Teaching Teens the Ways of God

How to Reach the Hearts of the Young

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They are not little kids, nor are they adults. They are teenagers -- hurricanes of hormones and emotions transitioning from adolescence to adulthood as fast as they can in an increasingly malicious world. More than ever, parents need to oversee and watch over, not lord over, their teenage children. Yes, children. They are not 'of age' and while young, they remain the responsibility of their parents/guardians. Even when they reach 18, teenagers need solid, loving, caring role models. At any age, they need the truth.

There is good news! God's Word is truth and can reach the hearts of people in every stage of life, even teenagers.

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

"The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever." ( Psalm 119:160)

Getting children into reading and learning God's Word early in their lives is imperative so that teen years are not everything the world says they will be. When teen years arrive, ideally there are already some habits and parameters established. If not, principles may be harder to implement. Even so, never underestimate the power of God's Word and prayer.

Today's teens are exposed to and dealing with an overwhelming gamut of concerns: drug and alcohol abuse, various disorders and prescription drug use, and associated side effects such as depression, suicidal and violent tendencies, eating disorders and sexual anxieties. Driving, dating, online safety, social networking websites, peer pressures, rebellion, home life, gambling and shoplifting are also among the issues teens are dealing with every day, and there's more. Self image, self esteem, clothing and hair styles, along with body art such as piercings and tattoos are all things thrown in the faces of young people today.

Helping young people to develop goals and good, healthy habits will result in huge dividends, such as exercising and staying physically fit, eating healthy foods and carefully selecting activities and friendships. Keeping up with schoolwork is important, as is working a part-time job or volunteering for non-profit organizations and helping those less fortunate. Media selections such as music, movies, books, magazines, and television shows are all stimuli to monitor. In a busy, noisy, chaotic environment, times of quietness for contemplation are essential.

Obviously, being a part of church youth activities is vital. Daily Bible reading and prayer times are especially helpful with the use of devotionals, messages that address present-day challenges and temptations. The following are a few topics with suggested verses and thoughts.

Resisting Temptation
"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." (James 1:12-15)

Temptation itself is not sin. Jesus was tempted in all points, yet He did not sin. It does not become sin until the temptation is acted on. Be honest and truthful. Become transparent and develop a circle of friends that are a support system. Include parents, and a pastor and/or youth pastor at church. Realize that no one is really all alone in this life.

Loneliness
"For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5b)

God is everywhere-present. He is always with and for His children.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up." (Eccl. 4:9-10)

Plan time and activities with others. Serve and help others.

Anger
"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." (Proverbs 16:32)

Controlling thoughts and actions is wise and enables one to avoid conflicts.

Trusting God
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5,6)

God's Word is rich with practical principles applicable to situations and matters of life. Young people can learn, and need to be taught how to think things through and develop foresight, shown the possible outcomes of the decisions they are considering. God's Word is the light of truth for their feet and the lamp for their path.

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Written by: Pete Miller