In a short wrap-up, 2017 was surprisingly difficult for our nation and world, alike. In the time-span of one year, we experienced the California wildfires, the Las Vegas mass shooting, removal of monuments, political marches, Hurricane Harvey (and Irma and Maria), President Trump’s Presidential inauguration, the North Korea missile test, Chile legalized abortion, Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage, the #MeToo Movement, the Take A Knee NFL protests, the attack on First Baptist Sutherland, terrorism affecting London, Sweden, Spain and Manhattan.
We can all be justified to say it WAS a bad year. BUT-while politically and culturally, 2017 got a beating; I’ve seen an amazing amount of up and coming authors, speakers, leaders of Christian movements, biblical pastors, and apologists rise up from our sinful culture and start chain reactions. And while the world and culture will only get worse,(read Revelation and Isaiah to see that), God is NOT finished with His people yet. There is still much work to be done, and His faithful servants have been busy! Even we as teenagers have spiritual tasks to be accomplished. We must keep encouraging one another and disciplining one another. Before you chalk it up to a bad year, just think about the many blessings and answered prayers in our own lives as well as the lives of believers all over the world.
In 2018, I want to encourage each and every one of you young people to achieve greatness.
- To stop procrastinating and just check it off.
- To prioritize your projects instead of making time for everything BUT that.
- I encourage you to conquer bad habits and attitudes. To start brand new, life-changing ones!
- Make wise decisions, pray more than ever, grow your mind, read, talk less, listen more, witness, be a light, get out of your comfort zone, live healthy, heal your body, develop a deeper relationship with God, and thrive every day with sacred intent and resolve. These years as a teenager are a crucial time for building your moral, spiritual, and political foundation for your future views and convictions.
My greatest call to you this year, is something I have felt God calling me to, as well. My word for 2018 is discipline. I hope to practice discipline in my daily habits, but also rejoice when God disciplines me, knowing it’s refining me into a better person with every tough season.
My theme passage for 2018….
Hebrews 11:1-13 “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart. In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons:
My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly or faint when you are reproved by Him, for the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son He receives.
Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline-which all receive-then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness.
No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later, on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your tired feet so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.”
In closing, I want to remind both you and I of this-
We may feel this year that God is distant at times, that His love for us is lost, that we’ve made too many mistakes for forgiveness, or we feel inadequate to receive His grace. But the Lord tells us that (unlike humans), His love for us is not conditional. It does not lessen with each sin we commit. His love does not grow for one person and diminish for another. His forgiveness is abundant and grace is made perfect in our weakness.
God, please let this year be one of healing, grace, redemption, discipline, and much growth.
(Go check out my post from January addressing 2016, here.)