A New Year, A Fresh Start and Important Thoughts To Consider

In less than twelve hours many of you will be back to school and will face some of the most challenging relationships, situations and choices of your entire life.  I think the prospect of a new year with new schedules, teachers and friends is a really hopeful time but too often we don’t consider the ramifications of what our early choices in the year will do to our relationships with others and most importantly, our relationship with God.

You’ll wake up tomorrow and choose what to wear (if you haven’t already), you’ll get on the bus or in the car and head to school hoping to make the best possible impression on the first day.  But while we’ll spend countless hours on clothing, hair, make-up and accessories – what about our attitude and outlook for the year?  Peter writes a letter trying to address tons of different issues and in his advise to wives he says, “Do not let your adorning be external [(only)-emphasis mine] – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is precious (1 Peter 3:3,4).”  The real beauty that lasts and means something in life isn’t what we see on magazine covers or the opinions of critical people trying to fill the gaps in their own life by pointing out issues in others but what God thinks of us.

Three times a year we split our students up based on gender and spend some time talking about various issues that are easier to discuss when we’re in safe environments with just girls or guys.  Leanne Hjort spoke incredibly well this past week, encouraging our girls that in God’s hands our brokenness is the raw material for His masterpiece.  What a great reality for us to consider as school begins again.  Wherever you go and whatever you face, know that the God of the universe is with you and desires to be in a relationship with you that changes everything no matter what happened this summer, last year or ever before.

The other truth I’m praying for in your life this year is a supernatural peace like Paul talks about in Philippians 4:4-7, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” If you’re headed into a hostile environment tomorrow or soon; whether it’s a Christian school, public school or even private, this passage is your lifeline.  The promise that we have from God isn’t that everything is going to be magically better but that He provides peace for us in the midst of problems and that peace guards our hearts and minds, we need that desperately in our day-to-day life.  Paul goes on to talk about how he has learned to live with a lot and little because of this principle of peace and because of it he says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).”  What an incredible hope for this year!  It doesn’t matter what you face or the torment you might have to endure, with God you have what you need to endure and grow through it.

My last exhortation to you before the year begins is that you pray for a few real things.  Not churchy requests you don’t mean anyway but real things; grades you need for the future, a vision of what your life calling looks like, the specific names of people you want to share Christ with and watch God change.  Pray for really big things and write them down…then keep praying for them consistently and passionately.  God is big enough to answer everything you’re asking and He wants to use you as an agent of grace in a lost and dying world.

Don’t start this year without strongly considering God’s plan for you and changes you might have to make now…

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