devozine

Jan/Feb 2018

Deadline: 04/20/2017

Boiling Point

  • What do I get angry about? How do I express my anger—yell? slam doors? use the silent treatment? engage in risky behaviors or passive aggressive behavior? take it out on others? When has my behavior gotten me into trouble? How am I learning to express my anger in healthier ways?
  • What family member or friend pushes all the right buttons to get my temper boiling? How am I learning to deal with this person?
  • Do I have a problem controlling my temper? When have I struggled with anger management? When has my anger reached dangerous levels? Who or what helped me to get the help I needed? Whom did I hurt? How did I seek forgiveness and reconciliation?
  • Do I feel guilty about being angry? How am I learning to express my anger? to channel it into positive energy? to control my temper? to resolve conflict?
  • Is someone in my life consumed by anger? How is it affecting me? How am I coping? Do I seek to understand why he or she is angry or simply avoid being around when tempers flare? How can I encourage this person to get the help he or she needs? When have I been able to bring peace to an angry situation?
  • What situations make me feel most out of control? How have I learned to deal with those situations? What boundaries have I set to help prevent or slow the escalation of my emotions? Whom do I trust to let me know when I am out of control? When have I felt the presence of the Spirit helping me to get control of myself?
  • When have I felt “mad at the world”? How did I act or react to others? What was really going on inside me?
  • How have I discovered that anger is a reaction that I choose—that other people or things cannot make me angry? In what way is anger a secondary emotion? How am I learning to look beyond the anger—mine or someone else’s—to discover the root of the problem?
  • What situations in the world make me angry? Is it ever OK to be mad at the world? Do I think that there are situations or events that make God mad at the world? How do I think God handles these feelings?
  • Is anger ever justified? Do I believe there are times to feel “righteous anger?” How did Jesus deal with anger or strong emotion? What can I learn from him about controlling and dealing with my emotions?

Temptation

  • What is the biggest temptation I face as a teenager today? How do I deal with it?
  • When have I been tempted to do or to be something in order to feel accepted? to gain attention? to be “cool”? to prove that I’m not afraid?
  • What am I often tempted to do or to to be? When do I experience these temptations? Do they come at specific times or places? How am I learning to avoid the settings in which I am tempted?
  • What are the specific things that tempt me most often? How do I handle myself in the face of temptation? How do I rely on God in those times? When have I had to admit I can’t do it alone?
  • How do I feel when those around me are struggling with temptation? Am I pressured to join in those risky behaviors, or do I hold strong to my beliefs?
  • Who or what influences my attitudes, thoughts, and actions—for good or bad? How do I seek out positive influences in my life? What kind of influence do I have on others?
  • When have I been the tempter? How have I caused others to make bad decisions? How did I feel about myself afterward? What did I learn? How did I attempt to restore the relationship?
  • How do I cope with the temptation to drink, do drugs, or experiment with sex? How am I learning that I don’t need to do those things in order to be “cool” or to have a good time? Who or what gives me strength to risk saying no to temptation?
  • When have I been tempted to hurt myself physically—cutting, abusing drugs, purging? Where is God in these times? How have I sought and found help? What lessons have I learned that I can share with my peers?
  • When have I given in to temptation? What were the consequences? What did I learn?
  • When have I been able to withstand a huge temptation or to stand up to someone who was tempting me? Who or what gave me the courage to resist giving in? Where was God in the situation?
  • How do I recognize temptations? Why are temptations so powerful? Is someone who succumbs to temptation less faithful than others?
  • What can I learn from how Jesus handled temptations in his life? How did he resist temptation? How do these “techniques” translate into my life?
  • When have I felt that my destructive choices put distance between God and me? How did this affect my life? How am I working to rebuild my relationship with God?
  • When have I felt God’s presence with me during times of temptation? What difference did that make?

My Squad

  • When and how have I discovered the importance of friendship? What difference has this made in the way I choose my friends?
  • Who are my closest friends—my squad? What brought us together? How do we spend time together? How do they bring out the best in me?
  • What does it mean to have or to be a good friend? What does it take to make friendships strong and lasting? What things am I doing to improve and strengthen the close friendships I have?
  • Who has modeled for me what it means to BE a good friend? to cultivate close friendships? to balance the required give-and-take? What qualities are needed to have or to be a good friend? What kinds of friendships do I want to build now that will grow with me into the future?
  • What challenges have I had within my squad? What caused the conflict? Who or what helped us to resolve the tension?
  • What characteristics bug me most about my friends? How have I learned to accept them as they are and yet encourage them to be their best?
  • When has a friendship that I thought was solid fallen apart? How did this affect the relationships within in my squad? How am I learning to offer grace and forgiveness when needed? to take responsibility when I am at fault?
  • When and why do I need time to be alone with just my girl/guy friends or my very best friend? How are these times different from being with “the gang”?
  • When have my friends and I excluded other people? How are we learning to be more open and Christ-like in reaching out to others? What person in my life is God calling me to befriend? How might I welcome him or her into my squad?
  • Is it important to me that all my friends have the same values? faith? What are the difficulties of having friends who don’t all share the same beliefs? What are the advantages?
  • How is my squad different than my other friendships? What valuable lessons have I learned in this group about myself? others? God? acceptance? love? pain? forgiveness? relationships? faith? trust? having fun? commitment? When have we had deep discussions about things that feed my soul?
  • How do my close friends and I encourage one another in faith—text each other prayer requests? hold each other accountable? send each other scripture? ask tough questions? pray for each other? When have these practices caused tension in the group? How have they strengthened our relationships? When have these friends enabled me to experience God’s love and forgiveness “in the flesh”?
  • Would I describe my relationship as Jesus as a friendship? What difference has this friendship made in my life? What kind of person does he call me to be? what kind of life does he call me to live? How have my other friendships begun to change because Jesus is my friend?

Be Still

  • When have I felt God’s peace in the midst of a storm in my life? How have I tried to cultivate this sense of peace in my own life?
  • In what place—a church, my room, under a tree, at camp, on a mountain trail—am I able to be still and to feel the presence of God? How has this place become “holy ground” for me?
  • For me, is being still an “escape from” or an “opening to” something? What do I need to get away from or get away to? How can I incorporate times of stillness into the busyness of Christmas break?
  • When do I feel the need to get away from my busy schedule, relationships, worry, and stress? What do I do to slow down and be still for a while?
  • When have I tried to create space in my life just to be with God? What were the challenges? What habits help me make time with God part of my daily routine (such as asking God to join me for a walk or on the school bus)?
  • When have I taken time to pause and reflect on my day and on where God was present in it? How has this practice helped me to be more aware of God’s peace and presence in each day?
  • How have I realized that I need to take “mini-retreats,” carving out time each day or each week to be alone with myself and with God? What makes this difficult for me? How am I discovering new ways to be with God that restore my soul?
  • When have I gone to a solitary place to spend time alone with God? Did God show up? How can Jesus’ practice of “retreating” from the world to pray and be with God serve as an example to me?
  • Have I ever carved out times to be silent? How does silence make me feel? How do I respond when things get quiet? Am I comfortable with silence, or do I need to be surrounded constantly by noise?
  • What things in my life are chaotic? What would it mean to experience peace and tranquility in these situations? How can learning to be still help me to find peace even in places of chaos?
  • What have I discovered to be the value of stillness? silence? deep listening? How have I learned to practice being still so that it becomes a habit? What do I miss about my time to stop and be with God when, for whatever reason, I get out of the habit?
  • How has being still and listening for God become a spiritual discipline for me—an important practice that helps me to grow spiritually? Who or what encourages me to create time and space for these moments with God?

Courage

  • In what situations am I (or have I been) most courageous? least courageous? How am I learning that courage is not having no fear but going forward even when I am afraid?
  • What books or movies inspire me to be courageous? What song, quote, memory, or story reminds me to take chances and to be courageous?
  • How is real-life courage often different from what I see in the movies? Who are my heroes, the people I respect for being bold? What is it about their courage or confidence that I would like to cultivate in my own life?
  • What do I fear? Is fear holding me back from reaching my God-given potential? When did I have the chance to be courageous but let fear take over? What happened? What did I learn?
  • To whom do I turn when I am afraid? Who or what helps me to be courageous in spite of my fears? How can I help others to do the same? When have I prayed for courage? How did God respond?
  • When has my fear taken over my life? What have I been unable to say, do, or accomplish because of fear? When have I found the strength to face my fears? Who or what gave me courage? What did I learn about fear and the hold it can have on my life?
  • When facing challenges, how am I seeking to rise above them? Who or what has helped me to cultivate a courageous spirit? In what circumstances have I been able to display true courage?
  • When have I had to be brave for someone else? What happened? Where did I find the courage to take a stand for someone else, especially if it was risky or unpopular?
  • When have I been picked on or put down for being a Christian? Who or what gave me courage to stand up for what I believe?
  • When have I been courageous enough to be myself? When have I been bold enough to love myself and others as God does?
  • What things in our world and in our time challenge me to be bold in my faith? What does it take for me to muster the courage to face these challenges?
  • What does the Bible teach me about fear and courage? What passages of scripture calm my fears and give me peace? Why do the words “fear not” appear so often in scripture? What might this teach us about the strong nature of fear? our tendency to be afraid? the ability to overcome fear?
  • What Bible characters inspire me to be courageous? (Ex. Mary was unwed and pregnant. In her day, she could have been stoned to death. How does her courage to obey God inspire me?) How did the Jesus, the disciples, and others handle being afraid? What can I learn from them about being courageous?
  • When have I felt that God was calling me to be courageous? What inspired me to answer the call or caused me to resist the call? What modern-day persons have modeled for me a life of bold obedience to God?

Competition

  • Am I naturally a competitive person? If so, in what areas am I most competitive—grades? sports? games? artistic ability? looks? relationships? social media likes? Why?
  • How do I keep my competitive nature at a healthy level? When the drive to win gets out of hand, what keeps me in check?
  • Do I compete with my siblings or friends? Why? How does our rivalry affect our relationship?
  • When has a rivalry brought out the best in me or in the way I relate to others? What have I learned from a rival or competitor?
  • When has competition been good for me? How did it encourage me to do my best? When has competition been unhealthy for me? What happened? What did I learn from the experience?
  • In what ways am I pressured to make the grade, to make the team, to achieve more, to be more? Where does this pressure come from—my parents? my teachers? my coach? my church? my society? God? myself? Is the pressure tolerable or too stressful? How do I react when the pressure becomes too great?
  • When has competition reached a feverish pitch in my life? Who has helped me to use my gifts to the best of my ability rather comparing myself to or competing with others?
  • What role does faith play in my need to achieve? Does it comfort me to know that God loves me for who I am rather than how I compare to someone else?
  • When have I felt like a failure? What did I do? What lessons have I learned from losing?
  • In what ways is my identity tied to my achievements or my ranking in a competition? How am I learning that I am more than my achievements or failures? What are God’s dreams for me? What difference does it make to claim my identity as a child of God?
  • What sports celebrity do I admire for his or her ability to play the game and to live the faith? What does the Bible have to say about “winning the race” and about doing or being our best?
  • Who or what has taught me the importance of winning? of losing? How do I feel about the old saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game”? How am I playing the game of life?
  • What have I learned about winning and losing graciously? When have I learned that being a good sport, following the rules, playing fairly, and having fun are more important than winning? What does my faith teach me about good sportsmanship? What spiritual values have I learned from a coach or from teammates in a sports context?
  • When has the encouragement of teammates helped me to improve my skills? my attitude? my game? How am I learning to make others feel like winners? How do I congratulate, recognize, or honor their accomplishments—large or small?
  • Am I stressed out by always trying to be Number One? What type of success am I trying to achieve? How is God’s definition of success different from the world’s definition? How would following God’s definition alter my life?

Finding Myself

  • How have I struggled to discover and claim my identity? to appreciate the person I am? How do I feel about myself? What do I believe about myself?
  • When have I taken an honest look at who I really am and who I want to be? What are the most critical values, messages, pressures, or persons that influence my self-image?
  • Am I comfortable being myself with my friends? with God? Why do I feel as if I have to hide my real self? Who or what prevents me from being me? What things do I wish people could see in me?
  • How do deal with other people’s opinions of me—good or bad? When have I felt the pressure to conform? What causes me to try to live up to others’ ideals instead of my own? Who or what has helped me to find myself when I am ignoring my values?
  • When have I failed to believe in myself? What affect did that have on my life? my relationships? Who believed in me during this time of doubt and struggle? What difference did that make?
  • When have I based my sense of worth on whether or not I felt loved? When have I experienced God’s love and grace at a time when I felt lost or unlovable? Was I able to accept these gifts? How did I begin to accept God’s love and to love myself in spite of what others felt about me? What am I discovering about myself? How am I finding my identity in Christ?
  • When have I taken the risk to stand up for myself, for others, or for what I believe is right? What gave me the confidence and courage to do this?
  • How have I come to know myself? How did I learn that I was important? a person of worth? a beloved child of God? How am I learning to be true to who I am?
  • Which of my relationships go beyond the surface, so that I know and am known more than superficially? What friend or family member makes me feel free to be who I am when I’m in his or her presence?
  • How do I feel about being created in God’s image? Where do I see glimpses of God in me? How do others say they see God through me? How are these glimpses helping me to find my true self?
  • Do I see myself being worthy of God’s love? How does it feel to know that God sees me as I really am and loves me anyway? When have I been overwhelmed by God’s love even though I don’t deserve it?
  • How am I learning that I can love myself without being conceited, that it is possible to be confident and humble at the same time? How did Jesus love himself? What can I learn from his example?
  • How does loving myself enable me to love others? How does loving myself affect the ways I live out Jesus’ commandment to love my neighbor as myself?
  • In the season of Advent and Christmas, we remember the ways God demonstrates love for us. What does it mean to me that God chose to become human like me, to feel all the things I feel, to experience life as I do? How does knowing that God’s love is unconditional, that I will always be loved by God, that God will always call me beloved help me to discover and claim who I am?

No Regrets

  • What about my life do I regret? What do I celebrate? What reasons do I have to celebrate right now? How does dwelling on things I regret keep me from experiencing the abundant life Jesus promised?
  • How am I learning to focus on the little things that give my life meaning instead of on my regrets? What one “little thing” have I noticed recently that brought me joy?
  • Am I usually optimistic or pessimistic? How am I learning to focus on the joys of life and not only on the struggles or regrets? Who models for me a more balanced perspective of life?
  • When I focus only on the things I regret and fail to see the blessings of life, how does that affect my attitude? my relationships? my health? my faith?
  • Who can I count on to remind me that I have much for which to be thankful? Who celebrates even the smallest blessings with me? Who helps me see the good in my life even when I don’t feel like celebrating? How do I express gratitude to God and to others for the ways they make my life worth living?
  • How do I celebrate the achievements of others? How can the practice of celebrating these achievements—whether large or small—help me to see and celebrate the good things in my own life?
  • When has a spiritual practice, such as the Prayer of Examen, helped me to look back over my day or my life and to name both the highs and lows? How does the regular discipline of naming my blessings and acknowledging my regrets help me to maintain an attitude of hope and joy? to learn from mistakes and move on? to see that God was with me in all of it?
  • When has my life been out of balance? What did I learn from my mistakes? Who has taught me the importance of learning when and how to say no? When have I regretted saying yes and taking on too much? When have I found that only by saying no to certain things did I have the chance to say yes to things that were far more important?
  • When have I felt regret about falling in my faith? What did it take for me to pick myself back up? How have I learned that falling in my faith and failing in my faith are two different things? What difference did that make?
  • Do I make and keep New Year’s resolutions? How well do I follow through on them? What resolution do I regret not keeping? Why?
  • How does Jesus teach us to recognize and celebrate joy, peace, and blessing? In what ways does my attitude toward life represent Christ to others? How will I seek to cultivate a “no regrets” attitude in the New Year?
  • When have I chosen my dreams over God’s dreams? What do I regret most about that? What are the changes I think God hopes to see in me in 2018? How will I make God’s dreams for me my own?

Clear the Clutter

  • Why is it so hard for me to clear away all the clutter in my life? What do I really need to make me happy? to survive? What are my priorities in life?
  • How does our culture seduce us into wanting more, more, more? How do I handle this? Who or what helps me to decide when enough is enough?
  • Should I give away more of my stuff? Am I hoarding? When have I experienced the loss of some or all of “my stuff”? What did I learn from this? When does clutter get in the way of growing closer to God?
  • Who or what has taught me the value of simplicity? How am I trying to live more simply? Is it possible to live simply in a materialistic society? Why is it so difficult?
  • In what ways is living a simple life beneficial? How can living with less allow me to love God more?
  • What person or culture models for me the practice of simplicity? What is it about this lifestyle that I long for? that concerns me?
  • When have I chosen to clear the clutter? How did I do it? What was difficult or impossible for me to give up? What became more important to me than ever before? What did I learn?
  • If God takes care of the birds of the air, then I can trust God to take care of me. How might my life look different if I lived by this philosophy? How would the world be different? How does simplicity allow me to rely upon God more fully?
  • What have the scriptures taught me about living the simple life? What does God say about living simply and giving to the poor? Are there people in my life who have put this into practice? How do they help me to see how much I have to give?
  • If I could clean out my heart and soul the same way I clean out a closet, what would I find? What clutter would I need to get rid of? What stuff would I want to hold on to? to use more often? to give to those who need it?
  • What if I handed my life over completely to God? What clutter would God want me to give away or to give to God—resentments? regrets? poor self-image? other?
  • When have I been able to clear the clutter and start with a clean slate? What allowed me to start fresh—a physical move? a change of heart? a transformation?
  • How does the life of Christ embody the practice of living simply? What does the attitude or practice of simplicity help me to become more Christ-like? What are some of the simple gifts that I have received from others? that I can offer to others? How might I resolve to clear the clutter in the New Year?
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