At 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!
There are a few books I consider “must reads” for people in student ministry (if you want to know what they are ask me). Recently I read a book I would add to that list and it’s called Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry. It’s one of the most theological and practical books I have ever read in regards to student ministry.
One of the strengths of this book is the variety of voices. Every chapter focuses on a different area of student ministry and each chapter is written by someone who has a passion and gifting in that area. Each chapter is written pretty much in the same way – a section on how the Gospel informs and shapes that area of student ministry and a section on how to practically grow in that area of student ministry. Also, at the end of each chapter there is a list of recommended books on the subject of the chapter.
Two of my favorite chapters were Eric McKiddie’s chapter on expositional teaching and Tom Olson’s chapter on singing. All the chapters in this book were excellent but these two were the ones that impacted me the most.
In McKiddie’s chapter, he argues that teaching the Bible is the main task of anyone in student ministry. He says, “While fun is an indispensable part of youth ministry, your main task is to convince your students, week after week, why they need Jesus and to show how the Gospel profoundly after every area of life” (page 55). He believes expositional teaching is the best method for this. After giving his reasons for expositional teaching in student ministry he gives some practical steps in how to craft a Biblical expositional sermon for students. His steps serve as great reminders for people newer to writing sermons as well as to seasoned veterans. Olson’s chapter on singing was another one that I really enjoyed. He argues that corporate worship should be vital a part of student ministry. He says, “It’s not just a warm-up for the message or a means to corral hyperactive teenagers. God has made singing important. Singing is vital for the health of our students and the strength of our ministries and, in harmony with strong teaching, singing will get the word of Christ dwelling richly in their lives” (page 142).
I could say more about these two chapters and the rest of the book but I’d rather you grab a copy and read it for yourself. If you’re in student ministry I’d highly suggest this book for you and your team.
Starting with this post I will be sharing a four part series on walking with God through pain & suffering. Two things prompted this series of posts. First, Tim Keller’s book Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering. I read that book recently during a season when my wife and I were walking through a very painful time in our life and marriage. Second, at the time of writing this series of posts I am teaching a series by the same title to our middle and high school students. I’m taking those sermons and condensing them into a series of posts. I hope you find them encouraging and challenging as you walk with God through the pain and suffering this life throws at you.
In this first post I want to share three truths Christianity gives us in regards to pain and suffering. All religions say something about pain and suffering. However, Christianity gives the best answer and the most hope in times of pain and suffering.
Christianity holds to the reality of pain and suffering. Christianity doesn’t ignore, explain away, or excuse pain and suffering. In fact, Christianity holds to the reality of pain and suffering as something we all experience in this fallen world. Job 14:1 says, “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.” Even Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows” (John 16:33 NLT). Throughout the Bible we encounter men and women who went through tremendous pain and suffering. The Bible doesn’t skip over it or glamorize it. Instead it shows us the reality of it. It’s important to note as well that most of the people who experienced pain and suffering in the Bible were people who loved and followed God. This reminds us that Christians don’t get a pass on experiencing pain and suffering. Many times being a Christian means we experience more pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is real and no one escapes it.
God is sovereign over pain and suffering. This is where it gets tricky. Christianity holds to the reality of pain and suffering but it also gives us a God who is above it and more powerful than it. One of the clearest examples of this is found in the book of Job. In Job 1:6-12 we see Satan coming to God in order to get permission to put pain and suffering into Job’s life. R.C. Sproul sums it up like this: “Satan can do only what the sovereign God allows him to do.” This exchange in the book of Job is very important because it shows us that pain and suffering cannot enter into our lives without first going through the hands of our Lord.
God has a purpose behind pain and suffering. That last point can be hard to swallow. But the truth is in God’s sovereignty He has a purpose behind the pain and suffering He allows. He doesn’t just allow it into our lives for no reason. Verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 don’t let us off the hook and give us a pass from pain and suffering, but they both remind us that God has a plan and purpose behind it. These two verses also remind us that sometimes to experience God’s divine purposes we have to go through the fires of pain and suffering.
Below is the sermon where I preached the content above. In the next post I will share some of the reasons God allows pain and suffering into our lives. I hope you come back to check that post out as we continue this series about walking with God through pain and suffering.
The book of Acts is an incredible book. In it we see the beginnings of the New Testament church and how God used ordinary people to do extraordinary things. We see how God used ordinary men and women to build His church by spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. Throughout the book of Acts we read story after story of how people encountered the Gospel and were changed. We read stories of people who gave up everything to serve Christ. We read stories of God doing incredible things through people so His glory and truth can be revealed and spread to more and more people.
Below you will find a link to a six week teaching series on the book of Acts that I have written and taught. I’m sharing this completely free! It’s not an exhaustive series by any means but instead it highlights a few stories from Acts where we see God doing amazing things in the life of the early church. This series includes six teaching manuscripts as well as small group questions that go with each of the six teaching sessions. There is a also a 40 day reading plan for the book of Acts.
Please keep in mind this series was originally written for and taught to students. However, it’s a great series for other audiences as well so feel free to tweak it and use it how it best fits your context. The link below will give you access to all the files for this teaching series. I hope this is a blessing to you and your ministry!