by Jen Hatmaker on December 21st, 2013

I know. No one needs to spill any more ink over the Duck Dynasty Debacle. I’m barely online these days, and even I was saturated with the crazy. A quick scroll through Facebook revealed about an 85% DD preoccupation in my feed, whether it was for, against, or that uber cool other response: “I don’t even care.” (But I will go ahead and make that my status...sic.)
 
Maybe just bear with me for five more minutes, mkay?

As many have mentioned, this is clearly not a First Amendment issue. Phil had every right to say whatever he wanted. He could take issue with any people group or demographic on earth, right into a microphone. This isn’t North Korea where the wrong public statement lands you in prison. Or dead. Freedom of speech means you are free to speak. The end.
 
It does not mean you are free from consequences. Isn’t this obvious?
 
This swings both ways, folks. I’ve been unhired from an event for things I’ve said publicly, because they made a Christian organization uncomfortable. Those things were well within my rights to say, and that group had every right to can me for them. That’s how things work. If you are getting paid to represent a church or network or brand, then the First Amendment does not protect your contract, only your freedom to speak your mind.
 
In light of this Duck stuff, here is my little hope for our Christian tribe: May we be peacemakers, because Jesus cast blessings on that role. To me, that means making peace within the church and making peace with those outside of it. I think folks will know us by the love we show others, because the Bible is OBSESSED with that concept apparently. I hope we use our public words to build bridges, not reinforce caverns, because peacemaking is truly a blessed business, my favorite thing.  
 
Specifically with issues that have caused such heartache and damage already like gay marriage and racial inequity, we should refuse to contribute to someone’s pain by speaking about them abstractedly, distantly, as if they aren’t real human beings whose lives bear actual repercussions of our casual public conversations. The sterile public sphere outside of the protective confines of relationships is not a safe place for such weighty discussions, and we should not add to the pile of condescending, degrading comments about real human people. These precious, fragile conversations belong among people who love one another, who've earned the right to be heard, who can look each other in the eye and listen with grace and humility.
 
We are not judges, because how could we possibly be?? How dare we? What right do we have to cut someone to the quick when we are nothing but sinners saved by grace? Sanctification is Jesus’ territory, and we can safely leave Him to it; He can handle the human heart. Our only sane offering to our fellow man is mercy.
 
Why are we here? I teach often about the Last Supper in Luke 22, when Jesus broke the bread and poured the wine and commanded: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” A close study of the original language reveals a better translation: “Constantly make this real.” This sacrifice, this gospel, this love that saves the world…make this real for people.

Do you know how many people are starving for real love? Real hope? Real mercy? This world is dark and lonely and suffering, and Jesus seemed to think the best course was to send disciples out who were willing to constantly make the kingdom real for people who were searching for something true.
 
Jesus didn’t tell us to make the gospel right.
 
He didn’t tell us to make it law.
 
He told us to make it real.
 
For me, this is the most extreme obedience to “biblical truth” I can imagine. I think of my gay and black friends watching the outcry this week, and I can’t help but think the gospel yet again feels like a bludgeon to them, not a real balm, a real grace, a real sanctuary. And the tragedy is, Jesus is the most real source of mercy in the history of time, and He loves us all with a fierce, indescribable love, and none of us deserve it any less than anyone else, and THAT is the shocking headline we should be proclaiming.
 
I don’t think God needs any of us to defend Him…I believe we are here to represent Him. I’m not worried about the kingdom, since Scripture seems to think it is “unshakeable.” God has managed to stay on his throne all this time, so we can go ahead and just let him be God. (For the record, I don’t think Phil fancied himself some valiant defender either…I think he was just being Phil. And these were just a few sentences taken out of a greater context, but in a viral world where every word matters, well, every word matters.)
 
As for me, I care deeply for all the watching eyes, waiting for something real, something that heals instead of wounds. I dream of a faith community that demonstrates a love so scandalous and embarrassing that only the foolish and the rejected and the misfits and the cynics will find any solace in it. My heart’s cry is that someone far outside the sphere of Christian endorsement might whisper, “Even me?” and be stunned by Jesus’ answer: “Always you.”
 
Because if we are only good news to each other, where will that leave the gospel in our generation? I know exactly what moral issues to declare so Christians will take up my cause and Defend Jen, but I don’t want your spiritual energy…I want us to care about this suffering world more than we care about our Christian rights. Our rights were secured on the cross; the discussion is over. No one can steal from us what Jesus already won for us. Rather, let’s take all our victory, our hope and love and share it. That’s the hill I’m going to die on, friends.
 
I’m going to choose love.
 
This is not a gray area. I’m telling you now that I will find a way to preach the scandalous love of Jesus in the face of any issue, demographic, or debate. I will insist on jerking a door open for dialogue with people who’ve been previously maligned by my faith. I will not reinforce the notion that anyone is less than, condemned, or left out, because if that is true, then my salvation is a lie. Because I love mercy for myself, I can’t help but love it for everyone else, and I won’t cheapen it by imagining that my grace is free but someone else’s must be earned. Jesus is the best news in history.
 
Not one heartache on earth will be solved with more judgment; this world needs more love. It is what saved us and still sets us free. It is the magic balm that soothes tensions, crosses divides, and creates safe spaces. Love is the only answer. May we become beacons of it, Church.
 
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~Jesus


by Jen Hatmaker on December 12th, 2013

Remember that thing where we raised money to build an entire school in Haiti last December? It was Help One Now's Legacy Project 2012 that ultimately transformed a “tent school” into Williamson Adrien Academy, a school that is now educating almost 400 children! It was one of my favorite things I've ever been a part of, and this from a girl who is prone to hyperbole. (Missed the Legacy awesomeness? I wrote about it here.)
I do not even know how to handle this beautiful school. THANK YOU.


Well, they are at it again this year, and I want to tell you all about it, because you know Help One Now is one of my tip top faves, and I would never steer you wrong, dear readers. The 2013 Legacy Project - Backpacks of Hope - is upon us.   Watch this short VIDEO! You're going to love this...

This year’s campaign is simple: raise $100,000 to empower and resource six amazing leaders in Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Haiti. (WE HAVE A NEW INITIATIVE IN ETHIOPIA. SQUEEEE!!!) Each leader has different needs for their community, so when this Project is completed, we will have funded everything from a community preschool and kindergarten to a computer lab to a year’s salary for several teachers and more. The mission of Help has always included partnering with local leaders and pastors as point people on the ground, and in one fell swoop, they are all supported with Legacy 2013. I die.
These men are heroes, like I JUST CANNOT EVEN TELL YOU.

The goal is to sell 1,000 virtual “backpacks” for $100 each.  No, Help One Now has not branched out into luggage. Rather, they're investing in what the backpack represents: Education. Opportunity. HOPE. Every morning, children across the globe gather their school things, the tools they use to learn and grow, and stuff them into a backpack on their way to school (and if they live in my house, it also sounds like where is my backpack?! and did you put that thing in your backpack?? and who took my backpack?? and other things that delight me every morning as a mother). Those tools help give these students their education, which in turn provides opportunity and ultimately leads to HOPE for their future.

Backpacks of Hope will provide unique tools for each of the six leaders. For example, Pastor Gaétan hopes to open a computer lab and a library. Pastor Jean-Alix will open a preschool and kindergarten in Ferrier, allowing older children to attend school rather than caring for their younger siblings (just, ohmygosh), as well as allowing the younger children to start their education early. Pastor John in Zimbabwe will construct a playground and a study room and expand his kitchen to serve even more children in his region.    

Help One Now will once again utilize Pure Charity’s online giving platform for this project. Those of you who jumped in last year already have an account! (Need to get caught up to speed on the awesomeness that is Pure Charity? I wrote aaaaall about it last year.) So for this year, I've started a campaign HERE to fund 100 backpacks, and I need you to help meet this goal LIKE A BOSS. Surely, surely 100 of us can give $100, right??

And don't forget, Pure Charity offers a way to fund the project using the most common activity of the holiday season -- shopping! For instance, it is December 12th and I've bought exactly zero presents, so guess whose Pure Charity account is about to get a serious boost? The interwebs will send me the gifts and siphon $$ into my PC account, because this is the beautiful world we live in these days. Amen.

I mean this nicely: it is stupid not to sign up for Pure Charity if you ever buy anything online. (((hugs)))

Sign up and shop away! Purchases will automatically be added to your Pure Charity giving account, which you can then DONATE to this campaign -- or, you can even START YOUR OWN campaign and rally your friends and family to join the madness.

We need your help to make this project a success.  Spread the word. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, church, small group, and social media channels what we’re doing and how they can help. Pull your kids up around your laptop and show them the pastors and videos, and make this your family project this Christmas.

However you help, please know this:  your support will change the lives of students in Haiti, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia!  We'll all be investing in HOPE.   

I am going to watch that goal line creep up like the craziest stalker you've ever seen.

LET'S DO THIS.

by Jen Hatmaker on October 17th, 2013

When I was a sophomore in high school, I wrote a paper on “personal prejudices” for my teen leadership class. I chose to write about my unfair bias against kids who partied. (OH MY GOSH I WAS SUCH A SQUARE. Same girl who was voted “Most Inspirational” her senior year. I was a ton of fun in my teenage evangelical days.)
 
My teacher kept me after class and confessed something, as I was a varsity cheerleader. She admitted to stereotyping cheerleaders as long as she could remember; vacuous, slutty, mean girls, empty brains. We talked about my paper and my worldview in general, and she apologized for painting me with an unfair brush and promised to evaluate cheerleaders as individuals from then on. I promised to try and not be a judgmental weirdo and maybe only bring my Bible to class half the time. Bless my heart.
 
A few weeks ago, I spent two days with about 60 women from all over the country, all influential and strong in their respective niches. No one knew everyone, a few knew someone, and some knew no one. We encompassed the furthest left leaners to the staunchest right-wingers, complementarians and egalitarians, rebels and conservatives, pastors, musicians, writers, speakers, authors, artists, poets, catalyzers, marketplace leaders; all over the map, literally and spiritually.
 
We all held our breath in the days preceding; this was a lot of diversity, man. Some of these girls had come toe-to-toe online before. There were camps represented, people had big feelings, theology was not unanimous. Some barely got on the plane, nervous and unsure and prematurely defensive. We were all leaders; many cooks in the kitchen, hide the knives.
 
We hoped our love for Jesus and desperation for our generation would be enough.
 
We were right.
 
What transpired was the most beautiful, holy, healing gathering. I didn’t even have the courage to imagine it. The differences melted away; I can’t even remember what they were in the first place. Some pulled others aside and said, “I was wrong about you. Forgive me.” We washed each others' hands and shared communion and fell in love with one another.

“They…”
 
It can be such a terrible word. They are all like that. They don’t get us. They are always _____. They are never _____. They are not our people. They are all the same. They all feel _____. They would never _____. The book is already written and them, and we can close it.
 
Do you know how often this is not true? Not even remotely true? The Mythical They creates straw men to disparage, propping up stereotypes and strengthening our prejudices while eliminating the actual work of relationships. It is the easy way out to be sure. We are excused from personal contact entirely, imagining ourselves as their victim or their target or their adversary. We can actually invent an entire conflict without speaking a solitary word to a live human.
 
How many of us have a secret nemesis? Women are particularly deft at harboring imaginary tension. She would never like me. I would totally hate her. She is the sum of the few parts I know about her. I heard she was _____. She is friends with/works for/goes to/believes that/affiliated with _____, so there is nothing else I need to know about her.
 
So rather than doing the grown up thing and actually talking or connecting or asking questions face to face, we hide behind The Mythical They and absolve ourselves of truthful discernment. Why have a potentially productive conversation when we can just make up a disastrous one in our heads? Oh sure, we may be entirely human and normal and nuanced, but certainly no one else is.
 
Let’s go here: How many of us refuse to walk into a church because they will all be _____ (cliquey, judgmental, mean, boring, holy). We see the church and say they. But here is a secret: all sorts of ordinary people just show up to church on Sunday. There is no they. It is just a collection of individual people who just lost their job or are going through a divorce or have a secret addiction or love Jesus like a fat kid loves cake or have no idea why they are there.
 
Reverse the scenario: If you snuck in the back door of a church and hid out on the back row, barely hanging on, and someone drove past the sanctuary and said, “Oh no. They are all _____ in there…” How unfair would that be? You’d stand up and say, NOT ME! You don’t know my story! If you only knew… Those are the same people under the steeples on Sundays.
 
There is no they.

 
I’ve done this. Of course I have. I imagine I know exactly the type of women I’ll be dealing with when I walk into a conference based on the venue, and I am wrong exactly every time. Because there is no they. No group of people is any one thing. Ever.
 
An 84-year-old woman sat next to me on the front row once, and I thought, wow, she is in the wrong place. I’m about to talk about justice and poor people and she is just here because she has been coming to conferences for eleventy billion years. I bet she falls asleep.
 
When I came off the stage, with tears pouring down her face, she grabbed my hands and said, “Everyone thinks I’m just an old lady and should sit in my pew and go gently into the white light, but I still have good years left, by God. I go to the prison four times a week. Those are my people. You are the first person who doesn’t think I’m crazy.”
 
There is no they.
 
It is immature and lazy to imagine we know everything there is to know about someone before we know that someone. We don’t know their stories, their histories, their real live human feelings. We don’t know their favorite movies and best memories and what makes them afraid. It is unfair to take one fact, one thing they’ve said or we heard they said, or one thing they wrote, or someone else’s experience, or a group they identify with and make a character sketch. If people did that to us, the picture would be so woefully incomplete, we wouldn’t even recognize our own description.
 
Who is your they? Is it a group? Because guilt by association is the lowest form of assessment. No group is all the same. They may have one line item in common, one belief, one perspective or mission, but that camaraderie is not the sum total of a person’s character. She is other things besides that. Probably a bunch of stuff just like you. You’d be surprised.
 
Is your they an individual? Have you invented a barrier based on anything but sustained personal connection? Maybe you think you know how someone will react or respond, but you could be as wrong about them as they are about you.
 
I suspect we misjudge people 90% of the time. Experience tells me I can sit down over coffee with almost any perceived adversary and end up laughing until my ribs ache. We were born on the same day, we both quit reading the same book halfway through, we are both worried about parenting, we both love Jesus even if we don’t agree on all the dressings. Common ground abounds.
 
Yes, some people are genuinely toxic or unhealthy, but we should draw those conclusions from personal experience, not hearsay or assumptions. I see a strategy for fracturing humanity well in play: just keep people separated and let them reinforce invented boundaries in their imaginations. Because when people come together and really listen to each other, doing the hard work of human kindness, virtually every barrier is breached. The entire mechanism is a house of cards; we can topple the structure with courage and trust and real discussions and grace for each other.
 
The Mythical They is a lie, and we can do better than this. Will you be brave? Do you need to pick up the phone or send an email and ask someone to coffee? Perhaps it’s time to stop painting a group with a wide brush and get close enough to see what those folks are actually like; you will never regret giving someone a chance, but you might forever regret carrying a fake grudge to your deathbed. Let’s refuse to buy into this horrid game. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt, some actual time. We’ll listen and connect and try to understand each other like the People of Mercy we supposedly are.
 
It could just be the most beautiful, holy thing we do.
 
 
Who is your they? How have you felt? Is that real or mostly imagined or somewhere in between? What will you do?

by Jen Hatmaker on October 16th, 2013

IF : Austin sold out Monday during pre-registration in 42 minutes.
 
That is the time it takes to watch two episodes of The Mindy Project with no commercials. Just enough time to eat a sandwich.
 
We thought there was a hunger, we suspected strongly, but we were blown away by the fervent ache to be a part of this new thing. This is actually happening in our generation, this desire for God and kingdom and truth and justice. I’ve been on the verge of ugly crying all week. I feel so connected to you, so proud to run alongside of you for Jesus’ sake.
 
1200 seats were gone in an instant. So very many of you didn’t get one, and I know you’re disappointed. Here is where I tell you something real: In my opinion, IF : Local is actually where it is at. If the content was identical, but I had to pick between a giant conference and a living room of friends, I would pick the latter 100 times out of 100. Truthfully, IF : Local is closer to the heartbeat of the overarching vision than anything else we’re building.
 
We value eye contact, bare feet on couches, coffee mugs in hand. We love small, safe spaces and hours of rich conversation among real-life friends. We absolutely believe in the power of connection, when women listen and get real and wrestle with complicated issues together and share communion. We believe in your neighborhood, your tribe, your local church, and your invaluable role there. We believe in you. A two-day conference in Austin cannot powerfully impact your community like you can.

We need your voice, your leadership, your passion, your skills, your homes, and your gathering spaces. We need your invitations, your mad cooking skills, conversation starters and ice breakers. We need it all. We need your eyes and ears, your prayers, and ultimately, your heart.
 
YOU are the one that will usher in awakening for women in your city. Sure, we’ll livestream from Austin to give an excuse to start this party, but you will be the one that ministers. The one that stands in real life, alongside the sick and hurting, the broken and redeemed on the front lines. And we’ll celebrate with you, we’ll want to hear it all.
 
The kingdom has always come subversively, in small ways, in local places, around dinner tables. Jesus sent his followers out two-by-two. IF : Austin will include just over 1000 women; IF : Local will involve tens of thousands in their actual lives, where women can gather organically and cheer each other on to bravery long after the last session is over. This is the stuff. When I think of thousands of gatherings around the globe, pondering the same content and breaking bread together and creating safe places for each other, well, I.just.cannot.even.handle.it.
 
We are thrilled beyond words for IF : Local. It is as much a part of this as the Austin gathering, I assure you. Even more so. We have some ideas for maximizing IF : Local in your context (and way more to come): Kick your family out and gather your friends in your house for two days, rent a cute house together, meet in your church basement, plan a progressive dinner centered on each session, tuck away in your parents’ lake house, organize several small gatherings then come together for communion at the end. Empty nester? Open your clean quiet home to a group of women for IF : Local. What a gift. This is where it gets real and tangible.
 
Monday, Jennie shot this little video to update you on where the Spirit is leading. Please watch and keep reading:

We’re sure that you have lots of questions. Let us try and answer those for you.
 
What can we expect?
 
In February, we want you to gather with your friends locally and keep it loose, laid back, and simple. We expect to see some stellar menus. Read more here about what to expect in February, including information on the resources we will and will not provide you as leaders. 
 
When should we register?
 
Today! We need your local leadership to begin to build the February gathering.
 
1. Will you register NOW for IF:Local and give $25 or more to help us reach our goal? As with IF : Austin, we refuse to let price be a barrier. If you can give $3 or no dollars or $12.50, super. You are so welcome. (And if you'd rather give $1000, then BY ALL MEANS. Smiley face.)
 
2. Forward this to 15 of your friends and tell them about IF : Local. Encourage them to sign up with you! 
 
3. Post on Facebook and Twitter that your friends should join you for IF : Local. Click here for the link to Facebook.

4. Tweet this: Join @IFGathering by registering for #IFLocal, local gatherings to watch our live webcast Feb 7-8.

This vision is not possible without each of you, and we are so incredibly grateful that this is how God intended it to be. Let's build this. Let's gather our tribe in cabins and living rooms and music halls and church basements and in Austin and Cleveland and Uganda and Mexico City, around tables and couches and patio chairs and meeting halls, with Bibles and coffee and bacon-wrapped dates in our hands, and let's chase after the kingdom together. Let's open our arms wide and beg God to cast a fresh vision over our generation, declaring together that we are hungry and we are His.

May we be obedient and brave and faithful in our time, because we are so loved.

Let's do this together.



The damn broke as I finished this piece. Dripping tears all over my sweatshirt. Please, tell me. Tell me everything. Will you join us? Will you gather in your city? What will you do? Share your ideas with us. Let us share in the thrill of your local gatherings.

by Jen Hatmaker on October 14th, 2013

It is 5:12am. Please understand that I NEVER wake up early to write. I love that idea on paper, but I love my bed more. But today I needed darkness outside my windows, a house full of sleeping people, a quiet cup of coffee at my side, absolutely free and clear space, because I feel like I’m entering holy territory.
 
I’ve already talked about IF: Gathering; the early whispers, the clunky beginnings, the quiet dreams for God’s movement in our time. As with anything new, you just have to start. A handful of elements are certain, but after that, you move messily through development, gaining clarity (and humility) as things shift and transform. We learned that you put your head down and listen: to other leaders, to different demographics, to the sincere concerns, to the questions. If you are arrogant, you shove those aside and carry on as previously imagined. But how could we possibly ask for God’s hand with proud heads up rather than humble heads down? I assure you: pride was never a motivating factor. If anything, it was unchecked zeal, a true hunger for God’s kingdom to come during our generation in any way, in every way.
 
So here is what happened. The founder of IF, my friend Jennie, along with a small band of advisers and leaders, listened. Thoughtful concerns like this from our friend Sarah were deeply heard on the rather small, expensive initial conference plan:
 
“If this is really the Gospel, if this is really the stuff we believe is going to change a generation or bring revival or renewal or whatever, then why aren’t the doors wide open for the rest of us? Why haven’t we flung wide the doors, ripped up our ticket price spreadsheets, poured out in the streets, scoured the city for anyone and everyone who wants to come, and danced in the gutters instead of the stadium aisles?”
 
We are hungry for God to move. That is the end of it. We hold nothing tightly except the desperate hope that He will have His way with our generation, that we will not somehow subvert it unknowingly or minimize its scope.
 
We are lifting our heads and looking far and wide, seeing our sisters everywhere:
 
The ones clipping coupons with babies and toddlers at their feet, unable to leave for a two-day conference.
 
We see women for whom a $240 ticket price is utterly unfeasible; bills to pay but still starving for God’s rushing wind to blow.
 
The college girls on a shoestring budget ready for God; we see you.
 
Our global sisters cannot possibly be left out of this conversation. If we narrow this down to an American narrative, we’ve omitted the richness and depth only radical international inclusiveness can activate.
 
We see the beautiful diversity a Christian conference sometimes unwittingly suffocates; we want the rabble-rousers, the misfits, the socially awkward, the divergent, the poor, the cynics, the skeptics, the barely-hanging-on-ers, the dangerous thinkers, the cautiously hopeful who crave the conversation but aren’t yet ready or able to attend a conference. We want all the colors of skin. We want the praise flag wavers and the reformed five-point outliners and the ones who aren’t even sure they believe at all.
 
And the truth is, a limited conference in one city in the world with a hefty price tag would leave too many out, and we don’t have time to waste and we are too hungry to tamp down God's reach.
 
So we tore up the ticket price spreadsheets for IF: Austin. 

There is no set cost. You give what you can and come if you can come. We have 1200 seats for IF : Austin on February 7-8, 2014. May “for those who can afford it” never be our kingdom plumbline.
 
Registration for IF : Austin opens Tuesday, October 15th at 11:00 AM Central. However, women who are subscribed to our email list will get to register on Monday. Sign up here to get early access.
 
God, gather us.
 
AND...we are throwing open the doors to IF : Austin via webcast to anyone, everyone, everywhere for IF : Local. 

Registration to the webcast is unlimited. Gather with your friends, neighbors, church, or others in your community and join us virtually. You, too, will have the opportunity to register October 15th. Then in the next several weeks and months, we will send you ideas and resources for our time together.
 
We have received emails from women who are saying they want to host gatherings in Tokyo, Mexico, Haiti and Ireland… this is unbelievable. Only God. May “for those who can afford it and live near” never be our kingdom plumbline.
 
God, gather us.
 
Sisters, with the elimination of the ticket price (which would not even have covered expenses) and the addition of the webcast, we have substantially increased the cost of the IF : Gathering. I asked the number then put my hands over my ears, because I am a dreamer, not an accountant. But it is big and we are way out here on the ledge, trusting God for greater things with no safety net and apparently no guarantee that we will be able to turn the lights on.
 
This vision will not happen if we do not have financial partners. It just won’t. If you believe in this vision, then we ask that you pray about giving to support IF : Gathering through our partners at Pure Charity here. (If you already have a Pure Charity account, you can just "back this project"...easy peasy. Want more info on Pure Charity? I gushed over it here. Everyone should have a PC account.) We are believing God for great and small things here. Thousands of widow’s mites add up. And a few Solomons who invest mightily in this generation have tremendous impact.
 
We are holding our breath but do not feel irresponsible with this task; cost is too small a thing to God. We know He can raise this thing up without the comfort of built-in cost recuperation. Cattle, hills, ownership, and all that. (So if God moves you to share some of your cattle with the IF gang, we will receive your offering with utter gratitude, and we thank you for making this wider vision possible. And for bringing down our blood pressure.)
 
I don’t know how else to say it other than this: This feels right. It feels right to say come, come one, come all. Come to this table. Practice dissimilar theology? Grab a seat. Don’t fit a mold of some sort? Sit with us. Cranky about conferences but crazy about Jesus? Pull up a chair. Hungry, tired, hopeful, impassioned, cautious, fire in your bones? You belong here. Starving to see God move in our time? We need you. Old-timer, new-comer, here is your seat. Rich, poor? This is your table.
 
God, gather us and move. We care nothing for our constructs but only for your presence. Shove us aside, tear down the walls, and build a raging fire. May your fame be declared, your kingdom come on earth, and your daughters set free and set ablaze. Bring us to your table; there are enough seats for all. We are hungry and ready and we await You.
 
Because if you are real, then we have no other hope.


Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”

Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-69)



Will you join us? Just as you are. Exactly where you are. In your living room or in Austin or in Spain or in your church basement or in your friend's cabin or at your desk. This table is big and you are so welcome here.





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