devozine

May/Jun 2018

Deadline: 08/28/2017

SAFE & SECURE

  • In what relationships or situations do I feel afraid or unsafe? To whom do I turn for help, advice, or protection?
  • What parts of my school, community, or society frighten me? When have I felt threatened in my daily life? How do I deal with this kind of fear? Who helps me to deal with my fears?
  • When have I or has someone I know been affected by crime, rape, burglary, neglect, or abuse? How did I respond to this experience? How did this experience make me feel?
  • How do I feel when I hear of frightening events in the world such as war, terrorism, famine, bullying, school shootings, or gang violence? With whom do I discuss these issues? What seems to be behind the growing tendency toward anger and violence in our world?
  • When a natural disaster (flood, tsunami, earthquake, tornado, hurricane) happens in my area or in other parts of the world, how does it affect my sense of safety or security? Where do I see God in the midst of natural disasters? Is God’s power being used to harm or to heal?
  • When has fear for my safety taken over my life? What have I been unable to say, do, or accomplish because of fear? How have I found the strength to face my fears?
  • When has fear spurred me into action? When has it enabled me to accomplish something I thought was impossible? to act courageously to help someone else?
  • What does the Bible have to teach me about fear? How does my faith help me to deal with my fears? How does my church community deal with frightening events or circumstances?
  • Where are young people at risk of engaging in or being victims of acts of violence? When have I been the victim of violence? When have I behaved in violent ways?
  • When have I or has someone I know been hurt by domestic violence, terrorism, campus shootings, robbery at gunpoint, gang violence, or murder? How do I cope with the fear of violence in my everyday life? How can I, as a Christian teenager, respond to the violence I see around me?
  • How has the heightened awareness of violence and terrorism in the world today affected the way I live my life? relate to others? relate to God? What brings me hope in the face of great uncertainty?
  • What does God call me to do in a violent situation? in a relationship that involves violence? What do I believe is the role of Christians in a world plagued by fear and violence? What have these situations taught me about forgiveness? justice? security?
  • How can the acknowledgment of God’s love for me and for others serve as an encouragement that life will get better when situations seem their absolute worst? What does my faith teach me about how precious life is?
  • How have I found a sense of peace and calm that lasts, even in the more chaotic times of my life? What part does my faith play in my attaining a sense of safety and security—of God’s shalom? What would it take for me to say, “It is well with my soul”?
  • Where do I see God amid the violence of our world? How could God’s love make a difference? What can I do to help bring peace to the world?

RIDING THE WAVES

  • What things in my life are up in the air right now? How do handle not having all the answers?
  • When have situations in my home, my school, or my community left me feeling uncertain? How do I deal with this feeling, especially when I don’t have much control over the situation?
  • What are the major transitions I’ve had to face? Which ones are still ahead for me? How have I learned to live life in the “in-between” places?
  • What changes have been extremely difficult for me? Which have been exciting and challenging? Where do I find strength and courage to ride the waves of change?
  • How do I deal with the uncertainty of my future? Who or what helps me to handle the anxiety and to find my way?
  • When have experienced highs and lows in my relationships? How did I decide which ones were worth “riding it out” through the tough times?
  • Am I a fair-weather friend, abandoning ship when the going gets rough; or do I stick by my friends when they are facing tough times? Who sticks by me during the ups & downs of life?
  • When has my relationship with God gone through ups & downs? How am I learning that my faith often grows significantly during the storms of my life? Who or what supports me and keeps me focused during these low times? What scripture verses encourage me?
  • When have I experienced a hope or dream “come true”? When have my dreams been shattered? Where was God in these uncertain times?
  • When have I felt like a failure or felt that the odds were against me? When have I failed someone else? When have I failed God? What lessons have I learned from failure?
  • What are the things that I am certain about in my life? Whom or what can I trust to remain solid when all else is shaky ground? What brings me hope in the face of great uncertainty? When has my faith provided an anchor? Where have I seen God in the midst of all the changes?
  • When have I supported someone who was struggling to trust God with the uncertainties of life? How did it feel to watch this person struggle? How was I able to help?
  • How do I stay focused on God in the midst of transition? How am I learning to give God my feelings of uncertainty and insecurity? When has God been my rock in a sea of change?
  • When have I navigated a transition well? Who or what helped me to understand that tough times are part of life? to be open to change? to being made new?
  • Write your own prayer, psalm, poem, or conversation with God explaining how you feel about facing the uncertainties in your life and your need for an anchor in the storm.

WE ARE THE BODY

  • What does it mean to be the Body of Christ? How does Christ model for me what it means to be genuine in my relationships? to engage in “authentic community”?
  • In what groups do I experience authentic community? How do I feel a sense of connection in each one? Why do these communities seem to me to be more real or genuine than others?
  • When have I been invited into community? What enabled me to take the risk? to get involved? How do I welcome others into a community that I have found meaningful?
  • When has being part of an authentic community drawn out of me gifts and strengths that I didn’t know I had? How has being supported and loved unconditionally prepared and empowered me to serve in ways I never expected?
  • When have I been in a place where I could not find authentic community? What did I miss? Who or what sustained me in this time? How did I begin to create community?
  • When have I experienced the power of being a vital part of a community of faith? How has my worship community brought together people who otherwise may never interact with one another?
  • How has being part of a Bible study or other small group brought me closer to God? helped me to live my faith? What does it mean to me that Jesus said if two or three of us are gathered together in his name, he will be there with us? How is the time Jesus spent with the disciples a model for our group?
  • When have I experienced the life-giving breath of the Spirit in my life? within my family? within my group of friends? within my faith community?
  • When and how have I felt the Spirit guiding, comforting, and binding together the community of faith to be the body of Christ? How does the Spirit connect us to the broader community?
  • How am I discovering that engaging in authentic community is truly counter-cultural today? Who has taught me what it means to follow the radical way of Christ? What gives me the courage to say yes?
  • What person do I know or know about who best exemplifies a Christ-like life? How does his or her life inspire me to be more Christ-like?
  • What does it mean to have the mind of Christ? to reflect the light of Christ in the world? How do I see God at work in my life to help me grow more and more into the likeness of Christ? How am I cooperating in this re-creation? How am I resisting?
  • How do I practice being the hands and feet of Christ in the world? When has God worked through me to make a difference in someone else’s life? How has God empowered me to be the church to others in my world?
  • How did early Christian churches engage with the community to which they belonged? How has this helped me to understand what is required for the life and ministry of a community to be vital, authentic, life-changing? How can I motivate those in my community to be authentic in relationships, in faith, and in service?
  • What things do I think are important for the church to hear in order for it to be the Body of Christ in the world in the years ahead?

THIS I BELIEVE

  • What do I believe? Why? How do my beliefs affect the way I live my life?
  • How have my beliefs changed over time? How have I sorted through all the things I’ve been taught to discover and claim what I believe? What authority do I use to test my beliefs?
  • When have I tried to articulate to a friend or to my congregation what I believe? What beliefs were easy to put into words? Which were difficult? What difference did it make to state my faith publicly? How does my friend or my church family hold me accountable for living out what I believe?
  • When have I had the courage to voice my beliefs to people who felt differently? What happened? What scripture verses encourage me to stand up for what I believe?
  • What Bible passage speaks most clearly to me about the importance of knowing what I believe?
  • What things in life am I certain of? What makes me so certain of these things? When have I taken the risk to believe something in faith when there was no conclusive proof? How have I learned to be open to new ideas without feeling challenged or threatened?
  • What do I believe without a doubt? What beliefs am I still struggling to claim or articulate? How have I discovered that some of my doubts can help me to question, to learn, and to grow? Who or what has given me the space, the grace, or the courage to express my doubt? How do I encourage others to explore their doubts and to search for answers?
  • What are my core beliefs? If I could keep only five of my core beliefs, what would they be? Why? What do my choices say about my belief system? How would truly living out these beliefs change my life?
  • How do I express my beliefs in my everyday life? Who has modeled for me that faith is more than a set of principles, that it is a relationship, that it is active, that it’s a lifestyle?
  • What kind of person do my beliefs call me to be in the world? When have I resisted this call? In what ways am I living out the things I claim to believe?
  • How am I developing a rule of life to shape, practice, and live out my beliefs? Who is helping me to do this? What activities and practices help me to live out my beliefs?
  • How am I learning to stand up for what I believe even when it means standing alone? How am I learning to share my faith in a non-threatening, non-aggressive, or a non-offensive way? How am I learning that I don’t have to apologize for what I believe?
  • Whom do I know who has taken risks for what he or she believes? Would I risk my life for God?
  • How does my relationship with God shape the way I live? Is my identity as a child of God easily recognized by others? What difference would it make in my life or in the world if I really lived out what I say I believe?
  • Express your beliefs creatively! State what you believe in a creed or poem. Write your beliefs as a journal entry, or sum them up in 200 words or less. Rewrite a Bible passage as a personal or group covenant to a particular way of life (try Colossians 3:1–14). Create a piece of art or a photograph that expresses your beliefs. Or come up with your own idea. Then submit your work to devozine.

BITTERNESS

  • How does bitterness affect my life? When is it easy to for me to feel bitter? How am I learning to notice the warning signs? the people or situations that tend to trigger my bitter feelings?
  • What happens if I give in to a bitterness for a while? When have I allowed bitterness to eat away at me? How did I recognize that I needed help to overcome these feelings?
  • When have I noticed that my bitterness can affect other people’s attitudes? How have I affected another person’s attitude for better or worse?
  • How am I beginning to see that bitterness can grow from unresolved anger, disappointment, resentment, or hurt? Who is helping me name these sources and to learn constructive ways to deal with my hurt and anger so that I don’t become bitter?
  • When has a good friend been honest enough to confront me about the way my bitterness affects me and damages my relationships? How did this help me to change?
  • To whom do I go when I need to talk to someone about my anger, hurt, or disappointments? What is “good medicine” for me when I am filled with bitterness?
  • How do I react to people who are angry and bitter? What can I do to help them deal with these feelings? How can I be a friend who is honest and yet walks with them toward a healthier life?
  • Do I tend to hold grudges? What have I learned about grudges turning into bitterness? What advice can I give to my peers about letting go of a grudge before it becomes harmful?
  • When has it been hard for me to forgive someone? Did holding onto the bitterness hurt me or the other person? Who or what helped me to forgive and to move on?
  • When has someone held a grudge against me? How did I feel? What did I do when the grudge turned to bitterness and became a barrier to our relationship? How was I able to resolve my feelings and work to restore the relationship?
  • When have I really wanted something in life—a goal, a job, material things, a relationship—that I didn’t receive? How did I respond to this disappointment? How am I learning that disappointments are a part of life and that I must deal with them?
  • The Bible contains stories of people who were unforgiving and grew bitter. What biblical story illustrates the dangers of holding on to bitterness? What have I learned from it?
  • When have I bitter and angry with God? What happened? How did I experience God during this time? What helped me to release my anger and to be open to God once again?
  • How does my bitterness contradict what I say I believe? What attitude does God desire in me? How can I be open to letting God change my bitterness? How am I working to cultivate a godly attitude in my life?

FOOD FIGHT

  • How does what I eat influence who I am? When have I experienced my diet affecting my mood? my actions? my spiritual life? What does God have to say about being healthy—in body, mind, and spirit?
  • What gives me energy for life—a healthy diet? exercise? a positive outlook on life? my relationship with others? my relationship with God? a combination of these?
  • We are what we eat, but we are also what our food eats. How can I improve my health by making better food choices? How can I support sustainable farming practices that improve not only the flavor and nutrition in our food but also the health of the world?
  • How have I been affected by our culture’s obsession with body image? In what ways does this cultural pressure affect my life? the way I view myself and my body? the way I view others?
  • Why do I worry so much about the way I look or what others think of my appearance? When has my concern over my appearance affected the way that I eat? When has thinking that I don’t look good enough made me believe that I am not good enough? that I am not worth loving?
  • When has my desire to have an ideal body taken a dangerous turn (an eating disorder, harming my body)? When did I realize that I needed help? Did I seek help? What was the outcome?
  • When have I (or has someone I know) had to fight being over-weight or under-weight? When has this fight gone to the extremes of anorexia and bulimia, of dangerous fad diets and pills, of serious injury to my (his or her) body? Where did I (he or she) find offers of genuine help?
  • Who or what has control over the choices I make about what I eat and how I look? How have I learned to trust others to help me see that my diet and attitudes can be self-destructive?
  • Who has taught me to be myself? to love myself? to know that I am much more than what I look like? When have I helped someone else learn to believe this as well?
  • How do my friends influence my eating and exercise practices? How do I influence theirs? In what ways do we sabotage or support one another’s attempts to become healthier?
  • How are my eating habits affected by my busy life? When have I been sucked into the fast-food culture? How did I learn to monitor my intake of fast food or junk food?
  • What are my questions about eating well and staying healthy? Where or to whom do I turn for solid answers? What habits or practices have I discovered that strengthen all of me—my body, mind, and spirit?
  • If I were to take seriously the idea of honoring my body, how would my lifestyle have to change? Who could I ask to hold me accountable to follow through on this decision?
  • How does understanding myself as being “created in the image of God” affect the way I look at my body? How have I learned that God loves me no matter what I look like?
  • Why does God want me to become a whole person? What difference could that make in my life? in the lives of others? How is taking care of my body a way of glorifying and honoring God?

I SEE YOU

  • If we are all created in God’s image, what does that say about how I see other people? What difference would it make if I looked for God in every person I met?
  • How might the world be different if we accepted one another—differences and all? if we treated others the way we want to be treated?
  • When have I been in a situation in which I am the one who is different? How did I act? How did I feel? How has that experience helped me to examine the way I see and treat others?
  • Do I treat people differently because they seem different? When have I experienced differences as intriguing rather than as a barrier? as a gift rather than a handicap? When have I accepted the invitation to see differently and discovered God’s image reflected in the life of another?
  • When have I discovered what it really means that all persons are one in Christ? Where do I find the courage not only to see but also to love and to stand up for those who are different? How have I helped to break down the barriers and fears that lead to fear and discrimination?
  • Who are the misfits in my school? my community? my country? my world? How do I treat these people—ignore them? welcome them? accept them? befriend them? advocate for them? love them as God does?
  • Why am I afraid to let others see me as I am? When I wear a mask, what am I trying to hide? What things do I wish people could see in me? When have I risked taking off the mask and being real
  • In what places today do young people feel safe to be who they truly are? How do (can) I create spaces or build relationships in which people are open to experiencing the richness of all cultures? to see past differences? to see all people as children of God?
  • When have I experienced the strength or growth that can come from being open to different opinions, values, perspectives, gifts, traditions, or cultures? In what ways have I been able to see and to celebrate the things that make others unique?
  • How have I learned the difference between tolerating differences and embracing them? How does my faith encourage or enable me to see beyond differences—to see beneath the surface?
  • When I really take time to listen to others, what difference does it make in the way I see and understand who they are? How have I discovered that the art of listening is critical to seeing others through God’s eyes?
  • When have I had to get beyond myself to focus on another? What was it like to lay down my interests, my hurt, my pride, or my feelings and to see and know the person in front of me?
  • How did Christ show compassion to others? How do I seek to imitate Christ’s example? How have I learned to see Christ in the person I’m serving? How am I the “hands and feet of Christ” when I serve others?
  • Who has taught me to see with the eyes of faith that everyone is a unique child of God? So what happens when Jesus calls me to love the unlovable? to love my enemies? When has God seen the real me and said, “I love you anyway”? Will I be bold enough to love others as God loves?

CALLED TO CREATE

  • In what ways am I creative? How do I use my creativity to de-stress? to enjoy life? to help others?
  • What are my favorite ways to express my creativity? What creative gifts has God given me? Who has affirmed these talents in me?
  • What things do I enjoy building? Why is it important to me to create, build, or rebuild things with my hands?
  • Do I have a God-given gift for creating beauty? Do I use this gift to give glory to God? When have I put my heart into building or making something of beauty or meaning? How did that piece of art touch other people?
  • When have I created or built something for someone else? How did this gift affect our relationship? How did it change the way I viewed that person? the way I viewed myself?
  • Whom do I consider creative? What gifts does this person possess or share with others? Who inspires me to be more creative? What experiences have spurred me to greater creativity?
  • How do I sense the creativity of God at work in my life? in the lives of others? in the world? How do I see myself as a partner with God in creating and re-creating the world?
  • What creative project do I enjoy so much that I “lose myself” in it? What does that tell me about myself? about the God who created me?
  • How do I express my faith creatively? Does my creativity reflect the nature of God in whose image I am created?
  • What creative forms of worship do I enjoy or participate in? When have I offered my gifts of music, dance, art, writing, photography, or sign language to enrich a worship experience?
  • When have I created a prayer that was more than spoken words? When have my actions become my prayer? How do I express my prayers with my voice? my body? my talents?
  • When have I honored God through creative physical work, like building a Habitat house or woodworking with my grandfather? How have I come to see work as prayer and praise?
  • How does creativity help me grow closer to God or deepen my faith? How do I see God as an artist? What art does God create? What art do I create along with God? How do I sense the creativity of God at work in my life? in the lives of others? in the world? How do I see in myself the beauty God has created?
  • How do I express my feelings, my passions, or my faith in creative ways? How do my creative gifts reflect the image of God?
  • What am I creating in and with my life? How do I use the gift of creativity to build friendships? to touch others? to make the world a more beautiful place?
  • What creative expressions of my faith do I have to offer devozine? Please send us a piece of art, a photograph, a photo of a piece of pottery or sculpture or something you have built, a poem, a short story, a video of a dance, or something else you have created—and tell us what inspired the work you submit.

FENCED IN

  • There are no limits in the way God sees me. Why do I put limits on myself?
  • What kind of limits do others put on me? When do I begin to feel trapped by those limits? How do I deal with feeling fenced in by others?
  • When have I been fenced in by someone’s lack of belief in me? by the fact that I spoke up against the crowd? by physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual pain or disease? How did Jesus respond to people who felt or actually were fenced in? How do I respond in his name?
  • What walls am I hiding behind? What do they protect me from? keep me from enjoying? When have I wished that someone could penetrate the prison walls I have built and get to know the real me? Where do I find the courage to do break down these walls?
  • In what relationship have I taken the risk to break down a wall built by some lingering hurt or fear from the past? What tools were required— patience? forgiveness? trust? healing?
  • When I have felt a wall or barrier between God and me? Who or what helped me to reach out for God? Am I still reaching? How have I experienced God reaching back?
  • When have I wanted more freedom? How did I use the excuse that “everybody’s doing it” to try to push the boundaries others had set for me? When have I rebelled against being “reigned in” by parents, teachers, coaches, or other authority figures?
  • What things do I want freedom from? What would I like to be free to do or be? What does this freedom require of me? When have I pushed freedom too far? What were the consequences?
  • What boundaries in my life feel restricting and suffocating? How do I react to them—live with them, rebel against them, or seek to change them? What kind of attitude do I have about the limits I must deal with in life?
  • Why are boundaries important, even necessary, to my life? to my spiritual life? How does setting boundaries help me to feel safer? healthier? When have I learned that boundaries can be freeing? How do I see discipline leading to freedom in my life?
  • Who sets my boundaries? How do I decide where to set the boundaries I have control over?
  • Who models for me a life with healthy boundaries? How has this person taught me to set limits that are healthy and life-giving rather than creating rules that make me feel fenced in?
  • How am I learning that agreeing to live by certain behavioral covenants in my youth group, small groups, or my family has fostered freedom and independence through respect and trust?
  • When have I felt fenced in by God’s boundaries? Who or what helped me to see that God’s boundaries are for my own safety and promote healthy relationships with others? How have I discovered that God’s boundaries create space for creativity and protection?
  • How does my faith help me to keep the boundaries that God sets for my life? What is difficult about this? What takes practice?
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