I’ve Been Lied To.

I've Been Lied To.

I must say, life is quite confusing.

Everything in this world always contradicts itself.

For example, magazines tell us “Be yourself! You are wonderful just the way you are!” and then on the next page, “Nobody will love you if you don’t show at least 95% of your skin at all times. Be brash. Be bold. Throw away your moral compass.”

Wait. What?

I’m supposed to conform to this impossible image of a photoshopped person, and I’m also told to just be myself; both views are supported by most everyone.

Every day we hear:

“Nobody’s perfect. Embrace your imperfections.”

“If you don’t use this product or wear this item, nobody will like you.”

“Normal is boring. Be wild. Be free. Everything is a choice.”

AND HONESTLY, SOMETIMES I FEEL SO DISORIENTED BY IT ALL.

What’s right? What’s wrong? Am I just really weird? What if they’re right, and my life is a lie?

Ah, reader, don’t fret. Although the ways of the world are contradictory and insane, there is absolute truth that will stand forever.

For example, the world tells us that we are created by chance; accidents; mistakes. But do you want to know what God tells us?

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” – Psalm 139:14

The culture tells us that we are our own, and that what we do with our bodies doesn’t matter.

However, the Bible disagrees.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The world says it’s all on us. We have no idea what’s coming. For all we know, the zombie apocalypse could come, World War IV is going to start right after that (because WWIII has probably already come and gone), and the sun is going to blow up one day and smash us to smithereens. And that’s why we buy lots of canned goods…????

Okay, as absurd as that sounds, when our lives aren’t based on truth, we won’t know what to think. But guess what. We are never alone, and God has promised us this:

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” – Matthew 6:31-32

 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

Another lie? How about this one.

“Put yourself first. You deserve it.”

Umm. ExCUSE me?

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4

And I can’t resist this one.

“Love is a feeling. That’s all.”

No, no, no. This is real love!

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” – 1 John 4:10

And let me finish off with one last mistruth that destroys our culture.

What is it? That appearances are everything. All that matter. But let me assure you that that is not the case.

God looks at the heart. It doesn’t matter what anyone but He thinks.

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30

It’s absolutely true that the world lies to us. And it can really mess us up.

If we don’t believe the truth of who we are – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) – we won’t be able to move forward. We’ll be trapped.

But we needn’t be anymore.

*aj

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Dear Christian Teens: On Why We Love Church Camp

Dear Christian Teens- On Why We Love Church Camp

Dear Christian Teens,

I think I’ve finally figured out why we love church camp.

You know. The retreat that so many of us go on once or twice a year.

We all bring terribly bad-for-your-health junk food, money to order pizza at midnight, and tissues to cry into when we have those heart-to-heart conversations.

And more importantly, we bring our Bibles and those journals that we dust off to use once or twice a year.

And with many other things, the memories are lovely things that we visit often after it’s over.

And we look forward to the next one that’ll come up next year.

But why do we enjoy this so much? And why is it so different than our normal lives?

I’m not going to talk about the goofiness that goes on (or why we play Do You Want to Buy a Duck? After the clock turns 12:00). I’m here to talk about the fire that is sparked in our hearts.

Dear Christian Teens,

You know that feeling. You know how it feels to raise your hands in worship with sincerity. You know how it feels to regularly read your Bible and just get it. You know how it feels to enjoy listening to the chapel sessions. You know how it feels to connect with your small group after.

It’s that fire that sparks in your heart after hearing compelling messages.

That fire to live out your faith no matter what.

But sometimes, we get home from church camp, and the fire burns out.

You’re ridiculed at school because you’re viewed as intolerant.

You come to the realization that you’re imperfect…and life is hard.

And then there’s a lot less motivation to read your Bible, so you kind of don’t do it.

Church camp becomes just another experience, and we see it as completely separate from normal life.

But it shouldn’t be.

I think I know why we love church camp. We love it because it sparks a fire inside of us. Our faith becomes even more real to us.

But seriously, when we go home, it shouldn’t end. Even though life gets harder when we aren’t surrounded completely by Christians, we can’t just give up.

Jesus isn’t the Savior of Youth Group Excursions.

He isn’t the Savior of Summer Camp.

Jesus is the Savior of our lives, and His love isn’t any different for us when we are at camp than when we are at home.

We love church camp because we feel God’s presence. We hear His voice. Things become clear to us.

But that doesn’t mean that the other 51 weeks of the year need to be boring.

No. Those 51 weeks can be the best weeks of the year. Wanna know why?

Because we get to live it out. We get to read the Bible on our own free will. We get to pray about things in our daily life, not just out loud in front of our friends. We get to trust God in tangible ways. And we get to grow in Him, which takes much longer than five days out of state.

We get to see God work things out in our lives.

So Dear Christian Teens,

We love church camp because it’s a great experience and we are on fire for God.

However, real life is the experience that we’ve been given for the rest of the year.

Let’s take that fire in our hearts and bring it into our daily lives.

For this is what we’ve been given. Let us not let our fires burn out.

And if we let ourselves be under the control of the Holy Spirit, we will not burn out.

*aj

Dear Christian Teens: On Relationships

Dear Christian Teens 1

Happy Tuesday, awesome blog readers.

Today’s post is a bit different than normal (and I do know that I say that a lot). However, some things have been on my heart recently about teens and relationships.

This is a shorter post today, because today is my first day back to school and last night I was trying to get to bed early. A near-impossible feat on a blognight, I know (and I just made that term up now).

But nevertheless, the points still stand. And I’d like to share them with you.

I am planning on planning on doing more “Dear Christian Teens” articles in the future. (Yes, I am very indecisive and unpredictable, so I can’t promise anything, but I will plan on planning on it.) 😛

I mean, this is a teen blog, after all.

So, here goes. Dear Christian Teens #1. In which Amanda talks about romantic relationships. And dating. And other things she has never quite experienced, but probably will someday.

**

This is written like three separate letters. (Have you noticed my obsession with letters yet?) It’s rather choppy, I know, and I’m sorry. But I wanted to alternate. Because alternating is fun.

So…to be blunt…

Dear Christian Teens,

Dating is not a sport. It’s not “marital practice”. We should focus on the final goal when we are considering a romantic relationship – marriage – for our hearts are much too precious to be thrown around like bowling balls.

Dear Christian Guys,

Value the modest girls. The ones who care about God’s opinion over yours. Beauty fades. Dignity stays.

Dear Christian Girls,

Value the gentlemen, not the bad boys. Humility and selflessness are to be treasured, not thrown away.

Dear Christian Teens,

Choose to love someone who loves God over you. If your eyes are fixed on others and not God, you won’t find The One God has for you. You will find them by focusing on Him.

Dear Christian Guys,

True beauty comes from the inside out. Not the other way around.

Dear Christian Girls,

Don’t compromise your purity to be loved. Rather, prove that you’re worth it by staying pure.

Dear Christian Teens,

Love your family. Treat them with respect and kindness. How else do you expect to be ready for having a family of your own?

Dear Christian Guys,

Your walk with God is invaluably important; you are to be a spiritual leader. You don’t have to be a pastor, but God calls you to be the head of your family and to lead them in truth. Never compromise that.

Dear Christian Girls,

You are God’s beautiful creation, and not an object. Don’t make people think you are by dressing and acting without decency and dignity. Never forget that who you are is defined by what Christ has done for you, and you do not have to prove anything.

Dear Christian Teens,

God must be the center of your life. If He is not, especially in terms of relationships, your life will not be solidly built. Form your life around your relationship with God, and let Him lead you.

And Christian Teens once more,

Marriage will not always be glamorous like in the movies. It won’t be all butterflies and rainbows. But love, and the most beautiful kind at that, is a love that is committed. Not just when it’s easy, but always.

**

I’m sorry if my thoughts are incoherent.

But I guess what I’m trying to (indirectly) say through these mini-letters is this.

God should ultimately be the one guiding our relationships, not us alone.

We all are precious and valuable, and none of us should ever see others as objects (despite what the culture says).

“Old-fashioned” virtues like modestly, decency, humility, and selflessness are BEAUTIFUL. To be treasured, and valued and appreciated.

When commitment to God and to each other is the center of a romantic relationship, it will be much stronger. Seriously. God isn’t to be put on the back burner, people.

And lastly? Dating and relationships are to be taken seriously. As are our relationships with our families. Because really, the ultimate goal is to raise up families to love God and know Jesus.

We can’t listen to the culture when it comes to such important matters. Marriage is beautiful, people. Not to be corrupted.

We were made for each other, God designed it that way.

So Dear Christian Teens,

Let’s be serious. Let’s focus on God first before others, and treat everyone like Jesus would.

Anybody with me?

*aj

Rebel is Not a Synonym For Teenager.

Spring Flowers

Rebel is not a synonym for teenager.

I’m fifTEEN years old. A teenager. But I’m no rebel.

(Okay, so maybe I do occasionally enter through the EXIT at Walmart. But that is beside the point.)

Just because I’m between the ages of thirteen and nineteen, doesn’t mean I disagree with my parents every chance I get, try hard to do the opposite of whatever wise people tell me to, or compromise the beliefs that I grew up holding fast to.

Society would tell people like me me, “You, girl, are insane. Live a little. You are young and free. Party all you want. For this fleeting moment, life is all about fun, of course. Don’t heed advice, all those old folks have no idea what they’re talking about. Experience life for yourself. Make your own choices. Be free to ‘be yourself.’ And you’ll be happy.”

Um, no, actually. I’ll keep my head square on my shoulders, thank you very much.

Not only is this view unwise, but it leads to trouble. And frankly, I have no desire to live wastefully.

But you, reader, may be thinking, “Why is she so different?” Well, I’m glad you ask.

My Faith Is My Own.

I made a decision at a young age to become a Christian. As Jonathan Edwards once said, “Resolved I will live for God. And if no one else does, I still will.” I don’t live for God because my parents force me to, or because an author wrote it in a book that I should. This is my own choice, and no matter how hard I am pulled, I will not be torn away from my foundation that I have built my life upon. The Lord has revealed Himself to me, and I can not deny it. I will not compromise because I am pressured to. I will hold firm because I know the Truth, and it has set me free.

By Obeying Authority, I Am Obeying God.

It’s already been established that my faith is my own. I’m not a brainwashed religious freak. I have fallen in love with my Savior. The authority that humans rebel against is much bigger than parents, or the police, or even the President. If I am to disobey anyone in authority (unless it goes against the Bible), I am disobeying God.

Ouch.

Ephesians 6:1

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

If God says to do something, and I do not do it, then not only am I showing disrespect to those whom I am not heeding, but I’m deliberately rebelling against the Creator of the universe, who also happens to be my Heavenly Father.

Double ouch.

Romans 12:2

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

When I do not conform to the patterns to just about every other teen on the planet, I am being obedient to God. And by doing this, I can discern His will. Is that not awesome?

The Teen Years Are Preparation For The Rest Of My Life.

Right now, I am getting ready to live the rest of my life. If I want to live wisely in ten years, how will that happen if I do not live wisely right here and now?

I’m not going to waste these precious seven years so that I can have temporary (and harmful) fun now. What’s the point?

And seriously. How many adults actually look back on their high school and college years and say, “I am so glad that I partied, did just what I wanted to, and ignored my parents because I knew better than them. It really helped me in the life that was ahead of me.”

Seriously? We are smarter than this.

I’m Not A Child Anymore, Even Though I’m Still Not An Adult.

It doesn’t make any logical sense to behave recklessly like a child and yet demand to be treated like an adult. By doing this, we prove to the world that we are immature and not ready for actual responsibility.

When I was five years old, my parents sat down with me and we had a talk. The main point was, “With age comes responsibility.” (This meant that I had to start emptying the dishwasher every day before I could watch Caillou.) If, for instance, I were to refuse to accept my responsibility, I would not prove to be mature enough for more privileges. The older I became, the more responsibility I was given, and in turn, the more freedom I was given.

Come on, guys. We can act like adults (in the way that we accept responsibility) and so prove that we are ready to be adults. If we act like foolish children, we won’t be ready for everything that life throws our way. So let’s “man up” (or “woman up,” if you prefer) and be wise. I’m not an adult yet, but that doesn’t mean I can start preparing to be one.

Yes, I am a teenager. But I’m not a rebel.

I never had the place to be rebellious anyway. So Why should I? Where is the real and true benefit?

God gave us authorities for the reason of keeping order in this world, for He knew that we all have a sin nature that wants to run rampant inside of us. But as a Christian teenager, I give no authority to my sin.

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

I do not live for my rebellious self anymore, but for my Savior.

And I do not let “rebel” be a synonym for “teenager”.

Note to Parents:

I’m not a parent, so I cannot guarantee to you that your kid is going to obey you or listen to you. But as for me, I have made my faith my own. I desire to heed authority, for I know it is good. Not because Mom and Dad forced me to follow a set list of dos and don’ts, but because my relationship with my Savior is the most important thing in the world to me. It’s my own choice. And it is the best choice I’ve ever made.

*aj

Life as a Teen in This Crazy World

  

I think that being a teen is just so crazy. 
We’re supposed to look and act like adults, but really, we still have the minds of children for the most part. (At least I do sometimes.) Life is a roller coaster, and we’re standing up on the loop-de-loop. (Or something like that. I’ve never been great with analogies.) Anyway, I wanted to talk about our crazy lives, and what we can do about them.
1) Stress.
Life is stressful…there’s no denying it. School, pressure from everywhere, freedom, tragedies…you name it, we feel it. Life is hard. The older you get, the more you understand and are told.
It’s hard to deal with, you know. One of my many comfort verses is Psalm 4:8.


“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

God is my peace. I’ll rest in Him. His embrace makes my stress disappear. I have peace in the crazy.

2) Love. 
Yet another crazy thing. There’s all this pressure coming from the world, saying, “Being single is bad. You need someone to satisfy your every need. How can you get it? Start dating! With countless [easy] payments of BHS (Broken Heart Syndrome)! You’ll never realize how hopeless you were once you have a significant other.” But…that leaves us confused. I mean, who doesn’t want someone to love them for them? Hold them and comfort them? Save them? We all want that, but it can’t be satisfied by a human relationship. It comes from a relationship with God…and if we don’t realize this, we are gonna be lost.
3) School.
Yup. School. I don’t like it any more than you…but we gotta do it. Sometimes I get so frustrated and freaked out over it. But it’s so small in the grand scheme of life, so here’s a verse that helps me through.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to GodAnd the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 4:6-7, ESV)

We will make it. Really. (I’m going to save this post to my favorites so I can read it every day and be reminded of this.)
4) Everything Changing.
Everything is changing. It’s not really fair. Lives change, friends move away, life. is. insane. The one thing that I have to hold onto is this — Jesus never changes. Ever. 
Hebrews 13:8 says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” 
He never changes, even when everything else does. I can stay secure in that!
5) Pressure — From EVERYWHERE.
Social pressure. Emotional pressure. Physical pressure. Family pressure. Everything says “GO HERE! DO THIS! DON’T SO THAT!” And it’s hard. Need I say it again? IT IS HARD! Who do I please when I’m being torn in fifty bazillion directions? Well, here’s who. 
But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4, ESV)

We need to live to please God, not man. That takes a lot of pressure off, doesn’t it.
Life is crazy. But not impossible. 
Being a teen is hard. But we have the Creator of the Universe on our side!
We don’t need to worry. God’s got this. 
It will be okay. We will survive our teen years…and by following God, we will THRIVE. 
*aj