Chapter OneUnconditional Love and Acceptance
It seems to me that things would be so much better if we could all
be referred to just as "people," not so much as "children,"
"teenagers," "young adults," "the elderly," "middle-aged," "men" or
"women," "short" or "tall," "skinny" or "fat," "white," "black,"
"brown," "red" or "yellow." We continually classify one another, and
somehow in doing so, I think we automatically exclude many people
who are not seen to be in our classification. If not as drastic as
exclusion, then certainly we usually place an uncomfortable distance
We admit that we need others who are different from us, but somehow
when faced with them we tend either to reject or try to change them.
Instead of thinking that different is bad, we must understand once
and for all that different is good.
All we have to do is look at each other to see that God is certainly
fond of variety. We all have different fingerprints and DNA, a
variety of blood types, voices, body shapes and sizes, color and
texture of hair. We look different, and we have a wide variety of
gifts and talents. If God had intended for us to be clones of one
another, surely He would have arranged for all of us to be just
Often teenagers are rejected by adults because they are different.
They have different ideas, different hair and clothing styles, etc.
With all of my heart I want to see people accept themselves, know
they are accepted by God and begin to press forward to fulfill their
No Strings Attached
Every human being on the earth seeks unconditional love and
acceptance. It is the number one basic need of all people.
A teenager has the same needs as anyone else. Each of us is created
with the need to be loved and accepted, and God intends for us to
experience that love and acceptance. He gives it to us willingly and
abundantly. The problem is that we are so accustomed to not getting
it from people, that by the time most of us enter into a personal
relationship with God, we cannot believe He would give it to us
either. (If you do not have a personal relationship with the Lord
and you would like to - there is a prayer you can pray later on in
God is holding out to us the free gift of His unconditional love and
acceptance, and we don't know how to receive it. What a tragedy!
Free gifts are to be received and appreciated. You can receive from
Jesus what others may not be giving you - a sense of value and
worth, unconditional love and total acceptance as a person.
God already knows we don't deserve His goodness according to our
merits, but He has blessed us and given us the opportunity to be in
relationship with Jesus Christ, His Son, our Savior, Lord, Brother
A Brand-New Start
Having a personal relationship with Jesus cannot be equated with
church attendance. Those who love the Lord will want to go to a good
church and have fellowship with like-minded people. They will want
to learn and worship Him with others. But before church can be truly
enjoyed, an individual must first have a personal relationship with
God through His Son Jesus Christ.
Jesus said ., I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one
comes to the Father except by (through) Me (John 14:6). No amount of
our own good works will gain us favor with God or ensure us a place
in His eternal kingdom. Only faith in Jesus will do that-faith in
Jesus is the key.
Perhaps your parents were believers who tried to instill faith in
you as a child. Perhaps they took you to church and saw that you
were exposed to the teaching of God's Word. You may have tried to
follow the rules you were taught, but it all seemed so boring, and
none of the people there seemed very happy It may be that even your
parents did not live the life at home they were telling you to live.
They may have seemed hypocritical to you.
There is a major difference in having religion and having a personal
relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Joining a church does
not make one a Christian; faith in God through Jesus does.
You don't have to shut God out of your life because some church did
not meet your needs. Like everything else in life, there are good
churches and there are bad churches. You may be sick and go to a bad
doctor, but you don't stop going to doctors just because of one bad
experience. You keep looking until you find one who can help you
with your sickness. The same is true of looking for the right
church. Even a church can disappoint you, but God won't if you trust
Your parents and others you looked up to may have been model
Christians. They may have done everything right, and yet you could
never seem to "hook into" what they said they believed. It just did
not seem to be for you. You wished it would work for you; you wanted
to feel close to God, but something was missing.
We went through this with our older son David when he was a teenager
There was continual strife between us. He went to church but lived a
compromising life. We wanted him to be serious with God and make
right choices, but he was consistently rebellious.
God showed me that I had unforgiveness toward him because he was not
what I wanted him to be spiritually. I realized that I needed to
accept him where he was and trust God to get him where he needed to
David felt rejected by his father and me. Although we loved him, we
were rejecting him as he was. We wanted him to change, and he felt
the pressure of our disapproval.
I knew that I needed to apologize to him and try to find a place of
"new beginnings" in our relationship. His dad and I talked with him
and told him if he would go to church once a week, not listen to
heavy metal rock music in the house and not bring girls there while
we were gone, we would not nag him about other things. We told him
we recognized that he was eighteen years old and that it was time to
let him make his own decisions.
From my experience with David I learned that a parent cannot make a
child love God. That is something that must be worked out between
God and every individual personally But a parent can continue to
pray for that child, love that child unconditionally and trust God
with their outcome.
As we talked together. David began to cry He told us that with all
of his heart he wished he felt the way we did about God, but that
something was missing for him, and he could not make himself have
it. He said he needed our unconditional love and acceptance. He
admitted that he was not living the way he should, but he felt he
needed some time to make his own decisions without pressure from us.
The next few months were not easy for me. It was hard not to tell
David what he should be doing. It was also hard to treat him right
when he ignored what he knew were our wishes. There were a few
occasions when things got a little tense, but for the most part we
stuck to our agreement.
Six months passed. One evening David returned from a New Year's Eve
church service and stated that God had dealt with him. He announced
that he was going to go to Bible college in Florida. He said he
intended to serve God if it was the last thing he ever did. I
remember him standing in the living room and telling us that even if
it meant he would lose all of his friends, he was going to follow
To make a rather long story short, David is now the Director of
World Missions at our ministry. Life In The Word. He is married to a
wonderful woman, has two lovely children and is a great joy to Dave
We took David to church all of his life, but that was not enough to
make him want to love and serve the Lord. Church attendance alone is
not the answer-only a new birth can truly change a person's heart.
In John 3:3, Jesus said that in order to see the kingdom of God, a
person must be born again. Without Jesus living in our heart we are
spiritually dead. As we receive Him by faith into our heart to dwell
there and ask Him to forgive our sins, we are cleansed, forgiven and
made a new creature in Him. At the new birth, we are given a
brand-new start in life.
Do you need a brand-new start? If so, it is available to you by
simply committing your life to Jesus Christ and asking Him to be
Savior and Lord of your life. He gives us a reason to live,
direction and purpose.
I'll Catch You"
Usually the plan of salvation is presented in the back of most
Christian books; however, I am plainly laying out the plan early in
the book. I don't want anyone to have to read this entire book and
not know the joy of experiencing the unconditional love and
acceptance of Jesus living in their heart.
The plan is simple. All you have to do is realize that you cannot
live a good and holy life without God's help. You make mistakes; you
are a sinner (as we all are); and you need forgiveness and help.
God has created us to need Him. If we are created to need Him, then
we can never do anything but need Him, and we will never be
fulfilled and satisfied without Him. Every one of us has a
God-shaped hole inside us that only He can fill. We usually spend
our lives trying to fill it with everything else-with friends,
success, drugs, alcohol, cars, clothes, sex, possessions and
accomplishments in life-but none of these will satisfy us or fill
the empty void we have inside.
God wants to help us with life. He wants to make the hard things
easy and the impossible things possible. All that is required of us
is a complete surrender of our heart and life to His leadership. It
is an act done by faith.
In Romans 10:9,10 we are told:
. if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is
Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on
the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and
relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous,
acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares
openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his]
In our society today, we tend to think that we must understand
everything with our mind, but some things can only be understood
with the heart. Most of us don't understand electricity, but we use
it every day to bring light and power into our homes. In the same
way, none of us can ever fully understand the plan of salvation with
our mind. Salvation is not something we grasp intellectually; it is
something we receive spiritually by faith. Don't try to understand
God; simply believe.
In the Bible we read that Jesus came to earth as the Son of God; He
was born of a virgin. Mary was His mother in the flesh, and God was
His Father by the Holy Spirit-a miracle. Remember, miracles cannot
God sent His only Son to die for us on a cross and to pay the price
for our sins. The Lord loved us so much that He wanted to redeem us
from the terrible condition into which we had fallen. To do that. He
was ready to pay any price, and He did pay a high price indeed-the
suffering and bloodshed of His Son to pay for the sins of many sons
and daughters who would be eternally lost to Him without this
Jesus took the punishment that we deserved. He suffered in your
place and mine. He died and was buried, but on the third day He was
resurrected from the dead and is alive today. Jesus died for you!
God has done everything for us. All He asks us to do is believe.
Simple childlike faith is all that is required.
It is like a young child jumping off a porch rail into his father's
waiting arms, not fearful of getting hurt because Daddy has said,
"Don't worry, I'll catch you." That is what God tells you and me
when we put our trust in Him.
If you have an earthly father you cannot trust, it may be harder for
you to trust God, but you don't have to be afraid to trust Him.
Surrender is the beginning of trust. As you will see next,
surrendering your life to the Lord is not a negative thing; it is
one of the best decisions you will ever make. It sets you free to
enjoy the wonderful life God has planned for you.
God Will Take Care of You
I admit that complete surrender is a tall order. Abandonment of our
life to another when we have no experience with that person is
frightening to most of us.
The only thing I can assure you of is this:
God is good.
Every plan He has for you is good.
He may not always lead you in the way you would choose to go, but
He will lead you the best way.
He will take care of you. What you commit to His trust. He will
God will not always tell you ahead of time what He is going to do in
your life. As I mentioned before, He likes surprises. Also, this is
His method of teaching us to trust Him.
God does not give us all the answers because trust requires some
unanswered questions. He will not allow any one of us to have
everything all figured out.
If you have not yet surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, I want to
encourage you to stop right now and do so. You can ask a Christian
friend to pray with you or you can pray by yourself. Just be honest
with God. He is your Father. Talk to Him as a dear Friend. You can
tell Him anything and everything. He will never reject you nor judge
Start Your New Life
Here is a sample prayer you can use as a guideline:
Dear Father, I love You very much. I don't know You very well, but I
believe that You know me. I believe in Your Son Jesus. I believe He
died for me, shed His blood for me and paid for my sins. He took the
punishment I deserved. I am so grateful that You and He have done
this for me that I want to serve You all the rest of my life.
I know that I am a sinner. I admit my sins and confess them. I want
to turn away from them and live a good clean life.
Lord Jesus, I surrender to You completely. I invite You to come and
live in my heart, to lead and guide me all the rest of my days. I
want to be born again, to know that my name is written in the Book
of Life and that I will go to heaven when I die. I also want to have
the assurance that You will be with me always and that, according to
Your promise in the Bible, You will never leave me nor forsake me.
Lord, by faith, I believe I am saved, that I am a new creature in
Christ. You have forgiven all my sins and have given me a brand-new
Thank You, Father, for sending Jesus to die for me. In Jesus' name,
If you sincerely prayed that prayer, you are now born again. You are
part of God's family. I encourage you to call any of the numbers
listed in the back of this book or write to the address given, and
we will help you in any way we can. Just let us know that you
accepted Christ as you were reading this book, and we will assist
you in getting your new life as a Christian started right.