What Happens When Failure Strikes

It will go down as one of the biggest disappointments in football history. It was the first semifinal match in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Brazil was playing Germany on home turf. Both teams had an undefeated record in the tournament up to that point.

While Brazil had lost striker Neymar to injury in the quarter finals, analysts still expected a close match. They felt the home crowd could provide an advantage to Brazil.

The game, however, ended in a shocking loss for Brazil; Germany led 5–0 at half time, with four goals scored within six minutes, and subsequently brought the score up to 7–0 in the second half. Brazil scored a consolation goal in the last minute, ending the match 7–1.

The outcome was the worst loss by a host country in World Cup history. It was a failure that deeply affected Brazil’s national pride.

While this failure took place on the international stage, none of us are immune to disappointments in our personal lives. Sooner or later, there is bound to be closed doors, broken relationships, financial failure or disappointing results.

Failure is inevitable. Many give up simply because they’ve failed. Worse still, some people label themselves as “failures.” But there’s a marked difference between saying you’ve failed once or twice, or even several times, and calling yourself a failure.

While we cannot undo past failure, we can learn from it. The important question is: How do you handle your mistakes? Do you get up after you have fallen, or do you stay down?

Sir Winston Churchill wisely said, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

Failing in a game can be very emotional, but failing in life can be even more discouraging. Life is a lot bigger than a game of football.

It’s, therefore, critical to take an honest look at our own lives. It’s true that “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

The Bible records true stories of people who failed miserably. Moses murdered, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran away from God and Peter failed Jesus not once but thrice. If their lives were a football game each of them deserved a red card. Yet, despite their moral failures, God never turned his back on them. He restored them and made them true champions.

God can help you today as you wrestle with your failures and past mistakes. This book invites you to consider who Jesus is, and to examine His significance for your own life.

One of the common responses to Jesus is to realise our personal guilt before God. Peter, for example, in Luke’s account of his first meeting with Jesus exclaimed, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8). But Jesus still calls Peter to himself. Later on in the same book Jesus says, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5: 32)

All humanity has turned away from God. We want to be the master of our own lives and make our own rules. In our feeble attempts to live life on our own terms, we fail repeatedly. But Jesus reaches out to us in grace.

The ultimate goal we can score is not on a football field but in real life – and that will happen when we come to Jesus, recognising that only he can redeem our past failures and mistakes.

We need to realise our desperate spiritual malaise and ask Jesus to make us a new person. Here is a prayer that you can say to commit your life to Jesus.

Lord Jesus,

I have been living my own way. I know I have fallen

short of your standards. There are many things in my life that

don’t even match the standards I want for myself. Thank you that

you have taken the punishment I deserve for my wrong attitude

toward you and others. Please give

me your Holy Spirit to help me love and obey you and to stir me

into action, so I love and care for others.

I acknowledge you as my Lord and commit myself to your service

for the rest of my life.

Amen.

If you prayed this prayer with sincerity, tell someone about it – maybe the person who gave you this book. Talk to them about what it means to live for Christ. Get involved in a church so you can grow to know Christ more fully. He takes our past, our failures, and our mistakes and turns them into something good for His glory.

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Mind your language

images-2The book of Proverbs talks a lot about Words spoken out – they carry power, both to bring fresh life  and  death  (Proverbs 18:21 “Death and Life are in the power of tongue…”)

Proverbs has 99 direct verses out of 915 ( That’s nearly 11 percent) on the topic of “Wisdom concerning Speech.” Proverbs very clearly presents the theory that ‘Speech’ (of a person) sooner or later determines if a person is foolish or wise;  wicked or upright (Example Proverbs – 10:18; 17:27,28; 10:11)

With words, you express your inner being especially if there is hatred and violence within (Proverbs 10:18a; 10:6) which is concealed and not revealed. Therefore, the root of speech problem is not just ‘words’ but the inner life, the attitude, the thought etc.

The ways we can be careful in the usage of speech according to Proverbs is;

  1. Know that God does not like lying speech. Out of the six things that the Lord hates, lying is one.   (5:17)
  2. Know that when words are many – Sin is around the corner.  (10:19)
  3. Know that harsh words can stir up fights, arguments and basically the anger of the other person.  (15:1)

Thus wrong usage of words could result in Spiritual, Personal and Social bondages.

On the other hand good speech or wise speech or speech with good motive can bring healing in all the above three areas – Spiritual, Personal and Social.

  1. The words that are gracious are pure in His sight (15:26) – Getting us the vertical favour. 
  2. The mouth of the Righteous is a fountain of life (10:11a) deeply satisfying us inwardly
  3. A gracious speech will attract even the elite to be your friends (22:11) – Getting us the horizontal favour.

James in the New Testament teaches us that ‘Tongue’ is one thing that is unstable and can very dangerous if not controlled properly. Proverbs presents the simple truth that right standing with God brings wisdom and power that helps in how we choose our words. For some people this may seem to be difficult for various reasons but if we give ourselves to the Lord He can give us the power to talk right

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Prov 25:11)

The apples here are most probably talking about the fruit from the citron tree which was golden in color and very fragrant with good nutritious values. In ancient days oriental ladies served these fruits which were pleasant, nourishing and bright to look at. They would serve this beautifully placed in elaborately figured silver vessels

This is the description Solomon gives about words aptly spoken. He is comparing words to apples and elaborated silver vessel to the one’s who speak those apt words. Speaking the right word and saying it at the right time requires ‘sensitivity’. Insensitive people will find it difficult to speak right words  and can damage relationships. Words have great power. I know relationships that went sour purely because of inappropriate words. Notice any healthy life affirming relationship and you will find words being used  sensitively & lovingly.

All of us have friends and people around us. Most of our waking hours we are speaking – Whether we speak or not we are communicating…Let’s be sensitive to the needs, feelings and problems of those around so that we will learn to speak right words at the right time and with the right attitude.

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6) and in conclusion let us pray like Agur the son of Jakeh prayed, “… Remove far from me falsehood and lying…”  (Proverbs 30:8a)

 

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How Radical is your life?

I am not sure what comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘radical.’

A lot of people think of something extreme when they hear this word. Well, everything is going to its extreme – extreme life, extreme sports, extreme adventure & sadly, extreme terror. Many a times being radical is associated to being an extremist. Can you imagine people blowing themselves up in the name of jihad? Most suicide bombers are under the age of 25 years. This is sad- Really Sad.Followers of Jesus are not called to this kind of radicalism

However, living a Christian life can be quite radical. Jesus walked a very radical life when He walked the Earth. He had a strict non-conformity value.

Christians are called to be light and salt in this world. In our pursuit to follow Jesus we need to ensure that we are not carried away by what is popular but rather by what is right. And for that, we need to learn to discern some very common errors Christians tend to make:

Saying versus Doing

Jesus said, not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21a). God is not impressed with what we say but He is delighted when we do His will (Matthew 7:21b). We can say all the right things a Christian should say and still miss the mark. A true follower of Jesus pursues and conforms to the Will of God. This really means living a life that is not conforming to the standards of this world. It is easier to be squeezed into the worldly mould that is often set up against the values of God’s kingdom. For example, the world system tells us to take revenge when someone hurts us, but Christ teaches us to forgive. The World system tells us that we are great when we have many servants, but Jesus says we are great when we serve many people. It is one thing to say that we should forgive and totally another thing to actually forgive. The former is being religious and the latter is being radical.

But is doing enough?

Doing versus Being

A lot of people think in order to be radical, we need to emphasize doing more ministry. And the ‘ministry’ they refer to usually are the ones that attract a lot of attention – God does give His children the ability to prophecy but prophesying doesn’t necessarily impress God.

I think of Moses, who was angry, and in his anger disobeyed God – God told him to speak to the rock, but he hit the rock in rage. Did the miracle happen? Yes it did. The Miracle was from God, not from Moses. Perhaps, those who saw Moses were impressed by his ability to bring water out of a rock. But little did they realize that it did not impress God. Moses faced the consequences of disobedience.

A lot of Christians chase the spectacular gifts of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing wrong with those gifts but the receivers often get it wrong. The Holy Spirit gives us gifts not to make us heroes or to swell our egos. He gives us gifts to become better servants. Jesus said, Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you…’

Being radical is not about doing more ministries but rather it is about being real with God. Ministry should always flow out of being not just doing.

External versus Internal

Jesus talked about a wise man and a foolish man (Matthew 7:24-27). The wise man was the one who applied what he heard and the foolish person was one who did not apply his knowledge.

Application is everything. Applying God’s word to our daily lives is being radical. Jesus made it very clear by saying that when we think in terms of implication, our entire perspective to what Moses taught us changes. Therefore, murder is not just an act of killing someone physically but it is fundamentally and indifferent attitude against another person. Adultery is not just when a person goes horizontal with another person’s wife but it is when the mind entertains sexual thoughts. Radical life effects the attitude not just touches a superficial action. It is radical to internalize God’s ten commandments daily.

Jesus did not preach a diluted gospel. His call is clear and radical. He did not compromise on His expectations. Even when a rich man came to him, he did not lower his standards. He challenged him to sell all that he had and then come to follow Him. The Rich ruler did not like it. He refused to follow Jesus as giving up his wealth was too much for him. Radical Christianity can cost you all your wealth.

Jesus made this teaching loud & clear. As his disciples heard Jesus about his demands of loving God more than their other relationship (Luke 14:26), about denying themselves and carry their cross daily (Matthew 16:24) and about giving up everything for his sake (Luke 14:33), these so called disciples started giving a lot of excuses (Luke 9:57-62).

Guess what happened to these ‘disciples’? They began to say, this is a hard teaching, who can accept it?’ (John 6:60). It was too radical for them and they weren’t ready to sign up for this kind of a lifestyle.

His call hasn’t changed in the 21st century. We have much to give up today and If we want to be radical we should focus on paying the cost of discipleship. A great majority of the disciples stopped following Jesus (John 6:66). Jesus was left with just his core 12 with whom He spent most of His time. But, even they deserted Jesus. By the time Jesus died on the cross all his disciples left him in one way or the other.

My strength versus God’s power

It is not possible for us to live a radical Christian life in our own strength.  Apostle Peter tried it but failed. But this same Peter died the death of a radical disciple.

How did that happen?

Jesus gave Peter another opportunity to follow Him like He always does with us when we fail. He invited Peter to a love relationship with Him.

Loving Jesus supremely is a sign of radicalness. Jesus commanded Peter & others to wait for His Holy Spirit to empower them. They waited. The Holy Spirit filled them and that was the beginning of their radical lifestyle for Jesus.

They were willing to lay down their lives for the sake of Jesus Christ.

A radical Christian life is possible if the following is understood and applied:

True freedom is having God’s power to do God’s will. The gospel that Jesus proclaimed is powerful. It results in worshipping God in truth & in spirit. If our worship is faithful it will eventually subvert the culture surrounding us. Worship will turn our values, habits and ideas upside down. We will need God’s power to live this way.

Conclusion

Richard Foster said, ‘The world is not looking for more talented people but for deep people.’ My prayer is that we will allow the Holy Spirit to take us to a deeper Christian life and not settle for superficial Christianity. Remember, following Jesus is not about what you say, do or learn but rather it is about doing God’s will on a daily basis.

This is radical indeed!

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5 Essential Leadership Tips

In the last few weeks the subject of Leadership has been very close to my heart. I think it’s because, as I travel around the world I am seeing more clearly that everything good & bad in families, societies, Churches, Institutions is almost directly because of leadership or the lack of it.  This can be true of YWAM oplocs, schools and centres too. It is because of this I’ve been realigning my own leadership style in line with what God’s word speaks about this subject. As a result, I started reflecting on life-lessons I’ve learnt from my various experiences. I  am studying God’s word a bit more from the grid of leadership. I began to see other leaders – good ones and ones that could be better. I became even more convinced that this topic needs to be re-visited in a simplified way. Therefore, I started putting my personal reflection in the form original quotes the Lord was giving me on my personal Facebook account. It did not take me long to realise that many were affirming me for those quotes and in fact saying that they are being blessed, inspired and challenged. Soon, I decided to start an official Facebook page on the 15th of May calledwww.facebook.com/LeadershipTips and in just under three months this has almost 3000 likes. I praise God for it. Obviously people are crying out for good leadership in their context. And I believe you can be an answer to their prayers.

I’d like to share my heart on some of my simple leadership tips for you today. I am hoping it will have a profound impact on your leadership role.

Leadership Tip # 1

Spiritual Leadership is more about following Jesus than it is about following leadership techniques.”

Leadership at its best is only a stewarding responsibility of our vocation (Being a Missionary, a Doctor,     a government servant, an Engineer, a Teacher etc). A good leader knows that the higher purpose of life is not to be carried away by the glamour of leadership & its activities but rather he/she is inspired by the intimacy of God’s call to Himself, His Character and His purposes! You may be working as a DTS staff or a leader or working in YWAM with some other role. That’s good thing but that’s not your fundamental calling. Your fundamental calling is to love Jesus, to follow Jesus, to obey His commands. When we truly love Jesus and His word it becomes clear to those around you. While we don’t love Jesus for the sake of those around us it does affect them positively. It’s important that we in YWAM do not allow any other person or thing in life take the place of Jesus Christ.

Leadership Tip # 2

Gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit are to make us better servants not super stars.

Leadership has become a fashionable word today. The world thinks you are a great leader if many people serve you. Jesus tells something totally different. He says, you are great when you serve many people. A lot of people in ministry today have a super star status. They revel in public praise and it seems like they can’t stop talking about their incredible spiritual abilities. Some even go to the extent of saying they have all the nine gifts of the Spirit (as if there are only nine). But even if someone is extremely gifted by the Holy Spirit, it is important to note that those gifts are given to become better servants not super stars. In YWAM we value servant leadership and so it should continue to be. The day YWAMers lose this value we will lose our cutting edge.

Leadership Tip # 3

Great Leaders work on cultivating the art of serving from a place of rest & calmness and not a place of stress & drivenness.

True spiritual leaders are not looking to become great but they can’t help but have a great influence over people. One of the reasons leaders develop this greatness is  because they cultivate the art of serving from a place of rest and not from a place of stress. Our modern life breeds ambitious driven people. There are plenty of people who are madly and blindly running a rat-race of life. According to Dictionary.com our modern term ‘rat-race; refers to any exhausting, unremitting, and usually competitive activity or routine, especially a pressured urban working life spent trying to get ahead with little time left for leisure, contemplation, etc. The problem with this rat-race culture that most people don’t seem to realise is that even if they win this race, they stay to be rats. There are a lot of Christian workers and missionaries who are coming under this spirit of running from one activity after the other. Such a life-style locks us in a pattern of thinking that is not biblical. A spiritual leader learns to slow down and make time for calmness and cultivates the discipline of solitude. Today, many people are afraid of silence. But, we need to develop this love for inner quietness and enjoy the inner peace God so beautifully brings in our lives.

If you are running from one thing to another without waiting in the presence of God you need to be still and know that God is missing His time with you.

Leadership Tip # 4

The best leadership currency is love.

Leadership influence doesn’t depend on the size of your wallet it sure depends on the size of your heart. Someone said, ‘people don’t really care about how much you know but about how much you really care’ That’s true most of the time. We live in a global world where we see many cultures inter-facing with one another. Often times, it will become difficult to understand one another simply because we speak another language. But when we master the art of speaking the language of love it cuts through all cultural barriers. That’s why love is the best currency a leader can have. Make a note of the names of people you serve in your leadership. Write them down on your heart. Speak to them the language of love genuinely. As you do this, you will see many things turning around for you.

Leadership Tip # 5

An average leader tolerates diversity, a good leader celebrates diversity and an effective leader knows how to cultivate synergy in & through diversity on his team!

In todays world, no matter where you serve it is more possible to have or be in a multi-cultural team rather than a mono cultural team. That’s why there is so much talk about CQ (Cultural Quotient) in this Global  generation. An average leader manages to live with people who are different but hangs out a lot more with people similar to his/her style. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this but it is not effective. This will not go far in leadership influence. On the other hand, a good leader learns to accommodate and celebrate diversity not just tolerate it. Affirming someone’s culture and knowing how to respect it will take help you farther in leadership. But, if you really want to go long then become a highly effective leader. Don’t just celebrate diversity but master the art of creating synergy between all different kinds of people on your team. Create unity and synergy. A good orchestra does exactly the same. It produces harmony as the music conductor synergizes diverse kinds of instruments. The result – a happy and inspired audience! Your role, as a leader is to create synergy out of the variety you have. It will not be easy but it is possible.

Conclusion

 Take time to allow these thoughts to sink deep into your heart. Meditate on the scriptures given for each of my Leadership Tip. Print out this article and read it several times in the light of your work right now. Make sure you ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with His Spirit so you can live for His glory. Remember, your godly leadership can truly change the world around you & beyond. All the best!

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Our Youngest Son in Concert

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Happy Christmas!

What in the world is the meaning of Christmas?

Christmas is back in town – familiar colors of red, green & white everywhere. Oh yes, don’t forget that old man with a white beard and a pot belly with a bag of many exciting gifts. Shopping malls play Christmas carols selling a whole range of Christmas merchandise – There are many things to like about this season – who wouldn’t like nice cookies, good clothes, great weather, lovely family times, gift exchanges, parties, Cake, carol singing and more. But is there all to Christmas? Have you wondered what Christmas is really about? There must be more to Christmas than just this. Let’s look to the Bible for real answers.

 

The motivation for Christmas

Christmas in its essence is about true love. The Bible says in John 3:16“ For God so loved the World…”

God loves you. God loves everyone in this world. The reality is that we all have turned back from God and have rejected Him and His authority over our lives. Sin alienated us from God. It does not take a rocket scientist to tell us that something is terribly wrong with our world today. A 20-year-old boy from an affluent suburb gunning down 26 of them of whom most were killed from ages 6 and 7 is not a sign of good life. Whether it is the affluent society of New York or the busy streets of India we find such stories becoming common. There’s injustice, crime, violence, abuse – the list can go on for long. Mankind in many ways has become un-lovable but God loves us unconditionally. Christmas is about the love of God. God so loved the world…His love is unconditional and patient. It is this love that motivated God to incarnate into the world as a mere Man in the person of Jesus Christ.

The measure of Christmas

The Bible says, For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son.

God becoming Man is a reflection of God’s measure of love for Mankind. Giving is at the center of Christmas. Giving not because it is convenient but because it is an expression of deep love. Giving lavishly is a sign of rich generosity. God’s measure of love was nothing short of lavish generosity. He gave his only begotten Son. What this means is that He came into this world in human form – this is incarnation and not re-incarnation. Man had lost the ability to hear from God as Sin turned disabled him to hear from God everyday. The love of God made it possible for Man to understand the nature & character of God through God’s visible image in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus being God not only came as a human but also remained sinless and ultimately became a sacrifice for Mankind on the cross. This is a sign of true love. Love sacrifices generously and that’s exactly what Jesus did. He gave himself up for saving us. That’s the measure of Christmas – we will do well to reflect on it as it can change our lives forever.

The message of Christmas

The Bible goes onto say, For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten Son and that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life…”

 

Most people living today are just surviving. There is a big difference between surviving and living. The latter is pure, purposeful and passionate. People with real passion seldom live by Oxygen alone. They are inspired by something far deeper. The message of Christmas is that we can live by the very breath of God. Oxygen is a free gift of God that enables us to live in this temporary world and the breath of God is a free gift to live for eternity both in this world and the world to come. God came down to Earth not punish mankind but save it. We were created to live forever not perish forever – this is the message of Christmas. Jesus is not just a good teacher who walked the Earth with good principles but He is truth personified, love demonstrated, and life surrendered with the sole purpose of winning Mankind without force or pressure.. That leads us to the miracle of Christmas…

The miracle of Christmas

For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten Son and that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life…”

God is all-powerful and yet all personal. He could have given us no choice but He gives us this choice to accept Him without force or pressure. The miracle of Christmas is really possible when you accept Him into your life and allow Him to breathe fresh life into you.  Jesus came into the world some 2000 years ago and walked the Earth but He can come into your life right now if you would just turn around and ask Him to takeover your life. Make him your boss and it will never go wrong. It will not be easy to live a surrendered life but it will be pure, purposeful and passion filled. The miracle of Christmas is when you listen to His words and yield to Him…consider what Jesus says,

“Come unto me all you that are weary and tired and I WILL GIVE YOU REST.”

The miracle of Christmas is not about joining a religion but getting into a relationship with Christ. The miracle of Christmas is not about finding 4 steps of achieving spiritual nirvana but coming to Christ just as we are because He will accept us and love us just the way we are. It will be His love that will cause us to repent and change our ways. Even if we feel our life is shattered into many broken pieces He is ready to take all those pieces of mess and re-build our life and recreate us into His original design. Will you choose to allow Christ to birth a miracle in your life today?

Happy Christmas!

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Slingshot Lessons

He was 9 feet 6 inches tall – A dream boy for any Basketball coach! His spears were huge, his armor was heavy, his shield was impregnable …in fact he was a professional champion from Gath[1]. His name was Goliath. About 3000 years ago Israel trembled with great fear because of this tall Giant. He was the biggest dude with the biggest mouth. Just when everyone thought he was too big a target to hit, a young Shepherd boy named David had a different perspective- For David Goliath was too big a target to miss – He defeated Goliath with one Slingshot. However, a careful study of this passage will reveal that his Slingshot was backed up with a lifestyle of principles. In today’s generation there is a great need for deep people who live on absolute principles.

In 2003 we had done survey among College students in Pune, Bangalore & Chandigarh and one of the questions this Survey covered was on pre-marital sex. The opinions of our Indian boys and girls were surprising. Many do not really have a problem with pre-marital sex and many feel its part of being cool. This is now the changing avatar of Indian youth. The idea of being “cool” or “beautiful” is defined a lot in terms of sensual parameters. The Times of India in Bangalore recently carried an article of the increasing problem of date rapes in Bangalore-Many get drunk in parties and have no idea what’s happening to their bodies …Words in our modern culture are often an indicator of our shifting perspectives…what do we call the life a Mother carries in her womb for nine months – A Baby or a Fetus? Ideas always have consequences and as a result of these changing ideologies, giants are being fed to become bigger, stronger and louder.…Old people are being abandoned, little ones are being killed, Girls are being raped, Lust is replacing love, taboos are becoming a norm – all of a sudden people are questioning any absolute standard. Well, if you are not convinced of these to be giants then consider their consequences – Materialism, Abortion, Rape, Suicide, Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases, murder, etc. These are thing’s we read about daily in our newspapers. Let’s explore some lessons from David the Giant Slayer so that we will learn to slay the false ideas and its consequences.

GIANTS ARE NOT GROWN OVERNIGHT

Goliath in the Bible was not a mythical character. He was a real person born as a child, then became a boy who grew up to be a teenager and soon became an adult GIANT. We need to remember that Goliath was not born 9.6 foot tall. He grew gradually. Giants are not formed overnight. They grow because they are fed. Think about habit patterns …it always starts unnoticed…it could just be a one smoke. One beer. One party. One peek into a questionable webpage, one compromise and gradually a giant is grown. Therefore, stop feeding those bad giants in your life.

Following are some ideas to starve these giants to death:

  • Do not spend much time alone with the opposite gender. Does the person really respect you? A person who respects you will not violate your purity.
  • Make your motto very clear: “Hands off. Clothes on.” Keep both feet on the floor and do not get “horizontal.”
  • Don’t talk about your sexual desires or experience with members of the opposite sex.
  • Do talk about your standards and why you hold them. Be sincere. Just say, I’m saving Sex until marriage.
  • If your boy friend or girl friend dumps you because of your stand, he or she is not worth having.
  • Even if you think this is the “one” that you will marry, be cautious. Some people hint around marriage to get affection, attention, and sex.
  • Hugging and kissing closes your mind to danger signals. Keep your head clear to end a relationship if you see warning signs.
  • Talk, talk, and talk about family, friends, hobbies, interests, creative pursuits, goals and dreams.
  • Spend time getting to know about each other.
  • Stay away from places which are private, dark and lonely.
  • Stay away from people who only talk about sex.
  • Stay away from people who want you to prove your love to them by giving away your body…this is lust in its full measure.
  • Stop feeding your mind with ideas that pervert your ideas about Sex.

LOOK TO GOD NOT TO THE GIANT.

Goliath was a big guy challenging a nation whose king was already small in God’s sight. Therefore a lot of people saw no hope. But David was different – he was not just a subject of King Saul but also of the true & living God. For David, God was much bigger than this 9.6 footer.

Many young people have been abused sexually. Their emotions are badly damaged and often become victims of a sex driven culture of sin. For many of them it’s hard to see any way out and it’s harder to look to God for help.

No matter what has happened in your life God is able to help you right now because He is your perfect Dad. He is willing to set you free and heal you. He is willing to forgive you because that’s His nature and character. All you need to do is come to Jesus and confess your sin, weaknesses and situation.

If you have already gone too far and given away your virginity there is still hope for you today. God can make you a virgin again by cleansing you from all your sins. He can help you overcome the giant you are facing. Like David saw God we need to see God bigger than our problems… In fact David messed up too – He fell in adultery[2]…and he lived quite some time without confessing and life wasn’t fun. Living in guilt is one of the most disturbing things in life. Later by God’s mercy God convicted David of his sin. David repented of his Sin[3] and was forgiven by God.

PUT OFF & PUT ON A NEW ARMOR

David was an ordinary shepherd boy when he encountered Goliath. Initially people saw him as a proud and arrogant lad making tall claims. However he was brought to the courts of King Saul who finally was willing to send David to fight Goliath but insisted that David wears the Kings armor. David tried to fit himself in that huge armor and that must have been a funny sight to watch. Some times my two year old Son wears my T shirt and it’s really funny to see him like that. David was not comfortable with Saul’s armor and decided to put it off. He’d rather depend on God. If you have God on your side a Sling and a few stones are sufficient to bring the giant down.

This principle of putting off and putting on is a very important one. We need to learn to put off wrong ideas about Sex that we pick up from movies, scores of soap operas, and many forms of media. These ideas are not based on the truth about Love, Marriage and Sex. Sex wasn’t invented by Hugh Hefner but by God. We need to learn and understand the truth about love, marriage and sex from the Bible. David got his identity from the God of Bible. He challenged the identity of Goliath[4]…David’s identity did not come based on popular opinions but based on Truth.

For example one of the popular campaigns against AIDS is the recommendation of “Safe Sex.” This is a very humanistic ideology. We need to putt this idea off. What we need to put on is what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches us on Morality (No sex before marriage, no multiple partners etc.) Fidelity (being faithful to your Spouse) – Next time some one or something entices you to lean on an idea that is not Biblical make sure you reject it. And put on the right idea even if it is not popular. Contraceptives do not provide safety…they cannot protect you from physical & emotional damages…but Morality can protect you physically, mentally, socially, emotionally and spiritually.

THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE, MARRIAGE & SEX.

What do you think is the opposite of Love? I ask this question to a lot of people. The common answer I get from most is “Hate.” But that’s a wrong answer as hate is an emotion and Love is not- true love is a choice we make to be & do right. Indifference is the opposite of Love for it is a deliberate choice we make to show our apathy to people and situations. The Bible has a lot to teach on True Love. Jesus modeled true love for us.

A Marriage based on true love has a lot of hope. Marriage will sustain itself beautiful when it is built on mutual love, mutual trust, mutual understanding and mutual respect. This can happen when couples make Jesus the Lord of their marriage. Sex is God’s idea. He created it within a context. Sex is beautiful only within the context of Holy Marriage. Sex outside of holy marriage is not only ugly but damaging as well. Remember, strong families make a strong society and one of Giants that challenges the Holy institution of Family is infidelity. We need to fight this goliath by basing our lives on the Truth about Love, Marriage and Sex.

EXPERIENCE GOD DAILY

Many of the Psalms were written by David. Many of them were written when he was a shepherd boy and many were written when he became the King of Israel. Many Psalms are a personal reflection of David’s daily walk with God. David is famous for his victory over Goliath with a mere Slingshot but what many do not realize is that his main strength came in his pursuit of God in the midst of his failures, sins, limitations and anxieties. David experienced God. It’s one thing to know about God and totally another thing to know God. David was not a coward. His experience with God made him fight the Lion and the Bear before he met Goliath. He conquered these wild animals in his private life before he took on Goliath in the public arena. There are many kinds of Lions and Bears that disturb our minds. They can be lustful thoughts, secret temptations to do things in hiding. We need to learn to experience God both in our private and public life. The Goliaths of our private life needs to be defeated before we defeat the Goliaths of our public life. This can happen when we crave for God moments and experiences daily…

CONCLUSION: WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE GONE TOO FAR.

If you have gone too far in giving your virginity away we at Sixteen28 want you to know there is hope for you. God can give you a fresh start. It’s never too late with God. Jesus can make you a virgin again. No matter what you have done, God loves you and is eager to forgive you. All you need to do is to ask for His forgiveness. All of us need forgiveness but not all have asked for forgiveness. If you ask for His forgiveness today you shall be forgiven by Jesus right now. History is full of Christians who made unwise choices about sex and then repented. God still forgave them, used them. He can do the same for you. God still has good plans for you if you follow Him. God promises to heal you of your wounds. In fact He can even use your pain, suffering, confusion to comfort and encourage others.[5]

If you have gone too far there is hope for you…if you think you have not fallen be sure to proactively fight this Goliath with the principles of the Bible…Take heart and do not let your hearts be troubled…God is near and you can run to Him today for Comfort, healing and acceptance!

 

[1] You can read more about this historical account in 1 Samuel Chapter 17

[2] You can read about this account in 1 Samuel chapter 11 & 12.

[3] Psalm 51

[4] And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?

[5] Isaiah 61:1-2; Psalm 51:7; Psalm 71:20-21; Psalm 147:3; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

 

 

 

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Championing Youth

 Over half of the world’s population is under 25 years old – that’s a staggering 3 billion plus people. The critical mass of teenagers is over 1.5 billion – more than ever before. With more access to the Internet, money, technology, and other advancements, they could be the most powerful engines in the merging global cultures. They have the greatest opportunities to shape cultures and worldviews. This is not just a global phenomenon but a reality in India as well. Although much of India is in a rural state, the mega trends in India raise various missiological implications for the Church today – especially in urban settings. Think of the spread of connectivity and awareness, the growth of the youth population, the increasing size of the middle class, the effect of globalization, and India’s openness to the world. Of all these mega trends, the rise of the dominance of young people poses the greatest level of crisis and opportunity. The last two decades have witnessed tremendous economic growth in India. The next two decades may witness exponential growth along with its share of challenges to our society and the Church. Our young people will be the most impacted both in the urban and rural setting. How are we planning to face the future and lead our young people? Another important question we need to wrestle with is, how are we going to create room for young people to lead us forward in missions?

Consider the following:

Growing Options and Choices

We live in a world full of options and choices, whether it is news channels, brands, music, career, or even spiritual experiences. This is a generation that is chasing experiences through travel, spirituality, or whatever. We believe only the Gospel offers an authentic experience that appeals to the mind and the heart. How are we going to present it so that they see it not as an option but as the only option? How can we keep the purity of the Gospel clear in our lifestyles, making sure we are not merely urbanising youth but discipling them? We as leaders today need to wrestle together with the world of choices our young people face in order to serve them in making life-affirming choice.

Growing Issues of Boredom and Suicide

The Times of India carried an article on the 9th August 2009, which discussed research showing that young people drink when they’re bored. The survey claimed that almost 1 in 10 teenagers aged 16 and 17 drank alcohol at least once a week because they had nothing else to do.

It would seem that with the world full of entertainment we would not need to worry about boredom. Unfortunately this isn’t true. We are now surrounded by one of the most bored generations of all times. Boredom can be the result of many things. One key reason is a lack of purpose and meaning in life. Nothing can fill the vacuum that meaninglessness produces. Young people are living with holes in their hearts that they are unable to fill. That is perhaps one of the major reasons why depression is on the rise and suicide is now the fourth largest killer among teens. Today, more adolescents die of suicide than AIDS. More and more teenagers feel alone. At a time when all is set for happiness, deep within there is emptiness. How are we going to meet this need? There are many opportunities in the areas of counseling and hospitality, rebuilding lives, and offering hope. Young people today are looking for adventure – there’s really nothing wrong with this. In fact, we need to ask ourselves, how can we break away from status quo and the predictable – How can we model a life that’s authentic, courageous and passionate?

Growing interests about a Cause and a vibrant community

Global young people get passionate about a cause. They are angry at corruption, double standards, sex trafficking, and bio-ethical concerns, ready to fight for just causes. Unfortunately they don’t see the Church doing much in these areas. Young people are also attracted to community that is vibrant, real and passionate – a community that values innovation, ethnic cultures, and ideas. Young people are tired of being a part of a big Church that does not care for them or others. They are not impressed by clean and nice linear teachings. We need to re-look at the Mission of God and grapple with the meaning of what ‘integral mission’ is all about. We need to work toward developing sound youth theology and developing a sacred community in every secular city – a community that doesn’t just look inward, but engages the world with a very clear biblical life perspective. We need to be a community that disciples nations and takes on issues of injustice.

Louis Luzbetak says it right,  “The undeniable truth is that the Gospel will not be accepted by any society unless the ‘wares’ offered by the church be presented as missing in the culture, as the preferable solution actually demanded by the existing lifeway itself.”

We need to pray that God will raise cutting-edge leaders who will understand the times and be prophetic voices to our young people in leading them to the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  The new leader must be willing to let go of old paradigms of positional influence and instead become an expert in emotional intelligence and excel in the art of relationships. We need leaders who will impact their generation.

 

Billy Graham did it by his simple and anointed sermons.

Steve Jobs does it by creating excellent products.

Narayan Murthy by creating employment opportunities.

Azim Premzi by educating children.

Bill Gates & Warren Buffet by being great philanthropists.

Loren Cunningham by championing young people to co-create with God.

How will our next generation of leaders accomplish the dreams of God?

There are several ways we can attempt to champion our next generation leaders to accomplish the dreams of God. Some of them could be:

Help young people hear the voice of God and obey Him.

If our theology says that God is both Powerful and Personal then hearing God should not be a strange concept. These lessons are best modeled than taught. Do we do things only on the basis of research and boardroom discussions or do we do things based on hearing God’s voice? Young people can make out the difference between jobs done as a mere duty versus jobs done out of our passion for Jesus. The latter comes more naturally when we hear the voice of God. YWAM in India was born not with a few people sitting in a boardroom grappling missions on a cerebral level. Rather it was when young people heard the voice of God to go on a ‘hippie trail.’ These young people were convinced that the Lord had told them to journey the hippie trail reaching to many other young people that were turning East for metaphysical quests. They drove two Volkswagen vans and drove from Lausanne to Turkey to Afghanistan and into Delhi. That’s how the first YWAM team came to India…all in the ages of 18-22. To teach hearing God should not be an exaggerated emotional phenomenon and neither it should contained to rationalizing every step of missions. These values are to be modeled as we walk with the next generation.

Creating room for young people in Leadership

The secret to creating room for young people in leadership is first creating room for them in our hearts. Young people are full of potential. We all know this but it seems like young people have to really wait long to get a platform to lead us. The corporate culture is full of young people. Some CEO’s are in their early 30’s while many who

are leading the way are under the age twenty. We are not saying taking the position of older leaders and giving it away to younger people but rather, can we create more room for young people so that leadership gets younger, energetic and innovative?

Mastering the basics – Modelling Unity

If there is one thing different about young people today it is the fact that they think global. Globalisation has impacted youth more than others. Identity today is no longer defined by geography or ethnicity but by interest groups, passion points & hobbies. A software expert from UK may have more in common with another young software professional in Bangalore than his own English neighbour. We will see a rise in multi-cultural expressions everywhere. This should challenge us to think in terms unity more seriously. Unity is an unanswered prayer of Jesus today. Young people are watching our disunity. This distracts many youth from pursuing missions. Let us make a commitment to master the basics. The basics are to love one another. The NT letters are full of ‘one another’ verses. Its not just to love those that look and think like us but everyone regardless of their age, opinion, personality or gifting. We need to learn to go beyond tolerating our differences but rather we should do all we can to celebrate our diversity.

May the Lord help us to make room for Generation next…

 

 

 

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Media & Opportunities

Media and Opportunities – A Quick Thought
Lights, Camera, Action…these are some of the most repeated words in the making of any movie. God said, Let there be Light… The Bible is action packed with amazing stories of struggles, victories and Hope. It teaches us life affirming values. I get absolutely inspired by the structural setting of John 4. We often tend to under appreciate the way the author crafted this story – for example read John 4 with a camera mans perspective – What do you see? How many cameras do you see? I can almost imagine a spatial camera over the Samaritan woman when she runs back to her village in great excitement and can hear the sound track play at the background that resonates with celebrative emotions appealing to our senses. Then I see another camera almost at the same time focusing on the disciples when they return to Jesus with food – The point is so vivid here – the Samaritan woman took some time to understand what ‘Water’ was all about and these 12 disciples are unable to understand what ‘Food’ really means. This entire passage is a literary masterpiece. I wonder why Christians cannot make movies that will grab the attention of the viewers intellectually, emotionally and aesthetically. It is refreshing to see some great movies coming from the basket of Bollywood movie. Whether it is Chak De India or now the 3 Idiots these movies have the creative element to communicate some life affirming principles.It is time the Church in India should encourage young people to break way from the dichotomy we have created between “secular and sacred’ We need to encourage this young generation of Christians to seriously engage mass communication, digital communication and the world of media more seriously. There is almost an urgent need to engage the world of media and entertainment with values that demonstrate the nature and character of God. We don’t have to sound religious to make a valid point. “New Media” is becoming a very popular term for technologies that help us to communicate digitally. The Internet, and more importantly Web 2.0 applications, are rapidly changing the way we do business, build relationships, and entertain ourselves. But often we neglect to use these tremendous gifts as effective tools to enhance our personal witness to the nations. With rapidly increasing ties between countries and cultures, we would be guilty of apathy or indifference if we didn’t take a serious look at how these new technologies might be used to reach the unreached peoples of the world.

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