Friday, November 15, 2013

“He didn’t even get down on one knee or anything?”

You boys ask it incredulous, like there’s some kind of manual for this kind of holy.

And I’ve got no qualms in telling you no. No, he didn’t even get down on one knee – it was just a box, a glint of gold in the dark, two hallowed words and a question mark.


I know. When you’ve watched a few dozen mastermind proposals on youtube, shared them with their rolling credits on Facebook, marvelling at how real romance has an imagination like that.

Can I tell you something, sons?

Romance isn’t measured by how viral your proposal goes. The internet age may try to sell you something different, but don’t ever forget that viral is closely associated with sickness – so don’t ever make being viral your goal.

Your goal is always to make your Christ-focus contagious – to just one person.
It’s more than just imagining some romantic proposal.

It’s a man who imagines washing puked-on sheets at 2:30 am, plunging out a full and plugged toilet for the third time this week, and then scraping out the crud in the bottom screen of the dishwasher — every single night for the next 37 years without any cameras rolling or soundtrack playing — that’s imagining true romance.

The man who imagines slipping his arm around his wife’s soft, thickening middle age waistline and whispering that he couldn’t love her more…. who imagines the manliness of standing bold and unashamed in the express checkout line with only maxi pads and tampons because someone he loves is having an unexpected Saturday morning emergency.

The man who imagines the coming decades of a fluid life – her leaking milky circles through a dress at Aunt Ruth’s birthday party, her wearing thick diaper-like Depends for soggy weeks after pushing a whole human being out through her inch-wide cervix, her bleeding through sheets and gushing amniotic oceans across the bathroom floor and the unexpected beauty of her crossing her legs everytime she jumps on the trampoline with the kids.

The real romantics imagine greying and sagging and wrinkling as the deepening of something sacred.

Because get this, kidsHow a man proposes isn’t what makes him romantic. It’s how a man purposes to lay down his life that makes him romantic.

And a man begins being romantic years before any ring – romance begins with only having eyes for one woman now – so you don’t go giving your eyes away to cheap porn. Your dad will say it sometimes to me, a leaning over – “I am glad that there’s always only been you.” Not some bare, plastic-surgeon-scalpel-enhanced pixels ballooning on a screen, not some tempting flesh clicked on in the dark, not some photo-shopped figment of cultural beauty that’s basically a lie.

The real romantics know that stretchmarks are beauty marks and that different shaped women fit into the different shapes of men souls and that real romance is really sacrifice.

I know – you’re thinking, “Boring.”

Can you see it again – how your grandfather stood over your grandmother’s grave and brushed away his heart leaking without a sound down his cheeks?

50 boring years. 50 unfilmed years of milking 70 cows, raising 6 boys and 3 girls, getting ready for sermon every Sunday morning, him helping her with her zipper. 50 boring years of arguing in Dutch and making up in touching in the dark, 50 boring years of planting potatoes and weeding rows on humid July afternoons, 50 boring years of washing the white Corel dishes and turning out the light on the mess – till he finally carried her in and out of the tub and helped her pull up her Depends.

Don’t ever forget it:

The real romantics are the boring ones — they let another heart bore a hole deep into theirs.
Be one of the boring ones. Pray to be one who get 50 boring years of marriage – 50 years to let her heart bore a hole deep into yours.

Let everyone do their talking about 50 shades of grey, but don’t let anyone talk you out of it: committment is pretty much black and white. Because the truth is, real love will always make you suffer. Simply commit: Who am I willing to suffer for?

Who am I willing to take the reeking garbage out for and clean out the gross muck ponding at the bottom of the fridge? Who am I willing to listen to instead of talk at? Who am I willing to hold as they grow older and realer? Who am I willing to die a bit more for every day? Who am I willing to make heart-boring years with? Who am I willing to let bore a hole into my heart?

Get it: Life – and marriage proposals — isn’t not about one up-manship — it’s about one down-manship. It’s about the heart-boring years of sacrifice and going lower and serving. It’s not about how well you perform your proposal. It’s about how well you let Christ perform your life.

Sure, go ahead, have fun, make a ridiculously good memory and we’ll cheer loud: propose creatively — but never forget that what wows a woman and woos her is you how you purpose to live your life.
I’m praying, boys — be Men. Be one of the ‘boring” men and let your heart be bore into.

And know there are women who love that kind of man.
The kind of man whose romance isn’t flashy – because love is gritty.
The kind of man whose romance isn’t about cameras — because it’s about Christ.
The kind of man whose romance doesn’t have to go viral — because it’s going eternal.

No, your dad did not get down on one knee when he proposed – because the romantic men know it’s about living your whole life on your knees.

There are Fridays. And the quiet romantics who will take out the garbage without fanfare. There will be the unimaginative calendar by the fridge, with all it’s scribbled squares of two lives being made one. The toilet seat will be left predictably up. The sink will be resigned to its load of last night’s dishes.

And there is now and the beautiful boring, the way two lives touch and go deeper into time with each other.

The clock ticking passionately into decades.

(taken from: Ann Voskamp

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

On Legalism

My sons,

Many will come and try to convince you that obeying and keeping God's commands is legalism. They will tell you that you need not holy habits like prayer, keeping the Lord's day, communion, baptism, worship together with other believers, mortification of the flesh, the reading of God's Holy Word, singing His psalms in worship, and hearing the Word preached.

Keep your ears away from such, for they follow the desires of their sinful nature. They desire that which pleases their senses. They like little religion, and justify their sins by saying they are 'free'.

Legalism is trying to keep the law in order to earn salvation by your 'good works'. But remember, keeping God's commands and obeying them (battling the flesh to keep them even when our plans are disrupted),  is not legalism. You are not working towards something you earn or deserve. Keeping them is love. Love towards the One who saved you. Towards the One who gave His precious blood as a payment for your soul.

He says: "If you love me, keep my commandments". It does not give us freedom to do as we please; but our pleasures are now to be transformed, mortified, purged and  aligned to His will and His pleasures. We will desire that which He desires and enjoy what He enjoys.

It is a painful process, it is a cross to carry, it is a battle to fight, with a great reward. Carry it humbly seeing your own frailty. Carry it strong, as a soldier in the middle of the battle.

Like R. C. Sproul said: "Freedom is a precious commodity. But our freedom has limits. We are under restraints and we are accountable. We are ultimately answerable to God. We are simply not permitted to do everything we might want to do"

Be careful, be on your guard. Be diligent and work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Watch your heart and know it well. If there is in your daily work a sense of 'earning' God's favor, step back and remember how impossible it is for you to please Him on your own in the first place. It is finished. His work, His purchase, His acceptance, His victory. And now, looking at the cross, at His finished work, at the redeeming blood, you have nothing else to give but to obey because of love.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

On forgiveness of sins

"I assure you that any sin can be forgiven"

These words fall lightly on the ears of many persons. They see no particular beauty in them. But to the man who is alive to his own sinfulness and deeply sensible of his need of mercy, these words are sweet and precious. "All sins shall be forgiven." The sins of youth and age--the sins of head, and hand, and tongue, and imagination--the sins against all God's commandments--the sins of persecutors, like Saul--the sins of idolaters, like Manasseh--the sins of open enemies of Christ, like the Jews who crucified Him--the sins of backsliders from Christ, like Peter--all, all may be forgiven. The blood of Christ can cleanse all away. The righteousness of Christ can cover all, and hide all from God's eyes.

The doctrine here laid down is the crown and glory of the Gospel. The very first thing it proposes to man is free pardon, full forgiveness, complete remission, without money and without price.

Let us lay hold on this doctrine, if we never received it before. It is for us. This very day, if we come to Christ, may be completely forgiven. "Though our sins have been as scarlet, they shall be white as snow." (Isaiah 1:18.)

Let us cleave firmly to this doctrine, if we have received it already. We may sometimes feel faint, and unworthy, and cast down. But if we have really come to Jesus by faith, our sins are fully forgiven. They are cast behind God's back--blotted out of the book of His remembrance--sunk into the depths of the sea. Let us believe and not be afraid.
 J.C Ryle

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

On approaching you

It has been 14 years since I became a mother. I almost smell your baby your clothes, feel your soft skin, hear your baby noises and your cry. There is nothing I wanted more for you, than the best in life. Little by little I understood, that the best in life was nothing to be found on earth, but to be hidden in the arms of God. To be loved by Him and to live for Him alone; anything else, was secondary.

As I learned to be a mom, I had to die to many things which I had no idea I was attached to, idols I did not know I had, and to see my self not as the righteous person I wanted you to see in me. I wanted you to see Christ in me, and follow my "holy" ways. I wanted to be the perfect sweet loving godly mother I knew I could be if I worked at it. How little I knew myself!

I had to learn often the hard way, to approach you with all patience and humility, as a sinner approaches other sinner. Not as a righteous person with no mistakes, or as a sinless mother with a sinless past. Not as someone who has it all together, or that I have nothing to learn from you because I am older and much wiser than you.  Humbling myself before you was a daily task. How often you did not see Christ in me, instead,  my sinful nature was exposed.

My wisdom, righteousness (or self righteousness), and all my 'good' works, were put to shame very quickly. I realized that even at a young age as yours, the Lord taught me wisdom, true repentance, faith, and obedience, through you. My beloved self righteousness was taught to go quietly on her knees and ask the gracious Lord for a repented heart, for His work to be done in me as I continue in the task commanded by Him: to raise these children in His way, not mine.

My comfort in your salvation and in your character does not rest in my work, but in the work of my Savior. The work of Christ on the cross. On His precious life and blood shed in exchange for yours. I cannot save you, I cannot give you life. But Christ alone can. All good that you see in me or even in you, is God's work. There is no credit I can take for any of your goodness, righteousness, kindness,... because all my work is empty if God does not build you up. Yet, He can build anything without my work.

I find it an honor and pure pleasure that the Lord has given me the grace to have you in my life, to give me the blessed opportunity to be part of His precious work in your life. And as the privilege that it is, I want to do my work faithfully, knowing that all my efforts are for Him and by Him.

And so I come to you, as a sinner working out my own salvation with fear and trembling, encouraging to keep your eyes fixed in the Lord, The beginner and finisher of our faith, and to rest in that promise, that He will never leave you nor forsake you. His love is perfect, His love is without blemish. He is The Righteous One, He is The Holy One, He is The One whose works are enough and His way is perfect. He is The perfect parent whom I only try to imitate, though I am  far from it. So I ask you, see me as a sinner, and see Him as the Savior of sinners, while together we walk in the faith given to us by our Father.