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Good Morning MVC - July 21st

by Joe Phenisee on July 21, 2020

Good Morning MVC,


I wanted to let you all know that recently Jill and I purchased a house, and we are so excited to host a housewarming… only catch is you’ll have to own a copy of Animal Crossing. 

For those of you not in the know, Animal Crossing is a video game that allows children to learn about very important topics such as low interest mortgages, stock markets, and environmental conservation… all from cute cuddly anthropomorphic animals living on a tropical island. 


The point of the game is to be creative and to develop your island by planting new fauna, building things, and decorating every nook and cranny on your island. But to do this you need in game money. And it just so happened that our friend Clive visited our lovely island of Patmos, and decided to pay off the entirety of our mortgage, which came in at 99,000 bells. 


And I told myself, wow… when I have the chance I’m totally going to help pay off someone else’s mortgage. 


That opportunity came a week later. One of our students at MVC, Daniel Scarry, moved to the island of Pear-adise. Yes that is P E A R - adise, because pears are indigenous on his island. 


Anyways, the moment to pay it forward had arrived. And I went to the first bank of Patmos, and as I was withdrawing 99,000 bells I could not help but to start second guessing the decision. Did Daniel really need these bells? It would be nice enough to just pay off half his loan right? What about a quarter? 

Eventually I begrudgingly withdrew 99,000 bells, headed over to his island, but then to my relief I learned that Daniel had already paid off his home and had built up more equity than me. So, with a huge sigh of relief,  I left him a couple peaches and 30,000 bells as a housewarming gift. 


Here’s a moment of confession, the struggle I experienced in Animal Crossing is often reflected in my relationship with God. In life, I have experienced God’s patience with me, I have known his generosity toward me. In creation I find evidence of his providence, on the cross I experience his forgiveness, and in the empty tomb I discover strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow… blessings all mine with 10,000 aside… 


Indeed, God has done for me far more than Clive ever can… and yet 


When God asks me to be forbearing with someone I disagree with, I would rather fight them on facebook. 

When God directs me to give to someone in need, I am often calculating in how much of my abundance can remain untouched. 

When I am called upon to care for someone I don’t know, I am tempted to think about how much of my time and energy will be expended. 

And when I am commanded to forgive those who have hurt me, especially the people who refuse to apologize, instead of following Jesus’ lead, I am quick to imitate the servant in the 18th chapter of Matthew. 


Like him, I find myself responding to the goodness of God by trying to reserve it for myself. I’m okay with God treating me well, I’m more than happy to praise Him for his overwhelming, never ending, reckless love….

So long as I’m not expected to extend the same kind of love 

which will cost me, stretch me, break me, and possibly even kill me. 


But thank God it is my profession to the teach the scriptures, because through my work I am constantly reminded that God has loved me with an everlasting love. God wasn’t sitting at the bank wondering how much he wanted to give and do on my behalf…. 

God never hashed out the pros and cons, never dwelt on past wrongs, never looked to secure himself… but in the words of Paul “he loved me and gave himself for me,” extravagantly, without reservation, and with no strings attached. 


And the question is am I willing to do the same?  Are we willing to do the same? 


As we move forward into the second half of 2020 will we  pursue generosity, patience, justice, mercy, and forgiveness with no restraint, with no hesitation, and with no conditions?Or will the temptation to preserve and restrict the goodness of God for ourselves be all the greater?


My prayer for us MVC is that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will continue to proclaim that “we will not just sing, pray, preach, and post about the goodness of God,” but will extend it graciously to all the people of God, and embody it for a broken and divided world. 


And with that, I need to go check on my neighborhood friends on Patmos. Till next time, take care and God bless.

-Joe
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