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

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.

Christmas is Coming to Ignition

I look at the calendar and I am completely stunned.

How did it get to be December already?

Not that I don’t love this time of year – it just got here SO fast!

Even if I’m late to the show, Ignition is ready to celebrate Christmas in our Sunday gatherings! Our new series “In The Present” starts in just a few days!

What is it about this time of year that causes us to feel a little more generous? We naturally think about helping families in need by providing Christmas presents or a meal, we visit soup kitchens, donate clothes, or drop food off at the local food pantry. Studies show we give more money and clothing to charity in December than any other time.

But why?

Long before Mary and Joseph made it to Bethlehem. Long before there were choirs of angels visiting shepherd or wise men making their way from the East, Christmas began with a single decision made on our behalf. A decision God made to give.

When we begin to understand all God has given to us, we can’t help but bring that tradition that began with His generosity into our present.

December 7th: Bell-Ringers
Bottom Line: God doesn’t just ask for our generosity. He demonstrates His.
This time of year, there are opportunities to be generous on nearly every corner. Enter the Bell-ringers. You know who I’m talking about. They stand in front of the mall, Walmart, and most grocery stores—sometimes dressed as Santa—and ring their bell in hopes that someone will drop some spare change in their bucket to benefit the charity they represent. There’s a part of us that loves the bell-ringers. There is something inside us that feels like part of Christmas is jumping in to help our fellow human. But as much as we love the idea of giving, there is also a part of us that cringes when the subject comes up. Sometimes the whole idea of giving comes with a lot of guilt. We feel guilty when we don’t give, don’t want to give, or don’t have much to give. In his Gospel, John describes God’s choice to be generous to us by sending His son. When we take a closer look at the very first Christmas and God’s gift to us, we find that He doesn’t just ask for our generosity. He demonstrates His.

December 14th: Christmas Lights
Bottom Line: Being generous should be continuous.
The only downside to Christmas is when it’s over. One day, every house is decorated and every street has twinkling lights. Then, all of a sudden, it’s gone. Lights go back in the box. Decorations are packed in the garage, and it’s almost as if the Christmas Spirit was never there.  And around the same time that the tree comes down, it seems our generous Christmas spirit goes back in the box as well. The needs around us haven’t disappeared. It’s just that our motivation, our natural inclination to help others, gets shelved after the holidays. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, according John, Jesus modeled a generosity that was just the opposite and following His example means we take our generosity off the shelf and put it into practice during this month and all of the ones that follow.

Let’s spend some time getting ready for the 25th by deepening our understanding of what the birth of our Savior really means.

Let’s look closely at how Christmas even came to be, and how we should be inspired to respond.

November Series: Silver Lining

Have you ever heard someone say: Every cloud has a silver lining? It means with every storm, with every cloud, there is a something good about it. That’s a nice little saying, but sometimes silver linings are hard to find in real life, aren’t they?

Maybe the hardest place to see a silver lining is your family.

In the best situations, family members can be annoying, but for many of us it goes beyond that to real brokenness and painful memories. Very few families in history have experienced more brokenness than Joseph’s did in the Bible. After his father played favorites and his brothers sold him into slavery, it must have been hard to believe any good would come out of his situation. But through his story, we see that God can use us to change our relationship with even the most difficult family members.

And if we’re willing to look for it, we may just find the silver lining in our family.

Over the next three weeks, we’ll be taking a much closer look at what that means. As always, parents are invited to join us as we unpack this super important discussion. Here’s a more detailed breakdown for each week:

Sunday, November 2: Every Family Has One

Bottom Line: your family may not act great, but you can still respond in a great way.  

Do you ever look at your family and wonder, “How on Earth did I end up with these people?” You’ve seen normal families on TV. Maybe you even know some families who seem normal, but that just doesn’t look like the people who live at your house. This is especially frustrating since you’re kind of stuck when it comes to family. You didn’t choose them. And while you can “unfriend” someone you can’t “unfamily” them. So what are your options when it comes to a family that often feels “less than ideal”? In the Bible, Joseph was faced with the same question. And though he had every reason to walk away from his family forever, what he did instead gives us a clue how we can find the silver lining in our family story, even when circumstances aren’t perfect.

Sunday, November 9: Now & Later

Bottom Line: Learning to deal with your family is as much about your future as it is about your now.

Family isn’t easy. And sometimes it’s really tempting to give up or check out because you know that in a few short years you’ll be out of the house, on your own, and surrounding yourself with people who don’t embarrass you in public. But what if your exit strategy is flawed? What if just surviving your family now doesn’t solve your problems but just brings them into the future with you? What if the things you do and say this week will actually matter years down the road and long after you stop having a curfew? Even after leaving his family’s home, Joseph found himself in a number of situations where he had to live with and listen to people who didn’t deserve his respect. In each relationship, as he practiced honoring God by honoring others, Joseph’s attitude toward authority made all the difference for him and eventually for his entire family.

Sunday, November 16: Climate Change

Bottom Line: You can change the mood in every room you walk into.

Have you ever walked into a room and been able to feel the tension? Or have you ever left a tense or awkward situation and felt yourself instantly relax? The truth is, every room and every situation has a climate—not just a temperature but also a feeling, a mood. But did you know that climate often depends on you? You know exactly how to crank up the awkwardness, the tension, the stress. But you also have the power to turn up the joy, the laughter, and make your house a better place to be. As we conclude the story of Joseph, we uncover two simple steps that forever changed the story of his family. And if we’re brave enough to follow his example, they may change the climate at our home too. 

As you can see, we are in for some amazing discussions this month. God has so much in store – and I can’t wait to watch it unfold!

Parent Symposium Series

Our partnership with you as parents has just gotten a revolutionary boost of parenting potential! We are ridiculously excited to be able to offer three distinct Parent Symposium events this year. Our goal is to provide an environment that allows an authentic exploration of each topic and addresses some of the challenges unique to our place in time from a biblical perspective. We have invited professional Christian counselors to employ their God-given gifts and skills to help us navigate the issues and draw out potential solutions.

Our first Parent Symposium is set for Wednesday, October 29th from 7-9pm. Our topic: The Family Blender.   According to one report, “blended families” is the fastest growing segment of families in the US. Whether there are step-parents and children, half-siblings, a mix of birth and adopted children or some other variation on that theme, these unique families come with unique challenges. During this symposium, we will explore some of those challenges and solutions.

Please sign up to attend this exciting event right here. (Childcare is available upon request, however space is limited.)

These events are not only available to our Seneca Creek families, but to the general parent population in our area – so please feel free to invite co-workers, neighbors, friends, or anyone else you feel might benefit from these opportunities.