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August 24th, 2012

Teenage Twilight Texting

Teenage Twilight Texting

Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do…….. I Chronicles 12:32

Teenagers are digitally connected like no other generation before. Cell phones, iPods, iPads, Xboxes, Facebook, Twitter, Mp3’s, DS4’s etc etc etc. As a father of five I often hear from my “Screenagers” that I am not “up with the times”. Fortunately, God has challenged parents not to be up with the times but rather understand the times.

Like the men of Issachar, God has called this generation of parents to understand the technological age in which we live and respond in a fashion that channels our children’s digital passions in a Godward direction.

Navigating the internet and the multitude of screens that my teens have mastered is a skill that almost seems impossible for this technologically challenged dad. A little reminder for the electronically faint of heart: Be of good courage! Jesus has overcome world. If His Spirit truly indwells us then we have a power and understanding to overcome any device that this culture may throw at your family. Remember, God put you here as parents in this particular time in history for a purpose. He can and will equip you to shepherd your tech savvy teenagers.

Bedtime Perils

I have recently encountered some setbacks in leading my “wireless” family through these perils at bedtime. In my research I have discovered multiple dangers that can arise in this screen focused generation when it comes to sleep and rest. This is the first of a series that will discuss some of the modern technological perils that our young ones face and how to positively influence your children through the media maze.

A reminder about sleep from God’s word: “The fear of the LORD leads to life, So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.” Proverbs 19:23

When used at the right time in the right setting with the right supervision, these gadgets can become tools for mental and spiritual growth. But if we are not diligent as parents, this media culture can become an instrument of evil – especially during the nighttime hours. Just as God’s eyes never close in slumber, we must keep in mind that Satan is just as active in the darkness. The Devil also has his own purposes for this media age: squandering time, displacing affections, and distracting attention away from God who deserves all of our worship.

Twilight Texting

Texting is becoming one of the greatest intrusions of sleep and rest among teenagers. One recent study revealed that teens on average were texting 33 times per night with up to three different people. A 2009 study in Belgium noted that 44% of 16 year olds were loosing sleep over texting issues with 12% being awakened every other night to answer texts.

Unlike the days gone by where the phone was permanently placed on the wall, cell phones, laptops and iPods are portable. Many adolescents bring their gadgets to bed with them setting them up for interrupted sleep.

Remove the temptation to text

The simplest way to deal with the hazards of twilight texting is removing the temptation altogether. Have your kids turn in their various computer gadgets before bedtime in a central location at a specific time. Until adolescents are wise enough to make good decisions about their emotional, physical and spiritual health they need to be directed by their parents.

Educate your adolescent on the perils of bedtime texting

Instruct them on the health hazards of not getting adequate interrupted sleep such as daytime drowsiness, poor daytime functions and mood swings. If these habits persist for long periods of time psychiatric disturbances can surface. The habit of nighttime texting can also lead to a lifetime of poor sleep hygiene. Once these poor sleep habits have been embedded they can persist into the chronic insomnia of adulthood. Encourage your children to establish good sleeping habits early in life that will promote rest and health.

Ever heard of sleep texting? Just like sleep walking, kids are now unconsciously texting during their sleep–unaware of the fact that they were texting during the night. New maladies are surfacing to describe these changes in sleep patterns of screenagers. Ironically these “connected” kids usually fail to understand the connection of their poor sleep habits with drowsiness and diminished daytime function.

Instruct on God’s plans for boundaries and dealing with temptation

This is a great opportunity for believing parents to instruct their children on dealing with peer pressure and learning how to set boundaries in interpersonal relationships.

A lot of texting revolves around being on top of everything that’s happening with their peers. Teens fear the possibility of being left out. Being aware of what’s happening in the group–no matter how trivial it seems to parents–is of paramount importance to teenagers. Think about the pressure to answer texts from the opposite sex–a delayed reply may convey the impression that one texting is not liked. The pressure is real. Parents–step up the challenge and instruct your teens.

Instruct them on God’s plan for sleep and rest

Remind your children of how they were created to turn off their brains and rest. God did not create humans like ducks in which one half of the brain is always on while the other sleeps. God never intended for the brain to multitask during sleep. He physiologically created man to rest for about eight hours in a day. Just as God created your brain to turn off and turn in during rest encourage your children to turn off and turn in their electronic gadgets.

Remind them of how God works for them as they rest. That He is in control of their relationships–especially when they are placed in the proper perspective from a God centered life.

Model this lifestyle as parents

In child rearing, more habits are caught than taught by our children. Kids are smarter than we know. They are watching to see if what we teach is in line with our daily walk. Sound familiar? Turn off the gadgets and tune in to your kids.

As you model and instruct what it means to “fear of the Lord” to the next generation, the One who never slumbers or sleeps will place a hedge around your family. As parents, one of the disciplines we need to pass on to the next generation is that of good sleep habits.

Read more at Sleep: The Great Physician’s Prescription For Rest

– – – written by Charles W. Page, M.D., FACS. Dr. Page, who is a sleep deprived author, surgeon and father of five, enjoys watching sunsets with his family in their Texas sized tree house. You can download a free video clip that explores the spiritual component of sleep and insomnia at http://surrenderedsleep.blogspot.com

August 23rd, 2012

Get Rid Of Your Lustful Eyes

Get Rid Of Your Lustful Eyes

If we are to be holy, we should guard our eyes very carefully.

This is taken from the reflection on Christ’s words from the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:27-28).

John Paul II acknowledged that these are severe words. But he asked, are we to fear the severity of these words, or rather have confidence in their power to save us? (see Theology of the Body, Oct 8, 1980). These words have power to save us because the one who speaks them is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29).

Lust obscures God’s original plan

Most people see in Christ’s words only a condemnation. Do we forget that Christ came into the world not to condemn, but to save? (see Jn 3:17). Christ’s words about lust call us back to the original truth of the body and sexuality. As part of the heritage of original sin, lust obscures in each of us God’s original, beautiful plan for the body and sexual love – but it hasn’t snuffed it out. John Paul II insisted that the heritage of our hearts is deeper than lust and the words of Christ reactivate that deeper heritage giving it real power in our lives (see TOB, Oct 29, 1980).

Imagine the human heart as a deep well. Starting from the top we have to pass through layers of muddy waters. But if we press through, at the bottom of the well we’ll find a spring that, when activated, can gradually fill the well to overflow with pure, living water.

Lustful Look at the Human Body

If we think a “lustful look” is the only way a person can look at the human body, then we subscribe to what John Paul II called “the interpretation of suspicion.” Those who live by suspicion remain so locked in their own lusts that they project the same bondage on to everyone else. They can’t imagine any way to think about the human body and the sexual relationship other than through the prism of lust.

Read Lust is a sin , Body and Satan

When we hold the human heart in a state of irreversible suspicion because of lust, we condemn ourselves to a hopeless, loveless existence. As St. Paul warns us, we must avoid the trap of “holding the form of religion” while “denying the power of it” (2 Tim 3:5). “Redemption is a truth, a reality, in the name of which man must feel called, and called with efficacy” (TOB, Oct 29, 1980). In other words, the death and resurrection of Christ is effective. It can change our lives, our attitudes, our hearts. Yes – Christ’s death and resurrection can change the way we experience sexual desire, away from lust and toward the truth of divine love.

The Interpretation of Suspicion

Much is at stake. As John Paul II stated, “The meaning of life is the antithesis of the interpretation ‘of suspicion.’ This interpretation is very different, it is radically different from what we discover in Christ’s words in the Sermon on the Mount.” Christ’s words about lust “reveal …another vision of man’s possibilities” (Oct 29, 1980). Christ’s words reveal the possibility of loving as God loves – not despite our sexuality but in and through it.

John Paul II observed that this demands “perseverance and consistency” in learning the meaning of our bodies, the meaning of our sexuality. We must learn this not only in the abstract (although this, too, is necessary), but above all in the interior reactions of our own “hearts.” This is a “science,” the Pope said, which can’t really be learned only from books, because it’s a question here of deep knowledge of our interior life.

Deep in the heart we learn to distinguish between what, on the one hand, composes the great riches of sexuality and sexual attraction, and what, on the other hand, bears only the sign of lust. And although these internal movements of the heart can sometimes be confused with one another, we have been called by Christ to acquire a mature and complete evaluation.

August 23rd, 2012

Rolling Away The Stone For A New Life

Rolling Away The Stone For A New Life

Death is a matter of three days for those who are in Jesus.

Suddenly there was a violent earth quake, an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled the stone away and sat on it” (Mt.28:2).

The Energy of Resurrection

Resurrection is the blessed reminder that, even when things seem hopeless, when all appears to be lost, there is still hope. Resurrection is the energy of the holy, as it is nurtured in human experience. This energy cannot be confined to a tomb or narrated in a single story, but is a lived experience.

The energy of resurrection is like a sacred earthquake that shakes the foundations of doubt and leads to faith in the risen Lord. It bursts forth in our lives when ever stones of fear and doubt are rolled away. New life can emerge with resurrection energy, if we roll away stones that would imprison our hope, faith and love. This is the foundation of our faith: “The Lord is risen indeed!”

In life we undergo innumerable little deaths: losing our reputation and expectation, losing dear and near ones, losing our having and being, collapsing our plans and projects, sickness and loneliness etc.; but we are called to rise from these little deaths. God calls us to resurrection each and every day, with new strength and vigor. Resurrection is a reality that cannot be taught, but is a unique and personal experience. It is possible only through an act of total surrender in love, faith and hope. Let’s make a total surrender to Jesus and experience resurrection from all kinds of deaths and imprisonment.

“Very early on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome brought spices to anoint Jesus. They had been saying to one another, who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”(Mt.28:1-2). The stone was too big for women to roll away, but they had trusted the words of Abraham – the Father of faith, who said, “God himself will provide”. Having belonged to the weaker sections of the society, they had arrived at the tomb without men, which showed their trust in God’s assistance and providence in their genuine need.

Who will roll away the stone for us?

God who knows their heaviness of hearts because of the cruel death of their beloved, heard their silent prayer and sent down an angel to roll away the stone. It is fitting to note that the angel came down from heaven rolled away the stone and sat on it. The angel sitting on the stone means two things: primarily, that heaven (God) is involved in the matter and is worthy to be believed, secondly, Christ’s triumph over death, that he conquered death for ever, he could no longer remain in the tomb and now reigns as the living God.

Who will roll away the stone for us? God himself sends angels for us time to time to roll away the stones which stand like mountains before us. The stones appear in many forms in our lives. The struggles of life, sickness, burden of sins, loneliness, poverty, failures, injustice and having deprived of rights etc. At times they appear in our lives as huge stones too heavy to roll away. If we take a flash look at our past we can know the times and occasions when God sent down angels to roll back the stones stood like mountains impossible to move by ourselves. While the angels were disguised and appeared in human form, we might have failed to recognize them as angels sent by God.

Who will roll away the stone for us? Our God is a living God who hears the cry of His children and sends angels to rescue us, as He sent an angel along with Jacob when he was in danger. In gratitude for God’s generosity in sending angels, we need to help him in turn in finding angels to send for our brothers and sisters who cry out to him for help to roll away the stones by which they are enslaved in.

When the stones are rolled away a new life is gained and we become resurrected people and begin to sing Halleluia. May the celebration of Easter enable us to live as resurrected people and roll away the stones from other’s lives which have entombed them.

– – – written by Sr.Mercy Pottokaran OSB, Bhopal

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