Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Everyday Matters Bible for Women (NLT)

LLC Hendrickson Publishers Marketing| Everyday Matters Bible for Women
ISBN-10: 1598567055 |ISBN-13: 978-1598567052 | Format: Hard Cover  | Pages: 1603
Today’s Christian Woman is so busy handling the challenges of day-to-day life that spending time in the Word can easily become yet another ‘should’ buried in that growing list of daily ‘musts.’ Created in partnership with Kyria.com,Christianity Today’s women’s magazine, the Everyday Matters Bible for Women is designed to help women develop spiritual practices that will make their lives richer, not harder. It offers practical encouragement and tools to renew, reinvigorate and restore meaning to everyday life.
This Bible features twenty-four disciplines—or practices—that position us to receive power and strength to do those things that we cannot possibly do on our own and make everyday life fuller and deeper. Each discipline is represented by a colorful icon whose illustration is a reminder of its meaning.
The contemporary language of the New Living Translation combines with content from today’s foremost Christian leaders to help readers understand and apply spiritual discipline.


Every discipline is explored in four ways 
• Everyday Matters. Two-page articles introduce major themes and focus on an essential part of understanding and practicing a discipline.
• Everyday Profiles. Profiles of twenty-five Biblical women highlight a particular discipline.
• Everyday Q & A’s. Short articles delve into a difficult aspect of the spiritual practice and offer practical help on incorporating the discipline into your daily life.
• Everyday Reflections. Selections illustrate ways to personalize and apply God’s Word to your own situation.
More than 300 articles and features by more than 140 of today’s most well-known Christian leaders and writers, including: Kay Warren, Priscilla Shirer, Elisa Morgan, Nancy & John Ortberg, Richard Foster, Liz Curtis Higgs, and Lauren Winner.
Special Features include . . . 
• Full-color throughout
• Color-coded icons identify each Spiritual Discipline addressed in contributors’ material
• How to Use This Bible in a Small Group Study
• Index of Spiritual Practices
• Resources for further reading
Everyday Matters on Publisher’s website: http://www.hendrickson.com
Everyday Matters on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EverydayMattersBible
Everyday Matters on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bibleforwomen

MY REVIEW:
I love reading God's Word and I collect Bibles (for my own personal study and for giving to new believers). I enjoy reading/studying the Scriptures from different translation versions. Everyday Matters Bible for Women (New Living Translation) is a delightful addition to my collection! It is beautiful, colorful, and useful! This special Bible offers 24 spiritual disciplines that aim to help readers focus on God, be more aware of God's presence, and have a more intimate relationship with God. Some of these spiritual disciplines include Bible Study and Meditation, Prayer, Worship, Service, Confession, Fasting, Outreach, Hospitality, Faith, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Stewardship, Submission, and Silence. Several of them are interconnected. The articles in this Bible are Biblically sound, insightful, and practical. I highly recommend this NLT Bible to any Christian women! I personally have been devouring it :).

 
~I received a copy of this Bible for free via the CWA Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

DVD Review and Giveaway: Father of Lights


About Father of Lights
FATHER OF LIGHTS chronicles the journey of filmmaker Darren Wilson and his team as they fearlessly travel the globe, far from the daily existence of the typical evangelical believer in the West. By thoughtfully documenting the stories of extraordinary believers and candidly filming miracles, visions and other supernatural occurrences, Wilson engages viewers in modern day examples of the true nature and character of God.  

Wilson gives honest access to his own spiritual questions as he tackles the religious misconceptions he has struggled with throughout his life.  “I went into making this film by asking the simple question: who is God? I wanted to know His character, His personality, and who He truly is. To answer this question, we had to peel back the many layers of religious garbage that has been passed onto him through generations. That He is angry. Vengeful. Wrathful. And in general, that He doesn’t like you very much. The truth, as you will see vibrantly in this film, is that He is the most loving, compassionate, and wonderful Father you can imagine.”

About Wanderlust Productions
Wanderlust Productions is a video production company focusing on creating content for various media that highlights, informs, and is designed to spiritually stretch our audience.  Created by Darren Wilson, Professor at Judson University, Wanderlust’s focus is on telling stories that inspire and agitate, that are unwavering in their honesty yet are emotionally compelling.  While our content will always be Christian in nature, we are not afraid to explore themes, concepts, or areas that may be considered “risky” by the Christian establishment. Wanderlust prides itself on its willingness to put the story above the message.  That being said, the message will never waver.  
YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/wanderlustproduction

My Review
This is a very interesting documentary, to say the least. Darren Wilson, the creator of this DVD, explores God's character by interviewing different pastors such as Reinhard Bonnke, Banning Liebscher, Andrew Wommack and following different preachers/evangelists through various places such as India, China, Israel, and California. In an attempt to counteract the religious spirit and the fire & brimstone approach of evangelism, Mr. Wilson emphasizes the love and grace side of Christianity. Throughout the DVD, you will witness miracles and meet fascinating characters such as a fearful witch doctor, crying gang leaders, a seeking Hindu guru, a tortured brother in Christ, and more. This documentary shows that God's light shines through His children wherever we go and that He is God of the impossible. I'm glad that the film also touches on the persecuted Christians which hopefully will help remind the viewers to pray for them. I appreciate that the film demonstrates that the radical love of Christ transforms people and encourages us to live as children of Light (Ephesians 5:8-10). However, I have my reservations regarding Todd White's gift of healing. I know God can heal but I also know that God does not always choose to heal people physically. My friends in Thailand just lost their daughter's life because they were being deceived by a woman who claimed to have the gift of healing in the name of Christ. Warning: there's a scene in a nightclub which shows immodest clothing.

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:7-8
"Let us walk in the light of the Lord." Isaiah 2:5b

GIVEAWAY (open to all, including international residents): You can win a copy of this DVD.
Deadline: 11/11 at midnight (Pacific time)
To Enter: Leave a comment here with your email address. Have you personally witnessed/experienced a modern-day miracle? Please share.
For Extra Entries (please leave a separate comment for each one that you do):
- Follow this blog via GFC or NetworkedBlogs
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~"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, October 26, 2012

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Straight Talk with Your Kids About Sex by Josh and Dottie McDowell

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card authors are:


and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:


Josh McDowell has been reaching the spiritually skeptical for more than five decades. Since beginning ministry in 1961, Josh has delivered more than 24,000 talks to over 10 million young people in 118 countries. He is the author or coauthor of 130 books, with over 51 million copies distributed worldwide, including Experience Your Bible, The Unshakable Truth®, Evidence for the Historical Jesus, More Than a Carpenter (over 15 million copies printed in 85 languages), and The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, recognized by World magazine as one of the twentieth century's top 40 books. Josh continues to travel throughout the United States and countries around the world, helping young people and adults strengthen their faith and understanding of Scripture. Josh will tell you that his family is his ministry. He and his wife, Dottie, have been married for over 40 years and have four children and five grandchildren.

Dottie McDowell has been married to Josh for over 40 years. She has written several children’s books with her husband, and she and Josh are enjoying their four adult children and numerous grandchildren as he continues to travel worldwide in his ministry. Dottie and Josh live in Southern California.

Visit the authors' website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Utilizing up-to-the-minute research from Josh’s “The Bare Facts” resources and their experience with four children, the McDowells give readers encouragement and solid information in the sometimes-awkward process of guiding their child into a healthy understanding of God’s gift of sex and sexuality—within a biblical context of relationship to Him.

Product Details:
List Price: $11.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736949925
ISBN-13: 978-0736949927


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Just One Click Away

Sex. To some people it’s a dirty word, to others a beautiful one. And to still others it’s a provocative word…something they’re not comfortable talking about. Whatever your attitude, sex is a sensitive yet immensely important issue. For those who believe it’s a marvelous but powerful force that should not be misused, such as parents or leaders working with youth, the idea of sex—sexual activity—among young people is loaded with plenty of concern.

So how concerned would you be if a stranger was slipping into your child’s bedroom every day? What if this intruder was systematically teaching your child a distorted and perverted concept of sex? And what if this “sex education” your child was receiving led them down a path to immoral sex? You would no doubt be frightened and infuriated that the mind and heart of your child was being violated by this menacing intruder.

But before we go on to explain this danger, let us say this. We (Josh and Dottie), as parents who have raised four children of our own, are not here just to alarm you, although you have reason to be alarmed. We also want to equip you with a clear strategy to counter what your kids are facing. Even more at the heart of what we want to do, we hope to supply you with effective tools to raise your kids with a healthy (godly) understanding of sex.

After all, sex is great. It’s marvelous. It’s so wonderful that it can’t be put into words—because God has made it that way. You no doubt want your children to grow up understanding and embracing his design for their sexuality so they can delight in sex as he meant it to be delighted in. And if an immoral intruder were to cause your kids to misuse God’s wonderful gift, you would be angry and heartbroken.

Studies have shown that the number-one fear among Christian parents and Christian leaders is that a secular worldview and sexual immorality will somehow capture the hearts and minds of their kids. We certainly had that fear for our own children. To address that fear, many parents have helped open and develop more Christian schools. They have formed more networks to homeschool their children than ever before. Many have sent their kids off to Christian summer camps. Families have started attending megachurches with top-rated youth programs in unprecedented numbers. The hope of these parents has been to counteract the negative influences of a destructive culture in the lives of their children.

However, these positive steps may have actually caused many parents and educators to drop their guard. It’s natural to assume that kids are largely insulated from the influences of a corrupt culture if they live in a Christian home, are involved in a good church, are getting a solid Christian education, and are participating in monitored activities.

Actually, though, our kids are far more exposed to destructive cultural influences today than kids were even ten years ago. The reason for this is because right now we are in the midst of a social-media revolution that is allowing a corrupt and twisted morality to have direct access to our children at much earlier ages than ever before, even in the privacy of our own homes and in their bedrooms. This is the intruder we have been talking about.

The Social-Media Revolution

The culture influenced the previous generation through various media such as radio, TV, videos, magazines, and so on. If a parent monitored what his or her child listened to, watched, and read, there was somewhat of an assurance that a child could be insulated from the negative effects of a destructive culture. However, today’s social-media revolution has changed everything. Our culture intrudes upon your children through channels that barely existed a decade ago. For example, compare media growth (based on the general U.S. population) over the last decade.


In 2000

In 2010–2011

2.7 hours per week spent online by the average person

18 hours per week spent online by the average person

100 million daily Google searches

2 billion daily Google searches

12 billion e-mails sent daily

247 billion e-mails sent daily

12,000 active blogs

141 million active blogs

0 iTunes downloads

10 billion iTunes downloads

0 tweets on Twitter

25 billion tweets on Twitter

0 YouTube videos seen daily

4 billion YouTube videos seen daily

0 hours of YouTube videos uploaded every minute

60 hours of YouTube videos uploaded every minute

0 people on Facebook

845 million active users on Facebook

0 articles on Wikipedia

20 million articles on Wikipedia



More than 250 million new people were added to Facebook in 2010, with 30 billion pieces of content shared each month. If Facebook were a country, it would have the world’s third-largest population.

Approximately 20 million minors are on Facebook. Of those, 7.5 million are younger than 13 years old, and 5 million are younger than 10 years old. It is estimated that Facebook will soon reach 90 percent of all social-network users and 57.1 percent of all U.S. Internet users. By 2013, 62 percent of Internet users and half of the U.S. population are expected to be on Facebook.

In regard to video content, eMarketer estimates that of the 50 million U.S. children under 12, nearly 12 million—about 25 percent—“were online video viewers in 2011.” The estimate skyrockets to 70 percent by 2015. According to Harris Interactive, in 2010, the number of children under 12 years old who spent at least one hour a day online increased from 61 percent to 76 percent.

The Internet has surpassed TV as kids’ media of choice. A study by the U.S. Department of Education shows that 27 percent of all four- to six-year olds are on the Internet. Today kindergarteners are learning on iPads, not chalkboards.

The social-media revolution is connecting us in positive ways never before imagined 10 or 20 years ago. Yet all this ability to connect and have people connect to your children may cause you to feel uncomfortable. And it should. There is an alarming downside to the instant accessibility this culture has to your children.

Intrusive Immorality

As parents and Christian leaders, we want our young people to embrace a biblical sexual morality. We want them to enjoy sex as God designed them to enjoy it within the context of marriage. And just 10 or 15 years ago, we as parents, pastors, or Christian educators had a good measure of control over what type of things our young people saw or heard that shaped their view of sex. We could say, “We don’t watch those kinds of TV programs in our home; nor do we read those types of books.” There were certain controls we could put in place to insulate our children from damaging influences. When our children wanted to visit neighbors or friends, we tried to limit it to people with our same convictions.
But today we have, by and large, lost control of the controls. That is because a perverted morality is just one click away from our children. With just one keystroke on a smartphone, iPad, or laptop, your child can open up some of the worst pornography and sexually graphic content you can imagine. Just a few decades ago pornographic magazines were sold behind store counters and placed in paper bags. Most adult men didn’t even want to be seen carrying such a magazine out of a store. Today pornography is available to anyone, including your kids and teenagers.
Immoral sexual content is reaching many, if not the majority, of our children. According to research from Family Safe Media, the average age of the first Internet exposure to pornography is nine years old.12 And there are plenty of sites to be exposed to. There are over 5 million pornographic sites available today with over 68 million search requests daily. More than 2.5 billion porn e-mails are circulated every day.
A 2009 survey of 29,000 North American university students confirmed that 51 percent of males and 32 percent of females first viewed pornography before their teenage years. A journal article, “The Nature and Dynamics of Internet Pornography Exposure for Youth,” reports that 93 percent of boys and 62 percent of girls are exposed to Internet porn before they are 18 years old. Eighty-three percent of boys and 57 percent of girls have seen group sex. Sixty-nine percent of boys and 55 percent of girls have viewed homosexual or lesbian acts. Thirty-nine percent of boys and 23 percent of girls have been exposed to sexual acts depicting bondage.

According to a study cited in the Washington Post, more than 11 million teenagers view Internet porn on a regular basis. A Focus on the Family poll revealed that 47 percent of families said that pornography is a problem in their home. These were largely Christian families responding to the poll.

Who Is Concerned About This?

In contrast to the situation several decades ago, most of our young people see little or no problem with viewing pornography. Overall, studies show that 67 percent of young men and 49 percent of young women 18 to 26 years of age consider viewing pornography as acceptable behavior.

Of course, as a concerned parent, you no doubt warn your children and teens to stay away from “sex sites.” As a responsible and proactive parent, you may even install Internet filtering and monitoring software on your computers, as you should.

Yet what happens when your children visit their friends and they turn on their cell phones? Do the parents of your children’s friends have sexually explicit material blocked from all their electronic devices? The problem is that sexually oriented and perverted material through cyberspace is everywhere, and it is difficult to avoid, even when you try to block it.

Further, more than 1.5 billion pornographic peer-to-peer downloads occur each month, and most are not detected by “family filters.” (Peer-to-peer is from one computer directly to another computer.) An entire pornographic video can be downloaded by a child, often without detection by parents.

Because of the massive amount of sexually perverted material available today, the sheer overexposure, no matter how infrequent, tends to desensitize a young person. Rather than gaining an understanding of what sex is really for, why it comes with boundaries, and how it can bring intimacy and joy in a committed marriage relationship, young people tend to think everyone is doing whatever they want sexually without consequences. This is clearly the impression given through cyberspace.

Most young people have been so desensitized to sexually explicit material that they see no problem with joking, posting, or texting about provocative sex. Do you realize that 4 out of 10 teens are posting sexually suggestive messages? And another 39 percent of teen boys and 38 percent of teen girls say they have had sexually suggestive text messages or e-mails—originally meant for someone else—shared with them.

No doubt, it seems to our kids that the entire world around them, including their peers, is into premarital sex. We, of course, know that not everyone is “doing it;” yet our kids’ perception becomes their reality. The irony is, many Christian adults tend to think none of their kids are involved sexually, while their own kids think everyone else is “doing it.” These contradictory viewpoints are widespread.

Recently, I (Josh) did a two-hour seminar on “The Bare Facts: The Truth Bbout Sex, Love, and Relationships” at the staff conference of an evangelical organization. At an afternoon session, 1800 people showed up with their kids. In the next three days, ten different staff members told me that one of their children (all under the age of 14) had confessed to them that they were addicted to pornography on the Internet. Each parent expressed amazement and had never suspected a thing.

During a recent pastor’s conference I was addressing the same topic, and five pastors approached me after a session with their stories:

• Pastor #1: “I just found out that my two sons (ages 14 and 18) are struggling with pornography on the Internet.” Then he confessed that he had been addicted to pornography himself for 11 years.

• Pastor #2: “I learned last week that my 17-year-old son just got his girlfriend pregnant and my 15-year-old daughter is also pregnant. What do I do? I’m going to have two grandchildren soon!” He shared that his son regularly viewed pornography.

• Pastor #3 (a youth pastor): “My 14-year-old daughter has been giving oral sex to the boys at her [Christian] school.”

• Pastor #4: “I just found my 8-year-old son watching pornography on my office computer.”

• Pastor #5: “My 5-year-old son has been looking at pornography since he was 4 years old.” The pastor was crushed.

These five conversations happened in the 20-minute time span it took me to get from the podium to my car.

Before I could get into the car, a desperate teenager gripped my arm and said, “Dr. McDowell, would you please pray for me? I’ve been struggling with pornography for three years and it is destroying me!”

Several years ago, I was invited to speak on sex and relationships at one of the largest and most prestigious evangelical Christian schools in North America. The administration appreciated that I came to speak on that subject, but they made the following request: “We don’t want you to mention anything about oral sex,” they said, “because we don’t have that problem here. If you mention it, our kids will simply start thinking about it and want to do it.”

I thought their request was absurd and naive, but out of respect, I honored it. The moment I finished speaking, dozens of kids crowded around me to ask questions. Nearly every question was about oral sex. “Is it sex?” “Is it wrong?” “Can you get an STD from doing it?” and so on.

I wished the school headmaster had been standing there to hear his students. As I walked outside, three guys and two girls, all sophomores, approached me and asked, “Why didn’t you talk about oral sex?”

I avoided telling them that I had been asked not to talk on the subject. Instead, I asked them, “Why? Is oral sex a problem here?” And they said, “No, not really.” I replied, “That’s good,” to which they responded, “No, it’s not a problem for kids to do, because everyone is doing it.” (This was an exaggeration.)

I asked them to explain. “Well,” they stated, “at our school when a guy wants oral sex, he walks up to a girl and says, “Would you like a taco?” That was their code word for oral sex. They went on to explain, “If she agrees, they go into some room right here at school and perform oral sex. But then the boy is obligated after school to take the girl to Taco Bell to buy her a taco.”

According to these kids, oral sex was commonplace. According to the school leadership, “We don’t have that kind of problem here.” The disconnect between what many parents and Christian leaders believe their young people are doing, and what kids are actually doing, is vast. Sure, we don’t want to think our sons and daughters are involved in sexual activity of any kind and are being brainwashed with a distorted view of sex. But the truth is, if we are not proactive to counter what our kids are exposed to, chances are they will be captured by a destructive culture.

So What Can You Do?

It seems that it would be ideal if we could reverse the social-media explosion. But we can’t, nor should we even try. In fact, in the last 12 months, some estimate more than 200 million people were confronted with the claims of Christ on the Internet. Social media themselves are not the real culprit here. They are simply the vehicle that can bring either positive or destructive influences into the lives of our kids.

Escaping to a remote island where only committed Christians live might seem like a definitive solution. Then we could raise our kids where no secular culture could influence them. But that isn’t a realistic alternative any more than reversing the media revolution we are experiencing. So what can we do?

1. We must acknowledge the reality that kids are being negatively influenced with a distorted view of sex by the culture. We can’t live in denial of what is really happening. It is like one young mother said, “It feels as if we are trying to raise our kids in the center of Las Vegas.” So the first step to a solution is seeing the problem as it truly exists.

2. We need to counter the distorted and perverted views about sex our kids are hearing and seeing with the correct and healthy understanding of sex. Let’s say you are among those parents who have one or more children over the age of seven. And let’s say you are just now getting around to talking to them about sex. By now your kids have already got their sex education from the outside culture. And in all probability their understanding of sex is distorted and quite different than what you had hoped.

In this case, you will need to reintroduce your kids to a whole new concept of what sex is and why God created it. In many respects you will need to deconstruct the distorted concepts of sex they have adopted and represent an understanding based on God’s design. If your children are much younger you may still have time to get to them before the culture does. But you must start with them at a very young age.
Teaching kids God’s idea of sex means that we as parents and Christian leaders must first clearly understand why he created us as sexual beings in the first place. We must know the real purpose of sex, what sexual purity actually means, why there are boundaries around sex, and how a loving relationship is the cornerstone in teaching God’s view of sex. With this type of foundational understanding you will have a biblical context for introducing or reintroducing your children to what sex is all about. This will give you the biblical basis to raise your family to embrace a healthy (godly) perspective of sex. And that is what we will address in part one of this book, “Sex Is God’s Design.”
3. We must actively guide, lead, and instruct our kids in God’s perspective of sex. And to do that we offer you valuable and practical tools in part two, “Tips and Ideas for Your Conversations.” These short chapters have insights, examples, answers, and ways to deal with so many issues that you either have encountered or soon will encounter. We will discover together the wonderful opportunities to introduce or reintroduce God’s wonderful gift of sex to your kids.
As parents we (Josh and Dottie) didn’t do it perfectly. Perfect parents don’t exist. But we are grateful for the wonderful opportunity we had to impart to our children God’s plan for sex. All four of our kids are married now and have children of their own. And it is thrilling to watch them successfully passing on a biblical view of sex to their own children—our grandchildren. Be encouraged—your biblical values on love and sex can be passed on to the next generation. And we hope the pages that follow will help you in your effort to do just that.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Blog Tour: Hot Buttons Series by Nicole O'Dell


About the books: 
Nicole O'Dell helps address the Hot Buttons in teens' lives before the issues become problems. From dating to drugs, modesty to purity, morals to popularity, teens face all sorts of tough issues. How teens respond to these hot-button issues can have lasting effects on who they want to be and who they actually become. What if parents can help their teens prepare for these hot buttons-before the issues become a problem?
The uniquely packaged Hot Buttons Series is an accessible, quick-reference resource that parents can use to equip their children to make the right decisions, even in the face of peer pressure and outside influences. More than just another how-to manual, Hot Button Dating Edition offers practical real-life situations that parents can read and discuss with their preteens. Topics include: physical activity, missionary dating, and violence/abuse in dating relationships.
Author, mom, and broadcaster, Nicole O'Dell provides short scenarios followed by three or four responses that a teen might choose in that particular situation. Parents are then encouraged to help their children explore the issue, ask questions, and discuss the options, so when a similar situation comes up in real life, the teens are already prepared to respond.

Hot Buttons Dating Edition offers practical real-life situations that parents can read and discuss with their preteens. Topics include: physical activity, missionary dating, and violence/abuse in dating relationships.
Hot Buttons Internet Edition helps parents prepare their teens for online challenges they may face. Topics discussed include: internet activity, file sharing, social networking, and internet predators.
Hot Buttons Drug Edition braves the scary world of substance abuse, equipping parents with facts, warning signs, and real-world scenarios on: alcohol; Marijuana and other drugs; inhalants; and prescription drugs.
Hot Buttons Sexuality Edition offers the facts about teen sexuality, backed by statistics; specifics for how to talk frankly about sex with your kids, discussion about the growth of homosexuality and bisexuality among teens; and compassionate advice for guiding your teen to reclaim purity.
Link to buy books: http://ow.ly/esojj 
 
Meet Nicole: Youth-culture expert, Nicole O'Dell is the host of Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk and the founder of Choose NOW Ministries, dedicated to guiding teens through tough issues and helping parents encourage good decisions.
On air, O'Dell covers peer pressure, dating, purity, drugs, alcohol, modesty, popularity, and anything else that comes up along the way. Nicole writes and speaks to preteens, teenagers, and parents about how to prepare for life's tough choices.
As an author, O'Dell writes both fiction and nonfiction. Her popular YA fiction includes the Diamond Estate Series and the Scenarios for Girls interactive books that feature alternate endings, allowing young girls to decide the outcome for the main character. Her nonfiction for teens includes Girl Talk, which she wrote with her two daughters based on their popular advice column.
While her YA resources encourage and equip teens, Nicole also works to bridge the communication gap between teens and their parents. The Hot Buttons series helps parents discuss tough issues with their tweens and teens before the issues pop up in real life. Watch for future Hot Buttons books on subjects like bullying, image, prejudice, friendships, politics, and more.
O'Dell, resides in Paxton, IL, with her husband and six children-the youngest of whom are toddler triplets.
Find out more about Nicole at http://nicoleodell.com.

My Review:
Nowadays, teens and pre-teens are facing challenges that aren't quite the same as what their parents and grandparents faced. But don't be scared; be prepared! These books will help you do just that. The author encourages parents to be proactive and not wait around to be reactive. We all want our kids to make wise, Godly decisions and avoid making mistakes. Based on Biblical principles, Nicole O'Dell warns and guides parents to teach, train, and protect their kids from various dangers. Each book is divided into 4 sections: addressing why, when, and how; identifying the hot buttons; showing ways we can help equip our kids; parent-teen study guide which includes confession, forgiveness, and clean slate. I really like the "Strategic Scenarios" which are "real life" situations related to the issues. They give parents opportunities to discuss with kids how they would respond. I've tried some out with my 14 yo son and 11 yo son. We had a lively discussion and I've been very pleased with their discernment so far. By the way, these books help me be extremely thankful that we homeschool our kids :). So many issues mentioned in the books don't apply to our kids because they are homeschooled. However, I still want to be well prepared and I don't want to assume that my kids won't ever be affected by these. It's better for them to know in advance what to do than to run into these troubles later by themselves unguarded and clueless. These books are excellent tools for parents! Practical and insightful! I think these books are "hot" because they offer valuable and important advice for parents regarding issues none can afford to ignore.


~I received these books for free via Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. To find other reviews of these books, visit here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

FIRST Wild Card Tour: 21 Ways to Connect with Your Kids

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker, currently speaking each year to thousands of women throughout the United States. She is the author of The Husband Project and The Marriage Project and has had articles published in several magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Discipleship Journal. Kathi and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four teenagers and young adults.


Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:



21 Ways to Connect with Your Kids offers a straightforward, workable plan to create new avenues of connection between parents and their kids. This handy guide coaches moms and dads to do one simple thing each day for three weeks to connect with their kids even in the midst of busy schedules.


Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736929673
ISBN-13: 978-0736929677



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The Book I Almost
Didn’t Write

I argued with God for a long time before writing this book.

When I originally came up with the idea to write a book about connecting with your kids, I was on a “Mom High.” My husband, Roger, and I had been married for five years, and we had successfully blended a family. Two of his, two of mine, my cat, our dog.

Even the challenges I’d had with my stepson, Jeremy, after Roger and I got married were a mere memory. We had learned to care for each other, hang out together, and enjoy each other. And my relationship with my stepdaughter, Amanda, was growing, and we loved being together. All our kids would come over for Sunday night dinner and would often hang out during the week. While I knew we were far from perfect parents, I was excited that Roger and I both had close relationships with our kids.

But then all that went up in smoke.

My son, Justen, was going through a tough time in his life. He grew cold and distant from me. We were fighting and arguing and going through an awful, awful time.

And I needed to write a book about how to be close to your kids.

I cried out to God. I felt betrayed by him. I had poured all this love and energy, time and prayer into my son, and he was barely speaking to me. I felt like a failure. I felt like a fraud. And on the rare occasions that Justen and I had a conversation, I would curl up in a ball and cry as soon as we were done talking. I hated where our relationship was.

I talked with my husband about not writing the book. Not out of shame or embarrassment (and trust me, I felt both of those) but simply because I felt like the principles I had practiced didn’t work. My son was distant from me, and all the praying in the world was not helping. I asked friends to pray for Justen, pray for me, and pray for what this book was supposed to be about.

I’ve written much of this book during my desert time with Justen. I had nothing to hold on to but God’s Word, especially Philippians 4:6—“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

So I waited and I prayed. And I prayed some more.

And now, as I finish writing this book, God has used time and the healing that only he can bring to restore Justen to a good place. It’s taken a lot of time and a lot of prayer. But when I talked with Justen’s counselor, the one thing he said that I will never forget is this: “Justen felt safe enough with you to express his anger to you, because even with all of his anger, he never questioned your love for him.”

I’m afraid that each of my kids—and probably yours—are going to go through hard times. They are going to go through loss and disappointment and sadness, and they are not always going to behave as if all this “connecting stuff ” will make a difference. But let me tell you, it does.

Trust the process and trust your parenting. God has given you everything you need. You are not always going to feel like connecting. Do it anyway. Your kids need you to invest in them when they are young so that when they are older, they don’t ever have to question your love for them.



2

Why You’re a Better Parent than You Think You Are

I can tell you one thing about yourself right off the bat: You’re a better parent than you think you are. I know that’s a bold statement (especially since we’ve never met), but if you are anything like me and my friends, someone needed to tell you that.

I remember looking at the other moms at church, the dads out in the parks pushing their kids on the swings, and just knowing they all had it way more together than I ever would. Those thoughts started exactly one day after I became a parent.

It was time for us to check out of the hospital with Justen, who at one day and nine pounds and four ounces was just about the most terrifying thing I’d ever seen in my life. I was having a small (OK, enormous) panic attack. I couldn’t believe that the authorities, whoever they were, were going to let me take him home. Didn’t they realize I’d never handled a human baby before? What kind of broken system do we have that would let me (me!) take home this not-so-tiny baby boy?

And that’s when I knew I was sunk. In my mind, no one had ever had those thoughts before. All around me were happy couples who were dying to get their babies home and do what? I really had no idea. But I felt as though everyone else had been given a secret manual, and I had missed that day of orientation.

And the feeling persisted. All the other moms acted as if they had been parenting for decades. They had their parenting methods all picked out and were parenting on purpose.

I had a sneaking suspicion that they had their kids sleeping through the night after thirty days, were breastfeeding without tears, and woke up hours before their children so the house would be clean and activities laid out—activities that were not only creative but also educational. I felt like the world’s biggest loser of a parent.

But then something miraculous happened. I started talking to other parents. I mean really talking. And guess what I found out?

I found out they were just as unconfident, strung out, and secretly ashamed as I was. They too thought their kid was the only one to ever have a meltdown in the middle of Whole Foods. They too thought they had the only child on the planet who insisted on wearing his Spiderman underwear on the outside of his pants. They also thought that everyone else cooked homemade spinach muffins for their kids every morning and did alphabet-training drills starting at age two.

If you can relate to any of this, let me give you a few words of encouragement.

God gave the right parent to the right kid. There are days when this statement couldn’t feel further from the truth. You feel ill-equipped to meet your child’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Because, for the most part, you are. God wants you to rely on him and the people he’s surrounded you with. You are not designed to do this parenting thing alone, even if you are a single parent. There are no gold stars for parents who never ask for help.

God gave the right kid to the right parent. All those things that God needs to grow in you to draw you closer to him? He sent those in a neat little package called “your child.” Each of my kids has taught me something about myself—often things I would choose to ignore if given the opportunity. I would have never thought that I had a patience problem, for example, until I had a patience tester named Kimberly. But there is no chance to ignore such things when they need to be bathed, fed, and loved pretty regularly. I had to confront the parts of me that needed, desperately, to be more like Jesus—and often, I needed to confront my problems with a lack of patience before Kimber woke up from her twelve-minute nap.

Prayer is key. For years, when a kid issue reared its ugly head, I would go to my friends, I would go to my mom, and I would go to my wall of “how to raise a great kid” books to find the answer. I needed answers, and I needed them quick! But as my friend Erin MacPherson, author of The Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby: Everything You Need to Know to Survive (and Love) Your Pregnancy, says when it comes to pregnancy as well as parenting, “Go to God before Google.”

God will direct your heart as you parent. From day one, what I really needed was to know the heart of God and to let that direct me as a parent. Yes, I’m a big believer in wise council, but I am a bigger believer in not using God only when things hit the crisis stage (or the principal’s office).

• • • • •

Now, if you have a couple of years under your parenting belt, would you do us all a favor and tell the other mothers around you what went wrong?

• Tell us how the helpful junior higher you now are raising once threw a toy and knocked out her older brother’s tooth.

• Tell us that you faked dizziness so they wouldn’t release you from the hospital and you could stay another night.

• Tell us that your one and only prayer for the first year of your daughter’s life was, Dear God, please don’t let me screw her up.

When I was in high school, I had a youth leader named Emily Nelson. Emily had it all together. She’d married a great husband and started having great kids. Emily was the kind of person that I would spend a lot of time comparing myself to. You know the kind. You think to yourself, I bet they’re the kind of parent that grows their own organic food while teaching their kids French, as opposed to my kid who learned how to read from frequent exposure to packages of Chicken-Dino-Nuggets.

So imagine my glee when I read this essay by Emily about being a not-so-perfect mom:

As we cruised down the coast, singing along to Veggie Tales, I tossed carrots to my 3 sons who quickly gobbled them up. We arrived at the beach with our fresh-from-the-library-checked-out book about seashells and started collecting. After making sandcastles and letting them bury me neck deep, I pulled out the ice cream maker and made homemade, organic ice cream. I snapped a funny picture of them. “This one is for the scrapbook!” I exclaimed, and they tackled me with a hug. This was a perfect day, but…it never happened.

My REAL beach day started with screaming them into the car to beat traffic, telling them to forage the van floor if they were hungry, and throwing beach toys onto the sand, while I collapsed in my beach chair devouring the latest People magazine. I didn’t even bring the camera.

Looking back I’m tortured with what I didn’t do with my kids: take them hiking, educate them in museums, have family devotions. And I moan about what I did do: harsh words, wishy-washy discipline, and over-involvement in non-family activities. I look at the creative moms, the outdoorsy moms, the homemade-everything moms, the spiritual moms and think they parented so much better than I. Yet one day, as I was recounting my lack of mothering skills to my 27-year-old, he encircled me in a hug, saying, “Mom, you did just fine!” That boy never has to buy me another gift, as he gave me the gift of peace that maybe, just maybe, I did okay.

Every parent has struggles. Every parent has those nights when they toss a loaf of bread and some peanut butter on the table and call it dinner. But every parent also has those moments—probably more often than not—when they are a rock, an encourager, and a God-given gift to their children.

Your parenting road is going to have its share of take-the-hubcaps-off potholes. And it may be a long time before you hear the words, “Mom/Dad, you did just fine!”

But remember 2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” God is sufficient for all your needs. Even your parenting needs.

You see? You really are a better parent than you think you are.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Kyle Sherman's CD, "Hear Me"

                                      Releases today (10/9)!

Album Bio
Fort Worth-based singer-songwriter Kyle Sherman recently signed on as the flagship artist to brand new label RayLynn Records, an opportunity that presented itself during a time period when a record deal wasn't even on his radar. 

"It's crazy how God works," Kyle says. 'Five years ago, I pushed pretty hard to do my own thing as a singer-songwriter, but every well I approached would dry up. It clearly wasn't the right time." So Kyle continued on a path of leading worship, taking a full-time role as worship leader at Lifechurch.TV's Fort Worth campus under the leadership of renowned pastor/author Craig Groeschel.

Just 3-years later Kyle made it back to Nashville, pouring his heart into a microphone at Sony studio with veteran producer and country singer-songwriter Mark Collie making his first album. God is faithful. Hear Me, the result of those sessions, is an eclectic and authentic mix of rootsy, southern soul.


My Review:
This album is full of worshipful songs. It's easy-listening and I can understand the words being sung :). The lyrics are Christ-centered and gratefulness-filled. Below are the 12 songs on the CD:-
1. Hear Me
2. Come to Me
3. Fountains
4. He Prayed for Me
5. All Things New (Hallelujah)
6. Heaven
7. Build It on the Rock
8. One True Friend
9. New Life
10. You Are The Only One
11. The Greatest Tear
12. Healing Coming Down

"Come to Me" is a wonderful song about Jesus inviting the hurting and the lost to come leave their troubles at the cross. It talks about His grace, love, and forgiveness. Some of my favorites from this album include Hear Me, Build It on the Rock, One True Friend, and You Are The Only One. Hear Me is a heart's cry that says I need You, Lord. Build It on the Rock is an upbeat, soulful song that makes me want to dance. One True Friend has a little girl's sweet voice that just melts my heart when she sings "His name is Jesus". You Are The Only One is all about Who Jesus is to us. I love it!


GIVEAWAY:
You can win a copy of this CD.
Deadline: 10/23 at midnight (Pacific time)
To Enter: Leave a comment here with your email address.What is your current favorite praise/worship song?
For Extra Entries (please leave a separate comment for each one that you do):
- "Like" Kyle Sherman Facebook page
- Follow Kyle Sherman on Twitter
- Follow this blog via GFC or NetworkedBlogs
- "Like" my page "Christ Alone" on Facebook
- Follow me on Twitter: @treasuredbyGod
- Share the link to this giveaway post on Facebook
- Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter


~"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Women Redeemed 2.0 Webcast and iPad Giveaway

Join authors Kim Ketola, Teske Drake and Dawn Scott Jones for an evening of encouraging chat about healing and hope for women on the evening of October 10th. The authors will join together for a Live Webcast Event to share their stories.

BUT … wait there’s more! Between 10/1 and 10/10 enter to win a brand-new iPad from Women Redeemed!

 
One fortunate winner will receive:
  • iPad with Wi-Fi
  • Cradle My Heart by Kim Ketola, Hope for Today, Promises for Tomorrow by Teske Drake and When a Woman You Loved Was Abused by Dawn Scott Jones
Hurry, the giveaway ends on 10/10/12. Just click one of the icons below. The winner will be announced that evening at the Women Redeemed Webcast In coordination with the launch of their fall releases, Kregel will be hosting a live webcast event on October 10th at 8 PM EDT featuring authors Kim Ketola (Cradle My Heart)Teske Drake (Hope for Today, Promises for Tomorrow), and Dawn Scott Jones (When a Woman You Love Was Abused). The webcast will allow women to come together to share their struggles and fears in order to move toward healing and hope. Women will able to support one another and discuss shared experiences in a non-threatening, open and loving environment.

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 10th!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Review: She's Got Issues DVD Curriculum

If you're honest, you will agree that we've all got issues. None of us is perfect. Sanctification is a life-time process. In this six-session teaching DVD based on her book (same title), Nicole Unice addresses six issues that most women struggle with: control, insecurity, comparison, fear, anger, and unforgiveness. I love Nicole's candid and casual approach. While I watched the DVD, I felt like I was being invited into her living room along with all the women there (on the screen) listening to her talk.

Each session starts with a conversation between Nicole and a different woman who is dealing with a different issue. After that, there is a pause for participants to write their thoughts in their journals. Next, Nicole teaches in a small group setting. She shares from her own experiences and she draws us to the Scriptures to find answers and encouragement. According to Nicole, you won't become issue-free after finishing the DVD but you will be closer to Jesus and learn to live victoriously in Him. I agree.

I highly recommend this Christ-centered, Biblically-sound DVD curriculum. It's an excellent tool for churches and women's groups. It includes leader's guide and participant's guide.


~ I received a free copy of this book and DVD from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Manners That Matters for Moms

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Maralee McKee is a sought-after expert in social interactions at work, at home, and in the community. She has taught thousands of children in her Manners Mentor classes, and her corporate clients include Hyatt, Chick-fil-A, State Farm, Campus Crusade, and AT&T. Maralee and her husband live in Florida with their two sons.


Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Corporate trainer and mentor Maralee McKee turns her attention to the home and shares the simple, savvy, and sincere skills kids need in order to flourish in today’s culture. Tools for each stage of life make this the go-to book for moms with children of any age.


Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736944893
ISBN-13: 978-0736944892



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Moms Like You and Me

Today our children are our shadow.

Tomorrow they will be our reflection.

Maralee McKee



I was nervous. I wanted this evening to be perfect for my husband, who was hosting a client-appreciation dinner for his company. He had worked hard planning every detail—especially choosing the guest speaker. After some negotiating, the man he hoped would accept his invitation agreed to present the keynote address.

This gentleman is a financial genius. He holds three degrees—one each from Harvard, Yale, and Oxford. He consults privately with kings and presidents about global economic issues. All of this at the ripe old age of 34. He and I are about the same age, but I feared that was all we were going to have in common. A genius I’m not.

Common Ground
My husband planned to go from table to table, chatting with guests through dinner. That meant our special guest and I would share a cozy table for two throughout the 90-minute dinner before he took the stage. Driving to dinner, I was still trying to think of conversation topics he might enjoy and I would have an inkling about.

My list was short.

My concerns about us not having much common ground to talk were quickly realized—he was intense.

Moments after sitting down, he asked, “Maralee, I like to know my audience a little before I speak. What would you say are some of the economic and libertarian concessions you believe your guests are willing to make in light of our current financial and political surrounding?”

Okeydokey! Believe it or not, that particular question had not made my short list of conversation topics. Hiding my panic, I quickly decided that in order to survive this meal, I was going to have to be the one asking the questions.

I answered brightly, “I’m sure my husband will have more accurate insight than I do. I’ll call him over in a minute.” Then I asked our guest where he was from. He shared that he was born in Chicago and still lived there. I had recently visited for the first time and been smitten with the city. We began to find common ground talking about Chicago’s famed Miracle Mile. A few minutes later I asked about his family. He beamed as he told me that he and his wife were expecting their first child the next month—a girl.

We talked about how children change everything. But then he added, “But only for a little while.”

His genius was obvious in what he said next. It has been one of the most impacting maxims on the way I parent.

Twenty-One Percent of My Life
He explained, “We spend a statistically small percentage of our lives in direct contact with our children. Let’s say I live to be eighty-five, and my daughter lives with my wife and me until she leaves for college at eighteen. In that case, we’re only under the same roof for twenty-one percent of my life. Seventy-nine percent of it will be without daily contact.”

My mind raced to make sense of it all. How can that be? Only 21 percent of my life will be spent sleeping under the same roof as each of my children?

The cold reality of the number made my heart shiver—it still does.

Twenty-one percent is all the time we have with our children, and that’s if you start counting when they are newborns. If they’re five or fifteen already, a measure of that time is gone.

Is it enough time to teach them everything they need to know to thrive on their own when they’re grown? Yes it is, but they won’t learn it by accident. If we want our children to grow into adults who interact with kindness, respect, self-control, graciousness, and friendliness, we must teach them a lost art in today’s culture. It’s the art of being intentionally kind and patient in the words they say and the things they do every day, everywhere, with everybody. Quite simply, we much teach manners.

Moms like You and Me
Because you’re reading this page, I know you and I have some things in common. Moms like us deeply love our children and want to give them every skill they need to soar through life. We have high hopes for them—and not merely that they attend Ivy League schools, gain impressive-sounding job titles, win beauty pageants, or accumulate worldly wealth and fame.

Those are all fine things. But what matters more to you and me is that our children grow up to be kind, compassionate, friendly, warmhearted, caring, self-disciplined, self-controlled, self-reliant, fair, generous, empathetic, and even-tempered adults.

We wish them joy, so we want them to laugh daily and easily.

We want them to go with the flow but not to be easily swayed.

We want them to be optimistic but not to wear rose-colored glasses.

We want them to understand that personal conflict is inevitable but making enemies is optional.

We pray that they realize that apologizing for mistakes doesn’t mean you’re messed up. It means you have the strength of character to do the hard work of untangling messes.

We want our children to have a strong sense of right and wrong and the moral strength to live up to their convictions.

We want them to have goals and ambitions but not to let their goals become their gods.

We pray that they will always be secure in who they are so they don’t become bullies or easy targets for bullies.

We want them to please people but not to be people pleasers.

And because mamas enjoy hearing good things about their children, if we notice ours displaying these traits, we won’t mind a bit if people compliment them and tell us that our children are sweet and engaging and impressive. Christ within them makes all these things possible. Etiquette is the vehicle they’ll use to express their character in word and deed.

Etiquette Is Kindness and Love in Action
The apostle Paul’s famous passage about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 lists nine attributes of love, and seven of them describe what love is not. That leaves only two positive descriptions of love: patience and kindness.

Etiquette is the language that expresses patience and kindness in our interactions with one another. It teaches us to make modest sacrifices of our time, our agenda, and our momentary wants so we can live out patience and kindness. Etiquette is not pretense or fussiness. It’s not an attempt make children perfect. Manners are the language of love, and we teach them to our children for their benefit and for God’s glory.

Scripture often calls us to kindness. As Paul says in Ephesians 4:32 (niv), “Be kind and compassionate to one another.” Etiquette shows you how to live this way.

Etiquette Doesn’t Replace Authenticity
I sincerely do not want to add stress to any mother’s or child’s life. When etiquette is forced or stressed, it’s only on the outside. Love, on the other hand, is not forced.

We don’t teach etiquette in order to mold children into something they are not. Some children are spontaneous, spirited, and quick to share their opinion. That’s fantastic! They will grow up to be quick-witted, fun, welcoming leaders. Some children are reserved, slow to join in, and quiet. That’s fantastic too! They will grow up to be thoughtful and always there for you—servant leaders of their generation. God gave our children their personalities. Etiquette gives them the skills to bring the best of their personalities to the forefront.

Etiquette Has Evolved
Gone are the days when manners were about debutante balls, seated dinners for 12 with the butler serving, hats and gloves, and making sure the children were seen but not heard.

The etiquette I share with you has evolved. It’s in tune with the realities and sensibilities of our modern, casual, techno-savvy, fast-paced culture. Grandma’s etiquette was perfect for her day. But if we use her etiquette exclusively, we’re going to appear stiff and stuffy and out of sync for the time and place Christ has placed us in.

I’ve kept grandma’s timeless principles of courtesy, respect, hospitality, and consideration and used those principles to chart the course of our contemporary everyday encounters.

Etiquette Isn’t Artificial
Some people say we shouldn’t teach etiquette lest we train people to be artificial. Not so. Rather than forcing people to be artificial, etiquette frees them to become the best version of themselves.

On the other hand, some people try to use etiquette to mold their children into perfect people. Perfection is Satan’s trap. God didn’t give us our children for our own glory but so that we could empower them to freely and gladly live for Christ and reflect His glory. Etiquette polishes us so that Christ’s reflection can be seen more easily in us.

The skills you’ll learn about in these pages aren’t to be lived out legalistically. They are written in sand, not stone. You can use these principles to build and honor relationships inside and outside your family. This is an important concept. After all, the reason we were put here in the first place was to be in relationship with God and other people.

Etiquette Isn’t Window Dressing
Motherhood gives us an opportunity to be the people we want our children to become. That’s why I wrote this book—to help you teach your children and be a role model for them so their good manners spring from their hearts and are not just for show.

For manners to be more than window dressing in our lives, they must be expressed in the words we say and the things we do—and not just when we find it convenient or are in an especially good mood. Our good manners become true when they are ingrained into us, just as we can learn a new language and use it until it is as natural as our native tongue.

In the pages of this book you’ll find the modern, essential skills you need to know and model to help your children soar through life free from social uneasiness so they can become well liked, well mannered, and well respected. None of it is hard to learn. All of it pays a lifetime of dividends.

Our Journey Together
I’m so glad we’re going on this journey together! I’ve prayed and worked hard on this book for the benefit of you and your family. My prayer has been that it will encourage, inspire, and mentor you.

People often ask me how I became the Manners Mentor. It’s a pretty amazing story. I can still barely believe I am where I am today.

When I was nine years old, I was in a situation no little girl should experience. At that time, I started praying for three specific things. Over the next 20 years, God answered my three prayers, slowly unfurling His plans and purposes for me in ways that even the most imaginative novelist could never conceive. I’ll briefly share my story with you (friends should know about friends!) so you’ll understand my passion for these skills and why I’m honored to bring you the message God has entrusted to me—that manners matter to Him.

In the teaching part of the book, I’ll start by showing you how to teach etiquette without stressing or ever having to nag. We moms already have a lot on our plates. We don’t need to pile more “must do’s” on them. My way of teaching is gentle, subtle, and lifestyle-oriented. You won’t find your children pushing back. But you will see children who are more patient, kinder, and more likely to consider how their words and feelings impact the people around them.

You’ll also find relevant, modern, indispensable tips on everything from table manners to texting. You’ll learn how to make positive first impressions, interact with ease, and give and receive gifts graciously. You’ll also learn about using Wonder Words, beginning and ending conversations on a high note, dining skills, table manners, and so much more. All of it is in sync with today’s sensibilities and from the heart.

Chapters 4 through 17 start with just-for-fun etiquette IQ tests. “Mom to Mom” tips start in chapter 5. These are special things that are on my heart to share with you. They’re adult-level skills that will help you shine or special tips for teaching a particular skill set and touching the heart of your child.

Chapters 4 through 17 also include has multiple sections titled “Growing in Graciousness (Next-Level Skills).” These next-level skills allow you to pick and choose what you want to add into the mix. You can introduce a particular skill whenever your children will benefit the most given their age and stage, natural bent (introvert or extrovert), personality, level of maturity, confidence, and degree of manual dexterity.

You might look at all these skills and say, “Wow, Maralee! That looks like a whole bunch. How can I teach all of that?” Let me assure you, you can! It’s my joy to show you how. The skills you’ll find here are the ones I’ve taught successfully in hundreds of my Manners Mentor classes. And of course, I use them at home with my own two sons, Marc and Corbett. These skills are classroom tested, and they work in the real world.

Just don’t rush the process. You will teach and model for months or even years before some skills become parts of your child’s life. That’s normal. We’re in it for the long haul, aren’t we?

Our Shadow and Reflection
I often think of the evening several years ago when I dined with the financial genius. Now that my two sons are nine and fifteen, his words resonate deeper than they did when he first showed me that children change everything “but only for a little while.” We have 21 percent of our lives or less to daily impact theirs—just 21 percent to pass along to them everything they need to know to soar through life on their own.

The number one predictor of our children’s future success and happiness is their ability to get along well with others, to be well-liked, and to be confident and at ease in their interactions. You’re holding in your hands the how-to’s of instilling these character traits in your children.

Today our children are our shadow. Tomorrow they’ll be our reflection. Let’s embark on this journey together.

Monday, October 1, 2012

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Guardians of Purity

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Charisma House (August 7, 2012)

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Julie Hiramine is the founder and executive director of the ministry Generations of Virtue that equips parents to empower their children for purity in our world today. As an internationally noted speaker, author, and Christian leader, Julie has encouraged and impacted parents and teens both in the United States and internationally through her speaking and written materials. Julie graduated from Pepperdine University with dual bachelor’s degrees in nonprofit business management and sociology. Julie and her husband, Kay, have five daughters: Brianna, Stacia, Alissa, Hana, and Mikayla.


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SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

The calling of this generation is in jeopardy. As parents, we comprehend the danger and enormity of the sin of our world in a way that our children cannot yet grasp. How do we begin communicating to our children how truly incredible their destinies are and how their choices, both large and small, impact their callings in a dramatic way? More importantly, how do we teach our children to walk in purity of heart, mind, and body, one of God’s profound prerequisites?




Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Charisma House (August 7, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616388552
ISBN-13: 978-1616388553



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The Ever Changing Landscape of Technology





If anything has changed since we were kids, it’s the world of technology. (Remember when cell phones were the size of your tennis shoe?) The funny thing is, it doesn’t matter what generation you represent; technology changes so fast it makes an impact on all of us—especially our kids. Yet our children seem to navigate all these changes so easily. It’s as if they are natives in a digital world, while we parents are immigrants. The landscape is familiar to them, and for us oftentimes it is foreign territory with new language, customs, and social mores.



Desktop computers were the wave of the future in the 1980s.



We thought we had “arrived ” with the floppy disk in 1984.

Cell phones made our lives easier by the1990s.



The Internet changed our world in the late 1990s.



The first commercial text message was sent in 1992.



The iPod revolution came on the scene in 2001.



In 2006 the word google was added to the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary.



By 2008 the number of text messages sent daily exceeded the current population of the planet.



In 2009, 95 percent of downloaded songs were downloaded illegally.



That same year the average American teen sent and received 2,272 text messages every month. By 2010 the average went up to 3,339.



In 2010, 6.1 trillion text messages were sent and received. As of 2011, there were only 7 billion people alive.



It is now estimated that a week ’s worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the eighteenth century.



And by 2013 the long-awaited “supercomputer” is expected to surpass the computational capabilities of the human brain.



Now check out how quickly it took the following things to reach a market audience of fifty million:



Radio: thirty-eight years TV: thirteen years Internet: four years

iPod: three years

Facebook: two years2



So what does it all mean? In one generation we have gone from the Stone Age to the Space Age technologically, and it is continuing to grow exponentially.



The book of Daniel talks about knowledge increasing (Dan. 12:4). The sheer volume of information that our kids deal with is massive. With information, advice, and guidance multiplying on the earth so rapidly, how do we know who is influencing our kids?

Many parents I have met use this feeling of being in a different world as an excuse to not engage on this level with their children. I hear people say all the time, “I don’t understand any of that stuff, so I don’t even go there!” I have to admit, I am no tech whiz either, but if we don’t “go there,” we will be forfeiting one of our greatest opportunities not only to parent our children but also to disciple them in this area of their lives. This is an arena where I see the enemy lurking, just waiting to snatch our kids over to the dark side before they have even left the “safety” of our living rooms.



When we were kids, we had to go to the mall or out to a restaurant to see our friends; now our own children just hop on their computers or mini- computers (i.e., cell phones) to do the same thing. Sure, there were ways for us to get into mischief, but usually that did not happen under the same roof, let alone the same room that our parents were sitting in! Now kids don’t even have to walk out the door to get themselves into trouble.



One in five teens have sent/posted a nude/ semi-nude picture or video of themselves.



One in three teen boys have had nude/ semi-nude images sent to them that were originally meant for someone else.



The average age of first Internet exposure to porn is age eleven.



One in three visitors to pornographic websites are women.



We parents have to realize that being online is like being in a house with no parents home. We would never let our kids throw a party at our house with no holds barred, but when we let them online with no boundaries, it is the same thing. We have to understand that we need to be training our kids from the time they are young to protect their purity of heart, mind, and body when it comes to technology. We need to teach them that who they really are is who they are when no one is watching.



You know the saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”? Well that’s how our kids view the Internet. They think that they can go on a “virtual moral vacation” anytime they want, without any consequences. They think no one will ever find out what they do online. And it’s easy for us, as parents, to think that the online activity of our kids isn’t that big a deal—after all, most of their friends are doing the same things. This apathy toward the online behavior of our kids could be for many reasons, but I believe a huge one is because the con- sequences of high-risk online behavior are often delayed. Think about it. You know what’s going on if you come home after visiting family over the weekend and there is clear evidence throughout the whole house that your son threw a wild party. You have reason to suspect something when your daughter, normally bubbly and cheerful, suddenly becomes withdrawn and depressed, and then you find out from a friend ’s mom that she’s been seen alone with the school ’s playboy. Yet often high- risk online behavior is more difficult to detect and therefore more serious. The longer negative patterns go on, the stronger and deeper they get. You owe it to your children to monitor their online activity. It could literally have lifelong consequences if they are allowed free rein on the Internet.



The enemy has a plan for this generation, and it is to steal and destroy. I am convinced that the enemy will use technology to steal away a generation along with their destiny. When kids (and especially teens) spend hours playing video games, chatting online on social networking sites, texting on their cell phones, or watching every movie that has been released this past decade, their time has been wasted. That same time could have been spent on training for their future. We parents must realize that we use technology differently than our children do. We usually use technology as a means to an end, not an end in itself. While we are task-oriented online, our kids go online for the sole purpose of just hanging out there.



At Generations of Virtue we have a six-week World Changers Intensive internship program for seventeen- to twenty-one-year-olds. This is an unforgettable time for these young people to dive deep into purity, holiness, servanthood, and ministry. One thing we ask is that they “unplug” for the six weeks that they are with us. They are not allowed to have their cell phones or computers except to call home once a week. The young people return home after their six-week “media fast” new and different people. They realize that unplugging isn’t such a bad idea after all and that it can really aid in getting their hearts and minds focused on their purpose, their calling, and their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But even more striking to me is how many young people I speak to that will not apply for the internship because they cannot bring all their gadgets with them.



There are many other opportunities that I see young people missing because their tech world would not be intact. I see them forgoing opportunities to do missions work around the world, because in some areas they won’t be able to check their social networks or text their best friends. I see young people who won’t leave their video games long enough to help out with ministry opportunities right in their own cities. This is why I say the enemy is stealing the destiny of a generation. While they sit at their computers playing online role-playing games, the enemy is not only stealing their hearts and minds but also the hearts and minds of those they could be reaching as well.



Parents must realize what their children are forgoing when they pour themselves wholeheartedly into their very own “media empire.” God has designed this time for young people to learn, grow, and be discipled in their calling. But often- times, by the time young adults reach their mid- twenties, media and culture have done most of the shaping, instead of godly influences. I like to tell young people the old saying that “time is money.” In your bank account of life what are you investing in? Are you investing in your future, your calling, your destiny, or are you investing in things that will not profit your future whatsoever?



Another area in which parents need to mentor their children in is the area of healthy relation- ships. Kids are extremely comfortable in a virtual world. They have virtual friends from around the globe. While parents use social networks as an opportunity to network with old friends they have personally known from high school, college, and present, their kids strive to add a multitude of “friends” whether or not they have ever met them. This might lead to a son or daughter accepting their friend ’s neighbor’s cousin’s brother as a friend—someone whom they have never met in real life!

The dilemma with this is that while teens are on a quest to accept more and more friends for the sake of popularity, their relational world shifts the balance from real to virtual. They exchange real, authentic, face-to-face relationships for virtual illusion, false impressions, and even delusion.



The point I am making here is twofold. First, the more virtual relationships our kids have with people they have not met face-to-face, the more jeopardy they are in. It is a rule at our home that they have to have spent time with someone face- to-face before they add them to their friends list on any networking site they are on. This way we at least know the friends really are who they say they are.



When we meet people for the first time, we often try to discern what type of person they are. Even with people we have known for years but don’t know well, we are usually observing what they say and how they act to see if this is someone we’d like to have in our lives. We do this by using at least two of the five senses that we have— seeing and hearing. But with virtual relationships, we don’t have either of these options available to us. Sure we may “see,” but we are seeing only an image, the image the other person wants to project to the world. Many times that image is different from the real person. It’s nothing more than a mask. We want our kids to have relationships with people in which they can learn to discern who that person really is without the mask.



Secondly and most importantly is that real relationships happen in real life. The healthiest relationships are built face-to-face, day in and day out, not virtually. Real life is real relationships. Now I know there are some reading this who have even met their spouses virtually before being introduced in person. I know that virtual relation- ships are a part of our world. It’s just that our kids need to establish and anchor themselves in relationships that are not only virtual. Because of the push for popularity, both for the shy and the out- going, virtual relationships have such an appeal to teens that some teens would rather live primarily in that world than in the reality of everyday life. The shy ones like it because they can be different from the way they are in school every day, and the extroverts like it because they live for the thrill of relationship—the more the merrier.



As parents we need to be focused on the fact that no matter where technology takes us, we still want to be anchored in the face-to-face relation- ships, where learning how to deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly in other people takes place in a consistent, loving, everyday, face-to-face environment. We need to teach our kids that when they get frustrated with their future spouses, they can’t just hit the “delete” button to end the relationship. Real relationships take hard work, day in and day out. The truth is that our spouses have to live with not just the good impressions we make, but rather with the real us.



The Worship Factor

This is another factor we want to be aware of with our kids and their virtual worlds. Many young people have mixed motives for being online all the time. Now it’s not that they are aware on the surface that this is a motivation, but it is our job as parents to disciple them in a way that purifies their motives for being online. The bottom line is that they like the attention they get from others. Whether it is that online game they are winning or the social networking site and their thousands of friends, they like the fact that this is a “world ” where people like them. Teens live in a world of growing maturity and constant challenges. Teens have a fair amount of conflict with parents and other authorities as they are challenged to mature and forge a place for their individual identity. It’s a stretching experience that can be downright uncomfortable. Then along comes an opportunity not only to have people like the things they do but also to be the center of attention as well. I call this the “worship factor,” or the “me factor.” Does this sound familiar to you?—“It’s all about me and my friends and what I do.”



I have a young lady on my staff with Generations of Virtue who prayed for over three years about having a Facebook account. Every time she would ask the Lord about getting on and having her own account, she would feel a check in her spirit. God began to show her that her motives were not right. She said that God convicted her that it was difficult enough for her to put Him first and that this would be a place where she would be pointing people to her, rather than the Lord. She said she had enough trouble trying to keep God as the focus and not her, as it was, and this would only make it harder. Finally there came a point where God dealt with the motivation of her heart so she would be able to use this area of technology to advance His kingdom purposes and not her own little empire of self.



This is the online worship factor. Is it all about me or about truly being a representative of God ’s mighty army and making advances for His kingdom? So much of technology centers around my life, my pictures, my friends, my little world. What happened to our calling and destiny to be world-changers for the almighty King? We get sucked into this vortex of self and the “me” factor that is all about me getting worship from my friends. Last I read in the Bible, Lucifer fell from heaven because he wanted the worship that belonged to God.



Advancing God’s Kingdom

In his book Re-Create: Building a Culture in Your Home Stronger Than the Culture Deceiving Your Kids, Ron Luce says that “98 percent of our population are followers of culture and 2 percent are the shapers of culture.”7 In a world where our kids are incredibly tech-savvy, why don’t we encourage them to become the 2 percent? That 2 percent has tremendous power and authority over our culture. If that 2 percent were young people sold out to God ’s purposes of advancing His kingdom, that would truly rock our world. Look what twelve disciples did without the Internet! If we work with this next generation, the ones living in our own homes, and give them a vision for the impact they can have on this world through technology, there’s no envisioning how God will use it. If they write the music, direct the movies, create the websites, engineer the games, and manage their Internet world with pure hands and a clean heart to advance God ’s kingdom, this world will never be the same. This is the vision that we have to communicate to them: if their motives are pure and they see technology as a way to advance God ’s kingdom, and not their mini-empires, this will create change. Not that technology and media are bad—just the opposite! However, this powerful tool has been hijacked by the enemy of our souls, and we must take back the ground that the enemy has stolen and use it for the glory of God.



Everyday Practical Hints

Now whether your kids are three or thirteen, there are some practical measures you can take to make their technology world much safer. You have to start when your kids are young so you can be up to speed by the time they reach their teen years when technology issues really come to the forefront.



The number one suggestion I give to all parents, no matter what age their kids are, is to put some kind of filtering or monitoring software on all computers that kids have access to. This will save you from a path of destruction that the enemy is betting your kids will stumble into. One of the most common experiences that hundreds of parents have shared with me is how their son or daughter chanced upon some kind of pornographic website by accident, then became addicted. This dark world is proactively seeking to imprison your child for life. Filtering software provides an outer perimeter that at least helps guard them from this onslaught.



Now I am no computer whiz. My kids are the ones to save me most of the time from my technology mishaps and woes—anything from my e-mail not working to my printer being jammed. As I stated earlier, they are the natives in this territory. Still, I make it a point to find a way to put filtering software on our computer and learn how to monitor it properly. Mind you, it is not enough to have it, if you do not know how to monitor it and use it properly. You need to come to grips with how to use the software once it is in place, and if this is way beyond your realm of expertise, don’t use that as an excuse to hand your kids over to the enemy on a silver platter. Find a techno- logically capable college student from your church, and have them install the filtering program and teach you how to use it.



There are no excuses when it comes to this world of pornography. Take a look at what we are up against:



Pornographic websites: 4.2 million (12 percent of total websites)



Pornographic pages: 420 million



Daily pornographic search engine requests: 68 million (25 percent of total search engine requests)



Daily pornographic e-mails: 2.5 billion (8 percent of total e-mails)



Average daily pornographic e-mails/user:

4.5 per Internet users



Monthly pornographic downloads (peer- to-peer): 1.5 billion (35 percent of all downloads)



Websites offering illegal child pornography: 100,000



Sexual solicitations of youth made in chat rooms: 89 percent



Youths who received sexual solicitation: one in seven



Worldwide visitors to pornographic web- sites: 72 million monthly8



No matter what age your children are, it is a good idea to keep computers in public, high-traffic areas of your home. Remember laptops have legs and like to walk away. Keeping computer screens where they can be seen by other eyes will cut down on temptation. Especially at night, keep all these devices inaccessible by blocking the Internet signal or placing them in your bedroom. (I know one dad who actually unplugs the router and takes it into his bedroom every night.) One of the most common stories parents share with me is about kids getting online, via computers or cell phones or other devices, in the middle of the night while the world is sleeping.



Time limits are also important. Whether it is for playing games or being on Facebook, studies show that parents who set time limits see results:



Only about three in ten young people say they have rules about how much time they can spend watching TV (28%) or playing video games (30%), and 36% say the same about using the computer. But when parents do set limits, children spend less time with media: those with any media rules consume nearly 3 hours less media per day (2:52) than those with no rules.9



Don’t forget that cell phones are essentially small computers, and every generation of phone gets more and more powerful. Oftentimes we focus on the actual laptop or desktop, but many times this is not what gets our kids in trouble. They are just as comfortable using their cell phones to have access to all the garbage on the Internet as well. A recent study on media use among teens revealed “young people now spend more time listening to music, playing games, and watching TV on their cell phones (a total of :49 [minutes] daily) than they spend talking on them (:33 [minutes])”10 Being familiar with your carrier’s parental control options and always picking the phone that is the simplest and most basic for your child’s needs is imperative. Although we parents might not use every feature on our phones, our kids will figure out what those features are and learn how to use them. Don’t assume that because you don’t, they won’t. Remember they are the natives when it comes to this technology!



Now it is no easy task to find our kids (especially kids under the age of fifteen) phones that do not have every cutting-edge feature, bell, and whistle. I went the other day to find my fourteen- year-old daughter a phone that would simply make calls, send text messages, and take decent pictures, and there were only a handful of crummy models to choose from at our carrier’s store. Most of them looked like something we would plan on getting Grandma, with large print screens. It made me want to just cave in and get her the newest model of the iPhone; I mean, she is a very responsible young lady! But the words of so many teens and parents echoed in my head about scenarios that came up with their “good, responsible” kids being drawn into temptation that they were not ready to handle.



And the problem is that once that happens, you can’t go back. So our search goes on for a simple phone, one that is still cool! Nothing is more crushing than finding out that your child is immersed in pornography. This is a common occurrence that parents don’t expect your kids to be able to stand and win if you are not engaged yourself in a conquest for victory.



Pornography is an attack of the enemy especially focused on derailing our sons, but daughters fall prey to it as well. It is evil, and there is a proactive offensive being launched against our children.



“Roughly two-thirds (67 percent) of young men and one-half (49 percent) of young women agree that viewing pornography is acceptable.”



Boys between the ages of twelve and seventeen who regularly view pornography on the Internet had sex at an earlier stage in their lives and were more likely to initiate oral sex, apparently imitating what they had watched.



“More than half of sexually experienced guys would rather give up sex for a month than give up going online for a month.”



“Overall revenue from the porn industry in the United States is greater than the



National Football League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball combined.”



Seventy percent of sexual advances over the Internet happened while youngsters were on a home computer.



Ninety percent of eight- to sixteen-year- olds have viewed porn online (most while doing homework).



Our kids need to be equipped to win this battle. We cannot stand by and assume that they will not be affected by this enemy. They need to be dressed for battle and be well acquainted with the enemy and his tactics. Now a word to parents: don’t expect your kids to be able to stand and win if you are not engaged yourself in a con- quest for victor y. If pornography is an issue in your life, this is the time to leave it at the cross and get squared around. If for nothing else, do it for the children you love so dearly. The enemy of your soul will convince you this is impossible, but God is the only hope in the war being waged against your soul. Surrender this area to the Lord minute by minute so the generational line of your family can be redirected into the godly line of sons that are meant to stand in this war.



In his book Hero: Becoming the Man She Desires, Fred Stoeker (coauthor of the Every Man’s Battle series) asks, “Are you leaving the women in your life better off for having known you?”17 Is that true of you, Dad? Is that true of your sons?



Although pornography is primarily a male issue, women are becoming more and more involved. Fred Stoeker is a good friend of mine. As a guest speaker at a parent-teen conference called ReConnect that my ministry hosts, Fred shared a story that shocked me. He had been invited to speak at a popular Bible college, and a week before his arrival the school had sent an anonymous poll to the students regarding their pornography usage. His question wasn’t, “When was the last time you viewed pornography?” It was, “How often do you view pornography?” The poll results were unsettling to say the least; 100 per- cent of men and 87 percent of women said they view pornography at least once a week.



We need to prepare our children age-appropriately for this dilemma. We need to equip them for this battle. Most boys are shown their first pornography at age eleven, but this is becoming more common even as young as age eight. How do we brace ourselves for this, let alone our children? Start by explaining to your young children that if they ever see a picture anywhere (on the computer, in a book, magazine, even a movie) of a woman (or a man) who is not properly dressed, especially one without clothes on, to come and tell you immediately. Part of the key I have found in waging this battle is to bring things out into the light. Things kept hidden in darkness provide the enemy with a door of entrance. In teaching our kids to be upfront and tell the truth, we are allowing the light of God to shine into that area and bring redemption. Leaving things in secret gives the enemy the edge and the upper hand.



Also explain to your child how to handle this issue online. For this generation, pornography is relentless at trying to trap our kids when they are innocently browsing the Internet. Explain to them that if they ever see anything online that depicts a person without clothes on or doing something that makes them uncomfortable or is inappropriate, they should immediately close the page and run to get you. Further, I always recommend that they turn off the computer, because I don’t want the unsuspecting brother or sister to walk by and be scarred as the first child is running to find a parent! You can always go back later and research how that image came up on the screen. Now I always advise parents to take a deep breath, put on an un-alarming demeanor, and go see what’s up. Reacting by screaming at the top of your lungs and popping your eyeballs out will hardly encourage your child that you are approachable when these kinds of issues come up.



Parents, we need to be engaged in this even when our children don’t come and tell us that they have found suspicious content online. One time when we were doing a teen program with about four hundred teens in Arizona, a fourteen-year-old boy came up and quietly shared his testimony with me. He said that he had stumbled onto pornography online, and out of curiosity he had looked at it a bit one day, although he knew better. He went to bed without sharing with his parents what kind of content he had viewed on the Internet. After falling sound asleep, he was awakened by both his parents and confronted with his activity. After much discussion late into the night, and a time of prayer and repentance, he went back to sleep with a clear conscience. He confessed that having his parents do that changed the course of his life. He was proud to share that he had not looked at pornography again. His parents, by loving him enough to be aware of his online activities and confronting him with the truth, had saved him from a world of conflict and hidden sin. But to catch this hidden conduct right away, it took parents who not only had filtering software but also monitored it as well.



As much as we need to train our children to be on guard when they are young, we need also to set their sights on purity of mind, heart, and body as they get older. They need to be able to stand against their flesh, which is set on pushing the boundaries. Our teens are immersed in a world where sleaze and promiscuity are common, and to say no to this onslaught will surely put them in the minority. It is essential to help them see that this is really a step into God ’s higher calling.



I have listed several resources at the end of this chapter that we at Generations of Virtue have found useful. Work through them with your teens so that they can overcome the battle set before them. This battle with media expo- sure is an everyday battle. The enemy has declared war against our children, and we need not only to acknowledge the battle but also engage in the everyday scrimmages to ensure victory.



Resource for dads:



Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker with Mike Yorkey



Resources for dads and sons:



Hero: Becoming the Man She Desires by Fred Stoeker and Jasen Stoeker



Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker, with Mike Yorkey



Tactics: Securing the Victory in Every Young Man’s Battle by Fred Stoeker with Mike Yorkey



Resources for moms and daughters:



Every Young Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge and Stephen Arterburn



What Are You Waiting For? by Dannah Gresh