Disrespect & Honoring Our Parents

P1300296Since we had to cancel a meeting in December due to bad weather, we combined two lessons in one to finish up Set 5 of the Bright Lights curriculum on January 30.  The topics were very closely related and we had a lot to talk about as we looked at the lessons “Disrespect” and “Honoring Our Parents”.

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We have talked about honoring parents in previous Bright Lights lessons, but this is an area that most of us struggle with every day.  It’s an area that Satan tries so hard to destroy in our lives, because our relationship with our parents should be a picture of our relationship with our Heavenly Father.   As young people, Satan wants us to make foolish choices that ruin our lives rather than listening to our parents’ wisdom and counsel.  So this is such an important issue in the life of a young lady who wants to serve the Lord and be a bright light for Him.

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We talked about the importance of wanting a good relationship with our parents, choosing to stay under their authority and protection, maintaining a clear conscience with them, and not keeping secrets from them.  It takes humility to do these things, especially since we know that our parents aren’t perfect.  We have the challenging example of Jesus in this area – He was perfect, yet He choose to be subject to His earthly, imperfect parents (Luke 2:51).

Disrespect is opposite of honor, and is actually a sign of rebellion, an outward evidence of an inner attitude.  Disrespect can be very subtle and so it seem like a very small thing, but the Bible makes it clear just how serious it is (2 Kings 2:23-24; Prov. 20:20; Ex. 21:15, 17; Prov. 30:17).   Attitude is key – if you have the right attitude there will be no disrespect.  If you have a wrong attitude it will be almost impossible to avoid disrespect.  Having a grateful attitude – remembering all that our parents have done and continue to do and sacrifice for us – makes it a whole lot easier to show them honor.  Let’s not just eliminate disrespect from our lives, but replace it with gratefulness and honor to our parents.  Young people who honor and respect their parents will stand out as bright lights in today’s world.

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Disrespect is an outward sign of an inward problem.  Many young ladies allow anger, wrong thoughts, and bitterness grow in their hearts toward their parents and it reveals itself in the form of disrespect. Bitterness clouds our thinking, cripples our ability to respond with humility, and prevents us from showing true honor as God commands us.  Bitterness may start small and seem harmless, but it grows rapidly and becomes a huge danger in our lives.  It’s very difficult to honor and respect someone who has wronged you, or when you don’t agree with them, or think they dealt with a situation wrongly, yet God calls us to forgive just as He has forgiven us (Eph. 4:31-32), and to respect our parents and their authority.

P1300254Honoring our parents can be very difficult a lot of times, but the rewards far outweigh the struggles.  God promises blessings for us as we purpose to honor our parents in everything and respond to them in a godly way.  Ultimately, we are not just honoring our parents – we are honoring the Lord!

After the lesson, we split up into small groups for discussion on how we struggle with being respectful to our parents, and practical ways to honor them in everyday life.

We did skits for our activity (and everyone cheered when I announced that).  Each group was given a scenario and needed to come up with one in which they were disrespectful, and one in which they honored their parents.  Here’s some pictures from the skits:

Scenario: You’ve had a rough day and are trying to finish your “To Do” list before supper time when your mom unexpectedly asks you to make supper because she is so busy…

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Mom is busy to the point of frustration, but Emma and Lily are no help
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Madison and Autumn cheerfully make supper

Scenario – Your friend recommends a movie to you, but your parents don’t want you to watch it.  All your friends have seen it and say it’s a good movie…

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Maria’s friends recommend the movie to her
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Maria’s mom is shocked by what movie her friends recommended

Scenario – You are shopping with your mom and find some a cute clothes.  However, once you try them on, your mom doesn’t think they’re appropriate, although you think they’re perfectly fine…

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The girls are excited to be shopping for clothes
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Mom doesn’t think that Deborah’s new headgear is appropriate for the occasion

Scenario – Your mom tells you that she thinks that you are spending too much time on the internet…

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Joy doesn’t listen to her mom about spending time on the internet
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Calli heeds her mom’s concerns about her time on the internet

We ended our time together with tea and snacks provided by Rose, Becky, and the N ladies. It was wonderful to fellowship with so many of you who haven’t been able to make it out for the past couple of meetings!

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I want to finish this post with a quick reminder about the Creation/Evolution debate tomorrow between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis.  You can watch the live stream tomorrow evening – find our more at DebateLive.org.

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Disputing and Arguing

January 16 was our first meeting for the new year, but the weather kept many at home that night.  Our topic was on Disputing and Arguing (we skipped ahead of the lesson on Disrespect) and it was a challenging lesson for all of us “expert” complainers.

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”  – Philippians 2:14

Everyone faces irritations and the temptation to respond in a harsh, unkind, prideful, and annoyed ways.  So how are we supposed to “do all things without murmuring and disputing”?  Is it possible? After all, doesn’t everyone have arguments?

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On our own, it is impossible to go through life without disputing and arguing.  However, God will help us and give us the strength to resist the temptation to argue and overcome this tendency in our lives.  With God’s help, we must learn to overcome our natural human reactions and learn to replace them with Christ-like responses – such as meekness, humility, self-control, and overcoming evil with good.

Arguing can have very damaging consequences, especially in the area of relationships.  For example, arguing can cause siblings to hate each other, parents and children to resent each other, friends to separate, and marriages to end in divorce.

Pride is the root cause of many arguments.  The argument keeps going when someone is unwilling to humble themselves and let the other person with the argument.  When it comes to winning or losing an argument, we need to understand that the “loser” is actually the “winner”.  The one who is willing to give in and humbly “esteem others better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3-4) is the true winner in God’s eyes.  As is often the case, God’s thinking is exactly opposite to our own natural inclinations.

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It is hard to let the other person win the argument, especially when we think that we are right.  We need help, because we can’t do it on our own.  God has promised that He will give some help to those who humble themselves (1 Peter 5:5).  If we look for ways to humble ourselves every day, we can expect God to work on our behalf in a mighty way.  It takes two prideful people to argue.  If one person chooses to be humble, the argument stops.

It usually only takes one person to clear up a conflict.  If one person is willing to obey the Lord, amazing things can happen.  It’s not your responsibility to force others to work things out, but rather to make sure that you are obedient to the Lord and leave the results to Him.  We finished our lesson by reading Colossians 3:12-14:

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”

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For our activity (which we forgot to take pictures of), we had “Detective Deborah” visit us and ask us to help her solve some cases that she had on her hands.  She heard about a group of “bright girls” and knew that we were just the ones to help her out. :)  She had four mysteries for us to solve: the Puzzling Pencil Problem, the Hockey Fight Conundrum, the Case of the Chore War, and the Mysterious Skirt Skirmish.  In each of these cases, it started with a peaceful afternoon and erupted into a full scale conflict, shattering the serenity with harsh words and raised voices.

It was our job to investigate each of the cases, working though a list of questions to help us identify what caused each argument.  Each mystery was solved when we found out what the root problem was and found a Scripture verse to correct the conflict.  We had a lot of fun being detectives for the evening. :)  Click here for instructions and scenarios.

As usual, we ended our time together sharing snacks and fellowship.  See you all on January 30!

Gossip

Most girls love to talk! :)  And talking about other people tends to be one our favorite topics as young ladies.  It’s interesting to note that in His Word, God speaks specifically about women who gossip (1 Timothy 5:13-14).  We have a tendency to talk negatively about other people and not even think about what we’re saying. So that’s why our lesson last night was on the topic of gossip.

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The Bible has a lot to say about this topic, but since it doesn’t always specifically use the word gossip, we started out by defining some terms that we find in Scripture:

  • Gossip – idle talk about the affairs of others
  • Slander – false or damaging statements spoken with the intent of hurting another
  • Talebearer – one who gossips or reveals secrets
  • Whisperer – one spreads gossip or rumors
  • Backbiting – malicious talk about someone not present

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Gossip is very serious in God’s eyes.  We shouldn’t take it lightly.  In several places in the Bible, gossip is listed along with other very serious sins. These verses give us a good idea of what the Lord thinks about gossip: Rom. 1:29; 2 Cor. 12:20; Prov. 6:16-19; Lev. 19:16; Psalm 101:5

Gossip is very destructive: it spreads rumors and reveals secrets, it causes strife and conflict, it can ruin a person’s reputation, and it can ruin friendships – even between close friends.  Gossip is extremely damaging in families, churches, and all other relationships.  It may seem small, but the hurt, misunderstanding, anger, and divisions it causes often have disastrous consequences.

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People gossip for a variety of reasons: they might have ulterior motives for doing it (like pride, bitterness, jealousy, or wanting the spotlight), or they might simply do it because its interesting or fun, like “tasty morsels” (Prov. 26:22).  Gossip is very common, but that doesn’t make it right. We discussed some practical ways to deal with gossip in our lives:

What should we do when we’ve gossiped?

  • Apologize to the person to whom you gossiped; let them know that what you did was wrong
  • If appropriate (i.e. if its been repeated by others), apologize to the person whom you gossiped about

When someone apologizes for gossip you know that you can trust that person, because you know that they are committed to guarding their words, and if they make a mistake they are willing to clear it up.  We want to have that testimony of being trustworthy.  Also, since we know how hard it to apologize, this is an incentive not to gossip!

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How do we stop gossiping (or avoid listening to gossip)?

  • Memorize Scripture pertaining to words and gossip, and ask the Lord for His strength and help to guard your mouth.
  • Steer clear of friends who constantly gossip (Prov. 20:19).
  • Watch out for phrases that may signal gossip invading your conversation – “Don’t tell this to anyone else, but…”, “Did you hear about so-and-so…”, or “I don’t mean to say anything against so-and-so, but…”.
  • Be careful of what questions you ask (i.e. don’t ask things that invite your friend to share gossip with you).
  • Think of a nice way to explain to someone that you don’t want to be hearing their report – come up with a plan beforehand to help you be prepared if someone wants to share some gossip with you.
  • Imagine that the person you are tempted to gossip about is standing next to you: would you say it if they could hear you?

Also, it’s important not to form our opinions of people simply by what we hear someone else say.  Stories quickly get changed as it gets passed from person to person.  Remember, when we hear something second-hand, we don’t know the whole picture.

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How should we respond when others gossip about us?

  • Rejoice! (Matthew 5:11-12)
  • Give your reputation to God.  We belong to Him and represent Him.  He is able to protect our reputation.

One of the reasons that gossip is so dangerous is because it can be so subtle and can happen very easily.  Often we gossip without even realizing what we are saying.  Therefore we need to show much discernment and guard against it with vigilance.  Our words are very powerful (Prov. 18:21) and we want to be very wise with how use them.  Often times the effects of gossip can never be cleared up… once the words are spoken there’s no way to take them back and the damage is done.

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If we get into the habit not gossiping while we are young, it will be pleasing to the Lord, and will save us a lot of trouble both now and in the future.  We want to be “children of God, without fault” (Phil. 2:14-15) in this area of our lives.  So my challenge to you is this: let’s guard against gossip in our own lives and in our Bright Lights group!

For our activity we divided into two teams and played a couple of different versions of “Telephone”.  First, we played it the regular way, whispering a phrase from person to person.  Next, we had one team turn their backs and acted out the word one at a time while the other team watched it change from person to person.  And finally, the team had their backs turned again, as one person would act it out and the person would whisper it to the next person who would act it out and so on.  Playing this game demonstrated how quickly a story can change as it is passed from person to person.

Playing the game:

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Laughing at the results:

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Although it was a smaller group, we enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship together as we sipped our tea and munched on our cookies.  See you all in two weeks!

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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

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!