devozine

Jul/Aug 2019

Deadline: 10/08/2018

DO JUSTICE, LOVE MERCY

  • What does it mean to “do justice” and “love mercy”? What is the difference between justice and mercy? Why do they belong together?
  • How have I experienced doing justice? offering mercy? receiving justice? receiving mercy? Tell a story about justice being done or about mercy being shown.
  • When in my life has God required justice? shown mercy? What did I learn from these experiences?
  • How would my life change if I truly believed that these two things—justice and mercy—were required of me by God?
  • Where in the world do I see the need for justice and mercy? How have I been able to help meet the need? How would I like to be able to help?
  • How can I, one teenager, help to establish justice in our world? What is a small way that I have worked for justice in my community? in my world? How am I involved in working for justice in my everyday relationships? How can I show mercy while working for justice?
  • Who has taught me how to work for justice in my community? How has his or her example shaped my life? How am I learning to demonstrate God’s grace and mercy in the process?
  • Who are the people in need of food in my community? As a whole, are they overlooked or ignored? How have I personally been involved in feeding hungry people? What did I learn from this experience?
  • How am I involved with eliminating the problem of hunger or poverty in my community? How can I become more involved than I already am in serving and advocating for the rights of the poor?
  • Who has made me aware of or has taught me how to relate to those who are hungry in my community or on the other side of the globe? How has his or her example shaped my life?
  • What have I learned about justice and mercy by participating in a service project or a mission trip in which I helped people who were being treated unjustly?
  • When has someone I know been treated unjustly? When have I been treated unjustly? How did it feel? What did I do? What do I wish I had done?
  • How would our world be different if there were truly justice and mercy for every person? How would my life be different? How can I help to make justice and mercy for all a reality?
  • What does the Bible say about justice and mercy? When have I experienced God’s justice? How have I come to appreciate God’s justice being balanced by God’s mercy?
  • Frederick Buechner says, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” When have I found joy in working for justice and mercy in the lives of others? In what ways is God calling me to meet the needs for justice and mercy in our world? How will I answer?

 

GOOD ENOUGH?

  • How do I feel about myself? Do I feel good enough? What about me causes me to feel unworthy?
  • How have I struggled to discover and claim my identity? What makes this so difficult to do as a teenager? Why is it so easy to see my negative qualities and not the positive ones? How has my lack of love for myself driven me to feel that I am not as good as other people?
  • How does the way I look affect my self-esteem and confidence? When have people judged me “not good enough” solely by my looks? What does it mean to me that God “looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b)? What difference would it make if I looked into the heart of every person I meet?
  • Who tells me that I’m not good enough? Why do I believe them? How much do I care about what other people think of me? How do their opinions influence my self-image?
  • Who determines whether I am good enough—the media? the “in-crowd”? my parents? my friends? me? God? Who am I allowing to define my value?
  • When have I failed to believe I was good enough? How did that affect my life? my relationships? my mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual health? Who believed in me during this time of doubt and struggle? What difference did that make?
  • Who helps me to feel good about myself? Who respects me and listens to what I have to say? Who pays attention to the things that matter to me?
  • What life experiences have helped to shape me into a more confident person? How did that shift happen for me? Who or what helped me begin to feel “good enough” internally?
  • How have I learned the difference between self-confidence and conceit? between being strong and pretending to be tough? 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 does my faith help me to be confident? How does knowing that God loves me no matter what boost my confidence? How did Jesus love himself? What can I learn from his example?
  • Do I see myself being good enough for God—worthy of God’s love? How do I feel knowing that God sees me as I am and loves me anyway? When have I been overwhelmed by God’s love even though I don’t deserve it?
  • Who has helped me to overcome feelings of worthlessness and to gain an honest understanding of my worth as a child of God?
  • When have I tried to help someone who struggles with self-worth? In what ways do I encourage others to see and to express their true worth? to know that they are loved and accepted by God?
  • When have I discovered the importance of my identity being firmly rooted in Christ as I struggle to be accepted? When I try to be myself and it still isn’t good enough for my peers, how do I experience acceptance in Christ?
  • When have I experienced God’s love and grace at a time when I felt unworthy? 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 thought about me?

 

I DISAGREE

  • How do I handle disagreement? Am I open to all sides? Do I champion my own opinion? Do I shut down and refuse to continue the conversation? Am I disagreeable for the fun of it?
  • When have I thought that disagreement was something to be avoided at all costs? What did I do to prevent or avoid conflict? What did I gain or lose in the process? When have I experienced the consequences of unresolved conflict?
  • When have I had a huge argument with a family member or close friend? Who or what helped us to work through our differences? the pain of the argument?
  • When I have ongoing disagreements with a family member, close friend, or significant other, how do we maintain a relationship? How does it feel to struggle constantly with a relationship? When have we sought help to process our disagreements?
  • Do my friends, siblings, or parents argue constantly? How does it feel to see people I love disagreeing with one another? How do I help them to work through their struggles?
  • How have I learned that disagreement doesn’t have to be a bad thing—that it can be a way to learn, to grow, and to broaden my understanding of the world?
  • When has being open to a disagreement led me to examine my own thoughts or lifestyle in a way that allowed me to change for the better?
  • How am I learning that being open to healthy conflict is essential to building a good and deep friendship?
  • When have I had to say NO to someone out of love for them? Where did I find the strength to do the hard thing, especially when they got angry?
  • With whom have I had to learn to agree to disagree in order to maintain a relationship? How do I remain open and respectful and still know where to draw the line when arguments start?
  • Since I want others to respect what I have to say, how am I learning to act that out when others are speaking to me? What practices help me to make respect inherent in the way I listen to others, especially when we disagree?
  • Who has modeled for me the importance of speaking honestly and of listening with respect for the opinions of others, even if I disagree? Who or what is helping me to cultivate these gifts?
  • How have I discovered that others are more likely to receive and entertain differing opinions if I offer them respectfully?
  • When have I been able to sit in the middle of a disagreement between friends without taking sides? Was I able to help them be open to hearing one another? to see the value of respecting one another? to agree to disagree? to resolve the conflict? to continue as friends?
  • Who has been willing to have tough conversations—courageous conversations—with me about things I don’t want to hear or agree with? How has their ability to say what they think in an honest and affirming way made it easier for me to hear and understand their point of view?
  • How does my faith help me to work through the conflict with people I love? How have prayer, meditation, and other spiritual practices helped me to resolve the issue?
  • What friends, siblings, or parents in the Bible disagreed with each other? What happened? What can these stories teach me about my relationships?

 

LOVE WELL

(This theme is the focus of Youth 2019, a national youth event next summer. Please submit a meditation for one of the daily themes outlined below.)

God is Love. (Monday)

So what is love? What does it mean to me that God is love? How have I experienced the radical love of God? What have God and others taught me about true devotion, about loving authentically and unconditionally? How am I learning to love as God loves?

We are called to LOVE WELL. (Tuesday)

How do I receive this call—as an invitation, an order, a gift, a challenge, a test? How does scripture help me to understand this call (see Romans 12:9-10; 1 Corinthians 13)? What does it mean to “love well”? How do I respond to God’s call?

Loved by God. (Wednesday)

How do I know without a doubt that God loves me? Is it a feeling? a belief? a decision? a hope? a reality? What are the little ways God shows love for me? How have I learned to notice them? How do I feel knowing that God loves me no matter what? How do I receive God’s love? If I truly believed that I am God’s beloved, how would this change my everyday life?

Love for Ourselves. (Thursday)

What does it mean to love myself? How does being loved by God enable me to love myself? to become the person I was created to be? to become more loving? What practices and habits are helping me to love myself and others as God does?

Love for our Community. (Friday)

How can I become a more loving person? Who has taught me how to live out God’s command to love one another? In what ways can I express love for those I know and those I don’t yet know? What practices prepare me to act out God’s love with those in my community? Will those who see and interact with me every day know me by my love?

Love for God and the World. (Saturday/Sunday)

If we learn to love by being loved, is it possible that my love can make a difference? How does God’s love empower me to love God’s people around the world? How have I learned to see everyone I meet as a sister or brother in Christ? How does “having the mind of Christ” change the way I treat others, especially the poor, the oppressed, people on the margins? How is the transforming love of Christ changing me into someone who can love well?

 

“SQUIRREL!”

  • Am I usually focused or easily distracted? How does this affect my attitude? my relationships? my goals? When am I most distracted? What draws my attention away from what I should be focusing on in the moment?
  • What are the distractions in my life—friends? technology? worry? schoolwork? perfectionism? a boyfriend or girlfriend? hanging with the wrong crowd? other? How do I deal with these distractions? What helps me refocus?
  • How do I feel when friends or family are on their phones when we are having a conversation? How often do I allow my phone to interrupt what’s going on IRL?
  • When have the distractions of social media, texts, and messages consumed my life? Who or what helped me to reset my priorities?
  • How do I glamorize the state of being distracted so that it has the perception of importance? How does this disrespect the other people and tasks that I am ignoring?
  • When have I been a distracted driver? What were the consequences? What have I learned about paying attention when I am responsible for lives and property?
  • When have I found that focus and self-discipline are beneficial? When has a lack of discipline left me unprepared? Did this end up becoming a distraction, or did it motivate me to plan ahead next time?
  • When have I been on course to achieve something important only to run into a distraction? What happened? What lessons did I learn? Who or what helped me to get back on track?
  • When have I experienced my life being interrupted? How did I react? Do I prepare for and/or welcome distractions, or do they totally disrupt my carefully planned day? How can I practice living in the moment so that I am not easily distracted from what is most important to me?
  • What noises or distractions keep me from listening to others or to God? What helps me to clear away those distractions? to listen more intently?
  • Who or what has distracted me from my relationship with God? When have I given in to the temptation? How have I learned to stay the course? How have I learned the value of discipline in my life of faith?
  • When has it taken a distraction from the routine for me to realize something important? to hear God’s voice? When has God gotten my attention and “distracted” my life? What have I learned about these godly distractions?
  • How might I plan a “distraction” in the midst of my day to give me space to slow down, to rest, and to spend time with God?

 

INVISIBLE ILLNESS

  • What serious illness has affected the life of someone I love— an illness that is long-term, possibly fatal, or one that no one wants to talk about? How did he or she cope? What did this person teach me about life? faith? hope? healing? death? what’s really important?
  • How have I learned to cope with an illness in my own life? What have the tough days been like? What have I learned about myself? my family? my friends? God?
  • When has the C-word (cancer) been introduced into the conversations of my family? How did that diagnosis change life as we knew it? What questions did I have for God?
  • When has a close friend been diagnosed with a chronic disease? How did I feel? How did I reach out to him or her? What did I have to offer?
  • When have I had to live with the fear that symptoms of a chronic condition would hit when I least expected it? How did I deal with the fear or the embarrassment?
  • When have I wondered whether or not someone with a serious illness would survive, but was afraid to ask? How did I deal with the worry and stress? Who helped me to open up about my concerns?
  • How has the diagnosis of a chronic illness caused me (or others I know) to modify the way I (they) live life? What has changed? What will never be the same?
  • When have I asked “Why me?” or “Why someone I care about?” upon hearing the diagnosis of a serious or fatal disease? What answers have I received? What questions do I still struggle with?
  • How do I cope with pain when there is no relief? How do I cope with suffering over which I have no control? How do the constant reminders (medicines, tests, shots, doctor visits) affect my attitude? How does my faith help me to face the pain and limitations brought on by disease? Where have I experienced God’s healing presence in the midst of pain and suffering?
  • What is it like to watch a friend or family member struggle with a terminal illness? In what ways did I help them find peace and courage in the face of disease or death? What feelings did I experience? How do I honor the memory of someone who has died too young?
  • In what ways has illness or death affected my relationship with God? Is it OK to be angry with God in the face of sickness, suffering, and death? How does this anger affect my faith?
  • When have I had to confront mortality, the reality that I (and those I love) will die? How do God’s promises comfort me in such a time? Who or what has been my source of strength? How does my faith prepare me to face death? What does my faith teach me about healing?

 

WAYS I WORSHIP

  • What does it mean to worship God? When did I realize that worship was more than singing and listening to a sermon?
  • What is my favorite way to worship? Why? How does this form of worship help me to praise, reverence, and grow closer to God?
  • When do I feel the urge to worship? How do I express my gratitude and praise to God? What creative outlets do I use as part of my worship?
  • What role does music play in my corporate and private worship? How does music help me to enjoy and to express the wonder of my faith?
  • When have I included art, dance, drama, or sign language in worship? What was this experience like? How did it change my understanding of worship?
  • What does the Bible teach me about worshipping God? What scripture passages help me to turn my heart toward God when I need to express my thanks, praise, doubts, or prayers?
  • What are the most meaningful worship settings for me? Do I enjoy traditional worship services, contemporary music, dialogue, experiential prayer stations, artistic expressions of faith, enjoying the beauty of creation, a prayer walk, or sitting in silence before God?
  • How has being with others in worship drawn me closer to them and to God? What have I learned about the importance of worshiping with a community? How do I incorporate into my life both communal worship and time alone with God?
  • What are some unique ways that my youth group or church worships together? What role do the youth play in these settings? Is worship more meaningful to me when I am an active participant? What can teens teach the church about meaningful worship?
  • When have I experienced a different style or setting for worship than I am used to? How did I respond? What did I learn about being open to God’s presence even in worship experiences that seem strange or different to me?
  • When have I experienced worship in other cultures or countries, perhaps on a mission trip? What unfamiliar elements of worship spoke to me or enabled me to express my faith in new ways?
  • How am I beginning to see that worship is an essential spiritual practice for me? How has engaging in spiritual disciplines helped me to be open to God in all areas of my life? How am I seeking to be open to new and even unfamiliar forms of worship to help me celebrate God’s presence and offer my gifts in service?

 

#devoseen

Where have I seen God in the world around me? Create a visual meditation by capturing this moment or experience in a photograph. Your photo devo can respond to one of these prompts:

  • What are you grateful for today?
  • Where do you feel God’s presence?
  • Where do you see God’s love in the world?
  • What brings you joy?
  • What surprised you this week?
  • What worries you?
  • Where are you able to be still and hear God’s voice?
  • Take a moment to center yourself. Be still and listen for God’s voice. What have you had a hard time letting go of? How can you photograph this thought?
  • What is happening in your life that you can express through photographs?
  • How might you photograph your relationship with God?
  • After waiting and becoming fully present to a place, limit yourself to one photograph.
  • How might you photograph your emotions?
  • Tell the story of your faith through a photograph!
  • What prayer is on your heart today? Photograph the prayer as a way of “praying” it.
  • Or take a picture that fits one of these titles: Off Balance, Love, Creativity, SH-H-H, Moment to Remember, Growth, Mind=Blown.

When you submit your photo devo, you might also include a:

  • Title
  • Few lines explaining your creative process or why you chose this particular photo
  • Scripture that you feel best fits with your photograph
  • Short prayer or questions for reflection

If you mail us your photo devo, be sure to print it on photo paper. If you submit a digital photo, make sure the image is saved as the largest format and highest resolution possible (at least 300 dpi). These steps will prevent your picture from printing blurry.

 

GOING PLACES

  • What is the best thing about going places? When has a trip gotten me out of my routine and allowed me to see things in a new way?
  • What do I enjoy most about traveling? What do I find challenging? What life lessons have I learned on the road—from a vacation, mission trip, study abroad semester, exchange student semester, alternative spring break, pilgrimage, or mini-retreat? What has traveling taught me about myself? my community? the world? about my faith? other faiths? How has it helped me to grow in faith?
  • What is the most challenging part of a road trip or family vacation? How have my quirks and attitudes helped to create or to ease these challenges? How has traveling brought my family closer together? opened us up to deeper discussions about faith? How has traveling brought me closer to God?
  • When have I spent my vacation or given up the usual spring break beach trip to go on a mission trip? What difference did it make in my life? in the lives of those I served? How did God stretch me during this trip? ? How am I encouraging others to plan an alternative spring break or vacation?
  • When has a mission trip, an internship with a service organization or the Peace Corps, a study abroad semester, or an exchange program enabled me to encounter new peoples and cultures? How has my willingness to serve opened my eyes to new ideas and perspectives?
  • When have I traveled to or lived for a time in a different country or on a college campus? What was different? What was the same? How did I discover that God is the same everywhere?
  • What persons, countries, or cultures have I gotten to know more deeply because of the time I spent in missions or in a study or emersion program? What did I discover about this people, places, or cultures? What began to feel like home to me? What do I miss?
  • How has living with and serving others over a period of time affected or changed my relationships or my understanding of the world? What stereotypes and prejudices were broken down?
  • With whom have I traveled? What were the benefits or challenges of traveling with this person? How does each traveler bring a new dimension to the trip? What makes a good traveler?
  • What is the difference between traveling as a pilgrim and as a tourist? When have I taken a pilgrimage? What did it teach me about God? about myself? about my faith heritage?
  • Where have I met God in my travels—in nature, in the mishaps, in a fellow traveler, in a group guide, in a local person, in a church or holy site, in a totally unexpected person, place, or situation? How was God’s image or presence revealed? How do my adventures bring me closer to God?
  • How am I like the travelers of the Bible—for example, Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Miriam, Jesus and the disciples, Paul and Timothy? What can I learn from these seasoned travelers?
  • Jesus had companions on his journey. Why is it important to be with people who will grow in faith with me? How did Jesus spend time with his companions? How do I spend time with mine? How do I accompany others on their faith journey?
Back To Themes

To Order Devozine Magazine, call 1.800.972.0433.

Clicky