Sincerely.

The English word sincere is made up of two Latin words English words: sine (without) and cera (wax). 

Sincere: without wax

To be sincere is to be without wax. 

Now, apparently the term comes from the ancient world of ceramics, statues and pottery. When a statue would age or get damaged, cracks would form, decreasing their value or usefulness. 

So, some clever conman figured out that you could put wax in the cracks (every 7th grader just giggled) and make it look genuine. The only problem is that the wax would age and it’s color would change, so you’d see some funky colored wax where it used to look like marble or whatever was originally used to create the thing. 

I’m no Patrick Swayze, so I’m not exactly sure how this works, but I can see the problem unfolding. You’ve got a cracked statue you’re trying to get rid of, so you throw some wax on it and call it sincere. The wax covered up the obvious flaw, but not for long. 

Eventually everyone could see that your statue was insincere, just like you. 

I think this is why the Apostle Paul wrote that “love must be sincere”, because he knew that love with wax isn’t love at all… it’s a lie. 

Love is at it’s best when it’s willing to admit it’s worst. People can smell a poser a mile away. I grew up covered in so much wax that it’s made me quite the expert in seeing it in other people’s lives. You can’t con an ex-con! The only person you’re fooling is yourself, because after a while, the insincere love will be seen for what it is. 

So save yourself a lot of hurt and embarrassment and just be yourself. Be the real, flawed, messed up you… but be honest about it. Stop hiding and lying and trying to create an image that isn’t really who you are. 

Be you. There are enough posers. 

Leaving

I didn’t know it would be this difficult to leave Arizona. I knew we would miss our friends and family and church, but I underestimated it. Perhaps I minimized it, since we were moving to a Chicago suburb, and not some remote village in the middle of nowhere. But man, this has been hard.

I’m on a plane right now heading home from speaking at Mission for the second time since we left. The first trip felt like a mini reunion, but this trip felt like a massive reminder of what we had- the best friends we’ll probably ever have, and a church family that truly loves and cares for my family. 

I prepared myself for the move mostly by reminding myself that this is very much what missionaries are called to- building and leaving, building and leaving, building and leaving. This is very New Testament/Great Commission/Way of Jesus/Way of Paul stuff. I’m not putting myself on their level, I’m simply saying that coming and going are a part of this life. 

That doesn’t make it any easier. 

Moving to Chicago in the Winter doesn’t help either. We went from the MOST connected we’ve ever been in a church to the LEAST connected we’ve ever been. We moved from a house that we LOVED to a house that, well, it’s just not a fair comparison. We’re grateful for it all, but still, it’s been rough. 

The hardest part of the whole thing is how hard it’s been on Lindsay. I get to leave and go dig into some incredibly challenging and meaningful work five days a week- while she’s at home, in the new home, with the kids and their new (terrible) school schedules. 

This isn’t the first big challenge we’ve faced in marriage, and I doubt it’ll be the last, but we’re digging in and moving forward. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t imagined a magical rewind button, but those are my weakest moments. 

I’m honored to serve these kids in this church, they’re worth all of this. They better change the freaking world. 

A young man and his dad came up to me after a service this weekend. The dad said, “This is my son. He has some developmental challenges he’s working through, and one of the ways he is able to focus during a sermon is by sketching what it being taught. He wants you to have this.” Greatest gift ever. (at MISSION Community Church)

Bartering With Jesus

Jesus said to me, “I want all of you.”

I said, “Here are my Sunday mornings.”

“Thanks,” he replied, “but I want all of you.”

“Ok here are my Wednesday nights too”, I replied.

“That’s great, but I want all of you” he insisted.

Reluctantly I replied ,“Ok, I get it. Here is the music I listen to, the movies I watch, my hobbies, and… here, here’s some money too.”

“Thanks, but I already owned all of that,” he replied. “I want all of you.”

“Well now you’re just being greedy,” I replied.

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In The Notebook, when Noah finally comes to a point where he’s done settling for just a little bit of Allie, everyone and their mother began to wipe tears away as they watched Noah say, “So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s going to be really hard; we’re gonna have to work at this everyday, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, everyday. You and me… everyday.”

Clap, clap, clap, bravo, sniff, clap, clap, tweet, gush, clap, hug, clap… 

PEOPLE EAT THAT UP in a romantic comedy, but when God asks for the same thing from us we become offended!

When Noah demands all of Allie’s love, it results in sixteen awards at the box office.

When God asks for all of my love, I want to barter with him at times.

We humans are frustrating creatures, far too easily pleased.

Yet he pursues us still. 

“I asked her what was so scary about unmerited free grace? She replied something like this: “If I was saved by my good works – then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with rights. I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if it is really true that I am a sinner saved by sheer grace – at God’s infinite cost – then there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.”

“The Prodigal God” by Tim Keller

A Life Few Have Ever Dreamed Of

I came home from school in the Fall of 1993 to find my dad passed out drunk on our couch. He had taken a steak knife from the kitchen and dragged it repeatedly across both of his forearms. I’m not sure if he was trying to kill himself, punish himself, or just feel something

By the time I got there, the blood had dried. I called 911, then poured what was left in his bourbon bottle down the drain. He’d been fired from his job as a lumber salesman that day, and that was the tipping point for his brokenness. He’d never recover. 

He’d been drinking heavily in secret since his mid-twenties, but his secret was exposed now. He would get drunk right in front of me for the next few years, shamelessly tipping that 2-liter of bourbon all the way back. He’d even take the plastic piece off that controlled the flow from the tip of the bottle. He was in a hurry to disappear. 

I spent the next 4 years trying to help him; I was what experts call an enabler. I just thought I was being a decent son. 

When he died in February of ‘96, he left behind pages and pages of poems and songs he had written (usually when he was drunk). When we found him on the night of his death, he had been journaling, and this is the last thing he wrote: 

If this mess should become my demise, so be it… I’ve lived a life few have ever dreamed of.”

We buried my dad when he was 44, but he died when he was 25. He had spent most of his life drunk, died very young, and missed thousands of miracles that have unfolded in my life… but on his last day he was convinced that he had lived a dreamworthy life. 

I’m sitting in a coffee shop at a summer camp right now, preparing a message on the life of hope and beauty God invites us into. I’m realizing how small some men’s dreams are.