Remember your leaders…

For quite a few years in a row now, I have had the opportunity to speak to high school seniors during a class gathering.  I had that same privilege again this morning as part of the WCCS Senior Class Retreat.  It was a great joy to spend some time with, listening to, and sharing a few thoughts from the Scriptures with them.  When I asked what their class was already good at, the immediate response was, “we love each other.”  That was great to hear.  When asked what they need to get better at before they graduated, one brave young man said that they needed to mature, which was followed by a round of applause by quite a few young ladies in the class.  While it did bring a few giggles, I really think it was an honest introspection that acknowledged the need for all of them to keep growing up.  I then jumped in to one of my favorite passages to share with high school seniors – Hebrews 13:7 – which says, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God.  Consider their ways of life, and imitate their faith.”  From this passage, I sought to bring out two main points.

First, having noted that they have room to grow, I challenged them to look back (“remember”) at the adults in their lives who have shared the truth of the gospel with them and who have lived lives worthy of imitation.  These could be teachers, coaches, directors, youth pastors, parents, etc.  Most will have just one more year with regular interactions with these adults.  I encouraged them to pay very close attention to their lives so that they may be able to imitate their faith this year and beyond.  Basically, this is a great way to grow!

Seniors and Kindergarteners eating hot dogs together

Seniors and Kindergarteners eating hot dogs together

Second, I turned the tables on them and reminded them that they needed to be those leaders that the younger children “remember” and imitate.  In what I hope will become a long-standing tradition, the senior class will spend their first lunchtime during their retreat on the Lower School campus – eating lunch with the kindergarteners.  I know that the little kids are very excited, and was pleased that our seniors were looking forward to this as well.  I called on our seniors to speak the word of God to them and to live lives in front of these five-year-olds that would be worthy of emulation!  I closed this challenge with a quick thought that brought the most notable surprise on the part of the seniors.  I told them that it was very possible that the kids who are in kindergarten today could be seniors at WCCS when THEIR kids are in kindergarten.  The eyes of ALL of them (and a few of the teachers in the room) got very wide.  I could see them doing the math in their heads.  One young man said, “for that to happen, I would have to become a dad in six years.”  A few chuckles later, followed by a reminder from several teachers in the room who married at 22 and had kids at 24 or 25, the reality of needing to live a life worthy of imitation seemed quite a bit more important.

My closing prayer for our seniors was that they would remember their leaders and imitate their faith; and that they would be the leaders worthy of imitation by the next generation.  If they do, Lord willing, they will be a blessing to the world as disciples of Jesus Christ!

Filled with the Fullness of God…

The entire faculty and staff at Westminster Catawba Christian School has spent this first week in August in preparation for the 2016-2017 school year. We all gathered on Tuesday (8/2) for a time of worship, inspiration, and challenge – joined by the staff of Westminster Presbyterian Church as well. In an intentional effort to keep our eyes focused on Jesus (which is the theme of our summer reading – yes, the teachers have summer reading, too!), we began our time together in worship. We sang together (glorifying God with one voice – Rom 15:5-6), had the Word of God opened to us, and prayed. There were several memorable aspects to this time, but, I am convinced that everyone in attendance would quickly jump to the message shared by Rev. Gene Craven.

Gene has been a great friend of the school for many years. As a matter of fact, he was the pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church when Westminster Christian School was first founded – long before the school merged with Catawba Academy to form Westminster Catawba Christian School. Gene even shared with us that he considers “our school” his baby. Gene is a remarkable man who is eighty-five years young. He is the chaplain at Westminster Towers and preaches three times each Sunday in addition to leading many Bible studies and prayer groups. But Gene would be the first to turn the attention from him to Jesus. And that is exactly what he did in his message to us.

Gene shared three passages with us (Luke 11:13; Eph 5:18; Eph 3:19) – each one calling us to pray that God would fill us with Himself. I am confident that I had heard sermons before on each of the three passages, but cannot remember ever being challenged by them as one message. It was humbling to hear this man of God share with us how God was teaching him what it meant to intentionally pray that God would fill him with HIS Spirit. Here was a man who had been a preacher for SIXTY years telling us that he was still learning and growing in his understanding of what it meant to be filled with the fullness of God – and that, true to His Word, God was answering that prayer and blessing mightily. In a world where Google seems to be the default source of knowledge, it was a striking reminder to all of us. Gene challenged all of us to pray every single day for the next thirty days (to develop the habit) that God would fill us with His Spirit. I am pretty sure that every hand in the room was raised when asked to commit to this challenge.

Today marks day two of that prayer for me – and, Lord willing, all who were in attendance on Tuesday. It is a powerful prayer, particularly when we consider the Luke 11 passage where Jesus says that our Heavenly Father is more likely to answer the requests of His children than our earthly fathers. It is even more powerful to know that those who partner with me in ministry are praying the same thing. Just imagine what the 2016-2017 school year at Westminster Catawba Christian School might look like if all of the adults on campus were “filled with the fullness of God.” I can just see the overflow into our kids and into our community as we educate students to bless our world as disciples of Christ.

In Ephesians 3, Paul prays for the believers in Ephesus – particularly that God would strengthen them through the power of the Spirit… that they would be filled with all the fullness of God. Would you PLEASE pray this for the faculty, staff, families of WCCS – and beyond – this year. And, if you are willing, would you commit to praying this every day for the next thirty days???