Sunday Morning: Faith Labs

Recently, on Sunday mornings in the youth group, we have done our Sunday school bible class a little differently. I’ve been developing an idea to make our class time more of a hands-on “laboratory” of exploring faith and personal discipleship. Basically instead of just teaching by lecture/discussion I’m trying to demonstrate/encourage techniques/disciplines students can use (anytime, but especially throughout the rest of the week) to help themselves grow in their faith.

To help make these labs more effective, it’s time for us to gather the right tools. Can you work on gathering these supplies?

  1. Binder - any 3 ring binder will do. Probably a smaller one is great. This will be to keep track of the exercises we go through so they can be referenced later.

  2. Journal - I prefer a nicer moleskin journal, but this could be a spiral notebook, a composition book, etc. These journals are just for students to write in. I won’t be reading them. However, I strongly encourage the practice of using them.

  3. Study Bible - Study Bibles are incredible tools for helping anyone understand the context, meaning, and application of the Bible. I purchased several Student Study Bibles for the youth group. If you would like one you can buy them (at cost) from me. I got two basic types of study bible the ESV Student Study Bible (in a variety of bindings) and the CSB Student Apologetics Study Bible. If you buy the bibles from me they are either $15 or $25 depending on binding type.

As always, let me know if you have any questions. I’m really excited about this!

The “Look+Do” Service Exercise (Dec 9-22)

“He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

From beginning to end, this exercise is all about actually DOING deeds of service for others. Each day of the exercise you will receive a text that gives you a challenging thought about service and a reminder for you to intentionally find ways to serve the people you encounter.

So, what does “service” look like? That’s definitely something we’ll look at throughout the exercise, but serving others is as simple as doing something for someone else that you are not required to do. Here are some examples:

  • Holding the door open for people

  • Cleaning up other people’s trash (like in the cafeteria or where people don’t clean up after themselves)

  • Yardwork - rack someone’s leaves, offer to mow their grass, etc.

  • Chores - Even though it’s your brother’s turn to take out the trash, why don’t you do it instead?

  • Listening - There are some people (you know who I’m talking about) who are always ignored by everyone. Spend some time talking with that person.

  • What other ideas can you think of?

Why do we serve? I can think of three reasons of the top of my head:

  1. Jesus was a servant - Jesus came to serve, not be served. He constantly was helping other people.

  2. Serving points people to Jesus - Being selfless is unexpected in our world. When we serve we have the opportunity to demonstrate what Jesus is like and what it means to be his follower.

  3. It’s good for YOU - Anytime we take our focus off ourselves and onto the needs of others we grow compassion. Thinking about others more than ourselves is vital to growing in your faith.

Summary: Every day for the next two weeks, look for opportunities to do something for someone else that you are not required to do. Then, do it.

The Boomerang Challenge

Welcome back to the Growth Challenge! For the next two weeks we will be training ourselves to think about God more frequently during the day. Just like a boomerang returns to the person who threw it (I mean, in theory) this is all about us bringing our thoughts back to God!

Here’s how it works: every morning you’ll get a text with a short Bible passage. (To join the text group, text this code: @nsmgrowth to this number: 81010) Read the passage as soon as you can. Then, try to read the passage two more times throughout the day. Ideally, the goal is to keep the passage on your mind throughout the day. You can write the passage on an index card to carry with you and look at, you can memorize the passage, you can take a screenshot of it and make it your lock/background screen on your phone. You can just keep opening your Bible to it.

Try and pay attention to what you’re thinking about during the day. As you realize you’re not thinking about God or Godly things, refocus and boomerang your thoughts back to God. Use this verse to give you something to “meditate on”. Remember meditation is not some weird thing you do sitting with your legs crossed funny. It’s just letting your mind slowly think about something. In this case, we’re reading the day’s passage over and over to let the passage sink into our thoughts.

So this exercise teaches us to use a bible passage as an anchor for our thoughts so that we can be more aware of God and Godly things during our day. This is going to be the foundation for the challenges coming after this exercise.

Remember to encourage your friends to stick with this exercise. This is not supposed to be something you do just by yourself. Ask your friends how the exercise is going for them and expect them to do the same for you!

Here is a list of passages we will use the next two weeks.

November 18 - Psalm 92:1–2

1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praise to your name, Most High, 2 to declare your faithful love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,

November 19 - Psalm 139:1–4

1 Lord, you have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away. 3 You observe my travels and my rest; you are aware of all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue, you know all about it, Lord.

November 20 - Colossians 3:1–2

1 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

November 21 - Psalm 139:13–14

13 For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.

November 22 - Psalm 139:23–24

23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.

November 23 - 1 Peter 2:1–3

1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow up into your salvation, 3 if you have tasted that the Lord is good.

November 24 - Psalm 119:1–2

1 How happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk according to the Lord’s instruction! 2 Happy are those who keep his decrees and seek him with all their heart.

November 25 - Psalm 119:9–11

9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping your word. 10 I have sought you with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands. 11 I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.

November 26 - Colossians 3:1–2

1 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

November 27 - Psalm 119:15–16

15 I will meditate on your precepts and think about your ways. 16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

November 28 - Psalm 119:35–37

35 Help me stay on the path of your commands, for I take pleasure in it. 36 Turn my heart to your decrees and not to dishonest profit. 37 Turn my eyes from looking at what is worthless; give me life in your ways.

November 29 - Colossians 3:12–14

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. 14 Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

November 30 - Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

December 1 - Psalm 42:1–2

1 As a deer longs for flowing streams, so I long for you, God. 2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God?

Saturate - Summer 2018 Challenge

If you haven’t already, grab one of the Saturate Summer 2018 Guides from Rick in the teen room. It has all the instructions that you’ll need for the summer. Most of what I’m saying here is repeated on that guide.

This summer, we will saturate ourselves in God’s word. Each week we will be reading a passing and completing exercises that help us think about those passages. Then, on Wednesday nights we will discuss the work we have been doing.

Each week read and re-read the assigned passage, complete the SOAP exercises in your journal, then use what you learned from those exercises to complete each week’s section in the guide. You can do this all at once, or slowly throughout the week (recommended).

SOAP Explanation


Write out one or more of the verses from the passage that catch your attention.


Write down what you notice about this passage. What is the main point? How would you summarize this passage?


Make it personal. How does this passage relate to your life? Are there things you should quit doing or start doing? What is God teaching you from this passage?


In light of what you’ve learned, spend some time with God. Write down a short prayer to God. It can be thanking God for truths you’ve learned in the passage, asking God for forgiveness, or asking for help in living this out in your life.

At the end of the summer, complete the looking back section of this guide to record the lessons these books and these exercises have taught you.

Weekly assignments:

  • By June 6 read 1 Peter 1:1-12
  • By June 13 read 1 Peter 1:13-25
  • By June 20 read 1 Peter 2:1-12
  • By June 27 read 1 Peter 2:13-25
  • By July 11 read 1 Peter 3
  • By July 18 read 1 Peter 4
  • By July 25 read 1 Peter 5
  • By August 1st read 2 Peter 1
  • By August 8nd read 2 Peter 2
  • By August 15th read 2 Peter 3

Pacing Example:

  • Thursday/Friday - Read the passage and write out in your journal one or more of the verses from the passage that catch your attention.
  • Friday/Saturday -  Read the passage and complete the observation step.

  • Saturday/Sunday - Read the passage and complete the application step.

  • Sunday/Monday - Read the passage and complete the prayer step.

  • Monday/Tuesday - Read the passage and fill-in this week’s section in your guide.

May - Proverbs Challenge

Summer is just around the corner! As we wrap up the school year and transition into the summer, I have a new challenge for you! 

The month of May has 31 days in it. Conveniently, the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters in it. So, every day in this month we will be reading a chapter from Proverbs (you could do this exercise with any month that has 31 days). This will make it really easy to keep up with. If you get behind and are curious to know what chapter to read, all you have to do is check the day's date! If it's May 19th, read the 19th chapter of Proverbs! 

If you get behind you can either skip to the chapter of the current day or catch up as you can. 

Throughout the month I'll be posting some suggestions or resources (videos, articles, etc) to help make this process more helpful. 

As we get started, I encourage you to keep your journal close by. The book of Proverbs is unlike most of the other books of the bible. It's genre is wisdom literature. So, it's filled of beautiful quotes, illustrations, images, and ideas you may want to write down. Use your journal to record the ideas that catch your attention, the questions that keep you focused, and the nuggets of wisdom that tug at your soul. 

Remember: let these readings become more than just another assignment to complete. This is God's word. Let the wisdom this book contains sink-in and have authority in your life. We need God's word! 

The Gospel of Luke - Final Readings (April 22 - 30)

This is the final week or so! Here are the readings!

  • Sunday, April 22 - Read Luke 17:11-18:14. When it comes to gratitude are you more like the one who returned or the nine who didn't?
  • Monday, April 23 - Read Luke 18:15-34. In what ways are you like the Pharisee? In what ways are you like the tax collector? 
  • Tuesday, April 24 - Read Luke 18:35-19:44. Zacchaeus realized that he needed to make restitution for cheating people. What wrongs do you need to make right?
  • Wednesday, April 25 - Read Luke 19:45-20:26. What is the meaning of the parable of the Vineyard Owner?
  • Thursday, April 26 - Read Luke 20:27 - 21:4. What does God expect us to give? Why do we give?
  • Friday, April 27 - Read Luke 21:5-22:38. What do you think about when you take the Lord's Supper? How can you better prepare yourself for it?
  • Saturday, April 28 - Read Luke 22:39-65. Put yourself in Peter's shoes. What emotions do you feel? How are you like Peter?
  • Sunday, April 29 - Read Luke 22:66-23:56. Why did Jesus die on the cross? What did he hope to accomplish?
  • Monday, April 30 - Read Luke 24. Look at verse 31. Have your eyes been opened to see who Jesus really is? 

Good job guys! If you've kept up with us, you have completely read the Gospel of Luke. Even if you didn't read all of it, hopefully you spent more time in God's word. I'm proud of you! Keep striving to know more about God and his word! 

The Gospel of Luke - Week 3 (April 15-21)

Welcome to week 3 of Luke! Guys, we're halfway there. Even if you haven't been able to keep up with ALL of the readings so far, it's okay! Just pickup with our passage for the day. If you get spare time, go back and read or skim what you missed. Naturally, the more consistent any of us are, the better. However, I think any progress we make is good! Keep on striving to make reading God's word everyday part of your normal routine. 

Here are the readings/questions for this week:

  • Sunday, April 15 - Read Luke 11:14-54. What's the difference between hearing the word and keeping it (11:28)? Why is that so hard? 
  • Monday, April 16 - Read Luke 12:1-34. Look at verse 34 again. Where is your heart today with earthly or heavenly things?
  • Tuesday, April 17 - Read Luke 12:35-59. Read vv 35-40 again. Are you ready if Jesus came back today?
  • Wednesday, April 18 - Read Luke 13:1-30. What caught your attention most in today's reading?
  • Thursday, April 19 - Read Luke 13:31-14:24. Read vv 15-24 again. What's the lesson of this parable?
  • Friday, April 20 - Read Luke 14:25-15:32. In 15:11-32, which character are you most like?
  • Saturday, April 21 - Read Luke 16:1-17:10. Will you go to Heaven when you die? How can you be sure?

You got this! If you're able, respond to the prompt question, too. It's good if you think through your response, it's even better if you journal about it! 

The Gospel of Luke - Week 2 (April 8-14)

Welcome to week two reading the gospel of Luke. I hope this time has been beneficial for you. The more we know God's word, the more we know of God. I'm praying for you guys. Keep going! Here are the readings and reflection questions for this week:

  • Sunday, April 8 - Read Luke 6:37-49. Look at verse 46. Do you actually follow Jesus' commands?
  • Monday, April 9 - Read Luke 7. How have you responded to Jesus' forgiveness?
  • Tuesday, April 10 - Read Luke 8:1-25. Imagine if you were in the boat with Jesus. Incredible!
  • Wednesday, April 11 - Read Luke 8:26-9:17. Do you think demons/evil are still at work today?
  • Thursday, April 12 - Read Luke 9:18-36. Read verses 23-27 again. Is following Jesus worth it?
  • Friday, April 13 - Read Luke 9:37-62. Look at verse 48. What does it mean to be the least among others?
  • Saturday, April 14 - Read Luke 10:1-11:13. What's the message of the parable of the Good Samaritan?

The Gospel of Luke - Week 1 (April 1-7)

This week, we're getting started with the book of Luke! Grab your journal and your bible and get to work! Every day this week, I'll send you a text with the passage for the today and Question to consider. Here'a preview of what I'll be sending your way this week:

  • Sunday, April 1 - Luke 1:1-38 Q: Mary was completely willing to follow God's plan for her life. How can you be more like her?
  • Monday, April 2 - Luke 1:39-66 Q: Mary praised God for how he was at work in her life. What would you say in your praise song to God?
  • Tuesday, April 3 - Luke 1:67-2:52 Q: What do you think v52 means? How can you do the same?
    • Bonus: Why did Jesus come to earth as a human? Have you been born again? 
  • Wednesday, April 4- Luke 3:1-4:13 Q: How can you follow Jesus' example in resisting those temptations?
    • Bonus: Why was Jesus baptized?
  • Thursday, April 5 - Luke 4:14-5:11 Q: Where is Jesus asking you to follow him? What must you give up to follow him? (Lk 5:11)
  • Friday, April 6 - Luke 5:12-39 Read 6:31-32 again. Examine yourself. Are you healthy or sick? Are you ready to get better?
  • Saturday, April 7 - Luke 6:1-36 Q: To you, what's the hardest teaching Jesus gives in this passage?

Keep going guys! You can do this! 

The Gospel of Luke in 30 Days

Hey Growth Challenge crew! Here's our next challenge. Starting April 1st (I know, terrible time to start something serious), we will begin reading the gospel of Luke! By the end of the month, we'll have read the whole thing! 

It's so important for us to know God's word. Perhaps even more importantly, we need to know God. Jesus was God in the flesh, and the Bible is how we get introduced to Jesus. Luke is a powerful gospel! I'm really excited we'll be spending this month reading this gospel. 

As we read, we'll also be working on some reflection questions and journaling assignments. Every week, in a new blog post (what you're reading now), I'll post the assignments for the week. This is going to be tough, but it's a reasonable goal. Stick with it, ya'll! 

Here's a listing of the reading break-down for the next month:
April 1, 2018            Luke 1:1–38
April 2, 2018            Luke 1:39–66
April 3, 2018            Luke 1:67–2:52
April 4, 2018            Luke 3:1–4:13
April 5, 2018            Luke 4:14–5:11
April 6, 2018            Luke 5:12–39
April 7, 2018            Luke 6:1–36
April 8, 2018            Luke 6:37–49
April 9, 2018            Luke 7
April 10, 2018            Luke 8:1–25
April 11, 2018            Luke 8:26–9:17
April 12, 2018            Luke 9:18–36
April 13, 2018            Luke 9:37–62
April 14, 2018            Luke 10:1–11:13
April 15, 2018            Luke 11:14–54
April 16, 2018            Luke 12:1–34
April 17, 2018            Luke 12:35–59
April 18, 2018            Luke 13:1–30
April 19, 2018            Luke 13:31–14:24
April 20, 2018            Luke 14:25–15:32
April 21, 2018            Luke 16:1–17:10
April 22, 2018            Luke 17:11–18:14
April 23, 2018            Luke 18:15–34
April 24, 2018            Luke 18:35–19:44
April 25, 2018            Luke 19:45–20:26
April 26, 2018            Luke 20:27–21:4
April 27, 2018            Luke 21:5–22:38
April 28, 2018            Luke 22:39–65
April 29, 2018            Luke 22:66–23:56
 April 30, 2018            Luke 24

Gratitude Challenge!

Welcome back to the growth challenge everyone! I believe that if you take these exercises seriously, you can make some huge strides forward in your relationship with God. These exercises are difficult, time-consuming, and sometimes frustrating. But that also makes them valuable. 

This week we will be completing readings and exercises that focus on the theme of gratitude. When I find my selfish attitude flaring up and I find myself wanting more stuff (books, video games, etc) gratitude is a healthy response. The reality is, more of anything is never enough. We only want more. That desire to have more drives us away from God. When we develop the attitude of gratitude (hey, that rhymes) the more we recognize how much we have already received from God. When we shift our attention from ourselves back to God, we appreciate what God has already blessed us with even more! 

So, join me this week in practicing gratitude. Here's the run-down of this week's activities:

    1. Sunday, March 25th

      1. Read Romans 6:17, Eph 1:15-16, Phil 1:3-5, Col 1:3-4, 1 Thes 1:2-3

      2. Be grateful for the church you have and the Christians whom are in your life

    2. Monday, March 26th

      1. Read 1 Thes 5:16-18

      2. Start a list of everything you are grateful for.

    3. Tuesday, March 27th

      1. Read Psalm 135:1-2

      2. Today: think about how much God loves you. Thank God for his love for you.

    4. Wednesday, March 28th

      1. Read 1 Thes 5:16-18 again.

      2. Keep adding to your list of things you are thankful/grateful for. As you find yourself with a negative attitude (or selfish, desiring-more attitude) replace that attitude with being gratitude.

    5. Thursday, March 29th

      1. Read Psalm 100:1-4

      2. Spend some time today writing down your answer to these questions: Is it obvious to people looking at my life that I am grateful to God? What needs to change so that I show gratitude better?

    6. Friday, March 30th

      1. Read Philippians 4:6

      2. Think about how you usually pray. Let today be the starting point of the new habit of praying with thanksgiving!

    7. Saturday, March 31st.

      1. Spend some reflecting/catching up on this week’s challenge in gratitude. Close out the week by praying with thanksgiving and sharing with someone else how grateful you are for what God has done in your life

I'm really excited about this challenge. If you're like me, you REALLY need it. God wants us to enjoy stuff, he created us that way. It's just so important that we recognize where our stuff is coming from. We have to remember to worship the creator rather than the created things. Let me know how it goes this week! 

Let's Take a Break! (from the texts...not God...)

Great job these past few weeks, guys! I really hope it's been helpful for you. I hope the way you pray has been challenged these last 3 weeks. All of us are works in progress, hopefully we've made some big progress. 

We've been going full-speed ahead for a few weeks now. I think it's time for us to take a break from me sending you reminders. So for the next two weeks (this week of school, then spring break) I won't be sending you daily assignments. 

We won't have any official challenge we'll be working on as a group. However, please don't stop thinking about your spiritual growth. Here are some ideas of things you can decide to do on your own during these next few weeks:

  1. Repeat past challenges - Look over the challenges we've done in the past and choose one or two to try again.
  2. Slowly read the book of Philippians. It's only 4 chapters long. Take some time to read through it once (or more than once) these next 2 weeks. Write down any questions you have, important discoveries you make, or areas where you can apply what the book says to your life. 
  3. Read a chapter of proverbs every day. Fun fact: there are 31 chapters of Proverbs and several months have 31 days. can read whatever book of proverbs lines up with the date. So today, March 4th you can read Proverbs 4. 
  4. Continue the disciplines of reading the bible, praying, and journaling on your own. 

As always guys, I want to hear from you. Let me know what has been helpful for you! I'm excited to see you all grow. I'm praying for you guys these next few weeks. I hope you're praying for me, too! 

Prayer Challenge - Week 3

Congratulations on these past two weeks, guys! I hope the exercises we’ve been working on are starting to take hold in your life. They have the power to radically transform the way you think and live. I’ve been praying for you and will continue to do so. Ya’ll free to talk to me about how this is going for you. I want to know! Even if you’ve been struggling with the assignments, I still want to know about it!

This week, we will be reading through some of the family prayers of Jesus. Naturally, Jesus is a great teacher on prayer and an excellent example on how to pray. His prayers are insightful. As we spend this week looking at his prayers, remember this. Jesus’ prayers aren’t effective because of the words he says, but because of the attitude he has towards God in prayer. So, our goal isn’t to pray the same words Jesus prays, but to pray in the same way Jesus prays.

There aren't any specific journaling assignments this week, but please keep up with writing notes, prayer requests, or writing your prayers out to God in your journal. Here is the preview of what is coming this week:

  • Sunday, February 25th - Read Matthew 6:5-15 and in your prayer submit to God's will.
  • Monday, February 26th - Read Matthew 6:5-15 and pray for God to provide everything you need that day. Thank him when he does provide!
  • Tuesday, February 27th - Read Matthew 6:5-15 and pray for forgiveness AND to forgive others. 
  • Wednesday, February 28th - Read John 17:6-19 and pray for your fellow Christians. Both the ones you know and the those all around the world you don't know!
  • Thursday, March 1st - Read John 17:6-19 and pray to be sanctified. (look up the word if you need to, remember this is a process, not an overnight thing)
  • Friday, March 2nd - Read John 17:6-20-26 and pray to thank God for sending Jesus.
  • Saturday, March 3rd - Read John 17:6-20-26 and pray in response to this passage. You could pray for unity, thankfulness, sanctification, or whatever else God is leading you to pray about. 

I'm looking forward to this week. There are some stellar prayers in here. Let me know if you have any questions, comments, ideas, or something similar. You can comment on this post too, if you want. :) 

Prayer Challenge - Week 2

Great job last week praying the colors. I heard some really cool stories coming out of that. I hope you're beginning to see how easy it is to say quick prayers and how big of an influence it can have on your life. 

By the way, we just finished week 1 of our prayer challenge. We're going to be focusing on prayer for a total of 3 weeks. So we're starting week 2 now. We'll be doing different exercises each week. 

This week we're going to shift gears and start focusing on prayers that deal with reflection. So, we'll be reading a passage of scripture in the morning (we'll actually read the same passage a couple of days in a row), be thinking about that scripture throughout the day, and in the evening we will spend time with God in a prayer of reflection. 

Here's what I mean by "prayer of reflection". I think this works best either in bed before you fall asleep, or before you get into bed (if you're like me and fall asleep like instantly it's bad to start this when you're already in the bed), but are pretty much at the end of your day. Spend a few moments with God telling him about your entire day. Talk to him as if you were talking to your best friend filling him in on the details of your life. Naturally, God already knows what happened in your life. What makes this prayer different from just catching up with a friend is this, as you're telling the story of your day be aware of your attitudes and actions from your day that weren't what God wants for you (times you gossiped, times you were jealous, times you yelled at your parents). Also, talk to God about the opportunities you used well to glorify God in your life through Christ-like attitudes and actions. Take your whole day to God. This isn't an exercise that's supposed to make us feel guilty about everything in our day. instead, it's supposed to help us be mindful of how we're living and to help us have an open conversation with God about our mistakes and successes. Remember, God loves you! He wants to forgive you! He doesn't want anything coming in between his relationship with you! 

If you want, you're welcome to write about your day in your journal as well. That might help you organize your thoughts a bit better. 

So, everyday this week we'll be ending our day with a prayer of reflection.  Here is the listing of scripture we'll be reading to start the day: 

  • Sunday, February 18th - Read Psalm 139: 23-24
  • Monday, February 19th - Read Psalm 51.
  • Tuesday, February 20th - Read Psalm 51 again. 
  • Wednesday, February 21st - Read Psalm 51 a third time. If you are able, write this psalm in your own words. Ask for help if you need to! 
  • Thursday, February 22nd - Read Psalm 32:1-7
  • Friday, February 23rd - Read Psalm 63
  • Saturday, February 24th - Read Psalm 139. Record in your journal what this week's experience was like for you. 

You guys can do this! I'm so proud of you. Y'all are developing habits that will change your life. Just like physical exercise, you "feel the burn" right after you start working, but it takes time for you to really see changes in your life that are lasting. I know these exercises take time from your already busy days, but as you keep doing them, you'll see growth in some mighty ways. 

Let me know if you need any help! 

Prayer Challenge - Week 1

This week we will be reading various passages about prayer. In addition to reading God's word we will also be participating in one of my favorite prayer exercises: "Praying in Color". If you were around last summer we did this exercise.

Here's how "Praying in Color" works. Each day there will be a color of the day. Whenever, wherever, and as often as you see that color stop and say a quick prayer about the target for the day. For example, on Monday the color is red and the target is your family. So, anytime you see the color red say a prayer for your family (it can be for different family member each time, or you can pray for everyone). Each day has a new target and a new color. If you want you can try to keep praying for the old colors/targets or just focus on the new color/target for the day. This exercise helps us find new opportunities to pray and to become a natural reminder of prayer. 

For this week, the passage you'll read will be short. If possible, start your day by reading the passage. Let God's word teach you more about prayer. 

Here's the specific run-down of what we will be doing each day.

    • Sunday, February 11

      • Passage: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

      • Assignment: In your journal, write down a Prayer list. You can pray for stuff in yourself, your family, your friends, strangers, anyone. Just make a list of things you'd like to pray about. This is helpful so that you know what to pray for in the future and it's cool to look back on and see how God answered your prayers.

    • Monday, Feb 12

      • Passage: Philippians 4:6

      • Color: Red - Target: your Family

    • Tuesday, Feb 13

      • Passage: Ephesians 6:18-19

      • Color: Blue - Target: your Friends

    • Wednesday, Feb 14  

      • Passage: Luke 18:9-14

      • Color: Yellow/Gold - Target: your Church

    • Thursday, Feb 15

      • Passage: Matthew 7:7-11

      • Color: Green - Target: your future/God’s will

    • Friday, Feb 16

      • Passage: Matthew 5:43-44

      • Color: Black - Target: your enemies

    • Saturday, Feb 17

      • Passage: Romans 8:26-27

      • In your journal write down a full prayer to God. (so write out "dear God" at the beginning and "In Jesus name I pray, amen" at the end) Pray about whatever comes to mind, but take the time to write it down in your journal. Many people find writing out their prayers to be very helpful. As we'll see next week, many of the psalms are written prayers. 

Don't forget to encourage one another throughout this process. Share your prayer journey with your friends. Talk about the colors you are praying for. If you think about it, wear the color of the day so that you can remind your friends to be praying, too! 

Prayer Challenge Coming Soon!

Hey Growth Challenge participants! On Sunday, February 11th, we'll be starting a new challenge on prayer. Very soon, I'll be posting the details of that challenge.  It'll be both reading bible passages about prayer and also some tips and exercises in prayer to try. 

If you just recently joined, here's what you need to know:

This website: has all the details for what we're doing. I'll text you reminders throughout the challenge, but you can always come back to this page to get the full information. 

Also, if you're new, feel free to read the past posts of the stuff you've missed. Always feel free to try the older challenges, too.

This is for everyone. If you haven't yet, get a journal of some sort! Whether you use a composition notebook, a fancy moleskin notebook, or an app like evernote, just be prepared to have a journal to write in. It's an important part of the process! 

10 Day "Discipleship" Reading Plan - Instructions!

Over the next ten days, we will be reading 10 different passages that talk about discipleship. Discipleship means being a disciple. A disciple is a follower of someone. It's kind of like being an apprentice. As Christians, we're supposed to be followers (or apprentices, or disciples) of Jesus. So, these next ten days will help us get a glimpse at what it means to truly follow Christ. 

Here's the reading plan:

  • January 28, 2018            Matt 10:16–25

  • January 29, 2018            Matt 11:25–30

  • January 30, 2018            Mark 3:20–35

  • January 31, 2018            Mark 8:34–38

  • February 1, 2018            Mark 10:17–31

  • February 2, 2018            Luke 9:57–62

  • February 3, 2018            Luke 14:25–34

  • February 4, 2018            John 6:59–71

  • February 5, 2018            John 15:1–17

  • February 6, 2018            1 John 2:1–11


Remember to spend a couple of minutes each day writing in your journal the answer to this question; How should I respond to the Bible passage I read today? (Here's another way to phrase that question: Now that I've read this passage, what should I do differently in my life?)

Before we get started, let me remind you about something: What you're about to do is tough. It's hard to find time to read the Bible everyday. Don't get too upset with yourself is you miss a reading or two. Just catch up when you can and keep going. Remember, this may not be easy, but it will be worth it. 

I'll be texting you reminders throughout the week to keep us on track. You guys got this! I'm proud of you!


Growth Challenge Introduction and First Assignment!

What's up Growth Challenge peeps?! I'm so excited you've decided to take the next step in growing in your faith. I'm looking forward to seeing each of you grow. Throughout this semester, we'll change up what we do, but everything we do will be some sort of "spiritual practice" that helps us grow closer to God. Also, I hope by joining us in doing these exercises you will learn how to take care of your faith for yourself. 

Are you ready for your first assignment?!? On Sunday, January 28th we will start a short, 10-day reading plan. I'll give you more details on that soon. Before we start, I want us to gather a couple of resources. So here's your homework: before Sunday find a Bible and a journal/notebook for you to use throughout the growth challenge.

As we go through that 10-day reading plan I want you to get used to writing in a journal about your experience. Each day, try and answer this simple question: How should I respond to the Bible passage I read today? (Here's another way to phrase that question: Now that I've read this passage, what should I do differently in my life?). This journal is just for you. Unless you want to share it with me (or anyone else), it's for your eyes only. 

You need a Bible and a journal. You can either use "real" (printed) Bible and journal or electronic versions. Just decide what you're going to use now and stick with it. I like to use a real Bible and a real journal because I, for one, spend way too much time on a screen during the day. However, digital Bibles and journals work well, too.If you want to use a digital Bible, I recommend these:

If you want to use a digital journal, try Evernote (which will probably be helpful for more than just Bible study):

If you have trouble finding a Bible or a journal, please let me know. I can help you out! I'll be posting new details soon about the reading plan.  

Welcome to the Growth Challenge!

The Growth Challenge is designed to introduce you to tools/exercises to help you grow in and gain responsibility for your faith. Throughout the process, I'll post instructions here to clarify what the challenge is for the week. 

Stick with this! It's going to be tough, but we don't grow from only doing easy things! 

As always, let me know if you have any questions/comments. 

-rick grace-