A Special Message to Young People.
Paul told the saints in Corinth to "examine your own selves, whether you be in the faith." It is time now for some of you younger folk to do that, and you have a great means for doing that right there in your own hands. It is on your computer. Here it is:
Step One: First of all, pray for Jesus to give you the strength to be honest with yourself. Get real with God before one of life's hard situations get you boxed in.
Second of all, if you are not willing to do Step One, don't waste your time reading the rest of this email. Just keep on as you are, doing your own thing, because that is what you are going to do anyway, no matter what I say, unless you are willing to be honest with yourselves.
Step Three: Take a look at what is on your personal websites, whether Facebook, MySpace or whatever, and ask yourself, does the stuff on my personal web site bring honor to God and say to the people who visit my personal website that I am a righteous person who insists on moral purity of myself and integrity of my associates? If on your website, you have blocked anything from the sight of others, or if you have a secret personal website that you want no one in the body of Christ to know about, ask Jesus for the strength to be honest with yourself as to the reason you have done that.
Step Four: Testify to the body of Christ (or to your parents) of the results of your self-examination.
I will soon know whether or not you have done these things by your testimony or by your shame. The next time we meet, you will have one or the other, and that will be all that I need to know.
Responses to Pastor John's Message
From Amy P.
This message is very very good. I am not sure how serious things have been taken over the past months about how serious God is.
I wanted to point out that this is exactly, word for word, what the spirit said over one of our young people when you prayed for them a couple of Sunday's ago. When I heard it, it rang in my ears as the word of God, not just for him, but all. It is Step One of your email.
"Get real with God before He gets too real with you."
God will be real with you and it may not be the way you think, or the way you want it, or the way it will be. But, He will. It is so much better to be willing now and love God, happily. It's much better than having regrets later.
My advice for the young people? There is a standard that is required by God, and the bar is high (that is good!), but not impossible, and it's there because God knows what you are worth. He gives us exactly what we need to do it. I hope we love it enough to make God happy instead of the world. It's worth it to serve God and be an example to others in this miserable world. You may not think people (in the world) are looking on, but they are, and when you act like they do, and they don't see God in you, they are disappointed. You would be surprised later on in your life (if you do not set the standard), how what you did affected them. If you do not set the standard, others will set the standard for you, and that usually ends up bad. Live godly and love life! It's is the only real happiness you will ever find.
I know that I feel very comfortable with everything I put on my Facebook because I feel very strongly about that. Sometimes, I'll look over my whole profile just to make sure that I am still comfortable with everything, for no reason. If anyone feels differently about my profile, I hope they tell me immediately. In fact, that is one big reason that I have a Facebook – I want to keep in touch with old friends and new friends that may want to see more of what I'm all about. Maybe one day they will ask me some questions. . . the door will always be open because they know at least one way to get in touch with me. But, there are other things besides websites that need checking. I heard this quote yesterday, and it struck me: "The world will tell you who you are, until you tell the world."
Also, Amy's email brought back a memory. When I started teaching at Elon Homes in 2005, I started out with so many disadvantages in an environment like that. So, I felt like I had to pay attention to everything I did. I felt that if I said or did anything inappropriate, it would burst the kids' image of me: someone who really does live without bad things in her life. And I gave 110% to giving them that example in their lives – even if it was the only one they would ever have. I even felt impressed to watch what I ate in the cafeteria – that's how determined I was. For some reason, before school started, I had the feeling that they would even watch what I ate. If I made poor nutritional choices, they would notice it and it would discourage them. Can't explain it – it's just what I felt. (Also, it was a reflection of who I wanted to be all the time – I want to be someone who eats healthy; so it was an encouragement for me to do that.) The other teachers asked me once why I packed my lunch every day and always ate healthy. Naively, I told them, and they made fun of me. They put me down for being so stupid: Those reckless kids in the cafeteria who always sat in their cliques and gossiped the whole time never bothered to look over at the teachers' table – what was I thinking?? A couple weeks later, I was so hungry at lunch. They were having hamburgers. . . they looked so good. It was about a month into the school year, and I thought, this is silly, nobody cares if I eat this hamburger. Before I sat down, I had to walk over to a student table to get some ketchup. When I got there, one of the kids at the table immediately said, "Wow Ms. Rebekah, I've never seen you eat stuff like that." They were watching!
That's how the world is, in my opinion. They're watching me. There are people out there that may be wondering if I'm for real and watching to see if/when I'll "mess up" or "be normal." I don't want to give them an opportunity to say, "I thought so... she wasn't for real, she couldn't keep that up but for so long."
This does not mean that I work hard just to have an appearance of living right in front those people – this means that I work hard to live right.
Hey Pastor John!
God did it again! A few months back I wrote a blog on my multiply site about how God answered my thoughts (well, really, God's thoughts) through someone's testimony. It seems like God does that for me quite a bit, and sometimes I don't even really remember having those thoughts until they are answered. The same thing happened when I got this email. I have a couple of those sites you mentioned and I always felt like I kept them clean. I had links to the books that you have online and to the different websites that we have, but for the past little bit, especially the last few days, I kept having this thought asking "Why do I still have my Myspace site?" It was a good question and I would always in my mind say "It's to keep up with people that I used to teach with", and then I would think "Why don't I just get rid of it, they never really keep in touch, so why am I hanging on to that past?"
Well, after I read this email last night I went and deleted that page because the people I talk to on there, I see or I have other contact with such as Facebook, email, and IM. I never really talked to any of my other "friends" on there. It felt really good to delete it, for me it was letting go of more of my past (as far as the teaching). It made me wonder why I held on for so long it was such a relief to let it go! Then I continued to look through my Facebook site to see what I had on there and to see if what I had could leave any kind of wrong impression on anyone who may look at my page. It made me thankful to know that I never hid any of the things on my site from anyone because I wanted to be open and honest so that those who know me don't have to wonder what I am doing. It doesn't leave any room for questioning me or my life or the choices I am making.
I also wanted to add that when I read Amy's response this line stuck out to me: "If you do not set the standard, others will set the standard for you, and that ends up bad." I can say from experience that that statement is so true. I let my standards drop in a situation and the results were that I ended up hurt and felt lost, but Jesus and everyone in the meetings helped me out, and I don't want to go back there again. Well, again I just wanted to say thank you, and I didn't mean to go on so long!
See you tonight!
Hi Pastor John,
After reading your e-mail about examining ourselves yesterday, I thought about my own Facebook and how I was presenting myself to other people.
As I was looking at my site, I also thought about things I was struggling with at school. Sometimes at school I had a hard time because I thought a lot about what people thought about me or I would take in what others would say about things that would describe me and in reality they never were specifically talking about me. But as I took in what they were saying, I could feel myself changing and trying to "fit in" with these people because I thought maybe it would stop them from talking, but the more I tried, the more miserable I became. It was a difficult time for me, I always felt tired, even with full sleep and very depressed. One weekend, my parents came to Lexington to visit, and one night we talked about school, and they saw how miserable I was. I don't really remember everything we talked about but I do remember when my Dad just told me to sit next to him (he was lying on the couch) and just started to rub my head and both of my parents started to pray. I cried and felt such a relief. As I sat there, my dad asked me what was more important, God or school, and I answered, God. He said, if you are pleasing to God, then everything else will work itself out. It was something I should have known and kept my mind on all along, but somewhere along the way I forgot or put it aside. Since that conversation, I have kept what my dad said in mind and God has helped me to let go of worrying about what my classmates or teachers thought of me. I became a lot happier and less stressed out situations at school.
Well, I don't know if this fits in now, but even though I don't want to worry about what others think about me, I remember in a meeting someone had said that if you answer the question, can people in the body of Christ be pleased with what you do or say? If not, then something is wrong. I don't want to worry those who care about me. It's too hard to keep up an appearance. But if we live right and close to God all the time, then we can set a good example. On Bekah's site also and others as well, I like how they have pastorjohnshouse.com as a link and some of the music that are CD's as something people can listen to while they visit their site. It reminds me of leaving a tract or card for other people everywhere we go; it's a way to do the work of the Lord even on a website. That is something that has encouraged me and something that I want to add on my site so that others can know more about me.
Sorry this is so long and in a round about way of examining ourselves but I kept remembering things as I was typing. It was a good experience for me!
(From Pastor John)
That is beautiful. Thank you so much for that. Sounds to me as if you are being saved -- from wrong thoughts and feelings and a life of discontentment and regret.
Hey Pastor John,
That e-mail you sent out last night was an eye-opener..... it really makes you want to do right.
I went through your checklist and it felt great! (to be honest with myself and God I mean). My mama and I prayed this morning together about being honest with yourself and it was a great experience. It's good to have a clear conscience =D
(From Pastor John)
Thank you Jeremiah. It is GREAT to have a clear conscience toward God. Keep it! Guard it! It is your life. A clear conscience is the most valuable thing you have in Christ. The whole world is designed to make you think it is not all that important, so you must always remember the godly counsel you have received.
Hey Pastor John,
When I read the email you sent out last night examine yourself, it was very good for me because a few hours before you sent that out, I was on my multiply site and changed my back ground, and on the top of my site it says really big THIS IS ME. All I have on that site is my testimonies about things God has done for me. But when I read Step One, I prayed, and then I read the rest of the e-mail, and as I did that, I knew I hadn't put anything on there that I wouldn't want anyone for my elders to see. It was a very good feeling to know that.
Hey Pastor John,
To be honest with you, reading the "examine yourselves" email, I really didn't understand it too much as far as all the websites and stuff are concerned. Whether it be thinking in my mind "its just a site" and different things. . . I don't know, but the more and more emails I read saying how you are portrayed in one way or another and getting alone with myself it really started sticking out to me. I mean, how am I portrayed if you went on my site's? What would you or anyone think? Then, I started asking myself questions like, Would people know what I stand for? Would they know about my family? Would they know what God has done for me in my life? Yeah, I mean, I used the sites to keep in touch with NC family and Louisville family around here, but other than that, the sites really have nothing going for them. Now, I don't have anything bad on my sites, but I don't have too much stuff about God on there either. Anyways, after all this, it just made me look down a little deeper and see what I am putting myself out there to be. A child of God? Or, just some other guy with a nifty page.
I love the truth, and I love God's people, and when and how I portray myself and how I act doesn't affect what people think about me, It effects how they think about all of you all because you are my family. I don't think I ever really realized how serious it could be to portray the God in you wrong to other people, that's risky business. But anyway, thank God for opening my eyes a little more to see the truth. I hope God lets me die a little more each day, so I can be more like Him and less like me.
(From Pastor John)
Thanks for this, Jeremy. It is good to see how you got to the right spot with your heart and in your thoughts.
Jeremiah was right, there's nothing like a pure conscience. To know that there's nothing you have to be afraid of someone finding out. It's not like you're even hiding it. And if you do have something you're hiding (which isn't even possible with God), to have parents and a pastor who can point you in the right direction, if you'll just humble down and repent before Him.
I love living without all that. There's nothing that even comes close. Where else is there a family like this?
The Lord gave me a dream recently that I wanted to share. I have held on to it to wait and see where it fits and it seems to fit with everything going on now. It was a dream that I had the week of our first New Testament class.
First week of June 2008
In the dream a younger person was talking to me. They were offering for Tony and I to go on a trip with them. I told them no thanks. They then began to ask me about going out, hanging out, having fun, etc. I told them that I am not interested in those things. They asked me something like, "You, don't even think about those things?" I said, "No, those things aren't even an issue anymore! Those things are gone, they aren't in there (my heart). I don't even think about them!" I could see myself in the dream taking my hands as I was talking and rubbing my chest as I was telling them that those things weren't a part of me. The young person was just standing there looking at me with this amazed look as if they didn't understand how being a young person that I wouldn't somewhere in my heart want to do those things.
I learned some good things from this dream. I learned that the old man doesn't understand the new man at all! Yay! If we keep pushing onward and forward, Jesus will kill that old influence, and when it does try to come around, it won't even be an issue any longer. Jesus wants to take the influence out of our hearts not our heads. It made the Spirit inside of me excited when Jesus gave me this dream, that He would give me a dream and let me see a little glimpse of that. It was so encouraging. We are not doing right for nothing. There is a reward for being faithful.
I sure pray that Jesus allows me to see and feel how He feels about me and my life. The e-mail about examining ourselves was very sobering and good to hear. It made me check myself and make sure there is nothing on my websites or in my life that people would see as a disgrace or embarrassment to Jesus, but only a testimony to what He has done to a wasted life. We don't really know how many younger people are looking up to us and watching every move we make. But they are!!! They need good influences and holy ways to follow. I needed them when I was only 17 starting out, and I still need them everyday.
Whew! That stirred up all kinds of things inside.
I also feel like my Facebook was Similar to Jeremy's. I didn't have anything bad or anything on it that needed to be hidden. I just had a lot of pointless applications and not enough stuff about God. I had already been thinking about getting rid of all the applications (I had just never gotten around to it), and now I have because if someone was looking at my page, they would be a big distraction from anything about God being on there. I also had never really thought about Facebook showing who I am and I hope that my thoughts on this are correct now. These emails have made me think more too and I really want my Facebook page let people know more about who I am instead of it just being someone with a bunch of pointless applications.
Thanks for sending out all of these emails; I feel as thought they have been a big help to me.
Hi Pastor John:
I love reading all of the responses that are being sent in. From young to old, the message is basically the same, though the words are written differently. From Stuart to Lou, from Jeremiah to Kaylie, and everyone else. Examining ourselves can only come from the Spirit of God, and we can only do it if "the Spirit of God dwell in you." Examining ourselves is the NT in action. Examining ourselves is our response to God's grace.
There is no more examining after we leave this life; people are just who they are, and our spiritual condition will reflect the place we will end up in, whether it's a place of peace, or a place of torment. In this life, God has given the Spirit-filled an opportunity to examine, and an opportunity to help others examine themselves by the way we live our lives.
I pray Jesus grants us opportunities to change, to be molded more like our Father, who loved us first. It's becoming more precious to me every day, the people God has allowed me to worship him with. I love these responses, it will bring us closer in fellowship, and that is what we need, and desire.
Thank-you, Bro. John, for that message.
Your servant in love,
(From Pastor John)
I told everyone last night that my point in my message was NOT that young people should start scrambling and "fix" or "fix up" their web sites. I only wanted them to stand back and look at the kind of God that comes through their own words and, pictures, music, from their own web sites. I wanted them all to visit their web sites as an outsider and honestly take a look at what they themselves are saying about themselves. What kind of person are they telling the world they are?
If anyone said, "But I deleted the bad stuff off my web site," that person missed the point.
For these young folk, or us older ones, to be able to examine ourselves, and to do it honestly (as you suggested), is only possible with God's help. But it appears that God has been helping these young folk a lot -- and I am with you; it has been a blessing to watch.
Dear Pastor John:
Though I do not know what age range your "younger folks" is, but I know that what you talked about here is not just for the "younger" folks. It applies to all of us that mostly have access to the internet with various sorts of worldly things seeking our interest. Without the Lord's help, it is difficult to say no to them.
Thank you for reminding us (myself especially) to examine our own selves, whether we be in the faith.
"WoW" The e-mails on "examine your own selves" have been very good. That should always be a daily thing we all do, "examine our own selves". I know I don't want to be weighed in the balances and found wanting as the king of Babylon, Belshazzar, was with the hand writing on the wall from the Lord in Daniel chapter 5. Like you said on a cd I listened to, our actions determine our results. We have no choice in the results. The only time we have a choice is before we do anything. After that, it is in God's hands, and we get what He determines. And what He determines is right and just for our actions.
I don't understand the whole thing with the Facebook and MySpace sites. If it does not glorify God, who needs it? It is a waste of time if that is not what we are doing with it. I have seen some very good ones, like Rebekah Clark's and Amy P's, and I am sure there are some more I have not seen. But I want to know you when I see you, and I want you to know me for who I really am. I want to be known by everyone. What you see is what you get. Open with one another, and real. When I looked at Rebekah's and Amy's sites, I already knew what was on there because I know them and they know us. I want to be known! Jesus already does know us, good or bad, so why not let others get to really know you now, while there is time to fix something or while there is time to bless somebody with what we have?
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