Dec 28, 2007

The Frail Rose

Originally posted 7:44am Sunday, Apr 15 on Facebook

Hey guys, I am posting this because I make reference to it in the next part of the series (which should be posted very soon) and it seems that I have found several old posts that I never transferred to blogger :)

PS - For once, the first three pics are not mine...

Roses have thorns for protection, yet sometimes they prick the gardener, who is the very one sent to care for the rose. It is true that there are many laborers in a garden, yet the true gardeners are very wise in their dealings. A wise gardener considers how to care for the rose so as not to damage it, which is the primary goal, yet not be pricked when he handles it. Sometimes his wisdom may be mistaken as weakness, yet it is not. Instead, it is a reservoir of strength, applied when and how it is appropriate. A general laborer tromping through a garden may seem strong to the rose, yet he is also the most dangerous.

It is interesting and sad that so often, it seems, these frail roses regard the apparent strength of a foolish laborer, yet ignore the hidden strength of a wise gardener!

A poorly skilled person must boast in his abilities. His strength is constantly displayed, boasting of something greater than what is! A skilled person has no need to speak. Only in necessity is his strength revealed!

May the frail rose not perish for its thorns, but trust the gardener and receive healing, strength, and protection!

May I be a wise gardener in my dealings with others; emulating Christ, who is The Wise Gardener!

Proverbs 18:14 The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?

Isaiah 42:3 A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish

Proverbs 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.

Proverbs 15:2 The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly.

Proverbs 2:2-5 Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God.

Dec 27, 2007


Originally posted 7:44am Sunday, Apr 15 on Facebook

Hey guys, I am posting this because I make reference to it in the next part of the series (which should be posted very soon) and it seems that I have found several old posts that I never transferred to blogger :)

It’s hard to hug a porcupine!

Dec 24, 2007

A Stolen Stereo and the Real Thief in the Night

Well, after a long and stressful semester, a J-term with even more coming up, and an assortment of personal burdens, which we all carry… I am kinda worn out. My mom is here for Christmas and it is truly a blessing to be able to see her and spend time with her once again. Anyway, since we both talk so much, we have not gotten much rest since she has been here and I was really looking forward to sleeping in this morning and just having a restful day. At around 8:00 this morning, the phone rang and one of my friends informed me that he noticed my car had been broken into. Unfortunately, he was right. Early this morning someone busted out my passenger-side window, took a crowbar or something to my dash and stole my stereo, the control unit for the heat / Air, and my cd’s (which are actually dummy copies… joke’s on him). Whoever did this was quite thorough as they went through the entire rest of the car searching for anything of value (boy did they pick the wrong car :) and even left the light on for me. Two hours after I was informed, the police reports were filed and I was able to go about my day.

As I have discussed so many times in the past, there is a lesson to be learned in any and every event of life. Over and over in the scriptures we are told to seek wisdom and that we do well to gain it and that if we ask, it will be granted. This thought hit me a long time ago: the wisest man that has ever lived took instruction from a wall (Prov 24:30-34), an inanimate object, something devoid of reason. If he can learn from a wall, wise has he was, I can certainly learn from people and situations. Thus, I must ask myself what is to be gained by this? What lesson can I learn? What is actually going on here?

Well, let me say right away that I am not intelligent or mature enough to claim to know exactly what is going on or how God is ultimately glorified in a broke student having his car broken into and things stolen. However, if we ask, God will not withhold a measure of wisdom and understanding (James 1:5). Though this only happened a few hours ago, there are a number of lessons the Lord is already teaching me through this situation, several of which are things that we all know, but we must be continually reminded of, lest we fall into complacency.

Well, the very first thing that came to my mind was that somehow, this brings glory and honor to Christ. Though I may not be able to see how, I know that it does. Also, the simple fact is that God was not surprised by this. He is not up in heaven going, “oh, poor Aaron, I wish I had seen this coming.” No, NOT AT ALL!!! Thus, since God is in total and absolute control, He decreed that this happen for one reason or another. Since that is the case, this is good for me and comes directly from my loving father, though at the hands of evil powers and men. The second thing that came to my mind is that this is all God’s stuff anyway. If He wants it back, who am I to argue? I have nothing and I am nothing, I am entirely His. Therefore, ALL is grace upon grace.

Next, my thoughts turned to the individual (or individuals) that did this. As soon as I got back in, my mom was already praying for them, as was I. I began to think how sad it was that someone would feel that they have to resort to this type of thing. Unfortunately, it is far too common this time of year. Whoever this was probably “needed” the money and in desperation, felt they had no other choice (or they are habitually this way). There are a number of lessons even within this thought. The first is a reminder to myself to watch my life and guard my soul against all sin. The saddest thing about this situation to me is the self-deception involved. This guy is self-deceived, as we all are in our sin. He probably thinks that he got away with it and that no one will ever know. Yet this could not be further from the truth. God is watching and knows exactly who did this, where they are, and, forget the ID card, even the number of hairs on their head! Thus, they may never face legal punishment in this life (and probably won’t), but that does not mean that they will not reap what they sow. Their recompense will return upon their own head in this life and (apart from Christ) in the judgment to come. Further, this sin was not against me, but against God, thus their punishment will be severe. This is like in the movies where some cute little critter is standing in place, waving all happy at the camera and the audience can see an enormous tidal wave getting ready to crash down upon the unsuspecting little guy. My heart breaks for this person!!!

The next lesson is just another reminder of the effects of sin. This earth was created good and then sin entered. Since that time, the world is “tooth and claw,” full of all sorts of “unnatural” violence. This is demonstrated in a number of ways in this situation. The most obvious one to me is that herein you have the poor feeding upon the poor (societally speaking, for in truth, as an American, I am quite rich). Also, directly related to this, is that this individual came under the cover of darkness, as a thief who took, with extreme violence, thoroughly searching the car for anything of value. I went to bed last night anticipating the day, assuming that things would remain as they have been. I planned to sleep in, to wake up at some point, and to enjoy the day. I assumed that my car would be ok and that I would not have an enormous hole in the middle of my dash that may well be irreparable. I was wrong and caught quite off-guard. In a moment’s time, all of these plans changed, violence had come about. I am sure you can see where I am going with this, nevertheless, let me explain. In the same way, men will be marrying and giving in marriage, going about their normal routines following their own assumed plans and Christ will break in like a thief in the night (misc including Matt 24). That day will come upon us so suddenly that it will be upon us before we even realize it has come and it will overtake us in a moment. He will also come with extreme violence, the likes of which this world has never seen. In the final judgment, He will thoroughly search out those that are His, separating the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats, utterly destroying all that oppose Him… with the full measure of God’s wrath. Herein is also the true meaning of Christmas. God invaded the earth in the person of Christ. He came “under the radar” so to speak (despite announcing it). His Kingdom rose, grew, and continues to grow right in the midst of this evil world. Christ did not come to bring peace, but the sword. One day, while the earth is sleeping, this same Jesus will come suddenly, ultimately leading to a final violent threshing of all evil. Christmas is not just about the cute baby Jesus that we love to sing about… no, Christmas is also Normandy, D-day, in which the first of the final assault began (also the “already-not-yet" of our theology). The coming of Christ is the realized hope of the saved and the sure end of the lost (the stone of stumbling and the rock of offense - Rom 9:33).

Herein is also the doctrine of total depravity. That someone would do things such as these is proof enough. This event was not random or unplanned from the perspective of the individual. It was premeditated, deliberate, and carried out with violence. Every aspect of our lives have been touched and marred by sin including our thought processes, hearts, wills, and so on. Yet, God demonstrates His grace in that we are not as wicked as we could be. This person was not destroying property just for the sake of destroying it. No, this individual had a purpose (an evil one), but did not act out of that purpose. He did not key my car, slash my tires, plant C-4 (that I know of), throw hand grenades at it, or send an F-14 after it. Further, he did not injure anyone or do anything else beyond his original evil intent. Thus, God’s grace abounds in preventing us all from being as wicked as we could be (and in that, I rejoice).

After dealing with these things this morning, I went to have my morning devotional time. My normal method for reading is to systematically loop through the Old Testament in the mornings and the New Testament in the evenings, piece by piece. This morning happened to be the first morning of another loop through the Old Testament. Thus, my reading coincides with the recent revival in my own spiritual life. I am starting over again, there is a new beginning, a Genesis. Inherent in any new beginning is that Satan wants to destroy what God has decreed that He will build. Inherent in this, is God’s promise of help through the One who is to come, and who is already at work in my life (Ps 127:1). Thus, Satan is going to try to do anything he can to try to defeat me, get me down, or get me off focus. It is therefore no real surprise that so many burdens exist in my life right now and that something like this has happened on top of them… it should not surprise us! Folks, I know you know it, but Satan HATES Christ’s children!!! He wants nothing more than to ruin our lives and the Name we bear. We do a pretty good job of messing up on our own, but let us never forget that we are in a spiritual war, with real spiritual enemies. One of my favorite sayings is that “the devil is on a leash and God is pulling his chain!” If we understand these things, the devil is actually kinda funny (at least in a pitiful sort of way). I say it is kinda funny because Satan is actually dumb enough to think that something this trivial, in light of the grand scheme, is going to get us down and prevent the Lord’s work in our lives! My friends, if we keep our eyes where they ought to be, we can truly laugh at his failed attempts!!! On the other hand, let us never forget how serious this war is. Unfortunately, all too often, our foolishness is greater than his… we do not keep our focus and what should be laughable becomes lamentable.

In the end, I would ask that you pray for this individual (or these individuals). You never know how God will use something like this in the other person’s life. Perhaps the individual will use the money to buy Christmas gifts for his children or “other.” Apart from a seared conscience, this will serve as a testimony of guilt and conviction to the individual. I could think of a number of other possibilities of how this could be used, but the point is, we never know how God will use things. I would truly rejoice if somehow God used this to bring someone unto himself. If God wills, I look forward to laughing at Satan and his tactics, with this thief in heaven (for I too was a thief, a murderer, an adulterer, etc (1 Cor 6:9-11). Certainly last, but please also pray for me that I can continue to laugh instead of lament (in all of life). Pray that I would remain strong in the Lord and not be deceived, for I realize all too well that am not above becoming angry, or embittered, or losing focus. I am a frail human being and I know it. Finally, please pray that the Lord would continue to be SO good to me!!! --1 Cor 10:12, Heb 3

Hey guys, just a quick update… the Lord is good, I was at least able to find replacement controls for the ac / heat. Of course the cage that the controls are supposed to attach to is not there… so now I am picturing myself on some hypothetical future date with an as yet unknown lady where the controls fall on the floor and hit her foot and I have to say, “I am so sorry that happened… if you will hand the controls to me, I’ll turn the heat back on” :) Yeah, my car is officially “ghetto-fabulous.”

Dec 22, 2007

A Moment of Sobriety

Don't fear, the next post in the series is coming soon

Anyone who knows me also knows that I spend a lot of time meditating and reflecting on all sorts of things, including who and where I am in relation to the Lord. I do this mostly because of the way Christ has created and wired me, thus I cannot take much credit. Yet it is also because of my past and the clear realization that we are all self-deceived. I believe that much of the maturation process is a matter of self-reflection before Christ. This is precisely why I am always talking about transparency, honesty, and vulnerability. This is also why Kierkegaard resonates with me (though I don’t agree with everything he says).

Anyway, I am writing after yet another instance where I have discovered self-deception. Take heed, watch therefore, be on the alert, take diligent heed, watch yourself, watch the gates, watch out, watch is mentioned 58 times in the updated NASB,… these are just a few examples in the scriptures of where we are told to be vigilant and watch over our souls. Over and over and over, the scriptures command us (yes, command) that we be watchful. We are to watch ourselves in every aspect at every level of who we are. Thus, we are to watch our life, our doctrine, our growth, our attitudes, our perceptions, our thought processes, the very intents of our hearts, and the list could go on. This takes much discipline and deliberate effort, just as a business cannot operate well if the steward is not keeping track of everything. One little thing neglected, and it can affect all of the others. My mind goes to the story (or secular parable), “For want of a nail the kingdom was lost.” This type of careful watch can be quite overwhelming sometimes and it seems so many never undertake the endeavor. Even with the fact that I am naturally wired to do this (thanks be to God), I must admit that I am all too often lulled into a state of complacency and coasting. Cruise control has no place in the life of a believer, yet too often I fall asleep at the wheel.

The Lord has been very good to me lately (as always), bringing me so near to him after a long time of disobedience and self-will. There are a number of things that I know I must watch on a regular basis. Due to my sinful nature and sinful propensities for using God’s gifts for my own glory, I tend to think too much of myself, when, if I understood the truth, I would be so crushed by my own sin, I wouldn’t be able to lift my head (Luke 18:9-14). A few years back the Lord dealt with me in a pretty major way where it concerns this sin, and I am so thankful to the many that allowed Him to use them. Yet, God does not zap us into perfection. He may work in a way that deals with a sin very powerfully and a major adjustment may be made. Yet, if we are not careful and watchful, it will return very, very slowly and overtake us in a moment (just as I look out one moment and it is night, yet the next it is morning). The way to bring down a castle is not to attack its strength, head-on. But instead, to attack its foundations, slowly undermining its walls or to sneak in through some unguarded way. In the martial arts, the way to defeat an opponent is not to go straight in at his strength, but to find his weakness and exploit it. If we intend to avoid falling in a major way, we MUST watch the little things (catch the little foxes).

In several ways here lately I have noticed a critical attitude, an arrogant moment here or there, a slight shift in perception. It is a scary thing to me as I know self-deception. By nature of realizing that the problem has returned, I must assume it is once again deeper than I realize. A lone soldier may once in a while walk up to a castle, but rarely. Usually, it is a scout, sending word to the ranks hidden beyond the tree line that they should either attack, or hold yet a little while. So, with this realization, I must not only kill the scout, but I must also find the encamped army and with the Spirit, slay them all with my eye showing them no pity.

Ok, so why am I sharing this? Well, for three reasons. First, and most importantly to me, is to seek forgiveness for any that I have offended. I have asked this many times in my life and I know that I will ask many more times. Yet, it is just as sincere now as it has ever been (and I pray that it always will be). Simply put, I have been so overwhelmed and overloaded in the last few months that I simply have not been myself (in Christ). Also, I hope that I am catching this early enough that it has not become noticeable or offensive to any aside from myself, but don’t want to take any chances. I take friendship very seriously and love my friends more deeply than I could ever express. I know that I do not always demonstrate the depth of my love because, quite frankly, I don’t know how to. Encouragement is usually appreciated, but it seems many times deep love is misunderstood (even if in Christ). We don’t know what to do with it, or if we can even trust it when it is given. We want others close, yet not too close. For example, I might give an encouragement to a sister or brother and tear up, only to realize it has been misunderstood. Thus, for ourselves and for others, we restrain ourselves… or at least I try. This is truly sad and surely the affects of sin. Anyway, I am getting into another post at this point. I say these things because I want to illustrate that I am not merely bothered when a friend is offended, but deeply grieved. It is hard enough when I have to stand for the Gospel, which I am more than willing to do. But it can feel unbearable when it is my own sin that causes trouble. The second reason is to thank those that are in my life, acting as watchmen on the wall of my castle. Though I can try to patrol my own walls, I need my watchmen to be on the alert, telling me when I have dropped my guard. Thus, I sincerely thank those that have warned me and beg for continued, brutal honesty. We are in a war folks, when it comes to our defenses there is no room or time for flattery, only the blast of a trumpet. We are not islands… we need each other!!! The third reason is to urge anyone who reads this to watchfulness. I share my heart in the hopes that Christ will, through His Spirit, remind you of the need for vigilance so that it may be well with you. Thus, I could try to write and encourage and exhort you, but I think instead, I will leave you with a few scriptures as there is no greater authority and, thus, no better teacher.

Let the Word of the Lord pierce our hearts!!!

Deuteronomy 6:10-12 10 "Then it shall come about when the LORD your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you shall eat and be satisfied, 12 then watch yourself, lest you forget the LORD who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. – NASB Updated

Deuteronomy 8:1-20 Deuteronomy 8:1 "All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your forefathers. 2 "And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 "And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. 4 "Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 "Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. 6 "Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. 7 "For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9 a land where you shall eat food without scarcity, in which you shall not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 "When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you. 11 "Beware lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; 12 lest, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, 14 then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 15 "He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. 16 "In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. 17 "Otherwise, you may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.' 18 "But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 "And it shall come about if you ever forget the LORD your God, and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you shall surely perish. 20 "Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the LORD your God. – NASB Updated

Proverbs 4:25-27 25 Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. 26 Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established. 27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil. – NASB Updated

Luke 11:34-36 34 "The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 "Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. 36 "If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays." – NASB Updated

1 Timothy 4:16 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. – NASB Updated

Dec 10, 2007

Brothers and Sisters are We (?/!) – Part Two: Tickle Me Elmo Goes Berserk!


Well, I must sincerely apologize for taking so long in getting the rest of the series underway (hopefully I haven’t lost your interest with such a delay… but then again, if I had, you wouldn’t be reading this :). The end of the semester was quite busy and I have had lots of other “loose ends” to tie up. This next week will be a j-term… so sort of squished in-between right now. I was finally able to work out an organizational scheme that I am (somewhat) comfortable with. As of now, there will be a total of seven “parts,” the last of which is a requested topic. This particular post (part 2) is THE section that has given me the most trouble in trying to organize (and finally get typed) and is also a large chunk of the series. With that said, I am breaking Part 2 into two different posts so that it less overwhelming to the reader. So, the first half of Part 2, will address an overview of the particular issues and the male approaches. The second half will address the female reactions and a section on the reciprocation between the two sex’s actions and reactions. Please continue to pray for me as I seek to honor Christ in my thoughts and writings.

Previously in the Series:

*Preliminary: A Confession From the Heart
*Brothers and Sisters are We (?/!) – Part One: Intro and Background

Overview of the Issues

Ok, on to the issues… I would guess that the majority of the single men and women on campus are in their mid to late 20’s and marriage minded. Most are not satisfied being “a single person,” yet they are trying to trust in Christ and be content until they are able to meet someone. Sounds good right? I mean, you have young people, they are marriage minded, and they are trying to be content in Christ until then. So what’s the problem? Well, the simple answer is sin… but let’s take it a little further than that (otherwise this would be a very short post, and we can’t have that :). The most glaring issue is that, in terms of the Seminary, there are WAY more men than ladies. I don’t know the ratios or the specific numbers, but I don’t think that anyone could walk around the campus and believe there to be anywhere near an equal balance (again, in terms of the Seminary). This is an unnatural situation, an unnatural balance, a bubble in the middle of society.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of guys and relatively few ladies. I hate to put it in these terms, but it is simply a matter of supply and demand. There are too many guys after too few girls. This is a fact and should not be overlooked. Now, there is question as to whether or not a guy or girl should look at the seminary as the only (or even primary) place to look for someone. I think that it should not be the only place, but that will be addressed more in part four of this series. Also, the greater issue is that of sanctification in how we treat each other, aside from the question of dating and marriage. For now, let’s just say that though it is not the only place, it is the most “natural” place, since we are already here, and are somewhat like-minded. So, for the sake of argument, let’s say that within the confines of the seminary 2/3 of the single student population is male, leaving 1/3 of the single population female (why not arbitrary numbers, 98% of all statistics are made up anyway :). That means that 1/3 of the population has zero chance of finding a mate (b/c we do indeed believe in one man, one woman, for life). Well… if I were in that 2/3 population (hey look, I am), I’d be feeling pretty nervous about my chances, at least statistically.

Even beyond these simple statistics, there are other factors that further narrow “the field.” As Christians, we are to marry other Christians. As Christians who are called into ministry, it is a matter of wisdom to seek someone who is also called into ministry (this is probably the reason some tend to think only within the walls of the seminary). Other factors such as level of maturity, missions vs. stateside, and so on make the “playing field” even smaller. These are not absolutes, but should not be overlooked. Also, for Christians, marriage is for life, as mentioned above, which naturally makes people more cautious… it’s kind of a big decision. And I haven’t even mentioned basic personality and compatibility issues yet. Can you feel the field shrinking? From the ladies perspective, it may look pretty good… at least statistically, but we’ll address that a little bit later. From the guys’ perspective, after the qualifiers mentioned above, the already narrow field seems even narrower. This is the perfect breeding ground for desperation, which brings all sorts of problems. Now, before I continue, no, I am not saying all the guys here are desperate. I am simply saying that things are set up for it.

Ok, to get back to the supply and demand analogy, when the supply is limited and the demand is high, two basic things happen. First, competition among the buyers increases dramatically. Second, the sellers take advantage and the price also increases dramatically. Herein we have the two basic problems of the seminary dynamic. Everything else simply flows out of these two basic points in either a sinful or a sanctified manner. Now, yes, we have Christ and the Holy Spirit to help and lead us, but too often we try to do things on our own and too much from our own perspective.

So, what happens when competition is high? People act crazy. Anyone remember the Tickle Me Elmo craziness? Sometimes, the same mentality enters here. The one perception mentioned before was that it can sometimes feel as if 3000 guys are after two girls. That is an obvious exaggeration, but points to the fact that it can feel that hopeless. Thus, when a guy finds someone he is interested in, he feels he must move quickly because she is bound to be taken soon if he doesn’t. Thus, guys rush forward in panic mode trying to beat “the rush.” Not all guys do this, many wait and try to be more cautious, but some do not. This desperation, again, not all guys, causes a lot of other really odd behaviors. Another thing to consider is that many of us have not dated a tremendous amount. To use myself as an example, as of now, I have only been on three individual dates in my life, and have never “dated.” Thus, despite the fact that I know how to talk to my sisters in Christ in the general context, I am totally clueless when it comes to the practice of dating. Add to that that every girl is different and has her own “proper method” and confusion abounds. It can sometimes seem that girls expect a guy to know exactly what to do and if he steps out of line from what she is expecting… he’s gone. Now, again, I realize not all do this, but it can seem that way. So, to some degree, you have guys that are in “Tickle Me Elmo” mode, who also don’t know the proper “currency” because they have never shopped before. This can be both sad and funny and causes many very misguided approaches.

Below I will address a few of the misguided approaches because I think that they contribute to the weirdness at a primary level. I can’t answer the chicken or the egg, so I can’t tell you beyond a doubt what happened first. However, for the sake of this post, we’ll say it starts with the supply and demand issue, moves to bad methods, then reactions to methods, then reactions to reactions and so on (thus, the whole reciprocal thing I referred to earlier).

Also, one more thought before addressing the particular approaches. Some guys simply don’t understand ladies at all. I mean, none of us truly does, but some guys have had little or no education or experience in how women think and feel. Thus, they sincerely don’t understand why a particular method would be offensive or frightening to a girl. It sounds absurd, but some guys really just don’t know. Then, some guys are just extremely gung-ho for one reason or another and move forward without any concern for her feelings or his own (it could be anything from hormones, to being told that “men just need to step up” – which will be addressed in part four). I call this the “warrior mode.” This should make sense to the men, but may not make sense to the women. Ladies, if you haven’t figured it out by now, men generally have the ability to separate actions from emotions. Most people do to some degree, but with most men it can be turned on and off (dare I use the cliché), like a switch. This is what gives us the boldness and the clear-headed thinking in crisis that typifies male leadership (again, I am not saying that these are hard-fast gender things so that no exceptions exist, but I think they are generally true). Some guys fall into both of the above categories.

Male Approaches and Related Problems

--Warrior Mode

Well, where to begin… there are so many. I guess the best place to start is with the “warrior mode” approach mentioned above. Sometimes a well-meaning guy goes into “warrior mode” and basically just walks right up to a girl, introduces himself, and then asks her out. This is actually the approach of some guys. My primary problem with this approach is that it is very selfish. He is just rushing in, not caring at all about her feelings, focused only on what he wants. Well, guys and girls are wired differently. Girls (generally) think about relationship and security first. Thus, by doing this, the guy is skipping some pretty major steps… like, who are you? Now, I am not a girl (yeah, I know, big newsflash :), so this is all hearsay, but my understanding is that she wants to know who you are. How can you ask her to go out if you don’t know anything about her? You must either have bad motives or simply be basing things on physical appearance. Thus, big surprise, she often says no. Well, from the guy’s perspective, he has been rejected, this is yet another girl that is not interested, and things seem even more hopeless. From the girl’s perspective, this is yet another creep who does not have the right motives and she feels, in some way small or large, violated by the encounter. Some handle it better than others and some don’t seem to mind at all (this actually works with some), but it seems that it is usually at least bothersome. Thus, she is more reluctant the next time a guy comes around. Let the complications begin.

--The Machine Gun

The second approach, and one of the more damaging, is what I call the “machine gun” approach. Now, before addressing this, I have to admit that if we are using “gun” analogies… I am a sniper; I focus on one person, learn about them, and then decide whether or not to proceed. So I REALLY don’t understand this approach. Anyway, the machine gun approach is basically to take the above warrior mode and simply try it with as many girls as a guy finds attractive (or that he meets). They basically say “I’m going to ask out this number of girls today” and, at one level or another, they do so indiscriminately. Some even set quotas! The idea behind this approach is that eventually someone will say yes and at least they will have a shot and “who knows.” I have a friend or two who use this one (or at least have at one point or another). I am not intending to attack them; I just don’t see it as beneficial or honoring to Christ. Instead, I see it as cruel, damaging, and foolish (and I have told them so, though they don’t like my analogy).

--The Stalker

A third approach is where a young lady will check her campus mail and there’s a letter. Hey, someone cared enough to write… that’s good, right? Wrong… it is a letter from Creep (I can’t think of a more appropriate name). Creep writes something to the effect of “I’ve been watching you and you seem like a wonderful, Godly woman, but I’m nervous about meeting you, so if you are not dating anyone, would you meet me at…” can anyone say STALKER!!! I’ve had two close friends receive the same letter (no, I don’t mean the same type, I mean the same actual copied letter!). Personally, I think this guy deserves a sock or blanket party, depending on your persuasion. Now, I admit that this is an aberration, but it does happen (again, two of my personal friends!). I chose this story to introduce the idea of “the stalker.” Now, the stalker is not always quite so obvious, but is still quite harmful. Unfortunately, many of the guys that are stalkers don’t realize it (and if I am one, someone shoot me and put me out of my sisters’ misery).

Ok, now that I have introduced the stalker, what exactly does he look like? Well, if I knew the answer to that one, he wouldn’t be a stalker anymore ;). The stalker is a little bit difficult to define. The most basic or all-encompassing definition is that a stalker is one who uses “backdoor” approaches to girls and / or won’t leave them alone. Thus, the stalker could be anyone from the guy that “watches” or sends creepy mail / email, to the guy that uses false premises, to the guy that has been told a particular girl is not interested, but won’t leave her alone. I don’t want to take too much time on this one as this is already getting long enough (no matter how long they are, I never feel like I’ve been able to say all that I want to). One more note on the stalker though. I realize that every lady responds differently, so I don’t mean to put all of them in the same position, but, in general, when a girl says she is not interested… she means it (and if she doesn’t mean what she says, she has issues that she needs to deal with before the Lord and is not ready for a relationship anyway). I have heard a number of times where a guy is “after” a lady and she is honest with him, which may not be easy, and he just won’t give up, he keeps pressing the issue. Why? Well, perhaps one reason from his perspective is that guys are often taught that girls play “hard to get.” I don’t know how true this is or isn’t, but I know a number of sisters in Christ that mean what they say and “I’m not interested” is not negotiable and is not code for “try harder stupid” as espoused in the movie Hitch. Also, I realize that it may be hard for some ladies to be honest, but that is a matter of sanctification… you cannot and should not play games with people. Another possibility from his perspective is that he just doesn’t really care about her feelings. He is not seeking her, or her betterment, but his own desires. No matter what though, we are to be people of our word… we must let our yes be yes, and our no be no. Further, if a guy is actually interested in her, and not the idea of her, he will desire for her wishes to be honored, not his. This IS self-sacrificial love! Thus, if she says she is not interested, any response other than respecting her decision proves you to be unfit for a relationship. In the end, once again, the ladies are feeling attacked. It’s no wonder it seems like some of them are hiding!

--The Mole: Master of Insecurities

Ok, one more approach to address before switching to the ladies. I call this one the “Mole” or the “Gopher,” because, from the guy’s perspective, it reminds me of the game “Whack a Mole” and causes these guys to act as you would expect mole in that situation to act (some may remember playing this… you can still find it online or in some kid’s gaming places). Before I really begin defining this one, let me say that I believe this is the most common method in existence. I don’t know if it is different outside of Christian circles, but I see it all the time within Christian circles. Further, it is the method that I am the most familiar with because it was my default for many years. In the end it leaves both sides extremely frustrated and feeling quite desolate.

Ok, so what is “the Mole.” Well, this approach is where a guy finds a girl (or girls) that he is interested in and, for reasons that will be discussed below, from time to time pops up out of his hole to “check things out.” Now, usually, the mole is more selective than the approaches mentioned above; but, given the right encouragement, will “pop out” for most anyone that is remotely close to what he is looking for. Ok, so why the mole analogy? It is simple. Like any frightened creature, “the Mole” is constantly concerned with self-preservation; its number one goal is to protect itself, the end. Thus, moles will constantly “peek out” or “pop out” to see who is there and whether or not they are “safe.” In other words, it I take the risk of coming out, will they hit me with a mallet?! Well, ultimately, there is only one way to see if “subject A” is going to hit you… and that is to come out, in plain sight, and wait to get hit! Since coming out of the hole this way is a BIG risk and not statistically conducive to self-preservation, it is NOT worth the risk. Though perhaps not explicitly so, moles think in terms of probabilities… some need a 100% guarantee, some 90, and so on. Each mole has his own “risk-benefit threshold.” Yet, moles want to be in a relationship, they are just scared. So what’s a mole supposed to do?! Quite often, they decide to stick up an ear, or an arm and then quickly withdraw it, in order to see whether a mallet will be used. After a time or two of doing this, watching carefully the whole time, they might stick out two arms and so on and so on… each time quickly withdrawing and waiting for the mallet to strike. After this, if he has not been hit, the mole will slowly come out of the hole, exposing himself for a moment, and then usually run right back in. Eventually, if the mole sees that he can trust “subject A,” he will come out and tentatively approach her.

So, what does this look like in real life? Well it takes any number of forms, but usually rests in overanalyzing. A guy that is doing this may seem to the girl to be very inconsistent. He will act interested (and the girl’s “spidey senses” will go off) and then all of a sudden, he will act very different. One moment he will act and speak as if he is going to ask her out or whatever, and the next, he is totally cold. He might go through a season of calling or emailing or whatever, and then all of a sudden stop (or at least dramatically decrease). He may be around her quite a bit, and then all of a sudden he can’t be found. Though there can be other legit reasons for this type of behavior, my suspicion is that it is usually due to “molehood.” In the case of the mole these behaviors are analogous to the paw, then the arm, then the two arms mentioned above. He is “testing the waters” so to speak to try and figure out if she is interested. If he feels that she is, he might risk a little more. If he feels that she is not, he will withdraw, always fearing the mallet is going to strike. Once he has reached his statistical threshold, he will come out of his hole. Some moles come out and stay out, while some dart right back in only to play this game again. The explanation is that (internally) one moment he is sure there must be interest on her part and the next he is sure there isn’t. He can’t move until he reaches his statistical threshold (and when I say can’t, I mean, he really and truly is “locked” in this mental and emotional hold). Thus, every single action, word, look, and so on, is micro-analyzed in order to determine whether or not she is interested. Also, the “tally” system is variable… in other words, “points” can be credited and debited. So, one time she says “hi” the moment she sees him… he then places “one point” in the mental “she likes me” column. The next time she hesitates… “one point” in the “she can’t stand me” column. Let me provide a short example. They meet one time and she greets him (+1) and as they talk, she avoids eye contact (-1), but seems interested in the conversation (+1). Then, a male friend walks up and she starts talking to him more than the guy (-1). Then she smiles, hits him on the shoulder and says thanks for the convo (+1), and then she leaves with the guy friend (-1). It should be really easy to see how confusing this simple scenario can become to a mole. The mole will then leave, analyzing every little detail trying to come up with an “accurate count,” which still may not reach his threshold. Unfortunately for him, she may have been very interested, but shy, and happened to have a test to study for (or she may have just been trying to be polite)… who knows! That’s just it… there is no good way out of this system until a level of trust has been established. Oh, and by the way ladies… in this case, the movie “Hitch” is probably pretty accurate… most guys love little things like a slap on the arm or whatever (any playful or soft physical touch is a good thing with most guys… melts our little hearts :).

Bottom line, this approach stems from insecurities and trust issues. This can be due to many, many different things. Usually, it is due to insecurities related to acceptance… especially acceptance from females, but it can be from virtually any source. In these cases it could go back to attachment issues with the mother or other females in the past. It could be due to “getting burned” or simply inexperience. It could also be due to physical or emotional abuse (or both) in his history, or even simply being unappreciated and unpopular in school. Oh, and I say “simply,” but I do not mean to downplay that… that WAS me until sometime in high school. Anyway, the point is that it is a trust issue. Ultimately one that can only be resolved in Christ, where the guy sees himself as intrinsically valuable because Christ has declared him so, purchased him with His own blood, and indwelled him with the Spirit! Again, this is easy to say, but an entirely different thing to fully realize in our heart.

Even still, no matter how we are wired, it is not easy to hand someone a knife and expose your neck, so to speak. It is very difficult for some guys (and to some degree all) to separate “I’m not interested in you” from “you are not worthy.” Thus, she may be saying she is not interested in tall guys with dark hair, but he hears that he is unworthy, as if sub-human. Now, this is wrong thinking, but pride and ego twist things so that they appear as they are not (especially in the case of moles who have “value” issues anyway). I say it is wrong thinking for three reasons. First, because our value is in Christ and in Him alone! Second, because if that is what she is actually saying, then she has just proven herself to be the subject of her own statement and therefore unworthy of him. Third, and most importantly, we ought to thank Christ when this happens because even though it stinks from our perspective, it proves He is working in our lives. The fact that we all tend to forget, especially in relationships, is that Christ is in absolute control of our lives and if one girl says “no,” then that “no” is actually from God. He is saving you from what would be worse than the best plan, which He has already laid out and set in motion before the foundations of the world were laid!!! Now, I realize that this is comparatively easy to say and, in truth, harder to actually grasp. Nevertheless, it IS true!

Now that I have at least partially explained this approach, let me say that is it simply riddled with problems… way too many for me to deal with in any detail (those that know me are gasping in shock!). Nevertheless, let me address a few of the biggest ones. First, no one knows the intents of another person’s heart. In fact, individuals don’t even completely understand their own heart (Jer 17.9), so what hope do you have of indirectly figuring out another person’s heart?! Second, it is not the simple honesty that the Bible teaches us we are to have (Matt 5.37, among others). We are to be upfront, honest, and transparent. Transparency folks, that’s where it’s at! Unfortunately, all too often we are either ignorant of ourselves and thus cannot show ourselves, or we are ashamed of ourselves and therefore hide ourselves. Kierkegaard addresses this issue in-depth in his book, "The Sickness Unto Death.” Though I don’t agree with everything he says, on page 30, he says "…for the self is healthy and free from despair only when, precisely by having despaired, it rests transparently in God". Folks, we must see who we are in Christ, in order to be able to be genuine and transparent, first before Him, and then before others! Anything else is standing in our own strength… no wonder we hide in holes! Ok, finally, the biggest problem with this approach is that it forces the lady to truly be exposed first, something she is not supposed to have to do! Even though the exposure may be very brief and light, the fact is that the man, the supposed leader, is forcing the lady to “tip her hand” before he is willing to show his. He is indirectly forcing her, in one manner or another, to say “yes I am interested in you” before he admits his interest. I do not think there is anything inherently wrong with her choosing to do this, but I think there is something VERY wrong with her having to. Now, I realize that I disagree, in this case, with the “powers that be” on this campus. This will be treated more in depth in part 4 of the series and in part 7 of the series, the requested topic. Whatever the case, in all sincerity, I believe this section on the mole is precisely why “the powers” react the way they do and say some of the things they do, concerning singles and especially single men. Limited to this context, I agree with them that the men need to step up. However, this is a heart issue and must be addressed as such! (again, more discussion in part 4).

Allow me just another moment to explain why I have gone so in-depth with the mole. Well, first, because there are SO many moles around us. Until about a year ago, I was one. Further, I have had TONS of conversations with guys who are. The saddest thing is that most moles don’t understand themselves in this respect. They rationalize and excuse and so on thinking this is normal and ok. In fact, I would venture to say that most moles are so convinced that this is normal, they don’t even realize they are moles. Most abused children don’t realize they are abused until someone tells them or they see that it is not normal, because to them, this is the only paradigm of life they know. My second reason is to get the guys who read this to reflect upon themselves and see where they are. Hopefully, they are just honest, upfront, and secure in Christ as that is the only way to be. However, many guys are not there. Guys, PLEASE look inward and figure out where you are and then stand before Christ asking for His help. You MUST realize that this is a “damaged” area from sin and needs to be healed, especially if you are headed into ministry. I would encourage you, if you find yourself in this position, to seek out a good counselor to help you see where your thinking has gone wrong. A good counselor should be able to help you sort through and figure out where the insecurities are coming from. From there, they can help you to realign your thinking, appropriately centered on Christ. The third reason for going so in-depth is to try, as best I can, to help the ladies understand that men are not the cold rocks they sometimes come off as. They have fears, emotions, and damaged emotions. I guess what I am trying to say is to pray for your brothers and if you see a mole, be as kind and understanding as you can be. Recognize that he is in need of healing and is not trying to frustrate you. Mostly, I am just trying to help you understand these behaviors. I have spent much time speaking to my female friends about this tendency in some guys and am saddened by how much frustration it causes them. Thus, back to the guys… you must heal so that you can properly lead!

The bottom line, the approaches mentioned above are not honoring to Christ, do not show love for our sisters in Christ, demonstrate a lack of faith in Christ, and, in my opinion, are sinful. Guys, we are called to lead, love, and care for the women in our lives, not freak them out and treat them as objects. I thank God for the many brothers that I know who show boundless love and concern for our sisters. Further, I am not claiming to be completely innocent, I am sure I have hurt some sisters along the way and it grieves me. To any I have hurt, please accept my apology and understand that it was not intentional.

Dec 1, 2007

A Random Aside

Ha ha… just more of my antics. I have been casually playing racquetball for about a year and a half now. By casual, I mean that I don’t really pay too much attention to scoring or the particular rules, I just enjoy hitting and chasing the ball and seeing what martial art antics I can fit into the game. Thus, I am sure it is really “entertaining” to watch. Anyway, during the time that I’ve played, I stopped using a few balls because they didn’t seem to work so well any more. However, I have not had one split until the other day. I don’t know if this is normal or not, probably just from being worn out, but I hit the ball pretty hard, it split / broke, thudded against the wall, bounced twice… and died on the floor.

It probably doesn’t sound so by the way I am describing it, but I thought it was quite comical at the time. Usually it will come flying back toward me or at some crazy angle, but noooo… it just thudded in a grand, anticlimactic, I’m too old for this kind of way.

Well, what do you do with a broken / split racquetball? I guess most would throw it out… and I will… but for now, I just have to have some fun with it. I “discovered” that if you squeeze the sides, the split opens and closes like a little mouth (or change purse). So, I decided to draw a smiley face on it and surprise my friend Ben when he came over. Ben being Ben… went into monologue with it! Ben thinks it looks like Charlie Brown with a goatee. For some reason it reminds me of the Looney Tunes cartoons where Lenny says, “I shall love him and hold him and pet him and squeeze him and call him George,” so, I shall call him George ;)

One day George will have to go away, but for now, he makes me laugh (and yes, I admit that I am odd ;)

PS - No, I have not given up on the series, I will be working on that later, but just wanted to take an aside for a moment :)

George, in somewhat decent health

George, being squeezed