Submission

For our last Bright Lights meeting of the year, we finished up Set 6 of the Bright Lights curriculum by studying the topic of submission.  When discussing this topic, it is important to understand the difference between submission and obedience.  Submission is more than just obedience.  It is an attitude from our heart; it is joyfully putting ourselves under someone else’s authority and giving up our way.    It is possible be obedient without being submissive.  We can obey and be rebellious at the same time.  We can be forced to obey, but not to submit.  Submission is the inner attitude; obedience is the outward action.  While we might have the outward appearance of being obedient, the Lord looks on the heart and sees whether or not our attitude is truly submissive.

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Object lesson: a chocolate box with dirt inside illustrates how we can be outwardly obedient, but inwardly rebellious instead of submissive

Submission is…

  • obeying with a humble attitude.
  • complying not only with the commands, but also to the wishes of those who are in authority over us.
  • lowering ourselves and joyfully putting ourselves under another.
  • voluntarily giving up our way and trusting God to work out His plan through the authorities He has set in place over us.
  • delighting to honor our authorities not only in our actions, but also in our attitudes.

Jesus is our perfect example of submission: He is Lord of all, Creator of the universe, yet He was willing to demonstrate submission, both to His earthly parents (Luke 2:51) – who weren’t perfect – and to His Heavenly Father.  Jesus came to earth, not to do His will, but the will of His Father (John 6:38).  Jesus submitted His will to the will of His Father, even when it was most difficult (Luke 22:42). If Jesus hadn’t been willing to submit Himself, He wouldn’t have gone to the cross and we would have no way to be saved!  Submission requires a humble spirit, and in Philippians 2:5-11 we are called to follow the example of Christ’s humility.

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A submissive volunteer obeying bossy orders as she does a math worksheet

Submission is one of the very hardest things to do.  Everyone naturally wants to make their own decisions and be in charge of their own lives.  We don’t like others telling us what to do.  We think we know more.  We think our plan will work better.  Our pride often gets in the way and causes to do things our own way instead of submitting to others.  The world often considers submission to be degrading and negative; the world says to be independent and that you don’t need to do what others tell you to do.  God’s way is opposite:

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.  –1 Peter 5:5-6

Submission is lowering ourselves.  Few people realize that when they lower themselves, God promises to exalt them in His time.  God tells us to submit because He know that it is for our protection and good.  The challenge is hard, but God’s rewards are always greater.  God ultimately wants us to learn submission to authorities so that we will submit to the Jesus as Lord of our lives.

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A submissive volunteer learning to drive while given rapid-fire directions

God has commanded wives to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24); this is an example and testimony to the world.  It is also a picture of how we as Christians, the Bride of Christ, should be submitted to our Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ.  If we as young ladies can learn to submit to our parents, we will have a head start in learning to submit to our husbands (Lord willing) and to others for the rest of our lives.  Submitting to human authorities will help us learn to submit to God.

Each of the topics that we have covered in Set 6 (Preparing to Be Wives and Mothers) are things that we should be cultivating in our lives, whether or not the Lord has marriage in store for our future.  Our ultimate goal in life isn’t to get married; rather, it is to please the Lord and glorify Him with our life.  We can only do this as we learn to submit to God’s will for our life.

For our activity time, we enjoyed doing small group skits (a favorite activity in our Bemidji BL group!).  Each group was given a verse and had to come up with a skirt relating that verse to the topic of submission.

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Colossians 3:20 – “Children, obey your parents in all things…”
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“…for this is well pleasing to the Lord.”
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Proverbs 15:5 – “A fool despises his father’s instruction…”
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“…But he who receives correction is prudent.”
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Romans 13:1 – “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities…”
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“…For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”
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1 Peter 5:5 – “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another…”
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“…and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.'”

Since this was our last Bright Lights meeting for the year, we finished off the evening with an ice cream sundae party!

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The snack table laden with sweets
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No one minded the long line as we enjoyed fellowship while waiting for our ice cream
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Build your own sundae bar (someone called it Bright Lights Cherry Berry!)
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Beautiful Bright Lights smiles

We have had such a blessed year of meetings and we are sad to come to a close.  I’ll miss you girls, and am looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for our Bemidji Bright Lights group.  May each one of you girls continue to seek and serve our Savior throughout the summer and shine as bright lights for Him!

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!

Polluting Influences

March 28 was our meeting about polluting influences.  Not only can our bodies become polluted by what we eat and breathe, but our mind, soul, and spirit can also become polluted by many things:  false concepts, evil words, improper attitudes, worldly heroes, a rebellious spirit, goals of the world, bad pictures, wrong advice, desire for wealth, corrupt music, bad books, foolish friends, etc.

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In our very first Bright Lights meeting (and a little bit of our last meeting) we talked about how Satan doesn’t want us to be  bright lights for the Lord.  Because of this he seeks to hinder our testimony with his many traps, weapons, and tactics.  One way that the enemy seeks to hinder our effectiveness for the Lord is through polluting influences which distract and contaminate us.  We need to be on guard against these influences.

The enemy uses many different “channels” of pollution:

  • Television, videos, and movies — these can be full of evil concepts, words, actions, and pictures that can quickly pollute our minds with worldly thinking and cause us to waste much time.
  • Music — the words, attitudes, character of the musicians of worldly music can create rebellion and dangerous, immoral patterns in the lives of those who listen to it.
  • Books — many books are clearly evil, but others are more subtle and require special discernment.
  • Internet — the internet is being used for much good, but it is also full of great evil.

None of these things are wrong in and of themselves, but they can be channels of pollution in our lives.  Each of us need to be very discerning in these areas and to flee from what is evil.  Allowing pollution into our lives, no matter how little, can contaminate our testimony for the Lord.  To illustrate this, we took a jar of clean water and put in a couple drops of black food coloring.  It sure doesn’t take much pollution to contaminate what is clean and pure.

God has given us special protection from polluting influences through our parents. Our parents have much more wisdom and experience than we do, and can often see something wrong with a particular movie, book, activity, etc.  In saying “no” to these things, they are protecting us from worldly influences that harm us and dim our light for Christ.  We compared our parent’s authority to an umbrella.  We are only protected from the rain (the world) if we stay under the umbrella (our parents’ God-given authority).  Let’s commit to staying under our parents’ authority and protection from worldly influences.

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Discernment is necessary because Satan can take anything that is good and use it for something evil.  Because of this, we must be able to test what is of God and what is of the world.  A helpful Scripture verse in discerning what polluting influences are is Philippians 4:8-

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

If we desire to be reserved and set-apart for God’s special purposes, we need discernment in cleansing our lives so that we can maintain a pure and unpolluted bright light.  For an object lesson of this concept, we lit an oil lamp with a chimney that was polluted with soot.  Then we switched the chimney for one that was clean and pure.  The light difference was startling.  In the same way, our light for the Lord is dimmed by the polluting influences that we allow into our lives.  We need to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1)  so that we can shine brightly for the Lord.

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Jar – just a little bit of food coloring can contaminate a whole jar of water
Oil lamp – one chimney is polluted with soot which dims the light

For our small group time, we talked about the relationship between temptation and polluting influences.  We also divided the girls into accountability partners, and encouraged each girl to make a commitment or goal regarding one area that has been a polluting influence in her life, ending our discussion by praying for each other.

Our activity was small group skits about polluting influences… this is always a favorite activity with the girls and helps them to think through practical ways in which the lesson applies to our daily lives.

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Havala, Emma, Hannah, and Olivia – how books can be a polluting influence
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Hannah, Tami, Betty, Katie and Abby – how the internet can be a polluting influence
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Lily, Calli, Sara, and Joy – how music can be a polluting influence
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Deborah, Maria, Louisa, Jenna, and Sarah – how TV can be a polluting influence

We ended the evening, as usual, with fellowship and snacks.  Thanks to Hannah, Katie & Tami, and Hannah for our yummy treats.

Self-control

“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty;

and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”

–Proverbs 16:32–

January 3 was our first meeting of the new year, and we wrapped up Set 3 of the Bright Lights curriculum with the lesson of self-control.

During our lesson time, we looked at 2 Samuel 23 and learned about some of the amazing feats of some of King David’s mighty men.  As amazing and heroic as these deeds were, God’s word tells us that learning to control ourselves and be slow to anger is better than the mighty, and is greater than taking a city or other amazing acts of heroism.  Spiritual might is much greater that physical might.

To demonstrate how difficult self-control is, I had some of the girls come up and hold a piece of gum on their tongue without biting it. As their mouths began to water, it became increasingly hard to keep from chewing. In the same way, self-control is difficult and takes a lot of discipline. That’s why it’s important to cultivate self-control so that when a difficult situation arises we are prepared to respond in a godly way.

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Object lesson: hold a piece of gum on your tongue without biting it
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It’s getting hard!

We talked about automatic responses and how we often respond to irritations in the wrong way.  As young ladies seeking to be bright lights, our goal should be to have “automatic” responses of the Spirit rather than of the flesh.  We want godly responses to be our reflex in difficult situations.  Irritations provide us the perfect opportunity to practice self-control in our lives. We should look at irritations as tests and opportunities which bring blessings from the Lord when we respond correctly. Just as a beautiful pearl is formed through an irritation, our character is formed through properly responding to irritations that arise.

For our activity time, each small group was given a scenario for which they had to come up with a skit showing how someone might respond without self-control.  Then, using Scripture, they shared how self-control could be applied that particular situation.  As always, there was a lot of fun and laughter as the skits were presented to the large group.

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Scenario: what happens when there are only 2 cookies left for 4 girls
Scenario:  what happens when you mom asks you to do your sister's chore
Scenario: what happens when your mom asks you to do your sister’s chore
Scenario: what happens in your room when the alarm clock goes off in the morning
Scenario: what happens in your room when the alarm clock goes off in the morning
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Scenario: what happens when someone keeps criticizing your artwork

During our tea time, we took the time to sing to all of the December birthday girls… Lily, Calli, Abby, Katie, and Hannah.  Happy birthday girls!

Contentment

On October 11 we gathered for our first “official” Bright Lights meeting at Northern Bible Church.  We were so blessed to have 18 young ladies join us for this meeting.  We began with a time of singing praises to our Lord, before having our lesson time.

Singing around the piano

We learned about the importance of contentment in our lives as we seek to be bright lights for the Lord. Contentment is trusting the Lord in faith to provide for our needs.  He sees the whole picture of our lives and will provide according to His timing what He knows is best. Those who are willing to trust Him by faith will experience the secret of contentment in their lives.

We talked about covetousness – craving for wealth and possessions – as well as comparing ourselves with others, desiring what they have, and complaining.  All of these are forms of discontentment and will dim our light.

Lesson time

All too often we spend time seeking after the things of this world; this is a show of discontentment in our lives.  The things of this world are worthless in light of eternity.  In Matthew 6:33, we are told to seek first the kingdom of God.  What we value in life shows where our heart is (Luke 12:34).  A wise person is focused on pleasing the Lord, serving others, and being a bright light in this world of darkness.

As part of the lesson, each girl was given a paper bag to place over her head and then were tasked to form a circle.  It took them a couple of minutes to connect everyone together, and they all looked pretty funny. :)  We talked about Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn-writer, and her contentment in spite of her blindness.  This also served as an example to us of the many blessings that we take for granted, like our eyesight.

The “blind” group of girls
Forming a circle (at least, trying to)

Following our lesson, we split into small groups to come up with commercials to advertise products that you “absolutely need” as an example of how advertisers work to stir up discontentment.  It was very amusing as each group was given a ridiculous product to advertise and present a 1 minute commercial.  Everyone did a great job.

“Height-booster Socks” – the ONLY socks proven to make you 6 inches taller!
“You Need It, You Eat It” self-serving refrigerator
“Super Pinky Brush” that sprays hairspray as you brush
“iPlanet” – buy a planet for your very own

During our snack and fellowship time, we had the girls sit according to their birthday months to help mingle with the new girls that have joined us this year.  We had yummy snacks… lemon cheesecake cheese ball, chocolate chip cookie bars, and chocolate cupcakes, along with hot tea in dainty teacups.  It was a wonderful meeting and such an encouragement to see so many come out again this year.