LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Acts Magazine (July/August 2006) - a publication of
the General Council Churches of God 7th Day
1827 West 3rd Street
Meridian, ID 83642-1653
Summer vacation is now winding down. Gone are the lazy days
of summer and here are the busy days of classes, homework, and
after-school activities. As millions of teenagers get ready for
another school year, they will be met with an enormous amount of
pressure. Today's teens face pressure from friends, society,
parents, etc. Teens just want to fit in and will frequently
express themselves ambiguously as a result. Parents must remember
that there are many hormonal changes occurring in their teen's
body and the "peeling" of the synapses in their teen's brain.
Because of the strong anti-Christian message in society,
many of today's youth are confused about morals, values, and
What can parents do? Parents must live the Christian life by
practicing spiritual disciplines, such as Bible reading, praying,
fasting, etc. Parents need to transmit Christian morals, values,
and beliefs in their children when they are young.
Because we believe the youth are important, ACTS devotes
this edition to some of the issues that face today's teens.
In terms of the Christian faith, the teenage years are
crucial for youth. Those who give their life to Christ and are
baptized, do so before the age of 18. After age 18, the teen
enters into college, and it is less likely, though certainly
possible, for one to be saved then. Though the thrill of
independence is exasperating for the l8-year-old, many will face
hardships, loneliness, and depression.
Parents and Christians in the church must be interested in
helping the youth build a strong spiritual foundation that will
strengthen their faith in God. Today's youth don't need programs
and meaningless activities; they need discipleship opportunities,
coupled with meaningful activities. Teenagers need to be guided
and given responsibility, taught and listened to, and held
accountable for their actions, and loved. Do not push them away
and exclaim that they can "sow their own seeds." The prophet
Isaiah is quite clear that "Even youths grow tired and weary, and
young men stumble and fall (Isaiah 40:30, NIV).
Because actions do speak louder than words, Christian adults
must model HOW to live a Chiristian life. How can a teenager
learn to have a healthy relationship with God, if he or she
doesn't know what constitutes a healthy relationship?
Furthermore, we are held accountable to God for training our
children (See Deuteronomy 11).
This edition contains three articles that will be helpful
for both the parent and the youth. In "Helping Children Develop a
Relationship with God," Bill Jacobs encourages parents to form
healthy relationships with their children in order to lead them
to have a relationship with the Lord. Dan Difranco explores what
peer pressure is and how to combat it in "Peer Pressure and the
Need to Belong." Also, Craig Moore analyzes both healthy and
unhealthy views of one's self image in "Who 1 am: The Importance
of Self Discovery." We pray that each article touches the heart
of the reader in a meaningful way.
"Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness,
faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord
out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22, NIV).
Yours in Christ,
John R. Kennedy, Editor
WHO AM I?
The Importance of Self Discovery
The teenage years are exciting. It is the time that most
people form into who they will be for their entire lives. The
emotions run as high as the adrenaline, in overdrive, but for
many teens this is a time of turmoil because of depression.
Others develop a sort of self adoration. In both scenarios,
their image of themselves is twisted out of proportion. But teens
are not the only ones. Adults have not been saved from this
sickness. It is very widespread in the American culture, leaving
no class, race, or religion untouched.
To me, self image was always a strange phenomenon. The idea
of caring what you thought of yourself was very bizarre. But so
many people have self image problems that it has become an
epidemic. Millions of people, mainly teenagers, struggle with
trying to think of themselves in a positive manner. Still others
are vain, thinking too highly of themselves. One of the biggest
pitfalls for us as human beings is our image of ourselves.
A healthy self esteem is one of the most important things in
life. It helps us be a good witness, it gives us strength, and
our bonds of friendship become stronger. Our self esteem affects
nearly every aspect of our life. Because it is so important, it
is one of Satan's favorite points of attack. He attacks us
relentlessly. We need to be prepared to turn aside his attacks,
fighting him with the Sword of the Spirit.
Search out verses to help you against him and learn from
other people that have gone through the same thing. I hope my
battle will help you in some way.
I struggled with keeping a positive view of myself for the
longest time, and still struggle with it when I hit a
particularly low point in my life. However, several people would
have said that I was on the other side of the coin, having a high
opinion of myself during these times. My self-confidence was
usually used to cover my self-deprecating nature. It was hard to
deal with, but there is a cure! God did not create us to knock
ourselves out. He wants us to have healthy, accurate images of
ourselves. How can we do this?
Here are six things that really help me overcome my negative
self image problems.
(1)Think of all the people who love you, friends who love you,
family that has sacrificed for you (sometimes you don't even know
(2)God made you special; you are one of a kind. In Jeremiah 29:11
the Bible says that He knows the plans He has for you ... and
they are all good (KJV)! It goes on to say that they are for you
to prosper, not evil. He doesn't make us down and out. He wants
us to be at peace!
(3)God loves you more than any person can ever love anything. His
love is unconditional. All of us make mistakes, have flaws, and
do things that are tremendously stupid. Those are what make us
human. God loves us anyway. There is nothing, not even a group of
things, that can make God love you any less than He does right
Some people struggle with guilt for something they have done.
This can be a big burden that is hard to deal with and can really
bring a person's self image down. If that is you, then number
four may help.
(4)Everyone is human. Nothing you have done is new. Someone did
it before you. I can tell you that if it's something really
stupid, I have probably done it at least twice. You are not
alone. In fact, the Bible says, "For all have sinned and fall
short of the glory of God." It also says in I Corinthians 10:13,
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to
man..." (KJV). It goes on to say that God won't tempt you past
your breaking point, and will provide a way out. God promises
that He can and will help us with any problem we have.
If your self image is being affected by what other people think
of you, then I hope this one can help you.
(5)The image that other people have of you doesn't matter very
mucb. What matters is who you are, the things you do, the person
you show. If you are trying your best to live a good life, be a
good witness and show Christ's love to the world around you, then
you are doing what you should. They have no reason to look down
on you. Just remember to do your best to overcome your flaws and
to love others.
(6)God has a purpose for you. That means that you are important
in His eyes! If you are important to Him, you are important
indeed. However, remember that you are not more important than
anyone else. Everyone is equally important to God.
These tips come with another lesson. They are also tips on
how to treat others. If you are a significant piece of God's
plan, then that means everyone else is as well, and should be
treated with the love and respect that Christ would treat them.
If everyone makes mistakes, then you need to be
understanding instead of pointing theirs out in front of others.
(See Matthew 18:15-17 for instructions about revealing personal
issues with someone). This will also help others from having self
image problems of their own.
An important thing to remember in all of this is, that no
matter what, God loves you and created you in His image. Next
time you look in the mirror, just remember that the person
looking back at you is one of God's creations, and nothing God
does is an accident. He made you who you are for a reason. We
don't have to live with the burdens of self image problems. Satan
just puts those in our lives to try to keep us from completing
what God wants us to do.
Many people also struggle with having too high of an opinion
of themselves. Strangely enough, I struggle with it as well as
the negative side. It seems like, if I am not struggling with
one, I am struggling with the other! Pride is one of the hardest
things to get rid of because, like any sin, it feels good when we
are experiencing it. However, it is destructive on relationships
and needs to be cut off as soon as possible.
For those that struggle with vanity, I have this list of
thoughts and tips. I hope you find something that helps you among
1. God created us all equal. You may be blessed with some
extraordinary talents, and that's a good thing. It comes from
God, but God wants you to use them for His glory, not your own.
God gives us talents, and He takes them away. A good Scriptural
example of this is Daniel 4. God took away Nebuchadnezzar's
kingdom and sanity because Nebuchadnezzar thought too highly of
himself. He ate grass until he came to the understanding that God
is all powerful.
2. Thinking highly of yourself will cause you to be in for a
lowering of yourself. In Proverbs 16:18, we read that "pride
goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall"
(KJV). The next verse goes on to say "better it is to be of "a
humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the
proud." These are very serious statements. The bluntness adds the
emphasis that suggests the author felt very strongly about the
ill effects of pride.
3. God Himself despises pride. In Proverbs 6:16-19, we read about
the six things the Lord hates and the seven abominations. The
first on the list, in verse 17, is a proud look (KJV). God hates
pride. It is an abomination to Him. Pride never stops pursuing
The struggle with pride is ongoing, it never ends. It is a
temptation that never stops pursuing us. That is why we must take
up our cross daily to overcome.
Understanding the three concepts above is a key in becoming
Another important thing to keep in mind is that God is love.
If you have love for everyone, then you won't look down on them.
For that is truly what pride is, looking down on other people. No
one has any reason to look down on someone else. Jesus was
perfect, yet, He never showed any pride. If anyone had a reason
to be proud, it would have been Him! We should take His example,
love and be humble. Try not to let Satan overcome you and beat
you down or puff you up. And remember, God will always listen to
your prayers and help you when you call on Him.
Craig Moore is a graduate of Missouri Western State University
and serves as the Academic Advisor for Maranatha College. He
currently resides in Rogersville, MO with his wife, Erin.
July/August 2006 ACTS
THE NEED TO BELONG
Every human being feels the need to belong. This is a normal
feeling to have. We were created with a need for others and for
acceptance. Evidence of this is throughout every level of
society. Whether it is your family, job, school, church, or
citizenship of a nation, we all belong to something. In Abraham
Maslow's hierarchy of needs, this need to belong comes
immediately after the basic needs of food, water, and safety.
With the need to belong strong in each of us, we need to be
careful what it is that we belong to. This is why peer pressure
can be so dangerous. By definition, peer pressure is:
Pressure by peer group: social pressure on somebody to adopt
a type of behavior, dress, or attitude in order to be
accepted as part of a group (1)
No matter what type of group you belong to, there will be
pressure from that group to behave in the manner that the group
has deemed worthy. Obviously, there will be some variances within
the group. To the dismay of some group leaders, human beings are
not perfect robots. The majority of behavior in a group, however,
tends to be similar. For example, you wouldn't expect to see a
Southern Baptist Convention in which the participants were
drinking and cussing, just as you wouldn't expect to see gang
members sitting around playing Scrabble.
Along with the need to belong, peer pressure is something
that is also almost unavoidable. Every stage of your life will
have some form of it. The most difficult period of time though is
under 25, particularly 12-18 years old. There are several reasons
For starters, it is the time in your life when you are
beginning to become more independent. Your parents have built a
protective hedge around you. You may want to go beyond that
hedge, to see things for yourself, and to prove things to
yourself. You may want to begin to go to activities or parties
where your parents are not around. These are normal feelings and
behaviors to have. After all, Dad and Mom will not be there to
hold your hand in every situation in your life. Every bird needs
to mature and leave the nest. But be careful! You will be tempted
and tested in more ways than you can imagine, and the majority of
it will come from your peers.
Another reason why being a teenager is the most difficult
time for peer pressure is that you are targeted. You are targeted
by Satan. He understands that you are at a vulnerable time in
your life. As you step out on your own and do things on your own
for the first time, he is there to try and make you fall. It is
his goal to mess your life up so bad that you'll spend the rest
of it wondering what happened and trying to fix it.
One of Satan's main tools that he uses to do this is through
In the United States, and increasingly throughout the world,
the majority of music, movies, video games, clothing fads,
alcohol, cigarettes, and advertising in general, are directed
toward teenagers. A year-long Federal Trade Commission study,
completed in 2000, found that:
* 80 percent of R-rated movies were targeted at children under
17, and two thirds of the marketing plans for R-rated movies
expressly said the target audience was children under 17.
* 70 percent of video games with "mature" ratings are targeted to
children under the age of 17, and 60 percent of the industry
marketing plans for such games expressly noted they were targeted
at children under 17.
* 100 percent of music recordings with explicit content labels
were targeted to children under 17.
As the saying goes, "the proof is in the pudding." Not only
do the statistics show this attack, but check the following
quotes from people in the business:
"The strongest appeal you can make is emotionally. If you
can get their emotions going, make them forget their logic,
you've got them. AT MTV, WE DON'T SHOOT FOR THE 14-YEAR
OLDS, WE OWN THEM" - Bob Pittman, Founder and former
President of MTV and Nickelodeon." (2)
Nancy Shalek, president of the Shalek Agency, told the Los
Angeles Times that:
"Advertising at its best is making people feel that without
their product, you're a loser. Kids are very sensitive to
that. If you tell them to buy something, they are resistant.
But if you tell them that they'll be a dork if they don't,
you've got their attention. You open up emotional
vulnerabilities and it's very easy to do with kids because
they're the most emotionally vulnerable." (3)
From the standpoint of those in the entertainment industry,
their main reason for targeting children and teenagers is to make
money. They are blinded to the fact that they are being used by
Satan for a more devious purpose.
Satan has been remarkably effective in turning the United
States into a materialistic nation. Not only do we feel the need
to have so much stuff, but we have to have the latest, greatest,
and coolest stuff. Popularity in high schools, and in the adult
world as well, has very little to do with being kind, friendly,
and nice to be around. It has more to do with who has the coolest
things. "Wow! Mary's parents bought her a brand new Mustang. I
would love to ride around with her." You may have heard someone
say, "Tyler always wears the coolest clothes. He has awesome
Along with having lots of material possessions, popularity
as a teenager is often paired with bad behavior. In fact,
teenagers have become almost synonymous with rebellion. It has
become cool to do things that are bad, and the envelope is always
being pushed to do the worse things. When I was in high school,
the most popular kids were the ones who were smoking pot,
drinking, doing vandalism, and having pre-marital sex. By the
time I was a senior, this behavior had enveloped the majority of
the "cool" kids. I even found myself being tempted because of the
basic need to belong. Satan is an expert in human nature. He
knows that if he can corrupt the criteria of what it takes to be
popular and well-liked, then he can sway the majority of
humanity. Most people are followers. Whatever direction the crowd
is going, people will be like sheep going to the slaughter.
This idea is well stated in the following quote from the
Chinese philosopher Mencius:
"To act without clear understanding, to form habits without
investigation, to follow a path all one's life without
knowing where it really leads - such is the behavior of the
It is very important to remember the condition of humans
since the Fall of Adam and Eve. We have been born with a sinful,
carnal, human nature. It is in our very nature to do wrong (This
is really not the case at all - natural created nature, as Adam
and Eve were created with is "neutral" - Adam and Eve did not
automatically "do wrong" because they were created with a nature
to do wrong per se. They were created with a free-will nature to
either choose to do right or wrong. See the study on this Website
called "The Carnal Nature" - Keith Hunt). Have you ever noticed
that little children don't need to be taught how to be bad, but
rather how to behave and get along with others.
Generally, the kids who are involved in bad behavior come
from bad or broken homes. Their parents are not involved in their
lives, so this sinful nature is allowed to continue and get
worse. It may seem like these kids get to have more fun, but the
Bible says that there is pleasure in sin only for a season (see
Hebrews 11:25). After that, they will become a slave to it.
HOW TO COMBAT PEER PRESSURE
Choose your friends wisely. Bad company really does corrupt
good morals. If your friends are trying to get you to do
something wrong, then they are really not good friends. You will
also find that they want you to be involved in what they are
doing, because it will help them to justify their own behavior
and feel better about what they arc doing.
Pray. As you get older, people will come and go. Your social
circles will change, but God will always be there for you. He can
help you out of any situation if you are willing to ask for His
Homeschool. The American public school system has become a
godless cesspool of sin. As much as we want to be light in the
darkness, sometimes it is necessary to leave certain
environments, much like Lot and Noah did in the Bible.
Homeschooling has changed drastically in the last thirty
years. Parents will find many support groups and people in your
town that will help you and be there for support.
Find good sources of peer pressure. Peer pressure does not
have to always be in a negative context, even though it generally
tends to be. Find friends who are Christian and have good morals.
Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens
the countenance of his friend" (KJV). If you are in a positive
environment, you will be lifted up by your friends and feel
pressure by them to do what is right and good.
Wanting to fit in is a normal feeling to have. Nobody likes
to be an outcast. But don't define your self-worth with how you
compare with others. If Jesus Christ had cared about what
everyone thought, and if He wanted to fit in, He would have never
succeeded as the Savior of humanity. He had to stand up and be
different from the crowd. He could have easily been as
self-righteous as the Pharisees, or even worse. After all, He was
the very Son of God. But He chose a different path. He chose not
to follow the crowd. He chose to stand on Godly Principles. If
you choose to do the same, your life will be very blessed. You
will be more successful. You will have more peace. You will be
much happier in the long run.
Develop your relationship with Jesus now. He will be there
in your times of trouble. He will be there for you when it seems
like you have no friends and the only way to fit in is to
compromise your beliefs. You can be the friend of the Creator of
the whole universe! What better friend is there than that? As it
says in Romans 8:31, "If God is for us, who can he against us?
Dan Difranco and his wife Jennifer are members of the Springfield
Church of God 7th Day's worship team in Springfield, MO.
1. Definition of "Pressure by peer group" from Encarta World
English Dictionary [North American Edition], 2006.
2. Quote from "MTV is Rock Around the Clock," Philadelphia
Inquirer, Nov.3, 1982.
3. Quote from the Los Angeles Times November 12, 1989.
HELPING CHILDREN DEVELOPE
A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
A good friend and I were talking about the need to make our
congregations spiritually healthy places for our children. He
observed that it is the tendency for many to think about helping
in a programmatic way: have a need: fill it by creating a
program. Several interesting thoughts came from his observation.
We observed that while Jesus started a movement, He did not
start a single program. Instead, Jesus interacted with people
directly to help them. If people were sick, He healed them. If
they were confused, He told them a story or asked them
illuminating questions. If children appeared before Him, He
picked them up and blessed them. In His thirty-three years of
human life, He helped people primarily through face-to-face
We noticed, as well, that in His relationships with His
disciples, Jesus experienced many of the attendant relational
issues. Some of His disciples wanted to misuse their relationship
with Jesus to gain an advantage over others. He spent a good bit
of His time correcting His disciples mistaken notions about what
He said to them. One of them stole from Him and later betrayed
Him with a kiss. He seemed to be particularly sensitive to the
needs and feelings of women. He talked from the heart to Mary and
Martha. Mary Magdalene respected Him. Even the woman at the well
seemed to have experienced a sense of connection in their brief
conversation. When He died, it hurt, confused, and discouraged
His friends for a time.
As my friend and I talked, we also wondered why so many of
us, when we want to help others, think about programs instead of
a one-to-one approach. It seems that organization and structure
are deeply rooted concepts in our culture. We tend to value
efficiency and want to maximize our efforts. It's easy to think
that programs are the way to go.
Or could it be that we prefer programs because we are not
willing to experience the problems that come along with all
personal relationships? Relationships are complex and often
tricky. They take time. Miscommunication is frequently a part and
can be hurtful. Relationships often leave us vulnerable. It takes
courage to love others and to express it to them.
In a lecture at the University of New Mexico, brain
researcher, Bruce Perry, noted that western culture is the first
culture in history to lose the ability to transmit its values to
the next generation. In other cultures values transmission takes
place naturally. It's as though the children "catch" or absorb
their parents' values without effort - but not so in the West.
Researchers have observed that in our society, people are
becoming more isolated. The work place plays a part in this
isolation, as people work more with machines and computers and
less with people. With the prolific use of electronic media,
parents and children spend precious little time together,
choosing instead to play computer games or watch television. A
materialistic emphasis in western culture also takes a toll on
relationships. People spend more time than ever working, leaving
little time for family. All these factors create an environment
in which people are losing the skills necessary to build the kind
of relationships that foster the transmission of values from
parents to children.
Frequently, parents bring their children to my counseling
practice, expecting me to fix them, not realizing that their
children are only reacting normally to relational impoverishment.
I have to show them how to provide fair and reasonable
boundaries, positive eye contact, appropriate physical touch,
positive reinforcement, and attunement to the mental state of
their child. All these skills are second nature to most other
Not long ago, a single mom brought her thirteen year old
daughter to me. Her daughter had one of the most defiant and
disrespectful attitudes I've ever encountered. She ridiculed her
mother and mimicked her in my office during our session. Later in
the session, the mother explained that her grandfather was an
angry drunk, who had passed his anger on to his son, who in turn
became an angry drunk, who in turn had treated her in such a way
that she had become an angry girl and then an angry woman. This
mom didn't have to tell me that she had inadvertently transmitted
her anger to her daughter. It was written all over her. As the
session progressed, the mother would contradict and override
things that her daughter said. She talked in negative terms about
her daughter as though she was not present or could not hear. I
was watching, first hand, a mother who did not know how to relate
to her own daughter.
Coming back to the spiritual realm, the biblical and natural
evidence points to one inescapable conclusion: we were created
for relationship - with God and each other. Examples abound. I
read a study some time ago in which I learned that the single
greatest indicator of success among undergraduate college
students was a caring relationship with a faculty member. In my
private psychotherapeutic practice, I see that my clients are
healed in the therapeutic relationship. Over the years, I've seen
many young people blossom spiritually in the light of a caring
relationship with a loving parent or another adult at church.
When children feel understood, heard and loved by parents,
they tend to adhere to parental boundaries and absorb their
values without effort. The famous Swiss psychologist, Jean
Piaget, noted that eventually the parental relationship is
transferred to God. Additionally, when a child feels a sense of
closeness with an adult in their congregation, they tend to bond
to not only to the person but also the congregation. Those close
relationships create a relational field in which faith and
commitment are passed from God through adults to children.
Do social programs have any place, then, in a congregation?
Programs are not bad in and of themselves. If they promote
relationships, then they can be helpful. The Big Brother, Big
Sister program serves as an example of a helpful program, because
it creates helping relationships. So many programs, however, are
not designed with that purpose in mind. To teach children how to
water ski, for example, is good, but when the instructor sees his
instruction as a vehicle for support and relationship, his
efforts suddenly become so much more valuable. The real benefit
always comes from those close, caring, face-to-face
If we hope to make our congregations and families the
spiritually healthy places our children need, we must do our work
of faith in relationships. That shouldn't surprise us, for God,
above all else, is a relational God.
The Apostle John, a man transformed by his relationship with
Jesus, explains it best when he wrote that "God is love" (1 John
Bill Jacobs is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in New
Mexico. He has worked as a school counselor for six years and
currently works with suicidal teens through Southwest Family
Institute. Bill has served in ministry since 1968. His years in
ministry, combined with his experience with thousands of
children, teens and adults, provide Bill a rich background from
which to serve children and families, which he does through Life
Resource Ministries, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the
faith development of children.
Life Resource Ministries produces bi-weekly audio presentations
distributed freely though its website and mailing list. Bill has
also been a featured presenter in a number of Church of God
congregations and regional events.
LifeResource Ministries P.O. Box 66540 Albuquerque, NM 87114
The above articles were entered on this Website, October 2006