This week we talked about the condition of our hearts and whether our hearts are rooted in good soil, God's truth, or poor soil, temptation, distraction, lies. Kent led students in an activity where the goal was to find 5 particular objects hidden in the "soil" (oatmeal) amongst other objects. One person was blindfolded and they were searching through the "soil" while their partner without the blindfold gave them directions and could see the objects. This was a great object lesson about our lives and how sometimes we have a lot of clutter that gets in the way and we often feel lost and confused, but God sees us and knows us and knows our hearts and reminds us of who He created us to be. A son or daughter of Christ, beloved and beautiful. And if we open our hearts to God, we will hear this truth and be able to sift through the mess in our lives. Consider asking your student, what is one thing you can do this week to exchange any bad soil in your heart for the good soil Jesus offers?
We invited Pastor Scott to join us at IMPACT next week so we can say thank you to him. We brainstormed questions to ask him and will have time to celebrate and remember how Pastor Scott has impacted our lives.
Happy Thursday! Last night we joined the congregation for part of the Ash Wednesday service. In the service everyone received a stone and this stone represented something that we cling too, that we spend a lot of time doing, or something that is interfering with our relationship with God. We were all challenged to think of what that thing is in our life and commit to fasting from it for the 40 days of lent. We then placed the stones at the foot of the cross, signifying our commitment to letting that "thing" go. We then received an a cross of ashes on our foreheads which reminds us of our brokenness, our need for Jesus and the grace of God. Many students shared what they were going to fast from when we debriefed after the service. Some of these included Instagram, candy, YouTube, video games, bread, and negativity to name a few. Talk with your student about what they are giving up and help keep them accountable! Maybe consider joining them with something you will fast from as well!
This past Wednesday we dove into the transfiguration of Jesus from Matthew 17: 1- 13! This is a somewhat complicated text but the main point is that Jesus is who he says he is, the son of God and all we have to do is listen to him. We talked about people in our lives who when they speak, everyone in the room stops to listen. Some of these people included grandparents, teachers, us leaders, and friends because students said they respect these people, these people have experiences that we can learn from, and that these people can sometimes be loud (friends). We also talked about expectations and how we have lots of competing expectations as Christians. But ultimately, that when we follow Christ, all he expects is for us to have faith! So we see how the disciples knew Jesus was God from the time they had spent with him but that they still doubted from time to time. Here, though, in this moment (Matthew 17:1-3), they experience his realness on a gut level. Talk with your student about this... see if they have had a moment where they really felt God's presence, where they knew God was the real deal. Maybe this was God working through others or maybe this is a more personal encounter. And if they don't feel yet like God is who he says he is, talk through why that might be? Questions, doubt, busyness, not listening, etc.
We started a new unit of lessons last night! See the parent guide below for lesson descriptions, questions to continue the conversation and activities you can do with your student!
Our lesson last night came from Matthew 14:22-36 where Jesus walks on water and Peter steps out of the boat to meet him. When his eyes were fixed on Jesus, Peter walked on water! But as soon as he took his eyes off Jesus, he began to sink. We talked about how Jesus wants us to keep our eyes fixed on him but that with life's distractions we sometimes take our eyes of Jesus, just as Peter did. And when we do that, we begin to sink, to struggle, to doubt, to wonder if God really is with us. In order to understand what it's like to try and keep our eyes on Jesus through distractions, students had the chance to wear noise canceling headphones while others tried to communicate different actions to perform. Our relationship with God is sometimes like that. His voice his muffled, distant, or hard to understand when we are distracted by friends, busy schedules, technology, sports, etc. Not that these things are bad but if we don't make time for God, we will sink, just as Peter did. Ask your student what distractions they encounter and how they can calm some of those distractions.
My name is Josiah from Grand Rapids Michigan and I follow Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Also middle schoolers are cool.