John Angell James – Youth Warned Against Sin

Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” Ecclesiastes 11:9

Without pretending to say that the youth of this generation are more corrupt than those of former times were, I will assert that their moral interests are now exposed from various causes to imminent peril. The improvement and diffusion of modern education have produced a bold and independent mode of thinking, which, though it be in itself a benefit, requires a proportionate degree of Christian restraint to prevent it from degenerating into lawless licentiousness. It is also probable that of late years, parents have relaxed the salutary rigor of domestic discipline in compliment to the improved understanding of their children. Trade and commerce are now so widely extended that our youth are more from beneath their parents’ inspection than formerly and consequently more exposed to the contaminating influence of evil company. The habits of society in general are becoming more expensive and luxurious. In addition to all this, the secret but zealous efforts of infidelity to circulate works, which by attempting to undermine revealed religion aim to subvert the whole fabric of morals, have most alarmingly increased irreligion and immorality. But whatever be the causes, the fact to me is indubitable that multitudes of the young people of the present day are exceedingly corrupt and profane. Such a state of things rouses and interests all my feelings as a father, a minister, and a patriot. I am anxious for my own children, as well as for the youth of my flock, my town, and my country.

To continue reading John Angell James’ article, click here.

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J. C. Ryle – General Counsels for Young People

FOR ONE THING, TRY TO GET A CLEAR VIEW OF THE EVIL OF TRY TO GET A CLEAR VIEW OF THE EVIL OF VIEW OF THE EVIL OF SIN. Young people, if you did but know what sin is and what sin has done, you would not think it strange that I exhort you as I do. You do not see it in its true colors. Your eyes are naturally blind to its guilt and danger, and hence you cannot understand what makes me so anxious about you. Oh, let not the devil succeed in persuading you that sin is a small matter! Think for a moment what the Bible says about sin — how it dwells naturally in the heart of every man and woman alive (Ecc 7:20; Rom 3:23) — how it defiles our thoughts, words, and actions, and that continually (Gen 6:5; Matt 15:19) — how it renders us all guilty and abominable in the sight of a holy God (Isa 64:6; Hab 1:13) — how it leaves us utterly without hope of salvation if we look to ourselves (Psa 143:2; Rom 3:20) — how its fruit in this world is shame and its wages in the world to come, death (Rom 6:21-23). Think calmly of all this…

Think what an awful change sin has worked on all our natures. Man is no longer what he was when God formed him out of the dust of the ground. He came out of God’s hand upright and sinless (Eccl 7:29). In the day of his creation he was, like everything else, “very good” (Gen 1:31). And what is man now? A fallen creature, a ruin, a being that shows the marks of corruption all over: his heart like Nebuchadnezzar, degraded and earthly, looking down and not up; his affections like a household in disorder, calling no man master, all extravagance and confusion; his understanding like a lamp flickering in the socket, impotent to guide him, not knowing good from evil; his will like a rudderless ship, tossed to and fro by every desire and constant only in choosing any way rather than God’s. Alas, what a wreck is man compared to what he might have been! Well may we understand such figures being used as blindness, deafness, disease, sleep, death, when the Spirit has to give us a picture of man as he is. And man as he is, remember, was so made by sin.

To continue reading J. C. Ryle’s article, click here.

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Archibald Alexander – Thoughts for Young People

It is a matter of serious regret that young people are commonly so little disposed to listen to the advice of the aged…But it is greatly to be desired that the lessons of wisdom taught by the experience of one set of men should be made available for the instruction of those who come after them. We have therefore determined to address a few short hints of advice to the rising generation on subjects of deep and acknowledged importance to all. But previously to commencing, we would assure them that it is no part of our object to interfere with their innocent enjoyments or to deprive them of one pleasure that cannot be shown to be injurious to their best interests. We wish to approach you, dear youth, in the character of affectionate friends, rather than in that of dogmatical teachers or stern reprovers. We would therefore solicit your patient, candid, and impartial attention to the following counsels:

AIM AT CONSISTENCY IN YOUR CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. There is a beauty in moral consistency that resembles the symmetry of a well-proportioned building, where nothing is deficient, nothing redundant. Consistency can only be acquired and maintained by cultivating every part of the Christian character…We are not very frequently permitted to witness a character well-proportioned and nicely balanced in all its parts: while in one branch, there is vigor and even exuberance, in another there may be the appearance of feebleness and sterility. The man who is distinguished for virtues of a particular class is apt to be deficient in those that belong to a different class…Men are frequently found whose zeal blazes out ardently and conspicuously, so as to leave most others far back in the shade, while they are totally destitute of that humility, meekness, and brotherly kindness that form an essential part of the Christian character. Some people are conscientious and punctilious in the performance of all the rites and external duties connected with the worship of God. [Yet they] are inattentive to the obligations of strict justice and veracity in their [dealings] with others. On the other hand, many boast of their morality and yet are notoriously inattentive to the duties of the Christian faith.

To continue reading Archibald Alexander’s article, click here.

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Tim Challies – Sexual Consent in a Confused, Confusing World

Over the past few years, there has been a crescendo of talk about sexual consent aimed especially at our teens and young adults. Freshman orientation at the local college is now less likely to orient students in the ins and the outs of campus and curriculum and more likely to teach the ins and outs of sex and consent. Students are taught that consent must be given before the commencement of any sexual encounter and again explicitly through each and every progression of that encounter. Any withholding, denial, or inability to give consent are clear indications that all sexual acts must cease immediately.

It is good and wise, of course, to teach the importance of sexual consent and the terrible harm that comes by ignoring or violating it. Please hear me: non-consensual sexual activity of any kind is immoral, abhorrent, and inexcusable. It falls to parents to teach our children its importance. But, as we will see, the problem with so much of today’s talk of consent is that it studiously avoids grounding it in the only appropriate context for sexual activity. If we, as Christian parents, ground our children in that context, we will have come a long way toward instructing them in the matter of consent in a confused and confusing world.

To continue reading Tim Challies’ article, click here.

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Josh Hussung – I Just Caught My Kid Looking at Pornography

kid-looking-at-pornography

It’s a day that you prayed wouldn’t come. You discover that the search history on your computer or phone shows that it has. Your child has been searching for internet pornography. Sadly, this is somewhat of a right of passage for many parents today, and Christians are not immune.

A highly sexualized culture, combined with the expanse of technology, leaves our families vulnerable in a way that is unprecedented. While we can (and should) take every step in our power to prevent our children from gaining access to porn, we ought to prepare ourselves for the possibility of them seeking it out.

Get the conversation started

The best way you can help this conversation go smoothly is to already be in conversation with your child about pornography. They need to understand what the Bible says about sexuality and the dangers of pornography. They need to know how pornography is oppressive to women (and men), that it contributes to world-wide sex slavery, and that it communicates untruths about sex that can potentially destroy us.

Our children need to understand that sex is not something to be ashamed of, but that God made it for a particular context—marriage between a man and a woman. Pornography rips it from that context and turns it into something base and evil.

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Jordan Standridge – 5 Truths We’re Keeping from Our Youth Groups

Jordan Standridge

When I do campus evangelism, I often start the conversation this way: “What are two reasons you stopped going to church?” I’ve asked hundreds of students that question, and the most common responses make me think that church youth groups have failed dramatically.

I understand that every human being is responsible for their own sin, and that even the best of youth groups will have students that fall between the cracks. But the fact of the matter is that too many pastors have believed the lie that teenagers cannot handle certain truths. They have accepted the culture’s belief that today’s teenagers’ attention span has shortened, and that their ability to comprehend deep truths has dissipated.

Whether you’re a parent or a youth pastor, you have to understand that adapting to the culture is something that pagans do. The Church is called to be counter-culture, and we must, despite what the world tells us and sadly what many fellow Christians tell us, stay faithful to Scripture and teach the whole counsel of God. So here are five truths that most teenagers (Christian or not) are not being taught, that we must teach, in order to have a Biblical youth group.

Teach them about their depravity

Most parents want the best for their children. They make it their mission to make sure their children live the best life possible. Their greatest desire is to have their children be healthy, successful and happy.

For some reason, what goes hand-in-hand with this, is difficulty assigning blame to their children for almost anything. Seeing dozens of feuds between students over the years has proven this to be the case. Parents generally if not always take their children’s side. Very rarely will they admit any fault. If their children do get in trouble, they end up blaming other influences. If there is no one else to blame, than they blame it on the brain or on some kind of neurological/chemical imbalance issue. Most kids have been trained to blame-shift.

The Bible doesn’t allow for this. Adam and Eve in the garden attempted to blame shift and God not only didn’t allow it but also punished them severely for their sin (Genesis 3:9-19). James in James 4:1-4 also blames our own hearts for our fights writhing the church.

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Archibald Alexander – Thoughts for Young People

Archibald Alexander

It is a matter of serious regret that young people are commonly so little disposed to listen to the advice of the aged…But it is greatly to be desired that the lessons of wisdom taught by the experience of one set of men should be made available for the instruction of those who come after them. We have therefore determined to address a few short hints of advice to the rising generation on subjects of deep and acknowledged importance to all. But previously to commencing, we would assure them that it is no part of our object to interfere with their innocent enjoyments or to deprive them of one pleasure that cannot be shown to be injurious to their best interests. We wish to approach you, dear youth, in the character of affectionate friends, rather than in that of dogmatical teachers or stern reprovers. We would therefore solicit your patient, candid, and impartial attention to the following counsels:

Aim at consistency in your christian character. There is a beauty in moral consistency that resembles the symmetry of a well-proportioned building, where nothing is deficient, nothing redundant. Consistency can only be acquired and maintained by cultivating every part of the Christian character…We are not very frequently permitted to witness a character well-proportioned and nicely balanced in all its parts: while in one branch, there is vigor and even exuberance,[5] in another there may be the appearance of feebleness and sterility. The man who is distinguished for virtues of a particular class is apt to be deficient in those that belong to a different class…Men are frequently found whose zeal blazes out ardently and conspicuously, so as to leave most others far back in the shade, while they are totally destitute of that humility, meekness, and brotherly kindness that form an essential part of the Christian character. Some people are conscientious and punctilious in the performance of all the rites and external duties connected with the worship of God. [Yet they] are inattentive to the obligations of strict justice and veracity in their [dealings] with others. On the other hand, many boast of their morality and yet are notoriously inattentive to the duties of the Christian faith.

Real Christians, too, are often chargeable with inconsistency. [This] arises from a lack of clear discernment of the rule of moral conduct in its application to particular cases. While the general principles of duty are plain and easily understood by all, the ability to discriminate between right and wrong in many complicated cases is extremely rare. This delicate and correct perception of moral relations can only be acquired by the divine blessing…It is too commonly taken for granted that Christian morals are a subject so easy that all close study of it is unnecessary. This is an injurious mistake! Many of the deficiencies and inconsistencies of Christians are owing to a lack of clear and correct knowledge of the exact rule of moral conduct. On no subject will you find a greater diversity of opinion than concerning the lawfulness or unlawfulness of particular practices. Even good men are often thrown into difficulty and doubt respecting the proper course to be pursued.

But while many cases of inconsistency arise from ignorance of the exact standard of rectitude,[10] more must be attributed to heedlessness and forgetfulness. Men do not act sufficiently from principle, but too much from custom, from fashion, and from habit. Thus, many actions are performed without any inquiry into their moral character.

Another cause of the inconsistency so commonly observed is the prevalence[11] that certain passions or appetites may obtain in the time of temptation. The force of the internal principles of evil is not perceived when the objects and circumstances favorable to their exercise are absent. As the venomous adder seems to be harmless while chilled with cold, but soon manifests his malignity when brought near the fire, so sin often lies hid in the bosom as though it were dead until some exciting cause draws it forth into exercise. Then the person is surprised to find the strength of his own passions above anything that he had before conceived. Thus, in certain circumstances, people often act in a way altogether contrary to the general tenor of their conduct. It is by no means a fair inference from a single act of irregularity that the person who is guilty of it has acted hypocritically in all the apparent good actions of his former life. The true explanation is that principles of action that he has commonly been able to govern and restrain acquire — in some unguarded moment or under the power of some strong temptation — a force that his good principles are not at that moment strong enough to oppose. The person who is usually correct and orderly may thus be overtaken in a fault. As all are liable to the same frailties, there should exist a disposition to receive and restore offending Christians when they give sufficient evidence of penitence.

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Jim Daly – Ten Reasons Kids Leave the Church

As much fun as Trent, Troy, and I have together, whether it’s camping or just throwing the ball around, not a day goes by that I don’t give serious thought to how my wife, Jean, and I are leading them spiritually. In the grand scheme of things, we only a have a short window to help them build a solid biblical foundation before they launch out on their own.

If you’re a parent, I’m guessing you’re well aware of how challenging that can be. Even the statistics bear out the struggle we face. The exact percentages are up for debate, but we know that a significant number of kids walk out the church doors after high school graduation and never return.

Why?

Well, the specific reasons depend on which study you read, but most of them point out how adults fail to connect teenagers to God’s redemptive work in meaningful ways. A recent example of this comes from a website designed for workers in church leadership. The article’s author , Marc5Solas, lives in a college town. He interviewed a large number of twenty-somethings to get their take on why Christianity is no longer important to them and boiled down what he learned into ten reasons you might find interesting.

Take a look and see what you think.

10. The church is “relevant.”

Normally, “relevant” is a positive term. In this case, it labels the problem. We’ve couched our faith in modern trappings to the point that 2,000 years of history and rich tradition have been diminished. As the article suggests: “What we’re packaging is a cheap knockoff of the world we’re called to evangelize to. In our effort to be ‘like them,’ we’ve become less of who we actually are.”

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Jared Wilson – How Do We Cherish Virginity Without Moralistic Fearmongering?

One area of cultural concern I’ve been anxious about gospel-driven sanctification taking root is the teen abstinence movement. One year I attended the local crisis pregnancy center’s annual fundraising banquet and listened to a speaker decry teen pregnancy and the abortions the pregnancies often lead to, and while of course I shared the concern — I wouldn’t have been there if I didn’t—I was chagrined to hear only the minor notes of the gospel, and even those were covered by the din of fearmongering, enemy-identifying, and law-building. Must we teach our teens to be responsible, to cherish their purity, and to save the gift of sexual intimacy for marriage? Yes, without question. But so many of our efforts amount to condemning present affections without that expulsive power of a new one. We give them the “no” to sex with a “yes” to virginity or freedom from disease and pregnancy, but no “yes” is as propulsive for saying “no” to sin as the “yes” that is in Jesus.

In 2010, Christianity Today ran an opinion column in which different spokespersons gave their perspectives on the solution to the teen pregnancy and abortion crisis. I was very happy to see the truth of gospel-driven sanctification promoted by Richard Ross, cofounder of the popular True Love Waits organization. In his piece, Ross writes about gospel wakefulness as a spur to successful premarital purity:

“The promise is kept most tenaciously by teenagers who have moved beyond moralistic therapeutic deism and who adore the King of Kings with awe and intimacy. They know their Lord and Savior said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Their walk in purity is a way to express deep love for him and to respond to his supremacy.

For teenagers who know Christ, that is a far stronger motivator than a desire to avoid disease and pregnancy. Risk avoidance is a weak motivator during adolescence, since the development of the brain’s prefrontal cortex (which governs self-control) lags well behind the development of the amygdala (which drives emotions and impulses). Teenagers need to know about the risks of promiscuity, as well as about the benefits that total life purity brings. But the most powerful way to impact prom-night decisions is for parents, leaders, and peers to more fully awaken teenagers to God’s Son.”

Ross is using the wakefulness language in a way not often thought about: as the way to strengthen the sexual purity of the unmarried. “Risk avoidance is a weak motivator,” he says. He reminds us that awe of Christ is “far stronger.”

– from Gospel Wakefulness (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011), 137-138.

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