iCYouth: It’s Been Real (Grant)

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By Grant Everly

I think that a lot of what I want to say in this final blog post can be summed up in one simple statement: thank you.

Thank you to Immanuel for providing an outlet like a blog, and thank you to you all, the readers, for all of your encouragement.

At the beginning of my sophomore year I would’ve considered myself a decent writer academically, but outside of an essay for school, my interest in writing was minimal. One Sunday night, though, I was asked to write a blog detailing iMPACT, Immanuel’s student ministry. At the time, I had no idea that I was going to be embarking on a three-year journey that would see me write monthly for the Immanuel blog.

The last three years have opened my eyes to the potential for writing during an age in which the written word is supposed to be obsolete. Your comments have encouraged me and shown me that the ability to help others through words is anything but a dying art.

If you would’ve told me at the beginning of my sophomore year that one of my greatest hobbies was going to be writing, I wouldn’t have believed you. Largely due to my experience here at the Immanuel blog, I’ve grown to love the writing process, have started my own personal blog, enjoy writing in my free time and even plan to be an English major when I start college in the fall. You all have provided me with the opportunity to explore an outlet and find a voice that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Again, thank you.

I also need to include a few personal thank yous to make this farewell blog complete: thank you to Hyacynth for all of the hard work and energy you put in to making the Immanuel blog an engaging and fruitful avenue. And lastly, I’d like to give a big thank you to my mom for her honesty and patience in her constructive criticism of my writing. For the Immanuel blog and beyond, I can’t even count the number of times that my mom has ripped apart something I’ve written (fairly lovingly of course), but it has undoubtedly helped me mature greatly as a writer.

Immanuel, I’ll miss getting to share my thoughts with you here, but thank you so much for everything that you’ve given me over the last three years. You’ve taken a 15-year-old, not-too-interested-in-writing kid and turned him into an English major. And in the process, you’ve helped me learn a ton and appreciate the positive potential of words in today’s society.

Thanks,

Grant

Grant headshotGrant Everly is a senior at Warren Township High School and regularly attends church with his family and iMPACT on Sunday nights. He plays soccer, enjoys sports and has passion for learning more about Christ and growing in Him.

iCYouth: When Talking Faith in God, the Head Connection Matters

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By Grant Everly

I’ve been extremely excited about our current sermon series at impact. It’s all about asking tough questions and navigating doubt. I’m loving it because I think it engages a segment of the population that can sometimes be forgotten: the intellectually driven-Christian.

I have a friend who will tell you that having a discussion about predestination, evolution as it concerns the Christian, philosophies surrounding God, etc. helps him more than anything else to grow in his faith. For him, questioning and working out who God is on a moral, philosophical and scientific level is a means to great growth, but the unfortunate reality for many who are similar to this friend, is that the importance of the mind in the Christian life isn’t always stressed by the Church, and I can’t think of a more unfortunate statement to make.

To the world we’ve presented the notion that to be a Christian you must conceal your questions and accept Christ and the Bible on blind faith, but this couldn’t be more false. It is possible, and I would argue extremely helpful, to go deep into the realms of science or philosophy and stay in places that are uncomfortable so that we can emerge afterward with a very well-articulated and solid faith.

icYouth 3.20.15 God is So BigThe fact of the matter is that God is so big that His reach doesn’t stop with the Bible. If God is who we say He is, we should be able to find His finger prints in all areas, whether that be a Biology classroom or a book on the nature of morality. We shouldn’t shy away from this notion. If reading a more philosophical work or having a conversation that makes your head swirl isn’t for you, that’s totally ok. Not all people are geared that way, and that’s part of what makes the world so unique; however, we need to make sure we are appealing to all people, in particular those who are intellectually-driven.

One example I love when talking about the engaging of the intellect in regard to Christianity is Paul. A while back I read Acts and counted each time it says that Paul “argued,” “discoursed” or “reasoned” with a group of people. I counted at least ten times that this occurs. This number may not seem impressive, but given that Acts is only twenty-eight chapters, it’s apparent that engaging intellectual discussion was key to Paul’s ministry. In other words, engaging the mind was central to sharing the gospel with a certain sect of the population. When I read about the ministry of Paul, I can’t help but wonder if we take the time to minister similarly to those who will check out in the absence of intellectual rigor.

So how are we doing in engaging the mind in our Christian lives? Again, maybe talking philosophy just makes you want to puke, or you appreciate it to an extent, but don’t care to dwell on it too much. This is ok. The intellectually-driven Christian is just a small part of the body of Christ that is the Church. But still, we need to do as Paul explains in Colossians 2:18-19. We must ensure that we don’t lose connection with the head instead engaging it.

Grant headshotGrant Everly is a senior at Warren Township High School and regularly attends church with his family and iMPACT on Sunday nights. He plays soccer, enjoys sports and has passion for learning more about Christ and growing in Him.

ICYouth: With Social Media, the Problem Isn’t Our Filters (Grant)

Thank you for your generosity to Immanuel. Because of your geneorsity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

By Grant Everly

Throughout its duration, the Bible continually establishes the concept of Christ’s followers being image bearers to the world. This ideal is one that Christians have tirelessly strived for since Christ’s life on Earth, but it has become increasingly complicated with the addition of all things screen-related.

Social media quote ICyouth blog 2.19.15Technology complicates our relationships in that we are allowed to have an interaction, but we do so without many of the more tangible aspects of relationships. In typing behind a screen we’re at a huge disadvantage because people can’t hear the tone with which we say things, and furthermore, others are inhibited from seeing our true intentions behind what we say. In short, our images can become easily distorted, the last thing we want if we are to bear Christ’s image.

This past Sunday at iMPACT we looked at social media as it relates to Christians and asked the following question: what story do our social media accounts tell?

If we are to be a people truly transformed by Christ, our lives should be indicative of this change on all levels, in particular social media. But this becomes increasingly difficult because communication behind a screen is a completely different world than reality. We’re prone to say things we wouldn’t say in person, and, as I mentioned before, we take out important foundations of relationships, creating the potential for a whole lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions about individuals that will never be resolved without face to face communication. Being a Christian in a technological age is like walking on ice; we may not intend to break through and go crashing into freezing water, but the reality of a keyboard makes it all too easy to do so.

Being a Christian in a technological age is like walking on ice; we may not intend to break through and go crashing into freezing water, but the reality of a keyboard makes it all too easy to do so.

So how exactly does one go about making sure they’re truly bearing Christ’s image on social media? Well, the short and not entirely helpful answer is to be extremely careful. The fact that anything we say is being read through the lens of another person, over which we have no control, should cause us to be very judicious in what we post and how we say what we post. But, more importantly, I think the more we draw close to Christ on a personal level, the less prone we’ll be to have social media gaffes.

Tyler Boyce, the speaker from Sunday night, talked about this idea via an analogy: A lot of times we think it’s our verbal filter that needs fixing, but a filter doesn’t solve our problems. Filters collect the “gunk” of our words, but once the collection reaches a certain point, the filter becomes worthless, as it can no longer block bad stuff from getting through due to it reaching its full filtering capacity. What we need is to fix the “water” that comes through us at its source; when we draw close to Christ, He purifies our hearts, and when this occurs, our tendency to say things that we likely shouldn’t becomes less. Our problem isn’t our filter; its our purity at our source.

So what story do your screen-related interactions show? Is your Facebook, twitter, texting, indicative of a purified and renewed life?

Grant headshotGrant Everly is a senior at Warren Township High School and regularly attends church with his family and iMPACT on Sunday nights. He plays soccer, enjoys sports and has passion for learning more about Christ and growing in Him.

ICYouth: God’s Overwhelming Patience (Grant)

Thank you for your generosity to Immanuel. Because of your geneorsity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

By Grant Everly

This past Sunday at iMPACT we talked about how through Christ we are not defined by our failures. In particular, we looked at God’s patience in the life of Paul.

I love Paul’s story because all of us, to one extent or another, can identify with it. To varying degrees all of us have been lost and have ugly pasts, and what strikes me to be particularly amazing about Paul’s story is God’s overwhelming patience. God did not give up on Paul when he rejected the Messiah nor when he rejected Christ’s followers. Instead, God remained patient with Paul, ultimately working out all of Paul’s past failures for eternal successes.

This truth is one I come back to continually when life becomes rough. In seasons of grief, disappointment, pain, it’s difficult to trust in God’s sovereignty and truly recognize that he will work all things for our good. And what makes things even more difficult is the fact that it’s usually not until far after a difficult event happens that we are able to see what it was that God was protecting us from, teaching us or driving us toward for our own betterment. Sometimes seeing the fruits of God’s sovereignty doesn’t occur in this life. So when we are given a window into God’s sovereign reasoning, we should consider it a true gift of God’s grace.

Similar to Paul, God’s finished product, His masterful creation from seasons of hardship, is worth the failures and struggles it took to be created. Think of what would’ve happened if Paul decided to quit when he became blind. What if Paul had doubted his role in God’s kingdom after his well-known history of persecuting it? Paul’s journey to being purified and sanctified was difficult and unenjoyable, but the finished product was quite beautiful and awe-worthy. So it is, and can be, with us and all of life’s struggles, times of doubt and times of grieving; our past failures and present sufferings can, and will, if we allow them to be, eternal successes.

Grant Everly is a senior at Warren Township High School and regularly attends church with his family and iMPACT on Sunday nights. He plays soccer, enjoys sports and has passion for learning more about Christ and growing in Him.

ICYouth: A Very Real Jesus (Grant)

Thank you for your generosity Immanuel. Because of your generosity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

By Grant Everly

For some reason I found myself reading in Romans chapter one on Christmas Eve; I know, it’s quite a strange place to be on such a night. At the end of Romans 1, Paul talks about God’s wrath, a concept we often like to avoid embracing and discussing. As most of us would, I found myself growing increasingly uncomfortable as Paul rattled off sin after sin, discussing how much disdain God has toward our rebellion. The icing on the cake for me was the final verse of the chapter in which Paul states, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” Romans 1:32

Don’t get me wrong, having accepted God’s gift of salvation, I truly strive to avoid “continuing to do” the things I have since repented from, but I found myself struck by the times in which I’m nonchalant in regard to God’s “decrees,” and couldn’t help but see myself and our sin-saturated culture in the words of verse 32.

It’s all to easy to brush the reality of sin aside; we can often convince ourselves that some sins “really aren’t that bad,” that sin is sometimes “excusable,” but what God has been teaching me a lot lately is that His commands and standards are to be taken quite seriously. There is no room for nonchalance or a haphazard approach when it comes to serving God. We’re either all in, striving to never succumb to sin, or we chose to serve something other than Christ. Now that is not to say that we are either perfect or going to hell. We know that imperfection is certain, but this is not an excuse to lack in resolve and intensity in pursuing holiness, and I feel this is a reality that was made even more clear given the time of year we currently find ourselves in.

I don’t know about you, but for me it seems like Jesus becomes a little bit more “real” around Christmas and Easter. It’s at these times that it’s even more apparent that Christ wasn’t just some historical figure who walked around the Middle East. At Christmas I’m reminded that Christ was a real person who came as a real baby, and at Easter I’m reminded that Christ lived a very real life that ultimately culminated in a real death, characterized by real pain and real agony and motivated by real radical love. In light of Christ’s real person, the times in which I blatantly chose to live contrary to his will seem like an absolute slap in the face to the God of the universe; when Christ becomes a living and breathing baby laying in a manger, it’s a whole lot harder to look with indifference at the areas in which we struggle, and furthermore, when I take the time to be reminded of Christ’s sacrificial death on a cross, it becomes much more difficult to overlook the sin in my life. Christ’s coming truly does change the complexion of our relationship with God and allows us to see our sin as something that shouldn’t be tolerated.

So I don’t know about you, but in the continuation of this Christmas season, and hopefully throughout all seasons, I’m choosing to live with resolve. I don’t want to let the coming of a baby in a manger to be done in vain, and thus am choosing to live intentionally and sincerely for Him. Not out of guilt, but out of gratefulness as a result of the best gift to ever be given.

Grant Everly is a senior at Warren Township High School and regularly attends church with his family and iMPACT on Sunday nights. He plays soccer, enjoys sports and has passion for learning more about Christ and growing in Him.