PURE: By God, For God4 min read

On Sunday, November 8, 2015, nearly 400 people assembled at Our Savior, Lansing for a youth gathering called PURE: By God For God. The purpose of the gathering was for teens and parents to be encouraged and motivated as they learned about relationships, respect, love, honor, and commitment through the lens of a Scripture-based, Christian worldview. In addition, it was to strengthen young people’s understanding of the proper foundation for marriage. The idea for PURE: By God For God began with a longing to present teens and parents with useful and inspiring information about the topic of purity. This prompting of the Holy Spirit, along with the financial generosity of members of Our Savior Lutheran Church, made this purity event a reality.

Those in attendance were led by a terrific Christian band and two outstanding speakers. The Michael Maher Band opened up PURE: By God For God with worshipful songs prior to the teens and parents separating and being presented with godly messages on the topic of purity specifically designed for each of these two groups. Pastor Bill Yonker, senior pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church of East Dundee, Illinios, captivated teens with his humorous and energetic style, while Pastor David Maier, president of the Michigan District of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, clearly and honestly delivered an informed presentation woven around the theme of fighting to keep our families pure in this spiritual battle against Satan and sinful temptation.

During Pastor Maier’s presentation, parents in attendance were encouraged to remain faithful in God’s Word, to pray for and with their kids, and to talk to their kids about resisting temptation. Pastor Maier also stressed that we are in a war with Satan and, because of that, parents must not give in to what’s “cool” or what seems the norm for everyone else. “A war changes what’s cool,” was one of the biggest takeaways for a parent of an 8th grader. For those looking for self-help types of strategies for the battle with sexual temptation, Maier reminded them that they were found in the timeless and most effective practices that we know of for Christians—time spent reading and applying God’s Word and time in prayer all the while recognizing that Satan is relentless and, therefore, our resistance to temptation must be strong—totally relying on God for His strength. One mother of two teens stated, “The fact that this is a spiritual battle really called me to arms.” Another parent was reminded to, “… keep talking to them about what His word says for their lives … our kids are stronger than you might think in saying no.”  When sexual temptation comes, according to another attendee, “… the name of Jesus is powerful and will kill the mood quickly!”

Teens in attendance were inspired by the words of Pastor Yonker as he pointed out that despite the obvious differences in males and females, we are all the same in Christ—possessing three very basic needs: to be loved, to be valued, and not to be alone. Pastor Yonker went on to emphasize the need to have friends of the opposite sex without romance being a motivating force. Pastor Yonker’s message included assurance that Christ has fulfilled all our needs by paying the debt of our sins on the cross. Teens were also challenged to live a pure life by recognizing that they are children of God and, as such, have a higher calling—understanding that there is always forgiveness for any sin. Terrific illustrations drove home point after point during Pastor Yonker’s talk. One 8th grader in attendance recalled Pastor Yonker’s stories with fondness saying that, “… they made it easy to relate God to our everyday lives.”

Near the end of the presentation, the teens were given the opportunity to sign a pledge of purity which stated a promise to value their bodies as gifts from God while striving to make choices to honor God with their bodies. This was a pledge to also recognize the forgiveness they have in Christ while offering unconditional forgiveness to others who are struggling with guilt from sexual sins.

The Michael Maher Band gave a closing concert after all in attendance shared pizza and refreshments together. Also present at PURE were representatives from Covenant Eyes, Student Statesman Institute, SMART (Sexually Mature and Responsible Teens), which is a chapter of Aspire Relationship Education, and resources on the topic of purity from the Gift and Bible store of Lansing. A big hit of the event was the bottomless coffee and hot chocolate station in the middle of Our Savior Lutheran’s church lobby. It helped add to a fun, necessary, and extremely God-pleasing afternoon, discussing this very relevant topic of sexual purity. Rev. Bill Wangelin, pastor at Our Savior, said the event was “A positive and engaging opportunity for teens and parents to talk openly, honestly, and biblically about God’s call to live pure and decent lives in what we do and say, all under the redeeming cross of Jesus.”

Pastor Yonker’s presentation on purity


Photos from the Event

Cover photo courtesy of Our Savior, Lansing

Gallery photos by Elisa Schulz/Michigan District–LCMS, unless otherwise noted

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About the Author

Dave Wright is the Family Life Director at Our Savior Lutheran Church and School in Lansing

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