“When I have to search a student’s cell phone, I’m sick to my stomach at what I find. It gets worse every year.”
“Parents. I am an assistant principal in a middle school (grades 6-8). My number one job is to create and sustain a school environment where both students and teachers feel safe (physically, emotionally, and mentally) to teach, learn, innovate, and socialize. I take my job very seriously, as do my colleagues. We work very hard to grow in our capacity to do this work on a daily basis.
I can’t begin to describe how much time I spend every day dealing with issues that stem from unsupervised cell phone usage by our students. In the situations where I have to search a student’s cell phone, I often get sick to my stomach at what I find (highly inappropriate photos, videos, messages, social media usage, etc.). The things our students are willing to try and be a part of at such a young age gets worse and worse every year.
When I call parents to inform them of what is going on, I always ask them how often they search their kids’ phones. The shock gets even worse when 90% of them say hardly ever or never. And then they get upset at me, accuse me of lying to them about their kids’ roles in certain situations, or expect me to somehow fix the situation.
Parents. It is your number one job as a parent to get in your kids’ way at all times. Kids do not deserve privacy without accountability. You own their devices, not them. You should be having the hard conversations with them about life, relationships, their bodies, their futures, etc. It is your responsibility to provide social and emotional support, help build coping skills, and monitor their activities, especially online. Please stop actively working against the schools and start working with us. We are not the enemy. We are trying to fulfill the role of both parent and educator in many situations, and that is a very delicate and difficult line to walk.
Youth leaders are engaged in a silent war with very real forces of darkness. Arm yourself when you join Youth Leaders Only.
Here are four tips for ‘getting in your child’s way.’ You can modify any of these based on your relationship with your children.
Eat dinner as a family every night possible and actually talk. No devices allowed. Current research suggests parents only spend about 8 minutes a day in conversation with their kids. That’s unacceptable.
Check their devices RANDOMLY AND OFTEN. You need to learn how to navigate their world. Inform yourself on how to use certain apps. Keep up with what apps are the most downloaded in the App Store. Make your kid show you their content and conversations and explain to you what is going on. Then give them advice. MAKE CONTENT WITH THEM and be part of their online presence.
Create opportunities for them to have new experiences. Take them to do new things, see new things, and learn new things. This not only strengthens their brain development, emotional development, and builds resiliency in kids, but it also strengthens your relationship with them.
And finally, do not let them take their phones into their rooms, shut their doors, and disappear for hours. Nothing good ever happens on the internet behind closed doors. The online world is by far the most dangerous place our students go to every day. We can’t assume they will intuitively know how to navigate the dangers of the online world on their own.
As we are talking about issues with Purity and Sex in our weekly Middle School environments, I want to be honest with you as a Middle School Parent… I don’t like these talks either! This stuff is personal, and yet we live in a world that entices us to make our personal issues public, while exploiting every bit of them for whatever means are out there. That is a main reason the Oakwood Student Ministry carries that mindset that “SOMETHING MUST BE SAID” in regards to God’s Plan and what we are up against on a daily basis.
The second thing I want you to know is that, even though I am a Pastor in this area, I am still hoping and praying for my own kids to walk rightly in the Lord and choose a life of Purity. That is why Laura and I have been intentional with Katie, as she entered 6th grade, and Noah, as he is midway through 5th grade, to enter into the conversation about sex and God’s view of purity within His plan.
Our advice to you, whether you use this material or not, is to intentionally plan a time that is best for you and your child to have the deep conversations that will direct the future of your child’s sexuality toward Godly Wisdom, rather than the standards brought forth by the culture and worldly views we live in today.
Noah and I Toured the 750 foot tall Tower of the Americas during our Passport 2 Purity Getaway.
By the way, my time with Noah was not ALL SERIOUS stuff! I’m not that boring and he can’t stay still for that long. We planned a Spurs Game outing, ate tons of pancakes at IHOP, played games at Dave and Buster’s, and enjoyed some one-on-one time together. Yes, we shared deep things dealing with the purity issues of today, but we also connected in a way that will set up an ongoing conversation in the days to come. That, in my mind, is priceless.
Laura and I recommend Passport 2 Purity and the Family Life Ministry, because we know we need tools to help launch us into this teenage phase of life. We hope and pray that all our Middle School Parents have the opportunity to do the same, because we have already seen the positive impact.
If you are interested in the materials, click on the image and links below:
None of Your Business is a four-part series centered around the topic of sex. The goal is to help your middle schooler both understand God’s design for sex and begin to think about healthy boundaries and practices when it comes to sex. Though it may be an awkward, new, or serious conversation for students in this phase to have, it’s an important one that will help them frame their curiosity, impulses, choices, and experiences concerning sex in a healthy, God-designed way.
Part 1, Feb 9
GENESIS 1:27-28a; GENESIS 2:25; GENESIS 2:24 Sex is good, and sex is powerful.
Part 2, Feb 12
1 CORINTHIANS 6:18-20 Technology is good, and technology is powerful.
Part 3, Feb 16
1 JOHN 1:5-7; 1 JOHN 1:8-9 Confession is good, and confession is powerful.
Part 4, Feb 19
1 CORINTHIANS 6:18; 1 CORINTHIANS 6:19-20; 1 CORINTHIANS 10:13 Boundaries are good, and boundaries are powerful.
Duncan Campbell is a local Youth Ministry friend and creative mind that has a desire to use his gifts to engage the community with the Love of Jesus… and maybe some laughter too.
With creative live photography, live music, a dash of comedy, and examples from science and the Bible, Christian author Duncan Campbell delivers an inspiring and innovative presentation on how everything is connected, full of mysterious wonder, and heading toward hope.
At just 17, Andy Mineo had it all—money, power and respect. But while attending college in NYC, he finally faced the music—neither was the key to life.
Andy, formerly known as “C-Lite,” grew up in a single parent home in Syracuse, New York. Without any positive male figures around, at a young age, he struggled with profanity, submission to authority and physical aggression. With his conduct becoming uncontrollable, Andy was removed from the public school system and placed in behavioral modification centers. But change was on the horizon.
The summer before entering the 8th grade, Andy attended a Christian camp where his sister served as a counselor. While there, he heard the gospel preached clearly, cried out in desperation for Jesus to forgive him and experienced “some pretty unforgettable prayer sessions that really rocked [him].” Andy came home with a love in his heart for people that he once hated, and knew he was changed. But, he also came back to no home church, no community, no bible study and no mentors. So, as he rode his spiritual high into the ground and neglected to fan the flame that had begun, his relationship with God was compromised. His heart wasn’t set on pursuing Christ; instead, music and status had become his focus.
While in middle school, he began recording in his mom’s house and was buying new pieces of equipment with birthday money. Eventually, he started selling studio time out of his closet; before long, he was a sophomore in high school running a full-fledged business out of his mother’s basement making $25/hr recording and producing hundreds of artists in Upstate New York. He had also started a rap group with a few friends that led to a deal with Syracuse University’s Marshall Street Records, which gave them the opportunity to open up for the major acts that performed at SU. As a solo MC, Andy became well known in the underground freestyle rap scene for winning battle competitions during high school and his freshman year in college. Adding to his resume, he also excelled in athletics—thriving in football, basketball and lacrosse throughout high school.
With the financial success of his recording studio, his rap group/solo underground career taking off and athletic prowess, Andy had local fame, money and street credibility. Unfortunately, all of the success and recognition only led him away from God and towards greater sin. Headed for the big lights of New York City to attend college, stardom and rebellion seemed inevitable. But while taking a piano class his freshman year, Andy met Alex Medina (producer of “Background,” “The invasion (Hero)” and many other Reach tracks) who invited him to check out T.R.U.C.E. (an urban ministry that focused on evangelism via performing arts). He soon got connected with others, was discipled and the Lord began to deal with him more deeply concerning sin patterns in his life. After hearing Da Truth’s “Price Tag” song, he vowed to shut down his recording studio and never use his gifts to help record music that did not honor God. He lost all his business and income, but he found his new identity in Christ.
Armed with a new purpose, Andy spent several months traveling with T.R.U.C.E. and sharing the Gospel in some of the most poverty-stricken and drug-infested neighborhoods in the U.S. He went on to release Sin is Wack Vol. 1, which caught the attention of Lecrae and many others. To his credit, he has since been featured on Rehab, Flame’s Captured, Tedashii’s Blacklight, Ambassador’s Stop the Funeral and many other notable projects. While his introduction to a larger audience came through his vocals on Lecrae’s “Background,” and he continues to pen melodic choruses, rapping remains his passion and focus for future projects.
Entering a new season in his life, Andy decided to drop his stage name, C-Lite, in favor of his birth name; it symbolizes his aim to live out everything off stage that he pours out through his art on stage. He recently graduated from City College of New York and currently serves on the board as a leader of a new church plant in Washington Heights. He is also leading weekly small groups and men’s groups at his apartment, traveling on the weekends to minister and working on his highly anticipated debut album. Once divided in his ambitions, Andy has resolved to love the Lord with all his heart, soul, strength and mind—no compromise.
This Series has created a safe place for our Middle Schoolers to ask BIG QUESTIONS and think about how Science and Faith can actually work together, rather than being AT ODDS with one another.
THINK ABOUT THIS:
At Odds is a three-week series designed to navigate the relationship between two important subjects: science and faith.
A conversation like this is so important at this point in your middle schooler’s development. They’re just now learning to think for themselves and ask deeper questions, and this series will help them exercise both of those skills regarding science and faith.
Your kids are learning that asking questions about God can actually grow their faith. So this week, make a point to share a question you’ve had about God with your middle schooler. Talk to them about how that specific question actually strengthened your relationship with Him, even if you didn’t find the answer!
Lee Strobel makes the case for the existence of an intelligent designer.
A former atheist, Lee Strobel is now a well-known apologist for the Christian faith. He is also a popular public speaker and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of more than 20 books including The Case for Christ,The Case for Faith and his newest release, The Case for Miracles. Educated at the University of Missouri and Yale Law School, Lee worked …More by Lee Strobel
THE ISSUE: Does current scientific data support the theory that the universe was created with intelligent design?
WHAT SKEPTICS SAY: Belief in an intelligent designer is a religious theory that has no basis in science. Scientific data supports evolutionary theory, and everyone knows it.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1).
THE DESIGN HYPOTHESIS
“A big, fundamental question, like belief in God (or disbelief), is not settled by a single argument,” said physicist-turned-theologian John Polkinghorne in Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity. “It’s too complicated for that. What one has to do is to consider lots of different issues and see whether or not the answers one gets add up to a total picture that makes sense.”
That’s the approach I took in my investigation. I probed six different scientific disciplines to see whether they point toward or away from the existence of an intelligent designer.
When I opened my mind to the possibility of an explanation beyond naturalism, the theory denying any supernatural existence in the universe, I found that the design hypothesis — that says there is a purposeful, intelligent, created order to the universe — most clearly accounted for the evidence of science. Consider some of the facts from my investigation:
The Evidence of Cosmology
Thanks to scientific discoveries of the last 50 years, the ancient kalam cosmological argument has taken on a powerful and persuasive new force. As described by William Lane Craig, the argument is simple yet elegant: First, whatever begins to exist has a cause.
Second, the universe had a beginning. Based on the data, virtually all cosmologists now agree the universe began in the Big Bang at some specific point in the past. Craig stressed that even alternate theories for the origin of the universe require a beginning.
The conclusion then follows from the two premises: Therefore, the universe has a cause. Even once-agnostic astronomer Robert Jastrow conceded the essential elements of Christianity and modern cosmology are the same: “The chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply, at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”
The Evidence of Physics
One of the most striking discoveries of modern science has been that the laws and constants of physics unexpectedly conspire in an extraordinary way to make the universe habitable for life. For instance, said physicist-philosopher Robin Collins, gravity is fine-tuned to one part in a hundred million billion billion billion billion billion.
The cosmological constant, which represents the energy density of space, is as precise as throwing a dart from space and hitting a bull’s-eye just a trillionth of a trillionth of an inch in diameter on Earth. One expert said there are more than 30 physical or cosmological parameters that require precise calibration in order to produce a universe that can sustain life.
The Evidence of Astronomy
Similar to the fine-tuning of physics, Earth’s position in the universe and its intricately choreographed geological and chemical processes work together with exquisite efficiency to create a safe place for humans to live.
For example, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez and science philosopher Jay Wesley Richards said it would take a star with the highly unusual properties of our sun — the right mass, the right light, the right age, the right distance, the right orbit, the right galaxy, the right location — to nurture living organisms on a circling planet. Numerous factors make our solar system and our location in the universe just right for a habitable environment.
What’s more, the exceptional conditions that make life possible also happen to make our planet strangely well-suited for viewing and analyzing the universe and our environment. All of this suggests our planet may be rare, if not unique, and that the Creator wanted us to be able to explore the cosmos.
“If the universe had not been made with the most exacting precision, we could never have come into existence,” said Harvard-educated astrophysicist John A. O’Keefe of NASA. “It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.”
The Evidence of Biochemistry
Darwin said, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” Biochemist Michael Behe has demonstrated exactly that through his description of “irreducibly complex” molecular machines.
These complicated, microscopic contraptions, such as cilia and bacterial flagella, are extremely unlikely to have been built piece-by-piece through Darwinian processes, because they had to be fully present in order to function. Other examples include the incredible system of transporting proteins within cells and the intricate process of blood clotting.
More than just a devastating challenge to Darwinism, these amazing biological systems which far exceed the capacity of human technology point toward a transcendent Creator. “My conclusion,” said Behe, “can be summed up in a single word: design. I say that based on science. I believe that irreducibly complex systems are strong evidence of a purposeful, intentional design by an intelligent agent.”
The Evidence of Biological Information
The six feet of DNA coiled inside every one of our body’s one hundred trillion cells contain a four-letter chemical alphabet that spells out precise assembly instructions for all the proteins from which our bodies are made. Cambridge-educated Stephen Meyer demonstrated that no hypothesis has come close to explaining how information got into biological matter by naturalistic means.
On the contrary, he said that whenever we find a sequential arrangement that’s complex and corresponds to an independent pattern or function such as books and computer code, this kind of information is always the product of intelligence.
“Information is the hallmark of a mind,” Meyer said. “And purely from the evidence of genetics and biology, we can infer the existence of a mind that’s far greater than our own — a conscious, purposeful, rational, intelligent designer who’s amazingly creative.”
The Evidence of Consciousness
Many scientists are concluding that the laws of chemistry and physics cannot explain our experience of consciousness. Professor J.P. Moreland defined consciousness as our introspection, sensations, thoughts, emotions, desires, beliefs and free choices that make us alive and aware. The “soul” contains our consciousness and animates our body.
According to a researcher who showed that consciousness can continue after a person’s brain has stopped functioning, current scientific findings “would support the view that ‘mind,’ ‘consciousness,’ or the ‘soul’ is a separate entity from the brain.”
As Moreland said, “You can’t get something from nothing.” If the universe began with dead matter having no conscious, “how, then, do you get something totally different — consciousness, living, thinking, feeling, believing creatures — from materials that don’t have that?” But if everything started with the mind of God, he said, “we don’t have a problem with explaining the origin of our mind.”