Back to School Challenge

Hey students, ready or not, it’s back to school time! Some of you are ready and others of you are, well…not so ready. Some of you crazy people braved the crowds last weekend to save a few bucks while others stayed home and laughed at you. Now the joke is on them as I’m sure they are beginning to feel the pain of procrastination (who am I kidding, probably not). No matter what side of the fence you find yourself on, one thing is for sure; things will be changing! But before everything goes crazy and alarm clocks get murdered, I want to just take a few moments of your time and encourage you to do 3 things this upcoming school year.

1. Pursue Jesus
Some of you are already stressing about your grades, sports, your social life, and everything else that you’re involved in at school. Can I offer a suggestion that could potentially save you a lot of stress, tears, and sanity? Simply make Jesus your priority and pursue Him more and more every day! Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. And all these things will be added to you.” Don’t complicate this thing! Simply put Jesus first in your life and all those other details (academics, athletics, band, relationships) will fall into place in His timing.

Oh yeah, and don’t get so distracted with drama this year! Some of you thrive in drama but that’s not something to brag about nor does it honor Jesus. When you are busy running after Jesus, you won’t have much time for drama and all the other shenanigans that accompany middle and high school.

2. Honor Jesus
This year focus on honoring Jesus in 2 main areas: In your Decisions and in your Relationships.

In I Peter 1:15-16, we are instructed to be holy in all our conduct because Jesus is holy. That word holy simply means, set apart or to be different. Contrary to popular opinion, it does matter what you do, what you say, and how you dress. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:20 that we are ambassadors of Christ. That means wherever you go, whatever you say represents our King. Determine to represent Him well. Students, I’m begging you to consider carefully your decisions as they impact so many other people besides just you. It takes years to build your reputation and only seconds to destroy it. Pray each day that God will give you wisdom and He will.

For some of you, this year is going to be incredible as you’re going to meet new friends and maybe even begin a new relationship with that super cute girl or that really hot guy (do you even use that language anymore??). Joking aside…Choose your friends very carefully (Proverbs 12:26). Someone once said, “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future” and there is a lot of truth to that. If your core friend group isn’t bringing you closer to God, it’s time to find some new friends. Now don’t hear what I’m not saying. If all your “friends” are Christian, you need to expand your friend zone a bit to include those that need Jesus. That doesn’t mean you do what they do or go where they go, but they need to see the power of Christ at work in you!

Now about those “special” friendships some of you are praying for (BIG EYE ROLL). Let me just say this, if you’re pursuing any relationship more than your relationship with Jesus, you’re missing it big time. Re-read our first point. If you’re pursuing Jesus and running after Him, you’re not going to be losing sleep on the fact that you don’t have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. In fact, let me give you a little encouragement. It’s usually when you’re not looking at all, that God sends the most amazing people into your life. We are instructed in Proverbs 4:23 to “keep our hearts with all diligence.” Teenager, please guard your hearts. Some of you carry your heart on your sleeve and you’re willing to give to just about anyone who gives you an ounce of attention. Give your heart to Jesus. He will not break it and He will not disappoint you. In fact, He’s never once failed me or let me down. He’s patient, kind, full of love and grace…Seriously, He’s pretty awesome and He’s in love with you (and He’s the only one you can fully trust with your heart).

I will say one more thing and I promise I’ll move on. Guys, that girl you’re dating is someone’s future wife so treat her with respect. Girls, don’t forget who you are and whose you are. You are the daughter of the King. Your heart should be so hidden in God, that a guy needs to seek Him first in order to find you. Princesses wear diamonds. Don’t trade your diamonds for dirt. (P.S. This whole dating talk will be continued soon at Teen Church).

3. Love like Jesus
We make loving people so much more complicated than Jesus did. This year, determine to love those that are easy to love and those that aren’t so easy (Read Luke 6:31-36 here). Jesus spent His time with the kinds of people most of us spend our lives avoiding. He also told His followers that it’s not enough to just look like you love God. In fact, Jesus said we would know the extent of our love for God by how well we loved people (John 13:35).

I get it, some people are just hard to love but those are the ones that so desperately need love. Hurt people hurt people. Those bullies that make life miserable need someone to show them what the love of Jesus looks like. Reach out to those around you this year and show them what real love looks like. Loving people isn’t hard when you’re in love with Jesus. Let His love spill out through you every day so that those around you will find hope and fulfillment that only comes through Jesus. The night before Jesus died, He could have done a lot of things. But the thing He chose to do was wash feet, even the feet of Judas who would betray him a few hours later. If Jesus could stoop down and wash those filthy feet, should we not do the same? You see, many can’t accept Jesus, as He is presented in the Scripture, because He stooped much lower than we’re willing to stoop. That’s why Peter said, “You’ll never wash my feet!” It was beneath Peter’s dignity to wash feet, but not too low for Jesus. May we learn from Peter’s mistake and pick up our towel this year and wash some feet.

Praying for you all this year and can’t wait to see what God has in store for you as we begin a new school year!
Dustin

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