One of my favorite things about following Jesus is this:  There. Is. Always. More.

Let those words sink in for a moment.  No matter where you are in your journey right now, these words are true.

But it’s so easy to settle. Perhaps because we’re satisfied far too easily.  We find ourselves glazed over staring at a screen in our hand. Measuring our worth in “likes.” Just doing the minimum. Checking off the boxes.

This lyric in Derek Webb’s song, Wedding Dress, captures it bluntly:

“I am so easily satisfied
by the call of lovers so less wild
That I would take a little cash
Over your very flesh and blood”

We seem to so easily trade the real for the artificial.  This is the work of a thief determined to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10) fullness of life that has been offered by the author of life to each of us.

It seems that more times than not it’s subtle. Vibrant faith gradually becoming jaded. Joy creeping toward cynicism. Passion devolving into boredom. “This is as good as it gets,” the enemy whispers.  Slowly stealing life, killing hope, and eroding confidence in the Father’s life-giving grace.

The thief enters by “some other way” (John 10:1).  His desire is to infiltrate.  His hope is for the sheep to slowly begin to trust his voice. His determination is to lead the sheep astray – away from the shepherd who knows them best and knows what’s best for them.

In response to the thief’s mission, Jesus announces his own. “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).  Not just any life and not just easy life. Fullness of life. Beautifully messy life that allows us to awaken each day with what author Mark Batterson calls “holy anticipation.”

This is why Jesus describes himself with two metaphors in John 10. He is “gate” and “shepherd.”   Life through him. Life with him.

This is a gate that, when entered, awakens dreams that have slumbered.  A shepherd who rekindles hopes that have smoldered. A Jesus who speaks life into the dead places of our lives. He is risen. And he is raising you. All of you. To life. To full life.  Now. Forever.

He is a lover of you. Refuse to settle for any “lover less wild.”  Wake up. Rise up. Experience life the way He designed. Full. Free. And embracing that…there is always more.

The Refugee

The Refugee

Many stories about refugees have been emerging over the past few days. You may have heard this one but it’s worth sharing again.

An evil leader in a small middle eastern town caused local terror by doing the unthinkable – killing infants. One of the families there was able to miraculously escape by crossing the border with their infant. They fled to a nearby country that they hoped beyond hope would take them in as refugees. The irony was that this country had once enslaved their ancestors, creating a tension that made everyone extremely uncomfortable. Thankfully, because this receiving country apparently had reasonable policies in place despite this historic tension, they took them in. And the family found life-saving refuge.

Some have debated the claim. But let’s be clear.

Jesus was a refugee.

And the implications mean something for today.

Make no mistake. Mary and Joseph fled from terror with an infant Jesus. Egypt had every reason to refuse them because of extreme past tension. They did not. Perhaps they actually had reasonable policies in place.

Either way, could they have ever known that as they allowed them entry, they were opening their doors to the Savior of the world?  Oh the irony. This same nation whose leader had once killed Hebrew babies now took in a Hebrew baby whose own leader was killing…Hebrew babies.

“But that was another time, different circumstances, and THAT infant was the actual Messiah,” we might all too quickly object. And then we remember.  We remember that refugee infant who was given refuge and grew into an adult rabbi who described the implications of caring for and not caring for the “least of these.”

Jesus: “Whatever you did/didn’t do for the least of these, you did/didn’t do for me.”

The religious: “But we didn’t realize that was YOU.”

Jesus: “It was.”

Yes, there are “least of these” everywhere. Right here in our own cities.  All around the world.

And then, there are some who are desperately fleeing terror looking for refuge. Helpless. Hopeless. Innocent.

Sure they could go looking for refuge somewhere else. We could debate whether or not they should or even could. But for very legitimate reasons many seek refuge in the United States of America, a country built upon open hearts and open arms. A country built upon equality and justice for all. A nation with the responsibility of recognizing itself as blessed, not for itself alone, but for the purpose of being a compassionate presence back to the world.

There are parallels.

God gave Israel some pretty specific warnings about never forgetting that they were not to be exclusive but always “a light to the Gentiles.” He reminded them constantly that they themselves were once slaves in Egypt (sound familiar?) who “cried out” for refuge. He reminded them to never forget the outsiders, the marginalized, and oppressed. Never. Ever. Forget. Because if they did, God made it plain they were living outside the purpose for which they were created.

But they forgot.

And when they did, God became flesh. To model an inclusive, embracing, even suffering love for the sake of the outsider, oppressed, poor, and marginalized. To answer that ancient, tragic question of Cain whose brother’s blood “cried out” for justice.  Am I my brother’s keeper?  An answer God would model in the flesh through Jesus with an emphatic, “YES! Always. Always. Always.”  And just when humanity narrowed “brother” or “neighbor” to blood relative or person next door or race or nation, Jesus shattered that border too.   THAT kind of boundary-shaking love got him put on a cross.

May we never forget.

As individuals. As the church. As a nation. May we not screen out Jesus, who didn’t just live in the flesh 2000 years ago, but in many faces, colors, and nationalities, stands at the borders yet again as an innocent refugee.

May we open our hearts, our eyes, our arms, and our homes. May we not live in fear. But in hope. Yes, secure the borders rationally, be responsible, and oppose terror and injustice diligently. But not at the expense of the helpless. Not even for a day.

Lasso The Moon

Lasso The Moon

I wrote and delivered the following as a 9 minute talk at Q Commons in Nashville hosted at Lipscomb University, February 26, 2015.

I once convinced my children that I lassoed the moon. Oh, the beautiful power of imagination. It was the perfect night to pull off such a caper. Windy, partly cloudy, and the illusion of a full moon racing across the sky. Inspired by my favorite movie character, George Bailey, I stooped down, picked up an invisible “magic” lasso and said, “Hey kids, watch this!” as I flung it skyward, capturing not only the moon, but the imaginations of two wide-eyed children who dared to imagine with me. And though it defied all logic, they dared to believe.Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 9.19.42 AM

A few short years ago I dared to imagine how love could be embodied as business. Not just business on a mission or for a mission or even with a mission. But business as mission. Business as a vehicle for the advancing kingdom of God. Business that invited the consumer to be consumed in a bigger story.

But I had no business starting a business. I didn’t have the training, the education, or the experience in business. My limited business experience came from selling golf balls as a kid growing up near a golf course. (That story is here.)

Even so, I dared to imagine. And that imagination turned into creation as I co-founded The Well Coffeehouse as a way to participate in the kingdom of God. The Well was designed as an intersection of business, faith, culture, and community.

Imagination often seems to arise out of pain in two ways:

1) that which has broken our heart in the past
2) that which breaks our heart in the present

Behind almost anything beautiful, there is pain. And that is what makes that thing so beautiful. Because redemption is indeed the most beautiful of things.

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. The sculptor’s hand can only break the spell to free the figures slumbering in the stone.” – Michelangelo

David had always been in there. Michelangelo just had to let him out. And it would take a chisel.

Earlier in my journey I experienced the painful “chisel” of exclusion from community. It hurt. Deeply. And it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I dared to imagine a community created through a “third space” business that would relentlessly love, embrace, include, and invite all who are thirsty for acceptance and connection. And I had felt the pain of the present fallen world crying out in thirst. Those 6,000 voices every day crying out for water only to fall on deaf ears as they go to their graves desperate with thirst.

Where do we start? As you look to participate in the advancing kingdom of God and seek to find your place, your pain is a good place to start.

That pain helps us to come alive. And once we come alive, to imagine and to create. There’s no formula for that. But our pain reveals within us a passion that drives us. That passion leads us to discover our design. And that design reveals our destiny.

But this is not simply a duty accomplished out of a sense of guilt or obligation. This is life that we have been given. It’s who we are and what we do and it is deeply embedded in each of us. As theologian, author, and civil rights leader Howard Thurman said so well:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

These powerful words echo the psalmist who said, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). When God is our greatest delight, we naturally see the desires he has embedded deeply in our hearts. Those desires compel us to love.

What is it that we delight in that can truly make a difference in the world? People. Meeting them where they are. Embracing them. Serving them. All to love them toward the kingdom of God.

There is power in a community that always has a place at the table for others. A community that participates with Jesus not only in sitting at the table but doing something even more radical . . . going out to where they are like a shepherd goes to a lost sheep . . . putting them on our shoulders . . . bringing them to our table . . . and celebrating over them in community.

In doing this we become co-creators with God. Co-creating a redemptive community without walls and borders.

In community there is always the option of building walls and trying to fence people in. But there’s a much better way. Illuminate before them a source of life that will fulfill them and satisfy what they thirst for, and they will come back again and again. No walls. No borders.

The Well has been our way of illuminating that source of life and inviting others to drink deeply. It is business as mission. We make money. We give it away to the most thirsty people in the world. We create community over coffee and we love the thirsty people.

We try to do that with excellence, working with all of our hearts and giving our best. We do it with creativity and hard work.

As a business we’re not afraid of often forgotten Jesus-words like shrewdness as we seek to leverage the caffeine addictions of Americans into hope for the impoverished by filling their cups. We’re not afraid to live out parables in which Jesus spoke of money and “putting money to work” as a way of investing in an unfolding kingdom at hand.

And that is our task at hand. We want to engage with all of our hearts. We don’t wait for someone else to do it. We open our eyes to the passion he has placed deeply within us. We respond to the pain around us in the world. We co-create with God in a broken world as we too become a work in progress.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 9.18.20 AMSo may you lasso the moon. May your pain, your desire, and your giftedness be a gift to the world as you reflect a redemptive Story and co-create a redemptive future.