Spring Break 2014: Getting Sharpened

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I spent spring break in California with the twelve guys in the picture above. So often during the trip, I’d find myself stepping back, watching these guys live, and simply learning more of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. These twelve guys in this picture sharpen me. 

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Chandler is probably my weirdest friend. I say that as a compliment, and he beats out some stiff competition for that award. He’s teaching me to take myself less seriously. So often I tiptoe around my days, taking no risks and trying not make any mistakes. Chan possesses a contagious confidence in Christ and lives with this sense of abandonment. He’s free to be himself, to be God’s child, and to follow Jesus joyfully. The things that we care too much about—our image and reputation and those little things that rob us of joy—we need to let go of those.  

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Nate calls his white bucket hat his “memory hat” and says that it is very special. I think that means he borrowed it from his mom Sue. Nate is teaching me how to talk. I often use my words carelessly, settling for small talk or sarcasm. On SB2K14, whether it was with us or strangers or the families that hosted us, Nate used his words to affirm and encourage the people around him. He shares scripture, ask real questions, and share the Gospel whenever he gets the chance. Our words should point people towards Jesus, not away from Him.

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Mitchell rocked a dirty mustache all week. Mitchell is teaching me to go deeper in my relationships. I’m often not willing to be vulnerable or put forth the time that it takes to genuinely know and love my friends well. Last semester, when I was first getting to know Mitchell, I asked him a question. “Hey bro, what is something that you’re really passionate about?” He replied casually, “This is going to sound weird, man, but I’m just really passionate about intimacy. Not the romantic kind though, I just love to really know people.” Mitchell is always striving to know people better so he can love people better. The prerequisite to really loving our friends well is knowing them on a deep level.

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Will is teaching me how to be a better friend. He’s going to be a professional friend when he grows up. He is a master at the art of friendship. Will knows when to crack a joke and when to sit down next to you and ask “what’s wrong?” He knows when to play “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake and when to play “Oceans” by Hillsong. He’s the perfect best friend mix of funny and serious, and alternates between deep and shallow conversations with expert skill and precision. So much of being a friend is knowing how to love somebody in different situations, and Will does that really, really well.

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John Mark is teaching me to put others first. That sounds cliché until you see him in action. This dude drove thirteen hours straight on the drive home, earning him the nickname of dad and serving the rest of the car by letting them sleep. He puts the interests of the people around him ahead of his own, and he is happiest when he’s helping somebody else. Our focus as believers needs to be outward: how can we put the people around us before ourselves?

Shout-out to Devin his better half

Shout-out to his better half Devin

 

Justin is teaching me enthusiasm for Christ, for other people, and for life itself. I’m pretty sure Justin was either smiling, shouting, or laughing the entire trip. He lives and he speaks with so much passion and enthusiasm that it’s contagious. You’re buying what he’s selling, and he’s selling you on how ridiculously incredible our God is. For the Christian, our enthusiasm should embody the hope that is within us. It makes it tangible, touchable, and visible.

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Jared is teaching me what life looks like when you live without fear.  I love living life with Jar-Bear. Whether it is giving up sleeping indoors for Lent or rushing KOT when you live in a house full of ZZZ’s, this bro just goes for it. Jared goes where God calls him and he goes there boldly. His fearlessness gives us a compelling picture of what calls us to. We’re called to go for things, to live big stories, to do the things that matter and to do them with courage because of the big God that we serve.

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Chris is teaching me what true joy looks like and where true joy is found. His story, the things that he has been through and the joy that he exhibits through trials, is a ridiculous testimony to the God that he lives for. Twice in my life, I’ve caught Chris not smiling. He’s an incredibly joyful guy, and this joy comes from the Lord. Our joy as Christians isn’t rooted in the circumstances of today but in the King that died on a cross and rose again on the third day. 1898840_10152310634046499_1472325058_o

We call Zach “dark horse” because nobody sees him coming.  Zach is teaching me what it means to serve. He does the little things that people don’t usually notice, which is fine because he’s not doing it for the attention anyways. Several times on the trip, I’d catch Zach doing something for the group that nobody would ever notice: vacuuming out the car, setting up the spikeball net, little things that show big love for both Jesus and other people. True acts of service arise out of love, not a desire to be noticed.

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Jibach is teaching me how to live with passion. Jibach was the photographer, hype man, and official bro point distributor on the trip. When you hear him talk about the things he loves, such as making movies, Navy Seals, and Jesus, you can’t help but pick up on his passion. You can see this passion on display in the videos that he makes. Check them out at this link. https://www.youtube.com/user/EPyeahbuddy If hearing the good news of Jesus doesn’t make us passionate people, we’re listening to the wrong gospel.

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Bill is my hero. He’s taught me a ridiculous amount about life with Jesus in the past year and a half. But more than anything else, Bill is teaching me how to be genuine. Bill is the most real person I know. He doesn’t wear masks or put up facades that make him appear a certain way to certain people. We are free to be genuine when our identity is in Christ alone.1891335_10203401736948953_715769414_o

Carter is teaching me to live a contagious life for Christ. The only way I can describe my bro Carter is with the word magnetic. His life and the ridiculously cool and crazy things that he does cause people to throw out their preconceived notions about what it means to follow Jesus. After a five minute conversation with Carter, you simply can’t think that life with Jesus is boring or dull. Life with Jesus, the real Jesus, the one who calls us to love our enemies and take up our cross daily—that life with that Jesus is anything but boring.

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Spring Break 2013: Prisms and Rivers

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3/9/13

Everyone must leave. Everyone has to leave their home and come back again to love it for all new reasons. I want to keep my soul fertile to change. Our minds were meant to figure things out, not read the same page. – Donald Miller in Through Painted Deserts 

I have left. I left the essays and assigments and obligations. At college, the love I show is a mile wide and an inch deep. It’s hard to love people at school, where life is fast and my planner fills up. It’s easy to love activities and agendas centered around people instead of people themselves. Lunch meetings, life groups, accountability partners, service projects, even my Lent journey, love is behind all of it in the true sense of the word “behind.” Love shines through those things, those activities that fill up my task-oriented and efficient life. The love shines through but it feels fragmented and diluted.

Love on this trip needs to be different. It needs to be unfiltered. This trip has no agenda, so the love shouldn’t run on schedule. It should just be. This has me thinking of analogies for love. A prism doesn’t produce light. It simply is there. Light shines through it and, for reasons I learned and forgot in physics class, it makes the color spectrum visible. Reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigos, and violets, they were contained within that original light but they weren’t visible. Maybe our role in this world is to be prisms, taking God’s infinite glory and grandeur and reflecting all its intricacies and complexities, making them more visible to a world with cloudy eyes.

Love on this trip also needs to be effortless, not in the sense that it isn’t intentional but in the sense that it doesn’t feel laborious or burdensome. Love so often feels like I’m canoeing across a lake, putting everything behind each stroke, sweat dripping from my brow, shoulders burning. I wonder if it couldn’t be more like rafting down a river. God the Father would be the river, the context and definer of what love even is. Jesus would be the one who chartered the river, who rafted it to perfection, flawlessly navigating every rapid that seeks to destroy or distract from the perfection of His love. The Holy Spirit would be the current, the one who, when abided in, makes the journey possible just like it was for Jesus, not laborious or burdensome but full of vitality and joy.

I scribble this blue ink on a white page as we drive West on I-40. Jared is speeding but the calm of the early morning make the pace feel natural. The seven of us headed out in the Camry and CRV fourteen hours prior. The quote earlier about leaving comes from the perfect backdrop for this journey, Through Painted Deserts on tape by Donald Miller. The prose we tune into while the familiar narrative sections give us time to think about our own narrative as it unfolds. What kind of a story are we writing? What kind of a story are we going to write?

Bill has been the MVC(Most Valuable Camper) so far. He’s sleeping in the backseat and Jared compares him to the little Asian kid from The Goonies. I think He’s more like Byongsong from kicking and screaming. So far we have found out that back in Vietnam, Bill’s mom taught him a healthy appreciation for ABBA and John Denver.

Shadows of snow-covered cliffs are beginning to appear as a train and us make our way through a canyon just past Gallup, Arizona. Huge hand-printed billboards advertising Indian moccasins and petrified wood let us know we are finally away. As the sun comes up, it is clear that we have left in every sense of the word. We left to rest. We left to learn how our love can start to look more like prisms and rivers. And we left so we could come back and love better.