Thursday, November 17, 2011

All Good Things…

I must admit, I didn’t think it would be this difficult to say goodbye to my friends in Buenos Aires. 

I spent the last week visiting the Bible students one last time.  As I would leave each of them for the final time, I felt it:  a knot in my stomach.  Part of is that I got close to them.  Part of it is that it brought me so much joy to see them progress.  Part of it is that I hope they continue to do so.  I know they are in good hands and that the brothers here will take care of them.  But it’s still hard.  Not only did they appreciate the truths they were learning from the Bible, but they appreciated me personally.  That makes me feel good, but it makes leaving so much harder.  Many gave me gifts.  As I write this, I’m wearing some of them.  They are mementos of the wonderful people whose lives I was privileged to touch. 

And then there are the brothers here.  They were my life for the past two years.  They helped me in so many ways.  Many helped with language issues.  Many provided transportation and meals.  Many invited me to work with them in the ministry.  Daniel Villalon, in particular, was a tremendous help.  I remember meeting him back in June 2009.  I thought to myself, “If all the brothers in Argentina are like this, I want to stay here.”

Of course, as brothers, we always help each other.  We have come to expect that.  But I really have to thank the brothers here for doing even more than that.  They let me into their hearts.  I underestimated how close I became with them.  Last night, amidst all the hugs and kind words, I realized how much they mean to me.  And now, as I sit in the airport awaiting my flight, I feel that knot in my stomach again. 

Hmm, I just got a text with a song lyric: “Goodbye is a crummy little word.  Goodbye is the worst word around.  I’ll skip that word of you don’t mind.”  Apropos, no? 

My plane is about to board.  But in that same spirit, I won’t say goodbye.  I have a feeling that one day soon, I’ll be back at this airport. 

See you soon, Buenos Aires. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I've been meaning to write this post for a while, but, as usual, I couldn't clarify my thoughts well enough.  However, just now, I was swinging in a hammock in a penthouse in Copacabana and the ideas started to solidify.  They are not completely solid yet, but here we go anyway:

The difference between knowledge and wisdom is application.  You can know something, but until you apply it, it really doesn't do any good.

For example, mankind has gained tremendous knowledge of natural laws, but is the application of these laws that leads to useful innovations.  An obvious example is electricity.  It's great to study how electricity works, but until you actually do something with it, it doesn't provide any benefit.  What would you rather have?  A book full of formulas like V=IR, or, I don't know, lights in your house?

So application is extremely important.  And really, the example of natural laws is overly simplistic.  Their application is easy.  With electricity, you can easily make a circuit and test it.  If it works, you have successfully applied your knowledge.  It becomes much more difficult when we have to apply some bit of knowledge in our own life.

And herein is the reason I'm writing this post: I have seen a lot of misapplication lately.  More times than I care to count, I have seen people take a bit of advice, an analogy, an illustration, or even a personal experience, and misapply it.  (I don't want to give specific examples, so I apologize if this is overly vague.)

I'm sure they are not doing this on purpose.  In fact, they are to be commended for seeing a useful bit of knowledge and trying to apply it in their life.  But they are missing the mark.

I've spent a lot of time trying to determine why, exactly, they are missing it.  Sometimes it is failure to consider the context.  Sometimes it's oversimplification - or overcomplication - of the situation.  Sometimes it's simply seeing what they want to see.  If there is a single, unifying reason, I have yet to find it.

So I really don't have any conclusions yet.  Since I started noticing this in others, I've really tried to examine my own application to make sure its valid.  I guess that's all I have right now.  I would like to revisit this once I learn more...