Mission Trips and other Humbling Experiences

Each year I lead a High School Senior International mission trip over spring break. I am always captured by the personal and group growth that takes place during these weeks. I am humbled by God.

  • That we can serve Him
  • That the Gospel has reached me and reaches around the globe
  • That we live with so much blessing without saying thank you often enough
  • That those with so little can love so much
  • That God is the God, and He moves when, where, and in whom, as He sees fit

This year we are going to Belize.  Here is a quick video of the people and places we will encounter.

I am blessed to have met and worked with this pastor before. Pastor Mark is a man of God, full of grace, passion, and a big smile.

Me and Pastor Mark

 

I encourage you to go on mission trips and engage in other experiences that remind us of the truth of scripture, that we are all equal before the cross, that God does not show partiality, that we are brothers in sisters in christ.

In a different cultural environment we get to see a new perspective, yet the same God. He is at work all around us. Let’s join Him as He offers hope through Jesus Christ.

Mark 9:35 “Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Philippine 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”

Matt 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Modesty at Prom – Sadie Robertson style

Prom is just around the corner. I’ve seen several elaborate date requests already. As the event draws closer the inevitable dress shopping excursions/tweets/Facebook posts flood social media.

Sadie Robertson of Duck Dynasty has produced a line of age-approiate and modest prom dresses. Just as she modeled in her time with Dancing with the Stars, Sadie has consistently upheld high values and respect for herself and her future.  Click below for more information on the “daddy-approved” line of dresses this year.

Sadie Robertson’s “Daddy-Approved” Line of Prom Dresses

Here is sneak peak of a few pieces. As a dad of a daughter, I say, “Way to go Sadie”!

You are NOT a Student First

For a few brief years you may hear this phrase by well meaning adults, “Remember… You are a student first”.

While the intention may be noble, the message is flawed.

Yes, students need to focus on their studies while in high school or college. They do not need to get the balance of social life, work, school and many other activities so out of whack that academic discipline takes a backseat.

But are you really a student “First”? Is there not a more important mission and goal of life even during the years in which you are a student? Is there a broader perspective that allows your identity to remain intact even beyond school and career decisions?

The answer is a resounding “YES”. Paul says to the Corinthian believers, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)

Let this dominate our identity in all stages of our life, from student to career to family, to everything! This clip says it beautifully in 1:48 of your day, that will be well spent.  Watch it and be encouraged.

Discerning Your Call to Ministry

***Free 128 page PDF ebook, “The Call to Ministry” Journal, by Al Mohler, Don Whitney, and Dan Dumas, detailed below***

Through my time as a student pastor I have seen many students pursue a call to ministry.  This is a rewarding aspect of working with teenagers.  As they are growing in their faith and learning to make decisions on their own you get the privilege of seeing God a work and the teenager wrestle with it.  Several students, both young men and women, have expressed a leaning toward missions or children/youth ministry and even the occasional pastoral calling that surfaces early.

When a student comes to me for advise when discerning a call to ministry it is never an easy conversation.  It is hard to say with certitude what God may or may not be doing in another person’s heart.  Therefore I always try to push that student to good resources and to continue exploring what God is saying.

I recently ran across a great resource that I will be using for this very purpose.

Dr. Hershal York, a preaching professor from my alma mater, Southern Seminary, posted a great blog about how graduating from Seminary doesn’t qualify you for ministry (despite that being a primary indicator for hiring churches). Check out his article here, “Why seminary can never qualify anyone for ministry“.

At the end of this article is a free PDF workbook written by Molher, Whitney, and Dumas titled, The Call to Ministry.  It is self-described as:

This is a different sort of book. Or workbook. Or journal. Whatever it is, this resource from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is meant to help you discern whether or not God has called you to ministry. And it’s meant for you to use and devour. You’ll notice pages with blank space; those pages are for you to respond to questions, react to the quotations and reflect on the Scripture references you’ll find throughout. So, open your Bible, get out your pen and discover whether God has called you to this most noble and weighty task.

I downloaded it and will continue to pass this out to those considering full time vocational ministry.

I would upload the PDF here and make it available to all of humanity, but I feel I would be subverting Southern’s goodwill gesture to prospective students and the seminary’s offer to provide the highest quality conservative ministry training available.

So I will leave you with a link.  Check out www.sbts.edu/the-call-to-ministry-journal. If you are willing to give them your email address, they are willing to give you this 128 page invaluable resource, that quite possibly could be a determining factor in understanding God’s call on your life.

 

 

The Hardest Truths for Teenagers in Proverbs

A while ago I introduced the teens in our student ministry to this list of 20 truths that I felt hit home with teenage life. We read through the list first in its entirety. Then I asked each student to rank the top three “hardest to keep” truths for them personally. We then broke into groups based on their number one pick to discuss those topics and why they are hard to keep. We prayed for each other and strategized about how to encourage each other on a regular basis in these areas.

So which of these truths do you think ranked in the top three of teenagers most often? Read through for yourself and see what you would choose.  My poll results are at the very bottom of the article. The list is surprising and insightful.

20 Truths for Teenagers in Proverbs:

  1. Take responsibility for your life. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you alone will bear it.” (Prov. 9:12)
  2. Integrity is your guidance. The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.” (Prov. 11:3)
  3. Shun evil. The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it.” (Prov. 22:3)
  4. Speak the truth.Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.” (Prov. 24:28)
  5. Be humble.When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.”(Prov. 11:2)
  6. Work for your dream. He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty.” (Prov. 28:19)
  7. Diligence is a key to success.A lazy man does not roast his prey, but the precious possession of a man is diligence.” (Prov. 12:27)
  8. Never give up when facing adversity. “If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited.“(Prov. 24:10)
  9. Learn to control yourself. Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.” (Prov. 25:28)
  10. Control your anger. He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.” (Prov. 14:29)
  11. Be prudent about your choice.Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.” (Prov. 4:26)
  12. Train your patience. By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue breaks the bone.” (Prov. 25:15)
  13. Listen before you speak.He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.“(Prov. 18:13)
  14. Talk Less, do more. In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Prov. 14:23)
  15. Stop gossiping. The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body.” (Prov. 18:8)
  16. Don’t flatter others.A man who flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his steps.” (Prov. 29:5)
  17. Pay evil with good.If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.” (Prov. 25:21)
  18. Honor your parents.Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her rejoice who gave birth to you.” (Prov. 23:25)
  19. Choose your companion.He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Prov. 13:20)
  20. Do not envy evil men.Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them.” (Proverb 24:1)

proverbs

These five answers were most commonly given as “hardest to keep” truths according to my student group.

  1. Shun evil. The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it.” (Prov. 22:3)
  2. Honor your parents. “Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her rejoice who gave birth to you.” (Prov. 23:25)
  3. Speak the truth. “Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.” (Prov. 24:28)
  4. Control your anger. He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.” (Prov. 14:29)
  5. Talk Less, do more. In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Prov. 14:23)

Youth Ministry Resources Giveaway

Hey, it free, why not?

If you are a supporter of your Youth Pastor/workers, enter this free contest and give them all the goods if you win!  Its full of resources, and who can say no to that.

They say it is $565 worth of stuff.  If you don’t win, I guess you could just donate $565 and buy it outright, too. 😉

Click ministertoyouth.com for the link to enter with just an email address.

ministry-to-youth-giveaway

4 Myths about Teaching Apologetics in Youth Ministry

I saw this article on youthministry360’s blog. Bam. Right on brother. I believe that apologetics needs to be in the regular diet of christian teens. Check out the full article through this link: 4 Myths About Teaching Apologetics in Youth Ministry

(I addressed the need for more curriculum options in a blog around a year ago. Here is the link if you want access to ton of resources and ideas for High School, Middle School, and Elementary School age Apologetics.  Check it out:  Age-Graded Apologetics Resources)

The 4 myths Benjer McVeigh deals with are accurately described. Thank you Mr. McVeigh for the insights!

Myth 1: I’m not smart enough to teach apologetics.

Books on apologetics are intimidating, even before you open them up to start reading. The latest comprehensive tome on apologetics, Doug Groothuis’ Christian Apologetics, weighs in at an impressive (and heavy) 750 pages. Teaching apologetics may take a bit more work. But you don’t have to be an expert to teach apologetics. You only have to be willing to learn. (In addition, there are some great resources out there that let you learn right along with your students.)

Myth 2: Teenagers don’t care about or aren’t ready for apologetics.

Next time you’ve got a small group of teenagers together, simply ask a question such as, “How can we really know that God exists?” and you’ll likely be peppered with several follow-up questions. Teenagers discuss spiritual matters with their friends far more than we realize. They want to know whether what they’re learning at church is trustworthy. Teenagers are already thinking about apologetics, even if they haven’t ever used the word. And if they’re already asking the questions, they are ready for some solid answers, developmentally speaking.

Myth 3: Apologetics is too academic.

Yes, apologetics does involve a bit more brainpower than some youth minister and their students may be used to using. But it’s OK to make your students think. After all, God created us with brains. He designed us to use them in our pursuit to know Him and to make Him known. I understand the danger of having too much of a “heady” approach to one’s walk with Jesus. But your students can handle a few weeks out of the year dedicated to apologetics. You’ll probably be surprised at how many students end up wanting a whole lot more of it!

Myth 4: Faith means not questioning the Bible or asking whether Christianity is true.

If this is what you’re teaching your students, whether it’s said out loud or implied, please stop. Apologetics can’t answer every single question we have about God, faith, or life in general. And at the end of the day, we can only see and know in part (1 Corinthians 13:12). But there is plenty of evidence available that gives us confidence that what we believe is true. Apologetics not only removes intellectual barriers some people have before they decide to follow Jesus, but it also strengthens followers of Jesus in their faith, because they can have confidence that what they believe is true.

 

Entertaining, Yet Beneficial Advice for the Graduate

Here is some good advice and a few stupid videos. You can decide which is more beneficial for you at the moment. You might want to forward this on to the graduate in your family or friends for a good dose of both. If you are a college or high school graduate you probably have a lot on your mind right now. It is a crazy time for you. My student ministry and church celebrated our seniors a while ago and now reality is setting in. Here is some good advise from the Gospel Coalition if you are entering the “real world”.

Matt Jenson reflects on things to do after college graduation. Read the full article, 12 Things to Do After Graduation, for full and entertaining descriptions of each category when you can, but in the mean-time here is the synopsis.

  1. Do something else – take a risk
  2. Read a book for fun, not because you have to
  3. Find a less than perfect church
  4. Find a less than perfect job
  5. Find a bizarre-never-do-this-in-your-40s kind of job
  6. Focus on a few friends
  7. Learn to cook 5 meals
  8. Tithe 10% of your paycheck
  9. Save 10% of your paycheck
  10. Explore and Examine
  11. Slow down, keep the Sabbath
  12. Pray and meditate on Scripture

After graduating college you remember how easy life used to be, especially during high school!  Rhett and Link have prepared a special, heart-felt video for the high school grads out there. It is full of great quotes like “do you hear that subtle sound? It is the sound of reality about to slap the taste out your mouth.” and “Do you feel that gentle breeze? It’s the category 5 hurricane of adulthood about to hit you upside the head with a tree.”

Ahh graduation. Its is a great time.  Looking back up to the list of things to do. When fulfilling #5 you can always polish up your dance moves and become the 2nd best dancing cotton candy maker of all time…

All in good fun folks!  – Adam

Can you be “Too Theological” for Teens?

–   NO!  –  You can be too boring. You can be a bad communicator. You can refuse to speak their language. But you cannot waste Truth. Theology is how we understand God. If you think someone is “too theological” you probably are reacting against individual characteristics of that person rather the desire to understand and know God.

Sometimes we think that teenagers don’t care about the things of God or they wont understand theology if they were taught it. Shame on us if we believe or propagate this lie. Teenagers today care deeply about spiritual things, they just have had little exposure to Truth! This generation is seeking something real. Why else is there the hunger for social justice we see in young adults if there was no understanding of right and wrong? Why is this generation so driven for purpose and meaning if there is no fulfillment for that desire in something bigger than ourselves?

I believe this generation is starving for good theology. They are hungry for real convictions. And, by the grace of God, when given the opportunity they will soak it up like a sponge. Yet, they can sniff out insincerity like a shark smells a drop of blood in the water. They refuse to play a game when it comes to matters of faith. They are looking: What will you offer them? What will you live out in front of them?

Don’t sell your teenagers short when it comes to theology. If they can do physics and calculus in their school settings, we know they can handle complicated issues when they put their minds to it. Why should it be any different in church? Teenagers will rise to the level of expectation you place on them. If you expect them to only appreciate pizza parties and 3 minute devotionals, that is probably what you will get. If you challenge them to dive into the richness of scripture you may just see a new side of your teenagers.

supremacy

Last night at our student worship service I tested the limits of theology with teenagers. On the verge of summer break I taught on the “Supremacy of Christ over Your Summer”. We read over Colossians 1 and discussed who Christ truly is and how that applies to us right now. The kicker was this video I showed.

John Piper does a 18:53 minute talk on the doctrine of the Supremacy of Christ posted with a symphonic background by Brent Fischer. It planted new thoughts to grow in their mind. It painted a grand picture of Christ, one larger than we can fully comprehend. If you have not seen this video it will be 18 minutes and 53 seconds of well spent time. It will challenge you and give you perspective on the person of Christ.

Did Piper preach this for teens? Of course not. Can it inform and light a fire for teenagers? Yes! Because good theology provides the foundation for a passionate Christian life at any age.

Christian Teens Bullied by Teacher Ignite a Nation-wide Effort

In our day, Christian teens get bullied for their faith by peers and authority figures on a regular basis. One group of teenagers has taken a stand and made a statement to the nation. It all started when a public school teacher in northern Idaho assigned students an essay titled, “I Believe.” But there was one obvious and blatantly biased rule concerning the assignment – the students were not allowed to write anything about God in their papers.

A group of Christian teenagers began to start asking questions. Primarily “Why?”. Why is it not allowed to talk about God in the public school arena by students? Why can’t personal religious commitments be tolerated anymore? Why has christianity in particular been “frozen” out of contemporary culture?

In the aftermath of that event these teenagers decided to produce a video based on the questions that after the school teacher refused to allow students to mention God in their papers. But the video was just the beginning. These teens in Idaho have launched a nation-wide organization.

Reach America – check out their website.

Reach America Facebook  is the social media page for this group of teenagers.

The Huffington Post even did a write up about this group.

This is the power of teenagers who refuse to accept the low expectations placed on their generation and stand up for Christ! Way to go! This is an example for my student ministry and for teenagers across the world to follow Christ.  All Glory to God!