texting worry especially about young people, not just because kids are such promiscuous users of the technology, but because their interpersonal skills — such as they are — have not yet fully formed. Most adults were fixed social quantities when they first got their hands on a text-capable mobile device, and while their ability to have a face-to-face conversation may have eroded in recent years, it's pretty well locked in. Not so with teens. As TIME has reported previously, MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle is one of the leading researchers looking into the effects of texting on interpersonal development. Turkle believes that having a conversation with another person teaches kids to, in effect, have a conversation with themselves — to think and reason and self-reflect. "That particular skill is a bedrock of development," she told me.

Turkle cites the texted apology — or what she calls "saying 'I'm sorry' and hitting send" — as a vivid example of what's lost when we type instead of speak. "A full-scale apology means I know I've hurt you, I get to see that in your eyes," she says. "You get to see that I'm uncomfortable, and with that, the compassion response kicks in. There are many steps and they're all bypassed when we text." When the apology takes place over the phone rather than in person, the visual cues are lost, of course, but the voice — and the sense of hurt and contrition it can convey — is preserved.

Part of the appeal of texting in these situations is that it's less painful — but the pain is the point. "The complexity and messiness of human communication gets shortchanged," Turkle says. "Those things are what lead to better relationships."

Habitual texters may not only cheat their existing relationships, they can also limit their ability to form future ones since they don't get to practice the art of interpreting nonverbal visual cues. There's a reason it's so easy to lie to small kids ("Santa really, truly did bring those presents") and that's because they're functional illiterates when it comes to reading inflection and facial expressions. As with real reading, the ability to comprehend subtlety and complexity comes only with time and a lot of experience. If you don't adequately acquire those skills, moving out into the real world of real people can actually become quite scary. "I talk to kids and they describe their fear of conversation," says Turkle. "An 18-year-old I interviewed recently said, 'Someday, but certainly not now, I want to learn to have a conversation.'"

Adults are much less likely to be so conversation-phobic, but they do become conversation-avoidant — mostly because it's easier. Texting an obligatory birthday greeting means you don't have to fake an enthusiasm you're not really feeling. Texting a friend to see what time a party starts means you don't also have to ask "How are you?" and, worse, get an answer.

The text message is clearly here to stay and even the most zealous phone partisans don't
recommend avoiding it entirely. But mix it up some — maybe even throw in a little Skyping or Facetime so that when you finally do make a call you're actually seeing and interacting with another person. Too much texting, Turkle warns, amounts to a life of "hiding in plain sight."

And the thing about hiding is, it keeps you entirely alone.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why TBC Has Family Driven Ministry:

In his book, Revolutionary Parenting, researcher George Barna states that:

  • Most of our children are biblically illiterate.
  • Less than one out of five kids believes that sharing her faith is important;

  • Less than half believe that their faith is important to their lives;

  • More than half believe Jesus sinned just like us while he was on earth.

  • One quarter of our children do not believe there is a God;

  • Just over half believe that God is all-knowing, all powerful, and rules over creation.

When I read these stats I was deeply saddened, but grew even deeper in my conviction that at Trinity, our goal will always be to partner with parents and help equip them rather than embracing the traditional idea of “let the professional ministers take care of your children.” We do not want a children’s ministry or student ministry that consistently allows our young people to live on a island. They are not the church of tomorrow any more than the Senior Adults are the church of yesterday. We have stated multiple times that we need all types and ages of people in the fellowship together, working and serving side by side. Now, this certainly doesn’t mean there is never a reason for separation of men and women or boys and girls; even among ages there are times that we can get in different groups. But, as the body we must not be people who only desire to be with people in the same “life phase” or age as we are in. We have a Bible study for men and boys of all ages because I want my teenagers to see other men, of different ages serving the one true God. We have men and women’s Bible studies so different ages can come together. I don’t want to teach my boys that if they are out they will get a call from a Bible study teacher, but rather that they need to be there because they are called to be in the body to serve: they are there not only for the glory and worship of God, but to love and minister to others. It is one thing for a 3 year old to just think church is about them, but my 13 year old should understand that we don’t gather for him, we gather for the benefit of the body and the worship of God. You may be wondering what all this has to do with the statistics that are in Barna’s book: it’s very simple, the Word of God tells us we should be teaching our children as we are walking, talking, lying down, sitting.....The point is that this should be happening as a natural part of our life, not as a one time event each week on Sunday. As a parent I must be growing if I am going to disciple anothercould it be that many of our children are “biblically illiterate” because so many of our adults are biblically illiterate? Could it be that less than 20% of our children believe that sharing their faith is important because they have never seen their parents at any point, in any arena share their faith? When they watch parents choose ball, band and any other hobby over gathering with the Body of Christ is there anything else they can conclude except that faith is not really that important? We ask them what they learned at school but really are not that concerned what they got out of the church service, after all if we “make them go” they will hate it when they are older (sarcasm). By the way, does it work the same way with school? If we make them go will they eventually drop out and never get a degree? Certainly not, but the question is why? Because we tell them, we demonstrate to them by our homes, our trips our hobbies the “why” of school and work. Sadly, many parents can not articulate, must less demonstrate the why of worship.

This need for emphasis on the Christian walk of our children is the reason we have a book table and offer resources such as, Truths That Make Your Heart Sing, The Jesus Storybook Bible and books on catechisms to do with your family. This is the reason we want your children to hear the Word of God preached at church but also at home. If your teenager can sit in church as the Word is preached and at the conclusion of each sermon they can declare, “I just don’t get it” that should not only burden you but it should put the onus upon you to keep teaching, explaining, talking and praying until they do get it. All of us are a part of this job in this body; it is my prayer and great desire that we are raising up a generation that is spiritually abnormal in the culture we live in today.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sounding Sweet and Being Wrong

I am afraid that as believers we have put such an emphasis on the wrong things, we have missed the ability to stand with grace on the right things. This goes from the way we view marriage, to they way we present the Gospel. We will have more to say on this in a later blog, but I want to begin with a true story of the Saturday night before Easter Sunday.
We had some of our people send me links to a church service in which the Pastor got up and said that many of them had been told all their lives that Jesus died on the cross because of their sin..."but that is just wrong!" "It is not because of your sin that Jesus died on the cross.  It is because of His love that Jesus died on the cross.  It just happened to be that your sin separated you from the love of God.  I want you to get that really clear in your head because there are alot of Christ followers who are basically beat up with guilt and condemnation.  Their understanding of a relationship with God is that they're the ones, in their sin made Jesus go to the cross.  Jesus had a choice."  It is true Christ loves His children, but to make this statement and tell a group of people this was “wrong” is to totally miss the Gospel and ignore most of Is. 53; 1st Corinth. 15:3; Heb. 9:28; Rm. 4:25 and countless other verses! To speak of the crucifixion and not declare the love and grace of God is an incomplete Gospel, but to skip the bad news and just run right to the good news causes the cross to make no sense at all. Without declaring the holiness of God, the demand that God gives that we are to be Holy, without understanding God’s hatred for sin... the cross makes no sense. In fact, to run right to the love of God while skipping over the Holiness of God, ignores the entire message of cross. Christ died for sin - and not for His sin (He was perfect) - He died for His Bride’s sin! 

Now He certainly died because of His amazing love, but in order to explain the Gospel you must include the “why” of the cross. The why must begin with our wickedness and God’s Holiness, and that the two cannot co-habitate! It seems as believers we long to be embraced by world, for the world to think we are cool, that we are people who really engage our culture... but we are missing the point. As believers we want to speak the truth in love, but by all means, speak the truth. I heard Voddie Baucham say before that most believers think the 11th Commandment is “Thou shalt be nice” and this command supersedes all other commandments. That is the attitude that is embraced by so many people. What the Pastor of the aforementioned church did sounded nice, but it was misleading.  In an effort to "be nice" and to help people not feel bad, he misrepresented the primary purpose of the cross - our sin left us with a debt we cannot pay and it must be dealt with.  He implied that guilt and condemnation are bad - but that is who we are before Christ in our own merit - He did love us enough to choose to take our sin upon Himself, but it IS because of our sin that death was necessary.  I must confront someone with the bad news before the “Good News” makes sense. It is the analogy that I have used many times before...if a doctor simply tells you that he would like to give you chemotherapy, that would sound crazy! However, if he spends some time telling you about the cancer that is in your body then cure, it would make perfect sense to take the treatment. The cure for our sin is wonderful: it is more than good news, it is the most amazing, wonderful news one could ever hear. However, it is pointless to mention the cross without explaining why the cross is necessary. 

We can’t rewrite the Gospel to make it more palatable in our day, we must proclaim it, the idea that there is an either/or mentality to discussing the love of God or the guilt of our sin when dealing with the cross is nothing short of a false gospel. To only mention God’s wrath and never mention His love would not accurately represent the cross, but to only mention God’s love and never mention His wrath is malpractice in the pulpit! We are waiters bringing in the Gospel! We don’t cook it, we don’t create the ingredients... we are called to simply deliver it the way it was prepared, and by all means we must get that right!

C. H. Spurgeon
There is no healing a man till the law has wounded him, no making him alive till the law has slain him.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Caution - Pretty Graphic - PG-13

Below is a blog found here www.martyduren.com/2013/02/08/schools-sex-and-degradation-losing-the-sacred  Please take the time to read this as I pray it brings a burden to your soul and passion in your heart to teach our children the truth about how God has created them and how everything He has created in this world is for His glory and not for our satisfaction!

Schools, sex, and degradation: losing the sacred
By Marty Duren Feb 8, 13 • Blog, Culture, Featured, Theology • 10 Comments

If you are the parent of a middle or high school student, consider posting this to any and all of their social media accounts. It may help them and may help their friends who read it.

We live in a world that no longer sends mixed messages about sex. Our world sends one message about sex: it is for anyone, any time, any where, without boundaries. Anything goes, any one is fair game, victims–if they even exist–are irrelevant.

For many if not most, sex is not sacred. It is not holy. It is not seen as special. It is not seen as a blessing of marriage. It is animalistic.
Too often sex is an expression of violence, not love; power, not kindness; aggression, not gentleness.

http://www.martyduren.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/4738057548_42c71e029f_z.jpg   Image credit: Troy Benson Photography

Girls in middle and high school are increasingly victimized by boys and young men whose erroneously developed view of females has been substantially shaped by pornography. Writing out of concern for his own young daughters, Cole Moreton helps explain this pervasive behavior, currently being acted out in British schools:
“Never before has girlhood been under such a sustained assault – from ads, alcohol marketing, girls’ magazines, sexually explicit TV programmes and the hard pornography that is regularly accessed in so many teenager’s bedrooms,” says the psychologist Steve Biddulph, currently touring the country to promote a book called Raising Girls.

[Boys] are under pressure too, being led to believe that girls will look and behave like porn stars. Our children are becoming victims of pornification. “It is usually girls who are on the receiving end of some pretty degrading stuff,” says Claire Perry MP, who has just been appointed David Cameron’s special adviser on the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood. “We’ve got young girls being asked to write their names on their boobs and send pictures. Parents would be really shocked to know this is happening in pretty much every school in the country. Our children are growing up in a very sexualised world.”

And it is not just in the Old Country. A 2010-2011 survey of American middle and high school students revealed 48 percent of students in grades 7-12 experienced some form of sexual harassment in person or electronically via texting, email and social media, according to a major national survey being released Monday by the American Association of University Women. The harassers often thought they were being funny, but the consequences for their targets can be wrenching, according to the survey. Nearly a third of the victims said the harassment made them feel sick to their stomach, affected their study habits or fueled reluctance to go to school at all.

Ongoing investigations in a Steubenville, Ohio rape case reveals high school behavior as perverse as anything a movie writer could concoct after a week of binge-drinking.

Critics say football’s dominance in the town makes them suspicious that authorities have been lax in investigating allegations involving Big Red players last August, when a 16-year-old West Virginia girl was allegedly carried, unconscious, from one teen party to another and sexually assaulted. [...] Two players were arrested and charged with the crime, but many locals think there were other players involved. Some social media activists have posted images, purportedly from the parties, that depict players who have not been charged with a crime. One video, of a now-former player joking about the girl’s condition and treatment, caused worldwide outrage when it went viral a few weeks ago.

The New Yorker adds, “What emerged was terrifying: rumor had it that she’d been repeatedly sexually assaulted at several parties, publicly dragged from house to house, unconscious, as a ‘joke.’”

We have, in large part, allowed society to explain the mechanics of sex, define the meaning of sex and erase the boundaries of sex. Its sacredness questioned, disbelieved and mocked. Unlike stray dogs in the yard where a bucket of water might separate, students grab smartphones and celebrate. Again from Moreton:
Kamal, a boy in the same [grade], says: “Say I got a girlfriend, I would ask her to write my name on her breast and then send it to me and then I would upload it on to Facebook or Bebo or something like that.” The profile picture on his phone, seen by everyone to whom he sends messages, is an image of his girlfriend’s cleavage. Some of the boys at his school have explicit images of up to 30 different girls on their phone. They swap them like we used to swap football cards. If they fancy a girl, they send her a picture of their genitals. As one teenage girl said after the report came out, sending pictures of your body parts is “the new flirting”.

Recall Moreton’s article which gets at the truth: girls are under a sustained assault, an assault that began in Eden and has not slowed. Consider this idiocy from one Missouri school: when one 13-year-old girl in Missouri reported being harassed about her breast size, her mother called the school district to put an end to her daughter’s humiliation. The school’s first response? The only way for the bullying to stop was for her daughter to undergo breast reduction surgery.

The problem, in the mind of this school employee, is not bullying or sexual harassment. The problem is obviously the girl’s breasts. If they were smaller all the fellows could get back to trigonometry. Or, more likely, underwater basket weaving. When victims are blamed, abusers are empowered. Take that to the bank.

The effects of hormones, sinfulness, alcohol and callousness make any middle or high school party suspect–off or on campus. By “suspect” I mean 100 percent off limits, especially for believers. These instances are not about reaching people with the gospel where they are; it is about protecting girls from unknowingly ingesting a date-rape-drug spiked drink. Parents who ignore this border on being brain dead. (My apologies to the brain dead for the insult.)

The effects of always available, easily accessible pornography cannot be overstated. Pornography is itself a fantasy; there is nothing real about it from the arranged scenarios to body parts. Porn, at its core, is about women saying “yes” to any sexual encounter, and meaning “yes” even when they say “no.” Everyone looks happy, everyone looks like they have had a good time.
This porn problem goes right into the hallways, classrooms and bathrooms in schools every day. These addictions sustain such a powerful grip some boys say they cannot go to sleep without watching porn. You really think this stays behind the bedroom door?

If you are a middle or high school student reading this understand: you are growing up in a culture that, for the most part, treats sex with disrespect. Since you are a sexual being (by God’s design) you may suffer disrespect as well. That which was designed to be intimate and personal is open and displayed. In this, sex is degraded to be much less that God designed it to be.  The sexual wholeness of our beings far, far surpasses the physical coupling of bodies. Animals can do that; animals regularly do that. You are not an animal; you are a person for whom there are emotional consequences to every act. A person for whom Jesus Christ died and was raised.

What has been one effect of this hyper-sexualization?  A recent report in USAToday, conducted by Market Tools Inc., found 42% of single men and women over the age of 21 would not date a virgin.
Stop and let that sink in for a while. Nearly half of single young adults would not date a person they knew to have no sexual experience.

Further results may reveal why: 44% of women and 63% of men had already had one-night stands. Nearly 1/3 said they’ve had sex by the third date, and forty-six percent by the sixth date. That means almost one in three single adults surveyed go to a movie on Friday, to dinner on Monday and to bed on Tuesday. Another 15 or so percent wait all the way until the following weekend before hopping in the sack.

Alley-cats everywhere salute you.

Young ladies, hear me: you are not an object to be pawed, groped, leered at, assaulted, abused, attacked, or sexualized. You need not give up your body and yourself to please any guy until a pastor or judge has pronounced you as married. Even if that guy gets what he wants, he will still not have what he needs. It is not your fault when parents, police, pastors or school administrators do not come to your defense. You bear the image of God and are worthy of respect.
Young men, hear me: God did not design you to be an aggressor, gawker, abuser, user, or predator. You show manliness at no greater point than when you stand on the side of victims, not when you join running train on them. Real men show restraint. Do not be afraid to swim firmly against the cultural tides for the sake of the gospel.
(Yes, I’m aware of role reversal. Sometimes girls are aggressors and boys are victims. In the realm of sexuality in American schools, however, girls seems to be suffering the most.)

Parents, you must be vigilant. Talk to your kids about bullying and harassment, and protect them. Have very frank discussions with teachers and administrators at their schools. But, most of all, teach them the sacredness of sex and sexuality from the biblical perspective. Model it for them. And pray for them without ceasing.