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Christian Life, Relationships, young adults

Three Keys to Kingdom Community

November 14, 2016

 

 

It’s slightly mind-boggling to think that the Christian God, trinitarian, three-in-one, has been in eternal community. A couple weekends ago at Verge’s Midwest Leader Advance our focus was on developing kingdom community, the foundation of which is the God who created humanity in his image – crafted to function in connection with others of our kind.

As he nears his crucifixion Jesus shares much of significance with his twelve closest disciples in John 14-18, and there are some incredible, counter intuitive insights into what makes (or breaks) Kingdom community. During the first session of Leader Advance we spent some time in John 17:20-26 uncovering three of these keys. If you weren’t at Leader Advance hopefully this recap is helpful to you.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am,and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Kingdom Community Requires Receiving

“ I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity”

The foundation of everything in the Kingdom of God is the humility to receive the gift that the Father has given in Christ. Here in this prayer shortly before his murder, Jesus declares that “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.” The glory that Jesus gives from his Father is the means of one-ness for those who follow him, but it requires that we be able to receive. We can’t have community if we insist on staying self-sufficient. It is the realization that we are deeply in need of our good God’s gifts that opens the doorway to deep relationships.

This principle plays out on a human level as well. Heaven’s kind of relationships cannot happen unless all who are a part of the community are willing to receive from all others. There’s no room for one-way streets. The richest community member must acknowledge that they have things to learn and receive from the poorest; the most mature believer that they can be taught by the newest.

Kingdom Community Requires Glory-Giving

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one

Our God’s glory is incredibly counter intuitive. As He showed through the cross, it is in pouring out and giving of himself that God’s glory is most brilliant. His sacrificial love for the sake of others reveals the essence of his beauty, so much so that Jesus is able to say here that he has given his followers the same glory that the Father had given him.

Stop and think about that for a moment. How much of His glory did the Father give to the Son? All of it. Scripture makes clear that Jesus was God; that his glory was God’s glory. Here he is saying that he’s giving that same glory to his followers. In Jesus God gives his brilliance to his followers, “that they may be one.”

The biblical terms for glory, doksa and kabo both point to glory as the intrinsic worth or essence of a being. The Apostle Paul expands this term to apply to created beings as well as God himself in 1 Corinthians 15, saying,

“There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.” (v.40-41)

My friends, you have a kind of glory that’s been placed in you by God. It’s not enough for us to simply receive the glory that is given to us. As Jesus demonstrates, the glory of God is revealed in the giving. If we are to have Kingdom community we must become proficient at giving of the glory that we have been given. We must give of ourselves by sharing our stories in all their gritty detail, sharing our lives in the truest forms of discipleship, and sharing our authority and responsibility.

Kingdom Community Requires Knowing and Naming

I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

According to Jesus when we know the name of the Father we are filled with the love that the Father has for the Son. Biblically, names has significant meaning and reveal much about the character of the one who is named. To know the name of someone is to know who they truly are – their character and identity.

The first question we must ask ourselves is, are we listening to Jesus as he continues to make known the Father to us? Are we hearing what he is speaking, or have we blocked ourselves off and begun to ignore the things about the Father that we find inconvenient, difficult, or uncomfortable? To the extent that we stop listening to Jesus making known the Father to us, we will be unable to receive or give the love that Jesus has for us.

The second question is, are we knowing and naming those who are in community with us? Do we know their stories and how God has created them? Are we naming them for who God is calling them to be, or simply content with how things are? The purpose of Jesus’ “making known” the Father’s name is “that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” The knowing is meant to lead to a change in the knower’s life. If our communities are growing in knowledge about each other and God but not changing their lives, something is missing.

To have community we must know each other deeply and call (or name) each other to be who we truly are in Christ.

Three keys to kingdom community; receiving glory, giving glory, and knowing and naming. Each of these things are have been done by the Father, the Son, and the Spirit since eternity past. Now, through Christ, we are invited into the dance and can participate in the kind of community that God created humanity for. May we do so, and in doing so bring light to this lonely world.

 

 

 

Christian Life, Relationships, young adults

Security Devices

September 27, 2016

 

 

 

Have you noticed how we use our phones as escape routes from uncomfortable situations? In a conversation with someone new there’s an awkward pause, so you whip out your phone to check time/weather/facebook/texts. You’re walking down the hallway and have to pass someone you don’t really feel like talking with, so you pull out your phone and keep your head down, safe knowing that you have an excuse for not interacting. You’re at a party and not sure who to talk to, so you find a quiet corner, pull out your phone, and start scrolling through some social media feed, immediately feeling safely insulated from loneliness.

When our phones become security devices and means of escaping the uncomfortable, they’re taking on a role that Jesus is meant to play in our lives. To the extent that we do that, we’re making our phones into little electronic gods, worshipping them for the way they protect us by devoting our attention to them. Let’s not do that. I’ve written before about the danger of finding security in anything other than Jesus, so I won’t re-hash that point here.

But that’s not the only problem with going to our phones as a means of escape. On top of subtly allowing our phones to become gods, using an electronic device as a means of escape from human connection is making a huge statement about what is valuable to us. When we choose a comfortable, digitally-mediated world of social media over the opportunity for direct human connection we’re declaring that we don’t value the person in front of us. We’re declaring that our comfort is more valuable than another person’s God-imaged humanity. That we will gain more from our phone than we would from them.

Let’s not be people who turn to our security devices at the least sign of awkwardness or discomfort. Instead let’s press into conversations, honoring one another by giving each other our full focus. If you’re in a large group gathering and left standing by yourself, rather than turning to your phone look for someone else who’s by themselves and go connect with them. If you’re in a conversation and there’s an awkward silence don’t check the time – instead smile, remind yourself that quiet is ok, and compliment the other person about something small.

In all of this let’s turn first to Jesus, the only one who truly gives security and peace and power to connect with one another. Don’t replace him with a 4-inch LCD screen.

 

 

 

Communication, Relationships

When Sorry is Insulting

June 1, 2016

 

 

Normally my posts here are written from the fallout of whatever recent biblical learning I’ve been doing, but today’s post is a bit of a departure from that. It’s more personal opinion than biblical exposition, but I firmly believe that it lines up with some key truths that are laid out in God’s word, such as Paul’s exhortation to “Outdo one another in showing honor,” (Romans 12:10) or James’ declaration, “Let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no.” (James 5:12)

Sorry By Default

Have you ever met someone who is constantly apologizing for what they have (or haven’t) done? Have you ever been that person? The answer to both of those is most likely yes, particularly if you’ve grown up in the Midwestern USA, where niceness is the chief of virtues.

  • A friend’s car breaks down, they call you and ask you if you can give them a ride to work and on the drive there they apologize multiple times for inconveniencing you and making you drive them. You have to repeatedly tell her not to worry about it, it’s no big deal.
  • You’re short on money, just a few days away from the next paycheck and have to ask your roommate if they’ll cover the full rent until you get the cash to pay them back. You’re terribly sorry, and say so a couple times each day until you pay them back. He starts laughing at you every time you say sorry, saying it’s totally fine.
  • You’ve had a frustrating day and come home to your significant other and immediately start pouring out how you’re feeling. After a few minutes you realize that you’ve been doing a lot of talking and shift from sharing your story to apologizing for how much you’ve been talking.

It seems like we’re sorry by default, operating in a constant state of regretful apology for the thousands of small things that we do to inconvenience others. But is sorry really the best way? Is piling apology upon apology the proper thing to do when we mess with someone else’s plans or schedule? I submit that in most of these cases it’s not. In fact, apologizing for small inconveniences is, more often than not, a subtle insult to the people you’re apologizing to.

The problem with sorry is that it assumes the worst about the other person. It assumes that they’re petty enough to be offended by your request for help, that they’re angered by the minor inconvenience you’ve caused, or that they don’t care enough to listen to your problems. In short, it assumes that they lack character and love; that they’re missing the patient, kind, gentle fruit of the Spirit and that you need to request their forgiveness because you’ve sinned against them somehow.

Giving Honor Instead

What if rather than of apologizing for the small inconveniences that we cause to those whom we love we instead showed honor, thanking them for their patience, kindness, gentleness, and self control? What if rather than putting ourselves down we lifted others up, affirming the good and Godly character that they demonstrate in those moments?

Saying sorry doesn’t build the other person up, particularly if they don’t feel there’s any reason for you to be sorry. Now that Kelly’s in the third trimester of her pregnancy she’s finding it increasingly difficult to sleep and moves around quite frequently, occasionally waking me up. When she says “thank you for being patient and not being annoyed at getting less sleep,” that is far more up-building than if she were to meekly apologize for keeping me awake.

Where can you replace your pointless “Sorry” with powerful words that give honor? Who can you thank today for the way they’ve shown the fruit of the Spirit toward you? There are, of course, countless times where sorry is the appropriate path, but let’s not have it be our default. Instead of lowering ourselves, let’s raise others up today!

 

 

Best Of, Christian Life, Commentary, Relationships

Love Promoter

October 19, 2015

We Christ-followers should be known for our love. Known for the way insults and offenses simply slide off of us. Known for our imperturbable friendship. Sadly more often than not we’re known for our bigotry, bias, judgment, and being easily offended.

Let’s take a moment and soak in the wisdom of the words from Proverbs 17:

Whoever promotes love covers over an offense,
but he who repeats the matter separates close friends. (NIV)

Or, put another way,

Whoever conceals an offense promotes love,
but whoever gossips about it separates friends. (HCSB)

Which are you going to operate as today? A love promoter or a friend separator?

Follow the leader. Take your cues from Jesus. He paid with his own life to silence Satan’s repetitions of our sins, casting them away beyond anyone’s reach, as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103).

Jesus’ primary act of love wasn’t his healing or his teaching; it was his covering of our offenses. In the same way, your ultimate act of love today will be the way you pass over the offenses that come against you.

Let’s learn how to let the small frustrations go and instead find joy in Christ. Let’s learn how to address the big issues honestly and then forgive them, covering them with grace for the sake of love, never bringing them up again. Let’s become the kind of people who others know they can entrust themselves to as close friends.

When that happens they can’t help but meet Jesus. Let’s be love promoters, not friend separators. In Jesus’ name.

 

 

 

Christian Life, Relationships, Spiritual Growth

Pleasure and the Death of Love

July 29, 2015

“Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”
– Proverbs 21:17

We’ve been raised in a culture defined by instant gratification and total satisfaction. If you want it then getting it now is necessary and good, no matter how much costs you in the long run. Across my generation the lusts of the flesh are deep strongholds.

One of the most deadly ways that I’ve seen Christians worship pleasure is the way we avoid relational tension. Rather than engaging in deep relationships and dealing with each others issues, we maneuver with impressive skill to keep things surface level for decades. Rather than doing as Jesus commanded and exhorting each other towards righteousness by confronting one another’s sin we settle for the pleasure of peaceful relationships while our brothers and sisters drift further from their true identity in Christ, selling souls to purchase the pleasure of tension-free relationships. Doing so will inevitably lead to being poor in eternity.

We need to be wise investors, storing up treasure where it will give us the greatest return. In the context of relationships that means being willing to have hard conversations with people, sitting through the pain of long silences, going through the struggle of learning to love people who frustrate you, and being strong enough in grace to stay in a community when everything in you says run away.

It means setting aside the lie that the goal of Christian relationships is the pleasure of niceness and replacing it with the deep truth that God’s intention is for our relationships be filled with the power of love. Love that looks like Jesus. Love that serves when it’s tired. Love that tells its friend to their face when they’re thinking in line with satan rather than the Father. Love that gives up it’s own comforts for the sake of comforting others because it cares more about other’s good than it does for itself.

If we pursue pleasure for its own sake, our relationships will never have the deep-rooted love that God means them to have. Pursue comfort now and live in poverty for eternity. Follow Christ now and spend eternity in the fountain of pleasure, surrounded by the riches of God’s goodness. Whoever loves the pleasures of this world will be a poor man, but the man or woman who loves Christ and gives all to follow as He leads has infinite riches at his disposal.

The Apostle Paul speaks of how he could abound in all circumstances. He had the same joy and satisfaction in prison cells and barren streets as he did during times of feasting and comfort. I want us to be people like that – people who don’t depend on our circumstances for our happiness or abundance. People who will lovingly confront and coach each other for the sake of eternity, even if it means things are harder in the moment. That is, after all, what Jesus would do. That’s what love looks like.

Let the life of Christ live in and through you, even when that means doing hard things. As you do so you’ll discover depths of love that you’ve never seen before.

Culture, Relationships

The Starving Generation

April 21, 2015

 

One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.

– Proverbs 27:7 ESV

 

The simplest way to lower your grocery bill? Never go shopping when hungry. Inevitably, no matter how disciplined you are, you’ll be drawn to buy things you don’t need if you try to buy groceries on a grumbling stomach.

Our bodies know when they need something to fill them, and the most rational of minds can be driven to terrible action by the cries of a starving stomach. The writer of Proverbs taps into a principle that is amazingly applicable in our day when he writes, “One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.” The point is clear – if someone is hungry enough even things that would normally be disgusting will seem appealing.

When we see our culture turning towards homosexuality, promiscuity, gluttony, and blatant sin, our first thought shouldn’t be “What wicked people! God’s going to judge them.” Instead, we need to use the wisdom that Proverbs talks so frequently about to discern the motive is behind such sins. More often than not it’s a hunger that has gone so long unfulfilled that the bitter has begun to taste sweet. The lesbian woman has a history of sexual abuse by her father as a child and a string of abusive relationships with men that have left her so starving for love and affection that the bitter, skewed love of homosexuality tastes sweet. The transgender man becomes a woman in search of an affirmation of his own identity because of his grandmother’s distortion of love, his own fear, and an uncle’s teasing and abuse. True story. The Christian man turns to alcohol because he feels he never lives up to God’s or his own standards and doesn’t have anyone else to support him.

To the starving person even what is bitter and poisonous will taste sweet. But, beauty of beauties, the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ offers in itself and in it’s people the sweet fulfillment of God and his people’s love, if only we will receive it. If only we will give it. Jesus himself does this with the samaritan woman at the well. Rather than beginning with rebukes for the woman and her long line of husbands, he offers her a well that will never run dry and a drink that will keep her from thirsting for the comfort of yet another husband. We may need to take a cue from Jesus here and change what we lead with in our Gospel presentations.

The Apostle Paul makes the amazing statement that “The God of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers.” How can Christians get angry at blind people for stumbling around and breaking things? How can we who have an abundance of food stand by and curse those who are starving and destroying themselves and those around them? Rather than spending time railing on social media about political parties or government policies, God’s people should be on the front lines distributing the only food that will satisfy those starving souls. Instead of standing by and telling the starving man to stop eating rotten meat we ought to be in the streets preparing a meal whose fragrance will fill cities and draw men and women to the meal that Jesus offers in himself.

Christian, come to Christ and receive him as your satisfaction. Learn the way of drawing and drinking from the wells of his delights. Then, as you have received so give. Go abroad and offer the gospel news that God himself will fill every void in the human soul; that the Holy Spirit will bring peace where there was anxiety and love where there was loneliness; that the Father invites them into a family that is whole and free from abuse and need to perform.

We live in a starving generation. They’re eating anything that is sold to them by the world, by Satan, or by the lusts of their flesh. We’ve got something that is so much better! Let’s offer it.

 

Best Of, Christian Life, Relationships

Seven Habits Single Men Must Master

March 28, 2015

Kelly and I spend a lot of our time with singles, both young men and young women. It’s awesome. Things change significantly when you get married and both Kelly and I want to intentionally engage with singles regardless of how long we’ve been together.

Over the few years we’ve been married I’ve learned things I didn’t know about Kelly and women in general, and have also noticed that there are a large number of young men who are woefully equipped for marriage on a practical level, despite their earnest desire to find the woman that God has for them and their excellent character. I wanted to take a few minutes and outline seven practical habits that every single man must master if he’s going to operate well in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex – especially in a marriage. None of these are deep spiritual truths. These are practical habits and skills that will each make significant differences in the quality of relationship with your future wife. None of them are difficult but all take determination and practice to build into your life. Trust me, it’s worth it.

  • Habit 1: Clean up after yourself. Somehow it’s seen as socially acceptable for single men to have apartments where dishes are piled high next to the sink and food is slowly molding away in the refrigerator. From an objective standpoint, that’s both gross and unhealthy. From a woman’s standpoint, it’s disgusting and a complete turn-off. Get in the habit of cleaning your apartment, your room, your bathroom (especially your bathroom) and your car on a regular basis. Make sure the place smells clean. Dust. Vaccuum. Mop. If you’ve moved out of your parents house and are desiring marriage, you need to be enough of a man to clean up after yourself consistently and not just when you’re having people over.
  • Habit 2: Clean yourself up. No woman wants to cuddle with a man who smells like sweat and body odor. Care about the body that God has given you. Keep it clean, wear deodorant, and dress well. Don’t live in sweatpants and t-shirts with superheros or video game characters on them. Have a full beard? Groom it well. Can’t grow a full beard? Stop trying. Clean yourself up and be intentional about your appearance. This isn’t vanity. It’s honoring God with your body by caring for what he’s given you.
  • Habit 3: Fix things. Some guys are naturally handy around the house and can fix just about any problem that comes up. I’m not one of those. But even if you’re like me, develop some basic knowledge and skills about how household appliances and systems work so that you can fix minor issues that come up regularly. Figure out how to fix a toilet that keeps running, a leaking pipe under the sink, how to change the oil and replace headlights on a car, how to deal with computer problems, and the like. Your future wife will be hugely blessed and will have a greater respect for you.
  • Habit 4: Know when not to fix things. Some stuff is beyond your skill level. Develop the skill of knowing when something needs to be done by a professional.
  • Habit 5: Be romantic. Hollywood doesn’t seem to think so, but being romantic is a skill that you can develop. Be consciously developing yourself in this area and you won’t regret it.
  • Habit 6: Applaud differences. Your wife is going to be drastically different than you. God generally tends to bring people together who are almost total opposites. When you get married you can choose to value, be thankful for, and rejoice in those differences or you can get frustrated and bitter that the woman God have you isn’t more like you. Practice now by pressing into relationships with people even if your differences frustrate you sometimes.
  • Habit 7: Manage your money. The vast majority of young men I talk to don’t think much beyond the current paycheck. That can work when you’re flying solo, but when you get married you need to start operating as a couple when it comes to money. Get in the groove now by developing a budget and being aware of where your money is going. Use a free finance service like Mint or invest in a program like Quicken. Start out with checking your account balances and where your money is going on at least a weekly basis. Read a book on money management. Start saving at least 10% of each paycheck. Money can be a serious source of tension in a relationship. Prevent that by developing the skill of managing it well now.

Young men, press into these habits and skills. Start now so that you have a sound foundation for when God brings a woman into your life.

Christian Life, Commentary, Relationships

Forgiveness and Blessing

March 18, 2013

 

 

A few days ago Kelly and I completed the book of Job in our Bible read-through. As we were reading that last chapters, I was struck by verse 10 of chapter 42. God rebukes Job and Job readily repents of his questioning. God then turns on Job’s well meaning but rather wrong friends, cursing them and commanding them to sacrifice and have Job pray for them. Like Job they do so and demonstrate their repentance. The Lord accepts Job’s prayer and turns his anger away from the men, and then we read this verse; “And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10) Those two sentences hold a truth that is massively important for us to grasp.

In God’s economy, forgiveness precedes blessing.

It isn’t until Job has forgiven his friends for their harsh words towards him that God restores his fortunes. It’s implied that, had Job acted unrighteously and refused to forgive, he would have been left with only the clothing on his back. His fortunes were restored “when he had prayed for his friends,” not before.

Jesus himself tells his disciples to pray the strange words, “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12)  Judging by that prayer, our sins are forgiven with the same measure that we forgive others sins against us. If forgiveness is withheld from those who do not forgive, how much more the blessing?

Don’t let this pass by you lightly my friends. Our King has glorious things in store for you. Don’t let unforgiveness keep you from receiving them. If there are people in your life against whom you are holding bitterness or unforgiveness do as Job did. Repent of your own sin, then forgive and pray for them. Release both them and yourself from bondage to the Satanic slavery unforgiveness creates. Forgive and be amazed as the Lord restores you and blesses you above where you were before the harm they caused took place. Remember; in God’s economy, forgiveness precedes blessing.

 

 

Best Of, Christian Life, Relationships, Threshingfloor

Disposable People

February 2, 2013

Several days ago I was on break at work, sitting in the break room and reading a book of some sort when a woman who works there walked in and hurriedly closed the door, looking around and saying to no one in particular, “Whew. There’s a woman in the hallway that I’ve been avoiding for the last month and I almost ran into her.” I had headphones in so even though I heard what she was saying I didn’t think much about it. She sat down at one of the computers in the room and began to browse the web. A minute or two later the door opened and another of the staff poked her head in and said to someone outside, “Here she is!” before stepping back and admitting a tall, gray haired woman who walked over to the first woman, smiling with what seemed to be genuine friendliness said, “Hey! I’ve been trying to catch you for the past few weeks. How are classes going?”

By now I’d been drawn out of the book I was reading somewhat and saw the first woman at the computer visibly tense and, refusing to look the other woman in the face, replied with a sullen, monosyllabic, “Good.” The newcomer proceeded to ask the normal questions that are asked of someone who you haven’t seen for awhile and the woman at the computer continued her sullen refusal to properly address her questioner. It was like watching a parent attempt to make conversation with an angry teenager, despite the fact that both of these women were in their late thirties. To be honest, I was in awe of the rudeness of the first woman. She was clearly refusing to deal with whatever conflict had come between the two of them. Instead of taking the time to repair what was broken she had decided it was easier to dispose of the relationship altogether, even if that meant running and hiding in a side room in hopes of avoiding conversation.

Trash the relationship

Ever buy something from those vending machines in the entryways to the grocery stores? 25 cents gets you a plastic ring that lights up when you shake it. The problem, is when it drops or gets stepped on it breaks with almost no encouragement. You don’t spend an hour carefully taping the broken pieces back together or attempting to weld it back into place. It was only 25 cents. You can get another one with less effort.

If my experience and the story above is any evidence, that’s our default way for dealing with relational conflict. Just throw the thing away. Avoid the person. Find a different group of friends, a different place to hang out. Rather than doing the hard work of restoring what has been broken just replace it with something new.

As Jesus followers this kind of cheap, quick escape from conflict isn’t an option. Jesus tells his disciples to forgive seventy times seven. When Peter denies Jesus Jesus doesn’t just act like Peter doesn’t exist any more. Instead he directly addresses the issue and does the humbling work of offering forgiveness. Jesus even addresses his betrayer Judas directly, telling him to do what he needed to do. And when he’s on the cross being mocked Jesus doesn’t simply ignore the people around him and enter into his own world. No, he cries out to the father for their forgiveness.

If we’re Jesus’ disciples we don’t get to treat people like vending machine toys that can be replaced whenever they break on us. Trashing a relationship just to avoid conflict isn’t an option. Instead we follow our leader’s example and do the hard and often painful work of attempting to fix the broken pieces and restore the relationship.

Fix the broken pieces

For my friends and family in Threshingfloor, this is a word directly for you. If we are going to reach the 70,000 young adults in the Fargo-Moorhead area, we need to be a people who don’t trash friendships when things get tough.

In our communities there will be conflict. When that moment comes you will have the choice to either trash things by leaving the community to go elsewhere, avoiding conversation with that person or those people, or by entertaining bitter thoughts about how they were the one who wronged you and they need to initiate the restoration. Those options will all seem infinitely easier than doing as Jesus has called us to. Don’t let Satan and your flesh have the victory! Instead, in all things, look to Jesus. See how he gave his very life in order to fixwhat was broken between us, and follow his Spirit as he leads you to do the same. It won’t be easy, but there will be a much greater joy.

Let’s be a people who break down the dividing walls of hostility and as we join together as the family of Christ, grow into a dwelling place for God. Then and there I believe we will see God’s power work in miraculous ways to bring salvation and healing to our generation and beyond.