This week we talked about the Holy Spirit and its impact on our lives as followers of Jesus.
The Spirit is, first and foremost, God’s personal presence.
The Spirit is a person and not merely a force. But, when we start on page one of the Bible, before creation ever even began, we see a depiction of the spirit of God hovering over the dark, disordered waters of the earth, ready to begin spreading goodness and creation. In the Bible, any time we see a description of the spirit of God, such as what is depicted in the first few verses of the Bible, the Hebrew word "ruakh" is used. Ruakh can describe an invisible, powerful energy, and necessary for life, making "The Spirit" a fitting description for the Spirit of God.
When Jesus appeared to His closest followers, He breathed into them the Holy Spirit, empowering them too to spread God's goodness throughout the world. Soon after that, God's spirit comes over all of His followers. Today, through Christ and the power He has given His followers, God's spirit continues to hover over a dark and chaotic world, slowly healing it and working towards the day when it is restored to its former glory
When we think about who God is, its complex. It hurts our brains sometimes. A good way to see a little bit of who God is, is in the people he made in His image. We talked about how God created people in his image to rule the world with Him, create beauty and good things in this world.
People being made in the image of God has two important things for us to consider.
1. Because we are made in the image of God, we are beautiful, loved and made with purpose in this world. Feelings of worthlessness and despair are not part of God's design for our lives.
2. Because people are made in the image of God, as we look at others, we don't see them as lower than us or worthless. But as people who reflect Gods image to us.
As followers of Jesus we see Jesus reflected in our lives through the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
As we continue to move forward in this season, there are many tensions, worries and concerns. I continue to take every day at a time and I am grateful for every opportunity to meet with students in person in this season and build relationships and find a life rooted in Jesus together.
In youth group so far we have gone over Psalm 23 and how it shows us the picture of a life following Jesus. We talked about the whole Bible pointing us to Jesus. We see that when the Psalmist refers to the Lord as shepherd, we experience Jesus as our shepherd in this life. Christ proclaims this parallel in John 10 when Jesus tell us He is the good shepherd. So just as David proclaims the Lord, we proclaim Christ, who is the Lord of all.
So for middle school students we talked about life with Jesus as our shepherd, as you work through the Psalm we saw in Jesus we find rest, comfort, peace, support and love forever.
Now, we begin to make a shift in conversation, and last night I posed the question, why would we follow Jesus and let him be our shepherd, and how do we experience all the things Psalm 23 mentions? I find many middle school students begin to ponder this question and sometimes it begins to confuse them, and so it is my conviction to make the gospel explicit to students, rather than assumed. So we asked the question last night. We discussed that Jesus came to the world with good news. And now we will move forward in weeks to come to discuss what exactly is the "good news" Jesus talks about.
Grace and peace friends,
We are off an running! I don't know about you, but I have felt like fall has been a whirlwind so far and it's just beginning! Although it has felt that way, I am ready for more of a routine and cooler weather.
Sunday school is up a going - I like it being after the service, I hope you and your students do too. 5th/6th grade is studying the old testament people and stories and 7th/8th grade is looking at the tradition of the Reformed Church and will soon move into big questions about God, Jesus, the Church, the bible, etc.
Our first youth group was a lot of fun and getting to know each other. We talked about expectations, hopes and goals for the semester. We are a smaller group than last year but the other leaders and I look forward to the opportunity to build strong relationships with your students! Each week, on Tuesday's I will post what is coming up in the lesson for the week so that you are prepared to talk at home about what we covered in youth group!
Here we go!
Another program year has come and gone and I want to take a moment to reflect and say thank you! Without your support of your student and myself, this ministry wouldn't be possible. Thank you for trusting me and my leaders to walk with your students, to teach and learn, to answer hard questions, to answer silly questions and to have lots of fun! I love each of your students and feel so blessed for the opportunity to know them! It is my desire to provide a space where kids feel safe, valued and listened to and I hope that is what Sunday School, IMPACT and WyldLife have been.
We are graduating an amazing group of 8th grade students who have grown so much in their faith and as individuals these last three years and again I just feel so grateful to have walked with them! I cannot wait to see the work the God continues to do in each of their lives.
As we head into summer it is my goal to offer lots of opportunities for students to continue to plug in but please don't feel like your student needs to be at everything! Also, I am always willing to give your kids a ride if you aren't able to so please don't hesitate to ask. You can find our summer dates - more will be added soon - under the Middle School -> Schedule Information tab.
Last night we talked about prayer! We discussed the importance of prayer, how to pray and how praying effects our relationship with God. Sometimes we don't know how to pray, or we only pray when we need something, so we challenged students to think about praying to thank God, to ask for help, to pray for other people, to pray for the world, to pray at school when we see someone struggling, really just encouraging them to think about praying all the time! Not just at dinner or bedtime because the more we talk with God, the stronger our relationship will be with Him!
Questions to discuss:
When do you pray now?
How can you enhance your prayer life? What other times can you pray?
Do you know what to say when you pray or do you need help with knowing what to say?
Lesson Title: Jesus Treats the Least as Family - Jesus heals a sick woman and calls her "Daughter"
Scripture: Mark 5: 21-34
Kim lead our lesson time last night sharing the story of the bleeding woman. This lesson continued to focus on how Jesus interacted with and loved the people in society who others saw as outcasts.
"Instead, on his way to heal an important guy’s daughter, Jesus stopped to chit-chat with an outcast. It seems ridiculous! But notice what he called her: Daughter. Jesus went out of the way for this woman, not only healing her but also bringing her back in from the fringes of society. To Jesus, worldly power doesn’t matter. Faith matters. And while he honored and responded to Jairus’ faith, Jesus stopped to show that he has a special place in his heart for the least."
You can talk with your student about who in their lives, their schools are the outcasts and how they and other treat them. Is it how Jesus would treat them?
Our guest speaker, Todd Krygsheld, shared with us about how Jesus instructs us and shows us that we are to care for the least. But not out of pity, or to look good, or to impress God, but because all people need Jesus. He challenged the way students see people and encouraged students to see people as people first, not what it is they are struggling with. Some of what Todd shared was challenging for students to grasp so I encourage you to ask them what they thought about what Todd shared. We will also continue to discuss what Todd shared at IMPACT this week.
Lesson Title: Jesus Releases the Potential of the Least - Jesus empowers fishermen to go on a mission
Scripture: Mark 1: 16-20 & Mark 6: 7-13
We continued the conversation last night about who Jesus interacted with and what that can teach us. We focused in on Jesus' disciples, who He called to be His disciples, how He called them and then how He sent them out. Jesus chose ordinary, everyday guys to be "fishers of men"; He didn't pick the prestigious or famous, the people who followed all the rules or had a lot of money. But most importantly Jesus picked people who He saw had potential. We talked about what potential is and if we have ever been encouraged by someone because they saw potential in us. We also did an activity to think outside the box where students had pick survival items that they wouldn't necessary think to pick typically. It was really fun to see the creative ways kids thought to use dental floss, a CD, and a pair or socks in order to 'survive'.
Questions to continue the conversation:
1. What potential does God see in you?
2. Has anyone in your life helped you achieve your potential? How did they help you?
3. What kinds of things has God called you to do as a Christ-follower?
4. What holds your potential back?
5. How can you overcome the obstacles that hold your potential back?
My name is Josiah from Grand Rapids Michigan and I follow Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Also middle schoolers are cool.