Dear Sonrise Family, 

Next week, our Middle School will be taking a Retreat to Palomar Mountain. All three classes will be attending together, and our hope is to help our students build greater connections with one another and with Christ. Our theme is "Abide", using John 15:4 as our guiding verse. This verse discusses how we are to abide in Christ--to immerse ourselves in him, to know him and to walk with him. The passage in John 15 is about the vine and the branches. We are hoping to help our kids experience what this means. It is a good reminder for us as well. 

I find the passage to be both encouraging and challenging. Jesus is calling us--he wants to be close! There is no question it is we who pull away, not him. He is always as close as we allow him. But sometimes, even in our worst moments, we don't draw close to him. I do the same--I vent, I pull my hair out, I feel bad for myself...all the while he is right there. And his arms are open for us. He calls us to be close, the "Abide" in him. This Greek word, "meno", means to remain or stand fast, almost as if dwelling permanently. No matter what is going on, he wants us to remain in Him; to stand fast. It is also like a friend who is always there, every time, no matter what. And what better friend to us than Christ? 

We hope to help our middle school students understand this. The Savior of the World, the Creator of the Universe, is asking us to stay close. As a close friend would. To live and dwell in his presence, and allowing him to work in our lives as he chooses. God has a great week in store for our kids. Please pray for safety and smooth operations for us as we are up there. 

Thank you, 

Mr. Wheeler