As we get started out with the winter season which means that we are no longer hanging and playing at the park. We are going to be taking a look at friendships and friends. Tonight we are planning on getting a good grip on the meaning of the word. Asking students to think about how they define friendship, and then asking them to think about how their friends think of friendship. It would be wrong to think that everyone has the same definition and attaches the same meaning to the word. I will be sharing a story from my child hood which gives meaning to the fact that not everyone defines friendship the same. "Growing up I had a super tight friendship. We were always doing things together and in our high school years we played tennis each and every Saturday morning. I think I beat him only twice. Each week we would bet a cassette tape and each week I would lose a great album. Despite my losing we always remained close friends. The misunderstanding came our senior year of high school when I started dating an underclassmen. Not that my dating was a problem, the problem occurred when she dumped me and started dating him. We had different definitions about friendship, like guys don't let girls get in-between friendships. He did not see it that way. I spent half of my childhood years and almost all of my high school years running with this guy, and today we don't even know where the other lives...
We want to help our middle school friends have a proper view of friendships, and help them consider who they are friends with as they go through the rest of their school years. Tonight we will be looking at Proverbs 18:24
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. We hope to impress upon them that they need to pour into their friendships and make them count, and that they should know how they and their friends define friendship...
Determination & Faith
The power to change the world
What are you determined to do? What are you going to do or get no matter the odds that you face, or the obstacles that come in your way?
Your determination will decide the fate of your goal, the faith that you have will fuel your determination. So how much faith do you have and how determined you are will most ultimately decided your fate.
There is this awesome story of a women who encountered Jesus to see that her daughter would be healed. Now this woman had in many ways no right to seek Jesus out as she was a Canaanite, and woman. Back then women were not supposed to talk to men. This did not matter to her one bit, she was determined and believed that Jesus could solve her problem. So facing many obstacles and never taking no for an answer this woman received what she was asking for and her daughter was healed. Jesus was amazed by her faith. So take your attention back to the questions that you were being asked at the beginning of this article. Is there anything that comes to mind, is there anything that you are going to do no matter what? If there is how determined are you, how much faith are you going to apply to it? When you answer these questions you can then and only then know if you will get it done. Looking at the things we want to do and realizing that they are going to be hard is a lot like our relationship with Jesus. We know we have it and we know we want it to grow, but sometimes we just don’t know how to make it happen. This is because we might not have given enough thought to the obstacles that are going to come our way as we seek to grow our relationship. Relationships are hard at best, they require time and energy, if they are going to grow and survive. If we want our relationship with Jesus to be something more than it is currently we are going to have to apply determination and faith to it daily.
If there are things that we want out of life we must apply determination and faith to them so that we might be able to achieve them. I will assure you that their will be obstacles that come and people who will tell you that you have no right to achieve such things, but you are empowered with the Holy Spirit and that changes everything. Check out
Romans 8:37-39 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. When you start to realize the power that is in you through your faith that you have in Jesus, you will realize that all things are possible. To strengthen our relationship with Jesus we must realize that depth of the relationship that He wants to have with us. All the power on the earth and in the heavens will never separate us from His love. That is a power source that you can grow in and from. Increase your determination and your faith and you will achieve things you never thought possible!
Life is a glorious adventure! Don’t miss out!
A Power Source within you
When you hear the word faith what comes to your mind. For most of us we think of blind faith but that really does not define faith. Because faith in not blind. Faith sees everything, faith sees more clearly than our eyes see. Faith with our eyes increases our vision and our understanding of the world around us. So here is a question for you to think about, “When was the last time you did something completely out of faith?” I have to admit that is a pretty hard question. But it is a question that is worth asking. When do you use your faith to see the world around you differently? God has a lot to say about faith, and the Bible makes it very clear that faith is key to pleasing God, because without faith we cannot even believe in God.
So if you have faith how much do you use it? Do you see it as a power source within you? Something that you live by?
Tonight we are looking at faith and what faith can do in our lives. Many of us have faith that Jesus is God’s Son and that He paid the price for us and we are forgiven because of our faith. This is a good thing, this is an important thing. But some of us have only used that portion of faith we have gone deeper to understand the power source of faith.
How do you achieve the things that you achieve? Do you do it in your own strength? Or do you pull from the power source of faith. Many of us just get things done by our own strength and our own abilities. This is cool and this works but what if you were to pull from the power of faith? What if you were to try things that scare you to death, and you did it from faith? God has made it clear that because of our faith we have conquered the world, but if we have beaten the world then why do we all struggle? Check out this promise from God.
1 John 5:3-5 3 Loving God means obeying his commands. And God's commands are not too hard for us, 4 because everyone who is a child of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world-- our faith. 5 So the one who conquers the world is the person who believes that Jesus.
Wow if you believe in Jesus then you have the power source of faith inside you and that power source allows you to conquer the world. Now if you can believe that then you can believe that you can achieve anything that you set your heart to. When you set out to achieve it you must pull on your faith. Pulling from faith is really easy but you have to make it a practice a thing that you truly seek to do. Do you do what you do and think about God and His promises that you can do it? Or do you just do things out of habit and action. Pulling from your faith defeats fear and leads you to trust and lean on God. When I pray for healing for my children’s bumps and bruises that happen, I need to pull on my faith that God heals and takes away the pain, I must pray as I pull on my faith, not just pray to say the words, I have to believe. My faith in my belief is me saying that I believe God at His word and that is pulling on the power source of faith. Your faith will grow as you pull on it, as you tug on it and depend on it! Faith is a power source so use it!
What we can achieve when we work together...
When I was in middle school it started, and then it continued in high school, and yes it was there in college. It was never my wish it wasn’t something that I dreamed up. It was put on my and I had no choice. Group projects. Arghh! You know where you have to work with other classmates and achieve a common task. You know the way it is supposed to work, everyone does their part and then the work is graded all together. I was never very comfortable depending on other people. I just want to get it done and do it right the way that I see it, not having to give into other peoples ideas. I am sure that you have experienced it in your life as well and if you haven’t yet before you leave middle school it will happen. So what is the deal with group projects and working together? For me it comes down to this. When I look back to my school years I realize that we never ever worked together. We fought each other and in the end the strongest personality usually ended up doing all the work and we never truly understood team work. That is why I never enjoyed having group projects. Now fast forward to my life today, and I enjoy working with others and doing things in a collective vision. What changed, I will be honest the thing that changed was me. I came to a place in my life that allowed me to not be threatened by other ideas. Check out what God has to say about working together…Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. We are stronger when we work together as a team. When we seek to do something that is worth doing it is better to do it with others. We are stronger and we are better. It has been said that Team work makes the dream work we all want to do something that is great with our lives. May be we have tried and failed. Sometimes we fail not because the thing that we are trying to do can’t be done. But maybe the thing that we are trying to do can’t be done alone. God has given us people all around us who are good at different things. When we bring all the people together with a common goal, it is amazing. Things get done, new ideas come our way, and the whole process is awesome! Working together as a team, supporting each other is awesome and that is the way God has set up the life that we are to live. Nothing enriches the story of your life more than team work, achieving a common goal together. So as you write the story of your life, make it a point to include others.
Making the most of your goals ...
If you were asked to write a letter to yourself and in that letter you were asked to write about your life in ten years what would be in it? What will you life look like in ten years? Have you ever thought about it, have you ever thought about what is most important to you, so important that you would make it a goal to have it still be around in ten years?
In order to write the story of your life you have to have a plan for the story of your life, you have to have goals. Things that you want to see achieved in your life time. Very few people just fall into greatness. Those who do great things for others set goals to great things, and then they achieve those goals. It can be said that goals are dreams with deadlines. We all have many dreams but we need goals because dreams that don’t have deadlines typically never come to be. So where will you be in ten years? What will be your story? God has powerful words to say about dreams and goals. Check this out Proverbs 21:5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. What about you do you move with diligence or do you just run about waiting for things to happen? I know that some of you have goals and dreams, but do you have a plan to get it done? Have you ever thought through the goal and the dream enough to consider if it was worth your time to go after? As we move though life, life will happen and it will continue to move forward for sure, but will you remember today in a week, a month, a year? That is a question that has been rattling in my mind for some time now. “Will I remember today?” As I grow older I realize that many of my days are spent and done and well nothing great really happened and then I ask the question will I remember today? Chances are if I did not have a God encounter or something else substantial happen I will not remember today in a week. That is a hard fact to live with. We all only have a certain number of days to use to change the world. So what are you doing with yours? How are you using your days? Check this out Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. We have looked at this verse before but it says so much about life. If we want to live the best life ever then we have to follow this verse and the words of wisdom that come from it. Do you trust God most of all? Why or why not? Tough question to process. In this new year it should be a goal of yours. To trust God with everything and allow Him to guide you in the story our your life… His story will be the best story that you could ever live!
Enough is Enough...
Over the past few months we have been looking at how can we make our life all that it was meant to be! All that God wants it to be.
We have been challenging you to think about how you spend your time and we have been asking you to think about your comfort zones. Many of us never leave our comfort zones and stretch out to see what we are capable of. Now we are going to look at the silent killer of complacency… So do you always do you best? Do you always seek to improve and get better? Complacency is defined this way… a feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one's achievements. We think that we have arrived and there is nothing else to work on. What we do is good enough, and we don’t need to try any more. Some people call this working smart “do only what you have to, to get by.” People who live this way say things like, “I could do better, but a B is just as good as an A.” “I could do more but I will have to put in more effort, people are happy with what I am doing now, so why bother.” Complacency kills us silently because we are so pleased with ourselves that we think there is nothing more we need to do. You become so caught up in all that you have done you don’t see the need to do more and work harder. You become satisfied. To write the best story of your life you have to strive, you have to strain, and push for something more. If you are happy with what you got chances are you will not get anything more than what you got. We all can fall victim to being complacent it is an easy thing to do especially when the expectations that are around us are low, and just keep getting lower. To beat complacency we have to rise above the expectations that the world puts on us and set our own expectations and rise to the challenge. Proverbs 1:32-33 says 32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them; 33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” Those are some pretty sharp words. the complacency of fool will destroy them. God does not call what He creates fools that often. He has a ton of grace. Here it is written that those who live in complacency are foolish and that very thing will destroy them. I Love the contrast of verse 33 and how it states that if we are not fools we are listening to God Himself and though we are striving and going for more we will be safe and at ease as we strive for more. I considering striving for more to the the opposite of complacency, because striving for more means that you are always looking to improve and grow. It does not mean that you are dissatisfied, it means that you want the best and that means you have to give your best. Even if we have worked hard we can still fall into complacency, take a look at this parable Jesus told. In Luke 12: 16 And he told them this parable:“The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops. ’18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? ’21 “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” This is a reminder to me that I must always keep going and never just do my best and then call it good. God longs for us to offer our lives to Him for Him to use. We must rise above expectations and go for more. God’s love is always there and it is great, but just because I have gone this far does not meant that I am ready to stop. Keep reaching!
How do you break out of your comfort zone? I mean it is called a comfort zone because it is comfortable and it is a nice place to be. It just doesn’t create the best life possible. It just creates a life. So how do you bust through your comfort zone and see your life become all that it was made to be and all that you want it to be! It is a process it is a journey. Like with any journey you have to take the first step. So what is the first step? Decide you want to change, make a commitment to change. Then take the first step. Get rid of your excuses and go for it. Take a look at this awesome verse a great promise to us from God! Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Now that is a power verse if I have ever read one. God is talking to Joshua right before he was to lead God’s people into the promise land. A land filled with giants. They were supposed to go in and defeat all these different people and claim the land for themselves. Now get this the people that Joshua was leading were very comfortable in the place they were. They have been hanging out in the desert for forty years and God had been providing everything that they needed to survive. Water from rock, breakfast from the ground, and dinner from the sky in the form of falling birds. They were comfortable. Yet they were not living the full live that God created them to live, so now it was time to step out and God gave their leader the promise in Joshua 1:9. So you need to remember that that promise stands for you today and you can move past the normal life that you are living at this time, and move out of your comfort zone and take the life that God made for you to live! So back to the steps, Step one get rid of the excuses and decide to change. Step two understand this God Works Through our weaknesses to Accomplish His Big plans. Your weakness can become an excuse to keep you in your comfort zone. But God works through our weakness. Step three realize this Courage is not the Absence of Fear. We talked about that last week and how we were not given a spirit of fear, and that is true, but you still may have fears to work through. Courage does not take away all fear, but it does give you the strength to defeat the fears that you have. Step four is simple to read but not simple to understand, but every successful person who has step out of their comfort zone understand it. You Can’t Get To Success without Risking Failure. Yes that is true. Every successful person has experienced failure on the road to success. Many of us are only one failure away from success. We just have to give it one more try and not be afraid to make the jump, and risk possibly failing again. The fear of failure has kept many people from being all that they could every be. These are the top four steps to breaking out of your comfort zone. I Chris personally challenge you to break out of your comfort zone and do all that you can do to be all that you can be every single day! The days of hiding in the shadows and living in the comfort zone are over…
What is your biggest fear? What is your smallest fear? Did you know that there is a good chance that you were not born with that fear. Actually we are only born with two fears, the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. So what has brought us these fears? How did we come to get them? The truth is we all have fears, but the real question is what are we doing about those fears. Why do we keep them in and allow them to direct the direction of our lives. Believe it or not it has a lot to do with your comfort zone, the place where you spend most of your time. That is why it is caused a comfort zone, because it is nice, safe and well extremely comfortable. You have the same friends today as you did yesterday. You average the same grades year after year, because you are comfortable doing the same thing over and over. When someone challenges you do to something do you do it? Do you go for it or do you start making excuses and listing off reasons that you can do it. That is your fear of leaving your comfort zone, that is the fear of living keeping you in the exact place. You may think that you are getting ahead, and making moves, but if you are not challenging your fears, then really all you are doing is going through the motions. Check this out from the Bible. 2 Timothy 1:7 says this: 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline. Now what this is telling us that our fears are not from God, but from the world and from the thief. If we really believed and trusted in God for all things then we would know that all things are possible. We would live like followers of Jesus we would have faith in God. Now understand this, it is impossible to please God without faith. When we live in the comfort zone we are not living with faith, we are living out of fear. We are not living out of self discipline we are being lazy and carless with the life that we have been given. So what are your dreams the ones that you really want, the things that you want to do no matter what. How will you achieve them without faith, how will you ever take that first step to go for them if you will not leave your comfort zone. Living out of passion and living for the dreams that you have for your life is challenging and pressing. You will have to overcome your fears and you will have to leave your comfort zone and take steps that push you beyond your limits. This will take faith, and for faith you are going to have to know who God is and what He has called you to do with your life. Knowing what God has called you to do is a big deal, knowing who you are in God is a big deal. You will have to joinery with Him to learn these things. I am not talking about a quite time, I am talking about really digging in with God and asking Him to tell you who you are. A quite time is nice but wanting to shake up the world will call for something more. You could continue to live the life that you are living or you could discover what it really means to live. That requires you to live beyond your fears. This type of living will require you to please God with faith, faith in Him and the belief that He will show you all you need to know. So you decide there is an incredible life out there just waiting for you to live in it, but you will have to leave your comfort zone. You will have to move where there is danger and discomfort, to only find that once you take the first step there was nothing for you to fear, except staying in the comfort zone.
Passions and Expectations
What are you passionate about? What gets you excited about life and the day.
We all have passions things that we just really love about life. But what are we doing with theses passions? How are we using them to shape and influence people around us? I know, I know you are only in middle school, and who really expects you to shape and influence anyone. What good is it to have a passion about something if you don’t do anything with it. Your passion and the things that you are good at lead you to be a part of life. Think about the things that you are really passionate about. Go deeper than a t.v. show, or a video game. Dig deep and think about your passions. We can spend hours talking and arguing about things that really don’t matter. These things can sometime consume us and we miss out on sharing and living out our real passion. I have heard people have lengthly conversations about t.v. shows or sport teams and sometimes the more and more that they talk I just want to scream. I listen and to be honest I act interested, but in the end I just want to scream who cares! What I want to know about and talk about is what are you really passionate about! What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning. What makes you feel alive and a part of the human race. I can be a driven person, but we are all driven, it really comes down to the point of expectations what do you expect from you, and your passions. In the Bible Paul had a friend who he was mentoring and raising up to be a leader. Paul encouraged him in this verse
1 Timothy 4:12 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
Paul is encouraging his friend to live out the passion that is in him to be all that he could be. Now Timothy was not as young as you, but does that really matter? What expectations do you have for yourself? Do you believe that you can make a difference? Do you believe that your passion can make a difference? Our expectation of what we have to offer the world around us is key! You can make a difference when you believe in you passion! You can see people effected by you and all that you do. You simply have to believe in your passion and act on it. Lets face it the world looks at you and they only see teenagers and kids. They don’t have great expectations for you, they want you to do well in school and in sports, but they see their expectations paying off in the future. So what are you going to do? How are you going to follow your passions and allow your passions to impact people around you? Start dreaming today and rise up and live the life you were meant to live. Write the best story that your life could ever imagine.
Your interest, your loves and passions.
What do you love? I mean really love? How long do you have to think… We love everything these days or at least we say that we love everything. Think about it how many times in a day do you say that you love something. “I love that song, I love that drink, I just love that t.v. show, I love it when that happens and I just love him or her. We are a culture who loves everything all the time. Sounds good right, we are a loving people who love everything. But what is really happening here? How can we love everything? How can we use the word that defines the ultimate emotion for everything. How many of us would say I love my phone, I love my iPod? What has happened to the word love, and what has it done to us as a culture that we really don’t have a word that truly defines the ultimate emotion that a human can feel or express. Lets take a look at it this way, when you think about what you are interested in do you use the word love? I love to play this or that sport? I love that song, I love that movie. What separates and gives value to the things in our life? We all have interest and we all have things that we long to do with our time here on the planet but what drives them and what gives them meaning. Can something have meaning just because we attach the word love to it or has love as a word and a definition lost it power to have meaning. I mean which do you love the most your phone or your parents? You think that’s easy but if you say you love both, then how can you know or the people around you know. We need to think about what drives us to love so many things, because love is a serious word and we need to reclaim it, so that we have a measure of value to live our lives by. What do I mean? Think about this, what helps you determine your interest? What leads you to spend your time where you spend it? The bible has this to say about interest and passions. In Psalms 37:3-6 3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. When we live life out of God and all that He finds pleasing we find the true meaning of life and our lives are full and complete. That is what we are all looking for, but so few of us every find. So we see that God longs for us to trust Him and stand by Him. To Love Him and give the word Love the full importance that it deserves. When we do that when we make our base for our life our relationship with God everything changes. We find that what we consider important the same things that God considers important. We find that our life has the same values as the one who gave things value. Your life is based on the definition of LOVE. Why do so few find this meaning, this way of life? I believe that so few find it because it is an all in sort of life. You have to be all in and trust completely. We don’t trust completely and we are rarely all in. To find this life we need to make our relationship with God the foundation for all that we do. That is hard to do in a world and culture that loves everything. So I ask you this. What do you really love. I mean what would you die for? Think about it.
Cover Articles from Extreme Faith Magazine
Written and Posted by The XGT Experience Team of leaders