A Breath of Fresh Air
A Merry Heart
A Woman's World
A Word in Season
Acting Up
Cyber Walk
Faith Seekers
Golden Apples
Heaven Bound
Just Between Men
Ripe for the Harvest
Take it to Heart
Teen Truth
The Joy of Family
The Parents'
Survival Guide

The Rhythm of Life
The Treehouse
Through Their Eyes
'Tis the Season
We Are the Church
Well Read

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TeensLive in the Light
By Toni Smothers

We live in a culture that puts cell phones in almost every teenís hip pocket or purse and computers in most of your bedrooms. The media bombards you with what to want, what to wear, what size to be and what is and is not cool. Decadence hides behind tolerance and many of you fall for its lure. Hormones rage, but pre-marital sex is sinful.

Are you kidding me?

Yes, I know that everyone you know is having sex Ė or at least they act like it. Yet, you know in your heart that abstinence is Godís way. Your skin suddenly looks like the surface of the moon and hipster jeans were not made for any normal body. But, they are cool, so you wear them anyway and just feel self-conscious all the time about the little pouch trying to roll over the top.

Although you can have freedom from sinís confusion and walk in the light, all that sometimes gets mixed up with what to wear, whatís on the schedule and who is that new kid you saw sitting all alone in the cafeteria? He must be a loser.

Oops, that wasnít nice. Maybe heís just new. Well, you canít worry about some strange kid with all thatís on your mind.

And the most amazing part about your "messed up" life is that in-between all that confusion, you can be so totally forgiven and at peace within yourself Ė sometimes you forget that.

How can you strive to become more like the One who died for you? How do you actually do that "walk in purity" scenario? Itís not like it comes naturally.

No, itís not easy to deny yourself and often you donít want to do the things your parents or other adults want you to do. They sometimes treat you like wind-up toys and the trouble is that half the time you donít know which direction to go next. They wind you up with advice that seems overly simplistic, like, "Just say no", or "Remember you are a child of God." They honestly seem to think that your lifeís nothing but fun and that your choices are easily made because you are a Christian. So, off you go into the real world where you are exposed to a great deal more than "fun". In the end, itís mostly up to you to figure out how to do the right thing.

So how do you jump in with even a few of your own ideas or thoughts? Who do you trust with the boiling emotions within? Where do you turn when it all gets too much and you feel like you could just freak from the pressure?

Well, you need Jesus with you all the time. You need to make contact with Him though prayer every day. Tell Him what confuses you and find friends who will really be there for you. Check out your local church and Christian youth group. Stay connected to Christian fellowship.

Now, donít get me wrong. Not every kid in that group is "for real" either, but you do have a better chance of hooking up with some genuine friends. You just might find some friends that donít talk behind your back, or worse still, rag on you to your face. Then again, there are imposters everywhere in life and those kids arenít perfect either. God is still working on us all.

So, what does a basically normal, striving-to-be-well-adjusted teenager do? Again I say, go to the source Ė Jesus who waits with baited breath for your love and worship. Give Jesus a chance and see if He isnít everything He claims to be.

Know that Jesus doesnít want to condemn you or make you feel like a failure. He does want you to see your need for Him though. We all mess up sometimes. Show me someone who has never lied, or swiped a few extra of something, or gossiped about others, or gone too far with the opposite sex, or any myriad of things and Iíll show you a mannequin. There isnít any one of us that can claim to be continually walking in the light besides Jesus Christ. No one can do the right thing 24/7. So youíll have to resist that prideful part of you that doesnít want to admit mistakes and tell Him just what you have done in the past and ask for His forgiveness. Pour your heart out to the most compassionate man who ever walked the earth. He can renew you and fill you with his Holy Spirit.

A lot of teens blow the whole religion thing off. They figure thatís for the older generation. But donít wait till later to find your destiny and purpose. Donít miss todayís opportunities because youíre too busy to see them or too proud to search for them. Seek the Lord and all He has for you, just as you are. He will slowly guide you down paths that cleanse and restore your spirit. He is the only one who will love you and understand you unconditionally.

In Ephesians 5:16-17(NLT), it says, "So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you wonít be doing what your sinful nature craves. The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict."

And thatís why you need Jesus in your heart to talk to and to listen to Ė so you can make the right choices.

And, I have one other suggestion, try welcoming that new kid who looks lost and dorky. You know heís got to be suffering with the way he sticks out, being all alone and with no one to befriend him. You may be the only one all day who tries to help him feel acceptance. He might even become a true friend. (Read this monthís article, ĎWhere Eagles Soarí, and realize the kind of person you could be missing out on just because he doesnít look cool and probably isnít.) At the very least, you can do as Christ commanded in Matthew 25:40 (NLT), "And the King will tell them, I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me."

* * *

If you need a best friend, I highly recommend Jesus Christ our Lord. He will teach you how to be kind and how to cope.

Toni Smothers is a child of God, wife, mom, grandmother, writer and lay-speaker. She has had serious exposure to the rougher side of life and from that experience has been left with a heart full of love for others who struggle with learning about our beautiful Savior. Through her writing, Toni delights in helping young people especially, who are seeking to find a true, intimate relationship with their Heavenly Father. You can write to Toni through the Your Letters page of this magazine.
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