Archive for February, 2010

What you can do today to serve the world

  1. Give some clothes away. With the new clothes you got for Christmas, you probably have a lot of stuff you won’t be wearing anymore. And chances are, you’ve got clothes you haven’t worn for a very long time. So, take a half hour to go through your closet and dresser, grab those old clothes, and take them to Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or other places that collect second-hand clothing.
  2. Volunteer at a local pet shelter/ humane society, arboretum, nursing home, zoo, or hospital.
  3. Help organize a “Compassion Sunday.” Compassion International links children in need with sponsors who support them prayerfully and financially. One way people find out about this organization’s good work is through its “Compassion Sunday” program. Read all about this program at compassion.com/share/compassionsunday/default.htm. Then talk to your youth leader about hosting a Compassion Sunday to encourage child sponsorship.
  4. Volunteer at a local food bank. Food banks supply food for homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries, and after-school programs for needy children. And they’re often in need of volunteers to help out in a variety of ways. One organization that has more than 200 pantries across the nation is America’s Second Harvest. To find out more or to see if this organization has a food bank close to you, go to secondharvest.org.
  5. Run for it. From crisis pregnancy centers to breast cancer research to the humane society, many nonprofit organizations raise money through races or walks. Keep your eyes open for these types of opportunities, and then encourage your friends to join you in running (or walking) to raise money for a good cause.
  6. Go hungry for the world’s starving. Help your youth group pull off a 30 Hour Famine. Find out all about this fund-raising program at famine.org.
  7. Become a youth liaison for a community service organization or club. Find out if service organizations are looking for teens who can encourage other teens to serve the community. Contact the local Rotary, Lions Club, Kiwanis Club, or The Salvation Army, or talk to the head of your church’s community outreach ministry. Along with representing fellow teens, you can also help organize events that may interest teens and get them involved.
  8. Test your vocabulary and help feed the hungry. For every right answer you give to increasingly difficult word questions at freerice.com, the UN World Food Program donates 20 grains of rice to the hungry. You can also spread the word by grabbing banners to link to the site.
  9. Join a good cause. Is there a social issue you’re passionate about? Something you believe is worth fighting for? Then do something. You can write letters to Congress to try and influence laws—and lots of organizations help you do this through their websites. If you’re interested in ending AIDS and world poverty, for example, go to worldvision.org (click on the “get involved” link) or one.org (click on the “take action” link). You can also write letters through www.house.gov (click on “write your representative”) and www.senate.gov (click on “senators” to find your senators’ contact information).
  10. Do big things. Support other teens who are out to change the world like Kendall Ciesemier (kidscaring4kids.com) and Zach Hunter (myspace.com/lc2lc), or follow their example to make a difference in your own way.
  11. Do small things. Wash the dishes without being told. Help your little brother with his homework. Shovel snow or rake leaves for an elderly neighbor. Babysit your youth pastor’s kids for free. After all, reaching out to the world should begin right where you live.
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While growing up in a very religious and church-going family, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now to me and my peers, “Being Saved” was a rather spooky and mystical thing, and only the real holy folk could be such — whatever it was. I was under the impression that anyone who went up and took the chair after the preacher said, “The do-o-o-rs of the church are open,” was saved. And then, if a person got baptized he got a little more saved. And then, if they really got a dose of this “Being Saved” stuff, they would follow a set of rules like not drinking and smoking. These really saved folk would also engage in shouting and/or speaking in some unknown tongue on Sunday mornings. Now if a person was considered a hard case, he would have to be put on the mourner’s bench until he saw a vision or felt some kind of a change. Then, he was considered saved.

Even though I was raised in this religious environment, I was still rather doubtful about this thing called “Being Saved.” I just could not buy what people said “Being Saved” was. I always had questions in my mind about this matter such as: Saved from what? Saved to what? Was a person saved to live a sinless life? Could a person ever lose this “savedness”? If so, how and at what point? It wasn’t until I was a grown man and in the Air Force that these questions, along with a host of others were answered. I finally found out what it really meant to be saved according to the Holy Scriptures. Allow me to share with you what “Being Saved” really means. But first, let me share with you what it does not mean…

WHAT “BEING SAVED” DOES NOT MEAN

I am a firm believer that before a person can fully grasp and appreciate truth, error must be exposed for what it is: error. Here are some things many believe “Being Saved” is, but is not:

1. Having your name on a church roll does not mean that you are saved. A person may be a good standing and long standing member of a very fine church. He may attend that church faithfully. But if he hasn’t been saved, he will go to Hell with the vilest of sinners. For the Bible states in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”

2. Being baptized will not save you. There are many baptized people in Hell. I was baptized at the age of twelve, but I didn’t get saved until I was nineteen. Baptism is a very important aspect of the Christian’s life, but one should only get baptized after one has been saved. This is to testify to others that you are identifying with Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection. The penitent thief on the cross was saved, but he never got baptized before he died. The Apostle Paul told some Corinthian believers this in I Corinthians 1:17: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel. Not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” Brother Paul would not have made that statement if baptism was necessary for “Being Saved.”

3. Being able to speak in an unknown tongue does not prove that one is saved. Speaking in tongues is not evidence of being saved. In I Corinthians chapter 12, Paul asked some rhetorical questions regarding the gifts of the Spirit that demanded some very obvious answers: “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” The obvious answer to these questions is an emphatic NO! If everyone does not have the gift of tongues, it stands to reason that tongues are not necessary to be saved.

4. Trying to keep the law, much religious activity, and keeping the Golden Rule will not save you. One can’t keep the law because all have broken the law at some point in their lives. For the Bible states in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” One may be a preacher, a deacon, an usher and still not be saved. One could shout, dance, sing in the choir, work on every auxiliary in the church and still die and go to Hell. Why? Because religious activity, no matter how much, no matter how sincere, does not save a soul. For the Bible says in Titus 3:5: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

5. Seeing a vision or feeling a change at some time in your life is not a basis for “Being Saved”. True salvation is not based on sight or emotions, but rather on the eternal, infallible Word of God: the Bible. Now the Holy Scriptures state in the book of II Corinthians and Hebrews respectively that “We walk by faith and not by sight…” and “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

6. To be born into a religious family does not assure that you are saved. Just because your grandparents and parents are saved or religious does not mean that you are automatically saved yourself. It is a fearful truth that every man will have to stand before the Judge of the universe for himself. Psalm 49:7 states: “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him…”

In short, none of the above are ways of “Being Saved.” There is only one way of being saved. Allow me to share it with you now.

WHAT “BEING SAVED” REALLY MEANS

Error being exposed, truth can glisten like a beautiful diamond on the backdrop of black velvet. In order for one to be truly saved, one must first:

1. Recognize the fact that he needs to be saved. Or realize that he is a sinner and totally unable to save himself. Let’s face a cold, hard fact. We all have sinned. We all have done something wrong in our lifetime. Everyone born into this world since Adam, with the exception of Jesus Christ, has transgressed the Word of God. The Bible states in Ecclesiastes 7:20: “There is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not.” And the Bible also says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

2. Second, one must realize the fact that there is a horrible punishment for those not saved. That penalty, that punishment, is a place called Hell. Hell is as real as the house you live in, the clothes you wear, the water you drink. Now, whether you believe that there is a Hell or not, it really doesn’t matter because your unbelief will not change the fact that there is a Hell. For the Bible says, “Let God be true and every man a liar.”If you would investigate the Holy Scriptures, you would find a myriad of verses regarding that awful place. For example, King David said in Psalm 9:17:“The wicked shall be turned into hell and all nations that forget God.”Jesus Christ said in Matthew 5:22b: “…Whosoever shall say thou fool shall be in danger of hell fire.” He also stated in Matthew 25:41: “Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” So, friend of mine, there is a very severe punishment for the unsaved and their sins. And that is a place called HELL.

3. The third thing that we must recognize is that God loves us very, very much.God is “not willing that any should perish” (II Peter 3:9). God loves us so much that He gave His only Son. As the Bible states: “…God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Someone once said, “That if anybody ought to want to go to Heaven, it ought to be black folk with all the trouble we’ve seen.” So if it is our desire to bypass that awful place called Hell (and it should be), we need to realize that God loves us more than we love ourselves. And He has made a way for us to escape. And that is by simply believing in the person and accomplished work of Jesus Christ, plus nothing, minus nothing. Now the way for us to apply this to our own lives is to be willing to repent (that is to change our minds about sin), and do as Romans 10: 9-13 says: to simply believe with your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried and rose again for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will. Romans 10: 9-13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you are willing to trust Christ as your Saviour, please pray with me the following prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize that I am a sinner. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life. Amen.

Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in twenty-three foreign countries. He is the author of ten books. He is the President of Torch Ministries International, which publishes a magazine called The Torch Leader. He is also the chairman of the National Association to Save Young Black Men. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College and a degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University. He is married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica. God has blessed their union with seven children.

In Part 2 of my series, The Myth of Adolescence, I examined the effects of our media-saturated culture on our youth. I argued that it is squeezing young people into a mold where the attainment of Christian character and competence is nearly impossible, while offering in its place an ersatz maturity—technological, sexual, and superficial in nature—that will result in a generation of empty heads and shallow hearts.

My cry was not one of hopelessness. Rather, it was a challenge to my fellow young people to recognize that their restraints are illusory, not inherent, and to free themselves from the shackles of our culture’s expectations.

In response to that challenge, one of my good friends commented with an excellent follow-up question. In short, her inquiry was this: “How do we alert our fellow young people to what is happening? How do we fight this on a larger scale?”

Thank you, Lauren, for taking the time to really think about these things and ask questions. When our fellow young people take the truths that Brett and I have been discussing and begin to act on them, it validates everything that we’ve been talking about.

[Note: If you have not yet read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I would strongly encourage you to do so before continuing.]

Before we can change the culture, we must first change ourselves. To do so, let me begin by outlining a foundational concept of a rebelution.

In Proverbs 13:20 we read, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” The meaning of this verse is clear. To put it plainly, we become like our companions. This is a simple but foundational truth. For us as young people to make our peers our primary source of companionship is to effectively pool our ignorance and foolishness. To walk with the wise is to walk with those who are older, wiser, and godlier than we are.

However, we will not glean the full wisdom of this verse unless we recognize that our companions are not limited to just people. Our companions include, not only our friends and family members, but also the books, magazines, newspapers, and comic books we read, the movies and TV shows we watch, the video games we play, the blogs and websites we surf, and the music, radio shows, and podcasts we listen to.

In today’s information-charged world, many people spend more time with these non-human “companions” than with their peers. According to a study published by Business Week, the average American spends 9.5 hours a day watching TV, going to movies, renting videos, reading magazines, listening to music, and surfing the web. This was in 1998. Since then, Internet use has skyrocketed, DVDs have supplanted VHS, and the iPod has ushered in a new era of isolation from fellow human beings.

The mistake that many young people fall into is this: while we may be careful as to who our human companions may be, we give little to no thought regarding the countless other companions that we constantly allow to influence us. This is why media, of any kind, is such a powerful societal weapon. We do not think of it as a companion.

If we truly wish to walk with the wise, we must choose the media we read, watch, and listen to, with the same care we apply to the selection of our friends… Because, they are our friends.

Alex & Brett Harris founded TheRebelution.com in August 2005 and today, at age 19, are among the most widely read teen writers on the Web. The twins are frequent contributors to Focus on the Family’s webzine Boundless, serve as the main speakers for The Rebelution Tour conferences, and have been featured nationally on MSNBC, CNN, NPR, and The New York Times, as well as in publications like WORLD magazine, Breakaway, and Ignite Your Faith. Their first book, Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations, was released on April 15, 2008, by Multnomah Books.

To read more articles by Alex and Brett Harris, visit their blog here.

Romans 5:20

Here you are reading this devotional and maybe you’re wondering what Christianity is all about. Is it just another choice in a sea of religious options? What makes Christianity any better or worse than the others?

Well, a lot separates Christianity from religion—at least true Christianity, the kind that Jesus came to deliver. But one separates them from the rest. It’s a word called grace.

What is grace? Grace is undeserved mercy. Whose mercy? God’s mercy towards you and towards me.

We live in a world filled with sin. You don’t have to look very far to see that. And every year it seems to get worse. Violence, murder, mayhem.

Yet the Bible says that as big as sin is, grace is bigger. You see, God hates sin, it violates His holy nature. But God also loves sinners. Sinners are why He sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross. His love conquered the power of sin.

Most religions teach that mankind is basically good and that to make God happy, we just have to paper over our sins with a thick layer of good works. The problem with that theory is that it doesn’t work. Religion frustrates. It separates the “good people” from the “bad people.”

The Bible says that we’re all bad people. We all sin against God. And yet we’re all eligible for God’s grace. The more sin, the more grace.

I’m glad for God’s grace, because I know how sinful I am. I’m grateful for the cleansing power of Jesus blood on the Cross, which took away my sin and exchanged it with God’s righteousness. I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit who now lives inside me and helps me live for God.

I’m thankful for grace, because each time I see the ugliness of my own heart, I’m reminded each time that God’s grace is bigger.

Have you experienced God’s grace? If you haven’t, why not talk to your pastor or youth leader or parents and ask about how to become a Christian. You can also click here.

Daniel Darling is an author and pastor with a passion for young people. He is the author of Teen People of the Bible, a 100-day devotional for teens. Visit him on Facebook by clicking here, or at danieldarling.com.

People always say, ‘It’s your life, you choose how you live it’. This, of course, is true – but it seems to me that they are referring to the idea of living under your own rules. As a Christian this isn’t quite true. Yes, we make all our own decisions, but we do have a big helping hand, called the Bible.
The Bible says we are now co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), seated with him in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6). Therefore we are princes and princesses! We have, right there, the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom the Bible says where there is no sickness, no disease and no poverty. This is a cool Kingdom!

You might have noticed that there are Christians around you who are ill, or who may have died from a disease. And you may know Christians who are completely poor. This is because we still also live in this world. We kind of live in two places at the same time.

When we become a Christian, we enter the Kingdom of God, but the Bible says, we will not fully live in that Kingdom until Jesus returns. Therefore, until that happens, it is our obligation, to keep bringing God’s Kingdom into the world.

Click here to read more.

Award-winning recording artist/producer Kirk Franklin has defied the odds.

Turning negative aspects of his life riddled with drugs, teenage parenthood, poverty, and more into blessings by learning from them and moving forward, Franklin is now ready to release the anticipated literary project ‘THE BLUEPRINT: A Plan for Living Above Life’s Storms’.
Set for release via Gotham Books, Franklin’s ‘The Blueprint’ was pieced together not as a biography or tell-all but, to give young people a chance to become the person they need to be, no matter what the situation, or where they come from.

By the time Franklin was just fifteen years old, he was a young father, without an encouraging figure in his life, and just another statistic on the street. As he explains in THE BLUEPRINT, “The street corner was my classroom. The ‘hood was my Harvard.” He went through life thinking he knew it all, and blamed the fact that he didn’t have a role model for not being able to achieve his dreams, until the day he realized he had to turn his life around and become the man he needed to be on his own.

Today, Franklin is the proud father of four and devoted husband of fourteen years, as well as one of the biggest multiplatinum-selling gospel artists of all time. He credits his faith in God and a very close mentor he found later in his life for his success.

According to Gotham, The beauty of THE BLUEPRINT is that Franklin by no way claims to be perfect or have insider knowledge of how to live your life wisely, but rather puts his setbacks and faults on full blast and suggests that oftentimes people, like Franklin at one point, go through life without a plan for success, simply living purposelessly, and without a person to show them the right way. THE BLUEPRINT fills the void of not knowing which way to turn and arms you the necessary tools to succeed.

‘THE BLUEPRINT: A Plan for Living Above Life’s Storms’ is due in stores May 18.

SOURCE: Singersroom

On Becoming a Teen

Posted: February 15, 2010 in Teen Life
Tags: ,

The teenage years have been described as a confusing, out-of-whack time in a teenager’s life. Some have likened it to the experience of riding on a roller-coaster: ups and downs, round and round, twists and turns, all in rapid succession.

Someone once said that a teenager is a “pre-person.” I admit, it can be a confusing time because you want to make your own decisions and do things your own way. Even though you may desire that feeling of independence, deep down you still desire the leadership and guidance of your parents or of someone in authority. You often wish your younger siblings would give you time to yourself, but deep down you enjoy being around them because they remind you of the care-free life of a child. You have one foot over the fence in the adult world, but you still have your other foot firmly planted on the other side.

I gave my life to Jesus Christ at sixteen years of age and made the decision to obey Him during those seemingly confusing years. I have not regretted that decision. He has guided me every step of the way, and after over twenty years of serving Him, I have no desire to let go and live life any other way. Have I made some mistakes along the way? Sure. I will admit that I have not been perfect. I have failed Jesus and have been a disappointment to some along the way because of stubbornness and foolish pride on my part. Have things always gone smoothly? No. But in spite of my failures, the Lord has always been there, like the loving Father that He is, waiting with open arms to receive me back. And I promise you He will be there for you also.

SOURCE: To Be A Teen After God’s Heart
Meriqua Whyte