Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Is there a stranger in your home?

Here is a little story doing the rounds. I liked it:

Ever since I can remember, a stranger has been living with us. From the beginning, Dad has been fascinated with this enchanting family addition. The stranger has been a vital part of the family, even before my arrival. As I grew up, I never questioned his place in our family. In my young mind, he had a special niche.

My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger... he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies. If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future!

He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind. Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.)

Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home - not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our long time visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush. My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol but the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing...

I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked... And NEVER asked to leave. The stranger has blended right into our family and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents' den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.

His name?.... We just call him 'TV.' He has a wife now....we call her 'Computer.'

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Stumbling blocks

After re-directing a friend to one of my blog posts, he walked away with completely the wrong message. I was trying to point out that without Christ my friend is lost and hopeless. Instead he walked away confused as he was introduced to the Calvinist / Arminian debate on the nature and state of the free will of man, in the midst of an abortion debate. I can understand him being confused.

Which leads me to think: if someone walks away with the wrong message, who is to blame? I have to admit that I am at least partly to blame for not being clear in what I am trying to get across.

But then I realize: God is in control, even to the point where my friend may remain blind. All I can do is take the horse to water, how the horse gets himself tangled in the weeds is not something I intened, nor was it the point of what I was trying to accomplish. God knows what everyone needs and when they need it. I am not going to abandon the garden just because something went wrong1. I know that creation, abortion, denominationislm, calvinism etc. all create FAR MORE heated arguments within and without the church, and they ought to be issues that get addressed. If someone peeks their head in and gets the wrong message, that is really not my fault.

Nor is it God's. They have the full access to the right information. The point of my blog about infants was not to stir the arminian / calvin debate, but rather to display the glory of God in the consistency of salvation for ALL MEN (babies included). What that blog is saying is that infants that die go to heaven because they are saved by a gracious Father. The question one should walk away with is not how to hate arminian theology, but to strike the correct kind of fear in the heart for that person to say

"if I can only get to heaven the way those children gets into heaven, surely I am without hope."

The fear that results from that would cause any person to seek an alternative, and the desire would cause them to call out

"Lord, I am a sinner, I am without hope, I cannot save myself! Only you can save. Please save me."

This is my gospel, that God answers that prayer, and that it is not the praying of the prayer that saves, but the God who gave you the fear of Himself that saves. For you cannot pray this prayer meaningfully unless God gives you the ability. This is so there may be no boasting in your salvation other than boasting about the work Christ has done, not the work / prayer that you have done.

1 Wrong in my opinion. There is a Sovereign God at work after all.