Weightlifting for Christians

Yesterday I heard a story about a young lady who is spending the summer teaching desperately poor kids in Uganda.

One of her tasks is to sharpen 100 or so pencils every day for the kids, but the school doesn’t have a pencil sharpener. So she does it by hand with a dull razor blade, a task that’s proving so arduous she has blisters from it.

A pencil sharpener.

IMG_0363-2I’m leaving in three weeks to work in a Zambian bush village, in a school with 150 children. They show up each day hungry and sit on the floor to do their schoolwork, presumably with loaner pencils. One pastor, his wife and three other women feed all these children, educate them and love them, but the need is always deeper than the resource pool.

So it is wonderful that our team is coming to help with plumbing and construction and infection and yes we will bring more soccer balls and pencils, but sometimes the best gift you can give someone is the freedom to decide what they need most, like electricity and rice.

Cash does that. So I’m raising more.

This money is not going to rescue them, they rely on Jesus for that. What it will do is lift some weight. Maybe for a time it will give these five people a breather, maybe give them courage to go back to what seems like endless, impossible work.

Because, for as difficult as it is, they love it. This job, these children, it is what they were made to do. How lucky are they to know that?

Will you help us fund food or electricity or projects in Chongwe Zambia? Will you help us bless this Pastor who has two kids of his own and 150 more counting on him.

You can mail a tax-deductible contribution with The Jasper Project in the subject line to SCRUBS Medical Mission PO Box 8772 Tyler, Texas 75711.

Thanks friends.

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This is What Love Does – Part 1

This is the first in a series about the 2013 Love Does Stuff Conference, hosted by NYT bestselling author, justice seeker and Jesus lover Bob Goff.

Photo Credit: Lisa Long

Photo Credit: Lisa Long

On my flight home from Seattle yesterday, I imagined what it will be like when Bob Goff meets Jesus Christ in person.

Of course, I hope that doesn’t happen for another 50 years or so, because I need Bob in this world teaching me how to love people like Jesus did. He’s better at it than anyone I know.

Bob is a living, breathing disciple of Christ, a first-century apostle on a stage with balloons, hollering about fireworks and felons and child soldiers in Uganda, exhorting us to expand our territory and L-O-V-E  people so extravagantly that the world thinks we’re nuts.

Because that’s what Bob does. That’s what love does.

But when he’s done here and we are all weeping and toasting him, I imagine Bob will run as fast as he can into heaven, right up to the crystal lake and do a cannonball.

As the angels applaud and hold up scorecards, Bob will surface and yell, “How cool was that?” And Jesus will nod to Peter and John and say, “There he is, there’s our Bob.”

IMG_3756

My new BFF Lisa Long, Bob and me.

Then I think Jesus will grab Bob’s face and kiss his forehead, exactly like Bob did to many of us over the weekend. I can almost hear Jesus say:

“Thank you, Precious for delivering so many of them to my feet. Thank you for helping them find me, even the ones who have done heinous and horrible things. Thank you for showing them they are not just invited to my table, they are welcome.”

In Tacoma, Washington, at the first ever conference based on Love Does, Bob’s bestselling book, he must have said that 100 times. “You are not just invited here, you are welcome.”

Photo Credit: Lisa Long

Photo Credit: Lisa Long

You are welcome to speak your dreams out loud.

You are welcome to quit stuff, even your job, if it keeps you from Jesus.

You are welcome to not have all the answers about Christianity.

You are welcome to show up with whatever faith you have and leave the rest to Jesus.

Bob Goff is  a revolutionary, reminding us there’s only one four letter Jesus used all the time.

L-O-V-E

In God’s kingdom, love is supreme and without direct, exuberant expression of it, we are just noisy cymbals and clanging gongs. Sadly, the noisy cymbals get a lot more attention than conference speaker Veronica Tutaj does.

Veronica started doing love by handing out programs at church on Sundays eight years ago. Today, she loves on hundreds of pregnant and parenting teenagers in Austin, Texas. She does love with fire in her belly and told all 1,500 of us how to do the same. I think Jesus watched, elbowing Peter and John saying “there’s our Veronica, watch her go.”

Do you want to know how to do love better? Here’s a start.

Pick up Love Does* and let it change your mind about Christian behavior. If it surprises you, then pick up the Gospel of John. Find out what Jesus actually said, not what people say he said. It doesn’t matter what you are currently doing, or who says you are unwelcome. They are wrong.

You are welcome here.

*Proceeds from the sale of Love Does support the school Bob and his friends built for former child soldiers eight years ago. It is now the #1 school in Uganda. For more information visit Restore International.

Engage Your Faith and Do Stuff

141800800-196x300If you’ve been around here long, you may recall my meeting last fall with NYT Bestselling Author Bob Goff.

I didn’t write much about it because it was a visit, not an interview. I was really moved by his book Love Does (if you haven’t read it, run to your Kindle and buy it) and I wanted to tell him that. Since he put his phone number in the back of the book and he answers it, that wasn’t as hard as it sounds.

One night in LA, Bob squeezed me, a stranger, in into his impossibly tight schedule and we chatted for about 45 minutes. Here are two things I learned about Bob:

1. In person, he’s just like he is in the book.

2. He is a funny and refreshing example of gospel-centered Christianity in action.

For example, when negotiating the contract for Love Does, Bob told the publisher he wanted a big enough advance to build a school in Uganda. They gave it to him and now there’s a school in Uganda. Here it is under construction:

Bob, who is a lawyer, took a bunch of law students along to beat back the tangled bush of the Ugandan legal system, providing due process to dozens of kids languishing untried in jail.

Then they began prosecuting witch doctors for child sacrifice/mutilation and educating, with kindness and creativity, other witch doctors about Uganda’s laws regarding the practice.

Bob’s example is one reason I am going to Zambia. I can’t do what Bob does in Africa but God isn’t asking me to be Bob. He is asking me to engage my faith to create something sweet that doesn’t currently exist. As Jesus said,

When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. John 15:18

In other words: Love Does.

Bob guest posted over at Donald Miller’s Storyline blog yesterday and here’s what he said:

“I have often wondered why the things that are talked about at Bible studies I’ve been at never really stuck with me…I wanted what was said to matter, but like Taylor’s song, it didn’t – at least not enough. But that all changed when I started engaging my faith; when I started doing stuff. It was then that I stopped humming along to someone else’s song and started writing my own.”

I love both of these guys and if you read Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, you can hear how they met. Both them have inspired me to write a better story with of my life, to get out of the boat, into the world and do stuff.

What are you supposed to get out and do?