Depending on a child's personality type, they may act in different ways when faced with problems and challenges. Some act out in anger and aggression while others begin to shy away from family and friends, become very depressed and reclusive. Those who act in anger seem to get noticed first. An effort is made to help. Those who become quiet and discouraged often go unnoticed for longer periods of time. Here are 9 Biblical ways to help defeat depression.. We hope you'll read them all, but at least scroll through the list below and allow God to use some of them to help you help your teen. You are not alone in your struggle.
“The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Your son or daughter is not alone in the struggle of life as it relates to discouragement and/or depression. You might be interested to know that numerous heroes of our faith struggled with these difficult types of situations.
Discouragement, where does it come from? Sometimes it feels like a dry, barren wind off a lonely desert. Something inside us begins to wilt. At other times, it feels like a chilling mist seeping through our powers, it numbs the spirit and fogs the path before us…it strips our lives of joy and leaves us feeling vulnerable and exposed.
In the Bible, we see David struggled with these feelings. In Psalm 61:1–2 He writes, “Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” We find it alluded to often in other Psalms as well:
Psalm 42:5-7, 9,11 –The Psalmist says,
"5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted (Disquieted=groan loudly; moan) within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. 6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar. 7 Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me. 9 I will say to God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” 11 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. "
Another great Bible character, Paul, wrote of his struggle with difficult emotional, physical and spiritual anguish. 2 Corinthians 7:5–6 — 5 For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. 6 Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus,
Throughout history, we find Christian saints who struggle with discouragement and depression. We could list the godliest people we know and if the truth were known, we would discover that to a large degree, most if not all have had a struggle in this area.
Abraham Lincoln thought the pain would lead to death; the body couldn’t tolerate it. He said, “I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on earth. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell; I awfully forbode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible. I must die or be better, it appears to me.”
Here are others who wrote about the pain we all feel at times:
· You seem to imagine I have no ups and downs but just a level and lofty stretch of spiritual attainment with unbroken joy.… By no means! By no means! I am often perfectly wretched and everything appears most murky--John Henry Jowett, pastor of New York’s Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church and later Westminster Chapel in London to a friend in 1920
• Lord Jesus, receive my spirit and put an end to this miserable life.--John Knox
• There are dungeons beneath the castles of despair.--Charles Spurgeon, who suffered debilitating bouts of depression all his life
• I had my temptations attending me.… Sometimes I should be assaulted with great discouragement therein, fearing that I should not be able to speak the Word at all ...at which times I should have such a strange faintness and strengthlessness seize upon my body that my legs have scarce been able to carry me--John Bunyan
Perhaps today you are a “weary pilgrim.” You have known the dark nights and the days that seem like nights as you struggle through discouragement. You can take heart - as you can see, you are in good company.
We will only begin to scratch the surface of the topic of discouragement/depression/and burnout. Though they are not equal, they usually go hand in hand, so I have lumped them together.
Before we begin, here are a few myths about the causes of discouragement and/or depression:
1. Depression is always the result of lack of faith in God.
2. Depression is always caused by self-pity.
3. Depression can always be removed by spiritual exercises such as prayer and fasting.
4. Depression can be removed by making a choice to be happy.
5. The term “Depressed Christian” is a contradiction.
6. All depression comes from Satan.
7. Depression is God’s punishment.
8. Depression is never the will of God.
To overcome depression, there are some necessary and needed adjustments we must make.
Here are 9 places to look to help overcome discouragement and depression.
Looking to these places of help will aid in the correction our distorted vision and help bring our child out of the swamp or “slough of despond” as John Bunyan described it.
1. Look to others who have suffered and succeeded (Heb. 11)
Depression makes us feel alone. Even in a crowd of people, we can feel as if we are somehow separate from everyone else. This makes the misery only deeper.
We need to remember that there have been others who have been through deep waters in life yet they succeeded. I have mentioned several in Scripture and in church history. One of the greatest lists of those who struggle and faced incredible odds is found in Hebrews 11. We read of the real men and women of the Bible who learned through hardship, pain and suffering to live by faith.
v.13 – they never saw the complete fulfillment of God’s promises – a land, a race, a city, but they had faith. Our faith too must extend beyond this life to heaven. That gives true meaning to what we experience in this life.
v. 36 – so we realize that everyone faces different and difficult circumstances, these had faith in God when life was at its worse. When the greatest potential for discouragement and depression came their way, they had faith in God!
When you get depressed, it is good to remember that others have been through every imaginable pain and hardship (physically, mentally, and emotionally) and they testify that by faith, we can make it as well. Their lives remind me that everything in this life is not “pie in the sky”, ease and luxury. Read their stories and you will not only discover their pain and suffering, you will see that they had the same questions you ask,
“Does God hear me?”
“Does God love me?”
“Has God forsaken me?”
They made it and so can we.
2. Look to God Revelation 19:6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!
You might think that “the beloved disciple” of Jesus, the one who wrote five books of the NT would have a life of ease and luxury for his service to Christ. John was the last apostle to die. He suffered in exile on the Isle of Patmos – a Roman Penal Colony – because he would not say that the emperor was “Lord and God.”
At potentially the most discouraging moments of his life, John saw God. This is our greatest need when we are depressed. God seems to be off the radar, so distanced form us that we have no connection with Him.
Remember the following realities about God:
God is good
God is all-powerful
God loves me
God is God
Write these statements in bold print in your Bible. When we are depressed, we need a proper look at god. Satan brings distortions and lies about God. John saw God for who He is – “The Lord God omnipotent reigns.”
3. Look to Jesus – Hebrews 12:2–3 — 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
When we go through pain and suffering we are also looking for meaning. Many people comment that if they could understand the purpose of their pain, then they could more easily handle the pain.
But that revelation of purpose rarely comes when we think we need it. Job had no idea of the Heavenly aspect to his earthly dilemma. Joseph went through decades without answers. Jesus cried from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
When we experience depression we must look to Jesus! V. 3 tells us why “lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” It literally means “to give out.” During times of discouragement, we want to give up.
4. Look to the truth – John 17:17–18 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
It has been said that if you tell a lie long enough, it will be believed as the truth. I think we can argue from history that this happens regularly. We are very susceptible to lies. Sometimes because we can’t verify them one way or another. Sometimes because we are gullible and sometimes because we want to believe them.
We need to be careful about what we listen to especially when we are discouraged. It is easy to listen to lies:
“God doesn’t care”
“God is not with me”
“No one has ever faced this before”
“God is gone”
These lies and hundreds of others feed discouragement and depression. It is easier to believe lies because we have to take no steps of action. All we have to do is live by our feelings. Feelings change constantly. Truth never changes.
When you go through the valley of depression you must “remember in the dark the truth you learned in the light.” Depression often happens as a result of replacing the Word of God as the driving force for our actions. Even the physical causes of depression require a Biblical response.
If we don’t replace the lies with truth we will have a “…faulty interpretation of the available information.”
I want you to mark several key references that are the truths you need to remember to combat the lies when you are discouraged.
1. God never fails – Heb. 13:5b
2. Pain has a purpose (it purifies) – I Peter 4:1
3. God answers prayer – John 14:13-14
4. God is with me in my struggles – Ps. 46:1
5. Good will be the result – Rom 8:28
6. This will make me like Jesus – Rom. 8:29
7. This is temporary – II Cor. 4:17
8. God is in control – Deut. 33:26-27
9. God gives me strength – Is. 40:31
There are times when we can only cling to God and His promises. That is a choice to live by faith and not to give in to our feelings. Remember, “People who give up are people who have first given in (to their feelings).”
Mark, memorize and study these truths from Scripture. They are the truths that will set you free.
5. Look at the past
Many people are depressed because of their past. As they think back, there may be many, if not hundreds, of failures. Failed projects, rejection, abuse, misrepresentations, sin, failure as a parent, spouse or friend, school failures, failures in relationships. The list could be endless. Why would anyone want to think about the past to overcome discouragement and depression?
Though this is not my main point, I should point out to you that caution should always be exercised when we think about the past. Our mind may distort the facts. Since we can rarely remember events exactly as they were, we may exaggerate the severity of an incident or we may minimize the good that has happened. It’s easy to be the victim when we are discouraged. Be careful how you remember the past! The apostle Paul taught us that he forgot the things that were behind because his remembrance of those things would be a hindrance.
That does not mean that we never remember the past. We don’t live in the past. And we don’t have to allow the past to control us.
What should we remember about the past?
Lamentations 3:1-9, 15-20, 21-25
We need to remember that the God of the past is with us today. There may be necessary, even unexplained, pain and difficulty. But, as Jeremiah remembered, so must we. In order to “crowd out the hopelessness” that can evade our lives we must have three memories from the past:
o God’s inexhaustible supply of loyal love (“mercies”)
o God’s warm compassion (Hebrew word that basically means “the womb”)
o God’s forever faithfulness (His dependable support that will not let me down)
When we are discouraged, “It is though what we know by faith is struggling with what we are experiencing.” One of the ways that the Israelites learned to not forget God was to build/have memorials. The rainbow, is a great example of God giving a reminder. Gen. 9:13-16
We too need memorials of God’s faithfulness.
o Keep a journal – answers to prayer, favorite verses, times of God’s special favor
o Write in your Bible
o Sing hymns
o Review with a friend
o Specific provision by God
We need to be careful that we don’t forget God's faithfulness and promises!
6. Look to the future
The grim shadow of depression creates false images and impressions. Like a restless night, we think it will never end. We admit that there are many difficulties, heartaches, pain and struggles in our lifetime. Psalm 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” For some it seems worse than for others. It is easy to lose perspective when we are the ones facing difficulty. When discouraged we should look at the future:
Job did - Job 19:25-27 “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”
Jesus did - Heb. 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Paul did - II Tim. 4:7-8 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
As a Christian, we can honestly say that the future is brighter than today. We have to be careful that we don’t look only at our present distress.
“When will it ever end?” may be the cry from our hearts. I certainly cannot answer that question. We may go through depressing times that last days, months, or years. You might have chronic pain or an extended illness. But “if in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable” (I Cor. 15:19)
To overcome discouragement, we must realize that there is an eternity with God. There will be no more pain, suffering, disappointment, heartache, injustice, or tears. We will worship and enjoy God forever . . . that is our future.
7. Look at the benefits
At first glance, it would seem that there are no benefits from struggling through the realities of life that cause us discouragement and depression. Yet we find benefits listed in Scripture. Here are a few to consider:
a. Job 23:10 – you will have greater value
b. Psalm 119:67,71 – keeps you from going deeper into sin
c. Romans 5:3-5 – you develop patience, experience, and hope
d. II Corinthians 1:4 – you will have a ministry to others
e. II Corinthians 12:9 – you will experience God’s strength
f. Hebrews 5:8 – you will learn obedience
Our difficulties in life can either bind us to the point of discouragement, depression and despair or we can see how everything that touches our lives has a divine purpose. It is literally true, “No pain: no gain.”
I am not suggesting that you go out and look for circumstances so that you can experience difficulty and discouragement. They will automatically come to you! However, since we know they will come, we should look at what God can and will do in our lives when we face the inevitable hard times.
8. Look at praise
Psalm 69:29–31— 29 But I am poor and sorrowful; Let Your salvation, O God, set me up on high. 30 I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. 31 This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bull, Which has horns and hooves.
The Bible is full of praise to God . . . in all circumstances and situations. When we are discouraged, it is difficult to praise God. That is probably what we most need to do. Praise gets our focus off of our surroundings and on to God. When we truly praise God, we are not thinking of ourselves. A lot of what is termed praise today is not really praise of God. Too often, there is still a focus on what I might get out of it: a feeling, relief, or some emotional high. The Scripture calls it a “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15). The time of sacrifice is when it cost me something. The greatest cost is o truly praise God when there is nothing, humanly speaking, that would hint of praising God. But the remarkable truth is that praise of God needs to be a priority when we are discouraged. Praise precedes deliverance. Go back to “Look to God” as the beginning of a long list of what to praise God for. Praise means we truly rejoice in God. We bless God; we take pleasure in God.
9. Look to a friend
1 Thessalonians 3:2 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith,
1 Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.
When we are discouraged we need a friend, a true friend. A true friend will listen to you. They will help adjust your perspective:
· They will listen to you, help discern truth from error and reinforce the truth of God's Word to you.
· They will pray with and for you.
· They will help redirect your thoughts to the big picture and the joys of life.
· They will “lend you their faith”.
When we face discouragement and depression, we should find a friend and pour out our heart to them. Our friends become our supporting allies and will be there even though we feel as if we cannot make it. And in a worst-case scenario, where we are friendless, as believers we have a friend that sticks closer than a brother.
Final Necessary Reminders:
• Proper rest is essential
• Watch your diet
• Have a regular exercise program
• You need a diversion (hobby)
• Take time off
• Learn to say “No”
• DO NOT QUIT!!
These are the encouragements we need when we are discouraged and/or depressed. If you choose to live by these principles, you will be able to get out of depression. But you must remember that to win over depression, it is a fight and will take effort and spiritual cooperation with the Lord if we are to overcome. We are VICTORS IN CHRIST!
If you believe Victory Academy for Boys may have solutions for your struggling son or your family's discouragement, please contact us. We are hear to help. We would be thankful for the opportunity to offer a free consultation by phone. Please contact us by clicking here.
In the meantime, here are some other articles and resources you may find helpful on this subject and others.
A good book is: “Depression: Looking Up From The Stubborn Darkness” by Ed Welch
A classic book on this topic is: “Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure” by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Other Articles from Mark Massey and the Victory Academy Staff you may find helpful:
10 Suggestions to Help Stop the Yelling
Victory Academy - A Well Kept Secret for Too Long
Extinguishing the Darkness at Home
Scroll though all our articles - Click Here
Counselee: “My wife doesn’t respect me.”
Counselee: “My parents are such idiots!”
Friend: “When you’re talking with atheists, it doesn’t do any good to quote the Bible to them.”
Of course, you realize that few conversations actually work this quickly. Wisdom dictates that it take a bit longer to get from the first observation to the last.
Still, over the past ten years of family counseling I can’t remember a single situation where a counselee was perfectly innocent within a conflict. There wasn’t a single man who hadn’t provoked his children to wrath or not lived with his wife according to knowledge. I never counseled a wife who’d submitted to her husband and loved her children consistently. And -– believe it or not –- I never met a child who honored and obeyed his parents without fault.
They all had grievances, they all had mental fingers to point, they all had emotional subpoenas to deliver, they all had judgment to bear down . . . but they all had responsibility too. Each train-wrecked relationship was partially their doing. Each argument was of their own making.
The same goes for me.
And the same goes for you.
When there’s a Conflict, we’re ALL to Blame.
James 4:1-2 tells us that conflict arises because we want something and don’t get it.
“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.”
If I’m angry, annoyed, or aggravated, I’m to blame.
Luke 12:13-21 gives us a glimpse into the way Jesus handled a situation just like this:
“Someone in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’But He said to him, ‘Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?’ Then He said to them, ‘Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.’ And He told them a parable . . . .“
This guy comes to Christ hoping that Jesus will tell off his loser brother. Clearly the brother was being unloving and selfish, but instead of acknowledging the brother’s sinful choices, Jesus told a parable demonstrating that the guy in the crowd had a problem with greed.
Jesus even did this when the person before him wasn’t complaining about someone else. When two of his disciples sent their mother to tell Jesus “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left,” Jesus pointed out that their lusts caused them to miss the very important fact that while they were worried about their will, Christ was focused on supremacy of His Father.
The woman at the well tried to distract Jesus with racial and religious arguments, but He reminded her that she needed true religion.
Peter, trying to speak for God, rebuked Jesus for suggesting that He would be crucified. Jesus showed Peter that it was he who was in error.
A man just wanted to bury his father before following Christ, but Jesus showed him that his heart was in the wrong place.
The pharisees . . . well, every time Jesus interacted with them He had to show them that their motivation was only evil continually.
And the list goes on. Time and again people went to Jesus, and he showed them that their biggest problems were not their situations and surroundings, but their own self-serving hearts.
Our biggest issue, however, is not realizing that we are as much a part of the problem as everyone else it, but . . .
When there’s a Conflict, I’m the First one about whom I should be Concerned.“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5
How many times have we flown at someone, teeth-barred only to find out our content, method, or motivation were all wrong? Unbiblical arguments, unloving behavior, and selfish priorities all betray that we’re the ones with the problem. We’d better look to the log swinging out of our head before we chastise another for his splinter.
In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus informs us that worship must take a back seat to reconciliation.
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”
While in the process of worship, if I remember that a brother has been offended by something I’ve done, I need to make it right before God will be pleased by my worship.
How much worship this past Sunday was distasteful to God because the worshippers hadn’t acknowledged they had fault?
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s always about me. And it’s always about you.
In every conflict, we must look first to our own sin before trying to “fix” everyone else. Then we can be husbands that’re easy to respect, children who’re a joy to parent, and friends who rely on God’s Truth to turn the heart of men to their Creator
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Our teens often struggle with reality. In essence, reality is what is true. Reality is what is factual. When we break it down to essential and unchanging truth, we are then talking about God's truth. God's truth is eternal and unchanging. It flinches or gives way to no one. The culture continually seeks to give our teens a false reality through lies about what is real. Lies about God. Lies about his truth. Satan is behind this strategy. He always has been, since that day in the Garden of Eden. He is good at what he does. That fact coupled with youthful ignorance and our teen's easily deceived sinful heart results in bad thinking.
Whether that false reality is related to laziness, popularity, authority, sex or a hundred other things, false beliefs about reality are nothing more than Satan's lies covered with new garb. These lies about what is real, what is true, results in bad thinking. Bad thinking results in bad actions. While our hearts can be "deceitful and desperately wicked," sometimes our hearts aren't so much the issue as the thinking. Often we want to see the two as one, and it is, sort of. The Bible tells us, "as a man thinks in his heart, so is he." It seems that there is a distinction that the heart (inner man) is where man does his "thinking." That thinking is what results in the kind of man he is. It is like the thinking results in how and what values are placed on certain things. We see this distinction when new guys are placed with us at Victory Academy for Boys. Many times the teens come through our doors ticked off and despondent toward their parents. It is easy to presume that there are heart problems, and often is the case. However, upon really talking "heart to heart" with them, many want a good relationship with their parents and even with God, but they don't really think maturely about the connections of how they are thinking and the resulting impact of living out that thinking on their relationships and the corresponding trust, freedom, and honor.
"upon really talking "heart to heart" with the guys in the Academy, many want a good relationship with their parents and even with God"
As parents we often prefer what looks to be the easy way of parenting; tell the child what to do and he does it. That is simple, but only effective as long as you stand there and wield power over him. The first-time parent learns that at some point before his little man hits 2 that this method is going to begin to show serious signs of failure. Accept it and get to the work of parenting. While obedience is foundational for the early years to help establish the understanding of authority structure and crucial for gaining experience in truth, by the time you enter the double digits, the real work is figuring out how to help the child become a good thinker.
The goals that we have in our parenting need to be wrapped around helping our children fall in love with truth, and ultimately we want them to learn to love the God of Truth. 1 John 2:15 holds an interesting command, "do not love." Similarly, Deuteronomy 6:4 commands, "you shall love." The significance of this is that we (along with our children) are commanded to think a certain way so as to result in a choice to do a certain thing, a certain deep and personal thing: love. Not only are we to love, but we are to love God, and to love Him supremely! We are to love Him differently, with an intensity that forms a grid whereby we consider (think) all else to be less-- less important, less desirable.
How do we teach ourselves, much less our children to think like this (warning, this could get convicting)? The key to thinking correctly is truth. Christ taught in John 8 that he was truth, and that abiding (living) in His truth sets us free (from sin). While smoking cigarettes may look like a good thing (millions are spent to help us come to that conclusion), truth is it isn't. It may feel great to yell and scream at your child, truth is it isn't. Harboring bitterness may seem like the best way to get even, but the truth is bitterness eats at YOU. When we really see truth as the truth, we don't fall for the lies. We have to teach our teens to think TRUTH....Biblical Truth about life.
Certainly we are in a life-long process of growing a stronger trust in truth, thus choosing more often, to respond to the compulsion to love God above all else. Do we make our walk with truth and the God of Truth compelling or repelling? Do those around us see the truth we claim making our lives and our interaction with others desirable? Considering our children, how are we making truth (His Word) central in our family. Where is truth applied to our decisions throughout our day? When it is applied is it done positively so they see the desirability of the resulting fruit of righteousness? Is the power of this truth evident in a way that they are developing a passion (intense desire) for personally "owning" (taking responsibility for) truth?
To think correctly, we must come to the right conclusions of what is right, correct, true, really what is more lovable. Before you cry "simplistic," think. What we love is a choice and what we love is what we think about. The more we see truth, the more we will see its power, and the more desirable it will be. The more we learn to love it and teach or kids love it, the more they will think about it. Adding to this, the ministry of the Holy Spirit in their lives, truth begins to take permanent hold in their daily thoughts.
Give me a little liberty to paraphrase a famous Proverb (22:7) on parenting, Train up a child in truth, and he will never forget it.
If you feel that Victory Academy or Mark Massey could be of help to your family or a family you know, please let us know. Just click here.
The idea is stunning and magnificent. It’s much more significant than “the mechanic with us” or “the heart surgeon with us” or the “preschool teacher with us.”
Now, you may know a preschool teacher or a mechanic who’s a lot of fun to be around, but — generally speaking — there will come a time when they have to go. Christmas break is often enjoyable because we get to visit friends and family, but all good things must come to an end . . . before they turn sour.
Nerves quickly fray, patience wears, and — after a few days — “the fish starts to stink.”
But this tendency to “conditional fellowship” extends far beyond our earthly relationships.
“God with us” is most enjoyable during Christmas because it’s warm and festive and swaddled in cuteness. It’s desirable when I’m going through a very difficult crisis. It’s beneficial when I need advice.
But “God with us” is a problem when I want to go my own way. It’s troublesome when I don’t want to be confronted, rebuked, corrected, or chastened. Immanuel is inconvenient when I desperately want to be distracted from following Christ.
So, how does one remain stunned by the magnificent reality that God came to live with us?
The first use of the word “Immanuel” is found in the famous passage, Isaiah 7:14.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
The remainder of the chapter is not nearly as well-known, but it contains the truth we need before “God with us” can genuinely capture our hearts.
The coming Messiah was prophesied within the context of impending judgement. The nation of Israel had repeatedly rejected and sinned against God, and Isaiah 8:5-9:7 tells us why Immanuel had to come, what the consequences would be, and what our response should be.
This is why He came: “‘Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, therefore, behold, the Lord is bringing up against them the waters of the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks, and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.’”
As light reveals the darkness, “God with us” reminds us of our desperate rebellion.
And these are the consequences: “Be broken, you peoples, and be shattered; give ear, all you far countries; strap on your armor and be shattered; strap on your armor and be shattered. Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us.”
“God with us” brings judgment for our sins.
And these are the consequences: “Be broken, you peoples, and be shattered; give ear, all you far countries; strap on your armor and be shattered; strap on your armor and be shattered. Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us.”
But there was still hope. Isaiah 9:6-7 reads, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”
But “God with us” also provides reconciliation to those who need it.
How should we respond to “God with us?”
The almighty King of the universe had to be with us — not because He had nothing better to do, not because he just wanted to spend time with us — He had to come because we had rebelled and there was no other way to reconcile the relationship. We could not go to God in our sin and brokenness, but He could come to us!
That one understanding makes “God with us” infinitely more desirable than “the mechanic with us.” We need God far more than we need a mechanic. Our eternity depends on God being with us!
This realization is what makes Matthew 1:21-23 so powerful, “‘She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.’”
If I don’t need to be saved from my sins, then “God with us” is a serious inconvenience and superb monkey-wrench to my plans.
But . . . if I desperately need to be redeemed and restored, and if I’m completely incapable of fixing my broken relationship with God, then the fact that He would live among us, die for us, and rise again over us simply so that He could have a relationship with us is the most mesmerizing and glorious Truth in the universe!
Praise God that He desires to be with us!
May we equally desire to be with Him.
“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house were tensions and frustrations. What a rouse!
The hurts and offenses from long long ago seemed just under the surface. Things were ready to blow.”
Does this, in some measure, describe your family Christmas each year? Are you concerned about the gathering over the next few days? You are not alone. It isn't just your family. In fact even in the Bible we see family conflict from the first family (Cain murdered his brother Able) right on to the family of Jesus himself. If you study the families of historical heroes in the faith, missionaries and even pastors, you’ll find conflict to one degree or another. Why? We are all sinners. We irritate each other at the very best and “bite, devour and destroy one another” (Galatians 5:15) at worst.
So how do we handle tough family situations during the Holidays when it is supposed to be a time of love, joy and peace? A time to cherish the memories of each other’s company, yet it is filled with strife? Certainly there are an infinite number of situations. This post is not intended as a “cure-all” article nor do we want to minimize your family’s needs by trying to tackle them in a short blog post. However, we want to offer some basic Bible principles and a few practical ideas that may be of help.
1. Love your family. Jesus said that our love for family must be secondary to our love and devotion to him. He also said to love our enemies and those who spitefully hurt us. In order to love Jesus and honor him, we must love our families. What does this love look like though in practical terms? Does it mean we open ourselves or our children up to physical or spiritual harm? No! However, It does mean that we love biblically. Study 1 Corinthians 13 for a refresher on what this means. We suggest you seek wise biblical counsel from a pastor or godly friend for help in your particular situation especially if it is involves an abusive situation.
2. Pray. Pray for yourself. Pray that you will show grace, love, patience, mercy and reflect Christ and his actions toward those who hurt him. Pray also for the family members who cause problems. Seek God's help diligently about the whole situation through serious prayer.
3. Open neutral lines of communication. The Christmas visit probably isn't the best time to confront or rebuke. Instead, perhaps you could make an actual list of topics you can chat about which you know will be neutral. Try crafts or hunting and fishing. What about new apps you've found for your phone? Recipes, pets, new restaurants… the list could go on, but think ahead about it and write it down. Maybe write it in a note on your smartphone so you can discreetly refer to it when needed in the middle of the room or in the car.
4. Don’t preach. Again, this probably isn't the time to correct, advise or rebuke. If frustrating topics arise, do your best to suggest postponing the conversation. Have a plan of action for politely walking away. (I have to email a friend for Christmas, wrap a gift, check on the kids…) Do your part to avoid tense subjects especially if you’re prone to being a confronting type person.
5. Limit the time. Plan ahead to limit your time together. Don’t over-stay. Planning ahead allows you to politely let them know you’ll only be staying for a few hours or just for a meal. If family is coming to your house, plan something ahead that you’ll be involved in after the family visits. Invite others over at a certain time so the family members in question will need to leave etc. This is not being rude. It is planning to avoid conflict.
6. Plan activities. Perhaps you can visit a local landmark together. Go to dinner at a neutral place in public. You can plan crafts with the kids, outdoor or indoor games or watching a Christmas movie. Avoid down time where people are bored, restless or have opportunity for negative conversation and/or arguments. Keep the flow of activity moving with things that give options to keep minds and talk active with positive subjects.
7. Create Space. If possible, plan ahead for times of space for yourself and/or your family while still visiting. Maybe you’ll take the kids for some last minute shopping or to a McDonald’s Play Place. Plan a walk or run each day. Plan to call a friend for Christmas which takes you away into a private room for a short time. Bring a project to work on with the kids – a model or craft. Whatever it is. Plan ahead to create some space so tensions can ease. Space allows you and them time throughout the visit cool down.
We fully realize that these few suggestions could seem trite depending on how difficult things are for you. We hope not, but we do want you to know that we realize that the Christmas and New Year’s holidays are not always “the most wonderful time of year” and we care. If we can be of help to you or your family, please contact us and talk with us. We care and we believe the Bible can bring hope to your situation.
Learn More About How Victory Can Help Your Struggling Boy
Watch a Video about Victory Academy for Boys
Read more from Mark Massey and our Team
5 Phrases That You Can Give to Make Christmas Awesome This Year
Victory Academy for Boys - A Well Kept Secret for Too Long
Making Time to Train Your Teen Before They Are Gone
The question of this article rests with our need to be attentive to and help our children learn to choose wisely as they are being bombarded by a plethora of temptations and influences.
Deuteronomy 6 shows that biblical parents are to be attentive to the influences that impact their children. I would assume that all good parents are concerned, if not worried, about the influences that are incessantly crowding in on their children. In today’s culture (as it always has been) it is a justified concern, if not worry. Influences and temptations have been a problem since the Garden of Eden. Certainly, we can start our own list as we look at the degradation of American culture. Whether it is people, ideas, media, or Google searches, influences bombard our souls.
Take a thorough look at what influences are weighing heavily on your child’s thinking. As you work through that study, look carefully at what is revealed about his values and the motivations of his heart. You want to know the “why’s” as they reveal the real him, who he really is. I John 2:16 says that the temptations of our world are at least threefold: things that appeal to our flesh (feel good), things that appeal to our sight (look good-could be inner satisfaction), and things that appeal to our arrogance. Each of those arenas of temptation appeals to our inner-man, our heart. In this passage, the Apostle John frames the concept as our “love.” It is at the Heart level, where “loves,” motivations, and values are formulated, that you want to engage and influence them with God and His Truth.
How do we become an “influence manager” in the lives of our kids? A business manager is tasked with identifying problems and solution processes, as well as organizing and utilizing all resources to produce a stated goal or outcome for the owner. As an Influence Manager, we are working for God in the life of His child. That fact should bring us to a greater level of focus and commitment to the task of parenting. God tasks us to bring Truth to bear on our child’s thinking so the influences that they face are seen clearly for what they are. So, we want to “manage” the influences by making sure our kids have their eyes wide open to the dangers and blessings in the many “voices” that are impacting their thinking. Our goal is our children’s spiritual and physical success, which will be a result of their thinking. Lessons about influences are clearly laid out in the commands and detail of Deuteronomy 6-11.
In Deuteronomy 6 and following, we see the commands to:
Set Your Stage--
The “stage” of your own personal pursuit of Loving God with all of your heart is where your influence plays out. While it would be great to just demand that they not listen to certain influencers, that would only work in a perfect police state…so, the key is to have the opportunity (the stage) to help your son or daughter learn which influencers to listen to and ones from which to guard their hearts (see Proverbs 4:23).
Foundationally, as biblical parents, we first have to be concerned with loving (think worshipping) and obeying God ourselves. We have to make that personal choice to love God with all that we are and then live that love out in obedience to His word (commands) (v5). God’s command to love Him is the prerequisite to teaching and training your children in the same spiritual issues of obedience and worship. Honoring God is the only way you can be the influence that God has called you to be (v6-7). Otherwise, your influence is part of what is drawing them away from God. When we don’t love (worship) God and pursue obedience to Him, it is like we are smoking our own brand of flesh and then trying to tell our kids to quit smoking the brand they like…They probably won’t buy the drama…
Engage the Heart--
There is no better way to get a full, robust picture of your kids’ hearts than to spend copious amounts of time with them. A lack of time engaging our kids’ hearts often results on us forming assumption-based conclusions and corrections. Some parents worry about what their children are doing on Friday night. I have to ask why those parents aren’t doing something with their children on Friday night? You must take time to be around to see the influences. Those will be influences that you physically see and those that you see the results of in your kids’ thinking and actions.
One of the biggest struggles I hear about is that a son or daughter won’t let the parent influence him at heart level. They won’t listen to them or maybe even flat out tell them to get out of their life and leave them alone. Though I plan to give an entire article to this in the near future, the short answer is that the parent of the struggling kid often must start small with kind, loving words, then work his way up to dates and creating special events and opportunities to spend time together. It may be that you are at a place where there aren’t a lot of opportunities to say positive, heart level words. Pray for and look for opportunities to get in those positive comments and kind actions. They know they are hard to live with and you have the opportunity to show the supernatural fruit of God’s Spirit at work in you (producing patience, kindness, gentleness, etc). Proverbs 20:5 highlights the truth that we have to become wise, carefully, discerningly working to prove that we are trustworthy enough for our children to open their hearts to us. It will take time to really study your child as well as deep thinking on your part. It will take a serious investment of “you” to prove your unconditional love. It is that level of love that compels us to love and honor God and it is that same level of love that provokes a humble and loving response from our children. Understand that it may have been a long time, if you have ever seen that response from your child, but the same is true of God’s relationship with us…yet Christ was and is faithful to pursue us.
Train with the Word--
The Deuteronomy passage is crystal clear that the Words (commands) of God are to be a central part of our lives.
Challenge their Worship—We need to look for opportunities to challenge our children in positive ways regarding the temptations (by influencers) they face to worship something other than God. When we position ourselves between our kids and their influences we parent by authority (and we can find that there are influencers that we miss or can’t quite block our kids from). We can also look like we are facing off against them and the influencers become a way to get away from us. When we position ourselves beside our kids, pointing them toward God we are in a better position to influence. God lays out some of the key areas that we need to train/challenge our children to make good decisions about things that affect their worship of God. Here are three that are predominate ones in Deuteronomy (for an old-school pastoral play on words I titled them "Whine, Women, and Worldliness").
Though you may have come to this article looking for a way to control the influences that your kids face, I hope you have been drawn to a greater challenge, one that also rests at the core of our children’s (and our) greatest need; to learn to “love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” (Mathew 22:37). Becoming an Influence Manager is about coming alongside and helping our children learn to love and worship God amidst the temptations and influences of our world.
Here are more helpful articles from Victory...
Abuse. Though we read about horrible, twisted, terrible abuses happening all over our world, for most of us, to some degree, abuse has hit home with us personally. Maybe you are one of the few that have escaped hard and difficult abuse, but each one of us has been impacted in one way or another by abuse going on around us.
It is unremarkable, but the Bible speaks directly and often regarding abuse. I say it is unremarkable because the Bible speaks to all issues regarding the souls of people. Abuse is certainly a soul level issue. It shouldn’t surprise us that the Bible speaks so much about abuse.
Abusing is sin. Being abused is being sinned against.
Unfortunately, sin and being sinned against can both be quite complicated by our own sin natures as we process guilt, retribution, vengeance, fear, anger, and bitterness. Both fact and feelings can get twisted up in our souls and often further sin is the result. That sin spiral often defines who we are; we are abusers, or we are victims of abuse.
God gives us hope in His power by showing us examples in the lives of His people in Scripture and by explaining His plan for each of us as we endure His sin-cursed world.
God has given us many accounts of abuse in the pages of Scripture. The account of Joseph’s life broadly covers a life of abuse. In Genesis 37 we read of his siblings hatred and his imprisonment in a pit, threats of death, and ultimately his being sold into slavery. His dad was told he was dead, ripped to pieces by a lion. Genesis 39 picks up with Joseph being sexually harassed and ultimately assaulted by his boss’ wife. His upstanding character was maligned in that situation, which lead to him being thrown into prison for years. This account of mental, verbal, physical, and sexual abuses would lead us to expect a basket-case of bitterness, low self-esteem, and sinful/destructive coping habits. Most self-respecting psychologists would expect very little success dealing with at person with such baggage. Providentially, we have Chapter 40, which shows us a definitive resolve to all the abuse. Joseph is given power and authority over his sexual abuser and faces his brothers with absolute power over their lives. He literally has the ability to do as he wishes, being the second in command in the land of Egypt. Joseph’s worldview shined brightly as he faced his brothers with brokenness and kindness. Because he saw God as sovereign and good, he could see His hand in the details of his life, carrying him through the years and years of difficult trials for a greater purpose that was far outside of his earthly vision. There was something about his faith in The Great Creator God that allowed him to interpret the abuses in ways that refined him into a lover of God, strengthening his faith and trust, regardless of the situation. Joseph didn’t allow the abuses to define who he was and thus his future. Though we don’t have record of all the anguish and struggle of soul that he went through as he endured the years between the pit and the palace, we know the outcome. It is crystal clear. The abuses didn’t define him. They refined him. We see him successfully choosing to live God’s way, with excellence, honesty, and diligence toward all, including his abusers. He finished well, something we would never expect, considering the abuses he endured.
The Apostle Paul shows us how God can rescue an abuser and turn him into a man that lives with an effervescent love for the people of God. Acts 8:3 talks of Paul “ravaging the church, and entering house after house,” dragging men and women off to prison. In chapter 9 he was “still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” Paul had a lifestyle of murder and persecution. He hurt a lot of people. He was defined by abusing. He had a reputation that even after three years away from the public he was still not trusted. People were scared of him and rejected him (see Acts 9 and Gal 1:11-24). But God stepped in in Acts 9 and we see a miraculous enlightening of Paul’s eyes to the truth of who God is. At that point, Paul could have crawled away into depression and despondency or he could have pressed on, rejecting God and hurting people (if God would have allowed that, which Paul preached concerning God’s limitations on our lives in Acts 17). While we might like a blinding light in the road and a voice from heaven, we have been given the amazing, enlightening Word of God in the Bible and an army of ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Co 5:10ff) that God has empowered to share the Word with us as we go through the abuses we face. With the power of God convicting him and cleansing him, Paul was able to move past the abusing and become refined into one of the most passionate and loving men of the Bible, impacting thousands throughout the regions of the Mediterranean.
The key to breaking the defining cycle and allowing God to refine us through the fires of abuse is three-fold. The first is to run to the foot of the Cross. Each of us must submit to Christ and cry out to Him for protection and wisdom. Considering our weakness, we really have no hope in ourselves. King David wrote Psalm after Psalm depicting his trust in God for protection and rescue from abusive people that were out to malign and kill him (Psalm 2, 3, 4…). Romans 8 is a great chapter to study out on the freedom we have in Christ. It culminates in verses 38 and 39; “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We must learn to put our hope in Christ whether we are in the pit or the palace. We need to be refined in the hard times, understanding that He alone can be the security and peace that we so long for.
Second is to immerse yourself in the Word. There is no substitute. Our minds are traps, trapping in all sorts of pieces of information and then processing that information, putting value and priority on each piece. Psalm 19 and Psalm 119 lay out the power of the Word to impact our thinking and our actions. The Word is a light to our paths regardless of how dark they are (Ps 119:105). Proverbs 4:23 commands us to guard our hearts (souls) with all diligence. We need to filter out the stuff that clogs up and degrades our thinking. Psalm 119:9 and Ephesians 5:26 talk about the cleansing effect of the Word. Without the Word flowing often and deep in our thinking, we are prone to believe things that aren’t true and make decisions based on our feelings. Believing lies and making decisions based on feelings are two cardinal, entrapping flaws that too often dominate our lives. The Word illuminates truth and lies and provides wisdom to know what to do in the situations we face.
Third is to connect with biblically solid people that will speak into your life. Second Corinthians 5 teaches about the ministry of reconciliation that God has given to all true believers in Christ. As ministers of reconciliation, we are to be at the work of urging others to live with clear, clean relationships with God and others (2 Co 5:18-20). Two things happen when we connect with biblically solid people. They challenge and sharpen us with encouragement and admonition and we challenge and sharpen them. Romans 15:14 reminds us that each of us are able to minister Truth to one another. A study of the One Another commands is revealing and convicting as they paint a picture of people ministering to (caring for) one another. When we look at the church we should see people caring for one another, connecting with one another to encourage and admonish each other. For those involved with abuse, the church should be a group of people that connect by taking time with each other, talking biblically together about real issues, praying together, and walking through the hard things together.
Run, Immerse, Connect; the three-fold key to breaking the defining cycle of abuse and experiencing freedom in the refining process God has orchestrated to prepare us for His glory in the Kingdom of Heaven that is to come.
Sinful sexuality has likely existed since shortly after the Fall of Man, and though nearly every ancient culture has embraced sexual debauchery on a national scale, America is relatively new to the practice.
The Sexual Revolution that started in the 1920’s primarily affected the lower class and fringe citizens. Promoted by those fighting for their right to get drunk, this dingy, back-room thinking was still considered base and dirty by the average American. Young people were easily sheltered from its effects.
However, the Sexual Liberation of the 1960’s had a different impact. Even though they focused on more extreme forms of sexuality, they managed to force their beliefs into a much wider slice of mainstream thinking. There wasn’t a class or demographic that wasn’t affected by the shifting tide of sexual thought. This made it far more accessible and culturally acceptable — especially to young people.
But the Sexual Explosion of the 2000’s hasn’t merely pile-driven its way into the majority of American homes . . . it’s highjacked our families. Today, sinful sexuality is not only considered acceptable by the majority of teens and young adults, but it’s the practical life-blood of our culture. In fact, to reject the Sexual Explosion’s teachings is to be considered abnormal, intolerant, and worthless.
At every turn our children are being led to believe that lifestyles that were once viewed as perverted and/or sinful for thousands of years are now the generally accepted norm. And it only took less than 50 years to do it.
What’s the danger our children are facing, and what can we parents do about it?
A number of years ago I predicted on Facebook that if homosexuals won the legal right to “marry,” people with all sorts of aberrant sexual fantasies would come begging for their piece of the pie. I proposed that gay “marriage” would be remembered by history as little more than the gateway drug for a dynamic sexual explosion in America. And though I had gay-rights advocates booing my prophecy, it took less than a year for my prediction to come true. But now, given the massive push in transgenderism, I believe we need to broaden our predictions and consider the implication all of this will have on our families. I believe that — barring an act of God — your children will see the following forms of sexuality legalized (or at least generally accepted) in their lifetime.
So, what does this mean for our families?
Lord willing, these predictions will be wrong. We’ll see. But I don’t think so.
Consider Romans 1:24-32, “God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”
At the same time, we need to hold on to sanctified optimism. God can do anything and everything He sees fit. We’ve seen great spiritual awakening and revival many times in this nation. Perhaps the Lord will see fit to use His people to affect such a change before we die. That would be amazing, and I’d be happy to be proven wrong. Remember, this prediction can only come true “barring an act of God.” May we all be used as that act of God. Of course, today the real concern is not what the world is going to do, but what we need to do to prepare our children for the attack. Even if the predictions above don’t come true in our children’s lifetime, there are more than enough sexual attacks barraging them. How do we prepare our three year old, our thirteen year old, and yes, even our twenty-three year old?
Here are the two most powerful suggestions I can give you.
1. Talk about Biblical Sexuality Early and Often.
For decades, the “birds and bees” was an awkward discussion had in an awkward way at an awkward time because no one wanted to deal with it — and they didn’t really know how. May I say, that was an atrocity. In fact, I’m going out on a limb to say that parents not talking about sexuality from a biblical perspective early and often helped to lay the groundwork for the Sexual Revolution. Christian parents weren’t telling theirs kids about sex, so the world did it for them. This — in turn — led to the Sexual Explosion of the new millennium. However, I do understand our hesitancy. The idea of introducing a potentially destructive thing like sexuality into the pure mind of an otherwise innocent child is petrifying.
But it’s also a lie. None of the things I wrote above are actually true. The first and worst claim I made was that sexuality is an impure, destructive entity. Sexuality is just like everything else in this world — it was created to be a perfect and beautiful part of the human experience, but sin has corrupted it. Yes, it can be used to destroy, but when we scare kids into thinking that sex is wicked, we’re lying to them about how God created them and the plan He has in store for them.
Another major lie of which we try to convince ourselves is that our children’s minds are “pure.” Our children’s minds aren’t pure. They’re full of selfish lusts. And if we define “pure” as free of sexual thoughts, we will be surprised that they’re not pure in that context either. God created us to be sexual beings within the right relational context, and we’re not 100% certain when those drives and desires kick in. For some children, they start thinking sexual thoughts around puberty, but for others it can happen as early as kindergarten or sooner. I’m not even referring to the sexual thoughts that have been imposed from the outside. I’m just discussing the natural desires and thoughts that organically arise in a child’s mind because they’re human. I know that’s daunting to consider, but we mustn’t fool ourselves into thinking they are “innocent” just because they’re young. I think most of us just need to pause and try to remember our first sensual thoughts.
The third lie I spoke was the idea that I’ll be the first one to introduce sexuality to my children. That’s impossible. It doesn’t matter if you homestead in Montana, there will always be husbands and wives who kiss, babies being born, barn dances, and countless other looks, posturing, films, songs, and books that hint at, flirt with, and subconsciously point to the sexual reality in all human beings. Please, do not avoid the topic of sexuality with your kids because you don’t want to be the first to sully their pristine minds with wicked thoughts of sex. None of that is true. I’ve been introducing sexuality to my children since they were old enough to understand language. The key isn’t whether to deal with it, the key is how. And as long as you deal with it biblically, there’s plenty of material in the Bible itself, and plenty more material that was founded on it. As an example, you can’t get through the first few chapters of Genesis before you encounter men, women, nakedness, marriage, sex, sin, shame, and child-bearing. Allow the Scriptures to be your starting point as you train your children in God’s Word.
But there are also great resources that provide a script.
2. We need to encourage others to talk about it early and often.
Not only has Christian culture convinced us that we shouldn’t talk about sexuality with our kids, many people have totally outlawed anyone talking to our kids about sexuality. I’ve preached in Christian schools where sexuality was completely off the table for anyone — including the teachers and pastors in the school. I’ve met parents who refuse to send their children to purity conferences like the ones that evangelist Ben Schettler organizes. This is a travesty! We need trustworthy men and women speaking Truth into our children’s lives. Why would we forbid them from addressing this topic? Because we’re afraid. But God has not given us a spirit of fear. He’s provided us a spirit of love and a sound, mature mind. Yes, we need to be wise, but why do we shy away from this topic? The world is pushing it down their throats!
I live in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, fifteen minutes past nowhere. I need to drive 45 minutes into another state to get to the closest Walmart. And yet, my family has seen all of the following while at Walmart: teens making out, homosexual couples, a man dressed as a woman, magazines featuring pictures and words all about sex, music that discusses sex, posters, movies, books, calendars, games, and makeup advertisements using sex to sell. And we were only there for 45 minutes! If you take your child to Barnes and Noble, swing through the children’s section, and head straight to the cash registers, your kids will see a number of things, not the least of which is a Playboy magazine sitting right at their eye level when the reach the check-out.
We must not fail our children in providing them a substantial, foundational, unmovable, and unashamedly biblical groundwork for sexuality. We need to speak that truth into their lives, and we need to enlist other God-fearing men and women to do the same.
This is why, every year, we take the students at Victory Academy on a week long snowshoe retreat. During that retreat we discuss God’s plan for satisfaction, and we relate it to everything from food to money to sexuality. We’re doing everything we can to help parents in the daunting task of training their children to understand God’s plan for sexuality. We’re also creating a sexual addictions curriculum to help everyone break the chains of sin in their lives.
If we’re not careful, Christians will lose this battle. But we’ll only lose it because we’re ill-equipped and afraid. The world system has all of its bullet-points orchestrated perfectly with its entertainment system to keep their philosophy of sex ever before your children . . . regardless of the age. Homosexuality, transgenderism, pornography, polygamy, incest, pedophilia, and bestiality are just some of the issues your children are and will be faced with in every imaginable venue. But the Bible offers everything we and our children need for life and godliness. It exposes us to genuine, all-consuming satisfaction the world cannot counterfeit. Hope lies in God’s Truth.
Train up your children in God’s Word to prepare them to successfully meet the temptations of the world.
For specific help for the sexual temptation attacking your home, here are some resources:
Victory Academy for Boys is a boarding school that specializes in ministering to boys who are engaged in sexual sin.
Victory Academy for Boys produces the Victory Digest, which is a compilation of articles and links to various parenting materials that help parents think and parent from a biblical worldview.
Victory Academy for Boys produces Parent.Point, which is our monthly blog of helpful articles written by our staff.
WildHeart Adventure Camp is a Christian adventure camp devoted to teach young men how to have a passion for God and adventure. We take three weeks to train our campers in three core areas: spirit, skills, and service.
I host a podcast called Truth.Love.Parent. We discuss everything you can imagine when it comes to God and family. Many of our episodes deal with sexuality. You can click here to subscribe to TLP on iTunes, or you can click on the individual episodes below to listen to them in iTunes.
Of course we do not claim to speak for God. However, by application, we can weave the truths of Scripture into what a letter from God might look like if written to the parent of a teen son who is struggling in his relationship with God.
We encourage you to read this and then study for yourself the scriptures mentioned and let God speak to and encourage your heart.
Dear Mom or Dad,
Don’t be afraid, I am with your son. I know when he sits down and when he gets up, when he goes out and when he comes in. I formed him and made him. I understand him even though you may not. (Psalms 139) In my time and in my ways, I will strengthen him. I will help him. I will uphold him with my righteous right hand. (Isa 41:10 and Isaiah 55:8-9) I am working every detail of his life out for his good and for my glory (Romans 8:28 and Ephesians 1:11) because I loved him before you did.
I love him with an everlasting love. While he was yet in sin, I sent my son, Jesus, to die for him. (Jerimiah 31:3 and Romans 5:8) I have laid a burden on your heart to suffer for him, pray for him, and love him. That burden you feel, it is from me. It is my Spirit leading you to love and care for his soul. I have begun a good work in him, I have lead you to love, care and pray for him and therefore it is right for you to expect that I will finish the work I started in him. (Philippians 1)
When my Spirit is leading you in prayer, he prays in deep ways that even you can’t understand, but touch the depths of my heart for your son. You may not know how to pray for your son according to my will, but he does. (Romans 8:26-27) Remember that my Spirit is at work in him even though you may not always see evidence of it. He is working to convince him of his sin, of my righteousness and that judgement is real. At the same time my Spirit is working to remind him of the free gift of salvation and a changed life through my son. (John 16:8)
I am the good Shepherd. I will look after him. When he goes astray, I will pursue him and bring him back. (Psalms 23 and John 10) You and I are coworkers together in this process. (1 Corinthians 3:9) but I am the source of his spiritual life, so let me do my work. Stay sensitive to my leading. Don’t get ahead of me, don’t lose your cool, be patient, firm, loving and continue to point him toward the truth in the Bible. Don’t get weary in the work. Your effort is not in vain. I am using you in his life even if you can’t see it right now. (Galatians 6:9 and 1 Corinthians 15:58)
Thank you for loving your son. I love him too even more than you do. Trust me even if it gets worse before it gets better. Once things got bad with my son, Jesus. He didn’t do anything wrong of course, but things did get worse before they got better. They did get better though and now everyone knows the plan was perfect. It will be perfect in your situation too. My way is always perfect. It is always good and it is always loving. (Psalms 18:30)
More from Victory Academy for Boys...
We see often see in Scripture the saints of God in times of suffering. Adam and Eve suffered the murder of their son by his own brother. Job suffered the loss of almost all he had. The faithful Christians in Revelation suffered and even in Heaven seem to question why they were not being avenged for their suffering. Hebrews 11 has a whole list of suffering saints. We are faced with the question of why God’s children suffer if an all-powerful God loves and cares for them. Though that seeming dilemma is not the point of this article, a few quick notes may lead you to further help and study.
1. Sin. We live in a sin-cursed world. Romans 8:22 reminds us that all Creation groans because of sin. In addition, the consequences of our own personal sin often bring pain. The sins of others can bring heartache, too.
2. Strangers. We are strangers in this world. Hebrews 11:13 reminds us that this world is not our home. This is not our place of rest. We can’t expect to be too comfortable here. Heaven is our resting place.
3. Sons. We are sons of God. Therefore God, as a loving Father, brings suffering at times to discipline us in order that it may yield the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” in our lives (Hebrews 12).
4. Satan. Job 1 allows us to see that Satan and his minions are allowed by God to bring about hard times for God’s children in order to bring glory to God. Always remember though, that God’s glory and the good of his children are eternally bound together. Our good does not suffer to bring God glory.
5. Selfishness. Although a derivative of #1 above, it still should be mentioned, because the selfishness of those we love (as well as those we don’t even know) can cause great pain.
So, Here Are The 5 Ways We Can Learn to Give Thanks Even When Life Is Hard
1. Relinquish control to God’s sovereign plan, knowing that He is never out of control. Even with the problem of sin and evil, God overrules and works all things for our good as we become more like Christ.
2. Rest in God’s wisdom and love. God is all-wise. He knows the end from the beginning and is always acting in love toward us, His children. We often cannot see that when in suffering, yet we can understand it when we compare parenting to God’s love. As a parent allows a non-understanding, crying baby to undergo surgery, an immunization shot, or other pain for ultimate healing or good, so God does the same. As the parent would not love the child if he/she stopped the pain, so God would not fully love us if He did not allow what was best.
3. Run to His Word. God’s Word, the Bible, contains “all things that apply to life and godliness.” We open it to find the truths we need, and we depend upon His Spirit to lead us in applying it to our situation and to our hearts personally.
4. Reach out to others. In the midst of our pain, it is helpful to serve others. Serving helps us get our focus off of our suffering. It is an encouragement to know that we have helped others and been used by God to bring joy to them. Even during Jesus’ suffering on the cross, He was mindful of His mother’s needs.
5. Share your burden. Don’t substitute fellowship with others for time with God; but if at all possible, find a close Godly friend who will faithfully listen and point you back to God’s truth when your faith begins to waiver. Confide in your church family to find healing and strength. God works through the body of Christ, the church. If you don't have a church home, we would love to fellowship with you and strive to encourage you during these hard times.
If you feel that Victory Academy may be part of the solution for your family or if you just need some Biblical advice on struggling teens, we are here to help. Contact us.
Other Articles and Info you may be interested in:
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10 Conversation Starters for You and Your Teen
Why We All Need Counseling
Victory Academy for Boys - A Well Kept Secret For Too Long
Victory Family Ministries
We're a group of folks who love helping teens and families. We also love learning and sharing what God has taught us in our over 50 cumulative years of working with families and teens.