Archives For Peer-Pressure


1 I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up
and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

As for me, I said in my prosperity,
“I shall never be moved.”
By your favor, O Lord,
you made my mountain stand strong;
you hid your face;
I was dismayed.

To you, O Lord, I cry,
and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!
O Lord, be my helper!”

11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Remember the four-fold process from the last post? Let’s follow it through this psalm just to let you get a hang of how to organize it?

Introduction:

1 I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up
and have not let my foes rejoice over me.

Report of Crisis:

Verse 2 – “Cried for help”

Verse 3 – “Sheol”

Verse 9 – “The pit” “death”

Verse 11 – “Mourning” “Sackcloth”

Deliverance as An Accomplished Fact:

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

Conclusion: A Vow to Praise

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Do you see how this works? Remember, there are always nuances to this but you saw the format as it played out. This is an individual psalm of thanksgiving, meaning, it is a very personal psalm. We do not know the circumstances behind this psalm but it probably was during a time in David’s life where he experienced some type of physical illness or even some depression. Perhaps there was loss (“mourning”) somewhere but the thankfulness expressed to God was an accomplished fact. God did it and it was a time to rejoice.

Verse 11 shows just how joyful David was. His mourning was turned to dancing (If you have a legalistic background change the word “dance” to choreography if that makes you feel better :)). But the moment of joy came in God hearing his lament. Because of this, David will come to God with a gracious and grateful heart. David got a little cocky (vv. 6-7) with God trusting perhaps in his own riches rather than the riches of God.

“Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God” (Rom. 11:33).

You ever trust in yourself rather than in the Almighty? Do you trust in your strength? Do you trust in your intellect? Do you trust in your status? David said God made his mountain stand strong. Any strength he had came from God and God alone. Give thanks to God for his wonderful blessings.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss a time when your weeping/mourning was turned into joy/dancing?
  2. Has the Western mindset of “do-it-yourself” hindered our spiritual growth? How so?
  3. Why is it important to remember God’s deliverance and to be thankful for those times He answered?

 

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© articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Let me start with my story so that you can understand where I am coming from. First, I have to give a disclaimer. I was taught to be careful when disclosing information about my past as it might give license for people to justify their actions. Sort of a “Well Robbie went through it so can I” mentality. I think the readers of this post know better than that so please do not misinterpret my story as license. Secondly, I am not sure why I am telling all of you this now as many of you are finding this out for the first time. I guess because I have seen a few of my own youth struggle and have heard of so many others that I feel it is probably time to share my story. I have been ashamed of my past and have told very few people but now I am no longer ashamed because the past is what has made me into the man I am right now. In the words of Paul:

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. (1 Cor. 15:9-10).

I hope this post (albeit long) will help you if your child is using drugs or if you are using drugs and are reading this. I certainly did not get mixed-up heavy into drugs but nonetheless…

My Story

I was in the sixth grade when I first tried marijuana.

Let that sink in a bit.

I was 12 years old. Some neighborhood buddies and I had skipped school and we had gone into the woods when a guy pulled out this little bag filled with what looked like grass clippings to me. I remember he pulled out this weird looking pipe and put the “grass clippings” into this pipe and inhaled as he lit it. The stuff smelled like body odor with a hint of the smell when one burns leaves. It was my turn to take a “hit” from the pipe. I inhaled and coughed my brains out. I felt nothing… My friends were acting like idiots while I felt nothing.

The next time I tried it was when I was in the 8th grade. My buddy and I went to the top of a hill by the elementary school I attended and I tried it again. Only this time I felt something. I felt good. I felt relaxed. It was amazing. They tell you “Nothing beats the feeling of your first high” and you really don’t understand what that means until you experience it. From that moment on, I was hooked.

I would smoke on and off maybe once or twice a week but I remember longing for the moments where I would be able to smoke weed the next time. After my 8th grade year I moved to Chattanooga and I thought maybe my bad times were behind me but sometimes your past catches up with you and you find the same people just in a different context. I continued smoking on and off. I started attending a Christian high-school and I thought my past was behind me.

I met some Christians who smoked weed as well and my past was not behind me.

The last time I smoked weed was the fall of 1998. I met this girl whose father was a youth minister and I became a Christian and suddenly weed was not important to me. I am not sure if I was addicted to it because I usually did it with other people and it was more social for me. But I did like it. I could share countless stories of staying up at night, running from the police, my parents finding out and all sorts of other stories. I tried LSD once and drank some alcohol but weed was my drug of choice. I did it to escape. I did it because it felt good. I did it because my friends did it.

Shortly after that, I received the news that one of my best friends growing up (who I smoked with) overdosed and died from drug use. I never got to say goodbye.

I was walking in San Francisco this past weekend leaving a Giants-Braves game and I caught a whiff of weed someone was smoking among the crowd. Even almost 15 years without touching the stuff my body had tingles and my mind traced back to those many days.

So why this post? Why my story? I hope to give you advice on what to do based on experience with what my parents did but also watching and learning from others.

HOW TO HELP YOUR TEEN…OR HOW HOW TO HELP YOU.

First off, don’t panic. I saw a stat that said that teen marijuana use is actually more than teen cigarette use. I know that your child using drugs is difficult and somewhat hard to fathom but your child needs your careful, objective and loving guidance and that takes some discernment and patience. I knew of a guy whose parents sent him off to rehab because he had tried some weed. Maybe there was more to the story but it seems it would have been better for them to discern then to panic and make rash decisions.  That does not mean minimize what they have done but don’t maximize it either.

Secondly, understand this could be a long road. Depending on their drug (mine was small in comparison) they could be in for a long road to recovery. Especially if meth, heroine, crack, cocaine and other highly addictive drugs are involved. It takes some patience, love and support to walk them through this. Remember, you are wrestling against evil and dark forces and every part of them does not want you to win. Seek the Lord’s counsel and help.

Thirdly, trust has to be earned. They broke trust when they started using drugs and it has to be earned and gained in order for them to have certain privileges. So the questioning of who they are talking to, where they are going, what are the text messages, let me see the Facebook, what did you do at school, and others are legitimate exercises to learn and earn trust.

Fourth, context is key to help. What I mean by that is what helped me was finding the right friends and purging myself of old ones. As harsh as that sounds I knew that if I was going to be clean I had to remove the unclean context. They were close friends but I knew that they would find new ones and maybe down the road when I was more mature and the time was right we could be friends again. I don’t understand why people who struggle with drugs go back to their druggie friends. That’s like saying you hate cold weather and want to rid yourself of it so you buy a house in Fairbanks, Alaska. Makes no sense. Context is key.

Fifth, find a support group, specifically one that is Christian. Ideally your home church network should be that support group but you also need to network among those parents who are struggling in a similar manner. Nobody wants to be alone and it helps to have fellow travelers who have been there and done that and can share the wounds and the victories.

Sixth, love your child unconditionally. They may scream at you. They may run away. They may struggle for years. They may cost you thousands of dollars. They may do unthinkable amounts of evil. But you love them. Unconditionally as Christ loved you. That doesn’t mean they go undisciplined or that they drain your savings but it means you relentlessly pursue them until they live a life of glorification to God. Sometimes we lose the ones we love the most but more often than not teenagers find healing and sobriety from relentless parents and a relentless God.

I hope this helps and has encouraged and strengthened you. What would you add?


I have been a fan of Yellowcard since they released their epic album “Ocean Avenue” in 2003. I have loved just about every song they have come out with. Their new album “Southern Air” looks to be a great album and I absolutely love the song “Here I am Alive.” In the video it portrays a couple of junior-high kids who have dreams but come across some bullies who say, “You are never getting out of this town.”

I thought about my own dreams and where I am now. The song seems to speak some truth to life about how there are ups and downs but we are still alive. He poses a question, “If I could write myself when I was young.” I have written on this before but if you could write a letter to your younger self what would you say?

What would you say to your dreams?

What would you say to your struggles?

What would you say to your family and friends?

What things would do differently?

This kind of thing allows us to think about what we use to hold important but no longer do but also things we gave up on and said that we could never do. Things people told us we would never accomplish.

Yet…

Here we are…

…alive.

Maybe we need to dream again.

What should you dream about?

What could you do?

Watch the video below. I hope you enjoy it.


Teenagers passing drugsI was sitting in the living room watching TV on a break from college when I received a phone call from an old friend in Marietta, Georgia.  I welcomed the call because it had been ages since I last heard his voice.  I expected a long conversation about how things were going and talks about college and all the fun we both were experiencing.  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  Ryan, what’s up man?  Been a long time, huh?

Ryan:  (quietly and somewhat hesitant) Hey Robbie.  I don’t know if you heard yet but Johnny has died of an overdose.

Me:  (sitting down…mouth open) What?

Johnny and I were best friends until I moved from Marietta, Georgia to Chattanooga, Tennessee and we grew apart after that.  We went in different directions knowing that the path he was taking lead him to some pretty dark places in this world.  Johnny was in to the drug scene and eventually died because of it.

We all have our “Johnny’s” we can share as the rate of alcohol and drug use among teenagers is consistently (and unacceptably) too high.  A Tennessee  High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey (please click here for scary statistics) conducted in 2009 indicated that close to 70% of teens grades 9-12 have at least tried alcohol once.  There’s more…

  • 20% drank alcohol before the age of 13
  • 19% Had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row within a couple of hours on at least 1 day.  (during the 30 days before the survey)
  • 37% had used marijuana at least once in their lifetime.
  • 12% said they had sniffed glue, breathed the contents of aerosol spray cans, or inhaled any paints or sprays to get high one or more times
    (during their life).

That’s only in Tennessee but you can check any state using this website (http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/YouthOnline/App/Default.aspx).  The sad part is that there is drug and alcohol use in the church.  Some parents struggle with it…some students struggle with it and all they hear from the church is “don’t do it.”  But they do!  Why?  Rich Van Pelt and Jim Hancock in their book Helping Teenagers in Crisis give eight reasons (pp. 200-03):

  1. Curiosity
  2. Peer Pressure
  3. Fun
  4. Mimicking
  5. Declaration of Independence
  6. Disinhibition – “I drink because it helps me be myself.”
  7. Escape
  8. Addiction

Youth ministers, parents and students we fight an upward battle where many people are against us.  Teenagers just do not get the ramifications of alcohol and drugs.  For example, did you know that there is a direct correlation between drug and alcohol use and sexual activity?  If you find someone who is struggling with drugs and alcohol I can almost guarantee that on some level they are struggling sexually.  They may not be having sexual relations but odds are they are looking at pornography or sexually pleasing themselves.   There is also conflicting narratives teens hear from adults or college students.  It is true that the bible does not condemn having a glass of wine here and there but my question is, “Why bother?”  It’s expensive…in order to know your limit you have to push your limit which is a selfish motive in the first place.

So how do we help?

ENGAGE (Van Pelt and Hancock, 204-07)!

  • Look for the signs of drug and alcohol abuse (withdrawal, mood swings, resistance to authority, behavior problems like stealing or vandalism, changes in eating habits, unexpected health issues).    The signs are, “inexplicable, unprecedented and persistent.”
  • As youth ministers we need to encourage parents to face reality.  They may be in denial but we need to gently push them to face the facts.
  • Affirm the parents desire to help their children work through this.
  • Encourage professional help where needed.

Youth ministers we need to conitinually teach about drugs and alcohol and the dangers in them but we also need to help bear the burdens of those who are addicted.  If you have a teen or a parent who is addicted DO NOT GIVE UP ON THEM!!!  They will relapse, frustrate you and then come back again only to relapse again.  Rome was not built in a day and addictions built over a period of time do not go away without time.  It takes a while and it takes a village and it takes a God!!!  Which leads me to the conclusion…if healing is going to happen it must be in the redemptive arms of God.  I want to close in an odd way…will you pray for those who are struggling with alcohol and drugs?  Will you mention them by name?  Will you read Psalm 103 below and pray?  Will you then contact a person who is struggling either by a letter, phone call or text telling them you are there to help?

1 Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the LORD, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the LORD, my soul.

 


African American teenaged student holding Help signWhen it comes to the faith formation of young people, we can confidently make two observations. First, parents matter most. Second, peers matter a whole lot too. Study after study has shown that adolescents who experience a vibrant faith at home are much more likely to stay devoted throughout life. However, we know that peers make a significant impact as well. Quite simply, if the closest friends of a teenager are people of faith, he or she is much more likely to be a person of faith, and the opposite holds true as well. This much we have learned from research.

Now, what does the Bible have to say on the influence of peers?

Let’s start with the wisdom of the Proverbs writer. He tells us that those who seek the wisdom of God will “walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous” (2:20).

Later, the writer goes a step further with a contrast: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (13:20).

Now, let’s throw in this ancient Greek adage the Apostle Paul employs: “Bad company ruins good morals” (I Corinthians 15:33).

The Bible, as we can see, clearly tells us that choosing the right friends is important because they hold sway over our decisions.

There. Now we’ve got our sociological and our theological reasons for hanging out with the right crowd. But you already knew this was true, right? Even without the witness of survey research and the Scriptures, we instinctively know that the company we keep matters; that our friends can greatly impact and even alter the paths our lives will take. This is unquestionably true! However, believing something is not the same as practicing it. How well do we let this reality inform our ministry to young people? Here are three suggestions for ministry, based on the truth that peers make a big difference on faith:

First, let’s hang on to and defend the fun, social events in youth ministry. The great influence of peers on faithfulness validates these! Current forms of youth ministry are being critiqued by many voices. However, one of the things we’ve gotten right is this: there is value in simply “getting these kids together.” Since peers make such a substantial difference on the faith of young people, every journey to Six Flags is justified, every tiring lock-in is warranted, and every trip to the bowling alley is vindicated. These and other fun events give kids of faith a chance to be with other kids of faith. Being together forms bonds which grow into friendships and young Christians need to have friendships with other young Christians to increase the likelihood that they will profess Christ throughout life.

Second, it may be helpful for churches and youth ministries to focus their ministry efforts on clusters instead of individuals. This game plan would match up better with the current social landscape of adolescents. Young people today join themselves together in tight-knit peer groups that Chap Clark calls clusters. Listen to his explanation: “Today, high schools are populated by smaller groupings of friends, or clusters, who navigate as a unit the complex network of social interdependence with a loyalty similar to that of a family” (Chap Clark, Hurt, 74-75). We lose far too many kids for this stated reason: “I just don’t have any friends in the group.” However, if we reach out to entire clusters of friends, we can potentially change this perennial problem. And if we just can’t reach an entire cluster, then we must aim to create new clusters of Christian young people within the church.

Third, let’s remind our young people of the greatest peer of all: Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, scripture tells us that the Lord would speak to Moses “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11). That’s a pretty close relationship. But now through Jesus Christ, God brings Himself nearer than at any other time in history. Jesus is not only our Savior and Lord, but also our Friend. He can help us in temptation because he suffered through temptation himself (Hebrews 2:18). He intercedes for us, going to God on our behalf and cleansing us from sin (Hebrews 7:25; I John 1:7). Jesus’s friendship can compensate for lackluster and imperfect friendships on earth. To be sure, teenagers need to know that Jesus is their definitive Lord. But they also need to know that He is their perfect Peer.

What do you think about these suggestions? What are some other implications for ministry from the truth that peers greatly impact the faith of young people?

Joseph Horton has been the youth and family minister at the Winchester Church of Christ for nearly four years now. He graduated from Freed-Hardeman University and is now working toward an MDiv at Harding Graduate School of Religion. He is married to Lauren and they have a six-month old daughter, Elise. Above all, he loves the Lord and seeks to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.