The Trap

Dear Parents:

Today, middle school and high school students hear numerous messages regarding sex and dating, most of which are false. Our culture is fascinated with sex, from TV to the Internet to the halls of school, and often promotes a distorted view of sex.  The reality is that God created sex and He has a perfect plan for it, a plan that our students need to hear.   Much more so, God has a plan for your student’s life in particular, including their future spouse.  We want students to understand the truth about sex and dating, not be caught in the trap of false promises.

On September 25, October 2, October 16, and October 30 at The Link we’ll be discussing the topics of sex and dating in a series called “The Trap.” Our goal is to help students see that many of the promises our culture makes regarding sex and dating are actually traps that ensnare. We’ll also emphasize that Jesus can graciously rescue us from those traps and restore us.

Additionally, on Sunday mornings from October 6th-27th your student’s small group will be doing a study called “Live Different,” which encourages and equips students to walk in purity. If you would like an advance copy of any of these lessons, please let me know and I will be more than happy to provide them for you.

I want to make you aware of these upcoming series because I understand that some of you might want to talk with your child about sex in a different way or forum.  If you are uncomfortable with the direction or content of this series please feel free to contact me, 478-953-9319.  I assure you that we will present all of this material in a tasteful and God-honoring way. I hope that you will pray for our students and leaders as we discuss this difficult, but timely subject.

Brandon

Parent Update on The Link

Parents,

I hope you are surviving the new school year. If you’re anything like me, it takes a few weeks to get back into the routine of ‘normal life’ after summer ends. Part of me always holds out hope that my beach vacation will become my new ‘normal,’ but that never works out. Shrimp, sun, sleeping in… that is the life. Anyway, I hope you’re in your routine and aren’t too overwhelmed. 

I want to take a second to update you on what is going on Wednesday nights at the Link. Next Wednesday we’re beginning a new series, “Origins,” designed to help our students understand the basics of a biblical worldview. I’m pretty pumped about it. Here are the topics we’ll cover each night:

“How Did the World Begin?” -August 28th
We’ll discuss the origins of our world and the implications it has on our lives. Another way to ask this question would be, who is right: my biology teacher or the Bible?

“Does My Life Have Meaning?”-September 4th
We’ll examine the origins of morality and meaning. Is there an absolute standard for truth and how can we know what it is?

“What is Wrong with Our World?”-September 11th
We don’t have to look very hard to determine that there is something wrong with our world. What is the origin of evil, pain, suffering, and death?

“Where Can I Find Hope?”-September 18th
There is definitely something wrong with our world, but if we’re honest, we would admit that there is something wrong with us, as well. Is there hope for us in this life and the next? If so, what is the origin of that hope?

That’s the game plan. I would love to see your student at the Link on Wednesday nights. This is also an awesome series for them to invite friends. Doors open at 6. We play games from 615-630. Then the worship service is 630-730.

I’d love to see you there, as well. Parents are always invited to drop in and check out what we’re doing. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to invest in your student.


Brandon

Why I Am Not The Best Youth Pastor For Your Teen

I’d like to confess something to you. It’s a dangerous confession, but one I think you need to hear.  I’m not the best youth pastor for your teenager. That’s right, there is someone much more qualified, better equipped, and who has exceedingly more influence over your teen than me. At this point, some of you are thinking, “Duh, Brandon, I’ve seen you at work and figured that out a long time ago.” First, thanks for the encouragement. Second, let me be clear, I’m not talking about making an upgrade at my position. So who is the mystery person I’m talking about?

Big reveal: you. You are the best youth pastor your kid will ever have. Let me explain by breaking it down numerically. I get your kid for about 48 hours a year, for some of them it will be a little more, some will be alittle less.  Parents, on the other hand, spend thousands of hours a year with their children. Your student will be in our ministry for 6 years, he or she will be in your house for 18.  Your son is not coming back to my house for Thanksgiving after graduation. Your daughter is not calling me for more money. You and your kids are tied together for a lifetime. You, as a parent, have enormous long-term impact on the direction of your kid’s life, much more than any pastor.

Its not just the numbers, either, The Bible actually places the responsibility of discipling the next generation, not on the church (or any religious instituion), but on the family. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Wow! The most influential person in your child’s life is you. Maybe you’ve never thought of yourself as a spiritual leader to your family. Maybe you are more of the ‘drop them off at church and hope something good rubs off on them’ kinda guy. My prayer is that you will embrace your position as your kid’s best youth pastor and lead them well. The good news is that it is never too late to begin spiritually investing in your family.

for His fame,
brandon

Just for Girls: Guest Post by Katie Creery

Great guest blog just for the ladies from my unbelievable assistant, Katie Creery. Enjoy!

Why Be Modest?
by Katie Creery

OK ladies, have any of you been shopping lately?  Probably all of us have! What did you shop for?  Shirts, pants, jewelry, shoes (my personal favorite!)…there are lots of items to choose from out there. Well, if any of you are like me, sometimes I actually go shopping with a mission, looking for a very specific item. For example–last summer I decided I was going to shop for the perfect pair of shorts. I left pretty excited and energized thinking, “Yep, today is a good day to buy shorts, and the perfect pair will be waiting in the first store just for me”.  You’re thinking ridiculous, right?  Well, you would be correct…not only were there not shorts out there waiting for me at the first store, but there were no shorts at all in that store unless you just count the small (very small!) shorts-shaped pieces of jean or cotton cloth hanging on  hangers or lying on tables.

Was this a joke? Is that really what those stores expected me to wear?  These garments did not contain enough fabric to cover even some underwear !

So, after that disappointment I went to a different store thinking, “Surely not all clothing stores have bought into this type of totally immodest “clothing” …OK, not this store either…OK, not next store…now totally next shopping center…still nothing!  The shopping trip for that particular day was officially a “fail”. I started to wonder, “What is a girl supposed to do who really cares about the appearance and appropriateness of the clothing she puts on, and the image she projects?” What can we do to find appropriate, but still cute, clothing (cause let’s be honest, girls, we want to look cute, don’t we)?  Well, I guess the short answer to that is to be patient until we do find the right look. There are stores out there that sell cute, but appropriate clothing. It may just mean we have to look a little bit harder to find them. I was eventually able to find a pair of shorts that were a length I was comfortable with, but still stylish.

I really don’t need to tell you where to find your clothes–you and your parents can do that together. I just want  you girls to understand why the length of my shorts mattered to me in the first place. If stores were “telling” me by the inappropriate clothing they stock, “buy short shorts” why didn’t I just go ahead and buy what was easily available?

Well, here’s my answer to that. God created me in His perfect image (Genesis 1:26 reminds us of that), in order to glorify His name throughout the earth. Being a young woman in today’s society, I am in a unique position to glorify Him by how I act and dress in my daily life, especially if that (as it so often is) is counter to the culture in which we live today. 1 Peter 2:12 states to “keep your conduct honorable…that they may see your good deeds and glorify God..” In other words, if my faith is as important to me as I say, then I need to live a life that reflects Him, and that includes every daily choice that I make, including how I dress. Wearing immodest clothing will distract from the message God gave me to share with the world, His love. The Bible (1 Timothy 2:9) specifically instructs us that as young women of God we should “dress modestly with decency and propriety” When my physical appearance distracts from His message of love, it means that others, especially boys, may be looking at me as an object, and thinking about how I am dressed (or, in the case of some of today’s fashions, more like undressed!) rather than seeing me as the person God created me to be. Now understand girls, that you are not usually to blame when men’s thoughts are inappropriate, but it is wrong if we  unthinkingly or purposefully dress in such a way to lead guys into thinking ungodly, sexually inappropriate thoughts. If we do, we share in the responsibility of contributing to their sin. It is wrong of us to do anything that would cause another Christian to stumble and fall (See Romans 14:13-21 for a good explanation of this).

Finally, girls you deserve better than having guys only thinking about the way you look and the way you dress.  That’s all surface, all external.  You are beautiful, “knit together by God before you were ever born” (Psalm 139:15) and you don’t need to compromise who God made you to be by what you wear in order to get guys attention. 1 Peter 3:3-4 says “Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in”.  You get God’s attention simply by being you (after all, He created you and He loves you enough to send His Son to die for you!)

That is the kind of spirit that others will be blessed by and that you are worthy of.  Paul puts it this way: “Women should be in humility before God, not primping before a mirror, or chasing the latest fashions, but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it:” (1 Timothy 2:10, The Message)

Myths, Fables, & Sex: Stuff for Parents

Parents, I know this issues we’re discussing on Wednesday nights are important for you to hear about also. Here a a few articles that you should definitely check out.

Tending…Pornography…: Walter Mueller shares 10 stats about teens and internet pornography that are unbelievable. If you think your teen would never look at porn, click the link. If you are concerned that your teen might be looking about porn, click the link. These stats show it is a problem for guys and girls.

5 Internet Monitoring Approaches For Parents: Good article with helpful tips about how to create online accountability for your teen vs. spying on your teen.

Saved Sex: Interesting Article that I quoted from in my message last night. If your teen came home freaked out about a quote I read, it was more than likely one from this article. Check it out for yourself.

I hope these help!

brandon

Good Resource for Parents

This week we’re beginning a new series at The Link on Wednesday nights called “Myths, Fables, and Sex.” The goals are to help students understand a biblical worldview about sex, establish healthy boundaries in their relationships, and to breakdown current myths about sex. I know as a parent, this topic can be overwhelming to discuss with your student. Our students are surrounded with sex constantly and it can be difficult for us to discern what is really going on with your student.

I’d like to recommend a great resource to you, An Expose on Teen Sex and Dating by Andy Braner. In this short book, Andy explains what is going on behind the scenes in the teen dating world. Why would this be a good read for parents?

First, at the risk of being overly simplistic, we read about things that are important to us. I read about bikes, guitars, music, Atlanta Braves, Georgia football, and God (not necessarily in that order). I know that, as a parent, your student is important to you. And your student making great decisions about sex and dating is improtant to you, too. So I think that this book would be worth reading.

Second, while I don’t agree with everything Andy says in this book I think it will be helpful to you.  There are a few times in the book when he seems to water down biblical truth in light of how to communicate that truth with teens, which I think it one major drawback. But overall, this is a great resource, especially in describing what is going on in the teen dating scene and how to communicate with students about it.  Chapter Six, “Parental Involvement,” and Chapter 10, “Communication,” are fantastic and would be extremely beneficial to you.

So pick up a copy of the book. Read it discerningly. Hopefully, it will help you talk to your student.

Why Small Groups Are For Parents, Too

I love our small groups! I tell my leaders all the time that I believe small groups are the most crucial aspect of our student ministry. Don’t get me wrong I love teaching students the Bible every Wednesday night, but I’ve come to see that small groups make a much bigger impact than anything I could ever say from the stage. As a parent I think in a strange way that our small groups are also for you. What I mean is that your kid attending a weekly small group will actually benefit your relationship with your student. Here are a few reasons why I believe that.

1. We teach our small group leaders to partner with parents. Our goal is not to work against you, but to work alongside you. Our small group leaders want to be another encouraging voice in the life of your student. You want the best for your student, so do we. As a parent, if you think a little help in guiding your child would be a great thing, then our small groups are for you.
2. Small Groups teach students about relationships. This generation of students is more connected via technology than previous generations, but they also feel more isolated. A small group is a great place to help your student learn how to develop great relationships over time. I think most parents want healthy peer relationships for their kids, which is one of our goals in our small groups, too.
3. Small Group Leaders are clutch in crisis situations. When a crisis hits your kid’s life, having a caring adult who is there for them and willing to listen to them is crucial. Its a great comfort to know your student has a great encourager in their corner when life gets messy. But you know those types of relationships are built over time, so having your student actively involved in a small group prior to the crisis is the key.
4. Small Group Leaders talk about Jesus. I believe (and I hope you do, too) that the most significant relationship in your student’s life is his/her relationship with Jesus. In fact, I believe that relationship influences all of our other relationships. The best thing for your relationship with your student is for them to have a growing relationship with Jesus.  Priority number one for small group leaders is to point your student to Jesus.
So, these are just a few of the many reason why I think that small groups are beneficial for parents, too. I know you’re busy. I know you’re family schedule is nuts. I know your student has homework, school activities, and traveling whatever. But I think small groups are important enough for you to make time for Wednesday nights, 715-800. If you need to make a choice, skip The Link, skip my teaching, skip worship, or skip summer camp to make time for small groups. I honestly believe small groups make more impact on our students lives than anything else we do. To register your student for a small group click here.
If you are a parent who loves your kid’s small group leader, please post a comment below and tell us why.