An Honest Review of the Book: How To Stay A Christian in High School

HB03-lI just finished a book entitled How to Stay Christian in High School by Steven P Gerali a book written to encourage teens that they do not have to give into the pressures from the world. I kind of had mixed emotions about the book. But here is the good and bad of the book:

The Good

The book was a fresh look at teenagers in the Bible and their ability to overcome great obstacles. I never really thought about how many people in the Bible that we call “Men of God” were really teenagers when their testimony of trust in God was tested. This book really got me to think about other characters outside of the book that faced great testing as a young adult.

As a youth pastor I will adapt some things from this book to encourage my youth group. Two specific teens that the author looks at, Daniel and Joseph, were thrust into pagan societies as teenagers but by the grace of God were able to resist the temptations of the world around them. While they were able to be raised in the early part of their lives in “Christian” homes, as teenagers they were completely separated from the godly influences of their family, but were able to find the strength through God to face their difficult situations. These two were a specific encouragement to me because I know that teens so many times feel like it is impossible to live godly with the seemingly overwhelming ungodly influence around them. This isn’t just how a teen going to public school feels, it is the way teenagers in any type of schooling feels. Even though as I spent my entire teenage years either in a Christian school or homeschooled, I still felt overwhelmed at times with the amount of effort it took to keep a right relationship with God. So there are going to be some good lessons I can adapt from this book.

The Bad

There is a reason that I am going to adapt lessons from this book, rather than use this book as written to use as a Sunday School curriculum. I feel like while trying to make the book feel relevant today, that they over killed it, and at times seemed irreverent to the Scriptures. This isn’t to say that they did it on purpose, but it still struck me in a negative way at times.

I also feel like the author had to assume a lot with some of the points he made, or ways he brought a story together. If I did not already have a keen knowledge of the Bible and the characters that the author presented in the book, it could have possibly come across as more than just creative liberties, but could have made me think that it must really be what the Bible says.

Conclusion

Overall if I were to give this book a rating it would be a 2.5 out of 5 stars. Not a book that I would scream from the rooftops for people to read, but a good one to read like you eat a fish, eating the good parts and spitting out the bones. Looking forward to using some of the thoughts from this book, to teach and preach to my teens.

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Pieces from the Pickup Lines #6

I recently picked up a book called How to Stay Christian in High School by Steven P Gerali a book written to encourage teens that they do not have to give into the pressures from the world. He takes several “Teen” Bible characters to give examples of how they can stand for Christ. Here is our “Pieces from the Pickup Line”  from my reading on September 11, 2013.

Pieces from the Pickup Line #5

I recently picked up a book called How to Stay Christian in High School by Steven P Gerali a book written to encourage teens that they do not have to give into the pressures from the world. He takes several “Teen” Bible characters to give examples of how they can stand for Christ. Here is our “Pieces from the Pickup Line”  from my reading today on September 10, 2013.

Book Fair Volunteer

This past week I had my first opportunity to volunteer to do something at my son’s school. They were in need of parents to volunteer to help with the book fair they would be holding in the Library of the school, so as I feel it was my responsibility to help I volunteered  for a few hours on Monday. I had hesitated to volunteer for a little bit, with having a new baby in the house, trying to figure out a new sleeping schedule, and needing to complete jobs that were already behind, it was easy to make excuses not to help. I began by rationalizing that there would be plenty of children who’s parents had volunteered to help and that they really wouldn’t need me, but since I had already said I would be there I needed to keep my commitment.

When we arrived at school I walked Aric into the school building, checked in, and headed to the library. I expected to find a library full of parents jumping in to help, but there were only 2 other parents ready to help. I stayed for the time that I had volunteered and asked if they would need my help again the next day. The librarian told me she would love to have my help anytime I wanted to be there as there weren’t very many who had jumped on the opportunity to help.

Tuesday was “Book and Breakfast” day, a day that they offer to let you come eat breakfast with your child and check out the book fair together. I arrived a little early and thought that there would be a bunch of parents excited about eating breakfast with their Pre-K – 2nd Grade students (approx. 260 students). But when I arrived there were only a handful of parents there to eat with their children, a few more arrived after Aric and I had ate our doughnuts. Once back in the Library there weren’t but maybe 8 parents who came through with their child to pick out books.

Before I left for the day the Librarian was telling some of the teachers how thankful she was that she had some new parents coming in to volunteer for helping as all the parents who had helped in times passed no longer had children in the school and had moved on with their children.

Three quick things I learned from being a “Book Fair Volunteer”:

1) Schools really do like parents to volunteer

2) Not many parents will take the time to volunteer

I do understand that not all parents are able to because of their jobs

3) Not many parents took advantage of spending quality time to get to know more about their child’s school.

It isn’t that I expected every child to have a parent there to eat breakfast with their child. I would say at least 3/4 of the students ride the bus, but still to only have 8-10 parents show up to have breakfast with their children just baffles my mind. Every morning when I go to drop off Aric at school there are at least another 16 cars there, and that is only the parents who get their early. As I have stressed before, I believe in order for a child to succeed in ANY school, parents need to be involved as much as possible, but it is obvious that many parents do not take the time to do so.

An Honest Review of the Book: Christian Teachers in Public Schools

9780834128644_p0_v1_s260x420Just this week I finished the book: Christian Teachers in Public Schools: 13 Essentials for the Classroom. While the focus of this book is for teachers, as a parent of a public school child, I appreciated the insight into what challenges a Christian Public School teacher faces and what opportunities there are to shine for Christ.

The author was very honest with the struggles that she faces as a teacher and finding way to witness for Christ. She doesn’t try to make you believe that being a Christian in a Public School is easy, but make you realize it isn’t as impossible as some people make it out to be. The author included a lot of personal material in there: letters from students, writing prompts from students, personally stories, and lessons learned from the classroom.

So just to highlight what I got from the book, here are some things that really stuck out to me.

1) Materials from students

If the author had tried to make it seem like an easy task to be a Christian teaching in the Public School then she would have included all the heart touching perfect stories that come from some of her students. Instead she wanted you to see the reality of why there needs to be Christians both teaching and learning in the public school by including letters and paper from some of her students. Some of the papers were written by students who came from homes filled with drug and violence and the influence that a Christian teacher had on their lives. One story that stuck out in my mind was about a student who had no desire to do any work whatsoever and what she was able to do to convince him to actually get engaged in doing his school work.

2) Personal stories and stuggles

While not everyone will always be interested in knowing someones personal stories or struggles, I believe the author did a good job connecting with the reader with her personal tidbits. At one point she gave a personal story about how she was ready to just give up and quit at one particular school, but God sent a student into her class who really didn’t even belong in her class to answer a writing prompt “The worst thing a teacher could do”. A lot of students gave answers like these: Give homework on the weekend, make us do school work, give to many assignments, ECT. But when this student raised his hand he said, “The worst thing a teacher could do is quit.” The author acknowledged that that one boys answer completely changed her attitude and she decided she could not quit.

3) Little short devotions in every chapter

A unique aspect of this book was the author included a little devotional from a fellow teacher at the end of each chapter that helped re-enforce the purpose of the chapter. Sometimes the devotions really hit home for me, making those chapters stand out above others in my mind.

This book was a blessing to me, I was actually kind of sad to see it end as I am sure there are probably more than 13 life lessons that she has learned from teaching, but the 13 essentials she gave were excellent and very insightful to the ministry of being a Christian Public School Teacher. No matter if you are a parent of public school children, a teacher, or even a substitute (like myself), this book would be a great read for you.