Ask me how I’m doing and I may talk to you about my family, my job, or my own health. I may talk to you about my schedule, what I’ve done or what I’m planning to do. Ask the apostle Paul how he’s doing and he talks to you about Christ.
He only speaks about himself and his own affairs as they relate to his Lord and to the advance of God’s Kingdom.
In his letter to the Christians in Philippi, Paul is in prison but that “has really served to advance the Gospel.” Rival preachers are attacking him but “What does that matter? Christ is preached!” He doesn’t know whether he’s going to live or die, but he sees great benefit in both. To Paul, dying means going to be with his Lord. Living means serving his Lord to advance his cause.
The breathtakingly comprehensive nature of Paul’s devotion to Christ and his good news of salvation is the most theologically significant part of the first part of his letter to the Philippians. At the time he wrote, every major feature of his life—his physical comfort, the opinions others have about him, his position with respect to the secular world, the question of whether he lives or dies—are molded by his commitment to the spread of the good news. His perspective is shaped by his loyalty and devotion to his King.
What would our lives look like? What would our speech sound like? What would happen if we cultivated this joyful perspective? If the decisions we made and the ways we looked at life as it relates to our families, jobs, recreation, where we live, and the things we buy were considered from this radical Christ-centered perspective, what would we be as a people? What would we become?
Back in the spring of 2001, Jason and Dan and Kevin and I gathered around my dining room table in Mesquite and vowed to serve our Lord and his Kingdom with everything we had. Together. We would do it together. We would pray for and with each other. We would encourage each other. We would challenge each other and we would hold each other accountable. We promised that day we would take care of each others’ families. We would support one anothers’ wives and kids. We would do this together.
For some reason we started calling ourselves the Four Horsemen. Kinda weird, but it stuck.
Seven years ago we had very little in common besides our intense desire to be loyal to our Savior. Today, there’s nothing that could ever separate us. We are the very best of friends. We all talk to each other weekly. We have a long lunch together in Dallas once a month. We spend the ACU Lectureships together every year. We have an annual campout every February. We support one another. We encourage one another. We pray together. We plan together. We counsel one another. We depend fully on one another. We selflessly serve one another.
But we dropped the ball with our wives and kids. Totally.
We’ve never incorporated our families into this most amazing Christian circle. Yes, we’re all friends. We all went to church together in Mesquite. But my life has changed significantly because of these three men. And they all three say the same thing. But our wives and children haven’t been in on it.
Since 2001, Carrie-Anne and Tiersa have become preachers’ wives. Tiersa’s way out in East Texas where “going to town” means a trip to Gilmer. Carrie-Anne’s gone back to school. Shelly’s raising two boys and twin girls and finding herself in charge of more and more at Dallas Christian. Debbie’s battling breast cancer and caring for aging parents. Each of our four families—each of our marriages—has gone through quite a bit of stress over the past six or seven years. We men have have found strength and encouragement in each other. But we’ve never included our wives.
Big mistake. I like to think it was short-sighted, not selfish.
That all changes tomorrow. We’re all spending the day together tomorrow at Stanglin Manor. Jason & Tiersa and their four kids, Kevin & Shelly and their four kids, Dan & Debbie and their three teenagers, and us. All 22 of us. Lots of visiting. Lots of sharing. Lots of open discussion. Lots of food. Maybe some college football. And lots and lots of prayer. A ton of prayer. We’ll renew our vows to each other to support and encourage one another. All of us. Together. We’ll promise to strengthen each other, to challenge each other, to comfort each other, and hold each other accountable. And we’ll get together like this, all of us, at least four times a year. This will become a quarterly deal for us.
By God’s grace we’ve been given another chance to make this right. And I’m really looking forward with great anticipation to what our Father is going to do with us and for us and through us to his glory.
Have a great weekend,