When I first started traveling and speaking to teenagers I was a teenager myself. Little did I know then as I was speaking to students in high school that 24 years later I would still be speaking to teenagers while having four high school students of my own. Several weeks ago I was in North Carolina speaking at Hickory Grove Christian High School. It was an incredible week because I saw God work powerfully in the lives of those students. I realized that I love doing this now more than ever because four of my best friends are in high school. I wanted to use this newsletter to let you in on the challenges my four teenagers are facing and what God is teaching them in the process.
My daughter Kelly has been walking through a trial that is not uncommon to most anyone who has loved God for most of their lives. Kelly has been in the wilderness. For quite some time now she has been living out her faith based on what she believes to be true about her savior rather than on what she feels. She says that most days, for the past while, she doesn’t feel God’s presence. She is not living in sin or rebellion but instead, walking closely with God during this time. Most nights when I go into her bedroom to say goodnight, I find her with her Bible open and see her writing in her God journal. During this trial she has taught me so much about God’s faithfulness in the desert. She told me this week that God is teaching her that feelings come and go but God is with us and His love is real no matter how we feel. Years ago someone argued with me over this topic saying, “Something is wrong with your walk with God if you are not feeling Him.” I disagreed with that person then and I have told Kelly that there is nothing wrong with her faith and that God is growing her faith deeper and deeper and that she is going to be stronger because of this time. Faith is not what we see and feel, but what we live out when we are in the wilderness. Kelly, I am proud of you and I admire your walk with God!
My son Andrew told me recently he knows it is easy to fall into the trap that so many young men do, looking at women as objects rather than sisters. Andrew said that it is his goal to treat the girls in his life with respect and to honor God with the way he treats them. He said, “I want to honor God with my eyes and have a clean, clear mind.” At the end of every day, Andrew says out loud to me, ” I honored God with my eyes today,” and I say the same to him. This is a great accountability that I have with Andrew to honor God and the women in our lives with our eyes and our minds. Just in case you are wondering, I have the same accountability with my other two sons and it has kept me out of a lot of trouble. Thank you, Andrew, for helping me to work hard at honoring God in this world that has so much perversion in it. Thank you also for being honest with me about your struggles and for letting me share my struggles with you.
Stephen told me that he was having a tough time at work the other night. The people he was working with were really frustrating him. Stephen has always exhibited a lot of patience, so it surprised me when he said God has been teaching him about self-control. He was being tempted to lose his cool and he realized that the way he treated people at work could either be about himself or about honoring God. He told me that He wants to honor God by carefully watching the things that come out of his mouth and through his actions. Stephen’s co-workers know he is a Christian. God is continuing to teach him that he is representing Christ to those around him. Stephen is in the spotlight at school. He stole the show in the school play last month with his humor. I am grateful to know that he wants to honor God with the way he treats the people around him. Stephen has a lot of talent and there are a lot of people watching him. When his peers look at him I want them to see a young man who struggles like everyone else but finds the strength to be kind and generous, from the God who gave him those gifts and talents. Stephen, thanks for keeping me laughing and for honoring God in the spotlight. Thank you also for the way you are a servant at home.
You probably have figured out by now that this week I asked my teenagers what God is teaching them and what struggles they are going through; with some I already knew the answer. However, Josh really surprised me. “I am tempted to worry,” he said. This really caught me off guard because Josh seems to stroll through life like he doesn’t have a care in the world. I asked, “Worry about what?” “Everything,” he said. “I am tempted to worry about my grades, my relationships, and the list goes on and on. I am also tempted to worry about my relationship with God. God is giving me 100% of Himself, 100% of the time. I give Him a fraction of that most of the time. But, one thing I learned a long time ago helps me today to not worry. No matter how much I fall short, it never changes God’s 100%. There is nothing I can do or not do that is going to make Him stop loving me. When I am tempted to worry, this really helps me.” I asked, “So what is God teaching you today?” “Patience,” he said. “But that is unrelated to my temptation to worry so we will save that for another time!” Thanks, Josh, for being such a great friend.
Thanks for all your prayers and support for this ministry, my teenagers, my fifth grader (who we are proud to say made student council) and for Carol and I. It feels great to be back to speaking and traveling.