Helping Your Students Learn to Hear from God

By Ryan Weber

Have you ever been in a church service or heard a pastor/missionary speak to a crowd when he/she says things like this: “Then God spoke to me,” “I heard God tell me,” “God laid it on my heart,” etc.?

And all you’re thinking is, “This dude’s crazy, they’re hearing voices from the sky and making life changing decisions because of this inaudible voice. Psycho.”

As adults, we struggle to hear the voice of God on a consistent basis. How in the world are we supposed to train and equip our students to hear something inaudible and be moved by something that is so seemingly difficult to grasp?

In mid-August, we took our students on our yearly summer camp, Core Adventures. There were so many life-changing commitments made, tears shed, and challenges created. On the last day of the camp, the leaders shared a bit of their individual testimonies, the reason for their own passion for Christ and ministry, and lastly their heart for the students attending the camp. We all spoke into the great potential that God has placed in each student’s life and spoke with a desire to see them live out their faith in Jesus.

We then gave them space to hear from God. We told them to go off by themselves for 30 minutes with nothing but a pen, their journal, and their Bible. We asked them to consider what it was they thought God wanted them to do as they left Core Adventures. It was a call to action.

There were no tears during the leader’s testimony. There were no tears during our urgent plea to see them see their God-given potential come to life. Believe it or not, the tears came when the students allowed God to speak to them when they were silent and still before Him.

And here’s the crazier part. We didn’t tell them how to do it.
It just happened.

When God is allowed an avenue and a willing spirit to speak into someone’s life, He always capitalizes on that opportunity.

When the students returned from their 30 minutes with God, there were 3 of them that committed their lives to Jesus. I spoke with one student who felt called and directed to start taking steps to be a pastor (he’s 13 years old), I spoke with another teen who wanted to get over the lust issues he was dealing with, and another about some terrible situations in her past that effected her self-esteem and ability to move forward in God’s love.

Listen, it’s not that hard to get someone to hear from God. God doesn’t have to work hard to speak to His children. We just do a terrible job putting ourselves into a position to hear from Him.

One of the benefits of Core Adventures is that we took away every student’s cell phone as soon as soon as they stepped foot on the campground. There were absolutely zero distractions for them during the entire week. There was no Instagram, no Snapchat, no Kik, no Pokemon Go, nothing. In a world that is next to impossible to find stillness, they found it. And we had some teens say they didn’t want their phones back at the end of camp (they took them back anyway).

Helping your teenager learn to hear from God is as simple as allowing him or her the opportunity and the margin in their busy lives to check out for a little bit. Let them waste time with God. The time that we all waste with God is the most productive time of our day. So give them that space. Let them see you in that space. Talk to them about what happens in that space.

When anyone is alone with God with nothing but themselves, a pen, a journal and a Bible, dangerously wonderful things are about to happen. There is nothing that the devil is frightened of more than a Christian with an open Bible and a willing spirit to do whatever God wants them to do.

Hearing God speak audibly comes through His Word, and your receptive spirit. Your teens are crying out and desperate for something to be a part of that is bigger than themselves and God wants desperately to give that to them. Give them the space and margin they need to find what’s truly important in their lives by making the Bible, prayer, and intentional thought an overwhelming priority in your lives.

How to Help Your Kids Read the Bible

By Ryan Weber

It was the most intimidating thing in the world to be thrust into a position where I was responsible for teaching kids the Bible. I was 17 years old, had just become a follower of Jesus Christ and wanted to serve Him by serving kids. The pastor told me that I should work with children and I ended up being the leader of a small group of twelve 4th-5th graders and it was my responsibility to take them through a curriculum designed to grow them in their faith.

I thought this was nothing short of impossible. I knew nothing of the Bible, couldn’t quote John 3:16 from memory, had no idea what communion was, and here I was expected to teach a bunch of kids what the Bible says and how to apply it to their lives. I wanted to crawl away.

But I didn’t.

And somehow, God used that situation and my inadequacy and my lack of knowledge to help change the lives of those twelve kiddos and see them become amazing followers and disciples of Jesus Christ.

I was so freaked out at the opportunity that I had that, in retrospect, I completely over-prepared for the lessons that I was to teach them every week. I read and I studied and I wrote and I asked questions of my parents and my pastors and my friends. I didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of those kids because Wednesday nights always came and Sunday mornings always came and they counted on me to be their friend and work through the Bible with them.

Looking back, knowing nothing was the best thing I could have provided those kids. Because it forced me to figure out what the Bible actually said, it forced me to figure out who Jesus is and who God is.

The best part about all of that preparation for those kids’ Bible study is this: I FELL IN LOVE WITH THE BIBLE AND I FELL IN LOVE WITH JESUS CHRIST! I realized that the Bible is incredible and Jesus in unbelievably awesome. The more I read, the more I realized how great He is.

And the more I realized how great He is, the more I wanted to share what I was learning with the kids in my group. It became a partnership. In an odd and ironic way, I grew more in my faith in Jesus Christ by teaching lessons to elementary school kids than I feel like I would learn in a seminary classroom. Because those questions from those kids were real and raw, and I was real and raw.

When you want to teach and help your kids read the Bible, it all comes from you sitting down and making a concerted effort to see your children be trained up in the way of the Lord. I got freaked out that I had to meet with my kids twice a week and the responsibility that entailed.

I cannot imagine how freaked out you must be because you parents have that opportunity EVERY DAY! What a privilege. It’s one that I look forward to having some day when I have kids of my own and I can’t imagine having the opportunity to struggle to find the answers to your kid’s questions about the Bible.

You may not feel like you have the tools to help your kids grow in their faith in Jesus, that it’s something that should be left to the pastors and volunteers at church. But it’s when you feel inadequate and are thrust into a position to teach that God makes you most moldable and teachable yourself.

You have to be willing to step into the pages of the Bible and in front of your kids and tell them how awesome the Bible really is. Because I guarantee that the more time you spend reading it, the more you won’t be able to shut up about it to your kids (and everyone else in your life).

Your kids will catch your fire. That’s the nature of being a parent and that’s the nature of what the Bible does in our lives!

How to Help Your Students Trust the Bible

By Ryan Weber

Inerrancy and truth. When placed within the confines of our ideas of Scripture, they are two simple words loaded with potential. If we believe that the Bible is without error in all things, we can trust that what lies within it is absolutely true. And if the Bible is absolutely true, then the principles that lie within it are the key to unlocking a life of self-sacrificing excellence, a life that reflects the life of Christ.

On the surface, that sounds beautiful. Underneath that utopian view of biblical power lies a cultural reality which subversively argues that Scripture is an archaic and misogynistic collection of letters that are no longer relevant to a 21st century America. The issue begins when the barrage of influences in our students’ lives speak louder and more consistently than the Word of God. Our students are quicker (and if we’re honest with ourselves, we are too) to open up Instagram and Snapchat than they are to open up the Bible.

The Bible is more accessible than it has ever been, but the ironic tragedy is that our own access to the Bible has never been more limited. Why? Because we are a Golden Corral people.

We would much rather go to Golden Corral when it comes to our preferences and activity than anything else. I can pick and choose whatever I want whenever I want for anything that suits my own preferences and comfort. As long as I like it, I’ll make it a part of my worldview and thereby a part of my lifestyle.

Golden Corral is easy and cheap. We can go there to fill our bellies if we want. We should never go there (figuratively) to fill our lives. If I’m going to go anywhere to figuratively fill my life, I want it to be something special – think Chima’s Brazilian Steakhouse or Ruth’s Chris.

When you think of those places, you think of one thing: Steak! That’s the good stuff! When I go there, I know I’m going to get filled with something special. That’s why God sent us His Word, and it’s more important than ever (with so many Golden Corral selections out there competing for our minds, time and adoration) that we understand the priority and the superiority of the Bible. I don’t want cheap imitation, I want authentic revelation.

And the Bible is that. Even if you hold a PhD in History or Religious Studies from a liberal university, you cannot nor will not ever discredit the viability, historicity and inerrant truth of the Word of God. The Bible says of itself, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8 NIV). Translation: the Bible rules, always has, always will.

So, your unique challenge is this: convince your teenager that you are smarter and know more than the professors they are going to encounter in college (and possibly even high school) who are going to tell them that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of fairy tales written in the context of a misogynistic Hebrew culture.

Easy stuff, right? But it’s coming. They’ll be told their faith is a joke and Jesus was a failure. Believe me, I took that class. And our statistics tell us that our students believe them! 50% of committed students in church (meaning those kids who attend church every week, go on all the mission trips and events, serve in the kid’s ministry) fall away and will never attend church again. This is the urgency facing this generation. They need to know the truth of Isaiah 40:8.

But here’s the good thing: you don’t need a PhD to equip your student to withstand the coming onslaught. All you need is to know how to read and the Holy Spirit. There are hundreds of resources from smarter people than we’ll ever be who can attest to the reliability of the Scriptures. There are some wonderful and, better yet, not overly complicated resources to help you have informed conversations with your students:

  • The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel
  • I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Frank Turek and Norman Geisler
  • The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell

Just to name a couple. I would also encourage you to not be intimidated by these conversations. I just had an hour long conversation about these very topics with 5th and 6th graders, and they were enraptured the entire time. When the Holy Spirit enters a conversation and wants to penetrate hearts, He will use you to say what He wants and your students will listen. That’s how good the Holy Spirit is.

But it takes preparation on your part. This is the hard part of our parenting- to equip our students to survive when we are not around to save them. That’s why you need to make this a priority to learn and communicate the truths and facts of what we know of Scripture. Your student’s involvement in church as well as his/her adoration and worship of Jesus may depend on it. It’s that urgent. Join us in making sure these statistics change.

How To Talk With Your Students About Love

By Ryan Weber

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18)

When I was growing up, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Dad was head over heels in love with my Mom.  And it had absolutely nothing to do with the amount of times he told her that he loved her. Although I heard him say it over and over and over, every time he left the house, every time he hung up the phone, whenever he had opportunity, he told her that he loved her.  But those were just the words, there was a deeper reason why I knew my Dad loved her so much.

It was all the things he did.  The little kisses, the overt flirting, the hand holding, the arm around the shoulder when we were at public places, the gifts he’d buy, the trips he planned, the way he just looked at her.

Granted, when I was growing up, these things repulsed me and I threw up in my mouth a little every time I saw it happen.  But everyone knew that he was crazy about her, and it continues to this day.  I’m incredibly lucky to have a set of parents who have stuck together through thick and thin and are now looking forward to their 35th wedding anniversary this year.

My dad still does all those mushy, gooey things.

Now that I am married, I have a brand new appreciation for the way he demonstrated love for his wife. I saw my dad demonstrate love before I even knew what true love was.  And that’s so important when it comes to the life of your student because I want to get this cat out of the bag:

Your student does not want to talk to you about love.  They would rather talk to the mailman, the dentist, Siri, anyone else other than you about love, dating, sex, etc.  This is an area of their lives that they want to explore and keep private. And that’s ok.  It’s our job to guide our children into adulthood, not dictate their every move.  They will not want to open up and share their feelings with you.

But you are a parent and you should share your feelings with them.  It is your job to talk to your students and make sure they go down a path that will honor themselves, their God, you as their parents and their future spouse.  So you need to engage in a healthy and meaningful conversation with your teens.

The Path is starting a series on Valentine’s Day called, “I Kissed Dating Hello,” and The Garage is beginning a series on February 7th called “The Talk.” Both are going to provide wonderful windows of opportunity for you to engage your child in this conversation.  It will allow you to open up to discuss all of the important elements that your kids are probably already aware of, but it can help you frame their minds to a godly and biblical perspective.

What is the purpose of dating? What kind of person should I look for?  What kind of person am I? How do I ask someone out? How do I fight? How do I break up? Why should I wait until I’m married to have sex? What in the world is sex anyway? Is sex bad or good?

Do you know all the Scriptures that relate to love, dating and marriage?  Do you have a child in your home?  It’s time to start memorizing those verses, and pray through their meaning so you can share a biblical perspective.

How are you going to explain to your daughter that her body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and she is fearfully and wonderfully made; and no one should take advantage of her (1 Corinthians 6:19; Psalm 139:14)?  How are you going to explain to your son that he needs to make a covenant with his eyes to not look with lust upon a young woman (Job 31:1)?

I would imagine having these conversations with your teens is a lot like bungee jumping.  You stand there for as long as you want to buck up the courage, but eventually you just have to do it. You have to jump and allow the chips to fall where they may. I am praying that the resources that will be provided to you during our Path and Garage series will help you along this journey.

But do not forget, if you’re going to have this conversation with your student (and I pray you have the courage to make that jump), you better be prepared to practice what you preach and love your spouse, kids, coworkers, friends, etc. in the way that Jesus tells us to. That will be infinitely more effective than any awkward conversation you’ll have.

When it comes to talking to your kids about love, demonstration is your best conversation.

Love well, your kids will take notice and listen intently.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Student’s Christmas Break

By Ryan Weber

Christmas Break is almost here! And back when I used to get one (can we start a petition to institute Christmas Breaks for us, please?), I remember that marvelous feeling of pure and unadulterated joy. Like your face is about to explode type of joy.

I didn’t have to do homework for two weeks, I didn’t have to listen to that boring teacher for two weeks, I don’t have to deal with that annoying kid for two weeks, I don’t have to wake up early for two weeks, I don’t have to do ANYTHING for two weeks.

Simply put: Christmas break rules.

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