As many of you know, I’m writing a book. Literally! I’ve been typing all week! My fingers are tired! Ha! I have finished the first three chapters. The book is entitled: “Rite of Passage-How to Raise Christ-Centered Young Adults.” The first chapter is an introduction and the second chapter is about the concept of Rite of Passage (What it is and why it’s needed). The third chapter is a detailed look at the role of the Church in helping young adults to reach spiritual maturity. I’m beginning chapter 4 today. It will be about the “role of the home” in making disciples.
This has been a daunting undertaking. I’m loving it, but there’s a lot more to writing a book than just sitting down and typing away! There is much research to be done and much prayer and study. Again, I’m not complaining at all. I am learning as I go what is involved in writing. This process has been a huge blessing to me. I certainly am developing stronger fingers, wrists and forearms! Ha!
As I have been studying, I’ve spent some time at George Barna’s website. Barna is the research guru of the Christian community (in my opinion). As I was reviewing some information for the fourth chapter (coming up), I ran across a survey he just completed this past summer (July 2010) about how our young adults are more and more “ashamed of the gospel.” Take a look:
Ashamed of the Gospel?
The most striking change was the fact that teenagers today seem much less inclined to have spiritual conversations about their faith in Christ with non-believers. The survey question specifically asked if the survey respondent had “explained your religious beliefs to someone else who had different beliefs, in the hope that they might accept Jesus Christ as their savior.” Among born again Christian teenagers, the proportion who said they had explained their beliefs to someone else with different faith views in the last year had declined from nearly two-thirds of teenagers in 1997 (63%) to less than half of Christian teens in the December 2009 study (45%).
Kinnaman noted: “Christian teenagers are taking cues from a culture that has made it unpopular to make bold assertions about faith or be too aggressively evangelistic. Some of the Barna Group’s other research shows that the vast majority of these students agree with the statement it is ‘cool to be a Christian.’ Yet fewer young Christians apparently believe it is worthwhile to talk about their faith in Jesus with others.”
Other spiritual changes in teen lives were less dramatic, although statistically significant. Sunday school participation has declined from 35% of all teenagers in 1997 to 30% of teens in the current study; small group attendance was down from 30% to 21%; the proportion of teens who reported donating any of their own money to church has softened from 35% to 26% over the last dozen years; and even the typically ubiquitous practice of prayer has dropped from 81% to 71% among teens since 1997.
Why are our young people ashamed of the gospel? As you ponder, let me ask another question. Why are we ashamed of the gospel? Can I give you my answer. IMAGE. We don’t want to ruin our image. What image? Our image of ourselves. A graven image if you ask me. We have made an idol to ourselves about ourselves. We don’t want anyone to look at us as weird or strange. We just want to blend in…like a chameleon…
Isn’t it easy to simply blend in to our surroundings? Amazingly in Ethiopia (where I’ll be travelling back to this Fall…November 16-30 with Katy and Kandace), there are no chameleons. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you stick out like a tomato in a basket of bananas. Why? Because Christians in Ethiopia are the “real deal.” They are willing to risk their lives. They are beaten up, stabbed and even murdered for their faith in Christ. Their fields are burned, crops destroyed and families threatened. This is a picture of a man named Tessema. He was beaten (can you see the head wound that is healing) for his faith in Christ.
Here is the vehicle that the church in Alaba, Ethiopia uses. Those riding inside were attacked because of their faith in Christ…
Living in conditions such as these would cause one to question whether or not it is worth it. Becoming a chameleon sounds pretty good! I mean, who wants to be killed! Come on, why don’t these people just keep quiet! What good will it do anyone if they are killed? How can you be a witness to someone if you’re dead, right?
Do you see how Satan can slip these thoughts into our minds and “shut us down?” But let’s be honest. We don’t face anything like this in America. No one is going to through rocks through our vehicle windows or club us in the head for being a Christian. All we face is a little verbal ridiculing and we wilt. Why? Is it because we have grown soft? Is our faith so weak and untested that we are mushy and flabby, like a jellyfish.
You know, a jellyfish has no backbone. No backbone. Backbone. Hmm. Do I have a “backbone?” A spiritual backbone that is? I’m not talking about an “in your face” backbone? I’m talking about a quiet, gentle spirit that mimics Christ… The Apostle Peter explains what I’m trying to say:
14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 1 Peter 3:14-16
Oh, by the way, many have asked about an update on BeckyLynn. Here’s an email exchange between the two of us. She is amazing!
Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 10:05 PM
Subject: thoracic surgeon appt.
Well, we’re back from the appointment with the thoracic surgeon. The long & short of it is that the metastatic cancer is too numerous and too wide-spread to do any type of surgery; 4 of the 5 lobes have cancer in them, and all the tumors are deep in the lung tissue. So VATS and open-chest surgery is out. But he can assist with the CyberKnife radiation on the 2 larger lesions. This means doing a bronchoscopy to place little gold balls inside the lung tissue that is next to the tumors. The gold balls will guide the high-powered radiation, so that minimal healthy tissue is hurt while trying to kill the cancer tissue.
Get this….they will do another PET scan, and then feed that data into the bronchoscope, and with that data the bronchoscope tube will be guided automatically to the lesions in the lungs. Amazing! Soon we won’t need doctors at all….just connect up a computer! We have no data that the CyberKnife radiation will work on metastatic cancer, but we seriously have no other treatment option. So we’re planning for the PET scan next Wed, the bronchoscopy next Thursday, the CyberKnife simulation the following week, and the actual CyberKnife radiation soon after that. We plan to Knife the 2 larger tumors now and possibly the 2 smaller ones later, if CyberKnife seems to have an effect.
Please pray for our insurance to approve this treatment; sometimes they balk at “unproven” treatment ideas. Exhabier awolkol….”God knows” in Amharic….and we rejoice in His omniscience.
Rejoicing in a glorious God!
From: Pastor D. Kevin Brown [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 10:58 PM
To: Black, David
Subject: RE: thoracic surgeon appt.
Thanks for the update Mama B! We continue to move forward with you in this journey. Our journey is mostly unseen. It’s in prayer and through prayer that we hold your hand as we intercede to the Father. We love you so much!
From: Black, David
I love you, too! Isn’t it wonderful how God created Love….it is invisible, yet visible; it is focused, yet trans-continental; it is a point in Time, yet is for all eternity. It is God in action in our lives. It always blows me away when I stop to consider all those who stop in their day to pray for me…over & over & over again! Week after week & month after month! What a blessing to me. You should have seen the 2 doctors yesterday….both were saying in amazement (after an hour of examining the CT scan) “you’re so well, so strong…the last thing we want to do is take that strength away from you in a surgery that won’t help in the long run”. And they are right…I’m well & strong…and I’m sure that much of that is due to the prayers of God’s people for me! Life is about using our resources, strength, intellect, connections, time, to serve others & help them in their need, for the sake of the Gospel…….and by God’s grace, I will continue to live, even while dying. We must all work for the Night is coming….my Night is just a bit more dramatic at the moment, but everyone’s Night is coming. The question is: are we working for the Kingdom while we have Day?
Sorry for the little sermonette 🙂 This sense of urgency to be about the Father’s business is at the forefront of my mind. Please pray for wisdom to know how to prioritize the moments. There are so many things I want to do, but which of those things will have a serious impact on others for Him? His Spirit must show me, apart from my own desires.
Love yall SOOOO much!
MB (Mama B)
Becky is not “ashamed of the gospel,” nor are our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia. I am challenged and encouraged. Paul said: “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes— (Romans 1:16)” I pray we will train ourselves and our young people to be willing to die for this Good News about Christ. Paul also said, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” What a wonderful thought…in life or in death it doesn’t matter…either way…we get Christ!! So, why should we have reason to be ashamed? We should rejoice!!
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