What Is Love Dinner?

“When you learn everything about somebody without actually doing things with them, there’s a name for that – it’s called stalking.  I don’t want to stalk Jesus anymore.”

-Bob Goff, author of NYT Bestseller Love Does.

Every Thursday morning, Bob Goff and a few of his buddies meet for breakfast – they have for years. They eat pancakes, talk about their lives and pray for each other. Before they leave, they pick one scripture from the Bible and commit to doing it all week. The next week, they tell each other what happened.

They don’t call it Bible study. They call it Bible doing. After all, the scriptures say, don’t just be hearers of the word, be doers. In other words, be lovers not stalkers.

Love Dinner is a Bible doing.

ldEvery month, six to eight of us gather around my dining room table. We light candles, eat, sigh, take off our masks and get down to the way things are. Once we’ve prayed all of it right to the feet of Jesus, we take the focus off ourselves and level it on those around us, leaning in to Jesus’ second major command – Love your neighbor as yourself.

Simple.

Papa Don Stephens, founder of Mercy Ships, knows a thing or two about loving God and loving others. He told a story yesterday, from his recent trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo, that’s a perfect example.

He was in Kinshasa for a national prayer breakfast with a number of important heads of state. The day before he was speaking at a seminar about what bringing hope and healing to the forgotten poor looks like for Mercy Ships.

As Don spoke about the facial tumors our surgeons remove, freeing people from terrible deformity, rejection and sometimes death, (you can watch a 60 Minutes segment about that here) someone in the crowd raised their hand.

That person mentioned a local police officer in Kinshasa who suffers with one of those tumors. The man is known around town as “the honest policeman.” From the podium, Don asked the attendees, mostly local, to raise their hands if they knew this man. Many did.

Don said he could feel the Holy Spirit reminding him how Jesus healed people – one by one, picking them out of crowds. The problem is, the ship is on the other side of the African continent now, in Madagascar. Don explained this and asked the crowd. What can we do?

Photo Credit: Justine Forrest

Photo Credit: Justine Forrest

People reached into their pockets and together pooled $1100 to fly the honest policeman to the Africa Mercy, so our volunteer plastic surgeons can remove his tumor. This wasn’t a seminar in Dallas mind you. This was in Kinshasa, capital city of the nation which, on the Human Development index, ranks second to last on earth.

Don called it a miracle.

People love stories like this because they are conceivable – we can imagine ourselves living them.

Most of us want to live a better story, one wherein we gain the deep satisfaction that comes only through loving other people more. It’s an amazing thing to link arms with strangers to perform some small kindness that sends shock waves through a family in Kinshasa, and ripples through eternity.

And that’s exactly what Love Dinner is for. It’s a platform from which we can dive headlong into the radical lives Jesus died for us to live. And it’s fine if our initial steps are small.

Starting Love Dinner was a small step I took 100% out of trust and obedience, because I felt like God was saying: Answer the question “what is there to do?” and “How do I do it.”

Don Stephens has been doing this for decades, he’s a pro. That’s why I know, someday, I’m going to hear a story from the Africa Mercy about a policeman from Kinshasa – a man who knows in his bones that God sees him and loves him.

And when it happens, I promise to tell you all about it.


Want to do Love Dinner with us? Comment below.

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How to Love People Better

I have a childhood friend who has adopted 9 of her 11 children, most of whom were damaged in utero by alcohol. Many of them require a breathtaking level of care and an environmental stability that’s hard to imagine in a home with 13 people sharing bathrooms.

What happens in her Minneapolis home is a miracle, a daily reminder of the faithfulness of the God she serves. I devour her blog Urban Servant trying to figure how someone with this much responsibility not only holds it together but has time write it all down. Recently, I took a good look at the tagline on her home page:

Filled, to be poured out again…

Screen shot 2013-10-06 at 7.21.17 PM

Yep they all do Tae Kwon Do too.

See, it’s not about her and she’ll tell you that. Nobody has this kind of stamina and personal courage. Rather, Dot understands she is a cup, designed to be filled with the love of God, then poured out on kids who, without she and her husband, would be crashing through the system. She doesn’t always know what to do but God does, and by trusting him over the years, her cup has grown in strength, character and volume.

This, my friends, is the purpose of Love Dinner. Dot’s life is an encouragement, a high-level example of what Jesus meant when he said:

“‘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 22:36-40

If you’re struggling with the love others part of the command, like that annoying woman at church or the tailgating jerk in traffic, you might be running on empty. If you don’t know how to fill up, pick up a bible and look up a few of these scriptures on how much God loves you, because when you finally get that, deep in your bones, it’s hard not to weep and tremble at his feet.

Fill up. Pour out. Repeat.

Most of the world struggles to live like this because they don’t know God is Love (I John 4:8). Imagine if they did. What would it look like? I think this video is a fun example, plus it has a ton of practical ideas for doing love well.

Love Dinner Assignment – Just for fun, try a few of these things in the video, or next time you’re in a drive thru, pay for the person behind you. Then tell us what happens.

Come Do Love in Austin…And Pensacola!

Have you ever met a perfect stranger and three seconds later decided you ought to be best friends?

That happened to me in May, in Tacoma, Washington, as I wandered through the first ever Love Does Stuff Conference looking for a seat. Plunking down next to the raven haired beauty pictured below, I evidently flipped my hair and said,

“Hi, I’m Erin.”

“Hi, I’m Lisa.”

Boom. Friends.

Look out world!

Love Does Stuff Conference – Tacoma, Washington

Not only have we been BFF’s ever since, but the two of us will be speaking together this Sunday at her church, First City in Pensacola Florida.

The topic is the third person in picture – Bob Goff and his Love Does mantra “Love God. Love People. Do Stuff.”

Ever since I read Love Does, I’ve been in full enthusiastic agreement. However, the HOW can be tricky, because loving people extravagantly requires the surrender of our native human selfishness. Believe me, it’s a process.

That’s why I’m excited about the second Love Does Stuff Conference, in Austin October 31-November 1st. Regular people who have busted out of their own cocoons with atomic results, will gather to help the rest of us do the same.

Author Donald Miller laid it out in Tacoma like this:

  • Who are we?
  • What do we want?
  • What is the first step?

Lisa and I have been walking that out for a while now. You can read about some of my attempts here, here, here, and here. On Sunday, with the help of Rick Hazelip, her Jesus-loving Pastor, we’re going to talk about doing love Goff style, intersecting well with other humans, and why it is SO…MUCH…FUN.

“You are becoming love, that’s why you’re going to walk out of here worked,” Bob said in Tacoma. “Let your default position be love… see people for who they are becoming.”

Stay tuned.