Are You Growing?

Did you know that cellular growth is not so much a factor of cell size but of cell numbers?

How’s that for a catchy introductory sentence?  Still with me?

As a christian, I have spent many years wanting to be a really great christian.  I wanted to be smart, to know the bible really well.  I wanted to be free from sin, not such messed up person.  I wanted to be wise and strong, a great prayer warrior, a loving father and husband.  I put a lot of time into developing me.

The end result was less intelligent, less free, less wise and strong.  My prayer life was damaged and skewed.  And I was too selfish to love anyone.

Exemplified in one picture of our family.  We were young and had no money but my wife wanted a picture of us.  We had to spend money on a new haircut (a mullet no less) for daddy so that he could look good for the picture.  Such a waste.

The past few years I’ve been reaching new territory in my walk with Jesus.  Why?  The churches that I’ve served in have always been about reaching people, about helping others.  The roles I’ve ministered in have always been about teaching and loving.  I think, and I might even be correct, that the difference is that it is less about me and more about them.

Are you struggling?  Put your armor on and pray.  Are you hurting, get on your knees and reach out to those around you.  Have you lost your desire?  Take up your cross and follow Him.

Cellular growth with no purpose is called cancer.  Cellular growth with self in mind is called hypertrophy.  Cellular growth where the body is fed is called normal and healthy.  Even if the cell itself is flawed, healing takes place as it stays connected to the tissues, the body surrounding it.

What kind of cell do you want to be?  Maybe I’m small, and my function is so miniscule, but I don’t want to be cancerous or hypertrophic.  I want to feed those around me.

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David and Joab

When David was young, and not king yet, he surrounded himself with some people who are described in the bible as distressed, in debt or discontented.  One of these was a guy by the name of Joab, the son of Zeruiah.  Truly we have a case study in friendships, relationships, in this man.

Why did David let him be in charge of the army?  Why did David not ever deal with this murderer until the end of his life?  Why do we look over gross character flaws in others to salve the consequences of our own sin?

Let’s look at a list:

Joab murdered Abner, the commander of Israel’s army.  He did it, supposedly, to avenge his brother’s death at the hands of Abner.  It should be noted that Joab’s brother was trying to kill Abner and Abner was just defending himself but at least we can understand this one.  Joab assisted in the murder of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba.  David wanted to cover his indiscretion with this woman and Joab complies.  The one person in the kingdom who could have stood up to the king and done what is right. Joab murdered David’s son, Absalom, against the express wishes of his king.  David wanted to grant mercy to his rebellious son, evidence of a weak and bewildered heart.  Joab wanted him dead, multiple stab wounds from the spears of many but ordered and initiated by Joab.  I kind of get this one too, Absalom was bad news.  And finally, Joab murders the innocent Amasa, expressing friendship through a greeting kiss and then stabbing him in the abdomen so that his intestines spill out.  He further shows his cruelty by leaving Amasa to die a slow painful death, “wallowing in his blood,” the bible says.  And still David did nothing.

Then on his death bed, David finally wants to deal with things.  “Don’t let his gray head go down in peace.”  And Joab, himself, is then murdered in the temple.  Tragedy, sorrow, buried hatred.

This is not the intent of friends, partners in ministry, fellow soldiers in the Kingdom.  And yet, if we look at those we work with, how many fall into this category.  The ones we gossip with, the ones we share secret bitterness, hidden sin.  All the while, we hate them and they hate us.

You can’t always choose who is on staff with you.  We are a part of a body and the parts are chosen by the Master Designer.  We get to choose how well we function, what input we will have into the body.  Whether we will draw from the resources of the cells around us, or contribute our resources.

A cancerous cell needs to be removed.  A heart of bitterness should be dealt with.  Hatred, sin, selfishness are tools that satan would use to divide us, to thwart what God wants to do.  Things that cause disunity, anything that works to tear us apart, should be eradicated.

And let love, real, honest, heartbreaking, heart-healing love lead us as we work together.

He Held My Hand

My friend.

We had walked together for what seemed like so short a time, and now he was dying.  Cancer had come back with a vengence and he was hurting so bad.

I had an accident the day before and my hand was broken.  I was in pain myself but nothing compared to what he was going through.

So, as he was dying, he asked to take my hand, to hold on to his friend for a little while and ease the pain a bit.  With each wave of agony he faced, he would squeeze so hard.  Then he would release as the fury of that silent monster would abate.

And I took the pain.  Not because I’m a hero, not brave, not strong.  I took it because he was my friend.

I look at my hand from time to time, seeing the flaws in the healing, knowing my hand was never the same again.  And I realize that’s why God put us together, all of us.  When we hurt, we often cause pain to others, we create deformities, broken places.  But it is our honor, our priviledge to share in these sufferings.  It is not the time to isolate, to reject, to protect yourself – barring the abusive relationship to be sure.  As we are hurting, we share in the pain, allowing ourselves to be hurt.  Yes, laying down our lives.

It is how we see Jesus.