PHOTOSYNTHESIS: TURNING LIGHT INTO TRUTH – by Pastor Matt Shull – Words of Life Church Miami


Genesis 1:1-3

In the beginning God created heaven and earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water. The Spirit of God was hovering over the water. Then God said, “Let there be light!” So there was light. (GW)

Before God could create anything else He had to first get rid of the darkness. Before humans and animals could survive, plants had to be created so we could eat. The process of photosynthesis is when plants take light energy and turn it into chemical energy so they can produce and grow.  So the life of  humans, animals and plants all hinge on  light.  In a spiritual sense we need God’s light to turn into truth so we can grow and live the life God intends for us.. In fact, for God to grow us spiritually He has to first remove the ‘darkness’ in our lives before He begins to create something new. As a Pastor, I have come to realize the devil loves dark places. He’s able to intimidate, confuse and slow down and even destroy the destiny of young believers as long as he has plenty of darkness to work with.. Unfortunately, many young believers give him the darkness he needs when they choose to lie and hide.

Teenagers hide and lie for a number of reasons but in over 10 years of youth ministry here are the 3 most common reasons I’ve seen teenagers hide and lie.  I’m giving them to you not to condemn you but so you can see the weakness of your season and build against it.

 A wrong relationship.

This can be a friendship or a romantic relationship. In your heart you know the person is not right for you and when you are with them you find yourself doing things against the Word of God that you normally would not do.  However, you are emotionally attached to that friend or boyfriend/girlfriend and you don’t want to let them go. Because deep in your heart you know it’s not a relationship that God created you choose to hide it from your parents and your godly friends. There is nothing more dangerous to a growing believer than a wrong relationship.

Please never forget that the sailors who let Jonah on their boat experienced a storm that was never intended for them because they chose to journey with someone who was running from God and almost lost their lives in the process. We too can join our life to people who are running from God and let them in our ‘boat’ and experience emotional, sexual and spiritual storms that God never wanted for us. Wrong relationships always create unnecessary storms. I tell the girls in my youth ministry often: ‘If you have to hide the man you’re walking down the aisle from the man at the end of the aisle, you’ve got the wrong man.’ What happens in so many relationships and friendships is that we’re willing to trade our morals for a false sense of belonging.

God has such a better plan though.  God has a friend and a future marriage for you that will both fill your life with belonging and bring you closer to Him. Everything God does He does in the light. And everywhere He goes He removes darkness. James says about God that He is “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” – James 1:17 (NASB) In other words God is a God of light and truth.  He doesn’t do things by hiding and shifty shadows. He’s not looking to sneak around.  Everything He’s going to do in your life He’s going to do in the light, open and with honesty. If it’s in the shadows it’s not God. God never does things in the dark. He’s not hiding. You might think well, ‘my parents don’t understand me’ or ‘my friends just don’t know him like I know him’. But I can promise you the Bible is clear about this, if there is hiding involved the devil is working. Bring it into the light and let your parents/pastors know and follow their godly advice.

 Avoid Consequences.

I know many of us don’t like conflict. And I don’t either. My personality is like 99% positive. I’m only negative in the first ten minutes of the morning and then I have my shower and coffee and I feel like I’m a Christian again. I’m currently working on this.  So yeah I really don’t like conflict and I’m guessing you don’t either.. So what many of us do is choose to lie to avoid conflict in a relationship. We know we’ve let our friend down or failed to meet a parent’s expectation and we just don’t want to face the consequence of conflict. So we might tell a ‘white lie’ or maybe even a complex story and conveniently leave out the part where we really failed and hope they overlook it.

The problem with white lies is that it’s still a lie.  Paul says “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.” – Colossians 3:9 NIV. And then Jesus takes it a step further and declares that Satan is the father of all lies. “When he [Satan] lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8:44 NLT That means that when we lie to each other we are acting like Satan and are  taking on his character.. That’s pretty serious.  Now I’m not trying to come down on you too hard or anything because I was a first class white liar. I thought, ‘well I’m not hurting anyone’, or ‘I don’t want to hurt their feelings’. The problem with that thinking is the Bible never gave us a clause. It doesn’t say don’t lie to each other [unless you’re trying to not hurt their feelings] or lying is bad [unless it doesn’t hurt anyone].  No God’s standard is consistent, He clearly says, do not lie to each other.  There is this essence that all lies originate from the mouth of the devil and come straight from his heart. Instead of lying speak the truth in love.  Jesus loves people more than you do.  Yet He never lied.  So telling the truth and walking in love is possible.

 Avoid ‘Getting in Trouble with Parents

Here’s the deal with this one. Your parents are going to have some rules that you don’t want to follow. You and your parents have different ideas, wills and personalities.   Some of their rules are going to make sense to you and others make no sense at all.  For example, I grew up in the country and every Saturday morning my dad woke us up at 7am to clean horse stalls.  This was a miserable, smelly and sweaty process. I hated every moment of it. I don’t have a single animal in my house to this day because I can’t stand cleaning up their poop. I also didn’t understand why cleaning the horse stalls had to happen promptly at 7am and not at 3pm after I had slept for a while.  It didn’t make sense to me then and it still doesn’t make sense to me now lol. But I love and respect my dad.

In 10 years of youth ministry I’ve dealt with crazy parents just like I’ve dealt with crazy teenagers. Some parents are patient and understanding and others run their home like the dictator of an island. However, God sovereignly chose to give you to your parents.  God knows it’s hard to obey your parents rules, especially the ones that don’t make sense. So He gives children a command AND a blessing. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” – Ephesians 6:1-3 NIV

The command to obey our parents is the only command with a blessing.  And when you think about it what an incredible blessing! God says if you obey your parents I’m going to bless the REST OF YOUR LIFE and then make sure it goes well with you.  So God says listen, if you obey them for the few short years  when you really don’t want to, I’m going to bless you so much for the rest of your life! When we obey our parents we’re showing God that we can be under authority.  This is a big deal to God.  And truthfully authority and accountability never go away in life. Your future professor will have rules that you don’t agree with.  Your boss will ask you to do things you don’t want to do or the board of your company will have guidelines you can’t stand.  Everyone is under authority.

When faced with a rule people don’t agree with most chose to break the rule and then lie about it to avoid the consequences.  This creates a negative path in life.  It begins a lifestyle of dodging authority and generates a web of lies. Don’t become a liar just because you disagree with a rule. You might think you’re only going to lie to your parents but I promise you if you start lying now you’re going to end up lying to your professor, boss and even your spouse.  Instead of becoming a lifelong liar, become a diplomat. Ask your parents why the rule is in place. Ask them if there’s another option. Make sure you let them know you respect them but just want to know if there’s a different way of accomplishing the goal.  Even Jesus asked His Father if there was another way besides the cross. I’m so thankful He chose obedience instead of personal comfort in that moment. Many parents are understanding and will work with you.  Of course some will not budge an inch. Either way God says if you obey I will have your back for the REST OF YOUR LIFE! Today Jesus has the highest position in heaven and earth because He obeyed His Father.  I promise God will elevate you and bless you as you keep your life in the light.  Rewards always follow obedience.

I hope this blog helps you keep your life in the light.  Huge thanks to Pastor John for letting me share my heart on this blog.  Looking forward to Camp Decision 2015. Let me know if this blog helped you out. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Pastor Matt Shull

Student Pastor at Words of Life Church in Miami, FL

Camp DecisionPHOTOSYNTHESIS: TURNING LIGHT INTO TRUTH – by Pastor Matt Shull – Words of Life Church Miami

Comments 3

  1. Paul-Tall

    love love love the subject matter and the reference of the sailors who allowed Jonah to board there ship only to head into a storm that they didn’t belong in

  2. Pastor John Mazza

    Great Blog! Thank you Pastor Matt for being the first Youth Pastor Guest Blog! Looking forward to what all the Youth Pastors will be blogging about at campdecision,org in the future weeks ahead!! 😉

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