Stopping Trafficking

I checked out a documentary on sex trafficking called Stopping Trafficking: The Movement to End Sex-Trafficking from the Brentwood Library two or three weeks ago and just now worked up the courage to finally sit down and watch it. Wow.

I knew a little about sex trafficking and slaving (a term they used to differentiate from slavery). I never realized just how prevalent this industry is around the world, even in the U.S.

I never realized that girls and boys as young as 4 (and possibly younger) are targets of men (and sometimes women) who will pay for sexual favors from them. For many of them, their only memories are of being abused, so they don’t know of the possibility of any other kind of life and how their lives could be better. They don’t know to cry out for help or that help even exists.

One way the documentary brought forth as a way to end sex trafficking is to stop watching pornography. Pornography feeds this industry, creating or at least intensifying the sick desires that fuel the need for grown men and women to want to buy children for sex.

While most pornography isn’t geared toward children, I’d argue that just like any other kind of addiction, once the initial rush fades, it takes more and more to achieve gratification. Eventually, this is the result.

I know that there are faith-based groups fighting against sex trafficking. Two that I know of are IJM (International Justice Mission) and Freedom’s Promise (which specifically ministers to victims in Cambodia).

I think too many are too willing to turn a blind eye to this pandemic. Too many are unwilling to entertain even the idea of a child being raped 30 or 40 times a day for sometimes years on end.

I’d recommend Stopping Trafficking as important viewing, but there was some explicit content as far as detailing some of the specific acts done to a particular victim who is now a grown man leading the charge against sex trafficking.

The time for silence is over. The time for action is now.

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That Green Elephant in the Room

As the old saying goes, comparison is the thief of joy. Nothing robs your peace and contentment more than falling into the trap of comparing your life to someone else’s and letting jealousy take over.

I confess that I get a little envious from time to time. That’s when I notice that I’m less joyful and more stressed. That’s when I start believing that all the good things in my life that I’m waiting for must happen immediately, and I must be the one to make them happen.

The antidote is still gratitude for your own life. Giving thanks goes a long way toward helping you from seeing life as a competition and making it easier to celebrate other people’s victories instead of letting bitterness set in.

God’s will for your life is still to “rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV). If you make those a daily habit, you won’t have time to play the comparison game or to be overcome by envy.

 

Dumb Stuff

All I can say in my defense is that it’s been a long week and I was tired. I walked right out of that restaurant and got all the way home before I was reminded that I hadn’t paid for my dinner [insert face palm here].

Thankfully, I was able pay with my credit card over the phone, adding a little extra gratuity for my temporary attack of stupidity.

I confess my faux pas in order to remind us all that we will all do stupid stuff from time to time. We will do what we shouldn’t have done and leave undone what we should have done.

As I’m learning, the key is to give yourself grace and to allow yourself to be human. If God, who knows far more about you and your inner workings than even you do, is able to forgive you, why can’t you forgive yourself? Why can’t I?

Of course, the idea is to learn from your dumb stuff and not do a repeat of your stupid mistakes. Common sense and good judgment go along way. Still, there will be the inevitable lapses, especially when you’re tired, and you will have those head slapping moments when you realize just what an idiot moment you just had.

Give grace to others always, but in the process, don’t forget to give yourself a little grace as well.

 

Resolved

Tonight, I heard one of the minsters in residence speak at an event. He mentioned one of his favorite dead theologians and authors, Jonathan Edwards, had made some resolutions.

Originally, my goal was to reproduce them all here, but after a little research, I found that would make for a mighty long blog post, so I’m picking a few that strike me:

“Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.”

“Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.”

“Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.”

“Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.”

“Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.”

“Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.”

“Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.

“Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.”

Maybe this will inspire you (or me) to make our own new resolutions. It doesn’t have to wait until next January 1. It’s never too early or too late to change and make a new start.

 

Fear: A Repeat

Tonight, we started a new series at Kairos called Fear Not. Over and over again, the Bible tells us not to fear, but we’re naturally hardwired in our fallenness to fear and anxiety.

I know in my own experience that people settle for unhealthy relationships over the fear of being alone. They choose to stay in unfulfilling jobs over fear of not being able to provide for their families. They compromise their convictions rather than stand on their principles for fear of what it might cost them and of what others might think.

I’ve known fear well in my lifetime. Fear has often made me choose the safe and familiar over the unknown and the adventurous. Fear keeps me from seeing either me or God in a true light. I don’t hear the voice of my Abba calling me His beloved when anxiety takes hold.

But perfect love casts out fear. God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love and of a sound mind.

Sometimes, you need to speak aloud the thing you fear and name the blood of Jesus over it. Sometimes, you need to pray a simple phrase or sentence over and over, like “Abba Father, I belong to You,” or “Jesus, protect me.”

Fear may be the natural response but it doesn’t have to be your normal mode of existence any longer. Fear is false evidence appearing real, and only the truth of God as found in Jesus can drive it out.

 

 

 

Thanks a Lot, Heat-Miser

Is it wrong for me to be counting down the days until fall when it’s not even officially summer yet?

I know that I’m supposed to be thankful in all circumstances, but I’m much more inclined to be grateful when I’m not walking into a furnace every time I go outside.

I’m not a hot weather person. I don’t mind summer as long as it’s mild and/or there’s a substantial body of water nearby, like a lake or an ocean.

I’ve made no secret about being a fall person. I love just about everything about Autumn, from the crisp weather and changing leaves to all the holidays that come with it, including pumpkin spice and apple cider and bonfires and hayrides.

I generally like summer for about two weeks, then I’m over the hot sweaty mugginess (and I do sweat profusely– I think it’s one of my spiritual gifts). Summer is like the unwelcome house guest that doesn’t know when to leave, despite all the subtle and not-so-subtle hint dropping.

All the things that made summer great for me as a kid don’t really apply to me anymore. I don’t get to leave my job for two months and take extended vacations or look forward to day after day with little to no plans and only my imagination to guide me.

The traffic’s slightly less horrendous, so there’s a small plus.

For me at my current stage in life, summer is all about wearing Hawaiian shirts as often as possible, finding out where the nearest a/c unit is, and staying hydrated.

I do like summer. Admittedly, I’d like it far better if I could feel wet sand between my toes and ocean waves lapping at my feet.

For the record, there are 130 days, 22 hours, and 27 minutes until the start of fall. Not that I’m counting.