When you don’t get married by 25

When I was a teenager working my way toward adulthood and through the tumultuous high points and low points of adolescence, a lifelong partner was always somewhere back in my mind. At first it was way in the back because at 16 or 17 it didn’t feel like I had anything to worry about. I don’t think I ever questioned at this point IF it would happen. I didn’t know exactly how it worked but it seemed like something magical happened in your mid 20s.

It was like the board game Life, you landed on the marriage block on the game board and you added a pink peg to your car. You somehow found each other out of all the other pegs in the sea. This was followed by a solid career, a family and many pay days along the way. It was just bound to happen. She would be beautiful and you’d be well, -you- but it would be okay because somehow she would look past all that and be there for you.

At 18 I had my first serious relationship (aka one that lasted for more than a couple months). Trust me when I say she was out of my league. At first things were just fun but as our relationship developed into something more long-term than I had ever experienced before, I couldn’t help but think about what the future may hold.

At 19 I bought a set of ‘True Love Waits’ rings, one for her and one for me. If she was going to be the one I would marry I wanted to do things right and I wanted to show my commitment to her and God.

Two years later I experienced my first break-up. My heart felt a new kind of pain and I struggled with how to move forward. Would there still be more pegs in the sea for me?

It was around the age of 21 that I dated again. It felt like such a relief. I was going to be ‘ok’, I was going to get married ‘in time’ and ‘on par’, with my peers. I wasn’t going to miss this drastic next step in life.

When that relationship ended at age 23, I felt a panic set in. I was so close to the ‘deadline’ and if I didn’t find someone fast I was going to miss it. Panic like this only leads to relationships that are anything but healthy and without going into much detail, that’s exactly what happened.

I’m 28 now. I live at home still, haven’t found my pink peg, still unsettled in my career and don’t have any little pegs in the back of my car.

But I don’t feel panic.

Sure, there are lots of times I would love to have a ‘special friend’ to share life with and many more times when I want to move out. Do you know how awkward it is to have your Dad tell you make your bed when you’re 28?

I still wear my True Love Waits ring but I’ve gotten a lot better at the waiting part.

Waiting seems to be God’s specialty even more so then fulfilling the American Dream.

One of my favorite phrases in the Bible is ‘who knows maybe God will’ (See Jonah 3:9, Joel 2:14) The particular context of these has to do with God relenting but what the powerful phrase does is insert possibility and hope. It’s one answer there is to an unknown future. Another answer is this:

“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:8)

This verse comes from Jeremiah 29 shortly before the verse 11 phrase we are more familiar with and more likely to use to reassure us of our American Dream. In this particular moment the Israelites found themselves in a position they didn’t necessarily enjoy, yet God’s answer to them was to find peace in it and prosper. He had them there a reason.

I believe that God wants single people who have fallen into the uncomfortable not-always-fun caste of unmarried and almost 30 to do exactly the same thing He wants those who are married to do.

Seek Him.

‘Who knows maybe God will’ can go either way according to His sovereignty but seeking first the kingdom of God and all its righteousness is certain (see Matthew 6:33). So if you’re single and almost 30 then join me in waiting, join me in seeking because with or without a life partner, we never have to face anything alone.

“And surely I am with you always until the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

On saying things I don’t mean

I’ve always struggled with memory. One of the more frequently forgotten items on my list is my wallet. This has put me in some peculiar situations like going on a first date and trying to figure out how to explain to the girl that she was going to have to pay and assuring her that I would get the next one.

There wasn’t a next one.

Aside from first dates, wallets are very important when you plan to go on a plane. Confirming your identity is the first step in the TSA’s obstacle course. So when I got to the airport and felt nothing in my back pocket my heart sank. With only 2 hours left until departure there was no time left to try and do a quick 360.

Panic, a kind I haven’t felt in years set in.

When I was a teenager, I used to have these terrible anxiety attacks. Some of them had their roots in social anxiety while others seemed to hit me out of nowhere. For the most part, in the last 10 years or so I have learned to manage these panic attacks that once left me cowering in the corner. I am now generally a pretty easy going person.

Until you put me on a plane.

The previous night had been wrought with trouble sleeping, butterflies in my stomach and anxious thoughts about being high in the sky. These worries now gave way to the even bigger fear that I had completely ruined my chances at going on the trip at all. As I made my way into the airport terminal, with a blood pressure sure to exceed any normal range limits, I said a few things I didn’t mean.

First, I said things to myself about myself- “You’re a this” “You’re a that”

Second, I said things to others, blaming them for my situation-“Why didn’t you remind me”

Third, I said sarcastic things that we’re poor testament to my faith- “I need a drink”

No matter how much I grow in my relationship with Christ, there is always some kind of breaking point where my humanity steps in and only fragments of my faith are apparent on the outside. Emotional thinking takes the place of listening to the Spirit.

Even the greatest of Christians could testify to ‘the breaking point’.

Peter, for example, watched as his resolve fizzled out before the threat of persecution (Matthew 22).

I was far from persecution and I am ever certain I have a lot further to go in my journey with Him but the beauty of His love is that He takes whatever little we give Him and multiplies it. It’s a theme Jesus used throughout His ministry.

He took a small snack and fed thousands (Matthew 14), He took two mites (small coins) and saw the possibilities (Mark 12).

You see sometimes I say things I don’t mean and sometimes I don’t know what to say at all.

I was with a friend some time ago who was asking me tough questions about Christianity. As I trudged my way through puzzling philosophical inquires I felt like I was making things worse. On the way home in the midst of explaining to God what I was trying to say I paused and said two of the most powerful (and probably dangerous) words I could think of:

“I’m willing”.

It was my own “Lord I do believe, help my unbelief” moment (Mark 9:24)

It’s so important to recognize our breaking points and our room for growth. It’s even more important to recognize our utter dependence on Him and to be willing to let Him use us flaws and all. When we do this we get to watch the work He can do with the so very little we have to offer.

After some convincing, I was eventually let on the plane. I would like to say I will never forget to bring my wallet with me to the airport again (I’m pretty sure I’ve learned my lesson after experiencing a full-service TSA pat down) but more importantly I can say no matter what mistakes I make, things I forget, words I come up with that I don’t mean or words I cannot think to say at all, I know this-

“He is who started a good work in you is faithful to complete it.” (Philippians 1:6)

PR

PR (or public relations) is how companies and organizations portray their brand to the public. It’s not publicizing what happens in the office on a Friday afternoon, it’s not giving away their strategic plans or trade secrets. PR is simply what a company wants you to see, the message they want you to hear. The goal can be to gain even more followers or to simply become known.

On a personal level, it’s kind of like how we use Facebook. We put up our best pictures, word everything perfectly and carefully edit it all before we hit ‘post’. Why do we scrutinize everything so carefully? Because PR matters and we know it. This past Sunday and every year around the same time for the last 49 years, companies have spent enormous amounts of money to increase or improve their PR. This year’s Superbowl commercials cost $150,000 per second making a 30 second spot cost approximately 4.5 million dollars! Fortunately for us Facebook is free!

Some companies like Loctite Glue spent their entire annual budget for advertising on one Superbowl commercial. It worked and I don’t mean in sales numbers. In fact, in a news interview, the creator of the advertisement said that was never the point, at least not in the short term. In thirty seconds, Loctite Glue has gone from a little known local product to being talked about nationwide. Speaking of Nationwide, they’re also being talked about for their PR attempt. They chose to use their 30 seconds to talk about the dangers of preventable accidents, a factual commercial that awkwardly disrupted the celebratory atmosphere. Nationwide didn’t say anything untrue, just uncomfortable.

Jesus had a similar PR commercial during his ministry.

“Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them” (John 6:53-56)

Woah, Jesus. Someone needs to get him a new PR rep stat. He can’t possibly know what he’s doing.
Messages like this didn’t make Jesus popular as much as they did controversial. If His immediate goal was to generate more followers, it would appear that He failed.
“66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.”

But Jesus wasn’t looking for just anyone to follow him. He was looking for full-time committed disciples willing to lay down their lives for Him. Unlike major companies, PR for the church was never meant to be a front message. The goal is to reach people with life transforming truth, not just whatever they want to hear.

The twelve never did leave him (sans Judas). Instead, they went forward with what was to be the largest and most successful public relations campaign to date because it still continues to this day. The book of Acts tells us that they added thousands to the church daily and yes they even stuck with the idea of eating the flesh and blood of Jesus. Somewhere between Jesus’ initial campaign and the book of Acts, the disciples fell in love with what Jesus had to offer. It wasn’t always what they wanted to hear and it didn’t always fit with the mood but it was life transforming truth and the ambassador of truth –the Holy Spirit- would come upon them to help them share this truth with others.

For the church, the defining factor between good PR and bad PR is the Holy Spirit.

He is always the defining factor. We can trust that He will be with us to get His message across in the best way possible, again the true message not a front message.

We often idolize the disciples with a special divineness that makes what they did seem out of reach. To be sure the disciples were heroes of the faith and will be rewarded in a distinct way for all they did (Matthew 19:28). At the same time, we must always remember that these were what John MacArthur calls ‘Twelve Ordinary Men’. In other words, the same spirit is available to us and anyone who chooses to be dependent on Him is indeed a wise person.

Youth workers need to especially take note. Teenagers have a special knack for detecting phony while at the same time having a passion to live for something meaningful. This combination is best fed by a youth ministry that always speaks truth even when it’s hard to hear and gives students opportunities to live out these truths in in a way that are just as authentic. This kind of ministry isn’t led by a Youth Pastor but by the Holy Spirit at the helm.

“I am the vine and you are the branches, apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Content

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12 So we’ve all got this thing down, right? Well, I know I don’t. Right now I am on the hunt for employment. I had a couple of interviews last week but so far nothing has panned out. When I got the phone call from the first interview letting me know that they ‘went with someone who has more experience’ my heart sank. The uncertainty of my next steps is anxiety provoking to say the least. Prior to the interview, on my drive down I spent time praying and practicing answers in my head. Interview questions are often abstract and unrealistic. They’re like the ‘scenario’ questions found in text books meant to prepare you for real life situations but fail to accurately replicate the little nuances and intricacies of actuality. I prayed as genuinely as I could, attempting to align myself with God’s will for my life instead of my fear of being financially strapped during this time. I prayed for an answer and I got one. ‘No’ is an answer and according to Paul the response of a mature Christian is to be content. Some ‘No’s’ are easier than others. A ‘No’ from a job interview is difficult but a ‘No’ when asking God to heal cancer can be emotionally devastating. Being content is a lot to ask in times like these but Paul also gives us a clue in this sentence as to how it’s possible. Paul says that he has ‘learned the secret’. In the days of early Christianity secret gospels peaked the curiosity of ancient peoples. Adherents of Gnosticism claimed to have secret knowledge and teachings that were not widely available to the public. Texts such as ‘The Secret gospel of Mark’ or ‘The Gospel of Judas’ appeared as an attempt to substantiate these claims. So when Paul says ‘I have learned the secret’ he captures his audience’s attention because they know exactly what cultural phenomenon he is referencing. Unlike the Gnostics, Paul doesn’t hide is secret. He clearly lays it out for us in verse 13. “I can do all things through Jesus who gives me strength”. This is one of the most inspirational verses of all times. It’s associated with having the ability to achieve success or overcome obstacles and attain victory. It’s the kind of verse that marathon runners or mountain climbers might make it their motto. While it’s true that the strength of Jesus can help us to do all of those things, in this particular context Paul means something different.

Paul is telling us that we can be content no matter what situation we find ourselves in, whether it good times or bad because Christ will give us the strength.

It takes a certain amount of spiritual maturity to master this virtue and with each answered prayer whether yes or no, we get an opportunity to practice. When I got a ‘no’ answer to that job, however difficult it was to swallow, I chose to believe that God doesn’t want me in that particular place, at that particular time for His particular reasons. It’s not easy. Not at all. But the point of Philippians 4:13 wasn’t meant as an inspirational verse to climb mountains, run marathons or close business deals. It doesn’t mean the answer will always be ‘yes.’ Success here is defined as being in a close relationship with God, where you trust fully His answers to your prayers. In its context, it’s about God giving us the strength to be content (to not have any complaints) whether he gives us a yes or a no.

Thrive

A week later and I am still recovering from dancing, screaming, competing and celebrating. I welcomed 2015 the same way I welcomed 2013 and 2014-off the beaten path at a rural north east Michigan youth camp with some 50 energetic teenagers. I nearly lost my voice twice, lost my temper at least once in an intense game of Kemps and no doubt lost hours of sleep. It was loud, intense and a blast.

In the midst of all the activity students had opportunities to connect with God and moments to be honest with leaders about the burdens they had carried on their shoulders in the last year. The theme this year was ‘Thrive’ and it was based in a simple concept: Knowing who you are (Identity) will result in doing the right things (Obedience) which will produce right results (Power).

Sadly, through the conversations I had with these kids, I learned many of them are not thriving at all.

In fact, only a few were being obedient in their walk with Christ. I won’t share any specific names or conversations and I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not flawlessly obedient myself, but I think it’s important for youth workers to understand what the stories of these teens are telling us.

This isn’t about placing blame on any youth program, worker or family. I simply want to talk about how we can move forward. The words of these teens point to a deep sense of personal insecurity that if allowed to continue could be detrimental to the Great Commission set forth by Jesus to ‘go and make disciples.’ After all, the blind cannot lead the blind- nor can they heal them.

In Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9 Jesus’ disciples are presented with a boy who is demon possessed. They try and try but are unable to help the boy. This must have been especially humbling to the disciples who we are told in Luke’s gospel were just commissioned by Jesus to go and heal the sick and cast out demons (Luke 9:1-2)

Finally Jesus comes along and without difficulty drives the demon out of the boy. Puzzled, the disciples ask Jesus why they were unable to help the boy. Jesus provides some insights as to why the disciples were unsuccessful.

  1. The disciples have very little faith (apparently less than the size of a mustard seed Matthew 17:20-21).
  2. The disciples were not being dependent on God (lack of prayer Mark 9:28-29).

Their faith was dead and without works.

They had yet to fully understand their identity (and subsequent potential) in Christ.

A previous conversation shows us the lack of understanding among them-

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.” Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? (Matthew 16:5-11)

How could the disciples miss the point of what Jesus was talking about? How could they not fully understand Him, who He was or what He meant after having witnessed His miracles or the transfiguration?

How can our teenagers not fully understand who they are in Christ after going to church every Wednesday and Sunday, memorizing Bible Verses and knowing every answer to every Sunday school question there is?

Paul in the book of Philippians chapter 4 writes “Only let us live up to what we have already attained”.

As a youth worker, I have the responsibility to act as a mandated reported. This means that if I know of or suspect the abuse of a minor, I am obligated to report it to the appropriate people. I can’t know this information and do nothing about it. If I did there would be some serious consequences.

But that’s exactly what so many of our teenagers are doing (knowing all of the information but not acting on it) and there are some considerable consequences.

James reminds us that faith without works is dead (James 2). This particular passage has been the center focus of the works vs grace debate for centuries. The faith of our teenagers (or lack thereof) is showing us just how one can be saved by grace but dead without works. It’s showing us how if branches don’t remain a part of the vine they die and never thrive. It’s the same problem the disciples encountered when they approached a big problem (demon possessed boy) with little faith (smaller than a mustard seed) and no works (lack of prayer).

There is a certain amount of practicing what you know that helps to develop a sense of identity. What our students have is book knowledge. This kind of knowledge is factual not practical. This kind of knowledge is a foundation not the structure itself. Instead of confidently knowing who they are through what they do, our teenagers know who they are because of what they’ve been told.

And most of the time, they’re told their not good enough.

Zero tolerance policies without a second chance, a Christianity that only promotes rule after rule and photo-shopped impossible to obtain images on the cover of magazines are just some of the sources that send a ‘not good enough’ message to our teenagers and I believe it is causing a culture of personal insecurity and jealousy. Many of them looked at each other and wanted what the other had. Most of them thought that others were better than them, smarter than them, less sinful than them.

The disciples provide another example for us of what is happening. This time in the book of Luke Just after the same incident where the disciples couldn’t heal the demon possessed boy Jesus is a little harsher with the disciples. “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “How long shall I stay with you and put up with you?” (Luke 9:41)

In Luke’s account of the story just after Jesus calls out the disciples on their lack of belief we see this-

“An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.” (Luke 9:46)

The identity crisis of our teenagers not only encompasses a lack of practicing what they already know, it also includes a lack of understanding how vital of a role they play and how they uniquely play it. No, not how great they are but yes how important they are.

Paul tells us that the body of Christ is made up of many parts. (1 Corinthians 12) The eyes aren’t any more important than the ears, the arms are no more important than the legs. The teenager who can exceed in sports is no more important than the one with a physical disability, despite our culture’s tendency to glorify one over the other. Each has a role in the body of Christ, each has a calling in the great commission.

So at the end of the day (or at least at the end of camp) how can youth workers make a difference?

  1. Accountability. In the same Philippians passage, Paul tells us “Take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you” (Philippians 3:17). When we take the small group of youth we led discussion with at camp and extend it into monthly meetings, students will have the opportunity to view us in day to day settings and you can be sure they’ll be taking note. At the same time, we will have the opportunity to view them and take note of the progress they’re making in their camp commitments. It’s easy to make a commitment at camp, it’s another thing to thrive when school starts again. Teenagers who have gone to church all their life and know all about Jesus need to be called out on how they are acting as a result because faith without works is dead and a dead faith can’t heal anyone.
  2. Value. When we make it a point to hang out with teenagers outside of the camp setting, they’ll know that we value their presence, ideas and spiritual walk. When the world around them and even sometimes the church is telling them ‘not good enough’ we can be there to see the progress they’re making and say ‘getting better’. I truly believe the more we value our teenagers the more they will value themselves which will in turn create more confident, less jealous teenagers.

Can you imagine? With a little valuing and a little accountability the great commission could be greater than ever as it is steered at the helm by confident, obedient and powerful young people doing miracles in the name of Jesus. That’s thriving.

(APP)ropriate Limits

Over the weekend our church youth group had an overnighter (not to be confused with an all nighter as we did eventually sleep) and for the first time working with teenagers I felt out of the loop Ok let’s be honest, I felt like I was getting old. The kid (another term you use for teenagers when you start getting older) told me about an app called Wattpad. Wattpad is a social platform for writing and sharing stories. I was surprised I had never heard of it before because up until this point I thought I had kept up fairly well with social media.

I’ve had a Facebook for several years, blog inconsistently and even insta (I’m told its no longer necessary to add ‘gram’ to the end.)  Yet, as the conversation continued  I realized how out of touch I really was. Apps I’ve heard of but didn’t see the need for such as Vine, SnapChat and Twitter were part of the everyday world of a modern day teenager. Not only is YouTube popular but certain broadcasters reign supreme. It’s a far cry from my flip phone days and its why anyone working with youth who has spent more than two years into their adulthood needs to realize they’re detached from youth culture.

Recently a ‘new’ (I use the term loosely understanding that its probably been known in the teenage world long before it was known in the adult world) app called After School has been making news headlines. Its another story about teenagers abusing their phones based on the belief that their activity is anonymous, untraceable and impossible to bring about unwanted consequences. One news organization reported that the app ‘featured porn and bullying’.

But here’s the thing.

By itself, the app doesn’t feature anything. The only thing the platform offers is an opportunity for its users to use their free will to create information.

It’s the same situation Adam and Eve were presented with in the garden. Through six days of creation, God created a platform. Initially this platform was unscathed and didn’t know violence or pain. Until they realized they had another option and selfishness crept into their hearts influenced by that serpent, they had every intention of doing good and being in a perfect relationship with their creator.

After the fall, Adam and Eve were hoping to remain anonymous  too.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9

We know that they were eventually exposed and so are a lot of teenagers who think they can hide. The exposure has given law enforcement a new question-what kind of consequences these teenagers should face? As it stands teenagers who share nude photos can be charge with possession and/or distribution of child pornography. This kind of charge carries a hefty sentence of years and years in state prison.

Apple’s reaction to the news that teenagers were abusing the app was to temporarily remove it from the store only to re-introduce it again with a 17+ rating and small purchase fee. Not outright removing the app angered many parents and professionals.

But here’s the thing.

I think apple did the right thing. In fact, I think they did what parents and professionals should be doing. As I said earlier, Apple created a platform, its users decided what to create within it.  It’s users are responsible. We as adults need to remind adolescent’s of the choices they have to make, clearly explain the consequences (because the teenage brain has a hard time seeing ahead) and when necessary set a limit for them. In this case, Apple set the limits but frankly its our job to do that. Apple doesn’t know your child better than you do.

Ever since the fall of man, there is an innate curiosity or sinfulness that shows itself especially during the formative years as it is coupled with the teenage brain that is rewarded for thrill seeking behavior and convinced ‘nothing bad can happen to me’. I remember learning how to use a dictionary in school and my first thought was to start looking up every bad word I could think of. It seems as if  there is something dark to discover the mind will thirst to find it.

In the same way guns dont kill people, phone apps also have the potential be used for good or bad. We dont give guns to the mentally impaired so why do we freely and without limits give powerful, society impacting, life altering digital devices to teenagers whose brains have yet to fully develop? Unless they have early onset maturity which usually stems from excellent parenting (something so rare these days) a phone with internet access might just be too much for a developing teenager to safely handle without limits.

And its not Apple’s job or the government’s job to determine those limits. It’s ours and we can’t afford to be out of touch with technology or our kids.

Abandoned

I’ve been watching videos on YouTube of urban explorers who were willing to take the risk of not just trespassing into long forgotten buildings and houses but also posting their experiences on YouTube. Many of the videos are shot just miles from my house in Detroit, which is considered by many to be an urban explorer’s Disneyland. Some of the videos are pretty eerie, especially this time of year when spooky is on the menu. Abandoned hospitals, houses and military facilities stand (just barely sometimes) as markers of our history, mistakes and failures. As you can guess, none of the buildings were closed and left to ruins for positive reasons.

Throughout all the videos there is at least one thing in common; a phenomenon commonly referred to as ‘natural decay’. This not only includes the eventual demise of the structure as it rots due to lack of maintenance but it also includes nature re-claiming its former territory. Where men once tore down trees and leveled the land to make room for their mansions, nature has returned to reclaim its right to ownership. As Jesus put it “Do not store up treasure on Earth where moth and rust destroy… (See Matthew 6:19).

This process of natural decay usually begins slowly but it’s interesting that the only reason it is initiated in the first place is because nobody fought to maintain the property any longer. Although I can’t do a whole lot of urban exploration myself because it would not be physically safe for me, I have experienced some level natural building decay in an old church building our youth group played a role in restoring on a summer mission trip. It didn’t take too long for things to fall apart, water damage, plaster walls crumbling and a tree growing in the attic.

It’s amazing what damage can happen to buildings that sit around, do nothing, and are never used.

The same thing can happen to a faith that is never utilized. It can become cold, dark, vandalized by intruders and a victim to natural decay with little recognition of what it once was. James warns us about this process when he says ‘Faith without works is dead’ (James 2:17).

I love how Paul in his various letters to the churches in the New Testament describes faith as an activity like walking.

‘Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.’ Romans 6:4

‘Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worth of the calling with which you have been called. (Ephesians 4:1)

‘For you were formerly in darkness, but now you are Light of the Lord; walk as children of Light.’ (Ephesians 5:8).

It’s not natural for any of us to maintain a relationship with Jesus. It goes against our original sinful nature that will slowly start to take over again the second we stop walking. Jesus showed us how to keep walking when He quoted scripture in response to Satan’s attempt to vandalize His heart in the desert (See Matthew 4) . Yet, more than just an ability to memorize and quote scriptures, this pointed to the active relationship Jesus had with the Father.

I can’t imagine Jesus going a day without talking to his Father, but I know have when things have gotten ‘too busy.’ But eventually through a natural decay, ‘too busy’ lends itself to full-on abandonment. It’s a scary place to be and urban exploration videos serve as a warning to never stop walking with Jesus, never let our sinful nature try to re-claim our hearts and minds. Instead, we should remember the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 2:12-13 and be active participants in the process of sanctification with a healthy fear and a reminder of what could happen if we don’t.

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his purpose.”