iCYouth: Life with Conviction (Makenna)

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By Makenna Nahorniak

There are moments in life in which you realize the magnitude of the change that is happening, the old ways that are being uprooted and the new dreams that are planting themselves firmly beneath your feet. I’ve been looking for the new thing that the Lord is doing. I’ve been stretching my heart far off into the unknown land that is the future, but Jesus continually calls me to do one thing of utmost significance: Be where your feet are.

We often wonder why we have the tendency to overlook the significant moments. We ponder how we could possibly have missed the grandeur of Jesus’ love when our flesh was frail and weak. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because we all too often become blinded by the glittery, worldly idea that we might become full by the existence of anything other than Jesus.

If there’s one truth that has resounded deep within my heart throughout the last several years of my existence, it’s this: The Lord calls us to live each moment with purpose and deep conviction. He doesn’t simply desire that we know the truth, but He also requires that we act on the glorious truths He has made known to us.

In John 15, Jesus talks to His disciples about the world— the things it’ll expect of them, the troubles that might plague them and the sin that will confront them. He says some startling things in this passage that I think we, as Christians, need to pay close attention to as we walk beyond the doors of our homes each morning to leave some sort of impression on our communities.

John 15, verses 18 and 19 say,

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Jesus doesn’t promise that the world will be enthralled with us as we choose to pursue Him with every inch of our beings. Oh no— He warns those who desire to follow His lead and live lives of purposeful conviction that the world will hate them.

The world will neglect you, it’ll make you feel small, it’ll bombard you with lies, and it’ll call you to fade into the background and let someone else take charge of working for the Kingdom of the Lord. Fellow believers, it is a deep desire of mine to see each of us walking away from the things we place in between ourselves and God — the things that cause our eyes to fall from the only One capable of setting our souls ablaze with truth and life to the fullest.

Let us start today. Let us be intentional in the ways we walk— not as lost and lonely but as found and fulfilled. While we were off seeking a stunning life filled with empty wishes and hopeless dreams, our Heavenly Father had His heart set on a whole and restored group of followers who would willingly cast each earthly burden aside to exalt His precious and worthy name.

I think Charles Spurgeon said it best when he wrote,

“I cannot trifle with the evil that slew my best friend. I must be holy for His sake. How can I live in sin when He has died to save me from it?”

When our hearts are truly awakened to the deeply satisfying love with which the Lord has radically changed our lives, we must respond by pursuing closeness with Him and surrendering to His holy ways. Today, may we find ourselves completely drenched in the Presence of God and captivated by the infinite value of the set-apart lives He calls us to pursue.

Makenna headshotMakenna Nahorniak is a senior at Christian Life School. She enjoys leading worship, singing, reading, writing and using her words to encourage others’ hearts. 

iCYouth: A Year of Changes (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

Such a bittersweet moment as this iMPACT year comes to a close. So many memories were created this year and experiences for which I’m so grateful!

Another winter extreme was added to list, where we fought our way to the top and got 2nd in Broomball! Mafia Madness returned as well, dressing up as mobsters and tackling the scavenger hunts! We then finished off this year with the Impys and said goodbye to our seniors.

Not only was there a goodbye to our seniors, but in the beginning of this year we had to say goodbye to Josh Peterson as the youth pastor as he takes over the senior pastor position in the church.

With the beginning of the year in a sort of rocky position, our iMPACT students were able to hear from multiple of our youth leaders as well as some of our peers included. The search for our new youth pastor had ended when we found Steve!! A warm (but mostly cold) welcome to Chicago in early January!

Steve has been so awesome in already making such an impact at iMPACT! His messages have been fruitful in so many ways and it was a great way to start off the 2015 year. I’m looking forward to seeing just what Steve has for us this next school year.

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

iCYouth: It’s Been Real (Grant)

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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: Unlikely People in Unlikely Places (Trever)

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by Trever Carter

I’ve always, always been a fan of unlikely places. Traditionally, these unlikely places come hand in hand with a wave of sentimentality. Maybe because they are explored and shared with friends, maybe because of that extra bit of uniqueness about them or maybe because of the sense of surprise that overcomes you when you first stumble upon this gem.

Think about some of the unlikely places in your lives.

Maybe its the unmarked coffee shop that sits in the shadow of the bigger buildings around it, but inside is an environment that you just can’t get enough of. And sure, the coffee is great, but the conversation that occurs between friends there is irreplaceable.

Or perhaps it’s that small cabin that has been in your family for years–that old, musty, far-away place you never thought you would use … but in reality, it provides the perfect escape, a subtle unplug from the world, a place where you and your family could go to just be.

icyouth blog 5.1.15It could even be that unmarked road that you pass on your way to work every morning, but have never dared to go down. Until the time when you found yourself early enough to give it a try and you discovered that it gives you the most magnificent view of the sunrise.

I certainly have a few of these places of my own, a couple places that you would double take at, that look a little rough around the edges, but once you give it a little bit of deeper examination, a little bit warmer attention, there is something beautiful about it.

When it comes to the way that God has manufactured my life, I think it would be safe to say that he has made it an unlikely place. My four years of being a Christ follower have been characterized by a lot of unlikely circumstances, in my eyes. God loves the unlikely place, however, and God uses unlikely people in unlikely places to do extraordinary things.

Take Nazareth, for example. Scripture tells us that people thought that “nothing good comes from Nazareth,” but, of course, God had different plans for an unlikely place; God would see a Savior to come from Nazareth.

So I look at my life and all the unlikeliness and I find security, comfort, and encouragement in it. I see my non-Christian family, and I’m thankful because it’s given me the opportunity to be able to really own my faith as my own and make it what I wanted it to be. I see the division in my groups of friends, and I can be thankful because not only have I had the opportunity to have great Christian community, but also live out my faith and learn how to field questions and engage in conversation. As a matter of fact, I think I would be more concerned for myself if I wasn’t in an unlikely place, because God adores the underdog and relishes in their success.

As I get ready to go off to college in the fall, my prayer is that I fall into some more unlikely places. I pray God leads me to find people, places, and experiences that will allow Him to greatest do His work and most live through me. I encourage you to do the same: seek the unlikely and embrace it with open arms, because it’s a great place to be.

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: God Chose You! (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

This week at iMPACT we started a new series called “Unlikely Person.” In the message, Steve started off by talking about certain people in his life that he has met and would have never guessed would do certain things—that they were the most unlikely person to serve Christ, make a professional soccer team, etc.

Along with looking at someone else and assuming that they are an “unlikely person” to do a particular act, we can also look at God and think, “Why would you pick me? Why would God choose me to do this? Why would you use me to spread this message to someone else?”

I personally can relate to this week’s message because before I accepted Christ, three of my family members passed away in three short years and I had a hard time understanding why God chose me of all people to have to put up with the pain. But now I understand why God picked me to go through that experience because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to feel the change inside of me as God has drawn me closer to Him, I would not have found Immanuel and I would not have experienced all that I have in these past years.

It’s reassuring to look back on life and your blessings and understand that most of your life has happened because God has chosen you. He chose you to be a teacher, parent or preacher, but most importantly a follower of Christ! I challenge you to look back on your life and blessings and see how God has chosen for the good or the bad, and realize that He chose YOU!

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