We're down to our last week of our February series on love and relationships! It's been a fantastic month with great conversations all around. Each week, students submit anonymous questions to be answered in front of the group. If you have questions you'd like to submit, click on this link to do so anonymously!
This week, we're talking all about girls! Let's jump right in. Here are the three main things we'll be discussing.
1. Women are beautiful and precious daughters of God.
Proverbs 31:10-11 - "Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. 11 Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life." Women are more precious than rubies. We are all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27, James 1:18). In the creation story in Genesis, there is an escalation in the text - each new thing that is created is greater than the thing before. God crowns all things by creating woman! He even goes as far as saying that it is not good for man to be alone. Adam breaks into poem at first sight of Eve. Woman is beautiful and precious. Women deserve to be treated with respect and validation as the pinnacle of God's creation.
2. A woman of God puts her identity and value in Christ.
The world tries to define womanhood in so many different ways, mainly centered around their bodies and what the opposite sex thinks of them. God's definition couldn't be more different. We are God's masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10), and it isn't about our bodies, it's about who we are. A woman of God doesn't count on a boy to "complete" her. She is fully complete in Christ. Her heart, mind, and body are devoted to God. A godly man will find nothing more attractive than that.
3. A woman of God uses her beauty and value for God's glory.
Your body does not define you. Our sexual culture builds up impossible standards that really has nothing to do with beauty. 1 Peter 3:3-4 - "Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God." Beauty comes from within. Girls, you have so much more to offer a boy - to offer the world - than your body! The greatest thing you can offer is your heart, your mind, your character. When you use your body as the "attraction", what kind of guy will you get? The kind who is only interested in your body.
We'll be watching a short video about how the male brain reacts to women. The speaker is Jessica Rey, a Christian girls' speaker who designs her own line of swimsuits. You can watch the clip (2 minutes) here, or watch the full video (1o minutes) here.
Girls, you are NOT responsible for guys' actions. Guys, control yourself. Be a man, not a boy. Girls, guys are idiots. If you're offering them your body, they will overlook the real treasure - your heart. Modesty is not about hiding your body or being ashamed of the beauty God has given you! It is about focusing on where your true value lies. You have so much more to offer than your body.
We've spent the past two weeks setting the foundation for what love and relationships are all about. For an overview of the entire series, read this post. In Week 1, we talked about how to pursue Happily Ever After - through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Read the post here. Last week, we talked about what a healthy, God-honoring relationship looks like. Read the post here.
This week, we're talking about GUYS. Girls, what do you look for in a guy? Guys, how do you become the guy that girls are looking for? To frame our conversation, we'll be looking at the life of Samson, who had it all going for him on the outside, but had deep issues that ultimately were his undoing. Here are our takeaways for the ladies:
Beware the guy who only looks good on the outside. Outward appearances have no correlation to inward qualities. Samson had a serious anger problem - when Samson got angry, people died! Pretty boys generally know they're pretty - and arrogance quickly follows.
Beware the guy who falls in and out of love all the time. This may mean he's looking at women as conquests and status symbols. Girls, you deserve better than that. Delilah was just one woman on a long list in Samson's past.
Beware the guy who keeps secrets. Like we discussed last week, trust and honesty are foundational blocks to a healthy relationship. Samson had quite the closet full of skeletons. Who we are and what we've done are part of what we bring into a relationship - for better or worse.
And for the guys:
Be a man of self-control. Control your temper. Cling to your purity. Be intentional about pursuing godliness in all areas of your life. This takes discipline.
Be a man of your word. Think carefully about the promises you make - and then follow through by keeping them. Girls are attracted to guys who are dependable and trustworthy. Your words are powerful and you need to use them carefully.
Be a man who respects women. Women are more than sexual objects. Treat women like your sisters. Honor their purity. Don't be fooled by locker-room talk - it's all made up, anyway. As a godly man, you need to step above that. Be attracted to women for their internal qualities.
I look forward to this conversation this Sunday at Roots!
We're headed into Week 2 of our February series on love and relationships called Crappily Ever After. When God made Adam and Eve, he had something in mind for their relationship. Unfortunately, sin has entered the picture and distorted everything. Because we are all imperfect, our relationships are imperfect, too. Does that mean that we are doomed to Crappily Ever After?
Last week, we covered what "happily ever after" truly is - an eternity with God through a relationship with Jesus. 1 John 4 tells us that God's love for us is perfect. We will never be able to love with the perfect love that God has, but we are not without hope! This week, we'll be talking about what a Christ-centered relationship looks like. When two people are individually focused on glorifying God, a relationship between them is going to be healthy, uplifting, and inspiring. Here's the outline of our discussion for this week:
1. We date to find a mate.
The purpose of dating is to figure out who we’re going to marry. Does this mean we should only date when we’re ready to get married? Not necessarily. Some may choose that - and that’s great! We just need to remember that the relationships we develop, even in middle school and high school, are shaping us into the person that your future spouse is going to marry! Who you are today is the person you’re bringing into your marriage.
2. A God-honoring relationship has its priorities and boundaries set clearly.
We often talk about the idea of God first, others second, and ourselves third. The same holds true in a dating relationship! God comes first. Each person must have their heart and mind focused on God and glorifying Him. Second, we must honor our family and friends. Parents are still parents, and they deserve utmost respect and obedience. W2e also can't neglect our friends and alienate ourselves. Serving others should remain a priority in a relationship. Boundaries include physical/sexual boundaries, but also so much more. We must be careful not to give away pieces of our hearts and our body too quickly.
2b. Parents, read this: We will be discussing physical boundaries this week, but we will NOT be using any graphic language or innuendo. This conversation will be tailored to the age (middle school vs. high school), and we will focus on how to pursue purity, rather than discuss “how far is too far.” We will read 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, which tells us to flee from sexual immorality. If you have any concerns or questions, feel free to contact Ted Northrop!
3. A God-honoring relationship is built on honesty and trust.
1 John 4 - Perfect love drives out fear. Fear has to do with punishment, not grace. Grace is a defining characteristic of love. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us lve keeps no record of wrongs. We are to (try to!) love each other the way that God loves us.
4. A God-honoring relationship is selfless.
Imagine two people who are individually focusing on glorifying God first, then serving each other. Imagine a relationship where Happily Ever After, as best we can have it on earth at least, was possible. Imagine a husband that is committed to Jesus. Imagine a wife that is completely honest with you, a spouse who is trustworthy and completely trusts you. Imagine a marriage where you both selflessly gave to each other.
We're starting off our February series this Sunday! If you haven't yet read the series overview, take a minute and read it now!
In the first week of our series, we'll be looking at the bigger picture on love. What's it all about? We'll start by introducing the concept behind the series. God created us in His image, and told us to be fruitful and multiply! Relationships are instituted and ordained by God. However, when sin entered the picture, our relationships suffered the consequences as well. The first thing Adam does after sinning is to blame Eve! Not a great start.
That rift has been passed down to us. We are all sinners, and that sin makes "happily ever after" an elusive goal. The fact of the matter is that every human relationship we have will have problems. That doesn't mean they are bad - we just need to set our expectations realistically. Our culture tells us that we need to find "The One" that will make us happy - AND that there's only one "The One" out there for us. We are setting ourselves up for heartbreak and disappointment.
We will only ever find satisfaction and contentment in The One whose love is perfect: Jesus Christ. We can only begin to love one another because God loved us first. We'll be taking a look at 1 John 4, where John helps us understand that we will never figure out how to love one another until we put it in perspective with God's love for us.
Each year, during the month of love, we do a message series that covers love, sex, and dating. This year, we're looking at how sin has distorted our relationships. We're all looking for that "happily ever after"... but how do we find it?
Throughout February, we will be comparing and contrasting two big ideas: the way God intended love to be vs. what sin has turned love into to. When God made the world, when He made us, He had something in mind. He created Adam and Eve and told them to be fruitful and multiply! [Gen 1:28] They were made to be together. And then sin entered the picture. Nothing is the way God intended because sin has distorted EVERYTHING - especially our relationships.
From the moment Adam and Eve took that bite, their relationship (and ours) was plagued by sin. Someday, God will make everything right again. He will restore us in a post-sin world, where we will be free from sin and its repercussions.
But what about now? How are we supposed to live and love while sin keeps getting in the way? We are not without hope! When we begin to understand God's love for us, we will better understand how to love one another. This is the big idea for this entire series: We love each other because God first loved us. He has set an amazing example for us in Jesus Christ, who shows us how to live and love.
Parents, Read This:
We are committed to addressing the difficult and uncomfortable topics. During this series, our focus will be on relationships and dating. We will surely be covering some aspects of sex, physical boundaries, and honoring God with our bodies, though these will not be the main focus of any single week. This conversation will not be graphic in any way, but we want to communicate very clearly with you about what we're discussing each week, so you can decide if it is appropriate for your child.
Here's an outline of the four weeks ahead of us:
Week 1 - The First Love. God's love for us shows us how to love.
Week 2 - Why We Date. What's the point of dating, and how do we do it in a God-honoring way?
Week 3 - Guy Talk. We talk about guys. Girls, what should you look for in a guy? Guys, how do you be the guy that girls are looking for?
Week 4 - Girl Talk. Converse of Week 3: Guys, what should you look for in a guy? Girls, how do you be the girl that guys are looking for?
Below is an article from Orange, our curriculum resource, about what we're learning at Roots during this series.
1. We’re Teaching This
Let's be honest. We've all been guilty of painting a less-than-honest picture of ourselves or others through social media. But the Bible reminds us that what we say—whether on-line or in person—matters. How we talk about others, and ourselves, is important. And it all starts with what's inside our hearts. So where do you need to rethink what you say on-line? What things are you dealing with inside that need to stop showing up on your newsfeed? What do you need to do to become the person you want to be—not just the person you want everyone to think you are?
2. Think About This
I remember when my family got our first VCR machine. I was in elementary school and this “new technology” seemed so cool. You could just pop in a video–remember those—and watch any movie you wanted to without having to actually go to the movies. It was the beginning of the home theatre.
Just to other night, my kids and I wanted to watch a movie and I was reminded of how much this experience has changed. As we scrolled through the hundreds of movie titles on our Netflix feed, I found myself frustrated that we couldn’t find what we wanted to watch. Would I actually have to go look at Hulu or Amazon to find the movie we wanted? Then, once we found what we wanted, I put in my password and a message came up telling me that I would have to wait a few minutes for my movie to load and if it didn’t, to call Amazon directly. I started to get a little bit frustrated, until I looked over at my daughter who was REALLY frustrated. And I paused. This isn’t that big of a deal. I used to have to drive to Blockbuster, spend 30 minutes walking around the store looking for a movie, stand in line to pay and drive back home all before we could even put the movie in.
It’s funny how nowadays, everything is at our fingertips and yet we are less satisfied and less patient. You wake up in the morning and turn on the television. Instantly, you have all the latest news right in front of you from around the world. You’re driving in your car and you hear a song that you really like. You grab your phone, type in a few lyrics and find out who the artist is, along with the album, song and entire discography. We don’t have to wait for anything these days. We live in a world where we can have what we want almost immediately. And sometimes this availability in the world of technology and media gets transferred to other areas of our lives. Even areas that are meant to take more time and be a bit difficult, like relationships with other people and with God; even our own relationship with ourselves. But sometimes, the waiting process—delaying the gratification of something we want, of a result we want to see–is a really healthy and good thing. Because the old adage “good things are worth waiting for” is true. Waiting for something—going through a process—can make us appreciate the whole experience more. And if we aren’t careful, our relationship with technology and the expectation of immediacy it fosters will rob us of the ability to exercise the wonderful discipline of delayed gratification.
Maybe there’s some merit to this idea of waiting on something and even waiting for something. Maybe by waiting a bit—waiting to check our cell phones, Facebook feeds, Twitter feeds, email, text messages, you name it—we will begin to move at a faster pace with the most important things: our relationships. Maybe we can learn to slow down a bit. Breathe a bit. Look around a bit. And ultimately, enjoy the beautiful relationships and experiences that come with waiting and resting.
3. Try This
Choose one night and get everyone in your family off the grid. That means a full media blackout for everyone in your household for 6-9 hours. No Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine … no Internet at all. In fact, get really serious and have a designated and out-of-reach spot for everyone to put their phones—and iPads, tablets … you name it—and instead, spend that time in face-to-face, quality family time. You could go out for a family night or a have a media-free zone at home and have a meal and after-dinner game night together. Here are some fun dinner table questions to get your night rolling.
Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.
We’re Teaching This:
What is it about this time of year that causes us to feel a little more generous? We naturally think about helping families in need by providing Christmas presents or a meal, we visit soup kitchens, donate clothes, or drop food off at the local food pantry. Studies show we give more money and clothing to charity in December than any other time. But why? In the Gospel of John, we find a part of the Christmas story that doesn’t always make it into the nativity scene. Long before Mary and Joseph made it to Bethlehem. Long before there were choirs of angels visiting shepherd or wise men making their way from the East, Christmas began with a single decision made on our behalf. A decision God made to give. That simple but monumental decision has shaped this season ever since. And when we begin to understand all God has given to us, we can’t help but bring that tradition that began with His generosity into our present.
Think About This:
By Sarah Anderson
Have you ever noticed that when it comes to our children—no matter what their age—the things we expect our children to enjoy and thank us for the most are usually the very things that go unnoticed or unappreciated? I’ve started noticing it in my own preschool aged kids that when I pull out my best parenting tricks, my best memory-making ideas, it is sometimes met with them being bored, not impressed, and lacking gratitude.
The problem I face as a parent, and the problem all of us face to one degree or another, is what pastor Andy Stanley refers to as the tendency to raise experientially rich kids, but instead of raising relationally rich ones. In other words, in our effort to want to give our kids everything we create the chance for them to have some pretty amazing experiences but often neglect actually connecting with them.
This becomes all the more complicated as our children become teenagers and appear to want neither experiences nor relationships with us.
It’s hard not to take personally. But I’ve found that what students express as “wants” or “don’t wants” often doesn’t reflect their true desires. While they appear indifferent, that isn’t always the case. Our students, regardless of their age, temperament or wiring, are needing purposeful and committed relationships—with us. Strong relationships with their parents now will lay the groundwork for strong relationships in the future.
They need to know—though they aren’t often willing to ask us directly—that we like them and we want to hang out with them Maybe they aren’t looking for some big expensive vacation or experience. Maybe they don’t need anything that dramatic—just the chance for us to be with them and a chance to make a connection.
Maybe your student moving out of the house feels like it is a long way off. It could be several years away, or it could be in a matter of months. Try thinking about their time with you in terms of the number of holidays you have while they still live in your house. Your teenager maybe four years from moving out, but that means you only have four Christmases left.
“When you know how much time you have left, you tend to do more with the time you have now.”
Take some time this holiday season to sit down with your student and together come up with a tradition you can repeat for the Christmas seasons you have left. It doesn’t have to be anything big, expensive or super time-consuming. But it does have to be something your teenager wants to do—and something that gives you the chance to have shared experience together and further your relationship as well.
Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.
We’re Teaching This: Have you ever taken a big risk? I’m not talking about eating your mom’s broccoli casserole after too many days in the fridge. I’m talking about something that could have only ended with a big win or a big disaster. Asking a girl to prom that has never talked to you. Pep-rally dance-off. Stealing second base in the last inning of the playoffs. If you’ve ever gone all in—taken a big risk— there’s only one reason you did it. The payoff. For every risk, there’s the promise of a reward. And if the reward is worth it, if it’s enticing enough, you just might be willing to do things you might otherwise never consider. Did you know that serving the people around you can be risky? Not only is there no guarantee of being successful, of actually helping someone, but serving also means putting our comfort, our convenience, and our reputation on the line. On the other hand, choosing not to serve others has risks as well. Not only could we miss out, but those around us may go without something that they really need. Either way, there’s a lot on the line. So the question you have to ask is: Am I going to play it safe or am I going to go all in?
Think About This:
There’s an ugly word that has been going around. It has been used to describe our students and their generation. Maybe you’ve heard it: Entitled. Of course, that’s not the word we want to describe our son or daughter, but in a culture where nearly every step is celebrated, it can be difficult for our students to fight against the sense that the world really does revolve around them.
Students who grow up with this kind of sense of entitlement often become unhappy and unproductive adults. That’s why it’s so important for us to help them move their focus beyond themselves at this critical stage in life.
In the article Serving Others Will Help Your Teen Thrive from Psychology Today, author Kenneth Ginsburg suggests a possible antidote to the epidemic of entitlement.
Kids who make contributions to others learn to see beyond themselves. Young people who give rather than just receive will learn that the universe doesn't revolve around them or owe them everything they desire. They begin to see beyond their isolated, self-oriented circles. They recognize themselves as part of larger communities.
In the same article he continues...
Young people who understand the importance of service gain a sense of purpose that can build their own resilience and further their own success. Real service opportunities exist everywhere. Your child does not need to build a water purification system in a far away land to garner the benefits that contribution offers. There are needy among us. Some may reside in shelters, visit food kitchens, or be recuperating in hospitals. Others may be our neighbors, whether a lonely elderly woman who needs help shoveling the snow, or a sixth grader who needs just a little more confidence in math and could use help with his homework.
In other words, students who serve others are more likely to have the best shot at becoming adults who contribute rather than consume.
We have a few amazing opportunities for students and families to serve coming up in the next month or so. First of all, the Feed a Family for Thanksgiving drive is next week! We will be collecting food on November 19 and 20 at the Kent Narrows Outlets (the old outlets). On Saturday, November 22, we will drive through the community and distribute the food to families who are in need. What an amazing chance to do exactly what Jesus asks us to do! As Jesus said in Matthew 25: "For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.... And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
Stay tuned for our plans for the Giving Back Project, our annual Christmas project for the homeless.
This is an article from Orange, the source of our curriculum. Please read about what we're teaching!
We’re Teaching This:
On a scale of one to ten, how do you measure up? Are you tall enough? Pretty enough? Smart enough? Funny enough? And on that scale, which number represents enough? Do you have to score a ten or will a solid seven do? How about a five? It’s better than average, right? Most of us measure how we’re doing by how everyone else is doing. Not a day goes by that we’re not tempted to glance to our left and to our right to see how we measure up to the people around us. This is especially true at school. We see everyone else’s grades, clothes, athletic ability, talent, and popularity. And it’s easy to feel like we don’t measure up. So we adjust course, try harder, spend more, and then compare again. It's exhausting. In this 3-part series, Andy Stanley explores the difficult—but not impossible—challenge of escaping The Comparison Trap.
Think About This:
Parenting is hard. We probably knew going in that it wouldn’t always be a walk in the park. But, as a parent, have you noticed there are some curve balls that you just don’t know how to handle?
Chances are, you knew your kids were going to be different from one another. But it’s also likely you had no idea just how different they could be until you started raising them—until they hit a certain age and suddenly what you assumed would be true of one of your kids because it was true of an older one—just isn’t. Sometimes it feels like you have to learn how to parent all over again with each child. And sometimes not just with each child, but through each life-stage your children experience.
We may not do it on purpose, but there is a tendency to compare that comes so naturally and so easily. We bring attention to the ways our students are different from their siblings, their friends, our friends, and even earlier versions of themselves. It’s so tempting to say, “But why can’t you just be like______?” The problem is, comparison rarely works. It doesn’t make students want to try harder and it can often lead to resentment toward the parents and the sibling with whom they’re compared. Even within the family, there is no win in comparison.
Sameness isn’t even really a goal worth shooting for. Maybe there are traits in one of your children that you’d like the others to take on. That’s great, but you probably don’t want them to be exact replicas. A better goal is to be intentional in learning, studying, and celebrating the personality and wiring of each individual child.
No one wants to feel like they don’t measure up. Especially not in the place where they want to feel the safest and most secure. Work on making your family and your home the place where who your child is celebrated and not compared.
This week, point out something in your teenager that you appreciate. Find something that you have seen grow and develop in them that is a strength and then tell them how proud of them you are.
Then find something that, at first glance, feels like something you would change—that you would compare to someone else and wish away. And then find a way to leverage it. To see the good in it. For example,
Finding a way to celebrate something you had vocally been frustrated over in the past will mean more than you can imagine to your student. Don’t underestimate the value of your affirmation.
Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.
Memorizing just doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? Maybe you’ve had to memorize something for school and found yourself wondering why? In a world where you can Google the answer to just about anything, why would anyone bother to memorize? There must be a better use of our time. That may have been exactly how Joshua felt. He was just about to take over leading the nation of Israel from Moses. It was no easy task and there was a ton that needed to happen. At this pivotal moment in history, God tells Joshua that the key to his success hinges on him committing his time and attention to knowing and meditating on scripture. It probably seemed counterintuitive. He had work a lot of other work to do. But through his story we find that keeping God’s word in us is the first step to dealing with anything that’s going on around us.
Join in the conversation this Sunday morning at 11:00 am! And don't forget to invite your friends to Roots Sunday Night at 6:30!
Danae is the Director of Youth Ministries at KIUMC. She has a B.A. in Culinary Arts and Service Management from Paul Smiths College in Paul Smiths, NY. She has attended KIUMC for the past 8 years. Danae enjoys cooking, spending time with family and friends, and is a complete Disney Fanatic.