See You At The Pole – Happening NOW!

As the sun comes up today, teenagers around the country are meeting at the flag poles on their school campus to pray.

To pray for their peers, school, community, state, nation, and much much more.  Would you pause for a moment to lift these teens up in prayer right now?  They need boldness today.  They need the presence of God today.  They need the church supporting them as they are the missionaries on those campuses that we can never be.

There will be many opportunities to share why they met around that flag pole as the day goes on.  May the name of Jesus be lifted high and prayers be answered!

Encourage your students to take their place around the flag pole and join a nation in prayer.

SYATP_THEME_ARTWORK_LORES

Teenagers Thrive From Quality Time With Parents

Do teenagers want to hang out with their parents? The answer may seem obvious…NO!

Yet, in this study released by Susan McHale, a professor of human development at Penn State University, and reported on by U.S. News (Health day News section), the answer may shock you.

While teenagers certainly may want to spend less public time with their parents, they may actually want to spend more private time together. This private time with parents—especially with fathers in this study—is connected with higher self-esteem and social confidence. Here is a quote from the U.S. New article supporting this finding.

The study authors were surprised to discover that when fathers spent more time alone with their teenagers, the kids reported they felt better about themselves. “Mothers weren’t unimportant, but they are kind of a given in most families,” said McHale. “Mothers’ roles are very scripted: they’re caregivers, activity planners.”

Something about the father’s role in the family seemed to boost self-esteem among the teenagers in the study, McHale said. What most differentiated some families from others was how much the dad was typically around and whether he devoted some of that time to be with his children, she explained.

The article is titled “Teens Benefit by Spending More Time with Parents”. While this may sound elementary to some, in our culture it is becoming more and more rare. The normal today is far removed from the 50s sitcom style family. Today the general rule is both parents work and the children follow suite by leading an over-schedulized extracurricular lifestyle. Parents and/or teenagers who spend quality time at home is now the exception, not the rule for the modern family.

So why does “higher self-esteem and social confidence” grow from a healthy relationship between parent and teenager? I believe it is because children model themselves after their parents example. If a teen can look deeply into the example set before them through quality private time, they then have a firm foundation on which to build as they enter into adulthood. They learn who they are better when parents (especially dads) make that relational investment into their children.

So what does this all boil down too? Spend time with your teenager. Even if they say they don’t want to, find time to just be together. It will impact you child immensely as they develop into an adult. Even if they cannot (or dare not) actually say that they want to hang out with you, the chances are it would be beneficial for you both if you would make it a priority to do so.

So plan that getaway. Take a special day off work. Make that intentional effort to connect with your teenager. They need you!

Your fellow worker in the field, Adam

Letter to an Incomplete, Insecure Teenager; by John Piper

This letter is a must read for anyone who has ever felt incomplete.  John Piper describes how he was not a “caterpillar” who disappeared into a cocoon only to emerge as beautiful butterflies when the time was right. But he (and all of us) are more like frogs who publicly transform from a tadpole to a frog with all the awkward stages in-between.

In this rare occasion that John Piper speaks to a teenager, we receive a skillful description of the process of sanctification and some real encouragement along the way. Check out the original article here. Read the whole thing, it’s worth it!

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Four years ago a teenager in our church wrote to me for advice about life in general, and identity in particular. Here is what I wrote, with a big dose of autobiography for illustration.

Dear ________,

My experience of coming out of an introverted, insecure, guilty, lustful, self-absorbed adolescent life was more like the emergence of a frog from a tadpole than a butterfly from a larva.

Larvae disappear into their cocoons and privately experience some inexplicable transformation with no one watching (it is probably quite messy in there) and then the cocoon comes off and everyone says oooo, ahhh, beautiful. It did not happen like that for me.

Frogs are born teeny-weeny, fish-like, slimy, back-water-dwellers. They are not on display at Sea World. They might be in some ritzy hotel’s swimming pool if the place has been abandoned for 20 years and there’s only a foot of green water in the deep end.

But little by little, because they are holy frogs by predestination and by spiritual DNA (new birth), they swim around in the green water and start to look more and more like frogs.

First, little feet come out on their side. Weird. At this stage nobody asks them to give a testimony at an Athletes in Action banquet.

Then a couple more legs. Then a humped back. The fish in the pond have already pulled back: “Hmmm,” they say, “this does not look like one of us any more.” A half-developed frog fits nowhere.

But God is good. He has his plan and it is not to make this metamorphosis easy. Just certain. There are a thousand lessons to be learned in the process. Nothing is wasted. Life is not on hold waiting for the great coming-out. That’s what larvae do in the cocoon. But frogs are public all the way though the foolishness of change.

I think the key for me was finding help in the Apostle Paul and C. S. Lewis and my father, all of whom seemed incredibly healthy, precisely because they were so absolutely amazed at everything but themselves.

They showed me that the highest mental health is not liking myself but being joyfully interested in everything but myself. They were the type of people who were so amazed that people had noses—not strange noses, just noses—that walking down any busy street was like a trip to the zoo. O yes, they themselves had noses, but they couldn’t see their own. And why would they want to? Look at all these noses they are free to look at! Amazing.

The capacity of these men for amazement was huge. I marveled and I prayed that I would stop wasting so much time and so much emotional energy thinking about myself. Yuk, I thought. What am I doing? Why should I care what people think about me. I am loved byGod Almighty and he is making a bona fide high-hopping frog out of me.

The most important text on my emergent frogishness became 2 Corinthians 3:18 —

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.

This was one of the greatest secrets I ever discovered: Beholding is becoming.

Introspection must give way to amazement at glory. When it does, becoming happens. If there is any key to maturity it is that. Behold your God in Jesus Christ. Then you will make progress from tadpole to frog. That was a great discovery.

Granted, (so I thought) I will never be able to speak in front of a group, since I am so nervous. And I may never be married, because I have too many pimples. Wheaton girls scare the bejeebies out of me. But God has me in his hand (Philippians 3:12) and he has a plan and it is good and there is a world, seen and unseen, out there to be known and to be amazed at—why would I ruin my life by thinking about myself so much?

Thank God for Paul and Lewis and my dad! It’s all so obvious now. Self is simply too small to satisfy the exploding longings of my heart. I wanted to taste and see something great and wonderful and beautiful and eternal.

It started with seeing nature and ended with seeing God. It started in literature, and ended in Romans and Psalms. It started with walks through the grass and woods and lagoons, and ended in walks through the high plains of theology. Not that nature and literature and grass and woods and lagoons disappeared, but they became more obviously copies and pointers.

The heavens are telling the glory of God. When you move from heavens to the glory of God, the heavens don’t cease to be glorious. But they are un-deified, when you discover what they are saying. They are pointing. “You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy” (Psalm 65:8).

What are the sunrise and sunset shouting about so happily? Their Maker! They are beckoning us to join them. But if I am grunting about the zit on my nose, I won’t even look out the window.

So my advice is: be patient with the way God has planned for you to become a very happy, belly-bumping frog. Don’t settle for being a tadpole or a weird half-frog. But don’t be surprised at the weirdness and slowness of the process either.

How did I become a preacher? How did I get married? God only knows. Incredible. So too will your emergence into what you will be at 34 be incredible. Just stay the course and look. Look, look. There is so much to see. The Bible is inexhaustible. Mainly look there. The other book of God, the unauthoritative one—nature—is also inexhaustible. Look. Look. Look. Beholding the glory of the Lord we are being changed.

I love you and believe God has great froggy things for you. Don’t worry about being only a high-hopping Christlike frog. Your joy comes from what you see.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

There is another metamorphosis awaiting. It just gets better and better. God is infinite. So there will always be more of his glory for a finite mind to see. There will be no boredom in eternity.

Affectionately,

Pastor John