Good News | Culture | Leadership | Fun
How do you live your life? Few things are as important as the way you live your life. Is your life interesting? Few things are as energizing as living an interesting life.
Living an interesting life solves many problems, such as:
- Being bored
- Having nothing to talk about, no stories to share
- Loss of inspiration
- Lack of energy
- Living an unthoughtful life
- Going with the crowd, doing what everybody else is doing
When you intentionally pursue living an interesting life, things change. Suddenly you have stories to share, you learn new things, inspiration returns, and you live life and care for others with more zest. It’s simple: Living an interesting life beats living an un-interesting life. Here are 81 ideas to get you started in living a more interesting life.
- Talk to strangers.
- Listen to your curiosity, see where it takes you.
- Befriend someone who has a really hard life, love and serve them.
- Get a new hobby.
- Take a one-hour road trip to a place nearby that you’ve never been to.
- Do something that scares you once a day, or at least once a week.
- Face your fears. Quit running from them.
- Start a new friendship.
- Use a different mode of transportation to get around today: skateboard, public transportation, bike, walking, scooter, moped, etc.
- Listen to new music.
- Confess what’s really going on in your life to a trusted friend.
- Be outside often.
- Write poetry.
- Get into a big political argument with someone sometime this week, preferably in a public place.
- Swap houses with a friend for a week.
- Quit “shoulding” all over yourself. Pay less attention to “shoulds” that don’t really matter, and pay attention to interesting things you want to do.
- Invent a game.
- Lead something.
- Don’t read any books this year, instead devote the year to re-read your key reflections/takeaways from the books that have most influenced you over the past decade.
- Don’t allow utensils at the dinner table for a week. Make spaghetti for dinner.
- Try to solve an unsolved mystery in your town.
- Speak with an accent all day whenever you encounter strangers, see if they believe you.
- Stop taking the path of least resistance.
- Get really into an interesting show/documentary with a group of friends and talk about it.
- Pull a prank on someone.
- Forget yourself. Attempt the impossible: Don’t think about yourself for a week.
- Change your routine–wake up, commute, go to bed, etc. at different times.
- Eat new types of food.
- Give someone a surprise, out-of-this-world tip.
- Start a doorbell ditch movement in your neighborhood.
- Wherever you are, be all there. Live a life of being fully present.
- Encourage somebody a minimum of once a day. Do it in person, through hand written note, text, email, or phone call.
- Go deep in a particular subject–devote a month or three months to studying a subject that interests you through multiple mediums: books, film, conversations, etc.
- Mix up your workout routine, do something totally different for two weeks.
- Order a pizza to be delivered at a friend’s house (be sure to pay in advance).
- Periodically hang upside down or do a head stand and try to think through your problems from this different vantage point.
- Make a sacrifice that nobody knows about to help achieve a great team goal.
- Skip instead of walk.
- Call everyone you’ve ever wronged and never apologized to, and tell them you are sorry.
- Make a five minute movie (comedy, drama, action, or documentary), show it to your friends.
- If you’re right handed, try being left handed all day.
- Have interesting friends.
- Quit social media.
- Start social media.
- Swap cars with a friend for a week.
- Laugh more. Develop your laugh.
- Make up a new word, and try getting the people you work with/your friends to adopt the word.
- Take voice lessons.
- Learn in an area where you are historically very weak (if you’re not “handy,” learn how to build something).
- Believe in God, trust his Word and promises, obey and follow him wherever he may lead you.
- Perform your unique talent downtown. Keep at it until you’ve earned at least $5 in your tip jar.
- Try contacting someone you really want to meet and learn from, track them down and ask them a few questions.
- Say yes to some things you would normally say no to.
- Say no to some things you would normally say yes to.
- Create a new recipe/food dish, and promote it to others.
- Give away more money.
- Attempt bringing acid wash jeans back into style.
- Start a side business.
- Show up with donuts.
- Help plant a church.
- Visit every museum in your city.
- Remember one or two things you loved to do as a kid and start adding those activities back into your life.
- Start drawing your t0-do list, instead of writing your t0-do list.
- Crank call someone (not sure how you do that with cell phones).
- Sleep outside.
- Subscribe to a new newspaper or magazine that comes at life from a different perspective, read cover to cover.
- Learn a musical instrument.
- Write down five big goals you really want to accomplish over the next two years and start working out your plan to achieve these goals.
- Learn a new sport.
- Don’t watch TV.
- Start a website.
- Stop doing all the stupid stuff you do that wastes time, drains you of energy, and leaves you feeling blah.
- TP a friend’s house.
- Smile more. Smile now.
- Take up photography.
- Spend an entire day in silence, see what you learn.
- Watch all of the Dos Equis commercials, see what the most interesting man in the world can teach you.
- Sell everything in your home that you don’t love, need, or want. Use the money to do something interesting.
- Buy a piece of art you love.
- Make adult life feel more like college, try to bring a dormitory/frat house/team kind of feel to your neighborhood.
- Quit playing it safe.
What would you add to the list?
“We have a friend who says she believes churches should get Bible teaching ‘on a need-to-know basis.’ In other words, a church should open their Bibles together and learn from Scripture according to the contextual challenges and ordeals they are currently facing together. Sadly, many Christians don’t ‘need to know’ what they hear each Sunday, and so they retain very little of it.
Now, we recognize believers should have a clear, consistent biblical worldview, and we can’t offer Bible teaching based only on felt needs and areas of immediate interest. But frankly, we’d rather teach missionaries, disciples who are hungry for Bible teaching to sustain, enrich, and guide them in the missional ordeal, than churchgoers who have little motivation for hearing the truth. And remember, unused truth is lost truth. It doesn’t matter how true we believe the Bible to be, or how effective and gifted our teachers might be. If our congregations are not engaged missionally…they will have little need for our teaching.” -Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch
Life is hard. Problems are many. The to-do list is long. Curve balls keep coming. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by your circumstances and the load you’re carrying.
OVERWHELM verb (used with object)
to overcome completely in mind or feeling.
to overpower or overcome, especially with superior forces; destroy; crush.
Before you know it, you find yourself overwhelmed, your mind and heart can’t seem to do anything other than obsess on the hard and stressful things going on around you. I often find myself in this place. BUT, you and I don’t have to live this way. Instead of being overwhelmed in a bad way, you can be overwhelmed in a good way.
What if instead of being overwhelmed by your problems you were overwhelmed by God: his presence, his bigness, his goodness, his grace and gifts to you?
What if instead of obsessing on your difficulties you obsessed on your graces, all the good things in your life that you don’t deserve?
What if instead of obsessing on what’s going wrong you obsessed on what’s going right?
What if instead of fixating on what makes you frown, you fixate on what makes you and others smile?
Each day is a choice to be overwhelmed in a bad way, or a good way. Each day is a choice to obsess on your problems or obsess on your great God and his great grace. The decisions we make at this daily crossroads will deeply shape our day, will negatively or positively impact those around us, and will determine the type of people we become over time. I want to be a man known for my obsession with God and my joy and hope in him, not my obsession with my problems and pain.
God knows that life in our broken world can be difficult, overwhelming, and full of tough surprises. And God has taught us how to navigate this: To fixate our eyes on him, not the stormy waves around us. May the old words of a man beaten up by life, but rescued by a God/grace-centered perspective on life, guide us:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -Paul, Thessalonians 5:16-18
As we overwhelm ourselves with rest, and faith, and joy, and gratitude in God, we’ll find our problems shrinking in size and in their sway over us diminished. This is the journey of the Christian life: a continual fresh discovering of how God is so much bigger than all of our fears, so much better than all of our worries. You know God’s will for you today: Rejoice, pray, give thanks in all circumstances. Keep your focus here today, and you’ll find yourself overwhelmed in a good way.
You process reality through some type of lens. Just as rose-colored glasses make things look red, the lens through which you look at life colors how you see and interpret things.
One mistake we make is, often-unknowingly, using the lens of circumstances to make sense of God and reality, rather than the other way around. When you approach life wearing a circumstance lens, you have a narrow, shallow, and constantly changing view of who God is and how life works. Interpreting things simply through the lens of the hard (or good) circumstances you are currently going through does not give you a full and true vision of reality.
The lens we need is the lens of God. We must look at all things through the lens of God: what Scripture reveal about God, chiefly God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and love. When you view your changing circumstances through the unchanging lens of God, you see correctly and can correctly make sense of how to navigate what is before you.
What lens are you looking through?
See your circumstances through the lens of God’s love instead of seeing God’s love through the lens of your circumstances.
Here is my annual list (see the link at the bottom for past year’s lists). These are not necessarily books published in 2015, but the books I read in 2015 that I benefitted from/enjoyed the most.
The Relational Soul: Moving From False Self to Deep Communion, by Richard Plass and James Cofield. The most helpful, soul-penetrating book I read all year. During my sabbatical my wife and I slowly read, discussed, and prayed through the themes of each chapter. A healing, helpful book that I will return to.
Happiness, by Randy Alcorn. Comprehensive and compelling. Alcorn’s book led me to deeper happiness in God and his grace.
A Passion for Faithfulness, by J.I. Packer. I’m preaching through Nehemiah right now, and this book by Packer on Nehemiah is a course in leadership that inspired, educated, and encouraged me.
Natural Born Heroes: How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance, by Christopher McDougall. A few years ago I was glued to McDougall’s, Born to Run. This is a very different book and it isn’t as good (I was often frustrated with the choppiness of the writing, a technique that worked well with Born to Run), yet I couldn’t put the book down. The narrative and the “lost secrets” kept grabbing my interest.
The Life of Manny: Discovering Why People Follow A Leader, by Ray East. A fun read. I read this back in February and I still think about it almost every week. Want to become a more life-giving leader? Read this.
Necessary Endings, by Henry Cloud. Endings are hard for me, so I read this book and it helped me.
The Faith of Leap: Embracing A Theology of Risk, Adventure, & Courage, by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. I know of nobody else writing about a theology of risk/adventure/courage. So important, so forgotten. Much more needs to be written and spoken about adventure and the Christian life, and the culture of churches.
Fire Your Gym! Simplified High-Intensity Workouts You Can Do At Home: A 9-Week Program–Fewer Injuries, Better Results, by Andy Petranek. Simple, tested wisdom by a CrossFit instructor and distance runner on how to be fit. The title is terrible. And I didn’t follow the 9 week program. But what I gained was some core wisdom on how to structure and scale my pursuit of fitness for a lifetime. The big, simple takeaway: Vary high-intensity days with low-intensity days.
Joy and Human Flourishing. by Miroslav Volf and Justin E. Crisp. With this title I had to read this book. I devour any thoughtful writing on joy, happiness, human flourishing. Worth reading.
Leading Change, by John P. Kotter. If you’re leading change there is proven wisdom here.
Toughest People to Love: How to Understand, Lead, and Love the Difficult People in Your Life–Including Yourself, by Chuck DeGroat. We’re all difficult and we’re all surrounded by some difficult people, so a book that addresses this problem is important.
Becoming Worldly Saints: Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life? by Michael Wittmer. We all have people in our life that will especially benefit from this book. We need more writing that exegetes and articulates the expansive vocation(s) we’re called to as Christians.
Click here for last year’s list: Best Books of 2014, and a link to past year’s lists.
Last night my wife cooked a big pot of rice as part of our dinner. We ate all the rice, and the empty pot sat sticky and unclean—clingy, crusty, thick particles of rice clung to the the interior of the pot.
Our boys, who do the dishes, asked if putting the dirty pot in the dishwasher or scrubbing the pot would clean it. We taught them to do neither, that a pot in this condition needs something more than a quick rinse or scrub, it needs to soak. We told them to put the pot in the sink, fill it with warm water and dish soap, and then leave it alone to soak.
You and I are like the crusty rice pot. Our interior is full of sticky, clingy, hard to remove residue—brokenness, sin, idolatry, hurt— that frustrates and that we can’t fix through scrubbing hard or a quick religious rinse. The counterintuitive remedy for our broken interiors is to simply soak in the warm water of God’s unconditional love. That’s it. We don’t have to do anything other than sit there, soak, float, and let the warmth of undeserved love exercise it’s profound power on our self and story, working its way into every hard to reach place. This is called grace. This is called faith. This is a called a relationship of total dependence upon the love of your Heavenly Father.
You can’t rush this. You can’t manufacture this. You just soak and, somewhere along the way, you notice (or, more likely, your friends notice and tell you) that you’re different—freed up, lighter, less heavy. This is what true love does, it moves toward the true condition of our messy interior and greets us with care. A care that frees.
This morning my boys discovered the power of soaking. After simply sitting there, the pot was different. The sweet, warm pressure of the water changed the pot. The inside was now soft and malleable, open to the cleansing and direction of an outside hand.
The great work of our lives is to rest in the great work of God. The great work of our lives is to learn to soak in the love of God, which was finished for you on a cross in Rome 2,000 years ago and which pours out with new supply every morning.
Our culture seduces us to push the limits, to become omnicompetent—able to do all things well. This path leads to frustration because it ignores who we really are and how life really works.
The better path is to face and embrace your limits. When you embrace who you really are, the the life you really have, and the world as it really is, the result is freedom, creativity, and peace. A painter paints a great work of art not on a limitless canvas, but on a piece of parchment with defined measurements, say 30 x 40 inches. The limits give birth to the art.
Here are 5 key limits (there are more) to face and embrace about yourself and others. Limits aren’t necessarily limiting. Knowing your limits can set you free. And limits change. All of the categories below can grow/change/adapt during the course of your lifetime. The key is to honor your current limits and pursue growth/change in a humble and realistic way, not in a way that chases our culture’s lie of a limitless life.
You can make physical changes to yourself such as the following: gain or lose weight, build more muscle, dye your hair, take better or worse care of your body, get a tattoo, or undergo some kind of a surgery (some surgeries are healthy, some are not). Over five years I experienced and pursued a dramatic physical change: I went from being a 6’1″ 120 lb. freshmen in high school who was the worst player on our football team to gaining a lot of muscle and playing some college football at 230 lbs. We can change some aspects of our physicality, but the body and genetics God gives us limit us. If you’re 5’1″, you’re never going to play center in the NBA. If you’re 6’6″, you’re never going to win the Kentucky Derby. If you have light, sensitive skin you’ll never be that deeply-tanned Italian guy with slicked back hair in a speedo in the cologne ads. The sooner you embrace your physical limits, the sooner you can fully enjoy your physicality.
Historical Limits (or, Story Limits)
You didn’t choose to be born. God chose to birth you, and some version of a mom and dad produced your birth. You come with a history. There’s a story, a generation, that came before your birth. And there’s the story of your early childhood, events that happened that you couldn’t really influence. All of this is your history. It’s part of your story. And the best path is to embrace your history and let God redeem it, rather than pretend the limits of your story aren’t there. If you grew up without a dad and come from a generational line of absent fathers, you can’t change this reality and you will have “issues” in your teens, in your twenties, in your marriage, etc. because you never knew the safety and intimacy of being in the arms of your dad. Embrace the limits of your story, bring it all before our Redeeming God, and watch the art he will make of your life.
You are a relational being because you are created in the image of a relational God. But you have relational limits. There’s a limit to your relational energy and how many relationships you can healthfully handle. I’m only just now starting to see this. I’m a pastor, which means my job is relationships. I have a lot of relational energy and I love people, I enjoy having a lot of relationships. This will always be true of me. But I’m bumping against my limits right now, discovering that I need to find a new way to be in relationship with God, my wife, my three sons, my local friends, my church, my friends in other cities, etc. I need to take a look at my relational limits, otherwise I will burn out and won’t be able to carry on in healthy relationship with those who matter most to me. We all have different capacities, different sized plates, when it comes to relationships. Take an honest look at your relational capacity and take some extended time to pray and think through your relationships, ask God (and a good friend) to give you wisdom on how to best approach your relational limits. Even Jesus had relational limits. He was intentional in how he gave time/energy to the crowds, to the 72-ish extended circle of disciples, to the 12, and to his inner circle of 3.
You can’t be good at everything. Unless you’re Leonardo Da Vinci, you can count on one or two hands the number of things you do especially well. God created you with unique talents, curiosities, and passions. The more you can embrace these limits and bring increased focus and energy to that handful of talents you do have, the better off you and our needy world will be. If you’re great at designing buildings, raising children, writing books, selling cars, or cooking food, do lots of that with your life. The best authors focus their writing on a few specific topics or genres where they have expertise, rather than attempting to writing 100 books about 100 different topics they know only a little about.
You make a certain amount of money each month, have a certain amount of money saved/invested, and have a certain amount of financial obligations you must meet each month. Work with these limits. A few weeks ago I looked at a home for rent and learned from the landlord that he charged a monthly rent I could not afford. I looked him in the eye and told him what I could afford, which was substantially under what he charged. It was freeing to know exactly what I could pay, to honor this limit in my conversation with the landlord, and to attempt to persuade him to pick me as a tenant based on other criteria, and to the leave the outcome in God’s hands. To my great surprise, the landlord accepted my limit! When you know you financial limits, you live life with great freedom, you know what decisions are financially responsible and so you move forward freely within your limits, and sometimes big surprises come your way that overflow your limits.
There are many more limits we could talk about (Time Limits, Emotional Limits, Geographical Limits, etc). This is enough for now. Here’s your question to explore: What will it look like for you to face and embrace these 5 key limits?
One of the most important discoveries you can make is this:
To encounter what is wrong and wounded with yourself, the blind spots you’ve been blind to all your life.
And to realize that God and your close friends already knew all of this about you.
And to discover that God and your close friends love you, are committed to you, and enjoy being in relationship with you.
This is called grace (undeserved love).
We enjoyed a celebratory Easter at Garden City. It was our biggest Sunday yet as a church.
Our favorite thing to celebrate as a church is baptism, people going public with their faith in Jesus. This Easter we heard powerful stories of lives changed by the love of God.
New connections were made at our 4pm and 5:30pm services. We’re grateful for the missional culture of our church, for how our people scatter out to love people in the city and bring new people into our church family both on Sundays and during the week to Neighborhood Groups.
On Easter we started offering ASL (American Sign Language) at our 4pm service. We have some women in our church dreaming big about how to reach the deaf community in Silicon Valley with the gospel. Here is my Easter sermon, “Believe.”
Some of the Garden City kids enjoyed an Easter egg hunt.
Like every Sunday, in-between services kids played and adults connected in our quad.
It has become a tradition for us to debut a new Garden City T-shirt on Easter.
This Sunday we begin a new three-week sermon series about sex. Join us!