during last year's mens trip to guatemala, my friend alex gave his life to Christ. on this year's trip, my brother - who has been his spiritual mentor and friend for years - had the privilege of baptizing alex in guatemala. it was an incredible experience and a special day... not only for alex and chad, but for all of us who were able to share the moment.
that night, during a group dinner at Monoloco in antigua, another buddy of chad's challenged alex to a beer chug. no rookie himself, alex accepted the challenge...
i'll never forget alex's comment to me the next morning. "what a day yesterday. i was baptized in guatemala, the place i found Jesus, by my friend who led me to the Lord... i hiked an active volcano...roasted marshmellows over the lava...toured antigua...then finished off the day with a beer chug contest against Ed O. man... i slept like a rock, and can't help but wonder what today has in store!"
i have told that story to a lot of people. as i tell it, i celebrate the paradox of grace and truth. i love how alex's day represents the freedom that we have in Christ. that his old life was symbolically washed away in the pool, and he came up from the water with a new life in Christ Jesus.
i love that he didn't come up from the water a religious stiff. that he didn't come up with a new list of "rules" in hand. a new life-manual of do's and dont's that help make you more "holy".
and i love that his group of Christian friends aren't encouraging him towards this canned variety of faith. that he can have a beer with buddies who understand boundaries and hold one another accountable.
i love that alex is a fun-loving, fun-having, fun-filled young guy with the majority of his life ahead of him. i hope his spirit of fun and joy never changes.
when i think of alex i think of his huge heart. i think of his love for this place (guatemala) and for these people. i think of his love for the poor in general. i dream of how many more memories we will have together, and how many people we will help together.
i pray that as he matures in his faith and grows in his love God and his knowledge of God, he holds tight to the freedom that he has in Christ. a freedom to be funny, goof off, have fun, and chug a brew.
i pray that as he grows in Christ, he maintains a hatred for all sin, and a passion for grace and truth.
i am thankful that he has a community of believers in charlotte that don't seek to make him a robotic american-christian prototype.
alex: be careful as people tell you what you need to become. i have watched too many people get weird and legalistic after getting "plugged in" to a certain version of Christianity. stay who you are! stay in his Word, stay close with your Christian buds, and God will refine you as He sees fit.