How can young people know they’re making the right decisions in their lives?
Kids between the ages of 10 and 15 often face significant confusions, challenges, and uncertainties in their life stages. Yet, numerous books and publications focus only on high school or college ages, while few speak to the pressing questions young teens or pre-teens face every day. The purpose of this book is to give junior high kids a yearlong study to find God’s specific answers to problems they face daily. Their issues may be like the topics facing high school and college kids, but they require a totally different perspective. What’s more, these younger kids are most likely facing issues for the first time and are left confused and frustrated.
This book will shed biblical light on issues such as:
- Navigating friendships
- Dealing with embarrassment
- Parent problems
- Dealing with bullying
- Peer pressure
- Dealing with violence
Reaching New Heights gives young teens an avenue to learn what God says and how to apply God’s answers to their lives.
Read an Excerpt
LOSING A FRIEND
Q: I have a best friend whom I've known for many years. We have been best friends, almost inseparable. But last month, she started to change. She started to hang out with other kids and dress way different than before. Then my "best friend" did the ultimate worst thing to me. We had shared many secrets about things such as our dreams, our future boyfriend types, and other girl stuff. She started telling these secrets to those other kids, laughing with them at me about what a baby I am. I was so angry, I cried for a week. I thought I could trust her with my intimate thoughts, but she is a backstabber. I don't know if I'll ever be able to trust a friend again.
What God Says: Psalm 55:22 "Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall."
A: It must have been devastating for you to have your best friend turn on you like that. What in the world was she thinking? You may think today that you'll never be able to trust your friend again, but there are ways to change that thought. One thing we must always remember is that God is our constant friend, and He promises that He will never leave us or fail us. Talk to God, and ask Him to give you strength and wisdom to find other friends who won't betray you. Sometimes, the lessons of life are extremely difficult, but it's nice to know that you have a father in heaven who will always be there in your time of need.
Questions to ponder:
Have you ever had a friend stab you in the back?
If so, how did you handle it?
If not, how would you handle it?
God will never leave you.
Q: I hate doing chores at home. To me, it's like I have better things to do than work around the house. It seems like none of my other friends have to do as many chores as I do. So when my dad gives me a list of chores to do, like clean my room or take out the trash or wash the car, I can't help but get a really bad attitude by rolling my eyes or saying something mean under my breath. My dad knows I'd rather be skating with my friends or riding my bike, but he constantly gives me these dumb chores. And it seems like the more attitude I give him, the more chores he makes me do. So I look like I enjoy doing these silly tasks, but in reality, I have a terrible attitude against him.
What God Says: Ephesians 6:6–7 Work hard but not just to please your master when they are watching. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
A: I don't think there are many kids anywhere who love to do chores. I'm sure there are many parents who don't like to work around the house, either. I'm sure your mom doesn't jump up and down with joy to wash your dirty socks and underwear. We need to work with enthusiasm at anything we do for whoever needs help. We need to keep in mind that we are serving God as well as people and that He will bless us if we perform our duties with a cheerful attitude. All things in life are good or bad based on what attitude we take. Do as God instructs, and be a happier person.
Questions to ponder:
What type of thing gives you attitude?
How do you manage it?
Work for God with a cheerful heart.
Q: I have a problem with my big mouth at home. Whenever I get in an argument with my mom or even my brother, I start getting real sassy and mouthy, and I can't seem to control it. Then, my mouth usually gets me in more trouble. I have really put an effort into controlling my temper, but when things don't go the way I want, I just can't control myself. Now, I'm starting to lose control of my mouth at school and with my friends. I really need to get my anger and my big mouth under control, but I don't know how. It seems like everyone hates me, and it's all my fault.
What God Says: Proverbs 13:3 Those who control the tongue will have a long life; a quick retort can ruin everything.
A: There is a great way to learn the basics of self-control: Never say the first thing that pops into your head. The normal response when we are angry is to say something insulting or mean or something we will probably regret. Pausing a few seconds and thinking prior to speaking will allow you to calm down a bit and breathe more relaxed. That will help you think with a clear, relaxed mind. God teaches us that a quick response (without thinking) will ruin everything. Another thing that helps is talking to God before reacting. It definitely helps reduce the adrenaline and keep you in control.
Questions to ponder:
What gets out of control in your life?
How do you put it back in control?
Let God control your temper.
DEALING WITH IMPATIENT KIDS
Q: My friend has a puppy that she loves dearly. She's had this puppy for about a year, and she totally takes care of it. This dog stays in the house most of the time, but the other day, the puppy saw a cat outside and darted out the open door. My friend thought the puppy would return right away, but she didn't. Since that time, she has been praying to God to bring her puppy back to her, but so far, the dog has not returned. She told me yesterday that she has no more patience with God and that her puppy is lost forever. I told her not to quit praying and that God was listening. She told me she has given up on God and that waiting for Him is a waste of time.
What God Says: Romans 8:25 "But if we look forward to something we don't yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently."
A: It sure seems that your friend's faith in God is low if she gives up and has no patience for Him that quickly. Patience is produced by having total faith in God and allowing Him to do the work in your life. God hears all prayers and listens to our needs. We need to tell impatient kids that God loves them and will answer their prayers in His perfect timing. That may mean your friend's puppy is lost forever, but something better may come along later — maybe something your friend doesn't expect. Always have patience and faith in your father in heaven.
Question to ponder:
What has happened in your life that made you lose patience with God?
God always has perfect timing.
Q: In my neighborhood, there is a group of kids who hang out together. About two weeks ago, I started hanging out with them. It seemed like all these kids ever did was either insult every kid who passed by, throw mud at cars, or start fights with kids from another block. They thought all that was funny. I didn't participate in any of these activities at first, but after a while, I noticed that my behavior was starting to change. Before, I was never a mean or insensitive kid. But lately, I've started to join in the verbal abuse and the mud throwing and even dressing like them. I'm now considered one of them, but I'm not sure that's what I want to be.
What God Says: 1 Thessalonians 1:7 As a result, you yourselves became an example to all the Christians in Greece.
A: It's like the old saying: "A bad tree will yield bad fruit." If something looks like a frog, jumps like a frog, and acts like a frog, then it's probably a frog. It is the same with that group of neighborhood kids. If the group talks like troublemakers, acts like troublemakers, and dresses like troublemakers, they probably are troublemakers. God wants us to be model kids in our neighborhoods, standing for everything good and right. If the kids you hang out with are not model kids, then God says to run the other way as fast as you can and not associate with evil. We have the perfect example to live by in the person of Jesus Christ.
Question to ponder:
How do you handle a bad influence in your life?
Give a specific example.
A good tree will yield good fruit.
DEALING WITH DISRESPECTFUL KIDS
Q: There is a kid in my class who is totally disrespectful to the teachers and the aides. When the teacher is trying to teach the class, he is always disruptive, talking to others, passing notes, or laughing out loud. When the teachers ask him to be quiet, he is extremely sassy, saying mean things, or he just ignores them. He has been disciplined many times, but it doesn't seem to change him. Even when some of the parents come to help in the classroom, he's very mean and disrespectful to them. He's arrogant and loud, and we're really getting tired of it.
What God Says: I Peter 5:5 You younger men, accept the authority of the elders. And all of you serve each other in humility. God sets Himself against the proud, but He shows favor to the humble.
A: When a kid acts loud and obnoxious, it is very difficult to try to teach him about humility. Being totally disrespectful to teachers, aides, and parents shows the pride this kid has in himself, setting himself up as a tough guy. God does not care about tough guys; as a matter of fact, He dishonors them. That is because God is about love, honor, and respect for others. The best way to handle this kid is to ignore his antics and continue to respect your elders with humility as God teaches. If this kid realizes he's not getting the attention he wants, he may stop his arrogant and disrespectful ways.
Questions to ponder:
Are you sometimes disrespectful to your elders?
What causes you to be disrespectful?
How can you change your disrespectful attitude?
Always respect your elders.
Q: I have a core of about four friends I mostly hang out with every day at school. We all have the same classes together, and we usually sit by each other. Now, I've always been a good student. I usually get straight As, but my friends have always struggled in school, and they usually get Cs or Ds on their tests. The other day, we had a midterm exam in history, and they told me that the only way they would pass was if I let them see my answers. Because they were my friends, I did it. Tomorrow, we have an important English test, and they are putting a lot of pressure on me to do it again. I don't like people to cheat, and I surely don't want to get caught, but I also don't want to lose my friends. What God Says: 1 Corinthians 15:33 "Don't be fooled by those who say such things, for 'bad company corrupts good character.'"
A: God tells us that our character and our integrity are extremely important, and we should not allow anyone to destroy them. If kids are leading you to evil, then they are not your true friends. If you allow them to cheat on this English test, then when will it ever end? The next test after that, they will want the same thing. It needs to stop now. Instead, you should offer to tutor them or study with them, so they can learn the material. If these kids will not be your friends or put a lot of pressure on you because you won't help them to cheat, then they were never your friends to begin with. They are only using you. You need to get different friends who share your godly values.
Question to ponder: How do you handle peer pressure in your life?
Give specific examples.
Don't let peer pressure destroy your good character.
JANUARY 8HELPING A SINNER GROW
Q: I have a friend at school who is a really nice person with a good heart. The problem is that she struggles mightily with sin. Now, I know we all sin, but she is either lying to her parents, cheating at school, stealing petty things at a store, or being mean to kids in her neighborhood all the time. She says she does most of these sinful acts for the right reasons. She lied to her parents to help a friend not get busted for drugs. She cheated at school by giving her friend answers on a test because her friend didn't have a chance to study. She stole candy at a store to give it to a boy who was hungry, and she was mean to other kids who were being mean to her sister. Her heart is in the right place, but her behavior is wrong. She knows what she is doing is wrong, but she doesn't know how to change.
What God Says: Colossians 2:14 He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross.
A: So, your friend has good intentions but bad execution. Her heart might be in the right place, but her behavior needs a little tweaking. To change sinful behavior, the person needs to turn to God and ask Him for forgiveness from the heart. Then, the person needs to pray for wisdom to continue to do the right thing but in the right way. God welcomes all sinners who actively seek Him with a sincere heart. Christ's death on the cross gave sinners like us a chance for new life if we ask for it.
Questions to ponder: Do you have a friend who constantly sins?
How do you help them change their ways?
Trust God to help you change from your sinful ways.
Q: I am a 12-year-old girl, and I want to dress any way I like. I enjoy wearing really tight jeans or spaghetti strap tops to school or the mall and watching all the guys just drool over me. It is fun when I wear a short dress or miniskirt and watch the boys try to get close to me. My parents give me a real tough time, telling me that I dress way too sexy or provocative and that I could get hurt in the long run. I love all the attention I get from boys, especially when they go out of their way to flirt with me. Since it is my body and I'm not hurting anyone, I don't understand why I can't dress the way I want without getting hassled by my parents. What God Says: 1 Timothy 2:9 "I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves."
A: The type of attention you describe is not good for the soul. In today's world, it is extremely dangerous to dress in revealing, sexy clothes because the consequences far exceed any advantage of extra attention. God is very straightforward that inward beauty that attracts attention is much more important than outward appearance from wearing inappropriate clothing. The type of attention you're getting is the kind you really don't want. Guys may take advantage of you, or you could get a reputation for being "easy." Be modest in your appearance, and allow your inward beauty to shine.
Questions to ponder: Do you agree that girls and guys should be modest in what they wear?
Why or why not?
Be modest, and people will respect you more.
JANUARY 10DEALING WITH VAIN KIDS
Q: Have you ever had a friend who could not go five minutes without looking at himself or herself in the mirror? That perfectly describes one of my friends at school. Her best friend is her mirror, and she goes nowhere without it. She is only 14 years old, and yet she is always checking her makeup and her hair to make sure she looks perfect. She's a good friend, but this obsession with her outer appearance is really getting on my nerves. You should see her bedroom. She has a mirror on every wall, so no matter where she looks, she can see herself. I wish she would concentrate her attention more on our friendship and less on herself. What God Says: Proverbs 31:30 "Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised."
A: You need to tell your friend that outward beauty reveals only what we look like, but inner beauty reveals who we are. Loving others and helping those in need should be your best friends, not the mirror. God could care less what you look like on the outside; it's what you have on the inside that counts. Your friendship and your friend's relationship with God are so much more important than her outer appearance. You need to tell her that she must build on something that will last throughout eternity, not on something that will eventually fade away.
Questions to ponder: What do you think of kids who are vain and snooty?
Do you know someone like that? Explain.
Inward beauty is more important than outward appearance.
Excerpted from "Reaching New Heights"
Copyright © 2018 Don Meinberg.
Excerpted by permission of Lucid Books Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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