devozine

May/June 2019

Deadline: 08/20/2018

NEED vs GREED

  • How do I knowing that many people do not have what they need to survive? Do I believe that as a Christian I have a responsibility to help others who are less fortunate than I am? How am I learning to be generous with what I have, no matter how little or great it is?
  • Do I know anyone by name who is hungry or living in poverty? What is this person’s story? What does it move me to do?
  • When have I realized how sheltered I am from the suffering of others? Who has made me aware of or taught me how to relate to those in need in my community or on the other side of the globe? How has his or her example shaped my life? How am I personally involved in caring for people in need?
  • Whom has God placed in my life right now that needs help? When has God pointed out a need and showed me a way to meet it? How did I respond? What difference did it make?
  • What do I think about the gap between rich and poor—“haves” and “have nots”—in my neighborhood, community, town, country, or the world? Is the gap widening or becoming smaller? Why? As a Christian, what responsibility do I have to help those who are in need in our world?
  • What do I willingly sacrifice so that someone else can have a better lifestyle? For example, do I buy fair trade coffee so that coffee famers can make a fair wage? Do I limit my clothes purchases so that I can give the extra money to charity? How much inconvenience am I willing to experience to help others?
  • When I have been unable to help others financially, what creative ways have I come up with to help—providing a meal or offering to do needed chores? babysitting so a parent can go to work or look for work? coordinating a food drive for needy families or to stock a local food bank?
  • What is it that I want most out of life? What have I discovered about getting what I want? When have the things that I want gotten in the way of what God wants for me? How am I learning to consider what others need and want instead of always thinking about myself?
  • How do I feel about money? What guides my decisions about saving or spending, being generous or stingy with my money? What does it mean to be generous? In what ways am I generous with my time, money, talents, love, and service?
  • In what areas of my life am I extravagant? How has this affected my ability to serve others in positive or negative ways? What am I extravagant about in a good way—helping others? dispensing kindness? praying for others? What other practices would I like to cultivate?
  • As a follower of Christ, how am I called to love extravagantly? What does this mean for the way I treat others, especially the poor, the oppressed, people on the margins, my enemies? How might showing them the extravagant love of God change the way I feel about them? the way I relate to them? the way I pray for them?
  • Jesus commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Who are my neighbors? How am I called to love them? If I believe what the Bible says—that anyone in need is my neighbor —what difference will this make in my life? What examples of being a neighbor has Jesus given me to follow?

 

IT COULD HAPPEN TO ME

  • When I try new things or travel to new places, how secure do I feel? Am I wondering about what could happen to me in an unfamiliar setting? Where does this discomfort come from?
  • How do I deal with the sense of ambient fear in our society? Am I always looking over my shoulder or worried about my safety? How do the constant reminders—metal detectors at school, active shooter drills, amber alerts on my phone—feed this subconscious worry or dread I feel? How do I deal with the feeling that “it could happen to me”—anywhere, anytime?
  • When has fear for my safety taken over my life? What have I been unable to say, do, or accomplish because of fear? How did I find the strength to face my fears? Who gives me courage to keep going?
  • In what relationships or situations do I feel afraid or unsafe? To whom do I turn for help or protection?
  • When have I or has someone I know experienced a school shooting or mass shooting? How did the community respond to all who were affected by this tragedy? How do I deal with the fear that someone at school, the mall, or a concert might be carrying a gun and could shoot me?
  • When have I or has someone I know been affected by crime, rape, burglary, neglect, or abuse? 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, trafficking, 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 have I or has someone I know been hurt by domestic violence, terrorism, 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? How has the threat of terrorism made me want to be more aware of what is going on around the world? How has it changed my way of looking at the world?
  • What can I do about pain and suffering caused by violence, abuse, and disasters in our world? How can I help those who are victims of tragedy as well as those who are stressed out by the growing fear in our society? In what ways do I feel God calling me to reach out to them?
  • 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?
  • How has an experience of trauma helped me to learn what to do in a similar situation? How can I help others prepare for what might come without fostering greater fear?
  • What makes me feel safe? How am I creating good support systems and friends in faith who help me find the courage to refuse to live in fear? How does my faith give strength to others?
  • 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?
  • Where do I see God at work amid the violence of our world? How could God’s love make a difference? What can I do to help bring peace and healing to the world?

 

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

  • What do people expect of me? Do particular people expect a lot from me? When have I felt that others’ expectations are too much for me to handle? When have they been a motivating force in my life?
  • When am I stressed by trying to keep up with the commitments, the responsibilities, and the time people ask and expect of me? How do I put stress on myself by trying to do it all?
  • When I don’t meet the expectations of others, how do I deal with feeling as if I let them down? How have these experiences taught me to treat those who have not lived up to my expectations of them?
  • Do I think teachers, parents, and society in general expect too much of young people? Why or why not? In what ways is it hard to live up to the expectations that are placed on me?
  • In what ways am I pressured to make the grade, to make the team, to achieve more, to be more? Does this pressure come from others? myself? my church? society? God? How do I cope with the pressure?
  • When at first I don’t succeed, do I try again? Why or why not? When have I felt like a failure? How do I react when I feel that I can’t meet the expectations others place on me?
  • When have my friends pressured me to give in to drugs, alcohol, sex, or risky behavior in order to be accepted or cool? How did I handle the pressure? What did I learn about my friends? myself?
  • What happens when expectations don’t match? How do I handle the pressure when I discover that being who I am isn’t good enough for my friends? when I expect my friends to accept my faith in Christ, but they expect me to go along with the crowd? When have I expected others to go against their values or better judgment in order to “fit in”? What did I get out of this? What did I lose?
  • When have I felt overwhelming pressure from my parents to succeed at something? How did I feel about their lofty expectations? What did I do?
  • When have I needed to let go of a sport or activity to find balance or to de-stress, but my parents, coaches, or teachers expected me to stick to my commitment? Was I able to voice my opinions and be heard?
  • What are my parents’ dreams for me? What do my parents expect that I can be or will be (good or bad)? Do I try to live into these dreams or fight against them?
  • When have my parents’ expectations been positive, pushing me in good and challenging ways? When have they been too strict or too high, leaving me feeling trapped or not good enough?
  • How do I respond when my parents or teachers have low or no expectations of me? When have their low expectations led me to have low expectations of myself? When have they challenged me to succeed, to change, to do or be what they didn’t think I could do or become?
  • How have parental expectations shaped the person I am becoming? How have they helped me to know God? How have they taught me the importance of faith? of prayer? of time with God? How have they supported my faith journey? How do I embody their expectation that I will be a person of faith?
  • In what ways is my identity tied to meeting the expectations of others? How am I learning that I am more than my achievements or failures? What does God expect of me? What are God’s dreams for me? How am I learning to dream God’s dreams?
  • What does it mean to me that Jesus came to give us abundant life? How does his expectation that I can enjoy the fullness of life give me hope?

 

STANDING WITH

  • What heavy burdens do teens carry today? What burdens do I carry? Why do we find it so hard to identify our burdens and to ask for help? Why are we afraid to lean on someone else?
  • When have I needed help to carry my heavy load? Who was willing to help shoulder the burden? Jesus tells us to cast our burdens on him. How does leaning on Jesus give me hope?
  • Jesus calls us to love our neighbors, to carry one another’s burdens, to be an advocate for those without a voice. How am I responsible for the welfare of others? How can I love others as Christ does?
  • Who has stood with me or become my advocate when I needed help? What did he or she do or say? How did I experience God’s presence in this situation?
  • When have I had to get beyond myself to focus on another? What was it like to lay down my interests or pride to engage with the person in front of me? How have I learned that listening is critical if I want to see and understand who others are and what they are experiencing?
  • How did Christ stand with others? How do I seek to imitate his example of compassionate love? How have I learned to see Christ in the person who is leaning on me for help?
  • How has my belief that we are all one in Christ given me the courage to stand with those who are different? How has working to break down barriers and fear enabled me to welcome them? befriend them? advocate for them? love them as God does?
  • How am I learning that taking a stand to help someone doesn’t have to be a grand gesture? What little things can I do that could make a big difference in someone’s life?
  • When have I stood up for or with someone who didn’t have a voice—sitting with the un-cool kid at lunch or participating in an awareness event for homelessness? How are my actions changing me?
  • In what ways are young people taking a stand on global issues, such as genocide or violence against women? How do they inspire me to act?
  • When have I gone against the crowd to stand with someone only to find myself standing alone? Who had I expected to stand with me? What can I learn from Jesus’ example of standing alone against the crowd?
  • When have I stood up for God when being faithful wasn’t popular? How can I begin to step out and take a stand regularly? What would it take for me to make this a lifestyle?
  • When have I tried to carry someone’s problems all on my own? What happened? How am I learning to discern when problems are big enough to involve an adult or a group of people? Who helps me to understand that I can’t always fix things, but I can listen and offer support?
  • Who models for me how to carry others’ burdens well? Nadia Bolz-Weber says that God will never give us more than the community can handle. How does my faith community bear one another’s burdens?
  • 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 stand with others in ways I never expected?
  • What adults have been there for me no matter what? How have they become spiritual friends I can lean on? How have they taught me or inspired me to be a friend in faith who carries the burdens of others?

 

THIS IS ME

  • Who am I? Whose am I? Who am I becoming? 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?
  • How would I describe the authentic me? What do I see as being core to who I am and what I value? How would I complete this sentence: “This is me: _____________________.”
  • How authentic am I? Does my identity change depending on the setting I’m in or the people I’m with? Am I different online than in real life? Am I different with friends than I am with family? What core elements define me no matter what?
  • How am I learning what it means to be “me”? And how have I learned who I am not? When have I found it a struggle to fit in and still to be myself? Why? Did I conform or stand my ground?
  • How have I felt pulled or pressured to be someone I’m not? Who or what placed these pressures on me? Who or what gave me the freedom and the confidence to be myself?
  • How am I learning that I am important? a person of worth? a child of God? How am I learning to see God’s reflection when I look in the mirror? What words does God use to describe me? How does understanding myself as being “created in the image of God” affect the way I look at and love myself? my body? my personality? my flaws? my unique characteristics and quirks?
  • 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? What are the beliefs and values that define who I am? How are these different from the ones my parents or friends hold?
  • What worldly things try to mold and shape me? When has this clashed with my beliefs? In what ways do I invite God to shape my life? What spiritual practices do I use to allow God to mold me rather than being shaped by the culture?
  • When have I felt confident enough to stand up for myself, for others, or for what I believe is right? What gave me the courage to do this?
  • Who is a model of confidence for me? Who remains confident even when the odds are not in his or her favor? What have I learned from this person? How am I seeking to apply it in my life?
  • How does my faith help me to be confident? How does knowing that God loves me no matter what boost my confidence?
  • In a world that doesn’t always value the Christian lifestyle, how do I keep my faith firmly grounded? How do I reflect God in the way I live? How do I maintain a godly life even if my friends choose a different lifestyle?
  • What does living a life of integrity mean for a teen in the 21st century? What are the signs of integrity in my life When has my integrity been tested? What happened?
  • How do I see God at work in my life to help me grow more and more into the person I was created to be? to be more and more like Christ? How am I cooperating in this re-creation? How am I resisting?
  • What does it mean to have the mind of Christ? When have I tried to live like Christ in my daily life? What changes did I have to make? Who has helped me to understand the ways I can embody the love of Christ in my life?

 

PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT

  • How am I learning that We Are What We (Repeatedly) Do”? What things do I do on a regular basis? How are these things—good or bad—becoming habits?
  • What traditions have become important to my family—vacation spots and times? Christmas traditions? unique birthday celebrations? back to school photos? How do these traditions shape who we are?
  • How do I live out my faith through building habits? What value do I see in building faith habits or practices? What difference do rituals and practices make if I continue them?
  • When have I realized that practice may not make me perfect, but it does make my choices and actions more permanent—more in line with my desire to be like Christ?
  • What things do I choose to do to get “In the Habit” of living a Christian life? What difference does it make when I live what I believe? when I practice living as Jesus did, even though I am not perfect?
  • Who has modeled for me what it means to live faithfully? What spiritual practices help this person find the strength not only to know what is right but also to do it? What have I learned from him or her that can help me practice my faith?
  • What practices help me to put God first in my life? How have my conversations with God grown and deepened as I have made time with God a priority?
  • How do I communicate with God? Do some prayer practices “work” for me better than others? What habits remind me to incorporate prayer into my life—saying my prayers at a certain time every day? praying throughout each day? using triggers or setting alerts that remind me to pray? building a rhythm of prayer each morning, noon, and night? incorporating movement or breathing into my prayers? writing, singing, or creating prayers? How does repeating a prayer practice help me to handle the ups and downs of my day? to notice God in even the most ordinary events of my day?
  • How does praying for others affect my relationship with them? with God? What habits am I forming that remind me to pray for others? What difference does intercessory prayer make in their lives? in mine?
  • How do I practice quiet time—alone or with God—in the midst of the noise and busyness of my daily life? How is repeating this practice teaching me to be comfortable with being alone? with silence?
  • How has the practice of doing devos shaped my life and faith? my relationships with others and with God? When has it given me strength or carried me through tough times when I felt far from God?
  • When has reading the Bible and praying helped me to grow closer to God? to listen for God? to follow God? When have I felt God empowering me to be a witness? to make a difference? What practices enable me to articulate my beliefs through words and actions?
  • How does talking to other Christians stretch me? challenge me? improve my walk with God? When have I participated in a small group in order to practice Christian conversation and accountability?
  • When have I fallen in my faith? What practices helped me pick myself up and get back in practice? How has seeing faith as something I practice taught me that falling in my faith is not the same as failing.
  • How do I practice making my faith a lifestyle, seeking to live out my beliefs 24/7? How has trying to be faithful in loving and serving God and others transformed my life? my relationships? my faith?

 

OPEN TO THE SPIRIT

  • When have I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for God’s presence and blessings in my life? How did that open me to the desire for a deeper relationship with God?
  • When have I been wide open to the Spirit of God? What allowed me to open up? Was this experience exhilarating? scary? exciting? challenging?
  • How am I learning to be open the nudges of Spirit in my life? Who helps me to stretch? to be vulnerable? to be open to encountering new experiences of faith? What am I discovering?
  • When have I felt like dancing—as if I had to move? What made me want to get up and move? How did I respond to the movement of the Spirit within me?
  • How have I incorporated movement into my devo time, praying with my entire body rather than simply with my heart, mind, or mouth? When have I experienced the spiritual practices of body prayer? walking the labyrinth? going on pilgrimage? What difference does it make to involve my body in my search to become closer to God? How has movement opened me to the Spirit? allowed me to move with the rhythm of the Spirit?
  • What fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) do I see ripening in my life as I open myself to the Spirit? Which spiritual fruit do I want to cultivate and nurture? What practices open me to the Spirit’s nourishing work?
  • What gifts do I possess that could only have come from the heart of God? When have I felt the Spirit activating these gifts within me? How is the Spirit calling me to use my gifts?
  • How do I experience the presence and guidance of the Spirit in my life? How has the Spirit been an advocate for me? When have I felt the Spirit “kicking in” for me when I have not known how to pray? When I feel lifeless or drained, how does the breath of the Spirit restore my soul?
  • When have I experienced the life-giving breath of the Spirit in my life? What does it mean to me that God breathed life into me at birth and created the process of breathing that keeps me alive?
  • How have I learned to practice breathing deeply so that it becomes a habit? How has this practice helped me to be more aware of God’s presence—God’s breathing—within me? When have my breath and my prayers become one?
  • The Hebrew word ruach means “breath” or “wind” but also “spirit.” When I breathe in the breath of God, I am breathing in the Spirit of God. How does knowing that God’s breath and spirit are within me change my breathing? my prayers? my understanding of who God is? who I am?
  • When do I take time to breathe and to center myself during the day? How does this help me to connect with my spirit? with the Spirit of God? What difference does this sacred breathing make in my life?
  • When have I felt the breath of the Spirit blowing in me? in my world? How does God’s breath give me new life and strength? How does it re-create me? the world in which I live?

 

WITH MY OWN TWO HANDS

  • What things do I enjoy building? Why is it important to me to create, build, or rebuild things with my own two hands? How does my creativity reflect the nature of God in whose image I am created?
  • How have I discovered my talents for building stuff? Who has affirmed these talents in me? Who inspires me to be more creative?
  • Do I have memories of learning a skill or a craft from someone? Why did this person want to teach me to build things? Why did I want to learn that skill? What was it like to work together? How have I experienced Christ as the master builder in my life?
  • What creative gifts has God given me for building things? How do I use my creativity to de-stress? to enjoy life? to help others?
  • When have I made something from scratch? Was it difficult? easy? satisfying? frustrating? How did I feel seeing the finished project? How did I experience God as a co-creator in this effort?
  • In what building project do I “lose myself” in the enjoyment of it? What does that tell me about myself? about the God who created me?
  • When have I 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?
  • When have I really put my heart into building or making something of beauty or meaning? How did it touch other people?
  • When have I asked God to work through me to build something well? When have I built something to give glory to God? How do I express what’s in my heart through the work of my hands?
  • When have I honored God through creative physical work, like building a Habitat house or woodworking with my grandfather? How did this experience enable me to see myself in the ministry of building homes and lives? How did I begin to understand work as prayer and prayer as work?
  • What intangible things am I building in my life—a reputation? a career? a legacy? What steps am I taking to build them well? What am I creating with and through my life? How do I use the gift of creativity to build friendships? to touch others? to make the world a more beautiful place?
  • 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 see myself as a partner with God in creating and re-creating the world?
  • What have I made with my own two hands that I would like to submit to devozine? Please send a high-resolution image of something you have built or made—and tell us what inspired you to build it.

 

RUN!

  • When do I feel like running away? What am I usually running from? Why?
  • What do I try to escape because I feel afraid? insecure? unworthy? too cool or too lazy to be bothered? How am I beginning to explore the things that motivate me to escape people or situations that I would rather avoid?
  • When have I experienced a situation in which the “fight or flight” instinct kicked in? How did I choose to react? Why? Looking back, was it the best choice?
  • What frightens me so much that I instinctively run for safety? Where or to whom do I run? When have I run away and refused to face my fear? What happened? What did I learn from this experience?
  • When have I stood my ground and fought for what I believed instead of running away? Who or what challenged me? What did I learn about myself? about the cost and the value of defending myself?
  • When have I chosen to face my fears or issues in healthy ways instead of running away or fighting my way through? What difference did it make?
  • Who has helped me to understand that fear is not a sign of weakness but an instinctive reaction to a situation or a feeling of dread—real or perceived? How am I learning to determine when to run, when to ask for help, and when to stand up and face my fear?
  • When have I wanted to “run away from home”—to escape the rules and expectations of parents? to be free and independent? Did I push the limits? What were the consequences? Who helped me to see that these feelings are normal? that there are kind and healthy ways to act on them?
  • Are there times when is it important to run? What are the things in my life that I should be running away from? What do I need in order to escape?
  • When have I needed to “get away from it all”—to physically leave or run away from a person, place, or situation in order to relieve stress, recover from burn out, deal with some difficult news, or clear my head so that I could make healthy decisions? How was I able to get the space I needed?
  • When have I needed to escape from unhealthy circumstances that I chose or created—toxic relationships? self-harm? dangerous behavior? Who was able to see that I needed help? What did this person do that gave me the strength or courage to walk away?
  • How do I escape when life is too much to handle? When have I tried to escape reality through drugs, alcohol, video games, or other negative outlets? When have I considered suicide? Why did I feel as if these destructive choices were the only way out? What are some healthy ways I have learned to cope without having to escape or ignore life?
  • When have I run away from God? Why? How did I find my way back to God? Where was God while I was far away? How did I discover that God was with me the whole time?
  • When have I tried to resist God’s call by ignoring it, making excuses, or running away? Was I able to escape God’s call on my life? How did I experience God’s presence and patience with me, allowing me the time and space to hear and respond?
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