Complete Meetings

God Is The Best

God Is The Best

The purpose of this session is to teach youth some of the basic attributes of God — that He is always there, that He is all-powerful and all-knowing — and because God is like this, He wants to have a relationship with us.

Activate Your Audience

The Best Thing

Ask ten people in your group to finish the following statement (if you have less than ten, let everyone respond): “The best thing I have ever seen or heard in my life is…” Allow each person to respond, then write the responses where everyone can see them. Briefly discuss what makes each thing so great.

Bring them Closer

Set the New World Record

Break your group in half to form two distinct groups. Make sure each group is about the same size. Give each group exactly five minutes to come up with some idea that has never been done before — something that would possibly put them into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the first and best group to ever do that particular thing. It must be something that involves every member of the group. Then, at the end of the five minutes, ask each group to demonstrate what World Record they are going to set.

Transition: Explain to your group that tonight you are going to look at some of the World Records that God holds. He’s the oldest, strongest, and smartest person in the world.

Music

Lead your group to sing some songs that focus on God’s attributes. Examples include…

God is So Good

Lord, You are More Precious Than Silver

Our God is an Awesome God

Communicate the Word

I. God has always been and will always be (Psalm 90:2)

A. He had no beginning

Illustration: Draw a line segment on the board. Place a large dot at the beginning of the segment and at the end. Explain that humans have a beginning (when we are conceived by our parents) and and end (when we die). Then, in place of the large dot on the left side of the line segment, make an arrow. The arrow means that the line goes on infinitely in that direction. Explain that God has no beginning. He has always been there. Allow time for your group to ask questions about what this means.

Application: Explain that God has always been working in your life. There is never a time when He wasn’t thinking about you and planning good things for your life. When you were conceived, He was there, making sure you grew into a new baby. He was there when you experienced your most embarassing moment. He was there this morning when you woke up. He has always been there for you.

B. He has no end

Illustration: Now draw an arrow on the right side of your line segment so that both sides have arrows. God will never end because He is eternal. Allow time for your group to ask questions.

Application: Explain that God will always be there for you. When you have the greatest day of your life, God will be there. When you have the worst day of your life, He will be there to comfort you. He wants to be with you all the time. So, whenever you choose, you can talk to God because He is right there.

II. God can do anything He chooses to do (Matthew 28:18, 19:26)

A. God chooses to do whatever He wants — no one tells God what to do (ultimate authority)

Discussion: Let the group discuss what they would do in one 24-hour period if no one on earth could tell them what to do. They can do anything they want, and no one will get in their way. Anything is game. Write down some of the things your group comes up with. Chances are, the things they do will be very self-centered (stealing money & cars, eating all the food & candy you wanted, etc.) Don’t interrupt them. Let them live out their dream day.

Explain that God can do whatever He wants because He is God.

Application: Go back over the list and try to find things your group wanted to do that are not selfish — things that help other people. You may find only a few or none at all. Now think about God. Explain that though God can do whatever He wants, He has not chosen to be selfish. He has chosen to give each one of us a life. He has given us all the freedom to accept or reject Him. He came to earth to die for us because He loved us. God could have chosen anything in the universe to do, and yet His greatest desire was to create you and love you.

B. God has the power to do whatever He chooses (ultimate power)

Illustration: Explain to your group that you want to see who the strongest person in the group is. Ask everyone to stand up. Announce that the strongest person in the group will be whoever can stand on one foot for the longest period of time without holding on to something/someone and without moving. Say, “Go!” and let everyone start. When the last person standing, have that person come forward. Explain that now you are going to test the strengh of the strongest person in your group. Ask this person to, in front of everyone, pick his/her up and hold it up for ten seconds without using anyone or anything else. Of course, this is impossible.

Explain that, as humans, we have limitations. We cannot do everything that we want to do. Some things are just not possible. Explain that with God, however, everything is possible. He can do whatever He chooses to do. Allow time for questions from your group. Be prepared for some crazy questions. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.”

Application: Explain if God is powerful enough to do whatever He chooses, then He is powerful enough to be your God. He can provide your every need, get you through the toughest times, take care of you through any problem, and be all that you need Him to be.

III. God knows everything (I John 3:19 – 20)

A. He knows everything about the universe

Illustration: Tell the following story. “Back in the early 1900’s, a man’s car broke down. He pulled off to the side of the road and began fiddling with the engine. He couldn’t locate the problem, and he began to be very frustrated. A few moments later, another car pulled up and a man stepped out and offered to help. He put his head under the hood and quickly found the problem. ‘How did you know what the problem was?’ asked the first man. The stranger responded, ‘Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Henry Ford. I invented this automobile. I know everything about it.'” Explain that God knows everything about the universe because He invented it — He created it.

Application: Explain that though science has made great strides in its study of the universe, we will never understand all there is to know. We can’t even predict the weather with 100% accuracy. God, however, knows everything about the universe. He created every planet, star, flower, sunset, river, mountain, and valley. This week, take the time to look around you at all of the things that God created.

B. He knows everything about you

Illustration: Ask someone to volunteer, or call on someone. Bring this person forward. Tell the person to take five steps across the room. Each step must be taken in a unique way — in a way that no one could possibly guess what the person will do. Everyone expects the person to just put one foot in front of the other, but perhaps the person could walk backwards for one step, hop one step, roll on the floor for one step, etc. The point is, no one should be able to guess what the person is going to do next. When the person has finished, explain that only God knew what this person was going to do.

Explain that God knows all about you. He knows where you have been, where you are now, and where you are going tomorrow. He knows how many hairs are on your head. He knows what you are thinking right now. He knows if you will be alive in five years or dead tomorrow.

Application: Ask your group to answer this question, “What makes a best friend?” One of the most common answers is, “Someone who knows you — someone who understands you.”

Explain that God wants to be your best friend. He knows you better than anyone else, and His whole point in creating you was to have a close relationship with you. He wants to be a part of your every waking moment.

Do Something About It

Read the following questions out loud to your group. Ask each person to listen for that one question that really hits home. Then, ask everyone to think about that one question and answer it honestly and quietly. Will it be God or the other thing?

God will be there when your parents/friends let you down. Who are you going to depend on?

God will be there when sinful pleasures don’t feel good anymore. Which one do you want?

God has more power than money, so which one do you want more of?

God is more powerful than the crowd, so who are you going to please?

God is more powerful than you, so which one are you going to spend more time with?

God knows who you are going to marry, so why not ask Him to help you find him/her?

God knows what you’ll do after high school, so why not ask Him to show you what to do?

God understands your deepest fears, so why not trust Him to take care of you?

God knows everything about you, so why not give everything you have to Him?

Pray that everyone in your group would recognize that God, because he is always present, all powerful, and all knowing, wants to be a part of everyone’s life on a daily basis.

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Just Give It Up

Just Give It Up!

The purpose of this study is to help young Christians realize that following Jesus doesn’t require a few changes — it causes drastic changes.

Activate Your Audience

VIDEO GOSSIP

Set up a video camera in a private room to record each young person making a statement. The statement will be what was whispered to them by the previous participant. The statement is whispered only once, and the person on camera must attempt to repeat what she/he heard. This is just like sharing gossip in a circle, only you get to see how the message deteriorates with each person. There will be a drastic change from the original message to the final one, illustrating the point.

If you don’t have a video camera, play the game in a circle with each person simply whispering to the next.

Sample message: Henry Barfinsnickel, with flaming sword in hand, soundly defeated the Great Fugi monster atop Mt. Carmel before receiving his much-deserved dessert: a hot fudge sundae.

Discuss with the group how the message deteriorated and why. Then, shift gears by talking about how drastic the change was from the original to the final. Explain that this drastic change is the same kind of change Jesus is looking for in his followers.

Build a Bridge

Ask people to share what it would be like if they were suddenly blind/deaf/paralyzed for the rest of their lives. What changes would have to be made? Are those changes simple or drastic?

Constructive Communication

I. The followers of Jesus did not follow a list of rules (Like the Rich Young Ruler – Matthew 19:16 – 22)

A. They did not follow Him because they were supposed to
B. They did not follow Him because they were forced to
C. They followed Jesus because they wanted to

II. The folowers of Jesus did not become religious (Like the Pharisees – Luke 11:42)

A. They did not change their appearance
B. They did not change their language
C. They became imitators of Jesus

III. The followers of Jesus made drastic changes in their lives to follow Jesus

A. They didn’t just adjust their daily schedule — they left their jobs, homes, & families
B. They didn’t just drop a bad habit or two — they became a separate entity on earth
C. They didn’t devote a few hours a week — they lived and died for the name of Jesus

IV. What made them follow Jesus

A. He always saw good in them. He always sees good in you (Psalm 139).
B. He loved them in spite of their sin. He loves you in spite of yours (I John 1:9 – 10).
C. He was patient when they fell. He’ll be patient when you fall (Psalm 23).
D. He offered the best life of all. He offers you the best life of all (John 10:10).

V. Don’t follow Jesus for the wrong reasons

A. Duty (I’m supposed to or God will get me)
B. Force (My parents make me)
C. Habit (I just grew up in church — Christianity is my religion)

VI. Follow Jesus because you want to

A. Spend some time with him
B. Read the four gospels — listen to the message
C. No one who actually spent real time with Jesus ever stopped following him (The Pharisees and other outsiders knew about him, but his disciples knew him personally).

Do Something About It

7. Spend time with Jesus before school starts. Read the gospels. Listen to what he has to say and watch what he does. Then make your decision. You won’t be disappointed.

8. Make some drastic changes. Don’t let your Christian life be boiled down to church attendance, a cool Bible, and a few Christian T-shirts. Devote your life to him if you choose to follow him and leave everything else behind.

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Serving Others

ACTIVITY: At this point I give each teen a bowl (about 1-2 cups) of Jello Jigglers and a plastic fork taped onto a 4-foot dowel rod. The instructions are that the jello must be eaten, they must keep their hand at then end of the dowel (without the fork), whoever empties their bowl first – wins. The object is to get the teens to figure out that they can’t feed themselves, and the only way to empty their bowl is to feed the person across from them.

TRANSITION: Tell the following story. A man went to sleep and dreamed about hell. He saw everyone in hell seated at long banquet tables loaded with food but they were all starving to death – nothing but skeletons because they were trying to feed themselves with 4-foot forks. The man’s dream then switches to Heaven, where he also sees everyone seated at long tables loaded with food and having 4-foot forks. But, these people are all happy and well-fed. They were using their forks to feed each other.

Start off by asking your group how many became Christians out of fear of eternity in hell or because they loved Jesus (which came first?) Many will say it was fear of hell and then they learned to love the Lord. I took Scripture from Jude (some save with fear snatching them out of the fire) and then from 1 John 4 (there is no fear in love) to show that although it’s OK to get saved out of fear, we can’t stay in fear. Other Scripture references included more verses from 1 John 4 regarding the love of God dwelling in those that are His, and those without His love are not of Him. Also The Gospel of John (they will know you are my disciples if you love one another). I closed with Matthew, where Jesus tells of the sheep and goats at the judgement and played Keith Green’s song by the same title (off of his album Here Am I, Send Me).

My Teens really enjoyed this meeting. They tried to come up with all sorts of ways to get the jello into their own mouths and you’ll be surprised at how creative your group is. But, it really made an impact on them to discuss what love is (as Jesus loved us we are to love others) and how that should influence our daily lives.

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Inside or Out?

Scripture:
James 1:13-18
Joshua 24:14-18

Illustration (Fish) – Lets say that this bowl represents God’s will for our lives. God’s will has boundaries. There are things we can do within God’s will and things we cannot do. Lets say that the water represents God’s living word because whatever we do in life has to be done within God’s will according to His word, right? The fish then inside the bowl represents us. (Hit the glass and turn the bowl) Satan cannot touch us within God’s will so he wants to get us out of the bowl; he wants us out in the open with no protection. So Satan plays with our desires and uses our own desires to entice us and drag us away from God’s Will.(Sprinkle fish food on the outside of the bowl. If the bowl is a little wet the food will stick and the fish will try to eat it but can’t) and soon we want what’s out in the world and if we continue chasing after the things in this world sooner or later we will make the decision to venture out on our own.

(Take the fish out of the bowl and put it on a wet wash cloth)
then read James 1:13-15

Return fish to Bowl
then read (V. 16-18)

Joshua had a similar problem with the Israelite people. They wanted what was on the outside instead of what God had for them. They wanted idols and a way of life without consequences. They were enticed. Finally Joshua had enough and he spoke before the people.

Read Joshua 24:14-15
Do you think the people changed their mind and began to serve God after Joshua made his bold stand of faith?
Read (v.16-18)
Joshua was a leader by example and we too are leaders. What does your example say at school, at home or at work. Are you living a bold faith or are you following the example of the coolest trends? Are you being enticed by popularity, money, boyfriends (girlfriends)or maybe in your life your harboring jealousy, hatred or envy. Are you more concerned about your own agenda than you are God’s will?

Closing –
We must choose daily to follow God and to refuse to be enticed by our own desires. I am trying to lose weight and it isn’t easy when my wife bakes chocolate brownies with caramel. Every day I am faced with a menu and I must make a choice. So it is with us in the spiritual realm, everyday we are faced with choices between right and wrong and our choices are the tale tell signs of who we truly serve and it is a daily decision. Who will you serve this day? Are you Inside or Out?

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All Things New

Great message for the new year…

How many of you make New Year’s resolutions? People make them because they feel like the new year is a new start, a fresh beginning to start over again.

But with God everything and every day is new!

Read Titus 3:3-7

‘Washing of Rebirth’ – NEW CREATION

Humans are a 3 part being…spirit, soul, and body.
Let’s examine this through the eyes of a computer geek. I’ll explain it in computer terms…
The outer case of the computer is the body.
The hard drive is our soul.
The operating system is our spirit.

When we are born again (rebirth, new creation), we still have the same case (body) we still have the same hard drive (soul) with all the mess on it, but God wipes out the old operating system and gives us a new one. This new operating system works far better than the old one. If we follow the manual that comes with our new operating system (the Bible) we can start to clean up our messy hard drive and get things straightened out. And the cool part is that we have 24-hour, on-site tech support!

Read Ezekiel 36:26 and 2 Corinthians 5:17

The word in the Greek that is used here for ‘new’ does not mean ‘new’ as in something new in time like, “I bought a new car, it’s a ’95.” The word means new as in new in nature, something completely different and far better. Like a caterpillar becomes something new when it becomes a butterfly. Before the metamorphosis, it was a slow moving caterpillar that was bound by gravity to walk on the ground. If it wanted to travel 1 mile it could take weeks, even months for it to get to it’s destination. But after its ‘rebirth’, it comes out a completely new creature. No longer bound to walk on the ground. It has a new freedom like it’s never had before. It can fly! It can soar high about the ground that once held it captive. If it wants to travel that same mile, it can probably do it in less than an hour. Its whole life has completely changed.

‘Renewal’ – NEW THINGS EACH DAY

God is not like a video game that you buy for your computer, play it for a while, beat the game and then just kinda get bored with it. He has a new expansion pack ready for you to download every day! He has new things to share with you every day to help you face whatever may be ahead.

Read Matthew 13:52 and Romans 12:2

The important thing to remember about this expansion pack is that you don’t just wake up with the expansion pack ready to play. You have to be willing to set aside the time to go on to the Internet and download the expansion pack.

Well, the same thing with God, you don’t just wake up renewed everyday. It takes some work and discipline on your part. You need to set aside that time with God every day to read, pray and just talk with God, and as you do that, He will show you new things, teach you new things, and help you in whatever way you need.

Mercy – NEW MERCIES EACH DAY

Another cool thing is that God has given us a reset button. If our computer crashes because of all the junk on our hard drive, God has shown us how to reboot our computer, run a scan disk to find the problem and then he’ll tell us how to fix it.

Read 1 John 1:9 and Lamentations 3:22-23

End by giving an invitation for salvation, rededication, or just a general renewed commitment…

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Anger

Anger: Bible Base: John 2 13-22 Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Way in:
Demonstrate what pent up anger can do to us.
Give each member of the group a plastic 35mm film canister and a piece (about one third of a tablet) of Alka-Seltzer. They half fill the canister with water, then, all together, drop the Alka Seltzer in and push on the lid. Place all canisters on a tray. Explain that sometimes, when we get angry, the feelings inside of us well up, until….
After 20-30 secs each canister should then “blow their top” giving an impressive display.
Today we will be looking at anger, what it does to us, how we cope, and how Jesus displayed his anger.

Introduction of Anger.
Draw up Four Faces of Anger
(For illustrations I used pictures of faces showing the kind of anger – Clipart on Windows2000/XP has some, search on “anger”)

INJUSTICE
A rule, a belief, or an objective is being threatened or abused. Unfairness.

INJURY
You are disrespected, rejected, or ignored. Sense of insult or humiliation. Can be physical or psychological.

INVASION
Your freedom or personal space is being restricted or violated. Your identity is being attacked.

INTENTION
You have energy and determination to do something about injustices, injuries, and invasions. You challenge the status-quo.

– Get group to suggest situations that give rise to each facet.
– Which one, mostly, causes them to get angry?

Bible: John 2 13-22 read together as group.
– What was Jesus angry about?
– Did he direct his anger at certain people, or what they were doing?
– What “face of anger” was Jesus displaying.
– What does this reading tell us about getting angry and being a Christian?

Drama
First explain that when we get angry, we react in two different ways:
– Purposeful – showing self-control, and a degree of consideration for others.
– Spontaneous – Unplanned with little or no self-control.

Also our anger expressed can be:
– Constructive – where we respect other peoples’ feelings and boundaries, and don’t threaten either.
– Destructive – where you protect your own identity and violate other peoples’ feelings and identity, deliberately or unconsciously.

Hand out drama pieces to four pairs and give them a chance to rehearse.
Each drama piece shows an angry parent confronting a teenager who has come home late. Get them to work out whether this is on the doorstep when the teenager comes home, or the next morning. Each drama will portray one box in the matrix.


Draw matrix :
ððððððððððððððððPurposefulððððSpontaneous
ððððððððððððððð|————|————-|
ððððððððððððððð|ðððððððððððð|ððððððððððððð|
Constructiveððð|ðððððððððððð|ððððððððððððð|
ððððððððððððððð|————|————-|
ððððððððððððððð|ðððððððððððð|ððððððððððððð|
Destructiveðððð|ðððððððððððð|ððððððððððððð|
ððððððððððððððð|————|————-|

Drama Pieces

Purposeful and Constructive Anger……….
I’m angry. I let you go out on Friday night with the understanding you’d be home by eleven o’clock. Or, if you were going to be late, we agreed you’d call beforehand. When I didn’t hear from you, I was very worried. What happened? I want to talk to you about you going out, and the consequences if this happens again.

Purposeful and Destructive Anger……….
I can’t believe how irresponsible you were last night. You didn’t call. You made me sick with worry. Do you expect me to trust you with going out late at night now? We’ll have to see when you can go out like that again.

Spontaneous and Constructive Anger……….
What the heck has happened! I was expecting a call. I’m really angry. I stayed up because I couldn’t sleep. (Teenager tries to explain, but parent is not really listening and interrupts with emotional voice) I’m too upset to talk about this now. I’m going to bed. We’ll discuss this incident, and the rules for you going out, later on in the morning.

Spontaneous and Destructive Anger…………
(In a rage) You inconsiderate idiot! I should slap you! You silly, stupid… I’m here, scared to death, not knowing what has happened to you. You could have had an accident, been raped… How should I know! Do you call? No, you couldn’t care less. You just think about yourself, self, self… I’ll give you something to think about! You’ll never ever go out late again, d’you hear! Get out of my sight!

Get each pair to present their drama.

After each piece ask the group what word would best describe how the parent behaved. (Write it in the matrix).
Tips:
Purposeful and Constructive – Assertion
Purposeful and Destructive – Hostility
Spontaneous and Constructive – Passion, Suffering.
Spontaneous and Destructive – Rage

– How did Jesus behave?
– Why?
– What would be different if Jesus had behaved differently?
– How do they behave when they get angry?
– Does the Bible story teach them anything about how to behave when you get angry?

Quiet Time.
(Play some relaxing classical music and light a candle)
Think about the times people have got angry with us, and why.
Think about the times we got angry with someone and how we behaved.
Share with God any hurt you have inside
Admit to God where you think you might have done wrong.

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HillBilly Hangout – Activity Night

We are having a “Hillbilly Hangout” for our young adults class. (please excuse the reinforced stereotypes throughout, but it’s all done in good fun!) We made up a flyer beforehand and handed it out. It went something like this:

Hilbily Hangowt!

Place:
Time:

Onli Hilbilys aloud. That meens thet no won can com unles thay ar a bon I fiid hilbily an LOOK lak won!

all hb’s nid to bring a can a soup an a frend to cher it.

hilbilys ownly!

The kids need to dress as a hillbilly and bring a can of soup. All of the cans of soup will be mixed in a big pot and served as hillbilly stew. (its usually quite good believe it or not!). You may want to add biscuits or cornbread to the menu.

Games:

Apple Dance: Download and burn some free bluegrass music off of MP3.com. This will be the music used for the apple dance. Object of the game is to get two people to dance with an apple held between their foreheads. A “caller” (the person that says “swing your partner” and “two steps left”) can spice the competition up a bit by calling out feats that may be difficult. Last couple with an undropped apple is the winner.

Potato Game: Team relay game where players must pick up potatoes from a chair using their lower extremities (no hands) and carry it to a bucket and drop it. a team member can place the potato on a chair for them, but thats all the help they get. Make up rules accordingly

Mountain Dew Drinking Contest: Most or fastest. You pick.

Greased Pig: If you can obtain live piglet and grease it down with solid Crisco vegetable oil this one would be CLASSIC to get on video.

Challenge Outline:

Title- God Used Hillbillies

Purpose – God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

1. God used a farmer. David. 1Samuel 16:19
2. God used fishermen. Peter/James. Matthew 4:18.
3. God used a carpenter. Jesus. Matthew 13:55

Closing Verse and thoughts

1Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

Adapt to your own group!

Here’s some of the things you may need or want to complete the evening:

Apples
Potatoes
Buckets
Mountain Dew
Decorations – Hay Bales, Section for photos
Burner for the Hillbilly stew
Prizes
Certificates of award

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Overcoming the ‘Fear Factor’

(This study uses the reality show ‘Fear Factor’ as an illustration. If you yourself are not familiar with the show, you can check it out Mondays at 8:00pm? on ‘NBC’, or you can check out the website (www.nbc.com/Fear_Factor), which may also give you some ideas on a stunt you could have the members of the group try out!)

Begin the meeting by having volunteers do a ‘Fear Factor’-style stunt (i.e. race to eat a ‘disgusting’ food concoction, or find their way through an obstabcle course bind-folded, etc.

Next, if possible, you can show a clip of ‘Fear Factor’ (for any members of the group who may not be too familiar with the show) Point out how the contestants faced their fears in order to win the prize.

Engage members in discussions about some of the ‘fears’ they face (can be anything: fear of the dark, small spaces, snakes, heights, speaking in front of audiences, etc.)

Then ask: Have you ever let fear STOP you from doing something? (i.e.: fully serving God, ministering for God, WITNESSING?) If so, remembering these 3 simple points may help you overcome the ‘Fear Factor’:

1. COURAGE IS COMMANDED
– Deut. 31:1-6 (Be strong and courageeous. Do not be afraid or terrified, the Lord your God goes with you – He will never leave nor forsake you’)
-2 Chr. 32:6-8
-Ezra 10:4 (Rise up, this matter is in your hands. So take courage and do it!)

2. POWER IS PROMISED
-Acts 1:8 (you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, and to all the ends of the earth)
-Mat. 19:26 (with man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible)
– Acts 4:13

3. WE ARE REWARDED
– Luke 18:29-30 (no one who has sacrificed for the sake of the Kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in the age and in the age to come, eternal life)
– Rev. 22:12 (Behold I am coming soon. My reward is with me, and I will give according to what he has done)
– 2 Cor. 9:6 (Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will reap generously)

Conclude by having members share any stories they may have (or you may have) of how overcoming a fear proved beneficial. (i.e. someone overcoming the fear of talking to someone about God, then when they did it, the person was grateful, or helped them make a decision to follow Christ, or helped them get through a tough time, etc.)

End off by sharing the phrase always quoted at the end of each ‘Fear Factor’ episode: “CONGRATULATIONS…EVIDENTLY FEAR IS NOT A FACTOR FOR YOU!!!

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Broken Yet Beautiful

Supplies Needed:
A Hammer
A large board
A heavy duty plastic baggy
A glass mosaic candle holder
A package of Glass mosaic tiles (at least one for each student)
Tea light candles (At least one for each student)
*I was able to buy a kit that makes two mosaic votive candle holders at a craft store. I then put one of the two together and used the second set of tiles for the illustration.*

I started the lesson right out with reading through the first main scripture passage.

2 Samuel 13:1-20 (Tamar and Amnon)
I had them read through the passage, kinda dividing it up between kids in little pieces and after each kid read theirs, I brought out some key points about what is going on in the passage. I like to try to give the kids an understanding of any contextual stuff that we might not know about as well as trying to get them to put themselves in their positions, asking what their reactions would be, how they would feel, etc. I won’t try to tell you too much about what things to say about the passage but here are just a couple things that I used as key points to the lesson:

Tamar Before the Rape:
Was kind hearted – cared for Amnon in his sickness
Was proper and modest – dressed as the virgin daughters of the king were required with her arms covered
Was beautiful – mentioned right off in the beginning
Was a virgin
Was obedient – Her father told her to take care of her brother and she was obedient to her father’s wishes.

Tamar after the rape:
Was not a virgin
Bared her arms in grief, lost her modesty as an outward sign of what had happened to her.
Her heart was filled with grief, overshadowing any kindness, compassion, obedience that was there before.
She was “desolate” – she lived her life shut away from people from then on because of her shame. This was not something she recovered from.

It was not Tamar’s fault she was raped, she did nothing wrong and yet the rape broke her in so many ways that she didn’t recover from it. This is a picture of how all of us can be. We are broken people because of four things:
1. Other people’s sins against us
2. Our own sins
3. Lies of the Devil (You are ugly, you aren’t smart enough, etc.)
4. Circumstances beyond any human control (losing a loved one in a car crash, etc.)

At this point I gave them all little tea light candles and had them light them and I also gave each of them a glass tile from the kit. Then I turned out all the lights and read the first situation off my list that can cause teens these days to be broken. After I read it I had the first person come up and put their piece of glass inside a heavy duty plastic baggy and hit it with a hammer to break it, then blow their candle out. Then I read another one and had the next person come up. Just continue to do this until everyone has broken their glass and blown their candle out. I actualy had more people than I had items on my list, so I did a couple people at a time a couple times. Just have to play that by ear really. Here is the list I had:

People at school make fun of you.
One of your parents is an acoholic.
Someone abuses you.
No one cared enough to protect you from being abused.
You’ve given yourself away hoping to find love and now you just feel empty inside.
Your dad or mom tells you you’re stupid.
You believe it when they tell you you’re stupid.
You started drinking to dull the pain and now you’re an alcoholic.
You’ve lost someone you love.
You were raped.

These are just ten things I used, I had one more but I can’t recall what it was now, and if you want you can change any of these or add some to them. Just to let you know, the kids weren’t into it at first, they were giggly and not real focused and I thought at first, “man, this isnt going to have an impact, it’s going to flop.” But by the time we got three or four into it, they were really quiet and it was hitting home. So don’t stress if they don’t react the way you expect right away. It’s good to start with the less severe examples and move up as you go through your list.

Once the candles were all blown out and we were through the list I pointed out how before we went through these things the room had been lit up by all our candles, but as we went through the light started to die out with each person. Just like Tamar, our hearts can be covered in darkness because of the things we suffer through. But there was something Tamar missed. Take out the mosaic votive candle holder, light the candle, set it in the middle of the room/table or whatever, then read Isaiah 61 out loud to them. Explain that God can take their mourning and turn it to sadness and that he uses the broken pieces of our life to make something beautiful. Just because a thing is broken, does not mean it is worthless. Also point out that they won’t be the same as they were before they were broken, just like we couldn’t take the broken pieces of glass in the baggy and put them back together just like they were before. But God still sees them as beautiful and has a plan for them. I closed by asking them to find an adult and asking them to pray with us for whatever they recognized has broken them, they could share it if they wanted, if not then we just prayed a general prayer over them and while we were praying I had the song “Hold Me Now” by Jen Knapp playing. And that’s all there is to that lesson.

Just a couple pieces of advice on this, put the baggy on a board so the glass won’t scratch your table up, and you may want to have some small light on in the room too so that you can still read from your list. Maybe a night light or something, we had a little electric candle on the piano which was behind where i was standing so it was perfect.

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It’s Your Thang – #1

It’s Your Thang – Introduction

Scripture quotations are from the GOD’S WORD translation, used by permission.
GOD’S WORD is a copyrighted work of God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society. Quotations are used by permission.
Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society. All rights reserved.

The purpose of this session is to introduce youth to the concept that God has called each one of them to a specific ministry — works that God has prepared in advance for them to do (Ephesians 2:10). Future sessions will assist them in discovering their spiritual gifts, identifying and confirming their interests, identifying and confirming their abilities, examining their heart for what really moves them, and finally in motivating them to develop their own personal ministry based on all of these things.

Activate Your Audience

What is it?

Ahead of time, take a video camera or regular camera with a strong zoom lens and take very close-up shots of regular, every day items that have a purpose. Examples include a paper clip, coffee cup, water-fountain drain, clock, shoe, etc. Get some close-ups of some off-the wall stuff if you can, like the inside of someone’s nose or ear, roadkill, etc. If you don’t have a video camera or camera capable of taking really close-up shots of objects, go to a local bookstore and ask the clerk to help you find a book that has close-up shots of objects like these. During your meeting, show the close-up shots to your youth and let them guess what the items are. Sometimes they will be right, sometimes they will be way off. Have fun with it.

During the study, you can refer back to this activity by asking what each object’s purpose is.

Bring them Closer

Creative Variations

Break your group up into smaller groups of three to six people. Give each group a collection of small objects that have a purpose (paper clips, staples, paper towels, toilet paper, cups, etc.) Instruct each group to do something totally creative with their objects — something that has likely never been done before. For instance, making a paper clip chain is probably not unusual, but making a paper clip butterfly is. Give each group an appropriate amount of time to finish. Allow each group to share what they have made.

During the study, you can refer back to this activity by explaining that ordinary objects, like ordinary people, can be used in more ways than just one.

Music

Lead your group to sing some songs that focus on God’s plan for their lives

Communicate the Word: It’s Your Thang (Ephesians 2:10)

God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

I. God has made you what you are

A. God wanted to create you

Illustration: Imagine walking through a dog pound. Before your eyes are hundreds of young puppies and dogs that are less than a week away from being euthanized. Your parents have allowed you to choose one. How will you choose? Discuss answers if possible — notice the wide variety of choices. Once you chose a dog, what would you do? Discuss. How would you react if you were stuck in a cage waiting on someone to pick you, and someone stopped and kneeled down at your cage? Discuss. When you finally choose a dog, it will be the one that you want the most.

Explanation: When God was the only thing that existed in the universe, He chose to create other living beings that He could be friends with. He could have chosen anything — but He chose you. He looked at the person you could be and said, “I’m going to create him/her!” He created you because He wanted to.

Application: Because God wanted to create you, you can be sure that He didn’t just abandon you after you came into existence. He not only wanted to create you, but He continues to want to be with you. If you went to a pound and carefully selected a puppy to take home with you, you wouldn’t abandon it once you got home. You would feed it and spend time with it and give it a unique name. God has chosen you, created you, and He wants to spend time with you because you are unique. No one can touch God’s heart the way you can.

B. God created you with a purpose (Psalm 139:13 – 16)

Illustration: Inside of your body is an organ known as the appendix. No one knows what this body part is for. It’s attached to one end of your large intestine, but it doesn’t seem to serve any purpose. In fact, often people get sick and have to have their appendix removed. People seem to do better without it than with it. How would you feel if you were an appendix? Discuss.

Explanation: Some of you might feel like an appendix. You don’t really know what your purpose in the world is. In fact, you feel like if you were removed from the world, no one would even notice or maybe they would be better off. The fact is, though, that you were created with a very specific purpose — a purpose unlike anyone else’s. The real question is, have you discovered your purpose? Does anyone know what your purpose in life is? Discuss.

Application: God is the only one who knows what your purpose is, so He is the one you must go to to find out. Don’t settle for a normal worldly purpose. Many people just flip through life’s little catalog of career choices — I can be a doctor or a lawyer or a supermodel or a trash collector. But is your career really your purpose? No. Your purpose is a lot bigger than a job, it’s something totally incredible and unique. Your destiny is to change the world, to change people’s lives, to live for God. Are you going to flip through the catalog of current choices, or are you going to ask God what your purpose is? Discuss. He will show you if you listen to Him (Bible) and talk to Him (prayer).

II. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do

A. Our purpose has to do with Jesus (John 15:1 – 5)

Illustration: Let’s say you work for Taco Bell. What is your purpose? Discuss. Whether you are the manager or working at the register, what does your purpose always relate to? Discuss. Your purpose will always relate to serving Mexican food to the customer in order to make money. What would happen if you told your boss that you ought to start serving french fries? fried chicken? burgers? Discuss. What would happen if you brought video games to work and played them in the back? Discuss. Your boss will only want you at Taco bell if you serve the purpose. The purpose is limited to Taco Bell’s goals.

Explanation: Once you become a Christian, you “work for God,” so to speak. Your job is all day, everyday. God’s goal is to help every person hear about Jesus, accept Jesus, walk with Jesus, and imitate Jesus. So, what are you going to spend your time doing? Everything you do must somehow fit into God’s plan. That’s why, whenever you make a decision, you should always ask yourself first, “What would Jesus do in this situation?”

Application: Every person in Taco Bell does not do the same thing. Some take orders, others make food, some manage the back, others clean. But, everyone works toward the common goal. God is not going to make all of us do the same boring thing. What He has called you to do will be specific, fun, interesting, and worth your while — but it must fit into His purpose. So, today/tonight and in the weeks ahead we will be discussing what your specific job is — your ministry. And you have a ministry. Just as the Taco Bell boss will train you and show you what you are supposed to do, so God will train you and show you just what you are supposed to do.

B. God’s plan is for our lives to be filled with good works that He already has planned out

Illustration: Think about the movie “Babe.” He was a pig with some extraordinary intelligence. His master, the farmer, worked with him and trained him to be a sheep pig. Normally, a pig would have done nothing more than eat, get fat, and become bacon. But Babe, because he was special and unique, was chosen by the farmer to do a specific job. Fortunately, Babe obeyed the farmer. In spite of the laughter of the crowd at the sheep dog contest at the thought of a pig participating, Babe showed the farmer and the world that he could do the job.

Explanation: God wants all of us to be like Babe — to listen to what He says and follow His instructions instead of just eating, drinking, getting fat, and dying.

Application: You are as unique as Babe. You may laugh, and the people around you may laugh, but God has some extraordinary task for you to do. You may seem out of place, and your ministry may be a little weird, but God has already got the details worked out, so just listen to what God tells you.

In the next few weeks, you are going to get the tools necessary to find out just what your niche — your ministry — is in this youth group and in your world. We’re going to look at your spiritual gifts, your interests, your abilities, your heart, and when we’re done, you’re going to be expected to announce to us what your purpose is. Five weeks from today/tonight, I will ask each one of you to tell us what you special ministry is. So be thinking and praying.

Do Something About It

Summarize: God has a unique plan for your life. He created you with this purpose in mind. No one else but you can do what God has called you to do. If you decide to accept God’s plan for your life, you will find your life to be fun, exciting, unique, and fulfilling. It’s Your Thang. Whatcha gonna do?

Between now and the time God shows you what His purpose for you is while you are in this youth group, here is what you can do to prepare yourselves.

1. Take the One-Minute Prayer Challenge. Spend one minute each day asking God to show you what your purpose is — why you are here.

2. Take the One-Minute Bible Challenge. Spend one minute each day reading God’s Word and asking Him to show you what His will for your life is.

3. Spend some time thinking about what you have done in the youth group in the past that has really meant a lot to you. Write down your most memorable event in the youth group, and be prepared to share that next week. The purpose of this exercise is to introduce the lesson on spiritual gifts next week. A Christian youth will feel the most useful when he/she is exercising his/her own spiritual gift(s). For instance, someone with the spiritual gift of service may get easily bored during fellowships, but really gets excited about mission trips. Someone with the spiritual gift of teaching may hate mission trips, but really likes to learn from youth talks and share biblical ideas with others.

You’ll understand more each week why we call it your “THANG.”

Close in prayer.

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