Living & Loving like Jesus

Steve Jobs would have been 59 this past Monday. The inventor of all things Apple, he died of pancreatic cancer in 2011. Having cancer for several years, Jobs had to face the reality of his own mortality, which led him to say: “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Steve Jobs is right. There is something about death that clarifies life. Knowing that we will all die should really challenge us to live.

My hope is that you are following your heart — a heart that Jesus has renewed and restored. There is nothing more powerful than a heart that is rooted in Jesus, changed by Jesus, and loving like Jesus.

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L2J: Living and Loving like Jesus

Sunday, we unveiled a fresh vision for Fern Creek Christian Church. Our desire as a church is to be a people who are “living and loving like Jesus.” This is a simple statement of who we are — and who we want to continue to become. And it doesn’t matter if you are eight years old, or 38, or 83 — living and loving like Jesus is something you can do, and become, everyday.

In other words, you only have one life. And it is never too late to give that life to what matters. It starts when you are rooted in Jesus, and leads you to take on the qualities of Jesus (such as compassion, peace, and complete trust in the Father). And when you stay close to Jesus, and you begin looking like Jesus, you can’t help but love like him. A love that holds nothing back. That seeks the best for others. A love that has nothing to lose.

I hope you will join me in striving everyday to live like Jesus, and to love like Jesus. For this is the kind of life that makes a difference, the kind of life that is worth living. After all, you are going to use your life for something. Why not use it for what lasts?

L2J

On Sunday, I uncharacteristically wore a t-shirt — as did numerous other leaders in our church. The point wasn’t to go casual, but to point to something we are excited to unveil: a vision for Fern Creek Christian, and three values that we believe will help us live out that vision.

This Sunday, we will share with you what L2J means. And no, it does not mean “Listen to Jeff” — an idea that hadn’t occurred to me until someone mentioned it on Sunday. As much as I like that interpretation, L2J points to something more significant, and much more important.

My son and two of our deacons. Looks like somebody needs an L2J shirt!
My son and two of our deacons. Looks like somebody needs an L2J shirt!

If Fern Creek Christian is your church home, I urge you to make every effort to be with us Sunday as we share with you our leadership’s vision for our church. I am excited about what God is doing in our church, and look forward to what He has in store.

P.S. This past Sunday, I also announced that our leadership has asked Rich Teske to join our church staff as Discipleship Minister. Rich, his wife Connie, and their son Isaac will be with us March 2, when we will ask our congregation to affirm the leadership’s call to Rich to join us. I am excited about what Rich and his family will bring to our church as we continue to grow into all that God wants us to be. (For more on Rich, see my January 16 post, From June to January.)

Living a Jazzy Life

Lately, I have been listening a lot to Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond. I hope you know who they are; but if not, you need to. They are jazz masters. American classics. In fact, here’s a taste; what is probably their best-known song, “Take Five.”

You know how some people live life on a whim? Whatever they feel, they do. Whatever strikes them in the moment becomes the moment. Frankly, this is the musical equivalent of setting a three-year-old loose on the piano. It isn’t going to sound very good — and it isn’t going anywhere.

On the other end are those who live life with very little spontaneity. These are folks whose lives look remarkably the same week to week. It’s Monday night at 8:00, and they are in front of the TV set — because that’s what they always do on Mondays at 8. It’s Friday night, so you know where to find them — because they always eat at the same place on Friday night. This is the musical equivalent of a kid who has learned to play Chopsticks on the piano. And so he plays it over and over and over, not changing a thing — because, well, that’s the only way he knows how play the song.

But jazz is different. It is not a musical whim, where the artist plays whatever she wants. But neither is it musical rigidity, where the notes are on the page — so they must be played exactly as they appear. Instead, jazz is what I would call intentional spontaneity. It begins as real notes and a real tune. But because the master jazz musician knows the music, he can let it flow. He can take the notes on the page and riff on them. In other words, he knows the music so well he can make it come alive.

I think this is what jazz and faith have in common. As Christians, our lives aren’t purposeless, led by the whims of the moment. But neither are they rigid, rule-following day-followed-by-same-old-day. Instead, faith in Jesus is about knowing him so well that we learn to live out that knowledge in a daily-changing, daily-growing relationship.

And those who know Jesus get to know others who know Jesus. And we learn to make the music that is life, together. Where we play the same notes together, but differently, as we play them day-by-day. With Joy. And Expression. And Life. Something like intentional spontaneity.

So, maybe you don’t like jazz. Maybe it’s not your kind of music. That’s ok. I’m not asking you to like jazz. But I am asking you to live a jazz-like faith. One that knows the music, and the Master, and His people so well, that you know how to play His tune — freely, joyfully, with life — everyday.

P.S. If you want to see Brubeck and Desmond do the same song, differently, click here. It’s an older version of Take Five. Dave Brubeck’s hair is shorter. The song is longer. But it’s the same song — played differently, but never losing sight of the melody. A lot like life. A lot like faith.

Ready for what’s next?

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In this week’s post, I have included two pictures. The first is of a snowman my kids built during one (of the many) winter storms we’ve had this year. He apparently fell over on his own, and if you look closely, you’ll see his gloved “arm” held up in the air — as if to say: Little help, here!

If a snowman is asking for help this winter, then how about those of us who aren’t snow-people? We, too, are asking: Little help, here! It’s February. Is a 40 degree day too much to ask?

So, to help you get ready for what’s coming, I have also included a picture below from last month; when my wife and I were at the beach in southern California last month. I include the picture for at least three reasons:

  1. We were in SoCal in January!
  2. You weren’t. And I’m sorry for you. I really am.
  3. Since this has been the craziest winter most of us can remember, maybe looking at this picture of me and Kim at the beach will make you feel warmer. Maybe. Or maybe just jealous.

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But really, there is nothing like a reminder that how things are now (ice, cold, power outages, frozen car doors) is not how they will always be. Change in the weather is coming. We can’t get the beach to Louisville, but eventually we will get the warmth. Hang in there. It’s coming. I promise.

But even more exciting than warmer weather is what is coming at Fern Creek Christian. On February 23, we will unveil our church’s clarified vision and values. They won’t be new as much as renewed — an opportunity for us to focus on where we are going, and why. So, I hope you will make sure to be with us Sunday, February 23, for what is coming next.

And who knows, maybe the weather will have changed by then — and temps will actually be higher than the speed limit in your subdivision.