A Teacher’s Advice on Starting the School-Year Well

 

School DoorThe following is advice from my wife (a teacher at a public Middle School), with some elaboration from me (a youth pastor). Hopefully this will prove helpful for students and parents at the beginning of the school-year.

1. Be Organized
It’s the number one thing for success. Even more than being really smart! I’ve seen a lot of disorganized smart kids struggle because they didn’t keep track of projects and assignments. And I’ve seen a lot of organized kids get excellent grades because they were organized and kept on top of their work.

If there’s one piece of advice about school that I’ve learned through experience (high school, college, and grad school) it’s this… you won’t become a good student by accident. 

2. Show grace to teachers who have bad reputations
You don’t want the teachers to hold your reputation against you. Don’t do the same to them. Give them a shot… you might find out that you really get along with him/her! C

The Christian life is one filled by grace. We need to receive it. We need to give it.

If you want to be Salt & Light (Matthew 5:13-16) in your school, then treat your teachers differently than everyone else. Show them respect and give them the grace you’d like to receive.

3. It’s ok to be “the Christian kid”
Be the Christian kid. It’s only awkward if you make it that way. But if you’re confident in who you are in Christ, then own it. Be different. Sure, some people might treat you differently or give you a tough time, but most people will just accept you for who you are if you’ve accepted you for who you are.

The Apostle Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for all who believe” (Romans 1:16). Honestly: are you ashamed, or are you proud of the gospel? Do you get embarrassed when people find out you go to church and youth group? Are you ashamed of Christ, or are you living on purpose to make Christ known?

4. Learn to say “No”
You can’t do everything you want to do. The sooner you learn that, the better. You don’t need to keep playing soccer because you always have. You don’t need to join that club because all your friends are. You don’t need to take that extra AP class. You don’t need to go out with your friends to that movie.

Remember this: every time you say “Yes” to something, you’re saying “No” to something else. You cannot go to the movies and spend all your time with your friends and still have time to get that project done. You’ve put it off long enough. You need to say “No, sorry. I have a project I need to work on.”

You can only spend time once. Learn to say “No” to things because you’ve said “Yes” to more important things. Take some time to figure out what your priorities are, and then choose how to spend your time and energy.

One of our youth leaders is also a teacher, and he added a sixth word of advice:

6. Be a Leader
You can be a leader, or you can be led. Choose to be an influencer. Don’t follow the crowd.

Think about your friend groups and look around, asking, “Who’s leading who?” and “Do I want my friends leading me, or should I be leading them?”

Finally: Remember your worth comes through your identity in Christ, not by your grades or accomplishments. Work hard. Study hard. Be smart. But do those things because you’ve been accepted by God. So many teens do those things in order to prove their worth. You don’t need to do that. Live in the freedom of God’s grace, knowing that you don’t need to live under insane amounts of pressure to perform.

 

EBC Missions Project 2016

What are we doing?
We will be serving widows or families locally. We are still working on identifying families/projects that will be worked on, but they may include: landscaping, painting, or simpler repair jobs. Throughout the week, it is our desire to see students pushed beyond their comfort zone as they are encouraged to take turns leading in different aspects of our projects.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
James 1:27

Why are we staying local?
By serving locally we will be taking care of widows in our church family and demonstrating the love of Christ to our home community. If we are not willing to serve where we are, then why should we go farther away to serve? In fact, if you’ll only “serve” when you’re somewhere new, then you probably aren’t serving at all… you’re just working for the opportunity to go somewhere cool.

Who can participate?
Anyone who was in the high school youth group this year who completes the application form and has an interview with Pastor Mike about their interest in the missions project.

Where will we sleep?
You will sleep at home each night, but return to EBC by 7:00am each morning for devos before heading to our work site.

When do I need to sign up?
Sign up by June 12th (submit enclosed 2016 Summer Missions Team Application & Release Forms & the $150 application fee)

How much will it cost?
Cost will be $400.00 per student. This will cover the cost of team meals and supplies to fulfill our work projects. The $150 application fee will be included, leaving $250/student to be fundraised prior to the missions projects in August.

Do I need to do the whole week, or can I only do one or two days?
It would be best for you to make a commitment for the whole week since we are trying to train and equip you to grow in servant-leadership. We’re doing more than getting stuff done… we’re trying to help you identify your leadership gifts and give you experiences that will stretch you. If there’s one day you cannot attend then we can work that out, but it would be best to have you there for more days than you’d miss.

For more information, please read the Info/Application Packet or contact Pastor Mike. 

Your Life Proves Your Faith

Meet Rick: Rick grew up attending church with his family and still considers himself a Christian even though he doesn’t go to church anymore. He tries to do his work well, is kind to others, and he’s a ton of fun to be around. And while he says he believes the Bible is the “Word of God” he says there are other paths to God and has jumped on the “open and affirming” movement regarding sexuality. If you looked at Rick’s life, you’d see someone who is a good guy, but not much different from anyone you’d meet who does not identify as a Christian. When asked if that’s a problem, Rick sees his similarity to others as a good thing because it shows that Christians are just normal people.

How do we make sense of things when what someone says they believe doesn’t line up with their life? More specifically, what happens when someone claims to be a Christian but the Bible doesn’t seem to have much of a say over their life?

People will always believe your life over your words because your life proves your faith.

Kid Reading Bible Continue reading

Fighting Temptation or Fighting God?

When you’re spacing out in class… what do you think about? When you’re laying awake at night and can’t sleep, what are consumes your dreams: video games, music, your friends, a “friend,” good grades, sports, achievements, or some other fantasy?

Those dreams and desires say a lot about who we are and what we desire.

Mark Twain said, “A human being has a natural desire for more than what he needs.” Whether it’s money, food, pleasure, whatever… we want as much of something as we can get.

But when good things becomes obsessions, they begin to control us. They become obsessions. We can even become prisoners to our own desires. We need to learn to say “No!” to ourselves, keeping good desires within healthy boundaries while refusing to entertain our bad desires which can cause us harm.

The Fireplace
If sex is like fire, then marriage is the fireplace. When fire leaves the boundaries of the fireplace, don’t be surprised if you get burned. See other posts from this conversation: Sex, Intimacy, & Healthy Boundaries, and  Secret Struggles & Building an Army (because no one needs to struggle alone). 

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Secret Struggles & Building an Army

Secrets. We all have them. And we’re tempted to keep them private, hidden, concealed. Secrets feed on our fears.Help Me

“If they really knew who you are, no one would love you anymore.”
“People are going to be so disappointed in you when they find out what you’ve done.”
“Can you imagine if they could read your mind!”

There are things we struggle with in secret which consume us. And we go around, wearing our happy-mask… pretending to be ok. But we’re not ok.

When people ask how we’re doing, we tell them, “I’m fine.” But inside we’re crying out for help.

Whether your secret struggles have to do with mental health, body-image, sexual identity, abuse, addictions, pornography, or any other number of things… you do NOT need to struggle alone! Continue reading

Sex, Intimacy, & Healthy Boundaries

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be having a conversation we’ve named, “The Fireplace.” Here’s the idea: Fire in your fireplace gives light, heat, and it can even cook your food. But when the fire leaves the fireplace, you’re going to get burned. It may not burn down the house completely, but it’s going to cause damage.

Sex is like fire – when boundaries are removed, there is great potential for it to cause harm and damage.

The Fireplace Continue reading

What’s the Big Deal with John 3:16?

There are things our parents say so often we reaction-pic-eye-rolldon’t even hear it anymore. They might to totally right, and what they’re saying could be something worth listening to… but you’ve heard it so many times you’ve tuned it out.

What if your parent is saying it so often because they’ve learned it the hard way?

I think that’s what happens with John 3:16. Unfortunately, it’s so well known that many people miss out on the glorious truth it simply proclaims. It’s an incredible verse to summarize the gospel-message.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

Cross on Bible Continue reading