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  1. I don't write these articles. They come to me via an RSS feed from other sites. And I choose the ones that I think might be of interest to the Christians on this forum. I don't always agree with everything that is written in these articles, but that's fine. ?
  2. It doesn’t make sense! KRISTEN YOUNG 9 JUNE 2021 There are a lot of times when life doesn’t seem to make sense. Like when we put in a good effort, but don’t get the reward we were hoping for. Or when your parents ask you to do something that seems completely insane when you’re in the middle of something really, really important. In the Bible, God often asked his people to do things that just don’t seem to make sense. Here are a couple of mind-bending examples: In the desert, God first asked the Israelites to give him the first and the best of their crops and herds. If you’re a farmer, this DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. Farmers want to keep the best genetic specimens to make sure the next herds are just as good! God sent the huge numbers of Israelites out of Egypt (river plains, fertile, lots of food) into the desert (not much water, v. little food). This DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. Where are you going to find enough food and water out there for hundreds of thousands of people all at once? When he was going to conquer the oppressing army, God told Gideon to send home almost all of his own men. This DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. Why would you attack an opposing force of tens of thousands of men with only 300 soldiers? When King Saul did the dodgy and failed in his kingly role, God sent Samuel to look for a new king. He chose the smallest, youngest, not-even-thought-of-by-his-father-Jesse for the position. This DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. People want to follow the strongest, most physically impressive warrior kings, don’t they? When the Israelites were in exile and going to be in trouble, it was up to the young winner of a beauty pageant named Esther to save everyone. This DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. Women in the king’s harem were powerless. Almost prisoners. How could a trapped woman do anything to save anyone? The more you read the Bible, the more you see of these events that don’t seem to make logical sense - from a human perspective, anyway. But here’s the kicker: that’s the whole point. God's commands don't always make sense See, when everything makes sense, we have a habit of trying to take the credit. So over and over, God put his people into situations where there was only one possible thing they could do: they had to trust him. Of course it makes no sense to give the best animal genetics to God. But he wanted his people to to put their future in His hands. Of course there’s no water or food in the desert. But God wanted his people to depend on him for their daily bread. Of course it makes no sense to fight an army with almost no men. But God wanted Gideon to know who really has the power. Of course it made no sense to pick David from the outside appearance. But God looks at the heart, not what we see. Of course it made no sense to give an imprisoned teenage girl the responsibility of saving a nation. But God can do anything through anyone. Then you get to the biggest, strangest, most mind-blowing event of all... The strangest plan When humans chose to disobey God and go their own way, what response from God would have made sense? “You break it you fix it?” “You have failed, and now you must pay the ultimate penalty?” Surely if we, the people, had broken our relationship with God and wrecked this world he gave us, the most sensible thing would be for God to just delete everything and start again. But that’s not how God chose to operate, is it? No. God did the most ultimate thing that DOESN’T MAKE SENSE: God sent Jesus. God doesn’t ask us to earn back his love. He loved us even when we were his enemies. He loved us so much Jesus died for us. That DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. Jesus didn’t come looking like a conquering king, but like a humble carpenter’s son from a backwater town in Galilee. That DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. Jesus - even though he did nothing wrong - died a criminal’s death. That DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. Jesus took the penalty we deserved for our disobedience. We don’t pay for our sin. He did. That DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. Jesus offers us the free gift of grace - if we accept his death for us, we are made one of God’s beloved children, wiped clean of all our sins, forgiven, accepted, whole. Us. The ones who deserve death! That DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. And yet, that’s what God did. Because even when God’s ways don’t make sense to us, they are more wonderful and more powerful than we could ever imagine. All he wants from you is that you trust Him. That makes the most perfect sense of all.
  3. Thanks to our members who posted these elsewhere.
  4. Where is your identity? Education takes up a huge part of the lives of teens and young adults, and we often place significant value on things like: how well we are succeeding at school if we get into the course or job of our dreams if we’re meeting our goals for a successful and comfortable life. Don't be defined by uncertain things When someone asks you what you do, you probably respond by saying either you’re a student, or you work at such and such a place. For many people, their identity is shaped by what they study or what they’re paid to do, alongside their relationships and activities they’re passionate about (like sport or art). And so, it can be devastating when life fails to work out – if you fail an important exam, injure yourself badly, lose your job, or break-up with your boyfriend or girlfriend. These events stop you from doing what you love, or being with people you love. How would you react if one of these things happened to you? As painful as these things are, what matters most is that God loved us so much he sent his Son to take our sins upon himself and die for us. We can’t place our identity in people or what we do because these change all the time, and are affected by things way beyond our control. No matter how hard we work, we fail, mess-up, and are not perfect. But God is perfect, and because of what Jesus has done, we can know that God loves us, is in control, and is looking after us. Finding your identity in God God is loving, unchanging and perfect, as the following verses show: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17) “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8) “This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” (2 Samuel 22:31) We can place our identity in God, with complete trust that this is the right decision, because he loves us, he is perfect and good, and he will never change in these characteristics. While so many things in our life change, God will always be who the Bible says he is. Rather than placing our identity in our successes, what we do, our friends and family, our boyfriend or girlfriend, or many other temporary things, let’s place our identity in the God who loved us so much he sent his only son to take our sins upon him and die for us. Placing God first, having him shape who you are, frees you to deal with the big losses in life because God is more important than passing, money or a romantic relationship. By placing your identity in God you are building your house on the rock (Matthew 7:24-27) which cannot be destroyed by life’s storms. So no matter what happens, remember that in whatever you go and do, your identity is in God.
  5. How can teens stay true to Jesus in the middle of a sex-crazed world? 20 ways to avoid sexual temptation MIKE EVERETT 20 JANUARY 2021 God commands and demands that there shouldn't even be a hint of sexual immorality among us as His saved people (Ephesians 5:3). Of course, we all find this incredibly easy to do, right? WRONG! This feels completely impossible most (maybe all) of the time. If there is one area of life where it feels like Satan is winning the battle, it’s in the area of sex. And if there is one area where our bodies are screaming out to us to disobey God, it’s in the area of sex. So I want to give you my top 20 tips to help you avoid sexual immorality: Find out what pleases the Lord. This is a command straight out of Ephesians 5:10, and is part of what it means to live a life worthy of our calling as Christians, and part of what it means to live a life of love, just as Christ loved us. Find out what God’s will for your life is. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;” It doesn’t get much clearer than that! The battle begins in the mind. You need to know what God says about sex and trust what God says about sex. You need to be careful what you fill your minds with. Imagination is often the hot-bed where sin is hatched. Martin Luther once said about sexual desires, “You can’t stop birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from making nests in your hair.” Pray (It is a spiritual battle too). Depend on God, on the power of His Holy Spirit to strengthen you in this battle. (Matthew 6:13; 2 Timothy 2:22; James 5:16) Don't put yourself in situations where you will be easily tempted. There is little point praying that God would not lead you into temptation, then walking straight into a tempting situation. Remember God is watching. You are never completely out of sight. Someone can always see you. Wield the axe. Jesus says in Matthew 5, if your eye or hand causes you to sin, gouge them out and throw them away, because eternal life is at stake. So if the internet, magazines, TV, or peer groups are causing you to sin; wield the axe. Chop away those things that tempt you. Talk about sex (accountability). You can't fight this alone. You need God's help and you need help from God's people too. You are not alone. It can be helpful to know you are not the only person who has ever been tempted this way. “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13a) You CAN resist. "God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear" (1 Corinthians 10:13b). Know that God provides a way out. "But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13c). Count yourself dead to sin and alive to God. Christians are people who have died to sin (knowing that sin leads to death), and now live for God and righteousness, knowing that this leads to eternal life (Romans 6:11-14). Remember the cross. Jesus died for our sins, including our sexual sins. Remember Jesus is coming back. We will all have to give an account for our lives, even our sex life. Memorise Scripture. When Jesus was tempted in the desert, he fired Scripture back at the devil (Matthew 4:1-11). Having God’s Word in the forefront of your mind can help you too. Weariness and sadness often leads to sin. Learn to know yourself. Know when you are weak and susceptible to temptation. Struggling is a good sign. Keep fighting and don't give in. Be careful what you wear. Modesty is good for you and good for others too. Forgiveness is available. If you sin sexually you can still be forgiven, such is the power of the cross of Christ. So repent, turn back to God and live for Him. Read some good books. You might find a good book written by a bible-based Christian author a helpful way of answering some of your questions about sex without having to ask people directly. I hope and pray that these tips will help you in this fight. Remember, 'not even a hint of sexual immorality', is God's loving standard for you (Ephesians 5:3)
  6. Sometimes the greatest successes come through the hardest moments. Failure, my teacher LIZZY MILANI 13 DECEMBER 2020 “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” CH Spurgeon Ever failed at something? An exam or project? Failed to get home on time? Failed a friend? We all have. Failure is familiar to us all, with some of us feeling like we experience it more than others. That was definitely the case for me. During Grade 11, I was working on a Maths project with a friend. I have a creative type personality, and I'm somewhat distracted most of the time, so my strength was never in completing set tasks by the due date. And this particular project was no exception. I failed to hand in the project, and consequently I failed my friend. Double whammy! I owned my failures. I wore them around on my sleeve, my heart dripped with them. I lived on a roller-coarser of performance driven self-approval. When I did something great, I thought I was great. When I failed, I sunk deep and dark. After years of living this way, I’ve realised that failure doesn’t need to sit heavy on us at all! It’s not something that defines our character or worth. Not one bit. Is failure always negative? It’s easy to believe that failure is bad and something to be ashamed of. There’s an assumption that it signifies weakness. We’ve all been laughed at for failing, and we’ve held our breath and thanked God when the person next to us failed and we didn’t. Why do we run from it? Why is it so shameful? I get it, I do the same. If 'failure' were a profession, I’d be a billionaire. But what if our failures and failings, our hardships and challenges didn’t mark us as weak and inferior? What if they made us strong? What if they opened up new opportunities and levels of creativity for us? I’m not saying that failure is an awesome experience, to earn its name it clearly isn’t. It’s horrible. But pain has a way of unearthing our beauty, pearls buried deep within our hearts and souls that can only be found while digging deep. Those pearls look like resilience, hope, love, determination, the will to survive, the strength to stand, and the ability to dream. Learning. Growing. The positive side of failure Granted, embracing seasons of abundance and hope realised is much more fun and enjoyable than doing so in moments of humiliation and error. But often our greatest ’successes’ are born in our darkest moments. That's why the well-known Bible techer Charles Spurgeon says, “I have learned to kiss the wave (the hardship, circumstance, failure, challenge, heartache etc.) that throws me against the Rock of Ages (the God of endless and eternal love, faith and hope). JK Rowling said in her speech at Harvard in 2008, “you will never truly know yourself or the strength of your relationships, until you have been tested by adversity.” As painful and hard as it may be, embrace the waves - the turmoil, the failure - because they are, after all, not the end of everything, but our greatest and most patient teachers. And when the season is over, I hope you get to the point where you can look back with a thankful heart and kiss it fondly goodbye knowing that it has served you and your future well. Romans 8:26-28 (MSG): "Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
  7. 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. Be bold!
  8. 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
  9. 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. 4. Drive God is everywhere at once. He has no need for transportation. He is always with us and never gets stuck in traffic. 5. Eat 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. 10. Sin 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.
  10. 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
  11. 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.
  12. 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!
  13. 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.
  14. 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 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
  15. 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
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