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I have recently been having some conversations with some Christian teenagers and it is apparent that they understand the importance of sharing their testimony of how they came to know Christ with non-believers.  I agree that it is very important to share what Jesus Christ has done in our lives.  However, a distinction should be made between our testimony and the gospel. Our testimony is not the gospel but it testifies to what the God has done in our lives through the gospel and His grace.

The gospel is objective truth.  It is universal truth that is grounded objectively, not subjectively.  Our personal testimonies are subjective.  The are grounded in the subject; that is, us.  Testimonies can change from one person to another.  Testimonies do not prove anything but merely illustrate what the gospel has done in our lives.  For example, a Mormon could also have testimony but that does not make their beliefs true.  However, you cannot argue with their experience because it is subjective and grounded in their experience rather than in some objective truth.

The gospel is truth.  It is objective and is grounded in God’s Word and in the historically attested event that is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We defend this truth and we share this truth.  Our testimony testifies to this truth but the gospel is the good news and can lead the lost into abundance life which Christ came to give.  Our testimony cannot save anyone and it is only good news to us as the subject.

Let us share our testimony but let the sharing of our testimony point others to the main character of our testimony, God, not us.  May we use it as bridge to share the gospel with others and may truth of the gospel grounded in God’s Word lead to the expansion of God’s kingdom through the conversion of the lost.

One of the links on the side of this blog is to Cold Case Christianity.  I really enjoy J Warner Wallace over at that website and I also subscribe to his podcast.    He is a retired cold case detective and has authored a book by the same name.  I have read the book and he does a fantastic job applying the principles he used as a cold case detective to the historicity of the resurrection and the reliability of the gospels.  I highly recommend his book, his website, and his podcast.  He is a great tutor for equipping you to become a case-maker for Christianity.  I am not a great case-maker but I enjoy having him speak to me on my i-Phone and teaching me how to make a reasonable defense for Christianity.   Read his book.  Visit www.coldcasechristianity.com.  Subscribe to his podcast.  Thank you for your work and ministry, Jim Wallace.

For some reason our culture is now trying to deny or cover up what is sadly part of our history.  We want to pretend that there was no slavery in our country by removing the confederate flag and banishing it from every possible place.  We want to deny the fact that revered leaders of our country had slaves and that this great evil was ubiquitous in our country — in the south and in the north.  We want to deny the history of racism and segregation.  It is almost as if people think that if they cover it up so it is out of sight, we can pretend that it never happened. It happened.  Sadly, it is part of our history.  It is undeniable.  We should learn from the past and not just try to cover it up.

There is another part of our past that we try to deny.  We try to deny the fact that we are born a spiritually dead people in our trespasses and sin.  Yet our society tries to tell itself that people are inherently good.  They say that we are evolving into something better and they can do this without God.  The truth is that we have inherited Adam’s original sin.  We cannot deny it.  Even if we do, it does not make it any less of a fact.  Rather than denying our condition of sin we should face up to it and realize that God has provided a perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin. May we not live in denial. May we, rather, turn to Christ our sacrificial lamb in repentance and faith.  Let’s not deny that we are sinners but recognize the truth.  We are sinners in need of a savior.   May we turn our eyes upon that savior and cast ourselves on Him.

You may have seen the movie Amazing Grace about the William Wilberforce’s fight to abolish the slave trade in England.  I hope you thought it was a great move.  At the very least, it was a great story. Movies rarely are able to capture everything that is the book and the book is available today for Kindle at Amazon for only $1.99.  Check it out.  This is a deal you don’t want to pass up.  For more information on the book, check out the link below which will take you to the author’s website.

 

http://ericmetaxas.com/books/amazing-grace/

The October 1 edition of the Wall Street Journal had an article by Gautam Naik entitled “Study: Half of Wildlife Lost in 40 Years.” It starts out by saying that “Earth lost half its wildlife in the past four decades.” This is alarming because “the decline was seen everywhere-in rivers, on land, and in the seas.” The article had a caption referring to this as “devolution” which I presume is a reference to the dying off of species resulting in the decline in biodiversity. As a Christian this is concerning in the sense that we are supposed to be stewards of this planet in which God has placed us. We are called to subdue the earth but we are to take care of it also. To the extent that we subdue the earth, we should also take care of it.

However, this article in the Wall Street Journal is not written with a biblical worldview. So, what is this even an issue for those with a secular materialist worldview? What the article is reporting as devolution appears to be a result of evolutionary processes. The fact of the decline of biodiversity is simply a result of natural selection and survival of the fittest, is it not? Is this not merely the result of weaker species that cannot adapt dying off and those that can survive or thrive continuing on? Why is devolution a problem for people with a naturalistic materialist worldview? Can someone help me out here?

You may have been following her case, but Asia Bibi is a Christian in Pakistan who has been sentenced to death for her Christian faith. You can read more about it here but her lawyers have been trying to appeal her case. It kept getting delayed but this time she was able to present her case to the high court. Her appeal was denied so now there is only the Supreme Court of Pakistan to hear her case. Without the highest court siding with her, she will be facing the death penalty for her faith in Christ. Please pray for this situation. Pray for her to stand firm. Pray for her family. Pray that God would be glorified through all of this.

There has been much made lately on youth leaving the church. I subscribe to a lot of podcasts where this has been a topic of conversation. This is not a conversation among just Calvinists or just Arminians but is a conversation that is taking place among Evangelicals of all stripes. There is apparently some kind of data, collected by someone like Barna, that supports this position. What the experts are saying is that American Evanglicals who are active in church as a youth have a tendency to leave the church once they graduate from high school, leave home, and go to college.

I am someone who was part of church youth in high school and left home to go to college and remained in the church. I experienced college as someone who was part of a local church and am still part of a local body of believers today. I now have children who are youth-aged. In fact, I am a parent of multiple teenagers. (Feel free to pray for me. I need it.) I sit watching the youth of our day praying that I don’t screw up as a parent and that my kids will have faith in Christ that will be their own and that their faith will continue to grow into adulthood and that they would be committed lifelong disciples of Christ.

What I see from so many youth today is that they are not part of the church as young people. Their parents take them to church and drop them off with the youth group. They hang out with a bunch of youth at church. They have Sunday School with their peers — which is positive since they are all experiencing the challenges of transitioning from childhood to adulthood. While at the youth group, they usually sit around on comfortable sofas because we all know that NOBODY would come if they had to sit in uncomfortable straight back chairs (gasp)! They listen to relevant music and not that boring stuff their parents listen to. And often times, they sit around and complain about how they are not respected because of their youth all the while remaining in their youth cocoon. After Sunday School, or Bible Study, they head off to the worship center for Sunday morning worship. And guess who they sit with during worship? That’s right: they sit with youth. After worship, they find their parents and ask to go eat lunch with the their friends in the youth.

On Sunday night often times the youth have their own get together for more fellowship and study — separate from adults. On Wednesday nights they are with the youth again. They may even have some other get-together on Friday or Saturday because there isn’t enough youth fellowship time already. Yes, I am being a bit sarcastic here.

So, I’ve mentioned four meetings at church: Sunday School, worship, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening. How many of those times do the youth at your church integrate with the church body and how many times are they with just the youth? Your answer is probably that the youth are with just youth about 75% or 100% of the time, if your church is like most American churches. If this is the case, how can we say that’s youth are leaving the church? I don’t think we can say that. I submit to you that youth are not leaving the church. I say that they were never part of the church–at least not while they were in the youth group. What they were part of during their youth years was a para-church group called “the youth ministry” but were not really part of the local church. If your church is like this, here are some critical things that your young person is missing out on.

1. First and foremost, they are missing out on worshiping with their family — particularly their mom and dad. They need to see that mom and dad are serious about worship and that they are there to worship God; not just to take their kid to the youth group. They need to see that mom and dad take the sermon seriously by taking notes and not texting and checking Facebook during the preaching.

2. They miss out on the inter-generational nature of the body of Christ. By being with youth all the time they are hanging out with those who are facing similar problems. That is true. But why not hang out (sometimes) with people who have already experienced those problems and have come through them? Why not learn lessons from people who can encourage youth as examples of those who have been through those tumultuous years?

3. They miss out on opportunities to serve and to be the body of Christ. To be part of the church they should be plugged in. They have no right to complain about being disrespected by adults due to their age if they aren’t trying to plug in and serve. Let us not encourage our youth to be spiritual navel gazers but people who are committed to building up the body of Christ by serving!

So, why shouldn’t youth drop out of church when they go to college. They don’t know what it is like to be part of the church and how beautiful the bride of Christ really is. Don’t misunderstand me. Teenagers need teenage friends. They need to know how to build friendships and develop relationships and hold each other accountable in the Lord. However, I don’t think that their relationships should be limited to those with peers. I am praying for a change in the church youth culture and that this change would take place before all of the youth that were never in the church leave the church.

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