From the Blog

In the Light

My home fellowship group has been doing a study on the gospel of Mark this year. As I was preparing for our lesson this week, I read the section in Mark where Christ is about to go to the Cross. One of the sections of that lesson talks about how important Jesus’ sacrifice really is. We cross-referenced other verses to study the point.

Ephesians 5:1-2
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (The Message)

Jesus gave everything to us in order that we might have a life that is impossible for us otherwise. The verses go on in Ephesians.

Ephesians 5:3-4
Don't allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. (The Message)

Ephesians 5: 8-10
You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You're out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it. (The Message)

We are bombarded with so many messages and so many images from television, from movies, and from the internet. We don’t take big steps into the darkness, but instead we slide into it. Every day I need to remind myself that I need to focus on “the good, the right, the true.”

A Rude Awaking

Girl Texting
“Mr. Miranda, help me please…” I sat listening to a voicemail from a frazzled and terrified mom who had on the previous night busted her 6th grade, 11 year old daughter for looking at gay porn—both guys and girls—and for having a Myspace page. After calling the mom back and speaking with her, I shared some basic information with her concerning the addictive properties of pornography, a little about my story (I’m a recovering addict—since 1999) and some suggestions for internet safety.

She was speechless! I had to make sure that she didn’t have a coronary right there on the spot. During our talk she cycled through a bunch of different emotions: disbelief, anger, frustration, fear, terror…and then back to anger—okay, she stayed at anger and frustration for a lot of the time. Mom said “I thought I knew my little girl…I mean, you hear about this kind of stuff happening to people who are crappy parents, but me and my husband are great parents,” and they really were. But staying on top of a teenager’s ever changing cultural and moral landscape is a lot like a salmon swimming up a waterfall: if you stop for just one second you go backwards!

Once I began to delve a little further I realized that my student’s father looked at porn on a regular basis and you can fool a fool, but you can’t kid a kid. Kids know their parents habits and ultimately their character. I reminded mom that both habits and character are caught not taught and if they wanted their daughter to stop looking at porn, it was going to have to start with dad.

I also informed mom that she and her husband needed to begin really spending time with their daughter and getting to know her. Mom admitted that the family was really busy—the word she used was “fractured;” I thought that her choice of words was interesting for two reasons: 1. both she and her husband are nurses and 2. this was an accurate yet sad descriptor of individuals, families, communities and our culture as a whole: fractured, we are broken!

Mom went on to admit that when her husband came home from a hard shift, he would disappear into his “man cave” for hours at a time “playing on his computer and the internet.” Mom and daughter were left all alone to fend for themselves. Mom went on to tell the oh-so-familiar story of a lack of intimate sexual or spiritual relationship with her husband and how that lack of intimacy was mirrored in her and her husband’s relationship—or lack thereof—with their daughter. I could only assume that a large portion or possibly all of the time, this father was looking at porn. He was looking for healing, for intimacy, but it would never be found there. Speaking with the student confirmed the same story. The student told me that she rarely saw her father when he got home and when he spoke with her it was only about “safe stuff like school and my grades and stuff…never about who I am or what I like to do…or about what I can’t do.” This family was broken! How could we put the pieces back together?

Getting to Know You

In my almost 18 years of experience in dealing with teens and families as both a Christian Counselor and as a middle and high school counselor, I’ve been asked the same question by parents, teachers, youth workers and anybody who just wants to get to know teens better: “Omar, how can I get to know my teen better?” And here again was this mother asking me the same thing. She said, “Mr. Miranda, I know you told me to get to know my daughter, but how do I do it? What do I say or don’t say?”

I’ve found that if I ask 5 questions, I can usually get to know what type of issues that teen is dealing with, the friends he/she spends time with and generally open the door to what’s going on in their life. These are the questions I told that mom and dad to ask their daughter and start the long and difficult road to healing the brokenness that they were all experiencing. Here are the questions in no particular order:


1. Tell me your favorite 3 video games you have played or are playing?
2. Tell me your 3 favorite bands/songs you are listening to?
3. Tell me your 3 favorite web-sites you have frequented?
4. Tell me about 3 favorite shows you are watching on the T.V.?
5. Do you have a myspace, facebook or other social networking site (SNS) page? Can you tell me about it? Can you give me your address?

Then when you have all that information, go surfing on the internet and prepare to be amazed at how much you learn! You might also be amazed at how much closer you and your teen are. If you want to dig deeper, ask your teen these questions once a week, then follow-up with questions like: “why do you like to listen/watch this…?” Get ready for some honesty! Remember, if you don’t want to truly know the answer, don’t ask the question

YouTube and the Porn Crisis

YouTube is the 3rd most trafficked site on the web, according to Alexa Internet statistics. Everybody is using YouTube. It has revolutionized media communication just as much as the television did back in the 1950’s.

But there is a big difference between broadcast television and the user submitted content on YouTube. The difference is regulation. When TV hit the scene five decades ago, your choices were “I Love Lucy” or “Gunsmoke.” Not exactly TV-MA material, much less XXX. We all know that the FCC has a tight grip on what television networks can and cannot show on network TV. Even though most of us are quick to point out the tolerance of questionable (ok, downright scandalous) content on network TV, it pales in comparison to the increasing selection of sensual videos and pics available at our fingertips on sites like YouTube.

Now don’t get me wrong, as a professional video producer myself, I think the concept and model of YouTube is brilliant. But for those of us (might I say all of us) who have major temptation issues when we see a video titled “lonely girl in bedroom,” the amazing innovation of YouTube also presents a huge stumbling block that begins to reveal why we are facing an epidemic of pornography addiction. And even though YouTube attempts to block actual nudity, porn producers do just about everything to drive you back to their site after clicking on one of their teaser videos.

Understand that I’m not pinning the moral fallout of our society on YouTube! I’m also not blaming them alone for the crisis of pornography and sexual addiction. Just a few minutes of surfing around on sites like MySpace, Flickr, and Friendster can be like running the gauntlet of sexual temptation all while sitting in the comfy secrecy of your bedroom. These sites are full of sultry images and videos just waiting to trip us up. I know I’m not saying anything earth shattering here and you may be wondering where I’m going with this.

I mainly just want to ask a question. Is it safe to assume that all of us struggle with sexual temptation on some level? I’m not just talking about guys here. Girls, you struggle too and that’s normal. If that is a safe assumption, and we know that porn is thrown at us constantly without discretion for age or situation, how can we win the battle and find real freedom from pornography and sexual addiction?

What do I think? I think it starts with ruthless accountability. If you haven't installed accountability software already, do it now! Through our partnership with Covenant Eyes, you can download a free 30-day trial here: Download Covenant Eyes Trial

 

Chicago: Our Largest Event Yet

We just returned from the Ascension Convention in Chicago where 1,500 students and youth pastors assembled for one powerful weekend. Something exciting happened for us as well. This event marks the first time Rush of Fools presented Freedom Begins Here from the concert stage.

As you will hear from the video, Kevin took several minutes to talk about the crisis of pornography and sexual addiction, announced our partnership and urged leaders to meet with us the next morning at 8AM. You can see the (very low quality) video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTLpr36OcvU

We figured only a few would come that early in the morning. We were wrong. It was standing room only. People came because they understand the crisis and they’re ready to tackle this monster that is stealing innocence from our youth.

Some of the stories we heard shook us to the core yet motivate us to keep doing what we do. A woman with tears in her eyes was helping her sister who had recently discovered her husband’s addiction to porn. She had never heard about FBH until that morning. Youth leaders told us how their kids are sending hundreds of pornographic pictures back and forth using cell phones. The kids don’t see anything wrong with it. We spoke with a middle school counselor who is dealing with kids having group sex…in middle school! This is happening right here, in our schools, in our churches, in our homes. It is no longer about those people who need help for their problem. This is our problem. That is why we need everyone to join this movement with us.

Thank you so much for your support, encouragement and prayers so far. We know that the work has only begun. Please invite as many people as you can to join the Freedom Begins Here cause.

Pre - Launch Events Gaining Momentum

We are now into our third week of the Pre-Launch Events and things are going really well! Church leaders are very excited and we are starting to see a groundswell of support for Freedom Begins Here in cities all over the country.

For those of you who may not know, these Pre-Launch Events coincide with the Newsboys/Rush of Fools “GO” Tour. They are part of a 36-city concert tour over the next three months. So far, our travels have taken us to Virginia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri.

YouTube 20/50 Crisis Pre-Launch Events

One of the attendees offered this -- “Friday was a great day! I feel so blessed that I was able to attend your event. Thank you for all the cool stuff, that was an unexpected surprise. I think Rush of Fools is going to be one of my favorites. Their music is so inspiring! Meeting Kevin and Jamie and hearing their passion for witnessing and helping people with their struggles with porn made me love them more.

What a blessing to be there and what a blessing you guys have been to me too. Thank You and I will pray for you and this wonderful ministry.”

We are headed to Texas this week. Our team will be in Lubbock, Abilene, Houston and San Antonio. If you know ANY CHURCH LEADERS in these areas, please let them know we are coming to town. In fact, if you know ANYONE at all in these areas please ask them to refer their churches by going to our website, www.freedombeginshere.org


What are these Pre-Launch Events all about?

In partnership with Gary Smalley, we have created a series of DVD ToolKits, entitled Freedom Begins Here, that will equip churches to respond the epidemic of pornography and sexual addiction.

Before our nationwide release of Freedom Begins Here, we are inviting a handful of Christian leaders to a series of Pre-Launch Events across the country.

What should you expect?

• A chance to sit down with other church leaders in your community and hear about why we, in partnership with Dr. Gary Smalley and Rush of Fools, are rallying churches around a movement to end the struggle with pornography.

• A casual environment. Most of the events are held at local coffee shops. And we’ll even buy you a cup of your favorite coffee!

• An opportunity to meet one of today’s most popular Christian bands, Rush of Fools and hear about why they chose to champion our cause.

• A chance to win some free stuff like t-shirts, CDs, books, and concert tickets.

Update from the Road

February 21 – Quincy, Illinois. It was a frigid snowy day in Quincy this Thursday. But that didn’t stop people from coming out. It was the largest and most diverse crowd yet. We had seasoned pastors sitting next to earring laden, longhaired GenY pastors and everything in between. Different as they could be in many ways, yet rallying around the same cause—helping their churches find freedom from pornography.

Thank you so much to Jan and the staff at Coffee on Broadway! You were so gracious to us.

February 22 – Merrillville, Indiana. Wow. It is amazing to see the response from people who come to hear what we’re all about. Two moms who are active in their church and community heard about us on the radio and decided to come. And we are so glad they did. They are championing the cause. They actually want us to come back to their communities with Rush of Fools and put on an event to talk about the issue. That is exactly what we need to get this movement off the ground.

February 23 – Des Moines, Iowa. Maybe it sounds cliché, but God is continually bringing the right people at the right time to these events. Today we met a man who is actually helping a church deal with a crisis involving the pastor’s pornography problem. In fact, he met with the church congregation the very next day and was planning to use some of the Freedom Begins Here material in the meeting. This man drove 100 miles to hear what we had to say. Amazing!

Pre-Lanuch Events - Round Two: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa

Well, we’re at it again. Last week we were in Lynchburg, Virginia. This week we will host Pre-Launch Events in Quincy, IL, Merrillville, IN, Des Moines, IA and Naperville, IL, respectively.

Why these cities you ask? Because we’re doing the Pre-Launch Events in parallel with the Rush of Fools / Newsboys concert tour. Our events will happen in the afternoon of the same day of the concert.

What is all of this about?

In partnership with Gary Smalley, we have created a series of DVD ToolKits, entitled Freedom Begins Here, that will equip churches to help people who struggle with pornography and sexual addiction. Before our nationwide release of Freedom Begins Here, we are inviting a handful of Christian leaders to this invitation-only Pre-Launch Event. On our website are the cities on the Newsboys/Rush of Fools Tour where we will be. You can meet some of the guys from Rush of Fools, hear about their passion for this cause, and learn how Freedom Begins Here can prepare your church and help you create a safe place that is ready and equipped to respond to the potential flood of responses.