The question to ask when entering any evangalical meeting is: What is on sale?
We had an interested discussion in cell the other day about what the salvation call is or how it should be. Most of the salvation calls that I have heard consist only of the nice toppings on top. Jesus gives you EVERYTHING. All good, no bad. I guess it is only normal that when selling a product, you mask any negative features and magnify the positive ones.
In the words of totally crazy-as Westboro Baptist Church leader, Margie Phelps:
“Every institution in this country not only teaches sin in word and deed but is proud of it and teaches you to be proud of it and sticks your face up into God’s face demanding that He bless you in spite of it. Now that is the condition of this nation.”
Margie isn’t entirely right, but sometimes our altar calls really sound like that. Are we misrepresenting the gospel in our salvation calls? Maybe we need to add a disclaimer: true salvation and accepting grace leads to intentional transformation by loving Him and loving the things that He loves. Much like selling any drug/medication, should we not give a list of known side effects.
Jesus – Contains effective sin-killing and salvation-giving agent.
Use on blind, lost, broken and hungry people to effectively restore to abundant and whole life.
Directions: Apply generously over all areas of life (and beyond) everyday all day.
Known Side effects: Loss of self, loss of sinful habits, intentional discipleship leading to life transformation.
If symptoms persist, continue using and apply God’s grace.
For external and internal use.
No no, grace isn’t cheap. It is just as expensive for the giver as it is the receiver.
Love and life
I’ve been reflecting on my years of dating. It’s strangely familiar yet so far away. Growing old really has a strange effect on you. Here’s what I thought of those years and how I made sense of myself:
Looking back at the years I spent chasing skirts, I cannot say that any of those years were wasted. I’ve laughed and cried and made a huge mess of things, but I value every minute of it. Every single time I put myself out, I have loved. Taking a broader view of love as more than an expression, emotion or character. It is an experience (1 John 4:16). If you haven’t loved, you haven’t lived. It’s an old saying but it sounds a bit like a bible verse we are familiar with isn’t it? (“If I have not love, I am nothing.” 1 Cor 13:2)
Honestly, I could not keep away from girls. I get lonely when I don’t have the companionship I desire. Is that a bad thing? No. It means I am not gifted with the gift of singlehood. It means I was built for community and relationships. But I am aware of the effects of this desire. I would not allow myself to be overwhelmed with it. I would not let my life be ruled by it. I cannot say that I’ve done very well there.
The times that I really began to devote myself to seeking God’s word was when I was at my loneliest – in NS. When I had to stay in camp, with nothing else to do. No girlfriend, no computer, no television. I started studying my bible and reading authors like C.S. Lewis and Philip Yancey. Was I still lonely? Hell yeah. It sure didn’t take me long to find another skirt to chase. Life is about relationships and I just cannot keep away from them! I only thank God that He redeems even my dumbest decisions.
I remember the first time I held a girl’s hand (I’m not talking about group prayer), it was a huge rush of sensations. The first kiss was strangely pleasurable. Physical intimacy is like a slippery slope. There is no way of climbing back up, all I can do is slide slower. Much like eating a packet of M&Ms during a lecture – how long can you keep away from the open packet before finishing it all up? The chocolate needs to hold up until I get out of the lecture. The longer the lecture, the longer between each M&M. More time to get to the end of the packet, more effort needed to hold off. A man only has that much strength before he gives way. That being said, I believe in short dating and early marriages. Maybe because I am a person that speaks in intimacy.
“The right girl at the wrong time is still the wrong girl.” – Doc John
Few statements make more sense to me when it comes to dating and marriage. If I meet a nice woman after I’m married, it’s the wrong woman – turn away. If I meet a woman 5 years before I’m ready to be married, it’s the wrong woman – turn away. That being said, no one defines the right time other than me. I don’t want to slide on the slippery slope for 5 years! Might be ok for some, but not for me.
My decisions have not always been about what makes sense or what I believe. Wisdom is not knowing what to do, it is having the experience and ability to carry out what you know. I’ve made some pretty bad decisions with and without knowledge. I am only thankful that Christ redeems and restores.
Love will keep us alive
Call me idealistic or whatever you want to call me. There are a million things about the future which are unknown at any one point in time. But I believe that future is what I make of it. If I believe that love will keep us alive, it darn well will. I didn’t care if I didn’t have a job yet or if I won’t be earning much. If the person I was dating was willing to walk with me, we’ll walk and we’ll be happy. Of course, I’m not irresponsible and I don’t intend to be a bum. There are a million unknowns in life, but if we’re willing to work it out, it’ll work out. Some call it stupidity, I call it adaptability and commitment.
If it means, going through multiple phrases in life through dating and marriage, then that’ll do. If things change, things change, but we stay together. Many people talk about preempting problems and differences. I think that is wise. I also think it is wise to understand that not everything can be foreseen, that commitment and flexibility is needed.
Now that my dating years are over, I am thankful that my lovely wife-to-be accepts me for who I am, where I have been and who I will become. I am blessed to have Sara walking beside me. Come rain or come sunshine, we will walk on.
I have been feeling excited and nervous about getting married (although I already legally am, I’m just feeling it more). It marks a big change. It means no more choosing which girl is the best one. It means I am responsible for providing. It means one day, I will have little creatures running around my house calling me “Dad”. It means a whole lot of things, and all of which have so far been unfamiliar to me.
I realised that I need to make (new) sense of my past, present and future in a totally different way and I need to do so very quickly. God grant me perspective.