Today, on the feast of St. Martin of Tours, let us remember his example. He saw so clearly and stated so plainly:
I am a soldier of Christ. I cannot fight.
Someone handed me a tract today and asked me what I thought of Jesus. I told him that Jesus is my Lord and Saviour, but he didn’t hear me. He was too busy talking over me about what “interesting” times we are living in nowadays.
A few years ago my teenagers and I followed an evangelist into a German town to watch him evangelise and then have a go ourselves. He got talking to a pretty young German woman and her friends. When they got to the topic of Jesus she told him (through a translator because he was speaking in English) that she believed in Jesus. He didn’t ask what she believed about Jesus, he just went on, assuming that her beliefs were wrong. He told her she must put on Jesus like a parachute. Find that in the Bible!
I’m not an expert at evangelism but I think if you are not interested in hearing what a person is telling you they believe and meeting them where they are, then you can hardly be said to be loving your neighbour as yourself. If you are too busy trying to carry on with your marketing spiel to hear someone declare Jesus Christ their Lord and Saviour right to your face, then whatever method you are using, you’re doing it wrong.
I’m a soft-spoken man, but it’s not hard to hear me when I’m standing right in front of you.
I gave him back his tract.
Can I just get this out there and then maybe some people can tell me I’m over-reacting, or maybe I have a point? It might be worth discussing.
I had a children’s praise song stuck in my head recently (as only children’s songs can get stuck). As the lyrics were playing on a loop in my mind I began to have a big problem with what they were saying. Now, this is a fairly well known song. I’ve been in services where this was sung and I’ve probably even preached and lead services where this was sung and enjoyed by the kids, but now I have a problem with it that I didn’t notice before. Here’s the first verse of the song and the bit I have a problem with:
We want to see Jesus lifted high
A banner that flies across the land
That all men might see the truth and know
He is the way to heaven
What? “He is the way to heaven”? That’s the message you want to get out about Jesus? That He is the way to get somewhere? That He is the means to an end? What this line says is true but listen, Jesus is not the means to an end, He is the end. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Lord.
It’s true, Jesus is the only way to heaven, but if I want to go to heaven it’s because Jesus is there with nothing to separate us or cloud my perception of Him.
Jesus is what our faith is about, not the things he can do for us or the places he can take us, we need to teach our kids that. Don’t demote Jesus to the role of celestial ticket vendor.
Overheard in a Bantry bookshop: A middle-aged West Cork woman asking staff about book she had forgotten the name of.
– It’s just one word, a bestseller.
– In the same vein as The DaVinci Code, but just one word.
– Worldwide bestseller.
– 50 Shades of Grey?
– That’s the one!
I’ve been away for a while. I was teaching and mentor-ing at a course in Greystones called “Encounter” for World Harvest Mission. I turned 30. And Sarah and I have a kitten now. We call him Tozer. He likes to climb, which is all right for a cat I suppose. Normal blogging service shall resume shortly, my wife is hungry for dinner now though, so I must go.
When Sarah and I announced our engagement a few people were surprised we were getting married while we were still young. In Ireland it seems common to put off marriage until your 30s at least. When I was doing some research to prepare for my speech at our wedding reception every example of a groom’s speech that I saw on an Irish site contained a line like this: “[X] and I have been living together for [Y] years now”, and many had reference to their children being part of the celebration. (I eventually winged that speech. Nailed it too!) People say they’re not yet ready to settle down. That was one of the reservations some friends had regarding marriage – they didn’t want to settle down, they wanted to go have fun first.
What I want to know is, where are they getting this “settle down” stuff from? Why do people equate getting married with the end of fun, with growing old and ending your adventures. Sure, if your adventures consist of sleeping around then I guess a faithful marriage would mean settling down from your sleeping around, but those who are already in a committed monogamous relationship who want to hold off on marriage because they’re not ready to “settle down” – I just don’t get it. I just don’t understand why people associate marriage with the end of their fun times. When I married Sarah I teamed up with my favourite human being to go on an adventure together. I committed to sticking by her, regardless of mood or circumstance, wherever life takes us. I have no intention of settling down and marriage has in fact “shaken up” my life.
Since Sarah and I were married in August we have travelled to Malta, India, Switzerland, France and Sweden, we have also travelled to beautiful places around Ireland and plan to do some more travelling around beautiful West Cork this summer. That’s just the travelling side of things and it’s only an easy illustration of the great difference being married to Sarah has made to my life. As a married man I have been encouraged by my wife to learn to swim, learn to drive, gain a TEFL qualification and am altogether a more active and happier person. Marriage itself is an adventure. I have discovered that I will never stop discovering things to love about Sarah. She encourages me, challenges me and pulls me up on my shitty behaviour and attitudes, which frankly needs doing from time to time.
I’m not saying that these things above cannot be achieved outside of marriage, what I’m saying is that those who have reservations about getting married while in adult committed monogamous relationships are going to have to come up with a better excuse than not wanting to “settle down” yet. Change the script, I’m not buying it.
Sarah and I were kayaking in Cork harbour yesterday, on our adventure enjoying life together. Life is certainly more of an adventure for both of us since we got married.
Here’s a TED Talk by Susan Cain, the author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking”.