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!

Why Bother With Jesus – Part II

English: Jesus at the house of Mary and Martha

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a story in the Bible about two sisters named Mary and Martha.

Jesus was over for dinner one night – a very big deal for them. Martha was frazzled with all the cooking and preparation and Mary wasn’t helping. Rather, she was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to him.

Naturally, Martha complained to Jesus, asking him to tell her lazy sister to get up and help make dinner.

Here’s what Jesus said:

Martha, Martha…you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her. Luke 10:41-42

Several weeks ago, when a literary agent told me she wanted to represent my book but didn’t think she could sell it because my platform is small, I went nuts. I read books, called meetings, guest blogged, bought domain names, thought up clever e-books and busied myself with the marketing end of being a writer.

There’s nothing wrong with that. After all, dinner must be made.

But all day yesterday, I battled the hunch that Jesus was becoming an abstraction – a terrifying thought because Christendom is already thick with phonies and I don’t want to be one. I promise, if I ever start faking this, I’ll quit and take up bowling.

This morning one of my teachers reminded me about Mary sitting with Jesus, and I realized I’ve become Martha. This is hardly groundbreaking theology, people say it all the time, but in my hustle for my book, I forgot the reason I wrote it in the first place:

  • Because life is hard and Jesus helps.
  • Because it’s not about homosexuality.
  • Because our GPS is faulty.
  • Because seeking his kingdom and his righteousness first, is the path to everything else.
  • Because anybody, even pissed off skeptics, Democrats, gays, immigrants, addicts and Westboro Baptists are welcome at his feet. No matter who says otherwise.

This is why it can be hard to understand Christians sometimes. True, feet-sitting followers of Jesus Christ operate on a totally different framework, one wherein you have to believe it before you see it. For many of us, the things we’ve seen, prevent us from ever going back.

See, when you finally realize it’s irrelevant what you do or don’t do for Jesus, you can just rest at his feet and let him love you. That’s a tremendous relief.

What do you get when you sit at his feet?

Why Bother with Jesus?

Eating lunch in a French cafe last week, Sam and I were playing a game called: You just won the lottery, what will you do with the money?

It’s a useful exercise because the question really asks: Without limitations, perceived or actual, what would you do with your life?

IMG_8737“Well, I’d have a nice ranch with cattle,” he said.

“You already have that.” I reminded him.

“I’d travel more.”

“What are you talking about, we just ordered lunch in French.”

“Ok, I’d buy a new truck.”

“Come on, you’re going to do that anyway.”

What we think we want is money. What we really want is joy.

It’s tempting to believe we could have better lives if we only had more money. Obviously in some cases that’s true, but in France I caught myself wishing I too could drink wine on my sparkly, white yacht before sailing to Villefranche or Monaco. Unfortunately, that craving threatened to eclipse the simple joy of watching the boats from my balcony in Nice.

Even though I know better, I still behave like money guarantees happiness. Please everybody, raise your hand if you know a wealthy person who is a howling, insufferable mess.

In my mind, that is best answer to the question: Why bother with Jesus?

When you get everything you want and it’s still not enough, crushing despair is often the bonus in the box. What do you do then? Go get more boxes? Buddha said that wouldn’t work. Jesus did too. He said over and over, don’t strive, don’t hoard, and he followed up with this advice:

“While you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and there is nothing that I need,’ you have no eyes to see that you are wretched, pitiable, poverty-stricken, blind and naked. My advice to you is to buy from me that gold which is refined in the furnace so that you may be rich… All those whom I love I correct and discipline. Therefore, shake off your complacency and repent.” Rev. 3:17-19

IMG_8430Before I was following Jesus I wasn’t greedy, I was complacent, which is a different and hard animal to break. So, how do you buy this gold from Jesus? What does that look like in practical terms? Here’s my hunch:

  • What matters to Jesus is usually opposite of what matters to us. So plan on that.
  • It’s going to involve doing things for people who won’t say thank you. Rinse, repeat.
  • It will cost something, probably a lot, maybe everything.

Wow, that sounds awesome sign me up!

But what if the return was joy? What if by buying this gold, rather than coveting and hoarding ours, we could live with unspeakable joy? What if  your joy bank was so full, overflowing so lavishly on other people, that they followed you asking your secret?

Would you do it?