Lost In My Thoughts

5 05 2013

Title Slide

Series Overview

May is a bittersweet time of year, as we get excited to see new 6th graders join us and all our students grow up a grade, but it’s also time that some of our students are graduating and moving on to college.  Wow!  After several years with us, we’ve covered topics ranging from doubts to dinosaurs, from worship to worries, and even parents to pornography.  However, we also know there are plenty of topics that slip through the cracks or questions that have been addressed, yet keep popping up in group.  So, for the next 3 weeks, we’ll look at the most common questions that have been brought up time and time again in our groups. Everyone has questions, and we want to do our best to help our students find some answers to some of their most common questions about their faith.

Week 1 (May 5, 2013)

We know it’s a little weird.  It also feels a bit dark and macabre to think about too much, but we can’t help but wonder: “What is heaven like?  What will life be like after I die?”  Movies, songs, and TV shows have pumped our brains full of images of what eternity may be like, but can we trust those clichéd images to be accurate?  So, this week in Transit, we’re going to talk about it.  We’re going to talk about what heaven is going to be like, what eternity has in store for us, and what life looks like after this life.

Talk to your student about what you think heaven is like. Ask your student how they picture heaven.

Week 2 (May 12, 2013)

“Why do bad things happen?” is the most common question students ask. We spend a few Sundays a year tackling this issue in some form or fashion.  There is a developmental switch triggered at this age that makes this question central to their faith. Moreover, as each student may face a new type of personal crisis for the first time, the question needs to be reinforced and reapplied. So, this week, we are going to talk about how God sustains us though hard times. He is always with us and our job is to simply remember he is here and trust him. It sounds easy, but it is a lesson they will learn and relearn the rest of their lives.

Talk to your student about a time you had to depend on God through difficult circumstances. Ask your student why it can be hard to depend on God during these times.

Week 3 (May 19, 2013)

By the time students have made it to middle school and high school, they have probably noticed that people don’t always do what they should.  Sooner or later, each student will notice a celebrity, family member, or friend do something that doesn’t live up to the standard the student expected.  When it comes to their faith and how they feel about Christianity, this can cause a unique problem.  Often students find themselves unsure of what exactly a Christian looks like.  What is a Christian, anyway?  How are Christians different from everyone else? So, this week in large group and small group, we are going to remind our students that a Christian is simply someone who believes in Christ.  However, the challenge we find in John for how we should live as Christians is a bit more complicated to live out.

Talk to your student about what your think it means to be a Christian. Ask your student what they think being a Christian means.





The Battle Within

7 04 2013

TBW MainSeries Overview

Each one of us faces a battle within, a battle that may go unseen by those around, but inside there is major brawl. It’s a battle with temptation. And depending on the temptation and its hold on your life, it may be a battle that seems impossible to win. In this series, Andy Stanley takes a look at the temptations Jesus faced in the desert, and identifies the driving forces behind the temptations we all face every day. Because once you realize what the pull is behind the temptation, you can find the confidence to follow Jesus’ example and respond as He did.

Week One: The Main Event (April 7, 2013)

Bottom Line: In every single temptation you face, there is always more at risk than you think.

In the sport of boxing, the main event is the big fight, the moment where everything is on the line. But for most of us, we are oblivious to the truth that in every temptation we face, there’s a lot at stake as well. When face to face with temptation, the choice feels insignificant sometimes. There are times when it feels like no one will notice, or it’s not really a big deal. But in looking at the temptations Jesus faced, we realize just how much is at stake—not only in His life, with the temptations that were before Him—but in our lives as well, with the ones we face every day.

Talk to your student about an time in your life where a temptation you faced risked more than you initially thought. Ask your student how we can deal with temptation.

Week Two: In This Corner (April 14, 2013)

Bottom Line: Every time you’re tempted, your confidence in God is at stake, not just your self-control.

When facing temptation, it seems like it’s always about the choice, the decision, the temptation. But it’s always about more than that. It’s not just your reputation or your innocence that’s at stake—it’s your confidence in God. The lure of temptation makes us question whether we can really trust God to come through for us, to be there for us, to provide for us. We begin to think He’s not in our corner, that He’s not looking out for us. But what if we began to see Him there? What if we realized that whatever is luring us away really has nothing to do with what we think it’s about, and there’s a deeper issue, a trust issue, at work? It might completely weaken the pull of that temptation, and it might help us get to the heart of what is really going on.

Talk to your student about how you rely on God when facing temptation. Ask your student how temptation can cause us to doubt God.

Week Three: Fixing the Fight (April 21, 2013)

Bottom Line: We are tempted to believe we know how God works and how we think we can work Him.

In the boxing world, sometimes things aren’t always what they seem. Sometimes the winner is known before anyone walks into the ring. Sometimes the outcome is pre-determined by a person who has manipulated things behind the scene. Sometimes a fighter takes a dive. Sometimes a boxer throws the fight. And if each one of us were completely honest, sometimes we try to work things as well in our fight with temptation. And who or what we are manipulating isn’t the temptation, it’s God.

Talk to your student about a time where temptation might have changed your view of God. Ask your student how temptation can change our view of God.

Week Four: Hook and Jab (April 28, 2013)

Bottom Line: We are tempted to pursue the right thing the wrong way.

Temptation doesn’t always have to be about doing something bad. In fact, sometimes it’s not the end result that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but how we plan to get there. It’s the shortcut, the path, the compromise. And in this fight, this struggle with temptation, sometimes the punches we throw and the ones thrown at us are simply about pursuing the right things but in the wrong way.

Talk to your student about a time when you did the right thing the wrong way. Ask your student why it is still wrong when we do something right the wrong way.





Dirty Words

20 01 2013

Dirty Words Slide

Series Overview

For the next few weeks, we are going to tackle an area of life where we all struggle: our words. We all know that sick feeling in the stomach – you know, when you’ve crossed the line and hurt someone’s feelings with an off-hand remark. Putting a foot in your mouth is an all-too-familiar feeling. And everyone has had a day ruined because someone else just wanted to get a laugh at someone else’s expense. Why is this such a common trap that we all fall in?  Why can’t we avoid these situations? For the next 4 weeks in Transit, we will equip our students to gain a little control over their tongues. It is going to take a new level of sensitivity, an understanding of what is in our hearts, and a good dose of accountability. So, for the next 4 weeks, we are going to try to clean up our Dirty Words.

Week 1 (January 20, 2013)

We all believe that what we say can just be neutral, “that no one will care” or “it was just funny.”  However, Solomon understands that there are really only two types of words: preserving words and ruining words. The ugly truth is that each of us, with a few choice words, could get fired, be headed for a divorce, or alienated from our friends. Words carry a great deal of power. They can build up or tear down. Students are becoming acutely aware of this truth for the first time. Middle School and High School can be a place filled with hurtful insults, misguided remarks, and jokes that land too close to home. Each us of us need to realize there are no neutral words.

Talk to your student about a time when you “stuck your foot in your mouth.” Ask your student why there are no neutral words.

Week 2 (January 27, 2013)

Last week, we discussed the problem that we all have with controlling our tongues. Even as we discussed the truth that there are no “neutral” words, each of us was thinking about the time we couldn’t help but say something hurtful or cross the line. Each of us has a person or a situation where we get bumped or provoked and we feel we have to speak out. The assumption that we all make is that the person who knocks us is the problem. “They make this stuff come out!” However, being knocked around just shows what is really in your heart. When we hurt someone with our words, we might say that “we were provoked” or “I don’t know where that came from,” but it comes from our hearts. The question we have to ask today in small group is: “What is in your heart?”

Talk to your student about a time when you let your anger get the best of you.  Ask your student how they are most likely to show their anger.

Week 3 (February 3, 2013)

Sooner or later, someone is going to be honest with you and tell you about an area of your life you need to work on. It could be your attitude, your work ethic, or you words. You need to decide how are you going to react to that conversation.  Solomon suggests we value it – that we even guard those moments, because they are so precious. We all need that sort of relationships in our lives. In the same way, we want to challenge students to have the hard conversations with friends, because that is how you can truly care for them. We all have experienced the urge to tell a close friend that the person they were dating was the wrong guy, or that a habit was getting out of control, or maybe tell them their attitude is hurting those around you. However, more often than not, we talk ourselves out of those conversations, because we want to be nice, or it would get awkward, or we don’t want to rock the boat. Our students need to learn to care for their friends more than they care for the friendships.

Talk to your student about the importance of close friendships in your life. Ask your student why close friends are better than a large number of friends.

Week 4 (February 10, 2013)

As we wrap up our series on the power of our words, we shift the focus to how our words can affect our relationship with God. In Matthew 5, we find one of Jesus’ more shocking statements as we are told that calling someone a fool is just as bad as murdering someone. He is trying to remind this culture, who is obsessed with becoming holy by good deeds, just how holy God’s righteousness is. However, he is also trying to make a point about our words and their power. Every time we use our words carelessly with a friend or family member, we have the potential to affect our relationship with God. There is a strong, yet often forgotten, connection between the health of your earthly relationships and your ability to have a healthy relationship with your heavenly father.

Talk to your student about a time your words affected your relationship with God. Ask your student how our words on earth can affect our relationship with God.





Breaking Down Christmas

9 12 2012

Breaking Down Christmas Title Slide

Series Overview

Christmas is a familiar time of year.  We put up our decorations, pick out a tree, and start listening to Christmas music, assuming you didn’t start in early November.  We also turn our attention to the story of Jesus’ birth.  Many of us have heard the story numerous times, and we could probably tell it without having to look it up, but how many of us truly understand what the story means?  Why was Jesus so special, and how is he connected to his Father? Where is the presence of God today? These questions are important, and we want to use the story of Christmas to answer them.  We want to talk about the nature of God in three different persons, and the Christmas story is one of the few places where all the persons of God have a role.  We want to take some time to examine the character of God, because if we don’t, we might just miss it.  So, during this Christmas season, we are “Breaking Down Christmas.”

Week 1 (December 9, 2012)

This week we are starting with God the Father, who know all and is all-powerful.  The Christmas story begins with Mary facing a scary situation.  She is pregnant and lives in a culture that ostracized unwed women with children.  She had many reasons to feel despair.  However, she rejoices in her situation because she knows that God the Father knows her situation and can do great things.  This is just as true for us as it was for Mary.  God the Father knows every situation that we are going to face, and he wants to do great things in our lives too.

Talk to your student about a time when you needed the comfort of God. Ask your students why it is important that we know that God the Father knows all.

Week 2 (December 16, 2012)

As crazy as it might sound, Jesus was fully human and fully God.  He grew up like all of us. He ate, slept, and did chores like any other person.  However, he is also fully God.  He is the Son of God, and will reign forever.  This is great news for us, because Jesus is God who knows exactly what it is like to be human.  He knows what it is like to live and have to face tough decisions everyday.  Jesus is the part of God that knows what we are experiencing in our lives.  The work of Jesus on the cross makes it possible for us to have a relationship with God.  We want all our students to know that whenever they face a tough situation, they are not alone.  Not only does God know what is going on, but Jesus can relate to you because he has been there too.

Ask your student why it is important to know that Jesus was fully human and fully God.

Week 3 (December 23, 2012)

Over the last two weeks, we have talked about God the Father, and Jesus the Son of God.  This week, we are looking at what might be the hardest part of the nature of God to understand, the Holy Spirit.  The presence of the Holy Spirit is found several times in the Old Testament, including in the life of Moses and the builders of the temple.  The New Testament tells us that since the death and resurrection of Christ, the Spirit dwells within believers.  The Spirit has many jobs, but this week we want to talk about how the Spirit serves to reveal truth and motivate us to action.  The Holy Spirit helps us to discern what God is communicating to us as we read the Bible.  The Holy Spirit is the part of God that leads us and inspires us to grow in our relationship with Jesus.

Talk to your student about a time in your life when you felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. Ask your student if they have ever felt the Holy Spirit in their own life.





Not That Into You

22 07 2012

Series Overview

Every one of us has experienced it at some point. At one time, we were really into a relationship—whether that’s a friendship or a dating relationship—and now, well, not so much. We’re just not that into it anymore. So we walk away or we let the relationship die. But what happens when that relationship you’re not that into anymore is the one you have with God? You were really into Him at one point. You were feeling connected, directed, close. Now it feels like nothing. How do you deal with it?

Session One: The Breakup? (July 22, 2012)

There is a natural ebb and flow to our relationships, isn’t there? There are times when we feel really close to someone, and times when we don’t. The reasons vary, but there are times when we’re just not feeling that into a relationship. It’s true of our friendships and other relationships, but what happens when it happens in our relationship with God? And when it does, why is it so difficult to admit it?

Session One Parent Cue: Describe a time when you felt really close to God. Now, describe a time when you felt really distant from Him. 

Session Two: Fight for Me (July 29, 2012)

When you’re not that into a relationship, you have a choice—to stay or to go. God has made it very clear in the Bible that He’s not going anywhere. He’s in. But we’re the ones who struggle with the choice, and that struggle sometimes involves fighting our own feelings and perceptions. It’s a fight that we have to be willing to take on, and a decision each of us has to make. And while it may feel like it, it’s not one-sided, God isn’t going anywhere. So are you going to fight your own tendencies to pull away? Are you going to fight for your relationship with God?

Session Two Parent Cue: Have you ever been tempted to walk away from God? What made you come back to Him . . . or walk away? 

Session Three: Do You Know Me? (August 12, 2012)

So you decided to fight, to stay in your relationship with God even though you’re feeling not that into Him. And for some of you, you’ve already seen a big change. There’s a new connection. There’s excitement. But for others, you’re fighting and nothing’s happening. You’re working, but you’re not getting anything in return. So what’s the problem? It may be that “me” is getting in the way, that your focus is on you. And in the process, you have made God very small, boring and predictable—a God you think you know, but One who is actually so much bigger than us.

Session Three Parent Cue: What are some things you’ve learned about God in your relationship with Him? Search online for “names of God” and go through the list and identify specific ways you’ve “experienced” those names. For example, one of the names of God means “provider.” How have you seen God provide in your life? 





Everyone Needs Grace

29 01 2012

Series Overview

In middle school and high school many students begin to become keenly aware of their desires, thoughts, and temptations, and for the first time start to understand that they’re sinful. They also begin to realize that it’s not just them. The entire human race has a problem with straying from God’s intended plan. Thankfully, that’s where grace comes in. Despite our rebellion from God, we can receive his mercy and unconditional love. We’re all undeserving sinners, but our Heavenly Father has extended to all of us his love and compassion because He knows that we all need His grace.

Session 1 (January 29, 2012)

As you may know, students never make mistakes.  Each of them caries a long list of excuses of why nothing is their fault: my computer crashed, the bus was late, I had to go to my brother’s game…..the list goes on and on. This excuse game, though, is not a new problem. Men and women have been trying to shift the blame to others since Adam and Eve fell in the garden.  Just as no one has to be taught how to sin, no one has to be taught to sidestep responsibility for those decisions. We often justify our actions with excuses like, “I couldn’t help it”, “nobody’s perfect”, “I didn’t know it was wrong”, or “I was pressured into it.” Today, we want each student to understand that God does not tempt us. We’ve been given free will and if we fall, it’s because of our own evil desires. God has given us the freedom to choose sin, but he does not tempt us. We’re taking the road that leads to death when we take our freedom and use it to make choices that are outside of God’s will. Talk to your student about the importance of taking responsibility for our own actions, and ask your student why we try to shift the blame for our sins.

Session 2 (February 5, 2012)

Sometimes it’s easy to feel that our relationship with God is based on a system of do’s and don’ts. In fact, if we were to be honest, many of us feel like the depth of our relationship has to do with how well we abide by God’s rules. We think the better we behave, the more God will love us, and the more we break the rules, the more God will hold against us. The reality is that our fear of God is driven out of our lack of knowledge of Him. The more we get to know our Heavenly Father, the better we can begin to understand that His love for us is so much more than a record of all the bad we do in life. 1 John 4:18 teaches us that God loves us unconditionally despite our fear. If we can begin to understand the way God loves us, our fear of Him will no longer be an issue, because where there is love there cannot be fear. Talk to your student about how you have felt the love of God in your own life, and ask them why understanding the love of God is important.

Session 3 (February 12, 2012)

In week one we started discussing the issue of sin in our lives. One of the greatest forces that Christians have to deal with is guilt. When we sin, it not only causes us to question our actions, but also to question who we are. Many Christians fall into temptation and begin to question whether their salvation “took.” We begin wondering, “What if it didn’t count?” “What if I prayed the prayer wrong?” “What if I didn’t believe hard enough?” or “If it was real, why do I keep making bad decisions?” We all know that dreadful feeling of self loathing that causes us to question whether or not we have really been redeemed by His grace.  In John chapter 10, Jesus makes it clear that His sheep cannot be taken away from him. If no amount of sin before you accepted Him can keep you away, why would any amount of sin after accepting keep you from him? The truth is that you will not always “feel” saved, but you are. We can approach the throne with confidence because once we are in his hands, we cannot be removed.  Ask your student why we can be confident that we are God’s.