Tips for Parents in the Digital Age

By Andrew Calabrese

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According to recent research, children ages 8-18 are spending more than 7 hours a day in front of an electronic device of some sort—whether it be a computer, iPad, smartphone, television, video game system, or anything else. According to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, “The average kid sponges in 2.5 hours of music every day, almost 5 hours of TV and movies, 3 hours of Internet and video games, and just 38 minutes of old-fashioned reading.”

Yes, we live in a tech-saturated world. Most kids cannot even imagine a world at home, school, or anywhere else without some sort of device within arms reach, and it’s having some incredibly negative effects on their emotional, intellectual, and physical well-being.

Do you remember when we were kids? We would come home from school and play in the back yard or ride bikes with our friends. Nowadays, kids want to plop on the couch and transform into a media garbage disposal for hours at a time. Is this really the best outlet for our kids?

Whatever happened to kids being instructed to go outside and use their imagination to have fun? What ever happened to our boys playing with sticks and homemade slingshots, and our girls playing with dolls and fixing each other’s hair? Whatever happened to kids sitting down and enjoying reading a good book?

If you ever fear that your kids are spending too much time in front of their gadgets and wish that you could motivate them to do something else, here are some ideas.

1. Pay them to do something more productive.

Yes, that’s right. Pay them to do something more productive with their lives rather than binge-watching Youtube or Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. For example, you could pay them to read a book. Why not choose what books you want your kids to read, and then tell them once they’re finished, you’ll pay them $10 (or whatever amount you choose). There are some great books out there that this generation may never even know existed. What better way to motivate your kids to read than to pay them to do it?

It doesn’t have to be reading. Pay them to do anything that would be more productive than sitting in front of a screen. You could pay them for learning to ride their bike, learning to fix the car with dad, or cleaning around the house—the list could go on!

2. Show them how much fun you can have doing other things.

Sadly, one of the biggest reasons our kids have become device junkies is because they have some amazing examples to follow—mom and dad. If your family time consists of everyone sitting around the living room doing their own separate things on their own devices, including mom and dad, then who’s to blame?

More than our kid’s desire to spend time on their devices, they are craving to spend time with us. Your kids want to have fun with you, but the problem is that we often don’t want to have fun. Let’s be honest in admitting that there are nights we would rather sit on the couch and sit in front of a screen ourselves than go outside and play catch with our son, or take a walk with our daughter, or build a fort with the kids to protect ourselves from “the bad guys.” I believe that if our kids saw how much fun they could have doing other things, then they would be more motivated to do them, and nothing is more motivating than when mom and dad participate in the fun.

3. Just remember, you are the parents.

We are the ones God has chosen to lead our families. We have the right to tell our kids what they can and cannot do. We can set time limits on their device usage. We can lead them to do what we think is best for their well-being. We can even enforce consequences when our expectations are not met. We can parent them in doing more productive things with their time. When parents provide even minimal media guidelines for their kids, it decreases their media consumption by as much as three hours a day! Unfortunately, only one third of kids say that their parents put any limits at all on their media usage.

Author Paul David Tripp points out, “You are God’s agent of change in your child’s life.” God gave you to them to shape and mold them into the people He wants them to be, and God gave them to you because He considers you trustworthy of such a task. I’ll be the first to admit that I enjoy the devices that our family owns as much as anyone else, but as the parents, we always have to be the ones in control of our devices—not the other way around.

It’s About Time

By Andrew Calabrese

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This may seem like an obvious question, but I want you to think about it anyway. Are you ready? Here it is: what is your most valuable, non-replenishing resource? The answer is—ding, ding, ding—time. You can always make more money, but you cannot make more time.

Biblical Masculinity

By Pastor Dorrell

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There are many needed and necessary things that should be done to encourage masculinity in our churches. To do nothing deliberately is to abdicate our congregations to cultural forces, which obviously have gender-neutral or feminist bias agendas. The approach I would like to ask you to consider is to simply teach and preach on the subject of what genuine masculinity looks like from your pulpits.

The Power of Our Words

​By Andrew Calabrese

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Our words are incredibly powerful. In fact, Solomon said this about our words in Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue:” To summarize, Solomon was saying that the words we speak can be life-giving words or they can be life-taking words.

I hate to BRAG, but…

By Jim Ramsey

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A Kentucky woman boasted to a Texan that there was so much gold in Fort Knox that you could build a wall of solid gold 10 feet high all around Texas. The Texan answered, “Well you go ahead and build it, little lady, and if Ah like it, Ah’ll buy it!” I’m a Texan, but I’ve never been that much of a braggart!

Nobody likes people who constantly brag, but the Bible actually encourages the right kind of “boasting!” The critical part of scriptural “boasting” is that it is directed toward Him Who alone is worthy of it! Bragging on myself is actually “misplaced affection,” and steals glory from the One to Whom I owe everything!   I want to made a determined effort to practice Psalm 34:2 “My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.”

Fake News

By Jesse Becker

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It’s been exhausting listening to the media (both main stream and otherwise), and hear all about “fake news.” What is fake news? It’s any news reporting that is fabricated either entirely or partially to make a political statement or influence people’s thoughts about a topic or person. Fake news is nothing more than varying degrees of lies with the intent of misleading. I, for one, am tired of it. It is becoming nearly impossible to distinguish fake news from real news. Unless you are personally connected with a person or an incident, I advise great caution on what you believe.

In a world of “fake news” I am so grateful that I have the Good News of the gospel. Whatever is spewed out around me, I know that I know that I have a written record from the One who holds all truths. God’s truths are absolute. They are as true today as they were when those Godly men penned them. The true news of God tells us of a holy, just and good God who created this beautiful world for us. The true news of God shows us that we are all sinners, and that our sin separates us from God and requires a payment for us to ever be able to fellowship with Him. The true news of God informs us that there is absolutely nothing we can do in and of ourselves to make such a payment. Then the true news turns to good news as we learn that God loves us in spite of our sin, and has made that payment through the death and resurrection of Jesus, His only Son; that Jesus’ blood can cleanse us from our sin; that all we must do to be saved is believe this good news!

But God doesn’t stop there. Verse after verse we learn that God cares about us in every way and works continually to mold us and shape us into the person He wants us to be. He promises to meet our needs and bless us when we submit to His ways.

I would lose all hope if all I had was the fake news in the media. Praise God for the good news—the true new—found in His Word. Be sure to read and listen and heed it. It is best news you’ll hear all day.

What it Means to be a Good Citizen.

By Oklahoma State Representative Tom Gann (District 8)

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First, you have to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. This sparks the desire to love your neighbor as yourself. If that is your foundational belief, everything you do from there helps you be a good citizen. You love God, which means you seek to learn His will for your life. You learn your spiritual gifts, talents, strengths, which show you the role you play in His body, the church. As the church fulfills its role in bringing about the kingdom of God – God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven, that changes society – from the individual to the family to the schools to the marketplace to the community to the government to the media… If you are loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself, you will do everything from that motivation, which means you will serve others but speak the truth in love as Paul did, correcting wrong behavior when encountered, helping set people on a right path to learning the love of God for them (expressed in the sacrifice of Christ) so they can repeat this pattern of serving others, bringing others into the knowledge of the love of God.

Once you know what you believe and why you believe it, you need to understand your local, state, and federal government and how they work. We live in the most blessed and exceptional country ever on the face of the planet. You should be familiar with how we govern ourselves. I would suggest studying the founding documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers. Read about our founding fathers to understand their perspective and what they believed, why they believed and why they were willing to risk all for their freedom.

One of the best books to read about the founding of our country is “The 5000 Year Leap” by Cleon Skousen. President Ronald Reagan said every high school student should read this book in order to graduate. The founding fathers did not see liberal versus conservative but rather liberty versus tyranny.

For local governments, understand your city and county governments and school boards. Find out who your local elected officials are and get to know them. Attend meetings and become involved. Listen; ask questions; send suggestions. Many laws start at the suggestion of a citizen who sees a better way to do something or a protection that needs to be added. A good book to read about the responsibility and importance of local governments and why they protect our freedom is the book “The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates: A Proper Resistance to Tyranny and a Repudiation of Unlimited Obedience to Civil Government.”

Finally, Christians make the best citizens. Romans 13 says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. It instructs us that all powers in place are there by the will of God.” We are to be good citizens to bring glory to God and do good in our communities. God established three institutions, the family, the government, and the church. This shows He is interested in the affairs of men and their governments, and it is our calling and duty not to neglect our understanding of our role as a citizen in our country.

Reasons to Read

By Pastor Troy Dorrell

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Over the course of my professional and vocational career, I have been a reader. I enjoy books and the learning process, and I have found that few things in life have benefitted me as much as my time in a good books and what I have extracted from them.

During and after college, I spent many hours reading technical journals, scientific literature, and books about both science and creation. My undergraduate degree was in Biology and Chemistry, and to this day I have a love for the natural world.

Exercising Regularly?

By Jim Ramsey

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For me, as well as for all seniors, an increased demand for attention to personal physical health and well-being is a big part of the “package” that comes with aging. As one who has been blessed with 10 years and 3 months of life beyond quintuple bypass surgery [April, 2006] I have certainly made an effort, with much spousal encouragement, to operate according to post-surgery dietary and exercise regimens, and though not always perfect, at least I am working at it.