"If anyone would come after me. He must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me, for whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. Mathew 16:24-25

Monday, December 20, 2010

Teenage Pressures

Every Teenager has faced pressure: pressure from parents, other adults, those younger than us and peers.

We have pressure from our parents to get good grades, behave the right way, and do what we’re supposed to. Mostly this is good pressure but sometimes well meaning parents can bog us down when stress is coming at us in many different areas of our life.

We have pressure from younger kids because we need to be a good role model for them and sometimes we feel so inadequate. We wonder how we can be a leader when we are still trying to figure out our own lives.

But the most pressure we get is from our peers, teenagers because that’s who we spend most of our time with and try to find acceptance from. We feel peer pressure to be cool, look the right way, act the right way, be popular. I know this is true for me and I’m pretty sure it’s true for every other teen. We all want to have a talent, gift, ability to do something that matters to other teens whether that is sports, music, art, or other venues we want to fit in somewhere, in some group. Those that don’t fit into a group or have any “”noteworthy” talent that teens accept often feel insecure and have a low self esteem.

The key of course is God. Reading the Bible, going to Church, praying, will give us spiritual insight into reality and what is really important in life. Many of the things teen put value on are superficial, of this world and will not matter once you get out of high school. Once you’re in college or at least after college no one will care how popular you were accept those who have not grown up yet. We just have to put our trust in God, surround ourselves with good, supportive friends, and make the right decisions and we’ll be fine. Oh blessed is the person who does not follow the advice of wicked people, take the path of sinners, or join the company of mockers. Psalm 1:1

What Job Teaches about Suffering

The problem of pain and the book of Job

36:15 Those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.”

“Why Me?” Almost everyone asks this question when terrible suffering strikes. An automobile accident, a diagnosis of cancer, a long-term disease like arthritis-each of these raises intense questions about why God allows pain.

Over the centuries, suffering Christians have gained help and comfort from studying the book of Job The book gives no compact theory of why good people suffer. Nevertheless, the following insights into the problem of suffering do come out of the book of Job.

Principles from Job

1. Some suffering is caused by Satan. Chapters 1 and 2 make the important distinction that God did not cause Job’s problems. He allowed them, but Satan actually caused the pain.

2. God is all-powerful and good. Nowhere does the book of Job suggest that God lacks power or goodness. Some people say that God is weak and powerless to prevent human suffering. Others, called deists, assume that he runs the world at a distance, without personal involvement. But in Job, God’s power is never questioned; only his fairness. And in his final summation speech, God used splendid illustrations from nature to prove his power.

3. Suffering doesn’t always come as a result of sin. The Bible supports the general principle that “a man reaps what he sows,” Even in this life (Galatians 6:7; also Psalms 1:3; 37:25). But other people have no right to apply that general principle to a particular person. Job’s friends tried with all their persuasive power. However, when God rendered the final verdict, he said simply, “You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (42:7). The Old Testament includes other examples of people who suffered through no fault of their own, such as Abel (Genesis 4) and Uriah (2 Samuel 11). And Jesus spoke out against the notion that suffering implies sin (see Luke 13:15; John 9:1-7).

4. God will reward and punish fairly in a final judgment after death. Job’s friends, along with most Old Testament folk, did not have a clearly formed belief in an afterlife. Therefore, they expected that God’s fairness-his approval or disapproval of people-had to be shown in this life. Other parts of the Bible teach that God will reward and punish fairly after death.

5. God does not condemn doubt and despair. God did not condemn Job’s anguished responses, only his ignorance. Job did not take his pain meekly; he cried out in anguish to God. His strong remarks scandalized his friends (see, for example, 15:1-16), but not God. Ironically, despite his bitter speeches, Job earned God’s praise, while his pious friends were soundly rebuked.

6. No one person has all the facts about suffering. Neither Job nor his friends had enough facts. Job concluded that God was unfair, treating him like an enemy. His friends maintained that God opposed Job because of his sin. All of them later learned that they had been viewing the situation from a very limited perspective, blind to the real struggle being waged in heaven.

7. God is never totally silent. Elihu made that point convincingly, reminding Job of dreams, visions, past blessings (chapter 33), even the daily works of God in nature (chapter 37). God also appealed to nature as giving evidence of his wisdom and power. Although he may seem silent, some evidence of him can be found. One contemporary author expressed that truth this way, “Don’t forget in the darkness what you have learned in the light.”

8. Well-intentioned advice can sometimes do more harm than good. Job’s friends were classic examples of people who let their pride and sense of being right interfere with their compassion. They repeated pious phrases and argued theology with Job. His response: “If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom” (13:5).

9. God asks for faith. God refocused the central issue from the cause of Job’s suffering to his response. Mysteriously, God never gave an explanation for the problem of suffering. He did not even inform Job of the reason behind it: the contest recorded in chapters 1 and 2. He concentrated instead on Job’s response. The real issue at stake was Job’s faith-whether he would continue to trust God even when everything went wrong.

10. Suffering can be used for a higher good. In Job’s case, God used a time of very great pain to win an important, even cosmic, victory of Satan. Looking backward, but only looking backward, we can see the “advantage” Job gained by continuing to trust God. Job is often cited as an Old Testament picture of Jesus Christ, who lived a perfectly innocent life but endured great pain and death. The terrible event of Christ’s death was also transformed into a great victory.

Thousands of years later, Job’s questions have not gone away. People who suffer still find themselves borrowing Job’s own words as they cry out against God’s seeming lack of concern. But ob affirms that God is not deaf to our cries and is in control of this world no matter how things look. God did not answer all Job’s questions, but his very appearance caused Job’s doubts to melt away. Job learned that God cared about him and that God rules the world. It was enough.

Thoughts on Twilight

When I read Twilight books I liked them in some ways but they really bothered me but I couldn’t say exactly what. I read this article from the Breakaway magazine and it all came clear to me. Bella cares more about her boyfriend than anything else in life. Is that healthy? Is that the most important thing in life? Love and romance is a good thing but in everything a good dose of moderation would help these books out a lot.

Spiritually Empty “Twilight”

Q My Friends are fans of the “Twilight” books, about a teen girl who falls in love with a vampire guy. Are they OK to read?

-Jill, Berlin, Ohio

A What is it about vampires? Blade. “Buffy.” Underworld. “true Blood.” Our culture seems to have a romantic fascination with bloodsuckers. While “Twilight” isn’t as grave as biting page-turners by Anne Rice or Stephen King, Stephenie Meyer’s series feeds on that same gothic attraction, sometimes in unhealthy ways.

These books about a mortal girl, Bella, and her undead squeeze, Edward, get spiritually darker and more violent as the story builds, taking a big leap in book four. There’s also a lot of physical intimacy. Even though cuddling in bed stops short of sex before marriage-is that really the wisest place for singles to curl up?-Meyer later spends quite a few pages describing the couple’s honeymoon.

An even broader concern is how Bella’s love for Edward blinds her to the value of her own soul. Romance rules. Informed that joining him in the vampire realm will result in an eternity with no hope of salvation, she decides, “Compared to the fear that he didn’t want me, this hurdle-my soul-seemed almost insignificant.” She assures him, “if you stay, I don’t need heaven.” Could infatuated teens in love with “love” adopt a similar attitude?

The thought of always being young and energetic is appealing because God designed us to live forever, However, He wants us to look forward to the eternity He has planned (John 14:2-4; Revelation 21:1-5), not be captivated by a spiritually empty take on vampire mythology. I’d skip these books and the movie.