By Jeff Goins, Editor
Bill Dahl started a site called The Porpoise-Diving Life and has authored a book by the same title, both of which have received a lot of attention on the web, and we wanted to pick his brain about it a little bit.
Whats the deal with porpoise-diving? Whered you get the inspiration for the idea, much less the book and blog?
To be perfectly honest, I was sitting at a writers conference in February 2005 and it just popped into my head. I lived in southern California at the time. I would go for walks on the beach and watch the Porpoise in utter amazement. When I got back from the conference, I started writing the manuscript. Jesus never promised us that our existence in this world and journey of faith with Him would be without pain, uncertainty, the unexpected, the incomprehensible and hardship. My life has certainly NOT been that way. Life has its ups and downs like a Porpoise swimming across the surface of the ocean. I thought: Perhaps theres 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. Its The Porpoise Diving Life. Life is filled with ups and downs, gasping for breath, playing on the surface and foraging for sustenance in the depths. People need to hear this truth from the Gospel through the life of Jesus that has practical application to their lives today, not conveyed as some sort of formula-based, 40-day book that these people wont even read. Jesus lived The Porpoise Diving Life. Scripture proves that. Im not a gimmicky guy. I cant pretend to explain to you why God decided to do what Hes 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.
What do you have against Rick Warren and the Purpose-Driven Life? Is your site meant to be a criticism of what many are calling fast faith or something else?
As I have stated publicly, I have been blessed by the work of Rick Warren and his book, The Purpose Driven Life. So has my wife and millions of people (forty some odd million I have been told bought the book). The sheer numbers would lead any knuckle-head to appreciate the fact that God continues to pour out his blessings on people in the manner He sees fit. If people want to bash Rick Warren, and the way he has been used by God to dispense tremendous blessings to so many, well, they can have at it. I just dont want any part of it. I encourage people to consider Pastor Warrens contribution and 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 Warrenites did, or are doing. Frankly, we may have the opinion that the Warrenites 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 Warrenites 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) (pastor Warrens writing certainly did that for me), as reference material that cause us to intentionally evaluate the coordinates and mission for our own, ongoing, expedition. As Ive written, its all about us. Were 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, those who might journey on other paths, as well as the content and tenor of the dialogue amongst ourselves.
You say, Its all about us. It’s up to us… God, you and me. Do some people accuse you of being narcissistic or humanistic? How do you respond to them?
No, not at all. Dr. Tony Campolo has written: Being a Christian isnt just believing in God and being good. It involves a commitment to change the world. Christians are expected to be part of a movement that will make the world that is, into the world that ought to be.
Another author truly captures the essence of what I am saying in my book in the following: We yearn to be become Gods healing hands and feet: 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.
The passages in the Bible that we become most familiar with may leave us with the impression that Ive got that one down pat. I find that my understanding of Gods Word, even the most familiar passages, changes over time. Verses that I have not understood take on new dimensions of meaning for me. The Scripture that I have become familiar with develops new applications in my life as circumstances change, and the world around me continues to evolve. Im very grateful for this. I have come to appreciate the truth that Gods Word is alive, capable of expressing His truth, no matter what the season or the circumstances. We remnants must prepare ourselves to be enlightened by a new, pertinent application of Gods Word to our lives, the emerging role of the church, and our approach to the current state of the world around us.
If you had to boil down the Gospel of Jesus to a one- or two-sentence description, what would it be?
Look to Me and Learn to Live as My Love – My precious little lambs. 1 Corinthians: 8:2 – The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.
What are your thoughts on predestination/election and free will? How does all that work out for you, and why does it matter?
Life would be terribly boring if your everyday experience was truly predetermined by your Creator at birth. Why even get up in the morning? I guess we have choices that impact what actually happens in our lives. He designed us and life that way. Ill never die skydiving. Why? Because I am neither brave nor dumb enough to jump out of an airplane with a nylon sheet strapped to my back that was put together by some guy Ive never met named Charlie. It just aint gonna happen. If your life is like mine, choices primarily make the significant differences in what happen
s in life. Ive made some poor ones, some good ones, some that I regret, some I wish I could forget and countless others I cant recall. Predetermined by God fat chance. Im not alone.
Predestination/election and free will – Thats one of the themes that threads throughout the book and one of the primary things people tell me they truly appreciate about it.
Bonus question: Arent dolphins and porpoises different? (Bill has pictures of dolphins on his site The Porpoise-Diving Life).
Yes they are, of course. They are different species, as I write in the book: 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 dont 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: 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? Wheres God? Am I some sort of exception? Is there a reality for the rest of us?”
If you liked this article, check out: So Much for Being Purpose Driven
Jeff graduated from Illinois College , a small liberal arts school, with a degree in Spanish and Religion. He lives in Nashville, TN. He works for Adventures in Missions, edits Wrecked, and got married in January 2008.