Growing Up Without Regrets

Couple Taking PhotosGrowing up has never been easy. But in today’s culture young people have more challenges to face than ever before, especially in the area of sexuality. The basic issues may be no different, but the speed of life and the multiple pressures teens face make the risks even greater.

A few sobering statistics: according to the Centers for Disease Control and TeenHelp.com, 48% of high-school students report having had sexual intercourse. One in four teens contracts a sexually-transmitted infection every year. One-third of young women have been pregnant by the time they are age 20, and 80% of those pregnancies are unplanned. The long-term costs of these realities are very high, in terms of higher rates of infertility and poverty, not to mention the emotional costs.

A week ago the Food and Drug Administration made the decision to approve Plan B – the so-called morning after pill – for sale over-the-counter to anyone age 15 or over. Some women’s groups howl that even this minimal restriction is infringement on women’s rights, and is inconsistent with good medical science. Other groups are just as angry that such medications can be made easily available to teens who need parental consent for just about anything else.

Here’s what I believe:

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Seeing You from God’s Point of View

Man Pointing to WatchWe’re a fast-food, instant-information, entertainment-on-demand society. We’re not used to waiting. And we can get rather irritated when we have to do so.

Whole industries have formed based on helping us do things faster, as if that were the measure of success. We are so bent on knowing and doing NOW that we will pay extra – a lot extra – for instant news, instant meals, instant pain relief, “instant” transportation, even “instant” love. We may know that the best wine is aged a long time, but we accept that fact only reluctantly.

What does “a long time” mean to you?

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Who is Your Role Model?

SupermanSuppose you had to choose a role model among contemporary Christians. Who would it be? Perhaps a pastor who you admire? A missionary who has spent years overseas? A grandmother or grandfather who was a “pillar in the church?” Someone who has spent years caring for the disadvantaged in a treatment center or shelter? A Sunday School teacher who has faithfully shaped young hearts in a godly way?

Do you have someone in mind? What is it you admire about them? Compassion? Faithfulness? Wisdom? Patience? Love?

Perhaps you admire them. But truthfully, would you want to be like them? Doesn’t that mental image of a “perfect Christian” also seem rather boring, soft, even weak?

Take “Christian” completely out of the equation for a moment. Who would you choose to be your role model?

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The Easter Story for Today

Three CrossesWe call today Good Friday. But remember – the very first Good Friday was anything but good!

The Biblical story goes like this: Just a few days prior, Jesus had ridden into Jerusalem and been hailed as a King. Children were singing His praises. Blind and lame people were made well. The religious rulers who had been exploiting the people had been exposed and routed. Yesterday, those who were with Jesus thought this might be the time Jesus would usher in God’s Kingdom, and their problems would soon come to an end. Hope was at a fever pitch!

And then today they watched Him die.

We know the end of the story. We know what happened Sunday morning. But imagine for a moment what it was like for those who loved Jesus on that Friday. They had finally dared to hope, and now that hope was gone.

Can you imagine any higher hopes than those of Jesus’ friends a week earlier?

And can you imagine any deeper devastation than how they felt when He died?

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The Gift of Your Transformation

Young Boy with GiftThere is real joy in giving. We instinctively know this. A young man gives special presents to his sweetheart in a quest to win her heart. A parent relishes the wide-eyed joy in their child’s eyes on discovering an unexpected gift. Most of us have experienced moments of such joy.

When someone we care about is in trouble it’s natural to want to help. Often we try to do so by giving things. A divorced parent tries to soothe their child’s pain by buying more “stuff.” Culturally those who have a sense of guilt feel obligated to give “stuff” to those who may have been wronged.

Sometimes things are needed. But too often that becomes nothing more than feeding a hungry man a fish, when teaching him to fish for himself would feed him for a lifetime. And there’s nothing more powerful in teaching someone to fish than seeing YOU do so.

Your own transformation is the most powerful gift you can give to someone in trouble.

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