Thriving In Faith Through College, Part 1

May 18, 2020 • Dr. Rob Rienow

The most important issue for us as we go into adulthood isn't a, do we have a good college or do we have a good job or what kind of money are we going to make? But the question is, are we going to walk with you? Are we gonna follow you throughout our lives and into eternity? So I pray you'd help us with this conversation. Pray you'd help me give me the words to say and um, as we're talking in a turning to each other at different times, Lord, I pray that the conversations would be open and honest and helpful and I pray all this in Jesus' name. Amen. All right. Thriving in your faith through college. Let me tell you why this subject is so critical. Every study that you could find every bit of research that you could find on what happens to teenagers that are raised in a Christian Church. Go to a Christian school, raised in a Christian family. What happens to them when they leave the house? 18 to 22 every single study you could find says that a very high percentage of them walk away from their faith, decline in their faith, slip in their faith. Some studies it's 50% 60% 70% 80% I won't bore you with with the details, but you can easily find them on their own and students, this window of your life that's coming up 18 to 22 is an incredibly important, uh, important window, incredibly important years. Let me give you an illustration that that might help. When it comes to faith in Jesus, faith is passed from one generation to the next. It's kind of like a Baton pass during the relay race. So parents, God willing are bumbling and stumbling along on the track, trying to follow God. All of you teenagers, all of us parents wish that we were setting a better example for you when it came to faith, but you've got what you've got. None of you are being raised by Jesus. We're all pretty messed up so we are all bumbling and stumbling along. But if you've got a parent in this room, I guarantee you that they are asking God for grace and mercy every day to run the race for Christ. They want to be faithful to him and they're falling short, but they're trying. And so what moms and dads want to do is they want to pass the Baton of faith to their sons and daughters and they want their sons and daughters to take the Baton and to run for Jesus in the next generation. Are there any track runners here? Anybody? One sorta kind of former track runner? All right. In a relay race, if things are going to go bad, when do they go? Bad? Baton pass. Okay. If you've just got the Baton and you're running by yourself, so far so good, but at a Baton pass, the first renter's gotta be running. They've got to hold out the Baton. The second runner has got to reach back for the Baton, grab the Baton, take the Baton, and then they've got to run on their own. These [inaudible], these four years, 18 to 22 this is the handoff. This is the full transition for you students between childhood and adulthood. And so these four years, this is like your spiritual trajectory going into your adult life. So what we're going to do this morning is I'm going to talk to you about five things that you can do to thrive in your faith during these critical years. And I'm going to do it by spending most of my time talking to students. Okay? So you might've thought that you're gonna sit here and I'm going to talk to your parents for a little while and you can check out. I'm going to spend most of my time talking to students. Now, a few of you are here and you don't have your son or daughter with you. That's all good because what I want to do this morning is kind of equip you with some conversations you can have with your son or daughter. I know I've got Joyce's here. Our kids are, JD and Keenan are on a mission trip to Peru right now. Uh, Sturman says you get, you just sent off Tyler to the dr. So, um, you may not be here with your student, but that's okay. You're going to get equipped with some conversations for home. We'll also put this on our podcast. So for some of you you could even go home and say, Hey, you missed this thing. Let's listen to the weird seminar with Rob and talk about it. And I'm sure your teenager will love that. And this is not going to be 90 minutes of lecture as we go through these five things at the end of each one. So they're going to be short. I'm going to talk for about 10 minutes and then I'm going to turn you to your family members or friends that are sitting next to you for some conversation between, uh, between the two of you. And a matter of fact, I'm going to start you off right away. Uh, parents, I want you to talk to your son or daughter or whoever's with you. And if you don't have kids with you, you can turn and talk to a friend. I want you to describe your faith and relationship with God when you were between the ages of 18 to 22 and you can do the good, the bad and the ugly. I'm gonna give you about two minutes. Go. All right, let me pull you back together. I'm gonna move really quick this morning through these five action points. These five things that I'm going to share with you. If you were to interview these millions of young people, they grew up in a Christian home. They grew up in a Christian Church by the time they're 25 they don't call themselves Christians. If you were to interview them, I bet you in the research would show that you would be hard pressed to find any of these five things in their life from the ages of 18 to 22 and if you interviewed those young people that continued to follow Jesus into adulthood, you would find one, two, three, four, or five of these things that I'm going to share with you. So these are, they're powerful, they're practical, they're specific, and if you can latch onto them, it can make a huge, huge difference in your life. First one is this action point. We're doing five action points today. First one is this, define the goal and keep talking about it to find the goal and keep talking about it. All right? Personal question you can answer honestly. How many of you are Christians? You say, I'm a follower of Jesus. I fall short every day, but I'm a follower of Jesus. Okay? Lots of hands. If you raised your hand, I have a second question for you. How many of you, those of you that raised your hands would still like to be a Christian and a follower of Jesus 10 years from now? All right. I think based on my quick survey, that 100% of you that raised your hand and some of you maybe didn't and that's okay. I'm glad you're here, but if you raise your hand and you said, yeah, I'm a Christian. I want to follow God falling short, struggling, but I want to follow him. I think 100% of you say, yeah, I think I still want to be a Christian in 10 years. I think I still want to be growing in God's grace and in God's mercy, so this is a powerful thing to tell yourself. I want to keep following God. It's powerful to tell your family. It's powerful to tell God that I want to be a Christian and follow Christ for my whole life. I know I'm going to struggle. I know I'm going to have doubts. I don't want to be a statistic of somebody who falls away. That's what I mean by defining the goal. The goal is telling yourself, telling people around you, I want to be a Christian now. Maybe you're here and that's not your goal. You're excited to get out of the house so you can leave all this Jesus freak stuff behind you. We will talk about that in in just a minute. Parents, if your son or daughter is in that mode, they are just in a spiritually dark place right now. A very apathetic, whatever bristly in any kind of spiritual conversation. Sometimes we, some of our seminars we do here at Wheaton Academy focus particularly on that. I'm not digging in too much on that today. We'll spend a little time talking about it, but the resource back at our table that you want to make sure you leave with is called five reasons for spiritual apathy in teens. Okay, so you've got a teenager that's just sort of flat, blah, whatever with spiritual things. That's the, that's the resource you definitely want to want to leave with. So imagine I got this. JD is a senior. Okay, so in just a few months, eight months, he's going to be heading off to school. Imagine that he looks me in the eye before he leaves and says, dad, I want to keep my faith. I want to come out of college closer to God than I am now. So he's got a goal, he's defined his goal and he's talking about it. He's speaking it and I'm able to say to him then, amen. Praise God. Listen son, I want to be closer to God in four years than I am now. You and I are on the exact same page like we are going the same direction so we can help each other. Let's keep talking about this. Then he comes home for Thanksgiving break. Maybe we've had small conversations, you know, along the way that first semester we can sit down and Thanksgiving and I can say to him, Hey, how are things going in your walk with God? What's going good? Where are you struggling? Is it still your goal to follow Christ? Well, dad, I've been struggling with this and struggled with this, but yeah, it's still my goal to follow Christ. Can you see how powerful just those conversations are? Identifying a goal and talking about it. Think of it like this. Any rock climbers out there? Anybody done any rock climbing in your life? Come on. I had one track person. All right, faith three. You go. If you're climbing a real long pitch and you're not getting belayed from the top, which means just somebody throws you a rope down. Let's say you're climbing with two people up a cliff. You climb up 10 15 feet and you put a P, it's called the [inaudible]. You put a metal stake into the rock and you clip your rope through that metal stake, and then you climb another 10 feet up. So now you're 10 feet above where you're tied into. So if you fall, how far are you going to fall? Math experts? 20 feet. You're going to fall 10 down to your last PTEN and 10 feet below. But as you climb every 10 15 feet, you put another ton in, another PTEN in. So your fall, wherever you fall from is just that next 20 feet down. So this is what I mean by talking about your faith goal over and over again to yourself, to God, to your family. Each time you do that. Each time you say, yeah, I want to follow God. You're putting another pizza on into the rock and then you're going to climb. You may fall. You fall back down and that last affirmation catches you. The apostle Paul talks about this. Philippians chapter three look at the way he talks about his own faith. He says, not that I've already obtained this or I'm already perfect. In other words, I am still struggling as a Christian. I'm still falling short. He says, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own brothers. I don't consider that I've made it my own, but one thing I do, I forget what lies behind. I'm straining toward straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Just look at how he's talking about his own walk with God. He's not getting bogged down in his struggles and his falling short says he's straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God. In Christ Jesus. Now read saying my goal, Paul, my goal is to walk with Christ now and forever and his ultimate goal, what is the upward call of God in Christ Jesus? What does he mean by that? The ultimate destination of the Christian, right? Heaven and eternal life. So he's got a spiritual goal. He's got the desire of his heart and he's talking about it. In this case, he's writing about it. So this is just like the opposite of being spiritually passive or being spiritually adrift. Eat good stuff. How many you've ever heard of the freshman? 15 freshmen? 15 RI. Basically what that is a little bit of a joke, but kind of not really that a lot of college students leave home, they go off to freshman year and a lot of them put on some weight cause they say 15 pounds is the average or whatever. I actually checked the research this week. The average is actually 11 pounds, but they rounded up to F and F freshman 15 make it sound good. Maybe that's like growth stage or hormones. It could be pizza five nights a week. We don't exactly know what it is. Quick story. So freshman year of college I had this health class and part of what they wanted to do for health class was to keep track of everything you're eating and track all your calories just to learn about your diet and you know what you're eating, all this other stuff. Okay. And simultaneously to that, I said I want, I do want to get healthy so I'm going to cut sugar out of my life. Okay? I'm going to no more sugar. And so I do this simultaneously, cut sugar out of my life and start counting my calories and adding up all my food. And I'm counting week after week, I'm eating 5,000 calories a day, 6,000 calories a day. I'm like, wow, how is this possible? I'm not having any more Coke. I'm not having desserts. What is this? Well, it turns out that if you put a whole stick of butter on a bagel, that that's a lot of calories. Or if you have one part cream cheese, one part bagel, that's a lot of calories through. So I had no sugar involved in my life whatsoever, but I was, I was packing away the calories just fine. So here's the point with this one, okay? If you want to be physically fit, okay? You got to pay attention to what you're putting in your body. If you want to be spiritually fit, you gotta be paying attention to what you're putting in your mind and what you're putting in your heart. So when it comes to spiritual food, there's three meals, three spiritual meals that Christians need. Jesus talked about this spiritual eating. He talked about it in Matthew chapter four verse four he said, man shall not live by bread alone. Meaning you need more than physical food. But every word that comes from the mouth of God, just like you can't live physically without physical food, you can't live spiritually without spiritual food. And there's three meals spiritually that the Bible says that every Christian needs, if you're going to be healthy, you got to have three spiritual meals. Here they are. The first one is personal prayer, word and worship. Spending time all by yourself with God is a spiritual meal. The other second meal that every Christian needs is family, prayer, word and worship. This is Deuteronomy six and Psalm 78. Uh, some of the seminars we've done at Wheaton Academy before are kind of, you know, how do we do this at home? How do we have more prayer and Bible in the home like without killing each other? Okay. And then the third meal is church with our brothers and sisters in Christ, the corporate worship service of the church, prayer together, word and worship. So three spiritual meals, every single Christian needs in order to be healthy. Now when you go off to college, let's say you do go to college between 18 and 22, which one of these meals is in a little bit of jeopardy? Yeah, the family one, right? You may be moving out of the house. Uh, you're not living at home. You don't have perhaps family, prayer, family worship, family devotions. And so what that means is that during that window of your life, the other two meals have got to increase. The other two meals have got to increase. I was talking to J D we were out to lunch just right before his, his mission trip to Peru. And uh, I said, okay, I'm doing this seminar Saturday on, on thriving in your faith and how many teenagers leave the faith? And I asked him, I said, why do you think so many young people decline in faith during college? And the first thing he said was, I think it's because a lot of teenagers when it comes to spiritual food have just been being fed by their parents. Okay. And their parents take them to church, their parents talk to them about God, their parents pray with them, and they're getting fed by their parents. And all of a sudden off they go to school and there's no one there to feed them. So the illustration that we talked about was this, right? The little baby chick in the nest, you've seen these pictures, it's just got his neck crank back with his mouth open and mommy's going to cram the worms down the throat. And if mommy doesn't do it, the chick's not getting anything. But once, imagine you look went out into the yard and you see birds hopping around in the grass. Imagine you saw a bird just out in the grass like this, waiting for some other bird to come put a worm in their mouth. That ain't going to happen. Okay? Once you leave the nest, you got to go do the work. You got to dig for the worms. You got to eat on your own. And sometimes, and this is a, I don't want to say especially true, this can be especially true for parents who've got their kids in Christian education. In other words, we're putting our kids in a place where other people are going to feed them. Okay? And yeah, we're feeding them and other people that we're just, we're driving the minivan and dropping him off at all the big birds that are going to feed them. And all they have to do is open their mouth and somebody who's going to cram something in. So what happens students is that a lot of young people think that when it comes to spiritual feeding, they say, well, that's not my job. It's not my job to do spiritual feeding. It's other people's job to spiritually feed me. Here's one of my favorite, not my job pictures that I found and if you can see this or not, but there's guys out that are painting the roads and they come to the possum and they said, that's not my job. You know, I don't pick up possums. I paint roads. So they just paint right over. I'm not, I'm not messing with that thing. Okay, so obviously you got to make the, you got to make the transition from other people feeding you to starting to feed your self. So what does this, what does this look like? All right. It means being more intentional. I'm going to talk to you about these two meals. Okay? Your personal time with God and your time in church. It means being more intentional than ever before about your one on one time with God. And I know it is a battle and it's a struggle. I don't think I've ever met a Christian. Sometimes Christians talk about their spiritual life with each other. Sometimes they'll say, Hey, how's your devotional time going? I don't know if I've heard anybody ever say to me, it's awesome. I am actually, I think I'm spending too much time with God. Honestly, I feel like I'm just overflowing with prayer, overflowing with time and God's word. Now. I'm sure there's people out there like that. I just, I just haven't met him. So it's a struggle for me. It's a struggle for my kids. So you have to keep pressing, keep pushing. If you fall off, a few days go by, you haven't spent any time in prayer and scripture. You just get back on track. Okay? Satan and the demons make this such a high priority. Okay? They do not want you getting this personal time with God. They don't want you being fed from his word. So here's some things just in my life that I'm asking God to do for me. Um, first thing is I'm asking God to help me when my alarm goes off in the morning to, to prompt me to swing my knees off the bed, put my knees on the floor and just talk to God for 10 seconds, 30 seconds, one minute, whatever it is. Instead of grabbing my phone, right? And scroll, scroll, scroll, check, check, check, whatever it is. Remember what Jesus says. Jesus says, come to me. All of you who have everything figured out and are doing great and can pray flowery prayers is that, Hey, no, come to me, all of you who are heavy Laden in a weary right. And I will give you rest. I think God, God loves, um, I call him just needy, honest prayers. Just Lord, I just humble myself before you. I'm a mess and I need you in my life this hour. I need you in my life today. Um, something else, just by way of personal devotion students, I want to encourage you to do this. You've got an app on your phone called podcasts. I'd encourage you to get some great Christian podcasts on your phone while you're away. You're going to need to be feeding yourself the one I listened to the most called truth for life. Okay? Truth for life. It's a free podcast and just a phenomenal, phenomenal Bible teaching that encourages me. 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