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Which pat h will you cho ose?

Family Issues:

In the face of life’s trials will you give up…or grow up?

Find help and Godly wisdom for handling divorce, family conflicts and abuse

Friend Issues: Sex and Dating: Resist peer pressure and have a life-changing influence on others

God Issues:

God invented sex, Develop a close, but there are real personal relationship consequences with God and then when it is practiced multiple your life outside marriage by pouring it and God’s design into others

“…appealing, poignant, and inspiring.”

G U I D E

Life Choices features themes from To Save A Life, the teen-oriented movie The Los Angeles Times called

S T U D E N T

Life is Tough:

LIFE CHOICES

LIFE CAN BE TOUGH—ESPECIALLY FOR TEENAGERS. Critical issues like peer pressure, sexual temptation, family conflicts, and lukewarm faith can detour even those with the best intentions. Learn how to handle life’s most difficult issues with Life Choices:

J I M

For use with the Life Choices DVD-based Study or Youth Curriculum

To Save A Life © 2010 New Song Pictures. All rights reserved.

B R I T T S

The Life Choices Student Guide combines daily Bible studies with discussion questions for weekly group sessions, helping teens develop a habit of Bible study and prayer.


Life Choices Student Guide Copyright © 2010 by Jim Britts Published by Outreach, Inc., in partnership with New Song Pictures. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used or reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems without permission from the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. The Life Choices curriculum is based on the movie To Save A Life © 2009 New Song Pictures. All Rights Reserved. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com. Scripture quotations marked msg are from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. Outreach, Inc., Vista, CA OutreachPublishing.com Cover Design: Tim Downs Interior Design: Alexia Wuerdeman Editing: Toni Ridgaway and Jennifer Dion Printed in the United States of America ISBN: 978-1-9355-4123-3


table of

contents A Note From the Author..................................................... 6 How to Use Your Student Guide......................................... 10 The real authors............................................................ 16 Week 1: Life is Tough....................................................... 20 Week 2: Family Issues...................................................... 38 Week 3: Friend Issues...................................................... 54 Week 4: Sex AND Dating Issues............................................ 70 Week 5: God Issues.......................................................... 86 Speak up—join the to save a life community..................... 104

“At some point, you've gotta ask yourst elf, ‘What do you wan your life to be about?’” –Chris to Jake in To Save A Lif

e


a  note  from

the   author


A  Note from  the Author Life is a journey, but the journey is not about a destination—it’s about transformation. For example, on my 16th birthday, I was so excited to take my driver’s license test. I showed up with my dad at the DMV with our family minivan, raring to go. The DMV lady got in the car and told me to pull out from our parking spot. Two seconds later, she yelled at me to stop and put my seat belt on. Not a good start. Next, she told me to take a right out of the parking lot. I took the corner too sharp and went right over the curb. THUD! I was so nervous at this point that I probably should not have been driving a bicycle, much less a car. Next, she told me to turn right at the first light. I panicked, forgot to come to a complete stop at the red light, and cruised right through it. After I took someone’s right-of-way at the next intersection, she instructed me to return to the DMV. It was less than a minute into the test. I didn’t even get a score. I was totally bummed, because what was supposed to be an exciting event turned into a painful trial. My dad wouldn’t let me just pout about it; over the next two weeks, he and I practiced driving that minivan around every day, so that when I finally returned for my second try (with the same lady!), I scored 100 on the test. Seriously, that test is a piece of cake! The pain of the first test and the practice I went through to grow from it worked together to make me a whole new driver.

a note from the author

Life Choices student Guide


Now, you may be dealing with some much bigger issues than a failed driver’s test, but the principle is still the same. We can choose to pout about our issues and carry them through life, or we can allow God to give us a fresh start and move past them. The journey you are about to begin is going to transform you, but it’s also going to take faith—faith to be real, not only with God but with yourself and the others in your small group…faith to deal with some painful issues that might hurt a bit…faith to open your Bible every day, even when you’ve got soooooo much homework. The cool thing about journeys is that you never know what you will encounter along the way. Andrea says in the movie To Save A Life, “There’s different kinds of dirt.” The truth is, we’ve all got tough stuff in our lives, but if we have faith, God will take us on a journey to becoming more whole and healthy. I’m so proud of you for taking this journey. Are you ready? Don’t forget your seat belt.

(screenwriter of To Save A Life)

7


how  to  use  your

student  guide


How to Use Your Student Guide One of the main goals of this study is to help you connect with God in a very real way. This can be tough at first, but be encouraged as we get started: God doesn’t put undue pressure on your daily devotional time with Him. You may not be able to remember very many specific meals that you’ve eaten in your life, but certainly if you had skipped too many of them, you’d be sick or dead right now. Sure, God wants to speak to you every time you read Scripture, but a habit of opening your Bible every day won’t just teach you the Word itself—it gets you hanging out with the Creator of the Universe. You’ll develop a real relationship with Him: You’ll hear from Him, respond to Him, and find out how He wants you to handle the crazy stuff in your life. It’s the relationship you develop with God that literally makes the difference between being spiritually alive or spiritually dead. This Student Guide will provide the framework for your group meetings. Between meetings, the guide offers six devotionals designed to get you reading the Bible and spending time with God every day. There’s even a section to help you challenge and teach the rest of your group! If you’re doing Life Choices by yourself or with some friends, this will be your main instruction book, as well. It includes directions for when to watch videos and how to get the most from your study. This study will practice the five “Rs” that will allow God to feed you through His Word:

relax We live in a really noisy world. There are so many voices running through our brains (parents, teachers, coaches, significant others, youth leaders) that it’s easy to miss what God’s trying to tell us. So before you open your Bible to begin your study, close your eyes and just relax. Take a couple deep breaths and ask God to remove all of the other voices in your head so you can hear what He has to say. Don’t rush through this time; take at least a minute or two to relax and focus on the study.

how to use your student guide

Life Choices student Guide


read This is probably stating the obvious, but in this section of the study, it’s important to actually look up and read the Bible text for the day. Have a pen with you and underline whatever stands out to you and make a note of anything you don’t understand. Read slowly. If you seem to regularly have trouble understanding what the text says, find a different Bible translation that makes more sense to you. There are plenty of different versions of the Bible available (you might try the NIV, NLT, or The Message versions). If you don’t have a Bible that’s easy to read, ask a leader from your church—they would probably love to give one to you.

react When you have a talk with a friend, you want them to react to what you say; it shows they’re listening and that they care about you and what you’re telling them. God is the same way. He loves to speak to us personally, and then He looks forward to hearing what we think about what we’re learning from Him. Failing to somehow respond to what you read is a sure-fire way to numb your heart to God’s voice. So, in this section of the study, you will have a chance to record your thoughts about that day’s devotional.

relate The goal is not really for you to go through the Bible—it’s more important for the Bible to go through you. James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourself. Do what it says.” So this section of the study gives you the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in a practical way.

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respond The primary way God speaks to us is through the Bible; the primary way we talk back to Him is through prayer. This section is your chance to thank God for what He’s taught you that day and to ask for strength to live it out. Some people find it very helpful to write their prayers out, and there’s space provided in this section for this.

glow Matthew 5:16 reads, “Let your light shine before men that they might see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.” When we read the Bible every day and spend time with God, He can be a light through us. This section will help you think about how you can “glow” with God’s light and live out the week’s lesson in your world. To be honest, one of the goals of this devotional is to show you that you don’t need a devotional! Once you know how to study the Bible for yourself, it’s all you’ll really need. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any doubleedged sword…it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” This means that when you read your Bible, God is actually speaking to you in that moment—and if you open your heart, He’ll change you. The Student Guide will simply walk through the five “Rs” in order to help you hear God’s voice and live out what He tells you to do. Hopefully, long after this devotional study is over, you will have learned great tools and study methods that will help you grow from God’s Word for the rest of your life!

how to use your student guide

Life Choices student Guide


Starting the Life Choices Study ••Meet with your youth ministry or small group on a weekly basis to watch the To Save A Life movie clips, listen to the teaching, answer the discussion questions, and pray with your group members. ••This guide provides space to answer the group discussion questions each week, take notes on the message, and record prayer requests. ••If you’re doing Life Choices by yourself or with a few friends, pick one day a week to watch the To Save A Life movie clips and video message. You can look in the Small Group Leader’s Guide in your DVD-based Study Kit for some additional instructions. ••After your group meeting (or after you’ve watched the movie clips and video instruction), complete one devotional each day. These devotionals will help you practice Relaxing in God’s presence, Reading a Bible passage, Reacting to what you read, Relating to God’s Word by applying it to your life, and Responding to God in prayer. ••On the day of your group meeting or video study, complete the weekly Glow section to record your experience with the week’s devotionals. This section will also prepare you to offer a challenge or inspiring story to your group.

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the  real

authors


The   R eal   Authors As we study the very relevant issues in Life Choices, we’re going to look in the Bible at stories of people who were just like us. They laughed like us, went through pain like us, and even had doubts and questions about spiritual things…like us. Here is a little background on some of them:

King David:

own heart.” an after God’s m “a as n ow are time. David was kn giants in his sp d an s, ar be , could play He killed lions t brothers and gh ei of st ge un Psalms, He was the yo of the book of lf ha t os m al rote the harp. He w r from perfect. but was also fa

King Solomon:

He was the son of King David and the richest and wisest man ever to live. He wrote Proverb s, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. He had a very intim ate relationship with God but definitely knew wha t it was like to live with regret. He made a lot of mistakes but is living proof that God can redeem our worst decisio ns in life.

the real authors

Life Choices student Guide


Apostle Paul:

Paul was prob ably the most passionate Chr born. He wen istian ever t from being a persecutor of someone willin C hr istians to g to die for Je sus. He wrote half of the book more than s in the New T estament (man prison cell), pl y from a anted tons of churches, and that among al w ou ld say l sinners, he w as the worst. a lot of pain bu He carried t helped a lot of people.

Jesus: The Son of God and Creator of the Universe who came down to the earth to die for your sins. He saved mankind and desperately wants a relationship with you. (He doesn’t really need much more of an introduction than that.)

17


W e e k

1


LIFE IS

tough

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” —James, the brother of Jesus (James 1:2–4)

Discussion Notes & Prayer Request

 MOVIE TIME Use this section to record your thoughts about the Week 1 movie clip from To Save A Life. Personal Study: If you’re doing Life Choices on your own or with friends, you can find the Week 1 movie clip on the Life Choices Resource DVD.

1) What stood out to you in this movie clip? Explain your answer.

2) Is there anything in this clip that applies to your life? If so, how does the scene reflect your own experiences?

see pages 22 & 23 for the “my life” worksheet.


Week 1 Day 1

This Week's Message

2

As you listen to this week’s message, use this section to take notes.

3

Personal Study: If you’re doing Life Choices on your own or with friends, you can find the Week 1 movie clip on the Life Choices Resource DVD.

4

1) To whom was James writing this letter? 

5

6

2) In this passage, “consider” means to 

.

3) Joy is a

while happiness is a 

.

4) It’s not

you will face trials, it’s

7

you will

face trials.

5) God tells us to be joyful when we’re 

of trials, not when the trials are 

.

6) When we choose

in our trials, we come out

of them looking more like

.

7) When we don’t have the strength to make the right choice, that’s when we need 

.

21


My Life The truth is that all of us have tough issues that affect our lives. Look at the issues listed below; are there any that currently apply to your life? Choose one or two issues, and then fill in the rest of the sentence.

1)  Family Issues: Living in my family is tough right   

 now because …

2)  Friend Issues: Life is tough with my friends   

 right  now because …

3)  G uy/ Girl Issues: Life is tough with my  boyfriend / girlfriend because …   

MY  LIFE  WORKSHEET

Life Choices Student Guide


4)  Identity Issues: I'm struggling with who I   

 am because …

5)  Addiction Issues: Life is tough because I just   

 can't seem to stop …

6)  Forgiveness Issues: I'm having a hard time   

 forgiving someone because …

7)  Stress Issues: Life feels so overwhelming   

 because …

8)  Life Issues: Life is just plain tough right   

 now because …

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DAY 2

identify the distractions in your RELAX Take a moment toGod to help you hear His voice. head. Take a deep breath. Ask

r ea d Proverbs 24:10, 10:9, 11:27, 13:20, 14:14, 20:22 Author: Solomon As you read these passages, underline in your Bible any words or phrases that stand out to you.

REACT In a sentence or two, summarize what these verses tell you.   What stands out to you from these verses? Why do you think it stands out?  

Week 1: Life is Tough

Life Choices student Guide


Week 1 1

Note: Solomon was a guy who seemingly had everything going for him, and

with despair. yet in the Bible (in Ecclesiastes), he shares how even he struggled Solomon, like Instead, pain. from � “graduate really never we that is truth The it. by ned strengthe be to we need to learn how

Day 2 3

. How have you seen these verses to be true in your life? Be specific

4

 5

 6



7

RELATE : In what specific way could you apply at least one of these verses to your life?

( Proverbs 24:10, 10:9, 11:27, 13:20, 14:14, 20:22 )

    

RES P OND : Spend some time thanking God for these truths you read today. Confess to Him the times in your past when you have not lived out these truths. Ask God for strength to actually do what you feel challenged to do from the verses.

25


DAY 3

distractions from your head. Close your RELAX Clear the waiti ng to have a conversation with you. eyes and imagine God

r ea d Job 1:13–22

Author: Unknown

As you read this passage, underline in your Bible any words or phrases that stand out to you.

REACT In a sentence or two, summarize what this verse tells you.   the “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the name of means? prayer Job’s think Lord be praised.” (v. 21) What do you  

Note: It can be easy to let our expectations (what we hope for) turn into a feeling

it’s easy to view of entitlement (thinking we deserve something). When that happens, ons stay just what trials as God letting us down. Instead, we need to let our expectati God, because we they are…expectations. Then when bad stuff happens, we don’t blame grateful extremely become we Plus, with. begin to life were never promised a perfect when God brings us blessings of any kind.

Week 1: Life is Tough

Life Choices student Guide


Week 1

Reread verses 21–22. When your life gets difficult, do you find ? yourself responding like Job? If not, how do you normally respond Why do you think you respond that way?

1

2



Day 3



4

Why do you think God included the story of Job in the Bible?

5



6



7

RELATE : Step into the story for a moment and write down how you would feel if you were Job. ( Job 1:13–22 )   

Now think of a difficult day either from your past or that you are dealing with presently—can you pray Job’s prayer for yourself? Do it.

RES P OND : Spend some time thanking God for Job’s example. Tell God about the times when it’s especially hard for you to respond well to trials. Ask Him for strength to do what you feel challenged to do from the story.

27


DAY 4

g

ents to identify what’s distractin RELAX Take a few mom the volume of these distractions in

you. Ask God to turn down per as He speaks to you. your mind so that you can hear His whis

r ea d John 11:1–44 Author: Apostle John (one of Jesus’ 12 Apostles) As you read this passage, underline in your Bible any words or phrases that stand out to you.

REACT In a sentence or two, summarize what these verses tell you.   What does this story teach you about God?  

Note: Notice that Jesus knew from the beginning that He was going to raise Lazarus

God can see the from the dead, yet in verse 35 we read that “Jesus wept.” Even though love him (Romans big picture and knows that all things work for the good of those who Even in our toughest 8:28), He still hurts with us while we are in the middle of our pain. alone. never truly are we , moments

Week 1: Life is Tough

Life Choices student Guide


Week 1 1

RELATE :

2

Step into the story for a moment and write down how you would feel if you were Mary or Martha. ( John 11:1–44 ) 

3 Day 4 5

 6

 

7

Now think of a struggle you’re currently facing—what do you now know is true about God’s involvement in your life based on the passage you read today?   

RES P OND : Thank God for this story and that He loves bringing people, families, dreams, and friendships from death to life. Confess times when you have doubted that God was really at work in your pain. Ask Him for strength to actually do what you feel challenged to do from the story.

29


DAY 5

eyes

ns from your head. Close your RELAX Clear the distrths.actio Imagine God turning down the volume and take a few deep brea hear what He has to say. of these distractions for you, so you can

r ea d 2 Corinthians 4

Author: Apostle Paul

As you read this passage, underline in your Bible any words or phrases that stand out to you.

REACT In a sentence or two, summarize what these verses tell you.   What does this chapter teach you about God?  

Note: Paul is, perhaps, the most famous Christian in history, yet in his letters he shared

that, “The amount that he was constantly enduring trials. I heard a pastor one time state pain you are willing of amount the to related directly is you give to able is God of ministry shipwrecks, and beatings, prison, faced he Paul; of true to endure.” That was certainly rejection while helping firmly establish the Christian church.

Week 1: Life is Tough

Life Choices student Guide


Week 1

ly, Paul doesn’t promise that we won’t have trials sometimes (actual else. he says the opposite), but he does promise us something What is it?

1

2



3



4 Day 5

RELATE :

6

Make a list of the current trials in your life. Now make a list of the ways you can see God renewing you day by day (e.g., hope, encouragement, purpose, conversation with a friend, small group, etc.). ( 2 Corinthians 4 )

Trial

7

God’s Renewal

RES P OND : Ask God to help you “fix your eyes” on the second list—on how He is renewing you in your life. Thank Him for the second list. Ask Him for strength to be able to actually do what you feel challenged to do from the passage.

31


DAY 6

identify the distractions in your RELAX Take a momth.entAsktoGod to help you hear His voice. head. Take a deep brea

r ea d Matthew 26:36–46

Author: Apostle Matthew

As you read this passage, underline in your Bible any words or phrases that stand out to you.

REACT What stands out to you from this story?   What does this scene teach you about God?  

Note: I’ve visited the Garden of Gethsemane, and while there I was struck by its perfect

Jesus was more than view of the city of Jerusalem. While praying in this hillside garden, Sometimes, the trials in aware of what was coming the next day, yet He didn’t run from it. they are God wanting our life are more than God wanting to do something in us—instead to do something through us.

Week 1: Life is Tough

Life Choices student Guide


Week 1

How does it make you feel, knowing that we have a God who truly understands what it’s like to be stressed out and feel alone?

1



3



4

2

5

RELATE :

Day 6

Step into the story for a moment and imagine what it must have been like for Jesus, in His worst moments, to see His friends repeatedly fail him. Do you know anyone who might be feeling the same way? What can you do to let them know they are not alone…today? ( Matthew 26:36–46 )      

RES P OND : Spend some time thanking God for understanding our loneliness and pain. Tell Him about the times when you have “fallen asleep” when others really needed you, and ask for forgiveness. Ask Him for strength to be able to actually do what you feel challenged to do from the story.

33

7


DAY 7

distractions from your head. Close your RELAX Clear the waiti ng to have a conversation with you. eyes and imagine God

r ea d Psalm 42

Author: David

As you read this passage, underline in your Bible any words or phrases that stand out to you.

Rewrite the psalm in your own words, verse by verse. When you finish, read your prayer out loud to God.

Verse 1 Verse 2

Verse 3 Verse 4

Week 1: Life is Tough

Life Choices student Guide


Week 1 1

Verse 5

2

3

4

Verse 6

5

6

Verse 7

Day 7

Verse 8 Verse 9 Verse 10

Verse 11

35


week

one

GLOW

’ve learned from God this past How have you lived out what you your life? Tell at least one story in week? Where did God show up through your devotionals, or of what God taught you this week what you’re learning. what happened when you applied      

How can you shine with God’s ligh t by challenging, encouraging, or inspiring the rest of your group with what God is teaching you? What things are you learning that you hope others in your group are learning, too? What thin gs do you think they most need to know? What could you do together as a group to live out what God is teaching you?      

Week 1: Life is Tough

Life Choices student Guide

Life Choices Student Guide  

This five-week study will help teens deal with issues like peer pressure, divorce and self-injury. The weekly sessions encourage interaction...

Life Choices Student Guide  

This five-week study will help teens deal with issues like peer pressure, divorce and self-injury. The weekly sessions encourage interaction...