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Thriving In Faith Through College, Part 2

May 25, 2020 • Dr. Rob Rienow

So another action step on this and this one is huge students. Give me your full attention. Parents to get into a local church that teaches the Bible from the Bible, get into a local church that teaches the Bible from the Bible. When I was at Wheaton, lots of students stopped going to a local church. Chapel is not church. Maybe you're going to a Christian school. Chapel is a big community worship time and Bible study. That's great. Love it, but it's not a local church. Look at this scripture from Hebrews 10 is that as I was working on this message this week, lots of the scriptures I'm sharing with you are actually from from the book of Hebrews, but look at it says Hebrews 10 24 and 25 let us consider how to stir one another up to love and good works. Not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near, look there at verse 25 let's not neglect meeting together and that is talking about the weekly corporate worship gathering of the church. It says as is the habit of some. In other words, there are some Christians who fall out of the habit of being in church. So God says, don't neglect it. Don't fall out of the habit of it all the more, as you see the day approaching. So Jesus is coming back, let's be ready for him. Full steam ahead. Parents for my two in college. So I've got two away at college. I make regular Sunday church attendance. A requirement if I'm helping to pay for school, doesn't mean yet. Like, you know, you missed a Sunday. I'm not paying, I'm not just talking about regular faithful church attendance. So if you are an independent adult, which means I don't pay for anything in your life, if you're an independent adult, you can do whatever you want. Okay? But if you're still on my dime, I get some say so I'm not willing to send you off to school if you're going to spiritually starve yourself, just not willing to do that. So first weekend you get to college, go to a church, get a ride, get an Uber, ride your bike. Find out what churches have buses or w yeah, college buses that'll pick you up. If you go and the church worships Jesus with authenticity and the preacher gets up and opens a book the Bible specifically and preaches from it, then go back to that church and try again next week or try another church. Okay. I believe in church shopping church shopping's awesome. But I also believe in church buying. So shop shop, shop, shop and then buy. Exactly. Um, one of the way I tell my kids, say by the end of first semester you should have found a church to buy for those next three plus years. Um, one more point on this before I turn to you to talk to each other. You know, for a lot of Christians we struggle when it comes to church or personal devotions cause we just don't feel like doing it. Okay. Talking about time with God in the morning when I wake up, what I feel like doing is checking my phone, scroll, scroll, scroll, check, check, check. That's kind of what I feel like doing. Or Sunday morning, man, especially in college, want to sleep in. Sometimes if we're honest, like we don't have a, you know, we're talking about eating good stuff. Sometimes we just don't have a hunger for God's word. So if you're not hungry for God's word, you might not be too inclined to go eat it. So now if a person loses their appetite physically, let's just say a person loses their appetite. All right, nurse Melissa person loses their appetite. They don't want to eat anymore. What is that a sign of? Generally speaking, not, don't give me a diagnosis, just layman's terms please. Anxiety, depression. Does it mean, is it a sign of wellness or sickness? Yeah, it's a sign of sickness. If you lose your appetite, something's wrong. Something's going on. Um, and what does the doctor say? Well, I know you're not hungry, so don't bother eating. Doctor says, no, I know you're not hungry, but you need to. You need to eat right. Your body needs the nourishment. Your body needs the strength. So Christians, we have to keep eating whether we're hungry or not. And in fact, like the, um, I just had a dear friend who passed away over Christmas. Uh, he was 75 and he was in hospice and when he stopped wanting to eat and drink, right, he just wouldn't eat and drink anymore. That's when they said, you know, he's probably only got a few days left, so he's not hungry. He won't eat. That's danger. Danger, danger, like we're really close. So whether you're hungry or not, we got to eat spiritually. All right. Questions for you to talk to each other. Parents, tell your student about your spiritual habits, your spiritual eating when you are 18 to 22 students, tell your parent one way you think you could improve or grow when it comes to increasing your spiritual food. Go. All right, let me pull you back together. I'm trying. Hopefully I'm making your conversations shorter rather than awkwardly longer. The goal is that you're actually allowed to talk about spiritual things at home and in the car, not just here. So part of my job today is to kickstart some of those conversations. All right, action point number three. Action point number three, never fake it. Never fake it. If you want to thrive in your faith through college, never fake it no matter what. Be honest with God. Be honest with your parents. Be honest with your trusted friends. Look at this scripture also. We're back in Hebrews now. Hebrews 1920 and then to 22 therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us, let us draw near to God with a true heart. So this scripture says Jesus has suffered and died and Rose again to bring you to the father. So verse 22 let us draw near to God with a true heart. Other translations say with a sincere heart, with an honest heart. So the Christian life, not easy. There's doubts, anger, struggle with discouragement. You can be honest with God about all of it. You can be honest with God about all of it. Something that, um, I have seen in a lot of young people, they're now in their twenties, they're now in their thirties who have fallen away in their faith. Is that something really painful happened in their life? Junior high, high school, a friend's suicide. Um, for me, I was 15 years old. My parents got divorced and spiritually for them it was like, God, how could you allow that to happen if he either you're not good and you let it happen, or maybe you are good, but you don't have any power that had happened. You didn't want it to or whatever. But they're, they're hurt and they're angry and they never talked about it. They didn't go to God and yell at him. He's a big boy, by the way. If you want to yell at God, he can take it. All right, that's no problem. Uh, they didn't go to their parents and say, I don't understand this. I am angry at God. Maybe God's not even there. They didn't go to their friends. A switch flips inside with, with this anger and bitterness or these doubts or questions. And then they go to an evolution class and they're like, Oh, okay, well that's a way out. I don't have to believe in God anymore. They go to a philosophy class. Well, that's the way out. I don't have to believe in God anymore. So what I want to encourage you, especially with suffering, pain, doubts, discouragement, you name it. Honest, honest, honest, never fake it. Go to God. Be honest. Go to your parents. Be honest. Don't pretend with your parents. Don't pretend with your spiritual life. If you're having doubts, say so. If you're not sure what you believe, be honest. If you go to college and you don't want to live the Christian life, you don't want to live the Christian life. Tell your parents that. Say, I know you raised me to be a Christian, but I don't want to be a Christian. Look them in the eye. I'm not saying it's a good thing to that. That's the track you're on. I be, I'm concerned for you, but I want you to be honest. I want you to tell the truth. If you're away at school and you want to drink and go to parties or you want to mess around sexually, tell your parents, Hey, just so you know, I'm not going to fake it. I'm drinking every weekend. How much are you drinking? A lot. Be honest. Be a big boy, be a big girl. I'm not saying what you're doing is good, healthy, or anything like that, but stand up. Tell the truth. Now parents, let's say you talk to your kids about this. Let you go home and you say, you know what Rob said today about being honest. That's really important. I do want you to be able to tell me anything that's going on in your life. Fine. Then we've got to prepare ourselves for how we respond when our kids are honest. I think about our w let's say he's a senior in college. Let's say he comes home, uh, at the next break or whatever. He's getting ready to graduate and he says, all right dad, I gotta have a tough conversation with you. I know you raised me to be a Christian. No, you raised me in the church. I know you sent me to a Christian school. I know you've visionary family ministries and all this stuff, but, uh, I just gotta be honest with you. I'm not there. You know, I'm not sure what I think about God. I, I, I'm not planning on being a part of a church after I leave college and become an adult. Um, I, I'm just not sure where I'm at and uh, so you needed to know that. Well, as for me in my house, we will serve the Lord. Uh, all right. I'm freaking out basically. All right. This is like [inaudible] no, it's Def con five nuclear blast and I think, you know, if that happens freaking out, it's appropriate, but I need to freak out in private, like not freak out like with with him right there. What I would pray, first of all, do you think that if, if our w were to come and say that to me, that he would know that he's like taking a risk? Absolutely. He would know he's taken a risk. He knows is going to be a very difficult conversation and he wouldn't have to do that. He could just continue to play Christian and just not tell dad what he's doing. He could keep, you know, visiting church with us when he's home and keep giving kind of vague answers. Well, yeah, me and my wife would just moved this area. Still haven't found a church yet. He could continue to play the game. Now, if he came to me and said all that, there's difficult things going on in his heart, dark things going on in his heart, but one good thing happened. What's the one good thing that happened? He was honest. He gave me his heart. He opened up. I now know better how to pray for him. I now know better how to talk to him and what I would ask God to help me in that, uh, situation is for me to be able to say something like, okay, all right. Dubs that would say a big kind of bomb. He just dropped on me there. It's going to take me a while to process it, but before we talk about it, just thank you. Thank you. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for telling me the truth. Thankful you for respecting our relationship enough to talk to me. Now here's what I'd love for you to do. Can you just take like 10 minutes and just go on a rant. Go on a ramble, just stream of consciousness. Just kind of help me understand. Just cause you didn't decide this yesterday. This is obviously been grown, right? Yeah, it's been grown. Okay. You just talk, just help me understand and when you're done talking we'll, we'll take a break. I'm not going to interrogate your anything. I just want to hear more. You see, he took a little risk right in, in being honest about the nugget. Now I want more, I want more honesty so I know how to pray and I know how, uh, how to help. One of the reasons why students, honesty with your parents about personal things is so important. Member of the beginning, I gave you the illustration of the relay race with the Baton. One runners running, they passed the Baton. Next runner takes and keeps running. It's kind of a flawed illustration. Okay. Any Bible illustration breaks down at some point. Okay. It helps for a little while, but if you overthink it, the reason why that one breaks down is that the Christian race is not an individual race. It's not like parents are running and we pass the Baton to the kids and then they run it. We stop. Okay. It's better. Illustration is the running of the Olympic torch. You ever seen the running of the Olympic torch? One person starts running, they get to the next point and they handle the torch to the next runner and what do they do then the two of them are running and then they handle the next runner and then three of them are running and by that they pick up more and more people as they, the torch progresses to the Olympic stadium or wherever it is. And so that's a better picture of the relay race of the Christian faith that parents keep running and we run with our kids and we run with our grandkids and then God takes us home to heaven. And so it's not an infinite number of people that keep growing, but that we run together generationally. Okay. Interaction time for you parents and actually wanting to have you stand up for this one since you've been sitting for awhile, stand up and talk about these questions. Parents on a scale of one to 10 when you were a teenager, how open were you with your parents when it came to spiritual, personal things? 10 is the highest. And why students, on a scale of one to 10, how comfortable do you feel talking with your parents about spiritual personal things? One to 10 be honest. Why go? I've used this, this second question, students, I know I kinda throw you to the wolves a little bit on this one. You know, how on a scale of one to 10, how comfortable do you feel talk with your parents? We've had a few situations over the years where a girl say to her mom, you know, like you're in the group. You know, maybe she'll say, you know, I don't know, three or four, maybe something like that. And the mom will be crying. I can't believe you said three or four. You know, I told you your whole life, you can talk to your mother about anything and you'd say three or four. It's very hurtful to your mother and they're having this big, huge blow up. I would try to avoid that, but just, uh, I told the mom, I'm like, well, maybe that's why it's a three or four. Your whole little deal you just did there. Okay, so feedback for parents. Let's say your trial does say three or four, one or two, okay? That would be your cue. Not to freak out, but your cue to say thank you for being honest. Tell me more. Help me understand. Very good. Okay. You're doing great. All right. Action point number four. We're cranking along here. Action point number four. You want to keep your faith through college, invest in Christian friendships, invest in Christian friendships. How many of you have ever heard this encouragement students? Now it's a question for you. How many of you have ever heard your parents or somebody at school tell you, you need to have Christian friends? Raise your hand if you've heard this. You need to have Christian friends. Okay. I want to tell you that that's not necessarily true. You don't necessarily need to have Christian friends. You need to have Christian friendships with your Christian friends. Here's what happened in my life, and I see it all the time with students today, is that we have a lot of friends who are Christians, but there's nothing Christian about the friendship. There's no prayer for each other. There's no talking about Jesus. There's no talking about the Bible talking about their faith. There's no challenge spiritually. There's no accountability. There's no like uplift. If you watched these two friends who are Christians and these two friends who are atheists and you watch their behavior, you watch their friendship, you'd see hardly any difference. Okay, well maybe these kids behave a little better or make different choices with whatever, I don't know. But when it comes to how they relate to each other, they're practically identical. So you don't need Christian friends. You need Christian. What friendships? Look at this passage back in Hebrews chapter three verse 13 but exhort one another every day as long as it is called today that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Exhort one another. What does that mean? It just means you challenge one another. Encourage each other, pushes you, push each other. And then there's this weird phrase as long as it's called today, okay, what? These are not trick questions. What is today called? What do we call it? Not a trick question. Today we call today, today, tomorrow. What are we going to call tomorrow? And we get there today. Exactly. So as long as today is called today, how long is that? That's like for like forever. Today's always going to be called today. Every day is called today. That's what he's trying to say. What are we supposed to do? We're supposed to encourage each other. We're supposed to encourage each other in our faith. Now, why is it such a big deal? There's like a a, why do we need this? That none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. So sin is going to deceive you so that it hardens you sins, going to lie to you so that your heart gets hard. And we can go through the list of all sorts of different illustrations or examples where this happens. Okay? You can think about a movie choices or music choices. You see enough sexual garbage on the screen. Pretty soon your conscience gets hardened to seeing the sexual garbage on the screen and you're just kind of like, yeah, whatever. Or you see enough blood and Gore and horror, your heart gets hardened, your conscience gets beaten into submission. Maybe the first time you see it you say, Oh, maybe I shouldn't see in that. You watch it, you watch it, you watch it, you beat your conscience down into submission. Your conscience gets seared, okay, or scarred, so you keep right. Finally you get a scar there and the nerve endings just aren't working anymore. That's the way a conscience can get seared or beaten down. Same thing happens with drugs and alcohol. Okay? One little drink turns into extra drinks pretty soon, getting drunk on weekends and parties and all this kind of stuff. And you ask that person, maybe they go to church or they say they're a Christian. How do you feel about all that? Ah, it's no big deal. Come on. What's the problem there? Their heart, their conscience has been hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. So when you're in your dorm room and you choose something on Netflix, you know you, by the way, you're like, man, what should we watch tonight? Let's go Netflix, scroll, scroll, scroll. Generally speaking, the deeper you scroll into Netflix, you're not going up the virtue and goodness ladder. I've found that just that you're, you're going more into the bowels of what exists out there, but okay, you pick something, you put it on and five minutes in there's some sex scene. Who's going to say in that room, Hey guys, let's pick something else. Let's pick something else. Or if they don't want to pick someone else, who's going to say, Hey, you know what? I got this test tomorrow. I'm going to, I'm going to go study. You don't have to make some big deal out of it. Exhort one another every day as long as it's called today that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. So the, the, the, the demons want to dial down the voice of God in your life. That's the good stuff. And they want to dial up the voices of the world. Now I want to give you what I've found to be the key ingredient. You're like, all right, okay. I'm not supposed to have Christian friends with the Christian friendships. Uh, I want to give you the key ingredient, the simple key ingredient that will turn a Christian friend into having a Christian friend ship. And here's what you do. You say this to them. Is there any way I can pray for you today? You can text it all right with me and my kids. This is the text. Okay, I've got these college kids off at school. Is there any I can print any way I can pray for you today. All right. And I'm not waiting for the bubbles. Come on. You respond. Tell me, tell me. Tell me. Okay. Maybe they respond. Maybe they don't. But nine times out of 10, within a few hours, I get a text back. Yeah. Here's how you can pray for me today. And then because they are now soon to be adults, what I get back from them, praise the Lord. How can I pray for you today, dad? So now we're starting to have like a brother and brother in Christ relationship, brother and sister in Christ relationship. So this, this key ingredient in what it does when you send this text to somebody, it shows them your spiritual care, your spiritual interest. So I'm going to challenge you to do it with your friends. Do it with your parents and Ellison. Do it with your siblings. Do it with your siblings. How can I pray for you today? How can I pray for you today? Either verbally or through text and you're like, man, that's weird. It's like dorky. I don't want to go all Jesus freak on my friends. I agree with you. It's weird. Okay? It's godly weird. It's not the way the world works. And I'll push you. Students, give me your attention on this. If you can't ask a Christian parent or a Christian sibling or one or two, have your close, trusted Christian friends. If you can't ask them, Hey, how can I pray for you? Or if you can't ask them, Hey, could you pray for me? I've got this thing going on. I just want to suggest to you that that you may be kind of in a dangerous place spiritually because this is the key ingredient. This is like the essential piece of a true Christian friendship. Follow Us: facebook.com/visionaryfam instagram.com/visionaryfamilyministries twitter.com/visionaryfam Resources: shop.visionaryfam.com visionaryfam.com/parenting visionaryfam.com/marriage visionaryfam.com/nevertoolate #family #parenting #marriage #visionaryfamily #visionaryparenting #visionarymarriage #nevertoolate #notsoperfectmom @amyvfm @d6family