ICYouth: What’s the motivation? {Gracie}

Your generosity helps transform lives! Every Friday, we’re taking a peek at how God is working in the lives of our impact students. These servants of Jesus are walking daily by faith as they navigate the hallways and relationships inside their school walls and beyond. Our weekly series will highlight what God is up to in their lives in their voices. Leave them some encouragement by commenting?

by Gracie Adamek

Lately I’ve noticed an extreme lack of motivation. At first, it was just with my school work. Now, I’ve never been particularly enthusiastic about school, so I sort of thought this was normal. You know  — the whole “school-is-almost-over-and-I-don’t-have-to-do-work-anymore” thing? Yeah, well, that has been going on since probably March, which is early, even for me.

I thought I would have more motivation for every-day tasks once school ended, but I’m not seeing much evidence of that. The worst part about this is that my laziness is transferring even into my relationship with God. And that is bad news, let me tell ya.

With youth group and Deeper, my weekly Bible study during the school year, ending, God almost gets pushed to the side. Especially with summer just starting, all I can think about is how much fun I’m going to have hanging out with my friends and going on vacations and things of that nature.

Cracking my Bible open or waking up early to do devotions hardly ever enters my mind. Then later on I feel terrible that I don’t really read my Bible on a regular basis anymore so I force myself to read. But in doing that I don’t get anything out of my personal time with God, and I just grow frustrated. It’s a vicious cycle. But I really want to get out of this slump.

A few days ago I decided I would just take a step back and reevaluate my relationship with Christ. I asked myself a tough question: Why? Why am I reading my Bible? I don’t mean that as “oh why does it even matter? Why am I doing this?” I mean I had to ask myself about motives. Am I just reading to say I did? Or just to feel like I’m a “good Christian”? Or maybe I thought it would make God happy if I read every daily. And I found that the answer to all of those questions was “yes”. I wasn’t really trying to strengthen my walk with Christ. I was just being lazy and trying to calm my conscience.

It didn’t work.

My mind has honestly been going crazy. It’s like God is continually breaking me down until He completely has my attention. It’s working because I’m slowly turning around.

Side note: I don’t know how many of you have read my past blogs, but if you have you know about my best friend, Peggy. I talk about her often. Well anyway, Peggy was raised in a strictly non-Christian home. For the past few years, God has called me to minister to Peggy in big ways. She recently said she accepted Christ but about two weeks ago told me that she was too insecure to really give her life to God. She’s afraid people would think badly about her if they found out she trusted Jesus with her life, especially her family would ridicule her. If everyone could keep her in prayer that would be fantastic. Also, if you could pray that God would really take control of my ministry with her, it would mean the world to me! 🙂

Snapshot_20121212Gracie Adamek is a junior at Lakes Community High School. She enjoys singing, acting and spending time with friends! Gracie is so grateful for this opportunity and hopes to glorify God 100% through this!

IC Kids: VBS Meets the Great Backyard

Instead of running Vacation Bible School here at Immanuel one week during the summer we run VBS all over our community all summer long!

Check out this video about Backyard Clubs!

Backyard clubs this year are hosted by 9 different Immanuel families in 9 different neighborhoods!  The host family provides the home and we {that includes all of US} provide the event!   All equipment is delivered to the host home in advance and each club has a team of people running the program.  Each team consisted of 5-10 people who lead games, crafts, songs, and lessons!  The teams are trained and equipped.  Many have signed up to help but many more are needed. Come and be a part of this awesome opportunity to reach families in our community!

We could definitely use a few hands at our backyard clubs, and we particularly need people who can transport materials to and from the clubs. Can you help? For more information contact RuthK@Immanuelhome.org.

To see if there’s a backyard club near you, visit http://www.immanuelhome.org/kids.

The Monday After: Our Best For Him {Sheryll}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave church inspired by and filled with  Truth, encouragement and passion on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the day and week, we often lose that Sunday feeling. 

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} is our attempt to carry the Sunday message into Monday mornings by walking together and sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Each Monday, a voice from the pews will give personal perspective to the words we soaked in on Sunday. Because of your generosity, lives are being changed by God’s grace, and we’re able to share these stories with you here!

The Monday After Sunday, May 27 , 2013: Our Best for Him 

By Sheryll Belonga

Have you ever felt alone in a crowded room?  Though many around you experiencing the same thing you are experiencing, you still feel all alone?

Upon praying about what God would have me write, He led me to His word.  I began to read where Pastor Kelly had started, which was in Exodus 33:1-6 and then went on to read verses 7-11 and stopped there.  In theses verses, we find the writer talking about the tent of meeting.

The “Tent of Meeting” was where people would go to seek the Lord.  When Moses would go to the tent of meeting to seek the Lord, the people would stand and watch.  They watched and they waited for a sign of God’s presence.  A cloud would cover the entrance of the tent and that let them know that God was there.  At the site of this, they would begin to worship.  The verse that stood out to me the most was verse 11, which says that the Lord was speaking to Moses face to face like he would a friend.

Have you ever had a chance to meet with God and just have a friend talk?  You don’t have to go into a closed environment for that to happen; it can be done right where you are.

In the midst of all that goes on around us, we should be able to enter into the tent of meeting, our own place of prayer with God.  When the worship team lead us into worship we can view it as a cloud coming down signifying God’s presence. But like Pastor Kelly mentioned, before you enter the doors your heart should already be prepared to receive what God has for you.

I don’t know about you, but I was totally able to relate to what he said about Sunday mornings being the most stressful time of the week.  And I believe that it is the most stressful because it is the devil’s way of getting us to lose focus.  He doesn’t want us to have an open heart and mind.  He wants to present us with any distraction possible that would get us to walk through the doors of the church with our focus anywhere but God.

Something I try to do when I get to my seat in church is to kneel down and pray; I enter into my tent of meeting.  I don’t remember when I started this habit but I have been doing it for many years now.  This isn’t always easy to do because I still wonder what people will think.  To help me to ignore that feeling I pray that God help me to not be concerned with who sees me or who doesn’t.  I don’t want to worry about being seen when I kneel to pray or when I stand to worship.  My desire is to focus only on God and this time that I have with Him.  I pray that God will remove any distractions and help me to receive what He has for me that day and that the message will speak to my heart.  I do this because I don’t want what happened before I walked in that door to continue to affect my spirit.  I want my spirit to be at peace and my heart open to receive God.

On Sundays my goal on is to be alone in a crowd, because at that time nothing else matters but Him.

Sheryll Belonga is wife to Jurrell and homeschooling mom to their three great boys. Her hearts desire is to glorify God in all she says and does in spite of life’s daily happenings.

ICYouth: The Middle Ground {Trever}

God is using your generosity to help change lives! Every Friday, we’re taking a peek at how God is working in the lives of our high school students. These servants of Jesus are walking daily by faith as they navigate the hallways and relationships inside their school walls and beyond. Our weekly series will highlight what God is up to in their lives in their voices. Leave them some encouragement by commenting?

by Trever Carter

As hard as it is for me to say, the past few months have been some dry ones.  Sports are still non-stop, school is finally just now coming to a close and my family remains ever-dynamic.  As my life goes on around me, I have just recently come to realize that my problem lies in the first couple words of this post. I am not content with where I am with my relationship with Christ, yet what I have been doing has done little to benefit change it. Don’t get me wrong — I have had some great spiritual-highs and no terrible lows the past few months, but my relationship with God has just kind of flattened out in the middle.

Although I am discouraged, after talking with someone very close to me I can kind of see the past couple months as a wakeup call. I’m a young Christian, a believer for about two years now, and my spiritual highs have kind of flowed from one into the next, one extreme to another. Never has my relationship with God settled to this kind of slow contentedness.

I’m coming to realize that life is not always a spiritual-high, but things can get tough and life can move on, sometimes leaving me behind. Despite it all, God surely doesn’t give up on me. Through everything, I still have a genuine joy that results from my love for the Lord. James 1:2-4 says,

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

I love how I can rejoice in the fact that life gets hard, because without that my endurance can’t grow. What an awesome testament to how God picks you up from the slumps.

Finally, I can see this dry season coming to a close: storms are beginning to saturate the cracking ground; the oasis is becoming visible on the horizon. Summer-time means the resuming of things that have been put on hold, a slowing down of life and the beginning of new things. I look forward to summer Deeper, a Bible study,  being at a different home with different people than I am used to, a missions trip and community with my Christian brothers and sisters.  I love how even though things have been tough for me, God never fails me. I write this post with a huge smile, for I feel filled with the Spirit, with new challenges and ready to see what God has in store for me during this next part of life.

565825_494718303883308_1511035050_nTrever Carter is a sophomore at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.