Pastor Dean, Advice for a Teen?

Hey, Pastor Dean, um, I have an assignment from one of my teachers, and wonder if you could help me?

Sure, be glad to.  What’s up?

Well, we’re supposed to ask someone who is older, and maybe in a position of authority or something, some questions.  You’re pretty old, right? And you’re my pastor, so I thought I’d ask you.

(Laughs) Let’s do it.  Want to sit over here?  So, what are your questions?

The first one is, What do you think is the greatest challenge that kids face today?

Let me think a minute.  There are a lot.  But I would say, you are hearing so many voices, through friends, school, movies, music, celebrities, news, advertising, scientists, philosophers, pastors :), people trying to explain life, that it is hard to figure out who is right, who you should listen to, and what you should accept.

Ok, yeah, that’s true.  The next question is, What should people my age consider as dangerous?

Ooh, very good question.  A few things come to mind.  An obvious one would be addictive and destructive substances like drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.  It’s no myth that smoking pot and drinking beer leads to harder stuff.  Ever see pictures of someone addicted to meth?  You don’t want to end up there.  Another obvious one is porn.  Once you start, you’re pretty much hooked, and it makes it really tough to have a normal long-term relationship with a guy or girl.  I’ve seen a porn habit that started in the teen years destroy a marriage.  Of course, there are dangerous people who want to hurt you.  Here’s probably one that you might not think of – I think there’s a real danger in believing everything you hear or read.  It goes back to my first answer about all the messages and voices you’re hearing.  If you just accept what someone says because he or she is your friend, or has a lot of followers, or communicates well, or seems successful, you’re vulnerable.  You need to test what you hear and read.  You need a source of truth to test everything and everyone by.  Believing the wrong things can really get you into trouble.  I tell people, “Just because someone says it doesn’t mean it’s true.”  And be careful about the subtle messages presented in TV shows, movies, and music.  They do influence us.

Hmm, that’s a lot to think about.  Here’s another one:  What one personal quality is important to develop as I enter adulthood?

Ha, I have a long list!  Do I have to narrow it down to one?  Well, let me try.  I’m going to go with . . .  wow, this is tough . . . I’ll say, learn to have a realistic view of yourself.

Can you explain that a little bit?

Yes.  What I’m really talking about is humility.  Learn to see yourself as imperfect, but improving; as important, but not more important than anyone else; as dependent, yet confident.  Be who you are in personality, physical appearance, strengths and weaknesses, but grow in ways that you can and that reflect well on your Creator.  We’re all sinners, but God saves sinners and changes us over time.  So this doesn’t mean you never change or try to improve, but that you don’t think of yourself as too hopeless for change or too good to need it.  True humility produces concern for others, willingness to take advice, and dependence on God.  Ha, you can see I worked some other qualities in there!

Yeah, that’s ok.  Alright, there’s one more question.  Actually this one’s a little open-ended, so you can do what you want with it.  What advice would you give me as a teen?

I would say first, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”  That’s from the Bible.  Second, as I said earlier, you need to have a source of truth.  I’ll tell you, the Bible is it.  Regardless of what you might hear, it has never been proven untrue in anything it says.  It relates to every aspect of life.  Check it out for yourself. Then, wait for things.  Look, I know there are things you want to have now, or soon.  But it’s better to wait and get it right.  I’m talking about things like the man or lady you’ll marry, your career, certain big purchases (like a car or house).  I’ve seen young adults get into a big mess because they were impatient, rushed a relationship, got into major debt, made hasty decisions.  Take your time.  When it’s right, you’ll know.  Here’s one more:  Dedicate your life to living for God’s glory, not your own.  Take some time to figure out what that means, then spend your whole life doing it.  You won’t be sorry.

Thanks Pastor!  I enjoyed talking with you.  I think my teacher will like this. 

Well, thanks for asking me.  Glad to help.  Anytime.

Good Pastor, Good Book

Many evangelical Christians are familiar with Robert Murray McCheyne, a pastor in Scotland in the mid 1800’s.  He is known to us primarily through the biography written by his good friend, Andrew Bonar.  I have been recently blessed by reading the biography of the biographer – the story of Andrew Bonar.  The Good Pastor, published in 1999 by Ambassador Publications, contains selections of the original version which was edited by Bonar’s daughter, Marjory, and originally published in 1895.

I’ll get right to it.  This book is filled with many quotes that just bless, encourage, and challenge me as a pastor.  Here are a few.  Enjoy.  Then read the book.

Referring to the first sermon he preached, he commented, “I had no heads.”  We call them main points.  He called that a mistake because, “Hearers need pegs on which to hang the truth.”

During a time of revival in his region, “The thirst for the word of God was very great.  Not only did the people walk long distances to hear, but they never seemed to grow tired of listening.”

Regarding creativity in his messages and methods, “There is more originality in a full heart than in anything else.”

Once after listening to a couple of uneducated men preach, his evident enjoyment was observed by someone, and he said, “If you are very thirsty you will not be particular about the dish you drink out of.”

Regarding the Lord’s Table, “Christ’s nearer coming casts deeper solemnity over every Communion.”

To the Sabbath School teachers, he said, “Be sure and aim at the conversion of the children.  They are never too young to come to Jesus.  I hope you pray for each of your scholars by name.”

To an older church member, he said, “You must keep fast hold of the text which was written for you:  ‘Even to your old age I am He; and even to gray hairs will I carry you’ (Isaiah 46:4).  Just as you carried the children when they were young, so the Lord says He will carry you now when you are old.”

In a letter to a friend, he wrote, “We must learn more and more how to suffer.”

He spent two hours in prayer and meditation on God’s Word every morning before going out.  He said, “Persevering prayerfulness – day by day wrestling and pleading – is harder for the flesh than preaching.”

After taking his two daughters to see the Queen when she visited Edinburgh, he told a friend, “We saw her, but we were not changed.  But when we see Him, we shall be like Him.”

He called people who spent too much time by themselves “earthworms.”  “A man can’t meditate when he is always alone.  He needs to have intercourse with others to stir him up to meditation.”

On desiring God’s work, “Pray for blessing, for it is like the dew which Gideon prayed for.  It falls where it is sought.”

Regarding weariness in ministry, he said, “I have great difficulty because of my own soul which cannot stand three successive weeks of giving out.”  “Vessels are not fountains.  Vessels need to be filled as well as to give out to others.”

In a letter of encouragement, “If there were twenty crosses for this year written down for you in God’s book of providence, they will soon be past; ye will soon be at the nineteenth, and then there is but one more, and after than nothing!  For then ye shall lay your head on His bosom, and His own soft hand shall dry your face and wipe away your tears.”

I am reading this book as a devotional right now, and it really helps this pastor’s heart.  I think it will encourage yours too.