“My son’s actions were informed by people we do not know and ideas we do not hold”

 

This past weekend America saw and heard another attack on a place of worship, by a person who had been taught to hate others. This hatred blossomed into murder when he shot and killed people worshiping in a synagogue. My heart breaks for all the families involved. Then I heard the shooter was a 19-year-old college student and my mind went right to his parents and their hearts toward their son’s actions. This morning I heard that the parents released a statement: “Our son’s actions were informed by people we do not know and ideas we do not hold.” The parents continued, “How our son was attracted to such darkness is a terrifying mystery to us, that we are confident that law enforcement will uncover many details of the path he took to this evil and despicable act.”

Wait a minute, did I hear that right? Your son was influenced by people you do not know? The parents say this is a terrifying mystery! How did these people influence your son? How did they teach your son so much hatred that it gave birth to murder? Were there signs that they missed? Could this happen to my children? All these questions were circling in my head.

So, I began to think about the places or things that influence teens. The first thing that came to mind was the impact of the internet in teen’s lives. Albert Mohler states, “We’re looking at the entire digital world just about every toxic idea and worldview and political theory, just about every sinful form of thought, every conspiracy theory and every lie, can make its way right onto the computer or the smartphone of just about anyone including that young person in your house.” Each day through technology all kinds of hate and truth are pouring into our homes. What are we to do?

The first step is to acknowledge the truth about the advance in communication and taking steps to guard you and your family. The second step is to teach your children to discern truth from a lie. In order to do this as parents, we must first know the truth in order to teach the truth. Here are some quick tips to help:

  1. Parents-study the Scriptures daily and teach them to your children.

  2. Parents-teach your children the attributes of God. Knowing God will help them know themselves.

  3. Parents-know everything your children are doing on the internet.

  4. Parents-your child’s heart is curious, and this curiosity will lead them astray. Ask questions and be listeners of your children.

  5. Parents-talk with your children. Do not be afraid to speak with them if you see something that concerns you.

Remember, if we only teach children to stop hating or start loving without the truth of God’s Word, we are teaching them to be good for goodness sake.

Praying for you.

Pastor Tim

 

An Intro to 13 Reasons Why By Kelly Lofy

 

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You may have heard of some trending shows that are popular on media outlets like Netflix. Last year the show Stranger Things was very popular among the teens and young adults and this spring, the show 13 Reasons Why has gained huge interest and popularity in a short time.

The show, 13 Reasons Why is based off of a novel by Jay Asher. It tells the story of a high school girl named Hannah Baker who has committed suicide. The story is about 13 tapes that she left behind for her classmates to listen to that explain her reasons why. The main character of the show is a boy named Clay who had a crush on Hannah and the show focuses on him and how he handles the tapes. Hannah leaves behind not only friends, and family, but a box of cassette tapes with instructions for her classmates.

“I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life,” she says on the first cassette tape. “More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.”

Hannah recorded 13 messages before her death that she intended on having her classmates listen to them in order.  Each selected classmate must listen to the tapes all the way through, no exceptions. If someone refused to follow through, Hannah promised that the corresponding taped message would be released through an alternate, much more public forum. “You’re being watched,” she cautioned.

Though Hannah took her life, she had a clear message to convey through her recorded messages on the tapes. Tapes that tells a tragic story, messages that were full of unfair rumors, bullying, unintended oversights, a variety of some really hard things teens should never go through.  The show follows the aftermath of the selected classmates and how they are affected by Hannah’s death.

Warning

13 Reasons Why is geared toward high school students.  It has a very compelling story line and has a TV-MA rating— “may be unsuitable for children under 17.”  This show does not hold back in regards to content. There is drug and alcohol use, sex, physical and verbal abuse, and profanity.  As the show progresses, the content shows more and more graphic scenes and situations, eventually leading to two heinous rape scenes and a extremely graphic suicide of the main character, Hannah Baker.

Besides the graphic content, there is also very mature themes throughout the series including suicide, underage drinking, cutting, rape, premarital sex, drug use, broken families, child abuse, homosexuality, revenge porn, and bullying.

While there are some very mature, graphic, and possible exaggerated ideas seen throughout 13 Reasons Why. I believe they are not to far away from real life situations our teens and their friends experience today.

At a Glance….A Parent’s First Response to 13 Reasons

Be Aware

The first step in response to 13 Reasons Why is for you as parents to know what is out there and what your teen has access to viewing.  Take some time to educate yourself about this show. (See below for further information and articles.)  Check back to this blog for more detailed entries about 13 Reasons Why over the next few weeks.

Be aware of what devices teens are able to watch this show on.  13 Reasons Why is on Netflix, which is available on Ipads, smartphones, video game systems, laptops, and smart TVs.

It is also important to be mindful of your child or teen and that they will eventually come into contact with this show in some way or another. Even if you decide not to allow your teen to watch this show, chances are friends and classmates might have seen this show and they might be talking about this during study hall or in the lunchroom.

Start the Conversation

The next step after being aware/educating yourself is to have conversations. Have a conversation with your spouse about this show, and get on the same page with how you both would like your family to respond to 13 Reasons Why.

Next, start up conversations with your teen in regards to viewing this show.  See what they know, and let them know your expectations as to if you will allow them to view this show or not.  Give clear reasons and an explanation behind your decision. (This is great to do with ANY tv show or movie you are allowing your kid to watch)

With any and most topics too, like sex and other stuff, it is always good to ask open ended questions to figure out what they know before talking about anything- so pertaining to this show- it would be great to ask these questions:
Have you heard about the show/book 13 Reasons Why?
What do you think about it?
What are your thoughts about suicide?
Have yo seen any of these behaviors portrayed in the show at your school?
Who are your friends/support group at school?

How could bringing jesus into this situation change anything?

How could involving a parent in this situation change anything?

If you need more information about talking with your teen about suicide check out these resources:

My Recommendation

I personally do not recommend teens to watch this show.  I definitely would not recommend anyone to watch this show alone.  As an adult this show brought about a lot of emotions and tough issues. I can understand that a teenager would need someone to walk alongside them to help them process each episode.

If your teen is watching this show I highly encourage you to take action!  Make a decision. You may want to watch it with your teen or you may not want them watching at all. If they are watching, they will need someone to talk to to process the mature content and themes.  This can be an opportunity for you to engage with topics with your teen that do not normally come up.  It may also give you some insight as to what teens are dealing with day to day.

My final recommendation: Teens should not watch this show, but if they are…as a parent you need to be there to walk alongside them.

The decision to let your teen or family watch 13 Reasons Why is entirely up to you. I hope to offer some guidance on how to best relate to your teen and how to navigate some difficult topics for anyone, let alone teenagers. May God give you the wisdom you need to point any encourage your family towards Christ!

How do I get there from here?

choices

How do I help my teen make decision?

If you were to spend time at a rock quarry you would see many different sizes of rocks being separated into different piles. The big rocks into one pile, medium rocks into another and smaller rocks into yet another different pile. The way the rocks are separated is with different size screens with different size holes in them. The different size holes let some rocks through and other rocks are caught and sent to different places. With this in minds there are several steps a parent should walk a child through in making any decision.

The first screen is the Word of God. We ask the question: “Does the Bible clearly call what I am about to do a sin?”. Therefore, as parents we need to study the Word and teach our children to study the Word as well. Micah 6:8 declares, “He has told you, O man, what is good;  and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

The second screen is, “What do my parents say about this activity?”. Parents are God-given to help children make decisions and children are to obey their parents as the Bible clearly says in Ephesians 6:1. While children are living in the parent’s house, they are under their parent’s authority. When the teen moves out on their own, the role becomes one of guidance. Going from being under authority to the guidance role slowly happens during the teenage years as the teenager shows true biblical maturity and shows they can handle more adult decisions.

The third screen is, “Does this activity cause my love for God to grow? John Wesley’s mother once was asked what is sin and being a mother of 19 children she clearly said:

 

  1. Whatever weakens your reasoning
  2. Impairs the tenderness of your conscience
  3. Obscures your sense of God
  4. Takes way your relish for spiritual things.

 

Each one of these points helps parents and teens to gain a clearer idea in many situations of the correct path according to biblical truth. At the end of the day we must remember Proverbs 3:5-8, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

by Tim Yorgey

 

 

Project Parenting

 

 

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The Way a Teen Sees Themselves Part 1

Paul Tripp uses Psalms 36:1-4 to help parents understand the struggles of a teenager. Psalms 36:1-4: “Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil.”

The first struggle of a teenager is there is no fear of God before their eyes. Teens allow the fear of man to control them through peer pressure or fear of peer rejection. This struggle can also be seen in identity issues, Am I ugly? Am I a “geek”? Do people find me attractive? Will I ever be coordinated? This is why Solomon wrote in Proverbs 1:7 that, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” As our teens understand the fear of the Lord they will reflect and see their need for Christ as their Savior.

The second struggle of a teenager is they flatter themselves too much. Teens struggle with an accurate view of themselves. They think they are more mature than they really are. They think they can handle adult situations even though they are teens. They many times think they are spiritually wiser or stronger than they are. Many teens believe they have out-grown their need of parents. Teens view themselves through the mirror of personal evaluation and cultural norms, just as Jeremiah called the people of Israel to stop and examine themselves in Lamentations 3:40: “Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!”

Anyone who has spent a couple of hours with a teenager you will know that many of these struggles are real. Parents need to understand that teens struggle with a proper view of the world and themselves—this is a part of the sin nature. The best thing a teen can do is to spend time in the Word of God and saturate themselves in truth in order to prepare their hearts for every situation that may arise along life’s road. God’s Word will help them understand first who God is and then second who they are in Christ. This is a task that will take a lifetime. My prayer is that we teach teens the truth of Ephesians 5:16: “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

by Tim Yorgey

Project Parenting

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In Paul Tripp’s book, Age of Opportunity, A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, he talks about the importance of project parenting. Project Parenting-being focused, being purposeful, being goal-oriented in our day-by-day encounters with our teenagers and emphasizing certain themes. As parents, we live in a world that demands are attention every minute and our teens are continually on the run with school and church. If we are not intentional with our parenting, then we will parent out of reaction instead of pro-action.

The first step in project parenting is sitting down with your spouse and answering these questions for each of your children.

  1. Where is my child weak/strong?
  2. Where is my child susceptible to temptation?
  3. What are my child’s regular struggles?
  4. What are the areas of rebellion and resistance?

Remember not to try and handle everything you wrote down at once. The shotgun approach to parenting never works well. Handle things with patience and care. You are parenting, not driving cattle. Paul Tripp goes one to remind parents of 4 things to do after examining your children.

  1. Examine the lives of your child and see if your assessments are correct.
  2. Pray and ask God for wisdom.
  3. Consider what to focus on first.
  4. Remember that God is sovereign and He will give opportunities for you to deal with the issues.

Project Parenting finds its basis in Deuteronomy 6:4-9: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

We are to teach the things of God diligently to our children. The word teach means-to cause to know. Teaching does not happen unless there is a plan and a focus on what needs to be done. May we teach our children to Know Christ and make Him known.

by Tim Yorgey

 

RUTS-The Way of a Woman…. It’s a Good Thing: Part 1

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the delicate door to the heart

Oh, there are so many things we want to be as young ladies. We have passions, desires, hopes and dreams which we cultivate in our imagination and share in dramatic form with others. So, when it comes to forming ruts in the lives of young ladies, we as parents need to be sensitive and aware of the way in which God has designed the feminine form. The door to the heart must be delicately cared for.

Fathers and mothers have unique jobs that are God given in the raising of future feminine leaders in our world. We have distinct tasks, yet the two should be unified in their prayers and hopes for their daughters when possible. The following list is a summary and not at all an exhaustive list in what is to be a godly woman. We will be visiting four more points next week. This list will hit on some key traits that seem to be a struggle for not only women, but all mankind—yet we can take each and pray them over our daughters, walk them through Scriptures, and work through situations practicing these traits. Keep in mind, praying that God will give our children new hearts is the only way these can truly be planted in their lives. God’s gracious Arm of Salvation goes before us!

A godly woman:

  1. SEEKS WISDOM“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” Proverbs 9:10. All is passing in this life. Beauty fades, relationships come and go, but true wisdom gives hope and that is eternal. True wisdom only comes from God. The fear comes in not turning to a Holy God for true wisdom and running away, which leads to destruction. “A woman who fears the LORD will be praised…” Proverbs 31:30. True wisdom gives a lasting beautiful changed heart. Prov. 8:32-36, 16:16, 4:5, 24:13-14, Matthew 7:29
  1. SHARES JOY“The joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10. This joy which is possessed first by God and then given by Him to us will not only saturate our hearts in minds, but then it will overflow and touch all those who surround us. Proverbs 15:23, 10:28, Isaiah 12:6, Romans 15:13, John 15:11, Psalm 65:8, 13, II Samuel 22:20.
  2. SPEAKS SWEETLY“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1. Words are crucial in our daily lives, because out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45) and it represents who we are on the inside. The phrase “beauty comes from within” is often quoted in the secular world, but as Christ followers, it has so much more depth and meaning! We are beautiful in the sight of God because of the beauty of Christ bestowed upon us! Our words should be fitly spoken and be a blessing to those around us for the glory of Christ. Proverbs 15:23, 16:24, 25:11, Ephesians 4:29, Psalm 19:14
  1. STUDIES HARD- “Do you best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” II Timothy 2:15. We are all called to be Theologianseven women! Reading, studying and gaining knowledge not only about the world around us, but also about the Creator God of the created universe. God gave us minds that we may work hard and apply what we know not just to our minds but also, we pray that God applies them to our hearts that they may be more conformed to the image of His Son and know what is truth compared to the lies of this world. II Timothy 3:14-17, Joshua 1:8, Psalm 119:11, 105, Proverbs 3:1-2, I Peter 3:15, Deuteronomy 11:18-23, Romans 12:2, Ephesians 6:11-17, Hebrews 4:12

The four points for next week: SERVES CHEERFULLY, STANDS STRONG, SEEKS CHRIST, SEES GOD                                                                                     -by Allison Yorgey

6 Reasons Why Teens should Go to Youth Group

 

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Dear Parents of Teens,

I would love to thank you for everything you do to invest in the life of your teenager.  Where would your teens be without you as their parent(s)? Seriously though, take a minute to think about it.

Scary! Right?

You do so much for your teen each day. In just ONE day you may feel like personal cook, a tutor, a maid, a drill sergeant, and an uber driver!  Life is already busy enough, but when you add raising teens to the mix, it gives a new definition to the word busy.  

With how packed our schedules get, it is easy to let youth group fall off the calendar each week.  As parents, it may be tempting to think, “My kid is just too busy for a night of goofy games and hanging out with their friends.”

I understand what being overwhelmingly busy looks like in school. I tried to play every sport that was offered, I had a job, sometimes two, and I tried to maintain a high GPA.  Throughout my time as a student, I found youth group to be an important part of my spiritual formation.  It became so important to me that I decided to devote my life and career to this thing called “youth ministry!”

One of the main objectives of youth ministry is partnering with parents. Parents should be the primary spiritual influence for their kids, but I also believe that the church, and youth ministry, play a key role in a teen’s spiritual development.

Here are 6 reasons why you should encourage/make your teenager go to youth group:

  1.  Teenagers need Godly models and mentors

“O God, You have taught me from my youth, And I still declare Your wondrous deeds. And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come. ”  Psalm 71:17-18

Like I said earlier, you as a parent are called to be the primary spiritual mentor for your children, but they also need to be surrounded by other adults who love and follow God.  It can only benefit your son or daughter to see that Christianity is more than just their parents’ faith.  The teenage years are also a time where communication between teens and parents are strained.  So it is a good idea to have models and mentors to reinforce the spiritual truths they are already learning at home.

  1.  Teenagers need community

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:24-25

There is no doubt that humans are all created for relationships with other people, and teens are not excluded from that.  All teens have a desire and a need to be a part of a community, and youth group fills that need of community, while pointing them to the gospel.

School can be rough for our teenagers. School may bring about stress, bullying, gossiping and slander.  Our teenagers need an outlet where they come together for encouragement, support, and counsel according to the Bible.

  1. Teenagers need a mission

“Go and make disciples among the nations.” Matthew 28:19

Jesus gave this mission out to his followers, and in the same way He gives it to all of us as well.  Youth Group is just one avenue that helps teens recognize the mission and purpose that God has for each of them. Youth Group also equips teenagers so that they will know how to share the good news of Jesus Christ with their friends.  This contributes to their overall spiritual development.

Youth Group is also a safe place to bring friends who do not know the Gospel.  Teenagers need to learn to have a heart for the lost and the least of these, and that is learned through our weekly program, mission trips and outreach events.

  1.  Teenagers need biblical theology     

“Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”  Ephesians 4:14-15

Students are bombarded with different opinions and ideas from teachers, friends, and social media.  Youth Group is a place for students to wrestle with big issues they are facing in a safe place. Mentors and leaders can point them to the Bible for their theology and truth.

Youth group builds students’ theology upon the foundation that you have laid as their parents.  It is also very important for students who don’t come from a Christian home to learn Christian theology and biblical truth.  Youth group helps lay a theological foundation that all Christians need to develop over one’s spiritual journey.

  1.  Teenagers need a safe place to confide and confess

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”  James 5:16

Teenagers have struggles and temptations and often they don’t have a place where they can confess and confide in others. Youth group provides opportunities in smaller groups for students to feel safe to share their struggles, build relationships, confess and confide with adult mentors and leaders.

This doesn’t mean everyone knows your teens deepest and darkest sins.  But it does provide an outlet for teens and leaders to pray for each other, understand that they aren’t the only ones, and it provides them a chance to encourage each other. This leads to the healing and refining that must take place in all of our lives.

  1.  Teenagers need FUN!

Youth workers all over the US can agree that we are starting to see more students who are struggling with the pressure to succeed and a struggle with depression.  Anxiety among students is also on the rise. Youth Group provides a safe outlet for teens to let their guard down and to just enjoy being a teen. When teens are having fun it allows for Christ-centered relationships to develop and for students to learn that following Jesus is not boring and dull.

Youth Group also teaches teens how to have fun without the use of drugs, sex, and alcohol.  Media is one of the biggest voices and teachers in our world today.  The world is teaching our teens that partying, sex, and drugs is fun and acceptable. Youth ministry provides a safe place for students to have fun with other Christians as they encounter God and His word.

I know life can get busy, but as parents we need to help our teens to be good stewards of the time that God has given them. Investing time in youth group can have an eternal impact in the life of your teen. All it takes is saying yes, and being willing to be a part of what God is doing in the lives’ of teenagers at your local church. At the end of the day there is a battle going on for your teen’s soul. Encouraging your teen to get involved is just one way that you can help them develop faith that sticks!

by Kelly Lofy