Monday, September 27, 2010

"Permission to Speak Freely" by Anne Jackson

“Permission to Speak Freely” by Anne Jackson is one of those “dangerous” books to read. It’s dangerous because every page seems to bring a new uncomfortable topic and a new battle within your own heart to push ahead. As Anne discusses abuse, addiction, pornography, and the lack of openness within the body of Christ, the reader is faced with not only their own internal story, but also the story of their own walls being rattled. It is a must read for every church member and leader.

As a pastor, it is easy to avoid the pain and agony in our own heart by being busy and caring for the heart of others. The reality is that as church communities, we rarely care for others at the heart level and the continual battle for doing instead of being rages in our community. Anne opens up new avenues of honesty and vulnerability that helps us to see ourselves and others for what we truly are; broken.

“Permission to Speak Freely” says what I have wanted to say for a long time in ministry. It screams of hidden pain and stolen joy. When we step out of our bubble and begin to really do life with others, the hiddeness must give way to honesty and the honesty must lead us to the gospel. Life is messy and helping others find real life in Christ causes us to have to deal not only with their mess, but our own. Anne Jackson gives voice to the liberating acknowledgment of being messy ourselves. And that is what makes “Permission to Speak Freely” so freeing.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Willing to Die?

Yesterday was a wonderfully relaxing day around the Harvey house. We did very little in the morning, (well, the kids and I did very little. Alana did laundry and grocery shopping) went to some friends to swim and grill burgers (while dodging lightning bolts!!) and still got home early in the evening to watch some football and relax. Then it happened. I got sucked in like a mobile home in a tornado. Before I knew it I had traveled to the highest point on earth and lived to tell about it. Sort of.

I stumbled across one of those documentaries about a group climbing Mount Everest. They followed their preparations, their injuries and their fears. One member of the expedition was a Los Angeles firefighter, one a former Hell’s Angel, one an asthmatic who was climbing without an oxygen mask and one was a double amputee having lost his legs in another mountain climbing accident. How could I not morbidly watch to see which one of these guys was not going to make it!!

I have always been fascinated by Everest. I have zero desire to go off to Nepal and climb, but I cannot stop myself from watching documentaries about those who do. I watch and try to decide who will and won’t make the summit and who will and won’t make it off the mountain. I am fascinated by what becomes a fixation of these men and women to literally risk their life to stand on top of the world for twenty minutes.

Tim, the ex-Hell’s Angel member (I am not really sure what you are after you are a Hell’s Angel!) was so fixated on reaching the summit that he literally had to be turned in his tracks to force him to walk down. He was too far from the summit to reach it before his oxygen supply ran out. Brett, the L.A. fireman stopped at 24,000 feet and said, “I have reached my personal summit.” The one climbing without oxygen had to turn around because his mind began playing tricks on him and he was disoriented. The one who made the summit was the double amputee.

Every one of these people had a reason they wanted to reach the top. And every one of them was within inches or moments from their death. Their fixation almost cost them their lives. As I was lying in bed thinking about the show, I found myself wondering what I was so passionate about that I would put myself in that position. Is there an adventure that I have to do so desperately that I am willing to risk my life to pursue it at all costs? The simple answer is no.

It may sound wimpy and boring, but I can’t imagine placing my life in danger at that level. I think about my wife and kids and realize the selfishness it would take to risk their future for my fulfillment. I think about my calling to serve Christ by teaching others about him and realize that no adventure could replace an eternal calling. I think about the relationships I have and would never want to jeopardize them through a pursuit of such an intentional snub to my own mortality.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against people trying to fulfill wild and crazy adventures. I wish there was a part of me that wanted to do those things. But when it all boils down, the question becomes, “what are you willing to die for?”

For me, I am willing to die for the safety of my family. I am willing to die trying to rescue others. I am willing to die for the sake of my calling. I am simply not willing to die for the sake of adventure.

What are you willing to die for?