reveal worth

I learned a pretty valuable lesson from a student who was giving me a really hard time. A while back I ran a community basketball camp for kids in our neighborhood.  I had a student who was supposed to help with the camp but for the first couple of days was a complete nightmare for the adult leadership. The last day of the camp was a water balloon day.  We went through something like 2000 water balloons.  This problem student simply refused to help or to participate in the event.  Voices started to rise, tempers were beginning to flair up when finally at my wits end, I handed this student my camera (in an attempt to get him to stay) and said, “could you at least take a few shots?”  You would have thought I handed this kid a bar of gold.

Before this camp I had two cell phones snapped in half, a camera smashed to bits and a pair of sunglasses broken due to crazy youth ministry events.  I was understandably hesitant to hand electronics to students and they knew it.   When I handed this student my camera he knew that I trusted him not to break it or to do anything that might lead to its demise.  I didn’t just hand him a camera, I handed him self worth and dignity.

I did not hand over my expensive camera with the intention of making this student feel worthy of love, but that was the result and I learned a ton from it.  When he took possession of the camera, his shoulders went up and back, slowly a smile started to come across his face, he took the initiative to clump students together to get the shots he wanted.

One of the things I took away from all of this is that we are a people who constantly try to prove that we are worthy of love.  What do you do in your life to prove that you are worthy of the love and affection of others?  I have had students who indulge in destructive sexual behavior because they are trying to feel worthy.  The day I handed my camera over was the day I realized the power of believing in someone.  When you show them that they are worthy and that you believe in them then their true humanity and beauty begins to rise to the surface of their being.

If we know that humanity suffers from the constant need to prove their worth, then maybe we should become people that reveal their worth.  How free would you feel if you didn’t need to prove your worth on a daily basis?  How much would you change your world if you revealed the worth of others on a daily basis?

By the way, if you are stuck in the trap of trying over and over to prove that you are worthy of love, Jesus Christ has already proven that for you.

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more than morality

I really do love the church.  I know that there have been people who have been beat-up and broken down at the hands of the church.  I know the critiques of the church from the past and the present.  I have my own critiques of the church, but I love it.  
I love the metaphors given to the church in the scriptures.  I love what it is ideally called to be and I love the messiness of what it is now.  Whenever you put a community together that needs grace and redemption you will always have some drama on your hands.

I love that the church is specifically designed to be redemptive.  There are not too many organizations or businesses that have a redemptive purpose.  I believe that the church is essentially perfect in its scriptural structure; it is the people that make it imperfect and the people who cause so much pain and division.  (People like me by the way)

I understand those who have been, “hurt by the church.”  In reality they were hurt by other people who call themselves the church.  When I was young my family went to a church where the lead pastor had an affair.  People left devastated.  My family left because my parents decided that they could teach us better family values doing things together on the weekends.  They were right.  I learned a lot about family values by camping and getting close with my family.  As I grew up I saw no practical need for the church.  My parents were amazing moral compasses, and that is all I needed.

I have always seen the point of society; you don’t have to go to church to be a moral person.  Anyone can achieve morality.  In fact there are many role-models in society who are super moral people.  But when it comes down to it, those people can not offer freedom and redemption.   I love the church because it offers more than morality.  It offers freedom from the slavery of morality.  Jesus offers redemption and the community of the church embodies that redemption.

The funny thing is that the reason why most people get hurt and leave the church is also why I love the church and I think you would love the church too.  I’d rather people not get hurt but honestly redemption is messy.  The reason why I love the church is because as the community of Jesus gathers to worship, I see a broken and messed up people admit their need for grace and liberation.

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you are your experiences

Have you ever had a tough journey?  A road that you walked that just seemed too rough? I have had some moments which I consider tough.  There were some tears, I was angry.  There was just some stuff.

But I know some people who have had a far tougher life than me.

This song makes me think of when times are tough.

When projects pile up and you feel like you haven’t been really present for anyone, even though you’re there.

When rejection stares you in the face.

When there is a blatant breech of trust.

When you don’t feel like it is even worth it to try again.

There is an old saying, “You are your experiences.”  I don’t know who said this, but I do feel like there is a ton of truth in it.

I don’t know if it is any comfort to anyone to know that your experiences shape and form who you are.  Maybe if it is only just a perspective shift.  Maybe realizing that you are your experiences makes those times a little more meaningful.

Maybe even the mundane times shape and form you.  The times of temptation bring understanding.  The times where you refrain bring will power and discipline.

When I first saw this video and heard this song the first thing I though of is people who need to trust and love again.

Because how much does life suck if you can’t trust anyone?  How horrible would your life be in the absence of love?

You are your experiences.  But don’t be bitter.

You are your experiences.  But don’t be defined by what you were.

Slow down.

May you remember the experiences that made you, you.

May you be set free from the pain.

May you live free.

May you find healing in and from your experiences.

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