November 13, 2008

"The Book"--Jesus is for Losers

I don’t know why I wrote this book. One day, I’m talking to Nash, watching him play World of Warcraft, eating beef jerky and the next day we’re outlining a book about losing our lives to follow Jesus.

My entire life has been one competition after another. I wanted to be the best athlete, and played multiple sports--baseball, soccer, golf, basketball, ping-pong, four-square, kickball, ultimate frisbee, and demolition ball. I wanted to get the best grades--so I learned how to succeed at the school game. I wanted to have the most friends. I wanted to be famous for being a winner, to have others look up to me. My senior year in high school, along with three classmates, I was actually elected to the “Kickapoo Hall of Fame.”

Then Jesus…

He started really messing with me as a freshman in college. A restless gnawing in the gut. An insatiable thirst to know, to understand, to see more. Finally, in the second semester of college, I “went forward” at the commitment time of the worship service and told my pastor that I felt I was being called to ministry, but really didn’t know what that meant. As was custom at the time, I was escorted down the aisle and shook hands with everyone as they left the service. One elderly lady commented to me, “I’ve been praying this for you for so long, I’m so glad to see you’re listening!”

A couple of years later, Jesus sent me and my wife to Texas, when the rest of our family lived in Missouri. We struggled with 100 degree weather and 10 hour trips to see family and meeting new friends and finding a place there. We survived Texas and seminary. My last semester in seminary, I told Jamie (my wonderful wife), “If I could serve a church in the Kansas City area as a youth minister and worship leader, I’d stay for life.” And we’ve been at Cornerstone ever since.

Then Jesus got serious. He opened my eyes to the terrible injustices in the world. He broke my heart as I live in comfort and children die daily of hunger. And he whispered,

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

In the past, if anyone challenged me, I’d do everything I could to overcome that challenge and win. Now, I’m being challenged to lose my life. What was once a horrible word in my vocabulary has turned beautiful—to become a loser.

The desire to win, to succeed, to avoid looking foolish has a grip on me and many years of positive reinforcement from every social situation has tightened the squeeze. So, I struggle. And in this struggle, I’m just beginning to learn that a life lost in Jesus is, well, hard…frustrating… exasperating…costs me everything.

So, I’m looking for friends who are willing to lose with me, and we can cross the finish line together.


Sally Rymer said...

Count me in.

Jennifer H said...

I have experience in crossing the finish line last -- and learned it may be more fun than being first... so count me in =0)

edb said...

Jen--Congratulations on finishing, that is so cool! Do you still have all your toenails?

Jennifer H said...

At this point, yes!
So is your book actually written? I somehow thought you were just beginning the writing phase.

edb said...

Hey Jen...I sent you an email to Dove...hope you get it

Jennifer H said...

I did, indeed! Thanks =0)