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How Teen Vaping, Alcohol Use and Drug Abuse Get Crushed by the Cross


Four years ago my son, Jeremy, woke me up in the middle of the night. He said, “Dad, I need to tell you something, Last school year I was vaping and, for a few months, I was going out drinking and getting drunk. There were also a few times I bought marijuana and got high. I haven’t done any of it for months, but I just had to come clean to you.

Talk about a wake up call, a wake up call on so many levels.

I was shocked. My son had a solid Christian upbringing (not perfect, but solid.) He had been through countless Dare 2 Share events, the ministry I founded 30 years ago, from the time he was little. Jeremy had attended a good Christian school from the time he was in Kindergarten and, as far as I knew, he was seeking to honor God with his life.

But, during his Freshman year of high school, he had a whole array of secret sins that none of us knew about. And he was keeping those sins hidden away in the basement of our house, where his room was.

After he woke me up from a dead sleep and dropped the bomb on me, I asked him, “Jeremy, why are you telling me this now?” He just said, “Dad, I can’t take it anymore. I’m tired of hiding it.  I’m tired of thinking about it. I can’t sleep at night and I keep thinking about it during the day. It is too much to take dad. I felt like I had to confess it to you.

Jeremy came clean. I was glad for that. He hadn’t been caught. Nobody had turned him in. But, the Holy Spirit allowed him to be so convicted by his sins, he confessed them me.

I said, “Well Jeremy, there will be consequences for your actions, big ones. And the consequence starts right now. We need to wake up your mom and tell her.

At the time, my wife, Debbie, was a full-time public school teacher. Many nights during the school year, she would fall asleep while grading papers in front of the fireplace downstairs. This was one of those nights.

Jeremy and I went downstairs and nudged her awake. Once she yawned, stretched, she looked at us and asked, “What’s going on?

He broke the news to her.

Suffice it to say that it was a long night. My wife couldn’t have imagined in a thousand years her son would do something like this, right in our own house. And, to be honest, neither could I.

After all, I came from the streets. In my book Unlikely Fighter I chronicle much of my rough, urban upbringing. Suffice it to say, I did not live a sheltered life. I knew the temptations that were out there and how crafty sin-intent teens (and adults) could be. I was surprised that my own church-going, suburban son could pull a fast one on me, right under my nose, for so many months.

You need to also understand that I’m a consequence guy. From the time our kids were little we always sought to give an immediate consequence to any act of disobedience. When I counted, “1…2…3…4″ as a parent it wasn’t an idle threat. It represented the number of spankings my son or daughter would receive when they got home.

Jeremy knew this. He knew the consequences for this caliber of disobedience would be huge.

Jeremy was really nervous that we were going to tell the administrators of the Christian school he attended and that, as a result, he would be expelled. And his fear was not unfounded. I was really leaning toward telling the Christian school…and Jeremy knew it.

Again and again during his dark night of the soul, he begged his mother and I to tell him what the consequences were going to be, but I told him that we needed a few weeks to pray through and think about what to do.

We did. But, to be honest, I knew that waiting would be a consequence of sorts for him. I wanted to make him sweat it out a bit.