Christ’s Mission


7 December 2011

“When doubts come, and they will, beware of taking them too seriously.” – Your Truly

Doubt is probably not usually listed as one of your primary villains in life, but it should be. This little demon is so subtle that I don’t even know what to categorize it as. A feeling? A thought? An instinct?

Is it emotional or rational? Be careful answering too quickly. I’ve seen it come initially as an emotion, and then quickly rationalized in order to justify feeling it. And I’ve seen it come initially through a logical thought process, only to be defended quite emotionally when challenged with more logic.

Have you heard of homeostasis? It is something in your brain and body that is constantly at work to keep things the way they are. I sometimes wonder if doubt is as much physical as anything else.

Whatever it is, it is potentially insidious, and is certainly responsible for gazillions of hours of people’s attention every single day.

People have a love-hate relationship with doubt, too, so it is very difficult to want it to just go away forever. Add to that the legitimate role that doubt can play in life when properly utilized and you have the perfect backdrop for a conspiracy to sabotage the potential of your life and freeze you in your tracks (at least in any meaningful way).

Here are some of the spirit-killing ways in which doubt merges with otherwise good people:image

  • The Incessant Doubter – This person has the finely tuned gift of locating the unarguably significant obstacle in any idea, disguising his desire for the status quo under a cloak of “wisdom”.
  • The Last-Minute Doubter – This person likes to see themselves as fearless and bold, and will go through all the motions that lead up to the daring leap of faith, but at the last minute, can not go through with it because of some glaring issue that “only just came clear”.
  • The Doubting Dead – This person has become so assaulted by the inevitable doubts that arise with any plan whatsoever, that they have decided to avoid it’s dark discouragement by never doing anything of significant risk again. These doubters are invisible, since they need not lodge their doubts about anything they might do, because they are not doing anything.
  • The Selective Doubter – This person only mentions the doubts they have concerning other people’s plans or ideas that they themselves are uncomfortable with, or just too ego-driven to let any major course of action be anyone’s idea but their own.
  • The Self-Doubter – This person, under the guise of humility, spends far too much time looking for every possible reason to convict themselves of some impure motive, some disqualifying characteristic or past mistake, and gets frozen from action in the name of being “self-aware”.
  • The “Honest” Doubter – This person never wants to be seen as the reason that a plan, his own or someone else’s, is not pursued. So when he is the reason, he puts forth doubts as deal-breakers, and hides behind some form of the words, “I’m just sayin…”. They are never just sayin…

Can you think of others?

We have to master doubt. Doubt should be something that we use to refine plans, it should not use us to stop us from our plans.

You can spot the person who knows how to do this by how they present their doubts. Two different people can say the same words (“You know, I think that Jim Bob is going to have a tough time signing on to that,” or “Wow, that is going to cost a lot of money we don’t have”), and one means it as an end to the conversation, and the other means it as a legitimate obstacle that needs some conversation, brainstorming, idea-producing, and action.

It’s all in the tone of voice, and that tone comes from the intent in your spirit, and that spirit comes from your ability to be a “believer” or not, and that belief is proven genuine by your faith, and your faith is not real unless it results in bold action, and that action is impossible without confronting and mastering doubt.

It seems to me that Jesus didn’t take people’s doubt too seriously. He wants us to consider the validity of it’s source (Mt 4:31), and he suggests that it’s a troubling and unnecessary nuisance (Lk 24:28), and even challenges us to be like the ones who have overcome it (John 20:27-29).

But he never, ever made it a condition of followership. Even after he was resurrected from the dead, and he was meeting with his closest and most committed allies, scripture notes that these who had least reason to, doubted (Mt 28:17).

Jesus doesn’t even address it, rather he immediately pronounces onto these doubting disciples the most important commission that can be pronounced on anyone (Mt 28:18-20), and they ended up being world changers whose mission is still on the move today.

Beware of taking your doubts too seriously. 

My Calling Clarified

7 June 2011

“We Christians are such rookies at knowing how to love as Christ loved, that we must come up with complicated plans to do what Christ did.” – Yours Truly

I just finished a three week sabbatical – a break from my normal duties with, for, and among the church family that I am a part of. I’ve been being with, looking for, and listening to God each day. I’ve done this in special environments (with a mentor, in silence and solitude, reading books) and in my natural ones (with my family, my friends, in my busy house, running errands).

And this morning, in my regular morning routine, getting ready to enter back into my normal duties, I heard with crystal clarity His voice commissioning me (once again) with my current assignment:

“When I send people to you, you are to love them, ask them questions, and tell them stories. When I send ideas to you, you are to listen to them, contemplate them, and share them.”

Wow. What priceless simplicity. What an uncomplicated assignment.

What a precious answer from my Father who I am always asking with such urgency, “How do you want me to go about loving you and loving others in a way that makes disciples of Jesus?”

And I guess therein lies the problem. It is so simple. Surely it can’t be so simple?

I have spent much of my life longing for a simple life with God and people. Over and over God has said, “Certainly!” and given the same instructions to me in one form or another (the above being His latest effort). And what do I do?

I end up saying, “Certainly not!”

“It can’t be that simple!” I think. “It can’t be that narrow!” I argue. “It can’t all be fit into those few words of commission!” I surmise.

Why not, you may ask? Well…it’s complicated.

Only it’s not.

By hiding behind the mystery of how “complicated” we think loving God and people is, we hide from the simple assignment God is trying to give each one of us. And it stems from some deep down, in-bred, hard-to-escape lie that tells us that we must do more than we must do, or be somewhere other than where we are, or attain a life beyond what we’ve been given.


If you get sent to me, what you can expect from me, no more and no less, is my faithfulness to my assignment from God. I will love you. I will ask questions. And I will tell stories.

And if an idea comes to me (like this one that you are reading now), I will listen to it, contemplate it, and share it.

If I do less, then I’m being an unfaithful son, and I will be unsatisfied, anxious, and defensive.

If I do more, then I’m playing God, and I will be tired, overspent, and resentful.

But if I do what I’m told…I will play the peace-making role that God has for me. It’s a minor part in the story of God, but it is mine, and that God, my Father, has given me one is the honor and identity of my life.

The way my brother Jesus said it was, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

My Longing

24 May 2011

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” – CS Lewis

I am blessed and cursed with a very powerful sense of longing. I’ve never found the words to describe it adequately, which is part of the blessing and curse. While generally being the kind of guy who is more likely to use or indulge such non-stop, all-consuming hunger as motivation for some kind of action (be it noble or not), I have also strategically tried to escape its incessant hold on me…

By denying it.

By avoiding it.

By medicating it.

By pushing it down.

By judging it as impractical.

By acting as if it was satisfied.

By pretending it was not there.

By trying to delegate it to others.

But no matter what, I’ve never been able to suppress this thirst. It has been a constant companion. In my youth (past) and immaturity (still present), it has compelled me to do some incredibly unwise, even crazy, and sometimes outright stupid things. I have no regrets in this regard, mind you, for looking back, those things served as a litany of experiments and tests. They have cost me, but they have also enlivened and grounded me, authenticating that this longing in me is real and indestructible.

As I’ve grown older, slower, and more easily tired, I’m so grateful for this relentlessness. It serves as an old friend, one that I depend on as motivation for my worthiest endeavors and achievements.

What is this longing I speak of? As I said, I can’t nail down into one set of words, but that is not to say that I haven’t used some to try.

I long to matter.

I long for love and to love.

I long to see. I long to know.

I long for peace. I long for joy.

I long for healing and to heal.

I long to give. I long to receive.

I long for truth. I long for grace.

I long to experience. I long to risk.

I long for justice. I long for forgiveness.

I long for relationship. I long for reconciliation.

I long for good. I long for great. I long for perfect.

I long for victory. I long for redemption. I long for glory.

I long for a plan. I long for spontaneity. I long for adventure.

I long to be righted. I long for things to be righted. I long to participate in righting.

I long for life…to the fullest extent that it is available to a human being…that is what I long for.

Writing this list of words is quite unsatisfying. None of them, not even all of them, can capture this longing. It is at times subtle, at others obvious. It is sometimes overt, sometimes covert, but always subverts everything.

Certain thoughts, sights, and experiences seem to flare it up…

When I see the hungry. The thirsty. The oppressed.

When I see tears of hurt, anger, despair, or loneliness.

When violence breaks out, in thought, word, or deed.

When someone hurts someone, be it themselves or others.

When injuries happen. When sickness comes. When tragedy hits.

When lies are told. When masks are utilized. When hypocrisy is practiced.

When suspicion is called for. When skepticism pays off. When pessimism results.

And especially death. The death of anything, really, so long as it qualifies as “good”. A dream. A childhood. An innocence. An animal. A relationship. An idea. A motivation. An enthusiasm or spirit. A marriage. A person.

This longing…this hunger…this thirst… it simultaneously must be and can’t be satisfied!

It makes me walk through pain for the joy on the other side, and long for more.

It makes me call my dad and settle things between us, and long for more.

It makes me engage fully with my wife, and long for more.

It makes me present with my kids, and long for more.

It leads me to friends of depth, and long for more.

It drives me to give, and long to give more.

Ultimately, it makes me start movements that have no end, not projects that get done. And they are investments that demand as much or more than they will ever seem to payoff. It puts me smack dab in the middle of “problems” that are over the top, over my head, and overwhelming, while I get to feel under qualified, under resourced, and under the weight of it all. It gets me involved in issues that are so big, they will never, ever be solved…the work will never be finished.

Why do it then? Well, because…I long for it. I must. I guess the best answer would come by comparing the longing to an addiction. Not an unhealthy, self-defeating, chosen addiction like alcohol or drugs or workaholism…but a healthy, necessary addiction, like food or water or sleep.

Something in me knows that I’m contributing to something very worthwhile and satisfying now, and something that will be ultimately solved and satisfied later.

The way Jesus said it was, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

My Powerlessness

21 May 2011

I met a man today who owns and runs a company. In that company is another man who embezzled money, lots of money, from this company. I met him, too.

The very unique thing about this is that I met them sitting at the same table. What were they doing at this table? The broad answer is that they were sitting with each other, smack dab in the middle of the tension that had been created by one of their sins against the other, seeing if they could use this tension, this blatant and dishonest wrong, to both change.

The owner of the company had every right to have this employee arrested and put in prison.

He didn’t.

The owner had every right to at least fire this guy who has proven himself untrustworthy and dishonest.

He didn’t.

The owner had every right to at the very least cut his pay, and put him in another position in the company where he was less free to do something like this again.

He didn’t.

Instead, he invited this guy to this table where I met them. And I watched as he offered this guy grace. He offered this guy a chance. He offered this guy the opportunity to transform.

And here’s the kicker: he offered this guy HIMSELF as a companion and friend on the journey.

What does it take for a man like this owner, who holds all the power, who could have punished this man to whatever extent he wanted to, and been “justified”, approved of, and maybe even applauded for doing so, to offer a man like this sinner, who holds no power, has no defense, no excuse, and nothing to defend himself, such a thing as this?

What does it take? It takes meekness.

When the Bible uses the word meek, it is true that it is speaking of people that wield no power to manipulate the world to serve themselves or get things to go their way. In this way, the employee was in the meek position.

But the word meek is also speaking of those who DO have access to the power to move and shake the world to serve themselves or get things to go their way…but DON’T.

And instead, submit their power willingly to the loving agenda of God.

That is what this owner I met was doing at the table with this employee I met.

They were both meek. They were both powerless. One because of his submitting to temptation. One because of his submitting to God. Now, as brothers, both of them are working together, facing their fears, facing themselves, and facing God. As meek brothers, they are powerfully working to transform and experience on this earth the Kingdom that God originally designed for them both in the first place.

The way Jesus said it was, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

I want to be powerless like that. Powerless before God, and powerless because of my need to submit my power to God.

The Basement Boyz

13 April 2011

This week, a friend of mine asked me about my men’s group and whether or not we had room for another.

I told him yes and then gave this brief description (or warning!) of the atmosphere we co-create with God and with each other so that he could see what he thought of it. I thought I’d throw it out to you, my friends, to see what you think, too.

Our group is sort of unique. There are a core of about 5-6 guys currently that are pretty much gonna show up every time.

There are another 5-6 guys that are going to show up regularly.

There are another 10-12 guys that might show up at anytime.

We’ve probably had about 70-90 guys experience our group over the years, all for varied reasons and amounts of time.

And we have first time guests come and check us out quite regularly. Some stick, some don’t.

The real unique quality about this group is the commitment to be very honest. To dig deep and go beneath the “surfacy” stuff that we present to the rest of the world. To co-create some space where vulnerable confession is regular and loving confrontation is acceptable.

It is all centered around the idea that Christ claims to have the best possible life available to man. So ultimately, we are checking out his life, teachings, mission, and priorities and looking to apply them to our own lives and see if it is true.

Everyone leads in the basement. It is self-leadership. We don’t send out reminder emails and you may or may not get a call if you miss. The basement is always there, 8:30pm every Tuesday, for those who are searching deeply, looking to connect with a few other guys who are too, and have agreed to go through the search together.

Different guys take the hot seat each week and have “the floor”. When you have the floor, there are two rules.

  1. Bring it. -We are not here to talk about the weather or sports or superficial religious subjects…what you bring needs to be raw and real, courageous and probing. As long as it is that, you get to have us do whatever you want.)
  2. No monologuing. – You need to bring it in a way that invites everyone to participate. The sky is the limit when you have the floor…share a relevant topic, ask a probing question, bring up a theological discussion, share a confession, ask for advice, invite group prayer…anything…except monologue. Everyone there is there to participate in what is being created (if not, they can just go sit in another pew at a church).

The only exception to rule #2 is your first time to take the hot seat. This is when you “tell your story.” Yes, the whole, gory, God-honest thing. We always challenge the person about to tell us their story to go all the way with it. To “make us your friends”.

Everyone you’ll meet there has done it. It gives us context for each other’s lives and everyone who does it finds it quite liberating and friendship building.


So, my blog-reading friends. What do you think?

Living in the Moment

23 March 2011

Kids with Hawes 002

Teach me to number my days
And count every moment before it slips away
Taking all the colors before they fade to gray
I don’t want to miss even just a second more of this
It happens in a blink
It happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
The only thing that matters is how we have loved
I don’t want to miss even just a second more of this
— lyrics from the song “Blink” by Revive

I drop my kids off at school every day. It’s a spiritual experience for me, and I’m not joking.

There is something about that 2 minute ride from my garage to the curb of the school that lifts me up out of myself. Seriously, I seem to transcend up and out of my hurriedness or my laziness, depending on which one is assaulting me that morning.

Sometimes they are bickering, sometimes just staring out the window, sometimes they are silly. Sometimes they want to turn on some music, sometimes they tell a joke, and sometimes they tell how much they love me. Sometimes they are stressed about their day, sometimes they are laughing at the day, sometimes they are planning their day after school, and sometimes they are just wondering what day it is.

But whatever attitude, action, or atmosphere they jump into my car with, it doesn’t seem to matter. I ascend to some special place of deep awareness, immense gratitude, and fearful awe.

The deep awareness is of the seconds passing by.

The immense gratitude is for these 3 growing human beings that are occupying those seconds with me.

The fearful awe is from how much I value and enjoy each of these seconds with them and I can’t keep a one.

When my kids mobilize themselves, barely waiting for me to stop the car before their feet hit the ground running, I sit in my car and watch. I watch them run (usually) all the way to the door of the school.

At this point, you probably think it’s because I’m trying to be a good parent. They are my responsibility, after all. They are officially in my care until they disappear into the stewardship of that school.

But that’s not what motivates me. They would be just fine walking the 40 yards without me there. As a matter of fact, I’m more often sitting there feeling some pressure to get going. There are other cars behind me, things to do, places to go, and people to see.

But I don’t. I watch them all…the…way…in. Why, you might ask? What keeps me sitting there?

This thought: “Which second of their life do I want to miss witnessing?”

Not a one.

Kids with Hawes 019Kids with Hawes 023Kids with Hawes 021  

And it isn’t about my kids, really, as important as they are to me. They are just being used by God as powerful props to stir me up, grow me up, and wake me up.

There is something in everyone that really wants to matter. It’s a craving and driving force in every human being I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know. As if we just know we are supposed to.

And when I live fully present with another human being, committing myself to letting them know that they do indeed matter, the need in me is mysteriously satisfied as well. And then a miracle often happens.

We both connect with God. Right there. Right then. Sometimes it’s acknowledged, sometimes not. But believed in or not, noticed or not, there He is.

Which may explain why Christ gives the commission to love the force of a command: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

What second of my life do I not want to be a part of that?

The Man in the Yellow Raincoat

7 January 2011

Note: This is a piece written by my old college roommate Robert San Juan. May everyone have compassion.

So I was on the train going to work this morning and I was sitting behind this gentleman in a yellow raincoat. I wouldn’t say he was one of the many homeless that jump on the train to keep warm, but I will say he looked down on his luck.

He looked to be over 60, with glasses, a moustache and a dirty baseball cap. He was filling out a work application for some random burger joint that I had never heard of. In the space that was labeled “Where did you hear about us?” he wrote “craigslist” and dotted the “I” with a hollow circle.

Out of his worn bag he then pulled out 3 worn pieces of notebook paper. Those three pieces of paper were entirely covered in the same tiny handwritten scrawl, the i’s all dotted with circles. There was not an empty space left anywhere on the pages. There was writing cross-ways, up the sides, running horizontally and vertically. It looked like a prop from the movie “A Beautiful Mind”… and my first reaction to those pages was “oh no… I bet he’s crazy”. There were barely any spaces between the words making the handwriting almost illegible. ALMOST illegible.

As we rode the train together, he pulled the pages closer to his face so he could read them better, and in effect pulling it closer to me (And yes I did ashamedly invade his privacy by reading over his shoulder). As I studied the pages along with him I realized that every single “entry” on the page was information about jobs… managerial contacts… phone numbers… addresses… websites… URLs… he was really… REALLY looking for a job… somewhere, he had been lucky enough to gain access to a computer and had hand written all of this information on these three pieces of paper in his search for a job…

I found myself feeling severely ashamed that I had so quickly judged him… I felt angry that this man, that so badly wanted a job and wanted to work, did not have one… and I felt sad that I did not have a job to offer him… I wanted to ask him what sort of job he was looking for, thinking I might be able to help him… but was conflicted in that I would have to admit that I had been snooping over his shoulder, or that I might offend his pride in doing so. Before I could make up my lazy, self centered mind, he was up and off the train before I realized it.

So all I have for him now, this man in the yellow raincoat, is prayer. I’m praying for him. Praying that he was getting off the train for a job interview and will be employed very soon… I also have my ability to request prayers for him on his behalf, from those that are believers in prayer… so please pray for him, and all those like him that are searching so hard to provide for themselves and those that they love.

To the man in the yellow raincoat… thank you. Thank you for putting a little more perspective to my day. And I hope you are blessed with more than what you were ever looking for.


31 December 2010

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” – Luke 9:51

I have given in to the annual introspective gravity of New Years, and true to form, have looked for guidance from Jesus (it seems more and more that I can do nothing of significance without some sort of connection to him to justify it).

It seems a bit odd to me that this resolve made by Jesus was necessary at all. My view of him is that he had “resolutely set out” for his mission of love in Jerusalem long before this moment.

His resolve showed up countless times…

  • …like when he didn’t give into Satan’s 3 temptations in the desert.
  • …like when he walked away from the people who wanted to make him their earthly king.
  • …like how he persevered with his slow-to-believe-or-understand disciples.
  • …like when he came from heaven to earth in the first place.

He seems like a pretty resolute guy, you know? But here he is…resolving once again to stay on mission. Resolving, perhaps, to take his next appropriate step towards that mission at the appropriate time.

What do I need to resolve to stay on mission?” it makes me ask. “What is my next appropriate step towards my  mission at this time?”

It’s a good question for all of us.

I like to think of myself as a pretty resolved kind of guy. I know my mission and I try to protect it and live it out with zeal and gusto.

Knowing your mission is of paramount importance. It provides you with the luxury of what you need to say “no” to in your life. But there are still plenty of decisions within that mission that must be discerned, decided upon, and then resolutely set out for.

I love Jesus for being a model of this for me.

Do you know your mission? Do you know your next step appropriate step towards it?


The Best Last Minute Gift Idea

22 December 2010

I while back, I went to Zimbabwe. I left many tears on the ground of that nation.

Because of what I saw and reported back to my family, every night, my two sons and daughters, who go to bed having had 3 square meals a day, pray for the kids I met there. Food is ServedSpecifically, they pray that they would each get at least one survival meal each day.

You can help those prayers be answered and give a very meaningful gift to that special someone who has everything. You can feed these hungry kids AS your gift to your loved one.

Just go here and decide what level of gift you would like to give. You can…

  • Feed one child one survival meal a day for 1 month – $10
  • Feed one child one survival meal a day for 3 months – $30
  • Feed one child for a whole year – $120
  • Fund an entire feeding center for a year (approx. 200 children) – $2000

Or you can help a family feed themselves by…

  • Providing a pair of rabbits for a family – $10
  • Help a family start a rabbit business (1 dozen rabbits) – $60

Waiting to EatI’ve been there. I took these pictures myself. I’ve seen hundreds of widows and thousands of orphans who are suffering in this nation. I know this pipeline through Operation Starfish Africa not as an “operation”, but as friends of mine, natives of Zimbabwe who take the call to get food to their nation’s children personally. They have had to buy food on the black market and get this survival help to people covertly in some cases.

100% of your money goes towards food. No admin costs for the people organizing it are necessary or even wanted.

Follow the instructions at this link and help secure these meals for these hungry kids.

Follow the directions and you can pay through debit or credit card. You could write your own, but you can also put in your email address and receive a special Christmas note to print out, put it in an envelope, and either mail it or put it on the Christmas Tree for your loved one letting them know of the gift Thank Youof life you gave on their behalf.

In Zimbabwe, when someone is grateful and wants to say thank you, they put their hands together as if they were praying and look at you in the eye.

When they are unbelievably humbled and full of intense gratitude and want to express the depth at which they feel it but feel helpless to do so, and words can not express it adequately, they still put their hands together and look you in the eyes, but then they drop to their knees.

So here is the little girl that received a McDonalds toy that my daughter sent me over there with to give away. She was one of the few children I met that was not orphaned and lived with a mom and a dad.

So look her back in the eyes, and allow her to express the deep gratitude that will be felt by her less fortunate peers that live all around her.

I give you mine as well.

« Previous Page