Spiritual Emphasis Week 2023

Middle School students share their reflections on Spiritual Emphasis Week.

Day 1 Recap, written by 8th graders: Zach Perry and Anna Tibbe

Today in chapel, Pastor Craig Perry, talked about Revelation 12 and how Jesus came to serve and how we are commanded to serve. We defeat the enemy by serving others. The battle was won on the cross and the serpent ultimately loses. There’s something bigger, but if we don’t see it we miss the point of why we are supposed to serve. When Jesus came down, died, he defeated the serpent, but even though the serpent is defeated he doesn’t quit, he tries to tempt us to stray away from God.

Pastor Craig also talks about when we sin, we are not only disobeying God, but we are also siding with the enemy. We have to understand that our enemy is real, and also very powerful. We shouldn’t fear Satan but we should respect the power that he has. Satan is not God’s rival, he is an enemy, God is too powerful for everyone. For application, we can remember to keep fighting even when we are tempted. The same power that is alive in us is also the power that raised Jesus from the dead. We can remember to never stop serving even when it is hard. We can serve despite the persecution because we have: the most powerful weapon (Holy Spirit), power of prayer and the gift of the church.

Day 2 Recap, written by: 8th graders Arend Clark, Sawyer Scheffler, Marshall VanderWoude & Macey Willink

Today, Pastor Craig Perry talked about putting others before yourself. He talked about how the key is sacrifice. Are we willing to sacrifice ourselves or our things? He talked about David Robinson from the San Antonio Spurs and how David was a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. He talked about how David’s example benefited the whole team and Tim Duncan became a strong leader who was humble and coachable. David and Tim sacrificed their own selves and led the team well. Tim even told Coach Popavich to start another player over him because that would benefit the team. Another story Pastor Craig shared was about the leading Priest who had a plan to kill Jesus on the night of Passover. They paid many people to help their plan. After all of their plans and all of their discussions, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice by dying on the cross for our sins.

Pastor Craig finished with a story about Mount Everest. He shared that there is a view of Mount Everest that people pay millions of dollars to see. Once a man couldn’t take the hike and travel up to this view. So he had to lie down, almost dying. The group that he traveled with said that they paid too much money to give up the hike and go back early…So the group left him there suffering. Many people walked past the hurt man and nobody cared enough to put that man before themselves and help him out. The hurt man stayed on the mountain and was unable to help himself. Finally, someone came who was selfless enough not to leave the man behind, even though it meant giving up his own hike and view. Pastor Craig challenged us with the idea that Jesus fought the biggest and ultimate battle in history by becoming poor, even though he was rich. This is super important because it tells us that even though Jesus was perfect and rich and powerful, he became poor by saving us. He made the ultimate sacrifice. For application, we can remember that we need to serve people in this world. We can make a big impact by sacrificing little things like a seat at chapel or holding the door for someone. These little sacrifices can go a long way. Jesus won the battle against evil by serving and giving his life for us. The Bible directs us to do the same. Jesus sacrificed his whole life for us, so why can’t we sacrifice these simple things? We need to be willing to put others first.

Day 3 Recap “Loving and Serving Others” written by 8th graders: Peter Behm, Evie DeVries, Izzi Noel & Zadan Ryskamp

Today in chapel we talked about serving and loving others. He taught us that even if we don’t necessarily like someone or don’t get along with them, we are still called to serve. Pastor Perry taught us that when you are a Christian, you don’t get to choose who you love and don’t love…Who you serve and don’t serve. God chooses and loves us even when we sin. At the end of the day, we are all children of God whether or not someone dresses or acts as “cool” as you. So we should all be image-bearers of Christ and love like Jesus does. We can’t just help and serve those who we like, we have to serve everyone we can. Mr. Perry talked about the story of the good samaritan and showed us how it can be applied to our everyday lives. We also heard about a Roman guy who was writing to Christians complaining about how everyone was starting to worship God instead of the false gods he wanted them to serve. People came to become Christians because of how well the people of the Church were treating everyone. No matter what happens, serve others and be like Jesus because to show non-Christians the good in our hearts, can go a long way.

Pastor Craig Perry talked about a Jewish family that he knew and invited their son to a youth group, but they said he couldn’t go because they did not believe the same things about God. But, when they saw the love and care he put into their son, the mom came to Mr. Craig crying and said their son could come to his church whenever he wanted to. The mom told him it was because of the love he showed their son. He quoted 1 John 3:18, “Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” It makes a bigger impact on others to love them in action. Application: We should want to be more like Christ. We should show God’s love to people that we may not want to be around. We think that since people are different we should not be around them. But they are special and we should love and serve them as our brothers and sisters. We are going to remember that God loves us no matter the circumstances, so we should love anyone and everyone the same way he does. He set the perfect example for us so that we do the same thing and lay down our lives to serve others.

Day 4 Recap “Finding Your Identity In Christ” written by 8th graders: Grant Figg, Reese DeKorne, Zach Perry, Maggie Thompson, and Violet Bell

Today in chapel we wrapped up our spiritual emphasis week. Pastor Craig talked about finding our identity in Christ, and not in the stuff we enjoy or value. He started off by sharing a story about how he got to drive his friend’s Porsche. He always knew that a Porsche was a fast car but when he actually got to drive one he realized that it was truly a very, very, fast car. Similarly, we can have a general thought on Jesus Christ and know who he is in our head, but when you take the time to get to know Him, you will realize that there is much more to who God is. In other words, so many of us have the head knowledge of God but the question is have we actually experienced God? Romans 12:5 says, “ So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” This verse reminds us how we, as Christians, need to work together to further the ministry of God. We are also among the Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ so we are called to be with Jesus. The other thing we talked a lot about was whether or not we know and understand that our identity and value come from Christ. Pastor Craig asked us to consider questions like, “Do you know who you really are?” “Do you put your identity in earthly things or God?” “Are you ready to truly experience a relationship with God?” We are called to have an identity in Christ. Our identity should not be in our doubts or our activities.

Pastor Craig made a great point that our identity should be in something bigger than ourselves. Many people now put their identity in sports, jobs, money, clothes, gender, etc. Our identities need to be put in God instead. We as Christians are a part of something bigger than ourselves. Pastor Craig then made a statement connecting to the movie Miracle about working together and not as separate individuals. They were playing their team rivals and were playing very selfishly, the captain asked them who they were playing for. He changed their mindset and they all worked together and won. That is why being in a team is very important rather than working alone. Application: Pastor Craig tells us to live out our faith. By having a relationship with God we have a bigger identity than sports, money, and talents. We are told to live for the glory of God. We belong to Jesus and when you accept him into your heart. We are loved by God and are forgiven. Pastor Craig did a great job this week and we are thankful for the things he said and taught us.