Those Turbulent Teen Years!

January 28th, 2013

Just a few years ago my wife and I had three teenagers in the house all at the same time. These were definitely exciting and yes at times challenging years. But I don’t have any discouraging or difficult stories to tell you. We really loved our kids teen years. Sure there were challenges but it was really a blast. It was nonstop energy and we have a bunch of awesome memories. Our two boys are married to two wonderful daughters-in-law, and our daughter is counting down her days until she and her fiancĂ© get married this June. My heart grieves for parents whose hearts get broken by their kids during those wild and turbulent teenage years.

Debbie and I don’t think we did it all right, but we sure are thankful that our children, now all adults, both love mom and dad but more importantly the Lord Jesus Christ. One thing the teen years did for me personally was they set me to praying - every day. I asked God to make those teenage years times of blessings and joy rather than times of brokenness and turmoil. I prayed that my kids would have godly hearts. I prayed for their sexual purity, for their ability to stand alone against peer pressure, for their self-images, for their desire to honor and obey us, for wisdom, for their friends and teammates and teachers and coaches and future mates. I prayed that the example of my life would be more consistently godly.

Even if you have made mistakes with your kids, you can't quit. I tried to be diligent in doing what I thought was right, adjusting my tac­tics with each situation and each kid, and adjusting again when my methods didn't work. I don’t have all the answers but I did collect every idea and bit of wisdom I could from any source that I could. Failure was just not an option. Let me give you a few simple ideas you might find useful. There is still Hope!

1. Remember Your Two Primary Responsibilities. They are simple and they must be practiced from birth until adulthood. Our First Responsibility is to Train our children. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Our Second Responsibility is to Restrain our children. Eli failed as a parent according to I Samuel 3:13 “…. because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not." I discovered that it required all of the consistency I could muster up to both Train and Restrain my children especially in their teen years. It is so easy to get tired and let down your guard, but nothing could be more catastrophic, especially during the teens years. I have often said. “Raising kids is not for wimps.”

2. Allow Choices Whenever Possible. When our teens have disappointed us, or failed to gain our confidence, it's easy to step in and make all the decisions ourselves. But kids learn to make good choices ... by making choices. If good choices lead to pleasant results and poor choices produce painful consequences (which they often will if you don't "rescue" them), you'll probably find your son or daughter making more of the former than the latter. Many parents so dominate their teens every decision that the first serious decision they make is to rebel.

3. Remember The Crucial Power Of Saying, "No." It's part of a parent's job description, as I just mentioned in point number one, so don't be timid! "Everybody" may be doing it, going to it, watching it, listening to it, but "In this family, we're not!" Don't just issue declarations, though; keep working on the relationship and explain the reasons behind the boundaries. The older they get they more they need a good, Bible based reason.

4. Follow Through With Appropriate Consequences. If your teen comes home before curfew, praise them. If they ignores the limits you've set, withdraw a privilege or maybe impose some punishment. In the interest of fairness, let your teen know ahead of time what the limits and penalties are. For example, coming home 15 minutes late means coming home 15 minutes early next time. Make it very clear so no one forgets! If you keep moving the goalpost it will lead to resentment and frustration.

5. Re-Evaluate Your Own Personal Habits Occasionally. Every so often, honestly assess where you are and how you're doing as a parent. Give your­self credit in the areas where you're doing well, and thank God for His help. In other areas, be willing to get some advice or help, especially if you’re not doing so well. Often just admitting you’re not doing so good regains the respect and confidence of your teenager.

6. Be Consistent. Some parents find this the toughest task of all. But teens like to know where they stand and what's expected of them. When rules change and they get in trouble, they withdraw or lash out. Nothing is more crazy than dropping out of church or letting your convictions slip when your kids are teens and adults.  Families that compromise in their kids teen years rarely ever see their kids live for God or remain faithful to a good church in their adult years. No matter how much they challenge your Bible based convictions, whatever you do, don’t change course when your teens life course is being set.

7. Be Patient. Sometimes we just need to step back and take a deep breath. Give yourself, and your teen, a break. You're going through a time of upheaval and delicate wire-walking. Allow yourself some slack when it comes to measuring progress. A lot of times I have observed that things will Work Out if we don’t Freak Out.

8. Be Aware Of What Is Going On In Your Teen's World. You have to stay involved in your kids life. You need to know about the culture that's pressuring and misinforming your son or daughter. Don’t be foolish and put your head in the sand. If your kid has facebook then you or your wife needs to have it and keep very informed about what is going on in their world. This may not be very popular but here is my advice for teenagers – No cell phone, no TV in their room and no unfiltered internet access.

9. Enjoy Your Teenager. Being a parent to a teen is not all hard work. There can be a lot of fun, too. Teens are daring, outra­geous, crazy, insightful. They can be great companions when you're running a quick errand. Think of your teen as a new friend you'd really like to get to know. Try not to lose sight of that, even when you don't think you could love this kid one more second. I can honestly say, our kids were when they were teens and now in adulthood are our best friends.

This Sunday Starts An Exciting 4 Week Family Conference At Our Church. The theme for the month of February here at Grace is “There Is Hope For Our Homes And Families.” Each Sunday morning this month one of our staff men will be preaching a vital message on the family in our main auditorium 11:00 AM service. Each Sunday evening in the 6:00 PM service, I will be preaching a series of messages on Raising Godly Children. Join us for a thrilling time February 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th.

R A Torrey gravesite

We Need Revival Now!

January 23rd, 2013

I was preaching a revival meeting several years ago in Binghamton, New York. During the meeting I was privilege to visit the grave of the famous Evangelist R. A. Torrey in Montrose, Pennsylvania, on the grounds of the Montrose Bible Conference. R. A. Torrey joined Dwight L. Moody in his evangelistic work in Chicago in 1889, and became superintendent of the Bible Institute of the Chicago Evangelization Society (Now Moody Bible Institute). Five years later, he became pastor of the Chicago Avenue Church (Now The Moody Church) in 1894.

Torrey went on a world-wide evangelistic tour in 1902–1903, preaching in nearly every part of the English-speaking world. Along with song leader Charles M. Alexander he conducted revival services in Great Britain from 1903 to 1905. During this period, he also visited China, Japan, Australia, and India. Torrey conducted a similar campaign in American and Canadian cities in 1906–1907. Throughout these campaigns, Torrey became a world renowned expert on the subject of revival.

Reuben Archer Torrey went home to be with the Lord at the age of 72 on October 26, 1928. While Torrey has been dead now for 85 years the need for revival in our churches and in the lives of individual Christians has never been greater. If revival was needed in Torrey’s day, how badly is it needed today? R.A. Torrey gave a prescription for revival. Listen to the counsel of the great evangelist:

R A Torrey“I can give a prescription that will bring a revival to any church or community or any city on earth.
First, let a few Christians (they need not be many) get thoroughly right with God themselves. This is the prime essential. If this is not done, the rest that I am to say will come to nothing.
Second, let them bind themselves together in a prayer group to pray for a revival until God opens the heavens and comes down.
Third, let them put themselves at the disposal of God for Him to use as He sees fit in
 others to Christ. That is all!

Torrey said, “This is sure to bring a revival to any church or community. I have given this prescription around the world. It has been taken by many churches and many communities, and in no instance has it ever failed; and it cannot fail!

Another great Evangelist Charles G. Finney defined Revival as: “Nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God. Just as in the case of a converted sinner, the first step is a deep repentance, a breaking down of heart, a getting down into the dust before God, with deep humility, and a forsaking of sin.”

Evangelist Gypsy Smith was once asked how to start a revival. He answered: “Go home, lock yourself in your room, kneel down in the middle of your floor. Draw a chalk mark all around yourself and ask God to start the revival inside that chalk mark. When He has answered your prayer, the revival will be on.”

A Genuine Church

 January 15th, 2013

Words like Authentic and Genuine are essential to the entire fabric of Christianity. When it comes to our Personal Testimonies As Individual Christians and our Corporate Philosophies As Churches the example of Christ demands a zero tolerance for deception. The word Authentic means conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features, made or done the same way as an original, not false or imitation, something real.

The New Testament at its core is Christ in you, the hope of glory”, Jesus expressing his character through his people. With our identity firmly in Christ, we live out an authentically genuine Christianity! If you are a true Christian, you will be unhappy and eventually miserable when you're sinning (I John 3:9). This doesn't mean you will never sin if you are a Christian
(I John 1:8). But there is a difference between recognizing that we will fail occasionally and going on a willful, continual path of sinful disobedience. If you really are a child of God, you will have a sense of discomfort when you sin, because you know in your heart of hearts that what you are doing is wrong.

A Genuinely Authentic Christian loves and obeys the Word of God (I John 2:5). You cannot effectively live the Christian life without a love for, and obedience to, God's Word. All true disciples of Jesus Christ will be students of Scripture and will walk according to its teaching, because the Bible is indeed the very textbook of a Christians life (II Timothy 3:16). Yet so many believers will not read the Bible. They don't realize that success or failure in the Christian life depends on how much of the Bible they get into their hearts and minds on a regular basis.

A lot of people who go to church resemble Christians, but they lack real authenticity. They have no living, vital relationship with Jesus Christ. Genuinely Authentic Christians are transparent. What you see is what you get with them. They have learned through hard experiences that the transparent life is the only life that brings them the joy and peace of God. So with no pretenses they are honest about what is happening in their own lives and they are honest about issues they have with other people.

I think we’re all sick of being marketed to. You would think the Church in America would get this. Sadly many contemporary churches do not produce true disciples of Christ because their whole ministry philosophy is based upon deception. They attempt to trick sinners into accepting Christ by wrapping the timeless truths of scripture in the culturally relevant packaging of rock music and an anti-traditional church marketing strategy.

There persists in contemporary churches a disdain for the purity of the simple truths of the Bible and the practices of the ancient Church. Many have fallen prey to a business mentality where they like to package the way they express Christianity, and it taints everything they do. Many churches disguise their message in dramas, props and stage productions, novelty’s and entertainment all to attract a non-churched crowd. But people are dying for authenticity. They don’t want to feel marketed to and manipulated. In times such as these, people not only want meaning, they need it for their sanity.

The Church of Jesus is a community with a deep-seated history and a narrative that includes powerful sources of meaning that shouldn’t be subject to constant reappraisal. In its experimentation with being cutting edge, today’s contemporary churches have purposefully fled that history and abandoned its sources of meaning. That the rest of our culture has already done the same, to its obvious detriment and rot, doesn’t seem to register with many modern church leaders.

The result is the cold, anonymous, sterile stage hall that is called a church building. Stripped of every element of sacred heritage and meaning, it transmits nothing except chilling functionality. Worship in many churches consists of a stubble-faced young man who sings contemporary and even secular sounding songs as he leads the congregants with the aid of a praise team and a band in a spiritual pep rally. Whereas they once sang from hymn books that had been handled by generations, they now sing from projected images that must also move, the transience of their cascading imagery preventing boredom.

All of these new worship tricks and trappings leave people dying for the authentic and the genuine thing. People truly seeking God don’t want an efficient church, but a real one. They want a Christianity that is real and unashamed of its heritage that makes a difference in the lives of people, not just discussing doing so while it pursues other agendas. People are sick and tired of how the Church in America is experimenting with the sacred faith of the scriptures. We are burned out by the dog and pony show. Our cynical young people understand this, their cynicism in full fester because no one is listening to them, even when they flee the Church. They want genuine connection to what is lasting and worth preserving.

Making concessions to the world’s compromises has failed to root todays seekers in a genuine faith; in fact, quite the opposite. Whatever roots that many have had, have been dug up, moved from the solid ground of the truth, and transplanted into a styrofoam coffee cup called the contemporary emerging church that doesn’t see how shallow it has become. It doesn’t value what is real. It doesn’t have any idea what people truly need. Oh, it thinks it knows because its leaders read the latest bestseller on how to grow a church. Those making these changes don’t understand what they are doing. They attended a conference somewhere, drank the Kool-Aid at some big mega-church, and bought the whole thing without question. The comeback to any protests is, “Well, our message is the same. We’re still upholding the Gospel.”

The problem with that reasoning is that many of the changes they have embraced are simply deceptive marketing that compromises the message of the gospel. If the emerging contemporary church is anything, it's sensitive to the culture around it. Its leaders are thoughtfully engaged in responding to what they believe are dramatic changes in our society. The leadership of these churches argue against those who are tempted to respond to these changes by clinging to a narrowly defined scriptural  foundation. They believe that idealizing a past era and allowing nostalgia to replace the hard work of contextualizing Christianity for today's realities would be a mistake. Instead, we should discover how best to communicate the gospel to our increasingly postmodern world.

I am sorry but to quote young David when given Saul’s armor in (I Samuel 17:39) “…. I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him.” Let’s reject the compromising, market driven, contemporary, shallow, Christianity of today and return to Genuine Authentic Christianity.

There Is Hope In Our Heavenly Father!

January 7th, 2013

Wow! What a great beginning we had yesterday to the New Year! Grace Baptist Church was buzzing with excitement as the first Sunday of the New Year got underway. The crowds in both the morning and evening services were tremendous. It appeared to be our largest first Sunday of the year attendances ever. Grace is such an exciting place to go to church. God let us see 11 precious souls saved yesterday during our services with altars full in both the Sunday morning and Sunday evening services.

Sunday morning I started a four week sermon series on the great theme “There Is Hope In Our Heavenly Father”. This coming Sunday I will continue this Helpful and Hopeful series in the 11:00 AM service. Please plan on attending this Sunday, January 13th.  

If you have not yet received your very own personal 2013 Grace Baptist Church devotional journal, please stop by the church offices this week to pick one up. This incredible 28 page tool will greatly aid your spiritual growth this year. The 2013 journal has a Bible reading calendar, a prayer journal and a weekly scripture memorization calendar included.
Let's Go Soul Winning!

January 5th, 2013

It is the first Saturday of a brand new year and I am excited about giving some folks the gospel today. It is a brand new year and a brand new opportunity to truly be a bold and a spirit filled witness for the Saviour. You won’t be any better of a soul winner in 2013 than you were in 2012 unless you make it a priority in your life this year. Just as soon as I get this blog posted I am headed out soul winning today.  Our building has been full this morning with almost 200 soul winners and bus ministry workers praying and attending our Saturday morning meetings before we obey the words of the Saviour in Luke 14:23 “And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of a new year and we are expecting great things from God here at Grace in 2013. But what God does on Sunday at a church largely hinges upon all the witnessing, evangelizing, soul winning and discipleship work that is accomplished Monday through Saturday. A church that works hard during the week can expect God’s blessings on Sunday.

Are you a soul winner? Are you a faithful witness for Christ? Do you witness to the waitress, the gas station attendant, the motel clerk, the person setting next to you on the airplane? My prayer for this new year is that God would make us all far more soul conscious and bold and compassionate in giving out the gospel.

Charles Spurgeon said it best: “If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” I remind you that the Bible in, James 5:20 “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”

A believer with an honest and good heart, just as Luke 8:15 says, WILL obey the Bible by going forth with the Gospel, as a soul winner. No believer can please God without being a soul winner who shares the Good News of Christ crucified with lost sinners. The word "Gospel" means "good news." Whereas we all deserve to be punished in hellfire for our sins, Jesus paid the price with His precious blood so we don't have to go to Hell. Amen and amen! This is good news!

There is a direct correlation between a believer's love for the Lord, hatred for sin, and the amount of soul winning they do. You show me a professed Christian who doesn't go soul winning or at least attempt to witness on a regular basis, and I'll show you a carnal, sin-loving, immature believer who doesn't love the Lord, as much as they think they do. It is one's love for the Savior that determines how much they hate sin and evil (Psalm 97:10). Sadly today many worldly believers are caught up in so-called "Christian Rock" music, contemporary worship and feel good religion. Jesus said that those who possess an "honest and good heart" will hear and obey God's Word. I am not trying to sound critical, I am just budrend that so many church attenders today are more concerned about their own happiness rather than keeping people out of Hell.

There is something wrong with a professed "Christian" who isn't brokenhearted over the wickedness in America today. May God give us all tears for the lost as we begin 2013. The world needs to be touched by compassionate, concerned, soul winners who care enough to take the gospel to some lost soul today. Let’s Go Soul Winning!

Psalm 126:5-6 “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.  He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”