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#PEOPLEMATTER

Racial equality has dominated recent news and conversations. Amid accusations of injustice, prejudice, and retribution, it’s important to engage teenagers in thoughtful dialogue.

Consider giving your kids a theological perspective on the beginnings of racism. (Hint: It existed long before America did.) In Genesis 11, God scattered a once united people. When they grouped together based on familiarity, racism was born.

Help teenagers understand that although multiple sociological ideologies might help unite people, the only true answer is Jesus. His sacrifice for humanity provides equal footing for everyone (see Galatians 3:28). And though that may feel like a simplified answer, it’s the right one.

Guide young people to understand that trivializing racism merely perpetuates it. For example, when we refer to a black vehicle and kids jokingly call out “racist,” they strip the gravity from the plight of people who truly experience discrimination.

Encourage kids to intersect with and understand people who are different from them, whether by race, religion, upbringing, socioeconomic background, etc. Bigotry exists when we fail to push through our own discomfort to understand someone who’s unlike us. 

The message of various “Lives Matter” movements is pretty congruent with Jesus’ message: #PeopleMatter. What they do for a living, what section of town they live in, who they’re voting for, or what church they attend doesn’t matter. Their skin color, size, appearance, bank account, and personal preferences don’t outweigh their humanity or their soul (see 1 Timothy 2:1-6).

STATE OF AMERICAN TEENS

In a poll of more than 2,000 U.S. teenagers of diverse backgrounds, Newsweek found:

Eighty-two percent of today’s teens believe racism will continue as a serious problem in their generation, while 91% of black teens believe racism is here to stay. Teens of all backgrounds, regardless of race, agree that African Americans are discriminated against at higher rates than others.

Black teens are more likely to be aware of gun violence or stories of police officers being accused of killing innocent people. They’re also more likely to worry about being victims of shootings. That may explain why 55% of American teenagers favor some sort of gun control.

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IN THEIR WORLD – POKEMON GO

I know I’m a little late to the poke party.

No doubt you’ve seen the dazed looks of people traversing malls, parks, and even city streets, holding out their phones trying to capture characters. They’re probably even roaming through our church parking lot, because many PokéStops (digital locations designed to continue game play) are located there!

Released in July, Pokémon Go is a free app that uses augmented reality, meaning a user’s view of the real world is altered through a mobile device. After creating a personal avatar (a character that represents you), gamers collect helpful Pokémon-hunting items at designated PokéStops. As players move throughout the community, Pokémon characters appear. 

Unlike in former Poké products, gamers don’t battle Pokémon to capture them. They simply use balls gained from PokéStops to digitally encapsulate the characters. Gyms, or digital battle arenas where users fight to be king of the hill, also exist throughout communities. 

In its first few weeks on the market, Pokémon Go was downloaded more than 40 million times. Despite some technical glitches (resulting from the overwhelming response, no doubt), the game quickly became popular with people of all ages. Although Pokémon Go is free to download and play, players are spending an estimated $1.6 million per day on in-app purchases on Apple devices alone.

Pokémon Go is being praised for getting kids outside and moving. That’s because some stops are accessible only on foot, and some functions can be unlocked only by walking certain distances while the app counts steps. Yet the game is also receiving criticism because it uses GPS to track users’ locations while guiding them to different destinations.
As with anything moderation is key.  With the rise of phone usage, app usage and social media the goal is to continue to get our students to interact live with real people to continue to work on their social skills not social media skills.

POKE'STOPS

Because Pokémon Go encourages gamers and novices alike to emerge from basements and bedrooms and get outside, if you are going to engage with your student around this game, it’s important to pass along these safety tips to teenagers:

Like texting, this game isn’t to be played while driving. Never try to capture Pokémon while you’re behind the wheel!

Always stay aware of your surroundings. Some gamers have been struck by trains and fallen off cliffs while following GPS coordinates to the next destination.

Before each outing, provide an anticipated itinerary so I know where you plan to hunt for Pokémon!

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YOUTH CULTURE – TAKE THE DAY OFF

Though some people contend that millennial teenagers don’t have the same work ethic as previous generations, today’s kids unarguably carry a tough workload at school and feel a greater “need to succeed” than many who have come before them. As many as one-third of America's youth report feeling stressed.

Insert America’s answer of a collective free day! Just after (or just before, in some cases) school starts, a “gimme” day hits the calendar in the form of Labor Day. With origins dating to the late 1800's, Labor Day is designed to celebrate working people.

Seize this moment for your kid's sake. Rather than just binge watching Netflix and throwing burgers on the grill, celebrate family achievements from the past year. Make a big deal out of grades worked hard for and /or achieved. Celebrate after-school jobs, sports accomplishments, and extracurricular contributions such as band and clubs. Or, keep things really simple, by praising the accomplishments of a clean room and chores done without asking.

The idea is to provide a momentary respite from everyday stress while commemorating (and possibly incentivizing) hard work. And, don’t forget, to recognize your own accomplishments. That teaches teenagers to seek out what they’re doing right too!

STRESS MANAGEMENT FOR TEENS

Parents can help teenagers manage stress and pressure with these tips from the Chicago Tribune:

Limit teens’ screen and digital time.

Manage your own stress appropriately.

Limit online grade-checking to once per week.

Encourage and coach teens to communicate with teachers, rather than doing it for them.

Encourage (and enforce) healthy sleep habits.

Remind teens they can apply to many great colleges, thereby expanding, not limiting, their options and potential.

Remind kids that anxiety and other emotions are normal, despite what they see portrayed on social media and entertainment venues.

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IN THEIR WORLD – HELPING THEM READ IT

Parents are the most important influences their kids will ever have. That’s especially true when it comes to matters of faith. So how can you help your teenagers dig into God’s Word and apply it to their lives?

Andy Blanks, author and founder of YM360, offers these insights:

Emphasize the relationship, not the action. Although reading the Bible is an important discipline and habit, the key is growing closer to Jesus. Help teenagers realize that reading God’s Word is relational. They’re not simply downloading information to their hard drives for later use. First and foremost, Blanks says, reading the Bible is “a heart-driven, deeply personal, experiential encounter with God.”

Because this generation of young people is so creative, we must encourage them to creatively engage with Scripture. For most people, reading the Bible brings to mind the standard “read through a chapter and ponder it” study method. Help teenagers vary their routine by praying through the Psalms, meditating on a specific attribute of Jesus each week, or summarizing a new insight by drawing, painting, writing, or sculpting.

As always, modeling is the best way to influence teenagers. Kids always pick up more on what parents do rather than what we say. Are you interacting with Scripture regularly? Do your kids see you doing that? Consider how you can start sharing what you read and learn.

Reading God’s Word is transformative, regardless of age or life stage. So, use these suggestions to engage with the Bible in meaningful ways—and to encourage your teenagers to do so too.

Each month we are challenging the students to S.O.A.P through a book of the Bible that we are providing.
S.O.A.P means: S = scripture, O = observation, A = application, P = prayer.
This month we are going through the book of John together, across all campuses, as a student ministry.
One of the best ways to encourage engagement is the 5&5 principle. 5 min in the word and 5 min in prayer.

 

BIBLE READING TOOLS:

These apps—all free except for one—can help teenagers engage with Scripture:

Blue Letter Bible—30 Bible translations, audio Bibles, and commentaries help young people dig deep into God’s Word.
Daughters of the Creator—This app offers a daily Bible verse and devotionals specifically for women and girls ($1.99 per month).
Man Up God’s Way—Guys can experience Scripture and accountability in this app-centric environment.
Proverb-A-Day—Every day, this app sends a verse from the book of Proverbs to your phone.
Scripture Typer—This app helps you memorize, organize, and review Scripture based on your personalized calendar and creativity.

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YOUTH CULTURE – NAVIGATING TEEN CURFEWS

This isn’t a groundbreaking topic but one that maybe a few are currently navigating in their family and with their teenager.  Hopefully this adds value as you think through boundaries, guardrails and teaching greater and greater responsibility.

As your kids transition to the next grade level, it might be time to renegotiate their curfews. Some teenagers will argue curfew times just for the sake of arguing. Yet, a well-negotiated curfew time also can help teenagers exit undesirable social scenes. It’s way easier to say, “I need to be home by midnight” than to admit being tired or not wanting to be around certain activities.

Approach the bargaining table with these standards in mind:

  • School nights are non-negotiable.
  • Weekend curfews should comply with city ordinances.
  • Special events, such as prom, are open to compromise; on a case-by-case basis.

Regardless of what the clock says, you should always expect to know where your teenagers are. If plans or locations change, let your kids know you expect a call or text.

And, though it may make you seem paranoid, staying up until your kids get home is a great way to ensure curfew compliance. Knowing that someone will see them enter the house can help keep them on time and out of trouble.  This is also a great time to be praying for your kids.

WHEN CURFEW IS BROKEN

When teenagers miss curfew, consider each child’s personality and history.

Grounding may work for some teenagers, helping them quickly comply with the agreed-on “be-home” time.

For others, that might push them toward sneaking out and breaking more rules.

A good conversation may be the most effective course of action.  “I’m not happy that you ignored our negotiated time.  I expect you to follow the curfew we decided on together.  And if you need to be late, please call.”  Let them know that there are consequences when rules are broken and have them agree to those consequences.

You know your child.  You know what is effective and what isn’t.  The goal is consistency in discipline, in action, in follow through and love of your child.

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Personal Prayer Targets

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 

(1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Pray for those in authority and those under your authority.


MY GOVERNMENT

  • Pray for our: President  |  National Leaders  |  State Leaders  |  City Leaders

MY FAMILY

Pray for your: Parents  |  Siblings  |  Extended Family

MY CHURCH

Students who make a decision to follow Christ must be plugged into a healthy, Bible-believing church.

  • Pray that students will be loved and accepted by your church.
  • Pray that the adults in your church will become role models and spiritual mentors.
  • Pray for all the ministries in your church that deal with students.

Prayer for your: Pastor  |  Small Group Leader  |  Small Group Members

MY SCHOOL

Students are in the most strategic position to reach their schools with the message of the gospel.

  • Pray for effective campus missionaries and clubs
  • Pray that everyone on campus will receive a clear presentation of the gospel.
  • Pray for the safety of students and staff
  • Pray for students eyes to be opened to their need for Christ

MY LIFE & THOSE I INFLUENCE

It starts with me to be the example 

  • Pray for your lunch everyday
  • Pray silently for the students sitting around you at the beginning of every class
  • Pray as you walk between classes (Prayer Walk)
  • Pray for your school during See You at the Pole every September www.syatp.com
  • Take 30 seconds, every day, in the hallway or in front of your locker.

Pray for your: Friends  |  Employer  |  Co-workers  |  Teachers/Professors

MY COMMUNITY

Students' lives are influenced by more than just their schools.

  • Pray that God would bless their homes with peace.
  • Pray for safety and God's presence to be in the places students like to hang out.
  • Pray for the businesses that are in position to have a positive influence on students.

THOSE WHO NEED GOD

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Warfare Prayers

Prayer is not only communion with God; it is confrontation with the enemy. These prayers are very helpful in spiritual warfare.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people 

(Ephesians 6:11-18)

 

THE ARMOR OF GOD
(based on Ephesians 6:13-17)

“Thank You, Lord, for my salvation. I receive it in a new and fresh way from You and I declare that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ and the place I have in Your kingdom. I wear Your righteousness today against all condemnation and corruption. Cover me with Your holiness and purity—defend me from all assaults against my heart. Lord, I put on the belt of truth. I choose a lifestyle of honesty and integrity. Expose the lies I have believed, and show me the truths I need today. I choose to live for the Gospel in every moment. Show me where You are working and lead me to it. Give me strength to walk daily with You. I believe that You are powerful against every lie and assault of the enemy. You have good in store for me. Nothing is coming today that can overcome me because You are with me. Holy Spirit, show me the truths of the Word of God that I will need to counter the traps of the enemy. Bring those Scriptures to mind today. Finally, Holy Spirit, I agree to walk in step with You in everything as my spirit communes with You in prayer throughout the day.”

 

THE WEAPONS OF WARFARE
(based on 2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

“Father, Your Word says that no weapon formed against me shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17). Therefore I declare that no weapon formed against me prospers this day or any day to come in Jesus’ name. Your Word says that trouble will not arise a second time (Nahum 1:9). Therefore I declare that Satan cannot make trouble for me again, in this manner, as he did in the past in Jesus’ name. I declare all of these prayers accomplished and brought to pass by trusting you through faith and expectation in the name of Jesus.

Lord Jesus, I confess to You all of my sins this day, yesterday and every day past. I repent and renounce them, those known and unknown, those of omission and commission, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do. I lay down at Your feet all of the sins of the flesh, the tongue, and of the heart, and all unholy thoughts and actions. Thank You, Lord, for shedding
Your precious blood for me.

I stand on Your Word. The enemy is driven out from before me, above me, around me, and below me; from my home, workplace, church and its ministries, children, and loved ones; from my works and labors, land, and my presence. I declare that he is not able to stand against me, and his works are taken captive and
destroyed. No weapon formed against me will prosper, for the Spirit of the Lord shall raise a standard against them. I declare all of these things accomplished by Your Word. Jesus, my Lord, I give You thanksgiving, praise, glory, honor and worship for Your righteousness and holiness given to me by Your Word on my behalf.”


PROTECTION PRAYER
(based on 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, 10:3-5; Romans 12:1,2)


“Heavenly Father, I bow in worship and praise before You. I cover myself with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ as my protection. I surrender myself completely and unreservedly in every area of my life to You. I submit myself only to the true and living God and refuse any involvement of the enemy in my life. I choose to
be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I pull down every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ. I pray and thank you for a sound mind, the mind of Christ. 

Today and every day I ask for protection over my spouse; each of my children; our immediate family members, relatives, friends, acquaintances and myself. I also ask today for protection during all of our travels; for our provision, finances, possessions, health, safety, and welfare. I put all of these things under the covering of Your precious blood and declare that Satan cannot touch them, on this day or any day to come.”


GENERAL CONFESSION PRAYER
(based on Romans 10:10; James 5:16; I John 1:7-9, 3:8)


“Lord Jesus, I believe that You are the Son of God. You are the Messiah, come in the flesh to destroy the works of the devil. You died on the cross for my sins and rose again the third day from the dead. I now confess all my sins and repent. I receive your forgiveness and ask you to cleanse me from all sin. Thank You for redeeming me, cleansing me, justifying me, and sanctifying me in Your blood.”


FORGIVENESS PRAYER
(based on Matthew 6:14,15; Leviticus 19:18)


“Lord, I have a confession to make. I have not loved, but have resented certain people and have unforgiveness in my heart. I call upon You, Lord, to help me forgive them. I do now forgive (name them). I also forgive and accept myself in the name of Jesus Christ.”


PRIDE PRAYER
(based on Proverbs 11:2, 16:18, 26:12; 1 Timothy 3:6)

“Father, I come to You in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I know pride is an abomination to You. I renounce anything that would cause me to have pride in my heart in dealing with other people. I renounce these and turn away from them. I humble myself before You and come to You as a little child.“ Study Proverbs 6:16-19 and remember that fasting is a means by which a person humbles himself before the Lord.


GENERATIONAL BONDAGE PRAYER
(based on Exodus 20:4-6, 34:7; Numbers 14:18)


“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I now renounce, break, and loose myself from all bondages or bonds of physical or mental illness upon me, my family or family line as the result of parents or any other ancestors. I thank You, Lord, for setting me free.”

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