“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” – 1 Timothy 2:1
During today’s first Upper School chapel, students were given the opportunity to pray for our school, for fellow students, and for faculty and staff. As every person entered the gym, he or she was given an index card and asked to write a burden on it: something from the heart which he or she would give up in prayer. After a time of worship, everyone went back to the same box into which they had earlier dropped their cards and picked up someone else’s. Then each went to God in prayer both for the person and the prayer request he or she had taken. After everyone gathered in the bleachers again, several students voluntarily took up the microphone and prayed aloud before their peers, asking the Lord to bless us throughout this school year.
Equally moving, however, was the fact that a graduate of the Class of 2016, Destiny Perkins, not only joined in today’s chapel experience, but also spoke to the student body about how she misses Hillcrest and the numerous opportunities students here are given to worship. How blessed we are at HCS to start a new school year with boldly proclaiming God’s love!
In Upper School chapel this morning, Kayla Tate — an 11th-grade cheerleader, and Honor Society and FCA member — shared a message which God has recently put on her heart: Kayla said she believes that most Christians truly have the desire to live for the Lord, but fears of being rejected or made fun of, as well as expectations about how the world thinks we should live, often prevent our doing as the Bible instructs. She quoted Psalm 1, verses 1 and 2, which states, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.” Kayla reminded us that in order to know what God expects, we have to read his Word, pray, and live in such a way that others notice and become curious about what makes us different. Then, she added, we must claim the boldness offered by the Holy Spirit and actually tell others about Jesus and knowing Him as Lord.
In other words, Kayla asked her fellow Christians to STAND UP AND STAND OUT for their faith. Finally, she asked those of us who were willing to stand up from our seats and to pledge our intentions to stop being afraid or ashamed and to offer each other support as we live boldly for Christ.
While we are often reminded at Hillcrest how blessed we are to be able to proclaim and worship God freely, that blessing is multiplied when Godly wisdom and Biblical truth come from one so young. Thanks, Kayla, for overcoming your own fears and for encouraging the rest of us to do the same.
It was a great week in the Upper School as we partcipated in our annual Spiritual Emphasis, with chapel each day and even a movie day and popcorn on Thursday. Thank you to all of the speakers who shared messages about overcoming fear and finding hope, as well as to current students and alumni who led the student body in worship. How blessed we are at Hillcrest to be able to learn about, pray to, and praise our Lord and Savior freely!
B.C. Forbes further explains, “….It moves us to think of others rather than of ourselves. It directs our thoughts to giving.” Today is unofficially recognized as the first official day of the Christmas Season. Stores are full of “perfect gifts” trimmed in red and green; ads for jewelry, perfumes, the latest technology, and toys flood the airwaves; and in malls across America, children can be found sitting with Santa and telling him what they hope to find when they wake up on Christmas morning. It’s impossible to miss the theme: Christmas is a time for giving.
Many families have changed their traditions so that gift-giving is no longer the primary focus of this time of year, as some feel that the holiday meant to celebrate the birth of our Savior has become too commercialized; however, giving gifts can be a pure expression of our love for others. In fact, God himself gave humankind the greatest gift of all: God in human form, the only perfect person ever to walk the earth, whose sole purpose was to die so that we might live.
Gift giving can also “open doors” so that Christians might share this good news. For children who don’t always have daily necessities, much less extras such as presents, receiving a gift shows that there are people in the world who love them, even if they’ve never met. This often makes them more receptive to hearing about Jesus, another man they haven’t met face-to-face, but who loves them enough to have died for them. To this end, Hillcrest’s Upper School students donated enough toys and candy to fill approximately 200 stockings, which will allow the staff and congregation of City Church to minister to local needy children.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16