>It’s Hard to be Humble


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I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the heart’s affections and the truth of imagination. What the imagination seizes as beauty must be truth. – John Keats

I’ve recently been reading through a few books on the rise of Terrorism in the west and the declining influence of the UN and I had this thought;

Whatever Happened to Humility?

Everyone assumes they have the answers. Nobody stops long enough to think that maybe, just maybe they might be wrong.

What these recent books have been alluding to but never really admitting is that the rise of fundamentalist thought has paralyzed growth across a broad spectrum of disciplines and has coincided with the decline in broad based “liberal” education, not just here in North America but all over the world. In short; the Renaissance man is dead, killed jointly by the nuclear physicist and the fire and brimstone preacher.

In the west the result has been the rise of atheism while in other parts of the world it has led to militant forms of tribalism. We see it here in Canada very clearly. The most recent census data shows 23% of Canadians claiming “no religion.” That’s an increase from less than 1% as recently as the 1930s. In that same time span fundamentalist views of Islam in the Middle-East and around the world have similarly increased.

When you look at the numbers in terms of educated professionals they tell an interesting story. A western trained scientist is more likely to claim atheism while a Middle-Eastern scientist is more likely to adopt a fundamentalist view of Islam. By comparison the more educated you are in the arts and humanities, regardless of where you come from, the more tolerant you are of opposing viewpoints. The reason seems clear to me; when we train people to think in terms of black and white, they tend to view the whole world that way and can’t tolerate ambiguity. Tolerance lives in shades of grey.

Most of the more militant atheists tend to claim a monopoly on reason with a zeal that rivals that of any religious leader. But that reason goes out the window when a theist enters the conversation, the contempt goes beyond all reason. By the same token religion has a bad track record of denying proven facts when the truth of the matter is staring it in the face.

I blame the education system. Simply put, a system that is married to facts above all else kills tolerance and mortally wounds creativity. What we need isn’t more reason or even better proof, what we need is more humility on all sides.

The definition of humility is to know, what you don’t know. Humility loves questions, searches for answers and is always open to new ideas. You would think that professions that seek answers like scientists and preachers would both be among the most humble and open minded people on earth but they have been taught to be closed minded and arrogant. If our society is to evolved beyond sectarian violence and intolerance it will be the humble that lead the way.

>The $1 Difference


>According to the World Bank approximately 1.4 billion people around the world live on less than $1.00 per day. The total population of the world is expected to reach 7 billion by the end of this year. That means that nearly 20% of the world population is now living on less than what I spend for a coffee on my way to work every morning.

I made just over CDN$57,000 in 2010. Out of curiosity I typed that into the calculator on globalrichlist, where to you think I landed?

I thought maybe top 25% but boy was I wrong! It was interesting to see that I am approximately the 58 millionth richest person in the world. Not so impressive until you put in on the scale of just under 7 billion people. With that in mind I’m in the top 0.97% of global income!

That’s not a typo!

I made more money in 2010 that 99.03% of the rest of the people on the entire planet!

That got me thinking. If 1.4 billion people are surviving on less than $1 per day ($365 per year) what would it look like for them and for me if I intentionally lowered my income to help raise theirs? A person living on CDN$365 per year falls in the bottom 8% of global wealth. What if they had $730? They would leap-frog over an addition 1.5 billon people and rise 26% from the bottom 8% to the bottom 34%. That’s what.

What about me? By lowering my income by the same margin my position on the global scale dropped by less than 0.01%. It didn’t even register on the two decimal place display on the Global Rich List! That got me thinking again, how much of a personal sacrifice would it take to lower my position by even 0.01% and how much of an impact could that have on someone living on less than $1 per day?

I had to lower my income by $1100 to drop my position on the scale about one tenth of one percent. And what does adding that same amount to the poorest of the poor do? CDN$1465 per year ($365 + $1100) puts you in the TOP 31% of the world’s wealth!
That is astonishing to me. Let me put in another way so you can understand.

By lower my position on the global wealth meter by just 0.01% I can raise the position of one of the world’s poorest people by a whopping 61% and move them into the top half – no the top 3rd, of the world’s wealth!

A few months ago I wrote a few posts where I tried to get you thinking in terms of living a more charitable life. As anticipated I got some push back. A lot of you claimed that small amounts of philanthropy don’t have an impact. Clearly these statistics expose the lie of that argument.

According to Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) one dollar a day will; provide 11 families with clean drinking water, plant 6 life giving and income generating fruit trees, put a roof on 3 homes or send a child to school for a year. We – the top few percent of the world’s wealth – can do this without noticeably changing our own position.

Not only can we do it. We must.

It is the single most repeated command in all of scripture, both Old and New Testament. Over 3000 times in fact the bible tells us in one way or another to help the poor. God’s strongest condemnations and most violent destruction are reserved not for those who reject Him but for those who refuse to share their wealth.

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy [Ezekiel 16:49]

This is going to be hard for some of my Christian friends to swallow but God is more concerned with how we treat the poor and needy around us than how we treat Him! The clear fact is that He will punish greedy Christians more severely than generous Atheists!

Think about that for a minute.

We all know what happened to Sodom. But the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, it was greed! As one of the top 1% of the wealthiest people on earth, that’s me! And I dare say it’s you.

How you spend just $1, is a life and death decision. Not only for the poorest of the poor but for you too. Small amounts of philanthropy save lives – maybe even your own.

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. [Isaiah 1:17]

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. [James 1:27]

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. [Micah 6:8]

>“Real Artists Ship!”


>Steve Jobs said that…

He was frustrated with how long it was taking some of his engineers to get a new product out the door. One member of the team complained that if he wanted them to create artistry he had to be patient, Mr. Jobs’ retort has become the stuff of legend, not only at Apple computer but has been picked up by business leaders all over the world.

Earlier today another of the men I currently admire, Seth Godin, published on his blog a list of 13 things he had shipped in 2010. Apart from earnestly training for a triathlon, which has been a dream of mine since I was in my early 20s, I’m hard pressed to think of much that I actually shipped this year. 2010 was for me a year of planning.

Godin says that the key to shipping is overcoming fear. The plans are almost in place, I hope that I can avoid the fear and actually ship something exciting in 2011.

Did you ship anything exciting? What was it?

>Don’t stop running…


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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, [Hebrews 12:1]

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I tend not to be an overly emotional person. [See November 26 – Superheroes] That isn’t completely true. If there is one thing that gets me emotional it’s seeing, hearing about and most of all participating in a victory in the face of strong opposition or adversity. I cry tears of joy when the outmanned, underfunded plucky good guys win. My heroes are not the top of the heap, über-successful leaders of the world; they are the second place, almost winners who fight for everything until that fateful day when once, and usually just once, they win it all!

That’s one of the reasons I became an entrepreneur. As a child I always had big dreams of getting rich (who doesn’t?) but my dreams where always peppered with a bit of real world understanding. I’ve never been the smartest guy in the room, I’m not the most hansom, or the most charismatic and I am certainly not the strongest. What I am is there, quietly going about my business, putting in the time and working hard. I may never win but I won’t ever quit either.

You see the first step to victory is to show up and play the game. If you want to get better, you show up to practise. Once you reach the top, and you want to stay there, you keep working. There is always a second place contender who is trying to knock the number one guy off. All it takes is one slip and number two becomes number one. The only thing better than seeing an underdog win is then seeing him fail, get back up and win again.

Steve Jobs at Apple Computer is at the top of the computer, internet and smart-phone world. He used to be an also ran in all three categories. That is until he worked harder than IBM, Microsoft and RIM. Is he smarter than Bill Gates? I doubt it. Did he work harder? You better believe it!

The apostle Paul in his letter to the Hebrews called for perseverance. The passage quoted above comes right after the so called “faith hall of fame” [Hebrews 11], which is a list of great men (and a few women) of God who persevered through hardship holding on to nothing more than a promise. Some won great victories but many died before they could see their vision become fully manifest. The end of the chapter sums it up nicely while not shrinking from that fact;

who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— [Hebrews 11:33-37]

2010 has been a rough year for me. We’re in a recession and business is down almost 15%. I nearly lost my house at the end of August, but I persevere. Not because I know for sure things will get any better in 2011 but because perseverance is the only thing I know.

As 2010 comes to a close my prayer for 2011 and each of you is that we may continue to run the race with perseverance, whatever that race may be and where ever it may take us, because we can’t claim a victory if we stop running.

>How Can This Be?


>It’s an age old philosophical debate;

If God is great, he must have the power to remove suffering. If God is good, he must want to remove suffering. Therefore; suffering must not exist. But it does, so rather God must not exist or at least one of the other statements about his greatness or goodness must be false.

This is at the heart of most people’s drift to atheism and agnosticism. When we first start to reason, at about the age of seven, the contradictions in the concept of an all powerful and wholly good entity functioning in this way become glaringly obvious. The church, indeed all churches, temples and mosques across the spectrum of faith traditions have done a poor job of arguing with this point. How can an infinitely powerful and infinitely loving deity allow any kind of suffering to enter the world without proving that he is neither?

Honesty… I don’t know. But what I suspect is that the whole debate is somewhat of a red herring.

First off the statement assumes that God and the forces of good are the lone spiritual agents in the universe. If this (and by this I mean our current, 3 dimensional, finite universe) is not all there is and if the forces of good are in a constant and ongoing battle with equally determined forces of evil then the whole question of what God wants to do get’s turned on its head. Indeed the fact that Jesus taught us to pray “your will be done,” [matthew 6:10] presupposes that it isn’t always that way. When you consider that this world is a battle field of competing wills, the idea of a good God wanting but somehow being prevented from removing suffering takes shape.

With this in mind God’s greatness is then called into question. If God can’t remove suffering then his power is somehow limited right?

Right; but not in the way you might think.

Omniscience is the capacity to know all that can be known. In most faith traditions God is considered omniscient but what most people miss here is the subtle limitation, did you catch it? I’ll show it to you again;

Omniscience is the capacity to know all that can be known.

A few weeks ago I talked about the difference between Arminianism and Calvinism; let’s take that one step further into a school of theology known as Open Theism. Open Theism is the assertion that the future, all of the choices that free will agents will make for the rest of eternity is open and therefore unknowable, even to God. God in his omniscience sees things more clearly because he sees all the individual actors at once but in giving us free will he removed his ability to know for certain the choices we would make.

People make bad choices; they ignore or misinterpret God’s will and are open to suggestion by the forces of evil. As a result bad things tend to happen. Does that make God any less good or any less great? I don’t think so. What it does is puts the responsibility back in us to make better choices, learn from our mistakes, fix our own mess and stay tuned in to Him. He helps us where he can but ultimately we need to take responsibility for the state of the world that our choice has created.

I don’t have children but that sounds like a pretty loving father to me.

>When Minority Means You


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What do you do, when democracy fails you?
What do you do, when minority means you? – The Proclaimers

Last week I re-tweeted a story from The New Civil Rights Movement which detailed the results of a vote at the UN General Assembly removing the term “sexual orientation” from a resolution designed to protect people from arbitrary executions. You can read the entire article here; The New Civil Rights Movement

On one hand, the resolution which is designed to condemn arbitrary, summary and extra judicial executions, has reaffirmed the idea that it’s wrong to kill people for their ethnic origins or religious beliefs while at the same time, by its omission, has quietly made it harder to condemn countries which persecute people simply for being gay. The committee which wrote the resolution was overwhelmingly stacked with countries in east Africa, the Middle East and Caribbean, all regions with poor Human Rights records when it comes to gays, lesbians, bi-sexual and trans-gender individuals. (LGBT)

While I am not an LGBT advocate, this resolution still raises some concern for me on a more general, human rights front. When I originally tweeted the story I immediately got into an argument with a follower over its legitimacy. I was told that it was all a lie made up by the LGBT community in an attempt to hi-jack a resolution that was never meant to include them in the first place. While I don’t want to rehash that argument here, the fact is that the draft resolution did include “sexual orientation”, but the phrase was removed at the last minute over concerns that many of the previously mentioned countries would vote it down. The argument then moved into a more general discussion over special interest groups and how they take control or damage the impact of some broader organizations.

Some selfishly motivated militant groups notwithstanding; I believe that for the most part special interest groups are an integral part of democracy. Democracy, by its very definition functions as a tool of the majority. But that means that minority groups have a hard time getting their concerns heard. So what do you do, when minority means you? You form a special interest group that’s what…

When done right special interest groups shine a light on minority concerns, giving the majority a chance to look at them honestly, understand them and maybe cast votes that appear contrary to their self-interest but rather in the interest of the minority for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do. In reality a rising tide floats all boats so as we become more inclusive, more open with each other, more honest and less oppressive, everybody wins. Game theorists call this a Non-Zero Sum outcome and it’s the ultimate goal of all human societies.

During my twitter debate I told my adversary that as a member of the majority, I need special interest groups to keep me honest. Otherwise it would be too easy for the majority to oppress minorities without ever hearing what they have to say. The debate ended when she tweeted that special interest groups are all about themselves and I responded; “there is a vast difference between me (or us) too and me first, or just me, I side with the us too camp.”

By looking at the world as “us” we enter into the ultimate Non-Zero equation and move society forward.

>Superheroes


>According to author, public speaker and marketing guru Seth Godin, author of Linchpin, Tribes and The Purple Cow; everybody is a superhero in their own way.

We live in a hyper competitive world. I see it every day. If you don’t stand out you blend in and blending in is death. Godin’s advice to salespeople, marketers and job seekers alike is; define your superpower so that you can become a superhero.

What is a superpower?

In defining your superpower it’s important first to recognize what is not a superpower. Your degree or overall level of education is not a superpower, colleges and universities all over the world graduate thousands of people each year with the same or more education that you have. Likewise your work related experience is not a superpower either, there will always be someone who can boast more or better experience. In short, anything that you can write on a traditional resume is not a superpower.

Your superpower is that one thing only you can bring to the table. It sets you apart from the crowd and makes you indispensible.

Superman is faster than a speeding bullet (and the man of steel), which makes him indispensible when being shot at. I am an empathetic entrepreneur with the ability to sense underlying emotional motivations driving decision making. I myself am not overly emotional which helps me to remain impartial and distant. This gives me the ability to develop plans and programs that compliment or counteract said motivations and makes me indispensible for any company with a high emotional connection to their clientele such as the arts, philanthropic organizations or socially motivated services.

I may not have an Ivy League education or decades of experience as a marketer but I am still a superhero when it comes to working with people who are emotionally invested in what they are doing.

So what’s your superpower?

>What’s with all the Wisdom-Haters?


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Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. [1 Corinthians 3:18]

That scripture was recently quoted to me by a reader who disagreed with some of my conclusions. The implications of his comments were clear; “don’t think of yourself as wise or you shall be made a fool.”

Over the years I’ve witnesses a rising trend of “wisdom-haters” both on-line and through more traditional media. Somewhere in the last several years a good education and wisdom gained from careful study and experience has become something to scorn and question rather than revere. Maybe it started in the 60s, (“Don’t trust anyone over 30”) I don’t know but it has clearly accelerated recently.

Information is no longer locked up in ivory towers, the domain of an elite few. We live in the age of the Internet where information is free and easy. Gaining knowledge on almost any subject is only a mouse click away. But mere knowledge isn’t enough.

Understanding, figuring out what it all means and how to apply it, that’s intelligence. As we gain more knowledge we must also be intelligent with its use, otherwise we just become walking encyclopaedias. We’ve all met people like this, in high-school my best friend Jason coined the term Functionally Stupid to describe them, fountains of information with no social skills or ability at practical application.

But knowledge and intelligence can only take you so far. There is a third stage that often gets overlooked. Now more than ever the world requires people to not only be intelligent but also wise. Intelligence by itself leads to arrogance, an air of superiority brought upon by your vast knowledge but wisdom, the ability to distinguish right for wrong, fact from fiction and truth from lies, is also requires humility.

I’m not claiming any special wisdom for myself here but we learn from the story of Solomon that true wisdom is a gift from God as a reward for a humble heart and not something to be taken lightly.

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” .. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” …I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. [1 Kings 3:5,9,12]

We’ve seen it time and time again. Wisdom and humility go hand in hand. That’s why it’s so hard to find a wise person who will actually admit it. Wise leaders are the ones that change the course of history while no one’s watching; Ghandi and Dietrich Bonheoffer are two, there have been countless others.

Knowledge is easily gained and Intelligence is just a poor cousin of true wisdom. It’s wisdom that I look for in others and that which I pray for myself every day.

>The Anatomy of a Turn-Around (a personal story)


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The following is a true story to the best of my recollection; names and locations have been slightly altered. I apologize in advance for the overall length of this post, it’s more than double my average, but I felt it important to lay out a lot of detail in the beginning to give my readers as much context as possible.

This story takes place in 2001; I had been working for my current employer for a little over a year when things started to unravel.

Founded in 1996 the partners originally decided that the best way to rapidly spread their vision was to hire representatives in various territories across the country. Lacking the capitol to pay these individuals they instead settled on a franchise model which would attract highly talented and motivate people to the job with the promise of high return on a small initial investment.

The model worked. Within 4 years the organization had gone from two founding partners, one in Ottawa, the other in Vancouver, to a highly integrated network of entrepreneurs in 8 regions from Halifax in the east to Vancouver in the west. By the time I joined the founding partners had both sold their original franchises and moved to Toronto, the industrial and financial hub of Canada, to centralize operations and build a franchise in the country’s largest market.

I joined the company in 1999 as a franchise owner in the region of Southern Ontario, my territory stretched from the Windsor/Detroit boarder across the north shore of Lake Erie to Niagara Falls and around to the town of Oakville on the western edge of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Cracks began to appear in the system as early as 2000. Entrepreneurs are by nature impatient type A personalities. The more the corporate partners in Toronto tried to build an integrated system the more the free thinking franchisees fought for their autonomy. As franchise agreements started to come up for renewal (they were all 3 year contracts), frustrated franchisees started to opt out. First Vancouver, then Winnipeg, Montreal, and Halifax all pulled out within 6 months of one another. Edmonton changed hands and was hanging on by a thread and Ottawa hand never fully cut ties from its original owner who was now running the Toronto office as well.

The final nail in the coffin so to speak occurred in the spring of 2001 when the company’s biggest customer decided to centralize its ordering system. Suddenly one of the main functions of the franchise office was cut off at the knees and the need to quickly re-establish the network was eliminated.

Due in part to my proximity to the head office and my unfailing work ethic mine was the last franchise standing.

Without a strong franchise network however the company had a new problem. What to do with all the smaller customers that still relied on their local rep? We had managed to salvage our biggest account mainly due to lucky timing but were haemorrhaging the smaller accounts and an alarming rate. That’s when I got a phone call, at the end of July that would change the course of my career and eventually save the company.

It was the end of a long day. I had been talking to all of my remaining accounts, reassuring them that since the centralization of our biggest account I would have more time to focus on them. Word had leaked that some of the franchises in other parts of the country were closing so they were understandably nervous.

“Mitchell’s out and he’s trying to take Halifax with him!” It was the voice of Gary Tremblay, founding partner and president in Toronto. “I need you here to help retain our customers.”

Mitchell Anderson had been a rising star in the organization but also the loudest critic of the integrated model head office was promoting. Everyone knew that if he left angry he had the potential to do a lot of damage in the crucial East Coast region he controlled. Gary offered to buy out my franchise if I would move to Toronto and help him consolidate operations while fighting off the new competition. It was a bold move but the company was bleeding and something had to be done.

That’s the day I became a turn-around artist.

There are two ingredients to a successful turn-around; rebuild trust and aggressively seek new business.

My first task when I arrived at Head Office was to rebuild trust with our remaining customers and suppliers. Trust is a funny thing. It implies a long term relationship but is incredibly fickle. As such it’s hard to gain, easy to lose and even harder to regain.

Building and maintaining trust really comes down to 4 steps.

1) Full disclosure.
In a crisis there is absolutely nothing to be gained by playing it close to the vest. Lay all of your cards on the table right from the start, if people sense you’re hiding something they will probe until they find it. Never underestimate the power of the bullshit meter.

2) Listen.
Allowing the customer to speak their mind back to you shows respect. It’s important not to interject too much at this stage, just let them speak.

3) Ask Questions.
Often people will ask, how do you know you’re getting all of the pertinent information from a customer? Sure you are giving full disclosure but how do you know that the customer is giving it back to you? A few well placed questions show the customer that you are engaged and are truly hearing what they have to say, that will in turn encourage them to say more.

4) Make and plan and follow through.
No amount of disclosure, listening, or questioning is going to amount to a hill of beans if you don’t walk away with a workable plan and follow through. Rebuilding trust is hard enough when it’s damaged once, it becomes infinitely harder if it’s damaged a second time and nearly impossible beyond that.

So this was my life for 3 months. Starting in August right through until the end of October, I spent day and night talking to customers, giving them the straight goods, listening to their concerns and following through with plans but in the end it still wasn’t enough. Over all we lost about 15% of our business, Halifax was down nearly 40% and Montreal all but disappeared.

We had stopped the bleeding but it was now time to focus on the second phase, aggressively pursue new business.

When it came to time pursue new business all the same things I demonstrated in regaining trust still applied, full disclosure, listening, asking questions, planning and follow through are just as important to a new customer with the final addition of persistence. I found on average it took 3 phone calls to get past the gate keepers, (receptionists or voice mail boxes), and two or three more conversations to get a meeting but in the end persistence pays off. I can’t tell you the number of times I was told, upon signing a deal that the only thing that kept me in the game was my persistence. The average time from initial contact to purchase order in our business is about 8 weeks. But I have worked some contacts of over 2 years before getting an order, it’s all about persistence.

After the initial 3 months focused on solidifying existing customers the rest of my career has been spent in growing sales and maintaining the business. I permanently relocated my family to the Toronto area and until the current recession our business was on a consistent growth pattern of about 20% per year.

We are now faced with a new crisis, not only are we mired in recession, like the rest of the world, but we are also dealing with the overall decline of our industry. Did I mention we are a manufacturer and distributor of CDs and DVDs?
So this time the turn-around is being made infinitely more difficult to due to the fact that new technology has emerged that has eroded customer desire for our core product line. But as we fight the downturn and develop new products to fill in the gap, I’m finding that the same principles apply.

Now, back to work…

>Get up and Go…


>More reflections on Grace

I’m an Arminian.

If I could look through my computer screen, across the millions of miles of fibre optic cables and bounce off satellites to see your faces right now I’m sure I would be met with a lot of blank stares at this moment. I don’t blame you. Up until 6 months ago I had never heard of Jacobus Arminius or the school of theology that he founded even though I now realise that I have been raised in it most of my life.

Jacobus Arminius was a 16th century student of Calvinism but somewhere along the line he broke with the traditional line of thinking. The schism among other things was mainly over the Calvinist claim that salvation is predestined by God for a few elected individuals and that as a result salvation, once granted by God’s grace is eternal and can never be revoked.

Today even the most ardent Calvinists have abandoned, or severely tempered their support for the idea of salvation being reserved for an elect few so I’ll save the debunking of that one for another time, instead I want to focus on something I left hanging last week. The question I was asked most, not in so many words of course was, “what do we do with Christians who claim to be saved by grace and continue in their evil ways?”

Put more bluntly the question boils down to this; is it possible to lose your salvation through continued and persistent sin? A Calvinist would say no but an Arminian would say yes. To quote the 5th tenant of Arminianism:

• Believers are able to resist sin but are not beyond the possibility of falling from grace through persistent, unrepented-of sin.

Or to put in scriptural terms:

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? [Romans 6:1, 2]

Jesus illustrates this concept with the parable of the Prodigal Son. [Luke 15:11-32].

The prodigal son was a man who had it all but fell from grace through unrepented-of sin. When he returned, he was welcomed back with open arms, his salvation was restored, but what if the story had ended while he was sleeping with pigs in a far away land? A Calvinist would say it doesn’t matter, God would still welcome his soul in heaven because he never lost his salvation in the first place, but that’s not want the story says.

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. [Luke 15:17-20a]

The key verse here is clear, “he got up and went to his father.” The son decided on his own to return, only then was he able to receive the grace that awaited him.

When we die to sin, as Paul puts it, we can’t continue living the same way we always have. Grace welcomes us back with open arms no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done but we have to come back on our own.

Luke 15:20 ends with one of the most beautiful lines in all of scripture,

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. [Luke 15:20b]

That’s what grace looks like to a repentant sinner. The father, seeing his son, “still a long way off”, jumps up and runs to him with open arms!

What are you waiting for? Get up and go to your father.

For more on Jacubus Arminius and the Calvinist-Arminian debate check out;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arminianism