After parenting 6 teens for the last 8 years, and also having 14 more years to go to parent another 3 into adulthood, I’ve learned there are 2 major things that cause a truckload of teen-drama.

  1. Brain development – As puberty cranks-up and their bodies and brains go into hyper growth mode, one area of the brain begins to rapidly mature, and another waits a few years.  The Amygdala is the area controls immediate reactions and aggressive behaviors, and begins to develop rapidly during puberty.  The Frontal Cortex is the area controls reason, logic, self-control, wisdom, etc. This part doesn’t start to develop until a few years later; and in males, may not be fully developed until they’re 25 years old. As I’m sure you can imagine, this imbalance leads to a lot of impulsive and risky behaviors that horrify parents, like speeding, fighting, risk-taking, etc.
  2. Dating – As teens go through puberty and their bodies begin to “bloom”, something on the inside wakes up too, and it’s powerful.  They become subconsciously aware of the reality that there’s someone outside of themselves and their immediate family that is required to “make them whole”, and they immediately begin trying to stuff other teenagers into that “hole”.  The problem is that “hole” is actually meant to be filled by a relationship with Jesus instead of another human, and He’s the only one big enough to fill it.  Since a human can never fill the place of God, but the longing to have that “hole” filled is so strong, all kinds of drama erupts in a short order, because a human can never love us with the fullness that God can.  And since they’re not “feeling the love”, they either go through lots of break-ups trying to find that “right person”, or they get into ugly and hurtful drama trying to control each other.

So, the message to my teens has been “Even though it feels like I’m trying to control you, I’m really just functioning as your frontal lobe until yours is developed enough to govern you to the point that you won’t do irreparable damage to yourself or someone else”.  And “Don’t date.  Spend your time an energy with friends of the same gender, having fun, gaining vision for your future, and get to know Jesus.  Once you’ve matured to the point that you’re ready for marriage, then have some healthy dating relationships, and avoid all the drama”.  They certainly haven’t followed this advice perfectly, but the seed was planted, and helped them to make better decisions once they experienced some of the foolishness of going their own way.

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The Power of Beholding

I’ve meditating on the principle of “beholding”. Simply put, the principle is that we become what we behold.

(Beholding meaning more than just looking at something occasionally. Beholding is more along the lines of habitually gazing intently [pondering deeply] at something, so as to soak it up into your being)

So, if we become what we habitually behold, then:

* If we behold worldly TV, movies, sports, etc; then we become spiritually weak, selfish, & carnal believers.

* If we behold evil like porn & violent movies, etc; then we become depraved, deceitful, and dangerous.

* If we behold the law of God as requirements for being right with Him, then we become judgmental, self-righteous, demanding, rude, overbearing, graceless, legalists.

* But praise Jesus, when we behold Him, we become grace-filled, loving, kind, truthful, bold, wise, disciplined, etc.

Let’s behold the awesomeness of our Lord Jesus!

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
‭‭II Corinthians‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭NKJV‬

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A Battle Hymn by Charles Spureon

Forth to the battle rides our King, He climbs His conquering car;
He fits His arrows to the string, And hurls His bolts afar.
Convictions pierce the stoutest hearts, They smart, they bleed, they die;
Slain by Immanuel’s well-aimed darts, In helpless heaps they lie.

Behold, He bares his two-edged sword, And deals almighty blows;
His all-revealing, killing Word ‘Twixt joints and marrow goes.
Who can resist Him in the fight? He cuts through coats of mail;
Before the terror of His might The hearts of rebels fail.

Anon, arrayed in robes of grace He rides the trampled plain,
With pity beaming in His face, And mercy in His train.
Mighty to save He now appears, Mighty to raise the dead,
Mighty to stanch the bleeding wound, And lift the fallen head.

Victor alike in love and arms, Myriads around Him bend;
Each captive owns His matchless charms, Each foe becomes His friend.
They crown Him on the battle-field, They press to kiss His feet;
Their hands, their hearts, their all they yield: His conquest is complete.

None love Him more than those He slew; His love their hate has slain;
Henceforth their souls are all on fire To spread His gentle reign.

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Reality Check – Killing sacred cows

Bible study, prayer, going to church, accountability groups, singing praises, book studies, witnessing, giving, serving, and on-and-on.
All good things? Perhaps. But the “good” part of the tree of knowledge was still death. So, all these things can be death? Yep, for sure. Practically all religions have these same “good” things in their “to do lists”. The pharisees were masters of the scriptures and strict religious practices, but they chose their “good” over the Life that was before them, and also hung Life on a cross in order to protect their “good” religiousness.
So could it be wrong to encourage bros “to do” these things, when they’re seeking advice or counsel? Yes, it could be wrong, bcs just doing these good things could actually lead to death.
Jesus said “eat my flesh and drink my blood”, and that “rivers of living water will flow from those that drink of Him”. And that *knowing* (a deeply intimate word) IS eternal life. He also said that many folks who “do” a lot of things “in His name” will hear “away from me, I never *knew* you”.
So if we do all these “good” things, and encourage others to as well, for the sake of amassing spiritual/biblical knowledge and refining our religious practices so as to appear more holy than everyone around us, then we are destined for weeping and gnashing of teeth.
It feels good to be able to tell another brother what he should be doing. But is it really leading to Life to just constantly advise bros to read their bibles and pray? Probably not. If doing those things really worked, then there we be a whole lot more victory in the camp, and way less problems & struggles.
I pray we all learn how to give each other Christ. Christ is the difference. He is life, victory, healing, wisdom, inspiration, transformation, deliverance…everything. Those “good” things can perhaps serve as plates on which to serve/eat Christ, but if He’s not the substance of food on the plate, then the nourishment is actually death instead of life.
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the *preeminence*. [Col 1:18 NKJV]
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Responding to trials

God’s plan for each of us includes premeditated & strategically designed trials. Pits, prisons, enslavement, mistreatment, betrayal, slander, theft, abuse, wilderness seasons, loneliness, service-to-the-ungodly, and on and on. The key is turning from trying to get out of them, and learning to respond to them in faith & the Spirit. In this, we are transformed from depressed whiners and complainers into overcomers.

God’s not raising spoiled brats, but mighty sons to send as ambassadors into the world to take dominion in Jesus’ name and for His glory.

[Jas 1:2-4 NKJV] 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

[1Pe 1:6-7 NKJV] 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, [being] much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

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Problem Solving: wrench or flow?

Problem solving: a wrench or a flow.

Many times, we prefer to reach for a “wrench” when we “need to ‘fix’ something”. The wrench makes us feel in-control, and gain a sense of accomplishment, if it works. Even though the wrench-fix may just be a temporary fix. And wrenches can be good tools for small fixes. But for really big problems, I think we need a flow.

Years ago the Lord gave me a vision of His version fixing big problems. I saw a river that hadn’t seen any rain in a very long time. It was flowing, but quite shallow; and there was a lot of exposed banks. Lodged all in the banks were dead tree trunks, rocks, all kinds of trash & debris; and even some big stuff like chunks of barns and old cars. The amount of junk lodged in the banks was overwhelming. Wrenching each huge thing out one-by-one would be a lifetime endeavor, even with a crew to help.

But then the rains came, and a flash-flood overwhelmed the river. The soil in the banks loosened up, and the debris became less and less stuck, and eventually just washed downstream by the dump-truck load.

So, the lesson to me was when I’m facing big problems, to resist the urge to reach for the wrench, and fast and pray until the big rain-of-His-Spirit

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Rise Up, O Men of God!

1.	Rise up, O men of God! 
	Have done with lesser things. 
	Give heart and mind and soul and strength 
	to serve the King of kings. 

2.	Rise up, O men of God! 
	The kingdom tarries long. 
	Bring in the day of brotherhood 
	and end the night of wrong. 

3.	Rise up, O men of God! 
	The church for you doth wait, 
	her strength unequal to her task; 
	rise up, and make her great! 

4.	Lift high the cross of Christ! 
	Tread where his feet have trod. 
	As brothers of the Son of Man, 
	rise up, O men of God! 

Text: William P. Merrill, 1867-1954 
Music: William H. Walter, 1825-1893 
Tune: FESTAL SONG, Meter: SM

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Jesus is…the Door

  • John 10:7-10 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.  I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
  •  Door – A portal or entrance.  Gate.Door
  • Jesus Christ IS the door ‎of faith, by acceptance of the gospel [Acts 14:27]; the door of “openings” for preaching and teaching the Word of God [1 Cor 16:9, 2 Cor 2:12, Col 4:3, Rev 3:8]; the door of “entrance” into the Kingdom of God [Matt 25:10, Luke 13:24-25]; the door of Christ’s “entrance” into a repentant believer’s heart [Rev 3:20]; the door of the nearness of Christ’s returning [Matt 24:33, Mark 13:29, James 5:9]; the door of “access” to behold visions relative to the purposes of God [Rev 4:1]. 
  • Son or daughter of our Father, do you want something from God?  Do you need something from God?  Then KNOCK! [Luke 11:7, Matt 7:7]  But realize, that the door upon which you knock is not an impersonal, thick piece of wood or iron gate.  The door is a person, who knows you and loves you, and waits joyfully for the impressions of your faith-knuckles on His chest.  Knock and keep on knocking…and the Door will open.  He has promised. 
  • So many in the world are knocking at the door of the Doctor’s office, the banker’s office, the pastor’s office, the therapist’s office, daddy or mommy’s office, spouse’s office, children’s office, a friend’s office, the movie theater, the sports center, and on and on.  Brother or sister, YOU are a doorkeeper in His kingdom.  Boldly proclaim that Jesus IS the door, and teach them to knock on Him!
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Jesus is…Deliverer

  • Romans 11:26 – …The deliverer will come from Zion…
  •  Deliverer – One who draws out for himself.  A rescuer.  One who sets free.  One who saves another from certain peril or doom.
  •  There are numerous examples of David being delivered from destruction due to Saul’s relentless pursuit of him in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Psalms.  But the quintessential example is when Israel was trapped on the shores of the Red Sea.  After 400 years of crying out to God to save them from the cruel slavery building Pharaoh’s monuments to his ego, God sends Moses.  Moses wrestles God’s children away from Pharaoh and begins leading them towards the land of milk and honey by following the pillar of fire by night and cloud by day, but ends up trapped on the banks of the Red Sea.  Pharaoh, in an insane fury, has sent his entire army raging after Israel, who is Deliverersitting like an animal with its leg caught in a trap.  A bloody slaughter is imminent.  But with a glorious display of His delivering power, Jesus parts the Red Sea whereby Israel walks across on dry ground.  Jesus even punctuates the deliverance by having the sea drown the enemy in the same stroke.
  •  Chosen and blessed child of God, it was Jesus who wrote the script for the Red Sea drama; and He is the one who is writing the script for the pressures, captivities, and bondages that you are facing.  All because He wants to display to-you and through-you, and to everyone who is watching your life; His magnificent glory and power.  Are you “stuck” in some way?  Raise your hands and cry out to Jesus “SAVE ME FROM …”, and don’t stop until the waters part.
  •  Has Jesus already delivered you from some insurmountable peril in your life?  Then this is your area of ministry.  Be on the lookout for people who Jesus shepherds across your path who seem to be struggling for freedom.  Let His loving compassion well-up from within you, move towards them with empathy, and boldly testify to what Jesus did for you when He delivered you.  Encourage them to believe Him, and to keep on believing Him until, like the woman with the issue of blood, virtue flows and everything is different…forever.
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A poem on manhood by Hamlin Garland

Do you fear the force of the wind,
The slash of the rain?
Go face them and fight them,
Be savage again.
Go hungry and cold like the wolf,
Go wade like the crane.
The palms of your hands will thicken,
The skin of your four head tan –
You’ll be ragged and swarthy and weary
But – you’ll walk like a man.

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