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Monday, November 29, 2010

God Still Hears the Prodigal

Then he restored the altar of the LORD and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the LORD, the God of Israel.--2 Chronicles 33: 16 NIV
The last two evenings, before I went to sleep, I read the consecutive reigns of King Hezekiah  and his son Manasseh in Judah.  Hezekiah was a good king; he obeyed God, and what's more, he honored God first.  God blessed him with a twenty-nine year reign and peace with his enemies.  Then, he died at the age of fifty-four (a ripe old age, in those days), and his twelve year-old son succeeded him as king and proceeded to destroy all that his father had built up (see 2 Chronicles 29-32 for more details of Hezekiah's reign).

King Manasseh was a very wicked man in his early days.  Whereas his father started his rule by purifying and rededicating the temple for worship, Manasseh began by defiling it in every way, even moving idols and altars into the temple courtyard and inside the building itself.  Hezekiah directed all of Israel to turn back to the God of their fathers, and ordered the high places (used for Baal worship) and the idols to be torn down and destroyed.  Manasseh built them back up and directed all of Judah to rush headlong into this worship, until it could be said, "Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites," (2 Chronicles 33:9 NIV).

So, in a span of one lifetime, from the joyous rededication feast at the start of Hezekiah's reign, to approximately thirty to thirty-five years later, when the temple was defiled with idols, God was remembered and forgotten again.  It didn't take long at all, did it?  Honestly, I read this and at first felt some despair.

Surely, as Manasseh was growing up, he saw his father standing for what was right, and he heard (if not witnessed first-hand) how God had miraculously delivered Judah from Sennacherib, the Assyrian King, and how God had prospered them all for their obedience.  He was born almost half-way through his father's reign!  He saw so many of these things with his own eyes, but in his youth, he didn't accept them.

I was praying about this, and saw that it just reveals a basic truth about Manasseh, and the whole human race.  Each generation--in fact, each individual--has to make their own decision to come to God or to turn away from Him.  All the bravery, and all the good examples and wise teaching of an older generation doesn't change that.  We have all been given free will to go, and many do.

Getting back to the story, King Manasseh did evil in God's eyes, and God sent him warnings.  Manasseh didn't heed those any more than he had his own father's successful example, so God sent the Assyrians to trouble him again.  This time God let the Assyrians get the upper hand, and they "took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon," (2 Chronicles 33: 11 NIV).  This sounds like a hopeless situation, and it can become that way, but Manasseh's story had a hopeful (if bittersweet) ending.  When he found himself utterly powerless and humiliated, when he saw that all of his gods and goddesses had not saved him,
In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors.  And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God. (2 Chronicles 33: 12-13 NIV)
 While it is true that God can be forgotten, even by the children of those who know Him, God does not forget those children.  He still hears prodigal sons!  As long as those children turn away, there is only suffering in their future, because God is against sin; but when they return, God does more than just take them back.  He blesses them with more than they deserve or have earned!

Like the prodigal son in Jesus' story in Luke 15, Manasseh realized that even the peasants who ministered in God's temple courts were better fed and cared for than he was at the Assyrian's table.  He turned back to God, and God took him home and gave him a chance to reverse the choices he'd made earlier!

God did that for Manasseh, and He still does it for those who repent and return to Him.  Today, if you find yourself going down a road your predecessors rejected, there is still time to turn back before disaster strikes.  If you've already gone down that road, and you are on the other side of disaster, there is still time to remember God and watch Him rescue you from an impossible situation.  I've seen it happen.  He's even done this for me.  But, don't just take my word for it.  Here are the words of Jesus, telling us just how God would receive us if we came running back to Him:
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. 
The son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son."
“But the father said to his servants, "Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15: 20-24 NIV).
 I'm praying for you!  Don't forget the Lord, who has been good to you.  He can help you again!  Until next time, this is me, reminding you, to stay humble, and stay savvy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reason to Be Thankful

Just over a week ago, I found myself sitting among some international students while a pastor tried to explain to them the meaning of Thanksgiving.  While I can imagine the imagery of the holiday may be a bit of a head-scratcher for those unfamiliar with it--fall leaves, strange hats, cornucopias, Charlie Brown, and people gorging themselves on turkey and stuffing--the original purpose of the holiday is not so baffling.

We gather once a year to give thanks to God for the abundant blessings He has showered on us every day.  Oftentimes I sense this has been forgotten, even in the middle of a holiday that draws its name from the word "thankful."  Well, are we really?

God has blessed us this year, as He always does.  Yes, even those of you outside the U.S. right now.  If you can read this, consider yourself abundantly blessed, from the miracle of technology to the miracle of your next breath.  If you know the Lord, you have also been abundantly blessed with the priceless gift of His Son.  That is certainly something to be thankful for!

So, maybe not everything in your life is going well--maybe you are sick, or stressed, or poor, or lonely--but that is no reason to be less-than-thankful for what God has done--and is doing--in your life. Yes, even now He is working for your good if you know Him (Romans 8: 28), so hold on to that promise and be thankful that you have Him to hold onto.  Give thanks to your God for what you have, "casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you," (1 Peter 5: 7 KJV).
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12: 28, 29 NIV)
 We serve a powerful, generous God!  Isn't that something to fill us with joy?

This year, besides Jesus, what else are you thankful for?  I welcome comments, in fact, I urge you to comment to encourage other readers, if you would.

Until next week (one post this week), this is me reminding you to be thankful, and to stay savvy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Weekly Snippet: Sealed with More Than a Kiss

You may have at some point in your life received a letter marked with the friendly (if from relatives) or flirtatious acronym, "SWAK," which stands for "Sealed with a kiss."  According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, this acronym first popped up in letters home from soldiers in WWI.  SWAK was an intangible mark of affection, unless the soldier had been eating barbecue ribs at the time of writing.  Invisible as it was, it gave special significance to the contents of the letter.

Today I was thinking about how God also seals His work with a kiss--a holy kiss.  Like the inventors of SWAK, God also marks His work with an intangible emblem of His affection.  Where His words and actions toward us in person (that is, Christ's earthly ministry) fail to convey His present feelings, and His letters to us (that is, the Bible) fall short somehow in conveying the nuances of that love, He sealed His work with two spiritual emblems of that love--Christ's sacrifice and the promised Holy Spirit.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bloom Where You're Planted

The title of this post is a cliche, telling us to find a way to thrive, or at least to have something to show for ourselves, even in less than ideal circumstances.  I've practiced this before, and I'll have to do so again, but frankly, I'm not very good about being happy while "blooming where I'm planted."  I wonder if anyone is, really.

So, how do we "bloom where we're planted"?  What exactly are we supposed to do while we're "waiting in the tent for the cloud to move," as someone put it to me, yesterday?  I've been thinking about this a lot, and I thought I'd put together a few things the Bible demonstrates that we should do in these lull times in our lives, when nothing is changing and we desperately want change.

The Tent Dweller's To-Do List

  • Build up spiritual muscle.--Many kings in the Bible, including David and Solomon, built up fortifications and alliances during times of peace and prosperity in Israel.  Was it because they were bored and looking for something to do with all of the tax money they were collecting?  Of course not!  They were taking the opportunity of peaceful (or at least, mundane) times to prepare for turbulent days ahead.  If life has become predictable, we should use these times to work on our knowledge of the Bible and our understanding of God's laws and plans.  When something unsettling happens, we will find that we are stronger than we once were, and we will not be too "spiritually flabby" to handle it.
  • Remember God's past miracles.--Let's face it.  Human beings are quick to forget the happy times in the past when they are going through a trial in the present.  The Israelites saw countless miracles while they were traveling through the desert, but they often forgot them soon after.  If we want to thrive in the "desert places," we cannot do so while dwelling on the things that make us feel discontented or defeated.  Instead, we should make it a habit to remind ourselves of the good things God has already done for us.  He is "mighty to save" (Isaiah 63: 1 NIV)!  Can we patiently wait for Him?
  • Look for God's presence.--God has done spectacular things for us in the past, but does that mean He has abandoned us in the present circumstances?  Of course not!  In lull times, we need to develop the skill of seeing God's hand in our present lives.  He may not be parting the Red Sea at the moment, but today He brought the sunshine or the rain, He gave us breath and made our hearts beat, and so on and so forth.  Just learning to see this will renew our strength to press on.
  • Spend time listening in God's living room.--When I was small, my Sunday school teacher taught us about the time Jesus came to Mary and Martha's house for dinner.  I pictured Jesus sitting on my couch, talking, Mary sitting in one of the arm chairs, and clattering sounds of dishes in the background as Martha worked in the kitchen around the corner.  Of course, it probably didn't happen that way, but the picture is good.  When we are "stuck" in our present life circumstances, maybe we should take a moment to sit down, block out the noise and worries in the background, and just give our full attention to God.  How would He answer if we asked Him, "What do you want me to learn today?"
  • Develop a habit of praise.--I recently spoke about how the Israelites went to battle praising God, and discovered when they arrived that the battle had already been fought on their behalf ("Our Eyes Are Upon You").  It may not always happen that way for us, but it is always good to actively praise God.  Praising Him, even when we don't feel like it, reminds us of how praiseworthy He is.  That, in turn, revives us.  We have an awesome God in our lives, and He is with us always.  Isn't that enough reason to endure our present circumstances?  Furthermore, isn't it enough reason to rise above them?
  • Stay busy with the tasks before you.--That job you now find boring, that class you are taking, or that round of pills the doctor prescribed are currently part of your life, whether they make you feel happy or not.  Could it be that you are facing this trial of patience or diligence now so you can prove to God that you can handle bigger challenges later?  Consider the Parable of the Bags of Gold (Matthew 25: 14-30).  What can you produce for God out of the mundane tasks you must do today?  If nothing else, you can prove that you are capable of relying on God for your strength, so that you can do what has been asked of you?
These are some points to ponder, today.  Here's a related verse I want to share before I go:
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6: 8, 9 NIV)
Today, let us keep sowing to please the Spirit, even if we don't see any changes (or results) coming up just yet.  As always, your comments are welcome.  Meanwhile, this is me, reminding you to stay savvy!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weekly Snippet: The Working of His Mighty Strength

Last time, I talked about believing and trusting in God when we cannot see Him; this time I want to talk about seeing God through "spiritual eyes."  Sometimes, when we're up against a wall, all we see is the wall.  Could it be, in those situations, that what we need is some spiritual contact lenses?

The Holy Spirit Makes the Invisible, Visible

Earlier today, at a suggestion from a friend, I read Ephesians chapter 1.  The second half of that chapter especially drew my attention, verses 15-23.  It's about seeing the world through spiritual eyes, that is, seeing with understanding given to us through the power of God and the Holy Spirit.

In this passage, Paul says he is praying for his congregation in Ephesus that they would be given "the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that they may know [God] better" ( Ephesians 1: 17 NIV).  He understood, and pointed out to them, that the Holy Spirit is the one who gives us wisdom and understanding about God.

We can be highly learned, disciplined, and well-trained, but if our knowledge of God is purely from human sources and our own capacity to understand, our relationship with God will be stunted, at best.  Frankly, we cannot know God just by our own power.  We serve a God who to our own eyes may seem invisible and distant from our problems, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, we begin to see His involvement, and His signature, on everything around us.  It isn't that the Holy Spirit makes us hallucinate; rather, He points out to us what was already there, and visible, even though we were missing it.

The Benefits of the Revelation of the Holy Spirit

To summarize the second thing that Paul prayed for, he was asking that the Ephesians, empowered by the Holy Spirit, would go beyond seeing the hand of God to knowing and reaping the spiritual benefits of that knowledge.  He specifically wrote, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe," (Ephesians 1: 18-19a NIV).

So there are several benefits of this spiritual sight, given to Christians through the Holy Spirit.  One is "the hope to which [God] has called you," that is, the hope of the Resurrection, that we can confidently look forward to the day when God will save us from eternal death. Without a knowledge of God and who He is and what He did for us through His Son, Jesus Christ, we have no such hope.  With this knowledge, we can be secure about our future, but without it, we will always be slaves to the law, trying to earn our ticket to Heaven.

The second benefit Paul wanted the Ephesians to see was "the riches of [God's] glorious inheritance in his holy people,"  which is the promise of adoption.  Without this spiritual understanding, even Christians who believe in God cannot truly enjoy a relationship with God that is as secure, and as privileged, as a child has with a parent.  If we see this, we can approach God boldly with our requests, and never fear that He will treat us as second-class children in His household (see Hebrews 4: 16 and Galatians 4: 4-7).  The Holy Spirit gives us the understanding, and the confidence, to know that we can approach the God of the universe with our requests--and He fills us with certainty that God wants to hear from us and is friendly to us.  What a fabulous benefit!

The third and last benefit Paul prayed for was "that you may know...his incomparably great power for us who believe."  In other words, he prayed that the Ephesians would see that God has the power to intercede for us, even in miraculous ways.  So often, when we are looking at the barriers in our lives, we forget about God's power to overcome them.  When the Holy Spirit enables us to really "see" our lives through "spiritual eyes,"  He shows us, not that the obstacles do not exist, but rather, that they cannot stand in God's way.  The Holy Spirit shows us that we don't have to move them, but that God can, and often will, on our behalf (see Matthew 19: 26 and Job 9: 4-6).  When we understand God's power, our faith is strengthened because God shows us that our trust in Him is merited.

Returning to the Topic of Enlightenment...

I cannot fully flesh out the tenets of Hinduism and Buddhism, but I must take a moment to contrast some basic ideas with what Paul is teaching here in Ephesians chapter 1.  Hindus and Buddhists believe they can come to know their god (the spirit of the universe), by freeing their mind from thoughts of the physical world.  This is not looking for God's hand, working behind the scenes, but rather, their "enlightenment" ideal is seeing that the universe, and every obstacle in it, is nothing, and that they are in fact nothing.  They don't have an eternal hope of salvation; rather, death to them is really a gateway to nothingness, where they are not remembered and loved any longer.  They don't see the universal spirit as benevolent, but rather, it is fatalistic or stand-offish; it doesn't help people, and human suffering is something we must simply accept without question.  In this way, their "spiritual sight" bears no resemblance to the warmth and richness that the Holy Spirit brings to believers.  There is no hope, there is no love, there is no confidence, and there is no power, when we try to imagine a universe without God.

I must return to my point at the beginning about how the Holy Spirit reveals to us things about God that we cannot find out on our own.  In contrast to this teaching, the Hindu and Buddhist faiths both have many "paths" and methods of discerning this "universal spirit," in other words, paths that are supposed to open "spiritual eyes."  Through the control of the mind and body, and the pursuit of good works and scholarly learning are all valued, none of them have brought these people to a knowledge of the truth.  In fact, they believe they have found some sort of hidden truth that even people like myself are "too stunted" to see--a "truth" that is fatalistic, bleak, and disappointing in its revelation.

On my own, I might have believed that it was right to seek God the same way they do, through my own efforts.  I needed the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Who has been revealing things about God to mankind through the centuries, in order to fully come to know God as a Person, not an entity without form or feeling.  The Holy Spirit even went so far as to direct people to write down clearly, in the Bible, deep things about the nature of God, so that others might read them.  There is a clearer "path," one that leads to hope, love, confidence, and power through dependence on a God who cares enough to get involved.  The problem is not that this "path," revealed by the Holy Spirit, is not good; rather, the problem is that it requires obedience and humility.  It is not that God doesn't exist or that He isn't moving; rather, He is just being overlooked.

I am praying, like Paul, not only for myself but also for others, that we come to know God better through the work of the Holy Spirit, and that we will be given "eyes" to see Him!

As always, comments are welcome!  Until next time, this is me reminding you to stay savvy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

He Will Take Care of the Rest!

You were trucking along, accomplishing something that you were certain God had directed you to do, and then suddenly an impossible circumstance rose up in your way.  You can't go around it, and it looks like you can't go through it.  Now what?  Has God changed the plan?  Is it time to give up?

If you have been following God for very long, you have probably encountered this "wall" at least once.  God told you to start a business or a ministry, begin a friendship or a relationship, go back to school or finish a degree, etc.  You launched in to the project with great enthusiasm and initially God confirmed everything you were doing.  You knew that it was right to start this project, and that God was in it, but now, where is the funding, support, or time?  If things continue as they are, you cannot see any end other than complete ruin.  This is when people around you begin to offer two takes on the situation: (1) "Have faith," or (2) "You're crazy/Give up now."

Now, I have to admit something here.  It is usually really easy to have faith in God when we can see that He is moving in our lives, or when we are having an easy time accomplishing the tasks set before us.  Even if life isn't fabulous in such moments, our faith can be.  However, when we come up against a wall, it seems that sometimes God, as well as our mission, can be obscured from our view.  It is at those moments when we see how faithless we can be.  When we are faced with a certain future--certainly doomed, that is--the world gets a chance to see how much we trust God.  What would people see in you in such moments?

On the Shore

I am reminded today of the Israelites' change in attitude as they left Egypt.  They went out celebrating and singing as they walked out of Goshen and all the other Egyptian cities where they had been living and working. They weren't just happy to be leaving; they were happy to have witnessed a miracle from God that delivered them from Egypt.  I see no evidence that they mistook the hand of God or thought they were coming right back.  They even took their bread dough with them in the kneading troughs (see Exodus 12: 31-39).  These people knew their mission, and they had proof enough that God was with them.
Then, they arrived at the shores of the Red Sea, and they looked back and saw that Pharaoh's army was coming to destroy them or to take them back to Egypt.  All of that joy was quickly forgotten; in fact, the Israelites are recorded as saying to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?  Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Exodus 14 : 11, 12 NIV).  Oh, what shining faith we have exemplified here!

Let us be reminded that the Israelites were not spouting "crazy talk."  They were taking what the whole world calls a perfectly reasonable assessment of the situation.  A few people in top condition might be able to swim across the bottom tip of the Red Sea (might; not likely, though); most people would die.  Even if they had started to run away at that moment, they could not have outrun horses and chariots.  There were women, children, and the elderly in their group, along with many, many animals and heavy possessions necessary for their journey.  This was a truly impossible circumstance!

If faith is assurance of what we cannot see (Hebrews 11: 1), it is clear from their words that they didn't have real faith.  It seems contrary to their attitude of joy and victory as they marched out to the shore, but it makes sense.  It is easy to believe in a God we can see; it is hard, very hard, to believe in a God who is invisible in our circumstances.  Our mind, and our eyes, rebel against our faith.

Stand at the Water's Edge

I think there lies the problem.  We cannot have a strong or lasting faith if, figuratively speaking, we are looking at the waterfront on one side and the chariots on the other.  We need to look up, to God, and trust that He is there, looking back at us, even if we can't see Him, and even though we feel we are acting crazy for doing so.  Can we do that?

Sometimes God calls us to the shore, and our task becomes that simple (or rather, difficult).  We have been called to walk to the water's edge.  That's it.  Can we be trusted to do that?  Can we stop looking around us and just remember that God hasn't asked us to do more than that?  Can we simply believe that God will take care of us, like He said He would do?

Today, if you are facing a "wall" that has risen up in your path to block you from obeying God, remember that God didn't call you to take out the wall--He called you to walk the path.  Your challenge is to stubbornly, firmly, (insanely) stick with the task, fully trusting in God to make it possible.  As God told Moses (who passed it on to the quavering Israelites), "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still," (Exodus 14: 14 NIV).  If you are truly doing His will, and you have seen confirmation of that at the beginning, don't waiver when the circumstances get tough.  Look to God, even if you cannot see Him.  Be still and know that He is with you, and let Him take care of the rest!

I'll let Keith Green take it from here.  His song, "He'll Take Care of the Rest," has lifted my spirits many times while I waited on God to remove the barriers from my path.  I hope it cheers you, as well!

Your comments are welcome, as always.  Until next time, stay savvy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Weekly Tidbit: The Light that Exalts and Humbles

I cannot figure out who to attribute this quote to, but I wanted to share an idea with you today:
"The only dangerous mines in a minefield are the ones no one has discovered yet."
 I believe I heard this quote in an old movie once.  Anyway, the gist of it, if we apply it to our lives, is that the secrets we carry can one day come back to hurt us if we try to keep them concealed.  It is best to bring all things into the light and "explode the bombs" so that no one can use them to destroy us later.

This idea also stands in Scripture.  From ancient times until now, it has always been the unconfessed sin, the one for which no sacrifice was offered, that stands between God and man.  That sin, and not the one that was obediently confessed, is the one that brings punishment.

Proverbs 28: 1 (NIV) says, "The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion."  I have touched on this verse before, but I am speaking about it again from a different perspective.  The wicked have a great fear of being discovered for what they are and what they have hidden, and so they run, even from those who don't suspect them.  On the other hand, the righteous have no fear of a wrong step or something bad being revealed about them, and so they march boldly ahead into the unknown.  They have already faced the truth that they are fallen, in need of redemption, and they have found mercy from God.  What more do they have to fear?

The Bible also says, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil," (John 3: 19 NIV).  God is that light, revealing even the deepest things and bringing all the hidden things to light (Daniel 2: 22).  Mankind has a tendency to try to hide from God, just as Adam and Eve tried to hide, but we cannot outrun light, no matter how hard we try.

What am I trying to say?  Only this.  Do not try to be someone you are not, before God or before man.  If people think less of you for confessing that you are a sinner, it is only because they are now operating on correct information.  If anyone makes an issue of it, God will deal with them, but as for you, God requires humility before honor.  His light hurts us and humiliates us, because it tells the truth about us.  However, if we face the terrible truth about ourselves, God has also promised to honor us for our submission and obedience to the truth.  Jesus addressed this when He was invited to an important Pharisee's house.  In Luke chapter 14, verses 7-11, we read about it:
When he [Jesus] noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable:  “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited.  If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place.  But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests.  For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
 God's light does not shine on us in such a way as to make us less than we are.  It only shows us the truth, plain and simple.  If we are living a lie, it will be revealed, and if we are being degraded beyond what God believes we deserve, He will honor us.  Simply put, if we are obedient, we have no need to fear what the light reveals.

Just a thought for today.  Your comments are welcome.  Until next time, stay savvy!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Another Ten-Second Interview

I spoke once before on a Christian's testimony and how it is shaped by our behavior in public events.  That post can be read here:  The Ten-Second Interview

Today I want to speak again (briefly, because I have so much to do) on this topic.  Perhaps we have the act, the costume, shall we say, of being a wonderful, loving public Christian memorized so well that we don't fear that a crowd of perfect strangers will get the wrong idea about us.  However, what about the times when the only ones who are watching us are people who know us?  If we had a follow-up ten-second interview, that is, a second, testimony-defining moment in our interactions with an individual, would that person's impressions of us change?  Would our friend still know that we know Jesus?  What if the second, ten-second interview came at a time when we were not paying attention?