The Pull of Peer Pressure

“Throw in your lot with us, and we’ll all share our money” – My son, don’t travel that road with them or set foot on their path, because their feet run toward trouble and they hurry to commit murder. Proverbs 1:14-16 HCSB

As a student pastor I witnessed many teenagers who were enticed and followed the road of peer pressure. It is hard to resist the pressure of friends encouraging one to participate in an activity. They promise fun and fulfillment but it often brings pain and destruction. We all want to be accepted and be a part of the group. Many will do just about anything to be included and feel accepted.

Solomon warns that when one feels the pressure to follow the crowd he should run the other direction because that road will only lead to destruction and death. One should study God’s Word and seek God’s direction in life to resist the temptations that often comes from acquaintances.

Challenge: The music group Casting Crowns has a song titled “Slow Fade” that says, “Be careful little eyes what you see; Be careful little feet where you go; Be careful little ears what you hear; Be careful little lips what you say; Black and white turns to gray; When you give yourself away there is a price to be paid.” Peer pressure is like quicksand or a sink hole that opens up and pulls you in. Before you know it, you are trapped and can not get out. Listen to the song on YouTube at

Thank God for Parents

Listen my son, to your father’s instruction, and don’t reject your mother’s teaching, for they will be a garland of grace on your head and a gold chain around your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9 HCSB

I am very fortunate to have grown up in a home with a godly mother and father. My father was a pastor and I was at church every times the doors were open. Not only did they take me to church where I learned about God and His love, they taught me godly principles at home and modeled the type of life I should live.

Solomon is commending all sons (and daughters) to listen and follow the instruction of his or her parents. This reinforced the principle of the family teaching Biblical wisdom as seen in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. The fifth commandment tells us to “Honor your father and mother” (Exodus 20:12). A lifestyle of wisdom based on Biblical teachings from parents will be as valuable as a garland of grace or a gold chain. Both were symbols of honor.

Challenge: If your parents are still living and set a godly example for you, give them a call and tell them how much you love them and appreciate the way they taught you to live a life based on Biblical principles. Thank God for influential parents.

Know It All

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7 HCSB

At times through the years my children have accused me of being a “Know-It-All”. When my children were young, they would sometimes respond with the age old question of “Why?” which would evoke my response of, “Because I said so.” As a joke, my children gave me a driver’s license that has a picture of Albert Einstein on it. The implication was that I thought I was as smart as Albert Einstein.

Nobody likes a “Know-It-All,” who tends to be a person that is closed minded and thinks he is the only one who is right. Solomon calls that type of person a fool who despises wisdom, learning, and discipline. A wise person fears the Lord and seeks wisdom from God. Realistically, God is the only One who “knows it all.”

Challenge: Fear the Lord. Only God can provide true wisdom. God is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. Discipline yourself. Don’t be a “Know-It-All.”

A Wise Man

A wise man will listen and increase his learning, and a discerning man will obtain guidance – for understanding a proverb or a parable, the words of the wise, and their riddles. Proverbs 1:5-6 HCSB

When I was a young student, sometimes I got in trouble for talking instead of listening. Once I was sent to the principal’s office for not raising my hand and talking without permission. The teacher was teaching me the importance of listening and waiting until I was called upon to talk. I once heard someone say, “When I am talking, I am not learning.” It is important to listen if we are going to learn and gain wisdom.

Solomon said that a wise man will increase his learning by listening. The man who listens and discerns what is right will gain guidance and direction. Wisdom is the knowledge and ability to make right choices. The Explore the Bible Quicksource teaching resource says, “Wisdom involves choosing to live by God’s commands; knowing and applying God’s truth; practicing discipline; living with integrity;accepting instruction; listening well; and being a lifelong learner.”

Challenge: Be a wise person and listen well. Listen to the wisdom you can find in God’s Word. Wisdom is a worthy goal. It will help you to make right choices that will give you a life that honors the Word of God.

Seeking Wisdom

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel. For learning what wisdom and discipline are, for understanding insightful sayings; for receiving wise instruction in righteousness, justice, and integrity; for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced, knowledge and discretion to a young man. Proverbs 1:1-4 HCSB

I wish I knew what I know now when I graduated from seminary. Experience is one of life’s best teachers. Wisdom is gained through the personal experience and teaching of others. Perhaps I will someday write a book entitled, “Everything I Wish I Had Learned in Seminary.”

In Matthew 11:19, Jesus said, “Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” Romans 11 speaks of the depth of riches in both the wisdom and knowledge of God. Jesus speaks of the wisdom of the man who built his house on the rock in Matthew 7. The Bible is filled with words of wisdom.

Solomon, the son of King David, asked for wisdom when God said He would give him whatever he wanted. God blessed Solomon with great wisdom. The book of Proverbs was written by Solomon and contains a collection of deep spiritual insights drawn from his experience. A proverb is a short, wise, easy-to-remember saying that calls a person to action. Proverbs provide some practical suggestions for effective living.

Challenge: Looking for answers? Looking for meaning in life? Seek wisdom by reading God’s Word. You can find wisdom through a submissive, loving relationship with God.

No Comparison

“If I want him to remain until I come,” Jesus answered, “what is that to you? As for you, follow Me.” John 21:17 HCSB

As a student pastor, there were many times that I counseled with teenagers who would compare themselves to others in their peer group. They frequently felt they were not as pretty, not as smart, or not as popular as others. I would always tell them, “In the comparison game, you will always lose.” We seldom compare ourselves to those we do not hold in high regard. We always wish we were like someone else.

Peter was more concerned about John and what was going to happen to him rather than what Jesus had called him to do. His focus was on someone else rather than on God’s plan for his life. Jesus reminded Peter that he should not concern himself with what would happen to John. That was not his concern. His concern should have been on following Jesus and doing what God had called him to do.

Challenge: Keep your eyes on Jesus and focus on what He has called you to do. Do not compare yourself to others. Concern yourself with following God’s plan instead of looking at others and wishing you were like them.

Brotherly Love

He asked him the third time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” he said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.” Feed My sheep,” Jesus said. John 21:17 HCSB

I love my four children with unconditional, self-sacrificing love. I would be willing to die for them. They may do something that would cause me to be disappointed in them, but there is nothing they can do that would cause me to stop loving them.

The first two times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me?” He used the Greek word “agape,” which means “self-sacrificing” love. The first two times Peter responded with the Greek word “phileo,” which is translated “brotherly love”. The third time Jesus used the Greek word “phileo,” basically asking, “Do you at least love me as a friend and brother?” After proclaiming that he was willing to die for the Lord, Peter had denied that he even knew the Lord three times. Peter may have been afraid to make a commitment to “agape” love, an unconditional love, therefore he used “phileo” love in response to Jesus’ questions. It grieved Peter when Jesus lowered His request to “phileo” love instead of “agape” love.

Challenge: How would you respond if Jesus were to ask, “Do you ‘agape’ Me?” Would you be able to respond with unconditional love or would you be like Peter and respond with brotherly love?

Do You Love the Lord?

When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.” Feed My lambs,” He told him. John 21:15 HCSB

Many speculate what Jesus meant when He asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” What did He mean by “these”? Was He referring to family, friends, occupation, or possessions? He certainly could have referred to any one of these but could He have been referring to the fish that they had just caught? Peter had returned to the occupation he had known for years before he started following Jesus and became a disciple – fishing. Certainly, as a fisherman, Peter must have been excited about the large number of fish that they had just caught.

Jesus challenged Peter by asking him if he really loved Him more than “these”. He was basically asking Peter if he was going to return to his former occupation or if he was going to follow Him and do what He had called him to do. Jesus then challenged Peter, “Feed My Lambs”. Feeding meant to “to tend” or “to protect”. Jesus wanted to restore Peter’s confidence and his position as a disciple. He wanted him to be a leader and light the way for His other disciples and followers.

Challenge: Jesus may ask you the same question, “Do you love Me more than these?” What is it in your life that you love more than Jesus? Love for Jesus, above everything else, is the basic qualification for being a disciple. Respond by saying, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”

It Is The Lord!

“Cast the net on the right side of the boat,” He told them, “and you’ll find some.” So they did and they were unable to haul it in because of the large number of fish. Therefore the disciple, the one Jesus loved, said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” John 21:6-7 HCSB

I was at the Ryder Cup golf tournament watching the golfers play when I noticed a famous golfer in the gallery. There he was, world famous golfer, Tom Watson. I grabbed my golf hat and a pen and quickly got his autograph. I was not at all expecting to see Tom Watson but was excited to recognize him from a distance and converse with him.

The disciples had gone fishing. They were not expecting to see Jesus. They were far enough out in the lake that the person on shore was not recognizable. These professional fishermen had been fishing all night and had not caught anything. Just imagine how dejected they must have felt when some guy on shore told them to cast their net on the other side of the boat and they would catch something. They must have thought, “Who is this guy to tell us how to fish?” They may have even thought, “Let’s show this guy. Let’s cast the net on the other side and prove that there are no fish out here.” It was not until they began to pull up the fishing net full of fish that they realized the person on shore was the Lord. John could not physically recognize Jesus but spiritually he realized that only Jesus could have miraculously brought that many fish into their nets.

Challenge: Have you recognized Jesus as Lord? He stands on the shore of your life ready to bring a miracle into your life, if you will only recognize Him as Lord.

Gone Fishing

I’m going fishing,” Simon Peter said to them. “We’re coming with you,” they told him. They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. John 21:3 HCSB

As a ten year old, I can remember fishing at Yellowstone National Park with my dad while on vacation. We were fishing on a narrow peninsula and my father had made his way on down the peninsula. The bobber on my line went under and I pulled back on my fishing pole. I felt the pull of the fish and began to reel him in and started backing up. I keep backing up and reeling in the fish when I actually stepped into the water on the other side of the peninsula. It was a big fish, flopping around on the shore as I pulled it in. I excitingly ran down the peninsula with the fish in my hands, wanting my father to see what I had caught. Later that evening we had fish for dinner.

Peter seemed to be impatient and decided to return to what he knew how to do best – fishing. Perhaps Peter was uncertain about what to do next and needed to do something to relieve the tension of the moment. Peter was a leader and the other disciples immediately followed him and went fishing. Many of the disciples were professional fishermen, yet they fished all night and did not catch anything.

Challenge: What do you do when you feel pressure and wonder what you should do next? Go to Jesus. He can show you where to go and help you have success in whatever you do. Remember that others are watching you and will follow your lead. Be careful what you say and do.