Last November 16, 2014, I delivered a message/sermon during our English Worship Service. Almost a year later, I decided to post it here on my blog…
For today’s message, I got the inspiration from the adult bible study that we attended a few weeks ago at Del Monte UMC for Ablaze promotions. So, Jessica and I went to Del Monte before their service so we could insert flyers to their liturgy, after that, we sat down on one of the pews and waited for the service. Then, DS Dan Miranda, randomly asked us a question, “How does a youth remain pure nowadays?” Jec and I looked into each other and said, “Yeah. How does a youth remain pure nowadays?”
Yes, it’s simple as that, but it doesn’t mean that it is easy. But before we delve deeper into that, tingnan muna nating kung saan at kung papaano na namumuhay ang isang kabataan sa panahon ngayon.
We, the youth, live in an era where:
– premarital sex is starting to become normal, some of you might know someone who engages on such activity.
– where you get mocked by being a virgin and not having a vice or two (like drinking or smoking);
– where mistress-themed film are hit (like The Mistress, No Other Woman, The Legal Wife) **Please don’t get me started with GMA 7’s My Husband’s Lover.
– where wearing statement shirts like “It’s Not Rape, It’s Snuggle with A Struggle” is a thing
– where you get bullied, mocked, or even made fun at for being a Christian
– where people are “opening our minds” and saying that we should not let the church influence us on how to live our lives;
Those were just a few examples, but amidst of all these, we go back to the question, how does a youth remain pure nowadays? Ecclesiastes 12 verses 1 to 3 says, “Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” 2 Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky. 3 Remember him before your legs—the guards of your house—start to tremble; and before your shoulders—the strong men—stoop. Remember him before your teeth—your few remaining servants—stop grinding; and before your eyes—the women looking through the windows—see dimly.”
Many young people nowadays get caught up with the pleasures of the world. Some of the young people started partying when they were in high school. On the average, Filipino youths start drinking alcohol at the age of 16 or 17. However, there are also many cases when children as young as 12 years old are already drinking alcoholic beverages. Nakakalungkot pong isipin, di po ba?
I assume that most of us here, if not all, have our own social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr. Am I right? When you log in, and scroll your timeline, what do you usually see? Selfies; Facebook posts where young people rants about the society, government, school, work or even their “love life”; posts like this:
shared by a twelve year old. Com’on, really? When I was twelve, all I think about is, how I will pretend that I’m taking my afternoon nap so I could play with my friends outside.
While writing this message, I asked my orgmates, why do we do the things that we do even though we know deep in our hearts that what we’re doing isn’t actually good or right? A lot of them mentioned, “Peer pressure”.
Peer pressure is when someone influences your decisions around what you should or should not do. What happens when you don’t give in to these pressures? Rejection.
According to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,
the 3rd and one of the most important needs of a person, next to Safety and Physiological Needs, was the Social or Affiliation need – need to belong, to love and be loved, participate in activities that create a feeling of togetherness.
EC Nevis studied individuals in China and found out that the Chinese Hierarchy of needs differ:
For them, It seems that sense of belongingness must be satisfied first than their physiological needs. So what do these graphs mean? What does the sense of belongingness has to do with the issues of the youths?
People nowadays, not just youth, always want to be “belong” to be “in” and not be left outside of the circle and be bullied. So, people do the things that they do even though they know that it isn’t right. But the bible clearly says, in Romans 12:2, and 1 John 2:15-17
There have been a lot of sermons, bible studies, lectures about these particular verses and yet we remain apathetic and chose to ignore this.
Ang mahirap sa atin, pinipili lang natin yung gusto nating sundin. “Ay ayoko niyan, mahirap yan, dito lang ako, wala naman akong nilalabag sa ten commandments ee”,. Tapos may makikipag bargain pa kay Lord. “Lord, nag serve naman ako sa inyo last Sunday, nag tithes ako, nag turo ng Sunday school, kumanta sa choir, palampasin mo na to oh.”
I remembered one of Pastor Dave’s sermons about sin. Think, walis tingting. Pag isang piraso, madali siyang putulin, pag isang bundle na, mahirap na. Just like sin, Sa unang beses na gagawin mo, madali pa siyang baliin o putulin. Pero pag paulit ulit mo na siyang ginagawa at hindi pinuputol, (repent, repeat, repent, repeat) dadami siya ng dadami at kakapal siya ng kakapal hanggang di mo na siya kayang baliin dahil kinasanayan mo na. Noon una, hindi ako maka relate. Pero kinalaunan, nagkakaroon ka ng “Aha!” moment tapos, “Oo nga, totoo nga, mahirap nang baliin, sanay na ee”. Pero, hindi pa huli ang lahat.
Marami akong “Aha!? Moments. Tulad nung nagsisimula pa lang akong umattend dito sa Puno at mag Sunday school. Kami yung original na “The Clay Group”. Bilib ako sa dedication ni Kuya Ace, kasi alam namin sa sarili namin na hindi kami yung “easy” students – late kaming dumarating, ang kaunti na nga lang namin tapos may mga times na 2 o 3 lang yung umaattend. Madalas sinasabi sa amin ni Kuya Ace na “Matthew 6:33, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”, akala ko talaga dati, sinasabi lang niya yun, para maguilty kami at umattend ng mas maaga o regular. It all made sense now. Hindi naman kasi lahat ng natututunan mo ngayon, ma-aapply mo agad mamaya o kinabukasan. Nung high school ako, di ko pa siya ma-gets ee. Ano lang ba ang pinagkakaabalahan ko noon, school, girls scouts, friends, and family. Ngayon, I have school, na sobrang stressful; organizations, sa sobrang demanding, internship, and sometimes I do volunteer work; church – MYF tapos CI season na; then friends and family. Sabi ko kanina, ang demanding ng org, lalo na ngayon na may event kami and I’m the Marketing Committee Chair, they want to set up meetings on Sundays since halos lahat kami, either my class o internship pag Saturday at hindi nagmi-meet ang schedule naming pag weekdays. I said to them, “Guys, sorry, Kahit after classes or evening meetings na lang, wag lang Sunday” Tapos tatanungin kung bakit. Sasabihin ko magsisimba ako. Either ang sasabihin nila, “Sus, wag na. Simba simba pa” or pagtatawanan nila ako. Dun na mag-aaply yung priorities ko. Then the “Aha!” moment – Seek ye first. Mula noon, hindi na nila ako kinulit na mag meeting ng Sunday. Kumbaga sa planner, fully booked na yung Sundays ko. Hindi ko rin pwedeng gawing rason na kaya kaya hindi ako nakapag aral sa mga subjects ko ay dahil busy ako sa church. Sabi nga ni Kuya Mark Puno noon, (non verbatim)“you guys being here at church is not an excuse why you don’t excel on school, ministry niyo rin ang school or your academics. The Lord gave you an opportunity to study and you don’t give your best?” Kaya hindi ko pwedeng maging excuse na kaya hindi ako nakapag aral para sa exam ko, kasi nag-meeting ang MYF o nag practice ng choir. Despite of my busy schedule, I still do have my free time to do my acads. Hindi dahilan na kaya mababa ang grado ko sa General Psychology exam ko, ay dahil late na ako nakauwi galling sa care group. Mababa ang grado ko dahil mas pinili kong manood ng TV series o matulog kaysa mag-aral.
The Clay Group, opened up doors of opportunities for me – opportunity to meet more people and to serve the Lord through different ministries. Kuya Ace encouraged us to have at least one ministry. I joined the Chancel Choir where I met lots of amazing people and I used to teach the Vesper Sunday School. Then I became an active MYF member and, here I am now, joyfully serving the Lord with all my heart together with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Encounter God Retreat with the other church council members opened up something deeper and more meaningful into my life. Because of EGR, we started to have our own care groups; we regularly meet every Saturday evening at TeaGen. Kamustahan, about our week, school or work, and about our SLAP verses. We’ve been very honest with each other, especially with my sisters, Jec, Levi and Ruth. During the week, if one of us is struggling about something, we’ll just text or call then pray for each other. We’ve been accountable with each other ever since. Very fitting since, the MYF’s theme for this conference year is “Accountable Discipleship, from the text,
Philippians 2:1-4 ““Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Malaki po ang naging tulong na nagkaroon ako ng mga taong mapagkakatiwalaan ko at mapagsasabihan ko ng aking mga pinagdadaanan. Before, I lived two different lives. I have my school friends, where I could be as reckless and carefree as I can be; and I have my church friends where I have to be stiff and guarded. Dati, kung may ginawa ako na alam kong di tama pero nag enjoy ako at ayaw ko na masermonan o mapagalitan, sasabihin ko siya sa best friend ko, tapos mag-aagree lang siya sa akin, tapos masaya na ako. May posibilidad na ulitin ko ulit siya, okay lang naman siya ee. Pero pag pinagsisisihan ko yung bagay na ginawa ko, sasabihin ko kay Ate Karen at maghahanda na ako na tatanggapin lahat ng sermon niya, napagsabihan ako, napagalitan ako, pero natuto ako.
Open po kami sa family, nagkekwento ako ng mga nangyari sa akin sa school, sa organizations ko, kahit crush ko, nakekwento ko sa kanila. Pero, sadyang may mga bagay na alam mong ang mga taong ka-edad mo at pinagdaanan ang mga pinagdadaanan mo ang makakaintindi sa iyo. Yung alam mong hindi ka huhusgahan sa maling ginawa mo dahil alam nila na pinagsisisihan mo na iyon at hindi mo na muling babalikan at uulitin pa ang mga bagay na iyon.
Isa sa mga kinatatakutan at ayaw na maranasan ng mga kabataang tulad ko ang mahusgahan. So, most of the times, we keep it to ourselves and we only tell them to those people who we think who understands. Nakakalungkot isipin na dahil sa ganitong bagay, may naliligaw ng landas at sa maling “company” napapasama. Pero, kung sa church namin mahahanap ang mga taong mapapagsasabihan namin ng mga ganito na hindi kami huhusgahan, malamang mas maraming kabataan ang mas makakaiwas sa tukso ng mundo.
Those were just some of the stuff that we have to deal with our day to day lives. Yeah, some of you might say, “So what? During our times, it was worse than that, we also had those struggles, it may be a little different from what you guys are experiencing now, but it’s the same nonetheless. It’s not even a struggle, it’s just a phase.” The difference is, during your time, when your mom says “no”, automatically, you’re not gonna do it; in our time, when our moms says “no”, we’ll try to reason out. For example, school night, napagabi ako ng uwi, so si mama, “Anak, nagpapagabi ka na naman. Di mo ba alam kung gaano ka-delikado sa kalsada. *blah blah blah*. Tama naman si Mama, Kaso, rarason ako na, “Eh mama, kailangan kasi sa school project/paper, after class lang yung free time naming ng groupmates ko, wala na kaming time gumawa”. Gem = 1; Mama = 0. Are the youth nowadays, more rational or more ma-rason?
I already mentioned this last thanksgiving night, during the youth’s presentation, before, there’s only black and white; pag sinabing mali, mali. Now, there’s black, fifty shades of gray, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet then white. Ang mali, unti unting nagiging tama. Minsan obvious nang mali, nararasonan pang maging tama.
You could blame it on peer pressure, the media, the society, but as long as we’re not doing anything about it, we are also at fault.
Going back to the question, “How does a youth remain pure nowadays?”, I believe that proper mentoring or discipleship together with the Word, a youth can remain pure, despite and in spite of the things happening around him/her. Sakto nga po yung theme for this year’s anniversary, from Galatians 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
In behalf of the young people here in our church, we are asking for your help, from you, leaders of the Church, the young adults, men and women of this church. Huwag po nating hayaan na sa labas humanap ng comfort ang mga kabataan natin. Marami siguro ang magsasabi sa inyo,”Naku, yang discipleship na yan, para na yan sa inyong mga kabataan tapos na kami diyan”. Pero paano nga po kami magdi-disciple kung kami po ay hindi na-disciple?
Yes, we do have our families, pero, iba pa rin ang mayroon kang spiritual leader, a mentor. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you may also be tempted.”
I wouldn’t be standing in front of you, if didn’t have my family to support me and someone who pushed me to read and study the bible, join a ministry, if I didn’t have someone who is accountable for my well-being. I know that I’m still a work in progress, a diamond in a rough. And I am very thankful, especially to Kuya Ace, Ate Karen, my Sisters, Jec, Ruth and Levi na nandiyan kayo para i-check ako. Hindi niyo ako hinayaan na ma-fall sa temptation.
Before, I was too proud to admit that I need someone to guide me. But after series of mistakes, craziness upon craziness, stupidity upon stupidity, during our care group meetings, I realized that I actually needed one.
To the youth, 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity”. And remember just because we can, doesn’t mean that we should. Think drunk driving, yes, you can drive, but it doesn’t mean that you should. It’s not safe for you or for whatever or whoever you might encounter on the road. Like the old saying goes, better safe than sorry. Some of you might say, I don’t want to waste my life living a boring one, I wanna live my life to the fullest, experience everything, YOLO! (By the way, for those who doesn’t know what YOLO means, it means, “You Only Live Once”) But come to think of it, are you living your life for Jesus? And also, think, “Nago-glorify ko ba si Lord sa mga ginagawa kong ito?” Think.
To God be the Glory! In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen!