Monthly Archives: May 2015

THINKING ABOUT VIDEO GAMES

Video-GamesI don’t know what to think about video games. I find them frustrating for when I find a student involved with one when they should be doing something else, they seem to be mentally lost for a time. It reminds me of trying to train my puppy right now. He gets locked in on a scent and suddenly can’t hear me.

Douglas Wilson has been one of my favorite writers on issues. I do not understand his humor all the time but you do not read him without being provoked to think. This is an article by him about our children (and sometimes spouses) and video games. He writes:

Video games might well make your son ignorant and corrupt, but they won’t make him stupid — although I trust this might require further explanation. I have recently received some requests from parents about how to govern or regulate their sons’ taste for video games, and so here goes. But before rushing to the question of how to govern or regulate, we should begin with the question of how to think about themConcerns about the influence of video games usually reduces to two categories — morals and education. If someone asks if all this gaming is “good for” my little Johnny, these are usually the two categories they would have in mind.

The question about morals can’t really be answered unless we are talking about specific games. It is like asking whether your son will be negatively affected by “books” or by “movies.” What books? What movies? Grand Theft Auto is a cesspool of corruption, and the video game of Pilgrim’s Progress isn’t.

Note that I am not here talking about whether clean games are lame, but am simply noting that clean games are clean. Nothing too controversial there, I trust.

So it should go without saying that wise and godly parents will not let their kids play games where they are picking up hookers and blowing fellow drug dealers away. “My son, if sinners entice thee, Consent thou not” Prov 1:10. Entertainment is in fact capable of corrupting a young heart and is not, as so many imagine, an all-purpose moral disinfectant. The fact that it is cool doesn’t mean that it is not putrid.

But what about the life of the mind? What about education? Do video games rot the brain? The answer is no, but we need to make a distinction first.

There is a difference between ignorance and stupidity. One of the characteristic failures of the modern education system has been its inability to keep standardized test scores from sliding ever downward. Periodically the tests are re-normed to hide the decline, and the whole thing is a tragic mess. People have rightly noted that this is an educational failure, but they have too quickly assumed stupidity when what they are looking at is ignorance. When you see an interview with a young person on the street expressing bafflement over who George Washington was, this is a problem of ignorance, not stupidity. That same kid is the one his grandma — who knows who George Washington is — has to ask to help her change the channel.

In other words, what we have seen is a radical alteration in the content of our cultural curriculum, and tests which presuppose the old curriculum really are bringers of bad tidings. Now I have dedicated a good part of my life to the proposition that the old liberal arts curriculum is worth preserving and saving, and hence our efforts in restoring classical Christian education. But I am doing this, not because the kids today are stupid, but rather because they are being robbed. They are very smart, but they are being educated as though they were idiot savants. While test scores that measure our educational system have been going consistently down, IQ tests, which are measuring something else, have been going consistently up. It is called the Flynn effect, indicating something else entirely, and I am convinced that video games are part of it.

While many modern kids are ignorant of that body of knowledge that their great-grandparents would have considered the sine qua non of being educated, they are quite capable of navigating many parts of the modern world that their ancestors would have found utterly bewildering. If you want to read two books that will pull you helpfully in two opposite directions, resulting in what I think would be a place of admirable balance, I would suggest these — Amusing Ourselves to Death and Everything Bad Is Good for You. Make sure you read both of them in the same month.

One time, in the very early years of personal computers, I was messing around with some Texas Instrument contraption. I am not even sure what it was. It was the kind of thing where I would labor at the programming in order to get colored bars to march across the screen. Rachel, who was just a toddler, wanted me to be done one time, and so she came up by my chair and said, “Papa, push function quit.”

At the same time, what video games are capable of doing (destructively) is creating a huge opportunity cost. A son who is holed up in his bedroom playing video games every available hour is not becoming stupid — quite the reverse. But his intellectual RPM is not being applied to certain things that would prove to be a much greater blessing to him in the long run.

Though he is not becoming stupid, there are a number of ways in which he is becoming ignorant — because the time being used on video games is not being used in other productive ways. These productive pursuits have been identified as such over many generations, and they should not be lightly set aside for the sake of extra flashes on a screen. We should not forbid those “extra flashes,” but we should take special care over what they might displace. This is not because video games are malum in se — they are not evil in themselves. But it is indisputable that video games take up time, and that time cannot be spent on one thing here and also on another thing there.

So let me highlight four areas where you should not want video games to take up all the available oxygen. A young teen-aged man should be a diligent student in his formal studies, he should make sure he is current with his extracurricular piano and lacrosse practices, he should have time for the family to read aloud together, and he should have time to visit with his sister. And all this assumes that he gets to bed at a reasonable hour.

That said, that accomplished, I don’t see a problem with video games at all. So if all that is happening, and if the video game/s in question is not some vile bit of nastiness, then I really wouldn’t worry about it. One of the things that parents might do to help keep a regulator on the whole thing is allow an eager adolescent devotee of video games to earn time on the games through time on the piano. An hour of piano practice gets him a hour blasting the space pods. And if his GPA drops below a certain level, he finds that video games at home are just like the basketball squad at school. No think, no play. No games until the next report card, and we will see then. The problem is not what he has been doing, but rather what he has been doing instead of other things that his family values.

But he doesn’t earn any video game time by talking with his sister. That would be mercenary — but he still needs to talk with her.

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MEMORIAL DAY – WHAT IT REALLY IS

As a veteran, I appreciate it that recently that there are many times we are being recognized for our service. One time it is a bit uncomfortable is during Memorial Day only because the day is to recall those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. This article is a grim reminder of what it has cost our nation. It is by MicNewtown2hael Avarmovich

Memorial Day is the most solemn of our national holidays.  The solemn tribute began in 1866 when three Christian women from Columbus, Mississippi, decorated the graves of Confederate soldiers there, and at the same time laid flowers on the graves of the Union soldiers buried in the cemetery.  At the insistence of his wife, General John Logan, then Army Chief of Staff, issued an official order shortly thereafter proclaiming Memorial Day an annual day of remembrance for our nation’s war dead.

From the days of the Revolution, through the struggles of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the first Gulf War and the present War on Terror, the strength of our nation is in the spirit of its men and women who fought and died for a nation determined to know its ancient liberty.  4,435 combat deaths in the Revolutionary War, 2,260 in the War of 1812, 1,733 in the Mexican War, 140,415 on the Union side in the Civil War, 74.524 on the Confederate, 385 in the Spanish-American War, 53,513 in World War I, 292,131 in World War II, 33,667 in the Korea War, 47,393 in the Vietnam War and 148 in the Persian Gulf War.  Over 4,491 have died as a direct result of hostile action in Iraq since March 19, 2003, with 2,357 more in Afghanistan.  The loss of life to American military men and women in all of our nation’s wars exceeds 1,340,000.

On the first few days after D-Day in June 1944, 6,603 Americans died in combat; 4,000 alone on the first day.  Iwo Jima, lying midway between Guam and Japan, is less than five miles long.  On that island, Japanese troops were ordered to dig in the mountain fortress and to die to the last man.  The assault on Iwo Jima was the fiercest landing fight the world has ever seen.  The Japanese kept up an incessant rain of death upon the attacking American troops on the beaches.  Navy and Marine casualties exceeded 22,000; the Japanese counted more than 20,000 dead. On the sacred soil of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the battlefield was a sea of carnage.  In three days of fighting, Confederate losses were 3,900 killed, and 24,000 wounded and missing; Union losses were 3,100 killed, and 20,000 wounded or missing.  Those soldiers listed as missing simply vanished, ground up in battle disappearing into the soil.  In November 1863, several months after the battle of Gettysburg, its military cemetery was dedicated, at which President Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address.

Today, there are 120 national military cemeteries in our nation.  From Arlington on the Potomac to the Golden Gate , from St. Augustine in Florida to Sitka, Alaska, as well as on many other burial grounds elsewhere around the world.  The war cemeteries in Normandy, one of which appears in the powerful closing scene of the film “Saving Private Ryan,” holds the remains of 9,386 American soldiers. The cemetery of Meuse-Argonne in France contains more than 14,000 American military dead from World War I, the largest number interred in a single place in Europe. France has 11 American cemeteries, the most outside of the United States; Belgium has three, the United Kingdom and Italy, two, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, one. A number exist outside Europe; the oldest is the Mexico City National Cemetery, which dates from 1847 and is the burial site of nearly 750 unidentified American soldiers killed in the Mexican-American War, and later from the U.S. Civil War and Spanish-American War. Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines is the largest overseas cemetery, with more than 17,000 Americans who died in World War II’s Pacific Theatre. In 2003, former General Colin Powell, responding to a remark by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, who had been critical of American “hard power,” said, “We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we’ve done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan, and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in.” More than 125,000 U.S. war dead are buried in these overseas resting places.

On this hallowed soil, as in the hearts of the American people, the memory of these gallant men and women, who made the supreme sacrifice, is enshrined forever.  In a letter written by President Lincoln to Mrs. Bixby, who lost five sons in the Civil War, the President wrote: “May our Heavenly Father assuage the anguish of your bereavement and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.” On this Memorial Day, amidst the travel, barbeques, and shopping, let us not forget to thank God that such brave men and women as they lived and died for our freedom.

BUSY IS NOT NECESSARILY BETTER

It has been nearly two years now that I have immersed myself once again into the culture of teenagers. Though in a Christian school environment, there is enough of the world about them that I have a pretty good idea of what is happening. One thing I would say is that teens are on overload. Their lives are far more complicated than when I was their age or even 15 years ago when I stepped away from the school culture. I can say that from the school perspective it is not likely going to get any easier.

I found this article fascinating and the results not so surprising. I share it because though it is not likely it would provoke much change in our school system, but you should think about your home life and the decisions for activities and schedule that you have control over? Think about it ..

THE FINNISH SECRET TO SUCCESSFUL STUDENT by Tim Elmore
http://growingleaders.com/blog/the-finnish-secret-to-successful-students/

Yesterday, I posed a question on whether a loaded childhood—chalk full of activities, high stress, and low margins—actually delays healthy adulthood. In other words, if a kid never gets to be kid-mobilea kid when they’re young, they’ll want to be one in their twenties or thirties. I’ve seen it far too many times.

Today, I want to share some research on one secret that educators in Finland have discovered that enables their students to experience healthy childhoods… which, in turn, leads to engaged adolescents and healthy adults. I was inspired by this information after talking to several teachers, including Kelly, who’s on a Fulbright research scholarship in Finland this year.

Every educator I’ve met who’s taught in Finland has echoed the same conclusion. Finland doesn’t have the most innovative classrooms. They do not deliver the most brilliant lesson plans. They, in fact, follow the same formulas for pedagogy that many other industrialized nations follow. However—they’ve found a way to lead the pack in many K-12 test scores and produce self-directed students who succeed more often than our American kids. You can look at the scores yourself.

Their secret? They simplify life.

Let me outline just a few examples of how adults in Finland have chosen the “less is more” approach with students (and how it’s paid off big time):

Less formal education.
Although they’ve led the way in test scores, they actually start kids in school at age seven. In America, parents often think age five is too late and launch them into pre-school. Finland believes kids need to be kids early on, so when they begin school, they are really ready (especially boys). Everything after ninth grade is optional.

Less possessions.
While every culture has the rich and the poor, as a whole, Finland’s less materialistic than the U.S. They live in smaller houses, buy fewer clothes, and don’t overwhelm shoppers with 300 choices of cereal or bread when ten will do. Men don’t buy big trucks and women wear less make up. Simple is better.

Less classroom hours.
Unlike our schools, Finnish schools actually start the day between 9:00-9:45 am. In fact, the government is discussing legislation that would prevent schools from starting any earlier, knowing that adolescents need more sleep to perform better. The school day ends between 2:00-2:45 pm. They typically have three to four 75- minute classes a day with several breaks in between. Kids stay engaged.

Fewer teachers per student.
Unlike our schools, Finnish elementary students stay with the same teacher for six years in a row. Obviously, those teachers really figure out the learning needs of each child and have a vested interest in their success since they don’t pass a troubled kid off to a new instructor next year. They ARE the instructor next year.

Less homework.
This one is huge. Finnish schools have the least amount of homework in the industrialized world. Teachers actually believe kids can and should get the work done in class. According to one teacher, it’s as if faculty have an unspoken agreement: “I won’t give you homework if you will work hard on this assignment in class.”

Less subjects.
Believe it or not, Finland actually covers fewer subjects in school and in less hours. Why? Because the parents, teachers and students trust the system and engage it. Instead of being suspicious of each other, they say to kids: This is your chance to get it. You better grab hold of it. Kids are not overwhelmed — they are engaged. One teacher said he often had to push students out of class at the end of the day because they wanted to stay and finish their projects.

Wow. Maybe “less is more” after all.

Question: How could you help simplify the life of your students? (Or child???)

Happy Ascension Day

skyThe celebrating of events that are on the traditional church calendar has been lost to many of the Protestant churches. It is too bad because the calendar is a great teaching tool. Today is 40 days after Easter and known as Ascension Day. There are several reasons we should rejoice on such a day as we contemplate the importance of Jesus ascending to the Father.

In his book The Work of Christ, R.C. Sproul explains how the disciples had come to understand why and where Jesus was going. From here he shows four great results of Christ’s ascension.

#1. Glorification. “When Jesus departed this world on the shekinah cloud, He was going back to the realm of glory. He was going to receive the glory that He enjoyed with the Father from all eternity. So, the ascension was a glorious thing. That is why, after He ascended, the disciples went back into Jerusalem and praised God in the temple. They understood that their Master was getting His glory back. His humiliation was over, and His exaltation had begun.”

#2. Coronation. “In the ascension, Jesus went up to His coronation. He did not go up simply to enter into His rest. He went up for His investiture service. He ascended to the throne, to the right hand of God, where He was given dominion, power, and authority over the whole earth. The Lamb who was slain became the Lion of Judah, who now reigns over the earth.”

#3. The Gift of the Comforter. “One of the most important reasons for Jesus’ ascension was that Pentecost might take place, that the Father and the Son might pour out the Spirit on the church to strengthen it and empower it for its earthly mission. As we all know, to witness for Christ in a corrupt world requires strength greater than our own. John Calvin said that the most important task of the church is to be the visible witness of the invisible kingdom, and for that we need the Holy Spirit.”

#4. The Ministry of the High Priest. “We have a great High Priest who offered a sacrifice for us on the cross once and for all—His own blood. That portion of His priestly ministry is finished. But His priestly work for us goes on as He intercedes for us. … Today, Jesus is in heaven, interceding for you and me, if indeed we belong to Him, and His prayers for us are equally effective. We should rejoice that He has taken up this priestly ministry on our behalf in the heavenly tabernacle.”

The ascension is often left out of the verbiage of the gospel but when you consider the importance of Christ ascending and the coming of the Holy Spirit, it comes down to no ascension – no salvation.

He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence he sall come to judge the quick and the dead” .. The Apostles’ Creed

HAPPY ASCENSION DAY

For Country Bible Church Families

Thanks for the chance to share about the importance of families worshiping together last week at church. I said I would give you the order of worship each week but you can access it yourself at http://www.countrybible.net/ and then open the “resources” folder then click on “Sunday’s order of worship.”  This is posted each week and note the links on the songs so you can get access to the lyrics and music. Also be sure to review the section of Scripture with your children. You are still welcome to check this site each week as I will place articles and sometimes some fun stuff as is below. … Shalom

Have Your Ever Wondered?

Firing Up Again

After putting down the keyboard for a long while, I will fire up this blog site again as I am involved in helping the next generations seek gospel-centered ways to raise families and respond to the culture. I will be posting at least once per week because I am going to include a section for families of Country Bible Church to see what will be preached from the pulpit and songs to be sung to prepare their children for the upcoming Sunday of worship. I will be filling the pulpit this Sunday at Country Bible to speak about the family in worship while Pastor Dean speaks at a conference on Philippians.

Lots has been happening and the world is rapidly changing. We need to prepare our children and ourselves to engage these things and not run Saddle Up!away. Look for ways to do so in the days to come as it is part of my responsibilities at Lincoln Christian to help develop awareness and curriculum.

Psalm 78:5-7 “He (God) established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”