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Miranda Writes: Old Mans Dream, Young Persons Vision




by Omar Miranda



When I was a kid, I remember sitting at my grandfather’s knee with my other cousins and listening to him talk about his hopes and dreams. He told us about all the experiences he had gone through while growing up. My grandfather was in World War II, and he had seen some crazy stuff. But, through it all, he had a specific vision for his life that always directed him. No matter how cloudy, crazy, or confusing things got, he could always come back to the clear, clarifying vision that carried him through his worst moments—all right, enough “c” words! You get the point: visions are important. You’ve got to have a plan. My grandfather always told us, “Kids, if you don’t have a destination, how will you know how to get there and know when you get there?”

That’s what I want to talk about this week: my vision for Insight. My vision gives a clearer direction to the mission that I discussed with you last week: “Know Jesus, love Jesus, live Jesus!” The writer of Proverbs tells us that “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV). Not to sound overly dramatic, but I agree! Insight magazine is more than just a magazine that you read during church and throughout the week. It is a magazine that can help you to live effectively as a Christian with power, purpose, and peace. But more important, Insight can introduce you to Jesus, the only One who can give you eternal life.

Right after Jesus returned to heaven, the Christian church was formed. People were gathered together in Jerusalem waiting for the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus had promised to give them. When the Holy Spirit swept over the disciples, they started preaching in many languages. This took place at the time of the religious festival called Pentecost, and it amazed the crowds and caused quite a stir. People thought that this new group of Christians was all drunk, but Peter set them straight. I want to focus on something that he said to them. Considering the situation in our world today, I think it bears repeating: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men [and young women] will see visions, your old men will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17, NIV).1 Although this was spoken by Peter long, long ago, I believe it applies to us as well. Like Martin Luther King, Jr., I have a dream! Well, I call it a vision, and here it is:

Vision:

To educate, equip, inspire, advocate for, and encourage you and those who love you by:

1. telling you about Jesus, introducing you to Him, teaching you how to love Him more and know Him better, encouraging and training you how to think and live like Christians, and to effectively share Him with others, and

2. helping those who love you to honestly, consistently, and effectively connect with you.

I also believe that you, as youth, have a vision for yourselves, your families, your friends, your schools, your communities, and even the world! You know who else had a vision for you? Ellen G. White, look at what she wrote:

“Preachers, or layman advanced in years, cannot have one-half the influence upon the young that the youth, devoted to God, can have upon their associates.” “With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Savior might be carried to the whole world.”2

Let me be clear: I am convicted that you need Jesus today more than anything else. First, you need a real and vibrant saving relationship with Jesus right now. Additionally, you need to know what you believe, why you believe it, how to live it, and finally, how to explain and share it with others in such a way that you are perceived as distinctive and different, but not weird.

But that’s not all, you are hungry! You are hungry for something to fill the hole in your soul. A lot of you are spending your time spinning your spiritual, relational, and emotional wheels looking all over this world for the joy and peace that only living a life with, and in, Jesus can give you. In the process, you are getting yourselves involved in sin, unhealthy and dysfunctional habits, relationships, lifestyles, disease, and addictions. Ultimately, you are unable to be the best that you can be for God and for yourselves. So instead of offering your bodies up to God as a living sacrifice in order to test God’s pleasing and perfect will (see Romans 12), you end up offering your bodies up to sin, unhealthy/dysfunctional lifestyle patterns, bad habits, disease, addictions, the world, and ultimately the devil. What a waste! It breaks my heart!

You, as a group, are not only hungry, but many of you are also hurting and need connection. You need to connect with parents, teachers, youth pastors, Pathfinder leaders, and adults who are not only unconditionally loving toward you, but who are also striving to live a godly, joyous Christian life themselves, and will connect with you consistently and honestly about their own life experiences, both past and present.

Each of you has six burning questions that you want answered:

• Security: Who can I trust?

• Identity: Who am I?

• Belonging: Who wants me?

• Significance: Do I matter?

• Purpose: Why am I here?

• Competence: What do I do well?

Over the years I have seen the results of what Chap Clark in his book Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers rightly terms “systematic abandonment.” You can feel the lack of emotional, physical, and spiritual support when the people who are most important to your healthy development don’t do their jobs correctly.

This leaves you naturally angry, feeling abandoned and gun-shy about wanting to have any kind of close relationship with anybody—much less someone who represents an authority or parent figure in your life. This can leave you with little interest in wanting to know about, much less build, a relationship with God.

In order to understand why you have such a difficult time connecting with God, you must understand a crucial principle first. John summed it up: “We cannot see God. So how can we love God, if we don’t love the people we can see?” (1 John 4:20, CEV).3 You can’t love and trust others when you have never in your life felt loved by others. You see, when we are loved well, we learn that we can love, are loveable, and that we are secure, significant, and safe. By extension, the world and others are safe. But if you are not loved well, if you’re thrown to the wolves to fend for yourselves, like your generation has often been, then you will quickly learn that the world and others aren’t safe.

The diagram below is based on Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” model. I need to let you know something right up front: Abraham Maslow was an avowed humanist! That means that he believed the human mind could achieve whatever it could conceive. He also believed that we as human beings were slowly getting better and stronger. He also didn’t see any problems with sexual activity before marriage because of his (and many humanists’) position on God. By the way, many humanists are either atheists (they don’t believe in God) or are agnostics (they don’t think God cares about or gets involved in what happens to humans). Because of this belief, they tend to believe that people can do what they want to do with their own bodies—as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody (does this sound familiar?).

In response to these faulty beliefs, you and I, as Christians, know that God is very clear on three issues:

1. God is the author of all that is good, creative, and powerful in us. We can do nothing without His power to both begin the process of creativity and continue until it’s completed. We owe all we have and are to God, and God is totally and 100 percent in charge of all things at all times—that’s called omnipotence!

2. The Bible is clear that there is nothing good in us by ourselves. We as human beings are totally evil—in fact, the more we’re left to ourselves without God, the more we become evil, violent, and selfish (see Romans 1:18-32). In fact, if it wasn’t for God, we would ultimately destroy ourselves!

3. God has been clear with us about how He wants us to use the gift of sexuality that He has given us. He wants us to have sex only within the context of a loving, lifelong, committed marriage between one man and one woman. If we use this gift in any way other than God has intended it, it becomes a curse!

I cite this model of understanding what drives us as human beings, because, overall, Maslow was very keen and insightful in his observations of human beings. In all my years as a counselor working with teenagers like you along with their families, I have found this model to be one of the best ways to explain why and how people do what they do, feel how they feel, and think what they think. Let’s take a look at it, and you can tell me if you agree.

At which level do you find yourself? If you are like a large majority of teens, you’ll find it difficult to reach the top layer (morality, creativity, problem solving, etc.), because you haven’t been able to get the bottom four layers of your needs met effectively and consistently.

If you have been used, abused, ignored, and done wrong by enough people, you will believe that no one cares about you . . . so you in turn won’t care about yourself, you won’t care about anybody else, you won’t care about stuff—you just won’t care. You live in a world and culture that is image-rich, feelings-focused, and all about the here and now. This makes it hard for you to think about the future, and you can have a difficult time making discerning, mature, wise, long-term decisions.

With that said, as I’ve discussed above, the foundation must be laid to connect you with adults who are serious and sold-out to Jesus, and who are consistent, honest, and effective in how to give you a rock-solid, vibrant connection and daily experience with Jesus. Then, that must be coupled with unconditional loving support and transparent mentoring and modeling of a joyful Christian life from all the adults, or as many as possible, in your life. Last, there must be restorative, unconditional love, couched within appropriate and correct teaching, to strengthen, educate, and inspire you for an effective, joyful Christian life of service to God, your Christian brothers and sisters, and finally, the world!

When that is accomplished, you will have the best and greatest opportunity for ministry to this world that is broken, beaten, and bruised by sin. I know it’s a tall order, but with God’s help, we can and will do it.

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omiranda@rhpa.org; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org.

In Christ,

Omar Miranda, editor, Insight Magazine

Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

2 Ellen G. White, Messages to Young People (Nashville: Southern Pub. Assn., 1930), pp. 204, 196.
3 Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.

Omar Miranda is the editor/director of Insight Ministries and a Christian counselor and with more than 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.





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