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THE GOSPEL-CENTERED HOME: TEENS – WHAT HAPPENED TO MY CHILD? Part 2

Trying to figure out a teenager is not really as hard as it seems. As previously posted, they are just like you the parent. Their lack of experience and many times focused teaching makes them susceptible to making foolish decisions. The last 2 items of who are these teens are perhaps the ones that bring the largest amount of fear and frustration to their parents.

5. Teens typically think they are wiser than they really are or in other words, they have a very distorted view of themselves. But, of course, so do I most of the time of myself. Oh, the deceptiveness of sin! (Hebrews 3:13) However with many teens, they tend to lack a real hunger for wisdom and look at what we older adults have as very little practical insight to give to them. I can’t count the number of times in working with teens I was told I just don’t understand. What we as parents and youth workers must do is make wisdom much more appealing to our teens. By using demanding words and tone of voice, confrontations and verbal struggles we easily shift the problems we want to address to ourselves. The teen tends to become defensive and not interested in listening.

6. Believe it or not, teens tend to be more legalistic than their parents. Pushing the limits on rules, they want to know and will test just how far they can go. They become quite the literalists. Ever hear, “I did exactly what you told me to do” to your frustration that they knew what you were intending in a situation? This is a heart issue that needs to be addressed in both their hearts and ours. Legalism as a parent is a form of self-righteousness that denies the saving grace of God and the need that our teens need to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit and their actions need to flow from their being born again.

7. Our teens tend to choose some of their friends without using wisdom. It is impossible to not be influenced by friends. We need to help guide teens in how to choose relationships and how we can step outside the emotional pulls to honest and biblical criteria.

8. Teens are susceptible to sexual temptation. Here the strength of youth, changes in life, the freedoms they experience and the lack of an accurate view outside the home and church all contribute to the potential problem. As a teenager physically awakens, fantasy and lust are common private sins and to help a teen, they must be open for discussion. Are you comfortable with this topic with your teen? Do they really have a biblical view of sex? Do you know where they struggle in this area? Can they critique the world’s view? Do they have a heart for sexual purity? Are they modest?

9. The final point to discuss is that teens tend to be focused on the present. What is not in their scope of view is to delay anything, especially gratification. Right now is the most important moment of life. Galatians 6:7, “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” is not so much in the scope of their day to day thinking. The physical moment tends to be what matters and temporal happiness is the priority. Some of this comes from the saturation of entertainment in our lives where the meaning of things is found in how good it makes me feel. As a result, things like church are boring regardless of how nourishing it is for them.

All of these things that describe a teen does not mean every teenager nor every item. They only are representative of the culture today. For us as parents and workers of teens, it gives us a place to understand and enter their world so we can help shape it to God-centered meaning. More to come….

TRUE FREEDOM BY NEW AFFECTIONS

Whether it is pornography alcohol, drugs, or anything that enslaves you; the only way you will truly be set free is to acquire a new affection. The new affection must be greater than the one that enslaves you. To help understand this, I am riding the shoulders of the Scottish preacher Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) and his sermon “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” Taken from the text 1 John 2:15, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Chalmers first point is “A moralist will be unsuccessful in trying to displace his love of the world by reviewing the ills of the world. Misplaced affections need to be replaced by the far greater power of the affection of the gospel.” He points out that love has two conditions that we are to regard. The first is when the object of love is not in our possession and so it is a desire that we have. The second is when the object of love is on our possession and so it becomes indulgence. When we are under the impulse of the first condition, we are urged on a path or are pursuing an activity for our gratification. It can become consuming and crowds our mind with ambition to acquire it. Often in this pursuit, we can become weary and even acquire a distaste for what we are doing, yet the desire is so strong that if not substituted, the chase continues.

The common way we attempt to deal with a strong desire and the pursuit is to cut it out or simply put – just stop it. Chalmers points out that our heart will rise in resistance. To simply try and stop a pursuit or habit leaves a negative and cheerless vacancy behind it and it will fail.

I will continue this defense that to be set free from the world affections of things such as pornography, new affections must replace it and they must be stronger and greater than the powerful pull of pornography. Point two from Chalmers tomorrow.