1. This was the celebration of one of my best friends, Jeff, getting married. He's the guy wearing the backwards baseball hat. Yes, his wife allowed for some reason. This was two years ago.
2. These two guys were my roommates for a season while living in Newberg, Oregon while I worked in the next town over doing youth ministry and sign production (yes, that's a job, and I was good at it... mostly). This was around 2009-2010. The guy in the middle, Matt, was a random acquaintance from Jeff's work falling on hard times, so he randomly became our third roommate. Despite the randomness of it, he and I became very close friends.
3. I miss these guys like crazy.
"Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, an the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice." - Prov 27:9One of the hallmarks of my friendship, nay, brotherhood, with these two guys is that we all think very differently. Matt just became a lawyer and working with the state of Oregon on domestic issues. Jeff has been involved in social work with at-risk kids while studying church history and theology on top of getting a Masters in Counseling. And then there's me.
"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." - v. 17
This friendship works because they both have unique ways of challenging me in life, faith, and shenaniganisms. There have been countless times when we've fought verbally, topics ranging from the ridiculousness of the Duck's uniforms (who wears booger green and urine yellow?) to various Atonement theories, and everything in-between.
They ask the right questions. And sometimes they'll stick their neck out and ask the dumb questions, because frankly, the obvious needs to be stated. They're willing to push into me, like a thorn, to get me to say what's really stirring in my soul.
Last night, there was a Men's ministry-type deal on Gordon-Conwell's campus. One of our professors, Jim Singleton, was our "guest speaker." In short, though he is a professor of Pastoral Leadership and Evangelism, he has been a pastor to many of the students here at GCTS. Last night, he addressed what it means to be a man in the church in light of the post-modern age.
Men have become isolated in the church. Looked down upon. The "Homer Simpson-ization" of men in the last 25 years has led them to become less spiritual leaders within the church. The numbers are overwhelmingly more women than men in church involvement. Now, this isn't an indictment on women. They are just as important to the Church. Nevertheless, Jim addressed some key issues about the wounds men hold:
- Our relationship with God. It's broken because of our rebellion, which is reinforced by the American mentality of individualism.
- Our relationship with our dad. It's a complicated relationship that has all sorts of awkward turns and expectations
- Our relationship with our mom. Same thing, though sometimes not as heavily associated.
What Jim was getting at was what are we doing to build support systems? Those three relationships are broken because we feel this shame and guilt for trying to repair them. There was a lot to unpack last night, and I could go on.
But Proverbs 27 reminded me of the relationships I do have, and how I value/invest in those relationships. The problem is that they're 3,100 miles away. It's hard to stay connected, especially when both Jeff and Matt are married men. It's just the way it is. Sure, we have phones, texting, e-mail, Facebook, etc., but I must stay connected to them deeply in order to retain this bond we have.
Who's your iron? What's sharpening you? What's poking at you in the right areas to get you to share your soul? God didn't make us to be alone. We're built for community. Use it.