Healthy U Parent Devotionals
I’m not a fan of McDonald’s. I used to be. When I was younger and didn’t know a good burger from a mediocre burger. So, I don’t eat at McDonald’s very often. But, on occasion – for some strange reason – I want a Quarter Pounder from Mickey D’s. I don’t just want it. I crave it. I know it’s not that good a burger. I know the deep sense of regret I get afterwards, but it doesn’t matter. It’s calling me. Next thing I know I’m in the drive thru making my order.
As I’m eating it, I do have a sense of euphoria as I taste that magical combination of pickles, onions, ketchup, mustard, melted cheese, and what I tell myself is beef. It’s good. It’s delicious. It’s satisfying. 30 minutes later . . . I’m berating myself. “What have I done!” I just feel gross. I can feel the heaviness in my stomach. It’s sitting there like a rock weighing me down. Ugh. Never again I vow. . . . . Until it beckons me again.
Why do we do that? Why do we crave the things that we KNOW are so unhealthy, so terrible for us? Things that fill us with regret and self-loathing. Things that make us feel so bad about ourselves.
The Bible tells us that we’re all prone to seek after those things that bring us temporary pleasure, but ultimately are destructive to us. It doesn’t matter if you’re a teenager or an adult. We all do it.
And when we fill ourselves with those things that are unhealthy and destructive we generally know what we’ve done. We know we were created for so much more. We know that we are missing something and we ache for that which will bring us true happiness, long-lasting joy, and soulful satisfaction.
What does your teen fill up on? I’m not talking about their stomach. What do they fill their eyes with? Their ears? Their heart? Their mind and soul? What kind of social media content draws their attention? Where do they spend their time soaking up entertainment, truth, and ideas? Are these healthy for them? How do you know? What’s the standard for what is good, true, healthy, etc.?
Read the following Bible verses and see if we can’t find some answers.
“And this is the judgment: the light (Jesus) has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”
“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
These verses make it clear that we are naturally bent toward opposing God in sinful thoughts, words, and deeds. Adam and Eve (Genesis 3) originally messed things up when they decided that THEIR way was better than God’s way. (They didn’t understand the assignment!)
Ever since then all of humankind has made their own choices to disregard God’s truths and supplant them with their own truths. But our truths aren’t truths at all. They’re lies (John 8.44). Because anything that is opposed to God’s truth is a lie. And believing in these lies is hurtful and destructive to us. (Kind of like the lie I tell myself, “This Quarter Pounder will be good for me! It won’t be that bad.” But it isn’t good for me. It IS that bad.)
“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
Paul tells young Timothy to run from those things that demand his attention, his time. Run from his cravings that are rooted in his youthfulness, that is, in his inexperience and naiveté that he thinks they are worthy of his time; worthy of indulging in.
Instead, he should run after being right with God and others. He should pursue faith in the One who created him and loves him and wants the best for him. He should seek to love, and be in a state of peace, within himself, with others, and with God.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”
Our flesh (human desires) are opposed to the things of the Spirit (Godly desires). If we walk with God . . . spend time in His word, allowing the Spirit of God to guide us, speak truth to us, transform us into the person God created us to be . . . then we will be less prone to seek our fleshly desires. They are mutually exclusive. We can’t seek one and pursue the other.
“. . . training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age . . .”
God desires that we live lives that are controlled by the Spirit of Christ who lives in all those who have called on Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Lives that are represent the righteousness and holiness of God, even in this present age that neither seeks after Him, nor knows Him.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
If we remove those ungodly and worldly passions, we’ve got to fill that void with something. Paul tells the church in Philippi to fill themselves with those things which are:
- true (inline with God’s revealed word),
- honorable (bring honor to God, to you as an image-bearer of God),
- above mediocrity.
– Do you know what your teen is filling their time, heart, mind, soul with? Are you engaged in that area of their lives? Is any of it unhealthy – either in content or in the amount of time, attention, and money they spend on it?
Spend some time asking God to help them find true contentment, true peace, true joy in a relationship with Him rather than in social media, video games, or even school, sports, or work. These are incredibly important, but if Jesus isn’t their greatest love, their greatest priority, they are missing out on true contentment and purpose.
Pray that God will give you opportunities and wisdom to teach this to your teen.
Do you need to reorder some priorities in your own life? Ask God to help you set the example in your own life, so that they see that knowing and following after Jesus is your greatest passion.
Let me encourage you to (re)engage in these areas. Have conversations with your teen. Be intentional. Set boundaries/limits.
-What are some practical things you can begin to do this week to foster that relationship? Make a list.
-Are there any “truths” that your teen holds to that are in conflict with God’s truths? If the social media “influencers” that they regularly consume content from are not following after Jesus, it is likely that your teen is absorbing lies rather than truths.
Ask God to help them find REAL truth. He wants to reveal it to them, but they need to seek it out. Ask God to help them know Him so well that lies are easily seen and rejected.
-Evaluate your priorities as a parent. For yourself. For your teen. Have you given your teen the message (intentionally or unintentionally) that sports, school, work, etc. are more important than they should be?
Have you invested far more time, attention, and money in these pursuits for you teen than you have in helping your teen pursue Jesus and following after Him? (I’m talking about more than just taking them to church once a week.) In just a short amount of time your teen will be leaving your home and on their own. What they value and hold as a priority then is being shaped by what you value now; what you are helping them to see value in. Is it Jesus?
Ask the Lord to help give you wisdom in helping shape your teen’s values and priorities.