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Zach Lyons

L O V E     G O D


A few weekends ago, I had the coolest opportunity to teach in JHM on the verse Deuteronomy 6:4-9, specifically going into what it means to love God. And while I may have been the teacher that weekend, I learned and was reminded of some of God’s greatest qualities.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says:

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Loving God with all of your strength means to love him with all that you are and it opened my eyes to ways I was hesitant to do so. I struggle with sharing my faith unapologetically and I thought it would be unfitting that I tell others how to do it. It's something that scares me a lot, but through piecing together this message I learned that inviting Jesus into more of my life doesn’t limit me, it actually does the exact opposite.

I don’t feel the anxious weight on my shoulders anymore, because letting God into every nook and cranny of your life doesn't close you off. It brings you freedom.

I feel more confident when sharing my faith because more of God means a stronger foundation.

I feel more excited about bringing God into conversations because sharing my faith doesn’t have to be something that puts walls between people, but can be an opportunity for them to experience His beauty.

It’s still not perfectly easy, but that weekend was a reminder that God isn’t here to make my life harder. He commands me to love Him with all of my strength- with everything that I am and in all that I do- not to punish me in any way but to calm my heart, open doors, and bring me closer to Him in new and wonderfully exciting ways.

-Izzy Murphy

Student Leader



Hey everyone!

This past week I got to speak at one of my FCA huddles at school! I wanted to share with you all what I spoke about…

Last Thursday was Valentine’s Day so I thought it would be the perfect week to talk about love. Love is one of the most important parts of our faith. It’s the basis of our beliefs.

“Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” - Matthew 22:37-40 NIV

The two greatest commandments are clearly stated here about love. Pretty much everything we believe in is based off of these two commandments. We are called to love ourselves, love each other and love God. So that’s what I am going to go into in this blog.

Loving yourself:

Personally, this might me the hardest one for me. Throughout High School I have struggled to love myself. It’s easy for me to love others and put my trust in them but it’s sometimes hard for me to do that for myself. Sometimes we think it’s more important to pour everything we have into other people and end up feeling empty. We’re always trying to please others and compare ourselves to them. When was the last time you intentionally told yourself I am proud of what I have done and I am confident in myself. For some of you, you may tell yourself that everyday, but for others it could be a rare occurrence. Even though we are called to love others, God still wants us to love ourselves. And you might be thinking where does it say in those verses to love yourself? It says love your neighbor and love God, but what about me. Well actually, when you love yourself you are honoring God as you are his creation and he delights in you. If the almighty God from heaven can love you, you can love yourself. And going back to my experience, this was a hard thing to realize. Last year I especially felt this weighing on me. My junior year was seemingly going well; I was doing well in school, I got some awards, and was even nominated to go to Boys State (a mock government summer program), but I still didn’t love my accomplishments and wasn’t truly proud of myself. Going into Boys State, I felt inferior to the other people who were nominated. I felt like I didn’t deserve it. I got super nervous leading up to it and the first day was scary. I still didn’t feel like I belonged there. It wasn’t until the second or third day that something changed. I was sitting alone and all of those thoughts about feeling inferior were racing through my head, but God spoke to me in that moment. The speaker said something very simple about being proud of everyone who made it and for some reason it hit me right there. I realized how much God had loved me and how proud he was of me for being there. It didn’t matter how far I got at Boys State or if I was the smartest one there because God was proud of me no matter what. So I want to speak to any of you who feel you are inferior or that you don’t measure up and tell you that you are loved and God loves you no matter what. In the midst of me saying this I still struggle and feel this way pretty often, but I keep pushing to get better. It’s a battle, but it’s a battle worth fighting. And once you can love yourself it becomes easier to love others.

Loving others:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” - John 13:34 NIV

Some of you guys might be thinking that loving others is easy. And sometimes it is, but often we find ourselves loving people conditionally. We find ourselves saying, if this person is nice to me, if this person is a good person, if this person makes me feel happy, if, if , and if. We can’t say we love someone without one of these conditions. But in Matthew 22:37-40 he doesn’t say love your nice neighbors, love your good neighbors, or even love your Christian neighbors. He just says love your neighbor. And there’s a difference between love and like that I’ve learned. Like is conditional. Like is they hurt me and I don’t LIKE them right now. Like is I like that movie, I like that food, I like that sport. But to love people is different. And in our culture the L word is so scary to use. But the truth is we can and should love everyone. That person who you know is going down the wrong path and is doing bad things is someone you are called to love. That person who was mean or annoying to you is someone you were called to love. So go spread love, and don’t hold back. We weren’t meant to give our love to only certain people at certain times. We are meant to love everyone despite times that we may not like them.

Loving God:

Lastly, this is the most important as everything else flows from it, we are called to love God. It’s the first and greatest commandment. So what does loving God mean? Well there are many ways to love God. Obeying his calling, praying to him, devoting your life to following Jesus are a few. But even more than that, when you love others and love yourself, you are loving God as that is what he calls us to do. He set the perfect example of love when he sent his son to die on the cross for our sins. This is unconditional love. And we can only try to follow that example by loving others and ourselves unconditionally.

All of these things together make up what we are called to do as Christians. It’s something that’s kinda simple when you think about it, but we make it so much more complicated. One person I think represents this idea of love really well is Mr. Rogers. I’m not sure if you guys know Mr. Rogers, but this past year I saw this great documentary about him called ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’. Mr. Rogers was a great man who hosted a children’s tv program and helped many young children grapple with serious, real life situations such as loss and divorce. But what many of you don’t know is that he was also an ordained minister. While he didn’t always use his platform to spread the gospel, he did spread love through his actions and everything he did for many children and people. He was once quoted saying “love is at the root of everything, all learning, all relationships, love or the lack of it”. Mr. Rogers showed love to everyone despite race, gender, sexual orientation, or disabilities. He loved all those people, and even more, despite anything they’ve done or were doing. And that’s what God wants us to be. He wants us to be people who love others no matter who they are or what they’ve done, and to love ourselves because he loves us. It can sometimes be hard to love in the midst of insecurities, loss, anxiety, and heartache, but God loves us all the time and he calls us to act upon his love and follow his example.

-Zach Lyons


Student Leader

Worrier vs. Warrior

Worrier vs. Warrior

You have a test tomorrow, and you have been so busy with other homework that you have barely studied for it. It's late, you're tired, and you just don't feel like there is any possible way you could do good on this test. Now you can't stop worrying and stressing yourself out about that test. Flash forward to the next week when you get your test scores back. You find out you got an A. Now you're thinking: Why did I worry so much about this test in the first place? Could I have done just as well without all the worry and stress?

Full disclaimer: I may be writing this devotional about how to help with worry, but I still find myself worrying about things that I didn't need to worry about in the first place. Despite this occasional worry, I don’t identify as a “worrier”. And I’ll admit it, I used to be a worrier. It's funny to look back on freshmen year going up to my junior year and see how the workload and difficulty has increased, yet my worrying and stress has decreased. The thing that has helped me to lower worry and stress is knowing that God is with me no matter what happens, if I fail or if I succeed.

Too often we find ourselves worrying about little things or things that we can't control. We worry about grades, appearances, popularity, and much more. In reality, one bad test won’t ruin our lives, yet some of us treat every test like it determines our future. Worrying is a habit and it's a tough one to break. To fight worry, you must learn how to trust God. We must know that worrying about things is pointless because we have a God who cares for us and won’t let us down. In Matthew 6:26-27, Jesus teaches us that we should trust him instead of worrying:

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”

Matthew 6:26-27

If God can feed helpless birds, we should be able to trust that he will take care of us. We must learn to let go of all fears that something bad will happen and just let God do his thing. God wants to take away our burdens and let us live a stress free life. 

So instead of being a worrier, I call all of you to be a warrior. A warrior deals with a lot of stress and conflict, but a warrior pushes through all of it without worry. If we let God carry our burdens, then we can boldly fight through all of our challenges. And I will tell you that it is not an easy task to accomplish. It's human nature to worry when things get tough. It may be a long journey to go from worrier to warrior, but it is definitely worth it. When times get tough we can always look to God for strength and guidance. 

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13 NLT

This is a great verse to remember when we are going through difficult times. When we are consumed with worry and anxiety, God can give us strength and let us become warriors.


HSM Student Leader


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If any of you have ever watched Winnie the Pooh when you were younger, you know one certain donkey named Eeyore. This donkey walks around all day and is nothing but negative. Everything he says is mopey and no matter what people do to try and cheer him up he will stay the same way. Sometimes having Eeyore can be a real buzzkill.

Most of us have this Eeyore in our lives and some of us may even be an Eeyore. While Eeyore does have some good qualities and may be a good donkey if I got to know him, he doesn't seem like the kind of donkey I want to be around. As followers of Christ we need to know that we can have joy through whatever circumstance we are in, so we don't have to act like Eeyore. 

1 Peter 1:6-7 says:

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

When we hear "trials" and "grief" we usually don't think of joy, but we are shown that through God that we can have joy in our hardest circumstances. Wouldn't it be amazing if we could live this out every day. And when people see this they are going to want what we have. People always say that they want to be happy, but only we know exactly how to be happy. Jesus will give us a lasting joy instead of momentary happiness.

As Christians we should be more like another Winnie the Pooh character named Tigger. Tigger is always happy and trying to cheer people up. If we could all be like Tigger, we would show others how Jesus' love affects our lives and help them live a life just like that. So today, think about how you could be less like Eeyore and more like Tigger.



Student Leader