This is What Love Does – Oklahoma.

Before I started paying real attention to Jesus, I didn’t know Christians like Jeff Bethke existed. But this little video, performed by Bethke, a Jesus loving, scholar-poet, went up last year and now has nearly 25 million views.

Maybe there’s something to it.

I avoided Jesus for ages because I too have a problem with the Crusades and I don’t believe any US political party or denomination has a corner on Jesus. In fact, when I actually read the gospels, I snorted at the irony.

It was first-century religious and political leaders who killed Jesus, and he warned us to watch out for them. That is not my opinion, it’s in all four gospels.

I met Bethke at the Love Does Stuff conference. He’s 23. He’s never been to seminary but he’s a reader. After reading the gospel like he meant it, he read Bonhoffer, Tozier, Keller, Chan and Goff, authors who have rejected the idea of Jesus + __________.

It’s just Jesus period.

When asked by a lawyer what the greatest commands were, Jesus gave only two: Love God. Love others. And frankly, in tornado-wrecked Oklahoma today, we are actually doing a rather good job of that.

This nation, the one supposedly “gridlocked by political and religious division” is praying together in our messy melting pot ways. We are weeping for Oklahoma and pulling strangers from the rubble. That is what Jesus wants. That is what love does.

So if that’s who we are in crisis, why aren’t we that in calm? Why do we need disasters to eclipse our quotidian spitefulness?

Because we’ve bought into the same old religious/political lie that killed Jesus. We are separate, we are different, so we must be afraid.

But if Oklahoma proves anything it’s that we’re not separate. We are one, but we’ve got to pull each other out of the rubble – even people we don’t like. As Bob Goff said over the weekend,

“He (God) is going to send all sorts of people with different life orientations your way. Does that change one thing about what Jesus said?”

Love God. Love others. Period.

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This is What Love Does – Part 1

This is the first in a series about the 2013 Love Does Stuff Conference, hosted by NYT bestselling author, justice seeker and Jesus lover Bob Goff.

Photo Credit: Lisa Long

Photo Credit: Lisa Long

On my flight home from Seattle yesterday, I imagined what it will be like when Bob Goff meets Jesus Christ in person.

Of course, I hope that doesn’t happen for another 50 years or so, because I need Bob in this world teaching me how to love people like Jesus did. He’s better at it than anyone I know.

Bob is a living, breathing disciple of Christ, a first-century apostle on a stage with balloons, hollering about fireworks and felons and child soldiers in Uganda, exhorting us to expand our territory and L-O-V-E  people so extravagantly that the world thinks we’re nuts.

Because that’s what Bob does. That’s what love does.

But when he’s done here and we are all weeping and toasting him, I imagine Bob will run as fast as he can into heaven, right up to the crystal lake and do a cannonball.

As the angels applaud and hold up scorecards, Bob will surface and yell, “How cool was that?” And Jesus will nod to Peter and John and say, “There he is, there’s our Bob.”

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My new BFF Lisa Long, Bob and me.

Then I think Jesus will grab Bob’s face and kiss his forehead, exactly like Bob did to many of us over the weekend. I can almost hear Jesus say:

“Thank you, Precious for delivering so many of them to my feet. Thank you for helping them find me, even the ones who have done heinous and horrible things. Thank you for showing them they are not just invited to my table, they are welcome.”

In Tacoma, Washington, at the first ever conference based on Love Does, Bob’s bestselling book, he must have said that 100 times. “You are not just invited here, you are welcome.”

Photo Credit: Lisa Long

Photo Credit: Lisa Long

You are welcome to speak your dreams out loud.

You are welcome to quit stuff, even your job, if it keeps you from Jesus.

You are welcome to not have all the answers about Christianity.

You are welcome to show up with whatever faith you have and leave the rest to Jesus.

Bob Goff is  a revolutionary, reminding us there’s only one four letter Jesus used all the time.

L-O-V-E

In God’s kingdom, love is supreme and without direct, exuberant expression of it, we are just noisy cymbals and clanging gongs. Sadly, the noisy cymbals get a lot more attention than conference speaker Veronica Tutaj does.

Veronica started doing love by handing out programs at church on Sundays eight years ago. Today, she loves on hundreds of pregnant and parenting teenagers in Austin, Texas. She does love with fire in her belly and told all 1,500 of us how to do the same. I think Jesus watched, elbowing Peter and John saying “there’s our Veronica, watch her go.”

Do you want to know how to do love better? Here’s a start.

Pick up Love Does* and let it change your mind about Christian behavior. If it surprises you, then pick up the Gospel of John. Find out what Jesus actually said, not what people say he said. It doesn’t matter what you are currently doing, or who says you are unwelcome. They are wrong.

You are welcome here.

*Proceeds from the sale of Love Does support the school Bob and his friends built for former child soldiers eight years ago. It is now the #1 school in Uganda. For more information visit Restore International.

Can You Name Five Life Goals?

St. Andre - French Alps

St. Andre – French Alps.

I’m reading a fantastic book on prayer called The Circle Maker. Wendy Lawton of Books and Such Literary Agency recommended it, saying when she finished it, she bought 35 copies.

Praying to an unseen God can be really hard – especially if nobody’s ever taught you how or why it matters. This book does both.

Written by Mark Batterson who pastors National Community Church in Washington DC, this book is an anthology of miracles. Batterson tells every story backward, starting with a successful $3 million bid the church made on a rare piece of Capitol Hill real estate. Then he backs up a few years and explains the prayer that started it, which grew into many prayers, relentless prayers, boring daily prayers and an army of on-foot prayers circling the property until the deal closed.

It’s a book of evidence, but one that’s smart enough to tackle “unanswered” prayers or those where God says no. You should pick it up. It’s good.

Reading Batterson’s thoughts on goal setting, I noticed how neglected and mushy my own goals had become. How can you pray circles around things when you don’t even know what you want? He talked about a guy named John Goddard who at age 15 wrote down 127 life goals, ranging from milking a poisonous snake to learning Arabic. By the time he turned 50, he’d accomplished 108 of them.

Batterson writes:

The brain is a goal-seeking organism. Setting a goal creates structural tension…which will seek to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be, who you are and who you want to become…Goal setting is good stewardship of your right-brain imagination. It’s also great for your prayer life.

So, I began writing 100 life goals today – so I can circle them in prayer. Here are five:

  • Learn to fly a plane.
  • Live in France.
  • Build a Dream Center in Santa Cruz, California – (Whoa. Did I just said that out loud?)
  • Learn to play guitar well enough to play around a campfire.
  • Write bestselling books.
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Nice would be nice.

At least two of those goals are impossible without God, it’s just a fact. The trick, Batterson says, is to work like it’s on me, but pray like it’s on God.

And so my friends, today is audience participation day at Going to the Sea.

  • Who are you?
  • What are you dreaming up?

In the comment section please inspire us:

Link up your blog if you like and post five of your own life goals. Be bold.

Roll your works upon the Lord (commit and trust them to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will and) so shall your plans be established and succeed. Proverbs 16:3