Thoughts for Young Men, Review #5

This is the final blog regarding the above mentioned book recommended at our last Synod, by our Canon Theologian Henry Jansma. Check out the previous blogs for my overview and reviews of Parts 1 to 3 of the book. This review is going to cover “Part 4,” titled “Special Rules for Young Men” and the Conclusion. Again, there will be a small selection of quotes from the book, but read the entire book on your own.

A small leak will sink a great ship, and a small spark will kindle a great fire, and a little allowed sin in like manner will ruin an immortal soul. Page 55

The classic lie that many people tell themselves is that this is just one little transgression. It will not damn their soul for eternity. This is just an indulgence and tomorrow they will go back to being good. The problem is that the small leak is often left unattended and eventually rust around the hole makes the hole bigger and leads to the ship sinking. Maybe it only starts with taking drugs once at a party, but if a month later you are addicted, you have a serious problem. They often call some less lethal drugs, “gateway drugs” because people tend to fall into them, abuse them, tire of them, and move on to something more dangerous. Sin works the same way. There are many people in prison who started off doing lesser crimes and worked their up to rape and murder.

There is nothing finer than the point of a needle, but when it has made a hole, it draws all the thread after it. Remember the apostle’s words, ‘A little leaven leaventh the whole lump’ (1 Cor 5:6). Page 56

Likewise the sin may affect more and more of your life. It may also spread to the rest of your family. Never doubt that your sin has an effect on the people around you. Even if you are really good at hiding it, there can be subtle changes in your behavior that you may not even be aware of it. It is not enough that we determine to commit no sin, we must carefully keep at a distance from all approaches to it. Page 58

There is a classic poem called “There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk” by Portia Nelson. It is worth reading. It shows how sin can become habitual. It is so easy to fall into bad habits even after you think you have repented of them. You need to be self-aware. You need to understand yourself and how vulnerable you are. If something causes you to sin, flee from it, like Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife.

It is dangerous to play tricks with edged tools; it is far more dangerous to take liberties with your immortal soul. Page 59

Your willpower might be really good. Maybe you walk into enemy territory and not stumble. All things ARE possible with God, but why are you playing with fire?

Few indeed are to be found who pray; many who go down on their knees, and say a form perhaps, but few who pray; few who cry unto God, few who call upon the Lord, few who seek as if they wanted to find. Page 68

The blessing here is that today, even this very minute, you could pause and speak your heart to God. Let us renew our commitment to God right now and be more regular and honest in prayer with God. He wants to hear from us. He truly does.

The voice of conscience will become feebler and fainter every year you continue to resist it. The Athenians said to Paul, ‘We will hear thee again of this matter’, but they had heard him for the last time

(Acts 17:32)

You have heard it said to strike while the iron is hot. This means to do things while they matter and while you can have an effect. If you wait for the metal to cool too much, it will not be forged the way you want. Likewise, you have heard that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The older we are, the more set in our ways we become. It doesn’t mean we cannot change, but I believe that we need to try harder. We may need to hit rock bottom. That is a really sad place to be. Rock bottom maybe accompanied by miserable circumstances like death, divorce, imprisonment, or public shame.

It may seem that I am painting a rather miserable picture here, but there is hope in all of this. Jesus has paid the price for our sins. We need to turn to him as our Lord and Savior. This book might help you see better some of the practical ways that young men and women can avoid some of the pitfalls in life. I remember as a young man, even a teenager, that I did not want to really listen to people older than me.

I wish I had spent more time talking honestly with either a pastor or even other Christian youth, maybe I would have avoided some of the holes that I found in my sidewalk. I hope and pray that you have benefited somehow from these reviews and I hope that you have been inspired to consider reading this book.