April 29, 2014

Context is King

Context matters. In fact, some would say "context is king"…and I wholeheartedly agree.

The above statement applies when seeking to understand everyday conversations, and it is crucial to interpreting Scripture.

You've all been there: sitting in a coffee shop, overhearing a verbal interaction that sounds nothing short of awkward, looking over to see the people engaged in said convo, and seeing that neither one is as perplexed as you are by what was just relayed. And then you realize what has occurred. You have overheard a "bit" or a "piece" of a bigger conversation, and you have incorrectly interpreted those drips and drabs to mean one thing when the original speakers clearly meant another.

April 26, 2014

How to Teach Purity: 10 Tips for Youth Leaders

Teaching purity to teens can be a daunting task. Oft-times, you may feel "put on the spot" or unable to handle questions that come your way. Let's be honest: this can be a touchy topic for many - both leaders and listeners alike. Below are ten basic tips to help youth leaders teach biblical purity in a way that will (hopefully) keep your palms dry and your heart from beating out of your chest.

1) Have an "open door" policy with parents. I realize that some of your youth's parents may never darken the door of the church. But when dealing with matters as heavy as God's view on sex, it helps to let parents know that you are open to talking with them about the topic as well. Many parents want to be the ones to teach their children about sex, so it is good to collaborate with them (if possible) to share what you will and will not be covering. Also, we cannot neglect the fact that the members of our youth groups spend countless more hours per week with their parents than they do with us. So we are unlikely to see changes in them if their parents aren't on-board with (or at least aware of) the subject at-hand.

April 23, 2014

Why Teach Purity?

Little girls don't know how to be sweet girls:
"Mama didn't teach me."
Little boys don't know how to treat little girls:
"Daddy didn't show me."

The above are lyrics from Erin McCarley's song "Love, Save the Empty." As the  tune tumbles on, we learn that a sexual encounter has taken place. The singer bemoans "giving it up" too soon to a guy who showed her "false affection," causing her to "break down inside" upon realizing his ruse. She croons on about wanting true, genuine love to come and "save" her from her resulting emptiness. 


I first heard this song when it debuted in 2008, and even though it's cut-to-the-heart words were cleverly set to a whimsical beat, the true sorrow contained was not lost on me. The words hit me like a gut punch - not because I've had similar experiences, but because I haven't. And because I desperately long for young people to skirt this kind of devastation as well - by living pure and holy lives before the Lord.

April 21, 2014

EASTER: "He is Risen!" - OR - "I am Barren..."

Yesterday was Easter Sunday: the day when Christians everywhere celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I greatly prefer it to the Christmas holiday, as Christmas only points to the beginning of the wonderful gift God gave us. Easter, on the other hand, commemorates the completion of that gift. Having fulfilled the Law by living a perfect, sinless life, Christ died in our place and took upon Himself the full cup of God's wrath. On the third day, He rose again to prove He'd defeated sin and death and thus made a way to reconcile us to God. So I enjoy the focus that Easter brings to the "it is finished"-ness of the Gospel of grace. Praise Him, for He is risen!

April 9, 2014

Gospel Nails

Anybody remember the ole' tried-n-true power band? You know, that bracelet made with six colors that represent the Gospel story? Well I recall making those way back in the '90s...and apparently, they haven't fallen out of style with the younger set. But we're talking really young - like lower elementary grades - and I work with middle/high schoolers. So what's a girl to do?

Lest a good way to "wear our witness" lose steam, I googled more teen-friendly ways to use the colors and landed on the idea of Gospel Nails. All you need are the correct six colors of nail polish: black, red, white, blue, green, yellow. This is where order comes into play. These colors must be painted on the nails in exactly that order. Why? Think back to the Power Band:

April 7, 2014

Conscious Uncoupling: A Nice and Flowery Term for Something God Hates

Conscious uncoupling.

It's become the catchphrase of the month, thanks to actress Gwyneth Paltrow's use of the term to define the dissolving of her 9-year marriage to Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. But what is it, exactly? Why use the term "conscious uncoupling" rather than separation or divorce?

According to a recent Huffington Post article on the matter, the phrase is "ridiculous," "New Age-y, pretentious, [and] righteous." Of course, what the writers probably meant by that last descriptor was self-righteous, because the dissolution of a marriage - Christian or not - is never a "righteous" act. In fact, God clearly states that He hates divorce in Malachi 2:16.

April 2, 2014

Where Everybody Knows Your Name...

Remember the theme song from Cheers? Well many of you don't, because you are what I like to call...wait for it...young. But I am not so young, and so I think of this tune almost every time I enter our local Starbucks. 

From what I gather, this is not common at many of the 'Bucks stores; however, it's more the case here because our SB is small town. Almost every barista knows my name, and a large chunk of them know my drink...that is, if I haven't changed it up too much recently!