Popping the Christian Dating Bubble.

Well the unthinkable in my life happened; I started dating someone.  Yes pick yourself up off that chair, brush your dusty knees off, no you’re not dreaming.  It’s true.

 

 

About two months ago I started seeing a wonderful person.  It was kind of sudden, very unexpected but truth be told it’s been a great journey thus far.   Yes, I’m well aware it’s only been two months, but already I have learned a great deal about myself and mindsets I had that I didn’t even know I had.  This post really is for you single people out there.  Especially the Christian ones because I have news for you…you probably have mindsets and disney fairy tale views that you don’t even know you have.  Trust me when I tell you the past few months have been a complete rewiring of everything I thought I knew about romance, ‘healthy’ relationships, and expectations.

Here are a few things i learned.

 

1. You’re dating a human, not a fantasy – “oh Tim” you say, “of course I know that”.  Only you really don’t until you start dating someone and realize that this person can’t read your mind.  That this person doesn’t fit into you’re nice, neat view of that special someone.  Do you know why? Because they are a human being with their own thoughts, desires, habits, attitudes, preferences, and views.  You’re dating another human being, not the person you made up in your head.  Seriously, stop wondering what it’s going to be like because you’ll be pretty much wrong.  I mean you can day dream about being with someone all you want, just understand that you’re mostly wrong about the actual person you’ll be dating because the person you’re thinking of isn’t a person..it’s a daydream.

 

2. No matter how much I knew that hollywood gives a false view of romance I still bought it – I mean can you blame me? We are bombarded with it everywhere.  Yes Yes I know that we Christians think we see through it…..but we don’t. Instead we combine Jesus with Disney and the result is crap like this. We are saturated with culture’s view of love and romance and no matter how much we tell ourselves we don’t buyit but secretly we do. Yes of course I knew that no woman will be my answer in life but it wasn’t until i actually experienced it that I understood it.   You might think that you see through hollywood’s smoke but you’ve still inhaled it.

3. He/She Won’t be your ultimate fulfillment – Understanding that this girl will never fully answer all my questions, never calm every nerve, and never be perfect is at first terrifying and then completely relieving because you realize that you’re not her end all be all either.  My relationship with Jesus is my center, but she is with me on this journey, not my journey.  Of course I couldn’t be more thrilled to be pursuing this person and yes, it’s great to be with her and I love to spend time with her.  But I don’t have to see her every single second of every single day. This person isn’t my answer.  Jesus is and because of that we have healthy space in our relationship.

4. No butterflies does not equal I’m falling out of love – I imagine anyone in a serious relationship or marriage is laughing at me right now.  Truth be told it sounds ridiculous.  But one day when I woke up and didn’t have raging feelings for the person I’m dating I thought to myself “well this must be it, for some reason I don’t like her anymore” which of course is complete poop.  Once again I bought the lie that feelings = relationship. This another great mirage of our culture and especially our media.  From movies alone we are left to assume that to like someone, or to love someone means to have strong, constant, crazy feelings for them 24/7/365.  What a shock it was to me when that didn’t happen. Once again I knew it wasn’t true, but I didn’t understand until I experienced it.

5. Friendship is just as important as the romantic – Another mind blowing revelation that I’ve learned in these past few months.  My friendship with this girl is just as important as the romance.  I’ve had fun just being with her not having to hold her hand every second of every day.  We’ve had moments where we’ve laughed so hard we both started crying, these moments that our often overlooked in our culture’s view of dating have often been the most intimate and important in our relationship.  Sure I take her out , we go on dates, but most of that time is spent as great friends enjoying the company of each other and usually ends up with us laughing till our heads explode…or binging on a few Office episodes.

Look, I don’t claim to be some relationship guru because I’m two months into a relationship after 5 years of being single. That isn’t the point of this post.  The point of this post to wake Christian singles up.  Dating Sarah is so much better than dating the person I made up in my head because Sarah is a real human being made in the image of God and the person I made up was made in the image of me.

 

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-TW

 

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The Christian Hypocrite

 

 

It’s been a while.

 

 

Facebook is a great place for Christians to show off their hypocritical ability. I mean it doesn’t take much effort for me to find the guy who in one breath posts lyrics about grace and love and in the next breath posts how much a certain politician is ruining America, or how the barista messed up his or her drink AGAIN, or how people just really tick them off because they drive slow in the left hand lane (My pet peeve) or how rude customers are to them at work. In fact, the other day I saw a particular person who had one status filled with a couple of F bombs about the way people drive followed by a status with a Bible verse about God’s grace and love.

 

 

We do this while claiming to be an ambassador for the ways of Jesus.

 

Don’t get me wrong, Christians are humans too. Christians will do things that can be at best be described as unwise.  Christians will be hypocrites because deep down everyone is a hypocrite at some point and time in life. Sure we all strive to be consistent, we try to have our actions line up with our words, but they don’t all the time do they? Maybe that’s why Paul wrote these brilliant words in Romans:

 

 

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…”

 

 

Nailed it.

 

 

But (and there’s always a but) what irks me here is that we act like we are ok with being this way. We claim to be a Christian, we claim to affirm the death and resurrection of Jesus and by default we affirm his way of living, but instead of following his way, we follow the culture’s way. We vent to Facebook about dumb people. When someone gives us attitude we give people attitude right back. We don’t put ourselves aside for the sake of others, or give people the benefit of the doubt. We are not quick to forgive, we are quick to hold grudges and you know the kingdom we build when we live opposite of Christ? I’ll give you a hint..it’s not the kingdom of God.

 

 

Listen, if you are a Christian then you’re telling people that you’re following a different path than most people. You’re telling culture that you subscribe to the ways of Jesus whether you recognize that or not.

 

Being a follower of Jesus is not always an easy life to live, but it is a better way to live. Let me also mention here that when I say Christian or follower of Jesus I’m not referring to praying a prayer, going to ‘church’ once a week, reading your Bible every now and then, and trying to vote for those good ol’ Christian ‘conservative’ values.

 

That’s the easy stuff. Anyone can do those things. I’m talking about costly grace here. The kind that you give your life for. I’m talking about loving the people who don’t treat you nice. I’m talking about laying yourself down for the sake of others. I’m talking about taking all of Christ’s words seriously, not just the popular cliché one liners.

 

Let me put it this way; if you believe that Christ is the son of God and that every word in the Bible is God breathed, then please take the words “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” as seriously as you take “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me”.

 

Jesus’s way of living calls us to abandon ourselves for the sake of the Gospel. Will we miss that mark at times? Yes we will. What do we do when that happens? We repent to our gracious Father and we repent to those who we wronged. A Christian apologizing for their fault and for their wrongdoing in a situation speaks volumes more than doing all the right things ever could. Why? Because people know that no one is perfect. People know that we all make mistakes and sometimes frankly, We Christians don’t think that we are ever at fault. We are quick to play the persecution or “hey what about MY RIGHTS card” while forgetting that Jesus tells us that for us to find our life we must first lose it.

 

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-TWImage

 

 

 

 

Way to Drop the Ball, Phil

*Sigh*

That’s what I thought when I first heard about the “controversy” surrounding Phil Robertson. Also, for the sake of length I’m not going to explain what happened. Besides, every news outlet has covered it, you can read part of the interview he gave with GQ magazine almost anywhere.

Anyway, I can’t say I was exactly surprised when Christians all over the place went crazy hearing that Phil got suspended over the comments. I was however pretty disappointed with the way Christians decided to express their view (and outrage) over the suspension. There are a fewdifferent themes interwoven into this situation so I’m going to list them out and address them head on. Hopefully I can shed some light on this issue and why I’m pretty fed up with my own people who claim to follow a God who extends grace to all, but yet only show grace to their own.

1. The Free Speech Issue

Let’s nip this one in the bud fast. A&E suspending Phil is not a free speech infringement.

Viewing this from a strict viewpoint of rights and free speech, any employer should have the right to fire people for the language they use if they deem it inappropriate. We’ve had to let people go at my dad’s company because of the words they used, does this mean we were infringing on free speech? Of course not! People can say almost anything they want without the government infringing. This does not mean that there are no consequences for the words you use. If someone lumps bestiality, homosexuality, and fornication into one sentence then there might be some kickback.

2. The Political Issue

I’m not surprised that of course party lines were drawn when this happened. It’s really a shame that someone’s view is so heavily linked to the assumption of their political leaning. I’m not surprised that conservatives all of the sudden came out in support of Phil’s free speech to say whatever he wants (they are not surprisingly silent on this issue when something is being said that they don’t agree with however), and I’m not surprised that liberals are all of the sudden insisting that someone being fired for their beliefs is not infringing on their free speech. Yet I bet if Phil was a homosexual, expressed his view for equality and got fired for that, there’d be an uproar from the liberal side. It’s frustrating to see that beliefs are not consistent, they are so often just driven by political leanings.

3. The Jesus Issue

This is what matters to me. I don’t care about free speech, political leanings, company profits nearly as much as I care about how Jesus handles himself and how as people who claim to follow Him we are called to be LIKE Him. We are called to be followers of Jesus ONLY.

I’m not approaching this issue from a political viewpoint. I don’t care about the conservative view point or liberal viewpoint nearly as much as I care about the view that Jesus has of people. I don’t care if it’s a double standard, just because someone else isn’t playing fair doesn’t mean that we who claim to follow the God of the universe start cheating too. The rules don’t change simply because other people (who don’t claim what we claim) don’t follow the “rules”. I don’t care how hypocritical, judgmental, or hateful other people are. It does not change who we as followers of Christ are called to be. Just read about the guy called Jesus who died on a cross after being tried unjustly and unfairly (what a double standard right?)

Here’s the bottom line; I don’t care if it’s a double standard, I don’t care if it’s not fair. As followers of Jesus we are called to speak kindly and with love to people. There are ways to express your convictions, to express the heart of God without compromising your beliefs and without marginalizing someone. A great example of that would be Jesus with the woman at the well. He didn’t come out and lump her sin in with bestiality, he didn’t tell her that sin “just ain’t logical” or anything like that. He met her where she was at, offered her FIRST living water and then told her to go and sin no more. Jesus doesn’t avoid sin, he overwhelms it with love and grace and she turns from it and lives forever changed because of Jesus.

I’m tired and exhausted from apparent “christians” who have no problem watching movies that involve premarital sex, who are silent on divorce in the church, who are silent on pornography, who are silent on the ridiculous amount of consumeristic tendencies our culture thrives on, who have no problem listening to music with sexual suggestive themes or watching music videos full of hypersexualization, who have no problem having a little too much to drink every now and then but then have the audacity to make sure we know the “truth”on homosexuality! In their minds they say “we MUST make sure people KNOW that WE believe homosexuality is SIN! is SIN!”

It gets old quick.

People all over the place need redeeming grace that Jesus offers them, we are the vessels with which Jesus shows it.

Why did Phil drop the ball? Because he had a chance to clearly articulate God’s heart for people. Instead He told the interviewer how a woman’s vagina has “more to offer” than a man’s anus (gee, thanks for the heads up bro), and that sin “just ain’t logical”. Way to drop the ball Phil, truly you showed Jesus to a a world desperate for answers.

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-TW

Coffee Church continuation

I want to continue with this thought of the church body meeting in a coffee shop.   There are a few reasons this idea stuck with me when I first thought of it.  The first reason was because a cafe atmosphere is a breeding ground for conversation.  Probably the biggest drawback to our current Sunday morning format is that it just doesn’t allow for much discussion to happen.   I’m not saying that the current church model is not somewhat effective, that people have not been changed,  but what I am saying is that one of the drawbacks to the way we do church is that there is not much room for life to happen.  Most church goers are in a building once a week and during the majority of the time they are sitting and listening, or standing and singing.  yes it’s true we offer small or community groups outside of this, but the majority of the congregation usually does not come out to these things.  Again this is not true for every church, but I believe it’s true for most.

My motivation for this idea (which I really want to do in the future) is because we all agree the church is not a building.  Yet our actions show that we believe that the church is mainly a building.  Most things the church does is in the “church building” and not out in the community.

Imagine walking in to a coffee shop Sunday morning and seeing a group of people discussing the word of God.  Imagine seeing someone teaching others something about the christian faith in a circle sunday morning around a cup of coffee.  Imagine what a person would say seeing this coffee shop that the frequent full of life, of discussion, of community.  For some reason the employees are genuinely interested in the customers because the employees don’t see them as customers, they see them as people.  The church (the people) is a part of the community, they are smack dab in the middle of life where they are encountering people in the community daily.  It’s only a matter of time before Jesus comes up in a conversation, it’s only a matter of time before the regulars become friends.

To me this is one of the many ways the church can reveal itself.  This model might not be right for every setting, but i think for my generation it is a huge need.   Many people are not looking for a place to go, to sit, stand, sit, stand, repeat.  They are not looking for a place to go where they can listen to someone speak to them, they are looking for a safe place to be heard.  It is essential to realize that church is not a place we go to, it is a life we live.  The church is living, breathing, moving, and growing, if the majority of that happens once a week then it’s not really doing much the other 6 days.  We need to get the focus off of Sunday morning and learn to live in the church continually.  How we do this is for another blog post.

Worship music, a sermon, an alter call, announcements, they are great things, and all have been used by God.  But my question is are they necessary? What if people got together every Sunday morning, shared a cup of coffee together, listened to someone teach and then responded by talking about it in a smaller group?   Is this another viable option for our Sunday morning routine?

And what about leadership?  I propose a leadership team, not a single lead pastor.  Crazy you might say but hear me out.  When you have a team of people who own the vision, the responsibilities are shared.  Now a pastor can actually pastor (shepherd) people, and the teacher can actually teach people.  Elders can mentor and disciple the younger men and women.  When you’re in a group of leaders the will of God is able to be discerned in a clear way because now your thoughts are being bounced off of other people who share the same heart.  It’s no longer just about what one person is hearing, it’s about what the group is hearing.

This might be crazy, I might be in LA-LA land, but I don’t think I am.  I think this is possible, and I think it is necessary.

~Tim