Summary: Many students graduate from their faith when they graduate from high-school. Why? This sermon addresses that question and shows how the spiritual discipline of fasting can help keep students from falling away from God when they are suddenly on thier own
This lesson was developed for a senior high student ministry and was presented in PowerPoint format. If you would like the original PPT file (about 1 meg without video clips), click on “all sermons by Robert Fox” at the top of this page, then click on the “contact” link and shoot me an email.
Slide Graphic – Disney’s Mulan, training to fight
Slide Text - 30Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:30-31)
In all honesty, how strong of a Christian are you? I mean, when times get tough, when the hard decisions come, when it’s time to stand up and be counted, when it’s time to be different, when it’s time to fight for what’s right, when it’s time to love the unlovely, do you have what it takes? Me – I’m not nearly as strong as I wish I was. Let me tell you about a time in my life when my spiritual wimpiness almost had disastrous consequences.
From the day I was born, my parents had me in church every time the doors were opened. I know that is an over-used phrase, but in my case it was literally true.
I was saved, honestly saved, when I was eight years old. I did the Vacation Bible Schools, the youth groups, and the church camps. I was as involved as anyone could be. But I was passively involved. I was there because my parents brought me. I didn’t resist it or resent it, but I was, frankly, just riding the wave. I didn’t have to have spiritual discipline in my life – my parents were my discipline in all aspects of my life. They told me when to get up, when to eat, when to go to school, when to turn of the TV and do my homework, when to go to church, and when to go to bed.
When I left home and went to college, there was no one to tell me when to do these things, and, frankly, I floundered. On the spiritual front, I didn’t get plugged in to a local church. I didn’t really think about it much one way or the other – I had other things on my mind. But I drifted away from God. I had no spiritual will and strength of my own to keep me from drifting.
At my college, they didn’t have Baptist Student Union or Campus Crusade for Christ. They had a group called the Navigators, led on our campus by a man named Jim Cuneen. Jim was a very cool guy who loved to play soccer. He and the other Navigators, most of them students, would play every Saturday morning. Whenever they saw someone walking by stop and watch for a minute, one of the Navigators would invite that person to join in. They played hard, and they were really very good (several were missionary-kids who had grown up overseas), but the thing you noticed right off was their attitude. They never got mad at each other, they never cheated, they never cursed or even raised their voices. Just good, clean, they-way-it-ought-to-be fun.
Then, after then game was over, they would huddle up for a quick prayer. Nothing long winded or particularly holy – just thanking God for the day. Then, they spent a little time just chatting and getting to know you. If you showed any interest, they would invite you to their small group meeting, but you got the feeling that this wasn’t why they were talking to you. They seemed genuinely interested in you, regardless of whether you came to their meeting or not. Either way, you got an invite to play the next Saturday.
I eventually came to their small group meeting. They were studying Philippians. By a startling coincidence, this is the same book you are going to be studying when D-Groups start. If you were interested in memorizing scripture, you could pick up little bundles of business-card stock with verses printed on them. And you would be encouraged and held accountable for them. You were encouraged to have a daily quiet time and develop spiritual disciplines “on your own.” Taking charge of your own spiritual growth.
I have never been as disciplined as I should – ever. I think Jim must have wanted to shake his head and write me off as a lost cause. Honestly – I picture that time in my life as sitting at the top of a steep slide, inching forward. At any second I could find that I had slid too far and plunge down the slippery slope. While I never made much upward progress in college, those disciplines, those spiritual habits, were all that kept me from sliding over the edge of the abyss. Jim poured his life into me, and never saw any progress. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that, without Jim showing me how to seek God on my own, I would have taken the plunge into a purely worldly life, totally separated from the things of God.