Jim Warner, the author of Cold Case Christianity, and a cold case detective said, “The more I thought I knew, the less teachable I became.  My educational self-confidence led to a form of self-reliance in many aspects of my life, including the foundational world view I constructed along the way.”  He was an argumentative atheist determined to pick apart anyone who would claim Christianity as the Way to Christ and the way to live as a world view.  He has now realized the truth after investigating the facts, as he would do in any case he is trying to solve.  He is now one of the top apologetics speakers because of his methods and transformational story.  He argues that when students enter college, most have not done the hard work of knowing and growing in their faith enough to defend it when they come against the opposition often found in college.  Jim came to this conclusion after his conversion and after having become a youth pastor.  He realized that the majority of his students had abandoned their faith before graduating college.  Why?  Because they had not been taught how to voice their doubts and to find the answers to those doubts.  Check out his books and his website at http://coldcasechristianity.com/.

As we prepare to see another group of our seniors graduate from high school, and even though they have spent most of their middle and high school years in our youth group, my question to them is, “Are you ready?”  I also have to ask myself, “Have I helped them get ready for what’s ahead?”  It’s no secret that the current education system in our country has had an impact on the attack on Christianity and the attempt to separate a person’s faith from his educational environment.  That only intensifies in college.  But that is not the sole reason that our students are abandoning their faith.  Please hear me as I say this with compassion and love.  The reason I believe students are abandoning their faith is because the family has abandoned its responsibility in raising them to have a world view that points them to faith in God in the first place.  If parents put as much time and energy into teaching their children about God as they put into encouraging them to excel in athletics, academics and the arts, then they would be better prepared in my opinion.  Their schedules don’t allow them time to learn about God’s word, or how to pray, or how to serve and love.  They are so stressed out that they can’t find peace in the One who created them to live a full life.  If you’re a parent who has encouraged your children in their faith journeys, then don’t allow this to convict you.  But my regret as a parent is that I didn’t do more to help Brad in his faith journey when I had the chance.

Here is my hope and prayer for Abby Brown, Madison Cummings, Allie Downey, Emily Fischels, Emilee Higgs and Cody Jervis.  Keep learning and seeking to know the God who created you and gifted you with a unique life journey that you and only you can accomplish.  Read His word and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you grow in understanding and knowledge.  Use whatever methods it may take to help you learn, whether it be audio, video, small groups, or whatever.  Surround yourself with people who are seeking after God and will help you do the same.  Remember the saying, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”  You are going to do what those around you do and that can lead to either positive or negative changes in your life.  Find time to be quiet and still with God and to pray.  Be thankful for all He has given you and be honest when you have left His way.  Repent and know that He forgives and is seeking to transform you into His image.  Be confident in knowing that He will provide you all that you need if you seek Him and love Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.  Be generous to those around you, not just materially but with your time and attention.  Be a good listener and remember that most folks don’t want advice as much as they want to be heard.  Don’t seek to find a career that will only make you more money, but seek one that you know you will enjoy doing, one that will bless your family and those with whom you work.  If you find that college isn’t right for you, that’s okay too, because we need skilled crafts people and those who can work in the trades.  Your worth is not in your degree or how much you make.  Your value can’t be measured by standards that elevate or diminish a person’s worth.  Our faith tells us that everyone has worth because we are all made in the image of God, period.  So know that you are loved and that you have the gift to reflect God’s love, creativity, character, and justice to the world around you!  Thank you for all the memories and blessings you have given me personally.  I have the best job I’ve ever had because of people like you who have shown me how I wish I had followed God at your age.  You know everything you need to know to succeed in life.  Just allow God to continue to be the author of your story.

Congratulations Abby, Madison, Allie, Emily, Emilee and Cody!  We are so proud of you and love you!

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.  Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship him.  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  Don’t just pretend to love others.  Really love them.  Hate what is wrong.  Hold tightly to what is good.  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.  Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.  Rejoice in our confident hope.  Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.  When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.  Always be eager to practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you.  Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.  Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with each other.  Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people.  And don’t think you know it all!”  Romans 12:1-2, 9-16

In Christ’s Love,

Rob     Romans 12