Ian Stamps – The Final Countdown: God and Satan
Dave Jenkins – Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial (John 13:31-35)
Richard Phillips – Biblical Parenting 6: Parenting Teenagers
Sexual perversion is firmly entrenched in our cultural mainstream, so it takes a lot these days to astonish me. But I am astonished today. In the span of twenty-four hours, I have come across not one but two separate unrelated articles about teenage girls who agree to be brutalized during sexual encounters with teenage boys. Both articles indicate that this is a growing trend among adolescent children who becoming sexualized at younger and younger ages.
Last week, Teen Vogue published an article instructing teenage girls how to enjoy being sodomized by their boyfriends. The article is so vile that I am not even going to link to it. But among other things, it tells these minor children that such activity is normal. It gives detailed instructions on how they can learn to enjoy it.
To continue reading Denny Burk’s article, click here.
The fear in the room was palpable. I’d just spoken to a packed room of mothers and daughters on the topic of social media. Many of the girls present were on the cusp of their teen years, and the majority of mothers were just beginning their foray into parenting teens.
After the girls went to a separate room for a follow-up discussion with youth leaders, moms’ hands darted up in the air. The urgency in each mother’s question expressed her anxiety over social media and other teen challenges. It was encouraging to see so many moms who wanted to be better equipped to navigate the teen years. Too often I see the opposite—parents resigned to the false “teens will be teens” notion that they give up trying.
But I’m not sure these moms were anxious for the right reasons.
Trusting in Rules
The moms who were so desperate to control and protect their children wanted me to give them a script to follow, a list of social media and phone do’s and don’ts with a guarantee that all would go well if they just follow the rules. I understand the desire for a script with a guarantee; every parent wants her teen to be safe, happy, and far from the path of destruction. But if we focus primarily on external solutions for raising our teens, we set our hope on something that can’t deliver.
I don’t remember the first time I hated my body, but I remember how much it hurt. I looked in the mirror and realized that my body was not perfect, not flawless, and not like it “should” be. I can remember feeling sick with shame.
Becoming a teenager brings terrific joys, but it also brings many new difficulties. One of the most pervasive and crippling is body shame. We live a precious, precarious time in our childhood when we lack shame for our bodies. We view them as our machines, tools for communication and self-expression, the catalyst for our play, perfectly acceptable to us in their functionality. We are self-aware, but not self-conscious.
Then we get older and something happens (or maybe much happens), and cultural messages start to seep into our minds and pollute our perceptions. And one day we realize that beauty is more important than function, and our body is not beautiful. We’re left asking ourselves, How did I never realize how ugly I am, how fat I am, how awkward I am, how (fill in your word of shame) I am?
Jonathan Edwards had an intense fear of wasting time. Like, scary intense. Reading his resolutions always sobers me. I mean, what 19-year-old writes, “Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump”?
But Edwards grasped something we too often don’t. He grasped that life is short and only meaningful if lived for God’s glory. He understood that wasting time is a symptom of taking our eyes off the gospel.
The problem is that we do take our eyes off the gospel, and that means we do waste time—especially us teenagers. Every day, in fact, we waste time. There are even certain time traps teens (even and especially Christian teens) fall into again and again. Let me show you five.
1. We waste time when we don’t do the things we should do.
As Christians, we’re called to a life of hard work and good deeds, but we’re tempted to neglect responsibility. Every day there are a thousand things we should do. From the mundane to the momentous, we have chores, homework, and jobs, as well as opportunities to read, play with our siblings, treasure a sunset, wash the dishes, pray, write, exercise, pick up milk at the store, and pursue the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23).
It is the apex of foolishness for parents to allow their children to have free and unaccountable access to technology– smart phones, tablets, iPods, computers, etc. Before I explain the reasons why I believe this, I want to make clear, in no uncertain terms, that I’m not a Luddite. I’m not against the advancement and use of modern technological devices. Indeed, I have no desire to go back to the sixteenth-century! Quite the contrary, I’m profoundly grateful for the seemingly endless and valuable functions of iPhones, iPads, and computers. It’s wonderful to be able to stay in touch with family and friends around the world through FaceTime and Skype, as well as through social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram. Even so, there is a dark and insidious side to our brave new world of information and connectivity; and, we would be exceedingly foolish to ignore it. Here are a few reasons why our children should not have free and unrestricted access to technological devices:
Internet Pornography. Internet porn is a pandemic of massive proportions. The statistics related to this wicked industry are staggering (see http://www.covenanteyes.com). The porn industry generates thirteen billion dollars of revenue each year in the United States alone. One in eight online searches is for pornography, and the same goes for one in five searches on mobile devices. Twenty-four percent of smart phone users admit to having pornographic material on their device. Fifty-six percent of divorce cases involve one spouse with a porn addiction.
A Life Transformed
The gospel changes everything. To live a life transformed by the gospel means that everything in life changes.
The first thing is our identity; who we are as people. We’re no longer teenagers defined by the world’s standards. We’re no longer defined by sin, by what we once wanted to do, but we are defined by the gospel, by God—our identity as children of God in Christ. That means the entire narrative of our lives is changed, so we are part now of the greatest, biggest story ever told. We’re actually a part of the story of the gospel, and of God’s people. We get to live in this story, which means everything in our lives and our circumstances changes.
It also changes our community, who we spend time with. It changes our love for God’s people, and makes us want to be a part of a local community of God’s people. It changes how we act, what we find funny, what we post on social media, what we read. Prior to the gospel, we thought a certain way, we acted a certain way, we had this ideology that directed us, and the gospel just flips it on its head and revolutionizes everything.
It means that our entire lives are now about the gospel and about Jesus — not about us, not about what we want to do, but about Jesus and what would honor and glorify him. How can I act today and tomorrow, and how can I plan my future, with the gospel in mind? How can I go to school, how can I read, how can I watch TV in a way that brings honor to Jesus, instead of me?
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices. (Col. 3:9)
YHWH detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. (Prov. 12:22)
In the interest of transparency, I want to begin by stating as a child, I had a tendency to lie. Usually it was a string of lies sometimes carefully and at other times haphazardly thrown together in an effort to avoid trouble. Typically, the repercussions of those lies being found out was far worse than if I had simply told the truth at the outset. One thing was certain – the truth, regardless of how well my plan of deceit had been through out, was found out.
The temptation to lie, especially to share the incorrectly described “little white lie” is one I submit we all face. While we may have matured from our childhood days of lying about who broke the lamp in the living room, the urge to stretch truth resulting in falsehood remains a challenge for us all.
As a parent, the battle against lying lips has from time to time taken place in our home. We have a teenage daughter. With that time of life comes the temptation to lie, to go behind the back of those in authority, the desire to do what one wants, and the impulse to lie in order to cover up the tracks of the deception.
A recent occurrence of this deception resulted in a prime teaching moment for our daughter. I will not go into the details of what took place; however, let’s just say it involved the use of technology, the agreement that certain elements of technology would not be installed, the installation of said technology despite the established rules, and finally, the discovery of the deception and unraveling of the web of lies.
I remember what it was like as a child. The rules set down by parents seem like such a killjoy. What is the big deal with doing what they told me not to do, especially if it is just for a quick second? Nobody will be harmed by my actions in this one instance, right? Unfortunately, this line of thinking does not recognize the fact established in Scripture, namely that YHWH detests lying lips (Prov. 12:22) and lying is a work of the flesh, something we should be casting off and mortifying (Col. 3:9).
At its core, lying and deception is the oldest trick in the enemy’s playbook. Deception was part and parcel of what took place in the Garden of Eden. Did YHWH really say? Can’t I just divert off the path of righteousness just a couple of steps? It won’t harm anyone will it?
One could suggest the wrongdoing by our daughter in the grand scheme of harmful activities arguably does not rise to the level of being that monstrous. I would respond to such a suggestion that since YHWH detest lying lips, falsehood exists near or right at the top of that which we should also detest. While all sin should be abhorred, lying lips are repeatedly noted as an abomination to YHWH. Lying is like a giant snowball. It begins with a seemingly innocuous fib but ultimately keeps rolling into a giant landslide of destruction. In the case of our daughter, her actions of falsehood were akin to tossing a log onto an already burning fire.
We shared with our daughter how great a fire a lie can set ablaze. The second and third order consequences of lying are what is often forgotten when deception is embarked upon. Lying breaks the sacred bond of trust, something that takes a great deal of time to rebuild once destroyed. What we often think is no big deal and harmless is in reality rebellion against authority, in this case parental authority, and ultimately, it is rebellion against YHWH.
For parents out there who are also dealing with this issue in their home, be sure you set the example to your children by embracing a policy of honesty. Even those supposed “little white lies” should not be tolerated. Instruct your children in the importance of truth and the harm that occurs by deception. As the people of YHWH, we are to always tell the truth. YHWH detest lying lips and we should as well. Helping our children understand the importance of truth at the earliest age possible and addressing the urge and practice of lying with the power of Scripture is vital.
I was a teenager once, just like you…
I’ve been in those situations where you want to disobey your parents for some shallow and immature reasons; however, if I had the chance to bring back the time, I would have followed them all the days of my life, wholeheartedly.
Unlike other teenagers, I was already away from my parents at the age of 12. When I passed the entrance exam in one of the most prestigious schools in our region, my parents decided to send me to that school, even though it meant being away from them at a very young age.
It was hard. It’s hard when you’re forced to be independent. I learned how to do things on my own. I didn’t have my parents around helping me out in the morning while preparing for school. I didn’t have them when I found that my classes were a bit hard and I wanted someone to guide me on how to get through them.
Although I grew up having to be responsible, I still long for that day when I will not be away from them.
It makes me upset every time I see people disobeying their parents in public. I don’t like it when it’s easy for some to shout at their parents or act like they are not there. You may sometimes feel like they do not understand you, and that your friends love you more, but believe me–no one among your friends will ever love you more than how much your parents love you.