Category Archives: Children’s and Youth Ministry

Saturday Sampler: April 16 — April 22

Blend SamplerHave you been following Leslie A’s excellent series on developing discernment on her Growing 4 Life blog? Even if you haven’t, Learn to Discern: Preparing Your Heart and Mind is very much worth your time and attention. She lays a Biblical foundation for cultivating discernment.

Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day writes Jen Hatmaker, the ‘Christian Machine’, and Genuine Orthodox Christianity in response to Hatmaker’s Good Friday post comparing the backlash to her support of same sex marriage to Christ’s sufferings on the cross. Please,  Ms. Hatmaker,  grow up!

Michelle Lesley has a passion for teaching women how to study the Bible for themselves. Her article, Bible Book Backgrounds: Why You Need Them and Where to Find Them, provides an excellent resource for studying God’s Word.

I so appreciate Rebekah Womble of Wise In His Eyes for her balanced and Biblical perspective in Beware the Lies of Emotionalism. Our culture has wrongly influenced the visible church that feelings, rather than God’s Word, lead us into a right relationship with the Lord.

Writing for Parking Space 23, Allen Cagle encourages church music leaders to ask, Should We Sing That Song? Those of us in the pews might also benefit from these guidelines for evaluating worship music.

The newest trend in evangelical circles exalts “authenticity” and “brokenness.” As Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition Blog says in his piece, Beware of Broken Wolves, false teachers often use these postures as a means of spreading deceit to the rest of Christ’s Body.

 

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What You Win Them With

Love and truthOn a recent episode of The Dividing Line, James White quoted the maxim, “What you win them with is what you win them to.” His, point was that churches using entertainment as a means of evangelism would necessarily then have to continually provide entertainment in order to satisfy their new converts. Otherwise they’d be rightfully accused of bait-and-switch tactics.

Youth ministry, sadly, has become dependent on entertaining young people, rationalizing that teenagers won’t come to meetings that consist solely of Bible Study and singing. Bible Studies must be kept short, youth leaders insist, because teenagers have short attention spans.

Yet these same kids are expected to sit attentively through five periods of classroom instruction each day. Granted, some of their teachers feel obligated to crack jokes constantly to hold their interest, but most teachers don’t. The kids go to school to learn math, literature, history and science, not to play. Their school experience proves that they are perfectly capable of participating in a Bible Study without requiring additional incentives.

Let me say this clearly.  If they’re not interested in the Bible without fun and games, they’re not interested in the Bible. You can have the most outrageous activities you want, but please realize that a steady diet of entertainment does absolutely nothing to attract them to the Lord. Kids, like anybody else, come to Christ by hearing His Word.

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. ~~Romans 10:14-17 (ESV)

Look, I’m not against an occasional pizza party or movie night. I like having fun as much as the next gal. But let’s give adolescents the benefit of the doubt by treating them as young adults who can, by the grace of God, sit through a Bible Study without needing some auxiliary method to lure them in. As James White said, “What you win them with is what you win them to.”

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Saturday Sampler: August 28–September 3

Butterfly Sampler

Not ten minutes had passed from when I said more than necessary in an email until I read The crooked sin of gossip in Elizabeth Prata’s The End Time blog. Elizabeth shares Scriptures in this powerful blog post that underscore God’s righteous indignation at this “respectable” sin.

Inspired by a biography she’s reading on Jonathan Edwards, Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life outlines The Four Missing Elements that possibly indicate a false salvation. She notes similarities between the reliance on religious experience as proof of one’s salvation in the early 19th Century and that same reliance now. She quotes Edwards a couple of times to illustrate what marks the life of a true believer.

In her article, Meme Christianity, Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised questions whether or not posting memes on social media is really effective ministry.

Mere  days before the birth of his first daughter, Jordan Standridge already expresses his  desire that she marry a godly man.In his blog post for The Cripplegate, Should I Marry Him?, Standridge counsels single women on the traits to look for in potential husbands. Happily, John meets the criteria!

Blogging for Satisfaction Through Christ, Kristen answers the question: Why Did God Use a Harlot and a Lie? Most Christians have wondered about that incident. While Kristen could have probably developed her theory a little more, she offers some interesting insight worth consideration.

Andrew David Naseli and J.D. Crowley, writing in the Crossway blog, ask How Reliable Is Your Conscience? It’s an interesting read; don’t miss it.

If you think I refer to Elizabeth Prata a lot, consider the fact that she’s simply been putting out some top-notch stuff lately. In One more reason to avoid Lysa TerKeurst of Elevation Church, Elizabeth both reviews TerKeurst’s church affiliation and encourages us to examine women’s ministries and libraries in our own churches. Remember that it matters who teaches those who in turn teach us.

Kim Witten writes The Secrets of Self-Harm for the blog, Biblical Woman, explaining the widely practiced behaviors of cutting, bulimia and other self-destructive habits that girls and women engage in. She briefly demonstrates how Biblical Counseling can help such women stop hunting themselves.

Carl Trueman, in First Things, contends that our culture’s casual attitude toward sex has resulted in Sex Negative. It’s a sad blog post.  Sad, because we’ve reduced one of the Lord’s most beautiful gifts to a mere tool for selfish pleasure.

Along those same lines, Tim Challies tells us Why Marriage Is Better Than Cohabitation. He raises points I’d never considered before, and clarifies other points that I’ve known for years. If you’re thinking about a sexual relationship without legal marriage, you may need to read Challies’ article.

Familiar Bible passages often need to be read with fresh eyes. Michelle Lesley, writing Making a U-turn on the Road to Emmaus, helps  me see the well-known story in Luke 24:13-35 just a little bit differently than I’d ever seen it. Take a look, and then see whether or not the Lord might have something to say to you.

 

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Saturday Sampler: August 14–August 20

Doily Sampler PinkKim Olsen of DiscernIt posts a transcript of Coy Wylie’s sermon, How to Test the Spirits, which he first preached on March 26, 2000. He faithfully exposits 1 John 4:1-6 to demonstrate how to distinguish between false teaching and solid Biblical doctrine.

I completely agree with Logan Judy’s essay,  Why Entertainment is Costing the Church its Young People in A Clear Lens. God certainly showed me tremendous mercy in my teenage years by placing me in a group that focused almost exclusively on studying the Bible and evangelism.

Michelle Lesley braved the floods of Baton Rouge to give us The Mailbag: Attending a Homosexual “Wedding?” She keeps her answer short and Biblical, making a clear case for her advice.

Praise God for bold women like Elizabeth  Prata of The End Time! Her essay, A Warning to Miracle-Mongers, forces us to consider some lesser publicized implications of miracles. Her perspective gives a sense of sobriety to the discussion that most people fail to consider.

Another on-target article from Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life: Change is in the Wind. I started The Outspoken TULIP  precisely because of the many types of change that loom in our near future,  and for that reason  her blog post wonderfully compliments everything I’ve been writing. Please check out her thoughts and Scriptures of encouragement for believers.

We’ve all experienced conflict when we present the Gospel to loved ones who  don’t know the Lord. In his article, When Jesus Brings a Sword, Tim Challies comforts us by reminding us that the Lord forewarned us about such divisions. If you’re struggling in your evangelistic efforts, this piece will greatly encourage you!

Elly Achok Olare, a Reformed pastor from Kenya, writes How God Saved Me from the Prosperity Gospel for The Gospel Coalition Blog. His poignant testimony highlights the spiritual abuse that Pentecostal and Charismatic theology often inflicts on suffering people.

Do you understand what the Roman Catholic Church means by the term “unity?” Mark Gilbert’s blog post, Is the Pope Catholic for GoThereFor.com answers that question in a startling way. If you support ecumenical efforts, you may want to consider what Gilbert says and possibly reevaluate your position.

Social action in missions had always seemed like a good idea to me…until recently.  I have developed some of the same concerns that The Cripplegate’s Joel James expresses in his blog post, 2 problems with social action in missions. I look forward to reading the remainder of this series next week.

Jared C. Wilson’s article for The Gospel Coalition Blog, Top 10 Things I Wish Worship Leaders Would Stop Saying hits the nail on the head! Church services aren’t high school pep rallies, nor is having fun the reason we gather on Sunday mornings. I praise God that Wilson reminds us to treat worship with reverence.
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Saturday Sampler: July 31–August 6

Vexel Rose Trio

Douglas Wilson runs Blog & Mablog, featuring essays that frequently fly well over my head.But I understand his pithy article Little Hellions, which points out the tyrannical nature of emotions. Not only do I understand it…I wholeheartedly agree with it! Postmodern evangelicals greatly need to consider Wilson’s perspective.

Of course I love Jane Austen! So when Tim Challies’ blog post, Jane Austen’s Prayer showed up in my email inbox, I got excited. This prayer definitely won’t disappoint you!

Clint Archer, in his weekly contribution to Cripplegate, gives his article a short and intriguing title. Deaconesses? Six reasons explores whether or not the position of deaconess has Biblical merit. Clint answers the various questions about deaconesses from the Word of God, giving much needed clarity on the matter.

If you’re in the mood for a good,Biblical challenge, The Gritty, Grace-Filled Virtue of Self-Control by Courtney McLean of Biblical Woman ought to fit the bill.Courtney looks at self-control as the key to walking in the Spirit.

What Exactly Are “Women’s Issues”? asks Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised. She makes a strong and decidedly passionate case for women learning all of God’s Word…not just the passages on marriage and motherhood.

Back in 2013, the Lighthouse Trails Research blog published the full contents of Roger Oakland’s booklet, How To Know When The Emerging Church Shows Signs Of Emerging Into Your Church. I can’t wholly endorse Lighthouse Trails Research, but this particular article matches many other essays I’ve read as well as my own experience in my last church. And for that reason , I believe people need the information Oakland presents.

Another blog post from Cripplegate, this time written by Eric Davis, assists us in Responding to Miracle Claims based  on personal experience. I would add only that some alleged faith healers have people planted in their crusades who get out of their wheelchairs on cue to give an impression of credibility to the healers.

Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life lets us in on The Thing About Wolves by reminding us about Judas Iscariot. Her blog post also teaches us how to discern false teachers.

The problem with tolerating false teachers is… by Elizabeth  Prata of The End Time directs our attention to how our lack of discernment affects young adults in our churches. I’d never considered that aspect before, but it definitely makes a lot of sense!

Michelle Lesley speaks directly to pastors in Build the Wall and  Station the Guard: A Plea for Pastors to Protect 6 Areas of the Church Vulnerable to False Doctrine in her latest blog post. Not only do her points help pastors, but they remind the rest of us to avoid certain influences.

In his blog, Vassal of the King, Geoffrey Kirkland shows ways to Read the Bible as Your Spiritual Food. I like his emphasis on attitude rather than methodology.
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Saturday Sampler: July 17-July 23

Tulip Sampler 02Rachel of danielthree18 isn’t a singer with R.E.M., but she’s correct in her assessment that It’s the End of the World as We Know It. I appreciated her thoughts on the persecution that Christians really should expect.

Rather than imitating the tactics of those who glamorize spiritual warfare, why not look at it from a Biblical perspective?  Elizabeth  Prata of The End Time has done that very thing in her essay, Spiritual Warfare: What Is It? Please read her Scriptural explanation of this oft misunderstood practice.

I am Ashamed, another probing article by Rachel (okay, I read danielthree18 a lot), looks at why Christian women shouldn’t be ashamed, but also why we should.

So Beth Moore has written another “Bible Study” book on 2 Timothy called Entrusted. Bud Ahlheim, reviewing it for Pulpit and Pen, comments that Beth Moore Entitles Latest Series “Entrusted;” Correct Title Should Be “Mistrusted”…and for good reason. Ahlheim uses a tone that I find unnecessarily snarky, but he also raises important concerns about Mrs. Moore.

In  her Throwback Thursday blog post, Michelle Lesley offers a great example of proper Biblical interpretation. Check out In Case You Were Wondering: Wise Men, Astrology and Horoscopes to learn whether or not God endorses astrology.

Understanding forgiveness needn’t be complicated by psychological distinctions.  Jared Olivetti of Gentle Reformation takes us straight to God’s Word to demonstrate what it means When We Say, “I Forgive You.” Prepare to be convicted.

I definitely applaud Eric MacKiddie of The Gospel Coalition for writing Stop Trying to Make The Bible Relevant to Teenagers. Can we please treat these young people with respect by leading them through verse-by-verse Bible Study and showing them how God’s Word really does apply to their lives?
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Autobiography With Purpose: A Wheelstroke Closer

First visit with JohnSince neither of us can walk, John wanted to take our relationship “one wheelstroke at a time.” Easy for him to say, since he had been living in the Greater Boston Area pretty much all his life. He knew, of course, that I’d moved back to San  Rafael, California just a few short months before we first chatted online, but he had no idea that my interest in a future with him required me to put off major life decisions until  either he proposed or we broke up.

John’s Polio had affected his breathing, making plane travel unwise (and probably dangerous) for him. Consequently, I would have to make all the visits, as well as be the one to move if we married. For that reason, the course of our relationship would affect my future more dramatically than it would affect his. This being the case, I felt an urgency about our future that wanted a faster progression of “wheelstrokes” than John seemed willing to make. In addition to my own eagerness (after all, I was in my mid-40s), I felt pressure from other people to make decisions about my life.

Most notably,  a family member had legitimate concerns about my mom’s ability to care for me in her advancing age. She threatened to find a nursing home for me if I didn’t make an effort to procure a new living situation. Thankfully, I convinced her to wait until we knew what would happen with John. That decision, along with other major decisions, had to stay on hold.

I did, however, begin teaching the Junior High Sunday School class at Church of the Open Door, knowing that it could be a temporary ministry while I waited. I thought it might teach me to control my temper (it didn’t), and the church really  needed teachers for that age group. Other than teaching that class once every three Sundays,  I tried to minimize my attachment to San  Rafael…just in case the Lord brought me and John together.

But John made a significant “wheelstroke” on March 31, 1999 by telling me that he loved me. Not long afterwards, we began making plans for my first visit.

Knowing that we believed we loved each other didn’t assure me that we’d feel the same when we   met face-to-face. Nor did it mean that the Lord wanted us to marry. To further complicate matters (at least from my perspective), a former girlfriend of John’s contacted him as she was dying of cancer. Remembering how my feelings for Bob intensified after he died, I feared that this lady’s death would have a similar effect on John. So I tried to approach my upcoming visit with the attitude that God might use it to show us that He wanted us to just be friends.

Often, when I struggled with confusion and frustration over John, I’d drive my power wheelchair around Terra Linda and pour out my feelings to the Lord. I remember one afternoon when I sat in a secluded little park (a favorite of mine, even though I seldom got to go there) and prayed. I comforted myself with the thought that, even if things with John didn’t work out, the Lord would have blessed me with the opportunity to see Boston.

When John greeted me at Logan Airport that October evening by kissing my hand, I knew it wouldn’t be our last visit. He, on the other hand,  had such difficulty feeding me (selfishly, I’d asked him to do it from my left) that he went home from  my hotel sorrowful that he saw no way of making a marriage with me work.

For my first full day that visit, John planned a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts followed by a lobster dinner in the Oak Room at the Copley Fairmont Hotel. He’d known that I spent the night of my Senior Prom studying Macbeth, so he wanted to make it up to me. Therefore he figured that, rather than spoil my “prom night.” he’d wait until the next day to break the news.

He hadn’t counted on our first in-person date confirming that he was in love.

The next day, before we had lunch with his mom and his pastor,  we kissed for the first time. Later that evening we had dinner at Wolleston Beach with our Personal Care Attendants, and at his church on Sunday I joined him in doing the Children’s Sermon.

Breaking up was the last thing on our minds when John and I said goodbye at Logan Airport that Monday. We’d taken a big “wheelstroke” in our relationship, trusting that the Lord Jesus Christ had plans for us. As yet, I wasn’t certain He had marriage in His will for us, but I sure had hope!

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