Reckless Pursuit: Part 4 – How The Father Wins

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Reckless Pursuit: God’s Story of Relentless Love is in its final stages of production and will be made available early this Fall. As we move toward announcing its arrival, I will be posting regular teasers straight from the content of the book. Today’s snapshot look at Reckless Pursuit comes from Part 4: How The Father Wins.

For the past few years, I had been a part of a small group of men who we affectionately referred to as “The Pirate Monks.” We were an unusual gathering of men from all kinds of backgrounds but with one thing in common — we were radical Jesus followers.

All of these men knew, very personally, what it meant to be broken. Each one of us had struggled with life and had experienced the nasty sting of defeat. Broken relationships, addiction, denial, failure, self-medication and guilt were part of all our lives on varying levels. But we refused to be defined by these things. As real as these struggles had been in our lives, our freedom was more present, more tangible.

And so we would gather to rehearse and celebrate the freedom we had found. We would tell our stories both past and current and we would remind each other of Yahweh’s story. Of his love. Of his pursuit. Of his dedication to us, his children. We would look each other in the eye, ask the hard questions and demand for life to be lived the Father’s way. The way that results in blessing and freedom.

There is tremendous blessing available, even when it’s unimaginable. There is freedom offered, even when it is not seen. His love is indescribable and his pursuit is incredible.

Keep coming back for more from Reckless Pursuit.

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Monday Morning Smile

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Monday morning. It’s the start of our work week. The dreaded day when life has to return to normal after the weekend. It’s the move back to reality after our weekly mini-vacation. For many, it is truly the repetitive journey from freedom to slavery. It’s when we leave the life we love, the life that we script – full of the activities we enjoy and the people that we want to be around – and move into a world that we would rather not be in. A world that is scripted for us, full of expectations and obligations. And so Monday marches on, another beginning to a life that is half-lived.

I know what Mondays are and I admit, sometimes it’s hard to crawl out of bed. However, I don’t dread them. In fact, I revel in Mondays.

Mondays are when my family, a messy bunch of Jesus followers, begins to live in their identity. It’s when they go into the world to infect it with the heart of our God. It’s when they become Jesus more than ever. It’s when the celebration we had the day before gets applied. It’s when people who have been given an incredible gift offer it to others freely and recklessly.

When Monday morning comes, I often go to the office to grab a notebook and my computer and then head back out the door to one of my favorite coffee shops. It’s my day to study, reflect, pray and it’s my day to be in the community. Sometimes, before I leave, I’ll poke my head into the sanctuary and see a quiet, empty room that was buzzing with people less than 24 hours earlier…and I smile. I know that it’s already beginning. Our small band of Kingdom Warriors are already taking their places. They have been reminded of who they are and who they serve and they are ready. They scatter throughout the city with a greater purpose than to make it through their week just to get to another weekend. No, they long for the week of opportunity in front of them. Opportunity to leave Jesus’ thumbprint in their world. Opportunity to prioritize people. Opportunity to offer what people are dying for and what so many don’t even know they need. Hope. Freedom. Transformation. Forgiveness. And Love.

So, today we are sent out once again. And I’ve got that Monday morning smile!

I Hate That Guy!

I have known what it is to live for myself, to choose me over those I love and to pursue every desire of my heart. I hate that part of me. I can’t stand it when that voice emerges in my head and encourages me to grab at what I want or to defend my rights. Truly, I hate that guy. I know him so well but also feel like he is an alien and a stranger in my own body. He does not belong there. And he is not welcome.

I used to invite that guy in. Knowing that he would ultimately do me harm but thinking I would enjoy his gifts. However, I have come to the place that his gifts are torture. Even the thought of them causes a physical reaction in my body. My back gets tense, my legs feel heavy and tight and I can feel my freedom beginning to slip away. I can actually feel death creeping into my heart.

As a result, my eyes dim. I walk with my shoulders a little lower. The cadence of my speech is altered. Little moments that would normally make me smile and fill my heart with joy are now lost on me or even irritate me. In my submission to the voice of that old guy, I am defeated and broken. In my pursuit of selfishness, I am actually destroying everything that I love. Yeah, I hate that guy!

But this is not the way of my Jesus. He has taught me a different way to live. One that is free. A life that is defined by comfort, intimacy and joy. A life of overwhelming love.

This is the life that dominates my heart and my thoughts. When I am living in it, I hear the voice of Jesus reminding me, encouraging me and celebrating with me constantly. I find myself smiling at young children and laughing freely with friends. I see people’s eyes and respond to what seems to be an unmistakable need, whether it be a hug or a probing question or a high five.

What’s amazing is this is a life that is not about me. I am constantly led to consider the person in front of me. To offer care and concern and challenge and love. This new life seems to be an upside down way of living. The more I think about other people, the more my heart comes alive. The more I serve my wife and my kids and my friends and the guy at the grocery store, the more my heart leaps.

It has even led me to a new way of dealing with conflict and struggle. I am reminded that the person I am dealing with has a heart that matters and I cannot be the reason for the lack of freedom in their life. That if humility and submission can serve them – then I can offer it. And I am challenged to not allow that old guy to rise up and attack both of us. Freedom is too precious for that!

The attitude of Jesus…no, I don’t always live there. But I love the days that I do!

Loving Life

It’s amazing watching children live life together. They encounter each day with so much passion and freedom. Every moment is completely consumed.

When they bump their heads, it’s the end of the world. They don’t understand why that table attacked them and they need to be rescued. But, wow! How quickly they recover. And back, marching headlong into the fray they go.

When they are given a new toy, it’s as if they just won the Superbowl! They dive into their play with overwhelming joy. And anyone who threatens to deter this playtime needs to be cautioned: “Enter At Your Own Risk.” You will become a fierce enemy if you take away this new treasure.

But this is what I enjoy the most about children. No, not the fighting, arguing and constant need for parenting but their ability to recover from all of this. Their ability to love.

They can be found squaring off, ready to destroy each other, one moment and then hugging and running around holding hands the next. They often, very literally, kiss and make up. Forgiveness is a daily and sometimes hourly part of their relationships. It is the way they love each other.

What a tremendous example for those of us who call ourselves “Jesus Followers.” To live this freely. To love this purely. To forgive without any thought of past or future offenses. Could there possibly be any better way of life?