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How to Stay Christian in High School

(Paperback - Jun 2004)
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Overview

We know full well the pressures and stress that high school students experience today. As if it weren't hard enough to try to pass A.P. English, make the varsity football team, and stay out of trouble, students are constantly hearing about how they need to be a "good Christian." It's not easy. Being a Christian might be tough, but it's worth it. Now updated for the next generation of teenagers going through high school, this bestselling resource teaches teens how to handle the temptations and pressures they face every day. Through reading about teenagers in the Bible who also faced huge issues in their lives, teens will be encouraged to make a difference in their world today. "How to Stay Christian in High School" will help teen readers grapple with their faith and make it real for whatever circumstance they face.

Details

  • SKU: 9781576834244
  • SKU10: 1576834247
  • Title: How to Stay Christian in High School
  • Series: Experiencing God
  • Qty Remaining Online: 10
  • Publisher: Navpress Publishing Group
  • Date Published: Jun 2004
  • Pages: 128
  • Age Range: 12 - UP
  • Grade Level: 7th Grade thru Up
  • Weight lbs: 0.30
  • Dimensions: 8.20" L x 5.50" W x 0.40" H
  • Features: Index, Bibliography
  • Themes: Theometrics | Evangelical; Topical | Adolescence/Coming of Age;
  • Category: YOUTH
  • Subject: Religious - Christian - Social Issues
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Chapter Excerpt


Chapter One

"I AM" IN CHRIST

"It sounds like this is all about you and not about God, Drew."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you're concentrating so hard on doing the right things that your attention is out of focus."

"You mean I shouldn't do anything about my temptations?" Drew asked.

"No, all I'm saying is: Focus on Him, not on the problems."

I have two teenage daughters. Almost every day, as they were growing up, I would tell them certain things that I never wanted them to forget. When they went to bed at night, when they left to go to school each day, when they went away for the weekend, I would always say: "Remember whose you are."

One day a friend overheard me. He said, "Don't you mean rememberwho you are?"

"No," I replied. "I know that they will have to learn about who they are. But I want them to know whose they are-that they belong to God and to me."

When a person trusts Christ for salvation, the Bible says many things happen to that person besides receiving eternal life. One of those things is becoming part of God's family. If you thought that all people who are created are all God's children, you were wrong. They are all God's creation, but not necessarily His children. Think about it. John 1:12-13 says, "to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." Paul kind of says the same thing in Galatians 3:26, stating that we are "sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus."

Only the person who trusts in Jesus is a child of God. The apostle Paul refers to it as being in Christ. Being God's child brings great responsibilities but it also provides great privileges. Most of the time we hear only about the responsibilities, and these often come with a list of things we have to do because we wear Christ's name. Now don't get this wrong; those responsibilities are important, and we'll talk about them later in this chapter. But if we hear only about the responsibilities, we can become discouraged.

There are privileges too. When I told my daughters to remember whose they were, I wasn't just reminding them to watch their behavior. I was also encouraging them to enjoy their family life.

So now that you're clear about whose you are, are you ready to get more specific about your own privileges and responsibilities? Let's jump in by looking at three implications of being in Christ. The first two focus on the privileges, and the third one focuses on the responsibility. I've come up with three words to help you remember: Ownership, Sonship, and Partnership.

WHOSE I AM IMPLIES OWNERSHIP

How well I remember the day when each of my daughters was born! Those two days are riveted into my memory forever. Years later, I recall thinking, These two precious, wonderful, beautiful girls . belong to me!

The more I thought about it, the more profound the idea became. I started to think that someday they would get married and change their names. But that didn't make them any less mine. They have my DNA. My genetic code is written through them, and no matter what, they would always belong to me. They could do nothing to change that.

That's exactly what it's like when you belong to God. Ownership means you belong to Him forever. Stop and think about that for a minute. If you are a Christian you belong to the God of the universe, the God who just speaks and things suddenly exist, who holds all things in the palm of His hand. He's the almighty, all-knowing, all-being God. He owns you. How cool is that?

Here's how it works. At one point, sin owned you, because you were born in sin. The book of Romans tells us that because of Adam and Eve's sin, a sinful nature was passed on from generation to generation. Carefully study the verses below to see how this generational problem unfolded . and then was solved through Christ.

You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we're in-first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn't sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it.

Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man's sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God's gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There's no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man's wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?

Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right. (Romans 5:12-19, MSG)

As you can see, along with the sin nature came death, making you dead . in sin. That means you were in sin-dead (owned by sin). The only solution to becoming alive is to be in Christ. Christ has to become your owner.

So He bought you: "You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). What a great price was paid to buy you-the blood of Christ! Consequently, this means you are incredibly valued by God. He thinks that you are so valuable that He bought you by dying for you. Ownership means you are highly treasured-esteemed, cherished, beloved-by God.

So many times I run into Christian high school students who think they are worthless. Satan wants you to believe that lie. You are not worthless; Jesus Christ bought you, and He paid the highest price He could to own you. You may not be worthy of that price, but you certainly are far from worthless.

Being bought and owned by Christ is what theologians call the act of redemption. Redemption doesn't just mean you were purchased. It also implies that you were bought and then remade, new and improved. When you are in Christ, you are continuously made into a brand-new person. The old things, the old attitudes, habits, and behaviors of your sinful nature, keep on passing away or dying out. That new person God is making you into keeps on becoming new, stronger, more dominant. As Paul put it: "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17). And the new keeps coming! I know this is a hard concept to grasp, but think of it like this. There is never an old; when God redeems, He only keeps making you new. You are not the same person you were a second ago because that person was changed into a new person.

God also reminds you that He is the one doing all the work, not you. Because He owns you, He does the work of perfecting you and maturing you. All of this reminds me of a conversation I once had with a guy named Drew.

Drew was a typical high school student who believed that God had saved him, but that he (Drew) had to work hard to prove that he was saved. Every time he messed up, he would get discouraged. One day I confronted Drew about his thinking patterns.

"You know, it sounds like this is all about you and not about God, Drew."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, it sounds as if you're concentrating so hard on doing the right things that your attention is not on the God who really is in control of your life. You are trusting in your own power to overcome some problem instead of trusting in the Lord to make you new. You're focusing more on the problems and on changing rather than on the God who can control the problems and is already changing you."

"Does that mean that I just shouldn't do anything about my temptations?" Drew asked.

"No, it means remembering that God started a great work in you and that He will complete that great work like Philippians 1:6 says. He started the work and He completes it. All I'm saying is: Focus on Him, not on the problems."

God owns you and values you. And because He owns you, He is making you new all the time. What a relief, right?

WHOSE I AM IMPLIES SONSHIP

One day an important man came to Jesus. He didn't want anyone to see him because he was a religious leader and teacher. He was expected to have all the answers about the spiritual life. So he came at night, when there were no crowds around Jesus, to find out: Is there a guaranteed way that I can be a part of the kingdom of God?

Jesus answered Nicodemus's question by telling him that he needed to be born again. Well, you can imagine a grown man's reaction to that! Nicodemus had never heard such a thing before. He never read about rebirthing in any of the sacred writings. None of the prophets ever mentioned it, and Moses never wrote about it in the Law. What did Jesus mean?

Nicodemus truly wanted to be part of the kingdom of God; he didn't get it when Jesus started to talk about being a part of the family of God. But Jesus was telling Nicodemus that, as a family member, you're already in the kingdom. He explained to Nicodemus that he needed to be born spiritually into God's family. (You can read this entire story in John 3.)

Jesus talked about something the religious group had never heard. He was introducing them, and us, to the fact that we get the distinct privilege of becoming God's children. That's sonship. That carries a lot of weight.

The apostles John and Paul help us understand this more clearly. They knew what it was to be a part of God's family. John says that because we are called the sons of God this shows that God is pouring His great love on us (see 1 John 3:1). It's a love that can never separate us from God, according to Paul:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

"For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

Think about it! Because you have sonship in God's family, He loves you with a great love from which you can never be separated. That love is so enormous that you can't even wrap your mind around it. It is limitless; it never has any conditions; it can never be changed, affected, or taken away. This means nothing you can do will ever even dent or put a ripple in God's love for you. Fill in the blanks:

But what if I did ________________________________? But what if I said ________________________________? But what if I thought ____________________________? But what if I went ______________________________? But what if I tried ______________________________? But what if I __________________________________?

No matter what you put in those blanks . God would still love you.

On the other hand, Satan wants you to think that you can screw things up when it comes to God's love for you. He wants you to believe that God will love you less if you mess up. That's not true. In the Romans 8 passage that you just read, Paul supplies a list of categories that includes just about everything bad that you can think of (plus, he adds anything that you can't think of that would be created), and he says that because of your sonship, none of these things can separate you from God's love. He will never not love you; you're His kid. That also means He will never love someone else more than He loves you.

The other side of Satan's lie is that, while God will love you, He will love others more than you. While my wife was pregnant with our second baby, I remember worrying that I might not love this new child as much as I love my first child. I loved my first daughter so much that I didn't think I had the capacity to love another child to the same degree. We have this idea that there is only so much love in us, and that when it's used up, well . it's used up. How ridiculous! I learned fast that my capacity to love was far, far greater than I had thought. My second daughter was born, and I loved her instantly and equally as much. And the amazing thing is that my love for both of them keeps growing and growing. Now, if I am a limited man, and I can love my children like that, how much more can an unlimited God love His children?

You see, God doesn't love others more than you. You don't have to compete for His love. And you don't have to earn it! We think that we can get more of God's love if only we were better in our behavior. There's Satan's lie again. You are God's child. That sonship means you are the receiver of His great love. It is an unlimited love that you can't alter by doing bad things or good things. You get it all.

So, should I just kick back and enjoy that love? No. There's a little matter of expressing some gratitude. Being God's child and getting all this love makes me feel very free and it makes me want to do things for God. God's love motivates me to do good things because I'm so thankful to Him. As a matter of fact, Paul felt the same thing. He said that it is the love of Christ that controls him (2 Corinthians 5:14). Christ's love, demonstrated by His death for me, is the motivation for me to live for Him. His love drives, or compels, me to want to please Him.

I hope you're getting this. I hope you feel that freedom and motivation, too, because it comes with the territory of being God's child.

Continues.

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