First Things First

24 03 2013

Title Slide

Series Overview

By the time students reach middle school and high school, they have probably learned that there are only just so many hours in the day. There are limits to how many hobbies you can pursue. There is a finite number of friends you can talk to for hours every night. So, for the next two weeks, we are going to apply that same life lesson to our faith. We only have so much time, energy, and interest, so what are the most important things in life? What should we include in our day-to-day life and what can fall to the side? The only way we are going to give up sleep, fun with our friends, or time playing Xbox in order to spend time with God is if we put “First Things First.”

Week 1 (March 24, 2013)

Yes, by middle school and high school, they’ve learned that we have to prioritize even simple decisions, such as “What must I put in by book bag today?” or “Should I get up now for school or sleep 10 more minutes and skip the shower?” These are simple lessons in prioritizing, but they carry major life lessons that affect their walk with God. There are simple activities or practices that strengthen our faith. The challenge for every believer is that, to find time and energy for these exercises, we must sacrifice other activities. Every believer wants to pray more, read their Bible more, and serve more. However, only the mature believer is prepared to forfeit time elsewhere in order to make time for God.

Talk to your student about a time when you gave up something good to gain something better. Ask your student how they can prioritize their relationship with God this week.

Week 2 (March 31, 2013)

We have talked about the idea that sometimes we need to give up something good to gain something better. Now we want our students to know that Jesus did the exact same thing when he went to the cross.  Jesus was willing to give up his whole life in order to gain something of greater value – YOU! Through his work on the cross Jesus showed just how valuable you are and how valuable a relationship with God really is. We want every student to know that they have tremendous value in the eyes of God, and that they are loved so much that Jesus was willing to give up his life. This Easter we want every student to know just how valuable they really are.

Talk to your student about the importance of Easter. Ask your student how they feel when they hear that Jesus gave up his life for them.


Illuminate: Parent Cue

21 03 2012

Parents, as we move closer to Easter we want to create conversation points for you and your student. Here is some information about what we are doing in Transit, and how you can create conversations with your student.

1. Be a Student of What They are Learning

We’ve read the story year after year. We know that Jesus was crucified, placed in a tomb and resurrected on the third day. And this is important! But when we take a look at the bigger picture of Scripture we see themes and images that come up again and again to shed even more light on the significance of the Easter account. Just like reading a good book or watching a gripping movie, we understand that the author is trying to turn our attention to something greater than the story itself. Over the course of this series, we look at a few key themes in Scripture—Bread, Water and Blood—to help weave together the greater story of God’s love for us. To take the power of the Easter story and allow it to shine in those places where we need provision, security and redemption.

2. Be a Student of Your Student

Over the course of this series, we have talked about the idea of themes; those things that come up again and again, whether in a good book or movie or even just in our day-to-day lives. And as we’ve learned, certain words or themes within particular stories in the Bible can trigger something that might remind us of another story, showing us how God’s Big Story connects, especially as it relates to the Easter story. But these themes occur in our everyday lives as well.

We as parents experience things that trigger us to know when our teens are happy or excited about something—and when they are anything but! Our students notice our triggers as well. Your student probably knows that when you pick them up from school late, slam the door when you come home from work or forget to check on them after their set curfew, that something is up.

And these triggers, these cues, are definitely something to look for in our teenagers. Especially for those middle school and early high school students who are still in a world of “egocentric abstraction,” which means that they may be trying on multiple personalities to figure out just who they are. And these triggers give us a clue into how these different sides of our students come together as they try to figure out who they are. And while this may be scary for us and seem like anything but normal, it is really just a natural part of their process of defining who they are—of shaping their identity. But does this mean that we just give them complete space to figure it out on their own during these very complicated years? No, it means we listen. And sometimes, the best way to listen to a teenager—no matter what age—is as much about hearing what they say as it is about hearing what they don’t. So, we want to provide an opportunity for you to sit down with your student and talk about some of these triggers, first allowing them to give you a glimpse into the things that clue them into your mood and next, having a dialogue about the things they do that tell you about how they are feeling.

3. Action Point

As you and your student sit down, remember to keep this conversation light. This isn’t a time to start probing into your student’s life to look for deep, dark secrets. Rather, it’s a chance to connect in a mutual way and start a conversation about the way that we often communicate how we feel without saying a word. It’s a chance to create empathy, both from you to your student and from your student back to you. So, as you answer the questions below, allow your student space to be honest and practice listening to what they are saying with their words, as you both figure out what you say from day-to-day without using words at all.

Questions from Parent to Student: 

  • What are some things I do that tell you that I’m in the following mood: Rested, Content, Stressed Out, Enthusiastic and Agitated?
  • What do you usually do when you sense that I am stressed out or agitated? How about when you sense that I am rested and content?
  • What is a word or a phrase that we can come up with for you to say to me when you are picking up on one of my negative triggers that worries you or makes you upset and you want to be able to talk about it?

Questions from Student to Parent:

  • What are some things I do that make you think I am sad, overwhelmed or upset? (For the Student to Answer: Are the triggers that your parent or guardian noticed pretty accurate? Do you feel like they are picking up on what you do when you are sad or upset?)
  • How do you know when I am happy and everything is going well?
  • What is a word or phrase that we can come up with for you to say to me when you are picking up one of my negative triggers and want to be able to talk about it?

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18 03 2012

Series Overview

We read the story of the crucifixion of Jesus every year.  Many of us can probably tell the story without even having to look it up.  This is a great thing. However, we often forget that the story of Easter is part of a much larger story.  Over the next three weeks, we are going to look at a some key themes found in the Easter story, and throughout the Scriptures. We want to show how the themes of bread, water, and blood are woven throughout all of Scripture so that their use in the Easter story brings the story a greater significance.  The Easter story should not just be limited to a few weeks in early Spring, but a continual reminder of our need for God’s provision, presence, and redemption.

Session 1 (March 18, 2012)

Bread is a popular topic in church. Whether it is during communion or even the Lord’s Prayer, bread is mentioned. The question we often fail to ask is why. What is the deal with bread?  Why does it keep showing up in the Bible?  To ancient Israel, bread was a sign of the provision of God as God literally provided their food in the desert.  As Jesus preached he used bread to remind his audience of God’s provision, and their need to be dependent on God both physically and spiritually. But now, bread is a representation of Jesus himself.  Jesus is our provider, and all we need to sustain life. Talk to your student about a time in your life where you needed the provision of God. Ask your student how they can be more dependent on God.

Session 2 (March 25, 2012)

Life can be overwhelming at times. There are some times when it is everything that we can do to just keep our head above water.  This is not a unique situation to us. Many people found in the Scriptures faced similar problems, even Jesus as he endured the cross.  While these situations are difficult, God does not want us to endure them alone. He is present with us. The Easter story illustrates this very principle as Jesus triumphs over death so that we can find hope in the presence of God.  Life can get difficult, but we are never alone. Talk to your student about when you have felt the presence of God in a difficult circumstance, and ask them if they have ever experience God’s presence in their life.

Session 3 (April 1, 2012)

If you are like me then the sight of blood can make you a little queasy.  While blood may be prevalent on television, in movies, or even video games, it is one of the most important themes in the Bible, particular in the Easter story. As Christians we often talk about “the blood,” but why is it so important and what does it represent? As we conclude our study of the story of Easter we want our students to know why the symbol of blood is so important for the Church, and to understand that blood is our symbol of a limitless love coming from a limitless God. Talk to your student about the death of Christ, and why Christ’s blood allows us to have access to God. Ask your student why the death of Christ is important to them.