The One Big Question Today is Really Asking You [And Your Answer Changes Your Life] [#JesusProject]

So the plumber guy says he won’t have time to get the mudroom sink in today.

The pipes, yeah, he can do that — but not the sink.

Says he’s got church, got to be there at 10:30 or thereabouts.

The Farmer hangs up the phone. “Plumber says he’ll have to do the sink later in the week? Guess there’s something happening on a Wednesday morning at the plumber’s church?”

Atlantic Steeple

Yeah. That would be ashes. The plumber’s going for his ashes.

And I’m just going slow…or maybe a tad crazy. Because after your computer crashes and burns and you loose twenty hours of words you’d been drip-bleeding toward a deadline, the whole document just dust blown away and gone — you stand a little dazed.

Dazed over a mess of dishes on the counter, rubbing the back of your neck because it keeps peeling away.

Keeps peeling away from that sunburn last week from when you were at the Guatemala City Dump watching little kids dig through heaps of steaming garbage looking for something not entirely rotten for their hunger-begging tummies.

Yeah, call the plumber or call it suburbia or call it the dump or the middle class, but we’re all just aching on these glorified heaps of dust and ashes, flaking and peeling away.

And come about 10:30, it’ll come like a howl, like a hope, across the heart of a land, from a thousand steepled places and you could be touched by a gentle mortality: You are dust and to dust you shall return.

The startling clarity of that could clear the smoke and soot enough to see life for what it is. They go about saying that: It is what it is. But don’t go buying that. We’re dust but we are more. There is always more happening than you can see. There’s always a rising happening from ashes.

There’s just not water in the mudroom today.


Some like it...


There is though  this verse taped cock-eyed to the chalkboard:

“Jesus said to her,
Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,
but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.
The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John4

Yeah, doesn’t a hick know it:

Drink the koolaid of to-do lists and work and getting it done and and you’ll be dire thirsty again. Ridiculous how a whole string of days can feel sucked down the drain and leave you parching. Ask me how I know.

“Hey, have you seen that old Clark Gable, Joan Crawford movie?” The Farmer’s shuffling papers at his desk and I should be filling the sink with water for all these pots and pans.

I turn the tap on, test the water, tell him:

“So, there’s this part where a whole bunch of people are essentially dying of thirst in a boat, and there’s this cask of water that they find bobbing beside the boat so they fish out. Because if there’s water in that cask, they just might live.” I’m dropping pots into the sink.

“But somebody has got to least take a sip from the cask, just to find out whether it’s salt water or fresh water.

And if it’s salt water — that person is going to die of thirst faster.”


Just look at any globe and I don’t have to tell him, because we all know it, we can all taste it:

This world’s mostly salt water. We’re dust and this world is mostly salt water.

We’re thirsty and we’re drinking down salt water dreams, salt water days, salt water likes, salt water distractions, and we’re all still thirsty here —- we’re all still dying here.

It’s feels loud over the tap water: Drink down the salt water this world’s selling and you’re going to die of thirst faster. Go to any other source but Jesus for your drink, and your thirst just gets worse.

The calendar says its a bit more than 40 days to Resurrection Sunday and I’m tired of dying here. I’m dead tired of thirsting for things that still leave me thirsty. I’m ready to be done with the saltwater that keeps leaving me parched.

The next 40 days is not about trying to give up anything to earn anything, it’s not about me, and it’s not about what’s been given up. It’s about where you’re drinking; it’s about what you’re drinking. “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again —- but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.”

Who doesn’t want to give up the water that’s just making them thirsty anyways?

Because, yeah, nobody needs anymore saltwater of empty religion, of self-help, of some pop psychology veneered with a bit of Bible.

What we’re all parched for is pure, clear Gospel to wet some cracked-dry lips, grace-water that saves us, that reconciles the busted up, that redeems the banished and broken, that revives the weary and burdened.


The point is:

Jesus didn’t ask you to give up whatever koolaid you’ve been drinking down.
He asked you to give up your life to Him.

The next 40 some days isn’t about what you’re giving up —- it’s about Who you’re giving in to. That’s the real invitation of the next 40 some days: Give up a bit of your stuff so that you can give Him more of yourself.

It’s been ringing in my head the last two weeks:

The stuff the world’s mostly shilling is appetite suppressants.

Buy more, consume more, have more —- and it’ll suppress any appetite for God.

When your comfort food is comfortable stuff — when do you hunger for the comfort of the bread of Life?

Ruin your appetite with stuff and you have no appetite for Christ.Why in the world do I feel so parched on a Wednesday morning with the plumber coming to put in pipes?

Maybe the one big  question to be asking myself on Ash Wednesday is: Give up something or don’t — the point is: How am I giving more of myself to Jesus? 

The chalkboard’s got this scrawl across it still from last week, right under that taped-up verse:

“Whoever is generous to the poor 
lends to the Lord,
and He will repay him in full.”
Proverbs 19:17

Whoever is generous to the poor —  lends to the Lord.  Lends to the LordAnd all I can hear Someone asking me is: You got something better to do with your money?

Yeah — Give us a North American Lent that lends to the Lord.

That instead of saying: It’s not my child, not my community, not my problem, a Lent that says: It’s not happening on my watch.

Give us a Lent that goes with less stuff so others can simply live …  so we can feel wildly alive.
Give us a Lent that fasts from the flyers and the free shipping that ruins our appetite for anything less than God.

Give us a a North American Lent that lends to the Lord and fasts from consumption because we want to consume God.

That’s the North American Lent I need: Give up so I can give more so I’m giving more of myself to Jesus. 

Give up for others and you get the joy of more God. “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay Him in full.” That’s what I’m giving up, so I am giving more: A Lent that lends to the Lord.

And the thing is — What God’s graciously given us is always enough to be abundant grace for someone else.

Steeple against sky


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I’d heard that too, last week after I came home from the dump, from those kids digging for rotting food.

How Lupita Nyong’o, that actress who’d just won an Oscar, how she said it long and beautiful and it was like someone poured the coldest water slowly over me and I woke straight up.

How Lupita said, “My mother told me that you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you.”

All week, I let those words keep running all week over me, like this tap left on:

You can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you.
You can’t eat money, it doesn’t feed you.
You can’t eat that dream, it doesn’t feed you.
You can’t eat that comfortable life, it doesn’t feed you.
You can’t eat that stuff, drink that drink, swallow down that koolaid —- it won’t ever feed you.

You can’t rely on the stuff and the dreams and the beauty to sustain you — none of that will ever sustain you.

But you can eat of the Bread of Life and you can drink of the Living waters — and He will never fail ever to feed you.

Jesus is not merely useful to me, He is ultimately beautiful to me — His is the only Beauty Who can sustain me.


Jesus who just keeps saying it long and lovely, full of love: “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.”

Give even a cold glass of water in His name and you give to Him and I want to give up and give to Him, I want to give myself more fully to Him. And it begins with the giving, it begins with 40 days of less, so there is more to give, which gets the joy of more Him. #40LessMeMoreHim

The plumber gets pipes to the mudroom on a Wednesday of Ashes but there’s no water for the dirt-lined hands.

There is repentance and peace and you are dust and to dust you shall return and Jesus will do anything to gather you close forever.

I wash the pots in the sink and you can hear how someone’s left a tap still running somewhere.

How Someone’s always got water running that washes away all the thirst.

You can drink His Beauty. The way Jesus pours into wounds and you drink quenched relief.





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A North American Lent: When You have An Appetite for More of God
Care to join me in the next 40 days? #40LessMeMoreHim #StayTuned


Bible Study for the Rest of Us: Every Wednesday in 2014, Lord willing, we’ll unpack that wk’s #TheJesusProject memory verse from the book of John:  Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us

Next Wednesday, we are memorizing and unpacking the 10th verse of #TheJesusProject: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

1. Print Out all #TheJesusProject Memory Prints from the book of John here: Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us: #TheJesus Project
2. Week 1 of #TheJesusProject’s Study: The #1 Organizing Tip Nobody Tells You
3. Week 2 : How to Get Through the Dark Places: #PullACliffYoung
4. Week 3  How to Live When Life Just Hurts
5. Week 4: How to Get Through Snowmaggedon & Everything Else that’s Burying You
6. Week 5: The 5 Words Guaranteed to Change Your Life #DWHTY