As we prepare to send our graduates out onto college campuses, into missionary or military service, into marriage and parenting and the reality of making a living and making a life, we do so with a mixture of tears and joy, fear and relief, confidence and questions.
Rest assured they feel the same emotional blend as you. Though their next few weeks will be filled with parties, gifts, well-wishes and celebrating; they too have fears, anxieties, uncertainty and questions.
My prayer as a pastor is that those questions and uncertainties are not spiritual ones. My hope is that we have adequately prepared a foundation for them that will not shake under the assault of questions from unbelieving professors and friends. That they will remember the lessons and models of godly friends and teachers, mentors and parents. That they will not forget the “rock from which they were formed.”
And when the party decorations congratulating the graduating class of 2015 have been thrown away, pray that they will never lose touch with their roots as they begin to fly. That they will never lose touch with the family and church body that loves them.
Amy Carmichael, praying for the girls of an orphanage she operated in India, offered the following words:
Dear God, make them good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Let them never turn back in the day of battle. Let them be winners and helpers of souls; let them live not to be ministered to but to minister. Make them loyal; let them set loyalty high above all things. Make them doers, not just talkers. Let them enjoy hard work and choose hard things rather than easy. Make them trustworthy, make them wise for it is written: God takes no pleasure in fools. Let them pass from dependence upon us to dependence on Thee. Let them never come under the dominion of earthly things; keep them free. Let them grow up healthy, happy, friendly, and seeking to make others happy. Give them eyes to see the beauty of the world, and hearts to worship its Creator. May them walk, Lord, in the light of your countenance. And for ourselves we ask, that we might never weaken. God is my strong salvation. We ask that we might train them to say that word, and live that life, and pour themselves out for others, unhindered by self78. How we need these words to live again today in our children, that they may “pour themselves out for others, unhindered by self.”
Think your way around the room where the saints gather on the Lord’s Day. Over here there is a family who’s income is $800 a week and their outgo is $1000. There are two children in one family who, according to their Dad, are “failures.” “You’re stupid…why can’t you be more like your sister?” The lady in the back just found out a tumor tested positive…Sam and Louise had a nasty fight last night…one that broke the camel’s back. Each is thinking about divorce. Last Monday Jim learned that at week’s end he has no job…Sarah came to church this morning trying her best to cover the bruises from a beating she received at the hands of her drunken husband. The Smith’s found out their infant girl has a hole in her heart. That teen over there feels like he’s being pulled apart by his parent’s expectations which pull one way and his peer group and his glands pulling the other. The lonely, the dying, the exhausted, the confused, and others at the mercy of crises and forces beyond their control…they’re all there. You can travel down the pew of every church…..and find a broken heart. And often, a broken family.
The Chinese symbol for crisis is actually a combination of two symbols: One that means danger. The other means opportunity. A crisis is certainly a threat. A danger to our understanding of how life operates. But it is also an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to do a reset of how we are living…how we are functioning. It’s an opportunity for us to ask ourselves the question, “Is the Lord really building this house, or are we laboring in vain…?” Is our foundation really God’s Word, God’s truth, God’s wisdom? “By wisdom a house is built….” (Proverbs 8)
Jesus had some important things to say to us about how our families are to be built….What our foundation is built upon…what we are to do BEFORE the crisis comes, BEFORE the threat becomes a reality, BEFORE the storm hits….(Read Matthew 7:24-27) EVERY HOME IS BUILT ON SOMETHING. Jesus compared the foundation of our life and of our home to two possible scenarios. You can build your house on sand or rock. You can build your family on shifting realities or on that which does not shake. You can ground your home and family in wisdom or in foolishness.
Jesus is saying with this THE CHOICE IS YOURS TO MAKE.
The Franklin Graham Festival of Hope is almost here. Many have prayed and prepared for this exciting time of worship and evangelistic outreach. You can learn much more at http://jacksonvillefestival.org/ and, to get a sneak preview of some of the musical artists who will participate, take a look at the following video.
So what does a Christian believe? What constitutes the “faith once for all handed down” to the saints, as we read in the Letter to Jude? Are there negotiable pieces of our faith or is it all a part of the tapestry that cannot be removed without unraveling the other parts? According to Focus on the Family, a Christian worldview involves the following:
Do absolute moral truths exist and is absolute truth defined by the Bible?
Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life and was He resurrected physically?
Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, and does He still rule it today?
Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be earned and is Jesus the only way to know salvation?
Is Satan real?
Does a Christian have a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people?
Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings?
Did you answer yes to these? Only 9 percent of “born- again” Christians did so! Our worldview determines our behavior, our core values, our philosophy of life. According to George Barna, a child’s worldview is set by the time he is nine years old! That means long before she enters adolescence, the worldview that governs decision-making and behavior is set in place, informed by:
Pastors /church leaders
The question the church must continue to ask itself is: Are we communicating a Christian worldview to our children, to “the next generation?” If we are not, then we must stop and ask ourselves “why?”
In March of this year, a team from Fruit Cove invested their spring break serving in Cuba. Take a look at their report and testimony on renovations at camp and encouragement to brothers and sisters in churches in Central Cuba.
Would God have you serve in Cuba? Other teams from across Florida will be going to Cuba this year and we’re already making plans for 2016. Want to know more? Click here and ask!
Each week, I try to do a blog post on various topics. This week is on Social Media and its effects on our students. After doing a series with our high school students, of which social media being a part, I thought I would share some of my findings and how we can respond with you. You can see my other related blog post at fruitcove.com/how-social-media-can-ruin-your-teens/. I hope this encourages you to be aware of how it can effect your teen and what steps you can take to prevent some of the negative effects.
The Evils of Social Media… Part 2
2 Weeks ago, I wrote a post about what I believe can be a trap and disaster for many teens: Social Media. Teens who operate social media unfiltered, inexperienced, and unaccountable is a disaster that will happen (not waiting to happen). I would like to offer a short follow-up to that. In the last post, we identified the problem. Now we must answer how we as parents can help our teens honor God FIRST and be safe on social media second. Here it goes…
Follow them. There is no good reason for a teen NOT to be followed by their parents on social media. See what they post, see what they share. This will do 2 things, 1- hold them to a standard of what to share and 2- help you to see what they their peers are talking about. Also don’t like or comment on their posts. Trust me when I say its just better this way.
Monitor them. Have a weekly or bi-weekly unannounced time where you go through their phones and computers. Tell them you are doing it, and have them sit with you when this occurs. I believe there is great value in doing this when they are around, not in secret.
Talk with them about what is appropriate and not appropriate as it comes up and as you see it. A win is your teen coming to you and asking what you think about post. Another great way to talk with them is when a friend of theirs, that you know, posts some crude or shady and talks about it. Ask your teens thoughts and discuss it.
Offer Grace. As we say ALL THE TIME at r12 Parent Worship – TEENS ARE SINFUL. As parents we MUST be able to discern between when to bring the hammer and when to just correct. There are times you need to look at your teen and say that was silly/dumb, take that down AND there are times when you need to take the phone/computer away and lock them in a dungeon for a few years. If we want them to grow up, give them freedom but allow them to make mistakes. Just be ready to offer grace.
Look at what they follow, favorite, retweet and post. Go deeper than what you see them post; see what they value. Who and what they follow and who and what they favorite call tell you a lot about that they care about. If your teen is always tweeting about pizza, that means they love pizza. If your teen is always posting about dating/sex/relationships/boys/girls that means they are into something else.
DON’T stalk (follow) their friends… but DO frequently look at their pages/posts and see what they are putting out. Not stalking their friends will get you some credit with your teen. But doing research is what a smart parent does. So do your research, know who you want your teens around and who need to be shut out.
Snapchat is weird. Plain and simple, Snapchat is an app that lets them take pics that others can view for 1-10 seconds and then they are “deleted.” I would have a healthy discussion with your teen about the ramifications of an app like this. How, what can be sent and what they can send can impact for eternity.
Honor God. The goal must be in all this to honor God. Social media is fun and can be useful and it is yet another tool that we as parents can use to teach out children about honoring God. One of the greatest lessons we can teach our children is that we are not worried about what others do/have done. We honor God even if we are standing alone.
Read: “SCREEN AND TEENS” by Kathy Koch. It is $10 on Amazon and $4 for Kindle/paperless. Dr. Koch was recently on Focus on the Family discussing social media and teens. She has incredible insight and VLOG’s quite frequently. Check her out here: www.drkathykoch.com
Don’t be a hypocrite. As parents we must be faithful to practice what we preach. If your teen sees you/catches you viewing thing online that do not honor God (porn/violence/etc…) then all you have to say about what they look at goes out the window. We CANNOT be parents who say “do as I say, not as I do”. Jesus said follow me. Parents should respond in the same way, “follow my example.”
Dr. Tim Maynard began a new sermon series this morning entitled, “Raising Stand Up Kids In A Falling Down World”. Here is the first message from that series. Message entitled, “Standing When Cultures Collapse.”
There is a poem written a number of years ago about four blind men who stumble upon an elephant. The first man feels the massive side of the animal and decides, “an elephant is flat and large like a wall.” Another fell at the elephant’s leg, felt it, and determined, “an elephant is like a tree.” A third blind man feels the elephant’s large flat ear and declares, “an elephant is like a fan.” The fourth feels the elephant’s trunk and determines, “an elephant is like a snake.” The point of the poem, of course, is that each of the men were partially right, though coming away with differing descriptions of the same animal.
That, according to the author, is the way it is with men finding their way to God. One has one description, and one has another. But all are describing the same experience, with different personal interpretations based on their limited knowledge. Since all of us are blind, the reasoning follows, then we are like the blind men describing an elephant when it comes to religion.
If we were truly like the blind men, then our search for God would be no more profitable or successful than theirs. But we are not like them. While we may be blind, we have a God Who Sees Who is searching….for us! We are not stumbling in the darkness any more. God has come, has sent His Son to seek and save that which was lost.
And by trusting in Jesus Christ alone, we can be found!