NORTHGATE Blog

Youth, Depression, & "13 Reasons Why"

Depression is the most common mental illness among teenagers and it is something that parents, mentors, and youth workers need to know about.  We have 140 teenagers enrolled in our youth program at Northgate, and I regularly discover that more and more of them are struggling with anxiety and/or depression. 

On Wednesday May 3rd we have invited a special guest speaker, Gail Mueller, to talk with our youth about depression. We want them to know we are there for them, that God loves them, and that there are resources available should they need help.

It seems that God has orchestrated the timing of this night. Depression and suicide are hot topics right now; not only because it’s a prevalent struggle for our kids, but because of a new show released on Netflix called ‘13 Reasons Why’.  I heard about it a couple of weeks ago and soon became aware that many of our youth were watching it.  I decided that as an adult presence in their lives I should take a look; I just finished watching it yesterday.

‘13 Reasons Why’ is an emotional rollercoaster. It is extremely popular among teenagers and adults alike, but I discovered that it’s not popular among many professional therapists and psychologists.  The show depicts the events and relationships that precedes a high school girl’s decision to commit suicide. It is gut wrenching, heart breaking, riveting, and compelling, but it is also misleading and has been labeled as dangerous and troubling for a variety of reasons. After watching the series, and reading many different articles, I have to agree. There are some positive messages and conversations that can come from this show, but in my opinion there are some pretty dangerous messages as well.

Parents, be cautious about this television series, and not just because it’s rated TV-MA. It isn’t for kids, of any age, in my opinion. Instead of sharing my own thoughts on the series, below are links to a couple well written articles that explain the oversights, poor messages, and even dangerous themes that are included in this narrative. Please take the time to read the articles and to prayerfully consider what they have to say before deciding whether or not to let your kids watch it. If you do let them watch it, I strongly suggest you watch it with them.

Youth (6th-12th grade) and parents are encouraged to join us on Wednesday May 3rd to hear Gail Mueller’s presentation on depression!

6:30 pm: Parent session with Gail (activities for youth provided)

7:00 pm: Youth session with Gail including worship.

 

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23)

In Him,

Dan Thorson (Youth Director)

 

This article from USA today, written by a young woman who struggled for years with depression, does a great job at describing the dangerous messages ’13 Reasons Why’ gives to those thinking about suicide.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/04/17/suicide-13-reasons-why-mental-illness-column/100562428/

From a Christian Organization that works with youth.

http://youthmin.org/2017/04/13-reasons-to-not-recommend-13-reasons-why/

Here’s is Focus on the Family’s ‘Plugged-In’ movie review website’s article.

http://www.pluggedin.com/tv-reviews/13-reasons-why/

This past week Will Wojcik (Northgate Worship Director) and I were fortunate enough to be able to attend “Inside Elevation”, a church staff conference in Charlotte, NC. Elevation Church is known worldwide, they have contributed many of the top worship songs of the past few years, and their senior pastor Steven Furtick has authored several best selling books.

It was so exciting to be able to spend time with 2,000 other church staff and volunteers from around the world, and glean tips, info, and insight from such an amazing place. I spent two days totally “geeking out” at all of the cool technology, from LED screens to L Acoustics audio, the entire setup was amazing. The training seminars were all fantastic, I got to learn tech details that would make you snore, so I wanted to focus on something else… I want to tell you what God was whispering to me this entire trip… Just say yes.

I first heard this whisper during the first evening session… We were being motivated, encouraged, excited, it was a pep rally, but there was something more. I started thinking about how all of this could not happen without the hard-working staff and volunteers. God has called us all. One person makes a difference. What happens when we say “no” or just don’t do our best and give our all? What happens when one person says “yes” to that still small voice?

So, with this evolving thought framing my view for the rest of the seminar, I was filled with hope, awe, and excitement. The conference was over. We had time to kill… Of course, we ate some delicious BBQ, but there was STILL some time left so, Will and I visited the Billy Graham Library. It was an overwhelming experience that I wasn’t expecting.

The legacy of Billy Graham is unfathomable. The countless lives transformed for eternity, the generations of families changed by a new relationship with Christ, and the continuing efforts worldwide of the Billy Graham Association... We’re talking millions of people knowing Christ because ONE man said YES to God.

Have you been saying no lately? Have you been saying maybe? I was convicted. I have let a few “I don’t knows and maybes” sneak into my vocabulary lately…. I want to encourage you to BE BOLD and say YES to that crazy whisper you might be hearing. Talk to that stranger in the coffee shop. Volunteer in that way you were feeling led to. Help that person your heart felt moved to. JUST SAY YES.

God is good. God has a plan. God’s plan includes you. Yes, you. What do you have to do? Just say yes.

Joshua 1:9---"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Elevation's light and sound control. They also have a video control room that is not pictured. It takes about 5 staff and 25-30 volunteers just for the "tech team" at each service. They do all sorts of amazing things, including embedding an 8 channel audio stream within a video signal and sending it over fiber via P2P connection with each campus. Ok, that was a lot of geek talk to say that the band at one campus, can play music with the band from another campus, LIVE. And that's not even what I went there to learn about, just thought it was pretty amazing! 

Elevation's light and sound control. They also have a video control room that is not pictured. It takes about 5 staff and 25-30 volunteers just for the "tech team" at each service. They do all sorts of amazing things, including embedding an 8 channel audio stream within a video signal and sending it over fiber via P2P connection with each campus. Ok, that was a lot of geek talk to say that the band at one campus, can play music with the band from another campus, LIVE. And that's not even what I went there to learn about, just thought it was pretty amazing! 

Worship Experience at one of the main sessions.

Worship Experience at one of the main sessions.

I loved this picture at the Billy Graham Library... It made me laugh and also say "wow" at the same time. What an amazing legacy!

I loved this picture at the Billy Graham Library... It made me laugh and also say "wow" at the same time. What an amazing legacy!

BY FAITH: Tithing...for real?

I stood in the kitchen with tears rolling down my cheeks as I listened to a woman on KTIS pleading for support for a ministry that desperately needed to be rescued. I so wanted to write a check on the spot and run it out to mailbox. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Why? Because my husband and I had just made some significant life changes in income. As we added our third child into the family chaos, I had just quit my “corporate” job to work very part-time at our church, for half the pay per hour. At the same time, God had nudged us to “tithe” our giving which was a huge leap of faith since we had only been giving a very small percentage of our income, and always after thinking through what WE would need first to manage our lifestyle. So there I stood….frozen. I remember praying, “God, my heart breaks for these people, but I have NO money right now. Can you please take care of this?”

After I got over my mini cryfest, I went about my busy day. In the afternoon, I ran out to get the mail. One letter caught my attention…it was from the IRS.  Wondering just what the IRS would send, I cautiously opened the letter. It was a check for $750 which was for some type of overpayment we had made a few years earlier.

When my husband came home that night, I told him I had some good news and some bad news. So I began, “Well the BAD news is that we made a mistake on our taxes a few years back and they sent us an additional refund. The GOOD news is that this morning I heard that there is an organization that needs help and I prayed that God would somehow give us a way to support them, and here it is!” I’m not sure Joe really agreed with my interpretation of what was GOOD and the BAD news, but thankfully, he saw the connection between my prayer and God’s provision! So off went a check.

This story popped in my memory when Pastor Steve recently challenged our church to tithe with the verse from Malachi:

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. Malachi 3:10

 I remembered clearly the day several years back when I heard this similar message. Even though we were “regulars” at church, I always half-listened to the tithing sermons since, of course, God understood that we were in no position to tithe since we had so many other commitments. Until that day, when somehow God broke through and I knew that HE was talking to me and that it was time to LISTEN and to ACT. So we did. It was really kind of a no-brainer—we divided up our money one way or another anyway—10% here, 10% there…we might as well be obedient to what God was asking of us. And within a month, the KTIS incident happened.

God took care of that need, but not only that need. He has taken care of every need since that time. He has truly opened the floodgates of heaven to pour out his blessings. Of course, we still mutter the mantra, “money doesn’t grow on trees” with our kids and have unexpected expenses that challenge us, but I can assure you that we have never been hungry, or without clothes or a roof over our head. We’re so grateful for His promises and provision.

#Byfaith #Godisgood  #Godprovides #Godtransforms

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