Blog

Resource Recap: Linda Oliver

Linda Oliver

Posted by Chrishon Ducker at 10/19/18

Resource Recap: Russ Whitfield

At the end of each week, the list of books and websites referenced on The Local Youth Worker podcast can be found here. We will also be sure and add other helpful resources we come across.

 

Posted by John Perritt at 10/12/18

Resource Recap: Paul Brown

At the end of each week, the list of books and websites referenced on The Local Youth Worker podcast can be found here. We will also be sure and add other helpful resources we come across.

 

 

Posted by John Perritt at 10/5/18

Resource Recap: Walt Mueller

At the end of each week, the list of books and websites referenced on The Local Youth Worker podcast can be found here. We will also be sure and add other helpful resources we come across.

 

Posted by John Perritt at 9/28/18

Resource Recap: Kristen Hatton

At the end of each week, the list of books and websites referenced on The Local Youth Worker podcast can be found here. We will also be sure and add other helpful resources we come across.

Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students by: Kristen Hatton

Face Time: Your Identity in a Selfie World by: Kristen Hatton

Get Your Story Straight by: Kristen Hatton

Age of Opportunity by: Paul David Tripp

Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by: Paul David Tripp

The Prodigal God by: Tim Keller

Extravagent Grace by: Barbara Duguid

Seated with Christ by: Heather Holleman

Suffering and the Heart of God by: Diane Langberg 

Reclaiming Conversation by: Sherry Turkle

Alone Together by: Sherry Turkle

The Price of Privilege by: Madeline Levine 

iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy-and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood-and What That Means for the Rest of Us by: Jean Twenge

My Greatest Need as a College Student by: Bennett Hansen (The Gospel Coalition article)

Center fo Parent/Youth Understanding

Faith that Lasts: Raising Kids that Don't Leave the Church by: Jon Nielson

Posted by John Perritt at 5/25/18

Resource Recap: Kurt Cooper (pop culture episode)

At the end of each week, the list of books and websites referenced on The Local Youth Worker podcast can be found here. We will also be sure and add other helpful resources we come across.

Center for Parent/Youth Understanding

Seeing and Believing: Christ and Pop Culture Podcast

13 Reasons Why There's a Season 2 by: Molly Barnes

Internet Movie Database [IMDb]

Twitch

Rotten Tomatoes

S.L.A.P a Student Contemplating Suicide - A Method of Suicide Prevention 

Youth Culture Matters Podcast - Suicide Intervention with Dr. Marv Penner 

Posted by John Perritt at 5/18/18

13 Reasons Why There's a Season 2 (by: Molly Barnes)

13 Reasons Why There’s a Season 2

by Molly Barnes

I was merging onto the interstate on my way home from work when I saw red brake lights. I thought, “Aw, man, it’s going to take me at least an extra ten minutes to get home.” But as I continued driving, I saw that the wreck was actually on the other side of the interstate. Why did my side slow down? Because people wanted to see what happened, they were curious.

I think the same can be said for the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. In a conversation with one of my students about the series, I asked this thirteen-year-old girl if she had watched it. She said, “I hated it. Don’t watch it.” I then asked her, “Did you finish it?” And she replied, “Yes. I had to. I had to know what happened.”

I watched the first season when it came on Netflix. I couldn’t believe how dark it was and how people were able to stream it so easily and freely (after paying your monthly Netflix fee, of course). What’s more is that I couldn’t believe Netflix said they were coming out with a second season. Spoiler alert: Hannah does commit suicide at the end of season 1. What more can they say? But you see, there’s a wreck on the other side of the road, and we want to slow down and watch it unfold.

Here are thirteen reasons why I think the show is coming back for a second season.

1. Audience to character connection

I think teens are watching this series because they can identify with at least one of the characters. The show definitely doesn’t shy away from hard topics. It’s raw with an intense realness to their struggles that you can’t ignore.

2. Social media presence

This show does a good job of portraying what it’s like to be a teen in a social media world. Just like teens in real life, those in 13 Reasons Why can never escape the constant comparison games, cyberbullying, and pressures of social media. Hannah’s reputation totally changes after a picture circulates around the whole school.

3. Narcissism

Our society is becoming increasingly more self-focused. Hannah is a product of a narcissistic culture. Her trauma and pain are real. I don’t want to downplay that, but it’s her reaction to those things that turns to narcissism. She blames thirteen people for her suicide when only she is responsible in the end. There were people in her life who truly cared about her like her parents and Clay, but she wasn’t satisfied with that. She wanted people to pay for what they did or didn’t do.  As she leaves the counselor’s office in the last episode she says, “Some of you cared. None of you cared enough.”

4. It’s creative

The story is told in a very creative way. Honestly, that was a big pull for me to continue watching. There are thirteen episodes in the season, each one designating a person and a reason why Hannah Baker decides to commit suicide. It flips between flashbacks of Hannah to present day in the aftermath of her suicide. These continual switches force you to pay attention. You want to watch the next episode because you have to know the next piece of the puzzle. What happened that got Hannah to the end of herself?

5. Culturally relevant

You’ve got teens struggling with same sex attraction, anxiety, depression, suicide, rape, drug use, and sending sexually explicit text messages.

6. Controversial

After the series was released on Netflix, there were reports of copycat suicides. School counselors were on high alert with the increase of suicides. In the 30-minute documentary 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons (also on Netflix), the series’ executive producer Bryan Yorkey says (in reference to Hannah’s suicide), “We wanted to make it painful to watch. Because there is nothing worthwhile about suicide.”  While that may have been their intention, this show broke the rules on how the media displays suicide. They sensationalized it and graphically depicted it.

7. Story lines were left open

Will Alex survive? Will Bryce be brought to justice? What is Tyler going to do with those guns in his closet? We want to know more.

8. People are watching

That one sounds too obvious, but from a business standpoint, it makes sense. Netflix is making money when people watch their shows. If people are watching, they have more subscribers and more money coming in.

9. It makes us feel better about ourselves

I’ve talked to students who have watched the series and one said, “It’s so dramatic. I don’t know why they act like that.” My students might think the characters are dumb or made bad decisions…but they still watched the show. Another student said she enjoyed watching people live out things that she wants to do, but she gets to see the consequences of their actions without having to experience the consequences herself. We can convince ourselves that we’re not as bad as those people.

10. Conversation starter

Have you watched the TV show Lost? Or the movie Inception? If you have, you probably have an opinion about what happened after those credits started to roll. My students definitely have FOMO. Some of them watched just because they didn’t want to miss out on what everyone else was talking about.

11. Pressures

I think teens can identify with the pressures the characters face. In addition to academic pressures, the driving force in a lot of their actions and decisions is social pressure.

12. Clay is a real teenager

This is the first teen show that I’ve seen in a long time where the characters actually seem like real teenagers. One of my favorite teen shows is One Tree Hill, but those characters never felt like teenagers. They were always able to communicate what they were feeling in their perfectly scripted world. In 13 Reasons Why there’s a scene where Clay is crying in the shower. His parents have asked him what’s happening and have told him that he can talk to them, but he says he’s fine and remains silent. I don’t think he knows how to get the words out. I remember feeling like that when I was a teenager.

13. Change

We want redemption. It’s engrained in our DNA. We’re looking for hope. Even unbelievers are searching for a world with no more pain or tears. At the end of the final episode Clay says, “It has to get better. The way we treat each other. It has to get better somehow.”

 

What are the reasons why you want to watch season 2?

 

 

Posted by John Perritt at 5/17/18

Resource Recap: Katie Van Eperen

At the end of each week, the list of books and websites referenced on The Local Youth Worker podcast can be found here. We will also be sure and add other helpful resources we come across.

Giving Up Gimmicks: Reclaiming Youth Ministry from an Entertainment Culture by: Brian Cosby

Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will by: Kevin DeYoung

Doctrines of Grace by: James Montgomery Boice

What Ever Happened to the Gospel of Grace by: James Montgomery Boice

Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by: Gregory Koukl

Posted by John Perritt at 5/11/18

Resource Recap: Dr. Julie Lowe

At the end of each week, the list of books and websites referenced on The Local Youth Worker podcast can be found here. We will also be sure and add other helpful resources we come across.

The Tech-Wise Family: Everday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by: Andy Crouch

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by: Tony Reinke

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by: Sherry Turkle 

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by: Sherry Turkle

Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet by: Sherry Turkle

Posted by John Perritt at 4/20/18

Resource Recap: Dr. Edward T. Welch

Resource Recap: Dr. Edward T. Welch

At the end of each week, the list of books and websites referenced on The Local Youth Worker podcast can be found here. We will also be sure and add other helpful resources we come across.

Evidence that Demands a Verdict by: Josh McDowell

Biblical Theology by: Geerhardus Vos

Cruciformity by: Michael J. Goreman

Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord?: Commentary on Leviticus by: Michael Morales

Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness by: Edward T. Welch

Running Scared: Fear, Worry, & the God of Rest by: Edward T. Welch

When People Are Big and God is Small by: Edward T. Welch

A Small Book About a Big Problem by: Edward T. Welch

Shame Interrupted by: Edward T. Welch

Posted by John Perritt at 3/2/18

Resource Recap: Dr. Walt Mueller

Resource Recap: Dr. Walt Mueller

At the end of each week, the list of books and websites referenced on The Local Youth Worker podcast can be found here. We will also be sure and add other helpful resources we come across.

Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture by: Dr. Walt Mueller

The Space Between by: Dr. Walt Mueller

Youth Culture 101 by: Dr. Walt Mueller

CPYU.org

Creation Regained by: Al Wolters

The Contemporary Christian by: John Stott

The Courage to be Protestant by: David Wells

God in the Whirlwind by: David Wells

The Complete Works of Francis A. Shaffer

A Reporter's Life by: Walter Cronkite

Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson by: Jeff Guinn

Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stones Magazine by: Joe Hagan

iGen by: Jean Twenge

Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life by: Donald Whitney

Posted by John Perritt at 2/23/18

Thursday's Thoughts: True Vulnerability

Series Introduction: This weekly series is designed to accomplish a few things. First, we hope it encourages you to pause and reflect – even if it’s only for a few minutes. Reflection is a needed practice for developing discernment, so we hope these posts assist with that. Second, we hope youth workers and parents use these posts to foster discussion. Whether it’s at the dinner table or talking at a coffee shop, read these short quotes alongside your child or student to encourage discussion on a deeper level.

Defining Vulnerability…

We live in an age of oversharing. Ordinary people and celebrities disclose all kinds of seemingly shameful or incriminating details of their lives. Indeed, some people who have become celebrities simply through the sheer volume and extravagance of their self-disclosure are praised for their “vulnerability.” …[W]hat I mean by vulnerability [is] exposure to meaningful risk. Sometimes emotional transparency is indeed a meaningful risk – but not always. For one thing, what was truly vulnerable and brave in one generation can become a key to success in another. When you can acquire fame, wealth and significant cultural power by frequently appearing on screen physically naked, nakedness can become less about the exposure that human beings fear and more about the “exposure” that every would-be celebrity needs – a currency of power, not loss.

The vulnerability that leads to flourishing requires risk, which is the possibility of loss – the chance that when we act, we will lose something we value…To risk is to open ourselves up to the chance that something will go wrong, that something will be taken from us – without knowing for sure whether that loss will come to pass or not.

-Andy Crouch, Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk &
True Vulnerability;
pg. 40-41

_____________________________________

  1. Do you think we live in a culture of oversharing? If so, what do your friends often overshare on social media?
  2. What do you like about the definition of vulnerability?
  3. What do you dislike about the definition?
  4. What makes you afraid to open up to people? What do you fear losing if you are truly vulnerable?
  5. Who are you most vulnerable with? Parents? Youth workers? Friends?

 

Posted by John Perritt at 2/15/18

S.L.A.P. a Student Contemplating Suicide - A Method of Suicide Prevention

S.L.A.P. a Student Contemplating Suicide – A Method of Suicide Prevention

On episode #53 of Center for Parent/Youth Understanding’s podcast, Youth Culture Matters, Dr. Marv Penner shared some diagnostic questions to prevent a possible suicide. If you’re ever in a scenario when a student contacts you about suicide, these are some helpful questions to recall:

S – Specific: How specific is your plan? The more specific a student is about their plan of suicide, the more concerned you should be. While any discussion about ending life should always be taken with seriousness, if a student states a specific plan and talks about a specific day, this is cause for immediate action.

L – Lethality: How lethal is the method considered? What you’re trying to discern here is if there’s any window to step in for intervention. For example, a gunshot is more lethal than a bottle of pills. Without a doubt, both are lethal but a gunshot is almost immediate, while pills allow time to possibly intervene and save their life. Minutes matter greatly when you’re dealing with a student contemplating suicide.

A – Available: How available is the method? If a student actually has access to the method they are considering, this is cause for great alarm. If a student says ‘The rope is tied around the rafter’ or ‘The gun is in my hand.’ That availability immediately raises the urgency.

P – People/Proximity: How close would some sort of help be? Are there any people around to prevent this? Is anyone in proximity to stop this? Is this student up in their bedroom and the parents are downstairs watching television or is this student secluded in the woods? Again, in this scenario, you are trying to discern if there’s any way to stop what is about to take place or if anyone is nearby to act as soon as possible.

It isn’t easy thinking about, talking about, or writing about suicide. Sadly, it is something we all must consider and be equipped to deal with if we’re ever in the above scenario. For more specifics about suicide and deeper context on the above acrostic, please check out the full episode by clicking here.

Posted by John Perritt at 2/13/18

Resource Recap: Dan Dumas

Resource Recap: Dan Dumas

At the end of each week, the list of books and websites referenced on The Local Youth Worker podcast can be found here. We will also be sure and add other helpful resources we come across.

The Gospel According to Jesus by: John MacArthur

The Attributes of God by: A.W. Pink

The Legacy of Sovereign Joy (Swan Series) by: John Piper

Daws: A Man Who Trusted God by: Betty Skinner

Live Smart: Preparing for the Future God Wants for You by: Dan Dumas

Beyond the Beautiful Forevers by: Katherine Boo

D3 Conference

RYM Conferences

Necessary Endings by: Henry Cloud

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by: General Macrystal 

Elon Musk by: Ashlee Vance

Posted by John Perritt at 2/9/18

Thursday's Thoughts: Pop Culture & Christianity

Series Introduction: This weekly series is designed to accomplish a few things. First, we hope it encourages you to pause and reflect – even if it’s only for a few minutes. Reflection is a needed practice for developing discernment, so we hope these posts assist with that. Second, we hope youth workers and parents use these posts to foster discussion. Whether it’s at the dinner table or talking at a coffee shop, read these short quotes alongside your child or student to encourage discussion on a deeper level.

On popular culture & Christianity:

“Immersion in today’s highly influential, mindless, spiritually delusional popular culture has resulted in our high literacy in popular culture and low literacy in our faith.  Most of us cannot recognize the contrast between the ideas and values that dominate our culture and those consistent with our faith, because our primary education has been in the ideas and values of our age and we remain illiterate about Jesus’ expectations for our life.”

Dick Staub, The Culturally Savvy Christian, pg. 101

Do you think this is a fair assessment of popular culture? Why?

Do you think this statement accurately describes today’s youth? Why?

Have you bought into ideas perpetuated by this culture that are inconsistent with the Christian faith? Explain.

Is your primary education from pop culture or God’s Word?

Are you illiterate about Jesus’ expectations for your life? 

 

Posted by John Perritt at 2/8/18

Prayer 101: 12-Week Study

Introduction

“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1)

 

            In the first sentence of Tim Keller’s book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, he says the following: “In the second half of my adult life, I discovered prayer.”[1] This statement gave me great pause in my attempts to write a study on prayer. But Keller goes on, and this time quotes the great D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

Prayer is nonetheless an exceedingly difficult subject to write about. That is not primarily because it is so indefinable but because, before it, we feel so small and helpless. Lloyd-Jones once said that he has never written on prayer because of a sense of personal inadequacy in this area.[2]

            Let me just say that I already felt inadequate to write on prayer simply based on my own personal struggles – I’m inconsistent, I’m easily distracted, I’m undisciplined. Then I read of theological greats like Keller and Lloyd-Jones feeling ill-equipped and almost gave up.  I’m humbled and intimidated at the task ahead, but then it occurred to me – isn’t that a good place to be when thinking or writing about prayer?

            I say all of that – not simply because it’s true – but because I’m fairly certain most of you teaching this material feel intimidated by the subject. Maybe you share the inconsistencies and distracted mindset I so often have? And if you aren’t intimidated by teaching on prayer…you should be. But remember, that’s a good place to be.

            In many ways, prayer is a difficult thing to define. If we’ve grown up in the church, we’ve heard people pray, we’ve prayed, and many of us have been taught about prayer, but it’s a mysterious thing. In one sense, we don’t know what’s going on. That is, we cannot fully grasp what it means for a wretched sinner to come into the presence of a holy and just God who spoke all things into being. Our finite minds simply cannot grasp that.

            In another sense, we do know what’s taking place. We know that a holy and just God welcomes sinners into his presence because he looks on us through the righteousness Christ accomplished and the Holy Spirit is interceding for us with “groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26b). However, even knowing this truth from Scripture, we are talking about something that’s beyond our finite capacity. We are talking about something that is too deep for words.

            Yet, the Scriptures are not silent on teaching us to pray, and God expects his children to pray; therefore, it is our job to teach it to the next generation. However inadequate you feel in your own life, remember that teaching from a point of weakness and humility is a great starting point.

            Like our other study, Bible 101, this study is aimed at middle schoolers but could be easily adjusted for high schoolers. The lessons are designed to be taught in a thirty to forty-five-minute time slot, but they also could be modified to fit into your schedule.

            As is the case with our other studies, this is available for free. RYM seeks to serve the local church, and offering resources for free is one way we do that. We also hope to periodically revise our resources in order to improve upon them, and offering them for free guards you from a need to continually make additional purchases.

            With that said, RYM is a certified 501c3 organization. We are sustained by God’s grace alone, and his grace is made manifest in various ways. One of those ways is financial support from churches and individuals donating to this ministry. If you feel led, please give financially to support this work and others we are involved in.

            One last word about the study. Be encouraged by the great privilege it is to teach students truths from God’s Word. Prayer and Scripture reading are a Christian’s daily sustenance – we simply cannot live without them. God has chosen you to teach on prayer to these students. By his grace, you can be passing on biblical truths about this great gift that can impact students, families, and churches in years to come. Pray that this would indeed be the case. Remember, you are praying to a God who does more than we can ask or imagine.

[CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD 12-WEEK STUDY]

[1]Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (Dutton, 2014), 9.

[2]Ibid., 18.

Posted by John Perritt at 2/6/18

Father-Daughter Relationships by: Emily Katherine Dalton

It was a few days before Father’s Day as a student and I anticipated its difficulty together.  I lost my father a year ago to a heart attack.  She lost her Dad about fifteen years ago to another family and another life he chose.

Loss is loss.  And the loss of a father runs deep, touching countless facets of a child’s life, especially the life of a daughter.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in three children lives without their biological father in the home.  One in three face the daily loss and disappointment of an absent father.  Unfortunately, this statistic is unchanged by church involvement.  Absence can be caused by death, divorce, addiction to alcohol, drugs, pornography, work, or, dare we say it . . . ministry.

As this student and I talked, she shared about the parts of senior year she was looking forward to, while also anticipating the events her Dad would miss.  She looked forward to going to college and the adventures of a new season, but she feared leaving her mom completely alone.

Fathers play a crucial role in a girl’s life.  Fathers teach their daughters what a father should look like, often laying the groundwork for how they will come to understand their Heavenly Father.  Fathers teach daughters how a man of God carries himself, subconsciously teaching them what to look for in a man.  Fathers teach daughters what a healthy relationship of love and respect with the opposite sex looks like.  Through this, fathers demonstrate the immense worth of their daughters. 

To imagine what a girl’s life without these lessons would look like is to foresee many of the issues faced by girls in our world today.   Issues such as unhealthy relationships with the opposite sex leading to abuse, rape, teen pregnancy, divorce, etc. are not solely caused by absent fathers, yet it is interesting to note the increase in such issues as more and more fathers abandon the responsibility of raising their families.

So why does a daughter need a father?

  1. To lay the foundation of understanding God. 
    Youth workers, a girl may be really afraid of a God who claims to be a Father.  Her trust may have been betrayed by a father due to absence, sexual abuse, or other issues. 
    Fathers, don’t take this lightly, but also don’t remove yourself from the equation because you know you can’t complete it perfectly.  Love your daughters with the love of their Heavenly Father, and when you don’t have the strength or wisdom you need, press into His.
  2. To teach them about boys.
    Youth workers, you know that girl you are always worried about finding herself alone with a boy?  Or the girl whose Instagram posts have far too many comments from boys? Get to know what her home life is like.  Often, this girl is meeting a need for male attention with boys that is not met by her dad.  Don’t shame her, focusing only on her behavior.  Be with her in the pain of the loss of a father.  Show her how worthy she is of love and attention.  Lay a groundwork for God that will first take some tearing down.
    Fathers, don’t just make jokes about defending or protecting her from boys.  Have real and honest conversations with your daughter about what you are praying for in her husband, how easy it will be to settle, and how much you are willing to listen and be there for her. 
  3. To demonstrate their worth.
    Youth workers, you can teach lessons on self-worth all day long, but unless a girl’s worth is demonstrated to her, deep down she will never believe it.  Male youth workers, demonstrate girls’ worth by respecting them.  Make every effort to protect them, never be alone with them, sacrifice for them, and take genuine interest in their lives.
    Fathers, spend time with your daughter.  Get off your e-mail and get to know your daughter’s friends.  Find things to do together that you both enjoy.  Prove to her she is a priority by choosing her over work, errands, and, dare I say it, football.  The bar you set for love and respect is the bar she will set for men in her life.

Since losing my dad suddenly when I was twenty-two years old, one of the greatest needs I have faced is figuring out how to carry the heavy stuff.  Moving furniture, boxes of books, and all my clothes just a few weeks after he passed highlighted his absence.  I was not used to carrying the heavy stuff on my own, and when I could not, I had to find help.  Then there were more heavy things.  Things not as practical, like setting up gas and power in my first home and figuring out where to go with a broken heart when the guy that was supposed to always be steady was gone.  What I’ve learned is that life doesn’t deal you any fewer heavy things despite not having the resources to carry them.  And watching everyone else’s dad carry their heavy things still causes a burning pain in my chest.

Dads, with all that, you can enter into the heavy things with your daughters.  Just the physical presence of a biological father in a girls’ life is proven to delay the onset of her first period.  Show up.  Show up and show her who God is.  Show her how boys should value her.  Show her just how valuable she is.

Youth workers, don’t overlook the deep wounds behind many of the coping mechanisms girls employ when carrying these heavy things alone.  It’s easy to address behavior.  It’s time consuming to enter into wounds.  With others in those heavy things with them, girls can find healing, worth, and eventually, their Heavenly Father.   

Posted by John Perritt at 2/5/18

Resource Recap: Jonathan McGuire

Resource Recap: Jonathan McGuire

At the end of each week, the list of books and websites referenced on The Local Youth Worker podcast can be found here. We will also be sure and add other helpful resources we come across.

Life Under Compulsion – Anthony Esolen

10 Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child - Anthony Esolen

G.K. Chesterton Collected Works

Knowing Christ – Mark Jones

The Tech-Wise Family – Andy Crouch

Posted by John Perritt at 2/2/18

Thursday's Thoughts: Silence & Solitude

Series Introduction: This weekly series is designed to accomplish a few things. First, we hope it encourages you to pause and reflect – even if it’s only for a few minutes. Reflection is a needed practice for developing discernment, so we hope these posts assist with that. Second, we hope youth workers and parents use these posts to foster discussion. Whether it’s at the dinner table or talking at a coffee shop, read these short quotes alongside your child or student to encourage discussion on a deeper level.

__________________________

On the importance of silence and solitude…

Recognize that our culture conditions us to be comfortable with noise and crowds, not with silence and solitude…This is confirmed by the inability of many to ever be at home or in the car by themselves without turning on some “background noise.” Unlike previous generations, technology now makes it possible for us to enjoy the benefits of the news, music, educational content, and more whenever we want and wherever we are. But the downside is that the appeal and accessibility of these things means the elimination of almost all quiet spaces in our lives. More than any generation in history we must discipline ourselves to enjoy the blessings of silence and solitude. Therefore, be careful not to let the world prejudice you against the biblical witness on the importance of these matters.

-Donald Whitney

Questions for reflection:

  1. What do you think about the above quote?
  2. Do you agree that this “culture conditions us to be comfortable with noise and crowds?” Why?
  3. Do you think silence and solitude are important? Why?
  4. When was the last time you sat in silence and solitude?
  5. Do you think silence and solitude would be something you’d enjoy?
Posted by John Perritt at 2/1/18

Bullet-Point Book Review: Face Time

Face Time Your Identity in a Selfie World by Kristen Hatton

[Review by: Molly Dawkins Barnes]

Series Note:  We know you’re busy.  We know there are a lot of books to read.  We also know there are some books that are worth your time and some that aren’t.  Bullet-Point Book Reviews cut to the chase, hit the high points, and recommend books that will be helpful resources for teens, parents, and youth workers.

_______________________

Book Synopsis: In the first half of Face Time Your Identity in a Selfie World, Kristen Hatton goes through the story of creation, Fall, and redemption through the lens of a teenage girl living in a social-media-driven world. The second half focuses on case studies of real teenage girls struggling with things like comparison, body image, peer pressure, and self-harm. After each case study, she provides questions for the reader to examine what is at the core of each girl’s struggle.

Quotes:

  • The majority of those surveyed say they feel alone and cannot talk to their parents about what they are experiencing. Nearly 50 percent say they cannot share openly with their friends.
  • Instead of being secure and content in who God had made them (Adam and Eve) to be, they saw their sin and were ashamed, in the presence of God and each other.
  • God came down to enter your world. Not to judge you, but to be judged for you!
  • Over and over again, Satan lures your heart to believe idolatrous lies that promise that life can be found in external beauty, sex appeal, money, popularity, talents, accomplishments, fame, perfection or anything else. Each of these pulls you into a downward spiral of self-absorption with whatever controlling desire (idol) you are chasing—after knocking you away from your secure and true identity in Christ.

Pros/Cons:

  • Hatton begins every chapter with a small story of a teenage girl to illustrate her point. Every teen girl can relate to those feelings about social media, and the book does a great job of pulling you in those ways. Most teen girls will see themselves in the girls in the book.
  • Hatton provides Scripture references and questions at the end of each chapter.
  • The case studies are awesome. This would be a great book to use in a small group, and it would open a lot of discussion among your girls!

Conclusion: If you have a teenage daughter or you work with teen girls, I would highly recommend that you read this book. It helps you get a better sense of the world they’re living in, while also helping equip you to teach them to fight against the lies they believe. The case studies were my favorite part, and Hatton does a great job of setting that up in the first half of the book. 

Posted by John Perritt at 1/31/18

Why I HATE Youth Leader Training

As I sat around the dinner table with my family, I explained to my children that I would be leaving them for RYM’s annual Youth Leader Training. Sure enough, my statement prompted groans and despair from each one of them. “NO! Daddy, please don’t leave.” This is a familiar scene in the Perritt household.

One thing I’ve learned about this process is that I need to give my children fair warning prior to my departure. Usually about a week or so before I leave, I go ahead and tell them. When they give their sad response, I’m able to reply, “But kids, I won’t be leaving for another week. We still have plenty of time together.”

Time Away

Prior to coming on staff with RYM, I would attend YLT, and it truly was one of the highlights of the year. I loved the preaching and teaching we received. My ministry benefited greatly from the gifted teachers. It did my soul good to get away from the ministry of the local church and spend time reflecting and feeding upon God’s Word with others in the same area of ministry. Which brings me to my favorite part of YLT: the other youth workers.

If someone forced me to pick only one aspect of the conference, it would be the time I get with other youth workers. Times spent around a meal together. Times when I get a quick five-minute conversation at the coffee table. Times when a youth worker pulls me aside and asks for prayer. Times spent in the cabin playing a board game. The fellowship is an exceedingly deep blessing which the Lord uses each year at YLT.

In spite of those benefits, this also leads me to something I hate about YLT.

One thing YLT reminds me of each year is that I’m separated from all these fellow youth workers for the majority of the year. To be sure, that separation makes the reunion at YLT all the sweeter. The old adage – absence makes the heart grow fonder – is proved at YLT, but that doesn’t mean I don’t hate that absence.

Separation

Getting back to my children for a minute. One truth the Lord has revealed to me has to do with separation. Whenever I say goodbye to my children for an extended period of time, I remind them that separation is unnatural. I explain to them that humanity wasn’t created to be separated.

In the Garden, God created a perfect existence filled with peace, harmony, joy, and unbroken fellowship. To say it another way, the word “goodbye” was foreign to Adam and Eve. Therefore, when I hug and kiss my wife and children at the airport and get that wretched feeling of sorrow knowing that separation is about to come between us, I’m reminded of my first parents’ rebellion that brought about separation. So, it’s been a good lesson to teach my children, and it’s a helpful lesson for me to remember. But it still hurts. I hate it.

And this is why I hate YLT. Each year it reminds me that my fellowship has been broken with my brothers and sisters. Yes, YLT gives me a taste of that reunion we will one day enjoy, but it’s only a glimpse.

However, in the midst of my sorrow and frustration over this separation, I’m also reminded of a greater truth – a stronger truth. You see, sin has brought tremendous frustration and pain, but Christ defeated sin.

Jesus loved us so much that he chose to be separated from the Father on our behalf. He left perfect communion and unbroken fellowship with the Father and Spirit to dwell with a people that broke fellowship with him. A people who denied him and chose fellowship with this world over him. Out of love, he took the experience of separation on himself…for us. But Jesus took separation on himself so we would be separated from those feelings of separation for all eternity.

Therefore, I long for the day that I never have to say “goodbye” again. I long for that eternity where I dwell with my brothers and sisters in unbroken fellowship forever. My finite mind shudders to think that I can embrace the One who purchased that eternity for me. That day is the epitome of peace and harmony, and I simply cannot wait to get there.

In light of that, I guess I don’t hate YLT that much after all.

 
Posted by John Perritt at 1/29/18

Resource Recap: Ryan Hughs

At the end of each week, the list of books and websites referenced on The Local Youth Worker podcast can be found here. We will also be sure and add other helpful resources we come across.

Zeal Without Burnout - Christopher Ash

Jesus Outside the Lines - Scott Sauls

Befriend - Scott Sauls

Resilient Ministry - Bob Burns & Tasha Chapman

The Imperfect Pastor - Zack Eswine

The Contemplative Pastor - Eugene Peterson

Under the Unpredictable Plant - Eugene Peterson

The Enemy Within - Kris Lundgaard

The Mortification of Sin - John Owen

The Reason for God - Tim Keller

The Prodigal God - Tim Keller

Counterfeit Gods - Tim Keller

Posted by John Perritt at 1/26/18

Resource Recap: Justin Pillsbury

At the end of each week, the list of books and websites referenced on The Local Youth Worker podcast can be found here. We will also be sure and add other helpful resources we come across.

Posted by John Perritt at 1/19/18

Bullet-Point Book Review: Transgender

Bullet-Point Book Review: Transgender

Series Note:  We know you’re busy.  We know there are a lot of books to read.  We also know there are some books that are worth your time and some that aren’t.  Bullet-Point Book Reviews cut to the chase, hit the high points, and recommend books that will be helpful resources for teens, parents, and youth workers.

__________________________________________

Book Synopsis: There's been huge cultural change in the last few decades. Same-sex marriage would have been unthinkable twenty or thirty years ago. Now it's almost universally accepted in the Western world. Suddenly, the issue of transgender is the next big social, cultural issue that is dominating the headlines.  In Transgender, Vaughan Roberts surveys the Christian worldview and seeks to apply these principles to the many complex questions surrounding gender identity. This short book gives an overview and a starting point for constructive discussion as we seek to live in a world with conflicting values, and to love, serve and relate to transgender people.


Note: This book is in a series from The Good Book Company entitled Talking Points.  These books are brief by design and serve as an introduction to various topics.  Transgender is the first in this series.

Quotes:

  • We need to begin by remembering that we are not simply talking about “issues” here, but people: precious individuals, each created and loved by God.
  • Over the last few decades the primacy of self-expression has become an unquestioned assumption of many.  No one has the right to question or challenge how each individual chooses to define themselves.
  • All of us experience some form of alienation.

Pros/Cons:

  • This is a brief book, which could be a pro and a con.  Its short length is helpful in that you could probably read it in an hour, but that also means that it doesn’t get too detailed.
  • The book gives an excellent biblical framework on the topic and roots the discussion in the gospel.
  • Roberts does an excellent job of standing firm on biblical truth while being gracious to someone who’s struggling with this issue. 
  • There’s a helpful glossary of terms on pages 21-24 with recommended resources at the conclusion.
  • Tim Keller endorsed it!

Conclusion: Given the cultural significance of this subject and the rate at which the culture is seeking to shape our teens’ thinking on this matter, Christian parents and youth workers cannot remain silent.  Although there are many complexities surrounding transgenderism, Vaughn Roberts’ Transgender serves as an excellent introduction.  Buy it and read it with your child or students. [Click here to view on Amazon]

 

Posted by John Perritt at 1/17/18

Resource Recap: Scott Lowe

At the end of each week, we will list all the books and websites referenced on The Local Youth Worker podcast. We will also include other helpful resources we come across.

Posted by John Perritt at 1/12/18

Money CAN Buy Happiness

Money CAN Buy Happiness

Contrary to popular opinion, fun has a price tag attached to it.  Sometimes it’s fun to go get a milkshake for under $5.  Maybe there’s a movie you’ve been wanting to watch; when it’s finally released, you get a group of friends to go watch it for just $10.  Money buys happiness in these scenarios, and it’s pretty cheap.

Perhaps you’ve saved up some money, and you take a road trip with some friends to go see an awesome concert.  It’s a memory that will last a lifetime and the tickets, gasoline, and hotel end up costing each individual just $500.  This fun is a little pricier, but you still purchased it with money.

For my tenth anniversary, my wife and I traveled Northern California.  We saved up for years, and we were able to get some airline miles and deals on hotels, but the price tag at the end of the trip didn’t matter.  To this day, it was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on.  It created countless memories that drew me closer to my wife.  It was an adventure, to say the least, and money made it a possibility.

Is travel your idea of fun?  Whether it’s Hawaii or Scotland, money will get you there.  Are you into entertainment? Whether it’s a movie night at home or traveling to a Hollywood premier, it’s going to take some cash.  Maybe you follow an NFL team and want to go cheer them on; you better have something in the bank account.

What’s the Deal?

Why have so many people perpetuated the saying, Money can’t buy happiness, when I have clearly demonstrated otherwise? Money can buy happiness…lots and lots of happiness.  Whether it’s an experience with friends and family or viewing beautiful sights around the world, money is the common denominator required.

It’s easy to see that ultimately other humans make these events what they are.  While it certainly would be unique to have a private concert in your living room, sharing a concert with others makes it beautiful (not to mention the fact that a private concert still includes members of the band so you’d be sharing it with them).  It would be amazing to travel the world, but I think it would be a little less amazing to do that alone.

As I said, I absolutely loved traveling Northern California, but it would have been a sad trip to be there without my wife.  In fact, having her there made the trip as special as it was.  Being moved to tears by a family of deer crossing in front of the backdrop of Yosemite was a taste of heaven.  But viewing all of that while holding my wife’s hand makes it a memory etched on my heart forever.

Money can buy happiness to an extent, but sharing it with others puts the exclamation points on those experiences.

God Has Expensive Taste

Here’s what Christians know to be true - God made all things.  And since God made all things, his fingerprints are on every square inch of creation.  Often theologians refer to this as common grace in creation.  That is, what is true, beautiful, and good can be enjoyed by the atheist and the Christian.  Believers are moved by breathtaking landscapes just as unbelievers are.

What’s interesting about price-tags is that humans determine those.  Delta Airlines sets the price of a ticket to Australia.  U2’s agent establishes a price for their concerts.  The NFL, NBA, & MLB set the price for fans to attend the games.

Buying a milkshake is definitely cheaper than flying across the globe, but they’re both fun.  The price we attach to each one is ultimately pointing to the Creator.  God has placed value upon creation with his fingerprints, and the monetary value we attach to it affirms that reality.

Maybe a different example will help.  Running a stop sign and murder are both illegal.  Murder, however, has a greater punishment attached to it.  The reason for this is because humans are created in the image of God.  Humanity realizes this truth, and the greater punishment affirms the value God places on humans as his image bearers.

Similarly, more expensive experiences typically affirm the greater beauty.  Regardless of the price-tag, attaching monetary value to anything is one way of affirming what is true, beautiful, and good.

Maybe we could say that money does indeed buy happiness, but God created all that exists, even the emotion of happiness.  Therefore, we shouldn’t worship money - just like we shouldn’t worship any of the created experiences we mentioned - we should worship the One who created all that has been, all that is, and all that will be.

Posted by John Perritt at 1/11/18

Texting and Driving: A Good Reminder for This School Year

Texting and Driving: A Good Reminder For This School Year

When I was in student ministry in a local church, I would try to have a regular public service announcement for our students. Typically, at the start of a new school year, I would get up and say something about the dangers of texting and driving. There was one year I even played the compelling AT&T commercial to convey the realities and potential dangers of this all-too-common practice.

Therefore, I thought it might be a good idea to pass this idea on to other youth workers. Maybe take a few minutes during announcements in a large group time, or simply pull a few students to the side and encourage them to abstain from this practice.

I know we’re all guilty of glancing at our phones and taking our eyes off the road. In fact, it seems that this practice has become so culturally acceptable that questioning it sounds strange.

Without a doubt, I’ve been guilty of replying to a text through an intersection, driving down the interstate, or in a neighborhood.  Any guilty conscience I feel, however, I often justify by my driving expertise, right?  I’ve been driving for years. Since I look back at the road repeatedly, this is very safe. Thoughts like these salve many notions of danger passing through my mind.

Driving Home the Truth

Many may say the inexperience of teenage drivers makes the practice of texting and driving so alarming. While that is definitely true and should be a point to address, it’s vital to communicate the dangers of texting while driving from a theological standpoint. That is, it is good and right to challenge our students from a common sense perspective, but rooting the issue in Scripture not only adds weight to the discussion, it also helps students connect the dots from theology to life.

Tony Reinke does a great job of this in his newest book, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. One of the ways our phone changes us, says Reinke, is that we “ignore flesh and blood.” Texting and driving is one implication. Consider some of the startling statistics and sobering truths he mentions:

“[T]exting while driving makes your chance of a crash twenty-three times more likely [than talking on the phone]. Assuming a driver never looks up in the average time it takes to send a text (4.6 seconds), at fifty-five miles per hour, he drives blindly the length of a football field. Texting and driving is so idiotic, forty-six of fifty states have banned it.”[i] (emphasis mine)

The discouraging truth, as Reinke points out, is the fact that many of these laws can actually increase the danger.  For drivers to conceal their texting habits, they lower their phones, which only takes their eyes further off the road.[ii] “As we drive, our phones ping, our brains get a shot of dopamine, and very often our decisions express our own neighbor negligence,” says, Reinke. “We assume we can ignore the people we see in order to care for the people we don’t see, but that idea is all twisted backward . . . . We sin with our phones when we ignore our street neighbors, the strangers who share with us the same track of pavement.”[iii]

Texting and driving, in Reinke’s words, is more than just dangerous (and illegal in some cases), it is sinful. Biblically speaking, texting and driving is not loving our neighbor as ourselves. It is not following the “golden rule.” (Matt. 7:12) It is breaking the second greatest commandment (Matt. 22:36-40). Following these lines of thinking, the conclusion is that texting and driving nailed Jesus to the cross.

The Reality of the Matter

I’m sure there are many reading this who would protest the severity of this conclusion about texting and driving. Labeling it as a sin Jesus died for may seem a little on the extreme side, to say the least. Therefore, if that’s a reality you aren’t totally convinced of, maybe this is one that will convince you and your students. What if you hit and killed someone while texting and driving? Many think this would never happen to them, but just consider if it did. 

Year after year after year, you would be asking “Why? Why did I think I could text and drive?  Why did I think responding to that text message (or email) was so important? Why did I knowingly put others’ lives in danger just to scroll through Instagram or Facebook?”

This is not a farfetched scenario.  At this moment, there is a family grieving the loss of their preschooler who was playing in the neighborhood and hit by a teenager.  There’s a widowed spouse struggling to put a meal on the table for their family.  There’s a father looking at an empty bed in his home because he glanced down for a few seconds to type a one-word response to an email.  When we weigh the costs, the absurdity of sending a text or an email while driving is incalculable. 

To push this thought further, Christians should be the examples to the watching world when it comes to texting and driving.  We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves, and texting and driving stands in complete contradiction to that.  To put it bluntly, we are often in sin when we participate in this practice because we are selfishly putting our felt needs ahead of our neighbor’s safety.

I shudder at the reality of being responsible for killing a husband, wife, mother, father, teenager . . . infant.  The guilt and shame that would accompany this tragedy is not beyond the grace and forgiveness offered through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord our guilt and shame was nailed to the cross! That said, why wouldn’t people – Christians or otherwise – make every effort to prevent this from becoming a reality?

To lead the charge in raising awareness and encouraging Christians to put their phones down while driving, maybe having a “PSA” at the beginning of this school year isn’t such a bad idea. Point them to the theological concerns behind the issue as well as the immense tragedies that could become reality. Who knows, the Lord may use your words to spare a family from tragedy. Even if you choose not to mention this to your students, at least there’s the chance that you’ll stop this practice.


[i]Tony Reinke, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You (Crossway, 2017), 55.

[ii]Ibid. 57

[iii]Ibid. 57

Posted by John Perritt at 1/11/18

Why is He Wearing Makeup?

Why Is He Wearing Makeup?

Have you ever thought about living on an island?  My rational side understands that as a foolish idea, but there are times when the fallenness of humanity makes me long for it.  Simply give me food, shelter, clothing, and solitude, and I’ll be just fine. 

Recently, I walked into a restaurant and was taken aback by an encounter with the server.  And while I did not literally think of fleeing to an island, I was a bit puzzled as to how a Christian should handle this situation.  As I walked into the restaurant, the man who took my order was wearing makeup . . . lots of it.  Eye shadow, lipstick, mascara, and base.  Keep in mind that I don’t live in San Francisco, but in Mississippi.

While I was internally shocked, I was kind and normal on the outside, at least I tried to be.  My immediate thought was, “As a Christian, I want to be as kind and friendly as I can.”  In that brief interchange, I smiled, was courteous, and thanked the server for my service.

As I sat down, I imagined a scenario - What if I walked in with my five-year-old daughter and she asked why that man was wearing makeup?  What would I say? How could I parent her in that situation? There are several possible answers I could give, but what is the most God-honoring?

One may say that God created mankind male and female; therefore, taking something typically associated with the female gender and merging it with the opposite gender is inappropriate and something Christians should speak out about.  Another may claim that Christians are to love their neighbor.  Loving our neighbor can be manifested in numerous ways, but maybe we should simply love the individual by accepting their choice to wear makeup.

This is something we must wrestle with as Christians.  It’s a scenario we will be forced to deal with in some way, shape, or form.  I don’t pretend to have this figured out.  I'm wrestling with thoughts, just like many of you.  Even so, here are some conclusions we can make:

You Must Deal with This

Thinking back to the island example I gave, God has called you to be in the world.  Yes, I understand islands are in the world, too, but God has called you to shine the light of his glory into dark places.  You cannot flee from these situations.

You Must Read

The transgender movement is very complex.  For Christians to be faithful to engage with those dealing with these issues, we must read to better understand.  For Christian parents, teachers, pastors, and youth workers to remain faithful in passing on the faith, we must be reading so we can instruct the next generation.  Read the Bible, and read literature on the subject.

You Must Pray

In light of the complexities of this matter, bow the knee and seek wisdom from the all-knowing God of the Old and New Testaments.  It is easy to fear the curveballs of our culture, but seek refuge in our loving Father who knows the beginning and end of all things.

You Must Die

I firmly believe the complexities of our culture are going to force Christians to die to their idol of comfort and ease.  God calls us to speak truth into difficult circumstances at times.  Dr. R. Albert Mohler wrote a book entitled We Cannot Be Silent, and I think issues like the transgender movement will force Christians to speak when they may want to remain silent.  Either way, I think issues like these are going to force us to die in various ways.

You Must Be Humble

Thinking back to the example of the restaurant employee, please don’t be too quick to judge them.  You must realize you are sexually broken, too.  Because of our sin, none of us is completely whole, perfectly living out our sexuality as we should.  We are born in sin, and the vilest corruptions are in your heart and mine (Mark 7:1-22).  Apart from God’s grace, we are no better than murderers and rapists.

You Must Speak

There are some parents who are afraid to speak on these matters to their children.  While I understand that parents may feel ill-equipped to teach on these topics in the home, they should not avoid having these conversations with their children.  If you happen upon a cross-dresser at the grocery store or restaurant with your children, God sovereignly ordained that scenario.  Maybe he orchestrated that to force discussion of the subject in your home.  Having these conversations - sooner rather than later - will foster trust in the home and a proper biblical worldview.

You Must Grieve

I think the knee-jerk response for many Christians borders on anger when these issues surface.  I think grief is more appropriate.  The devastating effects of sin knows no bounds.  Sin spreads to every nook and cranny of our culture as well as to the nooks and crannies of our hearts.  Sin blinds and confuses us.  It destroys a proper sexuality, among other things.  Mourn at the horrifically broad path it blazes in the hearts and minds of others.

You Must Have Hope

It is finished! Jesus accomplished his mission.  He who had infinite riches became poor so that we might share in his inheritance.  He endured unimaginable sorrow so that we may have infinite happiness.  There is much to mourn in this broken life, but there is also much to rejoice over.  While our joy is imperfect now, there is a day coming when it will be complete.  The hope we have is the promise of perfect peace and joy in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is our hope for today and for the rest of our days.

Posted by John Perritt at 1/11/18

Don't You Just Hate School!? - John Perritt

John Perritt - Youth Pastor
Pear Orchard Presbyterian (Ridgeland, MS)

I wasn’t a very good student. I hated to read. I hated to write (the irony!). I hated waking up early. One thing I worked really hard on, however, was how to get through school by doing the least amount of work. It’s crazy to think about how much effort I put in to being effortless in school. I was a slacker. I wanted to play sports and that was about it.
It wasn’t until later in college (when I met my future wife) that I got serious about my future. Once I met her, I had a goal to reach so I tried harder in school. I later went to seminary, and I’ve told people that I made up for all the reading I didn’t do by going through seminary – you have to read a lot!
Here’s the question for you, why do you go to school? Many of you would say that you ultimately go to school so you can get a job. Right now you might not be thinking about getting a good job, but you know you’ll eventually get there. Right now you might simply be going to school to get good grades. And you’re probably trying to get good grades so you can get a good scholarship. Or, maybe you’re just getting good grades because your parents will punish you if you don’t. Maybe your motivation for getting good grades is because your parents don’t want you to be lazy. They want you to try hard to instill a good work ethic.
All of these can be good reasons. Some of the above can also be bad reasons. For example, pursuing good grades so you don’t get punished isn’t the best motivation. I would assume that you probably hate school if you fall into this category. In order to not hate school, you need a better motivation. So, that brings me back to my question, why do you go to school?
Here’s the best answer: to glorify God. Now, I know many of you just rolled your eyes or you think that’s a vague theological answer at best, but let me get a bit more specific. Some of you think glorifying God is about trying really hard and getting good grades for his glory. But, let me be (maybe) the first to tell you that you can glorify God with a “B” in science…possibly even a “C”?!
What you need to realize, when in comes to school, is that your brain belongs to God. It is not your brain. God lovingly and graciously gave you a brain that allows you to do all kinds of things. Without it you would be dead. Therefore, out of love for what he’s given you, take care of it. Another word for this is stewardship. The Christian student’s reason to go to school is to steward the brain God has given them. It is not to get good grades, it is not to get a good scholarship, or to even get a good job. The reason you go to school is to care for what God has entrusted to you.
In reality, this is the gospel. God has already given to you, now live in light of that. So many students function with a legalistic mindset when it comes to school. I have to do this. I must do that in order to earn favor. But, God’s already given you the brain, now you must marvel at his grace and care for what he’s given you. 
Maybe that truth will even help you enjoy school.

Posted by RYM Conference Coord. at 10/2/15

Are You Lazy? - John Perritt

John Perritt - Youth Pastor
Pear Orchard Presbyterian (Ridgeland, MS)

Many of you may read the title and think, There’s NO way I’m lazy! I wake up at 6 a.m., grab a quick bite to eat, lift weights or exercise for the team, go to school, participate in an after-school activity, do my homework and then repeat the next day. There’s a good chance this schedule describes your daily activity. It is very likely that you are, indeed, busy. But, it is also very likely that you are lazy. Please don’t be offended by that. Every human – adults included – struggle with laziness. However, it is something to be aware of since Scripture doesn’t have a lot of positive things to say about laziness (Prov. 12:24, 27).

Do You Ever Complain?

You may have your schedules filled to the brim, and you may study hard to ace every test, but do you ever complain about it? Do you ever whine about never having enough time? Do you ever grumble about having to study when you’d rather be streaming Netflix? Believe it or not, this can be a sign of laziness. Even if you accomplish the task or do the activity, if you’re complaining while doing it: that’s typically a sign of laziness. Every human complains because every human is fallen. The temptation is so common, we have Scripture encouraging us to do all things without grumbling and complaining (Phil. 2:14).

Do You Ever Daydream?

I used to be the master of daydreaming. I still find myself doing it often. However, I don’t daydream as much because now I have a smartphone. Instead of allowing my mind to wonder off, I pick up my phone and scroll through tweets, posts, and pics. One sign of our laziness can be distraction. When we feel the pressure to work or perform, we want to escape from that so we escape into an online world. Your laziness can often be gauged by how often you’re taking out your phone and staring at the screen. I’m not saying that any time you pull your phone out you’re being a lazy bum; however, it can be an indicator of laziness so be cautious.
These are just a couple of examples of how laziness can manifest itself in your life. As I said, parents don’t have this thing figured out either. Parents struggle with laziness – all humans do. Why do you think that is? Let me answer that question by briefly looking at Genesis.
In the beginning God created man and put him in the Garden of Eden. One of man’s purposes was to “work” and “keep” the Garden of Eden (2:15). Keep in mind that sin had not yet entered the earth. Therefore, we can say that work was in existence before sin entered the earth. As much as we might like to think that work is a result of the Fall, it clearly wasn’t. Work was a good, God-ordained institution prior to the Fall.
In reference to laziness, we can clearly see that it goes against work. But, more importantly, we can see that laziness goes against the created order of things. We could say it this way: if God created work before the Fall and saw it as good, you better believe Satan is going to try and thwart our hard work. Satan is going to fan the flame of laziness. Your sinful nature is going to battle the desire to work that’s been hard-wired into your DNA. 
Part of your job as a Christian is figuring out how to work – striving not to be lazy. Listen, there are times when you need to be able to relax and watch TV, play on your smartphone, or text your friends. But, be cautious of feeding your laziness and know that it’s always going to be a temptation. 
Just remember, it’s not your life to waste, so get to work for the glory of God.

Posted by RYM Conference Coord. at 10/2/15

Are You Ready? - John Perritt

John Perritt - Youth Pastor
Pear Orchard Presbyterian (Ridgeland, MS)

Dear Student,
I know junior high and high school can be tough. I can still remember starting 7th grade. For me, I was moving from a small private school to a fairly large public school. I loved private school and public school, but I was super-nervous to go to school. In fact, I don’t know if the word “nervous” actually captures how I felt. Terrified might be a more accurate word. 
Not only was I going to a new school with hundreds of new people, I was also around people who didn’t share my worldview. I never said it out loud, but I knew there were unbelievers present at this school. This isn’t to say that everyone in my class at my previous school was a Christian, but this context was much different than my previous one. So, for the first month or two, I had serious anxiety about getting up and going to school.
As I began to awkwardly transition into this public school environment, I enrolled in the required “Health” class – if that class doesn’t make insecure junior highers even more insecure, nothing will. As the teacher began to discuss contraception with the class, she mentioned abortion as an alternative. Being an extremely naïve white kid from a private school, I spoke up and said, “But abortion is wrong. It’s murder.” More than half the class erupted in disapproval of that statement. That day I discovered, the hard way, that not everyone shared my Biblical worldview. In a sense, I was persecuted for standing up for righteousness without even knowing it.
Fast-forward to 2015 and persecution continues to be present for teenagers in various educational contexts. There are “buzz words” Christian teens will need to exercise caution over when speaking out in class. I was foolishly unaware that people have different worldviews than me when I spoke up in my Health class that day. I claimed something was wrong when others thought it was okay. You need to be aware of different worldviews in order to exercise caution in your conversations.
Probably the most offensive words you need to be aware of are “male” or “female.” The world will tell you that even using the pronouns “him” or “her” might confuse and offend other students so you shouldn’t use them. Since you’re probably not following too many current events, you’re probably not aware that some colleges are trying to ban this type of language from their classrooms. The culture is seeing a big shift. A truth that’s being communicated is the falsehood that gender is offensive. For example, there are those in the world who say it is offensive for you to tell someone they are male and female. The world says they need to be able to choose that.
Here’s my point: you are growing up in a world that’s becoming increasingly hostile toward Christianity. We are called numerous times in Scripture to be persecuted, but it looks like current teens growing up in the world may get a lot more opportunities to be hated than previous generations. For me, I could simply avoid the topic of abortion and side step a lot of arguments that way. When I was growing up, I could have my Christianity with a side of comfort. It doesn’t seem like that’s going to be the case for current 12-18 year-olds.
Are you going to be able to avoid speaking about someone’s gender? Will you call a boy a girl? Or a her a him? 
The Bible isn’t vague on this issue and you don’t really have to search the Scriptures too far to find an answer. Genesis 1 and 2 are pretty clear that God created humans male and female. God assigned gender at the beginning, and he assigns gender today. Yes, there can be complexities from time-to-time in this area, but this issue isn’t as complicated as it is often made.
Are you ready? Are you ready to be hated? Are you ready to be made fun of? Laughed at? Left out? I’m sorry for you, and I’ll pray for you. I’m sorry that the teenage years are already uncomfortable without this issue. I’m sorry that the discomfort is only going to be magnified by these current cultural trends that don’t mesh with your Christian faith. But take courage. You worship a Savior who knows exactly what you’re going through. He was mocked just like you will be. However, he was also mocked in your place so that you could spend eternity with him. And he comforts you by promising that if you’re mocked for the sake of righteousness, you will be blessed.
Sincerely,
Your Youth Worker

Posted by RYM Conference Coord. at 10/2/15

Five Truths to Teach Teens About Homosexuality - John Perritt

John Perritt - Youth Pastor
Pear Orchard Presbyterian (Ridgeland, MS)

The topic of homosexuality is a deeply controversial one.  It has many complexities and calls Christians to do a lot of reading, a lot of studying, and a lot of praying.  As youth workers, full-time or volunteer, we are called to disciple students, and a major part of this discipleship process will be dealing with this topic.  To say it another way, if you avoid the topic of homosexuality with your students, you are shirking your responsibility.  I myself am intimidated by this topic.  I realize I don’t have all the answers and I’m not the smartest person to be teaching on this topic, but I must.
That being said, here are five things to keep in mind:

The Bible Calls it Sin

This might be the most significant reason to me.  To call ourselves Christians and dismiss what the Bible says is a contradiction.  If we are truly followers of the Living Word, we must know his Word.  As Christians we must study the book that is all about Jesus.  It is the book we base our entire lives on and we believe it is without error.  Therefore, to compromise on this issue is to call into question the validity of Scripture.  While the Bible doesn’t talk about homosexuality from cover-to-cover, it does call it sin (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:18-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:8-11).  Therefore, the Bible is calling you to call it a sin.[i]

The Bible Calls You to Love Sinners

While the Bible calls homosexuality a sin, the Bible also calls a lot of things sin.  We do need to keep in mind that there are some sins that are more grievous to God than others, but every sin can send us to hell.  And while you may not struggle with the sin of homosexuality, you do struggle with sin.  You are a sinner deserving of God’s just wrath.  But, just as God graciously provided his Son to you and loved you while you were his enemy, he calls his followers to show love to all, even those struggling with same-sex attraction.  There are complexities on how this love is shown, but start off knowing you need to love those who are dealing with this issue.

The Bible Calls us to Be Hated

One way to love those struggling with this issue is to tell them what the Bible says about it.  However, this will almost surely get you into some sort of a confrontation.  Speaking from experience, I have spoken with those struggling with this sin, and it was uncomfortable.  There are plenty who will get angry with you for even calling this a sin.  Take heart, God said this would happen.  God’s Word promises that you will be persecuted for standing up for righteousness (Matt. 5:10). Be prepared to be hated over this topic.

The Bible Calls This Issue Important

In DeYoung’s book on homosexuality, he is clear that the Bible’s focus isn’t on homosexuality in one sense.[ii]  However, in essence he says that the major story of Scripture is God reconciling a people unto himself.  Along this line of thinking, Scripture also tells us that the sexually immoral will spend eternity in the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8).  Since this is true, it’s vitally important to define sexual immorality.  As we see in Scripture, homosexuality is an aspect of sexual immorality.  Therefore, this is a very important issue.  Christians believe that people will go to hell over this issue unless they share the gospel with them.  This tells us that the issue is not insignificant.

The Bible Calls Man & Woman Marriage

In our day, marriage is being redefined.  What your students need to know is that God defines marriage as one man and one woman.  The most significant evidence of this is found in the New Testament’s interpretation of the Old.  What I mean is this, whenever Jesus and Paul teach on marriage, they always point to Adam and Eve.  They never use any other OT figures as examples.  “[Paul] never appeals to polygamist kings such as David or Solomon or to polygamist patriarchs such as Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob…Jesus and Paul do not look to any of them as the paradigm for understanding marriage.”[iii] There is so much more that could be said and needs to be said on this subject, but this is a start.  Our students need to be confident on this subject and they need people they trust speaking to them on this topic.  Stand firm on the Word of the Lord and don’t shy away.                     

[i] Sam  Allberry’s Is God Anti-Gay and Kevin DeYoung’s What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? Are the two most helpful resources I’ve read on this. [ii] Kevin DeYoung, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? pg. 10 [iii] Denny Burk, What is the Meaning of Sex? Pg. 54.
Posted by RYM Conference Coord. at 10/2/15

How Far is Too Far? - John Perritt

John Perritt - Youth Pastor
Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church (Ridgeland, MS)


I’m sure you, or your “friend”, have asked this question of your youth worker. Maybe you haven’t asked it, but you’ve thought about asking it. Maybe you didn’t ask because you were intimidated. Or, maybe you didn’t ask because you didn’t want them to tell you that what you were doing with your boyfriend or girlfriend was sinful.
Whatever the case may be, here are some things to consider:

You Can Sin Sexually Without Having Sex

This culture has become increasingly accepting of sexual activity. Chances are, if you have been in a lengthy dating relationship, you have probably sinned sexually – without even having sex. Often times teenagers think they are okay if they haven’t actually committed the sex act, but they do everything else leading up to this. You may say, “But the Bible doesn’t say anything is wrong with ______________.” But just because the Bible doesn’t explicitly state something, doesn’t mean it is endorsing it.

Your Heart Wants to Rewrite the Bible

Whether intentional or not, your heart doesn’t like the Bible. By nature, your heart wants to do what Scripture forbids. Listen to Denny Burk, “The temptation is always there to suppress or revise biblical norms in order to accommodate the powerful twin influences of culture and fleshly desire.” Basically Burk is saying that the world and your flesh are getting you to hate what the Bible says. The world is telling you it’s okay to fool around with your girlfriend, and your flesh is saying it feels good to be with your boyfriend, so it must be okay. By implication, “The Bible must be wrong”, becomes our way of thinking.

You Think Marriage is For Old People

Listen to Burk again, “A sizable percentage of young people today are delaying adulthood. In particular, they are delaying marriage and childbearing, but they are not delaying sex.” In high school I thought marriage was a lifetime away, but it’s often closer than you think. The truth is, God created sex for marriage, and if you want sex so bad, maybe marriage is something you need to consider sooner rather than later. I know some of you may laugh at that statement, but remember that God doesn’t laugh at your sexual sin. God hates it. God will not honor it. And, God cannot be mocked [Gal. 6:7], so you will be found out.

Conclusion

You must remember that God is a holy God and he calls his followers to be holy. He does not want Christians to make peace with their sexual sin, because it cost him the life of his only Son. How far is too far?, is often a question that has sin lying at its root. With Scriptures like, “Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” [2 Tim. 2:22] and “sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you,” [Eph. 5:3], Burk rightly asserts, “The question should not be, “How far can we go?” The question should be, “How far can we stay away?” 

If you are reading this and you have been in sexual sin with your girlfriend or boyfriend, know that there is freedom in repenting of your sin and placing your faith in Christ. You are not too filthy for the blood of Jesus to cleanse you. If you are one who is justifying your sin and plans to remain sexually active, know that the Bible has strong warnings for you. I may not persuade you, but maybe God’s holy Word will, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters…will inherit the kingdom of God.” [1 Cor. 6:9-10]
[1] Denny Burk, What is the Meaning of Sex?, pg. 217 
[2] Ibid. pg. 217
[3] Ibid. 220 

      

Posted by RYM Conference Coord. at 12/1/14

5 More Promises of Porn - John Perritt

John Perritt - Youth Pastor
Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church (Ridgeland, MS)


Here is a follow-up to the article 5 Promises of Porn.  

Porn makes us many promises – promises of happiness, comfort, pleasure, joy – but these promises are fleeting.  Below are some of the promises you are guaranteed to receive from porn, however, they aren’t promises you typically desire.   

1. Porn Angers God.  
You need to understand that God sees everything you ever do.  [Quote Ryle].  God is so holy he cannot be around sin.  God is so holy he hates sin.  God does not take your viewing of porn lightly.  He is repulsed by it.  He burns against it.    

2. Porn Creates Lust.
[1] Lust is clearly a sin Scripture speaks to, and it is simply impossible to view porn without lusting.  In this case, you are lusting after something that is forbidden.  You are lusting after sex in it’s proper context; i.e., outside of marriage.  Lust may feel good in the moment, but lust will only leave you empty and will lead to destruction [Rom. 1:24-27].    

3. Porn Hurts Daughters.  
I currently have two daughters.  It scares me to think that they will, most likely, marry a guy who’s addicted to porn.  To think that a young man will view my daughters through porn-poisoned eyes, is a hard thought for me to accept.  My daughters are beautiful treasures and I want them to be appreciated.  Understand you are viewing and disgracing someone else’s daughter when you look at porn.    

4. Porn Mocks Jesus.  
It’s impossible for us to truly grasp the sacrifice Christ made for us.  He left his eternal throne, obeyed the law perfectly, was rejected by men, betrayed by those closest to him, beaten, nailed to a cross, died, and conquered death.  He did not go through all of that in order for you to waste your time viewing porn.  Jesus bought you with his blood, he owns you, now you must live your life for his glory – not your sin.  “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” [Rom. 6:2]    

5. Porn Feeds Your Sin.  
Did you know the more you feed your sin the stronger it gets?  Did you know you can actually starve your sinful flesh?  Just picture a professional football player in the NFL.  Now picture him after only eating salads for a month.  That guy would lose significant strength and muscle.  It is similar with our sin.  If you feed it, it grows.  If you starve it, it shrinks.  Porn will continue to grow your sin until it rules you.  Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to help you engage your battle against porn.    

Here’s some good news.  While all of the above promises are indeed true, but devastating, the promise of Jesus brings freedom.  If you are reading this and you are viewing porn on a regular basis, know that the blood of Jesus can cleanse you.  Know that the Holy Spirit is your strength, and that is the same Spirit who rose Jesus from the grave!  You are never too sick or too far gone for Jesus’ redeeming work.  Be reminded of the good news of the gospel and seek out help from your parents, pastors, or biblical counselors. 

 [1] Denny Burk’s, What is the Meaning of Sex? influenced this thought p. 225
Posted by RYM Conference Coord. at 12/1/14

5 Promises of Porn - John Perritt

John Perritt - Youth Pastor
Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church (Ridgeland, MS)


Porn is a poison that is destroying many teens. It is not a poison that is just destroying guys, but girls as well. Most teenagers know it’s a bad thing, but that doesn’t seem to matter when they’re alone with their smartphones. The temptations become too great, and before they know it, they’re viewing pornography. Of course there are those teenagers who don’t even go looking for porn, but it finds them through Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr. 
In light of life in a porn-saturated culture, here are five thoughts to encourage you to battle against porn:

1. Porn will destroy your marriage. The images you are looking at are almost completely fake. Therefore, you are setting yourself up for disappointment on your honeymoon night. Your wife will not look like those images, and I’m not even sure she should. Which leads me to my next point…

2. Porn destroys femininity. (I know females look at porn, but this is addressing the guys). Not only are the pornographic images of women fake, they are creating an unrealistic ideal of what a female should be. Porn tells you females must look a certain way and meet your every sexual desire. God tells us females are created after his image [Gen. 1:27] and are more than body parts.

3. Porn feeds objectification. This is very closely related to the above, but goes a bit further. When guys spend extended time in front of porn, they will begin to measure a woman’s worth based on the size of their bust. Instead of appreciating the intricacies of a girl’s personality, they will only see “parts”. When these parts lose value, so does the person.

4. Porn distorts beauty. Yes there is such a thing as physical beauty, and yes we can appreciate beautiful people. However, beauty is more than the outer physical attributes of a person. There are plenty of beautiful people who would not measure up to the specifications of a porn star. If you don’t learn to appreciate inner beauty, every female will disappoint you. [Prov. 31:30]

5. Porn will destroy you. Do you want to grow up to be so ugly you’re hard to look at? Do you want to grow up to smell bad? Do you want to grow up and get divorced and live with your father? Jamie didn’t plan on any of those things, but his porn addiction did exactly what I described. He now lives in isolation from his wife and children and doesn’t know how to relate to anyone. Porn enslaves you and will ultimately kill you.

What do I do? There are two things you need to do. First, fall on your knees and repent before God. Ask him to forgive you and ask him for help in your fight. Remember, he is holy and hates sin, but he is a gracious father that rejoices in repentance. [Luke 15] Second, (and you’re not going to like this one) tell your parents. Confession is crucial in this fight and if you keep your sin in the dark it will only grow. You cannot stop on your own. Plus, if you tell your parents you are in sin and you need their help, they’ll probably be more loving than you think. 
Heath Lambert, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace. pg. 96
Posted by RYM Conference Coord. at 12/1/14