1. Growth in Grace
How God Works in Pain
Justin Pillsbury | Assistant Pastor for Youth | Cahaba Park Presbyterian Church | Birmingham, AL
The sovereignty of God - is it possible that this doctrine could lead to a greater, deeper and more abiding joy? It may seem a little more natural to say God reigns in the sweet moments of life, but what happens when we don’t get into the school that all our friends do, or when our parents get divorced, or when our best friend is a superior athlete, or when we struggle with body image issues, or when we get a cancer diagnosis or we move to a new town? Is it possible for us to praise God in the sweet moments of life as well as the moments it feels like He is slaying us? This beautiful doctrine teaches us our sovereign God is in love with us, is for us and is calling us to trust Him. God is using every moment in our lives to bring us near to Him. God’s sovereignty enables us to not lose heart as we trust in His guiding, sustaining, loving and all-sufficient hand. We are in the grip of the loving Father and He will never let us go!
Justin is entering his fifth year as the Assistant Pastor to Youth at Cahaba Park Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, AL. He is a native Texan who split his college years between TCU and Texas Tech. After college he spent eight years as the Director of Student Ministry at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS. He got his Masters of Divinity degree from RTS Jackson. This will be his 12th year coming to RYM. He has been married to Caroline for almost 15 years and has two boys, Jay and Mac.
2. Girl-Power & the Gospel
Julia Friedman | Chattanooga, TN
Beyoncé says girls run the world, and I’ve also heard that girls just want to have fun. I wonder what God thinks about women? Does He value us? Does He want us to be strong? Would Wonder Woman and Jesus have gotten along? In a time of marches and movements, let’s discover what Scripture says about God’s view of women.
Julia Friedman is originally from South Florida where she learned that warm ocean water is about the best thing on earth. Coming to a full understanding of Christianity after college, she decided to go to Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS where she received a Master's Degree in Biblical Studies. She worked in youth ministry for ten years before getting a doctorate in pharmacy. Currently she is bi-vocational, working on pharmacy staff at a university hospital and teaching at women's events as she attempts to make Christ known in all corners of her life. She and her husband, Kevin, have a son and live in Chattanooga, TN.
3. Reliability of Scripture
Ryan Hughs | RUF Campus Minister | Colorado State University | Fort Collins, CO
The Bible is so old and we don't have the original copy so how can I trust the Bible in my hands? That's a good question and one that needs some answers. Another good question is: "There are so many different religions in the world and they say their sacred texts are true, too... what does this mean about the Bible?" And what if science seems to tell us that the Bible isn't accurate? What if science seems to tell us that the Bible was written only by humans and therefore outdated and full of errors? It is these questions that we will engage with this seminar.
I have spent many hours on my own and in my ministry engaging and researching these questions and others. Not because I love the library, but because these are the questions I am asking and these are the questions the college students in my ministry are asking. Join us in this seminar as we look at how and why the Bible is trustworthy. We'll engage how we can know historical events really happened, how your Bible came to be, and talk about the most common objections to the Bible as a trustworthy, accurate, faith-forming document. Bring your own questions, too!
Ryan and Amy are from New Mexico, went to New Mexico State and attended RUF at NMSU. During our time in that ministry our lives were changed forever by the Gospel of the Grace of Jesus Christ. That good news freed us from guilt and fear and continues to deliver us into the throne room of Grace every day. Ryan attended Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis Missouri in order to pursue a call with RUF. And we have been doing campus ministry full-time since 2005 and are excited be at CSU! We also have three little girls, Ava, Jane and Lilly that light up our life.
4. Life After Life After Death
Joe Deegan | Music Resources Coordinator | RYM | Houston, TX
No, that’s not a typo; it’s the actual title of the class. For years human beings have pondered the question, “Is there life after death?” Christians have said yes but have sometimes oversimplified it by saying, “Believers go to heaven; non-believers go to hell. End of story.” Is that really the end of the story? Could it be that the Bible teaches us there’s more? Could it be that there is a life after life after death? The answer is yes! The resurrection wasn’t just a really cool miracle that Jesus performed on himself. It was actually the beginning of a revolution. It was the deep magic, as C.S. Lewis said, that would cause death itself to start working in reverse. It is the promise of a hope that we hold fast to—a hope that one day Jesus will come back and bring heaven with him, down to earth, where we will live in the light of his glory and in the wake of his resurrection forever and ever. If this is true, then oh man, do we have a lot to look forward to! And I’m sure you have a lot of questions. I do too…so let’s talk about it.
Joe grew up in the small town of Tuscumbia, AL near the banks of the Tennessee River. He started playing guitar when he was 15 on a cheap, old fender he borrowed from a friend. A year later, he started banging around the old piano that sat in his living room. He fell in love with both and quickly discovered he had more of an interest in music than he realized. Joe found ways to play for churches and gatherings and friends throughout high school and college until he moved to Houston, TX to work as a youth pastor at Christ the King Presbyterian Church. He has since found a home in Houston with his wife Leah and his three kids Ellie, Sam, and Will and joins the RYM staff as the Music Resources Coordinator. Joe wrote and recorded his debut album in March of 2015 called "The Risen King," an eleven song project that tells the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Joe's second album "Cover and Title Page" is now available too.
5. Who Is This Guy?
Ryan Dougan | Student Ministry Coordinator | Christ the King | Houston, TX
What was Jesus really like? How did he interact and talk with people? Do you think he was a fun guy to be around? We’ll look at some stories that can give us insight for these questions.
Ryan Dougan currently resides in the 3rd largest but number 1 greatest city in the United States, Houston, TX. He, his wife Micaela and his new baby girl Everett love spending their time trying out all of the delicious food that Houston has to offer. Ryan's been a part of the youth staff at Christ the King Presbyterian Church for over 4 years. During that time he has solidified himself as the (self-proclaimed) spike ball/board game champion of the Houston Metro area!
6. The BODY of Believers
A Theology of the Body & Exercise
John Perritt | Director of Resources | RYM | Ridgeland, MS
We live in a world that is focused on the human body. In fact, it’s impossible to make it through one day without seeing some image of a human body. Whether it’s on Instagram, the magazines we see in the checkout line, or the body we see in the mirror – we are flooded with varying images of body types. But it doesn’t stop there. We are also being taught by these images. The world is often telling us our bodies should look a certain way. Christians need to know that the Bible is not silent on this issue. We also need to know that there may be some ways we agree with the world. That said, there are ways we need to challenge the world’s view of the body. What is the body? How are Christians supposed to view their bodies? How do believers take care of their bodies? Should we be concerned with our physical appearance? This is a class that will assist students in a theology of the body and how we should care for the body God has given to us.
John Perritt (MDiv RTS ’09 & DMin SBTS ’16) served in youth ministry at Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church for over 12 years. Prior to that, he served in youth ministry at First Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, MS. He published Your Days Are Numbered (2016) & What Would Judas Do? (2017). He has also published articles with The Gospel Coalition and Desiring God. He and his wife, Ashleigh, have five children and live in Ridgeland, MS.
7. Why Can't We Be Friends?
Joel May | Youth Conference Coordinator | RYM | Charlotte, NC
Everyone knows what it’s like to walk into a room and think, “Will these people accept me?” What we really want to know is that we have a FRIEND in the room who knows us and accepts us, no matter what the circumstances are. That’s because we were made for true friendship - with God, and with each other. Sin has made this hard at times, but through Jesus we can again be restored to the friendships we were made for.
Joel is the youngest of six children born to a pastor and elementary school teacher. During his childhood and teenage years, Joel quickly discovered that he was passionate about a few things - the gospel and people. Throughout his adolescence he participated in and led music in his youth group, FCA, and "Big Church." While attending the University of Georgia, Joel was involved in RUF during the school-year, and during the summers worked as an RYM Summer Intern.
After meeting and marrying Maddie (a real stroke of luck) he was placed as an RUF Intern at UGA while Maddie finished her undergraduate and Masters Degree in Speech-Language Pathology. After spending the last 3 years working full-time with RUF and leading music at a local PCA church, Joel plans to earn his M-Div at RTS in Charlotte, NC. He is very excited to further learn and grow during the next few years, both in the classroom and through his work with RYM as the Youth Conference Coordinator.
Joel loves the outdoors, the body of Christ, traveling, Georgia football and meeting new people. Joel does not particularly love baseball and writing personal bios.
8. The Mission of God
What is God Doing in the World & How Do You Fit In?
Matt Beham | Assistant Pastor of Youth Ministries | Redeemer Presbyterian Church | San Antonio, TX
We often say, “God has a plan,” meaning that God has a personal plan for my individual life. But when we only talk about God’s plan for my personal life, we are not saying enough. To be sure, God has a plan for your life, but His plan for your life should never be separate from His plan for the whole world. As a member of God’s church, we need to locate our stories in God’s big story. God has a mission in this world, and He has enlisted you to be part of that mission. In this class we will talk about the Mission of God, what He has done and is always doing to restore this broken world. It is our belief that once we get excited about the Mission of God, the plan for our lives will begin to fall into place.
Matt Beham is the husband of Haley, a small town Texas girl, and the father of Elliotte, three, and Graham, 4 months. He is the Assistant Pastor of Youth and Children at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, where he has been working for the last ten years. His favorite place to turn off his iPhone is on the Golf Course.
9. How to Study the Bible
A Practice Run Through Philippians
Bryan Villarreal | Youth Pastor | Lakemont Presbyterian Church | Augusta, GA
I can remember in high school sincerely wanting to read my Bible. I had decided it was time to start, no more excuses. I sat down to read and within five minutes was overwhelmed with all the words, words, words. If you can relate to this experience then this class is for you. I will give you a simple and enjoyable way to study the Bible. I will show you how you can study on your own or with some friends. I hope to see you and help you get started on a lifetime of enjoying the Word of God.
Bryan Villarreal is a youth pastor in Augusta, Ga. Bryan is a native Texan and has done ministry with youth or college students for 15 years. He is married to Erica and they have 3 children, Molly, Clare, and Cal.
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