Dear Year 12s of Muellerland,
(To my usual readers – non year 12 students, feel free to read on – you are not excluded from what follows – but this one is for a specific group of people.)
So back to you year 12s, a few of us got together and this is our affirmation note to you. If you are reading this now, it’s because you saw our very brief impersonal note in your affirmation bag and you became curious, you followed the link and here you are!!
Teaching for me has always been more about sparking interest, curiosity and encouraging you to learn and explore. So if you are reading this now – well done! ‘A’ s all round! A number of the students in your year level gave up straight away, I’m not surprised.
So you’ve asked us time and time again if we were going to write notes for your affirmation bags – we told you we weren’t. (Well I did anyway – the others may have been kinder and avoided the question.) What we’ve done instead is assemble some thoughts for you here, on the internet where you can never throw them away. 🙂
You are leaving us – in Muellerland – to venture out into “the great unknown”. For some of you the day couldn’t come quickly enough, others of you are a little less keen to depart. I understand that, I think I’d feel the same way.
For each of us there’s a few things we would like to have done for you:
We hope that for you students, Christian and not, that we’ve treated you in such a way that we, followers of Jesus, look like the good guys.
We hope that in some small way, we’ve done Him justice.
We pray that you have seen that being a Christian means we know that we aren’t perfect, we know that life isn’t smooth sailing but that we have trust in Someone who knows more than we do, who loves each and everyone of us more than we can comprehend.
We, each of us, hope that through the talks we’ve had over the years, you might have on more than one occasion, seen Him and that the times that you’ve seen Him outnumber the times that you haven’t.
We pray that we haven’t ever provided you with a reason to turn away from Him.
We pray that we have not turned any of you away from Him through our actions or words.
I guess that there are a few things we would like to say to you, a few things that we’d like you to remember, and a few things we’d love for you to do.
Our parting wisdom for you comes from the story of Josiah, you can read about him here
Our collective wisdom is as follows:
Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young …
Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem.
At this point, if you’ve listened in devotions at any point in time over your schooling years, you would know to read 1 Timothy 4:12
Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.
One way to look at it is: don’t behave in ways that give people reason to think less of you because of your youth. Don’t give them a reason to write you off because of your age.
Don’t let your history define who you are…
Manasseh [Josiah’s grandfather] was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem…But he did evil in the sight of the Lord…
Amon [Josiah’s father] was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem…But he did evil in the sight of the Lord, as his father Manasseh had done; for Amon sacrificed to all the carved images which his father Manasseh had made, and served them.
Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem…And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
No matter what has happened to you, no matter the mistakes you have made, the poor choices, the awkward outfits on free dress days (I jest), these things do not define you. No matter what you have been told about your past, your heritage, your mother, your father, your grandmother, your grandfather, this does not need to define you. Your home life, no matter how pleasant or unpleasant it is, should not define you. Josiah’s father and grandfather were horrible men, they did appalling things. He did not decide that he was a write-off because of his history, or his heritage. Neither should you.
Don’t let your culture or generation define who you are…
You can go to sites like WiReD which claim to be able to tell you “what you need to know to be culturally literate in 2016” … but I think you might be starting to notice that it’s kind of hard to keep up…
Your culture tells you that you need to be certain things, that you need to look certain ways, that you need to do certain things in order to matter.
The culture in which you live should not, must not define who you are. If you allow it to, you are robbing the world of the person God has created you to be.
This one is hard for some of us.
Mainly because it means that we have to acknowledge that He (God) IS. It also means that you and I have to acknowledge that we are NOT God, and for some of us that is tricky. The thing I want to say at this point is, seek God. He wants you to find Him. He’s not hiding, He’s not going to run away. He’s waiting for you to start looking for Him, He’s there. He is truth, He is love, He is real. He knows your name, He knows you and He’s waiting.
A.W Tozer, in his book, “The Pursuit of God” writes:
Christian theology teaches the doctrine of prevenient grace, which, briefly stated, means that before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man….We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit…The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him. All the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand…
Do what is right…
And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
You need to know what is right. What is right isn’t always easy, in fact, in my experience right can be downright hard and painful at times. But you should do it anyway.
What this means is you need to have given the idea of what is right some thought. What are your morals, what are your values? You know what ours are. At least we hope you do. But what are yours? Outside of Muellerland things are different – some of you know just how different – others of you are going to be a little shocked by just how different things are. Find yourself friends that you can trust, people who will encourage you to do better and more importantly, find yourself some older, wiser people to whom you will listen and with whom you can be honest. If you aren’t sure what is right … ask someone who looks like they’ve made some good decisions or better still learned from some mistakes.
For the Christians among you it’s easier for you to know what is right but not always easier for you to DO what is right.
Charles Swindoll in his book “The Owner’s Manual for Christians” says first we must know what is right. We do this by reading God’s word; trusting in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in our lives; and to listen to wise, godly Christians.
God’s word tells us very clearly what is right in Micah 6:8:
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
Get rid of your idols …
…in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, [Josiah] began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. They broke down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and the incense altars which were above them he cut down; and the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images he broke in pieces, and made dust of them and scattered it on the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. (By the way – he’s 16 – 20 years old now – so … about your age)
Tim Keller tells us that an idol is; anything that becomes more fundamental than God to your happiness, meaning in life, and identity.
Think about that, ponder it for a moment.
What is of the utmost importance to you?
Is it your talents, your looks, your athletic ability, your intelligence, your status, your popularity, your job, your dream career, your OP, your university acceptance, your dreams, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your family, your car, your gaming, your money, your friends, your security, your pride, your religion, your goodness … your self? Are you, in fact, the god at the centre of your life?
Are you prepared to do what Josiah did? He removed the idols, destroyed them and then took the next step…
Follow God with all your heart and all your soul.
Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book.
This is our prayer for each and everyone of you; that you would choose to accept the sacrifice Jesus made for you and that you would give Him your whole heart and all of your soul.
So while it’s not the affirmation you were perhaps hoping for, it is what we believe is most important and it is affirming in the best way. You’ve been a pleasure to teach … on the most part 😉 … take that as you will.
We have prayed for you often, and we continue to do so. Today (Tuesday) in our staff meeting you were prayed for – some of you audibly and by name – some of you inaudibly – but be certain that each and every one of you has been covered in prayer.
And with that we come to a close, we wish you all the best.
a certain Art/English/History/Form/QCS teacher you may have once had,
a certain Science/Form teacher you may have once had,
a certain Science/Math/Form/Physics/Math B/QCS teacher you may have once had,
a certain Biology/Science 21 teacher you may have once had.
For further reading:
Josiah Road – Luke Harper
Counterfeit Gods – Tim Keller
The Owner’s Manual for Christians – Charles Swindoll
The Pursuit of God – A.W Tozer
John Piper – desiringgod.org
Andy Stanley Sermon series – Who needs God? (Gods of the no testament)