Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"Smart Toys" Require Smarter Parents

Picture illustration (REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski).
As many of you know, my wife and I have four boys.  They are more connected to the internet and their friends than I could possibly have imagined.  Today, the FBI just released a warning for parents who have children with smart toys or smart devices, "Taking a cautious approach to the upcoming deluge of smart toys hitting store shelves for the holiday shopping season, the FBI has issued a public service announcement warning parents about the risks of bringing an Internet-connected toy into the household. Specifically, the FBI is concerned about the amount of personal information that could be "unwittingly disclosed" during normal use of the toy."  The full article can be found here:

Smart toys require smarter parents.  It's vitally important for parents to continually monitor the online behaviors of their children.  Here are some ground rules to set with your kids: 

1) Smart phones, smart toys or devices are a privilege.  Parents reserve the right to take them away and inspect their online history and message history at a moments notice.

2) Use some sort of monitoring technology to help keep your kids safe.  I'm not going to have the time or space to launch into all the different types of technology available, however, here is a great website that reviews a number of them:,2817,2346997,00.asp

3) The devices are kept in the parents room over night while they are plugged into the outlet and charging.  This helps our kids avoid temptation that may occur while parents are sleeping.

Smart phones and internet connected devices offer connection to friends and escape and entertainment.  These things are moderation and when they are monitored.  Let's make sure that as they enjoy the internet that they stay safe from as much temptation as possible.

Here's why we want to do our best to help our kids in this area of their lives.  "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.(Proverbs 22:6).  The dangers of the internet are well documented.  We want to train our kids to be wise in the use of the tools they use in technology.  It's also proven that gaming and other internet activities can cause our kids to have addictive behaviors that last long into adulthood.  Let's train them in the best way of using technology and their time.

Let's also make sure that we help our kids to realize that if gaming or smart phones or internet gets in the way of their relationship with Jesus, then we need to cut those things back so we can get more time with Jesus.  After all, the internet isn't going to get us to heaven, only Jesus does that!  Let's lead by example in showing them what a blessing staying connected to Jesus really is.  Remember, more is caught than taught.

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts about how to best monitor and care for your kids while they are online.  Please share.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Gentle Whisper...

Image result for gentle whisper
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13)

Elijah was scared. Which is surprising, because he had just shown up 450 prophets of Baal and proved that HIS God was stronger. His God was the one that brought down fire and burned up a soaked offering. His God was the one who ended a 3-year drought. The prophets of Baal, on the other hand, did nothing. But what happened? Jezebel, the angry queen of Israel, the one who supported Baal worship in Israel, swore that she would kill Elijah.

Elijah ran. He ran and fled to a mountain, and there wanted to die. But God had other plans. God still wanted to use Elijah. God fed Elijah, gave him a place to sleep…appeared to him. Now, you might expect God to reveal himself in a huge, powerful sort of way. After all, he is the all-powerful Lord of the universe. But notice what our reading said. God was not in the powerful wind…or the earthquake…. OR in the fire. He was in the gentle wind. Weird, isn’t’ it?

Although no scary, powerful queen wants to kill us, other troubles and sufferings chase us down. And when THEY come knocking, WE go running. But in the middle of all these attacks, a gentle, quiet whisper comforts us. After the unending cycle of bills and work each work, God says, “I paid for your life.” To the old car that just can’t seem to stay fixed, he whispers, “I fixed YOUR sins on the cross.” When you and your partner seem to argue every week, a voice gently states, “You BOTH are saved in my eyes.” You see the strained relationship with one of your kids, and God leans in, “With me you have a perfect relationship.” The constant longing for a more fulfilling or engaging job, and that whisper comes, “Your longing for something better is complete in the hope of heaven.” The drugs and alcohol that just won’t go away from you or those you love, but that voice says, “You have freedom from sin in me.” So many problems surround us and attack us from every angle. You just want to throw your hands in the air and say, “I quit!” But the gentle, quiet whisper of God is your hope, your comfort, your salvation from these attacks.

Elijah expected God to be in the wind, earthquake, or fire. But he wasn’t. God was in the gentle whisper. That’s something Elijah DIDN’T expect. God choose something so small, so little, so insignificant, as the way he appeared to Elijah. God saved US in an unexpected way. He sent his son to die in OUR place, and he gives US eternal life. Paul tells us in his letter to Corinth, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”

By: Orie Thomford