Encouragement for Teenagers (from John Piper)

A few nights ago, I was listening to Ask Pastor John (Pastor John Piper’s podcast where he answers questions about Christian living) and we came across this. It’s a really encouraging reminder for teenagers (and everyone) to measure our worth not by the world’s standards but by God’s. I hope you enjoy:


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Jesus IS: And 3 things he is

Last week I said I’d be discussing who Jesus is, and subsequently, some common pitfalls we fall into in our relationship with him. I would like to look at Jesus in three ways: 1. Jesus as God. 2. Jesus as a person. And lastly (and possibly most importantly) 3. Jesus as real.

1. Jesus is God

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5)

“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:12-17A)

Jesus is God, and as God, he is to be feared, respected, and obeyed. John’s response to fall on his feet before the Lord is the correct response. It’s the very response we should have. Too often our prayer life is boring because we don’t see Jesus for who He really is: He is God, the Lord.
So, our prayers should be full of fear and trembling—yet so often we think of Jesus only as the One who died for our sin and sing songs like, “Yes, Jesus loves me” or “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
This is true, but it’s not the whole picture. Jesus is not only loving—he is terrifying. We shouldn’t go to him as some sort of emotional-support imaginary friend or like a spiritual butler. We should go to Him as God, because that’s who He is.
The Bible says that we should, “fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28B.)
And yet Jesus does love us—and he isn’t only (or primarily) a terror.

2. Jesus is a person

And that means he cares for us personally. He cares for the exact situations we’re going through—and wants to hold us through all of it.
Another pitfall we can fall into is to think of Jesus as some completely ethereal person in the sky, judging us. Yes, his judgment is righteous and good. But judging isn’t the only thing he does. He did, really, die for us because of his love. And that love is still here today.
In Hebrews he is called our great high priest:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15.)
So if Jesus is so powerful (because he is God) and yet loves us so much (in fact is able to sympathize with our very weaknesses) than that’s amazing, incredible news. But it doesn’t make any difference if we don’t get the last point down:

3. Jesus is real

Really real. Not conceptually real—but really, totally, completely real. Often, I feel like I pray and read my Bible because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t understand Jesus’ love for me or the love I should have for him.
I narrow it down to: there’s some white dude with long hair and a long, white robe (kind of like an eternal Santa Clause) who loves the world so much—loves everyone. But I don’t see the personal side to it, because I don’t see that he’s real.
I narrow my love down to—do the right thing. Don’t do the wrong thing. Or else Jesus (or God) will be made at me.
If we put together Jesus’ God-ness and person-ness without understanding that he’s real, we get something like a vending machine or a business relationship:
If I’m bad Jesus will be upset and probably punish me terribly. But if I’m good I can use him (we call it prayer) to get what I want.
That kind of thinking does make Jesus mad. Don’t you understand? Jesus died. . .died so that we could have a brother-like relationship with him. We’re treating him like a super-rich, abusive father that if you can manage to get on his good side will give you lots of money and stuff.
He’s the king of the entire world that gave up everything (literally everything) to have a relationship with you.

How should that impact our prayer life? I’d love to hear your ideas and struggles in relating with our awesome heavenly brother, Jesus!

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Is life always like this?
To break out of the darkness
To reach out your hand–
just far enough
To grasp out for God.
Praying He’ll be close when He’s far away.
The blackness encroaching,
you find yourself choking.
Are you really alive at all?
When you’re all by yourself,
how can you break your fall?

When two lie down together they keep warm.
Nothing is so tight as a threefold chord.

And yet your crawling on the pebbled floor–
Through the concrete walls of lies
that squeeze out of the sky,
like metal magnets,
and you’re the target.
And you’re alone.

How can you reach out
when there’s no one to reach to?
How can you call loud
when no one will hear you?

But I know of scars and nails and a crown of thorns.
I know of wood and pierced sides and black skies–a man calling “Abba Father!”

While I grope in the dark,
with my hands torn apart.
When I look through the shadows
and peer with blind eyes.
I hear a drum beating
to the sound of His heart.
I remember the bleeding
and I learn to call out.

While He spits in my eyes and spreads mud on them too,
I will remember.
My blurified vision will be purified.
And I will learn to
look through Your eyes.
All the darkness around me
will sink in that mud.
And I’ll look to the truth,
and I’ll see your love.

I’ll see your love.
Wash over me, Lord.
Let me see your love.

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1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (ESV)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

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I am waiting for the answer to a question I don’t know to ask.
I am waiting for the answer to a question I can’t see.
There is something deep inside me that just has to be released.
I am growing into someone I don’t know or care to know.
I am wondering at the person that I see.
Is the me I am really me?

Show me, someone, who I was and who I will soon learn to be.
Show me, someone, how I got here and to fill this hungry need.
Please and call me, if you know me.
If you know who I have been?
Something tells me that this someone who I am ain’t really me.

I am watching my reflection as it changes, grows estranged,
And my body, it’s connected, but I feel that it’s infected.
And the heart-pulse that is beating, it is weighed down by the grief.
A grief I don’t know. I can’t express it—and where it comes from I can’t go.

Who am I? And where did I fly from?
If I had wings instead of webs where did I fly from?
If you could tell me, whispering, let me burst through this cocoon of me.
As if I were trapped inside my own body.

Where did I fly from? Oh, from where did I come? Why did this death come?
And who am I? And who are you? And why are we
Asking questions we don’t know how to ask. . .

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If You’d Come Back-A Poem

I was depressed and broken
You were maybe joking-
But I think that you were sad.
Maybe if I had opened my mouth.
Maybe if I had said something.
Things would be different.
But that day is far away.
Your heart tears.
You don’t care.
I wanted to tell you what love was.
I wanted to show you I wanted. . .
Wanted to open up an opportunity.
There was an invisible wall between you and me.
If I had said your name-
Pushed past the pain. . .
But when I looked at you
I was jealous
And when I looked away
I was bitter.
The cold turned into hate,
My soul littered.
And when you opened up,
I didn’t know what to say.
I prayed.
And he was with you.
And he whispered.
I knew he knew you.
And I did not.
What was I missing?
What have I lost?
You spoke the curse,
And I walked in the door.
I entered as a spy,
And I began to die.
I was in a camp not mine,
But I truly felt it.
Now I’ve seen the sun,
Felt the breeze.
Are you here?
If I had known things,
If I had not.
What have I lost?
If only, you’d come back.

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Kiss the Son–A Command for Valentine’s Day

“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”—Psalm 2:12

The Bible calls Jesus or God the Son and tells us to kiss Him so that He may not become angry. It’s a very interesting picture, as in our minds two images are painted. A bride kissing her groom at the wedding feast. The young men toasting and the young women dancing.

At least for me, I also get the stranger picture of someone trying to kiss the sun “S-U-N.” And of course I know that if someone did this, first their lips would not be long enough to actually reach the sun, and second, if they were, their lips (and all the rest of them) would get burned.

But in this verse we see that the Son does not burn us when we kiss him but when we neglect to kiss him.

It brings up the question of what kissing actually is—or what it is a metaphor for more specifically.

It seems to be an image for worship, which would make sense and would mean that this is talking about our worship to God. But what is the relationship between kissing and worship. It is Valentine’s Day, and even if it were not, our minds tend to jump immediately to the idea of lovers or newly weds out in the starlight.

But in other cultures, people kiss as a greeting. Paul, in fact, commands us to “Greet one another with a holy kiss” 1 Corinthians 13:12.

Is this the kind of kissing the Bible is talking about here. Or is it, perhaps, the kind of kissing we find in 1 Samuel 20:41:

“And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they [David and Jonathon] kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most.”

Or perhaps in Genesis 27:26:

“Then his father Isaac said to him [Joseph], ‘Come near and kiss me, my son.”

I personally believe that it is not necessary, or necessarily even helpful, to define what kind of kissing this Scripture is commanding. What we do know is that kissing is very prevalent in the Bible—it’s happening everywhere. We also know that all of those images I just mentioned are images God uses for his relationship with us (except for the image of the sun.)

He calls the church his bride. He calls himself our brother [and from extension friend] like David and Jonathon. He also is known as The Father or Our Father, mirroring Israel’s relationship to Joseph. The church (to which Paul wrote to ‘greet one another with a holy kiss.’) is an image of God—the body of Christ.

But there are two interesting things to note here:

First, kissing (here) is not used as an image of God’s love for us—but of the kind of love He wants us to have for Him.

And second, this verse is specifically talking about the Son.

In other words this is almost a restatement of Deuteronomy 6:5:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

It’s saying here love the Lord your God with all your emotion. The same feelings you have for your girlfriend/boyfriend. The same emotions you feel when being reunited with your father or when being separated from your best friend (basically your soul mate.) Have those same emotions for Me. I require it. Don’t let Christianity be boring—because you love Me with all of you.

But why the Son, as appose to the Father or the Holy Spirit?

Obviously, this verse isn’t saying that we should have a more intimate relationship with one person of the trinity as appose to another.

But yet it specifically references the Son. In fact all of Psalm 2 is setting up the relationship between Son, Father, and the people.

The verse just prior to this one seems to be talking about the Father. It reads, “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.”—Psalm 2:11

This verse (verse 12) would then be saying, as you worship God so worship the Son of God—because He Himself is God.

That’s something the Israelites found hard to get. (They crucified Jesus.) And that’s something we, even as Christians, find hard as well. Next week I’m going to discuss some of the pitfalls we can fall into with regards to our relationship with Jesus, but for now, let me know what you think. And kiss the Son.


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