iCYouth: It’s Been Real (Grant)

Thank you for your generosity to 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?

ic-youth-button

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: A Thank You to my Immanuel Family (Erianne)

Thank you for your generosity to 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 Erianne Thedorf

Immanuel—This name from Matthew 1:23 means “God with us.” Immanuel Church means “God with us Church.” I’ve noticed throughout this past year that at Immanuel Church, this is true! God is with everyone in the Church here at Immanuel. I can see it.

Last year I was baptized on Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is coming soon, and as I’ve reflected on this past year, I’ve felt so much of a change in who I am spiritually; that’s because of Immanuel. I had started attending Immanuel during the summer of 2013 through the summer Deeper groups and attended iMPACT (youth group) as well the following icyouth blog 3.27.15 God with Usschool year. Since attending Immanuel that summer, my faith quickly grew to where I had committed my life to Christ that following April. Since April of 2014, I have grown so much in my faith and that’s because of Immanuel Church. I’ve gone on 4 retreats, participated in Blanket Chicago, went to Haiti last summer, became a leader at iDENTITY, met Bob Goff and was presented with the opportunity to write these blogs — all things that have helped me grow deeper in my relationship with Christ! The love of Immanuel doesn’t stop there because I have another year left at Immanuel until college, and I’m blessed to say I will be going to Haiti again this summer!

The programs and opportunities Immanuel has to offer to people are outstanding, and I am so grateful to be a part of something so awesome. The reason I’ve grown so much in my faith is because of the community of Christ followers who gather at Immanuel. I’ve met some lifelong, Christ-centered friends, and I’m grateful that I can go somewhere every Sunday and see those people and grow in my relationship with them through a common interest: Christ.

God truly is with us at Immanuel Church, and I thank all of the people who have helped me throughout these past two years and who will be a part of my faith for years to come.

ErianneErianne is a Junior at Grayslake North High School. She enjoys books, movies, music and meeting new people!

ICYouth: You are What I Love About Sundays {Trever}

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 Trever Carter

There’s nothing I love more than sentimentality. I love thank yous and letting people know how grateful I am for them. Hugs are one of the best vessels for love. I’m big on “I love you”s. Traditions are irreplaceable, the big ones and the little quirky ones alike. Words on a piece of paper hold more power and weight than most anything else.

My personality certainly drives the desire that I have for these little things. It’s the way that God has crafted me: hard wired to love others and be loved by others. I am so incredibly relational that being apart from friends or family or community for too long tears me apart. And I know that Jesus was the same way. He was consistently in relationship with God, never seen without people and always going out of His way to just love. And I think that is what Heaven will be like–a place full of love.

IcYouthblog 3.6.15 heavenThat’s what I love about Sundays. I love Sundays because it’s the closest I get to Heaven at this point in my life. For those of you who don’t know me, my family doesn’t attend Immanuel on a regular basis. Sometimes my mom does, and it’s certainly a treat; nothing makes me happier than being able to sit next to my mom during service. Just because they don’t attend, though, I’m rarely at church alone. Immanuel has blessed me with family, and for that, I cannot thank you all enough.

God is always present on Sundays. He is present in the hugs exchanged when I walk in the doors and see my friends. He is present in the little hands that I hold walking kids from the parking lot to the building. He is present in every song that I sing, every word that is spoken, every bit of community that is present. And His presence doesn’t stop when the service is over. His presence transcends into lunch traditions and lazy Sundays, family grocery trips and frisbee golf outings when it’s warm. And iMPACT is certainly a way to end the day.

I have had so many memories of Sundays at Immanuel, each just a bit sweeter than the last, but not as sweet as the next, especially as I draw my high school career to a close and have to think about moving on and finding a church wherever I end up at school. But I will say this: I will try for the rest of my life to emulate Sundays at Immanuel. And not just on Sundays, but throughout my life.

I want to make my life about sentimentality. About community. About the smiles and laughter and tears. About quirky traditions. About family. Because I think God looks down and smiles big at all of those things. And Immanuel, you give me just that. You have helped make me into the man I am today, so thank you; you are what I love about Sundays.

TrevernewheadshotTrever Carter is a senior 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.

ICYouth: Out of the Abundance of the Heart the Mouth Speaks (Erianne)

Thank you for your generosity to 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 Erianne Thedorf

“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”

If you think about it, it really is true. Your mouth may or may not always speak your heart, but 75 percent of the time, it does. Some of us might not always truthfully speak our heart or be brave enough to speak it, but for those who do, I congratulate you.

Think of these two scenarios:

1. You have a social media account; you post on it maybe once every other week, and your posts are short and brief.

2. You have a social media account; you post on it once every other day, and your posts are very long and thorough.

Abundance of the Heart blog 2.27.15Now think of the individual social media accounts as books. The first book would be short in length and not include much detail. The second book on the other hand, would be quite long in length and very detailed. If we were to compare them to gauge which book gave us more of a connection with a person most would argue the second book would be best. They post every other day and include lots of detail – you would know quite a bit about that person. The key word, however, is quite a bit. What if we weren’t more than what we posted? What if those “books” were something you would hand to another person if you met them for the first time. The first book provides too little information about yourself, and the second has plenty. However, they are both missing one thing: relationship.

The things you post on social media can or cannot be from your heart, but the gist of this all is that you are more than what you post. A social media account can hold all your pictures, thoughts and friends, but they can’t hold the relationships you make with other people. Like Grant stated last week, “when it comes to social media, the problem isn’t our filter; it’s the purity of our source.” You should think the same when posting on social media — you are more than what you post. That fancy new car, clothes or anything else you’re sharing might improve your reputation with your “friends” on social media, but it won’t improve your reputation with your close friends, and most importantly, God. For they know what’s in your heart truly, and the fact of the matter is you are more than what you post.

ErianneErianne is a Junior at Grayslake North High School. She enjoys books, movies, music and meeting new people!

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.