Happy Easter!

Colored eggs, baby chicks, a person dressed up in a big bunny costume… Easter is a fun holiday, especially when you’re a kid. And if the presents the "Easter Bunny" leaves you aren’t cool enough, check out the candy! It’s almost Easter, and now is a really important time to figure out what this holiday is all about.

Easter is a time of new beginnings. Ever wonder why the classic Easter symbols are baby animals? Easter is in the Spring, a time when animals are being born. There’s another reason Easter is full of beginnings. Jesus, our Savior, came back to life on Easter! How cool is that?

What better time is there to read the story of Easter than now? Go ahead, open up to one of the Gospels (New Testament section) and read about Easter. And, if you’re having company over, get everyone to sit down in the same room, and you can read a bit of that story to them! That’d be really cool – sharing God’s love and reminding us that Easter is more than just parading through the yard in search of plastic eggs filled with candy and quarters.


What are you thankful for?

Check Yourself Out
What are you thankful for? What good things or people make your life as great as it is? And don’t say, "There’s nothing to be thankful for!" There is something, big or small, in everyone’s life, that makes you feel like smiling.

Make a list of everything that you’re thankful for, and post it in the comments to share with other people. Really think about this. Jot down everything that you’re thankful for – no matter how big or small. You’re thankful for being alive (a big one). You’re thankful for having an allowance raise (a small one). Think of things that you usually don’t think about that still are good things in your life. You might not know it, but you’re probably thankful that there are those pretty wildflowers scattered across your field, or the birds that fly above the trees in your backyard. Post it in the comments.

God wants us to be thankful for every little thing that is good. He also want us to thank him for that. He made those wildflowers, he made those birds, he made your best friend, and he softened your mom’s heart so you’d get that allowance raise! So, after making your list, start praying, thanking God for each and every thing. Your list will probably be long – post it anyway!


10 Cs: Swearing & Cussing

Hey. It’s been a busy month! In the last issue, we looked at not putting any gods before the One God, and not worshipping idols (which include video games, looks, and TV). This week, we’re going to look at Commandments #3-4, where God tells us to keep the Sabbath holy and to not say God’s name in vain (can you say "cussing"?).

Do not take God’s name in vain. (Exodus 20:7) God shouldn’t been an empty, no-meaning word to you, because God’s name is full of meaning. Use His name only in a loving way, and count on Him to help you every day.

Cussing, Swearing, and all that Stuff. "Oh, ____!" she said in a fit of anger that her curling iron wouldn’t work. I gasped. Had my best friend just cussed? And because of something so small and insignificant?!? I tried to brush it off, but I couldn’t. Cussing really bugged me. I coughed loudly – our signal that she just cussed. "Sorry," she apologized. "I know you don’t like it."

Do your friends cuss? Does your family cuss? Do you cuss? It’s wrong. That may sound all goody-goody and holy, but think about the meaning. You’re using God’s holy name as a bad word when you’re angry. True, you can confess your angers and frustrations to him, but his name should not be used badly in the process.

Some or all of my friends cuss. Is that a bad thing? Will it really rub off on me?
I’m afraid that you’re going to have to honor God and maybe find a different group of friends to hang out with until your old friends find different words to stress their anger. Yes, over time, eventually, you may find yourself using a few of those words without even trying to or realizing it! We’re not saying that if your friend says a little something when mad, then they must be a bad and horrible person. But, if they can’t respect the fact that you don’t cuss and would rather they not, are they really your friend?

My family cusses and I try not to. I’ve asked them not to either, but they disregard me and cuss anyway. How do I deal with this?
We admire that you don’t want to be in an environment where cussing is normal. What you need to do is sit down with your parent(s) and tell them everything. You need to stress that you don’t want to cuss, will not cuss, and that it’s wrong to cuss. Then, ask them if they will please help you with this by not cussing themselves. Chances are, they’ll understand and find other words to use when they’re angry or disappointed.

I cuss a lot. Sometimes I do it accidentally. I want to get it out of my system, but it seems natural. What do I do?
Pray and ask God to give the wisdom and accountability and alertness to tone down your language. Watch what you say. Look at people who don’t cuss and hear what they say when they’re mad. Find a role model, a role model that doesn’t cuss. Eventually, by listening to them and following them, you will get it out of your system.

Weird but true. So, instead of swearing, a lot of people use "safe" swear words. "Gosh" is "God", "Jeez" is "Jesus", "Oh my Word" is talking about the Bible, "Dang" is a modification of "d*mn", which is sending someone to Hell. And, believe it or not, that weird "Gadzooks"? That originally was "God’s Hooks", referring to the nails is Jesus’ hand. So really, they’re not any better than actually saying the "bad word".

10 Cs: No idols.

Commandment #2: No idols. "No person or thing is more important to me than God. Even if it’s cool, God is way cooler."

Wait a second…isn’t this the same as "No other gods"? A little bit.

You don’t think I have an idol?! Uh, yeah, I do. My idol…well, I really don’t know what it is, but I am 90% sure there is something in my life that I’m holding higher than God. In the last couple of weeks, however, I’ve really gotten closer to Him, and I’m casting away my idols. Some previous ones I’ve had are my looks. Oh, I still want to look great. And I can’t leave a room without looking in the mirror. But I’m not obsessing so much anymore. In God’s eyes, my looks on the inside should be a whole lot prettier than the looks on the outside. Maybe you’re idol isn’t looks. But you do have an idol. Yep. So maybe it isn’t a potbellied statue that sits on a shelf. Is it your dad? He’s the coolest, isn’t he? Or maybe video games. Ugh, I absolutely hate how kids these days are spending all day playing video games. But video games are ok, as long as you want to be with God more than you want to be zooming Mario through a strange village to rescue Princess Peach.

Open your bible…to Isaiah 44:6-20. Isaiah goes into a detailed process of how men obsess over idols that they made themselves! Many people, even today, worship man-made idols. And all the people in the world have had idols, and probably didn’t even know it. A common idol is money. I’m not saying money is bad. I’m just saying that compared to God, money is worth as much an old raisin found under the couch cushions.

Flip to…Hosea 2, which shows that God’s people were unfaithful. No matter how good God was to them, they still worshiped idols. But God continued to love His people, knowing that without Him they were lost! So He took away their good things—not to destroy them, but to bring them to their senses—so that once again they would turn to Him and receive His blessing.

The bible says…Idols can’t help. In Isaiah 44:6-20, Isaiah pokes fun at people who cut down a tree, use part of it for firewood, and then carve an idol from the rest. Then they bow down and pray to that hunk of wood! People today are often just as foolish, counting on the wrong things to help them. Some count on wealth, others on popularity. Some count on stylish clothes, other on athletic ability. But in the end, you can’t count on any of these things. What you can count on is God. Don’t misunderstand. It’s not wrong to have money or nice clothes. What’s wrong is to count on these things as if they are what life is all about. That’s idolatry. And that’s foolish. Living God’s way and making what’s important to Him important to you will lead you to a happy tomorrow and a happy forever.

When we read…Hosea 2 a minute ago, I’d like to point out that this passage has really jumped out at Christians in China. It’s true. Christians and missionaries in China are praying that God will take away the good things in America, the things most Americans hold over God. Sounds mean, huh? That’s what I thought at first. But really, they’re point of view is that they are helping us, that it’s for our own good. They think we focus too much on other things and not enough on God, where as in China, everyone is so poor, the only thing they can focus on is their Savior. Now, I’ll admit that America does not dwell fully upon God, but I have actually been praying for the reverse—that because of America’s economic growth, people here will realize that they got it all from God.

As all good things come to an end…so does this issue of One Voice Bible Study. Now let’s prepare our hearts to pray. Go somewhere your siblings won’t bug you. Maybe you can even use some prayer activities we talked about in the last bible study issue. Remember, you’re praying to God. Respect Him, but remember that He wants you to feel comfortable talking to Him.

Pray for someone you don't really care much about. Really. That girl who slouches in her chair, hoping to become invisible. Or that boy who gets into so much trouble just because he wants someone to notice him. C'mon, you know a kid who really is shunned by everyone else. Pray for that person. Pray that they will be blessed and that people will see them for who they really are. Pray that they will shine. And really mean it. That's the hardest part.

10 Cs: No Other gods

We’re going to be looking at the 10 Commandments. You might grumble and think, "Oh, come on. I’ve been told this a million times." And maybe you have. But we’re going to look deeper – to see what you can do to apply each commandment to your life.

Commandment #1: No other gods. "I will put God first in my life. No matter how much I love my family, my dog, and my best friend, God’s the boss of my life. I want to listen to Him, let Him control my life, and live for Him. There’s just no other way."

Open your bible…to Exodus 20:3. You shall have no other gods before me. Some translations say "besides me". It means the same thing. God doesn’t want to confuse you. In this verse, he lays it out pretty simple. No other gods. Period. No little statue to rub for good luck. No ancestor that needs pure respect and obedience from you. While you should respect older people, don’t let them be your gods. They’re just people. Important people, maybe, but they’re still just people. Not gods. There is only one God, we know, and that’s our Lord. He’s the biggest, and the only one. There aren’t any less-cool gods below him that handle that little things. No. It’s just Him.

Whose your god? Before you say, "God, D-U-H!", I want you to really think about this. Who’s the person you most admire? Your mom? Your dad? A singer? The president? Billy Graham? I bet you love them. You look up to them. You want to be just like them. Well, you’re not them. It’s the hard truth. You are you. And those people you admire? They’re not God. They’re just people who have done good things. Sure, you might be a Christian, but would you sacrifice your family and your life to go to some dirt-poor country who’d probably want you dead? Whoa – hold up. I’m not saying you have to do that to be a Christian. I’m just asking, Would you? Which is more important to you: family or God?
Who is your god?

Two’s a crowd. You can’t worship 2 gods if you’re a Christian, even if one of them is the real deal. Nope, the foundation of Christian faith is that there is only ONE God, and that’s our Lord. One. One. One. There’s only that one voice that’s telling you that what you’re doing isn’t right. Face it: if you’re following two gods, you’d better rethink whether or not you're part of the family of Christ. God tells us that if we're not worshipping God, we're worshipping Satan (the devil). Worshipping Satan is a pretty dumb idea, and it'll get you into a lot of trouble.


Prayer [part2]

Prayer. We’re gonna talk about prayer today. In the first issue, you were told what prayer is, what responses you might get, etc. Now we’re gonna look at how to pray. We discussed this a bit in the first issue, but now we’re going to go deeper.

The 6 Senses. Humans have 6 senses: tasting, smelling, seeing, hearing, feeling, and humor. We’re going to use the usual 5 senses in this issue. You might be wondering, What does this have to do with praying? Well, it’s pretty weird, but it’ll help a lot. Keep reading to find out.

Intro. While some people may think this is the sin of all sins, I pray with my eyes open. I pray at night, after everything in the daytime has happened. And I can’t close my eyes. I HATE closing my eyes, even when I’m tired. But that’s okay. God wants you to pray in a way that makes you comfortable – even if you have to being hopping on one foot while you’re praying (but that’s probably not comfortable). I was investigating different ways to pray when I stumbled upon the fact that when we pray we close our eyes, stop listening to everything else, and keep very still. Why? Why not use our God-given senses to pray?

Seeing prayer. When we see someone we’ve seen before, we’ve recognized that person. A certain trigger pulls at the back of our brain, and we feel an emotion – hate, sympathy, love, etc. This emotion makes it much more comfortable to talk to a person face-to-face rather than through the phone or over the internet. So, if I can, I get a picture of the person I’m praying for, keep my eyes open, and stare at it while I’m praying. That way, I feel more like I’m praying for an actual person rather than praying for thin air or an email.
Hearing prayer. I keep prayer very personal. If I’m really going deep, I don’t let anyone hear – often I keep my prayers silent. God can hear them. Yet, if I’m all alone, I like to pray aloud, so I’m hearing my voice instead of my thoughts. This reassures me of the words I’m saying, how they would sound to God, etc.

Feeling prayer. Sometimes, when a lot of people are praying for one person, they put their hand on that special someone. They do this to show the person that they are really praying for them, that they care about that person. But they also do it so they can feel the person. This way, they don’t need to have their eyes open to see the person’s face. Human touch is a comforting thing.

Smelling prayer…? Here’s an interesting way to pray. If you have something that belongs to the person you’re praying for, you can smell it. Yeah, you heard me right. Take a big whiff. Every person smells different – they might smell like soap, sweat, peppermints, or strong perfume. This will help you if you don’t have a picture to look at. This triggers that same part of your brain that recognizes faces. If your aunt or grandmother gives you a rosebush to plant, or owns an apple tree, you can smell those things while you’re praying. Soon, you won’t be able to pass by a rose without thinking of your aunt that God healed.

Tasting prayer…? Okay, I’ll admit, this is getting pretty weird. This is one way of praying I don’t use. One woman I know of uses this method. If she’s praying for starving people in China, she and her kids eat a small bowl of rice while they’re praying. If they’re praying for someone in Japan, they eat some sushi or other kind of fish. If they’re praying for someone on an island, they eat fruit while they pray, so they can really experience what the person they’re praying for is feeling.

The beautiful outdoors. I love praying outside on a sunny day. It’s so beautiful, peaceful and quiet – I can heard the wind blowing through the trees, the scurrying of rabbits, the gentle clucking of ducks, and the soft murmuring of running water, or the quiet sound of horses grazing in a field. God made all this, and it makes prayer so much more enjoyable.

So just try it. Pick one or more of the above methods of praying. Try it. You’re bound to enjoy one of them, once you get the hang of it. It might take a while to get used to the strange methods, but they work.

An everyday prayer. Pray for a different person you know every day this week. Pray that they will be blessed, they will be shown God’s love, and they will overcome whatever possibly unknown obstacle they are facing.

How do YOU pray? Post it in the comments!
Please pray…Have any prayer requests? Post it in the comments!

Prayer [part1]

"God, I want this year to be different," was my prayer to him as I sat in the van with my noisy youth group. We were going up to Austin Texas for the annual New Year’s bash. I always knew that he heard me, but I didn’t always hear him. I wanted to begin the New Year with a solid resolution to listen to him more, to deepen my relationship with God. But did I really understand what prayer was? I needed to learn how to pray.

1. Q: What is prayer?
A. Prayer is talking with God.
Prayer is just talking to God. Just like you would talk to your best friend. You wouldn’t go up to your best friend and say, "Oh dear, ----, would thou wish to go to a movie with thee?" would you? No! You’d probably walk up and say, "Hey, ---, wanna go to a movie tonight or something?" Talk to him. He’ll listen

2. Q: Does he hear me?
A: Of course!
God is never too busy to listen to any prayer. Even if it’s the tiniest thing like, "God, could you help me find this needle? I dropped it." Stuff like that matters to him. And he’s all-powerful, which means that he can do anything. He can do stuff from helping you find that needle, to healing your mom or dad from cancer. He’s that big.
Do you pray? Do you know how to pray? Do you that you can pray about anything?
3. Q: Will he answer me?
A: He’ll answer you. It may not be the answer that you want, but he’ll let you know what he thinks.
God hears every prayer. He answers every prayer too. No, he might not answer right away, but it’ll come. Just never give up your faith in him because he doesn’t answer something right away. It may take a long time, but it’s on it’s way.
Prayer is something that takes time to develop. When you first start, you may feel as though you have nothing to talk about. Think. Think through your week. Think about your friends, could they possibly have anything that they need prayer for? Pray for your relationships, for a good week, that you’ll see your dog in Heaven. Anything.
Remember, though, that God is not a genie in a lamp. He’s not going to grant your every wish. God’s probably not going to give you the answer that you want to the prayer, "God, can you give me that new CD I saw at the store? I’m dying for it!". But he’ll probably listen to the prayer, "God, I’ve noticed that Ally’s been acting really sad lately. Whatever’s going on in her life, please heal her."
Begin this year with a solid resolution to deepen or start a prayer life with him.

How do I pray?
When Jesus is talking about prayer (Mat. 6:5-15), he says that you shouldn’t pray just so other people can hear you pray. Otherwise, you’re kinda bragging about how great you are in God’s eyes, and that’s not good. Instead, Jesus tells us to go in our room (or wherever you can find peace), shut the door, and just start talking to him. And if you’re in the car, auditioning for a play, or taking a test, you can pray there, too. You don’t have to say anything out loud, you don’t have to fold your hands or get down on one knee. You don’t have to bow your head or even close your eyes! If you were talking to your best friend, would you get down on your knees? Probably not. That’s a sign of respect to God, but if you’re somewhere where you don’t feel comfortable closing your eyes or whatever, God understands. Remember, your best friend can hear you just find whether your head is bowed or not.

Please, please, please!
Read Mat. 7:7-11. You might’ve heard this before ("ask, seek, knock" ringing a bell?). It says that if you ask, God will always answer, though he might not say yes, he might not say no. But keep asking, because that’s called faith. Believe. You know he can do it. But don’t pray like this: "Dear God, please help the kids at church to be really jealous of my new shoes." I’ll bet God won’t say yes to that! (Oh, and the "ask, seek, knock" method probably won’t work with your parents.)
More to read: Mat. 26:41, Mat. 21:22, 1 Thes. 5:17, Jude 1:20-21, 1 Cor. 7:5, James 5:13-18. Take the time to read these through. Remember to savor God’s word. These verses are great and related to prayer and this bible study.

So, this month, really work on how you’re praying. Are you staring at the ceiling, wondering if anyone’s listening? Or are you really talking to God, telling him how you feel, as if he was your best friend?

What's This?

What's This? One Voice is a teen ministry made by and for teens just like you. That’s right. No grown-ups. Just teens. Cool, huh? One Voice is a bible study where you can learn more about how God wants you to live – which is an awesome life.

Speak out. And, if you’ve got something to say, just post it in the comments.