Dear Graduate, Advice From Someone Who Cares

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Dear Graduate,

Congratulations! You have reached a very important milestone in your life, and you should be very proud of your accomplishment. Your parents could not be more ecstatic, your grandparents think you are awesome, and even your siblings can not keep from shedding a tear of joy. You, my friend, are a bona fied rock star! And then, you wake up and find yourself on the other side of graduation day with a big ole “welcome to the real world” staring you right in the face. What are you going to do now? You could not wait to get here, and now you are not so sure you are ready to enter into the unknown.

grad1Do not fear. First of all, start by remembering that graduation is a commencement. Commencement means a beginning, a start. There is something beautiful about a new beginning such as spring or a new born babe. Likewise, this commencement of your adult life is also beautiful and fresh. Embrace it! Welcome the many possibilities with open arms, an open heart, and an open Bible. Let the Word of God be the lens through which you view every situation, and the filter through which you wisely discern each decision.

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Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.”

Always remember, you are not alone. You have family and friends that want nothing more than to help you succeed. But even more than that, your Father in heaven wants to help you succeed.

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Philippians 4:6

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

So, with all these people who have your back, the question that begs to be asked is, “what constitutes success?” After all, you didn’t work this hard and come this far to settle for mediocrity, right?

1. Is success getting into the best university?

2. Is success keeping a 4.0?

3. Is success earning a college degree?

4. Is success obtaining a prestigious career?

5. Is success becoming famous?

6. Is success amassing a fortune?

The answer is yes and no. I know, I know. This letter is supposed to be helpful and not confuse you even more than you already are. Just hear me out. Most of these things, in and of themselves, are admirable goals to set for yourself. There is nothing wrong with furthering your education, becoming a productive member of society, and planning your financial future. In fact hard work definitely has its reward.

Proverbs 13:4

“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
    while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”

Being richly supplied is a great reason to work hard, but let me encourage you to concentrate your effort on treasure that is incorruptible.

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John 6:27

“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

You see true success really has nothing at all to do with numbers 1-6. True success is a home in heaven. True success is eternal life.

Matthew 16:26

 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

You are at the beginning of the rest of your life. Your future requires you to make many choices. Some will be failures and some will be successes. My hope for you is that you will accept nothing less than TRUE SUCCESS, graduate. Why reach for the stars when you can reach so much higher?

capsIn Him,

Shanna

 

Ten Lessons Learned By a Note Taker

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Not too many days ago, my youngest son came to me with a new revelation brought on by self-evaluation. He said, “Mama, I think I need to start taking sermon notes. I think it would help me stay focused and better remember what was said.” If my face could have been captured at that moment, I am almost certain my wide grin would rival the infamous smile of the Cheshire Cat.

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You see, I am a note taker. I fully understand the benefits of note taking. I have notebook after notebook filled with notes taken at my home congregation, various Gospel Meetings, ladies days, CYC, PTP, and various other arenas. I cherish those pages filled with nuggets of wisdom that have been pulled from the Word of God.

James 3:17

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere”

These notebooks are extremely valuable. Is it because they were expensive expenditures? No. The majority of them were purchased for less than two dollars each and several of them cost me nothing at all. Is it because they are filled with private thoughts that I want to remain hidden? No. On the contrary, they are filled with important thoughts that were shared with me. They are valuable because they are treasure troves that I can return to again and again to revisit ideas, topics, and thoughts that will benefit me spiritually.

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It has been my experience that taking sermon notes helps me deal with information overload. I have found that at times I can have so much information thrown at me that it can be extremely difficult to mentally digest. When I take notes, I can rest assured that although I may not be completely wrapping my mind around the subject matter, revisiting it is close at hand only a few pages away.

biblepageThe month of April is the month of Gospel Meetings in my little neck of the woods. Chances are, that time of the year can mean back to back Gospel meetings, especially if you are a preacher’s wife like me. While I love being completely immersed in God’s word, I often find myself having trouble retaining all the good news presented to me. This is when my note taking really shows itself to be more than beneficial.

1. I find I focus more clearly when I am in the process of putting what I hear down on paper.

2. If my mind is in the right place, I am able to internalize and retain more than I even realize.

3. If I did not completely retain everything in the sermon (and who can?), I can go back to it as many times as needed and restudy it.

4. I have found myself going back to my notes time and time again when I am writing or preparing to teach others.

Here is a case in point. Our spring meeting at our home congregation was right on the heels of a meeting my husband held at a sister congregation. I went into it pretty exhausted both physically and mentally. I had really been looking forward to hearing some great lessons from our guest speaker, Bro. Jeremiah James Tatum, but was worried I was dulled down too much. Let me tell you, note taking was the answer that quelled my fears. It enabled me to be relaxed enough to savor the Word, and focused enough to listen for understanding. Did I take it ALL in? Probably not, but I got to go back and “hear” it all over again. Here are just TEN things that I was blessed to hear and REMEMBER because of my notes.

1. Obedience to God is a matter of life and death. Choose life!

Deut. 3:19

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live”

2. The Word of God is available, attainable, and doable!

Deut. 30:11-14

” Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.”

3. In an attempt to not have to deal with things we don’t like, we often stop up our ears, just like those who stoned Stephen. Regardless of how well we listen, the truth remains and we will have to answer for our rejection of it.

Acts 7:57-58

“Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;  and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.”

4. Satan has us distracted and tells us there is no hurry.

John 8:44b

 “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

5.In order to have times of refreshing, a cleansing must occur first.

Acts 3:19

” Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”

6. Conversion is a complete and total destruction of self.

2 Cor. 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

7. People who truly love Christ will think about the cross daily.

1 Cor. 1:18

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”

8.If you have Christ, you have more to offer the world than anyone else.

Acts 3:6

Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 

9. God created us so that all men have a God shaped hole in their heart.

Acts 17:27-28

“so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring‘”

10. God has promised no matter how far we stray from Him, He will always take us back.

Psalm 103:1-5

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

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I am almost certain that had I not taken notes, many of these great thoughts would be far removed from my memory. Had I relied on memory alone, not only would I miss out on returning to this edification, but so would you. Note taking, as simple as it seems, can be a great tool in your spiritual growth. If you are not a note taker, listen to some smart advise from the mouth of a babe, my 10 year old son, and give note taking a try!

Shanna

My Inner Fish? A Big “Fish Story”

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I have a confession to make. My name is Shanna and I am a “closet” foodie. Both the irony and hilarity of this is not lost on those who know me very well. You see, I am probably one of the finickiest eaters with the absolute blandest palate in the universe. (Just ask a few of them and you will know I am not exaggerating in any way) I guess you might say I live vicariously through others who LOVE all varieties of cuisine. The way I accomplish this “addiction” is by watching LOTS of cooking shows. I enjoy observing Guy, Alton, Giada, and many other food experts cook and talk about all things food related. However, I don’t just stick to the main cooking channels for my fix. From as far back as childhood, I can remember being super excited about the cooking shows on PBS. In this same vein, I still enjoy spending a portion of my Saturday watching these shows on my local public television station.

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Just this past Saturday after being completely immersed in bayou fare and preparing to witness the preparation of some down home vittles, I sat through a few commercials of upcoming programming. Even though I am fully aware of some of the “anti-creation” shows for which PBS is famous such as Nova, I must admit one of the commercials caught me off guard. At first I was completely drawn in by the great camera work and catchy music. It didn’t take long however for the jaw dropping title, “Your Inner Fish”, to grab me by the throat and stifle my breathing. I really didn’t know the appropriate way to react to the absurdity of such an idea. I mean, should I laugh as if it must be a joke, or sob when the reality of what it really meant sunk in?

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What does it mean? Well, at eye level it is yet another jab at creationism. Although, I must admit, this seemed to be taking it to a completely different level. The notion that we “evolved” from the Tiktaalik, the “fish with hands,” because our hands resemble the make up of its fins is not that different than the comparisons made between us and “Lucy” and many other bogus “scientific” finds. It was the APPROACH that made me pause for thought. The difference wasn’t so much what they said as how they said it. In their own words they presented this falsehood in a way that was “enlightening, accessible and told with irresistible enthusiasm”.

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What does it REALLY mean, then? It means we, Daddy, Mama, Grandma, Grandpa, Elder, Preacher, and teacher, have been handed a declaration of war. We must ask ourselves a serious question.

Psalm 11:3

“If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?”

The answer is abundantly clear.

1 Timothy 6:12

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

We CAN NOT turn a blind eye and hope this will go away. Not only must we prepare ourselves for this epic battle, we MUST arm our children as well. Doing so is crucial in order to “lay hold on eternal life”. All battles that are to be won are built upon forethought, planning, and strategy. One of the best tactics used on the battlefield is to “fight fire with fire”. So how do we do this? We follow the lead of our foe. The exception is we have absolute truth.

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1. The word of God is ENLIGHTENING

We must have light in order to successfully navigate our way through darkness.

Psalm 119:105

“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.”

We wouldn’t dream of sending our children into the darkness of night without first equipping them with adequate lighting. Friends, we must not send our children out into this dark world without thoroughly equipping them with the light of God’s word.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”

It is imperative that we impress upon our children the importance of Bible study. This starts in the home through modeled behavior and diligent instruction.

In order to win this war, we must recognize His light, possess His light, and display His light.

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2. We must make the word of God ACCESSIBLE 

We as soldiers of Christ must be spreading the gospel on a daily basis.

Matthew 28:19

 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”

We have been given this treasure and have been charged with sharing it with others.

Matthew 5:16 

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

It is imperative that we teach the precepts and doctrine that is able to save men’s souls starting in our homes and spilling forth into the community, the country, and the world.

In order to win this war, we must combat Satan’s lies by heartily and persistently extending to  as many as will hear the life giving, God breathed word recorded in the Holy Bible.

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3. We must teach the word of God with IRRESISTIBLE ENTHUSIASM

Do you remember the early days of your courtship? You absolutely gushed with joy as you spoke about the one you loved to anyone who would listen. Now I am not suggesting using theatrics and unbiblical tactics to draw people in on pure emotion. What I am saying is if we really love something and believe in it, we will shout its praises from the rooftops for everyone to hear. If we love God and His word, we will not keep silent.

Matthew 5:15

“Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.”

How can we possibly expect others to be excited about the truth when we ourselves seem indifferent and uninterested?

In order to win this war, we must whole heartedly, unashamedly live and present God’s word with the enthusiasm it demands and deserves.

We all understand that we are the workmanship of our great Creator and almost laugh at the preposterous idea that we are the evolved form of a fish. We may even find a tad bit of comfort in the “safe” confines of our homes, congregations, and small town communities. We can not be lulled into a false sense of security. Sometimes the only wake up call we may need is something as seemingly benign as watching a cooking show on the weekend. Mark Twain once said, “Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.” I believe Satan couldn’t have said it any better himself. Our motto must be the only good story is the TRUTH. Truth will not only help God’s children win each battle it will allow them to emerge victorious over the entire war.

1 John 5:4

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

Shanna

 

The Shocking Truth About Today’s Youth

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I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear someone bring up the topic of young people in today’s world, there is almost always a negative connotation applied to the conversation. There is rarely a noteworthy story of teens or pre-teens doing something wonderful in the community, but the evening news is riddled with reports of youth doing horrible, unspeakable acts of violence and perversion. The mainstream media would have you believe that all young people today are carbon copies of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. Likewise, the world would persuade you to lump sum this group that makes up nearly fifteen percent of the U.S. population into a league of miscreants leading lives where immorality abounds. Is this the truth or a distortion of reality? While I will not deny that this world has its fair share of Justins and Mileys, I am completely unwilling to buy into the one size fits all juvenile delinquent stereotype.

I have always been drawn to children of all ages. From early on in my childhood, I had an intense desire to be a mother when I grew up and married Mr. Right. I also decided that I wanted to work with children on a daily basis, so I earned a degree in Education. God blessed me by granting me my petitions. I am now the mother of four and am blessed to work with many children in both my church family and my homeschool group. Due to my close association and interactions with quite a large number of young people, I have been fortunate enough to observe what I feel is their true nature.While I am no expert even by a long shot, I truly believe when it comes to today’s youth, we need to open our eyes to who they really are.

bbbbbz1. Young people are people, too!

I am afraid that so many times we do not view teens as people. We are quick to judge them, quick to reprimand them, and quick to completely write them off. We dismiss their feelings, ideas, and capabilities. The Apostle Paul did not take this approach with Timothy.

1 Timothy 4:12

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,

but set an example for the believers

in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

He understood Timothy, like all young people, had feelings.He also realized that Timothy had the right mind-set and was completely capable of living a life worthy of imitation in the church.

Philippians 2:19-23

“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.

But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me” 

Given due respect and opportunity, it has been my experience, that our youth will rise to the occassion.

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2. Young people breathe new life into old situations.

I don’t want to say that all adults tend to be “old fogies”, but the fact that we have the propensity to get into autopilot mode is hard to deny. All too often we get so caught up in everyday living that we become blinded to many things.  Young people often have fresh eyes that can more easily detect areas of need, joy, and thanksgiving that their elders may overlook. Not only that, the innocence and newness that they bring to the forefront is a much welcomed breath of fresh air. Just seeing and interacting with young folks is a visible reminder of the newness of life given to us on a daily basis by the Father.

Lamentations 3:22-23

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Even our Lord and Savior saw the value of spending time and interacting with young people.

Mark 10:13-15

“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.

 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

Never underestimate the new life that can be interjected into any situation by involving youth.

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3. Young people can teach us a thing or two! (or three or four!)

Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking we have all the answers. We really could learn some great things just by observing our young people. They have soft, supple hearts ready to extend love, eager to do the right thing, and extremely penitent when found in the wrong. More often than not it is a young person who responds to the Lord’s invitation. It isn’t necessarily because they sin more, but because they have hearts uncalloused from saying no one too many times.

Psalm 25:7

“Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!”

Young people also seem much more willing to get outside of their comfort zone. When charged with a task, they do not allow preconceived notions or irrational fears to hold them back. They have the heart of a servant and are very willing to serve with zeal.

Romans 12:11

“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”

Most importantly, young people really understand the first great command and the command second to it.

Mark 12:30-31

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

To learn how to love unconditionally, we would do well to study and emulate our younger counterparts.

1 John 3:18

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

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This past weekend I was honored to be in the presence of six thousand people intent on growing closer to the Lord our God. The vast majority of those souls were young people. They were from different states, socioeconomic backgrounds, and circumstances, but they were united in purpose. Believe me, it was an eye opening picture on the state of our youth, to say the least. Let’s all wake up, wipe the dust of misconception out of our eyes and see today’s youth for what they really are.They are what we need to become. What they really are isn’t really so shocking after all.

Shanna

Photo By Robbie Grubbs from Houston (What????) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Dear Beautiful Girl,

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I prayed to God and he blessed me with an amazing daughter. I have also been blessed to work with pre-teen and teen girls in the Lord’s church for several years. What strikes me over and over again as heart wrenching is the sheer amount of these young ladies that just seem downright deflated and defeated. It is difficult to stand by a watch such a vibrant group, full of life and full of endless possibilities, languish and struggle. I refuse to remain a helpless bystander in a sea of souls with silent cries grasping for reassurance and support. I want to throw out the lifeline to all young women, everywhere. I love you, God loves you, and this is what I want you to know.

Dear beautiful girl,

Yes, you! Don’t look around in surprise. I’m talking to you.You are beautiful! Oh, I’m not looking at you through the lens of popular culture or worldliness. I’m looking at you the way God intended true beauty to be seen.

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1 Peter 3:3-4

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear,  but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious”

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Can’t you see you are so much more than perfect hair and make up or labels and trendy clothing? Those things are external and can NEVER define your real beauty. They are perishable. Your beauty is internal, “the hidden person of the heart”. Those who wish to see it have to look deeply and want to know you, the REAL you, to find it. They have to listen ever so carefully to your words as well, because you have a “gentle and quiet spirit”. That gentleness makes you so beautiful to me, but more importantly it makes you so beautiful to Him.

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You are not alone. There are so many people that adore you. Your parents, your friends, and your church family. They want to see you succeed, obtain happiness, but most of all, they want you to go to heaven. They want to help you do just that. Let them. This is especially true of your Father in heaven. He loves you so much He gave His Son to make a way for you. Don’t ignore Him. Talk to Him…a lot. Lean on him. He wants to carry your burdens.

1 Peter 5:7

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Do not worry.Your prince will come, someday. Just remember, your King is already here. Put Him first today and always and everything else will fall right into place.

Matthew 6:33

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

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              Speaking of Prince Charming, make sure he is a true child of the King. Wait for Him. Do not settle. Do not rush. You are looking for someone who loves you like this.

Ephesians 5:25

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”

A true prince will be willing to give himself up for you. He will put his selfish desires aside for you.  He will not expect you to give yourself to him before marriage. You are worth the wait and he knows that. Pray for him, wait for him, and look for him. Don’t be decieved. No matter how many times you kiss a frog, he may never turn into a prince.

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Beautiful girl, above all else, keep smiling and letting your light shine.

Matthew 5:16

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

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You are beautiful because you shine His beauty for all to see in a world that really needs light. Keep shining. Keep being what God wants you to be. He wants you to be beautiful. You ARE beautiful, beautiful girl.

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In Him,

Shanna

You Saw What?!? Guarding Their Eyes and Hearts

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I am a product of the 70’s and 80’s. I grew up in a time when “playing” didn’t have a thing in the world to do with any type of electronic device. It was a simpler time when your neighbors were your best friends, imaginations ran rampant, and make believe was a ticket to other worlds. I vividly recall one of the most popular pretend games in the neighborhood and schoolyard was cops and robbers.

Some of my play mates preferred to be robbers. They enjoyed the imaginary “thrill” of stealthily nabbing plundered loot and the chase that ensued. I on the other hand, being the first born in my family with a deeply rooted type A personality, was much more comfortable and suited to be a cop. After all, even at a young age, I had a firm grasp on the notion that things of high personal value MUST be protected at all costs. I had been raised with the ideology that if it is precious, you must keep it “locked up as tight as Fort Knox”. At the time all I knew about Fort Knox was that it is where our nation kept its gold. Later on, I discovered that it was so much more.

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Due to a 1933 executive order signed by FDR designed to alleviate stalled economic growth during the depression, the nation found itself in possession of $12 billion dollars worth of gold and no safe place to house it. As a result, the United States Bullion Depository, better known as Fort Knox, was constructed at a cost of $560,000 (equivalent of $9,420,624 today).

The outer walls of the depository are constructed of granite lined with concrete which is reinforced with approximately 1500 tons of steel. The vault itself has concrete and steel walls that are 21 inches thick, and it is sealed by a door that weighs over 20 tons. There are guard boxes at each of the four corners, sentry boxes at the entrance gate, and a steel fence that encircles its perimeter. The depository is protected with the most modern security devices and is under the protection of the army base at Fort Knox. No visitors are allowed at any time.

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Contrary to popular belief, the depository has been the safe place for much more than gold. It has been home to the original copies of the US Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and one of four original copies of the Magna Carta. It has also held the gold reserves for many European countries as well as crowned jewels belonging to several countries.

Now, I am grown up lady with the majority of my children swiftly entering adulthood, themselves. Yet, one thing has remained unchanged  since my younger years. I still understand, and in all likelihood even more so, the concept of guarding over treasure. However, unlike the treasure protected deeply within the vault at Fort Knox, today I am much more concerned about safeguarding something much more precious. We must guard the hearts of our children.

Proverbs 4:20-27

My son, pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.
 Do not let them out of your sight,
    keep them within your heart;
 for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.
 Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to thepaths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
 Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.

We, like Solomon, are charged with teaching our children how to guard their hearts. It is a job that we as parents must not take lightly. Yes, it is a JOB. It requires forethought, planning, and consistent monitoring. Fort Knox is fortified, guarded, and uses all means available to protect its contents. We must follow this same plan of action when it comes to our children’s precious hearts.

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Our children are bombarded with sinful images on every front. They are especially susceptible due to the technology saturated world in which we live. Boys and girls as young as two years old can use smart phones and tablets as well as (or better than) adults. Because of this ease of use and the contentment it seems to elicit, we might easily be lulled into a sense of complacency. We must remember this.

1 Peter 5:8

“Be sober-minded; be watchful.

Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion,

seeking someone to devour.”

Unfortunately, many times that “someone” is your child.

What’s a parent to do? Lock up your entire family allowing no contact with the outside world? (I have been tempted to go this route many times!) Even if this sounds tempting, it isn’t feasible or advisable for the Christian. We are told to

Matthew 5:16

….let your light shine before others,

so that they may see your good works

and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

So, what is the alternative? Just like Fort Knox, we can set ourselves up as guards and utilize the latest technological security devices available to us.  Consider the following areas.

computer

Computer/Tablet/Smart Phone

The most important thing that must be established up front is your absolute authority over the use of the computer, tablet, smart phone, or Ipod.

Only keep these items in common areas of the home. You would be ill advised to allow your child to have private access to internet enabled devices in their bedrooms, alone. Be sure your children know that in order to use these devices, they must follow your rules. Make sure guidelines for use are clearly understood. Also, make sure consequences of misuse are clearly understood and always followed through. Also, assure your children of your ability to go back through the browser history and see ALL of their on-line activity. As added security, many internet filters are available to download. Some are free and others have premiums that range from inexpensive to quite expensive. Open DNS Family Shield is a free web filter. It instantly blocks access to adult websites. When set up on the router in your home, every device in your home is protected. This includes X-box, Playstation, Wii, DS, iPad, iPod, iPhone, etc. Did I mention that it is FREE?

Social Media

Facebook

This is a tough one. The age requirement to sign up for a Facebook account is 13 years of age. You alone know if your teen is mature enough to handle this responsibility. If you decide to grant permission to your teen to access Facebook, I personally believe you must be completely ready to devote a great deal of time to monitoring his/her activity. Here are a few things you can do to make their account a little safer.

-Know your child’s password

-You have ultimate say of who will be accepted as their Facebook friend

-Go to privacy settings

-Limit access on all settings to only friends

Twitter

Again, as with all social media, you are going to have to be in control and constantly monitor your teen’s activity. Just like Facebook, Twitter requires that one be at least 13 years of age to sign up for an account. Really the only safety mechanism on Twitter is setting your account to protect your tweets. You would have to set up rules as to whom your teen will follow. By protecting tweets you will be able to say yes or no to follower requests.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Television/ DVD

The best defense when it comes to television viewing is educating one’s self on programming. One way to do this is by using Focus on the Family’s pluggedin.com. It gives reviews on movies, videos, music, TV, and games. This is an excellent free resource. Also, to catch foul language that might occasionally slip in, you might consider investing in a TV Guardian. It is a foul language filter that you can use on non-live television programming. Another investment you might consider is the Clearplay DVD player. It filters vulgarity, nudity, violence, and more. It has been my experience that commercials are as bad or worse than the actual programming. One trick to avoid this problem is to record your favorite show and fast forward through the ads.

Ultimately, you have to decide what, if any, of these things you will allow your children to indulge. All of these suggestions are just aides to help you accomplish the goal of guarding your children’s eyes and hearts.

I am sure if I ask you what is your most important possession, most assuredly you would say your children. Their hearts are worth much more than the billions of dollars of gold at Fort Knox.Therefore, we must be even more vigilant guarding their hearts than the military that protects the US gold reserves. After all,

Matthew 16:26

“For what will it profit a man

if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?

Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

Shanna

I am in no way affiliated with any of the above suggested products, nor do I receive any compensation from them.

US Bullion Depository photo By Cliff [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons