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.

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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.





Forward Motion

20 11 2011

Series Overview

We’ve all made resolutions and set goals, but too often we fall short of what we expected to accomplish. Unfortunately it’s often the same when we try to become the Christian we really believe God has called us to be. We fall short of the goal and become increasingly discouraged. In this series, your student will learn that following Christ is more about the small steps we make every day, not about the huge leaps of faith that we think we need to make. They will set a goal, determine the first step and then make it. The series will end with a celebration!

Session One (November 20, 2011)

So many times we look at our lives with great expectations, thinking we should be leaps from where we are. We expect perfection. We expect to arrive at some level. The reality is that following Christ isn’t about leaping to instant perfection. We’re walking with Him daily–a walk that involves steps, not leaps. Following Jesus Christ is about the small steps we make every day, steps of obedience, steps in relationship with Him. Sometimes those steps are small, sometimes they are big–but they are all still steps, moving us forward.

Session One Parent Cue: Following Christ is about steps, not leaps. This week your students will be introduced to the myth: that Christianity is all about taking big leaps of faith. They will encounter some of Scripture’s most daunting verses, and wrestle with what it means to have a life of consistent spiritual growth. Each student will set a goal for himself or herself, and the next few weeks they will revisit their goals. Discuss with them what you think may be some unrealistic goals you have for yourself.

Session Two (November 27, 2011)

The goal of every Christian is to become more like Jesus. But the problem comes when we think we’re going to achieve that today. It’s a lifelong journey, a process, a walk. Following Jesus is about the steps we take every day, and as Christians, we have divine help in taking those steps–the Holy Spirit. What is the step God is asking to take? What’s holding you back from taking it?

Session Two Parent Cue: The way you get from where you are to where you want to be is one step at a time. This may sound ridiculously obvious, but we all forget it. We want to go to the gym one time and look like a model; we want to make one smart comment at work and be promoted right to the top. But we know deep down that isn’t the way things work. The good news is that in our spiritual development, God has not left us alone to work out the mess. He has sent His Spirit to guide us. This week, students will look at the power of the Holy Spirit to guide their paths, and they will make a plan for beginning to take the first step toward their goals. What is an obtainable goal that you can work on achieving this week? 

Session Three (December 4, 2011)

What if you acknowledged the steps you took every day in your own “walk” with God? What if you realized that even though you may not be where you want to be, you may be exactly where God wants you to be, learning the things you need to know one step at a time? It brings a lot of freedom, doesn’t it? But not only that, what if we started celebrating not only the steps we take every day, but the steps those around us do as well? Because what may not be a big deal for you, may be huge for someone else. And all that celebration begins to turn into one big party.

Session Three Parent Cue: Celebrate the steps you take in your relationship with God, and celebrate the steps others take as well. It’s all about celebration, not the cheap kind of celebration that comes from making a big deal out of nothing, but the real party that comes naturally when we know that we have made even the slightest move in the right direction. Your students will talk this week about what it looks like to encourage each other and celebrate with each other whenever they make progress toward one of their goals. What are some specific areas of growth you have seen in your teen in the last couple of weeks, months or even year?