I hope and trust you are having a good Holy Week as we celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection. I told you last week that I would address vocational education in the new campus this week. I know I have done this before, but I am going to postpone that topic because there is something else on my heart this week as I think about Good Friday and Easter. Everything we do at Illiana is about building hearts and minds of our students for Jesus Christ. While we build our new building through bricks, steel, and a lot of hard work; we build hearts through love, patience, encouragement and that work is even harder. A couple weeks ago, I challenged you to pray for our kids. This week I want to challenge you to encourage them (and each other).
Romans 8: 31-34 says, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
I emphasized this text to the student body during our Easter chapel yesterday: because of Christ’s death and resurrection, no one can condemn you. But we listen to the words of Satan, the words of the world, the words of our friends that can tell us that we aren’t good enough. What we celebrate this week and every day is that we have been justified and set free. Jesus goes to bat for us every day. That is the greatest encouragement ever. That needs to be emphasized to our children daily.
But there is a practical side to this. We can share the joy of Good Friday and Easter every day by encouraging each other. The resurrection builds us up and gives us hope, but too often we spend our time tearing down and talking about others. We are not building hearts. I don’t know a person that doesn’t love to be encouraged, yet we do it so little. I also don’t know a person that likes to be gossiped or talked about, but we are very quick to do that. I want to encourage all of us to be builders. Build hearts through encouragement. Take time to write a note, buy a cup of coffee, take someone out, send a text or a social media post or even better sit and look someone in the eye and breathe life into them. Let’s take the joy of Good Friday and Easter with us through every week of the year by encouraging others and being a little more like Jesus.
I want to close by encouraging you. You have all been a blessing to Illiana. You have blessed us with your kids, your grandkids, your prayers, your gifts, your thoughts and your participation in this community. This community has a tremendous challenge of building hearts and minds for Jesus Christ in this culture. We can only do this by working together as a team. I thank you for being a part of that team. We are grateful for all of you. I hope and pray that you have blessed Good Friday and Easter!