If it doesn't count for Christ, it doesn't count.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

4 to 7 and the fade in between.

There is a song that you may or may not have heard called Slow Fade.  It is done by Casting Crowns, who are one of my favorite groups.  I have listened to the song and watched the video all the while saying, "Yeah, I know somebody like that. I see it happening."   Did you catch that? "Somebody" - as in "else".

Why is it so easy for us to see a decline in someone else, and yet we don't recognize when the same thing is about to happen to us?  And praise God that He sees it coming, and He sends up red flags, flashing lights, and various and sundry other warnings that we are free to heed or not. And, thank you, Lord, for the eyes to see and the ears to hear and the spiritual feet to move away!    

A video was forwarded to me through e-mail by a good friend a couple of weeks ago. (I'll post the link below because you really should see this, if you already haven't.) The video is a brief, but powerful teaching from Mark Hall, of Casting Crowns, on Psalm 1.  The beginning words in this scripture paint a portrait of a person on a "Slow Fade".  In his teaching, Mark points out that a fall from Christ never really happens all at once. It may begin in ways that seem so innocent or harmless to us, but that only leads to the next step, which seems just as harmless because the first step is already behind us, and after all, whether we realize it or not, we have begun a downhill slide, and we are bound to pick up momentum. (it gets easier).

I was immediately struck by the truth and simplicity of the message. I actually thought how wonderful it would be if God used me and gave me insight like that so I could help others avoid the "slippery slope". (HAH!)

A very short while later, at some point in the day, one of my posts contained "4" - nothing else. The next day, I entered "7" - nothing else.  Neither these numbers nor their objects would mean anything at all to anyone else, because there is no way anyone else would have known what they were about.  It was purely a matter of me entertaining myself on FaceBook. (Entertaining myself on FaceBook - How pathetic is that?!?)  My conviction came when someone on FaceBook asked what it was all about.  I had to stop and think, "What is it all about?"  And then I saw it, an almost imperceptible, ever so slight, fade.

(Deep breath. Here we go.) On FaceBook, these ads and apps keep popping up on the right side of the screen. They cover a wide range of subjects from "play this game" to "watch this ad".  One of those is something called "Rate A Hottie". Up pops this picture of a young lady, dressed appropriately for the subject at hand, with an invitation to use that app to "Rate A Hottie".  I have not used that app. (I don't use those apps.) But, I wouldn't use that one anyway.  They just kept showing up from time to time, until one appeared that looked so "self aware" (for lack of a better term) that I said to myself, "O.K., I'll rate you." So, I typed a "4" into my post.  No one would know, or care, what it concerned, and even if they did, they would not have seen that particular photograph by which to register their own agreement or disagreement.  It was just something to do.

Later, after several more such ads popped up, I decided one was a "7".  Didn't want to go where I suspect that app is designed to take me, so I did not push that button. Could have just stated it in my mind and gone on to other things.  But, I didn't. This might be fun. These mysterious numbers appearing in my posts for no apparent reason.  Very entertaining . . . to me. (There I go again!)  So I entered "7".

One morning soon after, here comes a question on FB to the effect of "What's going on? What is all this counting about?"  Conviction begins to move in. Then a comment from another person that really brought it home. "That's just Dennis being Dennis."

Suddenly, I didn't feel so funny. I didn't feel so self entertained. I did not want this episode to be any part of me being me. I have already acknowledged my suspicion that the app itself, "Rate A Hottie", probably leads to a darker place, a place that I do not want to go. (Did you notice how I subtly inferred my moral strength?) But, God was showing me that my own "harmless, innocent enough" fun was pointing me down a path I didn't want to follow. The "4" was ok. "Poor thing. She really thinks she's all that. She's trying so hard to be Miss Hot that she's definitely not."

The "7" is something else altogether. You see, after arriving at the 7, I realized that I had to consider what would make a 9 or a 10, or a 6. I had to go beyond innocent appreciation of God given beauty.  I was being drawn into a game that should not be played because to continue to do so would require me let down my guard.  The game would require that I actively and voluntarily think in terms that I actively and intentionally guard against! I would have to knowingly take myself away from God's protection with the intent to move in and out of the game under my own power. (and how long can that last?) And I am not talking about immediate lewd, vile, and indecent thoughts.    

Let me hasten to say that there was no lust involved in this process.  None in the least. No "lewd, vile or indecent" thoughts. It was just "innocent fun". But, don't you see? That's the way it works. "It's a slow fade."  If we allow ourselves to get away with even the slightest compromise, there will be another, and then another, and then another . . .  Until one day we find that we have compromised away our commitment to living our lives in a way that pleases God. We have compromised away our witness. We have compromised away all that God ever wanted for us.  We have compromised ourselves away from God . . . away from His influence . . . away from His protection.

A Slow Fade that we never even noticed.

As for me, God warned, I heard, and I took a step back. I won't be rating any more "Hotties" - not for my own "innocent" entertainment or anyone else's.  Was I on a fade?  Or was that just a little stumble, a "bobble", a rock kicked down life's path?  Have I made too much of it?

Well, all I can say is, by comparison, ask an alcoholic, "Of all the drinks taken, of every sip of whiskey, glass of wine, or can of beer that passed through your lips over the years, which was the most devastating? Which one caused the most damage?  Of every swallow of alcohol you've had through out your life, which is the one you most regret?  Is there a single drink you wish you had never taken?"   The answer will probably be, "I wish I had never taken the one that seemed so harmless . . . the first one." 

"It's A Slow Fade . . . It never crumbles in a day."

There are a lot of paths that we can take that will cause the light of Christ to fade within us. We should all take a look in the mirror every now and then just to be sure that we still shine just as bright as we did the moment Jesus entered our heart.  Call it a fade check!

And, about my 4th paragraph, apparently I needed to learn it before I could teach it! Thanks, Sandy.

And thanks to Gail and Marcelle. You didn't know it, but you made me look .................at me.

Please take a few minutes to watch these two videos. You will be blessed by them.