Archive for the ‘Youth’ Category

Last night on Pastor’s Perspective the topic of yoga came up again. The question was asked if it was okay for the high school football coach to use yoga as part of the team’s stretching program.

Here’s the problem with incorporating yoga (albeit seemingly innocuous and void of Hinduism), into a training regiment: if and when those boys are introduced to the real thing later in life, they will likely surmise, “Oh yeah, yoga! I remember that – it’s harmless! Coach Smith taught us that.”

Oh yeah, yoga…Coach Smith taught us that.”

Many may initially suspect that this coach’s yoga is of the harmless variety, however I submit that it is not harmless, as he is setting these boys up for a disaster, regardless if he realizes it or not. His intent is (likely) not the issue, but rather that yoga is being portrayed as something harmless to a group of young, impressionable boys and some will inevitably take the bait when it’s reintroduced at a later stage of life.
If this yoga program cannot (or won’t) be removed from the school, then parents need to instruct their children that authentic yoga is satanic and that a sanitized version of these rituals only serve as an introduction to this evil practice. The fact that a coach, teacher, or sports figure is okay with it sends the wrong message to these youths and that memory will remain embedded until yoga is reintroduced to them down the road.

Case in point:

From what I can see, Russell Wilson (QB, Seattle Seahawks) is a Christian and I Russell Wilson Credit: Photograph by Peter Yangsense the yoga he does has been stripped of all it’s Hindu attributes. Based on what the Bible has to say, he should not be doing it. Nevertheless, the problem is that the thousands upon thousands of kids (and adults) who look up to and admire him, don’t necessarily know that fact. All they perceive is that Russell Wilson does yoga, he is a Christian, and therefore yoga is okay. This picture of Russell Wilson screams, “Yoga is cool.” Yoga is not cool, it is evil.

The Bible says, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22) and to never “put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” (Romans 14:13). Therefore, that is what we should do. If yoga, or anything else has an appearance of evil and it poses a risk that someone else might stumble, we are commanded to not do it. It’s really that simple.

*I am not knocking my brothers at Pastor’s Perspective program or Russell Wilson. It is just important that we recognize the seriousness of this issue and do whatever is necessary to correct it. I chose to talk about it in a public forum for the purpose of awareness.

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“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit… John 7:38-39a

Up until about 2010, I had assisted in youth ministry in two separate denominational churches for about ten years. While I enjoyed the experience, I persistently expressed grief to those over me that youth group needed to be more than a safe place for teens to hang out and play on a Saturday or Sunday evening – we needed to be giving these kids God’s word on a consistent basis.

The response to these numerous suggestions was typically, “If we do that, they’ll stop coming.”

So my role changed. Sure, I participated in the games the others played, but I made it my business to interject scripture and engage these kids spiritually when possible. Slowly but surely, and as it was observed that no one was fleeing, more Jesus-related material was introduced into these gatherings. Nevertheless, it was always a tough to sell the leaders, so in the end, it was still mostly kid’s play.

In my Bible study, Pastor Jon led me to this article on youth ministry titled, ‘In Touch With Jesus,’ from an October 2006 Time Magazine article. All I could say is that I wished I had stumbled upon it when it was first released. Check out what the author, Sonja Steptoe had to say on the topic:

Youth ministers have been on a long and frustrating quest of their own over the past two decades or so. Believing that a message wrapped in pop-culture packaging was the way to attract teens to their flocks, pastors watered down the religious content and boosted the entertainment. But in recent years churches have begun offering their young people a style of religious instruction grounded in Bible study and teachings about the doctrines of their denomination. Their conversion has been sparked by the recognition that sugar-coated Christianity, popular in the 1980s and early ’90s, has caused growing numbers of kids to turn away not just from attending youth-fellowship activities but also from practicing their faith at allSome experts point out that young people typically drift from organized religion in early adulthood, but others say the high attrition is a sign that churches need to change the way they try to engage the next generation of the faithful. “This dip should serve as an exhortation for everyone to be about the business of discipleship, missions and a higher calling than popcorn-and-peanuts youth culture,” says Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Scholars who have looked at young Christians say their spiritual drift is in part the result of a lack of knowledge about their faith. “The vast majority of teens who call themselves Christians haven’t been well-educated in religious doctrine and therefore don’t really know what they believe,” says Christian Smith, a University of Notre Dame sociologist and the author of Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.

“With all the competing demands on their time, religion becomes a low priority, and so they practice their faith in shallow ways.”

With all the competing demands on their time, religion becomes a low priority, and so they practice their faith in shallow ways.”

That last phrase caught my attention. A Christian’s faith is directly proportionate to how deep they choose to go, but as we would expect (and as this article demonstrates) a young Christian is highly unaware of how deep they can go. In these circumstances it is up to the youth leader to guide his commission to these deeper waters. This passage in Ezekiel demonstrates the progression.

And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed….Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed.

Ezekiel 47:3-5, 8

See the Picture

The man in this story is a picture (or type) of the Holy Spirit taking this person to the places where he could venture more deeply. There is no coercion, intimidation, or duress, just accurate direction and supervision. Is that not the role of the youth leader, parent, or mentor? If it isn’t, it certainly should be.

In Ezekiel’s description we’ve an application for Christian leadership; i.e., a series of faithfully sound events slaked with possibilities. The first act is to guide the child or teen to the water’s edge where they are first drawn in. They don’t have to enter, but many do. At ankle-depth they have succeeded in getting their feet wet.

Subsequently they’re shown a deeper place and it is there they are brought to their knees. In this place they come to appreciate their relationship with Jesus in a more significant way. It’s discovered in this place that they can commune with the living God.

Afterward they’re channeled towards the third depth realizing they are up to their waists now. Initially they’re uncomfortable. The very young don’t yet appreciate it, but the older ones sense this is the place of duplication. It’s here they learn to witness and effectively share their faith with others.

Finally we bring them to the place of total submission where they find themselves completely over their heads. Humbled, they discover that in their inadequacies they are most useable to God. It is also here where they discover they have been healed.

God will never make any of us go any deeper than we want, but by His Spirit He will always show us where we can wade deeper if we desire. It matters not the position, be it youth leader, parent, friend or mentor, for the Christian the role is always the same — to direct those in our care to a place where they can make well-informed decisions.

It’s time to bring Jesus back full-time into the youth group equation. Our kids don’t need more dodgeball and snacks, nor do they need a safe place where they will be coddled in their inappropriate lifestyle choices – they need solid Biblical doctrine, at an age appropriate level, that they can grow in and build upon.

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He will redeem their life from oppression and violence…precious shall be their blood in His sight. Psalm 72:14

The Cost

Do you know how much big business spends on TV ads? A 30-second spot during “The Big Bang Theory,” for example, cost them $275,573 in 2012. “The Simpsons,” $286,131. “2 Broke Girls,” $269,235.  Bigger money is spent on “Sunday Night Football” and “American Idol.” Those shows receive a little over half a million dollars per ad. And of course the biggest money goes to the Super Bowl. They raked in (on average) $3.5 million for 30 measly seconds of your precious time.  Do you know how many pizzas Papa Johns has to sell to recover that kind of investment?

Why would they spend that much money?

The Logic

Last year, Domino’s Pizza expected to sell 1.4 million pizzas during the Super Bowl alone. Papa John sold almost a million pies during the 2010 Super Bowl. To wash down all that pizza, the industry estimates that 1.2 billion cans (or bottles) of beer will be consumed Superbowl weekend. You read that correctly — 1.2 BILLION. Why do advertisers spend this kind of money on 30 second commercials?

Because they work!

If these businesses did not recoup on their investments, they would not spend the money. They have learned that 30 seconds is a sufficient amount of time to sway our thinking. Now let’s change gears.

PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox

Video games?

Yes, but lets focus on the games that are particularly violent and consider the issue logically. If 30 seconds is enough time to influence our decision-making process, how much more so is 30 minutes, or an hour, or several hours? Does it not stand to reason if your child is continually bombarded with violent imagery it is going to have a negative affect? Tragically, through desensitization techniques, your child is being trained to be brutal, uncompassionate, and apathetic. Repeated exposure to negative and/or repugnant stimulus is harming your child and the community where your child roams.

For behold, (God’s) enemies make an uproar; those who hate You have raised their heads. They lay crafty plans against Your people; they consult together against Your treasured ones. Psalm 83:2-3 (ESV)

The Cost

In one study, three university psychology professors concluded that repeated exposure to violent video games leads to an extinction of fear and anxiety (aka: desensitization). As a result there is a decreased perception to emotional and physical pain, a passive attitude towards violence, a decreased sympathy towards victims, and an increased belief that violence is normal and acceptable behavior.

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, is one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of human aggression and the root causes of violence and violent crime. He co-authored a book titled, “Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie & Video Game Violence.” In the book he asserts that there is blame to be laid at the feet of the makers of violent video games, the TV networks, and the Hollywood movie studios. I would agree. However, I assert that the primary blame falls upon the parents who allow their children access to these things. While I am opposed to violating anyone’s First Amendment rights, I am strongly in favor of boycotting those who abuse the privilege.

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” Mark 9:42

The Truth

Mom and dad — If you’re allowing your child to have access to violent video games, violent movies, and violent music, you are in sin and you need to repent. You are kallowing your child to sin and you are providing the means by which they’re doing it. These games and media resources are nothing more than demonic instructional videos and tutorials. Instead of training up your child in the way of the Lord, you’re training him or her up in the way of satan. You are doing great harm to your child and potentially the rest of society. If you’re partaking in these activities as well, you need to stop! Today is the day to bring an end to this travesty. You don’t need to pray about it, I assure you, God does not approve.

“…Those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” Romans 1:32

Understand that last passage in its context. In Romans 1:18-32, the Apostle Paul lists a bunch of sinful activities that the Lord hates and the last verse makes a surprising declaration — a person does not have to be directly involved in a sin to be guilty of a sin. Those who find pleasure in watching sin, or those pretend to commit sin, are just as guilty. That revelation from God should give us all great pause. If it doesn’t, you might be feeling the negative effects of cultural desensitization  Now there’s something you can pray about it! Ask the Lord to search your heart for the truth.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:9-10

You May Need Help

The decision to remove or ban this garbage should be an easy one for the Christian parent, but implementing a successful plan to remove it may not be. While there are many good arguments for the ‘cold turkey’ approach, because of your particulars, it may create a dangerous or risky situation. Of course, you do need to be in prayer about these decisions you are going to make. Regardless if withdrawal is real or imagined, it’s still likely. While I’m tempted to provide a list to follow, I won’t. My advice, after prayer, is to consult your pastor. Confide in him your desire to repent, to turn away from your sin, to turn towards Jesus, and to begin brain-washing your child. As led by the Lord, begin to put together a plan that is pleasing to Him. If  you should find that your pastor discourages your efforts, you will need to find a new pastor, but that’s a whole other blog.

“…In the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14

I am blessed that you took the time to read this blog. I pray you were somehow blessed as well. If you enjoyed the post, please like it, share it, subscribe to the blog, or leave a comment below. God bless!


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