This month we have been studying Joseph in our Bible class at church. He was a facinating man. Even in his youth he apparently did not lose his trust in God even through he was almost killed by his brothers but then sold to foreigners to be a slave, sent to prison on false charges, forgotten by a released prisoner that he helped, and lived in a land full of idolatry. Joseph did not understand how God could make all of these things work out for the good but, later in life, he realized that God was preserving his family, and ultimately fulfilling his promises to Abraham, through this series of unfortunate events.
When you are faced with troubles or it seems like life is not going the way you think it should, remember Joseph. Remember that God “will make all things work together for good” for those that love Him. We do not have to know what He is doing; we can have confidence that He is doing something and it is intended to make us better. He does not forget His children.
Perhaps the question should be for parents, “What is on your child’s mp3 player?” I recommend parents borrow their children’s mp3 player–unannounced–and listen to the library. Many parents might be shocked at their children’s listening habits. Young people may not even know what they are really listening to though they know every word.
What do I mean? When I was a kid my friends and I used to lip synch songs by one of our favorite bands. We would put on concerts in my neighbor’s basement and sing at the top of our lungs. It wasn’t until I was MUCH older that I actually understood the meaning of some of the songs and they were not appropriate things for a young person who is trying to please God to be singing. I tell my kids that I know the words to a lot of songs that I wish I did not know. No one explained the songs to us but the words were being written in our hearts.
Parents may ask, “I can’t understand the singer so how can I know if the lyrics are good or bad?” In a search engine, such as Google, type “lyrics” then the name of the song. If you don’t know the name of the song (though it should be displayed on the mp3 player), type some of the lyrics in quotes (i.e., “never caught a rabbit and you aint’ no friend of mine”) and you will most likely find the song you are seeking.
If you find music that is objectionable, do not explode! Ask your young person to read the lyrics with you and explain what he/she thinks the words mean. You will often find that they have no clue about the meaning or think that it means something completely different. Take the opportunity to point out what is objectionable and why and how to evaluate other music. Chances are your child got the song from a friend at school (who may not have known the meaning either). You will also quickly build a short list of artists and musical groups that the young person should avoid if they want to maintain a pure heart.
For you young people, if you are not sure what something means, ask your parents. They want to help you make good choices.
Do you realize your decisions are the steps on a road that will ultimately lead you closer to God or away from Him? Sometimes we focus on whether a decision is right or wrong instead of looking at the bigger picture: what kind of person am I becoming as a result of my decision? C. S. Lewis wrote that, as a result of our choices, we are becoming more heavenly or hellish creatures.
If you talk with someone who “experimented” with sin and became entangled in it, they can often trace a series of decisions that led them to their sad condition. Likewise, some who have lived exemplary lives can often point out a series of decisions where they overcame temptation and avoided unnecessary pain and guilt as a result. Many of the decisions that these people faced may have seemed insignificant at the time but they had a major impact on the direction their life went and the blessings or sorrows that they brought upon themselves.
Thankfully, we can turn back from sin and pursue good decisions that will make us more heavenly creatures. However, the longer we live wicked lives the harder it is to overcome the bad habits learned and the lifestyle to which we have grown accustomed. However, our God is a powerful, loving, and merciful God and can provide strength and comfort when we strive to return to Him.
Young people, start making the good decisions now (Eccl 11 and 12) so you will become more like Christ and avoid the bitterness of guilt and sorrow that a life of sin brings.