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.
IMG_0573

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

How to Deal with Conflict.

IMG_2022Last fall, I learned something valuable about conflict from a woman named Joyce at the LA Dream Center.

Joyce is a huge character – a native Angelino, possibly in her 30’s, with tatts up her legs, basketball shorts and a hoodie. She is one of the leaders of the Dream Center’s food truck ministry and hollers out the window as she weaves her rattletrap delivery truck through LA traffic, loudly encouraging other drivers to GET THROUGH THAT LIGHT! I’ve never seen anybody who can shout in traffic, with the love of Jesus.

Joyce is compelling because she follows Jesus in her exact context, authentically and with heart. She didn’t tell me that. I witnessed it. She is my favorite kind of Christian because the love of God sprays out of her, like water from a kinked garden hose that’s riddled with holes and turned on high.

One morning as we were unpacking, sorting and loading food into the trucks, two of the fellas were bickering about who was driving what truck where. Feeding poor people every day is hard work and I sense these guys were a little worn out and cranky. It was nothing big, just the garden variety conflict that bedevils humans every day.

Joyce stepped in, straightened it out and then said, “K everybody time to go, let’s circle up and pray.”

Then rather than sending up some big, shiny prayer, Joyce just talked to God about what was happening at that moment. It wasn’t a rebuke to the bickerers, it was just an acknowledgment that we are inadequate when it comes to loving one another properly and we need help.

She said something like this:

Father God, we thank you for this day and Lord please help us to not bicker over who is taking what truck, and to remember why we are doing this, and please help us to be kind to each other and give us your strength to go feed some hungry people. Thank you that you love us even when we are cranky. Amen.

I’ve been thinking of that prayer all week because I had a small conflict I needed to confront. I didn’t want to be unkind but I also didn’t want to be phony and pretend the conflict didn’t exist. So I thought WWJD – What Would Joyce Do?

Well, she’d pray about it, then she’d be kind but blunt. So, I did that. And it wasn’t fun but now it’s over and peace rules in my land.

I’m sure Joyce doesn’t even remember me or that bickery little moment in the parking lot last fall, but I do, and that, I think, is a great truth about Christianity.

People respond to what we do as Christians, way more than what we say. When Christians do it right, by being honest, authentic, humble and kind, especially in conflict, it sprays like a garden hose on a hot day.

Conflict is certain. Our response is discretionary. Jesus helps.

Team Kirk is the #3 Exodus Road Fundraiser!

Did you know we are the #3 Exodus Road fundraising team now? Fifteen of you have joined me in raising nearly $700. Thank you!

We have one week to raise the other half. I blogged here about my commitment to help this non-profit raise $1400 to raid a brothel selling imprisoned children for sex. The Exodus Road is taking two of its top fundraising bloggers back to SE Asia to see the operation firsthand. That could be me!

Here’s why this work matters:

1. There are more human slaves now than at any other time in human history.

2. An estimated 600,000-800,000 people are trafficked over international borders, including into the US, each year. Seventy percent are female and half are children.

3. Human trafficking is the third largest organized crime after guns and drugs.

Ugh, thanks Erin, I really needed more bad news.

Don’t despair! It is easy to help and you don’t have to solve the whole problem, you just have to refuse to do nothing. Your contribution matters to rescued sex slaves like Sarah.

So here is not one, but two options for fighting sexual slavery.

Donate to The Exodus Road coalition and support the people performing covert surveillance and organizing raids on SE Asian brothels.

dream_centerDonate to The LA Dream Center, which operates the United States’ largest transitional care and recovery center for victims of human trafficking. Even though I was at the Dream Center in November, I know little about this program, because security for it is super high. In LA that is expensive.

As Chris Caine, founder of the A21 Campaign says, no one can do everything, but everyone can do something.

Tomorrow, I’m bringing the noise from Sweden – a nation which sex traffickers consider “inhospitable for business.” Solutions abound y’all. Be a part!