Category Archives: Series Recap

“Choices” Series Recap

Choices

 

March 22/23:            Our choices affect ourselves

March 29/30:            Our choices affect others

April 5/6:                   Our choices affect God’s kingdom

April 12/13:              Making the wise choice

 

Introduction:

            The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

That famous poem was written by Robert Frost in 1920 and despite its popularity, it is often misinterpreted. Many people read this poem and think that it is about taking “the least traveled path.” However, in the poem, Frost makes the statement that the two paths were actually worn about the same and they had about the same number of leaves covering them. Throughout this poem, Frost is looking back on this choice that he made at one point in the past and he is wandering how his life would have been different if he had chosen differently, if he had taken the other path. He expresses regret at not being able to take the other path, while at the same time not regretting the path that he did choose. He actually wishes that he could have gone both ways in this decision.

He recalls deliberating about both choices that, at the time, seemed so similar, but undoubtedly would lead to two completely different outcomes in his life. At the end of the poem, he switches from talking about the past to talking about the future and about how he will tell other people about this monumental decision with a sigh. This sigh expresses both regret and self-satisfaction because he is glad and sorry at the same time. But, instead of dwelling on his regret, he will hide this from people and tell them about how happy he is that he made the decision that he made and how great it has made his life.

We make choices everyday and some lead to regret and others lead to satisfaction. Some lead to pain and suffering and others lead to joy and happiness. And some lead to a little bit of both. Some choices have consequences that last temporarily and some lead to more permanent results. We may choose to go to a buffet for dinner and later regret that decision because of the pain of overeating. But, this decision has only temporary consequences unless we continue to make the same choice over and over. More often than not, it is a series of decisions that lead us down a path toward regret, but sometimes, there are monumental decisions that we make that could turn out to be devastating.

It is so important that we think before we act and deliberate about making the wisest choice that we can so that in the future, we will not have to cover up our regrets like Robert Frost did. The choices that we make today affect what happens tomorrow. They not only affect our lives directly, but they also impact the lives of others and could possibly affect their decision to follow Christ or not. Our choices are important. And so it is important that we be wise when making them.

 

 

Sermon Descriptions

Our choices affect ourselves:

Jeremiah once wrote, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” We come to crossroads everyday and we have to make a choice of which path we will take. Will we take the wise path or will we take the foolish path? Sometimes teenagers do not deliberate very long before diving headlong into a decision and often that leads down a foolish path. However, God instructs us to be wise and careful about the decisions that we make.

Our choices affect others:

Most decisions that we make on a daily basis are made with little to no thought. Some decisions are ultimately inconsequential, but others can have a lasting impact. When we give little thought to the decisions that we make, we do not give consideration to how those decisions might impact others around us. It is so important to consider the implications of actions before we make choices because one wrong decision can affect the life of someone else.

Our choices affect God’s kingdom:

God calls us to make wise decisions not only because he wants our lives to be blessed and he wants us to bless others, but also because the salvation of someone else may be on the line. In our interactions with non-Christians, it is important for us to make wise choices and act like Jesus because the choices that we make tell them something about who Jesus is. When our unwise choices negatively affect them, they will assume that the one that we follow will negatively affect them as well. This could be the deciding factor of whether they choose to accept Jesus’ free offer of grace.

Making the wise choice:

Being prudent in our decision-making is not easy. In fact, it is way easier to make choices with no deliberation whatsoever. By disciplining ourselves through practical, simple steps and following through with the things that Jesus teaches, we can begin to make wise choices on a daily basis. When making wise decisions becomes a daily habit, our lives will be blessed, other people’s lives will be blessed and we will be able to lead people into a life-changing relationship with Christ.

 

 

Reading Guide:

Week 1: Deuteronomy 28

Week 2: Philippians 2

Week 3: 1 Peter 2

Week 4: Matthew 7

 

 

Family Challenge:

Give your student a gift to remind them to make wise decisions. Give them a physical item that they can keep on them at all times to remember that the decisions that they make affect the family. When they go out of the house and into the world, they are representing you as parents. Their behavior is a direct reflection of how you raised them and when they make wise choices, they represent your family well. This item can be a piece of jewelry like a necklace or a ring. It can be something that they keep on their key ring, in their pocket or in their backpack. Make sure that they know that anytime they see it or feel it, they should be reminded to make wise decisions.

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Old School Series Summary

OldSchoolScreen

 

Sermon Series: Old School

March 1/2: David & Goliath

March 8/9: Jonah & the Big Fish

March 15/16: Daniel & the Lion’s Den

Series Introduction

Maybe some of you remember learning Old Testament Bible stories in Sunday School when your teacher stuck the characters up on the flannelgraph. Maybe some of you are completely oblivious to some of the stories in the Old Testament. Throughout this 3-week sermon series, we will be teaching your students some of the more familiar stories from the Old Testament.

The first week of the series, we will be talking about the story of David & Goliath. In the midst of an old fashion standoff with the Philistine army camped out on one mountainside and the Israelite army camped out on another and only a valley scattered with terebinth trees separating them, two men engaged in combat to decide the outcome of the entire war. One was a wiry shepherd boy and the other a feared giant. Who will emerge as victor?

The second week of the series, we will talk about the story of Jonah & the Big Fish. In a time when a powerful empire threatened to lay siege to the kingdom of Israel, God sent one man to change the hearts of a nation. God told Jonah to go into the heart of the empire to encourage the people to repent. Can one man change the course of human history?

The third week of the series, we will be talking about the story of Daniel & the Lion’s Den. In a foreign land, far from his home, one man takes a stand against a powerful king. The king of Persia sought to eradicate the worship of God, but in a blatant act of civil disobedience, Daniel defied this king. Would Daniel’s bold resistance prove to be futile or could it change history?

Weekly Reading Guide

Here is the weekly reading guide to follow along with throughout the series. This will be great to read through as a family!

Week 1: 

1 Samuel 17: 1 – 18

1 Samuel 17: 19 – 36

1 Samuel 17: 37 – 53

Week 2: 

Jonah 1 & 2

Jonah 3

Jonah 4

Week 3: 

Daniel 6: 1 – 9

Daniel 6: 10 – 18

Daniel 6: 19 – 28

Family Action Step

Throughout this series, find three other Old Testament stories to read together as a family.

Family Scripture Memory

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16 – 17

Simple Math Series Summary

Sermon Series: Simple Math

February 1/2: Addition

February 8/9: Subtraction

February 15/16: Multiplication

Sometimes when it comes to following Jesus, we can feel a lot like Michael Scott. Someone is trying to explain it to us, but we just aren’t getting it. It seems like some huge complex formula that just doesn’t make sense. Sometimes, the Bible seems like it is a foreign language and the Jesus-following life is so complicated.

This series is about breaking it down to a super simple formula. The Jesus-following life is really just Simple Math.

Sermon Descriptions

Addition: This week we are simply asking, “What do you need to add to your life to be more like Jesus?” God is in the business of transforming messed up sinners into people that are holy and righteous. And in order to become one step closer to reaching that end, he is calling us to take one step closer. What is that one step that God is calling you to take to become more like him?

Subtraction: This week we are asking the opposite question: “What do you need to subtract from your life to be more like Jesus?” In order for us to become more like Jesus, sometimes there are things in our life that need to be cut out. It could be friends that are bad influences, things that we do that God doesn’t approve of, or one of the hundreds of things that we stuff into our day that keep us too busy to have a relationship with Jesus.

Multiplication: When our lives begin to look more and more like Jesus, other people will begin to notice. Those people who want to know what it means to follow Jesus will look at our life and begin to imitate it. When they imitate us, they imitate Jesus. As they imitate Jesus, they become his disciple. This process of replicating disciples leads to the multiplication of disciples.

 

Around the Dinner Table

Throughout this series, we want to help you create opportunities for spiritual conversations with your student. We are providing a Reading Guide for you to go through with your students and a Bible study each week to talk over at the dinner table.

Here is the Reading Guide:

Addition:

Day 1: 1 Kings 18: 1 – 15

Day 2: 1 Kings 18: 16 – 30

Day 3: 1 Kings 18: 31 – 45

Subtraction:

Day 1: 1 Kings 19: 1 – 7

Day 2: 1 Kings 19: 8 – 14

Day 3: 1 Kings 19: 15 – 21

Multiplication

Day 1: 1 Kings 20: 1 – 11

Day 2: 1 Kings 20: 12 – 22

Day 3: 1 Kings 20: 23 – 34

 

Scripture Memorization

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2: 8 – 10

 

This Month’s Challenge:

Plan a Family Day. This could be going to a museum together or just spending time playing a board game. Do something all together as a family.

Before & After

before and after slide

Sermon Series: Before & After

January 4/5: Before you become a Christian

January 11/12: After you become a Christian

January 18/19: After you’ve been a Christian for a while

  

Sermon Descriptions

The ancient Greeks had two different words to describe time. The word chronos is where we derive our word chronology. This Greek word referred to chronological time. If you wanted to ask someone what time it was, you would have used this word. However, the other word for time was kairos. A more appropriate English translation of this word might be season or opportunity. This word refers to an indefinite, but distinctive period of time. It is a significant moment in time. It is an opportunity. It is a crossroads in your life that will define your future.

There are moments in time that split life into two categories: Before & After. Suddenly, a person’s life is divided between the time before the event and the time after the event. Sometimes, the Before can be romanticized and viewed as a time of utopian bliss, whereas the After is considered a time of unrivaled despair. A child may refer to the time “before the divorce,” or “before the big move.” The Before was awesome and the After is viewed as terrible. Other times, it may be the complete opposite. You may say, “Things are looking up ‘after the promotion,’ or ‘after the cancer went into remission.’” In our student ministry, we call these “kairos” moments, “pivotal circumstances.” Something happens, a decision is made, and our life goes one of two ways. These pivotal circumstances are opportunities for us to either become better or to become bitter.

There is no bigger pivotal circumstance than when a person comes face to face with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The moment the gospel is presented, the person stands at a crossroads. They are given an opportunity for a life-dividing kairos moment. They can either reject the notion that Jesus died for their sins or they can accept it and instantaneously partition their life into Before & After. This series is based on this idea.

Before you become a Christian: For all Christians, part of our life is defined as “Before Christ” and part of our life is defined as “After Christ.” Even if we put our faith in Jesus at a young age, we lived part of our life apart from Christ. The Bible is very clear that a person must have faith in Jesus in order to become a Christian. But what exactly does it mean to have faith? Is it simply agreeing that it is true or is it something more? What barriers do we face when it comes to putting our faith in Christ? These questions will be addressed in this sermon. Our hope is that barriers will be torn down and questions will be answered for those students who have not yet put their faith in Christ.

After you become a Christian: So, you’ve decided that you believe all this Jesus stuff and you were baptized. What now? Is that it or is there something more? What does this whole Jesus life look like? There are a bunch of new Christians that do not know what they are supposed to be doing or what Jesus asks of them after they give their life to him. What does it mean to be a disciple, a servant, or a missionary? All these questions and more will be answered for new Christians in our student ministry.

After you’ve been a Christian for a while: We become a Christian and we experience a spiritual high. Everything is new and exciting and we make all these big promises about how everything is going to be different, but then life happens and we fall back into the same person that we were before we became a Christian. What do we do when we become a Christian and the spiritual high fades and sin still hangs around? What do we do when we want that fire and passion back that we once had? Many students think that since that first happened when they were baptized, they need to be baptized again to get it back. But that isn’t the purpose of baptism. That misconception and many others will be cleared up in this teaching.

 

Around the Dinner Table

When students express a desire to be baptized or begin asking questions about it or other aspects of the Bible, the parents’ first instinct is often to send them to a student minister, mostly because they feel unequipped to handle these situations. While we love talking to students about Jesus and helping them develop a firm grasp on their faith and their understanding of Scripture, we also want you, as parents, to feel more than adequately equipped to handle any questions that your student might pose.

On the flip side of that, there are instances that a student may be interested in baptism or have questions about it, but they do not come to you for answers. This may be due to their inability to specifically articulate the thoughts bouncing around in their minds or that they feel that their parents are not the right person to discuss this particular topic with. Because of our desire to help you create “kairos” opportunities with your student, we have provided a veritable treasure trove of resources to empower you to start conversations about the questions they may have about becoming a Christian and what it means to be a disciple.

One of the resources that we are providing is a study guide that correlates with our Sunday morning teaching. You and your student can do this weekly study together and have a conversation around the dinner table. Make an effort once a week to have dinner as a family and ask your student these three questions:

  • What did you read?
  • What did you learn?
  • What are you going to do about it?

Each week, a Reading Guide will be provided in each study, but here is the Reading Guide for quick reference:

Before becoming a Christian:

Day 1: Acts 2 (Key Verses: 37 – 41)

Day 2: Romans 6 (K. V.: 1 – 6)

Day 3: Ephesians 1 (K. V.: 7 – 14)

 

After becoming a Christian:

Day 1: Ephesians 4 (K. V.: 11 – 16)

Day 2: Colossians 3 (K. V.: 12 – 17)

Day 3: 1 Thessalonians 5 (K. V.: 15 – 23)

 

After you’ve been a Christian for a while:

Day 1: Hebrews 6 (K. V.: 1 – 8)

Day 2: Revelation 2 (K. V.: 1 – 5)

Day 3: Matthew 25 (K. V.: 35 – 40)

 

 

Scripture Memorization

As a family, memorize this verse and recite it to one another periodically throughout this series:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1

 

Monthly Action Step

Tell your student your personal spiritual journey. Include the “Before” and the “After” and clue them in on your own thought process and what ultimately brought you to make your decision for Christ. If you have not made that decision yet, talk to your student about the hang-ups about that decision. Chances are, they are dealing with similar hang-ups.

 

 

Word of Encouragement

A great book for parents of middle and high school students is And Then I Had Teenagers by Susan Alexander Yates. (Recently available on Amazon for a penny) Here are a few excerpts from Chapter 8, entitled “Encouraging Your Teen’s Faith”:

A wise parent will understand that the teen years are a time of decision in the area of faith. Is it my faith or theirs? Will they own their own faith? We won’t really know the answer until they have left home. And it may take longer than we want… Now we have to shift from predominately parental influence to utilizing positive peer pressure and we have to shift from direct teaching to personal sharing… A wise parent will take advantage of the importance of peers. Teens need peer relationships. As our kids approach their teen years, it’s easy for us as parents to fear the influence of “those other kids” and to resent their power. We want to pull back as a family, to protect our child, to protect our “family’s faith.” This can be a mistake. Instead of withdrawing, we need to encourage our teen to pursue relationships with other kids who are seeking to follow Christ.

This is great advice and a great reason to encourage your students to get involved in a Life Group. To find out more about that visit: http://necchurch.org/middleschoollifegroups