Today we have the conclusion of an Amish father’s talk to a group of youth and parents.  In continuing the theme of facing temptation, in this section he examines the importance of church community.

You can read the previous parts here:

Part 1: Pop Music

Part 2: Cell phones & the Internet

Part 3: Temptation & Character

In the Rules of a Godly Life it says if you desire to lead a holy and God-pleasing life and to attain eternal salvation after this time, then you must measure your whole life by the word of God, as the only standard of faith and conduct, and let all your thoughts, words, and deeds be in accord with the same as commanded by God.

This has really given me much to think about over time.  If we just could gain control of our thoughts first, then our words and deeds would come so like our thoughts are.

But most of us go about this backwards and certainly I include myself.

We tend to focus and give the most attention to our deeds because this is what people see and that is what builds or destroys our reputations.

The old saying ‘actions speak louder than words’ seems to be true.  It seems sometimes we are not as careful with our words as with our deeds.  But with our thoughts it seems for me anyway that we tend to let them run all over the place like a bunch of rowdy little children.

My question again is does popular culture help or hinder our thought life?  Or should we spend more time reading material like the Rules of a Godly Life?  Here again we must make the choices.

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I would like to ask another question.  I promise it won’t take too long but I feel this is very important.

My question is, is our ability to make good choices enough to keep our hearts and minds safe?  Is it enough to do the best we can and think that with a little willpower and with good choices all will be O.K.?

It is true we must make our own choices and the Lord wants to help us.  It is also true that we are weak and since other people cannot fight the battles in our minds for us we must fight them for ourselves.  But we don’t have to by ourselves.

Yes we must decide for ourselves to better our thoughts and behaviors.   Even still the truth is we will never overcome our bad habits and compulsive behavior on our own and with our own willpower.

The question is does the Lord even want us to try to overcome by ourselves and with our own willpower, even when seeking his help.

The Bible says already in Genesis it is not good for man to be alone.  It also says ‘Pray for one another and confess your sins.’  We could go on with more Scripture but I would like to read to you two devotionals that have been very meaningful to me.

Along with illustrating how we need each other I think these devotionals will point out the blessings of living in church community where people look out for one another with love and discipline.

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The one reads like this:

A church family will help keep you from backsliding.  None of us are immune to temptation.  Given the right situation you and I are capable of any sin  (1 Corinthians 10:12; Jeremiah 17:9; Timothy 1:19).

God knows this so he has assigned us as individuals the responsibility of keeping each other on track.

The Bible says ‘Encourage one another daily so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness’ (Hebrews 3:15).  A related benefit of the local church is that it also provides the spiritual protection of godly leaders.  God gives the shepherd leader the responsibility to guard, protect, defend, and care for the spiritual welfare of the flock.  We are told their work is to watch over your souls and they know they are accountable to God.

Satan loves detached believers.  Unplugged from the life of the church body, isolated from God’s family and unaccountable to spiritual leaders because he knows they are defenseless and powerless against his tactics.

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The other one reads like this:

Proverbs 11:14.  Where no counsel is the people fall.  But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

One of the marks of America is its individualism.  We talk about a “personal Savior” and about “my calling”.

Yet the Bible was written to communities about communities.  It was meant to be lived and expressed as a people not a person.  According to Scripture each individual has something vital for the whole community.  It is one of the oldest schemes of our spiritual enemy Satan to isolate people.

He knows that isolation will cut us off from the wisdom that multiple perspectives bring.  Even in professional athletics where athletes should know the game, the role of coaches is vital.

We may remember major Christian leaders who have fallen publicly.  When we learned more about why, we found that they were essentially doing things alone.

We all need a community around us that helps us to see the blind spots that we won’t see on our own.  This is what makes victory sure.

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The question again is this:

Does being addicted to the internet, which is very self-indulgent, bring us together or pull us apart?  Studies show social media tends to isolate.  In New York City, a city of millions living close together, 40 percent of the people live alone!  Does the popular culture of music that is not worship, and competitive sports that is really only about beating the other guys, and the immoral chatter of social media, and the searing and scarring images of porn strengthen our faith and the churches, or weaken them?

Our choices will make a big difference not only for us and our children but also for all future generations.

The choices are ours and we will have to live with them.

It takes true humility to admit our weakness and to seek help.

It also takes true humility to be a help to others.

We really need each other.  We need family and friends and church to encourage and influence each other and to be good examples.  Girls, your decency and appropriate behavior will be a very good influence for a youth group like this.

This life is a struggle as long as we live.  But with the good Lord’s grace we can all do better.  Grace isn’t just a cover for our sins.  It is also the power to repent and do better.

I wish grace to all of you and especially to these wonderful and precious young people.

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