New Series: Road Trip

©2016 The reThink Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

We’re Teaching This

Road trips are awesome. Whether you’re heading to the mountains with your family or driving to the beach with your friends, the idea of packing up, grabbing your favorite snacks, planning the perfect playlist, and hitting the road just sounds like an adventure. And it is! Maybe that’s because new places are always exciting, or maybe it’s just that, more than anywhere else, the unexpected seems to happen on the road. Flat tires. Detours. Surprisingly great lunch stops. Disappointingly awful gas stations. The unexpected is just part of the trip. Life works a lot like that, too. We start with a plan in mind, but things happen along the way that change our plans, change our minds, or even change our relationships. That’s when we have to decide to stick to the plan or change course. This was especially true for the apostle Paul. Long before GPS or interstates, Paul set out on a series of road trips, and just like us, he experienced some surprising, even life-changing moments on the road. As we take a look at some key turning points on Paul’s road trips, we discover that maybe the best thing that can happen on our journey is a change of direction.


Think About This

Kara Powell

“I just wish my parents would realize I’m not who I was in middle school. Their picture of me never changes—even though I’ve changed.”

Without knowing it, this 17 year-old’s complaint about her parents’ inability to appreciate her growth triggered an internal alarm in me. Since our kids—now ages 16, 14, and 10—have been infants, my husband and I have seen their unique personalities emerge.

One of our kids almost never complains—even when they should exert themselves more. Another one…well, let’s just say that no one has ever accused her of not complaining enough. One of our kids has been an introvert since she was a toddler. She has two good friends and that’s all she needs. Our other daughter is an off-the-chart extrovert. She loses count of her friends. Literally.

It’s good that I know my kids’ tendencies. It’s bad when I become so fixated on those tendencies that I don’t see how they are changing. In this series, your students are going to realize change is possible. More than that, change is inevitable as we encounter Jesus.

Our hero in these three lessons, the Apostle Paul, realized this firsthand. After Jesus got his attention, he changed from being one of the greatest persecutors of Christians to being one of the greatest builders of the church. Paul let Jesus change him.

As your students similarly let Jesus change them, they might start acting a little differently.

All of a sudden, your son is a bit less selfish and empties the dishwasher without being asked. Or your step-daughter chooses on her own to put down her phone in the car so the two of you can talk.

We hope you know your kids and how God has uniquely molded them. But we also hope you know that God’s love and grace continues to shape them into new creations with new personalities, new victories, and new struggles.

Parenting. It’s never boring.

Get connected to a wider community of parents at TheParentCue.org.


Try This

So how can we pay attention to—and support—the ways our kids are changing?

  1. Make a list of ways your son or daughter is different now than they were a year or two ago. How do you feel about those changes? Which do you applaud? Which make you anxious?
  2. Talk to your child about (some or all of) your list, making sure you talk at least three times more about the changes you applaud than those that make you anxious. And in fact, start with the good stuff. We are all more open to critique if we have first felt affirmed and understood.
  3. Ask your child two questions about what you’ve shared: What do you disagree with? And, what makes sense or feels right to you? In my experience with my own two teenagers, they are far more likely to agree with certain observations I’ve made if they first have a chance to express what they disagree with.
  4. Share with your child an area of your life that you hope can change. Invite your child to do the same.
  5. Pray that God will make that change a reality, just as He did so powerfully with Paul two thousand years ago.
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New Series: VIVID

As the parent of a student, you know the disconnect that often occurs between what teenagers say they believe and the way they live throughout their lives. Adolescents, like all Christ-followers, fight the constant temptation of falling into the trap of saying one thing while doing another. The Book of James clearly addresses this issue.

James puts forth a simple idea: our actions should match our beliefs. This is what it means to live a vivid faith through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In light of this, we are really excited to be launching a new series this week in ignition.  We’ll be digging into the book of James rooted in a study from youthministry360 entitled Vivid: A 6-lesson Study on the Book of James. This study will challenge students to evaluate their faith and their actions, to identify where the two don’t match up, and to make the necessary changes to live a life of a vivid faith. During the next six weeks your child will learn about:

  • the struggle with sin that lives in every Christ-follower
  • the danger of showing favoritism to those who are easy to like
  • the importance of spiritual fruit in our lives
  • the power of words
  • the futility of trying to love the world and God
  • the importance of submitting to God’s leadership

You’ll be receiving follow-up reminders from me as we teach these topics. We want to equip you with overviews of what we talked about as well as some follow-up suggestions you and your student might use to continue this important conversation.

We want to be known as a student ministry who leads students to live a vivid faith, standing as a powerful witness to a watching world.

Our students have immeasurable influence and present-day potential. Let’s unleash them as brilliant lights into this dark and hurting world!

This is life or death

No really.

Fuel is required to survive. And as life comes at each of us 1,357 mph, we know our fuel supply quickly evaporates. We need more.

We must ReFuel. Or risk dying on the road.

And, at Ignition, we REALLY believe that middle school small group gatherings are absolutely life giving and death defeating.

Knowing Jesus personally and forming spiritual friendships allows each of us to be changed. Our small groups create an environment of acceptance, loving honesty and biblical truth. We focus on really diving into God’s word and learning how to explore and study on our own, believing that this prepares us for a long, healthy and authentic spiritual journey.

Our leadership team is rolling out an incredible curriculum from YouthMinistry360 called The Thread.

The Thread will completely change how your student sees the bible in two very specific ways.

First, your student will learn the big-picture story of Scripture. So many of us simply don’t have a grasp of the narrative of the Bible. Key characters. Key events. Few of us understand how these elements fit into the story of God and His people. The Thread aims to change this.
Second, your student will learn what the Gospel is, and how it literally courses through the narrative of the Bible. Not only will your student learn the story of the Bible, but they will see that it is a story of unfailing love, as God seeks from the beginning of Creation to draw humankind to Him through the grace of the Gospel.

In addition, this year, we will have three very specific types of groups:

Starting Point

Designed for our brand new 6th grade students. Each gender specific group has dedicated leaders, a flexible schedule and loads of interactive challenges.

Foundations

7th and 8th graders will find themselves challenged to go a little further and a little deeper in their gender specific groups.

Growth

This co-ed group is limited in size and is available by sign-up only. The curriculum is intensified; there will be homework and a devotional. Don’t worry – this isn’t AP Calculus. This group is designed to help students take personal responsibility for their spiritual health and maturity.

So, please be sure to sign up your student here and be sure to indicate whether or not they would like to consider the Growth group.

The Making of a King

Hey Parents! This week we launch an exciting new series in ignition: The Making of a King.

Every good story has a hero. Think about it. Superman. Luke Skywalker. Katniss Everdeen. They aren’t just random characters. They’re larger than life. Maybe they’re not perfect, but they’re exciting and they’re brave. And that’s what keeps us interested. That’s why we cheer for them.

Believe it or not, the Bible is full of heroes like that. They don’t have capes and light sabers, but they are heroes who fought giants, built arks, became spies, defeated armies, and saved the day over and over. One of the most famous ones is named David—or maybe you know him as King David. Like many others, David’s life was exciting, epic even. And at first glance it can feel like we have zero common with him. Even on our most exciting days our lives don’t exactly feel heroic. But as we take a closer look at the journey of this shepherd boy turned king, we see it wasn’t always a royal fairytale. In fact, as we discover the twists and turns of his road to the throne, his life begins to look more like ours than we ever imagined.

Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t wait to grow up? There were probably a lot of reasons, but many of them boiled down to one idea: When I grown up, I’ll be in charge. No one can tell me what to do. It was a nice idea, but that’s not exactly our adult reality, is it? In fact, sometimes feels like growing up has left us answering to more people, not less. And what’s worse is when not all these authority figures are exactly ideal for the job. Maybe you’ve experienced…

  • The police officer who is out of line.
  • The governor you totally disagree with.
  • The boss who seems clueless.
  • The homeowners’ association president/tyrant.
  • The in-laws who think they’re in charge.

Nothing is more frustrating. And in moments like that it can be tempting to employ our go-to response. Maybe you tend to lash out, argue, or respond with harsh sarcasm. Or maybe for you it’s more tempting to ignore them or sneak around their rules. Either way, when it comes to a clash with authority, there is often more on the line than we realize. Overwhelmingly, research suggests that our teenagers’ behavior is more influenced by what they see us do than what they hear us say is best.

In his article, I Spy Daddy Giving Someone The Finger: Your kids will imitate you. Use it as a force for good, Dr. Allen Kazdin, former president of the American Psychological Association, says, “Brain research has demonstrated that there are special cells called mirror neurons. When we watch someone do something, our mirror neurons become active in the brain as if we ourselves were engaging in the same behavior we are observing.”

In other words, when watching our behavior, our students’ brains react and grow new connections that tell them to do the same.

That’s why, even with the most difficult and undeserving authority figures, it may still serve us well to treat them with respect. In doing so, our students’ brains will form connections that remind them to do the same.

This week, pay attention to your interactions with your boss, coworkers, government workers, and even your own parents or in-laws. Now, imagine what you would say if you overheard your teenager responding to people in charge the same way you do. Because, if the research is true, there’s a good chance that one day they will.

There will always be people in charge who frustrate us. That’s true for our students as well. In fact, sometimes we are the ones who frustrate them. So, modeling respect for authority is a huge deal. But that doesn’t mean we have to be stoic. This week try mentioning to your student one situation where you are frustrated by authority and how you’re dealing with it. Say something like…

Sometimes it’s hard not to give my boss piece of my mind. He can be really offensive, but I won’t let his rude tone force me to act the same way.

I really disagree with the politicians who are in charge right now. Some of their policies make no sense to me. I’ll respect their office, but I’ll vote differently next time.

It’s really hard for me to be nice to grandma when she acts like she’s in charge. I know I’m grown and I don’t have to listen to her, but I’m still doing my best to treat her well because she is my mother.

When we acknowledge our own struggles, it gives us credibility with our students.

They see that we are still fighting for relationships even when it isn’t easy. And that may just be what gives them the courage to do the same.

©2015 The reThink Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Jesus and Tough Times: Devotional 3

Do you have a tendency to blame God when things don’t turn out the way you want?

Do you trust that He will be with you and help you get through this time? Why or why not?

Do you wish He would just change the situation, when sometimes nothing seems to change?

Take a moment, open your bible, connect with God.

Read Psalm 23.

And re-read it.

Today take some time to sit with God and be honest about whether or not you really believe having faith in Him will get you through those hard times.

Jesus and Tough Times: Devotional 3

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand . . . Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD; may your love and your truth always protect me. For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.” Psalm 40:1-2, 11-12

Have you ever felt like the guy (King David, FYI) who wrote the psalm above?

Sometimes our troubles are so many we can’t even count them. We can’t even see because it seems like everything is going horrible wrong. Our courage to face a new day is spent. It’s during these times we beg God to be with us. All we can do is ask Him to show us His love and steady our feet on the road as we go forward. In short, sometimes all we have is to cling to Him that He will be with us no matter what.

Do you believe (like King David) that God will be at your side to get you through the tough times? Why or why not?

Read the rest of Psalm 40.

What are you doing to hold onto God during your bad times?

Just for fun... U2 (one of my FAV bands of all time) has put this Psalm to music. Check out one of their original performances at the amazing Red Rocks venue:

Jesus and Tough Times: Devotional 1

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Hebrews 5:7

Have you ever cried yourself to sleep? If not have you ever been so angry you wanted to punch something, or screamed into a pillow in your room? Think for a moment, “When things are going wrong, what do you do?” Do you scream, hit someone, or take it out on a friend or sibling? You know, Jesus Himself expressed a lot of emotion when HE experienced a tough time.

Look again at Matthew 26: 36-46.

Stop and think for a moment about all that was going on with Jesus at this moment. He was about to be arrested, beat up, spit at, bullied, teased, whipped, and nailed to a cross. After all of that He was going to die a painful death being treated like a criminal when He had done nothing wrong. If you knew all of this was about to happen, how would you feel?No, stop for a moment, close your eyes and think about how you would feel.

It’s fair that Jesus really didn’t want it to happen and that He needed to talk to God about it.

Can you relate when things are going bad for you? Do you want God to “fix” it? At the very least to you want things to change? Are you honest with God during those times about how you are feeling? Why or why not?

Something to think about . . .

  • Do you tell God on a regular basis how you are feeling about life? Why or why not? Have you ever thought about how He wants to hear from us, and all that we are thinking and feeling?
  • Jesus showed us that it’s alright to tell God anything we are thinking or feeling. God also showed us that He helped Jesus deal through His feelings. Do you believe God can help you through the tough times better when you are honest with Him? Why or why not?