Love. For some, it is a sweet, romantic, yet mythological fragrance reserved for young, naïve fools who are too inexperienced to understand. For others, it is a nice concept embraced by soft people who haven’t been slapped in the face enough by life to know better. To those skeptics, no real man would ever waste his breath spewing “I love you” utterances like some infatuated teenager! Even if a man did give in to the urge in a moment of weakness, certainly, he wouldn’t do it publicly!
But then there’s my friend Chip Armstrong! He is a warrior poet who has served as an officer in the United States Army, demonstrating his mettle defending by the nation and “jumping from an aircraft while in flight” among other acts of courage. Chip is a skilled moderator who can draw out deep opinions from those who might otherwise remain silent. He is also an amazing communicator who can express tough truths to others who may happen to disagree with him on a specific issue without ever becoming condescending or combative. He is comfortable expressing tender emotions yet fearless in entering the fray of intellectual challenge and controversy.
Recently, Chip single-handedly took on the sacred cow of “stoic, non expressive manhood” and called all of us who consider ourselves to be real men to truly “Man Up” and to take the time say “I love you” to all of those we hold dear– including our most macho, tough guy buddies! His call to arms – the arms of love – elicited a massive response from some of the “toughest hombres this side of the Pecos”! The responses were affirming of the need to verbally express affection to friends and loved ones and shared joyful agreement that real manhood must include tender affirmation and loving expression.
As an “Amen” response to Chip, another Chip – Deacon Chip Jones – added an explanation of love that bears repeating:
“Love, my friends, isn't some touchy-feely, weak thing. Love is what makes a soldier dive on a grenade to save the men in his squad. Love is what sends a man rushing into a fight, hopelessly outgunned, to defend those to whom he's bound by blood or covenant. Love is what you see on a crucifix…”
In a just over a week, I will accompany 21 others on a mission to the Philippines. While there, our team will visit a garbage dump in Manila that serves as home for thousands of desperate people. We will spend time in the Central Philippines with orphans and conduct health screening and provide simple medical care to help a community that doesn’t have access to any health care – ever! We will encourage young families who are struggling in their marriages and assist local churches in touching their communities and addressing the needs that surround them with hugs, encouragement and prayer. In short, we will love them. The people who are accompanying me on this trip are paying a price that truly demonstrates their understanding of the richness of the word love. They are using vacation time, sacrificing crucial days away from work and spending time away from their families that others might see the love of Jesus who may not have ever seen it before, and so that those who are following Jesus might be encouraged along the Journey.
Deacon Jones’ words reflect the heart of our team and the theme passage of our trip found in 1John 4:10:
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
Love is indeed clearly seen on the Cross: Christ giving His life, that others might enjoy freedom from sin and reap the blessing of eternal life. Jesus calls His people to “die daily” by doing the hard yet sweet acts that clearly show God’s love in a way that is clear, understandable and undeniable!
Thank you - Both Chips and all those who responded to Chip’s call - for “Manning Up” day after day and calling others to the tender warfare of selfless love expressed in tough physical and personal sacrifice as well as through tender and merciful words of comfort and joy. I will have you on my mind as I seek to live up to a special assignment in my manly calling of service over the next few weeks in the Philippines with 20 others who are “all in” for the glory of God and the blessing of others! Until next time…