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One Year Book of Devotions For TeensAnother term that is cornered in the Christian market is a devotional*.  This can refer to an actual object, such as a book or journal that includes memory verses and reflections on God’s nature, or a set aside time or place wherein one prays, reads the Bible, and overall betters oneself as a Jesus follower.  It’s best not to ask the actual specifics of a Christian’s devotional time but to ensure that they are in fact securing their devotional time daily.  If you really want to get plugged in with your Christian friends it’s best to refer to this term as a “devo”.  As in, “How were your devos today man?”

There are many levels of Christian devotionals.  For a quick and easy fix order a calendar with a daily Bible verse or sign up online for a “Thought of the Day”- a dose of Pocket DevotionalsChristianity delivered to your inbox daily. However, most Christians choose some type of book in order to guide their nap, I mean, devo time. 

There are many options to choose from, and one must first select the appropriate demographic that you would like to assign yourself too: Devotionals for men, women, teens, couples, African Americans, Caucasian Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, or Other.  Each of these devos are highly adaptable to your specific life situation, therefore, choose wisely.  If you accidentally wander into the devo for European Americans of Swedish descent but are indeed of Danish roots, you may very well stray from the message God intended for you.

You will likely find the appropriate devo for even the most specific groups. B& H Publishing Group offers “Bible Promises for Champions.”  If you are not a champion, be advised to not read this devotional, as it would only offer Godly tips for those who are truly looking to succeed in life.

Once you’ve decided your demographic next you must choose a time frame: 31 days with God, 365 tips for yearly serA Teen's Guide to Friends, Faith, Family, and the Futurevanthood, or the strategic 7 minutes with Jesus (to be coordinated with your 6 minute abs: always attribute one more minute to Jesus than any of your other daily activities).

You’ve selected the correct group and time frame: Congratulations! You’re ready to purchase your first devotional book and truly join the masses of Christians who commit daily to figuring out what exactly they’re supposed to be doing during a devo in the first place.  Just remember, whether on the golf course or hunting for Bengal tigers in the forests of India, there is no life situation untouched by the perfect devotional book for you.

 

 

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The joys of evangelizing* to the unreached* populations of another country for a 2-4 week stay accompanied with sight-seeing and souvenir shopping are priceless.  Just like most Caucasians spend their time worrying about poor people, Christians spend their time time worrying also about the poor but non-Christian people in other countries.  They feel guilty and sad that Christians in Ethiopa worship in mud huts instead of renovated, state of the art, 3 story cathedrals with gymnasiums and puppet ministries.  Christians also feel guilty that non-Christians in other countries are worshipping animals and rocks instead of a marketable Jesus and will never get to wear merchandise such as a WWJD bracelet.

At some point in their faith journey a Christian will venture to a third-world territory known in Christian subcultures as the 10/40 window*.  The 10/40 window is cleverly named after the section of the globe that is most unreached by the gospel*, which lies across Africa and Asia from 10 degrees latitude north of the equator to 40 degrees latitude north of the equator.

The 10/40 Window is shown in red. As a new Christian you should become familar with this diagram:

The 10/40 window is a haven for Christians who are hoping to share their brand of American Christianity while at the same time checking another country off of their “To Visit” list.  During the 2-4 week visit, Christians are also able to gain all the information needed to come back to America and be experts on a certain culture.  After your short term mission trip you will be asked regularly to share about your experience in front of the congregation* and Sunday school groups. It would be appropriate during this talk to wear all of the authentic clothing and jewelry you purchased during your visit and greet your audience with a traditional hello in the native language of the country you visited.  Make sure to share pictures of yourself interacting with the native people, and stories about the dangerous scenarios you could have possibly been involved in by witnessing in a hostile territory.

During your trip it is important to remember all the valuable information you have to share with the natives, as you are an American Christian, and therefore knowledgable in many areas that need to be shared with the rest of the world.  Thank goodness for translators!

Your short-term mission trip will be an arduous journey, full of un-air conditioned rooms, squatter bathrooms, strange and unfamiliar people and customs, and many times no ice cubes in sight for your soft drinks.  Never fear! Often the last day of your journey is set aside to visit the local resort/spa, bargain for souvenirs, and a safari.  But the rest is hard-earned, as you have truly been a beacon of hope to many uncivilized people groups.

girls with infant

Also known as Hell houses, judgment houses, and revelation walks- Christian haunted houses are a must during the Halloween season. Although typically a holiday reserved for pagans and satan-worshippers, Christians use the season to warn teenagers about the dangers of drugs, sex, and overall foolish behavior that we now know almost slipped up the likes of Christian icon Michael W. Smith.

The average revelation walk centers around a group of white friends who enter dangerous territory when they begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol.  Those entering the venue will next come to a tragic and elaborate scene with a crashed car involved in a drunk driving accident, wherein several of the teenagers in the original vignette have now been killed. The next scene is the clincher, where each of the teens involved in the crash are now depicted entering either heaven or hell, complete with mist, fog, and an eery Halloween soundtrack.

Imagine the horror as you watch Susie being saved; Bobby rejecting Jesus; and then Billy who is initially undecided, but later trusts Jesus. A recent article states, “the Hell scene usually consists of a dark room heated to about 80 degrees into which the participants are herded to listen to agonizing screams from invisible speakers that surround them. Heaven is usually depicted as a bright white room (with no deficit of air conditioning) where one is surrounded by soft music and men and women dressed in heavenly garb.”

However, there are several variations of the Christian haunted house for churches to choose from: the horrible tragedies arising from pre-marital sex, abortions, and of course the dangers associated with dabbling in the occult and therefore becoming demon-possessed.

As a new Christian who may be unexperienced in full-frontal witnessing, we’ve presented to you the easy, step-by-step process of the Roman Road, and now the ability to claim Halloween for Christ by scaring your friends senseless at a Hell House.  You’re best bet for a conversion* may be to invite your non-Christian friend to the event without forewarning him/her of the Christian theme.  In this way, your friend is able to experience the full-effect of the judgment scene.  For this reason, you may want to avoid wearing your typical Christian t-shirt, hand bracelet, and necklace at the event so as to not clue your friend into the exciting evening ahead.

Remember the joys of living for Christ could never outweigh the terror of avoiding Hell, so make sure to seasonally visit a Judgment house in your area.

Just like another powerful figure in the country, Michael prefers to keep the “W” in his name.  In fact, many Christians wonder who would Michael w. Smith be without the W? Certainly he would not have had the same rise to fame as Michael Smith alone.

 Many people confuse Michael W. Smith for Jesus himself, as his presence within Christian culture has been so longstanding.  However, he is proven to be merely a man with striking highlights (because of these strategically placed highlights he was named one of People magazine’s most beautiful people).  Chances are some Christians under the age of 20 may not be familiar with this important figure in Christian history.  These beginners would be best introduced to Michael’s 30 year reign over the contemporary Christian music industry through a perusal of his 29 number-one hit songs. 

Many Christians grew up to the striking beats of “Go West Young Man” and “Secret Ambition”.  It would be advantageous to familiarize yourself with these lyrics in order to drop a reference at appropriate times.  Such as “Oh, I don’t know about that young man. In times like these, when evil goes east, I say we should go west.”  “Well you know Sue, a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.”  Most Christians will find your use of Michael W. Smith’s lyrics highly encouraging.

Michael W. Smith 2 by Michael W. Smith

Michael’s motivating testimony is also another helpful device in your witnessing toolbelt.  Michael became a Christian at the age of 13, but began drifting from his faith after moving to Nashville to pursue his music dreams. He says of this experience, “I really started losing touch when I moved to Nashville, around April of ’78. I was smokin’ marijuana, drinking, doing some other drugs; just being crazy, you know?”  Michael realized all of his crazy shenanigans were getting him nowhere and he rededicated* his life to Christ.  You can use this story wisely with your non-Christian friends to show them you can empathize with their “crazy” lifestyles.

To impress your Christian friends even more, you might want to refer to Michael as “Smitty” or reveal that the mysterious W. actually stands for Walker- I mean Whitaker.

 

 

No, this is not US Highway 65 or Route 66, this is the Roman road- an expert Christian witnessing tool. Perhaps we are getting ahead ourselves without first posting a description of witnessing, but we will follow up later. A simple definition that we will go by for now is communicating in some form to a non-Christian, in hopes of converting* them to similar beliefs as yourself. 

Witnessing is a difficult and tiring task and should not be attempted by the novice Christian.  However, a beginner will appreciate the tried and true method within the Roman Road which lends itself nicely to new learners.  If you were intimidated by sharing the entire saga of your Christian faith (called a testimony* in Christianese), and actually having to memorize Scripture* or know something about Jesus, don’t be alarmed! The Roman Road, more formally known as the Roman Road to Salvation, has broken it down into five simple steps that even a Gentile can follow.  Simply put, it is a group of Bible verses from the book of Romans, that allows a Christian to explain the path of salvation*.  You’re on your own however in explaining the term salvation itself.

Don’t be intimidated during your first encounter with a non-Christian.  He’s probably more scared of you, than you are of him.  Remain calm, take a deep breath, and invite your new friend to take a walk down the Roman Road.

  • Step 1: Romans 3:23- We all have sin in our hearts. We all were born with sin.  Action- Admit that you are a sinner
  • Step 2: Romans 6:23a- Sin results in death, a physical and spiritual death. Action- Understand that you deserve death for your sin
  • Step 3: Romans 6:23b- Salvation is a free gift from God to you! You can’t earn this gift, but you must reach out and receive it. Action: Ask God to forgive you and save you.
  • Step 4: Romans 5:8- Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sin. He bought us out of slavery to sin and death.  Action: Simple, Give your life to God.
  • Step 5: Romans 10:13- Anyone who calls to Jesus will be saved. Action: Call out to God in the name of Jesus and ask him to “come into your heart”*

Good for you! You’ve shared the five steps! Your non-Christian friend at this point might appear slightly frightened or be slowly backing away.  A valuable phrase in a situation like this is “Do you hear God knocking on your heart’s door? Just open the door and ask Him to come into your heart.”  If you’re friend still appears unimpressed by your imaginative and original statements, he is obviously in need of the good news*, and you should share this helpful little diagram below:

Follow up with statements such as, “Are you ready to cross over? What is stopping you?”

The Roman Road- clearly a priceless utensil in the toolbelt of Christian witnessing.

This is the most beloved of all Bible verses. If you are expecting to join Christian culture, you are strongly encouraged to memorize this verse immediately.  At any point within a church service or Sunday school if this verse is being quoted, you should quietly move your lips to the words yourself and nod your head in agreement so that others can see you too have the verse memorized.  This will immediately quell any questions regarding your Christian authenticity. 

This verse is also particularly helpful within any theological debate, as it will trump any other Bible verse used.  If you feel threatened or antagonized by a non-Christian during a religious discussion, quote John 3:16 and your combatant will quickly and easily become your comrade for Christ.

John 3:16 is also an excellent way to Christianize your otherwise drab, secular home decor.  This verse is inscribed on most any product you can think of: figurines, posters, bracelets, mugs, T-shirts, bookmarks, cross-stitch patterns, and tombstones. It leaves no excuse for a Christian to leave any part of their life untouched by their Christian faith. 

The highlight of John 3:16 memorization for any Christian is the day of the big game- the day you caImage Previewn promote your Christianity at a major sporting event or concert.  Whether a Cheesehead or a Colt, Christian footballers are united in the stadium under the banner of John 3:16.  When you come across someone with a neon posterboard plastered with “For God so loved the world..” it is best to give them a quick nod, so they can recognize you as a fellow soldier for Christ*.  If you are attempting to make your own John 3:16 sign make sure you are prepared to follow it up with loud and aggressive behavior so that others will be able to take notice of your workmanship.

If you are unable to memorize the verse, but still would like to particpate with other Christians in displaying your faith proudly at a national event, you are taking a risk.  In any event such as this it is important to consider the risk to Christ conversion ratio.  The probability of someone asking you what the verse actually says is minimal, while the probable onlookers who you can witness to is maximal.  However, you also must consider the greater the risk taken, the more reward you will have in heaven. It’s a complicated decision, and one that we will study more in depth when covering the complexities of witnessing.  In this situation, it is almost always best to display your John 3:16 sign even if you do not have the verse memorized.  Most importantly, the crowd will know that even though you’re cheering for the Packers, you’re the biggest fan for Jesus.

Christians love a good Bible story, especially if the main characters are white.  Christians sometimes don’t realize Jesus was born and bred not in the good ol’ U.S. of A, but the Middle East.  However, a bushy-haired, dark complected Savior wouldn’t be quite as appealing as the “guy in the white glowing bathrobe, with the light blue beauty sash and long flowing locks.” (Good, if you know who’s quote this is, you’re already an elightened Christian, or heading straight to hell – depending on who you listen to.)

If you’re a new member of a church teaching children’s Sunday school, and you notice the Bible story characters are all Caucasian- don’t be alarmed.  But also don’t call attention to your astute observation or you will likely be branded as the politically-correct Christian and other members within the church will feel pegged as racists.  It would be best to slowly introduce the children within your Sunday school class to flannelgraph depictions of non-white characters.  Take caution: If this exposure to reality is revealed too quickly, you can expect a destructive outcome, you might even damage a child’s self esteem.  (Take extreme precautions especially when revealing a Moses that does not feature long flowing white hair and beard- this could be highly detrimental to many Christian’s perceptions of their favorite sea-parting hero.)

In most circumstances it would be best to make flattering comments about the beautiful artwork of the Caucasian Jesus displayed in your church’s hallways and classrooms.  Don’t worry, you will probaby cause controversy within the church at some point, but it’s best to start lightly.