I’m Switching Blogs.. please follow me at danielcolston.com !

Hello My Beloved Blog Followers,

I have loved blogging at teenagepastor.com for the past 14 months and have been so honored by your membership. I am writing to let you know that I am starting a new blog. So please start following my new blog which is danielcolston.com . I am transferring some of my most popular blogs from here and will be upping the ante on the amount and quality of content that I will be writing. I look forward to continuing a relationship with you and hope you will follow my new blog.

God Bless,

Daniel Colston

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Spiritual Survival

Did you know that in the Amazon rain forest there are about 100 different ways to die. The leopard is feared by a lot of people simply because it’s fast and stealthy, but if you’re in the Amazon you’ll probably die by something else such as a 15 foot anaconda, a school of piranhas, a poisonous frog, a poisonous plant, or a crocodile, just to name a few.

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Copyright by Konstantin Leonov | forest of memories

Spiritual life is much like life in the Amazon; you have to always be conscious of your safety. Take a look at these dangers that are warring for your soul.

Satan

I Peter 5:8 “Control yourselves and be careful! The devil is your enemy, and he goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to attack and eat.”

A culture that rejoices in sin

Romans 1:32 “They know God’s law says that anyone who lives like that should die. But they not only continue to do these things themselves, but they also encourage others who do them.”

Bad preaching

2 Tim. 4:3-4  “3 The time will come when people will not listen to the true teaching. But people will find more and more teachers who please them. They will find teachers who say what they want to hear.  People will stop listening to the truth. They will begin to follow the teaching in false stories.”

Bad friends

I Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.”

Addictions

Your own sinful heart

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”


If these verses don’t describe life here today then I don’t know what does. We live in a time where it can be so hard to live in a way honoring to Jesus Christ. So how do we survive? How can we keep from getting bogged down by the sin and temptations around IMG_0492us? Obviously our only hope is in Jesus and his work on the cross and then subsequently in our hearts, but HOW do we keep Him at the forefront of our lives?

Romans 12:2 is the answer. It says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

In order to resist temptation and live a godly life in this age you need to train your mind to think biblically. And you can only think biblically if you’re continually informing yourself about what the Bible says! Put simply, your only hope is Jesus and the way to have Jesus is to read the Bible. If you’re not reading a devotional or going through the Bible with some form of consistency, then you’ve already lost the battle. That’s the hard truth, but admitting it is the first step towards spiritual survival.

Scripture is the water of spiritual survival. There is no living without it. Shelter, food, and fire are all great, but they are meaningless without water. In a general scenario, the human body cannot survive without water for more than 3 days. What makes us think we can survive spiritually without spiritual sustenance?

I can’t wait for January 1st because as a youth pastor I’ve been able to acquire 50 devotionals that I’ll be handing out to our teenagers to read. Each day has a verse and a spiritual commentary on it. Our young adults (college kids) are reading through their own devotional as well. The challenge I will lay before them, and before you, is to give God at least 2 minutes of every day in 2015 for devotional growth. That’s not too much to ask. After all, God gave you time to begin with. Shouldn’t you give a little back?

When one begins to rest in the presence of God through devotional times they begin to see how amazing He is and they wonder how they ever got on without such times. They first come for salvation, but then get the fruit of the Spirit. If God is like an ocean to be explored, most people are just walking on the seashore.

South Dakota Mission Trip Debrief: Was it worth it?

If you ever go on a missions trip IMG_2611and it’s easy then it’s not really a missions trip. A mission trip involves helping people and helping people always involves giving them your best. You sacrifice your time, energy, and resources so that another can benefit from that sacrifice. This week has been exactly that; sacrifice, long days, sweat, tears, brokenness, carrying our respective crosses so that we could be a reflection of Christ to the world.

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Tribal regalia worn by a young girl at the monthly “Pow-Wow” dance.

Everything about this trip was supernatural. There were times when team members gave all of themselves and then kept giving. Mike literally mopped the whole trip. Kim, Steven Patrick, Maddie, Tyler, and Ariel all endured the loss of a loved one and kept serving. Some went without eating in order to make sure that everyone we were ministering to was able to eat. We all committed to paying $975 to come on this trip. All of us experienced ingratitude and kept loving unconditionally. Some of us went through the day with only a few hours of sleep the night before. I have a lot of respect for our leaders who, on any given day, had to make about 200 big and small logistical decisions. We all had kids trying our patience to see just how Christ-like we really are.They tried pushing our buttons to see if we would  react the way they are used to seeing people react.

We had teams at four different sites. Below are only the stats from our particular site.

  • We served about 100 children a day for 5 days.IMG_2643
  • We helped them build 76 toolboxes.
  • We fed 800-1,000 meals.
  • We built 1,000+ crafts.
  • We played basketball, jump-rope, and volleyball with the children for hours.
  • We gave away thousands of dollars of stuff including sewing machines, basketballs, snacks, books, tools, toolboxes, birdhouses, kites, and more.
  • We taught them Bible stories and shared the Gospel of Jesus.
  • We modeled Christ-like behavior.
  • We held children in our arms who literally wouldn’t let us go because they longed for the affection.
  • We built relationships with people who may never see us again, but they will remember how we loved them.

So was it worth it? If we were in it for the “thank you” responses then probably not, but we weren’t in it for that. God gave his love unconditionally through the sacrifice of his son. We gave our service unconditionally. Regardless of how it was received it was freely given (and we all know that there was a lot of positive feedback for what we did-the smiles on those faces was enough for me). In our giving it freely we were an extension of God. We are the light of the world, and we shone pretty bright this week. This trip was so worth it I know most of our team members are making plans for next year.

Peek-A-Boo With Angels

There are about 106 of us here from Roanoke spread out over 4 sites that are all part of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The Standing Rock Reservation is the size of Connecticut and spans across parts of North and South Dakota. Our different teams were at the communities of Cannonball, McLaughlin, Bullhead, and Little Eagle. Harold and I stopped in to see how eachIMG_4921 site was doing and to see if we could help them in any way. At Cannonball we spoke with “Pastor Boots” as he is called. He is a Cherokee Indian who has moved here as a missionary and planted a church called Tipi Wakan, which means “Sacred House.” At Bullhead I played basketball with some teenagers. Everyone there is good at basketball because it’s almost all they have to do.

Unemployment here is 75%. Alcoholism affects 95% of the people. If you walk into the local grocery store here every end cap is lined with beer, vodka, and wine. Child abuse and child neglection is rampant. We pick kids up at their house and then at the end of the day they tell us to drop them off across town. Prenatal alcoholism is a big problem. We see lots of kids with deformities and deficiencies because of their mothers drinking or doing drugs while pregnant. I wonder if it would be so hard to just plop a factory in the middle of the reservation and provide a bunch of jobs. People here aren’t motivated because they don’t see a reason why they should try. They’re some of the most beautiful, appreciative, and friendly people you’ll meet, but they’re all struggling with hopelessness. I would too.

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2 of the 4 girls who wanted to play Peek-A-Boo with my camera and I.

Today our team ministered hands-on for 8 hours.We had a 30 minute drive to the site where we
prepared for the day. Then the team went and picked up the teens and children with the three 15-passenger vans. It was a full day of playing basketball, teaching crafts, sewing, serving dinner, teaching Bible stories, making toolboxes, showing love, and being the hands and feet of Christ. 

My team had their fair share of difficulties. The AC in the gym we were in wasn’t on. To say it was hot and humid would be an understatement, and there were 100+ kids in there. The bathrooms weren’t working except for one toilet in the women’s bathroom so they had to guard it in order to prevent another toilet overflow.

We knew it was going to be a trying week and some of us didn’t really know what to expect. FLEXIBILITY has been our theme thus far and it has helped us to roll with the punches and adjust to changes.

At the end of the day we were tired, sweaty, and ready to pile back into the vans for our 30 minute drive, but before we left the Lord allowed for us to meet with someone. A young man, about 18 or so, came wandering in to use the bathroom. He couldn’t of course because the bathroom wouldn’t work, but when I told him that he just murmured non-words back. It wasn’t long before I began to realize that this guy wasn’t coherent. We finally got him to understand that he had to leave and got him outside so we could lock up and leave, but he was confused and seemed lost. I noticed a scar on his arm indicative of intravenous drug use. I have never seen anyone so out of it before. As I stayed close to him so that our team could load up the vans and get back to the hotel, the drugs started to make him hostile. Thankfully Roger, a pastor who has also served as a police officer for 25 years was there to de-escalate the situation. I felt deep pain and sympathy for this young man trapped in a cycle of depression, addiction, and hopelessness. He, like so many others, is trapped in what seems like an inescapable situation.

If you thought about all of the problems here you’d get depressed. If you tried to fix everything you’d never stop working. We can’t fix everything, but we can sure share God’s love and let that work its miracles. My purpose behind writing this blog is just to create awareness of what’s going on. Thanks to some people researching this site out 10 years ago our association in Roanoke has had 10 great years of ministry here. This is one of the neediest places in America. It’s like a third-world country. One of the ladies whose been on this trip 8 years said it best on the van ride home, “It’s a complex issue that can’t be solved even by all 106 of us here.” Jesus said it even better, “The Harvest is ready, but the laborers are few.”  

Same Country, Different World: Ministering to Native Americans in South Dakota for the First Time

As I sat in the back row of our large 15-passenger van I looked at the flat South Dakota hills that seemed to go on and on. I felt sorry for our driver who was just as tired as the rest of us after a flight, a three hour layover, another flight, and now a 5 hour drive to our site. In total it was around 14 hours of travel, but we told ourselves that was okay because we gained an hour in the air.

But it was a good time to catch up on all the advice from the trip veterans who have done this exact trip every summer for 8 or 9 years. They told us that the Native Americans on the reservation have a sense of hopelessness and often act out by committing suicide, falling into depression, and becoming addicts to drugs and alcohol. There are a lot of problems. They don’t have a work ethic because they get large government checks every month (we’re here the last week of the month because that’s when they’ve run out of food). I’d probably be the same way. Why work for money if you can get money just sitting around? There is child abuse going on. There is widespread poverty. Only 17 % of kids graduate high school.

I’m broken by all that is wrong with this situation. How is it possible that we have starving, hurting, HOPELESS people like this in our own country? I’m even wondering about my part in all of this. In my coming here to minister to the Native Americans, am I helping or enabling them? Why has so much evil been oppressing them when our government has gone to such great lengths to help them? In a week I’ll be back to my home where Wal-Mart is 10 minutes away and I could pick 10 different Starbucks to go to. The closest Starbucks to here is 110 miles away. In a week I’ll be enjoying luxury and comfort while there are hundreds who don’t know where their next meal will come from.

Yesterday I got some answers to all of these questions. We travelled about an hour away to McIntosh, SD where there is a cowboy church. I was very humbled by the passion of the pastor there. His name is Vance. He is originally from Florida, but has moved here to South Dakota and said that this is his home. Most missionaries I’ve come into contact with always call the field the “field” and call their place of origin home, but he has called his mission field his home. He said he will die here and be buried here. He has left comfort, convenience, family, and friends behind. My seminary friends would call this the prime example of “incarnational ministry” where one follows Jesus by completely entering another person’s world and becoming like them in order to win them over. He won’t take a missionary salary because he wants to instill in the Native Americans a work ethic and he does that by being a full-time mechanic and a part-time missionary with full-time hours. He’s offered his church as a safe house for a boy whose mother was going to beat him up. He’s helping people get off drugs and alcohol. He is gaining the trust of the tribal council. He is IMG_4890planning the building of a trade school where he’ll train the young people how to do construction, carpentry, and other things. He’s flipped a bar and turned it into a restaurant that is community oriented and is run by his wife.

Pastor Vance gave us some really good advice on how to minister to the Native Americans. We are not going to change them in a week. They most likely won’t remember what we taught them, but they will remember how we made them feel. They will remember feeling loved. They will remember connecting with us. I was told there will be little boys and girls who just won’t let you escape their embrace because they long for affection that much. We can be Jesus to them. We can bring them the best news in all of the world; that Jesus loves them so much and heaven awaits if they follow Him. We can give back in small ways that will lead to big changes. We can stand in the gap to prevent abuse and encourage love. We can be incarnational for a week and keep coming back. We can point people towards Pastor Vance and his family who are in this long-term and will see the long-term results.

Coming Off The Mountain

I miss church camp already. It’s so much fun! While we were at camp we experienced dynamic preaching, emotional worship songs, and a strong sense of community. We ministered to senior adults, children, and the needy in the community. We laughed and cried together. We felt God’s presence as real as the South Carolina heat on our backs. It was nothing short of amazing!356

It’s been exactly one week since we got back from church camp. If you’re like most people then your passion for God hasn’t stayed as peaked as it was a week ago. That’s okay! You shouldn’t feel guilty for coming down of the mountaintop experience. What you need to focus on is allowing that mountaintop experience to create sustainable passion for God that will help you stay afloat as you trudge along through the valleys.

Here is one truth that you can’t get away from: Life is made up of ups and downs. If you don’t have low points in life then you’ll never have high points either. While that’s a reality that we all acknowledge, there is a better reality that is just as true to you and I. GOD HAS GIVEN YOU POWER TO GET THROUGH THE VALLEYS.

We live in the valleys of life. These are the typical days. Days when we spill milk, get annoyed at our family and friends, slam our fingers in the car door. Days when we’re late for class, we get benched and watch our teammates play, we want to cry for no reason at all. Days when we often forget how good God is and how much he loves us.

Psalm 23 says, Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

The mountain is great, but you’re called to live in the valley. Let the huge surge of grace and love that you experienced on the mountaintop sustain you through the valley. Trying to create an experience similar to camp or the mountain will not work unless you know what the essentials were that were so powerful for you. And here are what those essentials were: powerful music, dynamic preaching, Bible study, enthusiasm, fun, unified community, and God’s presence.

Read the Bible and see what or who is your guide, strength, comfort, and Rock. Jesus says he will never leave you or forsake you. He says he is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He says he will take care of you. He says he is the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1). He has never been unfaithful to those who follow him.

If you try to go through the valley alone you will take on severe damage to yourself and those around you, but often in the valley times are when we fail to trust God the most. Why is it that when we most need God we most easily forget Him?

If you’ve just come off the mountain then let that high of God’s grace sustain you for a long time! Keep feeding the fire of passion for God by reading His words and spending intimate time with him in prayer. If you’re going through the valley right now then look up and remember your Savior is never far away.

Porn: The Active Bomb In Your Home That You May Not Know About

When it comes to talking about people and their addictions to porn, what startles me the most is how complacent people are about it. They seem to think it’s just a stage they’ll go through and then be just fine or that it won’t take them farther than they wanted to go, keep them longer then they wanted to stay, and cost them more than they ever wanted to pay. The reality is that porn will destroy your life. I’m not just talking about if you have a moral 5027307219_6084c38928_bfailure or if you’re in ministry and it ruins your career. I’m talking about how an addiction to images will be so hard for you to get away from that you will literally think you need it. It will consume you. It will destroy your marriage or hopes of a marriage. It will distract you from all that you were meant to be and do. It will spiritually shipwreck you and cost you an eternity apart from the Lord. This isn’t just a scare tactic I’m supposed to do so your parents will like me. Read this testimony from Joe Dallas to see for yourself.

“I remember clearly, and with inexpressible regret, the night I walked into an adult bookstore and entangled myself in the use of pornography. I was a 23-year-old former minister at the time, well on my way toward a fully backslidden state, and I was considering whether to indulge in the many sexual sins that I had, at that point, only allowed myself to imagine. That evening in the spring of 1978, my decision was sealed when I embraced what I now call the “dark magic.”

The “magical” qualities of pornography were obvious and immediate. One glance around that roomful of graphic sexual images sent a rush through my system very much like a narcotic response. The longer I gazed, the more intoxicated I became, and over the next few hours the porn brought me temporary escape and exhilaration. I’d found a new drug, and it seemed to work beyond my expectations.

The darker aspects of this newfound magic soon became clear to me. I revisited the same porn shop nightly for the next two weeks. I then spiraled into the use of prostitutes, an affair with a married woman, homosexuality, and a five-year habit of reckless, degrading sexual practices. It began with the use of pornography, a product I continued to consume during my backslidden years, and which I have come to regard much the way an addict regards a drug — a destructive vice I have to strenuously avoid, always remembering its lethal impact on my life.[i]

The Problem with Porn.

According to covenanteyes.com, 68% of young men and 18% of young women view porn at least once a week.[ii] 7 out of 10 teens hide their cell phone activity from their parents. 56% of divorces involve one party having an “obsessive interest in pornographic websites.”

If you’ve ever wondered why some guys can’t seem to stop watching porn even though they’ve tried to get off of it, it’s because porn is actually like a drug. It’s just as addicting as marijuana, cocaine, or alcohol. This may be hard to believe but here’s why. When someone chooses to look at porn their dopamine (chemical reward system in the brain) levels shoot up. This creates a “need” for dopamine again. Actually your dopamine levels can rise when you know you’re about to eat a donut or ice cream or anything else you enjoy. In addition to having a biological felt need for porn through dopamine levels one also becomes attached to whomever/whatever is pleasing them sexually. This happens through one’s mirror neurons which cause attachment. This is the same cause for a couple to grow in their love for each other after having had sex.

For Teens

If you’re struggling with viewing porn then you need to actively run away from it. Notice I didn’t say fight it. I said RUN. The Bible talks about beating an addiction to sexual sin by simply getting away from it, not trying to have victory right beside it. In other words, you probably won’t beat your addiction to peanut butter if you keep surrounding yourself with it. I Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee sexual immorality because it’s a sin against your own body.” Run away from it because you’re hurting yourself!!

The way you beat this addiction is to remove it from your life through radical amputation. Jesus said, “If your right hand offends you cut it off because it’s better for you to go to heaven with only one hand then go to hell with both hands.” In other words, if a smartphone is keeping you from Jesus then get rid of it. Whatever is keeping you from God’s will right now, get rid of it! Another thing that will help is to memorize Scripture verses that deal with this issue. Some good ones are:

I Thessalonians 4:3-5 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Hebrews 13:4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

Job 31:1 I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.

For Parents

Parents, if you don’t have an accountability system to check up on your son’s smartphone, computer, tablet, etc. then chances are high that he could be exposing himself to porn. I’ve heard parents say that they check their teens’ phone before they go to bed. I’ve read in Teenology[iii] that Jim Burns makes his kids dock their phones in the living room before they go to bed.

The sources available for porn are so many I can’t list them all here. It’s scary. I’ve heard parents say that their kid was exposed to it on Instagram (soft porn). My wife and I tried out another app which showed video clips for a while. She saw porn on it on her phone so we both deleted the app. It just wasn’t worth keeping. The internet obviously is a threat.

Reality is that if you’re not actively fighting to protect your children from evil then evil will reach them. Whatever it is you need to do to guide your teen to sexual purity please do it for their mind, future marriage, life, and soul. Solomon told his son a story in Proverbs 7 that outlined the temptations and consequences of sexual sins. Maybe you could read through that with them. Safe eyes is a great resource. You can get it here http://www.internetsafety.com/safe-eyes-mobile-iphone.php .

If anyone has fallen prey to this sin before there is hope. Jesus can do the supernatural act of cleansing you forever from this. It’s not okay to have a complacent view of this damaging sin. Rather seek the Lord and he will continue to redeem you. Keep in mind I John 1:9 which says, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

[i] http://www.equip.org/articles/darkening-our-minds-the-problem-of-pornography-among-christians/

[ii] http://www.covenanteyes.com/2013/02/19/pornography-statistics/

[iii] Teenology. Jim Burns. Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis,2010.