Monday, July 20, 2009
Let me introduce the first guest writer in the ten year history of LeaderFOCUS. I dare not name him. He works as a linguist and translator on the other end of the globe in a dangerous place. He keeps a low profile along with his wife and family. Not everyone welcomes him. I think you know the challenge. His name is Craig.
Here’s what he wrote…
I’ve been thinking about one of your weekly leadership writings a few months back. I can’t remember now the main point of that week, but you mentioned somewhere in the story about a changing of habits, or things we deem acceptable among men in the evangelical church. Smoking cigars, drinking and using coarse language is much more common now than 20 years ago… or in other words – smoking, drinking and cussing.
I’ve actually seen this among some of my expat ministry friends here in [omit]. They offer me cigars, but I just don’t like them, and can’t justify spending several bucks on one. And [my wife] thinks they are gross, so that should settle that anyway. I drink beer and wine, maybe a few times a month, usually with [my wife] and friends who usually join us in that. Before I became a follower of Jesus, my mouth was pretty foul, and that was one of the first things that He began to clean up, so I try and control my language. [My wife] (probably like Carolyn) has maybe once or twice uttered a cuss word (since I’ve known her!), so I know she doesn’t appreciate it.
What I’m coming to, is that in your article, you left it open as to whether or not this was a good trend, or not. How far do we need to go for our message to be received?
One challenge in front of me is some of the language I’m hearing at our international school. They are mimicking their dads, along with movies, etc. I’m challenging myself to clean up the gray stuff, so that I can challenge my boys to do the same.
And then Craig changed the subject.
Hey, I had a perfect guy day yesterday. The younger, single guy on our team came by early and wanted me to go fishing and diving with them. Hard to pass up, especially as I brought two new Rapala big game lures. And one of the three with us (Rudi) is the premier spear fisherman in this big village. So the four of us got in a medium sized outrigger with a small Chinese diesel motor, literally jury rigged. A one gallon plastic can with diesel tied and hanging from a piece of wood (the gas tank), and the water cooling is a ten foot hose going out the back of the outrigger, into the water as the intake.
The weather had calmed a bit, as the days before it was really rough and windy. As we headed across to the bigger island, I hauled in a ten pound giant trevally, a very good start. We use hand lines, with two hundred yards of one hundred pound test and a three foot long stainless steel leader wrapped around a one and a half foot long big piece of bamboo. Trolling takes on a bit of a different meaning with a hand line. Pure mayhem takes about two seconds to develop, as we have to keep control of the line (not getting my hands destroyed), bamboo line “holder” and not have the line snap when a fish bites.
We hadn’t had any good fish since getting here, either. That was the only fish to bite as we got to the diving spot.
I had planned to just snorkel and swim with the two guys who were spear fishing. No gear at all except masks for them. Spearguns with hand made bodies of iron wood, with small bore stainless rebar as shafts and thick pieces of rubber stretched and hooked with stainless wire to the shaft. It got dark with rain, but still always awesome to see God’s creation in the reef. After seeing Rudi spear a few fish, I grabbed one of the guns and wound up taking three shots in twenty plus feet of water, and getting three fish. Two small one pound coral trout, and one three pound grouper.
I’ve never gone three for three. Then heading back to our island, I caught two more giant trevallys and a fifteen pound barracuda, out of four hits. We ate the barracuda shashimi style, marinated in palm vinegar and blazing hot chilis. Their hearts still beating as we prepared them… I gave one of the Rapalas to a friend, and he was out trolling in his small canoe (sailing only) at the same time. He came strutting up with a huge Wahoo (thirty to forty pounds). Wahoo is an apt name, as all you can say when you see one of these is “Wahoo!”
That one fed a lot of people that night!
Here’s my reply:
My only comment on this trend toward “wordliness” is that it seems so incredulous to me that this generation thinks they are the first to indulge in “freedom” from the tyranny of the old restrictions of separatist evangelicalism. We experimented with that a long time ago. (Come to think of it, the “experiment” continues.) I went to Bible school in the sixties; and we thought we were pretty progressive then; my pipe-smoking phase kicked in during the seventies.
I thought I looked intelligent smoking that thing. I didn’t have to say much; just nod knowingly and take a draw. Maybe give a one-word comment, “Damn.” It was all form, no substance. But so cool. Carolyn stayed with me (thankfully); but it took an extra measure of grace. We long-time Christians can be so full of ourselves; especially us Bible school grads.
What we all know (from our study of Jesus and Paul) is that true spirituality is something other than conformity to someone’s idea of upright living; it has more to do with the kind of wonder and awe and camaraderie that kicks in out there beneath the surface of the blue waters, no snorkel, mask and no fins together with a bunch of guys with makeshift spear guns in their hands. Later, tearing into spicy barracuda sashimi style in a celebration of God’s good provision, when most of the rest of the world is sitting comatose in front of a flickering, high definition television screen.
That’s when God is near.
I’m learning to be on the lookout for those moments, like last night when Carolyn and I sat in the spa looking over at the Rocky Mountain peaks at a lightening show under ominous gray clouds and a big sky. As the storm drifted in our direction we talked long, our sentences interrupted here and there by “Whoa! Did you see that one?” After an hour or more, we only got out of the water because we feared the next bolt just might connect with our little bubbling pool.
Seems like when we are in tune with God’s regular visitations, the need to declare our independence from a stifling, suffocating religion just kind of goes away.
Copyright Kenneth E Kemp 2009