travel and destination

No, as a matter of fact I don’t like to travel.

These are the words I say inside my head at least, when a well-meaning person observes that ‘You must really like to travel …’ because my work requires so much of it. More than two million miles of air miles, in fact. I wear them more as a slight limp than as a badge of honor.

Truth be told, I could live a full and satisfied life if I never again climbed onto a plane, awoke to the enervating smell of cigarette smoke curling in from my neighbor’s room in a ‘smoke-free’ hotel, transited from one side of Germany’s Frankfurt International Airport at 7:00 a.m. with an overnight transatlantic flight behind me and a four-hour flight to Lebanon ahead, missed my connection by 45 seconds and so become consigned to a long check-in line in the airport hotel.

But is it worth it?

Absolutely it is. At least I think so in my most centered moments when I realize anew how short life is and what a privilege it is to invest mine in some of the finest people on this planet.

Like the folks at London’s Pars Theological Centre, for example, the hosts last week of a periodic Middle East project meeting I chair. The interwoven grace and competence of these Iranian brothers and sisters draws a guy in like honey draws bees.

At the drop of a hat over a delicious Persian lunch, they treat us to knowledgeable, in-depth consideration of the recent Iranian deal with the Western powers. They let drop tales of their lives as involuntary expats. They speak with stunning perceptiveness about the beguiling layers of spiritual life in today’s Middle East.

As members of the Iranian diaspora—a sizable community in cities like London and Los Angeles—a winsomeness for the old country lingers about them. Most cannot go home, so home—as insider-outsiders everywhere will understand—has become London. More or less, depending on how strongly the pull of Teheran and undying love for those left behind pulls the heart with its tidal strength.

Yet these are the kind of folk—you find them in Johannesburg and Mexico City and Kiev and Frankfurt—who live their lives leaning into the future rather than pining for the past.

A deeply biblical worldview nourishes this rooting in hope. Where others might write off this country or that as a lost cause, followers of Jesus like my London-based Iranian friends sense in their bones that good things are just getting underway. Though deadly serious about the perils of Christian calling in a place like the Islamic Republic of Iran, they are profoundly committed to what they understand to be God’s purpose for their people.

So they labor on, with all that winsome grace and competence that I find so very appealing.

Is it worth the miles to blow a bit of wind into the sails of such folk?

Ask me again when I hit three million miles of air time. But at two million, I can say as I limp: Absolutely.

The person whose life has become saturated by grace notices that God has gone before every good thing. And from after every good moment, the grace-saturated Christian credits only God.

Paul is accustomed to the sweat-soaked believer. To be a follower of Jesus it to work one’s fingers to the bone, to collapse happily weary after a long day of beating back the jungles of one’s own soul and serving those who surround. The implicit commitment to a story much bigger than one’s own short path draws out of the disciple of Jesus exertions of which she would not have considered herself capable. Continue Reading »

I did not expect to think of Sammy today.

Poor Blind Sammy, our rescued Rhodesian Ridgeback with his sick eyes surgically removed, left us before this year’s Spring sun had found its way to warming his long wheaten body. We were an ocean away. The stricken dogsitter’s voice reported through the phone that Sammy had gone out to lie down in his favorite place along the fence and fallen asleep. Inexplicably, he never awoke.

Tender friends had seen to his cremation before we could get home. Continue Reading »

Human personality is a garden to be tended.

It requires persistent weeding, seeding and overseeing, all the mundane and patient labors that stand unseen behind a riot of color.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31–32 NIV)

For most of us, there is no easy path to the temperament and conduct that reflect a Creator’s and Savior’s presence within and make us worth remembering. Continue Reading »

Ya tengo semanas de estar escuchando que algunas personas están hablando de un eminente “rapto” o “arrebatamiento” de la iglesia. Además, se dice que éste ocurrirá en el mes de setiembre del presente año. Al principio no le presté atención, más últimamente veo como el rumor crece como una ola por medio de post, los banner, los mensajes en las redes sociales. La alerta mayor llegó cuando hablando con un amigo en mi país, me compartía que su hija llegó a la casa preocupada porque en la iglesia donde asiste, el pastor principal estaba anunciado algo similar. Y por supuesto, al ser una mega iglesia, el rumor se esparce más. Continue Reading »

To tell the truth is often difficult and occasionally excruciating. People of good will do not love the ‘hard conversations’ that life thrusts upon us. Rather, we endure them. We sometimes abhor the anticipation of them, frequently tremble through them, and with some regularity second-guess our execution of them. Continue Reading »

YHWH hears the cry of the poor. So must you.

This, in a nutshell, is the utterly realistic instruction of one core feature of biblical wisdom. Occasionally, self-interest is invoked.

Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered. (Proverbs 21:13 ESV)

One unanswerable query that can be directed at the biblical ethic is this: Are we to understand that YHWH supernaturally intervenes to enact the consequences of generosity and stinginess upon the life of their perpetrator? Or are we to accept that we are all constructing culture where the practices we employ will in time circle back to bless us or crush us? Continue Reading »


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