Best. Spring Break. Ever.

Spring Break is coming. Which got me to thinking about my favorite spring break. It happened when I was in college. I was 18 or 19.

My friend Brian had grandparents who lived in Florida, and he invited me to go with him to stay at their place. It was a great, in all the right ways. We flew to Ft. Myers — only my second time on an airplane. We enjoyed the sun, the surf, and grandma’s cooking. Then, when it came time to go back to college, we hopped in a Honda Accord that Brian’s grandparents were giving him. And we drove, just the two of us, from Florida to Kentucky. We enjoyed Brian’s new kickin’ car stereo system — complete with a cassette tape deck. And the cassette that got the most playing time as we headed north was from a guy named Tonio K. (Don’t ask; it was offbeat music that fit Brian’s mood, having just gone through a breakup with his girlfriend.)

There’s nothing like having no time schedule, no duties, no responsibilities — and simply sharing the road, and life, with a good friend. There’s just something about such “Florida moments.”

So what happens? We grow up — you can’t stay 18 forever, right? Responsibilities come along. Schedules get full. In other words, life happens. But there’s something about relaxed time with a friend. With nothing to do but think about life, faith, and the occasional heartbreak.

This week, though, I had a “Florida moment,” as I had lunch with a friend. A long lunch. (Our times together tend to last a long time — much longer than the food in front of us.) We laughed together. We talked about challenges we are facing. We listened. We reflected on God’s grace. And we ate.

The bottom line for me: I need “Florida moments.” And so do you. No matter how busy life gets; no matter how many responsibilities you have; no matter how many things just have to get done. Sometimes the most important thing to do is stop. And spend a long time with a good friend. Because I believe that life isn’t really life if it’s not shared with someone who cares for you. (Quirky 80s music optional.)

A Burger, Fries, and a New Relationship

I received a letter last month from a woman who had recently begun attending our church. She and her husband felt challenged to reach outside themselves, and befriend someone new. So, one day, they are eating at a local fast food restaurant, and they meet a server there. A conversation starts, and leads to a relationship. The couple from our church finds themselves adopting the server and his family for Christmas. They help him find a better job. He joins them for church. His heart is opened, and he experiences God in new ways.

All because a couple didn’t simply see a guy taking their order; they saw a person. And they reached out to him. And God used their faith, their courage, and their willingness to make a difference for him and his family.

I wonder how many people we cross paths with would be open to God’s love if we had eyes to see their need? I wonder how many times we miss seeing people God wants to touch through us?

At Fern Creek Christian, we are striving to be a church that lives and loves like Jesus. This means we are a people of grace and truth who share life and engage our world. Engaging our world is often as simple as lifting up our eyes to see those around us.

engaging our world

This week, let me challenge you to take time for someone whom you would normally walk past or even avoid. Perhaps it’s a neighbor or a co-worker or someone who sits next to you at school. Or maybe it’s the woman who delivers your mail or the person who takes your money at Kroger or a guy who takes your order at McDonald’s.

Who knows? It might mean that when you stop off for a bite to eat, along with your fish sandwich and fries, God brings someone new into your life. Someone who sees Jesus in you.

Me and Goofy

Five years ago, our family took a trip to Florida, where we spent a day at Disney World. We rode Space Mountain, enjoyed the Disney parade, and took a bunch of pictures. Like this one, with Goofy. He’s the one on the far left. Oh, and there’s also that Disney character in the middle. He’s Goofy, too.

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The truth is, we’re all a little bit Goofy, right? We all have our quirks, our oddities — you know, the stuff that makes us unique, even goofy. As the saying goes, “We’re all odd but God.” Even so, God designed for us to be odd, together; that none of us should be left out of the picture. That no matter how goofy we are, God loves us, gives us life, and calls us to share that life with each other.

On Sunday at Fern Creek, I talked about our 2nd value: Sharing Life. Simply put, it means that we need each other. That on this journey of life, we aren’t meant to go it alone. There will be times that are good; during those moments, you need others to celebrate with you and keep you grounded. There will be times that are bad; during those moments, you need others to encourage you and keep you grounded. And there will be times where life simply gets, well … goofy. During those times, you definitely need others to be there for you.

This is what the Church is: a place for those who are journeying through life, in faith, to share that journey together. Simply put, we need the Church for two very clear reasons: we need God, and we need each other. And Church is the place where both come together.

So, I hope that you are sharing life with others. I hope that you are not going through life without at least a handful of people who know you well enough to love, encourage, challenge, and simply be there for you. No matter how goofy life gets.

Why Are You Yelling?

Have you ever gotten in an argument? Of course you have. Unless you are the rare person who has no views on anything, then you have been through a verbal joust with someone. And you did so because you thought the other person was wrong and you were right.

If you argue enough times, you quickly learn that, while arguing can win the point, it can’t win the person. Sometimes you can get others to do what you want by raising your voice. You might even be able to get them to do something good. You can yell the truth, and it might be very true; but while raising your voice may change someone’s actions, it won’t change a person’s heart.

At Fern Creek Christian, our first value is “Grace and Truth.” It is a clear reminder that Jesus came carrying both, fully (John 1.14). And if we are going to live and love like Jesus, then we are to be people of grace and truth, too. This means that we believe in truth, and that truth is most clearly seen in Jesus (John 14.6). It also means the only way that truth reaches us, and changes us, is through grace. In Jesus’ hands, truth is good news — and is rooted in the love that God has for us.

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How desperately does our world need both grace and truth? Probably about as much as I need them; which is to say, desperately.

We live in a day when there are arguments about all kinds of issues. And sometimes, it feels as if the world is changing rapidly, almost daily. As it does, keep yourself grounded in the grace and truth of God; for they are a foundation that won’t change. And as you think about what it means to be a person of grace and truth, let me offer these suggestions:

  1. Never forget how much you need grace and truth. Especially grace. None of us is anywhere without grace. Wake up each day grateful for that grace; hit the pillow each night recognizing how grace helped you through the day.
  2. When you remember #1, then you can’t help but show grace to others. People of grace share grace. It’s contagious. Remember, you choose what you are a carrier for: grumpiness or grace. And if you live in grace, you’ll find it more and more natural to choose to be a carrier for grace. In fact, before you know it, you’ll be looking for ways to pour out grace on other people. You won’t be able to help it; that’s just how grace is.
  3. Finally, remember that it’s God’s job to change people. Not yours. Or mine. We are simply carriers for grace and truth — we can’t and shouldn’t force it down people’s throats. Our job is to live in such a way that people see that there is something gracious about us. In word and deed, we point people to a deeper grace, a lasting truth. Our job is to point to grace and truth, but it’s God’s job to bring the change.

So relax. Take a breath. Let God do the heavy lifting; you simply make sure that you are so rooted in truth and grace that you can’t help but be a carrier. And then watch how it spreads.