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Good Morning MVC - July 30th

by Joe Phenisee on June 30, 2020

Good Morning MVC

 

For those of you expecting David Miles, I’m here to let you know that he is on vacation. So this morning I am playing the Seneca Wallace role. If you did not get that reference, then consider yourself blessed, because those were some rough years to be a Seahawks fan. 

 

In August, Jill and I will be celebrating two years at MVC, and let me just express what a joy it is working with parents, small group leaders, staff, and elders who are all passionate about cultivating and nurturing faith in our students. 

 

Our desire is for each student to know that in a world consumed by greatness, security, and wealth. 

God is calling them to live into a better story. 

 

A story that is marked by love, justice, and generosity. 

A story we see embodied by our God, in the person of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

 

Simply put, we want our students not only to know about Jesus, but to become more like him. The question is, what does this look like? When do we know as a church when the Spirit is at work in our youth? Is it when they pray more, study more, attend church more, go on mission trips more, and so on and so forth? Or is there another marker? 

 

Recently, this question was answered for me by one of our graduates. There’s a running joke that unlike most students, if Marina is on her phone during the sermon, she is absolutely paying attention. How do I know this? Because by the end of youth group she will have sent my wife two or three different memes that could only have been created with proper attention to the lesson and its themes. 

 

But a week ago she did something that indicated to me that for her Jesus is not just a concept to believe in, but a living person to follow. 

 

Without disclosing too much, Marina had a friend who recently experienced a tragedy. And after some days she informed my wife that she, along with four other friends, have made a decision to buy plane tickets and rent out a Air BnB, all for the sake of showing solidarity and support for this one friend. 

 

What continues to strike me is the radicalness of her gesture. She could have just expressed her sorrow and empathized with her friend over the phone. She could have insisted that her thoughts and prayers were with this friend from a distance. We would have lauded her for doing this much, but Marina decides to take it one step further. 

 

And in doing so, it is evident that the spirit is at work in her. 

That before our very eyes she is becoming more and more like Jesus. Because as Paul reminds us in Philippians 2:6, Jesus did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped or used for his own advantage. He didn’t just say he was sorry for our circumstances, or send his thoughts and prayers from a distance… 

Instead he came into our world. 

And became one of us. 

Suffered what we suffered, 

And made himself nothing. 

 

I believe Bryan Stevenson is correct in saying that the first step to changing the world is getting proximate to the broken hearted. Because when we see the wisdom of attending a funeral instead of a feast, when we put ourselves in a place to with mourn with those who mourn, when we begin to act like Jesus and exchange a crown for a cross, then the world begins to see in us the love of God that hears, draws close, understands, and heals.

 

Marina reminds me that one way we can know the spirit is at work is when a 18 year old, who lives in a culture of selfishness, can make a radical decision of selflessness. 

 

Her decision gives evidence not only to the faithful witness of her parents, former leaders, and small group leaders. 

 

But to the faithfulness of God, who has begun a good work in her, and who will see it to its end. 

 

My prayer for us MVC, is that we learn from Marina and choose to be people who get proximate. That when the world tempts us to distance ourselves from suffering, to move on with our lives, we will instead follow Jesus by choosing to mourn with those who mourn, so that we may also later rejoice with those who rejoice. 

 

God Bless MVC 
-Joe

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