PSHE Association warns against Ch4 ‘My Self-Harm Nightmare’ documentary

Channel 4

PSHE Association warns against using Ch4 ‘My Self-Harm Nightmare’ documentary in class 

The PSHE Association is deeply concerned about the content of the ‘My Self-Harm Nightmare’ Channel 4 documentary aired on Wednesday night which contains graphic depictions and description of self-harming, and therefore could be a ‘trigger’ to young people vulnerable to self-harm. We urge against any school using the documentary in the classroom for this reason.

Our Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Advisor, Dr. Pooky Knightsmith, is a leading expert in this field and comments that:

“You should never go into too much detail about the technical details of self-harm or eating disorders as this could trigger unhealthy responses in any vulnerable individuals in your group. Talking about specific methods of self-harm can be instructive to vulnerable students.

These suggestions may also be taken on board by any students who are currently harming.

Graphic or extreme images of self-harm and eating disorders should also never be shown for the following reasons:

  • they act as a barrier to seeking help: if someone who self-harms sees images of more severe cases they are likely to feel that their own self-harming is not severe enough to be taken seriously/they’re not yet ‘doing it well enough’
  • they provide a target to be achieved, or a bench mark to strive to reach for those who are vulnerable to, or who are already self-harming or suffering from disordered eating.

Teachers cannot know who will be harming in their class but should assume that someone in the class is currently self harming, has self harmed in the past or is at risk of doing so in the future and should therefore exercise extreme caution.”

 

The Association is due to launch guidance this week on teaching about mental health and emotional wellbeing which will provide advice to schools on how to address these issues appropriately. The guidance will be free to download from: www.pshe-association.org.uk/emotionalhealth.

Easter Egg Surprise assembly

Fish Fingers

Yesterday I did an Easter assembly at our local Infant school focussed on different foods:

Aims

To explain the ‘surprise’ of the Easter story and encourage openness to being surprised.

Preparation and Materials

  • You will need some hot cross buns, a large Easter egg, an empty packet of fish fingers and four eggs – two fresh and two hard-boiled (don’t forget to mark them so you can tell which is which!).
  • Bible reading: John 21:1–14 – I used a Bob Hartman story version. You could ask a child to read this.
  • A large bowl to break the fresh eggs into.
  • A damp cloth to clean up any mess!
  • Apron (optional depending on how messy you’re prepared to get – don’t wear your best clothes!).

Assembly

Explain that this morning you have with you some different types of Easter food. Get the children to consider quietly what food they think you have brought.

 

Bring out the hot cross buns. Explain that buns like these have been eaten for hundreds of years, and were particularly popular during holidays like Christmas and Easter. The cross marked on them is a reminder of Jesus’ death on a cross, so eventually they became associated with Good Friday.

 

Bring out the big Easter egg. Talk about how much we all enjoy eating chocolate at Easter. Explain that in the past, eggs were considered a luxury food, so during Lent people used to give up eating them. (Remind the children, particularly if you have spoken to them about this during Lent, that on Shrove Tuesday eggs would have been used up in the pancakes.) Eggs also remind us of new life, and spring. Some people also say that the inside of a chocolate egg reminds us of Jesus’ empty tomb.

 

Ask if anyone expects to receive (or has already received) any eggs this Easter? Ask if anyone knows why eggs have come to be associated with Easter? Then say you want to use some eggs to demonstrate something about the story of Easter. Put on your apron if you have one.

 

Pick up the fresh eggs and make a show of ‘accidentally’ breaking them in your hand (be prepared for the egg to go everywhere, which will add to the effect). Hopefully the children will laugh, at which point say, ‘If you think that’s funny, you do better – catch!’ and throw one of the hard-boiled eggs to one of the older children. For added fun you can throw another before the children have time to register that they are hard-boiled. (The usual health and safety warnings apply here: throw low and gently and preferably to a good catcher if you know one.)

 

Explain that you threw the eggs to demonstrate something about the Easter story. The Easter story is all about the unexpected, about a surprise.

 

Read or tell the story of how the women, Jesus’ friends, went to the tomb and found it open and empty. They were shocked and surprised to find the body not there.

 

Say that we have all been expecting Easter (we may have been looking at eggs in the shops). But the first Christians were not expecting Easter at all. They didn’t expect to see Jesus again. Ask the children to imagine that they were friends of Jesus.

 

Jesus was their friend, they loved him. Then they saw him get into trouble with the Roman authorities, and they saw him die. They were so sad that they cried and cried. They thought he had left them for ever. After a couple of days they decided to go to visit his grave. But the tomb was empty! What a huge, amazing, exciting surprise! More surprising and exciting than 100 Easter eggs, or 100 eggs thrown about in an assembly!

 

The last Easter food you have brought is … fish fingers! Bring out the empty fish finger packet. A strange choice – do we normally eat fish fingers on Easter Day?

 

No, but we do hear a lot about fish in the stories about Jesus, and one famous story about fish tells of something that happened after Jesus came back to life.

Read, or paraphrase, John 21.1–14. Jesus appeared to his disciples and cooked them a breakfast of fish on a barbecue. This was the third time he appeared to his friends after he had died. They were so excited that he was alive again.

 

End by talking about how at Easter, Jesus died and came back to life. Christians believe that Jesus is with us now as our friend, even though we can’t see him.

 

Explain that the Easter story shows us how when things seem at their worst, when everything has gone wrong, we can often find signs of new life and new hope – if we are open to being surprised.

Time for reflection

Close your eyes and think of a time when you were unhappy…

Remember what got you through that time…

If there is anything troubling you at the moment try to think of a way forward…

Think of a place where you may find new life and hope…

And think how you could bring new life and hope to someone else who is in need…

Prayer

Loving God, give us open hearts and minds to be surprised by new life and new hope. Help us to bring Easter joy to others, especially to those who are sad or in need. Amen.

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Egg on your head – Easter assembly

Egg on head

Here’s my favourite assembly that I do each year – feel free to use and adapt:

 

PREPARATION: One egg, towel, plastic sheeting/black sacks, a large chocolate Easter egg. You also need a willing teacher who is prepared to look like they will have an egg cracked on their head – the more senior or precious they are about their hair the better!

 

This assembly works best when done by two people, where one of you is prepared to be the volunteer who does actually have an egg cracked on their head. It can be done as a one-person assembly but you will need another teacher or trusted pupil to crack the egg on your head at the end.

 

INTRODUCTION

If possible as the pupils are coming into assembly give a class worth of pupils a piece of paper with the question “What is love?” on it, and pens or pencils to scribble down their thoughts.

 

Welcome the students and explain that this assembly will be exploring the idea of love at Easter. Ask: ‘I wonder if anyone can tell me what love is?’ Field the various responses and if you have given out the question to a class prior to the assembly share some of their answers.

 

Say, sometimes love is giving up something so that you can help someone else. For example, you may give up watching a TV programme so you can help your mum with the housework or dinner, to show her you love her. Or, you give some of your time and effort to raise money for people less fortunate than yourself because you care for them, for example with Comic Relief Red Nose Day.

 

Now, this kind of giving we call sacrifice which means ‘giving up something valuable for something else that’s really important.’

 

ILLUSTRATION

Now to explain a bit more about sacrifice we’ve got a little quiz with a big Easter egg as a prize for the winner and a nasty forfeit for the loser. The winner gets a lovely chocolate egg, while the loser will get an egg on their head – they will get egged!

 

Don’t use pupils for this, but instead prepare a teacher and another adult volunteer to be your partners in crime.

 

Ask them three questions each, easy ones to your volunteer – they of course get the questions right. The teacher is given the impossibly difficult questions – they of course get the answers wrong!

 

Questions:

For the volunteer

  1. What are Easter eggs made of?                                        Chocolate
  2. What colour is chocolate?                                                 Brown
  3. What day of the week is Easter Sunday on?                              Sunday

 

For teacher

  1. When was the first mass produced Easter egg made?            1873
  2. What is the volunteer’s favourite kind of chocolate?
  3. What was the date of Easter Sunday in the 2000?                    23rd April

 

(Ask questions alternatively)

 

As the questioning progresses it is likely that the students will get quite noisy as they see that one of their teachers will get egged. It is important that you ensure that they are listening.

 

At the end, say you are going to egg the teacher as they clearly got all their questions wrong. Make a big thing of giving the large Easter egg to your volunteer and then standing the teacher on the plastic sheeting/black sacks and getting ready to egg them. Encourage the assembly to count down from three for you to break the egg on the teacher’s head.

 

As you go to bring the egg down on their head your volunteer moves the teacher out of the way and steps in to take the egging in the teacher’s place. You carry on oblivious and break the egg on your volunteer’s head.

 

Once this has happened thank the teacher, and give them the large Easter egg, and allow your volunteer to go and get cleaned up.

 

TALK

Explain that sacrifice is a really important part of love. And (name the egged person) suffered a little there, they gave up their nice hairdo so your teacher didn’t have to take the punishment for getting all those questions wrong.

 

Now it’s easy to say you love someone, it’s easy to give someone a hug, and hugging is a part of showing someone you love him or her. But are we prepared to suffer to help others?

 

We’re coming up to Easter, a time when Christians remember the death of Jesus and celebrate His resurrection.

 

Just as, name your egged volunteer, stepped in to take the punishment for the wrong answers from your teacher, we believe that Jesus stepped in and was crucified to take the punishment for all the wrong we do, so that if we chose to follow Him we can be forgiven and one day have eternal life with him.

 

There is a verse in the Bible that says: For God loved the world so much that he gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him may not be lost but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

 

Christians believe that this was the greatest sacrifice anyone has ever made, to lay down his life for the whole world.

 

You will hopefully never be in the place of having to give up your life for someone, but maybe you might think about some sacrifices you could make, to show someone you care or love them.

 

And when eating your chocolate Easter eggs, perhaps you might remember the Christian message behind Easter, that of Jesus giving up His life for us all.

Exams are ruining teenagers’ lives

Exam pupils 1

Emma Jacobs is studying for her A-levels. She is an aspiring journalist and occasional slam poet. She blogs here and tweets @ESophieJ.  Yesterday she wrote a fantastic article on how exams are ruining teenagers’ lives:

Spring is the start of a period of intense pressure for 16-year-olds taking GCSEs. Schools push their more academic pupils in order to score well in league tables. At my comprehensive school, many peers took more than 10 GCSE subjects in one summer. Some had been encouraged to take exams a year early and were then enrolled on AS-levels alongside the GCSEs.

The school day, with travel, can easily stretch from 7.30am until 5pm, and then extra work starts as soon as you get home. A 14-hour day is not unusual in the run-up to exams. There is little or no time for exercise or fresh air. Levels of stress, clinical depression and anxiety are high, and up to one fifth of my contemporaries are said to be self-harming. Eating disorders remain a distressing problem and increasingly sufferers include young men. Some schools recognise the high levels of anxiety by having strategies like “time out” for those who cannot get through an exam without a panic attack, but I see little evidence of strategies being put in place to mitigate the stress before it becomes clinically debilitating.

Not only do exams put a strain on young people’s mental health, their physical health also suffers. For A-level students all-nighters are standard and many then survive a full day of school on caffeine alone. Within my friendship group, on any given night one person is awake texting about how they’re up during the early hours finishing an essay or cramming for a test. Arguably the texting and distractions we have on our phones are part of the problem, but they are part of our world and it’s not as easy as adults think to just turn them off (I notice that adults who advise turning off extraneous screens are often rather wedded to their own devices).

After over ten years of full-time youth work I have never seen young people (and their teachers) under more pressure than they currently are.  Not only does it have a profound impact on physical and mental health it also places a challenge at the door of the church as it seeks to disciple young people.

Is more coursework the solution to this problem or does this not merely keep the high levels of pressure going for a longer period of time causing even more of a problem?

Any ideas?

Easter Assembly – Hidden Meanings

Easter - Hidden Message of Easter

My favourite Easter assembly is the egg on your head assembly, but having done this at our local special educational needs secondary school I needed a different Easter assembly.  Lacking time to plan I turned to the fantastic schoolwork.co.uk website where I came across a brilliant assembly on Hidden Meanings.

They provide a script and Keynote and PowerPoint presentations:

You will need:

  • “Hidden Message “PowerPoint/Keynote presentation (see above)
  • Small eggs as prizes
  • A Barbie novelty easter egg (or something equally as exciting!)
  • The Real Easter Egg (see note at bottom of next page)

Introduction:

Welcome the students to their assembly, introduce yourself and say that you’d like to begin the assembly today by talking about easter eggs. Explain that you don’t mean the kind of chocolate easter eggs that you eat. Easter eggs are hidden messages in computer games, art, tv shows and even web sites. Say that before introducing them to some of those hidden messages, you will first have some fun with chocolate easter eggs too.

Easter egg games:

You can show some pictures of classic easter eggs on screen and get the assembly to cheer for their favourite (award the head of year with whichever one they pick!). Then say if they want to win an Easter egg too, they have a chance to do that by seeing whether they can guess the favourite Easter egg of these stars:

  • Justin Bieber: An American easter candy called Peeps (marshmallows in the shape of easter chicks)
  • Adele: Green & Blacks Organic Easter Egg
  • Usher: Cadbury’s Crunchie
  • The Wanted: Cadbury’s Creme Egg

(NB: You will need to control this game well, keep up the pace and award any winners with a small egg)

Hidden message ‘easter eggs’:

Remind students that you were about to show them some examples of easter eggs in movies, art and even computer games. Go on to show what you mean by introducing three examples of easter eggs (pictures on the PowerPoint/Keynote accompany these):

  1. UP (2009): In the part near the end, where Carl and Russel are pointing out red and blue cars, it starts to zoom out. There, in the back parking lot to the left, is the Pizza Planet truck. The Pizza Planet truck has been in every Disney/Pixar film since Toy Story.
  2. Michelangelo’s art: On the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican in Rome, the center of the ceiling is “The Creation of Adam” also know as the “ET” part of the painting. The figure on the right who represents God has a red robe flowing around him and angels surrounding him. This is actually a cross section view of a human brain. The robe forms the outer limit and the feet of God and the angels form the spinal cord.
  3. Call of Duty Modern Warware: After You’ve finished the last level (Game over/The end) the credits come up. What you have to do is to listen through all the credits until the first song ends, then Sgt. Grigg’s brand new rap Song about the COD4 series (you can look it up on YouTube).

Challenge

[Hold up a large classic chocolate egg]: This is the kind of egg most people imagine when we talk about Easter. Choose an egg that’s as silly and frivolous as possible, a Barbie branded egg for example, and ask students to think about whether there could be a hidden message in this egg as well. The answer is ‘no’! This is just a cheesy silly egg, although at least it’s made of chocolate.

Hold up the ‘Real Easter Egg’ * and explain this is an egg that does claim to have a hidden meaning. It’s been made by a company that wanted to make an egg that explained the meaning of Easter for millions of Christians around world. For them, Easter symbolises the belief that Easter brings new hope through the death and resurrection of Jesus. To Christians, it’s one of the most sacred and important moments of the year, especially given their belief that Jesus was seen alive by hundreds of people on Easter Sunday after being crucified on Good Friday. To these Christians, the chocolate egg has often been seen to represent the boulder or stone that was rolled away from the burial tomb where Jesus’ body had been put.

Allow the students reflect on the question on the final slide of the presentation “What might the hidden message of Easter mean for you this year?” and use a moment of silence while they reflect.

Children’s champions

Child Champion

As a children’s and youth worker love this quote! Whether you’re a parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, carer or someone who teaches children – let’s be their champion! Never underestimate the difference it can make to a child’s life when even just one person believes in them.

Why not share this with your volunteer team who are great children’s ‘champions’ with a word of encouragement.

Assembly: New Year, new you!

Vector 2015 Happy New Year background

Here’s an assembly I did on Tuesday at our local secondary special needs school:

Lots of us will have made resolutions, and it is likely that most of us will break them. GMTV asked viewers to email in their new years resolutions. Here are the top 5 that came out of that poll:

  • To lose weight
  • Save money/spend less
  • Recycle/become greener
  • Get fit/exercise more
  • Stop smoking

CBBC on their website suggested that the top 5 new years resolutions would be:

  • To get fit
  • Stop biting my nails
  • Keep room tidy
  • Eat less junk food
  • Start a new hobby

 

Research suggests that around only 12-29% of us will be successful in keeping our resolution.

 

This January along with thousands of others I’ve started trying to get fit. For me this has involved running four times a week at 6.30am. I’m training to do the Southampton half marathon in April.

 

Do you enjoy running? If so, are you more of a sprinter, enjoying running the 100-metres or 200-metres, or a long-distance runner (5-km, half marathon or full marathon)? (Ask for a show of hands for each type of race).

 

The BUPA Great North Run, the world’s biggest half marathon. Each year there are expected to be about 54,000 dedicated runners. Does anyone know how many miles there are in a marathon? Half marathon? (Answer: 26 miles in a full marathon and 13 in a half.)

 

While gym membership is falling, according to the latest research, running has never been more popular than it is now, with more people than ever going running regularly. The most recent quarterly figures from Sport England show that participation in athletics, which includes running and jogging, increased by more than 215,000 to 1.827 million between the 2007/08 survey and the 2008/09 survey. Charity 5-km runs like ‘Race for Life’ have become very popular, to raise much needed funds for worthy causes, including breast cancer research. Marathons, whether full or half, have sprung up in most major towns and cities in the UK, the most recent being in Southampton.

 

As well as a great way of raising money for charity, running has many health benefits for those who take part: it is fun – by releasing chemicals known as ‘endorphins’, it can make people feel happier (mental/emotional health); it is good for the heart (physical health); and training for races teaches discipline and dedication (spiritual health). It is also a good way of making friends (social health).

 

Many people have a life-long goal to run a marathon. Every year many people fulfil that goal after weeks of training and preparation.

 

Many people see life as a race – a clear start, with stages to pass as you run the race of life. Clearly, everyone finishes the race of life – it’s how you behave along the way that will make you loved.

 

There’s something very special and fulfilling about running alongside thousands of other runners in a long-distance running race. This is particularly the case after weeks of long training-runs, often entirely run alone.

 

Paul wrote in the Bible:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

 

Be inspired by your fellow travellers on the journey that is the race of life, and run with perseverance the race that each one of us has entered, and all of us have the potential to win.

 

What you value will dictate how you run, and keep you going in the race of life.  When you feel tired and worn out with the challenges and difficulties that we will all face in life, how will you keep motivated? Keeping our eyes on the prize will help us to keep motivated. You finish a race and win a race by focusing only on the next step. Let God guide you, with good values, relationships and integrity this term, this school year and for the rest of your life’s race.

 

Prayer

Thank you God for being with us on the ‘race’ of life. Help us to get rid of those things that hold us back and run a race of faith, hope and love that pleases you.

Amen.

Average Dad injured 22 times a year by their children!

Dads Dangers

A recent report revealed the average dad suffers 22 injuries a year because of their children! From accidental kicks to the face to bad backs from being a human climbing frame, the wear and tear on Britain’s dads was revealed in a study of 2,000 parents. In fact, the average dad with school-aged children experiences 22 injuries per year.

Results showed that Dad also bashes his shin three times on something the kids have left lying around the house and steps on a toy or plug four times a year on average. More than a third of dads in the South East even felt that to walk across a toy covered floor was the most dangerous aspect of being a parent. While those with cats or dogs can expect to trip over or have the family pet get under their feet a further four times per year. And four times a year dad stumbles on an item of clothing or other belonging that’s been left out, while the dreaded prospect of an accidental hit to the crotch faces men with young children twice a year.

The study also found a fifth of dads have had to take time off work because of an injury picked up after doing everyday activity with the family. In these instances, the average time a dad in the South East was off work was for 10 days, most likely through injury to the back. There’s no letup for dads as just under a third have been headbutted by their young child while a quarter said playfighting with the kids regularly saw them tweak something.

Other areas of parenting where men have had a brush with injury were when having to play goalie kicking a ball around with the kids or when climbing trees with them. And a young at heart one in five picked up an injury doing something to which they confessed ‘I should know better than to attempt at my age’.

New Forest Nightstop needs your help

Homeless - New Forest Nightstop

New Forest Nightstop is the only provider of emergency accommodation for young people aged 16 to 24, who find themselves homeless in the New Forest. There is no other emergency provision; hostels or shelters available in the area, so it is all done through the homes of trained and approved volunteers.

As this area is mainly affluent with a very rural spread, homelessness, as people understand it, goes very much unnoticed. Young people helped by Nightstop are not street-hardened rough sleepers people typically think of in regards to homelessness, but everyday teenagers, suffering a crisis, and in need of help and protection.

New Forest Nightstop quote

 

A team of 26 volunteers Nightstop provide free emergency over – night accommodation, meals, laundry, baths, travel costs, toiletries, start-up furniture, food parcel referrals, startup home energy costs, practical support with benefit claims, housing forms and the progres – sion of their housing case through housing panels, with a multi-agency approach to the best outcomes pos – sible, with the means it has. However, a Nightstop hosts offers much more to a young person; a listening ear, a sense of belonging and trust, a future, protection from rape, drugs, abuse, increased employability, offering security to not only the young person but their education; 69% of young people who stayed in the last year were in education, training or employment.

New Forest Nightstop has just entered its 12th year and has provided over 2,000 nights of safety to vul – nerable young people from local communities. At the moment, there are not enough hosts, particularly in the Hythe and Dibden area, for the number of young people needing help. If you feel you can help then telephone 01425 478391 or email nightstopsupport@cfnf.org.uk

 

Be an action/2015 youth panellist!

action-2015_SETS

Y Care International are asking young people to get involved in action/2015:

Young people need to lead this campaign as they are essential to demanding, implementing and achieving ambitious targets for positive change and more just world. To ensure this happens, we are bringing together committed young volunteers and activists from the UK to lead action/2015’s youth activities in the UK as a part of the action/2015 Youth Panel.

The youth panel will be made up of 18-25 year olds from across the UK who will act as both an advisory panel to those working on the campaign and as advocates of action/2015 itself.

If you are 18-25 and have a passion for global issues then we invite you to join the action/2015 youth panel.

For the action/2015 Youth Panel we are looking for:

  • 18-25 year olds
  • Passion, motivation and an understanding of issues related to ending poverty, inequalities or climate change. We don’t expect experts., but a commitment to furthering knowledge on global issues.
  • Self-assurance and great organisational/ communication skills
  • Availability to meet throughout the year: Attend one 2 hour meeting a month (online and face to face) to dedicate 3 hours a week to action/2015, coordinate and lead your own youth action/2015 activities.
  • Willingness to travel throughout the UK – support for travel costs will be provided

We will be holding Youth Panel training to get panellists up to speed on all the issues of action/2015 on Saturday February 7th – successful applicants will be required to attend this training so keep this date free if planning to apply.

To apply, download our information document and application form.  Please return your completed application form to robbie.cheyne@ycareinternational.org by Monday 26th January 2014 at 10am.

The action/2015 Youth Panel will be made up of 18-25 year old representatives from over a dozen UK charities and so to ensure fair representation, spaces are very limited.

Youth Talk: Supernatural – Spiritual Warfare

Supernatural_youth_157x157

Here’s the talk I gave last night on spiritual warfare to our young people based on material from Open – Life Church’s resources:

We’re starting a brand new series called Supernatural. Tonight we’re going to be talking about how there’s a whole unseen world going on around us every day that we don’t often know is happening. The next week we’re going to talk about how God’s power is over the whole supernatural world and what that means for our lives. Then in week 3 we’re going to answer questions you might have about the supernatural world – angels, demons, God, Satan, zombies.

 

The realm that we can’t see, where God and evil meet, where angels and demons collide and it’s happening all around us, but we often can’t see it.

 

Look at what it says in Ephesians 6:12:

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

 

It’s kind of creepy isn’t it?

 

But what the verse is saying is we’re not fighting against flesh and blood but evil rulers from the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in heavenly places. This is how it looks in our world.

 

Not too long ago I was talking with a youth minister from Southampton who went to a Starbucks and he and his friends met this girl at the Starbucks who they started talking to and they started to discover there were some things that weren’t quite going right in her life. So this youth minister and his friends said it would be a great idea if you could come to church, maybe it would give you some of the hope you need in your life. She looked at them and said “Okay I’ll come and check out church and see what it’s all about.”

 

Sunday rolls around and guess what she doesn’t show up. So they go back to the Starbucks that week and find her and say “Hey we were looking for you, where were you?” She said “Oh I had some stuff going on, I couldn’t make it.” And so they were like “Church is this Sunday too if you’d like to come?” And she said “I will be there, I will be there.”

 

Sunday comes around and guess what happens? Well actually what happens is that they wait for her and she never shows up, and so they go back to Starbucks. “Hey you weren’t at church on Sunday.” She replied “I actually went to church on Sunday but I couldn’t get out of my car, I just stayed in my car.” Think about this, here’s this girl from a physical standpoint siting in her car who can’t or doesn’t go into a physical building made of concrete and wood. It’s a very real world. But from a spiritual world here’s a girl dealing with tormented things in her life, some darkness going on in her life. Shows up at church, a place of worship, where God is glorified and people respond to the creator of the universe and she can’t go in. Real world she’s just a girl and chooses not to go in a building. But from a supernatural point someone dealing with heavy stuff who can not go into a place of worship. That’s what the supernatural is all about.

 

Think about the word supernatural. Think about a hero – maybe someone who saves a life. But a superhero that’s your Batman, Superman, Spiderman – someone who possesses powers that humans don’t have. Supernatural is a place that is above us, bigger than us, great than us and what we can understand. It’s a place where there is a battle going on for your souls, a battle of good and evil to get you to do right or wrong. Have you ever thought about why, why all this?

 

Why not a world where everybody is happy, holding hands and singing kumbya and everything is fine. A world where there is no pain, sickness, death or arguments or fights. Why couldn’t life be all okay?

 

We have to go all okay to the creation of time. There was a moment when God was in heaven with all of the angels and there is this one particular angel, named Lucifer, we know him as Satan or the devil. He was actually an angel at one point, and protected God’s glory and was one of God’s right hand man angels. But Lucifer, Satan became jealous of God – he wanted what God had and wanted to be worshipped and wanted to be the creator of things. So he plans, plots and schemes and was able to rally up a third of the other angels in heaven and says “Let’s try and turn this place upside down” and so there’s this huge battle that takes place in heaven against a third of the angels in heaven and Satan.

 

You know what happens, a third of the angels and Satan don’t stand a chance against God. There is no chance that they can win this battle. So God sends them out of heaven down to earth. And the Bible says that Satan roams around like a lion looking for someone to devour. And that’s why we have spiritual warfare and spiritual battles going on.

 

When we talk about angels and demons and the supernatural world we think it’s all weird. But here’s the thing. Satan’s greatest lie is to convince the world that he doesn’t exist. We just wander around as though everything is fine and dandy, whilst the demons are wreaking havoc in our lives. If we don’t realise this is happening they can do whatever we want and we won’t even know. But if we believe it, and know about it then we can identify those attacks and step in – we can pray , we can be more aware of it.

 

Now I want to clarify it and over spiritualise it. There is a difference between a spiritual attack and consequences. A consequence would be something like this: you know you have a mock exam in a couple of days and you think I’m not going to study, I’ll just see what happens. The teacher gives it back to you with a big F circled at the top of the page – you’ve failed. You can’t say Satan has attacked me, the demons blocked my mind from knowing the answers. No! You’re an idiot and you didn’t study – it’s a consequence of your actions.

 

A spiritual attack – is anything that is true about you, or about God, or God’s plans for your life and you start hearing or believing something different from that. A spiritual attack is anything that challenges your self-worth – if you feel you’re not good enough, if you feel like you don’t measure up, you’re not attractive enough, you’re not talented enough, you’re not clever enough, that no one could love you – that’s a spiritual attack. God says you are good enough, you are talented enough, I have made you for a purpose, I have a plan for your life, I have made you you and I have destined you for great things – that is God’s truth. The rest of that is just spiritual attack in your life.

 

Other spiritual attacks can come in the form of depression – now that in and of itself isn’t a spiritual attack –sometimes you can take care of that in other ways but depression can have a spiritual element. There can be the spiritual attack of worry, stress, and anxiety – some of that leading to cutting and stuff like that. Only caring about yourself and not caring about others or hurting other people because God says don’t worry, have joy, love life and love other people, love yourself and value yourself – that is God’s truth. The rest of that is just spiritual attack,

 

So how do we fight against spiritual attack. Look at what it says in Ephesians 6:12 that we read earlier and continue onwards:

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

 

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armour so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armour of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 

Now at first glance we read these verses and it’s like what! Spiritual armour – belts, swords, shields and stuff like that! You’re telling me that according to this verse we’re supposed to dress up in armour and show up – clink, clink, clink, clink – and your friends are like “what are you doing?” and you’re like “just wearing the full armour of God”, and they’re like “well you look like an idiot!”. That’s not what this verse is saying or about.

 

What this verse is about is about being at peace with who God has made you be, it’s about diving into God’s word and reading your Bible and learning who God has made you to be. When we start to spend time with God we understand how to defend ourselves against spiritual attack. So I want to give you five really quick ways on how to fight it.

 

  1. Believe it’s real and understand it: We’ve talked about this a lot. If you believe it and understand it you can stand and fight against the attacks going on in your life.
  2. Know what truth is: the best way to know what truth is is to read our Bibles and to learn what is true about God, what is true about us. If we understand truth and the lies start coming in we can stand our ground on God’s truth.
  3. Pray against it: there is so much power in prayer that when you feel like you’re being attacked pray against it – God’s power is so strong in prayer.
  4. Worship: worship God. When we worship God it reminds us of who he is and what he has done in our lives.
  5. Talk it out with other people: talk it out with other people as God gave us other people so when we are going through hard times we can talk it out with each other, and pray for one another, and help each other overcome whatever attacks and problems we may have in our life.

 

So let me ask you this question, where are you being attacked in your life? What areas in your life are under attack?

  • Maybe for some of you it’s partying, drinking and hooking up – you do these things because you think it will make you feel better about yourself and want to stop it but you keep finding yourself right in it.
  • For others maybe it’s problems with your friends or crazy situations with your family and as you look around at those situations you know there is something just not right about this.
  • Maybe for you it is in the good enoughs and not good enough, I’m not good looking enough, I’m not clever enough, I’m not talented enough, people don’t like me, I’ll never be talented enough, or popular enough, or attractive enough, whatever that is. Maybe it’s in the not enoughs.

 

So where are you being spiritually attacked right now? I want everyone to close your eyes.

 

Some of you have realised tonight that you are under spiritual attack. There are situations going on in your life and you need God’s help with those. There are all different problems, and spiritual attacks going on, and I want you to realise we as leaders will do whatever it takes to step in and do something about that. If that’s you raise your hand so we can pray for you.

 

Now with eyes still closed there are some of you tonight who never really thought about the spiritual world, let alone angels and demons. You weren’t even sure about God. But tonight something clicked and you felt something stirring inside of you. That’s a supernatural world, God’s presence saying “I’m here for you, I love you and I want to be with you. I want to spend time with you and I want you to know me.” If you’ve never known or accepted God’s love before but tonight it’s got to you. For the very first time you want to accept that Jesus died on the cross for you, there’s a God who loves you, I want you to raise your hand and lets pray for you.