March: Honesty

On the one hand, honesty is simple.  It always involves a choice.
We choose to tell the truth or to lie. Honesty is ordinary, too.
Because every one of us, from Adam and Eve to you and I, chooses to be honest or dishonest on a daily basis.

On the other hand, honesty (and therefore dishonesty) is complex and intriguing.  You can be honest (or dishonest) in your words, actions, and attitudes.  You can be honest (or dishonest) in what you don’t say or do, as well. You can set out to lie, and you can go along with someone else’s lie.
And then there are the multitudes of motives for two-faced, duplicitous, and deceptive dealings.

So simple, honesty, but not always easy! Else no one would weave him- or herself into a tangled web in the first place.

Which is why, come March, we’ll be talking about honesty and some of the very practical reasons God teaches and guides us to be honest:

March 7

When you’re not truthful, you hurt the people you should care about most.Joseph’s brothers practiced so many forms of deceit in that whole sell-your-brother-as-a-slave episode you’ll weave quite a web recounting them all. (Genesis 37; 45)

March 14

Lying to hurt someone else really hurts YOU. Haman’s perfidious plot backfired on him. (Esther 3-5; 7)

March 21
Truthfulness builds friendships; dishonesty tears them down. Jesus gave even wee, little, fraudulent Zacchaeus a do-over. (Luke 19)

March 28

You can lie so much you forget what matters. Treacherous Judas forgot, or deceived himself, about what matters most. (Matthew 26; 27)

We hope that you come out and join us in March as we take a look at Honesty at Sunday Night Live. Remember, you can come to dinner (downstairs) and then come upstairs for SNL. The doors open downstairs at 5:30 with the meal beginning at 5:45. Our doors open a little before 6:00 for fellowship and we kick off at 6:15.

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Parents of Teens: Faith & Feelings

Parents, here is a discussion that you can have with your teen in regards to faith & feelings.

Background

All of us struggle some to line up our emotional responses to life with our stated beliefs about God’s greatness, power, goodness, forgiveness, and His absolute love for us. Teens, though—fueled by a cocktail of hormonal change and hyper-cultural connectivity—may find it even more baffling to allow their trust in God to lead them to peace of mind, freedom from anger and fear, and a general sense of joyfulness.

Worse, as this recent U.K. survey points out, many teens have a hard time talking about their stressed out or anxious feelings. What can parents do to help?

For one, we can open up about our own emotions and how our faith in God helps us to control and/or experience them. We’re pulling our talking points this week from Philippians 4:4-9. That passage tells us to “rejoice,” to reject anxiety, to practice gratitude, to expect God’s peace, and to manage our emotions by managing our thoughts.

You’ll find it helpful to read through the passage and maybe to read it together with your son or daughter. We hope a few of the questions below will lead to a worthwhile conversation with your child about faith and feelings.

Talking Points

  • How would you say you’re feeling, lately, emotionally speaking? How would you guess I’m feeling emotionally, based on the way I’ve acted, lately? Do you like to talk about emotions? Why or why not?
  • Which emotions do you tend to experience most often, would you say? [Parent: Be willing to talk about your own emotions. Reinforce the idea that emotions include things like anger, fear, happiness, sadness, depression, bitterness, rage, and worry, for starters.]
  • Do you think God cares about how we’re feeling emotionally? Do you think He expects us to feel certain emotions more than others? Does He expect or want us to feel happy all of the time?
  • Do you think God cares as much about what we’re feeling inside as what we’re doing outside? Does He care as much about our emotions as our actions? Why or why not?
  • As Christians, should we be the happiest people on earth? Our sins are forgiven. We will be with God forever in heaven. We have power to do good. Why do you think we still feel sad?
  • Do the Christians you know tend to be happier than other people or not so much? Why do you think that is?
  • Philippians 4 talks a lot about our emotions. Rejoicing is not exactly the same as being happy. Paul writes that we should rejoice in the Lord always. What does it mean to you to rejoice or be joyful?
  • Jesus and Paul, among others, expressed feeling sad. To feel sad is not a sin. Have you ever had the sense of feeling sad and joyful at the same time? How is that possible, do you think?
  • Philippians also tells us to build a reputation for gentleness. Someone who is gentle is not extreme in their responses, including their emotional responses. What would be some examples of extreme emotional responses? What are some of the unhealthy or sinful choices we might make if our emotions are extreme or out of control? How do we tend to think about people who are extreme in their emotional responses?
  • Do you or any of your friends have a reputation for gentleness or having good control over their responses to life? Can you feel big emotions and still be known as a gentle person?
  • Philippians contains a hard command: “Do not be anxious about anything.” Worry is something everyone feels sometimes. How big of a deal do you think worry is in our family? Among your group of friends?
  • What kinds of things do we tend to get worried about the most?
  • Why can worry be so hard to control? [Parent: Emphasize this idea: Giving up worry requires letting go of something emotionally before that thing is fixed or resolved. That’s hard for everyone to do sometimes.]
  • The Bible doesn’t just tell us to stop worrying. It gives an alternative: “Ask God for help. Repeat. Tell Him thank you for everything He has done for you already. Repeat.” How could we do a better job as a family of trading in our worry for feelings of trusting God and feelings of gratitude? Is there anything we could ask for God’s help with together right now?
  • The next verse in Philippians promises that when we give our requests to God, with thanksgiving, He will give us a peace that “transcends all understanding.” Have you ever felt a peace like that? If so, can you describe it, at all?
  • Why do you think God gives us peace instead of just fixing all of the things that we’re worried about right away?
  • Philippians 4:8 seems to say that the key to controlling our emotions is to control our thoughts, what we let our minds dwell on. Have you noticed that thinking about certain things tends to make you feel particular emotions?
  • Have you noticed any music, games, books, or TV shows leading you to any particular, lingering emotions? Do you think we give our media enough credit for the way it leaves us feeling inside?
  • What are some things we could choose to think about that fit the list in Phiilippians 4:8 of being “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy”? How do you think you would feel if you thought about those kinds of things most of the time?
  • Does this mean we should never think about any negative things? If not, how can we think about negative, harsh things through a filter that might fit this list of positive attributes?

Parents

Last Sunday, we made a “switch-up” for the Parent Chat class. We are trying to see what would be the best fit for class and last Sunday Night we tried a Rob Bell video and we showed his first video – Rain.

The parents seemed to really enjoy this format and we are going to take a look at another video next week. We are going to continue to monitor the class and get feedback from parents and see what the parents want.

Rain really “touched” a few of the parents.

Here is the summary of Rain (from the video):

Things don’t always work out the way we want them to, or the way we think they will. Sometimes, we don’t even see it coming. We get hit with some form of pain out of nowhere leaving us feeling disparate and helpless. That’s the way life is. Still, it makes us wonder how God can let things happen to us. How God can just stand by and watch us suffer. Where is God when it really hurts? Maybe God is actually closer to us than we think. Maybe it’s when were in these situations, where everything seems to be falling apart, that God gets an opportunity to remind us of how much he really loves us.

Parents: Take Home Sheets

Parents, there are two take-home sheets that will be available for your child and for you. One of them is God-Time and one is Refrigerator Door. These are to help your child and you with the “virtue of the month”.

The God Time are 4 devotions for the week. They have a scripture and small activity for the child to do. The devo’s will take less than 5 mins but they will help your child capture the virtue.

The refrigerator door is a sheet for you to place on the refrigerator door. It is to help you remember the virtue.   “The door” will have the definition, the memory verse and a question for the child and parent to discuss throughout the week.

We hope that you will use these resources and that they will be helpful for you and your family as you journey through life together.

Parents: Create a Rhythm

Impress them on your children. Talk about it when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

The scripture above comes from Deuteronomy 6.

Parents, I know that it can be difficult to create a rhythm in your life and in your families lives, but I want to challenge you to do so. I believe that if we can do this, our children will grow strong in the Lord.

in the scripture, we see that there are four times where we can impress our faith/values upon our children. Take a look at it from this standpoint:

Parents, talk to your children when you sit (eat meals together) at home and when you walk (travel together) along the road, when you lie down (tucking the children in bed) and when you get up (morning routines)

Each time, we can have a different communication method, role and goal for the conversations. Below can be a helpful example:

Morning Time

Communication: Encouraging Words, Role: Coach, Goal: Instill Purpose

Drive Time

Communication: Informal Dialogue, Role: Friend, Goal: Interpret Life

Meal Time

Communication: Formal Discussion, Role: Teacher, Goal: Establish Values

Bed Time

Communication: Intimate Communication, Role: Counselor, Goal: Build Intimacy

Parents, if you have any stories to share about creating a rhythm, please include them in the comments section.

Parents

Parents, on September 20th, as we kick off this ministry, we are going to have a time to get to know each other. We are also going to talk about creating a rhythm in our families lives and how we can use four key components of the day to reach out to our children and create “teachable moments” in a natural rhythm of the day.

We are also going to review the big group lesson that our kids experienced which is based on 2 Chronicles 10:1-19. We will then discuss how we can make wise choices and more importantly how we can help our children start making wise choices at an early stage of their lives.