Friday, May 31, 2013

The Power of Silence

Romans 14:22b, NKJV
     It's been said that "Actions speak louder than words."  And in a way, this is true.  Just saying we'll do something but not sticking to our word does not say much good about our character.  Actions certainly do speak.  But words do as well.  Have you ever considered, though, how much power is in our silence?  That is the topic of this week's post.

     As I've learned about leadership, one of the best sayings I've heard is "Silence is acceptance."  This holds so much truth.  No one truly knows our opinion unless we speak our mind.  Otherwise the opinion of the majority will rule.

     So what if we don't speak our mind?  What if we stay silent about our faith or convictions?  What does that say?  Quite understandably, it says nothing.  In the sight of bystanders, we've just proved our faith to be, well... we haven't really proved our faith to be anything!  But that's the point.  Our silence does not prove anything about our faith.

     In the presence of sinful conversation, action, or overall environment, what does silence do?  It does nothing.  In fact, this goes a step further: silence shows that we are completely comfortable with the situation. Our silence "approves" what's going on, which is just what Romans 14:22 mentions.

     Are you condemning yourself in what you approve?  Is your silence showing others that you're content with sin?  This is something that I struggle with often.

    Silence is acceptance.  What are you accepting?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

There's More to the Story

Romans 14:8-9, NKJV
     If asked what Jesus did for you, what would you say?  Most people would say that He died for them.  And what a humbling statement to think that He would die for us - unworthy, dirty sinners!  The problem is, though, many times we just stop there.  We don't see that there was much more than just a death needed to save us.  We don't see the big picture.

     Now in no way am I minimizing the death of Christ.  When He died, He took our sins forever to be labelled as His.  I can never ignore that!  But what made His death so powerful?  Thousands of people have died for the uplifting of God's kingdom.  What made this so special?

     You see, if Satan can't use us for his evil purposes, he might as well try to take us off the earth so we can't do any good.*  So wouldn't that make Jesus's death a victory for Satan?  The answer is a strong and resounding no.  

     Just after the fall in Genesis 3, God curses Satan, saying "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."  Satan certainly got his punch in, but Jesus's was yet to come.

     The part of the story we most leave out is this: Jesus rose from the dead!  He conquered death, so it couldn't have dominion on us!  Without that piece of the puzzle, we'd just be serving a dead god.

     So how does all this relate to Romans 14:8-9?  This verse emphasizes Jesus's reign over both the living and the dead.  Without His resurrection, we would have no hope!  Now, however, nothing (not even death) can separate us from Christ's love.  

      If you're living, Christ is Lord.  If you're not, Christ is still Lord.**  Jesus is Lord of all!  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ... For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35, 38-39).

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     *Despite this fact, God will sustain those for which He still has a use on earth.  It's the reason you're here!  For a purpose.  If you didn't have one, you wouldn't be here on earth.  (But that's another post topic entirely)

     **Of course now that I think about it, I guess zombies are a little out of luck...     

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Letter to the Future You

Sometimes we wish we could have a conversation with ourselves once in a while.  A talk, heart-to-heart, where we could be completely and brutally honest - where we could talk about our deepest struggles, pains, longings, sings, and more.  That would be great, wouldn't it?

Last year, at a Family Bible Camp at Camp Yolijwa in PA, our Senior High leader had us write a letter to ourselves.  He collected them, each completely sealed, and then mailed them back to us a few months later for us to reflect upon our own words.

This experience had an incredible impact.  It was the first chance I had ever been given to have a true conversation with myself, and every time I read the letter, I am humbled over and over again.  This is a more generalized version of my letter (the original is quite specific and personal), but I hope that you could be blessed by it - and maybe inspired to write one of these yourself.
"Dear Nathan,
Many times you might not take the time to think of where God has brought from.  The struggles you had years ago may not be the same ones you have now.  Take the time today to think of just how far Christ has brought you - and how insignificant you still are compared to all that He did.   
You don't struggle with the same vices that you did before, but I know that there are deeper things that lie within you that tear you apart even more.  Be honest with yourself.  You've compromised your morals, tried to "fit in" and "measure up", you've had sinful thoughts and a bad attitude with your parents, and most of all a deeply rooted pride.  
Don't think that just because you know more than others, don't do everything they do, and do extra good things that they don't, that you somehow don't need God as much as others.  You need Him just as much as they do - and even more.
 I know that you have plans for your future - going to Bible college, finding the woman whom you will marry, and eventually starting a family of your own.  But don't forget that before you can do any of these things, you must first love God with all of your heart and continue growing ever closer to Him.   
You're already reading scripture daily - great!  But don't let it end there.  Don't read it just to get it over with and checked off a list.  Ask God and beg Him to show you things that you've never seen before.  Plead daily that God will mold your heart to be closer to His and to make you broken before Him, to have a heart yearning for others to know Him better, and to think of yourself less - but God more.  
Don't let your feelings for one girl obstruct your desire for the perfect wife.  Feelings pass away - you're seen it before.  Just watch others' actions and their heart before thinking any more of them.  Be patient and trust in Christ for Him to find the right one.  
Stay strong in the Lord and keep growing closer to Him in all you do.
His blessings,

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Share Your Input

     I'll apologize right now: this isn't really a legitimate post.  I'm sorry I haven't been posting as often as I'd like!  Unfortunately, I won't be able to get to writing a post until after this weekend.  But until then, I'd like to direct you to a new page of the blog: Share Your Input.

     This page allows you to share your thoughts about Not Just a Teen, about life as a Christian; about anything, really!  Well... within reason, I suppose.

     If you have any comments to share, questions that you'd like to pose to other Christian teens, or any other feedback, this is your chance to share!  You can recommend future posts or simply share your thoughts.  You can suggest changes or improvements, share what you've been learning in your walk with Christ lately, share new ideas, or anything else you have on your mind!

     I invite you to check out the new page and share your input.  I'd love to hear from you!


     P.S.  The Rebelution, my favorite site (by far) for Christian teens, has recently re-vamped their website.  There are many more possibilities and opportunities for you to share and receive ideas for doing hard things, plus countless other articles and videos for your encouragement.  Check them out!