Middle SchoolSpiritual Emphasis Week

It’s amazing to witness how God moves through our students during Spiritual Emphasis Week. Hear in their own words what they took away…..

Day 1 Recap written by 8th graders: Violet Bell, Macey Willink, and Zadan Ryskamp

Today, we heard from Christian Arbour who is the student ministry pastor at Kentwood Community Church.  He talked about prayer. He challenged us with full understanding and embracing the power of prayer and how important it is in our lives.  He helped us see that most of us don’t dive into a real faith and prayer life with God because we just pray at meals, or in the morning or before we go to bed.  He told us that prayer is super important in our life, and how it has the power to transform us.  He challenged us to consider what it would look like in our own lives if we set 20 to 30 minutes aside each night to truly dig into prayer instead of the short, routine prayers we do already.

He walked us through some different steps of how to pray. The first step was adoration.  Adoration means to praise God for who He is. It’s important to make sure that we focus on him and not just talk about ourselves when we pray. He talked about the “ABC’s” of prayer time with God.  For example, he challenged us to pick adjectives about God that goes with each of the letters in the alphabet to start our prayer time.  For example, “God you are Amazing, beautiful, confident, dedicated, everlasting… etc.”

Next he talked about how important it is for us to confess our sins. He quoted 1 John 8:9 which says, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” He talked about how if we’re not able to recognize our sin and what we’re doing wrong then we can’t learn from that. Confessing our sins will help us go deeper with God and build a relationship with him.

Then, we talked about thanksgiving. This is where we give thanks to God for all He’s done and given us. He challenged us to look around and recognize all the things we have to be thankful for.  Offering thanks for God’s gifts is super important because there is so much that He does for us, and we often find ourselves taking them for granted.

Lastly, he talked about supplication, where we give him our requests. However, Jesus says, “Not my will, but your will be done”.

Even Jesus, when he prays to God, requests that his desires match with God’s will. It is a good example of how we should pray.  No matter what’s happened, ask for God’s will to be done.  God has the best plan for each of us and when we pray with a heart that understands, God might open doors and close doors to put us on the best path.  

Christian encouraged us to use all four of these steps in our prayer time with God.  He said when we made a plan for when to pray, how to pray and what to pray for, we can transform our lives for the better.  He challenged us to step deeper in our faith, especially this week with our prayer life. Christian Arbour did an amazing job. We are super thankful that he took time to teach us more about prayer. We are very excited for the rest of spiritual emphasis week!

Day 2 Recap “Serving like Jesus” written by 8th graders: Sawyer Scheffler, Peter Behm, and Anna Tibbe

Mr. Michael talked about serving others today in Chapel. A general question we usually have is “Who do we serve?” Jesus answers our question in Luke 10 when he talks about the Good Samaritan. A man was going down to Jerusalem. Mr. Michael mentioned that this was a long walk. It was 18 miles long and along the way to Jericho, a half mile of elevation was lost. It was a steep narrow sidewalk like road, which made the people on the path a good target for bandits. The man got attacked by some bandits. He laid there wounded on the side of the road. A priest of high ranking walked right past him on the opposite side of the road. A Levite (who is set apart by God) also walked right past him ignoring him. A samaritan (enemies of the jews) came down the road and stopped to help the man. He clothed him, cleaned his wounds, let him ride the donkey back to the inn where he gave him a place to stay. He gave the innkeeper money to heal his wounds.

We all have the chance to be like the Priest or Levite and ignore people who obviously need help. We could also be like the Good Samaritan and help people. God calls us to help our enemies and those who hate us. This parable teaches us that we should help others even when you don’t like them or are not in your friend group. We all know that it is easier to love your friends rather than the people we don’t like. When we only help our friends and family we are not being true servants of Christ. If we truly love one another, Jesus calls us his disciples. Truly loving people is when we love everyone including people who may not like us or who are ungrateful for help. Jesus was a model for how to live in love. Even though it’s hard to love people who don’t like you, we have to be like Jesus. Mr. Michael said we need to go beyond just serving those who we like. Are you loving how Jesus loves others? Are you serving like true servants? Are we helping others who hate us, persecute us, those who hurt us? The biggest takeaway we have is we need to be good samaritan.

A few questions to consider are these; Who’s the hardest person to serve? If someone keeps coming to your mind, that is probably who you need to be serving.  Would the world be able to see Jesus in your actions? They should be able to, if they can’t, try to change something. Are you honoring God in the way you act? If you aren’t, you need to remember that the world is watching. We need to ask ourselves, “Who do we need to love?”.

Day 3 Recap “Are you hungry for Christ?” written by 8th graders: Marshall VanderWoude, Arend Clark, Maggie Thompson, and Reese DeKorne

Today was the third day of spiritual emphasis week. We had a new pastor again today from Kentwood Community Church named Angela. She started off chapel by asking us a question. She asked us if we have ever been hungry or are we hungry? She then said that when you go to a restaurant when you are little you almost always order off of the kids menu. She said that when you order off of that menu you are mostly full but as you get older you start to realize that ordering off the kids menu is not always filling and you want to order off of the main menu. It opens up so many new food opportunities.

In the same way we are making food decisions, we are also making those same decisions spiritually. We can learn the basics when we are younger but as we get older we need to expand our palette and dive deeper into God’s word. She read Psalm 63, which is written by David. David is a man that wholeheartedly worked to love God and do everything for him. Anglea said that we need to learn and listen to these passages because we need to strive to be like David.

We need to always have a desire to learn more about God. We are blessed to attend a Christian school and church and it is important to not just make that a routine.  Instead she challenged us to take advantage of it.  She encouraged us to lean in and make the most out of the opportunities we have all around us to learn and grow in our relationship with Jesus.  It is very important for us to go into each day with an open heart and mind. We should thirst for more and not just think of it as “oh we have chapel” but as “ oh! We have a chapel, and I am looking forward to seeing what God has for me today!”

She talked about how there is a new chef’s special at a restaurant every day just like God. He is our chef and he has something new for us everyday. We need to not only take what is from yesterday that God has for us but we need to look at the new day and see what the special is!

She mentioned 3 reasons why someone might not be hungry for Christ.

  1. We are spiritually immature- If we don’t move onto things God has for us and we don’t dive deeper into his word we could die spiritually. Just like in real life if we don’t eat food and don’t expand our palette, we will die. Similarly, if we don’t expand our palette and discover new things about him we will die spiritually.

  2. We don’t fully understand God’s value- Sometimes we are not hungry because we don’t know how valuable Jesus is but in reality, He is more valuable than everything. Our cars, our houses, our money and so much more.

  3. We aren’t desperate enough- If we are not spiritually hungry, we are in danger from the world. The world will try to rip us apart and tell us all different lies if we are not spiritually hungry and learning more about God.

Overall, our takeaway from today’s chapel is that we need to be spiritually hungry and we need to strive to be a man/woman after God’s own heart. Angela ended with a few questions for us to think about and consider.

Are we spiritually hungry for Christ, and if you aren’t how do you think you can become more spiritually mature?

Do we want to be like David and be men or women after God’s own heart?

Do we want to be more like Jesus and less like me?

Day 4 Recap “Identity in Christ” written by 8th Graders; Izzi Noel, Grant Figg, and Evie DeVries

Today was the fourth and final day of Spiritual Emphasis Week. We had another pastor from Kentwood Community Church come in named Dr. Debbye Turner Bell. She is a veterinarian, author, journalist, motivational speaker, pastor and Miss America 1990.  She was a great speaker.

She started off by telling us that she was going to teach us all about identity and asked us what identity means. Some people said it means who you are, or your identity in Christ. We focused on our identity in Christ.

She shared parts of her testimony which included her own journey in finding her identity. She said for years she was living like a chameleon and blending in to fit in. Whether she was trying to be popular, or cool, or smart, she was always shifting her identity and trying to fit in with the people around her.  She challenged us to think about if we have ever done the same thing.

 She shared how she accepted Christ as her savior at the age of 7 at home with her mom but wasn’t living out her faith as a chameleon.  But that all changed when one day her pastor asked her “have you accepted Jesus, but haven’t been living like you accepted Jesus?” Debbye explained that from that day on she dove deeper into God’s word and really accepted him and understood that it was her job to let the light of Christ shine through her in all things.

She shared that society, friends, and the devil will try to tell us who we are. She explained that if we believe that we’re anyone but who our creator made us to be and we believe the lies of the world, that we are dishonoring God.  He wants us to celebrate who we are in Christ. She challenged us to think about how our actions and decisions can ultimately form our identity so we need to be proud of the God we serve and show it and spread it!  She reminded us that the most important thing to remember is what God thinks about us, not what the world thinks of us.

Our greatest success is fulfilling God’s plan for our lives. We’re insulting God if we ever say “I hate my nose” or “I hate how I look in this or that”. God made us in His image. The almighty God, creator of everything, handmade each one of us and God doesn’t make mistakes.

She reminded us of the following truths from scripture.

  • God knows your identity better than anyone.

  • You’re never too young to be used by God. The bible is full of teenagers God used to fulfill his purposes. For example, Esther was 14 when she became queen and saved the Jewish people.

Debbye ended the chapel by saying “what God has for you, is specific to you, it’s powerful and He loves you”.  She challenged us to consider these questions.

  • Have you accepted Jesus?

  • Have you been acting and living like you have accepted Jesus?

  • Do you ever say things like “I hate how I look or I hate how that person looks”? Do you know that each time you say something like that you are insulting God’s beautiful creation?

Application: We can all apply this lesson to our lives by truly finding our identity in not what we like or do, but rather in God. When people look at us they should see God with us and not just an individual.

We ended chapel with different people reading what it says below and then we cheered and celebrated each statement.  We were blessed to be reminded of each of these things today.  It was a great ending to spiritual emphasis week.