Using the Bible as the ultimate guide toward the goal of spiritual and emotional maturity, #1 New York Times bestselling author Joyce Meyer teaches teens how to deal with emotional pain, loneliness, temptation, and relationships.
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Teenagers Are People Too!
By Joyce Meyer
Warner FaithCopyright © 2002 Joyce Meyer
All right reserved.
Chapter OneUnconditional Love and Acceptance
It seems to me that things would be so much better if we could all be referred to just as "people," not so much as "children," "teenagers," "young adults," "the elderly," "middle-aged," "men" or "women," "short" or "tall," "skinny" or "fat," "white," "black," "brown," "red" or "yellow." We continually classify one another, and somehow in doing so, I think we automatically exclude many people who are not seen to be in our classification. If not as drastic as exclusion, then certainly we usually place an uncomfortable distance between us.
We admit that we need others who are different from us, but somehow when faced with them we tend either to reject or try to change them. Instead of thinking that different is bad, we must understand once and for all that different is good.
All we have to do is look at each other to see that God is certainly fond of variety. We all have different fingerprints and DNA, a variety of blood types, voices, body shapes and sizes, color and texture of hair. We look different, and we have a wide variety of gifts and talents. If God had intended for us to be clones of one another, surely He would have arranged for all of us to be just alike.
Often teenagers are rejected by adults because they are different. They have different ideas, different hair and clothing styles, etc. With all of my heart I want to see people accept themselves, know they are accepted by God and begin to press forward to fulfill their God-ordained destiny.
No Strings Attached
Every human being on the earth seeks unconditional love and acceptance. It is the number one basic need of all people.
A teenager has the same needs as anyone else. Each of us is created with the need to be loved and accepted, and God intends for us to experience that love and acceptance. He gives it to us willingly and abundantly. The problem is that we are so accustomed to not getting it from people, that by the time most of us enter into a personal relationship with God, we cannot believe He would give it to us either. (If you do not have a personal relationship with the Lord and you would like to - there is a prayer you can pray later on in this chapter.)
God is holding out to us the free gift of His unconditional love and acceptance, and we don't know how to receive it. What a tragedy! Free gifts are to be received and appreciated. You can receive from Jesus what others may not be giving you - a sense of value and worth, unconditional love and total acceptance as a person.
God already knows we don't deserve His goodness according to our merits, but He has blessed us and given us the opportunity to be in relationship with Jesus Christ, His Son, our Savior, Lord, Brother and Friend."
A Brand-New Start
Having a personal relationship with Jesus cannot be equated with church attendance. Those who love the Lord will want to go to a good church and have fellowship with like-minded people. They will want to learn and worship Him with others. But before church can be truly enjoyed, an individual must first have a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.
Jesus said ..., I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me (John 14:6). No amount of our own good works will gain us favor with God or ensure us a place in His eternal kingdom. Only faith in Jesus will do that-faith in Jesus is the key.
Perhaps your parents were believers who tried to instill faith in you as a child. Perhaps they took you to church and saw that you were exposed to the teaching of God's Word. You may have tried to follow the rules you were taught, but it all seemed so boring, and none of the people there seemed very happy It may be that even your parents did not live the life at home they were telling you to live. They may have seemed hypocritical to you.
There is a major difference in having religion and having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Joining a church does not make one a Christian; faith in God through Jesus does.
You don't have to shut God out of your life because some church did not meet your needs. Like everything else in life, there are good churches and there are bad churches. You may be sick and go to a bad doctor, but you don't stop going to doctors just because of one bad experience. You keep looking until you find one who can help you with your sickness. The same is true of looking for the right church. Even a church can disappoint you, but God won't if you trust Him.
Your parents and others you looked up to may have been model Christians. They may have done everything right, and yet you could never seem to "hook into" what they said they believed. It just did not seem to be for you. You wished it would work for you; you wanted to feel close to God, but something was missing.
We went through this with our older son David when he was a teenager There was continual strife between us. He went to church but lived a compromising life. We wanted him to be serious with God and make right choices, but he was consistently rebellious.
God showed me that I had unforgiveness toward him because he was not what I wanted him to be spiritually. I realized that I needed to accept him where he was and trust God to get him where he needed to be.
David felt rejected by his father and me. Although we loved him, we were rejecting him as he was. We wanted him to change, and he felt the pressure of our disapproval.
I knew that I needed to apologize to him and try to find a place of "new beginnings" in our relationship. His dad and I talked with him and told him if he would go to church once a week, not listen to heavy metal rock music in the house and not bring girls there while we were gone, we would not nag him about other things. We told him we recognized that he was eighteen years old and that it was time to let him make his own decisions.
From my experience with David I learned that a parent cannot make a child love God. That is something that must be worked out between God and every individual personally But a parent can continue to pray for that child, love that child unconditionally and trust God with their outcome.
As we talked together. David began to cry He told us that with all of his heart he wished he felt the way we did about God, but that something was missing for him, and he could not make himself have it. He said he needed our unconditional love and acceptance. He admitted that he was not living the way he should, but he felt he needed some time to make his own decisions without pressure from us.
The next few months were not easy for me. It was hard not to tell David what he should be doing. It was also hard to treat him right when he ignored what he knew were our wishes. There were a few occasions when things got a little tense, but for the most part we stuck to our agreement.
Six months passed. One evening David returned from a New Year's Eve church service and stated that God had dealt with him. He announced that he was going to go to Bible college in Florida. He said he intended to serve God if it was the last thing he ever did. I remember him standing in the living room and telling us that even if it meant he would lose all of his friends, he was going to follow God.
To make a rather long story short, David is now the Director of World Missions at our ministry. Life In The Word. He is married to a wonderful woman, has two lovely children and is a great joy to Dave and me.
We took David to church all of his life, but that was not enough to make him want to love and serve the Lord. Church attendance alone is not the answer-only a new birth can truly change a person's heart.
In John 3:3, Jesus said that in order to see the kingdom of God, a person must be born again. Without Jesus living in our heart we are spiritually dead. As we receive Him by faith into our heart to dwell there and ask Him to forgive our sins, we are cleansed, forgiven and made a new creature in Him. At the new birth, we are given a brand-new start in life.
Do you need a brand-new start? If so, it is available to you by simply committing your life to Jesus Christ and asking Him to be Savior and Lord of your life. He gives us a reason to live, direction and purpose.
"Don't Worry- I'll Catch You"
Usually the plan of salvation is presented in the back of most Christian books; however, I am plainly laying out the plan early in the book. I don't want anyone to have to read this entire book and not know the joy of experiencing the unconditional love and acceptance of Jesus living in their heart.
The plan is simple. All you have to do is realize that you cannot live a good and holy life without God's help. You make mistakes; you are a sinner (as we all are); and you need forgiveness and help.
God has created us to need Him. If we are created to need Him, then we can never do anything but need Him, and we will never be fulfilled and satisfied without Him. Every one of us has a God-shaped hole inside us that only He can fill. We usually spend our lives trying to fill it with everything else-with friends, success, drugs, alcohol, cars, clothes, sex, possessions and accomplishments in life-but none of these will satisfy us or fill the empty void we have inside.
God wants to help us with life. He wants to make the hard things easy and the impossible things possible. All that is required of us is a complete surrender of our heart and life to His leadership. It is an act done by faith.
In Romans 10:9,10 we are told:
... if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation.
In our society today, we tend to think that we must understand everything with our mind, but some things can only be understood with the heart. Most of us don't understand electricity, but we use it every day to bring light and power into our homes. In the same way, none of us can ever fully understand the plan of salvation with our mind. Salvation is not something we grasp intellectually; it is something we receive spiritually by faith. Don't try to understand God; simply believe.
In the Bible we read that Jesus came to earth as the Son of God; He was born of a virgin. Mary was His mother in the flesh, and God was His Father by the Holy Spirit-a miracle. Remember, miracles cannot be explained.
God sent His only Son to die for us on a cross and to pay the price for our sins. The Lord loved us so much that He wanted to redeem us from the terrible condition into which we had fallen. To do that. He was ready to pay any price, and He did pay a high price indeed-the suffering and bloodshed of His Son to pay for the sins of many sons and daughters who would be eternally lost to Him without this sacrifice.
Jesus took the punishment that we deserved. He suffered in your place and mine. He died and was buried, but on the third day He was resurrected from the dead and is alive today. Jesus died for you!
God has done everything for us. All He asks us to do is believe. Simple childlike faith is all that is required.
It is like a young child jumping off a porch rail into his father's waiting arms, not fearful of getting hurt because Daddy has said, "Don't worry, I'll catch you." That is what God tells you and me when we put our trust in Him.
If you have an earthly father you cannot trust, it may be harder for you to trust God, but you don't have to be afraid to trust Him. Surrender is the beginning of trust. As you will see next, surrendering your life to the Lord is not a negative thing; it is one of the best decisions you will ever make. It sets you free to enjoy the wonderful life God has planned for you.
God Will Take Care of You
I admit that complete surrender is a tall order. Abandonment of our life to another when we have no experience with that person is frightening to most of us.
The only thing I can assure you of is this:
God is good.
Every plan He has for you is good.
He may not always lead you in the way you would choose to go, but He will lead you the best way.
He will take care of you. What you commit to His trust. He will protect.
God will not always tell you ahead of time what He is going to do in your life. As I mentioned before, He likes surprises. Also, this is His method of teaching us to trust Him.
God does not give us all the answers because trust requires some unanswered questions. He will not allow any one of us to have everything all figured out.
If you have not yet surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, I want to encourage you to stop right now and do so. You can ask a Christian friend to pray with you or you can pray by yourself. Just be honest with God. He is your Father. Talk to Him as a dear Friend. You can tell Him anything and everything. He will never reject you nor judge you critically.
Start Your New Life
Here is a sample prayer you can use as a guideline:
Dear Father, I love You very much. I don't know You very well, but I believe that You know me. I believe in Your Son Jesus. I believe He died for me, shed His blood for me and paid for my sins. He took the punishment I deserved. I am so grateful that You and He have done this for me that I want to serve You all the rest of my life.
I know that I am a sinner. I admit my sins and confess them. I want to turn away from them and live a good clean life.
Lord Jesus, I surrender to You completely. I invite You to come and live in my heart, to lead and guide me all the rest of my days. I want to be born again, to know that my name is written in the Book of Life and that I will go to heaven when I die. I also want to have the assurance that You will be with me always and that, according to Your promise in the Bible, You will never leave me nor forsake me.
Lord, by faith, I believe I am saved, that I am a new creature in Christ. You have forgiven all my sins and have given me a brand-new start
Thank You, Father, for sending Jesus to die for me. In Jesus' name, amen.
If you sincerely prayed that prayer, you are now born again. You are part of God's family. I encourage you to call any of the numbers listed in the back of this book or write to the address given, and we will help you in any way we can. Just let us know that you accepted Christ as you were reading this book, and we will assist you in getting your new life as a Christian started right.
Excerpted from Teenagers Are People Too! by Joyce Meyer Copyright © 2002 by Joyce Meyer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
|Introduction: Teenagers Are People Too!||12|
|1||Unconditional Love and Acceptance||16|
|2||Emotional Pain and Disappointment||37|
|4||Overcoming Your Past||71|
|5||Priorities in Relationships||89|
|6||How to Handle Temptation||120|
|7||What Does Your Future Hold?||128|
|8||Parents Are People Too!||143|
|Conclusion: Your God-Given Right to Enjoy Life||161|
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