Worth Your Time 3/6/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

Battling Pornography… by Walt Mueller (CPYU)
“Over the course of the last couple of weeks I’ve had several people ask me this question: ‘What do think is the biggest challenge facing children and teens today?’ That’s a tough question to answer. Without a doubt, today’s ‘biggest challenge’ is nothing new. It’s a challenge shared by every human being who has drawn breath in our post-Genesis 3:6 world. It’s our brokenness and sin. Still, the question asks about how our sin is nuanced in our culture, our times, and our lives. My answer, with little hesitation, has to be ‘pornography.'”

Abusing Grace: Finding the Line Between “Guilt Trip” and “It’s All Good” by Tim Downey (Leadertreks)
“Those who abuse grace respond quickly: ‘I don’t have to live under a legalistic set of rules any longer. I’m free in Christ.’ But are they living in true freedom? Christians do not earn grace through actions, but Christ purchased for us freedomfrom sin, not freedom to sin. We must ask ourselves one simple question: Has the ‘freedom’ we have embraced brought us liberty or bondage (Gal. 5:13)?”

Francis Chan: Church Wastes Too Much Time Waiting on God’s Voice, Christians Getting Too Fat on the Word by Stephanie Samuel (Christian Post)
“Chan explained that continually listening to the Word without applying it has made Christians’ ears dull to God’s call. “That’s the first thing I was taught in seminary before we even started classes: the president of the seminary said, ‘look be careful because once you can hear the word of God and do nothing in response then the next time you hear it, it’ll get easier, and the next time and pretty soon it becomes a habit and a pattern of you’re able to hear the Word of God without a practical response,’ said Chan.”

Why an Actual Infinity Cannot Exist and Therefore We Know That The Universe Had a Beginning by Justin Taylor (Gospel Coalition)
“Philosopher William Lane Craig has done more than any other contemporary to popularize and develop the Kalam Cosmological Argument, which is simple to formulate and difficult to refute. The premises of the argument are as follows:

  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe begins to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.”

Parenting Means Wrestling Demons by Jonathan Parnell (Desiring God)
“There is a war on children, and we are all, in one way or another, playing some role in it. Every time we move forward as faithful parents (or care for kids in any capacity, including advocating for the voiceless not yet born, and volunteering for nursery duty on Sundays), we are wrestling demons — because there is little the demons hate more than little children.”

Worth Your Time 2/27/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

Does Your Youth Ministry Mess With Christ’s Bride by Jon Nielson (The Gospel Coalition)
“Youth pastors, directors, and workers need to be constantly called back to a focus on substantive, biblical, and gospel-centered ministry to young people, so that they do not fall prey to the gleam of a thriving and fun youth ministry that does not contribute to lasting kingdom fruit.”

Your Children are Looking at Pornography. How are you Responding? by Nicholas Black (Harvest USA)
“Pornography is anything the heart uses to find sexual expression outside of God’s intended design for relational intimacy. It is anything that tempts and corrupts the human heart into desiring sensual pleasure in sinful ways. By this definition, we live in a pornographic culture.”

Dropouts and Disciples: How Many Students are Really Leaving the Church? by Ed Stetzer (Christianity Today)
“In most cases, our surveys show a lack of intentionality in dropping out. Eighty percent of young people who dropped out of church said they did not plan to do so during high school. It’s not that most rejected the church. Our teenagers aren’t primarily leaving because they have significant disagreements with their theological upbringing or out of some sense of rebellion. For the most part, they simply lose track of the church and stop seeing it as important to their life.”

Revealed: The Science Behind Teenage Laziness by Louise Carpenter (The Telegraph)
“She is passionate, for example, about the madness of an 8.30/9am school start time. ‘It’s the middle of the night for a teenager!’ she says. Teenagers release melatonin (the sleepy hormone) a couple of hours later in the day than adults and so are able to stay up later, but then they need more sleep in the morning. ‘It’s like getting us up at 5.30am,’ Blakemore elaborates. Teenagers experience ‘social jet-lag’ as a result, hence the long lie-ins at the weekends (this is absolutely not slothfulness, she says, but their bodies catching up after being forced to awaken so early).”

How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life by Jon Ronson (The New York Times Reporter)
“Eventually I started to wonder about the recipients of our shamings, the real humans who were the virtual targets of these campaigns. So for the past two years, I’ve been interviewing individuals like Justine Sacco: everyday people pilloried brutally, most often for posting some poorly considered joke on social media. Whenever possible, I have met them in person, to truly grasp the emotional toll at the other end of our screens. The people I met were mostly unemployed, fired for their transgressions, and they seemed broken somehow — deeply confused and traumatized.”

Dadvertising at the Super Bowl by Mike McGarry (Rooted Ministries… yes, this is a shameless plug)
“A father’s love is powerful because it reflects the love and acceptance we were created to enjoy in our Heavenly Father, and when the Church steps into a kid’s life to care for him or her, it is a tangible expression of the adoption which is ours through faith in Jesus Christ.”

Porn Addiction & Teenagers

ABC recently ran a great but scary piece on porn addiction among teenagers.  According to a psychologist who was interviewed, we’re just at the beginning of a pornography epidemic – it will get worse in the next few years.  You can view the ABC’s Nightline report here: “Generation XXX: Teens Addicted to Porn?

As technology advances, access to porn will become easier and easier while avoiding porn will become increasingly difficult.  Technology isn’t the enemy, per se, but its the conduit through which the porn is so easily delivered to stoke our sinful desires.  If your son/daughter doesn’t have any restrictions on their use of technology (TV viewing, Internet usage, Internet filters, Cell Phone & Smartphones, etc.), I want to encourage you to check out a post I wrote last year: Setting Media Guidelines for your Teenager.

Walt Mueller at the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding has done significant work and has created the “Digital Kids Initiate.”  This is an effort to help parents and youth workers understand the digital world teens live so that we could discerningly affirm what we can while correcting what is dangerous.  As part of the Digital Kids Initiative, Walt has provided two noteworthy resources:

  1.  Info Sheet on Children & Pornography
  2. Parents’ Primer on Internet Pornography.

Here are some nuggets taken from the above resources:

  • 93% of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to Internet pornography before the age of 18.
  • The average age of first exposure to Internet pornography is 11.
  • 30,000 Internet users were accessing pornography every second.sdf
  • There were 4.2 million pornographic websites. That equals 12% of all Internet sites.
  • 70% of boys have spent more than 30 consecutive minutes looking at online pornography on at least one occasion. 35% of boys have done this on more than ten occasions.
  • 23% of girls have spent more than 30 consecutive minutes looking at online pornography on at least one occasion. 14% have done this on more than one occasion.
  • The 12-17 year-old age group is the largest consumer of Internet pornography.
  • Only 3% of boys and 17% of girls have never seen Internet pornography.
  • One poll indicates that 50% of evangelical Christian men and 20% of evangelical Christian women are addicted to pornography.

If you haven’t talked to your teenager about pornography, chances are… you’re already behind!  Talk to your kids about porn – yes, it’s uncomfortable and awkward for everyone, but you’re not doing anyone any favors by only talking about things that are easy to discuss!  Take the initiative, and don’t just have “the talk” once and then never again, make it a conversation instead.

What should you do if your son/daughter has been looking at porn?  Here are Walt’s suggestions (as found on the info sheet linked to above):

  1. Control your anger.
  2. Go after their heart, not their behavior.
  3. Keep a discussion going about biblical sexuality.
  4. Examine your own heart. Are you living God’s design for your own sexuality?
  5. Block the doors. Take steps to restrict access and choices, while engaging them in ongoing accountability.
  6. Don’t let up or give up. Shepherd them forward in their spiritual lives with the goal of heart change.
  7. Evaluate whether or not outside counseling is necessary or beneficial.

What is Cellular Purity?

Below is a great video on the connection between cell phones and pornography, this is a “must watch” for every parent and youth worker!

For more posts on Sexual Purity and Moral Boundaries check these links out:

  • Previous post I’ve written entitled “Struggling against porn
  • Pornography Harms” is the name of a new site devoted to helpful, informative, credible information regarding the harmfulness of pornography.  Great site!
  • Link for Teens: Teens Against Porn – this is a GREAT site that deals with the allure and the effects of pornography while giving you encouragement that you’re not alone and that through Christ you can overcome this temptation!
  • Link for Parents: The Porn Talk – don’t know how to talk to your son or daughter about sex and pornography?  Check this site out for some ideas and resources.

Struggling Against Porn

Puritan writer John Owen famously declared, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”

Porn is a serious struggle for many teens and college-aged men (and for all other ages too… but especially for young men).  It’s taboo to talk about and no one wants to admit their struggle to anyone else, especially if you’re a Christian.

Parents, here are some ways you can help:

  1. Don’t let your teen have a computer with internet access in his bedroom… especially at night!
  2. Install non-override filters with secure firewalls on all computers in your home.
  3. Fathers, talk to your sons about pornography.  Yes, it will be an uncomfortable conversation, but if you really want your son to walk with Jesus faithfully he should be able to come to you for support.
  4. Don’t add to the shame!  Don’t make him feel gross or like a freak… he already feels that way and needs to know that what he’s struggling against (sexual temptation) is normal, even though it’s not right or healthy.

Check out the link to “Teens Against Porn” under links on this site.  Boundless (a ministry of Focus on the Family) also has a number of helpful articles devoted to helping people overcome their struggles against pornography while helping others better understand this struggle at all… you can find those articles here.