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!

Dating (**gasp**) in Middle School? NEW SERIES starts April 26

Relationships are a joy. But they can also be painful, devastating, all consuming and overwhelming. As parents, we know this all too well and some of us try to do everything we can to protect our children from the possible pain of breakups, emotional rollercoasters and those girls or guys we are certain are nothing but trouble. In fact, most of us joke that there’s no way our little girl/boy will date until they hit 30!

But the truth is, they will date eventually and this can be a good thing.

What isn’t a good thing is when our kids allow any one relationship to define who they are so much that when the relationship dissolves, they are left broken and feeling like they have lost a sense of who they are.

What isn’t a good thing is when our kids allow any one relationship to define who they are so much that when the relationship dissolves, they are left broken and feeling like they have lost a sense of who they are. Even worse is when they feel like a failure because of their relational mistakes. And sometimes we as parents do more to make them feel like their mistakes are insurmountable than we do to encourage them with forgiveness.

Let’s be honest. There are more than a few areas in life where a crash course would be helpful.

Relationships with the opposite sex is certainly one of those areas. For a lot of students, “dating” is something they just fall into—they think they are old enough to do it, so they do. And, whether we like it or not, whether we have prohibitions and age restrictions in place or not, often our kids talk about “dating” someone when all it amounts to is texting, saying hi in the halls, or sitting together at lunch.

Instead of pretending dating just doesn’t happen in Middle School, let’s be frank and make church a safe and appropriate place to talk about this stuff.

The Bible has a LOT to say and it’s important that we unpack this in a healthy way.

Just because they are in the thick of the most hormonal and relationally charged stage of life, doesn’t mean they have a CLUE about how to “date” well.

Just because they are in the thick of the most hormonal and relationally charged stage of life, doesn’t mean they have a CLUE about how to “date” well.They need to learn the basics. They need to understand the fundamentals. They need a crash course on relationships with the opposite sex (particularly when they “like like” someone), and we want to give it to them.

So the question we want to be answering these next couple of weeks is, if we could pick the top three things we want students to know as they prepare for this season of life where “dating”, or getting ready to date, plays such a huge role, what would those three things be?

  • What do we look for?
  • How do we know when it is time to end it—and then how do we go about ending it?
  • What do we do when we find ourselves with single status? (which, by the way, is EVERYONE’S status at 12 years old – just sayin’)

These are the basics. Our way of beginning at square one. And the hope is, with the right start, their time spent “dating” will set the course for their future relationships in the right direction.

Stay tuned as we keep more information coming your way each week on the above topics. Feel free to ask questions and even come on downstairs on a Sunday morning!

Jesus and Tough Times: Devotional 2

Are you starting to believe that God cares about your feelings?

Are you starting to be more honest with God about your feelings? Why or why not?

Take some time today and really contemplate why being with honest with God is either easy or hard for you. Is it that you don’t really trust Him? If this is true how can you get to know Him better so you do trust Him?

Today meditate on why God would love you so much He want to hear everything.

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?

March ReFuel Series: Jesus in Tough Times

We are starting a new series tomorrow night called, “Jesus and the Tough Times.” We are spending our time really talking about where the Lord is when things go wrong. It was a great discussion about some hard things.

This week, the lesson is entitled “The God Who Listens” and it focuses on understanding that when we experience tough times, we can and should express their emotions to God in real, honest ways.

We will look at the following Scripture passages:
  • Matthew 26:36-46
  • Hebrews 5:7

This is the recounting of how Jesus talked to God in the Garden right before He was arrested. It’s a powerful example of how Jesus called, cried and was open with the Father about how He was feeling.

Next Steps . . .

Here are some of the questions you may want to be processing for the rest of the week..

  • Do you feel like that it is easy or hard for you to be honest with God about what you’re feeling?
  • Do you feel like hearing more about the way Jesus was honest with God might be helpful? Why or why not?
  • What are you going to do in trying to be more honest with God about the way you are feeling about life?
By asking questions and looking more closely at the things that we are maybe a little afraid of – or that make us a little uncomfortable, we can begin to develop a faith that lasts for our entire lifetime and a relationship with Jesus that is unshakable.

Jesus and Identity: Week 2, Devotional 3

Your challenge today is to simply meditate on this thought:

What evidence do you see in your life that you are remaining in Jesus?

After all, Jesus said if we remain in Him, we bear much fruit. The idea of bearing fruit is a way of saying, “our lives will show a lot of evidence that we’re staying totally dialed in to God.”

So, look at your life. What evidence is there that Jesus is working in and through you? Think about two or three specific ways. Now, here’s the hard question: if there is not a lot of fruit in your life, don’t you have to ask if you’re truly remaining close to Christ?

Spend some time in prayer today talking with God about this concept. Listen to Him as He points out any aspects of your life where you are distant from Him.

Jesus and Identity: Week 2, Devotional 2

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”      John 15:1-2

If a plant could talk, what do you think it would say about being pruned? (You know what pruning is, right? It’s trimming branches and leaves so that a shrub or plant can either take a desired shape, or so that it might grow more effectively.) So, what do you think?

What would a plant say about being pruned?

If we had to guess, you can bet the plants didn’t like it all that much.

Getting part of you cut off is probably a bummer. But here’s the deal: Chances are, the plants would recognize that pruning is good for them. It allows them to grow healthier. It prevents disease. It encourages new growth. And so while pruning means that some of the plant is cut off, new, healthy growth takes its place.

Can you see the parallel in your life?

Jesus says that God prunes you, just like a gardener prunes a shrub. God knows the things in your life that keep you from following Him wholeheartedly. And so God, being a loving gardener, removes those aspects of your life to help you follow Him more.

Pruning isn’t fun. But we have to know that God prunes us because He loves us. Whatever it is He cuts away, we can trust that it was keeping us from being fully devoted to Him.