By Mike Willis
A few days ago, I received an e-mail from Leonard Ford of Beaver Dam, Kentucky that related some good things happening among our Christian teenagers. I want to pass it on to you that you might be encouraged as well.
The main reason that I am writing, is that there is something going on in this area with our teenage children that I think is very exciting and I would like to share it with you and hope that there is some way that you or someone else can write about this in hopes that it might spread to others.
About nine years ago, Kathy and I felt that we needed to take the plunge and purchase a computer, not only for our needs, but as with many other parents, felt that our three young boys needed to be prepared for the twenty-first century. We bought one when we really couldn’t afford it because we felt we were doing the best for our children. When the internet came along, we were torn whether we should “get on the net” so our children would have this wealth of knowledge or as many Christians were saying, and rightfully so, keep this from them due to all the filth that can be accessed from it. Well, after much thought, we took the plunge again because we thought that we could monitor what they were viewing, which we did, and still do. We realized that our children have been exposed to so many things in this world today that are pulling them away from the Lord such as television, movies, school activities, and we were concerned that we were just adding to these temptations. However, we have found something that has been a very pleasant surprise from our internet plunge.
When our youngest son, Steven, began surfing on the net, we were cautiously monitoring where he was going. After a very short time, we were pleasantly surprised to see that he was “chatting online” with many other Christian friends from all over Kentucky and Tennessee whom he had met at FC camp or at meetings in the area. During the past year we have seen the group grow swiftly and have been encouraged by their hunger to chat with one another each evening after they get home from school. I suddenly realized that they have been starving for this “spiritual food” that they need so much, just as we adults do, and are “feeding themselves daily” with these conversations with one another. I have found a much better benefit from this “internet” than I thought was possible, and am so glad that my child has this avenue to get close to so many other wonderful young teenagers. I have seen his spiritual growth over the last year and I can’t help but sit back with pride to see how he is developing and that I had a small part in it. I know that there are still so many things on the web that are not good for Christians and that we as parents should still be watchful and protect our children as we do with all other things, but I think that many other Christian teenagers should know that there are other young people out there who are experiencing the same difficulties and peer pressures that they are suffering from, and that they have someone out there to talk to who is their own age, who can relate in a way that we as parents can’t. Each day, these young people send out a “Scripture for the day” to each other and it is very encouraging to see them “feeding” each other this way and to see their hunger pains disappear after a session with another Christian.
I would like to send you one these Scriptures that Steven sent out to about 100 teenagers just yesterday. The school homecoming dance was last Friday night and he was home on his computer, talking to his friends and sending them this message that I am about send to you.
Mike, I am so proud of Steven and all of his Christian friends and am also humbled to know these blessings and all others are from God and I give him all the thanks and glory for all his blessings. I can’t help but to be a little jealous of Steven and what he has received from this unexpected medium, but I guess we as Christians can benefit from this as have many others in other ways.
Given below is the Scripture and commentary that brother Ford’s son Steven wrote:
Just a few days left and it’s back to Shan . . . it was fun while it lasted.
It snowed here a lot this weekend, I hope that we FINALLY miss SOME school for it. It has snowed off and on lately but we haven’t missed a single day (sigh). Better make this short, the Super Bowl starts in about 20 minutes). Today’s verse is:
And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ (Acts 5:40-42).
Okay, my commentary is very long today but please read it all because I assure you it’s the last long one I will do, and it took a lot of time to do. These three verses give an account of the first punishment given to the apostles as a result of their spreading the gospel. In the years to follow, all Christians were severely tormented for their beliefs, and had pain inflicted on them in many ways. Despite all this, very few of them ever quit doing what Jesus had commanded them and knew was right.
Some were only scolded and were forced to flee, others were beaten and/or imprisoned, some were executed by the traditional beheading, and others were martyred in more “creative” ways. There are accounts of Christians who were taken to public events, tied to posts, and set on fire to serve as the light for that event. To the Romans who persecuted them, those such Christians were nothing more than candles. Yet the Christians never relinquished their faith or discontinued to practice their good works.
If you do a little bit of historical study outside the Bible (and in some cases in the Bible), you will find that of all the known apostles, only one of them died a death of natural causes, and that was John, the brother of James, who had been exiled to Patmos. Every single one of the others were executed in many different ways. James was the first, he was beheaded under the orders of Herod as we are told in Acts 12:1-2. Paul was beheaded after years in Roman captivity (and he kept on preaching until the very end!). Peter was supposedly crucified upside down. Bartholomew suffered, in my opinion, the most terrible death ever recorded. He was fileted (skinned) alive. The list goes on. Yet all these men were incredibly brave and strong in the faith, and never once faltered in teaching the gospel.
I must say that we should thank God that persecution of that sort does not go on today. Sometimes we complain about how hard it is to be a good Christian. Stop. I myself am guilty of it, I think many of us are. Each time a dance comes around and some girl comes along and asks who I am taking, obviously hinting, and I have to tell her that I’m not going, it bothers me. Of course, then they always have to ask “why not?”, and I briefly explain to them why; all the while I have to sit there and watch the weird look that comes over their faces which expresses their thoughts (“What kind of religion is that?”). I remember just the other day (homecoming) telling someone about how awful that is, but when I think about it, I am lucky that getting a weird look occasionally is the worst thing that is brought on me by my Christianity. Getting 1,000,000 weird looks is way better than being beheaded or having my skin cut off of my body by a knife while I’m fully conscious and aware of what is going on.
Also, notice how the apostles in this passage not only took their punishment and went on their way as if nothing had happened, they were rejoicing that they were “worthy to suffer shame for His name.” Using that as an example, I think that from now on whenever I have to explain why I can’t do something that is “normal” for all the other people at school, and I get a weird look, I’ll try to be proud and rejoice instead of sulking and getting upset. I hope the rest of you feel the same way.
I can assure Steven that this did make a “good day” for me, and I am sure you for others who will read this as well.
Brother Ford also asked that I mention that if anyone who reads the article wishes to have his e-mail address added to the list of Christians that receive the “verse of the day,” he can e-mail Shannon O’Neal at email@example.com, and she (the teenager who created and regularly sends the verse of the day) will gladly add his name immediately.
While we wring our hands about the moral deterioration in this country, let us not be blinded to the fact that there are still many good, righteous people serving the Lord. May their tribe increase!
6567 Kings Ct., Avon, Indiana 46123 firstname.lastname@example.org