Walking on Water.

On Thursday mornings I get the privilege to pray with amazing Christian friends before school starts outside of our cafeteria. We gather in a circle and thank God for the day and what He is doing in our school, but we also ask God to do more of His will in our school.

Today, my friend Jesse was having a conversation with God and He was remembering how this morning he was reading about Jesus and Peter walking on the water. He prayed that we could all do the same in our schools, that we could let go of doubt and fear to walk on the water, because we all have them.

Many of us have our own story of “walking out on water”. Whether you were one who stepped out and walked with faith, stepped out and let fear pull you under the waves, or you even were a disciple that stayed in the boat. We often forget about those people but are often exactly like them when we are faced with the decision to step out of a boat.

Could you imagine what the story would have looked like if Peter had walked out to Jesus and stood there with Him without falling? What could have happened? Would the other disciples have walked out with him as well?

We might find ourselves asking that same question. What could have happened? What if I had stepped out of the boat? What if I had trusted in God and kept my eyes on Him? Would others have seen it and followed?

Maybe I wouldn’t have sunk.

Whatever it is, we are all called out upon the waters. The water is vast and deep. It can be dark or clear (depending on where you are in the world). There may be life boats nearby or you may have to swim. But no matter what anyone tells you, you can walk on water. Whatever that thing is that God calls you to, you can do it. Jesus is calling you. He wouldn’t call you if He didn’t have a plan and a purpose.

Matthew 14:28-31

‘Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.

He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”’

Oceans became a fear of mine when I had a nightmare as a child. I was in a big pool of water and a shark was swimming underneath a floating device I was seated on and had its mouth open wide ready to chomp down on my little head. I cried out, “Mom! Help! Dad! Help!” But they sat outside the water talking to some friends. They couldn’t hear me, or didn’t want to hear me. And all I could think was I was destined to be engulfed by the water I had wandered out into.

As I grow up, and I wander out onto the water, I don’t always know what is in the water. And my parents aren’t always going to be able to save me. Though I know I’m probably not going to get eaten by a shark, the unknowns are scary.

While the oceans that we are called to may be scary and unknown, there is a God waiting for you with His hand stretched out wide. But you need to step out. Remember in the story how the disciples were caught in a storm when they were in that boat? Sometimes God calls us during storms. When Jesus told Peter to walk out to Him, they were probably all thinking, ‘Now? The waves will knock him over! He could never do it in this kind of storm.’

His timing is perfect. Maybe He wants someone else to see you walk on water.

Whether you choose to be the person in the boat or the one who steps out, there will be people that see your decision. That decision could inspire them. If you walked out on the water and stayed afloat, how could that effect the rest that stand in the boat? Would they step out too?

Don’t grip the sides of the boat and wait for the storm to pass. Walk out to Jesus during the storm. He is calling. Let go of fear. Let go of doubt.

You can walk on water.

Enlightened.

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It was my freshman year when God first planted a seed in my mind about something that is now called “Enlightened”. All I can remember is a vision of my peers worshiping in my auditorium. Their hands were lifted high and the beautiful song “The Stand” was being played. The thought took me by surprise and I didn’t know what to think about it.

That would be cool, I thought. But that could never happen at my school.

That thought was pushed to the back of my mind for 3 years.

During those three years I learned a lot. I felt heartache, lost a lot of close friends, learned what kind of boys NOT to date, I started leaning on God, and learned a lot about myself. High school is a place to grow up. Its a place to figure out what you want to do by what you’ve learned and acquired in your life. And I figured out what I want to do with my life.

I figured out that I want to do whatever God asks me to do with my life. Wherever I go to college and whatever I end up doing, I want it to be for His Kingdom and for His glory, not mine. These past few years have made that so clear in my life.

So this summer, while I was home, God started poking at me. One night we had youth group at church and I was leading the musical worship. So before the service started, I snuck away to the prayer chapel.

I prayed for the night, the worship, and all the students that would be at church that night. I prayed for an awakening through worship and what would happen in that room. Then when I was going to keep rambling on, feeling prompted to listen, I just stopped talking and started listening. Thank the Lord that I did. He said something that changed my life forever.

“Worship” was what I heard so clearly. At that moment, peace fell upon me and made me sure that worship is something I need to do for the rest of my life. But I didn’t just want to stop listening there. I wanted to to do something about this calling now. So I asked,

“What can I do right now with worship, God?”

I will never forget what He said:

“That vision that I gave you three years ago, about worship in your school’s auditorium, needs to happen this year. Now is the time.”

So there I was, in the beginning of the summer with this dream and something God was asking me to do and my family was leaving for a few days to start traveling for NTS camps. All summer. I would be gone for a little over a month. That would not leave me a lot of time to plan. This night needed to happen soon, in the beginning of the year, as to say “We’re going to start off this year right”.

My adrenaline kicked in and I started messaging and talking to a few close friends that went to my school as well as my Dad. I told them my idea and asked what I should do about it. Leaving for a month put me in a tough spot to plan this event. One thing that the vision was clear about was that the room was full of students worshipping. It wasn’t just a few people in a worship club. This was to be an event with a room full of people on fire for Jesus. I knew that some people needed assurance that they weren’t alone at school.

This was not going to be easy to get together.

When I got back from camp, it all began.

First we got the OK to use my school’s auditorium for a Sunday night service.

Emails were sent to dozens of youth pastors around the area to bring their youth groups.

My friend Kaley and I were reading through Matthew 5:13-16 and God gave us the name ‘Enlightened’ after about 3 hours of having no idea what to do with this night.

Then we gathered together 10 more students from my school to help plan and lead this night.

The theme of the night is ‘Enlightened’ because as students, we want to encourage our peers to shine brightly for Christ in our schools. There are a lot of broken and lost people that need love during high school. We don’t want to just sit back as Christians and dismiss ourselves when something is out of comfort zone. We want to step out and do what God is calling us to do. And that is going where “my trust is without borders!” Sometimes we don’t even know what we’re singing. Enlightened will serve to be a reminder to Christians that school is a mission field and a very dark place that needs a lot of light.

God’s hand has been over all of this because we miraculously have 16 churches connected and 6 schools that are advertising on their own! As we started praying about numbers, we were praying for 500 and it looks like we’re going to have more than 500 people there that night!

The band is all students and the speakers are students. Enlightened is led by high school students for high school students! God is using a lot of amazing leaders to make this night possible and its been an incredible blessing to be apart of it.

As you are reading this, I hope you are encouraged and as excited as I am about this event. In this post, I wanted to get the word out but I also wanted to say something even more important: We need prayer.

Here are some things we need prayer for:

1. For God to speak to many students that night to do something to be a light in their school this year.

2. For the band and the speakers and the ones planning it, its a very busy and stressful time (the date is October 5th-very soon!)

3. For candles. A church has already donated a few hundred fake battery-powered, white candles for something special during the service. But with our numbers growing, we’re praying for more!

4. For no technological problems.

5. For the worship that night-that the Spirit moves.

6. For the word to spread like wildfire!

Listening to God has been an incredible blessing and we haven’t even had this event yet. I encourage you to listen to what He has in store for you and to follow the path He has set out for you. It could change the world.

I cannot wait to share what God does at Enlightened on October 5th!

Pray with Mouths Closed and Ears Open.

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Prayer is so important to me. I want friends that pray, I look for a guy that prays, and I love how much my family prays. I believe in a God that answers prayers.

Last summer, in 2013, I met a wonderful lady who was an author and a pastor at her church in California. We met her and attended her service on the beach. I was in awe of the service and the authenticity of the songs and the stories shared that day. Her voice was so convincing when she spoke. The story she told about how she came to know God was so inspiring I could’ve listened to it over and over.

Needless to say, I really respected this lady and looked up to her immensely. Then I heard her talk about this book she wrote called, “The Burning Heart Contract”. If you have not read this book, go buy it now and you’ll see how inspiring this woman is with her words.

She challenged me and many others to take this 30-day challenge. The challenge was to pray for an hour everyday and see how God transforms you over that 30-day period. An hour was a stretch for me while we were traveling for NTS camps that summer, but I wanted what she had. I wanted to pray like that.

So I, probably the youngest one accepting this challenge at 16 years old, committed to an hour of prayer everyday for the rest of my summer. That was the month of August, sunny and scorching. My family and I were in California for our last camp and for family vacation when camp was all over.

Those few weeks changed my life. My Bible became my close friend as I had my time alone with God and throughout my day. The words effected my prayers and how I viewed each day. Prayer became an easy conversation that I was privileged to have with the Lord for an hour of my day. I talked to Him but most importantly, He talked to me. I listened for a change.

God spoke so clearly to me about my youth group that summer and a change that was needed. I saw a need for something new and exciting for high schoolers at my church. We had a great program at church, but God was speaking to me about something else. There was a fire burning in my heart for this idea to start something, and it didn’t die. I was anxious and ready to go home during camp just so I could tell everyone what God was speaking to me about. But I couldn’t leave, so I prayed and prayed and prayed some more.

Prayer is so powerful because we are speaking to the God of the universe. Max Lucado’s quote is so true because its not about the words we say, but the God who hears it.

For me that summer, it wasn’t about my words at all. It was about listening. The time I had everyday set aside for prayer was for hearing what God wanted to do and speak through me when I got back home. The time I had everyday set aside for prayer equipped me for what I needed to do when I got back home. And let me tell you, I needed that because going home is not like summer camp where you’re surrounded by Christians encouraging you all day. Going home is always a journey, but being home is also a journey.

Time alone with God drew me closer to Him. When you grow closer to someone, you become more like them. I notice that after I hang with some of my good friends that I start talking like them and saying things that they said. It happens to all of us!

What if you worked on getting closer to Jesus and becoming more like Him? Saying the things that He would say and doing things that He would do… That takes prayer. That takes hours in His word; reading and studying and listening. We can’t just open up our Bibles once a week to read Jeremiah 29:11 or John 3:16. We know those verses. There is so much more to discover and so much more God wants to show you through His word and through prayer.

Be encouraged and go talk to God. He wants to listen. But you must remember, He also wants to speak to you. Will you be willing to listen?

Countdown to Winter.

I will be honest and say that I’ve been listening to Christmas music for the past few days. Maybe even as I write this…

Christmas time, snow, my birthday, hot chocolate, snow days, Christmas re-runs, gift giving, the music, cookies, scarfs and boots… All good things that happen during winter. It is my favorite time of year and as the Michigan air gets cooler and cooler, I get goosebumps thinking about winter time.

Winter fashion has to be one of the best parts. The scarfs get bigger, new styles of boots come out, new mittens are hanging on their racks, and hats. I absolutely love hats. But my favorite part of winter fashion has to be the death of crop tops for a quarter of the year. I’m really sick of finding a cute shirt in the store to only pull it off the rack and find out its a crop top! There is no way I could and would wear crop tops and I just don’t want to see all of your belly buttons, ladies. You can look so cute and classy without crop tops. Personally, girls that cover up more look so classy and put together.

Sweater weather is my favorite. Its cozy and comfortable. What more could you ask for?

We all have our favorite season. For some of us, it was summer. I hope it was wonderful for you and you did all your favorite things to do in the summertime! For those who love fall, enjoy it while it lasts! It seems to be one of those seasons that flies by because the leaves are always changing colors and the festivities come and go. I hope you get the perfect pumpkin and the perfect pumpkin spice latte during this beautiful, picture-perfect season! And for those who enjoy Spring, don’t worry. Even though winter seems like it will never end (like last year) I promise, no matter how much I don’t want it to, it will be over before you know it and you’ll see daisies popping up out of the ground!

Enjoy, make memories, and take lots of pictures!

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Lustful Lies

Over the summer at camp, we talked about the obsession over sex. Its real. It has flooded the media and all the movies we see… Purity is so important to me and I get fired up when this topic is brought up. This is what I learned…

 

2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.”

Do you believe that God’s word is true? Do you fear Him enough to obey what it says because you know the consequences that are also written down in His word? 

Lust is a forbidden word, isn’t it? But if we are all honest with ourselves, we all lust after something. Whether its the opposite sex, same sex, money, power… Whatever it is, we find something we want and we center our focus on that one thing. For guys, it starts earlier than it would for a girl. I’m talking about lusting another person. It is very common for a 5th or 6th grade boy to start looking at pornography. But did you know that 11% of girls watch it too? Its not just a guy thing. Its a people thing. Because our kind messed it up in the very beginning, we all have this temptation in our lives sooner or later.

I see girls more open about their lust on the Internet. There are Woman Crush Wednesdays but there are also Man Candy Mondays. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. Most “Man Candy Mondays” and “Woman Crush Wednesdays” can be jokes but the way girls go on and on and on about celebrities like Zac Efron and Channing Tatum show that girls do lust just like guys do.

While it may seem I’m bashing on girls, I want to say that both guys and girls are guilty of this. Its not just girls and its not just guys. 

With the access technology and smart phones have given us, its very easy to become another viewer in that statistic’s percentage. Now lets go back to that verse in 2 Timothy.

“Run” it says, “from ANYTHING that stimulates youthful lust.”

Usually when you run from something, you don’t look back. If someone was chasing you with a gun, you would run as fast as you could to find shelter and/or safety. Looking back would just slow you down. You also wouldn’t turn back and run towards that person. Why pursue something that will hurt you? That example, as ridiculous and obvious as it may sound, is how ridiculous it is to chase after pornography or lust. I’ve talked to and heard many stories from leaders and friends that dealt with pornography or sexual activity and then got married… It messed them up. Your mind is so easily effected and its often hard to shake a thought once it enters your brain. 

So run. No, not literally. I mean run from outfits that you know will cause someone to stumble. When you put your clothes on in the morning, when it comes down to it, you’re dressing for people. If you were going to sit around at home all day, alone, you would wear sweatpants, sweatshirts, pajamas, and would not try to look good. You know that people will see you when you walk out the door and you know that what you wear says sends some kind of message. Your heart can be displayed by what you wear. Your clothes always show your intentions. 

So don’t be selfish and base your self worth on causing others to stumble. If you feel pretty because someone whistles at you, that worth is over in one second and shows that when people look at you, they don’t think about you but what they want to do to you.

If you believe God’s word to be true and want to love your neighbor as yourself, don’t assist your brothers and sisters in Christ in sinning against your big, powerful God. 

Run from pornography. If your phone or computer tempts you, tell someone that can keep you accountable. The last part of that verse says, “Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” Ask a friend or be brave and ask a parent to turn Safesearch on or something on your computer. Those images you see only take a few minutes to reach but will never leave your mind. Pornography, besides how it effects your mind, seems harmless. You may think:

“It won’t hurt anyone. I’ll be fine” 

Pornography is an industry. A deceitful, greedy industry that will do whatever it takes to get money. Guys and girls, some unwillingly, are pushed to do things in front of a camera and a crew. Its deceitful because the people behind these movies make sex something that its not. Its not just for you. It takes two people and when you have the mind-set that this act is only for you, you grow up with a selfish mind-set towards marriage. 

Pornography is so selfish. You are setting aside moral boundaries to please yourself and then thats all sex is; for you. If you think that you don’t have any idols or you’re not a selfish person, I’m telling you that pornography is making your own self an idol and all you’re thinking about is yourself. 

 

Run from chick-flicks. Okay, not all of them are bad. But today’s society places too much emphasis on two people’s sexual relationship in movies. 

You read the verse, “Run from ANYTHING…” Music, books, TV, etc. can stimulate lust whether we realize it or not. After seeing something so many times that seems to bring happiness, we can start to lust for it. After seeing a picture perfect couple on a screen or in a book, we start to want that. And when we see that they decide to have sex before marriage, we might want that too. Because if that couple is happy and its working out, it must work for everyone else. 

When we put ourselves in these situations, we open our minds to earthly thoughts and allow a door to open for lust to come in.

Run! Run! Run!

Don’t just shy away from these things. Run! My mom once told me a good analogy/example of crossing the line and how far you should go when it comes to boyfriends or whatever temptation there may be… She said:

“We don’t serve a God who stands back and says, ‘Oh, you’re almost there… A little bit farther… That lines getting closer… Just two more inches… Okay, stop!'”

That is not how it goes. God doesn’t coach you to get as close to that line as you can so you don’t cross it. Think of that line that God has set as a starting line. If you’re close to that line in your life, run the opposite direction to the finish line.

Run!

 

 

2 Timothy 2:22 

“Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.

Last First Day.

 

Its surreal when you’re walking through the halls again, after everyone got a new haircut and style during the summer. Its so strange to be always watching the clock again to see when a class will finally be over. To hear “What is your schedule?” over and over and over again as people compare their sheets of crinkled paper.

One of my friends said to me this morning, “I feel like we’ve been on a dragged out Spring Break and we’re just coming back to school again”. I totally agree. Summer zipped by and wasn’t sad to say goodbye. But the rest of us were sad to see it go. Now its up to us to choose what kind of attitude we will have towards this year.

Here we are seniors. Here we are at a starting line to a bumpy road ahead of us. There are decisions to be made. Questions to be answered. Will we choose to get a serious case of Senioritis (that I think I already have as I was finishing a summer reading project last night)? Will we decide to not care about anything but care about partying and making memories we may not remember the next day when the hangover kicks in? Will we start dating “The One”? Will we know where we’re going next year?

“Where are you going to college?” 

“What are you doing with your life after high school? Any ideas?”

We hear it all day long. Most of the time, we say “No idea”. But I think its important to ask yourself where you’re going this year. Who are you going to talk to? What is your goal when you enter a classroom? How are you going to leave an impact on the students you’ll leave behind in your high school? What does God have in store for you this year? And will it be about you or Him? 

 

I want to ask you this: Where are you going in high school? What are you doing with your life during high school? Any ideas?

 

Good luck this year and may the force be with you. 

 

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

 

Philippians 4:6-7 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Isaiah 30:21  

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”