When I was 5 years old I got glasses for the first time.

Prior to getting them, I couldn’t see the huge E (the biggest letter) on the eye chart (still true today).

In fact, without my glasses I couldn’t see clearly (and still can’t) more than 4 inches away from from my face. Everything else is blurry…really blurry!

I was so excited when I got my glasses. For the first time I could see the world around me clearly.

Of course, my parents were a bit freaked out that they didn’t catch the fact that I was virtually blind for the first 5 years of my life.

But it did explain why I always sat so close to the TV…ha!

For the following 37 years of my life…that was still the case.

My wife got used to me stubbing my toe on the bed and running into walls when I wake up in the middle of the night finding my way to the bathroom..without my glasses or contacts on. Ouch!

A couple of months ago I had cataract surgery in both eyes. Which meant I got a new lens in both my eyes. I can now see clearly without glasses or contacts (but I do need glasses to see up close). So so cool!

When we focus on Jesus, he helps us see things more clearly.

We’re able to view others through Jesus’ eyes…with love, compassion, and generosity.

When we take our eyes off of him, it’s kind of like me without my glasses.

We’re stumbling along in life…in the darkness…blind to what’s really going on around us. Blind to what God is doing in our lives and those around us.

Use this free game in your youth ministry to setup a lesson on “focusing on Jesus”. Enjoy!

– Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth

YOUTH GROUP GAME – PAPER PLATE POWERBALL

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Topic: Focus on Jesus

Bible: Philippians 3:13-14

The 1990’s hit TV show (later re-launched in 2008), American Gladiators, had a game called “Powerball”. In this high energy game, contestants pushed, wrestled, and juked to get their ball in the can before the gladiator tackled them. 

This is a much safer version of that game! 

SUPPLIES

Paint stir sticks (or over-sized popsicle sticks) – enough for each student

Heavy-duty paper plates for each student

Staplers, Tape or Glue (to attach plates to sticks)

4 Trash Cans

10 Red and 10 Blue Balloons

HOW TO PLAY THE GAME

Give every student a paint stir-stick or an oversized popsicle stick, and a heavy-duty paper plate.

Instruct students to staple, tape, or glue the paper plate to the stick leaving enough of the stick out for a handle. This will be their “paddle.”

For the game setup, place 4 trash cans around the room—one in the middle of each wall.

Inflate 5-10 red balloons and 5-10 blue balloons for the game. Be sure to have some extra in case a balloon pops.

Divide students into two teams—Red Team and Blue Team.

When the game begins, each team will use their “paddles” to try and hit their team’s balloon into one of the 4 trash cans.

Place an adult at each trash can to award 1 team point for each balloon that is hit into the can.

After the point is counted, the balloon can be tossed back into the game. It cannot be immediately hit into the same can.

Allow students to play in 5-minute rounds.

You may change the game up by making students lock arms with a teammate.

Another variation may be to have one team on offense and half of the other team be on defense during a round.

This will provide more opportunities for scoring, as the defense will be outnumbered.

Just be sure to give each team an equal number of rounds.

TEACH – FOCUS ON JESUS

After the game, say:

This game was all about getting to the goal, right?

Once you had a balloon near your paddle, you stayed focused until you got it into the can!

There were lots of others trying to hit the balloon—and sometimes they stole it—but you were determined to get to the goal!

We need to have this same passion and determination in our walk with Jesus!

Too often, we’re tempted to just sit on what we know or what we learn about Him, instead of sharing it with others around us.

It’s like we come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, and then we just sit back and wait to go to Heaven when we die.

But, God has called us to a much greater mission than that!

He has called us to use our time on this earth in a way that points others to Jesus and His gift of salvation.

Listen to the way Paul describes this mission that God has given to all of us.

Philippians 3:13-14 says:

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The people Paul was talking to were living in Northern Greece—the place where the Olympics were started.

They would’ve totally understood the picture of a race that Paul was giving.

Paul was reminding them that the full reward of our salvation is when we get to Heaven.

So, until then, we want to continue loving, obeying, and serving God here on earth!

When we come to know Jesus, we receive forgiveness and power to grow in a relationship with Him.

The Bible says that we are a New Creation!

The old you—that was lost in sin and only living for yourself—is gone!

But here is the difficulty for most of us.

Even after we come to faith in Jesus, meaning we are forgiven and saved, we can’t stop thinking about this part of our life over here.

Satan floods our mind with memories of our sins.

Suddenly, our eyes are fixed on all the reasons why we don’t deserve salvation instead of the amazing grace that God has freely given!

At other times, we see this point in our life as being the final goal for everything.

We come to faith in Jesus and then it’s like we just plop down on the couch and wait to die!

We have no idea what is supposed to be next or how we should continue to grow in our relationship with God.

But this is where Paul’s words speak such a great truth for us.

God’s Word says, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

We will never fully realize the benefits of salvation until we die or Christ comes back.

The fullness of salvation will be revealed in Heaven as we stand before the throne.

But there are so many ways that we can experience glimpses of Heaven here on this earth.

When we’re pressing onward and upward toward the life Christ has called us to live, then we can see His Gospel spread and His will being done here on the earth.

My challenge for you is this: Don’t be content. Don’t be happy just sitting on the sidelines and waiting to one day to enjoy the benefits of salvation.

Instead, press onward and upward—fixing your eyes on Christ, growing in the Word, asking the Spirit to produce fruit in your life, and sharing the Gospel with others.

Like a runner who lunges toward the finish line, keep moving toward the prize that God has set in front of us in Christ.

End in prayer.

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