Category Archives: For the Teens and College Students

Surviving the Terrible Toos

Romans two verse one has taken on a whole new meaning for me.  By passing judgment on another, I condemn myself.  Ok, Ok, I get the point: Don’t judge, lest you also be judged.  I try hard not to judge others; I try to put myself in their shoes and fight the temptation to place myself higher than they may be.  Then, as I look at myself in the mirror at times, I begin to judge myself.  I get caught up in the terrible toos.  “My hair is too frizzy.” “My face is too broke out.”  “My pants have gotten too tight.”  I catch myself saying, “I’m just too clumsy.”  “She’s too good at that stuff; I am not.”  “I’m too much of a scatterbrain to be able to pull that one off…”  “Im not too good at speaking and teaching.”   I get wrapped up in judging myself and putting myself lower than I ought  because of things within me I label as weak.  These terrible toos plague each and every one of us at some time or another.  When you get caught up in this, have you ever stopped to realize you are passing a negative judgment upon yourself?

When you pass negative judgment upon yourself, you in a sense, become negative.  You hold back from things you could be doing because you lack the self-confidence needed to do those things.  I love the illustration of the members working together as a body in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.  This group of believers were caught up in the terrible toos as well.  They judged themselves by the talents held by another, and began to grumble because they felt as if they were not good enough.  Paul reminded them that as a body, each member had a different role to play so the body would work perfectly.

Have you ever replaced the word “another” with the word “yourself” in Romans two verse one? “In passing judgment upon yourself, you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same thing.”  This means that if I judge myself by the works of others, I am selling myself short and condemning myself because if I believe it, I become it.  We must not look at ourselves and judge negatively when it comes to the things we have been given.  We can judge the sin in our lives, and correct those sins, but when it comes to our appearances, our gifts, and our talents, we have got to get out of ourselves, and use what we have been given to serve.  Psalms 139:13-14 states “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”  When you read this, how can you look at yourself, or any other being for that matter, and pass negative judgment?  David was not being arrogant, or self serving when he praised God for making him the way he was, and so, we too can praise God for making us the way we are and believe that He thinks we are wonderful.  When we possess this confidence, we will not longer get caught up in the terrible toos, and use the talents and abilities we know we have to further God’s kingdom.  May we all stop passing negative judgment on ourselves as we strive to cultivate and stretch the abilities we have been given as a thanks and a praise for our Almighty Creator.

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The Whole Duty of Man

*From the February issue of Katharos Now.  A website for Christian teen girls.  Check it out here!


Happiness for me is a cup of Snickers flavored hot coffee in my hand as I sip the flavorful goodness while reading a good book.  It is that perfect pair of slippers, a beautiful sunrise, a comforting verse from the Word of God, a victory for my favorite team, the laughter of my children, a prayer answered, and a kiss on the forehead from my hubby.  For you gals, it can be a 3 pointer at the buzzer, an A on the test you have studied for for weeks, a text from that cute guy, realizing something new from your daily Bible readings, a call from your bestie, or your parents acknowledging the fact that you actually ARE turning out to be pretty responsible.

 

Happiness is defined as “feeling or showing contentment, satisfied with the quality or standard of, or having a sense of confidence” in the New Oxford American Dictionary.  Where do we obtain true, raw happiness, and keep this happiness alive and well in our daily lives? I believe that the true secret to happiness is found in our faith in, and understanding of God, defining our purpose on this earth, and sharing ourselves with those around us.  If these three basic truths are understood, I believe we will have balance in our lives and a heart full of joy and peace.

 
Wise King Solomon was a man of great understanding.  In fact, he was the wisest man on earth.  He was blessed with great riches and wisdom and yet, in the book of Ecclesiastes, we see a man who lived life to the fullest in a worldly sense, and gained nothing.  He had a sense of unhappiness and regret as he wrote to the generation around him as he spoke of the wasted life he had lived.  He looked for happiness in worldly things and in the end, came up empty handed.  The book of Ecclesiastes is dedicated to all of the things he did in vanity in search of contentment.  As the book comes to a close, wise King Solomon states, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.  For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

 
To live a life full of happiness, we must first have faith in the very being that created us and acknowledge His power. Secondly, we must realize that our very purpose on this earth is to fear God and keep His commandments.  Jesus stated this fact in Mark 12:30.  To be truly happy, we must live obedient lives to God.  And the final secret to happiness is to share this faith and this purpose with others.  In doing this, you will win souls over to God, and you will have a Christian support system to share in your Christian walk.  Sure, we cannot be happy all of the time, that is just not possible, but if we live a life with purpose, happiness will always be evident.  Without a purpose, or a sense of belonging, we cannot obtain that peace which causes happiness to develop.

 
Is finding happiness in worldly things wrong?  No, but we must have a balance.  King Solomon forgot this important balance as he became greedy with his treasures.  We all have certain things that bring a smile to our face and warmth in our heart.  These things become even more special when we thank and acknowledge the wonderful Creator who gave such things to us.  We will be able to achieve a certain type of contentment that will sustain us through the times we feel as if we have no joy left within us.  This contentment comes from our faith and belief in God, our earnest want to serve Him, and our hearts full of love as we share this secret with the world around us.

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Bridle that Tongue!

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a comment that left you with a cold, aching, hatred in your heart?  Have you ever muttered words that left another feeling the same way?  I am shamefully guilty of this, and I have felt the sting of the repercussions on both ends of the hurtful words.  The way we speak to one another can get out of hand at times due to lack of concern for the other, pride, hatred, hurt feelings, selfish gain, and many more factors.  The mouth is such an important part of our lives, but it can turn ugly quick when tempers become aroused.  Psalms 34:13-14 states “Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.  Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.”  The bible also tells us that “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23)

Guarding our tongues from speaking evil of others is such a daunting task at times it seems.  As humans, when we become hurt, it is in our nature to justify our pain, and out of that pain flows words uttered about another that are so hard to erase.  As Christians, it is our obligation to seek peace and pursue it.  The book of James gives us some insight on our words in chapter three.  It explains how little things make a big difference.  He gives us two examples of small tools used to maneuver larger items, and compares them with our tongues controlling our whole bodies.  The horse is given a small bit that is places in its mouth, in order to turn its body in the way the rider wishes to go.  A large ship contains a small rudder to steer it wherever the pilot may want to go.  In the same way, our tongues are very small members, and can steer us in many different directions.  When used wisely, out tongues direct us closer to others and to our Father and Creator.  When used foolishly, our tongues spark a wildfire destroying fellow Christians, and as stated in verse 6, an unruly tongue sets us on a course to destruction.

As we read further in the text, we see how we use our tongues to glorify and bless our Father, and in the same breath, may curse others.  The writer warns us that we should not make this so in verse 10.  He explains how a fresh spring cannot also create stagnate water from the same opening and a fig tree can only bear figs.  In this same manner, we must show consistency with our words.  If we are to wise on this earth, we must show good conduct and bear words that flow wisdom through meekness. (vs13)

I believe the main driving force behind the fire we cast out of our speech sometimes comes from our own selfishness, we seek our own will against the will of others, and if that will is threatened, we tend to lash back with hurtful comments.  The author of the book of James challenges us to purse an active faith which will produce changes in one’s conduct and character.  We must challenge ourselves daily to continue to live lives of purity and self-control while seeking peace with others. We must attain Godly wisdom to control things such as the tongue from ruling our lives.  When your tongue speaks of lies or deceit with another, correct it immediately, we  know that the hurtful things  said in the heat of the moment tend to take years to heal.  Search the scriptures daily so that you may have His word in your hearts every moment,  and in this way, it will be much easier for us to speak well of another out of our love and respect for the Father and His word.  Pray to the Lord that He may help you bridle your tongue in your times of distress and seek peace with others.   I understand that this is such a hard trait to obtain, but I believe it can be done.  I continually struggle with my words and my tone with those who are closest to me at times, and I believe that at the end of the day, if I try my hardest to correct the wrong, pray for forgiveness, and let those whom I hurt know of the love I have for them in my heart, then I will live to fight another day with the battle of the tongue, and my brothers and sisters in Christ will encourage me on as I fight the battle.  I believe this is true for all of us as well.  “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:16-18  May we all seek righteousness and peace with all, and continue on with the task of controlling our tongues out of love for the Father and love for another.

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Charlotte’s Clothes

I have a beautiful friend who has an amazing wardrobe.  She has all the latest fashions and I am sure, outdated fashions that she just knows will come back one of these days.  I came over to her house the other day because she cleaned out her closet and had some of her old clothing for sale.  I felt the urgent need to come over and dig around because I just knew I would find some amazing new stuff just for me.  As I rummaged through her clothing I was in awe of all the textures, colors, patterns, and fit of the clothing.  I tried things on and did spins in the mirror, trying to find that piece that said “Ashley.”  With almost every piece I tried on, I found a problem.  Some pieces were too big or too small, a few of the tops made me feel as if I looked pregnant, and others made me look like a football player.  I began to get discouraged because I remembered the clothes looking great on Charlotte and they looked just plain awful on me.  I bagged up the things that looked close to being a “Ashley” item and brought them to their new home.

Weeks after having the new clothes in my closet, I still felt as if they were Charlotte’s, I could see her as I looked at myself in the mirror with them on.  I began to realize that she had created her own unique fashion identity through her clothing that was all of her own, and my identity was no where to be found.  As Christians, I believe we struggle with this type of identity crisis as well.  We try on different hats in order to find our way in this world only to feel as if we are trying to be someone else, or not feeling quite comfortable with the role that we have decided to place ourselves in.  We struggle with where our identities come from, and  we tend to place our identities in worldly things.  When we introduce ourselves to someone else, we usually explain what we do for a living as if it explains who we are.   The definition of our identity lies within our Creator.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul writes to the church in Ephesus to show them their position in Christ, and how to walk in that position accordingly.  He tells them in chapter two that they were made alive, (vs 1) raised up together, (vs 6) and we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works (vs 10).  Our identity is in the blood of Christ.  Our identity is in the grace that we have received.  Our identity is found in that amazing bond between brothers and sisters in Christ as we come together to worship the Lord and do His will.  So what is our main identity?  We are Christians.  We were bought at a price, (1 Cor 6:20) and we were made to love and serve our Creator.  The titles we have created for ourselves can never create that kind of sense of belonging and security.  When you look at your life, do you see your identity in Christ or in worldly things?  As I gazed at myself in Charlotte’s clothes, I saw someone else, I saw no identity of my own.  I was looking in the wrong place.  Search your heart today and ask yourself “Where have I placed my identity?”

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Your Christianity is Showing

She found herself at a party, again, looking for a good time on another Saturday night. She was surrounded with the same people, doing the same stupid tricks, and getting into the same stupid fights.  There wasn’t much to do in her small town, so she would make her appearance at the local hangouts to maintain her popularity.  She felt uncomfortable drinking at parties, so she would play the designated driver, because in her mind, that was responsible for a Christian.  Tonight was different though, because across the room, she saw him.  Their eyes met, and she found herself whirling in emotions that she didn’t know how to handle, this was no “love at first sight” moment.  Staring right back at her amidst the smoke and friends dancing and singing with their red cups held high was one of her close friends from her church youth group.  She could feel her face turn hot and her stomach sink to the ground.  She was the only one in her youth group that was from her school and her weekend agenda had always been hidden.  But there he was, with a beer in his hand.  He was one of the rocks of the youth group and she had always looked up to him.  They spent a lot of time together in worship and at youth events and summer camps.  They held hands in fervent prayer on behalf of struggling friends.  While she stood there, frozen in her emotions, her face twisted into a painful look of shock and utter disappointment.  But what got to her the most that night was the fact that he was standing there, frozen, looking at her the exact same way.

So many times you can find yourself in this situation out of boredom, or poor choice in friends.   You talk yourself into going to places where you shouldn’t go because you feel you must maintain a certain level of popularity in your school.  The core concept of Christian behavior is laid out for us in 1 Peter 1:15 which states, “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”  For some of us, we only play the part of being set apart, or holy, during worship times, but the rest of the time we may be something completely different.   We must realize that if we are not holy in all of our conduct, at all times, we may be a stumbling block to non-Christians, and to our Christian friends.  Our Christianity isn’t a mask that we can put on and take off at our convenience.  We must carry the name of “Christian” proudly and guard that name against anything that may stain its precious connection to Christ.  Are you disappointing others because of the places you go carrying the name of Christ with you?  When you find yourself yearning to fit in with the crowd, ask yourself, “Is this where I want my Christianity showing?”

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