Last Week at Youth Group: Healthy Friendships

If you’re having a tug of war with someone who’s standing on a chair, you’re going to win (even if they’re way stronger than you!).  Think about your friends: Do they build you up, or do they pull you down?

Newsflash: God cares about your friendships!  Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”  Similarly, 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: bad company corrupts good character.”

Have you ever done something you wouldn’t otherwise do because your friends were doing it?  Have you ever lied to your friends so you didn’t look bad?  Do you have a friend with a self-destructive habit but you’ve never said anything about it?

Who’s influencing you?  And who are you influencing?

Are you pulling your friends up, or are they pulling you down (or are YOU pulling your friends DOWN!)?

Circles of Friendship

Circle of Concern: These are your friends who are people you care about and who care about you, but you don’t really spend tons of time together and you don’t know personal things about each other.  If this person lost a family member you’d be sad for them, but your daily life wouldn’t be greatly effected.  Obviously, this group of “acquaintances” is going to be your biggest group of “friends.”  (Most of your “Facebook friends” would fall into this category)

Circle of Influence: These are people who actually listen to.  You spend time together, and you know each other pretty well.  You know their family and their other friends.  This group of friends is usually pretty limited for most people.

Circle of Intimacy: These are people who know just about everything about you, and you know just about everything about them… and you still love each other!  Remember, “Intimacy is the joy of knowing someone fully and being known by that person with no fear of rejection” (Andy Stanley).  These friends care more about you than they do about the friendship, because they love you enough to tell you what you need to hear.  They don’t pull punches in telling you hard things (“Mike, you’re being really stupid, and if you keep this up it’s NOT going to be good!”).   These friends are extremely rare and take a LONG TIME (10 years, maybe?) to develop.

Where do your friends fall?  Not all friends are created equal, and that’s ok!  Do you have true Christian friends in your Circles of Influence?  If all your Circle of Influence friends are non-Christians, really think about what sort of influence they’re having on you.

  • Who do you need to cut out of your life?
  • Whose influence do you need to limit in your life?
  • Who do you want to influence you more?

G.K. Chesterton Quotes

G.K. Chesterton lived in the early 1900’s in England.  He dabbled in the occult and other types of spirituality before converting to Roman Catholicism.  Many consider him one of the greatest Christian writers of the 20th century; certainly, he’s one of the most quotable!  Personally, I haven’t read as much of what he’s written as I wish I have, but here are some of my favorite quotes of his:

“The point of an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid.”

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

“If there were no God, there would be no atheists.”

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

“I agree with the realistic Irishman who said he preferred to prophesy after the event.”

“The modern world is a crowd of very rapid racing cars all brought to a standstill and stuck in a block of traffic.”

“When a politician is in opposition he is an expert on the means to some end; and when he is in office he is an expert on the obstacles to it.”

“I think the oddest thing about the advanced people is that, while they are always talking about things as problems, they have hardly any notion of what a real problem is.”

For God’s Sake, Don’t Just Stand There!

How does something like this happen!  A 15 year old girl from California is raped in public outside of her school’s homecoming dance while a significant group of people are watching and doing NOTHING!  Nothing…

How does this happen?

As I read the story on CNN today, my heart has just completely sunk.  I’m preaching on Sunday and took a break to check the headlines, read the story, and now…

We Americans pride ourselves on our civility.  We are cultured, intelligent, civilized people.  But are we really?  We are a nation of sinful, self-indulgent people who stand on the sidelines watching others being marginalized and treated unjustly (and I’m not simply talking about this poor poor girl)!  God save us.

Micah 6:8 – He has shown you, o man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Act Justly – Don’t just stand there, feeling bad for what’s happening around you.  Do something!

Love Mercy – Take initiative in giving to others what’s been withheld from them.  Care for their needs without thinking, “Does he/she deserve this?  What will I get for doing this?”

Walk Humbly With God – God gives his love to us freely, so we should give our love freely too!  We don’t walk with God because we deserve His grace, so what excuse do you really have for being too proud to withhold grace from someone else?

From the Inside Out

I just LOVE this worship song by Hillsong United (the video has the lyrics in it):

This is such a wonderful reminder that even in the midst of trials and pain and uncertainty our faith and hope in Jesus Christ can continue t0 remain solid.  It is often through those very trials that our faith is strengthened.

I don’t know what’s happening in your life today, but God knows completely.  God knows you from the “inside out” and he cares for you.  He does not promise to “make everything better” just the way you want Him to, but God is good and will graciously supply the strength to endure whatever it is you may be going through.

Leeland: Sound of Melodies

Leeland’s one of the newest up and coming Christian bands.  Here’s the video for their song “Sound of Melodies.”  Check them out on iTunes… they’ve got some GREAT music!

Here are the lyrics (from

We who were called to be Your people
Struggling sinners and thieves
We’re lifted up from the ashes
And out came the song of the redeemed
The song of the redeemed
The song of the redeemed

Can you hear the sound of melodies
Oh, the sound of melodies
Rising up to You
Rising up to You, God
The sound of melodies
Oh, the sound of melodies
Rising up to You
Rising up to You, God

We have caught a revelation
That nothing can separate us from
The love we received through salvation
It fills your daughters and your sons
Your daughters and your sons

The sound of Your love
The sound of Your love
Is what You’re hearing
The sound of Your sons
The sound of Your sons
You’ve won Your children
The sound of Your love
The sound of Your love
Is what You’re hearing
Your daughters in love
Your daughters in love
You’ve won your children

The sound of melodies
Oh, the sound of melodies
Rising up to You
Rising up to You, God

Last Week at Youth Group: Moral Boundaries

What’s the difference between the fire in a fireplace and a fire that’s burning your house down?  Boundaries.

Is there such thing as a safe fire?  Yes.  And No.  Even a lit candle which is in a jar can burn your house down if that candle is bumped off the table and the flame spreads beyond it’s jar/boundary.

Sex and sexuality are the same way.  God made sex as a wonderful thing… but within its proper boundaries.  On television and in movies sex is used as a shortcut to deep relationships, but God gave us sex as the pinnacle expression of love and intimacy within marriage.

I know many people who have good marriages, but whose marriages are seriously affected because of the previous sexual experiences one or both members had before they got married.  Sexual purity paves the way to intimacy.

The best definition for intimacy I’ve come across is this: “Intimacy is the joy of knowing someone fully and being known by that person with no fear of rejection” (Andy Stanley, The Seven Checkpoints.  Howard Books, 2001. p.81).  I believe we all crave that kind of intimate relationship.  If we listened to the media, we’d think we get that kind of intimacy through sex.  But that intimate relationship comes from sexual purity!

So what are your Moral Boundaries?  Where is your “line” drawn?  How far is too far for you?

In General:

  • The further you go, the faster you go
  • The further you go, the further you want to go
  • The further you go, the more difficult it is to go back

So set clear Moral Boundaries TODAY!  If you wait until you’re alone with your boyfriend/girlfriend to define and defend those boundaries you will eventually go further than you originally want (and further than God wants too!).  Here are four keys to setting clear Moral Boundaries:

  1. Know your own boundaries first, and stick to them
  2. Discuss clear boundaries (if you can’t discuss boundaries, you probably shouldn’t be in this relationship)
  3. Agree on clear boundaries (if you can’t agree on boundaries, you definitely shouldn’t be in this relationship)
  4. Don’t sabotage yourself! (as in: Don’t “hang out” in a house all by yourselves and then wonder why you went too far)

So what do you do if you’ve already gone too far?

  1. Stop! Take a break in the relationship and evaluate whether you need to end it to save yourself.
  2. Drop! Pray.  Confess your sin to God and ask him daily to give you His strength to regain purity.
  3. Roll! Get away from bad influences and get closer to godly influences

Remember God’s love overcomes all sin when you confess and repent.

  • “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  Psalm 103:11-12
  • “But God demonstrates is own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Struggling Against Porn

Puritan writer John Owen famously declared, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”

Porn is a serious struggle for many teens and college-aged men (and for all other ages too… but especially for young men).  It’s taboo to talk about and no one wants to admit their struggle to anyone else, especially if you’re a Christian.

Parents, here are some ways you can help:

  1. Don’t let your teen have a computer with internet access in his bedroom… especially at night!
  2. Install non-override filters with secure firewalls on all computers in your home.
  3. Fathers, talk to your sons about pornography.  Yes, it will be an uncomfortable conversation, but if you really want your son to walk with Jesus faithfully he should be able to come to you for support.
  4. Don’t add to the shame!  Don’t make him feel gross or like a freak… he already feels that way and needs to know that what he’s struggling against (sexual temptation) is normal, even though it’s not right or healthy.

Check out the link to “Teens Against Porn” under links on this site.  Boundless (a ministry of Focus on the Family) also has a number of helpful articles devoted to helping people overcome their struggles against pornography while helping others better understand this struggle at all… you can find those articles here.

Never Been Unloved

Here’s Michael W. Smith’s song “Never Been Unloved.”  It’s a wonderful reminder that God loves us regardless of how “unlovable” we think we are.

Romans 5:8  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  God did not wait until we were “worthy” or “godly.”  No matter who you are or what you’ve done, Jesus Christ wants you to know and experience God’s love through faith in him.  The amazing thing about God’s love is that it’s a pure gift: we cannot earn it, but He still gives it to us through Jesus Christ!

I pray that whatever you’re experiencing today, that God would encourage you and fill you with the knowledge of His will.  Whether you’re feeling lonely, depressed, anxious, or you’re just having a down day… know that you have never been unloved by your Heavenly Father.