"When will I be loved?" our hearts cry out when we are young.
We seek our one true love, believing that romantic love will fill us with happiness forever. Then we marry someone who isn't perfect and we are still seeking to be loved and appreciated.
If only our parents had loved us more. If only we had better friends. If only we had a boyfriend or girlfriend. If only our children appreciated us.
Why are we always seeking more?
We had a need inside us to be lavishly loved. Our hearts cry out for it.
We long for words, actions, attitudes from others that communicate love, kindness, warmth, and understanding. We long for others to place high value on us.
There is a problem, though. People are flawed. No one loves perfectly. No one can be our all in all.
Teenage rebellion is a myth. Some teens rebel. Some teens don't. Teens that do rebel don't rebel because they are teenagers.
In primitive societies, boys hang out with dad learning to be a man and girls hang out with mom learning to be a woman. They go from child to adult without any drama or angst.
In our nation, until the 1920's, children reached puberty later (usually around 16-18) and got married soon afterward. Again the transition was pretty smooth between childhood and adulthood.
The 1920's was a paradoxical time for America. One of the most frugal Presidents ever sat in the White House vetoing spending bills and bringing down the national debt, while Americans themselves were offered and accepted with glee the brand new "Buy Now, Pay Later" philosophy. The bubble burst, of course, at the end of the decade. However, in the meantime, money was flowing and families were moving to the cities and suburbs from the farms.
Teens had more time on their hands, less hard work to do, and more money to spend. Suddenly, a new thing happened. Young people were living to have fun and play, instead of working hard to help their families and preparing to have their own families.
I grew up in the church, but also in the world until I was saved at the age of 16. I have regrets.
I wanted to raise my children to live wholeheartedly for Jesus so that they could enjoy purity and the freedom of purity.
That is not an easy task.
Well, my children, though they live in a Christian home and attend a church full of believers living wholeheartedly for Jesus, are bombarded by the world through ads, movies, commercials, internet, work, college, homeschool co-ops, relatives, and friends.
A year ago, my Instagram was hacked and some dirty photos were plastered all over it. Suddenly the pastor's wives page was not a safe place to be. Yikes! It took my daughter and I hours to get the site shut down. I was horrified and apologized privately and publicly to everyone I knew. I have no idea who did it. However, the reason I mention this is because after that incident, I was bombarded with pop-ups on Facebook, Amazon, and anywhere else I went on the web. I was horrified and report the "invites" to pornography. This showed me that if anyone has any contact with anything pornography-related online, whether they choose to or not, they will be bombarded with "invites" to see more.
The world is seductive and calls to our children's hearts. The world calls to my heart. How can we all stay pure in a seductive world? How can we steer our children away from moral disaster?
Where is the Battle Zone?
The internet has completely changed the way we live and relate to one another.
The internet has changed homeschooling for our family. My older kids did not go online much until college, while the younger ones spent their teen years in a world of social networking and Wikipedia.
Young people today email, chat with friends through instant messenger, talk to people in chat rooms, play games, create blogs, create YouTube stations, create websites, and surf the net. They research online and build relationships online.
There is so much at our fingertips today with just a click of the mouse. We can read classic literature, look up how a senator voted, get the latest news, and read our favorite blog.
Yet, is the internet a safe place?
I am sorry to tell you that the internet can be a dangerous place, too. We must protect our children from the criminal and evil activity that takes place online.
We need to protect our children from the following things:
How Can We Protect Our Children?
“Go, ahead and make me!”
You homeschool so you can give your children a quality education and avoid the bad influences. But, instead of gentle, loving children, you find yourself living with bickering siblings. Are they really yours?
You go church. You read the Bible every morning. But instead of peace and order, you feel like a referee.
You are not alone. This has been a struggle for Moms since Eve tried to help Cain and Abel get along. Hey, don’t worry, we have the Holy Spirit now.
Take a deep breath and let’s start with the big question: Why do children fight so much with their siblings?
As I was asking myself this question, a passage from James immediately came to my mind.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:1-3 NIV).
What's so special about the Bible?
I'm glad you asked.
The Bible is a very unique book, containing 66 smaller books, written by over 40 different authors.
Though many different writers contributed, the Bible contains on common theme of God’s redemption of mankind: man sinned and rebelled against God; God sent His Son to ultimately die on a cross for the sins of mankind; and man must place genuine faith in Jesus, His Son, to obtain forgiveness and a right relationship with God, the Father.
Part of the uniqueness of the Bible is its claim to be inspired by God. It contains hundreds of prophecies, many of which have been miraculously fulfilled and some have yet to be fulfilled. No other religious book can make this claim, because they do not contain prophecies.
God plants new believers in local churches to grow and to build one another up. God didn't call us to be "Lone Ranger Christians" off doing our own thing. His People are called to love one another in a committed way as they win the lost and make disciples.
Jesus gives us gifts to build us up
None of us have all the spiritual gifts and God planned it that way so that we would need one another. As we serve and encourage one another with God’s Word, everyone will grow.
God made the church like a family. When we love one another, the world will know that we are His disciples. Our love is so important for the Gospel to have credibility.
Is There a Perfect Church?
In a world of flirting and sexting, does God have a right way for men and women to interact?
For the answer to that question, let's look at our Bibles. We'll take a trip through I Thessalonians 4 verses 1-12.
Paul starts out by commending the Thessalonians for walking in a way that pleases God and exhorts them to do so more and more. He reminds them that the commandment to abstain from sexual immorality is straight from Jesus, who has authority over our lives. God's will is our sanctification. (verses 1-3)
We are reminded day by day by the Holy Spirit to flee from sexual immorality and walk in purity. Sometimes its through the Word of God or conviction when we are thinking about things we shouldn't be thinking about. It is so important for us to always remember that God's will is for us to be pure, to be set apart, to be growing in holiness day by day. The world has its lies and temptations, but Jesus gives us abundant life that is far better than any trick of the devil.
In the next few verses, Paul reminds us to control our bodies honorably, as holy vessels to please God and to treat our brothers with honor, not defraud them. The gentiles who do not know God give in to feelings of passionate lust and the sinful behavior that follows it. This behavior actually takes advantage of them. We, are called to holiness instead. If we reject this instruction, we reject God, not men. (verses 4-8)
If we behave lustfully, flirtatiously, or seductively, we wrong our brother or sister, we defraud our brother or sister. It is not a compliment to treat the opposite sex in a way that is based on sexual attraction. In fact it wrongs them, causing us to sin against them. It also defrauds them--it communicates a level of commitment without a commitment. We act as if we own them (as in married couples who belong to one another) when, in fact, there is not commitment.
Instead of bringing harm to them, we want to bring genuine life to them, to lift them up, not tear them down. So how do we do that?
We are inundated in our culture with romance--finding true love is the ultimate purpose in life, at least according to Hollywood.
The Bible says something different. God says that the highest love is the love between the Lord and his adopted sons and daughters. We are part of a Forever Family when we become Christians.
While most Christians hope they will find their true love and get married, their higher love is Jesus. He is our First Love.
If we are married, we should do everything to keep our romantic love alive. In the same way, we should focus on our love relationship with Jesus, stirring up passion and devotion in our own hearts. There are many ways to do this, but I am going to concentrate on the role that our Christian brothers and sisters play in increasing our love for God.
The main reason that we have brothers and sisters in Christi is to spur one another on to love and good deeds, to encourage one another in the Lord, and to help each other grow in the faith. So how do we do that?
Okay, I'll admit it. I married the most wonderful man in the world. I am so grateful that he is the father of my children. He is a man of wisdom and integrity, filled with love for the Lord and his family.
So, why did God give me four daughters to mentor and him only one son. I can't answer that, but I do notice that we already have two grandsons.
Our son came at the tail end of four daughters. Mike and I were so grateful for the privilege of raising a godly man in a challenging time.
Mike did all the Dad things: they played ball, he helped coach sports teams, he read Bible stories to him at night, the shared interests. And, of course, he was part of all the family Bible training. But things intensified as Jimmy got older.
When Jimmy got to seventh grade, it was time for one-on-one mentoring. They started meeting once a week for a time of Bible study and prayer.
Mike also worked hard to create an atmosphere where Jimmy could talk to him about anything. He shared his struggles, doubts, and fears. Mike did not respond harshly, but as someone who had been there many years before. They walked through real answers to doubts about the faith. They figured out practical ways to fight temptation. Mike taught Jimmy to read the Bible devotionally to draw closer to Jesus, as well as how to study the Word.
It isn't easy to be a young man bombarded with temptations like pornography, greed, pride, fear of man, and insecurity. Jimmy did not turn into a seasoned saint in a few months or even a year. Mike met weekly with Jimmy from seventh grade until his senior year. They still meet together while Jim is in college. Right now, Jimmy is passionate for Jesus Christ and he lives a life of integrity and love. His sisters and friends respect him and value his friendship.
You see investing in your son is a huge commitment of time, love, and prayer. There are no easy answers or quick fixes. A young man needs a father willing to invest in him, training him to become the real man God called him to be.
We are called to change the world!
Jesus gave us the Great Commission to make disciples of all the nations. We are on a mission!
That mission begins at home!
We have a call to impact our children by introducing our little ones to Christ and teaching them His ways.
Once they know Christ, we teach them to change their world for the glory of Christ.
How do we that? How do we raise world changers?
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Stay focused on your goal of raising world changers.
Don’t be focused on lesser things or get into survival mode.
We want our children to get a good education, to be healthy, to have friends, to marry, to be happy. However, even more, we want our children to love Jesus and change the world for His glory.
When you feel like you focus is too small, ask God to keep your focus on the right thing.
Pray This Bold Prayer
Before Jesus ascended to the Father, He called us to change the world!
Yes, it's true! We are called to be world changers. Jesus commanded us to "Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV (c)1979). Then Jesus added, "And I will be with you, even to the end of the Age" (Matthew 28:20 NIV (c)1979).
We have a call to impact the world by introducing people to Christ and teaching them His ways.
How do we that? How do we change the world?