steve ball

personal thoughts on family, faith and work

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

i love my ipad, but…

I got my iPad about eighteen months ago for a ‘significant’ birthday. At the time I thought it was an extravagance, but I very quickly (too quickly!?) realised that it was a brilliant piece of kit that I would have to replace straight away if it ever broke. Since then,  my eldest son (14 years old) has got one and Barbara uses a company iPad – which they too love! My youngest (11years) has various electronic gadgets including a 3Ds and an old iPod – all of which can access the internet.

What I find really concerning is the lack of any significant parental controls or web monitoring for my children on their iDevices. It’s not a question of trust, but one of accountability. There is a plethora of software available for the PC or Mac to give real parental control of a child’s Internet use – but nothing (as far as I can see) available for the iPad or iPod.

This is a huge oversight that, in my opinion, does nothing for the credibility of Apple’s social responsibilities. Also, on the iPad, there is no way of disabling the ‘private browsing’ facility. Why ever not!?

I don’t think my family is that unusual from others. With the age of wi-fi and broadband we (and our children) can access the internet from anywhere in the house and be watching anything online whenever we want. We speak to our boys about the potential dangers of the internet and searching seemingly innocent things on YouTube, but if a parent is not given the technical tools to be able to help their child be accountable for their internet use, we are already at a disadvantage and putting preventable temptation in their way.

And it’s not just as simple as saying to your children ‘you can’t use the internet in your bedroom’ these days – they can access from any wi-fi hotspot. Education, accountability and the tools to do the job has to be the way forward.

Our children (and adults) are faced with all sort of temptations and issues these days. Why should safe internet use be one of them when there is the technical ability out there to prevent it?

I would really love to be wrong on this one. If anyone knows of something that will do the job, (without having to jailbreak our iPads) I’d love to hear about it.

Points to ponder:

  • When was the last time you spoke to your children about safer internet use?
  • How do you monitor your children’s online world?
  • How would you feel if your online habits were publicly known, and would that affect how you use the internet?
  • How are you accountable for your your internet use?

is a good welcome enough?

Over the last few weeks I’ve heard lots about how we, as church, should be welcoming to anyone who comes through the church doors on a Sunday morning. All very right and sensible stuff. But… there’s got to be more than just a good welcome – though ensuring visitors and regulars are welcomed in church each week is very important.

Welcoming someone who doesn’t ‘fit in’ to what we think is an appropriate way to behave, dress or talk should be easy to do – after all, if they’ve never set foot inside of a church before, how are they expected to know ‘the rules’? But our prejudices nearly always affect our reaction and interaction with them. It has been said several times (by visitors!) that my church is very welcoming, which I would agree with – certainly I remember feeling very welcomed when I first came.

The church is not here to just welcome people though – it is called to love people.

It is often said about what our approach to people coming into church should be: Bless – Belong – Believe – Behave. Behaving – or somehow ‘fitting in’ is the last part of what can be a long process, which is usually not our responsibility to try and change anyway. If we want a church full of people ‘just like me’, this is possibly an approach to take – but I pray for a church as diverse as the community in which it stands. Which means loving people coming in who don’t behave, dress or talk as we do.

It strikes me that we sometimes approach the four B’s in the opposite way. We will welcome someone if they behave, and once they believe, they will belong to our church and we can bless them. Sad, but probably true for many people in many of our churches.

I would imagine that coming into a church for the first time is a pretty terrifying experience. If we analyse what we do, it’s a totally alien environment to most people! Giving them a great, warm welcome is vital, but I would imagine it would be very hard for a visitor not to be affected by the church showing them love – Gods love.

Points to ponder:

  • How accepting are you of people that are very different from you?
  • When was the last time you had a conversation with someone you didn’t know in church?
  • When was the last time you blessed someone new in the church?

one in a million?

The weekend before Easter we had some time away at Winchelsea Beach. (Mum and dad in-law have a caravan there.) I quite enjoy taking photos, and the pebbles on the beach don’t move much, so I can take my time getting the picture how I want it! I was pleased with the results on the ones included in this post.

It then struck me that every pebble was different. Whether it’s the colour, size, shape, imperfections – each one is unique. The natural elements have shaped and marked the millions of individual pebbles on the beach over years.

A simple game we play when on the beach, is to stack up stones, sit ourselves down, and then try to knock them off using the pebbles around us. The simple things in life can be great fun!

The parallel with us as people is interesting. Here I am, one of around seven billion on this earth – completely unique. I have been shaped by events in my life – some within my control and other completely out of my control. Much of who I am has been influenced by other people – just as the stones we stacked up and knocked down are shaped or marked by other stones.

These thoughts are particularly poignant to me as we have just celebrated Easter. As one person in seven billion, I believe Jesus died for me – personally.  As I remember that mass of pebbles that made up the beach, with no way of even estimating how many there were there, I am in awe of a God that knows each of us individually. Staggering.

So… am I one in a million? No.

More like one on seven billion – and counting!

Points to ponder:

  • What makes you reflects on the hugeness of God?
  • How does being known, as an individual to God in a population of seven billion make you feel?
  • How does the realisation of the sacrifice of Jesus, for us as individuals, change how we live our lives?


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