Saturday, February 25, 2006

Gone Fishin'

I'll be gone for a while - driving down south this afternoon to Slidell, Louisiana, with a team of folks. We are going to help rebuild some of the houses that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Keep us in prayer. See you next month, Lord willing.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Thirty-Six Days Later :: part three

Continued from this post...

Time went on and things got better between me and my friend. Maybe they got worse first, and then better – but they did get better. I eventually began to learn the value and wisdom of opening up, communcating. I even discovered value (and enjoyment) in the art of conversation, be it deep or casual. My friend began to learn the disciplines of rest and silence. We had grown.

Eventually, we headed back to the States, both of us just a little wiser - just a little. Wounds healed. God gave us wives and jobs and seminary training and more dreams. Time has passed, but that strange seduction, the lure of the field, haunts me from the edges of my mind (my, how that field does beckon!) Time has passed, but I have never forgotten what my friend said. It still rings in my ears, my head, my heart. It remains a moment of still clarity in my life.

“Because I care more about your holiness than about your friendship.”

Not many people will ever say that to you. Even fewer will have weighed the deeper meaning therein and can say it with deep meaning. But if they do, you listen because that is a person who cares deeply for you - but even more deeply for Christ. That is a person of proper priority. That is a person who will take bullets for you, not simply for your own sake, but for the sake of displaying the greatness of the glory of the grace of God. That is a person who would have you walk well and humbly with Christ, despite yourself. That is a person who knows how to love you best, because they love Christ first. It is grace and truth spoken in eleven words, beautiful and terrible.

“Because I care more about your holiness than about your friendship.”

Those are not easy words to speak - and woe to the fool who should ever speak them flippantly, thoughtlessly. Say those words, and you'd better truly be willing to let go of that friendship for the greater sake of holiness. My friend was the first to ever speak them into my life. Other people have come into my life since and spoke those words, though not so much with their mouths, but certainly with their lives as they walk with me. Those individuals are blood of my blood, closer than brothers. And though I’ve yet to speak those words with my mouth, I hope my life says it back to each of them.

“Because I care more about your holiness than about your friendship.”


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Gratuitous Valentine's Day Post

We were made for relationships. Whether in the context of friendship, romantic dating and courtship, familial, or marital, relationships are the source of both our greatest joys and our most profound wounds. God Himself has always been in relationship before He even created us (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) - and has created us primarily to be in relationship with Him. This primary relationship with Him will then be expressed in relationships with others (see Matthew 22:36-40).

To understand the basis of relationships, especially male/female relationships, it's vital to understand roles. We live in a day and time where our God-given roles are no longer celebrated, but blurred and confused. But God Himself has given men and women specific roles to fulfill, roles that strengthen, bond, and compliment relationships.

Here is a teaching I recently gave on the subject:


Monday, February 13, 2006

Thirty-Six Days Later :: part two

Continued from last post...

But there we were, nevertheless, standing in our dingy kitchen five thousand miles from home yelling at each other over Lord knows what. He wouldn’t shut up. I wouldn’t open up. For months it had been that way, our friendship slowly disintegrating because I didn’t know how to communicate, and it seemed to me he didn’t know how to stop communicating.

I didn’t want accountability. I didn’t want depth. I didn’t want to talk about my day or my life or much of anything really. And simply because I was being pushed in that direction, I refused to go. I guess I just didn’t see the value of it at the time. Besides - it was easier to hide in silence. I wanted easy believability, not the sparks and noise and pain of iron on iron. For these reasons, our relationship had slowly devolved of the course of several months from buddy-buddy, to civil tolerance, to silent misery. Silent misery eventually erupted, volcanic and volatile.

I’d never heard my friend curse before. We were Christians, for Christ’s sake.

And so there we stood, fists balled, faces red, veins popping. The refugee tilework on the floor took on a red tinge as head-pounding anger nearly blocked out all rational thought in my brain. I remember yelling something to the effect of “Why the hell do you keep pushing me? Why won’t you get off my friggin’ back?!” His response was somehow both perfectly simple and exceedingly profound at the same time.

His response was a moment of clarity.

“Because I care more about your holiness than about your friendship.”

I had little insight as to what those words meant at the time, only that in my anger they initially struck me as a stupid, arrogant thing to say. What did he know about holiness, anyway?

But I couldn’t shake the implications of his words.

“Because I care more about your holiness than about your friendship.”

[ part 3 ]

Friday, February 10, 2006

Thirty-Six Days Later :: part one

“Because I care more about your holiness than about your friendship.”

Roughly five years ago to the month, I stood in the dingy kitchen of an apartment approximately five thousand miles from here and listened to a man I thought was my friend speak those words into my life. He is my friend – closer than a brother - but at that moment, I questioned it.

We’d been on the field for several months at that point and were coming to the end of the proverbial honeymoon phase. “End of the honeymoon” doesn’t quite capture the true flavor of the moment, though. It was more like watching a couple of flies kill themselves by repeatedly hurling their bodies against a window. No good can come of that, little friends - best just to move on.

We had certainly moved on, or so we had thought. Being there, five thousand miles away, certainly seemed like a good idea when we graduated college nearly a year ago – two buddies servin’ the Lord abroad, a couple of young hotrod Jim Elliot wannabes, laying it all on the line for Jesus. There’s a romantic notion to missionary work, or most any such service to Christ. There is this secret, seductive lure that somehow draws you in: it is the same thing young boys feel when they lie about their age to sign up for military service. It is both honorable and ignorant, for though they have played at war, they know not yet the deep horrors of real war.

So the “call” comes and if you’re listening, you pick up. You buy the field. You’re pretty sure in that field is a harvest, somewhere. So you make your little sacrifices, you count your little costs; you leave things and people behind for the sake of a greater something, something bigger than yourself. It all looks nice on paper. It reads well in books. It sounds cool from jazzed-up conference speakers. The reality of digging in that field, however, was much different than the dreams my friend and I had dreamt. Reality, it seemed, had snuck up on us with a sixty-pound sledgehammer, and was then going to town on our spiritual little backsides (and that in a most un-dreamlike fashion, I might add.)

Those jazzed-up conference speakers had forgotten to mention that to me.

[ part 2 ]