Monthly Archives: November 2013

Why Thanksgiving?

What’s your answer to the question, “Why Thanksgiving?”  Here are some possible responses:

  • ThanksgivingBecause I love me some turkey & stuffing
  • It’s a great excuse to get together family
  • It marks the day before the biggest shopping day of the year (some people live for Black Friday sales…I get nervous sweats just thinking about it)

But what about being thankful?  Why should we be thankful for more than just the fourth Thursday of every November?

Turn in your Bibles to Psalm 100:5.

Here we find our answer.  “Why Thanksgiving?”…well, because God is Good, The Lord has Limitless Love, and The Father is Faithful.  Are these reasons enough for you to be thankful?  I sure hope so.

As you think back on how good God has been to you over the years…As you ponder the limitless love of the Lord that finds its peak in the sacrifice of His Son on the cross…As you review the ways the Heavenly Father continues to be faithful…how could you not be thankful?

Well, if you can’t be thankful after reviewing these wonderful aspects of the Creator God, maybe you need to take the opportunity to get to know Him, and give your life to Him.  Allow Him to forgive your sins, and trust Him with your eternity.  You do this, and trust me, you will never be more thankful around the table, and you will always have something to be thankful for!

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What Technology is Doing to Children & Teenagers’ Bodies – A Must Read

Ever heard of “i-Posture” or “Facebook Depression”…Did you know too much time gaming or on internet during childhood is linked to cardiovascular disease?  Technology may be more than just a distraction, it could affect a child’s health.

This fascinating article called “Here’s What A Constantly Plugged-In Life Is Doing To Kids’ Bodies” posted in the Huffington Post (see below) describes the effects technology is having on children now, and later in life.


Infographic by Alissa Scheller for The Huffington Post.

If it seems like your kids are constantly plugged in, tapping away on their iPhones, obsessively gaming and SnapChatting way more than they’re actually … chat-chatting — well, that’s because they are. It’s estimated that children ages 8 to 18 spend an average of seven hours a day behind screens; teens send an average of 3,417 text messages each month; and 97 percent of adolescents have at least one electronic device in their bedrooms.

What’s just as scary as how much time kids spend on screens is the effect it can have on their health. Their backs and wrists are sore, their sleep is disrupted and their attention spans are diminished.

While it would be impossible to rid your kids’ lives of technology completely — and you wouldn’t want to, because of its many joys and benefits — parents can take a few measures to help prevent its negative mental and physical side effects.

Here are some ways screens may be harming your kids’ bodies and what you can do about it:

They’re Hunched Over, And Their Necks And Upper Backs Are Sore

The human body’s natural position is an erect posture with a little bit of lordosis (inward curve) in the neck and a bit of kyphosis (round curve) in the upper back. A person sitting at in front of a computer is likely to have rounded shoulders and forward head posture, which puts a strain on the muscles and joints, causing soreness and fatigue.

What To Do: Dr. Sherilyn Driscoll, a doctor of pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center, recommends that parents be conscious of ergonomics when kids are at their computers: It should be on a desk with the keyboard at hand level, there should be a supportive backrest, and kids should try to maintain an upright position.

They’re Less Active

Research has linked childhood obesity to too much screen time. In a recent study, 61 percent of obese boys and 63 percent of obese girls reported watching television for two or more hours each day. Studies have also suggested that TV viewing habits in childhood can predict obesity risk in adulthood.

What To Do: According to government guidelines, kids and teens should get at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day at least three times a week to increase strength and develop strong muscles.

Their Fingers And Wrists Are Suffering

Wrist and finger pain is common in kids who play video games. A study (done by a kid!) found that children were 50 percent more likely to experience pain for every hour they spent gaming. Dr. Eric Ruderman, an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said video game playing may be harmful for children’s developing muscles and tendons.

Too much texting can also lead to soreness and cramping in the fingers, known as “text claw.” According to a 2012 Nielsen report, the average teen sends 3,417 texts a month, which is about seven an hour. Ouch.

What To Do: Ruderman says parents need to limit game time: Two hours per day is too much for a 7- or 8-year-old. Additionally, HuffPost Healthy Living has put together a comprehensive guide to alleviate pain from smartphone use that you can share with your teen.

Their Sight Could Be Affected

Teens’ constant use of electronics at home and at school is taking a toll on their eyes, according to David Epley, a pediatric ophthalmologist in Kirkland, Wash., and a spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Whenever someone spends time in front of a screen their “blink rate” goes down, which can lead to dry, itchy eyes and eye strain. While teens’ eyes can get used to screens, Epley said, damage can develop over time and even cause myopia, or nearsightedness.

What To Do: The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that a computer user shift focus away from a screen every 20 minutes and take 20 seconds to look at something that is at least 20 feet away. “This gets you blinking again,” Epley said. “And restores moisture to the surface of the eye.”

Their Sleep Is Disrupted

According to a 2010 Pew Study, 4 out of 5 teenagers sleep with their cell phones on and near their beds. And they’re not just using phones as alarms; another study found that teens send an average of 34 texts a night after getting into bed.

Teens’ sleep can be disrupted by screens because the bright lights that glow from the devices “wakes up the brain,” Michael Decker, a sleep specialist and associate professor at Case Western School of Nursing, told The Huffington Post. The light can confuse the brain since our circadian pacemaker does not differentiate between the sun and a computer screen. “Teens are getting this bright light and it’s making them go to bed later and want to sleep later,” said Decker, “but they can’t deal with the sleep loss.” Not getting enough sleep has a psychological effect on teens, and can lead to irritability and poor social skills. Memory is also negatively affected, which in turn can diminish academic performance.

What To Do: The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teenagers get 9.25 hours of sleep each night (although for some kids, 8.5 hours is enough). Dr. Suzanne Phillips suggests discussing a nighttime plan with your kids -– either phones off after 11 p.m., or requiring them to charge it in another room overnight.

They’re Losing A Little Bit Of Hearing

One in 5 teens has experienced hearing loss — a number that’s increased in recent years. Though it hasn’t been proven, experts suggest loud music coming from digital music players could be to blame. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Personal music players, such as MP3 players, can cause lasting hearing loss if you turn the volume up high enough to mask the sound of other loud noises, such as those from a lawn mower.”

What To Do: The Associated Press points out that parents can set the maximum volume on their kids’ iPods and lock it with a code.

Their Brains Are … Different

Breathe out. There is no hard evidence to suggest that technology is rotting your kids’ brains. Sure, screens can be harmful: Today’s teens are more distracted; social media can contribute to psychological problems; and most obviously, they can’t read maps.

But there are also benefits to growing up with technology. Dr. Larry Rosen, author of Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and The Way They Learn, says that social media can help teens find their identity in the world. A recent study found that interactive tools did help kids learn. Toddlers who interacted with the screen picked up concepts and words faster.

While experts on both sides of the issue have strong opinions, most agree that moderation is key. And as parents, one must look at one’s own screen habits and remember that the kids are watching. “Kids do not need our undivided attention all day long, but they do in those real-life moments of talking and reading and doing the hard work of parenting — dealing with meltdowns, teaching them how to pick up their clothes,” Catherine Steiner-Adair, author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, told The Huffington Post.

So, moms and dads, it’s time to walk away from the computer, put the phone down and enjoy your kids face to face.
(After you share this article with your friends.)

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Book Review: The Seven Checkpoints

Book Review:  The Seven Checkpoints by Andy Stanley

The Good: 7 checkpoints If you have read any of my book reviews in the past, you know how much I enjoy the personal stories.  There is just something about personal stories that makes points stronger and more practical, in my opinion.  And in this book, there are plenty of these invaluable stories.  Other highlights of this book include the best explanation of the issue of teens and authority that I have every read or heard.  That is just one example how this book was able to provide superior insight in the spiritual life and spiritual needs of teenagers.  Then, in the final chapter, this book puts its money where its mouth is (whatever that means).  What I mean is, basically, the book takes you through the seven checkpoints that are vital principles that every teenager should know.  In the final chapter (and in the appendix) you have are given a game plan in how to implement these principles.

The Bad:  There are just a few things in this book that could be cleared up with a quick edit or backspace button.  Let me give you a few examples.  Rarely are there references next to the Scripture quotes.  Why?  That would just take a few seconds to correct and would be very helpful.  Stanley seems to have a propensity to use hyperbole in his writing.  Example would be on page 121, “The most difficult thing you will do as a teenager is walk away from relationships with people you really care about.”  Lastly, I would highly suggest reading the revised version.  In the 2001 version, there is no reference to texting and social media.  Also, when a celebrity is mentioned, they are outdated.  It needs a little updating.

The Grade:  B+.  This is one that every youth pastor or youth leader should read.  I realize it is written to youth leaders, and I see value in using this in parent meetings, but I guess I expected it to more applicable to parenting than it is.  Other than that, this has great value in youth ministries everywhere.

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4 Reasons Why Your Church Should Have an Encouragement Month

At our church, there is only one month where we encourage each other.  So we set aside October each year, and call it Encouragement Month, and get all the encouraging out of the way before the holidays.  Kidding. Kidding.

Encouragement month is where the church family is asked to attend kid & teen extracurricular (sports, band, drama, etc) activities.  The month prior, we ask parents and guardians to turn in their children’s schedules, so we can put together a master calendar of activities.  That calendar is blown up, and displayed in the lobby.  At the display, there are also copies of the schedule to take home.17.-Encourage-sunset

So what’s the point?  Seems like a great deal of organizing, for what purpose?  I’m glad you asked.  Here are 4 reasons why it is worth it, and why your church should consider doing it.

Kids Like Encouragement.  Imagine that.  Kids and teens like to be encouraged.  And let me tell you, when those students have a cheering section from their church, it means the world to them.  Never underestimate attending a ball game, play, or band concert.  All you have to do is sit there, and cheer when appropriate – apparently school plays aren’t the place for the wave.  Who knew?

Bring Generations Together.  I loved hearing stories of older generations attending some of the games or concerts.  When a young person sees the older generation taking interest in them, they begin to see them in a different light.  This small step can help bond the church together tighter, and can go a long way in the unity that churches crave.

A Youth Leader’s Best Friend.  As much as we would like to, it would be difficult for most youth pastors or leaders to be able to attend every student’s activities.  Or, if you are a smaller ministry, you may feel pressure to attend several games of the students you have, but your schedule doesn’t allow it.  Well, committing to attending games in October allows you to make sure a representative from your youth ministry comes to the game, and show that student support and keep the connection to your ministry.  And, for the smaller ministries, it allows you to streamline your schedule more effectively, and keeps you accountable in supporting your students in their extracurricular activities.

Connection to the Schools.  While your main purpose is not to make a connection with the school, it is to encourage the student.  Your attendance does provide an opportunity to meet administration, teachers, and coaches.  This connection could begin to develop into a larger ministry role in the future, when the school administration knows and sees your support.

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