5 Elements that are toxic to the faith of our teenagers

Dark, ominous clouds rumble overhead. Tornado sirens go off in the distance. Torrential rain starts to beat down on the skylights overhead. I look at the radar, and red, everything is red!

There has been a storm brewing in my soul. Every time I start to relax and have a little peace, the raging winds of the storm blow it away. Like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, I look out the window into the funnel and see the wicked witch riding her bike, laughing and saying, “I’ll get you my little pretty!”

Raising teenagers is tough—tougher than I ever imagined. The hearts of my teenage girls are fragile and tender. And teaching them to ‘guard their hearts’ in the world they live in seems like an impossible task.

The more I talk with my kids lately, the more I realize that between school, all their devices, texting, and social media, they are living in a toxic world.


There are 5 elements that are toxic to the faith of our teenagers.

1. Toxic Friends

My daughter showed me a group text she got from a friend while I was cooking dinner the other night.

The text read, “If you are going to the football game on Friday, say, ‘I            .”

I can’t write the three words it said. I can’t even allude to what it said. It was so vile and repulsive.

I was shocked and had to see it for myself to believe it. I started to feel sick as I leaned over. Yep, that is exactly what it said. The room started to spin so I sat down.

I couldn’t believe I had just read those three words on my fourteen year old daughter’s phone! I was filled with disgust and then I got really angry.

“Mom, I hear that kind of thing everyday at school, it’s no big deal. I didn’t say it back.” 

2. Toxic Culture

“The world’s gone mad,” I was thinking several weeks ago.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know what I am talking about. The depressing state of the world is undeniable. This summer has been especially dire. Every time you turned around something awful had happened somewhere in the world. 

If it was a good day, meaning no mass killings, then it’s the Trump/Hillary debacle plastered all over the news and social media. Could we have picked 2 worse candidates? A rich playboy who has a god complex and a criminal. What is wrong with us?!

It’s no doubt that the world needs a good laugh right now. So I guess it’s good for something!

So, what is wrong with us? The answer is simple—we’re human. Left to our own devices we will thoroughly screw things up pretty much every time. And the more that God is removed from our culture, the more depraved our society will become.

3. Social Media Addiction 

As if drugs, alcoholism, and sexual addictions aren’t enough to worry about with our kids, we have to add social media addiction to the list.

The use of social media and smart phone technology is a great experiment. Our kids have so many devices at their fingertips everyday. They are the first generation to have contact with their friends and the world available 24/7.

How will they fare in 20, 30, or 50 years from now? We just don’t know.

My parents divorced when I was 9 in 1981. Divorce in America was at an all time high in the early 80’s. I call it “The Great Experiment”. Couples were divorcing left and right and no one knew the long term consequences it would have on kids.

Well, 20 and 30 years later we discovered that divorce is devastating to children. Ripple effects can be seen long into their adult life.

What will we say about social media when our kids are grown? How is technology going to affect their future?

4. Liberal Schools

God has been kicked out of the public schools. This is not news. We’ve been watching it happen slowly for decades. Each year our schools are becoming a less safe and nurturing environment for our kids.

The number of school shootings that have occurred since Columbine in 1999 is alarming. And through the years we have been hearing about violence in schools more and more.

Kids are lost. Kids are mean. And kids don’t know how to cope with life. Put a weapon in the hands of a young lost soul and tragedy will surely follow.

Schools are becoming more and more liberal. And the educational system is becoming increasingly hostile toward Christianity.

Are our kids being taught the truth in school? Are our kids being taught the truth in colleges and universities?

5. Lukewarm Churches

The church is the vessel of hope to this wretched world.

However, instead of infecting the world with the love of Christ, are we letting the world seep into our churches?

When the ship is in the ocean, everything’s fine. When the ocean gets into the ship, you’re in trouble.  -Mark Yoder


So, what hope do we have?

We have hope in Jesus Christ. He is our only hope—but He is a big one! And, we have the joy of knowing that we will spend an eternity in glory with God the Father.

But what about the here and now? Can we find hope in this life? 

Hope is found in our families. Families are the building blocks of the church. And the family unit has power.

Taking back our families can change the world. Take back your days, don’t let every minute be filled with this sport or that activity. Spend time together as a family. Talk about the issues of the day and what scripture has to say about them.

You and I as Christian parents possess the antidote to this toxic world. We can’t save our kids, but the blood of Jesus can!

The messy entanglements of pain in relationships

I often think that I would be the perfect Christian if it weren’t for other people. I am convinced that I would be a better servant of Christ if it were just Him and me. Sounds ridiculous, right? Being a Christian is all about other people!

The second commandment is . . . “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:39-40

My ideal world would give everyone their own island. There, they could do their own thing with God, uninterrupted by relationships. But since this is God’s universe, I guess I’ll have to do things His way.

This is God’s universe, and God does things His way. Now you may have a better way, but you don’t have a universe.  ~ J. Vernon McGee

My quiet times alone with God are focused and worshipful. I love getting cozy on the couch and diving into His Word. We have a good thing going. However, the complicated mess that is my past, my feelings, and my wounds tend to muddle up the picture when other people enter in.

I was recently talking to my husband about how good I felt about my relationship with God and how strong I had become. I feel as though His Word is finally becoming a part of me and my nature is changing. I am pulling away from my sin nature and participating more in the divine nature.

“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:4

I have often wondered, ‘Will I ever learn? Will I ever change?’ However, I know now that I am growing and changing. I feel Him doing a good work in me! Hallelujah!

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

But, the moment I step out of my front door, that all changes. When people are introduced into the equation of my faith, it becomes infinitely more complicated. And if I cannot love, then everything else is meaningless (1 Corinthians 13:1).

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I am not talking about the people that we are to serve. I expect those situations to be challenging. I am talking about relationships with friends, family, and other brothers and sisters in Christ. I am talking about people at church, ministers and musicians, coworkers, neighbors and people at family gatherings.

Relationships have a way of rubbing old wounds and ripping off scabs.

Not to long ago I found myself being envious of somebody. I didn’t feel like I was making a conscious decision to be envious. And I didn’t know how to stop it in that moment. The pain came from a place of woundedness from my past. 

Our faith can easily get entangled in our pain. It can cripple us. Having faith, doing the will of God, and participating in His kingdom require us to first deal with our pain and difficult relationships. Ugh!

If we don’t deal with these messy things, than sin will have a hold over us.

The truth is, without the blood of Christ we fall short . . . . by a lot! We can’t be a good enough person; we can’t keep from sinning;  and we can’t untangle the mess of emotions and pain that lead us to darkness. We need a Savior who brings the light. We need a Savior to wash away our past and give us hope for the future.

The beautiful words from the song, His Eye is on the Sparrow come to mind. Praise God! Your eye is on the sparrow!

Why should I feel discouraged and why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart be lonely and long for heaven and home?
When JESUS IS MY PORTION, a constant Friend is He,
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

I SING BECAUSE I’M HAPPY;
I SING BECAUSE I’M FREE;
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me.

So, the only thing I can do is lay my mess down at the foot of the cross. And sing, because I’m happy. And sing, because I’m FREE!  I have been washed clean by the blood of the lamb!

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.  Isaiah 53:5

It is amazing that our wounds are healed by the wounds of our Savior. And, through our wounds we can bring healing to others as well.

Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.  ~Rick Warren

I am always a work in progress. God is so lovingly patient with me.

The longer we walk with Him, the more He will grow a love for others in us. If we seek Him, the ultimate love, He will fill us. Our cup will overflow and the love will spill out on others.