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What's on Your Wishlist?

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I know that I am not the only one who rushes to make a list of everything that I want for Christmas as soon as December hits. Or November… okay, October. It’s finally the time of year when I can ask all of my loved ones for the things I want without it being weird, and I do not plan to waste it.

It’s times like this when I realize how much time we spend looking for more: more new gadgets, more toys, more clothes, more decorations. And I think that if we’re honest with ourselves, this isn’t just a mentality that’s reserved for the holidays. Whether it’s December or July, we are always after the next big thing. We often let our desire for more consume us.

While this may seem appealing at times, Jesus has a better life to offer us. In Philippians 4 of the New Testament, Paul teaches us that contentment does not come from our situation or the stuff that we have. True joy can only come when God strengthens us to find our joy in Him. So this Christmas, I pray that the “more” that we all seek after is more of God’s presence in our lives. It is when our joy is found in Him that we begin to recognize all of the joys of this time of year for what they are: gifts from a heavenly father who loves us.

Merry Christmas!

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in Youth

Who am I? The Identity of a Middle School Student

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Middle school is a time of life like no other. When so much of life is devoted to school, some might be surprised to find that most of the academic information that middle school students hear has either already been taught in elementary school, or will be taught again in high school. 
So what does this mean? 
Some say that middle school is just a place where three years worth of the most emotionally unstable students are held in captivity. Of course, there is certainly some truth to that, but to say that middle school is a waste of three years could not be further from the truth. 
In reality, this system of educational repeat is done very purposefully. While middle school students are sure to learn a great deal academically, the real lessons that middle school is designed to teach are respect, responsibility, and collaboration. In essence, middle school students are learning how to function as one part of a whole. As they are learning all of this, a fierce need for independence and individuality is built in middle school students. With that in mind, these three crucial years are designed specifically to help students learn who they are; to help them learn their identity.

In Galatians 2:20, the apostle Paul states, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Paul is saying that when we give our lives to Christ, this becomes our primary identity. We are loved by the creator of the universe and we live to know Him and to serve Him. That’s it. Our identity is that simple. 
It is misplaced identity that leads to so many struggles that middle school students face. When students, so desperate to find out who they are, place their identity somewhere other than in Christ, the results WILL be damaging. It is from misplaced identity that complex issues like bullying, gender confusion, and even racism can arise. 
It is only when our middle school students are able to see that their identity is found in Jesus and His love for them—not in athletics, academics, popularity, gender, or race—that they will find stability. 
When we ponder who we are and our definitive answer is to declare that we belong to Christ, we can find hope in every school assignment, every fight with a friend, every heartbreak, every challenge, and every up and down of middle school life.


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