times square

It all started with a recent visit to Times Square in NYC with my family. We didn’t notice the billboards until the sun went down and the light’s went on. There she was, several stories high towering over us, a naked woman barely covering her chest and selling men’s underwear of course.

Last weekend I was traveling for a speaking engagement. Turning on the television, the first “station” was one of those where you can, “Pay for the latest movie in the comfort of your room.”  Absent-mindedly, I left it there for a second.  That’s when an attractive woman, dressed pretty modestly began to speak. Her words caught me off guard. She said, “For just a small fee you can watch adult entertainment. No spyware. No malware. You can pay in a way that no one has to know.”  In other words,  “Go ahead an watch porn. No one is paying attention.”

This sexually charged culture is in our face all of the time. Media portrays sex as something to be used, discarded and played with. There is no talk of intimacy, or the soul’s involvement in this “physical act.”.  A ChristianNet Poll, Focus on the Family Poll, and research conducted by Christian Counseling today discovered these stats for THE CHURCH:

  • 5 out of every 10 men in the church are struggling with some issue concerning pornography
  • 34% of churchgoing women said they have intentionally visited porn websites online.
  • 54% of pastors admitted to viewing Internet porn in the last year and 30% admitted viewing within the past month.
  • 50% of all Christian men are addicted to pornography.
  • 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography.
  • 60% of women admit to having significant struggles with lust.
  • 47% of families said pornography is a problem in their home.
  • 42% of surveyed adults indicated that their partner’s use of pornography made them feel insecure.
  • 41% of surveyed adults admitted they felt less attractive due to their partner’s pornography use.
  • 30% of surveyed adults said their partner’s use of pornography made them feel more like a sexual object.

It’s not just a set of statistics. I know people in full-time, paid ministry whose lives and marriages have been destroyed by porn. We have been told that we must be “perfect” so we close our hotel rooms, and turn on the television.

How do we deal?  If this is what is going on with adults then what do we say to youth?

  • It starts with an honest assessment of our own heart, mind and soul.  We need to be totally aware of the danger of falling into a sexual trap, at any moment.  What are we doing to protect our hearts, eyes and mind against the world that tells us, “If it feels good in the moment, go for it.”

 

  • The discussion in youth group goes FAR beyond purity.  It is talking about the way Satan is always seeking “who he will devour, “ and he will use whatever he can to accomplish this goal-  media, people, insecurity, everything. We have to be supporting the family.

 

  • We need to keep exposing the lies.  I was previewing a CW show about princesses for my teen daughter, because I had heard some things. Sure enough, the first 20 minutes included both a graphic sex and a masturbation scene. Yep, it took place in the 1800’s, and yep, my husband and I felt like we had just watched porn. Just because tradition or the culture says it’s alright, doesn’t make it God’s plan.

It’s time we all remembered that God wants more for us than this excuse for “Sex” that the world portrays. He wants us to be in wonder of the miracle he calls, “Becoming one flesh,” and the promises attached to that.

What are you doing to actively combat this sexually charged world? 

Leneita

@leneitafix

Parenting in this new millennium in the first world culture may be the most different than any other generation that has ever been before. We are in a world of being always on, teens having access to more sinful content than ever, and a culture that says it should be all about you instead of all about your children and family. At the same time, God seems to be less of a focus within the family system than ever before.

Maybe the most frequent questions I have heard as a youth worker from parents at the chapel I serve in is how parents approach technology with their children. This is a whole new world with little to no precedent established from previous parenting models. This unknown territory has initiated fear, concern and doubt in the value added to technology with their children as well as a perceived loss of family communication and values being passed on.

We want to share with you a few tips for parents to have with technology and their children. Take it if it adds value or share with us how you have done it differently down in the comments.

  • Parents Should Look Through Cell Phones
    As a youth worker, I am in the unique position between teenagers want privacy in their lives and parents wanting to protect their children. As a youth worker, we want to support great parenting and yet find ourselves also being empathetic to the teens. Yet, I constantly find myself voicing the support of a parent to have the right and authority to look through their child’s phone. If you set up an understanding with the child before you begin and explain that this is a right to have a phone with the agreement that will be monitored, it becomes less of an invasion of privacy and more about the fact that they are reminded that their phone is a privilege.
  • Pornography Is An Issue For ALL Students
    Parents here me say this and think, sure for all other children it is a problem, but not theirs. Many statistics differ. “But my would never do that!” Some studies say that 100% of children are exposed to pornography if they use the computer more than three hours a week. That would include your child. “But my daughter wouldn’t see have an issue with it.” Unfortunately, the issue of women regularly looking at pornography is sharply rising as is an addiction to it for females. Have this talk, put necessary software on your computer, and do not assume ANYTHING.
  • Do Not Be Afraid of Technology
    Technology can be a scary thing. The two points above are hard conversations and points of sin for many different people, but the nature of technology can be a good thing. To shove off all things technology would also be a negative approach. Instead, know that technology is a tool and if you keep that priority and do not allow it to rule over you, it can help your family. Make fun family videos to post on YouTube, find your favorite time with family to watch a television show, and communicate via text messages, just do so with moderation.
  • Communicate Intent With Actions
    If I could communicate any one thing to parents, it would the fact that they need to communicate their intent with their children more. Sure, not every decision you do with them needs to have a briefing of why you decided what you did, but at the same time, so many arguments and battles that happen could simply be prevented if you had just communicated the love, time, and fear that goes into why you put the different rules down that you did. Will you have to repeat them because teenagers forget? Yes. Does communicating prevent all arguments with children? No. But some of my own parenting models came from when my parent explained why I was limited on television use or needed to call instead of text them.

What other parenting tips on technology would you add to this list?

Jeremy Smith is a youth worker at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Masters of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years — check out his blog at Seventy8Productions.



Weekend Teaching Series: XXX (series finale, week 2 of 2)
Sermon in a Sentence: How to be a good neighbor.

Service Length: 84 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend Craig Gross, founder of XXXChurch, spoke to our high school students in all 4 weekend services. Last week he hit the topic of pronography strong, this week he took the series on the next step – how to I share my freedom and faith in Christ with my friends. His main passage was the Good Samaritan and told stories of how he has seen God work in his life and ministry. Really powerful!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we played Facebook Hack, which was a total riot. If you’re not familiar with it yet, steal this idea now (hit the link for the full scoop and graphics). Basically, we use an iPad and the contestant logs in and then gives control of their Facebook to the host. The host asks questions, and if the contenstant gets it wrong the host can unfriend whoever or post whatever they want. Hilarious! As an added bonus as the game was coming to a close, the contestant at one of the services took out a piece of paper and had written a poem to his girlfriend and asked her to prom with him. It made for a super memorable ending!

Music Playlist: We Could Change the World, Our God, Love Came Down, All I Am, To the Ends of the Earth,

Favorite Moment: My favorite moment was definitely the message and having Craig here to speak. I also loved having my friend Chris Wohlers back in HSM this weekend as a guest host to Facebook Hack. Chris was on the high school team last year but took a great opportunity with our adult service video team.

Up next: Workshop Weekend (1-off)

Weekend Teaching Series: XXX (series premiere, week 1 of 2)
Sermon in a Sentence:
How to escape the clutches of pornography.

Service Length: 70 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend Craig Gross, founder of XXXChurch, spoke to our high school students in all 4 weekend services. He is a gifted and passionate speaker and this subject is fully in his wheelhouse. I was so happy to have him there to take this topic head on. It was

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we went for content over anything else – the guys made a creative stage design and we asked a couple of very direct polleverywhere cell phone questions about porn etc. Really strong weekend!

Music Playlist: We Are the Free, Our God, Savior of the World

Favorite Moment: My favorite moment was … that I was gone this weekend! I got a chance to escape for a weekend away with the family. We did it up simple, just a quick 2-night hotel stay in the area with no phones, computers, worries. Just the pool, great meals and time with the kids. Super fun!

Up next: XXX (series finale, week 2 of 2)



You have a porn problem in your youth group whether you know it or not. High school, junior high, college–it’s present at every age. No longer do students have to go looking for porn, because in today’s age, porn comes looking for them. It might not be an easy topic for most students to talk about, and you may need to find a different way to communicate with students in your group, but it’s a topic that needs to be discussed.

Over the past couple months, we have both taken a week to meet with our junior high and high school small groups to discuss God’s view of porn, how to avoid and battle the temptation, and open the door to conversation. Here are some things we did right, and also some things that we learned from:

I realize that this poll is a little jarring to be hit with on a Monday morning … but I would love your anonymous honesty. Youth workers – are you looking at porn?

JG



A lot of what I read about sexual sin in the Christian realm sounds strikingly similar to what I hear in the secular world. I’ve heard youth pastors say again and again things like:

  • “Don’t have pre-marital sex, because you might get a disease.”
  • “Don’t masturbate, because you’ll have erectile dysfunction when you’re married.”
  • “Don’t look at porn, because it will make your wife seem ugly.”

As fine as these reasons are, the reason they sound just like the world’s advice is simply this: they have nothing to do with the gospel. So, I’d like to offer 12 gospel-centered things you should tell a guy who is struggling with lust:

1.) You Have a New Master. How many times have we justified using our bodies however we want with this line: It’s mine? News flash, Homie: if you are bought by the blood of Christ, your body does NOT belong to you. It belongs to Him. When you were saved, you didn’t buy Jesus. Jesus bought you. That means he dictates how your body should and shouldn’t be used.

You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” -1 Corinthians 6:19b-20

2.) You Have a New Label. When we form a habit, we begin to identify ourselves by that habit. If we golf, we’re a golfer. If we lust, we’re a luster. So many times when temptation comes our way, Satan says: “Remember? You’re a luster. This is what you do. You’re a pervert.” If you have put your trust in Jesus Christ, that’s not true. Yes, you were a “luster” and a pervert. But when you accepted Christ, he gave you a new nature. You are no longer a luster or a pervert, but a son of God who has power to overcome Satan.

You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:7-10

4.) You Have a New Spirit Within You. So many guys I’ve talked to have just given up on their ability to overcome sexual temptation. “I don’t know what to do anymore. It’s just impossible to overcome lust!” Really? That’s not what God says. If you’ve been trapped in the lie that you can’t overcome sexual temptation, it’s time to begin believing more from God. If you’ve trusted Jesus for salvation, God has implanted the power of his own Spirit inside of you. To say “I can’t” is to say, “He can’t”. To say “I can” is to believe Him.

“…God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”-1 Corinthians 10:13

4.) You Have a New Race to Run. So many times, guys return to their lust because they’re not replacing it with anything. If a guy lays down the sin that so easily entangles, but doesn’t run the race set before him, guess what? He’s going to get bored and pick his sin up again. Singleness isn’t about sitting around and playing Cheeto-stained video games until we get married. It’s not about having extra free time to pursue our own desires and hobbies and aims. Singleness is about ministry. It’s about pursuing God and others with a greater intensity than will ever be possible in your life again after marriage. So, maybe the reason you’re falling back into temptation again and again isn’t because you aren’t trying hard enough. Maybe it’s because you’re not replacing you’re bad habits with the exciting, life altering race God has for you as a single person.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. -Hebrews 12:1

5.) You Have a New Reason to Love your Wife. (Yes, I know high-school guys do not have wives. But in all likelihood, they will.) Did you know that there is a way for you to practice spiritual leadership of your wife right now? Did you know that there is a very practical, daily activity you can do to assist your future wife in her day-to-day life today? Did you know that you can begin growing in your love for her right now? You guessed it: pray for her. You may not know who she is, what color hair she’ll have, or how the heck you’re finally going to meet her. But when you do, you won’t regret one minute you spent on your knees for her. And guess what? As you grow in your love for her, you will also grow in your hate for the perversion of your relationship. Lust just seems dumb when you’re in love.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. -Ephesians 5:25-27

6.) You Have a New Appetite. Part of the reason you fall into lust is this: you are thirsty. You are hungry. You are looking for beauty. Let me tell you something: you’re not going to find what you’re looking for under a girl’s clothes. You can look over and over again, but you’re still going to want more and more, because no woman can satisfy the longing you have to see God in his Holy Temple. That is the beauty you are looking for. Here’s the good news: you can experience this beauty in part, now, by dwelling on God’s word. God’s word is how he communicates all of his beautiful characteristics to you day after day. Are you leaving yourself spiritually hungry? Have you hidden God’s word in your heart that you might not sin against him? If not, you’ll try to itch that scratch with lust again and again.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

7.) You Have a New Story. At the very root of lust is an attitude of ingratitude. If you spent your time thinking about what God has given you, you wouldn’t be dwelling on what God has not given you. This applies to all areas of life; whenever you set your mind on things you don’t have, you are lusting. If a genie gave you one wish, what would it be? Would it be marriage? It would be wiser to ask for gratitude. Even when you are married, there is temptation to be ungrateful, and to look elsewhere for satisfaction. You are training yourself right now for marriage; will you be grateful for and loving towards your future wife, or will you be ungrateful, lustful for other women? You choose now. Make a list of temporal blessings (temporary things) and eternal blessings (God’s attributes and works on your behalf) and make sure to give God thanks all day long for the good he has placed in your life.

“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” — Ephesians 5:4

8.) You Have A New Savior. The reason why so many modern church-goers are tempted to reject the notion of hell is simply this: we do not understand the incredible offense of sin against God. Sin does indeed deserve eternal punishment and separation from God, and when we sin, there is an eternal price to be paid. If we have placed our trust in Jesus for salvation, that price is paid on the cross. However, every time we sin, we add to the penalty Jesus paid on that cross. Sin isn’t free; it’s costly; eternally costly; costly for our sweet savior, led like a lamb to the slaughter of our salvation.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. Colossians 3:5-6

9.) You Have A New Joy. The difference between joy and temporary pleasure is the difference between water and lemonade. Lemonade tastes good for a moment, but ultimately it only makes you thirstier. Water, on the other hand, satisfies. When dealing with temptation, you must ask yourself: is it better for me to gain a few seconds of pleasure and lose my joy? Trespassing against God always strips us of our joy. So, we must choose: do we want temporary excitement, or eternal joy? And here’s the good news: when we choose joy, God allows us to experience pleasure as well, in His time and in His way. But when we pursue pleasure over joy by pursing it outside of God’s boundaries, we lose both.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

10.) You Have a New Hope. I’m not going to lie, I think a lot of Christian books on purity are full of a deceptive philosophy. They teach that if you have sex now, or lust now, you will ruin sex for your marriage. True as that may be, that’s not really the point of overcoming lust. If the sole reason you are trying to overcome temptation is to have better sex later, you’re going to fail. Why? Because you’re still worshiping sex, and when temptation comes your way, you’re going to take it. Don’t set your eyes on marriage; don’t set your eyes on sex. Set your eyes on intimacy with Christ. This is why you are working out your salvation with fear and trembling; so that you may be spotless, blameless and pleasing to God when you stand before him to give an account for your life.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. -Colossians 3:2

11.) You Have a New Trust. As a guy who once struggled with pornography, I have a secret for you: all sex is the same. There’s nothing out there that will ever be more satisfying than the plan God has for your sexuality within the confines of marriage. So many times we act like our parents, Adam and Eve, and we look for something outside of God’s boundaries, because we don’t trust that He has given us the best. And what happened when Adam and Eve eat the fruit? Nothing. It looked good, but they gained nothing. They lost everything. So, when Satan tempts you with the big shiny apple of temptation, call him out. He’s like the Wizard of Oz, and he’ll keep you thinking he has something great and powerful for you, so long as it’s hidden behind a curtain. Then when you open the curtain, guess what? Nothing’s there. Trust God that nothing is behind that curtain; He has the best for you in mind, not Satan.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. –Genesis 3:6-7

12.) You Have a New Freedom. As Christians, we differ from every other religion. We don’t try to earn our way to God; we don’t try to work for his approval. In fact, we obey because he’s approved of us. As Christians, we are not thankful because we obey; we obey because we are thankful. We don’t obey to earn God’s favor; we obey because God has already cleared our slates on the cross. Jesus was crushed for our iniquities, and the more we realize his grace for us, the more thankful we become, and the more obedient our hearts are to Him. So no matter what; whether you’re doing well in the fight for purity, or your head is hanging in shame, always, always, always rest in the good news of the gospel. Always be thankful for Christ’s sacrifice for you on the cross, because only obedience that flows from gratitude frees us to truly obey God from the heart. And obedience from the heart is the only way to please God our heavenly father and Jesus Christ, to whose name every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth. Hallelujah; praise God!

“Dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” 1 John 2:1

In other words, the reason to avoid lust can be summed up in one word: Jesus.

Nick McDonald is the High-School Youth Director at Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyterian church in Brighton, MI. He is the author of www.theradicaljourney.com, a site designed to shine gospel light on the masculine journey. There, you can download his free e-book for any of your students called, “Don’t Waste Your Sex: 50 Ways to Overcome the Battle for Purity.”