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Teens Driving Under the Influence
Can It Be Reduced by Parental and Spiritual Influence?
David R. Smith

Many teens drive under enormous amounts of distraction – loud music, friends, and texting. But new reports claim that half of teens and young adult drivers who die in car wrecks have one thing in common.

They’d been using alcohol or marijuana (or both) prior to...
JONATHAN'S BLOG: Content with My Sin
I Just finished watching a movie on my flight, This is Where I Leave You. The film was extremely well written, with powerful performances and real-to-life characters. There was just one problem… I walked away content with my own sin.

Life sucks. So do what feels good at the moment.

Here lies the struggle: touching film… bleak perspective

One of the main reasons I enjoyed the movie was the authentic characters with genuine problems. They were blemished, just like me and just like the people sitting in the pews with me every week. But the reason I actually sit in the pew every week is because I desperately need Jesus, and he’s the only one who can solve my sin problem.

That’s Christianity in a nutshell: realize your own shortcomings, understand you can’t do anything about it on your own, and in faith, ask Jesus to do it for you. It’s not very macho. Quite the opposite really. It’s admitting we need help. The good news is, Jesus gives us a clean slate immediately (justification) and begins the slow process of cleaning up our lives part by part (sanctification).

But the world doesn’t like that message. Our dependence on Christ kicks us out of the driver’s seat and doesn’t allow us to do whatever we desire… and that’s really where the problem lies for most.

In This is Where I Leave You the blemished characters acted out in desperation, sleeping around on their spouses, drinking, smoking pot… sometimes to numb the pain, and sometimes exploring greener pastures, only to find out that the grass isn’t always greener. Then they wondered why their lives were so messed up. Jason Bateman’s character even asked, “Is it just our family, or is everyone miserable?” (Of the five lead characters, not one had a healthy marriage.)

Don’t get me wrong; I actually enjoyed much of this film, especially the elements where the family bonded together through the tough circumstances. I don't mind movies showing the breakdown of the family and the pain that goes along with it. Some of my favorite films have done this, and done this well. It’s difficult to label a film like this all “good” or “bad.” The film was gritty. It was really touching at moments… and then really bleak.

But that’s where the movie “leaves you”, so to speak: life sucks, and just make the best of it, because… this is all there is.

Thankfully, that’s not true. There’s more. If you want to see it, go to the funeral of someone who put their hope in Jesus. My friend’s mom just died and I went to her funeral. Unlike the funeral in this movie, the funeral I attended was a celebration. Countless friends and relatives shared stories of happy moments, and a happy ending. And every last one of them mentioned how comforting it is to know we will see her once again.

In the movie Tina Fey asked, “Do we believe in God?”

Talk about your bleak funerals.

Yes, ironically, life does suck when you do whatever you desire. That’s a pretty accurate definition of sin—doing things our way, not God’s way. Life is so much more than the quick thrill. Point of fact, the quick thrill often costs long-term.

God wants to save us from all of that.

No, that doesn’t mean we’ll avoid all pain. But it does mean two things:

  1. God will help us stop bringing pain on ourselves

  2. He’ll help us endure through suffering, with the hope there’s something so much better, a hope that helps us here and now.

Frankly, the movie didn’t provide a happy ending because the filmmakers didn’t seem to believe in happy endings… only happy moments.

I love happy moments.

But faith in God provides happy moments and a happy ending.

Season 5, Episode 8, Coda
It only took about 75 seconds into this week’s episode for us to realize exactly how far Rick was willing to go to protect the group. How far would you be willing to go? This season The Walking Dead has

CAMPUS MINISTRY CORNER: The Power of Coming Together
Last weekend I was in a small town outside of Minneapolis where I witnessed something I rarely see in the world of youth ministry. I saw a network of 8 youth workers from different ministries come together to share ideas and do ministry together.

I almost pinched myself. A Lutheran, a Baptist, a Methodist, someone from the Covenant church and a Campus Life leader were drinking coffee together (sounds like a joke, right?) Yes, it’s not the first time I’ve seen it, but let’s just say I don’t see it often.

The youth ministry buzzword at hand here is called Networking. Faith leaders coming together to encourage each other, support one another and talk ministry. It’s something that doesn’t happen as often as it should.

I know, because I fly into about 30 cities a year to speak at conferences and events. In the majority of the cities I’ll sit down at dinner with a youth pastor and begin talking ministry. I always ask, “Do you know the youth pastor at the big white church I passed two blocks South? What about the church two blocks east across the park?”

4 out of 5 times the answer is, “No.”

“I’ve just been really busy. I’ve been trying to get things in motion here first, then I intend to start networking.”

Sadly, it rarely happens.

This small network outside of Minneapolis not only meets regularly, they run a weekly campus ministry together. Eight churches and Campus Life combine efforts to feed 400 to 450 kids weekly at the local high school. One of the churches is strategically located across the street from the school. Every Thursday, students have the option of going “to church” for lunch. They eat, they have fun, and they hear a little truth from God’s word.

The eight churches take turns providing the lunch, and all the churches provide leaders who interact with the kids each week.

None of the churches could do it on their own. But eight churches standing together… stronger than the Ecclesiastes 4 cord of three strands!

What might you accomplish if you came together like this?

What’s stopping you from stopping by that church down the street and inviting the youth worker to lunch this week?


Music Discussions:
Shake It Off

Posted on January 1/15/2015, 2015 at 12:00 AM
Movie Reviews and Quick Q's:
American Sniper (12/25/2014)

Posted on January 1/14/2015, 2015 at 12:15 PM
Video Game Reviews @
Tomodachi Life

Posted on January 1/6/2015, 2015 at 03:17 PM
YouTube Discussion Starters:
A Gift of Forgiveness in Rwanda

Posted on December 12/19/2014, 2014 at 12:00 AM
Outreach Resource of the Week RSS Feed
God's Take on Sex

This resource, taken from our OUTREACH AGENDAS page, has never failed to produce LOTS of conversation! It also provides you with the opportunity to share God’s take on sex.


Discussion Starter: Men and Women Should… 
Stand up front and designate one side of the room as the “agree side,” and the other side of the room as the “disagree side.”(You may want to label the

Spiritual Growth Resource of the Week RSS Feed
Sexual Purity (For Girls Only)

With Valentine’s Day looming in the near future, you might be looking for some great resources to teach about dating/relationships. Here’s a great one from our SPIRITUAL GROWTH AGENDAS page.

Discussion Starter: Getting Inside Girls’ Heads

As you begin, say, “Tonight we’re going to talk about sexual purity,” and then introduce a few of the “ladies” you’ve selected….

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