You Made Us Stink!

I have been teaching through the book of Exodus with the youth group. I have just been taking it chapter by chapter and really without an outline. I wanted the scriptures to just speak for themselves. When students would ask questions, we would stop and examine the scripture more closely. When we ran across the following scripture, they asked a ton of questions.

Then, as they came out from Pharaoh, they met Moses and Aaron who stood there to meet them. And they said to them, “Let the LORD look on you and judge because you have made us abhorrent in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.” -Exodus 5:20-21

The students asked what “abhorrent” meant. I said, “to quote the Grinch, “Stink, Stank, Stunk”. That’s what it means in Hebrew. So I decided we needed to look into this passage a bit more. Here is what we found. The leaders of Israel in Egypt were mad at Moses and Aaron because they had made the leaders of Israel look bad in the sight of Pharaoh. Yeah, that Pharoah. The slave-driving, ruler of them, who held them in captivity. The leaders were upset that Moses and Aaron had made them look bad to Pharoah. So here are our takeaways.

First, I was not surprised. Having read and studied the Old Testament and the Israelites, I have seen their behavior patterns. The leaders here would be the same ones that wanted to return to Egypt while in the desert. So, it was no shock to me that the leaders reacted this way.

Second, we care how we “look’ to people that we don’t really care about anyway! I know our teens care about how they look to their peer groups. They dress like the crowds, they talk like the crowds, and they all just want to fit in. I get it. We as adults do it too! As parents we want our kids to not be social outcasts, we want them to have friends. We want them to enjoy school. We want them to fit in. Why? Because it is easier to fit in than to stand out. We as Christians should stand out. We should be different. We should be noticeable. What we should not do is try so hard to fit in with the world. We must be unique as Jesus is unique.

Let’s talk about student loans and your teens.

With so much talk about student loans recently, I thought I would give you my thoughts on the whole debacle. Recently, the President said that the US Government would forgive up to $300 billion worth of federal student loans. Each person who qualifies will receive at max ten thousand forgiveness. While it seems like a good deal, it is just a political tool for midterms. I am not against student loan forgiveness, I am just not sure if it will have an impact on the American people. Currently, there is about 1.7 trillion dollars worth of “federal” student loan. After the debt forgiveness, there will be around 1.3 trillion dollars. My main issue is this if federal student loans are a crisis, and it is, then why are we still giving them out? This is the whole issue I have. Let me share a few different views on the whole student loan debacle.

  1. Parents, pay attention. Please do not let your kid get into student debt. If you really want them to be successful, do these things. Encourage them to go to a local community college. Live at home, work a job, save their money, and work the plan. Matter of fact, have them dual enrolled while in high school because it will help them get done and out of college quicker.
  2. Do not fall for the marketing. Somewhere along the way marketing has infiltrated our culture and how we see college. For some reason, we have been sold the idea that where we go to college matters. For the most part, it does not matter. Over the past five years, I have asked many professionals if the people hired ever asked where they went to college. The answer is still a one hundred percent no. The talk of where they went to school only comes up when they are talking about football. So, we as parents have to be aware that college is marketed to us. We believe it should be only four years. Why? Because that is what we have been sold. If you would tell your kids to go through college debt free and pay cash, they will come out in 6 years with a bachelor’s. Sure it may take a little while longer, but the end of their college looks different than the normal students. They will be debt free, with a degree, and then can take a job they want and not just a job that pays them. That is a huge difference and will help your kid win.
  3. I want my kid to go to ____________ University. Parents, brace yourself, if you are not paying for your kid’s college, which is your prerogative, you can only advise your kids on where they attend school. If you are paying, then you have a say in it. I have seen so many parents insist their kids go to that university, you know the one that the parents are probably still paying student loans to because they went there and want their kids to go to. As always, figure out your child and what is best for them.
  4. College is hard. This whole “college experience” thing is a marketing ploy. The actual college experience is tired students, frustrations, tons of studying, no money, test, quizzes, homework, busyness, poor diet, and so much more. Sounds fun huh? It is not. College courses are getting harder, more intense, and more involved. Your kids are going to struggle for a while in that environment.

These are just some things that we parents can do to help our students make a better, more informed, debt-free, decisions to help them win in the future.

The thing about selfies….

For the past few months, I have tried to grasp an idea that has been floating around in my mind. When I was growing up, we had Polaroid cameras. You know the type where you took a photo, and it came out on the white framed paper, and against the manufacturer’s suggestions, we shook it. I am old enough to remember when you had to take a roll of film to be developed, drop it off, and then return later to pick it up. There was also a crazy business that would develop your photos in an hour. Crazy. So now when I look back through the albums around my house and at my parent’s house, I notice that the photos are of the things we saw, the places we went, and the occasional family photo. What you do not see are hundreds of selfies. The selfies are the things that irk me. It is not the occasional selfie, but the constant selfies. We all have seen the person who posts selfies all day, every day. Our teenage girls are so obsessed with their image and appearance that they are suffering record-high cases of anxiety and depression. Our teenage girls are so wrapped up in their selfies, that when one that does not garner enough likes will be deleted. The amount of filters photoshops, touch-ups, lighting, and all the technology to make these girls look good are absurd. Somewhere along the way our daughters have been sold a lie. That lie is that their worth or value is wrapped up in their looks. This is not a new lie that women are hearing, but an old one. The new wrinkle is the total focus on self. Then our girls hear about a Proverbs 31 woman or a “virtous” woman and have no clue what that even means or how to become that. Then the culture is telling them that they need no man, they are all they ever need, and the world is against them because they are a woman. Meanwhile, our girls are lost, anxious, depressed, and eating disorders are raging throughout our teenage girls.

If you hang around teenage girls any amount of time, you will notice how addicted they are to their phones. It is their lifeline to their friends and the world around them. At my house, my daughter is trying to convince me that she needs a social media account. She will never convince me of that because of all the issues that social media leads to in our daughters. Here’s a side note, it is not just limited to our teenage girls either. We see grown women comparing themselves to other women on social media, and judging their life according to social media standards. As a parent, we just have to stay vigilant and help our daughters see how wonderful they are and how much value they really have. It is not an easy task but a huge undertaking!

Feet pics, messaging, and your teen.

Kids say the darndest things. They especially say those things when there is a sense of anonymity to them. A friend of mine asked recently if she should go through her teenage daughters phone, and my resounding answer was, YES!!!!!!! Now it is not only for snooping for anything your child has sent that may be inappropriate, but to see what people are sending your teen. See, our teens see, hear, and observe the world and then act accordingly. They are getting request for nudes, feet pics, live chats from the shower, request for meet ups, and attention from people they may know and may not know. So, as a parent you have to protect your child from the wolves out there. That cell phone is a huge window to your childs world. It provides so many opportunities for a glimpse into the private life of your kids. Social media is the number one tool for child predators to locate your kids, see private details about their lives, and move predatorily towards those kids. Now the best solution is to simply through their phone away, however in todays world, that is just not practical. Kids need their phones, and they need to learn how to behave on their phones. What they say, what they post, the amount of screen time, the content on their phone, has to be filtered through the parents. One of the comments on my friends question was that at their house phones are left to charge in a public area overnight. That is a great idea. We as parents have to be diligent about our child’s electronic consumption.

To the parents of prepubescent and teenage boys, do you realize how quickly and easily our sons can access porn? Less than 10 seconds. Do you know how highly addictive that porn is? Do you know how your kids hide that porn on their phones? Do you know how that effects a teenage boys brain for decades to come? Did you know that studies show that age 12 is the first time they view porn? Did you know porn destroys a young mans sex drive? Did you know that boys ages 17-29 are the most prescribed Viagra patients? Did you know that the long term effects of porn addiction lead to a ton of relationship problems? Did you know that your child’s friends are sharing porn with them? Did you know most porn is viewed in the hours between 8am and 5 pm? Did you know porn dehumanizes women? Did you know that porn accelerates sexual gratification? There are so many issues to cover with your boys.

To the parents of prepubescent and teenage girls, did you know your daughters are being sexualized at early ages? Did you know our daughters are becoming sexually active at younger ages? Did you know people look for sexual images of our daughters? Did you know that swimsuit pics are the number one way child sexual predators find victims? Did you know that our daughters are groomed by culture to become sexually identified earlier and earlier? Did you know that our daughters are being taught sex is their greatest tool? Did you know that our daughters are learning to use sex to get what they want? Did you know that our daughters crave male attention? Did you know that porn consumption among teenage girls is at its highest usage ever? I mean our girls are under attack from every angle.

So, I hope that maybe you stopped to think about all of this as a whole. Parenting is a hard job, with great rewards and ruthless consequences. We MUST protect our kids from the world around them and themselves. It is our job to help them become the best versions of themselves.

A Window To Your World

I was at a high school the other day talking to students about Abstinence and Social Media is always a topic. I told them the story of a time in High School when a girl named Heather wanted me to call her one night. Of course, I did. Her dad answered the phone and I asked for Heather, he told me she died and promptly hung up. The next day she asked me why I didn’t call her, I said I had and that her dad had told me she was dead, so that was that. The students laughed and said that’s funny. I agreed. That led me to the point of, today’s teens have unprecedented access to each other. There is no middle man, no gatekeeper, no dad telling a teen their daughter is unavailable, no nothing. Teens Facetime each other in the bed, in their rooms, while in the bathroom, driving down the street, and at all times. Teens simply have no private boundaries. I mean as a teenage boy that kind of access is just an invitation to a private world. Cell phones give access to areas of teenagers’ lives that is unprecedented and what I believe is unhealthy. So, teens and parents, let me give you 3 things to help keep yourself or your teen safe and healthy.

  1. Access Denied.

Parents, did you know that the world we grew up in no longer exists? Our teens are in a whole new world. A world where access is easy and unfiltered? When we were growing up, there was no access to a girl’s room. If you were lucky enough to go to a girl’s house, you’d never make it to her bedroom. You would be stuck with her parents watching Wheel of Fortune, true story, or be outside on the porch. Now, our teens have Facetime and that gives unfiltered access to private areas of their lives. Talking to teens, they Facetime everywhere, driving, in bed, showering, getting ready, and as one girl said, even going to the bathroom. So as a parent, you have to limit that. Facetime or video chat should be in public areas of your home. No bedrooms, bathrooms, or private areas. No Facetime when driving shouldn’t have to be said but, no Facetime while driving. Set limits on time also. Your teens will Facetime all night long until one passes out! We know your teens need a lot of rest.

2. Eliminate Creepers

Peeping Toms are nothing new. However, in today’s age, they are not as prevalent as they used to be. Why? Well, porn is easier accessed, and if there is a girl they are interested in, there will be photos and videos. So instead of a creeper fogging up the window outside a girl’s bedroom, they fog up the window to their world, social media accounts. I ask the teenage girls what they would do if they were in their room changing and saw a creeper out their window, and the answer is always the same, scream and run. Yet, they post videos and pictures in provocative outfits on social media and do not think anyone will creep them. Hahahahahahahaahh. “Well, my accounts are private” Hahahahahahahahahahahahah. There are so many workarounds for private accounts, and this point always makes the girls get stunned into silence, you have no clue which of your friends is a creeper either.

So parents, eliminate pictures of your daughters in their undies, provocative outfits, and swimsuits. Do I like that? No. Is our world dangerous? Yes. Are our daughter’s huge targets for sexual traffickers? Yes. I am only talking about your under 18-year-old daughters. After high school, they should know how it is and act accordingly.

3. Access Granted

Parents, your child will have multiple accounts on social media. I am not talking about one account on Instagram, one on Snapchat, and so on. Nope, they will have multiple accounts on each platform. Sometimes they are referred to as “spam” accounts by the youth. Here is a practical tip, have access to all of your children’s social media accounts. You should have total access to their phones at all times. If they fight you on that, and they will, you are the parent. You pay for the phone, you have access to the phone. Pretty simple concept. If they pay for their own phone, you are still their parent and you have access to their phone. If they fight you about access to their phone, they have something to hide. That is a fact. So have access to all your kid’s electronic devices.

These are just a few practical tips for you as parents. It all is about open communication. So talk to your kids about staying safe and having their own private refuge that the outside world does not have access to. They need a place to decompress.

Change the World by Starting Small

If You want to Change the World You have to Learn to Carry Your Cheese

• 1 Samuel 17:18 “And carry these ten cheeses to the captain of their thousand, and see how your brothers fare and bring back news of them.”

I. God Wants you to be faithful in the SMALL things.

David started the day carrying cheese but ended the day carrying Goliath’s head.
• His father told him to “Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit.” (1 Sam 17:18) So, David was a delivery driver. He delivered sandwiches, soda, and cheeses and ultimately delivered Israel from the Philistines. Later that same day the Bible tells us that as soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head. (1 Sam 17:57)- Just 39 verses!!

• David wasn’t trying to be a leader or a hero. He was simply trying to obey his father and serve his brothers. He seemed perfectly content to carry cheese to those who were on the front lines.

If obedience and service is our goal, then greatness is often the result.

• David was doing a simple task when he was faced with a monumental challenge.
• See God gives us the small tasks to do to see if we will be faithful. Small things such as attendance, tithing, serving.

• Goliath was speaking against the Israelites and against God.
• David had Righteous Indigitation against Goliath.
• Righteous indignation is a reactive emotion of anger over mistreatment, insult, or malice of another.
• Do we have righteous indignation over people insulting Christianity, Jesus, and ultimately God?

But if greatness is the goal, pride is often the result.

• Look at the small items God uses in the Bible to accomplish big things.
• Small stones to defeat Goliath.
• Small jar of Alabaster to anoint Jesus
• Small amount of fish and bread to feed multitudes.
• In our society a growing feeling of entitlement, such as, “I deserve a promotion (without the process)” … “I deserve the position, prestige, and responsibility without having to pay the price and be faithful today.”
• Today our oatmeal is ready to eat in 60 seconds, our prescription lenses are ready to be picked up in 60 minutes, and our house can be built in 60 days. We are a culture that is used to getting what we want instantly. We aren’t used to working patiently or waiting on anything—even a hamburger.

• Jesus taught, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much, and he who is unrighteous in a little thing is unrighteous also in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous riches, who will entrust the true riches to you?” (Luke 16:11).

• What we want today is much more without the very little. We want the tip without the toil, the gain without the grind, the sweets without the sweat, the prize without the pain, and the perks without the perseverance. Today, duty, diligence, hard work, and attention to detail are rare commodities in any endeavor—whether it be at home, at work, or at church.
• Grit, Grind, and then Glory!!
• See there is nothing Small when God Is In it!!
• No small missions
• No small churches
• No small deeds
• No small needs
• Being faithful in the small things requires the power of perspective.

• If serving is beneath you, leadership is beyond you.

• In the small things God is cultivating the larger things.
• He is giving you tools to be successful in the bigger, larger things.

God has called us to slay the giants!!

• But we often want to do the big things but don’t want to do the small things to be faithful. We have to learn to carry the cheese.

Carry The Cheese

We all have obstacles, mountains, problems, handicaps, and giants to overcome in our lives. Whether those are in our personal or professional lives, we still have to have a plan to overcome them. For a couple of years now I have been teaching a lesson on “Overcoming Giants” based on the story of David and Goliath. There are so many lessons out there on that subject from the history of Goliath to why David picked up five stones to why the stones were smooth. So I decided to look at it from a different view, why was David even there? Why was this shepherd boy out on the battlefield to even begin with? Those questions led to some eye-opening truths that changed my view of obstacles or giants to overcome!

 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. Take along these ten kinds of cheese to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them

– 1 Samuel 17:17-18

David, the little shepherd boy was out tending the flock. His father, Jesse, called him home and sent him to the battlefront to get an update on the status of his older sons. Jesse sent David with some sandwiches, Cokes, and a cheese sampler, think charcuterie board, to the battlefield and to the general to butter him up for information. While there David hears Goliath talking trash and has righteous indignation and the rest is history.

So what are we to learn from this lesson? The top layer lesson is this, God wants to give us large victories but in order to get those victories, we must do the little things first. David did not wake up that day expecting to become a national hero and legend by the end of the day. No, he woke up and began his day just like every other day, out in the fields with his sheep. Head down doing his work and doing what he was supposed to do. Over the next few weeks, we will look at some lessons on how to carry the cheese.

Biblical Foundations of Finance

“Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him?

Everything under heaven is Mine.”

-Job 41:11

One of the things I find out while working for a church and talking to people struggling financially is how people view money and money management. Not every person in the church or those who claim to be a Christian are on the same page when it comes to money. There are a couple of reasons why. Follow me here. Before you were saved and redeemed, you did not use the Bible to find financial advice. Most people that are unsaved do not go to the Bible to find financial advice and not surprisingly, Christians don’t either! Guess what, the Bible is packed full of financial knowledge. There are over 2,000 Bible verses dealing with money, possessions, and tithing. That’s as twice as many verses that cover prayer and faith! That is a whole bunch of financial information packed in the Bible. That’s right, the Bible talks more about money than it does prayer and faith!! Do you reckon that means that finances are important to God?  How about this fact: 16 out of 38 parables that Jesus taught dealt with money and possessions. Or the fact that nearly 25% of Jesus’ words, you know the words in red, deal with Biblical stewardship. Biblical Stewardship is understanding that your life and all that you own does not belong to you but to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and you are to manage it for His kingdom ministry. So where would one start dissecting this information? Glad you asked. I placed Job 41:11 at the beginning of this chapter. Why? Because it shows all Christians where their money comes from. Everything under the sun is owned by God, including the sun! It is THE Biblical Foundation of Christianity. So that means all of our money belongs to God. So, in essence, we are money managers for God. Seems like God would have taught us a lesson based on being a money manager, oh wait, isn’t that the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. How about that. The Creator of the Universe and Author of the Bible has given us a lesson on being a money manager. So, if we are called to manage money for God, how are we to go about it? Let’s look. 

Where do I start to manage my money according to the Bible? The short and long answer to it is to create a budget. A budget is defined as “an estimate of income and expenses for a set period of time”. A budget is rooted in the Bible. Look at these verses:

 Luke 14:28 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it?” 

Proverbs 15:22 “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers, they succeed.” 

Proverbs 27:23 “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention 

to your herds,”

That means having a budget. You must have one to succeed with money. How can you count your money if you do not know where it goes or where it is. Proverbs 27:23 tells us to keep an eye on your flocks and herds. Now while that is rooted in being a shepherd, it still applies to us in this modern world. How many times have you said, “I don’t know where my money went.” You are not alone. The people that say that are usually not counting their flocks or herds, which is their money. They do not keep a count of their money. A quick Google search shows that banks took in 12.4 BILLION dollars in overdraft fees in 2020. That tells me that it is a symptom of not keeping attention on our herds aka bank accounts. So, step one is to get a budget together. If you are married, both of you need to get on the same page. You will never find long-term success as a team if you both are pulling in different directions. 

Money, New Years Resolutions, and God

For some people, ringing in the new year includes more than singing “Auld Lang Syne”, having a toast, and kissing someone they love. Plenty of people across America will make New Year’s resolutions. There are plenty of New Year’s superstitions that Americans will participate in too. All across the southern states, Americans will eat black eye peas and collard greens with a side of gold cornbread. The black eye peas or Hoppin’ Johns, which represent prosperity because they swell when you cook them and we want our finances to swell. The collard greens represent folding money, greenbacks, benjis, cheddar, dead presidents, the paper, the loot, the bread, moolah, which are all slang terms for cold hard cash. The cornbread represents gold bars and riches. Some other New Years’ superstitions surrounding money include wearing green underwear, placing cash in their wallets, or eating something that forms a circle, like a donut. The usual suspects when it comes to New Years Resolutions are to lose weight, exercise more, and save money are the top resolutions made every year. Yet, most people stop going to the gym in February, most people do not lose weight, and most are in the same financial shape at the end of the New Year as they were at the beginning or they are worse off. Why? Habits. Habits never change and therefore behavior never changes. Habits die hard. Studies show that it takes 21 days to change a habit or develop a habit. Changing our diets, exercise routine, and money management routines that have been ingrained into our lives for so long take such a huge concerted effort that we do not have the sustained energy for over the long haul. We do not have the endurance for it. It is cold outside this time of year, so who wants to be out walking or out running? Matter of fact, who wants to run anyway? So, we go to the gym. The gym is overwhelming though, there are so many machines and weights and people and sweat, and mirrors and treadmills, and things we have no clue what they are or what they do. You just stand there and look and become discouraged. Diets are extremely hard to stick to. You can’t have Little Debbie’s Oatmeal crème Pies on any diet I have found. You must count calories, watch what you eat, and change what goes into your body. So, when it comes to money, we struggle in the same ways. Struggling to make changes to our financial situation is just as difficult as our dietary and exercise struggles. Actually, money habits may be the most difficult to overcome. We have dealt with money, or the lack of it, for so long, that the ways or plans we use are not really helping us. We are just kicking the can down the road. So how do we change the habits we have when it comes to money? The first place we need to look is at the foundation from which we base our money principles. We learn most of our money habits from our parents. Whether they talk to us about finances or not, we learn from them. We listen to all sorts of people’s financial advice, read financial gurus books, go to conferences, listen to podcasts, and search. A quick Google search will reveal thousands of financial coaching books, websites, Youtube links, and you name it. Before you know it, boom, you’ve dropped a hundred dollars on some scheme to get your finances under control. However, you probably already have the best book on financial counseling that money can buy collecting dust somewhere in your home, the Bible. God’s Word has plenty to say in it about money, saving, budgeting, stewardship, giving, debt, and is free on most electronic devices! So let us look over the next six weeks and see what God has to say about handling money His way.

Playing House

I saw a young lady’s Facebook post yesterday saying that people should live together before they get married. Her argument was basically that in order to know someone you must live with them first. So basically, a free test drive. I strongly disagree. After 15 years of marriage, I can tell you there will always be things your spouse does that will drive you crazy. Let me give you a list of things I do that drive my wife nuts:

  • Socks right next to the dirty hamper
  • Shoes by the door
  • Hat on counter
  • Fishing gear on my desk
  • Toilet seat up
  • Towel over the shower bar
  • Yeti cups everywhere
  • Not making the bed as soon as my feet hit the floor
  • Beard trimmings in the sink
  • Toilet paper applied the “wrong” direction
  • Never turning a light on
  • Playing Video Games

I could go on and on, there are millions of things that I do that drive my wife bonkers. On the other hand, there are things she does that drive me crazy. Living together beforehand would not change those things. It is who they are. In our society we see people living together all the time and see it fall apart all the time. Why? One simple word, commitment. A word that has lost its’ meaning and power in today’s society. It is a big word to God and should be a huge word to us. I have said for the longest time that God loves to bless two things, Givers and Marriages. God loves to give to a cheerful giver and God loves to bless marriages. There was a time in America when living together before marriage was frowned upon. It was seen as putting the cart before the horse. That has obviously shifted, yet that does not make it the right thing to do. The plan according to scripture is to get married and make a home and life under God, focused on God, and for God. God’s plan for us sexually is to wait in preparation until marriage, get married, have lots of sex, enjoy your spouse, have kids, and live life to the fullest. We see that play out very seldomly though. What we see is people shack up, break up, rinse and repeat. Meanwhile, there are kids born out of wedlock, that are left out of a two-parent or nuclear home. Studies have shown how much better off a child that grows up in a nuclear home is into adulthood. Financially, we see that people who are not married yet move into a home together and buy it together, usually end up breaking up and fighting over house and stuff.

So stop playing house, get married, be blessed by God, and live happily and fully in His embrace. It is not what the world will tell you to do. It is what God is telling us to do! Re

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