Christians Should Throw More Rocks.

Out my back door and down the hill, three ponds lay tucked in the woods. A small creek filled with the cleanest water you’ve ever seen has faithfully slipped over red rocks and dead leaves day after day, and now all three ponds are brimming. The only regular visitors to this spot are Sam’s four bull calves and me.

I go there to hear directly from God.

You can believe what you want to, but four years ago, when I was dangling from the end of my rope, I found places in the Bible where Jesus himself said:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

Since no one was around to tell me otherwise, I believed him, and today, I hear him best on the bank of the biggest pond. His voice is like a low whisper, almost like a distant train you can feel more than hear. If the voice in my head is a fiddle, then God’s is an upright bass.

“Get a rock and throw it in.”

Photo Credit: Richard Freeman

Photo Credit: Richard Freeman

I’d heard this before. Last week in fact and I did it, even though I was thinking, “I get where you’re going Jesus, but the ripple metaphor is a little tired.” Then I recalled something I always say when explaining the work of the LA Dream Center:

“The Dream Center,” I tell people, “is like ground zero, the epicenter. It’s like a love bomb went off in a rough part of LA and the shock waves rolled through the hood, leaving gardens, tidy lawns, freshly painted houses and families for miles in every direction.”

That’s what the love of God does. It spreads restoration, wholeness and order in all directions – like ripples.

But here’s why I had to toss a second rock in today: The ripples eventually dissipate, so somebody’s got to throw another rock. Somebody has to scribble their phone number on the church bulletin and hand it to the bleary-eyed dude on the back row, whose hung over presence is a miracle in itself.

Places like the LA Dream Center and Mercy Ships have armies of people with strong thighs and backs from years of grabbing hands and hoisting boulders together, chunking them into the water. But people like you and me can gather stones too. We can keep little ones in our pockets, not to throw at each other and at gay people and Muslims, but into the water of people’s lives, spreading shock waves of grace – no matter who they are.

“What are you waiting for?” I heard him say. “Throw more rocks! This is how we win. This is how the kingdom is built.”

It’s a fact that every rock makes ripples. So what kind of rocks are you throwing? And if they’re good ones, how often do you throw them?

Love Dinner #5 is on the books. I can’t wait to tell you what kind of rocks the girls have been throwing. To join us click here.

On Love Dinner & Wolfpacks.

Love DinnerI host this little gathering at my house once a month, called Love Dinner. And while I’m a big fan of candlelight, girlfriends, red wine and chocolate, I really have no idea why I am doing it.

Except, I think God wants me to.

It’s like he’s teaching me something about intimacy and trust, building a cozy shelter out of women who also like Milano cookies, root beer floats and Love with a capital L. Ladies, we need this more than we care to admit.

Love Dinner is a haven for women, especially those with wide-eyed panic stares and glazy smiles, whose overwrought, type-A behavior says “I’m fine,” in the same way Sally Field said it in Steel Magnolias.

Uh, clearly not fine, but unless you’re from some warm-climate culture, you’re going to say “Ok good to see you, take care” and move on, thrilled to have dodged some colleague’s weepy elevator meltdown.

Not at Love Dinner. We go there – together – and we ask Jesus along, because a few months ago in Zambia, we realized women who get on their knees together to sort through a mess of broken glass are pretty good at cleaning it up.

That’s what happened in my snug, little living room last night. It was easy to see who was Sally Field, white-knuckling dinner, impatient for us to shut our eyes and pray so they could finally LET IT ALL OUT. My question is: Why wait?

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Jesus & Alan in the same post? Sweet.

I’ve decided being a lone wolf is a spectacular waste of time. My wolfpack has grown by a dozen or so, and I realize how lucky am I to have a cadre of women who want to hang out at my house and do battle for me when I’m too far down to do it myself.

And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Heb 10:24-25

Another funny thing about Love Dinner is this:

The people I invite are rarely the ones who show. Last night two women I didn’t invite and one I’d never met before settled right in with everybody else. Perfect!

One woman showed up four hours late and didn’t leave until one in the morning. Another brought her new, deaf, rescue dog. One is so in love and hopelessly twitterpated she can’t speak without giggling. And the baby of our group is sprinting after Jesus in such exuberant and hilarious ways it’s easy to forget she’s only 19.

Last month’s assignment was based on Matthew 22:37-41 wherein Jesus said the two greatest commandments are Love God and Love others. I nearly peed my pants when Baby K told us how she interpreted that – paying for some grown man’s gas with the last $20 of her financial aid.

“I’m sure he thought I was hitting on him,” she said. “And I’m like no way honey, I don’t love you. I love Jesus.”Love Dinner

Team Dallas, who couldn’t come last night, shared this story via email.

Paula and I were driving to Burlington to look for purses when we passed a young lady pushing a stroller on a street without sidewalks. After I passed her I realize how easy it would be for someone to hit her because it was night time.   We circled back and pulled up to her and asked if she needed a ride. She was crying.  We stopped in the middle on the lane and got out and helped her into the car stroller and all – she had a baby – 4 months and a young child 14 months in the stroller.  She said that the boyfriend she was living with would not go get her some milk and food for the baby and the little boy and told her to get it herself, so she was walking to the store that was a good distance away.

We had the privilege of taking her to the store. She would not let us buy the food and milk but we held the babies while she shopped and we took them home. Before they got out we prayed with her and she cried and we believe that God did something special that night in all of us. We prayed for the boyfriend whose parents she said were big in the church.  God is going to do something good for that family.

Do you see? Do you get it? This is what Christians are supposed to be doing. “By their fruit you will recognize them,” Jesus said.

So it’s not entirely about us hanging out and having fun together, although that’s important. It’s about filling up on the love of God, so we can spill it out on other people, releasing, as the Apostle Paul said, the fragrance of God everywhere we go.

This month’s assignment is called Loving The Father. We’re using Psalm 145 as a springboard, reading it daily out loud, to remember just who we’re dealing with and what he promises to do.

But we’re still going to buy grocery gift cards for homeless people and gas up cars because that’s where some holy magic happens and we don’t want to miss it.

Want to join us? Comment below to join us online, where you can test out what we’re doing in your own community and report back.

This Is Love Dinner – Want to Come?

Love Dinner“When did we quit living the Bible and just start studying it?”  – Jen Hatmaker author of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.

I hope she forgives me if I misquoted her, but I read 96% of Hatmaker’s book 7 while traveling around Zambia, then I left it on the plane.

She’s right, we do spend a lot of energy studying the Bible, which is a good idea, but how much time do we spend actually doing what it says?

Stuff like this:

Do not be quick in spirit to be angry or vexed, for anger and vexation lodge in the bosom of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9

The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives. Proverbs 18:7

For if you forgive people their trespasses (their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment), your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14

There are a million little pearls like that, but I picked those for a reason.

At one time, my mind was like a smouldering fire barrel. Every day I stoked up my grievances and burnt heaps of mental garbage. Not surprisingly, some of that toxic smoke billowed out of my mouth and into my environment, where other people wound up charred and sooty.

Now I’m sure that’s just me, you…would…never…

Then I started reading the Bible, and all its talk about renewing my mind, shutting my mouth, forgiving people, not being arrogant and judgmental started to sting, and I realized I could put the fire out if I wanted to. I just had to figure out how.

Luckily Jesus boiled it down to two things: Love and Love.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:35-40 NLT

I’ve spent the last three years studying the Bible and changing my mind, and today my life is different. But as Hatmaker suggests, is it even about me? Or is that just phase one in a grand design?

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22

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(Photo credit: rogerglenn)

So what if I quit making excuses and got down to loving God and loving others like I mean it – every day in practical, biblical ways? Would my own lingering broken parts heal up as a result?

And what if, rather than going it alone, I teamed up with seven girlfriends (and a few hundred online friends) once a month, over red wine and dinner? What if there were taper candles and chocolate dessert, good coffee and long communal prayers?

What if we picked one scripture that fulfills Jesus’ mandate and spent the next month just doing that? Forgiving? Submitting? Loving the unlovely? What would that look like, especially over time?

To me it looks like Love Dinner and it’s starting at my house next month.

Want to join us? Like Erin Kirk – Writer or follow this blog by email. Then let me know you’re here in the comment section.