Thriving In Faith Through College, Part 3

June 1, 2020 • Dr. Rob Rienow

I also want you to pay special attention to special friends that might come into your life. The boyfriend, the girl. I love how parents, you know, parents kind of freak out when their kids first get a boyfriend or a girlfriend. They don't want to use the word boyfriend or girlfriend. So how's your special friend doing? Because we don't, we just get too creeped out by it too soon. But that's all right, but boy, you gotta pay so much attention to this. Once you cross that phase of getting serious with a boy or a girl romantically, you absolutely have to make sure that this person is spiritually vibrant, spiritually alive, spiritually active, that it is easy to talk about Jesus with them. It is easy to talk about prayer requests with them. It is easy to say, Hey, what's God teaching you these days? It's easy to say what you know. How did you, what impact did that sermon have in your life? Something like that. If, if you're not connecting with someone, when you get to that stage of your life, when you're starting romantic relationships where you can connect easily about spiritual things, where you admire this person spiritually, when you spend time with them, like you want to be a more faithful Christian, then that is not a relationship at that point that you want to make special. Probably just a friend at that point. But once you cross that line into being serious about preparing for marriage and dating with someone, that is someone that is absolutely critical that they are walking with the Lord. One thing that I've heard about on this, this, this need to have Christian friendships, not just Christian friends, but Christian friendships. I've had some students tell me they're getting ready to go off to university of Alabama or whatever, you know, and they say, well look, you know, Jesus spent all his time with sinners and prostitutes and tax collectors. So, uh, you know, I'm going to go, you know, it'd be very missional at a this big school and you know, I'll be at all the parties and all that stuff and shining for Christ. Okay, I get it. I appreciate it. But the premise of your statement's wrong. You hear the ice thought. I saw a meme the other day, you know, Jesus spent all his time with sinners. We should do. She said it didn't spend all this time with sinners. He spent 91% of his life with his family. That's age zero to 30 and then during his ministry years, who do you spend most of his time with? With his disciples. Okay. Other people that were bumbling along seeking to follow him. And did he spend time with sinners and prostitutes and tax collectors? Absolutely. He was on mission, but his primary group. Okay. Was this family first and then secondly, those who believed in him. I'm going to close us in just a second with action 0.5 but I want to take this window right now to do some Q and a questions, comments, thoughts, disagreements. Maybe you had a question about something we've already covered some that we're not talking about. What would you like to ask? How do you know your kids are going to church every Sunday when you're away? Cause they always tell you the truth, Kristen. That's why always parents listen, none of us ever lied to our parents about anything, right? So none of our children would ever consider doing no. Um, I, I think obviously you're going to be asking straight forward questions. You're hoping for straightforward responses. And I think that over time our kids' spiritual trajectory becomes pretty plain. Um, and so over the course of a semester, if every now and then once a month, Hey, how's church going for you? Uh, you know, what do you like about this church? What's God's teaching you over time, if they are spinning things a little bit, that'll, that'll become obvious. And I'm not, I am not checking up with my two college kids on like weekly church attendance. Okay. This is a goal. Something that we talk about. They both affirm it. I just sort of noticed that it comes up in conversation with them. I, I with Lizzie in particular, she'll say, Oh I, the women's ministry did this thing the other day and I decided to go cause some college girls were going like I didn't so are you involved with women's ministry? She just volunteered that and I don't think she's so devious to be like she has a calendar. I have to plant a few lies with dad along the semester to make sure. Yeah, hopefully that's not happening. It's a good question. Somebody else. Okay. The question is we're talking about a lot of us when we appear to experience pain, suffering or we see pain suffering in the lives of people that we love. Real crisis of faith. Who has God has God there, has got good, has got powerful. We talked about wanting to create an open environment. How do we do that in the house? Um, one thing is by being vulnerable with your kids, especially as they're older about your own story and your own journey. I think it's very helpful when we're talking with our teenagers or college students to have some of these, you know, what, when I was your age, here is something that I was really struggling with and then fill in the blank, whatever it was, uh, cause it communicates to them that it's normal to struggle. It's okay to talk about it. You know, I've done in previous seminars, I've put a graph up here, um, and the graph is on the ages of 10 to 20, and the graph is on, uh, uh, spiritual emotional health. Okay. And I have this line, it just goes straight up age 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. In other words, this is my expectation of my child between the ages of 10 and 20. Every year they're going to be a little more mature, a little more godly, a little more responsible, a little more adultish. And then I asked the adults, how many of you between the ages of 10 and 20 had that graph, right? Just every year. Yeah. Just better and better all the time. That's my life. Okay. And obviously none of us have that experience. All of us. And so then I put another graph up, which is real jagged but but slowly it Jags its way up. And what's the great thing about that graph going up? Trajectory wise, going up now one year over the next year, one month over the next month things may be very, very Rocky. So as parents we're paying attention to trajectory. When I'm doing family counseling I'll always ask that question. Parents come, they want to talk about a teenager. I'll always say, okay talk to me about a year ago, two years ago, three years ago. Would you say over that time you're generally seeing growth emotionally, spiritually, relationally, more honoring with you, all of that. And if they say, yeah actually I think I am big picture wise then a lot of our conversations going to be, okay let's hold the course, let's keep praying. Let's see. Now a lot of times parents say, you know what? No, I think when they were freshmen I think I was seeing a lot more soft heartedness toward the Lord and toward me and I'm seeing more hardheartedness right now. So that's an encouragement. The point of that graph is not, Oh, it's going to be fine. Big picture trajectory, don't worry about it. But to pay attention to that longterm growth chart. So being open and honest, understanding that there's going to be a lot of ups and downs and when they do nibble around the edges, Hey, I am really sad about this happening. I am really angry about this happening. Lots of, Hey, tell me more about that. Lots of, do you remember the, um, kids you don't remember? Well, you have examples. Parents growing up, the little toys, you pull the string on the toy and it says like the same two phrases over and over. So kids, you've got buttons, toys, you know when you were a kid, you push the button and it says little things. So parents you've got to get rid of. There's a few phrases that are just on your pull string. Okay? And you just say him a lot, which is, boy, thanks for telling me that. Tell me more. You know, if I were in your shoes, I'd probably feel the exact same way. Can you tell me more about that? Hey, you know what, that makes total sense to me. I had experienced just like that, right? Just, just affirming, affirming. Tell me more. Tell me more. You're not crazy for having that feeling. You're not crazy for having that thought. Let's share it. One more question. Yeah. The one I mentioned before for college students I think is the best truth for life. There's so many good ones out there that if there is a, uh, a ministry, a Bible teacher, uh, somebody that your family or your son or daughter resonates with subscribing to their podcast, subscribing to their YouTube channel, you know, they probably have something like that. By the way, parents, we have a podcast and YouTube channel, visionary family ministries. If you want to do more like parent training, family training, we'd love to connect with you there. So, you know, you may have to poke around a little bit to find the church or the ministry or the Bible teacher that they connect with or resonate with. And then if they, if there is one, put it on your phone too and be listening to what's going on and you're able to say, Amy does that a lot. She'll, she'll listen to some she knows that the kids have on their phones. Oh, I just listen to this new podcast today. It was really encouraging for me in this way and it's not, I hope you listen to it too and get back to me and tell me what you think. It's a guilt free. Like, Hey, I'm growing. Um, and if you want to talk more we can. Alright, last action point and I'm gonna close in prayer for us. Action point number five, choose today who you will serve. I have talked with a lot of students over the years and they tell me something like this. I'm going to start taking God seriously when I become an adult. Heard that lots and lots of times, I've heard a lot of adults tell me, I'm gonna figure this God thing out when I'm old. I'm too busy right now. You know, my dad was, was not a Christian his whole life. He three weeks before he died at the age of 90, God worked a miracle and his life brought him to repentance of sins and faith in Christ. But he was an atheist. He was a secularist. He was very hard-hearted. He was um, 85 years old. And I said, dad, what do you think is waiting for you after this life? He's a guy, I don't know, you know, maybe there's probably, you know, probably a good place or something like that. I said, well dad, what does it take to get to the good place? He said, well on my deathbed I'll call a priest. The priest will pray something good and I'll go to a good place. I'll say, dad, I said, is that really the way you think it works? Like just some guy comes in like said something like, and you go to some good place. And I appreciated his honesty here. He did say to me, well I guess maybe that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. You know, I don't know how it works. And then he changed, changed the subject. You know, I think about my father, cause I want to go back to your comment about me expanding on this a little bit. I've talked to a lot of students, 20 somethings, 30 somethings. They used to be Christians. They used to, but they're not anymore. They tell me, well, I learned about evolution or I learned about philosophy in almost every one of those situations. As I talked to them, it went back to a hurt. It went back to a wound. It went back to something that happened in their spirit, not in their brain. I remember with my dad, my dad, um, his mother died in childbirth with him in 1918 and his father already had two sons and didn't want my dad or couldn't care for my dad. We don't exactly know what happened. So his mom died and his dad didn't take him. And he was a preemie baby, born at seven and a half months. And in 1918 that was major life-threatening. He spent a year in the hospital at the university of Iowa. No mom, no dad, nurses praise God for the nurses. But that's not what a little baby's supposed to have. You're not supposed to have a nurse for a year. It's worse to have a mom just to have a dad, right? He gets adopted by his aunt and his uncle who were brother and sister. They weren't, it wasn't weird. It was a single man and a single woman who lived together. They were brother and sister. They never got married, so we never saw a marriage, never saw a family. His dad was an atheist. His adopted dad, his adopted, told him over and over again. Jesus is just a man. Don't believe in Jesus. Jesus is just a man. Don't believe in Jesus. My dad spends his whole life looking for women to love him. My mother was his fourth wife, had four divorces after being divorced from my mom at other mistresses, women he lived with, spend his whole life looking to fill his mother wound, died with a picture of his mom and his dresser, 90 years old. Picture of his mom and his dresser. I asked him, I'm 88 years old, were out to breakfast. I say, dad, I wonder if you're angry with God for letting your mom die when you were born. I didn't even finish the sentence. And a tear comes down as cheek 88 years old, wipes it away. I don't want to talk about that hemorrhaging spiritually because of a wound from like literally from birth. Does this make sense? And we've got so many people that are in deep doubt, anger, struggle, hatred for God, whatever it is because of deep wounds that have happened and there weren't people around them to help guide them through, through those struggles. Okay. Um, I asked my son, I told you we were out to lunch two days ago. I asked him, JD, why do you think so many students fall away in college? First thing he said was that they never learned to eat spiritual food by themselves. They're just that little bird with, with their open mouth. And the other thing you said was pretty, I thought, pretty blunt. He said, I think a lot of those kids who fall away from faith in college and in their twenties, in reality, they really even weren't, weren't walking with God in high school and junior high. So it's not like they're just on fire for the Lord in high school. And then all of a sudden things, things change. Um, and so that's what this action point is all about. And so students, I just want your full and undivided attention here. Choose today. It's not choosing college who you'll serve. It's not choose when you're 25 who you serve. Choose today who you'll serve. Think of it this way. If you're here today, you've got a Christian parent, your Christian parent probably dragged you here. If you grow up in a Christian House, you go to Christian Church, you go to Christian school, the Christian parent puts a shirt on you. They put a Christian shirt on you. Like when you're really little. Some of you teenagers might buy your own clothes, probably not. Your parents still probably buy your clothes. Um, and they provide your clothes for you. So whatever you wear is what your parents give you to wear. Okay? So if you grow up in a Christian House, get a Christian shirt, your parents come and put a Christian shirt on you and everybody who looks at you and says, Oh well faith the Christian cause she goes to Christian Church. Okay, and she has a Christian family and they talk about Christian stuff. But when you leave your house, the world rips off the shirt the parents put on you. That's okay. It's part of being an adult. It's part of leaving the house. The question is do you have your own shirt underneath? Like I'm a Christian, I'm a follower of God. This isn't my parents shirt anymore. This is my shirt and I want people to that I'm a follower of God. This closing verse and that I'm going to, I'm going to pray. It's from Joshua 24 maybe a verse you've heard before. It says, the people of Israel, they've come out of Egypt, they've come through the wilderness, they've come into the promised land that they came out of a land in Egypt of idol worshipers. And unfortunately a lot of the Israelites brought some of those idols with them. They weren't faithful to God out in the wilderness, and now they've moved into the land of Canaan, also filled with a bunch of idol worshipers. So this is what Joshua says to the people. He says, choose when this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the river. In other words, the idols that they brought with them from Egypt or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. And then Joshua makes this proclamation. He says, as for me in my house, we will serve the Lord and his command there is challenged. Choose you this day, and this is the point students that I want to stick with you here before I pray. It's your spiritual commitment now is the key to your spiritual commitment in the future. Your spiritual commitment now is the key to your spiritual commitment in the future, and this is not, thou shalt be a perfect Christian now, so thou can be a perfect Christian in the future. There's none of that, but right now, if it's the decision of your heart, I want to follow Jesus. I want to run the race. I'm going to Bumble and stumble every day. Jesus is going to pick me back up, put me back on track. I want to follow Jesus in this life and I bought to be with him in eternity forever. Let's pray together. God, I thank you for waking us up this morning. I want to thank you for every student that's here. Every parent that's here, maybe their student couldn't be with them, and that this conversation today is going to spark some conversations at home. But God, would you just please help all of us, all of us, just to be able to say that, that we fought the good fight, that we finished the race, that we kept the faith, that we pursued what you have for us, that crown of righteousness that you promise to, to award to us and God, we also, um, as we think about this, this like Baton pass and Olympic torch run, we know your word says that, that we're not doing this by ourselves. We're surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses and that you tell us to put aside every weight and the sin that that clings to us and God, I want to pray. You'd help us run with endurance the race that you've set before us and that we would look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. So God, the only way that any of us or even your children is because the work of grace brought us to you. And the only way we're going to continue to walk to you is if you continue to give us your grace and give us your mercy that you drew us to yourself, and that you promise you're going to keep us with you. And we ask that you would do that. And we pray all this in Jesus name. Amen. 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