I returned from northern California the other night where I had a good visit with family and friends. I only have one niece and nephew and I got to see them in San Jose and attended meetings with my associates at Inspiration Cruises and Tours in Fresno. Now I have a few days at home before I go down to Florida to be with family at Christmas.
On my way home, I finished up Leonard Sweet's latest book, The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living With A Grande Passion. If you aren't familiar with Sweet, you should be. He is a Methodist philosopher/author/theologian/ instructor/futurist. He has written a number of books with intriguing titles like Soul Salsa, Soul Tsunami, and Carpe Manana to name a few. I like to read Sweet -- every now and then that is. He is a bit difficult at times and his work is so well-documented with footnotes that it breaks up the flow of the text if you follow his footnoted trail. In this latest book, Sweet has 172 pages of text and 35 pages of endnotes! I met him once and he said he does all his own research and documentation. He must do nothing but read and research!
In this latest work, Sweet analyzes the Starbucks' phenomenon and determines that it is EPIC -- Experiential, Participatory, Image-rich and Connective. He goes on to state that the Church of Jesus should and must also be EPIC if it is going to impact this generation that seeks an EPIC culture wherever it shops, drinks, eats or worships. I find Sweet strong on analysis but weak on practical suggestions as to how the Church or even its members can achieve the worthy things that he describes and prescribes.
I like to read Sweet every now and then because he makes me think. He also challenges me as a writer to be better at what I do, for Sweet can certainly turn a phrase, as the saying goes. This is a book I would recommend for anyone who is interested in making the Church more relevant in today's world.
How does the title of this entry fit with the book? It doesn't except that Sweet referred to a purpose story that caught my attention. I quote from page 116:
Shortly before her death, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was asked why she spent her life caring for the dying. "Because I like doing my own thing," she replied. In this one response, Mother Teresa had captured the meaning of Augustine's famous dictum, "Love God and do what you will." When we share God's heart of love, our wills will be God's will. Doing our own things will be doing the divine thing.
Augustine had more accurately advised, "Pray and then do what you want [or will]." Augustine had faith that a prayer to do God's will would not be answered with tricks and deception. If you want to know God's will, pray to know and then do what's in your heart to do. Don't be so hung up on whether this or that is the right or perfect way. Trust when you pray and then do something. This is consistent with what James wrote in his epistle:
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does (James 1:5-8).
If you are praying to know God's will, why are you so surprised that you do? How do you expect God to answer it? With a personal visitation? If the Spirit comes to give you the mind of Christ, when will you receive it? After 10 years? 20? The truth is that you have it now, today. What are you doing with it? What is that mind directing you to do? Whatever it is, get about the business not of analyzing the will of God but doing it, or as Mother Teresa said, of doing your own thing.