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7 Mistakes Single Guys Make That Will Keep You Single

Often when I talk to guys about dating and marriage I hear a lot about what they are looking for in a woman. They have a whole list of demands that are non-negotiable. Normally, if you add the list up the women they’re describing sounds a lot like them. I barely ever hear a guy talk about how he can become a better man for his future and unknown wife. The problem is, if you are just focused on pleasing yourself, you are going to end up by yourself.th

So to help my fellow man, I’ve compiled a short list to help you begin working to become the man of every woman’s dreams—or at least not a man of every woman’s nightmares. I’ve made many mistakes on my way to getting married. I’ve also gotten to see a lot of other guys make mistakes during their bachelor years. This list comes from many of those experiences.

Now, when I refer to “single guys,” I’m not talking about being without a girlfriend, although many of these things can contribute to that too. I’m talking about single as in what you have to put on your taxes. Unmarried.

Keep in mind that just because you stop making these mistakes does not mean a wife will appear on your doorstep. But your odds of husbandhood will increase dramatically.

**Results may vary according to personality and God’s will.**

1. You don’t clean anything.

Of all my mistakes made in my single years, I may be most ashamed of this. My room in college was so bad that literally you could not see the carpet. My belongings and clothes didn’t just cover the floor, it was in layers—like stratified geologic timeline, layers. The deeper I dug, the farther in the past I could travel, finding things that were months old just lying there. Instead of stepping on my stuff—you never know what your foot may crunch on—I perfected the eight-foot jump from my door to my bed. (Which of course was not on a bed frame or box-spring. Just on the floor.)

When Rebecca and I were dating, she one time saw my bathroom and started crying. Wish I was joking.

If you don’t know how to take care of your space, it reflects on you. That doesn’t mean you need to be OCD and vacuum every speck of dust as it appears. But you should have a general cleanliness that proves you live in a developed country with electricity.

Hot tip: Cleanliness will automatically set you apart from the pack because so many men neglect it.

Laundry is good too.

2. You don’t clean yourself.

Learn how to keep yourself well-groomed. This means you take showers and actually use the soap and shampoo. Don’t forget to put deodorant on.

And shave. The patchy mustache may be fun for your guy friends but according to an informal poll I took of four women I randomly asked, they do not share your sentiments. Most women don’t think it’s as funny as you do.

Also the hair. Unless you know the girl you are into likes long hair, keep it shorter and nice. You don’t need to have some sort of fancy hipster Prohibition-era cut, but you should look like you have a job and a home. Which brings me to my next point.

3. You don’t have a job and are not working towards one.

Some may take issue with this but I think it’s important. Guys, we were created to work. To get callouses on our hands. To get dirt under our fingernails. To sweat. To create. To cultivate. To provide.

If you don’t have money for a date, you shouldn’t try to go on them. And you definitely shouldn’t try to make her pay for one.

If you don’t have a job but are pursuing one, that’s better than being static on the couch while your mom cooks up your Hot Pockets for you. Of course there are exceptions because of circumstances, but most likely you don’t qualify for such an exception.

4. You spend more time with pixels than people.

This includes video games, TV, movies, iPhone, iPad, social media, Candy Crush, or whatever. You eventually need to go outside. Learn to interact with flesh and blood. Learn to have real life conversations where you talk about more than just the latest Halo game or fantasy football league.

Learn to feel what other people feel. It’s called relationships and community. Just like we were created to work, we were created to know and be known. Your shoot-em-up buddies on Xbox Live from Sweden do not count.

If you don’t know how to interact with people, than you will not know how to treat a woman.

5. You are addicted to pornography

On a more serious note.

She may not know about your addiction, but I don’t care. You are not fit to date any daughter of God until you get this under control, let alone marry them.

This is not an unfair standard.

Much porn is linked to prostitution (Normally under-aged prostitution). If you are viewing pornography, even on “free” websites, you are feeding a monstrous system that preys on young and vulnerable women who have no power. At the very least, you are perpetuating a culture that objectifies women and treats them as objects to be used instead of women made in the image of God, whom Jesus loves and died for. Those women are daughters, sisters, and even mothers.

If you think it’s not as big of a deal as it is, read my series for the Ekklesia blog on pornography. It’s a big deal.

Get help and kill your sin.

Women: Don’t lower your standards. You deserve better.

6. You don’t know how to lead.

Specifically, I’m talking about leading spiritually. You should know how to point everyone around you to Christ—especially a woman you’re dating.

You know you’re ready to lead spiritually when you’re able to lead yourself spiritually. This means, you’re disciplined in your relationship with Christ. You know how to study the Bible. You’re a part of a vibrant church that preaches the Gospel and upholds Scripture. You seek the Lord in prayer. You serve your church and give to your church. And so many more things.

Ultimately, it’s not about going through a checklist of things and magically becoming ready to lead. It’s about your heart (Matthew 6:21). Is Christ the greatest treasure of your life? If not, then you need to work on that first.

If something else is the greatest treasure of your life, you don’t know how to lead yourself spiritually, let alone a woman. If you’re not leading, then very easily your sin will lead. If your sin is leading, then you may drag one of God’s daughters down with you. If your relationship is not about Jesus or honoring Him, then you’re not loving her like she deserves to be loved.

7. You don’t pursue women.

Assuming you’ve worked on the previous six problems, if you want to marry a woman, you must first talk to one—actually get to know one.

Don’t sit around and wait for her to come to you. She may never walk up to you because your silence is telling her that you’re not interested. You know what’s going to happen? Some other guy is going to come in and make her feel like a million dollars. Guess which guy she’ll be getting coffee with the next day?

But don’t overcompensate and be a player—or obnoxious. Making multiple women at the same time think you are interested in them is not pursuing a woman. That’s toying with their emotions. You’re using them.

To pursue a woman you have to get to know her. Ask her questions. What are her dreams, hopes, fears, desires, hurts? You should talk less about yourself and more about her.

If you’re growing in these things, pursuing Christ, and you see a woman you’re interested in, calm down. Take a deep breath. Put yourself out there. But this is important to know: If she says no or doesn’t seem to show interest, it means no, so don’t keep bugging her (It’s cute in the movies but creepy in real life). If she says yes, get to know her and see what adventures happen next.

I’m sure I could’ve added more, but seven felt like a good number. If you have more suggestions, I would love to hear them in the comment section!

What I’ve Learned as a New Parent So Far

Real Men Change DiapersIt’s been eight weeks from yesterday since I became a new parent.

While Rebecca was pregnant with Madeline, the number one thing, by far, other parents told me was, “everything is going to change” (Even total strangers would say this to me, no joke). At the time, I had no idea why they felt this was profound wisdom. I knew things would change—it’s simple math that two is different than three—but I had no idea to what degree that change would be.

Right away when Madeline was born, it hit me: There’s no return receipt. She’s here in your arms. You’ve taken out a lease on a human for the next eighteen years. Hope you’re ready, Dad, because it’s happening anyways.

That sounds kind of scary (It was and sometimes still is) but I would never change it for the world. Now, almost two months into this game of parenthood, I’ve realized that the changes never stop and neither do the lessons. I by no means am an expert at parenting—not even close—but I’m learning tons of things through taking care of this little bundle of joy and diapers.

Here’s just a snapshot, in no particular order.

The Love of a Parent Is Different
That’s really the best way I can put it. Different.

It’s not the same kind of love I have for my wife. The love Rebecca and I have in our marriage is work (more on that later), and it was cultivated over a long period of time. I showed up at her house one evening and kept bugging her for two years until she married me. We have ups and we have downs. It’s beautiful and it’s terrifying. Our relationship has to be continually nurtured. If we were to completely ignore each other, our love would grow cold and stale. It’s hard but it’s amazing. That’s marriage.

But the love I have for Madeline is completely different. The second she arrived on this earth, I loved her. I was tired, she was slimy and screaming, but I loved her. We don’t really have a relationship yet because she doesn’t know English. She hasn’t contributed anything to our family except human waste. She hasn’t done anything to earn my love. But I love her. I delight in her. I could stare at her for hours while she just kicks her feet. I want to protect her and give her everything she needs. She doesn’t need to give me anything.

I imagine that’s similar to how the Father loves us. We are poop-covered, crying babies, and God looks at us with loving eyes—delighting in us. That’s grace.

It’s Easy to Neglect Your Marriage When a Parent
I’d heard this one before and seen it happen to other couples, but it was another thing to experience it.

Before Madeline was born, it was fairly simple to find quality time with my wife. It was only the two of us at home and so it would just organically and spontaneously happen. But with the baby here, we’ve been on a continuous three hour loop: feed the baby, change the baby’s diaper, play with the baby, put the baby to sleep, take a deep breath, rinse and repeat. It’s like the movie Groundhog Day but you get older and more sleepy.

On top of that cycle, I have full-time work at Ekklesia and my wife is also trying to take care of the apartment. Oh yes, and we have to do these things called eating and sleeping. Add all of that up and what you get is two really tired spouses who love watching TV and sitting on the couch.

It took us about seven and a half weeks to realize that wasn’t working very well. One day we actually talked (What a novel concept!) and it felt like being with an old friend who had just returned from a long trip. We’d spent hours upon hours together and yet it felt like we hadn’t seen each other for weeks.

It’s easy to fall into the routine of just coexisting in marriage. Kids can easily dominate your relationship and dictate everything. I don’t want to send Madeline off to college and then return home, look at my wife and say, “Who are you?”

Pray Continuously
As I’ve shared earlier, I’m prone to worry and control-freaking. Having a newborn is just one more chance for me to spaz out.

I have to continuously pray because it reminds me that although I am not in control, God is. He loves Madeline far more than I ever could. He has a plan for her far better than I could ever create.

Prayer allows me to place Madeline into God’s hands and feel okay about it. It’s actually a freeing thing to know you are not in control.

Prayer also reminds me Who this is all for. I am not a parent in order to fix my deep identity issues or validate myself as a man. I am a parent to glorify God, exemplify the love of the Father, and point Madeline to the Gospel.

These are lessons I am still learning and will continually learn. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

The Great Love Hoax

A famous philosopher once said, “What is love?…Baby, don’t hurt me….don’t hurt me. No more.”

I think he was asking one of the greatest questions that is on our hearts.

We want to love and we want to be loved but do we really know what that means? Can you chart that out for me or give a precise definition? Have we even thought it through?

The world has its own ideas of love and portrays them through the media. For the most part, I think we give profess that Hollywood’s display of love is not all that accurate but as I talk to more and more Christians, I am finding that their definitions of love are more in line with the movies than the Bible.

Is this a problem? Yes. Since the two greatest commandments (Love God with everything and love your neighbor as yourself; Matthew 22:36-40) are wrapped up in love, then we ought to be certain we are loving rightly.

Here are the three most common misconceptions of love among Christians and Hollywood:

1.  Love is intense feelings and overwhelming emotion. 

Yes, there are certain feelings that can go along with loving someone but love is so much more than emotion.

If love is all about the positive emotions we feel toward someone (whether a friend, girlfriend, or spouse) then what happens when those emotions are there no longer? Or if we are married, what happens if you begin to feel attracted to someone other than your spouse? Does that mean you have fallen out of love with your spouse?

If love is emotion, then when the emotions change (they always do), you no longer love that person. You can say you don’t agree with me, but it is fairly sound logic (I love you anyways).

Instead, the Bible says that love is a choice and love is action. At the risk of sounding excruciatingly cliche, love is a verb.

The greatest example is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son.” It does not say, for God so loved the world that he felt butterflies in His stomach, gained a skip in His step, and doodled your name in His journal. It says He gave. He acted.

True love is not stationary and passive. True love does something. If you look at Paul’s vivid explanation of love in 1 Corinthians 13, you will notice that it is all made up of verbs. If you were to look at the original Greek of the passage you would see even more clearly that these are active and continual verbs. There is a striving, a bearing under, a fighting for the one you love.

If love is all about positive emotions, we would never be able to obey the commandment to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Instead, we should choose to love and act on that love whether we feel like it or not. If we do that, the feelings will follow. But if a bad happens and those good feelings leave again, our choice to love still remains.

2.  Love is about acceptance. 

Yes, we accept others unconditionally and love unconditionally, but most people think of acceptance as approval. As in, if you truly loved me you would approve of and support all my choices.

They say, true love doesn’t judge. It shouldn’t confront someone or correct them. You should love them enough to stay out of their business and let them make their own decisions.

Instead, the Bible shows that true love is willing to strongly rebuke—because true love seeks the highest good. Yes, we do not dictate people’s lives but when we see someone living their life contrary to the Bible, we should love them enough to steer them the other way. We should love enough to tell them, you are heading in the wrong direction and it is going to hurt you.

Proverbs says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (27:6). The person who loves you enough to risk their happiness and awkward-free relationship with you by telling you that you are acting like an idiot, is your friend. The one who always tells you what you want to hear is who you really need to worry about.

3.  Love is all about happiness.

Once again, this sees love as all about warm and fuzzy emotions. If I make them happy and they make me happy then we are doing well. Yes, along with love comes a bit of happiness but anyone who has been married for longer than the honeymoon knows that happiness is not eternal when you are with the one you love.

America sees happiness as the highest pursuit. Heck, it is in our Declaration of Independence as one of our three unalienable rights as humans. In everything we do and with everyone we love, we are seeking after happiness.

The problem is that getting married is not going to make you happy. Having friends will not make you happy. We may gain happiness for a little while or at least what we think is happiness, but we know there is something more.

The Bible shows that true love is not about happiness but holiness, and in holiness we can find our fullest of joys. True love always seeks the highest good and it does not settle for anything less. True love understands that happiness is not the highest good, but holiness.

Christians always quote Romans 8:28 as a banner verse over their lives, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for the good of those who have been called according to His purpose.” The problem is that we think we know what that good is: our happiness.

We are wrong.

Look at the next verse for what God says our highest good is: “to be conformed to the image of His Son.” That we would be like Christ. That we would be holy. In John 14, Jesus connects His love for us and our obedience to Him (9-10). This sort of holiness is so “that your joy may be full” (11). Following Christ brings true satisfaction, true abiding joy that will not fade.

Quick side note. True love cleanses, while sinful lust defiles (Ephesians 5:25-27).  If you are dating someone who wants to compromise you sexually in any way, they do not love you. They want what pleasure you can give them to make themselves happy. They have no regard for the guilt and shame that they will be bringing you for a quick moment of pleasure. They are not seeking your holiness, just your body.

Praise God that He loves us enough to cleanse us when we dirty ourselves up. He loves us enough to make us holy.

So, the most loving thing I can do for my wife is not cater to every whim of hers so she would be happy with me, but to point her to Christ, the only one who can make her holy and bring her fullness of joy.

Photo credit: “Romantic Heart form Love Seeds” by epSos.de through CC 3.0

I Don’t Want To Be Alone: God’s Solution

Having only been married for a year and a half, I do not claim to be an expert on marriage.

Far from it. Ask my wife.

Much has been said about marriage—its makeup, its role, and significance. Many books in the Christian realm have recently been written on this subject.  And marriage is even one of the hot button topics of society in America. Traditional roles in marriage are seen as archaic. Young adults are waiting longer to get married than ever before in our nation’s history showing that marriage is not necessarily a valued step into adulthood as it once was for our society.

But what does the Bible have to say about marriage?  As Christians our worldview cannot be conformed by society’s mold (Romans 12:1-2), instead we ought to live by a different standard.

Genesis 2:18-25 shows God’s standard for marriage—His creation of the first marriage. If one is to learn about biblical marriage, it is necessary to understand the marriage that God forged with His own hands.

This passage comes on the heels of God’s first five and a half days of Creation.  Light and dark, the ocean and the sky, the birds and the fish, the plants and the animals—the entire cosmos was created by the words of the Lord.  Then the Lord decides to create “man in His own image” (1:27).  Different than the rest of Creation, man was not called into existence but he was formed from the dust (2:7).  This man was given dominion over Creation and freedom to part take of the fruits of his labor in the Garden of Eden.

Everything was good except for one thing.  Man was alone (and every single man said, Amen!).

THE PERFECT FIT

Originally, the Lord had stated that His Creation was good—very good, in fact (1:31), but there was one thing that the Lord proclaimed as not good, “that the man should be alone” (2:18).  The Lord’s solution to this dilemma was to create “a helper fit for him” (2:18).  The NIV translates this as a “suitable helper.”  God is not just looking for a quick fix of the man’s companionship problems—a dog could have just fixed that—but He is looking for the perfect fit for the man.

This fit was not found in any of the animals (2:19-20).  The man went through every animal that God had created, naming each one of them.  Although names were found for these animals, a suitable helper was not found for the man.  To understand what the Lord was looking for, one must examine the term “suitable helper.”  This term implies a complementary aspect, such as a “partner” or “counterpart.”

The obvious reality is that an animal would never have made a complementary partner for the man. Pets are fun for a while but the conversation is a little one-sided. Luckily for Adam, God had a better solution in mind.

After being placed into a deep sleep, the man awoke to his perfect partner, a woman.  The Lord had taken “one of his [the man’s] ribs…and the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man He made into a woman and brought her to the man” (2:21-22).  She was the perfect fit because she was handcrafted by the Lord from the man for the man.

ONE FLESH

The narrator of Genesis begins the conclusion of this passage with the saying, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (2:24).  The narrator is not necessarily making a sociological mandate, that men always need to leave their families to join their wives, but the point is that they are to become their own unit—“one flesh.”  This verse shows that what had happened between the man and woman of Genesis 2 was mankind’s first marriage.

The man who was formerly alone—the only part of creation that had been declared “not good”—had found a wife, and they completed each other, forming one perfect, cohesive unit.

The narrator describes the first marriage by ending this passage with the conclusion, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (2:25).  This verse is contrasted, where innocence is lost, shame is found, and nakedness covered.

To be naked and unashamed was to exemplify a relationship with nothing to hide themselves from.  I do not believe that this means they were unaware of their sexuality because their sexuality is tied into fulfilling the divine mandate to “be fruitful and multiply” (1:28) and also their sexuality is the physical manifestation of the two becoming one flesh (2:24).

What this does mean is that their sexuality was not something to be ashamed of because there was no sin within their sexuality because it was within a sinless marriage; it was sexuality being expressed as God intended it to be.

BRIDGING TO TODAY

Why was it not good for the man to be alone?  John Walton states, “When something was ‘good,’ it was functioning as God intended it to function. Thus the statement that ‘it was not good for the man to be alone’ is one of non-functionality.”

Basically men, we need a wife because we cannot function on our own (and all the wives said, Amen!).

Our “non-functionality” goes far beyond cooking only Top Ramen and never doing laundry. Because man was created in the image of God, man was created to be in a relationship, a relationship that could not be fulfilled with a non-image-bearing creature; he needed a partner who was like him and who could complement him and complete him (a suitable helper).

Instead of the man being able to find his partner on his own, the Lord steps in and fashions the God-intended companion for the man, a woman.  This becomes the prototype marriage.  A man, a woman, brought together by God and united together without any sin or shame to hinder them.

What this means for those of us who are married: Continue to tear down the barriers that would keep you from being unashamed with your spouse. This means continually repenting of sin to each other. Continually asking for forgiveness. 

What this means for those of you who are single: Seek Christ. Get plugged into a church. Seek to become the right spouse instead of seeking for one. And men—grow up. 

Do that and you never know, you may not be alone for long!

What We Can Learn About Marriage From the Kardashians

The news is overrun with yet another celebrity divorce, this time concerning reality TV star Kim Kardashian and basketball player Kris Humphries. Sadly, it is never really a shock when a celebrity gets divorced but the extent of Kim and Kris’s marriage was shorter than a college semester—72 days.

While many have resorted to potshots and gossip, I think it is easy to forget that Kim and Kris are people too with real emotions. Divorce is never pretty and clean, no matter how long the marriage was.

Instead of resorting to dancing on the ashes of someone else’s broken marriage, I have two things to keep in mind for those thinking about, considering, dreaming, wishing upon a star for, or desiring marriage.

TAKE TIME
The Song of Solomon (the book of loooooove) says multiple times to “not stir up or awaken love until it pleases” (2:7). The lesson here is to not rush things.

Get to know the person. Ask questions. For goodness sake, go on a date.

So much of our culture is about instant gratification (fast food, fast internet, fast pass at Disneyland) but we cannot treat marriage like a cheeseburger.  When dating, emotions are high and hormones are raging but you have to remind yourself that good things take time.

Being hot is not the only foundation for a relationship.  What are their beliefs? What are their political views? What are their interests and dreams?  What are their future goals and plans?  What are their struggles? Finding out the answers to these questions are extremely important.

According to some gossip sites (take it for what its worth), some of the reasons for the Kardashian divorce were that they could not agree on when to start a family and where to live.  These are issues usually talked about and decided before marriage.

There is no formula or set amount of time to wait—it could be months for some and years for others—but it needs to be long enough for you to know what you are getting into. No major decision should be made without a little bit of research. You do not want to wake up on your honeymoon and realize that you do not know the person lying next to you!

Consider this: when dating everyone is usually on their best behavior. Do you really know them or do you only know the dating version of Mr. Tall Dark And Handsome?

See how they act around other people. If you are a girl, watch how your boyfriend treats his mother; is he gentle with her, encouraging, and a humble servant? If you are a guy, watch how your girlfriend treats her dad; is she respectful?

Understand that you can never fully know someone—there are couples who have been married for fifty years who are still learning about each other—but take the time to know someone enough that you are not blindsided by an awkward hygiene habit or something potentially more damaging to the relationship.

LOVE NOT LUST
It is really easy to confuse the two.

You look across the table at your date and they seem to be glowing. Everything they say sounds like angels playing harps. When your hands touch little jolts of electricity pulse through your fingers. He’s got nice abs. She’s got dreamy eyes. Whenever you think about your future, they are there, holding you in their arms.

This must be love…right?

Our culture has confused love with lust. Lust says, “I need you, I desire you, I’ve gotta gotta have you!” Movies, books, songs, and magazines paint this overwhelming desire as love. While possibly romantic sounding, the root of it is selfishness. That person wants you to make them feel better and in most cases to satisfy their sexual desires.

If your marriage is based off of this view of love, what’s going to happen if the spouse begins to feel some sort of spark with someone else? The inevitable conclusion will be that they have fallen out of love with you and now love someone else. Too many marriages have ended because the “spark was gone.”

The Bible pictures the love between an man and wife differently. Sure the emotions are there and the fireworks but underneath that is a foundation—an action. John 3:16 does not say, “For God so loved the world that He felt fuzzy feelings and saw fireworks whenever you prayed to Him.” Instead it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”

God loved so much that He acted selflessly. It’s a choice to say, “I have your best interest in mind and not my own.” It starts with realizing that the relationship is not about you at all.

This kind of love is based on a choice, not emotions. Emotions run on a roller coaster, up and down and sideways with every new circumstance. If your love is predicated upon the emotions you feel then you are in for a rude awakening when they change—and they will change.

Marital love that the Bible portrays should be unconditional. You can’t earn it and you can’t lose it. It is given freely.

It is eternal. It is not going to end because it is time for something new and interesting.

It is sacrificial. Their needs go before yours. You’re tired from a day’s work and want to watch football but she needs help with the dishes and kids—guess which one love chooses?

This kind of love takes time and it takes a lot of work. I am just a beginner at it…ask my wife. But what is great is that this kind of eternal love fosters a satisfaction and joy that outshines any rush that any new relationship could offer.

Which would you rather?

Further reading:
Mark Driscoll’s article on Dating, Relating, and Fornicating.
The Resurgence explains Why the World is Wrong About Marriage.
Kevin DeYoung tries to explain where all the dudes’ brides are and gives some advice about What Not to Say to a Single Woman.