Monday, March 28, 2005

$250k and sleep needed

A happy Easter weekend to all! There is certainly much to rejoice about, and nothing greater than the risen Christ. We may be fools to the world for our faith, yet if indeed Christ was raised from the dead, our hope allows us the freedom to find rest, fight, and hope in the Gospel truth.

I find myself in a hotel room in Colorado Springs tonight, ready to sleep a little before flying back to Nashville at sunrise. I flew here this morning and joined Jena and Joel for Blood:Water Mission meetings with Compassion. The agenda was somewhat nondescript...basically an opportunity to bring our passions and efforts to the table and say, "Any ideas on how this could interact?". It was a joy to hear the heart and vision of Compassion--and see it in action with excellence. God uses so many arms and legs and knees and ears and mouths in His kingdom to bring glory to Himself while bringing healing to this world.

You may be wondering about the $250k in the title...well, K-LOVE and Air One radio hosted a 12 hour telethon last Thursday for Blood:Water Mission (and the 1000 Wells Project specifically) over their 500 stations nationwide. Up front we knew that generally $50-80,000 is brought in through similar events. Jars and Jena and Joel manned the mics throughout the telethon, stationed in California. I called them a few hours into it and they had already reached $50,000! A long story short, by the end of the telethon we had raised $250,000!!! What a huge encouragement as we move forward and try to be good stewards of God's gifts on earth, here and in Africa. Words are few to describe the day, but may God use these and future gifts to His glory. He is faithful, and gives far beyond expectations in everything.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

tillers and more

We had a great weekend with Cari's dad and sister (Lindy) over the weekend, though it went much too fast. Our neighbor let us borrow his tiller on Saturday, and I spent most of the afternoon getting tilled while tilling the garden...remembering his words: "When you eat a fresh tomato from your garden in July, you'll be thankful for the hard work you put into it." I woke up Sunday morning a little sore from the work, but we accomplished so much. After tilling the 14 x 20 plot a few times, we'd fill up the ol' wheelbarrow with the grassy soil and then till some more. We also pulled his truck around the back yard and used a chain to pull up some stumps of the many weed trees that had overgrown. That alone saved us many hours of digging with shovels, only to chase roots around underground.

I'm working with Rick again this week, cutting drywall patches, jacking up a floor, painting...a little bit of everything. We moved a couple of windows and took care of the siding patching last week. I'm learnind a bunch and having lots of fun in the midst of it.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Tolerance and Love

Tolerance has become one of the most popular terms when describing relationships between people and cultures. The focus of articles, conversations, sermons, and political dialogue, it has become the ideal great solution to the problems in this world. Is there division in the city? Try tolerance. Does your neighbor offend you? Use tolerance. Are you upset with the way other cultures act and react? Learn tolerance. We often sacrifice emotive responses like mercy, anger, grace, mirth, shame, forgiveness, and reconciliation in order to try to wrap our arms, minds, and hearts around the idea of tolerance.

This great dialogue about tolerance has revealed the desires in any human heart to relate rightly with friends, strangers, and even enemies. It promotes the dim reflection we all yearn to see in its fullness and grandeur—the lion laying in harmony with the lamb in a beautiful landscape that has no imperfections and is filled with happiness. Though tolerance resonates across borders and property lines for this very reason, perhaps it can produce only a limited glimpse of that picture. Does tolerance go the distance and promote sustaining change, or merely “put up with,” creating a false and short-lived sense of acceptance?

In the scope of centuries and millennia, history overflows with examples of the failure of tolerance. Since some may say that those failures were do to poor implementation and not a reflection of its true nature, an understanding of its purpose and character is vital. Tolerance exists because man is fallen and does not live in a perfect world…it is a means to fill that void and bring creation back to what it is supposed to be. It champions giving worth and value to people and promoting fairness, as well as bringing humanity to a closer knit family that can coexist and succeed.

But tolerance also revolves around the self and selfishness, even as it takes a stand for other-centeredness. It does not always presuppose moral under girding or absolute truth; instead the picture of tolerance varies from person to person, culture to culture. It is a great idea by intention on paper that plays out quite differently and poorly in practice. It promotes an endless circle that unfortunately perpetuates frustration and dissatisfaction. There is never enough tolerance, and the more it is sought, the more its need grows.

A widely held view (across cultures and worldviews) is that tolerance is the way of loving those we disagree with or don’t understand. Lived out, this idea may occasionally add a trophy to the case or give warm fuzzies, but it has no depth or substance. Tolerance can never be more than a counterfeit love, on the outside looking fine and similar, yet worth nothing in truth. It bears resemblances, and can be mistaken and accepted for the real thing. Yet it can never be love. It falls short no matter how valiant the effort.

In fact, tolerance is deadening. It does not give life to relationships, but rather confines and kills. When I tolerate someone, there is already a distinction drawn between us. We are different, maybe greatly or perhaps just in certain ways. But if I’m regarded as tolerating someone, there is work to be done. It is not validating—it is a false respect or honor of someone. Tolerance promotes loneliness in its very character. It stills the desire to build a relationship with someone, instead focusing on how to settle for one another. It is a half-love, that never allows for anything more, lest it ceases to be tolerance. If tolerance is the goal, then dissatisfaction is unavoidable. Tolerance is measured, but only in negative terms…only promoting more of it, and more terrifying effects.

Love, on the other hand, is poured out. In its nature, it cannot be confined or deadened. It breathes life into, even when applied in discipline. Love presumes that things should more closely relate, not simply coexist. Love is empowering and freeing, shedding the weight of counterfeits.

In the garden God gave a mandate to be fruitful and multiply for His kingdom’s sake. Man exists for His glory. Every aspect of life is for this purpose. We are relational people, beyond work and self…we are created to live together for His glory, otherwise He would have created Adam and said, “it is enough.” If our very essence is to relate, then love is the consummation of that mandate. It is relationship coming to fruition. Since it is ordained by Him, we find harmony and right-relationship through endurance and encouragement granted by God. Only in this way can we begin to find unity in our inherited diversity, with the goal of glorifying God with one voice. We shrug off motives of personal happiness and self-advancement for His kingdom’s sake, and simultaneously give and receive blessings beyond our imagination.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you for the glory of God.” Notice the difference if you substitute tolerate for welcome in those words. Are we prompted to serve justice and mercy to our neighbor by tolerating them as God tolerates them? How motivating is that? This is the offering and sacrifice required of God: Not tolerance, the half-love and confiner, but acceptance and love—our very being and gift of life. We taste the kingdom to come and bring it to bear on earth.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

You are patient

My thanks to you for still checking in even though I've not posted in a week! Sorry for my negligence...the last week has been a blur, but still I wish I had written during that time. I worked with my friend Rick Puncochar at a house he's remodeling down the road from us. He loves to do the work that he enjoys while hiring out specific areas (plumbing, electrical, etc.), and I've been his "cut man" and sidekick, helping repair the floor boards, hang dry wall, and so forth. It is a joy to work with him and have our thinking breaks, where one of us brings up something we're thinking about or struggling with and we discuss it. That may sound cerebral or silly, but in reality it has been a great source of joy and unity. I'll be working with him the rest of this week as well, hanging some new windows and working more in the kitchen area.

Yesterday and today I've been working with Mitch Dane on another project of his. I played electric bass on a few songs, but most of it has been on the upright...a joy and a challenge at the same time! I'm thankful that I've been able to pick it up after months and still feel comfortable on it. I just wish I could buy one! I've had gracious friends who've allowed me to use their basses, but one day I hope to own one and not have to worry about the differences in each bass.

If any of you receive the 850 newsletter from Relevant, be sure to read my article on tolerance and love. I'm checking to see if it will be on their website anytime soon. I'll try to post it here tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


I think I'm pretty much adjusted back to the central time zone and family life at home. I came home on Friday to a weekend with Sam, which went well, but mom was definitely missed. She had a delightful time on a retreat with other women from City Church. Since her return, we've helped each other catch up on sleep because she has been just as tired from her weekend.

I was with some brothers yesterday morning, and they asked for a summary of my trip. Though I didn't have the same investment in the Philipinnes as Africa, I still valued our experience and came away with some thoughts to share. First, I am humbled and awed by the way God's Spirit moves throughout the world...His kingdom on earth. To spend 30+ hours in airports and airplanes as well as cover enough time zones to be 14 hours ahead of central time, yet still experience the joys and sorrows of fellow believers was incredible. Unfortunately we didn't travel outside the city much, so we only saw certain views of their world. But we saw the effects of the fall--poverty, hunger, socio-economic divides--as well as the effects of God's presence and people---meeting needs, passion for His kingdom.

I also realized (again) my joy in playing music to worship and serve God. This was my first show with Jars since Thanksgiving, other than a short new year's eve event, and I saw the Spirit move through hands and voices and gifts in this beautiful and unique manner. I'm thankful for the opportunities to do this both in the studio and live...and look forward to each one as it comes.

Returning to life in Nashville has thankfully been a gracious process. Though I had some studio work on Saturday, I've been able to relax a little and recuperate. Its been refreshing to reconnect with family, as phone calls were 50 cents/minute (thankfully we could chat with ichat/instant messenger some of the time free of charge), and nothing compares to one on one time! I will be working with our friend Rick down the street for a few days, continuing to remodel a house...which I enjoy greatly.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Almost not there yet

That phrase was uttered many times by myself and my traveling companions in the past 48 hours. Nonsensical, yes...but that's what traveling back across the pacific does to you as you lose a day (ok, not really) and watch the sun go down twice. All this to say we are home and anxious to rest. Thanks for prayers, and I am going to bed now.

Almost not there yet

That phrase was uttered many times by myself and my traveling companions in the past 48 hours. Nonsensical, yes...but that's what traveling back across the pacific does to you as you lose a day (ok, not really) and watch the sun go down twice. All this to say we are home and anxious to rest. Thanks for prayers, and I am going to bed now.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

a chance to reflect

Time has moved so quickly here in the Philippines. It feels like we're just getting settled, yet we fly home tomorrow evening. Somehow we've managed to fit 2 shows in different cities over less than 72 hours! Cebu was much different than had a more relaxed feel, even though we were in the 2nd largest city. Cebu was an "island" city, where we felt like a beach was always nearby and a slower pace was evident. Though traffic seemed a little chaotic, we had no idea what Manilla would be like.

I enjoyed a good night's sleep after the show in Cebu, and a fine breakfast the next morning. We headed to the airport and flew to Manila, landing around 1pm. Someone in Cebu had asked us if we'd have security with us in Manila, and we said we didn't know...we hadn't thought about it. Well, we met our security team at the baggage claim--4 stout guys who are hired often for the same deal with other artists and speakers from abroad when they come to Manila. They obviously are there to give "security" assistance, but also to help you relax during your stay (my opinion) and not worry about where you're going and your surroundings as much.

We had a police escort from the airport to the hotel, which we were immediately thankful for...traffic was insane and the driving even more chaotic. The escort was 2 motorcycle cops in front of our 2 vans, and they drove all over the place in order to get us to the hotel within 30 minutes rather than over an hour sitting in traffic. We were driving in the oncoming traffic lanes at times, then swerving back into our own as cars approached. It was a little exhilarating and a little frightening, but they knew what they were doing and we felt better for it. It helped that the cars around us seemed to know what was going on and yielded when necessary.

The guys had some press events in the afternoon and evening, so Joe, Bobby and I relaxed at the hotel and took in the different culture. Manila has a big city feel with some skyscrapers and more evidence of the influences of the west. Nicer cars, more traffic lanes, some plush hotels, broader socio-economic variety...and the landscape in the city has a beautiful mixture of trees so that it looks vibrant and tropical. We took advantage of the free time to lay low, leaving tourist activities and getting around town for the next day.

I slept about 8 hours last night, and we all went to some shopping centers after breakfast to browse and buy. The selection was plentiful, with all the major clothing brands and popular stores of the U.S. and world. I felt like I was in a huge mall in the U.S., with even more stores than most centers in the U.S. I was a little surprised at this, and part of me just wanted to find a market on the side of the road where the locals made livings and bought their necessities.

We went to the venue in mid-afternoon, about a 45 minute drive in fairly heavy traffic and without an escort this time. The arena has been home to a majority of the concerts when artists and bands come in from the world. We had a big crowd, just as excited as in Cebu. Since it was indoors, it felt more like a typical concert and lended itself to a little more intimacy and dynamics. One highlight was midway through the show when we invited a couple (boyfriend and girlfriend) up on stage to sing Unforgetful You, and afterwards he proposed to her (and she said yes). Every once in awhile we get to experience this during a show, and each time it brings a big grin to my face. The crowd went crazy and so did the couple.

We made it back to the hotel and have been strategizing on the best way to start moving our bodies back to our native time zone. We have a day off tomorrow before heading to the airport in the evening to begin our travels home. While we lost a day coming to the Philippines, we will leave Thursday night and get home in Nashville Friday morning. If only it was just an 8 hour trip in reality!!

Powered by Blogger