In the Student Ministry we have been studying Hebrews 11 for a few weeks now. So far, the teens have been reading about figures in the Bible most of them know about. People like Noah, Moses, Abel, etc. This week however, we learned about Rahab. Rahab was the prostitute who hid the two Israelite spies who were scouting Jericho. Not only was Rahab a prostitute, but also a Canaanite. Yet, even through her God worked. If it was not for God telling Rahab that the Israelites were going to be given the land, she would have never hid the spies. Rahab showed amazing faith in God and also shows us that God can work through anyone, regardless of their situation. God is unbiased. There are classmates in your teens’ schools that they do not get along with. There may be a variety of reasons why they do not get along with some of their classmates, just like there are probably co-workers you don’t get along with. Whatever the reason may be for that, Rahab shows us that we must still see them as a child of God. Rahab was a Canaanite prostitute, which by the way are major opposites of people the Israelites typically interacted with. Yet, it was through her that they were assured that God is with them. God is unbiased. Parents, our teens are not going to like everyone they interact with and it can be so easy for them to be mean to those people. It can be easy for them to look past the outsiders. We must encourage our teens to view everyone they see as a child of God, just like they are. We must teach them that in all things and in everyone God works, just like he did in Rahab. I truly believe that if our teens can see their classmates as children of God, they can start the a new wave of love and respect in their schools. In everything and everyone God works. God is unbiased.
Verse of the Week: The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation. (Psalms 145:9)
This past weekend we had our all church camp-out at Martin Dies State Park. It was a great time of fellowship, laughter, and rest. It is always nice to get away from city life and enjoy the slow pace of life that camping has to offer. For me, this trip offered me a chance to relax from the busy and fast-paced schedule I typically have. In other words, I was seeking rest from this trip. Thinking about that made me realize that I have turned to other things to life to find rest instead of turning to God. Jesus offers us rest through Him in scripture (Matt. 11:28-30), yet often times we can find ourselves seeking rest through a cruise, day off from work, trip, etc. This is no different for our teens. As I have mentioned before, teens are extremely stressed out. There are so many things in their lives that can contribute to their stress, including their life at home. Just like us, our teens are also seeking rest wherever they can find it. They may find this rest through video games, hanging out with friends, social media, etc. While that may be innocent enough, it can actually be damaging your teen’s relationship with God. Parents, when we allow our teens to find rest in things like those mentioned about, we are teaching them to find rest in worldly things instead of God. Those things can become idols to our teens and soon enough, become the main priority in our the lives of our teens. I am not stating that you must take away video games, friends, social media, and other things our teens use to distress. What I am stating is that we must encourage our teens to seek rest through God and Him alone. God is the only way to achieve eternal rest. Jesus tells us that in scripture. Encourage your teens to pray or meditate when they experience stress. This will help them learn to rely on God to bring rest into their lives, not the things this world has to offer. Things that become idols for our teens. Things that keep them from prioritizing their relationship with God. I have been guilty of seeking rest in things of the world. In those things I found temporary relief, but never enough to satisfy my desire for rest. Your teens are part of the most stressed out generation and they are desperately seeking rest. Lead them to their creator, who offers them full and eternal rest in Him.
Verse of the Week: Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matt. 11:28)
Activity as a Family: Write down situations/issues that have been causing stress in your life. Go around and share them with each other. After sharing, pray for each other.
In the sports world there are two types of fans. There are the loyal fan base and there are what the sports world calls “bandwagon” fans. The loyal fan base is well… loyal. They stick with their team through the great years and the awful years. Through all that, their faith in their team never fades. Then there are the bandwagon fans. Bandwagon fans are people who jump their support to teams who are doing the best during that period. They are super supportive of that team until things go bad. As soon as things turn for the worst, bandwagon fans turn and give their support to whichever team is the best. Both groups are fans of their favorite teams, but only one group is a follower. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus had a lot of fans. He was like a rock star wherever he went! He was healing people, casting out demons, and raising people from the dead. It was fun to follow Jesus! The big highlight was feeding 5,000 who were all there to listen to his message. It was great to be a follower of Jesus! Then, his ministry began to change. He began preaching to his followers that they have to live their families, wealth, etc. and follow him. He began to call his followers to a deeper relationship with Him. Soon the crowds started getting smaller and the enemies bigger. The same people who would cheer for him and follow him in amazement would be calling for his execution. They were bandwagon fans. They loved the Jesus that would heal the sick, raise the dead, and encourage them. However, when Jesus required a relationship that was deeper; a relationship that called for complete surrender, they wanted nothing to do with it. Soon Jesus went from having to preach on a boat because of the size of the crowd to being ran off by people after healing a man with a legion of demons. Parents, are we raising our teen(s) to be fans or followers of Jesus? Are we pushing them to pursue a deeper relationship with Him or let them enjoy the awesome side of Jesus? If we are doing the latter, we are creating teens that are fans of Jesus, not followers. Fans of Jesus love the great times when Jesus is answering their prayers, making their life great, etc. However, fans of Jesus also struggle when things take a turn for the worst. When Jesus calls them to a deeper relationship that requires total surrender, they are turned off. I hope we are creating followers, not fans of Jesus. Followers don’t run to the hills when times get rough, instead they run toward the Father. Followers don’t hesitate to pursue a deeper relationship with Jesus. Parents, lets partner with God to mold our teens to be followers of Jesus, not fans. My prayer for you is that we partner with God to create followers of Jesus. I pray that we walk step by step with our teens through their growing. I pray that our teens desire and pursue a deep relationship with Jesus.
Verse of the Week: Matthew 16:24 “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.”
This past Sunday in class, we talked about Moses and his faith (and lack there of) in God. Our class focused around the story of Moses and the burning bush. This is when God calls Moses to lead his people out of slavery and out of Egypt. Moses (understandably so) begins to make excuses for why he shouldn’t be the one to lead this huge task. In fact, Moses makes 4 excuses, each of which God responds with an answer to ease Moses’s worries. Even after God’s responses, Moses still does not want to be the one who helps God liberate his people. However, Moses eventually accepts his call from God and returns to Egypt. As the story goes Moses not only ends up freeing the Israelites with the help of God, he ends up being their leader and ambassador for God all the way up to the promise land. It is amazing to see how God worked through Moses when he eventually allowed him too. I feel that our teens are in some way the same as Moses when it comes to accepting their calls from God. I know when I was a teen, I found myself making excuses for why I shouldn’t share the Gospel message with my classmates. It can be easy for our teens to make excuses when God comes calling. Whether it’s insecurities, fear of hard questions, fear of rejection, etc. there are so many excuses are teens can make when God calls them. However, God’s response to Moses is the same response He gives our teens. He tells Moses in verse 12 “I will be with you”. That parents, should be enough to convince our teens to answer God’s call for them. I want to encourage you to push your kids to get out of their comfort zone. Put them in situations where they must rely on their faith in God. Encourage them that God is with them through every situation. As a family, seek opportunities that push the comfort level of all of you, while also glorifying God. My prayer for you and your teen(s) is that we will trust that God can and will use us. I pray that your teen(s) answer God’s call without fear. I pray they accept the mission God has for them.
Verse of the Week: For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. (2 Timothy 1:12)
Activity of the Week: As a family, find one opportunity this week to do something outside of your comfort zone for God.
WHAT. A. GAME. I hope you didn’t miss the Super Bowl last night because it was one for the ages! Great back and forth competition and it was filled with great plays. In the end the underdogs, starting a back up quarterback, won the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. It is an incredible story of overcoming so many trials to win the ultimate prize (for football). I have to feel that those players understood what/who they were facing. I have to feel they understood that everyone had given up on them. Yet through all that, they overcame and won. Last night was a reminder for me that those underdogs look a lot like our teens. Our teens face so many trials in this stage of their life. Just like the players, they understand the difficult things that they have to face in middle/high school. Also just like the Eagles, they can also feel when those around them have given up on them. Parents, our teens are the underdogs in this society. One that mocks them for their faith and is filled with evil. Being follower of Jesus is difficult, but being a teenage follower of Jesus is extremely challenging. It can be overwhelming to ask our teens to share their faith or invite friends to events because of the fear of ridicule. It is easy for me to see why teens have such difficulty expressing their faith. It is because our teens are true underdogs. However, we need to take a page of our Coach Pederson’s playbook. Coach Pederson knew his team was the underdogs. He also knew the Patriots would be very difficult to defeat, even more with a back-up quarterback. So what did he do? He created a game plan for his players that gave them the best opportunity to win. He created a game plan that played to their strengths, not their weaknesses. Parents, we need to partner with God to make a game plan that helps our teen(s) overcome their trails and obstacles. We need to create a game plan that plays to their strengths, not their weaknesses. If we want our teens to succeed, we need to give them the best chance to succeed. No one can make a better game plan than God. Pray that He works in your teen(s) to get the best out of them. Figure out your teen(s) strengths and find ways they can glorify God’s kingdom with them. Our teens are the true underdogs, but God and the Eagles have shown us that they can succeed and achieve the ultimate prize with the right game plan.
Recently, I have been watching more tv than usual. While I was scrolling across different channels, I stumbled upon this show on A&E. The show is called “Undercover High” and follows a project being done by a school district in Tulsa, Oklahoma to better understand their students. The school brings in six 23-26 years old of different backgrounds and history to be undercover students that act like normal high school students. Through the process, the undercover teens build relationships with the teens around them and learn the struggles that they are facing. The show does a fantastic job of highlighting the real struggles teenagers are dealing with today. Things such as sexual assault, racism, bullying (both physical and emotional), self-doubt, and others are all seen in the show. It would have been easy for me to dismiss this as issues only facing the high school on the show, but these issues are impacting our teens right here at home. Seeing the issues on tv made me cringe, not only because of how pervasive they were, but also because I knew that our teens at New Beginnings were witnessing the same things at their high school. A high school is not the friendliest place, nor the best place to see God. Our teens are witnessing or being the subject of very evil things in their high schools. Things like sexual assault, racism, self-doubt, and bullying are all real issues our teens are having to deal with in their schools. These things can wreak havoc the hearts of teens. They can effect them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Having watch the show, it makes sense to me now why so many teens lose their faith. The issues they are facing can lead them question where God is in this. However, it is important to teach our teens to see how God works in everything. In the Bible, we see God work in evil things. One example is the persecution of the early church. These evil act lead to the Gospel being spread to other areas of the world! God works in everything and He also has already overcome the evil of the world. I want to encourage you to always be checking on your teen. Spiritually feed them and encourage them as they go to school. Have conversations about what their school life looks like and how they see God at school. Help them learn to see God in everything, even in a high school. Our teens need our support, they need guidance on how to navigate this world. My prayer for you this week is that your teens do not have to be witnesses and/or participants to the issues that are challenging them. I pray that they turn to God when facing these issues and lean on His understanding. I pray that God encourages and protects your teens and their peers from the evil attacking our schools. I hope you are and your family are blessed this week!
Verse of the Week: I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
For a youth minister, one of the most frustrating things is not being able to connect with a student no matter how hard you try. It is something has bothered me since I first did ministry. At one of internships, there was a kid named Bob (not his real name). Bob was very introverted and did not connect with most of the teens in youth ministry. The youth minister had trouble connecting with Bob and so did my co-intern and I. We could not figure out how to connect with Bob or connect him to the youth ministry. One day Bob shared how he loved working on his car, which was one of the few things I ever learned about him. However, that information was enough to get Bob connected to our ministry. We had a parent volunteer that was really into buying and restoring cars. We connected him and Bob and they instantly hit it off. From that, Bob connected to the larger body and was plugged into the ministry. I wish I could connect with all of our teenagers, but sadly I can’t. That is okay because of stories like Bob’s story. The message of Bob’s story is that if we want to connect our teens to the larger body of Christ, sometimes we need to make an effort to actually connect them to the body of Christ beyond connecting them to the youth minister. Teenagers need mentors to grow in their spiritual journey. I grew in my personal journey with God because of an adult volunteer who became my mentor. He listened when I was struggling with things that I didn’t care to share with my parents or youth minster. He also kept me accountable, which was necessary for the life I was living. Mentors are important for the spiritual journey of your teens. Find people who your teens can connect to. Maybe its through a hobby like Bob, or maybe it is through something else. Whatever it is, it will be beneficial for your teen to have other adults besides yourself to pour into them. We see these types of relationships throughout the Bible. One that most of you may be familiar with is Timothy and Paul. Paul mentored Timothy and always worked to encourage Timothy in his ministry. Timothy went on to be a great leader of the Church and I would believe Paul had something to do with that. So parents, connect your teen(s) with adults who are not related to you. Find your teen(s) mentors that can pour into them and keep that accountable. Our teens are always seeking guidance. Why not find them someone who can help them? My prayer for you this week is that you will be able to identify mentors for your teen(s). I pray that those mentors would see your desire as a call from God and I hope they would answer that call. Have a blessed week!
Verse of the Week: A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:12
Activity: As a family, share and discuss your favorite hobbies/activities. Share with your kids if you know anyone that is also into the activity that is mention.