Friday, July 15, 2011

short foolishness with no room for cream

there is a new starbucks in belgium. it is located in the central train station in downtown brussels. i have taken the boys on the train to meet up with liz on her way home from work a few times. it is good for the boys and for us to venture into our american embassy. the last time we did this i went into the cafe area to get our drinks while liz stayed on the outer part of the store. there is ALWAYS a line. this one wasn't too bad but as i was standing there waiting i noticed a tall, nicely dressed man standing to my right and i was getting the impression he was trying to cut. in my mind i was thinking, "who does this guy think he is?" i certainly was not dressed to impress and that fear of trying to be intimidated by a "business" man was creeping in my head. he sensed the tension and proceeded to tell me that he was in line before but had forgotten what his friend had wanted and so he tried to quickly return to his spot.

yeah, i wasn't born yesterday, get the heck outta here into the back of the line!!!

no, i didn't say that, i wanted to but then a sudden rush came over me..."buy his and his friends coffee." wait, what? again i felt it, "buy their drinks." i then asked the guy what his friend wanted and he told me. i said to him "well, let me buy your friends drink and yours." he bursted out in laughter, and when i say bursted that is an understatement. IT. WAS. LOUD. i thought for split second to decline the offer simply based on this obnoxious, loud laugh but i couldn't. i told him i was serious and i wanted to bless him and his friend. he said ok.

he then asked me where i was from and where i was going. i told him i lived in belgium and moved here to be a missionary. he said, "oh really." i said i wanted to train young people in the word of god. he said, "which god?" i said, "the god the bible talks about." he casually said, "ah, but they are different." i told him we could talk more when we were able to sit and enjoy our coffee.

he confessed to wanting to be a missionary when he was a kid and i responded by telling him i wanted to be a navy seal. as it turned out he was a lawyer and his friend was a mathematician. so here i was going to try and reveal the truth of jesus to two guys who would love to debate faith and justice. we didn't ever really debate but we did talk about faith and god. i told him my only intent in buying their drinks was because i wanted to show them an act of generosity in the name of jesus christ (i speculate that being a lawyer he didn't need my charity for the sake of cultural enjoyment). a seed was sown, and i felt at peace in my spirit as to where i left it.

i realize his fault, as mine on many occasion which is not the pursuit of knowledge, but the love of knowledge over everything else. sometimes i catch myself loving knowledge and even in the moments when i need to be reading scripture as the food for my soul i will venture off sometimes i start to think how great a teaching "this" could be, or "that." all in all, at the end of the day i am only as smart as the next guy who walks in the room; my knowledge is very, very, very, limited. it is hard to admit this but someone will always be more educated. that is the struggle for so many; pursuing knowledge until they literally kill themselves. i will leave you with this...for those who love knowledge so much.

1 corinthians 1:27 - ...god has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise...

i just hope i was foolish enough for jesus to shame every ounce of wisdom those men thought they had.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

hb ab

when i think of austin benjamin i think of a room full of delight. now imagine this room had a door. most people dare not even enter that door to the room of delight i am talking about, which reminds me of austin.

let me, as best as i can, describe what i have seen and experienced inside this room of delight which reminds me of austin...

1. those who have not seen borat...don't waste your time. now there is a character in borat who is dared to do something and this characters reaction is basically: not only will i do that but i don't even care about the consequences or who knows that i did it. austin is like this guy, except, austin cares but he still will do anything and doesn't care what people think.

2. have you ever been anticipating a moment that you had planned on watching on tv? only thing is, you were needing to record it so that you could watch it at your earliest convenience because you couldn't watch it live. there are few who will deprive themselves of seeing said moment/program live in order to watch it with you. i am not for sure if austin would do this, but i think he would if i asked him to.

3. once when i was in this room of delight that reminds me of austin, i thought if i could hire an individual to drive me around anywhere i wanted, like a personal chauffeur, that might be awesome. it wouldn't, because sometimes i like to be alone in the car. i would feel bad paying a guy to stand and wait for my mood to change. austin is the kind of guy who will shut up and let you be alone with your thoughts. i know this because i was able to stand in a room that was a delight reminding me of austin, and at the same time i was able to think of myself. AMAZING!!! i know.

those are only a few things that can describe a good man like austin who is very very very similar to a room of delight which few dare even dream of entering. but honestly, i know he doesn't mind because he has a group of friends that are very close and even in that circle of those friends he sometimes has to ask some of them to move away to belgium (like me) because the closeness is getting too delightfully close.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

iranians, jesus, and durums

i remember when i gained an awareness concerning muslims around the world but predominately in the middle east. as for many, it was right after the 9/11 attacks. i can recall not a disdain that was represented in so many americans but rather, well, the only way i can describe it is that feeling jesus had when he looked out on the crowd and saw the people. the scripture says he felt compassion for they were like sheep without a shepherd. shortly after i got married i lived with liz near a small market place with a palestinian as an owner, in the cabochon apartment complex. maybe you are familiar with the u.s. population of muslims, i found that most gather together in or around a cafe or small market place, sit and enjoy coffee and cigarettes. it was here, as well as starbucks, that i gained genuine relationships with syrians, palestinians, lebanese, and egyptians. no matter the country, it seemed, if you spoke arabic you had a sense of camaraderie. i realize how many could be threatened by this, i too feel as though i don't belong in this circle, as an outsider. there many a times that these fine gentlemen would venture off into political talk, but i would always steer clear of this banter. it was like when the woman at the well wanted to talk about the proper place of worship with jesus, or the pharisees wanted jesus to answer about justice, he (jesus) knew better than to engage. i, however, could not be so spiritual and respond in such a way where these gentlemen would go running to their respected places of residence and beg their families to come running to see who this jesus was. nevertheless i have had this place of softness in my heart. it seems this softness has been reinforced time and time again by meek and meaningless individuals from that religion that have bolstered this tenderness for them. don't mistake what i am saying as a form of tolerance but rather a place of sincere desire to see them know jesus as their messiah and the great "i am" as their god.

i have found my durum spot. it is a place called chez laila's and is located in a smaller part of waterloo called joli bois. it is a short bus ride from my place and honestly could be ventured to by foot but the bus is being paid for monthly so i might as well use it. i have two other durum spots i could throw a rock and hit from my living room: one place called el grecco (greek), and another turkish durum shop called chez melissa's. but there is something unique about chez laila's i wish to reveal. the couple that owns this place is iranian and their testimony of how they came to know the lord is one of those testimonies that you read about in a book, or see in a movie. it is all centered on how they left iran by walking (that is right walking!) with caravans to belgium over 20 years ago. that isn't even the point of this blog.

i went in nearly 2 weeks ago and was getting a durum with my boys. they really enjoy the french fries. i like this place because of the owners, their faith in jesus, and they have these special peppers that are really hot they can put on my durum and do every time. at this particular moment i was getting my usual (durham poulet avec samourai sans veggies) and a couple came in to sit and eat. she was pregnant and they were from the middle east and began speaking arabic to chez laila as she was writing their order down. it wasn't too busy but they had a few people and were obviously rushing to get all orders out in a timely fashion.

while waiting on my food the lord quickened to me the good samaritan parable. i was reflecting over and over in my mind the last bit in particular of the samaritan who said to the owner, whatever else you use, i will pay for it later upon my return. i wonder if he knew the manager/owner of the place to which that kind of trust could be extended. anyways the lord spoke clearly to me, "buy their meal and leave enough for a cold coke for them to wash it down with." i seriously felt that in my spirit (the bit about the coke). as i paid for my meal which was a emporter i told chez laila, "you see that couple that came in and are waiting for their meal? i want to pay for it." she asked me if i knew them because it is very very very uncommon for that sort of thing to happen. i said, "no, how much is their entire meal...coke in all?" so i gave her all that would cover it. i even gave a bit more so they could get 2 cokes each if they wanted. i know i would want one for the durum and one for the road. then i just walked out. i didn't say a word to them about the whole thing...not even mentioning the name of jesus, isa, or whatever. but, BUT, it was completely done in his name (this bit is huge in charitable acts towards everyone).

last sunday as i was at the church i attend (where laila and her husband attend as well), she rushed up to me after the service and told me about what took place at the transaction. she said they had never, ever, ever had anything like that happen to them in their life. this couple said that this was so profound and massive that they begged her to find me and they begged laila to give them my mobile number. they wanted to speak to me concerning why i did this. they were so persistent that laila had the opportunity to share her testimony with them about coming to know jesus and they are now planning on attending the church to find out about the source of this generosity. PRAISE THE LORD!!! when laila shared this news with me my heart leapt for joy. i mean



now i could remind you of how you too should be open to moments when your words are meaningless and you should listen for times to pay for peoples stuff but i am going to trust that the holy spirit has and will already quicken your faith to do the same. i will however leave you with this...please, please, think about how you too would want 2 cokes. one for the durum, and one for the road.