We’ve been talking a lot about community. Duncan talked a little about what it is, what it looks like. He keeps referring to Acts 2:42-47 and “the fellowship of the believers.” Have you looked at it? Because…you should. 

Do you remember what truly creates community? A common bond, focus, or purpose. Ours is Jesus Christ and without Him we would not be pursuing community at all. In fact, I wouldn't even be typing this blog for you right now. So, JC is what brings us together. The Holy Spirit is what works within us as we meet, allowing us to grow. If we know Jesus, then we have that in common. Our meeting together is not in vain—it has purpose.

I was thinking about this community. Not just in our specific church, but everywhere I've been. It flourishes when people are devoted. Devoted to prayer, to studying God’s word, and to each other. In our youth group it grows when we come every week, when we're actively involved, when we're seeking friendship with each other, and when we desire to know God more.

But what are things that break this up? That stop it from growing?

One that I’ve come across on a personal level is FEAR. Fear separates. It shrivels us down to a pile of mush, unable to do anything. Let me explain.

I've had a fear of friendship. That sounds weird, right? Well, my fear has been the vulnerability that comes with friendship. What do I mean by this? Well, the idea of being truly known by people, allowing people to see the good AND bad. I've been consumed with what they think of me and wanting more than anything to be the perfect, friendly, relatable person. But deep down I was afraid to truly get close to anyone. They might just see that there's really nothing to me. That I'm not all that fun. That I'm pretty boring to be around after awhile. They might just see that I really don't have it all together.

So, naturally this fear kept me from becoming “too” close to anyone. I had plenty of friendships. Some went deeper than others…but few knew the depths of me. There were very few that I felt comfortable with…comfortable enough to share the good, the bad, and the U-G-L-Y with.

Do you ever feel like this? Do you have days where you desire deep, intimate, God-centered relationships? These are the kind that are rich, that have depth. They are real to the core. I have felt like this a lot.

Not only have I desired them, I have also witnessed intimate relationships such as these. For example, Duncan has many friends. But he has some that are just different. I have seen them laugh together, pray together, cry together (VERY manly tears of course). They confront each other in love. They talk about what God is doing in their lives, what He’s teaching them. They talk about their struggles instead of covering them up. They rejoice together. They celebrate each other. They are intentional. They also have more fun & laughter than most people I know.

Have you seen this before?? Seeing their friendship reinforced my desire for deep-rooted friendships. I long for them.

But.

I have realized and come face-to-face with what’s keeping me from these. I keep myself from these authentic relationships because I’m fearful. I care too much what others think.

All while I think I’m “appearing” a certain way to people, I’m missing out on the richness of true, intimate relationships.

Let me tell you something. This fear that I have, and whatever fear you may have, is a lie. Did you hear me? It’s a LIE. Satan wants nothing more than to keep us from living a life in the fullness and FREEDOM of Jesus Christ.

As I asked a friend to pray for me, I’ll share with you her wise response:

"I will be praying against Satan's attacks of fear against you in regard to relationships. I know he puts that there to keep you from experiencing Jesus' love through others. So, just know and trust that Jesus WANTS that for you. There is no room for fear in His name and Satan can just get out of here! :) I've definitely experienced similar fears and it takes a lot to let go of them and overcome them, but it's always so neat and humbling to see the ways that the Lord helps us get to that place!"

So with that, I want to encourage you. As this community we call youth group grows, I pray that you’d ask God what’s keeping you from true friendship with others. We don’t want shallow relationships with each other. We want depth. Richness. Honesty. Authenticity. Intimacy. I pray that you won’t cover up your fears, but that you’ll lift them up in prayer. Maybe you’ll even ask your community to pray for you. Because, remember, those fears are lies. They intend on separating you from what is good. And if you do what I did (believing those fears) you will not experience God’s gift in friendships.

Thankfully, God hears our prayers and requests. There is no fear in Jesus’ name. If our main focus is Jesus, then his Spirit will unite us. And he will allow us to overcome ALL fear, no matter how great or small!

 
 
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Simpson Park Camp
I have left you hanging for awhile. Maybe you're still wondering the answer to my question: Why Jesus? Wait no further...


Why Jesus? What is it about Him that captures me so?

-I believe Jesus made Himself known to me at a young age. No matter what I filled my life with, no matter the popular friends I hung around with, the boy I liked, the image I sought after, the race I trained for, NOTHING quenched my thirst like my dear Jesus. There was a moment at the end of my senior year of high school, after chasing so many empty things, when it was as if God said: Are you done yet? Do you finally believe that nothing else will satisfy? I remember vividly crying out (literally), my heart screaming YES!!!! I get it, Jesus, I get it. 

-So, not only did Jesus make Himself known to me, He captured my heart at a young age. He desired me before I desired Him. And MORE than I desired Him. I would get a taste of his love and knowledge and become SO hungry for more.

_Why Jesus? His truth NEVER fails. He is truth. In this world of confusion and false wisdom, His truth is always absolute, always right, always the better way. I find myself craving His truth in this confusing and broken world.

-NOTHING compares to my Jesus. Not one thing. Not status. Not marriage. Not family. Not wealth. Not success. In fact, two nights ago Duncan and I were at Simpson Park Camp for the fall retreat. Late at night we sat on top of a hill looking over the camp. The full moon made everything light up. We sat there in awe of God, of his direction, of his blessings, but most of all we sat there in awe of WHO He is. Jesus satisifies and quenches every thirst. We both said that He satisfies better than marriage does, better than we as husband and wife could EVER do. That is a powerful statement. But it's true: Not even my incredible husband can compare to my first love: Jesus.

-Through Jesus, I see. There's a quote that goes something like this: I believe in God like I believe in the sun. Though I cannot see it, I can see everything else BECAUSE of it.

-Regardless of how I'm feeling, what I'm thinking, or what I'm doing, He NEVER changes. His thoughts don't change, His feelings don't. Though I wake up every day with different emotions, my God is steadfast. This means that the same things he felt toward David, Moses, Paul, He feels toward me today. He cannot change. Praise God that He isn't an emotional roller coaster like I am.

-Why Jesus? Because HE is the LIVING, TRUE, & LOVING GOD. He is not a mere thought or story created by humans. And this, He has proven.

At the Simpson Park Retreat, Brad Moss preached on Psalms 34:8. "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him." Essentially, he dared the teens to "taste and see." He promised that they would not be disappointed. Friends, I can tell you that I have tasted and seen that THE. LORD. IS. GOOD.

Taste and See for yourself...I dare you.