Why I Love Fr. Joe Girzone and Support Joshua Mountain Ministries

Joshua Priest Each month Father Joe Girzone writes a news and prayer letter for friends and people who support his mission on Joshua Mountain. During my three days with Joe I saw him take phone calls from people as far away as Japan and as close as near-by Albany. He referred to his large “parish” several times. I soon became aware that he was not exaggerating at all. I was amazed at how he listened and interacted with everyone, many of them people he had not met in the flesh at all. At times he was extremely funny and at others most serious and helpful. He was always joyful and always quick with his wit. Joe just lights up around people and brings joy to them with great blessing. The presence of Jesus is quite real in his simple, unpretentious, very human presence.

I can tell you that Fr. Joe’s parish is genuinely represented by people from all over the world. He responded to emails late into the evening

Canucks Win! Canucks Win!

I was not always a hockey fan. I grew up in the South when there were only six NHL teams thus I had no understanding of this great sport. My dad took me to my first game at age 8 or 9. It was in Chicago when we visited the city in February of one year. I thought, as only a little boy, “This is a rough and fast game.” I was right. It is the fastest thing on ice.

Easter--April 24, 2011 Matt, Stacy, John and Paulo Since I’ve never had a huge love affair with Chicago teams I saw a few Blackhawks games over my 41-plus years in Chicago. But I never got into the team or the sport that much. Then I met a Christian brother in the mid-1990s in Vancouver while doing a weekend conference in a church. Later that brother (Paolo, at the far right in the photo with me, my daughter Stacy, and my son Matthew,

By |April 27th, 2011|Categories: Friendship, Games, Personal|

The Greatest Thrill on Ice

I enjoy a very special friendship with a brother in Christ who is one of the owners of the Vancouver Canucks hockey team. As a result of my friendship, and my real love for hockey, I have adopted the Canucks as my favorite team in the NHL. I have even had the privilege of seeing a game at the Rogers Center in Vancouver and sitting with my friend. I saw the inside of the arena and the entire operation. It was an exciting night in late 2009.

My Chicago friends are surprised, once again, that I root against my home town team but so be it. Friends trump towns unless it is the Atlanta Braves and/or the Alabama Crimson Tide, which are just too deeply rooted in my childhood and the impact of my dad on my life.

Vancouver Canucks Tonight offered me one of the true thrills of my post-season hockey experience — seeing the Canucks beat the Blackhawks 3-2 to go up three games to none in

By |April 17th, 2011|Categories: Friendship, Personal|

On Delivering Reproof in Love

For as long as I can remember I have found that few Christians know how to deliver reproof to their brothers and sisters in a way that is effective and humane. We have turned “speaking the truth in love” into a virtual blank check to correct others at any time and in any form we think permissible.

Our reasoning seems simple enough. The Scripture speaks of loving reproof and the wounds of a friend. We then take these kinds of wisdom texts and immerse them in our personality and emotional life. Then we feel free to correct almost at will. Blogs have made this even easier. I tried to refer to something like this about six months ago and it was widely misunderstood.

I receive reproof routinely. I suppose this goes with the territory if you write publicly. The logic seems to be that a writer must be willing to take anything since they posted their comments online. I understand the argument but I simply do not agree with it. If a person is my friend I deal with them accordingly. If they are not then I treat

By |January 19th, 2011|Categories: Discipleship, Friendship|

Further Thoughts on Cross-Gender Relationships

I have written quite a bit lately on male/female issues. This has not been contrived through any preconceived plan, at least humanly speaking. I have thought about these issues for a lifetime. I fully expect that I will not work them out with complete satisfaction in my lifetime. I have admitted that some of this stuff frightens me. I have also admitted that being a latecomer to this dialogue I must move carefully in terms of my own response. This is not a cop out but a reasoned, principled response to what I believe is a highly emotional issue. Let me explain.

41yQdcOKr0L._SL500_AA300_ First, on the matter of women in leadership in the local church I have told my own story in the book How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership which gives the stories of twenty-one evangelical leaders who changed their mind on this issue. I spent more than three decades working this out scripturally, theologically and emotionally. One of the hardest parts of this issue

By |January 5th, 2011|Categories: Feminism & Women, Friendship, Personal|

Sacred Sexuality and Friendship

Author Dan Brennan believes that friendship love between a man and a woman is poised to become a receptive love that can coexist with marriage and not become a rival to it. I doubt that few conservative pastors or marriage and family writers in America agree with him. His thesis is simple, but clearly provocative: cross-sex friendship love is a journey toward communion with God through life with others. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic little book, Life Together, comes to mind here!)

7153_1_ftc_dp Put another way Dan Brennan is saying that men and women, in the new creation, are not limited to stark contrasts between romantic passion in marriage or inappropriate sexual expressions beyond marriage that lead to infidelity. Most conservative Christians that I know really do believe these are the only two real options in cross-gendered relationships. Passion in friendship is for marriage and if pursued anywhere else will lead to sexual unchastity.

I have recently been watching an A & E series titled: “God or the Girl?” This series

By |December 24th, 2010|Categories: Friendship, Marriage & Family, Sexuality|

Aren’t You Playing with Fire?

When Dan Brennan began to explore his view of human sexuality and cross-gender friendships his pastor implored him to be extremely careful. His counsel was simple: “Dan, you’re playing with fire! Men and women are hard-wired for sexual union when they enjoy intimacy with each other” (21). To be honest this is exactly what I would have said before reading Dan’s book carefully. I do believe men and women must be wise, careful and respect the power of sexual attraction in a proper, mature way.

Brennan’s pastor went on to say, “The exceptions are familial intimacy, such as a close bond between mother and son, or brother and sister. Look at Genesis one and two; it’s all there. Dan, look at Scripture. Men and women are designed to experience intimacy and are wired to be one flesh” (21).

If you’ve ever counseled people in marriages where sexual sin has destroyed the bond you know why Dan’s pastor counseled him in the way he did. But is this counsel completely right? Is this the best way to avoid sin and build deep communion with God? Are we not going

By |December 23rd, 2010|Categories: Friendship, Marriage & Family, Sexuality|

The Problem of Romantic Myth

Could it be that modern church culture elevates the romantic experience of falling in love even above religious commitment to Christ? Dan Author Dan Brennan, in his provocative and important book Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions, believes the answer is yes. He believes that we have so emphasized romantic passion as a unique, one-of-a-kind, love that all other love is seen as relatively unimportant in comparison with this amazing love. Almost every marriage seminar that I have ever heard celebrates romantic love in marriage as God’s greatest gift to human beings.

It never seems to dawn on many Christian teachers that the Bible does not clearly support this understanding. Could the myths of our culture have so overwhelmed the radical message of Holy Scripture that we have accepted a profound Freudian influence without realizing it?

Many Christians, especially single Christians, are driven to excessive preoccupation with themselves through such imbalanced teaching. They already feel unloved and unwanted. Then the church gives them this romantic message as if this is the

By |December 22nd, 2010|Categories: Friendship, Marriage & Family, Sexuality|

Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions: Engaging the Mystery of Friendship Between Men and Women

Cover I began reading the book Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions (2010) with an eye to find loopholes and practical problems in the author’s thesis. To say that his idea made me very cautious about endorsing this is a huge understatement. When I finished the book my personal copy was marked and annotated throughout. And almost every concern that I had was addressed in a way that I found quite satisfactory. This does not mean there are no practical problems in working out the thesis in everyday community but it does mean the thesis is itself worthy of the serious attention it just may not get from far too many Christians.

Let me begin by telling you that the author is a personal friend. Dan Brennan was once a part of the church family that I served as pastor for sixteen years. We have recently reconnected in a deep and personal way as older (hopefully much wiser) men. But I hasten to tell you that I do not endorse

By |December 21st, 2010|Categories: Books, Friendship, Sexuality|