Conversation Starter: Free

Posted by Phil

Living Beyond Yourself
John 16:5-15

Holy Spirit points us to our need for Christ and how we can receive Him

Conversation Starters

How can you keep this conversation going at home? Try bouncing some of these questions around at the dinner table, as you’re driving your kids to school or an activity, or even while you’re shopping together:

For Preschoolers
This week, spend some time talking with your preschooler about what makes God special. Emphasize things like “God loves you,” “God gives us what we need,” “God protects us,” and so forth.

For Children
What kinds of freedoms do we enjoy in our country? What sacrifices did people have to make so we could have those freedoms? How are these freedoms similar or different from the freedom God provided when Jesus died on the cross?

For Students
Why do we spend so much time trying to be free? When have really felt like you were really free?

If you had to describe the Holy Spirit to a friend, what would you say?
What is the hardest thing for you to understand about the Trinity?

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Winners or Losers?

Posted by Sharon

I learned some amazing lessons about life when I was a starting forward on the worst basketball team in the history of the world. We were a sloppy group of pre-pubescent sixth and seventh graders who took to the gym floor on Friday nights in the ugliest uniforms you’ve ever seen. With “St. Mark’s” emblazoned in road cone orange across the front of our jet black polyester jerseys, our hearty band of clumsy wannabes would begin warm-ups hoping “tonight’s the night we’ll win our first one.” We never allowed the fact that we had difficulty putting the ball through the hoop during the pre-game lay-up drill to shatter our dream.

But the dream that refused to die never materialized as we showed up each week to play in a church youth league where every team but ours was manned by towering muscle-bound high school seniors and juniors. For two seasons, we never gained control of the ball on the opening tip-off. In fact, it seemed like we never had the ball. And when the final buzzer sounded, we never walked off with the scoreboard tilted in our favor. No team ever scored less than 100 points against us. Our scrappy team never scored more than 12 points in a game. In my entire two year basketball career, I poured in a whopping two points.

Do you know why I smile fondly as I remember that experience? Because it was fun. Our coach and parents never yelled. They always encouraged. They never made us feel like losers. If and when we scored, the entire place, would erupt with a cheer. Because of that, I can remember every detail of the one basket I made. I’ve forgotten my dozens of shots that missed. When the game was over, we always smiled. Playing for St. Mark’s taught me a lot about attitude, character, and the fact that basketball is only a game.

In the years since my days of basketball “glory”, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a chunk of time coaching teams and watching my own kids play organized sports. I’ve never taken my teams to a world championship nor are the odds great for my kids or any of their teammates to make a living playing games. Yet I wonder why the sidelines, stands, and team benches are peppered, sometimes covered, with parents and coaches who pressure and push their kids with a “succeed at all costs” attitude. These parents and coaches bully kids right out of childhood into the overwhelming frustration of a burned out “I have failed” existence. I must admit, there are times when I’m tempted to go with the flow of these attitudes. Have you ever felt the need to push a little bit harder so your kid’s not left in the dust?

Vincent Fortanasce is a psychiatrist, coach and member of the Little League Hall of Fame. In his book, Life Lessons from Little League (Doubleday), he relates how he asked parent’s at the initial team meeting about what they first ask their children after a game, if they had not been able to attend. The most common question was “Did you win today?” The second most frequent question was “How did you do?” Fortanasce writes, “What was my point? Simply that I wanted my team parents to re-focus away from ‘I want my child to learn to win,’ or the pursuit of perfection, to the pursuit of contentment and confidence; from ‘I want my child to be the best player on the best team’ – the pursuit of talent – to ‘I want my child to be a good sportsman’ – the pursuit of character.” He suggests that the more appropriate questions are “Did you have fun?” or “What did you learn today?”

Plato said, “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than you can in a lifetime of conversation.” A twist on Plato’s words ring true today: we can learn quite a bit about a parent in a few minutes of observing them watch their own child play. What do you see when you look in the mirror? As you evaluate the role you play in the lives of the kids you parent and/or coach, consider these questions:

Who’s out on the field? Unfortunately, some parents see their kids as a second chance to fulfill dreams they themselves never realized. Best selling recording artist Alanis Morrisette’s gripping song Perfect echoes the experience of too many kids: “I’ll live through you, I’ll make you what I never was/If you’re the best, then maybe so am I. . . you’ll make up for what I blew/what’s the problem. . . why are you crying?”

What’s on your mind? Mark understood when his talented 17-year-old son Travis asked to quit playing ice hockey. The win-at-all costs mind set of his coaches and teammates’ parents had finally gotten to be too much for Travis. Mark says that in youth sports today “the child’s welfare is becoming less and less important. The focus should be on instruction and developing character. But you wonder about some of the coaches and parents today . . . the bottom-line is that I never saw Travis smile when he played. . . I supported his decision 100 percent.” As a result of their decision, Travis Howe won’t be the third generation of the Gordie Howe family to play in the uniform of the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings. For the Howe’s, character won out over winning.

What’s in your heart? Are the desires of your heart to see your child do his/her best. Or, is your heart set on a standard or level of achievement that is impossible for your child to attain. When sports psychologist Rick Wolff worked for the Cleveland Indians, he was surprised to discover that there were a large number of major league ball players who didn’t allow their kids to get involved in Little League baseball. The reason: the pressure on kids to excel beyond their ability and potential. Instead, they encouraged their kids to skateboard, ski, or anything else to keep them from the unnecessary pressure placed on youth league baseball players. After all, it’s only a game . . . and they’re only kids! Let them play and have fun!

What’s coming out of your mouth? “Frustrated parents . . . can attack the umpires, berate the managers and coaches, and demean the players on the field with impunity”, writes Fortanasce. “Some go the full hundred yards in criticizing their children’s teammates – and even their own children.” I’ve watched young kids cower and teenagers become bitter in response. And even if they do respond with improved performance, are those critical attitudes qualities that we want to nurture in our kids? Children learn from example. If we’re going to scream anything, it should be words of praise, encouragement, and acceptance.

In this day and age of increased activity, it’s realistic to assume that most kids will spend some time during their childhood in a uniform participating in some kind of organized sport. Hopefully, you and I will be on the sideline cheering them on. It would be a good idea for all of us sports parents to pinch ourselves and come back to reality. We’d realize that there’s a greater chance of getting hit by lightning than of our child growing up to sport a world series ring, wear the Olympic gold, or skate around holding the Stanley Cup.

Our children will grow up with memories of their childhood sporting experience. Those memories will be either positive, or negative.

I look back on my role as a player on the world’s worst basketball team with a smile on my face. Why? Because it was awesome. When the dust settled, I know that I came away from that “losing” experience as a real winner. Nobody screamed . . . nobody pushed . . . nobody lived their dreams through me. I hope my kids will be able to someday look back and do the same. How about you?

by Walt Mueller
The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding

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Answering Tough Questions from Kids about God

Posted by Phil

“Hey, Mom?” my son said one day. “If killing is wrong, then why did God help David kill Goliath?” Whoa! My child was only 3 years old! I was not expecting questions like this for at least seven more years. Over the next few weeks, he asked even more questions, such as “If Jesus is God’s Son, then who is God’s wife?” and “So Jesus and God are kind of the same but kind of different. How does that work?

Children are curious. Like it or not, you are going to be faced with tough questions from little seekers. At times, it can be overwhelming. After all, theologians and scholars have been debating the answers to some of these questions for centuries, so how can you be expected to know the answers and communicate them to children in a way that makes sense? The next time you find yourself stumped by a child’s question, keep the following guidelines in mind.

Encourage children to ask questions

When you feel you do not have the time or energy to get into difficult questions, it is tempting to reply with a quick, “That’s just the way it is” or “Because God said so.” But resist the temptation to be flippant or to blurt out responses that ultimately discourage children from asking questions. Children are genuinely curious about their world, and we need to create an environment that encourages them to seek the truth. When you do, you foster a lifelong desire to continue learning more about God.

Communicate at the child’s level

When answering a child’s tough questions about God, always take into consideration his age and maturity level. Use words and concepts that he can understand and that do not cause additional confusion. This may mean that at times you simplify an issue, such as the Trinity or Christ’s incarnation, to its most basic facts.

Do not be afraid to say you do not know the answer

Instead, join the child in discovering the answer to his questions. Feel free to say: “I’ll have to look that up and get back to you” or “I’m not sure how to answer that. Let’s find the answer together.” It is beneficial for children to see that you are not a supreme know-it-all but that you, too, are still learning about God and growing in your understanding of spiritual concepts.

Help an older child look up answers himself

Pointing children to resources available to them lays the foundation for a lifetime of seeking answers to the hard questions. Stock your bookshelf with a good Bible dictionary and commentary. Show the child how to look up the answer and discuss it with him.

Pray for spiritual understanding

A child’s understanding of spiritual matters is primarily influenced by the Holy Spirit. The Bible makes it clear that the concepts relating to God and His ways are not always easy to understand. Pray that the child’s spiritual eyes, as well as your own, will be opened to God’s truths.

My son is now 7 years old and the questions keep coming! But rather than feel frustrated, I look forward to hearing what he asks next, and I am excited to watch him learn even more about God.

by Katrina Baker on Tuesday, September 26, 2006

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Six Summer Olympics Lessons for You and Your Kids

Posted by Phil

This past summer, while your kids weren’t at camp, I’m sure lots of you huddles around the TV to watch some of the greatest athletes in the world…

“As you enjoy[ed] the adrenalin-charged competition, [did you] remind your kids about the years of determination, discipline, and sacrifice that shaped these athletes into champions. Want to know how they got where they are today? We asked two Olympic gold medalists to reflect on the life lessons their own families taught them – lessons you can pass on to your kids today.

Going the distance

A broken home. Rebellious teen years. A dangerous violent streak. Bryan Clay faced these obstacles and more on his way to the 2004 silver medal and the 2008 Olympic gold medal in the decathlon, which he hopes to defend at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Looking back, the husband to Sarah and father of a 2-, 4-, and 6-year-old says he could have ended up in prison or worse. But through the persistent prayers of Bryan’s mother, who insisted he go out for track and field in middle school, Bryan found a new passion.

“As I entered high school, she repeatedly told me: ‘God’s got a plan for your life. He’s got something special in your future. I know it,'” Bryan recalls.

Bryan eventually dedicated himself to the decathlon, but he still faced obstacles despite wins in high school and college. His height and weight were below average for a decathlete, and his scores fell short of qualifying for the Olympic Trials. Bryan had committed his life to Christ but still struggled with partying and bad choices. However, he managed to stay focused on Olympic gold – thanks to his family in Christ.

“I had people in my life, a support system,” Bryan explains. “Isaac Newton has a quote: ‘If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ People like my mom, wife, and coach have been the giants in my life. They raise me up and swallow their pride, and sacrifice to see me succeed. God intended for us to be in community. Success in life and faith is all about the people you surround yourselves with – accountability partners, people to encourage you.”

Today, Bryan, 32, relies on God and his family for strength to help him perform well. He hopes to become the first decathlete to medal in three Olympics. Bryan also prays for and encourages his own kids to embrace the faith and work ethic that changed his life.

“What I’ve learned from my mom is that parenting is one of the most important jobs in the world – it’s what shapes the beliefs and values in your kids,” Bryan says. “Though they may not understand or follow your lifestyle in the beginning, when they hit that time of need, they will come back.”

Three lessons I teach my kids

1. God first

“When I was in college, it was something they preached to us all the time,” Bryan says. “‘God first’ really has shaped the way I do things now. My priorities are God, family, and track, and everything else last. I hope our kids see that modeled and put God at the forefront of their lives.”

2. Always try your best – even when things come easily to you

“My son’s really gifted in academics; he’s a first grader reading at an eighth grade level,” Bryan shares. “But we try to teach him about always giving his best even though he might be able to get away with writing three sentences on his homework.”

It’s important to Bryan that he teaches his kids to strive for excellence rather than succumb to society’s pressure to be the best. “You simply give 100 percent in everything you do and let that be OK,” Bryan says.

3. Win and lose well

“Let your kids see how you handle winning and losing,” Bryan says. “I share a lot of my own real-life experiences … ‘Daddy does this, and this is how he deals with it.’ I don’t win every time I go out, but I always give my best effort and that’s what I’m proud of. That’s why God needs to be first, so we aren’t defined by our wins and losses.”

A perfect balance

Four-time Olympic medalist Shawn Johnson grew up in an ordinary family in suburban Iowa, taking fishing trips with her dad. And that down-to-earth upbringing was exactly what helped mold her into an extraordinary athlete.

“My parents are the type who never pushed me or made me go to practice,” Shawn, 20, says. “I never had the dad who said, ‘You can’t give up,’ or ‘You have to win.’ They were so supportive and wanted to be in the front row cheering me on no matter what I did.”

In elementary school, Shawn began taking lessons at Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute. Gymnastics brought out her playful side and her love of adrenalin. Still, Shawn’s parents made sure her passion didn’t become her whole life.

“Mom and Dad talked freely with me about God,” Shawn says. “They taught me to look to God as a tremendous source of comfort and peace through all of life’s ups and downs. They encouraged me to talk with Him, and I know my mom regularly prayed for me.”

The road to elite competition was long, but by the time she was 13, Shawn had made the national gymnastics team and continued to climb to heights she never thought possible. She was named the 2007 all-around world champion and the 2007 and 2008 all-around U.S. champion. As a member of the 2008 U.S. women’s gymnastics team, she won an Olympic gold medal and three silver medals at the Beijing Olympics. She even won the eighth season of “Dancing With the Stars.” But in 2011, a ski injury to her knee threatened to end her promising career.

“What drove me to overcome my injury was the challenge in my mind of Can I?” Shawn relates. “I always loved the physical part of gymnastics, pushing yourself and proving the naysayers wrong. After the accident, I felt physically unfit and mentally unhealthy, but gymnastics helped push me into a better place and turn my life around.”

Shawn’s comeback on the gymnastics scene means she will once again compete for a spot on the 2012 Olympic team in London. But thanks to confidence from faith and family, she doesn’t feel overwhelming pressure to win.

“It’s almost impossible, and I want to prove to people that it’s possible,” Shawn says. “I don’t have anything else to prove, but what if I could go one step farther?”

Three lessons my parents taught me

1. Home is a safe place

Rather than use their home life to talk about gymnastics, Shawn’s parents gave her a welcomed time-out.

“My parents’ unconditional support led to my success because I had that backing and not the pressure that so many kids face every day,” Shawn says. “I had a place to go to get away from it – home. They made it a place I always wanted to come back to.”

2. Don’t be afraid to be different

“Growing up, you’re always trying to fit in with the popular crowd and do what everyone else is doing,” Shawn says. “My parents told me to be my own person and do what I loved even if it was different. That taught me to have confidence in myself and who I was instead of finding someone else to rely on.”

3. Your worth is not in winning

“It’s not about the medal or the placement. Your worth is not determined by that. Faith has a lot to do with it – you’re giving it your all, and no matter what the placement, you’re still proud. Too many kids get caught up in determining their success or worth in the color they’re wearing rather than what they’ve worked for.””

by Andrea Bailey Willits on Monday, June 25, 2012

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Parenting Teens Is Tough; LifeWay Offers Help

Posted by Phil

Parenting Teens Magazine

Parenting a teenager is terrifying!

“There’s no doubt about it,” said Mike Wakefield. “Even if the teenager is a great kid, it’s still absolutely terrifying to think about all the new skills a parent has to develop to navigate through those years.”

Wakefield leads the team that produces Parenting Teens, a relaunch of LifeWay’s popular Living with Teenagers magazine. The redesign of the magazine has been developed specifically to answer questions, offer advice and provide resource information to help parents be the primary spiritual developers in their families.

“I believe most Christian parents want to be the ones who teach and lead their teenagers; they just don’t know how,” he said.

“When we were redesigning this magazine, we looked at tons of other parenting publications,” he said. “We wanted this one to be different. We asked ourselves, ‘what can we do that would make a parent want to pick up this magazine instead of some of these others?’ What we discovered is that we (LifeWay) are the only ones who look at parenting teens from a Christian perspective. So, when we went to redesign the magazine, we really wanted to highlight that difference. We also wanted to help parents develop their own Christian walk, as well as offer practical advice. I think we have done that.”

Parenting Teens will be divided into three sections: “Know, Grow, Become.”

“We want to help parents know their teens, so we will give lots of information about teen culture and issues related specifically to adolescence,” Wakefield said. “We want them to grow as parents, which is the section where we focus on parenting skills and issues. And, we want to help them become more Christlike, so we’ve added a section specifically for a parent’s spiritual growth as an individual.”

Each issue of the monthly magazine will feature a “Voice of a Teen” column. A teen will write this column and address some struggle, such as the struggle to be perfect: perfect grades, perfect body, perfect talents, etc.

“On the perfection topic, we want the parents to understand their own attempt at perfection – and, yes, parents do that too – may be having a negative influence on their teens,” Wakefield said. “Hearing it straight from the teen will have an impact.”

Bundling option

While Parenting Teens will be available as an individual subscription, Wakefield said there is the option of bundling Parenting Teens with ec magazine, a monthly magazine for teens that offers challenging daily devotions and relevant feature articles designed to help students understand that their relationship with Christ should affect every part of their lives.

“Bundling these two magazines together can be a great benefit for the whole family,” Wakefield said. “The magazines will be aligned thematically to help each one build on the other. The articles won’t be the same, of course, but they will encourage discussion between parents and teens about what they’ve read.”

Parents who choose a bundle option will receive a 15-percent discount on the pair of magazines.

Good value for churches

Parenting Teens will offer four Bible study outlines in each issue of the magazine – for churches that have Sunday school or small groups for parents of teenagers.

“What youth minister doesn’t want to be a hero for the parents of his or her students?” Wakefield asked. “With this resource, he or she can provide a way for parents of youth to be discipled throughout the week. In this way, Parenting Teens is so much more that just a leisure reading or advice magazine.

“We want parents who have issues with their teens to know they are not alone, insane or bad parents,” Wakefield said with a laugh. “Parenting teens can be tough. We want to offer tools to make it a little easier.”

by Polly House on Wednesday, September 26, 2012

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Objection: Robotic Ritual

Posted by Phil

Scriptures: Malachi 1
Going Through the Motions

Family Connections

“My mom’s been serving leftovers for 30 years. Nobody knows what the original meal was.” Old joke told by anyone who’s never had to put a meal on the table 7 days a week.

Not many people, especially kids, like leftovers. But you can actually use those warmed-over dishes to teach spiritual lessons to your children! Next time your kids complain about leftovers, try this:

Play patty-cake saying something like:

Patty-cake, Patty-cake, Thank You, God

Patty-cake, Patty-cake, For this food

Patty-cake, Patty-cake, Thank You God

Patty-cake, Patty-cake, You are good.

Then lead a prayer with: God is great (this keeps them remembering the greatness of God), God is good (this keeps them remembering God’s love). God I thank you for this (actually state the leftovers.)

( – see printout)

School-Age and Students
Ask why they don’t like leftovers. Then challenge the kids to consider how you all (include yourself) offer leftovers at work, school, and home. Then take it deeper by asking how people offer leftovers to God.

As you’re eating the meal, challenge children to list what God offers them new and fresh every day. Explore what you can offer God each day that is new and fresh.

If your budget allows, if they’ve participated positively in this dinner time discussion, reward their willingness to talk and eat leftovers with an ice cream cone.


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Conversation Starters: Generosity vs. Greed

Posted by Phil

Deuteronomy 15:7-11; 24:10-15,17-18

share generously, treat with dignity, protect with mercy

Conversation Starters

How can you keep this conversation going at home? Try bouncing some of these questions around at the dinner table, as you’re driving your kids to school or an activity, or even while you’re shopping together:

For Preschoolers

• Teach your preschooler about giving by handing them a quarter or another sum of money to give in the offering plate. Explain that we give to God because He loves us and gives to us.

For School-Age

• Teach your elementary school child to give by helping her count out a tenth of her allowance and give it in an offering envelope. Tell her that God gives us 100% and only asks for 10% back in order to help others.

For Students

• With your teenager, establish a working budget based on allowance and any part-time job he has. Help him learn to contribute a tenth of all income. Be sure to lead by example, and be open to discussing your budget and your giving habits.

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Conversation Starter: Unity vs. Division

Posted by Phil

Acts 10:9-15,22-23,28-29a,34-36

Peter’s vision teaching that God does not show favoritism, here between Jews and Gentiles

Family Connection

For Preschoolers

Find books that present different individuals from various cultures. Read aloud to him, pointing out how God created everyone, no matter where they were born. Help him understand that all people are God’s special creation.

For School-Age

Discuss the children in your elementary-age child’s class or grade. Ask her about her understanding of their heritage and culture. If needed, spend time with your child’s teacher learning about the variety of cultures represented in her class. Help your child by finding Web sites and books that teach about the cultures of individuals in her everyday world.

For Students

Discuss current events with your teenager. As issues of different cultures come forth, spend time researching and discussing the background and back stories of the people involved. Attempt to develop an understanding of those involved in order to grasp the event and their response from their perspectives.

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Sexting: A growing problem among teens

Posted by Phil


by Polly House on Monday, December 19, 2011

If parents and student leaders think their precious teens aren’t sending naked pictures of themselves to their boyfriends and girlfriends, they need to think again. It’s happening.

Students (teens age 12-17) are using their mobile phones as portable pornography devices.

There’s a name for this: sexting. It’s defined as sending sexually suggestive messages or photos via text messaging on mobile phones.

Sexting went mainstream in June 2011 when the national news outlets reported New York Representative Anthony D. Weiner sent suggestive photographs of himself to women he met over the Internet. Some of them returned the “favor,” setting off a firestorm of controversy. Calls for his resignation from Congress came from both Democrats and Republicans.

While Weiner was adamant that he would not resign his seat, claiming he had broken no laws, pressure from his Democratic colleagues led to his June 16 resignation.

This was an adult who certainly should use better judgment, but teens need a good dose of judgment as well. They are old enough to know better, but sadly, studies show they aren’t doing better.

A survey conducted by The Pew Internet and American Life Project in 2009 including only minors (age 12-17) said 4 percent of mobile phone-owning teens say they have sent sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images or videos of themselves to someone else via text message, and 15 percent have received such messages.

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy* and* commissioned a survey of teenagers age 13-19 to explore electronic activity in 2008. (Note this study was more than three years ago.)

This survey said that 22 percent of girls and 18 percent of boys have sent nude or seminude pictures or videos of themselves via mobile phone. The survey also said that 37 percent of girls and 40 percent of boys said they had sent sexually suggestive messages to someone.

Mandy Crow, editor of EC, a student devotional magazine published by LifeWay, said church kids are not immune.

“We talk with teens and student leaders often,” she said. “We hear this everywhere. It’s happening with church kids just like unchurched kids.

“They seem to think it’s flirty or funny,” Crow said. “They just don’t see the long-term consequences.”

A panel of girls’ ministry leaders talked about sexting during a large group session at the 2011 Girls’ Ministry Forum. LifeWay’s Girls Ministry Director Pam Gibbs acknowledged it’s a conversation church leaders must be involved in.

“These young girls are sometimes naïve,” Gibbs said. “Often, they are good kids and just want to be popular. They don’t get it that this is something that can follow them for the rest of their lives.”

The panel agreed that sexting is happening with church kids. It often comes out of peer pressure or boyfriend/girlfriend insistence.

According to the NCPTUP study (relating to those who admitted to having sent or posted sexually suggestive content):

  • 71 percent of teenage girls and 67 percent of teenage guys who have sent or posted sexually suggestive content say they have sent or posted this content to a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • 21 percent of teenage girls and 39 percent of teenage boys say they have sent such content to someone they wanted to date or “hook up with” (euphemism for casual sexual encounter).
  • 44 percent of both teenage girls and teenage boys say it is common for sexually suggestive text messages to be shared with people other than the intended recipient.
  • 36 percent of teenage girls and 39 percent of teenage boys say it is common for nude or seminude photos to be shared with people other than the intended recipient.

MTV,* a television network known for programming related to youth culture, aired “Sexting In America: When Privates Go Public.”

Two young adults were profiled. At the time of the program, one was a 19-year-old girl who, at age 16, sent a nude photograph of herself to an ex-boyfriend who said he would get back together with her if she would send it. The boy instead sent the photo to everybody in his contact list and soon her photo was all over the school.

She said she not only felt betrayed but experienced “brutal and terrible harassment” from classmates that included vulgar name-calling.

A young man,** 20 when the program was made, received naked pictures from his girlfriend when he was 17. They had a fight and he retaliated by calling up the picture on his cell phone and hitting the “send all” on his contact list. The girl’s picture went out to more than 70 people, including friends, teachers, parents and grandparents.

But by that time, he’d had his 18th birthday — still in high school but legally an adult.

He was arrested for distributing child pornography — she was still 17 — and put on five years’ probation. In addition, he was required to register on the public sex offender list.

He said he was kicked out of college, can’t find a job and can’t live with his dad because his dad’s house is near a school. He is required to attend a class for sex offenders, where, as he said, he’s sitting in a room with “perverts and rapists.”

Unless his attorney is successful in getting him taken off the list, he could remain on the sex offender list until he is in his 40s.

Depending on state laws, being on a sex offender list places limits on where a person can live and with whom they can associate. It also can limit the activities they can legally do.

These two young adults profiled on the MTV program didn’t claim to be Christians or profess involvement in a church, but “good church kids” are not immune to the pressure of sexting.

Crow said it’s important that student leaders and parents be proactive in dealing with sexting.

“Bottom line, it’s child pornography,” she said.

“Student leaders need to help parents know what to do and how to talk to their teenagers about sexting,” she said. “Parents need to be empowered to speak out. The issue isn’t going away.”

While laws vary from state to state, the person creating and sending the image is possibly looking at charges of child pornography and sexual exploitation of a minor. Being convicted of those charges can carry up to 20 years in prison.

While almost two dozen states are considering changes to laws that would separate sexting from the same category as child pornography, that hasn’t happened yet.

Crow said, “Helping students understand that once they hit ‘send’ they have lost all control of where that photo or video goes is a place to begin the conversation.”

Starting the conversation on sexting

Mandy Crow, editor of LifeWay’s EC magazine, and Pam Gibbs, girls ministry director, suggested parents and youth ministry leaders ask questions such as these to get the conversation started on sexting:

  • Do you know anyone who has posted or sent an inappropriate photo to a website or mobile phone?
  • How would you feel if your nude photo were sent to your parents or grandparents?
  • How would you feel if your nude photo were sent to your youth minister or pastor?
  • How would you feel if your picture were printed out and hung up all over your school?
  • Do you understand that once in cyberspace, a picture will never go away?
  • Do you honestly believe that anyone who would ask you to send an inappropriate photo of yourself on your mobile phone respects you enough to keep it private?
  • Do you understand that you must assume you are always in a place where mobile phones are present and at any time you may be photographed or videoed without your knowledge or permission?
  • Do you understand that you must have absolutely no expectation of privacy anywhere you go?


*Reader/Viewer discretion is highly recommended ** ABC News Nightline article on the same young man

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Spiritual mothering

Posted by Phil

by Beth Moore

God created every life to be fruitful and multiply, but this God-given dream represents more than physical offspring. I believe our dreams to have babies represent a desire to have fruitful lives, to invest ourselves in something that matters and makes a difference.

In the Old Testament, God promised great numbers of physical descendants. In the New Testament, His emphasis is clearly on spiritual offspring. God calls us to be fruitful and to multiply until He calls us home. Potential for spiritual offspring is virtually limitless. God desires to empower you to bear spiritual offspring. God created you to bear much fruit. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mommy more than anything in the world. Now my children are almost grown. Recently my older daughter and I were enjoying a time of rich fellowship together when she paused and asked, “Mom, when Melissa and I grow up and perhaps even move far away from you and Daddy, will you be OK?”

A lump welled in my throat, but I still answered confidently: “Yes, darling. Most people just need to feel useful. As long as I have Jesus, I will always feel useful — even if I occasionally feel lonely.”

I have tried my hardest to keep my children from growing up, but all my efforts have failed. Sometimes I think: “What will I ever do? I was born to be a mommy!” Then I remember God has called me primarily to women’s ministry, and I will always have the opportunity to “mother” a few spiritual offspring as long as I am willing to invest myself.

In fact, one of my spiritual daughters has a particularly dry and delightful wit. She is a gifted Bible teacher at only 27 years of age and hardly ever misses an opportunity to affectionately rib me about my age. I introduced her once as a spiritual daughter, and later she said, “Since you led the person to the Lord, who in turn, led me to the Lord, wouldn’t that really make you my spiritual grand-mother?” After that I called her a smart aleck, we had a great laugh, and every card or gift that I have sent to her since that remark have all been signed, “Love, Granny.”

If God chose for you to have physical children, prepare yourself! They will grow up! Then it is time to enlarge your tent and invest in spiritual children! If God chooses for you never to have physical children, He is calling you to a bigger family! God purposely placed the dream of fruitful lives in our hearts. Oh, how I love the paradoxical ways our glorious heavenly Father works. Only He can bring gain from loss. Only He can make us more fruitful in our barrenness!

One final thought. Undoubtedly one of the reasons I wanted children was to bear offspring who were the image of my husband. I wanted little Keiths and Keithettes! I did not want them to look like me. I have always thought Keith was far more beautiful than I. You see, the same is true of our spiritual offspring. Once we fall in love with Christ, we are so taken with His beauty, we want children to look just like Him. That is spiritual parenting in a nutshell; raising spiritual sons and daughters to look just like their Father in Heaven. What could be more important?


This article was adapted from Breaking Free © 2000 (Broadman and Holman). Used by permission.

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