Many of you will be starting school tomorrow. I’ve been thinking about you a lot these last few weeks and how I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes for anything in the world. Not because school is a horrible experience. I loved the social aspect of it! 🙂 The food wasn’t the best…and math really wasn’t my thing. But I still enjoyed it and I’m grateful to have grown up in a place where I could attend school in a (mostly) safe environment and was able to express my identity among my peers. And, of course, to learn. Never underestimate this gift you’ve been given.

That said, school is also a place that holds a lot of temptation. Your true identity will be tested by those same peers. The ones you are hoping will approve of you. We may want to do what’s right, but let’s face it – sometimes it’s just not the coolest thing. Sometimes it makes us the awkward center of attention. The enemy will use this to try and steal your thoughts away on what is good and bring them into something that will ultimately be destructive to everything that you are.

So when you go into the classrooms tomorrow, carry with you these thoughts:

Iron sharpens iron. (Proverbs 27:17) You are surrounded by a core group of kids in your youth group who can encourage, uplift, sympathize, share, teach, laugh, smile, and work alongside you… This is not to be taken lightly. We can allow ourselves to dwell on the petty differences we have or the arguments that take place – or we can tell ourselves that the body of Christ is a body because each piece is unique. Each piece is necessary. We are here to encourage and strengthen each other…to sharpen each other so that, if and when we begin to stumble, the other can help us back up. Whether you like to think so or not, you need these people as much as they need you.

Keep God in your heart. As tobyMac says in one of his songs, “I’ve got a hand full of dreams and a heart full of God.” Hang onto those dreams and keep God in your heart at all times. God’s will is going to be worked through those dreams. We can spend our entire lives searching for that one true purpose and kill an awful lot of moments that can be used for something great. If your heart is full of God and your intent is to glorify Him in everything that you do, He will work through you in ways that you will never see coming. Don’t worry so much about the semantics…just keep Him in your heart, your eyes focused on Him and everything else is going to fall into place.

Be Jesus. Never let a day slip by without taking the opportunity to be Jesus to someone…anyone. If God doesn’t provide you with that opportunity, make it yourself. Something as simple as holding the door for someone and smiling…even if they don’t smile back in return. Keep trying. Keep being Jesus. Remember, that your reward is in heaven. Not here. And you might not see the fruit of what you are doing now, but you will be planting more seeds than you could possibly imagine today.

Watch out for false truth. Keep Colossians 2:8 in the front of your mind, always. “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy…” You are going to see and hear a lot of things that look good to you. That look like truth to you. They’re not. They’re meant to cause you to stumble. They are there to distract you and to captivate your mind in such a way that your eyes are taken off of Jesus. The world is an enticing place and God wired us for worship. Make sure that your worship is reserved for Someone. The One!

And so I will leave you with this: “So, my dear brothers (and sisters), be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

Strive to be Jesus. Strive to use your talents for the Lord. Strive to stand strong when it will, no doubt, be one of the most difficult things you do.

As I said to some of you girls before you left for Mexico, keep this in your heart… Christ in the eye of everyone who sees you. Christ in the ear of everyone who hears you. Christ in the heart of everyone who comes to know you.

Have a great year!