Tuesday
Sep232008

no, i'm not on writing sabbatical

As I write, I sit in an apartment where the carpet desperately needs to be vacuumed. And tomorrow morning, I'll wake up, take a shower, and use a towel that's been used a few too many days in a row because I haven't done laundry in a few weeks. I suppose instead of writing I could return a few phone calls, but writing can sometimes be my sanity in the midst of a "need to do" list. Tomorrow is a day for productivity...

For all of those eagerly anticipating the end of my dating series...it will come soon. I'm feeling rather uninspired to write any longer about that topic, so instead of trying to force it, I'll just wait and ask you to be patient.

There's something that's been weighing on my mind as of late. Maybe this comes with working at a church, but suddenly I find myself with a great sense of urgency to make God known to those who do not have the hope and joy in Christ. Now, before one declares my desires as righteous or holy, I must confess to you...I'm doing very little about it. And therein lies the problem. The reason I feel anxiety. The reason why my mind has very little peace at night.

And it's crazy, because I spend 40+ hours a week in a cubicle with the primary goal of connecting 20-somethings to Jesus and His Church. So when I say "I'm doing very little about it", I don't mean as though I am lazy or apathetic, although I've fought those battles before. What I mean is that I desperately need to reevaluate my motivation.

Last night, in the silence of a moment with God, He spoke to me about my heart. And it was made clear to me that most of my energy has been put into answering the question, "How am I sharing the Gospel?" The problem is that this approach still is "me"-centered--it focuses on the whens and the wheres and the hows. It's beneficial to evaluate effective methods for teaching others about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; but I've developed a habit of asking myself that question and being satisfied in my own abilities to communicate rather than being focused on what really matters.

What really matters is people receiving the Gospel. God has already made known, through His Word, that the knowledge of His glory will fill the earth by HIS doing, not mine. Sometimes I wonder if, internally, I celebrate more in the act of sharing the Gospel than I do when a brother or sister comes to believe the Gospel. If so, I'm putting more faith in my words than God's. I spend time obsessing over things that are out of my control, and very little time praying that seeds would be planted and grow in the hearts of those that have been opened by God. I'm limiting myself for the sake of my own glory instead of living in freedom that the Spirit has given me undeservingly.

For those that find themselves in my situation--that are more concerned with how they are sharing rather than people receiving--I challenge you with this final thought. If we truly lived as Christ has commanded to, we wouldn't categorize some experiences into "opportunities where we were able to share the Gospel." Because the truth is that we are to be sharing the Gospel at ALL times. For me, this means that I need to listen with the intent of celebrating--the arrival of joy, the forgiveness of sin, the victory over a trial.

Monday
Aug252008

myths on dating // "we're just friends."

I may have set myself up for failure on this one. Typically, I write about things I feel as though I have a good grasp on. But I can't say as though I'm anywhere near being an expert on this next entry. However, I feel as though this topic is important, and I've already built up anticipation by telling you that I'd be writing about it. So, for the sake of honesty and vulnerability, here are my humble thoughts.

It is a great challenge to learn how to have a healthy dating relationship. It is another great(er--at times) challenge to learn how to have healthy friendships with those of the opposite sex. And how you conduct yourself in friendships with the opposite sex matters. Most of these entries are based off the different roles God has given men and women--this one is devoted to the same calling that has been placed on both genders: to be people of integrity and high character. This is what marks true biblical manhood and womanhood.

I'm not going to tell you whether "guys and girls CAN be friends" or "guys and girls CAN'T be friends." Here's what I will tell you: sometimes it's easy to fool ourselves. Sometimes it's easy to think that we are fooling others. Either way, we're just being foolish. The following list was made in an effort to promote wise living:

Six warning signs that you aren't "just friends":
1. If you are waiting for time to change your relationship.
Someone isn't "just friends" with someone else if they are secretly wishing that the person they are "just friends" with will someday want to be more than "just friends." I'm all for building dating relationships on the foundation of a solid friendship, but I also know that it's easy to cling to rather insignificant "signs" that keep your hopes up while the other person doesn't even realize what they are doing.

2. If you haven't had a conversation about the state of your friendship/relationship/friend-lationship(?).
Obviously, the best resource you have in helping define the state of your relationship is the other person involved--not your best friend or nosy co-worker. The healthiest thing you can do for yourself is ask for clarification, even if it may be awkward; because without it, you have nothing to go on (let's face it, your best friend will tell you exactly what you want to hear, which doesn't make he/she a very reliable source). And after the conversation, make sure your actions dictate the verdict...easier said than done in some cases.

3. If you can't be friends with their significant other.
If the person you are "just friends" with is, or starts, dating someone else, it's a true test of your "just friend"-ness. If you can't befriend the person your friend is dating, then there's going to be a problem...and you probably weren't "just friends" with them in the first place.

4. If the sheer number of your friends of the opposite sex outweighs your friends of the same sex.
You know what I've always found interesting? There's a lot of guys who claim, "I have always been better friends with girls." And there's a lot of girls who claim, "I just relate better to guys." Uh...anyone else see a problem with this? I'm going to make a bold statement by saying that a lot of young people who claim this find their security in these relationships. "Not liking drama" is not a reason for girls to have very few friends of the same sex--according to the popularity of the above statement, there's other girls who feel the very same way. And feeling like you can "be more open" with girls does not give guys an excuse to put no effort in building up friendships with other men.

5. If the information you disclose is not equivalent to your other friendships.
I'm mainly talking to my girls on this one, because women tend to manipulate words to gain emotional comfort. Examine what your motivations are in sharing what you do with your guy friends. If you can't, or don't take the effort to, share the same with another girl, it's probably not appropriate. And guys--knowing that girls have a tendency to do this, do your best to guard yourself against these situations.

6. If you've dated them.
No explanation needed. If you've attempted it, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, just take our word for it.

Thursday
Aug142008

myths on dating // "you complete me."

This blog is short and sweet (it's rare that I use this few of words to share my view on something, so enjoy it!). Although it is a rather romantic idea to have one person "complete" another one, it's not the truth.

There are a few dangers present in this thought. First, it takes away from the focus of the work Christ does in us when we receive the Spirit (check out Colossians 2 for a description).

Second, even though men and women have opposites, they are still complete people independent from each other. If you believe otherwise, you'll find yourself waiting until you get married to start your life. Opposites can attract--but in the end, it doesn't mean that you have "completed" yourself if you find someone whose strength is your weakness. Similarities are sometimes underrated in relationships, but for long-term success, they need to be present.

And third, as a single man or a single woman, you are just as complete as if you were married. The church doesn't always do a good job of telling you that, and for that I sincerely apologize. Your worth is not found in another person, but in Christ--so live that out!

So just because Renee Zellweger fell in love with Tom Cruise in "Jerry Maguire" over this line doesn't mean it works in real life...and I think we've all learned that just because Tom Cruise says something doesn't mean it's very valid (for further evidence, search his name on YouTube).

Saturday
Aug092008

myths on dating // "it's going to take a great man to earn my respect"

Maybe you know the girl I used to be. You know, the girl who claims that "girls can do anything guys do", the girl who sees it as justice to fight for women to be considered "equals" among men in all fields, the girl who glories in her independence. I know these girls because I was one.

I suppose it all started with good intentions. I didn't want to be a person who waited until they got married to start their life, so I set ambitions for myself and went out to achieve them. And there's nothing wrong with women being successful--please don't miss that. But I had bought into a philosophy that fails to see that there are specific roles that have been uniquely assigned to men and uniquely assigned to women.

There's a problem in our society, and it can be summed up like this: simply put, we're masculinizing women and feminizing men. And this can manifest into something very ugly, even in the church. I got it wrong for many years, now I'm passionate about helping people get it right. There is an urgency to live this out--and it is the very thing that is under attack in our culture today.

I developed the "it's going to take a great man to earn my respect" attitude as a result of this incorrect philosophy. Now, before I go any further--it's not as though I've thrown all standards out the window. My problem with the statement is more about the underlying philosophy behind it than the statement itself. This attitude creates a woman who sits on her throne, expecting men to jump through hoops of fire to impress her.

We've missed the fact that, as women, we are to be a helper suitable to men (Genesis 2), designed to be an encourager and supporter. Therefore, even in the church, we struggle to find men who are leaders, but have plenty of women who complain about that very fact. I wonder if woman are partially to blame for this problem. I wonder if we would begin to see men feel empowered to lead when women begin to speak words of affirmation into the lives of the men around them. As rare as it may seem to find a man who leads, it may be just as rare to find a woman who respects men the way she ought to.

For my ladies reading this (I'll get to the guys in a second), if you take away only one thing I write in this post, remember this: You were created with the desire to submit (I don't care if you like or loathe that word, it's the truth). Some of us deny that desire, for whatever reason. It may be your past or your personality, but sometimes we create an economy of respect where people attempt to buy and sell this rare currency at a high price. Disrespecting men who love the Lord and refusing to submit is to deny who we were created to be.

And guys, realize that you were made to be respected, and a woman should do nothing less. Don't settle for a seemingly "great girl" if she doesn't have admiration for who you are, if her words and actions aren't filled with encouragement and support. If you are a man following after the heart of God, you deserve a helper suitable; a woman who makes you a better leader because of her words.

This goes far beyond dating, like I said in my previous post. I'm not asking women to submit to every man like he's her husband, and I'm not demolishing the expectations for men to step up and be great leaders. I suppose this post is more for the women than the men who read my blog, but I leave you with this: know that God created purpose in gender, and to deny that is to live foolishly as the world does. Help each other become the great men and women who advance the kingdom by becoming who they were created to be.

Sunday
Jul272008

myths on dating // the preface

 

I know, I know...if there's anything I'd rather NOT write about in the world, it would be on this subject matter. My employment at a Christian bookstore for a couple of years helped me develop a slight distaste towards literature on Christian dating philosophies. You get to a point where you realize they're all saying the same thing. Don't get me wrong--these books serve a purpose. But they can all be summarized with two words: date (or court...if you've chosen to use that word instead--and on that note, can someone really explain to me the difference?) wisely. 

 

That's why I hesitate to start this series of posts. In my opinion, it is much more beneficial to teach a biblical view on gender identity than it is to teach a biblical view on dating. Why? Because the latter really doesn't exist--most people just write from their past experiences. I'd much rather see us spend our time discussing God's instruction for true manhood and womanhood. I think most of our frequently debated topics on dating would be a lot clearer if we did so.

 

Therefore, these posts aren't solely limited to the context of dating. It's just the context I see the myths in the most (which isn't uncommon when you are in your 20s). But I'm going to attempt to examine them on the basis of having a correct view of God's purpose in gender. 

 

Now, before I go any further, I should also point out the fact that I am single. And although I've learned a few lessons from my own relationships, all of them have obviously ended for various reasons, which leaves me with very little credibility to write on the issue. Therefore, if you feel as though this is adequate means for dismissing everything I have to say on this subject matter for fear that I may screw up this area of your life, I will not hold it against you if you choose to read no further. :)

 

Let me introduce you to what you can expect in the coming days. The following "myths"--better described as an incorrect way of viewing these types of relationships--are phrases that I hear all too often...and at one time, may have even come out of my mouth:

 

1. "It's going to take a great man to earn my respect."
2. "You complete me."
3. "We're just friends..."

 

And I really don't want someone to explain to me the difference between dating and courting. The above statement was made in sarcasm. Just in case there's anyone that's really passionate about the issue...