Inner Beauty

Singing favorites from the BL songbook around the piano
Singing favorites from the BL songbook around the piano

May 7 was our last meeting for the school year and we had a special tea party while we studied the topic of “Inner Beauty”.  Throughout Set 8, we have been discussed different topics related to our outward appearance and behavior. These are all important, but we want to end by setting our focus on the most important thing of all—having a heart that is right before the Lord.  Yes, we must be wise, discerning, and obedient in regards to our clothing, appearance, countenance, and manners.  But all of these will naturally fall into place if we are loving the Lord with all of our heart.  This is where true beauty begins.

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Object lesson: beautiful package contains rocks; ugly package contains chocolate!

It is easy for us to overemphasize outward things.  We tend to get wrong impressions about people because of the way they look or dress.  We often notice styles, fads, and fashions. We spend lots of time and money on things that are merely external.  While we are using up our time and energy on the outward, God is looking at the inward—the thoughts and motives of our hearts (1 Sam. 16:6-7).  As we get consumed with having a beautiful package, He is focused on the true product inside all the wrapping.  Outward beauty is really just a picture of true inner beauty that God desires to develop in each one of us as He conforms us into the image of His Son.  Physical beauty fades as we get older, but inner beauty will increase with age if we continue to obey the Lord and walk in His ways.

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Object lesson: We had some balloons marked with Satan’s lies and once we read a Scripture to combat the lie we popped the balloon!

Have you ever found yourself wishing that you had someone else’s hair, your sister’s really cute outfits, your friend’s amazing smile, or that you could be just as pretty as so-and-so?  Satan has deceived many young ladies into believing that they need to gain a particular look or certain standard of outward beauty.  But keep in mind that there’s no such thing as an outward ideal—some perfect standard we are all trying to measure up.  The enemy tries to distract us with many lies about our appearance. Some of the lies we looked at were:

  • Lie: God is not enough to satisfy me. • Truth: Psalm 107:9
  • Lie: Being beautiful will make me happy. • Truth: Prov. 31:30
  • Lie: I’m ugly. • Truth: Psalm 139:14
  • Lie: If I don’t wear the latest fashions, people won’t like me. • Truth: Rom. 12:2
  • Lie: My body belongs to me.  I can do what I want to with it. • Truth: 1 Cor. 6:20

Don’t give in to the world’s lies!  They are empty and unable to satisfy.  They bring confusion and sorrow, rather than fulfillment and joy.

P1110324God created everything.  The entire universe already belongs to Him.  Isn’t it incredible to think that something could be “of great price” in God’s sight?  Scripture tells us that a meek and quiet spirit is of great price in the sight of God.   Ornaments of gold and silver and outward beauty may be of great price in the eyes of this world, but not to God.  It is our inner character that is so valuable to Him.  It is beautiful to Him.  It is precious in His sight.  Why is this?  It demonstrates humility.  Pride is something God hates.  Humility is something God loves. Meekness and quietness require humility and lowliness.  This is something that the Lord notices and values (Ps. 10:17).

P1110342So how do we put it into practice? With these thoughts in mind, here are some things we can do to cultivate inner beauty:

  1. Spend time seeking heavenly things instead of earthly things.
  2. Lean as much about Jesus as you can and imitate Him.
  3. Humble yourself daily by putting other people first, serving them, and giving up your own expectations.
  4. Submit joyfully to authorities.
  5. Do not defend yourself—let God defend you.
  6. Respond as Jesus would to those who irritate or offend you.  Speak gently and kindly, forgive them, pray for them, and trust the Lord to take care of the situation.
  7. Rejoice in the suffering God allows, which is strengthening your character and conforming you into the image of His Son.

This is difficult to do.  We cannot do it in our own strength.  We must cry out to the Lord for help.

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Object lesson: every time “Joanna” responded to an irritation in a godly way, she got a piece of clothing or jewelry to wear to illustrate inner beauty

We ended our lesson with a story about a girl named Joanna.  One of the girls volunteered to act out the story.  As Joanna was faced with irritations and everyday problems, she chose to clothe herself with humility and in doing so, was cultivating inner beauty in her life.

For our activity time, we enjoyed making mini paper roses and enjoyed our adorable little tea snacks.

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Everyone dressed up for the tea party, so that called for a group picture!

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It was such a blessing to have all of you girls a part of Bright Lights this year. Let’s ask the Lord to give us wisdom each day as we seek to represent Him well.  Remember, one of the best ways to be representatives of Christ is by cultivating inner beauty.  As we focus on the inward—loving the Lord with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind—it will overflow to the outward!  Others will see and the Lord will be glorified as we shine brightly for Him.  He is worthy!

Turning Your Heart to Your Father

March 29 was our meeting on turning your heart to your father.  God has given you just the right father for you.  That doesn’t mean your father is perfect (in fact, none of us have perfect parents).  However, God is perfect and in His perfect plan, He is going to use your father as a very important person in your life.  He uses our fathers to give us direction, provision, protection, and guidance.  There are many blessings that come from following their leadership.

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Yet Satan is working hard to destroy our relationship with our father.  He knows that if he can get us to be ungrateful and rebellious towards our dad, we can easily ruin our lives during our youth as we refuse his direction, protection, and guidance.  God desires for our heart to be turned to our father’s (Malachi 4:6), and godly fathers desire to have a good relationship with their children: they want us to give them our heart (Proverbs 23:26).  Since this was a new concept for some of the girls, we discussed a number of practical ways to turn our hearts to our father.  Here’s a few of them:

Pray for your dad.  Our fathers have a big responsibility as the head of our home. When our father is spiritually strong, we receive many benefits.  When they face attacks of the enemy, this can also affect us.  Satan attacks fathers because he knows that if a father is not leading and protecting as God designed, it is so much easier to destroy the entire family and their testimony for Christ. Our fathers need lots or prayer and encouragement to stand strong against the attacks of the enemy.

Make an effort to communicate with your dad.  Communication is an essential key to relationships.  If we want to have a good relationship with our dad, we need to make an effort to communicate with him.  Many fathers want to have a good relationship with their daughters, but they don’t know how.  We can help to make it happen by being open and taking initiative to share our life (prayer requests, details of your day, struggles, etc.) with him.

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Make it your goal to please him.  To give our fathers our hearts, means that we love him and desire to make him happy.  Seek to honor his preferences rather than just obeying his commands.  It is much more than just obedience.   Jesus is an example to us of pleasing His Father (John 8:28-29).

God gives us pictures on earth to help us to understand spiritual truths.  One of the reasons God has given us dads here on earth is to be an example of what our Heavenly Father is to us.  When we recognize that we are sinners, incapable of saving ourselves from the punishment of sin, and trust in Jesus Christ to save us – He becomes our Savior, and we become children of God (1 John 3:1).  We then have the amazing privilege of calling Him “Father”.  Our Father in Heaven is the perfect father and our ultimate goal is to give our hearts, our lives, and our all to Him.

For our activity, we enjoyed a cooperation relay race.  It was a fun reminder of how much can be accomplished for the glory of God when we work together under the leadership of our father with our family.

P1050871We divided into four teams and each team was given a number of balloons.

P1050882It started out fairly easy: two girls had to carry one balloon across the room and back to their team – only the couldn’t use their hands or arms to hold the balloon in place.  If it fell out, they had to go back to the starting line and try again.

P1050878Once everyone went through with one balloon teams, then it was groups of three with two balloons…

P1050883One team was having so much fun, and since they finished before everyone else, they decided to do three balloons!  This game showed just how fun cooperation can be.

It is such so special to have so many moms stay for the evening on a regular basis.  They help with so many little things that are such a huge help – and they do it with joy! :)

P1050885Thank you, mothers, for being a godly example to us all!

Courtship

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
-Proverbs 4:23-

We were so encouraged by the fact that most of the girls were able to make it to this past meeting as we discussed the important topic of courtship…

The enemy wants us to have dim lights or no lights at all.  Temptation in the area of boy/girl relationships is one of the biggest snares that the enemy uses to damage the lives and testimonies of Christian young people. In order to be strong for the Lord in our youth, it is essential that we understand the importance of this topic, make personal commitments in this area, and learn how to guard our hearts.

Getting married is one of the most important decisions that we will ever make . If we truly desire God’s best for our lives, than we need to be willing to marry God’s choice. We cannot marry someone who is not a Christian; we need to marry a strong Christian.  Often girls begin to be worried that they will never get married and they settle for second best. They do not seem to realize that is much better to never marry than to marry the wrong person. If our goal is to have the best marriage possible, then we must be willing to exchange the lesser pleasures for the greater treasure.

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Courtship is entering a relationship for the purpose of determining whether or not you will marry that person.  It is a commitment.  With dating, on the other hand, people plan to break up if things don’t work out.  This is practice for divorce, not marriage. Ultimately, God is the One who brings people together.  If marriage is in His plan for you, He will bring you the right person to marry in His perfect timing.  There’s no need to date, have a boyfriend, or worry since God is in control or every detail of our lives. There is no reason to cultivate a romantic relationship with someone for any purpose other than marriage.

Marriage is an extremely important decision, and we should be very grateful for our parents’ protection and willingness to be involved. Our parents know us better than anyone else does, and they desire the very best for our life. Our parents also have more experience and understanding than we do. Make a commitment that when you get old enough to be thinking about marriage, you will send any young men that express interest in you to your father/parents.

It is easy to give a piece of your heart away to a young man without dating him at all. A common mistake we as young ladies can easily make is encouraging guys to be interested in us simply because we like the attention. Ask your parents for advice on how to interact with young men; they know you and understand your strengths and weaknesses and will be able to give you specific guidance. The Lord wants us to be thinking about Him, not spending all the time dreaming about marriage and romance.  When a wrong thought comes, use it as a springboard to direct you to pray and delight in the Lord.

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Marriage on earth is a picture of the spiritual relationship that the Lord wants to have with every one of us. We long for someone who loves us, understands us, listens to us, protects us, cares for us, etc. – God wants to meet our every need, and He is the only One who can give us true fulfillment.  The Lord wants us to be excited about loving Him, serving Him, and being with Him. Fill your mind with Scripture, work on developing a more intimate relationship with Jesus, and delight yourself in Him.

As bright lights, we should be truly seeking to follow God’s way instead of the world’s way in every aspect of life – including marriage.  One of the wisest decisions that we can make now is to embrace – not just tolerate – safeguards of protection. It is important to make commitments now before the temptation comes.  It is your heart – your own personal commitments before the Lord – that will make the difference.   Only those who have formed their own personal convictions will have the strength required to remain pure and the discernment needed to escape temptation.

After the lesson, we had a short skit based on the story “Stay in the Castle” by Jerry Ross.  A princess was told by her father of a prince who was being prepared for her, and she for him.  Yet she must be patients, prepare, and stay in the castle.  As the years went by the princess began to lose sight of the one who was to come, and began to listen to the sounds of laughter in the village.  When one day she met a young man from the village who invited her to attend one of the village festivals with him.  The skit ended leaving the princess with a decision to make… would she visit the village with the young man?  Or would she listen to her father and stay in the castle?

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The Princess and the King busy with her preparation
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The Kings shows the Princess the direction from which the Prince will come
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The Princess meets the charming young man from the village

The girls were then split up into small groups to discuss the princess’ dilemma and how her decision would effect her future – relating to the lesson.  The discussions went very well and the leaders were encouraged to hear what the girls were thinking about this topic.

Following the small groups, Mrs. Mindy Caron shared her courtship story with us… how God brought her and her husband Ben together in His perfect time and way.  It was a great follow up to the lesson and helped the girls to see that courtship does indeed work! :)  Thank you, Mindy, for taking the time to join us and share your amazing story with us!

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Mindy shared lots of biblical wisdom with us throughout her story

We enjoyed our yummy treats made by Autumn, Hannah, Sarah, and the A. sisters while looking through Mindy’s courtship/wedding scrapbook that she brought with her.

BYMPC-bookThis meeting really only scratched the surface of this important topic.  I highly recommend the book Before You Meet Prince Charming by Sarah Mally for more in-depth, helpful information… it’s a great book for parents and daughters to go through together.  Here’s some of the chapter titles: Dangers with the Dating System, Guard Your Heart, How Parents Can Help, Have a Life Purpose Bigger than Marriage, Dreams Must Die, Reserved for One, Delighting in the Lord, & Know that God Arranges Marriages.  This is a very helpful book for young ladies, and is available from Tomorrow’s Forefathers, as well as a number of Christian bookstores.

May the Lord bless you girls as you commit to waiting for God’s best for your lives!

Our Words

BL 030Our meeting on February 14 was a bit different than usual – the normal small group leaders were all down South enjoying the warm weather in Florida and Texas, while we were recovering from a big snowstorm from earlier in the week. :)  Thanks so much to Mrs. Monica L. for playing the piano for our singing time (and Hannah for picking the songs for us), and for Abby and Katie stepping up to lead small groups.  Your help was such a blessing and encouragement.

Our topic was on our words.  We started out by reading James 3.  The tongue is either an instrument of much good, or great evil – power to bring life or death.  Because of this, our words is one of the biggest areas in our lives that require discernment.  God has much to say about this topic – there over 150 verses about words and speech in Proverbs alone!  We discussed the kinds of words that we shouldn’t use:

  • Bad words (swearing) – Exodus 20:7
  • Harmful words (gossip, blame, criticism, complaining, unkind, teasing) – Proverbs 12:18
  • False words (untrue, lying, deceit, exaggeration) – Psalm 34:13
  • Proud words – Proverbs 27:2
  • Inappropriate words – Ephesians 4:29
  • Unnecessary words – Psalm 71:24

And then we talked about the three kinds of words that we should use, found in Psalm 100:4–

  • Words of praise – we should praise God, praise others, and praise God to others.
  • Words of thanksgiving – it is important to show our gratefulness to God and others by taking time to say thanks.
  • Words of blessing – we can speak blessing by expressing our desire for others to have success in their life and ministry, explaining how God used them to benefit our life, sharing the gospel, giving words of comfort and encouragement in a difficult time, letting others know you are praying for them, etc.

For an object lesson on encouragement, we had a volunteer come up and stick her hand in a bowl of ice water.  The next girl who volunteered was encouraged by all the girls to keep going, and resulted in her keeping her hand in longer.  This was a reminder of how encouragement is so powerful in the lives of others.

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BL 037Then we talked about how what is in our heart is what going to come out in what we say to others (Luke 6:45, Matt. 15:18).  If we are thinking about the things of this world, its patterns will creep into our speech.  As young ladies seeking to be bright lights, we want our words to be spiritually edifying to others.  This cannot happen if we are thinking about worldly pleasures all the time.  As we think about things that honor the Lord, we will want to talk about those things and encourage others with our words.

We closed with an object lesson.  I had a volunteer come up to crumple and smash a piece of paper.  Upon having her apologize to the paper :), we unfolded it and smoothed it out.  But it still showed evidence of the rough treatment it received – there was no way to make it smooth again.  This was used to illustrate how our words can cause great pain in others lives and can ruin our testimony for the Lord.  We cannot take our words back once we say them, that’s why we need to show much discernment in this area of our lives.  Matthew 12:36 tells us that we must give account for every idle word that we say. This should motivate us to guard our mouths.

After the lesson, the girls were given some time to do a personal worksheet.  Then we divided into three small groups for for discussion on how we can guard our mouths.

Our activity was to memorize “tongue tamer” Bible verses.  We memorized one with pictures, one by repetition, one with partners, one by song, and one by actions.  We memorized 5 different verses in about 20 minutes!  It was a profitable activity, and also encouraged us that memorizing Scripture usually isn’t as hard as we think it is.

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Our snacks were Valentine’s Day themed – pink and red M&M cookies (Katie and Tami), beautifully decorated heart sugar cookies (Jenna), and chocolate cake with pink and red hearts (Mrs. F.).  Katie and Tami also brought a bouquet of roses mad out of Hershey kisses for everyone!

Since our meeting, we have been doing a 2-week “Psalm 19:14 Challenge“.  Each day there is an assignment for how to use our words in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.  It is our prayer that this challenge will help us learn to watch our every word throughout the day so that our speech will be spiritually edifying to those around us and pleasing to the Lord.

Here’s a great little poem that sums up our lesson:

A careless word may kindle strife;
A cruel word may wreck a life;
A timely word may level stress;
A loving word may heal and bless.
-Author Unknown

Holiness

On January 17, we started Set 4 of the Bright Lights curriculum with a lesson on holiness.  We learned that to be holy is not only to be clean and pure, but to be special, set-apart, and reserved for God’s special purposes.  We talked about how when two things that are separate become mixed – like applesauce and cottage cheese served with the same spoon – it gets polluted or ruined.  If we as Christians mix with the world, we will become polluted, ordinary, and lukewarm.  God warns us many times in Scripture of the dangers of mixing with the world.

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We read 2 Timothy 2:20-22.  Using the illustration of a plastic cup versus a delicate teacup, we talked about how God desires vessels that are clean and set apart.  He wants us to be His best instruments for His special uses – we must be reserved and prepared for these things alone.  We need to be willing to be separated from the world’s thinking and from what is common, knowing that we are reserved for God’s special purposes.   There are things that we cannot do because we are set apart for God – this is not a sacrifice, but rather a great privilege as daughters of the King of kings!

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So how can we be holy?  We need to obey the Lord.  Obedience makes us different, Christ-like, and gives us that contrast and distinctiveness from the world, which is holiness.  We need to be a picture of God’s way to others – that is what it means to be a bright light.  A holy, set-apart  life is a radiant testimony to the world around us.

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Acting out the story of King Asa

Concluding our lesson, we split into small groups for discussion on how the condition of our heart is important to a living holy life. Why?  We can’t live a holy, set-apart life if our heart is polluted with the world.  Each group did a “heart study”, looking up Scripture that shows us what kind of “hearts” God wants us to have (understanding heart, tender heart, clean heart,  lowly heart, pure heart, etc.).

For our activity, each small group chose a heart from the study and made a poster with that theme – and a contest was on!  Each group was so creative, making it hard to judge which one was the winner.

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Here’s some pictures of the finished posters:

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Special thanks to the moms who posed as our panel of judges.  And thank you to both Hannahs and the N. ladies for providing our delicious snacks for the evening.