10 things to remember before going back to school

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The other night, I was at a youth group with some friends, and the leader did an *awesome* overview of things he wished he knew in high school about heading back to school each year. And they were things that really hit home, for me.

His talk with us helped me so much, I just had to share with everybody 🙂

This is a combination of what he said, and my own thoughts ::grin::

   {how to interact with other people}

1. we need our brothers & sisters in Christ

We can be there to encourage, support, and build up one another, and to keep each other accountable. But this isn’t saying to form these “holy huddles” and exclude other people, or be rude to our non-Christian friends. We should still reach out to other people. But it’s soo beneficial to us to be around those who inspire and encourage each other to pursue God with all our hearts, and share the gospel with others.

2. love people well

This is the foundation for how we treat people who cross our path: showing Christ-like love. Even in the little things, to show others you care, like listening to them, talking with them, which leads to the next point …

3. befriend those who need a friend

They’re everywhere. They’re the ones sitting alone in the cafeteria, the ones by themselves in a corner, the little wallflowers that most people overlook, or who some ignore. I think this is something we can often forget to do (well, at least for me), but Christ was friends with the unpopular, the outcasts. (John 4: 4-26, 8:2-11, etc.)

4. our teachers aren’t our enemies

Our teachers are there to help us! And there’s nothing wrong with befriending them 🙂 I’m very blessed to have teachers who are all Christians, but I know that isn’t the case with everyone. If they’re not Christians, you can still pray for them and show them Christ’s love. And show them a lot of respect. Teachers really appreciate that 🙂

5. our enemies aren’t our enemies

Now this may seem kind of strange, but it’s true. We should try to be careful not to go out of our way to make enemies. If there’s someone we just *can’t* get along with (which definitely does happen), we should love them, pray for them, and (this probably will sound even stranger, haha) also ask God to bless them. That’s, at least, what helps me if I am having a hard time getting along with someone ::grin::.

I’ve shared this story before, but it fits this point perfectly. And anytime I have a hard time forgiving someone, or loving them, I remember what happened to Corrie ten Boom. Here’s an amazing testimony that shows some powerful love & forgiveness …

“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear.

It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.

It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. …’

The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947.

People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.

“And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

“Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’

And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?

But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

“ ‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me.
‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’
And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us.

‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’

I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too.
Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.

‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’

For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then…

But even so, I realized it was not my love. I tried and did not have the power. It was the power of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Romans 5:5… “because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.” “

~ from Corrie ten Boom in Tramp for the Lord

{how to carry on}

6. excel & praise God

Some people are good at sports. Others are the straight A’s student. Some people have the mind of Albert Einstein, and others the mind of Jane Austen. Or something. Whatever we’re good at, we should most definitely pursue it! But instead of doing it for our reputation, we should do it for God’s.

7. make school a better place

There are so many ways to go about this. Standing up for what’s right. Sharing the gospel (without shoving it down people’s throats). Community service. And even just being … happy, and a joy to be around. My Uncle Jimmy always brings smiles to people’s faces whenever he walks through the door. He is *so* friendly, and nice, is never negative, and is always genuinely interested in what other people are saying.

And we should know that, whatever we do, concerning school, the way we act and behave should benefit our school, not hurt it.

And, really, we can make your school a better place by just following the points we’ve listed thus far. 🙂

8. pray for our schools

We can pray for teachers, our Christian friends, non-Christian friends, the staff, anything. The power of prayer should never be underestimated. Maybe pray that God will work in their lives, and draw them to Himself? Or pray that we will be a light to those around us?

9. invite people to church

You know that guy who probably believes there is a God out there somewhere, but hasn’t fully committed his life to Christ? Or that girl who wants nothing to do with God at all? Maybe, after some thought and prayer, we could welcome those people to church (in a non-shoving-down-their-throat kind of way).

10. be a godly example

As Ricky said, “Be the kind of person who works hard & loves well.” (I love that.) Stand up for what’s right, and stand up for others, come what may. Show love & respect to all, including the outsiders.

But really the entire basis of doing all these things is this: fostering a Christ-like, sacrificial love for others.

And this isn’t some kind of “legalist list” that we *have* to follow in order to be a “good Christian student”, but they are good things to strive for, and they’re good things to remember (and may come in handy) for this next school year.

And I loved how Ricky summed up this message, by saying this (or something like this. I hope I wrote it down right.),

“All these things can flow only from a heart close to Jesus, and when we have a close, abiding relationship with the Father.”

Amen?

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cinnamon coffee cake bread & some goings on

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This bread turned out really super-dee-duper good. I enjoyed a couple pieces of it this morning with some hot coffee 🙂

(Now that’s my kind of morning.)

ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 heaping tablespoons ground cinnamon

directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with non stick spray. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl and set aside. Mix the buttermilk and vanilla in a measuring cup and set aside. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl and set aside. In a bowl cream the butter and sugar together and then add in the eggs one at a time. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix to combine, then add 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat this and end with the flour. Pour 1/3 of the batter into the prepared pan and top with 1/3 of the cinnamon mixture, repeat so that the final layer of cinnamon mixture is the topping on the bread. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

I promise I’ll have a regular post soon! Unfortunately, we’ve encountered a few *ahem* computer issues, one of them being unable to download any pictures from my camera onto here. ::sigh::

But I will be writing here pretty soon 🙂

Blessings & Grace,

                                                                                                                                                Rachel