Tag Archives: my story

disturbing stats about porn

tim chester has a post today talking about his upcoming book, captured by a better vision.  in this post time lists a couple statistics that really struck me:

  • The average age of first exposure to pornography is 11 years old and 80% of 15-17 year olds have had multiple hard-cor e exposure
  • The 35-49 age group is the largest consumer of internet pornography

i have to believe that these two stats are related.  the below demographic should be fathers to the above demographic and are introducing their sons (and daughters) to pornography passively by either having it on their computers, or not talking to them about the dangers of porn, mainly because they are in the grips of it themselves.

i fall into the 35-49 age group and have a history of struggling with pornography.  i also have two young boys, and while i hope that they never see porn, knowing how it permeates our society, know that the likelihood of that is slim.  my prayer is that they do not become addicted to it as i did.  i have three ways i am trying to accomplish this for them:

  1. maintaining my personal freedom in Christ from porn
  2. share my struggles with them about it and talk openly about its destructive powers
  3. pray like their lives depend on it (because to a certain extent, they do).

what are you doing to keep yourself and your kids porn-free?

a couple links that are well worth the read regarding this:

God is kicking my butt

when we first walked in the smell of animal excrement, mold and filth rushed on us.  every open space had trash in it.  one room was the bird room – a room that served instead of a cage – birds roamed free, never cleaned and food flung into the room every now and again.  dead rodents were scattered and found in any crevice and in the furniture, and were only dead because an exterminator came in a few days before we did.  50 years of memories, clutter, neglect and animals of all sorts had turned this house into a garbage heap.

dementia settled in the last few years of her long life, but the paranoia had been resident for decades.  she would not let anyone in the house.  she lived with her special-needs daughter-in-law, carmen, who was 20 years younger than her.  when she died a few months ago at 98, other family were brought in to care for carmen.  they also determined to clean out, fix, and attempt to sell the house.

this is where our small group came into the story.  we had heard of this need through thecommon.org, which is a site that people can post up things they need assistance with and such.  another member of our group had seen this and thought it would be a good thing for our group to help out with.  

i’ll be honest, i did not want to do it.  we were told about the conditions at our wednesday night small group gathering and this sounded like something messier than i wanted to be a part of.  when kate and i walked in and were physically overcome with the stench and horrific conditions, we wondered aloud to one another if we would be able to stand working in these conditions for very long.  we spent the morning filling a dumpster, bringing down trash and salvageable things from the two floors upstairs and cleaning up poop, broken glass, and rodent carcasses.

there was something that struck me more than a house in this condition only a 5 minute drive from my door; more than the fact that the next-door neighbor was a church with a brand-new church building that had done nothing; more than being thankful for what God has blessed me with; even more than horror at 2 people living in those conditions for that long.  

what struck me the most was my own selfishness.

i prefer to spend my time fixing my stuff, playing with my kids, doing what makes me happy.  i am very concerned with my needs, my wants, my little world.  the fact that i didn’t want to spend a few hours helping out people who clearly needed it put an exclamation point on this for me.  luckily, God did not let me weasel out of that day.  he put me there and exposed my heart to me – and i did not like what i saw.

the last couple weeks God has been really kicking my butt all over the place.  from listening to messages by one of my favorite authors, to what my own pastor is talking about, to reading crazy love by francis chan.  God is trying to slap me across the face and wake me up from my stupor.  in crazy love, chan says this: “the thought of a person calling himself a ‘christian’ without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd.”  i think for too long now, i have subscribed to the comparison game of christianity – i look better than some people on the outside, and i must be doing alright.

God calls us to leave our selfish desires and follow him into the sewers of the world, bringing light.  i learned this weekend that i have been busy trying to make my light look good on the outside and not using it for what it was intended – going to dark places.

Jesus not only spent time in messy places during his ministry, he calls us to do the same.  in mattew 28, Jesus gathered up the disciples and has some final words for them.  he says, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  therefore…” i will show my glory to the entire world and all will see that I am the Lord.

we all know that is not how it goes.  but doesn’t that make more sense?  Jesus conquers death, has all authority over heaven and earth, and he entrusts the job of showing his glory to the world to us?  doesn’t seem like the best plan to me.  but then, he didn’t ask for my feedback.

God has a heart for all people, and he is calling us to go to them and show them his glory.  we are God’s first and only plan.  here is a short passage from servolution by dino rizzo:

“it’s time for you to pick up your towel and join the servolution.  there are no excuses worth someone else’s eternal life.  with God’s help, you can lead a servolution that can revolutionize your city.  the troops are followers of Christ, the companies of soldiers are churches, and the weapons are towels for service.  once you have experienced the sense of purpose that comes from serving others with your time, resources, and every bit of energy you possess, you’ll find yourself wanting to serve more and more.  and so will your entire team.  through our lives, through our families, and through our churches, God is about to touch the lives of millions of others in ways we never dreamed possible.  we can’t let them get away.”

keep the kids in the backseat

jonkate8_s12my wife has long enjoyed watching the tlc program jon and kate plus eight.  it follows a couple who had twins and then 2 or 3 years later had sextuplets.  as you have probably heard, both jon and kate have been accused of having affairs.  the other night, while i kept an eye online as the cubs lost their 8th game in a row, my wife and i watched the season premier of the show, which filmed the aftermath of the allegations, as well as the sextuplets 5th birthday.

towards the end of the episode, the cameraman asked each of them a question about the future, in particular their relationship.  they both spoke of the importance of what they do individually for their kids and the importance of their kids in their lives.  i really hope that they stay together and work through the issues that have come up for them.  

it’s easy to look at others and point out flaws and blindspots.  i have been a dad for less than two years and now have a second son in the mix.  i love kate but sometimes find it easier to spend time and love jack (our 21 month-old) than kate.  i don’t know why that is.  i have heard, and tried to keep in the forefront of my mind, the parenting advice of – the best thing you can do as a parent is focus on your marriage.  

how do keep your marriage in the front seat of your “family car”?

“rick warren is a lot easier to copy than bill hybels”

tsst-logowhen i was associate pastor in a little church in northern california i focused primarily on the youth – jr high through college age.  in one six-month period i was needed to preach a half-dozen times.  i needed some great material that would really touch the lives of the small congregation.  i had just finished reading a couple of john ortberg’s first books and aside from adding my own illustrations, used love beyond reason as the content of my messages.  

Chapter 7 cartoongeoff surratt admits his tendency to do this early on in his ministry in a rural texas church in chapter 7 of ten stupid things that keep churches from growing.  this chapter looks at copying another successful church.  “the problem i ran into was that unchurches harry and saddleback sam didn’t live in huffman, texas; we were surrounded by redneck bubba and unemployed eddie.”  he says “the challenge is when we stop learning and start leaning; when we try to simply copy what we’ve seen in another successful ministry.”

geoff asks 4 questions to his readers to help find the unique niche that God has created you to fill:

  • who are you?
  • what can’t you stand?
  • where is your church?
  • who’s not going to your church?

God calls us to lead the specific ministry in the way he has wired us to lead.  who are you called to lead and how do you lead them?  comment below on how you figured out these two questions; i’ll randomly select one commentor and send them a free copy of ten stupid things and a journal with the cartoon of this chapter on the cover.

remembering God

rememberremember the days of old;
consider the generations long past.
ask your father and he will tell you,
your elders, and they will explain to you.

16 times in deuteronomy moses tells the israelites to remember all that the Lord has done for them.  moses passes on and joshua leads the israelites.  after joshua dies, however, one of the first things that is written is:

“the israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the baals and the asherahs.”

they did not remember all that the Lord had done for them, and they chased after false gods.  how often do i do this?  after all that Jesus has done – not only through salvation, but through blessing in my lfe – i sometimes forget and chase after something false.  the other issue here is that as a father i should be passing down these rememberances to my boys, so they don’t forget.  

what do you want your kids to remember about Jesus?  as for me, i will pass down that he has sustained us through 3 periods of unemployment in 7 years; blessed me with a career i love at a fantastic company; delevered me from an addiction to pornography; and kept kate and i together during a rocky first 2 years of marriage.  there are a host of other blessings and deliverances, but those are the major ones.

ebenezerthe prophet samuel recognized the value of remembering all that the Lord had done for israel.  in 1 samuel 7, “samuel took a stone and set it up between mizpah and shen. he named it ebenezer, saying, “thus far has the Lord helped us.”  what do you have in your life or home that helps you remember how the Lord has helped you?

what do you not want yourself or your children to forget about how God has worked in the life of your and your family?

loose women, neighbors, and grace

John 8

last night my small group started a new study.  we will be going through the dvd curriculum of philip yancey’s what’s so amazing about grace?  we read a familiar story and one that philip tells in the book:

a prostitute came to me in wretched straits, homeless, sick, unable to buy food for her two-year old daughter.  through sobs and tears, she told me she had been renting out her daughter – two-years old! – to men…and made more renting out her daughter for an hour than she could earn on her own in a night.  she had to do it, she said, to support her own drug habit.  i could hardly bear hearing her sordid story….i had no idea what to say to this women.

at last i asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help.  i will never forget the look of pure, naive shock that crossed her face.  ”church!” she cried.  ”why would i ever go there?  i was already feeling terrible about myself.  they’d just make me feel worse.”

the question in the study guide immediately following this asked: why is it so hard to extend grace in this situation?

the problem arises for me in the minor annoyances.  for instance, our neighbors are incredibly noisy.  people are always coming and going, honking their horns, kids screaming and being screamed at.  sometimes they have been loud enough to wake up our kids from their naps (which is always pleasant).  this is a minor and common problem, yet i feel more apt to show grace to the child protituter than my neighbor. 

my question is, why is it so hard to extend grace?  and how have you learned to be grace-full?

Jesus exuded grace – to children, disciples, prostitutes, and executioners.  for me, it’s not the fantastically awful people i have difficulty extending grace to, it’s those people who annoy me, or rub me the wrong way.  

what practices do you have that help you live more graciously?  how have you learned to extend grace like Jesus?

settling for low quality in children’s ministry

tsst-logotoday i wanted to hit chapter four in geoff surratt’s new book, ten stupid things that keep churches from growing.  it deals with the aspect of ministering to our kids.  geoff says that “effective children’s ministry has never been more important to the life of the church than it is today….children often determine if and when their family goes to church.”  in this chapter we have a guest author – geoff’s wife sherry (no jokes about this being the best written chapter).  sherry has loads of experience in children’s ministry and lends her expertise.

sherry starts with what children’s ministry is (not church for short people) and then gives 4 lessons she has learned.  kids love making noises, messes, and having fun.

  • lesson one: it matters who’s on your team.
  • lesson two: it matters what you do
  • lesson three: it matters what parents think
  • lesson four: it matters that you know what your families expect

chapter-4-cartoongeoff finishes the chapter by way of interview with craig groeschel asking questions about the children’s ministry at lifechurch.tv.  three questions that craig gives as the key elements of an excellent children’s ministry are

  1. is it effective?
  2. is it aligned with the church’s vision?
  3. is it being led with purpose?

i want to take a minute and brag about my church (ada bible church) and their children’s ministry.  having been a parent for 21 months, i am new to the children’s ministry game, but have had two different experiences.  we visited one church a couple of times but we were never able to get jack into the nursery because it was full.  we have never had that issue at ada.  and having worked in the nursery at one of the video venue campuses, i know that they don’t just pack the room regardless.  if they get a stampede of kids, they have volunteers they can call as backups to come and help.

jack has since moved up out of the nursery and has been with the 2-3 year olds for about a month now.  he loves going to sunday school.  this last week evidently he was crawling around on all fours and panting like a dog – just a kid having fun.  every week he makes a drawing or craft and the teacher gives me a little paper that has a big idea on it that the kids heard, and some take-aways the parents can go over with their kids later that week.

4es_fmeach area of kids ministry has it’s own “e” that is the focus for the volunteers to focus on when with the kids.  from birth to young 5 year olds, they just love on the kids and the “e” stands for embrace – kids learn from teachers that they are embraced by God’s love.  for kids k-5th grade the “e” stands for expect.  this means the teachers help the kids learn to expect that God can be trusted.  in jr high, kids “e”xperience connection with God and others; and in high school kids “e”xpress faith & relationship throughout God’s world.

jack is still to little to know what is going on, but as a parent, i could not be more happy with the kids ministry at ada.  i’d love to hear you brag about your children’s ministry as well, so please leave a comment talking up what you love about how your church supports parents and loves kids!

church music makes me hate myself

it may be a strong statement to say that church music makes me hate myself, but it seems every sunday morning i battle myself during the music portion of the worship.  you see, i am very cynical about christian music in general and worship songs in particular.  ever since i can remember, instead of singing the songs, i would critique them.  are there phrases that are nonsensical, wrong theologically, or just lame?  is it a glorified “prom song to Jesus” (courtesy of mark driscoll)? and why does the song leader always chose a key higher than i can comfortably sing?

sometimes i wonder if people in the 16th century felt about martin luther they way i do about chris tomlin – “not another tomlin song!”  i love jars of clay, derek webb, and a handful of other “christian” bands, and prefer hymns to contemporary worship songs.  i sometimes wish i did like worship songs.  i feel like a sub-par christian when i am in church and tire of singing the same phrase over and over again.  i hate that i zone out while other people are lifting their hands and seemingly connecting with God.  

i guess i feel that i am missing out at best, or don’t love God as much as i ought at worst.  i tell myself if i really loved God i would be overjoyed at singing, but it is what i look forward to being over with the most on sundays.  i know there are different ways people worship and connect with God, and i wish that churches would be willing to explore those other options as well on sunday mornings, instead of three songs, an offering and a sermon every week.  let’s mix it up and try something new.

but mostly i wish that singing didn’t evoke a response in me that actually disconnets me from God.

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