Thursday, 29 October 2020

Write a letter or send a card to kids who are a part of the persecuted church!

Sunday, November 1, 2020 is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. It's a day where we pray for people who are hurt, bullied, or put in prison just for loving and following Jesus. One simple thing you can do as an individual or as a family is to send an encouraging card or artwork (like a kids drawing/colouring) to a child who is part of the persecuted church.

Open Doors Canada will deliver your card or artwork to a child who is a part of  the persecuted church.

Write a note of encouragement and hope! Draw a picture of a happy or joyful scene! Some ideas of simple text to include (for kids): "Jesus loves you!", "Jesus is with you!", "We are praying for you!", "Trust in Jesus!, or add an encouraging Bible verse!

Writing Guidelines:

-Don't mention Open Doors Canada on the card or letter, or any other organization name.

-Do not criticize religious extremism, governments, judicial systems, or political leaders.

-Do not send money or make any proposals to help.

-You may provide your name, but not your full address (eg. Matthew from Toronto, Canada is acceptable)

-Be brief and encouraging

Send your card/colouring page to:

Open Doors Canada, 

8-19 Brownridge Road. 

Halton Hills, ON. L7G 0C6

Monday, 21 September 2020



One of the things that has been SUPER hard about COVID-19 is that we’ve had to be socially distant from each other. We can’t hang out with our friends. We can’t even hang out with some of our family members! 

There are some people who are so sick and tired of social distancing that they’ve just given up. I’ve seen a lot of people totally ignoring the idea of a bubble or limiting who they have personal contact with. Just the other day when I was driving to the church, I saw a pretty large group of teens all laughing and hanging out together as they walked to school….but then when they arrived in front of the school they all put their masks on. Um…it’s not really going to help if you do that! 

A lot of people (teens included) are just tired of having to be apart from the people they care about, so they’ve kind of just given up following those rules….and we’re seeing some crazy spikes in cases in Ottawa….and a lot of those are simply because people aren’t all that concerned with social distancing anymore.

One of the reasons why this is all so hard is that we are PHYSICAL AND SOCIAL BEINGS. God wired us with a need to be close to people! Even right at the start of the Bible God said that it’s NOT GOOD FOR PEOPLE TO BE ALONE (Genesis 2:18).

Social distancing can also can be hard if you’re part of the church! If you’re a Christian (someone who loves and follows Jesus with your life) then you NEED to be a part of Christian community! We call that KIDZONE, or CATALYST YOUTH, or CHURCH. We get together to encourage each other to do the right thing, to learn together from the Bible and to worship God together! It’s something that Christians have been doing for THOUSANDS OF YEARS, and we’re a part of that! But it’s been kind of tough doing that during COVID-19. We just opened up our building so people could attend in-person, but it’s a little bit awkward and weird when we're all at a distance. While we can join the online service, it’s not the same as being together in the same room with people. 

Romans 12:4-5 “Each of us has one body with many parts. And the parts do not all have the same purpose. So also we are many persons. But in Christ we are one body. And each part of the body belongs to all the other parts.”

There are a few places in the Bible where it describes the church (groups of Christians meeting together) as a body…meaning that when we’re connected to each other, we help each other, we strengthen each other, and can work together for a common purpose! Here, this passage says that “each part of the body belongs to all the other parts”. That doesn’t mean that we own each other…. But it does mean that WE NEED EACH OTHER! We need to encourage each other, help each other, and pray for each other! It can be hard living life as a Christian. We need all the help and support we can get!

While we all have to do SOCIAL DISTANCING right now, it’s not the same thing as SOCIAL ISOLATION. We don’t have to be alone. At a click of a button we can see each other’s faces and hear each other’s voices! When you can’t actually be together in the same room, this is the next best thing! You might sometimes feel that it doesn’t matter if you join us for CATALYST ONLINE, but I wanted to tell you that’s not true. Just being able to see you and hear from you makes our group better! Just your participation and presence is important! If you were missing your hand or your foot, your body wouldn’t work as well, and our youth group isn’t as good as it could be if we’re missing you!



Yeah, there are a lot of things you COULD be doing right now, but don’t give up connecting with us on Friday nights! Make it a priority!

Hebrews 10:25 says, “And let us not give up meeting together. Some are in the habit of doing this. Instead, let us encourage one another with words of hope. Let us do this even more as you see Christ’s return approaching.”

Connecting together as the church, as a youth group, is super important. We need the encouragement and support! This verse reminds us not to give up meeting together! Research by mental health experts say that connecting over video chat like ZOOM is GOOD for your mental health and well-being! Video chat can actually ease the stress of social distancing! When we can't meet in person, we can still connect together virtually! Meeting together over video chat as Christians, not only is good for our mental health, but good for our spiritual health! We can learn together, encourage each other, and grow in our faith!


Have you ever talked to a friend and they were staring at their device instead of looking at you? One time, my wife took a friend out to dinner, and the whole time, the friend was texting other people on her phone. Do you think that made my wife feel valued? Not at all! She felt that her friend didn’t ACTUALLY care about her because she wasn't present!

When you connect with us online, don't just put us as "background music" while you do other things! Stay engaged in the conversation! 

We don’t make it a rule that you have to have your screen on at CATALYST online….but we STRONGLY ENCOURAGE IT, because it’s hard to hang out and connect to others when all you see is a black box with their name on it or instead of hearing their voice, you only see a text message in a chat box. You might still get something out of it if you see OUR faces and hear OUR voices, but if we can’t see you, it ROBS us of the social interaction that we NEED and WANT!


If you know a friend who maybe has questions about faith stuff, or just someone who might need the social interaction, invite them to join us at CATALYST! 

We’ve also really missed seeing some of our regular teens….and while one of the leaders can invite them and encourage them to join, it's not quite the same as if YOU did it! 

I was talking to my mom the other day, and she was SUPER happy because someone from her church invited her to join a ZOOM Bible Study. It was the first time she had ever joined a virtual Bible study/small group so she was a little nervous and apprehensive about it, but because a friend invited her, she thought she would give it a try. My mom told me that she was feeling about 0% when she logged in, but after the study was over, she felt 100%! She felt encouraged, and she loved the opportunity to connect with others during this time when we've all had to be physically distant! She said that while it wasn't as good as being together in-person, it was definitely the next best thing!

Some of your friends might need a little extra encouragement to connect. Some of them might feel apprehensive about it. Some of them might be a little sick of screens, but my challenge for you is to invite others to join you for VIRTUAL COMMUNITY at CATALYST ONLINE!


It’s hard when we’re in front of screens all day. There are times you might want to skip online youth because it’s just more screens….AND I TOTALLY GET THAT.  But a really good pro tip is to make screentime when you can be more SOCIAL a priority, but then take a break from screentime where you’re just watching videos or scrolling through social media for hours. 

If you limit your screentime in other ways, then when it comes time to being a part of CATALYST, facetiming your grandma, or doing school work, you won’t be as burned out on screens! Instead of watching Youtube videos or doomscrolling, take a walk, get some fresh air, or read a book! It'll refresh you for those times when you DO connect with others through a screen.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Getting Good and Angry- CATALYST Youth Online, June 5, 2020

This week at CATALYST Youth Online, we tackled a pretty important (and heavy) topic-- what the Bible (and in particular, Jesus) has to say about racism and injustice, and what that means for people who are Jesus followers. 

The word "racism" describes the hate or mistreatment of someone based on the colour of their skin or their cultural background. For people who haven't experienced racism first hand, it perhaps came as a surprise that racism still exists in 2020. The death of George Floyd in the U.S. has brought a lot of awareness about this issue, and it has sparked a great deal of outrage. People are sick and tired of injustice and evil in our world, particularly surrounding this issue.  People who have experienced racism personally, are speaking up about how hurt they are. George Floyd's death has certainly re-opened a lot of wounds. All through the world (and in the U.S. in particular) there have been protests where people are marching and standing together (during a time of pandemic no less) to show their cities, governments, and their countries that #BlackLivesMatter. Of course, these mostly peaceful protests have been marred by some people who see this all as an opportunity to be violent, commit vandalism, loot businesses, and commit acts of hate. Through it all, it has been interesting to see peaceful protesters actually helping to stop vandals and help the police arrest them. Needless to say, it has been a crazy couple of weeks.

This week, we looked at Jesus' life and ministry and how, despite a lot of racism and hatred towards other cultures in his day, Jesus stood against this in some very counter-cultural ways. What did he say and do? How does Jesus want us to respond as his followers?


One example of this is seen in Matthew 8:1-3 where Jesus showed compassion to someone who was excluded and looked down on by the rest of society, a man who had leprosy. Lepers were people who lived with a disease, so they were excluded from their cities, kicked out of their families, and weren't allowed to be in community with other people. While this wasn't a case of racism, but a case of people wanting those with a disease to stay away, in this passage, Jesus showed that he CARED about people who were excluded and treated less-than-human. Jesus spoke to someone who nobody spoke to. He touched a man who hadn't been touched by anyone for years, and then Jesus healed him.


Who are people who are left out, excluded, mistreated, or abused? Maybe it’s someone in your school who doesn’t have a lot of money or doesn’t dress well? Maybe it’s someone who has a disability or is living with special needs? Maybe it’s someone who has a different colour of skin or comes from a different culture?

Jesus models that we should have COMPASSION for those who are excluded and we need to do what we can to help those people feel INCLUDED. Jesus literally healed people so they could be restored back into their community. For us, bringing healing in someone's life might mean something as simple as sitting with someone that NOBODY wants to sit with or being friendly and talking to someone that NOBODY wants to talk to.


In John 4, Jesus was passing through Samaria. This alone was shocking because at that time, Samaritans were HATED by Jewish people. There was a lot of racism that existed between these two groups. Incidentally, this is one reason why Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan was so shocking to people at the time--- it involved someone who was hated and treated like an enemy actually stopping to help someone from the culture that hated and mistreated him.

It was shocking enough that Jesus was actually walking through Samaria, but then Jesus stopped and talked with a Samaritan woman. The disciples didn’t like this. Not only was she a Samaritan, but she was a woman…and at that time, women didn't have rights. They weren't considered to be equal to men. In most cases, they were seen as objects instead of people. Jesus ignored the separation that his Jewish culture tried to impose on Him, and he spent some time sitting and talking to this woman. Through conversation, Jesus told her that she could find love and forgiveness for the sin in her life THROUGH HIM, revealing to her that He was the Messiah (the Saviour). Because of this conversation, this woman and many other Samaritan people experienced God's love and forgiveness.

This wasn't the only time that Jesus spent time with a person who was hated. In fact, one of the reasons why the religious leaders hated Jesus (and ultimately had him killed) was because Jesus kept hanging out with HATED people. He would have dinner with tax collectors (people who would steal from the Jewish people). He would hang out with “known sinners”—people who didn’t love and follow God and made all kinds of bad choices with their lives. These were the kinds of people the religious leaders said Jewish people should stay away from. Jesus also had disciples who were women (something that was totally outside the box for that time period), showing them the same love, respect, and value that would be given to men. In fact, the first people Jesus appeared to after he was raised to life were women, and in John 20:18,  Jesus made Mary the first "evangelist", telling her to go and tell the other disciples (mostly men) that He had been raised to life.


We need to stand against racism around us (and fight against it in our own hearts and ways of thinking). Jesus showed love and value to EVERYONE he encountered…even if they were a part of a hated culture or an excluded people group. The things he said and did showed equality with others. Jesus never acted or lived like he was better than someone else, even though he was actually the SON OF GOD and was legitimately better than EVERYONE!  We need to treat EVERY human being with love, respect, and value. This includes our brothers, sisters, parents, people from other cultures, and even our ENEMIES!


In John 8, a crowd had gathered to actually THROW STONES AND KILL a woman who had been caught cheating on her husband. Even though this was the law at the time, Jesus actually stood between the woman and the crowd and then challenged them that anyone who HAD NO SIN should be the first to throw a stone. They all dropped their stones and walked away. Then Jesus turned to the woman and told her that she should turn from her sin.


If we see people being hurt, mistreated, bullied, gossiped about, or made fun of, whether it’s because of the colour of their skin or for any other reason, we should stand up for them and speak out against it….even if it might not make us popular. This kind of thing happens EVERY day in real life, and we have opportunities to do something about it instead of just standing back and letting it happen. In fact, in the case of George Floyd, the other police officers were charged, BECAUSE they could have stopped hate and violence but chose not to get involved. Jesus got involved and stood between the attackers and the person who was being mistreated. When you see someone who is being bullied, when you hear people gossiping about someone, when you hear people making fun of someone, what will YOU do?


If you've been arrested or falsely accused of something you didn't do. If you've experienced hate,  Jesus can relate to what you've been through. It happened to him too. When Jesus was arrested, before he was to die on the cross, Luke 22:50-51 says, “The disciples, said, “Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!”And one of them struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.”

Here we have a case where Jesus, GOD’S SAVIOUR, was being arrested and the disciples were ready to fight! They drew swords! If there was ever a case where violence would be ok, it would be to defend Jesus, right? But Jesus actually put a stop to it and then healed one of the men who had come to arrest him.


As Christians (Jesus-followers) we should stand up against injustice and be a voice for the voiceless, but we’re not honouring God if we are vandalizing, hurting others, stealing things, or responding in violent ways. It's GOOD to be angry about evil and injustice in our world. God is angry with it too! But there is a right response and a wrong response. The Bible tells us that “in our anger, we shouldn’t sin” (Ephesians 4:26). We need to stand against wrong and injustice in ways that also shows that we love and follow Jesus. The way we respond shouldn't create more problems, but it should make this world a better place.

Friday, 28 February 2020

WORDS- Catalyst Youth- Feb 28, 2020

Do you like spicy food? Have you ever eaten something that was so hot that you were running for milk or tried anything to put out the fire? Tonight, we watched a funny viral video where someone ate one of the spiciest nacho chips on the planet...and IT DIDN'T END WELL. 

This week at CATALYST we talked about our fiery tongues- our ability to cut people down with our words, to hurt or wound people. James 3:5-6 says: “The tongue is a small part of a person’s body. But it’s powerful. Think about how a small spark can set a big forest on fire. The tongue is also a fire.” 

When I was a kid, one of the things little kids would say is “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names (or words) will never hurt me", Guess what? THOSE KIDS WERE ALL DIRTY LIARS. It might not be in the same way, but our words DEFINITELY CAN hurt people! If you've ever had someone spread rumours about you, make fun of you, bully you, or call you names, then you know that WORDS have power. They can affect your mental health. There are even people who kill themselves because they're constantly made to feel worthless by others.

Our words can also get us in trouble. They can hurt our reputation. When I was a teen, I used a lot of sarcasm and I thought my sense of humour was the best part about my personality...until people told me that I had hurt them. They were just jokes! I wasn't intentionally trying to hurt people, but I was.
I also used to be pretty negative. If I didn't like something, I would be the first to voice my opinion about it. But I also ran into problems because my negativity made other people feel bad, and it also spread and affected others.

The Internet can be a pretty nasty place. It's full of trolls (people looking to fight, argue, and spread negativity). People feel more free to say whatever they want, even if they would never say those words to someone's face. What do our posts or online conversations look like? Are our texts full on online words? Do we attack others?

The Bible has a lot... A LOT... to say about our words. God wants us to treat others with love and kindness (even if they don't deserve it). He wants to treat others with respect (even if they don't respect us). He doesn't want us to put a target on people and use our words to attack. This is especially important if you call yourself a Christian (if you've accepted God's love and forgiveness). If that's the case, than our WORDS should reflect our faith. Our words should make him proud!

The Bible says that our words have the ability to HEAL people (Proverbs 16:25), they have the ability to REFRESH people and make others feel good (Proverbs 18:4). Our words can be a help to someone at just the right time (Proverbs 18:20)! Ephesians 4:29 says that God wants only helpful things, things that build others up and benefit them, coming out of our mouths. Proverbs 12:18 says that reckless words are like a sword attack, but "the tongue of the wise brings healing". Do we think before we say things? Do we think about how our words might affect others BEFORE they fly out of our mouths? James 1:26 says that our faith is WORTHLESS if we can't control our tongues. This means that if we really love and follow Jesus, our words will reflect that.

James 3:9-10 says, “Sometimes our tongue praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” This verse reminds us that God doesn’t want us to by hypocrites, (people who might act one way at church, but another way when we're around our friends or when we're online). James writes that it’s SO WRONG if we’re singing worship songs one minute, and then CUTTING SOMEBODY DOWN right afterwards. This tells us that we’ve got a big problem and that we need God's help.

Is God proud of your WORDS? Do the things you say or the things you type reflect the fact that you love and follow Jesus? Do the things you say HURT or WOUND others, or are your words helpful, and kind, or healing? You can ask God to help you, and if you are growing in your faith (being a part of CATALYST and Church, praying, reading and thinking about the Bible), the Bible says that God will slowly make good things come of out your life (The Fruit of the Spirit- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control).


1. In James 3:1-12, he talks about a horse being led around by a very small bit or a huge ship being steered by a tiny rudder. What connection is he trying to make to our tongues/mouths?

2. Ask your teens if they can think of a time when someone said something kind, caring, helpful, or encouraging to them. How did it make them feel? This is the way God wants us to be speaking to others.

3. What are some situations where you find it REALLY hard to use kind/caring/helpful/healing words? What do you think God wants you to do in those situations?

4. Parents, talk to your teens about a time when your tongue got you into trouble or hurt someone. What was the result? What would have happened if you had used wisdom or controlled your tongue? 

Saturday, 22 February 2020

CATALYST Youth- February 22, 2020- "MR/MRS WRONG"

This week at CATALYST, we talked about RELATIONSHIP GOALS. While quite a few of our teens haven't even thought about dating and the world of boyfriends and girlfriends yet (and that's perfectly normal- there's no rush), it's always good to talk about this stuff BEFORE you have to deal with it. It's nice to be a bit prepared and informed before making BIG life decisions!

The Bible is full of encouragements for us to make wise choices when it comes to who we hang out with, and ultimately who we might date or eventually marry....and honestly, we should be PICKY about who earns the right to be our close friends or the people we date. You should have HIGH STANDARDS. You're worth it! You shouldn’t settle on someone just because they’re into you.

The Bible also challenges US ALL to be people who are GOOD for others instead of being BAD for others. It's not just about what qualities we should look for in others, but what qualities others should hopefully find in US!

This week we looked at some  RELATIONSHIP DISASTERS in the Bible- some terrible girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, and wives and what we can learn from their stories. These are some lessons in WHAT NOT TO DO!


Judges 14:1-3 says, "His (Samson’s) father and mother replied, "Isn't there one among any of our people? Do you have to go to the Philistines to get a wife? They aren't God's people!" But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the right one for me."

Ok, so let's side aside the "get her for me" line, we'll touch on that further down on this list. Samson was super attracted to a Philistine woman....and what this meant is that she didn't share his faith or his values. In fact, she was from a people who worshiped a lot of idols and false gods. Her people were the enemies of Samson’s people.

Samson's parents tried to talk sense into him. They told him that he should try to find someone who shared his faith...someone who loved God...but he wouldn’t listen to them. Samson would eventually regret his bad dating choices...his fiance actually ran off with the best man at the wedding…and another woman he chased after actually got him killed! Samson kept on pursuing women who didn't share his faith or values...and it constantly made his life worse.


The Bible reminds us quite a few times that this is important for some really common-sense reasons. It's really hard to make a relationship work when you don't share common beliefs. You'll naturally have different ideas about how you should each live your lives and a lot of conflicts and fighting can result. Things even get more complicated when you have kids and can't agree on how to raise them or what values are important to teach them. But even more than that—it's really hard to keep growing in your faith and following Jesus in your life when you don't have the closest people in your life supporting you, encouraging you, and helping you.

I couldn't imagine being married to someone who disagreed with what I believed in or was actually OPPOSED to it. It would make life REALLY tough. Sadly, a lot of people overlook this relationship goal and date/marry someone who doesn't share their faith or values. I'm not saying these kinds of relationships will ALWAYS end in disaster, but being in a relationship (or being married to someone) is hard enough when two people have the same faith and values! When they don't even have THAT in common, it means they're going to experience more challenges in their relationship and family.


Delilah was the name of one of the many girlfriends Samson had. But the thing about Delilah is that she cared more about money and possessions than she did about her relationship.

Judges 16:5-6 says, "Samson fell in love with a woman named Deliliah, who lived in the valley of Sorek. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, "Entice Samson to tell you what makes him so strong and how he can be overpowered and tied up securely. Then each of us will give you 1, 100 pieces of silver".

Delilah sold out her boyfriend for money.


If you become involved with someone who LOVES money and stuff, it's going to create a lot of conflict. You'll fight over the way you spend money. You might end up in a lot of debt because that person constantly buys things that they don't really need. The second biggest cause for breakups and divorce today is MONEY. 

If the person you're interested in isn't smart with money, if they over-spend on stuff, if they go on sprees, if they’re obsessed with name brands, or if they feel that they "deserve" things even if they really can't afford them, these are all pretty decent warning signs that it might be MR/MRS WRONG.


Abraham is known as one of the first people ever to know and follow God. He was someone who God made a promise (a covenant) with, which was that if Abraham and his family loved and followed God, God would be committed to him and his descendants would be blessed. This ultimately came true in his having a huge family (the people of Israel are his descendants) with Jesus himself being a part of his family tree!

But, if there’s one thing the Bible reminds us is that even those great “HEROES OF THE FAITH” were screw-ups. This is good news for you and me…because God still loves us and offers us forgiveness when we really don’t deserve it. He picks us up when we fail.

How did Abraham fail? Here’s what he told his wife in Genesis 12:12-13: “I know what a beautiful woman you are. If the Egyptians see you, and think, ‘She is his wife,’ they will kill me and let you live. Please say that you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may remain alive thanks to you.”

More than once, Abraham pretended that his wife was his SISTER, lying about the truth, because he was afraid that people might attack him if they learned she was his wife. And this wasn't just a harmless prank he was pulling on people....she was actually taken to be one of the Pharaoh's wives and Abraham was well paid and taken care of as her "brother". Seriously, one of the most CRINGEY stories in the Bible!

The word “integrity” means that you’re someone who is honest and does what’s right even if it’s hard or there’s a lot of pressure to do what’s wrong. Abraham was so afraid of what people might think or what they might do to him, that he lied, tricked people and really disrespected his wife!


Nabal is a guy in the Bible who is introduced as being CRUDE and MEAN. His wife, Abigail, on the other hand was known for being WISE and KIND.

In 1 Samuel 25, David and his men were living in the fields close to where Nabal and Abigail lived. While they were in the fields, David provided protection for Nabal's shepherds and sheep from bandits. After a while, David and his men had run out of food, so they asked Nabal if he would be able to provide them with some food (and this was during a time when Nabal was throwing a huge party and had plenty to spare), but even thought they had helped Nabal out, this guy actually mocked them and refused to help!  When his wife, Abigail, heard about this, she actually gathered up a ton of food and brought it to David and his men, apologizing for how foolish her husband was and for how he had treated them. 


If a person is uncaring towards others, it might be a good sign that they are MR/MRS WRONG.


The Bible tells us the story of a King named Ahab who wanted a vineyard that belonged to a man named Naboth. When Noboth refused to sell it to him, the king went home had a temper tantrum because he couldn't get what he wanted. When his wife, Jezebel, heard what happened, she decided to take care of the problem.

1 Kings 21:9-10 tells us about Jezebel’s plan—“Call the citizens together for a time of fasting, and give Naboth a place of honor. And then seat two scoundrels across from him who will accuse him of cursing God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”
Basically, Jezebel was willing to lie, gossip, and spread rumours about Naboth to turn people against him…and Naboth was ultimately killed for doing something that he didn’t do, all so Jezebel could get the Vineyard for her husband.


When you’re considering someone for a relationship or even as a close friend, pay close attention to what they say. Do they gossip? Do they lie? Do they spread rumours? Do they take joy in hurting others? What do they post about on social media? Do they post nasty stuff online about others? These are all warning signs that this person is MR/MRS WRONG.


King Xerxes rivals Samson for his creepiness. In Esther 1 it tells us that he threw a huge party at the palace and got pretty drunk. He then told his wife that he wanted her to be at the party to show off her beauty for the guest’s entertainment!

Esther 1: 11-12- “He wanted the nobles and all the other men to gaze on her beauty, for she was a very beautiful woman. But when they conveyed the king’s order to Queen Vashti, she refused to come. This made the king furious, and he burned with anger”.

I really love how Queen Vashti stood up for herself! This was thousands of years before the “Me To” movement! She was pretty offended that her husband would treat her like an object instead of with respect…and the Bible says that when she refused to do what he told her to do, Xerxes actually divorced her and threw her out of the palace!


There are SO MANY guys like Xerxes out there (and I’m sure some girls too)…and I find it’s especially noticeable in a lot of pop music or hip hop culture where there tends to be a lot of misogyny in the lyrics. Misogyny means mistreatment or disrespect towards women. If you ever watch some of these music videos, they often objectify women and have them wearing a minimal amount of clothing while dancing provocatively.

If someone doesn’t treat you or others with respect, if they care more about what you look like than who you are as a person, if they ask you to do things that you know are wrong or that make you feel uncomfortable, that’s a huge warning bell that they’re MR or MRS WRONG. Stay away from these kinds of people!

Take the opportunity to chat with your teen sometime this week about what they learned while they were at CATALYST. You can use some of the questions below to help have a discussion.

1. What were some of the relationship goals they remember from Pastor Ben's talk? Are there any that stood out to them as being especially important? Can they think of any other things that are important to look for before beginning a relationship with someone?

Monday, 10 February 2020

On A Rooftop: What We Can Learn From David's Greatest Moment of Moral Failure (Re-post, Updated January 2020)

Does the Bible say anything about pornography, the necessity of accountability, and the importance of safeguarding Internet access for ourselves, our kids, and teens? I believe it does.

“On one lazy afternoon, when David had nothing to do, he hopped onto the Internet and got himself into a bit of trouble”.

That’s not a direct quote from the Bible, but it could have been. 2 Samuel 11 records David’s greatest moment of moral failure, a moment where he found himself on the biblical equivalent of the Internet: a rooftop.

You see, David could have looked anywhere from the rooftop of his palace. He could have watched some chariot racing. If the wind was blowing just right, he could have caught some kind of philosophical debate on the street or overheard what was being taught at Jerusalem University. He could have focused his attention on a jam session featuring some of the top harpists in the city. But instead, his eyes fell upon a woman taking a bath...and rather than looking away or retreating back inside his home, he kept watching.

Does David’s predicament sound familiar? It should. David was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was alone. He was supposed to be on the battlefield, but he ended up calling in sick. He was bored. So, he decided to “surf the rooftop” where one click of the mouse led to another.

What do you do when nobody else is around? When you have extra time on your hands? What do you do late at night when the family is asleep? Are you browsing the net? If so, David’s story reminds us that it can be a recipe for disaster.
Pornography has never been more accessible than it is today. It’s just one click away. It’s so pervasive that it can be viewed just as easily by accident as it can on purpose. So, what’s a Christian to do? How can we appropriately navigate this minefield of media? How can we guard our integrity and safeguard ourselves against temptation when we’re online?

Ecclesiastes 4:12-13 says, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken”. (NLT)

One wonders how David’s story might have played out if he had gone up on that rooftop with a close friend--someone who had his back-- someone he could have been accountable to?

 How does a Christian keep one’s head above the waters in our over-sexualized culture? By being accountable. By refusing to battle temptation alone.

One of the best ways you can do this is through the use of accountability software. There are a number of programs and mobile apps available (mostly for PC, chromebook, or Android devices) which ensure that you’re never on a “rooftop” alone. They work rather simply: You choose one or two friends that you can be accountable to and they’ll receive a notification if you visit a questionable website or if you attempt to disengage the software. Best of all, installing an accountability app on a mobile device means that a friend has your back wherever you go! Not only is the temptation greatly reduced when you know that all of your Internet activity is an open book, but if you stumble, you have friends who can challenge you, pray for you and encourage you to honour God when you’re online. If you're using an Apple Device, you can also have an accountability partner set up the Screen Time Passcode to enable the free, built-in content and privacy restrictions.

While that kind of openness and honesty might sound uncomfortable, it’s very biblical.

James 5:16a says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (NLT).

We need to foster relationships built on openness and honesty with other Jesus-followers, relationships where we can confess our sins and pray for one another without judgment. While, for many, this might sound a lot like ‘Big Brother’, accountability isn’t something being forced upon you, but it’s an act of your own volition. It’s choosing to never be on the “rooftop” alone. It means allowing a friend to, metaphorically, look over your shoulder.

If you’re someone who struggles with pornography or simply wishes to safeguard your “rooftop” from even the promise of temptation, allowing yourself to be accountable to someone else for your online behaviour is one of the best ways to protect yourself from the pervasiveness and bondage of sexual imagery. Simply tell a friend that you’ve made a commitment to being a person of online integrity, and ask that person to have your back and help ensure that your online activity honours God by helping you set up an accountabilty app or some form of content restriction.

If you’re a parent, it’s also important to safeguard the “rooftop” in order to protect the innocence of your children. No good parent would ever let their child play on a balcony without supervision. No good parent would allow their child to run and play on a rooftop that had no guardrails or safety barriers. Why? Because we know that all it takes is one misstep for that child to fall. They would be just one step, one "click", away from disaster. Safeguarding and monitoring your child’s use of the Internet isn’t paranoid parenting, it’s good parenting. Many parents opt to only allow computers to be used in common-areas of the household, but that alone is often not a very reliable solution, especially when kids and teens often carry unfettered access to the Internet in their pockets.

Thankfully, there are a number of options available to provide more comprehensive protection for the sake of your kids. One option is to install blocking software that restricts Internet access. Another option is to utilize a service that filters your Internet at the point of entry (DNS filter), ensuring that every device in your home is safeguarded. Of course, it would also be wise to install an accountability app or Apple Screen Time on the cell phone your child uses, not secretly, but by explaining to your child the importance and necessity of accountability.

For David, wandering the rooftop by himself led to his greatest moment of moral failure. By our taking a friend along with us and safeguarding the “rooftop” for the people we love, we can learn from David’s mistake and it can help us live as people of integrity in a world jam-packed with opportunity for sexual sin.

A Safer Internet On Apple Devices (Update 2020)

Do you have a kid or teen who uses an iPad, iPhone or iPod? Would you like to set up your own Apple device so that it makes accessing pornography a lot more difficult for you? This post will highlight how you can set up your device using Apple's Screen Time. 

Porn is pervasive and can be freely viewed either on purpose or by accident with just one click. While it, sadly, might be foolish to believe that we can sanitize the Internet and completely prevent our kids or teens from viewing pornographic content, as parents, we need to do everything we can to protect the innocence of our kids and have an accountability relationship with them. You can read more about the importance of accountability from a biblical perspective (both as kids and adults) in this article I wrote.

But porn isn't just a kid problem. There are many adults who also want to safeguard their own iPhones or iPads to ensure that they don't have easy access to pornography. Even if you don't have a problem viewing pornography, it makes good sense to remove the temptation and make it difficult to access. It used to be that this kind of thing was really difficult to do if you had an iPad or iPhone because there were no accountablity apps (apps that share your online usage with a trusted individual) available on the Apple App Store and the safe browsers that were available were nowhere near as good as the built in Safari browser. 

Thankfully, Apple's new Screen Time function (originally introduced on iOS 7 as "Restrictions") does an amazing job at restricting inappropriate content. Follow the below steps to set up your Apple Device with Screen Time.


To set up Screen Time on your Apple Device, you need to choose an accountability partner to set up a Screen Time Passcode on your device. This is a pretty important step, because if you know the Screen Time Passcode, you can easily disable it. The Screen Time Passcode is a completely different passcode than the screen lock you use on your device, so it won't affect how you access your device.

Choosing an accountability partner is as easy as approaching a friend (or spouse) and telling them that you've made a commitment to be accountable for all of your online viewing and asking if they would set up your Screen Time Passcode and to store it in a safe place in case you ever need to access it. I've had Screen Time set up for over 5 years now (my wife has the passcode) and it works really well. There is the odd time when it restricts access to a webpage that doesn't contain inappropriate content (for example, I've found that it sometimes restricts pages when shopping for kids clothing online or when viewing blog posts about teens and youth ministry), but this doesn't happen very often and you won't find that your device is on constant lockdown.

With your accountability partner close by, go to Settings > Screen Time on your Apple device.

Here, under "Content and Privacy Restrictions" you should set up your device to "Block Inappropriate Content". If you have kids/teens, you can also prevent movies, tv shows, or apps with specific ratings from being used/downloaded. For an adult, I would suggest restricting apps rated 17+, but even if you try downloading and using another browser, Screen Time will still block inappropriate content. 

Have your accountability partner input a new Screen Time Passcode. If you already have a Screen Time Passcode you can select "Change Screen Time Passcode" and have your accountability partner input a new one that you don't know. Once that's done, your device is now set up to block inappropriate content.

Obviously, this won't make access to inappropriate content impossible. You might also want to have an accountability partner set up the restrictions and passwords for your Youtube and Netflix apps and think twice before allowing your teen to use a social media app like Tik Tok, but Screen Time is an excellent and effective start to help you (and your kids) honour God (and others) with your online viewing habits.