Letter to a Troubled Teen

by The Mad Preacher

TroubledTeenToday’s young people are faced with many challenges. Many feel overwhelmed with life and the heartache is so often brings.

“Each year in the U.S. thousands of teenagers commit suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-to-14-year.”[1]

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

This is a response to an email from a troubled teen that I received several years ago while I was chaplain at J103 Radio here in Chattanooga, TN. There are many teens and young adults who are facing the same issues. My prayer is that it may help you.

Hello, Amber.

I’m Rod Davis, the chaplain at J103. I wanted to email you and let you know that we are praying for you. I also wanted to hopefully encourage you.

I’m happy to hear that you are doing better. I know personally what it’s like to feel so despondent, so hopeless that I wanted to end your life. Once, many years ago, I sit on the side of my bed with a gun trying to get up the nerve to use it. What made it worse was that I was a Christian. So, I know very well how despair and feelings of hopelessness and the pain that goes along with these feelings can make one act crazy sometimes. But you know, Amber, I’ve learned some valuable lessons since that experience that have really helped me to use the hurt and pain, that was meant to destroy me, to make me stronger. Here’s what I’ve learned.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…” (Genesis 50:20) What Joseph said to his brothers who betrayed him and had sold him into slavery.

One of the best revelations that I’ve ever had is that God is good… all the time! He doesn’t have a bad hair day. God doesn’t get up on the wrong side of the bed. He’s never ill-tempered or difficult. The Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) We can depend on God, Amber, to remain consistent in his love, faithfulness and dedication to us.

God is good and he remains good all the time! Isn’t that great to know? You can trust God…all the time, because he’s good all the time? Because of this fact we know that whatever he allows to come into our lives is ultimately for our good, even though it may not seem like it at the time. We have God’s promise in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

The original Greek word in this verse translated “know” means to become acquainted with through a process of encounters, to come to a settled persuasion. So, Paul was saying “I know from personal experience and have come to the settled persuasion that God is actively involved in working everything that happens to me, be it good or bad, together for my personal benefit.” That just blows me away!

God has brought you a long way, Amber. You’ve been through a lot in your short life. I understand what it’s to think that life is unfair. But remember this; God has no “Plan B”. Our God is Sovereign LORD over all our circumstances. Amber, this simply means that God is in complete control of your life. God never drops the ball. He doesn’t have to back up and punt. Unlike you and me, God needs no “Plan B” to fall back on.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1Peter 5:6-7)

 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint [I will be determined] and I know I will not be put to shame. (Isaiah 50:7)

I’ve faced many uncertainties over the years, Amber, and have had my share of terrible personal pain. Yet when the pressure is on; I’ve learned that this is the time to press on! So what I try to do, Amber, is to pray to the LORD and cast all my worry on him. Then much like the Roman soldiers of old who would drive the bottom of their shields into the soil to protect them and help them hold their ground in battle; I drive my shield of faith firmly into the ground of God’s Word. And by so doing, I become even more determined to trust the mighty hand of God to provide in a time of need. In other words, I set our face like flint by making a decision that God is indeed good and he’s good all the time. He is the Sovereign LORD who loves me and wants to help me in my time of need. On top if it all, Amber, God is my friend and I trust my friends.

How am I able to do this? It’s simple; I don’t claim to be some spiritual Superman. There’s nothing that makes me more special than the next person. Indeed, I’m no more special than you, Amber. But when I make the decision to stand against the attacks of the Enemy, that’s when the Sovereign LORD steps in and helped me. God helps by giving me the faith I need to trust him and the strength I need to continue in that trust.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The key phrase here is “lean not on your own understanding.” Don’t try to figure out why trouble comes your way. That line of reasoning will soon drive you nuts. Just remember that there are many times when God calls us to trust him even when we don’t have all the answers. In fact, God didn’t promise us answers. He promised us grace.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it [“the thorn in my flesh” that tormented Paul] away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2Corinthians 12:8-9)

Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26:4)

Amber, you have a very tender heart toward God and he honors those who seek him as you do. So keep seeking him. Stay involved in a good youth group at church. Talk to your youth pastor and pastor about your feelings. Don’t face difficulty alone, okay? I hope that this has been encouraging to you.

God bless you, Amber!

Your friend,

Chaplain Rod

[1] Teen Suicide | American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

“Keys” by The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

Key & keyhole with lightTherefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2 NIV)

May I ask you a question? Is it hard to please God without faith? If you said “Yes”, you’re answer would be wrong. The Bible says that it’s impossible.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. (Hebrews 11:1-2)

What are you hoping for and how do you go about receiving that which you desire? We have access into salvation and the things of God purely by faith. Then the obvious question is, “What is faith?”

First, let’s look at what faith is not:

Faith is not just hoping that everything works out okay. How many times have you or someone you know said something like, “I hope it works out.”  or “I hope everything is going to be okay.” When I hear someone say, “I hope so.” I want to ask them, “What is the basis of your hope?” Hope without something or someone as its foundation is worthless.

 “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” — King David (Psalm 39:7)

David learned from experience that God was his source of hope. He found that faith is not a hit and miss thing. Faith is not a form of Russian Roulette— sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Are there still some among you who hold that “only believing” is enough? Believing in one God? Well, remember that the demons believe this too—so strongly that they tremble in terror! (James 2:19 TLB)

Faith is not an intellectual assent. Just believing the Bible to be true is not faith. Accepting the historical Jesus is not the same as placing your faith in him. Faith is not just simply believing that God exist. I believe that George Washington was the first president of the USA, but I do not trust him for my salvation. As James said even demons believe in the existence God but how many demons are going to Heaven?

“Well, there’s ah, ah…. And then there’s ah, ah…” There are no demons who will find a home in the Father’s House. So, just believing in the existence of God does not constitute the kind of faith we are addressing now. It’s imperative for us to understand this truth. There are millions of people throughout time who believed in the existence of sort of God.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”— Jesus (Matthew 7:21-23)

The word for “Faith” used here in Romans 5:2, in the original Greek that means the conviction of the truth with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith. The word “stand” used “…we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Comes from the Greek that means to be of a steadfast mind of quality, to be one who does not hesitate, who does not waiver.

Faith is a transfer of trust. As I type this post I’m sitting in my office chair. I love my chair and I have faith in its ability to hold me up. It’s one thing to say that I have faith in that chair’s ability to hold me up, but it’s another thing to put my faith to test by setting in my office chair. This kind of faith is the key needed to gain access into the things of God. It’s the only key

On my key ring I have several keys. One is to my car. One is to my mailbox and another is to the door of my apartment. I can try to open my apartment’s door with my car key, but it doesn’t work. I can try the key to my mailbox, but that doesn’t work either. The only key that allows access to what is behind the door in my home is the door key. No other key will do.

Much like the key to my home, genuine faith is the only key to opening the door to God’s home, to open the way to the things that God has to offer us. It’s the key to the free salvation that he offers through Christ. Jesus said “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved….” (John 10:9a ESV) He also said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 ESV) But without the right key you will never open that door that leads to salvation.

See a video of this message on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmFVL8CBeVg

Look for new posts from The Mad Preacher on Saturdays. 

Religious Exclusivity and Revelation Evasion

This comes from my book entitled “The Wrong Skirt” Page 21. You can purchase it anywhere books are sold or go the http://www.gea-books.com/books/wrong_skirt.htm and order it. This follows the account of my showdown with Cujo the rat and explains that merely religious people, like rats, prefer the darkness to light. — The Mad Preacher

Wrong Skirt  flat “They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” – Jesus (Matthew 15:9)

The merely religious person believes that their particular group, movement, church, or denomination has the market cornered on truth. They consider every other professing Christian an outsider who is devoid of the real truth. For those who follow a bogus religion the major bulk of their theological base rests solely within the framework of what their church or denomination teaches.

This attitude is manifested in phrases like, “That’s not Baptist!”That’s not Church of God!” “That’s not Methodist!” or “That’s not Lutheran, Catholic, and so forth.” Incredibly, they may even question some of the practices of their very own beloved organization and even criticize one another, but they would never question the teaching of their church or denomination.

According to Webster the word religion comes from an old French word meaning to bind or to hold back. Religious rats resist theological expansion. They do not want to push the spiritual envelope! They’re in their comfort zone and do not want their doctrinal boundaries challenged. They suffer from a terminal case of Revelations Evasion. God help anyone who presses beyond their limited revelation and questions their traditional teachings!

The sign posted on the front lawn of their church, labeling their particular denomination or movement affiliation, are really Stop Signs that call a halt to proceeding beyond their particular belief system and practices. If what someone has to teach or preach is not sanctioned by Cleveland TN, Nashville, Ft. Worth, Andersonville, Tulsa, Rome, or some other Mecca of Christendom, just forget it! They don’t want to hear it! After all when you’ve conquered that final spiritual frontier of Biblical revelation and have ascended to the ultimate plateau of truth, why go any further? Besides, what can some trouble making outsider teach one of such an elevated state of illumination anyway?

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?…  you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” (Matthew 15:3 &13)