Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Advice To My Daughters

I thought you might be interested in what I wrote to my daughters when they went to college.  It has been 13 years (Allison) and 15 years (Annie) since they started college.

I wrote each daughter a “special letter” that covered everything I felt was important. I wanted to make certain that I “expressed my heart” at least once!  And only once.  If I said it more than once, they would have considered it nagging.  And I didn’t want to nag.

I'm hoping this advice to my daughters will inspire you to write to your children.  What do you want to tell them?  What life lessons have you learned that you would like to share with your children?  I'd like you to read my "advice to my daughters," and consider what you would like to say to each of your children.

I decided the most important advice I could give my daughters was what Jesus taught in Mark 12:30, to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  How can we show Him love in our everyday life?  

Love the Lord with all your:

HEART (emotional life):

1. Be careful of your entertainment, because that will influence your emotions and your emotions will influence your behavior, your behavior will influence your character, your character is who you are.

2. If you have to choose, take character over money. Character dictates who you are, money only lets you know what you can buy.

3. Don’t forget to call and write your mother. I’d like a call every now and then, but your mother needs to hear from you often.

4. There is a difference between being frugal and being cheap. Don’t be cheap.

SOUL (spiritual life):

1. Get involved in a church that teaches Scripture and learn to hang out with others who attend your church.

2. Be consistent with your daily “quiet times” and prayer.

3. Don’t forget to tithe. Remember, it’s not your money. God is allowing you to be a steward of His money (Mal. 3:10).

4. Always be ready to give an answer for what you believe.

5. Never be ashamed of the Gospel.

6. Listening to Christian music can reinforce what you believe.”

MIND (mental life):

1. Read your local newspaper and/or watch the local news – get to know what is happening nationally and in your community.

2. Register to vote. Know about the candidates’ views and vote for the individual who best represents your values.  Don’t take your freedom for granted. 

3. Reading a book is time better spent than watching TV.

4. Continue your education so your choices in work and life won’t be limited.

STRENGTH (physical life):

1. Continue to eat properly and to exercise daily no matter how inconvenient it becomes.

2. Maintain your car. Keep all the maintenance records in a special file. That’s necessary when you go to sell it. Changing the oil every 3,000 miles is the best insurance you can have. Also, keep it waxed, especially if you have to park it outside.

3. Be the best employee at your company. Work as if your boss is looking over your shoulder even if everyone else slacks off.

4. Your number one job description is to make your boss successful.

I love you more than life,
Dad


For books and resources to help you connect and communicate values to your kids check out our website at: http://www.almenconi.com/
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teen Internet addicts more likely to develop depression

Chinese Study Shows Kids On Web More Than Five Hours A Day At Risk!
By Tan Ee Lyn, Reuters, 8/2/2010

HONG KONG — Teenagers who spend excessive amounts of time on the Internet are one and a half times more likely to develop depression than moderate web users, a study in China has found.

Researcher Lawrence Lam described some of the signs of excessive use spending at least five to more than 10 hours a day on the Web, agitation when the teens is not in front of the computer and loss of interest in social interaction.

"Some spend more than 10 hours a day, they are really problematic users and they show signs and symptoms of addictive behavior ... browsing the Internet, playing games," said Lam, co-author of the paper which was published on Tuesday in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

"They can't get their minds off the Internet, they feel agitated if they don't get back on after a short period of being away," the psychologist at Sydney's University of Notre Dame's School of Medicine said in a telephone interview.

"They don't want to see friends, don't want to join family gatherings, don't want to spend time with parents or siblings."

The study involved 1,041 teenagers aged between 13 and 18 years in China's southern Guangzhou city who were free of depression at the start of the investigation.

Nine months later, 84 of them were assessed as suffering from depression and those who were on the Internet excessively were one-and-a-half times more vulnerable than moderate users.

"Results suggested that young people who are initially free of mental health problems but use the Internet pathologically could develop depression as a consequence," wrote Lam, who co-authored the paper with Zi-wen Peng at the Sun Yat-Sen University's School of Public Health in Guangzhou.

The depression might be a result of lack of sleep and stress from competitive online games, he explained.

"People who spend so much time on the Internet will lose sleep and it is a very well established fact that the less one sleeps, the higher the chances of depression," Lam said.

Lam said this was the first study looking into pathological use of the Internet as a possible cause for depression.

A previous study pointed to depression as a possible causal factor for Internet addiction, while several other studies showed a link between the two without clearly pointing which was the cause and which one the result.


Lam called for schools to screen students for Internet addiction, so they may receive counseling and treatment.



For books and resources to help you connect and communicate values to your kids check out our website at: http://www.almenconi.com/
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Courage to Be Bored







The Courage to Be Bored
Kids and Video Screens

This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship president Mark Earley July 23, 2010 Reprinted from www.BreakPoint.org 

If I asked you what your teenage children are doing right now, you might not know. But the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation have a pretty good idea.

According to a recent Kaiser study, if your teenager is awake and isn't in school, he or she is staring at a screen a smart-phone, a computer, or watching television.

The authors claimed to have been "shocked" by the results.

Kaiser's researchers interviewed more than 2,000 kids between the ages of eight and eighteen. They found that, on average, the participants in the study spent seven and one-half hours a day using these devices! What's more, that figure understates the amount of time American kids devote to consuming media and other related activities.

For instance, it does not include time spent actually talking on these smart-phones or sending and receiving messages. That adds another one-and-a-half hours to the total. When you add time spent doing several media-related things at once, that is multi-tasking, American kids spend the equivalent of eleven hours a day tethered to an electronic device.

The authors were "stunned" because they believed that media consumption among kids had already maxed out when they last measured it in 2005. What didn't take into account, either then or now, is what drives the heavy usage: dread of being bored.

As one 14-year-old told the Times, "I feel like my days would be boring without" my smart phone. It's not only him. As New Testament scholar Ben Witherington recently wrote, smart-phones "are seen as the cure for boredom."

This "boredom" is "in most cases...the state of mind of those who lack imagination and therefore require all kinds of stimuli to prevent them from losing interest in things, and even in life." That's why people, adults as well as kids, are "constantly fiddling with their cellphone." The alternative to all this fiddling is being alone with your own thoughts, which terrifies people used to the constant stimulation provided by our media-saturated culture.

Happily, parents can help their kids to avoid this trap. The Kaiser study found that parents can make rules limiting this kind of mindless media consumption and that their children will follow them. It won't be easy but, then again, swimming against the cultural tide never is.

Speaking of swimming against the tide, even more important than rules and limits is teaching our children that we don't need constant stimulation. On the contrary, being quiet and still is an essential part of the Christian life. We are told "be still" so that we may learn who God is. God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice.

Neuroscientists tell us that many, if not most, of our most creative and productive moments come when we step back from all the stimulation and let our minds be free. In other words, what many people call "boredom" is good for us in ways that the constantly-stimulated can't begin to imagine.

We're not talking about letting our minds wander just anywhere. What we're told to do is invest our life in a relationship with Christ. In His word, in prayer, and in meditation.

Unplugging and stepping back for some time alone with God is yet another reason for us to unplug our kids and ourselves and risk being bored. For all the right reasons.






For books and resources to help you connect and communicate values to your kids check out our website at: http://www.almenconi.com/
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why Profanity Matters

Why Profanity Matters
by Alex McFarland, 
Published in PluggedIn.com 10-11-2010


Magic Mountain, an amusement park in Southern California, is known for a roller coaster named X. Coincidentally, I was there to speak at a youth event when I overheard an X-rated conversation—between churched teens no less. It prompted me to address the issue from stage. I asked, "How many of you struggle with using bad language?" Many hands went up. I followed up with questions we've all probably considered at some point: Is it wrong for a Christian to use curse words? If so, why? And what makes profanity, well, profane?

Entertainment is full of swear words, sexual innuendo and scatological slang. I recently read a study of prime-time TV in which the Parents Television Council found more than 11,000 expletives—nearly twice as many as in 1998. Indeed, in our coarsening culture, some young people can't recall a time when f-bombs weren't part of "normal" discourse. Kids use it because they've grown up hearing profanity and having it reinforced by the media. And somehow it becomes a personal habit that even Christian teens may consider acceptable in certain situations.

I've heard people argue that words are just noises we make. They're sounds. They don't really mean anything. But such a position is contradictory. To deny the power of language one must debate with … words. And those combinations of letters and sounds require meaning to be grasped. You have to assume that, objectively, your listener understands what you're saying. We can't get around the fact that words contain meaning.

Words also yield consequences. For proof that language matters, consider that we have an entire lexicon associated with their misuse: fraud, slander, libel, perjury, harassment, defamation. The ways people abuse words have social, psychological, legal and even spiritual implications. 

All to Jesus I SurrenderThe Bible reminds us that we should speak in ways that honor God and benefit others. Ephesians 4:29 says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." James 1:26 warns us to keep a tight rein on our tongues, while Colossians 3:8 says, "Rid yourselves of all things such as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips."

Regarding the use of coarse language by believers, some people contend that since Christ has made us free, howwe say things doesn't really matter. While salvation sets us free from the penalty of sin, freedom doesn't equallicense. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that Christians have an obligation to pursue holiness (Eph. 4:24; Titus 2; 1 Pet. 1:13-15 and 2:24).

Indeed, God's ownership of a believer extends even to the words we use. According to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 we're mere stewards. Jesus Christ owns us lock, stock and barrel. That includes mind and mouth. Discipleship and spiritual maturity require a level of obedience that should find us yielding everything to God. 

Judged by the Words We UseTeens should submit their vocabularies to the lordship of Christ, in part because God is always listening. His grace is perfect, but if words didn't matter Jesus wouldn't have said, "I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matt. 12:36-37).

We derive our word profanity from a biblical term that means "outside the temple." Profane means "unholy" or "unwholesome." As we saw in Ephesians 4:29, some types of speech are literally unholy. Spouting certain four-letter words can hinder spiritual growth, harm relationships with others and undermine our credibility as bearers of Gospel truth. 

Christians possess an advantage by having a pure well of words from which to draw. Years ago, as a new believer working my way through college, a superior noticed that I didn't tell off-color jokes or use foul language like others in the workplace. Not only did this create a witnessing opportunity, but I was promoted to a level that no 21-year-old had ever held in that company. My boss later told me that my habit of avoiding profanity convinced him that I must be honest, and this led him to promote me. 

Every communicator has thousands of words at his or her disposal. In the quest for individuality and self-expression, there's no shortage of raw material. Teens need to talk! Comment! Express! Emote! But only in ways that speak well of themselves and of their Savior.

Alex McFarland is president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and host of the daily radio program SoundRezn. He's also Plugged In's teen apologetics expert. For more on his ministry and speaking schedule, visitwww.alexmcfarland.com.


For books and resources to help you connect and communicate values to your kids check out our website at: http://www.almenconi.com/
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bullying Knows No Bounds

Bullying Knows No Bounds
The Tragedy of Tyler Clementi

By: Chuck Colson in BreakPoint.Org
October 5, 2010 

You've no doubt heard about the tragic suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi. Clementi's college roommate secretly filmed Clementi as he was having an intimate encounter with another man. And then the roommate broadcast the encounter on the internet. Clementi ended his life by jumping off New York's George Washington Bridge.

The entire nation was shocked by the level of cruelty, thoughtlessness, and irresponsibility that led to Clementi's suicide.

But the sad truth is we're fallen creatures. Teenagers have always intimidated and harassed other teenagers. And now with the advent of social media-Facebook, Myspace, Twitter-young people have a new way to abuse and torment each other. It's called cyber bullying.

As Kathleen Parker wrote in the Washington Post, "The emergence of social media, combined with mass access to technology . . . has enabled an insatiable market for spying and gossip. The result has been a cultural breakdown in decency and a blurring of the boundaries of what should be private and public."

Parker went on to write: "Although Clementi was filmed with another man, one can imagine as easily a roommate spying on a heterosexual encounter."

She's right. Cyber bullying is an equal-opportunity crime.

And yet, I'm noticing a disturbing trend, a subtext if you will, in the media coverage of Clementi's suicide.

The New York Times reports, for example, that a Seattle-based sex columnist Dan Savage is particularly "irate at religious leaders who use 'antigay rhetoric.'"

And the Huffington Post notes that Clementi's suicide is galvanizing the gay community-just as the murder of Matthew Shepard "galvanized the gay community around hate-crime legislation more than a decade ago."

I fear that the gay lobby may well use this tragedy to try to further its agenda and silence those who oppose them. Remember, Katie Couric blamed Jim Dobson and the religious right for the Shepard murder.

So, how should Christians respond to Clementi's tragic death?

First, we must absolutely, positively condemn harassment and bullying in all of their ugly forms. Second, we must absolutely, positively defend biblical morality in a way that rejects condemnation-and invites conversation and conversion.

This is why I so fervently believe in the Manhattan Declaration. It beautifully captures the right message of the church to the homosexual community. Let me quote from the declaration itself:

"We respect [those disposed to homosexuality] as human beings possessing profound, inherent, and equal dignity . . . We, no less than they, are sinners who have fallen short of God's intention for our lives. We, no less than they, are in constant need of God's patience, love and forgiveness. We call on the entire Christian community . . . to refrain from disdainful condemnation of those who yield to [sexual immorality.] Our rejection of sin, though resolute, must never become the rejection of sinners."

That, I believe, sums up a proper Christian attitude toward homosexual behavior. Go towww.ManhattanDeclaration.org , read the Manhattan Declaration and sign it. And then learn how to use these kinds of arguments to address this issue in public. Share it with your friends-especially with those who may disagree.




For books and resources to help you connect and communicate values to your kids check out our website at: http://www.almenconi.com/
Al Menconi Ministries Facebook Page
Parenting help for the Internet age
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Keeping Kids Safe In the digital age
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