On this page, you will find articles about XP3 Series that Leonia Church Student has done in the past.
Winning is fun, isn’t it? No one ever starts a basketball game hoping to lose. We don’t go to band practice because we want to take last place in our competition. We don’t start a video game wanting our character to be eliminated first. No way. We play to win. Why? Because winning is awesome. It feels great. In fact, sports and video games probably aren’t the only place you want to be a winner. Do you want to be successful when it comes to school? Sure! How about money? Your future? Dating? You probably answered “all of the above”. Basically we all want to win at life. And while there’s no way to guarantee you will win in every area, there are some things you can do to help you get there.
Every good story has a hero. Think about it. Superman. Luke Skywalker. Katniss Everdeen. They aren’t just random characters. They’re larger than life. Maybe they’re not perfect, but they’re exciting and they’re brave. And that’s what keeps us interested. That’s why we cheer for them. Believe it or not, the Bible is full of heroes like that.
When it comes to junk food, nearly everyone has a weak spot. Maybe for you, it’s the perfect salty bag of chips. Or maybe it’s beef jerky or those tiny pizza rolls. Maybe you have a sweet tooth and you just can’t pass on ice cream or cookies… or both. Whatever it is, we all have something that taps into our weak spot, our cravings. When it’s around us, we just can’t seem to help ourselves.
There are some moments in life that leave us all thinking, “Now what?”. Maybe it was when your teacher handed you a huge assignment and you didn’t even know how to start. Maybe it was staring at the blank screen after that assignment accidentally got deleted. Maybe your “now what?” moment came while sitting on the side of the road with a broken down car.
When was the last time you felt totally out of control? Maybe it was when your car hydroplaned, just for a second. Or maybe your plans got changed at the last minute leaving you with nothing to do. Or maybe a friend or family member’s behavior left you shaking your head. We all have moments like that—moments that leave us feeling tense, anxious, and wondering how we’re supposed to handle it all.
Everyone loves a good story. Even if you hate reading, you probably don’t mind movies, TV shows, or a great musical. There is just something about a story, a good story that we can’t resist. When we were little, all the great ones started with “Once upon a time”.
When was the last time you had to make a tough call? Was it when deciding what to eat for lunch? To drink Coke or Pepsi? Go to the gym or skip it? The truth is, we make judgment calls all day long, from what we watch on TV or who we hang out with to more complicated decisions like whether to attend a party or stick with a tough friendship. And, in every decision, we’re forced to ask the question, “Which option is better?”
When you were a little kid, did you ever try to light something on fire using a magnifying glass? Did you love sitting around a campfire? Or dream about the day when you’d be old enough to light the fireworks yourself? It seems there’s something in all of us that is fascinated by the power of fire.
What is it about this time of year that causes us to feel a little more generous? We naturally think about helping families in need by providing Christmas presents or a meal, we visit soup kitchens, donate clothes, or drop food off at the local food pantry.
Have you ever taken a big risk? I’m not talking about eating your mom’s broccoli casserole after too many days in the fridge. I’m talking about something that could have only ended with a big win or a big disaster. Asking a girl to prom that has never talked to you.
Have you ever heard someone say: Every cloud has a silver lining? It means with every storm, with every cloud, there is a something good about it. That’s a nice little saying, but sometimes silver linings are hard to find in real life, aren’t they?
Words are powerful. You probably already knew that. Words can make your day or ruin it. Words can make friends or create enemies. On a global level, words can start a revolution or bring peace. Now, think about how much more powerful God’s words are. Simply by speaking He caused the world to be created along with everything in it— mountains, oceans, thunderstorms, planets, the sun. He spoke all of it into existence!
Everyone loves a superhero. Superman. Wonder Woman. Iron man. They swoop in and fight the bad guys, save the day, and somehow make their spandex suit look cool all at the same time. But chances are, if we ran into one of them on street, we wouldn’t recognize them. Because almost all superheroes have another side—their mild, unassuming, simply-not-as-awesome alter ego. Their real, every-day life identity is rarely as impressive. In that way, we all have something in common with superheroes. There’s a public side of us. A super-identity that most of the world gets to see. We’re funny. We have friends. We’re confident. But deep in our hearts, we know there’s an alter ego—a less than super side we’d rather hide away. As we take a closer look at three habits that often bury themselves in our alter egos, we find that God has something to say about each one that can free us from living a double-life.
On a scale of one to ten, how do you measure up? Are you tall enough? Pretty enough? Smart enough? Funny enough? And on that scale, which number represents enough? Do you have to score a ten or will a solid seven do? How about a five? It’s better than average, right? Most of us measure how we’re doing by how everyone else is doing. Not a day goes by that we’re not tempted to glance to the left and to the right to see how we measure up to the people around us. This is especially true at school. We see everyone else’s grades, clothes, athletic ability, talent, and popularity. And it’s easy to feel like we don’t measure up. So we adjust course, try harder, spend more, and then compare again. It’s exhausting. In this 3-part series, Andy Stanley explores the difficult—but not impossible—challenge of escaping The Comparison Trap.
Do you every wonder if your life would be better with just a little more money? Of course you have! Maybe you want to buy more clothes, more music, or maybe you want to go to a concert with your friends. Wanting money is a no-brainer. But is that all there is to it? Is our only role with money to spend what we have and want more when it’s gone? As students, it’s easy to feel powerless when it comes to cash. Someone else pays the bills. Someone else makes the decisions. But what if I told you that you have more power than you realize? You have the power to help your family, change your habits, and even impact others in a big way. The truth is, money matters. Right here. Right now. And when you choose to change the way you think about it, God can do some big things in you and even bigger things through you.
When you were little, what did you dream about becoming? An astronaut? A ballerina? A professional wrestler? Whatever it was, chances are it was something that you felt was important. Something big. That’s the thing about little kids— they dream big because no one has told them that they can’t do something yet. They literally have no limits. But it’s different when we get older, isn’t it? In middle school and high school we start to see the areas we lack for the first time. We’re not the most popular or influential. We aren’t the most talented. And eventually we start to wonder if we can ever do or be anything significant. The big-dreaming days of our childhood feel long gone under the weight of our all-too-limiting reality. That’s exactly what happened in the life of a guy named Moses. With a tough past and not many real skills, he had no reason to believe that his life would be used do anything extraordinary. But after a few encounters with God, Moses’ perspective changed completely. He found that, with God, there is no limit to what you can do.
Can God hear me? Does God even exist? Ok, what about miracles—do they really happen? Did Jesus really rise from the dead, really? And what about all the other stuff in the Bible? Did it really happen? How do you know? When it comes to faith, we all have our doubts. Every single one of us. And yet, for many of us, church can feel like the last place we would go to ask questions. Why is that? For most of us, doubt feels like something we should hide, ignore, or silence. If there’s a volume dial, we should turn it down. But is that always true? Does having faith mean I can’t have doubt or vice versa? When we look closer we find that amplifying our doubt, turning up the volume on the right questions, may just be the best thing that ever happened to our faith.
When we hear the word entourage, most of us think of celebrities walking the streets of Beverly Hills, barking orders at their “people”—people paid to hang out with their famous “friends.” The actual definition of entourage is a group of people attending or surrounding an important person. Even if we don’t feel important enough for an actual entourage, most of us want at least a handful of people who like to hang around us—people who laugh at our jokes, go to the movies with us, and simply have our back. In the Old Testament King David, his son Absalom, and David’s grandson Rehoboam were no different. As royals, each had an entourage and through their experiences we see that the choices we make with those around us can change everything.
Have you ever had a moment that made you stop and think, “Wow, this changes everything”? Maybe it was finding out you didn’t make the team or that your parents were splitting. Maybe it was finding out you’re good at something or bad at something you didn’t expect. In these moments our lives change direction quickly. The funny thing is nearly everyone who met Jesus had one of those moments. They came in with a plan, a direction, an identity. And as soon as they spent any time with Jesus, those ideas were turned upside down. And, as we look at four of these stories, we find that an encounter with Jesus has the power to flip our lives as well.
Remember that game? Crouched in a corner? Trying to breathe without making noise? One person hides and another person seeks. That’s how it works. The truth is, it’s not all that different from our lives now. We may do it in different ways, but we are all trying to hide from things we don’t like. Things like pain, embarrassment and fear. We hide from things that hurt us. On the flip side, we’re all seeking certain things too. We spend a lot of time and energy seeking acceptance, excitement, fun, and whatever it is that makes us feel good. The hard part is, either way we’re not always successful. What happens when our best efforts fail? When, no matter how hard we try, pain still gets in and happiness still gets away? Sometimes, part of growing up is deciding to stop playing the game.
Movements are everywhere. “To write love on her arms”, “Tom’s Shoes”, “Livestrong”, “Habitat for Humanity”, and the “End-It Movement”—all of those and hundreds more were created during our lifetime. In fact, one of the traits that this generation is known for is being the most cause-driven, the most movement focused in history. So which movements do we join? How do we start? And how do we move and serve in a way that really matters? Even if we aren’t sure what we think about Jesus, we can learn something from Him about serving the community around us. By His example we learn to MOVE on behalf of others and KEEP MOVING to have a lasting impact.
We’ve all seen the nativity with perfectly positioned characters, well-behaved animals, and a holy glow surrounding it all. We see everyone in the scene as if they are one big happy family celebrating the first, and probably the only, perfect Christmas. Contrast this perfect picture with our own lives, our own families and holiday drama, and we may feel the Christmas story looks nothing like our own. But what if you able to pull back the curtain and see past the picture-perfect silent night? When we look closely, we find that the REAL Christmas story, the uncut, behind-the-scenes version looks more like our own than we would have ever imagined. And the same God who scripted these imperfect characters into His story is calling to join him there as well.
If you set your course in the wrong direction, you’ll end up in the wrong place every time. No matter where you hope to end up, the road you choose matters. The book of Proverbs gives us wisdom to help navigate the choices of life, because we know that each choice determines the direction of our lives. And it’s our direction, not our intention that ultimately determines our destination. Where are you heading? What path are you on?
Thirty-five hundred years ago Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with a short list of rules that has shaped the values of people and nations for centuries. We know them as the Ten Commandments, but do we really know them? Many people believe that the rules are a condition for a relationship with God, things we must do to get in His good graces. But just the opposite is true. The relationship came before the rules. And the commandments were meant to not only reveal God’s heart, but to keep His people free.