ICYouth: Struggling to Forgive? (Grant)

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By Grant Everly

As Christians, there’s a lot of hard questions that we have to struggle through. Questions like, “how am I supposed to forgive people who have horribly wronged me?” “What does it look like to truly trust in God’s sovereignty?” “What does it mean to truly love my enemies?”

This past Sunday at iMPACT we talked about some ideas along these lines, specifically, how we’re supposed to control our reaction to hard and unfavorable things, especially in our relationships with our families. In doing so we worked through the story of Joseph.

Personally, I find Joseph’s story to be one of the best in the Bible largely because he models what it looks like to live by the standards of forgiveness and love that God gives us. Furthermore, Joseph rather remarkably trusts God throughout all the adversity that comes his way, which was a whole lot in his case; sold into slavery by his own brothers, who admittedly hated him, and wrongly accused of committing adultery with Potiphar’s wife, Joseph unwaveringly held to God’s promises. Joseph experienced no shortage of trials, and throughout all that he had to endure God’s sovereign hand can be seen as Joseph eventually ended up becoming in charge of Egypt.

Joseph had a lot he could’ve complained about, and there were plenty of times in which the events happening to him gave his life a very gloomy outlook; however, he never questioned God. Instead trusting Him with all that he had, Joseph continually put his best foot forward.

When tough things happen and it feels like God has deserted us, I can’t help but be reminded of Joseph’s story, which is truly the story of God using the most improbable of circumstances and most unlikely person to accomplish His will. When you think about it this is the story of you and me as well; we’re unlikely candidates to carry out God’s mission, but for whatever reason He chooses to let us come aboard.

Likewise, when struggling to forgive those who’ve wronged me Joseph’s story gives me a whole lot of motivation. Joseph had no reason to forgive and show love to his brothers, who had done something so atrocious to him as selling him into slavery; however, he looked past this and chose to act in a way honoring to God. So when trials and adversity come our way and we struggle with how to react in a God honoring manner, we need not look further than the story of Joseph.

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: Who’s your Zacchaeus? (Grant)

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. 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

There is a subtle component to Christ’s ministry on earth that often gets overlooked: Jesus made himself readily available to those who needed him. Time and time again throughout the gospel we see a man who teaches powerfully, heals incredibly and loves lavishly, but we also see a man who was willing to drop everything he was doing to simply be with and walk alongside those who were important to him.

In light of the Love Does Legacy Summit on Saturday, and iMPACT on Sunday, I’ve continually been struck by just how different the church would look if we had the same mentality as Christ when it came to our availability. There are three specific stories scattered throughout the gospel that have been on my mind a lot this past week. The first two were actually mentioned briefly by Bob Goff on Saturday.

The first is that of Zacchaeus. According to Luke 19:7, Zacchaeus was known as a definitive “sinner,” someone who Jesus could have, but, as he often chose to do, did not overlook. Upon noticing Zacchaeus up in a tree, Christ promptly invited himself over for lunch; he made himself fully available to one who greatly needed him.

The second is that of the suffering and sick woman who touched Jesus’s cloak. The pace of Christ’s ministry was blistering. Have you ever thought about that? We like to talk a lot about how difficult it is to maintain consistency in our spiritual walks due to the fact that we’re so busy. I can’t imagine how this excuse must sound to Christ; He was the man wherever he went. As He moved from city to city doing a plethora of miracles and giving profound wisdom in his teaching, he was ceaselessly followed by people who were trying to get a meager ounce of his attention. Yet despite this daunting pace, and the demands of those around him, when touched by a random woman in a ginormous crowd, Christ stopped everything he was doing to find out who touched his cloak (Mark 5:30). Not only that, Christ healed the woman; He postponed His life so that He could be fully engaged in someone else’s.

The last example of Christ’s availability comes in an often overlooked spot in a fairly common story: In John 4, Jesus has an encounter with a Samaritan woman. Long story short, the woman comes to believe that Christ is the Messiah and goes to tell her fellow Samaritans about their crazy encounter. Upon doing this, many of the Samaritans wanted to see Jesus and ended up urging “him to stay with them” (John 4:40). And as a matter of fact, Jesus ended up staying with them for two entire days, resulting in many people coming to faith in Him (John 4:41).

Throughout the gospel, we repeatedly see that Jesus took time out of his ever-busy ministry norm to devote himself fully to people and groups of people who needed his full, undivided attention. The reality for us is that we all have Zacchaeuses, sick women and Samaritan villages in our lives; we just need to take the time to make ourselves available to them. It’s not easy. Just as Christ had to postpone all of the important things in his ministry, so we may have to put some important areas of our lives on the back burner. But the rewarding reality is that in doing so, those around us are given a window into Christ’s love for us and are able to see the one who made himself fully and eternally available while dying on a cross.

So who’s your Zacchaeus?

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: Our Deepest Need (Grant)

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. 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 looking for God to find our affirmation, and in so doing, a dismaying thought that I’d had running through my head for the past few weeks was affirmed.

Recently I’d been thinking a lot about the difficulties involved with sharing the gospel in America. We live in a society that certainly doesn’t lack exposure to Christ; nearly everyone you’ll ever come in to contact with is at least familiar with the name Jesus, although often people lack in an in-depth understanding of who He is.

Additionally, aside from a general familiarity with Christ, many are also acquainted with the Bible’s story of salvation; however, what I’ve been finding is that the central component in the Gospel of Christ, the area that makes us forever grateful to our Creator, is something quite easily avoidable in America. That area is our need for salvation.

In the United States especially, our own moral hubris is our greatest downfall and presents the greatest obstacle to spreading the good news about Christ. We think we’re really great, really self-sufficient people.

I mean sure, we may mess up here and there, but we’re not bad people for it — right? We like to think we’re pretty substantial on a moral level, but the truth is we’re inadequate to care well for ourselves, and we’re selfish. What’s more is that when this truth begins to hit us in the face we have a plethora of avenues down which we can turn to affirm our value as people. We can turn to wealth, relationships, our occupation, family, worldly success, etc. The truth is that we are lost people — like sheep without a shepherd, we go wayward and wander into places that are downright dangerous. But we’re phenomenal at distracting ourselves from our need for shepherd and from our shortcomings; we’re people who sin, who are really good at avoiding the reality of ourselves.

So on Sunday night as we talked about allowing our value to be determined by our Creator, I couldn’t help but think about how most of our society, Christians included, tries so hard to avoid the fact that we’re people who are in need of the Shepherd. As Christians, we ought to go to the determiner of reality, God; seeking Him for His opinions about us will be far more sustainably uplifting when compared to the short-lived façade we too often try to build around ourselves.

When we choose to acknowledge our brokenness at the feet of the One who made us, we can begin to become whole. When we acknowledge where we fall short, God begins to help us up.

So as we move forth let’s try to be defined by the One who made us, and pray that those around us who don’t know the freedom found in Christ would grow to do likewise.

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: Notes from Haiti (Grant)

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your generosity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! 

A team of 30 high school students and leaders traveled to Haiti July 15-22; this week our student bloggers are sharing their experiences with us.  

By Grant Everly

Day One

“God, you reign, God, you reign. Forever and ever, God, you reign”

These were the praises that echoed in the mountains of Haiti from a dark school bus broken down on the side of the road tonight around 9:30 p.m. In light of the entire day’s happenings, the words couldn’t be more true.

From the 2:30 a.m. wakeup call to embarking from the church at 3 a.m., God, you reign.

From a 6:40 a.m. departure from O’Hare, to touching down and having a two-hour layover in Fort Lauderdale, to later touching down in Port Au Prince around 3 p.m., God, you reign.

Through customs at the airport, and later, while boarding an American made, and, by American standards, ancient school bus, God, you reign.

While frequently stopping throughout the first 3 hours of paved-road-travelling so that water could be poured into the radiator of our ailing and overheating school bus, God, you Reign.

From the poverty of 8’x8’ shacks, starving children, and struggling people, to the grandeur and beauty of Haitian mountains and lakes, God, you reign.

While sitting roadside on a broken-down school bus in a random village in the dark for nearly three hours, hoping and praying that our bus would be able to start back up, God, you reign.

While jostling and jolting for two hours along a pothole ridden, dirt road in the rental vans that picked us up and got us to Pastor Jephthe’s in time for a 12 a.m. arrival and dinner, God, you reign.

Amidst the frustration and befuddlement that only trying to put a mosquito net up at 1 a.m. can cause, God, you reign.

In going to bed at 2 a.m., marking almost 24 hours without sleep, God, you reign.

Forever and ever, God, you reign.

Day Three

Granthaiti1In coming into the trip my prayer has been that I would be clay in God’s hands. I had been under the impression I would be preaching at some point, and this was something that both excited me and worried me.  I asked that if given the opportunity to preach, it would be God speaking through me and supplying me with the courage to say whatever he pleases; I asked that I would be clay in the hands of The Potter. However, today, God taught me what exactly it looks like to be clay in His hands. This afternoon I realized I was not going to be a part of our teaching team for the youth rally. I was initially quite disappointed; however, I was reminded of my prayer for this entire week: I am called to be clay in God’s hands, and that means doing whatever The Potter desires me to do.

Furthermore, God is showing me He knows far better than I do. Those who will be preaching at the youth rally have powerful testimonies, and their stories will be perfect for the topic of the night: The global church. So while God is saying no to me, he’s saying yes to others who will be able to far more effectively execute His plans.

Day Four

Throughout these past few days, and today especially, God has taught me much about what it looks like to truly live each day for Him. Part of what has made this trip so special is the intensity with which we’ve served; from the opening of our eyes to the closing, we’re solely fixated on serving Christ. The neat thing is that this is not something that is unique to Haiti; an attitude of submitting each day to God, can, and ought to be the mentality we assume each day. In looking toward home, this is an attitude I want to be very proactive in instilling in my own life.

Day Six

GrantHaiti2We depart from Jepthe’s compound early tomorrow morning, experiences brimming. I’ll certainly tell stories of the copious amounts of soccer played. Haitians love their soccer and play it every chance they get — anywhere they can find a ball. The soccer players from our team of 33 had an absolute blast playing a whole lot of street soccer with the locals and losing on penalty kicks to team Haiti when we played our interpreters in a Haiti v. America game. On top of all the fun had and relationships nurtured, I feel that God has taught me 3 clear things:

  1. I must retain an attitude that submits each day to God. I want my American days to be as dedicated as my Haitian Days.
  2. I need to find practical ways to fight world poverty. I feel compelled to sacrifice my luxury for a Haitian’s survival. I don’t know exactly what this will look like. Prayer is paramount.
  3. Being clay in the hands of The Potter doesn’t mean being obedient when courage is required; it means letting God have all of you in all circumstances even if he takes you somewhere that’s not necessarily what you envisioned.

Day Seven

GrantHaiti3Today was spent on the beautiful Haitian coastline at Wahoo Bay. The beauty of God’s creation here in Haiti has been a subtle reminder that despite the poverty and strife of this struggling nation, His hand remains on this tiny island.

Tomorrow we head home, and to be honest, I’m ready. Although I’ll miss many of the relationships forged and experiences gained, I’m excited to take all that I’ve learned here back home. Our goal in taking this trip was twofold: To affect Haiti, and be affected. The former has been completed, and now it’s time to take all that has occurred in the latter and radically affect America. So with that being said, I’m excited, not to leave Haiti, but to change lives back home. Gurnee, get ready.

Parting thoughts: Thank you for letting me share Haiti with you. I can assure you that there is a team of 33 that are ready and eager to impact Gurnee and Lake county just as much, if not more than Haiti was impacted by this trip. One week spent in Haiti amounts to about 2 percent of an entire year, and as pastor David Platt puts it in his book Radical:

 “We have discovered that 2 percent of our time living out the gospel in other contexts has a radical effect on the other 98 percent of our time living out the gospel in our own context.”

In speaking on behalf of the rest of the team, we’re excited to see how God uses our one week in Haiti to affect 51 weeks at home.

Grant Everly is a junior 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: Radical (Grant)

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. 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

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working my way through both the book of Acts and David Platt’s book, Radical. Both have ceaselessly convicted me in regard to my often lackluster and self-seeking mentality when it comes to my walk with Christ.

In fact, just tonight I was reading Radical. There was a paragraph in it where David Platt introduces the concept of us being the object of our own faith. He writes, “The message of biblical Christianity is not ‘God loves me, period,’ as if we were the object of our own faith. The message of biblical Christianity is ‘God loves me so that I might make him- his ways, his salvation, his glory, and his greatness- known among all nations.’ Now God is the object of our faith and Christianity centers around him. We are not the end of the gospel; God is.”

Too often I find Platt’s words to be true of me; I make myself the object of my own faith. It’s not something I want or try to do. In fact it’s just the opposite. I truly long for God and his purposes, but I continually find a way to make Christianity about me, as opposed to glorifying God.

As I’ve been reading through Acts, I’ve repeatedly been struck by the early Church’s dedication to prayer and longing for the Holy Spirit. When tough decisions came about they prayed. They continually desired for the Holy Spirit and relied on him to supply their power; clearly this approach to Christianity worked out pretty well, as the early Church multiplied amidst the face of an oppressive Roman empire.

My guess is that if we all honestly scrutinized our own faiths, we’d likely find that we too often lack the desire and hunger for the Holy Spirit that the early disciples had. We neglect the most powerful thing God has left us with, and in the process, we forget about the entire message of the gospel, which is to unquestioningly and unconditionally love and serve God. God’s love for us is lavish and amazing, but we can’t stop with the focus resting on us. We must make God the object of our faith and in the process greatly rely on the Holy Spirit.

Grant Everly is a junior 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.