Preparing for Missions— Comments about Singles and Taking the Word to the World and Making Disciples

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64 days and counting! 64 days until Jessica and I land in Vilnius, Lithuania to start our adventure with the team serving the Ruta Christian Camp. We (Dad and 15 year old daughter) will be a part of a team led by two Singles and partnered with two more younger singles and an older preacher plus a contingency from Texas of interesting people that we have not met. Lithuanian ministers and their wives and several unmarried with fill out a staff serving a camp full of kids who are being raised by the first generation of adults to live without Communism. An opportunity to teach Jesus 5,ooo miles from home!

We are blessed to be supported by various believers who appreciate out mission, many who are not Church of Christ members. Does that surprise you? I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve many through singles ministry and counseling from a variety of church backgrounds. I appreciate that some have seen Jesus through interaction with me. That is the goal we all should have.

I enjoy keeping up on FACEBOOK with others preparing to go abroad. An awesome single lady and RN is in Central America as we speak on a medical mission. Toughing hearts and healing bodies. Not her first trip….I know a lot of kids know what Jesus looks like through her. I know a burly guy who is going with a group to Israel this summer to dig in the earth for antiquities and evidence of Bible history. I know the group already in Honduras and those going down this summer to work 12 hour days to build houses so people will have a roof over their heads. I know people in a group who are going to Africa (Zambia) to work at a school and another group who will go with a Doctor to serve the communities. SALUTE! To All!

64 days and counting……………….

She Only Said “Yes” Once………Sex in our Society

She Only Said “Yes” Once

This is a strong commentary of what has become of sex in our society—and it rings tragically true.

I stood on a stage in the church I’d grown up in.  I can only vaguely remember my wedding, but I’ll never forget seeing Allison emerge from the hallway at the back of the sanctuary. Beautiful.

Looking up at me through her veil, she smiled.  She has always been a shy person, so she should have been intimidated by all of those people looking at her.  But this wasn’t her shy smile – the tight-lipped, head-hung, eyebrows-raised smile that meant she was embarrassed.  No, this was a “nothing-else-in-the-world-matters-right-now” smile.

We all stared at her, a couple hundred people in a full sanctuary. But she stared down the aisle at me as if we were the only two people in the room.  I’ll never forget that moment.

Her hair was special.  I’d never seen it like that before.  She was wearing make-up, a small thing, but it stands out in my mind because she wears it so rarely.  I remember the veil.  I remember the dress.

We stood before the pastor, and we went through the motions of the service.  It feels sacrilege to says this, but they were just words at that point.  The promises had already been made.

Finally:  “You may kiss your bride.”

We kissed.  A real kiss…nothing obscene…but not a peck either.  My wife is so shy about showing affection in public, that even to this day we don’t really kiss when we’re out and about.  But we kissed right then and there, with no shyness at all.

And in that moment, on that stage, when we were married, my wife – Allison Lynne Osborne – said, “Yes,” to me. 

Before that moment, the answer had always been, “No,” – “no” in my heart and “no” in hers.  “No” in parked cars, in movie theatres, in empty living rooms – “no” to all of those emotions and desires that threaten to sweep away young people in love.  The answer had always been, “No.”

Not anymore.  On, July 28th, 2001, the answer we gave each other before God and everyone was: “Yes.”  “Yes,” until the day that we die.

Yes, I could kiss her.  Yes, I could sleep with her.  Yes, I could steal glances of her in the shower because I think she looks great even after 5 kids. She said, “Yes,” to me, forever.

I wasn’t asking for a one night stand or permission to touch her after a party.  I was asking for forever, and that’s what she gave me.  That’s what I gave her.

She has never had to say it again.  She said “yes” only once.  She meant it to last.  I meant it to last.  It has lasted fourteen years.  It will remain in effect until death parts us.

Last October the New York Times published an article describing what sex education is like for tenth graders now in San Francisco.  A new law requires that teachers give lessons on something called “affirmative consent”.  These children are taught to ask for consent at every point in a sexual encounter.

Do you want to kiss her?  Ask for consent.  Do you want to touch her breasts?  Ask for consent again.  Do you want to take her clothes off?  Ask for consent again.  Do you want to penetrate?  Ask for consent again.

If that’s too graphic for you, just remember, this is 10th grade material. If it makes you uncomfortable, then just imagine being one of the 15 year-old kids in that classroom who are hearing those words (and many that are far more graphic) with other boys and girls their own age…the same boys and girls they used to finger-paint with in kindergarten.

One student, upon hearing that he needed to check with a girl before touching her in certain places or doing certain things, asked, “What does that mean – you have to say ‘yes’ every 10 minutes?”

“Pretty much,” the teacher answered.

Somehow that seemed extraordinarily out of place to this young man, that one would have to pause the progression of an intimate encounter to ask, over and over again, “May I do this now?”

Those aren’t exactly words of passion and romance, are they?

So the teacher gave the kids an assignment.  Come up with better ways of asking for consent, ways that won’t seem so awkward and weird.  The fifteen year-olds put their heads together and brainstormed.  They spent their class time trying to invent less awkward ways of asking each other for permission to have sexual experiences.

They wanted to come up with a way of asking, “Can I do this to you now?” without actually sounding like an alien from another planet.  Many of their suggestions were too vague or nonspecific, but finally they settled on one that they could all agree on.

Two simple words: “You good?”

A boy is about to take the top off a girl:  “You good?”

He touches her underwear: “You good?”

Before kissing her body:  “You good?”

Before taking her virginity…before losing his own, he asks: “You good?”

The answer is no.  I’m not good.  You’re not good.  None of this is good.  This is not what sex is for.  This is not what love is for.  We’ve ruined it.

Sex has become so detached from anything meaningful, personal, and private, that Playboy is no longer even bothering to print nude pictures anymore.  People won’t pay for them because every sexual act imaginable can be freely viewed on the internet at any moment. Our most popular TV shows, from Game of Thrones to Two and a Half Men, are full of sex, either explicit or implied.

One generation…two generations, have grown up in a culture where sex means practically nothing on TV and media, and so they’ve actually embraced the idea that it means nothing in real life!  They’ve heard the message and believed it:  “Sex is no big deal”.  They feel totally inadequate and unfulfilled if they aren’t having it.

And we have done such a good job teaching that message, that now 1 in 5 women who attend college for four years say they’ve been sexually assaulted.  Or is it 1 in 7, like the authors of the study tried to clarify in TIME Magazine?  Am I supposed to feel better about 1 in 7, as opposed to 1 in 5?  Is that supposed to comfort me?

Virtually every single major publication in our country, from Sports Illustrated to the New York Times has written extensively on the dangerous places that college campuses have become for young women.  The violence of sex has become so undeniably prevalent in our culture that now governments feel they must act, they must do something – ANYTHING – to teach young people the one truth about sex that should be the most common, basic, intuitive part:  it should be CONSENSUAL.

Think about that for a moment.  We have so RUINED our image of sex that we now have to PASS LAWS requiring teachers to explain to our children that they must be sure someone wants to have sex before they go through with it.

I have worked with youth for 16 years as a leader and a teacher.  I have mentored youth and cried with them when their worlds have fallen apart on them.  I have given them my money, my time, my vehicle, and my home at various points.  And I can tell you this:  in my experience, the number 1 reason why children leave their homes and wreck their lives is a desire for sex that our culture has SCREAMED that they must have.

And their parents see it and warn them and plead with them and try to help them – all to no avail in so many terrible cases, because if there’s anything the culture has screamed at children more than “SEX IS FOR YOU”, it’s “YOUR PARENTS ARE IDIOTS”.

Buried behind each act of rebellion is the personal belief that he or she knows better than the parents who have raised them from birth.  These kids are convinced that they know more about life and sex than their moms and dads.  They are bolstered by their familiarity with sex, a familiarity not based in actual reality, but based on what they’ve seen in movies, music, television, and the internet…what they’ve talked about it in school with their friends after health class.

They are tragically mistaken.  They have overestimated their own wisdom.  They have embraced an understanding of sex that is deliberately deceitful.

Deliberately deceitful.  Adults know that sex is not REALLY like the movies or the TV or the music make it out to be.  The adults that make their money off of selling sex KNOW that their version of it isn’t honest – not in it’s portrayal, and not in it’s consequences.

But those profiteering off of “selling sex” aren’t there to help pick up the pieces when they come home diseased, abused, traumatized, pregnant, or addicted.  The culture isn’t there to help them after an abortion.  It’s not there to help them as a single parent with a baby. “Here’s some food stamps and some government assistance.  Good luck!  Make sure you buy my next song on iTunes or watch my next show on HBO!

The culture isn’t there to help them with child-support payments for the next 20 years, made to a young lady you don’t even know outside of a one-night stand.  The culture isn’t there to help the young lady who never gets a child-support payment because the father doesn’t love her and could care less about being a real man.

The culture isn’t really “there” at all. 

“Culture” is an abstract thing, an illusion that tells us how we should think and feel.  It’s built through actors, actresses, singers, rappers, advertisements, porn-creators, and the like who glorify sex outside of marriage as if it’s some penultimate experience to achieve.  And when the illusion is stripped away by the cold realities of life on the other side of these sexual experiences, these kids are left to try to piece together a life that’s been gutted by a society more concerned about the dangers of “censorship” than the dangers of the culture we’ve fostered.

And the proposed answer to all of these problems is: education.

“We just have to teach them about contraception.  We just have to teach them safety.  We just have to do a better job handing out condoms.  We have to do a better job making abortions available.  We have to increase social support programs.  We have to come up with medication for the diseases and vaccines and protocols for treatment.”

It’s like running around with a garden hose trying to put out a fire that’s burning your entire house down.

We have ruined sex.  We have taken what was sacred and made it casual, pretending that is won’t hurt us.

We ought to mourn what we’ve done, but instead, we glory in our own shame.  We boast about the sexual revolution as if it were an accomplishment.  We mock those who believe that it belongs only to marriage, where consent has been given and relationships rest in promised exclusivity.  We laugh at the happily married couples who have never known another partner as if they somehow “missed out” on all the fun.

What fun?  Step out of your little world and look at what this trivialization of sex is doing to our people!

Let me pose to you the same question that those kids came up with in San Francisco…a question, by the way, that no one’s ever asked in a porn scene:  “You good?”

Sexual violence dominating college campuses: “You good?”

19 year-olds with three abortions:  “You good?”

Pornographic websites becoming the main source of a child’s first sexual experience:  “You good?”

Sex addiction being a real and tragic thing: “You good?”

No…I’m not good.  Excuse me while I go throw up.

This article originally appeared on ReggieOsborne.com.

Mentoring Your Teens Through Lemonade Stands, Thunderstorms, Knick Knacks and No Sales…

So…. was talking to nice gentleman last night about being a single parent…..What a challenge! Raising a child by yourself in this world…Wow!

So…..churches aren’t (much) help to the single (parent). Statistics and witnessed behavior supports this statement. Some of the time the single doesn’t help their cause either (another time).

I am married and blessed to have a gentle wife. I have great kids (15 and 13) at home who I am trying to teach to work in a realistic setting. Jessica and I are going on a mission trip so we are selling Lemonade at the fair this weekend (well, actually, we sat at the fair at sold 3 cups for $2 which = $6 in and about $50 dollars in the hole). Today started with severe thunderstorms….Jameson has a sea shell and knick knack “store” in the local “antique” mall. Rent is $24 a month and his intake thus far is about $13 (minus expenses). He is learning to do a spread sheet….AND, since the weather is lousy, they are now tasked to plant seeds in small planters. Much conflict. They are learning to build character and that life doesn’t come easy….

Last night, Christina Christian, was the featured Entertainer. She (and her accompanying guitarist) is very talented with a mix of original and covered songs. And wonderfully pleasant and cheerful. Professional. Sadly, because nobody was there her talent was largely unseen and she probably didn’t paid.  Character building…and good examples for teens learning to work.

Parenting is tough……….

I Will Be Busy (While I am Single)

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There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. No doubt one contributes to the other but while we are legally single we don’t have to be miserable in our aloneness. Hmm. Seems like a “Catch- 22” or double talk but hang with me. Here is my point!

There are many worthwhile opportunities that can be enjoyed as a single person. Some can be better! Honestly, many activities can be better for the single for a variety of reasons. A few? Let me list a few examples….. 1) You don’t have to ask permission 2) opportunity to meet new friends without interference or obligation 3) cost 4) creativity 5) preference…………..

Missions trips:

This summer my daughter and I (Jessica) are going to work at the Camp Ruta Bible Camp in Lithuania. Most of the volunteers are single. Camp Ruta is a camp which serves many children and families who are largely unchurched in a country that until 1989 was a part of the USSR. Most of the parents of the children grew up in a country that did not honor God or religion. Today, Lithuania has the highest suicide rate in the world and Christianity is still more of a novelty than an anchor to many. As Jesus once said, “the fields are ripe and the workers are few”. we have the opportunity to mentor and mold the lives of the kids we meet and contribute to the spiritual and mental health of the entire family. Ask me how you can be involved either in a support role now or a possible camp worker in the future.

Another opportunity is to go on a medical mission or a work mission. I know one RN who goes on a medical trip every summer to South America. Another MD takes a trip to Zambia each summer. I have friends who build houses in Honduras through the Torch mission. You help others and travel with hard working, compassionate Christians, many who are single.

Visiting the sick:

As an RN, I noticed years ago that less people visit the sick in the hospital than I remember growing up. It is a blessing and an opportunity to make a difference. Go sit and hold a hand, serve communion, pray or just watch TV with someone who is sick. Many nursing home residents are lonely and need encouragement. Adopt a senior and visit once a week or whenever you can. Make a difference.

Feed the hungry:

Does your congregation have a food pantry or serve a meal to the homeless? A great opportunity to serve and encourage. Work in your community clothes closet, with Habitat for Humanity or with another volunteer organization.

Love in the Mail:

Mail a card to someone. many who are sick at home or away with work, the military or even the imprisoned need to know that someone cares about them.

The windows of opportunity are open. you don’t have to  succumb to loneliness. Make your mark on someone’s heart!

Don’t Allow Your Preferences (Prejudices) to Distance You From God

As we continue our journey through the story of relationships in the Bible, we find a peculiar incident in Numbers 12:1-15. It begins with a statement about how Aaron and Miriam “disapproved” of Moses’ new wife who had Cushite origins. In other words, they didn’t approve of her racial or cultural background. Read and you will become very aware that God does not approve of our prejudices. Ask Miriam. Her result for her hateful behavior was a short term experience of leprosy.

I have has friends ask me how I felt about “interracial” dating or marriage. I have had to address my own upbringing and deal with my own preferences. And, I have also observed the changes in attitudes of friends and family. My opinion is this: you are blessed to find someone who loves you! God wants you to be with someone who loves him first with all their heart. After that, skin tone, height, weight and eye color are trivial. We all have opinions on what is physically attractive. But my grandmother used to say “pretty is as pretty does”. I hope you spend your time with pretty does people!

BTW: remember to tell your preachers and elders that it is just as wrong to discriminate with the budget and planning committees against unmarried people as it t discriminate racially.

Lessons for Singles from Joseph (and Tim Tebow)

                                                                                           Tim

Several weeks ago “news” announced that football great and sports commentator, Tim Tebow, was dumped by his girlfriend, Miss Universe- Olivia Culpo. The problem? Tim is a faithful believer in Jesus Christ. He has chosen to wait until he is married to have sex. Miss Universe didn’t like it and walked away. It is one thing to talk about what your believe and another to put it into practice. I have appreciate Tim’s choice to honor God.

Which takes us to Joseph. First of all, I see so many lessons in life in a short span of scripture in Joseph’s life. Lessons about how his dad was not a fair father. The problems with having too many baby mamas. Peer competition and jealousy going bad. Being arrogant when you are the favorite.

Three lessons are evident in Genesis 39. The first is that we all should do a good job! Regardless of the circumstances, do what you are supposed to and a little bit more. The second? An attractive single man or woman will get attention! That can be a good thing. In this case, a married woman noticed the handsome Joseph and tried to seduce him. And she had leverage. She was the boss’s wife.  You couldn’t have blamed a lonely guy for folding under pressure and giving in. She’s beautiful. She’s available. And she is holding the cards. Joseph saw the situation (and the wife) for what it was and fled from it. Temptation will always be around the corner and if you crumble it will own you. So, Joseph did the right thing. And his reward was the third lesson. Life is not fair. He did the right thing and still ended up fired and in prison. Add another lesson and call it…being faithful.

We will be tempted.  If you see trouble coming, avoid it! If it is beside you, walk away! And if you still suffer consequences, remember that God is in control and he knows you did what was right.

The end of the story? In Joseph’s case, after years of faithful living and compassionate treatment of his brothers, they still didn’t fully trust him. How heartbreaking it must have been. In Tim’s case, God will provide the right person when the time is right. Until then, I guess he will have to keep himself busy. I heard he was on some lip synch TV show coming soon.

How much influence do your Parents have in your dating choices?

Genesis 24………. Abraham was concerned that his son, Isaac would not find an acceptable (good enough, God fearing) woman to marry so he had his servant go find a good woman. When the servant located Rebekah, he provided a financial incentive to her family then asked her to go with him and be Isaac’s wife. She accepted this opportunity and became the wife of Isaac, mother of Jacob and Esau.

Here is the million dollar question…. would you allow you mom or dad to help you to choose the person you marry? Do you even appreciate their interest in those that you date? Do you see their involvement as an opportunity to use their wisdom obtained after years of experience in life to help you make a good choice or do you see this as parental interference?

Some more fodder for the cannon……individuals in arranged marriages in the U. S. (yes, it happens) have a very high success rate. We know that divorce is much too prevalent when we choose for ourselves. Statistics show divorce rates even higher when people cohabitate before marriage.

Isaac allowed Abraham to help him find a wife. Rebekah went along. Your thoughts…