(jo)nathan(da)vid(mic)hael

Teachers are everywhere. What is wanted is a learner...
ebookporn:

Yes eCommerce is kicking ass but Independent Bookstores are stable and poised to what the chains are losing.  

ebookporn:

Yes eCommerce is kicking ass but Independent Bookstores are stable and poised to what the chains are losing.  

What if HBO’s hit drama, True Detective, was the popular 90s NBC police procedural?

This opening credits remake answers that question.

7 Things to Do When You’re Unemployed

As of last week, I found myself unemployed for the first time since I was 16. I wasn’t expecting to be let go from my job, but I am committed to viewing this moment in my life as an opportunity rather than a disappointment. 

With that in mind, I have a solid plan for what I’d like to do with my time while I seek permanent full-time employment. I’m offering them as ideas for you to consider as well, but I’m also aware that they are likely more influenced by my personality than a tried-and-true advice post should be. Still, I hope you are inspired to try some of these out, whether you’re gainfully employed or not. 

1. Read More Books

When I was employed, my 40+ hour work week left only a few precious hours at home, and I used that time to be with my family. Now, I plan to use about 30 minutes a day to read in the morning. Obviously I don’t know if this can be sustained once I find full-time employment, but I’m going to use the time while I have it. 

I’m especially interested in using this time to read business-related books that have a focus on entrepreneurship or disrupting traditional models for the sake of improved performance. My current reading list comes from recommendations made by Derek Sivers. I have a list of library holds for the following:

So Good They Can’t Ignore You, The Personal MBA, The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking, The Little Book of Talent, The War of Art, The Lean Startup, Drive, Switch, The 4-Hour Work Week, Made to Stick, The Art of Profitability, How to Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big, Wired for Story, and The Power of Habit.

2. Eat Well & Exercise

Yes, you should be doing these things even if you are employed. However, if you’re newly unemployed and at an emotional low-point, there’s nothing more effective at helping you avoid depression than physical exercise and a healthy diet. Get those endorphins working, make your body a project, and be encouraged by the consistent marked improvement in your fitness and mental health. If you need financial help, don’t be too proud to get food stamps to supplement your lost income while you look for a new job. It will be worth it. 

3. Create Something 

Not everyone’s an artist, but everyone does have the capacity for creativity. Activating your brain in new ways (or ways that are a bit rusty) will keep you engaged. So, try picking up painting, poetry or blogging, or engage in problem-solving exercises to improve your daily life around the house (does that garage need organizing?). When you do, you and those around you will benefit, and you won’t succumb to feeling useless.

4. Educate Yourself

Even if you don’t have the time or money to go back to college, that shouldn’t hinder you from learning more about a topic you’re passionate about or from gaining a new, marketable skill. There are tons of free resources (online, at your local library, etc.), and there really is no excuse for taking some time each week to learn. You may feel that being unemployed has set you back personally. Learning something new will help you by giving you a positive transformation in your life.

5. Spend Time with Loved Ones

We never have enough time for this, and when working, it’s often something we wish we could do. So, here’s your chance. Make a phone call, go for a visit. There are people who love you, and spending quality time with them will give you a joy that only authentic relationships can provide. This may seem like a total no-brainer, but it’s important and worth mentioning.

6. Volunteer

At a time when you most desperately need to exchange your labor for money, it may seem counterintuitive to offer it for free. Ignore your instincts and do it anyway. 

Volunteering allows you to put time and effort (that you don’t usually have) into something you care about that positively impacts others in your local community. When you’re unemployed, there’s a temptation to focus inward and emphasize what you’re lacking. Helping others helps give you a healthy perspective on what you DO have. In addition to that, it allows you to build relationships with leaders in the community.

7. Be Thankful

This is probably the most important thing you can do while unemployed. If you lost your job due to unfair circumstances, or even fair circumstances that you don’t agree with, it is far too easy to become embittered or overly negative. Yes, being unemployed feels crappy at times, but start with the basics and build a list of things for which you can be grateful.

Are you alive? Are you in relatively good health? Do you have food? Clothing? Shelter? I’ll stop here, but you should keep going. There are a number of things to be thankful for, and choosing gratitude every day gives you an incredibly uplifting perspective. It doesn’t mean you have to ignore or deny the problems you’re facing, but realizing that you have so much will encourage you to keep your head up and move forward with confidence.

That’s the list I have for now. If you’ve been unemployed before, or are now, what have you done to make good use of your unexpected free time?

A Response to “5 Sure-Fire Ways to Motivate Your Son to Use Pornography”

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Image credit: Beautiful Lies by Steven Lieske

I haven’t been this frustrated in a while…

Earlier this week The Gospel Coalition republished a blog post written by Rick Thomas called “5 Sure-Fire Ways to Motivate Your Son to Use Pornography

In the article, Rick Thomas, a “Christian trainer” who has been counseling and pastoring for nearly 20 years, describes the five things about a home environment that could potentially be training your child to use porn.

After reading through the article multiple times, there are a number of concerns I have with it. I am equally concerned that The Gospel Coalition would post it, in spite of what I believe are some pretty glaring red flags. I’ve listed them below, in no particular order. 

1. The Article Is Based In Fear

No one wants to be “doing it wrong,” especially when it comes to parenting. That’s why there’s a plethora of resources out there that offer help to parents on how to raise healthy, godly kids. Yet, this article suggests that all along, without even realizing it, well-meaning parents could be fostering a home environment that trains their child to become a porn-addict. It’s important to note that, whether intentional or not, the way this article is presented (including the headline) creates a sense of fear and insecurity from the very beginning. Those are strong emotions that, when manipulated, can cause people to trust the words of a man who says he has the solution to the problem you didn’t know you had.

Oh yes, we’ve got trouble. Right here in River City…

2. The Science Stinks

That is, in fact, because there is no science in this article. There’s no research backing Rick Thomas’ claims. That’s incredibly important, because the whole point of the article is to argue that there’s a cause and effect when it comes to porn addiction. According to the article, the cause is the home-environment you’ve created, and the “sure-fire” effect is porn addiction.

This is perhaps the biggest struggle I have with the article, because those five things Rick Thomas suggests you do in your home, really aren’t bad things. In fact, I agree that those are great things worth fostering in your home (public displays of affection with your spouse, not spoiling your kids, open communication, discipline and consequences, and regular encouragement). Yet, there’s a major difference between correlation and causation. 

If Rick Thomas wanted to suggest that those five things are correlated with porn addiction, I wouldn’t even be writing this. But he didn’t. He said if your home looks like this, you are porn-training your child. The headline clearly states that these things will motivate your son (but not your daughter, apparently) to use pornography. That’s an argument for causation, plain and simple.

3. Common Sense and the Comments Section

So, what’s wrong with causation?

Well, for one, causation has to be proven. In order to be proven, it has to be tested over and over with the same result occurring each time. Common sense should tell you that even if you have the healthiest home environment on the planet, there’s no guarantee that your child won’t use pornography. In 1 Peter 5:8, Satan is described as prowling “like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” In case you haven’t noticed, sexual sin is pretty pervasive in our culture these days…

If common sense isn’t your style, you don’t have to look any further than the comments section of the article to see evidence of people taking exception to author’s premise. A random ad gets clicked online and opens up a rabbit hole. Kids talk about a variety of X-rated material when adults aren’t around, especially when they’re in the midst of sexual discovery… the list goes on.

That’s the thing about sin: like water, it follows the path of least resistance. It’s even more problematic if your child isn’t saved, because then, despite your best efforts, they will probably seek out sin in one form or another. 

4. Addiction and Parental Guilt

If we’re talking about true porn addiction, which is a form of sexual addiction, then we need to understand it within the context of other addictions (alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc.). Addictions don’t just happen, and the issue is often much more complex than simply identifying what kind of home environment a child grows up in (although yes, a correlation is possible). 

Addictions are identified as a compulsive behavior that is performed with such frequency and intensity that it interferes with work commitments, personal relationships, and even self preservation. It is usually discussed in the context of either a disease or mental health issues. 

I say this because, while porn use is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, we need to be careful how loosely we use the term “porn addict.” If someone is truly suffering from porn addiction, then they need to seek professional help, and I have a really hard time suggesting that parents hold themselves responsible for their child’s addiction.

5. Formula vs. Grace

One of the most dangerous lies for parents, and Christians in general, to believe is that if they follow a specific set of instructions, they will get the ideal result. The inherent vulnerability in such thinking is that you can easily fall into a pattern of legalism: you believe your actions will save you, rather than God’s free gift of grace. 

This struggle between grace and merit affects every area of our lives. If we are to be marked by grace, then we need to rest in the fact that our successes or failures do not make God love us any more or any less. Too many times we behave like Job’s friends: we attribute negative circumstances as a punishment or consequence of sin.

For parents, our children’s successes and failures magnify this struggle. We often attribute their behavior to our ability as parents. If they fail, it’s because we didn’t do X, Y, or Z enough. When they succeed, it’s clearly because of our excellent parenting. 

Rick Thomas’ article paves the way for us to treat pornography with a formula, forget about grace, and live with fear and worry about whether we did enough. God has a specific plan in mind for us and our children, and the good and bad things (even porn use) that happen throughout the years occur because he loves us and our kids. He is actively working to conform His children into the image of Jesus. That is a blessing that should not be quickly forgotten, especially during tough parenting moments.

6. Not Free of Responsibility

By saying all of that, I’m not suggesting that parents aren’t responsible for doing everything in their power to protect and train their children to become responsible, healthy, and godly adults. Of course we’re responsible for teaching, disciplining, and guiding our kids. And, as I said before, I do actually agree with Rick Thomas’ suggestions about the kind of home environment you should have.

However, I find it rather conspicuous that in dealing with the subject of creating a home environment that keeps your kids away from porn, he ignored some pretty straightforward concepts, like:

  • Talking to your kids about pornography
  • Teaching your kids how to actively recognize and critique the messages in TV and media that oppose God’s values
  • Talking to your kids about sex
  • Talking through scenarios with your kids about what they should do if they are exposed to sexual content online, in movies, or on TV (with or without adults present)

You may notice that most of my suggestions revolve around a verbal exchange between you and your child. That’s because so far, I’ve found that one of the most effective ways to equip a child to make good decisions is to sit down and have a face-to-face conversation with them. Talk about the issue, give them a chance to share their thoughts or questions, and talk about it more than once.

Of course, those conversations should occur when your child is the appropriate age; but, keep in mind the average age when a child is first exposed to online pornography is 11, and I don’t see that number going up anytime soon.

The topic of our children’s use of porn can cause a lot of fear and anxiety in parents, but I hope you remember that God’s grace is abundant. He can and will equip you for the task. All you need to do is ask.

The Book of Genesis: Cracked, Upworthy, and Buzzfeed Style

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Image credit: Fall and Expulsion from the Garden of Eden by Michelangelo

Most Friday mornings I meet up with a couple of guys from church for coffee. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been reading through the book of Genesis, and it gave me an idea I thought I’d try out: write headlines for the chapters in the sensationalist style of such websites as Upworthy, Cracked, Buzzfeed, etc.

Sure, it’s a pretty stupid exercise; but, you’re the one who clicked the link, so it’s important to recognize that you’re partly to blame for this… Now that I think about it, that’s kind of a lesson for all of us.

Anyway, this exercise actually proved to be much harder than it looks. You should give it a try. It’s fairly formulaic, but repeating the formula for 50 different stories is not that easy. 

Test yourself: Try to guess the biblical story just by reading the headline. Then, click the linked chapter number to find out if you were right…

Chapter 1: Six Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Beginning of Time

Chapter 2: You’d Never Guess Where This Woman Came From And How You’re Related To Her

Chapter 3: I Really Hate Snakes. After Reading This, So Will You

Chapter 4: This Man Killed His Brother And You Won’t Believe Why 

Chapter 5: 6 Men From The Same Family Who Lived Over 900 Years. Here’s Proof

Chapter 6: Why Did God Want To Destroy Everyone Except This Man?

Chapter 7: How Did This Family Survive 150 Days On A Boat During the Greatest Natural Disaster In History?

Chapter 8: The Fate Of Humanity Depended On These Two Birds

Chapter 9: Read This Story And You’ll Never See Rainbows The Same Way Again

Chapter 10: All Culture, Science, And Art (And, Pretty Much Everything Else) Came From These 3 Men With Weird Names

Chapter 11: They Wanted To Be Legendary, So They Built A Tower - Until God Stopped Them With This One Crazy Trick

Chapter 12: This Man Left Everything He Knew To Find God’s Country…Here’s What He Found

Chapter 13: These Two Cousins Parted Ways And It Changed Their Lives Forever

Chapter 14: Four Absurd Obstacles Abram Had To Overcome In Order To Save His Cousin

Chapter 15: This Man Had A Vision From God And It Came With An Incredible Promise

Chapter 16: Every Single Conflict In The Middle East Can Be Explained From This One Prophecy

Chapter 17: This Is The Archaic Reason Why You Circumcise Your Son

Chapter 18:  This Barren Woman Laughed When God Promised Her A Son. His Response Will Surprise You

Chapter 19: You’ll Never Be Able to Eat Salt Again Without Remembering This Story

Chapter 20: Abram Told A Little White Lie And It Nearly Killed This Man

Chapter 21: Is This The Oldest First-Time Mother Ever? She’s Over 90 Years Old!

Chapter 22: If God Told You To Kill Your Son, Would You? This Man Nearly Did And You Won’t Believe What Stopped Him.

Chapter 23: This Is The Exact Location Where Abraham Buried His Wife 4,000 Years Ago

Chapter 24: This One Phrase Could’ve Kept Rebekah From Marrying Isaac

Chapter 25: This Man Robbed His Twin Brother Of His Inheritance Using Nothing But A Bowl Of Stew

Chapter 26: Isaac Tells The Same White Lie That His Father Told, To The Exact Same Man, And It Worked Again

Chapter 27: This Family Is Probably The Most Dysfunctional Family You’ll Read About Today

Chapter 28: Before 1971, This Is What A “Stairway To Heaven” Meant To Most People

Chapter 29: Jacob Worked For This Man For 14 Years. You’ll Never Guess What He Got In Return

Chapter 30: This Insane Breeding Trick Made Jacob Incredibly Wealthy

Chapter 31: After 20 Years Of Lying And Stealing, These Two Men Finally Make Peace

Chapter 32: He Wrestled God And Won, But He’ll Never Walk Straight Again

Chapter 33: Watch These Estranged Twin Brothers Meet For The First Time In Decades

Chapter 34: After Their Sister Was Raped, You Won’t Believe What These Men Do To An Entire City For Revenge

Chapter 35: You Probably Didn’t Know Israel Was Named After This Man

Chapter 36: 56 Names That Only The Nerdiest Theologians Will Care About

Chapter 37: Joseph Was His Father’s Favorite Son, But What His Brothers Did To Shut Him Up Was Unforgivable

Chapter 38: This Widow Wasn’t Receiving Her Husbands’ Life Insurance. What She Did To Get It Will Blow You Away

Chapter 39: His Boss’ Wife Tried To Seduce Him, Then Sued Him For Sexual Harassment. Now He’s Managing A Entire Jail As One Of Its Prisoners

Chapter 40: This Man Says He Can Interpret Dreams, And He’s Been Right Every Time…

Chapter 41: Meet The Ex-Con That Pharaoh Picked To Run The Entire Country Of Egypt

Chapter 42: The Country Of Israel Almost Never Existed. Here’s Why

Chapter 43: His Brothers Sold Him Into Slavery, But Now They Need Him If They’re Going To Survive…

Chapter 44: A “Random” Bag Search Got These Men In Trouble With The Egyptian Government For Stealing A Cup

Chapter 45: He Had The Chance To Get Revenge For Years Of Turmoil. Instead, He Did This…

Chapter 46: Decades Ago This Old Man Thought His Son Was Killed By Lions. Today, He Found Out His Son Is Alive And Is The Second Most Powerful Man In Egypt

Chapter 47: A Famine Would Have Destroyed Egypt If It Weren’t For This One Genius Plan

Chapter 48: Watch These Two Grandsons Receive A Totally Awkward Blessing From Their Grandfather

Chapter 49: Which Tribe Of Israel Are You? Take The Quiz Here!

Chapter 50: I Dare You To Read This Man’s Words Of Forgiveness Without Bawling Like A Baby. I Couldn’t.