Can You Trust God Like Gideon?

In Judges 7 we have the amazing story of God fighting for His people against the Midianites.  In this account we see God reducing the number of the Israelite army again and again.  Why does He do this?

For His Glory alone.

When victory is accomplished, do we recognize God as the source?  Can we trust God like Gideon did?

The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’  

Midian’s army was 130,000 strong.  Israel had 22,000.  God reduced it to 10,000 men, and then again to merely 300 men.

Take that in. 300 men vs 130,000.  The odds are staggering.

Look at this graphic to get a visual understanding of the sheer magnitude of this lopsided battle. (Click here to be able to zoom in.)

Continue reading

5 Things Student Pastors Can’t Fully Teach from a Stage

Is your teaching/preaching effective? Great. But even with the most dynamic teacher on stage every week, teenagers still learn more through seeing who you really are and how you really live.

Here are my thoughts on 5 things student pastors can’t fully teach from a stage, but MUST teach with their lives.

  1. A Genuine Love for the Word:  If you don’t genuinely love the scripture, your teenagers will see straight through your lame attempts. If you gush scripture at every opportunity, they will see that too. Teach how to memorize and cherish God’s word to your students, not by telling them to do such, but by memorizing and cherishing it yourself! A group will never exceed the level of their leader. Learn to cherish the bible of yourself and watch your group follow suite.
  2. A Real Love for People:  When you interact with students outside your cozy youth room, what example do you set for the teens watching your every move? Set the standard by loving the unlovable. Teach by example by genuinely being concerned for others and pushing your group to do the same.  How impactful would it be if while pumping gas in route on a youth trip, you took a teen aside gave them some money and told them to go inside the store and pay for the gas of that frazzled single mom on the next pump over? I feel confident saying, your leadership in that moment would permanently change that teenager! Take the lead! Really love people!
  3. Be Humble and Teachable:  Admit it! We aren’t perfect. When you mess up, the opportunity has arisen to show how a real follower of Christ owns up to their mistakes and makes biblical steps toward forgiveness and reconciliation.  By modeling humility and a teachable heart you will show a generation that is saturated with pride how a real Christians should act. These moments are not fun, but gain you great respect by responding in a mature and biblical manner. By living a life of humility you will earn the right to speak to teenagers in their moments of need.
  4. Have an Imitable Faith:  The way you handle your faith should be possible for teenagers to put into practice in their own lives. Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” As teens watch the way you live, do they see the fundamentals of faith in a way that makes it clear what they should be doing? Do they see you praying? Do they see you correctly handling the scripture? Do they see a love for talking about Jesus? Make your faith a model for them to follow! Don’t cheat them into thinking it’s about degrees on the wall or charisma on the stage? Not all people will have those. But all can love Jesus in a practical, everyday way. Are you and I showing that way?
  5. True Loyalty in a Fickle Generation:  Teenagers need to see stability modeled. In a culture with 50+% divorce rate sometime that is not seen at home. Be the model of how to love your spouse. Be the model on supporting your senior pastor. Remember (and use) a teenager’s name the next time you see them after their first visit. Show your group that some things are truly important in life and it goes way beyond your favorite sports team. Longevity in youth ministry is a rare thing. I’ve heard it said that the best ministry comes after 6 years. When every student in your ministry is a product of your teaching alone you will see the fruit of your labor! Hang in there. Be loyal to what God has called you to.

Praying you will teach these things and more to the teenagers in your area of influence.

Your fellow worker in the field,  Adam

Confession of Faith within The Star Spangled Banner

Did you know The Star Spangled Banner has more than one verse? It has four in fact. If you read over these verses you will gain even more insight into the fabric of our nation.

Verse 1:

O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Verse 4:

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

While I will in no way will make the argument that our nation is a Christian nation, for those of you like myself who want to see this generation come to know the hope and purpose found only through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is helpful to refer back to markers of Christian heritage in our country. Within the national song is a clear confession of faith. Note the reference, unashamedly, to praising the “Power” (note the capitalization indicating a person) that makes and preserves nations. Wow. And what a motto; “In God is our trust”. If only more individuals would have such a motto in their own lives.

As we celebrate our freedom on this fourth of July, would you recognize that Jesus offers a freedom that will last for eternity. Romans 8:2 says, “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Nations will rise and fall, but freedom in Christ is TRUE freedom. John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Find your freedom in Him today.

Your fellow worker in the field, Adam

What Do Christian Teenagers Believe about Jesus?

Biola Magazine has done some research and produced this thought provoking article on the nuts and bolts behind the faith of the current generation of teenagers. We need to get specific about Jesus Christ and faithfully teach what the bible reveals. This generation is floundering in a vague divinity and spineless teaching when all along a strong clear picture of Jesus is on display in the pages of scripture. WIll we believe it? WIll we pass this on. Check out the below article and gain insight into the faith of this generation of teenagers.

Your fellow worker in the field, Adam


What does the faith of the next generation of Christians look like? When we examine the actual beliefs of Christian teenagers regarding Jesus and his meaning for our lives, is what we find encouraging or alarming?

In The Jesus Survey (Baker Books, 2012), bestselling author Mike Nappa (’89) explores these questions by presenting the results of a nationwide survey of Christian teens. Here, Nappa discusses some of his findings with Biola Magazine and talks about the takeaways for parents, teachers, youth pastors and anyone invested in the faith of future generations.

Mike, could you briefly describe the types of Christian teens that you surveyed and the survey methodology?

The Jesus Survey was administered during summer 2010 at Reach Workcamp mission sites in Colorado, Indiana, Maine, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. (You can download a reproducible copy of the actual survey used at More than 800 teens, ages 12 to 18, participated in the survey. All teens self-identified as “Christian” and were active in a church youth group at the time of the survey. In all, the survey sample represented 16 Christian denominations from 24 United States, and delivered a 99 percent confidence level with a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent.

What was the overall goal with “The Jesus Survey”? What did you want to find out?

The original goal was just to satisfy my own curiosity! I wanted to discover what Christian teens believed about Jesus — and how that was (or wasn’t) affecting their everyday lives. So I asked them.

In terms of the specific survey, the first part was designed to measure what teens thought about four core doctrines of Christ: 1) The Bible is completely trustworthy in what it says about Jesus. 2) Jesus is God. 3) Jesus physically lived, died and came back to life. 4) Jesus is the only way to heaven.

Having established those baselines, the second part of the survey was designed to measure how a Christian teen’s belief or unbelief in those core doctrines affected his or her daily experience with God.

While 86 percent of those surveyed reported that they viewed the Bible as at least somewhat trustworthy, 70 percent expressed persistent, measurable doubts that what the Bible says about Jesus is true. And these are “cream of the crop” youth group kids. How do we make sense of this, and should we be alarmed?

As a former youth pastor, those numbers do concern me. Realistically, just about everything our youth group teens know about Jesus came from what’s found in the Bible, so if they don’t trust the Bible, they can’t fully trust their own knowledge of Jesus. It seems to me that we parents and church leaders can do a better job of helping our Christian teenagers grow confident in the trustworthiness of Scripture.

What’s more (and this surprised me), the data show that Christian kids who do have strong confidence in Scripture actually experience God more noticeably in their daily lives. For instance, four out of five (82 percent) teens who have “unshakable” faith in the Bible also report possessing “strong” proof that the Holy Spirit is active in their lives. Among kids who are uncertain about Scripture, that number is less than half (49 percent). For Christian teens who disbelieve the Bible’s reliability, only 22 percent (about 1 in 5) strongly claim real-life experience with Christ’s Holy Spirit.

Christ’s exclusivity seems to be a big stumbling block for many teens. Fully 1 out of 3 (33 percent) of the Christian teenagers you surveyed believes that Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha and other great religious leaders all lead to heaven. Why do you think this is, and what are the implications?

What’s hard about this finding is that these are Christian kids — teens who claim to have already trusted in Jesus for heaven (and more). In spite of that, they seem unaware that their answers to this question actually contradict their own Christianity — and the beliefs of other religions, too. Youth culture researcher Christian Smith calls this a “tolerance over truth” attitude that’s a result of mainstream, social indoctrination. There’s probably some validity to Smith’s opinion, but it’s always easy to blame the world outside for problems inside the church.

Realistically, an enormous error in basic Christian truth like this one wouldn’t be widespread in our youth groups if adult Christians in our churches weren’t also embracing — and promoting — the fallacy. Tolerance and truth are not mutually exclusive — we need to be better at communicating both for our teens.

What’s worth noting here is that belief in the trustworthiness of the Bible is directly related to belief that Jesus, alone, saves. Among “Jesus only” kids, 99 percent also agreed with the statement that “The Bible is 100 percent accurate.” The implication there is both encouraging — and obvious.

Barely 5 percent of those surveyed reported that they study the Bible on a daily basis, with 67 percent reporting that they seldom or never study Scripture outside church, numbers that reflect a downward trend in Bible study from similar studies conducted 10 years ago. How do you think we can reverse this trend and get young people excited about the Bible?

Our first priority must be to help our Christian teenagers grow confident in the trustworthiness of Scripture. After all, why bother studying the Bible if its message can’t be trusted? If you can’t believe the Bible, then whatever it says is irrelevant. On the other hand, if the Bible can be trusted, then the Bible will be read — that’s my opinion.

I don’t see Scripture needing any special ad campaign or “teen friendly” package. It already has within its pages everything a Christian teenager wants and needs in life. What our kids must come to know is that their Bible is real and true and trustworthy. When they come to grips with that, it’ll change everything — and create a hunger for God’s Word that won’t be denied.

In the evangelism area, 84 percent said they believe Christians are “expected to tell others about Jesus,” while 56 percent said they actually did in the last month. Still, 56 percent seems pretty high. Are teenage Christians less afraid of evangelism than we think?

This was another of the surprises of The Jesus Survey: Christian teenagers are actually quite open and unashamed about their religion. What’s more, talking about Jesus to their friends seems to come naturally for this generation. Even among Christian teenagers who say that Jesus is not the only way to heaven, more than half (55 percent) believe that every follower of Christ has a responsibility to tell others about Jesus “with the intent of leading them to be Christian too.” This unexpected openness about faith may be a benefit of that “tolerance indoctrination” our kids are experiencing in their society. After all, if all religions are tolerated, then it’s OK to talk about any religion — even when the topic is Jesus.

At the same time, there is cause for concern about the evangelistic passion of our Christian teenagers. If the things they’re saying about Christ reflect what they actually believe about Christ, then (according to The Jesus Survey at least), three-fourths of them (74 percent) are actually spreading untruth about Jesus to their friends, neighbors, coworkers and more.

What encouraged you most from the results of the survey?

I was humbled and grateful to see, right there in the data, that God rewards teenagers who place full faith in him. Or, as I put it in the book, “Right belief translates into real experience.”

As part of the study, I was able to identify what I called “Confident Christian Teens.” This group of kids consistently and strongly affirmed each of the four core beliefs around which the survey centered. These kids were the minority in their youth groups (outnumbered 10 to 1 actually), but they reported a real-life experience with God that was identifiable and ongoing.

For example, 94 percent of Confident Christian Teens strongly agreed with this statement: “I’m 100% certain Jesus has answered one or more of my prayers—and I can prove it.” Among the rest, only about half (55 percent) could say the same thing. Additionally, nearly nine out of 10 (86 percent) Confident Christian Teens strongly agreed with this: “I’m 100% certain that the Holy Spirit of Jesus is present and active in my life today — and I have proof that this is true.” Among all other Christian teens, barely half (52 percent) could make the same claim.

For parents, youth group leaders, pastors, professors and others who care about the beliefs of the next generation, what are the big takeaways from this data?

The absolute best thing you can do for any Christian teenager is to help that teen grow confident in the trustworthiness of Scripture. Teens who believe the Bible is reliable are more likely to embrace authentic Christian beliefs and — according to the data — are significantly more likely to experience an authentic, noticeable relationship with God. That’s the big takeaway I learned from The Jesus Survey.

If you could summarize your overall assessment of the current generation of Christian teenagers in just three words, what would they be?

Honest. Tolerant. Passionate.

Mike Nappa (’89) is a bestselling and award-winning author with more than 1 million copies of his books in print worldwide. He’s also the founding publisher of, “The Free E-Magazine for Parents” and a noted commentator on pop culture, theology, family and film.

How Easy Is It To Lose Faith in College? Video – The Jacket

How do students treat their faith after they leave your student ministry and head to college?

This 2.5 minute video illustrates the point very well. Will the faith of your teens be set aside like an old jacket?

Here are some discussion questions I would recommend you use with your seniors. If we never get real with them, what can we expect? It is my prayer that these will break the ice and open the way for real dialogue about the near future and how they will handle their newfound freedom, busy schedules, temptations, and choices.

  • What is your first response after watching this? What feelings or thoughts did it stir up?
  • If the jacket represents this student’s faith in Christ, how would you describe that faith?  What tends to happen to faith that can be taken on or off like a jacket? Why do you think that is?
  • What happened to the students’ friends as the video went on? How could isolation from supportive community be part of the problem for students who are tempted to toss faith aside?
  • One way people have described this kind of understanding of faith is that it’s mostly about behaviors—things we do or don’t do to act like a Christian.  What would you say in response to that? How is that different from saying God’s grace through Jesus Christ is at the core of faith? (Check out Ephesians 2:1-10 for Paul’s response to this).
  • What do you think a college student—or high school student—can do to keep their faith from becoming like a jacket? What would you say to people like the guy in the video who feel like they’ve blown it in some way and tossed their faith aside?