Why I Won’t Be Watching the Superbowl

By | life | No Comments

triplex footballThe Super Bowl is the pinnacle of American entertainment.  And you might not know it, but the SuperBowl could be the largest event responsible for attracting many—if not the most—cases of sex trafficking into its host area.   When you have a giant influx of people looking for entertainment and pleasure, and those desires expand to people wanting to pay for illicit sex, then that demand will be met with supply.  And the supply is literally young people, mostly girls who are trapped and rented out to man after man, night after night.  This is the new pinnacle for entertainment in our country, but it’s just not as public and about a million times more disturbing.

The act of paying for illicit sex with enslaved young prostitutes is growing at an alarming rate.  Sex trafficking is a problem all over our country, and in all of our states.  There are literally young people, mostly girls who are manipulated, coerced and beaten into slaves for sex for paying customers.  It is literally like the movie “Taken” but instead of being in some far off country, it is literally in our hometowns.

This cannot and should not stay a secret!

Under two weeks ago, I had the idea late one night as I was feeling burdened by all of this of starting a movement to spread awareness about sex trafficking.  Funny enough, I actually bought the domain dontwatchthebowl.com on a whim.  The next day I dropped the idea because it actually made me nervous.  Ask people to not watch the bowl?!  That is crazy.  But a few days later I found myself at the Greater Dallas Movement Day and was given the chance through a crazy set of circumstances to pitch this idea to a room full of sex trafficking advocates.  They loved it and from then on I have been on a whirlwind journey with God and a few friends to start this movement.  We are asking everyone we know to not watch the big game to spread awareness of sex trafficking, both around the event and 365 days a year.

Let me be clear.  I don’t think the Super Bowl is evil.  I don’t think sports are evil.  But this is an incredible way to get people’s attention about sex trafficking and the amount that is happening around events like the Super Bowl and during the entire year.  When people ask me why I am not watching the Big Game, I have the perfect chance to tell them about how large sporting events attract sex trafficking and how sex trafficking is happening all around our country.  It is in our states, our cities and our neighborhoods.

So I am joining the #DWTBMovement.  The movement that started as a crazy idea about 10 days ago.  I won’t be watching.  I will find other things to do.  I might even host a “Don’t Watch the Bowl Party”, so I have a reason to talk with friends about this issue.

If you want to join the movement or learn more about this movement I started, you can find out more here:

dontwatchthebowl.com

Consider giving up some comfort and entertainment to spread a wildfire of awareness to spur on action against this terrible crime, so that no human being is traded for sex slavery again!

I Love My Cell Phone & Hate Myself

By | gadgets, life | No Comments

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It’s super trendy to bash cell phones right now. It won’t take you long to google cell phone bashing and find lots of cool blog post author’s writing about how they are getting a divorce this year with their cell phone or how your cell phone is ruining your life. There are even a couple of really cool videos depicting people trying to live “real” lives but everyone else is just distracted by their phone. People are saying over and over how cell phones are a big problem.

I disagree. I actually love my phone and I hate myself.  Here are 4 reasons why.

1. Your cell phone is not the problem. You are the problem. Mankind is the problem. Romans 3:23 says that for all have fallen short of God’s glory. All men have sinned. It doesn’t say that all objects fall short and all objects sin. The problem is NOT the object. Objects have ZERO control over anyone. It is the human behind the object. Why do we insist on blaming objects that we created? I have heard this over and over with Facebook, twitter, the internet and now it is happening with phones. I am sure the same thing happened when we invented the TV. Or telephones. The objects have never been the problem. The people have always been the problem. You allow your phone to distract you. Your cell phone doesn’t control your life. You control your life.  So what I am saying is I hate my flesh.  My flesh is the problem.  I can’t hate my phone.  It is ME behind the phone that it is the problem.

Action: Stop blaming an object for your problems. You are the one addicted to whatever it is at that time. How can you change you?  How can you stop hating the external problem and start hating the real problem?

2. Discipline, not device blaming. You need discipline. You’re telling me your phone is the only distraction? Cell phones are now the “big problem”. I can’t believe it is actually trendy to bash cell phones. Well, yes I can. But funny enough, Americans spend their time doing far more things that are a problem than being on their cell phones. How much time do we spend watching TV, movies, sports, gossiping, shopping or eating? And who is in control of those things? You. Do pro football teams force you to watch them and root for them and live and die by their game outcomes? No. You do. Only you. There are plenty of distractions and problems out there. You could throw your cell phone out right now and have a new “distraction” in your life in less than 10 minutes. The issue is not the device. It is your lack of discipline.  Again, I hate that I have a lack of discipline.  That needs to change.

Action: What are ALL the things in your life that you have a problem with? Bring some perspective back to this discussion and talk about everything that we struggle with in life, not just blame all our cultural problems on a device. Start developing discipline, rather than device blaming.

3. Be grateful for your cell phone. This is the one that blows my mind. You are telling me that people in society are not thankful for the invention and the ability to have a cell phone or smart device because of what it is doing? That is like saying you hate that we created airplanes because they can crash! We need airplanes. They are useful! They are fun! But they have dangers. We have to be careful with them. We need not get rid of them when people use them wrong. The same goes for your phone. I am INSANELY grateful for my phone. When I recently had a long trip to Argentina, I was able to talk to my wife and children. That is incredible. (Consequently, the only reason I was able to visit Argentina was because of airplanes!) I am able to keep up with friends, do work and learn great stuff because of my phone. But like EVERYTHING in life, it needs its place and to be treated carefully. It might crash, but that doesn’t mean you toss it.

Action: Ask yourself if you are taking extreme attitudes here with your phone. Are you avoiding self discipline or the tension of living with something you need to maintain constantly? Why not be grateful for the good that it brings. You can be thankful for something and also careful with it.

4. Perfection is not possible! Lets face it. Cell phones are not going away. Just like airplanes aren’t going away. We need to figure out how to live with these INCREDIBLE inventions with wisdom and discernment. Why do we think that we are going to reach some perfect pinnacle of juggling the things in our life? You will ALWAYS struggle with how much time you are spending on any number of things. That is why you need Jesus! That is why you need the Bible! You need help. You need the Holy Spirit. We are sinful people living in a cursed world. Why would we expect anything different? That is why I “hate” this body of mine.  It is in constant rebellion.  And with that, we will continue to invent crazy awesome things and struggle with using them in very bad ways. Does that mean that those things are bad? Probably not. The person behind the thing is who is bad.

Action:  Have you been trying to reach unrealistic expectations in your life with how you live?  In what ways are you trying to muscle up change instead of allowing God to change you.  Maybe you need to be patient with yourself.  God is sure patent with you!

I agree that cell phones need a place. But we need to be slow to cast cell phones into the fire here and call it the problem. Don’t side step responsibility. The problem is people. The problem is you. The problem is me. The problem is not external.  It is internal.  With God’s help, you can find discernment and discipline to put your phone away when needed and to use and enjoy it when needed as well. Don’t jump on the cell phone bashing bandwagon which is really just an excuse to blame something else. It is trendy nonsense and frankly outrageously hypocritical. Be careful what you blame for your own problem of sin.  Hate your own sin, not an external object that you, in fact, control.

Your “Obedience” Might be a Lie

By | bible, life | 5 Comments

“It’s my obedience to God.”

I hear this often in my ministry with young adults as a way to justify decisions and actions and feel it is time to address it. My desire is not to offend, but to enlighten from a Biblical standpoint. Here are 6 things to consider.

1. You are not the center of the cosmos. A lot of young and passionate Christians in their desire to serve God think that he is constantly wanting to use them for great things. Yes that is true but God’s definition of ‘great’ and ours differs quite a bit. People who struggle with this walk into a mall and think “who am I supposed to talk to or encourage?” Without realizing it, you have become the center. You have pressured yourself to thinking that everything depends on you. What if God has different plans for you? What if you play a minor and not a major role? We have taken Jeremiah 29:11 to an unhealthy and narcissistic level and think that we will all have incredible big and full lives on earth. That is simply not true. You can sure pursue that, but don’t expect it. Don’t forget great men like Uriah who in 2 Samuel 11 simply carried a letter to inform his commander to put him in the front lines to meet his death. And just like that, he was gone.

Action: Relax. You are not the center of God’s plan. You never will be. James 4:14 – You are a vapor. Quit stressing out about it.

2. Don’t think so highly of yourself. Most young adults tell me that if they just “knew God’s will” they would do it. I think we flatter ourselves a little to much here. Did the Israelites obey God when he said not to take up idols and they shaped a golden calf? Or did they obey when God said not too be like the Canaanites when they entered the promised land? Did Moses obey God when God asked him to not strike the rock? Did Jonah obey God when God asked him to go to Nineveh? These are HEROES of the Bible who struggled with practically obeying God in certain situations. I think we flatter ourselves a little too much here. Are you REALLY wanting to obey God or just wanting to feel good about yourself and think that you would if he told you what to do?

Action: Don’t flatter yourself. Live with humility. God might ask you to do something and you might say no. Gasp.

3. Be honest. You just want to feel good about yourself. Don’t take this the wrong way and get mad. Let’s be honest with each other. Who doesn’t want to feel good about themselves? Saying that you are being obedient to God is your spiritual way of justifying actions that you really wanted to take anyhow.  Be very careful about slapping the I’m being ‘obedient’ onto decisions just so you can sleep at night.

Action: Ask yourself, am I just trying to feel better about this decision or is this genuine obedience? If it is not obedience, then don’t say that it is!

4. When did it become wrong to pursue what you want to do? Young christians act as though they are not allowed to have a say, a desire or responsibility in life, yet the Bible constantly speaks otherwise. This reminds me of my children. Think about this. Do I want my daughters to sit around all day and night and wait for me to tell them what to do? No. I want them to live and make decisions! I want them to stumble and remember that they need me. I want them to learn and to grow. I want them to ask me for things! We need to be connected with God and we can because of the Holy Spirit, but where did it become wrong to pursue things you want to pursue?! God is our good father! Jesus tells a parable of talents in Matthew 25. Basically, the ones who do something with what he gave him he praised. But who does the man get mad at? The one who did nothing! Why are you so afraid of doing something? Do you not think that God is bigger than your agenda? Consider Paul in Acts 16 where he wants to go into Bithynia. In verse 7 it says the spirit of Jesus would not let them go. Paul clearly wanted to go and God clearly didn’t let him. Do you not think God will allow something that he has not ordained? Trust me. He will stop you if he needs to.

Action: Accept that God is your Father, not your puppet master. He could be that but He is to good and to powerful not to be. Why do you think it is wrong to pursue what you want in life if it is good and moral? Do you really trust God to be at work in your life through your ambitions and desires?

5. Quit pushing responsibility onto God. Let’s face it. You are scared to death that this decision is going to wreck your life or be less than “God’s best.” Let me encourage you here. You don’t know what God’s best is. And if you did, you wouldn’t like it. God’s best is sending his one and only son to die for you. God’s best is allowing the world to live in agony and under a curse while he redeems humanity. Be very careful when claiming “God’s best”. As far as decisions go, chances are you are not deciding between a good teaching job and being a meth cooker like Walter White. If that was the case, the decision in the matter is pretty clear. Don’t cook and deal drugs. But if you have two really good and moral options, what is so wrong with you choosing one of them? Stop thinking that one road leads to life and one to death. Either road will lead to blessings and curses. If you have salvation, you are already on the right road! The truth is you are scared to death of making the ‘wrong’ decision. Why is that? Well you don’t want things to go less than perfect. But the truth is that no matter what you do, it will be less than perfect. But God can and will use it to grow you up and work it out according to his plan.

Action: Live your life. Quit saying false things to “seem” more Christian. Accept responsibility. Realize that there is nothing wrong with you wanting certain things. Just remember to hold them loosely if God changes them or takes them away.

6. It is less about where you go than how you go. You need faith! Hebrews 11:6 says it is impossible to please God without faith. Why would faith be so necessary if God was going to give you every practical detail. God was silent with his people for 400 years! Make a decision. Step out in faith. And if you want details, the Bible is very clear about how to live your life in the general ways. I can’t tell you how many young adults I hear say that they are being obedient to go serve in Africa but don’t love their roommate unconditionally. This is completely backwards. God is concerned with your heart. If you can’t obey the life rules of God laid out in the Bible (loving, honesty, giving, patience, etc.) there is no way you are obeying God’s calling somewhere to work, live or with who to marry. What God is most conceded with is how will you work, how you will live, and how you will treat the person you choose to marry. Those are the areas of obedience that need to be proclaimed!

Action: From now on, be careful when you say you are being obedient to things not listed in the Bible. In claiming to be obedient, you may in fact be rebelling more than you realize.

Take comfort in the fact that God has allowed you so much freedom to make choices and to pursue your life in him.

Making Adult Decisions Your Parents Don’t Like (Part 2)

By | life, parenting | No Comments

I have been talking to young adults about making adult decisions their parents don’t like.  In part 1 of this post, I talked about what adulthood is and the concept of “preparing the child for the path” and asked young adult readers to consider whether they have been prepared for it or not.  Here are 3 more points to consider in part 2.

3. Your financial status. 

This is the primary way that parents have neglected to prepare their children for the path. Credit cards are a major problem for young people. Children and teens need to be ready to deal with money and must be trained well how to use it, not trained to swipe a card without any clue on how commerce works. You need to be realistic about your financial status. If you don’t know what financial status means, then you are already in critical condition. Basically, if you don’t have any money of your own, then you can’t pay for all of the things you need and want. Which means you can’t do whatever you want. This is a FACT. Take some time to write down everything that you need money for and find out who is currently paying for all of these things. This might blow your mind.  And make you very nervous.  But do it anyway!  Here are the basics:

  • Food
  • Cell Phone Bill
  • Rent and Bills (water, internet, electricity)
  • Car (Or Car Payment)
  • Gas for your car
  • Insurance for your car
  • Health insurance for yourself
  • School or Debt from School

Yikes! Some of you are not paying most of these or any of these. And these are the BASICS.  If this is true, you need to figure out how you will do it asap. This also means that you have allowed yourself to step into adulthood on your parents dime, which means you are allowing them to have a huge say in your life’s decisions whether you like it or not. If your parents are paying for most of the things in your life and you are over 18, they have moved into the role of a type of employer.  They pay  you.  It would then make sense that they want you to do the things they want you to do. Think about that for a second. If you want to continue taking their money, then you should probably quit arguing with them about where you want to spend your summer. Would you argue with your employer about where you want to spend your summer? I didn’t think so.

If you are over 18 and in this situation, and you want more autonomy (freedom to make your own decisions), I advise that you get a plan in place to pay your own way asap. But you must realize that if your plan involves your parents paying for things that you need and want, then you might not be able to do whatever you want with your next summer. In fact, this might mean that you spend your summer working to make more money somewhere else!

Some of your parents simply want to help with money after you are 18. If your parents want to give you money to help you out, that is great, but that doesn’t mean it can be used as a manipulator or a control tactic. Either way, respect your parents for how much they have paid, or are still paying. Don’t pop off to them in ignorance of what they have done for you. Also, showing them your awareness of finances and a desire to take them on yourself goes a long way.

4. Honoring vs. Convincing

Some parents just won’t understand why you want to do certain things. Some don’t share the same belief system. You may be a Christian and they may be Muslim. Or vice a versa. I have seen over the years that young adults don’t like it when their parents don’t agree with them. When young adults want to do something, and their parents don’t agree with that decision, young adults (especially those who are Christians) think that they are dishonoring their parents.  I have even seen this happen when the young adult is making a right decision.

It is important to remember that there will always be people who disagree.  Sometimes they are friends.   Sometimes they are parents or other family members.  It reminds me of 1 Samuel when David wants to fight Goliath, but his eldest brother Eliab calls out David for wanting to fight Goliath and flat out thinks he shouldn’t do it. What if Eliab had been right? Did that scare David enough to keep him from going to fight Goliath? No. Did David need to convince his oldest brother to agree? No. He went anyway. He believed that what he was doing was right and he did it.   Paul did the same thing in Acts when he went to Jerusalem, even though trusted advisors said that he should not go.

Honoring someone does not mean you do what they want or even that they understand. Especially when you reach adulthood, you do not need to justify what you are doing to the people in your life in order to honor them. Yes, even the influential ones. It is great to have people you look up to agree with you, but you don’t need to win them over in order to give them honor.

Here is an example conversation:  (It will be short and direct to get the point across)

You: “Mom and dad, I really want to work at camp next summer.”

Mom and Dad: “We think that is a foolish decision, and we do not support that.”

You: “Why? This is a good thing! An internship can wait!”

Mom and Dad: “What about your future? What about the internship that you need to get a real job?”

You: “Who cares about the internship!  Listen!  You don’t understand.”  Ok stop. There you go. Convincing. Trying to win the argument. How about this…

You: “Mom, dad, I am sorry you feel that way, thank you for all you have given me up until now. I wish you could see it from my perspective, but this is what I have decided to do. If you want to stop supporting me financially, I understand. I am doing the best I can to figure out all that I need to pay for and earn in order to do so. I will continue to love and respect you but can’t force you to agree with me. As a legal adult now, I want to try to navigate life on my own and make my own decisions. I realize that I must face the consequences of my actions and that this is my responsibility. I am prepared to face the blessings and the curses that come from learning as I go. I still want to be able to talk to you and listen as best as I can.  But that still might mean I make decisions that you don’t agree with.”

That is being an adult. That is honoring your parents. Disagreement does not equal dishonor.  It is HOW you disagree that will determine your level of honor. And honestly, the best thing you can do to honor your parents as an adult is to be an adult.  You do not need to argue or prove that you are right.  You should be respectful and also don’t be afraid to listen to them.  This bring me to the last point.

5. Advice vs. Control

Be careful with wanting to make your own decisions. That means that YOU are now responsible for the consequences of them, both good and bad. But this is the great part of adulthood! Learning and growing! So you should seek advice! Making your own decisions doesn’t mean you go around telling everyone what you are going to do. You should seek advice but be careful of parents or influencers in your life who want to control you.  You need to start making your own decisions and you need to fail and succeed because of the decisions YOU MADE. Don’t put this on others. And don’t put it on God. (I’ll write about that later.) Responsibility is a great thing! Be prepared to fail. It is ok to fail. No-one can go through life without failing. But the chances are that you will succeed too! Seek advice, and be careful to not always assume that advice from your parents is control. It might just be good advice. Chill out! They might just surprise you and want to help you!  Hear them out.  Be slow to speak, not argue.  Ask them questions that focus less on what you should do but how they feel.  What are they scared of?  What have they been through that they don’t want you to go through?  You still might need to make a decision they don’t agree with and that is ok.  At least you will have shown honor and respect by listening, asking questions and being responsible.

Conclusion

It is hard when your parents don’t agree with you. But it is a fact of life. And just because your parents don’t agree with you doesn’t mean that you are on the wrong path. Be confident in who you are becoming and the decisions you are making!  A friend shared on my last post that it is important to pursue God’s UNIQUE plan for your life.  Not someone else’s.  Not your friend’s.  Not your parent’s.

I couldn’t agree more.

 

Making Adult Decisions Your Parents Don’t Like (Part 1)

By | life, parenting | 8 Comments

“How can I make a decision that my parents don’t agree with?”

Because I employ a lot of summer college students, I am asked this question a lot. Students are choosing between hanging out at home, internships, school, traveling and of course working at summer camp among many other opportunities. And because of the climate of our culture, I think that many parents and therefor their young adult kids are extremely scared about the future which causes them to put an enormous amount of pressure on their kids to succeed according to U.S. standards. When I say U.S. standards, I mean get out of college as soon as you can, take summer school to hurry it up, get as many internships as you can and get a full time job to take care of yourself. This seems to be the track that most the parents of my staff are bought into from observing for 10 years. (If you are a parent or have parents who are not this way, I would love to hear about that!)

This is Part 1 of a 2 Part post and I realize I am taking a big risk by writing about this. It is a hot button for many. Where I see this issue come up the most is with my college staff choosing between working the summer at camp or doing school/hanging at home/internship/”big boy” job. I also see this with them choosing between mission trips in January or working/internship.

In most of the situations I encounter with my staff, their parents are putting pressure on them to do a certain set of “requirements” (internship/school/work) in order to get to that “big kid” job one day that society values so much. Their parents have also paid for a significant portion of their college and living needs and are even paying off their loans for them. Keep this in mind while reading.

The problem comes into the family when the young adult wants to spend their summer on camp/serving God/having fun/mission trips, rather than contribute to what the parents feel is best for them and their future. What makes it more complicated is that these God-fearing young adults hate the fact that their parents don’t agree with their decision, they want the approval of their parents and I think that they don’t want to “dishonor” them.

So they are in a tough spot. “What do I do?” “Do I go against my parents?” “Do I do what they want?” “What if they are right?” “What do I do?!”

Here are the first two of five things to consider that I think will help.

1. What is your age? Are you an adult?
The first thing you need to deal with is your age. Our culture continues to allow (on a whole) young people to stay young for far too long. Dr. Tim Elmore in his book, Generation iY, says that “Some demographers suggest that adolescence has extended into the thirties. In 2002, the National Academy of Science redefined adolescence as the period extending from the onset of puberty to around thirty years old.”

A recent study in the UK showed that the average age of children still living at home is 27. What?!

According to wikipedia, (I know it’s not that reliable, but good for this purpose) adulthood or the “age of majority” is the “moment when minors cease to legally be considered children and assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of their parents or guardian over and for them.” In most countries in the world, the age of majority is 18. The highest I could find is 21. So many of the young adults I talk with are right there in that age group. And if you live in the US, the age is 18 for pretty much everything except alcohol consumption. By 18, you have terminated the legal control of your parents over you. Terminated.

Parents, (in the most sincere and gentle way I can say this), it is time to let go. Sorry. You had the chance and you either used it well or you didn’t. Either way, it is over. It is time to finish the chapter and go on to the next. If you are a Christian, then it is time to truly trust God with your child. And believe me, I do not write this in ignorance. I know that I will have to do this one day with my children. It is painful, but it is life. Likewise, young adults, it is time to go. It is time to be on your own. It is time to GROW UP and deal with it. The pressure is truly on. And that is a good thing. I diamond doesn’t become a diamond until it is under SERIOUS PRESSURE. Literally.

2. Prepare the Child for the Path
Dr. Elmore talks about how many parents in our society have attempted to “prepare the path for the child” rather than “prepare the child for the path.” Sadly, many of the young adults I interact with seem to have had the path prepared for them. And so the age of 18-24 is tumultuous because young adults feel trapped and controlled by their parents, yet have had many benefits afforded to them and they don’t even know it! And the parents feel as though the only way for the child to succeed is to continue to control them and provide for them. This is the definition of when helping hurts. A person cannot learn to fish OR BE MOTIVATED to fish if you keep fishing for them.

Have you been prepared for the path? Or has the path been prepared for you? This is a vital question that you need to answer. It will help you get your footing and a grasp on where you are starting from. It will help you know what you need to work on as you head into your future. If you were prepared, you have a good start, but have more to go. If you were not prepared, then you have some new realities to face up to. Either way, you need to start dealing with this now.

 

In Part 2, I will talk about FinancesHonoring vs. Convincing and how to differentiate between Advice and Control.

In the meantime, if you have questions or comments, I would love hear them!