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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Quit Staring At Your Muffin Tops

Let’s just get this out of the way, shall we? It’s New Year’s Eve, and I suspect, by the new muffin tops spilling over the edge of my yoga pants, I may have eaten too much again this year.

Shocking!

Last night, I made my yoga students hold Warrior II foreverrrrrrrr, while telling them to leave the self-loathing over holiday gluttony on the mat. “It’s a waste of our time, ladies! You’re strong and beautiful, and you’re here getting stronger and more beautiful. So good! Three more breaths.”

Warrior II. Photo Credit Tim Cigleske

Warrior II. Photo Credit Tim Cigleske

A teacher of mine is fond of saying: You cannot be selfish and happy, and that’s why I think New Year’s resolutions, particularly those surrounding weight loss, slip off us like soap in the shower.

We want to get in shape, because we think it will make us happy, and to a degree it’s does, but I’ve been at my “goal weight” and seen all the muscles in my arms, and guess what? I just found something else that needed fixing. Relentless discontent dogs me when it’s all about me. In other words:

I OBSESS ABOUT MY MUFFIN TOPS WHEN I STARE AT MYSELF IN THE MIRROR.

So in 2014, I’m going to quit staring at myself and stare at somebody else instead.

Like the couple in church who, despite having at least three, sometimes five, kids, just swooped into CPS-land and got four more. It is a proven fact that helping them makes me happier than losing ten pounds.

Or perhaps I will stare at another family I know that’s a little short right now, and run to Sam’s Club for them. That plan bubbled up at Love Dinner Saturday night because there is a need, we know what it is and we can meet it – simple.

The Love Dinner gals have been cooking this in their own kitchens for months now. One of them used a Macy’s gift card she got for her birthday to buy new clothes for a Hispanic woman living with her three kids at the crisis center. Another helped an older woman clean up her child’s vomit in Taco Bell. Another gave a young mother pushing a stroller in the dark, a ride to the grocery store and back home.

See, the LD gals know that the Love of God must be attached to hands and feet. This country is drowning in theology while the world dies of hunger. How can that be when the Bible says, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:26

Muffin Tops Cannot Survive this Pose! Photo Credit: Flashflood

BTW – Muffin Tops Cannot Survive this Pose! Photo Credit: Flashflood

The good news about love and service is that it feels good. When somebody’s life is demonstrably better because you showed up, it’s exhilarating and holy because you sense there’s something larger at work. Though you can’t see it yet, you are building great amphitheaters and skyways and rose gardens in the eternal Kingdom of God.

And it’s easy. Look around.

Does some kid in your neighborhood need a trusted adult? Is there an elderly widow who needs a cup of tea? AIDS orphans surely need a sponsor, and Mercy Ships needs a lot more doctors, nurses and dollars for the new ship.

So go ahead lose the ten pounds here’s a tool I like, and come to yoga in Mineola; then unhand the muffin tops and go get happy helping someone else. Let me know how it goes.

Happy 2014!

God Loves Women.

…And so does Mercy Ships.Congo Mercy Ships Crew

Videos like the four-minute one below, make me so grateful for the small role I play on the big, white ship.

You know you can join us right? You can volunteer on the ship for a short-term mission of as little as two weeks. But if you commit to a post of 10-months or more, you have the added pleasure of coming to Texas first for training.

That’s where you’ll see me.

Happy Friday y’all.