I love the World War II generation and the enormous impact they have had on our nation! Perhaps no generation has had a greater challenge since them than the one presently coming to maturity. Last night, at Teens In The Word, we asked the teens to describe the religious philosophy of their peers as they interact with them at school, their jobs, and their extracurricular activities. It was heartening to see and hear our teens’ conviction, knowledge, and heart, but disheartening to discuss the fruit of a couple of generations of our culture’s social experiment to reprogram the thinking of people, especially this burgeoning generation.
Our teens attend schools in Douglas, Jefferson, and Denver Counties, go to large High Schools, charter schools, private schools, and homeschools. Despite these diversities, what they encounter is remarkably similar. It might surprise you that many of their peers believe in a Higher Power and would consider themselves spiritual. More than anywhere else, these peers attend community churches. Whatever the church growth gurus and experts claim, the teens that go to these churches tell our teens something very different. Their religious experience is heavily dependent upon entertainment, doing fun things with a party atmosphere, not motivated or influenced by much biblical teaching, segregated from adults, hard-rocking music, dancing, and overall a very tactile experience. What impact does it have on “faith”? If speaking in terms of growing closer to God and learning more about Him, not that much. The prevailing worldview of many of our teens’ friends is “what’s right for me may not be right for you,” that God and the devil, heaven and hell are mindsets more than realities (really just your conscience inside of you), and that essentially the only or worst sins, the “objective wrongs,” are offending others and judging others. When our teens seek to assert objective truth from scripture, they sometimes encounter scorn or rejection. While our teens know a varying degree of peers whose faith and beliefs are more concrete and committed, perhaps the most frequently observed comment last night was that many of their peers “believe in God but not the Bible or Christ.” They see the Bible as a book of myths or fairytales and not the revealer of truth or a standard of authority.
As we closed our class last night, I was left awestruck. Our teens are among my most cherished heroes. They are on the frontline of faith, battling in a world more opposed to truth than that of any generation now living which preceded them. We were struck with more than admiration, though. We felt determination, the need to redouble our efforts to establish and defend the trustworthiness and integrity of the Bible, the existence of God, and from that the authoritative nature of Scripture. Not only will this bolster the faith of our teens, but it will help them in dialoging with those among their peers possessing good and honest hearts (cf. Lk. 8:15).
Here are four things you can do right now for our teens. (1) Pray for them. (2) Live Christ without hypocrisy before them. (3) Actively encourage them. (4) Help equip them. Look for heroes where you will. I have found mine!
Before being forced out as CEO, Eich had stated in an interview with technology news service Cnet, “I don’t think it’s good for my integrity or Mozilla’s integrity to be pressured into changing a position. If Mozilla became more exclusive and required more litmus tests, I think that would be a mistake that would lead to a much smaller Mozilla, a much more fragmented Mozilla” (Foxnews.com). He also told them, “If Mozilla cannot continue to operate according to its principles of inclusiveness, where you can work on the mission no matter what your background or other beliefs, I think we’ll probably fail” (ibid.). He was referring to his widely known opposition to same sex marriage and more specifically a $1000 donation to the campaign to support Proposition 8 in California back in 2008. This proposition, which over 7 million fellow-Californians voted for and which passed, was a state constitutional amendment to eliminate the rights of same-sex couples to marry. It was overturned by the Supreme Court last year.
It raises the question of what homosexual activists really want. Is it merely acceptance and validation or forced approval? If one can lose his job for stating a conviction against that lifestyle, does this suggest a move against the rights of anyone who wishes to articulate belief in the biblical view that homosexuality is a sin? Could this foreshadow a time when those in churches preaching against the practice of homosexuality could lose their property, freedom, or worse?
On November 9-10, 1938, German stormtroopers and non-Jewish civilians, under pretense of an assassination in Paris of a German diplomat by a Jew, led an organized effort against the Jews in an event that came to be known as Kritallnacht or “The Night Of Broken Glass.” The official United States Holocaust Memorial Museum writes,
The rioters destroyed hundreds of synagogues, many of them burned in full view of firefighters and the German public and looted more than 7,000 Jewish-owned businesses and other commercial establishments. Jewish cemeteries became a particular object of desecration in many regions. Almost 100 Jewish residents in Germany lost their lives in the violence. In the weeks that followed, the German government promulgated dozens of laws and decrees designed to deprive Jews of their property and of their means of livelihood even as the intensification of government persecution sought to force Jews from public life and force their emigration from the country (http://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1933-1938/kristallnacht).
It has been said that in our supposed age of tolerance people have the right to say and do just about anything. Just about any fringe group can hold the most outlandish views and do so publicly. It is unacceptable to discriminate against one for almost any reason. However, the right to stand upon Christian principles, originating in Scripture, is eroding. To discriminate against Christian beliefs is growing in acceptance. That’s not meant as alarmism or as an expression of a martyr complex. But, reading the New Testament, we know that Christians faced persecution simply for believing and sharing God’s Word. May God ever give us the courage and willingness to stand upon the rock solid foundation of Scripture. No matter what.
Most people have very strong convictions, pro or con, about religious matters. Many who claim to be religious form opinions and draw conclusions with very little if any biblical consultation. How ironic is it to claim to follow God while ignoring and even rejecting His very revealed will?
Many religious people, church attenders and not, are guided by their feelings, desires, opinions, preferences, and consciences (cf. 2 Tim. 4:3; Prov. 14:12). Perhaps they have a favorite preacher or other religious figure they implicitly trust. Their religion may be submitted and subjugated to the message of the culture or even the media. It may be based on convenience and comfort. Throughout time, man has attempted to serve God on his own terms and based on what he thinks is right. Whether ignorantly or defiantly, he puts himself on a throne upon which only Jesus belongs (Mat. 28:18).
How long could religious error survive if potentially divided parties could lay aside personal interests and objectively study the sacred text? So often, the religious world is divided because of man-made doctrines and traditions. Instead of looking to the Bible to answer the important questions of time and eternity, men often come up with the answers they want and then go looking for Bible verses to support their predetermined views. Consider that some of the most popular religious ideas—salvation by saying the sinner’s prayer, premillennialism, speaking in tongues, women worship leaders, once-saved, always-saved, and instrumental music—are not practiced or believed based upon their being taught in Scripture but instead their being the beliefs and views of mankind. How thrilling it would be if we could unite every religious person in the desire to come to the text, the glasses of prejudice or sectarian beliefs removed, and let God tell us what to believe and how to live! That is possible, but it begins with each of us humble, sincerely asking, “What does the Bible say?”
Everyone knows about the tragic situation at Penn State and even one involving Syracuse’s basketball coach. Ohio State just received punishment for its misdeeds. The list of university’s punished for transgressions is lengthy, with new investigations seemingly starting every month. Add my beloved University of Georgia to the list, thanks to head coach Mark Richt. He was sanctioned for NCAA rules violations in an issue investigators closed on November 30th. Of course, it had to do with money. Here is what Mr. Richt had the audacity to do: he paid several staffers (he felt were not adequately compensated by the school) out of his own pocket. He paid coaches, the director of player development, director of sports medicine, video coordinators, and other assistants more than $60,000 of his own money.
That’s refreshing! I know that Richt can afford to do that better than you and I can, but it still represents uncommon generosity. He did not have to do this. He was concerned about those he deemed under-compensated, and he gave to them. Neither the university nor Richt were fined or penalized, but he was reprimanded. The casual observer of college and professional athletics, where selfishness too often prevails, might secretly hope for a rash of Richt-like behavior.
You and I have the power to do this. To some degree, we all can do it financially. It may be a $20 sent anonymously in a card to someone in need. It may be generously stocking the church pantry. It may be taking a meal to a family. It may be contributing money to missionaries at year’s end.
Yet, we can be generous in ways that do not involve money and have the same impact. It may be a visit, babysitting, housecleaning, providing transportation, or the like. But, going about doing good (cf. Ac. 20:35; Gal. 6:10) catches people off-guard. In an “I-me-my” world, Christians can have the element of surprise simply by acts of kindness. Let’s!
Wait a minute! This is not “another story on Tim Tebow”… per se. I have used great restraint in not writing about the Denver quarterback, but this is a bit different. Over the weekend, we received a phone call from the New York Daily. Columnist Erik German was working on a story about the impact Tebow has had on churches in the Denver area.
That made me wonder. The very question is a commentary on our times. Tebow, very openly, unashamedly devout, is making waves at water coolers everywhere. This story is bigger than Denver. As big as his winning ways is his attempt to glorify God whenever given the opportunity. It is hard to describe how exciting it is to have such a positive role model being given such prominence. But, again, why the question?
Maybe the Bear Valley congregation is an aberration. Maybe other congregations of the Lord’s people are having streams of people drop in because of Tebowmania or even Tebowing. Maybe the denominations are feeling a similar impact. Maybe we have had people stop by our services because of this phenomenon, but just chose not to tell us. But, so far as I know, we have not been the benificiary of this ballplayer’s bold beliefs.
But, here is the point. We already have a “Mile High Messiah.” All indications are that He has no direct interest in the outcome of football games or other athletic contests. If it takes Tebow (or any other celebrity) to put us “on the map” with the community, then maybe we should ask ourselves where we have been before now. What we have in Christ and what Christ wants to offer the world far transcends what anybody else has to offer.
Maybe Tebow will inspire those of us who know and have obeyed the truth to shine the light brighter than ever. Maybe we will be unashamed to tell them the good news. Maybe this will wake us up to the power of our collective influence. Maybe we will sustain such zeal and boldness, no matter what number 15 does on the playing field. Let us pray to that end!