Friday, July 31, 2009

Understanding Teens

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 NAS)

Teens On July 15, 2009, The New York Times reported the arrest of a 17 year old Manhattan teenager for the bombing of a Starbucks coffee shop at Upper East Side of New York City in May on Memorial Day, apparently modeled according to a scene from the 1999 film "Fight Club." Statements from the teenager indicated he was launching his own ‘Project Mayhem,’ a plan referred to in the movie. The teenager had bragged to friends that he was responsible for the bombing, and had started an underground fight club. He was charged with arson, criminal possession of a weapon, and criminal mischief.

As adults and parents, we may sometime not be able to understand what is going on in the minds of teenagers, and we may think being a teen today is much like when we were in our adolescence. We are however very much mistaken if we think in such a way, because the problems teenagers face today are far from what we can imagine. According to an article 'Problems Facing Teens Today' written by Keith Allen for, teens today are faced with life threatening decisions every day and they are not just about smoking, but includes crack and other strong deadly drugs. Apart from drugs, teens also face many other problems such as sex, violence, depression, drink driving and others. Even if they do not face such difficult issues, other lower level problems like lying, cheating, learning disabilities and emotional trauma can still be as deadly, and in some cases, some teens may choose to run away from the problems rather than face them squarely.

According to an article posted at on 'Running Away is Never the Answer,' “it is estimated that on any given night, there are between five hundred and one thousand homeless youth on the streets of Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and other major cities. Many of them are runaways - teens under the age of 18 who leave their home or place of legal residence without the permission of parents or a legal guardian." All these come from every social class, race, and religion, and they are usually hungry, scared, desperate, and very vulnerable to crime. The most common reason for teens to run away, according to the article, is family problems over issues such as curfew, behavior, dress code, grades, and the choice of friends. Some teens also choose to run away because of problems they are afraid to face, such as bullying at school, pregnancy, sexual orientation, alcohol and drug problems, or emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in their home, and any kind of shame which may involve parents, step parents, or other family members, making it extremely difficult for them to turn to anyone.

Such are the many problems faced by teenagers today, and regardless of faith or family background, the only thing that differentiates between the ones in trouble and the ones that are not, is the values they have learnt and adopted from the adults, the guardians and the parents, according to how they have been brought up. As Christian parents or guardians, therefore, we must always walk with God and set good examples for our young, so as to teach them godly values from the word of God. We must open up ourselves to give a listening ear to our teens, to show them love and respect for themselves and for everyone else. We must also work hard in bridging the gap between our children and us, yet without over controlling them or expecting total obedience, to strike a balance between discipline and love without provoking them to anger (Ephesians 6:4), in leading them to the right path, which direction they must eventually choose for themselves.

Father, teach us as parents and guardians to pay more attention to our teens, to listen and care for them, to love them without over-controlling them. Show us how to balance between discipline and love, to know when to instruct and when to let go. Help us bridge the gap with our teens dear Lord to understand them better and to lead them in Your path.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer Harvesting

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; (2 Timothy 4:2a NAS)

Summer Harvest Late summer and autumn bring in the bountiful harvests, and vegetable gardeners understand this very well. As the summer days go on, the gardeners harvest their gardens, a task seasoned gardeners enjoy and look forward to, while newbies have the satisfaction of learning to put food by. According to vegetable gardening expert Melody Rose who wrote an article on ‘Waiting on the Summer Vegetable Harvest’ for, unlike late summer, early summer is a frustrating time because while the plants are blooming and producing baby vegetables, the gardeners have to check on a daily basis, sometimes two or three times a day, for the likely candidates of the first ripe vegetable to provide a benchmark for a producing garden. All the other seasons, gardeners are left to be occupied with seed catalogs and indoor transplants while they wait as they can do nothing during winter, or the preparing and planting of seeds during spring.

Soul harvesting or winning people for Christ is very much like vegetable harvesting. Before the yet unsaved can turn to Christ or souls can be won or harvested, a great deal of checking must first be done to find out whether the 'candidates' are 'ripe' and ready for reaping. Sometimes, this can be very frustrating and time-consuming, especially when it comes to paving the way for the pre-believers to turn to Christ while they are still in the infancy of faith, blooming and producing 'baby' steps toward believing the Lord. Looking for germinating faith is like looking for a needle in a haystack because it is seldom visible.

There will be days when we feel totally helpless and incapable of doing anything to bring the unsaved and the people we care about to Christ except to wait and pray. It is during times such as these, we should keep ourselves occupied with 'seed catalogs' and work on 'indoor transplants' to spend time studying the word of God in learning the ‘art’ of soul-winning, and to help fellow believers grow in their walk with God. Only then can we be ready to plant the seeds of faith and share the gospel to pre-believers when the time arrives, in and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2), to meet and spend time with the people we hope to bring to the Lord, to pray for them and to prepare their hearts to know more of Christ.

What a great joy it will be when the day of harvest arrives or when we look forward to the harvest, for while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease (Genesis 8:22). Whether as seasoned witnesses for Christ or newbies learning to bring the unsaved to the Lord, we can be assured of the satisfaction we will receive in winning souls for the kingdom of God!

Still our hearts Lord to be patient when it comes to waiting for the harvest, and prepare us in the meantime through the study of Your word and through helping others grow in their walk with You. Teach us how to pave the way for pre-believers to come to know You and help us be observant to see who are the ones ready to receive You. Lead us Lord to preach the gospel to the pre-believers in Your timing that it may speak to their hearts and meet their needs. Help us Lord, to be ready in season and out of season to plant the seeds of faith and to share Your good news to the lost.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Remaining Days

Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you. (Isaiah 46:4 NAS)
The Remains of the Day In the 1989 Booker Prize-winner novel The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, Stevens, the main character in the story, reflects on his glorious days as a butler serving with dignity under Lord Darlington during the Second World War. Now, in his twilight years of life, he realizes how things could have been very different if he had pursued a relationship with Miss Kenton whom he had worked together during the years leading up to the war. Stevens and Miss Kenton failed to admit their true feelings, and as a result their relationship remained throughout as just a professional friendship which although came close to romance, never did cross the line to the end.

Many of us, like Stevens, tend to reflect on our past as we draw closer to our twilight years of life. We look back and evaluate to find out if we have lived meaningful lives and achieved the goals we have set for ourselves. We are quick to measure our achievements as a sign of success or disappointment, but we fail to realize these are not true indicators of what it means to live meaningful lives. True meaningful living is not about achievements, but about relationship, not the kind as expressed in this world, but the kind that bonds us to a closer relationship with God Who alone can fill the void inherent in our hearts.

Perhaps, some of us may feel we have lost our worth once we have crossed the line from retirees into the years nearer to the end of our lives. We may, like the psalmist, cry out to God not to cast us off or forsake us in time of our old age when our strength fails (Psalm 71:9). Although we may not be like Caleb of the Old Testament who at the age of 85 was able to say he is as strong as he was 45 years ago (Joshua 14:10-11), we can be assured that even to our old age, God will be the same, and even in our graying years, He will still bear us, carry us, and deliver us (Isaiah 46:4). We should therefore not give up on ourselves or sit back to count our remaining days, but like the apostle Paul nearing the time of his departure, continue to fight the good fight to finish the course in keeping the faith, for our future is laid up for us the crown of righteousness which the Lord our righteous Judge will award us on that day when we will meet Him face to face (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Thank You God for not forsaking us in our old age even when our strength begins to fail. Help us walk in You Lord even in our graying years to fight the good fight in keeping the faith till we finish the course. Keep us strong Lord to serve You with all our hearts and minds, regardless the remaining number of our days. Prepare us dear Lord in our twilight years to be ready to return to You when the time arrives for us to see You face to face, for You alone is our joy and fulfillment, the One and only God in Whom we long to live our lives through eternity.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Christian Dieting

Lord's Table

This 60-Day interactive course will teach you to enjoy a new found relationship with the Lord and how to find freedom from bad eating habits. It is possible, and you can learn how. Read More ...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sins of the Past

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12 NAS)

Crissy Former porn star Crissy (not her real name), and recent lead actress of the movie 'Oversold' by sumoJACK and Elevation Church, told the world in 2006 she has given up the adult industry to follow Jesus.

"I have decided that I want to be free from all of the guilt ... I want out of the business. I have so much more to offer to the world than my looks and body ... I want to experience true real life happiness ... to go back to my one true love who is Jesus. You may or may not believe in Him and ... I am not here to judge you. I am just here to share with you my story if you are willing to listen,1" said Crissy. "I left the adult business on October 6, 2006 when I made a public declaration to my fans. From that point on I didn't take any more money from the web site which was my main income, I didn't shoot another nude photo, or do another movie. Unfortunately, my past will always be there. Part of being involved in such a business involves signing your rights away to companies and web sites. They have a business to run and realize that sooner or later girls will want out so they have their bases covered from a business sense. That is the hardest thing for me at the moment because I have completely turned my life around but yet my past will forever haunt me. I do know however that what Satan has meant for evil, God can use for good. As bad as it might be I know it has led many to see my testimony. My goal now is to use my old broken life to reach out to others and help encourage other people who have struggles and let them know you can overcome them.2"

Like Crissy, some of us may be unable to forgive ourselves for the things we have done in the past, and may think we are beyond hope to expect God to forgive us. Perhaps our past may be too difficult for us to erase or there may be some areas in our lives we hope we can hide forever. Unfortunately, certain things in life can never be the same again and our past tends to haunt us even after we have determined to put them behind us. Regardless the guilt, the shame or the sense of unworthiness we may feel, we must not lose heart, because God can heal us, touch us, and change our lives. Our past may be hurting us even till this day, but we need not fear, for God is willing and is able to forgive us of all our sins.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17 NAS)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NAS)

And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:1b-2 NAS)

Experiences of our past, whether good or bad, can be used by God to do great things for the present and the future if we are willing to let Him work in our lives. Just as God is able to see Crissy through the healing journey from her past to look forward to the future in using her experiences to serve Him in the Treasures ministry, which vision is to help women working in the sex industry break free from the chains of bondage and to heal their wounds through personal relationship with Jesus Christ, God can also heal us of the painful memories of our unhappy past. Once we have determined in our hearts to live our lives for the Lord from now on and to crown Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will no longer need to fear or be plagued by our unhappy past (Hebrews 8:12; 10:17), for as far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12). God will certainly grant us victory and turn our sorrow into joy.

Dear Lord, forgive us for the things we have done in our past that not only hurt us, but also hurt others. Release us Lord from the chains of our bondage and set us free. Heal our hearts, our minds and our wounds Lord as we put You first in our lives from now on. Lead us in Your path to know Your plans for our lives and direct us to the place and ministry where we can help others build a personal relationship with You.

1 SMNnews Forum (2006). Crissy M. quits porn. Accessed June 26, 2009.
2 Guardian Angel (2009). About Crissy M. Accessed June 26, 2009.