Friday, March 13, 2009

Sheep in Need of Shepherd: Apply Within – Part Two

This builds upon my last, if you're new I'd suggest reading Part One first.

"As the letters poured in, I realized that while God had graciously used my book to help some people, it had also raised a lot of questions…." "The main point of I Kissed Dating Goodbye was: "If you're not ready for marriage, wait on romance." But now my fellow singles were asking, "How can you know when you are ready for marriage? And once you're ready, what should you do?" To be honest, I hadn't figured that out yet. I never meant to become an expert on relationships…."–
Joshua Harris, Boy Meets Girl. 1
Okay, I do appreciate Josh Harris. I like his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye; it helped bring people back to common sense. It's a big duh to me that if you're not ready to get married, (basically between the ages of 14 and 18, most people would agree that you're not going to marry at 15!) it's smart just to abstain from romantic relationships. Just wait until you're more mature and can handle the pressures. Smart. Great Idea. Bravo Josh for having some sense. Now, back to the subject at hand, Josh had some major sheep writing to him. No, I'm not being mean, I'm stating a fact. Why would anyone be so needy as to feel the have to contact the author of the book for advice on their romantic relationships? Why did Josh even write Boy Meets Girl? All I would have said is: "Sorry, guys, you're going to have to make it up as you go. Read your Bible and talk to God. Be an adult and use your head." No one can lead you by the hand as you grow up. That's something I've learned more and more as I become an adult. One thing I've learned is to rarely ask for advice, to rarely accept advice, and to only give advice when pressed. It's not to be cocky or because I think that I'm above other's advice…it's that experience tells me to listen to God and my own instincts. As I was reading Lord of the Rings, I was reminded of this by a certain quote. "Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill. But what would you? You have not told me all concerning yourself; and how then shall I choose better than you?" 2 Advice is a dangerous gift. Use it wisely.
Back to Josh Harris, why did he write Boy Meets Girl? I can think of a few reasons…the chief one being…uh, money. The first book sold well…people seem to need guidance…a new book will likely do very well…it's tempting to write more. Do you really blame him? Well, I guess I do. Personally, I wish he'd stopped while he was ahead. Courtship and Dating are so complicated that writing a book about how to do it will always be controversial and subject to lots of criticism. Well, it should be; because, there is no correct way, there is no easy way, and there is no method for success. Love is not a thing that you can diagram like a weather pattern. You don't wake up in the morning and think, "I'll fall in love today and it'll all work out beautifully." If you read a love story somewhere, you may as well say, "Well, it won't happen to me like that,"—because it won't. No two stories are ever exactly alike. You could live for a hundred years, travel the earth, hear many stories, and still not have scratched the surface of possibilities. The Gospel doesn't give us a list of do's and don'ts—it gives us principles for life and everything attached to it and that's called flexibility. God knew that rules don't work for everything and part of his plan is to make every person's story different. Love is a strange thing. "There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand. The way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden."3 If the Proverb writer could not understand it…you're not going to be able to either. But when the time comes, God will give you understanding and then you'll know what it's all about. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."4


1: Joshua Harris, Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship, Moltnomah Publishers, 2000. Quotation from Chapter 1, page 19.
2: Gildor Inglorian, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book I, Chapter III, Page 83.
3: Proverbs 30: 18-19.
4: Matthew 6:34.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sheep in Need of Shepherd: Apply Within – Part One

Many people in this world are like sheep, needing a shepherd. They have to be led. They have to follow what someone else says. They settle for second best. History shows this in every era. "What is has already been, and what will be has been before."1 Only a few people are brash enough to seize the leading position and only a few people are brave enough to stand up against them. The rest follow like sheep to slaughter. People like Doug Phillips show up every few years, proclaiming that they hold the answer and encouraging the populace to "think for themselves." In actuality, they are taught to think, talk, and reason like their leader. They have no minds of their own and are constantly looking for guidance. All their young men and women can recite is the gospel according to Doug Phillips and his minions. They are taught to believe that every word he says is true. That what he believes is the right and true thing. "Just because you are taught somethin's right, and everybody believes that it's right, it don't make it right."2 What a tremendous weight to put upon a sinful human being. I pity Doug Phillips and Scott Brown and Jonathon Lindvall and Little Bear and Mr. Botkin and his daughters and the Harris Twins and their brother Josh and everyone else in a "position of honour." Someday, these mere mortals will pass away and will go back to dust as all things do in their time. What happens to the sheep then? Their shepherd is gone… where will they go? Why must people be lead from one place to another? And Christians too! People that claim to be followers of Christ! Just who are you following? Jesus or someone else? Are you living according to His words or by a mere mortal's words? They're going to die eventually and so are you. Will what they say even matter in 50 years time? Yeah, patriarchy people are trying to extend themselves beyond their years…but I don't think it'll work. They're not God. They're not even close and neither is anyone else. "As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?" So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?"3 People do need guidance. It's a fact. But the only guidance that you or I need comes from the Good Shepherd. It's amazing how, if every day, you spend quality time reading your Bible and praying and trusting in God—you don't need any other books. It's as if your need for guidance just drains away and if you do need direction, you look to your Bible and prayer before anything or anyone else. Don't ever put anyone in Jesus' place as your Shepherd.

The Shepherd and His Flock – John 10:1-18
"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."


- Works Cited -
1: Ecclesiastes 3:15.
2: Jim, The Adventures of Huck Finn, Walt Disney Pictures, 1993.

3: Ecclesiastes 3:18-22.