Yik Yak – What Parents Need to Know

XP1PspM3There is an app that is has been growing in popularity among teens that parents need to be aware of called Yik Yak. In this post I want to share a few things parents need to know about this app.

How Does this App Work
Yik Yak is very much like Twitter but with some unique differences. On Yik Yak everything is anonymous. That is the big catch with this app. Users post what is called a “Yak.” A “Yak” must be 200 characters or shorter. Once a user post a “Yak” it is posted on a live stream. The other big catch with this app is that is location based. So the live stream of “Yaks” is made up of only users within a 10 miles radius of where you are. Users have the ability to reply to “Yaks” as well as “upvote” (like) or “downvote” (dislike) them. The two big things to remember about this app is that everything is anonymous and is location based.

Some Negative Things to Be Aware Of
There are a few negative things about this app parents need to be aware of. First, sexually explicit content is common on this app. For an example, when I downloaded this app and opened it up, three out of the first six “Yaks” on my feed were sexually explicit statements. I know some people will argue that sexually explicit content can be found on any form of social media but apps like this (and others like Snapchat and Whisper) make it easier for teenagers to view and share this type of content. A second thing parents need to be aware of is the cyberbullying risk that comes with this app. Like Ask.fm, since users can post anything as an anonymous user there is a huge opportunity for users to cyberbully other users. This will often happen through users replying to other users “Yaks.” Because of this, many schools, both high school and college, have banned this app. Yik Yak developers do use a technology called geofencing, which allows certain areas like schools to be “fenced” off to avoid cyberbullying. However, this doesn’t always work and is not always used which leads to continued cyberbulling on this app. The last thing I want to make sure parents are aware of with this app is the illusion of location privacy. Even though this app, and many others like it, ensure location privacy there are always ways for people to find out where other users are. This may not be easy to do and the average user will not be able to do it but it can be done. For an example, two teenage girls where arrested when they made threats about a campus shooting on this app. The two girls were tracked down by police and arrested. One article reminds us that “every digital device has an IP address that allows for it to be tracked.”

What Parents Should Do
Once parents are informed about this app and are aware of how it works as well as some of the negatives things that come with it, what should they do next? First and foremost parents must not be afraid to have an open conversation with their teenager about this app. Explain to them how it works if their teenager doesn’t know already (impressive them if they don’t) and talk to them about some of the negative things that come with using this app. Once parents have done this they will need to decide if this is an app they are ok with their teenager using or not. My suggestion for parents is to not let their teenager use this app. There isn’t really any point to it and there is no good way for parents to track what their teenager may be viewing or doing on this app. However, a parent could see what their teenager has posted as a “Yak” or their replies to other “Yaks.”

I’d encourage parents to also check out iparent.tv’s post on this app. They share some good insight on this app that would be worth checking out.

Suggested Bibles as Gifts for Graduating Seniors

bible-stackIt’s that time of year again. Your seniors are graduating and in a few short months they will leave your student ministry to start a new chapter of their life called college. If your like most student pastors during this season, your searching online for that perfect graduation gift to give your seniors. Even though it’s been done since Adam and Eve graduated high school, I think giving your seniors a new Bible is the way to go. But if we want them to appreciate the Bible and actually use it, you need to invest in getting them a good Bible. Let me suggest a few of the Bibles I would consider giving your graduating seniors.

ESV Thinline BiblesIf you have a lot of seniors and a tight budget this may be the Bible to go with. Usually the ESV thinline Bibles are pretty cheap ($20-$30) and are very popular. Their simple Bibles that are easier to carry around or throw into your book bag. You can get this Bible in many different colors, materials, and designs.

ESV Study Bible. This is the Bible of choice if you want to give your students the best! This is what we will be doing for the next few years. The ESV Study Bible is by far the best study Bible out there right now. It’s a pretty large Bible, but is packed with study notes, book introductions, maps, charts, and other resources. This is a Bible your seniors will not only find helpful in college, but for the rest of their life’s. The only bad thing is the price. This Bible is not very cheap, but if you dig around online long enough you cab find a good deal on this Bible.

Apologetics Study Bible (HCSB). I haven’t used this study Bible much myself, but I have heard some great stuff about it. The notes and resources includes within the Bible deal with apologetics and answering common questions in regards to defending Christianity. Since many students head off to secular universities where professors will discredit Christianity, this Bible could be a great tool for them during those college years. Check this Bible out and see if it may be a good fit for your students, especially those headed to secular colleges and universities.

College Devotional Bible (NIV)This is another Bible I have not looked into much yet, but it seems to make a great gift for graduating seniors. One of the most important things a college student can do is get into a regular habit of spending time in God’s Word everyday. This Bible is designed for college students who are busy and need a plan in place to read Scripture. It includes a reading plan that goes through the college year.

These are just a few of the Bible out there that will make great gifts for your graduating seniors. You may notice that many of these Bibles, especially the ESV Study Bible and Apologetics Study Bible, have popular students versions of them. I didn’t share those because I think college aged-students have outgrown the “student Bible” days. Those are great for middle and high school students, but not for college students.

My Thoughts on PBC’s Name Change

Yesterday my school, Piedmont Baptist College, announced that they are changing their name to Piedmont International University. Because I am not on campus this year, because I am doing an internship in Ohio, I got the news through my friends tweet’s on Twitter. When I first saw the first few tweets I wasn’t really sure what to think, but the more I thought about the name change the more I really liked it. I like the name change for two reasons.

First, I am glad “Baptist” is not part of our school’s name anymore. Before anyone who is a Baptist reads this and get mad, let me explain that I do not have anything against Baptists. I grew up in a great Baptist church. I learned to love God and walk with Him in that church. I also got most of my ministry experience in that church and God used that church to call me into full-time ministry. With that being said, I do not hold to “Baptist” very tight. I am not a big fan of denominational titles and groups anyways, but if someone would to ask me if I am a Baptist or not I would say yes because I agree with most of the Baptist distinctions. If someone doesn’t ask me, than I will not even bring “Baptist” into the conversation because I do not see it as a “closed hand issue.” Also, getting “Baptist” out of our schools name can help some of us students who are not pursing a Baptist church for full-time ministry get a job. Since the beginning of summer I have been up North, PA and OH, doing internships to finish my degree. The moment you leave the “Bible belt” not many people have even heard of PBC and then when they hear “Baptist College” you lose a little bit of credibility. I am not saying that it is all about titles or about “looking good,” but it does help some of us who are pursing a ministry job outside the Baptist circle to be from a school that is a university.

Secondly, I am glad we are now a university. Honestly, I cannot understand why people would get mind we are moving to a university. I believe just that change will help our school grow numerically as well as in influence. If I was standing in a room with a university graduate than that university graduate would look more qualified professionally than I would because I came out of a Bible college. Being a university will help us as we because it will show that we are a legitimate school on the professional level. It is sad to say titles matter this much, but let’s be honest, people do look at titles. To help you understand the decision my school made here is a letter from the President:

Dear Friends of Piedmont,

Effective January 1, 2012, Piedmont Baptist College and Graduate School is planning to change its name to Piedmont International University. Acquiring university status is only the latest in Piedmont’s steady progression from our original name of Piedmont Bible Institute. The institute progressed to become a college (Piedmont Bible College for most of our history), and the college progressed to the point of adding a graduate school (eventually being called Piedmont Baptist College and Graduate School). Over the past decade Piedmont has doubled in enrollment, added a nice variety of new graduate and undergraduate degree programs (including a PhD in Bible), launched branch campuses in two other countries (one is still a teaching site), created an online Spanish version of our Master of Arts in Biblical Studies, developed a world class online school, and restructured Piedmont with four distinct academic schools.

1)    School of Bible (with undergrad and grad degrees available)

2)    School of Ministry (with undergrad and grad degrees available)

3)    School of Education (with undergrad and grad degrees available)

4)    School of Arts and Sciences (music and various general education classes)

All of this has propelled Piedmont into the exciting position where we can now obtain university status. The university label should also be less confusing to prospective students from other countries where “college” is synonymous with high school.

Speaking of other countries, Piedmont has historically placed high priority on missions and world evangelism. Scores of our graduates serve our Lord Jesus Christ in gospel ministry on every inhabited continent, and more and more nationals from around the world are enrolling via our world-class online school. Our graduates who desire to serve in Restricted Access Nations (where Christianity is illegal or missionaries are not allowed) and nationals who would enroll from those countries have repeatedly told us that any religious sounding name is detrimental to their efforts or even dangerous. Terms like “Baptist,” “Christian,” or “Biblical” are wonderful to us, but they are not very endearing to an immigration officer in some place like North Korea or Saudi Arabia.

Just today I spoke with the gentleman who gives oversight to our teaching site in Bangladesh. He was elated by the fact that he would no longer have to explain the term “college” to people who think it means high school, and he was very excited about not having to worry so much about having the government coming after him if they found out he was connected to a Baptist/Christian school. Piedmont International University won’t raise the red flags like a religious name might.

Although Piedmont International University does not sound religious, it is very important to our Board, Administration, Faculty, and Staff that everyone knows our passionate desire not to stray from our original mission of quality Bible teaching and effective ministry training. We will continue to require a Bible major for every person seeking a Bachelor’s degree in any discipline.

Piedmont’s theological foundation is more important than ever, and we have every intention of equipping our students to interact with a constantly shifting and pluralistic world by anchoring them with a literal, grammatical, contextual, historical hermeneutic for accurate Bible exegesis resulting in sound theology. In short, we will honor our Biblical heritage and Baptist distinctives while tenaciously contending for the faith.

With some of those ideas in mind, our governing Board of Trustees voted to approve our new name, Piedmont International University.

PIEDMONT – Because of our stellar history and rich heritage
INTERNATIONAL – Because of the all-nations priority of our mission* and vision**
UNIVERSITY – Because it represents more accurately what we are

Finally, please join us in prayer for Piedmont International University.

Because God Alone Matters,
Charles W. Petitt
Piedmont International University

Lessons Learned From a Semester of Good Grades

It’s finally Christmas break. And as I sit here watching Sports Center after sleeping in till noon I’m thinking back over my semester. After spending the summer working as a counselor at Skyview Ranch in Millersburg, Ohio I came back to Piedmont Baptist College for my last year with the focus to do well and make good grades in all my classes. With a renewed focused and much self-discipline thanks to my training at Skyview I did awesome this past semester in my classes. My final grades come out to be three A’s and four B’s! The biggest thing I did this semester that helped me is I got ahead. I knocked out all my collateral reading in the first two months and anything that I could do early I did. That helped me a ton and it showed in the last few weeks of school when everyone was rushing around trying to get their collateral reading and projects in, but I already had them done. With that being said, there are a few lessons I learned from my grades this semester.

My grades are a way to worship God. Throughout the semester I have prayed that my grades would be worship to God. That in itself is enough to push you to do well because you wouldn’t want to worship God by poor grades. I think all of us as believers struggle with letting God be in our every aspect of life. We tend to keep God the center of our devotional time or prayer time, but we struggle to make God the center of things like our job, relationships, and even our grades. This is sad because God wants to be the center of our entire life, that means everything! I am constantly reminded of this verse:

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV) “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

If we want to obey the Word of God, we must come to the truth of this verse. We have to do all things to glorify God and that means even grades. That is a huge lesson I learned this semester, that even in my grades I can worship God!

My grades are a reflection of my spiritual condition. Back in high school, my Bible teacher, Doug Hull, told us a story about a young man who started living for God, but he was a poor student and his grades showed it. Once he started living for God he saw his grades go up and do much better. Since high school that story has stuck with me and I saw it in action this semester in my life. When I look back over my college career, when my spiritual life was struggling my grades where struggling as well, but when I was do good spiritually my grades were good too. It’s an exact mirror of each other, our grades will reflect how we are doing spiritually! For college students this is something we all must learn. I learned this semester that I must make my spiritual life a priority and much come before everything. When I did that and practiced that this semester everything else fell into place and my grades showed it.

My grades determine my future. When I say future I mean academic future. If you know me pretty well you know I am thinking about continuing my education after I finish my undergrad. I am still looking into graduate schools and Seminary, but two are standing out right now which are Baptist Bible College Graduate School and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. Most seminaries and graduate school require you to have a 3.0 GPA coming out if undergraduate just to be accepted into their school. So with that in mind it is important to make good grades in college if you want to continue your education. This is something I want to do so I need to keep doing well in my grades now.

These are just a few lessons I learned this semester and hope they might be an encouragement to you. I say none of this to be prideful, but to give glory to God. If it was not for God’s direction, strength, and power I could not have done this well, but I did and all the credit goes to Him!