I'm grateful for another new school year of serving, guiding, and loving on your students in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Last week's launch was so much fun - and thank you to those of you who were able and willing to join us. My desire is that you, as parents, are able to connect with and encourage each other as part of this ministry. To those of you more "seasoned" parents, come in as you drop off or pick up your students, meet a few of our newer parents - it goes a long way!

As we introduced last week, our first teaching series for 2019-2020 will be on the Spiritual Disciplines (Pursuing Closeness with God). Our goal is to introduce or remind students of these beneficial, good habits of spiritual focus, re-centering, study, and service. Each week we'll discuss what God's word says about these various disciplines, why they are important, and give students some practical steps or methods in which they can try these on their own. Along the way we'll be reminding students that these disciplines do not earn their salvation, but if God is a good, loving Father who wants a relationship with us, then how are we growing and developing that relationship? These disciplines are not something we can do perfectly, but with faith and grace we can pursue a closeness with God and encourage one another in this process - we hope you enter into these conversations at home!

Tonight we are kicking off with a couple of disciplines rooted in the Bible: reading, studying and meditating on God's word. We will be encouraging students to consider how they are engaging with the Scriptures, not just the quantity of their Bible intake, but also the pace and depth of how they're reading it. The focus will be on these ideas of Bible Study (taking time to make note of words, themes, structure, cross-referencing within the Bible, etc.) and Bible Meditation (taking time to let the truths we unearth in God's word to take root, to absorb and chew on what we read).

These topics could really be separated as individual topics and - as you'd expect - more time to practice and consider various methods wouldn't be a bad thing! As we try to appropriately summarize and equip students in these disciplines, we are hopeful that you reinforce these efforts at home. Again - the goal is not to check off a box or by any means add burden to your students as they start a new school year. We all know making time to pursue God is worthwhile, especially for young adults who are seeking a faith of their own, who need to develop good spiritual foundations, and we want to prepare them for a life of following Christ on their own time.

Students will have a hand-out with some key points of tonight's lesson along with a portion of Psalm 119 to continue studying and meditating on. Feel free to follow-up on that with them, ask how their small group time went, or what specific way they plan to engage God's word in the next week in response to our time together. Be honest about your own interactions with the Bible - what makes that easy or challenging for you? What are you currently reading? How or when do you most easily connect with God's word?

We are grateful for your partnership, parents. We are praying for you as we long to point these students to Jesus in every way possible. Stay tuned, keep us updated on ways we can serve your students and family well, and continue to pray for us!

Michael PanyarD