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  1. As a follower of Jesus, you face an opponent that wants to destroy your faith. Christians need to be fighters JOEL A MORONEY Want to join the Swiss Army? It’s easy: 1) Be a citizen of Switzerland 2) Be a male (sorry ladies) 3) Be of fighting age That’s it. If you fit the three categories above, not only are you eligible for the army, but you are already in it! Every Swiss bloke of the right age is in the army. You go to uni or to work as normal. A few weeks every year, you rock up for some army training. Not only do you get one of those cool little knives with a million different tools, but you have a gun and a jar full of bullets that you keep in your house. If another country decided to invade Switzerland, then all the men would instantly leap into action to defend their country. Every man is ready and able to defend. If you’re a Christian, then you’re also part of an army. It doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or a girl or how old you are. If you are a member of the Kingdom of God then you are part of God’s spiritual fighting force. You are called to be ready and able to serve your king at a moment's notice. But the fight we are to fight doesn’t require you to fire a gun. No, the enemy we face requires a whole different sort of warfare. Who we fight against The enemy that God would have us fight is Satan. Jesus defeated Satan on the cross, but Satan’s influence can still be felt. Satan has lost the fight against God, but he won’t go down quietly: He is at work in this world to tear you away from God. He wants you to doubt God’s salvation. He wants you to trust in yourself rather than God. He wants you to reject God as King and abandon his Kingdom. Satan does not want you to be saved, to be in a relationship with God. Get ready to win As a soldier in God’s army, you are called to fight. You are to protect yourself and others from the enemy’s attacks. Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the full armour of God. To know our Bibles. To understand the promises of God. To put our faith in the power of God to save. And we are to be on constant guard. Like the men of Switzerland, we are to be always prepared for an attack. We don’t know when Satan will attack. We don’t know where he will come from or what weapons that he will use. So we are to be ready for him. If you are a Christian, then you are a soldier in God’s army. Be ready to fight. Not with your fists or with swords or with guns. But instead be ready with the certainty of God’s salvation. Stand firm, knowing that he loves you and has the power to save you. And when Satan comes knocking, you will be ready for him. That’s what it means to be a soldier in God’s army.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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:
  7. 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.
  8. 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. ?
  9. 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.
  10. Thanks to our members who posted these elsewhere.
  11. 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.
  12. 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)
  13. 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.”
  14. 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!
  15. 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
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