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This week at Forgiven & Renew we talked about…
November 5 & 6, 2013
At Forgiven we had everyone write out questions they have about friendship. I shared my 2 cents on the subject.
John 15:12-15 (MSG) “This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.”
“There’s ‘hell’ in hello, ‘good’ in goodbye, ‘lie’ in believe, ‘over’ in lover, ‘end’ in friend, ‘ex’ in ‘next’, & ‘if’ in life.
“Want to know who your real friends are? Mess up and see who is still standing beside you.”
At Renew we had everyone write out questions they have about dating. I shared my 2 cents on the subject.
Read my post about our conversation here.
October 29 & 30, 2013
October 22 & 23, 2013
Does it matter who I’m friends with?
Maybe it’s a matter of influence. Do others make you do questionable things?
Your friends should make you a better person.
October 15 & 16, 2013
I don’t care how strong you are, I don’t care how popular, cool, or outgoing you are – you have weaknesses. Everyone does. I don’t care if you think you are the weakest person in here, you still have a lot to offer. But what do you do about this kind of stuff?
The following section was only at Renew:
We read some stats about dating, eating disorders, drinking, and pornography.
We could go on about self-image, other destructive habits like cutting, and we could even talk about something as simple as being lazy.
As Christians, are these things we just accept and say, “Well that’s just the way it is.”? Or is there some counter-cultural message we’re called to live out?
Consider this passage from Romans 2:12-13
We need more doers.
This passage is talking about sin, but I don’t want to get hung up on the sin issue in a large group setting like this. What I want to do is challenge your thinking about these issues and what you hear everyone saying about them.
Maybe this passage in Romans is saying that if YOU, if you are aware of what’s right, if you are aware of the needs of others and you do nothing about them, what good are you doing in your school? None. You’re just like everyone else, just trying to be cool.
And yet this world is hurting, you are hurting because everybody knows full-well that these things they are doing will hurt them, but they continue to do it anyway. Everybody is dating and having sex, and drinking, and watches porn, and does whatever else they want and I just want to be young and dumb and have fun while I can so I do what I want to do, but this stuff actually does the opposite to you. Research shows that. Your brain can’t handle it, and it negatively impacts you and you don’t even know it.
A long time ago I read this book called Beautiful Boy by a guy named David Sheff, who is writing about his son’s addiction to meth. He describes the addiction like this: “only Satan himself could have designed a disease that has self-deception as a symptom, so that its victims deny they are afflicted, and will not seek treatment, and will vilify those on the outside who see what’s happening.”
So essentially this drug causes me to lie to myself about what I’m doing, denying that anything is wrong, and makes me ignore those who want to help me, and even look at them as if they are trying to harm me.
Could all these other things that we deal with in life, be doing a similar thing to us. When mom/dad question you, are you blind to what they’re asking? Maybe they don’t ask it in the best way, but still, are you blind to the truth? When I say, be careful about dating in high school, are you mentally unable to understand what I’m saying and so you just write me off as dumb? When we read in the bible that ignoring our sin is the same as wasting our time, and we don’t do anything about it, are we on some level battling an addiction?
[End Renew only section]
There’s a theme in the bible, that God uses our weakness to show his own strengths.
Remember the story of David and Goliath. David was this kid who had pretty much everything going against him when he enters a battle with a giant. He was young, too little to wear armor, no one believed he had any chance to win.
But he was this small kid who wasn’t afraid to fight this giant.
At first, they try to put all this armor on him. The armor was supposed to provide some “strength.” But he’s SO small that he can hardly move with it on. So David gets rid of the armor and takes the giant out with a sling shot and a stone.
He turned this thing that everybody thought was a “weakness” and made a victory out of it. The point = God can work in us despite weakness.
Most of the people around you actually don’t believe this though. Instead, only the strong survive, we think. That’s why everybody wants to be big and strong. That’s why my favorite football team needs to beat yours. That’s why I need to win. Because only the strong survive, right?
We actually don’t understand God when we think this way. Truth is, we’re actually not strong; none of us. Not even the strongest football player. Not even Bill. Not even your dad. We’re weak. All of us. We’re all gonna get old, sick, hurt, experience death, etc.
In the bible, David, this little guy, beat a giant. This isn’t really a story about a little guy beating a big guy. It’s an illustration/an example of God’s power. You see God. HE can take our weakness and use it.
We need to allow God’s strength to overcome our weaknesses.
October 8 & 9, 2013
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind.”
1. How do you love God with your heart?
2. How do you love God with your mind?
3. What connection do these have with your soul? How do you love God with your soul?
4. What does God require of us?
October 1 & 2, 2013
God wants you to feel like you belong. That’s why friends and family are important.
So then, maybe you’re trying to figure out how to fit in (or belong) in your school without giving up who God wants you to be (who you are…the real you).
In our desire to fit in, there’s a huge temptation to change ourselves just to gain that feeling of belonging. Or maybe you just fudge the details a little bit.
What things do you do to try to fit in, that aren’t really things that you want to be doing? Good question to talk to your kids about.
So how do you fit in without changing who you are? Well, it goes back to realizing who you are first.
You are God’s before you are anything else, and you’re called to live that way. How?
1. Don’t be cheesy. I’m not talking about carrying your bible around everywhere or trying to be holier than everyone else. You’re human. It’s ok.
But 2. Don’t be afraid to be different. Jesus didn’t fit in everywhere; he wasn’t always welcome but he always brought love: sometimes through healing, but sometimes even through his anger. But it was always love.
That’s how you fit in. Everybody desires love. People who make fun of others, maybe they do that because they haven’t felt love from others. And you may get made fun of for trying to love people who are seen as losers, or for trying to stand up to people who hurt others. But no matter what they say to you, you can be sure that they want love.
Jesus challenged people all the time. Read about him almost anywhere and you’ll see examples of that. And in some places, we see that people were actually amazed by who he was. Mark 7:37.
Jesus didn’t adjust to the world, he brought love and the world adjusted to him. The same will happen for you. This is the best thing you can do: bring love. Through forgiveness, grace, mercy, justice, righteousness.
September 24 & 25, 2013
Have you ever noticed how much we judge people by the way they look? Starbucks – a nerdy looking guy spreading out note cards, a lady all tatted up, somebody wearing hospital scrubs, and a barista with a big beard who looks either like a crazy person or Jesus, and on and on.
There are a lot of thoughts that go through our minds just by looking at someone.
And there’s this constant message from our society that you have to look a certain way to be accepted. We have reality shows about everything from clothes designers and hair stylists to even the way our homes are decorated and styled.
The message from society: You better look good.
God’s message is opposite of this.
1 Peter 3:3-4
It doesn’t matter to God how you look on the outside. It matters what you’re doing on the inside.
So how does what I do on the outside affect who I am on the inside?
If it doesn’t matter to God how I look on the outside, can I dress however I want? Well no, you still have to listen to mom and dad, be concerned about how you may be affecting others, etc. Here’s why:
Girls, guys like looking at you. And guys, girls are interested in you. So if you’re causing somebody to struggle with sin because of the way you dress, or if you fantasize about what you see, it leads you down a path that causes concern.
If Christ gave up his life for us, then when we do things that hurt someone else’s walk with Christ, we hurt that person and we hurt Jesus. If God’s looking at who you are on the inside, and we are all looking at who you are on the outside, then we need to make sure that what WE see reflects what GOD sees.
Inside? That means understanding what God thinks of you. Here’s the thing: He thinks you’re awesome. He loves you like crazy, and there’s not a thing you can do to take that away that love.
God’s love for you is so deep that you cannot make him NOT love you. This is what you are: You are loved by God. You are worth something because he said so. In fact, you aren’t just worth something – you’re worth everything.
What does God want you to do with your life, and how do you know? We said that with a little help from their friends and family, only they can know the answer to that. This would be a great conversation to have at home.
We said that one thing we CAN tell you: Your purpose is to serve God.
To do THAT, we let your son/daughter in on a little secret: God just wants their heart. Plain and simple. He wants them to want to serve him.
The illustration: Have you ever been friends with someone (or thought you were friends with them) who turned out to be fake? Maybe they said something behind your back? Lied to make themselves look better? Truth is, they were probably never real friends in the first place.
God doesn’t want us to treat him that way, either. Am I the same person at church/home/school?
We looked at Colossians 3:3-4 (The Message translation. See it at http://www.biblegateway.com)
So what does that mean for us?
Well, the answer is actually pretty simple. If your real life is with Jesus, then that means that all you have to do is hang out with Jesus. Because that’s where your life is. That’s what he wants us to do. There and nowhere else will you find what you’re looking for in life.
We said, if you want to talk more about HOW your real life is with Jesus (because it can be difficult to understand), let us know. Encourage your son/daughter to talk with us if that’s something they want.
What happens when you hang with God?
We then looked at Jeremiah 17:7-8 (The Message translation)
This passage is painting a cool picture of what happens when you hang with God. You get to be a tree, just hanging out by a river. And not just any tree, but a tree without a care in the world, and one that produces a ton of fruit. Imagine tossing out all your worries and headaches and drama, and just hanging out with God. And the best part? You don’t actually grow apples out of your arms do you? No. When it says you produce fruit it means that when you’re hanging out with God, your life is going to have an impact on other people’s lives. You’ll give them something worthwhile, kinda like fruit.
Life isn’t always easy, but with God we can know what matters most.
*Some of the content for this series was taken from the book The High School Survival Guide by Adam Palmer.