Archive for October, 2010

Embracing freedom

Monday, October 25th, 2010

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Romans 14:22-23

I think Christianity has got a pretty bad name for being the freedom inhibitor. We’re the party poopers, the boring bunch. The whole bible screams “Thou shalt not” and we all live under it’s chains. But really, that isn’t the case.

What I am talking about are areas of freedom, and not specific areas which God specifically commands. What are areas of freedom? They are gray areas which the bible holds no specific command about. However, they may sometimes have guiding principles. It is almost as if we guilt trip and condemn ourselves (and others) in these areas of freedom.

Have another look at Romans 13:14 – 15:13. Don’t just look at how it relates to others, look also to how it relates to our own walk and convictions.

When we stop condeming ourselves, we can stop condemning others.

The truth about life

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Rule 1: Life is not fair-get used to it.
Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3: You will NOT make 40 Thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone, until you earn both.
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.
Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping-they called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. You have to do that on your own time.
Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one
Excerpt from “50 rules kids won’t learn in school” by educator Charles J. Sykes who is also the author of many “Dumbing down our kids” books

That being said about life, this is a guy who has not gone through the turbulent period of life as a parent called “teenagehood” at the time that he wrote the book. His views have not changed since it seems.

Two Sons

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Luke 15:11-32 is The Parable of The Prodigal (lost) Son. It is the story of all of us really.

The drill down
One in 100 sheep, one in 10 coins, one in 2 sons. The emphasis on our importance in the eyes of God stands out without a doubt. We are more important than anything and everything else on this earth!

Lost to rock bottom
When was the son lost? He was lost long before he squandered all he had (v13), long before the land was hit with a famine (v14), long before he was feeding pigs (v15) and long before he was starving (v16). He was lost when he had asked for his inheritance (v12).

It is easy to disregard our need for a saviour when we are doing well. We often don’t see ourselves as lost until we hit rock bottom. Problem is, what if our rock bottom is in front of his judgement seat? That is more than a bit late.

“Those who wait to repent until the eleventh hour often die at ten-thirty.”

Symptoms
When the son began to be in need, he went to look for a job. He delt with the symptom, not the source. The source was that he was estranged from his father, the rightful provider. We often only recognise the symptoms then try to deal with them in our own ability. It might solve ONE problem, but leave every other symptom hanging and the source growing. Much like trying to cure cancer by only dealing with the symptoms, it could (and probably would) make things worse – not only did the son have to feed pigs (v15), but he wasn’t given anything for feeding the pigs (v16). Go to the source.

Realisation
The realisation for the need to repent did not come from the son’s dire circumstance after hitting rock bottom, nor did it come from fear that we would be unacceptable to his father. Instead, it come from a realisation of the goodness of his father (v17). Why should he have to endure this hardship when his father is infintely good and generous, even with hired servants!

It was not out of fear that we repent, it is out of a clear view of God’s goodness!

Sorrow to salvation
When was the son found? He was not found when he realised that his father could provide food (v17, Rom 2:4), nor was he found when he premeditated his speech to be accepted (v18-19). Not even found yet when he began his journey back (v20). He was found when his father found him (v24, 27, 2 Cor 7:10).

We are found when Jesus finds us (v6, v9, v27 – notice the emphasis on being found by and not us finding) and we are found in Him. Our repentance is not just the beginning of the journey, it is the journey for our lifetime until we are completely found in Him.

Servant to son
The older son saw himself as a servant (v29 – verb “douleun” related to “doulos” meaning servant or “douloi” meaning household bondservants) when God saw him as his son (“teknon” an affectionate term meaning child). The younger son came as a servant (v19 – “misthioi” meaning contract labourers, not even household servant) when God received him as his son (“v24 – huios” meaning son).

To see ourselves right is to believe and live right. The older son lived right (obediently) but believed wrongly. The younger son lived wrong (squandered) but believed right. Neither of them were right! See our sonship.

The point
It wasn’t about lambs or goats (v29) nor was it about inheritance (v32). Celebration and rejoicing was the point (v6-7, v9-10, v23-24, v32 “edei” meaning it is necessary, not an option). God rejoices. Angels rejoice. The whole heaven throws a grand party. God desires that we rejoice as He rejoices when anyone is found by Him. Even our enemies.

Triple threat

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

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.”
(http://www.rutherford.org/oldspeak/articles/interviews/oldspeak-phelps.html)

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)

Keeping away

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.

Slippery slope

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.

The boxer

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Preparing to pack a punch

The Last Supper

Monday, October 4th, 2010

It dawned upon me just last week that Jesus had a last supper with his disciples. Not that it was a fact, but that it was a supper. See, he could have had a last prayer meeting, evangelical rally or bible study. It wasn’t even a fishing trip or jamming session. He had a supper.

Psalm 104:14-15
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for man to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine,
and bread that sustains his heart.

I have the honour of presenting to you, my wedding presents, from my lovely wife. Cymbals galore! I now finally have a full set of cymbals. Now, all that is missing is a jazz ride (or two).

China trash!

Shiny shimmering splendor