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Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this. -Psalm 37:4-5
Learn the difference between helpful and hurtful dreaming.
Understand that God is a dreamer, dreamed up dreaming, and wants to give us our dreams.
Dream about how God might use them.
Dream of a land ...
Have students get into groups of three or four. Ask them to imagine an island where there are no influences from the outside world, unless they want them. As a group, they have to dream up the whole culture, including the following items (write these on a whiteboard, if possible)-
A name for this new country
A motto for the country's flag
The national sport
Five subjects taught in school
After all the groups are done, have them present their new countries and cultures to the whole group. Make sure you don't let kids tease or ridicule the work of another group-some will be nervous about sharing their answers. Then ask-
What's a dream?
Most young teens will initially think of the kind of dreams people have when sleeping. But they should also realize that a dream is something you hope for or long for.
Why do people dream, not the night-time kind of dream, but the hope-for kind?
Because they want something better or different. They want their lives to change.
Is this kind of dreaming good or bad?
Your kids will probably expect there to be a right Answer on this question, and might be cautious in answering. Really, dreaming can be good or bad, depending on the focus of the dream.
If someone dreams of having sex all the time, well, I think we can agree that's not good dreaming-it's called building, I think we can safely say that's not good dreaming either.
But a dream about Who you might become or what you might do in life-that's probably good. A dream about how God might use you? Definitely good!
God the dreamer
Pass out copies of God the Dreamer (page 15) and pens or pencils (or markers or crayons or eyeliner pencils or caulking guns) to each student. If you're using both God the Dreamer and Dream On! (page 16) in the next activity, it would be great if you could copy them back-to-back.
You make the call: if your kids are restless, you might want to just work through this sheet orally. And if your students just hate handouts and regularly shred them or turn them into an entire paper air force, all the questions on this sheet could be done orally or discussed in small groups. But if you think they can focus, have them work in pairs or trios to fill in answers on this sheet.
If you work through the questions out loud, you'll obviously debrief it as you go. But if you have the kids work on their own, make sure you pull them back together and debrief their answers. Ask for a few responses to the questions on the sheet. And ask-
What are some other cool things God dreamed up?
Get lots of answers.
What if God wasn't a dreamer? How might our world be different?
Just let your students get creative here. Hopefully, they'll come up with things like these: There might only be one kind of animal-we'd just call it animal ... We might not be female and male-just people, with some boring way of reproducing ... The earth might be brown and flat all over ...
What dreams do you think God still has for the world?
Don't just settle for quick churchy answers here-that People would know him. Yes, that's true; but Push kids farther. What are some of God's dreams that are not fulfilled? Justice for the poor ... A witness for him in every people group ... That we would love and respect the earth he made for us ...
Help kids think about the difference between helpful and hurtful dreaming. This is a bit different than just asking if a dream is good or bad. Life isn't always that clear-cut. But we can help kids think critically about whether their dreams are encouraging, bring them hope, and line up with God's desires, or whether they're selfish and destructive. Explain that the Bible cautions us to be careful what we spend our time thinking about. So there's some dreaming that God loves, and some that's hurtful to us, and not honoring to God
Read the five case studies in this section. After each one, discuss with your students whether the main character's dreaming was helpful or hurtful.
I'm Martin, and I have this dream of becoming an artist. I know it 's a long shot, and that not too many people can actually earn a living as a painter or an illustrator. And I might not get to do it. Or I might be a graphic designer or something like that, which would still be cool.I 'd really love to spend my life drawing and painting.
Is Martin's dream helpful or hurtful?
It's great. Whether he knows it or not, Martin's desire is to use the abilities God has given him.
My name's Bethany, and I have this dream. It's a little embarrassing, and I don't tell very many people. I'd like to be a really popular movie star. I'd love to have people know who I am, and have my picture show up all over the place.
Is Bethany's dream helpful or hurtful?
It's hurtful. Her dream is basically a selfish cry for attention. You might want to ask this follow-up question:
How can two people both dream of going into an acting career, and one dream be helpful and the other one hurtful?
The answer revolves around motive. To dream of acting because you love acting is a great thing. But to dream of acting so you'll be popular or rich is a destructive dream.
My name is Shenika, and I dream about having grandparents. All my grandparents died before I was born. And most of my friends have really cool grandparents. I feel like I got ripped off.
Is Shenika's dream helpful or hurtful?
If she spends her time moping and feeling sorry for herself, it could be hurtful. But if she's just dreaming out of the longing of her heart, this can be a great dream. Maybe God will provide someone who can be like a grandparent for her.
I'm Alfonso, I dream all the time about having tons of money. My family doesn't have much money, and so that makes it even worse. I dream of the cars I'd buy, the house I'd live in, the clothes I'd wear, and other stuff I'd own. Wow! That would just be so great.
Is Alfonso's dream helpful or hurtful?
Hurtful. Dreaming of having enough to not be poor is one thing, but focusing on money to have more and more material things can be very hurtful to the dreamer.
Hello, my name is Bassam. My family moved to the United States a couple years ago. It's been pretty tough for me. I'm doing fine in school and everything, but I can't seem to make any friends. So, I guess that's my dream: to have one or two friends.
Is Bassam's dream helpful or hurtful?
This is a good dream-God wants us to have friends.
Hopefully, after you've discussed these five case studies, your students will have a loose mental grasp of the difference between the kind of dreaming that God loves and the kind of dreaming that God doesn't like because it's hurtful to the dreamer. And if your students have more than a loose mental grasp of this idea, then, with awe and reverence, we give you the Young Teen Teacher of the Year Award! (Or you're just delusional!)
Pass out copies of Dream On! (page 16). Your students should already have pens or pencils, if you used them for the last exercise. Of course, if they're anything like the junior highers I work with, half of those pencils now have broken tips, and half of the pens have been dismantled (and two boys have large quantities of blue ink on their hands). Oh well.
Ask your students to work on their own for a few minutes. Circulate around the room to make sure your students understand what they're supposed to be doing. No matter how many times you clarify this, you'll probably still have a couple concrete thinkers who write down a nightmare they had last night as one of their dreams.
If your group has more than 10 students, ideally you'd be able to divide them into groups of about five-each with an adult leader-to have kids share their answers. This would offer a slightly safer atmosphere when they share these rather personal dreams. If you have to debrief in a large group format, make sure you're very careful to affirm answers and don't allow any teasing or snickering. Having your dreams mocked can do life-long damage-seriously!
Make sure you close your time in prayer, thanking God for honoring our dreams, and asking him for guidance to line up our dreams with his thinking.
Room decoration option
It's a great idea to create a large graphic symbol from each lesson for the wall of your room. The symbols represent the pictures of God that the group looks at each week. When you leave them as a collage on the wall over a period of weeks, they serve as a memory device and reminder of where you've been.
For this lesson, consider making a large graphic of a cartoon thought-bubble. It looks like a cloud-a scallop-edged oval-with two or three small ovals below it leading to the character who's speaking. They're used in cartoons to represent someone's thoughts.
God the Dreamer
Which of these things did God dream up?
a way to save you from hell!
Read Genesis 1. Make a list of the things God dreamed of, then made.
What difference does it make that God loves to dream-that he's a really good dreamer who dreams of amazing, outrageous things?
Psalm 37:4-5 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this."
Rewrite that in your own words.
God wants you to be a dreamer! It's a reflection of him that you can dream. What are three to five dreams that you have? (Remember, we're not talking about sleeping dreams-we're talking about the hopes of your heart!)
What's the most radical thing you can imagine God using you to do anytime during your life?
What's the most radical thing you can imagine God doing through you this year?
What's a radical thing you can imagine God doing through you this week?
Excerpted from Wild Truth Bible Lessons-Pictures of God 2 by Mark Oestreicher Copyright © 2001 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted December 17, 2010
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