MhAX Blog with Nick Costello
Evangelist, youth communicator, school assembly speaker, seminar and conference speaker Nick Costello tackles issues facing youth and young adults.
Nick Costello has experienced the glamorous rock star life millions of teens only dream about. Success didn't fulfill his search for inner peace, security and purpose in life. His bad attitude and fast lane lifestyle of sex, drugs, rock and roll nearly destroyed him. One night, Nick surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. God miraculously redeemed and transformed his life.
Today, he ministers as an evangelist, youth communicator, school assembly speaker, seminar and conference speaker. He's calling christians of all ages to an uncompromising walk of obedience to Christ. In public schools, he's equipping kids to make healthy, right life choices. Respected leaders say he's a "dynamic, relevant, passionate, challenging, inspiring communicator!
Visit Nick's website
God desires we walk in holiness and godliness. It's a decision every Christian needs to make. The Apostle Paul taught, "Do not be conformed to this world, this age, fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs, but be transformed, changed by the entire renewal of your mind, by its new ideals and its new attitude. (Romans 12:1,2 AMP) Basically, we are to think like God thinks, live like God desires and be like Jesus, not like the lost world around us. We copy Jesus, not the lost world. God says, "Hate what is evil, cling to what is good." (Romans 12:9 NIV) "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." (Col. 3:1,2 NIV) Do you hate the evil God hates and love what he loves? How about your music and entertainments? If it's full of the evil and ungodliness God hates, you should hate it, too. It's an ungodly earthly thing that isn't from heaven above. God says don't give it your attention or let your heart and mind find pleasure in it. God doesn't give us commands to stay away from some things that are off limits for Christians. He isn't trying to make life misearble. He knows what has the potential to corrupt you, pollute your heart and mind and draw you away from living a godly and holy life. Is your heart and mind pure? It won't be if you fill it with the ungodly filth this world offers through music, entertainments, books, magazines, video games etc. You can be saved and participate in these things, but you grieve the heart of God and open the door of your heart and mind to your arch enemy the devil. Disobedience opens the door of your heart and mind to Satan. Obedience to God shuts the door on the devil and sets you up to enjoy all God has for you. God promises inner joy, peace, blessings and happiness for those who obey him. I am not saying God won't bless you to some extent because he is full of mercy and grace. But, I do believe you will not experience the full Christian life God has for you when you choose to honor and obey him. Your choices to disobey will make your road to heaven pretty bumpy. We obey God because we love Him, not because we want to simply follow him because he says so. "Happy are people of integrity who follow the law of the Lord. happy are those who obey his decrees and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil and they walk only in his paths." (Psalm 119:1-3 NLT) God says when you stay away from bad company, sin, evil and wickedness and do what he desires, you will be happy and blessed. You're blessed when you meditate on God's Word and allow his Word to shape your thinking and life. Do you need to change the way you think and act today? Do you need to get your mind more focused on God? Ask him to help you and he will give you all the grace you need to do so.
We live in a society where when it comes to sex, anything goes, with anyone, anytime, anywhere and anyway. This is a sex-crazed society. The Bible says, "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral." (Heb. 13:4 NIV) God says NO sex until after you're married. Disobey and there will be a price to pay. There's some horrifying, life-changing consequences for practicing sex before you're married. The price teenagers are paying today for a few short moments of risky pleasure are: unwanted pregnancy, lingering emotional scars, fear, guilt, contracting an STD or AIDS, heartbreak, embarrassment, rejection, feelings of being cheap or used and the list goes on. It's foolish to take chances. It's worth it to wait! here are a few guidelines to help you honor and obey God.
1. Write out your decision to abstain from sex until marriage. post it where you see it every day.
2. Stay away from friends engaging in sexual activity.
3. Stay away from sexually orientated entertainments, music, books, magazines
4. tame your tongue. Don't talk dirty or talk sex talk.
5. Don't allow someone to manipulate you for their own selfish pleasure. if they love you they will honor your decision to abstain.
6. "I love you," doesn't mean it's okay to have sex with someone.
7. Be careful how you dress. Be modest. Don't show your goods off to the opposite sex.
8. Check out your date. Date someone who wants to abstain, too.
9. Don't be a flirt.
10. Stay away from drugs and alcohol. They deaden your ability to resist unwanted advances
11. Set strict limits on your sexual activity and stick to them.
12. Girls... make your intentions clear to the opposite your body is off limits and you're saving yourself for the one you'll marry and after you're married.
13. Guys... treat girls with respect, kindness and gentleness. Be a man of integrity, honor, respect and compassion for the way you treat women. They aren't sex objects.
14. If you choose to date, don't put yourself in an environment which offers you privacy to fool around. date in groups and in public.
15. Don't assume sex outside marriage is harmless fun. It's not.
16. Don't give into peer pressure. keep a good self image. take a stand for what God desires, not your friends.
17. It's normal and okay to be a virgin.
18. If you've blown it, make a new commitment to stop having sex. Start over and mean it. Get accountability.
19. It's a lie that condoms are not 'safe'.
20. The only guaranteed safe sex is to wait until after you are married.
When I was a kid learning to swim I was assigned a buddy. My instructor called it the 'Buddy System'. If I got into trouble, my buddy was there to help me stay afloat and not drown. Every Christian needs to have a buddy to help them stay afloat in the rough ocean of life, especially during high school and college years. The pressure to conform to what the lost world offers is huge. Resisting peer pressure is very difficult. You need a buddy to help you navigate safely through the the waves of peer pressure that churn at you.
As we continue to look at the lives of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego Daniel Chapter 3, we know they faced pressure to bow down and worship the king's gold statue of face death in the blazing furnace. My best guess is that they stood strong because they encouraged each other. Maybe, they reminded each other of scripture that spoke of God's faithfulness to deliver them, sang some worship songs together, prayed to God together or simply encouraged each other to be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.
Do you have a buddy like that? They are strong Christians who love Jesus. They're invaluable. They help you stay strong when you are weak, hang in there when the going gets tough, encourage you to persevere and believe God for an answer to your prayer, to not give up trusting the Lord, to help you resist sin and simply come alongside and walk with you through your Christian life. You need a buddy! I thank God for the buddies I have.
A Christian buddy can help you say NO to compromise with God. Perhaps you have some good friends. Maybe they're not a Christian. If not, sometimes they probably will not understand why you say NO to doing things you know aren't right for a Christian. A good Christian friend will support you and understand. What is a good friend? They won't put pressure on you to do something you know is wrong or unhealthy for you. They won't be silent when they see you walking in some sin. They will care about you, love you no matter what and be there for you when you need them, be honest with you, won't gossip about you and pray with or for you. If you don't have a good Christian buddy, ask God to give you one! Lone ranger Christians run a high risk of sinking under the rough seas of life no matter how strong they may be in the Lord.
Have you ever made the decision like I have when I was younger, to give into peer pressure when someone puts pressure on you to do something you know is wrong for you as a follower of Jesus? Just because someone or everyone is doing something, doesn't make it right for a Christian. God warns, "Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong." (Exodus 23:2)
We have been following in Daniel 3, the lives of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were sold-out champion worshipers of God. They faced serious pressure to bow down and worship King Nebuchaddnezzar's 90 foot tall, gold fake idol when they heard the sound of the music. Everyone bowed down but these guys. They didn't follow the crowd and do wrong by worshiping another God. They refused, knowing it meant certain death in the blazing furnace.
Music was used to capture the hearts of the people and prepare them to bow down and worship the idol statue. All the Christians in the crowd bowed down and broke the first commandment of God, "Do not worship any other gods besides me. You must never bow down to them, for I, the Lord your God am a jealous God who will not share your affections with any other God." (Exodus 20:3) Anyone or any thing you worship other than the one true Jehovah God of the Universe is to disobey God. It's called SIN. An idol can be anything you love more than God or anything God asks you to surrender to Him and you can't. It could be a job, sports, hobbies and... even MUSIC! Is your music your God? If you can't give ungodly music up for God, it could be an idol.
Why don't believers resist peer pressure? Fear! When you take a stand for God, perhaps you won't have to fear death, but maybe rejection, verbal or physical abuse, being ignored, never getting invited to a party, sitting alone in the lunchroom or loss of so-called friends, maybe even Christian friends. You'll suffer for doing what's right in God's sight but God has a blessing in store for you. "But eve if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don't be afraid and don't worry. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life." (1 Peter 3:14-15)
When you give into peer pressure, you give someone else power over your life. You can become their personal puppet on a string. They can pull the strings of your life controlling what you do. You give them permission to control your thinking, decision making and behavior. Some people even stop thinking for themselves. Do you want to be someone's puppet on a string and let them lead you in the wrong direction and even towards sinning? That's not what a good friend is all about.
Search your heart right now. Are you giving into peer pressure to do something you know God says isn't right for you? Do you say NO when asked to go to an R-rated movie, drinking, doing drugs, lying, stealing, cheating, bad attitudes, watching TV programs full of ungodly themes and messages, full of profanity, sex scenes and more things God hates? How about your music? Can you stop listening to the same ungodly music your lost friends or even Christian friends listen to in order to honor God?
Whatever it is, if you fear what your friends may think, say or do if you turn from it and say No, more than than fearing what God thinks, you need to change your thinking. If you say you love Jesus, you need to trust Him to give you the grace you need to live an uncompromising, obedient walk with Jesus. It's a fear that says, "God, above anyone or anything else, I give you the reverence, honor, respect and affection you rightly deserve. I am in awe of you, I love you, you are all-powerful, holy, almighty and awesome."
Is it more important for you to honor and obey God or compromise? Can you trash your ungodly music even if your friends make fun of you because what God thinks means more to you than anything else in your own little world? Can you say, "I won't do it," to something everyone else is doing you know grieves the heart of God?
As we continue in the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel Chapter 3, we discover they didn't indulge in anything that had the potential to distract them away from God. They guarded their hearts. I suspect they watched out for each other and encouraged each other to remain faithful to God, even in the face of extreme peer pressure. They never gave into peer pressure to bow down before the statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Have you made the decision to not give into peer pressure and do what you know God says isn't right for you as a christian, even if it means losing friends, suffering persecution and being made fun of?
Just because everyone is doing something that appears right, it still may be wrong for you as a Christian to do. Even your Christian friends may do wrong things. You follow God, not people. God warns, "Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong."(Exodus 23:2 NIV)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego faced some serious peer pressure. They faced being cremated alive for disobeying the king's order to bow down and worship his statue representing him and his evil kingdom. They knew the commandment of God, "Do not worship any other gods, besides me. Do not make idols of any kind, whether in the shape of birds, animals of fish.You must never bow down to them, for I, the Lord your God am a jealous God who will not share your affections with any other god." (Exodus 20:3 NLT) If you worship anyone or anything more than God it is an idol and it is sin. If God asks you to give something up for him and you can't, it sits as an idol on the throne of your heart. It is sin. An idol can be your music. Do you love it more than you love God? Can you give up your ungodly music for God? if not, you have a heart problem.
Think about this. If you can't give it up because you are afraid of what your friends may think, even Christian friends, you have given into peer pressure. Maybe you don't want to be made fun of when you tell them you do not listen to the same ungodly music they listen to anymore. You have chosen to honor God and give Him all your worship. You suffer for doing what is right in God's sight. God will reward you for it. At the end of Daniel 3, you'll see that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego where eventually blessed, promoted and rewarded by King Nebuchadnezzar. Actually, because they obeyed God and didn't bow down to the statue, God rescued them from the blazing furnace and worked in the heart of the king to bless them. But, they didn't obey to receive a blessing and reward. They chose to obey because they loved God and wanted to bring glory to Him. Have you made that decision?
A morning paper told a tragic story. A young family finished their evening meal and headed off to bed. Mom had forgotten to turn the gas stove completely off. As the family slept, poisonous gas crept into the bedrooms of each family member. With each sleeping breath, they unknowingly inhale the deadly, poisonous gas. Before the home exploded, the whole family had died in their sleep from breathing the toxic fumes.
What toxic fumes are you slowly breathing into your body, the home God lives in?
You may not be sleeping, unable to detect the danger, but your heart and mind has gone to sleep, unable to hear the Holy Spirit warning you of the potential danger you face by allowing the poisonous fumes from Satan’s kingdom to seep into your heart and mind through the messages in your ungodly music.
You say, “I don’t listen to the lyrics. I just like the beat. Nothing bad is happening to me or to my relationship with God.” I say to you… nothing YET! God warns us in the Bible we need to guard what we allow into our hearts and minds. There is a spiritual and physical principle that is true in life. You reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow. God warns us, “Don’t be misled. Remember, you can’t ignore God and get away with it. A man (or woman) will wrap just the kind of crop he sows. If he sows to please his own wrong desires, he will surely reap a harvest of spiritual decay and death, but if he plants the good things of the Spirit; he will reap the everlasting life which the Hoy Spirit gives him.” (Gal. 6:7,8 LB)
This is God’s truth. It doesn’t matter what you believe. God says if you plant things into your heart and mind or feed on things he calls evil, wicked and ungodly; you will suffer spiritual, emotional, mental and even physical decay, destruction and even death. But, if you feast on the things that honor and please God, clean, healthy, God-honoring food, you will find the life of God grow in you. You will experience him in a deeper and more intimate way. You will please God.
God loves you. But, does he love the music you listen to? Are you allowing the poisonous fumes of Satan’s kingdom to seep into your heart and mind or the good things of God? Is your music healthy food or rotten food?
How healthy are you spiritually? Do you have wrong thoughts run through your mind? Is sin looking attractive to you? Are you struggling emotionally or in some relationship or in your relationship with God
My friend… check out your music. What is it saying? What seed is being planted into your heart and mind? Perhaps… you struggle because the seed is poisoned. You say nothing bad is happening to you?
Nothing….YET! Don’t ignore God if he is speaking to you about your music and entertainments. Honor God and get them right with him!