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  4. A Christian Teen’s Guide to Caring for the Planet BETSY PAINTER Did you know that Christians have engaged and cared for the planet for centuries? Right now there is a particular urgency with the alarming levels of pollution, an erratic climate, and biodiversity on decline. But it’s important to sustain hope not out of ignorance but out of confidence that all creation is part of God’s redemptive purpose. This is God’s world, and our Creator loves the creation. We can join in God’s redemptive work that extends to the full community of creation! Things you may not know about water One of the most pressing global environmental issues today is lack of access to clean water. Water is breathtaking and awe-inspiring, yet this precious resource is surprisingly scarce. Approximately 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water. Why is water shortage a problem? Most of the water on the planet is salt water, meaning it’s undrinkable. The oceans and seas all contain salt water, leaving only 3 percent of the earth’s water fresh. However, most of this is inaccessible and frozen at the poles, which means only a meager 1 percent is reasonably within reach. Failure to clean up our bodies of water and uphold solutions that protect our water systems can lead to rivers combusting, human illness and death, and food contamination. If we aren’t wise with our water consumption and conservation, especially in regions prone to drought, our water tables can shrink to concerning levels. Water justice in the US involves addressing water issues and protecting clean water sources with the same care and urgency for every community, regardless of race or economic status. Prioritizing clean drinking water for everyone is a godly way to care for people. What does the Bible say about fresh water? When we see a community in need of fresh water, we have an opportunity to reflect God’s character. In the book of Matthew, Jesus said that when we offer a cup of water to someone in need, it’s as if we were giving the Messiah Himself a drink (10:42). Jesus is very serious about physical provision for His people, and we should be too. God invites you and me to participate in providing fresh water for one another, and when we do, we can be confident that we are becoming more like Christ. What does the Bible say about how water connects us? As we learn in Genesis 1:2, while creation was still empty and formless, God’s Spirit was “hovering over the face of the waters.” God had a plan for water to sustain all life on earth. Amazingly, every water molecule God created in the beginning is still a part of the water cycle today! Around the planet, water evaporates, condenses into clouds, then precipitates back to the earth as rain or snow. This natural circulation of water connects the seas and rivers with the forests, grasslands, wetlands, and deserts. It also connects them to you and me. Water is the foundational force that binds each ecosystem to another. Without it, life would fail. When we pollute or contaminate our water, we interfere with the systems God set in place to give and support life. What does the Bible say about how water sustains us? Through Moses in the book of Exodus, God caused water to gush forth from a rock in the wilderness, without which His people would have surely died. God provided for Jacob to buy a portion of land and build a well to supply water to his community. In the Old Testament wells were foundational to the survival of a community, especially in a desert setting. These stories show how God knows and meets our needs, bodily as well as spiritually. What does the Bible say about how water renews us? Throughout the Bible, God uses water metaphorically to demonstrate spiritual renewal. Just as God designed our physical bodies to rely on water, our spirits cannot thrive without the transformative presence of God. Perhaps the most notable example of this in a Christian’s life is the sacrament of baptism, which signifies the cleansing and spiritual rebirth of our souls. Jesus also used water to wash the disciples’ feet. Peter learned he had to let Jesus wash his spirit in order to share in the life of holiness with God the Father. In all these examples God chose water, with its cleansing abilities, to physically demonstrate spiritual change. If God chose to work through and with water, what does that say about this significant substance? God offers us peace in the presence of water. Psalm 23:2–3 says, “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” When we take time to sit by a stream and pray, the peace of God settles over us and stills our anxieties to match the tranquil waters. We’re restored by enjoying creation and resting in God’s presence. The beauty of glistening, rhythmic waters in nature is a gift from our Creator. Someday we’ll enjoy life in a perfectly renewed place, but until then, as Christians, we have a responsibility to respect and protect earth. When we consider what a gift water is—a life-giving, cleansing, satisfying, restorative gift—we see how important it is for us to be good stewards of our water sources and supplies; to do our part in meeting the physical water needs of everyone; and to work for clean, accessible water, especially to marginalized populations. How can you make a difference? It’s easy to conserve water! Turn off your faucet while it’s not in use. Running water while brushing your teeth? Mindfully turn it off! Run the washing machine with a full load, and use the cold setting to save energy. Limit your time in the shower to three to eight minutes, or as brief as possible. Pick a couple of songs and challenge yourself to finish showering before they’re over (singing along is encouraged). Get involved! Water issues are global, but it’s helpful to think locally. Organize a litter cleanup by foot, kayak, or canoe with your church or neighborhood. Bring trash bags and map out a route. If walking, prioritize trash thrown in street gutters, which ends up in our rivers and lakes. If boating, look for litter on the banks and floating in the water. Check online to see if any organized “Blueway Cleanups” are happening in your area. Questions to think about God designed us to need water. Do you ever think about your dependence on water and the natural world? (It’s pretty incredible to think God created our bodies with water, to continually need water, and to access water through His creation.) The writer of Genesis mentioned the rivers flowing out of Eden by name—Tigris, Euphrates, Pishon, and Gihon. Do you know the names of the bodies of water in your area? Contact your local utility company to ask where your water is sourced from. Visit and pray by these vital freshwater ecosystems. What does the Bible say about other resources, like mountains, minerals, air, and soil? How can you inspire your friends and family to care for Earth the way God does? Why is this important? Learn more about how to care for Earth the way God does in A Christian’s Guide to Planet Earth by Betsy Painter. About the author Betsy Painter is a creative writer and conservation biologist who is passionate about environmental care and its human dimensions. She is a graduate student at Yale studying the connection between environmental conservation and Christian ministry. She wrote A Christian's Guide to Planet Earth out of a fervent belief that her family in the faith has the reason, the hope, and the resources to make a difference and to seize the opportunity to reflect the gospel message of loving things to life.
  5. So I did a children’s talk based on this last Sunday. Also used it as a way of introducing our new minister, who starts this coming week, but actually turned up for last week’s service somewhat unexpectedly. At least he approved of the silhouette I’d turned his picture into.
  6. re you changing your world – or is your world changing you? BY Ron Lucw Changing a world is a big job. So big, you might say, “Why bother?” Here’s why. There’s one thing (besides death) that is absolutely certain in life. You will either be a part of changing the world around you – or the world around you will change you. It will slowly but surely seep into the pores of your skin and before you know it, you’ll look like everyone else, you’ll talk like everyone else, you’ll think like everyone else. You will lose sight of the person that God created you to be. You will lose YOU! “Ok, so I don’t want to lose ME. I want to make a difference. Where do I start?” The Bible gives us 4 things we can do… 1. Give all of you to God Remember, God is the one who made you, so he is also the one who knows what he wants you to become. You can’t be all that he wants you to be if you only let him have a piece of you. 2. Say no to what the world tells you to be The world is telling you how to live 24/7 – in what you watch, in what you listen to, in what you read. If you never say NO to the world, it will make you into its image, not God’s. It may not always be easy, but it wasn’t easy for Jesus either. Remember, He gave His life for you. 3. Say yes to what God tells you to be God has given His Holy Spirit to live inside each of his children and he will take the lives of those who say yes to him and make them into the people that he always intended them. But we have to cooperate with Him. While God has all the power in the world, He never forces us to do anything (though he sometimes makes life really uncomfortable to help us change!) 4. Think like God, not the world We do that by learning what God thinks, and He has told us a whole lot about that in the Bible. So we have to read and study God’s Word and allow ourselves to be taught by those who know His Word better than we do. The Bible also tells us that hanging with the wrong crowd will ALWAYS get us into a whole lot of trouble It doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends with those who don’t know God. It just means that everyone will be influenced by the company they keep. Hanging with those who think like God thinks will help you, while constantly surrounding yourself with those who think like the world can really make it difficult for you to be who God created you to be. Surround yourself with people who think like God thinks. And remember, changing a world is not a “one-person job”, and God never intended for you to tackle it all by yourself. He placed that load squarely on His son’s shoulders. Jesus is the master world-changer and calls all of his brothers and sisters to join him in bringing light into dark places and changing the world for His glory. It’s a team effort. You can make a difference. You, along with millions of other young people who are committed to THE world-changer, Jesus, can truly change the world. If not you, who will? You must choose. Every day of your life, all you have to do is say YES to Jesus and NO to the world. Thousands of young people just like you from all around the world will be gathering in person, online, and in their own communities for Jesus Global Youth Day, August 8-10, 2019 to be held in Manila, Philippines. It will be massive. To find out more, visit Jesus Global Youth Day.
  7. Six practical ways to honor your parents BY ERICA APPIAH Our parents. They love us and we also love them but sometimes our actions and words (or no words) say the opposite! But actually, one of the ten commandments is to 'honor your father and mother'. Clearly God cares deeply about how we treat our parents. So, here are six ways to show some love to your parents this week. Obey them You can show your mum and dad you love them by doing as they say and what is expected of you. By obeying them, you are obeying God and this pleases him. I will also add in here that whatever you are told to do, you should do it in cheerfulness without moaning even if it means missing out on the movie you planned to watch. Talk Talk to your parents about your feelings - your worries, fears and excitement. Do not stonewall them because parents offer words of wisdom. Just because they are not the same age as us does not mean they can't understand us. Do you love your parents enough to open up to them? Tell the truth Our Father in heaven hates lying. Even if our parents do not know the truth that you hide from your mum and dad, God knows so tell the truth about your friends, school, where you are going and everything else. By doing this, trust will be built between you and your parents. Be cheerful Watch any family TV show and there's bound to be a moody teenager. Sad, I know. Why don't we change this stereotype and be happy. Laugh with your parents (their jokes are funny… sometimes). Treat them with respect Remember who your parents are – father and mother, and give them respect for all they’ve done for you and for their role in your life. This may seem silly but you can show your parents love by simply thanking them for being your mum and dad. They are not just everyone else, they are different. They are our loving, caring parents! And finally… Tell them you love them. It is comforting and loving to your parents to hear that you love them. Shout it out loud, text it, mime it. However you choose to do it, make sure they know you LOVE them!
  8. I teach fourth grade CCD. One of the things I am trying to teach the children is to show their love for Jesus and to do things to 'help' Jesus. This article fits perfectly because I stress with the kids that they don't have to do big things to change the world, they can help Jesus by doing little things. Be nice to each other. Help someone else, and it can be as simple as picking up a pencil they dropped. Be good and do good things. etc. I plan on sharing this article if that is okay with you.
  9. I like this. I can feel a children’s talk coming on based on this message.
  10. Five ways to make a difference for God at school Kelly Carlson 19 NOVEMBER 2021 No matter whether your school year is just beginning - or you're right in the middle of it - it's always a great time to use your life, words and actions to show the love of Jesus to those around you. Here are five ways you can make your school years count: 1. Learn people’s names Our names are the word we long to hear most. It indicates intimacy, friendship, and being known. Learn people’s names and use them as often as possible. Seek out hidden people like maintenance workers. Welcome outcasts, new students, and quiet peers with personal greetings. Use their name in the hallways no less than you would your closest friends. This is a small step to take to show people you care about them, and will help you build relationships for Jesus' sake. 2. Thank your teachers and pray for them Occasionally ask your teachers how their lives are going, and keep track of when they share aspects of their struggles with you. If they are open to it, keep a list of their requests and tell them you're going to pray for them. Follow up in the future to ask about the topic or situation happening in their life. Let’s not forget teachers are real people. They go through struggles, sickness and hurt just like we do, and prayer is powerful! 3. Defend against cruelty with encouragement Fighting cruelty with cruelty is never a good idea. God just won’t have it. Seek out those who are bullied and intentionally build them up. Tell them you care about them – and so does God. Speak the truth loudly and regularly to help counter the negative voices in their lives. Pray for bullies and invite the hurting to join you at lunch, in social activities, or at youth group. 4. Invest fully in whatever you do How do basketball or art club matter? Alone, they don’t. But your participation, treatment of teammates or use of your gifts - these matter a lot! Jim Elliot, a famous missionary murdered by those he went to reach, writes “Wherever you are, be all there.” Don’t spread yourself so thin you cannot be fully present. Giving your all in whatever you do lets people know you are an authentic person who cares about others. 5. Enjoy school, but keep it in perspective Athletic team try-outs, grades, and goals can leave us clothed with competition instead of compassion. Dances, dates, and smiles in the hall can leave us seeking wordly acclaim rather than making our Saviour known in this world. Be a light in your school. Yes, enjoy the dances, work hard, and reach goals. But just make sure the things of this world don't become more important to you than the maker of the world.
  11. What if I fail my exams? Kristin Young 14 NOVEMBER 2021 Do you get nervous waiting for your exam results? Maybe you can’t eat because your stomach is churning so much. You keep wondering about a whole bunch of questions: What will the results be? Will they be enough to get into my university course? What if... what if I don’t get to do what I really, really wanted to do? When your dream is shattered I remember the shock of 'bad' exam results. One minute I had my world all planned out, and the next ... well, the next moment everything crashed down around me. Here are some questions I had to deal with: How much am I thinking 'Good marks = good person?' How much of my self-esteem depends on my academic results? Am I trusting in God, or am I really trying to control him by planning out my own future? Have I been expecting God to automatically approve my ideas, rather than letting Him be in charge? What now?????? In Proverbs, we are reminded: If you’re dealing with the same grief I had to deal with, don’t panic. It can feel like you’re facing a really uncertain future, but you’re not alone, and you’re not lost. Here are some things that helped me: 1. God loves you You might not be feeling very loved right now, but God loves you more than you know. He loves you so much that Jesus came to give up his life for you. No matter what happens, God doesn’t love you any less. His love is not dependent on any exam mark. 2. God knows you better than you know yourself If God knows all this about you, then he also knows your gifts. He knows what you’re best at, even if you’re still struggling to work that out. 3. God knows the future, and he’s in control of everything When everything seems out of control, God’s still in control. In my case, I can look back now and thank God he didn’t let me head in the direction I wanted to - it would have been a disaster! But at the time, I just had to trust Him that he knew what he was doing. When life seemed most out of control, God was fully in charge. 4. God’s plans are different to our plans God isn’t us. He doesn’t just nod and approve of whatever we think we should do. Sometimes God purposely gives us a wake-up call like this to remind us that we’re not gods. It’s like he stops us in our tracks and says, “I love you, but are you going to let me be in charge now?” 5. God is more concerned with who we are than with what we do God works everything for our good, but “our good” is not necessarily our wealth or success or career glory. God’s ultimate purpose for your life is that you will be more like Jesus (“conformed to the image of his Son”). I couldn’t be like Jesus when I was resting on academics for my self esteem. So God thankfully took that away from me (I can say that now). It’s a life-long journey, and there are still times when God lovingly gives me that sort of tap on the shoulder. But I’m grateful, because Jesus is so much more awesome than anything else. 6. There is nothing too big for God to deal with, so pray, and pray, and... pray At the moment you might not be able to see your future, but God can. So ask him to look after it. Here’s the sort of prayer I ended up praying: Instead of asking God what he wanted me to do, I’d been shoving my proud ideas in his face, and expecting God to just give automatic approval to my plans. It took a massive reality check for me to realise I wasn’t in control of my world. I needed to repent of my pride, and depend on the God who is in control of everything. There was this old hymn that kept on turning around in my mind as I dealt with this issue:
  12. What’s the big deal with casual sex? 10 NOVEMBER 2021 Edited from a Q&A written by christianity.net.au You're out on a date, and kissing is starting to turn into something more. You know what the Bible says about sex before marriage but you're excited, feeling good and after all, everyone else is doing it. Surely God won't mind! Once you do get married you're sure you'll be able to commit to that one special person, but for now, what's the problem with having some fun and exploring sex? For most of the world, sex is no big deal. It’s for fun and pleasure, but it doesn’t have to be confined to a committed marriage. In fact, a lot of the world would say, "sleep with as many people as you can", or "have as much sex as you can!" This is the message we receive in magazines, online and on TV. So, when we are young and exploring life, why does God continue to insist we wait until marriage for sex? Why is sex so special? Sex is a special gift from God designed to unite a couple in marriage. When sex is practiced as it should it is a wonderful gift of intimacy that builds and cements the marriage relationship. Sex is part of the means by which a couple become “one flesh” when married. The picture of marriage in Genesis is one where there is such intimacy and trust that “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Gen 2:25). Sex creates, enhances and expresses this intimacy. It's not something we do to 'get something' from someone, it's the ultimate physical expression of love and commitment. Saving sex for your spouse In any other context but a commited marriage, sex can have deeply painful consequences. Unfortunately, sin distorts even this most precious gift so that sex can be used to exploit, abuse and defile. Sex's uniting power is strong, so it is virtually impossible to have sex that does not involve giving of the whole self. Therefore without the corresponding commitment to love, cherish and stand by another person for the rest of your life, this uniting power is corrupted and damaged. What generally happens is that the more you try and turn the intimacy off and have a fling, the less likely you are to be able to turn it back on when it counts. The result is that sex starts to lose its ability to cement and build the marriage relationship. If you engage in casual sex and later get married, the consequences of your past actions will reveal themselves, even if you've repented. Going against God's good design is never a good idea, and though God does forgive and promise to wipe your slate clean before him, you and your spouse will still have to work through pain and grief. Explore sex when you're married God has designed sex to work best in the context of a committed life long relationship. There is nothing to be gained by “exploring”. In fact, “exploring” the sexual dimension of a relationship is part of the building the intimacy in it. There is great joy in discovering sexual intimacy for the first time with someone who is committed to you. There is no fear and no shame because that person has promised not to leave you. Sex within marriage is actually the most freeing expression of sexuality, contrary to popular belief! Sex before marriage may look and be appealing but there is much more to be gained by keeping yourself until you are married, as hard as this may be in our “enlightened” society. So next time you're tempted to go too far with someone, remember that God has designed sex for marriage, and the designer always knows how his creation works best.
  13. kinda funny but kinda serious at the same time
  14. I hope the wine was 17 years old!
  15. That's how I thought about you putting this in. Always 'food for thought' even if one doesn't agree with everything. Kai
  16. 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. ?
  17. Fascinating thoughts from you, Jonathon, and thank you for provoking/stimulating our own thoughts too. I don't exactly align with your beliefs but I respect them of course. I've sent you private message as I found myself wandering !
  18. I guess as long as it makes sense to him.
  19. 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.
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