Road trips are awesome. Whether you’re heading to the mountains with your family or driving to the beach with your friends, the idea of packing up, grabbing your favorite snacks, planning the perfect playlist, and hitting the road just sounds like an adventure. And it is! Maybe that’s because new places are always exciting, or maybe it’s just that, more than anywhere else, the unexpected seems to happen on the road. Flat tires. Detours. Surprisingly great lunch stops. Disappointingly awful gas stations. The unexpected is just part of the trip. Life works a lot like that, too. We start with a plan in mind, but things happen along the way that change our plans, change our minds, or even change our relationships. That’s when we have to decide to stick to the plan or change course. This was especially true for the apostle Paul. Long before GPS or interstates, Paul set out on a series of road trips, and just like us, he experienced some surprising, even life-changing moments on the road. As we take a look at some key turning points on Paul’s road trips, we discover that maybe the best thing that can happen on our journey is a change of direction.
You've probably heard of "escape rooms" --- you know, those places where you get locked in a room with your friends and then try to escape by solving puzzles and secret codes? Some people love them and can't wait to solve the puzzles, while others count down the minutes until they're over. Just like an escape room, we all handle difficult and painful situations differently...but often we look for some type of relief. Maybe it's a Netflix binge, or gaming, or spacing out while listening to Spotify. Maybe it's staring at a phone and scrolling for hours. Whatever it is, we all have a favorite distraction --- something we get lost in. Something that helps us escape reality. But the trouble is, these good and fun distractions sometimes lead to hurting others, hurting ourselves, or damaging our relationship with God. In this series, we'll look at how to deal with difficult situations in our lives. As we do, we just might find that God's inviting us to stop avoiding and escaping hard times, and instead, face our troubles head-on. And maybe we'll see that through our struggles, God builds our character, provides us with comfort, and calls us to share that comfort with others.
Who are the people you enjoy hanging out with most? Your friends, right? They laugh at your jokes, reply to your Snapchats, invite you to the movies, and hang out with you, even when you smell bad or show off your terrible dance moves. And whether you have a huge group of friends or just one BFF, they can have a huge impact on who you are now and who you become later. Our group can sway us toward good decisions...or bad ones. There's a lot of influence in who we hang out with, including our friends and people we look to for guidance. And there can be a lot of pain when a friendship ends. Perhaps that's why the Bible has so much to say about these topics. As we look to the Bible for advice, we'll discover how we should choose our friends and mentors, and how we should handle those friendships that fade over time.
Have you ever been to a concert? Maybe you had tickets for great seats. Maybe you were in the nosebleeds. Either way, you probably noticed that everyone had the same goal in mind, to get as close as possible. There’s just something about being near the band or near the artist that makes a great concert even more fun. But there’s a limit, right? No matter how good your tickets are, you can only get so close. There’s a velvet rope you can’t cross, a hall you can’t walk down, or a security guard you can’t stroll right past because those areas are reserved for certain people… special people—people with an all-access pass. Maybe you’ve felt the same way when it comes to God. Sure, you come to church and sing songs or listen, but there’s a limit to how close you can get. It’s almost like there’s a velvet rope around certain parts of our faith that tells us those parts are restricted to special people, to church-staff people, or to super-spiritual people. But what if that’s never what God intended? In this series we’ll explore what the Resurrection of Jesus really meant—for real people like us. And, we’ll discover that, because of Easter, we have an all-access pass to Him and to the life He has for us.