Jacob McCormick

A well caffeinated journey with Jesus.

Was Jesus Divergent?

March 27, 2014

The other evening April and I took a group of youth to watch the new teen centered, thrill seeking, parkour moving, stomach dropping movie called Divergent. The movie is based on the novel by Veronica Roth, and honestly, I knew very little about the book or the movie before watching it that night. In fact, I had hardly even heard of it other than seeing a few facebook ads posted in my news feed.

Divergent-SummitIf you are like me and have never heard of this movie / book until recently, let me sum it up.

We begin in a post-apocalyptic Chicago that is run by a new form of “government”. To help keep peace amongst the people in this unique government, the citizens are divided into 5 different groups or factions.

Abnegation: a group for the selfless, those who enjoy serving others.
Amity: a group for the people who desire to keep peace.
Candor: This faction is for those who value honesty above all else.
Dauntless: The brave. The group who lacks fear and is willing to protect the other four factions.
Erudite: The intelligent. This group values learning and gaining new wisdom.

The groups in which these citizens end up is determined by a test they take when they turn 16 years old. After the test is complete, they leave their parents home and begin a new life within the new faction that each teen has “chosen”.

The concept is to help create order by keeping the like minded people together. It would be similar to asking people to take a Myers Briggs personality test, and when the results are finished, you begin living in a new community with people who have the same / similar personality traits as you do. Sounds great, doesn’t it?!

Every once in a while though, the test these 16 year olds take does not give conclusive results. If the results are inconclusive, you are labeled a divergent. You are somebody who tends to be different from others. You don’t have a specific place among the 5 factions, and that makes you dangerous.

Our main character, Tris, is a divergent. She doesn’t fit into any of the specific categories typically assigned to people.


This movie made $55 Million in the United States on opening weekend. That’s a hefty chunk of change, isn’t it? This movie is geared towards adolescent teens, but I think it can resonate with all ages. I think we all have this desire to be brave, and smart, and to cherish honesty and serve other selflessly. I think when we look inward deep enough, we all want to keep peace among our friends and family. When we look at the 5 traits, we might resonate more towards one of these traits specifically, but somewhere deep inside of us, we want to do it all. We want to be fearless, yet full of love, don’t we?

I think the people that are drawn to this movie, to this story of feeling “out of place” are also being drawn towards the character of Jesus without knowing it. 

Jesus was a divergent. He didn’t fit into society as society would have liked him to be. He didn’t fit the normal standards that were placed before him, instead, he changed everything. abnegationHe was part abnegation: Luke 6:35 “but love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” He chose to reject the standard of hating those who hate you, and said “look, love those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you” He rejecting the normal way of behaving. amityJesus was part amity, as he says in Matthew 5:9, blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. candorJesus was candor when he said in John 8:32 “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” he also said before Pilate “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Jesus valued truth and honesty much like the people of the candor faction. dauntlessJesus was also dauntless. Jesus must have been a crazy man, right? Because a few sentences ago I said that he wanted to teach us about peace, but in the book of John chapter 2 we hear about Jesus making a whip of small cords and then he forces all of the money changers to leave the temple. The bible says he overthrew their tables! This is a man without fear. He chased the sheep and the oxen too! eruditeAs for the erudite. Jesus doesn’t say a whole lot about intelligence. But he does say in Matthew 22:37 and Luke 10:27 that we are called to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind. He wants us to use our intellect to love Him. On top of that, there are countless occasions where he outsmarts the pharisees with their ensnaring questions.

Here we have Jesus, a guy who is fearless and brave, loving and caring, desiring peace and selflessness and calling all of us to speak the truth… according to Veronica Roth, Jesus would have been a divergent. 

Do you know what happens to divergent’s? They get killed, because they bring to much disorder and chaos into a well structured life.

What happened to Jesus? He was killed, because the government of his day had a system that worked just fine, and He was a threat to that system.

Jesus also creates more divergent’s. In Jewish culture, you would grow up being taught by a rabbi for several years, as you got closer to your rabbi, he would either keep training you, or inform you “sorry, you didn’t make the cut to be in my group… go back home and learn from your father… do whatever it is he does”. Jesus finds some fisherman and a tax collector and says “hey, follow me, we’re going to change everything!”

These guys follow him. Then these 12 uneducated guys change everything. They no longer fit into the mold that society wanted them to sit comfortably in, they were eventually put to death for following the teaching of Jesus Christ. The most influential divergent the world has ever seen and will see. The best part is, he’s coming back. I hear His sequel will be pretty intense.

To wrap this up, I’m sure more people are going to go and see this movie. They will eat popcorn, drink soda, and be entertained by great graphics, awesome fight scenes and a compelling story of a young girl who feels like she doesn’t fit in. I’m sure most will walk out of the theater wondering “I wonder which faction I would live in?” For me, I would probably live in abnegation, because I love to help others. I would secretly want to be dauntless though… to live without fear, but I think everybody will see the story of Tris, and desire to be a divergent. Like Jesus was. He calls us out of our comfort, wraps his arms around us and says “hey, walk with me… let’s change the world together.”

Which group do you fit into? Which faction do you wish you were living in? How are you being called to change the world like a divergent? Are you a “threat” to the system like Jesus was?

What Tolkien Knew.

October 23, 2013

A very young Jon Foreman once sang “I don’t wanna read the book, I’ll watch the movie” in the surf-rock ballad Chem 6A. I resonated with that statement. Why read, when every good book will someday become a movie, right? If it doesn’t become a movie, then it probably wasn’t a very good book… Or so I thought.

I despised reading books in school. I cared very little about about the character Hester Prynne. I didn’t understand why Scout and Jem were afraid of “Boo” Radley. I was really confused about the relationships taking place as Nick Carraway shared the story of the mysterious Jay Gatsby. I did feel a mix of emotions while reading the story of Lenny Small. These are a few of the tales covered during my sophomore year at Blaine High School. We would always read a book as a class, and then watch the movie at the end of the week. So, why read it? I would even make up fake book reports simply from reading the back of the book and skimming a few chapters. Surprisingly, I got really good grades on these reports too. I always enjoyed english class. I just didn’t want to read all of this nonsense the teacher was giving us. I didn’t see how these stories would ever help me in my future.

I still don’t know how I am supposed to apply these books or how they set me up for a successful future, but I can tell you that in recent years, I have developed a real love for reading. I don’t read very often, in fact, I mostly read blogs… But I listen to a lot of books. As I drive all over, I love to take in a great piece of work. Books that will challenge the way I think, the way I live, or books that simply give me a great story about places far far away.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “it’s not the destination that matters, but the journey”. I think Tolkien knew this. Every great author knows this.

The Lord Of The Rings has very little to do with the destination, and everything to do with the journey. I love when Sam says to Frodo…

Sam: This is it…
Frodo: This is what?
Sam: If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been
Frodo: You know what Bilbo used to say? ‘It’s dangerous business Frodo, going out your front door’

I keep thinking of this moment. These words. Being in Uganda is definitely the farthest away from home I’ve ever been. I quietly think to myself “one more step, and I’m even further away from home”.

If a character stays put, the character never changes. A character that doesn’t change creates a story that is boring. We, you and I, need to get out and see the world. Not just for adventures sake, but we should see what God is doing and to allow Him to change us in the process.

The second you turn on the news, you will hear 50 things wrong with the world. While traveling, I could create an even bigger list of places where Gods grace is being poured out through obedient servants of Jesus.

Why do so many of us stay put though? As Bilbo said to Frodo “it’s dangerous business going out your front door” Bilbo is right, it is far safer to stay home, and believe you have control over your surroundings than it is to travel. When you travel, you must put your trust in Jesus. All of it. When you allow Him to take you on a grand adventure, he will open your eyes to the world.

Another one of my favorite lines in all of literature is in The Hobbit. When Biblo says to Gandalf “We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”

It’s true, while on an adventure with Jesus, you will be late for dinner. Toss comfort out the window. Rid yourself of the idea that you have any control whatsoever. Then, embrace the adventure whole heartledly. Knowing that Jesus is walking with you, showing you what He desperately wants to show you.

Every good story is about a character who is changing through his or her current journey. I’m blessed when I travel, because I am changed with each place I go. I am changed by the people I meet. I am changed by the cultures I experience. I am changed by Jesus.

Looking back at those stories that made little sense to me while in school, I think I get it now. I think I have a better grasp of why we should enjoy books. We were born into a story. You and I. We have the ability to make it a great story, one that will be shared forever, or we can make it a boring one. If you don’t enjoy a good story, you may never begin living one.

Thank you for reading my ramblings. I’m amazed at what I’m seeing here in Uganda. I’m encouraged by how this journey is changing me and refining me. I’m so very blessed to be here.

Note: This post is dedicated especially to my amazing wife. Thank you for encouraging me to continually live a better story. To embrace adventure. To experience new things. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made to make this trip possible. I can’t thank God enough for bringing you into my life. You are truly the best! I love you.

You Will Get Dirty.

October 21, 2013

Maggie and Deborah refused to tell us what sort of work project we would be doing on Sunday. The only information we received was “you will get dirty.”

We asked Maggie and Deborah why we’ve been given so little information about what we are going to be doing and when we are going to be doing it, and Maggie answered by saying “in America, you have this false feeling that you are in control. You really aren’t, you never have been… and we want to get rid of that feeling of control while you are here in Uganda.”

Maggie is right. In the United States, our western mindset is one based on controlling our surroundings. We are control freaks compared to the rest of the globe.

Most of the team members had luggage that was delayed upon arrival. This was their first “you are not in control” moment. I was fortunate enough to have everything arrive on time.

We are not in control, and Deborah aims to prove that. If we ask “what are we doing tomorrow?” She gives us a vague answer. The point is, it doesn’t matter what we do tomorrow. Does it? Why do we always want to know the next step? Why do we find such profound comfort in knowing what’s about to happen, and why can’t we be content not knowing?

If you read my previous post about waking up way to early, you are aware that I read the book of Nehemiah. I had no idea what the day would bring. None. Just the words “you will get dirty”.

God has a sense of humor. A serious sense of humor.

We biked to our work site. Just a few miles away, maybe 20 minutes on bike. It was a great bike ride. We had to avoid cows, goats, children, and motorcycles.

When we arrived, we saw a big mud pit that we were instructed to walk into barefoot, and begin using our feet to mix the mud with water. When the mud was a certain consistency, we began to make large mud balls, and carry them into a hut. The irony here is that our team spent the day building walls. We built several walls of a school from mud.

I was processing the words of Nehemiah on the way to the build site. I had no idea how prophetic these words were about to become.

After lunch we formed an assembly line to transfer the giant mud balls the locals would roll. Jeff would pass one to me, I to Greg, Greg to Brittany, Brittany to Whitney, Whitney to a local boy… As it says in Nehemiah chapter three, “and next to so and so stood…. and next to so and so stood…” and this team Nehemiah talks about, rebuilds the city walls.

Hours after reading that, here we were, mud to our knees, building walls as a team. As fellow believers in Jesus who are uniting to create something beautiful. We created a school where students will learn, gain knowledge, and have better opportunities for their future.

Just like Nehemiah said, each person had a role to fulfill. We needed each other to make the project come together. We were each pieces to a puzzle uniquely created by God to join together and serve.

It was an exhausting day for all of us. Our calf muscles ached from treading in the mud. Our arms we sore form passing bowling ball size mud ball to each other. When we wrapped up we biked back to AHI to clean up, rest, and share dinner together again.

I’m praising God continually for this experience. For the beauty. For the community and fellowship had together.

It is now Monday morning, we will begin driving several hours north today, but not all the way to Gulu. We don’t exactly know what today will bring, except I did hear something about hippos.





Find Your Teammates!

October 19, 2013

As I concluded typing my last post about our dinner and conversations about Bob Goff inviting us into a pretty epic story… the wilderness slowly began to awaken.

What started with roosters echoing one another turned into worship. Yes, worship. Around 5am, the sound of drums began to get louder and louder and then voices singing and shouting praises. There is a school nearby, and I’m not sure if the students woke up early on this Sunday morning for a worship service, or if they do this each day.

It’s now just after 7am, and the forest is loud as can be! I’m amazed at the volume created by the birds, the cattle, the goats, and an assortment of animal sounds I’ve never heard in my entire life. It turns out there were monkeys chattering too.

I decided to leave my room and walk a short distance to the beautiful outdoor area Maggie calls “the porch”. It’s beautiful. Cozy. A very relaxing area to read, socialize, or just listen to God.

If I use the word beautiful a lot, it’s because this area is truly breathtaking. It’s incredible.

Greg, (a pilot from Seattle who has joined Bob on several vision trips) said that one morning he woke up early and came to read on the porch. He said Bob was already awake and sitting down in front of the fireplace. (where I am sitting as I type this) He said it was early, but Bob’s fingers were bouncing off of his laptops keyboard. Bob looked to Greg and said “I’ve gotta get his book finished, the publisher wants a draft in two days!” Bob was wrapping up Love Does while on a vision trip.

As Deborah put it, (Bob’s assistant) Bob is fueled on Jesus, pop-tarts and red bull. He just keeps on going!

I opened my bible this morning and decided I would read whatever book I opened directly to. Oddly enough, that book was Nehemiah.

Bob reminds me of what a modern day Nehemiah would look like.

In chapter three, verse seventeen you begin to see the phrase “Next to him…” repeated over and over. When Bob invited each of us to Uganda, a group of strangers, I wondered “what good can a few of us do while in Uganda? Is it really worth it? In just a few days, what change can we make?” In my mind, I played through all of these scenarios… “is it even worth it?” – I have mixed opinions about short term “missions trips”.

I think it’s very easy for us to feel insignificant in the Kingdom of God. We wonder if the work we are doing really matters. Does it even make a difference? This is doubt creeping in…

This morning when I opened my door to walk to the porch, a very large, gnarly looking ant came meandering into my room. I instinctively stomped on it. Never in my life have I heard a sound like what I heard from stepping on this ant. It was like an egg shells breaking. A loud “crunch”. Have you ever heard an ant crunch? I haven’t, not until this morning.

This is what doubt looks like and sounds like. When God opens a door to a life changing opportunity, doubt inevitably comes creeping in. You can let doubt enter, if you’d like. I’m sure more doubt will continue to enter… Or, you can stomp on the doubt. Squish it. Put an end to it. Once you’ve crushed the doubt, walk through the door God has opened, and don’t look back.

When you stomp on doubt, you’ll hear a noise. You’ll hear the crunch of fear dying.

I’m sure these men Nehemiah speaks of had doubts. I’m sure they felt like their role was far too small. But when you begin to stand next to one another and fight for peace and justice, incredible things begin to happen.

Who are you standing next to in your fight? You are not alone. Don’t think that for a second you are alone! Squash the doubt!

I’m thankful that Bob has called this group of strangers to be apart of the Restore International story. I’m blessed to be apart of this. I had many doubts about my role here, but I’m thankful for those who helped me put an end to my doubts.

Put an end to your doubts. Crunch them. Walk through the door God has opened, and don’t look back.

God has assembled a team to bring His kingdom here on Earth. Find your teammates. Stand side by side and begin changing the world.



“Hey! Come to Uganda!”

October 19, 2013

As I type this it’s about 4:00am here, Sunday Morning in Kakooge, Uganda. Which means it’s only 8pm Saturday night back home. I think my body is slightly confused about the time change.

Saturday morning, after we departed the Restore Girls Home, we drove out into the bush. For several hours we were stuck in traffic due to road construction.

I’m not exactly sure how many miles we traveled, it was probably not very far, but due to the road conditions, it took us around 4 hours to arrive at AHI.

We are way off of the grid here. This area is very jungle like. Extremely gorgeous though an truly breathtaking! This place is called the African Hospitality Institute. It trains a small group of students (8 – 12) on how to become job creators. Not simply how to get a job, but how to create one. Entrepenure style teaching takes place here at AHI. The ranch is insanely gorgeous. Lush greens everywhere. Tall grass, and trees. Everything here is powered by solar.

(I just heard a plethora of roosters begin to crow. I assume the sun is coming up shortly. Hearing the roosters reminds me of home. 🙂

Last night the AHI students served us dinner. They do what they can to try and operate AHI as a 4 or 5 start hotel. This gives the students a real idea of what life is like in the business world. This place is owned and operated by a woman named Maggie Josiah. She has been gifted with hospitality! Maggie’s story is one of brokenness and tragedy. Much like the stories of the young women at Restore Girls Home from yesterday morning. Maggie was abused most of her life. She grew up in L.A. and faced incredible hardships.

(I’m not sure if you can find her story on youtube, but maybe you can try searching for the Maggie Josiah story to hear more.)

At age 50 she left L.A, bound for Uganda, and created AHI. Last year, the 10 students that graduated had awesome job placement before graduation day even arrived! Praise God!

The dinner was spectacular. The food was great! I’m not saying that it was great in comparison to the age of the students who prepared it, but if I had ordered this same meal at a fancy restaurant, I would have been equally impressed.

Over dinner we each shared our “Bob” story. Each of us had a story about Bob Goff that ended up bringing this group of strangers to the heart of Uganda.

My story begins back in May of 2010. I had just finished reading A Million Miles In A Thousand Years and felt an overwhelming need to DO SOMETHING bigger with my life. A lot of this book is based on how Bob changed Donald Millers outlook on life. He gave Don great inspiration and helped shape Don’s story.

I began following this guy Bob on twitter. He always had some really profound twitter post. Each post included the two words “Love Does”. I wanted to create a non-profit that could help put love into action. I thought this phrase “Love Does” was a perfect name for the non-profit.

On May 12th of 2010 I created a Love Does twitter account and began the ground work for the website. Things were going well in the creative process of getting a framework started. I dabbled with the web design on and off until January 25th of 2012. Just a few days before my son Nehemiah was born, I got a phone call from Bob explaining to me that he was wrapping up his book that Don told him to write. As he was wrapping it up, he decided to go with the title Love Does. He said I could continue my work with the non-profit and there was nothing to worry about… Then, several days later I received another call from Bob. The publishers at Thomas Nelson decided they didn’t like the idea of an organization with the same name as the book… they assumed there could be some confusion. I told Bob “I’ll email you the twitter password, the domain information, it’s all yours!”

Honestly though, I had no idea what I was doing with this non-profit. I knew what direction I wanted to take it, but I didn’t know exactly how to take it there. I assume the guy who asked Bob to acquire the twitter handle was Michael Hyatt. Who is a very driven man, and after reading his book Platform, I now have a better understanding on how to launch such an idea.

So, anyway… that was my Bob story. If you follow @lovedoes on twitter, or if you’ve seen the website, I used to operate those.

We concluded over dinner that Bob Goff is crazy. There might be something wrong with him. We are not sure what exactly, but he is nuts.

A guy named Nick shared the story about when Bob came to speak at their church plant. Hoboken Church, in New Jersey. They were a church of around 400 people, and when Bob spoke, they had 900 people show up to hear him. Nick said that the night before Bob shared, they took him to a Brazilian barbecue. (If you’ve never been to a Brazilian barbecue and have no idea what one is, google it.)

The waiters bring you endless amounts of meat. Amazingly delicious meats. Nick said that as each waiter brought Bob a cut of meat to choose from Bob would say “Hi! I’m Bob! Whats your dream? What do you want to do in life? Tell me about yourself!” – these waiters were perplexed. They typically just delivered meat and walked away. I’m sure a customer has never asked them profound questions like this before. Nick said the meat would begin to pile up on Bob’s plate (Bob never switched his eating card to red, meaning stop) and Bob would talk and talk to these waiters. Nick said at one point he informed Bob to look at his plate, and perhaps eat some of the food instead of talking so much.

This is Bob.

He loves to hear geniune stories. He loves to meet people. He’d rather talk and hear about your ambitions in life than sit there and eat delicious steak. He loves people!

Everybody had a different Bob story, but they all ended with Bob saying “Hey, come to Uganda!” and that’s how we, a bunch of strangers, all ended up eating dinner in the bush of Uganda.

Bob didn’t bring us together though. Don’t assume that. Jesus did. Jesus gave Bob a giant heart to love people, and through Jesus working in Bob’s life, there we sat, sharing stories, eating food, enjoying community.



Hope Still Flies!

October 19, 2013

When did you feel the furthest away from God? When did you feel like He wasn’t real? Have you ever shaken your fist at Him and blamed him for your hurt and pain?

I can think of a handful of times when I was pretty mad at God, and had my “why God? Why?!” moments. Many people have become atheists because of their “why God?!” moments.

Usually in tragedy, we lose hope. It’s easy to get scared in the midst of a great storm. The disciples were terrified before they woke up Jesus to calm their storm. King David had many “why God?!” moments too. It’s usually in the storm, the chaos, the frustration, the anxiety, the hurt… that we lose sight of Jesus and His great love for us.

As I’ve grown, I’ve come to realize that any of the “hardships” I’ve faced in life, really weren’t all that “hard”. I thought they were at the time, but really… I’ve had a good life. A very blessed life. I’m thankful for the ways in which Jesus has watched over me, shaped me, and taught me life lessons without facing any great loss.

This morning, Saturday October 19th, we visited Restore Girls Home in Kampala. There lived 18 girls from ages 12 to 18 and three staff members whom the girls refer to as “auntie”. These girls each came from a different background. They each had a different story. Heartbreaking stories. Most of which would have caused many people to deny that a loving God truly exists.

We began our time together with worship and dancing. If you don’t like dancing during worship, then it’s “to bad for you!” they will make you dance! After worship we got to hear the stories about how these girls ended up at Restore Girls Home.

Imagine your parents telling you one day… “I love you my child, but I can no longer afford to take care of you, you need to live with your grandmother.” Then a few months later your grandmother saying “I love you my granddaughter, but I can no longer afford to take care of you, you need to live with your aunt”. Then a few months later, your aunt says the same thing. And so on…

Soon, you are on your own. There is nobody to take care of you and you have no money. You become forced to live on the streets. Many of these girls find themselves turning to prostitution for money to eat and survive. Some are forced to get married at a shockingly young age. Others are taken and trafficked for sex.

One girl shared her story. It went from bad, to worse, to total disparity… What was remarkable about her story though, is that in each situation, in each moment of chaos, she said she still knew Jesus was there and that he would see her through this. As the situation worsened, she continued to pray, and remained hopeful that Jesus would show up and change the situation. She experienced things no child should ever endure, and even in the final, most hopeless situation, she still remained confident that Jesus would show up and take care of her.

She never lost faith, she never gave up hope.

In this storm, she was able to find shelter in Restore Girls Home. Jesus is still very much alive today. In her despair, Jesus placed her in contact with this home, and she praises Jesus daily for it. She now has a new family, 17 beautiful sisters that love her, take care of her, and do life together.

These girls receive counseling, they practice art and dance together. They cook together, learn together, and have created a new chapter together. These girls were stuck in a terrible story. A real life nightmare. Yet each believed that God was still there, and that he would see them through.

Sometimes we face a small tragedy and get really frustrated with God. We may even turn to Him and say “Do you even love me?!” The answer is yes! He does love you! These stories should teach us all, each and every one of us, that just because you may be stuck in a bad chapter, doesn’t mean you are stuck in a bad story. Don’t look at your current tragedy and say “it’s all over… hope is gone…” Look up! As Five Iron Frenzy puts it “HOPE STILL FLIES!!!” – even in a dark and stormy night.

Live courageously and live knowing that “It’s not over”. Every great character must go through conflict before a story gains meaning.

Because of Restore, these girls have a new purpose and new meaning for their lives. If you are thinking “why would God allow such atrocities to happen?” I think it’s because He wants you and me to be the solution. He wants us to get out and be the answer to the chaos in the world. Much like Bob Goff and Restore is doing globally. I’m not sure why we think the solution is so far beyond our ability, God has equipped us, he has instructed us, we just need to listen, and bring His hope to those who are not hopeless, but waiting for it to arrive.



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