Those Young Whippersnappers!

My nine-year-old brother has a rather jaded impression of what teenagers are. In his mind, they are lazy bums who text and Snapchat their friends every waking moment with a disinterested expression on their face for 99% of the average 24-hour day. They have an appalling taste in music and in the end their overall appearance is of nothing. No appeal, no work output, nothing.

Unfortunately I think there are many that would agree with him. Many who were teenagers often forget the unsteady feeling of that age and those who have yet to achieve the “terrible teens” either bow down in blind hero worship or, like my brother, are completely disgusted of the entire concept.

My goal is to change that. Yes, it’s an awkward phase. Yes, the majority of teens are still discovering what the the world around them is and means. Yes, rarely ever do these halfway humans know what they’re doing. Am I still going for this? Definitely.

The Bible clearly showcases that such a thing can happen. A little girl in 2 Kings 5:2-3 essentially saves a guy named Naaman from the horrors of leprosy. David was a young shepherd boy when he slayed the crap out of Goliath. Jesus was merely twelve years old when He completely blew the minds of the learned teachers in the temple. It’s not impossible.

When it comes to God, there is no “not old enough”. As He has stated again and again, He doesn’t just use people who feel ready or the ones who are well adjusted to their bodies and characters. There is no discrimination in who can spread the love of God. My mom read a book recently about a nineteen-year-old woman who went to Uganda and taught kindergarten there to 100-something kids and ended up adopting thirteen orphans as a single unmarried girl. If that isn’t a prime example of how little effect age has on the way God can use you in your life I don’t know what is. Age is not and never will be a factor.

A phrase that I have heard many times in various different ways is “That’s astonishing for your age”. I want to strike that from everyone’s vocabulary. Make those acts of showing Christ so commonplace in today’s teenagers that it becomes a cultural norm. The term “teenager” has come to mean someone who doesn’t do anything extraordinary. That shouldn’t be. We are the representatives of the Lord of the Universe. Whether we be thirteen or thirty, it’s time we do Him justice.

Youth aren’t the future of the church. We’re the present.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV

 

Advertisements

Bipolar Friday

Good Friday.

In my house, that’s pretty much every Friday because it is the lovely day that precedes the weekend, but this one in particular has a special twist.

It’s quite a bipolar day. One moment it’s terribly sad and the next it’s joyously happy, which I can assume is a confusing prospect for people who don’t know the story around it.

Good Friday is the day Jesus was flogged, cursed, and executed by way of crucifixion. As you may perceive, this is the “terribly sad” part of Good Friday.

If that were the end of the tale, Good Friday would be called Bad Friday and we’d all run around weeping and wearing lots of black and would never be merry again. But there’s a catch.

Through Jesus living a perfect life and then through his horrid death, we get eternal life.

I know what you’re thinking: Well, somebody got the short end of the stick. And you’re right! There is absolutely nothing fair about this bargain. Jesus dies after living a whole life of never sinning – not even once – which we humans could never do and we get the prizes for it? This would not stand up in our courts, I can tell you that. In fact, why did Jesus even do it? He gets pain and heartbreak while we get to live out our little lives. To do something like this by choice is an insane decision to make.

The answer is, quite simply, that he loves us. Not in the past tense, mind you. He loves us so much that he would die. For you. And it caused him pain and sorrow and temptation beyond the boundaries of human endurance, but he did that for you and for me and for anyone else you would care to mention in the history of the universe. He died for the sins you did yesterday, and the sins you did today, and the sins of tomorrow so that we are secure in knowing that we will spend eternity in Heaven, which is described in plain terms as “the party that will never end”. And if that isn’t reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

Remember in the above paragraph how I said “loves” instead of “loved”? Doesn’t make much sense when one is speaking of a dead person, unless the person in question is a supernatural specialist with a habit of blowing minds.

Because Jesus didn’t stay dead.

I’ve Said This Before But I’m Saying It Again

You are here for a very specific reason. It isn’t just that God ran out of ideas for new humans to create and decided to pop a half-finished draft (like this post was for quite some time) from the bottom of the pile into the world. God had you – your appearance, your personality, your talents, whether or not you would stub your toe on the chair last week – planned since before the creation of the earth when nothing existed except for God. He carefully plotted out your entire life from start to finish, everything that you would do meticulously placed. There were no accidents, no moments when God ever regretted what He had formed. He always has and always will look upon you and smile at what He’s made. You’re His child, His baby. He’s had you in His hands and I promise you that He’s never left. Every breath you’ve taken, every “chance” encounter, has a purpose to it. Your mistakes and failures are just as important as your triumphs and victories. They all are for your benefit or for the continuation of God’s glory. Satan can try, but God’s already won the battle a thousand times over because of you. You are the reason that the living God fights.

Not only has He done all of the things I mentioned above, but when we dug our own graves, when we sinned and fell, when we cursed our Father’s name and turned away, He never left. He did not give us up as a lost case. He was right there the entire time. And when nothing else could save us, He sent His Son. But even then we did not realize what we had been given. We ridiculed him. We tortured him and killed him. We killed the Son of God. Do you realize that God could’ve turned us all to ash at that moment and it would have been perfectly justified? But He didn’t. He loved us and forgave us. Murderers, prostitutes, liars, thieves, adulterers. All was destroyed on the cross.

Don’t throw away the beautiful life you’ve been gifted.

The Sinful Nature’s Attacking…Again

After each meal in my house, I have to play drill sergeant to get the kitchen cleaned up. Sometimes, the soldiers children aren’t all that cooperative. Feet are dragging, there are moans like someone shot them in the stomach, they’re just not moving. And my patience is wearing thin. I’ll try to keep my cool for as long as possible, and then suddenly, RAWR! I’m yelling at the top of my lungs that if they do not start sweeping the floor I will tie them in a burlap sack and throw them into the ocean to get eaten by Ariel’s cousins. Then, I stop. Midsentence almost. Gasping for air, I wonder; Where did that come from? I feel physically and emotionally incapable of that terrible of a reaction to frustration and anger.

If you watch the news long enough, the picture of a murderer might show up on the screen. Perhaps they violently killed three people. When the family and friends are interviewed, at times they will say that they don’t know how this person could’ve done it. They always seemed so nice, and they wouldn’t hurt a fly. They’re wondering, Where did that come from?

It’s hard to imagine how truly horrible the sinful nature is. It takes over anyone, at any time, in any place. It does not discriminate between any sort of group. I think a common misconception is that when you become a Christian, you don’t feel the urge to sin anymore, like when you’re on a sugar free diet for a long time and don’t want to eat that triple fudge brownie because you’ve found something better. No, it’s not like that at all. Perhaps your soul has been given to God, but your flesh is and still will be with you until the day you die. It will continue to attack you, to tempt you, no matter what your standing. It won’t give up and the darned thing won’t die like some satanic immortal demon (that’s exactly what it is, as I think about it).

For example, we’ve got Paul. If you’ve ever taken a single glance at the New Testament, you’ll have heard at least a part of his story. He used to be called Saul and was a persecutor of people of the faith before he did a complete U-turn in the opposite direction and became one of the most amazing Christians of all time if I do say so myself. You’d think that a guy like him wouldn’t be tempted, or at least not as much as the common man, right? That’d be great, but nope. In Romans 7:18-20, he says “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” This is a man struggling with sin just as much as you or me.

This sinful nature won’t stop. And you’re going to get exhausted and depressed and want to put the sword down and take a break for one moment. How easy would it be to give in? To lie down and let the flesh take over, to pull you into the darkness. Simple. You wouldn’t have to work at all.

No one said this whole Christian thing was going to be fun and cheerful with rainbows and unicorns. Lovely thought, but that doesn’t come until later. But you will have peace and love. Jesus will always be there to hand you your spiritual Gatorade and to strengthen you for the next attack. In him, you may rest.

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

 

One Way, No Another

In case you haven’t noticed, the world’s thoughts and beliefs contradict each other. Like, all the time.

On one hand, you’re supposed to tolerate anything and everything, but you’re also supposed to help and love others.

Be kind. They need to toughen up, don’t assist them.

It’s okay to be fat, so here’s this weight-loss diet that I think you should go on.

Follow your dreams, but that one is stupid.

Don’t try to make yourself look better for anyone, just make sure you always look impeccable.

Share your opinions! As long as they agree with mine.

Do whatever you want, but don’t do that.

Life is a gift! Kill yourself.

It doesn’t matter who you are. Now change.

World peace! Send the nukes.

Work out to keep healthy. You should be skinnier than that.

I get confused simply writing this. Take a look at the world today. Murder, suicide, rebellions, drugs, faulty ideas of love, a minefield of bad decisions. We’re not getting anywhere. Even if all seven billion people of the earth got together under a single banner, we could not save a single soul. Driving in the middle of nowhere without a steering wheel, gas pedal, break, fuel, engine, seat, or GPS. A sure recipe for failure.

And then you look at the Bible. One truth, one concept. One right way to do everything. No trickery, no foul play, no dishonesty.

Just a God who loves you and sent his Son to die for the confusion, for this world of trickery and foul play and dishonesty. For the murders, suicides, rebellions, drugs, faulty ideas, and bad decisions.

For you.

There is nothing in this world that would ever do that for the mess of human beings that we are.

No Time!

Life gets in the way of God, can we all just admit that? Like, if I didn’t have to do school and eat and go on the Internet and watch The Hobbit cast interviews all the time, I would totally be able to do my morning devotionals and pray and go to church and do all that other stuff. But, as it is, there are so many things that I need to do in a day that I find I just don’t have space in my schedule. I listened to Chris Tomlin while I ate breakfast though, which has to count for something. I’m sure God understands that I can’t be in contact with him 24/7 because busy, busy, dreadfully busy. I think God shouldn’t have created such tempting distractions or else I would definitely be able to do everything a good Christian is supposed to do.

^^^ I’m sorry, your what gets in the way of who?

Correct me if I am wrong, but did you just say that the life that was given to you and bought back for you by Jesus Christ himself was getting in the way of a relationship with the all-powerful Creator of the universe and everything belonging to it?

This is ridiculous. You didn’t have time this morning to pray? How do you not have time to pray? It’s not a complicated practice. You clear your mind for two seconds to concentrate on God alone and say a few words, and you’re done. You can make it a lengthy business, sure, but it doesn’t have to be.

No time for Bible? In this modern age, there are apps that will read you the entire Bible if it has to in a variety of translations that can be received by the touch of a button. There are sermon podcasts that will take less than fifteen minutes to listen to – you could hear it while having your morning coffee!

Actually, that doesn’t matter! How can you not have time for the Creator of time? Who cares if you’re five minutes late to this oh-so-important meeting? If you got your time in with God, your day will go so much smoother!

The real root of this is that God should be your life. You should continue living for Him and nothing else. We try to think in a mindset that says that we control our lives and we are merely allowing God to be a part of it. We deem earthly, fragile things to be more important than the Lord. These things will fade. The money from those extra five minutes isn’t going to do you any good. They will fade and rot and fall away and you will sit there stripped of your possessions wondering what you should have focused on. Where it all went wrong. We’re stupid and foolish and slow-witted, and we don’t realize what we needed until the chances are gone.

Your life is not yours. It is God’s. So don’t ever let anything get in the way. It won’t last.

Different Levels of Sin

In our minds, we have different layers of the bad things we do. A white lie or thinking something bad about someone we might consider minor to the point where it doesn’t even require an apology. The next step up is a small trespass and a flick on the head with evil intent. We may not even think that that needs forgiveness. And we keep building these stories of sin. Perhaps the worst sin you can think of is murdering multiple people and the very least of sins is an eye roll at a person of authority. This goes hand in hand with the idea that the good person whom you have only seen sin once has a better chance with God than the person who got arrested for drunk driving.

From a human perspective, it makes sense. If those twenty dollars you nipped weren’t missed, than it isn’t all that serious. But if you took another’s life, it affected fellow humans and is thought to be a graver sin.

This is not the case at all. According to Romans 3:23, ‘…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’ In our sin, we are all made equal. The serial killer is no better or worse than the little girl saying her friend is stupid. All transgressions make God sad and all who believe will be welcomed back with a party and sounds of great rejoicing.

The very same price was paid for everyone – Jesus’s blood. Even if only one single sin had been committed in the entire history of the world, he would die for it. If he had to die a thousand times in agony to pay for a single soul, he would. By degrading the sin, you degrade the price paid for it.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.