How to Begin Living On Purpose

A few months ago, I spoke at a church in Pensacola Florida with my dear friend and fellow Love Doer Lisa Long.

I wrote about it here and if you have 30 minutes you can listen to what the two of us had to say, about living a life of love: Who it’s about, why it matters and how to do it. Lisa and I are hardly experts, but we agree that this process of becoming who God intended, is rich and diverting, and well worth the trip.

First City Church

Last Sunday, First City baptized 29 people, and it was beautiful.

Now, I recognize many of you reading are skeptical by nature, leery of overt Christian symbolism and/or mad at the church, but indulge me, will you? Spend seven minutes and watch this video, because friends, this is what love looks like soaking wet.

Specifically, watch for:

  • The expressions as people come out of the water.
  • Pastor Rick’s expression as he dunks some (but not all) of them.
  • The totally uninhibited clinging bro hugs.
  • Who is doing the dunking – Pastor, Mom, Youth Pastor, Friend, Brother, Community.
  • The naked vulnerability, the relief.

 

The “Church” and its goofy humans have messed the world up so thoroughly for so long, it’s easy to level that charge at Jesus, thereby ignoring the accountability following him requires. But what we miss when we do that, what I missed for years, is the love.

The Love of God. That big sky love, with its incomprehensible vastness. The Love that invades and swallows us, eventually moving us like wind across the plains, sweeping us over prairie grass or oceans into places we can’t imagine.

Prairie

When we finally submit to Jesus, we aren’t granted ease, safety or perfection, but rather love and a purpose in his very big design. Twenty nine people at First City Church signed up for that on Sunday and I think it shows on their faces.

Good on you FCC!

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Why Bite Your Tongue?

Ever find yourself sequestered in your home, stuffing gingersnaps in your mouth, to prevent a bunch of words from coming out?

Like say for instance, half a story is being told in your community with such regularity that its general “truthiness” has cemented into fact. But you know the other half, and the only thing holding it back is a thin layer of gingersnaps.

What do you do?

Caramel Gingersnap Sandwiches

(Photo credit: jensteele)

Well, if you’re me, you walk around mad about it for 90 minutes or so, seething at the injustice, imagining how your withering rebuke will wipe the smug off a few faces. Believe me, if there were an Olympic event for the withering rebuke, I’d be the Michael Phelps of it.

But here’s the problem, I really want to act like Jesus and Jesus didn’t act like that.

In fact, he taught that God is our vindicator, not us. At the mother of all bogus death penalty trials, one prompted by religious and political fear mongering, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the chance to respond, and he didn’t. He remained silent. When Jesus was being tortured to death, he finally opened his mouth to say, “Father forgive them they don’t know what they are doing.”

See, my natural response to personal injustice oozes self-righteousness and sanctimony, and who doesn’t love that in a Christian? Or if I choose not to tell someone off, I’ll tell five random people about it instead, so we can all be annoyed together. Mean, gossiping Christians – another thing people love.

As it turns out, my “natural response” is the problem, it’s what Jesus came to correct. He showed us how live here, and then died for our inability to do it. Or to put it another way:

Without Jesus, I’d be on the horn right now, spreading malice, division, strife and slander, all in the name of justice. Hmm.

But with Jesus, I’m just eating gingersnaps and talking to you. Maybe he’s even raising an eyebrow at that.

Love Dinner Thank God Love Dinner #3 is Saturday night because I need practice.

Without it, my cranky, unregenerate self shoves her way to the front, spits out the gingersnaps and lets somebody have it. Because I don’t want that, I’ve decided we’re going to spend LD3 and the month of December practicing one of the hard ones in Ephesians.

You ready?

Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind). And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32 AMP

To join our online community of “bible doers” working out Ephesians 4:29-32 in your own world, just do it and tell us what happens. Post in the comment section or via the contact page. We’ll run the best stories, with a link to your blog here.

On Life Dismantled.

Four years ago, it was impossible that I would sob in a bathroom, at work, flanked by three women praying to Jesus on my behalf. There was exactly zero chance I could be that humble, that submitted to any authority but my own. It was a point of pride for me to reject a biblical worldview and everything I thought that meant.

But dangling from the end of your rope, is a REAL. DANGEROUS. PLACE. And deciding to read the Bible and follow Jesus like I mean it, is the smartest thing I ever did. It has rearranged my furniture so thoroughly, in such dramatic and interesting ways, I regret not doing it sooner.

Photo: Kristin Jack

Photos: Kristin Jack

My new life at Mercy Ships is a good example of the massive remodel God has in mind.

Based on Youth With a Mission’s five-month Discipleship Training School, “Gateway” is the Mercy Ships training program I will soon help lead. I’ve been a student of it for the last five weeks, and it has proven a wonderful place to be dismantled by God, in public.

And maybe that sounds horrifying, which it is, until you realize everyone else is doing it too – Parsing messy childhoods and sticky father images, jettisoning baggage, and getting down to the way things are. Tomorrow, somebody will surely throw open a long-chained closet door that conceals the terrible-awful and let the light shine in. Then they will cry in the bathroom.

This is some of the hardest evidence I can offer for the value of following Jesus.

When I was working the American dream like a boss, making a bunch of money and waking up each day in a dead panic, my life felt like a carnival game. The objective seemed to be, learn the rules, avoid the rigged ones and play better than everyone else. That’s it. Without eternity, who really cares what you do here? Of course, sometimes I’d win a stuffed banana, and that was nice, but who wants one of those anyway?

What I wanted was joy. I wanted to feel the love of God move from me, to someone else and back again; to know I am so thoroughly loved that all I really must do is manifest, to see people around me for the weary travelers they are, thirsty for love.

I have that now in ever-increasing measure. It’s my new American Dream. And the only thing I did to get it, was humble myself and surrender to a brand new worldview, one wherein Jesus is the center of everything.

I’m living proof. It works.

The Gateway Gang. Fighting Fires. Photo: Kristin Jack

The Gateway Gang. Fighting Fires. Photo: Kristin Jack

And so on Thursday morning, this group of people, who’ve held my hand as God threw open my broom closets, will board a plane for Point Noire, Congo. Many of them will spend the next several years there following Jesus right into the beating heart of Africa, where his beloved poor live.

My prayer for them is this:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanksto the Father, who has qualified youto share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Colossians 1:9-12