Saturday, December 10, 2011

Demons 12/7/2011

Tonight we had a whole discussion about demons.  Are they real?  What about demon possession?  Can they kill?

Are Demons Real?

Yes demons are real.  Demons are fallen angels.  So when it comes to what they are and what they can do they would have much the same characteristics as angels do.  Demons are messengers of Satan just like angels are messengers of God.  The Bible gives several scriptures that deal with the reality of demons (Mt 8 and 9; Mark 5; Luke 10).  In these scriptures we see Jesus encounter people who are dealing with demons.  Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we are engaged in a spiritual war with powers we cannot see.  1 Timothy 4:1 warns that in the last days people will turn away from God and listen to the teachings of demons.  They are real.  They do exist, and they are still trying to deceive people today.

Can Christians be Demon Possessed?

No they can't.  God is greater than Satan (1 John 4:4).  If you are a Christian your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  God lives inside of you.  It's not possible for demons to also live inside of you.  Jesus talked about this when he talked about a demon coming back and finding the house empty.  If the house is empty and Jesus is not living there then the demon can come back and live there (Luke 11:14-28).  If we are living in Christ we are protected from demon possession.  We can still be attacked, but we cannot be possessed.

Can a Demon Kill You?

I am backtracking from my original statement on this.  I originally looked at the provision in Job where God told Satan he could do anything to Job except kill him (Job 1:12) as indicating that under normal circumstances Satan would have the power to kill.  But in rethinking this I think God was setting a limit on the power of Satan and his demons here.  God is still in control.  I believe demons can mess with our minds to the point where we will hurt ourselves, but they don't have the power to physically kill us.  God has still given us free will and He is ultimately in control.  Although we have power through Christ to overcome demons, they are not something little to be messed with.  We must be prayed up and in a right place with God.  There was an account in the gospels where the disciples could not cast out a demon.  Jesus said that kind came out only by much prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29).  There's also a story in Acts where some people tried to cast out demons just cause they saw other people doing it.  This is really dangerous.  They were not Christians and the demons attacked them (Acts 19:13-16).  Notice the demons did not kill them though.

In all of this remember that demons are a very serious matter.  We need to be careful to not open ourselves up to even the littlest amount of demonic activity.  When we mess with ouiji boards, or horoscopes, or witchcraft, or literature that might lead in that direction we are opening ourselves to demonic activity.  That is a dangerous place to be.  We should strive for holiness in Christ.  We should not see how close we can get to sinful activity without being consumed by it.  Take their power seriously, but know that we serve the God of all creation and He is much greater than anything Satan can throw at us.  He will ultimately be victorious.  Demons are not something to be messing around with, but we should also not be afraid because God is on our side.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hey, No question is too stupid when it comes to Marriage, Dating or Modesty! Girl's Only Random Wed. Nov. 30th

It was girl's night in random this week.  We had some great questions and great discussion.  We talked about so much, so I will try to keep it short by doing a question and answer format. These were all really huge topics as you will see.....
(Hey and just for fun I will throw some old pictures in of me and PJ.  Don't laugh to hard)
Marriage & Divorce
Why is marriage important to God? 
God created marriage for us so that we would not be alone.  God is good and all He creates is good....so marriage the way God intended is good.  Marriage is also suppose to be the picture of Christ relationship with the church.  Whoa, that is a big DEAL!  Pastor John and My marriage is suppose to show you all how Christ is with His church.  That is HUGE...so we better not mess it up by lying to each other, cheating, hurting each other or divorcing.  Marriage is very important to God it is promise to each other and to Him.
Ephesians 5 :21-33 is a great picture of marriage.  Genesis 1:27; 2:18,22,23,Matthew 19:4,5, Malachi 2:14
Why is divorce such a big deal to a Christian? 
Well, when you read why marriage is so important, I think we get the idea of why it is so important to do our best to make our marriages work and to not enter into a marriage so lightly.  For a Christian Christ is at the very center of our marriages.  Hebrews 13:4, Mark 10:1-10, Malachi 2:14-16:
How can I avoid getting divorced?
I could go on and on about divorce; but, I would rather just tell you how to avoid it.  The best way to avoid divorce is to be so in love with Jesus and have a relationship with Him.  He will guide you to the right person who will love Christ just as much as you do.  When your marriage is built on Christ and divorce is not an option then God can do something amazing.  Now, rough times come and you will always need help in your marriage because none of us are perfect.  Keep Christ first! 

Disclaimer:  Now people can choose to walk away from the Lord and not live for Him at any time.  God would never want you or your children to be in physical danger always keep that in mind.  God does give some provisions for divorce. Matthew 5:32

Dating
When should I date? 
Remember Pastor Christina's rules??? 
#1 Only when you are 30.  #2. When you go on your first date you must eat a whole bag of Funyuns! 
Seriously,  find out what your parents rules are on dating and obey those!  My recommendation is to wait as long as possible...even after high school.  Wow, that is Crazy Pastor Christina!!!!  If we were all honest, we would all say that dating is a lot of drama for even the most mature of people.  Jr. High and High should just be fun with no pressures and no heart ache.  It is totally okay to like people...God put those desires in us.  But our hearts should be kept for the one we marry. 

How far is too far? 
I can some this up in one line....."If you don't got it.....don't touch it!"   I am also going to add or see it!!!!!    Hahahaha I love that line, it is awesome and a great guideline.  Before you start dating(when you are 30 tehehehee) set up some rules for your self, let them know your rules and then never break those rules.  You will be proud of yourself and you will help yourself remain pure.   You will also relieve yourself of a lot of pressure when you are dating.  You know what to expect and they know what to expect.  As a Christian we also believe that sex is only for marriage.  So, I hope you all understand that Pastor Christina is telling you to save sex for the one you marry on your wedding day, it should not even be a part dating.  But, I do realize how hard it is to not feel tempted to have sex before marriage and I do realize that there is a lot of pressure to do it so (Romans 6:13)............

Tips on helping not to go too far in dating:
  • avoid being completely alone in a car, house where ever.
  • if you would feel uncomfortable doing something in front of your parents, you probably should avoid it.
  • have your parents keep you accountable for curfews, not letting you be alone with them etc. I know it is crazy to talk to your parents about this stuff ...but you will be glad you did!
  • Never, ever, ever hang out in each others bedroom...it is just not a good idea!

Disclaimer: You must always obey your parents and their rules for dating.

Lastly, Nobody has the right to pressure you to do anything you do not want to do.  You do not have to do anything to "prove your love" to anybody.  And NOBODY has the right to hit you, slap you or force anything on you ....EVER!  You are God's creation and you deserve far more than to ever be treated like that.  If you are in an abusive relationship....get out, get help.  If you can't tell your parents, come talk to Pastor John, Joe, Angie, Kristina or me and we will do everything in our power to help you get safe and be safe. 

Modesty
Why is modesty important?  Well, we have established in the previous questions that our bodies are for the one we marry not for everybody else.  Modesty is all about remaining pure and not causing others to stumble.  We need to honor God with our bodies and help others honor God with their thoughts. 

What are some things I can do to help me be modest?
Being modest doesn't mean you have to look dorky.  I challenge you to find great clothes that are really cute while keeping it modest.  You can do it, have fun and look great!  I have learned some really great tips in helping myself be modest here they are....

  1. Length of skirts and shorts should go past the tips of your fingers when your arms are down at your sides.
  2. If you bend over and touch your toes no one should be able to see your back end...under your skirt or above your pants.
  3. When sitting and wearing a skirt keep your knees together.
  4. Shirts and tops should be loose and not too form fitting.  Also makes sure that they are not too thin or see through.  Layering always works really great to avoid these things.
  5. Tops should also not have a plunging neckline.  Let's try to avoid letting people seeing down our shirts to our belly buttons.  Pick tops that have a higher cut neck line or use your fist to help you make sure it is not to low.   What, use my fist???  Make a fist with your hand....go ahead make a fist.   Put your fist up to the base of your neck.  Your shirt should not go lower than your fist.  Got it??? Great!
  6. I also place my hand on my neckline when I have to pick things up.   Even the greatest of shirts still can be seen down when you bend over. 
  7. My philosophy on underwear...wear it but don't show it!  If a guy sees that you have a pink bra on.....that will all he will think about when he is talking to you. 
  8. When in doubt....ask Pastor Christina or your dad.   Dads are really good at making sure you don't go out of the house immodest.  Moms may think. "You look so cute!"  Dads will think, "No, boy is going to look at MY daughter wearing that....go change your clothes young lady!"  Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha  got to love our dads; they really are looking out for you!

Disclaimer: You must always obey your parents and their rules for modesty.

Do you have any great modesty tips?  Leave them in the comments below!!!!!  Check out http://www.purefreedom.org/ for a great rescource on modesty!

One of my favorite verses:
I Peter 3
 3 Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.


Whoaaaaaaaaaaaah, I write too much; but I can't leave any of  it out.  Girls, I hope our conversations last night helped you all become the women you want to be.  Remember, God has a plan for you and wants to do amazing things in you!
Jer 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Always GET JOY!
Pastor Christina

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What is Love 11/16/2011

Tonight's discussion got off to a slow start and then rocketed into high gear really quick.  It was all triggered by a question I got through the form on the blog.  The question was, "Is it possible to be 'in love'?"  I believe this was springboarded from last weeks discussion that brought out the idea that love is a verb, an action, a choice.  So can you be "in love"?  Then the questions started flying related to this.  How long do you date someone before you say you love them?  Does love at first sight exist?  Then someone threw out this one:  Is it possible for gay people to be in love?  To which I said, "No" and a huge discussion ensued.  I'm sure this will spark some very interesting comments.  I look forward to hearing from all who read this.

Love Defined

The critical key to answering any of these questions is to first define what love is.  We threw around some ideas that came from what we've experienced and the things we've seen or learned.  But if we are to define love we need to look to it's creator.  To do that let's look at the word of God.  Specifically 1 Corinthians 13.  The whole chapter gives a great discourse on love.  You should check it out.  For definition purposes we'll look to verses 4 - 7.

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

The Test

So let's apply the test with these verses.  In the case of a gay couple or even a heterosexual couple who is living together unmarried or the teenagers who are having sex before marriage let's put them all to the test.  Could they be patient and kind to each other?  Yes it's possible they could.  Could they avoid jealousy, boasting, pride and being rude?  They could probably avoid those things.  Are they demanding their own way?  Yes they are demanding their own way.  In all three cases they are rejecting God's directives in their lives and choosing to live their own way.  Therefore they are demanding their own way.  Therefore that is not real love.  True love would never cause or allow another to continue in a relationship that is clearly living in sin.  True love would never want one to live in a relationship that would send them to hell.  They would want the greater good for the one they love.  Therefore in all of those situations it is not possible for them to really live in love with the one they are in relationship with.

I know there are many out there who would disagree with this point of view.  The problem is that we are allowing a sinful world to define love.  Love was created by God.  God is love (1 John 4:7-8).  His very nature and character defines love for us.  His word says that you can have no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend (John 15:13).  That's what Jesus did for us when He dies for our sins.  Love is not selfish.  Love would never lead another into a sinful relationship.  That's the opposite of love.  As Christians we need to speak up and stop listening to this sinful world's definition of love.  We have the truth and it's about time we got loud about it.

In Love?

That was the bulk of the conversation.  Not to leave out the original question.  Can you be in love?  What about love at first sight?  To look at these we have to remember that love is a choice.  It is an action that you choose.  It is not a feeling that comes over you.  Yes we have affection or attraction that draws our attention to an individual.  But to love someone only requires a conscious choice to do so.  I guess that would mean you can love someone at first sight.  Can you be "in love"  I would say yes you can.  It again would be something you choose to do.  It's not something you fall in and out of though.  I am madly in love with my wonderful wife.  Why am I madly in love with my wife?  She hates it when I say this, but it's for no reason.  If there was a reason attached to my love, then that would mean my love is conditional.  If I were in love because she's beautiful (which she is) then if that changed would I then not love her.  If I loved her for her intelligence or compassion or creativity (which she is amazing in all of those as well) again that would not be love because it would be conditional.  I am madly in love with my wife because I choose to be and that's all.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Do Difficult Things (junior high) 11/9/2011

Confronting Mom or Dad:

Last week we talked about Matthew 18 and the way it applies to our relationships and conflicts.  This week we talked about the same principles in a much deeper and greater consequence.  What if mom or dad is doing something that the other doesn't know about?  What if they are involved in something that could potentially cause divorce?  Do you tell the other parent?  What do you do?  First off, this is a situation that I pray no student ever finds themself in.  Unfortunately this will happen to some in the world we live in.  The advice on this conflict is still the same.  Follow the principles of Matthew 18.  You go to the one who has committed the offense privately and confront in a loving and honest way.  In other words if mom is doing something she aught not do, you go and tell her she needs to come clean with dad and stop it.  If she does the right thing that is the end of it from the confrontation side and hopefully the beginning of a healing that needs to take place.  However in that conversation with mom you let her know that if she doesn't tell dad in a certain amount of time that you are going to let him know what's going on.  This has to be one of the worst things a student could ever have to do, but it's the right thing to do.  Hopefully the difficult confrontation will lead to your parents talking things out and working through it and not just ending things.  However, know this one thing:  If the outcome is bad, it is NEVER your fault for confronting.  However, if the outcome is good, you can take some credit for intervening in a godly way and doing the right thing even though it was difficult.  Side not on this one.  If the confrontation is too big for you and too difficult to do on your own.  This is a serious matter that needs to be done.  You could talk to your pastor or youth pastor about it and they could help you with it.  I don't believe that would be going outside the bounds of scripture if you need someone to help you do the right thing.  If you don't have a youth pastor and need help with something like this send me a message in the contact form on this blog.  Be sure to include your email so I can get back to you on it.  As always make it a matter of prayer before anything else.  Prayer is our biggest weapon in times like this.

Divorce:

Then we dealt with a question that was emailed.  Is it ok to get a divorce if you just fall out of love with someone?  To answer this question we first have to look at what love is.  More importantly what part of speech is love.  I know if you look it up you'll find that it's a noun and a verb.  For our discussion here we are dealing with the verb form.  Love isn't some funny feeling that you get when you're around a hot guy or girl.  It's not chills that run up and down your spine.  It's not butterflies in your stomach.  Love is a verb.  It's an action word.  It is a choice that we make.  The Bible never commands us to marry the one you love.  It tells us to love the one you marry (Eph 5:25-30).  Based on that alone I answer this question with a resounding NO!  God created marriage to be for life.  You can't just decide one day that you don't love your spouse.  If you do, you are making a conscious choice to disobey God.  You can't fall out of love.  However, you can decide to love your spouse.  Put your effort into that and you'll be surprised what God will do.

Friends and Bullies:

Finally we wrapped up with a discussion about friends and bullies.  What do I do if my friend stands by and does nothing when I'm bullied?  What do I do if I see my friend being bullied?  Unfortunately in the first case you really can't do much of anything.  You could ask your friend why they don't stick up for you, but you really can't make them.  They could be in fear of being bullied themself.  Or maybe they just don't like confrontation or don't want to rock the boat.  There could be numerous reasons why they don't speak up.  You just have to tough it out through that one.  However, if you are the friend watching on the sidelines, you have a responsibility to act.  Do something to defend your friend.  Maybe not physically fight, but speak up.  Help in some way.  Jesus was the ultimate example of a friend.  He gave up His life in order to save us.  That is the biggest thing you can do as a friend (Jn 15:13).  To stand by and do nothing is wrong.  The Bible says that when we know of something good to do and choose not to do it then that is sin (James 4:17).

In all three of these situations we talked about very difficult things to do, but they are the right things to do.  Sometimes following God isn't easy, but it is always blessed.  Follow God's will for your life today.  You'll be amazed at how He will bless you.

Yikes, Do I need to tell people about Jesus?! (High School 11-9-11)

“When do you start really sharing your faith with your friends?” was the question asked on Wednesday night.  When do we make Jesus an important part of our conversation with the people we meet?  And how do we go about leading someone to Christ so they can become a Christian?   Joe wanted to get us talking about when “Do” we talk about our faith with our friends and people we come in contact with on a daily basis. 

If we are truly followers of Christ, then we will want to share His story with others.  Sometimes, it is hard to share our faith for many reasons like; we don’t want our friends to think we are freaks, we may be shy, maybe we don’t know what to say, or maybe we are afraid we will say something wrong.  The reasons are endless for why we don’t share or faith.  However, if we really love Jesus then we will share Him with others even if it is hard; because we know how great His love is for His creation (Jn 3:16) and to be obedient to His Word (Matt. 28:19).

John 3:16

 16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Matthew 28:19

19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

If we know information (The Good News) that will help those around us live full and happy lives why would we keep that to ourselves?  Doesn’t that seem a little selfish?  At some point in all our relationships (friendships, co-workers and acquaintances) they should find out that we are a Christian.  Of course, it should be evident in the way that we live and conduct ourselves.  But, we need to speak about our God to those around us.  God’s word says that we need to be a light in the darkness. 

Matthew 5:14-17

 14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

But how do I tell others about Christ?  I think some of the students were a little freaked out when Joe put them on the spot and said, “Lead me to Christ right now!”  It was good to challenge ourselves to step out of our comfort spot and tell Joe about the one who has saved us.   We came up with two different ways and I will add a third.
1.      Invite them to church and let the Pastor do it!
This can be an easy way of sharing your faith however; it cannot be something you solely rely on.  Each person we talk to may need something different.  They may need to know Christ right then.  They may not feel comfortable going to a church yet.  Reasons are endless as to why this cannot be the only way to share your faith.  But, it still is a good way and effective way of letting them hear about Jesus.
2.      Tell them the plan of salvation!
Maybe, you heard about the ABC’s of salvation in Sunday school when you were a kid…it still is a great reference in helping us to remember to lead someone to Christ.
A  Admit you are a sinner.
"There is no one righteous, not even one ... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Romans 3:10,23. (See Romans 5:8; 6:23.)
Ask God's forgiveness.
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Romans 10:13
 Believe in Jesus
(put your trust in Him) as your only hope of salvation.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 (See John 14:6.)
Become a child of God by receiving Christ.
"To all who receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." John 1:12 (See Revelation 3:20.)
C    Confess that Jesus is your Lord.
"If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9 (See verse 10.)

3.      Share your testimony. (this is my personal addition)
Sometimes, just sharing how you came to be a Christ follower is all you need to say.  It is important to build relationships with the people that come into our lives.  We do that by being real and genuine.  If we honestly follow Christ then we will care about His people.   Not to get another “Tally Mark” that says, “I lead that one to Christ” like we are in some kind of competition; but, rather out of care we must tell others about Jesus’ big love for them.  To simply sum up, if you asked Christ to be a part of your life share how you did that!

It is then important to lead them to a “Bible” believing church, get them a Bible (have them start reading in John or the other gospels) and begin the process of discipling  (growing in their faith and knowledge of Jesus)
Whew that was long!!!!!  But, we had some really great discussion.  Let’s take the time this week and share Jesus with others and invite them to the Jesus Hut!
Get Joy!  See you next week! 
Pastor Christina

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Conflict Resolution and Friends 11/2/2011

Tonight we had some really good discussion about how we deal with conflict among friends.  Maybe even among enemies.  Well to start someone asked what to do when one friend is complaining to you about how another friend treated them.  What do you do?  Where is the line between gossip and just being a good friend who will listen when a friend is in need?  What does the Bible have to say about all this?  To find our answer we look to Matthew 18.  I know the scripture is intended for conflict among believers, but it's amazing how well biblical principles work even with our unsaved friends.  Try it some time.

Gossip vs Listening:
So my friend has a problem with someone else and they want to vent at me, now what?  Our first question to that friend should be, "have you talked to the person you have a problem with privately about this?"  If the answer is "no" then it's none of our business.  All we are doing is entertaining gossip if we continue to listen.   Matthew 18:15 tells us to go privately and point out the offense.  If they don't listen then you can take two or three witnesses according to verse 16.  The problem is that our culture would rather talk about people than to people.  If we would just follow this one step first we would probably resolve a lot more conflict, and live in peace a lot more.

When I Have an Issue:

What about if I have an issue with someone who won't listen or work with me in a group setting? The same rules apply. Go to the person privately and try to work it out. If that doesn't work then you bring along someone else (maybe someone in authority or who would have an objective view of the situation). If the situation still goes unresolved sometimes you just have to let it go. We could all use a lesson in the art of not being easily offended.

They Get Away With Everything:

What about when you're following the rules and someone else continually breaks them? Even worse, they never get caught. Guess what, the same rules apply. Confront privately if it offends you. Then bring a witness or two. If they still won't listen follow the advice of a really good friend of mine. He would tell you to go to Walmart, get yourself a ladder and GET OVER IT! Sometimes people are going to do the wrong thing. We are only responsible for what we do. We need to make sure we do the right thing. If we let bitterness take hold of our heart and we hold a grudge it's only going to hurt us. They won't have a clue that we are upset. Let it go.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friends 10/26/2012

We have done something new and are splitting the junior high and high school every other week.  The incredible thing is that tonight we had almost identical questions asked about friendships in both groups.  Maybe God is trying to tell us something.  So the question bascially dealt with a friend who doesn't like my friends.  What do I do.  We also talked about what if I don't like my friends friends.  Or what if they are a bad influence?

My Friend Doesn't Like My Other Friends.

You have the right to hang out with whoever you want to.  No one can tell you who to be friends with.  If someone is putting conditions on their friendship then they are not truly a friend.  You shouldn't change your standards just to make someone else happy.  The Bible tells us not to conform to the world (Rom 12:1-2).  You shouldn't have to change what you believe just to satisfy someone else.  If that means someone may not like your friends because they are too "churchy" well that's just their problem and not yours.  You don't need a friend who is only your friend if you do what they say.  That's never worth it.

A Friend Who is a Bad Influence.

You need to be careful when choosing the people you hang out with the most and allow to influence your life.  The Bible says that we should sharpen each other like iron sharpens iron (Pr 27:17).  We should choose friends that will help us to grow in Christ.  Does that mean we shouldn't be friends with anyone who isn't a Christian?  No, not at all.  It just means that our close friends, the ones who influence us should be those who are helping us to grow in God.  We need to be careful to not let bad company corrupt us (1 Cor 15:33).

Divorce:

Finally someone asked about a situation they are dealing with.  How do I comfort my little brother or sister when they see our parents fighting and on the road to divorce?  It's sad to say, but you don't have to look far to see a family affected by divorce these days.  For kids it's a rough road to travel.  As a group we talked and it was cool to hear some of the stories of a brother or sister who helped in a time like this.  Probably the best thing you can do is just be there to listen and let them know you love them.  Spend time with them.  Let them know they are important.  Let them know they are loved.  And never underestimate the power of prayer.  Pray for your brothers and sisters.  Pray for your parents.  God's power is big enough to save marriages.  It may not always go the way we want it to, but God can do miracles.  His love is also big enough to carry us through difficult times like this.

In all of these situations for friends, enemies, friends of friends, parents, brothers and sisters we need to be acting like Jesus.  We may be the only example of Jesus that some people ever see.  Wouldn't it be cool if a terrible situation turned into an awesome opportunity to lead someone to faith in Jesus.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Abortion, Birth Control and Dating 10/5/2011

That title alone is enough to scare off anyone who is talking to teens, but we gave it a shot and had a great discussion about it.  It all started from an emailed question about abortion.  What does God and the Bible say about Abortion?

Abortion:
This actually didn't take very much discussion because we were sitting in a room full of people that agree that abortion is murder.  I'm sure there are people out there that would differ greatly on this matter.  I don't think there is anyone that would condone murder, so the real debate comes down to the question of when life begins.  Unfortunately the Bible doesn't give a simple statement saying that life begins at conception.  However there are several scriptures that deal with God knowing and loving us while we were still in the womb.  Genesis 25 gives an account of Jacob and Esau struggling with each other in the womb (Gen 25:21-23).  If something doesn't even have life I'm not sure how one could struggle with another.  Job asks God why didn't he die at birth (Job 3:11)  He didn't ask why he was never born.  He asks why he didn't die when he came from the womb.  This presupposes that he was already alive while in the womb.  Psalm 51:6 says that God can teach us in the womb.  Jeremiah says that God knew him in the womb (1:5).  Jeremiah also makes the same mention of "dying" in the womb as Job did (Jer 20:17).  You see in Luke 1 that John responded to the sound or Mary's voice while he was in the womb (Lk 1:43-45).  Even science has proven that baby's can respond to stimulus while still in the womb.  I don't think we can deny that life begins at conception if we are really honest with ourselves.  The natural conclusion then is that taking a life is murder.  Therefore abortion is murder.  In case there is still any doubt I think the law is very clear on this one.  "You must not murder." (Ex 20:13).

Birth Control:
The whole discussion on abortion led us into the topic of birth control.  Let's get one thing clear from the start.  I am addressing the use of birth control for a married couple.  Any sex outside of marriage is clearly sin.  So, is birth control playing God or on the same level as abortion when it comes to ending a life?  We're dealing with a different situation here.  We are talking about preventing life from starting and not terminating it once it has begun.  Those pills that terminate a pregnancy are not birth control.  They are just an abortion in a pill.  So that is not what we are talking about here.  The Bible does tell us to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 9:7).  The Bible also says that children are a blessing (Ps 127:3).  However there is no specific command regarding birth control.  God has intended for married couples to have children and raise them in a Godly home.  But there are no specifics on numbers and whether we are free to make those decisions.  This becomes a matter of personal conscience as godly spouses prayerfully covenant with God about the growth of their families.  We need to be careful that our motives are pure and we are trusting in God to lead us.

Dating:
We had a lot of good discussion on this topic.  I think I'm going to ask a lot of questions here in the blog rather than give a bunch of answers.  Follow me on this for a bit.  What is the purpose of dating?  I asked that in our discussion and the group said it was to find the person you are to marry.  Why does dating make it easier to find that one rather than just being friends?  Can you have deep conversations with a friend?  Can you go places with a friend?  Can you hang out with a friend?  Can you marry your friend?  I hope you do.  To be clear here I am talking of a friend of the opposite sex.  We had some confusion in my use of the term "friend" on Wednesday night.  What kind of committment is involved in dating?  What does it take to break that committment?  So what does dating prepare you for?  Let me answer those last three questions.  The committment I guess is however deep you make it.  All it takes to break that committment is a decision.  There are no terms connected to it.  So dating teaches us that committments are temporary and easily broken.  Dating better prepares you for divorce than for marriage.  I have yet to find a teen who can convince me that dating is necessary.  If they are honest I think it has more to do with the physical side of the relationship and their hormones than they care to admit.  Focus on friendships.  Focus on getting to know people for who they are.  Focus on the great things that God has in store for your life.  Maybe you'll see there really is no need for dating.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Jesus, Dinosaurs and Diets 9/28/2011

Is God Jesus' Father?


Tonight we got the chance to address a question that was emailed to me from the fom on this blog.  I hope whoever sent it is reading this.  The question was, "Is God Jesus' father?"  It didn't take much discussion for the students to just say yes, but asked them to tell me how they knew.  It's very important for you to know what you believe, but it's just as important to know why you believe it.  There is a concept in the Bible that we refer to as the Trinity.  We serve one God, but He exists in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).  That's how the Bible describes it.  You won't find the word "trinity" in the Bible, but the concept is definitely there.  When Jesus gave instructions on baptism in the great commission He told His disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19).  The clearest reference to Jesus as the Son came at His baptism when the Father said, "this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." (Mt 3:13-17).  You see the trinity here again.  The dove is the Holy Spirit.  The Father speaks.  The Son is baptized.  This is one of those concepts that is a little hard for our human brains to grasp.  It's one that we accept by faith knowing that God is bigger than we are.

What About Dinosaurs?

I don't remember the exact question, but someone asked about dinosaurs and where they fit on a timeline.  Before I even get into this I have to say that I am no scholar on this topic, but I did a little research and it all makes sense.  First we went straight to the creation account (Gen 1).  The Bible says animals were made on the fifth day and man on the sixth.  Therefore I believe dinosaurs and man roamed the earth at the same time.  I did some research and it turns out there is a lot of evidence for this.  First off the Bible talks about dinosaurs in a few places using the word "behemoth" or "leviathan".  (Job 40 & 41, Psalm 104 and Isaiah 27).  The word dinosaur isn't used, but that word wasn't invented until 1840 so that kind of makes sense.  Computer isn't in the Bible either, but I don't see anyone arguing against their existence.  Some believe dinosaurs were referred to as dragons in ancient times.  There is also a lot of evidence for this.  The other thing to think about is the fact that dinosaurs or dragons are used in a lot of designs on ancient pottery and artwork.  They couldn't have gotten these images from fossils.  They had to have seen them in real life.  There are also some remote places in Africa and South America where tribes have described seeing what looks like dinosaurs in present day. 

Here's something else to consider.  Reptiles never stop growing until they die.  Back before the flood people lived to be almost 1000 years old.  It can probably be assumed that animals would have lived longer under the same conditions.  This could account for the size of  dinosaurs and why we don't see them today.  Maybe present day lizards are what used to be dinosaurs.  There are a lot of arguments that I'm probably not doing justice.  You can check out this video: 
http://toptenproofs.com/article_dinosaurs.php if you want some more info.  The video is kind of long, but he's got some really good points in there.

The bottom line for me is this:  The Bible gives a record of creation.  The animals were created a day before the humans were.  It's not a stretch for me to believe that dinosaurs and humans roamed the earth at the same time.  I think I can believe that a lot easier than I can believe I came from a rock.  To me that takes a crazy amount of faith.  I'll choose to put my faith in a loving God who took care in creating me.

Vegetarians:

Finally someone asked about being a vegetarian.  Is it a right or wrong issue?  Is it a sin issue?  There are many reasons that people choose to be vegetarian.  I think it's completely up to them.  If it is a moral decision for them then I applaud their committment.  The Bible is clear that we are free to eat meat.  God gave us dominion over the animals and there are several instances where eating meat is condoned.  When it comes down to it, it's not a sin issue.  You can choose to eat or not eat meat.  Either way it isn't a sin.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Destination Campus 9/21/2011


Tonight was a little bit different in r@Nd0m.  I brought a challenge to the students to impact their campus with the gospel and become a campus missionary.  The event was called "Destination Campus" and it was happening in youth groups all over the state as we look forward to See You at the Pole next week.  So students here is a reminder of the commitments your are praying about this week.


Don't forget to bring back your signed card next week if you are committing to be a campus missionary.  God has great things in store for us this year and I can't wait to see what He will do through you on your campus.  Also, don't forget to join students all over the nation in prayer this Wednesday at 7:30 AM at your school's flag pole.  We'll see you at the pole.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Walk to Remember 9/14/2011

Tonight we had a pleasant surprise in r@Nd0m.  I got a call this afternoon from Trey Hancock, a missionary who lives in Dearborn.  He is walking from Dearborn to Mackinaw City to raise money to build a church.  Yes you read that right.  He started on September 5th and has walked all the way to Gladwin.  He will continue all the way to Mackinaw City and celebrate with a plunge in the waters beneath the bridge.  Since we had this golden opportunity I asked him if he would join us and share with the students and answer some questions.

Here's a little bit of background on Trey.  He has been ministering to Muslims in Dearborn for many years.  I remember as a teenager that he came to visit my youth group.  He has been faithfully serving the Lord in a challenging field for quite some time.  The greatest population of Middle Eastern Muslims outside of the middle east live in Dearborn.  It's as if you have left the United States and stepped into the middle east at times.  It's quite a different culture to live and minister in.  He's been doing this for years and now they are in the process of building a church there.

One of the students asked him why he was walking so far.  I jokingly said he was trying to show what it's like to be a missionary without speed the light.  That really isn't the case, but he liked that and I'm sure he is understanding what that would be like.  Just a reminder to all the students we need to provide the equipment for our missionaries to do the work God has called them to do.  OK, I'm done with my commercial.  Trey shared that his real reason for walking was to raise funds to build the church.  Then he shared a bit about ministering to Muslims.

Trey talked about how Islam is completely anti-Christian.  The world we live in would like to water down our religions and pretend that we are all one.  That is a deception that Satan would like us to believe in order to lead us away from God.  The call to prayer of Islam states that there is no other god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.  This is a complete lie.  The Bible clearly states that there is one God and Jesus Christ is His son.  Some would try to confuse us into believing that we are all worshipping the same God in different ways.  That is just not true.  There is only one true God.  Please keep Trey and his ministry in your prayers.  Pray for Muslims everywhere that they would hear and accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

There is no such thing as a half-truth!



After a two month sabbatical we are back at it in r@Nd0m.  It’s good to be back.  Tonight someone asked about the difference between a half truth and the whole truth.  You know those times where technically we are telling the truth if you examined only the words we said.  But if you look at the intent and the meaning of what we are leading people to believe it might not be the real story.  So let’s dig in.

Lies:
First let’s establish why it’s wrong to tell a lie.  We’re born with an innate sense that tells us it’s wrong to lie, and yet we all do it because we’re also born with a sinful nature.  You don’t have to teach a kid how to lie.  We all deny everything from the moment we can say, “wasn’t me.”  Our parents teach us that it’s wrong to lie.  Well I hope they do.  The Bible even tells us not to do it.  Remember those stone tablets that Moses got in the book of Exodus (Chapter 20).  So are all of those the reasons that it’s wrong to lie?  NOPE!!!  The bottom line is that it goes against the very nature and character of God.  He is the way, the TRUTH and the life (Jn 14:6).  So God is truth.  To lie goes against His very nature and therefore it is sin.


Half-Truth:
What about when we technically tell the truth, but leave out a few facts so that we don’t get in trouble or don’t hurt someone?  Is that a sin?  I would say the best example of that is found in Acts 5.  Ananias and Sapphira sold some property and then brought an offering from that sale.  They kept some of it back, but wanted everyone to believe they gave it all.  The passage clearly says that they lied to the Holy Spirit in doing this and they died for their sin.  The Bible is very clear that God looks at the heart.  If you are intending to deceive then you are lying.  Even if the words you use aren’t technically a lie it’s still a lie.  There is no such thing as a half truth.  If it’s part lie then it’s all lie.  If it’s not totally truth then it’s all lie.  You can’t go half way on this one.


So what about those lies we tell to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.  All guys dread this question:  “Does this make me look fat?”  The Bible tells us to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15).  If someone is wearing something that makes them look bad how is it loving to tell them it looks good?  Then they are going to wear that thing out in public and it will be even worse.  If we really love someone we will tell them the truth.  It may hurt for a little bit, but it will keep them from greater pain later.  So if someone has something in their teeth when you’re talking to them politely tell them.  Don’t let them walk around like that.  That’s not what a true friend does.  We should speak the truth in love.  Don’t forget that last part.  Don’t be mean about it when you’re telling the truth.  Still be loving and kind.  It’s all about truth and love because that’s what God is.  Follow that and you’ll be alright.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

When Doing Nothing Is Wrong 6/15/2011

We’re back.  We had a week off for baccalaureate and another week away from the blog for a missionary.  That was a great meeting though and Marti Roman really challenged our students to be lifelong givers to missions.  So we returned tonight with one main question:  If you know someone is doing something wrong and you don’t do anything about it is that a sin?

We spent some time discussing hypothetical scenarios.  What if you’re friend is doing drugs?  What if you have a friend with an eating disorder?  What if they are abusing alcohol?  What if they are cutting themselves or are suicidal?   Do you tell someone or is it just their own business?  It is true that people are accountable for their own actions.  We can’t remove the personal responsibility of the person who is doing the action.  The question is, what is our responsibility.

Edmund Burke is credited with the quote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

This quote wraps up the whole idea of our responsibility here.  Doing nothing in the face of evil is condoning that evil.  By our silence we are saying that we agree with what is being done.  There are several places in scripture that deal with what we do.  In the parable of the sheep and the goats the only difference is what they did and didn’t do (Mt 25:31-48).  God is clear that we will be judged for that.  In the parable of the talents it is the servant who did nothing that is condemned (Mt 25:14-28).

To stand by and do nothing in the face of someone else headed toward destruction is wrong.  So I went a little deeper.  If it is wrong for us to stay silent when someone’s physical life is in danger then how much worse is it for us to stay silent when they are in spiritual danger.  We must not stay silent when we are surrounded by lost souls in danger of spending eternity in Hell.  James 4:17 says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”  Therefore, the answer to this question is Yes it is sin to stand by and watch a friend live out a destructive behavior in their life.

Now, this doesn’t mean that we are to be everyone’s personal “Holy Spirit” in order to convict them of sin.  For the situations we described above you should lovingly confront the person and tell them they need to get help.  If they are not willing to get help for themselves then you tell someone who can help.  You’ll probably lose a friendship on this one at least for a while.  But a true friend would care more about their friend than the friendship itself.  For situations where their life is not in danger you lovingly tell them the truth and let them make their own decisions from there.  In those instances you have to fall back on the perfect Sunday School answer to all questions – pray and trust the Holy Spirit.

Don’t be someone who stands by and does nothing.  That’s all it takes for evil to triumph.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It's the Thought That Counts 5/18/2011 and The Apocolypse 5/25/2011

First off I have to apologize for not getting this out last week.  Things got a little crazy, so this is a combination of last week and this week.  Last week's discussion dealt with our thoughts.  This week we tackled the contraversy surrounding Saturday's failed rapture predictions.  Let's look at the battle that takes place in our mind.  The question was asked if it is a sin to think about doing something sinful.  In other words if I think about stealing something and kind of plan out how I could get away with it is that a sin?

Temptation:
There are too many variables in this question to give a yes or no just to the question.  I think the circumstances and the motive of the heart come into play on this one.  If we are dealing with a situation where you are tempted to do something and then pray and fight against that temptation trying to dismiss it from your mind that is not sin.  It is not sin to be tempted.  Jesus was tempted in the wilderness (Lk 4).  Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted just like we are and yet He didn't sin (Heb 4:15).  Take comfort in knowing that God is on your side when you are tempted and He will help you find a way out (1 Cor 10:13).  Also know that God is not the one tempting you (Jas 1:13).


The Battle for the Mind:
Romans tells us that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Ro 12:1-2).  I believe this means that we are to daily surrender our lives and our thoughts to Christ.  We need to submit them to His will in order to live a life that is pleasing to Him.  Colossians 3:2 tells us to set our mind on things above.  In other words we should occupy our thoughts with the things that matter to God not the things of this world.  We should definitely not occupy our minds with thoughts of sin and how we can disobey God's commands.  There is a spiritual battle (2 Cor 10:5) that takes place in the mind long before we ever commit and sin physically.  If we can win that battle we will be way ahead in that battle to stay pure and live a holy life.  From this we can see that there is a thought process that leads to sin.  It may not be sin in itself, but it will lead to destruction if we don't submit that to God.

What are you thinking?
Now onto those thoughts that are sin on their own.  I think the big one is probably thoughts and fantasies of a sexual nature.  Jesus said if you even look at a woman with lust you've commited adultery in your heart (Mt 5:28).  That applies to women looking at men too.  The Bible also tells us that if you hate your brother that is murder (1 Jn 3:15).  If we constantly dwell on thoughts of sin or impure thoughts.  Those will lead our hearts in a wrong direction and be sin to us.  The Bible also says what you think in your heart you are (Pr 23:7).  So we need to make sure to guard our minds.  The things that we think can easily be sin to us.  It is not a sin to be tempted, but we need to be careful what we immediately do with that temptation.


Rapture:
This past weekend the news was filled with reports of a man who predicted the rapture was going to take place at 6:00 PM on Saturday.  The term "rapture" is not actually found in the Bible.  Rapture means to be "caught up" or "carried from one place to another."  So even though the word itself isn't in the Bible the teaching behind it is there.  We definitely believe in the rapture of the Church (1 Thess 4:13-18).  We also believe that no one knows when that will happen.  We believe that Jesus could return at any moment (Mt 24:36; Mk 13:32)  I'm not going to try to figure out the motives of a man who would predict something that is clearly against scripture.  I'm also not going to try to guess at how God will judge that.  That is for God to sort out.  However let's look at what all this means for us.

Are You Ready?
The fact that the rapture is going to happen should lead us to ask the question, "am I ready?"  Jesus is coming back for a spotless bride that is prepared for His return (Rev 19:7).   The church is referred to as the "bride" in scripture.  Sorry guys you just have to live with  it.  This actually kind of fits with the whole discussion on our thoughts.  In order to be ready for Christ's return we need to be living a holy life.  That doesn't mean that we are never going to sin, but we should not be living intentionally in sin and not asking for God to forgive us of our sins.  If we do sin we should ask for forgiveness and determine to turn away from it (1 Jn 1:9; Ac 13:9)  Paul's purpose in writing the Thessalonians passage was to comfort and encourage them about what is going to happen.  If we are ready for the Lord's return we do not have to be afraid of it.

Who are you bringing with you?
We need to see the urgency of the task that Jesus gave us (Mk 16:15-16)  We don't know when the rapture will happen or when someone's life will end.  We should be sharing the gospel every chance we get.  I remember a time when I was a teenager and doing some ministry in Detroit.  The guy I was with was going up to everyone that walked by and getting their attention with an urgency.  He said he needed to talk to them right away and they needed to hear what he had to say.  It was almost as if he was warning people about a fire or some impending danger they weren't aware of.  He had a serious urgency about what he was doing.  I learned a lot from that day.  We need to have that kind of urgency in sharing the gospel.  The time is running out.  We need to give as many people as we can an opportunity to know Jesus.  I hope that when that day comes you are ready to meet Jesus.  I also hope that you have a huge crowd of people with you that are ready to meet Him because of your influence in their lives.  Let's get busy doing the work God has called us to do.  Time is running out.