Summary: There is a difference between REPUTATION and CHARACTER.
1. Navigating through the TEENAGE YEARS has become really hard and difficult for this generation.
2. Really it seems, more than any other in history.
a. The pressures, the temptations, the surroundings… all increasingly becoming harder & darker & more difficult.
b. Researchers have determined there are at least 7 UNIQUE PRESSURES facing this generation today.
#1 – CONSTANT MEDIA PRESSURE – previous generations didn’t have to deal with the massive overload of information coming through movies, music, video games, etc.
#2 – MORAL CHOICES FORCED AT AN EARLY AGE – Sex education is being forced upon kindergartners in some schools and at least one out of every 5 Jr. High Student has had sex.
#3 – HOPELESSNESS WHAT FUTURE?! – Kids are growing up wondering what the next 10 years will bring. Will they afford college? Will social security be there? Jobs?
#4 – SOCIETY WITH NO MORALS – the US has no more bearings of what right and wrong are. There are no common set of values.
#5 – INSTABLE OR NON-EXISTENT HOME LIFE – There are more definitions of what a home should look like than ever before. Marriage is being redefined, the roles of the mom, the dad, event the children are all under attack.
#6 – MORE FREEDOM – with the pressures on mom and dad too, more kids are able to run free and literally discipline themselves.
#7 – GET IT NOW SYNDROME – Since everything can be had instantly and without delay, kids are growing up without the ability to deal with pain and delay and denial. So they only demand more.
ADD TO THESE The enormous PEER PRESSURE that’s out there and you see, our kids, they need our time & attention & support.
Proverbs 22.6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
THAT’S NOT JUST for us as parents, but it’s also for us as a church…
• We have the responsibility to help TRAIN our kids.
• Literally, “dedicate, instruct, & prepare” them for the way they should go… the way of the Lord! Why?
Proverbs 14.12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
• There are many alternatives out there but the way is the way of death, destruction… devastation.
SO: TRAINING… INSTRUCTION… PREPARATION… Really, we all need that, not just the teenagers running around today.
• We ALL face pressures & stresses
• We live in a HOSTILE world. A world that does not know God, a society that does not honor God.
• The pressures you guys face as adults are very similar, even if we use different words to describe them.
• THIS world wants to press you into its mold… conform you to its image while stripping you of your spiritual foundations! Tough!
SO AS WE OPEN THIS FIRST CHAPTER… where is Daniel?
• He’s taken captive right in the middle of a HOSTILE WORLD.
• One of the best & brightest Israel had to offer, not captured
• AND Babylon then, like the world today, had a systematic way of brainwashing & Deprogramming their subjects.
• FIRST, they wanted to change their THINKING PATTERNS. Give them a new language, new studies, new values.
• NEXT, they changed their SOCIAL CUSTOMS. Trying to wine and dine them into enjoying the luxuries of life.
• FINALLY, they tried to change their RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS with new names and pagan idolatries.
NOTE: That’s very much how it works today. But we can resist.
Romans 12.1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.
Romans 12.1-2 (NCV) So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship. 2 Do not change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.