Confirmation

Confirmation Classes

Confirmation is an important milestone in the faith journey of our young people. Confirmation is not an end to training in the faith, but rather a beginning of a new journey in faith as a young adult in the church. Trinity offers a three-year Confirmation curriculum for youth in grades 6, 7, and 8. Over the course of the three years students cover the six chief parts from the Small Catechism, a book written by Martin Luther that provides a Biblically accurate and simple guide for outlining belief. Students also participate in retreats and community-building events, complete servant activities, take sermon notes to better understand the Christian message, and grow spiritually under the direction of adult mentors during the Lenten season. Upon completion of the Confirmation curriculum students publicly affirm their faith in Christ through the Rite of Confirmation on Confirmation Sunday, the last Sunday in April.

Please direct questions to Beth Stephens, Beth@tlcms.org, Pastor Mark, mark@tlcms.org, or Pastor Phil, phil@tlcms.org.

Shawnee Campus

Meets 6:30-7:30pm
Sundays
September 27 – April
Virtual option available

Mission Campus

Meets 6:30-7:30am
Wednesdays
September 30 – April
Virtual option available

Six Chief Parts of the Catechism

I. The Ten Commandments
As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his household

The First Commandment

You shall have no other gods.

What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

The Second Commandment

You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

The Third Commandment

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.

The Fifth Commandment

You shall not murder.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.

The Sixth Commandment

You shall not commit adultery.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.

The Seventh Commandment

You shall not steal.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.

The Eighth Commandment

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.

The Ninth Commandment

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.

The Tenth Commandment

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor’s wife, workers, or animals, or turn them against him, but urge them to stay and do their duty.

[The text of the commandments is from Ex. 20:3, 7, 8, 12–17.]

The Close of the Commandments

What does God say about all these commandments?

He says, “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Ex. 20: 5–6)

What does this mean? God threatens to punish all who break these commandments. Therefore, we should fear His wrath and not do anything against them. But He promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands.

From Luther’s Small Catechism © 1986 Concordia Publishing House, cph.org

II. The Creed
As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household

The First Article: Creation

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

What does this mean? I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.

This is most certainly true.

The Second Article: Redemption

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

What does this mean? I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.

This is most certainly true.

The Third Article: Sanctification

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

What does this mean? I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.

This is most certainly true.

From Luther’s Small Catechism © 1986 Concordia Publishing House, cph.org

III. The Lord's Prayer
As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Introduction

Our Father who art in heaven.

What does this mean? With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.

The First Petition

Hallowed be Thy name.

What does this mean? God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also.

How is God’s name kept holy? God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this, heavenly Father!

The Second Petition

Thy kingdom come.

What does this mean? The kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.

How does God’s kingdom come? God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.

The Third Petition

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

What does this mean? The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.

How is God’s will done? God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die.

This is His good and gracious will.

The Fourth Petition

Give us this day our daily bread.

What does this mean? God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

What is meant by daily bread? Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

The Fifth Petition

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

What does this mean? We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny our prayer because of them. We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. So we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us.

The Sixth Petition

And lead us not into temptation.

What does this mean? God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.

The Seventh Petition

But deliver us from evil.

What does this mean? We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.

The Conclusion

For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.* Amen.

What does this mean? This means that I should be certain that these petitions are pleasing to our Father in heaven, and are heard by Him; for He Himself has commanded us to pray in this way and has promised to hear us. Amen, amen means “yes, yes, it shall be so.”

*These words were not in Luther’s Small Catechism.

From Luther’s Small Catechism © 1986 Concordia Publishing House, cph.org

IV. The Sacrament of Holy Baptism

As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household

First

What is Baptism?

Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s word.

Which is that word of God?

Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19)

Second

What benefits does Baptism give?

It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.

Which are these words and promises of God?

Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)

Third

How can water do such great things?

Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things, along with the faith which trusts this word of God in the water. For without God’s word the water is plain water and no Baptism. But with the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says in Titus, chapter three: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.” (Titus 3:5–8)

Fourth

What does such baptizing with water indicate?

It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written?

St. Paul writes in Romans chapter six: “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Rom. 6:4)

From Luther’s Small Catechism © 1986 Concordia Publishing House, cph.org
V. Confession

How Christians should be taught to confess

What is Confession?

Confession has two parts. First, that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.

What sins should we confess?

Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even those we are not aware of, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer; but before the pastor we should confess only those sins which we know and feel in our hearts.

Which are these?

Consider your place in life according to the Ten Commandments: Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy? Have you been hot-tempered, rude, or quarrelsome? Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds? Have you stolen, been negligent, wasted anything, or done any harm?

A Short Form of Confession

[Luther intended the following form to serve only as an example of private confession for Christians of his time. For a contemporary form of individual confession, see Lutheran Worship, pp. 310–11; see Lutheran Service Book, pp. 292–93.]

The penitent says: Dear confessor, I ask you please to hear my confession and to pronounce forgiveness in order to fulfill God’s will.I, a poor sinner, plead guilty before God of all sins. In particular I confess before you that as a servant, maid, etc., I, sad to say, serve my master unfaithfully, for in this and that I have not done what I was told to do. I have made him angry and caused him to curse. I have been negligent and allowed damage to be done. I have also been offensive in words and deeds. I have quarreled with my peers. I have grumbled about the lady of the house and cursed her. I am sorry for all of this and I ask for grace. I want to do better.

A master or lady of the house may say: In particular I confess before you that I have not faithfully guided my children, servants, and wife to the glory of God. I have cursed. I have set a bad example by indecent words and deeds. I have hurt my neighbor and spoken evil of him. I have overcharged, sold inferior merchandise, and given less than was paid for.[Let the penitent confess whatever else he has done against God’s commandments and his own position.]If, however, someone does not find himself burdened with these or greater sins, he should not trouble himself or search for or invent other sins, and thereby make confession a torture. Instead, he should mention one or two that he knows: In particular I confess that I have cursed; I have used improper words; I have neglected this or that, etc. Let that be enough.But if you know of none at all (which hardly seems possible), then mention none in particular, but receive the forgiveness upon the general confession which you make to God before the confessor.

Then the confessor shall say:

God be merciful to you and strengthen your faith. Amen.

Furthermore:

Do you believe that my forgiveness is God’s forgiveness? Yes, dear confessor.

Then let him say:

Let it be done for you as you believe. And I, by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, forgive you your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Go in peace.

A confessor will know additional passages with which to comfort and to strengthen the faith of those who have great burdens of conscience or are sorrowful and distressed.

This is intended only as a general form of confession.

What is the Office of the Keys?*

The Office of the Keys is that special authority which Christ has given to His church on earth to forgive the sins of repentant sinners, but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as long as they do not repent.

Where is this written?*

This is what St. John the Evangelist writes in chapter twenty: The Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:22–23)

What do you believe according to these words?*

I believe that when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, in particular when they exclude openly unrepentant sinners from the Christian congregation and absolve those who repent of their sins and want to do better, this is just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself.

*This question may not have been composed by Luther himself but reflects his teaching and was included in editions of the catechism during his lifetime.


From Luther’s Small Catechism © 1986 Concordia Publishing House, cph.org
VI. The Sacrament of the Altar

As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household

What is the Sacrament of the Altar?

It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.

Where is this written?

The holy Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul write:Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.”

In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

What is the benefit of this eating and drinking?

These words, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?

Certainly not just eating and drinking do these things, but the words written here: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” These words, along with the bodily eating and drinking, are the main thing in the Sacrament. Whoever believes these words has exactly what they say: “forgiveness of sins.”

Who receives this sacrament worthily?

Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training. But that person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

But anyone who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words “for you” require all hearts to believe.


From Luther’s Small Catechism © 1986 Concordia Publishing House, cph.org

Introduction

Components of Mentoring Sessions

Each week is designed to be super simple and the only supplies you will need are a device to pull up the weekly content and video, and a Bible!

 

1. Opening/Closing Prayers

Prayer is an important part of our walk with Jesus! Every session has an opening and closing prayer. Come up with a plan of who is going to read what prayer each week. You can rotate or do whatever feels comfortable, but both the mentor and the student should participate. If you have person prayer requests, you can start with those and then do the written prayer.

2. Opening Question

As you begin the content, there will be a question to introduce the topic. Sometimes it is a fun question or a little bit of a serious one. Both people should answer!

3. Chat Room Video

  • Each week the mentor and student will watch a video of high school and college students discussing a variety of topics. They are between 8-10 minutes long. If you are meeting online, it might be good to watch the video ahead of time and then discuss it together. But you can figure out what works best for you. I included the questions that the students discuss in your sheets. I would suggest reading through the questions before watching the video so you know what to look for.
  • After the video, talk about what you agreed or disagreed with, any questions you have, and things that stood out to you. This debriefing is super important! Make sure to listen to each other. You are coming from different perspectives as you watch the video. Mentors, be careful not to instruct the students, let them respond while you listen. Students, be honest with your mentor, and listen to them in the same way.
  • If you are meeting in-person, make sure at least one of you have a phone or something to watch the video!

4. Bible Connection

After watching and debriefing the video, you will be looking at an Old Testament account of a person’s life who mirrors in some way the topic of the week. You can take turns reading or come up with something that works well for both of you. You will read some excellent “Beth Stephens Summaries” in conjunction with reading the text. There will also be some discussion questions along the way. Have fun reading about the people of the Old Testament in connection with our weekly topic!

5. Weekly Challenge

Our intention with Lenten mentoring is really to encourage a link between the mentor and student that goes beyond this season of Lent. Typically students and mentors would be spending time in worship together and maybe eating a meal together at Shawnee. The weekly challenges are a way for students and mentors to learn more about each other and hopefully have some fun too! Each week you will submit your plan via a google form. You might see Beth try out some of the things you do!

 

I am so excited to see the ways God works through these weeks and the conversations we will have! Thank you for being an important part of this process! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out! Beth@tlcms.org

Beth Stephens, DCE
Youth Family Minister

Week 1

Influence

 

Opening Prayer

(Take turns each week with who prays the opening prayer.)

Heavenly Father,

Help me experience your presence.

Lead me to deeper levels of trust.

Give me the courage to put my hands in yours.

Amen.

 

Opening Question: Who influences your life the most?

Check out this “Chat Room” discussion that Switch Youth put together. The students will discuss the questions below. Read them together before you watch the video and pay attention to the things the students say that you may or may not agree with. 

Questions

  • Who is the most powerful figure of your time?
  • What is a good influence?
  • How will you know if you are a good influence?
  • When was the last time you had hope?
  • How are hope and influence connected?

 

What did you notice in the video? How would you answer those questions?

Bible Connection

For our Bible connection today, we will be taking a look at the true story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Back in the day, God’s people had been taken captive by the Babylonians. The King had some advisors who suggested the King should make everyone worship their gods and if someone chose not to worship the gods, they should be thrown into a fiery furnace. The King agreed. Our three friends had done very well in captivity and had important responsibilities. However, they could not worship a false idol god. When the King found out that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not worship his gods, he was furious. We will pick up the story in Daniel Chapter 3 verses 13-30.

 

Daniel 3:13-30

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

Talk about It

  1. Look through the account and identify how people were influenced by each other.
  2. Who was a positive influence?
  3. Who was a negative influence?
  4. What does this story tell us about God?

We hopefully will never be thrown into a furnace because we follow Christ. But the same God who saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is the same God who loves us, cares for us, and walks with us in life. When we encounter the King Nebuchadnezzars and furnaces of 2021, may we respond in the same way as those three men. Look at verses 17-18 again.

“Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” — Message Translation

They trusted God so much that even if it meant dying in a toasty furnace, they still trusted Him over the King’s fake idols. Because they were faithful to God, King Nebuchadnezzar and everyone who was there, witnessed God’s power and love. There might be things in your life that feel like furnaces. Situations or people that are trying to influence you.

  • What might be a furnace in your life now? How can you resist the negative influences in your life?

 

Weekly Challenge

Tell each other about a favorite hobby. Make a plan to try out each other’s hobbies. Submit your plan to Beth via this form:

 

Closing Prayer

Lord Jesus,

You are King of all things,

The things on Earth and the things in heaven.

May my eyes see you as King.

May my body honor you as King.

May my heart revere you as King.

Amen.

Week 2

Generosity

 

Opening Prayer

Here we are, Lord.
Quiet our minds.
Open our hearts.
Give us ears to hear your invitation and the faith to respond.
Amen.

  • How did your weekly challenge go? Tell each other!

Opening Question: Who is the most generous person you know?

What are you selfish with?

Questions

  • Are Americans selfish?
  • What are you selfish with?
  • How much money is enough for one person to live one year?
  • Do you feel like you have enough money?
  • What is the most generous thing that has ever happened to you?
  • What does it take for someone to go from selfish to generous?

 

What did you hear in the video that you agree or disagree with? Anything confusing that they said?

God doesn’t love us more because we are generous. His love isn’t based on the things we do or don’t do. Generosity is part of following Jesus because of what God has given us through Jesus. God generously poured out His love for us and now we get to respond and pour it out into the lives of people around us through our time, abilities, and opportunities.

Talk about ways people can be generous in these areas: Time, Abilities, and Opportunities

Bible Connection

In our Bible Connection for this week, we are reading about this cool lady named Ruth. Ruth was married to this man, and his mother was named Naomi. Naomi’s husband and her sons died. Naomi told Ruth and her other daughter-in-law to go back to their families because she wanted them to be taken care of. Ruth would not leave Naomi. Read what she said in the book of Ruth chapter 1 verses 16-19.

Ruth 1:16-19

16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

19 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?”

Wow! Ruth would not leave Naomi even though they did not know how they were going to find shelter or food! Ruth comes up with a plan to see if a farmer would let her pick up left behind grain after the harvests. So she went to the field of a man named Boaz. Check out how Boaz responds when he sees her picking up the leftovers: Ruth chapter 2 verses 5-12.

Ruth 2:5-12

5 Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” 6 And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”

8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. 9 Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” 10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”

Talk about It

Boaz goes on to make sure Ruth and Naomi are cared for. And eventually Boaz marries Ruth. This account also points us to the love and acceptance of Jesus. Jesus came down to Earth, suffered and died in our place and then welcomes us into His family. Boaz cared for Ruth and then welcomed her into his family. In fact, Boaz and Ruth were Jesus’ ancestors. The Promised Savior came from the line of Boaz and Ruth.

  • In this story, where do you see generosity?

You might not have the chance to stay with an elderly Mother-in-Law or have someone picking up leftovers out of your trash, but how can you be generous in your life with the opportunities you’ve been given? How can you be a Boaz, or Ruth to those around you? *Marriage isn’t a good answer to this question probably.

 

  • When is it hard to be generous?
  • What is one way you can practice generosity this week?

Weekly Challenge

Tell each other about your favorite game (video, card, board, online). Make a plan to try out each other’s favorite game! Submit your plan to Beth:

 

Closing Prayer

Loving God,
Thank you for your grace and the invitation to be free.
Thank you for calling us to live in truth and generosity.
Give us eyes to see the ways we are selfish.
Give us eyes to see those who desperately need your grace and the reminder that you love them.
Use me to be your ambassador of grace and freedom.
Amen.

Week 3

Priorities

 

Opening Prayer

Opening Prayer:
Father in Heaven,
Hallowed be your name.
May Your Kingdom come,
May Your Will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Amen.

  • How did your weekly challenge go? Tell each other!

Opening Question: What is a trend that you liked but couldn’t explain why?

What matters the most to you?

Questions

  • What matters the most to you?
  • What is something that mattered a lot to you in middle school, but doesn’t now?
  • Can you look at someone and tell if you’re going to be friends with them?
  • How do you find common ground with someone when what matters most to them is something you don’t care about?
  • Are your friends your biggest support group? Or is your family?
  • What do you do when following Jesus is important to you but not to your friends?

 

Bible Connection: Esther and Mordecai

A brief intro summary (but if you have time, definitely read through the whole account!):

Esther is one of my favorite Old Testament accounts. Open up your Bible to the book of Esther. She is living in a time of captivity. God’s people were persecuted. King Xerses wasn’t great. He was a sensitive, controlling husband and ruler. He banished his former queen because she didn’t come to an event when he asked. So he went on a search for a new queen.

Esther was chosen from a group of women to be the next queen. However, Esther didn’t tell anyone she was part of God’s people, the Jews. Esther’s cousin, Mordecai worked at the gate of the King’s palace. King Xerses was a big fan of Esther because of her beauty and humility. Mordecai uncovered a plot to kill the King, revealed the plan to Esther, who told the King. The King was very happy to not be dead and rewarded Mordecai and Esther.

The King had another advisor named Haman, let’s read about him in Chapter 2 verses 1-11.

Esther 2:1-11

1 After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. 2 Then the king’s young men who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. 3 And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given them. 4 And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so.

5 Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, 6 who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. 7 He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. 8 So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. 9 And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem. 10 Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. 11 And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.

Haman is the worst. When the Jews heard the news about Haman’s plan, they were all very upset. At first, Esther didn’t want to get involved because she was afraid of the King. Look at what Mordecai said to her, chapter 4 verses 12-14.

Esther 4:12-14

12 And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. 13 Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Then, Esther sent word to her cousin Mordecai and said that after a period of fasting and praying she would approach the King without permission to address the edict. If you remember, King Xerses doesn’t like people telling him what to do. Esther said, “And if I perish, I perish.” (chapter 4, verse 16). She showed extreme bravery and compassion for her people!

However, Esther was very nervous when the time came, and rightfully so! If the King didn’t like what Esther had to say, she would be killed! Thankfully, the King let Esther talk to him but instead of bringing up the edict, Esther invited the King and Haman to have dinner with her. At the dinner, she was nervous again and invited the King and Haman to another dinner with her. In between the dinners, the King remembers how Mordecai saved his life and plans a parade for him. He orders Haman to help with the parade honoring Mordecai.

At this dinner, Esther reveals Haman’s plan to the King. Read what Esther boldly told the King, in chapter 7 verses 1-7.

Esther 7:1-7

1 So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. 2 And on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said to Esther, “What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” 3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. 4 For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king.” 5 Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has dared to do this?” 6 And Esther said, “A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.

7 And the king arose in his wrath from the wine-drinking and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm was determined against him by the king.

The King is angry with Haman! Esther courageously spoke up for her people. Mordecai honored God in his position at the gate and in Esther’s life. Both of them risked their life and status in order to follow what mattered most to them.

 

Talk about It

Life can be hard. Difficult times happen, and pain cannot be avoided. When life doesn’t make sense, do you turn to God or away from Him? Who do we listen to when we encounter these difficult times? Let the book of Esther encourage you that God is always present. Jesus called us “friends” (John 15:15), and the Spirit is our “Helper” (14:26). Trust and obey, as Esther did. And watch God silently weave all events for His glory.

God does His Work through His people. God worked through Mordecai and Esther to save His people. God is at work through you too!

 

Weekly Challenge

What is your favorite animated movie? Make a plan to try to watch at least the trailer of each other’s favorite movie! Tell Beth:

 

Closing Prayer

Father,
You have called me the salt of the Earth and the light of the world.
You have seen my deeds and heard my thoughts.
Let my life be an encouragement to others so they find freedom and life that is truly life.
Here I stand.
May I be the light of the world.
Amen.

Week 4

Anxiety & Stress

 

Opening Prayer

Opening Prayer:
Heavenly Father,
Help me experience your presence.
Lead me to deeper levels of trust.
Give me the courage to put my hands in yours.
Amen.

  • How did your weekly challenge go? Tell each other!

Opening Question: What is the biggest “upset” victory you can recall? Do you usually root for the favored team or the underdog?

Questions

  • Is anxiety an epidemic?
  • Do you think that you’ve ever had an anxiety attack?
  • If you could make one phone call to finish processing this topic, who would you call?

 

● What did you think about the way the students talked about this topic? Do you disagree with anything they said? Was there something you related to?

Anxiety and stress are parts of living in this broken world. It is important to talk about things that give us greater anxiety or stress. It is also important to develop strategies to not let those things overwhelm us.

● What is something in your life that gives you stress? It can be something simple as when you put too much peanut butter on your sandwich or maybe when you get a bad grade on a test. What is something in your life that gives you some anxiety or stress?

Sometimes even adults don’t handle their stress levels very well. It is important for all of us to keep checking in with all aspects of our health. What are some things you can do when you start to feel anxious and stress build up?

Bible Connection: Gideon

Open up your Bibles to Judges chapter 6. We are going to be looking at a warrior named Gideon today. Here’s what was happening. God’s people were rebellious again and were given into the hands of the Midianites. These people were rude and would steal the crops and livestock of God’s people. God saw the distress of His people and decided to send Gideon to help. God sent an angel of the Lord to have a chat with Gideon about the plan. Let’s check it out in Judges 6:11-16.

Judges 6:11-16

11 Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” 13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”

After Gideon questioned God a few more times, he submitted to God’s plan. Turn to chapter 7. God wanted His people to know that He was the one saving them, it was by His power that the Midianites would be defeated. Look at what He tells Gideon in chapter 7 verses 2-8.

Judges 7:2-8

2 The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ 3 Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.

4 And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” 5 So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” 6 And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. 7 And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.” 8 So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.

God takes Gideon’s army from 32,000, to 10,000, to 300. How would you feel if you had been Gideon when God asked him to cut his army down to 300? That might seem like a lot to us, but in Judges it says that the camels from the Midian camp were like grains of sand on the seashore, so they couldn’t even count them. That is probably more than 300 camels, let alone people!

  • What do you think God was trying to prove when he asked Gideon to cut down his army?

Judges 7:17-24

17 And he said to them, “Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. 18 When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”

19 So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. 20 Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. 22 When they blew the 300 trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath. 23 And the men of Israel were called out from Naphtali and from Asher and from all Manasseh, and they pursued after Midian.

24 Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and capture the waters against them, as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan.” So all the men of Ephraim were called out, and they captured the waters as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan.

Talk about It

Hopefully, we never find ourselves in exactly the same position as Gideon, where we are about to fight thousands of people with trumpets and torches. But there will be moments, days, or maybe even seasons where our anxieties, stresses, situations seem to outnumber us significantly. Where we feel like we don’t have enough strength, skills, time, energy, or friends to get through. Can you imagine what Gideon might have been thinking when he saw all those people camped in the valley? How that anxiety, fear, and stress might have started to build in his gut and chest?

Thankfully, God makes us the same promise He made to Gideon. No, God isn’t going to send 300 men to help you defeat the stresses in your life (but He could!). He promises to be with us, to love us, and care for us. He forgives us when we make mistakes. He comforts us when we are sad. He always loves us. He provided for our greatest need by sending Jesus to be our Savior and the Savior of the world.

Weekly Challenge

What is your favorite homemade meal? Make a plan to try to make each other’s favorite meal during the week (ask for parents’ help!). Tell Beth!

 

Closing Prayer

Lord,
We know your character based on our own experiences and what we read in the Bible.
We still don’t fully trust you with every area of our lives. Remind us of your unfailing love, unmatched power, and ability to bring peace in the midst of our stress. Remind us of your willingness to rescue us and be our refuge. Be the center of our lives, our stronghold, and our light. Amen. 

Week 5

Pranks & Bullying

 

Opening Prayer

Dear Lord,
Here I am.
Remind me who I am.
I am loved.
I am known.
I belong to you through Christ.
Amen.

  • How did your weekly challenge go? Tell each other!

Opening Question: Have you ever pulled a great prank or had someone prank you?

Questions

  • How can you tell when a prank has gone too far?
  • What is the line between joking and bullying?
  • If a situation does get toxic, what do you do in that moment?
  • What if you don’t know the person getting bullied, then what do you do?
  • Earlier you said that you can tell if a prank has gone too far if someone cries or gets hurt. Would it be too late at that point?
  • Has this conversation changed the way you view the topic?

 

Bible Connection: The Parable of the Loving Father

Before you read this text, think about these things. Should people be punished when they make mistakes or mess up? When should people be forgiven? What does it look like to love someone when they make a mistake?

Jesus is telling this parable to teach the tax collectors, Pharisees, disciples, and us about God’s love. The Pharisees didn’t think Jesus should be hanging out with tax collectors. Nobody really liked tax collectors because they often took advantage of people and looked for ways to increase their profit. As you read this parable (stories to teach people about God), think about what Jesus was wanting to teach the people? What did he want them to know about how God sees all people?

Read Luke 15:11-32

Luke 15:11-32

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Talk about It

  1. Which character represented God?
  2. What do you think Jesus was trying to teach?
  3. What does this mean for our lives today?
  4. Is there anything “too big” for God to forgive?
  5. What can we learn from the older son?

Over the past 5 weeks, we have looked at videos about the world we live in and the lives of different Bible characters. We talked about anxiety, stress, influence, selfishness, and generosity. Today we are looking at how God forgives. The students in the video discussed bullying and pranks. How does that connect to the parable of the Loving Father?

  • How did the father respond when his son came back? How did the father respond when the older son pitched a fit?
  • Did he belittle or criticize either of them? Did he make them feel bad, dumb, or sad?

We are called to live lives that mirror God’s love for us. So if that is how God responds to us, that is how we should respond to others. Why do you think people prank each other? Why do they bully?

I love a good joke, and have definitely pulled some pranks in my past. However, if our intention in the prank or joke is to belittle another person or point out their mistakes or shortcomings, that is not of God and we should resist that temptation. If our friends make us feel dumb or bad often, we should reconsider that friendship. If we see our friends making fun of other people or pranking them, we should reconsider that friendship. God loves all people. God loves you. You do not need to belittle others in order to feel better about yourself.

More Discussion

  • On a scale of 1-6, how often do you see people bullying/pranking others? (1 being never, and 6 being all the time.)
  • What is more difficult for you: 1. Not pranking/bullying people, or 2. Not laughing when someone else is pranked/bullied.

We live in a broken world. People will continue to bully others. God has called us to be little lights that reflect His love to others. This week think about ways that you can shine that light in your daily life. Who is a good example of how to live a loving life for you?

Weekly Challenge

Pick out your top 5 songs and share them with each other. Listen to each other’s “playlist” throughout the week. Tell Beth!

 

Closing Prayer

Father,
Thank you for welcoming us into your family through Christ and joining us together with those who love you. Thank you for giving us the gift of belonging, security, and faith. Remind us that this is not a life to be lived alone or at a safe distance from other believers. Show us what it means to truly live in communion with others. And may your Kingdom come in and through your church.
Amen.