God, the Inventor of Love

C.S. Lewis

“God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them.

He creates the universe, already foreseeing – or should we say “seeing”? there are no tenses in God

– the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up.

If I may dare the biological image, God is a “host” who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and “take advantage of” Him.

Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves.”

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Recommended Parent Resource: Passport2Purity

As a parent of a Middle Schooler myself, I was pleasantly surprised with the result of the Passport2Purity setup. Laura and Katie spent a weekend in San Antonio talking through each session and spending quality time together the Summer before her 6th grade year. I am so thankful for Family Life and one resource that has set our continuing conversations in this stage of life up for success!

With Passport2Purity® you don’t have to be an expert!The getaway kit equips you to cover what can seem like awkward topics in a fun and engaging way.

GETAWAY KIT INCLUDES:

1 Tour Guide for the Parent

1 Travel Journal for the preteen
including 25 follow-up devotions

8 CDs containing 5 sessions, memory songs, and downloadable MP3s.

SESSIONS INCLUDE:

BEGINNING THE JOURNEY
Challenges, Traps, and Choices

RUNNING WITH THE HERD
Friendships and Peer Pressure

READY FOR AN UPGRADE?
Changes in Him, Changes in Her

DESTINATION: LÉ PURE
Setting Boundaries

CROSSING THE DATE LINE
Seeing Dating DifferentlyPassport2Purity® Travel Journal
Replacement Kit

Our children’s innocence is under attack, and parents cannot win the battle with a single awkward “birds and the bees” talk or a strict set of rules.

-Dennis Rainey

The reward a Texas couple found in a bottle from 1962

By Dr. Jim Denison

Reading Time: 4 minutes

While walking on the Gulf Shore near Corpus Christi, Jim and Candy Duke found an unusual bottle. It contained a note explaining that the bottle had been released in 1962 by scientists studying the role of water currents on the movement of shrimp.

Here’s the good news: if the person finding the bottle completed and mailed the enclosed postcard, they would receive “a fifty cent reward.”

The current lab director offered to pay the Dukes as promised, though it would cost the agency fifty-five cents for a stamp and three dollars to print the check.

What was the most powerful computer in 1962?

I’ve been thinking about some of the changes to our culture since 1962.

Technological advances are an obvious example. In 1962, the most powerful computer in the world was the Ferranti Atlas. It filled a room, took six months to assemble, and was difficult to keep running for ten minutes at a time.

Technology has revolutionized our lives, but its advances are a double-edged sword: they have put mobile computing in our pockets but also fueled the plague of pornography and provided a platform for terrorist recruiting.

In 1962, the Civil Rights Act was still two years away. Governmental legislation soon advanced the biblical mandate to reject racism (cf. Galatians 3:28), but other legislation has overturned centuries of biblical morality regarding marriage, gender, and the sanctity of life.

The Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1962 celebrated groundbreaking discoveries“concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.” This work was foundational to genetic advances that are revolutionizing medicine today. However, these advances could also enable eugenic alterations that would redefine and threaten the future of our species.

In 1962, President Kennedy announced the goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Thomas Kuhn’s book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, was a landmark event in science, history, sociology, and philosophy. Global travel was making the world smaller for cultural exchange and educational advancement.

However, the academic rejection of absolute truth and objective morality was also gaining momentum. The “sexual revolution” was one manifestation of such relativism. As Mary Eberstadt has documented, this “massive experiment in chaos and confusion” has radically and negatively impacted our culture.

What problem is the root of our problems?

Many of the technological, legislative, medical, and academic achievements of the last fifty-seven years have clearly improved our lives. But have they improved our souls?

Are humans more moral as a species today? Would you say that the overall moral trajectory of our culture is positive or negative?

What is the problem at the root of our problems?

The answer is a reality our culture considers so outdated and Puritanical that we seldom discuss it. But ignoring something makes it no less real and can make its consequences even worse.

The Bible diagnoses our root issue: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The problem of sin cannot be solved by technology, legislation, medicine, or scholarship. We can regulate it through laws and meliorate some of its effects through education, medicine, and technology.

But we cannot change the underlying human condition: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). The consequences of our sin nature are spiritual, emotional, relational, and–eventually–eternal death.

Here’s the solution: “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).

How can temporal work bear eternal fruit?

If healing bodies could save souls, the apostles with their miraculous healing ministries would have gone into health care (cf. Acts 3:1-105:15-1620:9-10). If technology could save souls, Jesus would have used his divine omniscience to revolutionize carpentry and other industries (cf. Mark 6:3).

If scholarship could save souls, Saul of Tarsus would have continued with his remarkable academic career (Acts 22:3). If laws could save souls, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus would have sought political leadership through their roles in the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43John 3:1).

Let me be clear: God calls his people into medicine, technology, academics, and legislative service today. These are vital and valuable roles in our society. But they cannot save souls. Nor can the sentences I’m typing right now or the words I spoke in church last Sunday.

Only the Holy Spirit can convict of sin and save sinners (John 16:8). Only God has the miraculous power to make us a “new creation” so that “the old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

As a result, the most valuable way to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39) is to share Jesus with them. The greatest gift you can give is the good news of God’s saving grace and transforming love. You’re not forcing your beliefs on others–you are offering them the only antidote to the deadly poison of sin, the only chemotherapy that cures spiritual cancer, the only path that leads to eternal life.

If you and I see our vocations as opportunities to model and share Jesus’ transforming love, our temporal work will bear eternal fruit. But only then.

When will the moon be destroyed?

The largest “supermoon” of the year was visible last night. At 221,734 miles from earth, it is closer to us right now than it will be at any other time this year.

However, our relationship with our closest celestial companion is not permanent. According to one scientist, the earth and moon will be destroyed in about five billion years when the sun swells enough to incinerate them both.

When (or if) that happens, eternity will only have begun. 

POSTED FEBRUARY 19, 2019

Discovering Your Gifts

SPIRITUAL GIFTS LIST:

“WE HAVE DIFFERENT GIFTS, ACCORDING TO THE GRACE GIVEN US.” ROMANS 12:6

Click here for the LeaderTreks Blog Article

As followers of Christ, we have all received special God-given abilities that are a part of how the Lord has uniquely wired and gifted us. When we begin to identify these gifts, we are able to use them more effectively as well as grow more comfortable with who we are and how we’ve been designed – which is why we’ve complied them into a spiritual gifts list.

With definitions and scriptural connections the spiritual gifts list below covers 15 different spiritual gifts, which can be used for your own assessment or teaching your students. Looking to go deeper? LeaderTreks offers a comprehensiveSpiritual Gifts assessment.

BELIEVING – Faith – Definition: Believing is a special God-given ability to trust God’s will and act on it, with an unwavering belief in God’s concern, presence, and active participation.

This gift is listed in 1 Corinthians 12:9 where is is translated as “faith” or “special faith.”

COMFORTING – Mercy – Definition: Comforting is a special God-given ability to understand and come alongside people who are troubled or suffering, bringing them comfort, insight, and hope.

This gift is listed in Romans 12:8 where it is usually translated as “showing mercy” or “showing kindness.”

DIRECTING – Leadership – Definition: Directing is a special God-given ability to instill vision, motivate, and guide people to work together effectively to achieve worthwhile goals.

This gift is listed in Romans 12:8 where it is usually translated as “leadership” or “he who leads.”

DISCERNING – Discernment – Definition: Discerning is a special God-given ability to distinguish between truth and error, good and evil, and to show good judgement in matters involving character and relationships.

This gift is listed in 1 Corinthians 12:10 where it is usually translated as “distinguishing between spirits” or “discerning of spirits.”

ENCOURAGING – Exhortation – Definition: Encouraging is a special God-given ability to affirm, uplift, and restore confidence to individuals who are feeling discouraged or defeated.

This gift is listed in Romans 12:8 where it is usually translated as “encouraging” or “exhortation.”

EVANGELIZING – Evangelism – Definition: Evangelizing is a special God-given ability to effectively communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ to non-believers so they can respond and begin to grow in their faith.

This gift is listed in Ephesians 4:11 where it is usually translated as “evangelists.”

GIVING – Contributing – Definition: Giving is a special God-given ability to contribute cheerfully, generously, and regularly to the church and other important ministries, causes, and people in need.

This gift is listed in Romans 12:8 where it is usually translated as “contributing to the needs of others” or “he who gives.”

LEARNING – Knowledge – Definition: Learning is a special God-given ability to gather, analyze, and share information appropriately with others, leading to greater understanding and insight.

This gift is listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8 where it is usually translated as “message of knowledge,” “word of knowledge,” or “gift of special knowledge.”

MENTORING – Pastoring/Shepherding – Definition: Mentoring is a special God-given ability to guide and support individuals or groups as they grow in their faith and in their capacity for ministry.

This gift is listed in Ephesians 4:11 where it is usually translated as “pastors.”

ORGANIZING – Administration – Definition: Organizing is a special God-given ability to plan, organize tasks, and follow through so that complex projects are completed efficiently and effectively.

This gift is listed in 1 Corinthians 12:28 where it is usually translated as “administration,” “governments,” or “those who can get others to work together.”

PIONEERING – Apostleship – Definition: Pioneering is a special God-given ability to launch new ventures or lead change, confidently moving forward despite uncertainty or risk.

This gift is listed in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11 where it is usually translated as “apostles.”

PROBLEM-SOLVING – Wisdom – Definition: Problem-Solving is a special God-given ability to provide practical advice to that leads to timely, effective resolution of problems.

This gift is listed in 1 Corinthians 12:28 where it is usually translated as “message of wisdom,” “word of  wisdom,” or “ability to give wise advice.”

 SPEAKING OUT – Prophet – Definition: Speaking Out is a special God-given ability to declare God’s truth boldly and publicly for the purpose of correction or instruction.

This gift is listed in Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28 and Ephesians 4:11 where it is usually translated as “prophesying,” “prophets,” or “ability to prophesy.”

SUPPORTING – Helps – Definition: Supporting is a special God-given ability to provide practical, behind-the-scences help that frees others to accomplish more than they might otherwise be capable of achieving.

This gift is listed in Romans 12:7 and 1 Corinthians 12:28 where it is usually translated as “helps,” “serving,” “ministry,” “forms of assistance,” or “those who are able to help others.”

TEACHING – Teacher – Definition: teaching is a special God-given ability to organize and clearly communicate knowledge and skills to others, and to motivate them to master and apply what they are learning.

This gift is listed in Romans 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:28, and Ephesians 4:11 where it is usually translated as “teaching” or “teacher.”

THIS WEEK:

What can you do this week to use your gifts?

What are you going to do?

When are you going to do it?

Is there someone who can keep you accountable?

THINK ABOUT IT
“We cannot get Christ’s gifts without himself.” – Alexander Maclaren (The Epistles of St. Paul to the Colossians and Philemon, Volume 31 of Expositor’s Bible, 1905.)

MEMORIZE/MEDITATE ON THIS VERSE
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:4-5 (ESV)

Middle School Parent Cue: Made Series

Fusion Sunday Feb Series
Download Conversation Guide Here

WEEK ONE:

PSALM 139:13-16

Because God made you, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Your middle schooler receives mixed messages related to sex all the time. In the movies they watch, the songs they listen to, the things their friends talk about, the social media they see, and even the education they get at school, the messages on sex are both constant and inconsistent, making it difficult for them to know what to really think about the subject.

WEEK TWO:

MATTHEW 5:27-28;
PSALM 139:14a

Because God made us all,
all of us are valuable.

Though your middle schooler may or may not yet be engaging in sexual activity, they’re definitely growing more curious about sex. But don’t worry! Curiosity is a natural part of growing and maturing—something your middle schooler is doing a lot of in this phase. Understanding their curiosity and not totally shutting it down is key to keeping the conversation about sex open between you and your kid.

WEEK THREE:

1 CORINTHIANS 6:18

Because God made sex,
sexual things matter.

Control can be a sensitive subject for many middle schoolers. They long for more authority in most parts of their lives, leading them to act out of frustration over what they perceive as a lack of control. They also struggle with self-regulation in this phase, making boundaries difficult to set and maintain.

WEEK FOUR:


1 THESSALONIANS 4:3-4;
PSALM 139:14a

Because God made you,
you are in control of your own body.

Understanding both their value and the value of others may be hard for your student at times. As middle schoolers, value is often based on immediate feelings. If your student doesn’t feel valued by others, it will make valuing that person (and even themselves) difficult to do.

Fusion Wednesdays Feb Series

OVERVIEW OF WHOLEHEARTED (4 Lessons)

In Wholehearted, students will explore what it means to follow Christ with their whole hearts. By looking at the examples of Christ-followers from the Bible, students will learn how to stay fully-engaged in their personal journeys with Christ, as they influence and are influenced by others. Your student will be challenged to grow as a disciple who follows Christ wholeheartedly through the ups and downs of life.

MAIN TOPICS AND SCRIPTURE COVERED

  • Lesson 1: Disciples Look Forward (Philippians 3:13b-14)

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13b-14 (ESV)

  • Lesson 2: Disciples Know Their Gifts (Romans 12:3-8)

Lesson two is designed to inform students of various spiritual gifts and help students discover their own (and each other’s) gifts and strengths. When we humbly use our spiritual gifts for God’s purposes, disciples create a strong and powerful community of believers.

  • Lesson 3: Disciples Inspire (John 4:4-26, 39-42)

When someone inspires us, we have an energy and momentum that is greater than something we could muster up on our own. Lesson three is designed to make students aware of the power of an inspiring person, and how disciples use inspiration for the good of God’s kingdom.

  • Lesson 4: Disciples Commit Wholeheartedly (Joshua 14:6-15)

Disciples follow through on their commitments—when it’s easy, and when it’s not so easy. Lesson four will challenge students to keep their commitments, even through the tough times, by learning to see obstacles and disappointments as opportunities to grow and refocus.

QUESTIONS YOU CAN ASK YOUR CHILD

  • Is there anything from the past that still hurts or bothers you to think about? What can you learn from it? What promises of God can you lean on as you move forward?
  • Do you have an idea what your spiritual gifts are? I think mine are…
  • Who/what inspires you?
  • Can you think of ways (big or small) God has worked in your life that might inspire others?
  • Are there any obstacles that get in the way of keeping your commitments?

MEMORY VERSES: each lesson has a corresponding verse to memorize or meditate on

1. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13b-14 (ESV)

2. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:4-5 (ESV)

3. Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”

John 4:39 (ESV)

4. Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.

1 Samuel 12:24 (ESV)