John and Carol Arnott are the Founding Pastors and Presidents of Catch the Fire (formerly known as the Toronto...
Hey Young Person, can you hear some sound advice from someone who has been around awhile? Since this issue is dedicated to youth, the editorial staff of Spread the Fire Magazine asked me to write some fatherly counsel to you. Perhaps I can help you with some of your life choices.
The most important thing to remember is that God’s kingdom is a kingdom of love because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)
God is not only loving; the very essence of His nature is love. He is also the truth; so therefore, He cannot lie or compromise. His love compelled Him to go to the limit to rescue you; yet He could not just forget about all the things that you have done wrong, all the times you have hurt and sinned against others, and also all the times they have hurt and sinned against you. That would not be just, and justice must be satisfied.
That is why Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross and paid the debt that you and I owed to a God who is just. God who loved you saw to it that forgiveness and full pardon are yours simply by asking and believing.
John 3:16 fully expresses His message: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, would never perish but have everlasting life.”
Jesus Christ, the innocent one, died instead of the guilty so that the guilty may go free. Amazing isn’t it? If you have grown up in Christian circles, you are familiar with this truth, but let’s take a closer look at it for a moment.
The cross was an all out rescue attempt. The eternal destiny of mankind hung in the balance. This is why the Gospel is such good news. You can be completely free from your sins and their emotional consequences: your guilt, shame and fear. Jesus’ perfect sacrifice will satisfy the need for justice and then God will completely forget them forever. He not only forgets; He removes them as though they had never happened, “as far as the East is from the West.” Psalm 103:12
Once God forgives your sin, He is free to love you to life. “We are ever so thankful Lord Jesus!”
Now it is with His amazing love that God reaches out to you. Because God is love, He will never manipulate or coerce you to do something that you do not want to do. He will encourage, exhort and even plead, but never force. Why? Because the very nature of love has given us free will to choose either the right way or the wrong way. Which way will you go?
Every human being knows right from wrong. If you don’t agree, consider this. Why is it that people spend their lives talking about the injustices that have happened to them? You will hear them say, “He did this to me,” or “She said that about me.” We are very much aware of right and wrong when it involves fairness toward us. It is usually when we are at fault that we begin to rationalize our behavior saying, “So what, I don’t think that’s so wrong. Besides, everyone else is doing it!” Does this sound familiar?
I want to call you into being a person of truth and integrity, just like your Heavenly Father because these are part of the foundation that God is laying in your Christian life. Whenever you choose, by your free will, to live life God’s way, that choice opens a flow of God’s gracious favor into your life. But when you choose your own selfish way, the enemy of your soul will see that your life does not go well. Find God’s divine destiny for your life and go for it.
God is not the only one placing a call on your life. This culture is incessantly calling you to waste your life on the pursuit of self-gratification: sex, drugs, following the crowd and various other pursuits that do not harmonize with God’s Kingdom and all the heady stuff that insists that you “be with the ‘in’ crowd” in order to be popular. The temptation is to do what you have to do in order to have money and influence without regard to heaven or hell.
“Go on, just do it!” Once you have sinned, the pleasure is so fleeting.
Have you heard parents and grandparents say, “Life is very short”?
This past Christmas Day was my 65th birthday, and I couldn’t help reflecting on how quickly my life has passed. I have observed two things: One, time goes by very quickly, so make wise choices now, the sooner the better. Two, you will pay dearly for the wrong choices that you make.
I know only too well how my wrong choices cost me precious years and delayed my entering the ministry. Things were not good at home. My parents had split up, and in my pain and shame, I began looking for love in all the wrong places. I made many wrong choices, and I paid a very high price.
Early choices involving promiscuity later caused marriage failure, negative long term effects on my children, and I lost much time when I could have been faithfully serving God. I am ever so grateful for God’s redeeming love, but I wasted fifteen years and caused people much hurt. God forgave me and gave me another chance, but nothing can reclaim my lost years.
Learn to make right choices. Choose your friends carefully. Carefully choose your purpose in life.
Prayerfully ask God for a plan for your life, and then work your plan, and perhaps above all, marry the right one, God’s choice for your life. Don’t miss the one God has picked out for you.
Now all of this sounds great doesn’t it: making a plan; choosing wisely to follow God’s ways and all will be well. What could possibly go wrong if I do this?
The answer is a little word, “attitude.” In North America today, a very large percentage of the people are growing up in dysfunctional homes. Many are growing up with single parents or parents who are divorced and remarried to people other than their natural parents. The so-called ‘freedoms’ of their parents have taken a devastating toll.
Kids grow up with resentments toward parents and other family members for the abuse and neglect they have suffered at home. The resentment causes them to be unable to receive sound parental advice, and they become very susceptible to allowing their equally dysfunctional peers pressure them into making unwise choices. This perpetuates the downward spiral and passes the dysfunctional habits onto the next generation.
If you are going through a lot of “stuff” at home, please don’t adopt a “who cares” attitude and throw your life away. Don’t start seeking for love and acceptance in all the wrong places. The truth is that Jesus cares and so does God, your Heavenly Father. Think what it will mean to the spouse God has chosen for you if you decide to make right choices at these critical times rather than bailing out on God and yourself. When you choose God’s way, seeking His kingdom first, it will work out well for you in the end.
The trials of life are times when you can choose to draw closer to the Lord rather than run away from His magnificent love.
Allow me to take this a step further. Become proactive in pursuing the healing of your heart. All of us have been hurt at one time or another by parents, siblings, teachers, boyfriends, girlfriends, and even by people at church. While experiencing hurt may be an inevitable consequence of the human condition, what is surprising is that we do so little about it.
Please, go on a healing week or an encounter weekend. Recognize and confess your anger and hurt, realize where you have made judgments and held bitterness and let go of them. We all have them and feel entitled to them, but they are deadly to our spiritual life. Get rid of them whether through a sovereign, instantaneous touch of the Holy Spirit or by confessing your faults one to another and praying for one another so that you may be healed. (James 5:16)
Get rid of your past life’s old baggage so that you may focus on the good things of the kingdom. James 4:7-8 says, “Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands... and purify your hearts...” You cannot receive better advice than this.
Go for healing of your heart BEFORE God begins to use you powerfully in ministry. Most of the revivals in church history were led by young people still in their 20’s or 30’s. George Whitefield was 18 when he began preaching to thousands of people in outdoor meetings. John Wesley was 32 years old when the revival of the 18th century started in England. Evan Roberts who led the Welsh Revival was about 26, and his sister, the main soloist was 16.
The disciples of Jesus were in their 20’s and 30’s, too. These people were your age! So there is a way forward. Get healing for your heart. Allow me to invite you to come to our School of Ministry. Receive ministry, get help, and get beyond it. God has a great future for you and a great purpose for you as a history maker and a world changer. God needs you to be an active part of His kingdom and wants you to help touch a desperate world.
And right now, I believe that I am talking to someone in particular, a young person who is hurt and disillusioned and even thinking of throwing away their Christian life. You are probably saying, “It’s too hard.”
No my friend, take it from me, life without the Lord is a great deal harder. Find a pastor or friend whom you can trust. Humble yourself, lay down your pride and pour out your heart to them. Pray together to recommit your life to the Savior who thought so much of you that He went to the Cross and died in your place. He thinks you are worth it. Don’t give up! This discouragement is from the enemy. Resist him, turn toward the Lord, live life His way and you will win.
If you are a caring parent or grandparent, you may want your kids to read this. Give them a copy of this magazine open to the page where they will find the article, or cut and paste it from our website and email it to them. May God give you powerful influence for righteousness in their lives.
This archived article was written by John Arnott for release in Feb, 2006. Circumstances and situations may have changed regarding the author, locations and ministries. This content may therefore be outdated or misinformed.
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