Monday, March 30, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
This message is a continuation in our series of the Se7en Deadly Sins. You might of guessed which sin. Envy forms out of the desire for more... and more... and more. Envy is an externally less dirty appearance of lust. The person battling with this sin is never satisfied. They are always searching, craving, yearning for the next big thrill or fix. It may be as simple as cookies from the counter or somebody’s possessions we want to pocket. Envy goes beyond the problem of wrong desires to resentment of others who enjoy certain benefits or pleasures. It asks, “Why does that person have and enjoy _____ and not me?” Ultimately, this sin points to sinful pride believing that our wants and desires should be fulfilled because we demand them to be so. It places ourselves in the role of God; something we are unable to fulfill.
In Proverbs 23:1-5, we see the author warning against envy. Things you see in or with others may appear as “delicacies” but in reality it is “deceptive”. Those things will fade away, or “sprout wings and fly away”. The author’s advice is summed up in verse 4, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.” The point is to not seek fulfillment in others but show self-control and patience in what God provides. In a word, contentment is the answer.
What are some common areas of envy, lacking contentment for teens? See if you find yourself in any of these possible scenarios.
- Envy in position & prominence (Mark 10:35-44).
Are you in a place where you are playing second string on some kind of team or organization? Are you jealous of those who are above you? Do you selfishly desire to unseat those in front of you? Are you seeking your name to be the highlight of every achievement?
Jesus reverses the world’s standard for position and prominence. He says, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for man" (Mark 10:45).
Do you see someone else and want them or what they have? Are you overly competitive in nature? Do you often compare yourself and struggle with measuring up to others?
Jesus reverses the world’s standard for comparison to others. Our focus should be on our own character and calling before God. When we shift this to others we become filled with pride and envy.
- Envy of possessions (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11).
Our country is very materialistic, even in a time of economic depression. Loads of debt overwhelm many families and young people all for the sake of filling our desires to make us happy. This is envy at its finest. We need to discern the difference in every purchase between needs and wants. We also must consider how our possessions can be used for God’s glory rather than our own amassing of objects that rust, fade, wear and collect dust.
Contentment eliminates envy.
In all, the root of envy is finding satisfaction in god-substitutes. The answer is understanding that there is a greater treasure of infinite value – it is knowing and loving Jesus Christ. Therefore, the call for believers is to find their contentment in Christ.
The Christian is to find their greatest joy in Christ. Contentment is a choice to embrace Jesus as the all-sufficient source of joy and provision. It is being able to say, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of contentment – whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13). For “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). It is realizing you can be “satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
When a person can embrace these truths they can eliminate envy. They will not look to position, prominence, people or possessions for fulfillment. They will already have it in the presence of God.
TAKING IT HOME
- Why do people get envious?
- Where do you see envy in society?
- What do you most commonly envy?
- What does the Bible have to say about envy/jealousy (do a search)?
- How does contentment eliminate envy?
- Read Philippians 4:11-13 & Hebrews 13:5. How do they relate to each other?
- What does it mean to be content but not complacent with Jesus?
Thursday, March 19, 2009
In Proverbs 6:20-29, the author warns of the dangers of lust and greed. The example is lust for a women but it can easily be replaced with any other object of choice. Lust or greed may promise to please but in the end it fails to fulfill. It’s like the fish who sees the worm dangling for food only to bite and become hooked at the mouth. The actions will not go without consequence.
The problem with lust and greed is when the desire of an object becomes a demand leading to dependence on such object. This is commonly known as addiction. Lust and greed, as any addictions, are god-substitutes and biblically known as idols. We must ask ourselves, “For who or what am I lusting/greedy?” or the biblical question, “Who or what am I worshiping over God?”
TAKING IT HOME
John Owen, in his classic work On The Mortification of Sin in Believers says, “be killing sin or it will be killing you.” In other words, you cannot simply fight lust or greed on your own terms by avoiding it, hoping to wound it and let it go away. You must get to the root and destroy it by fighting with the spiritual weapons God has provided.
SO, how do I kill the sin of lust/greed?
Fight with Saturation
God is to be feared because he is holy. However, this fear is not to make you scared as much as it is meant to increase your intrigue of him. God, the Creator of heaven and earth has created you to saturate yourself in him. Don’t miss this! Therefore, I pray the imaginations of your mind, the affections of your heart and the desires of your heart will be awakened to true and everlasting joy in Christ. This can happen by saturating yourself in the Psalms and cultivating a life of prayer. Time with God, or lack of, will shape your appetite for lust and greed.
Psalm 16:4a,11 “The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
Jonah 2:8 “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”
Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”
Psalm 90:14 “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
Fight With Scripture
God gave the Bible so we can know Him and be equipped for life. As mentioned, fighting lust is not just a physical battle but a spiritual one. Therefore, you must use the proper weapons. When Jesus encountered temptation he used Scripture to defend and attack against the pervasiveness of sin.
Psalm 119:9,11 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I have hidden your word in my heart that I may not sin against you.”
2 Peter 1:3-4 “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
Fight With Strategy
Addictions must be fought with a hard determined look at reality. Those who struggle with lust can track where, when and how they have failed in order to anticipate when temptation is arriving. We must set and keep boundaries that God has designed for our joy and protection.
Psalm 16:6 “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
−Remove and limit your opportunity for lust and greed. If the computer or t.v. is a source of your lust then place it in a highly trafficked area. Don’t use them alone or especially at night when you are physically and emotionally exhausted. Whatever the source of your lust or greed is then seek to diminish your contact with that person or object. Parents need to take the lead in this area, even if it hurts or causes conflict. Your teen will thank you later for it.
Matthew 5:29 “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
−Report to a close friend. Have your friend hold you accountable by asking you pointed questions which you must answer honestly.
Proverbs 27:6 “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
−Repent immediately after failure. Sin can drive a wedge between you and God. Youth who are especially emotional may use their sorrow to turn them away from their relationship with God. The key is to ground your emotions and failures in the truth of the gospel. God’s focus is not on personal perfection but in your cross direction; looking unto Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-3). When you confess your sin God forgives and cleanses from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
2 Corinthians 7:10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
−Rest in the gospel, knowing that God forgives and gives mercy. This should not neuter the power of the above principles, yet it should empower you to move forward growing in grace every day.
Titus 2:11-13 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for our blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
This finding is somewhat regrettable as a pastor who desires families to know God and worship him together. Yet, it also carries significance for believing families to live missionally. Notice the wording, "... a neighbor I trusted". This is a call for Christians to get into their communities and know their neighbors. It's a reminder that a simple friendship and invite can go a long way in the process for children and families to come to repentance and faith in Christ.
So what can your family do to live missionally, for neighbors to trust you? Here are some ideas:
- Know the names of your neighbors and allow them to know the names of everyone in your family.
- Invite neighbors, co-workers or classmates over for coffee, dessert, dinner or all of the above. This can easily be done by making use of special occasions and holidays.
- Participate in community functions and parties in effort to know people.
- Volunteer with local organizations, get involved with schools, sports teams, clubs, etc.
- Bless your neighbors, office or class with little but special gifts like baked goods, candy, yard work, appreciation notes & cards. It's the simple thoughts that count.
Above all, "as you go" (Matthew 28) and meet people engage in spiritual conversations when appropriate. People are not opposed to talking about spiritual things. They are opposed to you doing it without earning their trust first. You must have a genuine interest and value for people. Do not be afraid to let your friendships go beyond an evangelistic witness encounter. When I look at Jesus I see that he cared very deeply for people, even to the point of weeping on occasion. He loved strangers. I have to admit, I do not share this same compassion as much as I want or should. It's a shame, and worse it's sinful. I'm guilty and need to repent. I'm going to go do that now. What about you?
Monday, March 9, 2009
Likewise, we have a decision. Will we allow a competing owner to rule the inside of our lives or will we submit to the rule and reign of Jesus? This decision is life altering. Once you make it you are deciding you will not allow others to return and take back ownership.
- Rationalization. We rationalize and excuse our sin. Common phrases are “I can stop any time.” “It’s not my fault… so and so made me do it.” Or worse, “It’s not that big of a deal, I’m not that bad.”
- Escape. We escape consequences of sin in many ways. Sometimes through avoiding conflict or perhaps through addiction to alcohol, drugs, lust, manipulation or sex. We indulge our fantasy desires so to avoid feeling conviction or guilt.
- Religion. We make ourselves feel better about our sin by adding religion to life. We develop a system of works that balance out the good and bad, hoping the former outweighs the latter.
The reality is all these are god-substitutes. They all fail to withstand the influence and power of Satan. Satan is the “stronger man” attacking our lives. We may cope or manage our sin for a time and feel good about ourselves. However, it’s a false sense of security because you are no match for Satan. He will overpower you. In all, he’s a lying, scheming false god promising to please but failing to fulfill.
The solution for overcoming our sin is none other than obedience to God. The root of obedience starts with our hearts and works outward to the fruit of our behaviors. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” The only secure and sure way of removing sin is the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
TAKING IT HOME
- Our new series is Se7en. The seven deadly sins are not exactly defined in the Bible. However, they are common and prevalent sins that stand out above others. As stated, every sin is condemning to send a person to hell. The issue at hand is the way we seek to deal with our sin. This series will help us understand common sins and how we attempt to overcome. Ultimately, it will point us to our desperate need for grace and appreciation for the cross of Jesus.
- Who is the “someone[thing] stronger” object in your life? In other words, how do you often attempt to deal with your sin based on the 3 coping strategies presented?
- How does sin get stickier or worse… as the 7 spirits who return to make the person’s life worse than at first? Describe possible situations in your life or observations in others.
- How does obedience help you overcome sin (Luke 11:28, John 15:5-11)?
- How does grace help you overcome sin (Titus 2:11-14)?
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
1) Some things we must reject outright from culture. These are things that are completely incompatible with God and the Bible. There can be no compromise on these things. Examples may include homosexuality, abortion, porn... these are moral sins that are found in the commands of Scripture.
2) Some things we can receive from culture. These are things that God has given humanity the intelligence and innovation to create and bring about for the common good. God sends rain on the just and unjust (Matthew 5:45). An example is the use of medicine, doctors, etc.
3) Some things we must redeem from culture. There are some things that were morally good or neutral but culture has corrupted. They must be reclaimed for God's purposes. Examples may include certain technology or inventions, sex, gender and relationship views and others.
These 3 categories are helpful in trying to discern how a Christian is to relate to culture without watering down or abandoning the heart of the gospel.
Before Jesus left the earth he prayed, “I have given them your word and the world has hated them for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:14-18).
At this conference, Pastor Mark Driscoll made a few observations about the way Christian interact with the surrounding culture. Here are some of the ways he listed:
Christians are like the Pharisees or Essenes:
They avoid the culture by creating sub cultures. It’s the mindset that church culture is a bomb shelter; huddle up and hide. Christians become innocent but extremely naïve. The problem with this view is that evil not only exists outside of ourselves but inside our hearts. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” An example he gave was the home school movement. This is not to say that all who home school are wrong. But the motivation for doing so should be evaluated. If all Christians left public school system or sports leagues, stores, or any other public arena, then how will they be a witness for Christ to the world? Jesus said his prayer was not to take us out of the world but have protection from the evil one.
Christians are like the Sadducees:
They accommodate the culture. The church simply mirrors or reflects worldly styles and trends. In this case it becomes difficult to discern the difference between Christians and unbelievers. By default, the love of the world becomes god. The obvious problem with this view is producing god-substitutes rather than a clear difference and reason to become transformed by God’s grace and have devotion to Him alone.
Christians are like the Zealots:
They violently attack the culture for everything wrong that exists. They may be right in doing so but their methods are by far from honoring God or loving toward people. The church becomes known for what it is against and never what it is for or in support. The problem with this view is that it is arrogant and prideful. It forgets the reality that we are all saved by the mercy and grace of God. And it fails to offer the intended purpose of the gospel to transform others.
Christians are like the Disciples:
They seek to influence the culture with the gospel. They understand they are not perfect models but they point to the One that is, Jesus Christ. They have accepted the call to be on mission with God to redeem a lost and dark world without hope if they do not receive the gospel. The church becomes very public and culture shapers while remaining counter cultural. Christians are sent as missionaries just as Jesus was sent into the world (John 17:18).
So which are you and your family? Which category does your church fall into? If you find yourself in one of the first three categories then be honest in your evaluation. Repent of your sin of indifference, compromise or arrogance. Begin to make steps of faith to become more Christ-like. Follow the path and courage of the early disciples that others may take note that we have been captured by the extravagant beauty of God’s grace desiring to reflect that with others (Acts 4:13).
I attended a couple break out sessions. Here were some notes from one.
Breakout: Psychology's Gospel and The Gospel's Psychology by Dr. Sam Williams
Biblical counselors must reclaim the cure (salvation) and care (sanctification) for souls. The fundamental problem with humanity is that we are sinners. Every soul is broken and disordered and it traces all the way back to the original fall of mankind (Genesis 3). We cannot manage or cope with this problem with our own solutions. The only cure and freedom is found in the offer of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Jesus frees souls from a history of messes, mistakes and failures. Even more, the continuing care for our souls is found in repentance, faith and obedience to God and His Word. At the heart of the issue is everyone is a worshiper, therefore every problem we face is a worship problem. The question is who or what are we worshiping and what is it that we are using to find "freedom"? This is the goal of biblical counseling and there is a difference from biblical counseling and "Christian counseling". Christian counseling is often secular counseling cloaked in christianese language. To be clear, if prayer and seeking God's wisdom through the Scriptures is not central to your counseling experience then it's highly unlikely there will be any effective or long-term benefit to your sessions.
Dr. Williams offers this quote from David Fitch (The Great Giveaway):
"...psychology is an intepretive enterprise that shapes the very way we make sense out of our lives and see the world... It is a structure for the interpretation and understanding of self-identity... schools of psychology have as much interpretation in them as any religious history or other sytem of knowledge... As [others have noted], the therapist sits in a position of power over me imposing this pre-structured story line upon how I am recounting my life. The patient is virtually submitting his or her life to be analyzed and re-narrated according to a particular brand of psychology... Christianity and psychology do not necessarily lead to the same truth and experience. Instead, they are two different ways of interpreting our reality, producing two different ways of experiencing and living in the world... Now the all important question for the Christian entering therapy becomes, out of what story will I allow my life to be formed, Jung (or some other theorist) or [Jesus] Christ?"
God's Word on the subject:
Colossians 2:2-8 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
Another resource that has been helpful to me and that I am considering further education opportunities with is http://www.ccef.org/ This is probably the leading organization when it comes to restoring Christ and the Scirptures to counseling.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Josh McDowell in his book, The Last Christian Generation (p.60) says, “Parents carry more weight – for good or bad – than they give themselves credit for. How a child thinks and acts is still molded by his or her home life, which means the crumbling foundations of the faith among this generation is as much a parental problem as a church problem, if not more so. If we’re going to reclaim the next generation, then the home and the church must join forces together like never before.”
Teach your child to obey/worship (Eph 6:1-3).
Paul directly addresses children in the Ephesians letter. The presence of children in the congregations where the letter is to be read can be taken for granted. The command is for children to obey parents. This command is repeated either directly or indirectly at least 11X (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16, 22:7; Matthew 15:4, 19:19; Mark 7:10, 10:19; Luke 18:20; Ephesians 6:1-2; Colossians 3:20; 1 Timothy 5:3-8). This is an insurmountable principle hammered throughout the Scriptures and cannot be overlooked. Children honor their parents by obeying them.
The language of obedience is active and ongoing, υπακουετε meaning to listen under, to submit and heed authority. In other words, the command is to keep on obeying your parents. Obedience and honoring one’s parents does not stop at a certain age. However, this does not negate individuals becoming mature, fully independent and responsible adults.
In the Bible, obedience is closely related to the idea of worship; they are almost synonymous. Obedience is to be from the heart, with a desire to please the person. How does all of this relate to parent partnerships to grow godly generations? How can we teach children to obey and worship?
1. By nature, children are worshipers; we all are. They either worship Jesus or they worship an idol or false god; neutrality is not an option. Worshiping anything other than God is a sin and violation of the first and second commandments. For parents, one of the first assignments is to bring out this reality of right and wrong. We cannot obey God in ourselves. That is why we need a Savior. Parents can shepherd their child's heart by pointing them to this reality. And part of this process is discipline and correction.
Proverbs 22:15 “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.”
Much can be said about disciplining a child. I recommend the excellent book by Tedd Tripp, “Shepherding A Child’s Heart”. Its counsel and advice is biblical and God-centered rather than the plethora of worldly goals and techniques offered on parenting today. Any Christian parent should make it their #1 book to read apart from the Bible on parenting.
The point I wish to make is discipline must first start at home. You will notice through the book of Ephesians, 2 main institutions: the home and the church. It is the parents who are commanded with the responsibility to teach children obedience and proper worship. It is not the role of any corporate/social organization (church, school, day care, etc.) to discipline your child. In fact, it is that much more difficult if for such organization to accomplish its mission if home discipline has been negligent.
Correction teaches the reality of consequences. It communicates that obedience is an essential character trait to learn and apply throughout all of life. Even adults must obey authorities, laws and yes even honor parents! Ultimately, correction prepares children for that day when eternal destinies will be fixed. Will your child be ready for this day by the way you have disciplined and corrected your child. To remember, and perhaps most importantly, discipline is a heart issue not behavior modification. You must lovingly point your child to the reality they are a sinner in desperate need of God’s forgiveness and grace in Jesus Christ.
2. Parents can teach children to obey by loving what is good. Worshiping Jesus is the greatest and highest action any person can do. Parents model this through faithful, consistent participation in the corporate worship of God in a local church.
Psalm 84:1-2, 10 “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God… Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
Priorities and repeated behaviors communicate to children what parents value. If you did something 884 times the cumulative message is that “this matters”! Well, that is how many opportunities you have to take your child to Sunday worship until they are age 17. Parents may raise objections to say it is not reasonable because of hectic schedules families face. While there may be some truth, I want to offer some helpful tips for making Sunday worship a priority.
- Discipline your Saturday nights. Get a good night sleep, have clothes picked out, and other items ready to help the morning time contain less stress and conflict. Help your child anticipate and see the worship service as a special.
- Prepare your Sunday mornings. Eat a good breakfast, turn off the t.v. and prepare your heart to corporately worship God. Pray with your family, read Scripture together, listen to praise music.
- Unite your family. This involves sitting together with your children. Try sitting up close where children can see what is taking place in the service. Don’t be afraid to explain what is going on. Help them participate in the worship service by discussing what will take place as you look in the bulletin. Bring a special notebook/crayons/pens, etc. for children to “take notes.” Tell them to write/draw things they enjoy in the service or write questions. Make a list of items for them to draw or words for them to listen for in the music and sermon. Model the process of taking notes and have them watch what you are writing and doing during the service. Remember, you are the living example!
- Summarize your Sunday. Praise and encourage your children when they have worshiped well on Sunday morning. Ask your children what they learned. Move beyond “yes” and “no” questions to seize the opportunity in teaching and nurturing your child. Be creative and do a project that was based on the sermon. Make use of the new Sunday School curriculum pages that are being sent home to enhance discussion during the week.
- Pray for/with your family. It is no coincidence that Paul discusses spiritual warfare following his instructions concerning family relationships in Ephesians 5-6. A battle is being waged against your family and the greatest weapon your family has is prayer. Pray for/with your family- even beyond the family meal.
- Remember your calling. Training a child to love God and enjoy corporate worship is not easy; it’s counter culture. It will take significant time and effort to shepherd your child’s heart over the course of his or her life. The key is to remember your calling before God and trust God for the results. The benefits you will receive far outweigh the challenges you will face in knowing you are investing in the next generation to know and serve the Lord.
- Cultivate your friendships. Make opportunities for your child to talk with the worship leaders and pastors. Invite them to your home or out to eat so that they will feel that the worship leaders and pastors are approachable and friendly.
- Recommended Resource: Parenting in the Pew: Guiding Your Children into the Joy of Worship by Robbie Castleman. See Pastor Dave for study guide to coincide with book.
Teach your child to feed/grow (discipleship) (Eph 6:4)
Paul also commands parents, specifically fathers, to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Again, the language of the command is continuous (εκτρεφετε) to imply keep on feeding and training your child. It is the same word used in verse 29 of caring for your own body. The goal is for fathers to take an active role in maturing your children to spiritual growth.
I want to make a couple observations on this point and then share some other unique perspectives with you.
- Discipleship starts early.
I cannot emphasize enough the need to expose your child to spiritual truth during their earliest years. George Barna says that a child’s moral, spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional and relational foundations of people’s lives are determined primarily before age 13.
- Discipleship takes intentionality.
Your child will not know or understand spiritual truth by default. In fact the opposite will happen, and perhaps disastrous consequences may occur. As parents, you must set some goals for your child’s spiritual growth. You must also understand how to accomplish such goals. I believe in this area our expectations are too low. We need to be challenged to raise the expectations for our children and as we do I believe our children will rise to the occasion.
- Discipleship happens relationally.
When Jesus wanted to make disciples he called people to “be with” him (Mark 3:14). This is where the partnership with other parents and the church fits in as well. By the family and the church relationally walking alongside each other we can set our sights on raising spiritual champions for Christ and growing godly generations.
Andy Stanley says that we are making our children experience rich but relationally poor. We give our children experiences in school, sports, competition, trips and travel but we cannot forget that our children long to just be with us.
There is one perfect person that we can partner together in our parenting and raising up the next generation. That is the Heavenly Father. God does not want you to do this alone. He wants you to be in relationship with him. Are you in relationship with God? Have you committed your family to journey on the foundation of God and his Word?
TAKING IT HOME
- What makes it difficult to reach today's generation, the Millenials?
- Why does obedience have a negative connotation?
- What can you do to show that joy is a byproduct of obedience?
- Of the 8 helpful tips to prepare your family for Sunday worship, which are the most challenging? Easy?
- Of the 3 observations concerning child discipleship, what stands out to you and why?
- What parenting goals will you begin to establish for your children? How will you implement them?
- What are some ways your family can partner with others through the church to raise godly generations? (The Mattox's spoke of a few... get the recording!)
 The Expositors Bible Commentary, Ephesians 6:1.
 Again, I refer to Tedd Tripp in Shepherding a Child’s Heart, especially pp. 103-117. Also, Russell Moore’s article, The Eschatology of Parenting found at http://www.russellmoore.com/index.php/2008/12/10/the-eschatology-of-parenting/
 Transforming Children into Spiritual Champion, 2003.
 Parental Guidance Required, DVD.
Monday, February 16, 2009
This is the last message in our TEXT LOVE series; just as teen relationships fade quickly so too our series comes to an end! This will be part 2 of HGG. As you may remember, a HGG is a Hot Godly Guy or Hot Godly Girl. Becoming a woman of godly character indeed both a rarity and a noble task (Proverbs 31:10). Yet, the society we live in does not promise to be of much assistance.
- 1 million teen girls become pregnant each year in the U.S.
- 1 in 3 girls have had sex by age 16; 2 of 3 by age 18.
- Eating disorders are 3rd most chronic illness among teen girls.
- Almost 35% of high school girls feel sad or hopeless almost every day for at least 2 weeks.
- There are increases in binge drinking among teen girls, who are more likely to consume hard liquor than their beer-inclined male counterparts.
- A young girl named Lyn Fromme sought to wreck her life with alcohol, drugs, rebellious living and attempted murder all for the sake of a guy who “loved” her. When asked why she said, “I decided when I was 17 years old that whoever loved me first could have my life.” If only she had known Jesus loved her first and more!
The place to look for becoming a HGG is none other than the Bible, specifically Proverbs 31. A HGG knows value is in her character.
HGG character means selfless serving.
The Proverbs 31 woman is not idle or lazy in her work ethic. Scripture notes her industrious lifestyle of working “with eager hands” (31:13) to help support and provide for her family and servants (31:15). This type of woman understands that her work is to be done as working for the Lord and to be done with all her might and effort (Col.3:23). An extension of this truth is that the virtuous woman is giving and gracious to others. “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy” (31:20). Such a woman is not selfish but seeks to benefit and aid others through her hard work and lifestyle. She brings good and not harm to others (31:12).
Teen girls often suffer from low confidence and assurance. They wonder if they can be of use to anyone and if there is an ultimate purpose to their life. The result of these things is depressed, angry, lonely and profoundly vulnerable girls. Jimmie Davis notes that “Girls try to fill the need emotionally… focus[ing] on how they look and feel (consider their obsession with makeup, hair, dress, and nails)… Many girls are willing to do anything to be accepted” and find their sense of worth.
This shows the necessity of showing girls God has a plan and purpose for their life. He uniquely created them (Psalm 139) with gifts, personalities and abilities to be of use to the greatest kingdom of all – that of serving Jesus. Teaching girls to recognize their worth through serving others is immeasurable. Jesus calls us to look beyond ourselves that we may be of benefit to God and others (John 10:24-26). In a me-first culture teens must grasp the awesome calling that God has placed on us all to live for him.
HGG character means wise ways.
The Proverbs 31 woman not to be underestimated in her intellect or capabilities. Her work is not confined to meaningless activity. She is quite industrious and wise in her business dealings. She plans her daily schedule getting up early in order to provide for her family and her servant girls (31:15). Her wisdom is displayed in the arena of real estate, as she considers and purchases land which in turn will be useful for business (31:16). All her trade and work is profitable (31:18). And faithful instruction is on her tongue to speak wise advice to others (31:26).
Most teen girls are smart (Or smarter than boys their age J. This is true even though girls can/will play less smart in fear of intimidating boys or in attempt to earn their acceptance. This in itself shows the intellect of the teen female intellect). They have the intellect to handle life’s situations, but they are lacking the emotional and spiritual maturity to do so. They need the godly example of female role models. The Apostle Paul instructed the church for mature women to train the younger women (Titus 2:3-5). Young girls are in need of receiving wisdom in what it means to be a HGG and how to become all that God intends them to become. Davis says, girls need help in sorting through the unite problems of womanhood. Girls are “searching for answers and, unfortunately, are finding answers based on worldly standards. Girls need someone who understands, and no one understands like another female!”
HGG character means confident charm.
The Proverbs 31 woman has confident charm because she understands real beauty is not found in her external appearance but in her internal character. She is not concerned about unattainable air-brushed, short-lived images the world presents for a female but she seeks to cultivate the character of her heart (1 Peter 3:3-4). A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (31:30). Her goal is to leave an eternal legacy among her family, that her children and husband will speak well of her (31:28), as well as those who know her in the community (31:31). A spiritual legacy always surpasses an earthly legacy.
TAKING IT HOME
· Why is becoming a HGG important?
· How do you know that society does not offer much help in creating a HGG?
· Is character more important than good looks? Explain.
· Share some specific examples about the difference between someone who is selfish and someone who is not.
· How can the parents and youth leaders help teen girls overcome low confidence and assurance?
· Why is it important for Men to mentor boys and Women to mentor girls?
· What is charm? What is confident charm, according to this message?
 The following stats and story are from Girls’ Ministry Handbook: Starting and Growing a Girls’ Ministry in Your Church. Jimmie Davis. p. 8-9.
 Ibid. 22.
 Ibid. 27.
HGG & INTENTIONAL DATING
Some have asked about the role for Christians and dating. Here are 2 questions to ask before you date. My suggestion is if you say no to either of these questions then you probably should not date but be friends with the person.
1) Are you ready to be married?
2) Could you see yourself married to this person?
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Second, I have heard it described before about ministry that leaders must find the waves and keep surfing. When the waves die find new ones. Or perhaps a more familiar way of explaining it that profoundly impacted me and my walk with God was an Experiencing God Bible study that said, “Find where God is working and join him”. So with that being said, I think I’ve found a surfing zone. Or at least an area where God wants to continue probing in my life and in the hearts of our youth ministry. You see, the TEXT LOVE series has simply been about God making you look more like Jesus through the context of relationships. Sanctification (God making you look more like Jesus) and holiness does not happen in isolation of other people. Your holiness is a community project .
For the next few week’s we’ll be surfing on a few more waves but they won’t look the same. But rest assured, they are waves from the same source. Our next series will explore common habits… sins that infect our lives and the way we treat others. It will be called Se7en for the 7 Deadly Sins. YES, I know the Bible does not teach different levels of sin, yet there are one’s that stand out that we can learn how to avoid their influence. In all, this theme was actually a request from a couple of our youth. To somewhat oblige and also to continue riding the wave we will see where God will take us from there.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
1. You get to have real conversations (not texting) and hang out with friends along with meeting new ones.
2. You get to see an extreme valentine makeover for our church fellowship hall.
3. You get to enjoy a fantastic dinner... mmm, I can almost taste it now. Dinner starts at 5PM. Youth should be there 4pm to organize dinner & childcare service.
4. The desserts will be off the hook (that means really tasty), as they always are thanks to many of you great bakers out there!
5. You get to invite unbelieving friends to a non-threatening opportunity of hearing the gospel through a solid, family-friendly dramatic comedy movie, Fireproof. If you're not signed up for the dinner or can't make it for some reason the movie starts at 7PM.
6. You get to enrich your marriage by spending TIME with your spouse! Men, we all need a few extra deposits in this bank account :) Even if you're not married you will enrich your future marriage or just get a kick out of watching 45 year old men try to fight back tears while watching a movie.
7. You get to enjoy a meal without children having a food fight at the dinner table.
8. You get see if our church's water pump will continue to work for 2 weeks in a row (jk, it's definitely fixed now... we hope, gulp!)
9. You get to give generously to our youth ministry who work hard at providing quality events for parents, church members and guests.
10. You get to memorialize this historic moment in time with a valentine picture for just $5.
11. I know it's a top 10 but we gotta give you one extra...You get to enter to win 1 of 3 of the super cool door prizes.
Monday, February 2, 2009
To counter these trends teens will have to make some changes, starting with themselves. To find your future mate and true love you must first become someone who is worthy of true love (one person says "dateable"). To put it another way, you must focus on being the right person before finding the right person to date. It starts with you; you becoming a HGG.
HGG is a 2 part ending to our series. We will talk about what it means to become a Hot Godly Guy or Hot Godly Girl.
1 Kings 2-3
A HGG is serious about his walk (2:1-3)
In this passage King David is passing his legacy on to his son, Solomon. David was acclaimed for his military strength and leadership but also for his passionate heart to worship God. The last charge before his death given to his son encouraged Solomon to walk with God. David understood there is no substitute for godliness and integrity. To be a man, Solomon was to remain faithful to God and obey his commands.
Consistent godly character and integrity are lacking among today’s teens. It’s not that there is not evidence of these things. It’s just that teen godliness and discipleship are rare rather than the norm. This is an unfortunate trend and requires immediate attention. I believe it starts with parents and funnels down to the teens. Parents must take back the spiritual responsibility of raising their children they have neatly handed off to the programmatic church. God has given this stewardship to parents and the church is to support and encourage the home. Parents can start by making Jesus and His Word a priority in the home. Reading, discussing and applying Scripture must become part of family routines. However, be careful that this is not a superficial or short-lived act. Teens can easily spot spiritual frauds. Likewise, teens can begin to realize the difficulty of choosing and maintaining priorities. You cannot be, have or do all the things you would like in life. Activities, trips, experiences must be carefully and perhaps strategically selected for intentional purposes. Ask, why am I doing this? How will this benefit my personal/spiritual growth? Some difficult choices may need to be made but with faithful commitments a foundation can be laid for a life time of walking with God.
A HGG is serious about his family (2:4).
Solomon was challenged to remain faithful to God and walk in his ways, keeping the commandments. In doing so, Solomon would continue the legacy of his father. God promised Solomon’s father, David that the royal throne of Israel would not be taken from his descendants. In fact, the promised Messiah would come from David’s line. However, this was dependent on faithfulness to walking with God.
This is overlooked in a society where children often rebel against authority, parents and ultimately God. Parent’s should be mindful to make early and frequent investments in their children so they are able to value carrying the legacy of walking with God. Children should understand that their decisions and actions impact more than their own life. The way a child lives his/her life affects parents, family members and even more, future generations. God told Moses & the Israelites that he would punish “the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation… but show love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:5-6). The point of application is your life and walk is more than being about only yourself; it affects countless others.
A HGG is serious about his influence (3:1-14)
Later, Solomon would take over as Israel’s king. God granted Solomon the opportunity to have his desires fulfilled. Solomon could have requested worldly pleasure but instead chose eternal influence. He asked God for wisdom to govern and discern right and wrong. As king over an entire nation, he needed spiritual wisdom to lead others to following the ways of God. Solomon’s influence was known throughout the whole world (see ch. 10) and has lasted even to modern times.
A HGG is someone who looks at the world around them and sees opportunity to make a difference for Jesus. God has gifted and shaped every person with skills and abilities to help others and glorify God. HGG’s are not content to be spectators but active participants in what God is doing in and through them.
In conclusion, those ladies who are looking for a man should look for one with these characteristics. Seeking one who has prioritized his life around things that matter, eternal essentials (Walk – God); seeking one who is selfless, respectful and honoring to others (Family); and seeking one who is not a crowd follower but a leader and difference maker (Influence). Are you a HGG? Are you looking for a HGG?
TAKING IT HOME
· Describe “TEXT LOVE” in your own words. How does your definition compare to Dave’s? What do you think are possible consequences of this trend in teen relationships?
· Why is becoming a HGG important?
· What does it mean to be serious about your walk with Jesus? What beliefs and behaviors does such a person have?
· Do you think teen discipleship is a rarity rather than a norm? Explain.
· Discuss how your actions can impact other people in your family and perhaps even friends.
· What can our family do to show we are serious about each other and about God?
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
This message is meant to show that everything matters; our thoughts, our speech, our actions. Teens must be reminded of this simple principle because a life played out in the context of relationships without this principle is disastrous. The consequences of sin does not escape anyone, including Christians! Even as Christians, we must guard our hearts and minds to not become desensitized to worldly ways. Teens often can often grow cold to Christ and his message and so begins the attitude of IDC: “I Don’t Care”. These words and attitudes are pervasive, and probably so in every new generation. As we examine a few verses, one should consider that caring is of crucial importance as we live in contact with those around us.
Proverbs 18:21-22 "Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord."
The author of these proverbs understands things matter. Words matter and friends matter. Our words can hurt and wound or they can heal and inspire. Proverbs goes a step further saying they can give life or death. Wow, that’s powerful! And those who understand this little principle will reap the rewards. Think about it, when is the last time you were wounded by careless, wreckless, idle words? Do you remember how long it took you to get over them? Was it hours, days, months… do you still feel the pain? The things we say and communicate to one another really do matter. At the same time, I know the effect and power words of encouragement can instill. When someone comes along side of you and speaks such words it is like refueling an empty car. You see, everyone needs a friend to speak words of life and hope. This is why God gives friends.
The reason friendship exists is so we are motivated to not give up. God wants us to keep our focus on him and serving others. However, due to the typical life challenges we can easily become discouraged and burned out. We need subtle, if not direct, reminders that what we do matters. This is the power of words and friendships. What kind of friend are you? Are you an IDC friend or one who is willing to break the mold and say, “I DO CARE”?
TAKING IT HOME
· Look for someone in your youth group or school who needs a friend. You can tell who they are because no one sits around them or they are extremely quiet. Go and talk to them with genuine interest. Ask them questions so you’re not doing all the talking. Perhaps God may have a plan for your new friendship.
· Explain the importance and power of words when it comes to relationships.
· Verses in the book of Proverbs are often unrelated. Though, when they are they seem to be powerfully important. What do you think is the connection between Proverbs 18:21 and 18:22?
· Illustrate on paper using Proverbs 18:21-22 and James 3:2-12.
· What are some helps to caution the way you speak toward others?
 One reference that is helpful to me in understanding how to communicate with IDC teens is The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Summer of 2005, vol 23, no 3. This specific volume addresses IDC teens in several helpful articles. To name a few, “What is ‘Success’ in Parenting Teens?”, “Why Do Kids Turn Out the Way They Do?”, "Addressing the Problems of Rebellious Children", and my favorite, “Counseling Angry, Unmotivated, Self-Centered, and Spiritually-indifferent Teens”. What a title!?!
Monday, January 26, 2009
God is the Creator of human life (Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8:3-4, 103:14).
Both man and woman were created in the image of God. This elevates human life above all other created beings since nothing else is said to be created in God’s image. It gives humanity significance and also stewardship in creation.
Life begins at conception (Psalm 139:13-16; Isaiah 49:1; Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:44; Galatians 1:15; Ephesians 1:3-4).
Individual life occurs from the union of the male and female sex parts, thus making a fully capable person with potential for every human capacity. Ultrasounds have literally become eye-opening pictures of the baby moving body parts, responding to external pressures and sound and performing human actions. At eight weeks all the organs are present with the brain functioning, heart pumping, liver and kidneys active. This is none other than the fingerprint of God. And it is reported that virtually all abortions happen after the eight week period.
Murder is wrong (Genesis 9:6, Exodus 20:13).
In every society murder of an innocent being is wrong. Not only is this an innate understanding in society but it is also mandated by the Divine Creator, who alone has the power to give and take life. Unfortunately in the case of the unborn child this is not so in our society. Based on the above beliefs, the unborn child should be protected as any other individual. “A strong argument can in fact be made for this even apart from biblical revelation, for the only differences between babies in utero and babies that are born are: (1) their location; (2) their size; (3) their level of dependence; and (4) their level of development”. Such differences should not allow death for one set of babies (pre-born) and life for another (those born).
Two other coinciding thoughts from pastor-theologian, John Piper are :
1. Existing fetal homicide laws make a man guilty of manslaughter if he kills the baby in a mother's womb (except in the case of abortion).
2. Fetal surgery is performed on babies in the womb to save them while another child the same age is being legally destroyed.
Those who do not have a voice need those who do to speak up; no in fact they need us to rise up. Rise Up to speak of the horrific actions taking the innocent lives of over a million babies each year; Rise Up to educate and inform others on life related issues such as abortion, stem cell research and use and offer the Biblical worldview for life; Rise Up to get involved in sacrificial ways (prayer, crisis pregnancy centers, adoption, rallies, banquets, finances and perhaps even protests when appropriate); and lastly Rise Up to sensitively offer the hope and forgiveness of Jesus Christ who have experienced or encouraged abortion in the past.
Will we Rise Up?
 From ESV Study Bible, Biblical Ethics: The Beginning of Life and Abortion, p. 2539.
 Fifteen Pro-Life Truths to Speak, found at http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2003/1690_Fifteen_ProLife_Truths_to_Speak/
Friday, January 23, 2009
This week a part of our lesson is in chapter 18. Here are some things I am learning from Moses (and the Holy Spirit!) and trying to apply to our Youth Ministry.
1) God calls every person to play a role in his kingdom. Everyone has a different part and each is meaningful to the whole. This includes every age, gender, personality type and skill level.
2) Leadership is about developing people. This means empowering others to assist in meaningful ways of service. Leaders cannot do it alone.
3) People are more affirming and respectful of leaders who develop than leaders who remain independent. If a leader is not developing and employing people to serve the vision then they will become dissatisfied and feel devalued.
4) Busyness does not equal productivity or effectiveness. Moses was busy but not successful as a leader until he understood the art of developing others. In a word, delegation. Delegation sounds negative but if properly understood it is really helpful to everyone involved.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please post in the comments section below.
AND as a plug for our YM... we're starting YOUTH LEAD. It's a new way of doing ministry but an essential one if we are to be effective in our vision of growing godly generations. If you are wondering how you can fit in YOUTH LEAD I would love to sit and chat over a cherry coke with ya. Hope to hear from ya.
Monday, January 19, 2009
As we discussed last time, TEXT LOVE is a love that is consuming but short-lived. Lots of attention, time and energy is poured into text love. In time, teens turn dating into an idol to be worshiped. Teens should recognize that dating often becomes “disposable” in the sense that text love crushes come and go. The only one lasting relationship you can count on is Jesus Christ. God loves you more than those who say they do and only for a time. God’s love is different because it is unconditional and eternal.
This message will look at TEXT LOVE from the perspective of dating. Should teens be dating? Or even should Christians date? What is the purpose of dating anyway? These are good and interesting questions when it comes to relationships. By examining 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 I believe we can better understand some principles to help us answer some of these questions.
God provides principles for my body.
Paul offers some strong commands in using your body for God’s intended purposes. He questions the Corinthians six different times to challenge their thinking in the way they are living by rhetorically asking, “Do you not know?” His purpose is to show that God does indeed have principles and commands to follow for Christian behavior.
The following questions can help guide you in the way you live your life. For the purpose of our theme TEXT LOVE we answer the questions accordingly.
·Does this action control me?
Paul quotes a popular saying of the day, “Everything is permissible for me”. People were using this quote to exercise their freedoms without self-control. Paul contrasted this in declaring, not everything is helpful nor will I allow myself to be mastered by anything. Paul knew that anything, even good things, can be turned into a selfish idol we worship.
Likewise, we must ask ourselves if dating a certain person is causing me to be controlled by them and separated from God and everything else. For instance, can you spend time with your family or friends apart from the person you are dating? Even more specific, while you are spending time with family and friends are you texting or constantly calling that person. If so, you may be withdrawing from personal contact with others and allowing yourself to be controlled by a single person. God wants you to repent from this and turn your attention toward him and patience in relationships. We should not be controlled by any person or any thing.
· Does this action honor God?
Paul states the purpose of each person’s body is to glorify the Lord. God created the body as a place for him to inhabit. It is not meant for sexual immorality, giving oneself to another without the boundaries of marriage. Even becoming a Christian has the symbolism of marriage, being united to Jesus Christ and him to you. As a Christian your body is the temple of God’s Spirit and would be dishonoring to God if engaged in sexual immorality.
When persons are dating the common question in Christian circles is “How far is too far?” This is the wrong question because its focus is not on honoring God but pleasing selfish desires. This only goes to further prove your body is becoming enslaved or controlled by that other person. If this is happening the best action is to put the brakes on the relationship. Make a commitment to not be alone with the person you are dating. Spend time in groups with other friends. Discover activities and hobbies that you both are interested in to help shift the focus off the physical to the relational. Above all, ask God to help you make wise decisions and actions that will honor him.
·Does this action protect future?
Paul reveals the dangerous nature of sexual sin saying that it is not only a sin against God but a sin against your own body. Meaning, sexual sin carries lasting consequences other sins often do not physically, emotionally and spiritually. Even more, sexual sin involves another being therefore multiplying the consequences. A Christian’s actions should not weaken another’s faith.
When it comes to dating one has to consider the future. Every relationship is moving somewhere. In other words, we must be intentional about dating because eventually dating should lead to marriage where physical, emotional and spiritual union can be affirmed. So, if you are dating someone, is it moving toward this goal? If not, why date?
The point is there is never any danger of being BFF. Friendship is a gift from God meant to encourage each other and exalt God. A friendship with this purpose has the potential to move to more but it does not have the expectation to do so. Therefore, teens should seriously consider the difference and openly discuss it with trusted mentors, parents and others so such relationships do not become a hindrance to honoring God. People who are BFF seldom if at all regret their relationship. However, those who date and/or engage in pre-mature sexual activity often and almost always have regrets.
TAKING IT HOME
· Do you think these 3 questions are helpful when it comes to dating?
· Why is “How far is too far?” the wrong question to be asking?
· How is sexual sin different than other sins? Is it more dangerous or carry greater consequences?
· What does it mean to date intentionally?
· What is the benefit of friendship over dating?