Archive for the 'Youth' Category

25
Jan
10

Six Questions

 

Any English or Journalism major will tell you there are six important questions you need to ask when writing or investigating a story. They consist of five W’s and one H:

  • Who (was involved)?

  • What (happened)?

  • When (did it happen)?

  • Where (did it happen)?

  • Why (did it happen)?

  • How (did it happen)?

These six questions, whether in news style, research, or any investigation, form the basics tools of information-gathering. They represent a formula for getting the “full” story on something. For a report to be considered complete it should answer all six questions. So, if we’re going to give the full story, if we’re to be able to relate what we believe to others, we must be able to answer the five W’s and one H of the Gospel.

 The first of the six questions is:

 

“Who?”

Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”  

Acts 9:4-5

Who are the main characters involved in the above passage? Jesus Christ and Saul of Tarsus. Saul was on his way to Damascus, on orders from the High Priest to arrest some followers of a new Jewish cult, when he is stricken by a bright appearance, causing him to fall to the ground and hear a voice call out to him. Saul is confused and asks an important question (the same question we must answer if we are to understand the full story of the Gospel): “Who are you, Lord?”

If we are to have any success in sharing our faith with others, we must answer that same question for ourselves. Who is Jesus Christ to you? Your answer to that question colors your clear understanding of the Gospel and the ministry of Jesus Christ. Well, you might say, “Jesus is my Savior”. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” He is God’s only begotten Son.” He is the Lamb of God, who takes away my sins.” All of those are accurate enough, but it’s not enough to just say words, you must know, in your heart that He is exactly Who Scripture says He is, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior. He was fully man, so He completely understands everything you struggle with as a person. He understands hunger, fatigue, lust, temptation, etc. But unless this is a settled matter in your heart; unless your knowledge of this comes from an unshakable conviction of the truth it contains, than you do not truly know who Jesus Christ is. So, I again ask the question: Who is Jesus Christ to you?

Now we move on to the next question we must answer to understand the full story of the Gospel:

 “What?”

So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 

Acts 9:6

Saul next question is, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” We must answer this question too, if we’re ever to fully understand the Gospel fully. What does Jesus Christ want you do with your life? He sent Saul on into Damascus, blinded. Jesus may want you to stop seeing things as the world does (blindness) and see things, perhaps for the first time, as He sees them. See the sin in your life, as He sees it. Feel the pain it causes, as He feels it. Speak out about the lifestyles you see around you, regardless of what it may cost you.

An example of this kind of courageous behavior was displayed when on a recent panel discussion on Fox News, commentator, Brit Hume made the following statement regarding the predicament pro-golfer, Tiger Woods, finds himself in:

“The extent to which he can recover, it seems to me, depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So, my message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.’”

A great many people immediately declared this the most outrageous thing they’d ever heard and denounced it as evidence of everything from chauvinism and bigotry to outright stupidity.

  • Jon Stewart used Hume’s words on the Daily Show, to mock and demean Hume’s convictions.
  • News commentator Keith Olbermann condemned Hume for trying to “threaten Tiger Woods into becoming a Christian.”
  • News commentator David Shuster suggested Hume had belittled his own religion by discussing it on a talk show.
  • A Washington Post TV critic mocked the idea that Christians should “run around trying to drum up new business” for their faith, unless of course “one believes that every Christian by mandate must proselytize.”

 

Mr. Hume simply shared what he thought Jesus Christ wanted him to do (i.e. testify to the truth of the Gospel). What does Jesus Christ want you to do?

Our next question to consider is:

 

“When?”

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”

Mark 13:3-4

Four of His disciples ask Jesus “When will these things be?” Jesus just described the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, and they basically ask when it will happen and when will Jesus usher in the Kingdom they so long for. We must ask ourselves when we trusted Christ. It’s important to know when you yourself trusted our Lord, not to the day or hour, but that it happened. The Gospel tells us Jesus will destroy sin’s reign over our lives, but we must ask the question when. When will we start living like we’re dead to sin? When will we start acting as we should toward our family, friends, or the world? And if we’ve not trusted Christ as Savior, then we must ask ourselves when will we?

The fourth of our six questions is:

 

“Where?”

And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

Luke 8:24-25

In this passage (and in the other Gospel accounts of this event) the disciples ask a couple of questions: Don’t you care that we are perishing? Who are you that you’re able to control the natural elements? The question we need to consider though is the one that Jesus asks: “Where is your faith?” The disciples had heard Jesus teach about the power of faith and even observed Him heal Peter’s mother-in-law. They walked so close to Him, yet didn’t understand what it meant to have faith. “Oh, ye of little faith,” is how it’s translated elsewhere. Jesus asks them (and us) where does your faith reside when you’re afraid, when you’re overwhelmed, when you’re pushed to your limit? Is your faith in Jesus (Philippians 4:13) or is still in yourself? You can’t begin to share your faith until you’re completely certain as to where is your faith resides.

The last of the five W’s is:

“Why?”

Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.  

Mark 10:17-18

Note the question Jesus asks of the rich young ruler, “Why do you call me good?” The young man wanted to be sure he had eternal life, in case he’d left something out.  He comes to Christ and calls him “good teacher” (a formal greeting, not a true estimation on his part). He had an intellectual recognition of Christ as an instructor, but Jesus asks him if he recognizes the true Lord standing before him. He was underscoring that man’s goodness isn’t comparable to God’s absolute and undefiled goodness. Jesus was asking if he could see the Messiah, the Lord, standing before him. If we’re to be effective in sharing our faith, we must understand why Jesus Christ is the only One Who can save us from our deserved fate. Why do you call yourself a Christian? Have you truly, unreservedly, totally given your life over to Him as your Master, or are you still holding something back. Why is Jesus the only One capable of bringing you salvation?

Now we move to our final question:

“How?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 

John 3:3-4

Nicodemus asks “How can a man be born…a second time?” Jesus has told him he must be born from above to get into the Kingdom. In effect Nicodemus asks: “How can I be born again?” And that is the final question in our investigation of the full story of the Gospel that we must be able to answer. We must be able to explain that one must accept the fact that we deserve nothing more than death and eternal separation from God. We must be able to believe that God sent His only Son, out of His magnificent love, to die in our place. We must confess (agree with God) that we are sinners, and can do nothing, of ourselves, to escape our fate. It is Jesus who saves us.

GB&G2U

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19
Dec
09

Hooking Up

In the summer of 2001, CNN reported on an Independent Women’s Forum study of college-aged women. The forum, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational group, conducted a nationwide study over an 18-month period of time, surveying the attitudes of 1000 young women. The results indicated that almost 40% of the women responding described themselves as “virgins.” At the time, the study cited an unspecified number of these young women preferred “hook-up” relationships to dating. Hook-ups were described as encounters that ranged from casual kissing all the way up to sexual intercourse, where neither participant expected any further commitment from the other party. The study also revealed that 53% of those responding thought it was a good idea to live with a person before deciding to marry them. Results from studies like these always disturb me, because they are a direct attack by the enemy, attempting to undermine God’s purposes for an entire generation. Today I am involved teaching a fellowship of Christian men and women from this generation who are now raising their own families and issues of purity are now important to them.

As I write this, the Christian world is caught up in the preparations for Christmas and focusing on Christ’s birth to a virgin. Whether in the Old Testament Hebrew or the New Testament Greek, the Bible defines a virgin as a person (either male or female) who has had no sexual intercourse. In today’s culture, staying sexually pure (in thought, word and deed) is looked upon as way outside the normal scope. Our world would have us believe that “everybody does it” and the study’s results (remember, not even four out of every ten young women asked describe themselves as virgins) supports that. We live in a society that believes casual sex is natural, healthy behavior. Over half the women questioned thought living with someone before you got married a good idea. When I read these things, I’m grieved by the spiritual ignorance exhibited. But then this has been the bane of Bible-thumping, Christians throughout time. Aren’t I over reacting, just a little bit? After all, this has been going on for a long time, and we’re no worse off as a people, right?

2 Corinthians 11:2

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

 

Paul expressed to the Corinthians his desire to see them presented as a wedding partner to Christ. As such, he wanted them to remain pure while waiting for the marriage day. To describe the passion of his feelings Paul uses a Greek term from which we get our word “zealous”. Paul had an intense fervor over them and their behavior. The responses of this study make me just as zealous for the purity and sanctification of the present generation! Studies, like the one above, remind me that I’m not doing enough.

In the passage above, Paul also uses the word chaste. This is an archaic word in today’s culture, but basically means inwardly pure, especially as it applies to conduct, how we act toward ourselves and others. It means untainted by sexual impurity, not just in action, but in desire and imagination as well. To be sure, sin has an external component, but purity and chastity have their inception internally. The Apostle John underscores this when he reminds us about the worldly enticements of the “lust or the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.”

2 Peter 1:13-16

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

 

One of our duties to this world is as defenders of what is pure and holy. Combating worldly attitudes and influences over things like casual attitudes about sex and relationships is our war. We cannot let the guard down for one moment. Yet, Peter calls on us who have accepted the name of Christ to be holy in our fundamental character and behavior as Christians so that we are peculiar, in contrast to the lifestyles of the unsaved. Not in a priggish, sanctimonious way, but in genuine distinction. We are to reflect the wholesome and winsome nature of holiness that causes the world to be genuinely attracted to us and the Lord and Savior we serve. We are to be holy, not just practice holiness, because we are now redeemed by God, the holy, just and pure creator of the universe!

GB&G2U 

01
Oct
06

Meeting A Mentor

In today’s world, mentors are very big. You have to have a mentor to succeed in business. Youth programs are built around providing young men & women with a suitable mentoring figure. The word mentor actually comes from Greek mythology and means a trusted counselor, guide, tutor, or coach.

As a young man, I adopted a friend as a mentor. His name was Curt, and he provided me with an excellent role model to follow as I charted my course as a new believer.


The Apostle Paul met Timothy during his second missionary journey. His father was Greek and his mother a Jewish-Christian, and Timothy was already a believer when he met Paul, through the testimony of his mother and grandmother. He likely replaced John Mark as Paul’s most trusted assistant and traveling companion.
 

 

As a young man, Timothy was not that different from young people today, especially not the ones I come in contact with through ministry. They are looking for role models. The world will only too happily oblige in providing their brand of mentors — individuals who do not uphold the values we have if we’ve trusted Christ. This is an area that I think we in the Christian community haven’t pursued all that aggressively, providing mentors to young believers. That started me on a study in II Timothy, a book I find filled with the wisdom of a strong mentor.


Paul is praying for his young “mentee” (that’s not a word, but in keeping with the theme of mentoring, I’m using it instead of disciple, for after all, we are talking about discipleship here). He prays with a valuable asset; a pure conscience. Your conscience helps you tell between what is morally good and morally bad. It prompts you to do what is good and avoid what is bad. Pure carries the meaning of being sincere, genuine, and free from sin and guilt. So here Paul prays for Timothy with the sinless, genuine confidence that he’s doing what God wants him to do. Do you have someone who prays for you? Is there someone in your life who is older, at least older in the faith, who carries your name before the throne of grace regularly? What an uplift that must have been for the young pastor (Timothy was the pastor of a church in Ephesus when Paul wrote to him)! What a source of strength and comfort when the cares of the day (and the cares and pressures of leadership, in the case of Timothy) come crashing down around us, to have someone we know and respect praying for us.
 

 

As I mentioned before, Timothy’s mother and grandmother led him to trust Christ. Paul reminds Timothy of the legacy his mother and grandmother have bestowed upon him: his faith. They were concerned enough for Timothy’s future to take intentional effort to share Christ with him as a child. They were role models of believers in Timothy’s day-to-day life. Paul is acknowledging the faith of Timothy’s relatives as well as the fruit of their faith, as manifest in Timothy. As believers we should be concern over and, if possible, lead our loved ones to trust Jesus Christ. That’s not the easiest thing to do. I tried with both my parents, with no apparent success, but still I was called to try. Who in your life do you pray will trust Christ? Maybe it’s a parent, a child, a brother, sister or even a spouse. God calls us to share the gift that is within us. We’re not responsible for the harvest per se, but we are called to plant the seeds. This farming metaphor comes back up later in Paul’s letter.

Why do teachers give quizzes on things you’ve already learned? To remind you of what you know. Paul reminds Timothy to stir up a gift God has given him. This stirring up means to keep something, like a fire, alive, preventing it from growing cold from disuse. Some believe Paul was referencing Timothy’s gift for preaching, teaching, and evangelizing which he may have allowed to get rusty. God is a gracious and generous giver of many gifts He wants us to use in furthering His kingdom. What has God equipped you to do that you’re letting lie cold and unused? Are you ignoring a special ability God has placed in you because you’re fearful?

Paul reinforces for Timothy what God has not given us: a spirit of fear. By that, Paul is describing a shameful, cowardly, weak and selfish character. Roman persecution, resentment, and false teachers were no doubt overwhelming Timothy. As a young pastor, he probably didn’t have a lot of confidence in his skills when it came to confronting persecution or refuting error. Often that’s how we act when confronted with attacks on Christians or Christianity. We lack the skill of the adversary, and rather than say or do something that will only get us into trouble, we remain silent, leaving attacks unanswered. But God did not design us to fear such things. We are each called to do great things for God and His glory! What is it you fear? What causes you to remain silent when God would have you speak forcefully?

I have often seen young men, coming out of seminary, ready to take on their life’s calling to pastor a flock and then get sent reeling when persecution or confrontation comes their way, from within their own flock. They are faced with the cold hard reality that God’s people are sometimes the pastor’s enemies. Paul wisely knew this, and as any good mentor will do, he is reminding Timothy of the provision, the education, that God has provided him that will help him resolve such issue, to God’s glory. What God did give us was a three-fold, not so secret weapon: Power, Love and a Sound Mind. Power is simply the spiritual energy to endure: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9). Love focuses on pleasing God and seeking the welfare of others’ before our own: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4). A sound mind is one that is disciplined and possessed of a self-controlled thought-life that orders things according to God’s Will and Word “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5).


As a mentor, one is not perfect or without flaw. Paul certainly wasn’t and neither was my mentor. I am not a perfect example for anyone I disciple. Paul was in jail when he wrote this letter (though through no fault of his own). There were many stories told about why he was there. Timothy’s enemies were only too ready to malign Timothy’s character to gain an advantage over him. If he was such good friends with Paul, and Paul obviously did something wrong to land him self in prison, then what must we think of his young protégé? Whenever a believer is perceived to fall, the world immediately tends to think the worst. Often, we in the church tend to get caught up in that wave as well. Paul didn’t want Timothy to be ashamed of being associated with him or Jesus Christ. Are you ever ashamed of being a Christian? Does that shame put you in a kind of spiritual paralysis? That’s the strategy of the enemy; dilute and weaken the impact of Christ in the life of a believer and half the battle is won. For a marvelously entertaining and enlightening account of this tactic read C. S. Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters.”
 

 

Being ashamed is the same as having a spirit of fear. We are not made for shame but to give God glory and to lead others to trust Jesus Christ as Savior. We as Christians need to find more mentors for our young believers. In many cases, we need to step up, regardless of our age, and be a mentor to someone Christ has brought into our lives. Who would He have you mentor for His glory? Posted by Picasa

Read II Timothy 1:8
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God…

 

Read II Timothy 1:3-7
I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

 

Read Acts 16:1–3
Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.




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