Tag Archives: sin

What Teen Boys Battle Just like the Girls (and Adults too!)

In 2015 I conducted an online anonymous teen survey that spread nationwide. I created the survey after learning how social media had negatively contributed to my own daughter’s sense of worth and belief that if she was struggling so many other teenagers must be too. I was right. This data collected is the backbone of my new book.

The original survey went to both girls and boys, but after talking to my publisher about the heart-breaking and eye-opening information filling my inbox we decided to hone in on just the girls. But it absolutely does not mean teen boys are not also struggling. They are… maybe even more unnoticed.

Everything I wrote in Face Time is everything boys need to hear too. I know that from the survey results, and more personally because I have two teenage boys.  Therefore, I felt like I needed to write this post to say that while Face Time is for girls it does not mean boys are immune to struggles with identity and worth. In fact, the content of Part I of Face Time is as applicable to a teen boy, as a teen girl or an adult man or woman. This is because no matter who we are, our hearts are the same!

By God’s design we long for approval, acceptance and love. But we were made to know and feel our worth perfectly in his absolute approval, irrevocable acceptance and loyal love.  But we think his approval, acceptance and love is not enough. So instead of resting secure in who Jesus is for us, we try to secure our worth by gaining the approval, acceptance, attention and love of others.

We do this by looking to our appearance, performance, achievements and status as the qualifier for how well, or how poorly we fair. For a teen boy it may play out like this…

  • He feels inadequate not playing on the “A” team or varsity so he tries to prove his worth and gain the acceptance of others by bragging about how good he really is. The may be coupled with how unfair tryouts were and by talking smack about the guy in the position he covets. By tearing the other guy down he seeks to elevate himself so others accept him; think more highly of him.
  • He is insecure about some aspect of his appearance, so he overcompensates by acting as the class clown. But by drawing attention to himself and receiving laughs what he seeks is to know his worth. To know he’s okay despite his perceived flaws.
  • He is excluded from a social gathering, and retreats into himself, secretly feeling like a nobody. He may blame the others (and there is no doubt kids can be mean), but his own idol is looking to the approval or inclusion of others as the basis of his worth.
  • He gives into peer pressure -starts drinking, smoking pot, having sex – in an effort to look/be cool or to fit in.  Appearing cool, or rebellious, gains him the approval, friends and popularity he craves, which is where he looks to find his identity and worth.
  • He asks for nude pictures from a girl and then shares them in the locker room. Because of the so-called respect he gets from the guys, he too feels cool. At the girl’s expense, his own status and felt worth is increased. On the flip-side her reason for sharing the pictures also stem from a longing for approval and love, which is unpacked further in Face Time.

As parents we can’t take everything at face value. We have to get to the heart (the root) of why they do what they do, and see it for what it is – the idol that’s ruling them.  Whatever it is they (or we) turn to for identity and worth, to fill us, to give us security apart from God is an idol. Uncovering these idols and seeing them as sin is hard, but necessary and good.

Until our kids (and again, us) see how deeply entrenched our sin is – that it’s not just bad external behavior, but our inner desires, motives and idolatry – we miss seeing how deep our need of Jesus’ worth and work for us really is. Therefore, our view of Jesus rises and falls on how much (or little) we need him.

I don’t know about you, but more than my sons’ happiness and success, I want them to become men who know they need Jesus, live under his smile and desire to please him not out of duty, but delightTo get there, my job must be to help them peel back the layers of why they do what they do to see what rules them. And then point them to Jesus.

It is his perfect performance – not theirs – that their true identity must be rooted in.  When it is:  They won’t have to try to assert, defend or prove themselves, work to impress others or try harder to measure up. They won’t have to live threatened by others’ accomplishments or less than in comparison. And while they will experience disappointment, hurt feelings and rejection (just as teen girls do) my prayer is it won’t define them or rock their core because they will know their secure identity and worth in Christ.

For us as parents, being rooted in Christ means we can live free of tying our worth to our kids successes and/or failures and worrying what other people think. We can live loved – fully accepted, knowing we have the absolute approval of the King. And when we do, may his love and acceptance of us drive us to be compassionate toward others in their sin.  For our kids too, let’s encourage them to reach out to love (not ostracize and judge) those seeking an identity in all the wrong places. Because when we know our own sinful heart tendencies and God’s goodness to us despite it, we should be people of grace and mercy who speak to the hope and security found only in Christ.

If you woud like to further unpack the content of this blog for yourself and to help speak into your kids's hearts, Face Time may be the book for you (even if you don't have a teen daughter). To preorder click: here.

What the World Needs Now

Regardless of your political persuasion or religious beliefs, perhaps we could all agree that the world is not as it should be. From recent terrorist activity in Paris and California sparking fear to tragic accidents in my own community (and elsewhere, I’m certain) turning lives upside down in an instant this fall, we feel the weight of wrong.

The plight of foster children, the homeless and the hungry revealing need and brokenness. Divorce, neglect and abuse along with apathy, entitlement, pride, envy and self-centeredness tainting relationships and creating more conflict. To think on any of it for too long is too much.

Too much sadness. Too much pain. Too much need.  Too much to bear.

We long for a world different than this. To be better, to be fixed, to be safe, to be fair, to be something more. The same yearnings though felt from the beginning when Adam and Eve took the fruit and heaven on earth was no more. From that time forward, the world and everything in it, including us, was sin stained. 

“Long lay the world in sin and e’er pining… (O Holy Night)

Whether we know it or not, our groanings point to a need for a Redeemer. The need for someone to intervene and set us straight again. To save us from this hell!

“No more let sins and sorrows grow…” (Joy to the World)

“Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in thee… (Come, Thou Long-expected Jesus)

But in our longing and sometimes desperate cries we forget a Redeemer has come and He won!  Even in these long “last days” He is sovereignly ruling over all. But the fact He is seated reminds us that though He is at work in our lives, He is at rest with His finished work accomplished perfectly for us.

I know it doesn’t feel this way. Quite the opposite in fact. And it may even make us mad because we feel as if He has stepped off His throne and let us loose to chaos and crisis.

But as stated in a previous post, also using Christmas lyrics, He came as one of us, for us. He came to do something about the sin and sorrow and what He did was what we needed most – what the world needs most now.

He became sin so we would know no sin. Whether we really believe it, the problem of sin is bigger than any tragedy, danger or despair. This is why in Mark 2 when a paralytic man is lowered through the roof for Jesus to heal, Jesus first responds by forgiving his sins before physically healing him. The man’s largest looming problem was not that he was lame, it was his sin he needed free of.

It is what we too need most. And the God who is upholding the world even now came down to dwell in it so he could heal us from sin and make us right again. 

“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” (O Holy Night)

So we are left not without hope, but with great promise of another world – an eternal place of perfection and peace.

Until that time, remember…

“He rules the world with truth and grace…” (Joy to the World)

and His mercy is never-ending. 

“God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Savior
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone Astray…

“Fear not,” said the Angel
“Let nothing you afright
This day is born a Savior…
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan’s power and might…

Now to the Lord sing praises
All you within this place
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other, now embrace…

O tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy…” (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)

May you know His unsurpassing comfort and be filled with immeasurable joy this Advent season as you remember who He is for us and who we are in Him.

Why Living a Victorious Christian Life is not the Goal

In my last post I raised the question of why a loving God would leave us in our sin. If you read it you know I gave a few reasons before concluding that “getting better” is about becoming more dependent on Jesus’ perfect life for me than me actually becoming more perfect and sin-free.

Continuing with that thought I want to first say: You cannot achieve the victorious life here on Earth so stop beating yourself up when you fail! In fact, stop making living victorious your mission!

Many Christians believe this is the goal because much of our teaching and preaching focuses on working harder and getting better. The action is placed on us and our eyes directed to self instead of beholding Him – the only One who was perfect for us!

Here is what I mean. We are told to be like Christ, to be holy as He was holy, to love like He loved, to bear much fruit and on and on. Yes, these are commands and what we are called to. But the point we need to see is how we can’t.

That is why we need a Savior! He was holy and pefect for me. He was always patient, always kind, always had self-control, love and joy. He was never anxious or consumed by fear. He who knew no sin was made sin for me because I will continue to struggle and fail to do what I am called to.

These truths about Christ is what must be proclaimed. We need to hear about His righteousness for us. Not more law adding to the burden and guilt heaped upon us.

Being captivated by who He is for us is what leads to deeper worship. And when our hearts are moved in praise we have a greater desire to obey Him out of love, not duty.  Even so, it is His work in us. He changes hearts.  So, we can’t take any credit for our self-control or successes in living the Christian life well.

When we don’t succeed and think we are backsliding, typically what happens is we think we must work harder in that area. But what does that even mean and how do we do that?

It’s not that we need to work harder, it’s we need turn our eyes once again to our Savior who accepts and loves us deeply even in our sin. In fact, seeing the depth of our sin magnifies how great His love is! 

Does this mean we don’t try not to sin?

No, but when we do sin (which we all do) we don’t have to hide and cover it up. We can go boldly to His throne of grace and acknowledge again our need, knowing He does not reject us or demand we pay penance to measure up. Instead, He draws near!

If this is enough for Jesus, why is there no room for sin and struggle in the church? 

It goes back again to the emphasize of what is taught – law or grace?

So by God’s grace may we see Him as the One who was Victorious for us.  May we hear that truth consistently preached. And may we be a part of a body of believers where grace reigns and we are safe to be deeply loved broken sinners together.

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