Relationship with Your Parents

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November 5 was our meeting about our relationship with our parents.  Many young people today think that authority is a bad and undesirable thing, and so they often rebel against the authorities God has placed in their lives. They fail to understand that as the Author of the universe, He has all authority over it and He delegates authority to human people to accomplish His purposes (Rom. 13:1-5). As young people, the primary authority God has placed over us is our parents. When we submit to their God-given authority, we are submitting to God (Eph. 6:1).  When we disobey our parents authority, we are disobeying God.  Believe it or not, being under authority has many benefits including provision, training, correction, and protection.

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God has given us the protection of our parents.  He uses their authority that He has set in place in our lives to bring blessing and to be a protection over us.  Just like an umbrella protects us from getting wet from the rain, the authority of our parents protects us from the dangers of the world… as long as we stay under their authority.  When we chose to obey our parents, we are choosing to be under the protection that God has set in place.  When we disobey and resist authority we move out from under the protection that God has given us opening ourselves up to the dangers of the enemy.

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It is so important that we have a good relationship with our parents.  When we respect them and their authority, there are many blessings that follow.  Honoring our parents and being submissive is often hard, yet it is the key to a close relationship with our parents.  When your parents ask you to do something that you don’t like, ask the Lord to give you a submissive attitude.  When we have an attitude of true submission, obedient actions will follow naturally and we will being honoring our parents and the Lord.

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As we seek to be strong for the Lord and use the years of our youth for Him, we need to choose to honor the authority of our parents and seek to develop a close relationship with them.  As we honor our parents, others will notice and we will be a shining testimony to them.  Let’s each commit to honoring our parents and developing a close relationship with them for the glory of God.  Ask the Lord to help you gain a submissive attitude and to provide you with opportunities to build your relationship with your parents.

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For our activity time, the girls enjoyed making cards for their parents and writing notes of gratefulness to them.

Practical Assignment:  Write down three specific ways that you can intentionally honor your parents this coming week and do those things before the next meeting!

Joyfulness

On April 9, Mindy Caron taught the lesson on “Joyfulness” since I was gone a ministry trip with my dad.  Here’s my sister’s (Deborah) recap of meeting.

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We were so blessed to have our friend Mindy Caron teach the lesson on Joyfulness. Mindy originally started the Bemidji Bright Lights group a number of years ago, and she is such a radiant example of joy!

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Joyfulness…what is the opposite? Self-pity is the opposite of joyfulness. Why is joyfulness important? Well, we are representing Jesus, who is the Source of joy. The world cannot give joy; only Jesus can.

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Meet Joy. Joy loves to read her Bible. She sings a lot, too—there’s a song in her heart. Joy often has a smile on her face as well.

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Now meet Selfie. Selfie is much different than Joy. She has no smile, sings no song. Her attitude is negative much of the time.

What makes the difference between these two?

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Joy focuses on God. She compares herself with Him—her goal is to be like Him. She’s not focusing on the circumstances around her. Joy realizes that God has a purpose for everything that He allows to happen each day of her life. She trusts Him. Since she is not focusing on herself but rather on the Source of joy, she has joy that only God gives. He is the One who puts joy in her heart!

Selfie, on the other hand, is focused on herself. She is constantly comparing herself with others and wears a polka-dot dress because she wants to be like everyone else. Selfie focuses on the circumstances around her instead of deciding to trust God’s plan for the circumstances. Selfie has no joy because she is not focused on the Source of joy.

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Sometimes things happen in life and it seems we only want to be angry, bitter, or irritated. But joy does not depend on life’s circumstances. Our girl Joy chooses to trust God’s plan and remembers there is a bigger picture. One day Joy’s little brother took her bike out and accidentally crashed it. He came and apologized to her. Joy was tempted to be angry, but she remembered that God is in control of her circumstances and realized that God was using this to grow her character. “I forgive you, buddy,” she said. “It’s just a bike.” Joy could have let self-pity creep in and rule her actions. She could have said, “I deserve to be upset—he wrecked my bike and now I can’t ride it.” But instead she realized God allowed this for a reason, and she was able to respond in an appropriate way. Joy felt a flood of joyfulness come over her. Since she chose to focus on the Source of joy, she experienced the joy He gives.

Don’t be filled with self-pity; instead, be grateful. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” If you start to fall into the trap of self-pity, stop and give thanks for the blessings you have been given. It is amazing what an attitude of gratefulness can do!

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Whenever you don’t feel joyful—say you are asked to do a job you dislike—choose to rejoice (“I get to help my mom!” “I have an able body to do this!” “I’m learning character!”). Or when something happens that you really don’t like—for instance, when Joy’s brother crashed her bike—remember God’s words in James 1:2-3: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Notice we are not told to rejoice just when our circumstances look good. In the Lord, we always have much to rejoice about! Remember, Selfie looked at her circumstances and compared herself with others, and as a result she had no joy, while Joy focused on God and made it her aim to be like Him, and He filled her heart with joy. You may not feel joyful in the moment, but keep your focus on God and keep rejoicing in Him, and your feelings will catch up.

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One of the “Joy-Givers” Mindy listed was gratefulness. Yes, giving thanks can really give you a joy boost! The activity we did was what I’ll call a “Grateful Race.” We divided the the girls into two teams and the girl at the front of each team line had to run to the board and write something she was grateful for. We made it more interesting by changing the letter of the alphabet they were supposed to use to start each word (for example, use the letter A—apples, air). They only had two or three minutes, and whoever had the longest list at the end won. It was a great way to get them to think fast about things they were thankful for!

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As a follow-up to that principle, my sister and I made little thankfulness notebooks to give to the girls where they can write things they are thankful for…to get a little boost of joy!

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Complaining and Murmuring

Last night we discussed a tough topic: complaining and murmuring.  Why do people complain?  One main reason is because of expectations.  We have our own ideas of how we want things to be, and as soon as something doesn’t go according to our plan we grumble and complain.  Complaining is an indicator that we are focusing on ourselves rather than on the needs of others.

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We talked about a group of people who were expert complainers… the Israelites.  We all know how they complained about almost everything: food (Ex. 16:1-8), water (Ex. 15:23-25; 17:2-3), the Promised land (Num. 14:2-4), God’s justice (Num. 16:41-49), and the God’s provision (Num. 21:5-6).  They complained in spite of the fact that God had delivered them from slavery and protected and provided for them in countless ways.

Its easy to criticize them and wonder why in the world they complained so much!  Yet when we stop to think about how often we complain,  we realize we are just like the Israelites in many ways.  Most of us are so used to complaining that we don’t even realize we are doing it.  Our natural response whenever anything goes wrong is to grumble and complain.  Yet its important to keep in mind that anytime we complain, we are actually complaining against the Lord (Ex. 16:8).

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In each of our lives, we are going of experience suffering.  God often allows His people to go through difficulties, but His purpose is not to destroy us or ruin our lives.  Suffering is part of God’s plan to make us into the beautiful jewel He wants us to be (Job 23:10).  Complaining demonstrates that we are not fully trusting God.  If we truly trust God, we will joyfully acknowledge that He is in control of every detail of our lives and that He knows what is best.  Yet the Lord’s command is not simply that we do not complain, but that we actually rejoice in suffering (1 Thes. 5:18)!

The reason we can rejoice in suffering is because we’re looking ahead towards the reward.  We need to focus on the reward and recognize that the suffering is small compared to God’s blessing.  Our attitude is completely dependent upon the way we look at things.  As an example of this, we had Olevia put on two different pairs of glasses.  One pair of glasses made everything look blurry, while the other pair made everything look dark.  That didn’t mean that things were blurry or dark in reality; the glasses simply changed her perception of reality.

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Our response to suffering depends upon our perspective: are we looking at the situation from our own earthly perspective, or are we looking at it from God’s perspective? Knowing that God works all things for our ultimate good, we can rejoice in suffering.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal wight of glory.” -2 Corinthians 4:17

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Complaining and murmuring hider our light and testimony for the Lord.  So how can we stop complaining when it comes so natural to us?  We came up with a list of some things to help us to stop complaining:

  • Ask the Lord to help you see things from His perspective.
  • Give thanks for and rejoice in problems even if you don’t understand or everything seems unfair.
  • Memorize Scripture about complaining – God’s Word hidden in our hearts is a tool against temptation.
  • Keep a gratefulness journal – cultivating a grateful attitude will help us to think twice before we complain.  It might even be a good idea to write down something to be grateful for in a particular situation when you’re tempted to complain about it.

Above all, we need to ask the Lord to help us to stop complaining… we can’t change without His help!

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In our small groups we studied the story of Paul and Silas thrown into prison (Acts 16:16-40).  We noted how they were praising the Lord in the midst of their suffering and how the Lord used that seemingly terrible situation to bring about many good things!

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Small group smiles :)

Then we did everyone’s favorite activity… small group skits! :)  Each group had to make up a skit in which there was complaining, whining, or grumbling.  They then had to incorporate a Bible verse to correct the complaining attitudes portrayed in the skit.  As usual, there was lots of laughter as the girls complained lots of different things.  It helped us to realize that most of the things we complain about are trivial, silly, and totally not worth making a fuss about.

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Complaining about the chairs and then complaining that others are complaining about the chairs!  Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:18
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Complaining about being interrupted from watching TV to do chores.  Verse: Philippians 2:14
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A cold shower, spilled milk, late for school, a bossy older sister, and whiny little sister, and disappearing cookies make for a day of complaining.  Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:16
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Complaining when mom reminds you to wash the dishes, practice your instrument, do your schoolwork, clean the bathroom, and various other disagreeable chores.  Verse: Philippians 2:14

We munched yummy snacks from Hannah, Sophie, and Olevia as we sat around the tables enjoying fellowship with one another.  It’s such a blessing to have a wonderful group of young ladies seeking to honor the Lord with their lives.  It’s a privilege to encourage each other to keep shining for Jesus, even when it’s difficult.  See you all on Novmeber 21!

Gratefulness Challenge

Since our lesson was about gratefulness at our last Bright Lights meeting, I wanted to share with you a challenge that a friend of mine, Sarah Bryant of the King’s Blooming Rose ministries (KBR), has created for young ladies during the month of November.  It’s called “Give Thanks x7” challenge and here is what it’s all about (details from the KBR website):

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Give Thanks Challenge 2013

2014 GiveThanks! x7 Challenge

“Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.”
Psalm 119:164

With the Thanksgiving season approaching, let us challenge one another in giving thanks to the Father of all gifts every day this month. You are invited to join us for the next 30 days as we praise Him for His daily benefits!

You are welcome to ask a sibling or accountability partner to take this challenge with you. Feel free to copy the above image and share on your blog to invite others to join you in the challenge!

Begins: November 1, 2013

Ends: November 30, 2013

Rules: Record at least 7 things each day that you are grateful for either in your personal journal, this ready-made chart, or on our private group where we can keep one another accountable throughout the month. (If you miss a day, please make it up the next day.)

Reward: Send us a letter by December 4, 2013, letting us know that you completed the 2013 Give Thanks! challenge. (Letters received after this date cannot be rewarded.) Include your name, age, parent’s signature, and mailing address (or fill this form out and mail it to us). We will send you a small gift.

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I have done this challenge in the past and it has been a blessing to me.  I thought it would be appropriate to share with you all since we just had our lesson on gratefulness.  Thanking the Lord for 7 things each day will help us to cultivate a grateful attitude in our lives.  See you next week!

Gratefulness

Last night we started Set 5 of the Bright Lights curriculum with a lesson on gratefulness.  We were delighted to have four new young ladies join us… it’s been a blessing to see the Lord growing our group this year with girls who desire to be bright lights.

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For lesson on gratefulness, we started out by talking about how our culture tells us to look out for ourselves and is very me-centered, but gratefulness is not me-centered at all – true gratefulness is giving appreciation to others rather than expecting attention or wanting more for ourselves. In order to be truly grateful, we need to understand that everything we have has been given to us.  Anything we have can be attributed to the investments God or others have made in our life.  Having an attitude of gratefulness makes it so much easier to recognize when others do something for us and use our words of gratefulness to bless and encourage them.

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We then talked about being grateful to our parents and made a list of the many different things they do for us.  It can be so easy to get caught up in thinking about what our parents don’t do for us or won’t allow us to do and become ungrateful and complaining all the time.  But as we think about everything that they do for us, it makes us realize we have so much more to thank them for than to complain about!  An attitude of gratefulness makes it much easier to obey the Lord’s command honor, obey, and respect our parents.

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It’s easy to be grateful for the things that we like, but true gratefulness is being thankful even for the things that you don’t like because you realize that God is using it for good.  An attitude of gratefulness is only possible if we are willing to trust that God knows best in every detail of our lives.

I shared with the girls about my grandma who had a stroke last week… what could I be grateful for about that?  Yet as I was preparing this lesson on gratefulness I took a few minutes to think about what I could be thankful for in this difficult situation.  It may be surprising, but this exercise helped me to realize that there is so much to be grateful for in this situation, such as it helped me to learn to trust the Lord more and to value having my grandmother living close by.

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To close the lesson time, I handed out some paper and asked the girls to think of a situation, circumstance, or person that they are struggling to accept as from the Lord with gratitude.  Then I asked them to make a list of 3 or more possible benefits (things they could be thankful for) about this “problem” has in their life. We then had a time of silent prayer asking the Lord for His help to have a grateful attitude about their situation.

For our activity, we divided into 4 small groups, each with a list.  Using the prompts on the list, each group was to write down things related to gratefulness (one possession they were grateful for, one animal that shows gratefulness, a phrase expressing gratefulness, etc.).  Then when they came back with the lists completed, I surprised them and switched the lists.  Now each group had a list completed by a different group and they had to write a song about gratefulness using the words on the list.  It was funny to hear the girls singing about being thankful for pizza, dogs, and various other things.

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Song to the tune of Jingle Bells chorus
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Song to the tune of Yankee Doodle
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Song to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
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Song to the tune of Jingle Bells – verse and chorus

We enjoyed our fall themed snacks and tea as we spent the rest of the evening in fellowship and laughter.  The Lord really blessed the meeting and I am looking forward to a wonderful school year of  studying God’s Word together.

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Pumpkin bars, acorn treats, and cinnamon roll cookies

See you all again on November 7!