Monthly Archives: May 2006

Knowing God

Hello.  How are you today?  How was your day at work today?  Good?  Great.

So, how's your relationship with God?

Yes, you.  This is not addressed to your sister,  your mother, your best friend or your doctor.

But you.

Do you feel like you are close to God?  Do you feel like you know Him at all?  Would you like to?

I think about things like this a lot, and I  know I'm not alone.  I've been a Christian for a while (about nine years now) and, while I feel like I have a relationship with God, I am always striving to know Him better.  And I know you probably feel the same way too. 

So I thought we'd talk about it today.  And talk about some good pointers for getting to know God better.

Know the first thing you have to do to truly know God?

Be a Believer

Do you believe in God?  Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?  Yeah, I know all about the Da Vinci code controversy – Jesus was just a 'man', right?  Wrong.  Jesus himself declared he was the son of God.  Why else do you think he would sacrifice his life on the cross (in one of the most horrific ways to die possible) to save you and me?  I love my friends and family, but I probably wouldn't give my life for them.  And you probably wouldn't either. 

But Jesus did.  Because he knew it was the only way to wipe out our sin and restore us back to our original relationship with God – as His children.  Do you believe in Jesus Christ?  Do you believe he was the Son of God?  Do you believe he died on the cross for your sins?  Now if you confess these things with your  mouth – and believe – you are now God's child.

So where do you go from here?

Pray

You know how you like to spend time with your girl or guy friends, your family and sometimes your co-workers?  How you can spend hours just talking, hanging out and having a good time?  Well, God wants to have that exact same type of relationship with you.  So, hang out with God – by praying.  Talk to Him.  Tell Him what's on your mind.  Ask Him what's on His.  And – you might be surprised – He just might answer you 🙂  If not today, then maybe tomorrow.  But, remember, all relationships take time and effort.  So invest in your relationship with God by spending time with Him. 

And after that?

Study God's Word

Yes, that old Bible is looking thick, dusty and long!  Not to mention boring, outdated, and irrelevant.  After all, modern scholars have debunked everything in there, right?  Wrong! That's what they want you to believe.  And the best knowledge is knowledge you discover for yourself.  Study the origin of the Bible.  Study what the Bible says.  Many world events, people and places have been confirmed by historical and archaeological findings.  And, the books contained within the Bible are the accepted doctrine of God – as close to talking to Him as it gets.

And, outdated?  Hardly.  I am currently reading through the Old Testament, and if I read about one more rape, blood-thirsty war, plague, act of disobedience, instances of incest and rebellion, I am going to faint!  People freely worshipped other religions and denied God (just like we do today), went to war for stupid reasons (just like we do today), questioned the relevance of God (like we do today) and celebrated feasts and holidays unto God (just like we do today).  And the Proverbs, Psalms and New Testament are filled with so much insight, wisdom and knowledge about life – how to handle stress, conflict, depression,etc. – that it's a wonder anyone can make it through life without knowing the Bible!  So, pick it up today – and learn what God has to say about your life.

And, finally:

Go to Church!

Yes, I know you think it's possible to have a great relationship with God in the privacy of your own home, but I hate to be the one to tell you that the Bible specifically tells us to fellowship with other believers.  And there are other very good reasons to attend church:  you will meet other people who are in the same boat as you are and can encourage you as you grow closer to God; you will learn from people who know a lot more about God than you do; and you will take your first step in obedience to God by doing what He's asked you to do.  The church really is a great place to make friends, learn about God and develop good relationships with His people.  But – it's important to remember – people are not God!  They are just people.  And you are going to church primarily to get to know Him, secondarily to make friends and build relationships.

This will be very important to remember as your embark on your spiritual journey, because it's very easy to get caught up in interpersonal dynamics instead of focusing on God when you go to church.  And God should always be your focus – not what the pastor is doing, not what your friends are saying and not what anyone else is wearing (I know I'm guilty of this sometimes!)  

Focus on God and He will focus on you.

I truly hope your journey with God goes well.  I know that He has your best interests in heart.

He's just waiting on you to figure that out for yourself…

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When A Relationship Ends (Part 2)

What to Do


You continue to get up in the morning and pray. God is still a good God. No matter what happens and no matter what the circumstances, HE IS GOD. And that will never change. Thank Him that He has provided you with His comfort. Thank Him that you are saved. Thank him that your home is with Him, your joy is in Him and He still thought enough of you to be with you this day, in the midst of your misery and pain, steadfast and sure. Thank Him that even though you don't know the outcome of this situation, He does and He will never let you down and will never lead you astray. As a matter of fact, at the other end of this period of testing, you will be a lot better person anyway! You will have grown, possibly that other person will have grown and, if the relationship is meant to continue, it will be better than it was before. Know that it is all for a reason. Even if you don't understand it. Even if you don't like it. Even if you think it has gone on for long enough. Trust God more and yourself less. Besides, think how silly you will feel when it is all said and done and things turn out fine and you just spent the last three months of your life in bed because you had decided you couldn't face the world. Would it have been worth it? I think not.
Continue to laugh and smile. No, every minute will not be filled with joy, but, surely, there is one thing you can read, one conversation you can have, one television program or movie that you can watch that can provide you with a moment of joy! Rent an old favorite, hang out with your friends and laugh about anything other than that person. Remember what was so great about your life in the first place. It certainly hasn't changed because that person is no longer around. All the great things, all the great friends, all the great activities are still right there. Waiting for you. Try them out. Experience them. Yes it still hurts, but laugh anyway. You'll feel better. And you'll be able to cope better.Continue to take care of your emotional, physical and, most importantly, spiritual well-being. Continue to eat healthy things. Do not overindulge in sweets, salts, fried foods or anything else that doesn't bring health and goodness to your body. It's bad enough you're feeling down, there's no need to send a boatload of chemicals into your system that will make you fatter, clog your arteries, dampen your enthusiasm and take away your energy. Really, life has enough problems to offer you without you adding more to it. Continue to listen to your favorite music, watch your favorite (uplifting) television shows and read your bible. You will get through this and you don't want to reach the end of this trial 20 pounds heavier, far, far from the Word or a mental vegetable from all the unhealthy and unhelpful television shows you watched in order to 'forget' about that person. Think of the person you'd like to be and continue forward with that ideal in mind. You are in control of how you treat yourself. Do a good job at it.

Last of all, you need to forgive yourself. Forgive yourself if you made mistakes in the relationship. Acknowledge that you did the best you could and vow to try to make amends for any hurts you may have caused. This time alone may just turn out to be the best thing that's ever happened to you! Take this time to grow and learn from your experiences. Forgive yourself for being a fool if you allowed yourself to be one for that person. Forgive yourself for being taken in and promise yourself to learn from any errors in judgment. Forgive yourself for willfully being blind, ignorant or lost in the pursuit of happiness you thought could be found in another person. Realize that true happiness comes only from God and is internal in you, in Him. Promise yourself you will do better next time. And, last of all, forgive yourself for the days you do cry, or mentally curse that person out or have such a bad day that you depress your friends, co-workers and family members. When the dog is afraid to curl up next to you because of the foul air of misery and frustration that surrounds you. For indulging in that family-size bag of Doritos and extra two or three helpings of mashed potatoes from KFC. Because we've all been there. And we've all done foolish things. You will do better next time! Let it go and move on.

Remember – you CANNOT control another person. That person may or may not come back to you. You may or may not be able to continue in relationship with that person.

The relationship you must cherish and nurture, however, is your relationship with yourself. Vow to treat that person better if he or she comes back and you wish to continue with them, but treat yourself better right now. Take good care of you and those rewards will last a lifetime. Treat yourself well. Then treat others well.

And, when all is said and done, just do the best you can.  You will come through it.  And you will be stronger, wiser person on the other end of this experience.

Trust me…

When A Relationship Ends (Part 1)

What do you do when the good times have gone? What do you do when you no longer know what to say to your mate/lover/friend? When you are on the outs and can't remember what the 'ins' were like? When you can't remember why this person was so important to you in the first place and can't decide if it's worth trying to fix?

What Not to Do

First, let's talk about what you don't do. You don't give in to the shame, the despair or the depression. Yes, you miss that person, yes, you are not doing your best, but, no, you do not decide to give up on life as well. Maybe that person will come back. Maybe that person won't. You have no control over that person. God has given each of us free will. What makes you think you can take away what God has given? In knowing that all of us have the ability to choose for ourselves, recognize that that other person has a right to choose to live his or her life as he or she pleases. In other words, it ain't about you. And it never will be. And, as soon as you understand and accept that you cannot control another person's destiny, half the battle is already won…

You also don't run that person's name into the ground. Yes, he or she did things that were wrong. But, then again, so did you. As a Christian, we do not fill our mouths with hateful, spiteful or vituperative rampages against another person. It is un-Godly and it is foolish. If no one has ever told you that, you know it now. It is not becoming to you as a Christian or as a human being with basic common decency to spend time running down someone else. You are bigger than that. Your life and your time are worth more than that. And, after all, you found something about that person to love or admire at some point in your life. You also need to think – when you run that person down, you are really running yourself down. What you are saying when you talk about that person is that you were not intelligent enough to choose a good friend, lover or mate. Not to say that you can't talk about it all. Sure, after the initial incident or departure, you have plenty to say. Find a few trusted friends or spiritual advisors and let it all out. Journal, pray about it, write letters to that person if you must. But don't let it get out of hand. Don't let those memories be reduced to acid retellings or let bitterness or anger overcome you. Don't ruin your life or your memory of that person with you wild and willful tongue. It ain't worth it.

You don't spend all your time thinking about that person. You don't spend days, minutes and hours planning revenge, planning the reconciliation or replaying memories from the 'good ol' days'. Of course, there will be periods of time when you will reflect on that person and on the memories the two of you have shared. These periods of time do not take up your entire day. You were a whole person before he or she came into your life. You are still a whole person. You had a life before you met that person. You still have a life. Enjoy it! No one is saying you have to paste a smile on your face 24-7, but you certainly still need to go to church, talk to your friends, clean your house and present a decent and well-groomed appearance. What does it say about you or your relationship with God if you won't take the hour it requires to shower, put on clean clothes and style your hair? That your life is not worth living if that person is not in it? That you cared more about that person than you do about yourself? That God has not provided enough of His love and support as well as sent other wonderful people in your life that can help to meet your needs during this difficult time? I think not. Honor God and what He has given you in your life by living it. And respecting it. And going on.

Lastly, you don't spend all your time sighing, looking sad or in a dazed or incoherent state of shock. Yes, you are sad. As a matter of fact, you feel lots of emotion. And it's okay for you to feel those things. But, who are you helping by painting a frown on your face, by looking like your stomach is continually upset or angrily mumbling to yourself over your morning coffee or your computer screen? Let me tell you – no one. And let me tell you the effect this attitude will have on your friends, family or co-workers – they will avoid you like the plague! Admit it – we are all sympathetic to tales of heartbreak and betrayal – up to a point. But, once that point has been crossed, watch out! We all have someone in our lives, either in our family, our office or at our church, that, when we see them coming, we turn the other way. They are always filled with complaints, grumbling about their day, mad at someone or something and always, always, always in a bad mood. Well, with your heartbreak stories and pessimistic attitude, you are now that person! No, your best friend does not want to hear for the 30th time what that person had the nerve to say to you in your last telephone call. No, your co-worker is not interested in how poorly you slept the night before – they only wanted to get that report from you, not receive a report! And, no, even your mother has tired of your always complaining, never a fond word, railing against the world, down and out attitude about how 'everybody is against you' or 'no one really cares.' Please, please, please, for their sake, stop talking about it! Try saying something like, 'I'm doing my best with it. And how is your day?' Stop thinking about you and think more about someone else. While you're nursing a heartache over some real or imagined betrayal, someone else is losing their mother to cancer, or their son has been arrested. Tune out of your own problems and into theirs. And, believe me, you'll feel much better. By talking incessantly about what this person did or said to you, you not only reinforce it in your friends' minds over and over again, you also reinforce it in your own. Which leads to further depression, increased antagonism towards that other person, stress to yourself and your body and stagnated and unproductive thinking. Think about something else. Please. Talk about something else. For your sake as well as for the sake of those who love you. Your mind, body and heart will thank you.

Should Christian Singles Date Multiple Partners?

Here's a often highly-debated question: Should Christian singles date multiple partners?

It's so often debated because it's such a murky question.  Before we can even begin to attack the question, we have to consider:  what's the purpose of dating anyway?  And – shouldn't we be 'courting' instead of 'dating'? 

What is the purpose of dating?  According to today's culture, it's a way of getting to know someone, to hang out with a member of the opposite sex, to have someone to escort you (or be escorted) to an important event or (depending on how worldly you are) a way of obtaining a regular sex partner. Courting is considered to be dating, but with one very important caveat: you are seeing that person as preparation for getting married.  Therefore, courting is usually considered much more serious.

So, returning to the original question (now that we have a working definition of dating), should Christians date multiple partners?  What do you think about it?

I personally think it's a bad idea.  Why?  Because, with all things, the more factors you throw into the pot, the more confusing things will be.  Let's say you are going out with Bill (whom you like), occasionally spend time with Tim (because he has a really cool-looking car) and have just started seeing Steve (because he is oh so fine).  What do you think will become of all these relationships?  You like Bill, but he will more than likely get lost in the shuffle as you juggle him and two other men.  Tim is cool, but he doesn't have a lot to say for himself.  However, you get a personal high from being seen in his Mercedes, so you continue to waste time with him.  And Steve? You may or may not like him, but you don't know because you don't have the time or energy to spend much time with him!  So you are dating three men, but not getting a whole lot of fun.  Are you having fun yet?

I think it is easier (and much more productive) to just date one person at a time.  In a perfect world, I would even advise courting, as opposed to dating.  That way you would both know that what you are doing is getting to know each other and preparing for marriage with that person.  But I recognize that we do not live in a perfect world (and most men and women aren't ready to be that committed until they've spent more time with a person), so my best advice would be to just spend time with one person.

Why?  Because your life is busy enough as it is – you have church, you have your family, you have your friends, and possibly school and a job.  Dating more than one person will definitely detract from all these things.  I think your time will be much better spent doing things to build your life, your finances and your relationship with God.  And, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Does Being Single Mean Putting Your Life on Hold?, when opu are single, you are focused on God.  And on serving Him.  As a married person, you will more naturally begin to become more focused on pleasing your mate.  So, since you know that will happen once you get married, it is important as a single person to make sure God is your primary focus.  And this definitely will not happen if you are dating several people at once!

So, if you are dating more than one person right now, seriously consider why that is.  Do you find none of them very satisfying as a potential mate?  Are you trying to be a player?  Are you just not looking to be serious right now?  Or do you just think this is the norm?

And, after you have answered those questions, consider if that is the best use of your time.  Only you know what is going on in your life, so only you can make that decision. I only hope (and pray) you make the best choice for your life.

Can Christians Be Sexy?

With the popularity of low riders, belly shirts, navel piercings and other such fashion trends, we have to ask ourselves:  Can Christians Be Sexy?

First, we have to consider what 'sexy' is and the implications of being considered 'sexy' in today's world.  The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines it as follows:

sex·y   Audio pronunciation of ( P )  Pronunciation Key  (sks)
adj. sex·i·er, sex·i·est

  1. Arousing or tending to arouse sexual desire or interest.
  2. Slang. Highly appealing or interesting; attractive: “The recruiting brochures are getting sexier” (Jack R. Wentworth).

Arousing or tending to arouse sexual desire – hmm, is this how we want to present ourselves? Maybe not.  (And ladies, I apologize – but most of this posting will be for you.  I know there is a double standard for men and women, but after we acknowledge that fact, we just have to figure out a way to deal with it.)

Here's the thing – so many sins can be traced back to the sexual – fornication, adultery, some forms of covetousness, lust – not to mention the potential addictive and destructive nature of sex.  So do we want to dress or act in a way that appeals solely to the sexual desires of the members of the opposite sex? If only to help out our Christian brothers, I'd have to say – probably not.

I know it's tempting to want to be fashionable – as a recent news report revealed, it's harder to find shirts of normal length sometimes than belly shirts.  And, yes, while you might be able to wear it, the question is not can you, but should you.

The Bible admonishes that women "…..adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety; not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment; but (which becometh women professing godliness) through good works. 1 Titus 2:9-10)"  Clearly the emphasis here is for a women to be more modest than flashy and to 'display' her value through the good works with which she occupies herself.  In other words, that it's not necessarily about what's on the outside, but what's on the inside.

I like my low riders as well as the next person, but I also realize that, as a Christian, I have to be a model for what is appropriate as a follower of Christ.  And that is your duty as well – to model being a Christian – particularly for non-Christians.  In this respect, you are a leader – however you dress, whatever you say and whatever you do will be interpreted in light of your professed Christianity.  Fair?  No.  Realistic?  Yes.

So – think about it the next time you pull out that color-coordinated, hot outfit that you plan to wear on that next outing with your girlfriends.  Get dressed and take a good long look in the mirror.  And think to yourself – what are my clothes saying about me?  What will people think when they see me?  Is this how I see myself?

The choice is up to you, but I humbly suggest that you seriously consider the above questions and make the best decision possible about what you are about to wear.  And that's all any of us can do….

Should You Marry a Man Who Still Lives At Home?

A recent conversation with a good friend of mine (whose adult son still lives at home) brought this question to my mind:  Should you marry a man who still lives at home (with mom and/or dad)?

 A lot of Christians will tell you that a man is supposed to get a job, have a home and be prepared to take care of his wife and future children prior to getting married.  That a man should at least be self-supporting, before he should even consider supporting a mate (and a few will add that he should be college-educated, established in his career and driving a nice car).  Not because the Bible tells us this is true – but because conventional wisdom does.  So what does the Bible say about it? 

Surprisingly – not a whole lot.  The Bible is filled with wisdom for a man who is a husband – how to treat his wife, the role of a husband in a marriage,  and the role of a husband who holds church office.  But not one scripture I've seen directly addresses the money-making capabilities or responsibilities of a potential husband.

So where does that leave us?  Would it be okay to marry a man who does not have a job, a vocation, is not in school and/or still lives at home?

In the absence of direct Biblical direction, let us instead look at the original purpose of marriage.  And what better place to start than the story of Adam and Eve (Genesis 1-5)?

  According to the Bible, God first created Adam and then created Eve (some argue they were created at the same time, but you should read the scriptures yourself to see what you believe).  After Adam's creation, the Bible tells us God created Eve because it was not good 'that the man should be alone' – and Adam needed help.  So God created one who was perfect in every way for him – a woman, whom Adam named Eve.  So there were two purposes of mariage fulfilled at that time – to provide companionship for Adam and to give him a helping partner.  After creating Adam and Eve, God then enjoined them to 'be fruitful and multiply'.  So, another purpose of marriage was to procreate.  But, before all this – God gave Adam a job – to name the animals, to tend to the garden and to watch over the two trees that were forbidden to them (of knowledge and eternal life).  Adam had a job;.  After Eve had been created, God further stated that 'Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:  and they shall be one flesh'.  And there, I believe, lay the keys to the man's responsibility in a marriage.

God intended for a man to leave his mother and father and begin a new life with his wife.  And, Adam had a job before Eve was ever created.  So what does this tell us?  That a man should be prepared to start a new life with his wife and that he should be gainfully employed before doing so.  So, in looking at this evidence, we can see that this does not necessarily exclude a man who still lives at home with his parents, with the caveat that he has a job.

I can only say, in closing, that although I don't think it is Biblically or societally incorrect to marry or date a man who still lives at home, you seriously need to consider the maturity and responsibility of such a man.  Most adults who come of age willingly leave the nest, to return only out of financial need (on a temporary basis).  Therefore you need to ask yourself – why is this man still living at home?  Is he in school?  Did he just graduate from college?  is he helping his parents in any way – or are they helping to support him?  And, most importantly – does he have any plans to leave? 

I personally do not believe that a man can come fully into a knowledge of his own identity under the protective influence of mom and dad.  And that it would be a mistake to overlook a potential red flag about the man you intend to marry.  After asking yourself the above questions, my only advice to you is that you should trust your instinct, pray diligently about the matter and trust God to lead you on the right path.

Does Being Single Mean Putting Your Life on Hold?

Many people equate being single with putting your life on hold – you are waiting to get married, waiting to have children (if you don't have any yet), waiting for the father or mother of your children to marry you – waiting.  Does being single mean you have to put your life on hold?

Absolutely not!  It says in 1 Corinthians 7:32-34:

"32  But I would have you to be free from cares. He that is unmarried is careful for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

33  but he that is married is careful for the things of the world, how he may please his wife,

34  and is divided. So also the woman that is unmarried and the virgin is careful for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married is careful for the things of the world, how she may please her husband."

It was not meant, as is so often interpreted, as an injunction against marriage.  What it was meant to remind us is how very productive we can be towards the Lord as a single person.  See, a very natural thing occurs when you get married – your interests, your time and your thoughts begin to turn towards your spouse.  You think about ways to please your spouse and turn your energies toward nurturing the relationship, the home and your children.

An unmarried person does not have those concerns.  While a single person may still have children, the number one relationship in his or her life is still God (or, at least, it should be!) and that is where this person's time, energy and passion ought to go.  If you are dating someone, it is good to spend time with him or her, go out on dates, talk on the phone, etc., but remember that, as a single person, you can do so much more to serve God than you ever will after being married!

So, if you find yourself single today, make the most of it!  Do what you can to serve God, honoring Him with your time and your resources.  It is a decision that will serve you well throughout the rest of your life.