Honestly?. . .
"Why wait for something when I can enjoy it now?"
“These images don’t really affect me. . .do they?”
"How could smoking a little weed really be that bad when it's becoming legalized everywhere?”
“I’d like to tell you I don’t care what others think, but honestly, I want to be liked."
Maybe you're thinking, "I've had one. . .maybe even a few of these thoughts, and I don't know how to even begin to deal with them."
The good news? You're not alone. And there is a way to fight these battles head-on, overcoming the past, pressing forward, and becoming the person God designed you to be.
So what's a guy to do? . . .
Join youth culture expert and author of the popular Guy's Guide to God, Girls, and the Phone in Your Pocket, Jonathan McKee, as he gets real about the four common battles every young man will encounter in his life:
1: Sexual Temptation
3: Controlled Substances
With humor and honesty, McKee offers up practical, spiritual advice filled with real-world application helping you face today’s distractions.
Related collections and offers
|Publisher:||Barbour Publishing, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Jonathan McKee is an expert on youth culture and the author of more than twenty books, including The Bullying Breakthrough, The Teen's Guide to Social Media. . .and Mobile Devices, and The Guy’s Guide to God, Girls, and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over twenty years of youth-ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide. For more from Jonathan, go to TheSource4Parents.com or follow him on Twitter.com/InJonathansHead.
Read an Excerpt
Tray of Fat
My dog Lionel is hilarious — assuming "hilarious" is code for "prone to trouble."
Lionel is mostly Labrador but has just enough Jack Russell terrier to keep us all on our toes (I frequently post pics and videos of him on Instagram). Jack Russell means all energy all the time. We always have to be on our A game because Lionel is like a toddler who will dart out into the road to chase a shiny green ball, without regard for the four-thousand-pound Chevy truck approaching at 50 miles per hour.
Last summer Lionel discovered something delicious — the drip tray underneath our outdoor propane grill. Whenever we grill burgers, steak, chicken, brontosaurus, anything, the fat drips off the meat down through an opening in the bottom of the grill, oozing into a disposable tray that is several inches deep. This tray isn't small by any means. It can hold almost a half gallon of drippings, and by drippings I mean fat!
One night I grilled some delicious ribs. Everyone loved them. I even gave one to Lionel. The next morning Lionel walked by the tray and caught a whiff of the previous night's drippings ... along with about three months' worth of coagulated drippings. Basically a huge tray of fat!
Lionel wandered over to investigate, sniffing the edge of the tray. I kindly told him, "No, you don't want that."
But Lionel looked at me like, "Uh, I assure you, I definitely want that."
I shooed him away, but over the next few days I caught him loitering by the grill a dozen times, attempting to poke his snout into the tray of fat.
Every time I stopped him and warned him, assuming he understood every word.
But each time he looked at me confused. His little canine mind was convinced that this aluminum tray of goodness would bring him unending joy. So I decided to reason with him. I sat him down and said, "Lionel Richie" — I always use his full name when he's in trouble — "you need to trust me on this one. If you eat that vat of drippings, it's going to rock your world, and I don't mean in a good way. Your forty-seven-pound body just isn't ready for this concentrated dose of congealed fat. Lionel, my friend, it will wreck you! Beware!"
Lionel just peered up at me like, "Can I go eat the fat now?"
The next day I was digging post holes for a fence I was building and turned to look for Lionel. The sly little rapscallion wasn't lying by the shed chewing a deer bone anymore. He had crept away quietly.
I walked my property (I live in the country) searching for him and calling his name.
Then I remembered.
The tray of fat!
I walked to the back of the house over by my grill. Sure enough, there he was, muzzle deep in fat, indulging and ignoring my calls.
I called his name one last time. He looked up at me with his glistening muzzle, paused, and literally doggy-burped.
I said, "Oh, if you only knew what else is coming."
He had eaten every last glob.
I warned the family. "Lionel just ate three months' worth of grill drippings."
"How much?" my daughter asked, laughing hysterically.
"Oh, almost half a gallon of gelatinous fat."
And then it happened. It wasn't instantaneous. It took about an hour. But then it started coming up.
First it came out the front end. I've never seen so much doggy puke. Then he ran to the door. We let him out, and I won't describe what came out of his backside. Poor Lionel was as sick as a ... well ... as a dog (so that's where that phrase comes from).
He was sick for probably thirty-six hours, lying on his side, looking up at me like, "Kill me!"
This pup who normally was nonstop energy bouncing off the walls didn't want to run, walk, play ... anything. He wouldn't chase his favorite green ball, and he didn't even look at his food. He just kept lying there gazing at me lethargically like, "Why?"
And I would simply reply, "I know, right? You should have just stuck with the ribs."
Three days later he was back to normal.
The following day I grilled some burgers, and guess who was trying to shove his muzzle in the tray of fat?
It's like he didn't remember the source of his misery.
The takeaway is pretty clear. Dogs don't have the ability to reason. Dogs can't look ahead and determine, "This won't be worth it."
But humans can. Can't they?
Think about that for a minute. If humans can reason, then why do so many of us make foolish choices, despite the obvious lurking consequences?
We laugh at Lionel and think, Stupid dog, didn't you learn? You're going to get deathly sick and wish you had never done that!
Is there a reason we can't take our own advice?
Is there a chance we sometimes choose "immediate pleasure" over "truth"?
Let me say it another way: do we sometimes choose the quick and temporary thrill over what we know is best for us in the long run?
That's really the essence of this book. The world constantly dangles "fun" in front of our face, and if we don't indulge, we get all FOMO — we feel the fear of missing out on something enjoyable. In this book we're going to simply step back and look not just at the tray of fat in front of our nose; we're going to consider tomorrow and the next day. Then we'll ask: is four minutes of feasting on fat worth thirty-six hours of regret?
Let's think about this for a moment. I'll use questions, because they are an effective tool to help us digest what we've just read. Better yet, share what you've just read with someone else you trust. Maybe it's a close friend, a mentor, or even a parent. Read this book together, ask each other these questions, and answer honestly. I think you'll find it refreshing to talk about these real-life issues instead of burying your thoughts and trying to figure it all out on your own.
[right arrow] QUESTIONS TO PONDER [left arrow]
1. How long do you think my dog Lionel enjoyed the tray of fat? How long did he suffer for it?
2. Sometimes we choose temporary thrills over what we know is best for us in the long run. What does temporary mean?
3. What is a temporary thrill that many guys indulge in today?
4. In this situation, what would be best for them in the long run?
5. What is a "temporary thrill" that you find yourself tempted by?
6. What would be best for you in the long run?
[right arrow] FINAL THOUGHTS [left arrow]
Sometimes people think following Jesus means no fun. Jesus Himself said He came to give us a "rich and satisfying life" (John 10:10).
This book isn't about missing out on fun; it's about living life to the fullest and avoiding self-inflicted hurt or consequences. This book is about enjoying the ribs and skipping the tray of fat.
Which would you rather have?
Well, where is your focus? Let's talk a little more about that in the next chapter.CHAPTER 2
I'd love to tell you that I'm a skilled mountain biker, but if I were, then I probably wouldn't have almost died trying.
Mountain biking is fun. It's off-road, it's adventurous, and it's even a little dangerous at times. But I'm really not much of a mountain biker, at least compared to my friend Mark. Mark races mountain bikes and coaches mountain bikers ... and he's insane! (Which really helps when racing downhill with no brakes.)
One day I went mountain biking with Mark and his wife, Amie, around beautiful Lake Tahoe in Northern California. You've never seen a lake so picturesque. Its waters are literally some of the bluest in the world, and its serene shores are surrounded by lush green pines and snowcapped mountains. It's truly Instagram perfect.
I told him up front, "Mark, I can't die today. My wife likes me a lot. She wants me home for dinner tonight, not in a ditch with my femur sticking out of my thigh."
He said, "Okay, simple. You only have to do one thing. Keep your eye on my rear hub." He pointed to the shiny center of his back wheel where all the spokes connected at a central point. "Where this goes, I go. Just follow me, keep your eyes on this, and you'll be fine."
"Sounds simple enough."
Mark laughed. "Yeah, you'd think so. But people always want to look around at all the beautiful scenery. Don't do it. You'll die."
He was serious.
"If you want to go on some scenic tour," he continued without a pause, "then go on a hike. But if you want to mountain bike this twisty trail, don't take your eyes off my hub. My back wheel is staying on the trail, and that's where your eyes need to be!"
"Got it," I said. "Look at your hub or die."
Then we took off. And he wasn't kidding about twisty. This trail required 110 percent of my attention. Luckily I had Mark as a guide. He knew when to go fast, when to slow down, and exactly which part of the trail to navigate. I just kept watching his rear wheel, and I was fine.
Until we rounded the corner at a vista point.
My eyes were fixed on his hub ... but in my peripheral vision I could see something big and blue in the distance to my right. My guess was that it was Lake Tahoe. I had heard you could see it from up here.
Don't look, Jonathan, I told myself. Watch the hub! The hub will keep you on track!
The trail twisted and turned. I was watching Mark's back wheel, so I twisted and turned too.
But the lake was beckoning me.
"Jonathan ... look at me! I'm so stinking beautiful!"
I couldn't resist.
My head turned and I saw the most gorgeous view I've ever seen ... for just a second ... which is probably why I rode straight off a cliff.
I'm not making this up.
The trail turned. Amie turned. Mark turned. His hub turned ... I went straight.
Everything happened in slow motion.
I went from, "It's beautifullllll," to a nanosecond later, "Aaaahhhhhh!"
By the time my eyes darted back in front of me, it was too late. The trail had veered left, and I was full momentum forward.
As I started to go over the edge, I noticed a small pine to my right — it looked like a Christmas tree. I reached out with both arms and grabbed the Christmas tree like Elf mid-flight. The Christmas tree bent almost ninety degrees with my weight, but its roots held sturdy.
And there I was, dangling off the edge, holding on to a Christmas tree for dear life.
"Be strong, little tree!"
Fifteen seconds later Mark came back, looked down at me, and said, "You took your eyes off my hub, didn't you?"
"But the lake," I said. "It was so beautiful!"
And I was right. It was beautiful. Breathtaking. But at that moment it was merely a distraction from where my eyes needed to be fixed.
Life is full of distractions. Some of them might be innocent amusements, but they divert us off course and sometimes even endanger our very lives.
What is something you've found distracting?
You know what I mean. Something that lures you in a direction you soon regret. For example, maybe you've had homework or a test that required some study time, but your friend asked if you wanted to play Xbox instead.
Xbox is fun, but that feeling in class the next day when your teacher asks for your homework, and you didn't do it ... not fun. (Especially if your dad was like my dad. If I got bad grades, then no video games at all!)
The point is simple. There's nothing wrong with a beautiful lake. There's nothing wrong with playing video games with a friend. But these things can become distractions when we allow them to divert us from something important.
I've heard a lot of people give advice about evading distractions, but honestly none of it is as good as this, which happens to have been written about two thousand years ago:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1–2 NIV)
It's amazing how relevant this counsel is to us today. Let's think about it for a minute. Use the following questions to help you get started.
[right arrow] QUESTIONS TO PONDER [left arrow]
1. What is a common distraction you think people your age are enticed by today?
2. What can happen if they divert their attention toward that distraction?
3. What is a distraction that has sidetracked you at times? What happens if you follow where that distraction leads?
4. Why do you think Hebrews 12:1 uses the words hinders and entangles? What do those words mean?
5. How can we "throw off" everything that hinders or entangles us? What does that look like on a daily basis?
6. Where does the passage from Hebrews tell us to fix our eyes? How can you fix your eyes on Jesus?
[right arrow] FINAL THOUGHTS [left arrow]
Do you realize, if you are reading this chapter right now, you are already taking the advice found in Hebrews 12?
Think about it. You chose to pick up this book instead of that game controller or mobile device, and then your eyes soaked in a couple of verses about Jesus, verses that coincidentally are telling you to "fix your eyes on Jesus." And if you answered the questions above, then you are also considering the meaning of this scripture, reflecting on its advice, and contemplating what it looks like in your own life.
And here's the good news: if you think some of the answers to the questions I just asked you are difficult ... you're right! And you're not alone. In fact, I'm here to fight those battles with you (that's the purpose of this book; we'll talk more about these specific battles soon).
So how can we throw off distractions that "so easily entangle"?
The key is in learning to fix our eyes on Jesus. In a world full of so many distractions and lies, where do we find truth? In the next chapter we'll go to the source.CHAPTER 3
"Would you like to look at the instructions?"
That's what I asked the guy I paid to put together my weight-lifting cage.
I had purchased a giant three-hundred-pound weight set with all kinds of pulleys and gadgets, hoping to create incentive to actually work out at home ... instead of sitting on the couch eating a bowl of Cocoa Puffs. (Although I do love Cocoa Puffs.)
I don't know what's more embarrassing, the fact that I paid someone to put together this complicated weight set, or the fact that the guy I paid ended up not knowing what he was doing.
I should have known when I offered him the instructions and he laughed.
"I've got this," he said.
Over the years I've learned the words "I've got this" are rarely spoken by someone who has truly "got this." In fact, the words "I've got this" are often followed by the words ...
"What? That's never happened before!"
"It wasn't my fault!"
... or some other lame excuse.
In this particular situation the guy just tore open the box, spilling out over one hundred pieces, and began putting them together like a toddler randomly connecting Legos. I left him to figure it out by himself.
About four hours later I went out to check on his work, and I experienced a moment of false hope as he was tightening the last bolt. The whole set was almost complete and actually looked like the picture on the box (if only I looked like the picture of the guy lifting the weights on the box). But my hope was quickly squashed when I asked him, "How does this work?" and pointed to the lat pull cable lying loose on the floor.
"I'll show you in a second," he said confidently, not even looking up from his socket wrench.
I didn't want to doubt him, but as my eyes followed the cable across the floor, I grew more skeptical. I'm no engineer, but there was no way the cable was getting where it needed to go as assembled.
He gave the wrench one last turn and walked over to the cable. In a matter of seconds he was dumbfounded, scratching his head trying to figure out how to thread the cable where it needed to go.
As he stood there examining his self-inflicted conundrum, I reached into the box and pulled out the instructions.
It took me less than a minute to find it. And I quote:
Step 8: WARNING: Don't forget to thread the lat pulldown cable through the pulley before assembling the crossbar because you won't be able to thread after assembly.
I flipped through the pages to see the total number of steps.
There were sixty-seven.
I wish I had taken a picture of this guy's face when he realized he had to undo fifty-nine steps because he never read the instructions.
He actually told me, "I don't know if I have enough time to redo all of this."
I simply handed him the instructions and said, "You got this."
It's a joke in our culture: "Real men don't ask for directions."
Why is this?
Are we afraid of looking weak?
I think of my friend Troy, not because he's weak, but because he's amazing with technology. Once when he was fixing my computer, I told him, "Troy, you're brilliant!"
I'll never forget his response. He said, "No, I'm not. I just know how to read instructions."
Troy is a successful leader in the tech world right now, working for a huge web development firm in Atlanta. But Troy got his start playing video games.
This was waaaaaay before your time, in an age when young people couldn't just jump online, put on a headset, and "battle royale" through the midnight hour. Troy was gaming when the only way to play games together was through physically networking computers. Hard-core gamers couldn't just log in and play; they had to know someone with networking skills, the same skills that businesses used to connect computer systems in a work environment.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Guy's Guide to Four Battles Every Young Man Must Face"
Copyright © 2019 Jonathan McKee.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
A Note to Mom or Dad Screening This Book: It Ain't Like It Used to Be 11
A Note to the Guy Reading This Book: That Guy 14
Gearing Up 15
1 Tray of Fat 17
2 Distracted 23
3 The Manual 29
4 Do-Over 36
Battle 1 Self-image-Who am I, and who will I become? 45
5 Liked 47
6 Inside 54
7 Paid For 60
8 You Do You 66
9 I Want to Be Famous 72
Battle 2 Screens-Are video games and my phone becoming a distraction? 79
10 The Same 81
11 Desperate 89
12 Hooked 93
13 Bowl Full of Candy 101
Battle 3 Sexual Intimacy-Why not now? 107
14 The Gift 109
15 Who's Right? 116
16 Those Pics 126
17 Run 135
18 The Smell 142
Battle 4 Substance Abuse-Are drugs and alcohol really a big deal? 149
19 Hanging Out 151
20 Safe? 158
21 For a Minute 166
22 Drinking 173
Tuning In 181