While I usually write to include every age group, on this occasion, I want to focus on our young ones. By young ones, I mean those who are 30 years old and below. I recently joined the 40 years old club. I was baptized for the remission of my sins when I was 30 years old. I have been blessed to learn the truth of the Gospel and obey it, but also, I know firsthand what is to be a friend of the world in the difficult years between being a teenager and a young adult. It is for that reason that I want to advise our young ones in four areas that, in my opinion, and experience, might be some of the biggest temptations we deal with during that part of our lives.
I was 17 years old when the Titanic movie premiered. You might know the iconic phrase from the movie, “I’m the king of the world”. Leonardo DiCaprio is just less than six years older than me. That is how we feel about it at that age. Nothing can stop us. Our batteries are fully charged, always. We can party all night long, for a week, or more. Don’t you like to party? Not that kind of person? Well, we can stay awake all night watching movies, playing videogames, or just hanging out. But, there is a big problem with this practice. Sleep Deprivation can lead to serious health problems. Go ahead, google about it, I am not lying, and I am a living example of it.
Solomon wrote, “When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet (Proverbs 3:24) after telling his son to “keep sound wisdom and discretion” (Proverbs 3:21).
Do you consider all those health problems to be worth just because you do not want to go to bed earlier? Please meditate on your answer.
Alcohol and Other Drugs:
I was also 17 years old when I smoke a cigarette for the first time. Same age when I drank my first beer. Am I proud of it? Not. I was at that time, coming home with a cigarette in my hand and boasting about the big man I was and being part of the “cool” guys. I am thankful to God I never tried other kinds of drugs. A good friend of mine was diagnosed with pulmonary emphysema and he was not even in his 20s when that happened. Others became addicts or alcoholics and never heard from them again. There was only one time in my entire life that I got drunk, I was 18 years old and I cannot remember the events that happened that night. My friends told me about things I did that I certainly would never do in a sober state of mind. I was close to losing my life that night. I embarrassed my sisters, mother, and grandmother that night. For several weeks I was not able to tolerate the smell of anything that contains a little bit of alcohol. I learned my lesson on never getting drunk again, but I kept drinking “socially” for a couple of years.
Now, as a Christian, it is hard for me to think about how some brethren states that social drinking is acceptable when the Bible clearly teaches is not. Ephesians 5:18, in the Greek, literally translated, is perhaps more accurately rendered “do not be getting drunk.” Don’t just avoid being drunk—avoid the trip there altogether.
If you have not started the habit of drinking, smoking, or doing other drugs, please do not start now. If you already did, you are still on time to take control of that part of your life. Your family and true friends will certainly appreciate that decision from you.
Sex and Pornography:
I was a very innocent boy until I got to meet the four letters word “porn” and the world behind it. I was not looking for it. I did not have any idea about it. I just found it. And, it was not easy to get access to that material at that time. According to an article I found, every second 28,258 users are watching pornography on the internet, and every day 68 million search queries are related to pornography. It also states that 200,000 Americans are classified as “porn addicts”, that 34% of internet users have experienced unwanted exposure to pornographic content, and that one-third of viewers are women.
Do you have a smartphone? In the words of Homer Simpson, “D’oh!”, which meaning according to a popular dictionary is “used to express sudden recognition of a foolish blunder or an ironic turn of events”. According to www.statista.com, smartphone users worldwide surpass three billion this year. How many of those devices are connected to the internet? I do not know the answer but might be almost all of them. How easy is it to find pornography on the internet? I am sure it is easier than finding grandma’s favorite recipes.
This world is decaying faster than Usain Bolt running for the 100m world record. I remember a female friend who defiled her marriage, and let the new man in her life make her 14-year-old son watch porn so “he can learn how to deal with a woman when the opportunity comes”. Many other parents provide to their teenage children contraceptive methods allowing them to practice “safe sex”, instead of encouraging them to see that as a wonderful privilege reserved for the marital life.
Dear friend, there are big problems with porn. It is extremely addictive. It hurts adults, children, families, and society. It creates distorted expectations. Would you watch it if the person on the screen is your father, mother, brother, or sister? Would you watch it if the protagonist in the video is your child? You might answer, “that is gross!” Well, that mindset might be the best way to avoid searching for this kind of material in the first place.
The Bible is clear about sex and lust,
“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).
That person on your screen is not your spouse, or future spouse if you are single. He or she might be the spouse of someone else. His or her greed is pointing to destroy you and your family, putting a smile on Satan’s face as he is gaining someone to join him in the lake of fire.
Please, if you are not married, wait for your helpmeet, and that wait will be worthwhile. Pray about it. God will not disappoint you.
Paul to the churches at Corinth wrote,
“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
ASV translated it as “evil companionships” while ESV does it as “bad company”. I wish I knew that when I was a teenager. It might be that many of the bad things discussed before might not happen if I surrounded myself with good companies. I remember the mother of one of my “friends” murmuring in the neighborhood how a “bad company” I was to her son when she found some cigarettes in his room because he told her that “they weren’t his, but mine.” At that time, I was the guy with internet access in the neighborhood and you can guess what “my friends” asked [begged] me to search, show, and even print for them. I had the power to say no to that, but “they were my friends”.
It is very sad to see our young ones depart from church, and even from home because their friends keep pushing them to do “fun” or “challenging” things. Their friends’ advice is better than their parent’s advice because they “truly” know how to live this life. How many times did you hear or say “Our parents were rear in a different era”? It is true, but, sin and the destruction it leaves behind have been the same in all eras. My heart breaks when I found out that faithful families are suffering because one of their children leave the faith to experience the world. There is a Spanish saying that translated says something like “no one learns from someone else’s head” [if you know the English idiom for this, please share it]. There is no doubt that our young ones need to learn from their experiences, but the blessing of being followers of Christ is that we know how to discern between good and bad things, and we want to encourage them to do what is right, always. We do not want to “ruin” your lives, we are trying to help you not to “ruin” your lives, the present one and the eternal. We want to protect you from committing the mistakes we did because we know those will hurt you in the same way than they hurt us.
Please be wise at the moment of picking your friends (Proverbs 13:20). If they want you to do something that goes against God’s will, then, they are not your friends. They are deceivers. Be sure to spend time with the right people. A true friend is willing to give his life for you (John 15:13). Once again, pray about it. God will show you the way. He is showing you the way even before you were born, because His Word has been with us longer than we have been alive, and that way (John 14:6) wants to be your friend (John 15:14-15). Remember, you cannot be a friend of the world and a friend of God (James 4:4, 1 John 2:15-17).
My dear friend who is reading this THANK YOU for doing so. I have opened my heart to reveal things about my past. Things that some people who know me do not leave behind because they want to play that card someday because I am now a Christian. But God leaves that behind, indeed, and He did that the day I obeyed the Gospel. My sins were red like crimson, now they are white as wool (Isaiah 1:18) because He cleanse me when I was baptized for the remission of my sins (Acts 2:38, 22:16). I am no longer that old person but a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We all have sinned (Romans 3:23) but God is willing to forgive us, and He does that through the precious blood of His son (Acts 20:28, Ephesians 1:7) by our obedience to the Gospel (Mark 16:16).
The world will always tempt us, but God will always provide an escape from those temptations (1 Corinthians 10:13).
God and Satan want you in their teams, but you are the one who picks. Satan offers temporal contentment while God gives eternal joy. Satan keeps throwing banana peels on the floor expecting us to fall, all the time. That is why we must be sober and vigilant (1 Peter 5:8).
To my son, I am thankful to God for the man you are, and the example you set for your mom and me in so many ways. Please always keep yourself diligent in doing God’s will, and keep these words in your heart,
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
God’s wisdom might be foolishness to many in this world, but the gospel is His power unto salvation to everyone who believes and submit to Him (1 Corinthians 1:18-21, 25; Romans 1:16).
To Him be all glory today and always.
 Camille Peri, 10 Things to Hate About Sleep Loss, https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/10-results-sleep-loss.
 Ben Giselbach, What’s So Bad About A Little Alcohol?, https://plainsimplefaith.com/whats-so-bad-about-a-little-alcohol/
 Webroot, Internet Pornography by the Numbers; A Significant Threat to Society, https://www.webroot.com/us/en/resources/tips-articles/internet-pornography-by-the-numbers