Monday, February 21, 2011

Making wise choices

I always tell my son, "Do not date anyone you wouldn't want to marry." Hmm. Kind of changes the picture around doesn't it? In teaching a youth class at our church on Wednesday nights you get a glimpse into the lives of young people. Most think there is something wrong with them if they do not have a girlfriend or boyfriend. In fact there are some who give my son so much trouble because he doesn't have a girlfriend. One has even asked him, "Are you gay? If you are it's okay if you tell me." Are you kidding me? Because at eighteen you are not out there with a new girl each month makes you gay? Laughable? I think it makes you take a higher road. My son knows not to settle. He knows to treat young women as though they are God's princess'. But he has been around so many young people who think they have to have a boyfriend or girlfriend to feel important. To feel completed. Friends, the only One who will ever complete you is Jesus Christ.  I love to share with young people, "Date Jesus." Why "Hook up", with another young person just to say you have a boyfriend? Where in the world did that phrase come from?

I don't think it does a young person good to date. Why? I don't think young people need a boy attached to their hip. This is a time where you are finding out just who you are. It is a time of growth and when you have another person so close to you at all times it takes away from who you are. You tend to try harder to make the other person happy. You tend to change yourself to fit their mold. In doing so you lose something precious about yourself. Something that God is wanting you to uncover by spending time with Him.

Young people turn on the radio, the television and go to the movies and what do they see? Sex. They see young people living in the moment and not thinking of the consequences. Many times with parents today there are no consequences to their actions. But that isn't going to always be so. Our actions do have consequences. We might not feel them after one night of pleasure out on the town, but down the road somewhere they will come.  Once choice changes your life forever. One choice leads to another. Satan tricks us into believing we are the exception to the rule. We are tricked into believing it won't happen to me. It's just one time. All it takes is one time to change not only your life forever, but those around you. Every choice we make effects another in some way whether good or bad.

One night of pleasure is not worth a lifetime of heartache. If only young people could understand this. But then again, I think adults have a hard time of grasping this truth. Where are the examples? We have parents going out on the weekends drinking as their children watch them walk through the door stumbling. We grab those lottery tickets in hopes of making it big. We work eighty hours a week away from home. I am sorry, but when parents are away from their children that long something has to give. I don't think there is a way to have it all. That is the world's idea. The more we have the better life is. That just isn't true.

Our teens are suffering such heartache. They are confused in every way. They need guidance and people who are willing to give their time and love to help them succeed in life. Before you can expect others to respect you you must respect yourself. No one will love you more than you love yourself.

We should be teaching our young people not to date someone who is not a Christian. Being unequally yoked is not what God is calling us to do. When one is a Christian and she is dating a boy who is not it is so easy for her to fall into the trap of being changed and moving away from her beliefs. We think we stand firm and nothing will change us, but let a boy come into your life that is not a Christian and the changes begin. Little by little you give up more of yourself. Soon, you are praying less, going to church less and you even stop seeking your dreams. Those very dreams God placed in your heart.

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers." 2 Corinthians 6:14a

You must guard your heart. Be careful in all we do lest we fall. If we do not remain strong in our faith we will become a stumbling block for others. If we are not watching each step we take the company we choose can very well be our stumbling block as well.

"Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." Romans 13:13-14

I love the words from Proverbs 3. This chapter is filled with knowledge for young people and old alike. It is a chapter that guides to right living and seeking to find our purpose and to live with passion.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones." Proverbs 5-8

In seeking God first everything else has it's time and place. God's perfect timing. I teach my son to wait upon the Lord and in His perfect time that girl will come along and when she does he will know she is the one. Now, that doesn't mean he doesn't fall into temptation of listening to others tell him he needs a girlfriend. It is a battle to shut out the words of the world and focus on God's whisper of "Be still".

Now, the question is did I wait? That is usually what young people ask. They like to say, "Well, you did it, right? You turned out okay." Isn't that like a slap in the face? Ouch. I didn't wait. I was young and searching for something to fill the hollowness in my heart. I was only fifteen years old when I lost my virginity. Fifteen. To a boy who said, "I love you." Oh, if I knew then what I know now. That wasn't love. That was the lust of a fifteen year old boy and a girl who just wanted a boyfriend to hold her hand.

In my younger days I did a lot of things that left an impact on the rest of my life. Choices that at the time seemed right, but down the road turned out to be so wrong. Maybe that is why I understand young people so well. I remember being a young girl and just wanting to be accepted and loved. Isn't that what we all want? But this world is teaching us to gain it in the wrong ways. This world is pointing us into the direction of devastation before we even get started in life. Every choice effects us in one way or another.

What is the big hurry? We need to teach our children to take a stand and be firm in who they in Christ. This is just one battle that will turn into others that we will fight for the rest of our lives. Satan is out there wanting nothing less than to kill and destroy us.

What if we took the time to mentor a young adult? What if we gave our time to reach out and be the example God is calling us to be? Teaching a young woman to be a virtuous woman would change her life forever. Just reading over Proverbs 31 each day would give a young woman strength and courage. Filling one's mind with pure thoughts drowns out all those the world wants us to hear.

I think sharing the truth of our lives, those very mistakes we have made and how God has turned them around for His good can bring young people to understand they are not alone. Young people want to talk. They want others to listen. To often no one wants to hear what they have to say. We need to be willing to mentor and stand in the gap for all those children who have no one in their life giving them the influence they need to make right choices.

Making the right choices and surrounding your life with the right friends is life changing. We need to be a part of our children's lives in every way. Don't just ask, "How was your day?" Dig down deeper. Share a snack and give them room to talk. Too many times I did all the talking and didn't allow my girls to share their whole heart. Oh, they shared, but I wasn't really listening. We have to be willing to hear everything and take the time to search God's word before we give answers. Nothing has to be said or done in the heat of the moment. If I could go back after a talk I would have spent time in prayer before answering and I would have sought out God's wisdom instead of following my own. Take time to be still and listen for God's instruction.

"He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed." Proverbs 13:20

You might be thinking you have nothing to offer a  young person. You couldn't be more wrong. You can give them your time. Open your home. Your heart and share the wisdom of your years. There is healing in sharing. You might just be that one person who will bring new life to another just by hearing your story. Reach out. Start a new program at your church. Get involved with your youth group. Say hello to that young person next door. One voice is all it takes to change the life of another.
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