Mama’s K.I.S.S. #48: “Pure On Purpose”–Reader’s Special Today

As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids.  This is number 48 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

 

“The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering without hypocrisy.”  (James 3:17).

This verse, that my children sang throughout their childhood, draws a clear line from purity of heart and life to a heart that shows mercy to others; mercy resulting in good works. In fact, it places purity as the first step in cultivating God’s wisdom in our lives. This purity of heart ends in the bearing of good fruits with sincerity. That development of heart was something for which  I prayed often as my children were growing.

When Hannah was in college, She and I made several trips over to Chattanooga to a television studio to produce a study DVD series about purity of heart and life for teen girls. It was a fun mother/daughter project for us. We tried to include activities and discussions about the mind of purity and also the practicality of purity in our relationships, ending with maintaining sexual purity. The workbook is jam-packed with age-appropriate projects. This study has been used in lots of classes, but I wanted to include it in this Mama’s K.I.S.S. series, as well, since I’ve been thinking about this verse that connects purity and service.

Glenn says I can offer this set (a DVD and workbook) –a set which retails for $35.00– to blog readers today for $20.00 plus $5.00 shipping. Here’s how: Just email the phrase “POP Special” within the next week to  colley@westhuntsville.org . Your package will be on it’s way . Then please just send a check for $25.00 to:

Glenn Colley

234 Powell Street

Gurley, AL. 35748

or you can deposit it in PayPal at the above email address.

Hope this is helpful to some Mama who’s praying for this heart!

Sister to Sister: High School Heroes

Things just aren’t like they used to be in reference to morality in our country today. Homosexual advocates have had a champion of their cause sitting in the Oval Office. The icons of our teen girls are a sad lot of extremely immodest, fornicating, pro-choice, feminist and/or vulgar-mouthed screen stars. Television sit-coms would have us believe that there’s a homosexual man or woman living in every third household in America and that conversation is incomplete and flavorless without cursing and taking God’s name in vain. We kill 1.2 million of our innocents every year and we have paid for many of  the murders with tax dollars. Our schools are battlefields in this culture war and, as a result, our kids are often safe from neither physical harm nor molestation of their values systems. Many public schools today, which have outlawed student-led prayer through Christ and/or prayer around the flagpole, grant excuses from classes at certain times of the day so that Muslim children can pray toward Mecca. More and more, children need the solidity and emotional safety of parents who can always be depended on for real answers to social issues, for values that are unchanging, and for the provision of a real home; a haven where they can count on being protected physically and emotionally, but most of all spiritually.

And our own “Christian” teens are living in this moral vacuum. More and more of our children raised in “Christian” homes are coming of age and leaving home without the moral underpinnings that they need to make wise choices. Many have already made serious mistakes before high school or even middle school graduation. Our kids are experimenting with pornography, alcohol, and sex of various kinds during high school. They have often been indiscriminate in their television and movie viewing. They have allowed their minds to become subtly controlled by the materialism of television and the movies while becoming anesthetized to blatant sin. They’ve slowly come to laugh at what should make them, as Christians, cry. They’ve incrementally given their real allegiance to the world while giving only a token Sunday/Wednesday nod to the things of God.

And then, with a little hope, thankfully, many find their way to the Christian university. At Freed Hardeman University, where my son and daughter have both attended, there are some amazing faculty members whose lives are wholly given to the Lord. There is a Bible faculty, on that campus which, in my opinion, is second to none in the world. And, many times, thank God, those students, who arrived as freshmen in a very weak spiritual condition, find themselves growing closer to God, wanting to know the freedom from guilt, and finding joy in heartfelt service to God. Sometimes these kids have the will to truly change during these college years and many of them will be faithful for the rest of their lives. Praise God.

But there is a sad phenomenon that sometimes occurs in this college scenario. Sometimes, those students who walked away from God during high school and became dangerously involved in alcohol abuse, sexual sin or pornography, etc., somehow feel that they have the spiritual edge over those kids who made the better choices in high school. You may be wondering, “Now where could she be going with this?” Let me explain.

More and more I am hearing college devo leaders say things like “If your life has never been totally messed up with sexual sin, then you can’t fully appreciate Christianity like I can.” Or, “I am not going to stand here and tell you that I have led a sexually pure life. You wouldn’t believe me if I did, since there probably aren’t two out of every ten people in this room who could say that. I’m going to tell you I’ve done about everything you’ve done, maybe as much as several of you put together and he still reached down for me.” Or, “I wouldn’t trade places with any of you out there who always walked the straight and narrow because I love the Jesus who came to the wide path and rescued me.” Or, “There may be those of you who think you made all the right choices through high school. You may have. But, if you did, I doubt you really know a lot about reaching the sinner with His forgiveness.”

What’s wrong with this sort of message in a devotional talk? Well, I can think of some definite dangers. First, let’s take this sort of teaching to its natural conclusion. If I can eventually put the greatest appreciation of the Savior in my kids by encouraging them to participate in sin, then shouldn’t I just provide the alcohol for their high school parties? Shouldn’t I encourage fornication and experimentation with homosexuality, porn, vulgarity and lewdness? Shouldn’t I get the raunchiest forms of satellite TV and download the most explicit computer images for them to view? Second, there are many lifelong consequences that come with various forms of sin (even forgiven sin). You can think of lots of these off the top of your head. With fornication comes the fear of STDs and/or the effect that this behavior has on your later marriage. With abortion comes the hauntings of guilt and the cry of the dead baby that you may hear for the rest of your life. With alcohol comes the possibility of alcoholism. With porn use comes the addiction you may have to fight till you die. The high school student who had the foresight, fortitude and faith to leave these sins alone should never be tauntingly stereotyped as the pharisaical, righteous one as I often hear in college circles. Third, It took a lot of courage and conviction to avoid the typical high school sins. It was not an accident that this purity of life was maintained. In fact, it was the same Christ who offered you His forgiveness that reigned in the heart of your friend there, as she worked so hard to never let King Jesus down. Did he ever need his forgiveness? Oh absolutely. Can she appreciate that forgiveness? Definitely. But he or she doesn’t have to walk away from the light to know the power of darkness. Fourth, we have to be really careful not to make a lifestyle of sin appealing to young people. Many—no, most young people who become enamored with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life during the very young teen years, do not emerge on the side of the Savior as adults. We are losing huge percentages of our kids as they experiment with the sins of the devil in high school. Parents and mentors who are really focused on eternity will do all that’s within their power to enable their kids to get in the safety of His will and to stay there every single day as they face the huge challenges of life in high school. Just one time, be on the receiving end of that phone call from a grief stricken parent informing you that a teen has been prematurely snatched from this life while under the influence of alcohol and you will desperately want your child to be among the number of “pharisaical” righteous ones on that college campus one day.

I understand that the one forgiven of much will love much (Luke 7:47). I know, from the life of Paul that the chief of sinners can be the most devoted to the cause (I Tim. 1:15). But there is a real sense in which each of is chief of sinners. There is a sense in which we all have obtained the ultimate forgiveness. We cannot afford to make the depth of depravity to which one has slipped the barometer of perceived spirituality. Let’s stop viewing those who remained faithful to God through what was arguably the most difficult years of life as some sort of self-righteous, sub-Christians. Let’s look to their examples and perhaps even to wisdom they gained for encouragement. I know many of these heroes. Among them are Joseph, Daniel, Samuel, Esther, Mary, the mother of the Lord and Timothy. And I know many of them who are now in college, as well. I can look at the short inexhaustive list above and know that God has a special place in his heart for those who stood relatively alone for truth and right in the high school years.

Sister to Sister: Guest Writer–Pornography Hooks Girls, Too.

For about nine months, I’ve been in touch with this author every day; sometimes multiple times each day in our (our meaning her and me, but also and foremost, the ONE who gives us the victory) victorious effort to rid her very young life of pornography. She’s made lots of decisions and changes and has come up with great strategies to be all she can be, sans pornography, for our Lord. I know, from my own small circle, that there are others who could benefit from her advice. She’s smart about this. Here’s her message:

Sexual temptation is not just for men. I think all too often we are given the idea that only men struggle with sexual temptation, specifically that of pornography. We hear sermon after sermon about the dangers of pornography for men, and about how to counter and avoid it, and this is wonderful! But, what about the girls who struggle with this?
So many times I think when we talk about a girl’s purity we are thinking only in terms of her virginity. And, as important as that is, it also needs to be stressed that when a girl struggles with a a sexual temptation, a pornography addiction, or a masturbation addiction, she’s not the only one. Based on experience, and from things others have said to me personally, a lot of the time, when you tell someone about your struggle, their response may be “yeah, I struggled with that too”.  This has happened to me on more than one occasion. We shouldn’t be ashamed to tell other people and reach out for help. 
 
Luke 15:10 :

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

The shame was in the sin. There’s no shame in repentance. Sometimes I think the reason that girls hide their struggles with sexual temptations instead of reaching out is because they’ve never heard anything about a girl having this temptation. That misconception was my worst enemy in my struggle…. Who did I turn to that wouldn’t think I was perverted, or weird? Worst of all, would they make it public?… I thought things like… “What on earth is wrong with me? I shouldn’t like this!” and “How am I struggling with this? I’m a girl! This is a guy problem….” It took a long time for me to understand that there were a lot more girls than I thought who struggled with the same things.  And they were just as ashamed as I was. We shouldn’t let the shame of the sin keep us from reaching out for help. The people that I wanted to know–the ones I felt close to, but afraid to tell–weren’t disappointed in me. They were sad for me, but they were also proud because I was doing what I needed to do to get out of it. They treated me no differently than they had before.  The best thing that I could have possibly done would have been to tell someone the moment I saw those things and was interested, but I didn’t. I hid it, and hiding it fueled it. We should be reaching out to those struggling, and reaching when we personally struggle, and we should be praying for one another. 

James 5:16

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Why do we sometimes apply this verse only to the “easier” sins? Why, when we hear of the harder sins in someone’s life do we sometimes shrink back, thinking of them as perverted? All sin is sin in God’s eyes; none worse, none better… .I think we should apply this verse even more to the harder sins in our Christian family’s lives.

Some sins are harder than others to overcome, but none are impossible. Here are a few of the things that have helped me in my struggle…

1. Get an accountability partner.

I didn’t really know how to get away from pornography, how to take away all of the temptation. I’d tried several times to just promise myself I’d never do it again. I would stay clean for about a week and then I’d fall again. So I finally realized that by myself, with only my sister and myself knowing (and her thinking I was over it), I would never get over it. So I told someone else, thinking that having someone else know would make me not do it. And then came the questions… “When was the last time you did it? This year? This week? Since you’ve been here at PTP?” And, having affirmed the last of the three options I was asked to promise to contact that friend if I ever did it again. About a month later, I started to struggle with it again. I kept my promise, sent the ever dreaded email, and was asked to agree to her terms of accountability. I was lucky. I was offered accountability and wouldn’t have thought to ask for it. I didn’t even know what it was, really. I knew it was for those who struggled with things like pornography, but I had never needed to know about that…. After all, I wasn’t ever going to do those things, right? Make sure you ask someone you respect to help you and keep you accountable. This will be your biggest help, and that person will likely be your biggest cheerleader. 

2. Covenant Eyes (or a similar program to monitor and report).

“Why do I need Covenant Eyes? I’m not going to do anything bad on my laptop. Don’t you trust me?” This one really hits home for me. While I’d have never have had the nerve to say it, I can surely remember thinking it. I hated the idea of something on my laptop that recorded and recounted to my parents everything that I did on my computer. Not because I had, at that time, any intention or desire to look at sinful things on my laptop, but because I wanted privacy. Now, I absolutely love my Covenant Eyes. It is the easiest thing in the world to not click on that nasty ad when you know that your laptop is immediately going to notify your parents or accountability partner. 

3. Keep busy.

I’ve spent probably the past 3-4 months having this one pounded into my thick skull, but you know what? It works! When you’re busy working for God and for others around you, or even just a new project that keeps your interest, then you will be so much less focused on your own troubles and shortcomings (discouragement/depression feeds the sin) and you will feel so good about the things you can do for others. 

4. Work hard on your thoughts.

Anyone who has ever been exposed to pornography knows how hard it is to get just one image out of your head, much less images, videos, words, etc… that have been purposely put in your head for months and years. So make sure that you’re watching your mind.  It becomes much easier to avoid temptations when your mind isn’t constantly on those things you’ve seen. So read a book, do a craft, study, sing a song. Avoid getting caught in a cycle of pornographic thoughts.

5. Go through your your phone, and get rid of ALL the temptations.

I don’t know why, but I didn’t even really consider going through and getting rid of the apps…the ones I hadn’t necessarily used to view pornography, but that I knew could have… (Amazon, Etsy, blogging apps, really any shopping apps),  so this has been a recent one for me but an enormous relief. You get rid of so much guilt when you delete an app that, while very convenient to have nearby, is also a temptation for you. So sit down, go through your phone and get rid of anything (apps or internet) that could readily give access to pornography. This will be a huge relief and help. 

1 Corinthians 10:13

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

 

 

Modesty: We Can Do Better

I was recently talking to a friend whose husband was one of the ministers in a large college church. She confided in me that at this congregation there were lists of men who had volunteered to serve the communion. She added that there was a separate list of guys who, while willing to serve communion, had specifically asked NOT to be asked to serve communion in the college section. Puzzled by this odd request I asked “Why do they not want to serve the college kids?”My friend responded “It’s the way the girls dress. They say they can’t focus on the cross and the Savior when there’s such an unavoidable visual distraction as they stand at the end of those pews full of college students.” Something is very wrong with that picture.My husband recently asked a large group of teen guys guys at a summer youth camp to identify their greatest challenge in being what God wanted them to be while at camp. The unanimous answer was “It’s the way the girls dress.”

My husband prodded them to be specific in explaining exactly what kinds of clothing made it difficult for them to be what they want to be for the Lord. “It’s very tight clothing. It’s those shirts that show some of their stomachs when they reach up to hit a volleyball or shoot a basket. It’s those times when they sit down in front of us on the bleachers and we see their backs and sometimes their underwear. It’s just really hard to focus on the devo when this is what is in front of us.” They went on to say that low-cut tops are a problem. “Maybe not so much if we are just standing around, but when we go into a Bible class and sit across the table from them and they lean over to write a note in their Bibles, little is left to our imaginations. We just wish they would help us out a little.”

The fact is… you can help them out a lot! When you choose to be discreet and modest, you not only help the guys in your circle of friends. You help the girls in your circle of friends. You help them to be modest without being excluded. You encourage them to be more aware of our calling to be holy. You help them to be able to sing “Purer in Heart O God, help me to be,’ without hypocrisy. You help them to stop being a stumbling block and start being this kind of example in their circles of friends. You make a difference in lives that you may not even know. There may be guys who are indirectly blessed by your modesty that you may never even meet. Someone may actually abstain from fornication or adultery of the heart as a result of your choice to be modest.

Best of all, you will know you mean it when you sing “O Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary..pure and holy, tried and true.” You will be a living sacrifice, not conformed to this world but transformed by a renewed mind. It’s really a small thing to do for such great rewards.

Sister to Sister: William Rotty was NOT his Real Name…

But it was close….

I remember in the fourth grade when Valentine’s day held an embarrassing kind of surprise for me as we all went to the blackboard tray to retrieve our little brown decorated bags full of tiny brightly colored paper cliche’ poems…the egg ones with the word “egg-cited” in them,”…the turtle ones that were all about “SLOWLY falling for you”…the elephant ones that were about “never forgetting my favorite valentine,”…and the ever- popular “nuts about you” ones. This year there was candy and a big regular store-shelf kind of card in my bag… from William Rotty.  Now William Rotty was older than everyone else because he’d failed a grade or two and I think he failed because he was too busy being obnoxious and thinking of devious ways to be disrespectful. It was the worst day of the fourth grade to have that big candy heart sticking up out of the top of my bag and have the whole class (including me) excitedly waiting for the revelation of its origin…only to find out that it was from William Rotty.

Some love letters are like that…the tender little expressions of relationships that are never meant to be. And we all got over the awkwardness of the moments that came in decorated class Valentine bags in the sixties. I got over the good and the bad of William Rotty, Jeff McCaleb, Mark Wolfe, Steve Cicero, Jimmy Hood, and Robert Bowman–all little boys from whom I, at one time or another, in elementary school received “special” Valentines.

And then we grew up. And so did our love letters. And so did the pain and the angst. And sometimes the awkwardness got really big and the ending of relationships was so much more traumatic than if they’d only involved a big red candy box sticking out of a brown bag taped to a black board tray.

And you know…whether you court or date, whether you live in a Christian home or not, I think there will be relationships that will change you, mature you, help to make you the woman, the mother and wife, after you finally make it to the altar of marriage, that you will be.

One day you will be telling your little girls about Valentines, about dress-up dates, about awkward moments and situations that made you laugh and cry through the dating years. That’s why I’m about dating purity. That’s why I wanted to help my daughter, in tangible ways, make it down the aisle as a woman who could give her husband the wonderful gift of exclusivity. I know what marriage can be like if there are no sexual comparisons (comparing my partner to someone else with whom I’ve been intimate or vice-versa) on the part of either partner–ever. I wanted that for her and I want it for you. It solves a lot of potential problems, not the least of which is guilt over sexual sin…a ghost that, because of His forgiveness, is sometimes not even real; but it still haunts in ways that are painful and sometimes destructive.

I may not know all the reasons for God’s very strong fences around the sexual relationship of marriage, but I do know that He is very serious about abstinence before marriage and fidelity in marriage. And I know that it’s because He wants what’s ultimately going to fill our lives with contentment and give us eternity with Him. He gives us His very best when we purposefully do life His way.

I recognize that abstinence and purity through the teen years is a purposeful choice. It doesn’t just happen. It takes the development of a relationship with God that makes a young heart pliable and submissive. It takes the rare ability, in a world of instant gratification, to wait for the time and circumstance when I can have the best He has to offer (and His best is THE best!). It takes an amazing amount of “turning down” the influences around you and “turning up” the influence of the Word. It even takes a lot of wisdom to decipher through a lot of psycho-theo-babble today from some youth ministers and religious leaders who would try and convince you to “not worry so much about keeping lists of dos and don’ts and worry just about loving God.” (Of course, loving God is about keeping his list of commandments[John 14:15; John 15:10]. The works of the flesh are listed…LISTED…in Galatians 5.) It takes, in short, your steel will to do His real will in a world that’s forsaken Him and His system of morality. Today, for the most part, you cannot look to your peers, your teachers at school, those who are touted as “good” in the media or the leader of the free world on Pennsylvania Avenue as any sort of moral compass. Some of you cannot look to parents and some cannot even look to religious leaders.

But you can look to God. Your relationship with Him is not contingent on your family situation, your educational circumstance, or the spiritual veracity of your elders or youth group. Your relationship with Him is settled in your willingness to get into His Word and apply it, to the best of your ability, in every relationship and decision. There is great power, beyond what you have asked or imagined, when you let the power of His Word live in you(Eph. 3:20)!

May I encourage you to help yourself to happiness? There are some teen materials at www.thecolleyhouse.org that might help you as you try to be light in a dark world through the teen years. Let me know if you need them, will use them, and can’t afford them.

That’s all for now. Except here’s my short list of practical tools for your walk in purity through the teen years. Some of these sound terribly old-fashioned for those influenced by 2017 culture. But I believe this list in strongly influenced by examples and statutes from the Word.

  1. Decide now that you will not be truly alone for long periods of time with any other young person of the opposite sex. This will, unfortunately, automatically mark lots of guys off your radar.
  2. Decide now that you will choose movies and television and music and internet sites that you’d be comfortable enjoying if Jesus were physically in your presence. This will significantly narrow your scope of entertainment, so keep in mind that entertainment is not all the world makes it out to be.
  3. Decide now that you will abstain from alcohol and drugs and from being present when others are drinking or doing drugs. This will be prohibitive of many parties.
  4. Decide now that you will never dress in a way that might be provocative or cause others to think sexual thoughts. Remember, especially for guys, the struggle is real. If this involves a wardrobe re-do, get on that. This decision will also automatically mark some extra-curricular activities off your list.
  5. Decide now which areas of your body are off-limits to the hands of others and never, ever compromise that promise to yourself and God. This will prohibit some activities that are a part of the 2017 teen world.
  6. Decide now that you will get in the word and spend some time in prayer every day. Every day. Ask for His help to be pure in your heart, dress, words and actions. This will open up some unbelievable doors of opportunity for you.
  7. Memorize Philippians 4:8 and decide now to let it saturate every decision and purpose. This will bring contentment and peace as the context of the verse clearly states.
  8. Decide now what you are looking for in a marriage partner. Make a list off “must-haves”, a list of “would-likes” and a list of “can’t-handles” based a lot in the Word and a little in your own tastes and then just stick with the list. Be patient.
  9. Decide now that, once you marry, you’re all in…forever. This should prompt some very careful thought and meticulous elimination of people who can’t be spiritual leaders. Believe me, you WANT a spiritual leader.
  10. Pay particular attention to the word “now” in all of the above. It’s the most important word. (If  past decisions have already messed up your “now”  you can still fix your eternal future. You will, almost always, face negative consequences to sinful past actions. But “now” is still the operative word.) Start now to be what He wants you to be and you will be surprised how He can work through His will in your life to give you victory and heaven!

 

Sister to Sister Archives: You Just Can’t Appreciate Jesus Like I Do

Digital Rendering of a Woman with Headset

Things just aren’t like they used to be in reference to morality in our country today. Homosexual advocates have a champion of their cause sitting in the Oval Office. The icons of our teen girls are a sad lot of extremely immodest, fornicating, pro-choice, feminist and/or vulgar-mouthed screen stars. Television sit-coms would have us believe that there’s a homosexual man or woman living in every third household in America and that conversation is incomplete and flavorless without cursing and taking God’s name in vain. We kill 1.2 million of our innocents every year and we often pay for the murders with tax dollars. Our schools are battlefields in this culture war and, as a result, our kids are often safe from neither physical harm nor molestation of their values systems. There are many schools today which have outlawed student-led prayer through Christ and/or prayer around the flagpole, but which grant excuses from classes at certain times of the day so that Muslim children can pray toward Mecca. More and more, children need the solidity and emotional safety of parents who can always be depended on for real answers to social issues, for values that are unchanging, and for the provision of a real home; a haven where they can count on being protected physically and emotionally, but most of all spiritually.

And our own “Christian” teens are living in this moral vacuum. More and more of our children raised in “Christian” homes are coming of age and leaving home without the moral underpinnings that they need to make wise choices. Many have already made serious mistakes before high school or even middle school graduation. Our kids are experimenting with pornography, alcohol, and sex of various kinds during high school. They have often been indiscriminate in their television and movie viewing. They have allowed their minds to become subtly controlled by the materialism of television and the movies while becoming anesthetized to blatant sin. They’ve slowly come to laugh at what should make them, as Christians cry. They’ve incrementally given their real allegiance to the world while giving only a token Sunday/Wednesday nod to the things of God.

And then, with a little hope, thankfully, many find their way to the Christian university. At Freed Hardeman University, where my son and daughter have both attended, there are some amazing faculty members whose lives are wholly given to the Lord. There is a Bible faculty, on that campus which, in my opinion, is second to none in the world. And, many times, thank God, those students, who arrived as freshmen in a very weak spiritual condition, find themselves growing closer to God, wanting to know the freedom from guilt, and finding joy in heartfelt service to God. Sometimes these kids have the will to truly change during these college years and many of them will be faithful for the rest of their lives. Praise God.

But there is a sad phenomenon that sometimes occurs in this college scenario. Sometimes, those students who walked away from God during high school and became dangerously involved in alcohol abuse, sexual sin or pornography, etc., somehow feel that they have the spiritual edge over those kids who made the better choices in high school. You may be wondering, “Now where could she be going with this?” Let me explain.

More and more I am hearing college devo leaders say things like “If your life has never been totally messed up with sexual sin, then you can’t fully appreciate Christianity like I can.” Or, “I am not going to stand here and tell you that I have led a sexually pure life. You wouldn’t believe me if I did, since there probably aren’t two out of every ten people in this room who could say that. I’m going to tell you I’ve done about everything you’ve done, maybe as much as several of you put together and He still reached down for me.” Or, “I wouldn’t trade places with any of you out there who always walked the straight and narrow because I love the Jesus who came to the wide path and rescued me.” Or, “There may be those of you who think you made all the right choices through high school. You may have. But, if you did, I doubt you really know a lot about reaching the sinner with His forgiveness.”

What’s wrong with this sort of message in a devotional talk? Well, I can think of some definite dangers. First, let’s take this sort of teaching to its natural conclusion. If I can eventually put the greatest appreciation of the Savior in my kids by encouraging them to participate in sin, then shouldn’t I just provide the alcohol for their high school parties? Shouldn’t I encourage fornication and experimentation with homosexuality, porn, vulgarity and lewdness? Shouldn’t I get the raunchiest forms of satellite TV and download the most explicit computer images for them to view? Second, there are many lifelong consequences that come with various forms of sin (even forgiven sin). You can think of lots of these off the top of your head. With fornication comes the fear of STDs and/or the effect that this behavior has on your later marriage.

With abortion comes the hauntings of guilt and the cry of the dead baby that you may hear for the rest of your life. With alcohol comes the possibility of alcoholism. With porn use comes the addiction you may have to fight till you die. The high school student who had the foresight, fortitude and faith to leave these sins alone should never be tauntingly stereotyped as the pharisaical, righteous one as I often hear in college circles. Third, It took a lot of courage and conviction to avoid the typical high school sins. It was not an accident that this purity of life was maintained. In fact, it was the same Christ who offered you His forgiveness that reigned in the heart of your friend there, as she worked so hard to never let King Jesus down. Did he ever need his forgiveness? Oh absolutely. Can she appreciate that forgiveness? Definitely. But he or she doesn’t have to walk away from the light to know the power of darkness. Fourth, we have to be really careful not to make a lifestyle of sin appealing to young people. Many—no, most young people who become enamored with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life during the very young teen years, do not emerge on the side of the Savior as adults. We are losing huge percentages of our kids as they experiment with the sins of the devil in high school. Parents and mentors who are really focused on eternity will do all that’s within their power to enable their kids to get in the safety of His will and to stay there every single day as they face the huge challenges of life in high school. Just one time, be on the receiving end of that phone call from a grief stricken parent informing you that a teen has been prematurely snatched from this life while under the influence of alcohol and you will desperately want your child to be among the number of pharisaical righteous ones on that college campus one day.

I understand that the one forgiven of much will love much (Luke 7:47). I know, from the life of Paul that the chief of sinners can be the most devoted to the cause (I Tim. 1:15). But there is a real sense in which each of is chief of sinners. There is a sense in which we all have obtained the ultimate forgiveness. We cannot afford to make the depth of depravity to which one has slipped the barometer of perceived spirituality. Let’s stop viewing those who remained faithful to God through what was arguably the most difficult years of life as some sort of self-righteous, sub-Christians. Let’s look to their examples and perhaps even to wisdom they gained for encouragement. I know many of these heroes. Among them are Joseph, Daniel, Samuel, Esther, Mary, the mother of the Lord and Timothy. And I know many of them who are now in college, as well. I can look at the short inexhaustive list above and know that God has a special place in his heart for those who stood relatively alone for truth and right in the high school years.