Due to the rain, we moved into the Fusion building to meet. Here the students spread throughout the building with the quiet time guide that I gave them and they got some practice having a quiet time.
After about 15-20 minutes we all came back together and discussed what stood out to us in our time with the Lord. Most of the students read the scripture that I provided them, but one student read something different because he is currently studying a different passage in his personal quiet time. He got to share with everyone what he read.
What a blessing it is to see these students growing in their faith and in their thirst for knowledge of God.
Three weeks went by very rapidly.
Our group of young men finished off their third week with me by going on a prayer walk of sorts around the church property. We tried to envision what the relationship was like between Jesus and his disciples as they spent three years together walking, talking, learning and praying with the Son of God.
As a group we stopped several times sharing with one another a little of what we had discussed over the past couple weeks and individually they all shared prayer requests with one another.
All of them asked in one way or another for continued prayers and for a more consistent quiet time along with prayer for other on-going personal challenges. Someone different within the group prayed each time for the requests shared and committed to praying for them during the week as well.
It was great to see everyone bring their guards down to share with their peers and they all saw from one another a desired accountability and prayer for a deeper more meaningful time with God. We had great talks while we walked and it will be interesting to see God work through them as they grow.
This week in strength and beauty, we had an almost entirely new group for both services. We reviewed what my quiet times look like; some listening to the Bible, reading the Bible, praying and spending time listening to God. We asked the girls what their quiet times looked like, and they shared about the time that they spend with God.
We reviewed why we have a quiet time. I explained how in the same way that married couples, over time, adopt each other’s mannerisms and may even look the same. The more time we spend with our Heavenly Father, the more we begin to reflect Him. We also discussed and answered questions about where a good place to start reading the Bible may be.
We are so excited to see what questions the girls come with this Sunday!
The boy’s strength and beauty session covered a small introduction in getting to know me (John Banta) and getting to know them a bit. The group then moved into identifying the influences that shape our identities.
The questions were raised:
- Who are you?
- What one or two things do you tend to label yourself as?
The list amongst the group was long and varied but centered mostly on personal interests like gamer, athlete, hunter, car enthusiast and student amongst others.
We began to look at John 1:12 that gives clarity as to our true identities if we are Christians, which are “sons of God.” While our interests may change and how we or others may perceive who we are, our identity of being “sons of God” will not change. This identity should be a prime motivator for wanting a closer relationship with our God the Father.
The other verse we focused in on was Galatians 4:6 which says if we are “sons of God” we can call God by the Fatherly name “Abba” which infers close intimacy. This understanding should push us to regular and meaningful quiet times as we reflect and remember who we are and our true identities from God’s perspective.
This week we began our discussion time with an explanation of what my quiet time looks like. I explained that my quiet times have looked very different at different times in my life. They always begin with a prayer, sometimes very brief, asking God to open my ears and my heart to what He has to say. From there it includes reading or listening to the Bible and asking God what He wants me to do for the day.
I had each of the students read Psalm 23 to themselves for a few minutes and then we came back together to discuss what stood out to us. We discussed what that showed us about God and how we should relate to Him. The challenge for this week is to read and meditate on one chapter of John each day. The students were encouraged to journal their thoughts and prayers as well. I’m really looking forward to meeting again with you ladies next week!
Q&A Sunday brought great discussion for our beauty groups. Olivia could not join us this Sunday, so thank you Heather for filling in! Some of the questions discussed were:
- What does Philippians 4:13 mean?
- Do we have God given talents and gifts?
- Can everyone receive salvation?
- Is Halloween OK to celebrate? What about dressing up as satan or a witch?
- Did God create satan?
We opened our Bibles to find the answers and we were all over Scripture. We looked at Genesis 3:1, Psalm 139, 1 Corinthians 10:31, 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 10, and more!
We also had a very good discussion over Proverbs 31 during the 9:30 group. If anyone was up-to-date with the challenge from Karlye and Ashley, Tuesday, 10/31 was the final day in Proverbs and it concluded with the “Proverbs 31 woman” passage. We learned that she diligently planned, worked and provided for her family with delight as we see in verse 13. If you have not read Proverbs 31, I highly encourage you to!
I also had the great privilege of introducing two of my friends as the beauty group leaders for the next 3 weeks: Heather Wilson and Stephanie Baker. Heather challenged the girls to continue having a daily quiet time. She also asked the girls to think about their favorite worship song and take the lyrics from the song and turn them into a prayer. You can write them down, say them quietly or out loud to God, or both! The main point is to pray! I know you will enjoy meeting with them and they will love spending time with you lovely ladies in The Word of God!
This was my third week of Strength and Beauty, so it was time for the Q&A. During the 9:30am hour we began by discussing the scriptural relevance of God forming Eve out of the rib of Adam. Eventually, this led to an analyzation of the commonly used phrase, “Everything happens for a reason.” Here, we looked at passages like Jeremiah 7:31, that clearly demonstrate that not everything that happens occurs because God wanted it to happen. However, Romans 8:28 was also cited to show how God will still use all things to ultimately bring about His good purpose.
The 11am discussion began with a question about Jesus’ appearance. We opened the Scriptures to Isaiah 53:1-2, and read about how Jesus was most likely not a very attractive person, contrary to the way He is normally portrayed. This led to a conversation about how we often try to create a god in our own image, which can cause us to try to twist or suppress certain commands of Jesus that we find difficult. Our time came to a close with a discussion about Genesis 3, the unhealthy ways we try to manage shame, and how God’s provision of animal skins for Adam and Eve is a shadow of what Jesus would do for us on the cross.
This week the students shared what God had showed them in their quiet times. I had a couple guys in my group that were excited to share what they had read. I also had a few guys that said they had struggled to read their Bibles this week.
This was a great opportunity for each of them to discuss some of the hurdles they faced that hindered them from doing so. Then each of the students shared some ideas of what can be done to overcome those hurdles. It’s nice to see how these young men are growing and helping each other grow from week to week.
Kelsey and I enjoyed another fun Sunday with you all! Last Sunday we discussed what Kelsey’s and my quiet times looked like, so this week we asked about what each your quiet times looked like. You all were great in sharing what your daily time with the Lord looks like and what verses have stuck out to you over the past week.
This week, we asked to you guys to continue your daily quiet times! If you are doing the Proverbs-a-day challenge, we are finishing that up this week, if not we asked you to read Proverbs 31 before next Sunday so we can talk about it!
Our challenge for you all this week is to bring a question (or multiple) to the Q&A session on Sunday! I unfortunately won’t be there this Sunday, but Kelsey will enjoy answering everyone’s questions!
The focus of this week’s Strength and Beauty revolved around the students’ quiet times. Several of them shared the various ways they spent time with God in prayer throughout the week. Others talked about the impact the devotional time they spend with their parents in the Word each day has on them.
Additionally, we discussed the various ways the Bible says God speaks to us, specifically as written in Psalm 19. The students spoke about how nature reveals the glory of God, and how the dying/rising themes seen in creation demonstrate God’s handiwork in reminding us of the gospel.
To prepare the students for the open Q&A next week, I reminded them of Psalm 145:18, that God is near to those who call on Him in truth. I encouraged them to be sincere with their questions, and like the Psalmists, to earnestly seek God throughout the week.