Tough Questions Final Week

We began this week with a game where the group was divided into three teams and each team received: a roll of wrapping paper and a roll of scotch tape. The object of the game was to use the wrapping paper as a ninja costume, the tube as a ninja sword, and the tape to keep the costume together. Also, five 2.5′ lengths of tape were allowed to be used to strengthen the sword. We had one team that just totally dominated.

Good Fun!

We looked at a few specific issues that the students had submitted for the Tough Questions series finale.

1. When I pray what name should I call God?
There are a number of names of God in Scripture.  Generally when someone prays it can be helpful to think of the attribute of God that they are seeking (Father, Judge, Healer, etc) and then use that particular name to address God.  Here is a list of names of God that are found in the Bible:
Abba – Father
Elohim – The Strong, faithful, and only true God
El Shaddai – Almighty, All-sufficient God
El Elyon – Most High God
El Olam – The Everlasting God
Jehovah Jireh – The Lord will Provide
Jehovah Nissi – The Lord is my Banner
Jehovah Shalom – The Lord is Peace
Jehovah Sabbaoth – The Lord of Hosts
Jehovah Ro’i – The Lord is my Shepherd
Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is There
Jehovah Rapha – The Lord who Heals
The Light of the World
The Bread of Life
Lamb of God
Emmanuel: God with Us

It may be beneficial to take a look at this list of names of God and others that are used throughout Scripture (if you’d like a more in-depth look at this subject click here) and discuss with your child a few that have meant more to you at certain times in your life.  This sort of discussion gives your teenager a valuable glimpse into your spiritual life your walk with the Lord through the years.

2. Are my pets going to heaven?
The Bible doesn’t truly discuss this.  I have heard from many people that heaven wouldn’t be heaven without their pets there, and while I think the sentiment is nice, I believe that God is totally able to make heaven awesome with just his presence.  There does appear to be animals in heaven (lion laying down with the lamb), but this would not necessarily mean that your pet is kept around.

Regardless of your view on the souls of pets eternal home, I encourage you to think on the eternal home of the people you come in contact with daily.  They certainly have eternal souls, and they can live with you forever in heaven, but we need to be the hands and feet of Christ to those who are lost.  Pray for your neighbors as often as you think and care for your pets.  God will sort out the details and make our joy complete when we reach our heavenly home.

Tough Questions

At Frontline we have been exploring a series of youth offered questions.  Last week we had a guest speaker walk through an overview of the end times, good stuff.  I would like to highlight a few below that were of particular interest to the youth.  These are the sorts of questions that as a parent your child is asking.  At the bottom of each section I give some ideas of how a parent might want to discuss each issue with their child.

1. Is it okay that I don’t read the Bible?
This question is a little more complicated than it may seem at first blush.  As a pastor at a Bible church, the obvious answer is no.  However, as I began to think more and more on this subject I sort of struck a middle ground.  Is it sin not to read the Bible, no.  However, a consistent time with God in his Word will keep you from falling into sin.  The real point that needs to be understood is why is it best to read the Bible.  The answer to that is found in 2 Tim 3:16 and Psalm 119:11.  The Bible is God’s word to his beloved creation.  If we say that we love the Lord it is ideal that we know and understand what he has already communicated to us.
How do you encourage your children to read the Bible?  Do you shame them into spending time with the Lord?  Do you encourage them with the benefits of personal time in the Word?  Do your children know about your personal devotions? This is a good discussion to have.
Here is a blog post that I thought was interesting from a youth pastor on this topic.

2. Can I listen to rock music even if the lyrics are clean, even though my parents say no?
A pretty quick answer to this is no.  The issue at hand is obedience to parents not whether or not a certain type of music is clean.  The command is simple in Exodus 20:12 to honor your father and mother.  Also in Ephesians 6:1-3 the command is repeated to children to obey their parents in all things.
As an aside, parents, you need to be consistent in your rules and be willing to discuss them with your children.  An open dialog is important to a healthy parent child relationship.  If you have a rule that your child despises you should discuss it with them in a calm setting to let them know your reasons for the rule.  One website that may be helpful in this area of parenting along with many other is  Take a look when you have a few minutes.

3. If God is good why is there evil in the world?
Tough question that is philosophical in nature.  I find two compelling arguments about this subject, one is the Augustinian Theodicy and the other is Alvin Plantinga’s Free Will Defense.
The Augustinian Theodicy is an explaining away of evil as the result of man’s sin.  This seems logical enough though it leads to some issues with why man was ever given the opportunity to sin in the first place if evil is the consequence.  It also has been further developed by Thomas Aquinas to describe evil as a lack of good (compare: darkness is just an absence of light).
Alvin Plantinga has developed his freewill defense is summarized thus:

A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures, but He can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so. As it turned out, sadly enough, some of the free creatures God created went wrong in the exercise of their freedom; this is the source of moral evil. The fact that free creatures sometimes go wrong, however, counts neither against God’s omnipotence nor against His goodness; for He could have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by removing the possibility of moral good.

As a parent you probably have wrestled with this exact issue before.  Your teens are struggling with it for the first time.  They need to be able to discuss issues like this with you, so that it saves them from googling the answer which will likely take them to a variety of atheist websites.  Give them a foundation for knowledge and a platform for discussion.  Don’t force them to agree with you, but allow them to struggle with you helping them along the way.

4. What are the differences between Christians, Jehovah Witnesses, and Mormons?
There are many different views in these areas.  I referred to this website for a lot of information.  It’s good to have at least a basic handle on other religions that your child is bumping into, so be proactive in talking with your teen about friends who may be a part of another religion.  This is a great conversation starter, I get to discuss Islam with my son often as one of his friends at school is a Muslim.