Youth MinistryTRAINING YOUTH FOR KINGDOM SERVICE

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and these things shall be added to you.”    (Matthew 6:33)

RATIONALE:                                                                                                                     

In our ongoing efforts to provide useable, relevant and biblical materials for those who choose to visit the Jeremiah Institute, we are pleased to announce the addition of our Youth Section to the site. We frequently hear questions raised about what has gone wrong with society today, what are some causes of the problems, and what can be done to correct them? School shootings, drug busts, rapes, robberies, and people being threatened are daily news stories. We have, as a society, been spending time and money treating the symptoms rather than the causes.

     The youth of today face problems no other generation has faced. The youth of today are bright, inquisitive, daring, and wanting to be involved. The home and church provide a safe and healthy context for equipping these amazing young people with beliefs, skills, and spiritual attitudes to successfully handle the day-to-day challenges of life. We must do more!

     For years I have been involved in working with youth in Future Leaders Camps. I have seen the enthusiasm, commitment and growth in the lives of hundreds of young men. They want to be involved in meaningful activities that contribute to their personal spiritual growth as well as to the mission of the church. This section of the Jeremiah Institute is committed to providing teaching materials that will contribute to the growth of all young people.

     These Scriptures provide the biblical foundation for this effort:

  1. Paul wrote to Timothy: “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned the, and from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14, 15).

  2. King Solomon wrote: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

  3. Paul wrote to fathers: “And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

The youth of today are not only leaders today, they will be the frontline leaders tomorrow. It is essential that we help them develop a solid foundation in God’s word as well as in sound biblical leadership principles. Visit this section often as new materials will be frequently added. And please share this site with others. Together we can do more to equip our youth.

FREE Youth Publications


We live in a society that is continually blurring the lines between what is right and what is wrong. Situation Ethics and Political Correctness affirms that the context of the moment determines if a thing is right or wrong. It champions the attitude “that what may be right for me may not be right for you and visa-versa. This attitude and approach to ethics and morality has been around for a long time: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). Men tend to make and obey their own rules of behavior.

     Parents are faced with the ongoing challenge of teaching their children how to discern between what is right and wrong. Society is sending a contradictory message. Likewise, sooner or later every preacher, elder, teacher, leader, etc. will be faced with this challenging inquiry related to others as well as related to self: What is right and what is wrong? In many instances when the answer is given, the person asking the question will not accept it. They cast the answer aside by saying, “Oh well, that’s just your opinion; and after all my opinion is just as good as yours.” A popular reply is, “Don’t judge me or tell me what to do!” Ironically, “We are both right.”

     King Solomon warned about letting your personal opinions be your guide in ethics and morality: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Therefore, the King warned not to do that which is right in our eyes (Proverbs 21:2). Jesus taught that ONLY knowing the truth will set a person free (John 8:32, 36). Lies never free us!

The Challenge of Ethics

Where do ethics originate? As a general observation ethics evolve from a person, group or society applying philosophical and theological beliefs—or assumptions—to the question of what’s right or wrong. Basically there are two views of ethics: The worldview and the Christian (biblical) view. In the context of a larger discussion, relative to who determines what is right or wrong, there are several possibilities presented by mankind that are raised in question form:

  1. Do men determine through laws they create what is right or wrong?

  2. Does a tribe, group, or culture determine what is right or wrong?

  3. Does a community or neighborhood determine what is right or wrong?

  4. Does a person’s “gut feeling”, hunch, or instinct determine right or wrong?

  5. Does a court or tribunal determine what is right or wrong?

  6. Do situational and contextual conditions dictate what is right or wrong?

  7. Does a Supreme Being—the God of the Bible—determine what is right or wrong?

   A study of history in the context of the ethical question: What is right and wrong? provide some answers. There are numerous examples of how right and wrong are viewed. An article in Reasoning with the Scriptures addressed this point: “In Mexico, before Cortez (1485-1587) it was morally acceptable to have child sacrifices. In the South before the Civil War, slavery was acceptable. Why did morality change? In Hitler’s Germany, killing the Jews was a noble act! Did it become wrong only because Germany lost the war? If Germany had won World War II, would the killers have been heroes instead of villains? (truthnet.org/God-and-reason/1-Right-Wrong/Who-determines). This is a critical and thorny issue, which must be addressed.

     In the midst of decaying, sinful, and arbitrary ethics, the Christian affirms a fixed, transcendent moral order that determines the answer to what is right or wrong. The answer is based on the Divine, impeccable character of God, declared in His Divine revelation in the Holy Bible, nature and man’s ability to “know the truth.” The moral and ethical right and wrong issues are solved by the nature of God as reflected in His essence and character: His holiness, righteousness, love, truthfulness, justice, mercy, forgiveness, patience, grace, goodness, and much, much more. Since God’s nature and being is unchanging, so are his moral and ethical demands unchanging.

How to Biblically Determine what is Right or Wrong

God’s word is the perfect manual—His ethics and morality guide—for finding answers relative to the question: How do I determine what is right or wrong? His word is inspired and provides us with “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:3). This is why we “buy the truth and sell it not” (Proverbs 23:23).

     The Bible contains instructions on what is right or wrong by explicit commands: The Ten Commandments. It teaches by specific examples (cf. 1 Timothy 4:12). And it teaches by principles from God’s word that creates guidelines for determining what is right or wrong. For Christians who desire to know the answer relative to a thing being right or wrong, the following principles from God’s word are presented as guidelines. Study the following prayerfully and carefully.

     Take a few minutes and think about the question you are in doubt about or wondering about, and write it down, and thoughtfully and prayerfully apply one-by-one the following principles from God’s word. You must be open and honest with yourself. ASK YOURSELF:

  1. Am I commanded not to do it? (James 4:17).

  2. Can I do it for the glory of God? (Ephesians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 10:31).

  3. Am I imitating God when I do it? (Ephesians 5:1).

  4. Can I do it in the name of the Lord? (Colossians 3:17).

  5. Is it of the world? (1 John 2:15-17; 5:19).

  6. Would Jesus do it or approve it? (1 Peter 2:21).

  7. Does it have the “appearance” of evil? (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

  8. Does it express a Christ-like attitude? (Philippians 2:4-6).

  9. Is it a spiritual weight? (Hebrews 12:1).

  10. Can I do it when I remember the Holy Spirit dwells in me? (Romans 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20).

  11. Is it an example of a faithful believer? (1 Timothy 4:12).

  12. Is it, or would it be, a stumbling block to others? (1 Corinthians 8:9; Romans 14:13, 21).

  13. Would you want your children, parents, spouse, etc. doing it? (Ephesians 6:4; Prov.22:6).

  14. Can you pray faithfully and continually about it? (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

  15. Is there any doubt in your mind about it? (Romans 14:23).

  16. Will it make you a better person and Christian?? (2 Peter 1:5-8).

  17. Will it encourage others to obey the Gospel? (Mark 16:15, 16; Mark 8:36-38).

  18. Would you like for a video to be made of the behavior?

  19. Is Satan doing it and would he approve it? (1 Peter 5:8).

  20. Would you like to be doing it when Jesus returns? (1 Thessalonians 5:2; Revelation 2:10).

  21. If you were in heaven would you do it? (John 14:1-6; Revelation 22:14, 15).

  22. Are you walking in the light when you do it? (1 John 5:17).

  23. Would you have to repent if you did it? (Luke 13:3, 5).

  24. Where does the Bible have an approved example of the behavior? (John 8:32).

  25. Does it violate your conscience? (John 8:9; Acts 24:16; 1 Peter 3:16, 21).

  26. Would you do it in the presence of Jesus? God? Holy Spirit? Church?

After applying these principles to your question, relative to the right or wrong of something you are wondering about, according to the Bible—using the above 26 principles—is it right or wrong? Be honest with yourself. What additional biblical principles would you add to this list?

 


     How will you intentionally use this lesson in determining if a thing is right or wrong? Be specific in your answers:

 


NOTE:

For a more complete study of this subject read my book, Christians, Wake Up! ( www.publishingdesigns.com 256-533-4301).


\hree birds are perched on a limb. Two decide to fly off. How many are left? All three! How is that? A decision without action is no more than a statement or a wish.

     From the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep, we are confronted with a multitude of decisions. How we choose and activate these decisions have an amazing impact on every area of our lives. We can’t avoid decisions. A decision not to make a decision is a decision not to do anything, which is a decision. To say, “I can’t decide,” is a decision.

     What’s the best decision you have ever made?

     What’s the worst decision you have ever made?

     Do you know who made the first decision recorded in history? Do you know the context of that decision? If you guessed it was Eve, you are right. The story is very familiar. God created a beautiful garden—the Garden of Eden—and placed man in it to work, live and enjoy the perfect and good life.

     God could have given them “1001” laws to obey—“dos and don’ts.” But He chose to give them one basic “thou shall not” command. Wow! What a deal. Adam and Eve could have it all, except one tree: “And the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you SHALL NOT EAT, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Genesis 2:15-17). A simple and easy to understand command.

     Can you imagine standing in front of a candy counter with 100 pieces of the best candy in the world? The owner tells you can have 99 pieces of candy but the one back in the corner, the 100th, is reserved—you can’t have it. What would your response be? Would you want the one piece you couldn’t have? Well as you know, that’s what our greatest grandmother, Eve, did.

     Satan confronted her with a choice—a decision. She could obey God and stay in the garden as Adam’s helper or she could choose to disobey God and obey Satan’s lie that she would become a god (Genesis 3:1-6). As we already know she made the wrong decision (Genesis 3:7-24). As a result of her decision sin and death entered the world, and was passed down to all mankind; and Adam and Even was driven out of Paradise. The power of ONE DECISION! Amazing.

The Importance of Decision Making

I doubt that Adam and Eve had any idea of the implication their decision would have on all their ancestors in the human race. One immediate consequence was one of their sons killed his brother. It touches everyone—“All have sinned”—(Romans 3:23; 6:23).

     We need to be continually aware of the implications, as well as the possible consequences, of how decisions have an impact on our lives as well as on the lives of others. “No man is an island.” Here are some basic reminders related to the importance of decisions:

  1. There is a great possibility that every decision you make will affect, in one way or another, many other people. Therefore, we need to be aware of the influence we have on others, both in and out of the church.

  2. When a decision is made it demonstrates what we value, what our morals and ethics are, as well as the level of trust that may be placed in us. We are our decisions.

  3. When we make a decision we demonstrate what is important in our lives. What we are—our decisions—speak more loudly than what we say. “What you are speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what you are saying.” An amazing truth.

  4. When we made a decision it is an example to those who know us, follow us, and are judging our approach to life. It is the old “follow the leader” game that never ends.

  5. A decision is proof that we desire to move forward—to make a change by taking a chance—moving from status quo to the winner’s circle.

  6. A decision is unavoidable, that is, if we desire to get ahead in life. We can’t simply stay at indecision nor I’ll make the move tomorrow. Procrastination is a killer of progress.

  7. A decision means that things will not be like they were before. It will be a new day, a new way, and new challenges and opportunities.

  8. The importance of decisions is seen in the fact that God created us with the ability and freedom to make decisions. Therefore, we must make them wisely (cf. Joshua 24:15). Model for Making Decision

How do you make your decisions? What process do you use, if any?

     There are numerous programs, suggestions and models for making great decisions. Here is my personal one that I have found to be practical but powerful. It is also a powerful tool for personal motivation.

AWARENESS:

     It is difficult, if not impossible, to do something you are not aware of. It’s like you can’t be somewhere you haven’t gone. Let’s say the local grocery store needs a bag boy, pays good bucks, and will work around your school schedule. If you are not aware of the need you can’t respond to it. Then one day you see the ad in the store window. You go inside and ask to speak to the manager. The process of awareness has begun.

UNDERSTANDING:

   You have had no experience in bagging groceries. In fact, this will be your first job. You ask questions, listen carefully, and watch a video the manager shares. You now understand the big picture relative to what will be involved in working as a bag boy. Understanding what is required: duties, dress, hours, breaks, etc. contributes to whether you want the job or not.

BELIEVE:

     You have moved to the third step in self-motivation and making a decisions. You have listened carefully, asked meaningful questions, and understood the video. You believe you can do the job, as well as believe the manager will be a great boss. There is security in believing.

CARE:

     In this step you have to do some soul-searching. How much do you care about what you have heard? How much do you really care about working for the store? How much do you care about being the best bag boy possible? How much do you care about earning money for work?

ACCEPTANCE:

     You have moved through the (1) awareness step, (2) understanding step, (3) believing step, (4) caring step, and now you are ready to accept the job. You have done the basic work relative to making the decision. You have exemplified the basic steps in making a decision.

CHANGE:

Accepting the job requires that you develop a new schedule. Your school hours are set, but you will have to adjust your study and extra-curricular activities to fit your new daily work schedule

on the new job at the grocery store. Change is a major adjustment in life but going through this, or a similar process, will make it smoother.

ADJUSTMENTS:

     It is rare that after making an activated decision that you don’t have to make a few, or a number, of adjustments. You take time to take stock and honestly evaluate your personal feelings after a few days, week, or months on the job. What, if anything, do you need to adjust? Why?

     Notice how this process relates to every area of life. It is the model most successful salespersons use, knowingly or unknowingly. Let’s take evangelism—sharing the Gospel with a friend:

     First, you must create an awareness by helping the prospect see that he or she is not saved—separated from Go—lost. This will take time to share the Scriptures.

     Second, the lost person must understand what being lost means, as well as what it means to have Christ as the only Savior.

     Third, the prospect must believe before he or she can go on in the process of becoming a Christian. Again, this will take time, patients, and sharing the truth.

     Fourth, this is a critical point. The lost person must care about his or her eternal destiny: heaven or hell. They must care about the salvation of their souls and serving God.

     Fifth, acceptance is the place you have prayed and work to become a reality. The prospect has accept the truth, believing Jesus Christ is the Son of God and desires to be baptized into Christ.

     Sixth, the lost person “Puts on Christ” (Galatians 3:27), he takes the steps of faith that change his destiny in time and eternity.

     Seventh, the saved person now begins a life of adjustment as he works on adding the “Fruit of the Spirit” to his new lifestyle. He worships God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23, 24).

Hindrances to Making Decisions

“And Elijah came to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people answered him not a word” (1 Kings 18:21). This is a classic case of people refusing to make a decision. One man, Elijah, stepped forward championing God’s cause. Numerous things hinder activated decisions.

     The prophet Joel addressed the attitude of indecision with these words: “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14). Look around! Everywhere you look there are multitudes “in the valley of decision”—knowing they need to make a decision but failing to do so. Even some Christians are in this group. Why? Here are some reasons why persons fail to make decisions:

  1. They don’t know how to make decisions. They have never been trained in the art and skill of making decisions. This is a must for every Christian.

  2. They are afraid to make a mistake. They freeze in their tracks with the fear of making a mistake or being wrong, which will lead to rejection and ridicule.

  3. They are lazy or procrastinate relative to taking the time and energy needed to make effective decisions. It’s the “I’ll get-around-to-it” maybe tomorrow.

  4. They are not willing to make the sacrifice or change that is required if they make the decision. They drift in their comfort zone.

  5. They are reluctant or ashamed to ask for help or seek counsel relative to a decision; even small ones are viewed as high mountains they must climb alone or not at all.

  6. They do not fully understand that decision making is the royal road to success in every area of life. They think of decision making as being the territory of business, etc.

  7. They do not understand what God’s word says about making decisions. It is a thread that runs from Genesis to Revelation. “Choose you this day” (Joshua 24:15).

What are some major decisions you need to make and act upon them? How will you intentionally use this lesson in making better decisions?

Most of us have heard this statement, “Don’t talk to yourself.” It is usually addressed to a person, or about a person, who may be “mumbling” to himself in audible words. Mental health experts say this may or may not be a sign of a mental issue, even schizophrenia or some other form of abnormal psychology such as a duel personality disorder.

     Let me assure you that the discussion in this lesson is not about audible mumbling and persons who walk the streets mumbling incoherent words and phrases. Neither is about persons who claim their minds are being invaded by alien voices.

     This lesson is about the amazing ability God has created us with—the continual ability while awake to practice what psychologists call SELF-TALK. You are using this ability right now. As you read these words you are “saying them in your mind.”

     We understand that we are always saying things to others. But what do we say to ourselves? When offered an opportunity have you ever said to yourself:

“I can’t do that.” [  ] Yes [  ] No

“I will fail.”[  ] Yes [  ] No

“I’m dumb.” [  ] Yes [  ] No

“I will make a fool of myself.” [  ] Yes [  ] No

     We let what others say not only enter our ears but get inside our heads. We (1) hear words, (2) let them continue to play in our minds, (3) think about them, (4) debate whether we believe or disbelieve them, (5) add our words to their words, (6) store them in our mental computer, (7) reinforce them, (8) replay them over and other and add to them continually, and (9) a new habit is formed. Yes, there are times when we delete or erase words without storing them. In reality however, they may still fall into our subconscious and pop-up; challenging us relative to how to now deal with the words or new habits.

The Bible and Self-Talk

As one might expect, there are some persons, even Christians, who want to argue about the use of the term SELF-TALK. They base it on their belief that it is nothing more than a “Pop-Psychology” technique used by the self-help gurus to promote books and seminars. Ironically those who take this position practice self-talk in their denial of self-talk. I assume they are not asleep or in an unconscious state.

     It’s time to let the Bible speak on this question: Does the Bible confirm that mankind practices self-talk? Do human beings carryon inner-cranium self-talk, question and answer dialogues, and make plans? I affirm YES. Yes based on the following Scriptures:

  1. Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Stop for a moment and think about how thinking about these words operate in your mind. You use words. You use mental pictures. You ask yourself questions: What does this mean?” Thoughts are seed that when planted produce fruit (cf. Jeremiah 6:19).

  2. Luke 12:16-19: “Then He spoke a parable to them, saying, ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he THOUGHT WITHIN HIMSELF, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ SO HE SAID, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build bigger barns, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I WIIL SAY TO MY SOUL, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease, drink, and be merry.’” This man carried on a monologue with himself relative to what he was planning to do. But he was interrupted before he could carry out his plan: “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you provided?’” (Luke 12:20). Self-talk always precedes action.

  3. Isaiah 14:4, 12, 13-14: Jeremiah is told to speak a parable about the treachery, arrogance, and doom of the king of Babylon (14:4). Then after describing the king’s terrible and sinful state, God pronounces his doom (14:9-12). Then we read in verses 13 through 14, what the king, who is identified as Lucifer (literally ‘Day Star’, 14:12), had said in his heart (i.e. self-talk): “For you have SAID IN YOUR HEART: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” All plans begin in the thoughts of man. Jesus affirmed this in Mark 7:20-23.

  4. Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” While I know this is talking about the physical member in our mouths, there is a principle of application to the “mental tongue” in our heads.

  5. Ecclesiastes 10:20: “Do not curse the king, even in your THOUGHT; do not curse the rich, even in your bedroom; for a bird of the air may carry your voice, and a bird in fight may tell the matter.” Solomon wrote that we may curse the king in our thoughts, which obviously refers to the self-talk taking place in our heads. You may cruse or bless a person in your head—self-talk is how it happens.

  6. Psalm 53:1: “The fool has SAID IN HIS HEART, ‘There is not God.’ They are corrupt. And have done abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.” The first step toward atheism takes place with self-talk in a person heart: his will, intellect, emotions, and beliefs. Therefore, a good place to begin a discussion with an atheist is to ask, “When did you first tell yourself there is no God?”

  7. Acts 26:8-11: “Why should it be THOUGHT incredible by you that God raises the dead? Indeed, I myself THOUGHT I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (26:8). In his message before king Agrippa, the apostle Paul rehearsed his life and behavior toward Christians before becoming one himself. His THOUGHTs—self-talk—caused him to do terrible things to believers in Christ: “This I did also in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities” (26:10, 11).

     There are numerous other Scriptures that affirm the truth that we talk to ourselves in our thoughts. This is called, psychologically, self-talk. Some days I am the best conversation with myself that I have all day. How about you?

Suggestions for Programming Positive, Spiritual, and Biblical Self-Talk

We’ve all heard the phrase: GI-GO, which is a computer related term referring to “garbage in, garbage out.” The computer only receives what we put in and only gives it back to us. In a metaphorical sense the human mind is like a computer. (1) there is a key board—our five senses through which we put millions of pieces of data; (2) there is a storage place where it stays until we remove it—this is our subconscious mind—which doesn’t know the difference between a real or imagined experience; (3) these produce some of the programs that activate our output (behavior), as we (4) bring them up to the monitor of our present state of mind.

     We input into your conscience and subconscious minds what (1) we see, (2) taste, (3) hear, (4) say, and (5) feel though our five-senses. These create our thinking patterns which form our attitudes; thus a “sixth sense” is created called judgment, instinct, or hunch.

     Just as we can secure various software packages to program our physical computers, God has given us a program package that fits all minds. It is the Holy Bible. It contains everything we need that “pertains to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). The Scriptures are inspired by God and are able to make us wise unto salvation (cf. 2 Timothy 3:10-17). The secret is to program our minds the way God intends; to use His word, not human wisdom. The Psalmist wrote, “Thy word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).

SUGGESTED SELF-TALK:

     When you learn how to recognize your negative self-talk, you will then be able to reject it. This takes effort. You must continually monitor your self-talk, identifying whether it is negative, positive or biblical. The basic key to developing and using new self-talk scripts is learning how to state them. Here are some DON’TS:

  1. Never say, “I will try” to_______________ (This is an escape hatch for failure).

  2. Never say, “I am going” to_____________ (This is transferring to a nebulous future).

  3. Never say, “I always fail” to_____________ (This is a self-fulling prophecy).

  4. Never say, “I’m no good at”_____________ (Another escape hatch for failure).

  5. Never say, “I wish__________would happen” (It doesn’t activate positive possibilities).

  6. Never say, “Maybe I can do”_____________(This generates self-doubt).

  7. Never say, “It’s too difficult to do”___________(This is putting on the brakes)

     Here are some positive DO’s:

  1. Always state the action in the present tense:

      • “I am doing a great job in learning how to handle the public address system.
      • “I am doing all things through Christ Who is giving me strength.”
      • “Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.”
      • “I am loved by God.”
      • “I am happy right now.”
      • “I am making positive progress.”
      • “Right now I am choosing the right approach.”
  2. A great way to imprint the positive self-talk affirmations is to pick one or two each day and repeat them in sets of seven, three to five times each day. Your computer mind will program them and they’ll become contributors to positive attitudes, beliefs, and behavior.

  3. Remember God has given us a positive thinking agenda we can program our inner voice with, and in time it will become a positive and habitual way of thinking—self-talking—with ourselves. Read Philippians 4:6-10—“Think on these things.”

  4. The outer world is constantly trying to send you messages to program into your mind and which will become an inner voice. You can reject it. You can choose the self-talk you engage in as well as obey. Replace the negative with the positive—God’s word.

     How will you intentionally use this lesson to improve your self-talk?

Ever notice how a child has a natural inborn gift, desire and ability to ask questions? They start off slow and gradually increase to the point where some parents, in frustration say:

  • I’m not going to tell you anymore to stop bugging me with questions.

  • Please, you’re driving me nuts with all your questions. Give it a rest.

  • Don’t you ever get tired of asking questions? Please stop for a while.

  • Please stop with the dumb questions.

In time most children will slow down asking questions, withdraw and keep them inside. When they go to school, even Bible school, they will be reluctant to ask questions. In college and in social events, etc. questions will not be asked. Failing to ask questions creates a reluctance to answer questions.

     In the August 2012 issues of Parent magazine, this list of the 9 Most Common Questions Kids Ask was published:

  1. Why aren’t there anymore Dinosaurs?

  2. Why are there so many language in the world?

  3. Why don’t we want others to see our private parts?

  4. Why is that man homeless?

  5. Why do people get sick?

  6. Whey do grown-ups sometimes cry when they are happy?

  7. Why can’t I stay up as late as you do?

  8. Why do the kinds next do have more toys than we do?

  9. Why do I have to invite that girl to my party?

     In an article in edutopia, July 8, 2014, Maurice Elias, professor of psychology, Rutgers Social-Emotional Lab, in an article titled The Importance of Asking Questions to Promote Higher-Order Competencies, made this observation: “Irving Sigel devoted his life to the importance of asking questions. He believed, correctly, that the brain responds to questions in ways that we now describe as social, emotional, and cognitive development. Questions create the challenges that make us learn.”

     FACT: All education is tied to asking and answering questions. Notice how you are continually asking yourself, and others, questions.

     The Greek philosopher Socrates developed a method (Socratic debate) based on asking questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions.

The Power of WHY Questions

Webster defines WHY (adv.) as: “Pertaining to motive; with what purpose, etc. Why do people fail? Why do people succeed? Why do people win? WHY is an interrogative tool used to explore the cause-and-effect relationship underlying a particular problem or issue. The cause, as well as the solution, is discovered by repeating the question WHY?

     Notice this mixture of WHY questions?

In recent years a new crime wave has blown across the USA. It has become almost a regular news feature on most evening news programs. It is home invasions. A typical family is at home enjoying the comfort and safety of their four walls, when the doorbell rings. When a family goes to the door and opens it, a criminal or maybe a gang pushes their way into the house. The robbers’ wave guns or knives, shout threats and curse words at family members. Some only want money and other valuables; some molest and rape; some hold hostages, and some even kill.

     There is a new wave of home protection devices on the market. Police departments are providing guidelines for protecting your home from invasion. Alarms, guard dogs, and firearms are being acquired for protection. Home invasion is a major concern in the USA today.

     Want to hear something that’s ironic? Approximately 75 years ago a very subtle home invasion started to occur. At first it was a big box with a small screen called television. Few homes could afford it. The first programs were old cowboy movies, puppet shows, wrestling, variety shows, Super Circus, and news reporting. Programming ended, if not before, at midnight.

     Moving forward to today in the 21st century, there is not just one television in a home but two, three, four, and more; depending on how many bedrooms in the house. There is even one in the den, living room, kitchen, laundry room, and garage of many homes. Some screens are now as big as the old theater screens.

     As television programming started to expand in the 50s and 60s with three major networks: ABC, CBS, and NBC, the choices became greater. There wasn’t any vulgar language. Programs like Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver, and The Honeymooners started to plant seeds of how others were living. The downward spiral has continued until now we are trying to Keep up with the Kardashians, as the father has “transgendered into a female.”

     You can buy a TV now for about the price of a good pair of sneakers. You can with the advent of cable watch anything from A to Z. You no longer have to go to the back alley or to the shady part of town to visit a porno movie. They are now watchable at home. In the middle of what was billed as a suitable movie for the family, curse words occur and sexual scenes are visible. When Junior or Susie are sent to their rooms, a punishment called isolation from the family, they have their TV to watch. And computer, IPhone, etc. What terrible punishment.

     As a whole, television has not moral interest in your home and family. Even many of the so-called religious programs are after your money. Making money is the goal. The carnal and sinful content continues to escalate. It impacts and brain washes us. Listen to our remarks: “We must stay at home and finish the game; church can wait.” “I am so interested in this movie; it’ll be over in several minutes. I’ll do my homework later.” Television makes our choices for us.

     Here is a wakeup call. By the time the average person in the USA is sixty-five years old, he or she will have spent 8 years watching TV—or one-eighth of their life. Just imagine what new skills they could have developed, or project they could have completed, or other expertise and knowledge they could have acquired during those wasted years mindlessly watching television in a fog.

July 20, 1969 was a historical day for the USA and the world. On this date Apollo 11 landed on the moon and Commander Neal Armstrong stepped his foot on the surface of the moon. What were the contributing factors that make this “impossible dream” possible? Yes, it was the amazing work of NASA, but the beginning point was the setting of a specific goal. Back on May 21, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced to a joint session of congress that before the end of the decade America would put a man on the moon. The goal was achieved!

     When he was 15 years old, John Goddard in 1940 made a list of 127 goals for his life. When he died at the age of 88, the man who was the original “Indiana Jones”, had reached 120 of his goals. Many of his exploits are documented in his book The Survivor. Goals make you go for the Gold.

     It is said that the average American, whoever he or she is, doesn’t have a set of clearly defined goals they are working on. It has been said that ninety percent of people resent and resist setting specific goals. Companies spend millions of dollars annually on goal setting training with little or no results.

     Teaching and modeling goal setting to youth is giving them a foundation for achievements in life. It contributes to the “I can do all things through Christ” attitude.

     Goal setting is biblical. God set a goal before the foundation of the world to save mankind in His Son (Matthew 1:21; Ephesians 1:3-7). He set a goal to make Abraham the father of a great nation (Genesis 12). God set a goal of establishing His Kingdom in the last days (Daniel 2:44; Isaiah 2:2-4; Hebrews 1:1). Jesus had a goal of going from town to town preaching (Mark 1:13).

When I was a boy we used to play a game called “follow the leader.” The object was that whatever the leader did, in word or action, followers had to duplicate it. If he whistled, follower had to whistle; if he hopped on one foot, follower had to hop on one foot; if he jumped over a hedge, followers had to jump over a hedge, etc. While that was an innocent and fun game, there is a form of it being played today by youth called, PEER PRESSURE.

     I remember in school, my second grade teacher would use the phrase, “monkey see, monkey do” to correct acting-out behavior. The phrase, which I didn’t fully understand at the time, other than it referred to being a “copycat”, of someone else’s behavior without really knowing why. It implies the act of mimicry, usually with little or no concern about the consequences. The youth of today are under tremendous pressure by their peers to be copycats. Regardless of consequences.

     Youth whose friends use vulgar language, smoke, drink alcohol, take drugs, view pornography, drive recklessly, and engage in sexual activities, are more likely to engage in such behaviors themselves. On the other side of the coin, youth whose friends have high moral and ethical values; aspire to high educational goals; engage in healthy behaviors, etc. tend to behave in that way, too. It’s the positive effect of “monkey see, monkey do”—follow the leader.

God’s Admonitions

There are numerous Scriptures that admonish Christians, including youth, to be on guard relative to the influence—peer pressure—exercised by others on us.

  1. “You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. You shall not FOLLOW A CROWD to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice” (Exodus 23:1, 2).

  2. “Do not be deceived: ‘EVIL COMPANY corrupts good habits.’ Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:33, 34).

  3. “And do not be CONFORMED TO THE WORLD, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

  4. “Let no one despise your youth, but be an EXAMPLE to the believers (1) in word, (2) in conduct, (3) in love, (4) in spirit, (5) in faith, (6) in purity … Take heed to yourself …” (1 Timothy 4:12, 16).

  5. “For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lust of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is OVERCOME, by him also he is brought in BONDAGE” (2 Peter 2:18, 19).

God has made in clear in His word that we must guard our choices of influences we allow to come into our minds, bodies and souls. We must teach our youth this truth.

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