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- 28 quick, powerful, daily journeys
- TRIBAL QUEST: a faith challenge for the day.
- TRIBAL TRUTH: Scripture that defines a Christian's tribal creed.
- TRIBAL FACE: a true account of an everyday teen, a time-proven warrior, or a Bible hero who sought after God's heart and earned himself a new identity in God's worldwide tribe
- TRIBAL TRAINING: advice, actionpoints, and thought-provoking questions and strategies for applying God's truth to life
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TribeA WARRIOR'S CALLING A CHALLENGE TO REAL FAITH FOR GUYS
By Jeremy V. Jones Greg Asimakoupoulos Copyright © 2006 Focus on the Family
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDAY 1: GET A CLUE ABOUT YOUR GOD ID
* WEEKLY MEMORY VERSE: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. -Genesis 1:27
Learn to see yourself as your Creator views you: a priceless masterpiece made with an important purpose.
EXPLORE THE WORD: Psalm 139:1-16
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. -Psalm 139:13-14
The young Hebrew man felt the flush of embarrassment. He turned to see who had entered the courtyard and caught him talking to himself.
Puzzled, he looked around seeing no one. I know I heard my name he thought. Maybe it's that cruel Eleazar playing pranks again.
He hoped not. Though he had grown accustomed to the teasing that came from being the son of a priest, the young man still felt the sting of the laughter at his expense. He was smart, certainly, and had always done well in his studiesto become a priest like his father, Hilkiah. But he felt shy and awkward around others and was never popular in his village.
"Jeremiah," came the voice again. This time the young man was certain he heard it, but who-
Jeremiah's knees buckled and he fell facedown to the ground. There was no mistaking it now: This was the voice of the Lord, and it filled him with terror.
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
The young man could scarcely believe his ears. Me? A prophet? Surely there is some mistake!
Covering his face, he somehow managed to stammer, "Ah, sovereign Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am only a child."
The Lord's voice was firm yet compassionate. "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you."
A wave of nausea swept over Jeremiah. The familiar sense of fear and embarrassment rose up within him at the mention of the task.
But God continued, "Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you."
A surge of hope shot through Jeremiah's heart. As God spoke, He raised Jeremiah's head from the sand and placed His hand to the young man's mouth. It felt as if flames were licking Jeremiah's lips, their heat surging deep within his spirit.
"Now, I have put my words in your mouth," God said. "See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant."
With each continuing word, Jeremiah felt a strength he had never known. New confidence rose up within him as he clung to God's command. Maybe-
Suddenly, a vision burned in the new prophet's brain. He reached out his hand to touch it but felt empty air.
"What do you see, Jeremiah?" God said.
The man hesitated for a moment. "I ... I see the branch of an almond tree," he said with uncertainty.
"Very good," came the voice of the Lord. "You have seen correctly."
Again Jeremiah's mind was consumed by another vision. Again, God questioned, "What do you see?"
This time Jeremiah spoke readily. "I see a boiling pot tilting away from the north," he said.
Again God gave His approval. "From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land."
Jeremiah's spirit leaped. God was pleased with him.
"Get yourself ready!" the Lord said and repeated His command to the man. "Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land-against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you."
The young man bowed low to the ground. God's words had seared his soul. He would never be the same.
Put yourself in Jeremiah's shoes. He probably wasn't much older than you, and maybe you can identify with his sense of uncertainty and insecurity. He was minding his own business, trying to obey God's laws and become a good priest. Then BAM! God revolutionized his life.
Did you catch that mission? Go tell the kings that God doesn't like what they're up to. No wonder the young Jeremiah was a bit intimidated. Who can blame him? That's big responsibility-and danger, especially in a day when the king could do just about anything (like lop off your head) if you didn't make him happy.
But God had big plans, and His call came with everything His young servant needed:
Significance: God's opening statements gave meaning to life. The Creator of the universe knew Jeremiah before he existed and had plans for him even then.
Tools: God was not concerned with Jeremiah's protests. He provided the words and everything else Jeremiah needed for the task.
Protection: "I am with you and will rescue you," the Lord said to Jeremiah. God knew this was a difficult assignment, but He promised His presence. When the Lord calls us, He doesn't leave us by ourselves.
Practice: God wasn't playing games when He asked Jeremiah what he saw. He was providing reassurance to the young prophet, sharpening his skills and clarifying His message.
Identity: Talk about encouragement! Do you think Jeremiah ever forgot the words God spoke to him that day? Jeremiah had viewed himself as a child; God declared him to be a fortress of a man who could not be harmed.
Jeremiah believed God's words and acted on them. He answered his Creator's calling, rose up, and fulfilled his mission. Thousands of years later, he is considered one of the greatest Old Testament prophets-a far cry from the timid, insecure young man he once was.
How do you see yourself? Where is your identity rooted? What is God's calling to you?
Get God's eyes. Just like Jeremiah, God created you with unique and special gifts. He knew just who you would be and what purposes He had for you. In other words, you matter! Read Psalm 139:1-16. Compare your view of yourself to what God says in these verses. This is where true identity begins. Do you believe it, or, like Jeremiah, are you stuck with a warped perception of yourself? Memorize these verses and repeat them to yourself when you feel insignificant.
Answer the call. God probably hasn't spoken audibly to you like He did to Jeremiah. But just because you haven't received a specific assignment from the Lord doesn't mean you won't. If God has a particular task He wants you to accomplish, rest assured He will leave no doubt about it. Even more important, God's call to each of us is first to Himself. He wants us to know Him, serve Him, represent Him, and obey His Word with everything we've got. How can you do that today? Do you sense God calling you to do something or go somewhere?
Do it. Whether you've identified a specific or general calling, it's time to stand up and trust God, not yourself. Make a plan today. Take a specific action. Want to share Christ with a friend? Call and invite him to hang out. Feel like you should pursue a career as a graphic designer? Sign up for an art class at your school or a local community college. God told Jeremiah, "Get yourself ready!" (Jeremiah 1:17). You don't have to fulfill your entire calling today, but get started by taking that first step.
PRAY IT OUT: "Lord, thank You for creating and loving me. Please help me to see myself as You do and be all You desire me to be." Thank God that He knew you before you were born. Praise Him for His creativity and wisdom in making you just the way you are. Ask Him to help you hear and follow His call for your life.
DAY 2: BUILD CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST
WEEKLY MEMORY VERSE: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. -Genesis 1:27
When faced with the temptation to fit in, you don't need to become a hostage to fear and compromise.
EXPLORE THE WORD: Galatians 3:26-4:7
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. -Galatians 4:6-7
A Teen Guy Overcomes Peer Fear
Fiction By Greg Asimakoupoulos
Manny's most memorable ceremony was the day he was baptized at his grandma's church. But tonight, something else would come close to equaling its status.
When he was 10 years old, Manny had understood how much God loved him and publicly professed faith in Jesus. His parents and his brother, Victor, were not believers, but his dad's mom was. She had told him Bible stories since he was a toddler. And every time he spent the weekend with her, he went to church with her. It was on one such weekend when he told the pastor he wanted to be baptized.
Manny thought about that day a lot. A snapshot he kept in his Bible reminded him of it. It was a photo his grandma took of him standing next to her pastor in the middle of the river that flowed by the rural church. His dark-skinned face stood out against the bright white baptismal robe. He could still feel the warm sun and the cold water.
He also could feel an awesome sense of acceptance that day. As he came up out of the water and struggled to catch his breath, the congregation smiled and clapped enthusiastically. A few women his grandma's age even shouted "Hallelujah!"
That was five years ago. Although Manny was still taking his young faith seriously, he was about to experience something he anticipated would be almost as awesome. Ever since his older brother, Victor, joined the Stallions, he knew he wanted to be part of this gang, because unlike most of the gangs in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Stallions were known as a nonviolent organization. Manny had no interest in crime or hurting people.
Those who belonged to the Stallions were proud of being Mexican-American. They wore black leather jackets with an insignia of a galloping steed on the back. The gang hung together every Friday and Saturday night. They were like family. And for most of those in the Stallions, a sense of belonging was important. Almost all of the boys were from homes without fathers.
In order to join the gang you had to be sponsored by a Stallion and you had to be 15 years old. Victor, who was four years older than Manny, told him he would be his sponsor once he turned the minimum age. And that day had arrived.
At school that day, Manny could hardly concentrate as he envisioned the initiation ceremony that night. He would soon cross the threshold of masculinity. Tonight he would be accepted by the Stallions as a Stallion.
Victor picked up his brother in his sleek, black, low-riding Prelude. Manny greeted him with a high five and a big smile. Together they drove 20 miles out of town to an abandoned gas station on a dirt road. Thirty gang members were already there wearing black jackets and blue jeans.
While the Stallions circled Manny, one gang member handed the young recruit a pistol and told him to shoot a rattlesnake that another member let loose from a burlap sack. The snake coiled and made its signature sound. But Manny took aim and shot the slithering target through the head, leaving it lifeless in the desert sand. The 15-year-old felt a rush of excitement as the gang cheered its approval.
"Before we present you with your black jacket, you still have another task to perform to prove you are worthy of being a Stallion," the leader of the gang said. "Please remove your clothes except for your underpants."
As Manny complied with their odd request, he was led by two gang members to the rusted-out old-fashioned gas pump. A third Stallion blindfolded him. A fourth tied him with rope. With that, the group got into their cars and began to peel out. He heard his brother's voice above the sound of the modified exhaust systems. "We'll be back to get you for breakfast."
Manny couldn't really sleep in a standing position tied to the pumps. To make matters worse, he nearly froze. His feet and hands were numb with the poor circulation caused from the rope and with the desert cold. He tried to convince himself he wasn't afraid as he heard distant coyotes and the eerie sound of desert owls. He was nervous; sweat beaded over his entire body, generating even worse chills as it cooled. Wearing a blindfold, he couldn't tell when the sun had come up, yet he could feel warm rays on his unclothed chest. His eyes teared up, but with joy not fear. When he heard the sound of cars and voices, he breathed a sigh of relief.
"We'll present your black jacket at breakfast," the gang leader said as he removed the rope and black fabric that had covered his face. "Get dressed and let's go get some food."
Victor drove Manny while the other cars followed in caravan style.
"Where do we have breakfast?" Manny asked his brother.
"We'll stop to get the food and meet the gang down the road at a park," Victor explained.
Just then Victor pulled into a convenience store. "Here's a list of what we need. Bread, cold cuts, sodas, chips. And you'll need this since we don't have any money."
Victor handed his brother the pistol he'd used to kill the snake.
"This is your last test, little brother," Victor said with a twinkle in his eye. "I know you won't let us down."
Manny felt sick inside. The Stallions were just like the rest of the local gangs after all. Violent. Cruel.
He also felt something else. It was the Holy Spirit prompting him to not give in to peer pressure. Throwing the gun on the floorboard of his brother's car, he opened the door and started to run.
"I won't do it," he yelled. "I'm not turning my back on what is right just to be a Stallion." As you might guess, there are all kinds of reasons why guys like Manny want to be accepted and belong. And when we long for love, we can find ourselves vulnerable to joining the wrong crowd.
Even Christians are tempted to close their eyes to compromising situations in order to fit in. But the Lord never turns His back on those who belong to Him. He puts a desire in their hearts to take a stand and turn away when necessary.
Expect temptations when you track with the pack. The battle with peer pressure is not unique to the teenage years. It's a battle we fight all our lives. When we anticipate it, it becomes less scary, especially if we begin our day thanking God we are part of a forever family.
Remind yourself of your position in Christ. When you feel ostracized, thank God you're not alone. As a Christian you have been adopted into the family of God. When you accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord you were given rights and privileges of a son of God. Whenever you start a prayer with "Father," stop and think how cool it is that you can call Him that.
Prioritize time with other Christians. Hebrews 10:25 says, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another." In other words, be intentional about who you spend the most time with. You are less likely to cave in to those who don't take God seriously if you are hanging with those who do.
PRAY IT OUT: "Lord, I need Your help to resist the crowd and do what is right." Confess to the Lord what you are tempted to do in order to be accepted by your friends. Ask Him for the courage to say no when you need to.
Excerpted from Tribe by Jeremy V. Jones Greg Asimakoupoulos Copyright © 2006 by Focus on the Family. Excerpted by permission.
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