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Here is a simple concept, if you want to stay proficient in something you have to practice at it everyday. We’ve made catchy little sayings about it like “practice makes perfect” and I think we all wish we had more time to practice the things that we love and enjoy but lives are busy and everyday we face new challenges that steal away from our time. As a Christian this problem becomes more magnified as we try to make time to read the Bible on a regular basis. So I’d like to invite you into a little club, a not-so-secret society that will solve these problems, it’s called;

The “Ten Minutes a Day” club.

This club was first introduced to me by a Greek professor and the premise was simple, read your Greek Bible 10 minutes a day and you will keep your skills sharp throughout your lifetime. Now take this concept to reading your English Bible 10 minutes, everyday, and your growth in God’s Word will be unmistakeable. 10 minutes is not a lot considering you are given 24 hours each day, taking 10 minutes out of your day is very easy and everyone can find the time to work into their schedule. And the great thing about the Bible is that as you read it, you learn to love it more as God works his Word inside of your life and before you know it those 10 minutes blossom into even more.

So that’s it…no gimmicks or tricks just 10 tiny minutes of your time each and everyday. Will you take on the challenge and join the club? There are no fees or membership dues, simply open your Bible and read it for 10 minutes everyday. I’d love to hear your thoughts and any tips you have on keeping yourself in actively pursuing God each day.

God Bless!

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Summer is in full swing; people are barbecuing, kids are out of school, the temperature is always HOT and life tends to lounge around like a sunbather by the pool. Today is the day that America celebrates it’s independence, the 4th of July, and its a day that encapsulates the feeling of summer. Cook-outs, swimming pools and fireworks round out the perfect summer day. For many summer is the greatest 3 months of the year, the fun never stops and life is carefree…but herein lurks a disturbing problem.

Spiritually speaking, summer is the darkest time of the year. Our focus turns inward; how can I have fun, where can I go on vacation and how can I delay responsibility for another day, week or month. And while fun activities and vacations are important for any person or family we neglect one very important fact, the Devil doesn’t go on vacation and evil never takes a break! Yet, ask any pastor in America and they will tell you that church attendance plummets during the summer. A friend of mine who is a youth pastor told me that he has to cancel all youth programs during the summer because only a handful of kids would show up and that’s from a church with a large youth ministry! I know people who don’t set foot in church between Memorial day and Labor day and for no other reason than it’s “Summer.” And this goes deeper than simple church attendance, people stop fellowshipping, they stop reading their Bible and most importantly they completely lose focus on their relationship with God. Spiritually, the summer is a dark place and we are deceived to believe otherwise.

How then, can we bring “light” back into our summer?  The first step is to remember to keep your focus on God, keep your relationship with Him strong and vibrant through prayer, fellowship and service. The next step is by opening your Bible and reading it!! Engage Scripture daily with a time of devotion and meditation. And the third and final step is to make yourself a plan! Plan what parts of Scripture you will read, study something that you never have before and make a list of books that will take your walk with God to the next level. Taking the time to cultivate your relationship with God now during the summer will pay huge dividends for you through the rest of the year. Your spirit, life and walk will be filled with light, not darkness.

Oh, and one last thing…go to church during the summer, they’re open, I promise!

Statistics though do not have faces. While it may be easy for some to read a statistical analysis of a criminal activity without feeling any compassion, sympathy or anger the stories of Sex Trafficking victims do not allow the same respite.

One such story is of Andrea, a girl who was abandoned by her family at age 4(9).  Andrea recounts being shuttled back and forth between the US on numerous occasions. At the age of 7 Andrea was taken to a hotel to meet a john who read the Bible to her before he had sex with her and then read the Bible again after he was done. “Sex as a child always hurt” but Andrea’s captors would “train” her usually by rape or other sadistic methods. Though she was young Andrea recalled many times she would be taken to help “shop” for other young children, explaining how in Juarez Mexico her captors purchased a young 4 year old boy from a family for $500. When she was shuttled back into the US many of the children would be dropped off at service stations to men waiting in the restrooms…some of the children would return to the transport van while many would leave the van never to be seen again. The children who did return would be taken to stash houses, regular looking houses in regular middle class neighborhoods. Usually there were three age groups that her captors would hold down in the basement of the homes, toddler to 4, 5 to 12, and then the teens and “damaged group.” In the “damaged group” the men could beat you and do pretty much whatever they desired to do. The children held in the basement were malnourished, beaten both emotionally and physically but they would much rather stay in the basement…when they were summoned out it meant they would be used for another waiting customer. The average time span a child will be used in the Sex Trade industry is usually 2-4 years before they are either abandoned or killed, Andrea endured this type of life for 12 years, never experiencing a childhood.

The abuse that Andrea received runs much deeper than mere physical trauma. Her life was threatened regularly, the lives of family members and friends would be constantly threatened to keep her behavior regulated. Even with the opportunity of freedom the psychological terror that her captors literally beat into her kept her from ever trying to gain freedom. Many of the children would never even consider running to the police for fear of further brutalization as many law enforcement agencies would share in the corruption, turning their heads for large weekly payoffs from the Human/Sex Traffickers. Today, Andrea still lives in fear from her past captors as they are still at large and probably still terrorizing more young children.

Unfortunately this story is not the exception…its becoming the rule. Millions of children are treated just like Andrea was…every day, millions; hearing about one child treated like this is absurd but the harsh reality is that globally women and children are being abducted, sold, pimped and forced into a living hell. But the question must be asked, who would ever do such a thing? Who could ever perpetrate such an act and how does one become a customer to purchase something that God never intended to be sold? The answers may be as unnerving as the crimes they commit.

Of course, trying to find reliable estimates or figures on who is a Human/Sex Trafficker or customer of traffickers remains to be a rather murky engagement. What we do know is that the crime does not harbor favorites, people of every age, race and gender are involved in the Human/Sex Trafficking crime organizations. Referencing back to the DOJ’s “Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents, 2008-2010,” we see that the highest percent of traffickers were either African-American or Hispanic with Asian, White and “Other” finishing out the list.10  The figure which stands out the most is the gender of the traffickers. Men comprised of 80 percent of the traffickers while women made up nearly 20 percent of the arrested traffickers! When most people think of a child being brutalized, beaten, raped and starved it is almost against our nature to believe a woman could be involved in such a brutal crime, yet the statistics show otherwise. In fact, women often serve a key role in Sex Trafficking organizations as they are the ones who gain the “trust” of the child or woman when they are first brought in. But it is the women who also cause the most psychological damage as they are in charge of “grooming” the child/woman on how to act and what they are to do.

Statistical analysis on the customers of Sex Trafficking is even more scarce. Most of the information referenced involves trafficking outside of the United States as most customers of third-world countries “sex tourism” are customers from northern Europe and the United States.11  While many would believe that only pedophiles would be the customers of such sexual exploitation this assumption would be false. The vast majority of men traveling abroad have no criminal record and purposefully schedule trips specifically to be a “sex tourist.” Hot spots for such activity include Thailand, Cambodia, and most recently Brazil has begun to emerge as the leader in “sex tourism” travel. Frequently, travelers will disguise their trips as “Amazon fishing tours” while in fact they are targeting children that are made available to sexual exploitation.

The excuses that men give for their preying upon children and impoverished women are pathetic. It reminds me of those Dateline specials with Chris Hansen, “To Catch a Predator.” Men on this show are caught red handed, showing up to the house of a minor with the sole intent of having sex with them and even though there is a mountain of evidence against them the men will do whatever they can to point the finger elsewhere. Experts have given four possible ideas as to the motivation of these predators. 1) Travelers believe they are relieving the children of economic hardship when paying them for sex, 2) They believe that some countries are less “sexually inhibited,” 3) The thought of anonymity and freedom of their home’s moral standards, 4) Often travelers have racist beliefs, that certain cultures or people are “less than human” and can be treated accordingly.12  How a person can justify traveling to another country solely for the purpose of “sexual tourism” is beyond understanding and completely sickening. Can people be so utterly wicked, sinful and evil that they can exploit children sexually and then come up with excuses as to why its ok?

Unfortunately, one of the reasons that people continue to traffic people for the purpose of sex is that the governments of many countries have turned a blind eye or even a paid eye to the problem. As stated before, Human/Sex Trafficking is a $32 Billion a year industry and traffickers pay whatever is necessary to make sure their flow of money goes undisturbed. Couple this with the fact that many law enforcement personnel do not think there is a major problem of Human/Sex Traffickers and you get a toxic mix of corruption and ignorance that leaves many vulnerable women and children in a perpetual state of brutal abuse. As Gary Haugen president of IJM puts it, “You don’t run to the police; you run from the police.”13

With so much money, corruption and abuse, it seems as though it would be impossible to ever stop the global engine of Human/Sex Trafficking…

(This topic is too important for you to miss the next post! Click on the “Sign Me Up” button on the left of this page to be notified by email. Stay tuned to learn what YOU can do to make a difference…)

9 Andrea’s story is recounted in “The Girls Next Door,” by Peter Landesman (See Part 1)

10 Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents, 2008-2010

http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/cshti0810.pdf

11 Arielle Eirienne 2009. “Child Sex Tourism: ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ in a Globalized World.” Student Pulse Academic Journal 1.11. Retrieved from: <http://www.studentpulse.com/a?id=34>

12 These 4 points are from page 3 of Eirienne’s article.

The fact of the matter is this, someone IS preying upon our weakness, he doesn’t play fair and he is consumed with one thing…murdering my (and your) soul! He goes by many names but biblically we know him by the name Satan, which means “the accuser.” I’m going to state something which may shock many of you but you need to hear this…

Satan is real.

The reason I made a point of letting you know that Satan really exists is because he would like nothing more than you to believe that he doesn’t exist! Satan is the master manipulator, deceiver, accuser and liar. Jesus speaking about Satan says, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44b) This is the very thing which makes Satan so effective in his destructive attacks, he knows how to attack our weaknesses and his lies are so convincing.

Let’s go back to the Garden for a moment. I’ve already established the fact that Adam and Eve’s sin was caused by their own evil desires but they definitely had help developing those desires. Satan comes to Eve and immediately begins to lie, “Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the Garden?” (Genesis 3:1b) Eve knows that God allowed them to eat from EVERY tree except for one, but that is all Satan needs to spin his web of destruction and evil; 99% truth and to question God’s motives. Satan lives in 99% truth, “you will not surely die” he tells Eve and he was 99% right but 100% wrong, and you see that is where our evil desires love to hang out and mingle. We try so hard to justify why we need or want to sin and Satan preys upon this; make it mostly right and we justify sin all day long and the Deceiver sits back and laughs.

The second thing that Satan does is he makes us question the motives of God. He whispers in our ears that God is holding back something from us, not allowing us to have fun, punishing us or just simply neglecting us. Satan says to Eve, “you won’t die, God knows what will happen if you eat, you’ll be like him and he doesn’t want that.” (my paraphrase) Think about it for a moment, when something bad happens we question why God would ever allow it to happen, we question how our loving God could ever use suffering or pain for our good. Satan fuels these thoughts in our minds so that we believe that the One trying to rescue us is actually the enemy. The father of lies…hard at work. Yet the Bible teaches us something different about God’s character, we are told that, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) We can always trust the character of God, we can always trust he has good in store for us (8:28) because God proved himself to us through the crucifixion and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ.

He died for us so that we wouldn’t have to submit ourselves to the schemes of Satan any longer and He died for us so that “the Accuser” could no longer slander those who are in Christ Jesus. Sin is very real and it flows from the evil desires of our hearts while it is being massaged and fueled by the deception of Satan.

Fact or Fiction?

Many of you may not know this about me, but for the past 3 years I have preached on Sunday mornings at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. During my hour long service the Gospel is preached and many lives are changed, people giving their lives over to the healing, cleansing, and saving work of Christ. One of the most enjoyable times for me is the question and answer portion where I open it up to any questions regarding God. Many people attend the service who are not Christians, in fact, I have many professing atheists or agnostics that come to church and I look forward to them engaging with me during the question and answer time. This week an important question was asked; “You don’t really believe the stories in the Bible do you?”

Before I get to the answer we have to lay a foundation. This is an essential question to anyone’s faith. Can you believe what is written in the Bible or is it just a collection of bedtime stories that we tell children before they go to bed, a sort of Aesop’s Fables with a good moral application? How can a person be expected to believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead if they can’t believe that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish? I think it is more than reasonable for a person to doubt the validity of the Bible but what is unreasonable is for a person never to pursue their doubts about the Bible. The Bible rests completely upon it’s claim that it truly is the Word of God. It cannot be “mostly” true, if part of Scripture is wrong what’s to prevent all of it being that way? Scripture is simply either Fact or Fiction.

So I asked the gentleman to give me an example of a story he did not trust. “Noah’s Ark” he replied. “You actually believe that the whole earth was covered in water? I think that’s completely absurd.” My answer was rather straightforward, “What about the people who were living 4 miles from the coast in Japan last week, I’m pretty sure they thought it was absurd that a wall of water 30 feet high swept away their homes, cars, places of business and for some their very lives.”

You see, the fact of the matter is that we dictate to God what we feel is possible or not. The Bible tells us for 40 days the flood kept coming upon the earth. Think about that for a moment, 40 days of rain, floods and tsunamis. I saw the power of one tsunami over the course of an hour, can I even begin to fathom what the earth would look like after 40 days of that type of devastation? Yes, you can believe the Bible. And for a book that has been constantly under attack for the last 2,000 years, I think it’s made a pretty strong case for itself as Fact, not fiction.

(Please pray for those still suffering from the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11th. You can read the story of Noah’s Ark in Genesis 6-9.)

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