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Part 1: Grow in confidence so you can bring Christ into everyday conversations.
6 ways to be bold for Christ at school
BY EMILY SEMSARIAN 5 NOVEMBER 2020
School is what our lives revolve around as teens. Days are filled with classes, homework and constant chatter. Even though we are surrounded by people who do not know the amazing message of the gospel, we shrink into our bubbles and resist the need and urge to be bold for Christ.
As Christians we are called to be disciples of God. In Colossians 1:28 it states; “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.” It is our job to be planting the seed of the gospel into the hearts and minds of non-believers so they can be fully-equipped for the return of Christ.
As teens, we have lots of opportunities to be witnesses for Jesus through our words and actions. It is definitely easier said than done to be bold for Christ when we constantly fear the judgement of our peers. The urge to curl into a ball when the bible or God is mentioned will continue to happen unless we stride to make a change, to stand up and be bold for Christ.
Here are 6 ways to be bold for Christ at school:
1. Be Different
In today’s society we constantly fall into the trap of wanting to be like everyone else. However, as God’s people we should instead be striving to be like Jesus. In a sinful world, as Christians we should be living a life that honours God. This can be in the form of things like serving. In Mark 10:45 it states; “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Like Jesus we should remember to put others first and aim to look out for those arounds us before ourselves.
If we want to honour God we also need to be careful of our choice of language, actions and activities we choose to partake in. The fact that we act differently to the people around us, and choose not to follow the stereotypical path of today’s teenagers, it places questions into the minds of others, like why are they different. It is these initial questions that plant the seed of the bible into their minds.
2. Be Confident
One of the hardest ways to be bold for Christ is speaking openly about Jesus. This is daunting, but the easiest way to overcome this is by doing it. As cliché as it sounds, practice makes perfect. The more you bring it up, the more comfortable you and others will feel about it. Be confident to bring Christ into everyday conversations.
This can be as simple as when asked what you did over the weekend, replying “I went to youth group where we learnt about…” or saying “I lead a kid’s group at my local church, do you go to church?” It is this casual conservation that will build your confidence and allow you to open deeper discussions about Christ. Do not fear the judgement of your peers, or worry about other people’s opinion of you, because the only opinion that should matter is God’s.
3. Invite people to your church or youth group
As a regular member of my local youth group, one of our goals as a youth is to fill the hall we currently meet in. Currently filling about 2/3 of it, our minister gave as the challenge to invite someone every week. It is this challenge I put forward to all of you. Youth groups are not just for the established Christians but for everyone. Sometimes it can feel awkward to ask one of your friends who does not believe in Christ to your youth group or church, but we need to move past this so that they can hear the amazing news of Christ.
Be bold in asking your friends, one way to make it easier is at the beginning of each term pick one of your friends who you want to focus on. Between classes or at lunch ask them if they have any plans for the weekend, if not, would they want to come to your youth/church. Being resilient and persistent even when they decline, also shows them that it is something that is important to you. If you live nearby offering them a lift can also be really helpful, as a lot of the time the only reason they say no is because they are worried to go somewhere foreign to them by themselves. So I challenge you to be bold and invite your friends!
Come back tomorrow for 3 more ways you can be bold for Jesus at school.
It's not always easy getting to know new people ... but these 10 practical tips might help
How do you make friends at school?
CECILY PATERSON 3 NOVEMBER 2020
The number one question when adults talk to young people is, "do you like school?" The second question is, "do you have lots of friends?" Sometimes I wonder what the reaction would be like if we were more honest and said, "No. I really need to make some more."
There are definitely times in life when we need more friends. But making them seem so daunting. How do you make friends?
It helps to realise that friends first of all usually have something in common with each other. Perhaps you like the same things or have similar interests, you have been to the same places or you have the same values and beliefs. You might look similar or own similar things or you may have experienced the same things at the same time in life.
What happens if your experiences are different from the people around you? Perhaps you need to have some new experiences or be even more interested in the lives of others.
But it’s not as simple as that.
A ‘spark’ of liking is also needed to build a friendship. Unfortunately that's almost impossible to describe or define. Often we know immediately that we like someone, but it can happen slowly too. I have a wonderful friend whom I love spending time with. However when I first met her I didn’t like her at all - for almost a full year. We had to spend more time together before I realized that we actually had a lot in common.
Here is a challenging thought: people who simply ‘want friends’ can rarely find any. Friendship must be about something. So to have friends, we need to be friendly but we also need to be interesting, and interested in life. Getting involved in different groups, missions and projects can be a great way to make friends. Here's a few other ideas to get you started:
Hang out with people, even if you feel shy or awkward
Get involved in groups, projects, missions and stuff you’re interested in
Go to youth group and church and join in with their social stuff regularly
Invite a few people to see a movie or go to the beach with you
Watch how others ‘chat’ to people and learn from them
Have a respectful attitude towards others
Find things you have in common with people
Keep a gentle manner and tone
Be polite, but also be open and honest and ‘yourself’
If you constantly feel like you’re failing, go talk to an older, wiser mentor person and get some tips.
“Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow travellers.” CS Lewis
Remembering God when you wake, sleep, or stare at your phone.
10 everyday activities that remind me of God’s greatness
MITCH MILLER 3 NOVEMBER 2020
Here are 10 things I do everyday that remind me of how great God is, and how much I need him!
1. Wake up
God never sleeps, never needs refreshment and is always perfectly strong. He is available 24 hours a day.
2. Check my news feed
God already knows what each and everyone of us have put on our Facebook walls (and everything we will ever post in the future). He knows each and every detail, of every aspect of our lives and, unlike some of our “friends”, he really cares about those details.
3. Work out (or think about working out)
God will never decay. He has no need to get healthy or stay healthy. He is life itself and cannot die.
God is everywhere at once. He has no need for transportation. He is always with us and never gets stuck in traffic.
God is a big fan of food. He talks about it in his word, and even says that we WILL eat in heaven. The difference is I eat to stay alive. He is always full and in him, we are truly filled.
6. Look at my watch
A day to the Lord is as a thousand years. He is eternal. He always has been and alway will be. What this means is that he exists outside of time. Though God invented the second, minute and hour, there is no clock on his wall. He is never late, never early, never rushed and never bored.
7. Put someone on hold
I’m a phone guy. I talk on the phone all day. Sometimes, two calls come in at once and I have to switch over. God has millions of people praying to him all day and he can hear each one perfectly clearly. He invites all 7 billion of us to cast our cares on him for he cares for us.
8. Make evening plans
God is sovereign over every plan. He has every moment mapped out for the rest of eternity. He never asks anyone, “What are you doing tomorrow?” because he already knows. His plans never fall through, no matter what evil they face.
9. Update Twitter
God has spoken and given to us his perfect word. He never needs to change it or update it. Yet he constantly gets new followers and TONS of retweets haha.
God doesn’t lie. God doesn’t steal. God doesn’t covet. God doesn’t gossip. He is holiness, righteousness and purity. He is a fierce warrior against sin, especially my sin, and will one day rid me of it entirely.
What are some everyday moments in which you can worship God? What activities do you do on a daily basis that are actually opportunities for prayer?
Leave your comments and thoughts below.
Living Boldly for Christ in School
Living Boldly for Christ in School
SEPTEMBER 2, 2020
Emma Mae Jenkins encourages young listeners to express their Christian faith boldly as she describes how she herself was inspired to become brave in sharing the Gospel with her schoolmates, even in the face of bullying and other opposition.
Original Air Date: September 2, 2020
5 Biblical strategies for coping with loneliness
TESSA EMILY HALL 22 JULY 2020
God never created us to endure life on our own.
But since we live in an imperfect world – including unstoppable viruses, broken relationships, and heartbreak – there may come times when life leaves us feeling lonely, abandon, and forgotten. When this happens, how can we approach these lonely seasons and face this suffering from a biblical viewpoint?
1. Find strength in Jesus, remembering that He experienced loneliness as well
Isaiah 53:3 (NLT) says,
“He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.”
Jesus can relate with our loneliness. His own friends rejected Him and even denied that they knew Him! I can’t imagine the deep abandonment Jesus felt in the Garden of Gethsemane as He cried out to God, pleading with His Father to save Him from the persecution of the cross (see Luke 22:42).
Still, Jesus chose to follow through with God’s plan out of obedience, despite the suffering. When we do the same and remain faithful to God, even if it costs us friends and popularity amongst peers, we can receive the same strength Jesus received as He endured the cross while being scorned and mocked.
During times of loneliness, let’s do as Hebrews 4:14-16 says and “come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
2. Draw closer to God and remember that he will never forsake you
As I look back at my teen years, I'm amazed at how God used lonely seasons to help me build a deeper friendship with Him. Human companionship can never come close to filling the ache of loneliness the way God’s love can.
The truth is, humans are imperfect. People betray us. Friends come and go. But I thank God that He remains steady and secure, despite these changes! No amount of human love can satisfy us the way His love does.
Let’s find comfort in the nearness of God’s presence, grow in our walk with Christ, and meditate on the following biblical truths in His Word:
God is always with us (Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 28:20, Psalm 23:4, Hebrews 13:5, Joshua 1:5).
He will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6-8, 1 Samuel 12:22).
Even if others abandon us, God remains (Psalm 27:10, John 14:8).
God sees and cares about our suffering (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 38:9).
God heals our broken hearts (Psalm 147:3).
Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39).
He strengthens us and comforts us (Isaiah 40:28-31, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Hebrews 4:14-16).
3. Reach out to others and learn how to become a good friend
I don’t know about you, but I’ve often found myself sitting around, waiting for a friend to reach out to me. How silly is that? Besides, they could be waiting for me to reach out to them!
In other words, oftentimes when we’re lonely, we try so hard to satisfy desires for companionship that we forget that love is selfless rather than self-seeking (see 1 Corinthians 13:5).
If we hope to model the same lifestyle Jesus lived, then we should always search for ways to reach out to others—both friends and strangers alike.
In the act of showing love to others, guess what will happen? Others will naturally be drawn to the light of Jesus’ love within us. So by being a friend to others, we will, in return, find friends ourselves! How cool is that?
Luke 6:31 (NLT) says, “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”
4. Seek wise counsel from pastors, spiritual advisors and others
If your loneliness is a result of lack of community, perhaps consider reaching out to spiritual advisors and your pastors.
God has placed those mentors in your life for a reason, and He often uses our spiritual advisors to speak into our lives. Ask them if they have advice for how you can combat loneliness and plug into a community.
And if your loneliness has become more serious, leading to deep anxiety or depression, talk to your parents and/or your doctor to get medical help. Don't try and do this all on your own.
5. Remember that seasons don’t last forever
It always helps me to remember the truth laid out in Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT), which says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”
The COVID-19 quarantine isn’t going to last forever. Let’s try to keep this perspective in mind as we endure suffering, seeking God for the endurance we need to press on.
Does God care what I wear?
ELISABETH CARTER 5 JUNE 2020
The clothes that we wear can say a lot about ourselves. And for those of us who follow Jesus, it’s important that we consider what our clothes say about our faith!
You might be thinking though, “God has so much to care about it! Does he really care what I wear?”
Well, the short answer is yes. And… no.
Let’s take a look at what God does care about when it comes to your clothes – and what he doesn’t care about.
God cares if your clothes are outright offensive
This probably doesn’t come as a huge surprise but God doesn’t like it when we wear clothes that contain offensive slogans or images. We also need to be careful that the clothes we wear aren’t inadvertently offensive – for example, containing a symbol or slogan that might offend certain groups, or something in another language that you don’t realise is rude.
God cares if your clothes are designed to tempt others to sin
The question of modesty is a complex one, and I don’t want to lay down any strict rules here about what teen girls or guys should wear specifically. But it is true that certain outfits may cause others to lust, and the Bible is pretty clear that we shouldn’t be putting our brothers and sisters in Christ in situations that might cause them to sin. Take a look at the situation in Romans 14 as an example.
Although the responsibility to avoid lust always lies with the person looking, not the object of their gaze, I’m sure you’ll agree that there are some outfits that are specifically designed to arouse sexual feelings in the opposite sex. We need to be aware of what these clothes might be, and avoid wearing them in situations where we may cause others to sin – out of love for them.
Guys, this applies to you too!
God cares if your clothes are causing pain to others
These days, we are more aware than ever of how unethical the making of clothing can be. And now that we know, we have to think very carefully before continuing to buy clothes produced by companies that exploit others.
Do some research about where your clothes are made, and the human and environmental impact of them. In Australian, Baptist World Aid produces a great fashion guide that rates clothing brands according to the ethics of their manufacturing processes.
As Christians, we need to be loving those less fortunate than us, and if that means missing out on the latest cheap trend piece because the brand producing it exploits children, we need to say no for their sake.
God cares if you are using your money unwisely on clothes
Clothing is an area in which many people overspend. The popularity of sites like Afterpay mean that teenagers are even spending money they don’t have on clothing.
As Christians we need to use our money wisely – because ultimately, it belongs to God! The Bible calls us to be generous givers to our churches and those in need, and to use the money left afterwards responsibly to care for ourselves and our families.
Yes, you do need to spend some money on clothes – and because of the ethical issues discussed above, sometimes more expensive brands are actually a better choice! But if you find yourself addicted to buying new clothes, take a step back and check where your heart is.
But God also DOESN’T care about what you wear!
Sure, God cares about all of the things mentioned above… but he doesn’t care in another sense.
In 1 Samuel, God tells Samuel not to choose a king based on how he looks. He reminds Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Our friends might care about what we wear, but God really doesn’t care at all how you look. He doesn’t care if you’re on trend or if you’re dressed like you just stepped out of 2004.
He doesn’t care if you never buy a brand name t-shirt or if your shoes are scuffed or whether the colour of your swimsuit makes you look tanned or not.
No. More than anything else, God cares about who you are on the inside – your character.
So yes, pay attention to what you wear and make sure you’re honouring God with your choices. But don’t pay too much attention, because ultimately God doesn’t care about you wear – He cares that you follow Him and trust in Jesus!
Why does God want us to only date or marry another Christian?
Dating for the Glory of God
I am 29, female and single. Over the years, I have always stood by the Bible’s command that I should never marry a non-believer, or even entertain the idea - by dating them. As an early teen this was something I didn't struggle with too much – on a surface level the advice made sense.
However the older I've gotten, the messier this issue has become. I have watched friends choose non-Christian partners and been tempted to do the same. I’ve had to grapple deeply with the question: ‘Why has God set specific and restricting guidelines on who we can date and marry?'. I hope to share with you some of my insights into this tricky but important issue.
What the Bible says
In the Bible, God's message on this issue is unmistakably clear. Let's start with the Old Testament. God knew that in the relationship of marriage it would be easier for the Israelites to be tempted away from faith in God towards false gods than the other way around. God designed marriage for oneness in all spheres of the human person, including the spiritual. He knew that given the intimacy of this relationship, it would be tempting for His people to turn to false gods if they were married to pagans or idol worshippers.
In the New Testament, His people are called to be a 'royal priesthood and a holy nation' (1 Peter 2:9), and to be 'holy as the Lord is holy' (1 Peter 1:15). In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul warns the church not to be 'unequally yoked with unbelievers' (2 Corinthians 6:14). However, Paul and Peter both leave room for married non-Christians who become Christians, to stay married and work to convert their spouse by their godly living (1 Corinthians 7:12-13; 1 Peter 3:1).
The Bible is clear in its command that professing Christians are not to marry unbelievers. But, what about dating?
As 'dating' is a twentieth century term, we can't quote the Bible directly on it’s 'dating advice'. However, it does state we should not marry non-believers, so we should not date them either. While dating may not lead to marriage, it could. God's advice is not purposed to limit our chances of marriage, or to legalistically apply rules for the sake of it, but ultimately for the good of the Christian.
For our good
God is not a hard taskmaster who keeps a rulebook, checking off the list of things we do right and wrong. In fact, it is incredible that the Lord of the Universe cares deeply about who we date and marry. If you are a Christian, you are His son or daughter whom He loves, and as someone who knows you intimately, He wants to be involved in every aspect of your life. Like a loving parent, your Heavenly Father wants the best for us, and out of that love, He has made a way for us to know how He wants us to live – through His Word.
God’s plan for our lives as Christians is to is to glorify Him in everything we do, say and think. God's plan for marriage, and therefore dating, is that we would be joined to someone who can help us in this mission to know Jesus and make Jesus known.
God wants the best for us in a life partner, so why would we settle for anything less?
Check your motivations
Is your main motive in dating or marrying someone to be rid of your loneliness, or to satisfy your desire for relationship and intimacy? These are not bad desires in and of themselves - God has made us for relationship. But we must not allow our desire for 'good things' to define us and rule our decisions. God wants us to look to Him for our identity as His Children, as we make these important decisions for our lives.
Our true identity and value does not come from our relationship status. Our value and worth comes from Jesus, knowing Him, trusting Him, and being made more and more into His image.
Do you trust him?
If we believe in a sovereign God, we can trust that He will bring the right person at the right time. Or He won't and we must accept that this is His sovereign will. The question that I have to continually ask myself is: do I trust Him, like really trust Him?
As Christians, we know that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), and that we will continue to face trials and hardships (1 Peter 1:6) until He returns to restore our broken world. God never promised believers that this life would be easy (John 16:33). He promises us so much more: a relationship with Him through Jesus, which will lead us on the most radical, exciting and transforming journey we will ever experience.
Jim Daly has a discussion with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar who offers his expert insights on the coronavirus pandemic.
Then Sarah Mackenzie, author of The Read-Aloud Family, explains how parents can strengthen their relationships with their children by reading books together as a family.
Podcast users, find today's related broadcast resources here: https://dbx.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/connecting-with-your-kids-through-reading
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As we're forced to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic, we're spending more time online, and our work, school, and family life have blended together in an unprecedented way. Today, author Arlene Pellicane offers guidance for managing our digital habits in a healthy manner so that we go online with purpose and unplug regularly to build real, solid relationships with those around us. Podcast users, find today's related broadcast resources here: https://dbx.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/balancing-work-and-family-while-staying-home
Your feedback would be really helpful to us. Please visit http://www.focusonthefamily.com/podcastsurvey to take a brief survey (less than 5 minutes). Thank you! View the full article
Crying out to God in the face of coronavirus
BY SAMUEL JAMES 27 APRIL 2020
The pace and stillness of our locked down society is conducive to deep thinking.
Most of it has been productive but some of it has forced me to ask difficult questions of myself. Namely, how do I deal with my personal struggles when everyone else seems to have it worse than me?
How do I deal with my lack of motivation, my melancholy moods, my frustration, and my sadness when I do not feel like I can tell anyone?
I have wrestled with these thoughts because my problems seem tiny when measured against the magnitude of family tragedy my siblings have just crawled through. My issues are minuscule when measured against my grandparent’s health and the wealth of my Dad’s business or the safety and security of my sister and Mum’s job. As the youngest member of the family I am left thinking, desperately praying and documenting the events around me.
I am a 19-year-old university student, I have a part time job, no clue what a bill looks like and I am the one that is finding it hard to sleep. I am the one worrying, I am the one praying, I am the one getting sadder and sadder. I am the one shedding every tear as the painful stories flow to my ears and retreating to my knees.
Where am I supposed to turn? How do express my pain in a time when everyone around me is hurting much more? How do I tell them that I am praying for them? How do I support them and sympathise with them? How do I say that I feel their pain when I know nothing like it and when my struggles seem so small?
Crying out to God
Perhaps the writer of Psalm 46 would empathise with me.
Psalm 46 is rousing, it is passionate, and it is pleading. I believe that it was written from a place of pain, of anguish, of self-reflection. It opens with:
I do not know about you but through these verses I see the face of the writer streaming with tears, as he spills his fears on the page. He writes about the earth giving way, the mountains quaking and the waters roaring, he describes the entire world contracting, changing, and moving ferociously around him.
But somehow, he does not fear. Somehow, in some way he keeps it together and he has hope.
He does not just show his hope here either, it is all the way through the Psalm. In verse 4 he pins down where his hope comes from :“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.”
In verses 7 and 11 he reminds us of the protection of God: “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
In verse 9 he reflects on the peace of God: “He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.”
Perhaps most importantly verse 10 echoes the anthem shout of God: “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.”
Hope from God
Amidst the raging noise of the world around him, the Psalmist reminds himself and us of our hope, he pinpoints where it comes from, he recounts God’s protection and recalls his thirst for peace.
Most powerfully he reminds himself to be still in the presence of God, and he stirs hope within his heart. The Psalmist says that no matter how the world around him may act and react, he will stand strong, he will be courageous, because he trusts in God.
The message of this Psalm can be summarised by Psalm121:1-2 which says:
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
A challenge for us
Psalm 46 presents a tangible challenge to me. It says to me that I should not feel inadequate, but instead I should be confident because my God is my protector, my comfort, my peace, my fortress, and my hope. Perhaps more than that it says that he is my grandparent’s peace, my siblings’ comfort, the fortress around my family and the peace in each of our hearts.
Psalm 46 says to me that I should quit carrying everyone, that it is not my job; it is God’s. The ones around me love me, and even now they don’t think my feelings are silly, they probably feel the same. It says to me that we should be honest with one another as each of us bow our knees and look to our ultimate hope; God himself. It says that we will get through this turmoil, step by honest step together, as one family, as one body, with one heart and one faith in our God; who is with us now.
How does Psalm 46 challenge you?