Failure. It happens to everyone. Young or old, rich or poor, new Christian or seasoned Saint, there is no one who doesn’t find themselves humbled and grieved because of their own failure or the failure of someone they love. However, there is great hope. For the true child of God who has a real relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, failure is NEVER final. There are five reasons for this, and they are all wrapped up in the person and work of God through His Son Jesus Christ.
1. Failure is never final for the Christian because of His precious blood. Jesus died by shedding His sinless blood so that He could be the substitute for us. Christ took the wrath of God His Father upon Himself so that we could be forgiven. Because of this sacrifice, God promised restoration, cleansing, forgiveness, and mercy. Of course, Christians are already declared totally righteous for all eternity, but those of us who are believers still find ourselves in need of asking God’s forgiveness throughout this life. Our failures, accidental or purposeful, hinder our walk with God, and we need restoration, just as we do in earthly relationships when failure divides. 1 John 1:7-9 reminds us that “if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” John goes on to declare that if we try to hide or deny our failures, we are liars; but, if we confess our sin to him, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sin, bringing about greater holiness and restoration.
2. Failure is never final for the Christian because of His power. Ephesians 3:20 declares that we should thank and praise God because He is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” God has promised His power to help us sustain a godly life. Even when we feel totally defeated and discouraged, His power is greater and can do far above what we feel can be accomplished in and through us. In addition, 2 Peter 1:3 reminds us that God’s power is given to us so that we have everything we need to overcome failure and live a godly life. Yes, we fail, but God’s power never allows us to live consistently in a state of sinful failure. His power saves us from a life of failure!
3. Failure is never final for the Christian because of His punishing. In Hebrews 12, we are reminded that any true child of God who fails and then refuses to return to the Father will be pursued by God and disciplined, just as a loving father disciplines his children in order to draw them back to a right pattern of living.
4. Failure is never final for the Christian because of His plan. Romans 8:28-31 is encouraging, because God states that all things are working together to cause us to be more like Christ. Life is like a giant puzzle with infinite pieces, each of which is needed, and all of which come together to accomplish God’s plan. Some of those pieces even include our failures. God, although never responsible for our failures, mercifully allows our failures to strengthen us for the future and make us more conformed to the image of His Son. The book of Romans also reminds us that when sin increases and failure happens, grace always increases more and overcomes our failures (Romans 5:20). Knowing all this, even in the face of failure, we reach the same conclusion as the divinely inspired Apostle Paul. Writing in Romans 8:31-33, he states, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies.” If all that weren’t enough encouragement in the face of failure, we can also rely on this promise of God in Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” No, God is not ever going to leave His children helpless in a state of failure. He has promised to save us from (not in) our sinful failures (Matt. 1:21).
5. Failure is never final for the Christian because of His presence. Hebrews 13:5 gives us yet another promise for our failure: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Often in failure we feel that God is angry and frustrated with us, and we may even feel forsaken or deserted by God. On the contrary, like the analogy of God our Father and the father in the story told by Jesus of the prodigal son in Luke 11:15-32, God eagerly awaits to forgive and restore us.
If you have failed and are discouraged, or if someone whom you love has failed, there is hope in Jesus Christ! Failure is never final for the Christian.
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7 Biblical Ways to Be the Best Parent You Can Be.
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Victory Academy for Boys - A Well Kept Secret For Too Long
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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
For the Christian, Christmas is the grand celebration of the Glory of God coming down to earth. While it is quite natural to focus in on the humble baby in the manger, the grace of God displayed in the Creator humbling Himself to take on human flesh for the sake of a world of sinners like us should overwhelm the manger scene. The irony of the Splendor of Heaven leaving His throne to take on the confines of human flesh drive us to exalt (glorify) the God of all for His amazing grace. That said, the glory of God is one of the most challenging concepts for us mere mortals to comprehend. Throughout the Old Testament Scriptures we see snapshots of God’s glory in relationship to His physical splendor and righteous character. Those glimpses of God compel us trust and obey. Yet in those Old Testament accounts of do’s and don’ts it is easy for us to lose focus on the core character of God.
God is more than just the things He does. However, when we look at the motivations behind what He does, we get a glimpse of His nature, who He really is. The Apostle John lived with Jesus and watched Him build relationships and minister truth to people, and he recorded in 1 John 4:8 that “God is love.” In a very real way, the more we understand His love for us, the more we are driven to love Him. That is a foundational truth that can compel us to keep the Great Command to “love the Lord your God with all your heart….” Sharing our hearts is how we build strong relationships. It is super valuable to clearly understand who God is in His core nature. That is a concept that, given our broken mess of a darkened spiritual condition, can only be grappled with by looking at the Light of Life, Jesus of Nazareth.
Though before Jesus was born into human flesh, the Incarnation, we had record of how God acted and what He felt, it was Jesus becoming the Living Word in the flesh that opened the door, bringing the Light of Truth to our darkened understanding of who God is and gave us an in the flesh example of the loving nature of God Himself. As we look at Jesus’ life and how He handled the mundane judgments and decisions of daily life, we see the amazing grace of God’s heart. We literally got to see how God would live life as a human.
The Gospels record Jesus’ teachings on a number of daily life issues and His teachings are hard, counter-intuitive in some ways, yet starkly revealing God’s heart as He deals with man. His first sign miracle was recorded in John 2; he turned the water into wine at the wedding party. In that act, God in the flesh showed grace in the mundane daily needs at a family party. He cared about the simple things that his mother thought were important. So, how does God respond to our mundane daily needs? It appears that He cares enough to do something about them.
In John 4 we have another great picture as Jesus heals the official’s son. After listening to the official’s heartache over the imminent loss of his son, in an act of God’s amazing grace, Jesus heals him. Jesus is gracious to us in the heartaches and losses of life. That is great news for each of us as we have heartache and loss scattered throughout our lives.
The third picture is of Jesus’s glorious grace is found in John 8, where the scribes and Pharisees bring an adulteress woman to Jesus to try to trick Him into breaking Roman law and proclaiming that she should be killed (according to Jewish law), thus also showing him to be harsh and condemning. The game backfired on them as Jesus merely squats down and writes something in the sand. One by one the accusers leave and Jesus tells the woman to go on with life and stay out of sin. This record reveals that, even in the face of sinful people caught up in sinful situations, Jesus came to earth not to condemn, but to save (John 3:17). In this account we also see that Jesus came to deal with heart issues. Obviously Jesus was also concerned that the sinner turn away from the physical sin, but His focus was on the heart needs of the men that brought the woman to him. They were willing to sacrifice the woman to “get” Jesus. Two great truths can be gleaned here. God reads our hearts and convicts us on to make righteous choices.
Jesus’ glorious grace, displayed in human form, was the ultimate act of God’s gracious love for us. We rejoice in His birth, His life, His death, and His resurrection. His grace is displayed in our salvation and our sanctification. Someday we will be the ultimate display of His grace in our glorification (Eph. 1-3) in Heaven! Praise our glorious God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who came to show us His grace in the mundane, daily struggles of life. He came to show us how to glorify Him through the heartaches of loss. In the ultimate revelation of His grace, on the cross He was glorified to take on our sin and pay the price of our condemnation so we could glorify God with freedom from the bondage of sin.
How then, like the Apostle Paul, will we “live Christ” in our interactions with those we love? Will we meet out grace in our correction of sin in our children? Will we respond with humble grace in that relationship that has, so far, evoked anger and bitterness or disappointment? Will we reflect the Light of Life by graciously loving those around us, thus provoking them to see the glorious grace of our loving Lord?
Soli Deo Gloria! Glory to God Alone!
In my reflections on the 25 years of ministering here at Victory, I have great memories. I remember former students who have called my cell phone and just wanted to check in with me and see how I was doing. Once, after many years, a student from my second year here visited us. He, his wife, and baby girl were such a blessing. We had lunch, talked about their ministry and walk with God. Those calls, from Chicago and Utah, and the visits from former students brought me face to face with what Victory is all about. We are building relationships that go deep, reaching the hearts. We love these guys, really. The natural product of those relationships is heart influence. As Scripture is wrapped around the daily life here at Victory, their view of life is challenged and biblical answers are found to be true. That impacts the foundation of their worldview. That reveals the cracks in their self-focused worldview and brings light to the solid foundation of the biblical worldview. That impacts the inner man, the heart, life. As they see themselves as sinners in need of a savior, we then begin to show them the value of Christ and His work on the cross. When they see that at heart level, real growth of heart begins, life changes.
We have seen such good fruit in reaching the hearts of struggling young men that as I reflect, my adrenaline begins to flow and my focus is narrowed. Deep relationships have the ability to produce long-term influence and good fruit. Why I sometimes forget the sureness of the biblical sowing and reaping principle puzzles me. It puzzles me because one would think that by now I should recognize that correctly applying the Word of God produces good fruit. After all, good fruit is what those who are in Christ were designed to produce (Eph. 2:10). That is what God is in the business of doing in us. We recognize that we don’t see that fruit in every boy we work with, which reveals that our relationships didn’t get as deep as we wanted them to get. However, even with those we often see in the later years when they do finally grow up and commit themselves afresh to God, they call back and want us to pray, and they want to visit.
I have had the opportunity to work with well over a hundred young men in my time here. Many of those have gone on to succeed in life as policemen, firemen, missionaries, faithful employees, and great husbands and fathers. Today, in the day to day struggles of ministering to the guys we see little rays of hope as the light of the Word is shined on their hearts. That is what Victory is all about. We press on, influencing, reaching into one heart at a time, and seeing God work His work of changing lives from darkness to light.
Take some time to spend with your teen but don't just watch a movie or play a video game, TALK. Grab some coffee at Starbucks, go fishing, take a drive, go shopping or just take them out for their favorite meal.
Here are some conversation starters to help deepen the communication and make the time more meaningful.
1. Name three things you wanted as a kid but never got.
2. What was the happiest day of your life so far and why?
3. What is the dumbest purchase you ever made?
4. Which is better to you, $100 Million or true love?
5. If you wrote a book about your life, what would the title be? Why?
6. What kind of church do you think you’ll go to when you’re older?
7. What’s an area you feel I need to work on as a parent?
8. What’s the most difficult thing in the Bible for you to believe?
9. A Bible verse that has really stuck out to me lately is…
10. What friend has had the most impact on your life for God? Why?
So there are a few ideas to get you started. Make sure to make the questions / starters work both ways. Remember communication is a two-way street.
What other conversation starters have you found to work with your teens that may help other parents?
Leave a comment below or on Facebook.
Here are some other Parent Point Posts you may be interested in:
Making Time to Train Your Teen Before They're Gone.
Rules Without Relationship Equals Rebellion.
What Do Your Kids Think?
Click here to download a report on 10 Things Parents Often Miss in Raising Teens .
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.
Have you ever been yelled at as an adult? Maybe it was in traffic or when you accidentally spilled something on a brute at a ball game. Whatever the situation, how did it make you feel? Did you feel your face get red? Were you embarrassed or angry? After the fact, even hours later, did you feel vengeful or keep thinking of things you could have or should have yelled back at the person? Now, rewind to the last time you yelled at your child. Do you think they feel much differently? Do you think raising your voice or using harsh words helps or hurts the relationship with young people?
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:29-32, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (30) And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (31) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (32) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
There is powerful truth in this passage regarding communication in general especially at home, but let’s focus for now on the word “clamor” in verse 21. The word comes from a word that means to croak (as a raven) or scream that is, shriek, cry (out). This unfortunately describes most every one of us as parents at one time or another in the way we speak to our kids. We lose control because we had a long day, our kids get under our skin, they disobey or disrespect one too many times and instead of responding firmly in love, we respond firmly in anger, clamor and evil speaking. Instead of solving the problem, we makes it worse.
Here are 10 suggestions for dealing with yelling and/or its aftermath.
1. If you’re guilty, make it right. If you know you’ve been wrong in this area, let your child know you were wrong, you feel badly about it and you are going to take steps to correct this issue. This may be difficult, but it will help you and your child. Make sure you also go to the Lord and ask for forgiveness and help as well. He will not only forgive us but strengthen us to overcome our sin. (I John 1:9)
2. Communicate with your child in age appropriate ways that you struggle with anger and yelling at times. Let them know you are praying for victory and ask for their help. Let them know what actions cause you to struggle more. Don’t blame them or make them feel your sin is their fault (it’s not) but communicate that their actions do make a difference.
3. Give advance warning when possible to avoid the yelling. Let your child know that their actions are elevating your emotions in a negative way and that you feel like you’re going to explode. Let them know when possible that you both need to work to defuse the situation immediately.
4. Pray. Ask God right there in the heat of the moment to give you strength to control your words and voice. Step away and cool down if possible.
5. Envision a stage. God sees your actions, but imagine that a group of your peers or co-workers are watching you and your child on a stage. Would your yelling embarrass you in front of them? Perhaps it will help to envision them as being there.
6. Remember you are the parent. Yelling and warring with words reduces your level of authority and respectability. You are the adult. Remember to act like one. When you yell, it makes it easier for your child to yell back because you seem more like a sibling or peer.
7. Memorize this passage of Scripture together with your child. Agree that it is wrong for both of you to participate in these sins of words and voice. A joint memorizing project will help with accountability and relationship building. Ps. 119:11 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”
8. Have your husband or wife help. Be accountable to someone regarding your words and voice. A husband or wife it perfect. If that doesn’t fit in your particular situation, ask your pastor, pastor’s wife or a close friend to keep tabs on you and ask how you’re doing weekly. Ask them to pray with you about the struggle.
9. Thank the Lord your child is safe and healthy. There have been times I felt myself becoming irritated with my child and feeling like exploding. It helped to envision them sick or hurting and thank the Lord that they were actually ok, safe and well. This filled me with more compassion and thankfulness which helped defuse the anger and tone down the situation.
10. Read a good book on Words. A new book is currently available by Paul Tripp called “War of Words.” You can order it here and watch a short helpful video here.
So is there ever a reason to yell? Sure. Perhaps to get attention, to create urgency or emphasis, but yelling with sinful anger is never good. Like any sin, it always makes things worse.
If you feel that Victory Home for Boys may be of help to you in your situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We have been working with struggling teen boys and their families since 1983.
So you found porn on your son’s smartphone or computer, now what? Here are 6 things to remember and some ideas on how to guide him through this struggle.
1. Remember that God’s grace and mercy are always greater than sin. “Where sin abounds, Grace abounds much more.” Romans 5:20. You and your son are not alone in this situation. Reminding your son that this is sinful is not enough. Reminding him that there is hope for the sinner, forgiveness and victory in Christ is the complete story.
2. Remember not to over-react. Parents and moms in particular are often outraged, disgusted and hurt when they discover their son is looking at pornography. This is normal and expected however, it is important to realize that screaming, belittling, embarrassing and/or other such tactics only serve to separate your son from one of his chief allies in this fight… you. Temper your disgust and hurt with a cooperative understanding spirit which leaves the door open to accountability and trust. If your son can trust you with talking about his struggles, you can work through this together. Some parents have even found after the initial confrontations that their son was more open to accountability and discussion when future “how ya doin with this” conversation was through texting or while driving so as to avoid awkward face to face conversation. A good verse to remember is “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. “– Galatians 6:1 (ESV)
3. Remember you may need help in this fight from a pastor or strong godly mentor. Particularly if you’re a single mom or even as a dad, you may find that helping your son find someone who he feels comfortable talking with and staying accountable with regarding his struggles is important. It may be just too awkward for him to confide in you. Your role may be more one of keeping him in touch with his godly mentor on a regular basis.
4. Remember that the real problem is a spiritual issue. Yes of course there are raging hormones, pressure from our culture, his friends and so on, but more than anything, he needs his heart to be changed and strengthened by God and his Word through the Holy Spirit. As a parent you can help in this process. You can start a Bible study with him, have prayer with him on a regular basis and help him guard his heart. (We’ll discuss resources shortly.)
Rick Thomas, Founder and President of The Counseling Solutions Group, Inc in upstate South Carolina talks about discipling a young man struggling with porn.
While I would want to disciple my children on the sin of pornography–if they were into porn, I would want to disciple them through the deeper and more insidious problems that are going on–the things that feed the porn.
I cannot over-emphasize this: our behaviors flow from our hearts and if our hearts are not shepherded toward Christ, then the kid does not have a chance.
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. – Luke 6:43-45 (ESV)
Some of the more insidious issues of the heart are the following:
Slothfulness - the child is lazy, meaning that he is using sex to satisfy himself rather than sex being a beautiful thing that God designed. Sex is not primarily for him, but for his future wife. He is lazy. He is not interested in what God says.
You will find laziness at the root of a lot of what the child does. Laziness is not a singular tributary out of the soul. Laziness will touch many things in this child’s life. Begin to carefully examine his whole life and you’ll find pockets of laziness in other places, not just how he thinks about and behaves toward sex.
Dishonoring - More than likely the child knows he is dishonoring his parents, but he does not care. He wants what he wants. Like laziness, you’ll also find this “dishonoring worldview” popping up in other areas of his life.
If his dishonoring attitude is not taken care of now, there will be many other repercussions in his future, e.g. how he thinks about and works for his future employer and how he loves and serves his future wife are just two examples.
Deceit/lying - He is lying and living in a lie. This is one of the more heinous sins. When a person lives a lie, then it is difficult to know if anything he says or does is the truth. Lying and deceit in a relationship will destroy a relationship.
One of the reasons we love God so much is because He always tells the truth. We can assuredly know where we stand with Him. You cannot ever be sure where you stand with a person who lies.
Self-righteousness - Porn is a form of self-righteousness. The self-righteous person has a greater than/better than attitude. Porn is the devaluing of women. The porn user is “using” women to satisfy his own selfish cravings.
Self-centeredness - As you might deduce, self-centeredness is the center of the porn users worldview. Whatever is in the center of his life is what defines him. This is who the son really is. Being self-centered will creep into every single facet of this person’s life.
Ignorance - Part of why he is not trusting God, choosing rather to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, is because there is something he does not understand about God. There is a level of ignorance working in his life. You can find this kind of life portrayed by the life of the fool in Proverbs.
These are merely a sample of some of the things that have been going on in the kid’s heart–things that have led to his pornography use. As the parents insightfully talk to him, they will find other sinful categories working in his heart too. They will need to carefully unpack him so the roots of porn can be eliminated.
5. Remember to set safe guards in place to help prevent more access and failures.He may promise not to fail again, but the temptation is strong. It is best to look at ways to prevent access. Furthermore, ti is best that this “access prevention” is not done as a punishment, but in the spirit of working together to solve the problem. Taking away the smartphone or computer is only a short term solution and probably isn’t the solution at all. In the long run these devices are not going away. He needs to be taught how to have access to these devices but not submit to the temptations they bring.
Probably the best solution we can recommend is to put a filter on his smartphone and computer. We recommend Covenant Eyes. (www.covenanteyes.com) This filter is affordable and works well. There are several levels of protection. You can choose what is right for your son. (It may not be a bad idea to use this for the whole family.)
6. Remember that only God can change his heart. Pray for him diligently and wait patiently on the Lord to do the heart work only he can do. Yes, you can disciple, find mentors, accountability, and add filters, but only God can change the heart.
If you feel that we can be of help here at Victory Academy for Boys, please don’t hesitate to contact us. This is a struggle that we have worked through with many many young men.
In Finally Free, Dr. Heath Lambert, a leader in the biblical counseling movement, lays out eight gospel-centered strategies for overcoming the deceitful lure of pornography. Each chapter clearly demonstrates how the gospel applies to this particular battle and how Jesus can move readers from a life of struggle to a life of purity.
The only time God is pictured as running in Scripture is when He is running to a son who has miserably failed. I love thinking about this story in Luke 15. The prodigal son had previously turned his back on his Father. He wasted his inheritance on alcohol, immorality and partying. All this crazy sinful living had landed him in a pig pen slopping hogs. The Bible says he finally came to himself and decided to go home, humble himself in confession of wrong and ask to be a servant instead of a son.
I can imagine him slowly walking home rehearsing over and over his lines, “Father I have sinned before God and you…” As he nears the gates of the town his father (a picture of our Heavenly Father remember) sees him in the distance. He forgets his business and takes off in a sprint toward his lost son. In my mind’s eye, I see the grown son being literally lifted off his feet in his dad’s embrace. The son quickly begins to recite his speech, “Father I have...” he hardly gets any further when dad cuts him off with shouts of joy…” My son is home!” No mention is made of the loss, the failure, the pain or regret. All is forgiven and the welcome home party begins. The Father knew the son’s heart. He knew he had repented and he ran. God ran!! God ran to meet that boy. He ran to meet you and me too if we’ve come to him in repentance and He and all Heaven rejoice in love when we come home.
Perhaps you have a son who is lost and running away from God. Please know that God is working to draw him back. Your prayers are not in vain. Your tears are not lost. God himself loves that boy and is at work. As you are led to pray, God’s Spirit is working too. He loves deeply. Continue to hope for the day your boy comes home and you along with God run to meet him.
If you feel that we can be of help to you with your struggling teen son, please don’t hesitate to learn more about our ministry and contact us for free counsel.
Other Articles and Info you may be interested in:
Help I found porn on my son's laptop. 6 things to remember.
10 Suggestions to Help Stop the Yelling at Home
Click here to contact us.
Click here to read about how we help.
10 Conversation Starters for You and Your Teen
Victory Academy for Boys - A Well Kept Secret For Too Long
Every parent knows that with the much anticipated breaks from school also come the much dreaded words we all hear. “I’m bored. There is nothing to do around here.” As most parents have experienced, if boredom is not dealt with strategically and successfully, it can quickly turn into major problems. From sleeping all day to sibling rivalry to worse. These are issues no parent enjoys facing.
Here are some suggestions to consider as you navigate the upcoming breaks.
Breaks from school don’t have to be as stressful as it may seem. Plan ahead, talk it over with your son and create breaks from school that end up as pleasant memories for everyone involved.
If we can be of help, please contact us at Victory Academy for Boys. We also invite you to learn more about our summer Adventure camp program called WildHeart. Click on the picture below to visit the website, watch the short video and learn more.
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.
Click here to download a report on 10 Things Parents Often Miss in Raising Teens .
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.
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.