Saturday, 22 June 2013

Could I Be In Love?

 How many times have we heard and said the words “falling in love”, either in reference to our own feelings or someone else’s? Probably too many times to count, right?

A few weeks ago as I was listening to a track by Beleaf Melanin, I came across a line in which he says, “Why fall in love when you can stand in it.” I paused and seriously thought about it, and knew I had to address this sooner or later.

It was at that moment I realized that most of the time we think we know what love is when we really don’t. I mean the phrase “fall in love” seems harmless and on point, but did you ever think about where that phrase came from or what it really means?
Our minds have been so poisoned that we often don’t notice that we have a warped view of what love is, especially in relation to the opposite sex.

What I want to do here is give you something from what I’ve been learning from experience, observation and studies about love.

If you know anything about my history you’d know that I received an Honors award in heartbreakery and infatuation, which is a prestigious award for the foolish and ignorant. I’ve broken hearts and been heartbroken all because I thought I knew what love was when I really didn’t. Even after Christ gave me a new heart I still thought wrongly about love, and in the process hurt myself and others around me. I remember often asking myself how long I’d keep moving in the same cycle, liking the same girls, and ending up in the same trashy pile I just came from. I was ready to give up on love entirely, it seemed hopeless and empty, because I thought as long as I had anything to do with hearts there would be a crack straight down the middle. I was tired of this, and I desperately needed a break.

If you’ve ever gone swimming and tried to keep your breath under water and eventually come up to breathe, you’d know the feeling of relief and a rare appreciation for air. When I discovered the true meaning of love it felt like a breath of fresh air as it filled up my lungs and gave me life. When I found Joshua Harris, he gave me not just a fresh view but a biblical and Christ centered perspective or outlook on love. He along with people like Elisabeth Elliot, Randy Alcorn and a few others helped shape my view on relationships, marriage and of course love. I had to correct quite a few wrongs, which included seeking forgiveness from girls whose hearts I had broken and living in repentance of my mistakes. Unfortunately I had to learn the hard way. Do I regret those mistakes? Yes I do, I wish I could rewrite my story, but what’s done is done. By God’s grace I lived to learn from my mistakes, and pray someone learns from mine.

As I learnt what love really is, I also learnt what it isn’t. The world has its own view of love which I had believed for so long, and had allowed to corrupt me. The world’s view of love is as follows:

1.)    Love is for the fulfillment and comfort of self. It’s all about me, and what I want.

2.)    Love is a feeling. It’s all about the warm fuzzy feeling you feel tickling your heart when it skips a beat every time you see that special someone. If that feeling is not there, then it’s not love.

3.)    Love is uncontrollable. I can’t control my feelings; they just happen and control everything about and around me.

It’s scary how we probably think along these lines when we try to define what love is, when in actual fact these points describe what love isn’t. So at this point you may be asking what love is. If it’s not primarily a feeling what is it?

To properly understand love we need to go to the one thing that cannot make a mistake, is inerrant, and all sufficient for everything, yes even about love, and that one thing is the Word of God.
The Bible is a book about love, from beginning to end, telling the greatest love story ever, about The King who graciously died for people that didn’t deserve it (Rom 5:8). All those who find forgiveness and life through Christ are called to follow in His steps, to love others because He first loved us (1 John 4:19)

Through His perfect example, Christ taught that:

1.)    Love is the fulfillment of self but for the glory of God and good of others.
True love is completely selfless, it gives, sacrifices, and dies to its own needs (John 15:13). Jesus died for us, and so we need to be willing to die for others.

2.)    True love is not measured or governed by feelings. True love always expresses itself in obedience to God and service to others. Jesus says in John 14:15 that if we love Him we’ll keep His commands.

3.)    Love is under our control. Jesus chose to love us by choosing to lay His life down for us. I once read that the danger of believing that you “fall in love” is that it also means you can “fall out of love” just as unexpectedly.

Some of you may say that this sounds cliché and unreal, besides Christians have been known to be the cheesiest people with the cheesiest lines, and all because they don’t see life for what it really is. Most people who have this view are the same people who end up getting screwed by ‘love’ and never learn from their mistakes, because they’ve never known what real love is. And trust me, once you understand what real love is it changes your life forever.

“When we extract the poison of self-love, our entire motivation in relationships is transformed…more changes occur when we seek to love with Christ’s love” – Joshua Harris

So what does this look like in practice in our everyday lives? This may sound very theoretical, but what does it look like before our eyes?

Let’s take an example of two people, Steve and Courtney who like each other deeply but before they just throw themselves into a relationship, they critically analyze themselves and ask themselves these questions:

1.)    What is my real intention for getting into this relationship? Is it to satisfy my lusts or my feelings? Is it because of social pressure?

2.)    Am I awakening feelings that I won’t be able to meet with equal commitment?

3.)    If we get into a relationship is it going to help or harm the other persons walk with God?

4.)    If we do get into a relationship at this moment, will someone end up getting hurt?

5.)    Do I have a correct view of marriage?

6.)    Am I thinking about myself or doing what’s best for her/him?

7.)    Am I doing this just because I have feelings for her/him?

These are some hard questions to ask, and some of them painful, but it’s all for the good of others, the glory of God, and your joy. Don’t let feelings guide you, but instead let your feelings be guided by truth and true love (which is not primarily a feeling but an action of goodwill towards another person backed by commitment). Love is a service to and for someone else, and we need not go any further than 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 to understand this.

 Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not arrogant. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.

This is love, it is pure, perfect, long-lasting, true and God honoring. Love is a commitment; it’s sincere, unselfish, and responsible. It’s not about what I can get, but about what I can give. It starts with understanding Christ’s love and responding to it, and expresses itself in how we love one another.

Pursue this kind of love, and don’t let the world falsely define for you what they think love is.

Your friend,

Lenny Kay (a.k.a The Exposition)

Monday, 13 May 2013

Born behind a Pulpit Part 2(Danielle Van Meter)


The story of my being a pastor's kid is difficult story to write in isolation because it is tightly interwoven to the entirety of my life, and bleeds into so many other aspects of my journey. Often when I am in an existential mood, I sift through the personality traits or struggles unique to me and try to trace them back to this aspect of my life. Pastor's daughter. How exactly did that shape me differently than any other member of a family with any other father's vocation?
My life has been a good one. I have no doubt that being a daughter of a pastor comes along with some 'perks'- I've been privileged to see the inner workings of the leadership as the elders move towards new ministries. I have met and spoken to prolific, renowned pastors whose sole reason for remembering me is my last name. I've attended family camps of more churches than I can remember and as a result have met diverse people with endless true-life stories.
But, like life and this groaning creation, nothing is left untouched by the Fall.
My father’s ministry is made up of humans- images of God thoroughly ravished with sin- and he is called to be actively involved in lives for the good of the church. It’s a messy business. There are times that he comes home and anyone can read the empathy on his face from his listening to the brokenness of others. There are times when he doesn't acknowledge my questions because in his mind he is still in his counseling room, or in a hospital, or at the funeral of a little boy. There were times when I was near-tears, yet I would shrink back from telling him why because the laments of a teenage girl seem petty when he has come from counseling a family torn asunder.
At a sensitive age, I was disturbed at the pervasiveness of such brokenness, but now I understand it is a blessing to have grown up seeing the human struggle- and redemption- in such a real, important way.
One remark I’ve often heard from pastor’s kids is a feeling of being held to a higher standard, but I would be underestimating the grace and sympathy of my church family to say that I felt the same. If anything, my pride rendered me incapable of being honest. I was afraid if I was completely open about my sinful struggles and times of doubt, it would reflect badly upon my father. I held back because I thought if somebody found out we were not a fruit-of-the-spirit family all the time, that person would not be able to respect my father in the pulpit. This battle between fierce loyalty and honesty gunned me down for years, until I was able to realize the truth of James 5:16- that where there is honesty among community, there is healing. More than being a good representative of my family, God desires me to be a good representative of Christ. That is freeing, because it means that I am no different than any other redeemed sinner, seeking God on a journey Home. 
I am sure my story on this subject differs from others’, but mine rests on the kind of pastor my dad is.
 I remember when our church once went through a split, and young as I was, I understood what slander was. It ached to the depth of my being- hearing the car pull in late at night, the steady step of my dad, the low voices emanating from my parent's room. It was all too much for me so I draped my blanket over my shoulders and tapped on my parent's door. My ten year old vocabulary lacked the words needed to sufficiently represent my feelings, and I said a feeble, "Dad, I'm sorry people hurt you." Though it was late and my father tired, he sat on the edge of his bed with me and explained to me the necessity of people following their Biblical convictions, even if it meant their leaving the church or causing minor hurts. And that's the kind of man my pastor is. A good one. That's the kind of man my dad is. A good one. He just happens, for me, to be one and the same, and I wouldn’t change that for all the world.

Born Behind a Pulpit(Stories from Pastors Kids) Part 1(Anton Beetge)

Ever wonder what life must be like through another person’s eyes? Imagine what kind of perspective of life you would see, for example what seems blue to you may appear yellow to another. This thought can be mind boggling, and I’m not going to get into the theoretical components of this, but today I want you to see through the eyes of a couple of my friends and at a later stage I’ll tell my story.
My friends and I have a few things in common, but among those things one thing vividly stands out, and this one thing is that we were all born in the same place. This may sound interesting and may confuse you, but what I really mean to say is that we were all born behind a pulpit. We’ve lived  a big part of our lives as Pastors Kids(PK’s), and because of this we can relate at a mutual level where we just understand each other. This article is all about our experiences as PK’s.
Without wasting much time lets get straight into the stories:

So what does your dad do?”
“He’s a minister”
“Oh really? That’s so cool!”
“So he works for the government? What is he a minister of?” 
“The gospel - he is a pastor”

And so goes the familiar conversation brought about by the PK’s mistake of referring to his dad a minister out of context. 
That is the the reality of our lives - we live out of context. Pastor’s kids in particular, and all Christians in general live as aliens in this world, different, set-apart, distinct.

In reading the book of Leviticus - I’ve wondered what it must have been like to live in the home of a priest. Seeing your dad praying for the people, coming home, exhausted and covered in blood as a result of the dozens of sacrifices he had made that day must have been strange. But then I suppose that’s not too far removed from the life I’ve led. 

The life of a PK is marked by unusual activities such as being at church five times a week, having Friday nights planned out in advance, regular meals and visits from church members, giving up your room for a missionary or pastor in-transit and having your dad leave after dinner to go and attend an elders/deacons meeting or visit someone in hospital. 

Let’s face the facts - this is not a normal childhood. As a PK, you only realise this toward the end of primary school, and even then you don’t know the full extent of it until way into high school and beyond. 

Growing up as a young boy in a pastor’s home I saw my dad at work almost every day. To my knowledge, this is unusual - most kids may see their dad doing his work once or twice in their lives, or never. At home my dad was a counsellor after dinner, spending time locked behind the study doors listening to and advising various people from the Word of God. During the day he would be preparing his sermon in his office at the church. Normally, on a Sunday he would leave the house to go and pray before I had even woken up. Later I would sit in the pews and listen to him speaking with an authority that came from outside of himself and explaining what was written in the Bible with a seriousness and gravity that I seldom saw at home. He was presenting The Sacrifice for people to embrace. My life was not too dissimilar to the one I imagined from Leviticus. 

My dad was, of course, more than just a priest - and that’s where the difference comes. Many people knew my dad as the Pastor. I knew my dad was dad, when we were having supper or he was helping me with a school project, or tucking me in at night.  He was my coach on the sports field, encouraging me and shouting instructions from the sidelines. He was my mentor, teaching me to be a man and do manly things. But in every activity he lived, Coram Deo - before the face of God. Although he was a sinner, he was no hypocrite and so God and the Bible were very much a part of my life every day. 

There are negatives to being a pastor’s son, let’s call them, sacrifices. 
For starters, you can count on leaving church last after every service. Other kids cant imagine this. For them, after the benediction its tea time and then home time. Most PK’s on the other hand, know well what the church looks like in the dark, with no one else in it and how to lock it up.

A second negative is a lack of privacy and quiet. A minister’s home is a constant buzz of activity. The question after church on a sunday is not, “What are we having for lunch?” Its, “Who are we having for lunch?”
In addition, as I have already mentioned, during the week people come over for dinner and counselling, there may be a bible study on a Wednesday night, and certainly in my house, we entertained a multitude of missionaries. 
This is not all negative, but I will get to that later. 

A third negative is the scrutiny of others - people expect more of PKs as far as behaviour is concerned. People expect that you know the Scriptures better than other children your age and if you think you can remain anonymous, think again because everyone knows the PKs. 

A fourth negative is not one that is exclusive to PKs, nor is it actually negative. As a PK you have a lot of rules from your parents - they’re strict and consistent. As you speak to non-christian friends, a growing feeling that you are getting the raw end of the deal with your parents begins to fester. You realise that you’re the only one who cant play sport on Sunday, or watch a particular movie with your friends or take part in certain activities. A lot of this doesn’t seem to make sense or be fair. 

A fifth negative is that people will ask you whether you are going to be a preacher like your dad so many times that you eventually begin to feel guilty that you don want to be one. I have never had a desire, or felt a call to the ministry but I often felt like I was disappointing people (not my parents) by saying so. 

A sixth negative for me was that when I was converted, I didn’t have a dramatic, Damascus -Road experience like so many other Christians. Having been brought up in a christian home, my behaviour was always quite good. It was my mind, and my heart that showed my need of a saviour. This meant that I struggled with assurance of salvation for years. I still cant tell you when I was saved. I know it was around the end of primary school but for me it was a process, with no fireworks or 180° turnaround. It took a lot of prayer and wrestling before God made me comfortable with the way I had been converted. I thank God for His grace in saving me from the rebellious childhood experienced by so many other PKs.

Lastly, your life can change dramatically in a short space of time should your dad be called to another church. It means, saying goodbye to your friends, packing up, leaving school and starting again somewhere else. I only had to do this once but it wasn’t easy. 

On the other hand, there are many many positives to being a PK, and in my opinion, they far outweigh the negatives. In fact, I found that as I grew up, came to know Jesus and got a new heart, I came to see many of the negatives as positives. 

The most obvious positive is being exposed to the Truth so often. I know that I am speaking from a human perspective when I say this, but I am sure that I would never have been saved if I had not been exposed to the Word so often and been able to ask questions of my dad whenever I couldn’t understand something. In coming to understand the sovereignty of God, I still marvel at the fact that He caused me to be born into the family that He did, rather than into some Muslim family in Saudi Arabia, where I never would have heard the Truth. 

Another positive is that, as per people’s expectations, you do actually know your bible and doctrine better than other kids your age, or at least that was my experience. Many other people are saved in arminian churches and then go through a long period of battle when they are exposed to the Doctrines of Grace and the rest of reformed theology. I never had that - I grew up believing in things such as God’s sovereignty, man’s sinfulness, election, particular atonement and perseverance of the saints. As I grew in my knowledge of the Scriptures, these things were just confirmed. 

You are forced into ministry life. By that I mean that you are at church so often, you naturally become involved with ministry yourself. You learn what it is to serve, and to give of yourself for others. You have the example of your parents to model this for your too. 

You are saved from, “Pastor worship” by seeing first-hand that preachers are mere men and not supersaints. You view other preachers as worthy of honour, yes, but as fellow Christians on the road of sanctification, and this removes fear. 

As a PK, you are exposed to many other churches - your dad is asked to preach at neighbouring churches and you get to make new friends and see what the state of the Church is in your country. It saves you from thinking that your church is the only one that has ‘got it right.’

You get to meet many interesting people and hear amazing stories of how God is real and active now, just as he has been in history. 

You get the chance to start again - moving to another church is a big upheaval in your life, but I enjoyed the chance to recommit myself to being different for the sake of Christ, and establishing a reputation as one of his disciples. 

I have lived in a pastor’s home now for 19 years (not counting my dad’s 4 years in seminary) and as I look forward to being married at the end of this year, leaving this pastor’s home, and starting one of my own I have come to appreciate the years I spent being a PK. There are unique sacrifices that a PK has to make but there are also so many blessings. I am moving into a chapter of my life where people will not know me as a PK, I’ll just be Anton, but I will always treasure my childhood spent in a pastor’s home and the lessons I learnt there. 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Why I Am Single

Make up, break up, make up, break up…
This was my never ending pattern when it came to my relationships for a long time. I was a slave to the famous heartthrob and didn’t know any better. I could get into further detail but let us leave that for another day.

Time has inevitably passed and I’ve definitely changed (hopefully for the better). In this article I want to give you a view of where I currently am regarding my relationship status and also talk about why I am here.

In the past three weeks or so I have been flooded with the question, “why aren’t you in a relationship?” Its’ really weird that people seem to be asking me this all at the same time. I really don’t mind answering this question, in fact I actually enjoy answering these types of questions.
To each person I gave a reply, I said what I’m going to say to you here. So I’m going to imagine that you the reader are asking me this question as I give an answer.

Meet a friend of mine, a big man standing at about 6.2ft with a huge voice and hands that could knock you out even before they make contact with your face (cool right). Anyway this friend of mine is also a pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas. If you haven’t guessed it already the man I’m talking about is none other than Voddie Baucham. I have mad love and respect for Mr. Baucham, and have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know him. You may be wondering why I would bring him up when this article is about why I am not in a relationship, and I can assure you that there’s a good explanation for this. A few years ago, Mr. Baucham wrote a book titled “What He Must Be: If He Wants to Marry My Daughter”. That’s a really tough title right and probably has some of you fellas running scared even before you’ve opened the book. In this book he basically lays out the standard or measure of a man before he can say his vows. If you’ve never read it make sure you get it. Whether you’re male or female, young or old make sure you read it. This book has taught me a lot and has helped me refine standards that I’m aiming at as a man who is still young (even though I don’t absolutely agree with everything the book had to say, but that’s another story.)

The reason I brought up Voddie Baucham and his book is because currently I’m on a journey in my life titled “What I Must Be: Before I Get into a Relationship”. My measure or standard is not an adaption of Mr. Bauchams’ book, it is my own, (of course slightly influenced by the book and many others).

Since I was young I’ve always had a desire to get married young, and when I became a Rebelutionary that desire became stronger and more defined. My journey in manhood has been influenced by the idea of marriage, and I often asked myself questions about what kind of husband I wanted to be and as I started to define that I came to a realization that I needed to start being that person right now. A spiritual leader, A man of character with Integrity, discipline and responsibility, a financial provider, etc. These are some things I want to be as a husband and as a single man right now. We’ll come back to the point I’m trying to make here but for now lets move on to my next point.

One of my favorite love stories is the story of Isaac and Rebekah, it perfectly illustrates the point I want to make here. I’m not going to narrate the whole story, but if you want to read it check out Genesis 24. I want  to focus on Rebekahs side of the story for a minute. Meet Rebekah, a hard working young woman with a heart to serve, and I can imagine that she was really beautiful too. Since she was young Rebekah would go to draw water from the well every evening for her family. One particular evening as she was on her way to the well she saw a man with several camels at the well and as she went closer the man started to speak to her asking her to feed his camels, and she willingly obliged. To make the long story short that very act found her a husband in Isaac, as the man at the well was Abrahams’ (Isaacs’ father) servant. The point I want to make here is that Rebekah did not go out of her way to find a husband; she was just diligently doing her work every single day. Her act of consistent obedience was rewarded with a husband, and we can learn a lesson from this. All to often we leave our front and go looking for that “special someone”, and usually (whether long term or short term) get shot down.

I want to address something at this point that I have observed and don’t quite get. Personally I do not believe in ‘hunting’ or ‘looking for someone’ for several reasons:
1.       It distracts us from what we are supposed to be doing at the present time in life (learn a lesson from Rebekah)
2.       Relationships that start like this are usually (mostly) recreational and end in disappointment.
3.       It becomes an avenue for pretense between the two parties.  Dudes are gonna dress up and spit whatever game they got. Ladies will do something similar. My point is, to impress each other both parties gotta pretend.

Those are just a few problems I’ve seen, if you want me to get into more detail get at me and I’ll explain further. I’ve highlighted a few problems, but I’ve always learnt that if you identify a problem you gotta find solutions. Here are some solutions:
1.       Diligently work hard in your respective vocations to Gods glory
2.       I believe that all relationships should have a strong foundation in friendship (with no intention) and that grows into a stronger or deeper friendship and gradually grows into something more and I’m talking about courtship here (I intentionally use the word courtship here to separate it from recreational dating, the word doesn’t matter, its all about the practice). A foundation of friendship is also a remedy for pretense as you get to know and more importantly SEE each other do life.

Coming to conclusion I want to marry my two points in my own life.
I am working at becoming a better man (a man after Gods heart) everyday, because I see this as my full time vocation. I’m gonna keep serving in my church, keep doing music, keep working hard at school, keep wanting to grow, and ultimately be a better worshiper of my God. As I faithfully work at what God has given me, I am gonna keep trusting Him to bring my Eve. I’m not looking for her because I know where she is, she’s in Christ and that’s where I’ll find her. I’m working at being a great husband for her, and can’t wait to meet her, but I have to be patient and trust God. I can tell you that it is hard, and everyday I battle with trying to practice what I know (especially when I meet amazing ladies). By The Kings grace I will persevere, so help me God. I hope this has encouraged someone out there.

The Exposition