Search Results For "7 lies our culture tells"

One last lie to close out this series… (after a couple months of not finishing the originally intended 7)

In western culture today, sex is used to sell everything from domain names to beer to cars to fat, greasy cheeseburgers that are anything but sexy. Advertisers have connected sex with just about every product line out there in their efforts to entice buyers. At the same time, popular opinion seems to be that sex (for our species) is little more than a recreational way for our continued survival. It’s just sex... It’s no big deal… It doesn’t mean anything…

Our kids are told to do it safely, but let me ask an honest question… How many 17 year olds are primarily concerned about safety in any area of life? We’re being told the lie that sex doesn’t really matter, but shouldn’t it matter? Isn’t there more to it than biology or a sales pitch? Shouldn’t there be some meaning to our sex (and our lives as a whole, but that’s another issue)? If sex is indeed more than just a biological issue or a sales tactic, what kind of damage are we doing by treating it as less?

  • We’re forcing children to raise children, often without a dad to help guide the way. In Fatherless Generation (which I highly recommend you read), John Sowers shares that “children from fatherless homes account for 63% of youth suicides, 71% of pregnant teenagers, 90% of all homeless and runaway children, 71% of all high school dropouts, 85% of all youths sitting in prison.” Fatherlessness often starts with an attitude that sex doesn’t matter. “Hey, we were just having a good time, I’m not responsible for the kid…” One of the consequences to the “It’s just sex” mentality is that many young girls are left to figure out on their own how to raise the children created. (SIDE NOTE: Ministries like The Sparrow’s Nest near St. Louis are a great responsive step to help girls gain some solid footing as they start their parenting journey. Check out what they’re doing and support their efforts or find something similar in your area to help.)
  • We’re causing a trail of broken-hearted teen moms who thought their only hope was to terminate their pregnancy, or girls who thought her boyfriend would really love her if she just gave him what he wanted. Only, now that he got what he wants, he’s gone, headed for the next conquest. The sorrow these girls carry lamenting what could have been, can be a devastating weight at a critical time in their lives.
  • We’re leaving a bunch of angry and confused boys who thought having sex would earn them the respect they so desperately want, the recognition that they’re a man. Only, after the sex and the bragging were done, they’re still as unsure as ever of what it means to be a man and they still feel like they’re treated like little boys with no self-control. They feel like less than what they really are and can’t figure out what the problem is.

Often, the refrain is that “They’re consenting young adults, what’s the harm?” But there really is a great deal of damage being done in the name of the young, virile, & consenting. This lie is much more damaging than it might seem, so how do we shed the light on the truth?

Where culture wants to reduce sex, what if we made a bigger deal out of it? Instead of failing to teach about sex, what if we recognized and taught about sex as the incredible way God made of connecting man and wife? Sex is a spiritually and emotionally shared experience that is unlike anything else we can share. What if we did a better job teaching this? Health class isn’t going to cover it. If it’s just biology, then health class is right ~ be safe and do what you want. But it’s not just biology. The animals on discovery channel aren’t like you and I, so maybe we shouldn’t just follow their lead.

Additionally, we need to offer hope and redemption. In my experience, two things have led students to check out of student ministry more often than anything else: When they got car keys and a job to pay for the car, and when they had sex for the first time. The first is an issue of being too busy, but in the second case, they stop coming because what they hear causes them to feel worthless, like they’ve trashed the best thing they could ever have with no hope of restoration. The guilt piles onto the shame and leaves them blind to the fact that there is no sin that can drag them so deep they are beyond the reach of God’s love. We need to be careful not to just pour on more guilt. Remember the woman who got dragged in front of Jesus after being caught in the act? (Where was the guy by the way?) Jesus lovingly forgave her without adding to her shame. We need to follow His lead.

Finally, we need to teach our boys that being a man is about valuing humanity, not adding up scores. If we can teach them that, we can show this lie for what it really is.

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As I’m closing this article, I just found another post from Matt Walsh digging into this same lie. Check out “Abstinence is unrealistic and old fashioned” for a deeper look at one aspect of this lie.

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Check out the rest of this series here or each individual post at the following links:

One of the most damaging lies to believe is the lie that we’ve messed up our lives so badly that God has no place in His Kingdom for us anymore. This lie is so insidious because it sneaks in and steals our only hope. The truth is that we have made a wreck of ourselves (each of us) and separated ourselves from Him. And it’s also true that there is nothing we can do to set right what we’ve got wrong.

Does that sound like I just disagreed with myself? The truth is that we can’t fix what we have broken… but He can. Jesus humbled Himself to become one of us in order to bring forgiveness and restoration and reconciliation for each of us. There is no life so badly broken that He cannot restore us to wholeness in His Presence.

Consider Saul, a well educated young Pharisee, standing by at the execution of a disciple of Jesus named Stephen. Maybe he couldn’t have done anything to stop it, anyway, but he willingly watched as stone by stone, the Jewish mob brutally ended Stephen’s life. But it got worse. It seems once Saul got a taste of the whole ‘death to these radical upstarts’ mentality, he couldn’t get enough. He asked the authorities for permission to start rounding up Christians and locking them away… and worse. So they sent him out to do just that.

But Jesus, alive again at His Father’s side, had other plans! He met this man on a mission to destroy, and He completely altered the trajectory of Saul’s life. This would be murderer of Christians was made into a prolific church planter. His name was changed and he became known as the apostle Paul, sent (this time by Jesus) to start and spread the fires he previously desired to extinguish.

There is nothing you have done that God cannot undo. The sin that’s entangled you can be thrown off so that you can once again run the race He calls you into. Your sin is not too much for Him to handle. When you realize that, you position yourself to be a great ambassador to those who haven’t realized it yet.

  • Stay grateful for His grace in your life. His grace is about more than just saving you from your sin ~ it’s about bringing you to life! Every day stands as a monument to His grace at work in your life to accomplish His mission to reconcile. Don’t take that for granted. Depend on it.
  • Extend the same grace to others. Help them understand His grace by loving them through their mess.
  • Always hold out hope to those who have given up hope. There are people around you who think they’ve messed up so much that rescue is beyond hope. Give them hope.
  • Lead with love. There are people around you who think they’ve messed up so much that God’s love for them has reached it’s end. What if, instead of just telling them that what they’re doing is wrong (which they likely already know), what if you could show them that what they’re thinking about God’s love is wrong? What if you could show them His unending love by loving them with His love in tangible ways? You can. Don’t try to fix them or make them get themselves straightened out to earn your approval. Love them while they’re still sinners, just like Jesus does for you.

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Check out the rest of this series here or each individual post at the following links:

Archaic language… Varying translations, each with their own sort of issues… Apparent contradictions… Can we really understand what Scripture means to teach us? Many would say that no, we can’t really understand the Bible, so just leave it to the experts. Unfortunately, this claim isn’t examined as well as it should be before it’s accepted, resulting in church buildings full of people who don’t know what the Bible actually says. I mean, I can’t understand it anyway, so why bother? The preacher will steer me right anyway, won’t he?

But what if we really can understand it? What if we’re being lazy because we already do understand it, and it’s not easy to live it? In Jesus’ day, from time to time there were moments of his teaching where things got hard and people walked away. I wonder if our current Biblical ignorance is like that… Are we walking away from Scripture because it’s demanding?

I don’t ask this question flippantly. I think the Bible can be transformational if we allow it to soak into our lives and affect how we live and think and choose. But that’s the real issue, isn’t it… Will we let the Bible change us? There are definitely some areas of the Bible that require more work to understand than others, but what are we doing with the parts that we already do understand? Here are some quick thoughts to help you understand the Bible and also help the students in your life understand it as well.

  • Read it. This should maybe be obvious, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know it’s not. A lot of people don’t understand the Bible simply because they don’t ever spend any time with it.
  • Chew on it. After you read a passage, don’t just check it off on some list and move on. Think about it for a while. Come back and re-read it in another setting. Contemplate it. Yes, it’s hard to do this while running through life at the speed of sound, but make the effort.
  • Ask questions. Think of someone you know and respect whose life seems to show that they’ve got a pretty good handle on Scripture and are living lives that reflect Christ and ask them to help you understand. Engage your church via small groups and class discussions. The Bible is meant to be lived out in community.
  • Use a variety of study resources. Commentaries, Bible Dictionaries & Encyclopedias, etc. all can add to our understanding of the context of the original writings.
  • Filter all of it through the lens of Jesus. Christ is THE central figure of the Bible. Ask yourself how a passage you’re reading points toward him or flows out of his life and ministry.
  • Do what it says. The Bible isn’t a theoretical book of thought exercises. It’s meant to be lived out. Sometimes, greater understanding is the byproduct of willingly doing what we do understand.
  • Teach what you know. When you’ve spent some time with the Bible and have come to understand, share what you know with others. Whether this is a formal class setting, a small group, or just in discussion, this can be a valuable part of your growing understanding of what it says.

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Check out the rest of this series here or each individual post at the following links:

The lie that God is not needed exists on a couple different planes.

The first is in the big picture sense that God is not needed to explain the existence of a universe, our world, life on this planet, etc. It’s the claim that all of what we know and feel and experience of our universe has come from an infinitely dense particle of ever existent stuff that somehow was jolted into action by some eternal source of energy. It’s the claim that a Creator is not needed to explain that there is a creation. When it comes to arguing metaphysics, this is probably not the right forum, nor is a single blog post sufficient, so I’m going to bypass a lot of debate and just say this: For everything to exist, there either had to be an infinite, eternal personality acting to bring it into existence (God) OR there had to be some bit of life-matter randomly activated despite there being no cause for that to happen.

The more personal side of this lie is that God is not needed in life. “My life or yours could go on just fine without Him.” Growing up, we hear the mantra that we can be anything we want to be if we just work hard enough. I understand the sentiment, I want my kids to learn to work hard, too. But the truth is, there are some things that I do not have the capacity to do, and no amount of hard work will change that for me. The list of things I can’t do on my own is pretty substantial. There are a lot of avenues of life that would have never opened for me, even if I wanted them to and was willing to work hard to make it happen. Just for the record, much of what I do every day as a youth pastor is on that list.

I could never have made the difference I’ve made in the lives of my students under my own effort. The public speaking alone would have required more of me than I could have ever managed. I didn’t just have a typical fear of public speaking growing up, I absolutely loathed it and avoided it any way I could. My mind revolted at the thought of standing in front of people and sharing my thoughts, and my body complied. Words didn’t come out right, my legs involuntarily twitched like a fly-tormented horse, and my stomach would alternate between wanting to expel everything in it and growling at any onlookers close enough to be threatened by such an expulsion! Sophomore speech class was probably the first class I really had to work at to will myself to completion. And I managed because I had to, not because I was any good at giving a speech, then vowed to never speak in public again. But because this is what God led me to do, He’s enabled me to do it.

Maybe I’m projecting here, but I don’t think so; we need God to live and work in us in order to become what He dreams we can be. We need Him to help us become what we dream we can be. But maybe that makes us feel weak. Maybe we don’t like to admit that we can’t just pull ourselves out of the mess we’ve made. Maybe we’re afraid to acknowledge we’re not as self-sufficient as we pretend to be. But we face a gulf, created by our own sin, between our Father and ourselves and there is no hope of building a way across. We need the Way He already provided.

You can help the young people in your life see the folly of this lie by:

  • Depending on God. This isn’t just a lie that the young are being fed. Many of us more seasoned travelers have believed it too. We’re making due, but what if we could learn to truly depend on God to sustain us with His grace.
  • Acknowledging and showing your own need for God. There’s no need to pretend you have it all together, they suspect you don’t anyway.
  • Encouraging them to dream big… so big they can’t manage on their own. (And make sure they know they don’t have to make it alone.)

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Check out the rest of this series here or each individual post at the following links:

One of the consistent criticisms of the church from those who are not part of the church is that we are so judgmental – always telling other people where they’re wrong and holding them up to standards of behavior that we don’t even meet ourselves. This criticism has been leveled at the church pretty effectively lately, and it seems there are always a few Christians who make themselves available to be evidence that the criticism is right. Honestly, there are a lot of people taking shelter under the banner of Christ who are judgmental in ways that Jesus never was. For my part, I’m sure at times I’ve fed into the stereotype more than I’d like, and I’m sorry for that. I really am, and I’m working on it…

In today’s world, where tolerance trumps everything else, the worst behavior possible (in the eyes of many) is to appear to be intolerant of someone else’s thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. “Don’t judge.” seems to be the prime directive. But this kind of tolerance is misleading at best. The truth is, we all make judgments all the time about all kinds of things, and situations, and yes, even people. We get great service at a restaurant and leave a bigger tip than if the food had been served cold and rudely. We see a quarterback throw the ball in the dirt and judge that he’s unfit for the position. We read of a politician texting out pictures of who knows what and judge that he’s probably not the guy we want to trust with decisions that affect hundreds of thousands of people. If the registered sex offender who lives next door volunteers for babysitting duty at your house, you’re probably going to make a judgment call, right?

It’s not making judgments that is really the problem, though. It’s when fingers are pointed and condemnation is thrown around without any attempt to understand. But the answer isn’t the “ignore it and let them do whatever they want” kind of tolerance that is taught today. I’m casting a pretty wide net here, I know, but I don’t think that kind of tolerance actually does anything to help anyone in any way. But love does. The Bible tells us that “love covers over a multitude of sins” so we should “love each other deeply”.

  • We need to learn to love people we don’t agree with philosophically.
  • Ask your students about the diversity they experience in their world and discuss how they can display the character of Jesus to every stripe of that diversity.
  • We need to love people enough to help them get untangled from the sin that’s eating them alive. It’s not enough to shout at a drowning man that he’s going to drown if he doesn’t learn to swim soon.
  • Teach your kids how to love deeply enough to love past sins without just ignoring them or their consequences.

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Check out the rest of this series here or each individual post at the following links:

There’s a line of thinking that’s being passed on that says what you believe doesn’t really matter as long as you’re sincere about it and you don’t try to impose your beliefs on someone else. There will be more to say about the tolerance side of things later, but I want to look first at this lie that all religions are the same, so it doesn’t matter which one you follow. The thinking seems to be that all religious systems are aimed at making their followers into good people. By following the religiously accepted practices, I can become a better man. Whether I get better as a Buddhist or a Christian or a Hindu or a Mormon doesn’t matter, according to this line of thinking, what matters is that I improve.

The problem with that is, it just doesn’t work. At the pinnacle of accomplishment in every religion stands a man or woman who is still woefully short of even their own ideals, hopeless to reconcile what is with what they know should be.

The truth is that there is no religious system that will make me good enough. I have broken and scarred what is most integral to my own identity and there is no rule or order I can follow to fix that. Who I am has gotten buried in the rubble of what I’ve done, and religion offers no hope of uncovering me. There is, however, a person I can follow who has set out and done everything He can do to restore what should be and to reconcile me with my Maker, His Father. He never lost sight of who He really was. He never failed to live up to the image that was stamped within Him. And when they put Him in a hole in the ground, unlike millions of other dead bodies before and since He didn’t stay there!

The fact of Jesus’ resurrection changes everything about any kind of self-improvement scenario. No matter how great I am at following the religious rules, I could never pull off what He did. There’s no point trying. I can never get good enough to defeat death. So, when I find someone who ripped the teeth out of death’s ugly face… I’m His.

To keep this lie from gaining more ground in the next generation than it already has, I think we can:

  • Help young people see that various religions don’t just disagree with Jesus, they disagree with each other, too. Study other religions with your students to gain an understanding of the mutually exclusive claims they each make.
  • Take off the masks of Christian perfection and transparently follow Jesus. Our kids know we’re not perfect and we’re not helping them by pretending. This whole thing isn’t about perfection, it’s about following the Son back to the Father.
  • Seek to grow in our own understanding of Jesus. Who is He, really? Where can our kids and students see Him in our lives?
  • Stop following the established religious order and follow Jesus instead. Don’t just be a Catholic because you’re family was Catholic… (substitute Lutheran/Presbyterian/whatever-brand-your-family-chose here if you need to).

There is one Way that is different from any other. Many will reject it anyway, but let’s make sure the next generation can see that way as clearly as possible.

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Check out the rest of this series here or each individual post at the following links:

Culture today is selling our kids a load of lies. Whether it’s the garbage spewed from the VMA stage (which shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been paying attention for the last 20 or 30 years, and which unfortunately overshadows any real skill and artistry present on that same stage) or the glossy ads holding out an airbrushed and photo shopped version of reality, we can’t count on the larger society to provide the next generation with the substance of truth. I want to dig into a few of the most prevalent lies I’ve noticed lately and talk about a few ideas you can use to reveal truth to the young people around you at work and at home. I’d love to hear from you – share your stories of how you’ve seen these lies at work and what you’ve done to share truth to light the darkness these lies perpetuate.

Lie #1* Money matters and provides safety/security.

You may have heard commercials lately about investing in gold or silver or other ‘precious metals’. They tout the downfall of the dollar and point to gold as a safe place to store your wealth because of gold’s “intrinsic value”. The argument is that your cash is just paper with an assigned value, subject to being re-valued at the whim of whatever market or political power is asserting it’s agenda. Your $100 bill is only worth a hundred dollars because that’s the value it’s been assigned. Gold, on the other hand, has intrinsic value (they say) – a value that stands on it’s own just because of the nature of the object itself (in this case, gold). The problem is, it’s just not true. Gold is only worth something because humanity has assigned it value.

Your kids probably aren’t listening to Glenn Beck talk about gold investing, though, so what’s the point here? It’s that we assign value to money/wealth as if they matter, but the truth is that all money is temporary and can’t provide any of the real security and meaning that we seek in life. Wealthy people die everyday, just like people with nothing. They get to take one expensive suit with them into a small box that will be buried, and every other shred of wealth they’ve accumulated will be given to others. But we’ve bought this lie that money matters, so we trade away our time and efforts for chunks of money called paychecks. We withdraw into offices and cubicles and work sites in order to ‘be productive,’ and we sacrifice relationships with the people we love (who actually DO have intrinsic value).

Thankfully, this lie seems to be losing some traction with younger generations. Global information, available at the touch of a few keys, has revealed a whole world of people who have next to no money, many of whom are living vibrant lives full of meaning amidst the poverty around them. This revelation has been accompanied by a hunger for meaningful relationships, so many young people are refusing to trade time with the ones they love for for money and a couple weeks of vacation each year. But even as they turn their ears from the sirens of wealth, we tell them to work hard in school so they can get into a good college so they can get a good job? What do we really mean? Are we complicit in culture’s lie that money matters? Too often, this is a lie that we adults have bought, too.

Our students don’t always handle this tension in healthy ways, as evidenced by the growing number of unemployed and disengaged youth hanging out in their parents basements playing xbox, but this re-assesment of what is really valuable leaves the door wide open for the truth of relationships: people matter. We need to teach our kids that every person matters, as they carry the image of our creator. And beyond that, we need to teach them how to develop real relationships with people who will walk through life with them as real friends and family.

Here are a few suggestions to try to do just that:

  • Get outside together. We need to step away from the screens that hold our attention and go do something (almost anything) with the young people in our lives.
  • Meet your neighbors.
  • Spend more time at parks and areas where you’ll meet new people.
  • Stop watching commercials that tell you what you need. If you really needed it, would it actually take a million dollar ad campaign for you to realize that you needed it?
  • Stop borrowing money to get stuff you don’t really need.

As I look at that list, I feel like our young people are taught this lie because we’ve believed it and modeled it for them. Let’s model something else.

 

*These aren’t necessarily in any order of importance or anything, just how they came to mind.

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Check out the rest of this series here or each individual post at the following links: