jesus died for friendship. will you?

Friendship.

Few people realize how much Jesus actually valued friendship. Before he went to the cross, Jesus said to his disciples in John 15:13, There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This is an intimate glimpse into the heart of Jesus. As the nails were piercing through his hands and his feet, no doubt, Jesus thought about you and me, he thought about the world he was saving, he thought about those who would believe in him after… but as he hung on the cross, I bet you that Jesus thought about Peter, James and John–his closest disciples, his best friends.

Jesus values friendship. He went to the cross for it.

Can you imagine how heart-wrenching it was for Jesus to learn that Peter would deny him three times? Three and a half years of ‘doing life’ with his disciples, and now one of the ones closest to him, the disciple who confessed that Jesus was the Christ the Son of the Living God–now, Peter, would go on to deny he ever even knew Jesus. Not just once, but three times. That’s a burned bridge if you ever saw one. Most people would consider that a definite end to a relationship.

But for Jesus, there is no end.

After Jesus had risen from the dead, the angels said to the women who came to the tomb, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” The very first thing Jesus was determined to do after his resurrection was show Peter how willing He was to rebuild the bridge with him, i.e. to restore their relationship. That’s how much Jesus values relationship.

Are there any burned bridges in your life?

When it comes to marriage, we’ll often say, “Take counseling. Take classes. Do everything you can. Just don’t get a divorce.” And the same thing when it comes to our relationship with God, “Repent. Pray. Turn around. Just don’t forsake the Lord.” We know it is our responsibility to keep those bridges intact.

Yet, for some reason, when it comes to friendships… it’s okay to burn bridges. “This person offended me. Burn that bridge. This person spoke behind my back. Burn that bridge. This person betrayed me! Really burn that bridge.”

We will spend a whole season of our lives building connection with someone, sharing our deepest secrets, and doing life together. Yet, when something happens that creates a riff between the two of us, we decide to burn the bridge and think we can just press “Reset” with someone new.

Friendships were not meant to last for only a season.

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Friendships go way beyond convenience. It’s the decision to say “Yes!” a thousand times over a period of decades that builds wealth in a relationship. It creates depth. Continue reading “jesus died for friendship. will you?”

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kingdom culture (an elaboration)

kingdom culture (an elaboration)

The Kingdom is a Culture of… 
(These core values are also the lens through which we view life… hence the glasses)

1) LOVE

Jesus taught us that the second greatest commandment is this: Love your neighbor as you love yourself. The key is this: You can’t love someone more than you love you. That is, the standard with which you love you is the standard with which you’ll love others.

How does that play out?

We tend not to let others love us more than we love ourselves. When that happens, we start to think, “You wouldn’t love me if you really got to know me, so in order to protect myself from rejection, I’m going to reject you first. I’m going to tell you all the things that are wrong with you, because in reality I’m scared that you’ll discover how unworthy and unloveable that I am.” And we end up sabotaging the relationship.

Also, living in a culture of Love means that you keep love at the center of everything you do.

Love actually looks like something. You can say, “I love you” or “I care about you” all day long, but your actions will be the evidence. For example: love doesn’t look like rude, and love doesn’t look like gossip. There is a visual and tangible aspect of love; and it’s so much more than just an abstract concept.

2) EMPOWERMENT

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Self-control means you control yourself; you help yourself succeed.

“I am not here to control you but to empower you. I come alongside you and cheer you on, giving you to the keys to help yourself.”

Continue reading “kingdom culture (an elaboration)”

bethel, at its core… it’s core values!!!!!

It’s the second week of BSSM! One week has passed. There is so much I’ve received already; it’s hard to put into words. It’s the culture and core values that people carry here–they’ve been hammering it in these past six days. “These are Bethel’s core values! Core values! Core values!” That’s really important here, as I’ve come to realize…

So I will try to summarize into just three points what I’ve heard and received and understood as best I could:

1) YOU ARE POWERFUL

Bethel believes (or really, God’s Word says so) that everyone is powerful. Translation: You are responsible for your own actions, and you don’t need someone else telling you what or what not to do.

That’s called Culture of Empowerment, not culture of control. So within the context of school, that means you won’t have an authority figure breathing down your neck, reminding you constantly when homework is due, or asking you why you didn’t show up to class or to service. No, that’s your responsibility–because you are powerful.

If you don’t want to be here, you are able to. You behave your way out of the organization. In other words, there are consequences to your actions, and at the end of the day, your behavior is your choice.

Quote from the BSSM Student Handbook: “The freedom of the BSSM environment requires a high level of self-management. One definition of freedom we like is, ‘I am able to tell myself what to do and make myself do it.’ That’s called self-control.”

Continue reading “bethel, at its core… it’s core values!!!!!”

that mustard seed “sparkle”

This morning was BSSM registration day. The line was absurdly long, but fortunately I had the pleasure of meeting another BSSM student, Nathan, who stood in line next to me. He must be no more than 19 years old and had just graduated from high school. He shared passionately about his desire for God’s presence and power to invade in signs, wonders and miracles. I listened with rapt attention.

Nathan shared a testimony of a man who had broken his entire left side due to a motorcycle accident. His left shin was so shattered that doctors had to replace it with a piece of metal. He wore a half-body cast, and doctors told him it would take at least 3-4 months of physical therapy before he could start walking again. After a session of prayer and forgiveness—i.e. forgiving himself for the accident—he stopped taking pain medication and went to see his doctor, who told him that there was no more trace of metal in his shin but rather new bone had formed. A few weeks of physical therapy later, the man was walking on his own.

Another true story happened in Chicago during a Jesus Culture conference. Two ladies were walking around a neighborhood looking for people to pray for when they heard a blood-curdling scream from a house down the street. They quickly ran to the house, where a mother was grieving over her 3-year-old son who had just drowned in the bathtub. Paramedics were already at the scene performing CPR, but the boy was beyond rescue. The two ladies refused to accept it and started laying their hands on him and rebuking death to leave. Suddenly, the boy woke up and coughed out all the water. He was alive. He was raised from the dead.

Continue reading “that mustard seed “sparkle””

apples and raisins

My happiness meter is rising, one degree at a time. But it’s a different sort of happiness.

There is also great happiness when I am doing something I love that brings me a sense of accomplishment and success, and also when I am with those I love, my friends and family, making connections with people and being active in different forms of service.

But this type of happiness is something I’ve missed for a long time.

It’s the joy of being alone, with God. Doing the simple things in life, like cutting vegetables, or reading a verse and letting it float around in your brain as you stick out your tongue and taste its sweetness, sweet like honey.

Having the time to take a walk or simply sit still and do nothing, think of nothing. Breathing and soaking in God’s presence. Being alone and yet not alone…

I know this season won’t last forever. And it’s not meant to be. But this is my season of sitting in His shade.

“I delight to sit in his [Jesus] shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love. Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love.”  (Song of Songs)

Yes, Lord. Let me eat and drink deeply now, so that I may be strengthened and equipped to respond in obedience when you call me out of this season. The time will come when I must arise to the challenge of whatever lies ahead.

“Arise, my darling! Come with me! To leap over mountains and bound over hills! Let us go to the mountain of myrrh!” (Song of Songs) 

But for now, I will enjoy apples and raisins 🙂