It’s become very clear to me that the inspiration for this book is priceless, and it should be shared with you in print, without cost.
I hope you enjoy it.
Now a few important introductory notes: Don’t Skip This Section.
I didn’t choose to write this book. I confess that the book is an act of obedience solely from the standpoint of getting God off my back. For me, sometimes “my obedience” is that simple, to be brutally honest. I’m still learning and trying to take the risks I need to take to continue to grow in Him. I’m finding that many of these risks require me to extend beyond boundaries that I have heretofore been comfortable hiding behind….He’s just not allowing me to live that way anymore.
Structure of the book: A Prologue provides the conceptual context for the reader. The Prologue is followed by four sections with ten, 3-5 page stories ( Beginning at “Day 41” through Day 80 ). The lead-in that starts each new “day” is a brief statement about my actual observations of Porpoise. This lead-in is followed by a non-fiction story about people I have encountered in my own life, along with a discussion of what the interaction with them has come to mean to me from a “Porpoise Diving Life” perspective. I tie in the initial observation about the Porpoise that began the story into the final paragraph. These are true stories. I use pseudonyms to maintain confidentiality, with the exception of Day 41 and a few others that I won’t point out.
My life continues to be shaped by words, as well as experiences and interaction with others. I remain deeply grateful for those whose writings have served to mould my heart and soul. To share my story without including some of these authors and their words, would not be possible. This book is as much a spiritual journey memoir as it is anything else. I continue to be challenged, formed and reformed by God. This book/spiritual memoir has absolutely nothing to do with an attempt to get you to buy into a bunch of beliefs. I do hope it causes you to think, to ponder, to wonder, to desire to move beyond wherever you’re at toward the God of More.
I do believe the following and hope the book addresses this: “There are millions of people, a species if you will, who are terribly confused, wounded, angry and fearful about life and God. No matter how deeply folks feel about their faith in God, their lives don’t seem to match up with all the promises that are being sold in the name of Christ in this world. Deep within every human being is a voice that whispers (some more frequently and intensely than others)…”What have I done wrong? I never expected this to happen? Life is not turning out as I had hoped or had been led to believe. What did I do to deserve this? Where’s God? Am I some sort of exception? Is there a reality for the rest of us?”
The book is about the ordinary, everyday of our lives over the past 20 years. I’ve become exhausted reading books from pastors, ex-pastors, missionaries, theologians…everybody that has some sort of present or former connection with the established church…or those on a mission from God. That’s my problem…I’m trying to get over it. As such, The Porpoise Diving Life is a voice that needs to be heard today. It is the voice of those, like us, who have sat in the pews of organized religious practice for some of our lives, yet, lived with Jesus, outside the church and/or programmed or professional ministry. It is a voice of experience. It is the layman’s life – A life populated with uncertainty, the unexpected, the joy, the humor, the irony, the inexplicable, the mundane, the marginalized, the mediocrity, the ups and down’s of it all. It’s all about us…God, you and me. It’s The Porpoise Diving Life. There’s a reality for the rest of us…the truth that Jesus ruthlessly adores those whose life experience seems to occur outside the confines of the theology of linear living espoused by mainstream evangelicalism….yet, it is the lives of the children of The Creator.
There are millions of people on this planet who are never going to buy and read The Purpose Driven Life authored by an avowed U.S. evangelical preacher. Like I’ve said a number of times publicly, I’ve read the book three times and have been blessed by it. The Porpoise Diving Life is NOT a dig at the other book. It is a work that moves beyond purpose-driven, as evidenced by our lives, and the millions of others, like us, who don’t swim within the purpose-driven safe harbors where many have come to reside in the seas of faith.
However, The Purpose Driven Life crowd was never intended to be The Porpoise Diving Life’s audience. Interestingly enough, I have been absolutely astounded by the sheer thousands of people who have sent email to me who are perplexed about Pastor Warren’s theology and book, and anybody remotely associated with this “purpose-driven” stuff. (Frankly, the world’s religions are filled with angry people — Christianity is no exception. The people who put their lives and beliefs in print (including yours truly) become unwitting targets for the spewing of rage and anger – pray for the angry people you know today). This type of feedback has come from hundreds in the mainstream evangelical community (including dozens of pastors) who feel that the “purpose-driven/Warrenites” have come to constrict the path that God’s Spirit is urging them to follow. However, “popular support” would not allow them to journey beyond the boundaries the purpose-driven proponents have defined. (Some of you in full-time ministry work would probably understand these comments much better than I pretend to). Strangely enough, many of these folks are terribly attracted to The Porpoise Diving Life as a path to move them beyond the confines of purpose-driven.
Frankly, the emergent movement (and The Porpoise Diving Life) owe Rick Warren and the purpose-driven theology he authored, a great deal of gratitude. My faith journey is one where I have learned that most often, God leads me one step at a time. However, I need to be careful that I pace myself, and don’t trip on others, or myself, as I attempt to follow His leading. What Warren’s theology did for me (and I hope it does for you) is illuminate the pathway ahead, beyond where he left off. The emergent movement has an opportunity to consider Warren’s journey for what it is – the chronicle of a fellow faith sojourner. This is what the sub-title to The Porpoise Diving Life actually refers to: “Picking Up Where Purpose Driven Peters Out.” Our journey may not be in the same direction, encounter the same terrain, have the same demographic characteristics as the Warrenite expedition. We may not use the same compass, or even interpret the opportunities to define the mission and plot the route the same way as the Warrenite’s did, or are doing. Frankly, we may have the opinion that the Warrenite’s are headed in the wrong direction, or exploring terrain that has already been mapped out by others. Finally, you might have the opinion that the Warrenite’s are lost and taking a whole host of other folks with them. Fine!
However, I think it is incumbent upon us as faith adventurers to use the chronicles of the journey of other faith explorer(s), as reference material that cause us to intentionally evaluate the coordinates and mission for our own, ongoing, expedition. There’s nothing worse than being out on a hike with people who spend the day bitching and disparaging the people who recommended the jumping off point, the map, or the suggestion of going for a hike today, when, after all, we’re the one’s who are responsible to “take it from here and make of this day all that it can be.” You see, it’s all God, you and me. As I’ve said, it’s all about us. We’re the ones on this part of the hike together. We need to re-focus on our Leader, The God of More, Jesus Christ. An essential part of this re-focusing is to examine the route, beliefs and methods of the faith explorers who have preceded us, as well as the tenor of the dialogue amongst ourselves.
Does the above sound like a ringing endorsement for purpose-driven theology? It’s not. Does it appear to be the extension of an olive branch to people who have adopted a purpose-driven worldview? I hope so. Am I suggesting that the intensity and expression of cynicism I have recounted above from too many inside and out of the emergent movement is wearisome, as well as a cause for concern? Absolutely.
We can and must move beyond where purpose-driven peters out toward a reality for the rest of us. In concluding these opening remarks, please understand the fact that I remain deeply grateful, blessed and encouraged by the emergent movement as “God has often used those with troubled hearts to speak in their society and to call His people closer to Himself.” (1)
Jesus never promised us that our existence in this world and journey of faith with Him would be without pain, uncertainty, the unexpected, the inexplicable, the incomprehensible and hardship. Perhaps there’s another dimension of truth to the Gospel message that people are yearning to hear that is outside the confines of a well-ordered, trouble-free, formula-based, prosperity laden, purpose-driven life. There is. It’s The Porpoise Diving Life ©. There is a flip-side to the “It’s not about you” theology from Pastor Warren that people are desperate to hear; “It’s all about us,” is the tag line for The Porpoise Diving Life © that appears to be terribly inviting to people, particularly when it’s coupled with the sub-title “Reality for the Rest of Us.”
It’s about God, you and me. “It is time that we demand more of ourselves as Christians. We are the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, and if the world is going to see, feel, and touch him, it will have to be through us.”(2) It’s all about us! God, you and me.
Yet, there is a vastly larger audience outside mainstream evangelical Christianity whom God loves and seeks. These are the folks who know there is MORE to what evangelical Christians say there is. My Jesus yearns for relationship with these folks beyond the confines of the safe harbors evangelical Christianity has constructed. Many of these folks have been “exposed” in some way to various flavors of Christianity. Many are wounded, confused, curious, hopeful…in need of the reality that they are “not alone…not exceptions” to the love of Jesus…that perhaps, there is vastly “MORE” to Christ that what we Christians have led people to believe and experience in their lives. What about those who are curious about God, yet don’t want anything to do with what denominational (and “non”) Christianity has to offer….and have nobody to turn to safely express their doubts and concerns or ask questions Christians have been trained to ignore, reject, argue, dismiss or overlook.
I’m not a gimmicky guy. I can’t pretend to explain to you why God decided to do what He’s done to my heart that motivated me to obey by writing what he injected into my soul. Frankly, as I have said above, “obedience” for me in writing this book has been an outright attempt to get God off my back, rather than some lofty, fuzzy explanation that makes me look good. As the book may indicate, “some of the greatest gifts that have been granted to me have been given to me against my will.” Translation….I would NOT have chosen the people, circumstances and events that have come to populate my life, if I had been the one doing the choosing. However, The Porpoise Diving Life has forced me to recall them, and to confess how God has both revealed Himself, transformed others and me through the everyday, the everyone, the everything…a process that continues today. It’s an encouragement to you to reflect on this reality in your own life.
I hope the book causes people to become able to see God in new ways that they have become socialized to overlook. Christianity is a way of living to be lived outside “the church.” That’s the way we’ve lived our lives. He is “among us,” wherever that might be. There exists an incredible appetite for God in humanity today. However, the way God has become “packaged” in evangelical Christianity is missing more people than it is impacting. The results of social research regarding the impact of Christianity is one of overwhelmingly diminishing returns.
Yes, Jesus Christ, The God of More, is at work in the lives of those outside the aquariums post-modern man has come to define and confine Him to. It is in the lives of divine nobodies like us, that the precious evidence of an undeserved, unearned grace, mercy and love, utterly incomprehensible, evidences itself each and everyday…Perhaps, for far too many, it’s the place where purpose-driven peters out. When the promises of evangelical Christianity are confronted with the realities of life, people become perplexed…”What have I done wrong? Maybe I’m an exception?” Petering out does not define an end point…it’s the beginning of a new opportunity to embrace a dimension of Christ we have heretofore overlooked…a place where we need help to see the breadth, depth and essence of THE God who cannot and will not be confined.
Our lives are an indication that maybe, just maybe, there’s more to the Christian life than what the “professionals” have led us to comprehend. Perhaps, it’s time for us to tell our stories.
Thanks for reading ours.
We hope it blesses you.
We look forward to your feedback. Send us your story.
(1) Taylor, Daniel The Myth of Certainty – The Reflective Christian & The Risk of Commitment, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL Copyright © 1986, 1992 by Daniel Taylor, p. 26.
(2) Perkins, John M. Restoring At-Risk Communities – Doing It Together & Doing It Right, Baker Books Grand Rapids, Michigan © Copyright 1995 by John M. Perkins, p. 12