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!
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:
Designed for our brand new 6th grade students. Each gender specific group has dedicated leaders, a flexible schedule and loads of interactive challenges.
7th and 8th graders will find themselves challenged to go a little further and a little deeper in their gender specific groups.
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.
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.
“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:
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.
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.
When we enter into a relationship with Jesus, our identity is forever changed.
A new identity is born in place of the old one. This is the “new creation” Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 5. This new identity is one that finds its definition and purpose in Christ.
Jesus had lots to say about our identity in Christ, and for the month of February in ReFuel, we’ll be studying His words. We’re going to take a close look at several snapshots of what our identity in Christ looks like. We will be reminded that Jesus defines greatness differently than the world; we’ll learn that their true purpose is found in remaining in Christ; and we’ll see that Jesus wants to use them to reach the lost.
Here’s a few ways we can help each other begin to grasp what our new identity in Christ means for our lives:
Pray for each other as we walk through this Bible study.
Look for some of the verses that we discuss in the follow-up messages and work through them with your parents, your friends, or your leader.
Be open and honest with each other about our own questions we have about this concept.
Imagine what it would feel like to feel entirely secure, maybe for the first time, in who we are and in who we are becoming as we allow ourselves to be shaped and challenged by Jesus.
So the real question may be: what would it take for us to start seeing ourselves as Jesus sees us?