Why We Do It.

Last weekend, on a Sunday night, Marion High School opened it’s doors to 300 people who came to worship the Lord at an Enlightened event. In the small city of Marion, Indiana, we saw hundreds of students being serious about their faith in their school. God spoke to us about helping those in need and being the ‘Good Samaritan’ to our peers in our schools. The people you’d least expect were called to step out and be courageous for the Lord. We were empowered and inspired by the testimonies and songs shared by high school students from this school. This event changed the atmosphere at their school and in this city. We praise God for speaking to us so clearly on March 13, 2016 at Enlightened Marion. What started at a school called Byron Center High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan is now an event happening in different schools and students who strive to bring Christ on their campus. What a joy it is to remember where we’ve come and where we are going!

God had a plan for Byron Center High School since before time began. He knew that Enlightened would be planted there as a seed only to grow into more schools, more states, and impact more young people’s lives. He knew that lives would be saved, people would be called into ministry, and lives would be restored in His name. The number of people who showed up to the testimonies shared were no surprise to our great Father. He made us to move and work for His glory. As students gathered to worship two years ago in a high school auditorium, we felt the atmosphere change in that building.

It was worshipping together with brothers and sisters of Christ that changed our perspective on how we are to worship. We weren’t worshipping in our comfortable box with the people we knew well in youth group. We were praising our Father in a high school with hundreds of other high schoolers from many different schools, homes, and faith backgrounds. It was Jesus that brought us together and it was Jesus that was glorified.

The reason I believe in Enlightened is because I long for the days when I can worship my God with my peers in uncomfortable situations. I long for the day we can go out of our comfort-zones and give God all we have because He deserves that and more. It was incredible to experience a worship time that wasn’t about us for a change. It was great to look around the room and see people truly moved by God not the songs. God’s hand is over this ministry and I know He is continuing to see His plan unfold in the years following that first event.

The definition of event is, “a thing that happens, especially one of importance”. We remember events and we look back to them. Can you remember the first time you went to school? Or the day you got your license? If you’re a Christian, do you remember the day you turned your life around and gave it all to Jesus? Do you remember those significant moments in your life? Of course you do! They are things of importance that have changed your life forever. They change the way we think and act and speak. They give us new perspectives and new insights on how to be better and become the person we always strive to be.

The most important event to me is not Enlightened. It is not when I first learned to ride a bike or drive a car. The most important event that has affected my life deeply was Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection three days later. Yes, I realize I just gave you two events but they go hand in hand! Jesus didn’t just die, He rose from the dead! And when He did, He saved us from sin and death. That is good news and that is the reason we do everything. It is the reason we have thankful hearts. It is the reason we go out of our way to help a neighbor with a chore. It is the reason we give to the homeless and abandoned. This good news is the reason we wake up and take on the day with a different mindset. It is the reason Enlightened started.

Enlightened is a ministry started by high school students that is devoted to supporting and equipping high school students to lead an event full of worship and story telling at their school for their community. These events are for high school students to encourage their peers to be the salt and light in this generation. We focus on schools and hold these events at schools because we believe, as students, that it is the biggest mission field God has given us in this season of our lives. There is a story to tell; the event where Jesus died for our sins has affected our lives. We need to share this event with our friends! Because if we know how great our lives became after we experienced Jesus in our lives, we know we ought to share it with the rest of the world. The Gospel gives us a mission to go and tell the world. We want to invite our peers to join us as we live for this mission!

Why young people? Why students?

Students are cool. Students are passionate. Students care a lot about what they choose to care about. And students have more power in this world than they know. I had the privilege of working alongside many students in planning Enlightened events. I got to see how God has gifted each one of them to contribute a special part to Kingdom Work in their schools. Some students loved talking to people so they greeted students at the doors of their event. Other students loved technology so they ran the slideshow for lyrics and videos during their event. There were even some students that took on the responsibility of raising money for materials needed for their event. God used every single person on each Enlightened Crew (the whole group of student leaders) to leave a prominent impact on their high school’s campus.

Enlightened birthed and grew because God planned for students to do big things for Him. We see Him continue to call and equip high schoolers to lead Enlightened events at their schools now. The process is not easy. It is not a road easily followed. But it is a good road, because through it all, we get to experience God’s work in us. His provision through the planning process of an event is surreal. From financial issues to filling in spots for a team, God provided. He is the Provider, and we’ve seen why He is called Provider.

God has a plan. And for now, Enlightened is continuing to grow and seek out opportunities to reach the Gospel to young people everywhere. We love what we do and we are so thankful that God allows us to be apart of the journey.

Matthew 5:13-16  

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town build on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Enter In And Go OUT.

Worship is such a big word. It holds so much within it. Think about the many ways that we can worship. In song, in prayer, through serving, through obeying God… Worship is not just a song being sung by a worship leader. It is how we live our lives.

When we sing songs in church or at summer camp or a retreat, we love the songs and the feeling we get when we are worshiping with others. We are in a safe place. We are in a building protected by the four walls around us, dedicated to making a place for us to freely worship. So often those walls become real in our lives. So often we forget the freedom in worship and create a box for our worship. We limit our worship to those walls that we call church and to those places where God is the normal thing to talk about.

I want to see something different. I want to see worship walking around the streets of our cities and our communities. I want to see our hearts displayed for all to see. They are displayed in everything we do. And if Jesus is in our hearts,  we have an opportunity to show everyone just how great He is.

He deserves our worship. He deserves so much more than we could ever give. We know of what He has done yet there is so much more that He has done, is doing, and is going to do FOR us that we don’t even know about. Everything He does is FOR us. He never wants to harm us but is always looking out for us. He loves us with a love that we don’t fully understand. Because if we understood that love, we would never stray. If we were fully aware of how deep the Father’s love is for us, we wouldn’t go looking for it in other things.

Dig deep in His love. Worship Him for that love. Worship Him even when it doesn’t feel like there is anything to be thankful for. God is always doing good and has been doing good in your life since before time began. There are so many reasons to worship Him.

I want to encourage you to step out of the box with your worship. Don’t limit it to a song. But take that song and share it with others. Make this “song” catchy so that its stuck in people’s heads.

Worship is when you take what has happened in the church out the doors. If you are just lifting your hands and singing in there, you are putting your faith in a box. Yes, that can even happen to regular church-goers. It can become routine. It’s easy to save your worship just for a Sunday morning. Don’t. Take it with you when you walk out the church doors. Bring it everywhere you go. Let this fire you have in your worship be contagious. Spread His LOVE to the nations through the small and big ways you can worship God with your life.

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Worship. Even when it doesn’t feel like there is anything to praise Him for, we can ALWAYS worship Him for His unfailing love.

Our Music + Our Hearts =

Music is one of the most powerful things that I believe we have and possess. It has the power and feeling to bring tears to one’s eyes, to touch hearts, and inspire thousands. Music is very involved in our lives. Whether it is while we work out, when we are writing a paper, just laying around, the soundtrack to a movie, or we are playing the music ourselves; music is always present.

I love music. Since I was seven years old, I’ve played the acoustic guitar so that I could lead worship songs. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been singing. Its a memory that I have always had. This part of my life has always been there and I can’t imagine life without music. God has given us a great gift to be able to use for expressing our feelings, sharing stories, and gathering together with others in music. That this gift is from God. We know that God gave certain people the gift of music to share with others for a reason. That reason is to glorify Him.

At my youth group on Wednesday nights, we are talking about our culture. Each week we are going to look at different things like songs, movies, and television shows to see what messages we are hearing everyday from different things we take in. What was so interesting was taking a secular song and comparing it’s themes and messages to what the Bible said about that theme. When we looked at ‘Uptown Funk’s lyrics on paper, it was like a totally different song than what we’ve been hearing again and again and again and again… and again. I had to take a step back.

I love that song! It is so catchy, it is so fun. And because dancing is my favorite activity (no, I’m not a dancer I just like to dance!) I love grooving to this song. When I saw the lyrics, I saw what I was dancing to. A big theme in this song is pride. We also discussed vanity at youth group. While this song is so much fun, I didn’t like the message that I was reading into.

Secular music is not bad. Or let me say this; not all secular music is bad! I believe there are a lot of songs out there that’s sole purpose is to promote sex, prostitution, drugs, alcohol abuse, and partying. Yet these are the songs that we are demanding so much more of. When I hear songs like that, it makes me think of where I once was before I became serious about my faith. When I was in middle school, I knew Jesus, but I wanted to be cool so bad. I wanted to grow up and be the high schooler who would go to all the parties and be the girl that all the guys wanted to hang out with. It may sound silly to you, but some songs bring back memories of me trying to fit in and grow up to be “cool” like these people that were singing these songs about sex and alcohol and partying like “there is no tomorrow”. Personally, that wasn’t a good place for me. I wasn’t growing. I wasn’t becoming a better person. I was focused on me. Which is exactly what some of these songs promote. It’s all about me.

I like real music. Everyone has their own definition, but I believe in music that has depth and a great sound. I love when I can see an artist play a song just because they love being in the moment with the song not because they love the attention they’re getting from their adoring fans in the audience. Those artists deserve the awards and being #1 on the charts.

We need to be real with our music. We need to be authentic with what we listen to. Whatever we take in fills our hearts. Our music also says a lot about us. If your music is shallow and just “has a good beat”, what does that say? Do you ever think about how you influence others with the music you listen to or play?

Again, secular music is not bad. I love all kinds of music. Except country… But hey, that’s just me. I listen to music that relates to me, that has a cool and different sound, and that can lift me up. Ultimately, any kind of music that I listen to can honor and glorify God if I’m choosing songs that have a good message. Songs that have a good beat and are just for fun are always going to be there. We will jam in the car or go to a wedding and belt out “Yeah” by Usher… But we need to make sure that our hearts see what is on that sheet of lyrics.

That physical piece of paper of lyrics really prompted me to look at myself and to make sure that I don’t just listen to anything for the fun of it. Music is great and I want to make sure that my music has a positive effect in my life. If I want my life to glorify God, that means my music should too. Think about what you listen to and how you fill yourself up. Maybe take some time to give up secular music for awhile just to see what kind of impact your music was having on you before and after that break. Christian music will not kill you. It is sad to me how many of my Christian friends think that it will. There are so many amazing Christian artists out there that are making music by glorifying Jesus with their talents. I really appreciate that and love God. So why not listen to music about Him?

This series at church really challenged me and I hope it challenges you as well. Put good things in your heart and you will pour out good things to others.

1 Kings 8:61- Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.

Proverbs 4:23- Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

~

Here are some awesome songs that I have been listening to lately! And yes, I love Phil Collins:

Meridian (full album) by the Soil & the Sun- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztpIl-k9Zvc 

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Geronimo by Sheppard- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozsmSlvGHv4 

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Run Boy Run by Woodkid- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eje2r90MkGE

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Love is War (Acoustic) by Hillsong UNITED- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMUaqizunxg

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You Can’t Hurry Love by Phil Collins- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WPj0r5U41M

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Shine Like Lightning by Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIioazf71DE

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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!