May is always a month of "moving on" for those of us who work in youth ministry.  It is a time when we celebrate the graduation of seniors and the moving up of students who will join their respective youth groups.  What a blessing it is to have the opportunity to be around the creativity and energy of teenagers as they go through their years here.  This year we have six graduating high school seniors who have been members of our youth groups over the past several years. Some have graced our paths for all their middle and high school years, while others for just a portion of that.  But no matter how long they have been here, it has been a joy to experience life with them.  Congratulations to Taya Clary, Ashlee Goodwin, Dy Kimbrew, Makayla Stone, Cherdon White and Kaleb White. You have been such a blessing to us!

Jesus told his disciples to take care of the ones around them and to bless the children and train them up in the way they should go.  Moses shared with the people he led to always be aware of the blessings of God, and to talk about them.  He also encouraged the Israelites to live out their faith in all they did.  That has been the theme of our youth program over the years and now it will become the goal of these young men and women as they move on to the next chapter in their lives.  Our relationship with Jesus is apparent in our words, in our actions, and in the way we choose to treat the people around us.

These young men and women have been faithful to participate and to help shape the group we now have.  They have been ready to take part and to make a difference in the lives of those around them.  I believe they will continue to use their own unique gifts and talents to shape the world they will enter.  Our advice to them is to continue to live their lives in faith, hope and love; faith in the One who has created them for good and redeemed them for a purpose, hope for a future secure in the promise of His peace and the promise of the ever-present Holy Spirit, and the power to love God and the people with whom He will surround them. May that power of love be so evident in them that, as they go forward, folks will see the glow of their Savior and Lord shining through them.

Be confident in who and whose you are, but don't become conceited.  Be kind to those around you, even when it’s hard.  You have the ability and power to bless and not curse them.  Show compassion and empathy to people who are going through tough times.  They will remember your presence more than your words.  Share what you can and give more than money.  Give your time and talents to make a difference in the causes to which God calls you.  Choose your friends wisely and make sure that you are an influence of positive change and not a follower of negative hate.  Be aware of the opportunities around you as they present themselves.  Those just may be the appointments that God has put in place to bless others and you in the process.  Whatever you do in your future work, know that it doesn’t define who you are, unless you let it.  Work as if you’re working for God, because He has gifted you to be a difference maker and a positive influence on coworkers and clients alike.  So live life well and let God continue to shape you into the person He has called you to be.  We love you and are so proud of you!

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.  Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship him.  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  Don’t just pretend to love others.  Really love them.  Hate what is wrong.  Hold tightly to what is good.  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.  Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.  Rejoice in our confident hope.  Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.  When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.  Always be eager to practice hospitality.”  Romans 12:1-2, 9-13

In Christ’s Love,

Rob,  Romans 12