Worth Your Time 5/1/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

Why Not Gay Marriage? by Kevin DeYoung (The Gospel Coalition)
“Is there any reason a decent, rational, non-bigoted American might oppose same-sex marriage? Just as important: Are there any decent, rational, non-bigoted Americans who are willing to consider why other Americans might have plausible reasons for opposing same-sex marriage? This blog post is my way of saying “yes” to the first question and “let’s hope so” to the second.”
[On this same topic, I recommend Mike Riccardi’s post about whether or not the Bible talks about loving homosexual relationships or if it only condemns abusive homosexual relationships.]

Pray for Nepal by Tony Reinke (Desiring God)
“Viewed through this prism of the cross, Christ is exactly what my nation needs now. We tend to think that gospel would be ineffective or inappropriate to preach while people suffer so deeply. But it is the other way round. The gospel is the message of a broken Savior who is relevant to reach into broken lives right now. He is the only true comfort my country can have in this suffering.”

Today’s Teens and their Tech by Jonathan McKee (The Source 4 Youth Ministry)
“Last week Pew Research’s Amanda Lenhart released their brand new report on Teens, Social Media and Technology, providing us with the newest data on how many kids are actually online, engaging in social media, and using mobile devices.”

Remember Who You Are! by Todd Hill (Rooted Ministry)
“The reason I think that our students’ biggest struggle is living in their new identity, is because my biggest struggle is living in my new identity. Daily, I have to say to my Kingly Father, ‘Please help me not to live as an orphan today, but to live as your son!'”

God’s Will Isn’t Always Clear by Jon Bloom (Desiring God)
“But if we really love Jesus, we will increasingly love what he loves — we will be transformed by renewed minds. And our love for him and his kingdom will be revealed in the pattern of small and large decisions that we make.”

Replacing the Center of Youth Ministry by Josh Cousineau (Gospel Centered Discipleship)
“We must not point our youth toward empty religion but to a love-filled cross, a beaten and battered Savior, a King who defeated His foe, a risen Lord who rescues our hearts. To the one who beckons us, ‘Come, rest, and be accepted not because of what you have done but because I love you.’ The cross secures our affections to the one who was placed on it.”

The World Map of Christian Apps by Jeffrey Kranz (Disciplr)
“Devotionals, Bible readers, church management software—there are so many Christian apps out there! So the Disciplr team and I plotted the first ‘World Map of Christian Apps’: a visual guide to the landscape of digital tools created for the Church. This map pulls together Christian apps of all kinds: from native iOS and Android, Web-based, desktop software, and even a PowerPoint plugin. It’s not a comprehensive list, but it should give you an idea of what’s out there. And of course, remember that this is an observation, not a recommendation.”

Worth Your Time 4/10/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

The Most Important Thing My Parents Did, by Tim Challies (Challies)
“I ask the question from time-to-time. Why are all five of my parents’ kids following the Lord, while so many of our friends and their families are not? Obviously I have no ability to peer into God’s sovereignty and come to any firm conclusions. But as I think back, I can think of one great difference between my home and my friends’ homes—at least the homes of my friends who have since walked away from the Lord and his church.”

Kids, Marijuana, and Reasoning Through the Dangers, by Walt Mueller (CPYU)
“In this case, the culture isn’t doing any favors for those of us who want to steer kids away from that which can cause harm of all kinds. Even when science offers compelling evidence, a growing number of kids are recklessly, impulsively, and foolishly choosing to do long-term harm to themselves. . . and justifying it all as benign.”

Do You Believe in Confirmation Bias, by Kenneth R. Morefield (Christianity Today)
“If Do You Believe? sometimes feels less tribal and triumphal than God’s Not Dead, it’s probably because Bobby’s story and the doctor’s story aren’t the center of the film (like Radisson’s), since they’re interwoven with several other storylines. …When [Christian movies] represent Christians interacting with other Christians or depict Christians struggling with internal conflicts, they are rarely culturally offensive and often inspiring or uplifting. But when they portray Christians interacting with non-Christians, they rely too much on flat, stereotypical villains whose only real function is to deliver rhetorical equivalents of slow, hanging curveballs for the Christian heroes to knock out of the park.”

The Most Widely Misunderstood Story in the Bible, by Lyndon Unger (Cripplegate)
“I’d suggest that the most widely known is probably the story of David and Goliath, and that story is always misunderstood…hence the title. Usually, the story is generally taken as some sort of underdog tale meant to encourage people to tackle impossible odds, or something along those lines. Sorry. That is not what it’s about.”

Never Sorry Enough, by Tim Challies (Challies)
“My friend expressed remorse and asked forgiveness, just like he should have. There were no amends he could make and no further actions he could take to make things right—that was not the nature of this offense. So he moved on. We remained friends. … But sometimes that old hurt would creep up. Sometimes I would find myself hurt all over again by that old offense. … I had judged his apology sincere but insufficient, well-intentioned but trite…. I had to see that no one can ever be sorry enough. No one can ever be contrite enough. Not him, and not me.

What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?, by Kevin DeYoung (DeYoung @ The Gospel Coalition)
You can find a number of helpful resources here about the forthcoming book, “What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?” on this page.

Worth Your Time 4/3/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

4 Reasons to Believe in the Empty Tomb, by Rez Rezkalla (The Gospel Coalition)
“Was the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth found empty after his crucifixion? If not, then Christianity is the greatest lie in history. The apostle Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised fro the dead then your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). While the historicity of the empty tomb does not by itself prove the resurrection, it plays an important role.”

Is Mental Illness Actually Biblical?, by Stephen Altrogge (The Blazing Center)
“If I believe that sin has affected every part of my body, including my brain, then it shouldn’t surprise me when my brain doesn’t work correctly. I’m not surprised when I get a cold; why should I be surprised if I experience mental illness? To say that depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar, and every other disorder, are purely spiritual disorders is to ignore the fact that we are both body and soul. Mental illness is not something invented by secular psychiatrists. Rather, it is part and parcel with living in fallen, sinful world.”

It’s Time To Bench Virginity Pledges, by Cameron Cole (Rooted)
“Purity pledges tend to emphasize the commitment of the young person. The decision, signified by the certificate or ring, is central. Given our desperate need for God’s help in such a challenging struggle, greater attention needs to be given to God’s commitment to us. When we face temptation, God pledges to give us a way out. When we are caving, God promises us the Holy Spirit to lead us away from sin. When we fall, God commits to forgive and restore us in our contrition.”

Researchers Pinpoint the Optimal Amount of Math & Science Homework, by Jim Liebelt (HomeWord)
“When it comes to adolescents with math and science homework, more isn’t necessarily better — an hour a day is optimal — but doing it alone and regularly produces the biggest knowledge gain, according to research.”

Contradicting Bible Contradictions (website)
This is a website that answers specific “contradictions” that skeptics raise to show why we should not trust the Bible. This is a helpful site that is worth bookmarking on your internet browser so you can find it again when the need arises.

Worth Your Time 3/20/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

Things I Would Do Differently if I Were Raising My Children Again, by Mark Altrogge (The Blazing Center)
“My children are adults now and several have children of their own. We had lots of fun as a family, and I have lots of great memories of raising our kids. But in retrospect, I think I would have done a number of things differently. So I share them in hopes that younger parents might benefit and not make some of the mistakes I did. Some things I would do differently…”

How to Read Your Bible for Yourself, by John Piper (Desiring God)
Look at the Book is John Piper’s latest effort to help teach people to read the Bible for themselves. It’s an ongoing series of 8–12 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher.”

Why Our Children Don’t Think There are Moral Facts, by Justin McBrayer (New York Times)
“…if students are already showing up to college with this view of morality, it’s very unlikely that it’s the result of what professional philosophers are teaching. So where is the view coming from?

A few weeks ago, I learned that students are exposed to this sort of thinking well before crossing the threshold of higher education. When I went to visit my son’s second grade open house, I found a troubling pair of signs hanging over the bulletin board.”

What Not to Ask Someone Suffering, by Nancy Guthrie (Desiring God)
“People ask me all the time what to say and what to do for people who are grieving the death of someone they love. And I’m glad they ask. I’m glad they want to know what is really helpful and meaningful, and what is completely unhelpful and actually hurtful. And I wish I could tell you that I always know myself what to say. But sometimes words fail me. And I wish I could tell you that I never say the wrong thing. But I do. In fact, a few days ago, I made the mistake I often tell other people not to make.”

It’s the Little Things, by Nicholas Batzig (Ligonier)
“God loves to bless the little things His people do. Sometimes they are small acts, and sometimes they only appear to be so. Jesus cares deeply about the little things that His people do to bless others in His church. He takes note of them as precious acts of service. He uses the little things that His people do to carry on His work in the world through His church. May God give all of us grace to cultivate faithfulness in the little things that we do.”

3 Wrong Things That Some Christians Think About Heaven, by Justin Taylor (The Gospel Coalition)
“Davis shows that the following ideas, even though they are common, are unbiblical:

  1. Heaven is only future.
  2. Heaven is only spiritual.
  3. Heaven is inaccessible.”

Worth Your Time 3/13/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

Don’t Follow Your Heart, by Jon Bloom (Desiring God)
“The truth is, no one lies to us more than our own hearts. No one. If our hearts are compasses, they are Jack Sparrow compasses. They don’t tell us the truth, they just tell us what we want. If our hearts are guides, they are Gothels. They are not benevolent, they are pathologically selfish. In fact, if we do what our hearts tell us to do we will pervert and impoverish every desire, every beauty, every person, every wonder, and every joy. Our hearts want to consume these things for our own self-glory and self-indulgence.”

Parenting Well in a Digital World, by Tim Challies (Challies.com)
“We tend to think that no one has ever endured what we are enduring today. The truth is, this is a recurring pattern. Time and time again the world has witnessed technological explosions that have changed everything. Today we are at a new frontier, and we—you and I—have to do the difficult work of learning to use these things well. Instead of choosing fear, we need to choose familiarity. Instead of fearing new technologies, let’s investigate them and look for ways we can use them to advance God’s cause. Let’s investigate the benefits and the risks, and learn how to use these things to carry out God’s calling. And then let’s put them to work in doing good for others and bringing glory to God.”

The Cost of Relativism, by David Brooks (New York Times)
“….We now have multiple generations of people caught in recurring feedback loops of economic stress and family breakdown, often leading to something approaching an anarchy of the intimate life.

“But it’s increasingly clear that sympathy is not enough. It’s not only money and better policy that are missing in these circles; it’s norms. The health of society is primarily determined by the habits and virtues of its citizens. In many parts of America there are no minimally agreed upon standards for what it means to be a father. There are no basic codes and rules woven into daily life, which people can absorb unconsciously and follow automatically.”

Is Your Gospel Too Small?, by Amy L. Sherman (The Gospel Coalition)
“With a theology that’s all about getting a ticket to heaven for when I die, it’s not surprising that many Christians don’t show much interest in the question of how to live life now, inthis world. When our churches teach a salvation that is only from (from sin and death), it’s not hard to understand why so many believers don’t seem to know what salvation is for. And if we preach a gospel that is only, or mainly, about “saving souls,” we shouldn’t be shocked if we end up with congregations that are not very motivated to care for bodies and material needs.”

Canadian Parents Forced to Talk About Sex, by Jonathan McKee (JonathanMcKeeWrites.com
“Last week I flew to Toronto for a timely interview about my new book More Than Just the Talk on the Canadian TV show 100 Huntley Street (airing late March). This new book asserts, ‘parents need to create a comfortable climate of continual conversations about sex’ … a sore subject for Canadian parents right now, who feel their hand is being forced by this new curriculum.

“The interview was intriguing. I can’t say I disagreed with their frustration with ‘Big Brother’ stepping in and saying, ‘We’re going to teach your kids about sex because you don’t!’

“But it really raises the question: How come so many parents ‘don’t’?”

6 Reasons Why Sexual Predators Target Churches, by Tim Challies (Challies.com)
“It is terrible but true—sexual predators target churches. In the mind of a predator, a church offers a compelling target and, too often, an easy target. I recently worked my way through On Guard by Deepak Reju and learned that there are at least 6 reasons why sexual predators specifically target churches.”

Worth Your Time 3/6/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

Battling Pornography… by Walt Mueller (CPYU)
“Over the course of the last couple of weeks I’ve had several people ask me this question: ‘What do think is the biggest challenge facing children and teens today?’ That’s a tough question to answer. Without a doubt, today’s ‘biggest challenge’ is nothing new. It’s a challenge shared by every human being who has drawn breath in our post-Genesis 3:6 world. It’s our brokenness and sin. Still, the question asks about how our sin is nuanced in our culture, our times, and our lives. My answer, with little hesitation, has to be ‘pornography.'”

Abusing Grace: Finding the Line Between “Guilt Trip” and “It’s All Good” by Tim Downey (Leadertreks)
“Those who abuse grace respond quickly: ‘I don’t have to live under a legalistic set of rules any longer. I’m free in Christ.’ But are they living in true freedom? Christians do not earn grace through actions, but Christ purchased for us freedomfrom sin, not freedom to sin. We must ask ourselves one simple question: Has the ‘freedom’ we have embraced brought us liberty or bondage (Gal. 5:13)?”

Francis Chan: Church Wastes Too Much Time Waiting on God’s Voice, Christians Getting Too Fat on the Word by Stephanie Samuel (Christian Post)
“Chan explained that continually listening to the Word without applying it has made Christians’ ears dull to God’s call. “That’s the first thing I was taught in seminary before we even started classes: the president of the seminary said, ‘look be careful because once you can hear the word of God and do nothing in response then the next time you hear it, it’ll get easier, and the next time and pretty soon it becomes a habit and a pattern of you’re able to hear the Word of God without a practical response,’ said Chan.”

Why an Actual Infinity Cannot Exist and Therefore We Know That The Universe Had a Beginning by Justin Taylor (Gospel Coalition)
“Philosopher William Lane Craig has done more than any other contemporary to popularize and develop the Kalam Cosmological Argument, which is simple to formulate and difficult to refute. The premises of the argument are as follows:

  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe begins to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.”

Parenting Means Wrestling Demons by Jonathan Parnell (Desiring God)
“There is a war on children, and we are all, in one way or another, playing some role in it. Every time we move forward as faithful parents (or care for kids in any capacity, including advocating for the voiceless not yet born, and volunteering for nursery duty on Sundays), we are wrestling demons — because there is little the demons hate more than little children.”

Worth Your Time 2/27/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

Does Your Youth Ministry Mess With Christ’s Bride by Jon Nielson (The Gospel Coalition)
“Youth pastors, directors, and workers need to be constantly called back to a focus on substantive, biblical, and gospel-centered ministry to young people, so that they do not fall prey to the gleam of a thriving and fun youth ministry that does not contribute to lasting kingdom fruit.”

Your Children are Looking at Pornography. How are you Responding? by Nicholas Black (Harvest USA)
“Pornography is anything the heart uses to find sexual expression outside of God’s intended design for relational intimacy. It is anything that tempts and corrupts the human heart into desiring sensual pleasure in sinful ways. By this definition, we live in a pornographic culture.”

Dropouts and Disciples: How Many Students are Really Leaving the Church? by Ed Stetzer (Christianity Today)
“In most cases, our surveys show a lack of intentionality in dropping out. Eighty percent of young people who dropped out of church said they did not plan to do so during high school. It’s not that most rejected the church. Our teenagers aren’t primarily leaving because they have significant disagreements with their theological upbringing or out of some sense of rebellion. For the most part, they simply lose track of the church and stop seeing it as important to their life.”

Revealed: The Science Behind Teenage Laziness by Louise Carpenter (The Telegraph)
“She is passionate, for example, about the madness of an 8.30/9am school start time. ‘It’s the middle of the night for a teenager!’ she says. Teenagers release melatonin (the sleepy hormone) a couple of hours later in the day than adults and so are able to stay up later, but then they need more sleep in the morning. ‘It’s like getting us up at 5.30am,’ Blakemore elaborates. Teenagers experience ‘social jet-lag’ as a result, hence the long lie-ins at the weekends (this is absolutely not slothfulness, she says, but their bodies catching up after being forced to awaken so early).”

How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life by Jon Ronson (The New York Times Reporter)
“Eventually I started to wonder about the recipients of our shamings, the real humans who were the virtual targets of these campaigns. So for the past two years, I’ve been interviewing individuals like Justine Sacco: everyday people pilloried brutally, most often for posting some poorly considered joke on social media. Whenever possible, I have met them in person, to truly grasp the emotional toll at the other end of our screens. The people I met were mostly unemployed, fired for their transgressions, and they seemed broken somehow — deeply confused and traumatized.”

Dadvertising at the Super Bowl by Mike McGarry (Rooted Ministries… yes, this is a shameless plug)
“A father’s love is powerful because it reflects the love and acceptance we were created to enjoy in our Heavenly Father, and when the Church steps into a kid’s life to care for him or her, it is a tangible expression of the adoption which is ours through faith in Jesus Christ.”