LIFE LESSONS: JASON’S GREATEST HITS

As I’m preparing to begin the adventure that is becoming Dwellings Church, a new church community forming in Flint, Michigan, I am wrapping up my work at Wildwind Community Church. This month, I will be teaching the teens at Wildwind for the last time as their youth pastor.

My life with these kids has been so formative for me I wanted to make sure I could say thanks and leave them with a piece of me that will last. The best way I could think to do that was to present them with “Jason’s Greatest Hits”. I decided that for my last month of teaching I would revisit and present some of the biggest lessons I’ve come to learn on my own journey as a way to encourage them in theirs.

 

I thought I’d like to share those lessons here as well, just in a different way. Here are some brief thoughts that I’d to share with you:

1. You are more than what you do.

When meeting new people, the first thing I usually ask is “What do you do?” I think this is the case because our identities are wrapped up in our jobs, our interests, and our various affiliations…this is all stuff we “do”. Beyond the things  that we “do” we find that deep down, at our core, we are more than what we do. We are humans; loving, feeling, being. We are innately valuable with, and even without, all the stuff we usually define ourselves by. If my identity is wrapped up in my job and I fail, I will feel like a loser, or worthless. But if I know I am more than my mistakes and the things I do, I will see an opportunity to grow and learn. In knowing that we are loved by God for who we are, his beloved children, we find that our value isn’t reliant on what we do. Then, we’ll be free to do what we do from the knowledge that we are truly valuable and loved…no matter what.

Psalms 139:13-14 (NIV)
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

2. Things in this world will try to steal your attention from celebrating the things that really matter. Don’t miss the party!

There is a lot going on in our busy world. And we all have our issues. For some it could be jealousy; for others it may be pride. In general, whenever we are too focused on ourselves we miss opportunities to celebrate the good taking place all around us.  If we learn to look at the world in a different way we’ll be able to see that God’s goodness is everywhere. And maybe when we start to see it “out there” it will be easier to see it “in here”.

John 9:39 (MSG)
39 Jesus then said, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.”

3. God is love. But we have our own ideas about what that kind of love looks like.

Out of all of Creation, God chose us as the focus of his love. In a world where statements like “I love Doritos” and “I love my family”  are built around the same key word, it can be easy to misunderstand the “love of God.”  I believe that God’s love is best represented in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. God’s son demonstrates his love through selflessness and sacrifice; presence and persistence. God’s love is a gift; something given, not forced. This gift of love when received calls for a response…my response is to reciprocate love in the best way I can. My truest self, yearns to know and love God, even despite my best efforts to get in my own way. This love is deep and lasting. I’m not always aware of it but I’m reminded often through the goodness surrounding me. I see this love in relationships; in the quiet spaces of life; in the beauty all around me.  I’m grateful to have begun the journey of recognizing this love that is deep and wide.

Ephesians 1:4 (MSG)
4 Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.

4. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. When you do, you might just find out something about who you are!

I’ve written about this elsewhere but it bears repeating. We have a lot to learn about ourselves from places we might not expect. As John Ortberg says “If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.” There are adventures to be had! You can handle more than you know! But if you don’t take that first step into the unknown you’ll miss the chance to find out what’s out there for you. I’m learning to trust that I’ll be okay if I just take that first step “out of the boat”. I hope you can learn that, too.

Matthew 14:29 (NIV)
29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

 What lessons have you learned in your life that might help others?

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