You are finally going to be happy in heaven. If you don’t do it now, you’re never going to do it. You said you were going to do it. I don’t understand why you aren’t. These are just some of the text messages 18-year-old Conrad Roy iii received from his 17-year-old girlfriend Michelle Carter in the weeks leading up to his suicide in July 2014. This young boy, not much different in age than the workers and campers, had attempted taking his life before, but his family was always hopeful he would get through that depression. When he was sitting in that truck filling up with carbon monoxide, he was texting his girlfriend telling her he was going to call it off. She ordered him to get back in.
People are depressed and are increasingly turning to very addictive opioids and, like Conrad Roy iii, suicide. Youth suicide is only increasing. It is the third leading cause of death among youths 10 to 14 years old. It is the second leading cause of death for those age 15 to 34. No one should have to die so young—especially at their own hands. Helping someone else to take their own life is even worse.
Suicide accounts for more deaths than heart attack, stroke, cancer and other diseases combined! Self-love and selfish materialism are running rampant. People are allowing their problems to overwhelm them, much like Samson allowed his weakness for women to overwhelm him.
Materialistic lust overwhelmed Samson, and it also overtook Judas Iscariot. He received 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus Christ—the same price as a slave in the Old Testament. What did he end up doing with that silver? “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:3-5). So much for living happily ever after!
Young people of God’s true Church, you are here to be leaders for God, not to give in to Satan. How many of you have known someone who took their own life? How many of you have had good friends or even family members who left the truth? You are here to teach those people you know and love. You are here to “Live Right—Take Flight,” the theme from pyc 2017.
As you know, we have recently been blessed with a beautiful airplane. That means we are going to “soar as never before,”—a previous theme of Imperial Academy—as we do God’s Work. Are you prepared to take flight personally?
Most of you have heard of the Wright brothers, who made the first successful flight in 1903 in North Carolina. Wilbur Wright said, “The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who … looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space … on the infinite highway of the air.”
Man will always be inferior, but when we become God, we will all know everything. We’ll be able to fly anywhere at any time. Artist, inventor and scientist Leonardo da Vinci studied flight; even though it would be over 400 years before man accomplished it, he had faith that it would happen. If he could have the faith that man would accomplish flight physically, we can have it spiritually. Those listed in Hebrews 11 inspired others to keep accomplishing. They aimed to live right, and continued in it once they tasted flight. Da Vinci said, “For once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will long to return.”
In order to “take flight,” you must complete the first half of this year’s pyc theme: “live right.” There is no shortcut. The inventor of the automobile assembly line, Henry Ford said, “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” Without that wind resistance, the plane cannot get airborne. Satan is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). That wind, that pressure and force, is what we must fight against to go God’s way. Overcoming that is what allows us to get off the ground and to soar. There is going to be some turbulence. You may have to be redirected. If you are living right, those corrections will eventually make for a smooth flight into the future.
John 10:10 says, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” God doesn’t want us to take our own lives that He gave us, but Satan does. Satan wants you to choose every lifestyle except the right one. We all have that choice. Our first parents had to choose. That is what pyc allows you to do. You might miss your dog, cat and hamster, but it will teach you how to make the right choices. You will see the proof and fruits of living right with peace, joy, happiness, cooperation and great attitudes. If you’re wise, you will realize you need God instructing you.
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19) You can almost hear God pleading with His people. God loves His young people. He wants us to choose right. It is a choice we have to make minute by minute.
To take flight, there are two steps.
- Preparation. Prepare by learning as much as we can about God and His truth. Pastor General Gerald Flurry even urged the ministry at this year’s ministerial conference to love the Bible even more—and to dig and dig to get the value from it. We all must have that deep love for His Word.
- Inspection and regular maintenance. For the pcg airplane, we have one mechanic: Billy. He has explained that taking care of our G450 is a full-time job. Every system has to be checked and rechecked constantly to make sure that nothing breaks down mid-flight. How consistent are you in evaluating yourself spiritually, doing the things you should be doing, and thinking what you should be thinking? How diligent are you with the maintenance of your life, even in diet and exercise?
“And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest” (Psalm 55:6). We don’t have our own wings, but God wants to protect us under His wings. “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler” (Psalm 91:4). We are protected from Satan, society and self as an eagle protects her young. God wants us to feel secure in our relationship with Him.
”Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). How much is your mind like Christ’s? God wants to know how much you want the majestic future He is offering. We must have a continuous flight toward thinking more like God. We must let our thoughts soar to the level of God’s.
We are in a war on all fronts—land, sea and air—but the primary battle is being fought for the possession of your mind. Satan is trying to pull you away from God early before you even have a chance to go through the conversion process and receive the Holy Spirit. You must be aware of his tactics at this vulnerable and impressionable stage of your lives.
Isaiah 40:29-31 say, “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
Teens, it is so easy to lose your patience in an instant society. You have to learn to be patient and trust in God. If you wait on God, He will give you the strength you need to endure and even thrive. “Wait” means “to bind together, perhaps by twisting, to expect, look, patiently, tarry.”
In his Sept. 25, 1963 co-worker letter, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “Time is flying! And to carry on our part in God’s great Work, it seems Mrs. Armstrong and I have to keep flying also.” Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong were in their 70s, but they did not retire and settle into an easy life. They would rather be found doing, not lounging around in a La-Z-Boy recliner. How much more should we be found doing?
In the first sermon in God’s house on Sept. 4, 2010, Mr. Flurry said, “And God says, ‘I want you to build a house for it [prayer].’ A house of truth to measure us—a house of prayer to get through to the great God. And just do that, and watch your life spiral upward. Watch it happen; watch yourself begin to soar like a swan spiritually.” Of course, each member is going to have to soar to get off the ground and make some upward progress. God wants us to be swans in flight. He wants us—that includes you teens—to really begin to fly high. Those are your marching orders from our pastor general. You’ll do it by living right and taking flight.