Spring Week of Prayer – Live Updates
Monday, April 7, was the start of South Lancaster Academy’s spring week of prayer. The week of prayer is taking place at the College Church. The speaker this week is Pastor JP O’Connor, who is the pastor at the Village Church. The theme of this week is true Christianity, and what it really means to be a Christian. This also ties in with this year’s theme of passion. Praise Team started the program with a few familiar songs, and then introduced this week’s theme song, Relentless. Relentless is originally by Hillsong United and is about God’s relentless love for us. SLA’s drama team, Act Up, performed a skit about witnessing to others. Then Pastor O’Connor preached a sermon about what makes Christians unique. He started off by quoting the verse James 2:19 which says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” He talked about how Christians know that there is one God, we know that God created us, we know the truth about Jesus, and all of these things are important, but even the demons know that. We know scripture, but even the devil himself knows scripture. Pastor O’Connor stated that the difference between Christians and demons is love. Christians are called to love everyone and to treat everyone with kindness. The difference is not something external and it is not only about knowing the truth, the difference is the heart. God looks at the internal, not the external. The difference is that Christians have the love of Christ. The pastor brought up the fact that it is crucial for us to demonstrate the love of Jesus, because it is what separates us from the demons, and without love, everything else is meaningless. “if I speak in the tongues of men or angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
On Tuesday, everyone met in the chapel for the second day of week of prayer. One of the highlights of this worship service was a drama skit featuring junior Amber Sanchez and senior Elena Shand. In this skit, Amber played a person who was caught up in a fake image of Jesus, trying to force her religion on others. Elena played a character who truly knew Christ for who he is, and not a false idea of Jesus. This skit was very well-acted and comical, but it portrayed a serious message. We need to know Christ by reading the Bible and having a personal relationship with him, we can’t base our Christianity on anything else. Praise Team sang “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High,” and “Revelation Song.” Then they proceeded to the theme song. We all had prayer and asked God to bless our week of prayer, and then Pastor O’Connor spoke again. Today, he talked more about how love is the key to true Christianity. He also discussed more ways that Christians need to be different than demons. One key difference is that Christians know that God is love. Demons don’t know this. They may know it intellectually, but they are not convicted of it in their hearts. They may have read it in scripture, but they don’t truly believe, or else they would not be demons. In order for Christians to be different, we need to know that God is love and not just know it, but truly believe it, and live like we know it. Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is the eternal life through Jesus Christ is Lord.” We also know that Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The pastor brought forth the message that although we have all sinned, and although we deserve death because of it, we are alive. The very fact that we are alive, although sin leads to death and we are sinners, means that God has mercy on us and is treating us better than we deserve. Jesus loves us so much that he treats us well and even when we do not deserve it. So as Christians, we are called to do the same, to treat others well even when they may not deserve it. Demons are only preoccupied by doing the devil’s work, which ultimately is trying to kill us, but Christians are called to love others, just as Christ has loved us.
On Wednesday, worship started with prayer and Pastor Niño telling a story about how God adopts us into his family and we are his children. Then praise team led out in some classic worship music. There was special music from Caleb Olmedo, Laiza Silva, Dylan Gibbons, and Sam Holguin. They sang “Above All.” The drama team did a skit about being distracted by all of the lies of this world and being separated from God. The song “In The Words of Satan” was playing during the skit. Then, after the theme song, Pastor O’Connor began to speak about the change in the heart that takes place when we become Christians. He talked about how Jesus said we need to be born of the water and of the spirit, but unfortunately most people truly understand the first half of that. Many people get baptized, but being born of the Spirit is a recommitment that takes place regularly. You can ask a group of people whether or not they have been baptized, and they will either say yes or no, but if you ask if they have been born of the Spirit, they won’t be so sure. Pastor O’Connor stated that a key component of true Christianity is to be sure that we are born of the Spirit and commit our lives to God daily. Being religious or doing good things is not what leads to salvation and it’s not the true test of Christianity, the heart is.
Thursday was an awesome part of the spring week of prayer. Everyone was given a sticky note as they entered the church. Then, as praise team led out in “By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North, Pastor Niño instructed everyone to write the things that are holding us back from growing closer to Christ, and the things we need to let go of, on the back of the sticky note. Then we all went up and stuck the notes to a wooden cross. Brandon Beneche, Roxanne Bruso, and Sharisse Rivas, all seniors. performed a skit about how when we think we don’t make a choice between God and ourselves, we’re really deciding against God. It’s one or the other, you can live for yourself and live for Jesus. We also sang the song 10,000 reasons. Then there was special music by Sabrina Mapes, Edyn-Mae Stevenson, and Samantha Crowley. They sang a unique rendition of the “Lord is My Shepherd,” straight of Psalms 23. Pastor O’Connor preached a great sermon and went into further detail about what true Christianity means. He read from Galatians 5:16-20. These verses talk about living in the Spirit rather than in the flesh. On our own, we can never do anything or be good enough but when we walk in the Spirit rather than the flesh, God will lead the way and it will show through our actions. The pastor pointed out that we cannot make ourselves have the fruit of the Spirit. The only way to have the fruit of the Spirit is to walk into the Spirit and to ask God to change us. It’s important to note that the Bible does not actually say ‘fruits of the Spirit’ contrary to popular belief. It says “the fruit of the Spirit,” singular, not plural. You can’t have just one, there’s no picking and choosing. Either you walk in the Spirit and possess the fruit of the Spirit or you do not, and the only way to do that is through Jesus, not on our own. To close, there was a call for anyone who wanted to be baptized to come up on stage, and six people came forward to make the decision to get baptized.
On Friday, the last session of week of prayer at school was truly amazing. Towards the beginning, Pastor Niño led everyone to close their eyes and raise their hands and imagine the day that Jesus returns, and how great it will be. Then Voce performed two songs and sounded beautiful. Everyone sang along with praise team, and then got to listen to special music by Amber O’Connor. Throughout the entire rest of the service, praise team sang. Then we had a communion-type service but there was a difference. It wasn’t regular communion, but it was for people who had some sort of conflict or reason to apologize to one another. Everyone was to wash the feet of the person they were apologizing to. Soon enough, the whole room was full of people apologizing for anything they had done wrong and people praying together. Many people were really blessed by everything that God had planned this Friday.
Posted on April 8, 2014, in Spiritual Life, Top Stories and tagged 1 corinthians, act up, angels, Bible, character, Christ, christ-like, Christianity, christians, demons, demonstrate, devil, Drama, God, Holy Spirit, james, Jesus, passion, pastor jp o'connor, praise team, quotes, relentless by hillsong united, scripture, skit, SLA, spring, theme, true christianity, Truth, Week of Prayer. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.