What Young People Want

The modern church often uses an “attractional” approach to bring people into the church. They look at the current culture and try to tailor the church to it. For instance, if young people like to join causes and do service work (i.e., feeding the hungry, joining social causes that protest human trafficking, and so on), they’ll incorporate these things into church programs.

These are good causes. But I think we’re missing what young people are really looking for.

I believe young people are looking for authentic Christianity — that is, the spiritual side of it. They want something deep, something that will challenge them to get close to God.

They want to see real Christians who live and behave just as Jesus did when He walked the earth. They are looking for people who are different than the materialistic world, who look to a God who interacts with them on a moment-to-moment basis, who leads and grows them in their spiritual walk, who gives them the sense of purpose they dream about.

Sadly, they often don’t find that in today’s churches. We’re very busy doing things that the world says will attract them.

Take me. Yeah, I’m older now, but I’m part of the generation that said “good-bye” to church as usual back in the 70’s. It was boring with a capital “B.” I went to Sunday school as a child and teen. I left it all behind the moment I graduated from high school, and sought to find spiritual significance from drugs, Buddhism and New Age. My Christian upbringing had no spiritual aspect. I was to believe in Jesus, and there was no mention at all of the Holy Spirit. I actually thought He was an ethereal, ghostly being that hovered in the upper right corner of the ceiling of the church. Honest.

Before I was stricken with MS, I knew something was missing from my life, and I thought it was probably God. But I was married to an atheist and I dropped the subject after I saw the look on his face when I mentioned going back to church.

MS changed that. I was in such dire straits that I insisted he take me (the MS made it so I couldn’t drive) to a small church my friend from MS Support Group kept inviting us to, and either stay for the service or go home and pick me up again afterwards. He decided to stay for the service.

Well, Jesus met both Jeff and me at that little church. First one pastor and then another came who believed Jesus is much more than Someone you say a few words to and then you’re saved. They taught me that being a Christian means you’re completely changed from the way you were before you believed and totally different than the world around you, completely surrendering your very being to Him, loving people with God’s love and eager to tell people the wonderful things He has done. And they believed the Holy Spirit was much more than a ghost in the corner of the ceiling of a church.

I found out Jesus Christ wanted to reconcile rebellious me to God, so that God could be my absolutely perfect Father. That means an intimate relationship with a Father who loves me with a love no human being possesses. I tell you, young people want to be pure and to be loved by a perfect Father!

I found out God and Jesus wanted to actually communicate with me continually as I walk about in this world. Every day, every hour, every moment.

I tell you, young people want to have a God who is ever-present and the center of their lives. That’s what they’re looking for. Ask them.

I found out the Holy Spirit is the very power and presence of God, and He wanted to take all the rebellion against God out of my heart, give me power not to rebel any more, and literally live inside of me. I tell you, young people are tired of rebelling, they want to be free of sin because it only causes them troubles upon troubles. They like the idea of having God living inside of them, and even flowing out of them like rushing rivers of living water to others.

And I found out God wanted to pour out HIS ACTUAL LOVE into my heart so I could love Him with His very love. I tell you, young people are tired of fickle human love. They want to be able to love perfectly with God’s perfect love.

I tell you, THAT’S spirituality. That’s what young people are looking for. The real deal. Not playing church. Not unchanged lives. Not programs. Not even causes, as good as they are. If you tell them God can get them out of the hole they’ve dug with their sin and give them life as He has it, with the Holy Spirit living in and possessing and leading and empowering them, they’ll jump at it! They want to see that the Bible is true, by looking at the lives of those in whom God has worked all those wonderful things.

I tell you, the church needs to look at its own spirituality. Rather than trying to figure out what the culture wants, we must let young people know what God wants AND be the living proof it’s true. I’m here to tell you, I live what I’ve told you!

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Testimony About My Book

I’m sharing this, for the Lord’s glory:

Good afternoon, Sue:

You may or may not remember me, but I met you and Jeff at . . . Conference several years ago. I was (am) the delegate for the . . . church. Also, you met my wife J. at the WMI Retreat at . . . as well.

I read the book that you wrote, and (that you) sent . . . to J. when we were in . . . for the winter. I read it on the plane and was wonderfully blessed by it. It is awesome to see that God works in “normal” people like you and I. I always thought that only the great patriarchs, like Moses and Jacob, received such blessings. Or, in the NT, men such as Peter and Paul.

I believe that the Holy Spirit is available to all who diligently seek him. This is certainly the prayer that I now breathe as I fly 39K’ over the continental US. I feel now more than ever that we are all called to be filled with Him. I believe that we need to move beyond our own comfort zones and live entirely for Christ.

You see, I too felt that the Lord called me and provided me with a certain vision; however, I now believe that it was more or less my own interpretation of what I wanted the Lord to use me for (obviously, within my own comfort level). I now lay all, I mean everything, my company, my wife, my home, everything, for the cause of Christ. I am scared to death, but relieved because I know now that He is my strength. I appreciated it when you said, “worship Him”, since I wake up nightly singing praises to Jesus. I do not know why, but I sleep very little at night and look forward to my little praise services. I lay in bed and sing “wrap me in your arms”, and many other contemporary choruses in prayer and worship.

Please pray for J. and I. There is a definite ministry with the book.

Thank you,

Button-Pushers

Hebrews 10:24 and let us consider how  to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,  25 not forsaking our own  assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Dear blog followers, the day is drawing near. I believe the Lord is coming soon and very soon. So I thank God for the button-pushers in the church.

I think I hear you saying, “Huh?” Let me explain.

When I was a child, my father loved to tease my mother. He knew that if he did or said certain things, she’d strongly react. It was kind of like a push-button toy. You push a button and off it goes. Mom had buttons, and he knew where they were and how to push them. When he pushed them, off she’d go. Woo, hoo! She was stimulated, indeed! He was a bodacious button-pusher.

My brother and I didn’t understand what Dad was doing at first. Then we noticed that he was trying to get our attention. When he was sure he had it, he winked. Then he pushed one of Mom’s buttons and we watched. Woo, hoo! He winked again, and loved on Mom. We thought it was fun, but somehow, I don’t think Mom appreciated it the way we did.

Dear blog followers, I believe we all have buttons. That includes me. The Holy Spirit wants to show them to us.

How does He do it? Through the button-pushers Jesus has placed in His church. I love them! I think I hear another “Huh?” Unlike Dad, they may have no idea they have pushed a button on you or me.

Why does He do it?  Keep reading.

God wants to ripen the fruit of the Spirit in you and me by pruning us to give us more light (see John 15). Pruning is not a comfortable process but if you know anything about gardening, it encourages growth and stimulates fruit-production.

Well, wouldn’t you know it? The Lord’s pruner is a push-button model! It’s the perfect pruning tool (of course — He’s perfect). He uses the button-pushers of the church to make us more like Jesus. Without His button-pushers, you and I would never know we had buttons.

I’m uncomfortable when my buttons are pushed. I like comfort! I don’t want to run into any of Your button-pushers at church, Lord! I know. I’ll just shy away from church and stay home. It’s very comfortable there.

Ahhh, home . . .  just Jeff and me. Peace! The love of God poured out in our hearts to overflowing! Unity! Just one problem. If I stay there, I remain blissfully oblivious to my buttons. I defeat the pruning plan God purposely prepared for me.

So, I praise God for the button-pusher I just encountered. It was a VERY uncomfortable experience. But through that person, Jesus showed me I have some buttons. Yippee! He’s going to make me more like Him.

My journal entry for today says,  “You have shown me some buttons, Lord. Sanding them down won’t do — it’s too slow a process. Break them off. I agree with You. I see my buttons!” He’ll take them. I’ve agreed with Him.

But His work in me is not completed. When He breaks off the buttons He just showed me, I can be assured He’ll send along another one of His button-pushers to show me some others that need to be broken off. And in the process, I’ll become even more like my Beloved. Isn’t He wonderful?

Don’t stop going to church because you’ve run into one of God’s button-pushers. Let Him use that person to prune you. He’ll make you more like Jesus so everyone who meets you will take note that you have been with Him. They’ll know He’s real. They might just bow their knee to Him. It’s God’s perfect plan!

From Death to Life Market Rollout

You can pre-order From Death to Life right now, and it is expected to ship from most suppliers by 4/3/12:

amazon.com, googlebooks, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, christianbook.com

Also, bookdepository.com, langtoninfo.com (UK), and overstock.com

May it bless you and glorify the Father and the Son!