Through God’s Eyes… Christian Teens and their Worldview

Have you ever tried putting together a jigsaw puzzle without referencing the box? It’s hard. And the bigger the puzzle, the harder it is to do without a guide. The largest puzzle I have ever put together was a 1,000 piece puzzle. I cannot imagine how difficult it would be if I never looked at the box- as in I never saw it even once. Yet, this is exactly how Christian teens-so many Christian teens-spend their younger years and even on into adulthood trying to figure out whole portions of their life without ever once referencing their guide.

Maybe a jigsaw puzzle is not a strong enough illustration. I mean, after all, you can put a jigsaw puzzle down and forget about it. Let’s think of a worldview in a different way. Think of our solar system. All of our planets operate on the condition of the centripital force caused by gravity. Without gravity drawing us in and helping to create that perfect balance that leads to a planet staying in perfect orbit around the sun then planets would be flung out to the farthest reaches of space. Destruction and death would ensue.

This is a lot like how our worldview works. We have to have that perfect balance. We need to see how our faith relates to every aspect of our lives- how they act and react with each other. Yet so many of our young people float throughout life without thinking deeply about issues or they assume they already know everything they need to know. All the while things are crashing into one another and spinning out of control without them even realizing it.

There is one other way that our worldview works. It’s an image that comes straight for scripture. In Psalm 1, the Psalmist says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the council of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of the wicked, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord and his law does he meditate day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by a river of water that brings forth its fruit in its season. His leaves do not wither and anything he does shall prosper.”

We need to have roots. Roots that are deep. Roots that hold tight our convictions and therefore our opinions. When we aren’t going down deep then our opinions, convictions, and beliefs will change with the changing seasons of our culture.

It’s time we start connecting the dots. It’s time we sneak a peek behind the curtain to see what’s just beyond what we can see in front of us. It’s time we stop assuming we know the truth. It’s time we understand the Bible the way God wants us to understand it: as the big picture that guides our lives, as the great unifying force that can create order and balance, and as the foundation- the root- that keeps us grounded when things around us are chaotic.

It’s time we bring everything under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. So let’s start today.

Can you lose your salvation?

To be saved means to be saved from the penalty (eternal damnation) of one’s personal sin. To further extend the definition, to be saved means to be given a new life in Christ.  Since salvation requires a recognition and a turning from (repentance) from your sin, some Christians wonder if it is possible for some folks, who once claimed to be saved, are still saved. They see a lot of people who pay lip service to Christ, maybe by making a decision during an altar call or just by the fact that they grew up in church, but then see them live hypocritical lifestyles.

The word “hypocrite” means “a person who lives contrary to their stated beliefs and opinions.” Certainly a Christian would not have to look far to see that there are indeed some people who claim to be Christians yet consistently their words and actions  do not match up. And I’m not just talking about the occasional slip-up or even the acknowledged struggle with sin, but an unrepentant attitude toward some aspects of their lifestyle.  

So, there are some that would say, “Yes, you were once saved, but you have forfeited that salvation by your lifestyle choice.” Check out what this pastor said:

If you could not give up your salvation voluntarily, then once you become saved you could then go ahead and do whatever you wish. You could steal, murder, cheat, lie, never pray, reject the scriptures, lead others astray, blaspheme God from morning to night – do anything that is sinful, rebellious, and against the laws of God. To believe that “once saved, always saved” is believing that one has a “license to sin” after the person is born again.

So, to summarize it, they seem to be saying:

A)    A person claims to be saved.

B)     He/she may start out with some evidence of their salvation.

C)    They stop going to church/caring about spiritual things and start making worldly decisions.

D)    The Bible makes it clear that you cannot say you are born of God and still make a practice of sinning.

E)    Therefore they must have lost their salvation.

 But, is that the right assessment? Continue reading

Using Facebook for the Glory of God

Facebook is going to be used. By Millions of people. By hundreds of thousands of Christians. Everyday. But, are they doing it for the Glory of God? I have to admit, that I do not always use social media to the glory of God. Too often I use it as a distraction from doing more important things. I have known people who deleted their Facebook profile because it was causing them to either fall into temptation or at the very least, they got tired of being distracted by yet one more thing.

While it is certainly acceptable for someone to do that, I do have to wonder: Have they TRIED to use Facebook to the glory of God? It is a tool just like books are a tool. Just like television is a tool. Just like a microphone is a tool. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  This includes the internet. So, I think it is high time we Christians take serious strides toward putting our use of Facebook under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Facebook Etiquette for Christians

We live in a different world than we did 17 years ago. I say that because most tech historians would agree that 1994 was the year the internet went mainstream. Alongside the internet being mainstream, social media via internet technology also grew. In the early days it was just email and chat rooms (or instant message programs like AIM and ICQ) that lead the way to people being more connected through the internet. Then came the rise of YouTube, MySpace, Google, Wikipedia, Twitter, and of course, Facebook.  Actually, let me just show you a video that explain far better than I how much social media, and specifically Facebook, have influence over Americans. Just take a few minutes to view this informative and entertaining visual histories.

Social media is common place and certainly is here to stay. Yet, anyone who has spent more than a few minutes on any social networking site will see that far, far too often people in general seemingly lose their minds with their behavior. Normal social cues and etiquette and, more importantly, basic moral principles are jettisoned in a New York Minute. Why does this happen? And how should Christians act on Facebook and other user-controlled internet media? How should we react to other Christians acting in a less-than-Christian way on the internet?  These questions need- demand- answers if parents, pastors, and brothers and sisters in Christ are going to keep up with an every-changing cyber world. Continue reading

Are Hymns Lost Forever? (part 2 of 2)

Previously, I discussed why hymns are in decline and why we should care. Unlike some social issues, where one could argue how much the Bible actually says about that issue, singing hymns has to do directly with God. So it should be only natural that we Christians look to scripture to direct our worship.  There are several examples of people singing hymns in the Bible. Let’s take a look at just a few:

Jesus and the disciples sang a hymn immediately following the last supper (Matthew 26:30).

Paul and Silas sang hymns in prison (Acts 16:24-26).

The church in Corinth is recognized as having sung hymns (I Corinthians 14:25-27).

So we do have examples of the apostles, churches, and even Jesus himself singing hymns. But, just because that was the practice back then doesn’t mean it’s commanded for today, does it?  In two different passages, it is clear that singing hymns is commanded by God. Continue reading

Are Hymns Lost Forever? (part 1 of 2)

It seems that every church I visit, every ministry I experience, and every camp/retreat I have attended over the past 10 years has almost exclusively used praise choruses or praise songs during their worship service. Hymns, both old and new, have all but disappeared in vast swaths across the evangelical landscape. Sure you can find churches that still sing them. Heck, even my church still sings them. But, in my personal experience it seems that there is not only an indifference to hymns, but an ignorance toward their significance that is far too common. Generations past may have had their own battle of types of music in church, but the hymn has always survived. The question is, will it (or should it) survive this generation? Continue reading

The Art of Apologizing

“I’m sorry.”  We hear that so often. Do we even stop to think: “What does it mean?” or “Where did that phrase come from?” Even if you have not spent any length of time dealing with those questions, at the very least you have formed an opinion about what a good apology should look like. All too often do you hear a celebrity or politician on camera apologizing for something they did wrong (or at least got caught doing).  But, rarely do we believe them. Why is that? What makes an apology a sincere one? How should we respond to an insincere one? How can we avoid giving an insincere apology?

To answer that question, we must first look to the Bible. Our only problem is: the world ‘apology’ cannot be found anywhere in the English Bible. Continue reading

Fixing the Problems of Modern-day Youth Ministry (part 3 of 3)

Co-championing Family and Church

In correcting the flaws of mainstream youth ministry, the FI movement has over-steered too far in the opposite direction. Ultimately, they will fail to penetrate families with teenagers because of their counter-cultural tendencies. Therefore, we should not go in that direction. However, we cannot retread the past because the youth ministry paradigm of the early 20th Century has matured to the point where we can see how it overlooked some key areas of a teenagers spiritual development. Where do we go from here? Steve Wright and Mark Devries are advocating a third alternative. This ministry paradigm makes room for peer interaction, evangelism, and family ministry. Wright (2008) observes that for too long we have been forcible separating two God-ordained institutions that should go together naturally. “Home is responsible for training children. Church is responsible for equipping parents in how to train their children.” (p. 71) Devries (2004) said, “Doing youth ministry without parents is like driving a car with no engine. We can no longer continue to view parents as neutral factors in our ministry their teenagers.” (Page 68) Continue reading