Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Psalm 73: Why Do the Mean Girls Seem to Have it all??

Read Psalm 73

Man, I love the Psalms! I love the brutal honesty the psalmists use when crying out to God. They put into words many things that I have thought myself but would never think about saying to God. The Psalms show us that there is never a time when we can't cry out to God. Whether, we're joyful, devastated, worried, lonely, or broken, we can always go to our Father and pour out our hearts to Him. There will be ups and downs in every Christian's life, but we can give all of our disappointments, bitterness, and frustrations over to Him. In Psalm 73, the psalmist explores one of the age-old questions that Christians have asked for generations. Why do the wicked prosper? I love getting to see the struggle this man goes through as he wrestles with this difficult question, and the sweet conclusion he comes to at the end of the psalm.

The psalm starts out with a truth that the psalmist (a man named Asaph) knows to be true, "Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart" (1). However, though he knows this is true, he looks around him and seems to see the exact opposite going on. Instead of the Israelites reigning, he sees their enemies prospering. The pagans are growing rich, experiencing no pain, encountering no trouble, and growing fat (a sign that they have more than enough) (3-5). These people blatantly mock God and His people, and they arrogantly live their lives in rebellion and wickedness. What is Asaph's response to this? He's jealous and deeply troubled (3, 16). He begins to think that he has followed God in vain (13). He has been obedient, but what reward has it gotten him? His reward for righteousness has been constant suffering (14)!

Have you ever felt this way before? I remember feeling this way as a teenager. My family followed God. My dad was a full-time pastor and had devoted his life to the ministry. However, we were constantly broke, rode around in a beat-up station wagon, and I suffered greatly from my health. I would look around at my peers and notice that the meanest girls were the most popular. They were so arrogant and rude to those around them, but this only made people want to be just like them! These same girls were given new convertibles from their wealthy parents, were naturally athletic and talented, and never seemed to have a care in the world. Why should they live the good life while I suffered? Why do they get to shop at Coach while I'm shopping at Ross? Is poverty and suffering the reward for a life devoted to Christ and His kingdom? Yes, I could certainly empathize with Asaph at that time...

What has happened since then? Have I finally been rewarded for my devotion to Christ, especially now that I work at a church full-time? If you see the car I drive or the tiny apartment that I live in, you would probably not think so. Though I haven't been rewarded with wealth, great health, or an easy stress-free life, I've been rewarded in countless other ways. I've been rewarded with salvation, hope, peace, joy, fulfillment, unconditional love, and so many other things.

The turning point in this psalm comes in verse 17, when Asaph says, "Until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end." Asaph was troubled and distressed until He came into the presence of his God. When you are reminded of God's presence in your life, everything changes. Asaph began to see things from a kingdom perspective and remembered that this world was not his home. Though the wicked seem to prosper in this world, the rewards of the righteous are built up in heaven. The riches of the wicked are perishable, but the riches earned in the kingdom are imperishable. The non-believers' seemingly perfect lives here on earth will end in eternal suffering in the lake of fire, while our lives will be spent reigning with Christ in heaven. When you are reminded of this, you can no longer be jealous of the wicked. Instead, you feel sorry for them, and hopefully have compassion on these people who are headed for destruction.

Though Asaph admits he was embittered about the prosperity of the wicked, his heart changes as his perspective becomes aligned with God's. You see, God never promised His people that they would live a life free of suffering or pain. In fact, He guarantees that we will face hardship, trouble, and persecution. Being a Christian doesn't make us immune from disappointment and trials. The difference between us and non-Christians is that we don't have to face that suffering alone. We have hope and the assurance that God has never left us or forsaken us. I absolutely love verses 23-26 which state:

"Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

What amazing and powerful words. In the midst of his suffering and hardship, Asaph is comforted and strengthened by the assurance of God's presence and the fact that he is resting in God's hand. He realizes that all of the things the wicked were receiving on earth (which he had been jealous of) were meaningless. He realizes that there is nothing on this earth that He could ever want. All he wants is God. No matter what happens in his life, God is enough for him. Asaph closes in verse 28 by saying, "But as for me, the nearness of God is my good." We are not going to have easy lives of leisure on this earth. However, the difference between our lives and the wicked is that God is near to us, and He is all we could ever need.

Do you look around you and see the wicked people prospering? The meanest girls in school have the cutest boyfriends, the coolest cars, the nicest clothes. Maybe they cheat on their schoolwork and get better grades than you, or they are given the spot on student council that you deserve. Remember, that while they may be living it up in this life, they will eventually get judged. You just worry about your own life, remaining faithfully devoted to God in the midst of suffering and hardship. Keep your eyes focused on the kingdom, where you are storing up eternal rewards, and cling to your Father in heaven, who loves you desperately and is always near to you. Your faith in Him gives you something that no non-believer could ever experience elsewhere...a loving relationship with the King of the Universe.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

She's Just Being Miley...

So, I have a confession to make... I like Miley Cyrus. Yes, it's true. I mean, not in the crazy fan sense, but in the sense that I'll turn up the radio when her songs come on. Last week, when I was reading the Houston Chronicle, I was secretly delighted that she was on the cover of Parade, in an article titled, "Nobody's Teen Queen." In the article, Miley talks about her faith and says some things worth discussing, so here goes...

First, we read that Miley was baptized in a Southern Baptist Church 5 years ago before moving to L.A. The reason for this was "a kind of spiritual insurance policy against big-city life." I find this really interesting, because Southern Baptists don't generally baptize people for such a reason. There's nothing magical about getting baptized that is going to guard you from temptation. To think that is to hold to a superstitious definition of baptism that is absent from Scripture.

Ironically, one of the main things that will help keep you from falling into the temptations of the world is the thing that Miley doesn't do in L.A...go to church. Having fellowship with other like-minded Christians and sitting under the biblical teaching of a church leader are vital if you are going to keep your faith. The Christian faith wasn't meant to be lived by oneself, but in community with other believers (just read the book of Acts!). Miley doesn't go to church because she feels like "it's a show," because "there are cameras outside." She states, "I don't necessarily define my faith by going to church every Sunday," and claims that she is "very spiritual in my own way." I understand that the paparazzi may make your church experience different, and you shouldn't try to make a show about attending church. However, I think that if Miley was at church every Sunday, the paparazzi would eventually leave her alone. They aren't going to run articles about how she goes to church forever. They're looking for scandal! Hebrews 10:25 states, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Deciding not to attend church so you can be "spiritual" on your own is a very dangerous move, and I don't know anyone who has done so successfully. We need the body of Christ in order to grow as believers, and we have no one to hold us accountable if we're not part of a church body.

Props to Miley, however, for not being ashamed to name the name of Jesus. Celebrities will often talk about God or being a Christian, but they seldom mention the person of Jesus. Miley says it loud and clear, "I am a Christian. Jesus is who saved me. He's what keeps me full and whole." Unfortunately, she qualifies this statement by saying, "but everyone is entitled to what they believe and what keeps them full." I agree that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs...we have freedom of religion in this country. However, I don't believe that there is anything else out there that can make you full.

When asked by the reporter if being a Christian is hard in Hollywood, she complains that people are always watching her to see if she'll mess up. The truth is, people are watching everyone who calls themselves a Christian. This isn't a bad thing, because we have the opportunity to point people to Christ by the way we live our lives. We are to be salt and light in a dark world (Matt 5:13). Bearing the name of Christ and living our lives to glorify Him should be a joy, not a burden! I realize that Miley has a lot more people watching her that any of us do, but what an opportunity she has to show the world what a genuine Christian looks like!

Miley then talks about the criticism she has gotten from people about the way she dresses. Her response to them is, "Yeah, I'm going to hell because I'm wearing a pair of really short white shorts. Suddenly I'm a slut. That's so old-school." I'm not sure what she means by calling this criticism "old-school," but what about her prior comment? In reality, she is exactly right. People go to hell for rejecting Jesus, not for wearing short shorts. However, our faith is more than just a "get-out-of-hell-free" card. It's about glorifying God and bringing others to Him. Does provocative dress glorify God and point people to Him? Just because we can do something doesn't mean that we should. Paul says it best in Romans 6:1-2 when he says, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?"

I'm glad Miley isn't ashamed to call Jesus her savior, rather than taking the popular route in Hollywood that "all religions are equal." However, I think she is making a dangerous mistake in not joining a church. Being accountable to other believers would help her make certain decisions, such as how to dress, etc. Let's pray that Miley uses her influence to bring glory to God, rather than make people wonder why she calls herself a Christian...

Catch the full article by Kevin Sussums at:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lessons from Narnia: Part 3

"'I was wondering--I mean--could there be some mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb, you know. It was we who asked to come here. Scrubb said we were to call to--to Somebody--it was a name I wouldn't know--and perhaps the Somebody would let us in. And we did, and then we found the door open.' (Jill speaking)

'You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,' said the Lion" (C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, page 23).

I thank God continually for my salvation. I thank Him that I had believing parents who shared the gospel with me at a young age, that I was able to understand the gospel so early, and that I believed that it was true. Why do I thank God for my salvation rather than patting myself on the back for having faith in Jesus at such a young age? I do this because I am fully aware that my salvation was His work and that I was only saved by His grace. But wasn't I the one that put my faith in Jesus and believed in Him? Of course, God doesn't have the faith in Himself for me...I have to have faith. However, I am only able to have faith by His grace. Ephesians 2:8 says, "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."

Does this sound confusing? It's hard to wrap our minds around the mystery of salvation. Why do some believe and some doubt? Which part of salvation is us, and which part is God? I like the way Lewis portrays God's calling in The Silver Chair. In the above excerpt, Jill tells Aslan that she and Scrubb just happened to get to Narnia because they asked to get there, and they found the door open. Aslan tells Jill that she wouldn't have called to him unless he had been calling to her first. The Holy Spirit illuminates the gospel in the heart of the hearer, drawing that person to God. One cannot become saved without the Lord working in that person's heart first.

If you are a Christian, I'm sure you are fully aware that your salvation is by His grace, not your own effort. Ephesians 1:4-6 says, "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." Before the world had even been created, He chose those who would be adopted into His family. As Jesus said in John 15:16, "You did not choose Me but I chose you." Where does your part come in? You respond to God's call by believing in Him, putting your faith in Him, and accepting His free gift of salvation.

Perhaps you feel the same way Jill did...that being brought into God's family was some kind of mistake. This is very far from the truth! If you are a Christian, God intentionally chose you a long time ago, and there was no accident or mistake about it. Thank Him today for choosing you, calling you to Himself, and saving you by His grace!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lessons from Narnia: Part 2

Well, picking up from yesterday's post, here is the next excerpt from C.S. Lewis' The Silver Chair that I'd like to discuss. The scene is still the same...Aslan and Jill are talking at the stream, and Aslan has invited Jill to come and take a drink if she is thirsty.

"'Will you promise not to--do anything to me if I do come?' said Jill.
'I make no promise,' said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
'Do you eat girls?' she said.
'I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,' said the Lion. It didn't say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

'I daren't come and drink,' said Jill.
'Then you will die of thirst,' said the Lion.
'Oh dear!' said Jill, coming another step nearer. 'I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.'
'There is no other stream,' said the Lion.

It never occurred to Jill to disbelieve the Lion--no one who had seen his stern face could do that--and her mind suddenly made itself up. It was the worst thing she had ever had to do, but she went forward to the stream, knelt down, and began scooping up water in her hand. It was the coldest, most refreshing water she had ever tasted. You didn't need to drink much of it, for it quenched your thirst at once. Before she tasted it she had been intending to make a dash away from the Lion the moment she had finished. Now, she realized that this would be on the whole the most dangerous thing of all. She got up and stood there with her lips still wet from drinking" (The Silver Chair, pages 21-22).

Lewis paints such a beautiful picture of the thirsty human soul and the Lord Jesus' fulfillment of that thirst in this story. When Aslan asks Jill to come and quench her thirst in the stream, she is afraid. She doesn't know what will happen to her if she does drink from the stream, but she knows she won't remain unaffected or untouched. Aslan refuses to promise that nothing will happen to her. The fear of the unknown is almost too much for Jill. This is how it is with many unbelievers. They are empty and long for some type of fulfillment, but they are reluctant to go the Lord for satisfaction. They would rather go somewhere else for fulfillment, preferably somewhere safe and within their control. Salvation through Jesus is free, but following Him requires surrendering your entire life! You can't encounter Jesus and expect your life to stay the same.

At one point, Jill decides that she will not drink from the stream, and Aslan replies, "then you will die of thirst" (21). The consequence for not coming to Jesus and responding to His invitation for salvation is death (Romans 6:23).

When Jill tells Aslan she will just go somewhere else for a drink, he responds by saying, "there is no other stream" (21). We can try to look elsewhere for satisfaction and fulfillment, but we won't find it! As the apostle Peter said when Jesus asked the disciples if they were leaving Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68).

When Jill finally does drink from the stream, her thirst is immediately quenched. The water is unlike anything she has ever had to drink, and she is compelled to stay there rather than running away (as she had originally planned to do). She realizes that leaving Aslan would be dangerous. Once you have tasted what it is like to be filled with Jesus and have experienced the satisfaction only He can bring, you won't want to go anywhere else! What a beautiful picture of Jesus' Living Water, which will quench the thirsty and dying soul and fill it up to the brim until that soul can truly say, "My cup overflows" (Psalm 23:5).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lessons from Narnia: Part 1

Lee and I have recently been reading through The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis together. Strangely enough, I never read these books as a child, but they are such a blessing to read as an adult! The way Lewis weaves rich theological principles into his stories is nothing short of brilliant. Over the next couple of days, I want to share with you some excerpts from Lewis' The Silver Chair, which really spoke to me in a powerful way.

In this story, two children named Jill Pole and Eustace Scrubb enter the fantastical world of Narnia where they go on the adventure of a lifetime. Throughout the series, we see the lion Aslan reappear again and again. He is the king of Narnia and is the character Lewis uses to symbolize Jesus Christ. In the following excerpt, Jill encounters Aslan for the first time at a stream.

"And the thirst became so bad that she almost felt she would not mind being eaten by the lion if only she could be sure of getting a mouthful of water first.

'If you're thirsty, you may drink.'

They were the first words she had heard since Scrubb had spoken to her on the edge of the cliff. For a second she stared here and there, wondering who had spoken. Then the voice said again, 'If you are thirsty, come and drink,' and of course she remembered what Scrubb had said about animals talking in that other world, and realized that it was the lion speaking. Anyway, she had seen its lips move this time, and the voice was not like a man's. It was deeper, wilder, and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice. It did not make her feel any less frightened than she had been before, but it made her frightened in rather a different way.

'Are you not thirsty?' said the Lion.
'I'm dying of thirst,' said Jill.
'Then drink,' said the Lion.
'May I--could I--would you mind going away while I do?' said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.

The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.' (The Silver Chair, p. 20)."

I love this passage! The following paragraphs are equally as incredible, but we'll discuss those next time.

In this passage, we see a description of Aslan, who is a symbol of Christ. Lewis chooses a lion to portray Jesus, which is a great choice in my opinion. The first emotion that Jill encounters when she sees Aslan is fear. She is afraid he is going to devour her! However, once she hears him speak, we read that she is still frightened, but in a different way. We have to get past the horrible illustrations that we have in our mind of Jesus that have been in picture Bibles and paintings. The Jesus they portray can't possibly depict His divinity. Jesus is not the wimpy and weak-looking guy artists often portray Him as. He is fully God...a perfect, majestic, powerful, and mighty King! The initial reaction we get when encountering this supernatural and divine being is fear...fear at the sheer power and wonder of such a mighty God. Lewis describes Aslan's voice as unlike any man's, because it was "deeper, wilder, and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice" (20). Clearly we don't know what Jesus really sounds like, but I love this description by Lewis. Our Lord is mighty, great, and yes, fearsome. Would you really want to worship anyone else?

Jill is dying of thirst and is quite desperate at this point. Aslan invites her to come and take a drink if she is thirsty. Jill is hesitant to do this and certainly doesn't jump at the invitation. She asks if the Lion can go away while she drinks. After she asks this, she realizes that this was a ridiculous question to ask and compares it to asking a mountain to move.

What is Lewis getting at by this story? We are like Jill, many of us dying of thirst, longing for someone to satisfy and fill us. Jesus is standing there with open arms, inviting us to drink from Him, for He is the Living Water. When Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman at the well, He told her about this Living Water: "Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life'" (John 4:13-14). Many times we'll try to look to other places to fill our thirst...guys, material things, entertainment...but doing so never brings lasting satisfaction. Jill quickly realized her foolishness when she asked Aslan to move out of the way. Our Lord is unshakable and immovable, and you can't get around Him! He is everywhere all of the time (omnipresent).

Are you thirsty right now? What is keeping you from running into the open arms of Jesus and drinking His Living Water to your heart's content? Stop trying to seek other ways to satisfy you, because it's useless to do so. Only He can satisfy your thirst and "pour water on the thirsty land" (Isaiah 44:3).

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God!

Read Psalm 19:1-2, Romans 1:20

I don't think I'd ever want to move back to Arizona. It's dry, hot, and full of scorpions, rattlesnakes, tarantulas, and coyotes (all of which I have personally seen in my parents' neighborhood). Despite all of this, the one thing I truly love about Arizona is something Houston is definitely missing...a magnificent view. Tucson is surrounded by mountains, so everywhere you go, you have a beautiful mountain view. The way the clouds fall around the mountains is truly breathtaking, and I can't see them without thinking of God's greatness. How can you see the beauty of nature and not believe in God? I have gotten this feeling many times...while looking at the Grand Canyon, taking in the spectacular beaches of St. Lucia, sailing along the coast of Costa Rica, looking at the clouds from an airplane... The beauty of nature loudly proclaims that there is a God, and He is magnificent! His creativity, power, beauty, and vastness have no comparison.

In Psalm 19, David starts out by saying, "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is telling of the work of His hands." God's creation is a testament that He is real. How people can gaze at a beautiful display of nature and still claim to be atheists is beyond me! His name is written all over nature, glorifying Him and pointing to the reality of His presence. Can man create mountains, form oceans, produce clouds and rain, grow flowers, and build canyons? When seeing this display of greatness, we're reminded of how small we are. There is no possible way man could create nature, and science's only explanation is that it just came about by itself. For people who claim to be so intelligent, their explanation of creation is seriously lacking in credibility! The only logical explanation is that nature was created by someone bigger than us.

The second verse states, "Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge." The order of the universe also testifies to God's glory. Our days and nights are ordered in a perfect way. Each day is consistent, giving us just enough hours in the day to get our work done, and just enough hours at night to keep us rested. Who came up with such a perfect allotment of day and night? Who else but God? Our universe is perfectly ordered, with each planet on its own orbit. None of them crash into one another or get off course. Why? God has them all in His hand! Our earth is the perfect distance from the sun. If we were any closer, we would burn up, and if we were any farther we would freeze. Who placed the earth at the exact and perfect distance to support human life? Only God! The vastness of the universe and the perfect order of the stars and planets shout out that there must be a higher being to control them! Without God, there would be chaos in creation; because of Him we have perfect order.

Romans 1:20 states, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." This is a powerful verse teaching us that God has clearly revealed Himself in creation. His power and divinity are evident through nature. Because every human being has seen God's creation, they have no excuse not to believe in Him! In seminary, we call this principle "general revelation." General revelation is God's revelation of Himself through nature.

So, if seeing nature is enough to point someone to belief in God, is this enough to save them? You probably already know the answer. The only way to salvation is through Jesus, and you can't believe in Him unless you hear the gospel. Romans 10:14 says, "How will they believe in whom they have not heard?" While God reveals Himself to everyone on earth through His creation (general revelation), man cannot be saved without "special revelation." This includes God speaking through supernatural means, through His Word. His creation testifies that He is real, but His Word explains the cross and testifies that salvation comes through faith in Jesus.

The next time you are in a beautiful place in God's creation, soak it all in! You can't see the beauty of nature without praising Him for His greatness and majesty! Praise God that we serve a King who is displayed all around us, and who's fingerprints are all over creation~

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Power of Friendships...for Better or for Worse

Read 1 Corinthians 15:33: "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'"
Proverbs 27:17, "Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another."

Are you a good judge of character? Usually this type of discernment comes from experience, and since you girls have not been on this earth very long, you are at a disadvantage. Have you ever become friends with a girl whom you thought was one way, and then turned out to be completely different than you thought? I know that happened to me when I was a teenager! I had a close friend in high school who I discovered years later was a completely different person than I thought she was. She led a double life and had been doing things in high school that I had been completely unaware of. Like it or not, the friends you choose have a major influence on you as a teenager. They will without a doubt sway you one way or another and impact you for better or for worse. Let's look at what Scripture says about the power of friendships.

1 Corinthians 15:33 warns us not to be misled. It reminds us that "Bad company corrupts good character." Oftentimes we are misled (as I was in high school) by someone's true character. Everyone told me that my friend in high school wasn't who I thought she was, but I didn't believe them. Instead, I was mislead about my friend's real character. We can also be mislead by thinking that hanging out with "bad company" won't really affect us. We think that there is no real harm in spending time with these kids, even if they are a bad influence. We think that we are strong enough in our faith and integrity that we won't compromise our morals just because we are hanging out with the wrong crowd. It is so important to remember that no one is immune from any kind of temptation to sin! We must continually be on our guard against any kind of sin, because we are all prone to fall. As soon as you start to think that you are above a certain temptation and don't need to bother guarding yourself from it, you will fall! Don't be deceived into thinking that the bad company you keep won't affect you, because it certainly will.

While friends can negatively affect you and bring you down, they can also have a positive effect on you and build you up. Proverbs 27:17 says, "iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." The right friends have the ability to help you grow as a believer. Their qualities and strengths can challenge you and "sharpen" you to become more mature believers. I have some wonderful friends that have challenged me by their example. Because I see them display certain qualities, it makes me want to do that as well! Lee really sharpens me by His heart for other people. The way he connects with people he encounters and shows them the love of Christ is such a challenge to me. My friend Meagan sharpens me with her compassion and mercy, my friend Laura sharpens my with her generosity and love, Tiffani challenges me with her faith and passion, Leanna sharpens me with her joy and optimism, and the list goes on and on! Having friends that challenge you in your faith and help you grow into more mature believers is such a blessing. Do you have friends like this? If not, I'd encourage you to seek out friendships with other strong believers. If there aren't any other believers at your school, then the youth group is a great place to bond with other Christians your age. We desperately need other believers to help us along in our faith...we can't do it alone!

Friendships are such an important element in the teenage years. They have the power to bring you down in your faith and lead you away from the Lord. They also have the power to strengthen and encourage you in your faith and draw you closer to God. Which way do you see your friends taking you? After reading this, you may feel convicted to distance yourself from friends that are "bad company." I know that doing this isn't easy, but it is a lot less painful than falling away from the Lord. If you don't have any Christian friends that build you up in the faith, I challenge you to ask God to bring one to you. Get involved in the youth group or other Christian groups at school in order to find some other believing friends. Christian friends are a necessity, not just a luxury. Also pray that the Lord will give you good discernment when you choose your friends, and that you won't be misled~