Latest Issue

Managing the Millennial Family


Humble travelers Earl and Thomia Campbell, offer a few points on this thing called life.

FEATURES

11 More Than Money
by Ruthven Phillip /
Five ways you can build a lasting legacy for your family.

12 The Skeptic and The Theologian
by Carmel Monk Crawford /
How college buddies hit upon a ministry for the millennium.

14 Pregnancy-Related Death Rates for African Americans Remain High
by Violet Larry /
Information and advocacy protect black women and their unborn.

16 Mom’s Bond
by Lena Caesar /
Your sweet whispers create more than a bond with baby.

18 Leadership: 25 seeds of greatness
by D. Robert Kennedy /v Leadership potential starts with these conversations.

20 The Gift of Mental Health
by Tiffany Llewellyn /
Secrets in the family tree, once discovered, can avert crisis.

22 Managing The Millennial Family
by Earl and Thomia Campbell /
Two earners, two professions, two babies and no time. Life lessons in balance.

28 Dead to the World
by Omar Miranda /
Disney World Day shows that death isn’t so hard to understand.

FAVORITES

4 ELEVATION
by Phillip McGuire Wesley /
Media That Takes You Higher

5 EDITORIAL
by Carmela Monk Crawford /
It’s a trap, I’m telling you

6 EYE ON THE TIME
by Jackson Doggette /
HYPNOTIC Hyper-Hypocrisy
by Robert Norwood / THE JESUS PARADOX

8 OPTIMAL HEALTH
by Donna Green Goodman /
KITCHEN GEAR

10 RELATIONSHIP Rx
by Willie and Elaine Oliver /
My child is same-sex attracted

24 FUTURECAST
by Carlton P. Byrd /
Revelations of Paybackion

26 THE EXPERIENCE
by Ellen G. White /
Believe

27 THE EXPERIENCE BIBLE STUDY
by Rashad Burden /
BREAKING BREAD.

30 POWER PLAY
by Eddie Hypolite /
Giant killers




The Theologian and the Skeptic

Portland, Oregon based The Bible Project has posted more than 140 Bible videos and podcasts on platforms including YouTube that have been viewed more than 100 million times in the five years since its inception.

Storyteller and “architect of ideas” John Collins, who with a slim build, modest attire and long hair looks like a modern day disciple, is the engine behind the Bible Project. He spent several years producing industrial videos for the likes of multinational corporations with complicated logistics and distribution systems, such as Sysco. Recognizing his God-given ability to make complex topics approachable, Collins teamed up with his buddy from Multnomah College. Together with his friend, Tim Mackie now a theologian with a PhD., the duo hit upon a ministry for the millennium: explainer videos for the Bible.

The Bible Project is to the church school flannel graph, what the iPad is to textbooks. Instead of a flat, pretty picture, arranged by the teacher, the multi-dimensional storytelling explores life’s ugly questions and chaotic experiences using dynamic animations. And, it can be accessed from all over the globe.

Bible Project’s team includes 33 mostly young, mostly white, mostly introspective (if not religious) technicians—animators to artists, social media managers to non-profit executives. Crowdfunded by viewers, and seeking to be free from interpreter’s bias or institutional agendas, the Project freely releases each new season on YouTube.

Executive Director Steve Atkinson, a former marketing and non-profit executive himself, was sold the first time he heard the idea, because, hey, who doesn’t have questions? One podcast exchange between Collins and Mackie sticks in Atkinson’s mind because of its relatable skepticism toward the Bible’s story of the Garden of Eden and its tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

“If we weren’t supposed to eat from the tree,” asked Collins, “why did He put it right in the middle of the garden? Why didn’t he put it over in the corner of the garden and put some thorny bushes around it, put it under lock and key? Why did he put it there?”

It was the soft answer, the humble answer, from brainy Mackie that Atkinson says makes this kind of biblical experience meaningful. Atkinson admits that as a lifelong Christian, he didn’t always feel comfortable asking questions.

   “Tim, just so softly says, ‘Oh yeah, that’s a great question.” Mackie then related how in the middle of what had to be one of the best dinners—ever—at home with his wife and two boys, one kid decided to spew rice from his cheeks all over the table. “That’s how it is,” Mackie summed it up. “The tree is right at the center of every one of our lives, we’re just one decision away from blowing things up.”

The real question is, knowing how close we have come or have even crossed over, where is the hope? Just as the prospect of failure is ever imminent, so is the hope and the solution of Jesus woven into every part of scripture said Atkinson.

“I truly believe the gospel is Genesis through Revelation,” said Atkinson, who says the company’s mission is to show the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus.

“[E]very story whispers His name, that you can see this thread throughout.”


This article is part of our 2019 September / October Issue
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Breaking Bread

Jesus is coming again. Your parents said it. Their parents said it. I’m sure the parents before them said the same thing. For what seems like ages we’ve been told, and talked about the soon coming of Jesus Christ. Living in a time when so much takes up the space in our minds how often do we think about this life we’re living being only a portion of what God has for us? Join us as we take on the challenge of being ready for the return of Jesus.


1) Read Acts 1:4-11; Isaiah 40:31

They had to have been astonished. The disciples just saw their teacher, leader, and friend float into the sky and then vanish from sight. To make matters more challenging, they had just been told to wait for the Holy Spirit. Doesn’t it seem like a lot of your relationship with God involves waiting? What have you had to wait on in your walk with Him? Tell us on Social Media using  #MessageMag

2) Read Acts 1:4-11; John 14:1-3

While the disciples are standing there staring into the nothingness, two men in white appear and tell them that the same way they saw Jesus go, is the same way He will return. Maybe you think it would have been easier to believe that He was coming back a few days, months, or years later. What about a couple thousand years? Is it harder for you to believe living in 2019? Is it harder to be ready in 2019? Tell us on Social Media using  #MessageMag

3) Read Acts 2:1-4, 22-24

After the disciples waited as instructed, they receive the Holy Spirit. Eventually Peter begins to preach about who Jesus was and what He did. That is what each of them did for the rest of their lives. Is that true for each follower of Jesus? Sharing the gospel and living in compromising situations? Is “fun” out of the question? What about the dreams I’m perusing? How can I be ready for Jesus while still dealing with the life in front of me? Have you ever asked any of these questions? Do you have any answers? Please Share on Social Media using #MessageMag

4) Read 1 Thess. 5:1-6; Romans 14:17-19

Chronologically speaking, Thessalonians is Paul’s first letter, and Romans is his last. Isn’t it interesting that the tone with which Paul talks about the life of a follower of Jesus changes from “get ready” to “do your best to be at peace with those around you”? The way the Apostle Paul talks about the second coming transitions from how soon Jesus is coming to how sure Jesus’ coming is. Maybe there is a difference in how one lives when something is “soon” in comparison to when it’s “sure.”  Tell us what you think on Social Media using #MessageMag 

5) Read Acts 2:40-42; Matt. Chapters 5-7

The Holy Spirit enabled Peter to preach and thousands of people were baptized. Thousands of people now looked forward to the return of Jesus. As the story goes, they didn’t just sit around, but they learned from the apostles. The apostles did the best they could to pass on what Jesus had passed to them. He taught them who they were and how they were to live the life God gave them. Can we be ready for his return by simply showing people a better way to live life? Is that enough? Share your thoughts with us using #MessageMag on FaceBook, Instagram or Twitter. 

6) Read Acts 2:40-42

It is interesting that Luke decided to include the fact that a part of the initiation into the faith was breaking bread, or eating together on a regular basis, with familiar and new faces. When we think about being ready for the coming of Jesus does being surrounded by strangers register as a prerequisite? It makes sense though because the same Jesus they saw ascend into heaven was always surrounded by strangers, doing the best He could to improve their lives.

7)

It has been said, “don’t be so heavenly minded, that you are of no earthly good.” In being ready for the second coming of Jesus we must be heavenly minded and earthly good. God pours into your life and simply desires you to do the same for the rest of His children. He knows that care for others will whittle away the hard parts of your heart and strengthen your faith. Nothing causes more friction than our interaction with people who are different than we are. God knew, to get to the welcome table in Heaven, He had to call us to break bread at tables down here. 

…......……………………………………………………………….

Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Mount Olive and Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Southern Alabama.


This article is part of our 2019 September / October
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“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” 

Acts 1:9-11.

Believe: He Will Come Back

From Ellen G. White’s The Desire of Ages, the chapter entitled “To My Father, and Your Father.”*

“C

hrist had ascended to heaven in the form of humanity. The disciples had beheld the cloud receive Him. The same Jesus who had walked and talked and prayed with them; who had broken bread with them; who had been with them in their boats on the lake; and who had that very day toiled with them up the ascent of Olivet,—the same Jesus had now gone to share His Father’s throne. And the angels had assured them that the very One whom they had seen go up into heaven, would come again even as He had ascended.

He will come “with clouds; and every eye shall see Him.” “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise.” “The Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory.” Revelation 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Matthew 25:31. Thus will be fulfilled the Lord’s own promise to His disciples: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:3. Well might the disciples rejoice in the hope of their Lord’s return.

When the disciples went back to Jerusalem, the people looked upon them with amazement. After the trial and crucifixion of Christ, it had been thought that they would appear downcast and ashamed. Their enemies expected to see upon their faces an expression of sorrow and defeat. Instead of this there was only gladness and triumph. Their faces were aglow with a happiness not born of earth. They did not mourn over disappointed hopes, but were full of praise and thanksgiving to God. With rejoicing they told the wonderful story of Christ’s resurrection and His ascension to heaven, and their testimony was received by many.

The disciples no longer had any distrust of the future. They knew that Jesus was in heaven, and that His sympathies were with them still. They knew that they had a friend at the throne of God, and they were eager to present their requests to the Father in the name of Jesus. In solemn awe they bowed in prayer, repeating the assurance, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:23, 24. They extended the hand of faith higher and higher, with the mighty argument, “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Romans 8:34. And Pentecost brought them fullness of joy in the presence of the Comforter, even as Christ had promised.”

…......……………………………………………………………………………….


This article is part of our 2019 September / October
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…......…………………………………………..

ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

_________________

*You can read The Desire of Ages in its entirety online at www.whiteestate.org/onlinebooks.





Believe: He Will Come Back

“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” 

Acts 1:9-11


From Ellen G. White’s The Desire of Ages, the chapter entitled “To My Father, and Your Father.”*

Christ had ascended to heaven in the form of humanity. The disciples had beheld the cloud receive Him. The same Jesus who had walked and talked and prayed with them; who had broken bread with them; who had been with them in their boats on the lake; and who had that very day toiled with them up the ascent of Olivet,—the same Jesus had now gone to share His Father’s throne. And the angels had assured them that the very One whom they had seen go up into heaven, would come again even as He had ascended.

He will come “with clouds; and every eye shall see Him.” “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise.” “The Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory.” Revelation 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Matthew 25:31. Thus will be fulfilled the Lord’s own promise to His disciples: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:3. Well might the disciples rejoice in the hope of their Lord’s return.

When the disciples went back to Jerusalem, the people looked upon them with amazement. After the trial and crucifixion of Christ, it had been thought that they would appear downcast and ashamed. Their enemies expected to see upon their faces an expression of sorrow and defeat. Instead of this there was only gladness and triumph. Their faces were aglow with a happiness not born of earth. They did not mourn over disappointed hopes, but were full of praise and thanksgiving to God. With rejoicing they told the wonderful story of Christ’s resurrection and His ascension to heaven, and their testimony was received by many.

The disciples no longer had any distrust of the future. They knew that Jesus was in heaven, and that His sympathies were with them still. They knew that they had a friend at the throne of God, and they were eager to present their requests to the Father in the name of Jesus. In solemn awe they bowed in prayer, repeating the assurance, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:23, 24. They extended the hand of faith higher and higher, with the mighty argument, “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Romans 8:34. And Pentecost brought them fullness of joy in the presence of the Comforter, even as Christ had promised.”

…......………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

*You can read The Desire of Ages in its entirety online at www.whiteestate.org/onlinebooks.


This article is part of our 2019 September / October Issue
Subscribe –>

…......…………………………………………..


Jesus is coming again. Your parents said it. Their parents said it. I’m sure the parents before them said the same thing. For what seems like ages we’ve been told, and talked about the soon coming of Jesus Christ. Living in a time when so much takes up the space in our minds how often do we think about this life we’re living being only a portion of what God has for us? Join us as we take on the challenge of being ready for the return of Jesus.

1 Read Acts 1:4-11; Isaiah 40:31

They had to have been astonished. The disciples just saw their teacher, leader, and friend float into the sky and then vanish from sight. To make matters more challenging, they had just been told to wait for the Holy Spirit. Doesn’t it seem like a lot of your relationship with God involves waiting? What have you had to wait on in your walk with Him? Tell us on Social Media using  #MessageMag

2 Read Acts 1:4-11; John 14:1-3

While the disciples are standing there staring into the nothingness, two men in white appear and tell them that the same way they saw Jesus go, is the same way He will return. Maybe you think it would have been easier to believe that He was coming back a few days, months, or years later. What about a couple thousand years? Is it harder for you to believe living in 2019? Is it harder to be ready in 2019? Tell us on Social Media using  #MessageMag

3 Read Acts 2:1-4, 22-24

After the disciples waited as instructed, they receive the Holy Spirit. Eventually Peter begins to preach about who Jesus was and what He did. That is what each of them did for the rest of their lives. Is that true for each follower of Jesus? Sharing the gospel and living in compromising situations? Is “fun” out of the question? What about the dreams I’m perusing? How can I be ready for Jesus while still dealing with the life in front of me? Have you ever asked any of these questions? Do you have any answers? Please Share on Social Media using #MessageMag

4 Read 1 Thess. 5:1-6; Romans 14:17-19

Chronologically speaking, Thessalonians is Paul’s first letter, and Romans is his last. Isn’t it interesting that the tone with which Paul talks about the life of a follower of Jesus changes from “get ready” to “do your best to be at peace with those around you”? The way the Apostle Paul talks about the second coming transitions from how soon Jesus is coming to how sure Jesus’ coming is. Maybe there is a difference in how one lives when something is “soon” in comparison to when it’s “sure.”  Tell us what you think on Social Media using #MessageMag 

5 Read Acts 2:40-42; Matt. Chapters 5-7

The Holy Spirit enabled Peter to preach and thousands of people were baptized. Thousands of people now looked forward to the return of Jesus. As the story goes, they didn’t just sit around, but they learned from the apostles. The apostles did the best they could to pass on what Jesus had passed to them. He taught them who they were and how they were to live the life God gave them. Can we be ready for his return by simply showing people a better way to live life? Is that enough? Share your thoughts with us using #MessageMag on FaceBook, Instagram or Twitter. 

6 Read Acts 2:40-42

It is interesting that Luke decided to include the fact that a part of the initiation into the faith was breaking bread, or eating together on a regular basis, with familiar and new faces. When we think about being ready for the coming of Jesus does being surrounded by strangers register as a prerequisite? It makes sense though because the same Jesus they saw ascend into heaven was always surrounded by strangers, doing the best He could to improve their lives.

7

It has been said, “don’t be so heavenly minded, that you are of no earthly good.” In being ready for the second coming of Jesus we must be heavenly minded and earthly good. God pours into your life and simply desires you to do the same for the rest of His children. He knows that care for others will whittle away the hard parts of your heart and strengthen your faith. Nothing causes more friction than our interaction with people who are different than we are. God knew, to get to the welcome table in Heaven, He had to call us to break bread at tables down here. 

…......……………………………………………………………….

Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Mount Olive and Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Southern Alabama.


This article is part of our 2019 September / October Issue
Subscribe –>





When the Tables Are Turned

Revelations of Payback

You may have heard—or used–these clichés ultimately bear the same meaning:

  • “What goes around, comes around.”
  • “You do dirt, you get dirt.”
  • “Live by the gun, die by the gun.”

These and other similar formulations are meant to represent what many people call “karma.” Now while karma is not a biblical term, many might be surprised that at its core, its concept is actually biblical. It was the apostle Paul who said, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Even Jesus said, “they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matthew 26:52).

Herein is a principle that our Creator has interwoven into the fabric of the universe. It is akin to the law of gravity, the second law of thermodynamics, the law of relativity, and the like. I refer to it as “the law of sowing and reaping.” No farmer has ever reported a harvest of apples from his orange tree or figs from a grapevine. Yet, whatever you plant, in considerable time much more will come back to you.

Revelations and Real Reaping

The book of Revelation is, in many ways, harvest time. This concept is expressed on several different occasions through a myriad of ways within the book. As a matter of fact, Revelation ends with an example of the idea. In Revelation 22:12, Jesus announces, “Behold I come quickly and my reward is with me to give to every man according as his work shall be.” I could write an entire book about the rewards outlined in Revelation. Nevertheless, I’d like to focus on a couple of the significant examples of the law of sowing and reaping.

These examples appear to transpire in successive progression as the further you progress throughout the book, the plagues and punishments get worse. In Revelation 16 the wicked receive the seven last plagues. In this chapter, they tell of seven angels who are handed seven bowls. The bowls are described as golden bowls that contain “the wrath of God” which are reserved to be delivered to the earth; particularly upon those who rebel against God.

Then, just as the seven plagues are being completed, the harvest of destruction continues. One of the angels, who helps to deliver the seven plagues escorts John the Revelator to a far away place to witness the destruction of an evil woman (Revelation 17:1). This woman represents the wicked confederation of rebellion against God in the form of deceptive religious leadership. Supporting her are an array of global, political, economic, and commercial institutions that help her maintain power, control, and terror over the innocent people of the earth (Revelation 17:2, 18; 18:3,9). Nevertheless, God ensures that her just reward will be meted out.

“For her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done”(Revelations 18:5,6). “The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire” (Revelation 17:16).

Thousand-Year Earthbound Sentence

In Revelation 20, another angel appears to deliver punishment to the arch-enemy of all humanity. This angel descends from heaven with the tools of confinement.

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while” (Revelations 20:1-3, NLT).

There is no firing squad, no electric chair, no lethal injection, but a prison of loneliness, in the strictest of solitary confinement. Since he was cast from heaven, Satan’s existence has focused on deception and destruction of earth’s inhabitants. Now in Revelation 20, everything has already been destroyed and there is no one left to be deceived. The enemies of God have been vanquished and God has rescued His saints, (See Revelation 19). Suddenly, Satan is not the oppressor, but the oppressed. In this moment, the great “slavedriver” of sin and sorrow shall suffer under the weight of the finality of his deceptive work.

End of The Line for Satan And His Followers

After the 1,000 years are finished, Satan makes one last attempt to marshal the forces of evil and take the Kingdom of God by force (Revelation 20:7, 8). It’s not clear how he does this. Perhaps he musters all of his dark and evil magic for one last great push. Who knows? What we do know, however, is that according to the scriptures, this last effort is allowed only for a very short moment. In conclusion, fire comes down from heaven to consume the evil insurrectionists (Revelation 20:9). This is the very end of the line for Satan and his agents. After fire falls from heaven this time, there will be no remaining mark of Satan’s rebellion.

Yes, in the here and now, the powerful seem to find new kinds of oppression with which to victimize powerless people. One day, however, the tables will be turned. The evil forces will soon become the recipients of the very same devastation they dished out upon planet Earth. The divine principle of sowing and reaping will finally need to be settled. We have waited, and God has promised, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them” (Deuteronomy 32:25, NLT).

…......………………………………………………………………………

CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.

_________________

Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT), copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


This article is part of our 2019 September / October Issue
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It’s a Trap, I’m Telling You!

The prospect of a sunny day at an Orlando water park to cap off summer vacation managed to raise an eyebrow among our emerging adult children. With one in college, one a senior in high school, and one in eighth grade, we were lucky they wanted to be with us at all.

We trailed our kids up at least 150 steps to the top of Volcano Bay’s Ko’okiri, anxious for the fun to begin. Breathless on the top deck I was stunned as my children each climbed into the door of a clear capsule then vanished down the chute.

Wait, wuh?

I hadn’t researched the new Ko’okiri. I didn’t know it is reportedly the world’s tallest body slide, with the highest plunge, a fall at a 70 degree angle and 125 feet of sheer terror. I didn’t know about the trap door. If you think this is about quality experiences to cement relationships, you’re getting way

Volcano Bay

ahead of me. No, I’m using this as a metaphor for the dramatic and quick decline of the spiritual interests and practices of our millennials and the teens after them, the Generation Zers, or “screenagers.”

Have you seen the numbers in Gen Z The Culture Beliefs and Motivation Shaping The Next Generation? (Barna, 2018) More agnostics, atheists and “nones,” more ambivalence about the relevance of Christianity, and pillars of faith. As a Christian, this feels like a breathless ride into the abyss.

Without question, we believe the task to keep the legacy going falls to Christian parents: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” Deuteronomy 6:4-7.

So, people of faith want their children to have a living faith, a faith that allows them to navigate a secular, if not hostile society (p. 80). But, if a vibrant Christian life is what we want for them, researchers studying this younger cohort wonder at the dichotomy in modeling and teaching in parents. Parents bubble-wrap their children’s lives to protect them, yet, leave them unprepared for spiritual challenge.

Parents wait in cars for the school bus with their children to avoid the stranger danger. Yet, the empty streets after school, hide the fact that there are plenty of children in the area; they’re just spending their time inside, isolated, and unsupervised with uncritical access to a hazardous universe of media at their fingertips.

“[I]n an age of social media, ubiquitous porn, self-harm, cyberbullying and sexting,” said James Emery White (Gen Z p. 35, Barna, 2018), “children need greater protection than ever before—not less. Thanks to their parents, however, Gen Z is growing up too fast, and childhood has slowly evaporated in the name of independence and freedom.”

I am convinced that relationships are the most powerful shaping influences during the teenage years.

Strangely also, the unintended message Gen Z catches from watching the professional pursuits of their parents is the idea that financial success is the highest goal. Parents are role models, alright, for what they supply. Gen Zers are missing the underlying source of drive: purpose and life-meaning. It is no wonder that as a group, they are not in a hurry to engage in the the lifework of an adult.

Similarly, we seem surprised at what appears to be ambivalence on the part of our young people when it comes to “lifestyle” choices. We have taught them love, tolerance, compassion, appreciation for differences, talents, and gifts, cultures, races and peoples. Now, in the face of exploding exposure to diversity in gender, race and culture, and religion, instead of being threatened, our young people seem non-committal. It is logical, and not as frightening as one may think, according to Fikre Prince, an Associate Pastor, Evangel Ministries.

“When we make it seem as though God is against youth or their friends, of course they want to find ways to rationalize or explain away that idea. A lot of what comes across as ambivalence is really kids trying to make sense of what they hear, what they see, what they know of truth and love” said Prince. (p.67) We can help them by giving them a way to understand and explain their own beliefs (1 Peter 3:15, 16), but have to respect the way their compassion and empathy, and capacity for inclusiveness get tested every day.

Fortunately, we can both teach and learn by coming alongside the twenty-somethings and “screenagers” among us. “Gen Z increasingly feels isolated and alone, but they hunger for real relationships,” writes Jonathan Morrow, Director of Cultural Engagement at Impact 360 Institute. “I am convinced that relationships are the most powerful shaping influence during the teenage years.”

The teenager operating Ko’orkiri wouldn’t even look me in the eye. I watched her chat with a co-worker while she worked her buttons when the sudden clang of the trap door at my feet let me know she pushed my button. Free-falling and drowning at the same time, I thought “This might really be the end.”

As my husband and I washed ashore the concrete beach at the bottom, nose and sinuses stinging, pulling swimsuits from the crevices in which they hide, I realized one kid’s thrill ride, is another woman’s near death experience.


This article is part of our 2019 September / October Issue
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