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Terry Benge

Terry is currently serving the Lord as Executive Director of Salem4Youth Ranch Ministries. Terry and his wife Stacey have two children. Their son Nathan serves as a Deputy Sheriff and their daughter Jordan is currently pursuing her Master’s in Biblical Counseling. Terry currently preaches on the Ranch and has worked with teenagers for over 25 years as a coach, mentor and Youth group leader. Terry loves hunting and the outdoors.

 

Gabriel Jackson

Gabe is currently serving the Lord in the vocational training department of Salem4Youth Ranch as a wood working instructor. He has been involved in ministering to young people since he was a teenager – mentoring, teaching, church ministry, camps, retreats, and residential ministry. Gabe attended Lincoln Christian University and Columbia International University, graduating from CIU in 2002 with majors in both Bible and Youth Ministry. He and his wife, Nikki (also a graduate of LCU and ISU with degrees in Jr. High Education and Bible), are busy with 3 children in gradeschool, jr. high, and high school. Gabe is an avid fly fisherman and enjoys spending time outdoors with his family as often as possible.

 

Stan Risinger

Former Chairman of the Salem4Youth Board of Directors, Stan is currently the Area Director of Men’s Discipleship for the West Central Illinois Man In The Mirror Ministry. When Stan came to faith in Christ God livened his spirit for evangelism and discipleship both locally and internationally. Stan is married to Julie they have four children and are blessed with five grandchildren. Stan and Julie have a love for missions, hospitality and family.

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As parents I often wonder – when we are conversing with our children do we always have a consciousness to be truthful? Is defining the truth and teaching the truth always your main goal when you are in a heated conversation with your teenager?

Your first thought maybe to answer the obvious way, “of course I do.” Yet, if you really stop and consider how you are communicating your desire, or your demand, or your instruction, or your correction is it based on, grounded in, built on, revealing the absolute truth? 

This may seem crazy hard. This may even appear to be a ridiculous thought. But just pause for a moment and think. Be willing to consider the following.

Here on the Ranch, truth is something we are seeing all the time being determined by today’s teenagers simply based on how they feel toward something or someone. Their mindset seems to be the determining factor as to what they believe is true and truth verses what is not true or not truth. If your teenager thinks that marijuana is not harmful and is perfectly okay to smoke and you tell him not to use it or he can’t smoke it… he believes the truth is… you are wrong and you are dumb. In his mind the truth is… you just don’t want him to do it because you don’t like it or you don’t understand anything about it or you are just being religiously absurd and trying to control him.

Today’s teenagers have lost all sense of direction regarding how to discern truth, absolute truth. Many people might say that this is nothing new. This idea of truth being whatever I think it is or that truth is based on what I believe, this is not new. Those people would be correct, however, the problem today is the synergistic effect of our sin; we do what we do because we want what we want coupled with social media, a biased liberal educational system and the television just to name a few. The ability to determine what is real, what is true, what is fake, and what is a lie has become very difficult. 

The world at large tells you that you, as a parent, are harming your children by indoctrinating them. Just try (after reading this blog) looking up articles written by “professionals” on google about why indoctrinating your children is bad business as parents – according to them. 

Dr. Steve Lawson has written a book called “The Moment of Truth” it is a powerful read. Convicting and true. Read it from cover to cover. It hits this topic like Gallagher’s sledgehammer to a watermelon. 

In his book Dr. Lawson says “it does not have to be believed to be truth. Truth is how anything really is. Truth is not how things may appear to be. Nor is it how we want things to be. Opinions are not truth.”  

Today’s teenagers are fixated with the idea that if they believe something then it must be absolutely true. Do you see where this is taking us? Satan is the Father of lies the great deceiver. Author Lawson points out, “God is the final judge of all truth. Therefore, sin is whatever God says it is. Heaven and hell are exactly what God says they are. Salvation is what God says it is. Morality and the family are what God says they are. The Scripture says, “Let God be true though every one were a liar” (Romans 3:4)  

Our younger generations are past just being primed for false teaching. The IV needle is already in place and the bag of lies is hooked up and flowing straight into the hearts and minds of today’s teenagers! 

John 14:6 Jesus said “I Am the Truth.” Dr. Lawson goes on to say ignoring the truth always leads to undesired consequences. Remind me again “why truth is important? Because life has consequences for being wrong.” 

How about when we think it’s cute that our children grow up thinking there is an Easter Bunny only later to find out there really isn’t one. At which point we then try to slide in a little religious purpose for Easter. No wonder they rebel against our t-shirt christianity. 

Or when our children are trained to leave a cookie and a glass of milk for Santa Claus for bringing them gifts. When we teach our children at a young age that if they do enough good things to outweigh the bad things they will make it from the naughty list to the good list, then Santa will deliver them gifts and things they want. If you think this isn’t true then remember back to a time when they opened presents one Christmas and didn’t get what they had hoped for. How did they behave? How did they react?

Parents, don’t be so shocked that they don’t understand what true grace and mercy look like today. Don’t seem surprised that their heart is well trained for idols based on performance. Don’t be perplexed as to why he just doesn’t seem to recognize the depravity of his sinful nature. As parents we lie to our children blatantly and at times unintentionally for various reasons. One big reason is out of peer pressure – so as not to be the only stupid parent that might rob their children of those great childhood experiences. I mean after all…look at me, I turned out okay and I believed there was an Easter Bunny. Did I really turn out okay? Did you really turn out okay in God’s view? Or would you admit that the majority of the scars you bear – like me – are not of Christ-likeness but from self inflicted wounds?

We say we don’t want our children to go through some of the things we had to in the school of hard knocks, yet we set them up for it from the very beginning by not teaching Truth. Look, I know that I just used a couple of really sensitive examples of holiday deception and probably lost a lot of you. That is not my desire, to lose readers. But the Spirit of God compels me to share the truth with you. If I lovingly and carefully share the truth with you from the beginning, then we can begin growing and maturing and living freely because we have the truth, we know the truth and we believe the truth. “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” the Apostle Paul said.

Many parents have had a discussion with a rebellious teenager about the dangers of drugs, particularly marjuana. Most of the time we argued from the position of “it’s illegal” and/or “it’s dangerous”, “it’s not healthy.” All of these were legit reasons at one time though they weren’t really founded on truth. Marjuana today is being legalized at an incredible rate for the love of money. Doctors and researchers are telling us that it helps medically with all kinds of conditions, and that might be. However, it gives the impression that it’s not harmful any longer but good for you. So the basis, the foundation of all my arguments as to why he shouldn’t smoke weed has been washed away right from under my platform of authority. 

What if I had built my position on the foundation of Truth? What if I had talked about it from the realm of Exodus 20 and how we are slaves to something. We are either slaves to sin or we are free bond slaves through the blood of Christ. What if we had taught our children from Deuteronomy 8:1? Or Proverbs 2:1-22? Or Proverbs 3:1-8 “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” 

You see, he may not want to listen now, he may not adhere to your teaching at all but where, in all of scripture, does it say if it doesn’t work then try something else? 

NO! Stick to it, stick with the TRUTH! The truth will set him free! There is also another possibility you and I must consider when a child isn’t living the way we are teaching. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because he doesn’t see you and I living what we’re teaching. Do you believe in the definition of Truth? Have you surrendered all to the Truth? Does our walk in the light of the Word of God match our talk? Many times in mine and Stacey’s life I’m afraid I would have to and will admit to you … we didn’t. Our walk did not always, and even often did not, match our talk. 

Food for thought.

May The Lord, forgive us. May The Lord guide us. May The Lord bless us as faithful parents. Are we faithful? Are you faithful to the Truth? Or are you faithful to the culture? 

Until next time, 

Terry 

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