Monthly Archives: January 2012
Now before you run off and go report me to the SPCA (or some other animal anti-cruelty organisation) for having ill thoughts towards an animal, my dog is not dead. (Yet!) But I will confess that I have asked God that question. And I will confess too that I didn’t feel bad asking that question!! You see, my dog is 15+ years old. In human terms, that is not very old but in doggie years, it’s ancient (something like 105 years).
At 105, my dog is practically blind and deaf, has lost muscle mass that borders on anorexic (yet eats like a horse), and gets herself “stuck” in the corner of a wall. She kicks her food and water over on a regular basis, and if it were not for me being home to be able to replenish the water supply, she would probably have died from dehydration a long time ago. In a nutshell, she’s extremely demanding.
But that is not the worst of it!!! Besides getting herself stuck in the corner of a wall, she has this (annoying) tendency of getting herself stuck behind or in any (and many) type of object (even her kennel). And so many times I would hear this soft whimper that would gradually increase into a type of continuous yelping howl, and I would have to go fish her out of whatever mess she’s gotten herself into.
Now, it was after one of these yelping-get-me-out-my-mess-again occasions that I turned heavenward and asked “God! Why is my dog not dead yet?” I mean, it was the fourth time that morning alone and each time she was IN THE SAME STUPID HOLE. Wouldn’t you be frustrated too?
There’s a Christian saying that has done its rounds which goes, “Be careful of what one asks of God as He may just give it to you.” But it can also be said to be true that one must be careful to talk to God as He may just answer you. And this He did.
After asking God why my dog was still alive, He said, “You’re studying to become a pastor and as a pastor, you’re going to have to go fish some of your members out of the mess that they’re going to get themselves into. And sometimes, they’ll be getting themselves into the same mess over and over and over and over again, and each time, you’re just going to have to go fish them out.” And so there it was! I had the answer to my question – my dog was still alive to teach me a lesson.
Now you may be asking, what is the point of me telling you this story? Two things. Firstly, God does speak (yes even today). You just gotta be prepared to listen (and then obey) (see James 1:5, James 4:2, 1 John 5:14, 1 Timothy 5:5, James 1:23). The second thing is that God has a plan and a purpose for EVERYTHING that is happening in your life. If you are going through something, pray and ask God what it is that He is wanting to teach/reveal to you. You may not get a quick answer, but I assure you that there IS a reason (see Romans 8:28).
my name is Darryl
and this is what I have to say
PS – At my dogs age, it has been suggested that I have her put out to ease her own suffering. That would help me indeed. But I have prayed (before this whole event took place) that God would take her at His own time. So clearly there is more for me still to “learn” or experience through her. May God give me the grace to learn quickly.
Scripture references (all NIV)
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
James 4:2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.
1 John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
1 Timothy 5:5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.
James 1:23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Is the question I find myself asking more and more. And the events or occasions that have triggered this question, has led me to conclude that marketeers (and by profession, marketing) has robbed (and is robbing) Christianity of Christians. Let me explain.
I go to a specific shopping centre quite often and on a few occassions in the last few months, have observed how a certain product stands’ sales people have approached shoppers. It has been quite amusing I must add. These sales people are promoting one or other range of beautifying products. The amusing part is that the guy sales people target the women shoppers, and the girl sales people target the men shoppers (and it worked many times).
What I noticed was that the approach was always started with a very big smile. And if someone smiled back or made eye contact, KABOOM, they’d hone in on them and start with the sales pitch. And this is the truth that you and I both know – smile back or make eye contact and your time (and maybe your wallet) is toast. You may even walk away with a sense of guilt for not stopping and listening, as we have been brought up to greet back when greeted (that’s just manners).
So what do we do? We DON’T smile and we DON’T make eye contact. Becasue we know that if we do, it’s tickets. And herein lies the problem – as a genuine ‘trying-to-reach-the-lost’ Christian, I (and others) have become conditioned to NOT smiling or looking at people (strangers). And unfortunately, this phenomena has been carried over into the Church.
This poses two challenges for us. The first is that we struggle to get members to eagerly want to smile and greet strangers – they’re simply not accustomed to it. The second is that the strangers themselves are weary of smiling back, wondering “Why are you smiling at me? What do you want from me?” They themselves too know that they’re being smiled at for a reason.
Now yes, our reason as Christians for smiling at them is (hopefully) to make them feel welcome and a part of the family. But THEY don’t know that yet. Remember, they’re just used to being ‘abused’ if someone approaches them that is smiling, not genuinely interested in them themselves.
But there is a third challenge that this whole situation presents us with – the sales people themselves. They are being conditioned to believe that if you want something from someone, you put a big fat smile on your face and talk nice to them. And if they (the person being approached) are not interested in what you have to offer, you simply move onto the next one.
Now consider that this very sales person could be that very same new stranger coming to Church with this background conditioning, thinking, “why are you smiling at me”. And later still, this very same sales person may be the one smiling and greeting people, but still have this ‘smile-and-move-on’ conditioning embedded in their sub-conscious, possibly contributing to a lack of genuiness approach. And so the cycle becomes viscious and unending.
So what are the answers to all this?
There are no easy answers. We live in a secular world. Marketing is not going to be going away soon. In a world where it is dog eat dog, even Christian business people have to succomb to the marketing strategies that ‘appeal’ to the consumer. But they can also explore alternative approaches. Jesus never said it would be easy in the end times. The real question is where does your faith lie? In man or God? Does your trust lie in man’s way of doing things or God’s? Pray and ask God how to market your business in a responsible way (see Phillipians 4:6).
For every Christian believer, Jesus said that we must carry our cross (Luke 14:27), and as strange as it might sound, smiling is a cross that we have to bear. Considering what I have said, it is a cross, because it means opening ourselves up to being targeted by strangers with the intent of being used. But we then also open ourselves up to the potential blessing of entertaining angels (see Hebrews 13:2).
We need to then also carefully consider how we as Christians approach strangers as we too may come across as only wanting to engage because we ‘want’ something. We need to therefore consider how the stranger perceives us. We MUST therefore still smile. But we MUST be GENUINE. Let us not fall failure to the warning of Jesus that in the end (because of wickedness), the love of many will grow cold (and we will no longer smile) (Matthew 24:12).
my name is darryl
and this is what i have to say
Philippians 4:6 (NIV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Luke 14:27 (NIV) And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Hebrews 13:2 (NIV) Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
Matthew 24:12 (NKJV) And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
And have the mark(s) to prove it!!! Okay, okay!!! so I’m not really a housewife (I’m a guy). But I am a househusband. For those that are in the loop (in other words close to me), know that about 6 months ago I resigned from my day job to take over the running of the household whilst my wife re-entered the working world to bring in the finances. And just the other day as I was standing and brushing my teeth, my wife quipped after observing my dry and cracked heels, “Gosh, but you’re really looking like a housewife now.” So here I am – a wanna be Tony Danza from Who’s the Boss fame.
It did not offend me at all (it just itches sometimes), but it did make me think of how much of who one is, is communicated by what people can see. Yes, it is true that one should not judge a book by its cover, but the truth is that we DO make judgement calls about what we think people are like, based on their exterior appearance. St Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” In effect, what he was saying, was live the Christian life such that people can observe your Christianity by what they can see (exterior appearances). Jesus alluded to this when He said “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NKJV).
And so, I don’t have to necessarily tell anyone that I am a stay at home dad (or a Christian). All that they have to do is take a look at my feet (and my life).
But a more important mark is not the one that we bear, but the one that Christ bears of us. In the movie Toy story, Buzz Lightyear says to some of the other toys that he has been accepted into their culture as their leader (Andy the child and owner of the toys) had written his name on him (Buzz). The dinosaur toy excitedly remarks, “With permanent ink” implying that it will never change. Now the truth unfortunately is, that with a little bit of water and a brush, that permanent ink name will indeed dissappear.
But not the one Jesus bears of you. Jesus said, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you [the temporal mark that we now bear], but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20 NKJV). And “I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it” (Revelation 2:17 NIV).
And finally, this is the only mark to be written with truly permanent ink, NEVER to fade: “He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels” (Revelation 3:5 NIV).
Does Jesus bear your name?
my name is darryl
and this is what i have to say