A woman describes her experiences with an online dating service. She tells several stories of meeting men, having a nice time, and in each case waiting a frustratingly long time to hear from them again, or not at all. This is an open letter to men that go out on dates and then do or say nothing:
“Gentlemen, man up and get off the freakin’ fence. If you’re interested say so, if you’re not interested say so… And if you’re worried about getting slapped by an angry woman…it is perfectly acceptable to send a short email saying, “thank you but I think there’s someone better out there for both of us, best of luck in your search for love.” SEE, now that wasn’t so hard, was it?”
1 ½ weeks ago when I was at the Jeffries. We had a tense conversation about Jesus and the Bible with a gentleman from a different religion. After the man left, the first thing Melanie said, “Wow, the good thing is it really makes you think about what you believe.” I agree! There was no room for fence sitters in that conversation ~ This past Wednesday I was getting ready to come to Sumas, putting things in my van on the side of the house. I heard my dog barking. As I went around the corner to investigate, here comes a man and his wife ~ we meet in front of my garage. “I know you…” he said. And I said without missing a beat, “Yes, I invited you into my house 18-19 years ago, you came several times, and I took you into my office to talk.” The man told me his name, but he didn’t need to, because I remembered... I decided to dictate our conversation and tell him about how deceptive I felt his friend was in the RV Park... I was polite but would not back down. I noticed 3 minutes into talking, the man’s wife was backing away and was about 10 feet away trying to leave. Maybe this was God’s way of telling me there is no room for fence sitters. Isn’t that who they are looking for? The world wants fence sitters.
Last night Steve L called to tell me about an impressive devotional he read ~ I don’t remember the exact words, but something like, “you can have the most amazing praise and worship, but if your actions don’t match your praises, it is not pleasing to God.” That’s another way of saying, it’s time to get off the fence. Live what you believe. Satan’s #1 tactic is to get Christians to sit on the fence ~ “ believe in Jesus, but keep a foot in the world because, we’ll, some of the things the Bible teaches are kind of old fashioned.” In the scripture today Joshua refuses to let people sit on the fence.
Years ago Joshua led the people of Israel across the Jordan river into the land promised to them by God. They crossed the river during the flood season; as soon as the last man stepped onto the land, the waters came rushing back leaving no retreat. The message was clear: “Burn your boats” there is no retreat, there is no plan b ~ only plan A to go forward with God. God leads them to conquer the strategic city of Jericho as they learn obedience and dependence on God. Then in their arrogance they are conquered by the little city of Ai, they lose way too many men in the process, but they regroup and God takes them forward. They discover sin in the camp, but the people repent, and once again turn to follow the Lord and recommit themselves to him. At last enough cities are conquered, the land is divided among the tribes of Israel, and the land is at rest from war. I have just summarized the first 13 verses of Joshua 24…
Where are you in your relationship to Jesus? How did you get to this place in your life? what personal problems have you overcome? what blessings has the Lord given you? These questions are well worth all of us asking. Everyone has a story. This is what Joshua does for the people of Israel in Josh. 24:1-13. Understand this well: Israel conquering and taking possession of the promised land is NOT the end, the people are now ready to BEGIN. Joshua’s job is finished, he has brought them to the place of decision, and he issues them this challenge: Man up and get off the freakin’ fence.
Joshua cannot make decisions of the heart for other people, yet he makes no apology in stating there is a right decision and a wrong decision: the people can choose to follow foreign gods, or they can choose the one true God (READ Josh. 24:15). I see hundreds of people make bad choices in this community, wrong choices, but it is their choice. I don’t have to like it, but I do have to accept it is their choice. One more important lesson from Joshua: I cannot sit on the fence either but I must choose and let my life and choices be an example for others. With boldness Joshua declares, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
In the remainder of this chapter, the people boldly commit themselves to the Lord by choosing to follow him, a covenant is established, and Joshua dies.////
I now want to try and offend as many of you as possible. (I think I’ll do what my father taught me when I first learned to speak in public and preach to the back wall, because I am not pointing fingers at any particular person. If anything I say speaks to your heart, take it up with God…) : I talked about this message with the elders ~ we agree everyone is sittin’ on the fence over something....
The book of Joshua comes down to this towering challenge: “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away _____ (fill in the blank) … choose for yourselves whom you will serve….” Josh 24:14, underline the words, “Throw Away” ~ now imagine a blank. For Israel the blank is filled in with specific gods. What pattern/habit do you need to throw away to fully serve God? What keeps you on the fence? The rest of this message is devoted to filling in the blank… I can think of many things we try to have both ways ~ follow God partially… we want to honor God but we gossip, tell white lies to manipulate people…
I get weary of people sitting on the fence ~ some people want me to listen listen listen but they do nothing about what distresses them. There are at least 15 people in the community I often tell them to get out of their house and get to know people in this church ~ or any church where they fit, or the Sumas Senior Center where there are so many wonderful people ~ enlarge their life with Christ in a safe healthy encouraging community. They love it when I go to them ~ I could spend all day being Mr. Popular… I’ll leave the door open, but the needs are great and I gotta go to other people. Get off the fence…
Do you need to throw away your addiction to gambling and do better with the few resources you have? Do you need to spend more time with your family and get out of the coffee shop? Are you a workaholic causing you to neglect other responsibilities? Fence sitters try to have it both ways thinking “For other people it’s a problem, but I can handle it.”/// “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” Joshua says… get off the fence and fully embrace Jesus Christ letting him change your life completely.
Do you need to throw away your bad spending habits? I’ve asked Jack if he would think about becoming a budget teacher to help people, classes, one on one ~ Barb Nims is available, Al Guthrie would be terrific… we have money people, find help, put down on paper how you honestly spend your money. Get off the fence with your money and quit playing the victim ~ “I don’t have enough, bail me out.” Man up and get off the fence.
Man up and just pay the freakin’ taxes you owe. Maybe that’s your blank. Man up and quit trying to skirt around the law…. Man up and slow down in your driving, get your license, buy insurance. Get off the fence and quit trying to have it both ways! “Throw away foreign gods” Joshua commands the people. Nobody in Sumas is tempted to worship the exact gods that were the temptation of Israel, but we have plenty of distractions causing us to half follow the Lord. “Throw Away ______ “ how do you fill in the blank?
There is an old joke, what time is it when an elephant sits on a fence? [Time to get a new fence.] Sit on the fence long enough and we’ll all break it eventually. There is no lasting satisfaction. Life on a fence means you have no grounding….this is why in America we are collectively unhappy. No new liberal laws will bring satisfaction because in America we think the answer is to just let everyone have it their way….
Here’s another blank: Throw away your lifestyle of living together and get married….get off the fence….do that which you know is right and will honor God.
How about this one: You need to break up with somebody and move on with your life…how many years can you cross your fingers hoping the person you love will change and become a different person that you can build a solid relationship on? If this or anything I say fits you then I pray the Lord will speak to your heart and you will have a supernatural boldness to get off the fence and finally do that which you know is right.
For some of you, you need to man up, change your patterns, and get involved in a community of faith. For 20 years I’ve heard people say they like Christ but they don’t like the church. I get the idea, but that is not what God wants. I don’t see anywhere a license God gives to stay away from the church. The Church with all the problems and issues is God’s idea. Spiritual gifts are meant to be used in the church. We are to hold each other accountable, love each other, on the Church Facebook page this week I am going to post a “one another” list from the N.T. which is essentially the reasons why people need the church… love one another, encourage one another…. Get off the fence and get involved in a church.
Man up and get off the fence ~ some of you need to quit being lazy. One more tv program, video game, movie, is not going to enhance your life.
Some of you need to get baptized. I take a huge part of that on me in not giving more opportunity. And I want to say this, baptism by immersion makes the most sense to me. We have many people from different backgrounds and ideas, I respect other traditions, but unless there is a physical reason for an exception, that’s the only way in good conscience I can do it. We’ll get the baptismal out at least once this Fall. I’d love to plan once a quarter on a Sunday afternoon or evening. I want people who have made a commitment to Christ, who have a desire, who have begun to get their house in order, young people, to come to the waters of baptism ~ Me, Jack, Denny, or others can officiate, that’s not important…
The bottom line: Get off the Fence and fully commit your life to the Lord Jesus Christ. the way Joshua says it: “fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness.”
I cannot make a heart decision for you as to what you are going to do with Jesus Christ, but the truth is that there is only one correct answer: Follow Christ. It is your privilege to reject Christ, but your salvation depends on choosing Christ. The quality of your life depends on choosing Christ. You cannot half choose, be half committed, and sit on a fence. Choosing Christ is life transforming. So is not choosing Christ. And the worst of all is sitting on the fence. Man up and quit straddling the Fence with one foot in the world and one foot committed to Christ.
Too many people don’t want to make a commitment that might change their status in the world. Too many people don’t want to give up their sin in order to really be right with God. So they end up sitting on the fence, not really a part of the world and not faithfully serving God. What do you need to throw away? Joshua challenges us to acknowledge that it is time to make a decision. Either enter the world and live by it standards and collect its rewards, no matter how temporary. Or make a decision to follow God, wholeheartedly and without reservation. You must finally make a decision. Choose this day whom you will serve…. Get off the fence and choose to follow Jesus Christ. Amen.