Books I’ve Read Recently

brunoThe Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses by Chris Bruno. The title of this book alone captures my attention. How can someone condense the entire story of the Bible by using just 16 verses? I have to admit I was a bit skeptical. However, Bruno has done a great job in this book at tracing the grand redemptive narrative of the Bible by pointing and explaining just 16 verses. Each verses builds upon the one before and hits major points in the storyline of Scripture. I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend to anyone who wants to be reminded of what the Bible is all about. It’s not a book made up of random stories that don’t really relate. It’s a book that unfolds God’s plan of redemption from start to finish.

51cBGPNUqFL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_You Are What You Love by James Smith. After seeing a lot a people praise this book I decided to grab a copy of it and read it for myself. The basic premise of this book seemed to be that discipleship is more about your heart than your head. In the opening chapter, Smith says, “Discipleship is more a matter of hungering and thirsting than of knowing and believing” (page 2). Smith doesn’t argue knowledge is not important, but that Christian discipleship is a journey of retraining our hearts to love and worship the right things. Throughout the book Smith explains how that looks and even spends a few chapters talking about how that looks in local church worship, the home, and in raising children. This book was one of those books that forced me chew on what was said and argued even after I was done. It was an excellent read and would recommend it to anyone who wants to be stretched in their view of discipleship.

0801065593What is Reformed Theology? by R.C. Sproul. This book have been around since the late 90’s but it has been a go to book for people who want to get basic understanding of Reformed theology. I personally lean towards Reformed theology pretty heavily myself. I’ve been influenced over the years by many Reformed preachers and writers. However, I did attend Bible college at a school that was dispensational in their theology (even though it had a hint of Reformed theology due to a few professors). Even though I consider myself pretty reformed in my theology I have always had lingering questions about certain points. This book helped answer those questions and made me even more confident that Reformed theology (although not perfect – no theological system or framework is) is very Biblical and interprets God’s Word well. The book in broken down into two major sections. In the first section Sproul explains what Reformed theology is based on. The second section walks through the TULIP (total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints) which is the basic outline and framework of Reformed theology. This is a great book for anyone who wants a basic understanding of Reformed theology.

Two other books I’ve recently read that I chose not to review are Adopted for Life by Russell Moore and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

Top Posts from 2016

foko4dpxamq-eric-rothermelAt the end of every year I like to share the top posts here on my site. These are posts that I wrote during the year that had the highest views. Below are my top four posts from 2016.

What I Teach My Students About Alcohol. It’s not a surprise this was my most read post from this year. In this post I share three points I make when I teach students about alcohol from God’s Word. Included in this post is a message I shared this year on Noah and him getting drunk after the flood.

Biblical Principles For Teen Dating. Earlier this year I shared a message with my highs school students on dating. Since dating is never mentioned in the Bible (it didn’t even exist back then) I shared principles from the Bible that should be applied to dating. This post is basically that message condescend into a shorter post.

Freebie: Acts Teaching Series. I enjoy sharing things I have done with our students here on my site. A few years back I did a eight week teaching series on the book of Acts. I decided to share that entire series for free here on my site. It was great hearing how other people took it and used it in their ministries. I hope more people continue to come across it and use it themselves.

Book Review: Can I Smoke Pot? This was one of the best books I read this past year. It’s a very short book on how Christians should approach the topic of marijuana. I would encourage every Christian to take the time and read this book. It will help you understand what the Bible says in regards to this issue and how we should respond.

It has been a great year of posts. Looking forward to posting more this coming year!

Biblical Principles for Teen Dating

Teen_datingDating is part of the teenage experience. Most teenagers at some point will engage in dating relationships. As someone who works with teenagers I have seen almost everything when it comes to teens and dating. I have seen middle school students “fall in love.” I have seen high school students date for years and continue dating into their college years. I have seen teenagers hit rock bottom as the person they are dating ends the relationship. I have seen teenagers jump from one dating relationship to another just because they need that “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” relationship. I have sat with students who are dating that honestly want to honor God in their relationship so they set boundaries and spiritual goals for their relationship. If you are around teenagers, maybe as a parent or youth worker like me, you have seen some of this stuff. If you care about teenagers, as parents and youth workers do, you want to help them navigate and work through the strange world of dating.

So when it comes to dating many of us want to know what does the Bible says so that we can pass it  on to teenagers. We want them to obey God’s Word in all areas of their lives, especially when it comes to dating relationships. But here is the tricky part – the Bible doesn’t address dating. Yep, dating is never mentioned or even referred to in God’s Word. The simple answer as to why is because dating as we know it today didn’t exist back then.

So what are we to do? First, we tell them the Bible doesn’t address it. We need to be honest about that. Second, we look into God’s Word and draw principles out of it that can be applied to dating. That’s what we need to pass on to teenagers. We need to show them clear Biblical principles that can and should be applied to dating so they can go about it in a way that honors and glorifies God.

Here are some Biblical principles that can and should be applied to dating relationships. These are the Biblical truths we should pass on to teenagers to help them date in a way that would honor God.

Obey your parents dating rules. When it comes to dating, parents have different views. Some parents encourage it while other strongly discourage it. Some allow their children to date whenever their kid decides to while others set an age when their children can start dating. No matter what the rules are God expects teenagers to obey their parents. Ephesians 6:1 (ESV) says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Parents should set rules and boundaries for their teenagers when it comes to dating and teenagers should obey those rules.

Date other Christians. Christian teenagers should date other Christians. When a Christian teenager decides to date a non-Christian it usually hinders the faith of the Christian teenager. They will usually be pulled away from their relationship with God and be tempted to walk in a way that doesn’t line up with their Christian faith. In 2 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV) says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” Even though this verse is usually applied to marriage, it also can be applied to dating. If we would encourage Christians to marry Christians, doesn’t it make sense to encourage Christians to date other Christians? I think so. In this video, Tim Keller explains how it’s not practical for Christians to date non-Christians. In her book Sex and Dating, Mindy Meier adds a good point to remember. She says, “It’s fine to have friendships with non-Christians, but do not commit to anyone who does not share your same faith. True compatibility grows from a join quest to follow God, to conform your life to the guidelines of the Bible and to draw from the spiritual resources found in Christ.”

Pursue sexual purity. The biggest issue with teenage dating is the door it opens to sexual temptation. I have never met a teenage dating couple who does not struggle in this area. Teenagers need to understand that God created sex to be enjoyed in the context of marriage. When you engage in sex, or any sexual activity for that matter, outside of marriage it is sin. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 (ESV) says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” First Corinthians 6:18 (ESV) says, “Flee from sexual immorality..” Both of these verses use the term “sexual immorality,” which is the Biblical term that covers all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage. Teenagers should know that the Bible considers more than just intercourse outside of marriage a sin. God commands us to abstain and flee from any sexual activity outside of marriage.

Don’t let the person you are dating become the center of your life. Many times when teenagers date they place the person they are dating at the center of their lives. They neglect friends, family, and even God at times because their boyfriend or girlfriend has become the most important person in their life. Teenagers must understand that God should be the most important person in their lives. He doesn’t tolerate or share that spot with anyone. Whenever we put anything before God, it’s becomes idolatry. It’s safe to say many teenagers make the person they are dating an idol. Teenagers who desire to maintain a healthy dating relationship will not put the person they are dating as their first priority.

A few weeks ago I talked to our students about dating in our “Dating, Marriage, and Sex” series. Much of what I posted above was from that talk. However, if you want to hear more about these Biblical principles that can be applied to dating I’d encourage you to listen to that talk online. Click here to listen.

Story Teller God – Two Debtors

A few weeks ago we had Student Ministry Sunday at Christ Community Chapel (Stow Campus). This is a Sunday where our students takeover our worship services and they lead and serve our congregation. It’s aways a blast! You can click here to read more about what we did.

One of the things I get to do each year when we do Student Ministry Sunday is preach. I love speaking to our students on a weekly basis but it’s always a joy and honor to preach to our whole congregation. We have been in a series called “Story Teller God” where we are looking at some of the parables Jesus taught. I preached on the two debtors from Luke 7:36-50. Below is the video of this sermon that you can watch. Also, click here if you want to check out other sermons from this series.

Books I’ve Read Recently

gospelGospel by JD Greear. This book has been on my reading list for a while. I decided to go ahead and read it in preparation for a teaching series I was doing with my students on the gospel. What I found was not only a helpful book for shaping and writing that series, but a book that challenged me personally and helped me go deeper in my love and understanding of the gospel. Greear says, “The gospel is the announcement that God has reconciled us to Himself by sending His Son Jesus to die as a substitute for our sins, and that all who repent and believe have eternal life in Him. I want you to see the gospel not only as a means by which you get into heaven, but as the driving force behind every single moment of your life” (page 5). This books helps Christians understand that the gospel is everything. “The gospel is not merely the diving board off which you jumped into the pool of Christianity,” says Greear, “the gospel is the pool itself” (page 248). The book is centered around what Geear calls “The Gospel Prayer.” It’s a tool Geear says helps him saturate himself in the gospel. He spends the majority of the book walking the reader through that prayer and helping them understand the implications of the gospel on their life. I really enjoyed chapter 8, which was on generosity. Geear does an excellent job at explaining what the relationship should be like between a gospel-centered believer and money. It was both a challenging and refreshing chapter to read. I’ve always enjoyed Greear books and would recommend this one to everyone who wants to go deeper in their love and understanding of the gospel.

HoleInHolinessBookCoverThe Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung. I read my first book by DeYoung not long ago so I was excited to grab a copy of this book and give it a read. I also really enjoy reading, discussing, and studying the topic of personal holiness in the Christian life, which is what this book is about.  DeYoung spends the first chapter of this book surveying the landscape of holiness within Christianity today. He states there is a “gap between our love for the gospel and our love for godliness” (page 21). At first, I wasn’t sure if I agreed with DeYoung or not. But the deeper I got into this book the more I saw what he was pointing to. An intentional, disciplined pursuit of holiness is not a major theme in Christianity today. I have even seen this tread in my own Christian life at times. In this book, DeYoung urges the Christian to pursue holiness and make it a priority in their life. DeYoung keeps the gospel and Biblical teaching at the center of this encouragement. This was a short, easy to read book and God used it to help give me a better understanding of my relationship with holiness as a Christian.

41N8edp473L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Other Preacher in Lynchburg by John KillingerI have always been fascinated with reading and researching the life and ministry of Jerry Falwell Sr. Even though I don’t agree with all the things he did, I have great respect for his love for God and his boldness to do great things for God while he was on this earth. His legacy can been clearly seen in Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church, both located in Lynchburg, VA. I ran across this book a few years ago on amazon and just now got around to reading it. I was excited to read a book about Falwell and his endeavors in Lynchburg through the eyes of another pastor that was in town during Fallwell’s prime. If you do any research on Killinger, you will quickly find him and Falwell were on very different sides of major issues regarding Christianity. However, this book isn’t necessarily focused on the theological differences of Killinger and Falwell, even though that obviously came up a few times, but more on what it was like for Killinger as a pastor doing ministry in the same town as Falwell. The book covers Killinger’s time both in Lynchburg and his time after moving away from Lynchburg to take another ministry position in Los Angles. This was very interesting book that made me appreciate Falwell even more, but at the same time scratch my head and wonder why he did some of the things he did.