Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. -Psalm 86:11

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Messed Up Family- Joseph

Joseph's life story is told in Genesis 37-50. If you want to see an example of a messed up, dysfunctional family, read about the life of Joseph. His dad had children with four different women. His half brothers hated his guts because Jacob, the dad, loved him more than the rest. One day, the brothers' hatred and jealousy of Joseph led them to attack Joseph when he came to check on them as they were working in the fields. They stripped off his valuable coat, which was given to him by their father; then they beat him and threw him into a pit. Then, they sold him as a slave to a group of Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver. What a happy family, right?

Joseph, as a slave, was eventually taken to Egypt, where he was a servant in a very powerful military leader's house. At this point, Joseph could have easily had this attitude: "Why should I serve God? Look at the family He put me in! I was trying to do the right thing, and look what He allowed to happen to me!" He could have come up with many excuses to shake his fist in God's face.

The life of Joseph is too long and detailed to capture in this short blog post. But here is something for you to consider. When you look at the end of Joseph's troubled life, you find that Joseph was greatly used by God. The beginning of his life was pretty horrible; but the end of his life was amazing! If Joseph had turned his back on God when he was a young man, he would have never seen the amazing blessings that God had for him later in his life.

You may come from a messed up family. Maybe you have half brothers and sisters, a stepmom, or a stepdad. Your home may not be a place of peace and comfort. Your home may be a place of screaming and fighting. Maybe you are angry at God for allowing you to be in that situation. Maybe your parents aren't divorced, but they don't get along. Let me encourage you to keep your heart right with God. Things may be messed up right now; but if you will stay close to your Heavenly Father, you will be amazed at the way He will use your life. Remember, your not the only one to be in a messed up home situation. Look at Josiah and Joseph.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Messed Up Family- Josiah

"Is it possible to live for the Lord, even though my family is doing wrong?" I believe this question rests in the minds of young people all over the world.

In some situations, Mom and Dad take the kids to church, and even know how to act properly at church; but at home they live a completely different life- and this brings great discouragement and confusion to the children. In some situations, Mom and Dad are unsaved, and as a result live in a way that brings great heartache to a teenager who is trying to live for God.

In the following posts, I want to highlight the lives of several young people in the Bible who did not come from godly homes, and yet they served the Lord with their lives.

2 Chronicles 34 paints a very clear portrait of the life of Josiah. He became the king of Judah at the age of 8 (sweet!) and was used by God to bring Judah out of idolatry. Verses 2-3 give a summary of Josiah's life:

"And he (Josiah) did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father..."

That is awesome! In these two verses, we see Josiah's life in a nutshell. Praise God, his life honored the Lord!

So, you might say, "Well, he probably had a godly dad that helped him become a godly man, right? Or maybe he had a godly grandfather who took him under his wing and taught him the things of God."

Well, let's look at a description of Josiah's dad, Amon, and his grandfather, Manasseh.

2 Chronicles 33:21- "Amon was two and twenty (22) years old when he began to reign, and reigned two years in Jerusalem. But he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as did Manasseh his father (Josiah's grandfather)..."

Josiah's dad and grandfather did not leave a godly example for Josiah to follow. In fact, they left the opposite of a good example. Josiah could have had the excuse, "Well, my dad was a wicked man, and so was my grandfather. Why should I be any different?" But Josiah didn't do that. He broke the cycle of ungodliness in his family.

I believe the key is found in 2 Chronicles 34:3- "For in the eighth year of his (Josiah's) reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father..." (Note: in this case, when David is called his father, the word "father" has a similar meaning as "ancestor.") This means that at the age of 16, Josiah had a decision to make. Was he going to allow the ungodly heritage in his family to determine the kind of man he was going to be? Or would he realize that just because his dad and grandfather were wicked men, it didn't mean that he had to follow their footsteps?

Praise God, he didn't allow his father's and grandfather's bad testimonies determine the outcome of his life. And if you come from a bad home situation, you don't have to either.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How Do You Respond to Advice and Correction?

When I was a teenager, I really struggled to have a good attitude when my dad would correct me. The fact of the matter is that many times throughout my life, during my teen years and even now, I have needed and still need advice and correction from people whom God has put in my life. And so do you.

Look at what Proverbs 6:23 says. "For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life." The word "reproof" simply means correction. When I receive reproof from someone, that person is telling me about something in my life that is not right. By the way, that is what a true friend does.

How is your attitude towards correction? Do you get angry when someone (your pastor, youth pastor, father, mother, teacher, youth worker) gives you advice or even has to correct you? Look at these two attitudes towards correction, and determine which one is your attitude.

1. A refusing attitude. Proverbs 16:32- "He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul..." Look at Proverbs 13:18- "Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth (listens to) reproof shall be honored." Notice Proverbs 13:1- "A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke." Is this you? When someone corrects you about something that needs to be corrected, do you shut that person off? Do you say things like, "He/she is just trying to control me...I don't need his/her advice." If you have that attitude, the Bible says that you are a scorner, and that you will eventually end up in poverty and shame. I believe that this could mean spiritual poverty. There are a lot of arrogant people who don't listen to anyone, yet they are rich. But look at their personal lives. Look at their families. They may have money, but when it comes to the things that really matter in life, they are poor.

2. A receiving attitude. Proverbs 10:8- "The wise in heart will receive commandments..." Notice Proverbs 15:32- "He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul; but he that heareth reproof (correction) getteth understanding." This is the attitude we should all have. If you don't have this attitude, ask the Lord to help you have a heart that will listen to and act upon advice and correction. You don't know everything. You need help from people who are walking with the Lord. Which attitude do you have towards advice and correction? A refusing attitude, or a receiving attitude?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Destiny

Bro. Cary Schmidt, youth pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church, wrote these words. This song, "My Destiny", has been a great encouragement to me lately, and I wanted to share it with anyone who reads this blog. Please pray for Bro. Schmidt and his family as he is undergoing chemo therapy treatments for Hodgkins cancer.

Deep in the mystery of eternity past
God planned out my life's design
A journey of hope, a lifetime of faith
To be lived in the boundary of time.
He knew my name, He knew my heart
He even knew my sin,
And gave me a will to choose,
And desired that I'd choose Him.

I choose His will, it is my destiny
God's perfect plan, He knows what's best for me
And when my life is over, I look over my shoulder
The only thing I want to see
Is that I lived out my destiny

Life-changing choices are a part of the journey
God created me to take
So many paths, yet still I know
There is only one right choice to make
To live in the center of God's will
And surrender my own plans
Seeing His purpose fulfilled
As I trust His guiding hand.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Have you ever hit the "ignore" option on your cell phone when someone was trying to call you?

Webster defines "ignore" in this way: "to refuse to take notice of."

What are some reasons we choose to hit that "ignore" option on our phones? Here are a couple of thoughts:

1. We are simply too busy to take the call. Now, this does not mean that we dislike this person who is trying to call us. In fact, we will probably call this person back at our convenience. But basically what we are saying when we hit that "ignore" option is that this person is simply not important enough to interrupt our activity. Again, we may not necessarily have a dislike for this person who is trying to call; he is simply not important enough to cause us to stop what we are doing and take his call.

We may ignore his call, and five seconds later receive a call from someone who has great influence upon us, who is important enough to cause us to stop what we are doing and hear what he has to say.

2. This is a person we are trying to avoid. We simply do not want this person's input or influence. We have no intention of calling him back, because we do not want to speak with him-period.

I'm sure there are many more reasons to hit "ignore", but I believe these are the top two reasons.

It causes me to think about a verse in the Bible, where Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in..." This verse was written to a church, a body of believers, not to the unsaved. Jesus was saying, "Hey, remember me? Your Saviour. Your first love. I want to have access to your life. I want to be a welcomed guest in your home. I want to be the number one influence in your life. But I'm an outsider."

Here is reality. Jesus stands and knocks on the door of our hearts. We have a choice: will we open the door, or will we just ignore?

Have you ever hit "ignore" on Jesus? Is it because you are just too busy to respond to Him? There are other influences that you answer, influences that are truly a priority in your life. But when Jesus is trying to get your attention, you are not willing to stop what you are doing to answer. It's not that you dislike Him; you just don't hold Him in high enough esteem to allow Him to interrupt your schedule.

Or is it because you are trying to avoid Him? You know He is going to correct you for some sinful habits. You know He is going to make some changes. You know He is going to make you uncomfortable. You hear Him knocking, but you pretend that you're not home. You ignore Him.

I have ignored Him too many times, but I don't want to repeat that terrible mistake. I hate to be ignored, especially by someone whom I have helped. Christ has helped me more than any person. How could I ignore Him?

Monday, September 27, 2010

What is God more concerned with?

Is God more concerned with the condition of my heart, or with my outward actions? This is a common question, and the answer is...yes.

Psalm 19:14- Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Notice what the verse says. "Let the words of my mouth (the outward actions) and the meditation of my heart (the condition of the heart) be acceptable in thy sight..." God is concerned with both.

Here is the key. When the meditations of my heart are right, then the words of my mouth will be right as well. Again, the focus should be first and foremost on the condition of our hearts before God. This is the foundation upon which the rest of the Christian life is built.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Daniel's Battle for the Heart

He was a young man, probably in his mid to late teens. His parents were most likely slaughtered by the edge of Babylonian swords. His house was most likely pillaged and burned to the ground. His church was invaded and desecrated. He was taken from his homeland, given a new name, forced to learn a new language, and pressured to adopt a new religion. In one day, everything on the outside of Daniel was destroyed. His entire life changed in one awful day. But there was one aspect of Daniel's life that the Babylonians could not change. They could not change what was happening on the inside of Daniel. They could not change his heart. But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself... -Daniel 1:9

There will be situations in your life that are totally out of your control. You can't control your parents' divorce situation. You can't control the sickness that may be plaguing one of your family members. You can't change the family into which you were born. Like Daniel, there are many parts of your life that you have absolutely zero control over. And yet, like Daniel, there is one part of your life that you can and must control- your own heart.

Teaching in Long Beach, California, and working with some of the teenagers there in that city, I knew teenagers who came from unspeakable home situations. I knew teenagers who lost parents because of alcohol abuse. My heart broke for teenagers in our Christian school who had serious struggles within their families. Some of these teenagers have chosen to follow God regardless of their circumstances. They realize that if they use their circumstances as an excuse to sin, they will continue the cycle of sin in their family, and their children will one day be forced to endure the same hardships that they have had to endure. Sadly, some have allowed their hearts to become hard, and have gone their own way.

While some choose, like Daniel, to keep their hearts tender before God, and others choose to harden their hearts toward God, there is a common denominator: the choice is up to each individual, and no outside circumstance can make the final decision about the condition of the heart.

If you are going through a struggle that is totally out of your control, remember Daniel, and remember the decision that he made when everything around him was falling apart. He purposed in his heart to honor God.

If you read the rest of the story, Daniel ended up living a pretty amazing life. He would have missed out on many blessings had he hardened his heart; and so will we if we lose the battle for our hearts.