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.

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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.





Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt

25 11 2012

Series Overview

If you were to guess who we have more reliable accounts of – Jesus or Julius Caesar – who would you guess? Nope, it is not the guy with his own salad dressing. In fact, we have more accounts dated closer to Jesus’ actual lifetime than we have for all the events of the Roman Empire during that time. The truth is that even our history books are written on very little evidence. There are widely accepted facts that are credited to a single source, dated hundreds of years after the event. Yet somehow the Bible is the document that is so widely criticized for its accuracy. The truth is that Jesus is the most well-documented person in ancient history. For the next two weeks, we want our students to know that what the Bible says can be taken as truth. We want them to learn to believe in what the Bible says “Beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

Week 1 (November 25, 2012)

Jesus was a real person. This sounds like an obvious statement, but for many people, including many students, it can be a real question.  We are constantly inundated with stories of people that blend together fact and fiction, and this can often cause us to doubt the legitimacy of the Bible.  We want our students to know that having questions is not a bad thing.  We want them to ask questions, and we want them to understand and believe that Jesus was a real person.  The disciples were willing to suffer and die for their belief in Jesus. This is some of the most compelling evidence we have about the life of Christ.  Today, we want to discuss the evidence that we have that Jesus was a real person and he needs to be a part of our life.

Talk to your student about the link between doubt and faith.  Ask you student what part of the story of Jesus do the find the hardest to believe.

Week 2 (December 2, 2012)

The Bible is one of the most scrutinized books in the world.  However, it has been shown to be accurate time after time.  The most common frustration people have with the Bible is not about the people and places, but the miraculous events. We want to know how some of these things could have happened. Ultimately, we are left with the option to believe the Bible is true or be skeptical.  What we want our students to know is that the Bible is the inspired word of God.  It is not our job to try and explain how miracles happen, but to know that they do happen.  We need to approach the Bible with the right attitude that everything is written so that we might believe.

Talk to your student about the importance of believing the Bible to be true. Ask your student what they find the hardest to believe about the Bible.





Illuminate

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.