“why?” a few thoughts on sexting.

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By now, you’ve probably heard about the hacking scandal a few weeks ago that resulted in nude photographs of many celebrities such as Kate Upton, Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst and Mary Elizabeth Winstead being posed on several sites, including 4Chan, Reddit, Twitter, and Tumblr.

I’ve seen numerous interviews and read several articles from those attacked. I can’t imagine being in such a position – going online, searching for an image of myself, and, with the click of a button, seeing myself naked!

While flying last week, I grabbed a copy of this month’s issue of Vanity Fair. I don’t usually read this magazine. However, appearing on the cover was a picture of Jennifer Lawrence. I’m a huge Hunger Games fan. Read the books. Can’t wait for November 21! (If you’re a fan, you’ve got that date circled too.) Next to her picture was a quote from Ms. Lawrence, which read, “It’s my body and it should be my choice.” Intrigued, I wanted to read more about what she said concerning the hacking and posting of several pictures of herself, nude.

Ms. Lawrence said her first response was to cry. Then it was anger. She said, “It just makes me feel like a piece of meat that’s being passed around!” I agree. And then I closed the magazine and found myself starring at the cover. On the cover was a picture of Ms. Lawrence…naked! The same young lady who’s four-page article quoted her again and again over her anger and frustration over nude pictures of her being online, allowed another photographer to click and print pictures of her naked. How ironic.

Ms. Lawrence said, “I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to be sorry for. I was in a relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either my boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.”

I was disappointed to hear that Ms. Lawrence wasn’t sorry she ever took the pictures. I was disappointed to hear that the blame wasn’t on her, but on the one who hacked her.

Yes, I know what you are thinking – this time the one printing the pictures had her permission. It was her choice. True. And, of course I’m disgusted along with her and everyone effected by the hacking that the hacker(s) first stole the pictures, and then, posted the pictures. However, not once during the last two weeks since the hacking have I heard anyone question Ms. Lawrence, (or any one else effected by the hacking), “Why?”

Why do girls (and guys too) choose to press Send and display such devaluing images of themselves to others? Why hasn’t anyone in mainstream media come out to say that such a choice is so unnecessary and so self-degrading? Sure, the hacker clearly broke the law. But, had there been no pictures to be hacked, there would have never been any pictures to post.

This month, Atlantic Magazine printed an article entitled, Why Kids Sext. This article shared the results of a recent national survey on sexting. The results are staggering. 68% of the girls surveyed say, “I sext.” Most every girl in the study stated that, “I feel less confident about my body and am less assured of my place in the social hierarchy of teen life. So, I sext.”

93% of the girls surveyed in this study stated that they sext because “my hope is that he will stay with me if I send him nude pictures of me.”

98% of the girls surveyed said they wake up the next day saying “yes” to the question, “Do I regret sending the images?”

I find it very interesting, and such a statement as to the spiritual temperature of our nation, that college admission counselors now say that, next to the application, the #1 tool they use to determine whether or not a student is accepted onto their campus is Google!

Let me simplify the previous statement: No matter how stellar your college application is, no matter how amazing your GPA, and no matter your SAT or ACT score(s), what you post really says the most! Your pre-college online life very well could determine where you attend college, or if you attend at all.

Or, imagine one day sitting at church, at work, or at home with your children and all of a sudden you, your family or your boss finds a sext picture of you from years ago! Like I often remind my daughters – once you hit send, there is no end! Once it’s out there, it’s out there. So be wise. It only takes one post to change everything.

But all of this is really secondary to the greater question, “Why?” Why use your body in such a way to get the attention of a guy who is probably less interested in your well being and more interested in his lust-driven satisfaction? Think about it – if he is really into you and really cares for you and genuinely wants the best for you, then why would he ever request something of you that could hurt you, possibly destroy your reputation, almost most definitely get you into a load of trouble at school, home or both, and, potentially keep you from attending the university of your dreams? Doesn’t it make more sense that if he really loves you, he would never, ever ask anything of you that could harm or hurt you?

If you’ve ever sent a sext, isn’t it time you stopped to answer the question for yourself – - Why? Ask yourself, “Why do I sext?” The answer, if you are truly honest, most likely isn’t about him (or her). It’s about the hole in your heart that longs for significance. The truth is that you will never gain the significance you long for by making a choice merely to please others. If this is you, decide now to stop allowing your body to be abused and misused. Your body was never intended to be on display for all others to see. In Ms. Lawrence’s words, that just makes you a “piece of meat.”

Choose to respect you. Choose to say “no” to anyone who requests anything of you that compromises your purity, beauty and value. Just as Ms. Lawrence says, “It’s your body, it’s your choice.” So make it your choice to respect your body. If you do, you’ll never wake up the next day regretting that choice!

do I believe in the deity of Jesus?

In the beginning was the Word;

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.

He was with God in the beginning.

All things were created through Him,

and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created.

Life was in Him,

and that life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4, hcsb)

The Bible is clear: Jesus is the Son of God. He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was crucified, died for our sins, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven to reign at the right hand of God.

Yet it will only be a matter of time before you will meet people who will try to convince you otherwise. It will only be a matter of time before you meet people who will tell you they believe in Jesus, only for you to discover that their religion actually believes that He was just a good man. You may have already met such people.

Of course, it is impossible for Jesus to have just been a good man. Many times, He made radical statements such as this one:

The one who believes in Me believes not in Me, but in Him who sent Me. And the one who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me would not remain in darkness. If anyone hears My words and doesn’t keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects Me and doesn’t accept My sayings has this as his judge: the word I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on My own, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a command as to what I should say and what I should speak. I know that His command is eternal life. So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me. (John 12:44-52, hcsb)

In these eight verses, Jesus claims that believing in Him is the equivalent of believing in God and that seeing Him is the same as seeing God. He said He is the light of the world and that He came to save the world. He goes on to say that anyone who doesn’t believe in Him will be judged, that His words are God’s words, and that they are everlasting!

If Jesus wasn’t God, and wasn’t the Savior of the world, and wasn’t all He claimed, then the label good man wouldn’t be fitting. Something more like—oh, I don’t know—liar, freak, or idiot would be more fitting to someone who made such absurd claims!

 

JD Podcast Interview w/Goodberry

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how do I become a Christian?

I’m often asked the question, “How do I become a Christian?” Additionally, I’m asked questions such as, “Don’t all religions lead to God?” Or, “As long as I am a good person, won’t I make it to heaven?” The bible answers all of these questions and makes it very clear that there is only one way to heaven and to God. You can’t work hard enough to get to heaven. You can never be good enough to get to heaven either.  The only way to heaven is to become a Christian – to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, gave His life for you by dying on a cross, and came back to life to offer you an amazing life with Him! Believing this and then choosing to give your life away for Him ensures you a spot in heaven.

The idea of “giving your life away” may seem a little weird to you. But the bible says that to become a Christian means that it is as though you have died to yourself (your wants, needs, desires, aspirations, goals – - everything!) in order to live your life for Jesus. There is a verse in the bible that reads, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Simply put: My life is God’s life – all of it!

Let me explain to you in greater detail what all of this means. I hope you will take a few minutes to read through the four steps you to need to take to become a Christian:

1. Recognize God’s plan.

God loves you and has a plan for your life. The Bible says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, niv). This is God’s plan for your life—that you spend an eternity with Him in heaven.

2. Realize the problem.

Every human chooses to disobey God and do his or her own thing. The result is that we are separated from God because He is perfect and we are sinners. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, niv).

3. Respond to God’s remedy.

Because God loves you so much, He sent His Son to bridge the gap between you and Him that exists because of your wrong choices. God’s Son, Jesus Christ, paid the penalty for your sins when He died on the cross and rose from the grave. The Bible says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, niv).

4. Receive Christ.

By asking Christ to come into your life, you cross the bridge into God’s family. God then offers you ultimate forgiveness. You then have a relationship with Him and the privilege of spending eternity with Him in heaven one day. This is the only way to heaven! The Bible says, “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12, niv).

Have you taken these steps to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? These steps are far greater and more meaningful than any other choice you will make in your life! You can stop right now, wherever you are, and pray a prayer such as this one:

Dear Jesus,

I realize that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe that You are the Son of God and that You died for me. I want to give my life over to You by asking You to forgive me of all my past mistakes. I now invite You into my life to save me and change me and be the Lord of my life. Thank You for loving me. Amen.

 

applying the “seek” and “call”

NOTE: I have received numerous questions via Facebook and email lately as it relates to students struggling in placing confidence in their relationship with God. This post is an actual response to a recent email I received from a girl struggling with her faith.

I am sorry to hear that you are having a rough go of things right now with your faith. I understand! I have been there too. I know that my walk with God is constantly under attack, and it sounds like this is what is going on with you too. Satan works hard to confuse us and to try and convince us that God is wrong, isn’t interested in us, or doesn’t even exist. He wants you to be confused and depressed. He wants you to feel hopeless and alone. He knows if he can get you there, then he might have a good chance of keeping you there. If he keeps you there, odds are in his favor that eventually you’ll just give up on it all with God. This is the worse decision you can make!

God does love you, even though your circumstance may not show it in the way you desire at this moment. What you have to work hard at right now is not confusing how you feel about who God is with what the bible says about who God is.  That’s why I say it all the time: God is NOT a feeling. God is a choice! When you feel like God is not responding, or doesn’t even take the time to receive your call, you have to make the choice in these moments to trust that He is still in it with you, and that He is still intimately concerned with your concerns.

As Christ followers, we have to push through the tough times and BELIEVE (Hebrews 11:1) that God is who He says He is, even when we feel lost and confused. Satan wants you to turn from God in the middle of your confusion. God wants you to turn to Him in the middle of your confusion. He wants to prove to you that He is who He says He is. He can do this is a plethora of ways. It may very well be that He chooses to do this as YOU choose to do your part in pursuing Him like you never have before.

Jeremiah 29:12-13 says, “Then you will call upon me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” The key here are the action words “seek” and “call.” These words are proof that we have to do our part to know God more and to grow in Him more. I encourage you to begin making it a daily action of yours to put the “seek” and “call” to action.

Colossians 4:2 says, “Devote yourself to pray.” This word devote means to commit, to make it a priority! Here are some suggestions to help you make the “seek” and the “call” a priority in your life:

 

“Seek”

1. Power off your mobile, laptop, iPad, etc. and focus on the “silence.”

2. Once in a quite place, spend time getting your heart and head focused on approaching God.

3. Make a list of things you want to talk to God about. I.e., things that bother you, upset you or frustrate you about your relationship w/Him. Don’t forget to also take time to thank Him for the good things in your life, because all the good is from Him.

4. Write down questions you would like to ask Him, and then talk to Him like you would talk to your closest friend.

5. Make a promise with yourself that you will commit time each day, if even just a few minutes, repeating “Seek” steps 1-4.

 

“Call”

1. Google in search of specific scriptures to help with specific struggles. For example, when I Google the phrase: “Scriptures to help me trust who God says He is.”, I found these scriptures:

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

“That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!” “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it.” It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.” – Romans 10:10-13 (MSG)

2. Once you find scriptures such as these, write them down in your journal. Hang them on your mirror in your bathroom. Place them in a high traffic area of your home. (We do this at our house, often on the refrigerator, as a reminder to our family of God’s truths.)

3. Memorize scriptures that will help you develop confidence in who God says He is. (HINT: The key to memorizing them is reading them every day.)

4. Read and pray these scriptures out loud.  Romans 10:17 says that, “Faith increases when we hear God’s word.” Hearing His truths helps them stick in your head.

5. Find a friend and/or family member who can “seek” and “call” with you!

Knowing Christ, and growing in Christ more, is a life-long process of ups and downs and twists and turns, full of intrigue, frustration, anticipation, excitement and more! But I promise you, the more you put into action the “seek” and “call,” the more you begin to place confidence in Him and not your circumstances or feelings. As you do, you will begin to see that even if God chooses not to remove the challenges in your life, you will able to walk through these challenges more confidently, knowing you do not walk through them alone!

 

you and everything about you matters to God

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NOTE: This article appeared in the June 2014 issue of Direction Magazine.

If you are a sports enthusiast, then you can probably remember who won the last Super Bowl, NBA Championship, or World Series. If you are a gamer, then it probably doesn’t take you long, with controller in hand, to attain high levels on your favorite game. Maybe music is your deal. If so, there is a good chance that a mix of lyrics from various artists is shuffling through your mind at any given time. Or maybe you are a meaningless trivia nut. If so, you may enjoy finding answers to questions like these:

• Which ocean—the Pacific or the Atlantic—is saltier?

• What is America’s favorite flavor of ice cream?

• True or false? Babies are born without kneecaps.

• What is the last name of Elmo from Sesame Street?

• Or my favorite meaningless trivia question: forty thousand Americans injure themselves each year using ________?

The answers: Atlantic. Chocolate. True. Monster. The toilet. (Can’t imagine or explain that last one.)

You probably have a few of your own really good meaningless trivia questions.

Whether it’s sports, music, trivia, or something else, have you ever stopped to consider how much knowledge you possess? I am confident that we all know a lot about things that are important to us. I’m also confident that we all know a lot about things that really don’t matter for eternity.

Having a wide range of knowledge is important, but equally as important is the depth of your knowledge. Consider this: It doesn’t really matter what you know if you don’t know what really matters. In many ways, these first seventeen or eighteen years of your life will be the training ground for what’s next. God has a super big plan for what is next in your life—for what really matters!

There is great comfort in knowing that you matter to God. You are no accident. You are a person of significance and meaning. When God made you, He was really showing off. Colossians 1:16 is proof of this when it says, “everything, absolutely everything, got started in him and finds its purpose in him.” The key word here is “everything”! Everything excludes nothing. That means you are included in the everything!

To God, everything about you matters—your goals, aspirations, weaknesses, challenges, desires, ambitions, choices, relationships, past, present, and future. It all matters to Him.

Stacey, a senior in high school, approached me after I finished speaking at a Youth For Christ event recently to say, “I’m really freaked about next year. I know God has a plan for me, but I’m nervous about figuring it all out.” I encouraged Stacey to really work at enjoying the ride during her senior year. I told her that the questions and uncertainties she has about the “what’s next” after high school are a normal experience. And God wants to teach her to trust Him during all of this because she matters to Him.

This can be a tricky challenge for anyone, at any age. It’s not always easy to trust God, especially when you’re in the middle of a challenge. But know this: you do not face your challenges alone, because your challenges matter to God too. That’s right. God isn’t merely concerned about the fun, exciting, and glamorous rock star moments of your life. He’s also concerned about the intimidating, scary and challenging ones too. He’s concerned about all, because He knows that in both the super and the scary moments, He can prove Himself trustworthy to you…if you let Him.

Satan often spins his web of lies during such times of trouble. Be ready! He will try to use difficult moments in your life to convince you that God’s no longer in it with you. He knows the years until you graduate from high school are pivotal to the next many years of your life, and he will work overtime trying to discourage you and convince you that you no longer matter to God. Don’t buy the lies because they are as meaningless as the trivia questions you just read. What does matter? You matter to God, and that is an answer you can always count on!

 

 

 

questions you need to answer!

Polling shows that 75 percent or more of the U.S. population believe in God, believe that the Bible is the actual or inspired Word of God, and consider religion to be important to them. Yet only 30 percent attend church on a weekly basis and only 16 percent read the Bible daily. Obviously, there is a huge disconnect between what people say they believe and what how they actually live when it comes to the topic of religion.

This makes me think of what Jesus said in Matthew 7:21 (niv): “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Saying all the correct religious things isn’t what grants us access to God and, eventually, to heaven.

What does your life prove that you really believe? Are you building your life on the solid foundation of Jesus’s teachings or on the shifting sands of false beliefs (Matthew 7:24-27)?

You can know what to believe and how to live. Remember Foundational Principle 1 from “Start Here”: The Word is essential to success. The Bible is absolute truth. It’s how God teaches us what we need to know to live lives that are pleasing to Him. So let me give you some questions to answer concerning what you believe about religion. Then I will point you to the truth of Scripture to help you solidify what you believe.

1. Do I believe the Bible is the absolute truth of God?

Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:3, niv)

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. (2 Samuel 22:31, niv)

The entirety of Your word is truth, and all Your righteous judgments endure forever. (Psalm 119:160, hcsb)

Everything begins here. If you don’t believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God, then it’s only a matter of time before you lose confidence in who God is and His ability to guard and guide your life. You must know that you know that you know that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. Sure, just by saying this doesn’t mean that you are confident in what you say. But this is the starting point.

Of course, the more you are in the Word, the more you will believe in the Word. And, the more you are in the Word, the more confident you will be in knowing that the Bible isn’t just a book of words. The Bible is absolutely the words of God!

2. Do I believe all religions are the same?

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (Colossians 2:8, niv)

All religions are not the same. Some religious groups worship false gods. Some believe in God but don’t believe that Jesus was His Son. Some believe Jesus was a real person but don’t accept the fact that He died for us on the cross and was resurrected from the dead. Some don’t believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God.

Christianity accepts God as the only God and believes that Jesus is the Son of God, who came to earth, died for humankind, and conquered death by coming back to life and proving that He is the one true Savior of the world. We believe the Bible is God’s Word and the ultimate authority for everything we do. To be a Christian means one is a follower of Christ.

So before you believe the modern cliché that “all paths lead to God,” do yourself a favor and consider what other religions are teaching in contradiction to the exclusive claims of Christ in Scripture.

3. Do I believe there are multiple ways to get to heaven?

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6, hcsb)

Christianity is based on a person’s willingness to believe in and choose to live for Jesus. So Christians believe that faith in Jesus in the only way to get to heaven. You can’t just be a “good person” or just do “good deeds” (though, of course, if you believe in Jesus, you will want to do those things). There’s only one path to eternal life, and it’s through Jesus.