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Copyright 2007 LauraLee Shaw/www.lovinthearts.

com

Dedicated to the “A Team,” Three kids learning to live out the themes in this book. Mama loves you.

All Scripture unless otherwise noted is from the New International Reader’s Version

Friendship Deedz, From A-Z

Parents, When my daughter was in third grade, relationship issues began to arise among the classmates at our private Christian school. These weren’t just “girl” issues, they were among the boys as well, though acted out differently. As I looked for resources to equip parents, I found a few for girls, but not much of anything relevant for boys and girls. So God began the process of inspiring me to write the resources instead. I am ever so thankful to Him. “Friendship” can be an intimate word, one that reminds us of that kindred spirit we desire to walk through life with. But it is also a broad word. We are to teach our children how to be Christ-like friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, friends in the family of God. That’s what this series of devotionals is all about. It is an opportunity for you to sit down with your son, daughter, niece, nephew or grandchild and read through one letter at a time, discussing and praying over them along the way. It’s not designed to be read more than one at a time…rather once a day, or once a week. At our house, we called it “Friendship Friday,” and we went through one letter on that day, giving the weekend to pray and discuss. Whatever you decide, I pray this gives you a resource to begin helping your child with his or her relationships. If you’re like me, you’ll probably grasp a principle or two along the way.

Kids, Wanna know how to be a good friend to others? Let your parents help you! They will join you in learning one VERB a week for each letter of the alphabet—the friendship alphabet—from the principles in the Bible. You’ll discuss a Scripture or two, the verb letter and the thinking questions for each week. Hopefully, with all the great stuff you’ll learn, God will help you be the best friend you can be—just like Him!

Let’s start learning about friendship, from A to Z!

“Dear Friends, Let us love one another, because love comes from God.”
1 John 4:7

A

sk Jesus About Friendship

John 14:26 “But the Father will send the Friend in My name to help you. The Friend is the Holy Spirit. He will teach you all things. He will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

How many times a day do you ask a question? And when you do, who do you ask? When you want the new, coolest toy, who do you ask to buy it for you? When you want permission to do something, who do you get the okay from? If the Math’s too difficult, who do you turn to for help? Just as we turn to our parents or grandparents, aunties or uncles, teachers and leaders to answer these questions for us, we can look to God to show us how to live from day to day. When it comes to friendship, the Bible has something to say on the subject! What does the Bible say about friendship? “A friend loves at all times. He is there to help when trouble comes.” Proverbs 17:17 What kind of example does the Lord set for friendship? “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face. It was like a man speaking to His friend.” Exodus 33:11 “No one has greater love than the One who gives His life for His friends.” John 15:13 These are powerful verses. See, God didn’t leave us alone to figure out friendship all on our own. He gave us His Word, and He gave us a Helper too, named the Holy Spirit (if you’ve taken the step of trusting Jesus Christ as your Savior). Take some time with your parent or the adult reading this with you to discuss what you think being a friend means. Then pray. Ask God as you go through this series of devotionals to open your eyes and ears to His Truth. After all, if you ask Him, He’ll answer. Let’s get “A” start on it today!

Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. Who is the Holy Spirit? How is the Holy Spirit my friend? 2. Why is it important to be a good friend? 3. In the verses above, what actions do we see discussed about friendship? 4. Pray and ask God to help you be a good friend and choose good friends.
We’ll get to the letter “B” next time. Here’s a clue: It has something to do with BE-ing you!

B e the star God made you to be!
“God made us. He created us to belong to Christ Jesus. Now we can do good things. Long ago God prepared them for us to do.”
Did you know that scientists estimate anywhere from 200 billion stars to 3 thousand million billion stars (that’s 3 followed by 16 zeros) exist in the universe? That’s A LOT of stars! What’s really amazing is that God is the only One who knows for sure how many stars there actually are. Psalm 147:4 says , “He decides how many stars there should be. He gives each one of them a name.” Imagine that! EACH star has a name! Well, you are even more important to God than they are. Look at what He says to you in Isaiah 43:4a: “You are priceless to me. I love you and honor you.” Isn’t that WAY cool?!? Because you are so priceless to God, He has honored you with a very special and one-of-a-kind purpose, one that only YOU can do. When it comes to friendship, this promise should give you great confidence--God-confidence! Just as each star beams radiantly in the sky with its different name, you can shine brightly in your relationships in a way no one else can. What special qualities has God given you? Not your talents--your personality, your gift from Him to offer others...Are you cheerful? Are you generous? Are you a good listener? Does your heart hurt when someone else is sad? Do you like to do kind things for others? Ask your parents what unique gifts they think God has given you. And remember, whatever they are, God prepared them long ago--so you could be the star God made you to be, shining brightly for all to see!
Ephesians 2:10

Discuss the following questions with your parent/s:
1. What do you think God means when He says you are “priceless” to Him? 2. What are some of your special qualities? How can you use these in your friendships? 3. Pray and ask God to help you shine in your friendships each and every day.

“How you made me is amazing and wonderful. I praise You for that!”
Psalm 139:14a Next week, we’ll consider the letter “C.” CLUE? It has to do with kings and queens!

C onsider others as kings and queens!
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.”
Did you know that kings and queens throughout history have had some magnificent ceremonies? A king might be raised up on a shield above the crowd, given an expensive crown and scepter with a robe that would set them apart from everyone else. Oh, and what about in 1838 when Queen Victoria was given the Imperial state crown which included 2,783 diamonds, 277 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 5 rubies at her coronation?* Imagine wearing that! It’s fascinating that Jesus Christ is the King of all kings (Rev. 19:16), and yet never once did He accept this kind of glory when He lived on earth. He showed that He was building a different kind of kingdom—not one based on diamonds, money, attention or earthly success. Instead, He was forming a kingdom built on humility and serving others. If you have become a Christian, you are His son or daughter…that makes you royalty! And it’s your responsibility to carry out your assignment on this earth in the same way He did—serving others. Last week, you learned that God gave you gifts to do good things. Look at this verse:
Philippians 2:3

“Each of you has received a gift in order to serve others. You should use it faithfully.” 1 Peter 4:10b
Get the picture? You can use what God has given you to serve others instead of using it to draw attention to yourself. It is so tempting to try to impress your friends with your gifts and talents—in other words, to show off your crown—but after awhile, the crown will get heavy on your head, and you will want others to share it with you. The only way to do that will be to take it off of your head and pass it around. After all, that’s what Jesus did! Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. What are some ways that Jesus served others in the Bible? 2. How can we serve our family and friends in the same way He did? 3. What do I do when I serve others and they aren’t nice back?
*

Source: www.englishmonarchs.co.uk/crown_jewels.htm

How could letter “D” compare? Tune in next week, if you dare!

D are to NOT compare!
Galatians 6:4-5 “Each of us has one body with many parts. And the parts do not all have the same purpose. So also we are many persons. But in Christ we are one body. And each part of the body belongs to all the other parts.”

Wanna hear a crazy thought? What if, one day you woke up and your arm had turned into a leg? It decided it wanted to go for a walk. (ha!) And then, your nose said, “I’m tired of smelling things…I’d rather sing instead.” So your nose became a mouth. It’s an interesting thought, but it wouldn’t work very well, would it? (It’d also look kind of nutty!) The same thing is true when you as God’s child compare yourself to others. “I wish I were as smart as him.” “Why can’t I sing like that?” “I play soccer better than she does.” You’ve already learned that God has given you special gifts and talents to shine in you and that He wants you to serve others with them; on the other hand, look at what the Bible says about comparing those abilities to others:
“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” Galatians 6:4

Depending on whether you’re the one wanting or the one bragging, God is the one who should always get the credit for the good things we do or have. Ask Him to help you understand how each person together, doing what he or she does well will show others a more complete picture of who Jesus is. Can you think of some other ways that one might compare himself or herself to another? Toys, houses, clothes, privileges are some. What are others? Discuss it with your parents…then look up one of the big “10” in Exodus 20:17. Comparing can sometimes lead to wanting what others have, can’t it? Daring to do what the letter “D” teaches will help you be a better friend, so will you do it? Double-dog-dare-ya! Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. What are some ways that you have compared yourself to others? 2. Have those comparisons ever led you to want something you don’t have? 3. According to the Galatians verse at the top, do you think it is ok to compare one friend to another? What about bragging if you have more of something than someone else? 4. What does the verse mean when it says, “But in Christ we are one body”? “E” is cheerful and likes to build. Meet him next week and learn his skill…

E ncourage Each Other!
1 Thessalonians 5:11a “…encourage one another and build each other up…”

Building with Legos can be a lot of fun. Would you believe the world record for the largest Lego castle used 400,000 bricks? That’s a ton of bricks, and I’m sure it took a huge amount of time, too. Just imagine how fun it would be to make a Lego castle that tall! And what if a Lego-loving friend came to help? Then you could make the building taller in half the amount of effort, right (and also have more fun in the process)? In a way, you can be a builder of people, too. Sure, God’s already made each person inside and out, but He has given you a responsibility to help build others up in a different kind of way--by encouraging them. The dictionary says that the word encourage means “to inspire with hope, courage, or confidence.” This means that each time you use your words to stir up the good in another person, you encourage them. Not only can you encourage with words, but with your actions, too. For example, it probably “inspires your mom with hope” when you clean your room…just ask her! You can encourage a friend by giving them a smile or writing them a note. You can also lift the spirits of someone who is feeling left out by inviting them to play with you. OKay—now go back to the imagination bubble at the top: What if the friend that came over to help build your Lego castle tore it down instead? When you say words like, “I don’t like you,” or “You’re not my friend anymore,” or “You’re not good at dodge ball,” you’re tearing them down, just like a buddy who makes your precious lego tower come crashing down, down, down. In doing so, you have done the exact opposite of what the Lord has asked you to do. Ask God today to help you be a people builder. In doing so, your relationships will stand tall and strong, just the way He planned it! Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. How have others encouraged you with their words or actions? How can you do the same for them? 2. Read and discuss this Scripture from Hebrews 10:24: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” 3. Confess to God any of your actions or words that have hurt others. Ask Him to help you make a fresh start. From legos to sports, what will it be? Tune it to channel “F” for friends vs. family!

F orget Fouling Your Family…
Mark 3:25 “If a family is divided, it can’t stand.”

“Timeout!” the coach is yelling at the top of his lungs from the sideline. As he huddles up his team, he asks this question: “What are you doing? You’re fouling your own teammates!” WHAT? Why would a player foul his or her own teammate? They will never win the game that way! It may seem hard to believe, but this example is very much the same as talking badly about your family to your friends. God wants family members to be loyal to one another and to honor one another so that they can stand strong for Him. Here’s an example: You’re in a conversation with a friend at recess and you say, “My brother’s a pain! He’s spoiled and mean!” Then you go on to tell the ways that he drives you crazy. OR these: “My mom is always yelling at me!” or “My dad got a speeding ticket.” The words you speak about your family to your friends matter to God. It may seem small and silly, but once again, your words tell your friends a lot about yourself. Consider changing the way you talk about your family to your friends. Telling them to pray for you because you’re having a difficult time obeying your parents or honoring your sister or brother is totally different than calling them names or sharing their secrets. And to be a good friend to others, try encouraging them to get along with their families when they’re having a difficult time. You might say, “I’ll pray for you to honor your mom,” or “it’s nice to have a big brother—I’ll pray you two can get along better.” Also, when your friends put down someone in your family, be prepared to defend them in a loving way. Tell your friends about the good qualities in your mom or dad, sister or brother. Even when they’re annoying you! Friends encouraging friends not to foul their own families is a big way to give glory to God in our friendships. In doing so, we help God build an even larger family—the family of Christians all over the world. Isn’t it cool to be a part of a winning team? Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. Read Exodus 20:12. Why do you think this commandment is so important? 2. What does the verse above mean: “If a family is divided, it can’t stand”? 3. Other than words, what are some other ways we can dishonor our family in front of our friends? Can our actions speak just as loudly as our words? 4. Galatians 5:14 says, “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Who is your first neighbor? This game is over, but what comes next?Letter “G” gives away something…have a guess?

G ive Gleefully
2 Corinthians 9:7 “You should each give what you have decided in your heart to give. You shouldn’t give if you don’t want to or because you are forced to. God loves a cheerful giver.” A mother wanted to teach her daughter a moral lesson. She gave the little girl a quarter and a dollar for church. "Put whichever one you want in the collection plate and keep the other for yourself," she told the girl. When they were coming out of church, the mother asked her daughter which amount she had given. "Well," said the little girl, "I was going to give the dollar, but just before the collection the man in the pulpit said that we should all be cheerful givers. I knew I'd be a lot more cheerful if I gave the quarter, so I did." (Bits & Pieces, February 4, 1993, p. 23.)

What do you think about the above story? Do you think the girl was generous? According to 2 Corinthians 9:7, she gave the way the Bible told her to… cheerfully! This verse isn’t just talking about giving money at church, though. It’s teaching you how to give to others, too. When it comes to friends, how do we know what to give, when to give and how much to give in our friendships? While there is no perfect answer to these questions all the time, one thing’s for sure: God will lead us as we ask Him for help. SO, the letter “A,” #1 thing to do is pray and ask the Lord how He wants you to give and share what you have…your money, your friends, your toys and your time. 2 Corinthians 9:7 teaches us that God wants us to share cheerfully and for the right reasons. Sometimes it is tempting to give gifts or even your own things away because you want someone to like you or because you feel guilty if you don’t. However, do you see that the first part of verse 7 says “…give what you have decided in your heart to give”? Get it? It’s a decision! When we give or share without thinking or asking God, it’s difficult to know if you’re doing the right thing or not. If that is the case, you can’t really be cheerful about it, can you? SO—the bottom line is this: Ask God to lead you and your parents to teach you more about godly giving. Sometimes, it’s even tricky for moms and dads, so they’ll probably learn with you as you pray about it together along the way! As you grow to give God’s way: prayerfully, cheerfully, and with the right motive, your friendships will honor God, the greatest and best gift-giver of all time! And who knows, with the Lord as your guide, if you have to make the choice of the little girl in the story, maybe you’ll even feel cheerful about giving the dollar instead of the quarter.  Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. Other than toys and money, what kinds of things can be given away or shared? 2. Pray with your parents and ask them to help you give like the verse teaches you. “G” is a giver, so he’ll give you a clue: “H” is all heart when the color is blue.

H ave a Heart for the Hurting
Colossians 3:12 “You are God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved. So put on tender mercy and kindness as if they were your clothes. Don’t be proud. Be gentle and patient.”

Here’s an idea for you: When you get up tomorrow morning, pick out an outfit to wear for the entire week. You can’t change even once. Just imagine how much time that would save! Actually, it might be fun for awhile, but it wouldn’t be long before the clothes and YOU started to stink, would it? Others would come near you and turn the other direction after noticing the smell, the stains and the wrinkles! Not so fun anymore…. The same is true with compassion toward others. The Bible says that you are to put it on as if it were your clothes. Just as you get up every morning, put on what you’re going to wear, add accessories like socks, shoes or jewelry, so you are also to take the time to dress your spiritual life. Once again, it all goes back to Letter “A”—asking God to help you have a heart that is tender toward others. After praying, it’s time for the finishing touch, God’s Word, which teaches you how to live out this instruction. In Luke, chapter 10, Jesus told a story of a man who was on the road to Jericho when he was robbed and beaten by some thieves. AS he lay on the road almost dead, 2 people passed by him without even helping him. A 3rd man passed by, and feeling compassion for him, put bandages on him and found a place for the man to stay until he got well. Jesus told this story so that Christians would learn how important it is to Him that we care for those who are hurting or lonely or sad. What do you do when you see someone who’s feeling blue? It’s easy to get so busy playing, or studying or even doing stuff at church, that you pass right by them. It can also be difficult to show care to our family members and friends when they need it most, but God will help you do it as you pray to Him, spend time in the Bible and learn to put on tender mercy and kindness the same way you put on your clothes. When other kids see the way you show care for those who are weak, sad or lonely, they won’t want to turn around and walk the other direction—they’ll want to be your friend and know your secret. So put your spiritual clothes on and show God’s heart for the hurting today! Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. Why do you think being compassionate to others is so important to God? 2. Do you ever feel jealous when others are hurt and getting attention for it? Why? 3. Do you ever get so busy playing with your friends that you forget to look for others who might need some attention? If you like parties, “I” will be fun! Get ready to make the invitation!

I nvite Jesus to play
Isaiah 41:10b “…I will make you strong and help you. My powerful right hand will take good care of you. I always do what is right.”

When you invite your friends to play, what do you expect from them? A group of kids was asked that same question, and here were some of their responses: “I want them to treat me nice and listen to me when I talk.” “I want my friends to take care of my things and not break them.” “I don’t want them to get me into trouble.” “I don’t like it when my friend comes over and is mean to my brother.” “I want friends who will be happy for me when I make a good grade and sad for me when I’m having a bad day.” “I’d like to have a friend who wouldn’t make fun of me when I tell them a secret.” “Well, I want a friend who just enjoys themself and isn’t jealous of my things.” “I don’t have friends anymore. Every time I have one, I think they’re my friend, and then the next day, they are mean to me. I don’t get that.” “All I’ve ever really wanted was a friend who would be loyal to me when we’re playing with other kids.” Wow! Do you have any friends that fit all of these descriptions? If you really gave it some thought and were honest, you would probably have to say “no.” Does that mean you give up on friendship altogether? Of course not! The truth is that no human being was meant to meet all of your needs. No friend on earth can treat you perfectly all the time, because they’re going to make mistakes. The absolutely, totally, cool and awesome thing, though, is that Your BEST friend in the whole wide world—JESUS, the best~est friend EVER—will never let you down. HE will always do what is right. He will always be there, and He will always take care of you…100 % of the time, guaranteed, you can count on it! So whether you’re at home alone or with your friends at school or church, invite Jesus to play…ask Him to make you strong and to help you be the kind of friend you should be to others. Jesus is your fun, faithful and forgiving friend, forever and ever. Amen. Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. Read John 15:12. Based on this Scripture, who has greater love than anyone? 2. How have friends let you down in the past? Have you asked Jesus to meet those needs instead of your friends? 3. Are you the kind of friend to others that Jesus has been to you? Js place is jazzy, with a judge and a jury. So let’s hope next lesson comes in a hurry!

J udge? NOT!
Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge others. Then you will not be judged. You will be judged in the same way you judge others. You will be measured in the same way you measure others.”

Imagine a courtroom with a huge audience. There’s a person on trial--that someone, that wrongdoer, that fill in the blank person who needs to learn his lesson. Then comes your shining moment: You walk in through a doorway behind the judge’s chair with a beautiful black robe on….you hear an official proclaim with a loud, deep voice, “All, rise! The honorable _______(put your name here) _____ is now presiding…wait! You’re the judge. How cool is that! Now’s the time to take the person on trial and bring out all his faults and sins to the crowd that watches eagerly with curiosity. That’s it! That’s the end! “Guilty as charged,” you say. This person has learned his lesson! Just as you’re ready to exit with your head up high, the court officer walks up to you and asks for your robe. You say, “Don’t be ridiculous…it’s my robe. I’m the judge.” The court officer says, “Your time is up. It’s now your turn to be judged.” Your face turns red and a chill goes through your spine as you hand over your robe and take the oath to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you, God.” Why does the Bible tell you not to judge others? Because judges lead to juries, that’s why. It may feel right to decide what another person is doing or not doing that they should or shouldn’t be, but it’s not. The Bible warns us that as much as we do this, it will be returned to us. God is the One who sits on the Throne as Judge, and He is the only One who has been given the permission to do so. James 4:12 says, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge…but you, who are you to judge your neighbor?” Well, that’s a pretty clear verdict, isn’t it? Bear in mind that while you shouldn’t judge another person and say that they are “bad” or “sinful,” it doesn’t mean that you can’t look at their actions and decide in your own mind whether what they are doing is what YOU should be doing or not. Those are the things you pray about and take to your parents for discussion with them. Letting God be the judge of others frees you up to be a joy to others—take off your robe today! Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. What does it mean to “judge” someone? 2. What is the difference between judging someone and deciding right from wrong? 3. Where do we go for answers about holy living? Can we still tell others what the Bible says without judging them? What’s next on the list? “What list?” you ask! The one that’s at “K”s place, in order, by task.

K eep your list in order!
Matthew 6:33a “But put God’s kingdom first. Do what HE wants you to do…”

*** J E S U S *** Family Homework/Chores Friends Sports/Hobbies

When was the last time you made a list? People make lists for all kinds of things, such as grocery lists, things to do, places to see, items to pack, thank you notes to write, and on and on…Have you ever thought about God’s list for your life? He tells you in Matthew 6:33 to “Seek first HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness,” and that everything else will fall in line as a result. How can you have your list in order if you don’t ask Him to help you do so? It’s so easy to make our connection with our friends take first place, and that is not God’s design for you….He wants you to put your relationship with Him first. Not only that, He wants us to remember to keep our family and the jobs He has given us to do in the right order as well. While the priorities on your list will change from time to time, Jesus should ALWAYS be item #1 in bold and underlined with stars all around it! Jesus was the perfect example of someone who put God first….He loved his friends, but He never let them take a higher place in His life than obeying God, loving His Father, or doing His work. Take notice of this every time you hear a story about Jesus and the disciples. Wanna have great friendships and perfect peace at the same time? Then keep the order of things straight by making Jesus Christ your very best friend, your very first concern….the One at the top of your every list! Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. Consider your schedule lately….have you made time for Jesus? 2. Consider your thoughts lately…have you had Jesus on your mind? 3. Talk to your parent/s about how you can improve in this area. 4. Pray and ask God to help you keep Him first in all you do. What do you do when you’re feeling low? “L” will show you what you need to know….

L et Each Other Know When You Feel So-So…
Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s heavy loads. If you do, you will give the law of Christ its full meaning.”

If your mom was struggling to get the laundry basket down the stairs, would you help her? Of course you would! If you saw the baseball coach trying to get 2 heavy equipment bags into the back of his truck, I’ll bet you’d lift a hand there, too. Now, on the other side of these questions, what would you do if YOU were the one carrying the laundry or the equipment bag? Would you ask someone else to come alongside you and make the load lighter? Galatians 6:2 teaches that the Lord wants us to help each other carry our heavy loads--not just the physical ones, but the emotional and spiritual ones as well. That means when you’re having a sad day, your friends can help cheer you up. And when you’re having a difficult time obeying God or your parents or your teachers, a true friend will pray for you and encourage you to do the right thing in those situations, too. Why? Because if we share our burdens with each other and help one another with them, we are giving the law of Christ its full meaning—which means we are carrying each other’s burdens the same way Jesus carried our sins to the cross. That is the truest love of all to share as Christian friends. It’s ok to tell your friends and family when you are feeling sad or if you need prayer for a sin or a difficult situation. And likewise, when you see a friend or family having a rainy day, share your umbrella until the rain, rain goes away. That means pray for them, encourage them, read them a verse out of the Bible that might help them. So, let each other know when you feel so-so……and in the process, your Christian life AND your friendships will grow!
C.S. LEWIS: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘WHAT! You, too? Thought I was the only one.’”

Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. What are some ways others have helped you carry your heavy loads in the past? 2. When is the right time to share your problems and when is the wrong time? 3. Who should I go to first with my burdens? (Read 1 Peter 5:7 & Psalm 55:22) 4. What do I do when a friend shares something with me that confuses me or causes me to worry? Hold your horses, can you solve M’s puzzle? What do you get when you cross a mouth with a muzzle?

M uzzle Your Mouth Muscle!
v. muzzle*
Definition: gag, quiet Antonyms: free, let go, liberate

(say that 3 times fast!)

Proverbs 10:19 “Those who talk a lot are likely to sin. But those who control their tongues are wise.”

Since ancient times, many animals have been restrained in order to help or protect humans. One interesting example is that of the ferret: They were kept and trained as pets to chase away rabbits and mice that were spreading diseases, but they would have to be muzzled and leashed so that they wouldn’t eat the animals underground. Today, these same methods are used in animals for training, for restraining and for protection. They can be a cruel thing if they are used in a harmful way, but if they are used correctly, animals can be better behaved and healthier as a result.
Muzzles are used on horses sometimes to keep them from grazing too much in the fields. An overweight, lazy horse does not make for a happy, healthy horse.* Large, protective dogs can be muzzled to keep them from hurting other animals or humans. Muzzles can be used on other dogs to train them from barking, biting or chewing too much. Also, veterinarians will use them when they are treating animals so they won’t bite while in pain or distress. *

Even though no person would actually put a muzzle over his or her own mouth, the Bible tells us that we need to control our tongues. The words you say can be used for good or for bad. They can help others or they can hurt others. While God gave you a mouth so that you could speak freely, He also intended you to use His Word as a leash to know how far you can go with your words or actions before He would like you to stop. The Scripture at the top teaches that the more you talk, the more your chances go up for hurting someone, causing an argument or telling lies. If you truly want to use your tongue for praise instead of pestering, try praying….ask the Lord to help you put an imaginary muzzle on your mouth when need be, so that you and your friends can be healthy, happy and wise, using your words for the glory of God. Muzzle UP!  Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. Read James 1:19-20. What is one way to help you muzzle your mouth? 2. Why do you think that the more you speak, the more likely you are to sin?
• • *Sources for info and images: www.answers.com/topic/muzzle www.nationalpetpharmacy.com, www.labrador-dog-breed-store.com • www.ehow.com/about_4739898_dog-muzzles

Don’t nod off yet, “N”s turn is next. He thinks his lesson is good, better and best.

N od Your Head When Good Is Said!
Philippians 4:8 “...always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things.”

Have you ever heard of a food critic? He or she has the job of going to restaurants in order to rate the quality of the food, the décor, the wait staff and the prices. This person will have the opportunity to taste some really great food and some not-so-good food. He will come across friendly waitresses and some who are not so cheery. If the total experience is excellent, a critic might give a restaurant anywhere from 3 to 5 stars, depending on the price of the menu. Sounds like a fun job, doesn’t it? What if you were a thought critic? Not of others, but of yourself. Every time a thought crosses your mind, you are able to “rate” it before it comes out of your mouth. Wouldn’t that be cool? It sure would make way for a lot of five-star conversations, wouldn’t it? Try it for a day and see if you can do it. It’s harder than you think. Look at this verse from Luke 6:45:
"A good man says good things. These come from the good that is put away in his heart. An evil man says evil things. These come from the evil that is put away in his heart. Their mouths say everything that is in their hearts.”

If you’re going to change what YOU think and speak, then you might need to change what you listen to, watch or read. Try an experiment this week: Every time you hear someone in person or on TV say something nice or good, nod your head up and down, or better yet, shout “YES! I like the way you think!” If you can, write down at the end of each day what some of those things were. It might be that someone gave you a compliment or a friend quoted a Bible verse or said a prayer. It also could be when a cartoon character speaks kindly to his friend or parent or sister. Begin to notice and appreciate a clean joke or someone who encourages another…in other words, the good stuff in life. Before you know it, it will be a part of your thoughts every day, then flowing from your mouth to others’ ears. If friends will nod their heads at each other when good is said, their friendships will honor the Lord Jesus Christ, the One whose Words are always lovely, excellent, pure and worthy of praise! Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. Are your thoughts “worthy of praise”? Do you spend time reading God’s Word? 2. Do the things you watch and listen to fill your mind with good ? Does it matter? “O” has something to overlook. So be quick to add it to your book!

O

verlook An Offense

Proverbs 12:16 “Foolish people are easily upset. But wise people pay no attention to hurtful words.”

Offense: n. a lack of politeness; wounding the feelings of another.

Wouldn’t it be cool if you had a “Rudeness Remote”? You could use this magic controller anytime you hear or see someone being mean or impolite! By simply pushing a button, a smile would appear instead of the insult. Or you could choose another button that would give a high-pitched “BEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-P” until the rudeness went away. When you’re on the soccer field and see a kid trying to trip another one, you just press “Freeze,” and the situation is stopped dead in its tracks. The opportunities would be endless and could successfully rid the world of all rude behavior forEVER!!!! Unfortunately, this type of device does not exist. Big Bummer! BUT, as God’s Kid, you have something to which no remote control could ever compare—the LORD. Psalm 37:40 says, “The Lord helps them and saves them. He saves them from sinful people because they go to him for safety.” When others are not nice, it can be hurtful, and when that is the case, the verse at the top says you have two choices: you can be upset, or you can pay no attention to them. Since Jesus is your best friend, He will help you make the right choice, and He is always there to keep you safe when you feel afraid or hurt. NOW, what if the one offending you claims to be your friend? Go to Matthew 18 for the whole story, but the jist of it lies in these two verses: vs. 15 “If your brother (Christian friend) sins against you, go to him. Tell him what he did wrong.” And in vs. 21: “Peter came to Jesus. He
asked, ‘Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but 77 times.’” Your parents can help you sort it all out,

but while we are to forgive our friends and overlook their mistakes, we are also to talk to them if it becomes a habit on their part to mistreat us. Isn’t it awesome that the Lord gives us advice to live by in our relationships?!? To overlook an offense pleases the Lord and shows that you are growing in wisdom. To ask for His help in forgiving your friends shows that you are growing in your faith! And there’s no remote control in the world cool enough to do that!!!! Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. Are you easily upset by others’ words or actions? Pray about this. 2. Do you have any friends who often put you down or call you names? Have you ever told them that it hurts your feelings? Are you ever the one “offending”? Is ‘P’ mostly silent or really, really loud? Does he work by himself or in the midst of a crowd?

P ray FOR and WITH Your Friends
Ephesians 6:18 “At all times, pray by the power of the Spirit. Pray all kinds of prayers. Be watchful, so that you can pray. Always keep on praying for all of God’s people.”

Why do you think God asks you to pray? The subject of prayer is mentioned over 375 times in the Bible, so it must be very important. He created you, He knows your thoughts already. So why pray? Take a look at this Jeremiah 33:3: “Call out to me. I will answer you. I will tell you great things you do not know.” One reason to pray is that God wants to teach us. Can you imagine sitting in a classroom to learn and not being able to ask any questions? Well, God wants you to ask Him for wisdom and for answers about all the things that make you wonder. Another reason to pray is to have a relationship with Him. It is impossible to have relationships with people unless you talk to them, is it? The same is true with Christ. He has already talked to you through His Word. He’s told you how much He loves you, He’s told you stories so you can know Him better. Now He has given you the opportunity to talk with Him through the gift of prayer. Did you know that Jesus even prayed for YOU in the Bible? In John 17, Jesus prayed for His disciples and for all who would believe in the future, and He prayed this RIGHT BEFORE He was going to be dragged away to the cross! Isn’t it really special to know that He loved you enough to pray for you instead of just praying for Himself? That sets an example for you today. The verse at the top says, “always keep on praying for all of God’s people.” He wants you to do what He did in John 17. Notice how the verse at the top says, “At ALL times, pray...” This is the awesome part! If you’re going to talk to God at all times, then that means you can do so silently in your room and out loud in a group….you can pray by yourself, and you can pray with your friends…You are free to pray all kinds of prayers, as long as you talk to Him with respect. If you want to have friends and be a friend the way God wants you to, then start praying right now...Friends who pray together stay together!!!! Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. What do you think the verse at the top means when it says, “Be watchful, so you can pray”? Do you think God wants us to look around and pray for the hurting? 2. Do you pray for your friends? Do you pray that God will show you how to treat your friends? Have you ever prayed WITH your friends other than at a meal? You’ll hear the phrase “Never ever QUIT!” But ‘Q’ tells you to quit something lickety-split!

Q

uit The Cliques!

Romans 15:7 “Christ has accepted you. So accept one another in order to bring praise to God.”

“Red Rover, Red Rover, send Katie right over!” Katie unclasps her hand from her group of teammates, takes a deep breath and runs headfirst and strong across the playground to try to break the grasp of someone’s tight grip on the other team. If she does it, she gets to bring a new friend back to her team. If she can’t, she’s forced to be a part of their team…. Sometimes, trying to make new friends can look a little bit like this game. You may have a perfectly great group of people to “hang” with at school, at church and in your neighborhood. But somehow, without even realizing it, these little groups of clasped handed “teams” can form and begin to compete against one another. THEN, a new kid on the block shows up and tries to figure out how to break through to one, then the other…ok, whichever group will let him or her hold hands first. It’s perfectly alright to have close friends….Jesus did with His disciples. BUT…it’s not okay to make someone feel left out of your “clique” because they’re different, or just because you’re comfortable doing what you’ve always done. When it comes to groups of play in public, as Christians, we are to be welcoming and accepting. This brings praise to God. Colossians 4:5 says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders. Make the most of every opportunity.” That is pretty clear. The game of “Red Rover” is over now. Which team won? Were there actually separate teams to begin with? All that is seen now is one long row of kids holding hands and cheering! No one is across the playground opposing them. They are one united and strong team that can’t remember enjoying anything more than standing together. That’s the picture of a strong church made up of believers who all praise God as one. So quit the cliques lickety-split! Enjoy your closest friends when you can, but not when it will leave others out. Be wise and make the most of the opportunities God gives you for accepting another person. You never know, you might just make a new friend! Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. Read James 2. Why should you “treat everyone the same’? 2. What if you “accept” someone who begins to treat you badly or get you into trouble? How are you supposed to treat people who aren’t nice? 3. Why do you think it is difficult to make a new friend? Have you ever felt left out of a group? Have you ever left someone out of your group? “R” can’t resist having fun, but sometimes he has to do it on the run!!!!

R

ESIST and RUN from evil fun!

Exodus 23:2a “Do not follow the crowd when they do what is wrong.”

Remember the last time you had a mosquito or chigger bite? Maybe poison ivy or the chicken pox? Didn’t you want to itch it SOOOO badly? Your parent would say, “Don’t scratch it, you’ll make it bleed, and it’ll leave a scar.” You’re able to hold off for a bit, but all of a sudden, it just happens. You can’t stand it anymore, and you just scratch. And itch. And scratch. And ITCH! “Ohhhh, that feels so goooooood,” you declare. All of a sudden, you break a bump or two open, and YUCK! While your mom’s cleaning up the mess for you, you ask, “Is it going to leave a scar?” She says, “I don’t know, sweetie, we’ll just have to wait and see…” That’s how it is with sin, dear one. It may seem fun at the time and even feel good to do, but sooner or later, you will feel the results of the choices you’ve made. Even if every other kid you know is doing something wrong that seems fun, the Bible is giving you the advice to run from it. 2 Timothy 2:22 puts it this way: “Run away from the evil things that young people long for. Try hard to do what is right.” Imagine yourself in the middle of a situation where your friend or peers want to do something fun that is wrong. Maybe it’s a movie you’re not allowed to watch. Or maybe they begin to make fun of another child or tell jokes that have bad word choices in them. Now FREEZE! What if you could hop on an air balloon that would take you above the crowd and show you all the different choices you could make other than that one? Oh, look, over there are some kids playing basketball. Over there is a fun game of checkers. And how neat is that…that group is acting out a play. You figure out which one looks like the best choice for you, and you land there in your air balloon. Pray each day that the Lord will help you with the temptations you face. You see, even if you are the only one making the right choice, the Lord will always give you a way out when you’re tempted. 1 Corinthians 10:13b says, “God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted any more than you can take. But when you are tempted, God will give you a way out so that you can stand up under it.” When you resist and run from evil fun with God’s help along the way, hopefully, your friends will follow….if not, maybe you’ll make some new friends God puts on your running path. Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. Can you think of a time when you followed a friend into sin? Did anything happen as a result? Are you ever the one leading others to do the wrong thing? 2. Do you think you could recognize right or wrong if it were right in front of you? Discuss good and poor choices with your parent. Ask the Lord to teach you, too. While “R” is running, his shoe gets stuck. Will “S” help out, or is “R” out of luck?

S tick With Them Through Thick And Thin!
Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times. He or She is there to help when trouble comes.”

You’re up at the crack of dawn. You’ve made your bed and bounced your quarter on it. You’re camouflage is wrinkle-free and buttoned up. You’re ready for inspection. The sergeant comes in and passes you with flying khaki colors. You’re one of the best soldiers in the army. A loud alarm goes off and you grab your gear and weapon in a hustle like every other soldier is doing. This isn’t training—it’s the real thing. As you go into battle, you look around at your fellow soldiers and wonder if each of them is prepared to give his or her life. While confidence in them begins to set in, fear and courage are having a battle of its own inside your mind. What a thought, eh? While it’s difficult to imagine this situation, the truth is that we as Christians are in a battle of our own. It’s the conflict between good and evil each day. And every good soldier knows that it’s much easier to do battle if you have a faithful soldier by your side. That’s what friendship is about. The tricky part is that true friendship takes training. That means working through your differences, finding the good in the other person, and being willing to make changes in yourself in order to keep the peace. It’s worth the hard work, not just because you can be there to help each other when problems come, but also because it makes life a lot more fun to live! Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two people are better than one. They can help each other in everything they do.” This is true with friends, and this is true with family members. All of this training is called “building your friendship muscle,” and Jesus is the strongest example of them all:

“No one has greater love than the One who gives His life for His friends.” (John 15:13)

SO—you’re up at the crack of dawn. You’ve made your bed and kneeled beside it. You’ve just thanked Jesus for being the Best Friend of all, and now you’re praying for strength, help and fun in this day to come. As you go into “battle,” you look around and wonder who will join forces with you. Oh look, there’s your family! And there are your good friends! With God’s help, you’ll stick with each other through thick and thin, ready to help when trouble comes, having fun along the way! Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. Think about your closest friends. How have they “stuck with you” in the past? How have you stood beside them? 2. Do you work hard to build your friendships, or do you expect it to be easy? 3. Ask your parent/s if they notice any qualities in you that need some extra training when it comes to building your friendship muscle. “T” is chanting a spirited cheer. You’ll appreciate her words, so get ready to hear!

T ake Time For A Thank-You Rhyme!
Philippians 1:3 “I thank my God every time I remember you.”

“2! 4! 6! 8! Who do we appreciate? Paul! Paul! Paul!” The Philippian crowd is roaring this thank you rhyme through the streets, carrying the apostle Paul high above their shoulders. After all, he brought them the Good News of the gospel. He even risked his life to be a missionary to them. Hold on a minute! Rewind! The Scripture in Philippians 1:3 was written by Paul himself. He was thanking God for them—the Philippian church. Isn’t it amazing that he would take the time to do that when he had so much to do himself? Obviously, it is important to take the time to thank God for your friends and your family. After all, God has blessed you with these people to make your life richer and more enjoyable, right? Your friends play with you, imagine with you, help you remember your homework assignments, encourage you when you’re blue, and on and on. After you take the time to thank God for the people you love, why not tell them how thankful you are for their friendship. If you take the time to notice, you will see the many nice things they do for you. And you can simply say, “Thank you for (blank).” Oddly enough, there’s another way to tell your friends you appreciate them—by showing them! When you play with his or her toys, you could help clean them up before you leave as a thankful gesture. You can be celebrate with them when they’re happy and feel sorry with them when they’re sad. When you receive a gift or a kind deed, you can write a note of gratitude. Even just a small hug or pat on the back can let a person know how much their friendship means to you. “2! 4! 6! 8! Who do YOU appreciate!?!” STOP!!!!!!! Take time from the rhyme to go thank a friend. You’ll be glad you did, and your friend will, too! Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. Why did Paul take the time to thank God for the Philippian people? Why do you think he was thankful for them? 2. What friends has God given you to thank Him for? How have they made your life better? Take 5 minutes to think about this and make a list. 3. Do you have any friends who help you be a better Christian? 4. What are some ways to SHOW thankfulness? “T” uses his mouth a lot, but “U” uses her ear. So listen up next time—IF you want to hear.

U nderstand With A Listening Ear!
Proverbs 18:2 “A foolish person doesn’t want to understand. He takes delight in saying only what he thinks.”

Do you remember going to the doctor for your yearly well-checkup—you know, the one where you get shots if you need them, get your vision and hearing checked and so on….? Well, think back to the hearing test: the nurse puts headphones on you and asks you to raise your hand or push a button every time you hear the beep. Sometimes you even get to repeat two-syllable words or move on to a room where they can test you more thoroughly with soft sounds and louder sounds. Whatever the case, you pay close attention so that you can hear and pass the test, right? When was the last time you had a hearing test with your friends and family-- Not by raising your hand when they speak, but by REALLY listening to them? I guess the question is, do you want to understand them, or do you care more about being understood yourself? Ouch! The verse above, as well as many other verses in the Bible encourage you to put others first, and that means in your conversations, too! Do you know how to become a better listener? One way is by looking the person in the eye when they are talking. Another way is by letting him finish his sentence before you chime in. Also, asking someone questions about what she just said will help you understand her better. Finally, take a moment to think before you respond to what your friend just said. You don’t always have to agree or disagree with his conversation, and you don’t always have to respond either. James 1:19 writes that “everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak.” As you do this, the Holy Spirit will lead you in your words. The letter “U” to Understand is one of the most difficult letters of all, but once again, if you go back to letter “A” and ask for the Lord’s help, He will help you--and no one understands you OR your friends better than He does.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. In all your ways remember Him. Then He will make your paths smooth and straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. Do you think you listen well to your friends and family? If so, can you write down 3 things each of them said in your last conversation with them? 2. Do you look people in the eye when they talk to you? Think of a person other than family that you talked to today….what color was his or her eyes? 3. How do you feel when you are talking and no one seems to be listening? Even if you’re still thinking on “U,” “V” will help you understand better, too!

V alue Others Very Often
James 2:8 “The royal law is found in Scripture. It says, ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’— (Leviticus 19:18) If you really keep that law, you are doing what is right.”

The curtain has just opened, and you are about to watch the third sequel of your favorite play: The Pirate of the South Pacific, III. The famous character from the first two stories comes out and begins to attack all the corrupt and evil enemies who have taken over a vast part of the Pacific Ocean. He’s a one-man show! All of a sudden, something happens in this play that didn’t happen in the first two, or in any other play you had seen in your life either. The popular pirate picks up a microphone and says, “The leading role in the Pirate of the South Pacific will now be played by my understudy, Pirate #2.” You and the rest of the audience gasp and then applause as Pirate #1 watches the new lead take the spotlight. Can you imagine such a thing? What do you do when the spotlight is on you? Maybe you’re someone who enjoys being the center of attention or maybe you’re not, but if you DO, listen to letter “V”’s voice. When we value other people the Jesus way, then we don’t try to play the main role all the time. This means that if you’re used to being the “lead” friend--the one who determines which game you and your friends play, the one who usually chooses which movie you watch, the one who tells everyone else how to do something or the one doing most of the talking in a conversation—if this describes you, then it’s time to consider living out the verse above. When Pirate #2 came out on the stage, do you think he played the role exactly the same way that Pirate #1 did? Of course not! The same will apply as you encourage your friends to make choices and decisions with the special personality that God has given them. Ask the Lord to help you love your friend as much as you love yourself. As you pray, He will help you obey, as well as bless your friendships along the way. You may even discover that being a one-man show wasn’t as much fun as you thought it was… So make a graceful exit from the spotlight today! Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. Are you often the center of attention in your friendships and with your peers, or are you more often in the background letting others take the lead? 2. How does it make you feel when you are in the spotlight? 3. How does it make you feel when others are in the spotlight? 4. What are some ways you show love to yourself? Write them down. Now how can you take those and apply them to loving others? When letter “V” is no longer a chore, letter “W” will challenge your character some more…

W ag your tail when they don’t fail!
Romans 12:15a “Be joyful with those who are joyful…”

It has been said that dogs wag their tails to make sure everyone around them knows how they feel. Aren’t you glad they do that? When you talk sweet to a dog, he’ll often wag his tail. Whenever you’re happy about something, often your dog is happy with you (if you have one). Think about this for a minute: Why do you think the popular saying is that “Dog is man’s best friend.” Is a man’s dog unhappy when his owner is happy? Is a dog happy when her owner is unhappy? Well, the same is true of friends. If you call yourself “friend” to someone else, you can learn a lot from man’s best friend, can’t you? It’s one thing to encourage your friends when they’re sad, but it’s sometimes more difficult to be happy when they win or do really great at something. Here’s an example: You and your friend are on the same soccer team. Your friend scores the winning goal. Are you happy for him—one of the first to congratulate him, or are you upset that you didn’t get the score? Another example: Your friend gets a brand new toy….the same one that you’ve been begging your parents for. Are you happy for her, or are you busy thinking that life’s not fair?!? If this is a problem area for you, know that Jesus understands your feelings. It’s difficult not to feel sad or jealous sometimes when your friends or family seem to be getting or doing the very thing you’d like yourself. Pray about this. Your 1st Best Friend is here to encourage you to do the right thing. God wouldn’t put this instruction in Scripture if He weren’t going to help you obey it. As silly as it sounds, His desire is for you to grow up in your Christian life learning to wag your tail when others don’t fail. As you begin to rejoice when others rejoice with the help of YOUR Best Friend, you’ll have joy down deep inside your heart—and that’s the greatest joy of all! Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. How do you feel when a friend does better at something than you do? 2. Do you ever feel sad when your friend is happy? If so, why? 3. Name a time when you were excited about something and your friends weren’t happy with you. How did that make you feel? When your tail stops wagging and you want to bite, letter “X” will help you do what is right!

E

X -amine yourself when conflicts come.

Matthew 5:23-24 “Suppose you are offering your gift at the altar. And you remember that your brother has something against you. Leave your gift in front of the altar. First go and make peace with your brother. Then come back and offer your gift.”

Imagine what it would be like to have X-ray vision. You could see through walls and doors and buildings. Can’t find your sock? Just turn on that vision. Need to know where your brother hid your favorite toy? Zzzzzoooooooom. Aha, under the bed! The eyes in the back of your mom’s head would have NOTHING on you, would they? Sometimes when friends get into an argument, they act like they have x-ray vision into the other person’s mind. “Well, he’s just jealous,” one friend says about the other. “I am not, YOU just like to get all the attention!” the other says back. When you get into a disagreement with a friend or family member, do you usually see it as his or her fault? What if God had x-ray vision? How would HE see these situations when they come? Well, guess what? He DOES! The Bible says, “Everything a man does might seem right to him. But the Lord knows what he is thinking.” (Proverbs 21:2) WHAT? Yes, and He knows not only what you think, but also why you think that way in the first place. The cool thing is that He loves you no matter what, and He wants to help you know yourself better, too. The next time you begin to get into a tempered situation with someone, whether over a game or a friend or computer time or whatever, try this. As soon as you are aware that you are arguing, stop talking. Walk away and pray if you can. If not, pray in your mind. Ask God to help you calm down and give you x-ray vision into your own heart. He’ll show what part, if any, that you have in the conflict. The good news is that, no matter what, He can still help you be a part of the solution. In Romans 12:18 it says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” This may mean you need to help make peace even if it isn’t your fault, OR it may mean that you need to forgive your friend for hurting you. However, if the Lord shows you in that prayerful moment that you have some apologizing to do, go and do it…don’t wait! The verse at the top shows you how important this is to the Lord. Give others x-ray vision into your heart by showing them Jesus is alive and making peace in you. When you do, it may just help the next conflict stop before it starts in the first place! Peace out! Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. When was the last conflict you had with a friend or a family member? Whose fault was it? NOW, ask for God’s x-ray vision to help you see whether you had any part in it…..does that change your perspective? Ask God to help you make it right. 2. When the next challenge comes up, how do you think Jesus would want you to deal with it? Name some ways to be a part of the solution instead of the problem. Lots of friends means lots of voices---“Y” will guide you regarding your choices…

Y

ea OR Nay—Which do I say ?

James 1:5a “If any of you need wisdom, ask God for it. He will give it to you…”

Remember singing those old nursery rhymes? Here’s a favorite, so sing along:
“Old MacDonald had some friends—E-I-E-I-O. And with these friends came many choices—E-I-E-I-O. With a ‘can you come over?’ here, and a ‘let’s go to a movie’ there, Here a voice, There a voice, everywhere a choice, choice. Old MacDonald gave up his friends—E-I-E-I-O.”

Ok, so the words have changed a little since you’ve gotten older, but so have your choices. And the older you get, the more you’ll have to make. These decisions are not always those between doing good and evil like Letter “R” instructed. Sometimes, they are between doing what’s good and what’s good. Huh? So here’s the deal. Having a good Christian friend is good, right? Having 2 good Christian friends is good, too, right? What about 3 or 4? The difficult part is that the more friends you have, the more questions are going to come your way. This is when your own relationship with your Best Friend comes shining through. Remember back in letter “K,” you learned about keeping your list in order? If you’re spending time with Jesus FIRST and every day, He can give you wisdom for your everyday decisions. What questions do you think are going to come up in friendships, if not now, then later? Start with these. *Do I go to the library with Jen or over to Lisa’s house? Or should I invite both of them over to play? *Do I play dodge ball with Preston and Ty, or do I play checkers with Jake? *Which table should I sit at? *I’ve only got one extra cookie—who do I give it to? *Dad says I can have one friend to take to Six Flags with us: Who do I choose? On and on the questions will go, dear ones, and if without God’s wisdom to guide you, you’ll be ready to give up on friendship altogether! On top of it all, God has given you what you need to help you: your parents. They have a whole lot to do with many of your choices anyway, but don’t forget their ability to help guide you in wisdom. They’ve lived a lot longer than you, and they’ve already had to make a great many of these choices themselves. Why not learn from their mistakes and successes? Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end, you will be wise.” With Jesus by your side and your parents to advise you, you will begin to know when to yea or nay or stop and pray…Any questions? Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. What kinds of choices come from your friends’ voices? What kinds of choices come from the “inside your head” voices? 2. Do you think Jesus ever had to make choices in His relationships? If so, can you find some in the Bible? No more questions. Time for an exclamation: Get ready to end with a “Z” sensation!

Z

oom on Back to the “A” Track!

Psalm 25:15 “My eyes always look to the Lord. He alone can set my feet free from the trap.”

Well, it’s finally here! Yup—sweet sixteen has arrived, and now you get your longawaited driver’s license. You passed all the driving tests with flying colors, and your parents think that you’re ready to drive. Before you take your first trip out to your friends’ house to celebrate the big day, your dad gives you one piece of advice: “Remember what you’ve learned, kid. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. And by all means, if you get into a situation where you don’t know what to do, call home immediately.” “Of course, no problem,” you shout out the window as you drive off and honk your horn. You’re not too far down the road of your shining moment, however, and your right front tire goes flat. What now? This is how it will be with friendship, young friends. You’ve grown up a ton and have had a lot of success zipping through this alphabet. By golly, you might even be ready for a license! It won’t be long, however, and something could come along and bring everything you know to a screeching halt! So what do you do then? When problems come up or questions arise, zOOm on back to the “A” track. Ask God what to do. Ask your parents what they think. Review your friendship alphabet often. Take your foot off the gas pedal and pull off to the side. Put your eyes on Jesus, who has so much more to teach You than any book can. Listen to what Hebrews 12:2a has to say: “Let us keep looking to Jesus. He is the author of faith. He also makes it perfect.” As you keep looking up, you’ll know what to do zooming forward. Just be sure to put your seatbelt on! Discuss the following questions with your parent/s: 1. What questions do you think could come up in friendship down the road that haven’t come up yet? 2. Just as you have to stop at a red light when you’re driving a car, do you think there will be red lights that come up with your friends? If so, what might they be and what do you do when you see them? 3. Can you think of a time when you were having problems with a friend or family member and you stopped to talk to God about it? Did it help you? Round and round our story goes, where it stops? God surely knows!