Sunday, October 27, 2013

Self-Injury (cutting) goes mainstream. How you can help

Can you spot the cutters in your youth group? They are there. If you've been in youth ministry for any amount of time I'll bet you've run across more than one person who is engaging in the act of cutting as a way to manage chronic and overwhelming emotional pain.
In 2002 schools in England reported that almost 7% of their students reported an act of deliberate self-harm. The largest group is girls under the age of 18. website reports that their Boys Town National Hotline received 696 calls in 2007 whose primary issue was self-injury, or cutting. In 2011 that number was 2052, nearly triple.

In his book, "Hope and Healing for Kids Who Cut," Marv Penner does a great job of defining the problem, explaining the reason, a suggesting concrete ways to fight this growing danger to our kids.

In 2007, we received 696 contacts from individuals whose primary issue was self-injury.  In 2011, that number nearly trippled to 2,052. - See more at:
In 2007, we received 696 contacts from individuals whose primary issue was self-injury.  In 2011, that number nearly trippled to 2,052. - See more at:
In 2007, we received 696 contacts from individuals whose primary issue was self-injury.  In 2011, that number nearly trippled to 2,052. - See more at:
In 2007, we received 696 contacts from individuals whose primary issue was self-injury.  In 2011, that number nearly trippled to 2,052. - See more at:
Hope and Healing for Kids Who Cut: Learning to Understand and Help Those Who Self-Injure - Unabridged Audiobook [Download]
By Marv Penner / Zondervan/Youth Specialties
The issue of self-injury has become increasingly visible in the world of adolescents and young adults in recent years. The chaos of divorce, poverty, substance abuse, mental illness, and neglect has kids looking for ways to manage chronic and overwhelming emotional pain. In Hope and Healing author Marv Penner will take you into the world of self-injury, defining what it is and what it is not. He provides the tools and wisdom to help understand the pain and confusion a self-injurer experiences and how to walk with them toward the Light to find hope and healing.
I'm usually shocked (and very saddened) when I find out. In a perfect world, one free of the bad events stated above, this would never happen. Frequently my mind goes into the "If only" loop: "If only I had done said this...", "If only her parents had...", "if only she was was not bullied...".  The "If only..." torment is frequently experienced after a tragedy, like a suicide, when it's too late.  The positive news, however, is that  the hurting child is still here, Far from being a wish to end it all this is a call for help.

As a youth worker we are already in a good position to offer help:

We already have an established relationship of trust with this young person. A teen who is constantly being bullied at school or is neglected at home is trying to deal with emotional pain of betrayal, depression, and despair anyway they can. They learn from others that cutting helps, and shockingly, it does for awhile. They may not have anyone in their lives who can offer better ways to handle stress and pain. They might be too ashamed to ask and afraid of the reaction they'll get. Sharing is risky and leaves them vulnerable to even more pain and rejection. If you can be a friend, be a good friend. If you are a leader, lead them into hope and show them grace.

We can apply The Word of Truth to combat the false assumptions they've made about themselves or their situation. At this age they are forming their own identities.  They now have the ability to review their past and present for clues. They may decide that they are stupid because they are doing poorly in school. They might determine that they are unlovable if their parents have been too self-absorbed in their own lives to really care about them. Peers may be telling them they are worthless. They might be bearing the burden of guilt or shame from a past sexual abuse. The most effective method to combat these false assumptions is to help them grasp and believe the truth of their identity in Christ

Make sure they are comfortable and involved in your youth group.  They need to feel wanted  and significant. Kids don't do this automatically. Group building must be an ongoing goal for every activity you do. You need to teach them how to care for each other with words and deeds.

Teach them What the Bible says. Most have not yet read the Bible. Wearing a WWJD bracelet will not help unless they know what Jesus did. Use my lesson plans to help. Don't assume that the kids attending your youth group or Sunday School are saved. Help them make an informed decision, and a lasting commitment to Jesus as their Savior. No more bubble gum. Give them real meat.

There is a lot you can do. There are over thirty five free Bible lesson plans on my website and links to hundreds of other resources. Buy the book suggested above to be informed and get it into the hands of parents.

Help relieve them of guilt and shame they may feel from an abusive or traumatic situation.
Sexual abuse and abandonment can cause a child to conclude that they are defective in some way. They can also feel guilty about their feelings of anger toward people who have hurt them. Children in Christian families can also feel like they've failed to appropriate the victorious Christian life like all the other smiling people in church.

Know when to call in professionals.  Self-Injury is just a symptom of much deeper issues. Feelings of abandonment, defectiveness, low self-esteem, depression, and despair present huge obstacles to be overcome. You can be a significant helper in these areas but professional assistance may be needed to address the serious issues.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A different view of fundraising for Youth Ministry

Budgets for youth ministry are at an all time low. Times are tough (and getting tougher) they say. Giving is down. A financially sound church might yet provide a minuscule salary for a youth pastor but there's little left for anything else.

A church's budget is direct evidence of where their priorities lie. In most cases, the lion's share of the budget is the master pastor's compensation package, expenses related to the building, and adult ministries. Children's ministry gets enough to provide a safe place for kids to be while their parents are attending the service. In short, churches tend to cater to adults.

In a financial climate such as this I'm surprised any youth ministry gets accomplished at all. Even a simple task like replacing the outdated DVD player seems like a major fiscal ordeal. Trying to pull off a mission trip is nearly impossible. Kids are frequently sent peddling goods door to door or collecting discarded items for a yard sale. In the end, while a trip of some sort may be provided, very little in the area of actual Biblical teaching or discipleship has been accomplished.  The enormous effort required for such an event actually cuts into the precious little time you have for real youth ministry.

Mission trips are touted as "life-changing" by the companies that facilitate them. Short of a solid case of PTSD for the leaders, however, I really haven't seen the amount of life-changing spiritual growth I would expect for the huge investment required. Even the annual trek to the Dare-To-Share convention produces only a poor return of spiritual growth for the large amount of resources and effort needed.

This year, before you are startled and disappointed but the lack of funds your ministry will actually receive, take a few moments to reflect on the real purpose of youth ministry.  Why are you really here? For me, the goal is to make sure every child I come into contact with can make an informed decision to accept Jesus Christ as Savior, then to help them grow a strong faith that will withstand life's trials. Group-building is also an important aspect of youth ministry. The kids need to like, trust, and care about each other if any deep sharing is going to happen. In fact, the camaraderie and support of true Christian friends can be the strongest impetus for long-term church attendance and the fellowship needed to support a deep and abiding Christian faith.

Youth ministry must boil down to faith-building and fellowship. Everything else is superfluous.  My experience over the last decade has shown that a consistent time of Bible study, whether it's Sunday morning or during the week, produces the deep, vital, "life-changing" faith-building growth we seek. Here's the best part: It doesn't cost a lot!

Even in the most affluent church in which I served, my budget was only $30.00 per week. Most of that I spent on snacks. Yet I have never, and hopefully never will, do a fundraiser. But, I still managed to pull off what I feel was a successful youth ministry.

Here are some suggestions that might help you do it too:

Adjust your core ideas of youth ministry:
  1. A youth minister's job is not to take full responsibility for the spiritual training of the youngsters in their church. That's the parents' job. You should focus on helping parents disciple their kids. Resist the urge to take this responsibility on yourself. Leave it squarely on the parents' shoulders. You may, however,  augment the parents' discipleship efforts with competent Bible teaching at every opportunity.
  2. Helping parents parent well is often the best thing you can do for kids. If you are younger than most of the kids' parents you can still be effective by employing older volunteers to teach parenting classes.
  3. All of your activities must support your efforts towards Bible teaching and group building. Sometimes I think youth ministers do fun events just to gain the acceptance and adoration of the kids and seem successful in the eyes of the church. These are self-centered attitudes. "Search your feelings, Luke."
  4. Fundraising has no place in youth ministry. Children should never be coerced or expected to be money makers. We occasionally hear of some bright young person who starts their own company and, of course, we'll all have to make money as an adult, but you'll never convince me that fundraising is a proper activity for this age group. If the parents and church want a certain type of youth ministry it's their responsibility to provide the funding.
As a volunteer I have been able to take a different approach to budget issues. Parents and church leaders are grateful for any ministry I'm willing to do. They do not feel entitled to order me to do anything. My time is very limited so I'm forced to keep my ministry goals to just the essentials. My involvement is a pace that is healthy for me and my family.

I usually fund my youth ministry efforts with my own money. If they give me any kind of a budget, it's gravy. I do only what I can with what I have. Teaching and group building have the highest priority. If I do get the gumption to do a retreat, camping trip, or day activity the cost is within the parents ability to pay.

By sticking to the essentials I have been able to give many teenagers a solid Biblical understanding and a long lasting faith. So, bring on your anemic ministry budgets. I'll stick to the tactics I've spelled out in my website and quietly keep pushing the youth ministry cart down the road without doing a fundraiser. Join me as we continue to grow our kids with what the Lord provides.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Laura Story -Blessings

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless night
Are what it takes to know You're near?

What if trials of this life
Are your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We dought your goodness, we dought Your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to beleive

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near?

And what if trials of this life
Are your mercies disguised?

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near?

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can't satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

CD877337: Blessings CD Blessings CD
By Laura Story / INO Records

Laura, with wisdom beyond her years, describes perfectly the poison infecting our churches. Self centered desire for wealth and health have overlaid what should be our deepest desire, to know God more deeply. Clergy are delivering what our"itching ears want to hear" instead of scolding us for shallow faith based only on our experiences and not the promises of God in the Bible. Laura gets it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Unforgettable Christlike Character: The key to successful youth ministry.

Kids, for the most part, won't remember your lessons much. Oh, one might remember something you said around the campfire if it happened to be a pivotal moment in their spiritual lives. One of my kids, now in college, recalled a weekend retreat as the funnest time of her life. Not actually a lesson. Actually a group did remember that a lesson entitled "Hippo-grits" was about hypocrites because I served them grits for a snack. They did not remember what the lesson was about.

What they all remember, however, is me and that I cared about them. In ten years how will your kids look back and remember you? Will your memory bring back warm feeling of acceptance and love or alienation and bitterness? Will they remember youth group as a place of loving support or just another thing they had to do to please someone? Will you be remembered as a person who had an authentic relationship with God or will they realize the person they remembered was just modeling surface Christianity?

How is your heart? Steve Camp has this great song called "Don't tell them Jesus loves them, till you're ready to love them too." Good song. Worth a listen. You can download it through this link.

Don't Tell Them Jesus Loves Them [Music Download]

By Steve Camp / Emi Cmg Distribution Download

Motivation to do youth ministry varies widely. Parents will often times become youth leaders out of necessity. Their kids are in the age group and no one else is stepping up. They marshal their fears and plunge in to do their duty. Their fear becomes evident as they take steps to ensure class discipline and maintain control. They get angry when kids act up. Sometimes they yell at them.

Professional youth ministers, those schooled in the art, may be motivated by nothing more than using youth ministry as a stepping stone to a senior pastor position. They design a program that displays their skill but has minimal personal relationships with the kids.

Some youth pastors who experienced an adolescence filled with aches and pains are determined to save other kids from the same fate. They would have enjoyed having someone care about them during that stage of their lives. However, their ministry might dangerously be more about meeting their own heart's desire for love than actually helping the kids. It's a short step to an improper relationship with a teen.

So what is the proper motivation for a youth leader and how do we know if we have it?

The mature Christian youth leader is deeply satisfied in their relationship with God and has no unconscious demands that the child returns their affections. An effective youth leader looks at a child and sees the enormous potential that child has to affect their relationships with sincere God-centered love. This youth pastor wants nothing more than to help that young person learn to love God and others. This motivation grows out of their own deep personal love for God.

If you are this kind of youth leader I applaud you. You will strive hard to teach your kids about God and the reasons he is worthy of their love. You will model for them a heart that is profoundly touched by the Holy Spirit. Your lessons, though they may not be remembered, will change the core of who they are. They will listen attentively because the want what you naturally display: joy, peace, patience, and love.

Effective youth ministry certainly requires accurate doctrine and sound Biblical knowledge. But it also requires a depth of maturity attained only by those who are honest with themselves. Dr. Larry Crabb, in his book Inside Out, says this requires a deep honest look inside ourselves to reveal what's really going on in our hearts.
60992: Inside OutInside Out

By Dr. Larry Crabb / NAV Press

"Why do things go so wrong when I'm trying so hard to be right?" If you've ever asked yourself this question, Crabb has a few answers. "Far too many Christians do not deal honestly with their lives. The pathway to change is more often discussed and debated than displayed." In his warm, engaging style, Crabb helps you venture inside yourself where Christ is waiting to heal, restore, and fulfill. Real wholeness and real change are possible---if you're willing to start from the inside out.
Besides the Bible, I have benefited more from this book than any other. I highly recommend every Christian who is serious about an authentic faith reads this book. You will be able to model Christlike character that is unforgettable.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


You wouldn't believe what the pastor said in his sermon today. Well, maybe you would. Everyone else seemed to be buying it just fine. I'm starting to wonder if discernment is dead in the church today. Paul foretold of this age in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."

Discernment has been defined by some as "the ability to decide (right or wrong, true or false) concerning a testament or statement." Some have mistakenly thought that discernment is a Spiritual Gift bestowed only on chosen individuals. However, the only place discernment is mentioned in the Bible associated with Spiritual Gifts is 1 Corinthians 12:10. Here it is the "ability to distinguish between spirits (NIV)." Websters dictionary defines discernment as "showing good, or outstanding judgement and understanding."

To me, discernment is far more than an ability. Discernment must be a willingness to look deeply into a subject and make a sound judgement. The question then is, "Do Christians care enough to be willing to become good at discernment?" We see that people can be very enthusiastic about a variety of topics. Fantasy football is a good example. Participants will eagerly study and learn statistics about teams and players to create the best pseudo-football team. From my view, concerning churchgoers, I'm not seeing that kind of enthusiasm for sound doctrine these days.

Paul gives young Timothy an important directive: 2Timothy 4:5 "But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." Are you teaching your kids to be able to discern truth from error, to be good judges, or have you rushed with the lemmings to embrace Rob Bell's heretical teachings. Are you of more noble character, willing to "examine the scriptures" to see (Acts 17:11) if what he's saying is true?

921381: You Mean That Isn"t in the Bible? 10 Popular Beliefs That Simply Aren"t TrueYou Mean That Isn't in the Bible? 10 Popular Beliefs That Simply Aren't True

Believe it or not, the saying "God helps those who help themselves" is not found in the Bible. This and several other popular beliefs that emerged out of Christian culture are examined by David Rich. Looking to the Bible, Rich explores the Scriptural basis for where these ideas began, and leads you to the true source of God's wisdom for your life.

Just as dangerous a course is to try and shield or protect our young ones from the tough questions. They will be confronted by false teachings all of their lives. "Keep your head." Work hard to reach your kids with doctrinal truths and build their faiths to withstand the tricks of the enemy. Middle school age kids are quite ready to tackle the tough stuff of faith.

Parents expect us to cover topics like sex and drugs with their kids. "Enduring hardship" might, however, include a tongue lashing from a parent for discussing death, hell, circumcision, meditation, and other religions with their kids. Teaching your kids to question what they hear can appear as though you are advocating rebellion against their parents and other authority figures. Teach my lesson, "Judging v.s. Judgmental."

409067: Who Are You to Judge? Learning to Distinguish Between Truths, Half-Truths and LiesWho Are You to Judge? Learning to Distinguish Between Truths, Half-Truths and Lies

By Erwin W. Lutzer / Moody Publishers

Making wise judgments in an anything-goes world is the Christian's mandate---and it's not easy! Lutzer chastises the church for its tolerance of secular values and lifestyles and challenges believers with their responsibility to be a force for what's right. Learn how to make godly decisions concerning doctrine, entertainment, miracles, conduct, character, and more.
If you do decide to become a discerning Christian you might bump into Biblical knowledge that actually contradicts something your senior pastor has taught. Will you dare ask him questions about it or will you keep your head down and avoid it? You could be accused of "stirring up dissension." You could loose your job if it's handled poorly. Are you noble enough to defend truth even when it's terribly unpopular? Give it some thought.

To help you teach your kids this essential faith element I have added a new page to Sunday School Lesson Connection website with three free teen Bible lessons covering Discernment, Spotting Counterfeits, and Judging

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Encourge Families and Kids to Hit the PAUSE Button.

Last week I taught a lesson a lesson to help kids when they doubt that God really exists. Unfortunately the guy who had actually expressed these doubts leaned up against the wall and promptly fell asleep. Why? He had competed in a sports event the day before in a neighboring state driving there and back in one day.

Last summer I had one of my volunteers cover a Sunday school for me. He had the kids lie down in the grass, look at the sky and think about how big God was. Most of the class, including the teacher, fell soundly asleep. Everyone actually really enjoyed the class that day.

Quite often the kids who show up for Sunday school, or "Youth Church" as we call it, look totally whipped. There is very little energy to participate in an activity let alone concentrate on the lesson. A large percentage of the kids of the church families are only frequent attendees preferring to sleep in. Some go skiing (can't blame them for that).

Being too busy is not a new issue. Feeling like we actually need to do something about it is. We've covered the subject of "systemic abandonment" before. It's the idea that kids live in a performance-based society. The only way they feel loved is by meeting someone else's expectations; their parents, coaches, teachers, even youth pastors. Kid's are willing to run at this frenetic pace because they believe that their performance is our chief concern and the way they earn love. They also begin to believe this about God. They feel they need to earn God's love and earn salvation by their Christian performance. In our rush to give our kids every opportunity we have left their hearts bereft of a love that sustains. The heartache has given rise to songs like, "Who will Love Me For Me."

Many adults, concerned with the over committed fast paced lives of our kids, quickly suggest that parents par down their kids schedules. Youth pastors will easily encourage parents to ease off on the after school activities. Unfortunately the underlying motive for the youth pastor is to increase attendance to his midweek youth group event.

In fact what is really needed is just plain "down time" with people, like their parents, who love them unconditionally. They don't need to be doing anything.

My son and I had a regular habit of camping on the weekends. There are a lot of things you can do on a camping trip. However my budget didn't allow for much. No ATV's, no dirt bikes, no boats, just resting. I'm sure that if we could have afforded the toys we would have played with the toys but we couldn't. Our camping involved good food, reading by the camp fire, an occasional hike, some fishing, and a lot of talking. It was also understood that Saturday or Sunday morning would include a time for quiet personal reflection, Bible study, and prayer. So, unintentionally on our part (or by divine design on God's part) we built relationships. Deep relationships of love, caring, and mutual respect with each other and with God.

Relationship with God is most important in our home, an attitude that was passed from parents to children. Our kids may not have gotten all the toys or opportunities the kids up the road in Aspen get but they got the "one thing" that made all the difference.

Our daughter was killed in an accident when she was fourteen. On her computer we found over thirty poems she had written to God. She'd spend many evenings in her room reading her Bible. We could hear her singing praise songs through the door. She wasn't an awesome student and didn't participate in many extracurricular activities but she had a faith that was real. We are certain she is in heaven enjoying her creator and we will see her again. We had a solid relationship of which I have no regrets.

At nineteen our son is shooting for a Masters degree. He is an awesome student and developed his own missionary job to inner city kids in Denver. (Ya, we're pretty proud of him) His relationship with God is foundational to who he is.

If, as a parent, your desire is to give your kids the best of everything carefully consider what the best actually is. Most kids do not end up as professional sports players but do carry sports related injuries to body and soul through adulthood. Some do get into excellent schools by merit or talent. The reward might be a higher paying job than I have. But what of their relationships? Have they learned what real love is? Did they get to enjoy you (you are enjoyable by the way)? Did they see you enjoying your relationship with your heavenly father? Will they learn how to love their spouse from your example?

Well, I can see that this note has taken on a definite parental tone. As a youth pastor, you might not even be a parent yet. So what can you, as a youth leader, do to help over-committed teens? Omitting your mid-week meeting might be one thing. Discuss it with the powers-that-be before shutting it down of course. Carefully consider if the benefits of attendance outweighs the negative side effects. Perhaps the time could be better spent for a "family night," a time set aside each week for families to put everything else away and play a game, watch a movie, or simply lay out under the stars. It would be good to get your master Pastor on board with the plan. He can encourage the parents to pursue a family night so the time doesn't just get swallowed into a hectic family schedule.

Take a look at "The Pause" lesson plans (shown below) from Simply Youth Ministry. These are lessons designed to help kids develop a deep relationship with God. There's a sample to download free.

The Pause [Leaders Kit] - Physical

The Pause

Generation Multitask. It's a fitting label for today's over-committed, over-entertained teenager. School, band, sports practice, work, volunteering, and hours of "screen time," all create a tremendous drain on teens' time. Where is the time for cultivating their relationship with Christ? The Pause teaches teenagers to hit pause and spend time growing their relationship with God. In today's fast paced world these are skills your students must have. The Pause, one of the 4-lesson studies in the 360 Discipleship line of curriculum, will teach students how to pray, how to memorize Scripture, and how to study specific passages of the Bible.

Check and see if the parents actually have a daily quiet-time of their own. I've heard it said that you can't lead anyone farther down the road then you've been." How are you doing with your quiet time? Do you have a love relationship with God? It's hard to model what you don't have. It might be time us, as youth leaders, to hit the pause button too.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Violent Video Game: The Downward Sprial

I was not very popular when I took the Halo game out of the youth room the day I started running the youth program at my second church posting. The previous youth pastor, a green 20-something jock, had been playing it with the boys. He would host Halo tournaments and other events featuring the game. He was oblivious to the damage this violent game was inflicting on his youth group. Not only had he alienated all of the girls, one boy was actually seeing a counselor at school because of violent anger related issues. The suggestion that this students issues might be exacerbated by playing violent video games was met by scoffs and excuses.

Dude! You really don't have to look very far on an Internet search to find the headline of ghastly crimes blamed on mimicking video games: In 2004 a British boy murdered a friend with a claw hammer emulating the game "Manhunt". In 2005 a man in Alabama killed two police officers and three other people simulated by his video game "Grand Theft Auto." In September, 2006, a man beat his 17 month old daughter to death after she disrupted his six hour marathon playing of "Ghost Recon." I could go on and on but what's the point.

Holy smokes! Are you not horrified by these headlines? No you're not.

Gamers and developers of video games will pounce all over anyone who makes such allegations claiming that anyone can say anything on the Internet. It's true. I found a story posted June 9, 2004 on the USA Today website by Mike Snyder, saying, the video game, "Full Spectrum Warrior, which grew out of Pandemic Studio's creation of an Army training simulation, is "technically, tactically very real," says retired Army captain James Ytuarte, who served as a consultant on the game." The same system the army uses to desensitize soldiers to killing is being sold as video games.

In his book, "On Killing," (shown below), another soldier, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman "argues that the breakdown of American society, combined with the pervasive violence in the media and interactive video games, is conditioning our children to kill in a manner similar to the army's conditioning of soldiers: "We are reaching that stage of desensitization at which the infliction of pain and suffering has become a source of entertainment: vicarious pleasure rather than revulsion." This was written in 1996 and the downward spiral continues unabated.

330008: On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and SocietyOn Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society

By Dave Grossman / Hachette Book Group, Usa

This was a problem even in Jesus' time. He said, "For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes" (Matthew 13:15).

The Apostle Paul says, "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the
faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron." (1 Timothy 4:1)

Warnings from the distant past. It sounds like Jesus and Paul were aware of someones directed efforts to bring man to an evil end. Someone a lot older than video game makers.

Want to wake up your kids? I spell it out in my teen Bible lesson, "Calloused Hearts."

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

You are training tomorrows church. Re-sensitize them. Awaken their consciences to God and His love. If you must, first convince yourselves, then convince them of what is happening. Do everything you can including standing against violent video games. "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes" (Ephesians 6:11).