High School Lesson – Love Hate Week 3
High School Lesson – Love Hate Week 3
Help, I’ve fallen off my fast!
Do you find fasting to be a challenging commitment? I most definitely have. Our church facilitates an annual 40-day church-wide fast. I’m usually excited to get started. I’ve learned fasting is an external expression of communicating with God when we need more of Him. It is an opportunity to become spiritually stronger. During these moments, we crave Godly intimacy and willingly refuse natural comforts for more of His spirit.
Fasting has taught me that I’m a good starter and good finisher — it’s the middle I struggle with. It seems somewhere around day ten, I dream about cake. One year, one of my friends was celebrating her birthday at work. Well, how could I be rude and refuse to have a sweet slice of cake? Besides, who’s looking, right? God understands. These were my justifications and a dream come true. I was dreaming about cake. Well, just as I was enjoying that slice, another friend and member of my church entered the office and saw me. She was shocked, and so was I. I got caught, cake in hand!
The truth is, I messed up. There’s no denying that. Failing is no reason to give up. I had to go back to the heart of why I was fasting. I needed more of God. Just like in any situation where I’ve fallen short of His glory, I needed to ask His forgiveness and remember my personal relationship with Him was and is worth it.
Here are some things I’ve found helpful during an extended fast.
1) First things first…I begin my day with prayer and Bible reading. Our pastor leads us in a prayer call at 6:33 am Monday – Saturday. This sets the direction for my day.
2) Having accountability partners. I wonder if my friend had not found me eating cake if I would have continued justifying loopholes. Now my co-workers and lunch partners know when I’m fasting. Even when they are not fasting, they know my limits and are careful to remind me.
3) If you work from home and do not have accountability partners, modern-day technology works as a great reminder. Setting reminder alerts with encouraging Bible verses in my phone or an assistant app are great tools and help me regain my focus.
We must remember fasting is about intimacy — growing closer and stronger in our Father. It’s about turning the volume down on daily distractions. Therefore, food should not be the only item we limit as we seek Him. Just as we build muscle in the natural, by way of physical resistance, the same principle applies in the spiritual. Strive not to lose your focus; however, if you do, remember His grace is sufficient for you.
We care about your kids and want to keep them and others safe. We will have online worship services from March 15th-29th. We want to still reach your kids and support their continued spiritual growth on their level. On Sunday, please open this link to go over the story with your child. https://vimeo.com/showcase/6860371. If your child is 1st grade or younger, they will watch the First Look Preschool Experience video. If your child is in 2nd to 5th grade, they will watch both 252 Kids Elementary Experience and 252 Preteen Experience videos. We will continue to send videos that the kids can watch over the next 3 weeks.
We want to be as helpful as possible. Here are some resources that may help you and your child:
* Parent Cue App – this free app gives you weekly cues that are aligned with the content in the video presentations: https://bit.ly/2wTCNtG
* Managing Fear and Anxiety During a Health Pandemic – a blog post on managing anxiety during any number of life disruptions. https://bit.ly/2Q6kJTG
* Anxiety Conversation Guides – you can download these age-appropriate resources to find tips and practical ways to your child.
(Preschool) – https://bit.ly/33eSacg
(Elementary) – https://bit.ly/38LkjZs
When we begin live services again, we ask that you please partner with us to prevent the spread of illnesses. All volunteers, parents, and children should stay home for 14 days if exposed to a person with the coronavirus, the flu, or any other communicable disease or have recently traveled to a Centers for Disease Control Level 2 or 3 country.
You may have questions about what we’re doing to ensure our environment is clean and safe for your family. We want to inform you of the steps we take every week to prevent the spread of viruses in our environments.
– We follow hand-washing procedures and children are instructed to wash their hands when they enter the classroom, after using the bathroom and before eating snack.
– We follow safe and sanitary diaper-changing procedures.
– Staff and children use hand sanitizer.
– We disinfect the classrooms after each service.
– We remove children from the classroom when they appear to be sick, and parents are texted to pick them up.
Given the heightened awareness of viruses during this season, once we return to live services, we ask you not to bring your child to church if they exhibit any of the following symptoms:
– Fever (during this season, must be fever-free for seven days)
– Vomiting or diarrhea (must be symptom-free for 24 hours)
– Common cold from onset through one week
– Respiratory infection
– Sore throat or strep throat
– Cloudy or green runny nose
– Persistent cough
– Body aches
– Infectious or unexplained rash
– Pinkeye or other eye infection (must be on medication a minimum of 24 hours)
– Any childhood disease (e.g., scarlet fever, German measles, mumps, chickenpox)
Thank you for all you do as parents to help your children learn and grow in their faith. By faith, we will see you soon!
Now, if you’re like me, you probably don’t know much about fasting except for that you’re supposed to do it, and it will bring you closer to God. And if you’re like me, then you’re probably also wondering how fasting and not eating will bring you closer to God, especially if you’re someone who gets hangry (hungry and angry). There’s more to fasting than not eating. The process as a whole is a spiritual challenge that will allow you to rely on God in your weakest moments.
What exactly is fasting? Fasting is an abstinence from food or a limiting of one’s food, especially when voluntary and as a religious observance, according to Dictionary.com. Why do we fast? We don’t just fast because someone tells us to do so. We fast because of the great benefits associated with it. Although the Bible does not give us a direct command to fast, it states that “…man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4 NIV). This is not to be taken literally. Metaphorically speaking, it means that we are able to survive based on the Word of God in addition to the other basic necessities of life. Food, water, and shelter alone will not give us what we need to get through life. God’s love and Word are what will sustain us whether we are in abundance of or lacking life’s necessities.
What happens to us when we fast? Other than hunger pains, some advantages come along with fasting. When we fast, we humble ourselves. Psalms 35:13 (NIV) states that “yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting.” We recently learned from Bishop Rosie that we should humble ourselves so that God can exalt us. And we humble ourselves by casting our cares to God (1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV). Therefore, do not worry about being hungry, don’t worry about whether you can do it, and do not worry about all of your other troubles. When you fast, you are giving all your cares to God and relying on your faith and God’s Word to care for you.
What should we do when we fast? We should pray. Of course, the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), which means that we should pray all the time. But you should especially pray when fasting. Fasting is a time when you place all focus on God, and unanswered prayers may finally come to fruition. Ezra 8:23 (NIV) says, “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.” God is waiting on you to fast so He can answer your prayers. God will be your confidante during your fast, so talk to Him as much as you can. In the end, you will see that it was all worth it (Matthew 6:16-18 NIV).
Contributor: K. Wyatt
The Bible defines fasting as giving up food and/or drink for a certain amount of time for spiritual purposes. When I think of the word fasting, what comes to mind is giving up food and only drinking water for a few hours. This is what some would say is normal fasting. I participated in a normal fast for school. It was around the final exam week; my grandmother and I would turn down our plates and only drink liquids for twelve hours. We did it for about four days. When we finished fasting, I did well on my exams and passing the classes.
The Daniel fast (Daniel 1:5-21 NIV) lasted for ten days. Daniel and three other people were given nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. When the ten days were up, Daniel and friends looked healthier and better nourished. Verse 17 says that God gave them knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning, and Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. This way of fasting is called partial fast. Partial fasting is only eating certain food/drinks or abstaining from certain kinds of foods (e.g., no meat or sweets, fruits, and vegetables, etc.).
Another type of fast and the one you should cautious of is an absolute fast. An absolute fast is not taking in any food or water. You should only participate for about three days and if you have a clear command from the Lord while you are in good health.
Koinonia is participating in a corporate fast where the church has been called by God to fast together during a certain length of time. Packets have been prepared to provide guidelines for the fast and devotionals to guide our spiritual walk with God.
Before the fast:
During the fast:
I will be participating in my first corporate fast with Koinonia. I am uneasy because I do not know what to expect. However, I have made goals of the things I want clarification on and help with my direction after I graduate.
Contributor: T. Dozier-Grady
Scores of lyrics and songs about the hidden power of a real friendship have been written and recorded through the years. At times in our society, the media represents true friendship as nonexistent or even a rare commodity. However, there are many of us who know firsthand that genuine friendship is a treasure to behold, loved, cherished, and admired.
“That’s What Friends Are For” was recorded first by Rod Stewart as a movie theme then again by Dionne Warwick in a relief effort for HIV/AIDS. The lyrics of this popular song reflect the need to stand by those suffering from debilitating diseases as part of a long-lasting friendship. The lyrics continue with “In good times and bad times I’ll be on your side forevermore” telling of deep emotion that a true friend feels when the other friend is suffering.
The lyrics of the song “Friends” by Whodini ask, “how many of us have them…ones you can depend on?” Have you ever asked yourself any of these same questions when friendships have gone astray leaving us hurt with unanswered questions? Some of us have been in a negative situation with someone we thought was a true friend only to have it downward spiral and never pick back up. These negative experiences taught us about ourselves and about others by getting our attention, bringing us in God’s presence, slowing us down, giving us time to reflect on our lives, and teaching us how to respond if we face a similar situation in the future.
True friends bear one another’s burdens, the friendships withstand the test of time, and each person knows that there is always someone in their corner. Some of us may feel or seem friendless because of circumstances we have faced such as tragedy, trauma, and stressful life events. It is during these times that the words of another song bring wistful and melancholy feelings. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” reminds us of a true friend who sticks closer than a brother and is incomparable to anyone else. The love Jesus has for us cannot be explained and neither can it be earned. It is just what it is.
No one seems to really know or understand why we love and have the friends we do or how the bonds are formed and last. Some say it just happens, others describe it as a connection, some say its destiny, and yet others say it is a blessing. Regardless of the origin of friendship, true friends endure hardships with us just as if they are the ones experiencing it themselves. A genuine friendship is a relationship that just like others cannot be broken but is still tested by disappointments, hurts, shifts, time, distance, heartaches, heartbreak, economic hardship, joy, pain, suffering, celebration, hope, recovery, perseverance, and still the list goes on. Real friends are like the family we never had but will always treasure.
Contributor – E. Taylor
Have you ever found it difficult to love those that are kind toward you? Most times, loving someone like this takes little effort. However, in those challenging moments, we find it difficult to love those that have hurt us. Loving someone in the difficult times requires a patient enduring love, but love has the ability to grow. Here’s what I mean.
The day my husband’s son was born, I cried. Yes, you read that right. After seven years of marriage and two children, my husband and I separated. During our separation, he entered another relationship and had a third child. So, if I had hope that perhaps one day we would reconcile our marriage, after my stepson was born all hope seemed lost.
The dynamics of my life had changed. I became a single working mom and student. My favorite pastime was crying. Anger, confusion, and doubt became very familiar to me. Then, without warning and in the midst of my heartache, my mother passed. Loving my husband was the last thing I wanted to do. So, I talked over my woes with anyone who would listen: family, friends, but the best listeners were strangers on the New York City subways. Eventually, I did seek a professional therapist though.
I also sought help from God. Anytime I could find Him, I did. I started going to church on my lunch-hour to pray for strength and the strength and joy came slowly. I felt I could do this and deep down I had hoped for reconciliation, but I didn’t know if I could accept my husband’s child. However, I was willing if we could repair our marriage.
After three years, we did find love again and reconciled our marriage, but there was still the question of if I could accept my stepson as a member of our family. I had to stretch my heart — not much — just a little. My heart was not broken beyond repair; it still worked.
Over the years, our family relocated from New York to North Carolina and my stepson spent weeks at a time with us. I soon realized how kind, helpful and respectful he was. In time, my heart began to stretch more. Then, as our children grew and bonded during his visits, I admired their love and laughter for one another and my heart began to stretch even more.
It is true that no one graces this green earth without the approval of Jesus Christ. I saw that in my stepson. It didn’t matter how he got here. What mattered most was he had arrived. He is a part of our family with a very important purpose.
I learned no matter how hopeless a situation might seem, not all is lost. If you open your heart, just a little, there’s a Godly love, a mature love, a patient love, that endures. This love can and will stretch your heart. We just have to be willing.
Contributor – A. Dorcent
Do you know how we can make the world a better place? By being ourselves. I do not like to see people suffer especially when I have the resources to help them. I give without thinking about what reward I could receive from helping others. That is called being altruistic. Caring about the well-being of others without regarding your own interests. I express my concern towards others by asking, “How are you doing?” If their facial expression does not look like they are happy, I pull them aside to talk to them about how they are feeling that day.
About two months ago, I was debating if I wanted to go to a school event to which a friend invited me. I was going back and forth in my mind because I was complaining that I was tired. However, the Spirit led me to go to campus that night. The Spirit knew I had a purpose. Long-story short, I helped a young man deal with his emotions because he had recently broken up with his girlfriend. He felt depressed and did not have the drive to keep going. I talked him through his emotions and encouraged him since I had been through those feelings myself. If I had been selfish and ignored where the Spirit wanted me to go, he could have fallen into a deep hole. However, Jesus knew I had something within that would help that person. When we finished talking, he said that he appreciated me talking to him and figuring out things that would make him happy again. It made me feel good inside to know I helped him in some way. My act of kindness was my way of showing that person I loved them.
Jesus showed us an act of kindness when He washed the feet of the disciples. He said in John 13:12-17 (NLT), “After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.”” Jesus showed us that we should treat everyone with the same respect. Sometimes, it takes that one brave person to lend a helping hand to show that there are people in the community who cares about them. You may not have changed the whole world but you have changed that person’s world.
Contributor – T. Dozier-Grady