Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Love, Love, Love

Something I have been thinking a lot about lately is love. Ok, I always think about love. But I've been thinking about how often we actually state our love.   In English we tend to overuse the same word regardless of what is the object of our affection. I love my kitten, my cappuccino and world peace, my mom, that painting over there and my spouse, too.  And yet while we flippantly say "That was the best movie I've ever seen! I LOVED it!!", we typically reserve saying "I love you" directly to others in only the deepest of most intimate types of relationships: Fathers to sons, nieces to beloved aunts, committed boyfriends to girlfriends after many serious DTR's. In our society there is a stigma and a whole set of unwritten rules of behavior for what accompanies those three words. Which makes it really difficult and confusing when we talk about wanting to love our neighbor and our enemy while maintaining health boundaries. I mean in our culture it can be really hard to say that to somebody without it getting really awkward really fast. A woman can say to another woman "Luv u!" and society says they are just good friends. If that same woman says it to a man survey says they better be in a relationship. It has a stigma that are attached to it. So instead of saying it, we're afraid of it and keep it locked away for special occasions.

Saying I love you in a language that has multiple verbs is so much easier than in English. In Greek, for instance, there are 4 different types of love. It' so much easier to clarify your intentions when you say "I philia you" (which is the brotherly type) versus "I eros you" (which means you're horny for them). I feel-e-yah there, too, buddy. If you haven't heard a sermon on the 4 Greek words for love, you should go to church more often (just teasing!!). You can look them up online to see what they are.

Just look at the passage in John 21 when Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. In English he asks Peter the same question 3 times. When I lived in Costa Rica and read this passage for the first time, I realized that in Spanish there is a verb change. And I later found out it's the same in the Greek. The first two times, Jesus asks Peter if he AGAPE loves him, and Peter responds he PHILIA loves him. So the third time Jesus lowers his love standard to Peter's level and asks him is he PHILIA loves him. This is when Peter gets offended. Hasn't he already been saying that? But no, Peter was offering Jesus a lower kind of love than Jesus was looking for. This point was overlooked in sermons I heard for YEARS. There was a distinction in the kind of love Jesus was looking for that one word could not capture.
What I've been thinking about on our word "love" mostly relates back to another post I recently wrote on the power of our words. How powerful is it to hear someone say they love you. And how much more powerful is it for you to say it back? It is a challenge for us where our word is nebulous and can mean anything from hopeless infatuation, intense like, preference, or in favor of. Regardless, we have been called to love. Love God. Love ourselves. Love our neighbors. Love our enemies. We should stop worrying about what others will think and start saying how much we care. And I will start. I love you. I love you a lot. If you need to hear it and not just see it, give me a call. I will tell you. Because it's true. I love you. And you are my favorite.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The landfill

I think this is such a perfect picture for our lives in Christ. He takes the trash from the landfill in our hearts and turns it into a beautiful instrument that we can use for praise and worship. We have a choice to join in to the beautiful thing God is creating in our lives in the midst of sorrow, poverty, and pain.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Expression 58 | School of Ministry

                                                                                                                                                                    So a few posts back I mentioned that I felt called to LA to be a new kind of missionary. I have been going to a church just outside of downtown LA called Expression 58 since I moved here. It's a church plant out of the Bethel Church (in Redding, CA) and the International House of Prayer (IHOP/Kansas City). It also has some loose connections to the Vineyard church (mostly because of it's charismatic nature, in my eyes). In September a school of ministry was launched from the church. I was asked to join in the school as a leader during the small group breakout sessions which happen every Thursday night for the next 8 months. This is just an update for my missions followers on what I'm doing as part of my new mission of discipleship here in LA. If it's too much written info, just watch the video ;) The blurb on the school is taken directly from their website. If you're interested in attending, check out expression58.org/schoolofministry.

Expression58 established the School of Ministry to be a supernatural training center to instruct, activate and empower a generation of world changers to pursue and captivate their God-given spheres of influence. The DNA convergence of Love, Creativity and Justice are core pillars of our curriculum. E58 believes in the marriage of the arts & entertainment with social justice initiatives that will transform culture. 

Expression58 is dedicated to the belief that God is in a good mood, fully engaging and equipping His followers with tools to demonstrate the goodness of His nature. E58 uses the life of Jesus as a model for ministry:
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I’ve done and even greater works, because I’m going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
Expression 58 School of Ministry focuses on assimilating the core values of the Kingdom into the heart of the Believer and establishing God’s Royal identity in the mind of each student. Students will also learn leadership principles to gain an understanding on how to lead people and establish the Kingdom in every realm of society. You are invited on an adventure of discovering your role in stewarding this current “Kingdom Renaissance” from merely echoing a message to becoming a message and re-presenting Christ to this generation.

Our words have power

I've heard about studies like this. There was once one done by a scientist where he took a batch of white rice and split it into two containers. Over one container he spoke only words of love and affirmation. Over the other container he spoke hateful, spiteful words. Within even a few days the difference was noticeable. The rice over which he spoke love was still as white and clean as the day it was put in the container, but the rice that had hateful words spoken over it was molding and had black spots on it. To check it out, google some combination of experiment with rice and words. A ton of people have copied it and it seems to hold pretty true. Or try it yourself.

This is not a new concept. It's a very old one, actually. The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 that "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit." This experiment is just the proof of it.

So here's what I was thinking. How often do I speak negatively over myself? I hate my thighs. I wish I wasn't so giraffe-like tall. I wish I had an amazing voice. How much is my words actually impacting how I am? OK, so I can't change my height by speaking it over myself, but I could change how I stand in my height, or how I view myself because of my height. How often do I speak negatively over my situation? I'm tired of being single. I hate living alone. LA traffic sucks. What if I started speaking out positively over myself and the world around me? Would it have the same effect as on the rice? Would the world actually be less moldy? I'm gonna give it a try. Here's your challenge, all you readers out there, will you try it too? Pick one feature that you have never liked about yourself. Look at it either in the mirror or on your body and every day for a whole week speak only loving, encouraging words about it. I dare you. See what happens. Pick a situation in your life that has you down. Speak  only positive message about it. Out loud. Note the change. Let me know how it goes!!